I am just a blogger and don’t complain to be an expert on managing and assembling a major league ball club, but I’d like to make a few observations about the Reds 20 games into the season.
The starting pitching literally could not be worse. They rank last in the NL with a 6.11 ERA with the second place team having a 5.40 ERA. That is a lot worse than even second to worse! So far the Reds best starting pitcher has been Mike Leake as he has the only win that a Reds starter has this season. Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo are making 20+ million this season, and a Reds club without those two would have some $$$$ to spend on what Jocketty sees fit. Since Arroyo and Harang have not been great anyway I dont think the Reds would lose ANYTHING if they were traded and young pitchers were brought up.
I think a lot of Walt Jocketty and I think with $20 million he can do a lot. If Harang and Arroyo departed, the Reds rotation would look something like the following:
1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mike Leake (pictured)
3. Aroldis Chapman
4. Homer Bailey
5. Travis Wood
Cueto and Bailey havent been great thus far but I do not worry about them because they are still improving and have electric stuff as long as their focus and concentration is high. You cannot coach the type of talent that they were born with. Mike Leake looks like he is in the majors to stay barring a turn for the worst. Aroldis Chapman….well we know about him. My opinion is that he is ready. Finally Travis Wood showed in Spring Training that he was ready for the bigs. He almost won the 5th starters spot but just lost out to Mike Leake.
This is different from Reds fire selling as they have done occasionally in the past. ALL of these players that would be coming up are READY for the big leagues. The Reds also have Matt Maloney who is major league ready when he gets an opportunity.
Walt Jocketty can take a lesson from teams like the Marlins. The Marlins have opted to stick with young pitching for years. Guys like Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad, and Ricky Nolasco have been given the vote of confidence by their managers and their organization and though at times they have struggled, they comprise a pretty good staff down in Miami. Youngster Josh Johnson is the ace of the staff and the Marlins brought him up early but he learned from struggles and is now a dominant pitcher.
Cueto needs to keep improving. He seems to ride an emotional rollercoaster while he is on the mound. He will occasionally lose confidence and concentration and will begin to overthrow. For Johnny, CONSISTENCY is the name of the game
Homer Bailey…unfortunately he was way too overhyped 2 years ago. Still though he has added a cut fastball and looked to be figuring things out last year when he finished 6-1 and was the national league pitcher of the month for september. When he walks guys and cannot throw strikes, he gets into trouble and works a high pitch count. Early this year, he has been plagued by leaving ball over the plate where hitters can drive the ball. When he can locate his pitches, he if awfully tough so for him the key if LOCATION.
I would really like to see Walt Jocketty have $20 million to improve the club. And a rotation of Cuetto, Leake, Chapman, Bailey, and Wood would be awfully exciting. Up and down but really intriguing. Not to mention Chapman would sell some serious tickets. We’ll see. For the foreseeable future Arroyo and Harang are here. Hopefully they will be effective and the Reds will be able to win!
As Spring Training continues to progress and now near its conclusion, most roster spots for the Reds have been determined with the exception of a couple of backup roles. The most pressing question remaining is who will be the fifth starter in the Reds rotation: Homer Bailey or Micah Owings.
Owings was aquired from Arizona in the Adam Dunn deal. He was shut down at the end of last season due to a minor shoulder ailment. The Reds were out of the playoff race when Owings arrived and did not want to risk further injury just to have Owings pitch a couple of games. This spring Owings has been impressive, posting a 1.52 ERA and having a 2.5:1 K/BB ratio. Owings is also one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball and Dusty Baker has said that he would not hesitate to have Owings pinch hit at any time (let me be clear though: I dont think Owings should be converted to an outfielder like some Reds fans have suggested).
However, Owings has some stiff competition for the fifth spot. New confidence, and a willingness to accept coaching has led to Homer Bailey’s putting together a great spring as well. Most Reds fans thought Bailey would be etched in stone in the Reds rotation at this point but he has had many struggles. This Spring however has been a good one. Bailey has posted a 2.61 ERA while striking out 20 and only walking four. Poor control had been Bailey’s nemesis in his first two broken seasons in the majors.
Bailey made what will probably be his final spring start April 1st and was good allowing only 2 earned runs and striking out 8 in 6 innings.
So Dusty Baker’s options are this:
1-Owings gets the spot and Bailey goes to the bullpen for long relief and is the replacement for anyone in the rotation who might get hurt.
2-Owings gets the spot and Bailey gets sent down yet again (I do not want this to happen)
3-Bailey wins the spot and Owings is either sent down or possibly (but I doubt it) sent to long relief.
While I would love to see Bailey in the rotation. I would opt for option one if I was the Reds. Bailey gets major league experience and Owings has his chance to continue to strive to reach his potential and both pitchers are put to good use. What will Dusty do? I think he will give the spot to Owings. It should be interesting to see. Please comment because I would love to know what other Reds fans are hoping for and when the decision is made, I would love to hear your reactions.
Go Reds! Its Skyline Time!
The Reds have once again called up Homer Bailey from AAA Louisville. This will be his fourth time with the big league club, and he is entering a definite crossroads in his career. Marty Brenamen, the great Reds radio broadcaster, recently said that one reason for Bailey’s struggles was that he pitched so well in the minors at such a young age that he thought he had everything figured out. He started to think his way was the best and he became tough to coach. Most recently he has gone back to AAA and will have better mechanics and more velocity for his fourth stint in the majors.
Also this year, Aaron Harang has simply not been himself. It would have been nice to have seen Volquez and Harang fight for the title of staff ace, but Harang has never gotten in a groove this year. Since he came in in relief in the 18 game earlier this year, he has never pitched a game where he had all his tools. Now DL time is expected due to a forearm strain, but if Harang had been vintage Harang so far this year, the Reds may be 3 or 4 games over .500 and only 5 or 6 games back in the competitive NL Central. The Reds have a bright future, and they will need Harang to be the dominant pitcher that Dusty Baker and everyone with the knows he can be.
In the first 12 days of June, the Reds have started to play better, and they will need to get to .500 first before they focus in on the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals.
Another question many Reds fans are asking is will Dunn and Griffey get traded. I seriously hope they do not trade Adam Dunn because it is hard to replace a guy who hits 40 home runs every year. I don’t care how many times he strikes out, he always produces and you can always count on Dunn to hit 40 homers, drive in 100, and walk 100 times. Also I cannot see Griffey being traded because there is not much of a market for him out there, and he has a hefty salary that comes with him.
If the Reds keep plugging away and can get on a run or two, they could still make an interesting run down the stretch. Go Reds!