2017 Reds

Starting the Filthy Five

I’m sorry, you don’t trade Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman and Brandon Phillips and then give us Scott Feldman.

But that’s what happened Monday when Bryan Price announced Feldman would take the mound for the Reds on Opening Day. Major league baseball teams choose Opening Day starters in advance for a variety of internal purposes. But the reason they announce the selection to the public is to generate excitement for the season. That’s why the decision to start Feldman is so puzzling and disappointing. The news landed with a disheartening thud throughout Reds Country.

The concern isn’t selling tickets for April 3. That day, starting with the Findlay Market Parade, is sacred to Cincinnati and Reds fans. Great American Ball Park would be filled to the rafters whether Scott Feldman or Scott Baio was the starting pitcher.

Beyond one game, the selection of an Opening Day pitcher conveys a broader message to fans and the team itself. The choice of Scott Feldman says – no, it shouts – to fans and anyone else paying attention that it’s not time to start believing in or caring about the Reds. It expresses the dreary notion that the painful rebuild somehow hasn’t produced a single suitable young pitcher.

To be sure, Anthony DeSclafani was acquired by trading Mat Latos in the leading wave of the rebuild. If DeSclafani wasn’t ailing, he’d take the mound on Opening Day and rightly lead the Reds into 2017. But his injury happened and he’s unavailable.

What should the Reds do instead?

Assemble the Filthy Five.

Through drafts and trades, the club has amassed a half-dozen young, exciting – and healthy – pitchers who are competing out here in the desert for spots in the starting rotation. In no order: Cody Reed (23), Robert Stephenson (24), Rookie Davis (23), Amir Garrett (24), Sal Romano (23), and Brandon Finnegan (23).

The Reds should select five of those six players for the Opening Day starting rotation. Let fans and the media dub the group the Filthy Five. The order in which the young men pitch wouldn’t be important. Go by the alphabet, age or uniform number. For who goes first, pick the name from a hat. What matters is the pack  and what it represents, not the individual.

Are all five of those pitchers ready for the major leagues? Think of the first couple months of the season as an extended tryout. Eventually, DeSclafani and Homer Bailey will return, each with several years of valuable talent and maturity to contribute to the Reds. But for a while, the ball would be in the kids’ hands. They’d gain experience facing big league hitters while games still mattered.

I’ve seen this strategy succeed at the University of Michigan. I worked there during the basketball program’s Fab Five Era and was fortunate to attend many of their games. Those five players fed off each other and the common identity they shared. So did the fans. That bold experiment produced a team of five freshmen starters that made it to the NCAA national championship finals. The analogy to this year’s Reds rotation isn’t perfect, but it demonstrates the potential of the unit – both as symbol and for competitive success.

Aside from a couple more high draft picks, the Reds are through their rebuild. They have new infielders and outfielders. You could make a case they have more than enough of those for now. Announcing the young starting rotation would make a dramatic and clear statement that the Rebuilt Reds have arrived. Sure, we’d know the Opening Day roster won’t be the final product. But the declaration of a Filthy Five would inspire fans to support the team. Uncommon pre-season enthusiasm would be at hand.

Yes, that would be the death of the dream that was Scott Feldman.

Don’t diminish Feldman, but let’s not oversell him either. He’s been with the Reds for five minutes. His career strikeout rate is below 6 per 9 innings. The best hope is that the club can trade him in a few months. Even that wishful thinking might be best served by putting Feldman in a reliever role.

Feldman is 34 years old and lasted only four starts in the Astros’ 2016 rotation. At last year’s August 1 deadline, the Astros traded then-reliever Feldman to the Blue Jays. Toronto used Feldman for only 15 innings over the last two months. He didn’t pitch in the Wild Card game or the AL Division Series and was left off the Blue Jay’s ALCS roster. This is another year later, further down his aging curve.

But the club has already announced Scott Feldman will be the Opening Day starter. Wouldn’t backtracking now be a public relations problem?

Who cares? The excitement generated by an announcement of the Filthy Five would dwarf the PR downside.

The Reds should simply say they changed their mind. The young pitchers have earned the opportunity. Scott Feldman can contribute to the team as a swingman in the bullpen. Like Adele at the Grammy’s, fans understand the do-over. What golfer hasn’t called for a mulligan?

The new front office should grab this unique opportunity. Instead of boring the baseball universe and demoralizing Reds fans, it should announce the future is here in the form of five young arms. And then don’t look back. With one audacious move, the organization could catalyze Reds fans behind its rebuilding plan and their new team.

98 thoughts on “Starting the Filthy Five

  1. Disagree , wholly and completely. Trying to sell a product led to the bad Baseball decisions like not trading at the right time Frazier and Aroldis, signing BP for long term, and bullpen garbage arms every year for 3-4 million. Just make a long term results oriented decision!

  2. Bam!

    This is it.

    What a way to introduce that a young team is on the breakout instead of the tear down

  3. I thought we still had to worry about service time? I agree Feldman on opening day is a bad look. I’d start with Finnegan, Reed, Stephenson; give Feldman and Adleman 2 starts each, then call up Garrett and Romano on the 3rd time through rotation.

    • Agreed with the service time concern. The Filthy Five would be a great idea if it didn’t come at the cost of another year of cheaper pitching from the likes of Romano and Garrett.

      If we are patient we will be seeing the Filthy Five for years to come, and at a more sustainable salary. Great article!!

      • We don’t even know if these guys are major leaguers, and everyone is worried about a 7th year of team control.

        If we are sad about it in 6+ years, then we’ll have already won. Because that means those guys were good, contributing players for 6 years.

        Screwing these players out of their free agency for a year is not a business strategy that should always be employed on every player. If you do that as a team, you’ll start having signability issues in draft.

        It’s not worth it when 9 out of 10 players won’t even be desired for a 7th year.

        • I agree totally with Patrick. Reed or Stevenson did not earn a rotation spot last year when given the chance, now suddenly they are considered in our rotation with a good game in spring training ??????

        • The players agreed to these free agency rules. If I was a Yankees fan, I wouldn’t care as much. Since I’m a Reds fan, I’m assuming “the first free agent year” is for another team. Homer is making sure the Reds don’t over commit to a pitcher again. That “7th” year, in many cases, will be the most productive year in a player’s career as a Red. I’m not trading it for the first 2 weeks of this season.

          • Here, Here, Andy. I think we as fans can and should hope that the team can be disciplined enough to wait a couple of meaningless weeks to save the requisite number of service days that could (and likely will) help the team financially down the road.

        • I understand your concern that we will never know if a prospect will work out or not. There is never a guarantee of that. But for a small market team to not take advantage of every possible way to get a competitive advantage would simply be impatient and unwise. Especially in the phase of the rebuild process. Now if the team was in the middle of a playoff push I could see not considering service time issues as much, but right now it would seem unstrategic to not simply wait two weeks to get an entire year of extra control. That extra year on the backend is the difference of another shot at a run at the playoffs versus restarting the rebuilding cycle a year early down the road.

          • I would think that the extra year of control might enhance the player’s value in a trade, as well. Patrick’s point about the danger to the Reds of becoming a team known for screwing over players has a lot of merit, though.

    • Probably as important as the raw service time is having some service time stagger among the group so as not to end up in a situation like the Reds found themselves in 2014 with 4 of the 5 starting rotation pitchers simultaneously in their potential free agent.

      The good news is that the Reds do have stagger among the group Steve named. Finnegan has a year plus of service time, Reed has 100+ days, Stephenson has ~35 days, Romano and Davis have zero. If the “Filthy Five” would start the season as the Reds rotation, they’d be spaced to reach free agency over a period of at least three different seasons.

      • I missed Amir Garrett who is also at zero MLB service time. Including him would not change my basic premise. Of the 3 with zero service time, I’d probably hold back the one I thought had the highest ceiling long enough to gain the “extra” year of control over him.

      • I agree too with you. Stagger those waves.
        Also, check out DG’s site if you haven’t yet. There is a bat emerging in the draft that could be the Reds new Jay Bruce. Incredible HS prospect OF gaining steam.

    • This is where I’m at. What’s a couple of weeks if it aids the team on service time considerations? The Filthy Five are going to get plenty of opportunities to start in the majors this year. There will be injuries and underperformances that will open up spots throughout the year.

      If the Reds don’t move some of these guys up by May, then we have something to complain about. But a couple of starts in April won’t make or break the outcome of this season or the fan’s perception, IMO. I understand and can empathize with those fans who might be put off that Feldman is the OD starter. But I suspect that they may just as quickly forget about it once the kids are in the rotation on a regular basis.

  4. Steve, I’ve been a dedicated reader of this blog for a couple of years now, though this is my first post. As usual I find myself in agreement with your post/suggestion/argument. As a life-long Reds fan, I usually don’t care what the financial impact is upon the club for such courses of action like you suggest (years of team control, Super 2, etc) . . . I think they have assembled the future fruits for a team focused on winning or at least putting a competitive team on the field. I like many others want to see the best players on the field; but having said that, what is the near vs. far term financial impact for the organization if/when they embrace the Filthy Five?

    Thanks for all you do,
    Best, Bill (in AZ)

    • Good first post, Bill! You should post more often!

      I’m not Steve, but I’ll weigh in briefly.

      Near-term impacts of promoting the FF? None, that I can see. Other than paying a few guys MLB minimum rather than AAA minimum.

      Far-term impacts? Some subset of those 5 pitchers (maybe 1 or 2, I’d say), will stick with the big league club for 6 straight years, and enter free agency. The others will either be sent down at some point (pausing their service time clock) or will be ineffective, this rendering the magical “7th year” or control a moot point. So, perhaps 2 players will either need to be extended (a good practice with pitchers, I think, since long-term FA deals for pitchers in their 30s seem to lead to bad things) or they will exercise their right to go into free agency and we lose the age 28, 29, or 30 seasons of 2 of those 5 guys.

      As my point always is, if we are worried about losing a guy in his 7th year, we’ve already won. That means the player was good enough for 6 years that the team and fans desire him to stay over the other available options. And always playing service time shenanigans with every prospect will give the team a bad rap. You don’t want that. There’s a reason why every team doesn’t keep every player down to try and get a 7th year. it’s generally not worth it when you weigh all outcomes. If you have Kris Bryant, a slam dunk all-star, sure you keep him down. Sal Romano? Robert Stephenson? Those types of guys don’t need to be kept down.

      • Excellent explanation and point of view Patrick.
        Since all these guys are already on the 40 man roster, the “AAA minimum” they would receive if on option is an annual rate of $86,500 versus an annual salary rate of $535K for MLB time..

        Under the expired CBA first year 40 man roster guys (i.e. Davis and Romano in this case) were only paid half of the on option minimum for minor league time; but, this first year penalty appears to have gone away in the new CBA per Section IX of this link

        http://www.mlbplayers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=34000&ATCLID=211336390

      • I get what you’re saying. Did we win with Mike Leake? Yeah, absolutely. He was a very good pitcher for us for six years. Would he have still been the same pitcher minus two starts in April of 2010? Yeah, most likely he’d have been exactly the same. Why not try to “win” both, have a good pitcher and keep him for another year? I know I would have loved to have had Mike Leake in 2016 over those two starts in April 2010.

        Will it work that way with everyone? No, some won’t live up to their hype. But even then, you could keep cost down as you could postpone arbitration a year (if kept past super two, and if they aren’t that good then they won’t cost much in ARB anyway).

        Really we’re talking about Garrett and Romano. I haven’t seen anyone suggest Reed and Stephenson stay down, because they’ve already pitched too many days to really make and extra year obtainable. But I’m also not seeing people suggesting we keep guys like Davis down either. Romano and Garrett are the types of prospect you roll the dice with and try to “win” twice with.

        • Nice synopsis….I say keep Davis and Romano down…But start Garrett as the centerpiece of the new era…Keep in.mind the Reds promised Garrett publicly a chance to earn a spot…He’s done that. Plus….It took cueto till his third year…If it’s only about Garrett…Put your chips behind him…If he’s great…Extend him in year 4 with a mega contract.

        • Very well said. You can have both outcomes. And, here’s the bonus! You don’t have to guess which of these guys will pan out (or won’t) in playing the service time game, and it costs this team virtually nothing to do so. They’re not going to be in contention this year.

          So why do we really care if all the young guys aren’t up for the first couple of weeks. They’ll be here soon enough given the propensity for injuries to pitchers and the likelihood of subpar performances.

      • Perfectly said Patrick. I will be on the edge of my seat to watch Feldman and Arroyo ….not. Field the best team period.

      • Thanks Patrick! Love the “if we worried about losing a guy in his 7th year, we’re already won.”

  5. No exciting things will ever happen as long as Price is at the helm, one of the worst Reds managers I can recall

  6. Straily would’ve been nice but oh well? The overachieving type guys that some of us really like get dealt then half the promising guys we pick up get hurt? If it wasn’t for fantasy baseball I think I’d be checked out well before the AS break this year. I was disappointed that Garrett only averaged 91.6 mph the other day. I hope he’s just building up arm strength because he’ll have to be pretty crafty at a young age with a mediocre fastball. It looks like he has a pretty good slider atleast! Either way…I guess we need Feldman because Garrett, Davis, and Romano have barely pitched in AAA and probably aren’t ready. The offense could be better and the pen could be pretty good but it looks like 70 wins might be a reach at this point. I’ve given up on Mesoraco and Bailey so anything they do at all is a bonus. I’m thinking (hoping) they’re off the books this year?

    • If they still had Straily, then they wouldn’t have gotten the impressive prospect that Steve wrote about in the 3/23 journal….Luis Castillo

    • Neither Bailey nor Mesoraco are off the books after this year. Bailey is owed $21-million in 2018, $23-million in 2019, and $25-million (if productive) or $5-million (buyout) in 2020… Mesoraco is owed $13-million in 2018.

  7. Steve (Below the Line),

    -I think the Feldman decision is a data point that this team views its window for playoff contention as starting later than 2018.

    -Maybe the Reds view this as Dick Williams “true first season” as GM. In which case, that would tie in with a later contention window, as he puts his touches on various things.

    -The Braves, Phillies and Padres are all using veteran, flip-in-a-heartbeat pitchers in 2017, because they aren’t ready to contend. Why would the Reds need to be any different?

    This “re-build” has not been done in any classic sense (like Astros, Cubs, White Sox). I am willing to still attend and wait for it to be done right, rather than rushed.

    • Absolutely agree. Most on this site seem to think as soon as we get all the young guys to majors that the Reds should be good. I expect growing pains and more trades of veterans and even some of their young guys over the next couple seasons before the next truly competitive team is on the field. Expect Senzel to have at least one full season in MLB before the Reds begin the Reds could be playoff bound. They are probably closer to the middle rather than the end of their rebuild.

    • In regards to your third comment… because Brandon Finnegan is better than Scott Feldman. He also has more seniority. He also will be with the team longer than one season.

      There’s absolutely no baseball reason to start Feldman over Finnegan on opening day.

    • Not sure about Feldman, but I think fans will ultimately be pretty happy with the return they got for Strailey. And if Feldman fills the gap to allow the team to delay service time for the future starting pitching, then mission accomplished for this year.

  8. “Beyond one game, the selection of an Opening Day pitcher conveys a broader message to fans and the team itself. The choice of Scott Feldman says – no, it shouts – to fans and anyone else paying attention that it’s not time to start believing in or caring about the Reds.”

    Could not have said it better. Frustrating.

  9. If we were facing Clay Kershaw I see rolling out your worst starting pitcher and just conceding the loss. Force the guy to throw all 9 innings also. Save your pitchers for the next day. But in this case Corey Feldman will be facing Jeremy Hellickson. Maybe they are closer to equals but it is a sad state of affairs for Reds fan the world wide when we cower in fear for lack of starting pitching.

  10. Sorry but can’t get worked up or excited about the opening day starter. In time it will be the answer to a trivia question. But not of real importance to me. However the progress of the pitchers Steve listed is of extreme interest. If I had to guess I’d assume Sal and Rookie start in AAA but that’s just a guess.

  11. I would largely write off April and bring Winker, Garrett, Stephenson and Reed up in early May in conjunction with the return of Disco, possibly Bailey and Mesoraco. Save the service time and let the injured heal.

    Friday May 5th could be the first game of Resurrection Weekend.

  12. Steve,

    I agree completely with your comments and my opening five would be (in order)-Finnegan, Stephenson, Garrett, Romano, and Reed (with Rookie Davis and Luis Castillo gaining more experience at AAA and A+ on AA, respectively).

    Also, just a side note-I am big fan of Michigan Basketball these days, primarily because you won’t find a more decent human being anywhere than Coach John Bielein (his handling of the tragic Austin Hatch situation showed just what a caring and compassionate person he truly is). Definitely rooting for Michigan Hoops in this era, but not back in the Fab Five era (one of the most corrupt regimes in NCAA History). Mr Martin (can’t remember his first name), the car dealer, paying Chris Webber $600,000 under the table for two years of his “amateur” services-what a con game that was! Sweet karma, though, when Webber called timeout with none left and lost the championship game to UNC in 1993!

    And, of course, his “sidekick” Jalen Rose was no better of a person, either. Those were some corrupt times at UM but these days I am a huge fan of them with Coach Bielein and what seems like a very good group of young men on his roster.

    Enjoy your coverage and great site-the first sports site I check every day!

  13. So a PR stunt over a fiscal and controllable asset decision? Not to mention Romano has no AAA experience, and what little experience Garrett and Davis have in AAA is not exactly world beating. I agree with Reed and Stephenson in the rotation from the start, no need in holding them down for 2-3 months and making the rotation an even bigger hodge podge of starters, but if Arroyo and Feldman give you 4 starts, then mission accomplished.

    Feldman
    Finnegan
    Stephenson
    Reed
    Arroyo/Adleman

    After April, whomever has put up the best starts in AAA amongst Garrett, Romano, and Davis can replace the Arroyo/Adleman #5 starter spot. If Feldman gets beat like a drum for 4 starts, then bring up the next best performing. You can have your five young pitchers, all for 8 Reds starts in a 2017 where you won’t be competing for a world series and you just added potentially 68 starts in 2023 where the Reds should be in prime years for all the talent is young now.

    68 prime year starts >>>>>>>>>> 8 rushed to the bigs for a PR stunt as rookies starts

    • 68 needs to be multiplied by the bust percentage of the pitchers in question, as well as the inverse odds of them staying on the MLB roster for 6 straight years without being optioned back to AAA.

      Can’t do an analysis and assume those 68 starts are even going to be desired at that point.

      • Even the possibility of those 68 starts is worth 8 starts in a non contending year. Those 8 starts aren’t costing us a playoff berth or a shot at the world series. There is literally no downside to it except not getting a PR move that the fan base will forget about in less than a month.

  14. Good piece, Steve.

    This Reds team has the opportunity (and some might say an obligation) to at least try to change the way the game is played for the better. I’m not talking about the stuff we keep as sacred – I’m talking about the politics involved in a lot of the decisions made by all 30 clubs. We have a bullpen with a closer at the end of it because everyone else does. We pick the starting rotation the same way every other team does. We have a set starter at every position because – guess what – for the most part, so does everyone else.

    Why not set a platoon at every position you don’t have an all-star? Why not have two rotations – your standard starting five, and then a rotation five designated relievers to take over for his assigned starter when the starter runs out of gas?

    There are inefficiencies in the way the game is played – and many of them are starting to result in injury, which is never fun. Make baseball fun again. Change it up!

    • They only have 1 All Star so they would need 14 guys to platoon the other 7 positions. I assume you would need to find 7 left handed batters to make that work. If they had 14 guys who were good enough to play regularly then they’d be the best team in baseball.

      Would you assign a designated reliever to a designated starter? Do you have the best reliever work with the worst starter for diversification purposes or do you line up your best reliever with your best starter to create the greatest chance to win that one game per week?

      Wouldn’t the designated reliever waste a lot of warm up pitches since theres no actual consistent time he’d be brought in to pitch? Wouldn’t that inefficiency create even more injuries?What if the starters get shelled early and the 5 replacements get overworked? What happens if you have a double header or a 18 inning game or a handful of rain delays?

      Your proposed system would last about a week.

      • Probably a good thing I’m not the manager of the Reds, then 🙂

        I think you’re taking what I said a little too literally. Obviously there would need to be more thought going into a huge strategic shift on a professional baseball team than a comment on a blog post. But, I proposed it, so let’s answer some questions:

        So, maybe not EVERY guy gets platooned. But you could make the case for a Winker/Duvall platoon in left, a Hamilton/Jennings platoon in center, and a Schebler/Raburn platoon in right. Not necessarily decided on handedness, but for the starting pitcher that night.

        Then you’ve got a potential Peraza/Herrera/Cozart three-way platoon at 2B and SS, with Cozart and Herrera being glued to SS and 2B respectively. Peraza and Cozart (probably) start as much as possible, but when we need to get Dilson’s bat into the game, its a decision between offense (Peraza) or Defense (Cozart) at short.

        All of this is pretty similar to the traditional catching situation. You’re playing guys behind the plate based on their offensive production first, their defensive abilities second, and their relationship with the staff third. It’s why you’ve got pitchers with designated catchers.

        With this thought, you could have a designated ‘power’ lineup, playing at home or in other small ballparks against a pitcher with low GB%. Or, an ‘OBP’ lineup against aces and other pitchers who tend to mow through guys who swing a lot, or a ‘speed’ lineup you could play against teams with below average defensive players, taking advantage of weak outfield arms and butterfingered infielders.

        As far as the designated reliever role, you’ve got room in the bullpen for overage. If five starters go 3 innings in a row back to back to back to back to back, of course those designated relievers are gonna get a lot of work. But, they’re guys who could be labelled ‘failed’ starters, who would be stretched out to pitch just as long as the starters. If they do get run-down, you’ve got (probably) 3 more guys in the bullpen to take care of business.

        Could be fun. Could be interesting. We’d probably lose the same amount of games anyway. If we aren’t competing for a championship, why wouldn’t we try to revolutionize the way everyone does everything?

        • For various reasons, I don’t like the specifics but I DO like the “out of the box” thinking.

        • I appreciate the creativity…genuinely

          A very small number of teams have enough interchangeable yet complimentary pieces to try what you’ve laid out.

          One could argue that the Cubs actually set their lineup on a similar premise. Of course, the Cubs have an absurd amount of talent and tremendous financial resources and the Reds have neither

  15. I know its just a pipe dream but it would be nice if the Reds brass would make a show of faith and work out a trade for Jose Quintana! He’s only 28 and the White Sox are going to deal him somewhere. I know the Reds are perpetually on the cheap but they’ve cut a ton of salary and Homer/Mesoraco will come off as well. If they ever want to take advantage of Votto’s prime then they’re going to need proven starting pitching. We talked about 2018 as being the year to become competitive but it doesn’t look like that now? If they’re not going to do anything then they might as well try to move Votto this year and build around Senzel in 2020! Votto is not going to hit .380-.390 for half the year when he’s 36-37. They test for roids now!

    • Wouldn’t you have to give up so much to obtain a 28 year old with an extremely friendly contract that it would actually make the team worse?

  16. Well, the bullpen will be “fresh”. They could have Arroyo start, and THAT would create a kind of buzz too.
    I’ve been a Reds fan since I was a kid, and have seen some real “huh?” starters on Opening Day (and some really great ones too). We all know the roster and service time situation, which is part of the bargaining agreement, so let’s not cry in our beer.
    Start Feldman, he’s a veteran. Take the pressure off Finnegan, Reed and Stephenson, who will very likely be on the Opening Day Roster as starters.
    In a few weeks or a month, one of Garrett, Romano or Davis will be up. Maybe two. The talented young guys will push out the older guys that are not performing. I think Homer will be back around June 1. I don’t expect Disco to be back before July.
    The second half of 2015 was all rookie starters. And really, I think Disco is the only one that stuck (from the Latos trade) from that less talented group (after the Cueto trade, John Lamb, eg).

    I am excited about the new season. Sorry that others are not.

  17. There is no amount of fan enthusiasm that would make me want to start clocks on Garrett or Romano until the season is more than 10 days old. No need to practice bad business just to get fans excited. Those same fans would soon forget the optimism and excitement when it gets to the ASB and we’re double digits back of the Cubs. And then eventually whine about better planning when our entire rotation hits FA at the same time.

    That being said, there was no reason that the Reds needed Feldman to start opening day. Finnegan, Reed, or Stephenson would have been more exciting choices for the fans and wouldn’t have come at the expense of an extra year of control.

    • Spot on. By May, 90% of the fan base won’t be able to tell you who all was in the rotation on opening day. Not to mention you’re more likely going to generate more net interest by bringing them up later. Interest is already high for opening day, they are close to a sell out every year. Why not generate some buzz a month or two into the season by calling up the next guy you hope is a long term contributor?

      Thankfully, Williams seems to be driven a lot more by data than the whims of the fans.

  18. It’s late March. Opening day is soon…Bronson Arroyo has thrown exactly 3 2/3 innings. He is 40. He hasn’t pitched in 3 years. He’s going to get a rotation spot over Reed or Garrett or Stephenson???? Adelman has never succeeded to any great degree and he has an ERA over 10 with 15 hits and 15 runs in 12 innings. He is innings insurance as the 12th pitcher at best. Unless Arroyo throws 5 innings of 4 hit 1 run ball today and repeats it in 5 days….His career is over today.

    Feldman
    Finnegan
    Garrett
    Reed
    Stephenson

    Rookie and Romano start at AAA and are ready when needed.
    Castillo is moved to AAA.

    Disco slides in to the rotation in July
    Homer rebuilds his arm in 2017 ala John Smoltz and goes to the bullpen to prepare for 2018.

    • Bronson has done pretty well so far today. 3 innings, 2 hits… Working in the 4th now against a lot of Sox regulars.

  19. Not very excited about the Feldman decision to be opening bay sp, but he fared well last night vs Cubbies & it’s Price’s decision- not mine. I’m hoping he wins 8 or 9 games by the ASB & several teams are offering prospects for his services at the trading deadline. But then I’m an eternal optimist.

    • If Feldman can have a sub 4 ERA around the all star break, i’ll happily take another guy like Luis Castillo.

  20. I don’t know if this is the wisest idea with service time considerations and what not, but I would be so excited to see it. I just think it would be crazy fun. Wish I could add Lorenzen to the list, but I’d be pumped to see five of those six as the starters.

    • And what about the fan reaction when the “filthy five” have a combined era around 5 because you are throwing 5 rookie pitchers? Even Johnny Cueto had a 4.91 ERA his rookie year.

      • The fan reaction would be awful. I’d be fine because I know young pitchers struggle. I’d just want to see flashes like we did with Cueto and Bailey early on even when they were bad. Again, I didn’t say they should. Just that I think it would be fun.

  21. CLOCKS CLOCKS, EVERYWHERE A CLOCK!!!

    It’s almost like people don’t realize there is a downside to treating all your prospects poorly for the small % chance that a random prospect will be a desired asset 7 years from now.

    • Bryant from the Cubs I understand but how many Bryant prospects are out there?

      • Exactly. It makes sense when you have a guy who can reasonably be expected to be a good major leaguer.

        With every one of these pitchers who still have service time concerns, there’s a large (probably better than 50%) chance that they will be below-average (1.5 WAR or less) major leaguers or worse.

        And if you start doing this crap with every single prospect, you’re going to have a hard time signing guy and getting them to sign team-friendly extensions when necessary. Ones like the Tim Anderson deal that the Reds should have given Billy 2 years ago.

        • I don’t think players sign “team friendly extensions”…..they sign extensions to mitigate their financial risk in case of injury or ineffectiveness. Tim Anderson wasn’t looking to do the White Sox a favor. Most teams want cost certainty and many players want income certainty. Some people want a salary and some want to work on commission.

          Whether Player A likes the Reds FO is irrelevant. If he wants to guarantee himself lifetime financial security then he’ll take an extension that may turn out to be team friendly…..or it may turn out to be Devon Mesoraco. The player can still ultimately pick his own employer at some point either way.

          Kris Bryant will likely never leave the Cubs…..because they can pay him as much as anyone.,,,and that is usually all that matters.

          • Whether or not Tim Anderson was looking to do the Sox a favor, he signed a “team friendly contract.” Whatever that means.

        • Is the Reds top pitching prospect (Garrett) not expected to be a good major leaguer? I could get behind your logic if it was only Romano being mentioned, (although I’ve been much higher on him for a longer duration than a lot of people, you can thank Doug Grey for that). Personally I think he’s going to be a work horse in the middle of the rotation and has the pitching profile to succeed at GABP, but I get why some wouldn’t be as high on that projection.

          For me, the chance of those two becoming good major leaguers is a good enough bet to take a risk on them still being good in year seven. Especially, when the only obstacle to getting that extra year is 10 days in the minors.

          I’d look at it like this. Say I go to lease a car, and salesman says he can get me an extra year tacked on for the same price if I decide to wait two weeks. Could I be slightly inconvenienced for two weeks and have to use and Uber? Could I get into an accident that would make that extra year a moot point? Could technology come along and make the car I’m leasing obsolete? Could I find another car I like better during that time? Sure, all those things could happen. Or I could get a free extra year for simply being patient for two weeks.

        • I disagree about giving the same sort of contract to Hamilton 2 years ago. Anderson had a very, very strong season. Barring a big setback, it’s pretty clear the guy is going to be a very good MLB ballplayer. There were lots of questions about Hamilton and rather or not he could get on base enough to be a starting player. His defense has always been very good but he’s grown better as he’s played CF more. His first season, he wasn’t as good as he was last year. With his poor hitting and not knowing if his defense was what it was (very good) or would get better (now extraordinary), I don’t think the Reds could have given him a deal similar to Anderson’s. Anderson simply showed a more rounded skill-set that suggests he should be a starting SS for a while.

    • The clock already started on Reed and Stephenson…so isn’t moot? Unless someone is arguing super 2 or some other a peripheral issue. These pitchers have earned starting spotsm Price said Romano will only start and Romano and Davis and Castillo have never pitched above AA anyway….so it makes sense that Reed, Stephenson and Garrett have earned an opportunity ahead of them anyway…..to join Feldman and finnegan….So aren’t we really only talking about Garrett then with clocks ? Dick Williams has said the rebuild process is moving on to the positive trajectory phase and Mack Jenkins has said Garrett will be given every opportunity…Which Garrett grabbed…Garrett is going to be a starter in week 1.

    • None of them have a track record in AAA that demands they be in the major leagues now. Garrett had a noticeable dip in production moving from AA to AAA last year in his short stint. Rookie Davis got beat up in AAA in his short stint, albeit he was pitching through stuff last year. Sal Romano hasn’t even made it to AAA yet. Banking on spring training stats is investing in fools gold. Lets see them get some experience against older AAA hitters. Show they can handle that level, and then bring them up.

  22. I certainly agree that it would be bad to start Garrett in Romano in MLB at start of season. As much as I would love to see them up in the bigs. Let them start in AAA until service time is not an issue. But for those that think in 10 days, two weeks or a month that they are going to push out the old guys, remember, this is the team that continued to pitch Gregg, Simon and Olander despite disastrous results.

  23. Can anyone give me a brief scouting report on Alejandro Chacin? He was lights out as a AA closer last year.

  24. Steve: I initially read this as a proposal to have all five pitch on opening day. I’m not sure why. I haven’t been smoking anything. I still believe that the reason for picking Feldman may have been to protect the inexperienced young pitchers from that particular pressure cooker, and I can see the sense in that. I also don’t think that the decision is such a big deal in the short or long term, but a bunch of smart people clearly disagree, so either I’m wrong or we all need the season to begin.

    • My vote is the latter, Green. I think both sides have some reasonable points. But this all seems to be a tempest in a teapot to me.

  25. Hey, the Reds game IS the game on MLB Network. WhiteSox announcers though.

  26. Big K of Frazier by Arroyo w/ Melky on 3B after a leadoff double. Now he needs to get Delmonico to get out of the 4th without allowing a run.

  27. If all 5 of these pitchers had pitched, and pitched reasonably well, in AAA last year then I could see bringing them up in the way you suggest.
    As it is Finnegan, Reed and Stephenson have already pitched in the big leagues so bring them up now.
    Garrett, Davis, and Romano though have 12, 5 and 0 starts above AA. Having them start the year in AAA is not just about service time, it’s about having them prove they are ready outside of a few innings in spring training.
    I am excited to watch how those 3 young pitchers progress and will be excited for their eventual call ups, hopefully later this year, but I see nothing wrong with having them start the year in Louisville.

  28. And Delmonico just went WAY deep on Arroyo. 2-0 WhiteSox, bottom of the 4th.

  29. On the offensive side, the Reds are without a base-runner against Quintana.

    • Lineup looks like a bench tryout. Not sure what 4 innings of arroyo and 2 run Homer tells us…He’s now pitched 7 innings in 3 years. Love the guy…But rather have the law firm of Garrett/Stephenson/ and Ross.

      • Lineup looks like a bench tryout. Not sure what 4 innings of arroyo and 2 run Homer tells us…He’s now pitched 7 innings in 3 years. Love the guy…But rather have the law firm of Garrett/Stephenson/ and Reed

  30. Peraza, following his M.O. this spring by getting the old PO/CS after getting on base.

  31. With all due respect, I completely disagree with this. I think Reed and Stephenson are fine to start in the majors, but you’re losing out on a YEAR of control for Garrett, Romano, and Davis by letting them start the year in the opening day rotation. By keeping them in the minors for roughly 20 days (almost nothing!), you get them for an additional year.

    The minuscule gain that you get now by starting them in the majors is absolutely not worth losing that year of control. As someone who preaches about smart front office decisions, I have to disagree with you this time. It seems rather short-sighted and impatient to me.

    I actually think that the Reds have taken this into consideration already and are planning on bringing up Romano, Davis, or Garrett (or a combination) as soon as they get that extra year of team control (although they could also leave them down until the Super 2 deadline – that would mean bringing them up in late June/July rather than April). The Reds have been preaching about how great Feldman has been in the past as a swingman – someone to go between being a starter and a reliever. I honestly think this is to cover themselves for when they move him to the bullpen after bringing up someone.

    I think the opening day rotation will be something like Feldman, Finnegan, Adleman, Arroyo, (waiver acquisition) or something similar. Arroyo and the waiver acquisition will be dropped after they bring up the prospects. Feldman or Adleman will be moved to the bullpen or waived.

    • I get Feldman….Although starting opening day is a downer. I respect Arroyo and sort of get giving him a shot….But he’s only pitched 7 innings this spring and in three years and by the way he hasn’t pitched a in 3 years…..Love the Bryan price bromance….which means he’s in the rotation…. there is zero chance Arroyo can be an effective starter….But that zero chance is still higher than adleman who is unacceptable….If Dick Williams marches out Feldman on opening day….And arroyo and Adleman in St Louis..He loses me….And Amir Garrett ….and is a fraud. Period.

      It’s not happening…Cody reed and Amir Garrett are pitching the first week…They just are.

      • Brace yourself for some disappointment, Old-School. I think the rotation will start out as Feldman, Finnegan, Stephenson, Reed and one of Arroyo/Adleman. Garrett is starting the year at AAA.

  32. Sorry Steve, that isn’t in the “Idiots Guide to MLB” that Price and the brass use to make decisions. It says don’t play young guys, they might not succeed every time out. It says play the retreads, who cares if they can’t buy a hit or throw a scoreless inning, they’re already empty shells of yesteryear.

    No, we are getting the “by the book” treatment. Save the young guys till their old, then roll them out when folks have stopped caring about them…they’re being prepared to be the next wave of Scott Feldmans, long forgotten and by then quite subpar.

    • You might be right, Michael, but your conclusion seems too big a leap to base on Adelman starting the opener. The rest of it might not fall into place in the way we all seem to fear.

  33. If this was next year, yes. Don’t waste the service time and cut a window short by a possible year. Love your articles Steve, but this seems to contradict any and everything that diehard Reds fans have wanted. If this is the mentality the Reds fans should have, than they also should have never traded Frazier, Bruce, Chapman etc… Why cater to the lowest common denominator fanbase and sacrifice the future just to have a feel good week one story that disappears within a month or two and gives the LCD reason to trash the youngsters?

  34. The problem with this is that the “filthy five” aren’t filthy. Reed has the most potential but he was 0-7 with a 7+ ERA last year. Stephenson wasn’t much better and can’t seem to get anyone out in spring training. Ramano hasn’t even pitched above AA. Garrett struggled at AAA. Davis wasn’t even considered a top prospect in the Yankees system and hasn’t pitched above AA. Finnegan has been mediocre and should be a reliever which is where he had great success in KC.

    • My impression is that Stephenson has been pretty good in Spring Training. I guess that the point is that, flaws and all, these are the young pitchers who, for now, look to be the next wave of starters. Because they’re young, past performances are not necessarily predictive. But I take your point.

    • Stephenson had one bad inning in his first spring start. Since then he has been one of the Reds best pitchers in camp. Reason 623,432 to not rely on spring training stats.

    • I don’t know? I think you might be off base a little bit? Finnegan had a 3.98 era last year and seemed to have better success as the year went on with the change-up! He needs to quit walking so many people but 3.98 in GABP isn’t that bad! He can be a decent 3rd-4th starter imo! Garrett had a 3.46 era at Lville….that’s not struggling? He’s got a good slider and has some potential. Romano and Stephenson are both young and throw hard so they need a long look! I’m big on making Lorenzen a starter myself! He throws a heavy sinker and could rack up some innings with quick groundball outs! Losing Disco hurt and this year might get ugly but give them a chance!

      • Not to mention this Luis Castillo kid is pretty interesting! He’s 24 and throws 100 mph and had a 2.26 era & 1.00 whip in the minors last year. I really enjoyed watching Straily pitch but some of you guys told me about Castillo and he looks promising! He’ll probably be in AAA pretty quickly and get a shot in Cincinnati this year.

        • Castillo will start the year in AA, where he has all of 14 IP so far. He was moved to starting in the middle of 2015 and saw his control improve with the move.

  35. Steve I don’t agree with you very often but honestly this is what I was hoping for due to the injuries.

    Rotation
    Garnett
    Reed
    Davis
    Stephenson
    Arroyo

    Feldman moves to the bullpen.

    I too have been saddened by the announcement of Feldman starting the opening day game. I am sure he will do ok. but I would rather see a kid given the shot.

  36. Sal Romano just struck out the side, two of them looking, including Braun. The kid is really showing some stuff this spring.

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