Wednesday news and notes Doug Gray February 13, 2013 49 Comments Prospect News The Reds have converted Stephen Hunt to a pitcher. Hunt hit .262/.335/.385 since being drafted in the 15th round of 2010. He has made four appearances as a pitcher to this point in his career throwing 4 innings with 4 strikeouts, 6 walks and an ERA of 11.25. Billy Hamilton is among several position players in camp early, but so far, the only prospect in camp who isn’t supposed to be there yet (in big league camp that is). The Reds announced a signing of an 18-year-old Australian pitcher named Dakota Mitchell. He is a 6′ 1″ right handed pitcher who weighs 185 lbs. Left hander Ismael Guillon is not yet in camp. He had some problems with his VISA in Venezuela. Other News The Cincinnati Enquirer has up a photo gallery from Arizona. How great is it to see baseball again? Fangraphs writer Steve Staudenmayer has up an interesting article right now that looks at how we adjust linear weight values based on different environments that players find themselves in. In the article he looks at the different values of outcomes based on home parks (home runs are more valuable in some places than others) or in certain line ups (where a walk is more valuable in some line ups than others). But it got me to thinking about just how valuable a guy like Billy Hamilton could be, where the normal values we apply to plays don’t really work for a player like him. Linear weights give a play credit for X value based on what that type of play has been worth, in runs, throughout a given time period (depending where you look, it may be 3 seasons, 5 seasons, 10 seasons or 25 seasons). His baserunning, and not just his steals, will be incredibly interesting to follow when it comes to this kind of stuff. I wrote the Cincinnati Reds season preview as well as their prospect outlook for Big Leagues Magazine’s 2013 Season Preview. The magazine is online based and does cost money, but if it is something that you might be interested in, check it out. 49 Responses sultan of swaff February 13, 2013 Heisey for Stubbs straight up. Any takers? :) Doug Gray February 13, 2013 Interestingly enough, for 2013, I would pass. However, 2014 may be different, depending on what Hamilton can do at AAA. Jon Ryker February 13, 2013 I’d make that trade right now. MK February 13, 2013 So we would take our best right handed hitter off the bench and trade him for a giy who can not hit when getting four at bats a game let alone 4 or 5 a week. Just what role would he play? Alan Horn February 13, 2013 I will pass. Won’t miss the strikeouts. On another note, Rolen is not coming back(at least for now). Things are starting to shake out in the right way. Hopefully, this is a trend through spring training and the season(especially with injuries). It appears Rolen will only come back if needed(later). Wasn’t Hunt the one who hit well in Bakersfield a few years ago and hasn’t done much since? Doug Gray February 13, 2013 Yeah, Hunt hit incredibly well in Bakersfield for about the first 8-10 weeks, then has struggled since. foxbud February 13, 2013 Doug, what was your take on Rolen? Mine is that the amount off playing time and salary rellypaed into his decision. My guess he waits out Spring to see if any starting jobs open up via injury on contending teams. He could wait all the way through June to see if the Reds need him. This could be a very old topic by year’s end. Who leads Reds minors in HR’s this season and will that season be enough to get excited about? Rank 1 2 ad 3 Reds bullpen prospects by season’s end. Doug Gray February 13, 2013 I think that the lack of playing time is the sole reason Rolen isn’t a Red. He wants to play his 70% and the Reds were offering him 25%. Reds minors HR leader: Lutz or Mattair. Friendly park + actual power gets them the nod over a guy like Soto who has the power, but LSF plays pitcher friendly, especially on home runs. Tough to say on the bullpen guys. A whole lot could happen. Some guys will be in the bullpen that we don’t even know about yet as relievers. CMT February 13, 2013 With Rolen officially not coming back, I think Walt has “Dusty-proofed” the lineup just about as much as possible. I say that half-jokingly, but in all reality, barring injuries, this lineup seems to finally write itself in a way that joins common sense and Dusty’s preferences together. That’s really important, because there are aspects of being a manager that Dusty really excels at, and aspects that he doesn’t, and Walt has pretty much removed one of the major things in the latter column. I don’t think I’ve been as excited for a Reds season going into spring training in my lifetime (not old enough for the Big Red Machine days, but pretty much from the late 80s on). Doug Gray February 13, 2013 It really is a shame that a GM has to “manager proof” his roster so the manager doesn’t screw it up. But, I think you are right. This roster is built to suit everything Dusty wants out of his hitters. jim t February 13, 2013 If Dusty can get us to 97 wins again I’ll take that. We were 1 game from the NLCS. Bad play is why we didn’t win and advance. Been to the playoffs 2 out of the last 3 years. Ending quite a dry spell in playoff appearanes along with a long line of under 500 seasons. I’m glad we got Dusty. I’m sure if he wins it will be in spite of his abilities. Also Doug many a front officce and field managers have differences of opinion. The fact that they overcome them and utilize each others strengths is what makes for a stong management team. Shame many can’t recognize that fact. CMT February 13, 2013 To be perfectly honest, I think this is the first season where I am honestly happy to have Dusty as well. I recognize that he seems to have some very positive strengths as a manager. In years past, I just couldn’t look past how maddening some of his lineup/playing time decisions were to appreciate other things as much as maybe I should have. With this team, I really don’t anticipate those decisions conflicting much with how I would like them to be, and that is exciting. It will allow me, hopefully, to appreciate the winning more, if that makes any sense. Doug Gray February 13, 2013 I will take a slew of managers over Dusty. But, in general, baseball managers still aren’t all that good at building line ups to truly taking advantage of situations. One day, fewer and fewer former players will be handed the reins and more analytical types will be managers, while the coaches will be the teachers and the manager is the guy who figures out what is best to work in a given situation. Jon Ryker February 13, 2013 So, people who don’t play but have dabbled in stats on the side are more qualified to make lineups? Come on, Doug! Doug Gray February 13, 2013 Absolutely. People who are strategic > baseball players, when it comes to filling out a line up card, managing bullpens and situations. Give me the guy who studied stats in college versus the guy who never went to college every day of the week when it comes to those things (and most baseball players never graduated college. There are less than 30 Major Leaguers playing right now that are college graduates). Former players are among the most universally laughed at and mocked announcers/”analysts” around because they don’t know what they are talking about. Just because Joe Morgan understood how to play the game and was great at it doesn’t mean that he is any good at telling me why someone is or isn’t good, or how good that person is, or what a good line up should be, or how to best utilize the bullpen against the Phillies or Cardinals or Padres. I don’t want the guy who played 40 years ago who was taught things by someone who was outdated at his job then doing the same things. I want the guy who is out there critically thinking about what is best. You can call me crazy if you want, but I want the guys running the team to be about as smart as possible when it comes to statistics. If I want someone to teach them how to do something on the baseball field, give me the former players. Stock February 13, 2013 I think Dusty has done a great job of managing the last 3 years. If you want to blame someone blame Walt. He should have traded Stubbs when he had some trade value after the 2011 season. Walt signed Patterson, Taveras, Renteria and Cabrera. It was Walt who handed Dusty Renteria and Janish as his two options at SS in 2011. My fear is that all those who fell in love with Frazier last year will fall out of love this year. By my calculations Frazier’s BABIP should have been .282 last year and was actually .316. He was very lucky. People complained about batting Bruce 5th but Ludwick seemed to make teams pay when they decided to have a LOOGY pitch to both Votto and Bruce. This not only helped the team late in games but it built Ludwick’s confidence which paid dividends as the season progressed. People complained about batting Cozart and Stubbs at the top of the lineup but what other options did Dusty have? Rolen and Hanigan don’t belong in those spots. It didn’t matter who the manager was last year one of Stubbs or Cozart had to bat second. At the beginning of the year there is no way you bat Ludwick 4th. You place Phillips there because you have no other options and suddenly you have no options at 1 and 2. Doug Gray February 13, 2013 Walt builds the roster. Dusty sets the line up. No one forced Dusty to bad terrible OBP at the top of his lineups. But he has done just that almost every season he has been a manager. In San Francisco. In Chicago. In Cincinnati. That isn’t the GM. That is the guy making the line ups. With Ludwick and loogys, sure. But why worry about 1 at bat (or even three if you want to account for 3,4,5 in the lineup that one time) instead of the 3 or 4 each guy gets before the loogy is even considered an option in the game? That is something I never understood. Managers purposefully put out a less optimal lineup for something that MAY happen once a game rather than doing something that will make the line up better 2-3 full times through it. Rolen and Hanigan and Phillips and everyone else in the line up on a daily basis belonged in the 1 or 2 spots over the two lowest OBP guys on the team. Speed or no speed, deal #1 is to get on first. Those guys were the worst at it. Joey Votto can drive anyone in from first base. But they have to be there. ChrisSD February 13, 2013 Doug, You keep saying Hanigan should be batting at the beginning of the line up. Based on the numbers of OPS I would agree with you. However when Hanigan was a rookie he batted 2nd in the late season because no one else was doing well. He did not do well either when batting second. Looking at overall stats without having a complete (almost impossible to develop) model will lead you to wrong conclusions. When Hanigan had an extended chance to hit second is OPS was as low as the horrible guy he was replacing. Go back an look up when he was batting second and see what his OPS was. Batting second is not the same as batting eigth. Love your site, keep up the good work. Chris Doug Gray February 14, 2013 Small sample sizes. He has always gotten on base. Give him enough time there and he will do that too. He isn’t ideal, but it is better than a sub .300 that Stubbs and Cozart posted last year. jim t February 14, 2013 Doug, I agree with your thoughts that Sabers have good imput to how to manage a team. But manging a team also requires someone with the ability to manage people. You seem to overlook and minimize that in your assesment. Could Dusty stand to use some sabermetrics in setting his line up. Sure but make know mistake his handling of the players and getting the most out of there abilities is also very important and isn’t quite as cut and dry as you wold like it to be. Long season complicated by Money,Sats,Family issues, injuries,rest, confidence and personalities are just as important to the overall success of a season as evaluating stats to form a line up. When I was working if i was to manage my staff simply by measurables given to me by stats. my production would have suffered. Find me a stat geek who has played the game and understands the rigors of a long season and how to get the most out of his players and I’ll hire him. Stock February 14, 2013 Why make the assumption that the lineup is much better off with Bruce hitting fourth the first 2/3 times through the lineup. Ludwick had a better OPS than Bruce last year and in the second half when Ludwick was playing everyday it was 100 points better than Bruce. In the post-season Bruce was good but Ludwick was better. In 2010 many on this site and others wanted Dusty to bench Bruce and Stubbs. Dusty stuck with them and they led the Reds to the post-season. Dusty sticks by his players almost to a fault but this is why they love playing for him and provide the effort other teams players don’t necessarily provide. As JimT points out extremely well a lot more goes into managing than stats. Dusty brings these attributes to the park better than any manager the Reds have had since Sparky(and Sparky did a great job in this department but he also had the advantage of a lot of help with veteran players). The problem was that Dusty stuck with Stubbs and was critized from July on. People ignore Stubbs’ OBP was north of .320 in each of his first three years. You had to know Dusty would stick with Stubbs. I again blame Jocketty for not trading Stubbs prior to the inevitable disaster of 2012. Given his hand Dusty had to hope Stubbs would help in 2012 and to his credit gave him every chance to do so. wanderinredsfan February 13, 2013 Saw a couple of Hunt’s outings in relief. Good control, but not great velocity. It’ll be interesting to see what he has to offer as he focuses solely on hurling. I wonder if there are any other interesting candidates for a ‘conversion’ experiment; Any suggestions? Denis Phipps might be a good candidate for a hard-throwing relief arm, who could come in as a pinch runner. Plus, he’d be a good option for a late inning defensive replacement in the OF. Doug Gray February 13, 2013 I can’t imagine they entertain it yet, but if Juan Duran doesn’t make sweeping changes, he has an outstanding arm. Same goes for a guy like Junior Arias. Phipps is interesting as well, though I think at this stage he wouldn’t even contemplate it until he was already 30 and I can’t see too many people giving him that chance. The Duke February 13, 2013 Has a hitter to pitcher conversion ever resulted in a MLB pitcher for the Reds? Who is a notable example in all of MLB? Doug Gray February 13, 2013 I can’t think of one off of the top of my head that the Reds did the conversion on themselves. The best big league example I can think of is Jason Motte, former catcher. I am sure there are several other good ones out there though. Twitter responses after I originally posted this: Jose Arredondo (position player in the US for one season), Sean Doolittle (rookie last season), Kenley Jansen, Carlos Marmol, Alexi Ogando. BJ Ruble February 13, 2013 Trevor Hoffman played infield for one season as a Reds minor leaguer until he was turned into a pitcher due to his exceptional arm. Unfortunately, he was taken in the expansion draft by the Marlins and he never played for the Reds. jim t February 13, 2013 Mel Queen was a hitter to pitcher is memory serves me well. coltholt February 13, 2013 Brooks Kieschnick is an example of a guy who played at the major league level as a hitter first before making it in the bigs as a pitcher I’m not sure who converted him, but he had played for the Reds at some point in there. Scott R February 13, 2013 Brooks was a two-way player in college and as I recall, he was drafted at a bat-first, two way player. DaveCT February 13, 2013 Bruce Berenyi ChrisSD February 13, 2013 Duke, Google Mel Queen for one. Chris Dick February 13, 2013 I’ll show you how old I am, the Reds had an outfielder named Mel Queen in the middle 60′s. Made him a pitcher. Had one middling season as a eliever before baseball swallowed him up. jim t February 13, 2013 Dick, yor right showing our age. mel Queen. LMAO!!! IndyRedsFan February 13, 2013 While on the topic of conversions….Given the lack of catching depth in the minors, any outfielders or corner infielders who might not have the bat to make it at their current position, but could be acceptable at catcher? Of course, the Soto experiment apparently failed a few years ago, but anyone else? Doug Gray February 13, 2013 Brandon Dailey played catcher in instructional league this past year. Might be something worth keeping an eye on. The Duke February 13, 2013 I don’t know if he would get much pt in Dayton because of Hudson, or Billings because of Ortiz. Would they send him back to the AZL? Doug Gray February 13, 2013 I honestly don’t know. Maybe Ortiz would be held back to Arizona. We will see what happens. Maybe it was just an experiment they wanted to try and it will never go anywhere. Alan Horn February 13, 2013 Wasn’t the Trevor Hoffman(relief pitcher(closer)) that went to San Diego a former position player in the minors for the Reds? hunr4redsoct February 13, 2013 Converted ss DaveCT February 13, 2013 Hoffman was not protected vs. Chris Hammond when during an expansion draft, when he was picked by Miami (I believe).. Alan Horn February 13, 2013 And that was one of the Red’s bigger mistakes in hindsight. He was an excellent closer for a number of years. If we just had a crystal ball. ChrisSD February 13, 2013 Alan, Given Hoffman’s success I would agree with you, but at the time the Reds had the nasty boys in the bullpen and Hammond was a you and good looking starting pitcher. Chris Rob February 13, 2013 Jon Coutlangus was a converted outfielder. MK February 13, 2013 Mel Queen converted major league outfielder to major league pitcher. 14-game winner for Reds and big time pitching coach in Toronto system. One of Pete Rose’s running buddies. art February 13, 2013 If my age is not playing tricks with my memory, Hal Jeffcoat was a light hitting outfielder for the Reds in the 50s and extended his career for a time by becoming a pitcher. Cbus February 13, 2013 What’s the over/under on Hamilton’s steals this year? I’d bet he breaks 100 again but no chance for the record. The Duke February 13, 2013 He likely won’t be on base as much in AAA. He only has a couple hundred at bats above A ball. If he can end this year in AAA with an OBP over .375, i’d be thrilled. As for steals, i’d set the over/under at 115.5 Doug Gray February 13, 2013 I will take the under on 115.5. I think they will work with him more on picking his spots this year. MK February 13, 2013 Strange the way Hint has been utilized. They rushed him along as a hitter, even bypassing Low-A and then pull the plug on it.