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.

Dusty Baker drops truth bombs

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Dusty Baker was fired last offseason despite leading the Nationals to 95 and 97-win seasons. This was not new for him. Cincinnati let him go after taking a miserable Reds team to back-to-back 90+ win seasons — three in the space of four years — and making it to the playoffs in his final two seasons. In both cases the team that let him go cratered as soon as he left. There are likely reasons that have nothing to do with Dusty Baker for that, but it seems like more than mere coincidence too.

I say that because every time someone gets to Dusty Baker for an interview, he drops some major truth bombs that make you wonder why anyone wouldn’t want him in charge. Sure, like any manager he has his faults and blind spots — more so in his distant past than in his recent past, I should not — but the guy is smart, has more experience than anyone going and is almost universally loved by his players.

Recently he sat down with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic to talk about life, baseball and everything, and once again the truth bombs were dropping. About the state of front offices today. About the different way black and white ex-managers and ex-players are treated. About what seems to be collusion on the free agent market. And, of course, about the state of the 2018 Nationals, who are likely to miss the playoffs despite being, more or less, the same team he led to those 97 wins last year. It’s an absolute must-read on any of those topics, but taken together it’s a “block off some time this afternoon and enjoy the hell out of it” read.

Two of my favorite passages follow. The first one is a great general point in life: always beware of people who spend more time telling you why they are successful than actually, you know, being successful.

In Cincinnati, no matter what I did or what we did — we brought them from the bottom — they were all over me, all the time, no matter what. If we won, it wasn’t winning the right way. They were like, “I don’t understand this mode of thinking.” Well, I don’t want you to understand my mode of thinking. That’s how I can beat you.

The second one is just delicious for what he does not say:

Rosenthal: Bryce Harper struggled for two-plus months. He didn’t struggle for two-plus months when you had him…

Baker: I know.

Based on the tone of the rest of the interview, in which Baker does not hesitate to say exactly what he thinks, it’s abundantly clear that he believes the Nats have messed Harper up somehow and that it wouldn’t have happened under him.

Like I said, though: there is a TON of great stuff in here. From a guy who, if you’ve listened to him talk when he does not give a crap about what people may say about him, has time and again revealed himself to  be one of the most interesting baseball figures of the past several decades.