From Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal:

Reds manager Dusty Baker continues to invite second-guessing with his handling of pitchers, recently using both closer Francisco Cordero and setup man Nick Masset for five consecutive days.

The Reds are out of contention. Cordero and Masset figure to play the same vital roles next season. Yet Baker, who is under contract for about $3.5 million in 2010, appears safe. Some of his coaches might not be, major-league sources say.

Pitching coach Dick Pole could be held responsible for the regressions of right-handed starter Johnny Cueto and reliever Jared Burton, but the Reds rank third in the NL in bullpen ERA, eighth overall.

Hitting coach Brook Jacoby, meanwhile, presides over an offense that ranks 14th in runs per game even though Great American Ballpark is one of the best hitters’ parks in the majors. Yet Jacoby, too, would be little more than a scapegoat — injuries and poor roster construction helped compromise the offense.

Never mind the Reds’ improved play of late. One scout offers a sobering conclusion: The Reds, headed for their ninth straight losing season, are nearly as depressing as the Pirates.

And ESPN’s Buster Olney said:

Just before I started this chat, I got off the phone with an evaluator who thinks that right now, among NL teams, the Reds might be the farthest away from contending. I’m not sure that I disagree. It’s amazing that next year, these four players are lined up to account for about 60 percent of their payroll (if they keep it in place)….Scott Rolen, Francisco Cordero, Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang. There is not a lot of future there, and Volquez is probably not going to pitch again until late next season or 2011.

Personally, I think unless you fire Baker, you’re just rearranging chairs….but what do you think?

17 Responses

  1. Nathan in Indy

    As much as I dislike Baker and his bonehead moves, I don’t know what firing him will do, unless (about to type really fast) La Russa and Duncan come here. OK, i was able to say it. wheeew! Imagine though, with the cronyism that goes on in the head-offices at GABP. . . I blame Jacoby for being bad and I blame Pole for being bad. I think the Reds have some real talent and that is why they have succeeded, if even just a little bit. Not because of expert instruction from one Dick and Brook.

    On the second paragraph, sadly, I wouldn’t be able to disagree, other than the Reds have a lot of young talent. But, they are not the Rays and the talent has yet to be proven. I don’t think bringing all the ‘talent’ up; Alonso, Frazier, etc. will solve problems. It could eventually but I don’t think putting stock in the FACT they will, is worth it. At least not yet.

  2. GreatRedLegsFan

    I see next season as one of “transition & evaluation”. First, next year is the last for Baker, Taveras, Arroyo and Harang contracts. Also, it’s a possibility that Cordero will be traded between this winter and next non-waiver deadline. It’ll have a very high impact in the financial position, which will allow to make some significant roster movements looking into 2011. On the other hand, there is the expected performance from the younger players like Stubbs, Janish, Bruce, Heisey and Francisco. Jocketty will be very busy in 2010, for sure.

  3. RC

    Rosenthal’s “scout” and Olney’s “evaluator” both make ridiculous statements.

    “Nearly as depressing as the Pirates?” The organization which has traded away virtually everyone who’s ever had a bubblegum card this year? The team that’s lost 20 of their last 23? The team that purposely put itself back to square zero? Closer to contention that the Reds? That’s a complete and utter load.

    Look, it’s OK to not like the salary structure of next year’s team. I don’t like it either. But this year’s Reds were, perhaps by way of smoke and mirrors and despite highly questionable game management, in contention at midseason. Next year’s pitching staff is good enough to contend as is. Where the added hitting we need would come from, I have no idea – I suspect it’s entirely dependent upon Jay Bruce’s improvement.

    Which is beside the point – point being, we are NOT the farthest from contention in the NL. We’re SECOND farthest.

    And don’t you forget it, Mr. Olney!

  4. Rich

    I personally believe that if the organization is going the developmental way, then stick to the plan! I know that everybody is tired of the losing seasons, but if you keep throwing money to sign older free agents you hamper yourself in the long term. I believe that you only spend the bigger money on a free agent when you are maybe one player away. That has not been the case for the Reds recently and also believe that in the foreseeable future (2 years). So what I am saying is stick to the plan of developing young players at the MLB and at the farm levels. So with all that said, I would try to move one of big money suckers of the payroll (Codero, Arroyo, or Harang). I think that Codero has the most value to a perspective team, but I am guessing that we would have to eat some salary to move him.

  5. Redsfanx

    As depressing as the Pirates? Give me a break. It’s obvious Rosenthal has paid little attention to the Reds. They were hit with a load of injuries this year and so were the Mets. Not much you can do about that, especially with Dusty as manager. The Reds have talent and especially pitching which is rather unusual for them. This offseason should see some moves to rearrange the payroll and competing in 2010 is not beyond reach. 🙂

  6. Rich

    That is exactly what I was referring to in my post !

    Dan: @Drew Nelson: We gave up Zachary Stewart and Josh Roenicke.http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/S/Zachary-Stewart.shtmlhttp://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/R/Josh-Roenicke.shtmlYoung pitchers are the riskiest assets in the game (frequently don’t pan out) but also the most valuable assets in the game when they do pan out.B/c the success rate is so low, you need as many as you can get!Most will flame out.Some will, occasionally, work out though.And when they do, you have them for SIX YEARS, cost-controlled, before they hit free agency.To trade TWO of the more promising ones we had for ONE YEAR of a good-but-not-great 34-year-old third baseman who makes $11 million is unbelievably short-sighted and irresponsible, in my mind.The Reds need to have as many Zach Stewarts and Josh Roenickes as they can get.(Actually it’s Stewart I’m most concerned about b/c he could pan out as a starting pitcher.Good relievers are not as hard to come by.Good young starting pitchers are brutally hard to find.)

    @Dan:

  7. RC

    I find it hard to plumb the depths of despair that the Rolen trade has caused some folks. Did we overpay, massively? Almost certainly yes, although history will be the judge.

    But it’s done. And in the spirit of the topic, does having Rolen at 3B instead of EE put us further from contention in 2010, or closer? Or does it not move the meter either way?

    I’d say it nudges the needle just a tiny bit in the right direction. Which is why I just can’t gin up the mopitude about it. YMMV, of course.

  8. RC

    I would trade Willy Taveras for the tattooed black figernail-polished goth dude who gave me my #2 lunch at the Taco Bell drive-thru this afternoon.

    Might even throw in a couple of minor league pitchers to sweeten the deal.

  9. catcard202

    The “plan”, as I see it:

    Buy-out Hernandez, DFA Taveras (sunken cost – I’d rather eat it, than lose more prospects) & Nix (Dorn or Francisco fill LHB Bench Pwr for less).

    Move as many as possible of: Phillips, Harang, Arroyo, Cordero…Maybe even Rhodes & Lincoln…btwn the Winter Meetings & the 2010 non-waiver deadline. Youth from the system fill the void.(Maloney, Woods, Viola, Ordrusek, Del Rosario fill pitching void – Frazier, Richar, Sutton & Valaika battle for 2B)

    LF: Offer a contract to Gomes…even go to arbirtation & pay that $$$ (isf that is what it takes)…Then look to move him…As he’s worth more as a trade tool, than as a LF or what he’ll get paid…and he could bring a good prospect in return. Dickerson, Heisey, Balentien, Dorn are all solid platoon pieces.

    3B: Try to extend Rolen past 2010 only if he takes much less than the $11M he’s getting. Otherwise, Francisco gets to fight for the 3B gig w/ Rosales.

    SS: Janish, Rosales & Sutton fill role til Cozart is ready(2011)…or til WJ moves someone for Hardy, Escobar or HanRam (wishful thinking, I know).

  10. shane

    Yup, lets trade em all and work with nothing but newbies and inexperienced guys…. BUT… we’re tired of losing so lets win NOW!

  11. RC

    Enough thinking fans to fill a reasonable number of seats next year?

    Are Pittsburgh fans flocking to see the new look Pirates? (I’m seriously asking – I have no idea. Maybe they are…)

  12. RC

    Earlier this season, I had suggested (in other fora) a couple of remedies for Taveras – 1) that someone in the clubhouse should tase him every time he makes a fly ball out, and 2) that he be tied to a chair and forced to watch tapes of Ichiro hitting for several weeks.

    Jamie Quirk might possibly have been right in what he said, but I never saw the slightest bit of evidence that either Taveras or his coaches tried to change his “approach” (if you’d call it that) at the plate. (Aside from telling him to bunt more, which didn’t help much because he’s not very good at it.)

  13. James

    I think they have to fix the roster and payroll. I love Arroyo, but I think he’s too expensive. Same with Cordero. (I don’t think Rolen or Harang will be traded.) The Reds have no business splurging for an expensive closer when they can’t get above .500. If you can trade those two, that does free up salary. It puts Bailey, Maloney in the rotation with Cueto and Harang, with one spot open. That’s an inexpensive rotation. It puts Burton or someone else in the closer’s role. It gives them payroll flexibility. That seems like a start.

  14. Bogey

    Rumor has it, the Reds are 20-10 since the Rolen trade. Can’t think of a better stat, unless maybe 25-5.

  15. timb

    @Dan: Dan, not to quibble, but Stewart was a reliever for Toronto’s minor league team. He was a reliever in college and, for the most part, he was a reliever for the Reds too. I don’t get Reds fans’ mad love for CJ Nitkowski II, but I remain disappointed that all they got for two relievers was a china doll.

    To all, the idea that Dusty Baker is somehow responsible for this team’s suckiness is the craziest idea in Reds country. Walt is responsible. There was no CF or LF on this Opening Day roster. There was no SS. Who was Dusty supposed to bat first? Ryan Hanigan? Votto? Nix?

    At the end of 2008 this team needed an SS, a CF, and a LF. Walt did nothing to acquire them.

  16. Larry C

    Is it just me, or does it seem like the Reds continually sign players who seem to be a little short on durability? Until they break this trend and begin to sign some players who spend more time on the field than they do the DL, then this franchise is never gonna succeed. Remember ‘ The Big Red Machine ‘ of the 70’s ? Those guys were out there every single day, regardless of how they felt. That, at least in part, is what makes a winner…

  17. Larry C

    Also, how can anyone blame Dusty for the lack of success seen by this year’s team? After all, there have been no less than twenty players on the DL at one time or another and for various durations. Geez, even ‘ Superman ‘ as manager couldn’t have won the with the 2009 edition of the Cincinnati Reds…!