2012 Post-season / 2012 Reds

The Playoff Roster and Devin Mesoraco

Devin Mesoraco was optioned to AAA Louisville yesterday for relief pitcher J.J. Hoover. Unless he’s replacing an injured player, Mesoraco will have to stay in the minors for 10 days, which has fans questioning his availability on the Reds playoff roster.

Under Major League Rule 40 (a), the pool of players eligible for the postseason consists of the 25 players on the active roster and any players on the disabled, bereavement, suspended or military lists before midnight ET on August 31.

So, there is a concern. Barring an injury to another player, Mesoraco will not be on the 25-man roster, the DL, or any other automatic eligible player list. HOWEVER, there is an exception to the rule. Even though Devin will be in the minor leagues on September 1st, Mesoraco could still be part of the pool of playoff eligible players. I’ve have confirmed this in many places online, but I think Baseball Prospectus lays it out most clearly:

If an eligible player cannot play in a post-season series because of injury, his club may petition the Commissioner’s office to replace him with any player who was in the organization on August 31, provided the replacement was included on the roster of a minor-league affiliate at the end of the major-league season.

So, any player on the DL at the end of the season, who remains unavailable for postseason play, can be replaced in the player pool with any other player in the organization, provided that the player wasn’t added to the Reds or a minor league affiliate in September.

If today was September 1st, that would mean that the 25 players active today would be in the playoff pool, along with Joey Votto, Nick Masset, Bill Bray, and Ryan Madson. That’s 29 playoff eligible players that the Reds could choose from each round. (Once you get to October, the team can select its 25 players each round)

Madson is certainly not coming back to pitch this season, so his roster spot in the playoff pool is available to Devin Mesoraco, Logan Ondrusek, or Billy Hamilton. If Bill Bray or Nick Masset were unable to return from the DL, then their spots would be available to be filled by minor league players, too.

Now the Reds just need to put the division away and get back to the playoffs!

UPDATED with Baker’s comments from John Fay:

The Reds still plan on having Devin Mesoraco on the postseason roster.

“We’re hoping so,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re hoping that’s what the final outcome is. It depends on him. It depends on the progress he makes. We really want to stress it had nothing to do with his suspension.

“This has been dabbled about for a while. You could see his confidence had gone down some. We want him to get his confidence back — offensively, defensively, throwing, all kind of ways. I had a long chat with him. He’s struggled before but he always comes back.”

28 thoughts on “The Playoff Roster and Devin Mesoraco

  1. Greg, thanks for the detailed research and analysis for this situation. There has been a lot of discussion, supposition and conjecture regrading the negative impact on the team chemistry and morale by adjusting the top of the order lineup to obtain a better OBP in front of the run producers or the negative impact on the team chemistry and morale by providing some players who have produced at a higher level for the entire year, more playing time at the expense of players who have produced at a lower level for the entire year. From my perspective, demoting a player who has been a member of the team for the entire year just before the playoff rosters are set has the potential for a more serious negative impact on the team morale and chemistry. Quite frankly, with the player leadership and professionalism on this team (i.e. Votto, Phillips, Rolen, Ludwick & Frazier), I don’t see any of these situations having any impact, positive or negative, on the team morale and chemistry.

  2. I hope Dusty/Walt haven’t decided to put Navarro on the post-season roster instead of Mesoraco, but it looks like they may have. Not only is there the issue of Mesoraco deserving it since he has been on the team all year, but he would be a better backup catcher than Navarro. I’m fine with having Hanigan catch every single post-season game if he can swing it with durability issues and days off. But I’d still rather have Mesoraco on the bench as a pinch hitter and the back-up catcher.

    While I think Dusty/Walt have done an excellent job breaking in Mesoraco this year, I hope they don’t default to Navarro because Baker is more comfortable with his veteran-ness.

  3. The way I read that rule is a little more nuanced. I believe it treats the 60 man (Madson, Masset) a little differently. The way I’ve seen the rule written, 60 man guys can only be replaced by someone who plays the same position. I’m not sure if it’s MEANT to be that restrictive, but the language I’ve seen does have that qualification.

    It’s moot, of course, since Mez can just replace Bray (assuming Joey is activated before next week), but I was confused when I looked at this the other day. I’m also not aware if someone can be moved from the 60 man to the 15 man, and/or if that has implications on the 40 man roster.

  4. @Steve Mancuso:
    @BloodyHo:
    I added comments that Baker made on the situation last night. As I understand it, the message to Mesoraco (and the team) isn’t that Mesoraco is off the playoff roster. Obviously, it depends on how the message was delivered and how the players perceived it, but Baker said to reporters that Mesoraco was still a possibility for the playoff roster.

    @Chris Garber: I think that may have been an older rule. As it is currently applied, there is no distinction between the 15-day and 60-day DL. The only time a replacement player has to be of the same position is when a player is replaced mid-series. Let’s say Broxton is on the playoff roster, gets injured in game 6, and is out for the series. The Reds could not replace him on the roster with Mesoraco (or another position player.)

    • @Greg Dafler:

      As I understand it, the message to Mesoraco (and the team) isn’t that Mesoraco is off the playoff roster. Obviously, it depends on how the message was delivered and how the players perceived it, but Baker said to reporters that Mesoraco was still a possibility for the playoff roster.

      Greg, I read those quotes from Mr. Baker. After reading them last night, my impression was those comments reeked of the same hogwash thrown out there when Frazier was shunned after spring training.

  5. Hannigan was not supposed to be as good as he has turned out to be. Mesaraco was the future catcher. Just goes to show ya’ – players are as players do.

  6. I want to question this rule. What is stopping organizations from calling up players and putting them on the DL for the sole purpose of doing this?

    Can the Reds can say, I want to go with 12 relief pitchers and 1 catcher. Then replace Bray or Madsen with Mes? I would think the rule would apply if Navarro or someone else gets hurt after September 1st, it seems advantageous to have as many players as possible (whether you want them on your playoff roster or not) on the DL August 31st.

    • Can the Reds can say, I want to go with 12 relief pitchers and 1 catcher. Then replace Bray or Madsen with Mes? I would think the rule would apply if Navarro or someone else gets hurt after September 1st, it seems advantageous to have as many players as possible (whether you want them on your playoff roster or not) on the DL August 31st.

      But for the fact that you’d have to do without said player for 15 days in August/September, it’s possible. MLB has the power to investigate abuses of the DL, also.

  7. What I meant to say is I am questioning this interpretation, for example if Votto just cannot go for the rest of the year, do the Reds really have the luxury of putting someone else who is not currently on the roster in his place (essentially cutting someone who is on the roster)

  8. At this point why worry? Heck we might have to go into the playoffs with no Votto. There is no gurantee that his knee is okay and able to play everyday without some more indepth medical work on it. Lets just sit back and see what happens then bash Walt and Dusty….

  9. Mesoraco had an 8-game hitting streak in July, but he’s been lost at the plate since the concussion (3 for 25, I think). Let’s not pretend like the demotion doesn’t have anything to do with the fact he’s not hitting. Take Baker at his word that they’re hoping Mes can turn things around in time to help for the playoffs.

    If the biggest concern is who the backup catcher in the playoffs is going to be, I’m feeling pretty good.

  10. Mike Leake, it seems unlikely that he’ll be on the playoff roster – that’s an extra 25 man roster spot. Carrying three catchers and using Mesoraco as the backup catcher and Dioner Navarro as a left handed pinch hitter (although he is a switch hitter he’s better as a lefty) is realistic. Something they seem to value about Navarro is that he has postseason experience elsewhere.

    As far as Mesoraco getting demoted, he knows he’ll be back in September. About a week from now. He hasn’t been sent on some one way trip to Louisville and the team hasn’t given up on him, they’ve made it clear that he’ll be back soon and available to play with the team in the playoffs. Hopefully he hits well in his short stint in AAA.

    • Mike Leake, it seems unlikely that he’ll be on the playoff roster – that’s an extra 25 man roster spot. Carrying three catchers and using Mesoraco as the backup catcher and Dioner Navarro as a left handed pinch hitter (although he is a switch hitter he’s better as a lefty) is realistic. Something they seem to value about Navarro is that he has postseason experience elsewhere.As far as Mesoraco getting demoted, he knows he’ll be back in September. About a week from now. He hasn’t been sent on some one way trip to Louisville and the team hasn’t given up on him, they’ve made it clear that he’ll be back soon and available to play with the team in the playoffs. Hopefully he hits well in his short stint in AAA.

      I would be shocked if Leake isn’t on the playoff roster, you don’t do that to a player like Leake.

  11. @redsfanman: I agree with your thinking here. This period of time also gives them a chance to see if the Navarro we saw in Milwaukee is defensively the real Navarro or whether he is a better catcher per his reputation.

    I would have liked to have seen them make this move at the All Star break to give Meso significant time/ opportunity to really find his groove as once Hanigan emerged as the clear cut #1 and was catching over 60% of the time (counting late insertions to catch Chapman etc), this move was the thing to do.

  12. @dn4192: The Reds or any team are fools if they carry 12 pitchers especially in a 5 game series. If not Leake to be set aside who, particularly given Leake’s poor performance out of the pen last year versus Bailey’s stronger effort his playoff pen appearance in 2010?

    Given Leake is an all around athlete but does he merit a bench spot over all the other available bench additions? That is the question.

    • @dn4192: The Reds or any team are fools if they carry 12 pitchers especially in a 5 game series. If not Leake to be set aside who, particularly given Leake’s poor performance out of the pen last year versus Bailey’s stronger effort his playoff pen appearance in 2010?Given Leake is an all around athlete but does he merit a bench spot over all the other available bench additions? That is the question.

      My pitchers would be the pitchers who got us here, and that includes Leake. In fact I could see Leake start a game in a 7 game series.

  13. @dn4192:
    You don’t leave a player like Mike Leake off the playoff roster? He’s the 5th starter and they probably won’t need a 5th starter in the playoffs. Logan Ondrusek could make the playoff roster in the same was as Mesoraco, and Masset may be back. I doubt they’d turn to Leake for bullpen help or pinch hitting.

    @OhioJim:
    I think the team’s outlook has changed significantly since the All Star Break. At the All Star Break the Reds were what, 2 games out of first place and expecting to fight the Pirates for the remainder of the season to move back into first? Now they are in first place and have a big seven game lead over the Cardinals… and are in a position to demote their young catcher to give him some playing time.

    Demoting Mesoraco for a week before rosters expand seems different than sending him to AAA in July with the condition that he needs to hit well and get promoted or wait ~3 months. JJ Hoover got sent down, pitched well, and still couldn’t get promoted for months. Mesoraco and his teammates know his trip to AAA is temporary.

    I think the Reds have seen Dioner Navarro catch more than enough in AAA to be familiar with his abilities. I really doubt this has anything to do with seeing what he’s capable of. Being a switch hitter (who probably hits better left handed) and being a postseason veteran are both explanations for why he was selected over Corky Miller.

    • @OhioJim:
      I think the team’s outlook has changed significantly since the All Star Break.At the All Star Break the Reds were what, 2 games out of first place and expecting to fight the Pirates for the remainder of the season to move back into first?Now they are in first place and have a big seven game lead over the Cardinals… and are in a position to demote their young catcher to give him some playing time.

      Demoting Mesoraco for a week before rosters expand seems different than sending him to AAA in July with the condition that he needs to hit well and get promoted or wait ~3 months.JJ Hoover got sent down, pitched well, and still couldn’t get promoted for months.Mesoraco and his teammates know his trip to AAA is temporary.

      I think the Reds have seen Dioner Navarro catch more than enough in AAA to be familiar with his abilities.I really doubt this has anything to do with seeing what he’s capable of.Being a switch hitter (who probably hits better left handed) and being a postseason veteran are both explanations for why he was selected over Corky Miller.

      To elaborate, Dusty made it clear in interviews that they’ve considered sending Devin Mesoraco to AAA for some time because they think he needs to get some regular at bats. What has changed? Has his performance declined? If so, I haven’t seen it. What has changed is the team’s lead in the division has continually grown, putting them in a position where they can justify turning to Dioner Navarro for a few games rather than putting their best team on the field.

  14. @OhioJim: Yes. Especially when teams can pretty much use the 4th starter as the emergency guy if needed. If the Giants can sit Zito for the playoffs, the Reds could sit Leake. If he’s a better bench player than the guy you could add to the bench, that’s a problem.

  15. You’ve got 5 starters, but will only use 3-4 in a short series. It comes down to Leake vs Bailey with the “odd man out” either pitching out of the pen or watching from the clubhouse.

    • My pitchers would be the pitchers who got us here, and that includes Leake.In fact I could see Leake start a game in a 7 game series.

      You’ve got 5 starters, but will only use 3-4 in a short series. It comes down to Leake vs Bailey with the “odd man out” either pitching out of the pen or watching from the clubhouse.

      JJ Hoover and Logan Ondrusek are pitchers who got the Reds here, and they’re relievers. Leake helping to get the Reds to the playoffs doesn’t necessarily indicate that he’d be able to help the Reds during the playoffs. If he makes the team I see little or no use for him.

      By most measures Leake has been the least successful of the five starting pitchers, in addition to having the worst pitches and least experience. I think he’s the very obvious choice for an ‘odd man out’.

  16. We are talking a rookie catcher here who only catches 2 of our starting 5, exactly what is the big deal?

    • We are talking a rookie catcher here who only catches 2 of our starting 5, exactly what is the big deal?

      I think the big deal is that Mesoraco is better defensively and better at calling games than Dioner Navarro while starting 40% of the games. Hopefully working with somebody else won’t harm Bailey or Leake. Taking such a risk did surprise me, but I think it shows what confidence they have in their division lead.

  17. So… as usual, the task is 2 out of 3 this weekend. That’ll keep them pretty effectively at bay going into the last month. Of course, I’d be happy to see the Reds help out the Pirates in anyway possible regarding the WC too.

    Hopefully the Cards will have a little hangover from playing the jv squad in the form of the Astros, but my guess is that they’ll be fired up. Enjoy the game all of you who get to go.

    • So… as usual, the task is 2 out of 3 this weekend. That’ll keep them pretty effectively at bay going into the last month. Of course, I’d be happy to see the Reds help out the Pirates in anyway possible regarding the WC too.

      Hopefully the Cards will have a little hangover from playing the jv squad in the form of the Astros, but my guess is that they’ll be fired up. Enjoy the game all of you who get to go.

      If the Cardinals perform any worse than winning 2 of 3 against the Reds I think they will have had a terrible weekend. After the Reds the Cardinals face their wildcard rival, the Pirates, before facing the Nationals. That’s a tough schedule. They get to face the Reds’ 4th and 5th starter in Bailey and Leake but they face the top of the Pirates’ rotation. The Cardinals’ playoff run and season could, if things go badly, basically end in this next week.

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