Diving into the depths: Cincinnati Reds

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Cincinnati Reds
Rotation
1. Aaron Harang
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Johnny Cueto
4. Homer Bailey
5. Micah Owings
6. Matt Maloney
7. Justin Lehr
8. Mike Lincoln
9. Aroldis Chapman
10. Travis Wood
11. Sam Lecure
12. Mike Leake
Edinson Volquez won’t be back from Tommy John surgery until midseason at the earlier and might not contribute at all this year.
I think Maloney’s a slightly better choice than Owings for the fifth spot, but the veteran will probably be the favorite going in. I’m guessing the Reds will add to the competition by signing one or two of the remaining free agent options. Noah Lowry would make sense.
Bullpen
1. Francisco Cordero
2. Nick Masset
3. Jared Burton
4. Arthur Rhodes
5. Daniel Ray Herrera
6. Carlos Fisher
7. Bill Bray
8. Micah Owings
9. Mike Lincoln
10. Pedro Viola
11. Enerio Del Rosario
12. Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette
13. Aroldis Chapman
14. Sean Watson
15. Jon Adkins
16. Logan Ondrusek
The bullpen is shaping up as a strength. Burton bounced back as last year went along, and Fisher’s ability to shut down right-handers makes him a nice complement to Rhodes and Herrera in the sixth and seventh innings.
Bray might open the year on the disabled list as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery, but the hope is that he’ll be ready to battle for a spot this spring.


Catcher
1. Ramon Hernandez
2. Ryan Hanigan
3. Corky Miller
First base
1. Joey Votto
2. Ramon Hernandez
3. Yonder Alonso
Second base
1. Brandon Phillips
2. Aaron Miles
3. Drew Sutton
4. Miguel Cairo
5. Paul Janish
6. Todd Frazier
7. Chris Valaika
Third base
1. Scott Rolen
2. Juan Francisco
3. Aaron Miles
4. Drew Sutton
5. Miguel Cairo
6. Todd Frazier
Shortstop
1. Orlando Cabrera
2. Paul Janish
3. Chris Burke
4. Zack Cozart
The depth here is still pretty unimpressive, but maybe Alonso and Francisco will prove ready to step in if Votto and Rolen are forced to miss time again this year. Rolen, at least, seems very likely to serve a DL stint or two. Of course, both of those youngsters will start off in the minors, leaving the Reds with Miles and one from the group of Cairo, Sutton and Janish to occupy utility roles.
Left field
1. Chris Dickerson
2. Wladimir Balentien
3. Laynce Nix
4. Juan Francisco
5. Todd Frazier
Center field
1. Drew Stubbs
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Chris Heisey
4. Josh Anderson
Right field
1. Jay Bruce
2. Wladimir Balentien
3. Laynce Nix
The Reds made noises at the end of last season about forcing Bruce to compete for a job this spring. Since then, though, they’ve subtracted Jonny Gomes and Willy Taveras and added no one, unless Anderson counts. So, Bruce has nothing to worry about. A Dickerson/Balentien platoon could prove surprisingly effective, but it’s still possible the Reds will add more players to that mix. Considering that Francisco, Frazier and Heisey could all factor into the mix later, I think they’re OK sticking with what they have.

Dexter Fowler: “I didn’t say anything wrong.”

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Dexter Fowler #81 poses for a portrait during St Louis Cardinals Photo Day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 20, 2017 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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New Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler was recently asked by ESPN’s Mark Saxon how President Trump’s efforts to institute a travel ban affected him and his family. Fowler’s wife is from Iran and Fowler said that he had reconsidered traveling with his daughter to Iran to visit her family. His wife’s sister also delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar as a result of Trump’s executive order. “It’s huge,” Fowler said. “Especially anytime you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

Fowler’s statement was pretty bland as far as athletes wading into political waters go. He didn’t criticize Trump or conservatives, nor did he espouse support for liberals or Democrats. It was a simple statement that his life had been adversely impacted by an executive order.

The responses to Fowler’s comment were mostly awful. The @BestFansStLouis Twitter account highlighted this, as did Jeff Passan for Yahoo Sports and Will Leitch for Sports on Earth. Fans suggested that Fowler “shut up and play” because “nobody cares” and that Fowler is “property” of the Cardinals. The responses were so negative that Fowler tweeted about it:

Fowler, however, isn’t backing down. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

“I didn’t say anything wrong,” Fowler said. “I think it was taken out of context [by other outlets]. I don’t think people read the article. I think people made their own [headlines]. The question was asked out of empathy to my family, and I appreciate that. If anybody is asking about my family, then I’m going to let them know that, ‘Yeah, obviously it affected my family. My wife is Iranian.’ … I think it’s kind of ignorant of people to just come at me like that and not read the article.”

[…]

“I’m always going to care for my family,” Fowler said. “And if a question is asked out of concern, I’m going to answer the question. And I’m going to answer it truthfully. It’s not to hurt anybody. It’s unfortunate that people think of things that way. I believe they’re sensitive. I’m not the sensitive one. I appreciate the ones that understood.”

Manager Mike Matheny has Fowler’s back. He said, “I think he handled it correctly. He was very clear that he was trying to make a statement about his family [and it] ended up becoming a political statement.”

Tony Clark, executive director of the MLBPA, also expressed support for Fowler:

“Baseball players are a microcosm of society, and I was a grown man before I was a baseball player,” Clark said. “If I have a view, I should be willing to share it, while understanding what I’m a part of and what my responsibilities are. Any player understands that when they take a particular position, it may not be a popular one.

“There may be pushback. That shouldn’t be a reason not to have an opinion. In this instance, it’s a very personal one to Dex. I respect the commentators that responded. I respect their freedom to respond to it.”

Indeed, Fowler had every right to say what he said and it’s good to see that both his manager and the head of the MLBPA support him fully. It would have been easy and politically safe to allow Fowler to hang out to dry.

Report: Extension talks between Mets, Neil Walker are “probably dead”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.

The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.