Today is part two of my review, or summary of the player summaries, for the new 2010 Baseball Prospectus book. Today we feature the pitching staff (we did the hitters yesterday). Again, these are just a look at a handful of the entries for Reds players in the book; go buy it.

Bronson Arroyo–doesn’t have ace stuff, but the best league-average innings muncher

Homer Bailey–rededicated himself to his craft, prioritizing his workouts over hunting, with a focus on simplifying his mechanics and learning the splitter from Justin Lehr; now close to realizing his potential

Francisco Cordero–had one of his best seasons if measured by ERA and save rate, but K rate sharply dropped and line drive rate continues to rise; now is the time to sell

Johnny Cueto–sophomore season looked like his rookie season; small stature and emerging pattern of arm aches is a worrisome combination

Aaron Harang–was hit harder in 2009; he’s not a late-blooming ace after all, just a solid, midrotation starter in need of some luck

Daniel Ray Herrera–gets the job done against lefties (520 OPS against); righties murdered him (952 OPS against)

Mike Leake–if not for Stephen Strasburg, Leake would have gotten a lot more attention; could move quickly through the system, but he’s probably more of a #3 or #4 starter; on the small side, but has outside chance of being the next Tim Hudson

Matt Maloney–could excel as a midrotation starter in a pitcher’s park (flyball pitcher), but will have to work to be successful in Cincinnati

Nick Masset–ground ball pitcher, well-suited for GABP; BABIP was 100 points lower than when he played in Chicago; improved his K rate, walk rate, and line drive rate last year

Micah Owings–his OPS+ was better than his ERA+; his career hitting line is better than Rick Ankiel’s, even after Ankiel quit pitching to concentrate on hitting two years ago; BP says he’s a serviceable fifth starter, but he’s not playing to his strengths

Arthur Rhodes–good lefty relievers can pitch forever; will probably be effective well into his 40’s

Edinson Volquez–blame Dusty Baker for using him unncessarily at the end of 2008 (add Volquez to Dusty’s list of damaged young starters); it’s difficult to be optimistic about his return as a front of the rotation starter (example: Francisco Liriano)

37 Responses

  1. Redsrock

    Interesting stuff. I don’t agree with the Harang one, but you already know that. 😛

  2. Travis G.

    Can’t find a lot to disagree with, particularly on Arroyo. A guy who can take the ball every 3-5 days, season after season, and turn in a league-average performance or slightly better is valuable! I’d be OK with them extending him for another couple of years, honestly.

    I don’t like to root for injuries to anyone, but I’m kind of hoping some big-market club’s closer goes down in spring training and they get desperate enough to offer a B+ prospect or better for Cordero. Getting rid of his salary would be huge, but he’s still so valuable that I’d hate to see them just dump his contract. But that won’t always be the case, I’m afraid.

  3. RiverCity Redleg

    I like the optimism on Mike Leake… I don’t understand why Cueto doen’t get more love from everybody. He’s still so young and should only get stronger. Add that to the flashes of brilliance he’s already shown, I think he could be special. A 2012 rotation of Volquez, Bailey, Cueto, Chapman, Leake could be downright scary for opposing hitters.

    • Steve Price

      RiverCity Redleg: I don’t understand why Cueto doen’t get more love from everybody. He’s still so young and should only get stronger

      Here’s Cueto’s results in two seasons:

      Cueto career first half of season: 15-15, 4.15 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 2.34 k/bb ratio, .251 opp BA
      Cueto career second half of season: 5-10, 5.43 ERA, 1.552 WHIP, 2.12 k/bb ratio, .284 opp BA

      He’s running out of gas and he started hurting at the end of last year.

      let me give everyone another thought: how about Cueto as closer?

      • RiverCity Redleg

        Steve Price: Here’s Cueto’s results in two seasons:Cueto career first half of season: 15-15, 4.15 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 2.34 k/bb ratio, .251 opp BACueto career second half of season: 5-10, 5.43 ERA, 1.552 WHIP, 2.12 k/bb ratio, .284 opp BAHe’s running out of gas and he started hurting at the end of last year.let me give everyone another thought: how about Cueto as closer?

        I get that he’s been running out of gas, but isn’t that more of a correlation to his age? It’s fair to assert that as he gets older and builds stamina, that 1st half/2nd half gap should narrow.

      • pinson343

        Steve Price:
        Here’s Cueto’s results in two seasons:Cueto career first half of season: 15-15, 4.15 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 2.34 k/bb ratio, .251 opp BA
        Cueto career second half of season: 5-10, 5.43 ERA, 1.552 WHIP, 2.12 k/bb ratio, .284 opp BAHe’s running out of gas and he started hurting at the end of last year.let me give everyone another thought:how about Cueto as closer?

        Cueto didn’t pitch in winter ball this year, that might help his stamina this year.

        I won’t get into the Volquez/Dusty debate, but Volquez’ offseason pitching prior to 2009 certainly did not help.
        And BP’s comment that he won’t be the same is just conjecture, they have no more of an idea about that than anyone else.

        I subscribe to BP and like their statistical analyses. But to make things interesting, they like to sometimes be opinionated beyond what’s supported by the stats. And sometimes they’re too quick to jump to conclusions, what they say about Harang above is what a casual fan would, it’s not based on a thorough analysis.

  4. TC

    Arroyo – Agreed
    Bailey – Agreed
    Cordero – Strongly Agreed
    Cueto – They didn’t say anything worthwhile
    Harange – Disagree
    Herrara – They didn’t say anything worthwhile
    Leake – I’ve never seen him pitch, so I don’t know. Oh yeah! Neither do they, btw.
    Maloney – Agreed
    Massett – They didn’t say anything worthwhile
    Rhodes – Okay, whatever.
    Volquez – As much as we all like to blame Dusty for everything that ever goes wrong, there is no evidence to support their assertation. It doesn’t matter that we all think it, it is irresponsible for them to print something like that. The Reds already work from a disadvantage playing at GASP when it comes to getting quality pitchers to come to Cincinnati. Now they’ve got to deal with this. They wrote it, it must be true.

    While I agree with much of it, I can’t get excited with these pieces that say something without actually saying anything intelligent. I wonder if the people in New York and Atlanta who write these have ever seen any of these guys pitch or if they just make this stuff up based on the stats, headlines, and by watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN. It is obvious to me that they don’t know the nuances of Reds pitching.

    Yesterday’s position player review was just as useless and ignorant of nuance. You can’t discount the stats, but there is more to all of these guys than stats. Look at just about any player, their stats bounce around, in some cases dramatically, from year to year. You CANNOT determine the outcome based on stats. If that was the case we should just crown the Yankees the 2010 World Champs and not bother with the hassle of playing out the season.

    • Steve Price

      TC: While I agree with much of it, I can’t get excited with these pieces that say something without actually saying anything intellige

      The details are in the book…I don’t really think BP would’ve wanted me to print the story…it’s all substantive

    • Steve Price

      TC: You CANNOT determine the outcome based on stats. If that was the case we should just crown the Yankees the 2010 World Champs and not bother with the hassle of playing out the season.
      Reply

      The stats are what have typically shown that the Yankees’ players were too old and in decline. BP predicted the rise of the Rays.

      And it takes a combination of scouting and statistical analysis…that’s why all teams use this info; that is, except for the Reds, of course, who dumped their stats guys a few years ago…the Boston Red Sox entire organization is going this direction…

    • Steve Price

      TC: Volquez – As much as we all like to blame Dusty for everything that ever goes wrong, there is no evidence to support their assertation

      Who pitched Volquez at the end of 2008?

      His four highest pitch totals of the year were 121, 119, 118, and 117. Three of those four came in three of his last four starts of the year; two of those games he walked in six in six and seven innings of work (119 and 121 pitches). His previous two games, he had been really hot, strking out 13 and 10. The Reds were more than 20 games out of first place during the entire month of September. They had 10 different guys start games that year.

      Like Homer, this past fall, Dusty rode his hot hand trying to pick up a few extra wins. From a competitive standpoint, that sounds cool; from a 20 game out stand point, it’s damaging to a young pitcher who had never pitched that much…and his innings were compacted since he was struggling wiht his control. He threw more than 20 pitches per inning in about 2/3 of the innings in those games he walked six.

      Volquez went from 144 innings to 196 innings in 2008. In the first half of 2008, Volquez sported a 2.29 ERA, allowed 1.241 runners per innings,allowed an opponent’s batting average of 2.29, and only allowed five homers in 117 innings. In the second half, 2008, Volquez had a 4.60 ERA, allowed 1.455 runners per nine innings, had an opponent’s batting average of .260, and allowed nine homers in 78 innings. He was clearly not the same pitcher in the second half of the season.

      • Tom Diesman

        Steve Price: Volquez went from 144 innings to 196 innings in 2008.

        Bailey went from 148 IP to 203 IP in 2009. Isn’t the rule of thumb not to increase a pitchers inning totals by more than 30 IP from season to season?

      • Steve Price

        Tom Diesman: Bailey went from 148 IP to 203 IP in 2009. Isn’t the rule of thumb not to increase a pitchers inning totals by more than 30 IP from season to season

        Yes…Bailey is considered to be a real possibility to fall due to the Verducci Effect.

        Myself…I think every player is different. The shame to the Bailey situation, and to Volquez the year before, is that the decisions to pitch them hard at season’s end could be justified as “developing them” but I really think it’s justification in denying the real reasons. Dusty’s a competitor, and he wants to win; his background is that of 1970’s Chavez Ravine Dodgers where no one would score runs and the Dodgers didn’t use relievers. It’s not hard to follow the dots…and that conversation has to take place between the GM and manager…It’s the GM’s job to look out for the long term interests of the ballclub.

        The recent thought that stressed pitch counts makes a lot more sense to me than just ordinary pitch counts…as a competitor, it isn’t always good to ‘reach back for that something extra.” Volquez’s 2008 ended with a series of very high pitch count innings; if he was worn down from season’s stress already it would only make things worse.

      • pinson343

        Steve Price:
        Dusty’s a competitor, and he wants to win; his background is that of 1970’s Chavez Ravine Dodgers where no one would score runs and the Dodgers didn’t use relievers.

        Absolutely. And the Dodgers of Dusty’s years always had a stable of stud starters and a good closer, with not much in the way of a bridge in between.

      • preach

        ..and a lineup that could afford to let the starter get into a little trouble. That makes a huge difference on pitcher use.

        pinson343: Absolutely. And the Dodgers of Dusty’s years always had a stable of stud starters and a good closer, with not much in the way of a bridge in between.

  5. TC

    @RiverCity Redleg: I didn’t get the sense it was very optimistic. A 3 or 4 pitcher is not optimistic considering it can be argued he was the best pitcher to come out of the draft last year. Personally, I’d take Strausburg, but Leake played in a tougher conference and played better in the AFL. If we are looking at a pitcher’s size then Lincecum shouldn’t even be in the MLs.

  6. david

    @RiverCity Redleg: Unfortunately, the rotation of Volquez, Cueto, Chapman, Bailey, Leake would be downright scary for Reds fans too. These guys have a world of potential and could all be very, very good. That said, this rotation would be all feast or famine in 2011. Volquez is the only guy who sniffed 200 IP and it landed him in the OR. Cueto would be the “most consistent” guy in the lot, and that isn’t saying much.

    I like these guys. I think they have the potential for domination. That said, you need an Arroyo in the mix to calm the waters and eat some major innings. I see Harang traded or bought out. I see Arroyo staying on a new deal.

    • Doug Gray

      david: @RiverCity Redleg: Unfortunately, the rotation of Volquez, Cueto, Chapman, Bailey, Leake would be downright scary for Reds fans too.These guys have a world of potential and could all be very, very good.That said, this rotation would be all feast or famine in 2011.Volquez is the only guy who sniffed 200 IP and it landed him in the OR.Cueto would be the “most consistent” guy in the lot, and that isn’t saying much.I like these guys.I think they have the potential for domination.That said, you need an Arroyo in the mix to calm the waters and eat some major innings.I see Harang traded or bought out.I see Arroyo staying on a new deal.

      Homer Bailey threw over 200 innings last season between AAA and MLB.

  7. Mark in CC

    One thing that hurts Cueto and will probably do the same to Leake, among the so-called experts, his his size. Historically pitchers 5’10” and smaller are not looked on favorably because they tend to break down faster. I think it will hurt JC more than Leake because he is looked at as more of a power pitcher and a bigger injury risk. Hopefully this isn’t the true in JCs case but is probably why he gets no love.

  8. JBonireland

    Going over the list, I don’t see any love for Travis Wood. I wonder why he doesn’t get more mention. I would think his potential is equal to Maloney’s. I would agree with the comments about a starter’s size. Today the prototypical starter seems to be 6’4″. I remember watching Harvey Haddix, Jackie Collum, and several other smaller Reds starters do well. As the Article said, they could turn into the next Tim Hudson. I’d take that.

    • Steve Price

      JBonireland: Going over the list, I don’t see any love for Travis Wood.

      Wood is mentioned in the book…I listed the guys who would most likely be there at the beginning of the season and I included Leake as the #1 draft choice.

      BP says Wood has a chance to be a 4 or 5 starter…keeps the ball in the park; could be in Cincinnati by season’s end

  9. Dave Massey

    I really wish Owings would pull his head out of his ass and realize he’s a good hitter and a mediocre pitcher. Would solve the left fielder problem automatically, and put a good bat into the 2 hole of our lineup.

    I remember that one of the reasons he was excited about playing for the Reds was because we would let him pitch and not convert him to a hitter. Guess what, buddy boy? Experiment over. Now pick up some lumber and get with the program.

  10. oakhillbill

    the potential that the Reds have in the future between these group of pitchers and their young players on the offensive side of things is pretty incredible. for so long we have all been following a hapless team of under achievers.. and now there is a legitimate chance for this team and this city to finally have a reason to believe in the next couple years..

    but everything can change.. for example early last year homer bailey was nearly being put under the category of a flame out who will never realize his potential.. but now it looks like he is on the verge of having an incredible career.

    lets hope the Reds can find some spark plugs this year and make it a great summer and a reason to watch FSN ohio.

  11. wanderinredsfan

    @Steve Price: Let’s hope Price brings some clarity to the coaching staff. I sure as hell hope he’s making the calls when to pull a pitcher, especially at the end of the season. I’m tired of Dusty’s ‘win at all costs’ attitude. I wouldn’t mind it as much if we were in a pennant race, but when we’re just trying to position ourselves ahead of Pittsburgh, it un-nerves me to no end. Dusty deserves all the criticism he receives. He is just too abusive to young arms.

  12. david

    @Doug Gray: There’s a big difference between innings in AAA and MLB.

    @Steve Price: We’ve gone through this before. A scout which overlooks a pitcher because of his size does so at his own peril. Size as a measure does not have to do with stamina. It has to do with velocity. Improper mechanics leads to stamina and injury issues. In fact, the pitchers which are too tall are more likely to have mechanical breakdowns; thus, are more likely to have major injuries.

    The reason we see bigger pitchers at the MLB level is that, on a whole, baseball players are getting bigger. You just don’t see too many small stature players in today’s era.

    Nothing suggests that Cueto won’t be able to meet his current level of performance as a starter. Why waste his ability as a closer?

    • Steve Price

      david: Nothing suggests that Cueto won’t be able to meet his current level of performance as a starter. Why waste his ability as a closer

      David,

      I know you found something that says it’s velocity…everything I read says it’s stamina based on body type…my guess is more velocity is possible, too, but I’ve always heard that had more to do with wrist action not body type. Cueto already throws hard…he’s running out of gas and his arm hurts at season’s end.

      If we wait until his arm hurts and can’t pitch anymore, then we’ve wasted talent. If the best fit for him is closer, that’s a better team alternative. And, it won’t cost us $10+ million for the closer we’re paying for in Cordero…or we limit Cueto to 75 pitches per game while youngsters in the minors transition.

      He’s 24…as we did mention before the guys he’s compared to are already pitching at all-star levels; they’re not developing

  13. pinson343

    PS If they trade Cordero, Cueto would be an interesting closer possibility. He does throw strikes. But would that wear on his arm even more ?

    • Steve Price

      pinson343: PS If they trade Cordero, Cueto would be an interesting closer possibility. He does throw strikes. But would that wear on his arm even more ?
      Reply

      Is there a more protected species than that of a closer? No stress, only enter the game with no one on base and a three run lead in the 9th. Cordero caused his own stress….

      • pinson343

        Steve Price:
        Is there a more protected species than that of a closer?No stress, only enter the game with no one on base and a three run lead in the 9th.Cordero caused his own stress….

        I mostly agree about closers, assuming that by “stress” you mean “arm stress.” But relief pitching is more demanding on the arm in terms of pitching more frequently and unpredictably. Of course a lot of times a reliever has to get up and throw and doesn’t even get in the game. And let’s not forget Dusty’s using Cordero 5 nites in a row at one point last year.

        Cordero does add to his arm stress by not throwing strikes.

  14. david

    @Steve Price: What do Joba Chamberlin, Max Scherzer, Chad Billingsley and Yovani Gallardo have in common? They are all 6′-1″ or taller, all are considered front of the rotation talent, all are 25 or younger, and all saw their second half ERA jump by more than a run: Joba Chamberlin (4.25 – 5.40), Max Scherzer (3.64 – 4.74), Chad Billingsley (3.38 – 5.20) and Yovani Gallardo (3.22 – 4.56).

    I’m not saying that Cueto’s second half dip isn’t indicative of fatigue. I’m sure it is to some extent; however, he’s a young pitcher. He most likely either develop the arm strength to continue pitching 170 IP at a more consistent level OR he will learn how to pitch more efficiently with experience.

    Discussing a move to a closer role out of fear that his height is prohibitive of a long term success as a starting pitcher, while ignoring the same pattern of fatigue exhibited amongst his taller contemporaries, is reactionary.

    • Steve Price

      david: What do Joba Chamberlin, Max Scherzer, Chad Billingsley and Yovani Gallardo have in common? They are all 6′-1″ or taller, all are considered front of the rotation talent, all are 25 or younger, and all saw their second half ERA jump by more than a run: Joba Chamberlin (4.25 – 5.40), Max Scherzer (3.64 – 4.74), Chad Billingsley (3.38 – 5.20) and Yovani Gallardo (3.22 – 4.56).
      I’m not saying that Cueto’s second half dip isn’t indicative of fatigue. I’m sure it is to some extent; however, he’s a young pitcher. He most likely either develop the arm strength to continue pitching 170 IP at a more consistent level OR he will learn how to pitch more efficiently with experience.
      Discussing a move to a closer role out of fear that his height is prohibitive of a long term success as a starting pitcher, while ignoring the same pattern of fatigue exhibited amongst his taller contemporaries, is reactionary.

      Cueto has declined in the second half two years in a row; 2009 much worse than 2008. Chamberlain, Billinglsey, and Scherzer declined last year, but not in 2008. Gallardo didn’t pitch enough in the majors in 2007 or 2008 to measure. Scherzer is also on everyone’s Verducci Effect list for this year, like Bailey.

      Measuring a player’s physical profile is precisely the a talent scout’s responsiblity. This is where the tools’ scouts and the statistical analysts meet. Scout says…body type reads too small to start, but he has the pitches…so, let’s give him a try. Analyst says, his performance shows he’s wearing down. Plan B is make the most of his ability.

  15. david

    @pinson343: Most players that come back from successful Tommy John surgery see an increase in velocity, don’t they?

  16. pinson343

    @david: David, Yes but as they always say: “Individual results do vary.” And I remember reading that Volquez didn’t just have the standard TJ surgery, he hurt his arm in two places. But don’t get me wrong, I was just saying that BP can’t predict what will happen with Volquez. My own instinct is that he’s going to make a strong recovery.

  17. preach

    @Steve Price: This may be the best, most concise, and most plausible explanation for Dusty’s pitching usage I have ever read. And it really puts the blame above the dugout, doesn’t it?

  18. Robert broadnax

    Steve Price, I think you are being overly critical of Dusty, particularly when it comes to Edison V, I don’t think Dusty made him pitch in winter ball or the world baseball series.

    • Steve Price

      Steve Price, I think you are being overly critical of Dusty, particularly when it comes to Edison V, I don’t think Dusty made him pitch in winter ball or the world baseball series

      No,I’m not…frankly, I was being gentle.

      Dusty and Jocketty could have stopped both of these things…very simply, and, if I’m those guys, I’m on the phone with them and whoever’s managing these teams several times a week communicating.

      Anyway, that’s besides the point…Dusty is a proponent of the guys pitching in the winter…he’s already mentioned that it was good for Chapman to pitch that much.

      And, the damage I”m talking about was already done…

  19. Will

    @Steve Price: That’s not a bad idea, having cueto closing, but then who would they get to take his spot in the rotation? It might work in a few years when they get more prospects up.

    • Steve Price

      That’s not a bad idea, having cueto closing, but then who would they get to take his spot in the rotation?

      He’s not effective in the second half of the season now. His second half numbers are similar to a Kip Wells season. Also, do we wait until he hurts his arm?

      Not having assets doesn’t mean they should harm the good assets they currently have.