Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reds Opening Day roster is far from set

"Pedro...I'm on the rooster!" -Rube Baker
We are less than a week from Opening Day in the Queen City and I couldn't be more excited about it. 2013 holds the potential for another NL Central title for the Reds, as well as a deeper playoff run, and perhaps the chance for the team's first World Series win since 1990. It all starts on April 1st though and the Reds still have some roster trimming to do before they can take the field. The Reds must get their roster down to 25 ballplayers in the coming days. There are a couple heated battles still taking place, namely for the last bench spot and for those precious bullpen spots. The Reds will have some tough calls to make.

Here is my best attempt at "rosterology" and since it's March Madness season, it will be somewhat in the stylings of a college basketball bubble watch. Any numbers following a player's name, refer to his spring statistics as of 3/26.

Locks: Ryan Hanigan, Devin Mesoraco

The catchers are set, as it was reported yesterday that Mesoraco will be the backup to Hanigan to start the season and for good reason (I should be a rapper). He tore up spring training. As of Wednesday, he was hitting .361/.425/.611 with two home runs and 11 RBI, while his main competition, veteran off-season pickup Miguel Olivo, hit just .167 with a homer and four RBI. Olivo was offered a $100,000 retention bonus which he will receive if he reports to Triple-A Louisville, but he could decide to look elsewhere. Even if he goes to Louisville, he'll still have the option to opt out of his contract on June 1st if he's not on the Major League roster.

Locks: Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, Jack Hannahan

Bubble (only one will make it): Jason Donald, Cesar Izturis, Emmanuel Burriss

Jason Donald - 22 g, .286/.432/.343, 0 hr, 4 rbi, 8 bb - Donald has had a sore right knee, but he did play yesterday. The 28-year old infielder came over as part of the Choo trade with hopes of securing a spot on the Reds bench as a backup at any infield position, except first base. He has played the bulk of his career at second and shortstop, but he's also played third base, as well as left and center fields. He actually appeared at all of those positions at least three times last year with the Indians. Versatility like that is a definite plus. Also a plus for Donald is that he is currently on the Reds 40-man roster, while his two competitors are not. That could be a deciding factor. Remember that Donald is out of options also, so if he doesn't make the squad, he could move on to another team.

Cesar Izturis - 20 g, .347/.407/.510, 1 hr, 7 rbi, 5 bb - Izturis has the best numbers of the spring among the three, which is always good when fighting for a roster spot. His other main positive is that he is easily the most experienced. The Reds are the ninth team for this 12-year veteran. He has primarily played shortstop in his career, playing 1120 of his 1221 career games there. He can also handle duties at second and third if need be. Having a proven background at short may prove to be highly beneficial for the 33-year old Venezuelan. Let's not forget that Dusty Baker loves his veterans too. Someone will have to come off the 40-man roster for Izturis to join the team, but depending on how the bullpen shakes down or if they dropped Donald altogether, there could be a spot open for him.

Emmanuel Burriss - 25 g, .226/.263/.264, 0 hr, 3 rbi, 3 bb - Burriss appears to be chasing the other two players for this last spot. He started out pretty well this spring, but has tailed off a bit. He can play second (183 games) and short (62 games) and has a couple of World Series rings from playing all five of his seasons in San Francisco. It's nice to have some of that kind of experience I guess. His other major plus is that he has five steals this spring, while Donald has just one and Izturis has none, so he could be a nice option as a pinch-runner and help in the running department where the Reds weren't all that great last year and shipped their fastest player to Cleveland this offseason. That's not likely to be the deciding factor though and I suspect Burriss will be playing in Louisville until he is needed in Cincy.

Prediction: This one is tough because what do you do with Donald if you don't put him on the 25-man roster? I think Burriss is out of the picture at this point, though, and it will either be Donald or Izturis. It's not like Donald is some can't miss guy that you have to keep, but I don't think you just want to toss guys out who you've gotten as part of a trade either. Since Dusty got his way and is keeping Chapman as a closer, I'll say Walt makes the final call here and Donald joins his former Indians teammates in Cincinnati, while Izturis and Burriss travel to Louisville, ready to jump into action when needed. Either way, I think the bench is certainly upgraded from last year. #willieharristweet

Locks: Jay Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul

The outfield has essentially been set since the day Choo was acquired. There were a couple young guys who might have had a fleeting chance to overtake Paul for the last spot, but the chances were probably less than 0.1% without an injury occurring.

Starting Rotation
Locks: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake

There was almost going to be competition for the fifth spot before it was announced a few days ago that Aroldis Chapman would remain as the closer. This is the same group that made 161 of 162 starts in 2012 and they are carrying high expectations for 2013.

Locks: Sam LeCure, Jose Arredondo, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Aroldis Chapman

Bubble (two players make it): RHP Logan Ondrusek, RHP Alfredo Simon, LHP Manny Parra, RHP J.J. Hoover

Logan Ondrusek - 0-0, 7.27 era, 8.2 ip, 4 so, 6 bb - Those are not pretty numbers by any means, but sample size among pitchers in spring training is ridiculously small. Ondrusek has been a loyal member of the Reds bullpen for about three years now, but he has seemed to fall out of favor with the fans. He was optioned to Louisville late in 2012, a year which saw him throw the fewest innings (54.2) in his career with the Reds. He's been pretty reliable in middle relief, but has seemed to struggle in pressure situations. Middle relievers are a dime a dozen, particularly on a team with as much bullpen depth as Cincinnati. He's pretty tall though.

Alfredo Simon - 0-1, 9.45 era, 6.2 ip, 4 so, 2 bb - Simon is another guy who is having an ugly spring. He had a rough start to 2012 also, but in the end proved to be valuable in long relief as well as in mop-up duty. He has no options, so it could be the end of the line for him if he's not in the Reds Opening Day bullpen. That alone could result in him making the team, but will it be enough? Another thing that is good for him is that since Chapman will put a second left-hander back in the bullpen, perhaps he will get the edge over a guy like Parra, who does have options, I believe.

Manny Parra - 1-1, 4.05 era, 13.1 ip, 11 so, 5 bb - Parra was signed this offseason as another potential lefty out of the 'pen since Chapman was going to be starting. Well, that worked out, huh? Still, if Chapman is going to close, it's like there's only one lefty out there, in Sean Marshall, to be used situationally. Being left-handed is Parra's biggest advantage to making the 25-man roster. Having options though is his downfall. He could start the season in Louisville, but I'd assume Baker would want him as the first man up (based on another IF) if an injury occurred.

J.J. Hoover - 0-0, 2.00 era, 9.0 ip, 16 so, 1 bb - That IF I'm talking about is if Hoover makes the team. If he doesn't then he should no doubt be the first guy up in case of injury, unless maybe they need a lefty. That being said, Hoover has been the most dominant pitcher the Reds have had this spring. 16 strikeouts to one walk is an extraordinary ratio. He has struck out nine of the last 10 hitters he has faced. How can you not want that guy to be in your bullpen? He does have options, but there is really no argument that can be made against Hoover starting the season in Cincinnati. If this was an actual college basketball discussion and we were seeding for bracketology, Hoover would be the number one overall seed for making the bullpen. J.J. Hoover for President.

Prediction: Everyone here is already on the 40-man roster, so no worries there. For some reason I feel like it will come down to Ondrusek vs. Hoover for one spot and Simon vs. Parra for the other spot. Unfortunately for Ondrusek, Hoover has been lights out in the spring and was really good in 2012 also and I give him the advantage here. The battle between Simon and Parra isn't as clear-cut. They can both provide an option in long relief. Parra is left-handed, but Simon has nowhere else to go. If Chapman was still going to start, I'd pick Parra, but since Chapman will be in the bullpen, I'm going to give the edge to Simon here just so the Reds have both guys as options down the road.

Who do you think will make the Opening Day roster?


Jimmi Adair said...

I like Donald over Izturis for the last bench spot.

Hoover and Parra for the bullpen, although I could see a scenario where the Reds send J.J. down to Louisville just because they can.

RedlegsWriter said...

Sending JJ down just because they can would really upset me.