Tag: Scott Rolen

Scott Rolen: End of an Era at 3B for the Cincinnati Reds

Scott Rolen had a great MLB career, but it may be time for him to say goodbye to the Cincinnati Reds and the game.

The Reds traded multiple players, including Edwin Encarnacion for Rolen back in 2009. Some questioned the move because of Rolen’s age and injury history. However, the move paid off.

Rolen made an immediate impact from the moment he came into the clubhouse. The Reds finished 2009 on a tear and carried the momentum into 2010. In two of his three full seasons with the team, the Reds won the National League Central.

Not only did the Reds do well, but Rolen also added to his great career. He won a Gold Glove in 2010 and made the NL All-Star team in 2010 and 2011. He made the key play by taking an extra base in 2010 and started at third base for the NL in 2011.

In 2010, he had a great all-around season. The veteran hit .300 through July and was fantastic on defense. Although he struggled hitting the rest of the season, he helped lead Cincinnati into the postseason for the first time in 15 years.

Injuries have been an issue for Rolen for years. When he played in only 65 games in 2011, the Reds failed to make the postseason.  When he has played in at least 90 games for Cincinnati, he has helped get his team into the playoffs.

His impact on the team cannot be overlooked. He provides leadership on a young team and has taught the team how to play the game the right way. The Reds were the most aggressive team on the basepaths in 2010, and the team has continued to try to take the extra base whenever possible.

Fans will blame Rolen for the Game 3 loss to the San Francisco Giants in this year’s National League Division Series. With the go-ahead run at third and two outs in the 10th inning, he bobbled a grounder and could not recover in time to throw the runner out at first.

Cincinnati lost by one run, which made Reds fans blame Rolen. It was a tough play that not even Todd Frazier makes.

Rolen has been a class act since joining the Reds, but his time is up. The 37-year-old has battled injuries for years and has seen his hitting decline along the way.

If he is willing to come back to the team for cheap and accept a bench role, it would be hard for either side to decline. He is more likely to retire, but he has the ability to still play a part-time role. 

Arguably the best third baseman of all time, Rolen has left his mark on the game. There has been no third baseman with a better glove in the last 17 years.

He played for four teams in his career, and he will now wait for a very important call. He gets booed in Philadelphia, got forced out of St. Louis and did not play very long in Toronto. Could he go into Cooperstown as a Cincinnati Red?

Rolen has had a career worthy of the Hall of Fame. He was the best third baseman of his generation and has worked his way into earning a nomination for an invite into Cooperstown. 

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Cincinnati Reds: The Hot Corner Must Be Todd Frazier’s to Lose

Unless you gave up on the Reds after their 4-8 start, you are well aware that this team has hit a stride.

Not only have we seen the usual heroes like Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce, we’re also starting to also see a bit of a youth movement.

Devin Mesoraco has found a little pop in his bat and young guys in the pen like JJ Hoover are joining in on the fun, but the one name who stands out over all these young men is third baseman Todd Frazier.

Frazier, who has earned the nickname “The Toddfather,” is on a roll and fits in very well with this Reds team. With the injuries to Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo, Frazier has gotten his opportunity and has run with it for miles.

The issue at hand is when or if Rolen returns to Cincinnati, how does Reds manager Dusty Baker use these two? Better question: will he continue to be Dusty and favor his veterans?

What I was referring to is it’s no secret Baker loves his veterans on the field. Sometimes it works out—example: Ryan Hanigan getting more starts than Devin Mesoraco—and then we see some tough ones, like the Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey scenario.

According to baseballreference.com, Rolen has had 101 plate appearances where he is 16-for-92 (.174 AVG) with two home runs, 11 RBI, seven BB and a .238 on-base percentage.

Frazier, on the other hand, coming into Tuesday’s game had 81 plate appearances where he is 20-for-76 (.263) with five home runs, 11 RBI, five BB and a .297 on-base percentage—oh, and so far through five innings in tonight’s game is 2-for-2 with a double, triple, two RBI and a run scored.

We’ve all wondered before if Baker believes in playing the hot hand or just prefers to have the guys who have been there before.

Baker at one point recently said that he felt Rolen was looking good coming off the bench…hmmm.

I’m not intending on bashing either Baker or Rolen here by any means, but we can’t deny that Frazier is a big part of this team’s recent success. He may not have the glove that Rolen has, but he is a fairly decent fielder also.

I think it’s time the Reds continue to play their future, and Frazier is in fact the future at the hot corner. What are your thoughts?

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Cincinnati Reds: Is Scott Rolen Done for the Season Yet Again?

Yet more worrying news came out of the Cincinnati Reds camp today. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com, the shoulder injury to veteran third baseman Scott Rolen has the Reds’ training staff worried that he may not return for the remainder of the season.

Currently labeled as indefinitely out, Rolen’s injured shoulder is the same injury that prematurely ended his 2011 season. It was hoped that Rolen would return sooner rather than later, as original reports stated that he could avoid missing extended time.

Rolen was batting a meager .172 prior to being placed on the disabled list, with two home runs and 11 runs batted in. His batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are all career lows.

In the last year of his contract and pushing the envelope at 37 years old, Rolen could have played his last game in a Reds uniform if he is indeed out for the season. This season could likely be the shortest of Rolen’s long career, having gone on the disabled list after only playing in 29 games.

In the absence of Rolen, youngster Todd Frazier should draw the majority of starts, although veterans Wilson Valdez and Miguel Cairo should factor in for some time at the hot corner. The recently promoted Mike Costanzo could also see the occasional start if he remains in the majors.

The absence of Rolen leaves a major hole in the lineup for Cincinnati. If Frazier cannot step up and fill the void, GM Walt Jocketty may be forced to make a trade for a bat to bolster the lineup as the trade deadline approaches in July.

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Cincinnati Reds: Turning the Reds into a World Series Contender

The Cincinnati Reds have the pieces necessary to become a serious World Series contender in 2012. But as of now, they have yet to put together a consistent string of wins to make it appear so. 

The Reds have committed a large sum of money to Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto over the next decade, so they have a core intact for the future.  We can sit here and bicker over whether it was the right call to spend such a large amount of money on two players, but that is not what this article is about.

The Reds need some help from a few guys on the roster if they want to succeed.  We will start with Scott Rolen.  Rolen has been one of the best—if not the best—third basemen in all of baseball over the last 10 years, but he is showing signs of age in the young 2012 season. 

Rolen is a fan favorite in Cincinnati and has become the leader in the clubhouse, but there is always a “but.”  He has not shown much in the way of production this season and the real question is, will he?  I do not think anyone knows the answer to that question.

Let us take a look at Rolen right now.  Rolen is hitting a mere .174 with an on-base percentage of .238.  These do not resemble the career numbers of Scott Rolen.  Rolen is a lifetime .281 hitter, but we do have to account for age at the present time and also the shoulder ailments he has had in the past.

This does not suggest the Reds go out and release or trade Rolen whatsoever.  But there will have to come a point for Dusty Baker and company to sit down and decide if they want to continue running Rolen out there more times than not. 

Scott Rolen can still pick it at third base, which is a major boost defensively, but defense does not equal offensive production.  The Reds have Todd Frazier, who has shown some spark off the bench, and he can do an admirable job at third base.  This is not suggesting that Frazier is better defensively than Rolen, but the suggestion is that Frazier has the bat speed and hitting ability to create a boost in the level of production that is not currently being shown. 

In a non-expert opinion and much to the opine of many Reds fans, Todd Frazier should be the starting third baseman for the Cincinnati Reds for the remainder of this season.

Let us move on to left field.  The Reds signed Ryan Ludwick in the offseason in hopes that he would be able to nail down the starting gig and hit like he did when Walt Jocketty had him in St. Louis.  Through a little over one month into the season, it has been apparent that he has not. 

The flip side would be to stick Chris Heisey out there every day, but he is also not providing any production to the position either.  The question will be, what are the Reds going to do? 

We can look at this problem in a number of different lights.  The first solution would be to stick with one or the other.  When you run Ludwick out one game and Heisey the next, you are not really giving one player the opportunity to provide a meaningful impact. 

The next solution would be to reach into the farm system and find an answer, but judging by the numbers in AAA right now, that solution is near zilch. 

The third solution would be to find someone on the trade market, but who? You have to remember the Reds have committed a ton of money to a few guys, so finding someone to help now may be a little tougher than originally thought.  The Reds could try for Delmon Young, who is a free agent after the season, but then you have the baggage that surrounds him currently.  Young is a much better hitter than Heisey and Ludwick at the moment, but defensively, that is a whole new ball game. 

There are a few other options out there, but trying to pry those players away from their teams may cost a lot more then the Reds are willing to spend.  Option one looks to be the best option as of now, but we all know things could change before the deadline.

The third issue facing the Reds right now is Aroldis Chapman and what to do with him.  Does he start? Does he close? Or should he just stay where he is? 

The Reds are paying Chapman starter money, and they had envisioned him as a potential ace of the staff.  But circumstances have arisen in which he is needed out of the bullpen.  The Reds were hoping for Ryan Madson to be the everyday closer this season, but due to injury, that notion has gone right out the window. 

The Reds currently employ Sean Marshall as the closer, which originally looked like a great idea.  But he is an off-speed kind of pitcher, which in the notion of closing a ball game, is not the best option.  Do not get me wrong—Marshall is an excellent reliever, as evidenced by his performance in 2011.  But is he truly a closer?  I do not think so. 

The other side of the equation is the Reds’ need for a fifth starter right now.  Homer Bailey and Mike Leake have not been effective this season, and running them out every fifth day does not bode well for the remainder of the season.  Bailey has shown some flashes of finally reaching his potential, but he is highly inconsistent.  Leake has been dreadful to begin the year and could use some tuning up in AAA. Leake was in the same predicament a year ago, and after a handful of starts in Louisville, he came back to the big leagues and was, simply, awesome. 

Do the Reds consider moving Chapman to the rotation? Or do they opt for finding help on the trade market?  The answer: Chapman should be the closer. 

Chapman is dominant, and when we look at the most successful closers in the game, they too are dominant.  This is not to say that Chapman could not be a dominant starter, but that is an unknown at the moment.  The Reds could try him as a starter and see how it goes, with the back-up plan being to move him back to the bullpen.  But it appears he has more of a closer in him now.

The Reds should make a move on the trade front to find a fifth starter.  There are options out there that are inexpensive and would not cost the farm system to get them.  If this is going to be the year for the Reds to achieve glory, then finding that starter should be a major priority.  Some options the Reds could consider would be Erik Bedard, Shaun Marcum, Carl Pavano or Joe Saunders.  These four are all free agents after the season, and they all would bring an upgrade to staff immediately. 

The Reds look like they have some issues to address.  But they are still in the hunt, and they have received excellent performances from their pitching and offense.  The key would be consistency here. 

Johnny Cueto is looking like a serious contender for the Cy Young Award.  Joey Votto is, well, Joey Votto.  Jay Bruce is hitting like he has been expected to since he was drafted.  The bullpen has been nothing short of lights out, and the Reds have been able to hang around late in games to give themselves a chance. 

If this is going to be the Reds’ year, they will have to find that consistency to keep winning series and find ways to get production out of players that have yet to produce. 

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Cincinnati Reds: Their Ideal Everyday Lineup

With a bad team, arranging the batting lineup is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the titanic, but on a contending team like the Reds, I believe there are a few adjustments that could be made that will help the team as a whole.

Without further ado, with numbers to back up my thoughts, I present what would look like a good everyday starting lineup for the Cincinnati Reds.

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MLB 2011: An Inside Look at the Powerless Third Basemen

Typically, in the game of baseball, there are positions that are expected to generate a lot of offense, and some that are more defensive-oriented with little power threat.

In general, the latter positions are usually second base, shortstop, center field and catcher. But the corner infield and outfield positions have historically produced higher offensive numbers. But, so far in 2011, one position has neglected that precedent—third base.

Some examples for this power outage are injury-related, some are due to aging athletes playing past their prime, and some are just anomalies. But whatever the reason, many teams around baseball have had poor power numbers from their hot corner patrols.

Case in point: Last season, Major League third basemen combined to hit .263 with 567 home runs, to go along with a .418 slugging percentage. In 2009, they totaled 588 home runs, and slugged at a .421 mark.

But so far in 2011, third baseman have hit just 146 home runs (just five more than ML second basemen), with a .245 batting average and a .368 slugging percentage.

We can take a look at some individual performances to truly get to the bottom of this head scratcher. For instance, two of the game’s brightest third baseman over the past five or six seasons have been sidelined much of the year with injuries.

The Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman has appeared in just eight games in 2011, and none since injuring himself on April 9. Zimmerman has been on the 15-day disabled list ever since, suffering from a torn abdominal muscle. He is currently on a rehab assignment, but no definitive timetable has been established for his return to the lineup.

Mets’ third baseman, and good friend of Zimmerman’s, David Wright is also sidelined on the disabled list. Wright suffered a stress fracture in his back while making a defensive play against the Astros on April 19. A month later, he was placed on the disabled list, and is now expected to be sidelined until some point in July.

The Rays’ Evan Longoria played the first two games of the season, and then missed a month due to an oblique injury. Since his return on May 3, Longoria has just four home runs and a .244 batting average. He endured a span of 56 at-bats without a long ball earlier this year, and just hasn’t been able to find a groove at the plate so far.

There are some third baseman that are overall healthy, but just haven’t produced to their precedent standards.

For instance, Cubs’ third baseman Aramis Ramirez has averaged 28 home runs per season from 2001-2010. So far in 2011, he has three—and he hit his second and third each with the last 10 days. He does have a respectable .288 batting average on the season, but so far his offensive stats resemble more of a middle infielder than a third baseman.

Scott Rolen has just two home runs so far in 2011 and a .245 batting average. He missed about 19 games for the Reds earlier this year with a neck injury, but at 36 years of age, Rolen’s days as an offensive threat could be close to over.

Similarly, Chipper Jones could be nearing the end as well. He has just six home runs on the year, and his slugging percentage is 100 points lower than his career mark.

After a 23-home run campaign in 2010, the Brewers’ Casey McGehee has struggled much of 2011. He has just four home runs on the year to go along with a paltry .227 batting average.

There are also some teams that don’t currently have a legitimate, typical third baseman. The Florida Marlins, for instance, have used a combination of Emilio Bonifacio, Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs to man the hot corner. And though they are all professional hitters, none of them have the proven ability to smash 20-plus home runs on a consistent basis.

The same holds true for the Angels (Alberto Callaspo), Indians (Jack Hannahan), Diamondbacks (Ryan Roberts) and the Royals (Wilson Betemit).

The Toronto Blue Jays are a team worth highlighting. They have the game’s best home run hitter over the last season and a half playing right field, when he has spent much time at third base in his career.

Jose Bautista hit an MLB-best 54 home runs a year ago, and is once again leading the world in big flies with 20. And though he’s played over 350 games at third base, the Jays are content in letting Jayson Nix and Edwin Encarnacion (who have combined to hit six home runs all year) waste away at third base.

Of course, not every Major League third baseman is having a poor season. Adrian Beltre is certainly proving his worth to the Texas Rangers, who signed him to a blockbuster five-year, $80 million contract this past winter. Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis and Placido Polanco all have quality seasons so far in 2011.

There may be a shift coming in Major League Baseball. Several perennial third base All-Stars are now past their primes and have shown serious decline in offensive production. A new generation of hot corner patrol is on it’s way (witness Mike Moustakas’ debut for the Kansas City Royals Friday night).

Bottom line, if the All-Star game was today, who would you choose to be play third base for either league? The choices this year seem to be awfully thin…perhaps the thinnest the game has seen in the last decade.

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Is Scott Rolen of the Cincinnati Reds a Future Hall of Famer?

I always despised when a baseball announcer used the words, “future Hall of Famer.” Were they attempting prognostication or trying to be a modern day Nostradamus?

The times that phrase was uttered about baseball great Pete Rose is incalculable. Of course, as everyone now knows, Rose shot himself in the foot by gambling on baseball games. That action proved to fail the litmus test for all those Cooperstown prophets.

Yet, here I am asking you if Cincinnati Reds third baseman Scott Rolen will someday be enshrined with the baseball legends of days gone by. He is in his 16th year and still going strong(er).

I must admit, even though I am a self-proclaimed baseball purist, it is titillating to engage in conversation about marginal players.

As a purist (and not a homer), I would give you a quick two-thumbs down on Rolen. He has nowhere near 3,000 hits. He isn’t close to 500 HR and he probably won’t get 1,500 RBI. He currently possesses a lifetime BA of .284 with 305 HR and 1,228 RBI.

He hasn’t won any offensive titles or crowns, he never was an MVP and never led the league in any category. He was, however, the National League Rookie of the Year in 1997 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He was also the winner of the Silver Slugger award in 2002 and was named to six All-Star teams. Not enough to get in the Museum without a ticket, right?

Not so fast there, Mr. Baseball Writer of America. Should not we take a look at his defense? I mean, were it not for his outstanding glove, Ozzie Smith doesn’t belong there much more than I. Yet, there he is, and there he shall be.

He does have eight Gold Glove awards, winning the last one just last season with the Reds. He trails only Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt in the number of years receiving the award. Robby had 16 and Schmidt had 10—both are firmly entrenched in the Hall of Fame and baseball lore as well.

I am not an avid fan (still trying, though) of sabermetrics, but I will throw one out for good measure. Rolen ranks fifth all time in total zone runs for third basemen with 142

Let us recap what we now have. His offense is probably lacking so he can’t go in on that alone. His defense is superb and as good as it gets at the hot corner. So, offense no and defense yes, yes?

Rolen appeared in two World Series while with the Cardinals. They were swept in 2004 by the Boston Red Sox and won in 2006 against the Detroit Tigers. Postseason is a team effort, but that notwithstanding, he has a ring on his hand.

Let us now scroll through the Hall of Fame roster and see who got there from the hot corner. Let’s just filter out pitchers and only use position players.

Out of 158 players, third basemen are the loneliest lot of all. There are only 14, or 8.8 percent Hall of Fame third basemen. Even catchers, who can get in with .262 averages, have more with 16.

The last third baseman to be voted in (Negro League players notwithstanding) was Wade Boggs in 2005. The timing is right, wouldn’t you think?

Hey, Rolen isn’t finished yet, friends. He is still a vital cog in the New Red Machine. He is a team leader in every sense of the word. His value as a clubhouse leader cannot be measured. I realize intangibles do not count, but we are only pretending to be members of the BBWAA right now.

You vote your way and I will vote mine. I must give him a big thumbs UP!


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Cincinnati Reds: 2011 MLB Season Preview

Cincinnati Reds 

Last Year: 91-71, First in NL Central 

Manager: Dusty Baker 


Projected Lineup

C- Ramon Hernandez (R)

1B- Joey Votto (L)

2B- Brandon Phillips (R) 

3B- Scott Roles (R)

SS- Paul Janish (R)

LF- Johnny Gomes (R)

CF- Drew Stubbs (R)

RF- Jay Bruce (L)

The Reds won the NL Central in large part because of a consistent lineup that finished in the top five of most major offensive categories. Joey Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, leads the way in the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

He has an amazing combination of hitting for power, average, plate discipline and speed. He will strikeout like most power hitters these days, but his 35 home runs, 15 stolen bases and .315/.410/.570 line will make up for it. Brandon Phillips, who will hit in front of Votto, knows how to handle the bat and provides good power for a second baseman.

He should hit 20 home runs with 15-20 stolen bases and a .275/.330/.440 line. Paul Janish will be playing SS and batting in front of the pitcher in this lineup. Janish does not do much with the bat, which should lead to Edgar Renteria splitting time with him at the position.

GM Walt Jockety was questioned frequently by the media after trading for Scott Rolen in 2009, but that move served the 2010 club very well. Rolen still hits for some power (15-20 home runs), and will provide a solid line around .290/.360/.470.

Jay Bruce provides additional left-handed power out of the No. 5 hole. Bruce struggled in his sophomore season in 2009, but rebounded to put up his best numbers in 2010. I expect an even bigger year from Bruce in 2011 by posting a .285/.360/.520 line and adding a little more than 30 home runs.

Drew Stubbs had a great first full season for the Reds in 2010 hitting out of the leadoff spot. He strikes out way too often for a leadoff hitter, but he does provide atypical power out of the spot. Stubbs should provide 30 stolen bases, 20 home runs, and a line of .260/.335/.440.

Johnny Gomes will start the season as the everyday left fielder, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fred Lewis or Chris Heisey get some playing time there. Gomes does provide some power, but not enough to justify a starting spot. Ramon Hernandez will get most of the time at the catchers position, and if he stays healthy enough, he should hit 10 home runs with a .260 average. Hannigan is more than a capable backup at the position.

The Reds were the fourth rated defense in terms of UZR and eight out of the nine starters are returning. The infield defense is stellar. Paul Janish is starting at SS because of the quality defense he provides.

Scott Rolen, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are in the top five in UZR ratings at their respected positions. Ramon Hernandez is a good catcher who has an above average CS%. Jay Bruce was the Reds’ best defender where he put up the best UZR rating among all right fielders and second among all major league defenders. Drew Stubbs is an above average center fielder, but Johnny Gomes is a disaster in LF. Fred Lewis and Chirs Heisey would be significant upgrades over Gomes. 



IF- Miguel Cairo(R)

IF- Edgar Renteria (R)

OF- Chris Heisey (R)

C- Ryan Hanigan (R)

OF- Fred Lewis (L) or Jeremy Hermida (L)


Starting Rotation 

RHP- Edison Volquez

RHP- Bronson Arroyo

RHP- Homer Bailey

LHP- Travis Wood

RHP- Mike Leake

RHP Johnny Cueto (Will start season on DL with forearm tightness)

The Reds have a lot of depth in the rotation, and it will be needed to start the season. Johnny Cueto would have been the Opening Day starter, but he has experienced forearm tightness over the last few days that should lead him to start the season on the DL.

The scouting report on Cueto shows that he uses a 93 MPH fastball with a good slider, cutter and average change. He should be back sometime in the first half. Volquez will get the ball on Opening Day after coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2010. Volquez averages 93.7 MPH on his fastball while suing a good curveball and an excellent change-up. I see Volquez putting up numbers similar to his fantastic 2008 season, where he struck more than a hitter per inning and recording a 3.20 ERA.

Veteran Bronson Arroyo will start the season as the No. 2 starter. He has put up solid 3.80 ERAs over the last two years even though his xFIP is somewhere in the 4.60 range. Arroyo doesn’t have great stuff (88 MPH on fastball), but he uses an array of sliders, curveballs and change-ups to keep hitters off balance. I see him posting around a 4.00 ERA while striking out 5.5 per nine innings.  

Homer Bailey will slot behind Arroyo in the rotation. Bailey has had trouble staying healthy over the last few seasons, but he has shown glimpses of the starter many project him to be. He averages 92.8 MPH on his fastball and compliments it with a good slider, average curveball and splitter.

If Bailey can stay healthy, I see him putting up a low four ERA and striking out seven per nine innings. No. 4 starter, Travis Wood, is detailed in the breakout player section. Mike Leake will start the season as the fifth starter. Leake started last season in the Reds rotation after being drafted in 2009.  He pitched well in the beginning of the season, but it was obvious that he got tired and he ended up going on the DL with a fatigued shoulder.

Leake has been compared to Greg Maddux using an 89 MPH fastball with natural cutting movement with a good slider, cutter, change, and curveball. I’m not sure how many starts he will make with the club, but he should have around a 4.10 ERA with a 6 K/9 rate. 



RHP- Francisco Cordero (Closer)

RHP- Nick Masset

LHP- Aroldis Chapman

LHP- Bill Bray

RHP- Logan Ondrusik

RHP- Jared Burton

RHP- Carlos Fisher or LHP- Dontrelle Willis

The veteran, Francisco Cordero, struggled some in 2010. Cordero’s strikeout numbers have decreased over the last three years, which is a usual sign of decline. The velocity on his fastball and the movement on the slider are still there, and I feel that he will bounce back to striking out a hitter an inning.

Aroldis Chapman will be a weapon for the Reds in the bullpen. He is detailed under the Prospect to watch section. Nick Masset will be the primary right-handed setup option after having another nice season. Masset averages 94.7 MPH on his fastball and complements it with an average cutter, great curve and splitter. Look for Masset to repeat his strikeout and inning rate and walk 3.5 per nine innings. 

Logan Ondrusek isn’t a bad seventh inning option for the Reds. He will throw mostly fastballs and cutters with an occasional curveball. He has decent control and should improve on his strikeout rate this season. Ondrusek will also get his fair share of groundball outs.

Bray will be the primary left-handed specialist for the Reds. Bray can handle left-handed hitters, but he gave up some HRs because of his inconsistent slider. Jared Burton will pitch in the middle innings after spending most of 2010 in AAA. He uses mostly cutters, sliders and change-ups to induce grounballs and strike out seven per nine. Either Carlos Fisher or Dontrelle Willis will probably be the last member of the pitching staff. 


Notable Non Roster Invitees

LHP- Dontrelle Willis

RHP- Chad Reineke

C- Corkey Miller (R)

OF- Jeremy Hermeida (L)


Breakout Player- Travis Wood

Travis Wood pitched very well for the Reds in 17 starts last season, and I think he can continue that success this season. Wood averages 90 MPH on his fastball, and complements it with a cutter, change and curveball. Wood’s best pitch is his fastball, which looks like like a mid 90s fastball because of Wood’s motion. If Wood makes a full season’s worth of starts, I see him striking out almost eight per nine with a 3.40 ERA. 


Prospect To Watch- LHP Aroldis Chapman

This one was an easy one to predict. Chapman impressed in his brief stint with the big league club last season blowing away hitters with his 100 MPH fastball and nasty slider. Chapman has struggled with control but his strikeout rate will make up for it.

There are various scenarios that could play out for Chapman this season that include taking over the closer role or even being groomed for the rotation. It isn’t clear what he will be doing at the end of the season, but he will probably be excelling at it.


Projected Finish- First in NL Central

The Reds were the best this team in this division last year, and most of that team has returned this year. They have great depth in the rotation, a great defense and the lineup will score the most runs in the NL Central. The other teams have improved, but the Reds might have a better year in 2011 than 2010. 

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Cincinnati Reds Cactus League: Is Anyone Watching Outfielder Dave Sappelt?

Everyone knows the Reds have a vault of young talent. Everybody knows about Joey Votto, Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman. Most have heard about Chris Heisey , Mike Leake, Travis Wood, Devin Mesoraco, Juan Francisco, Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier and Chris Valaika.

Here comes a serious question: Have you ever heard of center fielder Dave Sappelt? I had not before this spring training.

He is currently leading the Reds in home runs, RBI, hits and total bases. Among players with more than three at-bats, he also leads in batting average and slugging percentage.

I realize this is just the first couple of weeks of spring training, but I am getting excited about the young man. I was watching FoxSports Ohio the other day and saw his long home run against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Am I saying he is going to beat out Stubbs for his job? No. He will not even beat out Jonny Gomes for the left field post. It is predestined that he will be a starting outfielder for the Louisville Bats on opening day.

I must say, he certainly is exciting to watch.

In 15 ABs, he has scored four runs and tallied eight hits, two HRs and four RBI with a BA and OBP of .533 and a .933 SLG. It is a microscopic sampling, but it is clearly a man taking advantage of his opportunity.

If he were miraculously to make the squad, he would probably be the sixth outfielder on the depth chart, probably behind Bruce, Stubbs, Gomes, Fred Lewis and Heisey.

It is amazing to see all of the talent that the Reds organization has grown on the farm. They have a super abundance of young talent meshed with veterans like Scott Rolen, Miguel Cairo, Gomes, Ramon Hernandez, Lewis, Bronson Arroyo, Coco Cordero, Brandon Phillips and the newest arrival, Edgar Renteria.

Notice is hereby served to the rest of the National League’s Central Division: The Reds are back with a mission—to REPEAT.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Rafael Furcal, Scott Rolen and The 15 Best Infielder Arms In MLB History

It seems that almost every day a new list of strongest arms in the MLB is published. The problem with almost all of these lists is that they only include outfielders.

There is definitely some logic behind this, because in general outfielders do have stronger arms than infielders, and get to show them off more.

But, believe it or not there are infielders who have great arms too, and for once they are going to get the recognition they deserve.

The problem with rating infielder arms is that there are two very different ways to look at it, accuracy or power. This list has some players that are better at one and some that are better at the other.

What makes an infielder’s arm especially special is if they can master both of these skills, strong, powerful throws on a line to the glove.

Feel free to offer your comments below on what players should or should not have been on this list.

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