Over at MiLB.com Tony Cingrani was a recent interviewee with Robert Emrich about his rise through the Reds system.  These two things jumped out to me from the interview the most:

MiLB: Some scouts think you’ll wind up in the bullpen in the Majors because they consider you a two-pitch pitcher. What would you say to that?

Cingrani: The numbers speak for themselves. Give me a chance to be a starter and we’ll see what happens. Until I fail, I should get a chance. I should be good to go next year.

MiLB.com: Do you feel your slider needs work?

Cingrani: Yeah. Everything is a work in progress — changeup, too. It’s a good enough changeup to work off my fastball. For me, my fastball gets me through everything.

My biggest concern with Cingrani has been his over reliance on his fastball. The pitch is very good, but even Justin Verlander has to throw other pitches 35% of the time.

Chris Valaika is now a Miami Marlins player, so cross him off of the list of guys who may have come back after electing free agency. After the trade that they just pulled off, he might spend the season in the Majors.

Not minor league related, but the sooner that Major League Baseball goes to automated balls and strikes call, the better. A new study suggests that Jose Molina, who could barely hit his body weight over the course of 80 games was as valuable as Giancarlo Stanton in 2012 because he is able to trick umpires into calling a large number of balls as strikes. The “it has always been a part of the game” crowd drive me crazy. Would they be ok with changing the rules of football so that Tim Tebow were allowed to be as valuable as Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? That is basically what is happening by allowing umpires to be tricked by catchers. It drives me batcrap crazy.

The Reds had a nice day in the Arizona Fall League on Tuesday.  Drew Hayes and Josh Ravin each threw a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts, while Curtis Partch threw a perfect 9th inning with 1 strikeout. At the plate Didi Gregorius went 2-4 with a HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs and a walk.

Here is an update on the Reds players who are participating in fall/winter ball:

Hargreaves, Elliott ABL 7 0 0 0 1 0 4 0 .143 .143 .143 .286
Gregorius, Didi AFL 71 3 1 1 8 6 4 2 .282 .333 .394 .728
Hamilton, Billy AFL 55 1 1 1 9 7 9 10 .273 .349 .382 .731
Lutz, Donald AFL 43 3 1 1 4 1 7 2 .395 .422 .581 1.004
Mattair, Travis AFL 32 1 0 0 3 2 10 0 .188 .250 .219 .469
Phipps, Denis DWL 45 1 1 2 10 4 11 1 .200 .288 .400 .688
Vicioso, Danny DWL 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Soto, Neftali PWL 15 0 0 0 1 2 6 0 .333 .412 .333 .745
Vidal, David PWL 8 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 .125 .125 .125 .250
Fellhauer, Josh VWL 30 2 0 0 3 5 8 1 .233 .343 .300 .643
Perez, Felix VWL 94 7 0 1 12 2 19 2 .309 .327 .415 .741
Rodriguez, Henry VWL 60 7 0 0 4 4 9 0 .300 .344 .417 .760

Crabbe, Tim AFL 1 1 0 19.0 19 3 9 11 4.26 1.47
Hayes, Drew AFL 2 0 0 14.0 13 0 8 11 4.50 1.50
Partch, Curtis AFL 0 0 1 11.2 8 2 6 12 3.86 1.20
Ravin, Josh AFL 0 1 0 10.1 10 1 2 10 6.97 1.16
Judy, Josh DWL 0 1 1 4.1 8 1 0 0 4.15 1.85
De Sousa, Jose VWL 0 0 0 0.1 1 0 0 0 27.00 3.00
Freeman, Justin VWL 1 1 2 8.1 14 0 4 8 8.64 2.16
Morillo, JR VWL 0 0 0 2.1 4 1 3 1 7.71 3.00
Parra, Jesus VWL 0 0 0 2.0 3 0 0 0 0.00 1.50
Romero, Franderlin VWL 0 0 0 1.0 2 0 0 2 9.00 2.00

33 Responses

  1. Herbie

    Having used to play catcher, when I was little I’ve always appreciated the guys who are able to use slight of hand to their advantage. Hanigan is pretty great at it. But yeah, it’s a pretty dumb part of the game.

    On Fox Sports one day, Thom and Chris were talking about a particular umpire’s correct call % and how at most, even the furthest off umps would “only” be about, something like 3% off over the course of the year. That totally floored me. That 3% is always going to be on the close calls, which really opens things up. That’s not exactly a small margin when taken into consideration.

    The fact that they use the pitch tracker for performance reviews on umps. That’s laughably bonkers. That’s like walking up to put your card in the ATM, but 5/3rd keeps a guy there, with a fanny pack full of money and a notepad to handle transactions.

    • MK

      Herbie, I disagree somewhat. With the number of balls and strikes that are called each game, 3% error mistakes is fantastic. There are 275 to 300 pitches a game and discounting foul balls that means 175-200 calls a game. If 200, that is six pitches incorrect calls per game and if you have caught you know those all are not all crucial game changing calls. I think this says the umpires are remarkably good. As an old coach it pains me to say that.

      • Herbie

        Was actually looking up some more info about ump calls and according to this article it’s much worse than just 3%. Maybe 3% was the low-line rate, not high? I don’t know. Actually mid typing this I just remembered; it wasn’t correct call percentage Welsh and Brennaman were talking about, it was just flat ball and strike call percentages compared to league average .

        Anyway, that article points out my biggest concern, that umps screw up close calls way too much, and those are the ones they’re supposed to be earning their paychecks on. Nothing against umps, but baseball shouldn’t add an unnecessary amount of human error if it doesn’t have to.

      • Jon Ryker

        Assuming some sort of baseline perfection in strike calls bears no resemblance to baseball, which is played by and umpired by humans….the fox box has an error rate itself…

      • Herbie

        Of course most anything has a given failure rate, it’s the amount that matters. If you like administrative error that’s cool. I don’t find it a compelling facet of the game, whatsoever.

      • Doug Gray

        Yes, the “trax” systems have error rates. They tap into the Pitch F/X system that Gameday uses at MLB.com. To fix this, it is rather simple…. check the system before each game. If there is a problem, calibrate the cameras.

  2. sultan of swaff

    –That dry desert air must be really messing with our pitchers out there. Way too many walks.
    –I can’t believe there isn’t a minimum team salary in MLB. It there was, the salary dump (call it a trade if you want) by Miami never would’ve happened. The fans who publicly funded that stadium should file a class action lawsuit for fraud. This stinks to the high heavens regardless of the prospects Toronto sent down (which was too little IMO).
    –Good interview with Cingrani. Nice to hear him prioritize the refinement of his slider, although you wonder if that curve he abandoned in college would be a better pitch, that he would have more of a feel for it.
    —I don’t buy the notion that catchers get calls by framing. Rather, I think their setup and positiong help put the umps in a better position to make the call. For me, it all went to hell when umps stopped wearing the big chest protector. Instead of setting up directly behind the center of home plate, now umps essentially hide behind the catcher, making them extremely susceptible to parallax. I’m not saying I want the cameras just yet (they need a bit more refinement in certain ballparks), but absent a willingness by umps to set up properly, it’s the better option.

    • Doug Gray

      Re: Walks

      It is interesting that the guy who struggled with walks the most in the regular season, Ravin, has an outstanding walk rate out there.

      Re: Catcher framing

      I have seen studies using this same kind of data that then went back and looked at the catchers via video. Most of the time it was a matter of head movement or hand movement that made the difference.

  3. Beard

    Doug I agree it is absurd that MLB will not use an automated system for balls and strikes. With approximately 250-300 pitches thrown in a game, there are probably 50 close calls that can obviously have a major impact on the game itself (ask Mat Latos).

    They have the technology to make the changes. The question becomes who is for it and who is against it? What do the owners think? What does the players union think? I’m pretty sure we know the umpires union will oppose it.

    I suspect it is not a question of if, but when. However, I’m not certain that when will be in my expected lifetime of 30-40 years.

    • Alan Horn

      I agree Beard. How would it work? The computer zone could handle across the plate(if the ball enters that area). The high/low would be more difficult since it would vary from player to player. I guess the players could have some type of detectable strips( at the letters and below the knee) made into their uniforms. If the ball enters the plane between the high and low strips plus being across the plate, it would be a strike. I forgot to add that the plate zone could be built into home plate.
      Home plate would have to remain perfectly level as the zone would extend up at 90 degrees at all points at the outer edges of home plate.

  4. MK

    Peoria has a 2-game magic number. Could see the Reds prospects on MLB-TV Saturday if they can hold on.

  5. Alan Horn

    I see where the Reds are interested in Shane Victorino(MLBtraderumors.com).
    That makes sense. Sign him to a 1-2 year contract. Alternate him in CF with Stubbs or Heisey. Wait for Hamilton. Sign Ludwick for LF. The other variable is getting a closer so Chapman can give starting a shot.

  6. Joe

    Sultan, you want the umpire to set up properly? Every game I watch they are setting up properly… in the slot. The slot is the area between the shoulder of the catcher on the batters side and the batter with the umpiure set in a position to watch the inside edge of the plate. I’ve worked games with the outside protector and the traditional inside the shirt protector in my 20 years of umpiring and I can call a better game without the big, hand/arm held outside protector.

    And let me tell you, when you take a foul tip from a 90+ fastball, it has some hurt and sting to it. my hats off to the gentlemen that can stand back there and call the game and when it’s all said and done, they’ve done one hell of a great job.

    • Doug Gray

      They do a good job, but we have something that can do a better job. Use it.

    • sultan of swaff

      Does an ump get a good look at a pitch on the other corner when he sets up over the catcher? Impossible. And besides, how many pitchers routinely hit their spots at the lower levels?? Almost none.

  7. Alpha Zero

    What do you guys think about picking up Logan Morrison now that the Marlins are in full firesale mode? He was not very good last year, but he’s still just 25 and was about an .800 OPS guy prior to that. He knows how to take a walk and wouldn’t require the Reds to fork over the farm.

    • Jasonp

      I liked what I heard about him when he first came up but I haven’t liked anything sense. Career 250 hitter so far. He is big to around 250 lbs. Not sure if he will be able to stay in the outfield or if he is going to have to be moved to first. Some attitude problems last few years and last year at lease he hit worse when people got on base. 190 with people on base and 160 with people in scoring average. Just not sure if he would help us out a lot. Left handed hitter.

    • RobL

      He is still cheap and the Marlins do have to actually field a team to collect their revenue sharing money. He stays. Bad karma dealing with the Marlins right now.

      • Cbus

        Wonder if they’d trade Stanton now that he seems upset…I’d give up Chapman for him.

      • RobL

        Not until he gets a year or two from free agency. Again, I think they are obligated to spend a certain amount of money. But, if we still had Yonder and Yasmani, we could send them the three Cubans. That would have to be tempting… Actually, I think they have given up on trying to put anybody in the seats.

  8. Stock

    I guess this ends the discussion on weather or not the catcher plays a role in the effetiveness of the pitcher.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t know that it was ever in debate. It was more about “how much”. Over 200 innings, the absolute best catcher is worth about 0.50 off of the ERA. While that is a difference, that isn’t the difference between good and bad. A good pitcher is still going to be pretty darn good. A bad one is still going to be pretty bad.

      • Stock

        That is huge. A 0.5 improvement in ERA over the course of a season equates to 81 runs. This equates to 8 more wins. This is higher than Joey Votto’s WAR in 2010. This is more than Jay Bruce’s war the last two years combined.

      • Doug Gray

        It is huge, but catchers aren’t catching every inning of every game. But yeah, all the more reason the rules should be called as the rulebook states and not because some guys are good at tricking the umpires.

  9. Dan D

    seen a rumor from John Erardi that Detroit is interested in Cozart and would be offering Andy Dirks and Phil Coke, what do you think?

    • Doug Gray

      A platoon player and a league average reliever. I will pass.

  10. AdamL

    Hey Doug,
    I’m sorry I missed the question day, I was busy getting engaged, and I am happy to share with my internet family that she said yes, but I have been a big fan of Dexter Fowler’s and am wondering what kind of package you think would get him here? Are the Rockies willing to part with him?

    • Doug Gray

      Big time congrats there!

      Fowler has clearly been a stronger hitter at home than on the road, so you need to be wary of that. With that said, I would love to acquire him as well. I think the Rockies would be open to moving him, but I honestly don’t know what the price would be. He has three years left before he is a free agent, so you would probably have to give up a decent package.