Thursday, February 26, 2009
-Chris Dickerson is filming videos for USA Today. He seems like a smart kid who reads Marketing Strategy books and started his own website for environmentally conscious players. Hey, at least it is better then being a drunk, degenerate athlete.
-SI.com takes a look at the Reds and compares them to the 2008 Rays. There are some similarities. Jonny Gomes comes to mind. Other then that, I don't really see it but CHONE projections has the Reds at 82-80. I would take that for now and that is much smarter then me.
-Maybe Taveras will be better then some think. I think he will be better then most think. He can't be any worse then this man.
Back with more tomorrow and probably another Get the Reds Out.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
-Another HUGE night in hoops. The marquee matchup comes in the Big East where UConn travels up to Canada Lite (Wisconsin) to take on Marquette. Vegas has it as a pick 'em. I have to go with Marquette. They are a veteran team with great guard play and have the home court advantage. Also, it is Ash Wednesday which is kind of a big deal at a Catholic University such as Marquette. How can you go against God?
Elsewhere, Duke goes up to College Park to take on the Turtles, who beat UNC last weekend. Should be a close game until the refs make some questionable calls and Duke with by 5. But hey, they get to reminise on the glory days in a few weeks. Also in the ACC, Clemson faces a desperate Virginia Polytech. I don't really plan to watch seeing as how both would be somewhere between 6 and 9 in the Big East but in the end, Clemson will pull it out. The best team no one is talking about, Mizzu, plays K State at 9. Mizzu should whip them with ease as they get closer to a 2 or 3 seed. The conference nobody cares about (SEC) features two elinimation game meaning the loser will have ahard time making the tournament. One has the UK Mildcats heading to Columbia to face to USC Jr. Gamecocks (The real USC is in L.A.) The other pits Mississippi State against the second best basketball team in Knoxville. Both should be close because all the teams in the conference are middle of the road so I will take the two home teams, the Vols and Gamecocks.
-Eat this Reggie Miller and your 8 points in 10 seconds.
-For my colleauge who hates the idea of a salary cap, someone else thinks it wouldn't be a bad thing.
-Champions League is back in the round of 16. First leg yesterday and today with the second legs coming in a few weeks. The way it works, for those who don't know, is each team gets one home game and at the end, the aggregate score winner moves on. If it is tied after that, whoever scored the most away goals wins. If still tied they go into two 15 minute periods. If still tied then shootouts. Let me give you an example. Team A wins the first leg at home over Team B, 2-1. In the second leg, Team B must win by at least 1 goal. If they win by 2, they will win on aggregate. If they win 1-0 they win beacause while the aggreagate is still 2-2, they scored an away goal and Team A did not. If Team B wins 3-2, they would lose because Team A would have score 2 aways goals to Team B's 1 even though they tied 4-4 on aggregate. If the score is an identical 2-1 game, they would move to extra time and possibly a shootout. Hope that helps. You could also go right here. Probably should have linked that earlier.
-Finally, from the so-your-telling-me-there's-a-chance department, it seems some benchwarmer married this girl:
We can all dream can't we.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Starter - Jay Bruce (.254/.314/.453. OPS+ of 96)
He turns 22 around opening day and will be at this position for years to come. Hailed as one of the best prospects in the game going into last season, he did not disappoint. His scorching start cooled as teams saw him a second and third time but he adjusted. After tearing up May and June with a .297/.348/.426, his July and August numbers went down to .239/.277/.421. After Griffey left and gave him RF as his permanent spot in September, he hit .256/.351/.573 which is amazing for a 21 year old rookie. I think his struggle in the middle months was inevitable because teams were adjusting to him but the way he came back in September was encouraging. He learned what it was like to be a major leaguer and having to change your approach to be successful. I expect a breakout year for him now that he has an everyday job and everyday position. He should go .275/.335/.470 with 25 HR's and 95 RBI's while joining Votto and Phillips as the young leaders of the team.
Starter - Willy Taveras (.251/.308/.296, OPS+ of 56)
Backup - Jerry Hairston Jr.
Last season was rough for Willy. He regressed in every hitting category from his '07 .320/.367/.382 but managed to steal more bases. He went 68 for 75 on the basepaths for an amazing 91%. Dusty plans on using him as the leadoff hitter, which is based purely on his SBs and discounts the fact that he doesn't get on base. He is moving from Coors to Great American which isn't much of a change and if he can just get on base, things could be good. His defense is average so there is not a loss there and he is still fairly young having just turned 27 on Christmas so improvment is not out of the question. I think he will benefit from the change of scenery and put up numbers closer to '07. If not there is always a replacement waiting.
Starter - ?
Backup - ?
This is the biggest crapshoot on the team. The Reds spent the entire offseason looking for an everyday right-handed power bat to go here. I had an idea. The team looked into Jermaine Dye. In the end, nothing happened. Now the Reds have a bunch of guys, none of which is a everyday power hitting right-hander. Most see the front runner as Chris Dickerson. He did great in his late season call up going .304/.413/.608, OPS+ of 160. Of course that was in only 102 AB's and they were the best 102 AB's he has had at any professional level ever, so I am guessing he is not the second coming of Albert Pujols. He is left handed and his OPS fell by 200 points against left handers so he is not exactly what the Reds had in mind. He is still a 26 year old rookie who can improve and deserves a chance to play everyday sometime just so the Reds can see what they have. I think he will make the team and platoon with Hairston until he gets his feet wet or Hairston gets injured. The other players up for this spot are Jaque Jones, Johnny Gomes, Lance Nix, and Norris Hopper. The first 3 are non-roster invites and there is a reason. Hopper looked to be an up and comer until he missed almost all of last season with an injury. He hit .329/.379/.388 in his only extended major league appearance which was 307 AB's in 2007. Those numbers would be great at the top of the order if he is healthy and Taveras and/or Dickerson struggle or get hurt. I think Dickerson and Hopper make the club along with Hariston because of his versatility. That leaves one extra spot between the non-roster invites. I think it goes to Gomes because he is a right handed power bat. He doesn't hit for average or get on base so he is not an everyday player but he is a strong bat on the bench. I want him to make it for personal reasons. He brings a certain fire to the team. Also, he did something I think we all want to do, beat the crap out of the Red Sox:
The outfield should be Bruce, Taveras, and a platoon of Hairston/Hopper and Dickerson. Bruce is the only bat that would scare most teams but if the other two positions can improve and play at their best, the outfield will at least be adequate. Any struggles or injuries and the outfield will turn into Bruce and 2 automatic outs. The defense should be improved without Griffey and Dunn, but that is pretty much a given.
This concludes out look at the Reds by positions. Games begin tomorrow with the Reds taking on the Devil Rays. The run to the 2009 pennant begins then. For the Devil Rays, of course.
Monday, February 23, 2009
-2 weeks remaning in college basketball and teams are fighting for bids like fat kids fight for twinkees. March madness is close, which mean so it this guy. Pitt, UConn, and UNC are probably the best teams right now with the Oklahoma Griffins right there if healthy. The rest of the top 10 can make a run if hot but have glaring weaknesses. I always love when people argue over bubble teams. These are teams that are clearly not in the top 25 and have a 1% chance of making any impact in the tournament yet will be discussed for hours on end.Think about that next time you see people arguing over who should get in, Kentucky or Arizona (Arizona every time). Anyway, good slate of games tonight with Louisville playing a desperate team fighting for a bid on the road. Where have I see that before? I will take Georgetown to get the win tonight. In the other game, Oklahoma takes on Kansas. Griffin may or may not play. I think he sits because there is no need to risk further damage when he would be better served resting until the real tourny. Kansas should beat the other Sooners.
-Tiger Woods finally returns to golf this week. It is about time. It was strange that they cancelled all the tournaments up until now. Wait, you mean they actually played them. Funny, I didn't hear a word about them. What are they going to do when Tiger wins his 20th major in a few years and retires?
-The Oscars were last night and Slumdog Millionaire cleaned up. Hey, at least it is better then Titanic.
-Conan O'Brien had his finally show on Late Night Saturday. He is taking over the Tonight Show on June 1st out in L.A. Here are the 15 funniest moments. His last show was excellant and I can't wait until his new show starts. As for his replacement, let's just say I have better things to do then watch him.
-Finally, This guy is making $161 million. If there is a weight-salary comparison, I should be worth about $140 million.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Starter: Ramon Hernandez (.257/.308/.406, OPS+ of 86)
Backup: Ryan Hanigan (.271/.367/.365, OPS+ of 91 in only 85 AB's)
In the offseason the Reds made one trade. That trade sent oft-injured and useless Ryan Freel to Baltimore for the oft-aloof and useless Ramon Hernandez. Seems like a case of both guys needing a change of scenery. Hernandez was criticized last season for seeming disinterested and not trying his hardest(Adam Dunn behind the plate). This may have had to do with the fact that Baltimore's best prospect was goign to take his spot behind the plate very soon. He still managed to put up pretty good numbers in the toughest division in baseball. Instead of facing 4 of the best rotations in baseball(Tor, NYY, Bos, TB) he gets to feast on some of the worst (Pit, Mil, Hou). I would also hope that a new team with great young Latin talent would get him excited about playing again. Not to mention our manager and his ability to get the best out of players. If he can improve to a .270/.320/.420 he would be the best catcher the Reds have had since Joe Oliver. Ok, that may be a stretch but I just wanted to give a shout out to the fromer World Series Hero. Hanigan played well in his September callup and is a much better defensive catcher then Hernandez. He will need to show he can hit everyday in the majors before he takes over the job. A year of backing up/spot starting would be a great way to break him in.
Starter: Joey Votto (.297/.368/.506, OPS+ 124)
Last season's Rookie of the Year Runner-Up solidified his spot here for years to come. He started in a platoon with Scott Hatteberg (Thanks Dusty) but soon proved he needed to play every day. The key to him is that he was able to hit the same whether it was a RH or LH pitcher. He drew walks and hit to all fields which made him very dangerous. His defense was very up-and-down, mostly down, but he improved as the year went on and will hopefully continue that. He is only 25 and should be a staple of the Reds for a long time. Or at least until he gets too expensive and moves to a team that has money.
Starter: Brandon Phillips (.261/.312/.422, OPS+ of 92)
Brandon's stats declined a little last season from his OPS+ of 105 in 2007. This is partly because he was moved to cleanup hitter and asked to hit homeruns. This didn't work. So what does Dusty do? Put him back at #4 this season. Brilliant. He OBP has never been great but last season he drew more walks in fewer AB's and cut down on his strikeouts. If he can return to '07 form, he could be good again. His defense is his strength. A former SS, his range in unbelieveable and, if not for a ridiculous '07 vote, he would have 2 straight gold gloves. He has been trying to become a leader, even attending the Reds caravan, something usually given to rookies because it takes away from time on the golf course. The question is whether his teammates will follow his lead. The best way to get the respect is to play and play well. Winning would also help.
Starter: Alex Gonzalez (.272/.325/.468, OPS+ of 99 all in 2007)
Gonzalez is back and said to be 100% after missing all of last season after having knee surgery. '07 was a great year for him at the plate but his defense and playing time were down. This could have been because his child was suffering from medical issues and took his focus off the game. This season, everything is good and he should be ready to go from day one. If his defense returns to what it was a few years ago and his batting stays strong he could be one of the better SS's in the national league. Before the injury, he was widely regarded as one of the best defensive SS in the game. His '07 year at the plate was also one of his best. His health and return to form will be a major factor in whether the Reds can improve and possibly contend this season.
Starter: Edwin Encancion (.251/.340/.466, OPS+ of 106)
Edwin regressed last year, both at the plate and in the field. His explanation for his struggles at the plate was kept trying to pull the ball out of the ballpark. This season he is going to try and spray it to all fields which should help his average. He still draws a ton of walks, much to Dusty's chagrin, and has the power to hit 20 HRs. Still young at 26 he should improve at the plate and on the field. His defense was atrocious last season but was pretty good the year before. I'm sure his actual ability is somewhere in the middle. He should continue to hit and put up a solid OBP. Improvement in the fielding and throwing would boost him to the top tier of NL 3rd basemen.
All positions-Jeff Keppinger (.266/.310/.346, OPS+ of 70)
SS, 2B-Jerry Hairston Jr. (.326/.384/.487, OPS+ of 124)
Keppinger is a serviceable utility man who can hit when healthy. His numbers last season were down but that is partly because he was rushed back from a knee injury and played at less then 100%. At full strength his OPS+ is about 100 but his range at short is very limited. Hairston is in the battle for LF but can also play CF, SS, and 2B which makes him very useful. He can also serve as a leadoff hitter and the Reds were very good when he played last season. Of course, last season was a career year for him which he attributed to being 100% for most of it. Unfortunately that didn't last long because he was back on the DL a few times. The Reds will need him as a backup and spot starter and if he can stay healthy, a big if, he will be a solid RH bat off the bench.
One other player in the running for the utility spot is Wilkin Castilo, a player acquired in the Adam Dunn trade. He is only 24 and can play all IF spots including C. He received 30 AB's last September but will probably start the season back in the minors until his hitting improves or someone gets injured.
The infield is a solid hitting bunch with the corners being the strength and the middle being average to above-average. The defense, other then 2B, is a big question mark. Gonzalez is older and coming off a season ending injury and the corners are young and error-prone. If they improve and Gonzalez is back to his old form, they could be good. If they don't improve and Gonzalez is limited, the Reds will once again be at the bottom of the NL in terms of defense. Let's hope for the former and not the latter.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The relievers put up a 3.81 ERA last season, which is amazing because the year before the bullpen ERA was 5.13. The additions of Jeremy Affeldt, Mike Lincoln, and Francisco Cordero were the main reason along with steady improvement from Bill Bray, Jared Burton, and David Weathers. The only one of those players not returning is Jeremy Affeldt. The Reds remedied this by acquiring Arthur Rhodes in free agency. Rhodes pitched very well for both Seattle and Florida last year posting a 2.08 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and striking out better then a batter per inning. He is left handed and will probably be used as a left-hand hitting specialist, nearly the same role Affeldt played last season. In that sense, the bullpen is very similar with Cordero closing, Weather and Burton as 7th and 8th inning guys, Rhodes as lefty specialist and the Bray/Lincoln combo for anything else.
Cordero pitched well last season, converting 34 of 40 saves or 85%. He also struck out 78 batters in 70 innings. He should be improved this season because he recently said in spring training that he pitched last season with a bone spur that was removed in the offseason. Let's hope he can convert 90%. Let's also hope he gets more opportunities.
Burton was hurt for parts of last season so he was not able to duplicate his amazing rookie ERA of 2.51, but look for that form to return. The 27-year-old pitched very well in the middle of the season, posting a 0.95 ERA from late may until he was injured in late July. He finished the season with a 3.22 ERA. He is still improving and should continue to strike out better then a batter per inning as he settles into the 8th inning/future closers role.
Weathers posted his best ERA since 2003 at 3.25 and again was able to throw 70+innings. He is frustrating at times but manages to get the job done more often then not. He was signed to a 2-year deal this offseason but I would expect him to be traded to a contender in need of bullpen depth of the Reds are out of it again.
Bill Bray has battled injuries since arriving in Cincinnati from Washington. He is only 26 and posted a 2.87 ERA in 47 inning last year. If he can keep up that pace and stretch out to 60 or 70 innings, he could be a valuable member of the bullpen and the heir to the David Weathers set-up role.
Mike Lincoln was out of baseball before last season. He returned to pitch 70 innings and post a 4.48 ERA, which was about the league average. Hopefully he will improve in his second season back and the ERA will drop. Either way, he is a nice innnings eater but he is not someone you want on the mound in a pressure situation.
Overall, the bullpen looks sound with a good mix of veterans (Cordero, Weathers, Rhodes) and youngsters(Burton, Bray). The question in spring training is whether or not the flame throwing Josh Roenicke will make the roster as the final bullpen guy. He pitched live batting practice and let it fly at 98 mph. Would be nice to a change of pace from the batting practice speed of Weathers. The final spot may go to the loser of the 5th starter race, especially if Owings loses because he is a pinch hitter and relieft pitcher.
All in all, this is a solid bullpen that should be one of the strengths of the Reds.
We have now done the pitchers which means all that is left are the hitters. I will probably do the infield and outfield posts seperatly but let me warn you, it ain't looking good.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The success of the Reds will come down to who wins the 5th spot and how that pitcher fares. Last season the 5th starter was 4-21. Change that number to 11-14 and the Reds become a .500 team. I expect Harang to bounce back and have a good season, which should offset any bumps in the road for Volquez and Cueto, who should both struggle in their second season pitching to the NL. Arroyo will do his 200 innings and 12 wins like always. As the 5th starter goes, so goes the team. He goes 11-14 while the top 4 stay the same, they are .500. He goes 14-11 with the top 4 staying the same, they are an 84 win team. He goes 15-10 with the top 4 inproving, they could get to 88 wins and have a chance at the division or WC with some help. I know its a long shot but everyone is a contender in February and March. Jeff Passan thinks we have a chance to compete with the Cubs(and like myself is not a Dusty fan). The 5th starter will determine it.
The competition will likely be between these four pitchers:
Micah Owings-Centerpiece of the Adam Dunn trade, he has started 45 major league games and has put up a 14-17 record in 257.1 innings with a 4.97 ERA. Struggled last year and had his pitching year cut short due to an injury but should be fully healed for spting training. He is 26 and has by far the most major league experience of any other contender. The other great thing is he can swing the bat. Last season he served as a pitch hitter for the Reds in September and managed to go 2-4 with 3 RBI's. He has put up solid batting numbers in his 116 AB's with a .319/.355/.552 and OPS+ of 126. That is a small sample sive but automatically makes him the 6th or 7th best hitter on the team. Can still be used as a pitch hitter late. His job to lose and I think he wins it.
Odds to job: 3-2
Homer Bailey-Once a top 10 prospect who some people are calling washed up at 22 years old. Those people are idiots and don't listen to them. He is still very young and, if he gets his head on straight, could break out and have a huge year. He has pitched well in AAA but has not been able to translate that success to Cincinnati. I chalk it up to being young and nervous. If he can make the club out of spring training and spend some time with Harang and Arroyo to learn the ropes, I think he could be very good.
Odds of winning job: 2-1
Daryl Thompson-bursted on the scene last summer with a great debut in Yankee Stadium. His is only 23 years old and only started 10 games above AA, 3 of those with the Reds. He should probably spend most of the year in Louisville and be called up later in the summer if there is an injury or trade. I like his potential but unless he throws lights out he needs some more seasoning. No need to rush his development when we have plenty of other viable, and probably better candidates.
Odds of winning job: 8-1
Ramon Ramirez-26 year old who probably looked the best out of the contenders last season, starting 4 games and pitching 27 innings with a 2.67 ERA. More mature then the other contenders and we know how Dusty loves older players. Can pitch out of the bullpen so if he were to lose the 5th starter spot he could make the team as a long reliever/spot starter. Still needs to Wow people to win the job because he is close to a finished product and would take time away from developing one of the other, younger contenders.
Odds of winning job: 10-1
The way I see it, Owings should get it unless some other pitcher pitches so well they take it away. Last year, Volquez pitched better then expected and Cueto blew everyone away to earn his spot, so it could happen. We will find out over the next 6 weeks.
I know I have been away for a while. It seems the Reds did nothing while I was gone so all 5 of my readers have not missed anything. I did some reflection and soul-searching and decided that I need to get back to the focus of this blog, the firing of Dusty Baker.
Dusty was brought in for many horrible, nonsensical reasons. One of which was his ability to lure free agents that would not otherwise come to Cincinnati. Since he has arrived, the Reds lost their two faces of the franchise, Griffey and Dunn, and have added no one. Where are these free agents he was going to lure? Manny is unsigned. I made my pitch for him. Abreu took 1 year and 5 mil. Even Griffey and Dunn took pay cuts and signed with other teams. HE HAS LURED NO ONE!
Can't wait for another season of bad cliches (injuries have hurt us, we are young, making stupid mistakes and need to focus) followed by no free agents signings and losing a few good players. That seems to be the Reds motto. That and avoid anyone who gets on base.
I will try and post most days and plan on breaking the Reds down by positions over the next week as players arrive at camp. Now a few quick links that you may have missed because, well, the Reds never make any news.
Griffey headed back to Seattle. Good for him. They like him there and he can have a nice little swan song. Imagine if he had started the juice when A-Rod and everyone else did in 2001. He may not have gotten injured or at least returned quicker and the Reds may have another banner or two. I guess cheaters do win.
Adam Dunn signed with Washington, and so did about 50 other Ex-Reds, including blog favorite Corey Patterson. I miss him already. The brilliantly named FireJimBowden.com has the list of Ex-Reds signed by the Nationals and C. Trent has a nice photoshoped picture of the new hats for Washington.
I guess there is one team the Reds should beat, a team full of their castoffs.
Well that is it for today. Expect more posts in the coming weeks breaking down the team as well as any updates if anything every happens, which it probably won't.