Restoring the rosters: No. 30 – Cincinnati

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I’m kicking off a new series reviewing what all 30 teams would look like if they included only players originally signed by the club. The ground rules:
1. Players are assigned to the team with which they made their professional or U.S. debuts. Japanese and Cuban imports are being included. As far as I can tell, Angel Guzman is the only player considered who signed with a team but never played for them at any level. As a result, he’s listed with the Cubs, rather than the Royals.
2. Officially retired players are ineligible, but players simply out of the league are fair game. That includes players currently in Japan.
There aren’t going to be any scientific rankings here. I’m choosing players based on some combination of 2008-09 performance and 2010 projected value. Injured players are being included if, in my personal opinion, they’re good bets to bounce back. For instance, Tim Hudson will lead Oakland’s rotation, while Jeremy Bonderman gets viewed as a fifth-starter candidate and Mark Mulder won’t be showing up at all.
I’ll be ranking the assembled rosters from No. 30 to No. 1. The plan is to cover two teams per day.
So, let’s jump right in. Two teams earned consideration for the bottom spot, but it was truly an easy choice in the end. Ladies and gentleman, here are your Cincinnati Reds.
Rotation
Johnny Cueto
Homer Bailey
Dustin Moseley
Brett Tomko
Buddy Carlyle
Bullpen
Trevor Hoffman
Todd Coffey
B.J. Ryan
Josh Roenicke
Carlos Fisher
John Koronka
Zach Stewart
The sad thing is that this isn’t even a bump in the road for the Reds. Cueto’s future looks very promising, but before him, they hadn’t developed a legitimate major league starter since Tomko, who debuted in 1997, or a good one since Tom Browning, who arrived in 1984.
The fifth spot came down to Carlyle or Koronka. Koronka has a 6.25 ERA in 30 starts and one relief appearance as a major leaguer, while Carlyle is at 5.58 in 27 starts and 75 relief appearances. Before running either to the mound, I’d want to find out if Jack Armstrong or Scott Scudder feels up to making a comeback.
The bullpen is in slightly better shape with Hoffman, who spent two years as an infielder and two as a pitcher in the Reds system before being plucked by the Marlins in the expansion draft. A rebound from Ryan would go a long way. Rounding out the staff are the two young relievers the Reds surrendered for Scott Rolen last week: Roenicke and Stewart. Sadly, that left no room for Scott Williamson, who has allowed 10 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in the minors this season.
Lineup
CF Chris Dickerson
1B Joey Votto
C Ryan Hanigan
LF Adam Dunn
RF Jay Bruce
2B Aaron Boone
3B Adam Rosales
SS Paul Janish
Bench
OF Chris Denorfia
OF Austin Kearns
C Paul Bako
INF Zach Cozart
INF-OF Todd Frazier
To go along with their two quality pitchers, the Reds also have two above average regulars in Votto and Dunn. Unfortunately, those two, Bruce and Dickerson are all left-handed hitters. For that reason, I’ve slid Hanigan into the third spot in the lineup, which seems like a better choice than batting Boone second. When the Reds face a lefty starter, Denorfia should start over Dickerson in the leadoff spot.
The infield is just brutal, aside from Votto, but there aren’t any alternatives. Even Edwin Encarnacion was originally a Ranger. Cozart gets the utility gig over fellow prospect Chris Valaika. If the Reds actually had this group, they’d likely be concentrating on Frazier as an infielder. He’s played mostly left field in the minors this year. Juan Francisco also provides some hope for the future.
The lone tough call here was whether to go with Bako or Jason LaRue as the backup catcher.
Summary
No other team truly compares. The only thing the Reds have done worse than identifying young talent is developing it. Jim Bowden, who remarkably lasted 10 1/2 seasons as the team’s GM before being fired in July 2003, deserves a lot of the blame, with much of the rest going to those who kept him in power. Particularly given how little depth there is behind this abysmal group, a major league team using this roster would be lucky to win 40 games.

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.