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OnBaseMachine
03-24-2008, 08:17 PM
If Mercker gets the final nod over Bray then this organization defies the odds again.

Tough decisions looming for Reds
Competition for bullpen, bench spots remains as season nears
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- For Reds players on the roster bubble and front-office management alike, this is one of the toughest weeks.

Players who have made it to the last week of Spring Training didn't make it that long by accident. And there's a good chance some deserving players will have to be cut.

"The cuts are getting tougher," manager Dusty Baker said.

No one was sent out on Monday, but with 37 healthy players in camp, it means 12 of them have to go before the 25-man Opening Day roster is set.

"It'll be an interesting few days," said infielder/outfielder Andy Phillips, who is trying to make the team. "Certainly, everybody is aware some decisions are coming. But you have to keep working, keep going out plugging away and trying to get yourself ready for the season."

Baker expected some more cuts to happen on Tuesday. Although exhibition games will be played through Saturday, the freight truck with players' belongings heads north to Cincinnati on Wednesday.

"We have to do something before the truck leaves," Baker said Monday. "I've done that, too, [as a player]. I sent my car north, and I went south."

Several decisions -- like center field and the rotation -- seem to have been made even though no announcements have been issued. Other battles -- like the bullpen, the 25th-man bench spot and possibly first base -- remain in flux.

Here is how Cincinnati's roster is shaping up so far:

Expected starting rotation: Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Josh Fogg and Edinson Volquez.

Bullpen locks: Francisco Cordero, David Weathers, Jeremy Affeldt and Mike Stanton.

Infielders: Brandon Phillips, Edwin Encarnacion, Jeff Keppinger, Juan Castro, Joey Votto and Scott Hatteberg.

Outfielders: Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Corey Patterson, Norris Hopper and Ryan Freel.

Catchers: Javier Valentin and Paul Bako.

Disabled list: Catcher David Ross (likely), shortstop Alex Gonzalez and pitcher Bobby Livingston.

If Votto makes the team, he almost certainly would start at first base. If it's Hatteberg, Votto should go to Triple-A Louisville to play every day. While Hatteberg is having a much better spring, expect Votto to get the nod.

In the bullpen, Jared Burton hasn't pitched well this spring, but he still appears to be a good bet. Todd Coffey seems an almost certainty because he's pitched great. It leaves one relief spot up for grabs.

It will come down to lefties Kent Mercker and Bill Bray and right-hander Mike Lincoln. The prediction here is it will be Mercker, because Bray has Minor League options left. Mercker is a non-roster invitee, and he could sign elsewhere or retire if he doesn't make it. Both lefties have pitched well, however.

As for the battle for the final bench spot, Jolbert Cabrera, Andy Phillips, Andy Green, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jerry Gil remain in the mix. Cabrera and Phillips seem to have the best shot, but this battle is too close to call.

Cabrera, a 35-year-old veteran of five big league seasons, isn't sweating the final days. He entered the day batting .311 this spring (14-for-45) with 12 RBIs.

"I'm enjoying myself. I'm not the one who has to try and make the decision," Cabrera said. "A lot of guys had a tremendous Spring Training. It's unfair to say one guy did better than the other."

If Cabrera makes it, it will be his first time in the big leagues since 2004 with the Mariners. He spent two seasons playing in Japan and 2007 back in the Minors with the Cardinals organization.

"I can't ask for anything better," Cabrera said of his spring. "I had a rough time last year with the Cardinals in my first year back from Japan. I got used to the Japanese way of pitching. Then I got [appendicitis]. I'm happy to be 100 percent healthy."

Andy Phillips, the only Reds player to play in every game this spring, entered Monday's game against the Blue Jays batting .262 (11-for-42) with one home run and eight RBIs. Both Cabrera and Phillips have played multiple positions around the infield and outfield.

"You always stay positive," Phillips said of the final week. "You have to keep a positive frame of mind."

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080324&content_id=2455531&vkey=spt2008news&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

boognish
03-24-2008, 09:29 PM
I really have a soft spot for Mercker and have been rooting for him, but if he makes the roster at the expense of Bray as opposed to at the expense of Stanton, it does not bode well, IMO. Sheldon seems to agree with the conventional "wisdom" that Castro and Stanton are locks.

Food for thought: this evening, the FSN gun had Mercker topping out at 88 and Lincoln--he of the twice surgically repaired arm--routinely hitting 97. Lincoln gave up a lot of hard contact in his work and Mercker was wild in trying to go two days consecutively, so take it for what it's worth.

fearofpopvol1
03-24-2008, 09:45 PM
I've said all along that I think the Reds keep Mercker. He's a Dusty kind of guy.

flyer85
03-24-2008, 10:00 PM
there are not really tough decisions ... of course the Reds may still get them wrong.

OnBaseMachine
03-24-2008, 11:03 PM
there are not really tough decisions ... of course the Reds may still get them wrong.

Yep. Bray over Mercker is an easy decision.

I've said all along I thought the bullpen could be pretty good if they go with the right guys. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. Kent Mercker and Mike Stanton are well past their prime, why can't the Reds see this? I understand they owe Stanton three million but if they are serious about winning they will just eat the contract.

A bullpen of Francisco Cordero, Jared Burton, David Weathers, Bill Bray, Josh Roenicke, Todd Coffey, and either Jeremy Affeldt or Jon Coutlangus would be a decent pen IMO.

boognish
03-24-2008, 11:08 PM
A bullpen of Francisco Cordero, Jared Burton, David Weathers, Bill Bray, Josh Roenicke, Todd Coffey, and either Jeremy Affeldt or Jon Coutlangus would be a decent pen IMO.

Yes, and instead we will see Cordero, Weathers, Stanton, Mercker, Affeldt, Coffey, Burton. Three lefties, and not one who can be counted on to consistently retire left-handed hitters.

Cedric
03-25-2008, 12:40 AM
Luckily the roster you see on March 31st will likely be nowhere close to what you see on May 1st. The problem is that everyone knows what bad (Mercker, Castro, Carbrera) will be sent out and what will that cost the Reds in wins? Hopefully someone steps up and forces the issue on Krivsky/Baker and their love affair with terrible vets.

SteelSD
03-25-2008, 12:58 AM
Yes, and instead we will see Cordero, Weathers, Stanton, Mercker, Affeldt, Coffey, Burton. Three lefties, and not one who can be counted on to consistently retire left-handed hitters.

In that scenario, you're right. The Reds still wouldn't have a lefty in the pen who could be counted on to do anything but throw left-handed. As expected, the offer of a rotation slot for Affeldt was nothing more than window dressing. Nothing "serious" about his chance to make the rotation other than the stupid amount of dollars he's going to be paid in order to serve as a LOOGY. 3M. Go figure.

It's a pen with a bunch of guys who'll again likely struggle to get a lead to their Closer. That amazes me because Krivsky and Co. have thrown a ton of cash out and talent resources at the pen but they don't currently have a single reliever other than Cordero who could be considered a "lock" to help in 2008. That bullpen could easily be just as bad as anything the Reds have run out there over the past few seasons. Should it start out in the configuration you suggest, I'll be flinching after pretty much each pitch.

WMR
03-25-2008, 01:08 AM
:(

MrCinatit
03-25-2008, 02:28 AM
Luckily the roster you see on March 31st will likely be nowhere close to what you see on May 1st. The problem is that everyone knows what bad (Mercker, Castro, Carbrera) will be sent out and what will that cost the Reds in wins? Hopefully someone steps up and forces the issue on Krivsky/Baker and their love affair with terrible vets.

I hope so - and add Stanton to that list.

Cedric
03-25-2008, 02:39 AM
I hope so - and add Stanton to that list.

For certain. Maybe that was my wishful thinking that Mr. HGH wouldn't be granted the privilege of playing baseball for the Reds ever again.

Ron Madden
03-25-2008, 02:41 AM
there are not really tough decisions ... of course the Reds may still get them wrong.

Mercker, Affeldt and Stanton were locks to make the club the day pitchers and catchers reported to camp.

:(

Kc61
03-25-2008, 07:35 AM
Continue to find it hard to believe that Bray won't be with the team. He's one of the few Reds relievers who can work multiple innings and he has pitched two innings virtually every time out this spring. I know about Mercker and Bray's options and all that, I just think (hope) something will happen to make room for him.

REDREAD
03-25-2008, 09:32 AM
Yep. Bray over Mercker is an easy decision.


I disagree. They've got to pick the guy they think will pitch better, regardless of age. Bray might be able to get better quality development time at AAA.

Another point to consider. At some point, the Reds might actually wise up and give Stanton the boot. At that point, it will be nice to have the extra depth that Mercker provides (Bray can slip into Stanton's slot). If Mercker doesn't make the opening day roster, he's probably gone from baseball. In constrast, Bray can be stashed.

In the grand scheme of things, I don't think picking Mercker over Bray is going to cost any games. Given that Bray is recovering from a shoulder injury, it might also be wise to send him to AAA to manage his workload. No sense in pushing him too hard as he's recovering (the Reds often make that mistake). Let's do what's best for him for the long term.

RANDY IN INDY
03-25-2008, 09:33 AM
Sounds like a plan. Good post.

REDREAD
03-25-2008, 09:34 AM
In that scenario, you're right. The Reds still wouldn't have a lefty in the pen who could be counted on to do anything but throw left-handed. As expected, the offer of a rotation slot for Affeldt was nothing more than window dressing. Nothing "serious" about his chance to make the rotation other than the stupid amount of dollars he's going to be paid in order to serve as a LOOGY. 3M. Go figure.
.

I think the Fogg signing changed the Reds' plans. At the time Affedlt was signed, I think he was a lock for the rotation.

Not saying that it was great planning by Wayne by any means, but at least we have a plan B in case one of the young starters can't handle it.

OnBaseMachine
03-25-2008, 09:49 AM
I disagree. They've got to pick the guy they think will pitch better, regardless of age. Bray might be able to get better quality development time at AAA.


And that guy is Bill Bray. Kent Mercker's stuff is no where near where it was before. Putting him on the team is just asking for a disaster.

lollipopcurve
03-25-2008, 10:00 AM
Nothing "serious" about his chance to make the rotation other than the stupid amount of dollars he's going to be paid in order to serve as a LOOGY. 3M. Go figure.

I guess that's why he got several starts. If he'd pitched well, he'd still be in the rotation.

3 million for a lefty reliever was the going rate. See JC Romero.

princeton
03-25-2008, 10:05 AM
Reds'll need to decide if trade value later in the season might outweigh benefit to current team

they'll make same judgement on another LHPer, Capellan. In that case, it won't be his trade value, but rather his roster value in the year 2010 or 2011 (boy that sounds like a long time from now, doesn't it?)

MikeS21
03-25-2008, 10:05 AM
I disagree. They've got to pick the guy they think will pitch better, regardless of age. Bray might be able to get better quality development time at AAA.

Another point to consider. At some point, the Reds might actually wise up and give Stanton the boot. At that point, it will be nice to have the extra depth that Mercker provides (Bray can slip into Stanton's slot). If Mercker doesn't make the opening day roster, he's probably gone from baseball. In constrast, Bray can be stashed.

In the grand scheme of things, I don't think picking Mercker over Bray is going to cost any games. Given that Bray is recovering from a shoulder injury, it might also be wise to send him to AAA to manage his workload. No sense in pushing him too hard as he's recovering (the Reds often make that mistake). Let's do what's best for him for the long term.
My thoughts exactly. It won't hurt to have Bray go to AAA, or even start the year on the DL. I don't put much stock in spring training appearances, good or bad - especially for pitchers during this dead arm period. No question Bray has had a good spring, but so has Mercker. Bray is also a couple weeks behind everyone else and hasn't hit his dead arm period yet. I'd rather he hit it at at AAA or extended spring training. By May 1st, Castellini will either be tired enough of Stanton's act to eat the contract, or Stanton may do well enough to flip in a trade.

OnBaseMachine
03-25-2008, 10:07 AM
Mike Stanton has had a dead arm for two years now.

SteelSD
03-25-2008, 11:58 AM
I guess that's why he got several starts. If he'd pitched well, he'd still be in the rotation.

Even Homer Bailey, the owner of an 8.44 ERA on March 15th and who hasn't had a truly good start yet, is still starting games. Affeldt didn't get past March 13th as a potential rotation piece while "competing" with Belisle, Fogg, and three unproven kids. If you're actually being given a legitimate shot at earning a rotaton slot, a couple of bad starts by March 13th isn't going to knock you out of that particular race. Affeldt is in the pen now because he was never a legitimate option for the rotation.


3 million for a lefty reliever was the going rate. See JC Romero.

I don't mind paying the "going rate". It's just that I'd rather the Reds paid the "going rate" for only pitchers who really project to be good at their jobs.

OnBaseMachine
03-25-2008, 12:10 PM
One thing I like about Baker - he's a straight shooter. He basically says Mike Stanton shouldn't be on the team.

A question of cash?

By Hal McCoy | Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 10:58 AM

Dusty Baker made both an interesting and telling comment Tuesday morning in the visitor’s clubhouse at Clearwater’s Bright House Field.

The question was the final determination of the bullpen, who goes and who stays. As candid as always, Baker said, “I know it is not my money, but I hope money isn’t a factor in the final choices. I know the team wants to stay in a budget, but…”

But, indeed.

The reference obviously was to lefthanded relief pitcher Mike Stanton, who wasn’t very good last year and has been mediocre, at best, this spring. But he has a $3 million guaranteed contract with a $500,000 buyout. If the Reds want him to go away (he already cleared waivers, nobody claimed him) and they can’t trade him, it will cost them $3.5 million to show the fans they REALLY want to win this year.

Baker’s bullpen of lefthanders would be Jeremy Affeldt, Bill Bray and Kent Mercker. If ownership says, “Keep Stanton,” then Bray has options and might land in Louisville. Or they could jettison Mercker, a situational pitcher Baker likes.

In six appearances, Stanton has given up three runs, four hits, two walks and struck out one.

Affelt hasn’t been that good, either, but Baker stuck up for him.

“I’m a bit concerned about him after he gave it up Monday (two runs, two hits and a walk in one inning, ballooning his spring ERA to 12.51). But he’s a guy you have to consider as having a good track record. Maybe he is throwing too many strikes. He needs to throw quality strikes and keep it as simple as possible. He is a guy who analyzes things too much and he wears his problems all over his face. He cares big-time and you’d rather have that than a guy who doesn’t care.”

The roster remains too large, but there was one cut made Tuesday. Outfielder Jerry Gil was re-assigned to minor-league camp.

Gil most likely will end up at Class AAA Louisville with Jay Bruce and Chris Dickerson and Baker said, “They are going to have some oufield in Louisville, man. Boy. that potential outfield they have. Whew. Wow. Some good arms, good speed. Probably one of the best around.”

I was tempted to say it, but bit my tongue when I wanted to say, “If you kept Bruce, you might have a much better outfield in Cincinnati.”

Call me Chicken Little.

Of Gil, Baker said, “He needs to play. He didn’t play at all last year (injury) and he is going to be a good player. He realizes he needs some at-bat and needs to play. In fact, he is going to be a very good player. He just needs to stay away from injuries because he has had some unfortunate things happen to him.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/o/content/shared-gen/blogs/dayton/cincinnatireds/

TRF
03-25-2008, 12:39 PM
I'd put Burton in L'ville IF I thought I could stash Capellan. He needs to really show something though. If not I try to work a trade. If neither option is available, I send him back and shrug, oh well.

Burton may have to go to AAA anyway. He's been flat awful and he has options. Bray absolutely has to make the team and pitch well. Majewski... oy. can he just be let go now? really Wayne, he's not good at all.

edabbs44
03-25-2008, 12:55 PM
One thing I like about Baker - he's a straight shooter. He basically says Mike Stanton shouldn't be on the team.

He could be referring to Affeldt as well.

edabbs44
03-25-2008, 12:58 PM
In that scenario, you're right. The Reds still wouldn't have a lefty in the pen who could be counted on to do anything but throw left-handed. As expected, the offer of a rotation slot for Affeldt was nothing more than window dressing. Nothing "serious" about his chance to make the rotation other than the stupid amount of dollars he's going to be paid in order to serve as a LOOGY. 3M. Go figure.

It's a pen with a bunch of guys who'll again likely struggle to get a lead to their Closer. That amazes me because Krivsky and Co. have thrown a ton of cash out and talent resources at the pen but they don't currently have a single reliever other than Cordero who could be considered a "lock" to help in 2008. That bullpen could easily be just as bad as anything the Reds have run out there over the past few seasons. Should it start out in the configuration you suggest, I'll be flinching after pretty much each pitch.

I've been saying similar stuff for a long time. It's almost comical how much time, enery and money has been put into this bullpen in the past 2 years. And it still is subpar, at best.

blumj
03-25-2008, 01:17 PM
I've been saying similar stuff for a long time. It's almost comical how much time, enery and money has been put into this bullpen in the past 2 years. And it still is subpar, at best.

That's because bullpens are crapshoots. You usually don't improve them as much by changing the guys in it as you do from not needing them to pitch as many innings. IOW, spend the time and energy to improve the starting pitching and defense and the pen will be more likely to follow.

gm
03-25-2008, 01:57 PM
If Mercker doesn't make the opening day roster, he's probably gone from baseball.

Here's another scenario. Mercker gets cut, keeps himself in reasonable shape then rejoins the team this summer (call it the "Clemens option") Not outside the realm of possiblity, IMO

KronoRed
03-25-2008, 02:06 PM
Mike Stanton has had a dead arm for two years now.

The Reds are going to bank on him reclaiming some sort of past glory, just like they are with Mercker.

Hmm..disaster.

Cyclone792
03-25-2008, 02:09 PM
Dusty Baker made both an interesting and telling comment Tuesday morning in the visitor’s clubhouse at Clearwater’s Bright House Field.

The question was the final determination of the bullpen, who goes and who stays. As candid as always, Baker said, “I know it is not my money, but I hope money isn’t a factor in the final choices. I know the team wants to stay in a budget, but…”

But, indeed.

The reference obviously was to lefthanded relief pitcher Mike Stanton, who wasn’t very good last year and has been mediocre, at best, this spring. But he has a $3 million guaranteed contract with a $500,000 buyout. If the Reds want him to go away (he already cleared waivers, nobody claimed him) and they can’t trade him, it will cost them $3.5 million to show the fans they REALLY want to win this year.

That Dusty fella might be alright indeed if he can persuade this team to dump Stanton into the flooded Ohio.

KronoRed
03-25-2008, 02:12 PM
That Dusty fella might be alright indeed if he can persuade this team to dump Stanton into the flooded Ohio.

No more pollution.

jojo
03-25-2008, 02:13 PM
I guess that's why he got several starts. If he'd pitched well, he'd still be in the rotation.

3 million for a lefty reliever was the going rate. See JC Romero.

I'll argue this forever and a day-in general, if you're consistently paying the going rate for your bullpen, then you're probably not a very good talent evaluator.

flyer85
03-25-2008, 03:22 PM
if it was me the BP would look like this

Cordero, Weathers, Burton, Coffey, Bray, Affeldt and not Stanton with Belisle on the DL.

OnBaseMachine
03-25-2008, 03:33 PM
Another 1-2-3 inning with 2 strikeouts and a groundout today for Bray. Make that seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and only one walk.

Matt700wlw
03-25-2008, 03:37 PM
If it comes down to Stanton OR Bray...I bet Stanton gets it, based on his paycheck and the fact that Bray has options.

Economics of baseball. BLAH.

Don't forget Affeldt's getting a nice check, too...

flyer85
03-25-2008, 03:39 PM
If it comes down to Stanton or Bray...I bet Stanton gets it, based on his paycheck and the fact that Bray has options.

Economics of baseball.management for losers

REDREAD
03-25-2008, 04:09 PM
And that guy is Bill Bray. Kent Mercker's stuff is no where near where it was before. Putting him on the team is just asking for a disaster.


If that's true, I agree with you. I'm only going by what I hear. Maybe all this spring training stuff about Mercker being good is a smoke screen. In any event, I'm not exactly brimming with confidence with Bray. If he gets parked in AAA for 4-6 weeks while they sort out the ML staff, I'm fine with that. It's not as if it's going to cost us the pennant anyhow.

WMR
03-25-2008, 04:10 PM
I guess we'll find out how serious the Reds truly are about winning.

BRM
03-25-2008, 04:12 PM
I guess we'll find out how serious the Reds truly are about winning.

No doubt. Personally, I expect more of what flyer used to call "winning with caveats".

REDREAD
03-25-2008, 04:19 PM
Even Homer Bailey, the owner of an 8.44 ERA on March 15th and who hasn't had a truly good start yet, is still starting games. Affeldt didn't get past March 13th as a potential rotation piece while "competing" with Belisle, Fogg, and three unproven kids. If you're actually being given a legitimate shot at earning a rotaton slot, a couple of bad starts by March 13th isn't going to knock you out of that particular race. Affeldt is in the pen now because he was never a legitimate option for the rotation.
I don't mind paying the "going rate". It's just that I'd rather the Reds paid the "going rate" for only pitchers who really project to be good at their jobs.


I'm going to concede that I can't read Wayne's mind. I am far from being his biggest cheerleader on this board, as you know.

But, at the time of the signing, we needed depth badly.. both in the rotation and in the pen. It's a one year deal. He did ok last year with Colorado. The key to me is that it was a one year deal, not a Stanton albotross.

Lack of pitching depth has plagued the Reds for years. I'm glad Wayne at least didn't ignore the problem this year. Although I think he overpaid for Volequez, it's still nice that he added Fogg, Afedlt, and Volquez, as well as inviting Mercker and the other nonroster guys... because this team really needed some depth.
It's just not smart to head into the season, depending on a lot of innings from Belisle, rookies, and the cast of characters that filled last year's pen.

This might be the first year in a long time that we aren't forced to give guys like Michelek and Mays significant innings, as well as having the luxury not to "Rob Bell" any prospect that is not ready for prime time.

Yes, Fogg and Affedlt might be mediocre at best, but that's still an upgrade. I would've loved to see Wayne get impact pitchers instead, but apparently, the plan this year is to just be tolerable, not to win.

buckeyenut
03-25-2008, 05:02 PM
Why is it so for folks (on this board and more importantly, in the front office) to understand the concept of sunk costs? It does not cost us 3.5M to keep Stanton over Bray. We are on the hook for that 3.5M regardless. All it costs us is the difference between Bray's major league deal and his minor league deal, 300K or so.

WMR
03-25-2008, 05:03 PM
Why is it so for folks (on this board and more importantly, in the front office) to understand the concept of sunk costs? It does not cost us 3.5M to keep Stanton over Bray. We are on the hook for that 3.5M regardless. All it costs us is the difference between Bray's major league deal and his minor league deal, 300K or so.

GMs don't like admitting to handing out foolish contracts, especially during the last year of their contract.

princeton
03-25-2008, 05:05 PM
All it costs us is the difference between Bray's major league deal and his minor league deal, 300K or so.

to hear Dusty talk about it, the Reds sound like they're up against their budget limit and won't be able to go for many 350K additions.

But Wayne usually leaves a gap, unlike Bowden. So I figure that there remains room.

gm
03-25-2008, 05:57 PM
Maybe all this spring training stuff about Mercker being good is a smoke screen.

Watching KM walk 2 batters, get a mound visit from Baker and proceed to go 3-0 on the next hitter I was thinking to myself "I may be witnessing the last competitive inning of Kent's career" then he gets the broken bat liner and records two more routine outs

REDREAD
03-25-2008, 07:04 PM
I guess we'll find out how serious the Reds truly are about winning.

We already found out how serious the Reds were winning about this year over the winter.. there were many impact starting pitchers available which the Reds could've gotten, but instead they chose to go with a youth movement.

It's clearly obvious that they aren't going for it this year by design.

If they were going for it this year, they would've kept Hamilton and traded prospects for Haren (or another stud starter).

What they do with Stanton, Mercker and Bray is a minor compared to the opportunites they passed up this offseason.

REDREAD
03-25-2008, 07:07 PM
But Wayne usually leaves a gap, unlike Bowden. So I figure that there remains room.

I don't know about that. After Cordero was signed, the Reds pretty much stuck to low cost pickups.

I think the bigger difference is in ownership being flexible than the GM managing the budget. Cast will add payroll if the Reds are in the hunt. Too bad Wayne didn't spent it wisely 2 years ago. In contrast, Allen wouldn't add payroll to save the life of his own children..

WMR
03-25-2008, 07:24 PM
We already found out how serious the Reds were winning about this year over the winter.. there were many impact starting pitchers available which the Reds could've gotten, but instead they chose to go with a youth movement.

It's clearly obvious that they aren't going for it this year by design.

If they were going for it this year, they would've kept Hamilton and traded prospects for Haren (or another stud starter).

What they do with Stanton, Mercker and Bray is a minor compared to the opportunites they passed up this offseason.

Then Bob C. and his GM aren't on the same page.

jojo
03-25-2008, 07:57 PM
Watching KM walk 2 batters, get a mound visit from Baker and proceed to go 3-0 on the next hitter I was thinking to myself "I may be witnessing the last competitive inning of Kent's career" then he gets the broken bat liner and records two more routine outs

Veteran grit coupled with a proven track record....you just can't have enough of that on the roster or pay enough for that on the payroll....

SteelSD
03-26-2008, 12:47 AM
I'm going to concede that I can't read Wayne's mind. I am far from being his biggest cheerleader on this board, as you know.

But, at the time of the signing, we needed depth badly.. both in the rotation and in the pen. It's a one year deal. He did ok last year with Colorado. The key to me is that it was a one year deal, not a Stanton albotross.

The problem is that the "depth" needed by the Reds has been quality pitching depth. Affeldt doesn't represent that. He's a guy who put together the kind of Innings you'd normally see from a LOOGY (a little over 2 Outs per Appearance) in 2007, but who actually didn't perform as a solid LOOGY versus Lefty hitters. He's obviously not a starter or a swing-man due to a history of non-performance coupled with physical issues in that role, which reduces his value considerably. He has no real history of solid MLB performance, has a history of folks saying he has great "stuff" but has never backed that up with results or K rate, and has a history of poor command.

As far as quality "depth" goes, Jeremy Affeldt is pretty much a non-starter in more ways than one. One one hand, I'm happy that Krivsky and Co. gave such a pitcher only 11+ Innings in Spring Training to confirm to Affeldt that he should be in the pen. On the other hand, smart teams shouldn't be signing Jeremy Affeldt to three million dollar deals even for one year in order to slot him in a role he's only been semi-good at once in his life.


Yes, Fogg and Affedlt might be mediocre at best, but that's still an upgrade. I would've loved to see Wayne get impact pitchers instead, but apparently, the plan this year is to just be tolerable, not to win.

While I agree that the "plan" is to be "tolerable" (another word for "competitive"...sigh), I can at least understand the Josh Fogg signing. I don't agree with bringing bad pitchers in, but at 1M we have a guy making less than 700K over MLB minimum and who at least has a history of taking the mound. Don't get me wrong, there's a pretty good chance that Fogg ends up being Ramon Ortiz bad, but when you have nothing but kids for the final rotation slots, I can understand how a GM wants to have some kind of backup. It's a lame backup, and "mediocre" might actually represent high praise for Fogg, but I can see why he's here at 1M.

Affeldt? No reason for him to be anywhere near this franchise at 3M dollars. It's like the Reds mis-judged the offseason auction for talent and then bid higher than they needed to in order to acquire a player they already had.

2007 Jon Coutlangus

64 Games
41.0 IP
5.93 BB/9
8.34 K/9
0.66 HR/9

2007 Jeremy Affeldt

75 Games
59.0 IP
5.03 BB/9
7.02 K/9
0.46 HR/9

The difference between their respective DIPS rates over 59 Innings pitched, assuming exactly the same performance for 2007 equals five Runs. But here we have a first-time MLB performer in Coutlangus and a longer-term MLB perfomer in Affeldt. There's simply no way I pay over 2.5 million dollars more for Affeldt.

The Reds have consistently missed on relivers during Krivsky's tenure. They've missed to the point where they needed to dramatically overpay for the one Closer option (Cordero) who was right in front of everyone's face. With luck, they'll be able to put together a competent bullpen eventually. But at this point, I expect a whole lot more than luck and throwing talent and money at a problem that could have been solved by better analysis and gameplanning.

Caveat Emperor
03-26-2008, 01:06 AM
No doubt. Personally, I expect more of what flyer used to call "winning with caveats".

As opposed to "Winning, with Caveat!" -- which I sincerely hope will be the outcome whenever I'm at the ballpark.

Ron Madden
03-26-2008, 03:19 AM
The problem is that the "depth" needed by the Reds has been quality pitching depth. Affeldt doesn't represent that. He's a guy who put together the kind of Innings you'd normally see from a LOOGY (a little over 2 Outs per Appearance) in 2007, but who actually didn't perform as a solid LOOGY versus Lefty hitters. He's obviously not a starter or a swing-man due to a history of non-performance coupled with physical issues in that role, which reduces his value considerably. He has no real history of solid MLB performance, has a history of folks saying he has great "stuff" but has never backed that up with results or K rate, and has a history of poor command.

As far as quality "depth" goes, Jeremy Affeldt is pretty much a non-starter in more ways than one. One one hand, I'm happy that Krivsky and Co. gave such a pitcher only 11+ Innings in Spring Training to confirm to Affeldt that he should be in the pen. On the other hand, smart teams shouldn't be signing Jeremy Affeldt to three million dollar deals even for one year in order to slot him in a role he's only been semi-good at once in his life.



While I agree that the "plan" is to be "tolerable" (another word for "competitive"...sigh), I can at least understand the Josh Fogg signing. I don't agree with bringing bad pitchers in, but at 1M we have a guy making less than 700K over MLB minimum and who at least has a history of taking the mound. Don't get me wrong, there's a pretty good chance that Fogg ends up being Ramon Ortiz bad, but when you have nothing but kids for the final rotation slots, I can understand how a GM wants to have some kind of backup. It's a lame backup, and "mediocre" might actually represent high praise for Fogg, but I can see why he's here at 1M.

Affeldt? No reason for him to be anywhere near this franchise at 3M dollars. It's like the Reds mis-judged the offseason auction for talent and then bid higher than they needed to in order to acquire a player they already had.

2007 Jon Coutlangus

64 Games
41.0 IP
5.93 BB/9
8.34 K/9
0.66 HR/9

2007 Jeremy Affeldt

75 Games
59.0 IP
5.03 BB/9
7.02 K/9
0.46 HR/9

The difference between their respective DIPS rates over 59 Innings pitched, assuming exactly the same performance for 2007 equals five Runs. But here we have a first-time MLB performer in Coutlangus and a longer-term MLB perfomer in Affeldt. There's simply no way I pay over 2.5 million dollars more for Affeldt.

The Reds have consistently missed on relivers during Krivsky's tenure. They've missed to the point where they needed to dramatically overpay for the one Closer option (Cordero) who was right in front of everyone's face. With luck, they'll be able to put together a competent bullpen eventually. But at this point, I expect a whole lot more than luck and throwing talent and money at a problem that could have been solved by better analysis and gameplanning.

Steel speaks a whole lot of truth in this post.

We often hear Wayne praised for his rule five drafts, waiver wire pickups and players to be named later... while we turn a deaf ear to all of the time, talent, money spent, and his total incompetence of player evaluation in order to improve the bullpen of the Cincinnati Reds.

mth123
03-26-2008, 06:54 AM
Why is it so for folks (on this board and more importantly, in the front office) to understand the concept of sunk costs? It does not cost us 3.5M to keep Stanton over Bray. We are on the hook for that 3.5M regardless. All it costs us is the difference between Bray's major league deal and his minor league deal, 300K or so.

I think everybody gets that. The cost is really relinquishing the opportunity to move some of that contract off the books as opposed to just eating it. If Stanton could be moved while paying a portion of his salary, then the cost of disposing of him drops from $3.5 Million to something less which would mean that it isn't really a "sunk cost." I believe that is the decision that the front office is looking at. "Sunk costs" is an overly simplistic view of the situation with player contracts, though I suspect that in Stanton's case, no one wants him unless they can unload an even more expensive guy that they want rid of in exchange and it will probably come to the "sunk costs" decision. I'm just not sure the Reds are willing to concede that yet. Since Stanton is a breathing lefty, they may still find a taker.

Hal McCoy's article suggests that a Stanton for Wes Helms deal may be a valid option. Helm's makes $2.15 Million in 2008 and has a $750K buyout a the end. The Total cost for Helms would be $2.9 Million. Problem is, I'm not sure that there is room for Helms on the roster. The bench spots currently are Hopper, Freel, Hatte, Castro and Bako. I'm guessing if the Reds could free a spot with a Freel deal, it may lead to a couple other moves like that one.

MiLB.com has an article with the Dusty quote like this




"We have to make some decisions on some things in a lot of areas," Baker said. "It's not my money, but you hope that's not a determining factor. But it's part of baseball any time or any business. A team wants to stay on budget. I hate to take it down to the wire like this. It's unfair to the players and their families. But this is the situation we're in because of competition or because certain guys haven't really stepped it up ahead of the other guy."



That almost sounds like he is rooting for a couple of the NRI to make it an easy decision to be kept over some guys with contracts (Stanton, Castro, maybe Freel). Another thought is that Hairston or Cabrera is being considered over Hopper (.238/.267/.262 in spring) and the team is reluctant to sign them to a deal which would probably be in the $800K to $1 Million range.

I agree with Princeton that it sounds like this team is up against its budget ceiling and it is desperately trying to move a contract or two to create some room for a deal at the deadline. The reason that there are so many guys in camp this late is that they are being kept around to backfill for any player that is moved. It probably means that a deal will simply be to unload a guy for a minor leaguer and there is little hope for a boost to the bullpen out of it.

OnBaseMachine
03-26-2008, 11:37 AM
Bullpen remains a riddle
BY JOHN ERARDI | JERARDI@ENQUIRER.COM

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Confusion reigns. Reds manager Dusty Baker doesn't name names, but in his words you can see what's going round and round in his mind when its comes to the makeup of Monday's bullpen.

"We have to make some decisions on some things - in a lot of areas," Baker said. "It's not my money, but you hope that (money) is not a determining factor. In baseball, in any business, a team wants to stay under budget. We have a meeting (Tuesday) night when we get back. The truck leaves (today) for Cincinnati.

"I hate to take it down to the wire like this - it's really unfair to the players and their families - but it's a situation that we're in because of competition or because certain guys haven't really stepped it up ahead of the other guys."

Right now, it's impossible to handicap the last few spots in the bullpen. One must consider Mike Stanton's $3 million contract, Kent Mercker's impact on the bullpen as a whole, the fact that the young guys have options and can be called up later.

Not to mention, there is always this question, the one for which a TV show was named:

Who Do You Trust?

Inconsistent outings by various guys this spring haven't clearly identified those whose numbers deserve to be chosen when the bell rings for Opening Day.

It leads to a lot of talk, projection, speculation and exactly the condition the Reds brass are experiencing right now:

Procrastination.

Reds fans can only hope the brass has a better picture of what's going on than the fans do.

A bulllpen works in near anonymity in spring training, and in a glaring spotlight once the season begins.

Nobody knows better the stomach-flipping nature of a bad bullpen than do Reds fans. In Cincinnati, the eighth inning is where suspenseful games go to die.

It is against this backdrop that Baker runs out the relievers, watches them - and the hitters they face - like a hawk, and tries to come to a decision on who to bring north.

So much attention has been paid to the Reds' starting rotation. And rightly so, with the emergence of Johnny Cueto and the man who pitched here Tuesday afternoon for the Reds (Edinson Volquez) and some tantalizing questions about whether Homer Bailey can learn more in the minors or the majors right now.

Maybe it's good the bullpen has toiled far under the radar this spring. Maybe not. Everybody's assuming the bullpen will be better this year because ... well, how can it not be?

But Jared Burton hasn't had a great spring. And Jeremy Affeldt's been pitching batting practice.

But in a magical season for the Colorado Rockies last year, Affeldt was a key player. Don't you want a guy like that working for you?

Everybody likes Mercker - how can you not? - but do you take him north instead of Bill Bray, who had yet another terrific outing Tuesday afternoon?

And Stanton has pitched OK this spring, but, overall, his body of his work last season still has Reds fans waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

If fans are doing that, what do you think Baker's doing?

At least he gets paid big bucks for his worries. He and the rest of the Reds braintrust will earn their pay in the next few days.

And at least Baker's stomach got a good settling Tuesday when - following another good outing by starter Volquez - all the relievers (Bray, David Weathers, Francisco Cordero and Todd Coffey) pitched well. (Pay no attention to Cordero's line; poor fielding did him in. So bad that it's not worth reciting.)

Burton's a microcosm.

His spring, Baker said, is more a result of "weird things happening."

"Things like we don't make a play or something freaky happens," Baker said. "But I like what he's bringing to the table. He certainly has the stuff."

The ground ball Burton induced with the bases loaded Monday night was big.

"He did something that you're looking for a guy like him to do," Baker said. "You're looking for a guy who comes in and gets that double play. Man, that's big."

Affeldt, too, is a microcosm.

When he went from "candidate for the rotation" to "bullpen," he went from center stage to the B-room faster than Engelbert Humperdinck.

But just wait until the season starts and games are on the line. Reds fans will know Affeldt's name like he's Sinatra at the Sands.

Is Baker concerned about Affeldt?

"A bit concerned, just because he's been giving it up," Baker said. "But you have to go on his track record, too. He's almost throwing too many strikes sometimes, whereas before every once in awhile he'd get in that rut of not throwing enough strikes.

"We want to get him to the point of just throwing quality strikes and being comfortable and confident. He wears it all over his face."

He's not the only one.

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080326/SPT04/803260373

princeton
03-26-2008, 11:57 AM
I wonder how much Mercker makes if he makes the team? Patterson I heard $1mill, and Hairston is probably around there. Salmon might have had a good number as well.

REDREAD
03-27-2008, 02:46 PM
Affeldt? No reason for him to be anywhere near this franchise at 3M dollars. It's like the Reds mis-judged the offseason auction for talent and then bid higher than they needed to in order to acquire a player they already had.



Yes. It's a solid argument you present about Affedlt vs the in house options for a lefty reliever. That's why my theory is that Wayne had him in mind as a starter, before Fogg was in the fold.
I also agree that it was a less than optimal choice. For example, why not just offer Fogg 3 million with a short deadline and accomplish what you really want to do (obtain a mediocre starting pitcher for depth to cushion the youngsters).

In a way, it's comparable to signing Stanton when Cormeir was already on the roster, but at least Wayne only gave Affedlt 1 year, and I think Affedlt will be better than Stanton (but that is setting the bar low).

Wayne does have a long history of misjudging bullpen talent. Why he gave Stanton that huge contract when Chad Bradford signed for only slightly more will forever dumbfound me.





[The Reds have consistently missed on relivers during Krivsky's tenure. They've missed to the point where they needed to dramatically overpay for the one Closer option (Cordero) who was right in front of everyone's face. With luck, they'll be able to put together a competent bullpen eventually. But at this point, I expect a whole lot more than luck and throwing talent and money at a problem that could have been solved by better analysis and gameplanning.

Yes, I agree. Cordero is a big improvement, but they need more quality depth in the pen. I'm hoping Coffey emerges this year. I think he's got upside. If Belisle can get healthy, he's a competent middle reliever. Coutlangus isn't bad.

Coffey is our best chance at a solid setup man, IMO. It's possible Weathers might pull another magic act, but I'm hoping Coffey fills that role.

BRM
03-27-2008, 02:59 PM
C. Trent is pimping the idea of 3 catchers on his blog. Reason being is it frees up Javy to be the primary pinch-hitter. He claims Javy is the best PH'er on the team.

Personally, I'd rather see Bako sent to Louisville as injury insurance and have a legit stick on the bench.

Nugget
03-27-2008, 03:01 PM
Biggest and most interesting issue is not only the 25 man from C Trent but what about the 40 man - He brings up a good point - who gets cut from the 40 man - Livingston is on the DL and Capellan may be cut - but that still leaves Patterson, Cueto and Mercker to fit in.

RedsManRick
03-27-2008, 03:09 PM
Affeldt was paid 3M for the same reason Danny Graves was. We looked at his best work as a reliever and projected it in to a starting role, crossing our fingers that it would work. Steel hit the nail squarely on the head here. It's one thing to go out in to the free agent market and spend money acquiring something you cannot get any other way. It's quite another to go out and spend it on something you already have, particularly when doing so robs you of the chance to find out if that guy you have might actually be better, but likely isn't worse.

Not that it was a conscious action, but when it comes to guys like Affeldt, there's also a certain bit of CYA going on. If Krivksy signs Affeldt and Affeldt struggles, WK can place the blame on the "proven" pitcher who fell apart. If he gives the job to Coutlangus and Cooter struggles, WK has nobody to blame but himself. "Veteran presence" and "proven" are often simply code for "gets me off the hook for the decision if it doesn't work out while still letting me take credit if it does".

Team Clark
03-27-2008, 03:20 PM
Affeldt was paid 3M for the same reason Danny Graves was. We looked at his best work as a reliever and projected it in to a starting role, crossing our fingers that it would work. Steel hit the nail squarely on the head here. It's one thing to go out in to the free agent market and spend money acquiring something you cannot get any other way. It's quite another to go out and spend it on something you already have, particularly when doing so robs you of the chance to find out if that guy you have might actually be better, but likely isn't worse.

Not that it was a conscious action, but when it comes to guys like Affeldt, there's also a certain bit of CYA going on. If Krivksy signs Affeldt and Affeldt struggles, WK can place the blame on the "proven" pitcher who fell apart. If he gives the job to Coutlangus and Cooter struggles, WK has nobody to blame but himself. "Veteran presence" and "proven" are often simply code for "gets me off the hook for the decision if it doesn't work out while still letting me take credit if it does".


In this instance I have to 100% agree. My question (which is purely hypothetical) is if they knew Mercker or Bray was going to pitch this well and recover from their repsctive injuries would they have brought in Affeldt? I know, I know... Affeldt was brought into be a starter. (BTW, if anyone truly believes that then I have swamp land in Fla for sale.) You have Coutlangus as a decent option behind them in case someone hits the skids.

redsmetz
03-27-2008, 03:31 PM
In this instance I have to 100% agree. My question (which is purely hypothetical) is if they knew Mercker or Bray was going to pitch this well and recover from their repsctive injuries would they have brought in Affeldt? I know, I know... Affeldt was brought into be a starter. (BTW, if anyone truly believes that then I have swamp land in Fla for sale.) You have Coutlangus as a decent option behind them in case someone hits the skids.

Does bringing in Affeldt to have a chance mean Wayne was being a huckster? I don't agree with that assessment. When we signed Affeldt (from a weak FA market mind you), the three youngsters were question marks, although we now know WK intended Volquez in the rotation all along. Fogg had not been signed. I think they fully intended to give Affeldt a shot at making the rotation full well knowing that if he didn't succeed, he could easily be moved back to the pen. One certainly can question whether that's a good use of our resources, but I don't think stating he'd have a shot means they were pulling our leg. IMHO.

TRF
03-27-2008, 03:45 PM
We already found out how serious the Reds were winning about this year over the winter.. there were many impact starting pitchers available which the Reds could've gotten, but instead they chose to go with a youth movement.

It's clearly obvious that they aren't going for it this year by design.

If they were going for it this year, they would've kept Hamilton and traded prospects for Haren (or another stud starter).

What they do with Stanton, Mercker and Bray is a minor compared to the opportunites they passed up this offseason.

Keeping Hamilton and going for it are NOT synonymous. The Reds have tried the great offense route. Hasn't worked. Volquez was the right guy at the right time. Young, dominated three levels last year, comes from the AL. That he's cheap is gravy. Cueto pitched his way into the rotation, and ALL he has EVER done is produce at every level. Belisle was pegged to be the #3, and I firmly believe he'll be in the rotation. Fogg was insurance in case one of the three pitching prospects didn't kick the door down. Volquez was always going to be in the rotation.

Trading the Farm for Haren was not going to happen, and shouldn't have. The Reds have had highly rated prospects before, but never so many and at such an advanced level.

RedsManRick
03-27-2008, 03:52 PM
In this instance I have to 100% agree. My question (which is purely hypothetical) is if they knew Mercker or Bray was going to pitch this well and recover from their repsctive injuries would they have brought in Affeldt? I know, I know... Affeldt was brought into be a starter. (BTW, if anyone truly believes that then I have swamp land in Fla for sale.) You have Coutlangus as a decent option behind them in case someone hits the skids.

I don't think it has to be black and white. I think they brought him to give themselves another possible starter. Their mistaken calculus wasn't about his efficacy as a starter (I doubt they ever had him penciled in -- just going with a numbers approach and figuring worse case they'd get a solid lefty for the pen), but his efficacy as a reliever.

One thing that I think is not being discussed with Fogg nor Affeldt is the reality that the Rockies were among the best defensive teams in baseball last year (DER of .703) and the Reds were among the worst (DER of .682). That might not seem like a lot, but it means that for every 30 balls in play the Rockies turned in to outs, the Reds only got 29.

It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is. It translates in to an ~10% increase in amount of hits given up. Given that he walks a lot of guys, a few extra hits could be a fair bit of damage.

jojo
03-27-2008, 03:52 PM
Affeldt? No reason for him to be anywhere near this franchise at 3M dollars. It's like the Reds mis-judged the offseason auction for talent and then bid higher than they needed to in order to acquire a player they already had.

Affleldt's signing reveals a few things. First, they have a deficiency when it comes valuating major league talent. Second, Affeldt is really the down side of Krivsky's reliance on scouting. The Reds paid $3M for stuff.

mth123
03-27-2008, 08:15 PM
One thing about Affeldt that is not being presented here. He's a LHRP who had a run-of-the-mill-but-at-least-not-horrible season in 2008. None of the other LH relief options can make the claim to anything approaching that low bar level of effectiveness.

Just reminding everyone that standing pat would have been worse and I'm usually one who hates blowing millions on guys who aren't much better than on hand alternatives. I guess I just lack confidence in the left-overs from 2007. That includes the suddenly-a-Redszone-hero Bill Bray.

4256 Hits
03-27-2008, 09:56 PM
C. Trent is pimping the idea of 3 catchers on his blog. Reason being is it frees up Javy to be the primary pinch-hitter. He claims Javy is the best PH'er on the team.

Personally, I'd rather see Bako sent to Louisville as injury insurance and have a legit stick on the bench.

:help::lastyear::explode:

Javy is a good PH = Castro plays good defense

No matter how many times people say or type it, it doens't make it true.

KronoRed
03-28-2008, 01:46 AM
I thought Hatterberg was the PH guy on the bench.

3 catchers and 2 1st basemen? awesome