The Reds go on the road to play the Oakland A’s today at 4:05 p.m. The broadcast is available on WLW-700 radio. Here is the lineup:

  1. Billy Hamilton DH
  2. Jose Peraza SS
  3. Eugenio Suarez 3B
  4. Brandon Phillips 2B
  5. Brandon Allen 1B
  6. Adam Duvall RF
  7. Jake Cave LF
  8. Ramon Cabrera C
  9. Tyler Holt CF

Raisel Iglesias makes his second start of spring training.

Lineup Thoughts

Billy Hamilton back in the lead-off spot, looking for more plate appearances (see below).

Kind of surprised I haven’t typed Nick Cave yet. Have to fight the instinct every time.

Jose Peraza at short and Eugenio Suarez at third may be an early look at the long-term plans for the left side of the Reds infield. Does Suarez’s bat play at 3B? Last season, the wRC+ for National League third basemen was 103 and 82 for shortstops. Suarez posted a wRC+ of 105. Third base is also a new defensive position for him.

It’s looking more and more like our starting rotation come Opening Day will be: Anthony DeSclafani, Jonathan Moscot, Alfredo Simon, Brandon Finnegan and Raisel Iglesias.

Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer

Anthony DeSclafani / Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer

News and Reading

 Zach Buchanan (Cincinnati Enquirer) points out that the bullpen is nowhere near as settled as the starters. Bryan Price just told the beat writers that as of now, J.J. Hoover would be the closer:

After Hoover, Tony Cingrani and Jumbo Diaz, it’s anyone’s guess:

The list of candidates after that is long. Righty Dayan Diaz has a long history of success in the minor leagues and has a 1.59 ERA this spring. On Friday, Price had praise for Caleb Cotham, part of the package acquired from the New York Yankees for Aroldis Chapman.

Pitchers like Pedro Villarreal, Drew Hayes, A.J. Morris, Layne Somsen and Rule 5 pick Chris O’Grady have all had good outings in spring training games. Right-hander Keyvius Sampson, who recently returned from a bout of elbow soreness, would seem to have the inside track on winning the long reliever role.

Reminder: Grank Freking projecting the bullpen. My thoughts from last summer about J.J. Hoover as the next closer.

Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/Enquirer

Tony Cingrani / Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/Enquirer

Mark Sheldon (MLB.com) talked to Billy Hamilton after his first start in center field. Hamilton says his main concern this spring is getting enough at bats. He points out that he can always bat in a few minor league games (during spring training).

Hamilton, who has been working on his shoulder with the training and strength staff all spring, felt he would also have enough time to be ready for Opening Day.

“There’s always room to go down and get more at-bats,” Hamilton said. “That’s all that I’m really worried about right now, just getting more at-bats. I can go to the Minor Leagues and get a few hits and here get a few at-bats. Making sure my arm is healthy is the main thing. I look forward to the next couple of weeks.”

Hamilton has two hits in ten plate appearances. No walks yet. You often hear the Reds front office and coaching staff talk about Hamilton needing to raise his on-base percentage. They’re right as can be about that. But it’s always in the context of more bunting or more ground balls. NOT ONCE have I heard a Reds decision-maker say that Hamilton needed to work on his plate discipline to increase his walk-rate. Hamilton’s BB% last year was 6.2 percent. League average is 7.7 percent.

Reminder: Nick Carrington last summer on Billy Hamilton’s hitting woes.

billy-hamilton-fe

And you think the Reds medical staff is iffy … Yesterday reports emerged that Bronson Arroyo doesn’t have a torn labrum as first reported, or torn rotator cuff, as second reported. Those injuries would have presented a significant threat to the pitcher’s career. Now, another doctor says Arroyo just has an inflamed bursa sac, which calls for 7-10 days of rest and no surgery. Blame was cast on a misread MRI. Great news, right? But hold on. The Washington Nationals issued a report later saying it still wasn’t clear to them what the nature of Arroyo’s injury is. So we’ll have to wait and see.

Not specifically Reds-related, but yeah. The cursed life of a Cincinnati sports fan. (Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News)

October 2012: Eight pitches into the opening game of the National League Division Series, Reds ace Johnny Cueto walked off the mound in apparent pain and was visited by his trainer and manager. He did not pitch again that season, and the Reds lost the series in five games to eventual World Series champ San Francisco.

 From the category of Meaningless Statistics dipped in a Meaningless Sample Size: The Reds spring training leaders in RBI are: Scott Schebler (6), Eugenio Suarez (7), Jay Bruce (8) and Adam Duvall (9).

 

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 36 Comments

  1. Opening rotation? You have 4 of the 5 for sure. But Moscot may not make it, especially if his weak ST showings continue. As the Number 5 starter is not regularly needed in the early portion of the regular season, I can see that role going by default to Sampson (if his arm is okay!), with Moscot being dropped from the rotation. When others on the pitching staff return and are in good health, Sampson goes back to long man in the bullpen.

  2. Why is there talk of possible rookies Hayes, dayne Diaz or somen for the bullpen. Doesn’t the service time apply for delivers too ? I’d stash these rookies in Louisville. Bring them a couple weeks later if are deserving.

    • Not all “rookies” are created equal. Hayes is 29, Dayan Diaz 27, Somsen 26, not early 20’s like Stephenson and Reed et al. Thus they aren’t really prospects any more. By the end of 6 years team control, should they be around that long, they’d likely be past their primes anyway.

  3. Iggy goes 2 innings; allows 2 unearned runs on 2BB’s and 1 hit, Also had 1K,

    From play by play transcript, following a lead off BB, Peraza misplayed a throw looking to force the runner at 2B. That runner ended up at 3B with the batter reaching 1B. Man from 3B scored on a following ground out which also advanced the runner from 1B to 2B where he later scored from on a following single.

  4. Anthony DeSclafani, Jonathan Moscot, Alfredo Simon, Brandon Finnegan and Raisel Iglesias.
    Is this a typo??? Is there some inside joke I don’t get???

    • Nevermind, I missed this signing, guess Steve Paris and Paul Wilson were not available

      • You’re right, they’re not available, it’s card night at Elmer Dessens house and Jimmy Haynes is bringing the chex mix.

  5. Steve, why does everyone suggest BH hit ground balls when line drives lead the parade when base hits are tallied. If baseball didn’t have infielders, ground balls would sense. I always encouraged my sons and grand-children to think line drive when at bat in youth leagues which resulted in many base hits. Am I missing something?

    • Not Steve, but maybe I can help. I don’t think anyone would suggest Hamilton to ground balls instead of line drives. Line drives are preferable. Unfortunately Hamilton makes some of the weakest contact in baseball, so the line drives may just not be a big part of his game. What Hamilton does is hit too many fly balls and pop ups. Ground balls go for hits more than fly balls, in general. The thinking is, with Hamilton’s elite speed, his ground balls should go for hits more often than the average. The more ground balls he hits, the better chance he has of standing at 1B compared to when he hits the ball in the air. It’s the Willie Hayes Mays rule.

    • Line drives being preferable to fly balls for Hamilton.

      • Steve: I agree entirely that BH should focus on walking more. I expect that nearly everybody agrees, in fact. But this does raise a question: do pitchers have so little fear of him that they won’t walk him? I expect that somebody here can tell us if he gets more pitches in the strike zone than average, but it makes intuitive sense: they fear him when he’s on base, and he is not a good hitter, so pound the zone.

        • All of this Greenmtred…He needs to hit better. The “needs to walk more” argument is just silly. Of course he does. But that will come when he starts hitting better. Pitchers that walk Billy are just stupid. Throw him strikes and take your chances.

        • He does see more pitches in the strikezone than average when you look at it in the context of the percentage of total pitches he sees. That said, it wasn’t much higher than league average. This suggests that he probably should have a little higher walk rate.

  6. What are the chances Schebler, Duvall, AND Cave all make the Opening Day roster? Duvall has some experience on the infield corners as well as the outfield and would be a nice power bat off the bench, Cave could be a late defensive replacement/pinch runner type guy, and Schebler could be the true LF starter but still in a platoon.

    Of course, if they trade Bruce in the next 2 weeks, it’s a no brainer, but I think even with Bruce and BH on the roster, there’s a case to be made for carrying all 3 of these guys.

    I’m thinking the Opening Day (positional) roster will be:

    C Mesoraco
    1B Votto
    2B Phillips
    SS Cozart
    3B Suarez
    LF Schebler
    CF B. Hamilton
    RF Bruce
    C Barnhart
    UTIL De Jesus
    UTIL Duvall
    UTIL Peraza
    OF Cave

    • I think there’s a real good chance. Although, I think Peraza gets sent down until he has a place to play every day. They’ll keep Rodriguez as well rather than let him go through waivers. Too much upside to let go for nothing.

  7. Roles…. How well has the Reds’ bullpen worked with defined roles the past two seasons? Maybe ditch the roles and expect each pitcher to pitch well no matter the situation. Ugh.

    • Love what Craig Councell said last week. It was something along the lines of there being no such position as opening day closer.

  8. Don’t count out Cody Reed just yet for the rotation. If Moscot doesn’t get it together soon, Reed will be in the rotation come opening day.
    If they don’t pick up one bullpen arm will from impending roster cuts from other teams and go with what they have, the bullpen could be Hoover, Cingrani, J Diaz, D Diaz, Cotham, Moscot, and Sampson. That could be interesting in the fact the Reds would have to send O’Grady back to LAA and Blake Wood on a ML contract would go to Louisville to work out the kinks.

  9. Also remember that the 5th starter will allegedly only be needed twice before May 1, when Homer is to rejoin the team. I say that allegedly, if the 5th starter is weak, there is no need for him except on two dates in April. Price may decide to keep the 5 man rotation rotating despite the off-days.
    Lorenzen and Lamb will probably be back sometime in May, so this initial roster will of course change over time.
    I do see O’Grady making the team, because he is a left hander in the bullpen, and the only other potential one lefty besides Cingrani.

  10. Does Hamilton have a low walk rate because he swings at bad pitches…..or is he such a weak hitter that pitchers needn’t throw anything to him but strikes?

    • Some of both would be my undocumented answer. If he could even learn to spoil pitches a fraction as well as Votto…..

      • Pitch recognition is, I believe, the major problem with both the lack of walks and the low BA. It’s not going to change. There is no magic that is going to make Billy Hamilton into a much better hitter. He’s a very good flycatcher in CF, and a great base runner, but his hitting skills will, IMHO actually get worse, as every ML pitcher has a scouting report and will go immediately to his weaknesses as a hitter, which are several. He chases high fastballs, low and away breaking balls, down and in sliders.

  11. I have also called him Nick instead of Jake Cave. But “Red Right Hand” would be an awesome walk up song. There is a really good TV show called Peaky Blinders that uses some of Cave’s music, including Red Right Hand. It’s British WW1 vets turned gangsters in 1920’s England. You should check it out. It’s on Netflix.

    Now, a disagreement. RBI is not a meaningless statistic. It is a statistic with no predictive value. It is a statistic that should be taken in context, as there are many other factors besides a player’s skill that affect his RBI total. But that does not make it meaningless.I’ve never understood why the analytic community gets so bent out of shape over RBI. Yes, it’s frustrating hearing someone like Marty use RBI out of context to evaluate players. But hating on a counting stat that is nothing more than a total of how many times something happened is just weird, frankly.

    • Jake Cave (Nick Cave) walk-up music? Anything but “The Weeping Song.”

      Cave is a keeper, a prospect. Holt (with options) starts the season in the minors.

      @David: You are correct! If the 5th starter will only pitch a few games (as the scheduled days-off allow the Reds to rely largely on a 4-person rotation for a while, should the manager choose to do so), then Sampson can fill that role–if he is stretched out and healthy.

    • meaningless … to predict anything …

      Seems like we’re in agreement here.

      • Just because a stat describes the past instead of predicting a possible future doesn’t make it meaningless. Judging a player based solely on home runs would be just as silly as judging them based on RBI. Home run totals are not solely a function of a player’s skill as other factors such as the ballpark and luck/randomness come into play. Does that make home runs a meaningless statistic?

        In my mind RBI have much more meaning than pitcher wins or saves because of all the silly rules and qualifications for those 2 stats. RBI is pretty straightforward and I’ve always thought that it was a fun stat. Using RBI solely to evaluate a player is a bad idea, but I think it’s fun to watch a guy accumulate them over the course of a season. It’s time to end the hate on RBI and appreciate it for what it is rather than criticize for what it isn’t.

        • Heck yeah!!! I’m with you on starting the bringing back the RBI-Love bandwagon.

      • Steve: I agree entirely that BH should focus on walking more. I expect that nearly everybody agrees, in fact. But this does raise a question: do pitchers have so little fear of him that they won’t walk him? I expect that somebody here can tell us if he gets more pitches in the strike zone than average, but it makes intuitive sense: they fear him when he’s on base, and he is not a good hitter, so pound the zone.

        • I don’t know how that happened…

        • Definitely both factors at play. Pitchers don’t fear him so they don’t pitch around him. He sees more strikes (about 4%) more than the average hitter.

          Thing is, if speed is your entire game, you really need to work on getting on base – all aspects of it.

    • And yet, many of the same players are among the league leaders in RBI year after year. Predicting that Babe Ruth would be in the top ten was about as safe as any other prediction in a sport where most, if not all, outcomes involve more than one player. RBI is obviously not very important as a stat (Votto would drive in lots of runs if there were men on base ahead of him), but if it were truly meaningless, the year-to-year leaders would be a random collection.

      • It’s meaningless in the sense that it substantially depends on other players and where someone hits in the order in relation to those players. Good hitters with power generally bat behind other players who get on base. They are assigned that role year after year. But there are more direct and far more accurate ways of measuring good hitters.

        • I agree with you entirely, but I do think that few stats are completely independent (strikeouts for a pitcher require the input of the batter and the home plate ump, for example). And in an exercise of reasoning so backward as to be baroque, driving in lots of runs year after year is evidence of good hitting because a bad hitter wouldn’t be in a position to do it and (less baroquely) a bad hitter wouldn’t do something good with his at-bats often enough. Still, you’re right that rbi is a poor way to judge a player.

  12. As reported by Sheldon…

    “I think it’s [platoon] a way to get two young players to play regularly enough to keep their swings comfortable,” Price said on Saturday. “It’s like anything, if you get somebody who simply out-performs and warrants an everyday status on the club … but we’ve got two relative unknowns at the big league level. I just wouldn’t feel nearly as comfortable having a young guy getting three or four at-bats a week and thinking he’s going to develop and produce. If we’re going to do that with two young, yet-to-be-established players, they’re going to have split time.”

    So Price has had an epiphany? He ‘wouldn’t feel nearly as comfortable having a young guy getting three or four at-bats a week and thinking he’s going to develop and produce’? That represents a completely new philosophy for Price. More words, but actually doing what he says he should do is another thing entirely.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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