Welcome to the 2019 season here at Redleg Nation! Thank you for sharing your time with us.

During the opening day team introduction, did you find yourself having difficulty keeping track of who was who? I did. That’s because in addition to the new manager and coaching staff, about half the current Reds players were not on the opening day roster just a year at the start of the 2018 season.  To repeat, about half the current 25 man active roster was not on the 2018 opening day roster! Let’s hope this significant roster rollover yields positive results in 2019 and beyond.

 

Let’s Meet A Missing Man

One guy missing from the opening day roster will hopefully soon play a large part in making 2019 a turnaround season for the Reds.  And no, I’m not loading up for yet another Nick Senzel service time rant…..

The missing man on my mind is lefty Alex Wood. He came to the Reds as part of the off season trade with the Dodgers which sent Homer Bailey off the Reds books.  Wood was set to join the Reds rotation giving them what has  been an elusive quantity, an established  left handed starting pitcher. However, Wood suffered an issue with back spasms early in spring training which will force him to open the season on the disabled injured list. Fortunately he is expected back in mid April. Here is the breakdown on Wood:

Background

  • Alex Wood is 28-years-old.
  • The Braves drafted Wood #85 overall in the 2012. He made his MLB debut in 2013 with the Braves.
  • In 2015 Wood was  traded to the Dodgers in the same 3 team deal (Braves/ Dodgers/ Marlins) which sent current Red Jose Peraza to the Dodgers.  Want to  really impress folks around the water cooler?  Mention that  the same deal also sent former Reds Bronson Arroyo (from Braves) and Mat Latos (from Marlins) to the Dodgers.
  • Wood’s 2019 salary is $9.65M.
  • Wood is eligible to become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Performance to Date

  • Wood has made 172 MLB appearances; 129 are as a starter.
  • Over his career, Wood has averaged just a tad less than 6 innings per start (5 2/3+).
  • Wood’s FIP/ xFIP  is 3.42/3.55 as a starter
  • Career bWAR 11.6; fWAR  13.7

Wood’s outcome metrics  as a starter seem to portend he should fare well at GABP.  His ground ball rate is nearly 50%. His strikeout rate is ~22% with a walk rate of ~7%. He sports  a 1.22 WHIP,  His fly ball rate is around 29% with a HR/FB rate of 10.5% and an HR/9 rate of just 0.85.

Pitches

Wood’s primary fastball is a sinker. Over his career he has thrown the sinker about 55% of the time at an average speed of around 90. However Wood made a notable change in his repertoire and pitch selection  in 2018. He replaced  his curve ball with a slider. In 2018 he threw the  slider (82 MPH average) just over 30% of the time while decreasing his sinker rate to 43% . His third pitch is a  mid 80’s MPH change up.

Conclusion

Alex Wood is not a top of the rotation world beater. He did not came to most of our thoughts when Bob Castellini  said the Reds were going to get the pitching. Nonetheless once healthy Wood should provide the Reds with a reliable middle rotation left handed starting pitcher.  The Reds have long lacked that commodity in their rotation. If Wood pitches well but the team is not posting strong results,  he will be a valuable mid season trade asset. And most of all, isn’t  it wonderful that the Reds have enough depth at starting pitching that Wood making a late appearance doesn’t feel like a season killer!

 

The Wrap

As promised above, there will be no Nick Senzel service time rant here today.  Instead I’ll say service time manipulation is a symptom of greater issues with baseball’s compensation system. Baseball appears to be teetering on the precipice of a labor war such as it hasn’t been in 25 years. That meltdown nearly destroyed baseball. MLB needs to make changes to survive and prosper into the future. I have some ideas about alternatives MLB and the MLBPA could pursue. Please let me know in the comments section or on Twitter (@jn_walkerjr) if this is a subject you’d enjoy exploring with me here at Redleg Nation.  Go Reds!

 

Stats and data courtesy of  Fangraphs and Baseball Reference

 

19 Responses

  1. j reis

    Woods’ injury may actually be a blessing in disguise for the reds. this will give some much needed starts for Mahle and then, when he returns, we can transition Mahle to the bullpen for the rest of the year. After yesterday’s game it is obvious or bullpen id going to needs some stabilization and Mahle could be that stabilizing force out of the pen this year.

    • Armo21

      j reis
      Don’t disagree that the bullpen could use some help.

      IMHO, Mahle is a starter and when Wood is healthy, Mahle should be in AAA working on his secondary pitches. The Reds need Mahle to reach his ceiling as a starter for 2020. I think he will be a good 6th starter this year and will get some MLB innings.

      Would love to see the Reds go after Kimbrel or trade w/ SF Giants for someone like Will Smith to add to the bullpen.

    • gary

      don’t ever think its a blessing when your #1 starter is missing time.

  2. Colorado Red

    Baseball needs a few things.
    1. A draft lottery, so if you have the worst record in BB, you can still draft as low a 4th.
    2. A salary floor, Even though the Reds have done it, this tanking is bad for the game.
    3. Service time is accrued if you spend 81 days on the roster.
    4. two more playoff teams.

    This is encourage teams to win.

  3. Joe Blow

    Would love to hear your thoughts on how to avert a strike.

    • ohiojimw

      I believe the sad news is that it might be nearly impossible to avoid some type of work stoppage this time around.

      Somewhat under the public radar, the players’ association brought in Bruce Meyer to be their chief negotiator.

      https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/bruce-meyer

      Meyer was most recently with former MLBPA head Don Fehr at the NHLPA where Fehr is now the head honcho. Prior to that gig Meyer was involved with the NBAPA.

      So, what’s this spell? Meyer was instrumental in getting the players a fixed % of the revenue pie at both previous stops. Look for a fight over how eligible revenue is defined and then probably a bigger one over what % goes to the player salary pool. Along the way the terms of team player control and service time could well shift dramatically. Buckle up for rough air and turbulence ahead.

  4. John G

    How bout a set % of revenue must be spent on salaries and if the team doesn’t meet that they have to pay a penalty

    • ohiojimw

      Yes but what % of which revenue? Devil in the details!

    • Sabr Chris

      By some reporting MLB the only league without a salary cap, pays the lowest percentage of league revenues to player payroll.

      • ohiojimw

        Think you are probably correct about MLB and the %. I was having a “conversation” on Twitter with someone about this recently; and, this person who has more familiarity than I with it said he thought baseball was somewhere in the 40-50% range depending on how revenue was calculated and what was considered spending on players. I’ve done some research on the NHL and their % is locked in at I believe around 58%. I have no idea on the NBA or NFL.

        Of course MLB ownership said in the high end of the range and players the lower end. But, the % has dropped even as MLB has tapped into greater and greater amounts of revenue.

        Also consider that MLB is going to reap a huge take once legalized gambling is up and running; and it is easy to see why storm clouds are on the horizon.

  5. Michael Smith

    The NBA is in a band from 49-51%, the nfl is a hair lower. The NBA is the model I would follow. After very tough labor strife they found common ground, opened up the books and came to an agreement that is fair for all parties. Shockingly they are no rumblings from the union in that league.

  6. VADA

    Scrap the ENTIRE salary system as it exists. Replace it with a system where ALL players get paid the SAME BASE SALARY, say $1M. Any extra income MUST BE EARNED according to the players PERFORMANCE. If Votto had such a contract the Reds would have hadMUCH more income available for a top notch pitcher this year. Fans are interested in player’s PERFORMANCE not how big a contract they can SCAM from owners (and ultimately the fans). Bryce Harper could hit 2 HR’s a game all year, every year, and he still isn’t worth the contract size the Phillies agreed to pay him. You can’t find ONE SINGLE REDS fan who earns what these players receive, yet, I bet they are MORE MOTIVATED and DEDICATED employees and valuable assets to their employer. It’s the FAN who is getting the raw end of the deal. How much longer will they continue to be USED by these players by their paying INCOME DEMANDS in cost for tickets and food at the park, not to mention higher CABLE costs to watch games online or on TV. As the fans begins to trickle away so too will salaries drop. I suggest one HUGE change to upcoming player’s negotiations: give FINAL APPROVAL to the fans on any changes. Do this by fans voting like they do for All Star balloting. As things stand now the FAN is COMPLETELY left out of the process, yet who is the one who ends up getting screwed. Yet, without the fans baseball disappears.This GREED, whether player or owner, will EVENTUALLY destroy the sport. The fan’s pockets are only SO DEEP. Think about this: it’s only a GAME for Pete’s Sake.

    • Doug Gray

      Baseball generated $10,300,000,000 in revenue last year. It isn’t only a game. It’s a business. A very, very, very valuable one.

      Also, player salaries are not tied at all to the price of tickets. Or food. Or beer.

    • KDJ

      In general, I agree. It is had to sympathize with a person whining over salary who makes ~ $10 million for playing a seasonal sport.

    • Doc

      In essentially any other business the customer votes with his or her feet. Same here. Since the first strike however long ago, I have been to no more than a handful of games, if that, and I don’t watch baseball on TV. I don’t complain about $8 hamburgers at Goodyear, I just don’t buy them. I buy a 44oz souvenir cup of diet coke for $8, then refill for $2.50 the rest of the ST games I attend. That price is as good as a large at Whataburger! Another strike and even what little I spend will go away. These guys make more in a year playing baseball than I made in a career practicing medicine; they get no sympathy from me.

  7. BK

    What does an article about Wood have to do with Senzel or the CBA? That said, I enjoyed the main point about Wood.

  8. Sandman

    You know, it’s amazing (sometimes) how just a little bit of time can change perspectives.

    During the rebuild most everybody seemed to be on board with this service time manipulation. And now, we’re spitting venom at the Reds for doing this (even though the Reds say they aren’t doing this….at least in Senzel’s case…which no one seems to believe).

    The point of my comments are not to argue for or against service time manipulation. My comments are also not an argument for or against when an appropriate time for this practice is to be used. I fully understand that during a rebuild it’s acceptable but now that we’re trying to win and/or be competitive it may not be so much.

    My comments are simply to point out the sharp turnaround in the level of tolerance or acceptance of this practice and the absolute vitriol being spewed against it now. It’s just surprising is all. Stark contrast and all that jazz.

  9. ToBeDetermined

    Jim
    “And most of all, isn’t it wonderful that the Reds have enough depth at starting pitching that Wood making a late appearance doesn’t feel like a season killer!”
    Amen to that.

    I recall one of the first interviews they had with Brian Price when he became manager and they had a pretty good team. But, I was surprised to here that he talked about the need to greatly increase the depth of talent in the entire organization.
    So I think that was something they have began emphasizing for quite a number of years.

  10. LWBlogger2

    Good stuff Jim. I’m sorry I didn’t get to it sooner…. As for a discussion about baseball labor/management relations in a future piece, I’d be all for it.