Cueto showing leadership

On MLB.com/Reds.com, there will be a story posting soon that Johnny Cueto had a successful bullpen session Sunday morning. That clears the way for him to likely start on Tuesday at Philadelphia. Go to the web site for all the details.

Of course, the Reds are thrilled that Cueto missed only one start for right elbow stiffness, and that it wasn’t worse. Not only is his presence needed on the mound, but the three rookies in the rotation have had a good leader to follow in the ace.

“It has been, more and more so since Bronson Arroyo] left,” manager Bryan Price said of Cueto’s effort at leadership. “I think he’s kind of accepted that role. We have some really good, really good established starting pitchers that can share really good information with this young group. That includes Johnny and Homer [Bailey] and [Mike] Leake are guys that really have been here with us, they know our system, they know our expectations from a pitching standpoint and can be really good council to our younger pitchers.

Cueto, Bailey and Leake are following a leadership path blazed in recent years by both Arroyo and Aaron Harang. Both were the staff veterans that helped show younger pitchers the way to be prepared and pitch.

“I think that it’s a combination of things,” Price said. “No. 1, it’s having really good leadership from Bronson, No. 2 I think we’ve cultivated an expectation of really pitching well. We haven’t been great the last couple of years, (but) we still have the expectations of what hard work looks like. Especially out of the rotation, making sure that you’re pitching your innings and doing all of the stuff that you need to between starts to be ready to pitch those innings.”

Not said, of course, is that this could very well be the last year for both Cueto and Leake in Reds uniforms as they can be free agents at season’s end. Especially with Cueto, the young guys should soak up all they can. Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias have both made it a point to sit near him on the bench during games and Lorenzen has told me in the past that he talks to Cueto often about pitching.

5 Comments

Miss my second favorite Red Bronson, see he might be back for the Diamond Backs after the All Star break.

Too bad he won’t be here to lead after the all star break .

I appreciate what Cueto is doing, but between Price finally getting in the faces of his team after 9 losses, and now Cueto with 6 weeks left with the Reds…the word ‘timing’ comes to mind. Especially for Price; his job is to incite riot in the hearts of his players. The good news is that they look like a completely different team; determined and chippy (chips on shoulders). The bad news is that if they play .600%+ ball through and to the all-star break we may just have the making of a set team; Castellini will really be challenged on his next move…starting with a decision on Cueto, although I continue to believe that that decision has been made. The last three days was a pleasure to watch and I cannot believe this Reds team was playing in the 7th and 8th innings, both BP and OFF. Instead of talking through the media to his team, Price may have learned to go ‘eye ball to eye ball’; always worked better in the past regardless of the business. However, with all that said, I congratulate Price for doing what should have been done 1 year and 49 games ago. He is decisively changing the BP pitchers when they wobble, has pretty much stuck to the lineup (sans 2nd for awhile) and look what’s happened…the team responded in spades by beating a very tough team. Of course, they sent messages back and forth by hitting numerous players, but they are trying to not only act tough, but be tough. Now we have several games with less than .500 teams; the results will pretty much tell where we are and if we have the faint heartbeat of a competitor.

These 3 games reminded me of the June run last year before the AS break. Also, loved watching the kids pitch.

From MLBTR:

Cueto’s Agent Discusses Trade Possibility

By Steve Adams [June 1, 2015 at 8:51am CDT]

The Reds are five games below the .500 mark and currently sit 10.5 games back in the NL Central — a poor start that has many anticipating that the Reds will be sellers come the trade deadline. Bryce Dixon, the agent for Johnny Cueto, tells MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden that while the team hasn’t indicated they’re ready or willing to trade Cueto, that scenario is probably the most reasonable for the team, barring a turnaround. Says Dixon (audio link):

“They’ve made no indications to Johnny that they want to trade him, but reading the tea leaves, if they fall out of contention, it seems to make sense from their end. If they ride the season out with him and don’t make the playoffs, then they’re stuck with a compensation pick. And, from where I sit, I think they can probably get more than that on the trade market.”

Dixon has somewhat of a biased point of view, as a trade would make Cueto ineligible for a qualifying offer and strengthen his upcoming free agent stock to an extent. Cueto, however, is the type of free agent that will be so highly sought after that the qualifying offer has a relatively negligible impact on his stock; a club willing to shell out $150MM+ for a player is not likely to be overly swayed by the potential loss of a draft pick.

Cueto currently sits at No. 3 on MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, but as Tim Dierkes noted on that list, there’s an argument to be made that Cueto is actually a better pitcher than David Price, who currently ranks second. While Cueto’s injury-shortened 2013 season — he threw just 60 2/3 innings — is an unquestionable strike against him, he topped 200 innings in 2012 and led the NL with 243 2/3 innings last season. Dating back to 2011, Cueto has an incredible 2.53 ERA, and his K/9 rate has increased from 6.0 in 2011 to 7.1 in 2012, 7.6 in 2013 and 8.9 in 2014. He’s at 8.3 in 2015 and has, to this point, shown the best control of any season in his career. If Cueto finishes the year with 200-plus innings and a fifth-consecutive season of a sub-3.00 ERA, he’ll at least have a claim as the market’s top free agent. Max Scherzer comparisons will be made.

I’d agree with Dixon’s assessment that the team will do better to trade Cueto than to take an extra pick at the end of next year’s first round. While Cueto is a pure rental, he’s an affordable one in terms of salary, making a reasonable $10MM in 2015. He’s also a difference-maker for any club looking to push into Wild Card contention or to bolster a likely playoff rotation. The benefit of giving Cueto the postseason starts that would otherwise go to a club’s current No. 3 or No. 4 starter is enormous, and it also allows a team to upgrade the bullpen by bumping its least effective relief pitcher for said No. 3/4 starter.

Dixon’s comments are also interesting in that they seem to indicate that he expects his client to sign with a new club this offseason. The notion that Cincinnati won’t be able to afford re-signing Cueto isn’t a new one, but it’s telling to hear Dixon eventually say that while Cueto would love to remain with the Reds, “…he’s pitched so well, that he’s going to command such a high price, that he might have priced himself out a market like Cincinnati.”

The one thing that could submarine both Cueto’s trade stock and free agent stock would be if a seemingly minor elbow ailment turns out to be more significant. Cueto missed his most recent start due to some stiffness in his right elbow, but an MRI revealed no structural damage. Via MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Cueto tossed a bullpen session yesterday and said that “every single pitch was good.” He’s slated to pitch tomorrow for the Reds, so the status of that elbow should become clear sooner rather than later.

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