Three new fantasy-oriented articles about the Reds can help pass the time until pitchers and catchers report.

Robert Bishop offers a look-ahead on the entire team, including this comment on the competition for left field:

The big battle is expected to go down in left field, where new signing Ryan Ludwick will try to resurrect his career by holding off 27 year-old Chris Heisey, who at this point in his career has a better chance at being a productive regular. 25 year-old Todd Frazier could find himself in the mix as well with a good spring. His chances of making the 25-man roster are bettered by the fact that he possesses enough positional flexibility to play corner spots in the infield or the outfield.

Mike Podhorzer at Rotographs digs into the peripherals to form an estimate for Homer Bailey’s 2012 season.  Podhorzer compares his conclusion (180 IP, 11 wins, 3.95 ERA) to other projections:

Overall, my projected line is the most optimistic, though not by much. It is understandable why the computer projections only project 160-166 innings, though I am a little surprised that the fans only project 162. Maybe the shoulder injury from last year is a factor, which admittedly it should be. All projections assume a high BABIP, which seems wrong when you look deeper into why his career BABIP is slightly higher than league average. We all expect some control regression, as well as a strikeout rate spike. In addition, we all expect improvement over last year, though stop short of projecting a full breakout.

Finally, Will Overton at Roto Professor tries to figure out if Mat Latos will make the leap to a major league ace.  His bottom line:

Latos is a 24 year old with good control and the potential to be dominating in terms of strikeouts. He doesn’t give up too many home runs and there are no real signs of his early successes having heavy luck involvement. There is a whole lot to like here. … There is more risk involved just because he hasn’t shown the ability to do it for a full season yet, but there is plenty of reward as well.

UPDATE: Mark Sheldon at MLB.Com has an excellent spring training article posted today. It offers a comprehensive treatment of the new guys, prospects to watch, the players we lost and those looking to rebound. He believes the fifth rotation spot will be a battle between Leake, Chapman and Francis.  His answer to the question of whether or not Devin Mesoraco is ready is this:

Mesoraco, the Reds’ No. 1 prospect, batted .180 as a September callup last season but earned high marks for his catching skills and working with the pitchers. The club showed its commitment to him by letting quality veteran Ramon Hernandez move on as a free agent. Mesoraco will likely split catching duties with veteran Ryan Hanigan in some sort of hybrid-platoon.

One more fantasy-slanted article spotlighting the Reds was posted by Kenneth Arthur at Fake Teams.  He identifies Joey Votto as the Reds best hitter and Mat Latos as the best pitcher. No surprises there. He also thinks Aroldis Chapman could be a breakout player and pegs Johnny Cueto as a possible disappointment.

The scary trend of Johnny Cueto: His K/9 has dropped every year he’s been in the majors, from 8.17 in 2008 to 6.00 last year. He had a .249 BABIP against in 2011 and that’s definitely going to rise. Cueto might be able to get by and post an ERA of 3.20 (much more likely than the 2.31 he posted last year) but that will only come with a few strikeouts.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 42 Comments

  1. I think Bailey gets too much of a bad rap here, but the article about him linked to seems too much like engineering to try to achieve a result to me. Bailey certainly could post a sub-4 ERA, but in my mind the author is straining pretty hard to explain why. To me, if he’s going to take that kind of step it’s more likely going to be because he starts actually dominating more. Maybe his second-half higher strikeout rate points to that, but it’s an awfully small sample.

  2. Boy, they’d better find a lot about Latos to like, otherwise we’ll have egg all over our face.
    Our offense should be fine no matter who mans left field, but I’m assuming there will be pie fights on this site most of the season about it. What intrigues me is the backup IF positions. I just don’t see how you keep Cairo and Francisco. One of them will have to go. Personally, I’m torn. While Francisco has his warts (K/BB ratio), the effects of age will catch up with Cairo, so who’s it gonna be?

  3. The price on Oswalt seems to be cratering. If he could be had for $6mil, do you pull the trigger?

  4. @Sultan of Swaff: I would take Franscisco over Cairo because of the amount of power he brings to the table.

    As for the Oswalt deal, at $6mil what do you have to lose at this point? Do it Walt!

  5. @Dave Lowenthal: I had the opposite take on that article. It seemed like he was adopting the conservative assumption that a 25-year-old pitcher won’t improve. Otherwise, he basically extrapolated peripherals that Homer has already accomplished.

  6. @Steve Mancuso: I agree with your take.

  7. @Steve Mancuso: I agree, we do NOT need Oswalt. Would he help? Yes a little. I think we are better off saving that $$$ and use it at the trade deadline, thats saying we have any $$ to spend anyways!

  8. @Steve Mancuso: You are starting from a viewpoint that is fairly pro-Bailey. That’s fine. And yes, his peripherals merit a better ERA. I’m about as pro-peripheral as there is, but Bailey has underperformed his peripherals every year in the bigs. At some point it’s no longer a surprise. I’d not be at all surprised to see him put up 7.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, good HR numbers, and a 4.5 ERA.

  9. @Dave Lowenthal: Note: I’m not attributing anything to psyche, magic, witches’ brew, or anything like that, either. I’ll leave that to the hate-Bailey crowd.

  10. Mike Leake never really seems to get much love. He seems like a pretty decent pitcher to me, well worthy of being a lock for a five man rotation.

  11. The Reds staff has been begging Cueto to go deeper into games, that may have something to do with his K’s per 9. Plus fastball, improving changeup, good slider. I’d like to see Meso and Hanigan call more fastballs high and in on hitters when Cueto has two strikes on the batter. He still has late run on that fastball.

  12. Not sure where the rumor that Oswalt would take $6 Million came from or that the market has crashed. Maybe it is correct, not discrediting, but the last news was that Boston has a standing offer for somewhere $5-7 million and are holding a spot for him. He has yet to sign. I think the belief is if the Reds match it and if none of his preferred teams sign him, given Oswalt’s desire to stay close to Mississippi he would choose Cincinnati over Boston. Perhaps this where that information is coming from, I don’t know. If not, can someone point me in the right direction?

    At this point, if I was Oswalt, I’d hold on until the Tommy John comes knocking for some “contenting” team during Spring Training and signing Oswalt at the Oswalt rate becomes a necessary.

  13. @TC: $6mil is less a rumor than a supposition… all Sultan said was “if he could be had for $6mil, would do pull the trigger.” I think the working assumption is that the longer Oswalt waits, the less teams are going to feel compelled to pay him at what he reportedly asked for. I believe that’s a fair assumption at this point… if Oswalt was going to get $10mil he probably would have gotten that by now. Who knows how low it actually goes down from there.

  14. Is there any research that indicates whether introducing new blood (Latos, Marshall, Madson, Ludwick) has an effect on improving performance of players who have been with the team? Could Latos’ approach have a positive effect on a Homer Bailey?

  15. @Jason1972: I’m with you, and I don’t agree with Sheldon that Leake is competing for the number 5 slot. He was our 2nd best starter in 2011. I see Homer and Chapman as competing for the number 5 slot, with Homer most likely getting it and Chapman being sent down to start at AAA.

    I’m not a detractor of Homer’s, he should definitely be in the rotation (and most likely will). But we know Bronson will be in the rotation, no matter how he pitches.

  16. The spotlight for me is on Bryan Price to make sure that this group of arms reaches its potential! There are alot of toys to play with compared to two years ago. Cueto took a huge step last year and I believe he will continue to shine this year, yet the question is; who will take that step this year. I love the idea of Bailey, but I truly believe Leake will become a true stud this year. Experience, added strength and his bulldog mentality will lead to very good things. OK numbers 14-6 sub 3.50 era and 180 innings. Just hoping!

  17. @secondguessingfanbase: The numbers do not back that up at all.

    Cueto’s largest drop in K’s was from year 1 to year 2, when his IP per start were basically unchanged. Last year he did pitch a half inning more per start, but his K’s per 9 dropped only from 6.7 to 6.0—that’s not nearly the drop he had from year 1 to year 2 (he dropped 1.3). Plus he’s throwing only 6.5 IP per start last year—that’s just not that much to where we should be expecting such a low strikeout rate.

    Let’s get you on the record, as you don’t think K’s per 9 are important. If Cueto hits 6 K’s per 9 this year, with 2.7 BB/9 (roughly on both), what do you think his ERA will be? Same as last year?

  18. @Y-City Jim: A recent study from the Hal McCoy Project declared it to be definitely true.

  19. I’m curious to see how the departures of Hernandez and Cordeiro will affect Cueto. how well Does he speak English? How will his communication with Meso/Hanigan be?

    And count me in the pro-Bailey camp. I’m willing to book him for twelve wins, 3.60ERA, about 175 IP, and 150k

    • I’m curious to see how the departures of Hernandez and Cordeiro will affect Cueto. how well Does he speak English? How will his communication with Meso/Hanigan be?

      And count me in the pro-Bailey camp. I’m willing to book him for twelve wins, 3.60ERA, about 175 IP, and 150k

      I can’t speak to how well he does (though I’m optimistic), but I’ve been told that he speaks English “well enough”…but isn’t comfortable with doing it in interviews.

  20. @cliff: That’s really far too optimistic for Bailey. Way, way too optimistic given a non dominating K/9…and where does the 175 IP come from? That’s overly optimistic too. 3.60 ERA? Really?

    All those things are possible, but I’d hang about a 5% or less probability on them.

    • @cliff: That’s really far too optimistic for Bailey.Way, way too optimistic given a non dominating K/9…and where does the 175 IP come from?That’s overly optimistic too.3.60 ERA?Really?

      All those things are possible, but I’d hang about a 5% or less probability on them.

      There were starts last year where he did dominate, it’s all a matter of staying healthy. His ERA was also killed by two or three horrible starts, including one where he gave up 9 ER, and if you remove that start alone he had a sub-4 ERA. I’m predicting he stays healthy, and continues improving, maybe my original projection was a stretch, but I think he can put up similar numbers.

  21. More on Leake: I think that what he’s done in 2 professional seasons is underrated, maybe not so much here, but by Sheldon and in general. Outside of Cincy fans, he’s mainly known as a shoplifter.

    One of the mlbnetwork guys said that Leake is the calmest player he’s ever met, that Leake has the calmness to detonate bombs. He’s a thinking man’s pitcher, mentored by Bronson.

    I’m bullish on Leake and Homer. Just stay healthy, Homer.

  22. @cliff: And every pitcher has starts where he’s horrible.

  23. @cliff: bailey has shown nothing up to this point other than 120 ip 4.75 era kinda guy…..i think the biggest variable on this team that is actually realistic is votto hitting 40 plus homers again…..if votto has mvp type season the reds will be in contention……i still don’t trust our starting staff

  24. the one move i really had no interest in this offseason was trading wood for marshall, u rent a LH for a year and give up a guy who took philly into the 9th with a no-no less than 2 seasons ago? I don’t like that move, i know wood had his issues last season but IMO he will be a quality major league starter

  25. @zab1983: Bailey’s had three straight years at 0.25 better ERA than what you just said. Is anyone rational about Bailey?

  26. @Dave Lowenthal: Expectations are like Reds’ fans kryptonite. I wonder if anything Stubbs, Bruce & Bailey ever do will be good enough…

  27. The problem with Reds’ fans is that they have been so jaded by true busts that they don’t recognize what a real bust is anymore. Bailey (and to an extent Bruce and stubbs) will have to play all star baseball for a decade to escape the stigma of the Ryan Wagners of the world. TRUE busts don’t lead the nl RFs in WAR(bruce) join the 20/20 club while playing a stellar CF(stubbs) or post a combined 4.7 WAR(according to fangraphs) in their ages 22/23/24 seasons after struggling as a rushed rookie(Bailey)

    In my opinion, homer is in Alex Smiths shoes, an embattled first pick needing to prove himself (despite never pitching as badly as smith used to play QB)

    torii hunter didn’t become the player he was until he reached about 28, and he plays a similar game to stubbs. Bruce is only 25 and already is a cleanup hitter(according to all of us on here) and halladay, carpenter, lee, and countless other pitchers got shellacked far worse than Bailey before becoming aces.

    Why is it that when gurus like bill James predict a recession for Cueto based on his perriferals, we believe it, but when other experts (my novice guess aside) predict it’s homer time,- we look got ever reason not to believe it?

    It’s the witchcraft, this site just plain doesn’t like Bailey, makes up reasons for him to not be good. He’s the poster child for what seems to be going on with all these Young Reds. He is one of the three best starting pitchers on this team and can’t buy a fan on this blog.

  28. Wow… I’d actually say that Bailey has just as many supporters on this blog than detractors. Cut away the folks on game day threads that cry about his mental make-up in the heat of the moment and I think you’d find a lot of people that like Bailey. Dave L has always been tough but fair on the guy if you’re responding about him. As for predicting Homer time… the only issue there is that it’s been predicted multiple years in a row, and I think some people are reacting to that.

  29. That wasn’t aimed at any one person in particular.. But, if mike leake has a bad inning, OK they just got to him. Bailey has a bad inning, he’s a hot head who can’t keep a lid on his frustration. All his perriferals predict him being our third(or second) best starter, and yet I only hear talk of putting him in the pen on here. And maybe the supporter/detractor ratio is about even, but the detractors are far more extreme.

    As for homer time, although he hasnt broken out, he’s been a solid pitcher and at 25, labelling him a disappointment is premature.

  30. @cliff: Wow, that was awesome.

  31. I haven’t been on to post in awhile. Anyways, with all the talk about our starting rotation and Oswalt, has anyone been reading up on Burnett to Pirates talk? Let me ask this, what is the difference between Arroyo and Burnett?

  32. @David: Yanks are apparently willing to cover some portion of the contract. Also, Bronson’s deferrals become immediately payable if he’s traded.

  33. @cliff: Nice post Cliff.

  34. @CP: The talk I see is that the Pirates would be acquiring Burnett for low-level prospects and paying him 12 million for 2012 and 2013. Total. That’s the difference. I’d much rather have Burnett for 6M than Arroyo for 12M (per year).

  35. @cliff: I will say that to be fair, there are good reasons to say, if possible, trade Stubbs or Bailey—they are risky or going to become expensive soon and getting someone else to take on their risk and/or cost, assuming the return were good (which I doubt, admittedly, especially for Bailey), would not be unreasonable.

    In the case of Stubbs, if someone valued him and didn’t care about K’s, I’d trade him, if it got the Reds something valuable (for example, in July, if something were needed to win the division). I’m assuming here that he performs in a similar manner to 2011, or maybe in between 2010 and 2011. To ignore Stubbs’ downside risk is to ignore reality, in my opinion. The fact that he was 20-20 in his first year does not change that downside risk. His strikeouts must be considered when trying to project out the kind of player that he will become (along with all of his stats, of course). Note that this is not saying that in isolation, I care about how many times he strikes out.

    Bruce shouldn’t be compared to either Stubbs or Bailey. Bruce is very good, and Stubbs and Bailey are average players at this point in their careers. I suppose you could make an argument for Stubbs being very slightly above average.

  36. All I meant by grouping them together is that, the minute they start to slump, a lot of the reds fans on here (admittedly I don’t closely follow any other reds blogs) are quick to make drastic proclamations. Do you remember when a lot of people wanted to demote Bruce because he was slumping?

    And of course a believe that if you can make a trade that improves your ballclub in both the short and long term, you pull the trigger. That being said, I think what people would consider “improvement” is a lower bar than where it should be. Do we all remember what it would’ve taken to get upton from Tampa last year? I think stubbs would be worthy of a similar (lesser, but comparable) haul and I think people here would settle for a good bit less.(reiterating my point that we undervalue him because we all know what he COULD’VE been)

    And in baileys case… I ask you to consider this…

    Bailey: third (MAYBE fourth) best starter we have.

    25 year old Mid-rotation pitchers are quite valuable no matter who you ask.

    When you ask most people around here what they think his trade value is, they will tell you “probably pretty low”

    Am I the only one seeing the discrepancy?

  37. ERA+ of the Reds third best starter for all their playoff years since 1960:
    2010 105
    1999* 112
    1995 116
    1990 111
    1979 104
    1976 114
    1975 101
    1973 104
    1972 101
    1970 117
    1961 116

    Best year by Bailey: 93 (Career: 85)

    His SO + BB numbers have improved since 2009, so it’s possible he gets better. Assuming he doesn’t keep getting hurt. But right now he’s not good enough to be middle of a rotation guy on a team that’s as good as we want this team to be… and 2012 will be the third year in a row waiting for him to step up.

    He’s better than Bronson. Especially this year I’m sure, because Bronson ain’t getting any better from here on out…

  38. While I find that statistic interesting, I don’t see how it makes Bailey unvaluable. He is still a 25 year old who on this team, as currently constituted, is our third best starter. While he isn’t a #3 on a team with a deep rotation right now, he is on this one. If you want to make a criticism, I think it would be that our staff isn’t deeper.

    Here’s an interesting experiment I would love to try:

    Take player X and Show him with identical projections for this year, and perriferals of Bailey over the last few years(because of the improvement) and see how many baseball fans would want that player on their team.

    I would bet money that us, as reds fans, would want him on our team far more than Bailey. Because he has the stigma I’ve been referring to.

  39. Bailey’s value is low because he’s never had a good season in terms of actual production and is about to become more expensive. His value to the Reds is much higher than to anyone else. It seems silly to trade him because of those reasons.

    To say that he’s the third best starter on the team, even if true (I think that’s in some question, though it may be true), is irrelevant in terms of his value. I mean, for example, Arroyo is the Reds 5th best starter, and he has zero value, whereas some teams’ 5th best starter has a lot of value.

Comments are closed.

About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2012 Reds, Reds - General


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