Tag:Devin Mesoraco
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:22 pm
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Spring primer: Cincinnati Reds



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder leaving the National League Central, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty saw an opportunity to take the division. Jocketty traded two of the team's top prospects to San Diego for Mat Latos and fortified the bullpen with the additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall. With Joey Votto under contract for just the next two years, the Reds see these two years as their best chance to win, and the team is going for it.

Major additions: RHP Mat Latos, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Sean Marshall, OF Ryan Ludwick
Major departures: RHP Francisco Cordero, RHP Edinson Volquez, C Ramon Hernandez, 1B Yonder Alonso

Probable lineup
1. Brandon Phillips 2B
2. Zack Cozart SS
3. Joey Votto 1B
4. Scott Rolen 3B
5. Jay Bruce RF
6. Ryan Ludwick LF
7. Drew Stubbs CF
8. Ryan Hanigan C

Probable rotation
1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mat Latos
3. Bronson Arroyo
4. Mike Leake
5. Homer Bailey

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Ryan Madson
Set-up: LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Nick Masset, LHP Bill Bray

Important bench players
C Devin Mesoraco, OF Chris Heisey, 3B Juan Francisco

Prospect to watch
The Reds sent Alonso to San Diego in the deal that brought Latos to Cincinnati, making many nervous about the post-Votto era. If Votto doesn't re-sign with the Reds, many saw Alonso as the heir apparent. Now that Alonso's out of the picture, the first baseman of the future is Neftali Soto. The 23-year-old was the team's third-round pick in 2007 and played shortstop, third base and catcher in addition to first base. But the team finally left him at first in 2011. The reason the team kept moving him was that his bat has never been an issue. Last season he hit 30 home runs in just 102 games at Double-A Carolina, missing a month with a broken bone in his left wrist. He doesn't walk much (just 103 walks and 375 strikeouts in five minor-league seasons), but he has plenty of power to all fields, with 10 of his 31 homers (including one in four games at Triple-A) were opposite field shots.

Fantasy sleeper: Homer Bailey
"The Reds have been conservative with Bailey and the team hopes that their caution will pay off this season. If he can stay healthy, Bailey has an excellent chance for a breakout season, as he has made steady improvements in his pitch selection, control and efficiency." -- Al Melchior [Full Reds fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Ryan Ludwick
"Some observers have pointed to Ludwick's career line at Great American Ball Park (.276/.321/.600) as a sign of an impending comeback season, and it's true that he has had the misfortune of playing in pitchers' parks for most of his career. However, Ludwick has just 19 plate appearances at GABP over the last two years, a time period during which he has seen an erosion of his power numbers, both at home and on the road." -- Al Melchior [Full Reds fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Not only does Cueto improve upon his breakout 2011, but Latos is even better than he was in the second half of 2011, giving the Reds a dominant and young top of the rotation. Add to that a healthy Arroyo and see Bailey live up to his immense potential -- and the Reds have one of the best rotations in the National League. The offense continues to put up runs and Cincinnati eases into the postseason past the fading Cardinals and Brewers.

Pessimistic outlook
Injuries and unfulfilled potential lead to the second straight season of disappointment on the Ohio River. Not only does the starting pitching falter, but Stubbs breaks Mark Reynolds' single-season strikeout record, Bruce isn't able to make adjustments and rookies Mesoraco and Cozart play like rookies at the two most important defensive positions on the diamond. Milwaukee and St. Louis once again are the class of the division, while Pittsburgh improves and not only breaks its 19-year streak of losing seasons, but also leapfrogs the Reds for third in the NL Central. Adding insult to injury, Phillips leaves as a free agent and with the team in flux, Votto is sent away for prospects and another rebuilding job is underway.

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 11:54 am
 

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Mat Latos

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every trade happens for a reason -- or two reasons, actually. One for each side. With Saturday's big deal between the Reds and Padres, we'll look at the reasons for both sides. You can read the Padres' reasons here, but here's why the Reds sent four players to San Diego for right-hander Mat Latos:

When the Reds won the National League Central in 2010, Edinson Volquez was their starter in Game 1 of the National League division series against the Phillies against Roy Halladay. Halladay, of course, no-hit the Reds that night, while Volquez was lifted before the end of the second inning, having allowed four earned runs and was saddled with the loss. The need for a true No. 1 was evident even before that game, but became more dire afterward.

In 2011, Johnny Cueto took a step forward and showed he may be the future ace the team needed. But it still needed a No. 2 -- enter Latos. The 24-year-old went 14-10 in 2010 with a 2.92 ERA and was a Cy Young candidate in 2010. He took a bit of a step back in 2011, going 9-14 with a 3.47, with his walk rate increasing by half a walk per nine innings and his stirkeout rate dropping just a tad more than that. 

Saturday, Latos said he learned from his 2011 to trust himself and not worry about where he was pitching or who he was pitching against. The results show someone who may have learned, going 5-10 with a 4.04 ERA in the first half of the season and 4-4 with a 2.87 ERA in the second half, and bettering his strikeout-to-walk ration from 2.45 before the All-Star break and 3.83 afterward. Opponents' batting average on balls in play dropped dramatically from .314 to .258 in the second half, but his strikeouts also increased. 

Devin MesoracoReds general manager Walt Jocketty said he felt Latos could pitch in Great American Ball Park, which is about as different from the pitcher-friendly Petco Park as you can get.

There's no question that Latos improves the Reds' rotation, joining Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey -- as well as Aroldis Chapman, who will be used as a starter in spring training, at least. But that's not the only reason the Reds made the move.

First of all, Latos will be a Red for years to come. He's under team control through 2015 and isn't arbitration eligible until the 2013 season. He's also just 24, having celebrated his 24th birthday little more than a week ago.

By dealing Alonso and Volquez, the Reds now have more money to play with in free agency or to take on salary. Alonso signed a big-league deal after being drafted and is due $1 million in 2012, while Volquez is arbitration-eligible and could make as much as $2.5 million next season, while paying Latos at or near the minimum.

Like Alonso, Yasmani Grandal signed a big-league deal after he was drafted, so the net move is two more spots on the team's 40-man roster.

"We've got some things on the back burner and the front burner," Jocketty said. "We're trying to do one more deal for pitching and we're looking at potential free agents for offense."

The roster spots and money cleared give the Reds a little more room to make those kinds of deals. They do have fewer prospects, though. The Reds still need a closer (or could use Chapman) and are looking to upgrade their left field options.

Alonso, Grandal and reliever Brad Boxberger were all ranked as top 10 prospects in the Reds system for 2012 by Baseball America. It's a heck of a haul for the Padres. That said, the top two prospects -- Alonso and Grandal -- at least, were redundant to the Reds. 

Alonso is the team's top prospect at first base, but the Reds already have an MVP at first base -- or at least they do for the next two seasons before Joey Votto becomes a free agent. He tried to play left field, but not too many in the Reds organization felt he could actually do it.

And then there's Grandal, the team's top pick in the 2010 draft. The switch-hitting catcher was rated the fourth-best prospect in the Reds' system, but the second-best catcher behind Devin Mesoraco (pictured). The Reds allowed Ramon Hernandez to exit via free agency because Mesoraco no longer has anything to prove at the minor-league level and can team with Ryan Hanigan as a solid catching tandem for the next couple of years. Hanigan, a very good defensive catcher with a good on-base percentage, is under team control through 2014.

While Boxberger is seen as a possible closer, he's still a reliever, and a Triple-A one at that. Jocketty said without Boxberger the deal probably wouldn't get done, and if the Reds really wanted to get Latos, Boxberger wasn't going to stand in the way.

And then there's Volquez. The Reds sent Volquez to Triple-A twice in 2011 to try to get his control issues straightened out, but he never seemed to get it fixed. Voqluez wasn't being counted on in the rotation and didn't really have a place on the roster -- and could cost some money.

There's no doubt the Reds paid dearly -- more than one front-office person told me the Reds grossly overpaid and I tend to agree -- but Jocketty dealt from positions of depth. The deal could hurt the Reds, but losing those players may not hurt them as much as it would another team. The 2012 Reds are better today than they were Friday. With Votto's time in Cincinnati apparently closing in on its last two years, the Reds wanted to make a play in the National League Central that no longer has Albert Pujols, may not have Ryan Braun for 50 games and could still lose Prince Fielder, and they did that by adding Latos.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:13 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

During the series, we've seen some lineups that would be completely foreign to the hometown fans, and some a little less so. The homegrown Cincinnati Reds, for better or worse, look quite similar to the team that took the field at Great American Ball Park this past season. While there are similar strengths, the same problems also crop up.

Lineup

1. Jay Bruce, RF
2. Justin Turner, 2B
3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Adam Dunn, LF
5. Juan Francisco, 3B
6. Drew Stubbs, CF
7. Devin Mesoraco, C
8. Zack Cozart, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mike Leake
3. Homer Bailey
4. Travis Wood
5. Zach Stewart

Bullpen

Closer - Aroldis Chapman
Set up - Todd Coffey, Logan Ondrusek, Jordan Smith, Josh Roenicke, Enerio Del Rosario
Long - Sam LeCure

Notable Bench Players

Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Adam Rosales, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Heisey, Chris Denorfia, Chris Dickerson. The Reds hypothetical situation behind the plate is the same as their current situation, one underrated catcher and two promising prospects, a problem most teams would envy. The hypothetical Reds also have no real spot for Alonso, although a short leash on Dunn could have this homegrown team toy with the notion of trying Alonso in left -- just like the real Reds.

What's Good?

The lineup's going to put up runs, that's for sure. There are some lineup construction problems, but this team can flat out hit, especially in their home ballpark. The defense isn't as good as it is in real life, it's still not too bad (with the exception of Dunn). The team has a lot of talent behind the plate and the bench is deep with some versatility.

What's Not?

The Reds were unable to repeat their 2010 division title in large part because of the failings of their starting rotation -- that's not fixed with these five. There's also no real answer to the team's search for a leadoff man, just like the real Reds. This bullpen isn't as experienced or strong as the real thing, either.

Comparison to real 2011

While there are some key personel missing, like Brandon Phillips and Francisco Cordero, there's also an added boost to the lineup of Dunn (we'll just assume he would have performed closer to his career numbers than his historically bad 2011 in the familiar confines of Great American Ball Park than in Chicago), the offense would have been about the same. The pitching, though, is still a problem, so this squad may fair a bit worse than the team's 79-83 record. However, the team is interesting, talented and young.

Next: Kansas City Royals

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:28 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Cincinnati Reds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Cincinnati Reds
Record: 79-83, 3rd place, 17 games back
Manager: Dusty Baker
Best hitter: Joey Votto -- .309/.416/.531 with 29 HR, 103 RBI
Best pitcher:Johnny Cueto -- 9-5, 24 GS, 156 IP, 2.31 ERA, 104 K, 47 BB

Coming off the 2010 National League Central title with pretty much the same team intact, the Reds were expected to challenge for the title again. However, the team could never quite get consistent starting pitching and were on the outside looking in by the All-Star break, close enough not to become sellers at the deadline and ultimately irrelevant for the last two months of the season.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Cueto took a step forward in his development and Votto showed he was anything but a one-hit wonder, while Brandon Phillips played at an All-Star level. Other than that, most every other Cincinnati Red took a step back from their 2010 performance. Bronson Arroyo and Drew Stubbs set dubious marks -- Arroyo allowing 46 homers and Stubbs striking out 205 times. Opening-day starter Edinson Volquez was twice demoted to the minors and third baseman Scott Rolen was limited to just 65 games. Lefty Travis Wood struggled in his second year and right-hander Homer Bailey has yet to find consistency. The team's gaping holes at shortstop and left field were magnified and its rotation wasn't as deep as promised in the spring. In all, disappointment was all around in 2011 as Cincinnati was unable to defend its crown.

2012 AUDIT

The Reds need to follow the lead of the Brewers, who decided to go for it in 2011 instead of worrying what would happen when Prince Fielder left. The Reds still have two more years of Votto, they need to take advantage of that and try to win before Votto goes to greener pastures, not fret about what's going to happen in two years. The Reds still need some help at the top of their rotation, a right-handed power bat for the middle of the lineup and to make a decision about left field and shortstop.

FREE AGENTS

CL Francisco Cordero (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
2B Brandon Phillips (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
C Ramon Hernandez
SS Edgar Renteria
LHP Dontrelle Willis

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sell high on first baseman Yonder Alonso. In his first extensive big-league action, the 2008 first-rounder was impressive, hitting .330/.398/.545, displaying a keen understanding of the strike zone. That said, the Reds struggled to find places to play him, considering he's a first baseman and the guy they have there is one of the game's best players. Alonso played 16 games in left field, and aside from a rough weekend in Wrigley Field, didn't embarrass himself. He also played a game at third base without a single ball coming his way. In the end, he's a first baseman. That's where he'll thrive and that's where some team could certainly use him -- just not the Reds. See what you can get for Alonso in a package or straight up. At 24, he's young for a major leaguer, but old for a prospect. His highest value is this offseason.
  • Make a play for a true ace. Yes, Cueto has the potential to be an ace and he looked at times to be an ace this season. However, the Brewers could have said the same thing about Yovani Gallardo after last season. Be bold and bolster the top of the rotation. The Reds were second in the National League in runs scored and fifth in OPS -- there's enough offense to win if the pitching is sound. Sure up the rotation and by default you sure up the bullpen. The Brewers thought bold and they didn't have half the farm system the Reds have. You can send some combination Alonso, Billy Hamilton and one of the two catchers -- Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal -- away in a deal or two for true front-of-the-rotation help.
  • Pick up Phillips' option, but don't sign him to the long-term deal he's seeking. Phillips will win his third Gold Glove this year and is as good as anyone defensively. He also hit .300/.353/.457. However, he'll be looking for a Dan Uggla-like deal (five years, $62 million), and that's just not something the Reds can afford, especially at non-premium position like second base. He adjusted well to the leadoff role late in the season, hitting .350/.417/.573 in 39 games (38 starts) at the top of the order, but he's still a career .322 OBP guy and his .353 on-base percentage this season was a career-best by .021, aided by a career-best .322 BABIP. Bottom line is he's the best second baseman in the National League, but that comes at a price -- and a price the Reds won't be able to afford past this season.
  • Speaking of not overpaying a specific position, the team vastly overpaid for closer Cordero after the 2007 season, giving him a four-year, $46 million deal plus a $12 million club option for 2012. There's no reason to pick that option up, even though the team has reportedly been talking about an extension with Cordero. Any extension would likely be two years for more than the $12 million he'd make by just picking up the option for next year, but would include a yearly pay cut. Again, that's a move big market teams can afford, but the Reds cannot. Even with likely deferred payments (much like last season's Arroyo extension), Cordero is too costly. He's done his job well in his time in Cincinnati, solidifying a bullpen that had been in tatters before his arrival, but it's too much to pay for a closer. Follow the lead of the Rays and Diamondbacks who were able to rebuild bullpens for less than $12 million based on scrap parts. It's risky, but no more risky (and less expensive) than paying inflated prices for relievers.
  • The team held on to Hernandez even when other teams were desperate for catching. That means either nobody was that desperate for catching, or Hernandez and his agents already told the team he would not accept arbitration -- or both. If the Reds can offer Hernandez arbitration without danger of him accepting it, they'd likely receive two draft picks if Hernandez qualifies as a Type A free agent. With Ryan Hanigan signed through 2013 at a team-friendly rate and Mesoraco left with nothing left to prove in the minors, it's time to move on from Hernandez, who has been productive in his time in Cincinnati. They also have Grandal waiting in the wings, plus Tucker Barnhart, who won the Minor League Gold Glove at catcher.
  • If the Reds are going to go young at shortstop with Zack Cozart and in left field with Chris Heisey, they need to commit to it -- no messing around with another veteran shortstop that will just take up playing time, like Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera. In left, Heisey needs to play and play more, even against left-hander, even though he struggled against them. Juan Francisco has improved at third base and should be the first choice if Rolen isn't healthy.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:15 am
 

Pepper: From afterthought to MVP candidate

Michael Young

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I'm not sure I'd vote for Michael Young for the American League MVP, but I sure would have to consider the Rangers veteran if I had a ballot in the AL -- and that's a far cry from where Young started the season.

Remember going into spring training? Young had no home on the diamond and reportedly wanted a trade from the only team he's played for as a big leaguer. At 34, he seemed to be anything but what his surname suggested and of declining skills, not to mention he was a man without a position. The team signed Adrian Beltre to take over at third base, displacing him once again. Young had been moved off shortstop to make room for Elvis Andrus after previously being moved from second base. And now the team had another third baseman and it seemed there was nowhere for Young.

Instead, Young has wound up playing everywhere. In addition to 68 starts as the team's DH, he's made 39 starts at third base, 36 at first base and 13 at second. He may be the team's MVP -- with V standing for both valuable and versatile. He played in all but two games this season, and produced. He's hitting .338/.380/.477 -- all improvements over last season -- along with 11 home runs (down from a year ago), 104 RBI and a MLB-best 209 hits.

"People want to talk MVP? It's ridiculous if they don't consider Michael Young," Rangers manager Ron Washington told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I'd like someone to tell me a utility player who does what he does… When it all started, nobody thought he'd be able to get playing time."

The AL MVP vote could be one of the toughest in recent years, but Washington's right, Young should seriously be considered.

Rockies to be aggressive in offseason: The Rockies were many people's pick to win the National League West, or at least the wild card. Instead, the team has limped to a 71-87 record so far, 21 games behind the surprising Diamondbacks. Colorado has money to spend and will look for several upgrades in order to be competitive in 2012. [Denver Post]

Sayonara Kuroda? Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda said there's a 50-50 chance he returns to Japan next year. Kuroda is 13-16 with a 3.17 ERA this season. [MLB.com]

Rasmus blames Cardinals: Colby Rasmus hasn't played well since going to Toronto, and for that, he's blaming the Cardinals. The 25-year-old center fielder has as much talent as anyone, but his head seems to continue to get in his way. Maybe Tony La Russa was right… [National Post]

Pinch-runner paying dividends: Tyler Greene isn't playing much shortstop for the Cardinals, but he's still making his mark on the bases. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Stadium holding back A's: The A's still hope to get a new stadium in San Jose, but if they do they'll likely hold back on spending -- because the stadium wouldn't be ready for at least three years, and the team would want to build toward opening strong in the new stadium. At least, that's what the agents for Josh Willingham hear. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Extending DatDude: Reds general manager Walt Jocketty will meet with the agents for second baseman Brandon Phillips in New York this week to talk about an extension. Jocketty has already said the team would pick up Phillips' $12 million option for 2012. [MLB.com]

Sanchez hopeful: Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez said he expects to be ready for opening day in 2012. Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery in August. [San Jose Mercury News]

Homecoming: You think it's bad when you see minivans with a kid's name and number on the back? I know I'd be embarrassed if if my mom had "Trent" and "CBSSports.com" on the back of her car. Or even if she wore a t-shirt with that around town. Well, imagine how embarrassed Reds rookie Devin Mesoraco felt when his mother distributed more than 700 t-shirts with his image and name on it for Saturday's game in Pittsburgh. [OMGReds.com]

Maybin wants to stay in San Diego: Cameron Maybin has apparently found a home in San Diego. When asked if he was open to signing a long-term deal with the Padres, Maybin said "100 percent." You can also find out where he buys his shoes. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

If you don't hit does it matter where you hit? The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano isn't happy about batting seventh most of the season fo rthe Cubs. Shouldn't he be more upset with him putting up the type of production that makes him a seven-hitter? [ESPNChicago.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 10:00 am
 

Pepper: Concussion continues to haunt Morneau

Justin Morneau

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Justin Morneau said the concussion symptoms that will keep him out until at least Friday are "nothing like" what he went through last year, and I'm sure that's true.

But the fact that Morenau began experiencing those symptoms (a headache and fogginess) on Monday and still had the remnants of the symptoms on Tuesday are scary. There's so little we know about concussions, there's little understanding of how our brains react to being move inside its casing and how long it can affect a human.

Morneau has had plenty of other problems this season, but until this week concussions hadn't been part of his problem -- or at least that we know. That's the thing with concussions, there's so much we don't know and we may never know. Science is a wonderful thing, but it takes time. 

What is impressive is how the Twins have handled this -- they didn't rush Morneau back last season when they could have used him and they're taking all precautions this season. I hope this doesn't last the rest of Morneau's career, but I think it'd hardly be a surprise if it did.

There was a lot of attention to concussions last year in the NFL season, but this isn't just a football problem or even just a sports problem, it's a medical problem that we should all take a lot of interest in and make sure we understand as much as possible. Those who say it's just "ringing a bell" and players need to be "tougher" are just ignorant and it's a mindset that must be changed. [Star Tribune]

Game-changer: Technology isn't just great for fans -- the players are using technology in many ways to improve their games. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark takes an in-depth look at the way baseball is using technology, from iPads to using stats to predict pitching patterns. It's well worth the read.

Elite company: Marlins right-hander Javier Vazquez became the 30th pitch in major-league history to record 2,500 strikeouts in Tuesday's game victory over the Mets. [Miami Herald]

Rehab updates: Grady Sizemore will start his rehab assignment on Wednesday [MLB.com], while Boston's Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew started their rehab assignments on Tuesday -- Drew went 3 for 3 and Youkilis went 1 for 4 with a walk and reached on an error. [Dan Hoard]

Price of success: Remember Pirate Fever earlier this summer? Well, Pittsburgh fans are going to pay for it as the team is raising its prices for 2012. That said, the increase is modest from an average of $15.30 to $16.11 per ticket. The Pirates had the lowest average ticket price in baseball (in one of the best settings) for 2011 and will still be close, if not at, the bottom next season. The Pirates hadn't raised prices in a decade. The Pirates said most tickets would stay the same, decrease or increase by $3 or less. The dugout box seats will be raised by $5 -- but only $2 more than they were in 2002. [Pittsburgh Tribube-Review]

Favorite things: The Tigers wives put together auction gift baskets filled with players' favorite things every year, and you can learn a lot about some of baseball's best -- like Justin Verlander likes crappy food and crappy movies, Ryan Raburn loves killin' stuff, why Daniel Schlereth smells funny and that Phil Coke uses "liquid titanium massage lotion." [H/T MLive.com]

R and RBI: Curtis Granderson is leading the big leagues in both runs and RBI -- a feat that has been done just 19 times before, six times by Babe Ruth. [Baseball-Reference.com]

Wakefield pushed back: Tim Wakefield's seemingly never-ending search for his 200th win will be delayed a bit, as Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the knuckleballer that he's skipping his turn in the rotation for a turn. Andrew Miller will start Friday against Texas instead of Wakefield. Wakefield is 0-3 with a 4.97 ERA in seven starts since his winning No. 199. [Boston Globe]

Call ups: The clubhouse at Great American Ball Park could get pretty crowded. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said "quite a few" players will get called up when the rosters expand. The most heralded is catcher Devin Mesoraco, who Evan wrote about Tuesday. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

In-flight entertainment: You may be able to watch baseball games live on your phone on a flight. [Los Angeles Times]

Father-son show: Former Met Howard Johnson, 50, will play alongside his son, Glen, for the independent Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League on Sunday and Monday. [New York Daily News]

Cool card: Check out these awesome baseball cards fans got when they went to a My Morning Jacket concert in Philadelphia last week. Very, very cool. [UniWatch Blog]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 6:25 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 11:41 pm
 

September Storylines: Minor-leaguers to get calls

Mesoraco

By Evan Brunell

With September around the corner, major-league rosters will be expanded to 40 men, allowing teams to call up players for any reason. Whether that be taking a look at a player that could be a big part of the team's future or supplementing playoff contenders, the transition to 40 men will change games in September. Here's a look at nine players who could have significant roles moving forward that could dictate a team's immediate and long-term future. For the purposes of this discussion, we're limiting the candidates to those with little-to-zero MLB experience, as well as those who have yet to make an impact in the majors. (In other words, no Stephen Strasburg, Pedro Alvarez or similar candidates.)

Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos, Yankees: The hubbub has been all about Jesus Montero for quite some time, and he should finally get the call to New York on Thursday. When he arrives, Montero should collect enough starts behind the dish and as DH for the Yankees to evaluate whether he can help them in October. While the Yankees have enjoyed a productive DH combination of Andruw Jones and Jorge Posada, Montero could easily outdistance the two if he delivers on his promise.

Banuelos, meanwhile, has a chance to be a sneaky threat. The Yankees lack a true viable left-handed reliever as Boone Logan's effectiveness in that role has been deceptive. Banuelos was expected to be converted to relief in the hopes of helping in that role down the stretch, but has remained in the rotation for Triple-A, making six starts and posting a 3.03 ERA, and GM Brian Cashman said a couple weeks ago that it was unlikely Banuelos would be called up.

I'm not sure we should buy into that, however. Banuelos has long been linked to an eventual call-up and can help the team. Plus, don't look now, but the Rays have made up some ground recently, and the wild card is not even close to being in hand, while a three-game set with division-leading Boston coming up Tuesday night will also have ripple effects. Given A.J. Burnett has imploded, Phil Hughes is a box of chocolates (you never know what you're gonna get) and Bartolo Colon has shown chinks in his armor lately, Banuelos could end up a surprise starter down the stretch and save New York's season.

Devin Mesoraco, Reds (pictured): The Reds have an embarrassment of riches at catcher, with Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan equipping themselves well in the majors, while Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal continue rising up prospect charts down on the farm. Mesoraco could be the best of them all and will get a chance to prove that in September. Hitting .289/.372/.486 in 495 plate appearances for Triple-A, the 23-year-old figures to bump Hernandez off the team this winter. The Reds are clear sellers in a disappointing season after winning the division, and a strong debut by Mesoraco could get the team chomping at the bit for 2012.

Anthony Rizzo, Padres: Rizzo fell on his face in an earlier promotion to the majors after ripping apart Triple-A. Hitting .143/.282/.265 in 117 plate appearances isn't how one wants to start his career, but Rizzo should get another shot in September, although he'll have to jostle for playing time due to Kyle Blanks and Jesus Guzman. The 21-year-old has nothing to prove in the minors, ripping 26 home runs in just 89 Triple-A at-bats and could be an important piece to the Padres' 2012 hopes, so he'll get plenty of chances to redeem himself. The guess here? He will.

September Storylines
To come:
    • A look at the postseason races
Jacob Turner, Tigers: Turner already made a spot start for the Tigers, but Detroit could dip down again for the phenom that could top the rotation one day. The freshly-minted 20-year-old has a 3.44 ERA in 20 minor-league starts, all but three at Double-A. Overall, he's tossed 136 1/3 innings in 2011, which is a significant leap forward from 2010's 115 1/3 innings, so inning limitations could play in. However, if Detroit wants to make the postseason and go deep, they have to do something to support Justin Verlander in the rotation. Max Scherzer has been playing a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde act, and Doug Fister is a capable pitcher but no one's idea of a lockdown starter. If the Tigers take the gloves off, Turner could emerge to be an important piece.

Stephen Lombardozzi, Nationals: The Nationals already have a middle-infield combination in Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, but the Nationals balked at including Lombardozzi in a potential trade for Minnesota's Denard Span for a reason. The second baseman will receive a look in September as a potential solution at second next year, which forces Desmond and Espinosa into a tough position of playing for their jobs. Lombardozzi is only 22 but has handled Triple-A with aplomb, slashing .320/.364/.426 after a promotion from Double-A. If he plays well down the stretch, one of Desmond or Espinosa will likely be playing in another uniform come 2012 and could be the prime bait needed to grab the long-term center fielder the team so covets. A strong September by Lombardozzi could have ramifications for years in Washington.

Wilin Rosario, Rockies: Chris Iannetta hasn't given the Rockies any indication he can be a long-term, viable starter, but it's OK because Rosario can be that man. While Rosario hasn't exactly lit the world on fire in his repeat of Double-A with a .254/.285/.468 line over 410 PA a year after hitting .285/.342/.552 in 297 PA, he will be receiving a call-up and will play extensively down the stretch. Rosario is well-regarded by both the organization and prospect mavens, so he's a player to watch.

Domonic Brown, Phillies: Brown already tried and failed to hold down a starting job earlier this year, and his role will be greatly reduced in September thanks to the recent play of Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry, but don't overlook Brown. Any day, Ibanez or Mayberry could stop hitting and Brown would be looked at to step in and keep the offense going. Even if not, the Phillies have been linked to Jim Thome and Jason Giambi in recent days as ways to shore up the bench. Brown is a left-hander... even if he's not oozing with power or established. Still, he could be that pinch-hit threat off the bench Philadelphia is looking for in October. He hasn't exactly inspired confidence in Triple-A, but the light could go on any day and when it does, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Brett Jackson, Cubs: As the Cubs look to move past the futility that has dogged them in recent years, Brett Jackson could be a breath of fresh air. While his call-up isn't guaranteed, he's ripped apart Triple-A despite striking out in 30.6 percent of his at-bats. That can be forgiven with a .319/.395/.583 line in 186 plate appearances, which could force the Cubs' hand. Long considered the Cubs' center fielder of the future, that could turn into the present as Chicago begins evaluating its prospects for 2012. With Kosuke Fukudome out the door, Tyler Colvin struggling and Marlon Byrd not part of the future, Jackon could be in line for significant playing time. If he produces, that's one less spot Chicago has to worry about filling, and will give the team someone young on offense other than Starlin Castro to build around.

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Posted on: July 30, 2011 1:01 am
 

Hernandez could go even if Reds don't sell

Ramon HernandezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Reds were just swept by the Mets in Cincinnati and welcome the defending champions to Great American Ball Park this weekend, but general manager Walt Jocketty told reporters the team still considers itself a buyer.

"We are not selling," Jocketty told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.

The Reds enter Friday in fourth place in the National League Central, 6 1/2 games behind Milwaikee and five games behind both Pittsburgh and St. Louis. The Reds have six games left with the Pirates and three each with the Brewers and Cardinals, but just 19 of their remaining 54 games are against teams with winning records, and only six games in August are against teams currently with a winning record.

Even if the Reds do consider themselves still in the race despite the mountain ahead of them, that doesn't preclude a trade at the deadline that sends off a member of their roster.

The Giants are reportedly interested in Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez, a free agent after the season. Jocketty said he hasn't listened to offers for Hernandez -- yet.

"I haven't no, and I don't know if I would," Jocketty said. "I still think he's a guy that can help us with this year. I think his value is greater to us now than if we were to move him. You're not going to get the value in return for him that he gives our club. That's why we would hold on to him."

Of course, the Cardinals had no plans on moving Colby Rasmus, either. At this time of the year, anything a general manager says should be taken with a grain of salt -- it can always be a smokescreen or something he wants other to hear. Even if the Reds are buying and not selling, that doesn't necessarily rule out a Hernandez deal.

Hernandez, 35, is having a fantastic season offensively for the Reds, hitting .308/.368/.500 with 10 home runs. That's a vast improvement over Giants catcher Eli Whiteside (.225/.312/.370) and Chris Stewart (.211/.294/.276).

And as good as he's been, he's expendable because the Reds not only have one of the game's top catching prospects, but that prospect is knocking down the door of the majors. Devin Mesoraco is hitting .305/.376/.496 with 10 home runs and 59 RBI at Triple-A Louisville. The team also has veteran Ryan Hanigan at the big-league level, who is a good defensive catcher and under contract through 2013 for just $3.25 million over the next two seasons. Hernandez is a free agent after the season for the Reds.

But if the Reds do deal Hernandez to the Giants, they may wait until right at Sunday's 4 p.m ET deadline, as Cincinnati hosts San Francisco all weekend and wouldn't want to a lineup that had Hernandez in it instead of either Whiteside or Stewart. Hernandez has also caught every inning Sunday's starter, Johnny Cueto, has thrown this season. The teams play at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted the Reds want pitching in return for Hernandez -- and a San Francisco official said "That, we got a lot of." Keep in mind the Reds could likely get compensation for Hernandez if he left as a free agent. One name to keep an eye on, left-hander Eric Surkamp of Double-A Richmond. Surkamp is 8-3 with a 2.05 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 114 innings for the Flying Squirrels. He's also a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Moeller High School, the alma mater of former Reds Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com