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February 19, 2009

Team Health Reports

Cincinnati Reds

by Will Carroll

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CINCINNATI REDS
Team Audit | DT Cards | PECOTA Cards | Depth Chart

Head Trainer: Mark Mann
Player Days Lost: 1,083
Total Dollars Lost: $10,560,476
Injury Cost: $21,107,250

Trend: Neutral. The Reds haven't been above average in any of the past five years, but much of that has been a direct result of Ken Griffey Jr.'s presence on the team, as well as their having a tough time keeping pitchers healthy. Last season, despite Griffey not hitting the DL in Cincy, a number of fluke injuries, including two knee fractures to their shortstops, amped up their final tally as far as days lost. There were also a broad spectrum of injuries with no discernible pattern, both traumatic and non-traumatic, to pitchers and players. The team's risk profile is similar to last year's, so Mann and his staff will have to do a better job of staying ahead of the injuries if this team is to have any hope of competing in the division.

The Shape of the Season:

graph

The Big Question: C. Trent Rosecrans from Cincinnati's 1530Homer asks: "If this team is counting on building around defense, shortstop is the key. That makes Alex Gonzalez [the subject of] my big question. He's a better defensive option than Hairston and Keppinger, and also clears Hairston to play more left instead of the Dickerson/Gomes platoon. Is he as key as I think?"

Without getting into the Keppinger side of this, I do believe that Gonzalez is a key part of the team, precisely because his presence gives them more flexibility. Hairston could be the multi-position player that Ryan Freel has been for the team, which is something Dusty Baker likes to have, but has never used effectively. Last year's injury stack at shortstop was as much of a fluke as you'll ever see, but the team's response showed that Baker (and Jocketty to some extent) were having a hard time thinking outside the box when the roster got thin. This team is in similar danger of early injuries to Gonzalez and/or Hairston, both risky players, and the situation could be the pin in their grenade.

Fantasy Tip: Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto aren't exactly Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, though it's easy to make the comparison. Certainly, Volquez and Cueto were in their first year in the majors under Dusty Baker, but remember, Wood had already broken down once before ever meeting Baker. Volquez is older, with his inconsistency making for some shorter outings that end up benefiting his health a bit, though you can hardly call that a positive. (People jokingly say that I think pitchers should be either bad or hurt when they're young, in order to save their arms.) While both come with severe risk, it's not a one-to-one comparison and shouldn't be treated as such. What is the same is the presence of Dusty Baker. We'll have to see how Baker adjusts, and if he might have learned anything along the way.

SS Alex Gonzalez: Red light In addition to the issues addressed in today's Big Question, there's more that we know about Gonzalez. The compression fracture led to July micro-fracture surgery, a procedure that's becoming both more successful and more commonplace in sports. Mark Sheldon tells us that he's out taking grounders, but it's still very early. It's an odd injury and a risky surgery. Doctors and therapists I've spoken with say it's almost a binary injury situation, meaning that if it heals properly, he'll be fine, and if it doesn't, he won't. These are the same kinds of things they said about him last year around this time.

C Ramon Hernandez: Red light I wish I had something more to say about this red, but Hernandez is an aging catcher, and that's the long and the short of the matter.

SP Edinson Volquez: Red light No matter how you look at it, Volquez had a massive increase in his workload last season. What broke down at the end were his legs. That's not a very good sign, but it's not very bad either. He made adjustments throughout the season that allowed him to maintain his effectiveness, and Baker went easy on him to begin the season. He did go over 110 pitches in six of his last ten starts, so Baker's usage will be a major concern for Volquez this year.

SP Johnny Cueto: Red light Unlike Volquez and his legs, it was Cueto's arm that broke down in August. A posterior elbow strain is better than some of the options, but it shows that there is a weak link there, and it's easy to see in his whippy and often inconsistent follow-through. Cueto really lacked efficiency, repeatedly getting to high pitch counts in early innings. Baker has always focused on the 120-pitch mark rather than 100, though as far as I know, he's never explained why. We'll see if those extra pitches hurt the inexperienced starter in his second season; the system says stay away. He's one of the five highest reds this year.

SP Micah Owings: Red light This red is a tough one. Owings was essentially shut down by the Diamondbacks due to some minor soreness in his pitching shoulder, and because of the rules, his getting traded to the Reds dragged into September. The system doesn't know that, and assumes either a minor injury that took longer than expected to heal, or a more serious issue. As a fifth starter who's never established himself, he's risky... but red? I'm not sure. For those wondering, I did take his hitting ability into consideration, but it did not make a significant difference with the way that he's been used.

UT Jerry Hairston: Yellow light Hairston will duel it out with Chris Dickerson for the left-field job, but given his career path and also weighting last season more than usual, there's little reason to believe that Hairston will remain healthy enough to lock down the position. He had hamstring problems last year, which never bodes well for this type of athlete. The injury struggles of his brother don't play a part in this rating, but they do remind us that genetics could be a big factor in all of this.

CF Willy Taveras: Yellow light He broke down repeatedly during the Rockies' miracle season, but he was healthy during their 2008 demise. Coincidence? The Reds could live and die with his OBP, so his health will certainly factor in. His availability last season after a year ended early because of his leg injuries is a big positive in terms of anticipating his future health.

RF Jay Bruce: Yellow light Bruce is a very low yellow here, largely because of his age, and because the Reds' center fielders haven't been able to stay healthy even when their last name isn't Griffey. Bruce isn't a Ryan Freel type by any means, and since he's moving to right field he should be even less risky. I wouldn't hesitate to take him at normal value.

1B Joey Votto Green light

2B Brandon Phillips: Green light Phillips ended his season with a broken hand. That's traumatic, but it tends not to recur.

3B Edwin Encarnacion Green light

OF Chris Dickerson: Green light He's in the mix for the starting job in left field, so the stress fracture and the resulting bone chip in his ankle could be a much bigger deal if he's going to get significant at-bats rather than just filling in. Even a semi-regular platoon role would get him nearer to yellow.

SP Aaron Harang: Green light It's a bit of a surprise to see Harang in the green, but while it's a high green, there are reasons to believe that the system is seeing this accurately. Harang's problems were the result of fatigue, they appeared over an easily defined period, and he was fine before and after that time. Assuming that Harang is rested now and is not pushed to the breaking point again during the season, he's likely to come back to his true level.

SP Bronson Arroyo: Green light There is value in consistency. A pitcher that goes out, takes the ball every fifth day, and goes deep has some value, but you'd rather that be your fifth starter than your second. If Arroyo is behind Cueto and Volquez, or even Micah Owings, he'll still be overpaid and overrated, but he can be useful.

CL Francisco Cordero: Green light He pitched through much of last season with a bone spur in his foot. If the walk rate comes back now that he's had surgery, that's good. That there was no real negative impact on his arm is also good, but that the Reds took that kind of a risk is just stunning.

RP David Weathers Green light

16 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

stepsinsc

In what direction do the modifiers "high" and "low" point for each color? Does "high green" mean close to yellow? (I would have thought it meant "very green", i.e. no risk.) Does "low yellow" mean close to green or close to red?

Feb 19, 2009 09:22 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

There's an underlying number (0-100, though this year's range was 11-74), so "high" means that it was close to the top of that band's range and "low" means close to the bottom of the range. A high green and low yellow might be 2 apart.

Feb 19, 2009 09:51 AM
 
G. Guest

So Visually...

High Red (Highest Risk)
Red
Low Red
High Yellow
Yellow
Low Yellow
High Green
Green
Low Green (Lowest Risk)

Feb 19, 2009 14:41 PM
rating: 1
 
R.A.Wagman

Will - the confusion is that you're mixing your metaphors.
How about adjusting to the following:
Dark Red (most risk)
Red
Light Red
Dark Yellow
Yellow
Bright Yellow
Dark Green
Green
Light Green

Just a suggestion

Feb 19, 2009 19:11 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

No. I'm not complicating this any more than it needs to be. I already get enough complaints about using colors from our colorblind readers.

Feb 20, 2009 07:06 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

I was really referring to your descriptions of the colours, as opposed to the colours themselves.

Feb 20, 2009 08:47 AM
rating: 0
 
SC

What would Keppinger have received? If it goes wrong for Gonzalez, his health becomes pretty important to the team.

Feb 19, 2009 09:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Guessing here is a pretty high yellow.

Feb 19, 2009 09:52 AM
 
Dan

When you say Cueto is one of the 5 highest reds this year, you mean in all of baseball??

Oy!

Feb 19, 2009 09:44 AM
rating: 0
 
Dan

Hey Will, a general question that's related to Volquez and Cueto...

If you were in charge of a team that was out of the race by August (like, say, the 2008 Reds), and you had 2 young promising starting pitchers (like, say, Volquez and Cueto), and you decided your #1 goal for the remainder of the season was to do what was best for the long-term development of those two... how would you handle them the rest of the way?

It pained me to see Cueto and Volquez going out there every 5th day, even in meaningless games in September, and throwing their 100-120 pitches.

Your thoughts on the best way to handle that?

Feb 19, 2009 09:47 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Cueto I probably would have shut down, though interestingly, his average velocity went up. I'm not sure what that means. I'd certainly have thought about it in late August, early Sept.

Volquez I just would have put on a very hard pitch count and found a time or two to skip him in the rotation.

Feb 19, 2009 09:54 AM
 
ElAngelo
(942)

Where would Homer Bailey fit in, if at all?

Feb 19, 2009 10:49 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Gotta give him a chance, but at this stage, I have even less expectations for him than I did two years ago ... and that wasn't much.

Feb 19, 2009 12:19 PM
 
jake29

What are Votto's chances of hitting the 75th percentile this year?

Feb 19, 2009 15:18 PM
rating: 0
 
Glenn B.

As a Reds fan, I'm just glad to see that Stormy projects to be healthy.

Feb 19, 2009 15:18 PM
rating: 0
 
jdseal

I guess you can't list every last player on the roster, but I'm interested in where Norris Hopper would rate. He showed amazing potential for one month in 2007 and hasn't been healthy since, but he's the type who has to be completely healthy to be worth much.

Feb 22, 2009 07:17 AM
rating: 0
 
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