Bengals vs Johnny Isis

The Bengals are in Cleveland this morning, hopefully in a bad mood. The last time these two ridiculous franchises met was November when the Bengals had their asses kicked. At home. On a Thursday night. Dalton was awful as the offensive line failed to do anything with Cleveland.

Today’s game is a checkpoint for Hue Jackson. He has escaped much criticism from anyone in the Cincinnati media in large part because the Bengals have been in first place in their division most of the year. Today is different; post season appearances may be affirmed or denied. Jackson has had 5 weeks since that Thursday night debacle to fix a few things. In football, you never stay the same. You are either getting better or you are getting worse.

Jeremy Hill has been named the starter over Gio. That’s typical Hue showing his hand. He obviously is going to try to run the ball and do whatever he talked all offseason about doing. Jackson is not an innovator, he reacts. He realizes the Bengals can’t handle all the looks the Browns will give on defense. He realizes he has a very limited QB.

Look for the Bengals to try to pound the ball and improve on the 3 point output from 5 weeks ago.

This game will come down to how well the Bengals play on defense. They were not very good against the last mobile QB they faced in Cam Newton. The Bengals have to tackle.

The television networks have made this the showcase game across the country. It will be televised from coast to coast but only because of Johnny Isis. The bigger the stage the smaller the kitten is the Bengal way. Advantage Browns.

If the Bengals want to win they will hit Manziel. They will hit him whether he has the ball or not. I would expect to see a couple 15 yard penalties out of the Bengals today. At least I’m hoping.

Here’s what the bad guys have to say about today’s game.

The Big Pasta Trade

I didn’t even want to address the trade the Reds made with the Tigers.   Not that Alfredo Simon is untradeable, but its because the 2014 Reds team all to often seemed like a bunch of pushovers. Not Alfredo.  He won me over as a fan when he was the only one on the Reds bench who took serious exception to Tony Rizzo or whatever her name is.  His numbers are probably decieving and he is very likely to be overpaid very soon; but let those without swag cast the first tweet.  Alfredo Simon showed up and threw strikes everytime out.

What did the Reds get in return?  Probably just enough talent to agravate all the teenage girls  who think Zach Cozart is dreamy.  I am speaking of 22 year old shortstop Eugenio Suarez.

The folks up in Detroit aren’t thrilled with trade and that makes me feel better.  Everyone expects Simon to regress.  Well not everyone. There is that and maybe that alone is enough to try to unload him.

Maybe they haven’t seen the Reds play because by all accounts, Suarez could replace Cozart at some point:

Suarez had some spurts of success in 2014, but his overall numbers were not that impressive. Suarez possess a good glove and range, but his glove at times was suspect and his lack of big league experience really showed. Suarez will probably never be an All Star, but could be a nice bench piece for the Reds for years to come.

The Reds have a nice bench piece in Cozart.  Suarez is a player who strikes out twice as many times as he walks and has never hit more than 9 home runs in one season, at any level.

Nevermind, lets move on to the other piece the Reds got for Simon, pitching prospect, Jonathon Crawford.

Crawford was tabbed by several sources as the Tigers number 1 pitching prosepect (i’m not sold on that).  Crawford is another University of Florida pitcher, joining fello Gator, Anthony DeSclafani as new additions to the Reds pitching stable.  I’ve read reports that called Crawford’s performance at A ball “dominating.”  I do not agree.  He walked 50 batters in 123 innings and only struck out 85.  Decent numbers; but the league he pitched in has a few canyons as ball parks.

However you view Crawford, he is still seasons away from contributing.  He is the meat of the Simon deal but I don’t think he can hit or play left field.   The Tigers saw him as expendable because they do have a nice bunch of young arms.  I think one scout sums Crawford up perfectly:

The secondary stuff isn’t necessarily the issue, as far as I’m concerned. The slider is a true wipeout pitch, probably a 7, but I’m more worried about the velocity and the delivery. He’s really, really stiff, and the motion kind of reminds me of Tyson Ross with the short stride.

How will the Reds disapoint us next?  Will it be to bring in another Carmello Martinez?  Whoever it is, they missed out again.  And enjoy your weekend and don’t read this.

Later Latos

With Mat Latos the Reds had a 27 year old pitcher (born December 9) who started 81 games over the last 3 seasons.  Latos provided the Reds 8.6 (exceeding Jon Lester’s production) WAR for a little over $12 million during his time in Cincinnati.

Pros:  At only 27, Latos is in his prime and potentially has several quality seasons left.  He’s a power pitcher who doesn’t give up a lot of home runs.  Up until 2014, he was dependable and solid.  He had 33 wins for the Reds in those 81 starts.  He improved his physical condition when he became a Red, as he was chided on Twiter as “Fat Latos”.  Well, somewhere along the way he became a pitcher and started taking his job seriously.  In 2012, he was 15th in WAR among all MLB pitchers and in 2013 he was 27th. The Reds got ace production out of him for two seasons.

Cons:  Most recently, Latos was sidelined for 85 games in 2014.  He was shut down on September 8 with elbow inflammation. He missed spring training and the first 66 games of the regular season recovering from knee surgery he had in February. But most importantly for the Reds, Latos is going to be a free agent at the end of 2015.   The injuries could just be a temporary stumbling block or it could be a sign of things to come.

In 2013, Baseball Prospectus had this to say about Latos:

“Latos moved from the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in MLB to one of the least, and yet his numbers remained virtually unchanged. Of the 25 homers he allowed, 18 came at home. Of those, all but three came with the bases empty, thus limiting the damage. His overall numbers at GABP were slightly better than on the road. After starting out slowly for his new team, Latos dominated in the second half. He has been worked hard for someone his age, and last year he showed a curious tendency to wear down in the middle innings that hadn’t surfaced before. Assuming the workload doesn’t come back to bite him, Latos should remain at the front of a big-league rotation for the foreseeable future.”

So was the trade a good deal for the Reds or not?

My first thoughts are that the Marlins could get more for Latos next summer in a trade than they gave up to get him.  Jockety has a spotty record when it comes to dealing with pitchers.  Maybe Jockety still feels the pain from the Mark Mulder deal he made in St. Louis.  However, no one seems to miss Edison Volquez around here these days despite his 2014 revival with the Pirates (0-2 vs. Reds in 2014).  Yahoo! Sports says Volquez is seeking $20 million over 2 years.  Maybe Jockety is on to something.

In return for Latos the Reds acquired RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C-R Chad Wallach (Tim Wallach’s son).  DeSciafani is a Manziel like mIdget at 6’1 and Wallach is a light hitting 23 year old minor league A level catcher.

So lets just skip to DeSciafani.  The scary part is that you have to believe the Reds fully expect DeSclafani to compete for a rotation spot.  Otherwise, they just threw Latos away to save money.  So can DeSciafani contribute to the Reds next year? John Fay doesn’t think so but that guy is never right about anything and has more lately just become a megaphone for the Reds front office.

DeSciafani is 24 years and 7 months old today. He pitched in the majors last season for Miami, starting 5 games. The 5 walks in 33 MLB innings shows some control.  Most think he will end up as a reliever and describe him with adjectives such as, “aggressive” and “confident”.  Baseball Prospectus had him listed as Miami’s 6th best prospect.  He was originally drafted by Toronto out of the University of Florida.

Baseball Prospectus had this to say:

DeSclafani is one of those arms that consistently pitches with a high level of confidence in his stuff. He isn’t afraid to come right after and challenge hitters, avoiding spells of nibbling and trying to be too fine. When the stuff is more solid average than well above average, however, there needs to be some element of finesse to avoid working in spots that usually result in ringing contact around the yard. The right-hander ran into this during his call-up in 2014, especially when working as a starter. DeSclafani’s mentality and fastball-slider combo likely slot him into a relief role over the long run, where his heater can play up a tick in short bursts and his aggressive approach fits with getting two or three concentrated outs before handing the ball over to someone else. There is a chance that the 24-year-old can tone things down a bit and get enough out of the changeup to hang as a starter on a second-division team for the early portion of his career. The righty should be in line to log major-league time in 2015, in all likelihood consistently coming out of Miami’s bullpen at some point in the season.

If this is all you get for a top 30 starting pitcher, it must have been completely motivated by the almighty dollar.  That scares that daylights out me.  The Reds are in such a financial boondoggle that they have to just give Latos away?  Why not trade him at the deadline last season, or give him a chance at a comeback and trade him in 2015 if the wheels fall off again?  What am I missing?  Maybe Latos’ health is a bigger deal than we believe.

Don’t even look here.  That Matt Kemp deal will make you sick to be a Reds fan.

Cubs Sign Lester, Reds Remain Flat

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! sports is reporting here that the Cubs have signed John Lester to a deal worth $155 million.  With the addition of Lester, the Cubs have assembled one of the most intersting looking rosters in the NL Central, if not all of baseball.  While Reds fans collectively weep as everyone in their division has gotten better, Walt and Bob sit quietly on their hands wondering what to do about a projected $17 million over budget???

There are couple different schools of thought in circulation concerning the Reds of 2014.  The first school of thought says the Reds need to finally fill gaps in left field and short stop and improve elsewhere (meanwhile not have major dropoffs in other areas) if they are ever going to make a playoff run.  The second school of thought says the Reds have a good core of talent and have stumbled due to injuries.  Of course, the second school of thought is either full of shit or is Walt Jockety.

The signing of Lester and previous moves across the division have the Reds looking more and more like a 4th place contender in 2015.  Whats more disturbing is that almost everyone believes that this is their last best chance to win.  With free agency years looming in 2016 for the better half of the Reds pitching staff, the Reds have to have a plan don’t they?  Don’t they?

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