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Todd Frazier: Cincinnati Reds’ Third Baseman Has Earned Everyday Position

On April 1, 2012, the Cincinnati Reds traded future third base prospect, Juan Francisco to the Atlanta Braves. At the time, the Reds were counting on a healthy Scott Rolen to be their everyday third baseman. Unfortunately, shoulder problems have again prevented him from contributing as planned.

Rookie Todd Frazier replaced Rolen and has played very well. Offensively, he his batting .263 with seven home runs and 22 RBI. His .541 slugging percentage is second on the club

Defensively, he has played well, committing only three errors in 37 games. Rolen, a Gold Glove third baseman, has committed three errors in 30 games.

Mark Sheldon of quoted Reds manager Dusty Baker in an article about Rolen’s return:

“‘I told him he is icing on the cake here,’ Baker said. ‘He brings great defense, clutch hitting, leadership and great base running. Let’s face it, nobody on the filed has achieved the quality he has achieved over such a long period of time. This guy knows how to win and what it takes to win.'”

While all that Baker said about Rolen is true, Frazier has out performed Rolen in every aspect of the game. I am a Scott Rolen fan and understand shoulder problems may be the cause of Rolen’s struggles, but the Reds have won with Frazier in the lineup.

In my opinion, Frazier should be the Reds everyday third baseman. As far as Rolen goes, the Reds will need him, and will count on him for a postseason run.

As Baker said, Rolen knows how to win, but he is icing on the cake.

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Cincinnati Reds: Have the Reds Given Up on SS Paul Janish?

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay, Paul Janish is currently the Reds‘ backup shortstop, for now.

In his article “Zack Cozart healthy, rarin’ to go” he wrote, “Right now, Cozart is the only shortstop with a guaranteed spot on the 25-man roster. Paul Janish is a backup for now.”

If you’ve followed Fay at all, you have probably discovered that he appears very high on Cozart and seems to have written Janish off. Thankfully for Janish, it appears as though Reds manager Dusty Baker has not given up on him.

Last winter, when the Reds signed Edgar Renteria, both Baker and Reds general manager Walt Jocketty called Janish and expressed to him that he was their shortstop.

Janishs’ struggles last season led to the Reds calling Cozart up and demoting Janish to Triple-A Louisiville.

According to Mike Bauman of, Baker spoke highly of Janish in July and said he was one of the best-liked guys on the team.

“Paul Janish was putting a lot of pressure on himself, and his confidence was waning some. He needs to go down there and, more than anything get his confidence together. He’s definitely a quality shortstop, definitely a proven shortstop, one of the best there is, I think. It’s just a matter of him getting his stroke together and his confidence together,” Baker said.

Cozart performed well in his brief stint, hitting .324 with two home runs and three RBI before an elbow injury led to season-ending surgery.

Janish was called back up after Cozart went down and performed much better, hitting .321 over a 13-game stretch in September.

The shortstop position does appear to be Cozart’s to lose, but according to Mark Sheldon of Baker has not yet made that declaration.

“There’s a good chance he (Cozart) is the guy,” Baker said. “You reserve that little bit to see how his health is and how his arm comes out.”

Sheldon also noted that Cozart had a minor surgical procedure to clean out his right ankle in September and was cleared last week to resume full baseball activity.

So, it appears as though the Reds have not given up on Janish just yet.

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Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects: How Do They Rate

Jonathan Mayo ranks Reds’ 2007 number one draft pick, catcher Devin Mesoraco, their No. 1 prospect.

Joining Mesoraco on the top ten list are, in order of ranking: 1B/OF Yonder Alonso, 2B/SS Billy Hamilton, OF Yorman Rodriguez, C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Brad Boxberger, SS Zack Cozart, 3B/OF Todd Frazier, 3B Juan Francisco and LHP Donnie Joseph.

According to the list, starting pitching appears to be a weakness. Mayo list only two pitchers in the top 10, both of whom are relievers. However, there are a few starters, such as Tony Cingrani and Josh Smith who likely could crack the top 10 soon.

Cingrani, a 6′ 4″ LHP out of Rice University, went 3-2 with a 1.75 ERA and 0.80 WHIP while striking out 80 batters in 51 and 1/3 innings with the Billings Mustangs.

Smith, a 6′ 2″ RHP out of Lipscomb University, struck-out 166 batters in 142 and 1/3 innings, while posting a 14-7 record with a 2.97 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with the Dayton Dragons.

Several of the Reds top ten prospects have some major league experience and below is an outlook on their future.


Devin Mesoraco

Mesoraco was called up in September and played in 18 games for the Reds, batting .226 with two homeruns and six RBI in 50 at bats.

The scouting report on Mesoraco is he can hit for power and average. Has a plus arm, allowing him to shut down the running game. He currently is listed third on the depth chart, but rumor has it Ramon Hernandez will not be returning.

Yonder Alonso

After Johny Gomes was dealt in July, Alonso was called up to play left field. This likely will be his position for the next few years as Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he is not planning on moving Joey Votto.

This season with the Reds, Alonso was very productive, batting .330 with a .545 slugging percentage in 88 at bats. He is likely to play some first base next season, but look for most of his playing time to be in the outfield, for now.


Billy Hamilton

Mayo thinks Hamilton might be the fastest guy in the minors. Could be, he stole 103 bases this year in Dayton. Mayo also says he has plate discipline way beyond his years. That might be wishful thinking. I have not seen it and his 133 strikeouts vs. 52 walks indicates he may not be as disciplined as Mayo would like to think.

Hamilton projects to be a good lead-off hitter but must work on his swing and become a better bunter to take full advantage of his speed. The Reds may move him to the outfield. His arm and speed suit him well for the outfield and defensively he is weak in the infield.

The Reds will not be afraid to move him quickly.

“He’s a kid we cannot, and will not, be afraid to push. He has to much ability,” said Reds vice president of scouting, player development and international operations Bill Bavasi.

Yorman Rodriguez

According to Mayo, Rodriguez has all the tools you could ask for, and he’s figuring out how to use them. Mayo believes he can be the prototypical five-tool right fielder.

This season (2011) Rodriguez hit .254 with seven home runs and 40 RBI in 280 at bats at Dayton. He also had 20 stolen bases.

His estimated time of arrival is 2014 and he appears to be on pace.


Yasmani Grandal

The scouting report for Grandal reads as such: A natural leader behind the plate, he’s a slightly better defender than Mesoraco all-around but not as good a hitter. He does have pretty good pop, thought.

Grandal enjoyed a very successful 2011 season and advanced from A-ball to AAA. Most of his time was spent between A & AA, where he batted. 306 with 14 homeruns, 68 RBI and a .500 slugging percentage.

Grandal is estimated to arrive in the big leagues in 2013. Look for him to become the everyday catcher in 2014 or ’15.


Brad Boxberger

Boxberger is the Reds top rated pitching prospect and seems to have adjusted to coming out of the pen. He has a power arm with the arsenal of a starter.

His estimated time of arrival is 2012 and based on his 2011 season, it appears he is ready. He posted 11 saves with a 2.03 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 93 strikeouts in 62 innings of work between AA Carolina and AAA Louisville

Even though he is not listed on the current 40 man roster, look for him to leave camp with the Reds next spring.


Zack Cozart

Reds fans liked what they saw of Cozart in 2011 and the short-stop position appeared to be his until an elbow injury cut his season short. The injury required Tommy John surgery, leaving the door slightly open for Paul Janish.

Look for Cozart to be the Reds regular shortstop by 2013, if not sooner.


Todd Frazier

Even though Todd is listed as the Reds No. 8 prospect, he really isn’t seen as anything more than a utility type player with the Reds. Mayo labels him a super-utility guy.

He has some pop in his bat and runs the bases well. It’s possible he has a brighter future in the AL as a DH.

Juan Francisco

Francisco made the Reds 25-man roster out of spring training but was later sent down to AAA. He is listed as the No. 1 third baseman on the Reds depth chart and looks to be the 2012 everyday third baseman. The Reds like his power and he should bode well at GABP.


Donnie Joseph

Mayo labels Joseph as a future set-up man, but if he does not gain better command (30 BB in 58 and 1/3 innings) he could be a long way from his 2012 estimated arrival.

Don’t look for him to be with the Reds anytime soon.

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Cincinnati Reds Have Unbalanced Depth

The trade deadline has come and gone without the Cincinnati Reds making a significant move. That is what Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty expected.  “I don’t expect anything to happen, not with us,” he said a few days prior to the deadline.

Jocketty and the Reds see no glaring weaknesses and are comfortable with the team. They are leading the National League in hitting and their 3.15 ERA since June 17 is the second-best in Major League Baseball.

While it is true that the Reds have no glaring weaknesses, their depth is out of balance. The outfield and rotation are overloaded, while the pen and infield are somewhat short.

The outfield is blessed with six players who appear capable of playing everyday. One of the six, Chris Dickerson, a 2009 Reds everyday outfielder before injuring his ankle, finds himself stuck at Triple-A. As a matter of fact, the outfield is so deep, that despite 11 years of MLB service and a .317 average with Triple-A Louisville, Gary Matthews, Jr. was not called up and opted out of his Triple-A contract.

The rotation has seen nine different starters, five who have a 4.01 ERA or higher. Four of the nine are rookies and are a combined 9-9 with a 3.62 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Edinson Volquez, Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey are currently in different stages of working their way back from injury and are a combined 9-10 with a 5.30 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. 

Catching is decent with Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan.

The infield backups consist of Miguel Cairo and Paul Janish. Janish is an adequate middle infielder but Cairo is an inadequate corner infield replacement.

The bullpen has improved and the addition of Russ Springer and possibly Jason Isringhausen will help. However, they still only have two lefties, Arthur Rhodes and Bill Bray. Rhodes has been lights out, but Bray is scary. Look for Aroldis Chapman to get a call up soon.

If this club is going to be a real contender, four key players must stay healthy: first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Brandon Phillips, third baseman Scott Rolen and the best arm in the bullpen, Arthur Rhodes.

Go Reds!

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Walt Jocketty Attempting To Strengthen The Reds Pen For a Playoff Run

The Cincinnati Reds are currently tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for first in the National League Central division and it appears they will stay with team that got them here.

The Reds biggest needed is in the bullpen and their General Manager Walt Jocketty has addressed that need. Well, sort of. He signed Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen, sending them to Triple-A Louisville.

Isringhausen has made two appearances giving up two runs and two hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. One of the two hits was a homer!

Springer has pitched much better. He has appeared in six games allowing one hit, one walk and struck out five in 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

In addition to adding Isringhausen and Springer, left-hander Aroldis Chapman has been moved to the pen in Triple-A Louisville. He has pitched 11 games in relief for Louisville and is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA, recording 23 strikeouts and eight walks in his 14 innings of work.

Reds Manager Dusty Baker wants him to be more consistent before bringing him up. “I’ve been monitoring him some, he’s been dong pretty good. Still, he’s a little bit erratic. Naturally, we want him to be more consistent and do better. That’s why he is there.” Baker said.

It appears this may be the Reds only action before the tradeline. “It’s quiet. I don’t expect anything to happen, not with us. A lot of times it doesn’t start to escalate until the last few days. Maybe when we get back home, it might change.” Jocketty said.

Jocketty has been involved in some conversation with other GMs and had this comment.

“The sense I get from other clubs is two factors: People don’t want to give up their young prospects, and clubs don’t want to take on additional payroll. That makes it hard to make a deal. Again, that may change closer to the deadline.”


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MLB’s Ban On Pete Rose Is Hurting Baseball

Within the last 20 years, hundreds of articles have been written about Pete Rose’s ban from baseball, so I will spare you what has all ready been said. Instead, I’d like to touch more on the effects of his punishment as opposed to the actions that warranted it.

The court of public opinion maintains that the time has come to reinstate him—and I agree, as far as the Hall of Fame goes.

Banning Rose from baseball not only penalizes the man himself, it hurts the sport and denies fans the opportunity to see one of the game’s greatest heroes.

On Wednesday, July 21, the Cincinnati Reds played host to Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals at Great American Ball Park. While most fans were there to see Strasburg, they received a memorable moment with an appearance from the all-time hit king.

What a thrill for the fans, especially the younger ones, to attend a ball game and see one of the greatest players in Major League history.

Rose is undoubtedly a national hero and the sport of baseball can only benefit from lifting the ban.

As the great Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman said in 2003 when interviewed by NPR, “This is the most forgiving country on earth.” “I think he paid his dues and should be allowed to be reinstated so far as the Hall of Fame is concerned.”

Mr. Selig, let’s puts this issue to rest and do the right thing. Reinstate Pete Rose!

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The Chicago Cubs Need Carlos Zambrano

On Friday, June 25 the Chicago Cubs suspended Carlos Zambrano after he went on a tirade following a four run outburst by the Chicago White Sox. I believed then, as I do now, that the Cubs made a much bigger deal over this than they should have.

Zambrano has a history of emotional outburst and needs to learn to control himself. However, the Cubs need him, and they should have seen this coming.

Zambrano was once one of the best pitchers in the national league. It can be argued that from 2004 to 2008, he was one of the best. He won more games in that five year span than any of the Cy Young winners and had one of the best winning percentages.

The comparison below shows that, during this five year span, Zambrano was an elite pitcher.

Player       Wins Losses Win% ERA

Zambrano    78    40    .661   3.45

Webb         77     53    .592   3.30

Peavy         68    44     .607  2.97

Carpenter    51    20     .718  3.11

Clemens      44    24     .647  2.68

Lincecum     40    17     .702  3.18


Many inside baseball believe Zambrano can be a 20 game winner. This past winter Cubs Manager Lou Piniella said, “I don’t want to put any pressure on him, but this is a young man who should approach 20 wins every year with his stuff.”

In January, at the Cubs Convention Piniella said, “Carlos was a little heavy last year, there is no question. He’s another player we had a nice conversation with toward the end of the year. We said, ‘Look, we need for you to step up and give us 200-plus innings. We need for you to win 18-20 ballgames, the way you’re fully capable of. But to do that, you have to get yourself in better shape, where we don’t have to worry about pitch counts with you.'”

I believe Zambrano can still be a valuable member of the the Cubs’ rotation. He did his part and came into this season in probably the best shape of his career. Now, Piniella needs to let him go do his thing without adding the additional pressure of mind games.


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Is Ross Ohlendorf the “Ace” of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rotation?

The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Ross Ohlendorf in the fourth round of the 2004 MLB draft. The scouting report on him at that time was:

Body Type: Strong as an Ox, thick muscular build.

Delivery: Low 3/4 arm. slow easy high leg kick with good hip rotation. Loose for his size.

Pitches: 89-92 mph fastball with occasional hard sink and bore. Can reach for extra and does it easy.

Small tilt to occasional tight slider.

Deceptive change with sink.

Command: Has improved.

Additional Notes: Same velocity from stretch, good athlete, Bulldog.

Ohlendorf made his major league debut with the New York Yankees on September 11, 2007 and appeared in six games for the Yankees, going 0-0 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.

In 2008 he struggled in 30 appearances with both the Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates, going 1-4 with a 6.46 ERA and a 1.87 WHIP.

Last season he appeared to establish himself as a major league pitcher going 11-10 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.

The latest scouting report on him is:

Body Type: Big strong body, workhorse

Delivery: Long 3/4 arm action. Has smoothed out his delivery some, but still pitches over a stiff front leg

Pitches: Heavy 90-94 mph fastball with good sink; works both sides.

Still developing a hard curveball with an in-between break.

Also developing a change-up with sinking movement. Will throw it back-to-back when he has a good feel for it.

This season Ohlendorf has pitched well. His 1-7 record does not reflect how well. With the exception of a three game stretch in June, he is 1-3 3.12 ERA. Even so, he is 1-7 and leads the rotation with a 4.22 ERA.


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Is Cincinnati Reds’ Brandon Phillips the NL’s Best Second Baseman?

Entering the 2010 season, the top second baseman in the National League included: Chase Utley (Philadelphia), Dan Uggla (Florida), and Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati).

At the mid-way point of the season, Phillips is making a case to be considered the best. Martin Prado is emerging as a superstar in Atlanta, but does not have all the tools Phillips has.

The chart below clearly shows Phillips is the most complete second sacker in the league.

Player             Avg.  HR  RBI  Steals    Fielding%   errors

Phillips           .302    12   30       10        .995          2

Prado             .332    10   39        4        .990          4

Uggla             .285    16   51        2        .978          9

Utley              .277    11   37        5        .973         10

I am sure all general managers would be content with any of these four, but I believe many would prefer Phillips.


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Carlos Zambrano Headed To Philly?

In January 2010 Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that two American League officials said the Cubs were “definitely dangling” Carlos Zambrano, while conceding he would not waive his no-trade clause. At that time Cubs general manager Jim Hendry declined to discuss the report.

Recent events (Friday’s dugout incident) may have the Cubs “dangling” Zambrano, and it is likely that he would now waive that no-trade clause.

Zabrano’s salary is nearly $19 million per year and runs through 2012. This, along with the Cubs (manager Lou Piniella and Hendry) labeling him a head case, will make moving him a challenge.

To make matters worse, the Cubs most definitely will need to take on a serious chunk of his salary for whoever takes him.

Zambrano, a career .237 hitter with 20 home runs, is best suited for a National League team.

The question is, who in the National League needs Zambrano and can afford his salary, even with a portion taken out?

I believe Philadelphia is the answer.

Derrek Lee’s contract will expire at the end of this season and I don’t see him returning to the Cubs. Therefore, the Cubs need to search for a replacement. The Phillies have a prospect (Matt Razzotti) who could possibly fill that role.

Razzotti, a 2007 sixth-round draft choice, played college ball at Manhattan, where he hit .367 for his career. Currently, he is in Double-A with Reading of the East Coast League and is hitting .378 with 10 home runs, 35 RBI and .682 slugging percentage in 42 games.

If Hendry could pull this off with out sending to much money Philadelphia’s way, I would be all for it.

Sure, Razzotti is a sleeper, but if it worked out the Cubs would release themselves from Zambrano and would grab a worthy candidate to replace Lee.


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