2016 Reds

Unknown Unknowns, Part 2

Last week, I took a look at what we really knew for sure about the Reds young hitters. Today, I’m going to turn the lens of sample size to pitchers and see what we see.

Pitchers, as you probably know, are much harder to predict. If you want to know why, I know of no better way to explain than to tell that it takes 2,000 batters faced before a pitcher’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) stabilizes. That’s about 2 1/2 years of injury-free pitching if your looking at a starter. So, on one level, we must acknowledge that we don’t know everything about any of the young guys yet. Even DeSclafani only has 1104 batters faced in his career so far.

Anyway, onward.

Let’s start with Disco since he has a fair bit of experience. You can feel good about both his K-rate and BB-rate as he’s faced enough batters this year for those to both be stabilized. His HR rate is probably around his career-rate as well. If you really want to be encouraged, realize that his BABIP is a bit high and, since he hasn’t faced enough batters for it to stabilize, we should expect it to come down some over the next year or so. Disco, that is, seems to be for real.

Dan Straily has been ERA lucky this year and the samples on his peripherals (except for BABIP) are all big enough to tell you that he shouldn’t be counted on as an ongoing part of the rotation.

Brandon Finnegan is next up and we should maybe be a little discouraged. His K and BB-rates are both heading int he wrong direction this year. He is, however, only 23 and we should expect further adjustments to be made.

And that’s it.

It feels silly to write such a short article, but among pitchers who have a shot at being part of the future these are the only ones who have enough innings for us to say anything at all useful. Pitchers are weird and you almost never know what you’re going to get.

24 thoughts on “Unknown Unknowns, Part 2

  1. I think the shortness of the article was a stark visual reminder of just how little we know about our pitchers.

    We like to think the Reds will have a good rotation in about 2-3 years, but until that time comes, we won’t know.

    • Like the classic Philosophy essay final exam question: what do we know is true? And an A+ goes to any student who turns in a blank sheet of paper (nothing)?

  2. All I’m going to say here is what I’ve always said and known and that’s that rebuilds are unpredictable as the young players they’re built around. So no one, not even Jocketty, can say for sure that we’ll be winning again in the 3 yrs he had originally predicted at the start of this “reboot” (I hate this word now bcuz it’s a lie). It is and always will be a gamble. Yes, the players we got supposedly have high ceilings but this article itself said that with pitchers you never truly know what you’ve got. Same could be said for young hitters, really bcuz, you know…they’re young! That could be on the good side or the bad bcuz not all plyrs reach their high ceilings. The question I would like to hear the answer to is this though: IF, these kids don’t bring us a WS title, will the rebuild have been worth it to you or even necessary? Because that’s the ultimate goal right, a WS title or two? You don’t do a rebuild if you ain’t trying to win a championship. I’m pretty sure what most of you will probably say, but I’m curious is all. I’m not coming from a place of negativity on this, ok, I’m genuinely curious. So, think about your answers by taking 2 things into consideration 1)If this group doesn’t bring winning baseball back to Cincinnati (which even I’m sure that they will, believe it or not, but I digress..) or 2)This group makes the playoffs, but doesn’t win the WS (like the previous version).

    • I don’t know if it takes winning a WS title or two in order to say it was worth it. That certainly should be the goal but only one team wins the WS each year. The Buffalo Bills made it to the Super Bowl four consecutive years. They never won it so does that make them a bunch of pathetic losers and Marv Levy a terrible coach? I’m biased since I was originally from upstate NY but I would say it doesn’t, even though they never actually won a Super Bowl. I do hope that the Reds are consistently in the hunt for a WS title multiple years in a row. If they are, and it is due to a number of these young players (Peraza, Winker, Garrett, Stephenson, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Disco, Finnegan, etc.), then I would say it was worth it and I would guess that even without that, it was probably necessary for reasons we don’t really like to acknowledge, e.g., $$$ to sign players rather than let them become free agents.

      • I agree with you here. Look at those Braves teams that were so dominant. They went to the postseason 14 of 15 years and managed to win 1 World Series. Does this mean they were a failure?

      • I’d echo the sentiments of those who said winning a WS is hard and unpredictable and is not a great indication of building a good team. Being competitive for the playoffs consistently for a time period should be goal. Once you get in the playoffs it can be a crapshoot.

        Beyond that, the rebuild was inevitable. Part of that is that players get older. Phillips isn’t what he once was and the Reds will eventually move on (we hope). Cozart is playing well but the Reds should not resign a SS in his 30’s, especially as he’s only got a little over a year’s worth of actually doing anything at the plate. Frazier was going to be too old to be resigned to a deal that would have value for the Reds. Maybe they could’ve signed Bruce to an extension, but just before this year he’d posted his two worst seasons. Not exactly the type of play that merits an extension from most teams. That’s 4 core members of the everyday 8 that were eventually fall victim to the aging curve before the next competitive Reds team.

        And maybe they could have rolled the dice by keeping Frazier, extended Bruce, and kept Cozart through the end of arbitration if they would have had the pitching in place. But they had 4 of their starting 5 pitchers scheduled to enter FA at the same time. No team with the Reds small-market budget can withstand that and hope to be competitive. Some of this could have been prevented (by having Leake stay in the minors two weeks his rookie season) or by making a different extension choice (Cueto over Bailey, though at the time Cueto had more injury concerns. Pitchers!). The injury/non-development of Cingrani played a role as well as it led to Simon being in the rotation. But the fact remains, the Reds couldn’t afford to keep it’s rotation intact and therefore needed to sell some parts.

        The rotation drove the bus for the Reds recent success. With it in transition, the Reds offense as it was constructed was not enough to keep the Reds afloat. Injuries have taken a toll there as well (Mes and Bruce namely) but the fact remains there were too many holes to fill and the farm system was thin on reinforcements.

        That may be the biggest factor in why a rebuild was inevitable. The Reds did not have the resources to reinforce the team they had. Some of that was due to trades made in an attempt to bolster during their contending years. Grandal, Alonso, Boxberger, Gregorious, and T. Wood have all made contributions for their MLB teams since being traded and all were moved in the “win-now” window. The Reds have also had some had some missteps in their early draft results after being very good for about a decade. Some have just been slower to rise but have shown promise (Stephenson 2011, Travieso 2012, Ervin 2013). Others have struggled completely (Gelalich until this year, Blandino in AA, Howard) and some are still too far away/recently acquired (T. Stephenson 2015, Senzel, Trammell, Okey 2016). Winker has moved through the system largely uninterrupted until having a wrist injury this year.

        The fact is, the Reds were aging and getting expensive, they were set to lose a good percentage of their rotation to FA, and they didn’t have the reinforcements in the system ready to step in and contribute. The Reds needed to rebuild.

        Now whether they should have started this process sooner is another question for another day.

    • What’s the alternative? Keep a few good players, fill in the gap with castoffs and maximize payroll to win 76 games….you avoid being dreadful, but have no actual hope for the future? Ladies and Gentleman, the 2004 Cincinnati Reds!!!!!

      I want the Reds to enjoy sustained success. You can only do that if you’re constantly developing young players who outperform when they’re price controlled and moving on from guys when the price for production becomes subject to market forces. That’s the Cardinal model and it works. That doesn’t mean it’s easy….it means its achievable.

      As for success being measured by winning the WS….post season baseball is absurdly random. Someone happens to win the WS each year. A 105 win Cardinals team was swept in the WS….a 84 win Cardinal team swept the WS. It’s 10% how good you are and 90% luck.

      The Cubs lost 5 of 6 to the Braves and Reds 2 weeks ago…if they played either team 162 times they’d likely win 130 games…but any given 7 could go either way.

      • Correct Chuck. The 1990 Reds were not as good as the A’s, at least on paper. The Twins beat the Braves in the WS and were considered the lesser team.

        • I remember what underdogs those 1990 Reds were, even enduring scoffing from an A’s fan the day before the series started. In retrospect (and without studying the two rosters, though, I wonder if the A’s were actually better. The Reds had decent hitting, fabulous defense, overpowering relief pitching, and serviceable everything else. They had Eric Davis. All in all, a pretty sound template for a winning team.

  3. I think another goal of this rebuild is not only to aim for playoffs and WS, but also to become more stable and consistent as a franchise and team. Maybe the Reds are unable to do such a thing but maybe something similar to how the Cards seem to keep a decent farm but field a good team as well. I guess what I am thinking of is a team that transitions gradually to the next group of players, not great team to awful in a period of a year or two. Don’t be afraid to let some guys go if it means undergoing a less rocky transition to the next good players, kind of like how Pujols was let go by STL (sorry for mentioning them again). Maybe to much to shoot for, but definitely best scenario when it comes to this rebuild/boot.

    • I agree, Try to level out the cycle. For lack of a better way of saying it, find a way to experience consistent results like the Cardinals have over the last decade or so.

      The Reds basically gutted their farm system as far as position talent for a 3 years of Latos and a year of Choo; and it still hasn’t recovered 3 years later..

      They also failed to see the looming train wreck of all the starting pitchers except for Bailey coming simultaneously to free agency and in panic mode wasted 2 first round draft picks on guys who were not starting pitchers (Lorenzen and Howard) in hopes of converting them to starters as a quick fix. That’s not to even mention the $27M they committed to Iglesias also in hopes of turning a guy the rest of the world saw as a reliever into a starter.

      • Eh, I just don’t see that not making those deals would have made much difference. Gregorius has turned into a decent player now, but he was blocked by Cozart and other than DiDi being a couple years younger, is pretty similar player. Really it wasn’t until the past two years in NY that he has started to hit a bit more. Boxberger has had a couple decent years for Tampa. Alonzo hasn’t done much. Grandal has been decent, but not a world beater. You also have to consider the Reds got Disco back for Latos.

        • Could have been worse if Volquez would have signed the extension before he got hurt. Volquez obviously eventually got his groove back, but it really has only been the past couple seasons.

        • Grandal has been very good, he’s put up an avg. of 115 wRC+ and has put up 7.3 WAR in less than 1500 PA (or roughly 2 1/2 years). Alonso has been about a league average hitter, averaged 103 wRC+ for his career. Didi put up 3.1 WAR last year (25 years old) and 1.9 so far this year. That’s pretty good for a 26 year old who is now hitting .296/.328/.464 this year. And like you said, Boxberger has been pretty good out of the pen.

          Are they world beaters? Maybe not, though Grandal was an All-Star. But all of those guys could have helped, or if truly blocked, could have brought back players that would have filled other holes.

          I’m not upset they were moved, because Latos helped the 2012/2013 teams to the playoffs, and Choo helped the latter year. But the fact is, that is a lot of talent that was given up that would have eased the transition during the rebuild.

          Hindsight being what it is, If the Reds had held onto Gregorious they probably don’t target Peraza, meaning they may have Frazier still as a trade chip. Or would have received a different return that may help the Reds better. If they’d have held onto Boxberger their bullpen would have been better, and maybe they could have cashed in when high leverage relievers are at a premium (trade deadline). Hindsight being what it is, the Reds gave up 4 better than average ML’ers (plus Volquez) for 3 years of Latos and 1 year of Choo.

          • Agree with your comment. For better or worse, I think the Reds were planning on re-signing Choo after 2013 but he had too good of a season and priced himself out of their consideration. Also have to factor in that Latos brought DeSclafani.

        • I think you can only factor in Latos brought back Disco if the Reds can flip Disco for more prospects. Can the Reds get a package for Disco similar to what they gave up for Latos? Will they? Do they even want to?The Reds had a top 10 farm system and gave up 3 top 12 prospects and threw in an under performing major league pitcher.
          Can they get Alex Bregman from Houston, or Joey Gallo from Texas? Would they even be willing to see what those pieces would cost? Honestly, I doubt they even look.

      • While the Reds could have benefited the farm system by holding onto some prospects, more importantly the Reds could trade players before age took its complete toll and possibly avoided as many large contracts. Maybe the Reds trade Phillips for something before his 10/5 rights kicked in or not giving him a long and expensive contract? Beyond retaining prospects, I believe the Reds could have focused on young talent as early as 2014 and instead the Reds for a brief moment the Reds tried acting like a big market team and forgot about the farm system. Whether it is the idea of letting someone like Pujols go elsewhere or trading Latos and Simon at most optimal time – these are the kind of moves that can enable a team to remain competitive while also giving the minors the attention they deserve. However, when I really think about the Reds in 2013/14 and what they could have done differently, I can’t think of how they could have done to avoid this rebuild so maybe it goes back further than that. Like someone said above, the Cardinals are proof that this is not impossible and nothing but themselves can keep the Reds from a sturdy and strong organization.

  4. Maybe old news but Reds are linked to Cuban 3B Yunio Perez. Sounds raw but talented at 20 with ptential power and good makeup. Is he better than Alfredo?

  5. Well, those are the answers I was pretty much expecting. But I will say this, we had a team that didn’t win the WS and I grew attached to that team. So, IF, this current version doesn’t win the WS then maybe we should’ve kept the previous version minus the few that we couldn’t afford while supplementing those losses with ML ready talent, who knows what could’ve been with that scenario (w/o Injuries of course). So that leaves the only reason for the rebuild being the almighty dollar or lack thereof. BUT, I suppose it’s worth it to see if this current group can win the WS (Provided we stop trading away our young pieces for more young pieces. Does anyone else’s head hurt?). There’s no telling what they could achieve. I suppose I’ll give them a chance.

    • Didn’t they keep the previous version minus the one’s they couldn’t afford? Votto, Phillips, Cozart, Bruce, Bailey…..weren’t they part of the “previous version”? How exactly do you suggest they acquire major league ready talent without giving up a lot? Do you think other teams are stupid?

      • Frazier comes to mind as someone we could afford but chose to trade in order to obtain strong talent. Now, whether or not what we actually received fits that description remains to be seen. We’ll have to wait and see if these pieces like Peraza pan out or not in the future.

  6. Chuck is right in that we must develop our own players year after year after year.We continued to roll the dice year after year and lost so now we start over.First thing to do is to rid the front office of the people who continued to roll the dice because if they stay around they will do it again and again.

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