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Thread: Tough decisions looming for Reds

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    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    Tough decisions looming for Reds

    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/...=.jsp&c_id=cin

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  3. #2
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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    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.

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    I've said all along that I think the Reds keep Mercker. He's a Dusty kind of guy.

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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    there are not really tough decisions ... of course the Reds may still get them wrong.
    What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85 View Post
    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.

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    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.

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    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.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by boognish View Post
    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.
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    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.

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by MrCinatit View Post
    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.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85 View Post
    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.


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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    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.

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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    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.
    Thank you Walt and Bob for going for it in 2010-2014!

    Nov. 13, 2007: One of the greatest days in Reds history: John Allen gets the boot!

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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Tough decisions looming for Reds

    Sounds like a plan. Good post.
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