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WVRedsFan
12-29-2008, 12:09 AM
I see a lot of ahnd wringing around here since the acquisiton of Traveras. That's understandable considering his offensive statistics. I do see improvements at shortstop (if Gonzo comes back which is debatable) and catcher. Gonzalez, though not the defensive whiz that Krivsky said he was, is OK and does have some pop on occasion. Hernandez is twice the catcher any of our guys who played last year is. That may not be much, but it is an improvement.

Will the Reds win more games than they did in 2008. That's debatable. Improved catching is a plus and stability in center field (defensively) might be a plus if that comes to pass. Defensively, this team is a mess and continues to be. In the infield you have Votto, who may or may not become a stellar fielder, Phillips, who is the best at his position, Keppinger/Gonzalez, where I hope it's Gonzalez, and Encarnacion, who is a train wreck. It's simply not championship calliber. In the outfield, Bruce has a chance to be good, Traveras is a question mark, and left is a huge black hole. On offense, the big boppers are gone and the club is moving toward small ball. That means the pitching has to improve. Seen any moves in that direction lately? Not me.

What we have is a team that is marginally improved, but not improved enought to contend--same as the last three years. I'm not wringing my hands, though. The addition of Willy Traveras was not a major factor in keping this club below .500. Remember who led off for the Reds in the last few years? Willy Traveras in disguise. Until the coffers are opened to acquire free agents (providing we have the money), this is the way it always wil be. I've decided that enjoying baseball isn't based on winning in Cincinnati, since it's never going to happen.

HokieRed
12-29-2008, 01:35 PM
WV fan I think you're giving up at just the wrong time. The way I read it is we finally have a GM who knows the difference between a team with an actual chance to compete and one that has no chance. 2009 has no chance to compete for anything meaningful, so the game is to make it look like you're trying everything while not doing anything to hurt the team farther down the road--either through the acquisitions one makes or the kinds of contracts one extends. Jocketty is doing superbly. The prime area for improvement in this year's team is the rotation: Harang, Cueto, the #5, and the development of depth. Taveras is, as I see it, defensive insurance and a transitional centerfielder--he gets us to whoever will claim the position for the next several years, Dickerson, Stubbs, or Heisey. Left field in 2010 and beyond will be Joey Votto. 1b will be either Yonder Alonso or EE. 3b will likely be Todd Frazier or perhaps Juan Francisco, maybe even as early as 2010. The bullpen is filled with solid, if unspectacular, professional relievers, and it, too, will look quite different as early as 2010--Fisher, Roenicke, Manuel, maybe even Herrera could be part of that. So what we get to see in 2009 is the development of a whole host of interesting young players--Volquez, Cueto, the other starters, Votto, Bruce, Dickerson et. al. By August I think they will be pretty good, and we'll have a good read on what the team will look like when it starts to really have to be taken seriously--2010 and after.

WVRedsFan
12-29-2008, 03:27 PM
WV fan I think you're giving up at just the wrong time. The way I read it is we finally have a GM who knows the difference between a team with an actual chance to compete and one that has no chance. 2009 has no chance to compete for anything meaningful, so the game is to make it look like you're trying everything while not doing anything to hurt the team farther down the road--either through the acquisitions one makes or the kinds of contracts one extends. Jocketty is doing superbly. The prime area for improvement in this year's team is the rotation: Harang, Cueto, the #5, and the development of depth. Taveras is, as I see it, defensive insurance and a transitional centerfielder--he gets us to whoever will claim the position for the next several years, Dickerson, Stubbs, or Heisey. Left field in 2010 and beyond will be Joey Votto. 1b will be either Yonder Alonso or EE. 3b will likely be Todd Frazier or perhaps Juan Francisco, maybe even as early as 2010. The bullpen is filled with solid, if unspectacular, professional relievers, and it, too, will look quite different as early as 2010--Fisher, Roenicke, Manuel, maybe even Herrera could be part of that. So what we get to see in 2009 is the development of a whole host of interesting young players--Volquez, Cueto, the other starters, Votto, Bruce, Dickerson et. al. By August I think they will be pretty good, and we'll have a good read on what the team will look like when it starts to really have to be taken seriously--2010 and after.
Not giving up, just facing reality. What were the biggest needs? A decent CFer, a LFer, a third baseman who could field, a catcher, and a shortstop. How we doing? We've resgined some pitchers, traded for a catcher and a replacement level CFer.The left side of the defense is still just plain horrible and the offense is emasculated. Now, Jocketty might pull off some things prior to ST, but for now, it doesn't look good and lowered expectations seem to be the best plan of attack.

flyer85
12-29-2008, 03:36 PM
Will the Reds win more games than they did in 2008. They were around -90 in run differential in 2008 and the moves to this point don't look to impact that number greatly.

So if you want the Reds to be a winning team in 2009 you basically have to sign up for the pitching being lights out. Is it possible? Sure, but it isn't probable.

SMcGavin
12-29-2008, 03:48 PM
The 2009 pitching is going to be good. Probably not good enough to carry a bad offense, but at least average or better. That's why I don't buy the theory that the Reds never had a shot to compete this year. If the Reds got the offense just up to average, which was a doable task, I think they'd be playing meaningful games in September. But as things are looking right now, the offense will likely end up well short of average.

OnBaseMachine
12-29-2008, 06:29 PM
The 2009 pitching is going to be good. Probably not good enough to carry a bad offense, but at least average or better. That's why I don't buy the theory that the Reds never had a shot to compete this year. If the Reds got the offense just up to average, which was a doable task, I think they'd be playing meaningful games in September. But as things are looking right now, the offense will likely end up well short of average.

Agreed. The Reds basically had a league average pitching staff last year (Team ERA+ of 99) despite having Josh Fogg, Gary Majewski, Matt Belisle combine for 150ish innings of pure suckitude. Homer Bailey also struggled mightily and our ace struggled due to an injury. With seemingly the same solid bullpen (plus Roenicke), the health of Harang, and improvement of Cueto, I expect this pitching staff to be above average assuming the defense is improved. If Jocketty can put together a league average offense then I could see the 2009 Reds playing meaningful games late into the season.

BuckeyeRedleg
12-29-2008, 07:36 PM
Agreed. The Reds basically had a league average pitching staff last year (Team ERA+ of 99) despite having Josh Fogg, Gary Majewski, Matt Belisle combine for 150ish innings of pure suckitude. Homer Bailey also struggled mightily and our ace struggled due to an injury. With seemingly the same solid bullpen (plus Roenicke), the health of Harang, and improvement of Cueto, I expect this pitching staff to be above average assuming the defense is improved. If Jocketty can put together a league average offense then I could see the 2009 Reds playing meaningful games late into the season.

True, but what about the possibility that we get the Volquez of the 2nd half as opposed to the Volquez from the 1st half?

I'd say we'd be lucky to get a combo of the two, but the possibilty exists that he doesn't put up the same numbers in 2009. His first 10 or so starts were ridiculous.

HokieRed
12-29-2008, 08:12 PM
I'm very hopeful about our pitching staff, but to be more realistic, our getting better than league average means Harang's recovery, Cueto's improvement, Bronson's staying about even, Volquez's not regressing, and solving the dilemma of the fifth starter (lack of which is why we got a lot of last year's suckitude). These are, IMO, too many things to expect to all happen for a league average staff to get good enough to be a contending staff. This is a year for getting Harang back on track, getting needed experience for Cueto and Volquez, getting the fifth starter position solidified, and getting some added value for the other guys currently on the margin--so that the right ones of them can be moved to get other things we need. That gives me a lot of hope for 2009 and a lot to be interested in, but does not persuade me this team has any chance to be a serious contender for the post season.

SMcGavin
12-29-2008, 10:14 PM
True, but what about the possibility that we get the Volquez of the 2nd half as opposed to the Volquez from the 1st half?

I'd say we'd be lucky to get a combo of the two, but the possibilty exists that he doesn't put up the same numbers in 2009. His first 10 or so starts were ridiculous.

I do expect a regression from Volquez. That will be overcome though by the improvements I expect from each of the other four rotation spots. The bullpen will probably be a bit worse (it really was quite good in 08).

TRF
12-29-2008, 10:21 PM
Regression from Volquez is easily countered by overall better pitching from the #5 spot alone. There is no reason to think Harang from 2008 will repeat, so that's two spots improved. Arroyo has to remain about the same, so the wild card is Cueto.

Can Johnny Cueto progress as a pitcher in 2009. He's got a few things going against him. 1st there is a potential sophomore slump. Can he mature as a pitcher and adjust? 2nd, he's pitching both winter ball and in the WBC. that's a lot of innings. 3rd, and this goes really to mu first point: expectations has he matured enough as a person to handle the increased expectations on him?

SMcGavin
12-29-2008, 10:27 PM
I'm very hopeful about our pitching staff, but to be more realistic, our getting better than league average means Harang's recovery, Cueto's improvement, Bronson's staying about even, Volquez's not regressing, and solving the dilemma of the fifth starter (lack of which is why we got a lot of last year's suckitude).

Go down the list you just made.

Harang's recovery: 3.75 ERA
Cueto's improvement: 4.00 ERA
Bronson staying even: 4.75 ERA
Volquez not regressing: 3.25 ERA
Solving the fifth starter dilemma: 4.75 ERA

Average those five ERAs (a little inaccurate since in reality your top pitchers throw more innings thus should be weighted more, but it's just an estimate): 4.10 ERA from the rotation. League average starter has a 4.41 ERA. If all those things you mentioned come true, the Reds won't have a league average rotation, they'll have a very good rotation. Of course, all those things happening are unlikely - but we shouldn't act like the Reds need all of them to happen to have a solid rotation.

HokieRed
12-29-2008, 10:54 PM
Go down the list you just made.

Harang's recovery: 3.75 ERA
Cueto's improvement: 4.00 ERA
Bronson staying even: 4.75 ERA
Volquez not regressing: 3.25 ERA
Solving the fifth starter dilemma: 4.75 ERA

Average those five ERAs (a little inaccurate since in reality your top pitchers throw more innings thus should be weighted more, but it's just an estimate): 4.10 ERA from the rotation. League average starter has a 4.41 ERA. If all those things you mentioned come true, the Reds won't have a league average rotation, they'll have a very good rotation. Of course, all those things happening are unlikely - but we shouldn't act like the Reds need all of them to happen to have a solid rotation.

2008:
Harang: 4.78
Cueto: 4.81
Arroyo: 4.77
Volquez: 3.21
Owings: 5.93
(other prominent candidates for the 5th spot: Bailey 7.93, Thompson 6.91, Ramirez 2.67)

I stick to my original point. The likelihood of this group putting up the numbers you project for 2009 seems to me extremely slim.

OnBaseMachine
12-30-2008, 12:48 AM
It seems like everyone wants to ignore Harang's past and judge him on 2008.

SMcGavin
12-30-2008, 01:24 AM
I stick to my original point. The likelihood of this group putting up the numbers you project for 2009 seems to me extremely slim.

I'm not projecting those numbers. The entire point of my post, if you did read it, was that those numbers don't need to happen for the Reds pitching to be pretty good.

WVRedsFan
12-30-2008, 01:30 AM
It seems like everyone wants to ignore Harang's past and judge him on 2008.

That's the closest to what we've seen. I expect Aaron Harang to be somewhere between the 3.75 we expect and the 4.78 we got last year. About 4.00. Not bad and not so good. Aaron's problem is his ability to give up the long ball which I do not expect to change.

As for the others, it's pretty much a crap shoot. I expect Arroyo to do what he always does--good some days and horrible the next. Volquez will not duplicate 2008, but he'll be OK. Cueto...who knows? If he can harnass his temper and get a little bit smarter, he might be the ace. IF. The big question is what happens after that? It's an unknown. Could ge good and could be horribly bad. If a reliable 5th starter can be acquired, I will breathe a bit easier, but if not, and we get Josh Fogg II, Uh Oh.

Too many questions and not enough answers.

Mario-Rijo
12-30-2008, 06:46 AM
It seems like everyone wants to ignore Harang's past and judge him on 2008.

I agree it's maddening. For a lot of guys maybe you figure they fell off a cliff potentially and maybe due to the injury he did fall off a tad (hard to tell) but basing one's opinion on a year where he was obviously hurt and for quite some time is ludicrous. But to take it a bit further Bronson Arroyo has shown to be a guy who will sit between 4.00 and 4.50 but it's somehow a stretch to think he can't do that? I've said it every year he has been here, he starts well has troubles in June-ish and pitches ok or a little better the rest of the year. This year it was a little longer than usual, is that a decline or just bad luck? There's certainly no proof of a decline, and if you look at boths last 10 or so starts I'd say there's proof of just the opposite. All players will have down years and IMO those 2 did.

Cueto and Volquez, who knows they have very little track record but no one argues they have good stuff so barring a complete mental meltdown or god forbid an injury I think it's a good bet they will be solid. The 5th spot I feel more comfortable with, between Owings, Ramirez and Darryl Thompson I think we can get better production than last season.

One thing I would hate to see is the pitchers have a good season and it be wasted because of a lack of vision. This team can compete now for the playoffs, no I don't necc. see them as legit contenders for a championship but if you just get in the playoffs that's a major win for this franchise and in more than 1 way.

GAC
12-30-2008, 09:20 AM
I don't care how much improved this rotation might be. I'll give you that just for the sake of argument.

To coin the words of a famous politician (with a slight twist), and not to be taken personally....

"IT'S THE OFFENSE STUPID!"

What have we done in this off-season to really address a team that was close to the bottom tier in all of MLB in most offensive categories worth tracking? Other then they were up there in Hrs. That's gonna drop too.

It can't simply be "voodoo baseball" of addition through subtraction, like ridding ourselves of CPatt, Ross, Valentin, and a few others.

YOU HAVE TO ADD!

According to our GM/owner, we are placing our hopes on the further maturation of young players like Bruce, Votto, and EE. My opinion? When it comes to Votto and EE, what you see is pretty much what you're going to get...

Votto... .368 OB% .506 SLG% .874 OPS
Encarnacion... .340 OB% .466 SLG% .806 OPS

You should see improvement from Bruce (if he cuts down on that swing)

You hope to get the '07 performance from Phillips in '09. ;)

After that... whatcha got?

You've added a catcher that has OPS'd .714 over the last two years, and whose defense is so-so. How he'll do at GABP I have no idea.

You've added another speedster in Wee Willy Winkle to the mix for the lead-of spot, when Stevie Wonder could find 1B before he could.

It looks like the Island of Misfit Toys.

I'm a loyal Reds fan, and will follow this team diligently in '09 (thanks FSN Ohio); but I'm not buying what this FO is trying to sell me. I may be stupid, but I'm not ignorant.

It's like trying to peddle Hudepohl on me over Sam Adams.

Mario-Rijo
12-30-2008, 10:48 AM
I don't care how much improved this rotation might be. I'll give you that just for the sake of argument.

To coin the words of a famous politician (with a slight twist), and not to be taken personally....

"IT'S THE OFFENSE STUPID!"

What have we done in this off-season to really address a team that was close to the bottom tier in all of MLB in most offensive categories worth tracking? Other then they were up there in Hrs. That's gonna drop too.

It can't simply be "voodoo baseball" of addition through subtraction, like ridding ourselves of CPatt, Ross, Valentin, and a few others.

YOU HAVE TO ADD!

According to our GM/owner, we are placing our hopes on the further maturation of young players like Bruce, Votto, and EE. My opinion? When it comes to Votto and EE, what you see is pretty much what you're going to get...

Votto... .368 OB% .506 SLG% .874 OPS
Encarnacion... .340 OB% .466 SLG% .806 OPS

You should see improvement from Bruce (if he cuts down on that swing)

You hope to get the '07 performance from Phillips in '09. ;)

After that... whatcha got?

You've added a catcher that has OPS'd .714 over the last two years, and whose defense is so-so. How he'll do at GABP I have no idea.

You've added another speedster in Wee Willy Winkle to the mix for the lead-of spot, when Stevie Wonder could find 1B before he could.

It looks like the Island of Misfit Toys.

I'm a loyal Reds fan, and will follow this team diligently in '09 (thanks FSN Ohio); but I'm not buying what this FO is trying to sell me. I may be stupid, but I'm not ignorant.

It's like trying to peddle Hudepohl on me over Sam Adams.

I doubt anyone disagrees with you.

But I think most get tired of hearing how a guy has one bad year and all of sudden he's a major question mark. Maybe he is but odds are against it so why fall on the side that's most unlikely? Because you really saw something that makes you believe he has truly slipped? If so put it out there and let's discuss the merits of that issue. If not then it's simply a feeble attempt to support a position that's low on the current priority list.

In other words like you stated why are we discussing pitching when the offense is the current priority and pitching (esp. of the starting variety) obviously isn't a thought for the F.O. The answer could be that the point of the thread is to take in the current team again and find out how we are looking at this point and what needs attention yet, at least that's what I gathered. That would require including the pitching to some extent.

boognish
12-30-2008, 11:04 AM
Very strong post, GAC.

The scary thing about the team now is that all three facets must be improved: offense, pitching, and defense.

Pitching: the rotation looks solid, even if Cueto doesn't take the leap forward many assume so long as Harang rebounds somewhat. Here's to hoping his lost velocity is fixed with his recovery from injury. The bodies which should serve as rotational filler in the event of an injury (Owings, Ramirez, Bailey, et al) are an improvement over the likes of Fogg, Kim, Mays, and other stiffs who have typically fulfilled that function.

I am leery of the 'pen insofar as repeating last year's performance, but I expect Cordero to be a bit better than last season--granted, much of this stems from Baker's anecdotal information that Frankie Four Fingers' control problems came from the bone spurs in his landing foot--and Rhodes should be an effective LOOGY if Bray cannot take a step forward. Here's to hoping Lincoln can curtail the gopherballs, but if he cannot, there are plenty of places to find low-leverage arms on the proverbial "bone pile." Again hoping...hopefully Weathers doesn't lose that last tiny bit that completely negates any semblance of effectiveness his guile confers. He is walking a tightrope at this point, and to be truthful (as one of Weathers' few fans) he was doing so last season.

Defense: Must be improved, especially the millstone represented by the left side of the infield. Keppinger must not be permitted to start 100 games at SS again, and I'd like to see as little of Hairston as possible at such an important position. I like Janish, but am not convinced his D is appreciably above average...leaving Gonzo, from whom nobody knows what to expect. SS must be upgraded, considering 3B will likely not be as the team desperately needs EE's league-average O.

CF is a step back because Patterson was very good out there. The only good thing about signing Taveras--which I hated--is that NoHo will not be pulling his customary Vasco da Gama act on fly balls. I think his defense is worse than Freel's...allowing that most metrics (SSS) say otherwise. RF will be an improvement due to Griffey playing about 90 games out there. Provided a good glove is found for SS, the Reds shouldn't be one of the bottom teams in defensive efficiency, which is sadly a position to which they have become accustomed.

Offense: A top run producer must be procured, and the logical place would be LF, or, less likely, acquiring another player to bump EE or Votto to LF. Handedness should not matter as much as the FO seems to indicate. My preference would be Dunn or Ramirez, but there is about as much chance of either of them starting in LF on opening day as there is of me starting there. Abreu wouldn't be bad either but the fears: too much $/years, Baker will stick his declining glove in RF out of "respect," etc. make it less than optimal. We are all waiting to see how the starting 8 shake out.

I think the current level of umbrage on the site is in large part due to the fact that everyone sees changes must be made and the acquisitions thus far have inspired milquetoast reaction at the most.

HokieRed
12-30-2008, 11:11 AM
[QUOTE=Mario-Rijo;1787309]I agree it's maddening. For a lot of guys maybe you figure they fell off a cliff potentially and maybe due to the injury he did fall off a tad (hard to tell) but basing one's opinion on a year where he was obviously hurt and for quite some time is ludicrous.


I don't know that I've seen anyone basing a projection about Harang simply on last year's performance. The serious point about Harang is that it's very difficult to know what to project for him this year, in some measure because we don't really know how what the status of his injury is at this point. What is surely more certain is that conversation is rarely promoted by calling some points of view "ludicrous."

GAC
12-30-2008, 11:29 AM
But I think most get tired of hearing how a guy has one bad year and all of sudden he's a major question mark.

If you're referring to Harang, then I'd agree. But if you're referring to Willy - he's been a regular since 2005 (4 years). And he's had three bad years compared to one good year (2007). That's why I laugh at our FO that says they HOPE he can recapture the magic of that '07 season.

I'm going with the odds. ;)

jojo
12-30-2008, 11:29 AM
It seems like everyone wants to ignore Harang's past and judge him on 2008.

Here's the thing about Harang's '08. It's not appropriate to act like it didn't happen either. His '08 has got to effect his projections going forward.

That doesn't mean he won't be effective in the next few years, it just means there is reason to adjust expectations.

OnBaseMachine
12-30-2008, 11:31 AM
I fully expect to see the 2005-2007 Aaron Harang in 2009. I have no reason to believe he won't return to form. He pitched very good toward the end of the year after returning from injury. His first two starts were rough but he was fine after that.

Mario-Rijo
12-30-2008, 11:36 AM
I don't know that I've seen anyone basing a projection about Harang simply on last year's performance. The serious point about Harang is that it's very difficult to know what to project for him this year, in some measure because we don't really know how what the status of his injury is at this point. What is surely more certain is that conversation is rarely promoted by calling some points of view "ludicrous."

To your 1st point, they have to be basing it on last year because they act as if he cannot be counted on to be what he was prior to last year. They seem to be presuming that last year was an indication that he is sliding. That could be but no one has really given any strong evidence to support such a claim.

To your second point I agree, but it was the best word I could think of at the time to convey my feelings. Not an attempt to offend those of that opinion as much as it might have seemed. Chalk it up to frustration and not the arrogance that it may have appeared to be.

Mario-Rijo
12-30-2008, 11:38 AM
If you're referring to Harang, then I'd agree. But if you're referring to Willy - he's been a regular since 2005 (4 years). And he's had three bad years compared to one good year (2007). That's why I laugh at our FO that says they HOPE he can recapture the magic of that '07 season.

I'm going with the odds. ;)

Not referring to Willy at all.

jojo
12-30-2008, 11:50 AM
I fully expect to see the 2005-2007 Aaron Harang in 2009. I have no reason to believe he won't return to form. He pitched very good toward the end of the year after returning from injury. His first two starts were rough but he was fine after that.

I hope you're right. But I also hope that Jocketty isn't expecting Harang to post a sub 3.70 FIP next season in order for the moves Jocketty has recently made (and the next ones he's surely still contemplating) to make sense in terms of the playoffs.