Friday, October 8, 2010

NLDS Game 2: Pre-Game Thoughts

The Reds took it on the chin in Game 1 and look to get up off the mat in Game 2. Playing the role of stopper for the Redlegs will be Bronson Arroyo. For all intents and purposes, the Reds playoff livelihood is on the line tonight. If they dump Game 2, then the climb back into the series is all but insurmountable, especially with Roy Halladay lurking around the corner. Interestingly enough, Bronson Arroyo is, or at least should, be pitching for his future with the organization.

The Reds hold an $11M team option on Arroyo for 2011 with a $2M buyout. The Reds also have a surfeit of starting pitching in 2011, including Cueto, Edinson, Homer, Travis Wood, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and others. Does it make sense to pay Arroyo that kind of money when you have stable of young, cost effective starters already in the mix? I would submit that it only makes sense for games like tonight. That's the role that Arroyo needs to fill to justify such a significant financial outlay. We simply don't need him to beat up on the dregs of the NL Central. No, we need him to be a veteran stopper against the elite teams. If he can do that, then he should certainly have a role on this team going forward.

Tonight is a prime example of the caliber of lineup you have to face and defeat to win a championship. Unfortunately, Arroyo's current pitching profile is not that of a dominating pitcher, which could mean struggles against an offense like the Phillies. Of course, he has made a career out of proving me wrong, but from a statistical standpoint, the odds are likely against him tonight.

In 2010, Arroyo has 3.88 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, which are impressive numbers, but the component stats simply don't support his overall performance. His FIP is 4.61 and his xFIP is 4.60, so there are some legitimate questions on Arroyo. He managed to outperform his FIP and xFIP last year as well, but I'm not sure gambling big money on Arroyo continuing this level of performance is the best way to go. His strikeouts per nine has fallen for the third year (7.34 to 5.19 to 5.05) in a row and now sits at a borderline acceptable level. History shows that starting pitchers need to strikeout more than 5.0 hitters per nine in order to maintain consistent, year-in year-out success. Arroyo is trending in the wrong direction. Additionally, Arroyo had a BABIP of .246, which is probably unsustainable, even if he has managed to reduce his line drive rate to 16.3%. Additionally, all contact pitchers are getting a bit of a boost from the league wide decline in power hitting, which may or may not continue into 2011. It's largely a question of whether Arroyo can decrease his contact rate or, failing that, continue to effectively manage the type of contact that he gives up.

Overall, Arroyo is a high contact pitcher facing a stacked lineup that is lefthand heavy. Add in the bandbox that is Citizens Bank and it's a tall order for Arroyo. However, if Arroyo can't get the job done, then I'm not entirely sure we can justify paying him $11M in 2011. Granted, his 200 plus innings every year are nice, but this is a team that needs to continue improving. Given it's current position on the organizational win cycle, that may well mean building a team that is structured to succeed in the playoffs. If Arroyo can't succeed in the big games against the elite lineups, then maybe it's time to turn the rotation over to the young guys and use the salary savings to acquire some high leverage relievers or a better option in leftfield. Branch Rickey once said "Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late." Arroyo will be 34 in 2011, so the Reds will have to factor that in when they determine Arroyo's fate with the organization.

The Reds need a win tonight and they are turning to Arroyo to get it. To be honest, I fully expect the Reds to bring Bronson back in 2011, but if he gets lit up tonight then I'm not so sure he deserves it. Still, I'm hoping he goes big tonight against the Phils and earns his next contract with the Reds.

GO REDS GO!!!!!!!!


  1. how embarrassing.... that was some horrible baseball. they better get there heads in the game and not let there emotions get to them next game.

  2. hey lark ive been hearing some interesting names possibly being available, kemp and greinke jump to the top of my list.

    werth and dunn would be huge improvements in left but i dont see it happening

    I see kemp bouncing back huge, especially in gabp and defensively in left. i would take him in heartbeat

    greinke would solidify our already impressive rotation, but lets face it we need an ace. 5 number 2's is a nice rotation but only for the reg season. it hurts in the playoffs.

    i dont know who would be available at ss but i wouldnt mind janish/cozart holding it down if we picked up kemp and greinke.

    who would you go after lark? you might have some better ideas and i would love to hear your thoughts

  3. hey lark, i like to play GM sometimes and this is what my offseason gameplan would be.

    This is what i would do.

    First i would re-sign:

    Nix, Hernandez, Rhodes, Arroyo

    I would let these guys go:

    Cairo, cabrera, Harang, gomes

    Bailey, END, Alonso, Sappelt, Heisey, Bray, Maloney i would try to package for Kemp/Upton

    Above guys plus one of wood/cueto I would try to get greinke or someone of his caliber

    The leftover guys I would try to find a decent young SS that can play defense well enough to be an upgrade over janish, If i cant find one i use janish/cozart till all-star break and if they arnt performing i use Hernandez and some prospects for one. I also would try to hang on to Heisey if i could pull off those trades without using him to back up stubbs

    Valaika/Frazier would takeover Cairos job. Wlad would take over Gomes Job

    My team would look something like this

    Rf- Bruce


    4th/5th outfielders

    Cueto(unless traded)
    Chapman/leake/wood(unless traded)

    Bull pen:

    Yes we would be trading alot of our prospects away, but realistically none of them are going to hurt the future of this team. We have some absolute studs in the lower minors coming up along with frazier mes in the upper

    Well what do you guys think? im definitely open to criticism

  4. jeez just looking at that makes me smile

    Could you ever see us losing with this lineup?

    1. Stubbs cf
    2. Phillips 2b
    3. Votto 1B
    4. Kemp lf
    5. Bruce rf
    6. Rolen 3b
    7. Hernandez/Hanigan
    8. Janish/cozart
    9. Greinke

    That really excites me :)

  5. Smitty,

    First thoughts, I think Dunn and Werth are nonstarters. I love Werth, but he's with Scott Boras and looking to cash in. He'd be the perfect fit and I've been a big fan since his Dodger days, but I think we waited too long to realistically obtain his services.

    As for Dunn, no way we bring him back. Even if it made sense, Dunn is too controversial with the fan base.

    Greinke is one of my very favorite pitchers. I wasn't surprised that he broke out last year. He's got great stuff, great command, and a massive pitching IQ. That said, it's unlikely we pay what it costs to get him.

    As for Kemp, I heard that one, too. And, I think that one makes a lot of sense. I think we, as an organization, are in a position to make an acquisition just like Kemp. We have a lot of prospects withering on the vine. Guys like Juan Francisco and Todd Frazier who we may have held on to for one year too many.

    Personally, I think we bundle up a nice package of prospects and make a move for a player like Kemp. To be honest, I have concerns about his attitude, but he'd be worth the risk and a real nice fit for the Reds current lineup.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment.


  6. Smitty,

    I'm not sure just yet who I would go after. The key to the offseason will be deciding what to do with our starting pitching, namely Bronson Arroyo. Do we bring him back? If so, who gets dealt? If not, for whom do we deal him?

    Potential holes to fill:

    1. Leadoff hitter
    2. Righthanded cleanup hitter
    3. Leftfielder
    4. Shortstop

    Other areas of interest:

    1. A legitimate ace
    2. A high leverage reliever

    The guys I want are probably familiar names, because I like the players I like. For shortstop, I still like Jed Lowrie. If we can't acquire him (and after his stellar return in 2010 the price would be prohibitive), then I'd probably just roll out Paul Janish out there. I've always viewed Janish as a sneaky good value and he had a nice season in 2010, but he has some odd splits that may indicate regression in 2011. Still, I think he'd provide enough offense to enable his glove to drive his value.

    One idea rolling around in my head is whether we should break traditional baseball thinking and run a catching tandem out as our leadoff hitters. Hanigan had a .405 OBP, so he certainly has the skills. Additionally, John Jaso of the Rays, who hits lefty, posted a .372 OBP. A lefty/righty platoon of Hanigan and Jaso might make a mighty fine leadoff tandem. Of course, Dusty would never go for it, but that might finally solve our rotating door of low-obp leadoff hitters.

    As for leftfield, there just aren't a lot of great options. Jayson Werth and Matt Kemp would be the best options, but the cost is heavy. Nick Swisher would have been a real nice addition in left, especially as a switch-hitter with solid defensive skills. But, the window has probably slammed shut.

    Shin-Soo Choo would be a great addition, as would Brett Gardner. Gardner sees a massive amount of pitches and would be a great table-setter.

    But, again, I think it comes back to what we do with our surplus starting pitching. Lots of tough choices, but those are my brainstorming thoughts.

    I'm sure I'll have some more refined thoughts as the offseason wears on.


  7. As for your lineup, that's unquestionably a formidable team. I don't quite buy Stubbs as a leadoff hitter. I like that the lineup bumps Rolen down to the 6th slot, which is a where a solid complimentary player should be.

    There is a lot of good L/R balance and the 3/4/5 of Votto/Kemp/Bruce is truly formidable.

    We have a lot of nice pieces to move around the board, it's just a matter of figuring out the best way to manage them. Personally, I'd be very hesitant to trade Travis Wood. Having two pitchers like Wood and Leake with such a great feel for pitching is very intriguing.

    Anyway, thanks for the thoughts!


  8. Ah, forgot one other name that intrigues me: Alex Gordon. If the price is right, I'd love to see what he could do with a fresh start. I just fail to understand how such a highly drafted, polished collegiate talent could have so much difficulty at the MLB level. A move to a hitter's ballpark and a set of new coaches in his ear might be the best thing for him. I'd definitely kick the tires.

  9. Lark11,

    I really like Alex Gordon but I'm more impressed by Stephen Drew.

  10. Hey RedsRule,

    Yeah, I've heard Drew's name tossed around and I suppose it wouldn't be a bad choice. I've never been a big fan of the Drew boys, so I'd probably rather go in a different direction. I'm more of a Jed Lowrie guy.

    I have questions about both Drew's offense and defense. Prior to last year, when he had a WAR of 5.1, Drew was only ~2 Wins Above Replacement in 2008 and 2009. In his first full season in 2007, he had a WAR of -0.4. So, maybe he's trending upwards in the 27-32 age range.

    He'd be an upgrade offensively and might be worth it. At the very least, he's a more realistic option than Justin Upton. Upton is one of the most valuable players in all of baseball, so any idea of acquiring his services is probably over before it begins. Drew is more realistic, but I wonder about his defense and his true level of performance.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!


  11. i dont think it would cost TOO much to get greinke. they r looking to trade him i hear

  12. Smitty,

    Greinke won the Cy Young last year. He'll cost a ton and justifiably so. I love Greinke, so I'd pay what it took to get him, but it would not be cheap.

    He would take a hit leaving Kauffman for GABP, but he'd get a boost by leaving the DH behind. I'd love to see what he could do with a plus defense behind him and a bit more run support. Additionally, there's no guarantee that he'll bounce back to Cy Young performance levels. Still, I'd wager that he'd be a stud in GABP.

    I wonder if they'd have interest in Arroyo. Would Arroyo plus a top notch prospect be good enough? Plus two prospects?

    Not saying I wouldn't be interested at the right price, but starting pitching isn't an area of need right now.

    Still, Greinke in Cincy would be great.


  13. i agree, i think left field should be our number 1 goal. ive thought this for a few years now. wouldnt it be nive to have hamilton right now

  14. Smitty,

    As of now, I'd have no problem backing up the truck and paying what it takes to land Jayson Werth. He's got great tools, great skills, and a very high baseball IQ. I just love watching him play and think his impact on the game is understated. Watching him in the postseason is fun, as he does more than just hit to help the team win. He cuts balls off in the gap to save runs and is very good on the bases.

    Sign Werth to a 4 year deal worth $60M. Would $15M per season get it done?

    A middle of the order of:

    3) Joey Votto 1b l
    4) Jayson Werth lf r
    5) Jay Bruce rf l
    6) Scott Rolen 3b r

    ...would be very formidable. Not to mention, it would drop Rolen down to a more complimentary offensive position, which is where he belongs at this point.

    That one simply move would improve our team by 4-5 wins.

    Thanks for the comment!


  15. it would be nice for sure