2011 Reds

Taking a look at 2011

Over the course of the off-season, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at Cincinnati’s strengths and weaknesses, and what GM Walt Jocketty can do to improve the club. I know we’ve been debating just this topic ad nauseum, but in the interests of trying to kill this horse so we can beat it further during the off-season, I thought we’d jump right in.

It’s pretty clear — to me, anyway — that there are four primary areas the Reds are going to need to address:

1. LF
2. SS
3. C
4. 3B

1. The most pressing area of need is left field, and nothing is really close, as far as I’m concerned. Cincinnati left fielders (primarily Jonny Gomes, of course) were among the National League’s worst, both offensively and defensively. We all love Gomes (well, most of us), but he isn’t the answer. Other than about six weeks of excellent offensive production, Gomes was as bad as anyone in the league at that position.

What do we want from LF? An easy in-house solution to this problem would be to install Chris Heisey in LF. Heisey may or may not hit better than Gomes, but he should get on base more often, and he would be a substantial improvement defensively. If nothing else, it’s an almost guaranteed slight improvement.

Of course, since the Reds are likely to have decreased production from at least two spots next year (3B and C), it would be nice to see the Reds go out and acquire a big bat for left field. It will never happen in a million years, but the acquisition of soon-to-be free agent Carl Crawford would be a huge upgrade. Yes, I’m dreaming here.

My predictions: (A)the Reds will sign Jonny Gomes to a one-year deal, and he’ll be the Opening Day left fielder for the Reds; and (B) I will pull my hair out.

2. The Reds are going to have to figure out what they’re going to do at SS. Again, there’s an easy solution: give the job to Paul Janish. He’ll probably hit as well as Orlando Cabrera did this year, but his defense should be among the league’s best. There aren’t many SS who can hit, and who would be available. I’m fine with the Reds just handing the job to Janish.

Six weeks ago, I would’ve predicted that Cabrera would return. Now, I’m not so sure. Are there any other ways to upgrade the position? Maybe Stephen Drew, but I don’t see any free agents who could be expected to help.

3. The Reds got great production from the catchers this year. We’ll have to see what they do with Ramon Hernandez; the club has an option on Hernandez for $3.25 million next year. I expect that they will exercise that option, but it’s something to be watched.

I do not expect that the catchers will produce next year as well as they did this year, but the Hernandez/Ryan Hanigan duo is a pretty good one in comparison to the rest of the league.

4. Cincinnati absolutely must find a caddy for Scott Rolen at 3B. The last two months have shown us that Rolen can’t be expected to be healthy and productive for an entire season. He played more games this year than he’s played in half a decade, and by the end, he looked worn down and he was almost worthless to the team. The Reds should make it a priority to find a good backup.


A related question is posed by Red Reporter this morning: “Are you willing to part with some of the starting pitching depth to get a quality starting option in left field or at shortstop? If so, which pitchers are you most likely to part with? Would you trade Wood or Leake? How about Bailey or Cueto or Volquez?”

Obviously, Yonder Alonso is destined to be traded, but the Reds are going to be forced to seriously evaluate their pitching to determine who they are comfortable dealing. They have a surplus of good young pitching. Which of those pitchers would you trade?

Okay, what are your thoughts? What areas are the problem spots, and who would you trade to address those weaknesses?

170 thoughts on “Taking a look at 2011

  1. Here’s a link to an article on Homer Bailey that I ran across today. I apologize for its fantasy baseball framework (thankfully, that’s not what we do here) but if you can navigate around that there is some interesting content:

    1. His excellent peripherals pointing to a possible breakout year in 2011.

    2. The possibility his injury this year was due to his innings pitched load in 2009.

    You won’t find the words “Cy Young” in this article, but it does offer more reason for hope.


    • What about Edmonds, Springer, Isringhausen…all which got hurt.

      No team starts having open tryouts in a pennant race. (Although Francisco had more PA than Edmonds and Bloomquist, combined). I don’t know how anyone can conclude “Walt doesn’t like to build with young players,” based on this season.

  2. And for those who dismiss Arroyo and what he has done…just look at the rest of the rotation and how many starts they missed the last 3 years. Arroyo is the only starter not to get hurt, he is a crafty pitcher and doesn’t use much arm/shoulder damaging techniques. I think Arroyo is the most important pitcher on the staff, and I wouldn’t have said that before this season. He doesn’t blow you away, but he gets the job done.

  3. @David:

    I agree with this: I think Bailey will be gone. It just “smells” like that is going to happen. And I think the organization will regret it for the next ten years. Really hope I’m wrong (on either count).

  4. Bizarre random comment:

    It’s going to be fun off season. I’m looking forward to analyzing the hot stove league with you all. Some great thoughts, comments, and observations in this thread. Wish the organization would hire one of us to lobby for the RLN consensus on the tough decisions coming up.

  5. Nobody has mentioned a player that I’d be quietly dangling as trade bait for that new LF – Brandon Phillips. He’s got big money in his near future, he’s reaching a point where age and injury might be starting to erode his physical gifts… I’m just sayin’.

  6. @Chris Garber: Sorry, I wasn’t clear. Before the series, I said Cueto, Wood, Bailey. You could check the archives. I meant to say he left out the wrong 2 pitchers, of course I didn’t want Leake to pitch in the series.

  7. @BJ Ruble: I really disagree strongly with this for 2011. I’d agree if the Reds didn’t have the pitching depth they have.

  8. @RC: It’s occurred to me also. It would depend on what he’d be worth to teams.

  9. You take a team that has not had a winning season in how long, you win 91 games and the Central Division and you still get no respect? I mean enough already, exactly what does Dusty have to do to get some respect? If he is so stupid and bad did he just get lucky with 3 seperate teams? Did he make some dumb moves throughout the season, sure, name me any manager who doesn’t. This idea that Walt needs to “Dusty” proof the roster is just flat out sad.

    • I mean enough already, exactly what does Dusty have to do to get some respect? If he is so stupid and bad did he just get lucky with 3 seperate teams?

      He’s a great people person. It worked in SF, it worked for a while in Chicago then it exploded on him. He’s not a good tactical manager in any sense of the words. Really really not…

      It also helped that he Bonds in SF and Sosa in Chicago…

  10. @Dave Lowenthal:

    David it didn’t matter whom we pitched or when. We scored 4 runs in 27 innings against the Phils. We could have throw Cliff Lee and it would not have mattered. Our MVP didn’t show up, our great RF and good CF didn’t show up. None of hitters showed up for this series, so WHOM we pitched and in what order is moot.

  11. @RC:

    He is to popular right now to trade and while that should not matter, outside of some team just making a “stupid” type offer deal, Phillips isn’t going anywhere this offseson. In fact i don’t see Walt doing much to this team in the offseason. They might look at LF, but I just don’t see any major deals or signing. I see the opening day lineup being the same as it was in teh final game against philly with either Bronson or Cueto as your opening day starter. I don’t see Chapman on the roster either as i see him in AAA again working on his starting ability and the Reds waiting till he is ready then moving a pitcher for some position player and calling him up.

  12. @David:

    It’s funny that you mention Cliff Lee, as he is the “true ace” whose “stuff” least fits the mold of an ace. He isn’t an overpowering pitcher velocity-wise, nor does he employ Barry Zito circa 2002 movement he just hits his spots every time. He doesn’t use a lot of breaking pitches or offspeed stuff anymore. He just changes speeds, arm slots, whatever, and paints the corners.

    I think Travis Wood impressed a lot of people this year. What I was most impressed by, however, was his ability to throw strikes. He doesn’t overpower, but his control is great. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if he decided to pitch like Cliff Lee. It would be wayyyyy cheaper! Fingers crossed?

  13. Lot’s of interesting ideas. i still maintain that Arroyo is the one we should try to sign and trade.

  14. @Steve Price:

    I’ve never really got Baker’s “people person” reputation. I mean, Bonds and Kent got in fist fights in San Francisco, and he got fired in Chicago largely because that clubhouse was a wreck.

    And yeah, he had Bonds and Kent in San Francisco and a loaded roster in Chicago.

  15. @Brien Jackson:

    But in all fairness, at least two of the three people in the last roster were loaded up on steroids, and…angry people. I tried.

    I think the biggest issue with Dusty’s tenures is his tendency to stick with people. He sticks with their “style” or their competitiveness, or their pride. He lets the players, by and large, manage themselves. It works out at some point, when the stars align, and his team makes the playoffs. Because of this tendency the teams may get bounced from the playoffs before they are due. That could be because he wore out certain players by sticking with them throughout the season or whatever. This, however, gives him a blank check to continue doing the same thing the next season. At some point, too many people get broken, slump, etc. The team starts losing. If nothing else, professional athletes are competitive. They wouldn’t blame Dusty, because he’s a great guy, and sticks by his players. So, they get pissed at each other and a year later, Dusty gets the sack.

    To me, I’ve always thought Dusty’s calling was as an agent. He would be the best agent ever. Manager…well…you can’t say he doesn’t look at the bright side.

  16. Also, I’m wondering about Juan Pierre. He gets something like 8 mil next season, is 33, has a career OBP of .340 or so, would be a free agent in 2012, just led the league in SB’s. Not much of an arm from what I’ve heard, but serviceable in left. I’m not sure I like it, but it sounds right up the brass’s alley. Thoughts?

  17. @dn4192: Just because it’s true that the Reds would have lost this series pitching Cueto, Wood, and Bailey doesn’t mean that Dusty shouldn’t have pitched those guys. I wish you could address that issue instead of telling me that if you don’t score, you can’t win, which we all know.

    He also could have pitched Maloney, Harang, and Lecure and the same result would have occurred.

  18. @dn4192: The whole point of the post, going back, was whether or not Dusty can be trusted to make decisions between players that don’t have wildly dissimilar stats. Dusty can determine that Votto should play over, say, Miguel Cairo at 1st base. What he can’t (always) do is bring himself past the “play the guy with experience” thing. I give him credit for sticking with Bruce and Stubbs, though in Bruce’s case he was helped by the fact that their outfield was horrible. Stubbs, a lot of guys would have sent him down, including me, so that’s five points in Dusty’s favor.

    But he played Rolen in the playoffs, Cabrera all year, Gomes whenever he could, etc. And in my mind he picked only 1 of the right 3 pitchers. This series, who cares? What about next year? 2012?

  19. @Steve Price: Steve, if presented with data that refutes what I used to believe, I change my mind. You were (apparently, as we haven’t seen what will happen in 2011) right on.

    I always agreed he shouldn’t have ever been brought up in 2007, I said so at the time, I remember being furious at Narron for leaving him in for something like 115 pitches in his debut. I also remember being in the minority about bringing Bailey up.

    The Bailey I watched in the 2nd half of 2010 wasn’t the Bailey that I used to watch. This one threw harder, had more break on his breaking ball, had better control. He’s still not there, but he’s close. I mean, the thing everyone was pissed about this year was one pitch to Holliday where he shook off Hanigan, which I still maintain was patently ridiculous for Baker to rip him. But the big picture: we’re worried about one pitch in a game where Bailey gave up 4 runs in 6 innings to the Cards on the road. That’s a ton of progress there.

    • The Bailey I watched in the 2nd half of 2010 wasn’t the Bailey that I used to watch. This one threw harder, had more break on his breaking ball, had better control. He’s still not there, but he’s close.

      Didn’t he do the same thing in the 2nd half of 2009?

  20. @Dave Lowenthal: On Bailey….
    And in the that game in StLouis with the 3 run HR, wasn’t he victimized by some loose OF play in front of the HR? Also I believe that Bailey said himself that he missed his location on the fateful pitch and that Hanigan agreed afterwards that had Bailey hit the spot the pitch would have gotten the job done given the way Holliday cheated for the slider away.

    I felt like Bailey passed Cueto in consistentcy when he came back off of the DL. Cueto still had a couple of games where he was off the charts better than Bailey but Cueto also had more stinkers than Bailey over the stretch.

    Fairness to Cueto here…. He did not have the advantage of a 2 month break in the middle of the season; and that could have been a factor.

    Still, at this point if I were to look at needing to trade one of the two, I would lead with Cueto because he probably still has more value and he is arbitration eligble.

    But I wouldn’t trade either except as part of a really significant deal and only then if it had to be one of them versus somebody else not named Chapman. They both showed enough versus the Phils to give hope that they could be within a year of starting to dominate like the Philles pitchers did. I want them both pitching for the Reds in 2011.

  21. I am not really sure this is the thread or spot to vent this in but here goes. Is anybody else still having some trouble putting that whole sequence with Chase Utley in the 7th inning of game 2 to rest?

    As has been said above about the Reds pitching choices, it wasn’t going to change the eventual outcome of the series had those plays been called correctly. However the whole sequence was so out of whack; and who is to say it couldn’t happen again in a series that wasn’t so tilted anyway?

    How can it have stood that a man “stole” 1st; was called safe when out at 2nd and then socred without even touching 3rd base. If it was basketball or hockey or even the NFL, I think the whole thing would have been seem as blatant homerism.

    It has made me a supporter of expanded use of replay that’s for sure. I’m still not sure about replay on things like force out calls but certaimly there is enough stuff that goes on there around home plate where the replay could make a difference and should be definitive. Plays involving whether a batter was or was not hit by a pitch or whether the ball hit the knob of the bat or the hand of the batter or was a hit ball foul because it struck the batter’s leg or foot. We see plays like this multiple times every year that get called wrong and impact the outcome of games. Why not try replay to get it right?

    OK off of my soapbox.

  22. Before Bailey can be penciled in as a #1 starter he needs to prove he can average more than 5.2 innings per start and be able to sustain some sort of effectiveness the 3rd time thru an order. One thing going for him is his PQSdom% after coming off the DL was 70%

    Wood will likely have to make some adjustments next year when teams will have a book on him. Facing a team for the 1st time his ERA was 2.99; 2nd time facing a team his ERA was 4.59

  23. @LVW: Bailey, yes, I said I felt he was “not there yet”, and to me, part of that is being able to put guys away quickly when he gets ahead 0-2 and 1-2. He hasn’t done that, and it runs his pitch count up. I really hope the Reds are done wanting him to pitch to contact though. They don’t want Volquez to pitch to contact, neither should they want Bailey to.

    However, in the postseason, if a guy goes 6 great innings, in my mind, that’s sufficient. I’d rather have Rijo going 8 or 9, but I’ll take 6 ace innings and then bring in my pen.

    For Wood, I think he’ll need to make adjustments, but I think the ERA stat you gave is a bit misleading. For example, down the stretch his ERA was 4.30, and worse than that against teams he faced a second time, but his peripheral stats were phenomenal, 30K and 4BB in 29IP. He also only had 6 games against teams for more than the first time.

    Mind you, I don’t think Wood is a number 1 starter or anything. I don’t think he’ll ever be Cliff Lee, either.

  24. @OhioJim: You know, until you mentioned it, I’d blocked out of my mind that Utley did all those things in the same inning. Wow.

  25. @OhioJim: Yeah, I had forgot that, too. Now I’m mad again.

    We are awfully familiar with the concept “hustling can certainly mean cheating.”

  26. Keeping Hernandez and Hannigan togther is the smart play, considering the other availalbe options at catcher. Do the 60/40 split again, this time with Hannigan being the 60, and I am satisfied with the play behind the dish. As far as keeping both our current options and adding Corky on top of that, we would be back to the 3 headed catching monster. me. no. want.

    Comparing Freel to Figgins is valid I guess. Both their names begin with ‘F’. Beyond that I don’t see much to compare.

    I still can’t believe that someone didn’t jump out of the dugout on Utley’s phantom tag of third. Especially after how he got to first and second. Would it have made any difference? Probably not, but it at least shows you are paying attention and have a passion regarding what is going on.

    I’m not mad at taking a flyer on guys like Springer, Izzy, or Edmonds. You are not counting on them to be a star, just someone on the end of the bench who can possibly contribute on a big stage as opposed to some kid who is still in shock he doesn’t have to carry his own bags at the hotel. They weren’t blocking anyone.

    I created an “all nice team” to face my ultimate “all jerk team” on my playstation. They played a three game series. Jerks swept the series and won all three games by a combined score of 33-14. It was just ugly. I’m sure there is a message in there somewhere.

    I’m still trying to vote Votto.

    I really want a high OBP good defender for LF. I wouldn’t think that would be crazy expensive.

    Ditto for SS, but that probably would be crazy expensive.

    I’m ready for the hot stove to heat up.

  27. Someone faulted Dusty for playing Rolen during the playoffs? Really? Maybe you could fault him for batting him cleanup–but would you really prefer Fransisco or Cabrera at 3rd?

    Re: Dusty. C’mon, you really can’t just say “he simply had loaded rosters.” 1) Would you call this roster loaded? I would not (yet), otherwise the Reds would not have been predicted to finish 3rd or worse in the Central. 2) So what if he had talent, it does not diminish his achievements — particularly when many loaded rosters do not go on to make the playoffs or succeed in the playoffs.

  28. I think finding the right LF will be key for the off season.

    I’m not sure what his contract situation is, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Cody Ross back in a Reds uniform and patrolling Left Field. I thought that at the trade deadline – and was dismayed when SF got him. Defensively minded with occasional pop offensively. Gomes was on fire for a month. And it infuriated me when Welsh or Brantley would quote his average with 2 outs and RISP, because he was so futile in the last months of the season. Most of his ABs resulted in strike outs and pop ups.

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