Looking ahead to next season, though the Reds are currently in first place in the NL Central, the Reds have some interesting roster issues to address. Not only do they have arbitration eligible players who can increase payroll significantly, but they’ll have key players with extensions kicking in. Take a look at guaranteed contracts for 2013:
Joey Votto: $17 M
Brandon Phillips: $10 M
Jay Bruce: $7.5 M
Johnny Cueto: $7.4 M
Aroldis Chapman: $2 M
Bronson Arroyo: $11.5 M
Sean Marshall: $4.5 M
Ryan Madson: $2.5 M buyout OR $11 M
Nick Masset: $3.1 M
Ryan Hanigan: $2.05 M
Ryan Ludwick: $500K buyout OR $5 M
Jose Arredondo: $1.2 M
If the Reds buyout Ludwick and Madson, they have $69.25 M locked into 12 players, with only 10 of them returning. If they take on the contracts of both Ludwick and Madson, it goes up to $82.25 M for 12 players. However, it doesn’t end there. The following players are eligible for arbitration after the 2012 season:
Pre-arbitration – players who can have their contracts renewed at the league minimum:
Arbitration-eligible – players who can be non-tendered or signed through arbitration and receive a raise, with 2012 salaries listed in parenthesis:
Homer Bailey ($2.4 M)
Mat Latos ($550K)
Bill Bray ($1.42 M)
Wilson Valdez ($930K)
Paul Janish ($850K)
Drew Stubbs ($527,500)
Mike Leake ($507,500)
Chris Heisey ($495K)
Alfredo Simon ($487K)
The Reds would be wise to let Homer Bailey walk by being non-tendered, as he shouldn’t be getting a raise considering the inconsistencies that he has shown. He would earn between $3.5-4 M in arbitration. Valdez and Janish are veteran utility players who can be replaced with others who can play defense and not hit…just like them! Stubbs, Leake, and Heisey should all still be affordable in their first year of arbitration, but Latos could be an issue. He will get expensive quickly due to his early success, though it wasn’t with the Reds.
So, buyout Ludwick and Madson and keep Heisey in left and Chapman at closer and go from there.
Catchers: Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco
1B: Joey Votto
2B: Brandon Phillips
3B: Todd Frazier
SS: Zack Cozart
LF: Chris Heisey
CF: Drew Stubbs
RF: Jay Bruce
Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and OPEN
Jose Arredondo, Bill Bray, Nick Masset, Sam LeCure, Alfredo Simon, Logan Ondrusek, Sean Marshall, and Aroldis Chapman
Clearly, the Reds would need to fill the bench with about three players: a utility infielder, a super-utility player (infield and outfield), and a good fourth outfielder. They will need to look to free agency to fill those roles. The following players will be free agents and would be worth a look for the Reds:
Jose Lopez – Lopez can play first and third comfortably and second if or when needed. He has done so for the Cleveland Indians in 2012. He is making $800K in 2012 and will be 29 in 2013
Scott Hairston – Hairston may end up on the expensive side of bench players, as his power and versatility will be very valuable on the open market. He currently has an .840 OPS with 10 HR and 31 RBI in just 157 at bats for the New York Mets. Hairston is making $1.1 M in 2012 and has played all three outfield spots this season and some second base in his career.
Grady Sizemore – Injuries MIGHT be gone when he hits free agency after the 2012 season. Sizemore hasn’t had a healthy season since 2008. He is making $5 M in 2012 but hasn’t played in a single game. An incentive-laden contract is a necessity for Sizemore to prove his worth and as a former gold glove caliber center fielder, he can handle all three outfield positions…if healthy.
Ryan Theriot – Theriot is making $1.25 M for the San Francisco Giants while playing primarily shortstop. He played left field late in a game and has played second, short, third, and outfield in recent years.
The open rotation spot should be left to Tony Cingrani, the young left-hander out of Rice, who has dominated the minors this season to the tune of a 7-2 record, 1.47 ERA, 86 IP, 109:21 K:BB, .196 BAA, 0.95 WHIP, including a 15 strikeout, eight shutout inning outing on Wednesday night. It’s worth seeing what you have there. Alfredo Simon or Sam LeCure could fill the number five spot if the Reds don’t sign another veteran arm like: Aaron Cook, Kevin Correia, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Marquis, Joel Piniero, or Chris Young, who could all be cheap options.
It’s never too early to wonder what your team will look like in the future. Maybe Billy Hamilton moves to center and Drew Stubbs or Chris Heisey becomes the team’s fourth outfielder? As the season goes on, trades could be made involving Cingrani or Hamilton to upgrade for 2012, as well. Regardless, the Reds look like an excellent team for this season and could get better by cutting some of the dead weight, namely their entire bench and Scott Rolen.
If you haven’t seen Aroldis Chapman’s somersaults from Tuesday night, I’m Evan and this is planet Earth…thanks for joining us. Needless to say, this was an interesting way to celebrate a save and the Brewers probably weren’t very pleased with it…their broadcasters certainly weren’t.
Is this the best victory celebration that a closer has ever done? It was pretty ridiculous and he wasn’t doing some kind of strange dance like Jose Valverde seems to do with each save…or pitch. It was no 100-mph thrown ball into the crowd like Rob Dibble did in the early 1990’s in Cincinnati. Baseball can use some clown antics, just don’t go ask Bryce Harper any questions about clowns, though.
Below, you’ll find some amazing GIF’s from SB Nation’s Jeff Sullivan. See where Chapman fits in or where he creates a new storm of creative antics among closers in baseball. If I had to rank Chapman, it would be a little less absurd than Valverde, but the most outlandish besides that. More
I have a couple of new articles over at Bleacher Report:
Follow-up to Indians Attendance with responses directly from the Indians: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1238459-mlb-follow-up-to-5-ways-indians-can-increase-attendance
Should the Indians Cut Johnny Damon?: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1235886-mlb-should-the-cleveland-indians-give-johnny-damon-the-axe
Stick a fork in them, maybe even a kabob. The Miami Marlins have collapsed in June the way that the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox waited until September to collapse in 2011. The Fish are unable to be poked back to life and may as well be flushed down the NL East toilet, as their floundering has allowed the other strong teams in the division to leave them in the sand.
The Marlins are 8.5 games out in the NL East, having sunk to a 5-18 record in June after going 21-8 in May and creating enough buzz to hook even fans from South Florida into paying for baseball games; however, it hasn’t been meant to be. The team is hitting .224/.291/.373 in June and the pitching staff has a 5.88 ERA and has allowed a .282/.349/.453 line to opposing hitters. The combination of those stats leave the Marlins with the third worst run differential in all of baseball, though they haven’t been awful, 34-40, thanks to their incredible May.
With all due respect to Logan Morrison, you can blame him for a lot of the Marlins’ struggles. Hitting just .228/.307/.386, LoMo was a big part of Miami’s future. Maybe ownership knew something when they sent him down last season, as his 2011 line of .247/.330/.468 wasn’t all that impressive either. At 24 (he turns 25 in August), Morrison should be a huge part of the Marlins future, but his struggles are cause for concern, but not as much as…
Jose Reyes. That flopping that you hear isn’t just the Marlins, it’s the flop of an overpaid, overhyped player underperforming. Reyes wasn’t worth the contract and he has lived up to concern by posting a .273/.350/.386 line. While he is getting on base and stealing bases (16 steals), he isn’t doing enough to warrant a huge deal. While he is making “just $10 million” in 2012, he isn’t anywhere near his .877 OPS of his contract year of 2011.
The starting pitching has posted a quality start in just 65% of their starts and have a 3.98 ERA overall, but they just aren’t scoring enough runs. A team that features Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Morrison, and a solid Omar Infante, should be able to score runs. The incredible amount of speed should be capable of creating runs on its own, but with Ramirez and Stanton in the order, it should only make it that much easier.
Whatever the issue is for the Marlins, they need to get it straightened out. There is a lot of underperforming and a lot of struggling to place blame upon, but the roster is too talented to continue to struggle the way that they have in June. With the NL East being so competitive, there isn’t much time to waste getting back into it before the Miami Marlins have a trade deadline talent cast-off.
Back before the humidor, the Colorado Rockies were capable of padding their stats by launching balls out of Coor’s Field through the thin air in their 81 home games. We saw Dante Bichette become a force and Mike Hampton became a pitcher who didn’t matter anymore, along with Denny Neagle. Today, there are still some hitter-friendly ballparks, but you’ll see some of the guys below taking advantage of some home field love below.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
.405/.507/.793, 18 2B, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB, 28:24 K:BB in 116 AB at home
.331/.468/.529, 12 2B, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 26:31 K:BB in 121 AB on the road
Votto has been an absolute freak in 2012, posting an MVP-like .367/.468/.658 line. It doesn’t really matter where he is this season, the Reds new franchise player is unstoppable.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies
.382/.441/.733, 6 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, 29:13 K:BB in 131 AB at home
.288/.344/.508, 9 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 5 SB, 24:10 K:BB in 118 AB on the road
CarGo is still taking advantage of the thin air in Denver despite the humidor. He is an excellent all-around player on his own, but he may not be capable of substantial numbers without the Coor’s Field effect.
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland Indians
.371/.389/.743, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB, 4:1 K:BB in 35 AB at home
.125/.125/.125, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 3:0 K:BB in 24 AB on the road
It is only 59 at bats, but the Indians could have the power bat that they need for the middle of their order…when they play at home. Chisenhall doesn’t turn 24 until October and he has a bright future, but he has some flaws, especially with plate discipline and left-handed pitching. But…hey, he can hit at home!
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
.350/.385/.570, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB, 19:6 K:BB in 100 AB at home
.326/.409/.484, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 13 SB, 22:13 K:BB in 95 AB on the road
Trout has been more than anyone expected since finally getting his opportunity with the Angels. You can’t call anything about his game weak, he is clearly an excellent hitter, runner, and he is a well above average outfielder, too.
Angel Pagan, OF, San Francisco Giants
.338/.389/.451, 6 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 7 SB, 20:11 K:BB in 133 AB at home
.261/.289/.410, 6 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB, 21:6 K:BB in 134 AB on the road
San Francisco’s home park is not typically thought of as a hitter’s paradise, but Pagan really thrives there. He has better power numbers and run-production on the road, but he is also not as patient. Either way, Pagan is a beast at home in 2012.
R.A. Dickey, RHP, New York Mets
6-0, 1.20 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 52.1 IP, 54:13 K:BB in 7 home starts
5-1, 2.89 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 46.2 IP, 49:8 K:BB in 7 road starts
You can’t say Dickey without smiling and the Mets wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the NL East without the 37-year-old Cy Young front-runner.
Chris Capuano, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
5-0, 1.57 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 46.0 IP, 46:13 K:BB in 7 home starts
3-2, 4.02 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 40.1 IP, 34:18 K:BB in 7 road starts
Capuano has dominated at Dodger Stadium, but has been about as good as his career statistics outside of that. Capuano is struggling mightily in June with a 4.24 ERA…since when is that awful?…but when compared to his dominating April and May, his 1-1 record in April seems so pedestrian. Don’t jump ship on him yet!
Tom Milone, LHP, Oakland A’s
5-1, 0.99 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 19:8 K:BB in 6 home starts
2-4, 7.42 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 43.2 IP, 33:16 K:BB in 8 road starts
Milone may have the worst home-road split in baseball, but he has been fantastic at home. You have to wonder which pitcher he is and whether he will even things out by being absolutely horrible and really good…maybe even just decent when he is at home or on the road. The soft-tossing lefty is just 25, so we have time to see what he really is.
A.J. Burnett, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
4-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 42.2 IP, 36:9 K:BB in 6 home starts
3-2, 7.18 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 22:15 K:BB in 5 road starts
Burnett is 6-1 with a 4.02 ERA in his last 9 starts for the Pirates, but he has a split that has rivaled Milone’s terrible home-road split. Burnett’s inconsistency is well documented in his 14 year career, and it is more of the same this season. You could argue that some of his stats would make him an asset at the trade deadline, but as teams look at his production on the road, they will be scared off.
Zack Greinke, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
4-0, 1.08 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 41.2 IP, 52:8 K:BB in 6 home starts
3-2, 4.96 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 45.1 IP, 43:12 K:BB in 8 road starts
Greinke will be a rich man when he signs this winter as a free agent. With that being said, his splits are just not very good in 2012. Clearly, Greinke is dominant at home. Maybe Greinke has some issues pitching on the road that go back to his anxiety disorder that he had earlier in his career. From 2009-2011, Greinke had a 29-8 record and a 2.99 ERA in 49 starts and a 13-20 record and 3.72 ERA on the road in 45 starts. The 2012 stats fall in line with his last 94 starts prior to this season, so he is and will be dominant at home.
You should all know who Anthony Rizzo, Dylan Bundy, and Zack Wheeler are at this point, but some guys are still flying under the radar. That is what this post is all about. If you are in a fantasy baseball keeper league or you just want to keep up on prospects, here are some guys to look out for.
Daniel Rosenbaum, LHP, Washington Nationals
7-2, 1.94 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 88 IP, 55:14 K:BB
Rosenbaum, 24, has been consistent for parts of four minor league seasons since being selected in the 22nd round out of his hometown Xavier University in Cincinnati in the 2009 MLB Draft. He has a career 25-16, 2.27 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 440.1 IP, and a 343:116 K:BB. He may not post incredible strikeout numbers to be a sexy prospect, but he keeps the ball in the park (just 15 HR allowed in his 440.1 career innings) and he keeps his team in games. As a left-hander in Double-A for the Nationals, he could become excellent trade bait near the deadline, when Washington collects pieces for their playoff run.
Alfredo Marte, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks
.289/.364/.569, 16 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 5 SB, 40:16 K:BB in 204 AB
Marte, 23, leads the Double-A Southern League in OPS, .932, over fellow D-Backs prospect Matt Davidson. He wasn’t among the top 20 prospects in the system according to John Sickels, but he has been productive this season after suffering through an injury shortened 2011, in which he hit .289/.338/.455 in 277 at bats. He has improved his strikeout rate, his power is up, and Chris Young is only guaranteed a job through 2013, as his 2014 option has a $1.5 million buyout if Arizona doesn’t want to pay him $11 million. Marte may not be hyped, but production eventually opens eyes, and he has been very productive in 2012.
Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
8-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 75 IP, 71:24 K:BB
Thornburg, 23, could provide the Brewers with the help they need in the rotation if or when the team starts dealing their pieces for the future as they fall farther out of contention. With the failure of Manny Parra and the struggles of top prospect Wily Peralta, the pitching rich Major League roster could be very, very thin if the Brewers do become sellers. Thornburg could be a huge part of the team’s future with his career 19-7 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 269:93 K:BB in 235 innings. Even ranked as the Brewers number two prospect, he flies under the radar.
Barret Loux, RHP, Texas Rangers
11-0, 2.81 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 67.1 IP, 62:24 K:BB
Loux was the sixth overall pick by Arizona in the 2010 MLB Draft, but when the Diamondbacks chose not to sign him due to injury concerns, he signed with the Rangers, like they needed more top-level prospects, for $312,000. Loux has stayed healthy to this point, producing a 19-5 record, 3.42 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 189:58 K:BB in 176.1 innings. With Yu Darvish suffering from arm fatigue and Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz suffering from shoulder woes, Loux could be called on this season as the Rangers continue to battle for the AL West crown.
Miles Head, 1B, Oakland A’s
.382/.434/.706, 22 2B, 6 3B, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 3 SB, 52:23 K:BB in 262 AB
Do you think the Red Sox regret the trade for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney yet? Josh Reddick’s breakout 2012 is one thing, but when you look at the minor league leaders, Miles Head’s name is all over it. Head hit 22 home runs over two levels as a 20-year-old in 2011, and while the California League helps inflate numbers, it doesn’t take away from the potential that Head has shown. He is a couple of years away still, but the A’s have to be excited about what they have here, especially with Daric Barton and Kila Ka’aihue struggling so mightily before Brandon Moss took over at first base recently.
Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
6-2, 1.45 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 74.1 IP, 91:17 K:BB
A 9-4, 1.58 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 125.2 IP, 171:23 K:BB in 26 starts since being selected in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Rice University isn’t enough to get Cingrani hyped like other prospects, but he will get there soon if he keeps this up. The Reds started Cingrani in the California League, even though they had other top arms, like Daniel Corcino, skip the hitter paradise. He responded with a 5-1 record and 1.11 ERA, with a 71:13 K:BB in 56.2 innings. He is now in Double-A and has pitched well in three starts. Cingrani can’t be traded until August, but he could be a “player to be named later” as a trade chip, or he could be a fixture in the rotation by this time next year. A lefty that hits the mid-90’s with his fastball is a nice asset, either way.
Jackie Bradley, CF, Boston Red Sox
.363/.485/.535, 26 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 16 SB, 38:51 K:BB
Bradley was one of the best players in college baseball at the University of South Carolina, leading the team to a title in 2010 before injuries ruined his 2011 season. He was still the 40th overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft. His excellent skills have returned with his health. Bradley looks like a potential star leadoff hitter for the Red Sox, and he is ready for Double-A, having posted the numbers above in High-A. He isn’t going to hit a lot of home runs, but he will get on base in other ways, and he could be a nuisance on the basepaths.
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins
.258/.330/.500, 10 2B, 1 3B, 15 HR, 48 RBI, 6 SB, 59:25 K:BB in 236 AB
Ozuna can hit the ball far. He also strikes out a lot, but he is improving on those numbers this season. As a 20-year-old, Ozuna had 28 2B, 5 3B, 23 HR, and 17 SB in 552 at bats in 2011. He doesn’t have Mike/Giancarlo Stanton power, but the Marlins have a couple of great outfielders in High-A Jupiter in Ozuna and Christian Yelich.
Tyler Austin, OF, New York Yankees
.330/.406/.656, 19 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 14 SB, 56:27 K:BB in 218 AB
This is Austin’s first attempt at full-season ball. Needless to say, it is going well for the 20-year-old outfielder. Sickels had Austin ranked as the ninth best prospect in the Yankees system, but it has been quiet for the youngster to this point. Austin was said to have an advanced bat for a high school draftee, and he looks to be putting it all together.
Joey Votto has been one of the top players in MLB in 2012, posting an absurd .362/.485/.657 slash with 27 doubles, 12 home runs, 44 RBI, and a 49:52 K:BB in 213 at bats. Brandon Phillips is finally hitting, posting a .441/.472/.735 over his last eight games, with one double, three home runs, and nine RBI. In doing so, Phillips has increased his triple-slash from .259/.314/.392 on May 24 to its current .292/.338/.454 level. With Votto still mashing and getting on base and Phillips finally hitting, are the Reds capable of being the best team in baseball over the rest of the season?
Some will argue that the Detroit Tigers have the lineup to beat due to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Others say that the Yankees lineup with Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera, Robinson Cano, and Alex Rodriguez is the greatest of them all. Others will argue that it is Ike Davis and Jason Bay, and we will mock them ferociously; however, the Reds seem to have what it takes to win. The rotation can be thin at times with the inconsistencies at the back-end, but look at the front-end of that group…
Johnny Cueto has established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball, compiling a 16-8 record, a 2.36 ERA, and a 1.12 WHIP over his last 37 starts. Mat Latos may not have great stats in 2012 (5-2, 4.64 ERA, 1.37 WHIP), but the Reds are 8-2 in his last ten starts. Latos is also in the middle of the season, especially from May to July, where he is now 21-6 with a 2.90 ERA over his career during the early summer months.
What does all of this mean? The Reds were as many as five games back and they were up as many as 3.5 games. Now, they are three games up on both the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds have gone 25-16 since April 15. It’s too bad they aren’t the Chicago Cubs because they are 17-8 in day games after Thursday’s 12-5 stomping of the Cleveland Indians.
The Reds have a solid rotation and enough offense to matter. The American League is filled with punishing offenses, but the National League has…good pitching? With the dramatic decline of the Philadelphia Phillies lineup, the Cincinnati Reds are in an elite class in the National League.
The Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants are the only other teams in the National League with the rotation and lineups that can match the Reds. Bryce Harper is the real deal and the Nats will, at least, ride Strasburg to the limits of his innings, not his talent. The Dodgers have had issues with injuries in the rotation and to Matt Kemp, but they’ve managed to hold on thanks to Andre Ethier’s redemption season and Chris Capuano’s best Clayton Kershaw impersonation. The Giants have had some success from their rotation and offense, definitely not from Tim Lincecum, though, and with the return of Pablo Sandoval from injury, they will be that much better.
However, if Votto and Phillips are clicking like they are right now and the Reds have the 1-2 punch of Cueto and Latos going, then they can sit back and hope that the likes of Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake take the steps necessary to keep the team in contention while infusing youth in the every day lineup. With smart baseball, like Mesoraco plowing into Lou Marson for defensive interference and a free run (see here), and mediocre production from the spare parts, the Reds are a team to be reckoned with.
Francisco Lindor piece from Bleacher Report:
See the slideshow at Bleacher Report: