Aroldis Chapman’s back doesn’t seem to be all that serious. Today he went to get his Social Security card before returning to the team. Hopefully its a good sign of things to come as far as his back goes.

Speaking of Chapman, Baseball Daily Digest takes a look at our Cuban phenom. The writer believes its best for Chapman to head to Louisville for a few months and then arrive in Cincinnati. I agree and wouldn’t be beyond sending him to AA even, just to let him work on things in a much less stressful environment.

I heard that last years draft pick Derrick Lowery has been converted to a pitcher recently after spending time last season as a first baseman. He did pitch one inning for the GCL Reds last season. The Reds seem to have plenty of former position players that are now pitching in the system. Lowery joins Mike Konstanty, Jerry Gil, Josh Roenicke and Carlos Fisher as former position guys turned pitcher to come through the system.

Matt Maloney had a good game down down in the minor league game for Louisville as he struck out 6 batters in 3.2 scoreless innings. He allowed 3 unearned runs and 6 hits, but he did his job.

I ran my Reds projections for the team last night for roughly 20 players, then just a generic bench comprising of 800 at bats of a .650 OPS (not counting pitchers who were accounted for separately). My team projected to score 776 runs and allow 730 runs, which ideally would give them an 86-76 record on the season.  I see the bullpen taking a step back a little bit, but the rotation taking a little bit of a step forward overall and remaining roughly the same as a whole. The hitting I had taking giant leaps forward though. Here are the stats I had for the guys:

Pitchers IP ERA
Aaron Harang 200 3.95
Homer Bailey 195 3.75
Bronson Arroyo 210 4.35
Johnny Cueto 185 4.15
Matt Maloney 110 4.75
Nick Masset 60 3.50
Aroldis Chapman 100 4.00
Danny Herrera 65 3.95
Francisco Cordero 65 3.00
Jared Burton 55 4.25
Hitters At Bats OBP SLG
Ramon Hernandez 400 .330 .440
Ryan Hanigan 200 .360 .350
Joey Votto 525 .370 .500
Brandon Phillips 575 .340 .450
Scott Rolen 500 .360 .425
Orlando Cabrera 575 .330 .385
Drew Stubbs 525 .345 .425
Chris Dickerson 300 .350 .400
Jonny Gomes 300 .325 .500
Jay Bruce 525 .355 .535

What do you guys think? Am I completely wrong on someone? I clearly see Homer and Jay breaking out this season, while Votto comes back down to Earth somewhat (though mainly its his BABIP, not his skillset I see coming back to Earth). If the Reds can get another break out to go along with those two they may have a shot to take the Central.

Tonight also kicks off the Sweet 16. Should be fun. For the record, I am currently tied for first in our little bracket challenge, though unlike the other person tied for first, my champion is still in the tournament.

68 Responses

  1. KyWilson1

    I see Votto falling back to earth a little to, maybe a .300avg .360obp 25hr line, but i think he puts put a 100+ rbi season this year. Bruce really needs to stay healthy because if he does he is at the age that he should break out. A full year in the bigs, he should be ready. As far as the pen goes, i really think Burton will have a strong year and be the main 7th inning guy, mixed with Herera.

    CATS roll Cornell tonight, 92-74!

  2. Foxbud

    Things seem to be coming into focus a bit more so I thought I’d take a stab at the players making the 25 man roster.

    Votto, Phillips, Cabrera, Rolen, Hernandez, Hanigan, Bruce, Stubbs, Dickerson, Gomes, Balentien, Janish, Francisco, (one of Sutton, Burke, Cairo, and Miles… (I lean toward Sutton now)

    Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Bailey

    Cordero, Rhodes, Masset, Herrera, Burton, Lincoln, Owings

    I think I lean toward 11 pitchers for the first week, keeping Francisco on the bench until the 5th starter is needed. (It won’t hurt to have him come off the bench for a week.) Then come April 11, he can be sent down and a fifth starter can be named. With Owings and Lincoln stretched out, bullpen depth should not be an issue that first week and it gives some time for Fisher to condition, Chapman to heal etc.

    Bottom line is I think they delay naming a fifth starter until after they start playing the season out. Thoughts?

    • Alan Horn

      I agree on Sutton and Francisco(as well at the others). I don’t want Francisco to come up unless he is going to play often. He is at the stage of his
      career where he doesn’t need to sit on the bench.
      He has some issues that can be ironed out and that can only be done on the playing field. AAA is the best option for him right now for that reason. An injury or lack of production from someone could change my outlook rather quickly. i.e., I would be willing to let him attempt to iron them out at the ML level under the right circumstances(an injury or lack of production from Rolen).

      • Alan Horn

        I might add injuries or a lack of production(hitting) in LF or 1B
        (which I think is less likely to happen).

      • Foxbud

        I agree that you want Francisco to play everyday. But given he is bound to come up this year at times, there is no harm having him on the bench for a week to start the season. He pinch hits once per game and goes 1 for 4 before he is sent down. That may be a game winner. I just don’t need think they need that #5 starter on the team to start the year.

      • Alan Horn

        While that can’t do much harm(it would be a slight reward for Francisco’s good spring with the bat), it would delay for a week the work he
        needs on his weaknesses. I agree about the 5th
        starter. Nix has done ok and could be the LH bat off the bench. I prefer to get Francisco fast tracked for full time duty as soon as possible(if he indeed does conquer his weaknesses).

      • Foxbud

        Just so you know where I am coming from, I have stated before on this site that I believe Francisco might actually learn that lesson better in the majors. I guy who sits in the middle of the line up on a highly regarding Dominican team for 2 years in a row may be feeling AAA is a step down. His bat speed can overcome a lot at the AAA level. He needs to get picked apart by MLB pitchers. I don’t think he’s lacking in confidence. He can take it.

      • Doug Gray

        I think AAA pitchers will pick him apart in the long run. They owned him at times last season, though when they missed he made them pay. I think he could have some long slumps in AAA that could make him reevaluate himself this year if he doesn’t improve his approach.

      • Alan Horn

        I think it needs to happen before we pass judgement. I agree he needs more time at
        AAA to work on some things. The thing I see is no one has picked him apart yet(doesn’t mean it won’t happen). It has
        been high A, AA , AAA, a short stint in the majors last season, winter ball and now spring training. If pitching him away from the plate would get him out consistently, you would think some of the pitchers would have picked up on that by now. Apparently, the Reds think he is going to be ok. They called him up late last season and he is the only one of the youngters still up in spring training. All I’m saying is let’s let him fail before we call that shot. Otherwise, it’s
        being totally unfair to Francisco. All he has done is hit thus far. To say no one has every made it with his stats before isn’t totally correct. That is making the assumption that a 22 year old won’t ever be able to improve his stats.
        Granted if he continues to put up the same K/bb ratio for example, he won’t make it. Whose to say he won’t get more selective? We should wait and see if he improves or not instead of automatically assuming he won’t. Things like hitting, fielding, base running etc. can be improved. Things like foot speed and arm speed cannot(at least not enough to matter). I say let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for the near future.

      • Doug Gray

        I watched him in AAA last season. He was picked apart at times. He only had 100 at bats, so it didn’t show up as much. But he was indeed picked apart at the AAA level last season.

        As for his stats….. unless he goes to AAA this year and does something like 50 strikeouts and 100 walks, his K/BB for his MILB career will still be beyond the ‘never happened before’ threshold.

        He certainly gets the benefit of the doubt in terms of development, but he has very limited time to make big strides.

      • Alan Horn

        I see what you are saying. I have never seen him in person. It’s just hard for me to get down on him yet. He is tied for the lead this spring in HRs and among the leaders in hitting. Again, I see what you are saying. I remember Pena came up and hit like 25 hrs his first full year and really didn’t do much after that. He could well do the same, but it isn’t a given. The biggest thing I see right now is that he hits and the other youngsters don’t yet at the ML level. It could be that they just aren’t ready yet or they may never hit as expected. We don’t know yet. Time will tell the story as it plays out. As each time a player moves up a level, it could be their waterloo. Francisco is the only one of the young hitters that has hit thus far at the major league level including ST. That’s worth some value at this point. Time will tell if the others can hit at the next level(temporarily or long term). We don’t know if they can do either at this point because they haven’t had a long enough trial. Francisco has hit at the ML level in 2 short trials. So at least in my mind, he is ahead of the others at this point hitting wise until his performance dictates otherwise.

      • Doug Gray

        Or maybe its that we are dealing with 12 at bats in March as to why some guys hit and some guys don’t. I am sure if I wanted to find a stretch of 30 at bats Sean Henry would have looked like Albert Pujols and Juan Francisco like Willy Taveras. When dealing with such a small sample size, there shouldn’t be much of anything taken from it. Given that we know that Francisco ‘hit’ in the majors and his BABIP was over twice the league average, it means absolutely nothing. Same thing applies for what he did in AAA. His BABIP was .444. Won’t hold. His career BABIP is around .320 in the minors. He didn’t just get to AAA and find some magic pill to take that lead to his BABIP going up 50% in AAA and 100% in the majors. Its going to catch up to him and when it does, he is a .285/.320/.500 hitter in the minors without a change in his approach.

      • Alan Horn

        The software didn’t allow a reply to your immediate post below, so I got it to plug in here.
        So what you are saying is we should expect Francisco to turn into a toad hitting wise at some point this season at AAA. I would have to disagree with that(at least until I see it happen). I believe players do all of a sudden get a light to turn on and make drastic turn arounds. I have seen players at that age (college) go from a .220 hitter to around a .440 hitter in a matter of a year. It’s not common, but it happens more than you think. Francisco hasn’t had a prolonged regression with the bat in a while which leads me to believe he may have turned the corner(at least somewhat). He must be the most lucky person in the world because he has gone from high A to the majors, winter ball and back to spring training without much of a hiccup. Just look at what is going on today with the hitting. I’m frankly starting to have serious doubts about our hitting(I know it’s early but….) as well as Harang(I think his better days are long gone). I’m beginning to be of the mind to run
        Francisco out there until he shows he can’t do it. What are Votto, Phillips and Rolen doing with the bat? What can it hurt? Unless we start to looking better(hitting), I’m worried we won’t get near .500 in 2010. I wonder if they will go a whole season of this kind of play before they go with the youth. We have about 2 more weeks of ST. Those 3 are the heart of the order. If they don’t go, the Reds don’t go. It’s that simple. Votto has 2 walks thus far today, but wait… he is only hitting .167 which by the way looks great compared to Phillips’s average. Chipper Jones with the Braves is already in mid season form and he is close to drawing a social security check. It’s past time they start hitting if they are going to at all.

      • Doug Gray

        I am saying if he doesn’t adjust his plate approach he won’t OPS .850 over a full season in AAA.

        I think you are reading way too much into ST numbers here. They absolutely have no correlation to the regular season. They have 1 weeks worth of at bats if this were a regular season. One week.

      • Alan Horn

        There is a pattern developing I think. We will see how it looks in a couple of months. I don’t remember Votto ever starting this slowly. My lack of confidence in Harang goes back prior to last season. I just don’t believe he will bring much to the table this season. Rolen hit .260 for the Reds after hitting over .300 for Toronto. He looks more like a .250 hitter at this stage of his career to me. Phillips is a late starter if I remember correctly with an attitude problem.
        At any rate, between them(which is the heart of the order), it is a lot of money which thus far has done basically nothing. I’m too old to watch a whole season of this. Fans want to knock folks who are hitting like Stubbs, Francisco and Gomes. I still say we should be building for 2011 with the youth. We will see where we are in a couple of months. It might not be but a weeks worth of true at bats but they have been out there working out for close to a month. They should have been working out in the off season also. I’m 61 and can get into shape quicker than that. In fact, I took batting practice this past weekend.

      • Alan Horn

        Who is West? He subbed for Votto and went 2 for 2.

      • Robert Anderson

        Doug do you see Sean Conner playing in Dayton

      • Doug Gray

        I just talked to some people and if Conner is in Dayton its not looking like he will be a starter.

      • Alan Horn

        I don’t think he would get on the field enough. He probably would get picked apart and take a confidence hit in the limited ABs
        he would get. Repetition helps breed confidence and success. Now, if someone goes down at any of the 3 positions mentioned above, I would agree on bringing him up until he proved otherwise. That would be giving him a fair shot. Destroying a player’s confidence is one of the cardinal sins of coaching. Not rushing him can’t hurt.

    • stew

      While Miles has shown nothing this spring, do you think they will really release him and eat that salary? Also, when the time comes who do you think the 5th starter will be? I agree that they may wait to have that guy on the roster to hopefully get him some more innings in a minor league game.

      • Alan Horn

        It’s just my opinion, but I think they should. You
        should never keep someone because of what you are paying them. The only way I would consider it is if the two players are pretty close in production. It was Miles or Traveras’s salary and Miles(eating his salary) is the lessor of two evils. The other consideration is Miles(like Rolen) is a Jocketty favorite(a 2nd consideration along with the amount of money being paid).

      • Foxbud

        If Sutton has options, then I think they could argue that he needs to play everyday and use it against him to keep Miles. But Sutton has clearly won the job on merit so far. Either way, this is the 25th man and the differences in the team will not be greatly affected either way given the small amount of playing time. Remember, Cabrera and Phillips do not sit much. With Janish as a defensive replacement, you are mainly looking at a pinch -hitter.

      • Alan Horn

        I agree. They will probably keep Miles, but Sutton has earned it. On the surface, the best
        man should win out, but that’s not the way it
        works sometimes.

      • MK

        I am not sure what Sutton can learn at AAA. He was the Astros Minor League Player of the Year 2 years ago and had an OK year in AAA last year while fighting illness. I think he can do nothing but go backwards mentally by another demotion.

        I remember Miles with the Cardinals and don’t remember him as heavy as he looks in a Reds unifrom.

      • Kinsm

        Sutton is vastly overrated, he had one good minor league season for the crappy Astros system and was bumped to their #8 prospect. If he doesn’t make the team he should be traded, between Frazier/Valaika/Cozart and others in AAA he’ll have no where to play there either.

      • Doug Gray

        John Fay showed today that the only two players who line up for the April 11th spot are Mike Leake and Travis Wood and that no one else is scheduled to pitch more than 3 innings moving forward other than those two guys.

      • Alan Horn

        Wood is probably more ready right now. I still don’t understand why they have abandoned Maloney. We have plenty of candidates, so it shouldn’t be a huge problem.

      • broadwaydave

        i don’t think they have completely ruled out maloney. According to fay, there has yet to be a starter named for monday’s game. maloney pitched 3 and 2/3 yesterday in a minor league game. that lines him up to pitch again on monday. could be they’re going to give him one more shot at it. i hope so. he deserves more of a chance than he’s been given so far.

      • Kinsm

        Monday’s starter is Bailey, Maloney is headed back to AAA.

  3. stew

    Doug, I like your projections and hope that is in fact how they play. But your projections are far more optimistic than some others I have seen. On what do you base your optimism or why are others a little more pessimistic?

  4. Rick D in Chicago

    Doug, what’s your long term take on Cueto? Will he max out as 3-4 pitcher with an occasional great year? Should he be moved to a closer role? Bailey and Chapman have top of the rotation potential, as did Volquez. Leake also has some great potential. Could/Should Cueto be expendable?

    • Doug Gray

      I think it depends on his durability. I have talked about it in the past, but last year his slider fell apart as the season went along and as it fell, so did his numbers. If he can’t make it a full season with similar stuff, he could be expendable. But I think its too early to make that determination. I would like to see what he does this season.

      • Alan Horn

        Cueto and Burton are the two pitchers I don’t have a clear opinion on right now. I would like to see both become more consistent.

  5. Steve M.

    Why do you think Orlando Cabrera will surpass his career OBP at this age, especially when he showed signs of decline in that area last year?

    Your ERA projection for Homer is optimistic, and while I consider it possible for him this year (hope … hope … hope …) I don’t see below 4.00 as likely.

    Otherwise your projections seem pretty solid. Your optimism about Jay Bruce is balanced by your pessimism for Votto.

    • Doug Gray

      Cabrera gets a little help from moving to the weaker league and to a hitters park. With Homer, I admit its very optimistic, but I really like what I see.

    • broadwaydave

      this is based on absolutely nothing scientific (in that i believe that past statistics don’t always work well as an indicator of the future) but i’ve got a feeling that not only is homer’s era going to be under 4.00 but it could be very, very close to 3.00. the kid’s getting ready to bust out.

  6. stew

    So, Fay has made the deduction (based on pithing schedule) that the 5th starter is down to Wood or Leake. Based on his logic, it has to be Wood, right? They wouldn’t put Leake in the majors with no minor league exoperience. It is intersting that neither Maloney or Chapman are on the schedule. It seems like it would also be easy to use Owings as a back-up plan if either falter (again based purely on the schedule).

  7. Kyle

    Would you read anything into Leake starting against the major leaguers and Wood relieving against minor league substitutions?

      • Doug Gray

        Just going off of what Fay posted – Tomorrow vs. the Mariners: Leake will start and go four, followed by four from Wood and one from Kip Wells. Maybe Fay had it wrong.

    • stan

      Wood started and Leake relieved last week, now it’s reverse tomorrow.

  8. RedBlooded

    By my calculation there are 2 and a half weeks between now and April 11. A lot can happen in that time. That’s about three starts or appearances for all the pitchers. I still think Maloney is a possibility as is Lehr. A couple of strong outings by one or the other and the picture clouds up again. And the I would rather see Wood, Chapman and Leake settle in somewhere where they can get regular work and establish a solid routine. I don’t think Francisco is ready for the major leagues. He too needs to play regularly and there is plenty to work on.

      • Kyle

        But Justin Lehr is not scheduled to get any starts in before Opening Day. It is at the point where the Reds need to line things up for the regular season. Matt Maloney started yesterday in the minors so he is off of the start schedule for the 11th. Leake and Wood could get regular work in Cincinnati and I really do think the race is between them now.

      • Rick D in Chicago

        Lehr strikes me as the kind of guy that can adjust to the team’s pitching schedule in a pinch.

    • Kinsm

      According to CTRENT, Lehr has been told he is fighting for a bullpen spot.

  9. Alan Horn

    I don’t think a schedule has ever worried them too much as far as the 5th starter involving off days(as long as they have the minimum days of rest). Too many days between starts doesn’t seem to worry them.

  10. Joe

    C. Trent interviewed Price and Price said the 5th spot in the rotation is between Wood, Chapman and Leake. Lehr has been told he is fighting for a bullpen spot. I assume with the obmission of his name, the same is true for Maloney. I would think Wood has the inside track as Chapman won’t have is innings up because of his back and Leake has never pitched professional baseball. Good to see the Reds using the 5th position for a young pitcher.

  11. Jay-All

    If its down to Wood and Leake and Wood beats out Leake, does Leake go to AAA instead of AA where everyone thought he would go?

    • Doug Gray

      Tough question. The Reds had stated Leake would go to AA, which is why everyone thought he would be going there.

    • Joe

      I don’t think anyone could have expected Leake to pitch as good as he has and the Reds said Leake would go to AA before ST. My bet is if Maloney goes to the pen vs Louisville, Leake will start in AAA. Between long relief, AAA and being released, it will be interesting to see what happens with Owings, Lincoln and Maloney. Lincoln is the only one of the 3 without options.

      • Beard

        If they really are serious about the best option for the team I would think that cutting loose of Lincoln is the best way to go. Owings (with bat and history as a starter) and Maloney (as a lefty and history as a starter) provide more flexibility for the Reds. They can both go longer in games than Lincoln and they both have other assets (Owings’ bat and Maloney’s left-handedness) that make the Reds better overall.

      • Krozley

        I think Miles and Lincoln go northeast with the team, but I would have them on short leashes knowing we have other options to choose from. I think Lincoln could be okay now that he’s back in the pen.

  12. alankirkendall

    Couldn’t they pass over the fifth starter the first time around with the off day? That would mean the fifth starter isn’t needed until April 14.

    • Doug Gray

      In order to keep the 2nd-4th starter throwing on normal rest, short of a rain out, the Reds need a #5 on the 11th.

  13. wanderinredsfan

    Just got back from Goodyear. Five quick observations:

    1. Bailey and Bruce look great. If spring training is any indicator, they could have huge seasons.

    2. Juan Duran absolutely stings the ball when he’s in BP. Hardest hit balls of all players I witnessed, including Bruce, Gomes, and the like. If he can consistently make contact, he’s going to rocket up the prospect charts.

    3. Chapman seemed a bit distraught and a little reclusive in the days following his injury. He appears to be struggling with life outside of baseball, especially evident during a long texting session. I worry and hope the Reds are cognizant of the enormity of his cultural and emotional adjustment to America.

    4. Daniel Ray Herrera’s stuff is nasty. That is all.

    5. The facilities are top-notch, and it is an absolute ball observing and intermingling with all the players. The practice fields are an amazing set-up for all prospect-philes.

    • Doug Gray

      Good to hear about Duran. The reports I have are that he can absolutely put on a real show in BP, but in the games he struggles to hit for the same type of power.

      • Doug Gray

        I imagine Duran since he said he would rocket up the prospect charts, while Francisco is already near the top.

  14. Kinsm

    Doug, I did my own projections not long ago (I predict 81-81), as a comparison yours are more optimistic (especially Bailey and Bruce).

    My Projections:
    Hitter ABs OBP SLG
    Ramon Hernandez 404 .316 .406
    Ryan Hanigan 258 .347 .364
    Joey Votto 525 .381 .528
    Brandon Phillips 578 .319 .453
    Scott Rolen 456 .339 .436
    Orlando Cabrera 615 .329 .386
    Drew Stubbs 436 .338 .401
    Chris Dickerson 309 .353 .398
    Jonny Gomes 340 .332 .497
    Jay Bruce 509 .327 .490

    Pitchers IP ERA
    Aaron Harang 191 4.23
    Homer Bailey 154 4.73
    Bronson Arroyo 210 4.23
    Johnny Cueto 173 4.47
    Matt Maloney 120 4.85

    • Doug Gray

      Pretty large step back for Bailey. Why do you see that happening?

      • wanderinredsfan

        Yeah, that seems like a pretty bogus prediction. It wouldn’t surprise me if Harang, Bailey, Cueto, and Arroyo all come close to 200 IP with ERAs under 4.00.

      • Kinsm

        Not sure how it’s considered a step backwards (more like a step forward), if you take away his 4 starts at the end of the year against the lowly AA Pirates Bailey’s ERA for the year was 5.22 and his WHIP (minus those 4 starts) was 1.50.

        It’s in line with Bill James, Chone, Marcel, and Zips projections.

        Sorry but I’m not sold yet; he’s still got a lot to prove.

      • Doug Gray

        All of those projections are based on numbers in the past. Not a single system actually saw him pitch. As for the Pirates, unless they left baseball, he will still get to pitch against them.