2015 Reds

Roster Demolition & Construction

[This post was written by Jux Berg, who has his own website at Bergonsports.com and @bergonsports on Twitter. Thanks, Jux. — spm]

An argument can be made that heading into 2014, Cincinnati’s roster was solid enough to return playoff baseball to Great American Ballpark. It just so happened that an incomprehensible ten out of Cincy’s Top 16 players spent time on the disabled list. Of the six “healthy” cogs, three (Billy Hamilton, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart) also missed handfuls of games. This type of health debacle is not likely to reoccur anytime soon. That said, the Reds’ roster does have glaring holes.

One Question

Walt Jocketty must ask himself a simple question for each player: Would he play for the St. Louis Cardinals?

In my opinion, the Cardinals would have nothing to do with the following players:

  • OF Chris Heisey (career .301 OBP; .271 in ’14)
  • P J.J. Hoover (straight/flat fastball; 1-10, 5.27 ERA in ’14)
  • 1B/UT Jack Hannahan (career .346 SLG)
  • P Logan Ondrusek (he’s improved, but I still don’t think STL would trust him)
  • P Manny Parra (career 4.94 ERA)
  • 1B Neftali Soto (overmatched at MLB level)
  • P Sam LeCure (drop in velocity, huge hike in BAA in ’14)
  • (3rd Base Coach Steve Smith)

Replace these players with proven veterans or by virtually holding an open tryout with your farm system over the course of the season until you find the strongest 25 in your organization (regardless of experience).

The Good News

Hamilton, Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are under Reds’ control until 2018+. If healthy, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips stabilize the lineup. Assuming RF Jay Bruce returns to form after an off year, potential All-Stars occupy six of eight positions.

Kristopher Negron’s emergence this season was a bright spot. The kid is reliable at multiple positions and has a smart, oppo-focused approach at the plate. He will make the bench stronger in ’15. Brayan Pena’s a keeper (signed through ’15). I wouldn’t be opposed to re-signing UT Ramon Santiago.

On the pitching side, the Reds discovered a couple of gems in Alfredo Simon and Jumbo Diaz. Although Simon has essentially run out of gas after the All-Star break, he’s proven to be filthy enough for at the very least a prominent bullpen role in ’15. Diaz has displayed impressive command of three high-velocity pitches. I’d say he’s a potential closer or set-up man.

Needs

Offensively, the biggest areas of need are, as usual, left field and shortstop. Left field has been a revolving door of mediocrity for years in Cincinnati, save for Ryan Ludwick’s hot stretch in 2012 when Votto was hurt. Ludwick and the Reds have a mutual option for 2015. If he does re-sign, he can’t be your everyday left-fielder. I’m fine with a guy like Luddy as a fourth OF/bench player who’ll give you a professional AB when summoned, but he’s clearly in the twilight of his slightly above average career.

As for shortstop, Zack Cozart is polarizing. On one hand, his glove is both reliable and magical. Being strong up the middle is a big reason the Reds have led the National League in defensive efficiency (per baseball-reference.com) the past two seasons. On the other hand, Cozart has posted a career .284 OBP in 1589 AB; and his SLG is all the way down to .295 in ’14. For a team that struggles to score runs, can you afford to have this type of hole in your lineup?

On the pitching side, middle relief has been a nightmare in ’14. Hoover, Ondrusek, Parra and LeCure have all posted WHIPs of at least 1.463. Bring in reliable arms from elsewhere or promote the best arms in the farm system.

A Potential Bold Move

LF, SS, middle relief and bench bats have been needs for years. Why hasn’t Jocketty acted? It’s simple. He’s not willing to give up what opposing GM’s want. And with the amount of money tied up in Votto, Phillips, Bailey, etc, there isn’t much room to add salary.

Something’s got to give. Most likely: Jocketty trades starting pitching. Heading into 2015, the Reds have ten potential rotation starters: Cueto, Leake, Latos, Bailey, Tony Cingrani, Simon, Raisel Iglesias, Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen and Ben Lively. 2014 1st-round draft pick Nick Howard (Virginia) may be added to that depth chart soon.

You’ve gotta give something to get something. Decide which of these guys are least likely to be a part of your future and then hit the phones. Plenty of teams need pitching. One team in particular needs arms badly: The Texas Rangers (dead last in BAA and quality starts, 29th in ERA and WHIP). Offer pitching for…

3B Adrian Beltre – Adrian Beltre (.323/.377/.502 in ’14 at Age 35) has one year left on his deal and would add veteran clout. It’s possible Texas would eat a portion of the $18 million Beltre is owed in ’15. Beltre has a vested team option of $16 mil for 2016 which can be voided if he misses too many games in ’15. The Reds could move Frazier to LF in the short-term.

Imagine a lineup with Frazier, Mesoraco, Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Hamilton and Adrian Beltre

Okay, enough fantasizing. In order to construct a fully productive roster for 2015, Jocketty must ask the “Would he play for the Cardinals?” question of every player, cut ties with the ones who wouldn’t, and be willing to part ways with starting pitching in exchange for offensive upgrades.

51 thoughts on “Roster Demolition & Construction

    • Maybe you’ve struck on Walt’s issue. The formulation of his initial question was just a bit off! Walt rejuvenated in 2015!

  1. A move for Beltre would be a quintessential “all in for 2015” move. Beltre would probably hit 3rd and give Joey more protection and mitigate the whole LOOGY for Votto move in some cases. I would not cry a river if the Reds made a move for Beltre. However, moving Latos (I would want more in return for Cueto) for Beltre adds quite a bit of payroll, as Beltre will make $18 million next year with a vesting option ($16 million) for 2016. I just don’t know if the Reds could add that much payroll for next year.

    I would prefer a “get younger” approach in moving a pitcher in a trade. Get some cost-controlled guys in return an hope one or two end up being long-term contributors. Then, get rid of Broxton to clear $9 million more. Then, perhaps the LF issue could be solved by signing Yasmani Tomas or perhaps even exploring a LF platoon for 2015.

    • Thanks for reading, DROOMAC. I hear you on the “get younger” approach. The tough thing with that is most teams aren’t willing to give up young talent. I came up with Beltre back at the trade deadline when I was searching every team for big veteran bats at either 1B, 2B or LF. When I saw how bad Texas’ pitching was, I looked at its entire roster– and Beltre looked like a dream player to acquire, even though the Reds already have a 3B. He would absolutely mash at GABP and he’s still a good defensive 3B.

      His salary is high and yes, it would be all-in-for-2015, but there is so much uncertainty with the roster after 2015 that you may have to treat it like the final year of a window.

  2. Here is my take on the guys you suggested we get rid of:

    Chris Heisey – No need to get rid of him, he is perfectly servicable as a 5th outfielder. While he may be lacking at the plate, he is a great defensive OF. Actually, he would probably be a better 5th OF than many teams have.

    J.J. Hoover – Dropping him would be incredibly short-sighted. He has had a rough year, but many seem to forget he had excellent seasons in 2012 (2.05 ERA) and in 2013 (2.86). Even in this forgettable season, he has racked up 67 K’s in 54.2 innings. I agreed with the move to send him down in order to get his confidence back, but I still think he has the potential to be a late-inning option for the Reds for years to come. Just too early to give up on him.

    Jack Hannahan – Should have never been signed. Cut him NOW.

    Logan Ondrusek – Nothing more than a mop-up man. I wouldn’t shed a tear if he was cut, but I also wouldn’t have a problem keeping him around to eat innings during a blowout. Either way, he is not part of the Reds’ future.

    Manny Parra – Don’t see any reason to cut him. Although he has a poor career ERA, he is still very tough on lefties. Keep him around as a LOOGY, but don’t let him anywhere near a righthanded batter.

    Neftali Soto – Part of me wants to disagree and say he hasn’t has much of a shot. But like you said, he has looked completely overmatched every time he’s been up. I don’t see any future as a Red for him.

    Sam LeCure – His drop in velocity is very troubling. I hope his issues are related to some underlying health problem that can be fixed. Otherwise, LeCure falls into the Ondrusek category above.

    3rd Base Coach Steve Smith – Needs to be gone NOW.

    • Your comment about Heisey is interesting. He is very useful as a 4th/5th outfielder and has had good success as a pinch hitter in his career. It’s doubtful he will be awarded in arbitration as much as the Reds are paying Schumaker ($2.5 million).
      Yet he has more to offer than Shcu, other than that hard to value grit factor.

      It would certainly be nice to see the Reds have something more concrete in place for LF next year other than Schu/Heisey/Ludwick. In fact, I would add Ludwick to the list of players not to bring back. Sure it costs $4.5 million to opt out of his contract next year. But it costs another $4.5 million on top of that to bring him back ($9 million total).

      • Heisey is a 4/5 OF who’s OPS has declined for three straight years, who has a terrible K/W ratio, who will be 30 in December and will probably be paid over $2 million in 2015. He seems a luxury the Reds cannot afford.

    • Thanks for reading, DOCMIKE. You’re probably right about Parra–he’s really not bad and he’s been pretty reliable–I guess I just wonder if the Cardinals would have him on their team. I feel like that has to be a factor when deciding on a player’s fate, because after all, St. Louis is the gold standard in our division.

      With Hoover, I realize he had success in 2012 and ’13…but I wonder if relief pitchers, for lack of a better way to say this, “eventually get figured out.” That might be what’s happened with LeCure in ’14 as well. Hoover throws hard but it’s straight and it’s flat. His curveball has good break but it’s not really an out pitch. He did add a slider this season midway through and had some success with it, but he doesn’t have good enough command for hitters to truly honor the pitch. So if you’re hitting against Hoover, you say, “it’s either gonna be a heater belt-high/middle-away or a big curveball that will likely end up in the hitting zone,” and you pick which one you want. Hoover has recorded a bunch of K’s this season, but I still don’t think his stuff is good enough to keep around.

      Out of the three, I’d keep Parra, simply because he has a true “out pitch” with his hard slider.

      As for Heisey– yes, he has been a good career PH and he does have value defensively because he’s adequate at all 3 OF positions. The problem that I see with keeping him around though is that if injuries leave Bryan Price no choice but to run Heisey out there on an everyday basis– well, I don’t think many Reds fans want to see that anymore (if they ever did want to see it).

      Great comments, DOCMIKE.

      • Thanks. I enjoyed reading your article too.

        I guess I am in the minority among Reds fans, but I can’t just give up on JJ Hoover now. Everyone remembers all the home runs he has given up this year (and it has been a lot), but a lot seem to forget that game where he pitched 2 innings and struck out 6 batters. I bet most people don’t realize that Hoover’s K/9 stikeout is 11.03, good for second on the team behind the Missile. The talent is still there, and I really feel he can still get back to his 2012/13 form. I think a lot of his issues are with location, so hopefully the Reds pitching coaches (and Price) can get him straightened out.

        Plus, I bet if we cut him, the Cardinals would snap Hoover up in a heartbeat and try to “fix” him.

        • We’re definitely in the minority but I agree with you on Hoover. I think his command is just way, way off this year. He also seems more hesitant to come inside with his fastball this year, almost like he’s afraid of hitting someone. One of our resident North Carolina posters mentioned that earlier in the season so I really started to look for it. Although I don’t think he needs to try hit a few batters on purpose, he really does seem to need to come inside more.

          I would take Heisey over Schumaker but Schumaker is signed so the Reds may end up non-tendering Heisey.

          Jack needs to be bought out.

          Ondrusek needs to be let go.

          Parra is signed and should stay as a LH specialist.

          LaCure still has value as a long-reliever or mop-up guy. I hope his velocity bounces back though. It’s hard to get guys out with smoke and mirrors when you don’t have flat out exceptional command of mediocre stuff.

          Soto, I’d love to see get a shot to play a lot more just to see what we have. If that can’t happen, I think he needs to be moved for whatever can be gotten, even though it would probably be MiLB filler.

          Smith may be the worst 3B coach I’ve ever seen.

      • Also, with Heisey, he is fine as a 5th outfielder. If injuries forced him into starting everyday, would that be ideal? No, but you could say the same about virtually any 5th OF in the league. If they were good enough to not be a major step down from the starter, they would be a starter themselves. Again, I think Heisey would be one of the better 5th OF’s in the league.

        Our problem this year is we have 3 backup outfielders (Ludwick, Schu, Heisey) competing for a starting spot in LF, when none of the three is starting caliber. LF is the biggest hole in the lineup, and is the most galring need to be filled for the 2015 season, IMO.

        • Are 30 year old 5th OF with declining stats worth $2 million plus in salary?

        • @Kevin – If it was a multi-year deal then perhaps I’d say “no” but for one year, I’d rather have him than Schu for roughly the same money. That said, Schu is signed so I think Heisey may be non-tendered.

        • Kevin, apparently those players ARE worth 2 million a year, since that’s exactly what Walt gave Schumaker last winter. Except if you consider Heisey to be declining, then Schu is in free fall. Consider each guy’s last 5 years:

          Schu:

          2010 = -0.6 WAR
          2011 = 0.5
          2012 = 0.8
          2013 = -1.4
          2014 = -1.0

          Heisey:

          2010 = 1.0 WAR
          2011 = 1.6
          2012 = -0.3
          2013 = 0.6
          2014 = 0.8

          Over this time frame, Schu has accumulated a total of -1.7 WAR, while Heisey has had +3.7 WAR. Pretty clear which player still has some value to his team and which does not.

        • Also, Schumaker has a lifetime OPS of .706, while Heisey’s is .720. So on top of being a vastly better defender, Heisey’s also a slightly better hitter too.

          Give me Heisey over Schumaker as my 5th outfielder any day of the week.

        • The Heisey-Skip comparison is besides the point. Skip is signed so the Reds cannot save money by doing anything but trading him. Heisey can and should be non-tendered unless he takes a significant pay cut. The Reds have an adequate 5th OF at AAA in Jason Bourgeois if they chose to go in that direction.

      • With Hoover, my impression is that his issue this year has been control–mostly not throwing strikes, but also being wild in the strike zone. I don’t know whether I’m right or not, and if so, whether that is fixable. My initial reaction to Beltre was negative, solely due to his age, and I still think it’s a considerable risk since he could fall of the cliff anytime now, but if the price weren’t too steep, it might be a risk worth taking. I was glad to see you steer clear of the funny cheap shots at WJ and his proclivity for signing former Cards. I’ve always thought that it was related to his first-hand knowledge of them. He won’t get the really good ones, because the Cards are too smart to let them go, but all teams have and need some marginal players as bench guys, and better that they are a solid, known quantity. Not that it has always worked out.

  3. YES. I LOVE THE INCLUSION OF STEVE SMITH. THAT GUY HAS MADE ME VOMIT MORE TIMES THAN FROM ANY FORM OF SICKNESS IVE EVER HAD

  4. As a person on the side of the fence that the Reds can no longer afford Cozart’s offense, especially since he will no longer be cost controlled as of the 2105 season, I enjoyed the way you danced around the issue.

    I have to admit he has added this year the ability to have more magical moments and hasn’t sacrificed any reliability in doing so.

    Because Cozart was late and slow to the majors, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that he turned 29 a couple of weeks back. The precipitous decline we’ve seen in his offense this season could indicate he is beginning his decline phase and that he will begin to decline sooner rather than later on defense. This needs to figure into the equation on him.

    I think at the very least if the Reds are willing to accept the offensive hole at SS, they need to go digging among the MLB benches and AAA ranks to find one of the likely number of guys who could provide the virtually the same defense as Cozart with little or no drop in offense while being basically a minimum salary guy.

    • That’s just it, though. You can’t just find players as good defensively as Cozart that easily. He is probably the best defensive shortstop in baseball, so no matter who you replace him with, there will be a dropoff when he is gone.

      But, depending on what Cozart earns in arbitration, he may price himself out of a job here. At some certain point, he may make more money than what a guy with his offensive shortcomings would warrant. Then, it will be time to move on.

      • The point I have been trying to make the last several weeks is that I don’t agree that good to outstanding defenders are that hard to find if you are willing to accept poor offense.

        The combination that is hard to find is an outstanding defender who also hits decently.

        For example, the reason Zack Cozart is the Reds SS today isn’t because he was a better defender than Paul Janish. It is because he was seen as being essentially a defensive equal who was going to be a better offensive player than Janish. Sticking with the Reds,

        Barry Larkin supposedly was in awe of Juan Castro’s glove skills and was known crack jokes that it was good thing for him (Larkin) that he was a much better hitter than Castro. Or there is the other end of Larkin’s career when the Reds had to choose between Larkin and Kurt Stillwell (who went on to quite a nice MLB career of his own) and by the way had a pretty good former shortstop in Ron Oester playing second at the time. And I haven’t even mentioned Pokey Reese who came down the road as Larkin was in decline. Many felt Reese was a better defender at SS in than Larkin was at least in back half of his career.

        So, my point is good to outstanding glove men are not hard to find if a team is willing to overlook offense and give them the reps to blossom defensively.

        • At this point Cozart is a better defender than Janish ever was. Also better than Stillwell, who was mainly a defensive SS. Pokey Reese and Juan Castro could not play SS like Cozart. Could Barry Larkin in his prime ? I don’t know, good question. Castro was very quick at 3rd base, and very good at 2nd base, but no way that he could play SS like Larkin.

          In short, it’s not as easy as you say to find a defensive SS of Cozart’s caliber. Instead find a LFer or a 3rd baseman who can seriously rake, in return for Cueto or Latos. Bolster the offense somewhere else, and keep Cozart as your defense guy. The BRM did that with Cesar Geronimo, whose hitting is overrated because of the one .300 season.

        • Larkin’s value was in his .300 average. He was never really a Gold Glover at the level of Ozzie Smith. Shortstops are almost exclusively one or the other, except maybe Jeter??? (Me thinks he is overrated on D, though), so if you find one that is exceptional in either area you keep him. Cozy’s defense saves enough runs to make up for his O.

        • I don’t think that Cozart’s defense would be easy to replace, since few in recent memory have approached him. It wasn’t long ago that, for a few years, there were shortstops who could hit and field, but that era seems to have been an outlier, and a return by the Reds to an all-hit, no-field philosophy (see Dunn, Adam) would not be likely to have better results than it did at the time. It would also be a substantial waste of the excellent pitching the team has painfully and patiently acquired, since, obviously, pitching is not independent of fielding. Upgrade the offense in LF, if possible, and consider the hitting the injuries cost us and hope (expect) to avoid such a rash of them next year, and leave Cozart where he is.

        • Yes, I agree that good glove/no bat shortstops are a dime a dozen. My point is that Cozart is better defensively than any other SS you could find at this time.

          Now, how much is it worth to pay Cozart solely for his defensive excellence? That is the real question, and one that will have to be answered soon.

    • Thanks, PINSON343 – Vada Pinson was the most underrated player of all-time, by the way. Couple hundred more hits and he’s a Hall-of-Famer. (Which is stupid that you need to hit some magical number to be considered worthy)

      • Vada Pinson is a HOFer in my book. I never saw him play first hand but based on what my father and others have told me, in conjunction with his statistics, I don’t see how he isn’t in.

        • I am an old timer. I remember the ’61 WS. To this day I feel Pinson is THE most underated Reds player of alltime. His contributions always ran just behind F. Robinson. Newbies, check out his career stats. Should be in the Original HOF, not just the Reds HOF. His autographed baseball is hard to come by, but I have one and it is one of the most treasured baseballs of my collection.

  5. I love the premise of the article (and the snarky “have they played for saint louis” comment). Great post.

    • Thanks, DRADG. It seems like when Jocketty took over, he did begin to weed out the borderline MLB/AAA players that the Reds had on the roster. I’d like him to take that a step further and ask that Cardinals question.

      I may have overstepped it with a few of the guys I listed, but in my mind, in order to get to the next level in the postseason, you need a tight roster, top to bottom. Some of the guys we’ve had the past few years have been above average, but do you REALLY trust them in big spots? That’s the question.

      I appreciate you reading my post.

  6. There seems to be a lot of angst about Ludwick’s $4.5MM buyout and $4.5MM option for 2015. Ryan Ludwick was signed to a $15MM/2 year FA contract for 2013/2014. That contract was below market and heavily back-loaded. If you look qat the contract as $7.5MM per year for 2013 & 2014, without the back-loading, the only remaining contract for 2015 is a $4.5MM mutual option, not the $4.5MM buyout. Back-loading the contract and adding a heavy buyout, allowed the $15MM to be spread over 3 years rather than 2 years . The $4.5MM buyout is really just a sunk cost that wasn’t paid in 2013 when Ludwick made just $2MM on the contract. The 2-year, above-market contract for Schumaker was much more egregious than the 2-year, below-market contract for Ludwick. Ludwick just happened to suffer a career limiting/ending serious injury on the 1st day of the contract.

    The question regarding Ludwick becomes his value as a utility OF. Is he worth $4.5MM to the Reds as a utility corner OF? Could Ludwick make more on a 1-year contract as a FA? I think it’s time for the Reds to cut ties with Ludwick after 2014 and move on. They have options available for a utility OF of equal or better value for a fraction of the cost.

    • What options are those? A AAA OF hitting .244 and striking out 31% of his PAs? A AA OF who is barely putting up stats there that are better than Ludwick’s in the bigs and has never even played a game in AAA?

      It’s a huge stretch to claim those players would be of “equal or better value”. If the Reds get rid of Ludwick they better figure out a way to trade for someone of equal or better value and not rely on minor leaguers with so-so stats.

      • OK Kevin, enough already. You summarily dismiss the possibility that the Reds have any utility OF options available for no reason other than to disagree without any basis. You want to know who might be an available utility OF option for the Reds? Just read your own words: “The Reds have an adequate 5th OF at AAA in Jason Bourgeois if they chose to go in that direction.”

        Please stop with the pointless and baseless disagreements. Everyone on this blog welcomes an intellectual discussion or even just an exchange of opinions. It is the pointless and baseless disagreements, just for the sake of disagreeing, that people resent. If you simply gain some innate pleasure from such baseless and pointless disagreements, Reds.com is filled with such nonsense.

        • Apparently you consider arguments based on players’ actual performance “pointless and baseless”. That’s your stubborn and unreasonable prerogative but it doesn’t make it true. I’m disagreeing because I think you are wrong not just for the hell of it. If you were intellectually honest, you’d admit that rather than descending into a personal attack.

          I would not suggest that Jason Bourgeois is “equal or better value” than Ryan Ludwick. But he’s a cheap alternative 5th OF option.

    • I would be shocked if they released Ludwick. I want them to. I beg them to. but the Reds are not the kind of team to release a guy and flip him a bill. 2015 I would pick the following guys until one of them showed hot stuff: Lutz, Rodriguez, Winker, Waldrop.

  7. Jux-

    I know this is a pipedream, but with Chapman’s three pitches now, I feel like he has to be included in the starter list. Here is what I would do:

    Offer Chapman an extension for 3-4 years at around $10-12M (what would be expected for a closer). Then, give him an incentive to start: an additional $5M for each year he goes over 150 innings, or $10M if he goes over 200. The thought being if he started and they left him in the rotation for that long, he would be pitching at the level of a 17-22M dollar pitcher (ie- as good or better than Homer Bailey).

    What does this do? Well, the $9M you are paying Broxton to close no longer looks so bad. You still have Diaz and Simon in the pen (would need to add more there as you suggested), but now you’ve created a 2015 rotation of Cueto, Latos, Chapman, BaIley, Leake, and then all the others you mentioned. IE- You could move a guy like Latos, and potentially UPGRADE the rotation (yes, I understand no guarantee).

    In the scenario you were discussing, people were panicking about the added money for Beltre without considering that Mat Latos is getting a pay bump going into next year, and if we replaced with a young guy that would help pay for some of the increased costs there. Obviously the Chapman contract discussed would be an interesting mix to the payroll conversation.

    With Chapman developing more pitches, how can you not see what he’s got in the rotation when you’ve still got Broxton on the backend.

    Also, I am a Cozart hater, but with a contributor in left, you can get away with a guy like Cozart batting in the back of the lineup.

    • Good call on the inclusion of Chapman in the “potential starters” stable, CINCYSTEW, and thanks for reading.

      My initial thought was that Aroldis simply doesn’t want to be a starter, and he’s said as much — but those incentives you mentioned would be a huge reason he’d change his mind. I had never thought of a contract structure like that for him. Very clever.

      In my mind, I see Aroldis as a guy who will be the closer with the Reds until he becomes a free agent, and then he’ll sign the largest contract ever for a closer with one of the bigger market teams. He has to know that Cincinnati is not the place he’ll make the most cheddar. Which is another reason to make a huge move going into 2015. It’s not enough to just get back to being a playoff caliber team when healthy– we need to utilize the strong core in place and add thump to it, so that a World Series contender we become.

  8. Robert Stephenson is nowhere ready aside from that I agree with your article. Of all our star studded prospect pitchers he is performing the worst. his ERA is a 4,99 and he walks more than a professional dog walker. I would say Stephenson won’t be ready to even sniff the big leagues until 2016-1017. I would however put John Moscot’s name on there. That guy is a young gun and getting things done not only did he perform well at hitter friendly Pensacola but he has also performed quite well in his 2 starts at Louisville.

    I make no bones about hiding my enthusiasm for Ben Lively. he has the deceptive element that Tony Cingrani has but he has more pitches and for the most part better control. I definitely can see a dominating pitching staff of Lively- Lorenzen – Moscot- Leake -Bailey. Only remaining question is what do we get from Latos and Cueto I think there is less than a 20% chance we sign either. Latos will be back in California and Cueto will be in pinstripes.

    • You may want to slow down on next year’s rotation.
      For comparison reasons here are the three starters you are touting for 2015. These numbers are based on total AA results. I have not included Moscot’s AAA starts as they only include 12 (impressive) innings.
      So here we go
      Lively;
      A+ IP 79.0, BB. 16, SO. 95, ERA. 2.28, WHIP .92, BABIP. .277
      AA IP 67.0, BB. 34, SO. 72, ERA. 3.76, WHIP 1.31, BABIP .292

      Lorenzen;
      AA IP 122.2, BB 41, SO. 86, ERA. 3.09, WHIP 1.28, BABIP 2.89

      Moscot:
      AA IP 180.1, BB 55, SO 139, ERA. 3.14, WHIP 1.30, BABIP .299

      Ben’s increase in BB’s ERA, and decrease in SO’s indicate that he is facing better hitters in AA and he needs to adjust.
      Based on just numbers it would seem to me that Ben needs to step up next year in order to get to AAA.
      Depending on how Moscot does in his next start and in spring training next year he may start in AAA but with continued growth we may see him by July 2015.
      Lorenzen’s number look slightly better than Moscot’s yet he is still in AA so speculating why he didn’t get called up to AAA I will leave to the all-knowing experts.

      As far as Cueto in pin-strips, my concern is that if it is straight trade who do the Yanks have to give back. Latos to the Angels would be a possible deal but again if we can’t have Trout who do they have?
      It will be a very heated “hot stove league”

    • Great point, Mr. Pearl – and thanks for reading. I knew Stephenson was struggling this season but I did not know it was that bad. I also didn’t know a lot about Moscot, so thanks for that heads up.

  9. By the way congrats to Mat and Dallas Latos on having their baby Landon Marshall. I hope they didn’t sign him up already to do the ALS ice bucket challenge.

  10. “An argument can be made that heading into 2014, Cincinnati’s roster was solid enough to return playoff baseball to Great American Ballpark.”

    It would be a weak argument. Not even considering anything that has gone on this season, we started 3 of our top relievers on the DL. We lost our starting CF and a major piece of our offense. One of our top 2 starting pitchers started on the DL, also. Given all of this “and” the fact that we barely smelled playoffs last season, losing to the Pirates in a one game playoff, few if any had this team headed for the playoffs.

    Now, above 500 ball? Maybe that. I myself felt like it was going to be 86-88 wins this season. But, playoff? Sorry, I would have to take the under on that.

    • Steve, thanks for reading. You make a valid point.

      I phrased it “an argument can be made” because I know it wasn’t a definite by any stretch. But, when you have a Top 5 pitching staff and defense, if your offense is simply slightly above average–which I think most people figured it would be–then your roster is solid enough to make the playoffs, especially with the two wildcard spots..and especially considering the rest of the NL is fairly weak.

      And the crazy thing is, 86-88 wins might get you into the playoffs this season.

      I was probably a lot higher on this team’s chances than most, considering I bet $300 on the Reds to get to the World Series at the all-star break!

  11. If the Reds made a move for a hitter like Beltre, I think Cozart is much easier to live with. His poor offensive output sticks out even more on this team/this year, due to the sub-standard performance at 5 positions: 1B, 2B, SS, LF, RF.

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