Saturday, March 9, 2013

Reds round table: Frazier, World Baseball Classic, Prior, Furcal

This week marks the third installment of the Redlegs Review round table. In this edition, RR staffers Jimmi Adair (@Redlegs_Review), Scott Eddy (@scotte97), Jesse Welte (@RedlegsWriter), Dan Howard (@DaHermit16), Jon Davis (@I_Bleed_RedsRed), and Matt Bollmann (@RedlegsMatt) discuss four recent topics up for debate.

These topics include the prospects of Todd Frazier playing third base everyday, the excitement of the World Baseball Classic, the team's signing of Mark Prior, and how the season-ending injury to Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal affects the NL Central race.

1) CBS Insider Danny Knobler wrote a column this week on his “likes and dislikes” about the Reds. You can click on the link for the whole thing, but one of his interesting “dislikes” was Todd Frazier taking over full-time at third base. Are you sold on Frazier as a full-time player?

Scott: I won’t go so far as saying that Frazier as a full-time player is a “dislike” in my book, but I certainly won’t say that I’m sold on him either. His end of the season was pretty worrying if you ask me – he hit .330 in August, but just .181 in September. Combine that with the fact that Frazier was always solid but never spectacular in the minors and I need to see a little more of him before I’m completely sold on him as an everyday player.

Jimmi: I'll say this, I love Scott Rolen as a player, but there is no doubt in my mind that Frazier will be more productive than Rolen was over the past two seasons. Sure, one good year isn't much to hang your proverbial hat on, but Frazier displayed plenty of evidence to suggest that he is here to stay. He has size, he has power, he has work ethic, and he has a certain likeability factor about him. I expect Frazier to do just fine as the everyday starter at the hot corner this season.

Jesse: I am more sold than unsold on the idea. He set the bar unreasonably high last season, which could be bad news for him. He was in the Rookie of the Year race, he hit a home run with no hands, and he saved a man's life. Talk about pressure. That's a lot to live up to. Most Reds fans will expect his production to go up with more at-bats, but that just may not be the case. Am I worried about Frazier at third though? Not at all. He plays hard enough that he should be fine on offense and defense. There ought to be plenty of firepower around him, so that he doesn't have to be a superhero in 2013.

Dan Howard: I think he earned a shot at third base, he played great last season. Only 72 at bats last September during the pennant push, after 230+ AB’s in July & August. Fatigue may have been a factor why his productivity fell in September.

Jon: After what he did last year, to call him a dislike, is just insulting. Is he a slam dunk to be the Reds third baseman for the next five years? Well no, but we are talking about a first round pick who was drafted as a shortstop, then moved to second, to third and then to left field, and final brought back to third. He did whatever was asked of him with gusto and continued to hit, while he learned the new position. He finally got his chance and did an excellent job, playing great defense and doing his part with the bat too. I expect his counting numbers to hit career highs this year due to being the full time starter as long as, Dusty doesn't show his veteran bias. Bottom line anyone concerned about Frazier is just looking for reasons to worry, he has given me no reason to think he can't handle the job and until he does I believe he will succeed.

Matt: Having Frazier as a full-time player I have no issue with because I think he's a solid all around player. Am I sold on him? No. His defense is no comparison to the likes of Scott Rolen, and for Frazier to have an offensive explosion like we saw at times last year will not continue for the long haul of a playoff chase. He's a solid player to have out there but I think there are better players to handle that role.

2) The World Baseball Classic is underway. The WBC has been a tough sell among many baseball fans. Are you excited about the WBC, and what are you most interested in seeing during the tournament?

Jimmi: I do enjoy the concept of hosting a global baseball tournament. I find it frustrating that more Americans don't share the enthusiasm that competing countries do. The Latin American countries treat the WBC as a World Series of sorts. And Japan has won both of the previous tournaments. Meanwhile, the United States team struggles to lure some of the top American-born players to play. I understand the fear that accompanies the risk of injury. I too find myself worrying about Votto and Phillips competing. But for the sake of competition, let's encourage the world's best players to participate. I'm most interested in seeing how Votto performs post-knee surgery, as well as if Team USA can finally bring home the gold.

Scott: I actually like the WBC, the concept is great but the injury concern that hangs over it is always going to be a deterrent. It’s also pretty hard to find the games on TV if you don’t have MLB Network which doesn’t help its cause either. Far more than anything else, though, I’m interested to see how Joey Votto does. If Votto does well in the WBC for Canada, I think a lot of fears about his rehab will start to fade away.

Matt: I'm a big fan of the WBC. I didn't know exactly how I felt about it to begin with, but I like it a lot! It reminds me of October baseball, except it is being played in March. What could be better than that?

Dan: Personally, I hate it. I’m concerned about the injury factor, thank God there hasn’t been any major injuries since the WBC began in 2006. I would like it a lot better if the WBC was played after the baseball season, so in case of an injury a player would have the offseason to recover from it. Another concept, play the WBC with top prospects instead of current major leaguers. As far as television, I’m hearing rumors of some minor college basketball tournament starting in March, so that may be why the WBC is only on MLB Network, and ESPN Deportes.

Jon: I like the WBC in concept more than I like the execution, so I spend most of my time keeping an eye on Reds players in the tournament. I occasionally find a matchup that peaks my interest or a player that I follow, but it always comes back to the Reds and whether said player could be a MLB talent or not. Overall a little excited but mostly just hoping the Reds come out without any injuries and ready to go on opening day.

Jesse: Overall, I'm not crazy about the WBC. I think it's probably a much bigger deal to fans in other countries like those in Asia and Central America. I am however in favor of the USA winning any competition, which is why I will be paying attention. It's like the Olympics. I don't care what sport is on as long as America is involved. I will watch it. I'm interested to see if Brandon Phillips and the USA can not only improve upon our WBC-best fourth-place finish from 2009, but if we can finally win this thing. USA USA USA

3) Cincinnati signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal late last week. Any chance this signing turns into anything more than a chance for the media to rehash Dusty Baker’s tenure with the Cubs?

Jesse: Nope. The Reds bullpen is already too deep for Prior to have any kind of shot. We probably won't hear much of anything about it after this post is finished. You never know what could happen though. If he actually is healthy and injuries ravage the big league 'pen, Prior could get a look. Like Lloyd Christmas said, "So you're telling me there's a chance!"

Jimmi: When I first heard the news, I was immediately excited. I still vividly remember the way Prior used to dominant helpless hitters with an overpowering fastball and tantalizing curveball. Unfortunately, I didn't initially realize how long its been since he has pitched in the big leagues (2006). I doubt Prior ever materializes as a major contributor for the Reds, but it would be a great comeback story if he did.

Matt: Is there any chance Prior could turn into something? Sure, there's always a chance. It's a low risk, high reward type thing. As far as people blaming Dusty for Prior's injuries, that's just plain stupid. The guy had horrible mechanics coming into the majors and they weren't corrected by anyone.

Dan: I think he’ll be in the minors when the season begins, but you never know, an injury here or there, he could be with the big club. I would love to see him return to his 2003 dominant form.

Scott: Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against Prior. He hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2006 and he’s way down on the depth chart with Cincinnati. I’m a little surprised he didn’t latch on somewhere else – his numbers at Triple-A Pawtucket weren’t hideous last year and I would think a team with absolutely no pitching might be willing to give him a flyer out of the bullpen. But I seriously doubt we ever see him wearing a Reds uniform in a game that counts.

Jon: No not really for Prior this is just a last chance to prove he has something left in the tank. He will first have to prove that he does indeed have something left, then he will have to wait his turn for an opportunity to become available, either through bad performance or injury. Either way I don't see that happening anytime soon if at all.

4) With the announcement of Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal needing Tommy John surgery and being lost for the season, it offers us a chance to re-visit our NL Central Division predictions. Who is the Reds’ biggest road block on the way to defending their division crown?

Scott: It’s still the Cardinals, and it isn’t close. For one thing, St. Louis has some serious weird magical mojo working for them and things seem to turn to gold for them when everything should be going against them. As I wrote in my season preview on them, their injury risks are worrisome (Furcal was a guy I pointed to), but there’s still a ton of talent here and a deep pool of interesting prospects that could help this year. Milwaukee should hover around the chase all year, but Pittsburgh and Chicago won’t be factors.

Jon: It is still definitely the Cardinals, Furcal is not that big of a piece, in my mind. It might actually be a blessing in disguise for St.Louis, as it appeared they were going to with a Furcal/ Kozma combo. With Furcal going down it means they will either go with Descalso, which would be a lateral move at best to Furcal. There is also the possibility that they go with Matt Carpenter at second base which would be a upgrade over Furcal. They possibilities are many but the bottom line is that the Furcal injury may lead to a small up or downgrade but either way it doesn't really change all the much for the central.

Jesse: Even without Furcal, who played a major role on last year's team, the Cardinals are still going to be nipping at the Reds heels for the NL Central title. They've got a tremendous farm system right now with a lot of strong, young players ready to step up. Case in point, Pete Kozma. He will become the main man at short, and showed promise in 26 games last year hitting .333/.383/.569 with two home runs and 14 RBI. Like Scott said, they do have some kind of weird mojo, which will probably lead Ronny Cedeno to having a career year in St. Louis as Kozma's backup. I'd say the Pirates compete and finish third, while finally getting over .500. The Brewers to me don't have enough pitching and the Cubs, well, they're the Cubs.

Matt: Biggest threat to the Reds continues to be the Cardinals. The Pirates are a team ever year that does awesome the first half, and then falters in the second half. I don't see the Brewers or Cubs as much of a factor this year in the division.

Dan: With Chris Carpenter possibly out for the season, now the Furcal injury, I don’t see anyone challenging the Reds. Milwaukee? Maybe, depending on the controversy surrounding Ryan Braun affects his play. However if there’s a team that could challenge Cincinnati, it’s St. Louis. I believe if they had a roster full of Little Leaguers they would play the Reds tough. I do hope Pittsburgh gets their first winning season since 1992, 82 – 80,some 20 games behind the Reds!

Jimmi: The Redbirds to the West will continue to be the greatest obstacle between the Reds and a Central crown. They have an unbelievable way of placing themselves in the thick of the pennant race each and every season. And the injury to Furcal shouldn't be enough to keep that from happening again in 2013. Milwaukee will hover around the .500 mark just as they historically do. Meanwhile, the Buccos and Lovable Losers will continue to occupy the basement in the division standings. In my opinion, the National League Central is absolutely Cincinnati's to lose at this point.


Anonymous said...

Sweet roundtable logo!

Redlegs Review said...