2014 Reds

Bruce starts, new lineup, Lutz up, Soto down

Manager Bryan Price continues to adjust the Reds lineup. Tonight, the return of Jay Bruce (batting fourth) has prompted the promotion of Todd Frazier to the second spot. Devin Mesoraco catches Homer Bailey and bats fifth. Brayan Peña plays first base. Ryan Ludwick is back in left field, hitting sixth. The number in parentheses is adjusted weighted runs created (wRC+). The Reds also called up 1B/OF Donald Lutz and send IF Neftali Soto back to AAA.

1. Billy Hamilton CF (75)
2. Todd Frazier 3B (130)
3. Brandon Phillips 2B (91)
4. Jay Bruce RF (98)
5. Devin Mesoraco C (227)
6. Ryan Ludwick LF (85)
7. Brayan Pena 1B (81)
8. Zack Cozart SS (56)

68 thoughts on “Bruce starts, new lineup, Lutz up, Soto down

      • Here’s an article about wRC+. Basically, it isolates and measures the offensive production of a player independent of what their teammates do. “Adjusted” (that’s the plus) means it’s put on a 100-point scale, with 100 being average, >100 is above average. It’s also adjusted for park effects. “Weighted” means that homers count more than doubles, doubles count more than singles, singles count more than walks, etc. The weight is determined based on how much the average home run or the average double contributes to creation of a run.

  1. I love Price’s lineup construction. Anyone think he was looking at WRC+ when he wrote this one up?

  2. John Fay tweeted this info about Lutz:

    Lutz began season at AA Pensacola (.360, 7 2b, 2 3b, 6hr, 16rbi) before he was promoted on 5/17 to Louisville (.200, 1 2b, 1hr, 3rbi).

    Our own Tom Diesman called Lutz’s promotion in his column yesterday morning.

    Reminder that Lutz is the first German-born player in MLB and had 34 plate appearances for the Reds last season (.241/.254/.310). Here is the link to his player page at FanGraphs.

    • Has anyone seen his defense at 1st or LF lately? I’m just curious how he’s doing.

    • Was there not a Call for Ludwick to be cut yesterday? with slightly better numbers and he has been hurt and most likely will do a major improvement as the season progresses

  3. I like this move, even last year when he struggled, he gave the team more than what Soto has.

      • If by the slightest chance they need one, they could forfeit the game and still be ahead.

        As far as Leake goes, I’d bet he would if they needed him. His agent would have a stroke though.

  4. Lutz is going to need to play, not just sit on the bench or else they are just screwing with his development. I hope they are just sitting him tonight to get acclimated(?). He should play 1st while Votto is on the DL and if he’s still with the club when Votto comes back he should get some starts in the outfield. He was originally signed as a 1B and then they switched him to OF (probably because 1B is blocked). But they have been having him play 1B again at AAA.

    • Exactamondo! The Big Lutz MUST play. I do think tonight is just an adjusment day since he played last night and travelled today (although I’m sure Lutz would rather be in the lineup tonight). Pena has been regressing as expected (he was simply playing over his head) and also playing out of position. Yes, Lutz should play 1B every day until Votto returns and Votto’s return should NOT be rushed. Once Votto returns, the battle for playing time in LF can be evaluated based on recent results.

    • What development? I only care about the development of actual prospects. At this point, Donald Lutz is a 25 year old player that has barely cracked AAA. He is never going to develop into a regular at the big league level.

      He is entering his prime though, and if he’s a decent enough player, he may be able to help the Reds off the bench in said prime.

      I hope he hits great with us, but I just don’t understand the call for protecting the “development” of a 25 yr old career minor leaguer. If the Reds promoted Jesse Winker right now and benched him, then I’d totally agree with you. But he’s a 20 year old first round draft pick, playing in high A.

      Lutz pretty much is who he is going to be.

      • “He is never going to develop into a regular at the big league level.”

        I love these declarative statements. If you are not working for the Reds, they could sure use you as it would save everybody a lot of time and effort. I hope hit a couple of HRs this weekend in your honor.

        • Hey man, don’t get me wrong, I root for all Reds, and like I said in my post (the part you didn’t quote to make your “point”) I hope he hits great with us.

          I’m just being honest about a non-prospect. Stranger things have happened, and he may be a late bloomer, and I would love to be wrong because that would mean the Reds would get a great player out of thin air.

          That said, if you are being honest, based on his status as an undrafted free agent, his career in the minor leagues, and what you saw of him last year, would you bet that he’s going to turn into a regular at the major league level?

        • Also, it seems like the Reds are doing exactly what I would, so they don’t need my help.

          I also would have called up Lutz, because I think he can be a better bench player than Soto. My point was that I’m not going to clamor to see Lutz getting every day playing time until he shows me a lot more than he has.

        • Nope, but I would coach in the terms you used in this post as opposed to your previous.

        • So you also don’t think that Lutz will ever be a regular in the big leagues. Generally, we agree. But because I said he definitely won’t be, you get all snarky and act like I don’t want him to do well? Weird.

      • While this is generally true – look at how Todd Fraiser has continued to develop at the big league level and he really didn’t make the big club until he was 25-26. He’s smoking the ball this year – if he keeps this up he could easily hit 25-30 homers and approach or top 100 RBI, which is not what everybody was thinking about him just a couple of years ago.

  5. Any lineup with Bruce in it is going to look better than one with his replacement. I just hope he hasn’t been rushed back. I’ll be looking to see if I can tell if he’s wearing a brace or not… I think I’d have Heisey or Schumaker in LF instead of Ludwick. I just think the guy is pretty much done. Of course I’ve counted him out when the Reds first signed him and he proved me wrong. I’m hoping he does it again. I’m not big on lineup optimization so you’ll rarely see me comment on batting order.

    • I counted him out when the Reds first signed him also, but the big difference between now and then, well I suppose there are several, but the most glaring is the monetary commitment. The Reds signed him before the 2012 season to a 1 year $2 million contract. That’s basically saying, “Hey, if you produce, great. If not, no big loss, we’ll find someone who can.” When you sign someone for 2 years and $15 million, you’re saying “You’re our everyday guy and we expect you to contribute.” and that $15 million figure moves to $19.5 million should they keep him next year. I guess what I’m getting around to in a round about way is that Ludwick’s production level to prove one wrong this year is higher than it would be to prove one wrong in 2012. In 2012, a positive WAR and some pop off the bench would have been enough to prove most wrong, but this year he has to be one of the best 3-4 hitters (at least) to really add the value to the team that the Reds are paying for.

    • I like Schumaker over Ludwick and/or Heisey. Playing his former team too so I’d get him in the mix.

  6. Very curious to see if Lutz has improved from the last time he was up. The Old Cossack gives me some hope that he might be a good surprise. The Reds could use a guy that just kind of appears out of nowhere to do some of the heavy lifting.

    • Way to lay it all out on the Old guy! I’m not sure these brittle, arthritic shoulders are broad enough any more to handle the weight of that load. I’m ecstatic to see the Big Lutz back on the 25-man roster. I just wish it had happened much sooner, but water over the dam. I’m ready for the Reds to lay a good ole spanking on the Birds this weekend.

      • Did you drive your mini-Cooper down to Louisville, pick up Lutzy and bring him back to Cincinnati? No room for Jumbo?
        Tonight would have been nice to start Lutzy because Miller is a RHer. Garcia is a LHer, so Lutzy might not get a start Saturday either. Wainwright is a RHer on Sunday night. On national TV.
        Welcome back to the Big Leagues Lutzy.

        • You know, Walt called to see if I was available, but I had a prior committment with my youngest daughter’s last day of 2nd grade. I did appologize to Walt and let him know I was definitely available to retrieve Jumbo when he gets the call.

  7. Not surprising. Lutz hasn’t been that great in his short time in AAA, though. As much as I love to see Soto off of the big league roster, I hope we’re not rushing Lutz.

    • As long as Lutz plays everyday, he will still get some much needed experience. He had a rough game last night, but even in the short time with the Bats (5 games), he managed an .800 OPS (.200/.333/.467). The one aspect that might sound some alarm bells is the 5 SO in 18 PA.

      • That’s the point. He’s not going to be playing every day up here. He’s going to be sitting on the bench behind Ludwick, Schumaker, and Heisey. I don’t see a better option in the organization for a bench player and we definitely need one, I just don’t know if this is what’s best for Lutz.

        • Lutz is 25. What is best for Lutz at this point is to be collecting a major league pay check.

    • Well technically it does count Hamilruns. They usually start with him getting on base with a bunt or some infield hit, so that boosts his OBP. His extra base hits are improved by his speed. Then he relies on some combination of base stealing and advancing, both of which factor into wRC+. We’d all like to think Hamilton is doing something magical that the stats can’t measure, but for the most part he just does the same things other fast guys have always done only better. The stats bear that out.

      • Neither basestealing or advancing are included in wRC+. Baserunning was removed in 2012 and made into separate stats (UBR, BsR). .

        If you include Hamilton’s baserunning, he’s almost average offensively. Almost.

        • Seriously I would like he you have determined that. This is not a joke or smart aleck question.

        • Good stuff except you always seem to be using WAR to value BHam’s offensive value. Let’s stick with that and/or +wRC, otherwise we end up chasing around a bunch peripheral stats that no one ever refers to when stating players’ valuations. Looking forward to our exercise in trying to identify the true value of Bill Hamilton’s offensive contribution. See my post below that fleshes this out and if you have a better method, I’m game.

          I state right here for the record, that I believe the tools (WAR & +wRC) undervalue BHam to a very large degree. Not because I have a love affair with the guy but because I’m convinced of it and then I can quite hearing you claim that Heisey has the same value.(Smiley Face if I knew how to insert one). We’ll see.

          Now let’s see our boys get a big win tonight!

      • I would never think that you were being sarcastic…

        Fangraphs has an “Offense” stat that assigns a value to a hitter’s offensive performance. There is both a “Batting” component (based on wOBA), and a “Baserunning” component (based on UBR). Offense=0 is considered an average. Hamilton’s current scores of Batting: -4.4, Baserunning: 2.3 , Total: -2.1, means Hamilton is below average offensively.

        We had a discussion in the Quarter Season Roundup thread about it.

        CP (replying to Jason Linden)::
        05/21/2014 at 1:36 pm

        “Actually, his speed very nearly is worth that. Per FanGraphs, he’s been 1.5 runs below average on offense (hitting plus baserunning). That, effectively, is average. If we also take into account the forcing of errors and other stuff that doesn’t show, then Hamilton is, basically, an average offensive player so far. If we give him the benefit of the doubt with his early struggles, he’s well above average.”


        You are taking huge leaps here. Well, he’s kinda close to 0, so we’ll lump in a bunch of stuff that supposedly B-Ham creates but isn’t actually showing (despite UBR having a pretty good laundry list of stuff B-Ham does get credit for), and poof, suddenly he’s average. Also, let’s take out all the bad stuff that happened early on, and create an even smaller size, oh my gosh, B-Ham is an above average player! 🙂

        Oh by the way, that -1.5 runs below average puts B-Ham 241st out of all hitters with PA > 30. Chris Heisey has -1.8 and Ramon Santiago has -1.9,

        If anyone else besides B-Ham had his walk rate and peripherals, we’d say the Reds were crazy for batting him leadoff. I’m not saying you’re in this club, but the B-Ham faithful will basically grab ANYTHING that supports their premise. Nothing indicates that Hamilton will have an acceptable OBP. He’ll have to hit 0.290 to have an 0.330. Nothing he did in AA or above indicates he is capable of that.

        Jason Linden says:
        05/21/2014 at 1:55 pm

        Given the still relatively small seasonal sample sizes, -1.5 runs isn’t distinguishable from average. It just isn’t.

        But, if you want to talk actual value (including fielding), Hamilton has generated 0.7 fWAR this season. If that is prorated to 600 PAs, you get a 2.8 WAR season, which is above average.

        CP says:
        05/21/2014 at 2:43 pm

        So has Chris Heisey.

        Offense: -1.5
        Defense: 4.0
        WAR: 0.7

        Offense: -1.8
        Defense: 5.5
        WAR: 0.7

        • What I thought. It’s not measurable. Two stat heads can’t agree on a supposed objective measurement. So basically you are pulling a rabbit out of a hat when you claim, “he is almost average offensively”. This is pretty weak sauce,

          The advanced stats have a place in life, but when Hesiey is rated higher than Hamilton on “defense”? Naw, forget about it. The more I look into them and ask questions, the less credibility I give them. You should look for more holes in these numbers that you take as gospel. Your total acceptance of them as “fact” hurts your case – at least with me. There will be other opportunities to do better as they can be helpful but as a final measuring stick. No way.

          Thanks for taking a crack at it.

        • Charlotte: Not sure how you interpreted that from his comment. The offensive component is measurable. That’s all he claimed – Billy Hamilton is below average offensively. He provided the stats. (And, you know, anyone at home can go to the FanGraphs site themselves and look this stuff up, it’s pretty simple.)

          CP is *exactly* right in saying the numbers show Hamilton is almost average offensively. There is no other possible interpretation of those numbers. And Jason doesn’t disagree with that, if you read what they are saying carefully and honestly.

          Defensive numbers are incredibly unreliable at sample sizes as small as we have right now for 2014. No one would tell you otherwise.

          The only disagreement between Jason and CP was whether Hamilton’s current offensive number – which even taking speed/base running into account is negative – is meaningfully different from ZERO because of how early in the year it is.

          If you want people here to take your comments seriously, you have to engage their points more genuinely.

        • The defense issue is irrelevant since we are talking Hamilton’s offense. Defense needs large sample sizes and I agree Hamilton ‘s defense is better than Heisey (although Heisey has bee good too).

          The offense is pretty black and white though. Hamilton has no power and doesn’t get on base enough. If he got on base at a decent clip, his value would skyrocket. Do some homework on UBR, it is actually a pretty cool stat and you will be pleasantly surprised by what it includes. It doesn’t incorporate man crushes though, sorry!

        • I’m not going to go back through history and pick up every example where WAR and +wRC misses BHams value but I will in the future from game to game. You and CP will have to tell me if these value points are captured in WAR and +wRC. Perfect opportunity to convince me that you are valuing BH appropriately. We need to work on an “objective” way to get down to the bottom of this. So far CP’s and your arguments are not convincing, too much gray, but you will get your opportunity.

          I really don’t care who is wrong or right but I want to get to the truth. In this case, are these statistical models representing Hamilton’s true offensive value. I believe it will be fun and informative.

    • A little of that cuts both ways. Hamildoubles aren’t created equally as other players’ doubles – on average they have less chance to drive in runs. And part of Hamilton’s speed does get counted when he turns singles into double, beats out bunts etc. But stolen bases aren’t part of wRC+ any longer. Although Hamilton is getting thrown out stealing enough that his SB factor isn’t net positive. His speed overall is, though. Like being able to score from second on a single.

  8. Hey, it would be difficult for anyone to be worse than Soto……I do hate having the third catcher discussion, BUT…..both our catchers are in the lineup. Hoping the baseball overlords are in a good mood and everyone stays healthy.

    • I actually just noticed that…Not sure how I missed it. That might be my favorite thing Price has done all year – You could put a gun to Dusty’s head and he would never put both of his catchers in the same starting lineup. In my thinking, the odds of both of them getting hurt in the same game are so infinitely small that I just don’t know why you would even consider it as a factor. Mes gets hurt, Pena slides to catcher and you figure out the reshuffle in the infield (Frazier to 1B, Santiago in at 3B I’d imagine). If somehow Pena ends up getting hurt later in the same game? Oh well…Baseball gods don’t want you to have this one. Barnhart will be here tomorrow.

      • These guys have been playing baseball since the peewee’s. Their won’t be any forfeits… someone will be strapping on the tools of ignorance and sitting behind home plate come hell or high water.

    • The same issue now exists at 3B & SS too. If Frazier or Cozart have to leave the game, Santiago takes over. If the 3B or SS then have to leave the game, well that baseball gods thing…

  9. Lost in all of this Soto/Lutz talk is how freaking AMAZING Bruce’s recovery has been. I know there’s a lot of skepticism on this board that he’s being rushed back and I guess we’ll see if that’s true or not, but even the fact that he could take batting practice and full speed agility drills and even look REMOTELY like it would even be possible for him to play major league baseball 2 weeks after that surgery? That is insane. If it’s not smoke and mirrors then we may have caught the very first shred of good luck in this otherwise dismal season. Fingers crossed.

    • Indeed. I’m going to be happy when I can finally exhale. Will probably take a few games.

    • Not that I would ever wish injuries on Mesoraco and Peña, but how cool would it be to see Mike Leake catch an inning, based on his experience in Little League as a catcher. Not great from a win-loss standpoint, but just awesome to see his athleticism play another role for the Reds.

      • They could both be thrown out of the game and we could see Leake that way.

  10. I hate the term “rushing a player”. In the age of coddle and do not spank your children…. If a person has talent or skill it will mature wherever they are played. Either the guy can play or not. Soto could not now let us see if Lutz is a can do. Our offense is so weak it wont take much for him to look good. 6 of our 8 starters are below average on the wrc stat. If Lutz can perform better than what was sent down i will call the a success. Anyone think Sotos numbers will be better than Lutzs at the end of the same number of games played?
    In any business you play your best players and you develop/mature while you work. Makes no sense to develop a future talent when he is already better than half of your staff.

    If given enough playing time Lutz will out perform Ludwick, Heisey, Bernadina, Pena, Cozart, Leake, and Soto at least with offensively minded numbers. Instantly he is our best bat off of the bench and and a rare Reds power threat in a hitter friendly home park.

    • We are due a break. Bernadina and Soto have been complete flops, Sch has contributed some but man oh man. Pretty psyched about tonight, Homer is due for a big game and just seeing the name “Jay Bruce” in a lineup gets me going. Before anyone tells me to not get too worked up, why not? Isn’t this what sports is all about: big series, stud pitcher, big bat coming back? Let’s rock!

  11. Looking forward to seeing if Wainwright can crown Billy will a Golden Sombrero again. I highly doubt it.

    • Considering playoffs last year wainwright threw over 300 innings… He is a pretty darn good pitcher but he is due a bad streak.

  12. Why did my comment disappear? Are we not allowed to use the word “h*ll?” I just said come h*ll or high water someone will be wearing the tools of ignorance, no way do they forfeit.

  13. Bruce back in lineup: YES !!!!
    Soto sent down: YES YES YES !!!!
    Lutz called up: YES !!!!

    The lineup and the bench have just gotten significantly better.

  14. anyone read Lance Mcallister’s post on the ranking of GM’s? Walt was ranked as #26 in the league. Not good! What do we have to do to steal away a top GM like Beane, Cherington, or Dombrowski?

    • I don’t think that you can get one of those guys, because their team’s are doing well. What the Reds could do (and in my opinion should do), is get one of their assistants that is looking to move up.

      • Good idea. Well if we are lucky Larussa will hire Jocketty after this year and then we’ll have to address the issue. Hard to go down from #26, as once you get that low stink is stink.

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