The competition surrounding Reds’ rotation is generating most of the hubbub at camp, but with Homer Bailey and John Lamb unfit for the start of the season, a safe assumption can be made that in some order, Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Brandon Finnegan, and Jon Moscot will occupy the five starting spots to begin the 2016 campaign.

But what about the bullpen, a group that ranked 11th in strikeout rate, 12th in walk rate, and 13th in both hard-hit rate and in xFIP among the 15 National League clubs in 2015? (And those numbers came with Aroldis Chapman in the fold!)

Chapman, of course, is the glaring omission this spring; J.J. Hoover has already been tabbed by Bryan Price to replace the Missile in the ninth. But what about the other six to seven slots? Let us examine the arms who could be comprising Cincinnati’s bullpen.


J.J. Hoover

I remain unconvinced that Hoover will last the season in the closer’s role due to his increased walk rate and declining strikeout rates from last season. Hoover also owns a career xFIP (4.22) that is nearly a run higher than his career ERA (3.34). Still, the veteran right-hander threw his very-effective fastball harder than ever (93.4 mph) last season, and he remains a solid bullpen cog.

Jumbo Diaz

Diaz’s career strikeout rate (27 percent) is beyond sterling, but that searing, high-90s fastball of his also results in plenty of round-trippers for opponents, as Diaz’s home run-to-fly ball ratio leapt from 11.1 percent in 2014 to 16.4 percent in 2015. The burly right-hander was also far more effective against righties (1.99 xFIP) than lefties (4.74) in 2015, a trend that has become a career norm for the 32-year-old. Diaz did improve in some areas last year, though. As noted by his FanGraphs’ player page, Diaz ranked among the top 25 relievers in the MLB in swing-and-miss rate in 2015, and he also reduced his walk rate. If Hoover falters in the closer’s role, Diaz is likely the next man up.

Tony Cingrani

Cingrani, who battled through yet another injury (shoulder) last season, was given a minor dose of what Brandon Finnegan experienced with the Royals in 2015, as the 26-year-old was shuffled between starting and relieving roles in both the majors and the minors. In the big leagues last summer, Cingrani out-pitched his 5.60 ERA and his .329 BABIP, but the lefty’s 16.1 percent walk rate must plummet in order for Cingrani to regain the effectiveness he harbored during his first extended stint with the Reds in 2013.

In Prime Position

Keyvius Sampson

After posting a 4.97 xFIP in 12 starts with the Reds in 2015, Sampson has been moved to the bullpen for 2016. Doug Gray did a superb job of breaking down how well Sampson has fared as a starter and a reliever (in the majors and minors) the first time he goes through a lineup. As Doug explained, Sampson consistently struggled when facing hitters a second and third time. Thus, a move to the bullpen makes sense, and Price has already stated that he sees the right-hander as a possible long-relief option. Sampson, whose fastball has good sink/run to it, must bring his steep walk rate (10.4 percent) down, though bases on balls have been a career-long problem for Sampson since he began pitching professionally for the Padres in 2009.

Blake Wood

Reason No. 1 Wood is likely to make the Reds’ Opening Day bullpen? Money. Cincinnati inked the hard-throwing 30-year-old right-hander in November to a major league deal (terms not disclosed) and inserted him onto the 40-man roster. Steve dug deep into the Wood signing when it happened, so whet your in-depth scouting report appetite there. In short, Wood managed to slash his walk rate last season working with the noted pitching whisperers within the Pirates organization at Triple-A Indianapolis. Think of Wood as another Jumbo Diaz: a big guy (6-5, 240 pounds) with a powerful right arm who can struggle to find the strike zone, as indicated by his 11.4 percent walk rate in 127 career major league innings.

Caleb Cotham

An overlooked piece in the Aroldis Chapman trade, Cotham received his first shot (9.2 innings) in the majors in 2015 with the Yankees. Last season was Cotham’s third different stint in Triple-A, but his first go-around as a full-time reliever. The 28-year-old Cotham acquitted himself well to the switch, logging an FIP of 2.32 (1.74 ERA) complete with arresting strikeout (24.2 percent) and walk (4 percent) rates.

On The Fringe

Chris O’Grady

There’s a good chance O’Grady never pitches for the Reds organization in an official game. The 25-year-old southpaw with “average stuff” was selected in the December Rule 5 draft, and must be returned to the Angels if he does not spend the entirety of the 2016 season on the Reds’ 25-man roster. O’Grady, who has pitched just 8.2 innings at Triple-A, spent most of 2015 at Double-A and recorded an FIP of 3.38.

Ryan Mattheus

Picked up off waivers by the Reds last May, Mattheus didn’t exactly impress in his first season with Cincinnati, notching an xFIP of 4.05 with a very low strikeout rate (5.73). The 32-year-old righty returned to the organization on a minor league deal in January, and could have an inside track to a bullpen slot based on his relative familiarity with the organization.

Carlos Contreras

The right-hander has racked up 47.1 frames for the Reds over the past two seasons, but no matter the level he’s pitched at since beginning of his career in 2012, the 25-year-old has struggled with his control. It’s a good bet Contreras returns to Triple-A, where he struck out 55 and walked 30 in 39.2 innings last season.

Zack Weiss

The 23-year-old Weiss was spectacular at High-A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola in 2015:

Innings Strikeout Rate Walk Rate FIP
High-A 11.2 59.5% 2.7% -0.35
Double-A 52.0 33.5% 6.9% 2.75

Weiss’ sterling performance last summer has him in serious consideration for a bullpen job, and as Mark Sheldon notes, Weiss’ chances are boosted by the fact that the Reds are rebuilding. Even if he spends some time at Triple-A to start the season, Weiss and his his mid-90s fastball and nasty slider will reach the big leagues sooner rather than later.

Long Shots

Pedro Villarreal

Villarreal, 28, owns unremarkable stuff and unremarkable numbers, but he does have a soft spot in this writer’s heart for his willingness to clean up various inherited messes. That said, there are higher-upside arms that need to be receiving innings.

Jonathan Sanchez

Once a mainstay in the Giants rotation, Sanchez has bounced around over the last half-decade, and has not pitched in the majors since 2013. The 33-year-old lefty is technically competing for a rotation spot with the Reds, but could be moved into the bullpen mix before long. On top of his hiatus from the majors, Sanchez, who is not on the 40-man roster, will have to convince Price & Co. to lend him a roster spot in spite of his 12.5 percent career walk rate.

Projected Bullpen

Hoover, Diaz, Cingrani, Sampson, Wood, Cotham, Mattheus, Weiss

Price went with an 8-man bullpen for long stretches last season to combat the extreme youth in the rotation; the Reds won’t be much more experienced in 2016. Hoover, Diaz, and Cingrani are in barring injury or calamitous spring showings. The same could probably be said of Sampson, Wood, and Cotham. Mattheus making the team is a pure gut feeling, and I think Weiss will pitch himself into a spot over the next month.

In any case, the bullpen that leaves Goodyear will receive a few adjustments when Bailey (a lock to return to the rotation) and Lamb (seemingly destined for the rotation, but could end up in the bullpen) return from their respective injuries. Something to keep mind as the season wears on — especially after the Super Two cutoff passes sometimes in early June — is the possibility of the Reds’ top pitching prospects (Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, etc.) beginning their major league careers in the bullpen if there no slots to be had in the rotation.

68 Responses

  1. Steve Mancuso

    If Jonathan Sanchez has a few good innings at the start of spring training, watch out for Jason Marquis II.

    • vegastypo

      Marquis had no interest in being anything other than a starter. I wonder whether Sanchez is more amenable to the bullpen, if he doesn’t find his way into the rotation.

    • Hotto4Votto

      One of my biggest worries for the Spring.

    • Michael E

      I can stomach that this year, knowing we’re in a medium rebuild. I’d rather not see him on the roster at all, but this year it makes more sense than last year, when we expected to compete, but left gasoline cans on the mound next to pending fires.

  2. Yippee

    This is going to be a long season…

    • TR

      It’s a longer season for me from the end of the World Series to Opening Day.

  3. bew901

    What are the odds of Lorenzen, Finnegan, Mella, Travieso, Desclafani, Moscot, Lamb, Rookie Davis and/or Nick Howard winding up in the bullpen?

    Garrett, Stephenson, Iglesias, Reed and Bailey is the best post-rebuild rotation in my opinion. No way all of the above guys remain starters.

    Honestly I think the Reds need to commit this season to determining who will be starting in 2017 and 2018. By September, the roles should be set and the non-starters need to be told that they are going to the pen or traded for hitting.

    • ohiojimw

      I agree with the premise that the Reds appear to be very deep in potential at rotation pitching; and, a big part of 2016 should be figuring out who their truly top end guys are going to be.

      Some of the guys who fall by the wayside may well end up in the pen for the Reds. However, more importantly some members of that group are going to have to be effectively leveraged to bring a better quality of position talent into the Reds org via trades.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I’d say the odds are fairly decent for most of those listed. Either that or some will be traded to (hopefully) fill other needs. Although, not all of them may fit in the bullpen, with guys like Weiss, Stephen Johnson, and Cotham near ready and already suited/adjusted to the pen. Combined with incumbent relievers a log jam is bound to happen somewhere with all the pitching we’ve stockpiled.

      Finnegan, Lorenzen, and Howard all have experience closing. Howard, may not ever make it if he can’t find the strike zone. Mella seems destined for the pen as well. I could also see Moscot, Davis, and Lamb’s stuff playing up in the bullpen but I could also see them sticking as starters. Another guy, not mentioned, Romano would also be a candidate, good stuff and I seem to recall big ground ball rates.

      Out of the guys you mentioned for starting spot, Garrett faces the biggest challenge. This season will be his second year (2nd option used) and he will start off in AA ball, and has no experience there yet. AA is said to be the toughest jump in competition. If he spends this year at AA and 2017 at AAA he’d have to stick in the Majors by 2018. That may be a challenge.

      Travieso is a guy that I feel has a good shot to stick in the rotation. He may be the one that replaces Garrett in your scenario.

    • Michael E

      I don’t want them all in the bullpen. One or two that just don’t seem to have the stamina to start, fine. The rest, find them spots in the minors to start every 5 days or trade one or two for a promising young hitter or two…or higher upside 18 year old pitchers if need be.

    • Redsfan48

      Mark Sheldon got a tweet from a fan the other day mentioning an article that has DeSclafani pegged for the bullpen. He said any article putting DeSclafani in the bullpen isn’t credible, as he and Iglesias are locks for the rotation. With the most experience of all starters on the 40-man not named Bailey, there’s zero chance he moves to the pen. He will be a mainstay in this rotation for years.

  4. sultanofswaff

    Good take on things. I would also add that one of the bullpen spots might get taken by someone cut from another team due to a numbers crunch. Let’s hope that’s the case if only give us better options than Mattheus and Sampson.

    • preacherj

      Indeed. There is always movement during the spring, and with the volatility and fringe nature of bullpen arms I have a high expectation to see a couple names heading North(east) we havent included

    • lwblogger2

      That’s how the Reds ended up with Simon. A guy like that could be a good thing.

  5. WVRedlegs

    This is going to be one area that will be very intersting to see how it developes over spring training. The bullpen that starts the season out won’t be the bullpen that finishes the season.
    I agree that Hoover will have a hard time keeping the closer’s role all season. If the rotation is doing OK when Lamb returns he might go the the pen. The way he misses bats, I think he might end up being the closer by mid-season. Things won’t be great for the first half of the season, but the second half should be much better and the ascent begins.

  6. preacherj

    I look forward to seeing Weiss pitch. Other than that….

  7. mel reed

    Good article and call me an eternal optimist but I remain hopeful that Cingrani stays healthy and emerges as the closer. Such as it is on this team. But I think it is obvious that regardless of whoever sticks in the spring, guys are going be shuttling back and forth from Louisville all season like a revolving door.. Its going to be one of those kind of years. The unpleasant present reality is we just need to figure how many of these young guys have major league arms and not worry so much about results from them this year.

    • redmountain

      They all have major league arms, the question is which ones can find the strike zone without giving up home runs.

      • mel reed

        If you can’t find the strike zone without giving up homers how is that a major league quality pitcher ? Course I guess we could see what BP station Eric Milton is working at.

      • greenmtred

        Having a major league arm does not, by itself, make one a major league pitcher.

  8. ohiojimw

    I would not be surprised to see Villarreal stick as an innings eater long man out of the bullpen. He was actually reasonably effective in that role in the second half of the 2015 season. The Reds did not see his value as being worthy of a 40 man spot over the winter. However, since he is back on board, it makes some since to use him as the patron saint of lost causes versus burning service time (and innings) of more valuable arms in that role.

  9. Hotto4Votto

    One thing to keep in mind is options. I believe Contreras is out of options, so he’d have to stick on the club or be exposed to waivers. I think he’d pass through waivers, but still something to consider.

    I think it would be a tough year to go with an 8-man bullpen due to the guys on the position side that need to stick on the roster. It may be a better use of roster space to shuttle players who have options between Louisville and Cincinnati if the bullpen gets taxed. Of course, the Reds may also not need a 5th starter as much off the bat and that could come into play initially.

    I agree that Cingrani, Hoover, and Diaz are likely locks to make the pen. Wood is probably about as safe a bet as there is beyond that considering the Reds signed him to a MLB contract. I think the Reds would be well served to have a 2nd LH in the pen beyond Cingrani. O’Grady’s splits, from what I read, don’t scream LOOGY, but I think the Reds will give him a shot unless he shows in ST he’s not ready for the challenge. I think long relief will come down to Sampson and Villarreal. I thought Villarreal did an adequate job last year, and will be rooting for him. It will certainly be interesting to see how Cotham, Weiss, etc do and if anyone can separate themselves.

    Good post, and interesting discussion.

  10. Patrick Jeter

    Good stuff, Grant. I’m glad you are skeptical of Hoover. I’ve always thought he wasn’t anything special, and this year ZiPS (0.0 WAR) and Steamer (-0.1 WAR) agree.

    This year I’m going to be watching Cingrani, Sampson, and Weiss (hopefully) very closely. Of all these guys, I think these 3 could be the core of the next successful Reds bullpen in 2018 or so, assuming Sampson turns into a reliever, exclusively.

    • JB WV

      The thought of Hoover closing makes me dizzy. I have no faith in him at all. It’s going to be frustrating, playing a solid game to get to the 9th with the lead, and then lose it. Cingrani has the stuff and the demeanor to be a closer. He could thrive in that role.

      • Patrick Jeter

        If he stays healthy I think he’ll get a shot this year. Unless Hoover dazzles. I won’t hold my breath.

      • greenmtred

        I’m less enthralled with Cingrani than many people seem to be. His fastball is mostly hitting speed, and hitters don’t seem as confused by his ability to hide the ball as they were when he first came up. I think that, in a different universe (one in which he developed good secondary pitches and better command) he’d be a better starter.

    • lwblogger2

      Hoover is an odd case. He tends to out-perform his peripherals aside from 2014. Is it luck or is he just going to be one of those oddballs for most his career?

      • Patrick Jeter

        Pretty much 100% luck. His career BABIP against is .238, which is over 223 IP. So, basically one lucky season if he were a starting pitcher. It happens sometimes.

        That BABIP against is the 3rd lowest in the last 40 yrs, min 220 IP. If you raise the threshold to something more significant, say 1000 IPs, there are only 4 guys in the last 40 years under .270. and only 29 guys under .285.

        Also, with the exception of 2014, he’s been very lucky on fly balls turning into homers, and with the exception of 2014, he’s been very lucky stranding runners.

        All in all, he’s a guy who has certainly outperformed his peripherals, but with only 223 IPs, there’s no reason to think he has that particular ability. Not yet. Cueto proved to be that guy over a lot of IP. Maybe Hoover is too, but I doubt it.

        Just my $0.02.

      • lwblogger2

        Yes, there is certainly a difference between a SP and RP out-performing or under-performing their peripherals over a few seasons. It goes back to, like you talked about, sample size. I tend to think you’re right but I also look at his stuff and that he has done it over multiple years. Now even having said that, I have never seen Hoover as a back of the bullpen guy, stopper, or fireman. He just walks too many guys in my opinion.

        The luck will either run out and he’ll have another dreadful year like 2014 or he’ll chug away on one more pretty good season and he’ll be solid if unspectacular RP.

  11. dan

    Hoover and Sanchez get their roles accordingly to ensure that the Reds have the worst team in baseball. The Reds are going to give new definition to tanking and to be quite honest I hope that they change the rules because of this. If you are not going to compete then you should not have a franchise. Plain and simple. Reds owner should be fined and forced to sell the team to someone who is willing to participate.

    • Patrick Jeter

      Do you suggest Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, and Milwaukee all forfeit their franchises, as well? And, if we’re being honest, every franchise except the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox?

      You have to have a lot of cash flow to keep a team relevant every single season. Also, free agents have to WANT to come to your city. Sometimes being the highest bidder doesn’t always get your guy. The Reds have been contenders for half-a-decade now… a few years to rebuild isn’t the end of the world.

      Also, you should check out “tanking” in NBA terms. The Reds are not tanking. Any response to the contrary has to be emotional.

      • jessecuster44

        When was the last time any Free Agent worth a darn wanted to come to Cincy? John Smiley?

      • jessecuster44

        Reds are tanking. Sanchez definitely in the pen.

      • Patrick Jeter

        If the Reds were tanking Votto, Bruce, Phillips, and Bailey would no longer be on the roster. Seriously. Look at what the Astros did. Their entire payroll 3 years ago was like $24 million or something. They got rid of EVERYONE that costed money. That is tanking. The Reds are rebuilding… a “hopefully” short-term (2-3 seasons) transition period where you move some veterans and concentrate on developing young talent to take their spots in order to open a new window of competitiveness.

      • greenmtred

        Patrick is correct, but I do share Jesse’s angst. It’s stressful to be continuously enraged by your favorite team.

      • jessecuster44

        trying to get rid of Bruce, BP. Can’t trade Bailey until he gets healthy. Votto’s contract a big obstacle to trade. Reds would love to follow Cubs’ model, I bet.

        That said. A ST win always makes things look more encouraging.

    • ohiojimw

      The NBA and NHL have long since adopted draft lottery measures to rein in tanking. MLB seems late to the party in having teams employing tanking as a development strategy. I’d look for MLB to follow the lead of the other sports in short order once there is a critical mass information indicating tanking is in vogue.

      Personally in the best of all worlds, I’d like to see a salary cap with an even more aggressive salary floor tied to revenue sharing of a lion’s share of the combined pool of locally generated TV money.

      As part of the arrangement, borrow (and modify) a concept from international football (aka soccer) by introducing “financial relegation” of the bottom 3 teams in each league every season by steeply reducing their cut of TV revenue sharing for the next season while requiring them to maintain the salary floor.

      There would be little or no incentive for tanking in such an environment.

      • lwblogger2

        That would be a great situation, almost utopia. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that though.

      • ohiojimw

        I think the financial relegation concept is probably beyond pie in the sky.

        I’m not so sure they won’t come around to some system of a salary cap and floor though. The players’ share of total revenue has been steadily falling for a number of years. They just might accept a cap if it came with a player favorable floor.

        It’s the same concept with serious sharing of the locally generated TV money except that is owners versus owners. The small and midmarket owners are getting less and less of a percent of total revenue because they cannot keep up on the local TV money. If MLB is to stay competitively healthy over the long haul, that situation has to be addressed.

    • Chuck Schick

      The Cubs are projected to be the best team in baseball and are set up to excel for the next 5 years. They have none of the financial constraints the Reds have and their ” tanking” was far more extreme.

      Your proposal would ensure that no small market team would be able to build a consistent winner.

  12. Daytonian

    Sorry. But Mattheus is not on the roster but only has a minor league contract. He won’t stick with the club. He goes to AAA and gets promoted only if the bullpen becomes depleted. The Reds will not waste a roster spot for him.

    Sanchez is a different story. Despite the repeated Marquis-redux-fears expressed by visitors to and writers on this site, Sanchez will pitch in Spring as a starter and will either earn or lose a spot in the rotation. He either clearly beats out the young arms and earns a roster spot, or he does not. Whatever the doubts expressed on this site (especially regarding Sanchez’s control problems), Sanchez at least represents some potential and is categorically different from Marquis who was signed at an advanced age and who showed no velocity at all.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I’m not a proponent of Mattheus being on the team, but I will add a few things. When Blake Wood was signed, I pointed out and provided several sets of numbers that Mattheus career MLB numbers were very comparable to Wood’s (in fact I believe Mattheus was slightly better in some aspects). Essentially they were about the same pitcher based off their numbers. I think it’s amusing that Mattheus is seen in a generally negative light and the majority of people didn’t bat an eye when Wood was signed.

      The second thing I will point out is that roster spots (assuming you meant 40-man based on being on a minor league deal) really aren’t much of a concern this year. As it stands there are only 39 spots filled, Juan Duran will be suspended for 80 games opening up another spot (at least temporarily), and if Contreras doesn’t head north he will lose his roster spot. Then there are both Rule V guys, Kyle Skipworth (4th C) that could be removed before we even get to guys that are borderline roster guys.

      As far as Sanchez goes, ST is not the time to win or lose a spot. At least not based on numbers. That’s how Gregg, Dominguez, Boesch, and Marquis got on the squad last year. ST numbers is fool’s gold the vast majority of the time. The player’s career results and the coaching staff’s evaluations should be the basis for making the team. Sanchez and Marquis are actually pretty similar. Marquis was 36 and Sanchez 33 (both on the wrong side of the aging curve) Marquis had been out of baseball since 2013, same as Sanchez (who has actually been out a year longer), and neither had posted an above average season in the few seasons previous to being out of baseball. Sanchez’s last above average season (actually his only above average season according to ERA+) was in 2010. Marquis, who posted 5 above average seasons according to ERA+, last posted an above average season in 2009. So it had been exactly 5 years (since signing with Reds) since either had posted an above average season. And the control issues are legit. Do you see why some people express concern over this, especially at the cost of development time of actual prospects?

    • RFM

      Tim Melville is a more likely candidate for rotation (or bullpen) walk-on than Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez is one of the most unlikely guys to make the team of those invited to camp.

  13. WVRedlegs

    Matheus was a bit of a trainwreck around the first bag on a handful of occasions last season. For whatever reason, he and Votto didn’t get on the same page on covering first base. He is going to get himself injured or Votto injured with the way he covers the bag.
    The risk is there and that is one I hope the Reds don’t take exposing Votto to that risk.

  14. KetteringRedsFan

    Before going further, there is one other tier of analysis I’d like to see:

    Rank order all pitchers (except Bailey, DeSclafani, Iglesias), based on current stats and no spring training data, for potential trade value. Any metric as long as it is consistent.

    Yes, you really cannot have too many arms, but we do have a large stockpile and some pressing needs elsewhere on the field. Even with a cushion for injuries and development, -someone- (or two) is going to have a blocked career path that would make them saleable even with (or perhaps, -especially- with) halfway decent numbers in spring or first half or season.

  15. WVRedlegs

    It’s only spring training, but tomorrow’s 1st ST lineup.
    Cave CF, Suarez 3B, Votto 1B, BP 2B, Bruce RF, Duvall LF, YorRod DH, DeJesus SS, Barnhart C, Moscot P.
    Have to start out at someplace.

    • Patrick Jeter

      Interesting. Given the fact that BP has no power and Suarez has shown some, I really hope BP isn’t the de facto clean-up hitter this year. BP 2nd, followed by Votto, Bruce, Suarez makes a lot more sense to this fellow.

      Perhaps another nod to the outdated notion of needing a righty to break up two lefties.

      • Patrick Jeter

        Even though we all know lineup construction doesn’t matter a ton, I just decided I’m going to do a post on lineup construction. Boo yeah!

      • ohiojimw

        I’ll be interested in this post.

        It just seems to me that if a team has a guy like Votto and puts their two other highest OBP guys in front of him (2nd highest immediately before the Votto type) and then puts the best remaining OPS guy immediately behind Votto, that no matter how the outs fall during a game and within an inning this progression should to be the most efficient over time.

      • WVRedlegs

        I too will be interested in this. I wonder if you can use lineup construction to help Jay Bruce defeat “the shift” in 2016? I know the best way to defeat the shift is to get guys on base. Pretty difficult to use the shift with runners on. Therein lies the question, would you bat Jay Bruce 4th behind Votto to help him beat the shift instead of his customary 5th? And as O-Jim says, get two high OBP batters in front of Votto.

      • reaganspad

        I agree WV, the best way to beat the shift is runners on base if the hitter does not adjust.

        We got crushed last year when we shifted as the “shiftee” would simply poke it to LF. I think that Bruce was starting to do that last year. He does not hit with authority to LF, but he sure does to CF. And if those pokes to LF mean that his power is expanded from CF to RF, so much the better.

        And if he ever learns that little Votto trick about how to drive the ball to LF for the fences, he will be a beast.

        Bruce has his stroke down to hit into the shift. I hope that he spends the first 2 weeks hitting to LF only

      • Michael E

        The best way to defeat the shift is to become a professional hitter. The shift happens when you fail to be professional. A two year old can learn to pull everything down the line (and make outs 90% of the time). It takes a real hitter to learn to hit outside pitches to opposite field, rather than pulling weak grounders and pop flies to first base or striking out.

        Word has it Bruce is working with Larkin and one of the drills is hitting the ball on a tee to opposite field. WOW. What a concept, hitting it the ball where it wants to be hit on a line instead of hitting it where it doesn’t want to be hit on the dribble or a soft butter-fly ball.

      • Michael E

        Funny thing, Bruce hit to opposite field as a young MLBer. I recall quite a few LCF HRs in those first couple of seasons. I can’t remember more than two the past two years.

      • Patrick Jeter

        From 2008 to 2015, the league average Oppo% has been between 24.8% and 26.3% each year. Bruce’s career Oppo% is 22.8%. So, its not like the guy hasn’t gone the other way…

      • lwblogger2

        Just ST but yeah, I am thinking that same thing. Makes me nod my head.

  16. Michael E

    I know this is way off-topic, but did they or didn’t they sign Alfredo Rodriguez from Cuba? I hope not, but all I can find is mid January articles stating a deal wasn’t done yet from Jocketty and Williams, and then a slew of “reported” and “signed” articles around that same time.

    Then I see comments in recent RLN articles that seem to indicate they never signed him (which would be GREAT since they wouldn’t be locked out of the next two signing periods and limited to $300k bonus offers for non-pool players).

    • ohiojimw

      The latest I have seen from the Reds is that Jocketty said last week he wasn’t signed and that negotiations have broken down (or some such phrase). Sorry, I don’t have a link at my fingertips.

      There is a lot of undercurrent whispering going on that the two sides have a wink and nod deal that will get officially signed when the new period starts in July or thereabouts.

  17. David

    I think Homer will likely be in the bullpen for at least a month after his return from TJ surgery. As Homer and John Lamb go back into the starting rotation, I could see Lorenzen and Finnegan going into the bullpen (unless they are standing the league on its ear). I see at least one very marginal pitcher being on the Opening Day roster (and people will be aghast!!) in the bullpen, because he will be jettisoned when Lamb/Bailey become active.
    Or they keep Weiss as an experiment, and send him to AAA when Lamb/Bailey become active.

  18. jessecuster44

    Help! Any way to tell Sampson and Mattheus apart? I can’t remember which one is the terrible fielder who can’t cover first base.

  19. WVRedlegs

    Any chance the Reds swoop in and sign OF Austin Jackson to a one year deal in the $6-7M range? Sort of like Texas and Desmond. He can play LF. He could be insurance on BHam in CF and at the leadoff position. He has a career .276/.324 line from the leadoff spot. He could bat second when playing LF. He’s got a little power but not exactly what you want from a corner OF. He’s not that much older than Bruce. Guys like him are itching to get to camp and he could be a good deal, and then be a good flip in late July. Schebler gets more time at AAA. I think they have to get some kind of backup plan on BHam for several reasons. He’s coming off shoulder surgery, he still isn’t back 100%, and his history tells us he isn’t the optimum choice for leadoff. Even though Price thinks so now. Upper management should at least give Price an alternative to BHam at leadoff other than BP.

  20. jessecuster44

    Upper management should have given Price lots of things…

    I don’t see any FA signings unless there are significant injuries. I imagine $6-7MM is too much money.

  21. Chad Dotson

    Good stuff, Grant. Well, this post is good. The Reds bullpen…maybe not.

    • Grant Freking

      All they need is Scott Williamson.

  22. Steve Young

    Lineup not as bad as advertised, DeSclafani, Bailey (when he returns), Iglesias, Moscot, Finnegan…. Lorenzen looked like a deer in the headlights last year. Bullpen will lead league in Blown Saves, if the Reds have leads in many games… Area most in need of improvement. Jocketty/Williams sold low in Frazier/Chapman trades…