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!
Since homering twice in the finale of the series in Pittsburgh, Jay Bruce had been mired in a slump similar to what he experienced last year. The has been batting in the .100’s nearly the whole season. However, I have seen him hit several balls hard that were hit right at fielders and several times in the Cubs series, Ryan Theriot, and Derrek Lee made several great plays on hard hit balls. Hopefully he will bounce back, because let me be clear, if Bruce does not hit well this year, the Reds offense will not be good enough to win consistently. The starting pitching has been struggling mightily, so the hitting needs to start finding some consistency.
The Reds also miss Edinson Volquez a lot. With their starting pitching ranked 11th in the national league in ERA, the starters have lacked any sort of consistency. Harang has been extremely average. Arroyo seems to have one inning bite him each year. Cueto has been erratic and had no consistency thus far. Homer Bailey has been bad with his breaking pitches and has simply had poor control even if it didnt mean walking guys. His pitches have not been where he wants them. They have missed Volquez’s ace-like mentality and his consistency. When Volquez ran out there, the Reds could count on a solid start. Mike Leake has done fine thus far, but he is still young and frankly is overachieving by just being in the majors already.
Aroldis Chapman has been burning it up in AAA. He has turned in two solid starts and would no doubt sell some serious tickets if he came up to the big leagues. He’ll get there before the season is out. It’s only a matter of time.
The Reds have lost 5 in a row, but lets not panic yet. The starting pitching has got to be more effective. But its early a 5-8 record is no reason to be alarmed. Lets wait another month.
All eyes at Reds camp have been on the players vying for the 5th starters spot. So far the fifth starter candidates have all gotten in around 3 outings and around 6 to 9 innings. Aroldis Chapman has received most of the buzz, and rightfully so, but Matt Maloney, Justin Lehr, and Micah Owings, and long-shot Mike Leake have all been hunting that fifth spot as well.
In my opinion, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman have definitely pitched the best. Chapman so far has pitched in 3 outings and given up only 1 run. That run was a leadoff home run in his third outing and after the leadoff homer, Chapman reacted very well going 3 scoreless innings afterward and giving up no more hits while striking out 5.
Mike Leake has also pitched very well this spring. His chances were considered slim coming into Spring Training because he was just drafted by the team in the first round about 8 months ago. So far this spring, Leake has pitched in 3 games for a total of 5 innings in which he has not given up a run. He has struck out 6 while allowing only 3 baserunners. His chances of winning the fifth starter spot are still probably slim as the team will probably want to see him pitch some in the minors first, but I really like what I see from the crafty Arizona State Sun Devil. He doesn’t throw overly hard but he has 5 to 6 pitches that he can throw and throw effectively.
As for the rest of the guys, Maloney has been up and down; Lehr has struggled, and Owings has done well and could be the guy if the team thinks both Leake and Chapman could benefit from some time in the minors, but at some point, especially if the club is in contention, which I think they can be, you will see Leake and Chapman in the majors.
Also getting interesting this spring is the center field job and left field . Chris Dickerson complained earlier in the Spring that he ought to be contending for the center field job. So far he has backed up that talk with strong Spring Training numbers batting .435 so far. Drew Stubbs who is admittedly a slow starter, started slow but in his last 3 games he is 6-9 with a homer. Stubbs came in as the favorite, and still is but Dickerson is definitely opening some eyes can earning some regular season playing time (some in center and some probably as a platoon with Jonny Gomes). Jonny Gomes has faired well so far this spring and it looks as if he has a hold on being the opening day starter in left. He will probably platoon with a left handed hitter like Dickerson or Laynce Nix.
Spring Training has been interesting so far and will get even more important as the Reds move into the final 2-3 weeks before they head north to the Queen City.
Go Reds!! Time to contend!!
So far in Spring Training, I have heard nothing but good things from Reds camp. Most importantly everyone in the organization seems to be on-board with where the organization is going. And honestly I couldn’t agree more with them.
Walt Jocketty’s adding Rolen at the trade deadline last year raised some eyebrows since the team stood at well under .500. However, his addition has proved to be a good one and manager Dusty Baker has said that Rolen has had an immeasurable effect on the young players.
Veteran pitchers Arroyo and Harang also know that this is their last chance in Cincinnati. Arroyo admitted earlier in Spring Training that this may be his last chance to be on a winning team there in the Queen City. Should the Reds be out of contention come the July 31st trade deadline, Harang and Arroyo both could be on the move.
All Reds fans and I hope that that situation never arises, but for the first time, I would be all right with moving Harang or Arroyo because of the Reds incredible pitching depth, and losing 20-24 million in salary cap would allow Walt Jocketty to improve the team in any way he wanted. I do not think the Reds would miss a beat with their young pitchers that might replace them.
I have ranked the Reds pitching depth below:
1. Edinson Volquez (will probably miss most or all of 2010 with Tommy John)
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Aaron Harang
4. Johnny Cueto (potential is limitless; he has ace-like skills)
5. Homer Bailey (same story great potential. Looking to build on strong 2009 finish)
5. Aroldis Chapman (yet another potential ace)
6. Micah Owings
7. Matt Maloney (maybe actually has the inside track on 5th starters spot to open 2010)
8. Mike Leake
9. Travis Wood
10. Justin Lehr
11. Mike Lincoln (I definitely would rather see him in the bullpen than in the rotation)
By simply looking at the following list, you can se why Reds fans are excited. I believe the Reds are a team on the rise and have a great chance of finding some sustained success in the future simply because of the enormous potential in their pitchers alone.
I’m excited. Go Reds!!