ESPN’s Neyer on the Reds chances to compete

ESPN’s Rob Neyer is a pretty respected writer in our opinion. He’s also the lone, true baseball blog that exists on that site. All the other ‘blogs’ on ESPN’s MLB site are imposters.

On Neyers blog SweetSpot; he had this to say about the Reds chances of competing in 2010:
Cardinals – 92
Reds – 85
Cubs – 84
Brewers – 81
Pirates – 70
Astros – 69

Really, just one noteworthy item here, as the Reds look like serious Wild Card contenders.

How? Well, they did win 78 games last year, so it’s not like they’ve got terribly far to go. Joey Votto is fast becoming a superstar, and young Jay Bruce still figures to someday get on base more than 30 percent of the time. But other than Bruce in right, what will the outfield look like? Will Willy Taveras be allowed to throw away hundreds of plate appearances? How will Dusty Baker divvy up the time for speedster Drew Stubbs, Triple-A slugger Wladimir Balentien, on-base machine Chris Dickerson, and Double-A star Chris Heisey?

There’s plenty of talent there for a reasonably productive outfield, but it’s impossible to know if Baker’s smart enough to put the puzzle together early enough to make a difference.

Anyone trying to construct projected standings has to wrestle with issues like this for every team. It’s relatively easy to come up with a reasonably effective method to project the performance of individual players, because a player’s past performance leaves big footprints in the sand. But even atop the inherent random variation, there are the generally unpredictable (and often unreported) physical injuries plus the vagaries of management and changing conditions as the season goes along.

These projections are just snapshots, based on solid statistical assumptions and questionable assumptions about personnel decisions. I do believe that the Reds have the talent on their roster for a solid season. Whether the luck and the management line up behind the talent … well, that’s your proverbial “known unknown.”

He brings up a couple of really good points.

1) The outfield is a cluttered mess at this point, and they needto decide who is going to be playing as the every day guys in left field and center and not waver on it should those guys that win the job out of Spring Training falter the first few weeks of the season. We also concur that giving Wily Taveras at-bats is a waste of time and the more he climbs in the box this year the more our chances of winning ballgames goes down statistically.

2) It’s going to come down to luck (staying healthy and a few bounces of the ball the right way) and management. The talent is there for these guys to be darkhorses in the NL.

Believe it! Reach for the silver rings this year Redlegs. For once, surprise us all.

Reds sign Orlando Cabrera to 1-year deal

This guy has been around so long (12-year veteran) that he actually had some of his best years as a Montreal Expo. I guess it’s hard to believe that he’s not a young ballplayer anymore.
The Reds agreed to one year $3 million dollar deal to obtain Cabrera, with a club buyout option for 2011 if he doesn’t hit his weight, which might still be substantially better then Paul Janish.
He hit .284 last season while playing in Oakland and Minneosta. Cabrera was part of a deadline deal that sent him to Minnesota on July 31.
Reds ownership needs a pat on the back. Not only for not signing Johnny Damon (which was also rumored this week) but for going out and making an aggressive run at a nice veteran like this.

As we said on the podcast this past Thursday, if the Reds want to go into this season and be able to say that they’re trying to win; you can’t have Janish as your everyday shortstop. They knew that, so they upgraded the position with as solid of a free agent as there was available. And he’s going to be perfect hitting in the 2-hole.

Watch him end up hitting more in the leadoff spot then anyone all season.

Cincinnati Reds close to signing SS Orlando Cabrera

Doing this post on the fly, but John Fay twittered a little bit ago that Orlando Cabrera told the Denver Post (and why he is talking to the Denver Post we have no idea) that he is close to accepting the Reds offer.

The Reds ownership and front office deserves a huge pat on the back. They’ve done their part.

More reaction coming as this shakes out.

- Posted from my iPhone

Fantasy Owners: Carlos Gonzalez or Jay Bruce in 2010? Both of these guys are young left-handed hitting outfielders that made their break to big leagues about at the same time, so which one is going to be a better grab in fantasy baseball drafts coming up in a few months? A couple of ‘experts’ make their cases heard. [Y! Sports Roto Arcade]

How will your team finish according to the stats?

If you’re someone who likes statistics predicting future results, check out this post over at Revenge of the RLYW. Haven’t made a ton of stops there but it looks to be a hell of a baseball blog.
Couple of things. Jeese are the Yankees head and shoulders above the rest of the AL field or what? They’re 15-20 games better then everyone else save the Red Sox, of which they’re about 10 games better than.
Look at the Seattle Mariners winning the AL West.
As for our rascal Reds, according to Baseball Prospectus (PECOTA) and Revenge of the RLYW (CAIRO): both have them in second behind the Cardinals and winning 82 and 85 games respectively and just a few games out of the wild card. While not getting into the playoffs, this would be an excellent step forward and would get them out of the consecutive losing season funk they are in.
Are we drinking the kool-aid yet? No, we’re not. But it is encouraging to see that once again; statistics favor us not getting railed all year long. We’ve heard it before. One of these years we’re bound to have the numbers hold up.

Tonight's Show Topics

Hey all, it’s Thursday so we’ll be doing our live show again tonight.

On tap for tonight’s air waves:

-We’ll talk about the Top 100 Prospects in MLB, with a focus on the Top 10.
-McGwire vs. Pete Rose–Should they be banned? Should they be in the Hall of Fame. Some of our take is here.
-Orlando Cabrera as a Cincinnati Red? Johnny Damon?
-Why the month of February sucks


If you want to be part of the show, send us some topics you want to hear us talk about at Diamondhoggers_at_gmail_dot_com and we’ll get to it.

Cincinnati Reds Ownership Profile

NAME: Robert Castellini
AGE: 58
WHO HE IS: Majority Owner of the Cincinnati Reds
OUR NICKNAME FOR HIM: Fruit & Veggie Bob
DOES HE LOOK ANGRY AS SHIT IN THAT PICTURE?: Holy fuck, does he ever.
BEST. MOVE. EVER.: Firing Wayne Krivsky
WHY WE WANTED TO CUT HIS BALLS OFF: Letting someone (that little bald-headed fucker Walt Jocketty) talk him out of giving Adam Dunn a long-term contract extension.
FAMOUS QUOTES: “The losing stops NOW!”
“While the run production generated by these two veterans will not be quickly replaced, we chose to endure the short-term ramifications for the sake of building a strong, competitive team for 2009 and many seasons to come.” (on trading Dunn & Griffey) *Note: we weren’t ‘strong’ or ‘competitive’ in 2009 but whatever
WHY HE DESERVES FORGIVENESS: He’s going to be signing Aroldis Chapman’s checks.
FINISHING MOVE: Stinkfacing his wife and disgruntled employees
SCOUTING REPORT: While we’ve been critical of Big Bob in the past on this site as well as others, we think that he really is trying to build a winner in Cincinnati. He was an avid baseball fan for 30 years prior to becoming majority owner of the Reds. You’d think because of this (and we’ve had owners in Cincinnati who weren’t fans–Marge Schott & Carl Lindner) that the product on the field and atmosphere at the ballpark would be as good as it’s been in 20 years in Cincinnati. The bottom line is even with the fan-friendly efforts of Big Bob, the jury is still out.
The signing of Aroldis Chapman and the effort in adding a somewhat strong and credible leader in Walt Jocketty are both moves that Castellini sprung for deeply out of the wallet. This however, is consistent with what he basically promised that he would do.
We’ve been at games and sitting on the first row behind the Reds dugout and saw the entire Castellini clan sitting with the fans and high fiving after a big come back victory. That’s refreshing to see. But the bottom line is that you need an owner who owns to build a true winner.
With so much happening on the field of play and so much uncertainty in performances, health of your athletes, and the consistency of your managerial and front-office decisions; you must be willing to break out the wallet at the right time and win at all costs.
We’d personally have liked to see Bob swing for the fences and go for broke to beef up this team this past offseason. Once again, the splash of signing Aroldis Chapman was absolutely huge but we feel that another key free agent or two would have really sprung this team into serious contenders for the next few years.
Instead, when do you hear people talking about the Reds being ‘on-schedule to compete’? Everyone is saying ‘look out for 2011′. The truth of the matter is, great teams end up competing a year or two or three ahead of schedule most of the time. This is an important year for the Reds and Castellini.
Hopefully if we’re within striking distance come this June or July you see Castellini give the go-ahead to add not one but several key components to this team. And hopefully now you have a better idea of who pays the bills for our favorite franchise.

2010’s Top 100 Prospects in Baseball

This is Neftali Feliz. He throws that gas babe.

Every now and then you meet the baseball fan who seems to get up in arms about prospects around the minor leagues.

If you’re one of those people, the time to get excited is now. Early lists are circulating of the top 100 prospects in all of the game.

Here’s the top 10 prospects in Major League Baseball for 2010:

1. STEPHEN STRASBURG (RHP), NATIONALS
2. MICHAEL STANTON (OF), MARLINS
3. DESMOND JENNINGS (OF), RAYS
4. JASON HEYWARD (OF), BRAVES
5. JESUS MONTERO (C), YANKEES
6. NEFTALI FELIZ (RHP), RANGERS
7. BUSTER POSEY (C), GIANTS
8. BRIAN MATUSZ (LHP), ORIOLES
9. MARTIN PEREZ (LHP), RANGERS
10. JEREMY HELLICKSON (RHP), RAYS

We’ll keep an eye on these guys and what impact they have at the big league level with their respective franchises in 2010. We’ll admit, in the recent years we’ve had an increasing interest in top prospects.

An update on Rocco Baldelli. “Younger players have this mindset that says, ‘If I sit three days and play the fourth day, I have to earn my money,”’ said an AL scout. “The Lenny Harrises of the world can play once every five days and walk twice and say, ‘Hey, that’s what you pay me for.’ As time goes on, I think [Baldelli] will become better equipped mentally to do that.” [ESPN - Jerry Crasnick]

Do not underestimate Big Ern McCracken

Here’s a movie we always felt got a bit too small of credit. It’s highly underrated. Kingpin. The guy who absolutely makes the movie is Bill Murray, otherwise known as Big Ern.

Look at him slide across slowly to momma there in the first few minutes of the clip.

“Tennessee! Ken-tu-cky! Bonavici!”

There is no better bad guy in a movie then Big Ern. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, Big Ern is still there!

Classic scene from a classic movie in our opinion. If you haven’t watched it after all these years, rent it and enjoy the laughs.

If you remember the name Alex Cole, you remember the goggles

When I was a kid growing up, the Cleveland Indians were absolutely horrible. Their leadoff man was a guy by the name of Alex Cole. He was the equivalent of Steve Urkel in cleats.

He actually wasn’t all that hideous in performance (.280 lifetime average), more so just appearance and the fact that he was the leadoff man for the tribe in those awful early 90’s seasons.

He stole 40 bases in a season once, hit 5 career homers (with 4 of them coming in 1994 with the Twins) and played with the likes of Nomar Garciaparra, Jim Thome, Felix Fermin, Wil Cordero, Chuck Knoblauch, and Kirk Gibson.

And then he retired after a 1996 season with the BoSox in which he hit .222, the end.

He was Willie Mays Hayes before Kenny Lofton was Willie Mays Hayes. And don’t tell me you never thought that Mays Hayes in Major League was based on Kenny Lofton, cause he totally was. Or maybe in this case, Alex Cole.