Archive for January, 2007

Top Ten Reds Prospects

Baseball America recently unveiled their list of the top 10 Reds Prospects. No surprise as Homer Bailey tops the list. I talked about Homer Bailey already so I’ll spare you a repeat. BA concludes that he’ll start the season in Triple A then get called up midseason for some much needed help on the big league club.

Coming in at number two is 2005 first round draft pick Jay Bruce. He had a nice season at Low A where he clubbed 16 homeruns and stole 19 bases. His bat speed is a plus but he needs to work on plate discipline. Oh yeah, he’s a lefty bat too and while it’s expected that he’ll start the season at High A, he probably won’t stay there for very long.

Slugger Joey Votto comes in at number three. He’d probably be in line for the starting first base job had it not been for the team’s committment to Scott Hatteberg. This guy is a potential stud and he could make for sweet slugging duo with Adam Dunn here in a couple of years. Like Bailey, he’ll start at Louisville but we’ll probably be seeing him sooner rather then later.

Rounding out the top five is right handed starter Johnny Cuerto (still at least one year away) and outfielder Drew Stubbs (2006 first round draft pick, should play Low A ball). And another interesing prospect is righty Sean Watson, who could be the team’s closer in the future although he’s at least two years away.

Good stuff here and if you’re a subscriber, you can get the scouting reports. There’s a chat at 3 pm which I might be around to listen to and if I do, I’ll fill you in afterwards.

And if you wanted more on back of the rotation starter Kirk Saarloos, here’s a great column on both his past and what we should expect.

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HD Television – Which Sports Benefit the Most?

By Thaq Diesel

One year ago I bought a new Sony Wega HD television, using the Super Bowl as the impetus for finally getting away from analog signals.  After a year’s worth of sporting events in my living room, I still say to my wife, “See? You can see the holes in their jerseys!  Look at how you can see the reflection off their helmets?  See that woman in the third row?  It’s like you’re really there!”  Her reply, “YES, I KNOW!  FOR THE HUNDREDTH TIME!”  The sports that benefit the most from the HD format thus far, based on 1 year’s sampling:
College / NBA Basketball – My bias against the NBA (thug city, individual play) isn’t helping, but I still don’t enjoy HD NBA basketball that much.  It doesn’t hold my interest.  HD college ball is pretty engrossing though.  I don’t notice much difference to the overall experience. 

ML Baseball – It’s better, but it doesn’t add much to the experience.  You can see more of the field in a given camera angle, but otherwise it looks much the same overall.  The slo-mo replays on FOX are probably the best HD baseball has to offer so far – checking out each blade of grass on a slow grounder bare-handed by the shortstop is pretty neat.  There is room to grow here and I expect the concept to get better with more years of experience under their belt.  What really killed my HD baseball fun though was seeing the Albert Pujols cold sore in vivid HD during the late innings in the World Series.  It was pretty disturbing.

Soccer – World Cup in HD – simply awesome.  Well except when the USA is sucking the gas pipe.

Olympics – Winter Olympics in particular.  You feel like you’re on the mountain only without freezing your balls off. 

Football – NFL in HD is about as good as it gets.  It’s like taking your favorite food, doubling the portion and adding an extra flavor you love to it.  CBS really needs to get its act together and broadcast all its regional games in HD next year.  I hated when my Bengals were shown with the smaller, boxed-in view. 

Hockey – This isn’t to say that, despite how much I love it, hockey is a better product than the NFL or that I enjoy hockey ore; they’re not even close.  BUT, hockey on television is light years ahead of where it was in the analog days.  You can see more than a third of the ice at one time.  You can actually see the ice skate cuts left in the ice.  The puck is much easier to follow.  Hockey in HD, above all other sports, is most similar in feel to what it’s like to actually be at a hockey game.  This sport has by far gained the most in watchability since HD broadcasts were introduced.

Homer Bailey Named Best Reds' Farmhand

There’s no doubt that a lot is riding on Homer Bailey’s arm. If he’s the real deal, he’d make a great third (eventually first?) starter behind Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang. He had a great season splitting time between High A and Double A and he struck out nearly three times as many batters as he walked. Oh yeah, and he doesn’t turn 21 until May. This kid is a stud, plain and simple.

Earlier today, Bailey was recongnized for being a stud and was given the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award which means he was the best minor league player in 2006. The good news is, it looks like they won’t rush the kid and they’ll send him down to Triple A. He’ll also get to train with the big boys because he’ll be training with the major league club this spring.

Baseball Prospectus has him with a weighted mean of a 14.5 VORP. The nice number is the 119 strikeouts in 129 they project. Regardless, they have him going through some growning pains if he plays with the big leagues so I like the idea of giving him some more seasoning down in Louisville.

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Reds Acquire Another “Pitcher with Upside” in Trade with Oakland

By Thaq Diesel

Yet another piece of the pitching “war of attrition” was added to the puzzle today as Oakland traded Kirk Saarloos to the Reds today for RH David Shafer, a 24-year old reliever who played in AA-Chattanooga last year (also included was the oft-traded “Player to be named later.”)   Saarloos pitched pretty well in the softball league that is the American, going 7-7 with two saves and a 4.75 ERA.  With the current Cincinnati pitching staff, he may have a shot at contributing; quality pitching is needed in both the bullpen and in the starting rotation so the Reds will takes what they gets from Saarloos come Spring Training.  If it doesn’t pan out, it was worth the risk (Saarloos settled arbitration for $1.2 million, so he’s a bargain and definitely more upside than risk).  Hopefully a few of these journeyman pitchers will make the leap and pitch great for the Reds next year.  Krivsky’s trying the “throw a lot on the wall and see what sticks” strategy.  It may make more sense than the strategy many other teams try (aka the Texas Rangers) – the  strategy of dumping buckets of money out the window on high-priced underperforming free agents.

Because we’re dealing with Billy Beane here, I’m asking myself a) what did he see in David Shafer that the Reds were missing and b) what didn’t he like about Saarloos?  It’s like dealing with the Libyans in “Back to the Future,” in that you never know when he’s going to backstab you.  Run for it Marty!

Running In Place

By Thaq Diesel

I feel like a broken record, but I feel like this team is still stuck in the rut of “maintaining” while other teams are adding depth to their rosters (albeit at what feels like a mega-premium).  Perhaps Krivsky is remaking this team in the mold of Oakland and Minnesota where you get production out of players that people don’t necessarily value (and then lose in the first round of the playoffs).  We’ll see.  It doesn’t feel like the Reds are going to be competitive this year.  That’s exactly how it felt last year too.  Maybe they’re World Series contenders and I don’t see it.  Perhaps the farm system has something brewing.  Ugh – I’m really starting to dread this season.  I need a deal, Wayne!  Anything – perhaps a utility infielder?  Haven’t seen that in about 12 days. 

Joey Votto – Best of the Rookie Firstbasemen?

Baseball Prospectus recently unveiled their list of players who have no major league experience, yet lead at their respective positions in projected VORP. Coming in at first base is Reds’ prospect Joey Votto with a 31 VORP. Odds are Votto will see limited time at first base because of the team’s committment to Scott Hatteberg, but it’s nice having a guy like Votto in your back pocket.

Maybe we can trade him for, gulp, a pitcher or something. He had a good season at Double A last year though. .319/.408/.547 is nothing to scoff at although his most comparable player is Carlos Pena, which kind of sends a shiver up your spine.

Edwin Encarnacion Crystal Ball

Minor league baseball guru John Sickels recently published his projections for Edwin Encarnacion. I could live with this although half of his really good years are with a team other the Reds. We only have to wait until 2008 for a 30 homerun season though, and I can live with that.

Harang Arbitration Still not Settled

By Thaq Diesel

Aaron Harang has asked for $5.5 million and been offered $4.25 million by the Reds.  Harang is the lone arbitration case to be settled for Cincinnati. 

On a side note, what does a career record of 54-62 with a 4.86 ERA in 184 games warrant in today’s MLB pitching market?  If you’re Kyle Loshe, it’s a one year deal worth 4.2 million dollars.  Has the world gone bonkers or did the economics of baseball shift drastically ahead a few million bucks in the last few months?  Harang looks like an absolute bargain at his arbitration asking price of $5.5 mil.  I’ve got to think he going to get that much money at arbitration.

Reds Sign David Ross to Two Year Deal

The Reds locked up catcher David Ross for two more years. They’ll be paying him $4.5 million and there’s a team option for 2009 that would make it a three year, $8 million deal.

I like Ross, and there’s no doubt he had a good year in 2006 but it was his first good year after bouncing around the National League. On the other hand, maybe he just needed some consistent playing time to find his stroke. Some guys aren’t suited to the part time thing. I guess we’ll see because Ross will be the main guy in 2007.

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Griffey Should be Ready for Spring Training

We got some good news on Ken Griffey, Jr. yesterday. His agent said he should be ready to go and while the deadline to be ready for the start of spring training is Feb. 21st, the agent said things were progressing nicely and that the injury shouldn’t linger at all.

Then again, this is Griffey, so who knows. There’s still no word on how he got injured to begin with although I guess the guy has his right to his privacy. It’s just weird though.

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