With the season soon to be underway, I wanted to kick things off right with my Guide to the Cincinnati Reds. As the foremost expert on all things Cincinnati Reds in my home, I feel it my obligation to cobble together a small preview on our Redlegs so that the few of you who read this blog can hold conversation with me as I ramble on and on about obscure statistics that no right minded person would really consider. Shall we?
Last year the Reds shamed themselves and their families by failing to finish in the money. It was disappointing to be sure, but there were a few things that just didn’t work out. Scott Rolen hadn’t been injured in like, 14 months, so it was inevitable that he’d be out for an extended period. Bronson Arroyo had mono and Valley Fever (and am I alone in thinking that Valley Fever sounds like something that must have been eradicated 100 years ago). Edinson Volquez pitched EXACTLY like Edinson Volquez does and well, just a lot of things didn’t build from 2010 like we thought (or at least hoped they would).
Enter the offseason, where Walt Jocketty started off with nothing major but turned the Reds into contenders. First, Uncle Walt traded almost the entire farm system for Mat Latos, a young stud pitcher who remains under team control for the next 4 years. I detailed this in a previous blog post. Next, the Reds acquire one of the best setup men in baseball in Sean Marshall for Travis Wood and (what I would argue) little else (sorry, I don’t buy into Dave Sappelt as a future anything). As a minor acquisition, they brought in Ryan Ludwick, likely to platoon with Heisey in LF.
Trading for Mat Latos, possibly one of the best pitchers to change teams this offseason was obviously a huge deal, but the Reds made another big one in the Ryan Madson acquisition. Madson had previously been looking for a 4 year contract north of 40 million. He and his superagnet Scott Boras misread the market, and “settled” with the Reds on a 1 year deal for 8.5 million where he could have a great year and then enter the wild again, free to reap the rewards of free agency (queue the impending doom forshadowy music)…
The Reds lost some players too, thanks to two trades and free agency. Gone is Yonder Alonso, who is really the only batter of (semi) regularity to play last year who isn’t with the Cincy 9 this year. I was pleased with the trade because I never though Yonder would be what many people made him out to be. I thought solid regular, decent power (20-25hrs) with a solid batting average. Nothing special for a 1B with 0 defensive ability. Also gone are other minor leaguers and Travis Wood. I liked Wood and as good as Sean Marshall is, I didn’t really like the trade. I think a quality starting pitcher is worth a great deal more than a lockdown relief pitcher. Moreover, they are both lefties, so if you wanted a relief pitcher in the pen, why not try Wood and keep Sappelt (even if he’s nothing more than a 4th outfielder)?
Any regular viewer of the Reds can tell you that Dusty Baker has virtually no tactical ability as a manager. He’ll likely change the lineup a zillion times and do stupid things like bat Corey Patterson lead off or over play righty/lefty splits and all that crap. It’s important for anyone that isn’t familiar with his tendencies to know that he used to play with Hank Aaron (he like people to know this) and he coaches the Reds like they are about to play the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbetts Field. He pays little to no attention to advanced statistics and still likes to coach “by feel” and gut. I think there is room for that, but more like in a 95% use the numbers/5% use the gut feel capacity. Methinks he’s more of the 50/50 persuasion. If you’d like to learn more about some of the new statistics, theories, and concepts being used in baseball, I suggest you read (not see) Moneyball or go over to Fangraphs.com to learn more.
As we lead up to the beginning of the season for Cincinnati, I’m going to post a few things about the Reds that I think are pertinent. I’ll probably do four more posts in total; previews for the battery, infield, outfield, and predictions. For now, I’m just pumped that baseball is back, beginning tomorrow night (A’s v M’s in Japan) and that I will soon be able to watch the Reds almost every night.
If anyone wants my opinion on any topic regarding the Reds, I’m happy to oblige. You may already be wondering what I think about Ryan Madson’s injury; it will be addressed in another post, but I’ll say this: I’m not worried.