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From news of the day to news of the weird, John Fay provides a glimpse of what it’s like to cover the Cincinnati Reds

John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

State of the bullpen

An emailer or a commenter on the blog wanted to know if I thought the Reds should add a veteran to the bullpen mix.

I would not.

I think the young relievers they've added to inventory will be enough now that the Francisco Cordero signing moves David Weathers and Jared Burton back.

I liked what I saw of Marcus McBeth last year. Jon Coutlangus is a serviceable lefty. If Bill Bray can stay healthy, he'll help out a great deal. Brad Salmon has the stuff to be effective.

But you know about those guys. Two guys you may not know about who could be in the mix before the years done are right-hander Josh Roenicke and left-hander Pedro Viola.

Roenicke was 10th-round pick in 2006. He's a converted outfielder, out of UCLA. He throws up to 98. He was 2-1 with 3.25 ERA and 16 saves at Sarasota last year and 1-1 with 0.95 and eight saves at Chattanooga last year.

Viola is 23. He signed late for a Dominican player, so last year was his second pro season. He went from Dayton to Sarasota to Chattanooga last year. His combined numbers: 3-2, 1.42 ERA, 1.86 opponent average, 94 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings. He got beat around early in Arizona Fall League, but he ended with four scoreless outings.


35 Comments:

at 3:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John..

No offense because I think u are a really decent guy..but you do suffer the "I think..I hope..I believe syndrome" that has plagued us for many years.

Lets assume that there will be no miraculous turnaround with the majority of our bullpen players...what will happen then?

Our problem..as I mentioned earlier..was the 6th 7th and 8th innings and I see no personnel changes that would indicate that we have addressed the problem

Not yet that is

We still have Griffey..Dunn.. and Gonzalez and the problem of not being able to produce runs with men on base has not been addressed either

I would spend money on the bullpen before I would starting pitching.

I don't believe that Coutlangis, Burton, Coffey etc will improve dramatically but if it makes you feel better I will agree.

The Reds..like the Bengals do just enough to keep you interested.. thats all

Thank you ...Jack in Blue Ash

 
at 3:16 PM Anonymous firefly118 said...

John I agree with you from a limited point of view. Yes, I believe that the bullpen we have is very serviceable and Cordero does add a lot to it. The problem is our starting pitching! This is beating a dead horse, but when we talk about the pen, we also must talk about the starters. When your staff only gives you an average of 5.5 innings that tends to take its toll on the pen. Do you not agree that we need to get into the 7th inning on a normal basis to keep our pen fresh and thus productive?

 
at 3:25 PM Anonymous Bundy said...

As a Dayton native, Pedro Viola is a name that I recognize, but have yet to see in person. He and Roenicke both sound like legitimate talent that, if they continue to throw well early, could see a major league mound this season. Do you think that they are likely to start at a AAA level, or more likely to start in Chattanooga?
Also, with some of this extra relief, I would like to see any number of pitchers in the pen in a trade for a starter sometime this year. Maybe not before the season starts, but if Salmon or Couter really impresses anyone this summer maybe then.
And does this kid Roenicke actually throw up to 98? or is it like Homer Baily who was championed as being a burner, too, even though I never saw him push the gun over 93 in GABP?

 
at 4:25 PM Anonymous oklahoma red said...

I assume John knows a lot more than most since he does get paid to keep up with the Reds and love to hear about any hidden diamonds in the rough. We also know that March deals can get done (thank you Bronson) and there is not much out there to choose from.

 
at 5:05 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cordero, Burton, Weathers, Bray are the only locks. Coffey could be dominant or just another guy. The magic man is horrible...and that hurts to say bc I thought he was a player. As for Coutlangus, McBeth, Salmon, Stanton and all the rest I'd cut bait.

 
at 5:18 PM Blogger Chris at Redleg Nation said...

Josh is the son of former major leaguer Gary and the nephew of Ron, correct? (Or is it the other way around?)

 
at 5:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cordero fixes alot.

Burton in the 8th and Weathers in the 7th or vice versa should be a solid late inning pen.

 
at 5:52 PM Anonymous redfuture said...

First of all the Bengals don't belong in this conversation. Secondly, equally as important as signing Cordero has been the definite subtractions in the bullpen of Saarloos, Santos, Cormier & Stone. Couple that together with the hopefull subtractions of Majewski, Stanton and Coffey and the bullpen will be in good shape with these seven: Cordero, Weathers, Burton, Coutlangus, Salmon, Bray & Shearn as the long man. I must admit that I'm still bothered a bit by Bray too. I think Tyler Pelland who also was in the Ariz Fall League may have a better shot than Viola of displacing Bray. We only need to have this LH discussion because of letting Guardado become a FA, which I think has been one of the two worst moves. I'd like to think that Valenzeula was worth dropping Cantu (the other worst move) from the roster, if so, perhaps he can be the long man rather than Shearn. Please, please don't tell me about Coffey finding his lost sinker, splitter, changeup, release point or whatever. He's said it time after time after time again. He simply throws fastballs over the middle of the plate all the time.

 
at 6:05 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that if Dusty really is what everyone has accused him of, a manager who runs his starting pitchers into the ground, then the "6,7,8,closer" system will not be followed much.

Last year is no longer a base of comparison as Dusty is bringing in a new system.

 
at 6:43 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coutlangus is freaking dreadful. Guy showed his true colors at the end of the season by getting banged everytime he hit the mound. Hopefully hes gone before the start of the season, Im sure we can get someone younger and better than him in there.

 
at 6:45 PM Anonymous Red at the Beach said...

The Reds spent plenty on the bullpen. How do vet pickups like Stanton and Rheal Cormier look now?

We need a vet starter (or two), not another arm for the pen. IIRC, WK traded lopez and kearns to "fix the pen", and though that has not occured, we can't keep acting out of desperation.

Anyway, since we are picking on Fay, I have one big Q: Why did you state that the Reds weren't willing to part with Bailey or Cueto for a Bedard type, when it has been widely reported (even by you) that Bailey was available and that it was Bruce who held up the Bedard deal? Heck, even WK strongly hinted at trading Bailey when he obliquely referred to 'taking arms to get arms'.

 
at 6:57 PM Anonymous redsfanwoody said...

John
I say you are right on the money.And I also believe that you are of the capability to believe in what you see. Like someone, said you are around baseball more than most of us put together.

Bringing in Cordero helps with the rest of the 'pen simply because it moves Weathers back into the 7th or 8th inning. So right there is a plus. Burton is a plus. If you watched him last year you will know why.

And as Redsfuture pointed out,a big chunk of the "meltdowns" are gone minus Coffey & Stanton. And I am willing to bet if either falters in spring, they won't hesitate to release Stanton and send down Coffey.

Think the Reds should overpay for bullpen help? Check with the Orioles and the pen they paid for last year. What they have is what they are going to work with barring a last minute deal.

Are the Reds world beaters? Nope. But give them a chance to see what happens before you start to poo poo the season.
Woody

 
at 7:16 PM Blogger John Fay said...

Blogger's been acting up today. Roenicke is Ron's son and Jerry's nephew. He pitches in the 95-96 range. Touches 98.

I saw Bailey hit 96 or 97 this year. But his velocity was down after the groin pull.

As for the Big Q: The Reds would have parted with Bailey for Bedard. But they weren't going to trade Bailey AND Cueto. The Orioles wanted two of the top three prospects in the package. Bruce and Bailey; Bruce and Cueto; or Bailey and Cueto.

 
at 8:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

well obviously you didnt read the post with the signing of cordero that moves burton and weathers back to the 7th and 8th innings so that takes care of the last 3 innings of the game then the 6th and before pending the situation we can go with bray who i believe when healthy will be nasty and others so the signing of cordero helps the bullpen in not just the closers role but the way the entire bullpens setup

rusty from virginia

 
at 8:55 PM Anonymous mikec said...

Jack, you accuse John of the "I think...I believe, etc." syndrom. Then you say:

"I don't believe that Coutlangis, Burton, Coffey etc will improve dramatically"

This is a blog. It calls for speculation. And John's speculation is based on facts and educated guesses.

I agree with you that this team hasn't gotten a clutch run producer. But Encarnacion and Phillips are still developing and can help that.

But the Reds were still middle of the pack offensively. They haven't done much to decrease production because you figure the production they lost when they got rid of Hamilton will be offset by adding Votto (who incidentally might help the team hitting with runners on base, they have added his bat).

As for Burton, Coutlangus and Coffey improving, that probably isn't necessary for this to be a strong bullpen. Now what can't happen is for guys to regress (see 2007: Stanton, Coffey, Cormier).

But if Burton, Weathers, Cordero and Coutlangus match what they did in 2007 (not improve but match) that's three strong relievers and a serviceable lefty (look at Coutlangus's stats folks. I'll take 4-2 with a 4.29 ERA from a guy who is 27 and has only been pitching since 2004).

You say:
"Our problem..as I mentioned earlier..was the 6th 7th and 8th innings and I see no personnel changes that would indicate that we have addressed the problem"

Signing Cordero moves Weathers and Burton to the 7th and 8th. If you fix the rotation you don't need much for the sixth.

So you're looking to fill two or three spots in the pen and you've got some options:

Stanton: Probably should cut your losses. But he may come into spring in a little shape and have his command back. Who knows. We're talking about a proven reliever.

McBeth: Had an ERA of 4 in September. He's young.

Salmon: I like this guy. He's got good stuff. He pitched pretty well last year. Not sure why they sent him down in July and didn't call him back until September.

Coffey: He was about as bad as you can be. But in 2006, he was about as good as you can be as a setup man. Which Todd Coffey shows up in 2008?

Shearn: I think this soft-tosser is a better fit for the pen as a long man. I hope they don't need him in the rotation.

Majewski: OK, you can get worse than Coffey was in 2007. I think he's finally healthy in 2008. So the question is: Is he any good? He like Coffey could be really good or bad. You gotta figure one or two of these guys pans out decently.

Bray: He'll be healthy and lights out. This is a guy this time last year we said could be our closer. Remember that? So he was hurt and missed half the year.

The rotation on the other hand is just a wreck. You've got no one to get you to those guys except Harang and Arroyo. Belisle could improve. Or he could give us another 5.28 ERA season. I'm not sold that Bailey is ready for the bigs. I like Volquez to put up better numbers than Bailey.

After that you're looking at guys who have no big league experience in Cueto and Maloney and then Tom Shearn. And that's it. Unless they bring in some Joe Mays retreads.

 
at 9:05 PM Anonymous mikec said...

Two questions:

1) Does anyone know if Elizardo Ramirez has landed anywhere? Are the Reds prusuing him?

2) Does anyone know where you can find batting average with RISP stats?

 
at 9:41 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bullpen is fine, and we should definitely fix Starting Pitching before we add more depth to the bullpen.

 
at 9:51 PM Blogger John Fay said...

ramirez signed with texas, as did JEllison. You can find RISP on espn.com and the other big sites. Look under splits.

 
at 10:57 PM Anonymous The Eternal Optimist said...

I have to come to John's defense on this one. I kept saying last year that the Reds needed to lose the finesse guys and build a bullpen similar to the Tigers, ... i.e., lots of guys who throw decent hooks (i.e., curves, sliders, or split finger fastballs) in the mid- to high 90's. Since they had so few guys who fit this bill, I suggested Homer Bailey would be a good stop-gap and that having him at the back of the pen would likely save his arm. Krivsky has done a masterful job of adding powerful young arms. I didn't even know about the two John mentioned. I'm more convinced than ever that the Reds are going to be very competitive for years to come. Adding a veteran arm or two in the pen makes sense in July if the Reds are contenders ... I don't see the need now, and besides whose out there, anyway?

 
at 11:52 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of telling us who you would NOT add, how about you tell us who you WOULD add.

In the MLB you can never have too much pitching.

 
at 12:13 AM Blogger va.redsfan said...

I'd say spend money on the starters. Look how much cash the Orioles spent on their bullpen last season and got basically nothing in return. Relievers are so up and down. It was in '06 that Coffey was dominate in the first half of that season and many people were calling for him to be the closer. Now most people want him cut. I also liked McBeth and he is still learning to pitch.

 
at 12:30 AM Blogger Scottyb said...

Bitter enough dude?

I agree that the bullpen will be fine. With Weathers and Burton available for 7 and 8 and the new guy to close it down.

However I do agree that we have to hit much better with runners in scoring position. With Josh not in center that is going to get tougher.
I say we start Hopper and use Freel as a utility guy

 
at 11:43 AM Anonymous RedsfanfromNYC said...

In John's defense. The "I think, I hope, etc mentality" especially when referring to the bullpen is something that cannot be avoided. There are few teams that know exactly what they are going to get from all of their players and especially bullpen pitchers whose numbers can be very fickle from year to year. I think
Cordero in the 9th is great
Burton is no lock at all to repeat his stats but he should still be a solid contributor. Weathers may be my favorite red ( I saw him call out a fan to fight him from the bullpen because they were being typical cynical Cincinnati fans.) As for the other guys, Salmon, Bray , Coutlangus, Mcbeth, etc. Yes they are all wildcards but they all have potential and we don't need all of them to blow everyone away, just one or two nice years from that crew and we have a great bullpen. Lay of of Mr. Fay

 
at 3:37 PM Blogger Rob Dicken said...

(look at Coutlangus's stats folks. I'll take 4-2 with a 4.29 ERA from a guy who is 27 and has only been pitching since 2004).

Did anyone not mention that this was his FIRST year in the majors? I mean, I am looking up at some of these blogs and seeing people rip into him by calling him "freaking dreadful." How so? A rookie middle reliever who was 4-2 with a 4.29 ERA doesn't seem too shabby to me!

 
at 4:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Reds need to deal Griffey. Griffey needs to be traded while he still has some value. If the Reds can sign a guy like Livan Hernandez to get the quality innings and trade Griffey along with a couple minor league prospects to get a great pitcher the Reds will contend, no doubt. If Wayne Krivsky can get good pitchers who can get through seven innings and leave it up to Weathers and Cordero to do the rest, then who needs any more offense? Guys like Norris Hopper, Ryan Freel, Joey Votto, Adam Dunn, Brandan Phillips, and Jay Bruce will take care of the offense as longs as there's pitching. There is still work that needs to be done. Krivsky CANNOT be happy with just getting Ednison Volquez and Cordero. He needs to keep pushing to get better starting pitching, maybe better bullpen pitching, and the thing that most Reds fans forget about---RUNS!!! They have GOT to stop leaving men on base. There is definitly work that can still be done that haven't been addressed. Right John?

 
at 4:18 PM Blogger John Fay said...

The Reds were seventh in the NL in runs. They scored more runs than everyone in the division, except the Brewers. The problem was pitching.

There's a lot of talk about not hitting with runs on base. But the Reds hit .267 over and .263 with runners in scoring position.

 
at 6:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone not mention that this was his FIRST year in the majors? I mean, I am looking up at some of these blogs and seeing people rip into him by calling him "freaking dreadful." How so? A rookie middle reliever who was 4-2 with a 4.29 ERA doesn't seem too shabby to me!


yea, but his last 10 games were horrible! guy is majorly inconsistent, and unreliable. and he is not getting any younger at 27.....sure he had some okay stats, but if the end of the season is any indication, COUTLANGUS (what a horrible name) is done!

 
at 7:26 PM Blogger Rob Dicken said...

yea, but his last 10 games were horrible! guy is majorly inconsistent, and unreliable. and he is not getting any younger at 27.....sure he had some okay stats, but if the end of the season is any indication, COUTLANGUS (what a horrible name) is done!

His last 5 (not 10) were horrible. He was sent to the minors for a month for not any reason at all. When he was sent to the minors, he had an ERA of 3.93 -- His first two games back, he pitched 2 scoreless innings...the next 5 games were horrible (4 runs in 4 2/3 innings, and 2 of those runs were against the New York Mets). The guy played in 64 games last year and you're basing your reasoning of his last 5 games of the season when his team was waaaaaay out of contention?

No offense...but get with the program, man! The guy is a middle reliever, and for a middle relief rookie (despite age), his stats were pretty darn good. Pitchers have a longer lifetime than normal players, so age is not of relevance.

 
at 8:55 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

While the Reds' need is starting pitchers, who among you would have parted with three top minor-leaguers for Nick Swisher of the A's?

Think about it: There's the young power bat (switch-hitter) that balances the lineup, slots into the middle and is locked up for the next 3-4 years.

To me, that's the kind of move that would have made the Reds seriously dangerous and seriously set after Griffey departs following this upcoming season.

Remember: the Reds still have an off-balanced, flawed batting order.

 
at 10:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why isn't Bedard worth two of three top prospects? Bedard's proven; the prospects are not. Bedard for Bailey, for example, would make no sense for Baltimore. We think Bailey will be good, but who knows? So, obviously, it takes more.

 
at 1:04 AM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

You'd have to ask Andy MacPhail that question, Anon 10:11, but the Orioles didn't want prospects. They wanted major-league ready talent AND prospects.

 
at 8:15 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Coutlangus gets enough credit. If he gets his walks down, he's an All Star. The guy has been pitching for only 3 years.

I had not heard of Roenicke, but his numbers look great, and it'd be nice to finally have a guy in the bullpen that can break 95

 
at 12:51 PM Anonymous rickNmd said...

Coutlangus doesn't get enough credit? A situational reliever with a 4.30 ERA? He got rocked once scouting reports got out on him. Mr. Redlegs pointed out on Rosecrans blog during the season that Coutlangus was nothing more than a 2 pitch thrower who didn't throw strikes. Best I recall, when he did throw a strike, it got hit. When he didn't throw a strike, he was behind in counts and walking people.

 
at 3:58 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coutlangus doesn't get enough credit? A situational reliever with a 4.30 ERA? He got rocked once scouting reports got out on him. Mr. Redlegs pointed out on Rosecrans blog during the season that Coutlangus was nothing more than a 2 pitch thrower who didn't throw strikes. Best I recall, when he did throw a strike, it got hit. When he didn't throw a strike, he was behind in counts and walking people.

thank you, someone who has some sense. i was unaware Coutlangus was the best thing since sliced bread, and could walk on water. he had marginal results, but looks good cause the rest of the pen was horrible. if you guys would get off his jock strap for a minute, you would realize there is much better out there, and coming up in the ranks than him. But hey, keep him again for this year, and watch the walks and hits and ERs come, with an occasional K. You guys mention he has only thrown for a few years, to me is a BIG negative. But hey, we will have to wait and see...When do the reds decide if they sign him again anyway, end of training camp?

 
at 3:01 PM Blogger Rob Dicken said...

Again...it seems a lot of you are too blind to see that Coutlangus was a rookie Middle Reliever! IT WAS HIS FIRST YEAR IN THE MAJORS! What's so hard to understand about that?

The guy didn't pitch great, but he didn't pitch horrible either. Sure he looked better because the bullpen was awful this year, but he would've looked even marginal in a GOOD bullpen.

If some of you people would just start actually looking at his stats and basing redundant opinions on like 1-2 games you watched of him on TV, you would realize he didn't pitch bad at all until the last 5 games of the season.

Just shut up about the guy already. He is the LEAST of the bullpen worries and the LEAST of the Reds worries. He's NOT a problem of the bullpen woes.

 
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