2014 Reds

No manager news, more Bailey debate

The start of a new week brings barely a tweet about the Reds’ search for a new manager. Apparently the Reds’ brass is in Arizona, which happens to be where Bryan Price lives this time of year. One theory on the timing is the Reds won’t make an announcement until after the World Series. Another theory is they will make it before the World Series begins.

But what does no news mean? Maybe just that the Reds are good at keeping secrets. John Fay wonders if the lack of rumors indicates the club has only considered in-house candidates.

I’m beginning to wonder if the Reds are seriously considering any outside candidates to replace Dusty Baker. No names have leaked out, despite the fact that LCSs are going. With all the writers and scouts gathered together, that’s Petri dish for rumors.

It’s a reasonable process to begin with your own people and then branch out. Although that approach may be evidence the Reds aren’t letting their goal of change trump all the internal candidates. Baseball insider Peter Gammons tweeted a couple days ago that he’s hearing the name of Jim Riggleman, one of those in-house options.

There are a lot of industry rumblings that Jim Riggleman is going to end up with that Reds managerial job.

Brandon Kraeling at Red Reporter, makes a strong case for hiring Bryan Price, the other organization candidate. Kraeling observes the generational change taking place in managerial hiring across the major leagues and the implication of that for the Reds:

Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Lou Piniella have all hung up their awkward fitting old-man uniforms lately, and this season has now seen Charlie Manuel, Davey Johnson, and Dusty Baker leave teams where they’ve had success. The new wave has seen younger, less “experienced” managers given the reins of franchises, some even in high profile, win-now scenarios like Don Mattingly and Mike Matheny. Price, now 12 years deep as a pitching coach at the major league level, fits that mold, and the Reds would be wise to see the signals.

CBS reporter, Jon Heyman, who got the Dusty Baker firing completely wrong, has an interview with Paul O’Neill, who makes his own case for becoming the Reds’ manager.

The other question is the obvious lack of managing/coaching experience — though obviously, his experience as a player is almost universally positive, and as he (O’Neill) pointed out, there’s a new trend in baseball not to require past managerial work. “What does managing in double-A where you might have a couple prospects have to do with making decisions in the World Series?” he pointed out. O’Neill learned in the trenches from the best, watching Joe Torre, Buck Showalter and Lou Piniella. He wonders if that’s enough to win one of the best jobs in baseball.

Fay reports that O’Neill isn’t a serious candidate yet.

Someone from the Reds did contact Paul O’Neill, but it wasn’t Jocketty or owner Bob Castellini. At this point, O’Neill isn’t a serious candidate.

Aside from no news on the next manager, a bit of a disagreement among friends has broken out at the Cincinnati Enquirer about whether the Reds should trade a major starting pitcher. John Erardi writes today that the Reds, among other steps, should trade Homer Bailey or Aroldis Chapman for a bat.

Why do I say this? Because I feel like I’ve got to have a left fielder with pop, or a third baseman with pop, and the only way I can afford to get them is via trade. Even without Arroyo and with Bailey or Chapman gone, I feel I have five starters — Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Cingrani and either Bailey or Chapman, whichever one I don’t trade, with Stevenson coming strong. Not that I want to trade Bailey, but I’m not sure he’s someone who is worth losing to free agency. You have to shop him around. if you look at what the Rays got for James Shields (Wil Myers-plus) or the Brewers for Zack Grienke (Jean Segura and Johnny Hellweg), you have to think that the Reds could get one major-league-ready hot-shot kid in a deal involving Bailey, no? In fact, I wonder if Bailey could head up a package to acquire Jurickson Profar.

John Fay, Erardi’s colleague at the Enquirer, disagrees:

I would not trade Homer Bailey, even if Aroldis Chapman is moved to the starting rotation. I would not trade Chapman under any circumstance. Pitching is the key to success in the postseason. The Cardinals are the best hitting team in the National League, but they’re up 2-0 in NLCS because of their pitching shut down the Dodgers. Bailey has the type of stuff to be a shut-down guy. It took Max Scherzer of the Detroit five years to develop into an ace. Bailey’s dropped his ERA each of the last five years. It’s gone from 4.43 to 3.68 to 3.49 the last three years.

I’m on Fay’s side here. Pitching in the postseason is exactly why Aroldis Chapman needed to be a starter in 2012 and 2013. Same with 2014 and beyond.

Erardi’s two examples don’t quite fit. James Shields still had two years left on his contract at the time of the trade, Bailey only has one. So Homer is unlikely to fetch anything near Wil Myers. Is half of Wil Myers better than Todd Frazier?  The Greinke trade was made at the end of July, when the Brewers were nine games below .500 and the Angels in the thick of a division race. That’s an argument for holding on to Homer until the 2014 trade deadline and moving him then if the Reds are out of it.

For a team like the Reds that expects to contend for a championship next season, certain players are simply worth holding onto even at the risk of losing them to free agency. Like Shin-Soo Choo this year.

119 thoughts on “No manager news, more Bailey debate

  1. I realize that you have to give up something to get something, but I am so hesitant to give up starting pitching; especially pitching that is still on the rise. I almost prefer the Pirate example of allowing my pitching to keep me near the top of the standings and then acquiring a bat or two from teams who are out of it at the break.

    • @preach: Given WJ’s record of getting a bat or two from teams that are out of it at the break, I’d like to see something done in the off season. I’m also opposed to trading a starting pitcher, I believe a trade can be made without that.

      • @pinson343: Who do you have in mind because I’m not seeing it. To me, you trade from strength and I think one of three would have to be included: Homer, Chapman, Leake. My perceived trade value of each, in that order.

        If they can resign Choo, my thinking would change. I would focus on upgrading the bench – it shouldn’t be difficult.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: A case can be made to rank Chapman ahead of Bailey for two reasons. First, he has three more years of team control instead of one. That’s an enormous difference. Second, Chapman creates a higher level of fan interest because of that 100+ mph fastball.

          I’m not for trading either, but if the Reds are looking to trade an impact SP, Chapman would bring the most in return. Maybe some organizations would view him only as a closer (and therefore less valuable) but at least a few would see his potential as a starter, and at least take the gamble. Heck, I can even see an organization viewing a three-year closer as more valuable than a one-year starter.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: These are the same things everyone was saying last year before Mr Jocketty was able to pull off the Choo trade. That deal cost the organization DiDi Gregorious. And so far, he hasn’t been missed. (No pitching was necessary)

        • @TC: That deal also included three years of Drew Stubbs, who was a first round draft pick with major league experience. That’s not nothing.

          The Reds could clearly get another bat if they were willing to package one of their top 5 hitting prospects with one of their current major league starters, but would that really represent an upgrade?

        • @al: I think you might be overselling Stubbs there. He was a serious addition by subtraction type of guy.

          Also not too worried about Gregorious. He got off to a really hot start, but he spent the rest of the year watching his slash line take a nose dive.
          Line at the end of…
          April: .407/.448/.778
          May: .319/.374/.521
          June: .286/.348/.417
          July: .277/.345/.403
          August: .259/.332/.364
          September: .252/.332/.373

          Combine that with Didi making 13 errors in 894 innings. (Cozart made 14 in 1,308 innings.)

          And so far, I am not too worried about losing Didi yet. Maybe it turns out to haunt us, but so far looking good. He also didn’t play in about 60 games last season. That would have been 60 games that Izturis would have started if we had kept Didi, and that might be even more important of a thing to keep in mind.

        • @ToddAlmighty: I’m not saying Stubbs is great, and clearly Choo was a huge upgrade for the Reds this year. That said, he was a significant piece of the deal. If we’re making trade comps, I think you have to note that they got a young, controllable, big league player with upside.

  2. I’m on Fay’s side too, the Reds don’t want to trade a starting pitcher. The lack of starting pitching depth hurt the Reds in 2013. Fay gives the miserable stats of how the Reds did in 2013 once they had to reach beyond Cingrani.

    I don’t like the idea of trading either Homer or Chapman. Fay points out that Homer has improved every season over the last 4 or so. As for Chapman, two things: 1. You can’t trade for a talent like that, so why trade away a talent like that ? 2. Let’s see who the new manager is, Chapman might have a different role in 2014.

    • @pinson343: I don’t want to be negative, but what universe were you living in where lack of pitching depth cost the Reds this season? I’m pretty sure that most people would argue that starting pitching was the only real bright and shining star of the Reds’ season.

      • @Liptonian: Agreed. The front office let this season slip away when they didn’t upgrade the offense like the Pirates did. You’ve got to give up something to get something.

      • @Liptonian: Do you believe the Reds wouldn’t have won at least 5 more games with a healthy Marshall and/ or Broxton or a real replacement for them versus the arms they called up and used?

        And if one or two of those additional wins would have been versus the Cardinals, that would have made up the final difference, without allowing for any changes in that last dismal week.

      • @Liptonian: Agreed that starting pitching was the strong point of the Reds this season. But the Reds had something like a 2-5 record (see Fay article) when they had to go past Cingrani. Five losses matter.

        Also, with more starting pitching depth, the Reds could have used Cingrani more in the pen.

        “What universe was I living in ?” Did you really need to ask this to make your point ?

        • @pinson343: I think you are confusing pitching health with pitching depth. Not many teams can bring in their 6th starter and get the production that the Reds got from Cingrani. I would love to see the records of other teams’ 7th, 8th and 9th starting pitchers before you start complaining about depth. Most teams would kill to have the 6 pitchers the Reds were able to trot out over the year. The Reds were unfortunate in terms of injuries in the back end of the bullpen this year but that is what happens over the course of 162. I would venture that mismanagement of an already taxed bullpen and head-scratching lineup decisions cost the Reds more than those 5 games that were lost by the minor league pitchers.

        • @Liptonian: Health and depth are related in the obvious way. If someone gets hurt, you need depth.

          I agree with you about the excellent production that the Reds got from Cingrani, and also agree that, by the time you get down to the number 7 starter, most teams are going to have a dismal record.

          But this discussion is about 2014, not 2013. And in that sense I agree with Fay (as does Steve above). An assumption is that Bronson is not coming back. If you then trade Homer or Leake, you’re down from 6 to 4 proven starters. You then would need to trade for one or two.

          But as I say below, I’m not opposed to any trade that gets a good return.

        • @pinson343: That’s not what you said in your original post. You said “The lack of starting pitching depth hurt the Reds in 2013.” That is the part that I disagree with. I never advocated for trading away pitching for the very reason you just outlined. It’s not fair for you to change what you’re arguing half way through.

        • @pinson343: I agree with you. The starting pitching was the Reds’ strongest asset, but the inevitable injuries cost them late in the season. Trading some of that strength would invite disaster and, much as they need more hitting, they shouldn’t sacrifice a starter to get it, unless, of course, they have a viable replacement.

    • I’m on Fay’s side too, the Reds don’t want to trade a starting pitcher. The lack of starting pitching depth hurt the Reds in 2013. Fay gives the miserable stats of how the Reds did in 2013 once they had to reach beyond Cingrani.

      Another point that rarely gets mentioned is that if the Reds had had more SP depth, when they were dying in the 7th and/or 8th innings after Broxton went south, Cingrani would have made an excellent guy to drop into the pen in an emergency role. He was a proven reliever with a propensity to throw strikes and miss bats which is what they needed.

  3. One thing that concerns me is the fact that Choo, who I want back very badly, is a Boras client, so the Reds might have to wait well into the offseason to find out if Choo will re-sign. By then, trade partners for whoever the Reds might be willing to deal might already have filled their needs. … Acting quickly might require going a different direction, and that’s when I wonder how the Reds really get the bat they need without moving a starting pitcher.

  4. I think trading Bailey makes sense if they can get good value in the form of a hitter. It makes sense to me because Bailey is going to be very expensive this year, and it’s probably his last year as a Red.

    Since we have enough starting pitching without him (if Chapman goes to the rotation) I think the 2014 Reds are better with another bat, and that the bat that we could get for him in trade would be worth more than the draft pick we could get if he leaves as a free agent.

    My disagreement is that we should be trying to get a prospect for him. I would shoot more for an established guy on a team looking to add pitching, like the Rangers or Angels. I would go for win-now.

    Or, I could see trading him for a prospect and then signing Choo. That would be sort of like trading Bailey for Choo, because you would be clearing about $10mil off the books, which would help with Choo.

    • @al:

      I think trading Bailey makes sense if they can get good value…

      And this is the nugget in the nutshell.

      What about a Bailey or Leake + Phillips + Broxton for Kemp + Julio Urias + $30MM? Kemps’ recent spat of serious injuries scares the daylights out of me, but that’s a buying low (or at least as low as Kemp will probably get), high risk/high reward option.

    • @al: I still think Greg Reynolds is a nice piece for depth. Yes, he got lit up against the Cubs and had a poor outing against SF, but he did well in the other 3 games including an 8 inning gem against the Rockies.

    • @al: Two points: We can’t assume that Chapman will successfully fill Bailey’s rotation spot. He’s a largely unknown quantity as a starter–good in Cuba, mediocre in triple A, good in very limited exposure in spring training(!). Yes, he throws hard; that allowed him to be a decent closer, but not the best in baseball. As a starter, he won’t throw as hard, almost certainly. Maybe he will quickly learn to control a couple of secondary pitches and be stellar, and maybe he won’t. Second point: I don’t agree about prospects: for the Reds, or most teams, the only way to get good and stay good is by building the organization. All in usually doesn’t work, but being good every year eventually does.

  5. Of all the pitchers to trade, Mike Leake makes the most sense. He has two years left of team control and has consistently pitched at or better than his expected numbers indicate he should. I’ve been screaming for a Leake for Aoki trade, given Milwaukee’s crowded outfield and Cincinnati’s need to replace Choo.

    I also think the Reds should seriously consider trading for David Price. An offer of Hamilton, Corcino and Travieso is about as good as anyone could offer the Rays.

    I would also make Arroyo a qualifying offer to assure depth or draft pick compensation.

    • @David: I agree that Leake makes the most sense to trade, even though I love Leake. I like Aoki and think that Leake could make that happen.

      As for trading for Price, I don’t think Hamilton, Corcino, and Travieso gets it done. I’m not even sure about trading that much for 1 year of Price.

      I am not sure the Reds can make a qualifying offer to Arroyo. That offer would have to be around $13.5-million. If I’m Arroyo, I’d accept that offer. Do you want to pay your 4th or 5th starter that kind of money?

  6. I’m with David–trading/selling high on Leake makes the most sense….but only after prioritizing Chapman’s role. A year ago, Leake was nearly worthless. It’s a bigger risk to keep him because of the concerns about regression. He needs to go to the NL West, where the big ballparks and his bat will play up. With his arbitration raise coming, his salary would be about the same as Carlos Quentin, who’s also signed for 2 more years and is 31. Quentin hits righties and lefties equally well and his K/BB is nearly equal. While it’s true he hasn’t been the model of health, his mid-.800s OPS would play up big time at GABP……and he’d come much cheaper than Ethier or Kemp.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: I could see Qentin if the Pads would give him up, though I’m not sure they would.

      I also like Adrian Beltre. The Rangers want a spot to play Profar, and Beltre would be a big bat to add to the lineup. They could either deal Todd Frazier, or add him to the second base and left field mixes.

      One thing that occurs to me is that if the Reds go the trade route, they will probably need to make a few trades.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: I don’t know how I feel about Bautista. I know he never tested positive or anything, but the guy was 29, had never hit more than 16 HR in a season, never had an OPS+ at 100 or higher, and never slugged over .420 in a season either. Then all of a sudden in his age 29 and 30 season, he hits 54 and 43 HR, slugs .617 and .608, wins back-to-back silver sluggers.

      He gets an AWFUL lot of people suspecting he’s on steroids, and then his HRs immediately dip back down to 27 and 28. His SLG goes down to .527 and .498. His OPS in 2012 drops over 100 from 2010 and his OPS from 2013 drops over 200 from 2011.

      Just think that’s mighty fishy, is all. He’s in sharp descent back towards the nobody he was before his power explosion.

  7. …..and if you want to get really bold, you see what the Blue Jays want for Jose Bautista. He’s getting $15mil per season for 2 more years. His bat would slot nicely between Votto and Bruce. The Blue Jays, despite finishing last, believe they’re just a couple pieces away from contending. More pitching is what they need.

  8. If Homer is held until the trade deadline before being traded next season, the acquiring team won’t be able to offer him a qualifying offer in the offseason in order to get a compensation draft pick if someone else signs him, thereby significantly reducing his value as a commodity. Similarly, if the Reds were going to trade him at the deadline, they’d be asking for the equivalent value in return of what they’d expect to be able to draft during the comp round in 2014, and most teams would be unwilling to meet those demands midseason.

    If Homer’s going to be traded, he should absolutely be traded this offseason. It’s the only real time the Reds’ asking price and other teams’ willingness to meet it would match up.

    Also, while James Shields’ 2nd year of team control certainly helped the Rays acquire Wil Myers, it also netted them Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, too, both of whom were consensus Top 100 prospects. There’s a very real shot that the Reds could get a prospect of Myers’ caliber in exchange for Homer, and that’s probably what they should do. One glimpse at 2013′s Pensacola and Louisville rosters should ensure it happens.

    • @Kevin Mitchell is Batman: As much as I like Homer Bailey, if I thought the Reds could get the equivalent of Wil Myers straight up, I’d be for it. It doesn’t hurt to look for that trade, but it’s unlikely. You left out Wade Davis, who the Royals pretty clearly expected to be in their rotation. There’s a reason virtually every analyst and GM crushed Kansas City for that trade.

      The mid-season trade discussion isn’t particularly relevant since it would only happen if the Reds had fallen out of contention, which I don’t see. I was only saying the Greinke trade wasn’t analogous. Even more so because the draft pick rules have changed.

      As I said, I’m basically not for trading Bailey either now or in midseason (Wil Myers fantasy notwithstanding). If one truly believes that compensation draft picks are high in value, that’s an additional positive for holding on to Homer.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Perhaps this is just my mean streak working, but if they do trade Homer, I say trade him to one of the North Eastern teams like Philly or the Mets. He may think differently about Cincinnati and its fans.

        The Yankees might make a good dance partner.

  9. I could see the Reds doing something like this:

    Trade Phillips for a prospect, mostly to clear his money.
    Sign Choo using Phillips’s money plus more.
    Trade Bailey for Beltre and cash.
    Move Frazier to 2B.

    That would ad some to payroll, but not a ton. Less than they added last year.

    Then you start Hamilton in CF and platoon Ludwick and Choo in LF.

    Vs RH:

    Hamilton
    Choo
    Votto
    Bruce
    Beltre
    Frazier
    Mesoraco
    Cozart

    Vs LH:

    Hamilton
    Votto
    Mesoraco
    Beltre
    Bruce
    Ludwick
    Frazier
    Cozart

      • @TC: Yeah, save the money if you are going to platoon Choo. More likely would be start him every day but drop him to 6 or 7 in the lineup against LHP and maintain Ludwick as a bat off the bench. His (perceived) better defense in LF over Ludwick would make up for the marginal increase in offense Ludwick would be over Choo, I think.

        • @prjeter: About 80% of pitchers are RH, so saying “platoon” is not to say that Ludwick would be starting half the games. Choo would start roughly 4 out of every 5 games and play probably around 130 games total.

          And the Reds would be better, since he pretty much stinks vs. lefties.

          Obviously, he can play every day. But if you have an $8.5mil albatross sitting on your bench, and he could make you better against lefties, why not use him?

      • @TC: Why’s that? Ludwick has a .774 career OPS vs lefties, Shin Soo Choo has a .680 career mark, which comes with zero power.

        Now don’t get me wrong. I was against the Ludwick move from the start, and I wish that they didn’t have to pay him next year. But since they aren’t going to be able to get anyone to take his salary, they might as well get something out of him, and the best way I can see to do that is to get Choo off the field vs. lefties. At least the tougher lefties.

        • @al: Logically you’re right of course, but consider the cost of that platoon and the havoc it causes on the lineup.

        • @TC: I think this is an interesting point to discuss. Richard Fitch had a nice post a few days ago about Dusty’s use of defined roles for guys, and those roles being a major part of his management strategy.

          The question I have is how come other managers were able to stack their lineups with lefties against us without the sky falling?

          These are pro ball players, do you really think that it causes that much havoc to have two different primary lineups, one for righties and one for lefties? I feel like adults, who know a lot more about the reality of platoon splits than we ever will, can grasp that they might hit a few spots lower or higher depending on the starter.

          I hope that the new manager isn’t so wed to “roles,” and can get a little more flexibility with putting players in the place they can best succeed.

        • @al: Richard Fitch had that right: Down with roles ! IMO Dusty’s obsession with roles was his number one failing.

        • I hope that the new manager isn’t so wed to “roles,” and can get a little more flexibility with putting players in the place they can best succeed.

          I’ve been watching the post game shows on the playoffs, and what you are saying is the exact same thing that the Cards manager, Mike Matheny has been saying. Not just at the plate, but defensively as well. I hate it that the Cards manager gets it. But that is probably why this is there 3rd NLCS in 4 or 5 years.

        • @al: You always make a lot of sense, this time too. But I would be opposed to a strict platoon of Choo against lefties. I’m definitely OK, as you suggest, with sitting him against tough lefties.

          The problem with a strict platoon is that if Choo doesn’t see lefties, he’ll hit even worse against them. As it was, his hitting against lefties picked up as the season went on and got closer to his career splits.

          One other consideration is that Choo plays much better defense and has a much stronger arm.

          Not that one AB should matter, but I loved that HR against Watson, a tough lefty, in the WC game.

          But I agree with giving Ludwick a decent amount of playing time in LF, even with Choo on the team. I think he’ll hit again in 2014, not like 2012, but some power and OBP. I like him as a 4th OFer and PHer.

  10. Please No on Riggleman.

    As far as Bailey goes, I don’t think anyone save Votto should be completely off the table. Maybe even Votto should not be. I don’t think you’re going to get a deal for Votto or Bailey that anyone would say, ok that’s a good deal, but I think I would listen to any deal out there.

    My main reason for saying this is that I don’t see right now how next year’s roster is better than it was this year. I don’t know if Baker’s management cost us 6 games this year, but as it stands the current roster is not 6 games better than it was this year.

    • @tnirishfan: And why should Votto be off the table? That $220M+ over the next decade would buy a lot of players; and since Votto is actually probably worth it (if anyone is), there should be a good market for him.

      My take on the the whole Votto situation is that the Reds did the deal for the Votto they saw before the knee injury. They thought they were buying a decade of Albert Pujols. In that role, they convinced themselves they could afford Votto. The Votto we saw this year is too expensive for the Reds at the price the they signed him for, because he is getting the lion’s share of the money they had set aside for a guy with the higher slugging % part of OPS.

      • @OhioJim: I think the business aspect of having a “face of the franchise” helped contribute to Votto getting the contract. If (and this is a big if) he turns out to be the next Barry Larkin, in terms of fan appreciation, an average of .300/.410/.480 over the next 7-8 years would make the contract “worth it” for the Reds, I think. Just because he’s expensive doens’t mean he needs to be Albert Pujols. As long as he is producing 6+ WAR and providing stability for the fan base, I think BC will view it as a good investment.

      • I think it’s too early to determine that his slugging percentage is going down. Now if it’s down again in ’14, I think the Reds have a legitmate concern. It’ll be the difference between him being a #3 hitter or a #2 hitter.

        • @Bill Lack: Much is made of the fact that with the #1 and #2 OPB guys in the league batting one and three slots ahead of him, that BP was bound to drive in runs.

          Conversely virtually nothing is mentioned about Votto having the #2 OBP man two slots ahead of him but Votto not driving in runs even though he led the league in OBP. And when until late August, BP was clearing the bases in front of him, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to say that Votto was merely being pitched around.

        • @OhioJim:

          Conversely virtually nothing is mentioned about Votto having the #2 OBP man two slots ahead of him but Votto not driving in runs even though he led the league in OBP.

          I’ve seen a LOT mentioned about Votto not driving in runs this past season, even Votto himself has discussed that issue.

          And when until late August, BP was clearing the bases in front of him, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to say that Votto was merely being pitched around.

          During the first half of the season when BP was driving in runs, Votto had Cozart hitting in the #2 hole. If Choo singled, walked, reached on an error or HBP, Cozart would sacrifice, leaving 1B open and Votto would receive an IBB or be pitched around. If Choo got an XBH, 1B would also be open and Votto received an IBB on would be pitched around. Those were all PA where Votto had no reasonable chance of driving in runs.

          Votto, self-admittedly, should have performed better than he did at the plate during 2013, but the reasoning, that one baserunner (Choo) was routinely on base when Votto came to the plate compared to two baserunners (Choo and Votto) when BP came to the plate, created the same opportunities for Votto and BP to drive in runs just doesn’t hold water.

  11. Bruce should be untouchable coming off a 5 WAR season and only barely hitting his age 27 season at the start of 2014. In my opinion Bruce, Votto, and Stephenson are the organization’s most untouchable players. The only reason Latos and Bailey aren’t there is the uncertainty of re-signing them.

    • @Jason1972: I agree with this. Bruce has shown improvement in his hitting every year. No reason to think he’ll regress. His upside is MVP, his downside is 2.5 WAR, probably. So, he’s going to be solid. Votto is Votto and it’s unlikley anyone else will see the same value we do in his long contract (Face of franchise for a smallish market team, etc), and Stephenson has too high of an upside to deal for anyone short of another MVP-caliber bat.

  12. I am more inclined to sign the pitchers and hire a hitting coach. A lot of the Reds problems can be fixed with some common sense in the batter’s box. If we can upgrade in left field, fine … we’ve only seen 23 left fielders since 2009.

    • @Johnu1: I think this is a real underrated part of the offseason. I think Frazier and BP and probably Mesoraco could benefit from some good coaching. Those guys have natural talent and lots of room to improve. I don’t think it’s out of the question that a competent hitting coach could improve the three by 2-3 runs altogether.

  13. My other concern about trading Bailey is due to how Chapman has been (mis)managed in his time with the Reds. Can he really start? I’m not so sure that he would be anything more than a three inning wonder per start. I’m not saying that for certain, but I think it’s a shame that at this point in his career we really don’t know what we are working with. It’s very possible we may need Bailey in the rotation and have no place other than closer for Chappy. I certainly don’t think Broxton has any business closing games (I thought the contract was stupid at the time, and I haven’t seen anything that would change my mind about that). I personally thought Marshall was actually brought in for that role until we signed Madsen. I’d have to see where his arm strength, sharpness on his curve, and confidence level is before I make any decisions about where to use him in the pen.

    I haven’t seen enough of Beltre lately to make an educated assessment on him, but I am certainly intrigued about having him at third, moving Frazier to second, and trying to use any savings from dealing Brandon to re-signing Choo.

  14. If Chappy isn’t starting, he needs to be traded. I do not want Hamilton traded. Too much upside.

    Can Frazier play 2b? Don think so. Signing Michael Young would be nice.

    • @jessecuster44: Why don’t you think Frazier could play 2nd base? From what I recall, many 3B and SS have sucecssfully transitioned to 2B. It’s an easier position to field than either 3B or SS. He may not be Brandon Phillips, but I think he’d be just fine there, if his bat warranted keeping him in the lineup at all costs.

      • @prjeter:

        I don’t think it’s fair to say 2nd is easier to field than 3rd. Range is much more of a factor at 2nd. Not to say Todd couldn’t do it. I bet that he could, and I would be intrigued with the addition of Beltre.

        • @JMac1984: I have to agree. I was primarily a throughout the many years that I played but in my adult years, I played everywhere on the diamond besides SS and CF. 2B was probably the hardest for me. It was especially difficult to turn the DP with my back to the runner. I was shown a couple dozen times how to do it but it was always a challenge. The range demands for 2B were also different than 3B. At 3B, quick reactions and soft hands were the main attributes. At 2B, foot-speed plays a much larger role. That said, I think Frazier could probably make the transition. I believe he got some work there in the minors.

          I’m not advocating or arguing against any trades at the moment because I just don’t have enough information.

        • @JMac1984: Perhaps playing 2nd base and 3rd base well are equal in difficulty, but I still believe it’s easier to be a serviceable 2nd baseman than a serviceable 3rd baseman. Longer to react to balls, shorter throws, etc.

          Double plays are probably tough, but so is charging and barehanding grounders and throwing to first.

          Both positions have their high skill-threshold plays, but the basics of 2nd are easier than 3rd in my opinion. :) I appreciate your right to disagree, however!

        • @prjeter: All I can say is that I struggled much more at 2B than at 3B. My particular skills (quick reactions, soft hands, strong and accurate arm) and my particular weaknesses (slow of foot, inability to jump well, etc) were just very obvious between the two positions. For me personally, if I wasn’t catching, I was much more suited to play 3B.

          Like I said though. Frazier was a SS so maybe he’d be very good at 2B.

  15. I would be careful about trading away pitchers. Assuming Bronson and his 200 innings walks, the Reds have 5 starters in Cueto, Cingrani, Latos, Bailey and Leake. That’s a pretty good group, but Cueto missed most of 2013, Cingrani was out at the end of the year and Latos has bone chips in his elbow.

    They could each pitch 200 innings next year, but counting on it happening would be a mistake. If someone goes down, the Reds have to turn to Reynolds and maybe Stephenson if he is ready later in the year. Or figure out some way to get Chapman into the rotation.

    Part of the reason the rotation was strong this year was because Cingrani stepped up to replace Cueto when he went down. Thinning out the staff too much leaves the Reds vulnerable.

    • @MikeC: I don’t think you ever have too much MLB-seasoned pitching, regardless if they are starters or middle relievers. Dealing from strength … nah … personally, I deal my weaknesses. Find some guys in the system who can hit and this team is good to go.

  16. What’s everyone’s opinion on trading a Cozart and signing Stephen Drew who will be a free agent?? Still keep a solid infield glove but more consistent approach. I like trading for Beltre as well. Time to part ways BP. Todfather to second

    • @bgregist: I just don’t see Drew as a big upgrade over Cozart, especially considering the dollars it would likely take to sign him. He’ll be 31 next year as well.

      I may be slightly biased as I don’t care for the brothers Drew very much.

  17. So many people love to talk about how pitching and defense means success in the post season. The Reds’ strength the past 3 seasons have supposedly been pitching and defense. How much have those meant to post season success?

    It is still fact, the best “team” wins. You have to have some kind of offense. And, the Reds have shown that their offense can be shut down. They were no-hit by Halladay, they Giants destroyed their offense in Cincinnati. Pittsburgh didn’t allow much of anything this season.

    Now, given that, I can understand not trading Bailey. But, then, 2 things:

    1) If you don’t make any move to bring in offense from the outside, you are counting on players on this team making adjustments to improve. And, the trend with most all of them as been to get worse, at least under Baker and Jacoby. The new coaching could help, sure. But, will it? Will we be banking on it?

    2) If we don’t extend him, we will probably lose him to FA and get nothing more than a draft pick that may not pan out, where we could get a proven player now. If we do extend him, do we extend Latos, or lose him to FA? I don’t think we will be able to afford extending both after next season.

    It is a tough choice. You have to consider, if you want something, you have to give up something. I wouldn’t want to trade Homer. But, I would listen to offers. We may even look to sign him first, then trade him, allowing a team to know how much they will pay this upcoming year. So, in short, it will all depend upon what the trade is for. The trade may even come late. Like, in ST, after we are able to see if Chapman is going to make some sort of effective starter. Whose going to be our closer, etc. There are just so many variables. I mean, like, for example, Homer for SS Troy T from Colorado sounds great. But, then, Troy would cost a boatload of money. But, then, what if we let go of a boatload of money as well, like BP, at the same time? Just so many ways the Reds can go. Lots of options.

    • @steveschoen: I think you have to bank on improved coaching. First off, it’s the most practical approach. The upgrades don’t have to be that severe.

      I agree that the hitting has been pitiful in recent playoffs but you gotta have pitching to get you there.

      Perhaps it’s a hypothetical trade, but I’d say 2 things in life are sure: Votto is a Redleg and Tulo is a Rockie.

  18. From John Fay:

    I just talked to Walt Jocketty. He didn’t have any news on the manager front. But he said the Reds are pretty much out of the running for Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero.

    “We scouted him extensively and had a lot of discussions,” Jocketty said. “But I don’t believe anything will happen.”

    I guess we can check that option from our off season wish lists.

  19. Anyone heard any rumors regarding Dusty be courted as replacement commissioner? My bartender was talking about it last night saying he had heard it was going to happen, but I can find no references on ESPN and a quick Google turned up nothing.

    • @Zach: I was happily reading along and then I hit Zach’s little nugget. I had to wipe coffee off my computer screen … note to self, never drink and surf … How ludicrous I thought and then the always more rational second thought kicked in … why not? His passion for the game is there … and we wouldn’t hear the “old school” rant because at 64 he’d be replacing an 80-year-old used car dealer! Promote him to league office and give him a little OJT for the next 14-15 months ’til Bud rides off …

  20. WJ does his best work in the winter, at least since coming to the Reds. This winter will be no different. Latos and Marshall two years ago and Choo last winter. This winter will come a blockbuster trade from WJ. I have no doubts. A 3rd place finish, especially after the way the Reds laid down and died at the end, left a very bad taste. A re-vamped offense is the order of the day this winter. Only the 1B and RF spots are safe. All other positions can and will be reviewed very thoroughly and carefully. I can see one big blockbuster or two separate good size trades coming.
    Just changing the manager and coaching staff is not enough to get the Reds offense in gear for next year.

  21. The Reds have won 90+ games 3/4 seasons with essentially the same core group of players. A totally revamped offense isn’t necessary, nor is trading key players such as Bailey or Phillips. While I think Leake should be dealt to find a replacement for Choo, it is conditioned upon Jocketty trading for another top flight pitcher such as David Price. Price has two years of control left, and I would gladly give up 6 years of Hamilton, Travieso, et al. for him over Leake. If Hamilton isn’t dealt, he is and has been penciled in as the opening day CF.

    • @David: Don’t know about Travieso, specifically, but I certainly wouldn’t give up Hamilton or further empty the minors, particularly because the impact of your proposed trades gives us only some improvement over a decent pitcher, but probably also results in a lesser alternative to Choo. In short, further weakening the organizational depth for, at best, very modest gain at the mlb level.

  22. One last note, which I haven’t seen mentioned by anyone, I apologize if it was… Did the Reds really regress or was the fact that the Reds replaced 16 games against the Astros with additional NL opponents the difference in the W/L record?

    • @David: I feel like the Reds didn’t regress much at all when the Astros leaving is factored into it. The team actually had a slightly improved run differential in 2013 compared to 2012. The issue here wasn’t the Reds getting worse, but the Cardinals and especially the Pirates improving from 2012 to 2013. The Cardinals scored more at least 77 more runs this year than every other NL team, and if you exclude the Rockies (due to Coors Field) then that number jumps to 95 runs. That is an absurd level of offense. Would have taken a small miracle for the Reds to win the division this year, even with all the excellent pitching they ran out there.

      • @dc937: Yep, this. Cards were better and Pirates were WAY better. The decrease in games against the Astros also would have hurt the Cards and Pirates, so that effect isn’t relevant.

  23. Thinking if Choo is a one-and-doner in Cincinnati, who could the Reds get to replace him that isn’t name BHam.
    Jacoby Ellsbury comes to mind quickly, with the good post season he is having. But they are both represented by Borass. I saw this in the Boston Herald about Ellsbury, and it certainly applies if the Reds are thinking the same.

    http://bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/boston_red_sox/2013/10/red_sox_will_have_to_let_jacoby_ellsbury_go

    The gist of the story is don’t get caught up in any feel-good hype about an older player and don’t over-extend and over pay for the back years of those 5,6,7 or 8 year contracts just to get 2-3 good seasons at the front end.
    The Reds can’t sign Choo, or Ellsbury, for anything past 3-4 years. It just doesn’t make good business sense. And that might be where BP fits into this. It might make better business sense to trade him this winter if they can.
    The Reds and WJ will have to be very careful with their own extensions and in the free agent market this winter, if they go that route.

    • @WVRedlegs: I would like picking up Ellsbury, he can play. But not if it means one of those 5 year or more contracts.

      BP is one of my favorites and I’d miss him, but it would business sense, as you say, to trade him now. And I say that even believing that he might have a better year in 2014 than he did in 2013.

  24. Reply to Liptonian above:
    Agreed that starting pitching was the strong point of the Reds this season. But the Reds had something like a 2-5 record (see Fay article) when they had to go past Cingrani. Five losses matter.

    Also, with more starting pitching depth, the Reds could have used Cingrani more in the pen.

    “What universe was I living in ?” Did you really need to ask this to make your point ?

    • @pinson343: Just to clarify …. The Reds winning as many as 90 games in 2013 was thanks to their starting pitching, by far their main strength. They were 3rd in the NL in ERA, remarkable given that Cueto was out for almost the whole season.

      I’m not really opposed to trading a starting pitcher, or anyone else, if the return justifies it. But suppose the Reds trade Homer for an outstanding return. Assuming that Arroyo is gone and that Chapman is a question mark, that would leave the Reds w. 4 proven starters (I regard Cingrani as proven). Obviously, they would need to make another trade or two to fix that.

      Based on selling high, I would regard Leake as the most tradeable among the starters.

  25. David, I agree with your take on Leake. I like your summary of the Reds offense. I am not a fan of trading for Price, as I think Chapman is that same player. Our rotation of:

    Latos
    Chapman
    Cueto
    Cingrani
    Bailey

    is absolutely formidable. Price does not make it better for the cost. And Stephenson is on the way for 2015 if Bailey doesn’t resign and to be a 6th starter in 2014.

    Hamilton is not a player that I am interested in trading. His speed is unique. I would rather have him hitting in front of Jay and Joey for the next 6 years that having an additional left handed pitcher who we don’t need.

    Now adding the Billy show to the Reds offense makes the most sense of what we can see today. It will be interesting to see if Heisey ever takes a step beyond being a bench player which has been his rep since arrival.

    Leake would provide of bat in my world

    • @reaganspad: Maybe it was the Willy Taveras experiment, but I have soured on speed first players. They never seem to pan out. Whether its Taveras or Dee Gordon, etc. Taveras “hit” .239/.308/.340 in 79 games in the PCL. He only stole 11 bases and is 31. Proof that he still can’t hit AND speed dies quickly.

      Here are the comparisons for the two players:

      WT 18 – .263/.356/.332 (36 SB – rk)
      BH 18 – .205/.253/.277 (14 SB – rk)

      WT 19 – .271/.317/.367 (29 SB – A)
      BH 19 – .318/.383/.456 (48 SB – rk)

      WT 20 – .265/.385/.355 (54 SB – A)
      BH 20 – .278/.340/.360 (103 SB – A)

      WT 21 – .282/.381/.350 (57 SB – A+)
      BH 21 – .311/.410/.420 (155 SB A+/AA)

      WT 22 – .335/.402/.386 (55 SB – AA)
      BH 22 – .256/.308/.343 (75 SB – AAA)

      Taveras played regularly in MLB from age 23 to 27 and took a nose dive at age 25. He had three seasons of positive WAR, accounting for just 5.1/5.8 WAR (BRef/Fan) in his career. Why do we believe Hamilton will be so shockingly better that we shouldn’t trade him right now?

      • @David: Hamilton just might be shockingly better. He has only recently converted to switch hitting (from batting only RHed), which drags his numbers down. But his LHed hitting is progressing.

        He was a super all-around athlete with not much of a baseball focus when the Reds drafted him. He’s developed as fast as could be expected.

        When Taveras was with the Reds, anyway, he would hit one can of corn fly ball (or pop up) after another. Most of the times he hit the ball on the ground was when he bunted, with the IF playing way in. Hamilton, at least when batting LHed, is a slap hitter who tries to hit the ball on the ground. And in limited major league ABs (too few to really know) he’s shown he can slap the ball past a drawn-in IF.

        From the small amount I’ve seen, Hamilton runs the bases and hits with intelligence and confidence. That was not my impression of Taveras.

        • @pinson343: It appears the disagreement here isn’t over skills but utilization of skills. Taveras was capable of stealing 100 bases. It’s just hard to steal first base.

  26. Bailey won’t be 28 until May 2014. Sign Bailey.
    Given the run support, or lack thereof, for Bailey this year, I bet he is waiting to see what the Reds do to improve the offense before he even discusses an extension.

  27. Another issue is that the Reds have been short on organizational depth, as far as starting pitching goes. They were very fortunate to not need more than 5 starters in 2012. I’ll grant that Reynolds was a decent no. 7 in 2013. From there the dropoff was deep and scary. I’ve read that on average a team uses 9 starting pitchers in a season.

    This is a problem at the minor league level, and hopefully Corcino and others will be ready to fill in, in 2014. But if a starter is traded and Bronson leaves, this has to be considered. It’s fixable but just saying.

  28. David,

    Even your analysis shows that Billy, who took up switch hitting just this year and played AAA ball all year, was further along than WT who was at AA at age 22. Billy had a problem on one side of the plate this year.

    He gets back to his age 20 season, which I think is reasonable, everyone will love him:

    BH 20 – .278/.340/.360 (103 SB – A)

    If he is not capable of that 340 OBP, then he sb at AAA. Billy is a unique talent in that he will be on 3rd base quite often when starting at first.

    That is one reason I do not think the biggest need is #4 hitter (Jay Bruce) but a good #2. I am not looking for the next young great power hitter that costs us 5 players. I think we have one of those in Mesoraco.

    I am looking for the next Marco Scutaro, a Vet who knows how to play the game, will lead, walk more than strike out and hit #2 letting Billy be Billy by taking enough pitches to let him steal.

    I would trade Mike Leake today for a Marco Scutaro type player and be done with my roster for 2014

    • @reaganspad: I think Hamilton will become an excellent base stealer eventually. Currently, he’s just faster than the ball. The one time he was thrown out, he ran on the first pitch. Bad plan. So, the point being, whoever is the No. 2 hitter needs to be able to control his at-bats enough to give Hamilton a chance to read the pitcher. That won’t take long but if our new hitting coach is a hack-master, it won’t matter Who’s on first. Well, Who IS on first.

      • @David: You are correct David. Hamiltom converted to switch hitting in Rookie ball in 2010. He was a natural RH hitter, but Delino DeShields wanted to better utilize his speed by adding LH hitting to his offensive weapons. Hamilton has now been switch hitting for 4 complete seasons, so what you see is what you get regarding his switch hitting. Based on Hamilton’s improvement at every level of play, including his late improvement during the 2nd half of the Bats season, his hitting will probably improve beyond his .256/.308/.343 slash at AAA last season, but he is not major league ready yet. Give the man another season or half season at AAA to continue refining his hitting before adding him to the 25 man roster.

      • @David: Thanks David, I had understood that he began last year. my mistake.

        You know though it does not impact how I view guys that can contribute. Billy might need a few months of AAA, but after the taste of the show, maybe he is ready to blow away every one like he did 2 years ago and claim a job this spring

  29. Last night, Miguel Cabrera failed to get the runner in from third with less than two outs in a 1-0 game. He chased a couple of pitches way out of the strike zone that a more patient hitter might have taken, giving himself a hitter’s count and/or drawing a walk that would have loaded the bases.

    Cabrera’s a great hitter. But he failed in this clutchiest of clutch at bats, and if he hadn’t have been so anxious to personally get the RBI maybe his team would have gotten a better result. The lessons: 1) Baseball is hard. 2) Even the best hitters, even the ones renowned for being “clutch”, fail more often than they succeed. 3) Trying to be the “RBI guy” can indeed have negative consequences. Please keep these lessons in mind when watching Joseph Daniel Votto next season.

    • @Eric the Red: You are kidding right? Cabrera routinely takes those outside pitches the other way for hits. He swung at 1 unreachable pitch. he’s playing somewhat hurt ( no legs). He didn’t watch strike 3 go down the middle of the plate. He’s been money all year in those situations, and now you want him to go up there, change his approach, and look for a walk?

    • @Eric the Red: And when David Ortiz just grounded out with two men on, he had decided in advance not to use his “clutch hitting” powers since it was only the third inning and his team was down 5-0. If it were the 8th inning, or a 3 run HR would have tied it, then this “clutch” hitter would have come through, but who needs a 3 run HR when you’re down 5 in the early innings?

    • @Eric the Red: Say what you want about Lance McAlister, but I think he is dead on regarding the Votto issue. I think Votto didn’t trust his ability to drive the ball after surgery, and so he was being far more selective with pitches he could place.

      First, Votto’s pitch recognition is insane. He is a freak of nature. Second, he very well may be the best pure hitter in baseball. Third, if Lance is correct, being unsure of your ability to drive pitches post-surgery is totally appropriate and, likely, temporary.

      I don’t buy into the low RBI numbers. That said, Votto struck out looking over 40 times. His Z-Swing% is way down from his MVP year. I don’t want Votto to be more aggressive by expanding the strike zone. I want Votto to be more aggressive with pitches IN the strike zone. Votto is such an elite hitter that he should swing on hittable balls in the zone, more likely than not, good things will happen.

  30. What about WJ picking up Detroit backup SS Jose Iglesias as a free agent signing this winter? He is only 23 years old. Only 23 and a FA, very rare. I saw he was on a FA to-be list for this winter. He is Cuban, and could be a buddy for Chapman. He is supposed to have a good glove. Good speed. He had great numbers at Boston before being traded at the deadline to Detroit. Decent numbers at Detroit. Detroit has Peralta at SS.
    This could enable the Reds to move Cozart to 2B and then trade BP for an area of need.
    I just don’t know much about Iglesias, only that he was a highly regarded prospect in the Boston organization. He kind of was made expendable by Boston’s super-prospect at SS in Bogearts.

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