2010 Reds

Targeting RH Relievers in the 2nd Half

Buster Olney tweeted Thursday that the Reds are seeking RH relief help for the second half of the season. Ben Nicholson-Smith of mlbtraderumors.com goes a step further and throws out “intriguing” names of players who could become available this month.

Note that the names listed are pure speculation of available relievers on the part of Smith, and not an actual rumored deal between the Reds and other clubs.

The striking thing to me is that outside of Kansas City Royal closer Joakim Soria, the list of relievers mentioned don’t appear to be a major upgrade to what the Reds currently have in the organization. Given that Soria is signed cheaply through the 2014 season, I have a hard time seeing him go anywhere. Leo Nunez is about the only name that interests me.

The stats below are for 2007 through the 2010 all-star break.

Pitcher G IP ERA WHIP HR/9 H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
Joakim Soria 207 224.1 2.13 0.994 0.7 6.4 2.5 10.2 4.1
Jason Frasor 199 196.2 3.89 1.286 0.6 7.5 4.1 8.9 2.2
Kerry Wood 168 165.2 3.97 1.274 0.7 7.7 3.8 10.3 2.7
Kevin Gregg 252 255.2 3.84 1.283 0.9 7.2 4.4 8.9 2.0
David Aardsma 176 180.2 4.48 1.445 0.8 8.1 4.9 9.6 2.0
Octavio Dotel 203 195.0 3.88 1.333 1.3 7.7 4.3 11.5 2.7
Leo Nunez 171 197.1 3.56 1.206 1.1 8.1 2.8 7.3 2.6
Matt Capps 223 226.2 3.45 1.226 1.0 9.3 1.8 7.2 4.0
Russ Springer 220 173.1 2.86 1.165 0.8 7.7 2.8 8.8 3.1

And then at the bottom of the table, there is today’s most recent acquisition, Russ Springer.

Springer accepted a pro-rated contract offer for $850,000, which means he’ll receive less than half of that based on the amount of time he spends with the Reds this season.

Springer was scheduled to fly out today for Louisville, where he must test his arm for 10 days to two weeks at the Triple-A level.

Springer’s recent numbers appear to be better than the pitchers not named Soria. The only negative I see about Springer is that he hasn’t averaged more than 1 inning per appearance since the 2000 season. However, it’s a great low-cost, low risk pick-up that could result in as good or better results than the right handed relievers that are available on the trade market.

Why trade prospects away for league average relievers, when guys like Springer can be signed without trading minor league talent? If he cannot get guys out in AAA, the Reds wouldn’t have to call him up.

I’m actually surprised the Reds haven’t made a similar deal with David Weathers.

Pitcher G IP ERA WHIP HR/9 H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
David Weathers 210 209.1 3.57 1.344 0.9 8.4 3.7 5.6 1.5

57 thoughts on “Targeting RH Relievers in the 2nd Half

  1. I could not agree more. As I said to Mike last week, trying to upgrade a bullpen is a fool’s errand to begin with, so why trade talent away for guys that have high variance and are probably as likely to blow up as be good?

    I mean, if you trade for Mariano Rivera, I get it—you have a major upgrade. Kelly Gregg?
    Come on. The Rivera’s of the world are never available anyways. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but you aren’t going to get a top 10 closer. I hate trading for middle relief. You’re going to get Majewski type guys, guys have good years who, once you get them, you are thinking “what am I going to get out of the guy?”

  2. “The only negative I see about Springer is that he hasn’t averaged more than 1 inning per appearance since the 2000 season.”

    If this is your only negative then it isn’t a negative. Other than occasionally Ondrusek and Owings how many Reds’ relief pitchers pitch more than one inning?

  3. The main negative I see with Springer is that he’s 41 and he had a poor 2009 season. His WHIP was 1.49, almost as bad as our closer, and he gave up 9 HRs in 57 innings.

    But I agree with you that it’s a good low cost, low risk pickup.

  4. As for Weathers, about a month ago Fay said he was willing. But don’t tell Chad.

  5. I agree with your main point. Soria is most likely not available, and the others are not worth giving up much for.

    Even with Cordero’s slump, the others are not much of an upgrade, if any, from him. Also Smith has pitched well since being called up, and Masset and Ondrusek have pitched pretty well lately.

  6. @Mark in cc.: Outside of the lefty specialist who comes in to face 1 batter, most of the Reds relievers average around 1 batter per inning. All the pitchers on the above list are right around that 1 inning per appearance average, except for Springer throwing quite a bit less than that.

    I believe he has been used mostly as a “righty specialist” and gets pulled for LH batters. If you have a bullpen with a guy who only pitches to righties and a guy who only pitches to lefties, then that is a little more strain for the rest of the staff…unless the starters can begin throwing 7+ innings with regularity.

    Let’s say in my dream world where the Reds make the playoffs, and only need 4 SP on the roster, then it could be a benefit to use that spot for a RH relief specialist.

  7. @Dave Lowenthal: Agreed. I don’t see trading for middle relief at all, we have pretty good middle relief, how good can you expect middle relief to be ?
    Krivsky’s downfall was his obsession with middle relief in 2006.

    As for our closer, I haven’t given up on CoCo yet. But suppose he continues to struggle. What teams often do with a struggling closer in the 2nd half is to replace him with a bottom of the rotation starter.

    We’ll have a surplus of starters soon. It would be better to make Harang, let’s say, the closer, than to trade away talent for one who might not be much of an upgrade anyway.

  8. Joakim Soria
    contract info from Cot’s Baseball Contracts:

    2011: $4 million
    2012: $6 million club option w/$750,000 buyout
    2012 option guaranteed at $6M with 55 games in 2011 or 110 games in 2010-11
    2013: $8 million club option w/$750,000 buyout
    2014: $8.75 million club option w/$750,000 buyout
    2015: Free Agent

  9. BTW, speaking of Harang, I really hope that Travis Wood does not get bumped from the rotation when Harang returns.
    I like Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez, Leake, Wood (order not important).

    • I like Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez, Leake, Wood (order not important).
      Reply

      Don’t forget Bailey. He was lights out at the end of last year. I don’t know if Dusty can do it, but it would be good if Cueto, Volquez, Leake, Wood, and Bailey all worked their way through the rotation.

  10. @pinson343: PS to my own note. Another thing teams do with a struggling closer is to replace him with a future starter, like the Cards did with Wainwright in 2006.

    Chapman is not ready yet (in terms of his command) but Maloney (even if he’s not a future starter) would be another option.

  11. You know, something else…there is the wild, crazy notion of using the starters like the Dodgers and other pitching teams (even the Reds) did in the 1960’s and let the right handed starters pitch out of the bullpen, too.

    I have to say if I’m Micah Owings, I’m asking for a trade or a trial in the outfield…

  12. @Steve Price: They like Springer more than Weathers. I would hope he’ll have to show something at AAA to get promoted. I don’t see him as an upgrade over our young RHed relievers.

    Also we shouldn’t forget Burton, who has been dominating recently at AAA. If Springer isn’t pitching any better than Burton, why bring him up instead of Burton ?

  13. @Steve Price: It used to be common for starters to pitch out of the bullpen. Robin Roberts, who would pitch every 4th day (and had over 300 complete games) would regularly pitch out of the bullpen also.

  14. @Steve Price: I haven’t forgotten or given up on Homer. Mainly I didn’t mention him because I don’t know when he’s coming back.

    I believe that WJ is not going to let Leake pitch much more than 170 innings. He’s at 109 now. So a spot for Homer could open up that way.

  15. The talk from Walt and Dusty about Harang was even more cryptic than normal for a guy simply working his way back from injury. I think they’re trying to buy some time to find a trade. My guess is that Harang has thrown his last pitch for the Reds.
    What about using Homer as a RH reliever? He profiles a lot like Coco in repertoire and stuff. Might be the only way to keep from trading him, as I believe he is out of options.

  16. The question about using Homer Bailey is how he would look at the assignment. Would he look at it as an opportunity kind of like what happened with Papelbon/Wainright/Haren? Would he look at it as doing what the team needed like say Smoltz? Or do you get the Big Z “I’ll say I’m Ok with it and then freak out a couple of weeks down the road and stink just as much as when I started” route?

    Bailey has the stuff to strike people out and I think going at an inning a shot, he might even be better. Not really this year or even the second part of last year, but in the past he has also kind of come unglued on the mound, so does he have that get the job done kind of mentality a reliever needs to have. I don’t know.

    I will say that in the log jam of starters, Bailey is one of the more interesting prospects to potentially have impact as a reliever, as when he has it working, he can strike people out. Then again, everything is based on the fact that him and Volquez are going to be able to come back ready to be effective.

  17. Roster’s getting crowded. Kind of reminds me of ’06, when guys were picked up for a couple weeks, then tossed out for another quick fix. That can get expensive. Also reminds me of ’77 when several players were traded just to get rid of them. Harang or Owings might get sent off for spare change. This kind of mentality can backfire. Team chemistry might get completely blown to hell if some of the veterans get to feeling Jocketty doesn’t value them.

  18. @Sultan of Swaff:
    What I wangt to know is why hasn’t there been much talk about putting Leake in the bullpen for the rest of the year? If they’re trying to limit his innings, it seems a logical fit

  19. @earl: @Sultan of Swaff: Homer as a reliever is an intriguing possibility. He has “future closer” stuff. I don’t know about his mental makeup for it.

    I think he’d be OK with relieving in 2010. It would be a way to help the team for now and he’d still be in the mix for the starting rotation in 2011.

  20. It’s not going to happen, but I personally feel like Volquez should work out of the bullpen this year. He’s less than a year from TJ surgery and could use the limited innings to ease his arm back. Plus he has the stuff to do it.

    • It’s not going to happen, but I personally feel like Volquez should work out of the bullpen this year. He’s less than a year from TJ surgery and could use the limited innings to ease his arm back. Plus he has the stuff to do it.

      While I tend to agree with you…it’s not going to happen either..

  21. Has there been any updates on Homer’s status? It went from him not even wanting to go on the DL to he might be out a while.

    • Has there been any updates on Homer’s status? It went from him not even wanting to go on the DL to he might be out a while.

      He threw his second bullpen recently (yesterday?)….I expect him to spend some rehab time in Louisville.

      Question for me is who comes off the 40 when Volquez is activated this weekend?

  22. FWIW, you can put me down as someone who thinks that trading for non-elite relievers is pretty dumb. They just aren’t valuable enough, and they’re generally far too volatile. I suppose the exception might be if you’re getting a great LOOGY on the cheap or something, but outside of that, starters/elite relievers are just leaps and bounds more important than middle relievers.

  23. I wonder if the Reds have considered using one of these extra starters to potentially skip Leake in the rotation every other time or so to save innings. If they are dead set on shutting him down around 170 innings, would you rather have him start up until September and be finished, or maybe just start him once every 10 days with maybe a brief one inning relief appearance to stay sharp.

    Ideally, I’d like to see the Reds use Arroyo, Cueto, and Volquez and then figure out how to handle Harang, Leake, Bailey, and Wood. Most likely, Harang will go back into the rotation when he’s healthy. So perhaps the Reds should give Leake, Bailey, and Wood alternating starts and use them in the bullpen to stay sharp.

  24. @Chris Wilson:

    I think the thing to remember with Leake is that not only is it his first major league season, it’s his first professional season. I think I’d let him pitch to his innings limit and then shut him down, and then try to get him through the full season next year. Assuming that it doesn’t affect the number of innings he pitches, it won’t make any marginal difference at the end of the day either way, but having him take the ball every five days or so seems like it would be best developmentally.

  25. From Dusty: “You know there’s a lot of things that go into. It’s not always who’s pitching the best. It’s whose contract is what and who has options and various things.”

    That tells me Harang gets his rotation spot back and Wood is out……at least until we can work a trade.

  26. @RiverCity Redleg: I agree. The better plan for Volquez, short-term and long-term IMHO, would have been to have him in the pen.

    I read that Bailey may be throwing off a mound in the next few days. If all goes well, he would need a few rehab starts to get back into the groove. The earliest I’ve seen is the end of July/early August.

    But they have been progressing very slowly and quietly about his injury and rehab progress.

  27. @RiverCity Redleg: I agree about Volquez from the bullpen. I feel like it’s tempting, but ultimately too greedy to start him regularly the rest of the way. I’m not doctor, so I don’t pretend to know, but I don’t like the idea of hedging a man’s career against one late season push. Be careful with that arm!

    If Wood gets sent down, we know where to find him if needed. I think about it like football sometimes: When the back-up QB comes in and does a good job for a bit and the fans get excited about his prospects… isn’t he really just doing what he’s supposed to do? (nota bene: Ok, most back-ups don’t usually almost throw a perfect game)Wood has been great, but there’s no way to know he can keep that up, especially over a pennant race.

    … and we liked LeCure coming out of the gate, and he cooled down. Leake cooled down. I think Wood’s great, and I’m happy to have him in the system, but I think it’ll be ok if he is the one that has to get moved. He can come right back up of someone else makes the team nervous.

    • When the back-up QB comes in and does a good job for a bit and the fans get excited about his prospects…

      You know, like signing Kelly Holcomb to a monster contract. Sorry Browns fans.

  28. Reds have listed Volquez as the starting pitcher for Sat HOF game vs the Rockies with Bronson going tonight, but no name for the starter on sunday yet.

  29. @Bill Lack: Bailey last pitched May 23. It would be a short-term move, but since he’s not going to be ready for another 2-3 weeks, he could move to the 60-day DL.

    Mike Lincoln hasn’t pitched since May 31. Haven’t heard anything about him in a while, but he’d be another 60-day DL candidate.

  30. From Dusty: “You know there’s a lot of things that go into. It’s not always who’s pitching the best. It’s whose contract is what and who has options and various things.”

    Various things: ‘veteran presence’

  31. Our starting pitching, at the moment, is not nearly as deep as many of you seem to think.

    Arroyo – check
    Cueto – check
    Volquez – 60 day DL (Tommy John surgery); expected date back is listed as “soon after All-Star break,” but we know he is scheduled to start Saturday v. Colorado.
    Harang – 15 day DL (lower back spasm); expected date back is listed as “TBD” – “no timetable for return.”
    Bailey – 15 day DL (right shoulder inflamation); expected date back is listed as “Possibly July” – “flew to NY to continue throwing program.” His ERA is above 5.51 through nine starts.
    Leake – has pitched 109 innings and has a limit of 170. His ERA since June 1 is > 5.00. His xFIP is > than 4.00.
    Wood – has pitched 118 innings and has never pitched more than 167 (last year).
    Maloney – spot starter at best.

    Aside from Arroyo and Cueto, I’m seeing a whole lot of question marks. Will Volquez be health/stay healthy? When will Harang be back? When will Bailey be back? Is Bailey good against anyone other than Pittsburgh? When will Leake be shut down? Will Leake be available in late September/early October? Can Wood be effective as he approaches his career high in innings pitched?

    This may seem less than optimistic, but the bottom line is that the rotation has far more questions than one wants from a playoff contender. They need starting pitching at the trade deadline. You can never have too much starting pitching. Worst case scenario, all of a sudden the Reds really do have a surplus. Right now, the Reds don’t.

    • How are the Cards in any better shape? they have 2 and then HUGER question marks in my opinion…

      Our starting pitching, at the moment, is not nearly as deep as many of you seem to think. Arroyo – checkCueto – checkVolquez – 60 day DL (Tommy John surgery); expected date back is listed as “soon after All-Star break,” but we know he is scheduled to start Saturday v. Colorado.Harang – 15 day DL (lower back spasm); expected date back is listed as “TBD” – “no timetable for return.”Bailey – 15 day DL (right shoulder inflamation); expected date back is listed as “Possibly July” – “flew to NY to continue throwing program.” His ERA is above 5.51 through nine starts.Leake – has pitched 109 innings and has a limit of 170. His ERA since June 1 is > 5.00. His xFIP is > than 4.00.Wood – has pitched 118 innings and has never pitched more than 167 (last year).Maloney – spot starter at best.Aside from Arroyo and Cueto, I’m seeing a whole lot of question marks. Will Volquez be health/stay healthy? When will Harang be back? When will Bailey be back? Is Bailey good against anyone other than Pittsburgh? When will Leake be shut down? Will Leake be available in late September/early October? Can Wood be effective as he approaches his career high in innings pitched?This may seem less than optimistic, but the bottom line is that the rotation has far more questions than one wants from a playoff contender. They need starting pitching at the trade deadline. You can never have too much starting pitching. Worst case scenario, all of a sudden the Reds really do have a surplus. Right now, the Reds don’t.

  32. To be fair to dusty, how many managers have benched very high paid players in favor of younger talent. Lets remember that Aaron is one of the top paid players on the Reds.

  33. @TheNatural: I assume you are suggesting that because he isn’t a hard thrower his “stuff” doesn’t translate to the bullpen? If he were in the pen, it’d likely be replacing Owings. Leake could pitch 3-4 innings every week, and be available as a starter in September/October. I’m not sure how is “stuff” wouldn’t translate to long relief.

  34. @dn4192: Why can’t the Reds make moves independent of the rest of the division? The Reds have a weakness. The Reds should address the weakness.

    • Because teams make moves to make the better then their competition, and right now I like our team overall better then the Cards. Second i don’t see anyone on the trade market starting pitching wise that is any kind of massive improvement over what we already have. Why trade just to trade? You are worried about Volquez which is right to do, but so far in AAA there has been no sign of problem.

      @dn4192: Why can’t the Reds make moves independent of the rest of the division? The Reds have a weakness. The Reds should address the weakness.

  35. @dn4192: The Reds’ competition isn’t solely the Cards. Even if it were, Carpenter, Wainwright, Garcia is better than Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez. Where this team can make up solid ground on the Cards is in the 4th and 5th starter. For the Cards, it’s Suppan and Hawksworth. For the Reds, it’s, at the moment, Leake and Wood. That won’t be the case once Leake reaches his innings limit. I don’t know that Harang and Bailey are substantially better than Suppan and Hawksworth.

    I’m not advocating a trade for the sake of a trade. I would advocate obtaining a guy like Ted Lilly. Is he an ace? No. Is he a reliable starter? Yes. Will he cost a ton in terms of prospects? No. According to most reports the Cubs are looking at a salary dump with Lilly’s remaining salary being about 6 million. I would like to see a bit more certainty is all. Volquez, Arroyo, Lilly, Cueto, (one of Leake, Harang, Wood, Bailey) is far more stable in my opinion than Volquez, Arroyo, Cueto (two of Leake, Harang, Wood, Bailey).

    Lastly, you don’t think the Cards see that their fourth and fifth starters need improving. The Reds need to direct what the Cards do, not vice-versa.

    • I believe Lilly is a FA at the end of this season, so why wouldn’t the Cubs just hold onto him and get draft picks for him? Also since there is a limited number of SP on the trade market, I am willing to bet their value and required trade stock will rise. I will take Wood over Lilly any day and even on Sunday. I will pin my hopes this season to Bronson, Wood, Cueto, Volquez and whomever over what the Cards have. Lee was differnt and he is gone, sorry but I am not parting with grade A prospects for Ted Lilly and I believe that is what it will take when the bidding war starts.

      @dn4192: The Reds’ competition isn’t solely the Cards. I’m not advocating a trade for the sake of a trade. I would advocate obtaining a guy like Ted Lilly. Is he an ace? No. Is he a reliable starter? Yes. Will he cost a ton in terms of prospects? No. ).Lastly, you don’t think the Cards see that their fourth and fifth starters need improving. The Reds need to direct what the Cards do, not vice-versa.

  36. I think it is fair to point out that Leake is a potential weak link in the rotation in the 2nd half if Leake is on an inning limit and they hold him out Sept and Oct, but I wouldn’t be pessismistic on him just based on his ERA since June 1.

    He’s made 7 starts since June 1. Yes, he had 3 bad starts in June. But he also had two quality starts in June (13 innings, 1 earned run) and would have been 2-for-2 in July quality starts had Baker not tried to push him a 9th inning against the Phillies.

    IMO, I see a pitcher who has very good in 10 of his first 11 starts, had two bad outings, then has folowed that with 3 very good starts in his last 4 outings.

  37. I am wandering if there is any interest for Harang, Gomes, Cabrera, or Cordera from the big club and Francisco, and Alosnso from Louisville. The above mentioned players from the big club seem to have as much value as they ever will and the players mentioned from Louisville seem to have no place to play. Heisey, Stubbs, and Bruce would make one of the best outfield’s in the game with their offense continuing to improve with regular at bats. If not, why not deal either Heisey or Stubbs. Is anyone else thinking this way?

    • Harang is owed to much, now has back issues and such, don’t see a huge demand for him. Gomes maybe, but if he was so wanted why wasn’t he signed in the offseason, we signed Orlando in the offseason, Dusty LOVES him I don’t see him going anywhere, as for Co-Co he is stilled a bit and teams in the hunt don’t trade their closer. As for the two minor leaguers I am sure there is some interest.

      Why would you deal either Heisey or Stubbs? Isn’t the idea of trades is to make your ML roster better?

      I am wandering if there is any interest for Harang, Gomes, Cabrera, or Cordera from the big club and Francisco, and Alosnso from Louisville. The above mentioned players from the big club seem to have as much value as they ever will and the players mentioned from Louisville seem to have no place to play. Heisey, Stubbs, and Bruce would make one of the best outfield’s in the game with their offense continuing to improve with regular at bats. If not, why not deal either Heisey or Stubbs. Is anyone else thinking this way?

  38. I would hate to lose Heisey or Stubbs. I would like to see Heisey playing every day with his glove, speed, and power instead of sitting next to Janish.

  39. @dn4192: So Harang who is making the same amount as Lilly is making too much to be worth grade A prospects, but Lilly is worth grade A prospects? If you have something to suggest there is going to be a bidding war over Lilly, I’d love to see it. Lilly will be a straight salary dump. The Cubs aren’t banking on prospects. He may be a type A but he just as easily may be a type B.

    Look, I understand what you are saying, but I think there is much more certainty in Lilly pitching 200 innings at 4.00 ERA ball over the remainder of the season than any of Wood, Bailey, Harang or Leake.

  40. The Indians put Kerry Wood on the DL with a blister on his index finger. Bad timing for them if they were looking to move him before July 31.

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