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Buckaholic
04-26-2006, 06:42 PM
Through 22 games of 162, it's still premature obviously to determine just how good this team is and will be. Typically it's the start of June (another month from now) when if the team is performing at this level, it's safe to determine they are a contender.

I realize that statistically, there are people who can cite better statistics as indications for how this team may wind up finishing, but I'm just going to throw out a few common sense indicators to where you might feel good and some things you might not.

I know slowly but surely there seems to be a little seperation in the pythag W/L indicator as the Reds continue to lead the league in runs scored, but are slowly pulling away from the number of runs given up. That's slightly encouraging.

Here are a few general factors I see leading me to believe that the Reds have a chance to contend:

Depth

*The Reds already passed the first Ken Griffey Jr. DL test. With Rich Aurilia and Ryan Freel, the Reds are better equipped Junior taking a brief trip to the disabled list this season. Obviously they can't afford this too often, but this first time around, the Reds have gone 10-4 with Junior out of the lineup.

The addition of Cody Ross I believe will be a solid pickup as well. I'm a big Ross fan, although he's 26 years old and thus far he's not had a significant amount of opportunities. I feel he can develop into a solid starting outfielder capable of 15-20 home runs. But the Reds won't need that. They only need him to be an adequate replacement if Kearns gets traded, Griffey gets hurt or something even more simple such as late-innings substitutions or pinch hit situations.

Performing to, above or beyond expectations

*Offensively speaking, with the one exception of Brandon Phillips, absolutely no one right now on the Reds has been performing greater than their projections or expectations. This bodes well for the simple fact it makes it easier to predict their continual success.

Adam Dunn is doing exactly what's expected of him, and you could argue he will hit a little better through the better course of the season. Austin Kearns is hitting like Kearns is capable of hitting, and if he continues this, the Reds will be better for it.

Encarnacion has been a big lift to the batting order. You know he'll have days where he struggles, but the more he plays the more it looks like he's going to have stretches where he's really, really good. If Encarnacion continues cashing in on run-scoring opportunities from the No. 6 or No. 7 hole, the Reds will continue scoring runs close to this pace.

Phillips is obviously the wildcard in this. No question he won't continue to hit over .350, but he is the only one perhaps overacheiving a bit. Even if he hits .280 with some pop, a little speed and good defensively, he's going to be productive. You hope he can begin drawing walks somewhat to account for returning more to his expected batting average, but it appears his slugging percentage should hold its end of the OPS bargain.

Scheduling

*It seems obvious that the NL Central is the best division in baseball through nearly a month. That's really encouraging when you consider the Reds have played 16 of their 22 games against the division thus far and went 4-4 against the Cardinals and Cubs combined.

But here's what I think is more impressive so far: the Reds are beating the teams they should beat with regularity.

2-1 against Florida
3-0 against Washington
3-1 against Pittsburgh
3-1 against Milwaukee.

That's 11-3 against those teams with half of those games being on the road. The Reds are now 9-4 on the road - another good sign.

Quality starting pitching

*The Reds have not obviously had consistent, championship-caliber starting pitching from anyone beyond Bronson Arroyo (4-0; 2.34 ERA with 4 quality starts in 5 games). However, of 22 games thus far, 12 times the Reds starter has gone at least 6 innings and given up no more than three (3) runs. So Reds starters have accounted for 12 quality starts in 22 games. That tells me that the Reds' biggest problem is maintaining consistency with their starters.

We know Aaron Harang (3-1; 4.55 ERA) is a quality pitcher and will keep the Reds in games. We have seen him pitch two shutouts already but with Harang and Arroyo, it does appear the Reds have two quality starters.

The trick will be to see if Brandon Claussen can be more consistent. Elizard Ramirez looked pretty good in his first start for Eric Milton. Can he keep it up and be a dependable starter? If these two things happen (or if Milton comes back pitching effectively when he returns from the DL - whenever that happens), I think it will mean the Reds can be contenders by finding one good starter by the deadline if they remain in the race until then.

As far as the bullpen, David Weathers and Todd Coffey appear to be a solid 1-2 punch to close games out. Kent Mercker has been good when he finds the plate. That's three solid relievers right there.

Brian Shackelford has a good early return thus far, but the jury is still out on him. Matt Belisle has shown terrific stuff and I still wouldn't be surprised if he ends up in the rotation. For now though, I like Belisle to have his moments.

Realistically, the rest of the bullpen has been sporadic and sometimes awful. The Reds would need to find about one, maybe two more quality relievers to contend as it looks right now.

Overall, the next five games in Cincinnati against Houston and St. Louis will be big tests to see just how ready Cincinnati is, for now, to compete at the top of the division.

After that, the month of May breaks down pretty favorably.

6 games vs. Arizona (3 at home/ 3 on the road)
2 games @ Colorado
3 games @ Pittsburgh
3 games @ Detroit
3 games vs. Milwaukee
3 games vs. Washington
3 games vs. Philadelphia
3 games @ Chicago

I see this stretch ending up roughly about 16-10 personally, based on how the Reds look at this moment. That would put the Reds at 31-17 at the end of May plus whatever happens within the next five games against Houston and St. Louis.

At the current trends, I can see the Reds contending. They need to improve their consistency from starters, avoid injuries and find legit No. 4 & 5 starters. But if the trends continue, I would say a possible 33-20 or 34-19 record heading into June would look encouraging.

FYI, I'm a big believer of it being too early to make any rush judgments until June, so understand this entire post is taking the current production with a major grain of salt.

I also realize past Reds teams have started the season successfully only to fall in June or July. However, now they've got a front office wanting to win immediately and presumably willing to make that happen and they've got a general manager that seems to have a clue what he's doing, and I would have confidence in his ability to acquire a few good pitchers in June or July.

I still don't know if the Reds have enough to beat out the Astros or Cardinals over the long haul, but as of now I see them having enough to make things interesting. Those 4 & 5 starters will be ever so important to any success or lack thereof.

SirFelixCat
04-26-2006, 10:02 PM
Only had time to read the first half of this, but I'm impressed with it, thus far. Bookmarking it to read when I have more time.


Good job!:beerme:

The Baumer
04-26-2006, 10:22 PM
You said Phillips is the only player exceeding his ability, but I think Encarnacion has been playing over his head too. No one expected him to be up in the league leaders for RBI.

TeamBoone
04-26-2006, 10:43 PM
You said Phillips is the only player exceeding his ability, but I think Encarnacion has been playing over his head too. No one expected him to be up in the league leaders for RBI.

IMHO, EE is playing exactly the way he was expected to. He has tons of ability, and rather than exceeding it, I think he's merely playing up to it.

Buckaholic
04-26-2006, 10:46 PM
You said Phillips is the only player exceeding his ability, but I think Encarnacion has been playing over his head too. No one expected him to be up in the league leaders for RBI.

I don't really think so personally. Encarnacion is batting .292 with 3 homers and 23 RBI's. He's got a .942 OPS.

Certainly you would not think the RBI's will continue at that pace and his OPS may go down slightly, but after spring training an heading into the start of the season, if someone had quoted those numbers 20 games into the season, would you really say he was in over his head and won't be able to keep that pace?

The kid has only struck out 11 times in 72 at-bats thus far. I would say he's comfortable at the plate finally and I don't see any evidence you're going to see any rapid dropoff from him beyond the typical slumps that players endure.

You could be right, but I don't see anything about those numbers that suggest it's unrealistic to think he could keept his pace up the rest of the season. Certainly not his average, certainly not his homer numbers and the OPS doesn't even seem really much higher than some thought possible for him.

RedsBaron
04-26-2006, 10:46 PM
There are 140 games to go, but I am the most optimistic that I've been about the Reds in several seasons.

The Baumer
04-27-2006, 12:42 AM
I never said Encarnacion can't be as good as he is playing now. I was just commenting on the original poster's observation that Phillips was the only player performing above expectations. I think Encarnacion has a realistic shot at 80-90 RBI's this year, and that is if he slows down.

toledodan
04-27-2006, 12:56 AM
great post. its nice to see multiple reds getting RBI'S by the bunches. it would be nice to have 2-3 guys get 100 RBI'S and a couple more between 80-100. the way this team is putting up runs its possible.

RedsMan3203
04-27-2006, 02:07 AM
You talk about getting decent 4/5 starters..... I don't think we need any 4/5 starters.

We need a #2/3 type starter. A Freddy Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Mike Maroth, Jeff Francis, Brandon Backe, Chris Capuano, Cory Lidle, ECT type of pitcher.

We end up with:

1) Harrang
2) Arroyo
3) Pitcher
4) Claussen
5) Milton/Wilson/Williams/Lizard

Now if Milton comes back from this knee scope and pitches like he did during the spring.. with his heater in the mid 90's, and better push off with his legs he would jump to that 3rd spot. We wouldn't have to really run out and get anyone right off the bat.

If Wilson comes back and does anything close to what he did in 2004 thats going to help out alot.

But, really -- We really need to something with Dave Williams, Chris Hammond, and Rick White. But what can we do with them?

Who can we replace them with? Wilson, Milton and ?????

But the Reds need to go after a 2/3 type starter.

Buckaholic
04-27-2006, 05:13 PM
We're actually saying the same thing, I just phrased it in a different way. I may not have made it clear, but when I talk about 4/5 starters, the implication I was making was that the Reds would acquire a 2/3 type of guy at the deadline, essentially pushing out one of the 4/5 guys from the rotation.

So basically, we agree with one another, I just said it a little differently.




You talk about getting decent 4/5 starters..... I don't think we need any 4/5 starters.

We need a #2/3 type starter. A Freddy Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Mike Maroth, Jeff Francis, Brandon Backe, Chris Capuano, Cory Lidle, ECT type of pitcher.

We end up with:

1) Harrang
2) Arroyo
3) Pitcher
4) Claussen
5) Milton/Wilson/Williams/Lizard

Now if Milton comes back from this knee scope and pitches like he did during the spring.. with his heater in the mid 90's, and better push off with his legs he would jump to that 3rd spot. We wouldn't have to really run out and get anyone right off the bat.

If Wilson comes back and does anything close to what he did in 2004 thats going to help out alot.

But, really -- We really need to something with Dave Williams, Chris Hammond, and Rick White. But what can we do with them?

Who can we replace them with? Wilson, Milton and ?????

But the Reds need to go after a 2/3 type starter.

buckeyenut
04-28-2006, 07:02 AM
I would argue we need a #1, not a #3, to make this rotation work. Arroyo, Harang, Claussen fit nicely as 2-3-4, but need that horse at the top of the rotation.

TeamBoone
04-28-2006, 03:08 PM
4/28/06

Reds Stay Hot

(Sports Network) - The Cincinnati Reds are off to a sizzling start this season by accumulating a 15-7 record and are just a half game behind the Houston Astros for first place in the NL Central Division.

The Reds have relied on clutch hitting and solid defense to make up for their inconsistent pitching. The Reds' staff has struggled, sporting a 5.12 ERA, while the relievers are allowing 59 percent of their inherited base runners to cross the plate.

However, right-handed reliever Todd Coffey may be the answer, as he has pitched nothing short of brilliant this season. Coffey has posted an impressive .75 ERA and has retired nine of the 13 batters he has faced this season. While these numbers may seem insignificant, Coffey may be developing into the dominant closer Cincy has been looking for.

Coffey has received most of his action in the seventh and eighth innings, allowing current closer David Weathers to capture six saves on the season. With both pitchers performing so well manager Jerry Narron feels no reason to tamper with the rotation just yet.

"I have all the confidence in the world bringing [Coffey] in with guys on base, if nothing else, it's what might keep him in the seventh and eighth innings. You can bring him in with guys on base and know he's not going to beat himself." Narron also added "Some people are of the mind-set that you're bringing your best pitcher in the seventh or eighth inning anyway, that's when the game is on the line the most."

While Coffey has picked up the Reds slacking bullpen, Cincinnati's starting rotation has weathered the storm. Starters Aaron Harang (3-1) and Bronson Arroyo (4-0) have carried the Reds thus far, while Eric Milton has also been stellar winning two of his three starts this season. More importantly the Reds have received some help from some of their younger pitchers as right-hander Elizardo Ramirez got his first major league win on Monday night as the Reds dumped the Nationals 4-2. Ramirez pitched seven solid innings and received plenty of help from his supporting cast as the reds racked up four runs on nine hits. Felipe Lopez led the way hitting 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while catcher Javier Valentin also finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.

REDS TAKE SWEEP IN D.C.

After Monday's 4-2 win over Washington, the Reds got right back to business as they upended the Nationals 6-5 on Tuesday night. Edwin Encarnacion had a huge game hitting 2-for-4 while driving in four runs. Cincinnati closed the deal on Wednesday afternoon, as Bronson Arroyo led the Reds to a 4-0 victory.

Arroyo (4-0) was outstanding with a one-hit shutout through eight innings. This is the second straight game Arroyo has pitched into the eighth inning which is a much needed entity for the Reds struggling bullpen. Arroyo got plenty of help from Encarnacion who had two more hits and knocked in another run during the win. Adam Dunn also showed signs of his old self as he finished the game 3-for-5 with three singles.

PHILLIPS NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Second baseman Brandon Phillips, who joined the Reds on April 7th after being traded by the Indians, has taken advantage of his new situation after being named National League Player of the Week.

Phillips has a huge week hitting .452 with three home runs and 17 RBI, while posting an outstanding .871 slugging percentage. After a disappointing stint in Cleveland that saw Phillips roam back and forth between Triple A and the Majors, he may have found his niche in Cincinnati's lineup. Narron believes that Phillips, who has been labeled a "bust" by many people around the league, can still make a serious impact in the majors.

"Ability-wise, he's got it," Narron said. "To get a guy that was the best prospect in baseball a couple of years ago, it was a big move by [general manager] Wayne Krivsky

MILTON ADDED TO 15-DAY DISABLED LIST

Southpaw Eric Milton was added to the 15-day disabled list on Monday after a test on his right knee showed that he will need arthroscopic surgery to repair some torn cartilage. Milton struggled in his last outing, losing his first game of the season in a 12-6 shellacking at the hands of the Florida Marlins.

Milton gave up nine earned runs in 4 1/3 innings before being pulled. This is not Milton's first visit to the DL due to a knee problem. This will be his third knee surgery since the 2002 season, and doctors don't expect him back for about two to three weeks. Narron is aware of the 30-year-old's knee problems and will not be quick to rush him back.

"There's concern about that," Narron said of Milton's medical history. "There's concern about how much he's going to be able to throw the first week after the surgery and what he's going to lose between his last outing and when he'll be able to start working."

Ramirez (1-0) filled in for Milton on Monday night and after an excellent performance could get the nod again on Sunday in the Reds three game series finale against the Houston Astros

WHO'S HOT

Adam Kearns is off to a great start, hitting .274 with five home runs and 17 RBI. Kearns has hit safely in seven of the last 10 games while knocking in eight runs and scoring nine.

Despite a questionable 4.55 ERA, Aaron Harang (3-1) has fought his way to three wins in five appearances and has struck out 26 batters while only walking seven.

WHO'S NOT

Although he is starting to come around, Adam Dunn is batting .260 and is hitting just 6-of-31 over the past 10 games. Dunn, who finished the 2005 season with 40 home runs has eight on the season, has failed to hit one out since April 17th.

A LOOK AHEAD

The Reds will bring their four-game winning streak back home as they gear up for a three-game series with the Houston Astros (15-6). Sitting just a half game behind the Astros in the NL Central standings, the Reds can move into first place with a series win this weekend. Cincinnati will toss Brandon Clausen (1-2,6.75), Harang (3-1,4.55) and Ramirez (1-0,2.57). Houston will hand the ball to the red-hot Roy Oswalt (4-0,2.48), Andy Pettitte (1-3, 4.35), and Taylor Buchholz (1-1, 1.80).

http://www.nbc4i.com/mlb/9070109/detail.html

Highlifeman21
04-28-2006, 04:05 PM
I would argue we need a #1, not a #3, to make this rotation work. Arroyo, Harang, Claussen fit nicely as 2-3-4, but need that horse at the top of the rotation.


Right now Harang and Arroyo most closely resemble #2s. Add another solid #2, and I like our chances with 3 #2s, and then Claussen and 5th starter by committee. I think with 3 #2s, we have better odds than if we have a clear cut #1, since that guy will only get the ball every 5th day, and admittedly there would be a big drop off from the #1 to the rest of our rotation.