My Cincinnati Reds Christmas Wish List

After reading comments regarding yesterday’s post I decided to focus a bit more on the single hole Good Ole St. Walt said he intends to fill this winter.  Namely finding a top of the rotation starter to step into the Ace or at least the number 2 spot in the Reds 2012 starting rotation.  So I decided before we fill out our wish list we need to look at what we have, then focus on what we can improve.  So I needed to come up with a prospective list of names that Reds fans are clamoring for, or names I have dropped now and then.  I even through in a couple of oddball suggestions, one because I am doubtful he is available and the other because given his age I am not sure who will want him.  First lets profile our potential choices.

Madison Bumgarner

Bumgarner first came on my radar shortly after Buster Posey was injured for the season and I wondered about who the Reds might be interested in on the Giants roster in exchange for a solid short term replacement catcher such as Ramon Hernandez.  Looking back at that now with hindsight, the Giants and the Reds should have spent time looking at this opportunity and we might have seen a different result come playoff time.  For both teams.  He was 21 years old and had a record then of 2-8.  An exchange of Bumgarner for Hernandez might have truly sparked both teams into the playoffs, but we will never know.  He finished much stronger than he started and at 22 has an exciting future ahead of him.  I would love to see him on the Reds.

Gio Gonzalez

I hear a lot of talk about the desirability of bringing Gio to Cincinnati.  I always felt his walk numbers were high but I listed him here in order to check the numbers.

Jair Jurrjens

Jurrjens is another pitcher I constantly hear rumors about the Reds desire to take advantage of his services.  So that warrants a look.

Paul Maholm

I may be the sole supporter in Reds country of Maholm and I wanted to compare his numbers to the rest of these guys and see if I am off base or if the idea might actually work.

Wandy Rodriguez

Another regular on the Reds rumor mill, he has the biggest contract of this group and is often mentioned that the Astros are dangling him as trade bait so he appears as well.  BRM reader extraordinaire beaker also asked what I thought about his usefulness so he is on the list.

Joe Saunders

Saunders was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks yesterday and that alone made him worth a look to me.  But is he a fit in Cincinnati?

James Shields

The most popular rumors of all have involved trades of all shapes and sizes involving the Rays Shields.  He has always looked good to me, lets see how his numbers track.

Tim Wakefield

Finally on a pure whim I added free agent knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.  I saw his debut many years ago in Pittsburgh and he has always had a special place in baseball lore for that reason.  In addition, a regular fixture on the #Reds circuit on Twitter is @HeatherKnitz who has insisted that the Reds need a knuckleballer on their team.  Since there are only two active in the MLB (the other is New York Met R.A. Dickey) Wakefield at least is worth a look and as knuckleballers put little stress on their bodies his 45 year age is less a hindrance than it is for any other type of pitcher.

The Reds Starters

I included all of the Reds starters with at least 10 starts.  This will include Dontrelle Willis who is now signing with the Philadelphia Phillies for 2012 where I imagine he will see more success.

The criteria I gathered for this study revolve around the pitchers run support, his ERA, the number of HRs he allows, and most importantly in GABP: the ability to keep balls on the ground.


  • GS = Games Scored
  • IP = Innings Pitched
  • Record = 2011 Win-Loss Record
  • ERA = Earned Run Average
  • GB/FB = ground ball vs. fly ball ratio (ie. The higher this number is the more ground balls are produced.)
  • HR = Home Runs allowed
  • BB = Bases on Balls
  • R = Runs scored
  • ER =  Earned Runs allowed
  • SO =  Strikeouts
  • RS/G = Runs support per game scored by the pitchers team.

I like seeing pitchers manage 200 Innings but Shields number is scary.  Bordering on overuse.  Justin Verlander is the only pitcher in MLB with more innings pitched in 2011.  He is consistent though, as every season after his rookie year he has eclipsed 200 IP.  Aside from Wakefield’s hideous number they are all within a run of each other in ERA.  It is worth noting that the worst record of losses belongs to Paul Maholm but he is the only pitcher who received less run support than his ERA and the only one to get less than 3 runs of support per game.  What makes this number even more disappointing is he won two of his games by scores of 10-0 and another by a score of 9-1.  Remove those two games and his run support drops to 2.38 runs per game.

Maholm, Gonzalez, Bumgarner and Shields all have a .9 GB/FB ratio but only Maholm allows fewer fly balls than ground balls.  Rodriguez and Wakefield both were victimized by double digit unearned runs.  Gonzalez gave up a lot more walks than anyone on this list.  Rodriguez, Saunders, Shields and Wakefield all gave up the most Home Runs of the group and Shields struck out significantly more batters than anyone else.

Now before we can determine who we should target, we must evaluate the rotation parts the Reds currently have.  Making a change for changes sake helps no one.  The Reds must target specific pitchers who will upgrade the existing parts that are in place.  Here are the Reds:

The Reds staff numbers are an embarrassment of unexplainable inconsistency.  It is a well known fact that Dontrelle Willis can hit.  In fact, ignoring the sample size across the Reds lineup, the Reds player with the best batting average on the team (who recorded at least 10 hits) is Dontrelle Willis at .387.  Sadly, Paul Janish recorded 88 total bases on the season (336 at bats) while Willis collected 20 in just 31 at bats.  Maybe the Reds should have converted him into a left fielder.  As the Phillies have signed him, that ship has sailed.  Somehow I expect that decision will cost Cincinnati at some future junction.  I am a firm believer no one should EVER have an ERA over 5.00 so Willis, Volquez and Arroyo are all guilty of violating this sacred trust.  The Reds have collected a few ground ball pitchers but Arroyo, Bailey and Wood are definitively not among them.  Arroyo is ours forever and the Reds can’t afford to just eat his contract so we are stuck with him and can only pray he improves.  Bailey is the beneficiary of a high level of run support and in 2012 that number will not stay the same in my estimation.  The law of averages is going to correct that anomaly.  Willis suffered the least support but given his ERA he did not help matters much with his pitching.  If the Reds are looking to replace anyone it would seem to be Bailey as I anticipate Wood will be in the bullpen.  Cueto and Leake seem solid choices and Arroyo is in by default.  If Chapman takes the 4th spot that leaves Bailey and Wood and neither have numbers that invite confidence.  The Reds need one solid starter and should make Bailey and Wood available to teams that play in more spacious ballparks that will allow for their aerial game without sailing out of the yard.  So who should it be?

In the final review, if the Reds could have any one of these players on my Christmas wish list I would rank them as follows:

  1. Madison Bumgarner – His age of 22 is the harbinger of a spectacular career.
  2. James Shields – A great pitcher in his own right, 29 years of age.
  3. Paul Maholm – I still believe he is the best pitcher truly available to the Reds for 2012.
  4. Gio Gonzalez – I am not sold on this pick but he has the fourth best GB/FB ratio so I went ahead and slotted him here.
  5. Wandy Rodriguez – He is a good pitcher but the $10 million contract in 2012 and $13 million in 2013 would have to be reduced to be a viable trade.
  6. Jair Jurrjens – Not sure why, but Jurrjens does not excite me the way Bumgarner does, he is just 23.
  7. Joe Saunders – The numbers are just not that great but he does eat innings.
  8. Tim Wakefield – The only reason to take this gamble at his age is the price and the idea that for one more year, National League hitters will be unfamiliar with the dynamics of his knuckler and he will get extra outs just as a result of befuddling batters.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz