Bryan Price entered the spring with two giant holes in his pitching rotation. Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon were traded away. Then Homer Bailey had offseason elbow surgery and was slow to return. Walt Jocketty gave the Reds six candidates to fill out the rotation: Left-handers Tony Cingrani, David Holmberg and Paul Maholm; right-handers Anthony DeSclafani, Jason Marquis and Raisel Iglesias.

(Photo: The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar)

Member of the 2002 Atlanta pitching staff, alongside Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, and Jung Bong. (Photo: The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar)

This is the story of questionable decision-making straight out of a SNL skit that led Bryan Price to lock in his rotation after just two weeks of spring games.

On March 9, John Fay noted that all six had pitched well in their first couple of outings, and both declared the race a “six way dead heat” and described Cingrani and DeSclafani as the favorites.

A week later, much had changed. On March 16, Price moved Cingrani to the bullpen and announced that he’d be “stretching out” Iglesias for a rotation spot. The next day, Homberg was cut without so much as a green hat, and then on the 19th, Price announced the rotation: Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, plus DeSclafani, Iglesias and Marquis. Maholm will be competing for a bullpen spot — or opting out of his contract.

There’s a lot to unpack here. In the big picture, the most important thing is that that Iglesias isn’t going the way of Aroldis Chapman. I’ve often thought that Cingrani is a better fit in the bullpen. But Marquis? When Pirates fans think the move is “just delicious,” you know you have a problem.

Marquis is very unlikely to be successful for the Reds this year. He’s 36. He missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery. He hasn’t had an ERA+ above 100 since 2009. Over the past five seasons, he’s combined for a total of 436 innings, with a 5.00 FIP, 1.523 WHIP, and only 5.6 K/9 IP. As a wise man once said, ball don’t lie.

Or, as Dave Cameron put it:

He’s 36, while anything is theoretically possible, Jason Marquis providing 200 good innings for the Reds is about as likely as Billy Hamilton leading the league in home runs.

I’m sure that the main reason the Reds put Jason Marquis in the rotation is that Bryan Price and Jeff Pico like the way he’s throwing. They probably find his stuff to be better than it looked last year. But regardless of how great Marquis looked in two bullpen sessions and three short starts, the decision to put him in the rotation — at least making that decision on March 18 — is evidence of four different types of lousy decision-making:

If you thought  you’d seen the last of veteran bias when Dusty Baker left, you misunderstood baseball managers — particularly managers whose jobs are on the line. Bryan Price was flat terrified of opening the season with three unproven starters.

Earlier this spring, Price offered some perfectly Dusty-like rationale for putting either Maholm or Marquis in the rotations:  “A veteran guy… would be fairly important, someone who knows how to manage a game and has pitched in the league and has had success in the league.”

Those are the words of a guy who’s afraid of the unknown, and that fear is making him grasp on to the known, if uninspiring commodity. Fear, particularly of the unknown, is a powerful, primal motivator. Studies show that fear magnifies risk perception and distorts decision-making. The classic example is how people think about driving and flying. You’re something like 30X more likely to die in a car accident, but I’ve never heard of anyone afraid to ride in a car.

“Rookie pitchers are safe and reliable. Managers start them every day. Rookie pitchers are safe and reliable. Managers start them every day. Rookie pitchers are safe and relia-aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!! We’re all going to get fired!!!  Get me Jason Marquis!!!!”

Cameron explained why this is such a terrible strategy, at least for a Reds team that needs everything to go right in order to win 90 games:

Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm are not big bets. They’re hedges, the kinds of stop-gaps you lean on for a few weeks while you wait for your real solution to get healthy. There’s a higher floor with both, as we’re pretty sure they can at least throw strikes in the big leagues, but these are the lowest of low-ceiling arms still hanging around big league rotations.

In other words, Bryan Price really needs to get to the west coast tomorrow, but his fear of an airplane crash has him taking the keys to a used minivan — one that spent the last 18 months at the bottom of a lake. And even if the mechanic does wonders and that van performs like it did when it was new, it isn’t going to take Bryan Price where he needs to go.

And even if you had to have a veteran starter, why not Maholm? Neither he nor Marquis has an inspiring recent track record, but at least Maholm has lodged a good season since Lost went off the air. Is it another case of Cardinal Infatuation? At this point, it exhausts me to list all the former Cardinals who’ve made Cincinnati the last stop on the back side of their careers. But after eight off-seasons with Jocketty running the Reds, I’ve learned to never bet against a former Redbird, no matter how much of a has-been (or never-was) he seems.

Maholm, never pitched for STL. (Photo: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

And why make the decision so soon? To me, that’s the hardest part to explain. There’s a sample size problem that even Thom Brennaman could recognize. Yes, Marquis had allowed only one hit in his first nine spring innings, but who hands someone a major league rotation spot based on a 31-batter sample size?

You know who else was having a good spring at that point? Everybody. When the Reds were bragging about Marquis’ 0.00 ERA, they had 11 different pitchers with a sub-3.00 ERA and at least 6 IP. Given that context, Marquis’ three nice starts don’t look quite so impressive.

“Do you know me? I had a 1.64 ERA in 2014 Spring Training.”

As if to prove the cosmic point, Marquis went out and got hammered by the White Sox about an hour after being handed the job. His vaunted Spring Training ERA jumped to 3.21. As of Saturday morning, he ranked dead last among the six original contenders for the rotation.

  • Cingrani 1.29
  • Holmberg 2.57
  • Iglesias 2.53
  • DeSclafani 2.63
  • Maholm 2.89
  • Marquis 3.21

I don’t have 30 years in professional baseball. I’m not paid $1M or more to evaluate and manage baseball players. Hell, I haven’t even seen Jason Marquis in a Reds uniform. What I’m saying is there’s a very good chance I’m wrong about all of this. As a Reds fan, I hope I am. But from my seat on the recliner in front of the TV, this looks like a bad decision, by a team that really can’t afford to make any.

100 Responses

  1. charlottencredsfan

    You are “right about this”. It doesn’t take a Hollywood actor or producer to recognize a bad movie. You use nothing but logical thinking in your article and I agree with every last word of it.

    Earth to Bob C: this team will not compete in 2015. Pick an upcoming season to target as the get back in it year and act accordingly. Favor the kids not the vets when in doubt. I recommend 2017 but if you mess around this year, I will then suggest 2018.

    Really good stuff here, Mr. Garber.

  2. Jeremy Conley

    Good article Chris, I think there are some serious problems with the Reds’ front office’s decision making.

    Two of the things I’ve noticed, which play into the Marquis situation, are that the Reds frequently go with the old guy over the young guy, and the familiar guy over the new guy. On the face of it, or done sparingly, neither of those is actually that bad.

    But managing a baseball team is different than it used to be. This is a huge business, with billions at stake, and other teams are out there looking for every last loophole to exploit to get every last win out of every last dollar. There really isn’t room for loyalty to “your guys,” and certainly there’s no room for playing guys that aren’t the best option you have just because they have veteran know-how.

    Jumbo Diaz is a great example from last year. It was very obvious in spring training that he was probably one of the best relievers that the Reds had. Certainly he would have been a welcome addition to a weak pen. Yet he didn’t make the team, while guys like Ondrusek (and others) did. Sure enough, they stank, Jumbo eventually gets called up and puts up the third best reliever ERA, and third best xFIP on the team.

    If the Reds aren’t willing to start making their decisions exclusively based on putting the best team on the field, which can be really tough ones where you have to let guys like Homer Bailey walk even though you like him and know him, our windows of competitiveness will get smaller and more rare.

    • The Next Janish

      The fact it took so long for Jumbo to get a chance makes me wonder/worry about who dropped the ball. The bullpen was a dumpster fire at times last year, what would it have hurt to bring up a 30 year old non prospect to come pitch out of the bullpen. He had been dominating batters for a year; seemed like a low risk bet with a possible upside.

    • Tim

      The window closed when Arroyo, Simon and Latos were dealt and Bruce and Bailey were given huge contracts. We are now riding a long slow path to mediocrity and decline. Okay, so maybe my glass is more than half empty!

  3. eric3287

    I agree with everything except, “What I’m saying is there’s a very good chance I’m wrong about all of this.” There isn’t. This can’t end well.

  4. Jeff

    Neftali traded for Cash. (Not Johnny)

    • lwblogger2

      Good for him. He clearly wasn’t getting any sort of real shot with this organization.

  5. jessecuster44

    Shouldn’t this be an eleven part series? “The Reds’ Bad Idea(s)?”

    • lwblogger2

      “Best Comment of the Week” Award nominee.

  6. earmbrister

    Chris, that was a well written and passionate piece.

    That said, you freely admit that you have yet to watch Marquis in a Reds uniform. Price obviously has, and not just for the 31 pitches thrown in ST games. Between Price, Power, WJ, and the pitching coach (as well as a catcher (or 5), multiple people are seeing him each and every day. Chances are he was an early reporter to ST for that matter. I seriously doubt that everyone in the Reds org is operating with a “fear” perspective.

    The Cards are widely viewed as a well run org. They too are starting a 36 year in their rotation. John Lackey was borderline awful for them last year, but is back in their rotation. Meanwhile, highly touted prospect Carlos Martinez finds himself fighting for a bullpen spot. Not identical fact patterns, but pretty darn close.

    Lorenzen is not ready to pitch 180 + innings this year, and Iglesias is even less equipped to do so. People need to exhale and let this play out. Price is almost certainly NOT revealing all of his thoughts and plans to the press.

    • jdx19

      Lackey has producted at least 1.0 fWAR in each season since 2009. Marquis has produce only one such season since 2009. Lackey has been significanly better over the last 5 year. Marquis is coming off TJ surgery. He could be completey done.

      Its like comparing apples and oranges. Just because them have the same age means nothing at all. Marquis’ absolute ceiling, in my opinion, is a replacement-level pitcher. 0.0 fWAR. That would be a win, IMO.

      • jdx19

        And it is not as if Marquis is some aging star. He’s been completely mediocre his entire career, except for one season with the Rockies where he put up 3.4 WAR with a flukishly low 0.69 HR/9.

        He has no upside. If you want to win ballgames without proven stars, you need to gamble. Price and Reds seem unwilling to do this.

      • earmbrister

        It’s hardly like comparing apples and oranges.

        They’re both 36 yrs old. As we all know, Steve M. LOVES older players. Is Lackey’s performance in St. Louis last year (which was just mediocre), the beginning of a sharp regression?

        They’re both pitching for the league minimum salary.

        They’ve both had Tommy John surgery. Lackey pitched poorly in 2011, then had TJ surgery and missed all of 2012. He came back with a great year in 2013, as players often do following TJ surgery. Marquis missed 2014 following TJ surgery. Could we see a bounce back year from him?

        They’re both favorites for their teams rotation, ahead of highly touted top prospects. In both cases, it appears that the prospect will be pitching out of the bullpen, not in AAA this year.

        I’m not an expert, like some here (hehe), but if Price, Power, Walt, Pico, and Terry Reynolds see something they like and value in Marquis (like his high groundball %) I’m willing to let it play out. Just my opinion, and everyone’s got one.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Another interesting thing about Lackey – aside from the fact that he’s been a pretty good pitcher the last couple years – is that he’s got a contract that calls for him to be paid league minimum this year. That club option was triggered by Lackey missing 2012 with the surgery.

      • earmbrister

        Yeah Steve, the Cards got a steal salary wise.

        I wasn’t trying to say that Marquis=Lackey. Lackey has clearly been a better pitcher over the course of his career. However, Marquis is not the bum that some would make him out to be. And there are numerous parallels. Both could be considered the worst starters in their rotations. And both are starting instead of a top prospect who is seemingly being relegated to the bullpen.

      • Chris Garber

        I’m not saying Marquis is a bum. I’m saying (1) he’s likely to max out at “mediocre,” and the Reds need more to contend. (2) Handing him a rotation spot on March 18 made no sense at all.

      • eddiek957

        bailey should be back soon what will it be 2 starts the weakest will then be out

    • reaganspad

      Lorenzen will give more innings this year than Marquis and at a much lower era.

      at issue is where he will give those innings. I can see Lorenzen at AAA with a sub 2.0 ERA while Marquis is in Cincy at 4.99 but “looking good”

      Jimmy Haynes was better option when he was brought into camp the first time. And those were finger nail biting 6 inning affairs by Jimmy but he kept us in games with that curveball.

      I do not see Marquis doing the same for us. And the disappointing thing is, there are options.

      I would rather see a healthy Manny Parra in the rotation than Marquis. Parra might have a mid 4 ERA but he is left handed and can hit 94-95. there is talent there as he was a starter also. If he played at St. Louis vs Milwaukee, would he be a frontrunner? Shoot, I would rather see Sam stretched out. Too bad that Sampson wasn’t given more opportunities. I had him pegged to be this year’s Alfredo Simon

      • preacherj

        Wait a minute……Last season we were talking about the strength of this ball club being the rotation; in fact it was one of the best in the MLB…..and now we are in a situation where we are thinking back FONDLY on Jimmy Haynes?!?!? Oh, boy.

      • lwblogger2

        When put in the perspective of those teams, a guy like Marquis probably would have been counted on to be a #1 or #2. Jimmy Haynes was the Reds’ #1 starter in 2002. Elmer Dessens may have been a bit better that year and he was the #2. Joey Hamilton, Chris Reitsma (at least young and effective), Brian Moehler, Ryan Dempster with an arm injury, 37-year-old Jose Rijo and his over 5.00 ERA even made a handful of starts. Our rotation isn’t anything like that at least. Still, it is no longer one of the best in the NL.

      • greenmtred

        I seem to recall many of us saying that, since pitchers are plentiful and finding serviceable pitchers is easy, the Reds should trade some of theirs. Well, they did, didn’t they? We need to be careful what we wish for.

      • earmbrister

        Lorenzen will be innings limited, whether it be in AAA or MLB. His arm doesn’t know who’s in the batters box.

        If Lorenzen or Iglesias had built up their IP, and could pitch an entire year in the rotation, it’s likely that everyone would make the same decision: they deserve to be in the rotation ahead of Marquis and maybe even Disco. Unfortunately they can’t, so they won’t.

        While Price hasn’t SAID so (cause Marquis and Malholm would opt out of their contracts if he did say so), it’s quite conceivable that Lorenzen and Iglesias will start in the bullpen as a way to limit their innings then will be stretched out to possibly start later in the year, if their results warrant it.

        None of the other guys you mentioned (Parra, LeCure, or Jimmy Haynes lol) are in a position to pitch a full season in the rotation. They’re as limited or moreso than Lorenzen.

  7. WVRedlegs

    Yes, it be a bad idea alright. There might be a late spring training surprise roster addition when all teams cut down to the 25 man limit. Like when they got Simon a few years ago, but for a starter. But with the Reds and loyalty, that is pretty far-fetched.
    If not, then the best we can hope for is that come June 1 there is a serious evaluation of where the #4 and #5 starters stand. If one or both are struggling then a change will have to happen. Hopefully, Holmberg is showing something good at AAA by then.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one. Holmberg has been the least impressive of any of the Reds minor leaguers that I’ve seen. Remember, this was a guy the Rays were willing to give up for a back-up catcher. The Rays generally don’t trade good pitching prospects, and certainly not for .5WAR players.

      • WVRedlegs

        Holmberg came from Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a 3-way trade. He’s young and a lefty, so don’t give up on him yet.

      • lwblogger2

        I think he’ll end up being serviceable somewhere.

      • Grand Salami

        http://www.azsnakepit.com/2012/7/17/3163466/diamondback-future-expectations-david-holmberg-lhp

        I love historic articles. The Diamondbacks insisted 88-93 on his fastball three years ago (btw that is an oddly large range). I watched him on TV and in person last year and he seemed to have no more umph than Bronson did in his last year with the Reds. Unless you’re Greg Maddux (or the aforementioned Mr. Arroyo) or a knuckle baller, I don’t trust that a new, inexperienced starting pitcher can cut it in the bigs with a fastball that doesn’t consistent cross the 90 mph thresh hold.

  8. Grand Salami

    A SSS problem that even Thom B could recognize. Instant classic line!

    The one thing Price seems to know is pitching and how to get the most out of it. I am going to withhold judgment until Marquis’ first couple of starts. I will say that it doesn’t seem like Marquis’ TJ surgery suddenly transformed his arm and power ala the cheesy kids movie “Rookie of the Year”

  9. JB WV

    I like to give management the benefit of the doubt generally, but a couple things bewilder me this year. Marquis, obviously, and putting Iglesias in the rotation from the start. He’s never been a starter and this his is first year in the Bigs, not to mention the U.S. There’s a major period of adjustment in both cases. And why is Price seemingly committed to hitting Phillips in the middle of the order? I love the guy, but Frazier, Mesoraco, and even Byrd should hit in front of him. Price is a smart guy, but may be an example of the Peter Principle.

    • lwblogger2

      I’ve been an apologist for the Reds’ management team for a few years running. I can usually see their reasoning for things and even though I do pay attention to metrics, I still have a lot of traditional baseball thinking left in me from playing, coaching, and managing.

      • lwblogger2

        That said, they have me completely baffled and frustrated this year. I can’t make sense of most the off-season. Not from any of my various points of view or experiences.

  10. Drew

    Incredible how all those who have never played or worked on the professional level know how to operate a professional sports teams. HOW do the Reds survive with all the horrible decission making going on….

    • Frogger

      Survived how? They havn’t won a playoff series in 20 years. Same decision making equals same result. My one last hope is to enjoy the games with a healthy Votto. One last request for BP. Don’t bat your 7th best hitter in the 3 hole behind your best please. If you don’t have guts Mr. Price. You will never win and never get another manager job after this one fails.

    • Jeremy Conley

      Drew, come on. The Reds survive because the fans love their hometown team that’s been around for 150 years, not because of anything happening on the field now.

      Have you ever owned or managed a business. If you have, consider how you would feel if you were spending more on your materials and labor than any of your competitors but making an inferior product. Might you think that some poor decisions had been made?

      Last year the Reds had the biggest budget in the Central and finished a distant 4th place. Now they are projected to finish last, still with the biggest budget. If that doesn’t tell you that there are problems, literally nothing will.

      No one on this site has said they could step in and be GM today, but when there are such obvious problems, it is every thinking fan’s prerogative to pay attention and notice potential examples of those problems.

      • greenmtred

        A little context would help. The Reds, for some years now, have been more successful than most teams without being one of the top spenders. I don’t get the decision making this year, either, but I’m certainly not giving up on the season before opening day. Last year–due to incredible injuries to key players–may have been an aberration. Let’s hope so. They probably won’t win the WS this year, but considering that only one team will, the same can be said for all teams.

    • charlottencredsfan

      For your consideration: how many people criticize the President of the US who have never held a elected government office, let alone been President?

    • jessecuster44

      In the past 4 seasons, the Reds have had the best talent they have had since the 70s. They went a combined 2-7 in the playoffs, and never won a home playoff game, much less a playoff series. To say they underachieved is an understatement.

      I could have done a better job operating the Reds from July 2014 to present. It’s fairly clear that the Reds’ goal is not to win, but to win on their own stubborn, antiquated terms.

      The end result is an incredible waste of talent and contract years.

  11. lwblogger2

    Easy now Drew. There are plenty of professional analysts who have played, managed, and/or been part of front-offices who have many of the same questions about the Reds off-season as has been discussed here. There also may be some more experience here among the posters than you might think.

    I know the negativity can be frustrating. It drove me away for a bit last year. The thing is though, there haven’t been a ton of things to be optimistic about with this off-season. A healthy Votto and Bruce make the team better. Unlike some, I think Byrd will make the team better, but replacing Latos and Simon with DeSclafani and Marquis? Replacing your 4th OF who had a little pop and could at least play all 3 OF positions rather well, with who exactly? Badenhop is a nice addition to the pen. Is he enough to drag them from the depths? Healthy Cingrani could help there maybe.

    • Kevin J. Brown

      The team was 29th in runs scored last year. JV is healthy. Bruce should bounce back. Byrd will give a lot more production in LF than what the Reds got last year.
      I think the lineup looks quite good and expect the Reds will be in the top 5 in runs scored in the NL this year.

      The starters probably won’t be as good (though they will largely depend on what DeSclafani does), but the bullpen was shockingly bad last year and it would be a big surprise if it wasn’t significantly improved. Even with all the injuries the Reds had last year they were in the race until against.

      I expect them to contend.

      • eddiek957

        I don’t remember latos doing anything last year and simon after the all star break was burnt out if there is no injuries I think the starting pitching can be better this year

  12. Kevin J. Brown

    No team could have succeeded with the level of injuries to critical players that the Reds had last year.

    Marquis is an acceptable risk as a back end of the rotation guy to start the year. His ERA has been around 4.00 in significant stints with 3 different NL teams from 2011-13. If he pitches poorly, he can be replaced.

    [Edited out comments directed at other writers, not the Reds.]

    • unc reds fan

      The problem is that he isn’t the one positioned to sit when Bailey returns…that I could at least buy…keeping Marquis over Iglesias is where I think we have made a ridiculously hasty decision…but to be fair, price has taken more chances than Dusty ever would have…the problem is it takes major huevos and a major personality to play against the managerial book and I am afraid Price has neither…not that our fearless GM has given him much to really work with either

    • Chris Garber

      Marquis is an acceptable risk as a back end of the rotation guy to start the year.

      The problem, even if I agreed with that, is that there’s no reward to go with that risk.

      His ERA has been around 4.00 in significant stints with 3 different NL teams from 2011-13.

      His FIP was 4.90 and his ERA+ was 80. The “around 4.00 ERA” is entirely a product of pitching in San Diego and Washington.

      If he pitches poorly, he can be replaced.

      No matter how big a dumpster fire he is, Marquis is going to make at least 4 starts. And this team doesn’t have ANY margin for error. It’s one thing if Johnny Cueto implodes, but an April ERA of 7.50 is totally within the range of foreseeable outcomes for Marquis.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        His ERA in 2013 was better on the road than at home in San Diego.

      • lwblogger2

        True… Partly because he gave up a whopping 11 HR in that ginormous park. Honestly, I’d take Maholm over him and that’s saying something pretty bad. At one time, Marquis did swing a pretty good stick for a pitcher. At one time, he also was pretty effective at keeping the ball down and getting grounders. I hope I’m wrong on Marquis but I’m rarely wrong about pitchers. Though, I was wrong about Simon in the rotation last year. I thought he’d be serviceable to bad in the rotation and he was very good to serviceable.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        Anthony DeSclafani had a 6.27 ERA last year.

        Pretty much any decision the Reds make with the material they for the back of the rotation involves a degree of risk.

      • Steve Mancuso

        You’re ignoring Chris’ point (which he’s now made twice) that there isn’t upside with Marquis to provide the reward for the risk. With DeSclafani, there’s plenty of upside. Same with Iglesias.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        Of course, Tony D has an upside and I agree with him being in the rotation. Iglesias is also in the rotation BTW.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Not after Bailey returns. Iglesias out. Veteran Marquis stays.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        I guess we’ll see. I don’t think anything is written in stone as far as the last two spots in the rotation. Things could even change by Opening Day.

      • Chris Garber

        Bryan Price has been VERY clear that a veteran isn’t going to the bullpen when Homer returns.

    • redmountain

      And in 2010 they were also supposed to finish last. There is not a prognosticator or sports writer that can accurately rate this team’s fortunes. If Marquis cannot get it done, does that mean the Reds could not go in a different direction? I might n1ot think that Lorenzen should be in the bullpen, but then I am not sure I want Iglesias there either. As absolute as Price may sound, it does not mean they cannot go a different direction. All he did was state that he thought this was what he and the Reds would do now.

      • Tom Reed

        Agreed. Nothing is unchangeable at this point. It’s a long season with a lot of ups and downs.

      • Chris Garber

        “And in 2010 they were also supposed to finish last.”

        Sorry, but that’s just not true. Multiple ESPN people picked them to win the division, and others had them as the WC. Yahoo’s three guys had them no lower than 4th (in what was a 6 team division). EVERYBODY picked the Astros and Pirates to come in 5th and 6th.

  13. BigRedMachine

    This article and all the comments are just more evidence as to why “you can’t have too much pitching” is always true.

    Earlier in the year, everyone was saying how much pitching the Reds had and how they needed to trade some of it to get a super star in LF, replacements at SS and 2B, someone to hit lead off to give Hamilton time to develop, etc.

    Now Marquis has been penciled into the rotation, Stephenson has everyone worried after his injury, Cueto and Leake are as good as gone next year according to most reporters following the Reds, and Cingrani is destined for the bullpen. (I don’t even need to add Chapman pitching a handful of innings every year.)

    For the record I don’t think that Simon was going to repeat his career (first half of a) year performance. And clearly Price saw Latos’ talent declining. So those weren’t, in my mind, horrible moves. It just shows that those expectations that the Reds had the likes of Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Avery waiting in the wings could have done with a dose of reality.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Who said the Reds had “the likes of Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Avery waiting in the wings”?

      • BigRedMachine

        Not you Steve but it was a common argument that the Reds trade pitching to get someone in left and a “real” leadoff hitter. The implication was that we had Stephenson, Cingrani, etc waiting in the wings to join Cueto and company to become a fearsome pitching staff.

        The truth is the 4th and 5th starters could be a huge hole for the Reds this year. I am more worried about next year if Cueto and Leake both move on. Am I surprised? No. I actually think the Reds do what they can with the resources they have available.

        But I don’t describe the Reds as a team overflowing with pitching talent. Or am I missing something?

      • Steve Mancuso

        I advocated trading Latos for a LF upgrade, one with OBP upside. The fact that the Reds have boxed themselves in so that *Jason Marquis* is in their rotation isn’t a necessary byproduct of trading Latos. They could have acquired better backup pitching. Or gone with Cingrani, Holmberg, Iglesias, Axelrod.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Or if you wanted to win this year, you could have kept Latos and traded someone like Lorenzen or Travieso for a real upgrade in LF. Then you would have had the best of both worlds for 2015.

    • Jeremy Conley

      This strikes me as a weird comment, because I haven’t seen a single report that said the Reds best pitching prospects were going to be ready prior to 2016. How the Reds prospects fare down the line, whether they turn into hall of famers or busts, has nothing to do with this year, and it never did. Go to MLB.com and look for the Reds top 20 prospects. You will see that in the top 10 the Reds have 7 pitchers, and only one (Desclafani) is expected to make a significant contribution to the Reds this year. You can see this by the ETA listed for the big leagues.

      For this year, the Reds had a lot of starting pitchers, but they traded two of them for minor league talent. That’s normally a move a rebuilding team makes. Then they said that they are going to contend this year, and stopped trading major league players for minor league prospects. It was then that putting Marquis in the rotation instead of Latos started to make a lot less sense.

      If you are going to contend, you do it with Latos, not Marquis.

      • lwblogger2

        This is kind of how I felt about the whole off-season. I am one who had been saying they could compete but needed an upgrade in LF and needed to rework the pen. Then the Reds traded Heisey, Simon and especially Latos for minor league talent; making me think “Well, the Reds don’t see it that way. They want to rebuild.” But then they acquired Byrd for Lively and started talking about how they were going to compete. Then announced that Marquis would be in the rotation “long term”. It has really befuddled me. They are sort of halfway in. Either you’re trying to win a championship or you’re rebuilding. The Reds couldn’t quite decide. That is actually the most frustrating part of the off-season for me.

    • Carl Sayre

      Just because the game has changed to the point where hitters are harder to come by thus more valuable than pitchers does not mean the Reds attempted to get them.

  14. lwblogger2

    The Reds have released Jose Mijares. Guess they figured they have enough LH relievers, especially with the Cingrani move. Who knows?

    • earmbrister

      MIjares looked bad every time I saw him this spring, which admittedly wasn’t every time he pitched.

      • lwblogger2

        Yeah, he didn’t look great and the Reds have a lot of LHP. Maybe they wanted to let him go early so he could perhaps catch on with another team.

    • redsfan06

      An interesting comment in the article about the Reds and their fate when starting players get injured (like happened in 2014):

      …..no, the Reds probably go as far as Votto’s health and the young arms take them.

      (This is also a team-wide trend for the Reds. In percentage terms, four of the five biggest drop-offs in baseball came from the Reds — if they were to lose Marlon Byrd, Brandon Phillips, Votto *or* Billy Hamilton, their replacement would be 30-40 percent worse than the starter.

  15. B-town Fan

    Chris that is one is one of the funniest sayings I’ve heard this spring training! “Rookie pitchers are safe and reliable. Managers start them every day. Rookie pitchers are safe and reliable. Managers start them every day. Rookie pitchers are safe and reliaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!! We’re all going to get fired!!! Get me Jason Marquis!!!!”

  16. Kevin J. Brown

    Suarez, Lutz, Barnhart to AAA. Satin and Wallach to minor league camp.

    Walk off hits are the kiss of death to the prospects; Duran was sent down right after he hit a walk off, too.

    • charlottencredsfan

      With Boesch’s good spring, no real surprises here.

    • lwblogger2

      No big surprises I guess, save perhaps Suarez. I’m guessing they want him starting and playing every day at AAA… I wonder if Satin has an out clause?

      Bench predictions? Pena, Negron, Schumaker, Boesch, Dominguez? I thought Satin would probably be on the bench to backup 3B/1B and maybe the corner OF spots.

  17. reaganspad

    Negron is starting at SS tonight. I have been waiting for this to see how it goes

    • lwblogger2

      I wouldn’t read too much into it… Negron is solid at SS though. As is the case with many MLB infielders, it’s his natural position.

  18. Steve Mancuso

    With today’s cuts, the bench is pretty clear now: Negron, Schumaker, Boesch, Peña, Dominguez.

  19. Jeremy Conley

    Now that the Reds have cut Suarez, I would really love to know what the plan is with him going forward. He’s probably a better player than Cozart right now. How long is he going to be “blocked.”

    • Steve Mancuso

      My guess is when Cozart is traded. That’s at the end of 2015 at the latest, but possibly at the trade deadline.

    • Kevin J. Brown

      Cozart still appears to be a superior SS in the field. I think the Reds are hoping he can return to being a .250 or so hitter with a little bit of power as he was in 2012 and 2013. If he does not and Suarez performs well in AAA, then Cozart will probably lose his job either at the end of this year or the start of next.

      • lwblogger2

        I think it will go how either you or Steve are saying. And I agree.

  20. earmbrister

    What if the Reds AREN’T playing it conservative, but are actually looking to have both Lorenzen and Iglesias in Cincy all year, and both in the rotation at year end?

    • lwblogger2

      They said that Iglesias was going to AA when Bailey got back. Of course minds do get changed.

  21. redsfan06

    One of my concerns when spring training began is what damage the killer M’s (Marquis, Maholm, Marshall, Manny and holMberg) were going to inflict upon the team. At this point, with only Marquis looking to inflict serious damage, things are getting better.

  22. Mark Anthony SPROVIERO

    Marquis v. NL central batters = Pflieger v. Pizza man. Vicious beating and early knockout.

    p.s. Don’t tell my mom I got a new motorcycle.

    • Steve Mancuso

      No quotes, but the way the pitchers are lined up is transparent. Right through to Opening Day and beyond. But yeah, nothing final yet.

      • Rojo Johnson

        “The way the pitchers are lined up is transparent. Right through opening day”. Please explain because currently DeSclafini is pitching the day before Leake. Under that logic, DeSclafini would be pitching the second game of the year. That won’t be the case come the regular season. There are three days off between today and the second game of the year meaning for the last two weeks of ST they have some flexibility on who pitches when.

        Unless something has changed and I am not aware, starters typically pitch every fifth day. If there are two or three guys are competing for one spot, one or two of those guys will be making their case for that starting spot coming out of the pen. Additionally, managers are typically going to give the starts to their veterans until one of the younger fellas proves they are better.

        Even if Marquis does make the starting five and he pitches as poorly as everyone believes, wouldn’t logic dictate that one of Cingrani, Lorenzen, Moscot, Stephenson, etc. take his spot at some point? There is no way he gets 200 or even 100IP if he is pitching as poorly as he has in recent memory.

        But yeah, it is possible that they have already tabbed Marquis as the fifth starter for the entire season and don’t want to tell anyone.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Posted this on another thread. Here’s how I see the rotation stacking up through Bailey’s return:

        Spring Training
        3/23 – Marquis
        3/25 – DeSclafani
        3/26 – Cueto (Lorenzen, Cueto on leave)
        3/27 – Bailey (vs. Milwaukee)
        3/28 – Leake
        3/29 – Marquis
        3/30 – DeSclafani
        3/31 – Cueto
        4/1 – Iglesias (Bailey on DL, pitches in minor leagues)
        4/2 – Leake
        4/3 – Marquis
        4/4 – DeSclafani

        Pirates
        4/6 – Cueto
        4/8 – Iglesias
        4/9 – Leake

        Cardinals
        4/10 – Marquis
        4/11 – DeSclafani
        4/12 – Cueto

        Cubs
        4/13 – Bailey/Iglesias
        4/14 – Leake
        4/15 – Marquis

        Cardinals
        4/17 – DeSclafani
        4/18 – Cueto
        4/19 – Bailey

  23. jessecuster44

    Is it possible that Marquis is pitching to purposefully impede some of the young Reds pitching from jumping to the Major Leagues, and thereby gaining the Reds one more year of team control?

    If so, then the Reds aren’t really trying to win this year.

  24. AMOZONS

    When we got a new owner I said, ” Now we need a GM like Walt Jocketty ” So I was ECSTATIC when we actually got Walt !!! Now years later I almost feel like crying when I read all of this and know how true it is. I live in NJ and buy the MLB Extra Innings pass for my cable TV for $200 so I can see most of there games. NOT THIS YEAR. It will be the first time. We also drive the 11 hours once a year to see a weekend series…NOT THIS YEAR. I am still and will always be a LIFE TIME LOYAL REDS FAN……but if they win it all this year, I will NOT say = ” I told you so !!!!!! ” What a MESS. Going to bed sad. Still >>>>>> GO REDS !!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Jeremy R Howdyshell

    I will say this in Price’s defense. I figure that they probably have Marquis in as a placeholder for Bailey. Iglesias and Desclafani are both young prospects with great upside, so I don’t get the argument of fear of playing rookies. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t just put Marquis in because they know what they’re going to get. A guy who while not overwhelming will keep the ship afloat for a few starts while they wait for Bailey to come back to full health. This would then from this perspective make sense to relegate Cingrani to the bullpen where he truly is better suited as a dangerous fastball pitcher with below average offspeed. If they drop Iglesias or Desclafani once Bailey is healthy then I’ll start asking a lot more questions about the leadership, but truly I have faith in Price’s ability to manage the pitchers; it is the rest of the game that is in question for me given that he got the position because of the great work he had done with the Reds pitchers in recent history.

    • Chris Garber

      “I will say this in Price’s defense. I figure that they probably have Marquis in as a placeholder for Bailey”

      I wish I could agree. But per Fay, that’s not the plan:

      Iglesias, the 25-year-old Cuban right-hander, will likely go to the bullpen or the minors when Homer Bailey is ready to go. Bailey is expected to miss one or two starts because he is coming off elbow surgery.

  26. sezwhom

    There’s a sample size problem that even Thom Brennaman could recognize.

    Good one. That a sample size in “all of major league baseball” too. If Marquis is still in the rotation by June, I’ll be stunned.

  27. Kevin J. Brown

    Last year, the Reds pitched Cueto on Opening Day and then in Game 5 with his normal 4 days rest. They did not use a fifth starter until Game 6.

    I expect they’ll do the same thing this year, so I would expect Cueto to go 4/6 and 4/11 and whoever is the 5th starter to pitch 4/12 (4/7 is an off day).

  28. whereruklu

    Said it before and I’ll say it again. Even IF Votto, Bruce, and Phillips are healthy thru the entire year, this team will rise or fall because of the pitching staff. Jocketty has it in a mess. It’s really a shame that a former pitching coach, now manager, is given the arms to work with that Price has been given. I was always under the impression that the minor system was “full” of pitchers just waiting their turn. Even if the Reds can up their RPG, with a staff that looks like this one does, it is almost a sure bet that the opposition will be able to get across a couple of runs more. EVERY single publication on MLB this year has the Reds dead last. Hate to be so pesimistic, but let’s face it, if the Reds can’t figure out their pitching staff by now, they may be in a world of hurt. None the less, my heart bleeds Redleg red. Maybe things will fall into place for them. One can only hope.

  29. Carl Sayre

    I was underwhelmed by Price last year but I was trying to be understanding with his hands tied by our MASH unit. The rotation being set so early just tells me that my first impression was probably spot on. IMO he wasn’t ready for the job and add to that somebody has to be the fall guy. He is gone before the break.