Posted on: March 27, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2011 3:55 pm
By Matt Snyder
The defending NL Central champions entered camp with at least six viable starting pitchers: Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Travis Wood, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake. Some fans may have even inexplicably thought Dontrelle Willis had a chance of impressing, but he's been moved to the minors (it was announced Sunday via press release, forgive me for yawning).
It did, however, look like an embarrassment of riches, especially if you looked from the angle that Volquez was far enough away from Tommy John surgery to fully return to form and Cueto, Wood, Leake and Bailey were young enough to expect improvement.
Instead, Bailey will start the season on the DL, Cueto is headed that way and Arroyo has mono. As a result the fairly anonymous Sam LeCure is going to begin the season in the rotation.
Wood has thrown the ball relatively well this spring for the most part, but he's the exception.
Leake has been dreadful, having allowed 27 hits, 16 earned runs and seven walks against just four strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings. Yes, that's a 9.39 ERA and 2.22 WHIP. This is fresh off a season that saw him go 3-4 with a 6.47 ERA after the first week of June, so there has to be plenty of concern.
Volquez has been pretty bad himself (8.38 ERA and 2.38 WHIP), to the point that he was talking about how great he felt after a lackluster effort last time out.
We shouldn't put a ton of stock in all spring numbers, but for young guys trying to get back in the groove or players working back from injuries, they matter to some extent. I'm sure Dusty Baker would rather have everyone throwing it well, that's for sure. The good news is nothing that's happened thus far counts and that the injuries all appear to be pretty minor. Everything could work itself out by the middle of April -- and it's a long season.
Still, within just over a week, starting pitching has gone from a strength to a big question mark for the Reds.
Just goes to show how precious starting pitching is, doesn't it?
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Posted on: March 25, 2011 9:06 pm
By Matt Snyder
Brandon Beachy, Braves. Fresh off being named the Braves' No. 5 starter to open the season -- over the favorite, Mike Minor -- Beachy went out and dominated the Tigers. He threw six innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while strking out six. He took his spring ERA all the way down to 1.13. That is two earned runs in 16 innings, to go nicely with 16 strikeouts. His WHIP is a minuscule 0.63. If he carries this over into the season, the Braves will have an even more formidable rotation.
Drew Storen, Nationals. It's been a rough spring for Storen, who was initially expected to be the Nats' closer but has since been tabbed as part of a committee in the back-end of the bullpen. Friday, though, he was plugged in for the ninth inning with a one-run lead and made it stand. He threw a perfect inning, striking out two batters.
Adam Jones, Orioles. Breakout season on the horizon? He's got the goods. Friday he showed it, too. Jones went 3-4 with his fifth bomb of the spring, this one a two-run job off Scott Baker.
Brandon McCarthy, A's. The former big-time prospect was having a really solid spring in his quest to earn the A's final starting spot, but he was roughed up Friday. He allowed 10 hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He even walked his first batter of the spring. Of course, he did strike out six, so the 20:1 K:BB rate should be enough for him to grab that last spot. He's looking to hold off Tyson Ross and Rich Harden -- if he's ever healthy. Ross is only 23, but he's sporting a 0.59 ERA in 15 1/3 spring innings.
Mitch Talbot, Indians. The Tribe's No. 4 starter was crushed by the Brewers Friday. He gave up 14 hits and seven earned runs in six innings. He even gave up a grand slam to Carlos Gomez. Yes, that same Carlos Gomez who only has 17 career home runs in 1,308 career at-bats. Of course, he does have three this spring, so maybe he's looking to muscle up this year.
Edinson Volquez, Reds. He's here because the outing was termed as "solid" and he said afterward that he "felt great." (MLB.com ) Really? If you're the Reds and this is your ace -- especially considering Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto are on the shelf and Bronson Arroyo is getting tested for valley fever -- it's gotta be a bit troubling, no? I see five innings pitched, nine hits, three earned runs and four walks. So that's 13 baserunners (a gawdawful 2.60 WHIP), including four extra base hits, and a 5.40 ERA from an ace in his last outing before the regular season. Spring stats don't mean anything and it's possible he's going to flip a switch before the real games start. I'm just saying it's pretty surprising this was considered such a good outing by Volquez and the Reds.
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Posted on: March 25, 2011 4:30 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
All offseason we heard about the Reds' pitching depth and it won't take too long this season to put it to the test.
With Johnny Cueto already expected to miss his first start and Bronson Arroyo being tested for valley fever, the team said Friday it will be putting Homer Bailey on the disabled list to start the season with a right shoulder impingement.
The team hopes Bailey will miss just two starts.
"It's nothing to be alarmed about," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said (via the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay on Twitter). "If we didn't take care it now, it would bother him all year."
Sam LeCure will take his spot in the rotation, along with Edinson Volquez, Arroyo, Mike Leake and Travis Wood. LeCure, 26, was 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA last season with the Reds in 15 games, six starts. As a starter, he went 1-4 with a 4.86 ERA.
The National League Central has been hit hard with starting pitching injuries this spring, with the Brewers losing Zack Greinke for a couple of starts, the Cardinals losing Adam Wainwright for the season and the Reds' slew of injuries. The Astros' Wandy Rodriguez missed a couple of weeks with shoulder tendinitis but returned on Tuesday and is expected to start the season on time.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 4:04 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto was shut down for the next week-to-10 days and will likely start the season on the disabled list, meaning Mike Leake's first minor-league start will have to wait.
The Reds announced that Cueto has mild inflammation on his right shoulder and will stay at the team's training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., when the team leaves for Cincinnati next week.
"Everything structurally is fine," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "The recommendation from Dr. [Timothy] Kremchek is to shut him down for a week or so and give it a chance to get him back on a throwing program."
The team expects him to need at least two weeks.
There had been a battle between Wood and Leake for the final spot -- just as there was last spring. Last spring Leake, the 2009 first-rounder, won the spot out of spring, bypassing the minor leagues altogether. Leake had a fantastic first half of the season (6-1, 3.53 ERA), but then struggled and fought shoulder fatigue and was finally put not he disabled list. He finished the season 8-4 with a 4.23 ERA.
With Leake struggling, the Reds called up the left-handed Wood, who took a perfect game into the ninth at Philadelphia in his third career start. Wood finished the season 5-4 with a 3.51 ERA in 17 starts.
Wood was winning the spring battle, going 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in four starts. Leake is 1-0 with a 6.23 in four games and three starts. However, in his last appearance, he went four scoreless innings against the Indians.
Cincinnati's pitching depth has been praised all spring, and like most others in the National League Central, it's being put to the test early.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: March 20, 2011 10:02 pm
By Evan Brunell
We're getting to the part of spring training where players on the bubble who are given serious consideration for a job start looking for pink slips in their locker. Just one good (or bad, as Andrew Miller will probably find out) day could be enough to swing a decision. So who helped and hurt themselves today?
1. 3B Brent Morel, CHW: 4 AB, 2 H. Morel's day at the plate was nothing to write home about, but he received good news earlier in the day when manager Ozzie Guillen told the youngster he had won the third base job. Morel's known for his glove more than stick, but he should be able to hold his own on offense. Now, Mark Teahen will be bumped to a backup role and certainly is available in a trade.
2. CF Chris Heisey, CIN: 6 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 2 RBI, 2 K. Heisey appears to have won the fourth outfielder's job in Cincinatti, besting Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida. The 26-year-old also impressed off the bench as a bench player, although he struggled when drawing the starting assignment. He could eventually emerge as a starter, but a career as a solid No. 4 outfielder appears more likely.
3. SP Charlie Morton (pictured), PIT: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Where did this come from? Morton has a 1.29 ERA in spring training after finishing last season with a 2-12 record and 7.57 ERA in 17 starts as a 26-year-old. However, Morton has likely fought his way into a rotation spot by dint of his excellent spring in which he has punched out eight and walked just one in 14 1/3 innings.
1. DH Jack Cust, SEA: 4 AB, 1 H, 1 RBI, 3 K, 4 LOB. Seriously, this is a typical Cust line right here. Cust is known for a low batting average, strong eye and solid to good power (he banged two homers on Saturday). Cust is going to be looked upon to help Seattle move past their brutal offensive season last year, but his power has been largely dormant the last two years.
2. SP Andrew Miller, BOS: 0 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. There's been plenty of ink written about the promise Andrew Miller has and how Boston may be the place for him to put it all together. One start doesn't make that go away, but this brutal outing underscores just how long to go Miller has to be anything of value to the big-league team. The odds are still stacked against him. Miller had long odds to make the Red Sox bullpen anyways, and this outing may have just sealed his fate.
3. SP Edinson Volquez, CIN: 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 K. Volquez has never been one known for control, but he seems to have particularly struggled with it on his return from Tommy John surgery. That's not uncommon, but for Volquez to continue to have these issues speaks to a larger issue, whether that's a tougher time in returning from the surgery or an underlying issue of dude just not having command at all. Given the Reds lack a frontline ace despite not wanting for depth, Volquez's struggles are concerning.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:29 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
"With [Zack] Greinke and Gallardo, if you look at their last three years, they're both No. 1 [pitchers]," Roenicke told reporters Thursday morning (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). "Gallardo is also our ace."
The Brewers will follow Gallardo, 25, with Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson. The fifth starter spot is still undecided. Because of an off day in Cincinnati the day after the opener, the Brewers could have Gallardo pitch again on regular rest instead of using a fifth starter.
"We may wait and see what Yovani does in the opener," Roenicke said.
Narveson is scheduled to start the home opener on April 4 against the Braves.
While Gallardo doesn't have the name recognition of Greinke, he's a quality starter and has done plenty on his own to earn the opening day nod on his own merit. An All-Star last season, Gallardo started on opening day last season for the Brewers, going 14-7 on the season with a 3.84 ERA. He recorded 200 strikeouts in 185 innings. His xFIP (fielding independent pitching, normalized for park factors) last season was 3.42 last season. Greinke was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA last season, along with an xFIP of 3.76.
Gallardo lost his opening day assignment last season, but was matched up against Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies. Gallardo did struggle last season against the Reds, going 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA in three starts against the NL Central champs. Greinke faced the Reds once and threw a complete-game five-hitter in a win.
Gallardo will face off against Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez in the opener at Great American Ball Park.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: March 8, 2011 10:14 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 10:18 pm
By Evan Brunell
Everyone knows the Reds can hit. But how about its pitching?
There are a ton of quality names who will pitch in the rotation for Cincinnati this upcoming season, ranging from Bronson Arroyo to Travis Wood to Mike Leake to Johnny Cueto ... the list goes on. Ah, but there really isn't an ace in that crew, one who can stand toe-to-toe with other teams, especially in October.
Cueto could be that guy, but a lot of people are looking at Edinson Volquez. The man traded for Josh Hamilton, Volquez came out strong in his first season with the Reds back in 2008. It also remains the only time Volquez has made more than 12 starts in a season, as injuries wiped out most of 2009 and 2010. He showed enough in his 12 starts from 2010 that expectations are being heaped upon him again to front the rotation even if his control will limit him to being merely a good ace instead of one of the best in the game. Hey, Cincy will take it. And Cincy needs it, especially in October.
One of the more, umm... "interesting" owners of recent times was Reds owner Marge Schott, who held the team from 1984-99. She was the brunt of many jokes, many well deserved.
One such joke came at the hands of professional wrestler Kevin Nash, also known to some as "Diesel" from his WWF (now WWE) days. Nash's claim to fame is being a founding member of the nWo, a clique of wrestlers who conducted a "takeover" of the WCW brand, rivals to WWE for quite a while before WCW's demise. The nWo was wildly popular, but the brand of wrestling continued to fall, causing Nash to brand WCW "as interesting as hearing Marge Schott reading excerpts from Mein Kampf."
Schott was also referred to in Married with Children when Al Bundy (played by Ed O'Neill, who is now the paternal figure on Modern Family) used Schott as an example of the biggest turnoff to a lesbian.
Posted on: March 4, 2011 7:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 9:00 pm
By Evan Brunell
The Rangers have handed GM Jon Daniels a four-year extension, rewarding the 33-year-old for steering the club to its first-ever AL pennant in 2010. For all of Daniels' talents, however, he's made quite a few missteps along the way. Here's a look back at Daniels' three best and worst moves as Rangers GM...
1. The Teix Heist
The reason the Rangers made the World Series is thanks to the trade that sent Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves. Consummated at the trade deadline of 2007, this deal represented the first time Daniels was trading away a major piece of a team and he needed to hit a home run.
He did. By dealing Teix and left-handed reliever Ron Mahay, Daniels hauled in catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones. The fact Salty stalled in Texas is concerning, but many viewed the backstop at the time as one of the elite young catchers in the game. Andrus would go on to blossom as Texas' starting shortstop while Feliz won the AL Rookie of the Year Award with 40 saves last season and is currently shifting to the rotation. Harrison is a young lefty who is battling for a rotation spot himself, while Jones is the one non-entity.
This deal will continue to pay dividends over time, as Andrus and Feliz will be in town for years to come while Harrison is valuable depth. Saltalamacchia's career is not yet over as he is slated to start in Boston, and the jury is out on Daniels' return for Salty in three minor leaguers.
2. Game Over
Gagne was impressive in his first season as an ex-Dodger and after missing the bulk of the 2006 season. He wasn't the lockdown closer of old, but looked as if he could be a quality part of the bullpen. Except as Red Sox fans know, he completely imploded and while he walked away with a World Series trade, he will forever be known as Gag-me in Boston. (For some reason, there are over 11,000 views of a video I took recording Gagne's Red Sox debut.) His saving grace in Boston was as a Type-B free agent, and the Red Sox would later trade the player they drafted with the compensatory pick to Cleveland as part of the Victor Martinez deal.
Meanwhile, David Murphy is one of the more valuable fourth outfielders in the game and would be a starter for many other teams. Beltre has his makeup questions but is developing nicely as Texas' center fielder of the future. Gabbard flamed out, but at the time was a possible back-of-the-rotation starter.
3. Draft Bonanza
A major reason why Daniels has stayed viable as GM of the Rangers is his drafting history. Of course, major credit goes to the people working under him that are in charge of the draft, but Daniels deserves credit for putting these people in those roles as well as having a hand in the drafting and development of these players.
His first draft pick, Kasey Kiker, has yet to develop significantly but is just 22 and does hold some promise. However, his following two have had major league time already: power-hitting Chris Davis who has unfortunately failed time and time again to lock down a starting spot in Texas and Danny Herrera, who is a member of the Reds bullpen currently and was used to get Josh Hamilton. Michael Main was used to get Bengie Molina, while Blake Beavan and Justin Smoak were packaged for Cliff Lee.
Tommy Hunter was a viable member of the rotation last season and could have a nice career as a back-of-the-rotation pitcher, while Julio Borbon is prepared to start in center field. Tanner Scheppers ranked No. 77 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects and may have ranked higher if he was clearly going to be a starter. The club also came away with an impressive haul in the 2010 draft.
Honorable Mention: One would expect the deal bringing in Josh Hamilton to be one of Daniels' better deals, but it's hard to justify that as one of his best deals simply by virtue of giving up Edinson Volquez. There's no denying Hamilton's talent -- after all, he won the AL MVP award -- but Volquez has turned out pretty well for himself. There's a similar case to be made for the trade that imported Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from Milwaukee in exchange for Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and Juan Cordero, so the honorable mention goes to signing Colby Lewis to a two-year deal prior to the 2010 season. Lewis was an utter failure stateside before heading to Japan and discovering his talent. Daniels didn't hesitate to bring in Lewis, and all he did was become the Rangers' best right-handed starter in the team's run to the AL pennant.
1. The Young and Heartless
In March of 2007, Daniels signed shortstop Michael Young to a five-year, $80 million extension, a contract that was strange at the time and now has snowballed. Two seasons later, Daniels bumped Young to third base in a contentious move to free up short for Elvis Andrus. Young's bat has continued to be solid, but he remained a defensive liability at third and in a much-publicized spat, is now headed to DH and first base after demanding a trade. However, thanks to Young's contract, it will be difficult to move him.
Daniels certainly shouldn't have signed Young to this deal, but that's not why this ranks as one of his three worst moves as GM. While there's a lot of "he-said, he-said" going on by both sides, the fact remains that Young is not very keen on speaking to Daniels and feels "misled." Whether or not you believe Daniels or Young (or think the true answer is somewhere in-between), Daniels should have done a far better job managing the crisis as this has become a nightmare, both in terms of Young's trade value and in public relations. Heck, it even made a three-year-old kid very upset.
It's hard to fault Jon Daniels for trading away Adrian Gonzalez as he needed pitching and had Mark Teixeira at first. But goodness, couldn't he have done better? In his second significant trade of his GM career -- the first was also pretty bad -- Daniels shipped away someone who would become one of the best first-basemen in the game in short order in Gonzalez to the Padres along with Chris Young, who fashioned a nice run for himself in the rotation for San Diego. Terrmel Sledge was a throw-in to get Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and Billy Killian in return.
Eaton was a disaster, making just 13 starts and moving onto the Phillies where he was even worse, while Otsuka became the Rangers' closer but fell to injury in 2007 at age 35 and has not returned to the majors since. Killian is now in independent baseball.
Hey, every GM has trades they regret. It's part of life. But this is one regrettable trade that makes one really cringe looking back on it.
3. A-Rod to Soriano to Nothing
OK, so Daniels wasn't responsible for the initial trade of Alex Rodriguez, but he certainly was responsible for turning Rodriguez's return in Alfonso Soriano into something. Unfortunately, his first major trade was a flop when he shipped Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Armando Galarraga and Terrmel Sledge. Sledge would be shipped in another terrible deal a month later in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, while Wilkerson couldn't arrest the decline he began in his final season for the Nats in '06. He did not top 350 at-bats in the two seasons he was a Ranger.
While Galarraga was and still is nothing to write home about, he chewed up almost 500 innings for the Tigers after the Rangers essentially gave him away, predominantly as a starter the last three seasons -- and of course, as the architect of the 28-out perfect game. He is now a Diamondback and expected to serve in the back of the rotation. These types of pitchers are far from sexy and you can't blame Daniels for tossing Galarraga in the deal, but it only serves to make this deal look even worse given he got absolutely nothing of value for Soriano, which in turn meant the team got nothing for A-Rod.
In Daniels' defense, he was handicapped by Soriano entering the final year of his deal, but Daniels should have looked for prospects in any deal, not an outfielder on the decline, a pitcher he would give away a couple years later and a bit piece that would go on to become part of Daniels' worst trade to date.
Dishonorable Mention: Not to pile on Daniels, who has turned into a very fine GM, but just like he has plenty of candidates for honorable mention, he has candidates for this category as well. Signing Kevin Millwood to a five-year, $60 million deal was head-scratching at the time and he stumbled badly on December 23, 2006 when he dealt away John Danks, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy and David Paisano. Danks and McCarthy were two highly-regarded prospects at the time, but Danks is the one that blossomed, while Masset would go on to bust out himself as an important part of the Reds bullpen.
Tags: Adam Eaton, Adrian Gonzalez, Akinori Otsuka, AL West, Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Armando Galarraga, Bengie Molina, Blake Beavan, Brad Wilkerson, Brandon McCarthy, Braves, Brewers, Carlos Lee, Chris Davis, Chris Young, Colby Lewis, Danny Herrera, David Murphy, Edinson Volquez, Elvis Andrus, Engel Beltre, Eric Gagne, Francisco Cordero, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, John Danks, Jon Daniels, Josh Hamilton, Justin Smoak, Kasey Kiker, Kason Gabbard, Kevin Mench, Kevin Millwood, Laynce Nix, Mark Teixeira, Matt Harrison, Michael Main, Michael Young, Nationals, Neftali Feliz, Nelson Cruz, Nick Masset, Padres, Rangers, Red Sox, Reds, Tanner Scheppers, Tommy Hunter, White Sox