Redleg Nation Banana Phone

Redleg Nation Rain Delay – Ask editors your questions

Looks like the Reds game will be delayed for a while. A few of the editors of Redleg Nation will be on this thread to answer your questions. Please keep them within the usual site guidelines and focused on the Reds, or baseball more broadly. Would also like to get some first-time posters, too.

We’ll announce ourselves once we’re here to answer questions, using this thread. I’m expecting Nick Kirby and Mike Maffie to join us, and hopefully a few others will drop by.

We will start at 7 p.m. and go until (a) the game starts or (b) we get tired of it.

Mike may not be here too long, something about a stats final exam tomorrow. Those pesky Ivy League institutions and their degrees. I checked and he said xFIP isn’t on the test.

Direct your questions to any of us or just in general.

96 thoughts on “Redleg Nation Rain Delay – Ask editors your questions

        • I can hang around for a few. Louisville is the only team playing right now, so my focus can be divided two ways. At this point in the night I am usually following three or four games at once. Just one game and answering some questions? Oh yeah, that is doable!

  1. Is Joey Votto ever going to get the respect he deserves from the mouth breathing element of reds fans?

    • I certainly hope so. Votto entered today tied for the 18th best career OBP in MLB history (.419), and is tied for the 16th best wRC+ (156). If he doesn’t get the respect today or tomorrow, he certainly will in the future when these stats are (hopefully) better appreciated.

    • doubtful, which is sad. JV is a talented enough ballplayer that he could trade some OBP points in exchange for 25-30 HR a year. That would make him more popular with the fan base you have described, but it ultimately would come at the cost of helping the Reds make the playoffs. JV is making the unpopular, but best choice in how he can help the Reds win baseball games.

      • Almost literally as you were posting, Price made the strongest statement (on the pregame radio) I have yet heard of the org’s dissatisfaction with Votto’s behavior at the plate. He was speaking specifically of the bunt attempt Tuesday night versus the shift. However it seemed pretty clear his remarks weren’t limited just to that situation. Price said Votto should be looking to hit doubles and homers (plural from Price). He said the team’s best hitter should want to try and drive in runs versus simply trying to extend the inning to give somebody else a chance to drive in the run. All in all it was more direct and very unequivocal.

  2. Hey guys, Nick Kirby here. I write the weekly column “Central Intelligence” on Monday’s covering the NL Central. Feel free to ask just about anything about the Reds. I’m a big stat guy, so if you have any stat related questions for me….shoot em!

  3. Doug – what did you hear about Mesoraco’s game yesterday in Louisville, sound like everything OK with the hammy?

    • I didn’t just hear, I watched (thanks MiLB.tv!). He looked pretty good at the plate. He looked “right” to me. Back in there tonight. 0-1 so far, but he lined out pretty hard in that at bat to right field.

    • If you’d asked me this a year ago (before they fired Dusty) I’d have said “never” because of the shared ties between Castellini and Jocketty dating back to St. Louis. While I still think Walt has a longer leash than most GMs, if the Reds finish around .500 this year and miss the post-season series again, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’ s a change.

      • I don’t have exact stats on this (heh) but my sense is that being a MLB GM is becoming a much younger person’s job. Jocketty has to be one of the oldest GMs. I’m not sure the Reds are the kind of organization that’s going to go out and hire a younger, more stats-oriented GM (that’s the kind of person who replaced Jocketty in St. Louis).

    • You would think if the Reds miss the postseason this season he certainly would. This would be his 6th full season as Reds GM, and not advancing in the playoffs once is pretty disappointing.

    • Tough to say. Hiring Price was a conservative personnel decision — and his lack of experience should play into how quickly the Reds want to depart with their current GM. The bigger factor, though, is Bob’s belief about how Walt is doing. The Reds have drafted well and Walt has pulled off some good trades as the Reds GM. If Bob has an eye for the present, though, missing the playoffs might be enough.

    • I’ll have to check with Chad about that. I know he’s done some in the past year, but I don’t know what his plans are for 2014. Maybe he’ll join us tonight.

  4. Doug Gray stole my question. Rats. Now I have to come up with another bananaphone-style question. Uh…

    Should the Reds bring back Jeff Keppinger? Assuming he’s healthy enough to play and he clears waivers so the White Sox get to pay him, that is. Could he be more useless than Neftali Soto?

    Imma hang up and listen.

    • No. I’m reading Keppinger was let go for a combination of issues, only one of which was non-performance. I hope he catches on somewhere, but doesn’t sound like he can help the Reds right now.

    • I don’t think that would be a bad idea. Sure he posted a slash line of 253/.283/.317 in 2013, but he did hit .325/.367/.439 with a 126 OPS+ in 2012. He would have to be an upgrade over Soto for sure.

  5. Do you think Jocketty (if he is awake and alert) is actively looking to bring in some help for this team or do you think he is sitting on his … back pockets just waiting for the Reds to get healthy?

    • Likely just waiting back for others to become healthy. There isn’t much of a trade market on May 14th unless you are drastically willing to overpay for someone.

    • I’m guessing he will wait a little bit. If the Reds are still within contention closer to the trade deadline, I would be shocked if he didn’t get another bat. If they are pretty far back in the playoff hunt, I doubt he makes any major moves.

    • I think Walt works extremely hard at his job — you need to have that personality in order to survive as a MLB GM. That being said, the Reds have some serious contract considerations over the next 12 months — the biggest being Mat Latos. If the Reds are not going to resign him (or if he is unwilling to sign with the Reds), then their trading reserves go down pretty quickly.

      Doug will have a better answer on trade-depth, though.

  6. I don’t really have any questions, I just wanted to share that I’m excited to attend the Reds vs Nats series next week in DC with a bunch of UC alumni! I went to all 4 games last year, even though we lost 3/4….

    Also, I hope everyone has noticed the 2 for $22 ticket deal over Memorial Day weekend versus the Cards…I’ll be in town for a wedding, so I’ve already gotten my seats! Can’t wait!

    • Awesome! As someone who is spending their first season away from Cincy (I now live in Cleveland), I understand how special the few games you get to attend a year are. Have fun!

    • You should definitely write a “Behind Enemy Baselines” post for the blog. Email me if you’re interested at redlegnation2014@gmail.com.

      I lived in the DC area during the sniper and 9/11 era, so just before they built the new stadium. I’ve never been to a game there but would love to sometime. Still have a lot of friends there.

    • if you get a chance, take a photo with some RLN swag and we can put it up on the Tumblr page.

      It would be cool if we got RLN gear at every NL ballpark (Thanks to Sarge, it looks like we have already invaded St. Louis — but from the looks of his photo, he might need reinforcements).

    • I will definitely try to take some pics next week! The Nats stadium is pretty nice, it’s a good ballpark. Steve, I’ll email shortly! Funnily enough, I’ll be moving to St. Louis soon, so maybe I can be the reinforcements if Sarge needs them…

  7. Do you think current defensive metrics accurately value Cozart’s contributions? He’s not flashy, but he rarely makes a bad play and seems to have plenty of range, arm, and athleticism. More broadly, do you think fans really appreciate how good this team is defensively and how helpful that is for our pitching staff?

    • Generally speaking, I think that UZR is probably 70% accurate on most players. But it is still missing on some guys and it certainly needs a large enough sample to be even that accurate. The general thought is that you need 2-3 seasons worth of UZR for it to be “right”. With that said, I do think it is in the right area with Cozart. He is very sure handed and makes a bunch of quality plays. Not the best, but certainly above-average.

      I don’t think that a lot of fans understand how good the team defense is and how it does help out the pitching staff.

    • All good points in my opinion. Defensive metrics are still in their infancy although they’ve been improving. Even the people who work on them caution against using small sample sizes. Even one year of data isn’t considered super reliable yet. But they are certainly more rigorous than anything we’ve had before and far superior to the eyeball test – especially when measuring range and arm.

      Cozart is more than solid at SS, he’s excellent, with a strong arm. And that’s worth a lot. His range (left and right) isn’t the greatest, although he does a good job running backward for pop-flys. The Reds are good on defense from a sure-handedness standpoint. Other teams have players with better range everywhere but CF.

  8. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, with the exception of one month May 2013, the Reds have played almost exactly .500 ball. How can that be tolerated in Castellini’s office? How can Jocketty keep his job with that on top of last year’s finish??

    • Well, the entire season counts and the team did make the playoffs. The 1990 Reds played .500 most of the year beyond April. They just caught fire at the right time in the playoffs, while the team last year didn’t.

      This year, I am sure that Castellini understands just how decimated this team has been by injuries. There was a two week stretch that ended about a week ago where there were seriously 13 players on the 40-man roster unable to play, and when Hamilton went down and missed 5 days it made 14 players that were on the Reds 40-man roster and on the disabled list. It is actually a bit amazing that they have as good of a record as they actually do.

    • It wasn’t (just ask Dusty). Bob must have felt that player development/acquisition was not as much to blame for the Reds record as the head coach’s ability to get the players to play well / in-game decisions.

    • I’m not saying I agree with this (I don’t) but if the view was to mostly blame the 2013 problems on Dusty Baker, then Jocketty may be starting 2014 with a fairly clean slate in the CEOs eyes. I’ve written a lot on the GM’s failures last year and this off-season. He’s had a “patient” 12 months, too patient in my opinion. That said, we’ll see what he does during 2014 going forward. I don’t think money is a big issue – although not in the Yankees or Dodgers sense – but if Jocketty comes up with a move that will improve the team and not break the bank, I think the CEO definitely says yes. I worry that Jocketty is too cautious.

  9. Would Steve Drew be a good pickup after the draft to come in and play shortstop. Assuming you can get him for a decent price on a deal for the rest of the year?

    • He would be a good pick up, but I think it is going to cost more than the Reds are willing to pay. I could be completely wrong on the situation, but my guess is that it’s going to take at least $5M for the guy to sign somewhere for half of the season and the Reds budget seems pretty much maxed out.

    • We’ve got a longer post in the works on this. Lots of uncertainty about what the market will be for him after the draft pick penalty is gone. Drew may want a one-year deal or ready to jump for a multi-year deal. Plenty of other teams need him more than the Reds do. More on this in coming days.

      • I assume this will be addressed, I just saw some articles when I googled “Steve Drew romors’ , is it Scott Boras playing games in mentioning having a 3 yesr $39 million offer, sounds like half of MLB are after him. Do the Reds have actual interest? I would imagine that it will take over $8M and the Reds have little chance to be a player

  10. I know where Cozart ranks on offense compared to other shortstops in MLB. Where is Ludwick relative to other MLB left fielders? And who’s in the pipeline to play left in a year or three? And a similar question for the Reds bullpen – how do they rate against other staffs?

    • Using wRC+ (which I feel is the best single statistic to evaluate a player offensively), Ludwick’s 96 wRC+ ranks tied for 18th out of the 25 LF that qualify in 2014. The first name that comes to mind as a long term LF would be Donald Lutz. Once again, Doug Gray would be able to answer that part of the question best.

      • That tells me three things. First, left field is definitely an offensive position if 18/25 is still just below major league average at 96%. Second, I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised with Ludwick’s offense this year and yet he’s still not as good as the average batter = disappointing. Third, it confirms that I’m looking forward to a young stud to take over left. Now if they can just figure outbwhomthat is…

        • Exactly. At the positions of LF, RF, and 1B, you need more than an above average hitter. Just about any MLB player could play those positions. You especially need way above average players if you aren’t the Rockies and don’t have Tulo at SS.

    • Ludwick is in the lower third offensively right now. He is getting on base at a solid clip, but he just isn’t hitting for any power yet. I am of the belief that Ludwick will also be the Reds left fielder next year. They have to pay him $4.5M to be a free agent, or they can just give him $9M to stay. Unless he just falls apart, I can’t see them letting him walk and paying him $4.5M to play elsewhere.

      Outfield is the systems best strength. Yorman Rodriguez and Donald Lutz are the best bets to be able to play left soon. Jesse Winker is probably the next best bet and is probably the best pure hitter in the entire system, but he is probably at best a year away still and that is if he just absolutely crushes the ball because he is only 20-years-old. Kyle Waldrop is 22 and crushing the ball in Bakersfield, but he has been a guy who has moved slower through the system and has needed time to adjust to each level.

        • Agreed Steve. Could a Lutz or Rodriguez experiment really be that much worse? Sounds like a low downside high upside kind of bet. And $4M savings is still real money. If Walt Jocketty doesn’t understand the Sunk Cost Fallacy I’ll gladly explain it to him.

        • I think Walt understands the sunk cost thing, but he also understands that Ludwick probably has a baseline of production to work with, while Lutz or Rodriguez are, as you called it, an experiment (at least for now because we just don’t know what they will be). Things could certainly change if either goes to Triple-A and just tears things up for 250 PA.

        • Probably not good. Better chance for Lutz to do it this year though. He is not exactly young at this point. Rodriguez, while seemingly having been around forever, is the 3rd youngest player in the Southern League right now. From a peripheral standpoint, Lutz is basically the exact same player he has been the last two years with the exception that he is hitting for a lot more power. His walk rate and strikeout rates are nearly identical. He is tapping into his power potential for the first time at the Double-A level.

        • I don’t think Ludwick gets replaced by someone in the organization. But LF is the only position where a big acquisition through trade or free agency makes sense. Shortstops are just too scarce. Unless the Reds collapse this year and there’s a major house-cleaning, LF seems like the logical place to me. Can’t imagine $4.5 million gets in the way of that. He could be thrown into a trade.

  11. I get the Cozart angst. I really do and I feel it myself. But he is the eight hole hitter with solid defense. If he can post a .240 BA, I don’t know what else we should realistically expect. I would talk about replacing him more if we were hitting everyplace else but the lower part of the order. Maybe when our help gets healthy again, the issue should be revisited. Your 8 hole guy should be an afterthought when it comes to offense. Let him go on his 3 week tear every three months and that’s that. We have much, much, bigger offensive issues, IMO. Now…..if there were a SS that could hit in the top half of the order available, then we have an entirely different issue. Don’t see one out there in the forseeable future.

    • This is kind of where I’m at on Cozart. Shortstop isn’t a glamorous offensive position like in the ARod/Nomar/Jeter prime days. The Reds are fortunate to have one that is above average in the field and not overpaying for wily veteran status. Imagine without Cozart, the Reds playing in that Santiago/Renteria/Orlando Cabrera/Valdez free agent pool every year looking for their *starting* shortstop.

      That said, the Reds need to do something to improve on offense. Shortstop is one of a few places that could happen, although less likely than other positions (ie left field). So while replacing Cozart wouldn’t be at the top of my list, it wouldn’t be off my list, either.

    • Cozart would be fine on a team that only had 1 or less other below average hitters. The problem is that the Reds only have two above average hitters in the lineup right now: Votto and Frazier (Bruce of course above average when he comes back, and possibly Mesoraco).

    • Finding a hard hitting shortstop would be tough — and expensive (unless we are going to be willing to sacrifice the value we get out of that position). Having a player that can both successfully play the most demanding defensive position and still bat in the top of the order would be like….well….inventing plutonium by accident.

      If I were running the Reds, I would look into using defensive shifts so frequently that the defensive demands on the shortstop would disappear and you could plug in another strong bat at that position.

  12. I think we are going to see an upgrade at shortstop. Cozart. He’s well below his career numbers (though granted with a short history). I expect him to hit better as the year goes on and his numbers climb back up toward his career averages. Surely they will. Right? Right?

      • Cozart’s numbers will get better. His BABIP is .220 so to some extent the hits just aren’t falling in like they should. That’s not to say he’s looked good at the plate, though.

        And I wouldn’t rule out they’ll make a move at SS because his stats are so conspicuously bad. I’d fix LF before SS, though.

      • Understood. I’m not expecting him to be better than he has in the past (though I’d suggest that he may not improve physically but may well improve his approach since he hasn’t been in the majors as long as most 29 year olds). I only hope he can hit to his career averages for the rest of the year. That would be an instant upgrade over his output year to date.

  13. For Doug, can you introduce the nation to Louisville SP Josh Smith in one of your next features? People may wonder who this guy is at Louisville that is already 5-0 with a 2.50 ERA in 8 games. A very nice success story of a not so highly rated prospect. I’d like to learn more about him.

    • I hadn’t planned out the article for next week yet. Depending on how the rest of the week plays out, I will try to get something done on Smith.

  14. The Reds just announced they are postponing tonight’s game. It has been rescheduled for 6:10 tomorrow night.

    I’ll stick around here until 8 p.m. ET.

    • I’d throw Leake in that question, too. My answer is they’ll sign either Latos or Cueto and Leake. If Cueto stays healthy, it’ll be him. I’m not sure the Reds are sold on Latos yet, from a maturity standpoint. There has to be a reason they haven’t acted more proactively to get him inked (ha) long term.

  15. And thanks to Steve, Doug, and Michael for the interesting dialogue. I was settled in with some nice leftovers looking forward to a good game only to turn on the TV and find the dreaded rain delay. Thanks for the Reds fix.

  16. Heres a really good question for any writer who wants to answer…..Why did we sign Bailey long term before Latos or Cueto? Baileys career ERA is over 4

    • As the resident Homer Bailey hack, I’ll answer quickly. He was signed first because it was his turn first in terms of the free agent window. Cueto was coming off a year being on the DL constantly. Lingering questions about Latos’ maturity. That tee’s up Homer.

      Regarding ERA over 4 – You ignore the early career stuff as that not being what you’ll get going forward. And you look at stats that are more reflective of how he pitched. I know HB got a lot of zeros in that contract, but he’s not being paid like an ace. He’s being paid on the assumption that his 2013 season wasn’t a fluke.

      • What Steve said. The Reds aren’t expecting to get Homer Bailey from 2007-2011. They are expecting to get Homer Bailey from 2012-2013. And they are likely going to get the latter version. It wasn’t a bargain deal, but it certainly is around market value.

    • Cueto is signed until 2014, with a 2015 team option. So really its Latos and Bailey.

      Lots of factors go into player signings, and I think you need to look beyond ERA (esp. career ERA for young pitchers). It could have been that Homer was more open to signing an extension, it could be that his numbers were trending in the right direction, age, or how well the Reds think he will continue to develop as a player.

  17. Thanks for all the great questions! This was a lot of fun. We will have to do this again soon (but hopefully not too soon, because I’m sick of rain delays!)

  18. Thanks for the questions everyone. And also thanks to the Editors who volunteered more of their time to answer.

  19. I know this is exceedingly tardy. I’m new to the whole sabermetrics thing. Are there any good sites or tutorials that I could get some background info? And where do you guys go to find your advanced stats? In compliance with the guidelines, I’d love to educate myself so as to be a contributor in the comments. Thanks.

    • Most people use baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com for getting stats… both sites are linked from here under the “Stats” heading at the top of a page. There used to be a primer linked somewhere… I’ll let someone else answer that part for the best place to go.

    • What Matt said. I usually use Baseball Reference because it’s usually the first Google hit if you just type in a player’s name. Fangraphs has detailed articles about just about every single advanced stat, though, which are very much worth the reads.

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