One more day until the Jordan Pacheco Era begins for the Reds. Tomorrow is the deadline for pitchers and catchers to report (a phrase first used in 1924) for spring training in Goodyear, AZ. Most of the players are there already. A little news and reading material to keep you busy:

• Sweet Lou Piniella will serve as the grand marshall of the Opening Day parade. The club recently hired Piniella as a senior advisor to baseball operations in a consulting capacity. The team also announced Piniella will spend time with the team in spring training.

• Mark Sheldon wrote an informative 5-part preview of the Reds season: players seeking a bounce back season, spotlight on Jose Peraza, prospects to watch, uncertainty in the rotation, and projected lineup and rotation.

• The Reds made two of the worst offseason transactions, according to Dave Cameron at FanGraphs. On the Todd Frazier trade:

Taking less long-term value to acquire Brandon Phillips replacement, before you ensure that Phillips would indeed waive his no-trade clause to play elsewhere, means that the team took a lighter package than they could have gotten from the White Sox directly, but also don’t get the benefit of having Peraza play everyday in 2016. And at these prices, the team may have realistically been better off holding on to Frazier, hoping he had another big first half, and then seeing what his market looked like in July. Instead, the team sold low on one of their best trade chips, and now their path back to contention looks even longer.

On the Reds acquisition of Alfredo Rodriguez (which Cameron says has happened, but the Reds haven’t officially announced it yet):

Like with Arizona’s decision to sign Yoan Lopez a year ago, there seems to not be enough of a return on this investment to justify the penalties associated with going over their pool allocation, and the Reds can’t really afford to be leaving talent on the table right now.

Cameron’s list didn’t include selling low on Aroldis Chapman, which surprised me.

• The baseball staff at Sports Illustrated gave the Reds offseason a final grade of D with only one organization, the LA Angels, receiving a worse score.

In addition to light trade returns on All-Stars Todd Frazier, a third baseman who landed with the White Sox after a three-team deal that also included the Dodgers, and closer Aroldis Chapman, who was shipped to the Yankees for an underwhelming package of prospects, the Reds failed to find takers this winter for both outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Brandon Phillips.

• Dave Sheinin (Washington Post) wrote a nice article about Dusty Baker, who begins managing the Nationals this week.

Baker loves being home, even if he never intended to be home so much lately. It wasn’t as if he was pleased to get fired by the Reds after the 2013 season — after a 90-win season that the franchise hasn’t come close to matching — but it did afford him the chance to watch his son play a lot of baseball these past two years, and it meant he could be there to walk his daughter, Natosha, from his first marriage, down the aisle on a summer Saturday in 2014.

“The time off did me some good,” he says. “I didn’t think it would. But it gave me the time to get everything back together — my mind together, my spirit together and my body together.”

• Meanwhile, water is wet. The New York media is discovering Aroldis Chapman is a physical wonder, perhaps the best athlete in baseball and capable of any feat (just don’t ask him to try being a starting pitcher):

According to a person familiar with the situation, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Chapman would beat the 6-foot, 160-pound Hamilton, who stole 57 bases in 114 games last season, in a 100-yard dash. The person said Chapman might be the best athlete in the majors. And it’s more than flat-out speed. Word is other Reds players wouldn’t go into the weight room when Chapman was working out because they didn’t want to be embarrassed by his strength.

• One of many large question marks for the Reds this year is third base. The leading candidate, Eugenio Suarez, has limited experience playing the position.

Third base is not the natural position for Eugenio Suarez. The Cincinnati Reds short-term heir apparent to Todd Frazier has played just 10 major league innings at third with just two chances. Suarez did start 41 games in the minors at third in 2009 and 2010. He had a .926 fielding percentage at third during those two seasons. He never played third in the minors after that. (Robb Hoff)


47 Responses

  1. Jack

    Remind me again, what the White Sox did or might have offered the Reds for a straight-up deal for Frazier and how that would have been better than what the Reds settled for in the 3-team deal?

    • Patrick Jeter

      I think the idea is that the package the Dodgers got in the 3-way deal (OF Trayce Thompson, IF Micah Johnson, P Frankie Montas) was better than what the Reds got. Presumably, the White Sox would have given the Reds the same players for Frazier, rather than involving the Dodgers at all. But, it looks like the Reds just really, really wanted Peraza, so they got him.

    • citzen54

      I follow the White Sox and their farm system is one of the lower rated systems and even then the prospects they gave up weren’t their more highly rated ones. For 2016 Sickels has Montas rated as a B/B+, Thompson B-/C+ and Johnson as C+/B-.

      Thomspon provided 1.5 fWAR and a wRC+ of 144 last year but his BABIP was .341 and Steamer thinks last year was an aberration projecting him to provide .1 fWAR and a wRC+ of 92 in 2016. Micah Johson was almost Billy Hamilton-bad offensively in his limited stint last year, .576 OPS, 62 wRC+.

      Montas looks to be a reliever due to his inconsistent command and mechanics although some scouts do believe that he has the tools necessary to become a starter.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Sickels has Peraza rated as a B+, Schebler rated as a C+ and I didn’t see Dixon listed. (He was the other guy right?) But at best he would be a C prospect, as he wasn’t listed in the “other C+” or even “others of note”.

        To me that looks like two equal headlining prospects in Peraza and Montas (if you want to give a slight edge to Peraza, cool). And then two guys that grade better than the two guys the Reds got back.

        From the grades Sickels gave out, it does appear that the general consensus is true, the Dodgers got the better package of prospects back.

        The point about getting Peraza, and being so hellbent on getting him, and then not even having a place to play him in the near future is especially frustrating, because it seems the Reds could have got a better return if they didn’t have tunnel vision where Peraza is concerned.

      • citizen54

        I forgot to add that Micah Johnson’s defense is horrendous so you’re probably looking at a utility guy. Trayce might be actually pan into something but before last year he hadn’t proven that he can make contact with the ball so the White Sox probably sold high on him. Dixon at this point looks like organizational filler so Johnson might be a bit more valuable than him. Schleber and Thompson should cancel each other with Thompson providing a little more valuable.

        So it appears the real comparison should be between Montas and Peraza and as of now, in my opinion, it looks like the Reds got the better end of the deal even though Montas definitely has the higher upside with his 100 mph fastball. Peraza projects to be an average to slightly below average everyday player while Montas a reliever due to his mechanics, lack of command and lack of adequate secondary pitches. Their grades might be similar but the everyday player is going to be more valuable, moreso if Montas merely turns out to be a reliever. I think the people who grade the White Sox package as being better are the ones that believe that Montas will become a starter.

      • Hotto4Votto

        If Peraza ends up being and everyday, staring player and Montas a reliever, then yes I would agree the Reds got the better end of the deal. Of course I’ve also seen it noted several times and in several places that you can’t judge a trade for what it may be down the line, only what it was at the time. For now, the jury isn’t in on whether Montas is a reliever or a starter. Of course, Peraza could also be the 2nd coming of Billy Hamilton at the plate or he could be Dee Gordon. Obviously we all hope for the latter. The point is we don’t know what the future will be, and projections can be off. Speaking strictly from the grades that Sickels gives out, I think it’s fair to say the Dodgers got the better overall package of prospects, while the Reds likely got the better headliner.

        FWIW, I find the argument about Montas projecting as a reliever amusing. I essentially stated the same thing about Mella, and used the exact reasoning (mechanics, command…) but was met with a lot of derision from some of posters around here when I thought he was an underwhelming return for Leake.

      • citizen54

        I’ll take the headliner since I don’t think the other 4 will amount to too much. Also, I’m not sure why people were ridiculing you about your comments reagrding Mella. Mella comes in with the same question marks that would have come in with Montas. I think Doug said he would have slotted Montas #11 (Mella is #12) in the Reds system.

      • greenmtred

        The idea that a trade must be evaluated in the present rather than later when the prospects involved become better known quantities says more about the value of evaluating trades than it does about the trades themselves.

  2. WVRedlegs

    Nice headline. Depressing content.
    So, the folks at Fangraphs are not complimentary to the Reds offseason. Neither are we.
    The baseball staff at SI must be dipping into the medical marijuana in California. A “D” is a passing grade. No, no, no. This off-season was a complete and utter failure from the Reds front office. A disgusting failure. The Reds front office deserves a big ole “F”.
    How are these guys still employed? Oh, I forgot, the Reds Friends & Family front office.
    I will never support this front office. I will support the players and coaches to the tilt though. I was looking through the Reds promotional days in 2016. I didn’t see it, so when is Fire Walt Jocketty Day? April 5th?

    • redmountain

      Front office people refer to sportswriters as mushrooms. This means keep them in the dark and feed them manure. I think cybermetrics are fine, but can be unreliable in predicting how well kids in the minors will do when coming to the majors. I know that Frazier was not that highly rated when he came to the majors, for example.

  3. mel reed

    Note that in the FanGraphs piece only one other team besides the Reds was highlighted as making two of the ten worst moves. That other tem? The Arizona Diamondbacks. Let that sink in for a moment

    • Steve Mancuso

      Would have been interesting to see the details of the trade the Reds and DBacks had worked out to send Phillips to Arizona. Baseball equivalent of Worst Cooks in America.

      • Patrick Jeter

        Agreed. After seeing what Dave Stewart is willing to give up in certain situations, it’s amazing that a deal couldn’t be reached.

      • lwblogger2

        What’s more amazing is that the Reds didn’t take whatever Arizona was offering for Chapman at last year’s deadline.

    • Tct

      Come on guys. I’m not a fan of Walt either, but one of these transactions never even happened! And as someone who was pounding the “trade Frazier” drum since last June, I don’t think it’s fair for me to criticize the return when it was obviously the best package offered. I will criticize them for not trading him at the deadline, though.

  4. Tct

    The off season really hasn’t been that bad. The mistake with Frazier was to not trade him at the deadline. Once they made him available, his market was not as large as we expected. Everyone knew he was available, and this was the best the Reds could get. As Cameron himself says, had there been some other team offering a bigger package the Dodgers could have just taken Frazier with their package and flipped him for the larger package. That’s not what happened, so it’s reasonable to assume the White Sox package, which was not better than LA’s IMO, was the largest offer. It’s not really fair to criticize the Reds for not trading guys and then criticize them when they do trade someone for the largest package available.

    As I noted in the comments on FG, you could make a case that the Reds bought low on two prospects who were more valuable at the start of the season. Everyone wants to buy low on MLB players but they seem to want to buy prospects at their highest value. Makes no sense. Peraza is the exact same guy, with the exact same skills, that was rated a top 40 prospect last off season. His stock was down, but if the Reds believed in him then they were right to grab him up now when his value is low. Same could be said of Schebler, although he was never as highly regarded as Peraza.

    And the other Reds transaction never happened. Doesn’t matter if Cameron says it did.

    • lwblogger2

      I guess when it comes to Gonzales we have to assume it didn’t happen until either the Reds announce the signing or when he starts playing MiLB games in the organization.

    • Shchi Cossack

      The Reds have a riverboat-loaed of international spending pool limit for the 2016-2017 signing period. If the Reds blow through their 2015-2016 international bonus pool limit by signing Rodriguez prior to the 2016-2017 signing period, they will be limited to a maximum of $300K for any signing during the 2016-2017 signing period. If they do have a deal to sign Rodriguez for $6MM (and I really hope they are not that desperate or foolish), it would only make sense to delay the signing until the 2016-2017 signing period when they would need less than $1MM in bonus pool money to avoid exceeding their limit and incurring penalties. If they do plan on blowing through their pool limit in the 2016/2017 period, I only hope they are making better decisions than spending $6MM for Rodriguez.

  5. Matt WI

    I read that Dusty article yesterday… very interesting. Talked about his depression and despondency when the IRS came after him, to the point of being suicidal. A good reminder of how little we every really know about someone’s life.

    • ohiojimw

      So true that we don’t know what we don’t know about players, coaches, managers et al. I recall Bronson Arroyo once pointing that even among themselves, the players often know little or nothing of their own teammates beyond the cultivated public persona presented on the field, in the clubhouse and at planned public appearances.

      And in a situation such as B.Phillips’ trade refusal, because of the large sums involved, it is too easy to look past the possibility that his finances were such that perhaps he could not afford the move without experiencing severe financial repercussions unless he received the additional money he was supposedly asking for. In the end, if a person’s resources are committed to a financial plan, an upheaval can be extremely costly whether one is making 10K, 100K, 1m, 10M or even more.

  6. ArtWayne

    Dusty’s winning percentage was OK but he let Brandon unloose a tongue lashing of a respected sportswriter over nothing. Dusty sit there like a wooden Indian. The team limped into the one game play-off with Pittsburgh in disarray and lost big time. Dusty has a record of eventually losing respect at every stop in the Bigs.

  7. Hotto4Votto

    Yeah, I have to agree that the trades this offseason were underwhelming. I do agree with what TCT said above, that the real mistake was not trading Frazier, Bruce, and Chapman last trade deadline. But, with that being said, the Frazier and Chapman trades were both disappointing in their return. Peraza may be the only regular, every day player out of the bunch. And even then he may not ever be much more than league average. That’s a low return for an All-Star 3B and a the games’ best closer, no matter when they were traded.

    But the biggest disappointment is that Phillips couldn’t be convinced to waive his no-trade clause. Now the best piece we got back in the dealings doesn’t even have a place to play this year.

  8. WVRedlegs

    This international signings system is hugely flawed, and could very well be addressed in the next CBA. Many American players are very dismayed with this system of granting free agency to international players. It is ridiculous. The international players will soon become part of the June draft, or possibly a separate draft for international players. Some of these players could offer immediate help to the lesser teams and can help speed up rebuilding processes. Hopefully the Reds will strike while the iron is hot and they sit at the bottom of the standings. Do not wait for the system to be changed and then act.

  9. lwblogger2

    In other news, I thought I had read somewhere that J.J. Hoover lost his arbitration case against the Reds. According to MLBTradeRumors’ arbitration tracker, Hoover in fact won his case. In light of this, I think a comment I made on an earlier post about that may have been in error.

      • Ben

        I think they were like 200k apart anyway, not a lot of money

      • lwblogger2

        Which leads me to ask why the heck it went to a hearing anyway?

  10. james garrett

    You always trade a player when his value is highest and that usually is at the deadline.I don’t know what was offered for Bruce or Frazier or even Chapman but you can be sure it was more back in July then it was during this off season.We got a great bounty for Cueto who turned out to be just a rental but the Royals won it all and teams will give you more if they think they can win it all.TCT said it all in that we should have traded these guys but we didn’t.Our front office appears to always be a day late and a dollar short but I have hope for Williams once Walt hangs it up.Of course I don’t see that happening for another year or two.

  11. kmartin

    Despite our grade of D, I am fired up and chomping at the bit. I decided last night that Michael Lorenzen is going to replace Aroldis Chapman as my new favorite pitcher.

  12. Seadog

    The Sheldon piece reminded me of a few things…First, the Reds had a major league record number of games started by “rookies” in 2015. Remember…. Most teams would love to have a rotation of Cueto/Bailey/Leake/DeScalfani/Iglaises. That is what they went in to 2015 with. Would you take that in 2016? Second injuries. Cozart/Bailey/Mesoraco/. Who would have thought?

    The trades (and supposed signings). How can you give a grade when you are talking about “what if’s” The players from the Chapman/Frazier trades have not even hit the field for the Reds yet. Give it time…then grade the return…Look at his work (trades) players we have seen…Disco/Suarez/Lamb/Finnegan/Reed etc.. Don’t count out Perazza Rookie Davis until we see them. I think Walt has done a pretty good job.

    Do you really think they are going to sign Rodriguez this early? They are smarter than that. Obviously they have an agreement met and are just waiting to announce it until it will not effect the international $$,,

    Think about it people. Some very smart baseball moves.

    • TR

      Seadog: I like your comment. Grading and predictions are fine but they really don’t mean anything until we see how players perform. Spring training should reveal a lot. Looking forward to another season of baseball.

  13. Shchi Cossack

    WAKEUP NATION!!! Goodyear will be hopping today. We will soon be able to discuss actual results and performances rather than hashing around hypothetical perspectives. The sum is up over the Reds Land and the baseball season has descended upon us. Life is once again good.

  14. WVRedlegs

    Happy Baseballmas. Time for some green grass, blue skies and baseball.
    If the Reds beat writers wanted to solve the Alfredo Rodriguez mystery, they should do a little basic Detective 101 work. It shouldn’t be that hard. I think Shaggy and Scooby-Doo could get into the Mystery Machine and solve this one.
    Where is Rodriguez now? Call his agent, he has to have an agent.
    Where is he working out? Find out where he is working out. He isn’t sitting on the couch somewhere eating potato chips and watching Oprah. He’s working out somewhere. This will give a big clue at least. If he is at one of the Reds baseball acadamies in the Dominican, or wherever, I would think that would give some indication he is aligned with the Reds. If he is somewhere else working out, then maybe not. Dig a little deeper.

    • ohiojimw

      Fay just now on Twitter (@johnfayman) re: Rodriguez

      Jocketty says deal not completed; it has “broken down”.

      • WVRedlegs

        Thanks. I went to check it out. Jocketty also says they are in on a few of the new Cuban players. Didn’t say which ones though. Then I saw where Ken Rosenthal said that next Tuesday in Mexico City there will be a showcase for 3 more Cubans, OF Yadiel Hernandez 28, 1B/3B Luis Perez Tejeda 20, and SS Alejandro Rivera 20. Maybe the Reds go take a look at this SS instead.
        The Cubs don’t mind going over their allotment for 2015-16.
        “the Cubs face the max penalty of 100 percent tax of the overage and not being able to sign a player for two years for not more than $300,000.”
        “Based on the signings and figures that have been reported, the Cubs have committed $20,530,700, including taxes. The Cubs are currently $8,680,700 over their International bonus pool for the 2015-16 signing period and will have to pay $17,361,400 on July 15, 2016.” That is a hefty tax bill. And they are still in on several international players.

  15. ohiojimw

    From MLTR:
    Don’t be deceived by the link text. The really interesting part is in the body of the article.

    Pirates GM Neal Huntington says their org has a philosophy of constantly seeking to improve their OBP and would rather have 8 guys with high OBP in the lineup as opposed to 8 guys “that get on base rarely but 30 times a year drive a ball into the seats”,

    I guess the glass half full approach to that statement as a Reds fan is at least the Reds and Pirates won’t often be bidding up salaries against each other in pursuit of the same position players. 🙂

  16. Shchi Cossack

    From the 1st day of camp for pitchers and catchers as reported by Sheldon…

    “Everything went as planned in the offseason. We were able to do everything we wanted to do in January. At this point, no limitations,” Mesoraco said. “I think, medically, I’m 100 percent ready to go. I don’t think my hip should be a factor.”

    “There isn’t anything down here that I haven’t done. I don’t see any problems,” Mesoraco said. “The volume, I may get a little more tired. But to be honest, we were working four days a week, an hour-and-a-half of straight catching stuff.”

    Price said. “He impacts us offensively and defensively. It’s nice to have someone that you think will be out there five out of every six, six out of every seven days behind the plate and able to influence our pitching staff the way he did in 2014.

    Now we just need Mesoraco to attack the ball like he did during the4 2014 season. Catching 5 out of every 6 games puts Mesoraco behind the dish for 135 games. That’s more than enough games catching. 10 more games as a DH playing at American League parks puts Mesoraco at 145 games. That leaves 17 games as a high leverage pinch hitter. The Old Cossack would take that from Mesoraco (or any starting catcher) any season.

    • lwblogger2

      I like the optimism and it is indeed good news. Honestly though, even not coming off surgery, I would think 120-125 games behind the plate would be a reasonable number. Not a lot of catchers go much past there.

      • Shchi Cossack

        I’m with you 100% regarding the realistic expectation for games behind the dish, but Mesoraco’s bat needs to start 150 games and I want to see Mesoraco hitting behind Votto as many games as possible (150 games). Mesoraco needs a 2nd position to fill for 15-20 games and 1B doesn’t work since that removes Votto from the lineup.

        That brings up right back around to the discussion from last season…where to play Mesoraco when he’s not catching? LF remains a possibility, but Mesoraco would need some erious work in LF to get comfortable with his reads and routes. 1B could also be a possibility if Votto shifts to LF for those 15-20 games. If Mesoraco got sufficient practice, 3B might also be a possibility.

        It’s spring training and now is the time to experiment and get some reps in without the game pressure of the regular season. Since the 2016 season represents a probable lost season anyway, what better time to find out how to best get Mesoraco those plate appearances needed to accomodate his offensive contributions?

      • lwblogger2

        I’m not sure LF gives his legs enough of a break. I love the idea of DH-ing him when possible but that doesn’t get him to 150. I’d be curious to see how he’d do in LF. Maybe still give him day game after night game completely off but maybe a handful in LF as well? I’d at least like to see him get some time out there this spring with the caveat that he not get to acquainted with the wall. The wall is the single biggest danger for inexperienced outfielders. That and collisions with other fielders.

      • Shchi Cossack

        I kinda like the idea of Votto in LF and Mesoraco at 1B for a few games, at least from an investigational or discussion option. I think Votto would fair better in LF than Mesoraco. I would hate to lose Votto’s defense at 1B, but I think the offensive benefit of having Votto and Mesoraco back to back in the lineup outweighs the defensive impact. Of course Hamilton in CF would cover significant defensive shortcomings in LF for a few games. The Old Cossack must add that I haven’t gotten a buy-in from Votto yet for the arrangement.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        Although intriguing, I find it hard to imagine Votto going to LF for any reason. Would be nice to find a way to get Mesoraco a few more games minus the wear and tear of being behind the plate though.

  17. Shchi Cossack

    Bailey is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow (Friday). That will be the 3rd bullpen session for Bailey since his surgery. He threw 2 at home before reporting to camp. His scheduled return in May looks to be on schedule.

    Sheldon reported yesterday…

    There’s not a date yet for when Bailey might pitch in an exhibition game. But he [Bailey] vowed that he wouldn’t rush back and risk re-injuring himself.

    “After you’ve watched a bunch of games for a year straight, it’s, ‘I want to play.’ It’s kind of like the kid being in timeout,” Bailey said. “You’re sitting there, staring at the wall, and everyone else is playing. You want to go to recess.”

  18. Shchi Cossack

    Heading into spring training, the Reds only have 38 players on the 40-man roster: 20-pitchers, 4-catchers (Kyle Skipworth…really?), 7-infielders and 7 outfielders. That leaves room for a couple of nice additions from the waiver wire as spring training winds down and 40-man rosters must be trimmed.