Spring Training Dates

The Reds announced their Spring Training dates. The date for pitchers and catchers to report is Feb. 18 (that’s 92 days away). Position players report on Feb. 23. The first of their 33-game schedule is March 1, against Cleveland. The final game in Goodyear will be March 31. The Reds will play the Pirates in an exhibition game on Saturday, April 2, at Victory Field in Indianapolis. Victory Field is home to the Indianapolis minor league club. [Update: the exhibition game on April 2 is now sold out.]

Find official Spring Training info here.

Opening Day is Monday, April 4 (138 days away).

Frazier to Cleveland? 

One possible trade destination for Todd Frazier is Cleveland. A couple writers offer their opinions at what a fair trade might look like.

Joe Sheehan makes the case that Frazier could be a fit in exchange for pitching, which Cleveland has in abundance.

“Urshela can go back as a second piece in any deal; he’s a glove man who, at 24, might become an average-minus hitter and at least replaces Frazier’s defense in the short term. Pitching-rich Cleveland will have to be willing to deal a southpaw prospect like Rob Kaminsky or Justus Sheffield to get a trade done, however. The Reds could get bold and ask for Trevor Bauer, who showed positive signs last year but still was just a below-average starter. He’s the clear #4 for Cleveland, who have enough depth to move Bauer if it means making a four-win upgrade and not adding much to the payroll.”

Rick Weiner at Bleacher Report suggests a different package for Frazier.

Cincinnati Gets: 3B Yandy Diaz, OF Tyler Naquin and RHP Danny Salazar. Cincinnati lands a controllable innings eater to slot atop its rotation in Danny Salazar, who along with Anthony DeSclafani and the returning Homer Bailey has the potential to be a potent trio of young arms to lead the Reds pitching staff for years to come. Tyler Naquin doesn’t have tremendous power, but the 24-year-old has hit at every minor league level he’s played, makes consistent contact and knows how to get on base consistently. His above-average arm and speed make him a fit anywhere in the outfield. Like Naquin, Yandy Diaz doesn’t have big power, but what he lacks in pop he makes up for with an advanced approach at the plate, drawing more walks than strikeouts over his minor league career. He gives the Reds an immediate replacement for Frazier at the hot corner.

Votto as MVP Candidate

The NL MVP will be announced this Thursday evening. The three finalists are Bryce Harper (WAS), Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) and the Reds’ Joey Votto. Harper rightly remains the prohibitive favorite, but Mark Sheldon details the case for Votto. At age 31, Votto had his best overall season in 2015.

“After the All-Star break, Votto led the Majors in hitting (.362) and on-base percentage (.535), and he also had a .617 slugging percentage. The only other players to produce a half-season like that with at least a 1.152 OPS were Ted Williams in 1941, who hit .406 in the first half with a .535 OBP and a 1.373 OPS in the second half, and Barry Bonds, who batted .365 with a .628 OBP and a 1.422 OPS in the first half of 2004.”

Of course, if you read What to expect: Joey Votto you already knew that, a month before Opening Day:

Joey Votto recently said he is completely healthy and that his legs will allow him to drive the ball as in the past. If that’s the case, Reds fans can expect Votto to put up numbers at least as he did in 2013, when he was second in the NL in offensive contribution, but with more power. Projection: Expect Votto to hit over .300 with an on-base percentage well over .400, and hit 25-30 homers and 35 doubles. In other words, one of the best hitters in the league and an MVP candidate.

Interview with Dick Williams

David Laurila at FanGraphs interviewed Dick Williams at the GM meetings. Williams talks about how he’ll approach leading the Reds front office.

On the Reds analytics department:

“None of us really know what everybody else is doing, but I would put our analytics up against anybody. Our goal is to provide as much information as our decision-makers can use. We’re constantly hiring – building our team – and we’re constantly improving the outputs we get from those different models. It’s an evolution, and it’s going to continue to be an evolution.”

On building a roster or lineup:

“I’m still formulating my philosophy on lineup construction. It’s evolved over time. It’s such a function of the players you’ve got, so I’m a little hesitant to force my philosophy before dealing with the realities of what I have. We’ve seen it: there are different ways to score runs. When Theo (Epstein) was asked about the best way to build a winning roster, he said that whoever wins the World Series, that will be the way to win a World Series until the next one. Everybody will spend their offseason trying to be like that team. I think that it’s important to stay with your beliefs, but there is no one answer to solve this riddle of putting together a successful, World Series team.”

Read the entire interview here.

How Long Will The Rebuild Take?

Also at FanGraphs, yesterday Eno Sarris analyzed how long it might take the Reds to rebuild. He presents data that suggests in the two-wild-card era, maybe turnarounds don’t take as long as they used to:

“All of this comes back to where the Reds think they are on the win curve, and how volatile they think the game is. There’s definitely some evidence that baseball is more volatile year to year now then it was last decade, and that teams are clustering closer to .500 now than they did last decade. Those two things make sense in a Wild Card era.”

Read the entire article here.

77 Responses

  1. RedInInd

    Reds promote Steve Baumann to head trainer position. Paul Lessard joins Dusty and the Nats.

  2. Hotto4Votto

    I like the 2nd option with Cleveland much better. I had speculated that Cleveland might a good landing place for Frazier a week or two ago. Although I suggested targeting Zimmer or Clint Frazier (both OF’ers). But the one thing the Reds do not need, and I’m sure I sound like a broken record, is more P.

    The Reds, by the time they’re ready to truly compete again, should have several options to pick through to fill out their rotation. Bailey, Stephenson, Iglesias, and Disco seem to be near-lock status to fill out the rotation moving forward. Garrett will be out of options by the start of 2018 season, and will need to be in the rotation (hopefully) or at least in the bullpen. Then you have the ready arms in Moscot and Lamb, near ready arms in Finnegan, Lorenzen, and Reed (all should spend most of 2016 in AAA or MLB). Even if most of those guys slot into the bullpen, you’re likely sorting out between Reed and Garrett for the rotation. And then Travieso, Romano, Mella etc will be coming up right behind. In fact, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to have a few of those guys ready to go by 2017.

    So, no more P to head line deals. If the Reds want to grab some supplementary pieces to make deals work, like Low-A or RK level pitchers with big upside, then by all means, continue to keep the pipeline flowing. But at this point in time, the Reds may need to ship out SP, not bring more in.

    • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

      While I agree with you that position players should be targeted ahead of pitchers one has to wonder if in the right deal, a clear cut top of the rotation type prospect were available, the Reds would be wise to go after him. They are stacked with pitching but are any of these guys definitely going to be Frontline starters? Sure Stephenson has the potential to be an ace but he’s still got a lot of question marks. I understand teams would be more unwilling to trade someone that is a sure thing but who knows. Just a thought.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I would agree, Stephenson for sure, but I also believe Iglesias has the potential to be a strong #2, and I think that’s a reachable goal for Garrett as well although he may be more of a 2/3 type. There aren’t many true aces out there. Certainly not 30 of them. So if the Reds stock up on #1/#2 types (Bailey, Stephenson, Iglesias, Garrett) and fill out the back end with #3 types Travieso, Reed to go with Disco then I think you’d find yourself in an enviable spot.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Even though the Reds should focus on getting hitting in return, I’d trade Frazier straight up for Danny Salazar. Salazar is 25 and has 5 years of team control left. He has a huge strikeout rate – 12th best in MLB. Ahead of Matt Harvey, Cole Hamels, David Price, Zack Greinke. Salazar’s walk rate is better than average. If Cleveland would throw in Yandy Diaz (young, 3B, good glove, great walk-rate) all the better.

      • WVRedlegs

        Yes, that second package brought for by the Bleacher Report was much more palatable. Salazar and a couple of hitters of the type the Reds sorely need.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I agree the Salazar package is a good one. I certainly wouldn’t turn that down. But it also includes two position players (in spots of need) that have demonstrated good on base skills. That’s the selling point. Without those two, I don’t think I’d trade Frazier for Salazar straight up. But that’s just me, and mainly because I believe all of Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, and Travieso are the real deals, and we already have 3 MLB starting caliber pitchers on board for the next several years.

      • jdx19

        My thought exactly. I’d take Salazar straight up (as would most baseball-minded folks). Because of that reason, I don’t think there’s any way Cleveland gives up Salazar for Frazier.

      • jdx19

        Another interesting thought about the potential Frazier-for-Salazar deal… Todd is projected at 3.2 WAR for next year by Steamer, while Salazar is projected at 3.4 WAR.

      • Scot Lykins

        I would be happy with that also.

      • CI3J

        That second package sounds way too good to be true.

        My response while reading each piece of the package went like this: Cincinnati Gets: 3B Yandy Diaz (Ok, a short term 3B to hold down the fort), OF Tyler Naquin (gets on base, some speed, no power, could be useful) and RHP Danny Salazar (DANNY SALAZAR? WHAT??? WHE… WH… DANNY SALAZAR???? REALLY?? DO IT NOW!).

        Seriously, Salazar has the making of a future ace, he strikes out a ton of people, can hit the high 90’s, and has plus pitches across the board. He just struggles with control (like many young pitchers do) and is something that I think he can eventually figure out. He’s already had success at the MLB level even with his control issues.

        If the Reds could land Salazar for Frazier, plus those additional pieces, this is one situation where I’d be ok with trading a position player for more pitching.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Salazar could pitch for the Reds for 5 years. That’s a major acquisition. They can always turn around and trade other pitching away if it really turns into a surplus situation. I seriously doubt Cleveland would offer Salazar for Frazier, but it’s fun to think about.

      • RedsFaninPitt

        I think Cleveland is a good fit for Frazier given their need for a 3rd baseman. If a pitcher is the main trade piece coming back to the Reds, I would attempt to flip a pitcher like Salazar or Carrasco (who has also been mentioned in possible trades) to another team looking for pitching in order to find the position players you really want – Texas (obtain Lewis Brinson/Josh Morgan); Boston (obtain Rafael Devers/Andrew Benintendi); Houston (obtain Alex Bregman/JD Davis)

        Good pitching is rather abundant but not all teams have MLB ready pitching. Take advantage of that when you get to obtain what you really need – outstanding position player prospects. My goodness look at redminorleagues.com’s top 25 prospects, over half are pitchers. The Reds need outstanding, young prospects who can become MLB ready over the next 1-2 seasons. Naquin and Diaz would be good fillers for the next year or two and future utility players, but their absolute ceiling is not more than average everyday players. Most of the prospects noted above are potential stars.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I guess for me, (and this is more of a response to the general “flip pitching for hitting later”) I’d like to see where that’s being done. It could be happening and I’m just oblivious to it, I don’t follow other teams movements a whole lot. And yes, for established pitching, some teams will trade hitting prospects. And maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t really recall anyone trading pitching prospects for hitting prospects, at least not recently.

        We had a bunch of pitching prospects last year. We flipped Ben Lively (a top 10 Reds guy) for Marlon Byrd. Who we then flipped later in the year for AA reliever Stephen Johnson. But that’s not the kind of deals the Reds should be making now (and probably not last year either).

        We traded two established, very good, pitchers at the deadline and returned 4 pitchers and one hitter. The one hitter was the 25th ranked prospect in a bottom-half farm system. He was basically a throw in and even on a rebuilding roster may not make his way to Cincinnati out of ST.

        If we receive a top, highly touted prospect back for each of Chapman and Frazier, to go with supplementary pieces, and if even one is a hitting prospect that would leave us with 5 good prospects (added to Winker, YRod, Blandino, Ervin) to hope we can fill the shoes of our departing players. But with only 1B, C, and SS solidified moving forward (yes I’m counting Suarez as having solidified the SS position for the future) then that leaves 5 spots to fill. We’d have to hit on all of them.

        Currently with our SP we have three spots locked down for 2016 (or most of it) between Bailey, Disco, and Iglesias. We have Stephenson, Garrett, Travieso, Lamb, Lorenzen, Finnegan, Reed, Moscot, Mella, and Romano vying to fill those last two spots by 2018. Even if we move a lot of them to the bullpen, that’s 10 guys for two spots. I like those odds better than 5 guys for 5 spots.

        I want to believe! I want to trade some of our rising pitching prospects for young, controllable hitting. I just don’t see where it’s being done, and honestly don’t have a ton of faith that our FO isn’t still operating like it’s the ‘road era where you lived by the mantra “you can never have enough pitching”.

  3. WVRedlegs

    Uh oh. In the Look What the Cat Dragged In department, that Cleveland package with LHP Rob Kaminsky is a bit dubious. Kaminsky was drafted in the 1st round by the Cardinals and was traded to Cleveland last July in the Brandon Moss trade. That aside, Kaminsky was a very good college pitcher and he is ML ready now.

  4. jdx19

    As nice as it would be to have Votto win another MVP because maybe voters don’t like Harper’s attitude, I don’t think Votto can beat Goldschmidt straight up. Goldy won the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove… he and Votto have identical fWAR (7.4). And, perhaps most important to some voters, Goldy had over 100 RBI.

    It’s nice to be considered, though, for sure!

    • WVRedlegs

      I think you are right about that. It was great to have Votto back though. Top 3 is nice. That awful May he had didn’t do him any favors.
      Just imagine if he can carry over his 2nd half of 2015 for all of 2016. And if the Reds can get a couple of hitters this winter that can get on base more and put in front of him. He’ll get a 2nd MVP.

      • jdx19

        Boy, wouldn’t that be something to see?

        While my fan-side would love to say that’s possible, but his .452 2nd half BABIP sort of suggests it would be very unlikely to sustain that level of production for an entire year. Basically, he’d need to hit more homers as the singles and doubles found gloves.

      • Shchi Cossack

        I may be wrong, but I don’t believe HR count for BAbip.

      • jdx19

        You are correct. To increase his production while his BABIP drops to normal levels, he’d need to hit more homers to even it out. “It” being “total production.”

        That’s what I was implying by my comment.

      • VaRedsFan

        That would mean the Reds would (in most cases) have to be in playoff contention. Either that, or improve on his 2015 numbers.

    • Matt WI

      You know what Votto should have done? Get a Hall of Fame broadcaster to stump for him. I know just the guy 😉

  5. Steve Mancuso

    The exhibition game on April 2 in Indy is now sold out. It’s the quickest an event has sold out at Victory Field since it opened in 1996. Less than 24 hours.

  6. WVRedlegs

    Wow. The Reds and Bronson Arroyo are talking about BA returning to Cincinnati. That might be good to see. Much better than Marquis!

    • DHud

      I really hope his price tag will be low enough for the Reds to sign him. If we’re going to get an innings eater, would love to see Arroyo back

    • jdx19

      I think the most likely outcome for BA at this point would be just about as bad as Marquis. I wouldn’t mind seeing him on the squad, but not for any significant money.

    • Shchi Cossack

      With BA coming off an extended layoff after TJ surgery and at the end of his career, thie would be a minimum major league deal loaded with incentives. BA want’s to return to Cincinnati, The Reds have a need and BA fits that need. The difference between Marquis and BA is proven talent. If his arm is now healthy (and the reports indicate it is), then Ba has time to get the arm in pitching shape prior to spring training and hopefully the fastball velocity is sufficient to be BA effective. I’m stocked at the prospect of seeing BA wearing the wishbone C again and possibly finishing his career in GABP. BA has already received a payday for his 2016 season, courtesy of the Dodgers.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I’ve been saying I think this is a good idea for a while now. With so many young pitchers Arroyo is a perfect fit. He usually throws a ton of innins (though coming off of injury now) and he knows how to pitch without the benefit of top notch stuff as well as anyone in the game.

      Plus he’s obviously a great guy to have in the clubhouse if you want a high character/leadership guy. He was one of the few bright spots in the 2000s, and a key part to the Reds success. For a Reds team that is likely to be pretty bad, I would love to see Bronson’s last go-round be a bright spot in 2016.

      • reaganspad

        BA is a great guy to have even if he doesn’t throw again. Just having him around camp would be worth the minor league contract. He shows a few of our young guys how to throw a curve or a change up, how to pitch from a teammates side, he would be a great fit.

        If he pitched at all for the Reds, bonus points…

      • DHud

        I wonder if he’d ever be interested in a future as a pitching coach?

      • Carl Sayre

        He is a pitcher, he never had the “stuff” to get by with throwing. The games he could pich the Reds to a win would just be icing on the cake. His outlook and approach to pitching to share that with all the youth the Reds have that would be his real value.

  7. DHud

    Obviously the individuals who proposed those trades don’t know the Reds organization. As mentioned earlier, the Reds don’t really have a necessity to add pitching.

    But what I find more egregious is the notion of the Cincinatti Reds adding young, controllable position players who hit for average and have good plate discipline! That’s not Reds baseball!

    • ohiojimw

      Never fear, if any of them can throw 90+MPH they will be converted to pitching regardless 🙂

  8. WVRedlegs

    The Mets are considering Frazier for their 2B opening. Now things could get very interesting in regards to Frazier. Would other teams with 2B needs do the same? It certainly would expand Frazier’s market some, increase the interest and maybe increase the return.

    • CI3J

      That’s a wildcard in trades: Do other teams value and envision your pieces the same way you do? If other teams want to get creative with your pieces, that can lead to trades developing where it seemed unlikely before.

      I’ve a feeling there is another piece the Reds could trade away that other teams may envision in a different role….. (Not naming names, but has something to do with zombie horses…)

    • RedsFaninPitt

      Can’t ever see Frazier playing 2B. What I hear is that the Mets have pretty much settled on Dilson Herrera at 2B for next year.

      • CI3J

        I’m also hearing the Mets are considering flipping Wright to 1st and trading Duda for pitching.

        So basically, it sounds like a lot of conjecture.

  9. CI3J

    Rumor has it the Red Sox are not sold on Panda at 3B. Even after the Kimbrel trade, they still have a pretty stacked farm system. If they plan to go for it in 2016, Frazier might make sense for them.

    Or, how about this: Just because they got Kimbrel, does that necessarily mean they aren’t interested in Chapman? Imagine being able to mix and match those two at the back of your bullpen as setup/closer. That would essentially shorten games down to 7 innings.

    A package of Frazier and Chapman to the Red Sox would be…. Well, that would be something.

    Just a thought.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      Frazier/Chapman to Houston and Votto to Boston (with some major cash or in exchange for Ramirez contract) or Votto (with major cash, of course)/Chapman to Houston and Frazier to Boston would be my dream trades that would garner the Reds a huge haul back with some elite position prospects (Reed, Bregman, Tucker) or (Devers, Benintendi, Travis).

      • reaganspad

        I just do not get this, ever:

        “Votto (with major cash, of course)”

        I get that you might trade MVP Joey Votto in some 6 player overwhelming package. But to pay people to take Joey Votto’s contract?

        I am not a fan of any money kicking for Bruce or BP either.

        If you traded all three of those guys, and kicked in money for their contracts, you would now have a big purse to go sign free agents, right?

        except Free Agents do not choose to play in Cincy

        Sorry, I am not for the fire sale.

        Trade Chapman and we have plenty of cash for 2016

      • RedsFaninPitt

        No, I am saying the Reds would have to provide some substantial cash for another team to take on Joey’s eternal contract that goes until 2024 when he is 40 years old. Unless a team trades a bad contract in exchange for Joey or the Reds provide some cash over the course of this eternal contract, the Reds are not as likely to receive elite prospects in return. The length and the amount of money involved in his contract scares nearly all suitors away except for the richest teams even though he is one of the greatest hitters in the game now. I say cash in on your top assets now (i.e.Votto/Frazier/Chapman/Phillips) – even if you have to add $20-30 mil. in the Votto deal over the course of a couple of years – since he will not likely be as good of a player in 2018 when you are likely ready to compete again (and your still stuck with $157 mil owed to Votto). Clean the table of all expensive contracts when the player’s value is maximized and rebuild your team (which is now for Votto) with trades for elite prospects.

        In combination with the likely great drafts that the Reds will have in 2016 and 2017 and likely 2018, this will be quickest and surest way to rebuild and give you the most financial flexibility in 2018 and beyond to sign large contract free agents. 2016-2017 will be pretty bad, but in my opinion – NO PAIN/NO GAIN. It’s time to take our medicine so that in 2 years we’re totally healthy with a new young and exciting team ready to compete – similar to the Cubs and Astros – but much quicker actually. I think the Reds could easily look like the Cubs and/or Astros now (except for maybe even better young pitching) by 2018 if they took this approach.

        I would hold onto Bruce to see if he can reestablish his value by the trade deadline. I would hold onto Bailey to see if he can reestablish his value by this time next offseason, and then see if you can find a taker on him as well in exchange for quality prospects, of course.

      • reaganspad

        Joey going to another team and winning an MVP while the Reds are paying part of his salary will be the worst thing since the Frank Robinson trade.

        He wins another couple of MVP’s in Cincy and then maybe I will let the Angels or the Yankees or the Redsox trade for him.

        Until then, enjoy him for a few years

      • DHud

        RedsFaninPitt, I don’t think your premise of selling high is necessarily wrong, but I think my point of contention is the idea that Votto won’t be able to contribute to the next good Reds team.

        Obviously I’m taking the (very?) bullish point of view, but I just feel Votto is the type of elite player who will still be valuable in 2018.

        My opinion is trade the person who isn’t producing (Bruce) and keep the one who is producing (Votto).

  10. ArtWayne

    Trade Frazier for pitching? That’s stupid. He provided a big part of our offense last year. With Votto, Suarez, Mesoraco, Frazier, and Phillips The Reds have only three positions to develop or trade in order to get to .500. One thing about having a funky ball-park you don’t need a lot of defense in the outfield. Surely there’s a ML team who will take a chance on Hamilton for a first line pitcher.

    • Jeremy Conley

      Hamilton is playing at his floor right now, and there’s no way any team with a sane GM is giving up a “first line” pitcher for a guy that is barely hitting at all, even if his defense makes him a league average player.

      This would be the worst possible time to trade Hamilton.

      • ohiojimw

        I don’t think there will ever be a good time to trade Hamilton as a principal in a trade. He either gets included in a deal at some point as a sweetener or eventually is nontendered or allowed to walk when he becomes FA eligible.

      • jdx19

        Probably the only good time to trade Billy would be if he had a stellar first half, which for him would probably be something like a .340 OBP, 40 SB, and GG defense. That would probably have him accumulating something like 3 WAR in the first half, which, for what he makes, would be a very, very attractive piece for a playoff contender.

        Now, I don’t think that’ll happen, but it’s nice to dream!!

        (If he did that well, I’d be an advocate of keeping him, most likely!)

    • CP

      Yeah, teams are lining up to trade frontline pitchers for Billy Hamilton.

    • Chuck Schick

      A first line pitcher for a lead off hitter who doesn’t get on base. Why not Jay Bruce for Mike Trout as well.

  11. Jeremy Conley

    The funny thing about the two proposed Frazier trades is that the first one has one player I’m barely interested in that’s in High A, and the second one has three players I would be interested in, two at AAA and one in MLB.

    Frazier to Cleveland is fine with me, but those two trades couldn’t be much further apart in terms of interest. I’d do the second in a heart-beat, and the first barely starts the conversation.

    • UglyStrike

      I agree with you completely. I believe Frazier’s actual value is right in the middle of these 2 trades.

  12. UglyStrike

    Was looking around the rumors tonight and it seems that both the Mets and Boston have interest. They could both make really interesting offers with what they have available.

    Really interested in a possible Lucas Duda and Zach Wheeler for Frazier and a couple of good pitching prospects trade. Duda came up as a left and right outfielder and just made the move to 1st base last year I believe.

    • ohiojimw

      I’m thinking I read somewhere yesterday that even if them Metz move Wright to 1B, they are inclined to hold on to Duda. But then there is a price at which just about anyone can be had.

  13. UglyStrike

    Duda is team controlled through 2017 and Wheeler through 2019. I would bet you could get Duda for 4 years @ 15M per year.

  14. jessecuster44

    Good grief, just what we need to do: trade for more pitching. We have plenty of pitching, and while getting Salazar would be terrific, the second half of both 2014 and 2015 showed that the Reds’ offense is flat out terrible without complementary pieces for Votto.

    Acquire MLB ready hitters – SOON – please. If you try to flip pitching for hitting later, maybe all the hitters will be gone – you know, kind of like last year.

    • RedAlert

      I’m on board with you – GET SOME STICKS !!!!!

    • Michael E

      I get the angst over wanting a stud-loaded lineup, but if you can get an Ace caliber pitcher (like a Salazar) you never turn that down.

      No matter what position we think we’re in with pitching prospects, injuries happen, some fail, some become relievers and you’re left with just two or three instead of five good starters. You can never have too much good pitching… NEVER.

      The quickest way to contention is via 3 or 4 very good starting pitchers. You can have 3 above average starting pitchers and you’re near lock for the playoffs. You get 3 above average hitters and you’re no lock for anything, unless you have at least average pitching.

      • jessecuster44

        yes yes yes, but the Reds need to score more than 3 runs per game to win anything. The offense is awful. You need hitters too. Where is the offense going to come from? Jesse Winker isn’t swooping in anytime soon to save the Reds.

      • Michael E

        The pitching was awful too, in fact both ranked 26th overall and that was WITH Cueto (no longer here) and Chapman (likely gone). So safe to say our offense is better off than our pitching at this point (barely), but both are well below average. The good news is we have lots of pitching prospects and should be able to cobble together an above average pitching staff in two years.

        I would like to add a couple of promising bats, but I suspect that is where FA will help whereas we look internally for pitching the next two years.

      • jessecuster44

        … has FA helped with the bats in the past? Need to trade for bats.

  15. redslam

    Just to clarify something that seems to be proliferated as gospel re: “hitting scarcity”. It isn’t that hitting is scarce, it is that the normal curve of hitting and the normal curve of pitching have SHIFTED. A good pitcher now is better than a good pitcher 5=10 years ago… and a good hitter now is worse than a good hitter 5-10 years ago.

    So unless the distribution curves are drastically altered (which then requires a different type of mathematical analysis), this is really about simple curve optimization (which requires supreme clarity around the projected curves – pray to god our analytics dept is good). It requires a new understanding of what is “better than average” hitting-wise and pitching-wise – and it requires a bit of soothsaying re: whether this trend will continue, abate, or reverse perhaps.

    Anyway, the point is scarcity isn’t the issue EXCEPT for the fact that the Reds seem to have massive, massive gulf in hitter quality after Votto, Bruce, Frazier, Suarez, Phillips, Meso (that is 6)…. we really need one of the other guys to step up (Hamilton or Mozart for example) or need to acquire 1 or 2 ready players… or wait for Winker or someone to be ready. Or we need to have dominant pitching (see the Cardinals this year). The Cardinals scored exactly SEVEN more runs than us this year over 162 games. That is pretty much within the error bars stuff. But they finished with 36 more wins.

    Obviously trading away Frazier and/or Bruce or Phillips makes this a tad worse, but I am not sure our offense would suffer too much with Mozart and Suarez vs. Suarez and Phillips. And Bruce – well… we could do better perhaps going a different direction. Frazier would be a short term big hole offensively.

    We need to recalibrate what is good hitting and pitching and act accordingly. It wasn’t like the Cards were whacking the ball around the field – they based almost all of their success last year on supreme pitching. The fact that we traded away our best pitcher and are about to trade away our second best pitcher (albeit mismanaged horribly) and we are relying on a bunch of young arms should scream at us WE AREN’T GOING TO HAVE DOMINANT PITCHING next year and getting one or two more bats isn’t going to suddenly make us an 85+ win team next year.

    Trading bats for arms right now MIGHT not be optimal for many reasons, but I don’t think we need to get carried away with the notion of scarcity. If one or two of these guys turns into an ace, we have another crown jewel to flip for top hitting prospects.. and we can always package a few promising arms for promising bats later too… buy low and sell high… right now buying bats is buying high.

    • jdx19

      I think I agree with the premise of you post, which I think is “value is value.” Doesn’t really matter if the value comes from hitting or pitching. What does matter is how much you pay, either directly (money, roster spots, prospects) or indirectly (opportunity cost, wasted years, etc).

    • Michael E

      This is what I have been commenting all year long. I think I pissed Steve off along the way. Hitting and pitching are always equally easy/hard to get. The averages shift, but peoples mindsets don’t, so they THINK a good hitter is scarce and a good pitcher is a dime a dozen.

      I agree and you can find well over a dozen posts the past 5 months explaining the same thing you just did…keep doing it and together we’ll finally get it through to those adamantly aligned with “good hitting is hard to find”

      • Steve Mancuso

        Why would I be mad? You’ve made this point a thousand times. It’s demonstrably illogical and I and others have explained that many times. The fact that you repeat it every few days doesn’t make it right. People are tired of making the obvious points again and again why it’s wrong. You don’t even show an understanding of what the other side is saying.

    • Michael E

      The plus to good pitching is that its the quicker way to contending. You may need 5 good hitters to get the same results as just 3 good starting pitchers.

      I have readily admitted that the Reds do seem to have trouble finding good hitting, but good hitting isn’t scarce at all. Other teams are still having trouble finding good pitching. All in all, it’s typically an equal wash and it just depends on the current state of ones own team.

      Were we the Rockies the past 20 years, I seriously doubt we’d be talking aobut hitting scarcity and I also doubt we’d bad mouth getting “another darn pitcher” as the key part of a trade.

      I myself would love to have a top 5 ERA for the next decade. A top 5 runs scored would make games more exciting, but a top 5 ERA ensures we’re annual contenders.

  16. Shchi Cossack

    Cincinnati Reds selected the contract of Sal Romano from Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
    Cincinnati Reds selected the contract of Robert Stephenson from Louisville Bats.
    Cincinnati Reds selected the contract of Stephen Johnson from Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

    The 40-man roster now stands at 37, 19 pitchers and 18 position players.

  17. redslam

    Hey Steve,

    I didn’t mean to stir up an old argument (of which I am unfamiliar honestly), but I am still genuinely confused about the “scarcity” comments surrounding hitting. I read every post by the writers here and generally find it all clear and concise and intelligent and entertaining, so kudos first of all. But it makes me all the more motivated to get to the bottom of what I am sure is my misunderstanding of what you are saying on the topic.

    So allow me to reflect back what I think is the core issue re: scarcity and my thoughts and views on it and see if I am making sense and then hopefully you can shed light on my misunderstanding.

    So first of all, scarcity is a “population concept” – in other words, it is making reference to a diminished supply in an overall population (i.e., hitters are in short supply). Ok, on its face it is wrong because of course there aren’t fewer hitters, there are simply fewer “good” hitters. So I will assume what we are talking about is the scarcity of “good hitters.”

    Here is where I get snafu’d in my own pedantry around statistics and distributions. IF we assume that in the last 10 years hitters have gotten worse (and therefor by definition pitchers have gotten better) – and this seems like a very reasonable assumption given the data that everyone has repeatedly cited (and looking at it highly simplistically, the R/G by year seems to bear out a measurable decline going back to the mid 90’s to today). And average OPS in the 2000’s is certainly considerably higher than 2010-2015 (eyeball says about .03 to .04 difference).

    Ok, so we have established that hitting has gotten relatively worse to pitching in the last 5-15 years (and perhaps has leveled off to a new “norm” depending on how you mathematically interpret the curves (inexact given the paucity of data yet)).

    So far all that is telling me is that the CURVE for hitting (using OPS as the proxy for the moment) has shifted to lower numbers and the CURVE for pitching (using whatever favorite single stat you like) has shifted and improved overall. But the curves of distribution (i.e., shape) haven’t NECESSARILY changed.

    Generally speaking, unless the curve shapes are drastically odd (and most large population samples like this tend to fall into normal or semi-normal distributions), this has absolutely NOTHING to do with scarcity (i.e.., supply). It simply means we need to recalibrate our own definitions of what is average, etc. In statistical terms, the MEAN has moved and the standard deviations around those means may or may not have moved.

    Where scarcity CAN become the major issue of relevance is when the curve is shaped with a dramatic fall-off at some point (perhaps this is what you are saying?). IN other words, let’s take an example of 2 theoretical populations of hitters. One has a mean OPS of .700 and a normal distribution curve around this with a SD of say .100.

    The other theoretical population has the same MEAN and the same SD (albeit derived far differently), but has a cliff on it – in other words, once you hit some arbitrary value, there is a big gap in numbers performance-wise. In this situation, there is some possible urgency (and value acceleration) to get players who are above that cliff. It is analogous to Fantasy Football and the Tight End position where you have a few players who make a big difference and then a large cliff in quality/productivity. Even here though, the issue isn’t really about scarcity, it is about the fact that there is an odd quality/value distribution to consider.

    One other simple example to try to illustrate the basic point… if I can lift say 250 pounds and that is in the 99th percentile (i.e., better than 99% of the population)… next year everyone is doing steroids (except me) and now my lifting 250 pounds is only in the 50th percentile (i.e., better than 50% of the population)… one wouldn’t say that “good lifters are now more abundant” – one would say instead, the population has gotten stronger and the entire distribution curve has shifted, with a new mean (and perhaps new SD, etc). The issue isn’t basically about QUANTITY, it is about understanding QUALITY (and therefor value) intelligently.

    Look forward to hearing back. Sorry for the long post.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I don’t really have time right now to get deep into this, and am about to leave internet for the rest of they day.

      Distribution among hitters isn’t the right way to think about it. Obviously, there will always be good hitters and bad hitters relative to each other. The issue is supply and demand between markets. Teams have fixed budgets to pursue labor to win baseball games. Labor specialties include hitting, pitching and defense.

      There is a labor market for good hitters that results in an equilibrium wage. Like with any labor market (say, those who can hit 30 home runs), when the supply goes down, the price for that talent goes up. To put it simply, a player who hits 30 home runs in 2016 is worth a lot more (and will be paid more in adjusted dollars) than a player who hit 30 home runs in 2000.

      Hypothetical: Suppose over the course of a single off-season, the NFL convinced 50 percent of baseball’s hitters to play professional football. By your theory, there wouldn’t be greater scarcity in the hitting market because there would be a normal distribution for the remaining hitters. That’s self-evidently false. The NFL defections would place a huge premium on owning the remaining hitters who, for example, could hit 30 home runs. Free agents who can hit 30 home runs would get paid more after the NFL defections than before. That’s because of scarcity. The supply of good hitters has declined so the equilibrium price has increased.

      The people who insist there’s no change in relative scarcity are comparing hitters to each other. The issue is comparing hitters to pitchers. The entire premise of “pitching wins championships” is that pitching was scarce, relative to hitting, so teams hoarded pitching when they could – and paid more for it.

      Back to reality: The influx of pitchers who can throw 95+ mph has shifted the balance between hitting and pitching overall. Run scoring is down (lots of factors, but velocity is one). That means the hitters who can still hit well, because they can hit 95+ mph fastballs, are rarer and therefore worth more. Simple supply and demand. Supply of 30-HR hitters declines, wages rise.

  18. redslam

    Completely understand re: supply and demand and that hitters who hit 30 home runs (for example) are rarer… but that is not different than saying the curve has shifted, making said 30 home run player more expensive but also making that 15 home run hitter who we used to think of as “light hitting” as someone worth looking at (i.e., his relative value goes up as well). It doesn’t mean the population is more scarce (maybe you are just referring to the micro-population?). Maybe it is just semantics, but I now understand a bit better what you are saying.

    Your NFL example is just an extreme case of shifting the curve – while those 30 home run hitters are super, super rare now, the distribution of hitters makes those historically weak hitters now pretty good in relative terms. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the market for pitchers (at least not relatively, which is all that really matters since these are not interchangeable parts), but I would hazard to guess if this did happen, R/G would go way down.

    I think one other thing to keep in mind in this equation is that hitters ARE now more expensive to reflect their individual inflation… so to get the same hitter today, you need to pay more than you did yesterday (you get the point). In other words, it isn’t as easy as saying “trade pitching for hitting” because the performance curve shift is forcing the price up – in the end, it is about making good deals relative to their APPROPRIATE values, whether that is getting pitching or hitting.

    Again, the only way to “beat” this is to do a deal with another team that is less effective at this valuation calculus (or makes the choice to sacrifice for one reason or another).

    Specific to the Reds, it certainly seems like we have too few prospect position players and that is a problem as it leads to fewer tactical options in the future. From this perspective, I think it is worthy of some specific attention and maybe paying slight premium.

    Anyway, as you said, the wages/prices rise so that counterbalances the obvious goal of collecting hitters.

    Re: the statement that pitchers win championships – I have no dog in that fight… you have to score more runs than you give up – obviously two sides to that coin. I just don’t think it is a scarcity argument. Pitchers replace pitchers. Hitters replace hitters. Since you can’t replace one with the other in any practical way, you are still dealing with two DIFFERENT but connected populations and markets. I still need to fill a full lineup of position players and pitchers – now I am just picking from a lower performing group of hitters than before (or better pitchers or both, depending on how you interpret the trend).

    I’ll leave this as it is probably better suited to discussion than forum anyway – would be fun to rap about it over beers. FWIW I deal with numbers and this sort of analysis every day and have graduate level statistics background, so I am not complete neophyte to this stuff =)

  19. Shchi Cossack

    The Reds 40-man roster now stands at 38 after WJ signed 30-year-old RHP Blake Wood to a major league contract. Wood spent the entire 2015 season as the closer for the Bucos AAA farm team. 3.8 BB/9, 10.7 SO/9, 0.3 HR/9 at AAA last season. 4.5 BB/9, 7.2 SO/9, 0.8 HR/9 over 4 major league seasons.

    That doesn’t instill much confidence in a philosophy change to bullpen construction for 2016. I don’t see this as any improvement over the options currently on the roster but it certainly uses up a roster spot. Giving up BB at GABP is not a good plan of action.

    • lwblogger2

      Especially if you don’t have a stellar K-rate.

  20. Mike Bryant

    Pitching wins baseball games not offense! I’d rather see the Reds pick up more pitching! Every team that has been successful has great pitching! I content that the Cubs and not the Mets might have been in the world series, if the Cubs had better pitching!

    • Shchi Cossack

      The Cubs were 1-2 years ahead of schedule in 2015 due to their young hitters. Yes they need more pitching, but that will be covered during this off-season. It is all a balancing act. Pitching with no hitting will not win. Hitting with no pitching will not win. The Mets made the World Series because Murphy put up a 1.143 OPS in the NLDS and a 1.850 OPS in the NLCS. That’s why the post season is a crap shoot. Anyone can get blazing hot for a few games and carry a team. I don’t think anyone disputes the need for a very good pitching staff, but no team has ever won without scoring runs too.