Posted tagged ‘Cincinnati Reds’

Divisional Preview: NL Central

March 19, 2011

Last year the turnaround Reds took the division after pulling away from the St. Louis Cardinals in September, the Pirates and Astros took up the rear, and the Cubs stunk as usual. There were a few minor moves in the division, but nothing too drastic to really up the division.

1) Cincinnati Reds (86-76)

Looking to improve upon a 90+ win season and their first playoff appearance in some time, the Reds return just about all their everyday players and the same rotation. Defense should be a strong point with Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce in the outfield, while Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto roam the infield. Joey Votto, the MVP of 2010, should lead the offensive attack, which also features Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce. They  may not be the Big Red Machine, but the Reds should put some runs on the board.

The Reds will turn to a young, talented staff which could be good or bad. Players like Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez have all the potential in the world, but have yet to harness it all. If they can turn it on, the Reds will runaway with the division. If not, they’ll be fighting all year with mediocre pitching. One good thing is the depth. Between Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, and Mike Leake fighting for the last couple spots, there won’t be any problems in-season when injuries arise.

Cincinnati is a young team with lots of potential. Whether or not that potential is tapped at once or not can go a long way for the Reds.

Players to watch: Joey Votto, Aroldis Chapman

2) Milwaukee Brewers (84-78)

After trading for Zack Greinke, the Brewers have become a sexy pick to win the NL Central. But I would hold my horses. Yes, their rotation has an incredible trio of Zack Greinke, Yovanni Gallardo, and Shaun Marcum. But that’s it. They have no depth. Randy Wolf is okay, but Chris Narveson is currently their fifth option. Besides, Greinke could miss the first month of the season, and in what seems to be a tight race, missing him for a month and replacing him with a scrub could cost the Brewers a few games.

But if the pitching holds up, this team could be dangerous. Despite the presence of Yuniesky Betancourt, the Brewers have a tantalizing lineup. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Case McGehee. That IS a formidable heart of the order. The team will score runs, and if they can limit runs, this team will be good.

Players to watch: Rickie Weeks, Yovanni Gallardo

3) St. Louis Cardinals (82-80)

At first I was intending to pick St. Louis to finish on top, but losing Adam Wainwright is huge. That dropped them to third place in my book. I still think the rotation will be alright with a healthy Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia, but losing a Cy Young candidate pitcher hurts.

The reason I still believe St. Louis will put up a good fight is the offense. For one, they still have Albert Pujols. As long as you have Albert Pujols and some okay players, you’re going to contend. Albert Pujols is out of this world good, but you already know that. However, they don’t  have all scrubs surrounding him. The lineup still boasts Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus. Yadier Molina remains one of the best catchers in baseball and I am a big supporter in David Freese, so long as his ankle is healthy. The everyday players will keep them competitive, but in the end, their loss of Wainwright will derail their playoff run.

Players to watch: Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia

4) Chicago Cubs (78-84)

Ah, the poor old Cubs. Over 100 straight years and counting of not winning a championship. 2011 will be no different. While I do think they will lose this season, I think the Cubs will be better than most people realize. They actually have a decent staff with a real good bullpen. They lack a true ace, but between Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza, and Randy Wells, the Cubs do have an above average rotation that can eat innings and keep the team in most games. From there, the bullpen has the lights out Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, and prospect Andrew Cashner. The Cubs could be dominant in close games because of the pen, and if they play in a lot of those close games, they could be 2011’s surprise team.

The reason I don’t think that will be the case if the offense. They are old. Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Fukudome. They were once good and still are okay, but to rely on those players for 162 games is not good enough. Starlin Castro can be a star and Soto is a good offensive catcher. But as a whole this is an old, unreliable offense that won’t help win games.

Players to watch: Starlin Castro, Carlos Marmol

5) Pittsburgh Pirates (70-92)

Yes, yes, the team everybody always picks to finish last, I have coming in FIFTH. AN UPSET, I KNOW!

Look, the pitching is shit. I am a James McDonald believer, but he is a #3 starter, tops. Besides him they have guys like Ross Ohlendorf, Brad Lincoln, Scott Olsen, etc. Yeah, it’s not good. The Pirates will be giving up a lot of runs and will be losing a lot of games as a result.

The one redeeming quality in my mind is their young talent on the offensive side of the ball. Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Andrew McCutchen. Andrew McCutchen is a stud and one of my big breakout candidates for 2011. He can hit, field, and run. Once the talent around him starts to develop, the Pirates will slowly start to creep back up to .500 baseball. Pedro Alvarez is another breakout candidate. He may never be good with the leather, but he can hit. Once the bat fully comes around, he will be one of the premiere power hits in the NL. To compliment these two in 2011 are Tabata and Walker. Both aren’t great hitters, but they are above average and help Pittsburgh be a middle of the road offensive team in 2011.

Things are still bleak in Pittsburgh, but the sun is starting rise.

Players to watch: Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez

6) Houston Astros (64-98)

The Astros suck. Plain and simple. Their rotation will be okay, maybe. The “stud” pitcher is Bret Myers. Granted, his 2010 was awesome. He also won’t be likely to repeat it. JA Happ and Wandy Rodriguez are okay. But after them? They’ll be giving 60+ starts to the likes of Nelson Figueroa, Bud Norris, and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Ouch. The pen isn’t any better.

The lineup does have Hunter Pence, a nice, young outfielder, and Brett Wallace could potentially emerge as a pretty good hitter at first. Michael Bourn has also been a total 8 WAR player the best couple seasons. That’s all nice and well. But you wanna hear the names of the other starts? Yes? Okay:

Humberto Quintero, Bill Hall, Clint Barmes, Chris Johnson, and one Brian Bogusevic. Yeah. Crap. And Carlos Lee may play first base instead of Brett Wallace.

The Astros are bad and will finish in last place. Yes, even behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Players to watch: Brett Wallace, Hunter Pence

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Reds ink Johnny Cueto to four year extension

January 21, 2011

The deal 4/$27mil and will cover three arbitration and a year of free agency. The contract spans his age 25-28 seasons.

During the current arbitration hearings, Cueto wanted $3.9mil and the team was offering $3mil. So let’s split that and say $3.45mil. Using the 40/60/80 scale, he would figure to earn about $5.5mil in 2012 and then about $10mil in 2013 before entering free agency. So let’s analyze the first three years of the deal. If you average out the four years, Cueto will be paid $6.75mil per season. Over the first three years of the contract, that’s $20.25. Estimating what he would have made through arbitration, Cueto otherwise would have been paid about $19mil. So the Reds, unless Cueto has some phenomenal seasons and really increases his value, are not saving money with this deal through his first three seasons.

However, the savings will come in the fourth year, the free agency year. Johnny Cueto will be a 28 year old starting pitcher on the open market, who would have made around $10mil in his last arbitration deal contract. Assuming he is a good pitcher come three years from now, his price will be high. I think it will be safe to say he will make at least $10mil+. So the Reds will be saving at least four mil alone that season. Considering the first three years are practically a wash, I like this deal for Cincinnati. Sure, they are not saving now and in the near future, but they aren’t overpaying either. So it will be worth it come year four when they do make a big saving on a good pitcher.

Even more so, I like the deal because of the timing. Johnny Cueto was one of my favorite prospects coming out of the minors. But through his first two seasons, he never hit his potential. I blame Dusty Baker for bumping his innings from 83 in 2007 to 174 in 2008. That’s another story though. Still, Cueto was an okay reliever and finally seemed to emerge last season. He lowered his BB and HR rate, as well as his FIP. The result was a career high 2.5 WAR, which IS good for a 24 year old pitcher. As he matures, there is a real possibility Cueto develops into a front line starting pitcher. If that’s the case, $6.75mil a small price to be pay for big performance. You can bet your ass that if Cueto does even better in 2011, then he would have commanded more money than he did this off-season. If Cueto never fully develops, $6.75mil would be his fair market value. However, if he does put it all together, $6.75mil will be a bargain. And remember, they still have him signed for a year of free agency.

So, good for Cincy.

Reds extend MVP Joey Votto

January 16, 2011

For 3/$38mil. It buys out all his arbitration years.

Obviously, it’s a good deal. He is coming off an MVP season and is, for sure, one of the best hitters in all of baseball. It may not save them a ton of money compared to what he would make in arbitration (he probably would have made around $8mil this season), but compared to his actual worth, they will be saving lots of money.

It would have been better if they could have got some of his FA years, but I’m pretty sure in the past Joey said he was against any real long term contract and he wants to be a FA in three years. So at least the Reds give him some money, while still saving on what they would have ultimately paid, which might make him more likely to sign in Cincinnati when he does become a FA.

Can’t complain if you’re a Reds fan.

 

Milwaukee Brewers acquire Zack Greinke

December 19, 2010

What a crazy off-season. The next piece of shocking news is that the Kansas City Royals have traded ace pitcher Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers for Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Odorizzi, and a PTBNL. Wow. I know the Brewers name came up in trade rumors, but this is still shocking. I didn’t think a trade would happen this fast and I didn’t think Milwaukee would actually land him.

This is a real good deal for Milwaukee, imo. Despite having a stud in Yovanni Gallardo, their starting pitching sucked in 2010. But within a matter of weeks they picked up a solid #3 starter in Shaun Marcum and now add Zack Greinke, who is in the running for best pitcher in all of baseball. A trio of Greinke, Gallardo, and Marcum is quite good. Now, the back-end of the rotation still isn’t good, but if they can add a “project” pitcher, they could have a very good overall rotation. They have a lot of pitching depth, but the pitcher’s aren’t very good. So I would take a risk on a Jeremy Bonderman, a Ben Sheets, etc. If they don’t work out, it’s not like you don’t have someone else who can step in. It may not be a good pitcher, but it’s better than no pitcher.

The Brewers, right now, are my favorites to win the NL Central. Their starting pitching matches up with St. Louis, and the Brewers still have a good lineup. Prince Fielder is still at first. Rickie Weeks is at second. Ryan Braun and Corey Hart are still patrolling the corner outfield. Milwaukee has a good team that should compete with St. Louis and Cincinnati.

As for Kansas City, I am underwhelmed with their return. They got some solid players, but it was in return for Zack Greinke. They could have done better. Alcides Escobar could be a solid player for the Royals down the line. He isn’t much of hitter, but he is a defensive star. His glove should make him a capable everyday player and contribute to a solid KC defense. Lorenzo Cain is an athletic center fielder and a good fielder, but is not a star player in the making. I do think he has a small probability of becoming a star, but I don’t think he’ll get there. He’ll just be an okay, everyday player for KC. Now, Jake Odorizzi is a very good prospect. He’s young and has dominated the low levels of the minors so far. He could become one of the Royals best prospects in a very short time.

So yeah, Kansas City did get good players for Zack Greinke, but they could have done better. I mean, from the Yankees they wanted Jesus Montero. None of the players KC got from the Brewers is on Montero’s level as a player/prospect. The Brewers came out really good in this trade, and Kansas City’s return is just “eh”. I mean, they trade two, relatively cheap years of an All-Star pitcher in his prime, for two okay players and one good prospect (plus a PTBNL). But at least they got rid of Yuniesky Betancourt. So I guess it’s a win.

 

Chicago White sign Adam Dunn

December 2, 2010

In baseball’s big news of the day, the White Sox have signed slugger Adam Dunn to a 4/$56mil deal. Dunn will be paid $14mil per yer through his age 31-34 seasons.

Dunn is a fantastic hitter who has lost a lot of value over the years because of atrocious defense. But now it appears that Dunn has accepted the fact he is better suited at first base or DH, rather than the outfield. In the end, that could save him some value, although the DH penalty is still severe enough that he needs to hit no matter where he plays to have any significant value.

The contract will cover Dunn’s early 30s, which could have no impact or a negative impact. Players do get worse as they age, but age 31-34 isn’t so old anymore. He should still be able to mash the ball and the age won’t impact his defense if he is at DH or 1b. However, his body type usually does not age well. Again though, 31-34 isn’t that old anymore, so we might not see his decline just yet.

Dunn will be going into a homer haven, much like the one he played in during his Cincy years. That could possibly boost his numbers, at least at home. In the end though, analyzing Dunn is tricky. He has been a consistent, great hitter over the course of his career. He shows no sign of decline, except for age. But we do know that his body type does decline earlier than most and we don’t know how he will react if he becomes a hit only player in Chicago.

I started Dunn out at 3 WAR and decreased it by 0.5 each season as he gets older. In the end, using my estimates, the White Sox will overpay for Dunn by a total of $10mil, or $2.5mil per season. That’s a fair amount, but it’s not that bad. Moreover, it’s possible Dunn does continue to hit well and outperforms my predictions. I ran this with him producing total WAR’s of 10.5 and 11, each of which brought him closer to the $56mil salary he is being given. Moreover, Chicago has been dying for a power hitting lefty for sometime now. He is a great addition to the lineup, so he could be worth more than his projected $46mil value to Chicago. The White Sox figure to build teams that will contend each season, so Dunn should be worth more to them than to the Kansas City Royals, for example.

This may have been a slight reach for Chicago, but they get the player they want at a decent price and Dunn gets his money.

 

Joey Votto takes home NL MVP

November 22, 2010

Congratulations Joey! Votto was one of my favorite prospects when he was coming up through the Reds system (mainly because of his Italian last name) and it’s been fun watching him develop into a premiere franchise player.

I still find it funny he needed a final vote to get on the NL All-Star team. The f’ing MVP needs a final vote. What can ya do?

Tomorrow the award I’ve been most looking forward to will be announced- AL MVP. Josh Hamilton will probably win in a runaway, but I’m hoping my boy RC can at least get a couple first place votes.

And once again I’ve got to give props to the BBWAA. On the big four awards, they are batting 1.000 so far (Doc Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Joey Votto).

 

When WPA doesn’t work

October 9, 2010

Via fangraphs:

Quote:
Though Jimmy Rollins was oh-for-the-series, and ‘failed’ once again in a key position (one down, tying runs on base in the 7th inning, the third-highest leverage index moment of the game), his soft flyball to Jay Bruce (a +18.9 Right Fielder this year according to UZR) was muffed about a billion times, and suddenly Rollins looks like a hero to Oswalt’s zero. Seriously, Bruce missed a play he should have had 95+ times out of a 100 (or, rather, 256 in 259 times), then screwed up the throw, the relay was punted, and Rollins stands on second with the crowd roaring. Rollins gets a .352 WPA for the play, Oswalt a -.152 for his five innings, three run effort. Sometimes WPA doesn’t tell the whole story.

I didn’t even think about that during the play. WPA is a nice little story stat, but it too isn’t perfect.

No real reason for this post, just pointing out interesting stuff.

 

EDIT: I took this down. I’m a chicken. I apologize. It’s back up. My reputation is down. Oh well. At least Rutgers offense finally showed up this week.