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Thread: Around the Horn: Rotation

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    Worst Behavior. reds44's Avatar
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    Around the Horn: Rotation

    http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/...=.jsp&c_id=cin

    CINCINNATI -- Those skeptical about the 2008 Reds will likely be quick to point to their rotation.

    It's for a good reason. The team's chances at contending could very well rest on some pitchers with little or no Major League starting experience. If the young guys are as advertised, it could be an electric summer in Cincinnati. If they're not ready, it could mean lights-out again for any playoff aspirations.

    How's that for pressure?

    Cincinnati boasts just two established big league starters in ace Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, and of the two only Harang is coming off a superlative year. The pool of candidates for the remaining three spots includes Matt Belisle, Jeremy Affeldt, Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Matt Maloney.

    Belisle has logged 37 big league starts, Affeldt has 42 and Volquez has 20. Bailey has just nine and Cueto and Maloney have zero starts in the Majors and a combined seven starts in Triple-A.

    Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky doesn't view this as a problem and instead exudes optimism.

    "We've got a nice bunch, especially the young guys," Krivsky said. "We've got four guys, 21-24, in Bailey, Volquez, Maloney and Cueto. With Jeremy, Belisle and the rest of our guys, we've got some depth."

    Once again, the rotation begins with the consistent Harang, who is coming off back-to-back 16-win seasons. He was 16-6 with a 3.73 ERA and a career-high 218 strikeouts in 231 2/3 innings last season, while ranking among National League leaders in starts (34), innings and strikeouts. His 39 wins since the 2005 All-Star break are fifth most in the Majors.

    Indications of Arroyo's mixed 2007 season: He led the club with 22 quality starts but also in losses with a 9-15 record and 4.23 ERA in 210 2/3 innings. He was victimized five times by blown saves. It was a disappointment for the right-hander that was an All-Star and 14-game winner in 2006. In one May-June stretch of nine starts, Arroyo was 0-7 with a 7.28 ERA.

    The Reds will need Arroyo to match Harang's consistency. Because after the top two, the rotation carries several "X" factors.

    Belisle had a bumpy conversion from reliever to starter last season. The 27-year-old was 8-9 with a 5.32 ERA, 26 homers allowed and one complete game in 30 starts and 177 2/3 innings. The season also included a two-week demotion to Triple-A Louisville in August.

    "I did a lot of things that I could and should have done better," Belisle said in December. "But I did a lot of things well and I'm proud of that. I'm not complacent by any means and I'm super excited because my focus is to be behind Harang and Arroyo and to win a lot of ballgames for this club this year. I want to eat up a lot of innings and be a stable force in that rotation."

    Affeldt, who was a reliever with the Rockies last season, signed a one-year, $3 million contract with Cincinnati with the purpose of competing for a rotation spot. The 28-year-old was once a promising starter with the Royals but his record wasn't pretty.

    In 42 games and 216 1/3 innings as a starter, Affeldt was 8-17 with a 5.41 ERA, 127 strikeouts and 96 walks. Limited to using a 92-94 mph fastball and a curveball as a reliever, he will have to perfect a changeup as a third pitch during camp with pitching coach Dick Pole.

    "We're hoping Jeremy can adjust to starting," manager Dusty Baker said.

    Bailey, 21, still remains the Reds' top pitching prospect that has done all he can do in the Minors. But he has yet to establish himself in the Majors. In his nine starts with Cincinnati, Bailey was 4-2 with a 5.76 ERA and battled with a groin injury.

    Although he can hit 96-98 mph often, improved control will be a big focus for Bailey this year. In his big league games, he allowed just as many walks (28) as he earned strikeouts.

    The Reds liked Volquez enough to trade promising star Josh Hamilton to the Rangers for the right-hander on Dec. 21. The 24-year-old was the Rangers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2007 after working through three different levels and the Majors. Combined at Class A, Double-A and Triple-A, he was 14-6 with a 3.67 ERA and 166 strikeouts over 144 2/3 innings. With Texas, he was 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six starts.

    Scouting reports praised Volquez's 92-94 mph fastball, a hard curveball, an above average changeup and decent mound presence. Like Bailey, he's topped out in the Minors and needs to show he can stick in the Majors.

    Combined at Class A Sarasota, Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, the 21-year-old Cueto was a combined 12-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 161 1/3 innings. At just 5-foot-11 and175 pounds, some observers knock the right-hander's size to be durable enough as a starter. But he's believed to have as good or better stuff than Bailey and successfully worked an additional 31 innings in Dominican winter ball.

    Krivsky has indicated he'd like Cueto to get more Triple-A seasoning and the same could be likewise for Maloney. The left-hander, acquired in July from the Phillies for Kyle Lohse, appears to be a steal.

    Combined at Double-A and Triple-A last season, Maloney was 13-10 with a 3.64 ERA. After the trade, he struck out 62 batters compared to just nine walks.

    With six pitchers vying for three rotation openings, competition should be one of the most interesting subplots when Spring Training opens Feb. 16 in Sarasota, Fla.

    "They don't have the track record yet but they have stuff," said of his candidates. "They have the mental makeup. They've got the physical ability to do it. We're talking about guys that have tremendous stuff and it's going to be fun watching them pitch this spring. You can only have five starters. We'll let the competition take care of it. I'd rather be in this situation having a few too many than not enough."

    "The guy I think could be really good in center is Adam Dunn. If someone asked me if Dunn could be a center fielder for the next 10 years, if he started working on it, no one could explain to me why he couldn’t do it." - Brad Kullman

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    "We're hoping Jeremy can adjust to starting," manager Dusty Baker said.
    Thanks Dusty.

    No really, thanks.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    You read that article, you think -- "not a contender."

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by Kc61 View Post
    You read that article, you think -- "not a contender."
    Nothing the Reds have done recently make me think "contender" or "winner".

    Hiring Dusty Baker and signing Francisco Cordero were nothing more than smoke and mirrors misdirection moves.

    Give Dunn his LTC, and then maybe I'll think we're moving in the right direction.

    Find a positive solution to the OF for post-Griffey, and then maybe I'll think we're moving in the right direction.

    Don't act, think or speak that Volquez and Bailey are the bubblegum or duct tape that will hold the Reds together in 2008.

    I'm just bothered by the Reds on so many levels right now, it's very frustrating.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Still a nickel-and-dime organization. All talk.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    Still a nickel-and-dime organization. All talk.
    So how do they change the culture?

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Actually, I read it as many believe as well: The Reds have not had this much starting pitching talent since the Wilson Admin.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by Aronchis View Post
    Actually, I read it as many believe as well: The Reds have not had this much starting pitching talent since the Wilson Admin.
    Well, the Nixon adminstration at least. Really the staffs the Reds had starting about the time Sparky arrived (although you could see it starting up in '69 with the acquisition of Jim Merritt) were decent staffs - never anything really sexy, but good "meat and potatoes" pitchers. Of course, some of those pitchers in the 1st half of the 1970's had their arms fall off, but we had some good pitchers on those staffs - very unheralded and overshadowed by the absolute depth of the various BRM versions (circa 1970 to 1976)
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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    The 2008 rotation is filled w/ so many ????? it can turn your stomach -- but really I found that article a little bit uplifting... 2007 started as: Harang, Arroyo, Lohse, Milton, Belisle... I gotta think this is a more promising group... if someone fails.. they can easily be replaced w/ someone in AAA or the bullpen who may or may not take up the slack... I really hope (and have a gut feeling) this is going to be Bailey's year.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by hippie07 View Post
    The 2008 rotation is filled w/ so many ????? it can turn your stomach -- but really I found that article a little bit uplifting... 2007 started as: Harang, Arroyo, Lohse, Milton, Belisle... I gotta think this is a more promising group... if someone fails.. they can easily be replaced w/ someone in AAA or the bullpen who may or may not take up the slack... I really hope (and have a gut feeling) this is going to be Bailey's year.
    Yes sir. Call me an optimist (that is rare on here), but I think Belisle and Volquez will both prove capable. I'm more concerned that the Reds will do something stupid with that last spot and get Bailey or Cueto hurt with long lasting effects.

    I still think the bullpen will be stenchy (but better than the last couple years) and the team will not move above .500.
    "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it." --BABE RUTH

    Having better players makes "the right time" or "the big hit" happen a lot more often. PLUS PLUS

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by hippie07 View Post
    The 2008 rotation is filled w/ so many ????? it can turn your stomach.

    I like question marks. We used to staff with confirmed losers.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by princeton View Post
    I like question marks. We used to staff with confirmed losers.
    Amen to that brother!

    These are big IFS, but they are our big IFS and for the first time in many a year, the pitchers competing for the last three spots in the rotation have huge upsides, and low costs for at least three years. I'm excited to have this bunch rather than Uncle Milty and his ilk that have populated the staff over the last 10 years.

    I guess those on the half full side and those on the half empty side will know in a few months what was really in that glass.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by Strikes Out Looking View Post
    Amen to that brother!

    These are big IFS, but they are our big IFS and for the first time in many a year, the pitchers competing for the last three spots in the rotation have huge upsides, and low costs for at least three years. I'm excited to have this bunch rather than Uncle Milty and his ilk that have populated the staff over the last 10 years.

    .
    Sure.

    But you *do* remember how many folks were excited about Milton, right?

    I think the big problem *is* that the "IFs" are "our IFs." It's why I have a shred of hope for Volquez, as he is not "our IF." He was raised in another system. That has to help.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    I think the big problem *is* that the "IFs" are "our IFs." It's why I have a shred of hope for Volquez, as he is not "our IF." He was raised in another system. That has to help.
    I have hope for Maloney because, like Volquez, he's from another place (your mighty Phils) and because, unlike Volquez, he has yet to pitch like a nibblet in the majors.

    but that's probably only because he hasn't tried yet.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Rotation

    The answers to the IF's and ???? seemed to be these stats you guys call peripherals.

    What do they say about a staff in 2008 of Harang, Arroyo, Belisle, Volquez and Bailey?
    "Is there a problem officers?"


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