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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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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cueto theory

Johnny Cueto is clearly the sensation of this camp. He’s been dominant in every outing. I figured there had to be an explanation. Cueto’s been good in his four years in the minors. But there was nothing to indicate that he was this good.

So I asked the Reds’ expert on Dominican pitching, Mario Soto, if Cueto is doing something differently. Does he have a new pitch? Is his fastball suddenly better?

“No,” Soto said. “He’s pitching the same way he’s always pitched. I saw him in Winter Ball. He was really good.”

Cueto was 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in Winter Ball, which close to major league level competition.

My personal theory on Cueto? The more pressure, the better he gets. His ERA went down as he went from A to AA to AAA last year. Cueto’s next start is Monday against the Tigers. It’s on FSN. Dial it up the kid is fun to watch.


at 5:47 PM Blogger Ron said...

I love this kid, if he isnt penciled in after Harang, Arroyo & Fogg as the #4 starter on this team I will be very disapointed. If Volquez contiues to pitch well, I could see him wrapping up the #5 spot also.

at 5:48 PM Blogger NVreds said...

sounded to me like soto helped him refine his change this offseason. maybe i heard wrong.

This is the only player in camp that I 100% believe is the real deal, right now. even bruce, but he's still 20! so he's the future real deal.

can't wait to watch this kid pitch monday, that bluejays game he pitched in was painful to watch (the video quality and the fact the annoucers practically ignored the game)

you obviously can't crown this guy yet, but I'm comfortable telling my friends to keep an eye on this guy.

at 5:54 PM Blogger cincikid said...

What is Bailey's problem? It's kinda of depressing to see him pitching himself out of the starting rotation that so many people had him penciled into before ST. He is still very young. It kinda eerks me when I see him shaking off signs and throwing whatever he wants. If he would just pitch somewhat effectively and with the emergence of Cueto our Rotation would be good bordering great.

at 5:54 PM Blogger JackBlueAsh said...

Cueto will be the pleasant surprise of the spring as was Josh Hamiliton last year.Sad to see bailey doing so poorly

at 6:06 PM Blogger Grizzlyfox said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

at 6:23 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

It'll be nice to have the second coming of Bob Gibson this year since we had the second coming of Mickey Mantle last year.

at 6:24 PM Blogger NVreds said...

AAA will end up helping bailey, if he wants to admit he needs to change some things. his FB is good and his command of that pitch is good/getting better. he hangs too many curves, and needs a better goto 2nd pitch. I think he has it in him, he's still pretty darn young.

at 6:33 PM Blogger firefly118 said...

Cueto is a great breath of fresh air. I admit I was a little suspicious, however I was wrong, he is the real deal. He won't win 20 games or have 250k this year, but he will be solid.

Most people around the league have stated Cueto was way ahead of Bailey, and that is why some wanted to trade Bailey this offseason.

Irregardless, we are what we are now, and we have to make the most of it. Affeldt is gone, Fogg may slide into that #4, and Bailey will stay with the club in the pen.

I have always said that Belisle is the #5 no matter what, for some reason people want him in there. At this point, the Reds best options are this.

#1 Harrang
#2 Cueto
#3 Arroyo
#4 Fogg
#5 Volquez

With Bailey and Belisle in the pen for long relief. If Volquez or Fogg struggle and Bailey works his stuff out, they are all interchangable. The wild card lefty they brought in is unknown to me, so I am not sure where and if he fits in, but he is a big lefty....

at 6:46 PM Blogger Marc in Kentucky said...

True. I think it's clear Bailey is his own worst enemy right now. I hope he gets it together. He does have a little better command of his fastball, but you said it, nvreds, his curve ain't cutting it. I'm still hopeful he fits into the future and learns from his mistakes.

Looking forward to watching Cueto on Monday. This will be the first time I've got to see this Spring. Go REDS!

at 6:58 PM Blogger REddlegg in Colorado said...

Cincikid said-
"What is Bailey's problem? It's kinda of depressing to see him pitching himself out of the starting rotation that so many people had him penciled into before ST. He is still very young. It kinda eerks me when I see him shaking off signs and throwing whatever he wants. If he would just pitch somewhat effectively and with the emergence of Cueto our Rotation would be good bordering great".

I'm wondering the same thing Cincikid.Mr..Fay what's your assesement, to my question on the last thread.

Maybe Nuke need some's women's linagrie to get him to focus & a catcher that will burn him if he keep's shaking off his stuff.Sounds Like location is his main problem.

Nuke (Don't give up a) Homer Bailey,I like it

at 7:01 PM Blogger Brick said...

I like firefly's idea of Arroyo in the 3-hole...he's been a so-so #2 the past two years...a ton of innings but pretty poor run support has led to numbers that aren't what you want from a #2. So if someone could step in to the 2 spot, Arroyo would make an awesome 3.

at 7:08 PM Blogger mrtonyb40 said...

Bailey has no shot to make this team out of spring training. I don't think Belisle will either.Think Roenicke for the bullpen to go with Cordero,Burton,Affeldt,Weathers,Bray and Stanton. Cueto #3,Fogg 4 and Volquez 5.

at 7:08 PM Blogger cincikid said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

at 7:11 PM Blogger NVreds said...

I think bailey in the pen would be bad for him. he has too much to work on, he needs somewhere where he can get plenty of innings, maybe later in the yr he could join the pen, he needs to start in AAA

at 7:17 PM Blogger Mike said...

I think Volquez and Belisle are fighting for the fifth spot, unless Cueto implodes in the last two weeks.

I think Bailey is headed to AAA, and rightly so.

at 7:18 PM Blogger Mike said...

Does anyone know if I can get that Monday FSN game anywhere if I live out of the area? Is it on MLB.TV?

at 7:26 PM Blogger redaholic said...

i don't think bailey or belisle will be in cincy on opening day.

at 7:41 PM Blogger reaganspad said...

I would not put Bailey and Belisle in the pen. They need to be working at AAA working on their consistancy.
Belisle loses it with guys on base, the knock last year was pitching from the stretch. Not a quality I want on the big team until he fixes it. Disappointing.

Homer is young, and needs to refine. It's not like he doesn't have stuff, but he has to work on it.

Todd Coffey had another zero inning yesterday. Neither Bailey or Belisle is taking his bullpen spot today. I think we see the Coffey of 2006 again, when he was very good.

at 7:42 PM Blogger Bengal43 said...

What is the latest on Mercker and Majewski?

at 7:44 PM Blogger bearcat1984 said...

I agree that it seems unlikely that Bailey will be with the team coming "north". He will head to Louisville.

#1 Harang
#2 Arroyo
#3 Cueto
#4 Volquez
#5 Fogg

#6 Stanton
#7 Affeldt
#8 Bray
#9 Capellan?
#10 Burton
#11 Weathers
#12 Cordero


at 7:45 PM Blogger smtides said...

Bailey has no business being in the bullpen. He won't get nearly enough work and it won't help the Reds.

He belongs in Louisville and needs to put in the work he thought he could skip.

at 7:53 PM Blogger Bengal43 said...


What number is Capellan?

at 8:10 PM Blogger Ken Harris said...

I think Cueto and voltron must be put in to the show they have the intensity an fire to learn.They will grow over the season and will be better off for it.

at 8:18 PM Blogger Sidd Finch said...

While Bailey has been disappointing, Cueto and Volquez have looked promising.

The next two weeks should be very interesting.

at 8:24 PM Blogger Arden Dulou said...

I was kind of hoping Bailey would pitch himself into the #5 spot but oh well. The future is bright. At least the Reds don't have to rush him, which is a huge bright spot if you think about it. You couldn't say that a few years ago. The Reds could battle for the central division title with Fogg and two rookies. It says more about the division than the Reds, but still the Reds are going to get better not worse.

at 8:59 PM Blogger firefly118 said...

Guys here is the problem, he doesn't get to work against MLB players. He has been in the minors for how long (I am a little impatient) and no progress. When you are that highly touted, you either do it in a few years or not, this isn't an average prospect, he was the chosen one. My point is, we are now drafting minor players, if they can't make it to the Bigs, they should be gone.

On this team, you can get innings! Lets face it, the Reds are infamous for the most middle relief innings. So if you had a guy who can work 2-3 innings every other day or so, that is good work against the top players. That would allow him to show what he has. If they send him down, he will have great numbers, but not against MLB hitters. In Bailey's case, it is time to show or go, and maybe for a position player since Cueto and Volquez are showing promise.

Affeldt is not going to make this team, I look for him to be cut by this time next week. Bray is also not ready, now there is a guy that could use work in the minors. Those two spots in the pen should be for Belisle and Bailey. I know it won't and you guys are probably right, but it is a bad move, and Bailey's value (as trade bait) we dwindle and we will be disappointed in a few years that we got very little out of him.



at 9:04 PM Blogger Bengal43 said...

Affeldt won't be released if his contract is guaranteed.

at 9:15 PM Blogger Cheviot Sports Authority said...

I said it first last July. I will say it again. The Reds have ruined Bailey. Somehow they have managed to screw up his mechanics so much that he is not nearly the pitcher he was just a year ago. Where is the 98 MPH heater he threw in 06 and the start of last season? I don't see it and without that, he is very ordinary. Maybe its mental, maybe its physical. Hopefully he can get it straightened out, but it will probably have to be somewhere else, where they know pitching.


at 9:19 PM Blogger mgarner543 said...

I am disappointed Homer hasn't gone out and earned a rotation spot(or bullpen spot for that matter), but I am very pleasantly surprised in Cuerto and Volquez. I agree with most people on here that the rotation should be:


I am kind of worried about Cuerto only having limited experience at AAA, but he appears to be one of those guys that will be able to make the jump.

As for the bullpen, I think you only keep one of Bailey/Belisle up in long relief and send the other to AAA to start. I think Bailey will be the one sent down, so my bullpen shakes out like this.


If Capellan is a bust and gets sent back to Boston, I think the last spot goes to Bray (if healthy) or Stanton.

at 9:41 PM Blogger redaholic said...

Burton flying under the radar? I think he quickly will establish himself as the setup man for CoCo Cordero. [no offense to weathers, but burton is nasty]. if so, why such worry about the pen?

at 9:44 PM Blogger Jeff said...

I've never heard anything about the Reds trying change Bailey's mechanics. Sounds like the focus has been on his control and approach to the game. I think the 98 mile-per-hour moniker was nothing more than a scouting tale. He might have hit that when he was trying to impress the scouts. When he was in here in Dayton, 95 was usually about the best he could do. If you remember, he was inconsistent in Dayton -- his final ERA was well over four. Control was his major problem.

I think Homer is going to be a very good pitcher. Based on reports this year and last, he needs to be more open to learn from others. There are a lot of folks in this organization that know a lot more about pitching than he does -- he should start listening to them. He’s 21 -- there is plenty of time for him to develop and I believe he will.

at 9:58 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

Firefly...with all due respect, here's the problem with your argument and the notion that Bailey has nothing left to prove in the minors.

He's pitched all of 135 2/3 innings in his minor league career above A-ball. Little more than half of a major league season. 68 innings at Chattanooga, 67 1/3 at AAA.

So it's not safe to assume that Bailey, who's only now entering his fourth year in pro ball, was called up last year because he was ready. He was called up last year because every other option available to the Reds at the time made one want to puke.

It would not be, nor should it be considered a failure on the part of Homer Bailey if he spends the entire 2008 campaign in AAA. 150 innings or more there, out of the spotlight, might well do him some good.

I would say 135 innings above A-ball before being promoted to the bigs could easily be justified as being "rushed." It's a habit for the Reds. It's not time for the Reds or fans to take a "put up or shut up" attitude with Bailey yet. Now, if we're still at the same point in his development in spring training 2010, it's time to cut losses and move on.

at 10:50 PM Blogger redsfanwoody said...

Hey I thought Opening Day was going to be the most exciting day. But now that I can see what all the talk is about with my own eyes,Monday is now the most exciting.

I hope Cueto is the real deal. My though is we well see what he is made of when he hits his first rough patch.

The thing with Bailey is perplexing. I hate to beat a dead horse but he is only 21. Let's give him sometime to straighten himself out.

at 11:05 PM OpenID bart756 said...

I think a full season in AAA is a great thing for Homer. No 2 players will ever develop at the same rate, and Bailey is hard-headed. Maybe seeing Volquez and Cueto move by him and into the Show, coupled with the fact that the Reds should put him there and just leave him there no matter the temptations to bring him up, might wake him up.

at 12:38 AM Blogger MJ said...

I believe only around 100,000 or so of Affedlt's 1 Million is guarranteed.

at 12:57 AM Blogger Kurt said...

I have to post this again. Homer is stuggling yes, but he is 21 and has plenty of time to learn. If we took this same approach with these guys because they were bad at first, then they would have been gone also. Give the kid some time, all picthers learn at different paces. If he is 24 and still wild as ever then it might be time to move him.

In Homer I trust. He is rated in the top 10 of Baseball of America. So there has to be something there right, unless those scouts have no idea what they are talking about. He is 21 and still learning. Here is Homers numbers for his first year 9 games 4-2 with a 5.76 era. Not good, but not a reason to give up on him. He has great talent; can he bring it all together? If we went by what he has done in his first year then we would have to do the same for the following pitchers in their first few years.

Tom Glavine
9g 2-4 5.54 era
34g 7-17 4.56

John Smoltz
12g 2-7 5.48
29g 12-11 2.94

Greg Maddux
6g 2-4 5.52
30g 6-14 5.61

Curt Schilling
4g 0-3 9.82
5g 0-1 6.23

16g 5-4 4.83
Split season Reds: 9g 4-3 5.28, A’s: 7g 1-3 5.34

I'm not saying Homer is on the level of these guys or will ever be, but if we went by their numbers in their first few years, we would have traded them or gave up on them like people say to do with Homer all the time. Smoltz is the only one to show improvement in his second year. Homer will be fine and stop expecting him to win 20 games with an era below 1.00. He will be fine and with Baby Pedro Martinez (Baby Pedro) aka Cueto and Baby Zambrano (Baby Z) aka Volquez the future of the Reds rotation could be great.

Go Reds

at 8:14 AM Blogger JackBlueAsh said...

John I read your article on Ken Griffey. He is partially correct..why pay an aging 40 year old outfielder that misses 27% of playing time 12 million a year when you have a young potential superstar ready to take over in right field

Griffey made 100s of millions of dollars both in salary and endorsements..he needs to go gracefully

Bailey was rushed into the majors..control; has always been an issue

Cueto has never pitched a game in the majors..dont be gushing just yet

at 8:31 AM Blogger JackBlueAsh said...

coffeys had a couple of good innings in some spring training games and this means a complete reversal of his abysmal performance of last year? Interesting

at 9:30 AM Blogger mentalmidget said...

I doesn't matter what number Cueto is in the rotation as long as he is in the rotation.
Bailey? On one of the radio talk shows late last year a scout with another team was quoted as saying Bailey's velocity was down from a year earlier and it way a mystery why it was down.
Belisle? He has shown he is NOT a starter. He has proven that over and over again. How many more chances are our Reds going to give him? How many "quality starts" did he have last year? I just can't see him making this squad in the rotation or in relief. If for some reason he makes it, it should be as a mop-up guy.

at 9:41 AM Blogger Mike said...

Hey John, how about a thread handicapping the bullpen battle. The rotation battle is whittling its way down, but there are a TON of guys competing for only a few spots in the pen.

I see the rotation as Harang, Arroyo, Fogg, Cueto and Belisle/Volquez.

I figure Weathers, Cordero, Burton and Affeldt are locks for the bullpen. Volquez/Belisle rotation loser could make the pen.

Have the Reds said anything about Belisle in the pen? In year's past there was concern about him in the pen because of his back. Is that still an issue?

In your article on the pitching staff today you say Stanton is on the team. Has anyone said that or is that a guess? What happens if Bray is healthy an Mercker outpitches Stanton?

I see Brower, Lincoln, Majewski and Coutlangus and Sauerbeck being sent to Triple A for sure.

That leaves Coffey, McBeth, Roenicke, Salmon, Shearn, Bray, Mercker competing for two or three spots.

Any chance the Reds put Bailey in the pen to start the season like the Yankes did with Joba?

at 9:46 AM Blogger 1919 HOF said...

Cueto deserves his chance to be in the rotation along w/ Fogg for now. I was against Fogg from the start but he brings something Matt & Homer don't and thats playoff experience. I also like the way he gets ahead of the count; I've said from the get go that Homer should be in the rotation. However watching pitch twice down in Spring Training, he can't get a head of the count. Its vary alarming you can't walk batters in spring or during the regular season. His stuff his lively as long as he keeps it down, he needs to stop hanging his curve ball when he gets behind the count. I think we can't put him in the bullpen he needs to build up his arm strenth and pitch deep into counts and pitch more then 6 innings.

at 9:50 AM Blogger Redleg city said...

I want to get 2 things off my chest....

1) From what I've heard is that Homer is a very independent type person and he finds it hard to accept criticism from anybody and the the coaches and Homer are finding it hard to get on the same wavelength and work together.
2) When both players and ownership sign contracts,they both should honor it. There is nothing that makes me mad is when a player wants to opt out of his contract and resign for a larger amount because so-and-so got paid higher.Griff's contract ends next year so honor it and quit bitching about it. If I wanted to opt out of my contract at work,what do you think they would say? They would either laugh at me or fire me.They signed the contract,which was good enough then,play it out and when the contract ends either resign or go on to someone who will sign you for the money that you think you are worth.

at 9:58 AM Blogger redsfanwoody said...

Giving a player about a half a year to prove himself in the majors before qualifying him as not a starter I believe is short sighted. He had a pretty good track record in the minors.

It's up to the Reds & Bailey to right the ship. He's 21. Give him a chance. At least give him a year or two

at 11:42 AM Blogger Y-City Jim said...

Biggest difference between Bailey and Cueto?

Bailey has a one walk to two innings ratio while Cueto has a one walk to four inning ration. Cueto has control over all his pitches. We might actually have a pitcher in Cincinnati who can keep his pitch count down.

at 12:11 PM Blogger smtides said...


Bailey is not now and probably never will be suited for the bullpen. Forcing him there does him no good and has the added effect of hurting the Reds.

He needs innings and he needs a development plan. The hitters he's facing don't matter.

at 1:34 PM Blogger Redleg city said...


Could you please comment on if Bailey is too stubborn about him changing a few things about his mechanics and that is what is hurting him ? The coaches and the manager are trying to help him and he is fighting them...

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