Tag: Ryan Ludwick

4 Moves the Cincinnati Reds Must Make This Offseason

The Cincinnati Reds are wrapping up a disappointing 2014 season, and there are a few things the organization must do this offseason in order to make sure next season goes much better.

Bryan Price’s first season as manager didn’t go as planned. Fans can put the majority of the blame on injuries, but there is no question that the team could use some help even when its healthy.

All eyes will be on the Reds front office this season to see if it trades away one—or more—of its starting pitchers. Four of the team’s current five starters are set to hit the free-agent market after the 2015 season. Trading away a starter could help the club’s current payroll and build for the future. However, the team could try to make a run at things next season by keeping all of the pitchers.

There won’t be any trades or free-agent signings on this list. Until the front office makes it known what it plans to do with its pitchers, fans won’t know if the Reds will be pushing to win next season or go through a bit of a rebuilding phase. That doesn’t mean the club can’t make some key decisions to improve its team regardless of its strategy.

This offseason will be the most important one Cincinnati has had in years. Keep reading to see what the organization needs to do in order to rebound next season.

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Cincinnati Reds: Unexplored Internal Options for Left Field in 2015

It’s finally come to this, Cincinnati Reds fans. With virtually no hope remaining in what has been one of the more miserable, disappointing Reds seasons to date, we shift our focus to 2015. In Redsland, 2015 is all we have. Beyond that, very little is guaranteed. 

Anyone with even a fractional interest in this team understands where improvements need to be made.

For years, dating back to 2010, left field has been a constant area of debate. We remember the days of the Jonny Gomes and Chris Heisey platoon. Ryan Ludwick was supposed to put an end to that, but in typical Reds fashion, a crippling injury in 2013 has reduced Ludwick to a shell of his former self.

He was signed by Walt Jocketty to essentially be the power bat in the middle of the order. But Ludwick has just 10 home runs in the near 479 plate appearances since he injured his shoulder on Opening Day of 2013. The power outage seems to be real. But it was probably expected considering he is 36 years old anyway.

And it’s not just the power. Everything from batting average, OBP and slugging have all been down since the beginning of 2013. With that in mind, it’s probably realistic that the Reds will spend $4.5 million just to send Ludwick off.

And with his departure comes the topic of replacements. 

The popular idea may be to just hit the market and sign a big bat. But with so many vital players approaching arbitration, that’s unlikely. Because of what these players are making now, it is not far-fetched to assume that Mike Leake and Mat Latos get salaries close to or above $10 million. 

Alfredo Simon’s salary will likely jump from just $1.5 million to maybe somewhere around $5 million, but that is strictly a guess and is in no way validated. Could be more, could be less.

Then there are, of course, the salaries of Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Homer Bailey, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto.

Unless there is a decision to increase payroll, it is highly unlikely the Reds will have the cash necessary to procure the services of a bona fide cleanup hitter from the market. Therefore, they may have to consider internal options.

But is that a bad thing? With a healthy Votto, a healthy Jay Bruce, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier, aren’t any of them qualified to bat cleanup?

In my opinion, there are enough able bats on a healthy Reds roster to hit for power. But OBP is a major problem. Per ESPN.com, the Reds are No. 28 in OBP, nearly dead last. That, more than nearly anything else, needs to be addressed. The following are three guys who may be able to help do that from left field.


Jason Bourgeois

Jason Bourgeois is the starting center fielder for the Triple-A Louisville Bats. This 32-year-old right-handed option is no stranger to the big leagues. He’s had stints with the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers

With a very limited time in the majors, his slash line after just 515 plate appearances in six years is .259/.305/.326. Surely that doesn’t blow anyone away, but that’s a very limited sample size.

In 15 minor league seasons, Bourgeois is slashing .282/.342/.386. This year, he’s slashing .283/.336/.372. He has 143 hits in 126 games played. This isn’t a power hitter, and he won’t drive in many runs, but he gets on base at a healthy pace and can steal a base. 


Felix Perez

Felix Perez has played mostly right field in Louisville this season in a year in which he was named to the Independent League All-Star game. On the season, Perez is slashing .282/.328/.456. This 29-year-old has spent five seasons in the Reds farm system. His slash line for those five years is .281/.330/.405.

Unlike Bourgeois, Perez does have some power. He’s got 11 home runs in 425 at-bats and 68 RBI to add to that. He also has 150 games of left field experience in five minor league seasons, with a fielding percentage of .990.

Per Rotoworld, Perez was once a prized prospect of the New York Yankees, but he lost out on a $3.5 million signing bonus when it was discovered that he lied about his age.


Devin Mesoraco

That’s right. According to Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer John Fay, the Reds plan on possibly moving Mesoraco around a bit next spring. Per Fay, Mesoraco is willing, saying:

If that’s something I was asked to do, I’d absolutely do it. There’s a few positions that I could play, probably first base, maybe left field, that would take more work. But I don’t see any harm in doing it. Spring training as long as it is, there’s plenty of time for it. I’d be more than willing.

This is a likely option to consider, because with Brayan Pena inked through next season, he’ll be able to play catcher while Mesoraco‘s bat stays in the lineup. It has been a challenge to keep him in the lineup for Bryan Price this year, so if Mesoraco becomes more versatile, it will help things out a lot.

Remember, while none of these options will blow you away, keep payroll in mind. It won’t be the No. 4 hitter who takes the Reds to the next level. It will be the team’s dominant pitching staff and, hopefully, its restructured, healthy bullpen.

The Reds need money to secure the very core of their team moving forward, so left field should be addressed as cost-efficiently as possible.


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

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Under the Knife: Latest MLB Injury Updates

I made it to Opening Day.

This year, Opening Day meant more than most years, since I was the one that almost went on the DL. Instead, I stood on the field Monday in Milwaukee, looking at the steel roof above the green grass and loving that it was once again baseball season. It was an amazing feeling, talking with so many media friends and having everyone from Doug Melvin to Ryan Braun pausing to ask how I was feeling. 

Of course, there’s a lot of injuries already around the league, which should be no surprise. Almost 20 percent of injuries occur in the spring. Even once Opening Day has come and gone, injuries tend to be a bit front-loaded. The reasons are obvious and inscrutable all at once, but the pattern has held for the decade we have data on and anecdotally for much longer.

It’s a long season, but for too many, the season is already over. Opening Day isn’t a new beginning, but the starting line that is sometimes not reached. Teams will begin to make do, to patch holes and to find ways to deal with the injuries that occur. At some point, they’ll do something about it, but until then, the doctors and athletic trainers will just put in the long hours they have trying to make a difference.

Powered by the spirit of Opening Day, on to the injuries: 

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5 Biggest Weaknesses the Cincinnati Reds Must Overcome Next Season

The Cincinnati Reds have made strides this offseason to ensure their chances for yet another NL Central title. Though those strides may have filled some holes, such as that at leadoff, some of them have also weakened the team in other areas.

These may not be considered major deficiencies in the Reds’ lineup, but they will still create challenges that the team must overcome during the 2013 season.

Let’s take a look at some of these newly developed “weaknesses” as well as some that may hang around from the 2012 season.

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Biggest Weaknesses of the Cincinnati Reds Entering the New Year

The Cincinnati Reds won the National League Central in 2012, but the team still has some weaknesses entering the 2013 season.

Coming into this offseason, the leadoff and cleanup spots were the biggest issues with this team. General manager Walt Jocketty re-signed left fielder Ryan Ludwick to fill the No. 4 hole and traded for Shin-Soo Choo to insert at the top of the lineup.

After dealing with two major issues, the Reds still have minor weaknesses they will need to overcome next season.

Moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation weakens the bullpen and will make it tougher for the team to shut teams down in late innings. Jose Arredondo and Sam LeCure will now face bigger roles, so it may be a struggle at first.

However, the team faces bigger weaknesses than middle relief.


Production from catchers

Behind the plate, Cincinnati had a great defensive combination. Ryan Hanigan is as good as it gets on defense, rookie Devin Mesoraco showed great ability behind the plate and Dioner Navarro did a good job when called upon.

Part of the problem with this lineup was the lack of production on offense from the catchers.

Hitting in the No. 8 spot, Hanigan had a .365 on-base percentage. That’s a great sign, but he took a step back in 2012 despite playing a career-high 112 games. 

The 32-year-old hit at least five home runs with at least 31 RBI in the previous two seasons but managed only two long balls and 24 RBI. He hit only .242 with runners in scoring position, which was over 30 points lower than what he did in 2011.

Mesoraco showed some pop by hitting five home runs, but he only drove in 14 runs. His .212 average kept him off the postseason roster.

Like Hanigan, the rookie struggled in clutch situations. Mesoraco hit only .111 with runners in scoring position in his first season, and four of his five home runs were solo shots.

Navarro hit two home runs with 12 RBI in limited action. He is now with the Chicago Cubs, so Hanigan and Mesoraco will need to step up on offense next season. 

Catchers combined stats: .256 average, 9 HR, 50 RBI (one of the worst stat lines in baseball, according to MLB.com).

There will plenty of chances to drive in runs in 2013, so the production needs to be better.


Outfield defense

Trading former center fielder Drew Stubbs helped upgrade the offense, but the outfield defense is now a major question mark.

Stubbs was a Gold Glove finalist last season. He had a good arm and could get to just about any ball hit near him. He made life easier for Ludwick and right fielder Jay Bruce, who was also a Gold Glove finalist.

Great American Ball Park does have a huge outfield, but the defense will also be tested in road games. 


Choo was not a great defender in right field, so moving him to center will be an adventure. Like Bruce, he has a great arm. However, he is nowhere close to the defender Stubbs was. The team could move Bruce to center for a season until prospect Billy Hamilton gets to the majors, but it doesn’t make sense to mess with a Gold Glove finalist in right field.  

Ludwick is a solid defender, but there will be a lot more extra-base hits falling in the left-center gap without Drew Stubbs next season. 

Chris Heisey has the ability to play great defense in center, so he gives the team options if anyone struggles on offense or gets hurt.

Speed in the outfield shouldn’t be overlooked. Stubbs saved pitchers many runs by tracking down fly balls and keeping balls from dropping in for hits. The corner outfielders will now have to chase down more balls, and it will be interesting to see how Choo adjusts to center field next season.



Cincinnati addressed the team’s biggest needs, so their weaknesses may not keep the team from returning to the postseason.

The club won 97 games with very little offensive production from its catchers. Outfield defense will be exposed in big ballparks, but it can be overcome by a more productive offense.

Look for a better season out of the catchers. If the Reds can get a more consistent offense in 2013, these weaknesses will not keep them from returning to the postseason.

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Ranking Every Move by the Cincinnati Reds During Busy Offseason

The Cincinnati Reds are looking to win the National League Central and make a deep playoff run in 2013, so it’s time to evaluate the team’s offseason moves.

For the second straight offseason, the team stayed put at the winter meetings. Just like last year, the Reds made some major moves after the meetings wrapped up.

Aroldis Chapman will try to move from closer to the rotation, but that move won’t be evaluated because of his impact as closer. However, it could end up being the biggest decision of the offseason.

Cincinnati had three glaring needs entering the offseason: leadoff man, center fielder/left fielder and adding to the bench. A reliever was also part of the list, but the team had bigger needs to fill.

It’s unclear if third baseman Scott Rolen will return or retire, but it would be a good addition if he accepted a bench role. He’s a clubhouse leader and is still a great defender. Having him mentor Frazier can only help the team. It would rank among the best moves of the offseason if he returns.

Most of the roster stays intact, so the Reds are in great position to make a playoff run in 2013. The offseason moves should only enhance the team’s chances next season.

So what was the most important move of the offseason?

Feel free to make an argument for any moves that should be swapped. 

*Stats are from ESPN.com

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Top 10 Most Obvious "Dippers" in Major League Baseball

When baseball isn’t busy being mired in steroids scandals, it’s a hyper-entertaining sport of men who face off against one another with leather gloves, tight pants, and more superstition than the average human can handle.

That, of course, is the opinion of your average baseball-obsessed super fan (ahem).  To many, baseball is a boring game that requires some sort of stimulant to enjoy.  For some players, it’s no different. Baseball requires a ton of stop-and-go performance, which, despite naysayers, is the No. 1 reason for major injuries.

It’s probably also the No. 1 reason that players make the choice to chew tobacco during games.  With all that standing (and for many, sitting) around, players often choose to let their minds wander with some smokeless tobacco resting in their lower lip or inside their cheek.  

In a sense, you can’t blame them: there are really only three guys playing at a time in baseball, which is truly unlike any other sport.  On the other hand, it’s a little unsettling when you see Tim Lincecum throw in a huge dip after tossing eight shutout innings (not to mention the health risks involved).   

On August 18 of this year’s MLB season, the Colorado Rockies suspended farmhand Mike Jacobs for 50 games when he tested positive for HGH.  Aside from the obvious implication, this story provided us with a perfectly nasty photo (pictured above).

Things can get out of hand (See here: Nyjer Morgan throws his chew at St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter) at times.  With Morgan’s Brewers currently trying to battle back from a 3-2 deficit in the NLCS, we take a look at MLB’s current top 10 most obvious tobacco chewers. 

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Brad Snyder Hits an RBI Single in the Ninth, Chicago Cubs Beat San Diego Padres

Since the September call-up, the Cubs rookie outfielder Brad Snyder has had the privilege of enjoying two double-RBI games in his first eight major league games.  On Thursday afternoon, he reached another level of enjoyment by hitting out first game-winning RBI. 

His single in the ninth inning generated the winning run for the Chicago Cubs who took the four-game series finale with a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres in PETCO Park.  With the win, the visitors snapped their two-series losing streak and dimmed the Padres’ chance to make the playoffs.

Both teams’ pitching staffs performed creditably, especially for both starting pitchers, Tom Gorzelanny and Jon Garland who formed an outstanding pitching dual witnessed by a crowd of 28,576 in the last getaway day of the 2010 season.

Gorzelanny returned to his top form after a few disappointing recent outings.  The southpaw tossed six scoreless innings scattering three hits with three strikeouts and four walks. 

A couple of great defensive plays helped him to pass through those innings clean.    

In the second, Yorvit Torrealba led off with a single but with one out, Gorzelanny picked him off, and threw him out at second in a base-stealing attempt.  He gave up another single to Chase Headley, but stranded him at first.

In the sixth, the hurler gave up back-to-back walks to David Eckstein and Miguel Tejada.  He then forced Adrian Gonzalez to hit a 6-3 double play which crossed out Tejada at second.  Moving to third, Eckstein became the only Padre who reached as far as third base in the game.  But he was not sent home after Ryan Ludwick hit an inning-ending fly-out to center-field.

The other game starter, Garland, pitched hard to help his team to close gap with the NL West leaders, the San Francisco Giants who procured their fourth victory in a row against the Arizona Diamondbacks on the same day. 

Garland had already recorded a win against the Cubs in Wrigley Field on August 17, when he pitched seven scoreless innings.  He had the similar line today but did not get the win for his team.

Since allowing a single to lead-off Blake DeWitt in the first, he retired 14 consecutive Cubs before issuing a walk to Alfonso Soriano in the fifth.  He left the game after blanking the Cubs in 6.1 innings on four hits and striking out eight with a walk.

The Cubs scored the game-winning run in the ninth. 

The Padres closer, Heath Bell (6-1), replaced Mike Adams and gave up a lead-off single to Aramis Ramirez who was then substituted by pinch-runner Darwin Barney.  Xavier Nady followed with a sacrifice bunt which sent the potential go-ahead run to second.  Having struck out twice in three previous at bats, Snyder hit a high-bound groundball that passed between shortstop and third base to left field to tally Barney.

Sean Marshall (7-5) who relieved Andrew Cashner in the eighth inning was credited with the win.  Carlos Marmol retired the side in the ninth including striking out Gonzalez and Ludwick for his 37th save of the year, his 15th straight in as many save situations.

The Cubs left San Diego after the game for Houston where they will play their last series of the year against the Astros.  Meanwhile, the Padres will start their do-or-die series tomorrow in San Francisco as they skid to three games behind the Giants in the NL West standings.

This article is also featured on www.sportshaze.com.

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MLB Trade Rankings: Roy Oswalt and the 10 Best Deals Made at the 2010 Deadline

The trade deadline always brings new excitement to MLB teams and their fans, and it doesn’t matter whether the team is struggling or on their way towards the postseason.

This year there was a bevy of players who were sent all over the place and for some, it was really hard to keep up, but for others it was a torrent of player news they couldn’t get enough of.

It all started with Roy Oswalt, and went on from there, so let’s take a look at my top 10 list of who I feel were the best trades in 2010.

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San Diego Padres-Colorado Rockies: Friars Win Another Nail-Biter, 7-6

After being swept at home by Colorado in the midst of a near franchise worst 10-game losing streak, the Padres are returning the favor at Coors Field.

The Padres hung on to beat the Rockies 7-6 Tuesday night, behind a 16-hit effort to win the second of a pivotal 10-game road trip.

In a search to find a leadoff hitter, manager Bud Black inserted Aaron Cunningham at the top of the order. Cunningham responded with three hits, including a double, and two runs scored.

Trade deadline acquisitions Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick each added RBI singles in the first. Tejada has now driven in five runs through two of the three games in this crucial NL West matchup.

No hit was bigger than pinch-hitter Matt Stairs’ two-run homer in the eighth, to put the Padres up 6-3.

San Diego relievers Mike Adams and Joe Thatcher couldn’t silence Colorado in the eighth. With two on and two out, Thatcher gave up a run-scoring single to NL MVP candidate Carlos Gonzalez.

In the top of the ninth, the Padres got a huge insurance run off a sacrifice fly by Nick Hundley before Heath Bell converted a shaky four-out save.

Bell gave up an RBI double to Melvin Mora after Todd Helton led off the inning with a double. Jay Payton later singled in a run as well, making it a 7-6 game.

But Bell got Eric Young Jr. to ground into a game-ending double play to earn his 29th straight save and 42nd overall.

A sharp John Garland (14-11) put an end to a three-game slide of his own, allowing three runs—one earned—and four hits. He also helped his own cause at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk and a double.

Just when you thought you’ve got the National League West a little more figured out, forget about it.

The Padres (82-62) now have a 1 1/2 game lead over the Giants (81-64), who lost 1-0 to the Dodgers despite giving up just one hit.

The Rockies (79-66), who had their 10-game winning streak halted Monday night, dropped to 3 1/2 games behind San Diego.

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