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AAAA Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds

Updated: 2017-10-17T17:01:41-04:00


Championship Series Open Thread



Game 4 in New York, Game 3 in Chicago

Houston Astros @ New York Yankees

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

5:00 PM EDT

Lance McCullers vs. Sonny Gray

This should be a good one, though both pitchers have been erratic thus far in the postseason. McCullers came in in relief during the Astros series with Boston, giving up two runs in three innings pitched. McCullers made his first All Star appearance this season, but dealt with several nagging injuries that limited his effectiveness as the season wound down.

Gray was also bad in his divisional round matchup with Cleveland, putting up an 8.10 ERA in 3.2 IP. Gray, acquired in a midseason trade with the Althetics, otherwise pitched solidly this season after returning from injury in May.

Through the first two games in Houston, the Astros were able to quiet the potent Yankees lineup, but the Yankees broke out in a big way last night. They’ll look to keep mashing tonight as they try and even the series up.


Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

9:00 PM EDT

Yu Darvish vs. Kyle Hendricks

Yu Darvish was good in his only postseason appearance, which was the deciding game three in Arizona. He only went five innings in the clincher, but he struck out seven and and allowed only two hits and one run. The Cubs bats have struggled thus far in the Championship Series, and figuring out Darvish will be no easy task.

Hendricks got quite a bit of work in the Divisional series versus Washington, pitching 11 innings of 3.27 ERA ball, striking out 13. Hendricks what as dominant as he was in his 2.13 ERA season ago, but he was still pretty great despite missing mainly all of June and July with injury.

Obviously, a Dodger win tonight would be the figurative foot on the neck of the Cubs. It also could very well not end until we’ve all gone to bed, anyway...

Cincinnati Reds links - Trading Billy Hamilton


Monday links! There is hardly anything in common between how Billy Hamilton plays the game of baseball and how Jesse Winker does. Elite speed, elite defense, a throwing arm from the OF that’s gaining a reputation, and the occasional slap hit define how Billy’s carved out his career, while Winker burst into the Cincinnati Reds’ lineup with hitting, hitting, and pretty much just that - hitting. So, it admittedly sounds a bit weird to suggest that Winker’s emergence might have Hamilton’s playing days in Cincinnati numbered, since one is not the other’s direct replacement. However, the moving parts the Reds have in their OF at the moment paired with Hamilton’s dwindling team control have folks wondering if the Reds would consider trading their stalwart CF - especially given his increasing salary. MLB Trade Rumors dug into the idea over the weekend, speculating that his underwhelming 2017 season, escalating arbitration salary, and just two years remaining of team control might lead the Reds to shop him this coming winter. MLBTR lands on the San Francisco Giants as a possible trade partner, and does so based on solid logic. The fact is, finding a home ballpark with a centerfield big enough to let Hamilton’s greatest skill - his defense - shine makes all the sense in the world; beyond that home park, however, must come a team that’s intent on contending during the two years Billy’s still under team control, and that team must have poor enough existing CF defense that adding Billy represents a significant improvment. On paper, San Francisco fits that description, with the likes of Hunter Pence, Denard Span, and Brandon Belt not known for their defense at this point and the Giants looking to bounce back from a dismal 2017 season. The reality is, though, that Billy probably doesn’t have nearly as much trade value at the moment as the Reds would wish. His second year of arbitration eligibility has him estimated to earn around $5 million in 2017, and that will rise to some $7-8 million for the 2018 season. In other words, he’ll come with what amounts to $12-13 million in estimated salary for his two years combined. That would’ve looked like a relative bargain off a 3.1 fWAR/2.8 bWAR season like he posted in 2016, but instead will come on the heels of the 1.2 fWAR/1.0 bWAR production from 2017. That salary for that latter production isn’t outlandish by any means - and the 2016 season he posted certainly shows there could be ample upside there - but if the 2017 season is the one used as leverage by the acquiring team, his future salary obligations and current level of production seem at roughly a break-even point. That’s fine if he were to be simply signed as a free agent, but expecting a team to take on that obligation and trade something of value to acquire it is a bit harder to fathom. In other words, a team like the Giants might welcome paying Billy $12-13 million over two years, but they’re not going to surrender Tyler Beede (or his ilk) for that opportunity. Couple that with the already shallow pool of teams that might have interest in Billy and it might behoove the Reds to hold onto him to begin the 2018 season to see if he can increase his value even if trading him is ultimately what they’d like to do. In other news, The Enquirer beats spoke at length with GM Dick Williams about the 2017 season, the state of the rebuild, Hamilton himself, top prospect Nick Senzel, and much more over the weekend, and the transcript of the conversation is well worth reading through. If there’s one theme that seems to pervade the GM’s comments, it’s that rebuilds usually aren’t linear - this one included. That was echoed by Williams to both C. Trent and Zach on Friday, too, when Williams indicated pretty clearly that he doesn’t think the Reds have reached the point where making a big move in the acquisition market will be the difference in getting back into contention, yet. Blowing past their international spending limits a year ago to sign Alfredo Rodriguez and [...]

Cincinnati Reds trade values, ranked


Which players in the system would bring the greatest return if moved? The Cincinnati Reds just wrapped their third consecutive 90+ loss season, one that once again did so while also falling in-line with expectations. No, the 2017 Reds weren’t really a disappointment in the standings, really, since by all accounts this Year 3 of The Rebuild was supposed to look rough around the edges, albeit with young, promising talent now doing the losing instead of aging veterans waiting to be traded. Fortunately, much of the latter half of that scenario played out true to form, with many young, controllable players breaking out in ways that should give the Reds plenty of pieces to work with this winter on the trade market. With the 2018 season long pointed-to by the front office as the year when the rebuild stops and the push to be competitive begins again, it’s worth looking closer at which pieces in Cincinnati’s system carry the most individual trade value as the Hot Stove season inches ever closer. It’s a highly subjective process, so it’s a highly subjective list - one in which you could rightly make a case for changing in several ways. Age, team control, health, and guaranteed money on existing contracts matter as much as talent in assesing trade value, for instance, which is why 34 year old Joey Votto and the $157 million (at least) left on his deal didn’t make the cut despite him currently still an incredible offensive machine. That said, here’s my list of the Top 10 players in the Cincinnati system as ranked by how much they could bring back in return if traded... 10) Taylor Trammell, OF - .281/.368/.450, 13 HR, 77 RBI in 570 PA at Class A Dayton While that stat line is impressive, I’m not sure it actually includes any of the three categories in which he stood out the most. Trammell, who just turned 20 in September, bonked 10 triples, swiped 41 bases, and walked an impressive 71 times in 129 games played, showing an elite combination of power, speed, and patience that pairs phenomenally well with his ability to be a plus defender in the OF. He jumped into many mid-season Top 100 prospect lists, and looks like a steal as the #35 overall draftee from 2016. A replication of his A-ball line as he progresses higher in the minors will coincide directly with a rocket up the prospect rankings, too. 9) Scooter Gennett, 2B/OF - .295/.342/.531, 27 HR, 97 RBI in 497 PA with the Reds If Scooter, 27, was a lock to perform every year the way in which he performed in 2017, he’d rank much higher on this list. Frankly, if that was such an expected lock, the Reds wouldn’t have been able to pluck him off waivers from the Brewers at the end of Spring in the first place. The breakout year elevates his trade value, to be sure, but even that ‘breakout’ produced just a 2.4 bWAR, 2.4 fWAR season; with just 2 years of team control remaining (at an estimated $14-15 million total), any likely regression puts him into ‘kinda pricey fringe-regular’ status, especially for teams on a tight budget. Certainly at peak value now, though. 8) Tyler Mahle, RHP - 2.70 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.50 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 5.0 BB/9 in 20.0 IP with the Reds Mahle’s age-22 season saw him rip through AA (1.59 ERA in 85.0 IP) and AAA (2.73 ERA in 59.1 IP) to make his big league debut, including a freakin’ perfect game thrown while in Pensacola. He’s known for his strike-throwing and polish despite the ugly BB numbers in his early MLB work, his results continuing to impress despite an average fastball velocity (92.9 mph in the bigs) that won’t necessarily blow anyone away. He, too, cracked many Top 100 prospect lists in 2017, and his smooth delivery and full 6 years of big league control help market him as a significant asset in the system. 7) Billy Hamilton, CF - .247/.299/.335, 4 HR, 38 RBI, 59 SB in 633 PA with the Reds Billy played in the second most games of any season of his career (139) and set a new career high for single-season PAs, to boot (633). Staying on the field had been [...]

Nationals at Cubs, Yankees at Cleveland NLDS/ALDS open thread



Let’s do some baseball.

Two games highlight this Wednesday of baseball, with three former Cy Young Award winners getting starts (and the other, Stephen Strasburg, taking the mound under mysteriously odd circumstances). That’ll do.

Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs will host Stras and the Washington Nationals at 4 PM ET, while Corey Kluber and Cleveland will welcome CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees at around 8 PM ET. For the Nats, it’s a do or die Game 4 to extend the series, while Cleveland and New York will do battle in a win-or-go-home Game 5.

Grab a chair and some popcorn. Let’s do some baseball.

Five Reds set for hefty raises through arbitration process


At least five, that is. Scooter Gennett, Billy Hamilton, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, and Eugenio Suarez combined to make roughly $6.875 million combined in salary during the 2017 season. Barring trades (and assuming DeSclafani is finally healthy), all five figure to play significant roles again for the Cincinnati Reds in 2018, too - though this time, they’ll cost the club quite a bit more. MLB Trade Rumors released their estimates for all arbitration eligible players yesterday, and their rather exacting model has those five combining to earn $18 million combined in 2018. Gennett and Hamilton, both in their second years of arbitration eligibility, project to be the largest earners of the group at salaries of $6.1 and $5.0 million, respectively. Suarez, arb-eligible for the first time off a stellar 2017 season, checks in at $4.4 million. Lorenzen ($1.4 million) and DeSclafani ($1.1 million), both also eligible for the first time, round out the bunch. All told, that’s a fairly predictable total, and fits in-line with the estimates we made back in late August during our look at the team’s overall payroll obligations heading into the 2018 season. Back then, our total estimate for those five came to $17.8 million, part of an overall $21.4 million estimate for all the arbitration-eligible players who were on the roster at that time. Of course, there’s a little bit of variance on the individual salaries, as there likely will be between the Reds’ initial offers and what the players themselves first ask. (Since that was published, Tucker Barnhart agreed to a 4-year contract extension to get lopped off the list, and Blake Wood was DFA’d and picked up by Los Angeles Angels.) The one unknown in this scenario is Raisel Iglesias, however, as he’s currently on a contract that will guarantee him a $4.5 million salary for 2018. That contract, though, includes the ability for him to forfeit that amount and opt into the arbitration process should he so prefer, a decision that The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan looked at in detail just two weeks ago. As Buchanan noted at the time, it’s unlikely that Iglesias will opt-out of his guaranteed contract since the arbitration projections over the same time span don’t look to be much different than his current deal, and would also come without a multi-year guarantee. With those arbitration estimates in-line with the ones we settled on previously (and Barnhart’s guaranteed $4 million salary for next year), that will leave the Reds with an estimated payroll of just over $93 million for 2018, albeit with the obvious caveat that there will be plenty of moving and shaking on the roster between now and when the 2018 season begins. Considering the franchise ran payrolls in the $115 million range as recently as 2013 and 2014, that would suggest that there’s some wiggle room to make some significant additions as the club begins to evolve from the years-long rebuild into a legitimate division contender once more. [...]

On trusting Brandon Finnegan and Anthony DeSclafani


Can the Reds do just that? Devin Mesoraco will make over $13 million bucks during the 2018 season while also likely sitting on the bench for the majority of games. Adam Duvall, Jesse Winker, and Scott Schebler are three human beings who play corner outfield positions, of which there are only two in everyday lineups. Zack Cozart had a monster 5 WAR season, but is going to cost a pretty penny to keep around thanks to free agency. Oh, and mashing superprospect Nick Senzel is on the cusp of the big leagues with 2017 breakout performers Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett now blocking him at his most familiar defensive positions. The Cincinnati Reds have endless questions to address this winter, obviously. Despite all those already listed, however, it’s how they assemble their pitching staff that has me scratching my head. It has my utmost attention because it’s the question they face that has the highest percentage of who the hell knows moving parts. Quick exercise, here. Before you dive into Baseball Reference to chum up the answers, ask yourself which pitchers currently on the Reds’ 40-man roster have pitched the most career innings? You’ll get Homer Bailey, without having to stress your brain too hard on a Monday morning. After that, though, you’ll probably start to dissect my question a bit. Are guys on the 60-day DL right now actually on the 40-man roster? Wait, aren’t like half the pitchers I’m familiar with on the 60-day DL right now? If they don’t count (since they aren’t added back or released until after the World Series), who the heck does that leave? Raisel Iglesias. Next on the list is Raisel Iglesias, the team’s closer, with 249.2 career IP. It’s not Tim Adleman, who led the club in IP and Ks and will turn 30 years old in a month. Behind Iglesias? Michael Lorenzen, also now a multi-year bullpen arm, with 246.1 career IP. Yes, the Cincinnati staff threw 1430 innings on the dot in 2017, and at this juncture their three most proven staff arms consist of a guy who missed the bulk of three straight years with three major arm surgeries and the back of the team’s bullpen. That 60-day DL list is worth exploring, of course, and that’s where we’ll head next. There’s no secret Madison Bumgarner or Chris Archer there, either - no controllable workhorse with multiple 200 inning seasons logged who makes the murky situation much clearer. There are Bronson Arroyo and Scott Feldman and Drew Storen with thousands of innings to their credit, yet one has already retired and the other two are free agents. Then, though, you stumble into Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan, the giant who the hell knows portion of the potential roster that got us this far into this post in the first place. 450 words into a post about trusting Finnegan and DeSclafani as parts of the team’s pitching staff and I’ve barely even mentioned them, let alone attempted to define them. That’s completely on purpose, though, given how hard it is to know what to expect from them at this point. How do we go about defining them within the current framework of the Cincinnati staff? Let’s take Finnegan, first, since he actually took the mound 4 times to throw 13 innings in 2017. He’s a former 1st round pick, former Top 100 prospect, once a future ace in the eyes of FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris, and a guy who once threw in the College World Series and big boy World Series in the very same year. Also, he’s been on the Reds in each of 2015, 2016, and 2017, which makes him seem like an ancient piece of the roster given how much turnover its seen in that time. With that much of a resume in place, it sure seems like he’d have more career innings pitched at the big league level than, say, Iglesias and Lorenzen. He doesn’t, though. With just 240 IP to his credit, he’s thrown less than both those two, and he’s currently recovering from a muscle tear in his left (throwing) shoulder AND[...]

One of the best baseball days of the year



Open thread

We get a postseason baseball QUADRUPLE-HEADER today! The Astros and Red Sox start it up at 2pm, the Yankees and Indians at 5pm, Cubs-Nats at 7:30pm, and Diamondbacks-Dodgers at 10:30 pm. Lawsy mawsin’, that’s alotta baseball!

For whom to root - American League Edition


Let’s look at the American League, the dumb league Yesterday, I ran you through the National League competitors in this year’s edition of baseball’s postseason. Today, we can took a look at the Junior Circuit. Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros Game 1 today at 4pm EDT Do you remember when the Red Sox were the lovable losers, the Daffy Duck to the Yankees’ Bugs Bunny, the Paraguay to the Yankees’ Argentina? Yeah, me neither. This franchise has won three Worlds Series in the last 13 years. Also, the Patriots have won 14 Super Bowls in that time, the Celtics won a championship, and the Bruins did, too. Boston sports fans are now not just insufferably annoying, but they get all the winning, too. That whole city can slide into the sea for all I care. But dammit, this 2017 Red Sox team is likable. Mookie Betts, the MVP runner-up last season, remains one of the best players in the league. He is also an inner-circle Hall-of-Famer for awesome baseball names. They added Chris Sale last winter, who remains one of the most entertaining and devastating pitchers in the league. I wanted to make a joke here exaggerating his size, because he is tall and skinny. I was gonna say something like “the dude looks like a stiff breeze would blow him over, because he is like 6’6” and weighs like 180 lbs.” But that’s his actual size. That isn’t an exaggeration. So that joke kinda blew up on me, I guess. Anyway, generations from now when our modern society is just ashes in the dustbin of history, roving bands of hunter-gatherers will circle around campfires and share oral mythologies as bedtime stories. They will murmur breathless entreaties to their pagan gods in desperate attempt to keep Chris Sale’s slider from stealing away their children in the darkness of night. But aside from that, this is a pretty pedestrian team. There were some who predicted their lineup could score 1000 runs this year. They didn’t do that. Their best hitter by OPS this year is Eduardo Nunez, who hit .892 after coming over from the Giants in July. They have a lot of really good players who had down years. But they won the division, so go figure. The Houston Astros remain one of the most entertaining teams in baseball. Jose Altuve is the odds-on favorite to win the MVP. He hit .346/.410/.547 and is one of the best keystone doggies in the league. But I’m skirting the obvious here: he is so little he is still legally required in 12 states to use a booster seat in the car. He crushes the ball, he never misses, he runs incredibly well, and he gets to everything in the field. He is the epitome of the complete five-tool player, and he does it all standing on his tippy-toes so he can see over the mound. If having the best player in the American League this year doesn’t do it for you, they have a lineup that rivals the fabled Yankees’ Murders Row of 1927. After Altuve, they had five other hitters post better than 4 bWAR. Jimminy Gumboes! Marwin Gonzalez is probably my new favorite player in baseball. He played 136 or more innings at 2B, 3B, LF, 1B, and SS. He also OPS’d .907. And he’s a switch-hitter, so he’s basically the coolest. For all their ball-lasering at the plate, they have more than a few good pitchers, too. Former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander came over from the Tigers at the end of August. He’ll start Game 1. Former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel will mount the bump for Game 2. Ken Giles and Chris “wrong spelling dummy” Devenski will shut it down at the end of games. So all in all, I’m for the Astros here. There is way too much fun going on in Houston to deny the world of that. New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians Game 1 today at 7:30 pm EDT This is pretty easy, but I’mma lay it out for you anyway. We are pretty far removed from the Evil Empire days, but there is still plenty to dislike about the Yank[...]