This Grabbed My Attention

So I’m kind of minding my own business when I ran across this…

Why did this grab my attention? I found the title a tad intriguing for starters. As I read this piece, I found myself becoming a bit puzzled. Let me elaborate.

I don’t usually see a story and write that I’m in opposition of an opinion. One of the purpose of blogs is just that, opinion. If the opinion is well off that of my opinion, I will post a comment as many do here. If there’s a difference of opnion that could be viewed as minute, I move on. This; however, was a bit different. It struck a peculiar nerve.

First and foremost, I believe that I’m not always wearing my “fan glasses”. I like to believe I offer a fair amount of objectivity. I realize that to some I may not always succeed in that area. Now that a form of a self-admission is in the open, here goes.

The line for those that think the Reds potential starting rotation is overrated is most likely a decent in length. The rotation has received its fair share of attention over the past few months. Maybe too much. Young arms and depth can be misconstrued as being overrated. That’s how I view it anyway.

But the article’s author, Doug Poe, seems extremely bothered by the numbers that Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Travis Wood are posting during this spring. Admittedly, none have been spectacular. But none have been so dreadful that you would think any would have reason to doubt making the team either. Bailey owns the highest ERA at 9.00. Concern? Yes, but getting to wrapped up in stats during spring games will divert your attention from the purpose of spring training.

It’s called spring training for a reason. You work on things. You have the time to try new pitches, new methods. You have the opportunity to tie together that loose ends that may have materialized during the off-season. It’s to get ready for the regular season, not to bowl over fans with their personal numbers.

With Poe being a bit skittish about the likes of Bailey, Leake and Wood, he points to the fact that Edinson Volquez has missed outings as well. On the subject of Volquez, he does elude to the point of the 50-game suspension from last year. What was later mentioned in the comments was that Volquez was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Volquez served his suspension, but it did not affect his rehab. What is did affect was his visa issues which are now cleared.

The Reds have done their due diligence in getting Volquez into simulated games. Not the same as exhibition games, but the staff can gain knowledge from those. Is he maintaining his mechanics? Is he keeping his velocity? Is he struggling with a certain pitch? You can still tweak a thing from simulated games.

Poe also delivers two alternatives to those three (Bailey, Leake, Wood). He chooses to take the likes of Aroldis Chapman and Dontrelle Willis as the last two in the rotation.

Image: SD Dirk/Flickr

Chapman is not ready to be a starter. I would almost go so far as to say that there’s a very slight chance we don’t see Chapman as a starter at all. Depends on how the year goes. Depends on if the Reds can ever have the Cuban stretch his arm and develop the endurance that’s needed to be a starter. No one can question Chapman’s raw talent. What you can question is how the switch from the pen to the role of a starter would affect his velocity. You would not see that 105 again. Well, you could still see the triple digits on the gun, but unless the arms builds, you wouldn’t see it with any regularity. That’s a discussion that’s been had countless times already.

And the mention of his high walk total can be tightened up whether he’s a starter or a reliever. SInce we want to bring stats into play, check out Chapman’s stats as a starter last season in Louisville. They were not overly impressive.

The other solution is Dontrelle Willis? Let me point something out here. This quote, from the piece, is in refernece to both Willis and Chapman, but I’m looking more at the reference to Willis here.

“Cincinnati has a veteran lefty who has proven he can win in the big leagues, and a young lefty who throws frequently over 100 mph.”

Yes, Willis has proven he can win at the major league level…if you’re looking only at his career numbers. But look into those numbers a bit. The last season that Willis posted a winning percentage of .500 or better was in 2006 where he posted a record of 12-12. Since then, he played in three different organizations and been released twice. Once by the pitching poor Arizona Diamondbacks. Here’s his numbers since that 2006 season.

13-24 5.80 328.2 368 212 206 228 1.746 10.1 5.6 6.2 1.1

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I did say spring training was to work on things. It’s been mentioned many times on other media outlets that Willis and his high leg kick have departed ways. And take nothing away from the spring Willis has put together. It has been impressive to say the least.

Image: King2028/Wikipedia

All the positives are outweighed by the negatives by what he’s done over the past few years. And I’ve said before, let D-Train take more time to work on his new delivery and the change in mechanics at Triple-A. Putting him with the big club and tasting any form of failure early on will only derail him. Let him taste success in real game situations before taking that next step. He could always be a possible alternative if injuries creep into the staff.

I understand concern. I don’t understand the alternatives suggested especially when you also have the likes of Matt Maloney, Sam LeCure and maybe even Daryl Thompson on your roster.

For now, Chapman and Wilils need to keep working on what they have been working on in order to get ready for the season.

In regards to the whole staff. The staff is deep. The staff is young. The staff is not overrated. It’s just garnered maybe a little more attention than it should have.

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Tags: Aroldis Chapman Baseball Cincinnati Reds Daryl Thompson Dontrelle Willis Homer Bailey Matt Maloney Mike Leake Pitching Reds Sam LeCure Spring Training Travis Wood

  • beeker

    I don’t understand this guy’s logic at all. And I don’t mean that as a slam because I don’t like what he said. I seriously do not understand how his argument proves his case.

    Is he writing off Volquez because his start to spring training got delayed a week? That’s the only point he makes about him. By that logic, the Brewers may as well shut down Greinke for the year since he is expected to miss 2-4 season games. “Good grief, Charlie Brown.”

    We all know that Bailey, Wood and Leake are largely untested and battling for two spots, but putting that much stock in early games is just silly. Is he going to make the same argument about all of the solid starters sporting ugly ERAs right now? I doubt it.

    If he follows the Reds as closely as he claims, he should know that arguing that Chapman should be starting makes no sense. He’s a year out of Cuba and has a handful of major league innings under his belt… so let’s make him a starter! “Hello, McFly!”

    You already made the point well about D-Train.

  • Justin Hamilton

    It just sounds as if this fellow has taken stock in two not-so-good things. He has caught himself up in spring training stats for one. And for another, in his selection of Chapman and Willis I think he has thrown objective baseball knowledge out in exchange for “who he knows the best from watching Sportscenter”.


    Hello Steve, I agree that the notion of Chapman breaking camp as a starter makes no sense. As for the others, I think that if you have four pitchers competing for two spots in the rotation then you better do something good in spring training to earn those spots. The spring training of ‘working on new things & pitches’ is for established pitchers, not for those trying to make the rotation/team. Let’s face it, spring training is where the last three or four roster spots are earned. And those spots are earned by showing a little something in camp.

  • Steve Engbloom

    I’ll even throw this into the mix why Willis isn’t a viable option. Since the day he was signed to his minor league deal, you have told him that the only way he makes it back to the bigs is by becoming a guy out of the pen.

    @ E.E. You can still work on things and be competitive for a roster spot. Sometimes showing that you’re willing to that extra work tends to tilt thing in a player’s favor with the coaching staff.