From John Fay:

Homer Bailey went five innings yesterday in a minor league intrasquad game. He allowed three runs on four hits, walked one and struck out six. “He had pretty good control,” Dusty Baker said. “He got better. He’s learning to control himself.”

If Bailey doesn’t win the No. 5 starter spot, could he make the team as the long man?

“Possibly,” Baker said. “It’s something we’ve discussed. We want to do what’s better for him.”

Baker said options enter into the equation. Bailey has options; Nick Masset doesn’t.

Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but my initial reaction is that this confirms what we’ve been saying all along: Homer Bailey will not make the Reds Opening Day roster unless he wins the 5th slot in the rotation. Whether he would be better than Nick Masset out of the bullpen is irrelevant. Masset has no options.

I understand the business angle on all that, and I couldn’t even really complain too much if Bailey were sent to AAA. It just frustrates me that the best 25 guys aren’t always on the roster.

19 Responses

  1. doug

    Basically I read it just like you did. The only way Bailey makes the team is if Masset really burns out the rest of the spring.

  2. nycredsfan

    I read on McCoy’s blog that a scout told him the Reds are quietly shopping Masset. I wouldn’t be opposed to that, even if Bailey gets sent to Louisville. There are so many potentially solid bullpen arms in the system, it doesn’t seem we need a guy like him. The question I have is, if Masset gets the long-man role and completely sucks for a couple of months, what do they do then?

  3. BenL

    It’s not just a business move. Keeping around an extra pitcher ensures that we have more healthy arms 3 months from now. That way we can field the best team later in the season, not just on opening day.

    That said, Masset has sucked it up so far, and I would be all for a Masset trade if we can get something halfway valuable for him.

  4. Chad Dotson

    I don’t disagree, Ben. I just say that what you are describing actually IS a business move. The Reds would be forgoing having the strongest team possible on Opening Day in order to preserve a potential asset for later (that extra arm; it’s an asset that could be lost if he were exposed to waivers).

  5. Chris

    Was it Jerry Narron who was always saving his best bats/arms for extra innings, or for leads that never materialized?

  6. Phill

    He’s also the same guy who pinch hit Juan Castro in the 9th of a close game for Josh Hamilton.

  7. Mr. Redlegs

    Too much emphasis on the Opening Day roster. They are always fluid, especially the first month, when injuries, inconsistency and yes, business decisions, influence who goes north.

    Most rosters change throughout April and into May because of various factors. Besides, the last pitcher on the staff really doesn’t mean much early in the season with so many off-days. If anything, finding him work is a problem.

    Masset can bring a mid-level prospect, at best. Maybe just cash. But why give him away of you don’t have to force the issue. There’s several teams looking for cheap, bottom of the rotation filler. Cutting Masset so Bailey can sit in the bullpen instead of being in a rotation at Louisville doesn’t make sense—for now.

  8. BenL

    Chris – your analogy doesn’t work. Unlike going into extra innings, which only happens rarely, needing more than 5 starting pitchers over the course of a season is almost an inevitability. When you consider that three of the starters this year are extremely young and two are coming off injuries it seems even less likely to happen. Keeping Masset doesn’t mean the Reds are “saving” Homer for some event that will never happen. It means they’re accepting the fact that they will have more than 5 starters this year.

  9. Y-City Jim

    I guess I have no problem having Bailey begin the season at AAA where he can continue to work on his finer points. When the Reds fall behind in the standings, they will likely do some selling and Bailey will get his call up.

  10. John

    Andy Abad made the opening day roster a few years ago. He lasted five games. Opening day rosters don’t matter much.

    However, I agree with Chad; this team goes nowhere if they make decisions based on quantity of options rather than quantity of talent.

  11. brublejr

    I have been saying for a while now, that having Homer go to AAA would not be a bad thing. We don’t know how he would do coming out of the pen at this point because he has never done it. I think (know) that someone will get hurt in the rotation at some point and for Homer to go do well in L’ville then get called up is not a bad thing.

    However, I have really liked Masset, but he is looking terrible. Could he come up with an “injury” to explain his recent suckiness to be able to go to extended spring training and spend “rehab” time in the minors? Burton did to keep him on the roster two years ago, it could happen for Masset as well, just a thought.

  12. Steve Price

    Masset is replaceable by any of about another 50 pitchers that will be available as the rosters get finalized near opening day.

    Bailey needs to spend the year in the bullpen with about 10 spot starts.

    However, something i did read into the article which I haven’t seen mentioned…

    Dickerson and/or Gonzalez batting second in the lineup. talk about Dunn’s strike outs….these guys strike out a ton. Dickerson strikes out at a similar rate to Dunn, about once every 3 1/2 plate appearances.. Gonzalez strikes about once every plate appearances.

  13. rpa

    if masset keeps pitching like he has been, no way they don’t try (and fail) to keep him and send him to aaa.

    but this is a long spring training – there are still three full weeks left. i think if he shows any glimmer of competence in the next three weeks, bailey is headed back to louisville unless owings gets hurt. i have a problem with that (i think it would be GOOD for bailey to get some mlb experience in situations that are low-pressure blowout-type games), but it is what it is.

    brublejr, i do like the idea of the four-month rehab assignment for masset like the reds somehow managed to pull off with burton two years ago… i still can’t believe the reds got away with that, because it was so obvious they wanted to keep him without having to swing a trade or have him on the major league roster. i kept waiting in 2007 to hear that mlb or the a’s had complained and that he was headed back to oakland.

    anyway…
    i doubt masset has much trade value, but he’s not the kind of guy i would give up without compensation if i had a choice in the matter. homer being so young and having options… the reds DO have a choice right now and i think we have owings as a #5 assuming he stays healthy, masset in the pen (he really is better than he’s shown thus far this spring, isn’t he?) and bailey in louisville.

  14. Steve Price

    I suppose I’m thinking there’s a lot more to Bailey than there is to Masset. I’d rather invest in Bailey in the bullpen and build his confidence to take advantage of the huge upside rather than protect replacement level players.

  15. Andy

    Given Homer’s history and how he’s struggled with his confidence since being rushed to the Bigs, I don’t think it would be so terrible for him to take the ball every fifth day in Louisville to start the season. His usage in the bullpen could be erratic and kill the momentum he’s gained this spring. I think the best place for him is the starting rotation somewhere.

  16. daedalus

    Why anyone wonders why the Reds have eight losings season in a row is beyond me. This team consistently fails to put the best team on the field. Sounds like it’s going to be the same old, same old this year. It’s hard to be optimistic when you see the same mistakes over and over and over again.

    Here’s an idea that will never happen but is interesting to think about – why not try a six man rotation for a couple of months? Come September, all arms will be fresh and we’ll save our young arms. With off days, you could skip one of the guys and put him in the pen to get his work in. Inevitably one or more of the guys will be hurt and have to skip a start, so you have the guy ready instead of shipping him back and forth to Louisville and destroying his confidence. There will be the argument that there’d be too much downtime for starters, but that’s really just people looking for excuses. Excuses are the nature of the Reds and their fans. The formula the Reds use doesn’t work.

    (Cue at least one comment saying what a stupid idea…)

  17. preach

    Hey, after 8 losing seasons you might as well try it. Right now we could have an 8 man rotation and it would all be right handed.

  18. Steve Price

    I’ll off an even more stupid idea…

    Based on a pitcher’s established level of performance, let that be their pitch limit…

    May be it’s three innings per pitcher, or Harang is seven, Cueto 5, Weather 2…and piece together your pitching staff with about three pitchers to actually use as relievers.

    Since baseball rules require that starting pitchers pitch 5 innings for the win, vary who “starts” so that the second guy (or whomever) gets a chance for the “win”

    Some players may go crazy…but, wouldn’t this be a great way to use those “replacement” level pitchers whose real problem is not having enough deceptive stuff to go through the line up more than once or twice?

  19. preach

    That might be perfect for guys like Herrera who have unusual stuff that you don’t want to expose too often to the same lineup. I can’t help but to think about the Captain Morgan commercial about the ‘4 guys’. That could be our number 5 starter.