2013 – Looking ahead

If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, here is the link to my 2013 Reds outlook, which includes those eligible for arbitration and a look at the team position-by-position.

To expand a little bit — here is my priority list for what the Reds and GM Walt Jocketty need to do this off-season to improve the Reds. The good news is the Reds don’t have to go nuts with moves in the off-season. They have a strong nucleus and few holes to fill. But there is certainly room for improvement.

1. Find a leadoff hitter — This is the epitome of easier said than done. Jocketty has repeatedly tried to address this area since becoming GM. Willy Taveras and Corey Patterson are two examples of what didn’t work. Brandon Phillips worked in the past but wasn’t as successful there over the season’s final month. Michael Bourn (.274/.348/.391 in 2012) is an expected free agent, but I would imagine his price to be high. The Reds having Billy Hamilton still about a year or so away makes it tough to commit long term to a leadoff guy, but at the same time, Hamilton is very young and it’s a lot to automatically expect immediate success in the Majors at his age. Tough quandry indeed.

2. Get a run producer — Retaining Ryan Ludwick is part of this equation but why not look to add someone else that can fit in the middle of the order?

3. Figure out what to do with Aroldis Chapman — Is he a closer or a starter? Chapman notched 38 saves in 43 tries and has proven he can close, but could he be even more effective in the rotation? I think that is worth exploring. Whether the Reds re-sign Jonathan Broxton or Ryan Madson (who could need more time to rehab) or take a chance on someone like J.J. Hoover, or look to someone entirely different outside of the organization, the fact is others could fill the role and might be as successful at getting the final three outs (albeit not as exciting and with less ballpark electricity). If Chapman does not work as a starter, he could always return to closing.

4. Upgrade the bench — When a pitcher (Silver Slugger candidate Mike Leake) is one of your better hitting options on the bench, you need  better production options from your bench. Look for a candidate that could push Todd Frazier at third base this spring and would be willing to play part time if Frazier won the job. Maybe seek someone that could compete for center field with Drew Stubbs both offensively and defensively.

The free agent market doesn’t open until after the World Series…so things will be quiet for another couple of weeks. But I do not expect this to be a very quiet winter for the Reds.

22 Comments

I think the hitting philosophy as a whole needs some work — of course the pitching was phenomenal in 2012 which covered up a lot of holes… but that may not be the case moving forward. Still too many strikeouts and too much pulling the ball. I did a little research and compared the Reds’ young players with the Cardinals’, and the difference is drastic:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1370854-numbers-suggest-cincinnati-reds-organization-must-overhaul-hitting-philosophy

Hamilton may be forced into the role ready or not that does concern me as he will be our cheapest option. Replacing Stubbs really isn’t an option… it is essential. The Reds have always been great at small ball at least the times that won regularly. speed, bunting, hit and run. sacrifice flys. that sort of thing we stink at.
I just imagined Stubbs being that guy but he isn’t. He has proven for two years he isn’t clutch, has zero skill at bunting, does not have good eye for the strike zone. Give me a medicore CF and a great leadoff hitter anyday of the year instead of a good (he isn’t even great… to hear some people talk you would think he ha a closet of gold gloves) CF and a terrible hitter.
Pitching we don’t need much. broxton struggle often with us wasn’t worth the player swaps say goodbye to him. cingrani should be in the rotation and leake demoted to bench and long relief or our 7th inning/8th inning guy and let chapman close the doors.

Mark, I thought this was an option year for Arroyo – namely, the Reds had an $11,000,000 option on his services. But I see from your article, that’s not the case. Am I misinformed, a year premature or just nuts?

2013 is a guaranteed year for Arroyo, final year of his contract.

Andy by then we should be done with him. He is a junk ball pitcher as it is and has been great for us but he is getting up there in years. I can’t imagine him ever winning more than 12 games again.

Will Hamilton be given a legit shot at leadoff in ’13? It seems like even as he is learning about big-league hitting he would be an upgrade over Stubbs/Cozart at the top spot

Matthew Reed, why do you see the need for Chapman in the rotation? Finding a lights out closer isn’t easy to do and with one more year in him he is going to be even more dominate.
From the posts that I have read on Hamilton it would appear the Red’s are treating him with kid gloves and he won’t be given a chance until September call ups. That is unfortunately because the kid can not only steal bases but he can also get people in the stands and sell tickets.
If he can bunt and doesn’t strike out every other at bat he is an upgrade.
Heisey is an upgrade at CF. Not sure why he isn’t given the chance to compete more.

Oh, and Chapman HAS to be moved to the rotation. They’re going to have him for 3 more seasons…maximize them by trotting him out there every fifth day!

No way he will ever be a 20 game winner but he can win 40 games via saves. Which if you ask me in this generation of baseball your bullpen is more important than your starting pitchers.

Lmao Bullpens more important than satrting pitching? You have no clue. Why do the starters make the big bucks? Because they pitch the majority of the innings during a season.Do you think the Yankees are worried about the tigers pen? Or Verlander? lol

Funny you mention the Yankees. lets see how dominant they are without Riviera. You need starters that can give you 6 innings. 50 years ago sure I get you. But come one you give no relevance to where we are at with our bullpen? I can assure you we would not have even made the playoffs without Chapmen there. He had 2 bad streaks all lumped together. The Reds knew once they got to the 9th they had won the game. Just knowing that takes the pressure off a starter. Look at Leake. Look at his terrible stats. And yet our bullpen enabled him to win a substantial amount of games. I’ll go one further Home Bailey would not have lasted till September without a bullpen to save him. He was dreadful in the summer on only became dominant at the end of the season. Lets see who the Reds sign longterm on the pitching staff. I am willing to be it won’t be Arroyo,Bailey,Leake, or even Cueto. They don’t deserve it it is the bullpen that wins the game in the 21st century the starters job is to keep it close. I’m afraid you don’t understand the dynamics of a modern day baseball team.

Dale, I’m afraid you’re dead wrong on this. Quality starters are considered much more valuable. Look at the contacts given to free agent starters over the years

Possible. I am usually wrong on such things, but just like our years of the big red machine. It wasn’t starting pitching that made us dominate. It was great relief pitchers, small ball, and solid defense. We have 2 of those 3 elements. If we get some scrappy players on our team we are there.
I don’t think we can, could or would sign Cueto or Bailley long term. We need to be thankful for the years we have them but they’ll be Yankees as soon as their contracts are up.
So according to you it is in the Reds to take what is now a proven closer and make him a starter? I think taking the faster baseball and reducing him to use once a week isn’t as important myself for closing out 4 games a week. 4 vs. 1 makes perfect sense to me.

either way I hope that they move Leake to the bullpen and start looking for another #5 pitcher. he is way too easy to hit especially at gabp. Plus we need a left hander in the starting rotation.
one more starting pitcher, one long bullpen pitcher, 3b, and cf those are our needs not bad compared to most teams out there.

Our pitching is fine. Our offense is fine to a point. It needs to be more balanced. We have a lot of power but with that comes a lot of strikeouts. This team needs more contact hitters. Phillips cant do it all himself. The reds either need to find another contact hitter or turn someone into one. Either Cozart or Stubbs need to be told their roles. Contact first power second. Our way or the highway.

i think it is imperative to sign bailey to contract the same length as you did with cueto. Same with Latos. Pitching wins… and if Cueto had not gotten hurt… we might be having a different conversation.

I do not think we will be able to afford Ludwick… with all the tv money out there… he will three years at significant dollars.

Chapman has to start so you have to try and resign Broxton. Stubbs a disaster but I do not have the answers on how to make this work.

My comments for 2013. Pitching: Chapman should continue saving. Marshall & Hoover at setup. Finally, LeCure, Arrendondo, Masset, Leake. Starters: Cueto, Bailey, Latos, Arroyo. Cingrani (or a trade). Position: Hanighan, Votto, Phillips, Cozart, Frazier. Bruce, Ludwick, & Hamilton. Bench: Navarro, Heisey, Paul, Valdez, & Degregorious (or Rodrequez)….Broxton, Ondrusec, Bray, Simon, Cairo, Rolen, & Messoroco…all gone
More speed and better pitching.

This is by far the most logical roster alignment I have seen yet. I like the listing of gone too except you forgot Stubbs. He needs to be traded to Cardinals so we have a sure out against them when we play.

Hamilton won’t be on the team. Josh or Billy. Neither will Navarro. Broxton will probably be gone also. Mesoraco definitely will not be gone. All of those are opinions and they could be right, but the Mesoraco being gone opinion is the most wrong, he isn’t going anywhere.
Curt

Are the odds greater than 50/50 that Chapman leaves Spring Training as a Starting Pitcher?

Not sure why everyone wants to push for Chapman to be a starter. Here is the skinny. There are a ton of starters on the free agent market. There are very few quality closers on the free agent market. Chapman will get a massive pay raise even if he does work out as a starter. We could probably keep Chapman from becoming a Yankee for 3 or 4 more years by keeping him as a closer. Do you guys really think he is going to be a 20 game winner? He saved 38 games for us? Net difference is 18 games even if he does manage 20 wins. He is more valuable to us as a closer.
We have A great #1 starter in Cueto we have a good reliable #2 in Arroyo we have the best #3 in baseball in Latos, we have the best #4 in baseball with Bailey. We just need a #5 and they are a time a dozen this year. Why destroy what worked for us last year by making such an extreme change?

Don’t agree with a lot of you say Dale, but I agree with that whole statement.
Curt

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