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Restoring the rosters: No. 30 – Cincinnati

Aug 5, 2009, 6:07 PM EDT

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.

  1. Chris - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:35 AM

    It’s hard to disagree.
    But at the same time, it’s also hard to take baseball evaluation seriously from a guy who believes it’s better to bat Ryan Hanigan 3rd than to let lefties hit back-to-back. If Ruth and Gehrig could do it, I think Votto and Dunn could.

  2. CeeKeR - Aug 24, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    Interesting, though I think a better indicator of a team’s ability to develop players might be who came up through their farm system (as opposed to just who they drafted). In other words, how does the Reds drafting someone like Hoffman but letting him go to the Marlins say anything postive about the Reds? In my book, the Marlins should get the “credit” for Hoffman.

  3. DevilsAdvocate - Aug 24, 2009 at 1:42 PM

    Chris: as the article notes, the issue isn’t Votto and Dunn hitting back-to-back, it’s Dickerson and Votto and Dunn and Bruce, all lefties, hitting back-to-back-to-back-to-back. And in the end, the lineup doesn’t matter, the position breakdown is the main thing. And Dusty Baker would just hit the SS second anyway.

  4. Matt Steele - Aug 24, 2009 at 6:12 PM

    Hanigan has a career .363 OBP and it is consistent with his minor league numbers. I might bat him 2nd before Votto but I think he should be up there.
    Ceeker, shouldn’t the Reds get credit for making him into a pitcher? That happened in Cincy yes? haha so that’s a plus

  5. doug - Dec 3, 2009 at 9:10 PM

    any one have a link to the whole list?
    rdsx58@yahoo.com

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  16. chad - May 20, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    Cinncinati has a very strong team this year, the team should do the insanity workout like me, its absolutely insane.

  17. albert - Jun 10, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Awesome! Good to see improvement, however I do think a stronger indicator is a team ability to bring up players through their individual farm system.

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