Saturday, April 19, 2008

Progress Report

Well, it's still early in the season, but it's not too soon to take a look to see how things stand in Reds land.

Johnny Cueto

It appears that Reds fans have at long last have successfully paid their penance for whatever offense was given to the baseball gods, because Cueto is the pitcher for whom we've been waiting over two decades.

His blend of power and control ranks with the very best. On the season, Johnny has a 29/3 strikeout-walk ratio, which portends very well for his future success.

Corey Patterson

Patterson was bizarre acquisition when he was making zero money. Unfortunately, it came out that by making the MLB roster, Patterson's salary increased to $3M in 2008. It seems an odd signing at that price, because Patterson had no other suitors for his service. Unfortunately, even given Patterson's declining production, he's unlikely to lose his starting job any time soon, as he's a Dusty guy and his salary gives him a lot of leeway.

Edinson Volquez

While it is still early, Volquez has been impressive. He has the stuff to be a top of the rotation pitcher, but in the past when he hasn't had his good stuff on a given day he hasn't been able to hold it together. He was all or nothing, but this season he is doing a better job of grinding it out with less than his best stuff.

Ideally, Edinson will have his good stuff on most days, but it's comforting to see that he can keep the team in the game when nothing is working for him. Consistency will continue to be a problem, but for now he is throwing well.

Bronson Arroyo

Sadly, at this point it is clear that Arroyo's stellar 2006 season was the exception, rather than the rule. Unfortunately, the Reds paid Arroyo on the basis of his 2006 season. Given Arroyo's lackluster 2007 and his poor start to 2008, it would seem that Arroyo is only the 4th best pitcher on the staff. At this point, Bronson is a solid, inning eater and nothing more.

Krivsky's decision to extend Arroyo's contract was a poor one. Arroyo was locked into a below market contract, but the Reds extended him and brought his salary up to the going rate. The decision was a clear knee-jerk reaction to the Reds perennial lack of starting pitching, but with the good young arms coming up through the system, Arroyo is becoming overpaid and underproductive all at the same time.

Joey Votto

Votto is off to an encouraging and (possibly) discouraging start. On the year, Votto is hitting the ball very well. His batting average is .326 and he is slugging .605. All of which is great, but oddly enough he has yet to walk in 43 ABs. It could be nothing but a sample size issue or it could be indicative of Votto buying into Dusty's "suggestion" that Votto get more aggressive. Personally, I'll hope for the former, instead of the latter, but it certainly bears watching.

If Votto has really changed his approach in order to secure more playing time, then it could cause problems down the road.

Edwin Encarnacion

As to be expected, Edwin continues to battle inconsistency. Unfortunately, any benefits of his bat have been offset by his weakness with the glove. He already has 6 errors on the season and his offensive production hasn't been all that impressive. It is becoming more and more clear that Edwin is not a third baseman, which puts the Reds on the horns of an interesting dilemma. They don't have anywhere else to play Edwin, so I'm not sure what will happen.

Jeff Keppinger

Kepp just hits and hits and hits. He's remarkable and has certainly made a strong case for a starting job when A-Gon gets back. At this point, it looks like Kepp will steal Edwin's job.


  1. I'm still sticking with Edwin. He will make a lot of great plays, and botch some too. He already has but I'm liking his bb/k ratio and some little things like how he hit a really good pitcher pitch out off Gagne. His numbers in his hitting streak are promising and of course there are the clutch moments. Gotta love Cueto's WHIP and Volquez's ERA. I think the Votto issue is interesting. For some reason, I think Baker might have a good idea on this one. Votto seems to hit balls well throughout the strike (and ball) zone when he's going good. He's probably getting lots of strikes at this point which may not continue if he stays hot. I think he's a pro so he can adjust as things change. For now, I think he's doing a good job putting good wood on big league pitches.

  2. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    I admire your patience on Edwin. I wish I had as much, but I just can't handle the shoddy defense AND the inconsistent offense. He is truly a maddening player, but I think I could get behind him a bit more if they were to move him off of the hot corner.

    I continue to believe that this team doesn't have the defense to make a serious playoff push. Dunn, Griffey, Edwin, and Votto strike me as significant liabilities with the leather. Until things change for the better, I'm not sure it's realistic to expect winning seasons.

    As for Votto, he actually earned his first walk of the season after the post, so I was pleased. Still, given how he destroyed minor league pitching last year and continued to crush the ball in September against the big boys, I'd prefer it if Dusty just put him in the lineup and let him be.

    The Reds still have problems, but it is fun having some young pitchers who can run the ball up there 95+ mph. Let's hope that Bailey can eventually join them in that regard, as that would make the Reds rotation rather formidable.