Tag Archives: Reds

A negative view on Chapman

Pessimistic is a good way to describe how I feel about Chapman on the Reds.  Jonathan Mayo came up with an alternative scouting report on Chapman today. Read it here:

Fastball up to 95-100 mph. Slider is very inconsistent, below-average in quality. Changeup is well below-average. Mechanically, he often opens up too quickly with his front leg which, in turn, forces him to get around his slider. He doesn’t always find a consistent slot with his release point — high 3/4 to 3/4 — where he gets pretty good late movement. He doesn’t have a great feel for pitching. He is an above-average athlete with the kind of body you like to see in a pitcher. Future as a reliever seems more likely. Has shown a tendency to sulk and quit when the pressure is on.

I didn’t know about that last line, I hope that’s not true.  I’d hate for him to quit when the potential is there.

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Filed under Hot stove, MLB, prospects

Johnny Bench called

I see a few people are coming to our blog searching for “Archer “Johnny Bench called”” or “what does “Johnny Bench called” mean.”

“Johnny Bench called” was a joke used in the TV show “Archer,” episode 1.2, which premiered last week.

Johnny Bench was a catcher with the Cincinnati Reds, regarded as one of the best in history.  During games, catchers deliver signals to the pitcher by flashing signs with their fingers over their crotch region to hide from the opposing team’s dugout or runners on base.  I hope this answers any questions.

Also, “Archer” is a great show, check it out.  Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

E: Also, someone in the comments section pointed this out, which def. makes the joke better.

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Filed under miscellaneous, MLB history

A little more explanation on Cueto and Bailey and control problems

OK, I realize now I did research on Cueto and Bailey and then didn’t post it, leaving my claim that both were less than average at the major league level dangling.

Let’s start with Cueto.

Cueto has, for the last two years, pitched 350 major league innings and had a below league average 4.81 and 4.41 ERA in those two years–career ERA is 4.61. His ERA+ is 93 and 97 in those years, so it’s not the park’s fault.  His career FIP, which calculates an ERA with non-balls in play (home runs, strike outs and walks), is 4.79, so he’s actually been helped by the defense behind him.  His BABIP has been around .300, well below his minor league norm of .325 and about league-average.  And finally, his left-on-base percentage was above-average at about 73% over those two years.  All of these things, surprisingly, served to help him.  On top of that, his HR/9 rate is 1.26, his ground ball to fly ball ratio is at 0.99 (~40/40) and his line drive rate is at ~19%.  These are very bad things and in a large-sized sample.  And just a little more: he’s pitched 62% strikes and yet 69% of his pitches out of the strike zone are getting hit.  Basically, he’s been not good.

Now this could be the result of a few things,  not just inability to control pitches, but maybe his stuff isn’t as good as it seemed at the scouting level or perhaps he’s just erratic.  But his PitchFX seems to suggest that his pitches are fine and his release point has been stable.  The only real problem seems to be that there’s not much movement on that slider, but he doesn’t throw it that much–plus, it works well with his change up, which he throws at the same speed but with different movement.  And here’s the kicker, I can’t seem to find his day-to-day accuracy chart, but this Fangraphs post was talking about accuracy problems (and maybe that he was pitching injured all year long) and Hey-Zeus, I don’t think it’s that big of a stretch to say he was having accuracy problems all year.  The only thing that can really be deduced, I think, is that because the GB/FB/LD rates were so irregular, his strikes thrown percentage was average and the only major outlier was the O-Zone contact percentage, he’s been having trouble locating the pitches within the strike zone.

As for Bailey, well just take a look at his BB/9. Someone pointed out to me that he had significant success in the last month or so at the major league level in 2009.  This is true, but he was still walking 4.1 batters per nine innings at that point, so like Chapman, he’s got the stuff, but the control still has to come around.  Bailey was also a rushed prospect, brought up at age 21, he had half a season of success in A+, AA and AAA before hitting the majors.  Then he got punished.  This year, at 23, he put up a BB/9 under 3 at AAA in 89 innings.  So maybe there is hope on the horizon.

So this is something that two of their most important projects have had since the start of their careers and two things they’re still working on in the present time.  Fortunately, they’re both young and have time to learn.

Back to Chapman, the Reds said they see a potential Randy Johnson but don’t regard his control problem as significant:

A source familiar with the Reds says Cincinnati was not overly concerned with Chapman’s control issues — he registered 5.37 walks per nine-innings in Cuba — and said that the Reds likened him to a young Randy Johnson, who also needed time to harness his left-handed power before progressing to a Cy Young Award winning career. Though some scouting reports project Chapman as a reliever, the Reds are said to consider him a starter, like Johnson.

Chapman is not a finished product, why on God’s earth would you start declaring him the second coming of Randy Johnson?

Probably the best thing to come of this is that the Reds have a number of coaches and scouts who are fluent in Spanish and plan on attaching a Dominican coach to him, like they supposedly did with Cueto.  A good thing, but still, nobody in the organization has addressed control issues about him. That may be toeing the company line, but Jesus, somebody stop playing ignorant.

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This’ll be fun: Reds get Chapman 5 yrs, $30 mil.?

Jeff Passan just reported through his unverified Twitter account, and Jeff Blair of the Toronto Globe and Mail confirmed, that the Reds have signed Aroldis Chapman for five years, $30 million and holy moly are they setting themselves up for disaster.

The contract will probably be heavily backloaded, but as we discussed in yesterday’s post, control is basically the hardest thing for a pitcher to learn and it’s entirely possible that the Reds will pay all of that $30 million just to develop Aroldis without seeing him reach his potential.

What makes it worse is that the Reds aren’t particularly good at developing pitchers, even worse at teaching control at the major league level.  Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto both went through the Reds minor league system and both have been less than average at the major league level–most noteably Cueto, who has had two full years in the majors and hasn’t been able to get his hits per nine innings under 9. If there’s any hope, Bailey finally posted his first sub-3 BB/9 season in a significant amount of time in the minors last year.

Both Bailey and Cueto were brought up too early, which may have been the fault of former GM Wayne Krivsky, but Jocketty has a problem with that as well.

And then when they are ready, they’re often abused by Dusty Baker, who doesn’t seem to understand that pitchers shouldn’t exceed a certain amount of pitches in a given year for fear of overuse.  Edinson Volquez was basically gifted to the Reds as a pitcher prepared for the majors and Dusty Baker decided to make him throw 50 more innings than he had ever pitched before.  Now he’s out with TJ surgery.

Bottom line is it’s gonna take time for Chapman to develop and the Reds’ track record for giving talented pitchers a chance to succeed at every level before bringing them up, and then not abusing them when they’re ready, is terrible.  Not to mention, they just gave him twice as much money as Stephen Strasburg, who’s basically ready to go, so their expectations have to place him in the majors soon, if not immediately.

Edit: John Fay, the Reds beat reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, is reporting it’s not signed and the deal may be 10 years.

Edit 2: John Fay now says six years with money deferment, Mark Sheldon (MLB.com Reds beat guy) says 5/25 with sixth year option.

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