• Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) wrote a great post this morning on Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias, explaining the lengths the Reds organization went to sign the Cuban pitcher.

Ask Iglesias why he signed with the Reds, and he will tell you that the franchise is one of the “most historic” in baseball, and that he wanted to join his countrymen — Pena, Chapman and minor-league outfielder Felix Perez. He also said the Reds showed more interest in him than any other club. No one knows if Iglesias can handle a starter’s workload (he was mostly a reliever in Cuba) or if he will make a significant contribution this season (it has been about a year and a half since he pitched competitively). But he shows savvy on the mound, an ability to set up hitters, a willingness to throw any pitch in any count. In a recent Cactus League game, he threw the Giants’ Adam Duvall a 3-0 slider for a strike. Like all Cuban defectors, he is a profile in courage, and like Chapman, a symbol of the Reds’ scouting moxie.

• Homer Bailey remains on target to pitch for the Reds in mid-April (Doug Miller, MLB.com). Bailey is scheduled to pitch Sunday in a minor league game.

The good news for the Reds is that Bailey is still on schedule. The right-hander threw a bullpen session on Thursday and will now be targeted for an outing Sunday in a controlled environment against Minor Leaguers. Reds manager Bryan Price said the team felt that Bailey accomplished what he needed to with the one live batting-practice session last Thursday. “We’re all comfortable with that,” Price said. “He’s passed all the tests.” Price said the plan for Sunday will be about 30 pitches in two innings, giving Bailey the simulation of a real start in that he’ll pitch an inning, sit down and then pitch another. That outing would set him up for another five days later in which the Reds would plan to get him to three innings and 45-50 pitches.

Walt Jocketty said on MLB Radio yesterday that Bailey may miss just one start. Evidence for that is the Reds’ plan (John Fay) to have the Texan pitch only in minor league games during spring training so he can start the regular season on the DL but backdated to allow him to pitch fairly soon after Opening Day. If he misses one turn in the rotation, that could mean he would return in St. Louis on the weekend of April 17-19. 

• Veteran sports writer and one of the best in the business, Richard Justice (MLB.com), talked to Joey Votto and concludes the slugger is healthy and confident about his return. 

He feels good. He feels confident. Little by little, he’s finding he can do the things he usually has done better than almost anyone. In other words, he’s feeling like Joey Votto again. … None of baseball’s really elite players has been as subject to as much idiotic criticism as Votto in recent years. First, there was the notion he needed to be more aggressive at the plate, that he needed to stop drawing walks and start hitting home runs. Yes, some people actually thought Votto would be more productive if he swung at more bad pitches and made more outs. If you take a moment to think through the logic of that criticism, your head might explode. And then last season, it got worse when there was the implication from some that Votto should attempt to play through his injury, that he lacked toughness. Never mind that he did attempt to play hurt.

Also, great quotes from Votto in that article.

The Reds first baseman played only a few innings on Wednesday because he had taken *seven* at bats (including a home run) and played in a minor league game on Tuesday. Manager Bryan Price says Votto looks great (Fay).

He (Votto) played in a minor league game and got seven at-bats. He was on base six times — he hit a home run, got hit by a pitch and walked four times. “He ran the bases every time,” Price said. “He was running around the bases quite a bit. We left (Wednesday) open. He really wanted to play, so we cut him back by an inning.” Overall, Votto has been fine, despite missing 100 games last year with knee/quad injuries. “There’s one benefit from injury and that’s the ability to completely focus on your rehabilitation and your overall strength because you don’t have to compete through it,” Price said. “That’s what he did. He looks good. He looks spry — that’s the best word — he looks agile and spry, a lot of energy. I think he looks as good as he’s looked in a couple of years.”

• Kevin Goheen (Fox Sports Ohio) has your daily Kristopher Negron fix.

It’s 6:15 in the morning. First things first for Kristopher Negron: coffee. Negron then grabs some breakfast before stretching and getting his work day started. He heads out to one of the half fields the Reds have set up at their spring training complex to take ground balls, then to the batting cages. He’s not the only player who shows up early for work – manager Bryan Price says only a few aren’t in the facility by 7:30 even though official dressed and on-time isn’t until an hour later – but it’s a routine Negron won’t break away from.

• In a move that surprised many, the Reds announced earlier this week that lefty Tony Cingrani would pitch out of the bullpen. Mike Petriello (FanGraphs) makes a strong case that the decision puts Cingrani in a better position to succeed.

With a nod to the fact that we don’t know how much resistance Cingrani is going to put up to the move, he really seems like the perfect candidate. He’s got one good pitch, maybe two. He’s got good velocity as a starter that could potentially be elite as a reliever from the left side, and there’s enough concern about his durability to make the idea of limiting his workload appealing.

• On the other hand, Dave Cameron (FanGraphs) argues that for the Reds to compete this year, they will need players to out-perform their expectations. He believes this is unlikely for veteran pitchers Jason Maquis and Paul Maholm, both signed to minor league contracts. Cameron characterizes Bryan Price’s apparent decision to use Marquis in an extended role as a starter as playing it too safe.

The Reds don’t have the luxury of playing it safe with low-upside veterans. Given their competition in the NL Central and the impending decision they have on Cueto and Leake come the trade deadline, this isn’t even a team that can afford to get out of the gates slowly. If Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm are still pitching for the Reds in June, then I’d guess it’s pretty unlikely that Cueto or Leake will be pitching for them in August.

When you’re not a great team and you’re still trying to win, you have to take big risks. If the Reds really are going to roll with two replacement level veterans, they probably aren’t going to find those dozen extra wins they need in order to be this year’s Royals. At least with the young kids you can hope for the unexpected. Based on this plan, I’m not really sure what Reds fans are left hoping for now.

• The Reds play the San Francisco Giants tonight in Scottsdale. The game will be broadcast live (9:05 ET) on the MLB Network and on radio at MLB.com. Anthony DeSclafani was scheduled to start yesterday’s game against Texas that was rained out.

39 Responses

  1. jdx19

    How do you get 7 ABs in a minor league game? Did it go 14 innings or something? I tried looking for the box score but couldn’t find it!

    • jdx19

      So, 3-for-12 with nine (wow) walks, a homer, and an HBP, I think is Votto’s line. That’s a .250/.591/.500 line. Somewhat encouraging given Votto’s self-proclaimed slow starting. The homer helped a lot. The line is much less impressive without it.

      • Jeremy Forbes

        Even if you lose the homer, any line with a .591 OBP on it is impressive. Say he hit nothing but singles, so it was .250/.591/.250, that’s still a .841 OPS. Plius no matter what else you do, if you’re successfully on base nearly six out of every ten times, that’s automatically a success, even if the other four times you strike out. You’d likely lead the league in runs scored by a fairly large margin.

      • jdx19

        Yeah, I get it. But, we both know .591 isn’t a sustainable OBP and neither is a 43% walk rate. So, during the season, a .250/.440/.250 is nothing to write home about. (I know that is incredibly unlikely, but just seeing Votto go yard is encouraging given his problems with the lower half of his body. That was the point!)

      • Jeremy Forbes

        Yeah, it is nice to see Votto send one out. Kind of like how nice it was when Spring started and Bruce lined a double to center, then a few games later sent a homer to center and you just had to feel “Thank God his power is back.”

        A healthy Votto is always an entertaining thing to get to watch.

    • jdx19

      Interesting. Baseball fan for 20-some years and have never heard that! Good to know!

  2. Mike W.

    I am sure you have said it in the past, but what would you have done to make it better? Send a bunch of prospects out for a 1 year rental in LF? Over paid for a top of the line starter again? The fact of the matter is that it is always easier to spend someone else’s money for them. Althought I believe they mis-allocated it, what good business doesn’t run on a budget? They went for it in the past and missed when they traded away a ton for guys like Latos, Marshall, Broxton, etc. It happens. I can’t blame them if they didn’t do it again here. They have a bright future in the likes of Winker, Suarez, Stephenson, Lorenzen, Howard, Ervin, etc.

    The offense will instantly get better with the addition of 1) a healthy Joey Votto, 2) a healthy Jay Bruce, 3) Devin Mesoraco catching every day with occasional days off. Not many teams in the league have 3 good starters, let alone 4. There is still a lot to be optimistic about for this year.

    • Jeremy Conley

      The problem, as many here and many other sites have noted, is the Reds half-in, half-out approach. If you are going to trade 40% of your starting rotation, why also trade a prospect for a guy like Byrd?

      If the Reds had traded Cueto, Chapman, and Cozart, they could have loaded up the farm with MLB-ready talent.

      Or, the Reds could have held on to Latos (trading Simon was always the way to go) and traded for someone like Seth Smith who has two years of control left. Improved the bench, and the pen, and tried to win it all in 2015.

      I’m hopeful about the Reds chances this year, I think they can be better than projected. But they don’t have the talent to win the WS right now, that’s just obviously true. They aren’t the most talented team in their own division, let alone league, let alone the whole game. So it is a little disappointing to go into a season feeling like if everything goes are way, we might contend for the second wild card.

      • DHud

        You trade one mid level pitching prospect for a productive left field stop gap because 7 of your top 10 prospects and 11 of top 20 are starting pitchers. For a team on a budget like the Reds, trading Latos and Simon were smart moves before they were forced to overpay for both to block the depth chart for aforementioned prospects

      • Jeremy Conley

        The point is, without Latos (who is only making $9mil this year and is a free agent at the end of the year, so I’m not sure what you mean about overpaying etc) the Reds have a pretty questionable rotation. So why get a old, mid-level left fielder at any cost? Save the money and prospects for when they will do you some good.

        Or, keep Latos and get a better left-fielder, and try to win. They are moves going in the opposite direction.

      • DHud

        I don’t follow your logic Jeremy. We got an “old, mid-level left fielder” because we desperately needed production from that corner. Reds LFs hit a combined .627 OPS with 10 hrs and 57 RBI last season. Byrd hit .757, 25, and 85 respectively on an abysmal Philly team, so even if he regresses an average amount we’ll still see increased production. The Phillies are covering half of his $8 mil contract, so he only is costing us $4 mil. Keeping Latos at $9 mil, plus a “better” left fielder who would’ve likely cost another $4-8 mil would’ve put the Reds, who are already at their budget, in for another $13-17 mil from where they are now. So that option would not have saved any money, it would’ve cost more. Plus they gave up one prospect who was projected middle of the rotation, not the entire farm.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Here’s the logic: Without Latos and Simon from last year, do you think that the Reds are going to win the division this year? I think it unlikely when we are planning on giving 40% of our starts to Jason Marquis and Desclafani, Cueto is an injury risk because of his extreme workload last year, and Bailey is coming off of surgery and a bad year.

        So, at that point, it doesn’t make sense to make moves to upgrade the team for 2015. It’s about recognizing when you have the pieces, and recognizing when you don’t.

        To me, the Reds last year, if healthy, could have been contenders if they had added a guy like Byrd and a guy like Badenhop. But now they’ve shipped off two starting pitchers and replaced them with guys who are expected to be worse. They traded those guys for minor league players, which signals playing for the future not the present. Which is fine, just go all in on that.

        If you don’t have the money this year, then just pull the bandaid and rebuild. It will be over really fast if you do that. Going half and half, you could turn into the Phillies: a super old team that stinks but is really expensive.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I totally agree. I would have no problem with Marquis and Dsclafani pitching if this was a rebuilding year. But if we’re trying to win? No way.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Since in reality, we are rebuilding, Marquis greatly bothers me. That is a very valuable roster spot he is denying a younger man with a brighter future. My take is the team can admit to rebuilding, starting in ’15, and gain a year of experience for more players that will concern the future, or delay it until ’16 and lose a year.

      My greatest fear is Cueto’s health because if he goes down, the team will lose a tremendous amount of value that they could have gained in a trade. The gnashing of teeth will be as great as when the Reds blew the playoffs against SF. It seems to be common knowledge that Cueto’s value is as high as it will get, right now, Everyday the Reds delay puts the team in jeopardy of missing out on a brighter future. To me it is just plain dumb.

    • Grand Salami

      I hear what your saying Desco and Marquis but isn’t this conundrum part of the reason Bryan Price was selected as the manager? The man has somewhat of a reputation as a pitcher-whisperer. Price can address a pitching deficit far more capably than a dearth of hitting.

    • eddiek957

      it’s hard not to be optimistic in march. if things work out we will be in the thick of it come september

    • mrredlegz

      @ Jeremy… Wasn’t there a Fangraphs article not too long ago projecting Desclafani to be as good or better than Latos this year? And Cueto is an injury risk due to the number of innings he threw last year? I think the fact that he was able to throw so many innings without injury after a an injury-plagued 2013 speaks volumes on Johnny’s durability.

      Oye. The regular season cannot start soon enough. 2.5 more weeks of speculation…

  3. Jeremy Conley

    The article on Iglesias is really good. From what I’ve been able to see, he really has electric stuff. His delivery needs refinement, but he’s the type of guy that you can get excited about. Watching him and Desclafani pitch is night and day.

    In the end, either you have movement or you don’t.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I don’t see him as being a reliever at all. There aren’t many guys with four pitches they can control, and certainly not with his kind of velocity and movement. He would be wasted in the pen.

      Also, he’s not a small guy. There’s no reason to think he can’t handle the workload. He’s pitched over 80 innings in relief, and he’s only 24. If he pitches 130 innings this year, he should be ready for a full-time 5th starter role next year and the Reds will have him under control for 6 years at less than $4mil per.

      That’s about the best value the Reds have right now.

  4. Grand Salami

    Denying an accomplished author his drink is like denying a fish of water. Guarantee Hemmingway, Faulkner, and dozens of other titan of literature wouldn’t have set foot on stage with rules like that!

    • VaRedsFan

      Nice slider by Desclafini for strike 3 on Posey

      • VaRedsFan

        1 hit, 35 pitches through 2 for AD.

      • VaRedsFan

        AD: 4 2/3 IP. 3 run’s (1 earned) 82 pitches. Cozart dropped a 2 out liner that would have ended the inning

    • VaRedsFan

      And so far, our only hit through 6 innings….yikes

  5. VaRedsFan

    Is Desclafini on an innings limit this year. If the Reds are in the thick of it in August, what’s the plan with him and Iglesias? I suppose we could just get a 3 month rental from another team, but that cost prospects… and we would need two. Who has a good solution to this?

    I really hate that we are using Marquis as the #5. And will hate it more if he stays in there when Homer gets back. But you and I both know if Marquis gets a contract that the Reds aren’t going to eat that for just 1-2 starts in April. He will stay on the roster.

    • CP

      I think using Marquis is the plan to make sure the Reds don’t make it to August in the thick of it.

      Seriously, I’d say Maholm (if he’s still with the team), Holmberg, Axelrod, Sampson, and potentially Moscot, Lorenzen (if he isn’t in bullpen), or Stephenson. Also, don’t forget about Cingrani. The Reds have some depth in the back of the rotation, it just isn’t the quality we’re used to seeing.

  6. VaRedsFan

    “Yes, some people actually thought Votto would be more productive if he swung at more bad pitches and made more outs.”

    This reporter seems to falling for the rhetoric that other people are spewing. I wish people like him would stop spreading such nonsense. For the millionth time, the hope is for Votto to be more aggressive “in the zone.”

    • jdx19

      You must have missed a lot on this topic. Many folks on this board, as well as writes and tv personalities want Votto to be more aggressive OUT of the zone, as well, especially with RISP.

      The writer in the article isn’t falling for any rhetoric and he’s not spreading nonsense. People like you are, the ones who feel they know more about hitting than Joey Votto. You don’t. So stop.

      • VaRedsFan

        And what I’m saying, is not what people here think. To the RLN: Raise your hand if you want Votto to swing at balls outside the zone.
        Votto is a great talent. To want him to swing at more strikes, because he is our best hitter isn’t unreasonable at all. You too must be falling for the writers and TV personalities rhetoric, if you feel that’s what we want.

      • CP

        All strikes aren’t created equal for hitters. People essentially wanted Votto to trade outs for RBIs. Even the most ardent Votto-supporters would start questioning Joey if he started taking belt-high fastballs consistently. What we don’t have problems with, is Joey taking “pitcher” pitches like outside changeups on the corner-of-the-plate, where pitchers are essentially ambivalent if Joey swings or not.

      • VaRedsFan

        And with that I agree 100%…unless there’s 2 strikes on him.

  7. sezwhom

    Based on this plan, I’m not really sure what Reds fans are left hoping for now.

    I would agree. Always “hope” for the best but our Starting Pitching won’t scare anyone outside of Cueto and he may not be with us past July.

  8. charlottencredsfan

    Good observations.

    Hamilton is a mess right now. From the left side, he has his stance wide open again and way too much foot movement from both sides, If you doubt the front foot moving around, see if you can find one decent MLB hitter that does the same. The open stance just makes it so much worse.

    In his second AB, Billy lays down a near perfect bunt but the 3B is in so close, Hamilton is thrown out.

    • jdx19

      You are correct.

      I hate to say it, but if third baseman are going to be 10 feet in on the grass like that, Hamilton can’t bunt. Or he needs to try a drag bunt from the left side. I know it took a good play from McGehee, but unless you can bunt with better success than Hamilton has, you are better off trying to slap it by them I think His bunting, last year and so far in ST, has been atrocious. I was really hoping we’d see the fruits of his off-season bunting work in ST. So far, nope.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Actually, I think BHam is an excellent bunter; just no where to bunt. If he can’t hit line drives, he will have a very short MLB career. Working on bunting in the off-season may have been pointless.