2011 Reds / 2012 Reds / RN Radio

Redleg Nation Radio #64: So long, 2011. Welcome, 2012

Chad and Bill wrap up 2011 by looking at the recent events that may have put the Reds back into the driver’s seat in the NL Central. Plus, a discussion of Barry Larkin and his candidacy for the Hall of Fame. It’s the return of Redleg Nation Radio. Enjoy!

You can listen with the player at the bottom of this post or right-click here to download the mp3 file to listen at your leisure. For links to all previous episodes of Redleg Nation Radio, check out the podcast’s home page.

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46 thoughts on “Redleg Nation Radio #64: So long, 2011. Welcome, 2012

  1. Great podcast. But Bill? Bruce a superstar? Step away from the kool-aid.

    I like Bruce. He is a good player (I’ve said it many times), but he is N-O-T a superstar in my mind. Let him hit over .300 or hit 40 HRs for a few years (heck… do either once), or go to an allstar game or win a GG for a SS or something. Let him do something before we set that laurel on his head.

    I’m tired of him being mentioned in the same breath as Votto, Phillips, and Cueto when he hasn’t earned it. I really want him to earn it, I do. But makes a dozen or so great grabs in the field per year, throwing out guys at 3rd, and hitting the division clinching HR in 2010 when the division was already sown up doesn’t do it for me. Those are all good things, but if it makes him a superstar, I’m afraid we’ve slipped the bar a bit too much.

  2. Writing as I listen…. Bill said he wasn’t sure why Cairo is even on this team? Many here are high on him as I am but perhaps we need a post analyzing the total value Cairo. That would be great.

  3. I was one of the few who was in favor of the Cairo signing in 2010. But he’s been better than even I expected. His value was always in defense and baserunning, but he’s been a really good hitter since he became a Red. For him, anyway. I’m not sure what to make of it. A grizzled old vet finally figures it out? The Reds’ coaching? Just luck? I’m a little concerned he can’t keep it up. Fangraphs says he was worth $8.4 million this year, so his $1 million salary is a bargain.

  4. @BubbaFan: What we’ve seen in Cairo during his times with the Reds is a cagey old competitor who isn’t ready to hang up his playing spikes just yet.

    He has it figured out what it takes to stick and at this point is willing and capable to keep digging deeper and deeper to stick around. In his heart of hearts he probably wishes he knew what he knows now about the game and how to push himself that extra step further back when he had a lot more physical capability to give.

  5. Did I say Bruce was a superstar? Really? I don’t remember saying that and I know he’s not…but I think he’s a young player who has a high ceiling, though he did regress a little last year. I still have high hopes for him, only time will tell if that is misplaced.

    I will say again, I have no idea why Cairo is on this team (why he was signed to a 2 year deal) when younger players could easily put up the same productivity.

    • I will say again, I have no idea why Cairo is on this team (why he was signed to a 2 year deal) when younger players could easily put up the same productivity.

      @Bill Lack: Sounds like an excellent thread topic.

    • I will say again, I have no idea why Cairo is on this team (why he was signed to a 2 year deal) when younger players could easily put up the same productivity.

      Supposedly, the Reds were going to offer him 1 year for 2 million. Cairo wanted a two-year deal. It’s his first multi-year deal ever.

      You have a point about the younger guys. Cairo is blocking guys like Frazier. OTOH…a lot of managers prefer veterans for the bench. Young guys still adjusting to the big leagues need to play every day, or they get rusty and lose their timing. Dusty’s bench guys sometimes go for a week or more without playing time. That’s really not fair to the young guys. Cagey old guys like Cairo can deal with it, and even prefer it. (A few years back, Cairo turned down a starting job with the Mets for a utility job with the Yankees.)

  6. Sorry Bill. My post sounded more critical than I intended. I think the phrase was, “… your superstars like Votto, Bruce, and Phillips.”

    • Sorry Bill.My post sounded more critical than I intended.I think the phrase was, “… your superstars like Votto, Bruce, and Phillips.”

      If this is what I said…I misspoke… I would have meant “stars”…meaning he is a star on this team.

  7. @OhioJim:

    Yes, I think you’re right on that. Cairo says he thought he had it made after he finally managed to stick on a roster (the Rays, when he was 24). He was completely blindsided when the optioned him to the minors.

    He says ever since then, he doesn’t count on his roster spot and works like his career depended on it…because he knows it does.

    He’d been forced to sign minor league deals for several years before he joined the Reds, but somehow managed to end up on the big league roster every year anyway.

    He was in the Phillies system the year before he became a Red, and was the starting shortstop for the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He played against Drew Stubbs and the rest of the Bats in this series. (Alas, poor Stubby. I don’t think the IronPigs fans realized what a sensitive topic Ks are for Drew.)

  8. Word on the street is that Boras is trying to get a deal for Madson similar to the 3/$35M Soriano got last year.

    That might be too steep for us, but I’d still prefer him to Cordero any day.

  9. Great podcast, guys, enjoyed it. Only disagreement here is the value of Juan Francisco. I like him more than most, I guess. What I saw of him on third last year wasn’t awful and I love what I saw at the plate. .194 ISO, could take a few more walks, but he seems like the kind that sees it and hits it. Hyperbole, I know, but I would like to see him get an extended look.

  10. I think Juan Francisco is going to get an extended look. The Reds clearly see him as Rolen’s heir apparent.

    I have mixed feelings about him. His power is intoxicating. I saw him hit a home run at Hohokam that sailed over the berm and out of the park. People were just stunned. He didn’t even seem to swing that hard. I thought it would be a fly out, but it kept going…and going…and going.

    OTOH, his plate discipline is terrible. As Joel Luckhaupt has pointed out, guys like him don’t succeed on the big league level. He might be the exception, but he’d be the first.

    On the bright side…his defense has improved immensely. He always had a great arm (best infield arm in the organization, at least once Janish was called up). It seems like he’s working on the rest of it now. Apparently Dusty had someone talk to him about the importance of defense.

  11. @BubbaFan: Agree with yt ou on Francisco. His defense looks better. Beyond just his HRs, I bet his BABIP won’t be that bad either. If he hits 30 HRs and drives in 90+, how much do the K’s matter?

    • If he hits 30 HRs and drives in 90+, how much do the K’s matter?

      Joel’s piece on Francisco is here. He points out that power plus poor plate discipline = Corey Patterson.

  12. Some random comments on the podcast…

    I think the Reds did have a plan for 3B last year. They know Rolen can’t play every day, and Dusty said that the plan was to rest him even more than the previous year.

    Francisco was probably part of that plan, but they were also planning to use Renteria there. Some kind of massive miscommunication seems to have occurred. When he announced the signing, Walt said Renteria would be a utility infielder, playing 2B and 3B as well as SS. Renteria told the local sports media at the same time that he signed with the Reds because he wanted to be a starting SS. He never did play at 3B. Dusty put him in the lineup there once, but changed it before the game actually started. Dunno if he had second thoughts, or if Renteria pleaded his case.

    So yes, I think Walt really is planning for depth as much as he can. Who knew three third basemen and three shortstops wouldn’t be enough, or that our wealth of starting pitching would struggle as they did?

    As for the minor leaguers…they won’t rush the good prospects. The less esteemed players may be shuffled around. (Mike Costanzo bounced back and forth between AA and AAA last year, depending on need.) And yes, they’ll sign players as free agents if necessary. That’s the definition of minor league roster filler. (Costanzo, a former second round pick, was signed as a free agent after being released by the Orioles.) Another example is Brent Clevlen, signed out of the independent leagues last year to cover CF when Sappelt was injured.

  13. I am the only one worried about the Reds “up the middle” this year? They have arguably the best 2B in the league defensively who has also been a major offensive contributor but from there it all seems very iffy to me.

    Stubbs is inconsistent on both sides of the ball. His K rate stands out but he also makes his share of defensive blunders to go with the outstanding plays.

    At SS and C the Reds appear to be committed to giving the lion’s share of the PT to guys who are basically untested at the MLB level.

    All in all in it hardly seems like s favorable for a team supposedly going all in for the season.

  14. @OhioJim: You are not alone Jim. I keep looking at Cozart’s minor league numbers. He was really a average to poor hitter until his last year in the minors. I think he defense if pretty good, but I cannot find his UZR from the minors. While he doesn’t make many mistakes at SS, I cannot find any information about his range.

    On another note, there is a guy in the Tigers organization that may be worth having, and I think he could be had for a song. His name is Jerad Head. He’s 29 and has never been called up. But there are many things I like about him. Check him out and tell me if he wouldn’t be great for some depth in the OF. The more I read about this guy, the more I like him. He’s got a very interesting story.

    • I keep looking at Cozart’s minor league numbers.He was really a average to poor hitter until his last year in the minors. I think he defense if pretty good, but I cannot find his UZR from the minors.While he doesn’t make many mistakes at SS, I cannot find any information about his range.

      Yes. Cozart is a very similar player to Janish. They have similar minor league OPS’s; Janish has more patience, Cozart more power. On defense, Cozart is supposed to be very solid. His arm is nowhere near as good as Janish’s, but his footspeed is better.

      Cozart had a great year in Louisville this year (after a truly terrible start – he struggled to get above the Mendoza line the first month). But I think something weird was going on Louisville this year. A lot of the Bats were hitting crazy good, especially in the first half. Four of the top ten hitters in the IL were Bats.

      The knock on Cozart has always been his walk rate. It was only about 5%. Then in 2009, it jumped to 11%, and that’s when everyone starting talking about his being the SS of the future. But it turned out be a fluke. Since then, his walk rate has been about 6.5%. Better than it used to be, but not great.

  15. @OhioJim:

    I’m not too worried about Stubbs. He’s not going to make anyone glad we took him instead of Lincecum, but even this year, a down year for him on offense and defense, he was valuable enough.

    SS and C are a concern. Both those positions are ones where rookies can struggle to make the adjustment. The ball gets there so much faster on the big league level. But there will be Hanigan if Mez falters. And presumably Walt is going to sign another veteran SS as a Cozart alternative. I’m afraid it’s going to be The Riot.

  16. I’m contemplating starting a ground roots campaign called, “Give us Head!” The idea is to acquire OF Jared Head from the Tiger’s AAA affiliate. He’s an interesting guy. Don’t judge too quickly or you’ll miss the point.

    • I’m contemplating starting a ground roots campaign called, “Give us Head!”The idea is to acquire OF Jared Head from the Tiger’s AAA affiliate.He’s an interesting guy.Don’t judge too quickly or you’ll miss the point.

      Jerad Head actually has been been called up (August of this year), then DFA’d and outrighted. That made him eligible for minor league free agency, and he did declare free agency. He re-signed with the Tigers a month later. The Reds could have had him if they wanted him – via waiver claim, free agent signing, or Rule 5.

  17. I have to make one change to my earlier post about Jerad Head. He was called up last year while still in the Indians organization. He had 25 PAs in the Bigs last year and was dismal. But he’s got a great looking swing and seems to have a lot of maturity and composure in the box.

    He was picked up by the Tigers in November, but has spend most of his time in Ohio the past few years bouncing through the Indians’ farm system. He could be had from the Tigers though.

  18. @BubbaFan: He was going through all that when the Reds were still pretty deep in that position. Remember, through the Winter Meetings Alonso and Sappo were still in the organization and there were no solid plans to trade them. But now that the depth in the field has been thinned and he was available today via any of those means, I’m sure they would pick him up.

  19. At the risk of sounding like a “Sex and the City” character…why do you like Head so much? He does have some good numbers, but he was really old for the leagues he was playing in. A 27-year-old in AA better hit well. And not like this.

  20. @BubbaFan: I am not too worried about Catcher either, at least not the receiving and defensive side because in addition to Hanigan, they have Corky and this other jouneyman guy mentioned in the podcast, Epstien I believe they said was his name, under minor league contract.

    I know they have Janish behind Cozart in the same respect (defensive competence) for SS but they really need consistent positive offense from both SS and C unless they bite the bullet and trade for a basher for left field.

    Actually I think Janish’s greatest value might end up being as a trade commodity assuming the Reds come up with a veteran who can carry his weight defensively at SS since there ought to be an AL club of two that has the pitching and offense to be able to afford him in their number 9 slot to shore up their defense.

    It could continue to be an interesting hot stove season for the Reds…

  21. @BubbaFan: LOL. Funny.

    I’m not sure how age has much to do with numbers in the minor leagues.

    And finally, yeah… the arrest. It was determined that the bouncer started that fight and threw the first punch? Apparently the guy didn’t like Tomlin talking to his girlfriend. All the accusations by the girlfriend regarding name called, etc. were either made up or exaggerated and the charge was reduced to disorderly conduct. Poor reporting in that article. Kind of one sided, but apparently the lawyers told the guys to stay quiet so the only person talking to the reporter was the bouncer’s girlfriend.

  22. I’m hoping for the best for Janish, but I don’t know if he can be a starter, let alone in the AL. He’d be a good backup somewhere, maybe. (One of the Cards’ beat writers was talking about picking up Janish if the Reds nontendered him. I wondered for awhile if we’d swap shortstops, Janish for Theriot.)

    I think Janny is valuable for the Reds this year as minor league depth. He has options and can be called up and optioned down as needed this year. Next year, if Cozart has proven himself, they won’t need a veteran backup and Janish can be the backup SS. Otherwise, Janish will probably be traded or released. Without options, he’ll be much less useful.

  23. @BubbaFan: Completely agree. I think that’s the best way to use him.

    I like Janish and I think he is a superb defensive SS, though I’ve pretty much convinced that is his only contribution. He’s not productive off the bench so I agree, he is value at Louisville with a quick callup if depth is needed.

    In 2013, however, I don’t think he will be with the Reds organization unless he has a miraculous awakening at the plate. I don’t think his 2010 was a bad as everyone said. His 2011 was pretty awful though and he really couldn’t afford it. If it wasn’t for the fact that the organization was thin at the top levels right now, I really think he would have been nontendered.

    If the Reds do pick up a SS somehow (though I do not know where) Janish will be out based upon available 25 tickets to watch the game from the dugout.

  24. I think Janish will probably start the season in Louisville. Along with Frazier. Just not enough room on the roster.

    I do think he can hit well enough to be a decent utility guy. For one thing, he won’t be studied and scouted as much as a bench player. And I really think the main problem for him in 2011 was mental. You could see it when he sent down. He was just terrible the first few games. He went 1 for 22, and he looked awful. Not looking the ball in, body parts flying all over the place. Then he started to walk. Then hit. Then hit for power. He was OPSing .900 the last week or so before he was recalled.

    He’s said he prefers to fly below the radar, but you can’t really do that as the starting SS for a contending team. A bench job might be a better fit for him mentally.

  25. I wonder how old Bruce has to be to be considered overrated? To me, if you’re labeled as this fantastic player and you’re just good, you’re overrated. That’s Jay Bruce, his age can’t protect him from the hype he gets every offseason that he doesn’t live up to.

    Cairo has not only done everything the Reds have asked of him, but he has made plays in big situations with frequency. That’s why you watch the game and instead of spending your fanhood fawning over projections like so many people do nowadays.

  26. Cozart’s best defensive asset is his release. The man can get the ball out of his glove with the quickness. Certainly a quicker transaction (transfer and release) than Janish.

    • Cozart’s best defensive asset is his release.The man can get the ball out of his glove with the quickness.Certainly a quicker transaction (transfer and release) than Janish.

      I did notice that. Cozart’s arm isn’t that great. His throws always look like rainbows. And yet, they get there, even when it looks like he doesn’t time.

  27. To me, the biggest problem with Cairo is that he doesn’t play SS and what that does to our roster. Look at the dilemma it creates with Juan Francisco. The Reds can’t use Cairo and Francisco as the two UT infielders because neither could play SS for a week if Cozart gets hurt a little, but not enough to go on the DL. (If Cozart goes on the DL, I expect Janish to be called up from Louisville to take his roster spot.)

    Ideally, our crusty old veteran IF would be able to play some SS so we could bring up a youngish corner infielder with some pop in his bat as a pinch hitter. Someone like Orlando Cabrera would be perfect (as long as Baker didn’t use him as a starter), but you get the point.

    • Someone like Orlando Cabrera would be perfect (as long as Baker didn’t use him as a starter), but you get the point.

      You are a brave man to say that. But I agree. OC would be perfect if it wasn’t for Dusty.

  28. Some perspective on Jay Bruce: going into his age-25 season, Joey Votto had hit 28 home runs, going into his age-25 season (this year), Jay Bruce has hit 100.

    • Some perspective on Jay Bruce: going into his age-25 season, Joey Votto had hit 28 home runs, going into his age-25 season (this year), Jay Bruce has hit 100.

      Jay reached his potention before Votto. Well, I guess you’re right. Jay is better than Votto.

      All seriousness, to me age doesn’t mean much. While there definitely is a different development track between players drafted out of high school and college, Joey was in Jr College, so he could have gone either way. Regarless, IMO simply making it to the bigs younger simply means the player has more years during their productive years before they begin to decline in their early 30s. I think it is more fair to compare rookies, and second year players, etc. like they do for things like RoY. They don’t have a best 23 year old, and a best 24 year old. This is Jay’s fifth. This is both Jay’s and Joey’s 5th year (though Joey got called up during the roster expansion in September of ’07 and Jay in May of ’08). They were called up two playing months apart and yet Joey has 119 home runs to Jay’s 100.

  29. I think Cairo can play SS. Dusty hasn’t used him there, but in 2009, Cairo was the starting SS for the Phillies AAA team.

    But Walt is going to get an Orlando Cabrera type to back up Cozart. (Or a Ryan Theriot type.) He wants someone who can take over for Cozart if he sucks, not just someone who can back him up for a week.

    I really think the problem is Rolen, more than Cairo. Having to have two third basemen is really limiting.

    IMO, that was a big weakness of the team last year. Janish and Renteria both fell off a cliff at the same time. Janish was never the same after he sprained his ankle, and making it worse, he took Renteria with him. With both Rolen and Janish injured, Renteria had to play every day. And he just couldn’t handle it.

  30. @Steve Mancuso: True enough but as the Reds discovered with Jr Griffey there are a limited number of years on an outfielder’s legs.

    Jay Bruce looks to me to have essentially the same body type as Jr and is filling out the same way. Bruce does have the advantage of not playing on barley padded concrete for his home field, but still all the running will take its toll eventually. Barring traumatic injury, Bruce should make it through his current contract; but if he plays 140 games a year every year, he might not have that much left unless he is moved to 1B.

    • Jay Bruce looks to me to have essentially the same body type as Jr and is filling out the same way.

      Huh, I can’t say I can see that comparison at all. The Jr of my mind was tall and slender, especially in his 20’s. Jay is tall but thick. Jay at 25 is maybe more like Junior at 35. Minus the platonic ideal of a baseball swing.

  31. I dunno if home runs is the right metric to use. However, this year, Bruce hit more home runs than Votto, and he hit them farther. Last year, Votto hit more homers, but again, Bruce hit them farther. Bruce had more “no doubters” according to Hit Tracker. He was third in the NL in “no doubters” (behind Dunn and Fielder) last year.

    And FWIW…the second longest home run hit in 2011 was hit by Juan Francisco. Only Prince Fielder hit one farther. Man, if he could only develop some plate discipline, he’d be a monster.

    • Man, if he could only develop some plate discipline, he’d be a monster.

      Until he has his monster genes expessed, he’ll have to settle for being Willy Mo, unfortunately.

  32. @RedLeg75: I am with you .. Lets have a little more love for Jaun. I watched him here in Louisville the last two seasons and of course in Cincy. His defense has improved a ton. And he can swing the bat vs right handed pitchers and be a force. I am very concerned with him vs left handed pitching.. But that is true with most all young left handed hitters .. Let Rolen/Frazier/ Cario play against lefty pitching.. Lets give Jaun a shot at least vs right handers

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