Tag: Cincinnati

MLB Home Run Derby 2015: Results and Round-by-Round Recap

The turbulent skies above Great American Ball Park cleared just long enough to allow Major League Baseball’s 2015 Home Run Derby to proceed as scheduled, albeit with some slight modifications:

Though the storm had momentarily stopped, the thunder and lightning continued in the park as the league’s eight chosen hitters combined to set a new Derby record, more than doubling last year’s output, per ESPN Stats & Info:

It was a night filled with record-breaking and history-making performances, while the sold-out crowd became just the second to ever witness a hometown slugger—Reds third baseman Todd Frazier—capture the crown:

Here’s a complete list of the results before we get into a brief round-by-round recap:

First Round

(3) Josh Donaldson defeats (6) Anthony Rizzo, 9-8

Rizzo had the unfortunate distinction of being the test dummy for the night. The Cubs first baseman was the first player to try his hand at the newly installed Home Run Derby format, and he came away with the lowest single-round total (eight) of the night.

Donaldson was able to take a more strategic approach, getting off to a fast start with some mammoth blasts, including a 465-foot shot for his fifth of the round. 

The Toronto All-Star tied Rizzo’s total with just over 1:30 left in the round, but didn’t hit his ninth for over another minute. 

(2) Todd Frazier defeats (7) Prince Fielder, 14-13

This was when the fun really began. Fielder came out and started hulking shots deep around the park. His gargantuan frame and powerful swing had him nearly falling out of the batter’s box on each attempt, but a high bar had been set for the hometown kid to surpass.

Frazier was living life on the edge all night, but his first-round work prepared him for the exhausting battles ahead. 

Fourteen seemed like too tall a task, especially when Frazier took his timeout with 2:37 left in the round with just five total home runs. But the break rejuvenated him, and the home crowd seemed to energize the 29-year-old.

Frazier hit 13 shots in regulation, blasting his last just as time expired. He then wasted no needless energy in the bonus round, smashing a 455-foot round-winner on his first swing. 

(4) Joc Pederson defeats (5) Manny Machado, 13-12

Machado got off to a solid start with five home runs in the first two minutes, though none of them were exactly awe-inspiring. But then the Orioles third baseman found his groove, hitting two blasts over 461-feet, including a 469-foot bomb for his final regulation home run.

Machado made the most of his bonus time, smacking two dingers on his first two swings to finish with 12.

Unfortunately for Machado, his opponent was Joc Pederson, who put on an absolutely mind-boggling performance throughout the evening. 

Pederson didn’t even need a full three minutes to surpass Machado, and his 487-foot shot into space might have actually caught up with NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto for a brief moment. 

The 23-year-old put the entire field on notice with his first-round masterpiece. 

(1) Albert Pujols defeats (8) Kris Bryant, 10-9

It was a poor showing for both Chicago Cubs players involved in the Home Run Derby, as neither were able to outshine their first-round opponent. 

Bryant was able to find some small grooves, but he was never able to maintain a long stretch of strong swings. 

Pujols, 12 years Bryant’s elder, never pressed throughout the round, taking his time and stepping away to maintain his composure and stamina.

The three-time MVP calmly stepped back into the box as time ran out and jacked the first buzzer-beater home run in MLB history.

It wouldn’t be the last.  



(2) Frazier defeats (3) Donaldson, 10-9

Donaldson appeared to lose a lot of steam following his opening performance. He blasted a home run on his first swing of the round, but he could only hit seven more in regulation before smacking one off the foul pole during bonus time.

With just nine home runs up on the board and Frazier walking to the plate, the Cincinnati fans hit a fervor louder than the massive thunderstorms that had blanketed the region just hours ago.

The New Jersey native had become the favorite son of Cinci as he grinded his way to nine home runs with just under 10 seconds left.

His final shot came just as time expired, with the ball crossing the fence as the clock hit zero.

Pujols’ buzzer-beater was exciting, but in front of thousands of Reds fans, Frazier’s was legendary.

(4) Pederson defeats (1) Pujols, 12-11

Pederson appeared to be losing energy after his tremendous first-round performance. The rookie ended regulation with just nine home runs, seemingly not enough to defeat a slugger of Pujols’ caliber.

Luckily for Pederson, he earned 30 seconds of bonus time, which he used as well as anyone on this night. With just four swings, Joc jettisoned three balls into the bleachers, bringing his total up to 12.

Pujols appeared to be in a good position to pass or tie his young foe, but it appeared he had some issues with condensation on his batting gloves. Most of his hits during the final minute barely approached the deep outfield.

His first swing of the bonus round was a bomb, bringing his total to 11. But Pujols was gassed after that and simply couldn’t will another ball out of the yard.

Pujols gracefully bowed out, while Joc continued to jam on into the finals.


(2) Frazier defeats (4) Pederson, 15-14

What. A. Finale.

At one point, Pederson had hit six consecutive home runs, drawing a mixture of ominous silence and fleeting boos from the Reds-heavy crowd. 

With 14 home runs on the board next to Pederson‘s name, hope looked lost.

But Frazier opened strong, cranking four home runs out in the first minute of his round as the crowd feverishly chanted his name.

Frazier had just six home runs with under two minutes to go, but he once again found his energy and fed off the crowd en route to a Joc-tying 14 home runs.

His first swing of the bonus round left the confines of the park in a hurry, as Frazier turned to embrace Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. He then found his WWE title belt and saluted the boisterous crowd. 

The thunder and lightning and heavy rain would return later, but Frazier had weathered the in-game storm to become this year’s 2015 Home Run Derby champion, and in the process became a Cincinnati baseball folk hero. 

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MLB All-Star Game 2015: Latest News and Notes for Midsummer Classic

The 86th annual All-Star game will take place at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The festivities, though, got started off with a few bangs on Monday night with baseball’s Home Run Derby.  

Todd Frazier seemed all too comfortable in his home park as he did something he’d done 15 times before in 2015: hit a ball into the red-shirted screaming fans beyond the outfield wall.

The only difference? This dinger would win this year’s All-Star Home Run Derby and propel the Reds‘ third baseman into a hometown hero. 

Frazier homered in the waning seconds of the four-minute championship round to tie Pederson. He promptly won it just one pitch into his 30-second bonus round (for hitting two homers greater than 425 feet)-giving him 15 home runs in the final round. 

In a sport famous for not using a clock, it was timed rounds that made the annual competition more a dramatic spectacle than in years past. 

Frazier, who has 25 homers on the season, benefited from an energetic home crowd to capture the Derby crown over Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson and kick off the All-Star festivities in an exciting way.

After the competition, he mentioned how much of an effect the Cincinnati crowd had on his 39-home run performance, via ESPN’s Jayson Stark

“Big-time impact. Just hearing the crowd roar, call my name, adrenaline. And those last minutes of each round, [they] really picked me up and [helped] drive the ball out of the park a lot more.”


The new format proved vital to the 29-year-old, who credited the pressure and clock via Steve Gardner of USA TODAY Sports:

“You swing at everything once you’re down, no matter how much time you’ve got,” Frazier said. “When you get the opportunity, you just have to hit it out no matter where the ball’s pitched. I felt like a little kid out there in the backyard swinging at everything.”

Check out Frazier’s walk-off blast: 

He became just the second player ever to win a Home Run Derby in his home stadium, via ESPN Stats & Information

Frazier takes his Derby win into Tuesday’s All-Star Game where he starts at third base and bats second for the National League. Its his second appearance in the Midsummer Classic and first as a starter.


Rain Delay?

Unfortunately, the weather forecast does not look too promising for Tuesday night. Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service:  

Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 66. Northwest wind 7 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

There was concern that rain would affect Monday’s Derby, but the sky stayed clear and no postponement or delay (besides modified timing rules to quicken the pace) was necessary. 

Tonight, though, may be a different story. 

Ultimately, it’ll come down to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision. 


Arms Race

Dodgers’ ace Zack Greinke starts on the mound for the NL with the Houston Astros‘ Dallas Keuchel opposing him for the American League

Greinke’s league-leading 1.39 ERA should prove a tough test for AL hitters. The former Cy Young-winner takes a 35.2-inning scoreless streak over his last five starts into the game. 

Greinke was named the NL’s starter after Washington Nationals‘ right-hander Max Scherzer pitched on Sunday. 

Keuchel has been no slouch himself, though, while going relatively unknown. In a league-high 137.1 innings, he has a 2.23 ERA and hasn’t allowed an earned run in seven of his 19 starts on the season. 


Youth Movement

After injury replacements and the Final Vote winners were announced, a record 20 All-Stars are 25 years old or younger, according to ESPN Stats & Info

Nats outfielder Bryce Harper, at age 22, is the youngest. He’ll appear in his third All-Star game-just the 10th player to do so before the age of 23. 

Harper will start in the outfield and hit third for the NL-a reward for his MVP-worthy first half which saw him hit .339 with a league-leading 1.168 OPS and already career-highs in home runs (26) and RBI (61). 

Harper along with five other players 25-years-old or younger will start in the Mid-Summer Classic-Pederson and Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the NL and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez in the AL. 


There’s a First Time for Everything

ESPN Stats & Info also pointed out something that’s never occurred before in an All-Star Game. 

That’s right. No Yankees or Red Sox in tonight’s starting lineups. 

Three Yankees were selected to the roster: reliever Dellin Betances, outfielder Brett Gardner and first baseman Mark Teixeira. 

Brock Holt is the lone Boston player to be chosen. 

The biggest Yankee omission might be Alex Rodriguez, who was beat out by fellow designated hitters Nelson Cruz and Prince Fielder in the AL. 

A-Rod, who turns 40 later this month, is hitting .278 with 18 home runs and 51 RBI as the three-hole hitter for the first-place Yankees. 


Home Field on the Line

As with every All-Star Game, home-field advantage is granted in the World Series for the winning league. 

Although the NL leads the all-time series 43-40-2, the AL has come out ahead as of late. The league has won the last two Midsummer Classics and 14 of the last 18. 

Coverage of baseball’s 86th All-Star Game at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park begins at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday on FOX. 

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5 Players the Cincinnati Reds Should Consider Dealing at the Deadline

The current record of the Cincinnati Reds is less indicative of the team’s overall potential and more about the cavalcade of injuries sustained thus far. When writers and fans alike suggest the Reds may not have to “blow it up,” it’s hard not to agree. And anyone who’s followed the Reds on Bleacher Report may recall just how optimistic I was about a healthy Cincinnati team this season.

But akin to last year, the Reds have lost vital contributors and now sit five games beneath .500 and 12.5 back of first in the NL Central. You could say they’re just 5.5 back from the wild card, but only if you mention the seven teams sitting in front of them.

A late-season run is far from impossible, but fact of the matter is, it’s time to plan ahead instead of trying to make something out of, well, very little.

Unless offseason acquisitions like Jason Marquis and Kevin Gregg are to become the norm—staple moves of the cash-strapped—the Reds must make moves to not only restock the farm at the Triple-A level, but give themselves the financial flexibility they need to sculpt a new contender.

With that in mind, the following is a list of five players the Reds should consider moving at the deadline.


1. Johnny Cueto

The obvious and best trading chip the Reds have, scouts have been in attendance during Johnny Cueto‘s last few starts, according to Zack Pearson of Detroit.SunTimes.com.

The idea that the Reds would get very little for their ace is far-fetched. And even though he won’t command what David Price did (Price had a year-and-a-half of control left compared to just half a year), he could still fetch one, maybe two, highly regarded prospects—at least more than a compensatory pick.


2. Aroldis Chapman

There’s no need for an expensive, high-profile closer for a team entering rebuild. Aroldis Chapman’s exhausted the opportunity to start; he is what he is. And he’s not what the Reds need now. Some contender that’s actually entering ninth innings with leads can benefit from his services.

Chapman’s not bringing in what Craig Kimbrel did, because, again, Kimbrel was moved to the San Diego Padres, playing on a contract good for another three years. But Chapman can still command one or two of an organization’s top 10 prospects. Not to mention, the Reds won’t need to worry about paying a closer $8-10 million.


3. Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce has been on a tear. Now slashing .232/.339/.427 with 10 home runs, he’s looking more like the 30-home run, 100-RBI guy they extended years back. That means he’s likely to fetch a good return for the Reds.

Trading Bruce relieves the Reds of over $25 million still left on his contract, which goes until the end of 2017 unless the Reds buy it out for $1 million. Because of that, and because of the caliber of prospect he can bring in (at least a team’s top-10 prospect), he should be moved before the deadline.


4. Brandon Phillips

Easier said than done. With over 10 years in MLB and over five with the same team, Phillips has full 10-and-5 rights, meaning he would have to agree to any suitor the Reds find. But Phillips is a competitor, and it’s hard to imagine him not wanting to go where a team is focused on winning a World Series instead of competing for .500.

Moving Phillips frees the Reds of about $27 million. Like Bruce, he’s signed until the end of 2017, but he’s already 33 years old. And if you’re thinking that’s precisely why he’s not tradable, I’m thinking that .295/.333/.697 with Gold Glove-caliber defense is highly desirable in today’s market.

With the exception of the Boston Red Sox, the entire AL East could benefit from bringing Phillips on, and each would have the cash to do it, too.


5. Todd Frazier 

Todd Frazier’s rapidly becoming the fan favorite and is consequently a lightning rod for trade talk. Even the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Paul Daugherty is growing attached to the slugging third baseman, recently writing in his morning blog: “Those of youse who want to Blow It Up…can you at least give Todd Frazier five minutes notice, so he can leave the building before it implodes?”

Keeping Frazier is ideal for obvious reasons. He’s a vocal leader, he has moxie, he shows that fire that everyone loves to talk about now and then, and he’s really good at baseball.

But consider this: Will the Reds’ rebuild be finished by 2017?

If not, why would it make sense to keep him instead of moving him while his value may never be higher? At the end of his contract, Frazier will be 32 years old. Considering what he’s doing, at the very least, he’s looking at Jay Bruce money.

Rebuilding properly—like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, etc.—is more about shedding payroll, adding big-time prospects and creating a climate of financial flexibility. Unless you think the Reds will contend next year or in 2017—and without an ace, that’s highly unlikely—why keep him?

Right now, the Reds have two of MLB’s top 100 prospects. Both are in Double-A, and both are performing like guys who will be here soon—maybe in two seasons.

If the Reds were to trade the five aforementioned players, imagine the climate they’ll enter. The future of the rotation already looks bright, and with the right moves and healthy spending power, the Reds can build Cincinnati’s next contender.

But you already saw it last offseason—without the payroll, Walt Jocketty is relegated to bargain-bin diving. If fans want better than journeyman vets on the clearance rack, the Reds must reposition themselves financially by parting ways with pricey talent.


Stats and contracts courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Follow @GroteT for more on trading your favorite players.

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Cincinnati Reds: B/R’s Top-15 Breakdown, Post-2015 Draft

The Cincinnati Reds are down to just three Opening Day starters in the lineup, and at five under .500 and 11.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, it’s time for the Reds to look ahead.

Optimists could cite the 5.5 games the Reds are from the last wild-card spot, so long as they also name the seven teams that would have to be jumped just to get there.

If the Reds start their rebuild sooner rather than later, this already-impressive list of 15 prospects could be exponentially better, perhaps even the best farm in all of baseball. The list is comprised by me alone, using data and performance to arrange accordingly. Baseball America’s “2015 Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects” article was used as a foundation.

15. Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B

This eighth-round draft pick flies under the radar like a drone. But he’s demonstrating potential in the minor leagues. He’s slashing .263/.376/.346, an OBP that would get a firm handshake from Joey Votto. 

But his career numbers in four minor league seasons are what got him on this list. .288/.376/.436 is good enough to let sit beneath a warm lamp for a few more seasons and look in on occasionally.

I still think Todd Frazier could be moved this season, and if he goes, the maturation of Mejias-Brean becomes a lot more important.


14. Kyle Waldrop 

In now his sixth minor league season and second in Double-A Pensacola, this outfielding first baseman is proving to be a useful asset in the organization. He’s hit at every level he’s played and is now slashing .284/.320/.451 in Double-A.

He has six home runs and 31 RBI. This 12th-round draft pick from 2010 could end the year in Triple-A playing this well. The Reds’ cupboard doesn’t include many big-hitting prospects right now, so Waldrop’s development becomes more notable as he continues to climb.

13. Antonio Santillan 

The Reds’ second-round pick of this year’s draft tops out at 98 mph. The 6’5″, 240-pound right-hander was the MVP of the Connie Mack World Series, per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Sheldon wrote:

Santillan is a power pitcher with scouting reports showing him throwing his fastball from 93-95 mph with the ability to reach 98 mph. He also has a strong 12-to-6 curveball that comes to hitters in the mid-80s.

However, Santillan is far from a finished product and will need some work. He also lacks a changeup, but the organization will develop him as a starter.

With the young nucleus of Reds starting pitching talent, they could definitely afford to take a pitcher like this. The upside seems enormous with proper instruction. 

Aristides Aquino, OF 

The 21-year-old right-hander wasn’t hitting that well in Single-A Dayton, but he only played 16 games this season before breaking his wrist.  He’s slashing .226/.288/.321 in 53 at-bats. This right fielder is years away from ever contributing, and with Jesse Winker and Jay Bruce in front of him, he’s not likely to be in the picture any time soon.


11. Phil Ervin, OF

The 2013 first-round draft pick has gone largely unnoticed, like time during an episode of Game of Thrones. He didn’t make Baseball America’s Reds prospect list, just two seasons after being drafted in the first round.

He’s having a decent year in High-A, slashing .258/.336/.429 with nine home runs and 35 RBI. He’s just 22 years old, so he’s got time to make his way through the ranks and back into prospect notoriety. It’d be nice to see him end the year in Double-A Pensacola. 


10. Yorman Rodriguez, OF

The right-handed 22 year old “is a “five-tool player” according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. He’s slashing .273/.309/.431 with five home runs and 22 RBI in Triple-A Louisville.

You might recall seeing Rodriguez with the Reds last year as a September call-up. He hit .222 in only 27 at-bats, which is nothing worth analyzing. Manager Bryan Price told Fay:

I don’t know that Yorman is quite to the same place developmentally because he hasn’t played any Triple-A yet. But this is a great opportunity for him to give us an idea of what he offers at this point in time in his development. He does provide us with a guy that we’re all organizationally excited about being an impact player in the near future.

9. Nick Howard, RHP

Nick Howard had a stretch of starts in late April and early May that ended with him returning to the bullpen. He gave up 10 earned runs in 8.2 innings over three starts and never made it out of the fourth. Since then, he’s been back in the bullpen and doing alright.

He’s 3-2 with a 6.67 ERA and a brutal 2.09 WHIP. FanGraphs.com expects Howard to arrive in the majors by 2017, but the capacity remains unknown. It doesn’t appear to be a starting role anymore, but considering the Reds’ bullpen, that might work out.


8. Nick Travieso, RHP

The Reds’ 2012 first-round draft pick is doing well as a starter for the High-A Daytona Tortugas.  He’s 3-5 with a 3.02 ERA in a little over 60 innings of work. His 55 strikeouts in 62.2 innings is good, and his 1.32 WHIP is more a reflection of the 65 hits in that span instead of 17 walks.

Travieso will hopefully make it to Double-A this year, though at age 21, there should be no rush.  

7. Amir Garrett, LHP

The 6’5″ former St. John’s University basketball player is still having a good year with the High-A Daytona Tortugas. In 12 starts, he’s 2-5 with a healthy 3.20 ERA. In 59 innings pitched, he has 66 strikeouts and 24 walks.

6. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP

Anthony DeSclafani has been so vital to the Reds this year, despite how bad the campaign is going. Without him and his 5-4 record and 3.53 ERA, things would be a lot worse.

“Disco,” as he’s referred to, is a vital part of the young nucleus of starting pitching that the Reds will depend upon when the rebuild finally gets started and Johnny Cueto leaves for greener pastures. But at over 71 innings pitched, you wonder how long the Reds will let the young right-hander throw this year before shutting him down. He’s never thrown more than 129 innings.


5. Tyler Stephenson, C

This year’s first-round draft pick was widely considered the best overall catcher in this year’s class. With Devin Mesoraco a few painful squats away from playing left field, it’s a wise choice. The young right-hander hit .425 in 65 at-bats with eight home runs and 25 RBI for his Atlanta high school.

His position on this list is high, but having nothing more than high school numbers to assess makes it difficult, so we’re going on hype. If he’s as good as scouts think he is, the Reds have added an enormous piece to the farm.


4. Michael Lorenzen, RHP

Almost as impressive as rookie teammate DeSclafani has been the kid who was pitching in Double-A just last year. Michael Lorenzen is still experiencing growing pains, but in large, he’s been stellar. He’s now 1-2 with a 4.01 ERA but is still showing great promise.

At Great American Ball Park, a hitter’s Valhalla, batters are hitting just .215 against Lorenzen. If not for the five home runs at Small Park, his home 4.10 ERA would be a lot more impressive.


3. Jesse Winker, OF

Winker is finally catching fire at Double-A Pensacola. He’s slashing .250/.356/.365 with three home runs and 16 RBI. While not jumping off this page, it’s a lot better than he was doing at the end of April and early May.

Winker’s development is pivotal to this organization. Ranked as MLB’s No. 22 prospect overall in the top-100 prospects list, he looks to be the heir to right field if and when the Reds move Jay Bruce.

It’s probably a stretch to see him in Triple-A by the end of this year. A wrist injury derailed his progress for a bit, but he looks to be back on track.

2. Raisel Iglesias, RHP

Raisel Iglesias is currently on the disabled list. He’s sitting on a 1-1 record and a 5.11 ERA, but that’s in just four starts. And he’s only allowed more than three runs once, in his last start against the Washington Nationals. He still had eight strikeouts that game in 5.2 innings of work.

Along with DeSclafani and Lorenzen, Iglesias is a vital part of the Reds’ plans post-rebuild.


1. Robert Stephenson, RHP

Don’t look now, but here comes the Reds’ No. 1 prospect with aggression. He’s now 3-5 with a 3.67 ERA and 71 strikeouts in just over 61 innings of work. That’s ace-like strikeout stuff, and he’s not ranked in MLB’s top 100 prospects for nothing.

At No. 20, the baseball world expects big things from this right-hander. He’s been struggling since getting to Double-A three years ago, but he’s hit a stride. Stephenson’s only allowed four runs in his last four starts. He’s struck out 36 batters in that time.

Can Stephenson be the hood ornament on the Reds’ future starting rotation? It’s looking more positive down on the Reds farm. And depending on what the Reds can secure in return for all the talent they have to move, don’t be surprised if they end the year with one of baseball’s best farm systems.


Stats courtesy of BaseballAmerica.com unless noted otherwise and are current as of June 12. Minor league game stats are from FanGraphs.com.

@GroteT for more.

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Re-Evaluating the Cincinnati Reds’ Top Draft Picks from the Past Decade

It’s what’s on the agenda when a team is eight games under .500 and 11.5 games out of first before June. Because a Reds rebuild seems all but certain with ace Johnny Cueto playing in the final year of his contract, it’s time to assess what’s worked and what’s in store.

What has Walt Jocketty assembled in the last seven seasons, and what did previous general manager Wayne Krivsky leave him with? The following is a list of the Reds’ first-round draft picks from the past decade:


2005: Jay Bruce, OF

Has time snuck up on you too? Jay Bruce was drafted 12th overall that year and was widely considered the future. He was called up to replace Corey Patterson in the early part of 2008 after hitting above .300 across three minor league levels in 2007.

Did he go on to become the Reds’ future? The term’s subjective—after all, it was Bruce’s looping swing that ended the playoff drought and brought the Reds back for the first time in a decade. It’s hard to argue that he became the face of this franchise—Joey Votto or Johnny Cueto may have thoughts on that matter—but there’s no denying he’s contributed in a big way.

His rookie season, he finished No. 5 overall in Rookie of the Year voting, he’s a three-time All-Star with two Silver Slugger awards, and he finished No. 10 in MVP voting two years straight (’12-’13).

He’s a career .250/.323/.486 but has 571 RBI and 189 home runs. In now his eighth year, Bruce has only hit fewer than 20 home runs once—last year, a year that featured arthroscopic knee surgery.

Despite a lengthy slump, there is no denying how prolific Bruce has been to a playoff roster. This was a successful pick by Krivsky. Considering his contract and the Reds’ oncoming fire sale, it’s likely we’ll see the end of the Bruce era here. He’s likely to fetch a good return, especially if his recent hot streak continues.


2006: Drew Stubbs, OF

Believe it or not, Stubbs was the eighth overall pick that year. He ended up debuting with the Reds in 2009 as the Reds were assembling their new product post-Griffey-Dunn Era, ripe with high draft picks.

In a lot of ways, Stubbs contributed—his defense in center was good, and averaging nearly 30 stolen bases and over 12 home runs a season was good. But power aside, Stubbs was not a good hitter. His OBP was never higher than .329; .255 was the highest average he’d have in four years—all of which are very forgettable, especially for a top-10 overall draft pick.

But Walt Jocketty turned Drew Stubbs into Shin-Soo Choo, a pivotal piece of the Reds’ 2013 playoff campaign. And for that, Stubbs proved even more useful.


2007: Devin Mesoraco C, Todd Frazier 3B, Kyle Lotzkar RHP

Can we universally agree the first two names from 2007 are successes? Both made the All-Star Game in 2014, and Frazier was a Home Run Derby for what it’s worth, the first Reds participant since Ken Griffey Jr.

But Frazier is currently No. 2 in NL home runs behind Bryce Harper. His career line in now his fourth season is .258/.328/.461, but there’s no denying the impact he’s had on the Reds offense. He’s had two good batting average years (.273 in ’12 and ’14) and two bad ones (.232 in ’11, .234 in ’13).

He’s one of the only notable acts happening at Great American Ball Park right now. Devin Mesoraco perhaps would be, but he can’t stay healthy. The young slugger has made it to the disabled list again after just 51 plate appearances.

For his career, he’s slashing an unimpressive .242/.313/.423. But Mesoraco has just two years since 2011 where he’s played in over 100 games. He was an All-Star last season, a season that featured a career-high 440 plate appearances.

Kyle Lotzkar came and went. This was a swing and miss of Jonny Gomes caliber. He never made it higher than Double-A, which is where he’s at now, within the Texas Rangers organization.

Thus ends the Krivsky portion of the re-evaluation. Time to see how Walt did.


2008: Yonder Alonso, 1B

Was Yonder Alonso a successful pick? Walt Jocketty turned him and two other first-round draft picks into Mat Latos, the key No. 2 in the rotation that earned the Reds the 2012 NL Central crown. He was also the pitcher who surrendered the deciding Buster Posey grand slam to end that season.

That was Latos’ most important pitch as a Red, but there’s no denying his three exceptional years in a Reds uniform, never finishing with an ERA above 3.48 and tossing over 200 innings twice.


2009: Mike Leake SP, Bradley Boxberger RHP

Despite Mike Leake’s recent struggles, this pick skipped the farm and went right to the pros after being drafted. He’s never been asked to be the ace, and prior to this season, he’s never had to play the role of a No. 2 guy. So his career 55-46 3.97 is a remarkable contribution.

Leake threw over 200 innings for the first time last year. He’s on pace to do it again this season. Should the Reds enter rebuild, Leake is a candidate for trade, but he’s also an extension candidate, especially if and when the Reds move Cueto and free themselves of enormous fiscal responsibility.

Bradley Boxberger was packaged with Alonso and one other to land Latos.

2010: Yasmani Grandal, C

Grandal was also moved in the package for Latos. Devin Mesoraco won the role of Reds future catcher in Cincinnati.


2011: Robert Stephenson, SP 

Baseball America‘s No. 1 Reds prospect and one of the Reds’ only two Top 100 MLB prospects (MLB.com), Stephenson has struggled mightily since reaching Double-A. In now his third Double-A season, the promising right-hander is 9-16 with a 4.87 ERA.

That’s not to say there isn’t serious potential here—there most assuredly is. In 39.1 innings pitched, Stephenson’s recorded 46 strikeouts. That’s serious. The problem is his control. He’s averaging 6.6 walks per nine innings. Command has plagued him since reaching Double-A, after he finished averaging seven walks per nine innings in 2013.


2012: Nick Travieso SP, Jesse Winker OF, Jeff Gelalich OF

Nick Travieso is developing fine as the Reds’ No. 8 prospect. He’s 2-4 with a 3.88 ERA and 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s just in High-A, so it’s unlikely we’ll see him anytime soon.

Jesse Winker is the other Top 100 MLB prospect the Reds are sitting on and the Reds’ No.3 prospect, according to Baseball America. Prior to his wrist injury last season, Winker was killing it. But since reaching Double-A last season, Winker is slashing .225/.341/.333.

That could be just due to a cold start—Winker did impress in the Arizona Fall League (hit .338). Still, there’s no reason to suggest he’s regressing or anything yet, not unless his averages remain like this for the whole season. 

Winker is considered by man to be the heir to Jay Bruce’s throne in left field. 

Jeff Gelalich is now in his fourth minor league season. He’s still hovering around High-A and is only slashing .240/.326/.332. This left-handed hitter is a working project, often displaying flashes of potential, but he lacks consistency. 

2013: Phillip Ervin OF, Michael Lorenzen SP

Ervin bats behind Gelalich for the High-A Daytona Tortugas. It’s the highest level of competition he’s seen, and thus far he is handling it fine, slashing .253/.338/.460 in 202 plate appearances. 

Ervin wasn’t listed as an organizational top prospect, but he’s coming off a poor season in Dayton, where he hit just .238.

Michael Lorenzen, the No. 4 organizational prospect, has been an incredible draft pick so far. Lorenzen was pitching in Double-A last season. He started this year in Triple-A, and following season-ending surgery for Bailey, he’s pitching in The Show and doing it well (1-1, 3.12).

2014: Nick Howard RHP, Alex Blandino SS

A closer in college, the Reds tried converting Howard to a starter, and prior to this season, it was looking like a good move. This season has been brutal for Howard, though, and following a bad stretch where he surrendered 10 earned runs in three starts and never made it out of the fourth inning, he was moved back to the bullpen.

After three scoreless appearances from the bullpen, Howard’s been roughed up. He’s sporting a 7.03 ERA and a WHIP over 2.00.

Alex Blandino, however, is performing well in the same lineup as Ervin and Gelalich. He’s slashing .319/.405/.448. Numbers like this make him an enticing heir to Zack Cozart’s throne.

Krisky’s last picks, minus Lotzkar, were all good. The jury is still out on Jocketty’s 12 picks. Three of the 12 became Latos, who ultimately became Anthony DeSclafani, so hard to knock those. Two of the 12 are currently in the Reds starting rotation. The other seven are in development, but none of them above Double-A.

Still, from a pitching stance, the pipeline seems stocked with future contributors, provided they make it.

Stats courtesy of Baseball-reference.com unless noted otherwise. Organizational rankings compliments of BaseballAmerica.com while Top-100 prospects come from MLB.com.

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The Cueto Deal Cincinnati Reds’ Walt Jocketty Should Propose at the Deadline

At this juncture, the Cincinnati Reds have no idea what they’re going to do at the deadline.

They’re 18-17, 6.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central and just a half game behind the final wild card spot. That makes it particularly challenging for the Reds’ brass to decide what to do with this roster at such a pivotal fork in the road, one where the Reds and ace Johnny Cueto probably part ways.

Buy or sell? What the Reds do from now until the deadline will determine that. If the Reds are in a position to compete, it’s hard seeing them making any moves that deliver the MLB talent they need to finish the 2015 campaign. It’s about payroll, and if there’s a scenario where the Reds actually add to it, I’m interested in hearing it.

I think it’s fair to suggest if the Reds are participating at the deadline, it’s likely as sellers rather than buyers. And with Cueto in the final year of his contract, he’s probably the hottest name on the market. The Reds have other valuable assets: Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Phillips and even Jay Bruce as a sell-low candidate. 

But if the Reds fall out of contention, there is one name that is all but certain to move. And there’s one team in particular that is looking more and more like the most suitable partner.


Reds Johnny Cueto for Boston Red Sox Brock Holt, Henry Owens and Garin Cecchini

If you frequent Bleacher Report, you might have read about this trade suggestion last week. The response was underwhelming at best, as many people quickly dismissed this trade because the Reds were giving up everything for not enough in return.

However, I believe that to be inaccurate. First, consider what’s happening in the Reds’ right field. Bruce’s mind is somewhere out there with Voyager, passing planets, stars and baseballs. He’s slashing an unprecedented .162/.272/.333. Maybe it’s just a funk, but how long is management willing to apply the scientific method with Bruce during games that count?

If their hypothesis is that he’s just slumping—and it should be, unless you can point to any other season in eight years when Bruce has done this—then who knows, maybe he’s close to breaking out of it. But what if he’s not?

Bruce’s contract runs through 2016 with a team option for 2017. Even though Jesse Winker is known, Brock Holt is performing at an MLB level right now. He’s slashing .309/.382/.441. And it’s not just a good season he’s having.

His official rookie year was last season, and all he did was slash .281/.331/.381 with 126 hits in 106 games played, including four home runs. He’s making just $531,000.

Bruce is making $12 million this year. Holt helps in so many ways, from a performance and a money stance. The Reds have to prepare a replacement for Bruce. Winker is hitting .239 in Double-A.

Henry Owens is 22 years old and a first-round draft pick from 2011. He’s not having a great season thus far in Triple-A. He’s 2-2 with a 4.06 ERA in just over 30 innings pitched. But in four complete minor league seasons, he’s 42-18 with a 3.40 ERA.

MLB.com lists Owens as the No. 20 prospect in all of baseball. He also is a lefty, a luxury the Reds haven’t enjoyed in the rotation since Travis Wood.

Like most young pitchers, he struggles with command. He walked six batters in his last minor league start against the Columbus Clippers, a minor league squad that also roughed up Michael Lorenzen.

The Red Sox have a couple players the Reds could ask for in return to cement this deal. Garin Cecchini is a name that makes sense. He plays third base and outfield, making him another candidate to replace either Bruce or Marlon Byrd, who is just a temporary solution.

In five minor league seasons, he slashed .291/.386/.423. He’s now with the Boston Red Sox, slashing .258/.351/.452. He also bats left-handed, so the Reds would replace one left-handed slugging right fielder for another.

So for Cueto, the Reds would get a MLB top-100 prospect and two other solid contributing MLB players. Most of the Red Sox top prospects are other pitchers, so the Reds could even ask for one of them instead of the hitters listed above.

Yoan Moncada, who MLB.com lists at the No. 9 prospect in baseball, also could be had for Cueto. He’s drawing hype comparable to Jorge Soler as another Cuban hitting machine. From his info on MLB.com‘s list:

Moncada sparked a bidding war among teams that landed him a $31.5 million bonus from the Red Sox. That’s the largest bonus ever given to an amateur player, eclipsing the $16.25 million (deferred over 11 years) Aroldis Chapman got from the Reds in 2010.

Factor in the matching $31.5 million penalty that Boston had to pay for exceeding its international bonus pool, and the total outlay for his services was $63 million.

So maybe the Reds would have to deal Cueto for Moncada straight up? Regardless, the Reds need a replacement for the 33-year-old Phillips, whose contract is up after 2017, the year Moncada is expected to arrive.

Considering what the Reds have to deal and what the Red Sox need (worst rotation ERA in baseball), these two teams seem like obvious partners at the deadline…if the Reds are selling.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.

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3 Trades the Cincinnati Reds Should Already Be Thinking About

Based on your general disposition, you see the Cincinnati Reds in one of the two following lights: They’re a team at or floating around .500 with baseball’s worst OBP and worst bullpen ERA, or they’re a team at .500 and tied for the remaining wild-card slot.

History suggests Reds owner Bob Castellini will see the latter. He’s a competitive soul, so long as the Reds can sniff a playoff spot, don’t expect them to sell.

Still, given both scenarios, if the Reds make any deals this year, it is likely they’ll hit the market as sellers rather than buyers. They’d rather subtract payroll than add more. So if the Reds fall out of contention, the following is a short list of trades they should be thinking about.


Johnny Cueto, SP

If the Reds are selling, consider Johnny Cueto the Apple Watch. He’s the biggest trade chip the Reds have, and he’s guaranteed to bring a sizable return for any team willing to make itself an immediate World Series contender.

Any team trading for Cueto at the deadline is probably already good enough to be in contention. Cueto would make that team good enough to win it all.

His price tag is unclear. Last year, the Tampa Bay Rays were in a similar situation with ace David Price, who was near the final year of his contract. When they finally moved Price, they received Drew Smyly, a talented MLB-ready starter (now 19-14 with a 3.23 ERA in three years), infielder Willy Adames, rated the No. 77 prospect by MLB.com this year, and infielder Nick Franklin from the Seattle Mariners, a first-round draft pick from 2009.

That’s a sizable return for the Cy Young-winning Price. Cueto doesn’t have a Cy Young, but he finished No. 2 last year in National League voting, and he’s already off to a good start in 2015.

The Boston Red Sox are a suitable match. They have the second-worst rotation in baseball and the worst rotation in the American League. They do have Henry Owens, an impressive left-hander in Triple-A. They also have a good, young left-handed batting outfielder in Brock Holt, who’s hitting .278/.388/.450 this season at the major league level.

Marlon Byrd is only a temporary solution, and 2016 is rapidly approaching for Jay Bruce, so Holt would be a natural request. They also have Deven Marrero, a 2012 first-round draft pick who is now a Triple-A shortstop hitting .291/.368/.659.


Brandon Phillips, 2B

Remember, this is only if the Reds are selling. And if they’re selling, there’s no reason to keep Brandon Phillips and his contract on the payroll. He’s having a good season by every measure, slashing .316/.343/.357, and that’s why he must be moved if the Reds are selling.

His value will never be higher.

After the Reds failed to move Phillips last year during the offseason, expect them to try again. It may not be far-fetched to see Walt Jocketty package Cueto with Phillips, though, in fairness, Phillips should be performing well enough to require a decent return—maybe a top-10 prospect, depending on how persuasive Walt can be on the phone. 

It’s not just his bat. He’s healthy, and his defense is as good as ever. Phillips has become a valuable trade chip in a short time. If he can keep his production up, especially at this rate, the Reds should have no problem flipping him.

With the New York Mets‘ David Murphy hitting .210 in 100 games, the Mets could be potential suitors. Eric Sogard has been underwhelming in Oakland, so Phillips is also an option for Billy Beane, who won’t hesitate to fill a need at the deadline. 

In all likelihood, moving Phillips would be more about payroll reduction and less about return.


Jay Bruce, OF

Jay Bruce is a sell-low candidate, but considering his contract is up in 2016, the Reds have to consider getting something for him if they want to rebuild. 

Bruce is slashing a miserable .176/.290/.396—this following his worst career year, a year in which he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. Neither his current slash line nor last year’s is remotely close to his career numbers.

If the Reds are trying to rebuild, Bruce won’t be a part of it. And he won’t bring much back—maybe a good prospect. Most people would have expected more for a talent as prized as Bruce.

Bruce is a good option to deal for on the cheap and stick in the middle of a lineup. Despite a poor slash line, he has 15 RBI, third on the team. 

How valuable is the RBI stat when measuring a player’s value? 

Bruce has been a memorable part of this team’s core for a long time, but with his contract nearly up, he makes for an easy trade candidateunfortunately in the sell-low category. 


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Early Grades for All of Cincinnati Reds’ Offseason Acquisitions

With April over and the Cincinnati Reds‘ record at 11-11, there’s a tiny sample size worthy of attention. Not that any player’s April is indicative of what to expect, but it’s interesting to see how the offseason acquisitions are contributing and if their contributions are living up to expectations.

It’s not pretty, but it’s not the whole story—not even half of it. Still, the games in April count just as much as the ones in September, and the following is a list of all of the Reds’ offseason acquisitions and how they’re doing so far.


Marlon Byrd, OF

Despite a few flashes of the raw power Walt Jocketty was expecting to add to the middle of this lineup, Marlon Byrd has largely struggled. He’s slashing .169/.188/.273 and has eight RBI, two home runs and two doubles.

Byrd’s struck out a team-high 25 times, though in fairness, he shares the lead with Jay Bruce. There isn’t another Red on the team with 20 strikeouts.

One reason for Byrd’s early struggles? He swings at nearly everything. Byrd has an O-Swing percentage of 46.6, the highest of his career. Nearly half of the pitches Byrd is swinging at are out of the strike zone. His current line is a reflection of why Joey Votto’s approach is always more desirable.

Byrd just needs to slow it down. He’s swinging at 63.9 percent of the pitches he sees—again, the highest of his career. Expect better if and when he finally slows it down, but for now, wolf.

Early Grade: D- 


Brennan Boesch, OF

It’s hard grading a guy who has just 16 at-bats on the season, but that’s life as a pinch hitter. Brennan Boesch is slashing a poor .188/.235/.250 with one double. And there’s just not a lot to assess beyond that. Sixteen at-bats is a sneeze.

Boesch has demonstrated pretty solid plate discipline, swinging at just 37.1 percent of balls outside of the strike zone. His BABIP is .273, so good things happen when Boesch puts the ball in play. It’s just too small of a sample size to digest and interpret.

However, this is the role we knew he’d have. The question is how Boesch hasn’t gotten any starts over Byrd yet. Tough luck.

Early Grade: D

Anthony DeSclafani, SP

So far, it’s been a pleasure to watch this kid work. In four starts, Anthony DeSclafani is 2-1 with a 1.04 ERA and a ridiculous 0.77 WHIP. The 25-year-old has 22 strikeouts compared to just six walks.

He’s yet to face a potent offense, or at least one that’s been potent in April. He’s faced the Chicago Cubs twice, who boast a lot of big names but are just No. 8 in National League offense. The Pittsburgh Pirates are No. 9 in the NL.

Still, he’s been instrumental in the Reds escaping April at .500. And now that Homer Bailey’s injured, DeSclafani’s role will ascend to No. 3 status. How he responds to the unexpected elevation in role and expectation will be fun to watch.

Early Grade: B+


Jason Marquis, SP


Marquis didn’t get the most enthusiasm from Reds fans upon earning a spot in the rotation, but it’s hard to deny he’s been serviceable for the Reds so far. He’s 2-1 with an inflated 5.48 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP.

With a healthy Bailey, Marquis is probably just another No. 5 guy, so when looking at his performances it’s important to cross-reference them with what he was brought here to do. 

He’s surrendered 28 hits in just over 23 innings of work but has 24 strikeouts in that time. As a No.5, most teams would take this kind of contribution. As a No.4, the expectations aren’t much higher, but with an unproven Michael Lorenzen following him, he’ll need to perform at a higher level.

Early Grade: C+

Burke Badenhop, RP

Now that we’ve gotten to the bullpen, it’s going to get ugly. At the very least, a D- lets you slip through the cracks and advance. But this bullpen—currently MLB‘s worst era at 5.86—has really hurt the Reds early.

Badenhop shares some of that blame. He’s appeared in nine games and has seven innings pitched. He boasts a raunchy 15.43 ERA, has surrendered 16 hits (in seven innings) and has only four strikeouts.

Batters love Badenhop; they’re hitting .457 off him. He’s just not getting it done.

Early Grade: F


Kevin Gregg, RP

April was a turbulent introduction to Cincinnati for Kevin Gregg, who is easily the most polarizing Red at the moment. The 36-year-old’s start has been nothing but brutal. The highlights of his April are two holds. Here are the negatives: 0-2, 9.00 ERA, eight earned runs off nine hits in eight innings and three memorable home runs.

It’s just been awful. Gregg has really struggled, despite recording nine strikeouts. That’s impressive, sure, but the damage he’s caused has been tangible.

Early Grade: F


Raisel Iglesias, SP/RP

Raisel Iglesias has been in Triple-A since his decent performance against the St. Louis Cardinals. His 5.40 ERA in five innings comes from surrendering three runs. He was one inning short of a quality start but received a no-decision for his effort in a game the Reds eventually lost.

He’s been hit around a bit in Triple-A. In 9.2 innings pitched, he’s given up 11 hits and four earned runs. But he’s started both games he’s appeared in, and it’s likely he’ll get put into a bullpen capacity for the Reds.

Early Grade: C


Advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs, while traditional stats and league rankings courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Playing Patience or Panic for Several Cincinnati Reds’ Troubling Early Starts

Most reasonable baseball fans would think an article debating panic or patience in April is a little forward, if not plain aggressive. But if it’s late enough for a pregame manager meltdown with the press, perhaps it’s late enough to wonder aloud about a few struggling players on the Cincinnati Reds.

At 8-8 and No. 3 in the National League Central, there’s no reason to panic, despite Bryan Price’s NSFW Michael Scott approach to keeping calm. The following is a brief list of players and personnel who have struggled out of the gate and a look at their likelihood of rebounding.


Marlon Byrd, OF

Marlon Byrd is currently slashing a miserable .127/.140/.200 with just seven hits in 55 at-bats. He has one home run in 15 games.

Byrd is a year closer to age 40 and coming off the most strikeouts he’s ever had in a season, so expecting a mild regression was reasonable. He’s already second in team strikeouts. 

At the moment, he’s striking out at the highest percentage he ever has in a season at the major league level: 31.5 percent. Furthermore, he’s just not making good contact. But how could he when he’s sporting the highest O-Swing rate he’s ever had in his career? At 43.2 percent, nearly half of Byrd’s swings are out of the strike zone.

The only thing working in his favor at the moment is that his lowest career batting average by month is in April. Plus, he’s had to face two of baseball’s top 10 team ERAs thus far, including the Cardinalscurrently baseball’s best pitching staff—for six games.

Verdict: Patience


Devin Mesoraco, C

Who knows? Devin Mesoraco is in uniform but hardly being used, and the local media apparently isn’t allowed to ask. One would think his .095/.208/.095 slash has more to do with this “hip impingement” than anything else, but we honestly don’t know.

Still, it seems pretty foolish sweating this kid who has no evidence on record to suggest he’s not every bit as talented as he demonstrated last year. He’s struggled early against tough pitching while possibly injured.

Verdict: Patience


Billy Hamilton, OF

Slashing .211/.297/.316 is definitely problematic at the top of the lineup. Billy Hamilton has 12 hits in 64 plate appearances and nine stolen bases, so he’s definitely helping to create runs when he gets on base, but you’d like to see him hit better. His .262 BABIP is due largely to his speed.

Most promising about Hamilton is his maturation in plate discipline. He’s walking nearly 10 percent of the time and is swinging at just 40 percent of the pitches he sees—a career low.

It also doesn’t help that Hamilton has had to face two top-10 ERAs in nine of the 14 games he’s played in. That should average out as he plays weaker pitching. His numbers aren’t where the team would like them, but the increase in plate discipline is a promising sign.

Verdict: Patience


Kevin Gregg, RP

With a home run-to-fly ball ratio of 27.3 percent, it’s just hard imagining how Kevin Gregg is being utilized in such high-leverage situations. Fifty percent of all batted balls off Gregg go in the air, a troubling sign for a pitcher throwing at Great American Ball Park.

Batters are hitting .280 against Gregg. He’s surrendered a run in all but one of his six appearances. 

His fastball velocity (90.3 mph) is virtually the same as it was last year, a season in which Gregg finished with a 10.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.

Verdict: Panic, but only because the next occupant of this list demands it.

Bryan Price, Manager

Price demonstrated earlier this week that he doesn’t handle pressure very well. A total of 77 F-bombs is a manifestation of serious demons. But it’s only Price’s second season managing an MLB team, and he’s already sounding unhinged.

The atomic presser ultimately means little to the team, but now there’s reasonable doubt regarding the skipper. Aside from an amateur composure, his logic leaves entirely too much to the imagination. It’s hard validating the utilization of Gregg in high-leverage spots, but he manages to do so unapologetically.

At this point, it’s reasonable to expect little from Gregg. If there’s a metric out there that suggests he’s just the recipient of bad luck, I’m open to it. Until then, you might as well attribute Gregg’s line to Price, because at this juncture, Price is probably more at fault for Gregg’s damage than Gregg himself.

And I don’t think it gets better with Price. It didn’t take long, but he’s looking more and more like a players’ manager, someone who makes decisions based on what’s best for a player instead of what’s best for the team.

No one faulted him for keeping Johnny Cueto in for 120-plus pitches in the 2-1 victory over the Brewers on April 22, but his rationale for doing so was rather ominous. In a postgame interview with MLB.com’s Manny Randhawa, Price offered this regarding his decision to keep Cueto in the game:

I feel in this situation that when push comes to shove, we have a guy that has pitched 240-plus innings for us. If there is anybody that earned that opportunity, it was Johnny. To me, it was more important than everything else today. It really was. I put Johnny Cueto above everything else — including our ballclub, including the playoff race, etc., because I felt like he earned it.

Making decisions based on what guys “earned” could be a slippery slope.

Price repeatedly asked The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s C. Trent Rosecrans how his reporting benefits the Reds in his verbal thrashing of the media. But the same could be asked of Price for logic like that and continually using Gregg in high-leverage scenarios.

Verdict: Panic

Stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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Top Candidates to Enjoy Breakout Seasons for Cincinnati Reds in 2015

After a promising first series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds will look to establish significant territory in the NL Central standings. Their next 19 games will feature NL Central opponents, and 22 of their next 26 games in total. 

That offers plenty opportunity for players on the roster to establish themselves quickly in what aims to be one of the more competitive divisions in baseball. There are certain players whose emergence shouldn’t be unexpected, while others may be a pleasant surprise.

The following is a short list of the top candidates to enjoy a breakout season in 2015, starting with the more predictable to surprisingly supplemental:


1. Jay Bruce 

A breakout? Maybe not quite; he did that years ago. But I like him to rebound in a big way.

Would Jay Bruce hitting better than .217 be a surprise? Consider his entire body of work. Last season featured career lows in BA, OBP, SLG, OPS+, etc, which was a shocker in a year that included mid-season knee surgery.

Now that he’s healthy, it’s probably more realistic to expect the career .251/.324/.467 hitter who had 30 or more home runs in three straight seasons prior to 2014, at least compared to the .217/.281/.373 of last season. 

He’s off to a good start in three games out of 162. But even if he weren’t, the evidence suggests, barring injury, that Jay Bruce is going to have a productive season. With the likes of Joey Votto, Todd Frazier and Marlon Byrd all hitting in front of him, he should get more than enough RBI opportunities.

He didn’t have a good spring. He only hit .178 in 45 faux baseball at-bats. But he still managed 10 RBI, because they’re just a stat of opportunity. That’s precisely what the Reds can expect him to do from his spot in the order, which is probably his best utilization. 

If he could give the Reds even .260 or so, with who’s in front of him, he can eclipse the 100 RBI mark and please the natives. 


2. Jose Rafael Diaz

Or Jumbo, as we know him. The man whose jersey number reflects the amount of pounds he’s lost. I can’t be the only person who was surprised to see him not get the call in the eighth inning on Opening Day. How hasn’t he earned this spot?

“The bullpen will be ever-evolving,” Bryan Price recently told John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer. “These guys will cut their roles based on how they performed.”

If that’s the case, then the selection of Gregg over Diaz makes even less sense, because all Diaz did was get outs last year. He allowed only 13 earned runs in 34.2 innings pitched, and struck out 37 batters. He had eight holds and just three of his 19 inherited runners scored.

Why is there a debate for set-up man? He even had a good spring, when batters hit just .154 against him in seven innings of work. 

Look for Diaz to hopefully end this indecision quickly. That will be up to him, but in terms of which players have done more recently to earn that role, Diaz is unrivaled at the moment.


3. Brennan Boesch

Should anything happen to Bruce, Billy Hamilton or Byrd, the Reds, in my opinion, are well equipped to address the void. Furthermore, should either one of the three significantly underperform, they could have competition. 

It may sound like an exaggeration, but grabbing Brennan Boesch was a very calculating move by Walt Jocketty. Yes, he had a ridiculous spring training. He slashed .361/.359/.607 in 61 at-bats, while also leading the team in home runs at four and RBI at 14. While impressive, it’s just spring training.

But consider his most recent professional body of work. Yes, it was Triple-A, but he slashed .332/.381/.636 in 407 plate appearances. 

Boesch was released from the Detroit Tigers because of battling thumb and oblique injuries. But he showed real potential. Take it from his own website, BrennanBoesch.com, whose bio reads:

Boesch won the American League Rookie of the Month Award the first two full months he was in the major leagues. He was the starting right fielder for three years with the Detroit Tigers during their dominance of the AL Central, and then with the New York Yankees in 2013 until being sidelined by a shoulder injury.

Cincinnati is a fanbase that can attest to how crippling injuries can be. But the stars may have aligned for the Reds to grab a very talented player at a bargain price. 

When Boesch was called back up to the Los Angeles Angels in August after being demoted in April and then getting another shot in September as a regular guy, he hit in seven of his final 14 games, three of which were multi-hit games.

Who knows what he’ll ultimately do for this team? But he’s trending way up, and the bottom floor is getting crowded on this guy. 

4. Raisel Iglesias 

No one’s sure what to expect from Iglesias. While what little body of work he does have is good, his ZiPS projection (via Fangraph.com) is pretty poor. He’s projected to finish with a 4.93 ERA.

A quick look back on what Iglesias had accomplished in Cuba from Mark Sheldon of MLB.com:

Iglesias pitched three seasons for Isla de la Juventud in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, the island’s top baseball league. He had a 1.68 ERA with 20 walks and 50 strikeouts in 15 games (two starts) during a span of 53 2/3 innings, during the first half of the 2012-13 season, but he struggled with his command in the second half and finished with a 3.29 ERA.

Iglesias turned in a really good spring, although he did struggle near its end. He finished with a 3.68 ERA in six games, three of them starts, in a total of 14.2 innings. He gave up 14 hits but also struck out 14 batters.

Batters finished hitting just .230 against him for the spring, but his last two starts were bad. After allowing no earns runs in every appearance prior, including his first start, he gave up three runs in three innings and then three runs in four innings.

Minus two bad starts, there’s plenty of reason to be excited about Iglesias. But he does struggle with control. Iglesias finished with a career 4.6 BB/9 in Cuba, and he issued five walks in six spring training appearances.

But his fastball has movement and he’s proven capable of being a serious strikeout pitcher. In seven innings of Arizona Fall League baseball, he finished with a 0.00 ERA while allowing just one hit. The Reds will get their first official look at Iglesias on Sunday.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise

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