2017 Reds

TGIF: Trades, soft hits, the future

Here’s a little Friday grab bag for your reading pleasure.

Not Gonna Happen

With Monday’s July 31 trade deadline looming, circumstances are conspiring against Dick Williams and the Reds front office. It looks increasingly unlikely they’ll be able to make a trade of any importance to further the agenda of rebuilding a winning team.

  • Scott Feldman (injured)
  • Zack Cozart (injured)
  • Devin Mesoraco (too soon after injury)
  • Tony Cingrani (replacement level)
  • Drew Storen (replacement level)
  • Blake Wood (possible, but return would be small)

Here are remaining possibilities, contingent on finding a trading partner who is willing to pay full value (see: Marlins and Dan Straily):

  • Raisel Iglesias – Given salary, talent and length of control, would bring the biggest return. Remember: Always Be Trading Closers. Trade rumors about Iglesias have quieted.
  • Wandy Peralta – If  Always Be Trading Closers is a thing, then Always Be Trading Relievers is an even stronger corollary. Bullpen arms are moving this trade period.
  • Scooter Gennett – With the ongoing struggles of Jose Peraza and fragile shoulder of Dilson Herrera, there’s a case to hang on to Gennett based on a suddenly available path to Second Baseman of the Next Good Reds Team. On the other hand, the odds are that his future will look more like his expendable past with Milwaukee than his impressive four months. Classic sell high candidate.
  • Scott Schebler – Schebler’s value is being undercut by his recent slump. Would be classic sell low situation.
  • Adam Duvall – The case for keeping Duvall is that he’s cheap and valuable. The case for trading: He’s got value, about to turn 29 and Jesse Winker.
  • Billy Hamilton – Hamilton’s continued offensive weakness makes him replaceable. He’s about to enter his second arbitration season. His defense would have more value to a team with a large outfield than the Reds.

All that said, it would be a surprise if the Reds got anything of significance done. The players on the second list aren’t in the must-trade category.

The Hard Parade

One of the new statistics collected by StatCast is the exit velocity of balls hit by batters. That’s a number which can be averaged. It’s a new enough stat – only collected since 2015 – that research hasn’t drawn firm conclusions about what it means. Although it’s reasonable to make the assumption that other things equal, it’s better to hit a ball hard than soft. A simple eyeball test reveals the most productive hitters are toward the top of the list.

If you screen for major leaguers with at least 160 balls hit in play this year and sort by Average Exit Velocity (AEV), that produces 234 players – about 8 hitters per team.

At the very top, it’s no surprise to find Aaron Judge (95.7 mph). Judge is two mph ahead of second place Miguel Sano. A few other swing-for-the-fence guys are in the top five. Then you get to Paul Goldschmidt (91.8), Freddie Freeman (91.5), JD Martinez (91.5) and Bryce Harper (91.4). They’re in the top 12. In the next 12, you’ll find Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Correa and Cody Bellinger.

But not all the great hitters are at the top of the list. In the range of the top 75-90, you’ll find Mike Trout (88.9), Anthony Rizzo (88.4) and Nolan Arenado (88.3). There’s clearly a kind of hitter who is still highly productive but for some reason has a slightly lower AEV than the guys at the very top.

So the connection between Average Exit Velocity and Good Hitter is not anywhere near a lock-stop progression. But the players we recognize as strong, capable players at the plate are higher, rather than lower.

Here are where the Reds rate as of today in Average Exit Velocity (mph):

  • Scott Schebler (88.3)
  • Adam Duvall (88.2)
  • Joey Votto (87.0)
  • Scooter Gennett (87.0)
  • Eugenio Suarez (86.4)
  • Zack Cozart (86.3)
  • Tucker Barnhart (84.7)
  • Devin Mesoraco (83.6)
  • Michael Lorenzen (82.3)
  • Arismendy Alcantara (81.7)
  • Jose Peraza (81.6)
  • Brandon Finnegan (79.7)
  • Billy Hamilton (79.0)

The first four players are bottom-half of top-100 guys. After Zack Cozart, there’s a big drop.

Out of the 234 players with 160 balls hit, Jose Peraza ranks #229. Billy Hamilton ranks #234, nearly a full mph below #233, Dee Gordon. Hamilton’s year-to-year AEV:

  • 2015 – 79.3 mph
  • 2016 – 79.8 mph
  • 2017 – 79.0 mph

Not much corner turning.

Power/Speed/Youth Combinations

Baseball America just released its Top 10 players with power/speed combinations in the minor leagues. You’ll find two players from the Reds organization – Taylor Trammell (#8) and Jose Siri (#10) – on the list.

On Taylor Trammell:

“The Reds flexed financial muscle in the past two drafts, signing No. 2 overall picks Nick Senzel and Hunter Greene to the highest bonuses in their classes. But don’t overlook the athletic Trammell, a Georgia prep outfielder who shows advanced base stealing instincts now but will develop power as he matures.”

Hard not to be excited about this 19-year-old’s future.

About Jose Siri:

“Siri has a chance to lead the Midwest League in home runs and stolen bases this season, and he would get more play here if he weren’t 22 years old and a fifth-year pro. The right-handed batting Dominican showcases blazing speed and a quick bat, but he must prove his wild hitting approach will work at higher levels.”

Lots of good here, but you hate to see “wild hitting approach” mentioned.

94 thoughts on “TGIF: Trades, soft hits, the future

  1. The future, the Rebuild plan are as clear as mud right now. Question marks at every possible position except 1B. Question marks about every pitcher. Question marks on the bench. Question marks in the bullpen. A question mark here, a question mark there. Here a question mark, there a question mark, everywhere a question mark.
    The Reds Ownership and front office look like baseball mind midgets in a land of baseball mind giants.
    Dick Williams may be an Ivy Leaguer, but he is also a graduate of the Walt Flounder Jocketty School of Standing Pat. I don’t see any positives moves being made by this front office at this trade deadline.
    The Rebuild needs re-building. Place Lorenzen, Suarez, Schebler, Hamilton, Peraza, and RStephenson, Reed, and Garrett all on the trading block.
    Build around Votto, Duvall, Winker, Gennett, Castillo, Mahle and Iglesias.
    Overhaul the Rebuild.

    • I concur. Not really sure what the plan is at this point. Very little has been figured out in regards to position players. Votto is the only constant. The Reds are near the bottom in runs scored in the NL with career/outller performances from two middle infielders.
      The last two top draft picks are a step in the right direction.
      Seems the Reds tried to rebuild with young pitching, interesting strategy considering pitchers get hurt. Now the Reds have learned little and the pitching results are terrible.
      At least they have kept one of their top prospects in the minors during a rebuild and given Schebler over 400 AB’s.
      Sad times to be a Reds fan

    • Good question. I think it must, because otherwise there wouldn’t be pitchers so high (Strasburg 81.9 mph is another example). I’ve looked and looked for that answer and can’t find it.

      But in a sense, it doesn’t matter. Hamilton doesn’t bunt much. And bunt singles don’t drive in too many runs or result in extra base hits. Bunts may help batters get on base once in a while, but they aren’t very productive offense.

    • I’d be interested to see how average exit velocity compares to median exit velocity.

      • He claims the overall average he gave included bunts… It is an assumption that individual numbers include bunts.

        Like Steve mentioned above, there’s no way individual numbers include bunts otherwise pitchers would be down in the 50s and 60s.

        I can’t find it, but I recall someone asking one of the FG guys in an online chat the same question and they said no, bunts not included.

  2. I think Jose Siri will have to learn plate discipline at the higher levels. If he can mash it like he’s doing at this level, doubles being better than walks, why take a walk? Better competition will force the issue for him. Plus, he just turned 22 a mere 5 days ago, so he isn’t really that old for his level. He could jump two levels next year, and he would be only barely 23 at AA.

    As to Always Be Trading Closers/Relievers, it is trumped here by Always Be Keeping Talented Cheap/Controllable Players. I’d rather have a cheap Wandy Peralta than a cheap Who-Knows-What, who might turn into the next Chad Mottola or Nick Howard.

    • Doesn’t Peralta have 3 pitches? I keep thinking that he would look good in the rotation and when Finnegan returns, he moves into the pen post surgery.

  3. The real question that Reds’ fans should ask themselves is……”Is there a rebuild plan, or is Reds’ management just throwing crap up against the wall to see what sticks?”

    For YEARS, the Reds have placed a priority on drafting pitchers in the amateur draft. So….where is the payoff? I see ONE pitcher that the Reds have drafted in recent years in the ML and actually worth something, Michael Lorenzen.

    Cingrani has crapped away what value he once had a few years ago.
    Robert Stephenson, despite being ballyhooed as a Top Prospect, is nothing of the sort. Sal Romano looks promising, but too soon to tell. Luis Castillo came out of someone else’s farm system, as did Wandy Peralta. There are others in the Minors that can yet be promoted and be lousy.

    I grade the Big Brains running this team as failed. There is no there…there. There is no REBUILD. It is just a word tossed about when the fans are listening and want some hope for the future.

    The last pitcher the Reds drafted to be a ML success was Mike Leake. Brad Boxberger got traded away (some success elsewhere).

    They are in last place for a reason, and will remain there for some time to come, unless something drastic changes.

  4. Of course they have a plan but at this point I cannot imagine the season is going according to their plan. The question is if they will have the resiliency to make the necessary changes and figure out how to push through the headwinds

    • LOL, Rolling on the floor.
      This team?
      I wish
      PS,
      I am a reads fam from 1970.
      I have supported them through thick and thin.
      We are back in the thin AGAIN.

  5. I have know idea what the Average Exit Velocity proves other than the higher averages are usually posted by big-mashers.

    Does a HR hit with a 100 mph AEV count more than one hit at 90 mph?

    • Yes. Because 90 mph batted balls aren’t home runs 99.99% of the time. They’ll never travel far enough x for 1 a year at Yankee stadium. Inside the 315 foul pole.

    • It’s another way to determine if the numbers we see like batting average and slugging are real measure of a player’s skill, or if there is some variance/luck going on.

      Take Ryan Zimmerman for example. Last year, he had one of the best EVs in baseball, but poor results. Lots of people pointed to the EV and said he’ll bounce back, he’s hitting the ball hard… and he definitely bounced back.

      Also, we can take data like this and definitively say Billy Hamilton will never be a good hitter no matter how much he practices. He’s not strong enough to do enough damage.

  6. This front office thinks the team is on the verge of a World Series Championship, that’s why they will not consider dealing Raisel Iglesias, Duvall, Votto, et al. They actually believe this team is close.

    • There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the front office thinks this team is close to contending for a world championship. Yes, they often put a positive spin on things in order to sell tickets but no sane person thinks this team is close to a championship

      There is also nothing to suggest they wouldn’t trade Iglesias and/or Duvall in a second if the right deal arose. Even if the Reds were 100% committed to trading Votto that would be almost impossible to pull off.

      • How do you know what the FO thinks?

        You are always so quick to shoot down or denigrate someone’s thoughts or person. You also fall into the trap when someone is being facetious. Do you have an inferiority complex?

        I knew you would reply just the way you did to what I wrote.

        There are many times that I read something you have contributed that I think is totally incomprehensible, and in deference to your right to contribute to this board I refrain from criticism.

  7. My plan is that Hunter Greene turns into Doc Gooden (minus the coke) and is blowing people away for the Reds in 2019. Siri turns into Vlad Guerrero. Senzel will already be Scott Rolen and Castillo will be equal parts Mario Soto/Pedro Martinez. My plan has about the same chance to work as the Reds “plan”.

    • The trouble with that fantasy of Greene being Gooden is there is NO chance he’ll not be full-on babied for several years. He’ll not break 120 innings next year. Probably not 140 the year after. They most certainly won’t rush him to MLB even if he is stunning everyone in spring training. I just can’t see the REds brass with enough balls to do that. They’ll say he might stick and then he wont’. They’ll say he may be promoted soon, but he’ll instead be shut down to limit his innings….I’d say 2021 is the earliest we’d see a legitimate shot at full time MLB duties and that aggressively assumes he has been doing very well and everything they’ve asked.

    • Put it this way, if the exact same Gooden were drafted with the Reds he would not be mowing down MLB hitters at age 20 with the Reds, more like high A hitters and AAA hitters at age 23.

  8. After doing some casual fan stuff, and looking at other team’s minor league rosters, etc., I am now firmly in the camp of drafting the best position players possible. Then when they develop, trade them for somebody else’s pitchers close to the majors, or sign proven pitchers as free agents. Draft enough pitchers to staff out your minor leagues. Developing pitchers is just too hit and miss. Hunter Greene has less than a 50% chance of making it to the Majors as a pitcher, by my own person stupid guess.

    The Reds have wasted YEARS and lost games, lost revenue (fans) and a host of other maladies based on this notion of staffing up the minors with talented pitchers, drafted high up in the draft.

    • Ok….well give me Hunter Greene at shortstop then? I’d take him at 18 over Peraza. You bring up a good point though….that’s what Theo Epstein did with the Cubs. Mike Leake was a great college pitcher. Those guys are a lot closer but high school pitchers are a complete crapshoot!

    • This was the Cubs strategy under Theo Epstein. They brought on position players like Rizzo, Russell, Bryant etc. through draft and trade and developed them. Then when they were right about to contend, they dipped into the free agent market for Arietta, Lester and Lackey. That strategy – which they stated explicitly – was based on the idea that the kind of position players they were looking for – power and OBP skills – were relatively scarce and developing pitching was risky. Hard to argue with the results.

      • The Cubs strategy is a fine one, backed by their ability to spend on pitching when whenever they need to do so.

        Theo seems to have taken Billy Beane’s “never draft a high school pitcher” mantra and tightened it even further. It makes me a little nervous for Hunter Greene. At least SS is an option if pitching fails.

      • Yeah. The Cubs plan worked last year. Now their staff is old and farm system is almost back to average from all the trades. There isn’t a fool proof plan. Developing pitching is risky but it seems so to is taking on older pitchers.

        • But they’re flying a WS pennant now. I’d take having to start over if that was the tradeoff…

        • Between Arrietta, Lackey and Montero’s expiring contracts they’ll have 40 million to spend over the winter…..while there is no foolproof plan, there’s was pretty damn close

  9. I’d trade Hamilton and take my chances with whomever we’d fill in with. He’s the same guy as he was in the offseason and there was quite a bit of hot stove heat around him. put him in a package with Iglesias and you’d get a player of significance in return.

  10. This tweet by Ken Rosenthal got me to thinking.
    “Sources: #Cubs still looking for backup catcher, but #Tigers’ Avila not current priority. One of names on list. Seeking defense-first type.”

    I am not attached to Tucker Barnhart as some. I like him, but he isn’t an untouchable.

    26 1/2 year old C Tucker Barnhart for 24 year old C Victor Caratini. Caratini is a highly regarded C prospect with Chicago, but has hit only .172 with them. They already have Contreras. Barnhart, for a defense first C, has been offensively consistent. He hit .257/.323/.379 in 2016 and has hit .258/.317/.380 in 2017. A few years of team control too.

    Williams might want to throw a scent of Barnhart towards the Cubs and see if it draws some attention. The Cubs are not looking to get outdone by anyone. They might part with Caratini.

      • At this point Scott we can’t beat anybody in the division. As bad as the Reds are and will be they should be trading with everybody.

    • It’s an interesting idea. My concern is that the Cubs have been very public about wanting a defensive oriented back up catcher……way too public….that perhaps they’re just trying to drive up the price and run out the clock on other teams. They seem to be doing the same thing with Sonny Gray.

      My guess would be the Cubs want Mesoraco since they can easily afford him at 13 million for next year and likely feel like they can flip him to an AL team over the winter if he performs. Mesoraco would be a great bat off the bench and would only need to catch once a week. If the Reds wind up with a decent prospect and 13 million in salary relief they’ll bite. The Cubs don’t care about money and Mesoraco is likely a 1.5 year rental for them.

      • It would be nice to get out from that $13M owed to Devin for 2018. That would be something to parlay that $13M into a starting pitcher. I just don’t know if he has demonstrated enough on the field to get the Cubs to bite on that one. I think they would likely go after Avila before Mes.

  11. Did I miss something about Storen?- would think a ERA +176 would not be replacement level- I know the K’s are low but would think he would be more valuable than Wood

  12. I don’t think the Reds can win with the core they have. There is way to much free swinging at balls outside the strike Zone and very little contact at a lot of pitches in the Zone. I think Suarez has a shot, if he can learn to layoff the low outside pitch, I think Duvall will always swing and miss a lot but has shown the ability to put the the ball in play consistently and to take a walk and with the bottom of the lineup and Billy Hamilton in leadoff all pitchers have to do right now is pitch around our 4, 5 and 6 guys and hopefully get them to chase a bad pitch. The early bad swings lead to having to swing at a borderline pitch. Very few batters (on the Reds team have shown a consistent ability to foul off a two strike pitch. And Outside of Votto, Suarez and Cozart there is no one on the Reds team that has at least 30 BB’s. We need more OBP hitters.

  13. Scott the Reds don’t value getting on base.Ideally you would want a player that hits with power and gets on base but if you had to take one it would be getting on base.Our problem is we have too many guys that have no power and don’t get on base.Therefore as you said the opposing pitcher just pitches around hitters or in some cases says here hit it and we cant.Last night against a lefty was a classic example with Billy,Peraza,Tucker the pitcher having no power and then Scooter who can’t hit lefties at all.Just to many holes in our offense and when the other 4 guys are struggling we are done for which is exactly what is happening.We play short handed every game offensively.

    • I wouldn’t say the Reds don’t value OBP. I think from Dick Williams’s reddit chat a week or so ago, it seems he is a proponent of sabermetrics and I was heartened by a lot of things he said. I think lineup construction is more on Price who seems to be an old school line of thinking kind of guy eg. speed at the leadoff spot, save your best relief pitcher only for save situations, misuse of bunts etc.

    • I think the Reds value getting on base….The problem is everyone values getting on base and it’s prohibiitively expensive on the open market and highly sought after for prospects. It’s a skill that can be improved and refined but not necessarily developed.

  14. I guess we’ll really have an idea about the “rebuild” on 8/1. If Cozart isn’t healthy enough to be traded, he needs to go on the DL immediately. Call up Blandino and let Scooter/Peraza/Blandino/Suarez rotate SS/3B/2B in some order to get them all at bats. Blandino is 24, has a 128 wRC+ in AAA after hitting well in AA. The Reds need to see what he can do.

    They need to bring up Winker for sure and Ervin i’d argue. Let Ervin split time with Billy in CF and Winker start 5 games a week in the corner outfield. If the Reds aren’t willing to make those moves on August 1, they aren’t serious about this rebuild.

      • Blandino is not a major league player. Reds still ma be able to move Cozart in August but they will not get much more than a bag of balls in either July or August.

        • I’m thinking that Blandino is just another stop-gap player until Senzel’s arrival.

  15. I honestly believe a Managerial change is due. And it’s not because I dislike Price. The Reds badly need a change in culture. This team/Org. has become too content with loosing. I think they need a Manager that has either won a lot as a player or a Manager. Personally I’d like to see them interview David Ross.

    • While we don’t know if David Ross would be a good manager, he CAN shake his booty. That’s got to be good for something.

  16. Friday July 29th at 6:45 PM & still no trade action. Facts are that the Reds have neither the roster or the prospects to become anything more than a mediocre team in the next several years. Standing pat this trading deadline is akin to throwing in the towel on 2018.

    • My mom is an antique dealer/hoarder. She has next to nothing that anyone would want including storage costs. I’m having a bonfire when the time comes! The Reds are in the same boat unless they want to deal Iglesias or Duvall and then have a huge hole in the pen or LF?

      • I like Iglesias and Duvall a lot as players for the Reds. There is a “fan” factor to consider, and that some fans actually like these players and identify them with the team. People that are still coming to the games want a reason to come to the games.
        Having said that, a trade is good if it strengthens the team. It has to be proven to me that they can get value back for those players, if traded. I don’t want a raft of A, High A or AA “highly rated prospects”, that pushes the horizon for winning back more years.
        If we trade Duvall, I want a real ML starting pitcher. The Reds’ starting pitching is killing them, which everybody realizes. Trading Iglesias is harder, because there are a limited number of teams that would value him high enough to give the Reds’ what they want in return.

      • OK I’ll bite. The Reds can lose 95 games with Duvall & Iglesias. There are few babies & one very large tub of bathwater.

  17. There are precious few players on the 40 man that would make me cringe if they traded them. If I woke up on 8/1 and saw they traded Iglesias, Duvall, Cozart and Storen, I’d be pretty happy, assuming of course they got some interesting pieces for them that only added to high-ceiling talent.

    • I am afraid if they traded this guys, they would want 5 more Jose Peraza.
      That is the guy Walt was will to give Chapman for.

  18. Thought it m’ight be interesting to contrast Billy’s exit stats with Ichiro Suzuki’s using 2016 data:

    Both slight in build (IS, 5’11″/175#..BH, 6’0″/160#). Neither power hitters (IC MaxHR 394..BH MAxHR 386).

    IC AvgEV, 83.7..BH AvgEV 79.8. IC AvgFEV 86.7..BH AvgFEV 84.6. IC AvgGEV 83.6..BH AvgGEV 77.1. IC Avg.Dist 145..BH.Avg.Dist 146. IC Barreled Balls/PA .5%..BH Barrled Balls/PA .2%.

    The biggest difference seems to be in ground balls…Billy’s ground balls are much weaker. Also, Billy had 93 SO in 119 games. Ichiro had 42 SO in 143 games.

    I don’t think Billy’s problem is power per se…its contact (and SOs)…he doesn’t have the discipline or bat control of Suzuki.

  19. Suzuki will be elected to thei the Hall of Fame. Hamilton will need to buy a ticket.

  20. Been stirring it up and forgot to comment on this OP. Good stuff. I wonder if BB velocity is more important in the defensive shift era. The adage once was “hit em where they ain’t” but now with shifts could hitter strengths be robbed if not hit hard enough?

    Know what I mean? Would Tony Gwynn have been such a good hitter playing the present day Pittsburgh Pirates all the time?

  21. There are now 2 prospects that I would consider untouchable: Senzel and Greene. Castillo and Mahle are also intriguing possibilities. These are 4 pluses for Dick Williams regime.

  22. Mahle: 15 of 20, quality starts between AA & AAA this season.

    I think it’s time to make room for him on the 40 and have him pitching for the bug club. Be bold Mr. Williams!

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