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Tag:Edinson Volquez
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:27 pm
 

Spring primer: San Diego Padres

Bud Black

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Padres' offseason was dominated by their trade with the Reds -- sending starter Mat Latos to Cincinnati for four players, including projected starting first baseman Yonder Alonso and former All-Star Edinson Volquez. In an attempt to find more offense, the Padres also added Carlos Quentin in a deal with the White Sox. The Padres know their problem is scoring runs, and now it's just trying to figure out how to get it.

Major additions: OF Carlos Quentin, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Edinson Volquez
Major departures: CL Heath Bell, RHP Mat Latos, 1B Anthony Rizzo, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Aaron Harang

Probable lineup
1. Will Venable RF
2. Chase Headley 3B
3. Cameron Maybin CF
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Nick Hundley C
7. Orlando Hudson 2B
8. Jason Bartlett SS

Probable rotation
1. Tim Stauffer
2. Clayton Richard
3. Edinson Volquez
4. Cory Luebke
5. Dustin Moseley

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Huston Street
Set-up: Luke Gregerson, Andrew Cashner, Joe Thatcher

Important bench players
OF Chris Denorfia, 1B Jesus Guzman, C John Baker, RP/PH Micah Owings

Prospects to watch
While the Latos trade is one that will be referenced throughout the season, the team could ultimately benefit more from last season's traded that sent reliever Mike Adams to Texas in return for right-hander Joe Wieland and left-hander Robbie Erlin. Both Wieland and Erlin are control pitchers with flyball tendencies that will benefit from the trade. Both starters project to benefit from pitching half their games at spacious Petco Park rather than at the bandbox in Texas. Wieland went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts at Double-A San Antonio after the trade, while Erlin was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in six starts for the Padres' Texas League affiliate. Both could find themselves in the big leagues later this year.

Fantasy sleeper: Edinson Volquez
"Volquez struck out 19 in 23 2/3 innings and held the opposition to a .250 batting average in four September starts. Another reason to be encouraged is that Volquez has a strong history at his new home ballpark, going 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. PETCO Park can also help Volquez as he looks to cut down on his home runs allowed. Volquez was plagued by the long ball in 2011, yielding 1.6 homers per nine innings." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Yonder Alonso
"There are a few issues heading into 2012 we need to highlight before Fantasy owners reach for Alonso on Draft Day. The first being that he is moving to pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Alonso is more of a line-drive hitter, which won't help his power numbers in San Diego. Second, Alonso is just 69 games into his MLB career. Once opposing teams get a better scouting report, the road will almost certainly get tougher for Alonso." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The offensive additions bring a jolt to the Padres, with Quentin leading the way. While Petco does play big, it's not as extreme against right-handed pull hitters and he has one of the best offensive seasons we've seen in Petco. Speaking of offense, Alonso's left-handed but his natural stroke leads to a ton of doubles and with Maybin on base more often, he scores easily on so many of Alonso's two-baggers. The pitching staff benefits from the park more than the offense hurts and once again an unheralded pitching staff dominates -- led by a finally healthy Volquez -- and leads San Diego to a surprising run at the National League West title.

Pessimistic outlook
It's the same old, same old -- decent pitching at home, but not enough runs. Without scoring runs, the team slogs through another season, losing more than 90 games again. But hey, they're still in San Diego, so it's not all that bad.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:22 pm
 

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 31, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Padres making moves for 2012

Josh ByrnesBy C. Trent Rosecrans 

While the White Sox have sent some mixed messages this offseason, the Padres have not. New San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes wants his team to score more runs in 2012, and he again made a move to try to do that acquiring outfielder Carlos Quentin from the White Sox in exchange for two minor-league pitchers.

"Ownership let us stretch payroll to make this move," Byrnes said Saturday afternoon on a conference call. "We started a couple of years ago, when (former GM) Jed (Hoyer) put a big focus on building a talent base and acquiring prospects to a point where it's a real strength. (Owner Jeff Morad) told me we had ways to stretch our payroll if we can be a surprise team in 2012 and have a foundation to sustain success at the Major League level."

Byrnes, who took over the team when Hoyer went to the Cubs, has used not only what is arguably the game's deepest farm system, but also some of the current talent to improve the Padres' immediate future. 

Since taking over, Byrnes acquired a replacement at closer for Heath Bell in Huston Street, pulled off a big trade with the Reds that brought in Yonder Alonso and Edinson Volquez, along with more prospects, for Mat Latos. And the Byrnes may not be done yet.

"We feel like we still have some work to do," Byrnes said. "I think certainly the biggest weakness of the 2011 team, the offense, we feel like we've taken some steps to improve it."

Quentin -- if healthy -- could be a big part of the new Padres lineup, hitting in the middle of the lineup along with Chase Headley and Nick Hundley.

Quentin was named to his second All-Star team last season, hitting 17 home runs in the first half of the season, before being limited to just 33 games after the All-Star Game in Arizona. The San Diego native -- and current resident -- hit 36 homers in 2008 and has averaged nearly 24 homers a season since, despite playing in just 116 games a year since his break-out season.

San Diego Padres

"He's a real threat and we lacked that last season," Byrnes said. "Last year, when we were down two or three runs, we were out of the game."

Quentin also is a better fit than many for Petco Park because he's a right-handed hitter and the majority of his homers are to left field, where it's easier to homer at Petco. Of Quentin's 24 home runs in 2011, all but one came to the left of second base. While U.S. Cellular Field has the opposite reputation for home run hitters as Petco, 14 of his 24 homers were calculated to have gone out in all 30 parks, according to HitTrackerOnline.com -- and as Byrnes noted, the Padres do play half their games away from Petco Park, something he's no doubt told free agent hitters since taking over.

"I've heard the different talks about the park. I was here when the park was first built -- I'm familiar with it, I've played here," Quentin said. "Bottom line is I'm a hitter first. … It's always been my approach to hit first and stay within myself. That's the most ideal approach to produce power. I'm not planning on changing that at all."

Acquiring Quentin helps rectify what Byrnes called one of his "regrets." As general manager of the Diamondbacks, Byrnes sent Quentin to the White Sox in December of 2007 in a move that helped bring Dan Haren to Arizona.

"The key point with Carlos is the intensity he has, he plays with a real edge and that's something we've been missing," Byrnes said.

Quentin will play left field, joining center fielder Cameron Maybin in the outfield a likely platoon of Will Venable and Chris Denorfia in right. The team also has Kyle Blanks, Mark Kotsay and Jesus Guzman, meaning another trade is far from unlikely at this point.

While one of the pitchers the Padres traded away, right-hander Simon Castro, was ranked as a Top 100 prospect before the 2011 season, he struggled in 2011 at Double-A and Triple-A, putting up a 5.63 ERA (although some of that can be attributed to the altitude in Tucson). Castro, and left-hander Pedro Hernandez, were unlikely to be ranked in the Padres' Top 10. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein had Castro ranked as the team's 20th best prospect and Hernandez wasn't ranked by Goldstein, so the true cost of the Padres' acquisition will be money. Quentin is arbitration-eligible and will be a free agent after the season. He could make as much as $8 million this season through arbitration, plus the Padres took on payroll in the Latos deal, meaning the team could see a significant bump in its payroll for 2012.

As for the White Sox, they have perhaps the worst minor-league system in baseball and the acquisition of Castro and Hernandez should help. Both should be in Chicago's top prospects list. The White Sox have already traded off closer Sergio Santos and despite the extension for John Danks, the team appears to be in rebuilding mode, which is why they went ahead and dealt Quentin.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Texas Rangers

Mark Teixeira

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/past entries of this feature, click here.

The Rangers are in an interesting position in the franchise's history -- no longer a middle-of-the-road team, the Rangers have turned themselves into one of the game's biggest players. The team has reached the last two World Series with a mixture of homegrown players (Ian Kinsler, C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando), savvy trades (sending Mark Teixeira to Atlanta for a haul that included Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz, plus the deal with the Reds getting Josh Hamilton) and big-ticket free-agents (Adrian Beltre). It's tough to argue with the results, as the Rangers have positioned themselves into becoming one of the top teams in baseball and don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Lineup

1. Ian Kinsler, SS
2. Craig Gentry, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Edwin Encarnacion, 2B
7. Laynce Nix, RF
8. John Mayberry, LF
9. Taylor Teagarden, C

Starting Rotation

1. C.J. Wilson
2. John Danks
3. Derek Holland
4. Colby Lewis
5. Ryan Dempster

Bullpen

Closer - Joaquin Benoit
Set up - Darren Oliver, Nick Masset, Scott Feldman, Jesse Chavez, Yoshinori Tateyama
Long - Tommy Hunter

Notable Bench Players

Ivan Rodriguez will be in discussion for the Hall of Fame when his career ends, but he's now a backup catcher and could be a good one. You have a pair of first baseen in Justin Smoak and Mitch Moreland who aren't going to strike fear into too many pitchers, as well as two outfielders probably better defensively or as pinch runners in Jason Bourgeois and Scott Podsednik.

What's Good?

The rotation is deep -- in addition to the five listed, you could also throw in R.A. Dickey, Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez. And while there's no real shut-down closer, there are some very good bullpen arms, and the list above doesn't include Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Danny Herrera.

What's Not?

Besides Kinsler and Teixeira, the lineup is suspect. And the defense is worse. The outfield is kind of a hodgepodge, while the infield is a disaster with only Carlos Pena playing in his usual position. While Teixeira hasn't played third base since his rookie year in 2003, Kinsler has never played shortstop, nor has Encarnacion ever played second base -- but there just wasn't a whole lot of options. The outfield doesn't have the likes of Hamilton or Nelson Cruz to help out, either.

Comparison to real 2011

Would this team wind up in World Series? Not bloody likely. The pitching is fine and even maybe an slight upgrade to the team that won the American League pennant again in 2011, but that lineup is demonstratively worse. The Rangers were third in baseball in runs and second in OPS, and without Hamilton, Cruz, Mike Napoli, Michael Young and Beltre, this squad isn't going to do anything close to that. Teixeira is a good player -- and Pena could put up big homer numbers in that ballpark -- but those losses from the real squad are just too much to overcome. This team is maybe a .500 squad, at best, and that's only because of the depth in the pitching staff.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Why the Padres traded Mat Latos

Yonder Alonso

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 Reds' reasons here, but here's why the Padres sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati:

The Padres aren't expected to contend in 2012, instead, they're building for the future, just as they did last season when they sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. While the Padres sent Gonzalez to Boston because they couldn't afford to pay him what he was going to make, they traded Latos to add overall talent, getting two big leaguers and two prospects who aren't far off. 

As for Latos, the 24-year-old came into 2011 as the team's ace, but failed to live up to his outstanding 2010. The Padres were unhappy that Latos came into spring training last season out of shape and they also questioned his maturity at times. San Diego has stockpiled young pitching with the likes of Tim Stauffer and Clayton Richard -- with Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin in the minor leagues getting closer to being able to contribute. And let's face it, you don't need swing-and-miss stuff to succeed at Petco Park.

"Some of these guys who I have been around, I remember guys we had in Cleveland like Jaret Wright and Bartolo Colon who were untouchables. Colon went on to have a great career, Wright was injured. It's part of the risk and reward with any pitcher," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Mat grew up in a hurry in the big leagues, he was probably going to do very well. We have a very good group of pitchers, and we have a good group in Double-A coming behind them." 

Brad BoxbergerThe bottom line for San Diego is they got more talent than they gave up on Saturday.

In all, San Diego got four players and three, if not all four, could play in San Diego this upcoming season.

Anthony Rizzo may be the Padres' top prospect, but the first baseman wasn't expected to be ready to man the position right away. Yonder Alonso, on the other hand, is more than ready. Playing nearly with any other team, he'd have gotten more than 98 plate appearances than he got with the Reds in 2011. But that's what happens when you're playing behind the reining MVP. In those 98 plate appearances, he hit .330/.398/.545 and showed a bit of power, but his plate awareness was even more impressive. The Reds flirted with putting Alonso in left field and at third base, but he never gained the confidence of the team's top brass at either spot. Byrnes said the team would use Alonso at first, and "probably not" in the outfield.

• Yasmani Grandal was Cincinnati's top pick in 2010. A switch-hitting catcher, Grandal played at three different levels in 2011, hitting 14 home runs between Single-A Bakersfield, Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville. Like Alonso, his former teammate at the University of Miami, Grandal's knowledge of the strike zone and approach at the plate is one of his top attributes. Reviews of his work behind the plate have been mixed so far. While he may not be ready to play in the majors this season, he is still easily the Padres' top catching prospect. San Diego drafted Austin Hedges in the second round of the 2011 draft and have been impressed by him, but he's still several years away from the majors.

• Brad Boxberger (pictured) isn't one of the names many casual fans had heard of, but the Reds were considering him in the mix for the closer spot if they are unable to find a free-agent or trade replacement for Francisco Cordero. The Padres also think he could be a closer for them down the line. A supplemental first-rounder in the 2009 draft out of USC, Boxberger had 11 saves between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, striking out 93 batters in 62 innings. He has struggled with control, but showed better command in the Arizona Fall League. On Saturday, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said Boxberger was possibly the key to the deal. The Reds had been dangling the other three players, but didn't want to move Boxberger. But the Padres insisted and Jocketty made the move.

• Finally there's the former All-Star, Edinson Volquez. Still just 28, Volquez's talent has never been in question. He has an electric right arm and a great changeup. As much as his control has been in question, the true struggles have been above the neck. He was twice sent to the minor leagues in 2011, mirroring his behavior from earlier in his career with the Rangers. The Reds, unsure if Josh Hamilton could stay healthy and wanting an elite arm, traded Hamilton for Volquez and Daniel Ray Herrera after the 2007 season. Both Volquez and Hamilton made the All-Star team in 2008, but Volquez then had arm troubles and missed most of 2009 and 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Since his return, he's showed velocity, but not control or consistency. He could bounce back, but walks have been his biggest problem, so playing at Petco Park won't help him as much as other pitchers. 

"Volquez is a bit of a wild card here," Byrnes said. "He was a very decorated prospect, an All-Star coming off Tommy John surgery and he hasn't returned to form. We think his stuff is very good, 90-96, a devastating changeup. Given his age, another year past surgery, our pitching coach and our ballpark, hopefully it can turn around for him." 

Latos is a talent, but in the end, the Reds offered just too much for the Padres to walk away from the deal.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
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: 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.
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Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: July 26, 2011 8:21 am
 

Monday's trade rumor roundup

By C. Trent Rosecrans

As the non-waiver trade deadline looms on Sunday, the rumors are coming fast and furious -- with some make sense and others not so much. Much of what you hear at this time of year is a smokescreen, but baseball fans love gossip more than junior high school girls, with less regard to the truth. So, to help satisfy that desire, we're rounding up the day's rumors in one place.

• The Rays won't deal James Shields, our own CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler reports. Tampa Bay has told other teams that they won't discuss Shields, David Price or Jeremy Hellickson. That said, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are available, as is B.J. Upton.

MLB Trade Deadline

• The Rays are also offering closer Kyle Farnsworth to anyone interested, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.

• CBSSports.com's Scott Miller says he's also heard that the Phillies have "way cooled" on acquiring Carlos Beltran, backing up Knobler's report from Sunday.

• Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets the Rangers and Giants are ahead of the Phillies and Braves as of Monday.

• The chance of the Rockies dealing Ubaldo Jimenez is "around 50/50" FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes, citing a "major-league source close to the talks." He adds the Reds are still involved and the Tigers are interested as well. Morosi reports one team has exchanged names with the Rockies.

• The Reds are drawing interest on right-hander Edinson Volquez, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com tweets.

• The Cardinals and Nationals have talked about sending Todd Coffey -- a former Red and Brewer -- to St. Louis. The team would like to keep Tyler Clippard, but if someone wows them, they're open, Morosi tweets.

• The Yankees won't move top prospects -- such as left-hander Manny Banuelos, right-hander Dellin Betances or catchers Jesus Montero or Austin Romine -- unless they get an ace-type pitcher in return, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

• The Phillies are "aggressive" on Heath Bell and Mike Adams of the Padres, but are surprised they aren't getting more interest fron the Yankees, Cardinals and Reds, Sherman tweets.

• Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez is available, but with $40 million left on his contract, another general manager tells Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman, "nobody's going to touch Wandy."

• Hiroki Kuroda would consider waiving his no-trade clause if he's sent to the Yankees or Red Sox, "a baseball official"  tells ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand. However, the teams "hottest" on Kuroda are reportedly the Indians, Tigers and Rangers, according to Rosenthal.

• It's not a trade, but a player acquisition -- the Brewers, Giants, Mariners and A's are interested in Wily Mo Pena, who was released by the Diamondbacks on Sunday, Heyman tweets. He makes the most sense in the American League where he doesn't need a glove. [Heyman]

• Aaron Harang had been mentioned in some trade talks, but there are reports that San Diego would like to keep him and re-sign him, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Harang, a San Diego native, would love to stay there -- and keep pitching in Petco Park.

• The Phillies are interested in Colorado's Jason Giambi, Rosenthal tweets. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post tweets the Pirates are interested in Giambi as well. He's hitting .263/.360/.632 with 10 homers in 111 plate appearances. Giambi had talked about possibly moving to an American League team to DH, but he could still be a valuable left-handed bat off the bench for a National League team. [FoxSports.com and Denver Post]

• The Braves are still interested in the Astros' Hunter Pence, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.

• Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com's Lyle Spencer the team probably wouldn't make a big move at the trade deadline, instead hoping the team can improve from within -- especially with the addition of Fernando Rodney from the disabled list.

• Texas manager Ron Washington called the bullpen a "priority" at the trading deadline, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.

• One reliever who won't be available to the Rangers, or anyone, is Seattle closer Brandon League. Chuck Armstrong tells Morosi a trade involving League is not likely.

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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