So why has Ryan Madson been so effective?
The answer, as you may know, is his changeup: Last season, Madson got 44 left-handed hitters out with his changeup .... He allowed only two hits and one walk (to Prince Fielder) with the pitch. The article also notes that Madson's change gets 10" of break (very good), generating a lot of swings even though it usually fell outside of the zone. 'mache also marvels at Madson's changeup: This comes in on average at 10 mph slower than Madson’s mid-90s fastball, and last season, induced a 33% swing and miss rate in batters.... Essentially, 1 in every 3 pitches Madson throws is a changeup. 1 in every 3 changeups is a whiff. That’s pretty good. The MLB average FOR CHANGEUPS was around 12% swing-and-miss last year.
For the fluffy, human interest side of the Madson signing, here's a 2011 interview
What do closers do when they're not closing? I rock crawl.... In Southern California, and that’s all we did: Drive trucks and climb hills and rocks. You’ve got a cage surrounding you, and you’re going a mile an hour. If you get into trouble, you just tip over. If you're looking for a more business-y article on how Madson's deal reflects on the closer market, Tom Verducci talks about why teams are paying less for relievers. He also notes that we still don't know whether there will be an extra wildcard in 2012.
The new Ma-sty Boy?
On Friday, the Reds signed to minor league deals a couple of lefty relievers - Ron Mahay and Clay Zavada. The 40-year-old Mahay-Mahay is well-traveled, having pitched for 8 teams in a 14-year career. He owns a 3.83 career ERA (120 ERA+) and rates of 1.7 K/BB and 1.2 HR/9. He spent all of 2011 in the minors. Zavada had a solid 2009 but has spent the past two years in the minors. Walt: "It's more for depth." 2r2d notes that with the signing of Zavada, Sam LeCure has gained a potential mustache buddy and/or rival.
Sheldon looks at what could be the next moves
We've been over the fairly uninspiring list of potential Leftfielders. I'm partial to Kosuke Fukudome, who gets on base and may be able to maintain effectiveness throughout an entire season if he's given enough rest. But the pickings are slim here. Dave Cameron suggests a trade for Seth Smith, which sounds like a good idea but obviously depends on Colorado's willingness.
- How the Reds nearly missed out on Larkin
Hal McCoy talks to Gene Bennett, the Reds' scout responsible for signing Larkin. Even though the team had spent a second-round pick in just three years earlier after Larkin graduated from HS, the team was supposedly not terribly bullish on Larkin. Bennett convinced them to use the Reds' first-round selection (fourth overall in the draft) on their future Shortstop: It was June, 1985 — draft time, a day before the draft. The Reds had Larkin projected as a fifth or sixth round pick and Bennett was astounded. He thought Larkin was a No. 1. Bob Howsam was president/general manager at the time and was in a meeting with all the scouts when Bennett got up and said, "Do you know how foolish we are going to look when we don’t sign Larkin? He’s a hometown guy from right near downtown Cincinnati. Somebody will take him ahead of us and we’ll look stupid when he becomes a star.
- The Blog Red Machine Previews Rolen
Scott Rolen's getting long in the tooth, but the BRM brings up a good points about Scotty Ballgame's triumphant return in '06 following his last shoulder surgery. I'm cautiously optimistic that Rolen has one more good year, with 100-ish starts and a few more PH appearances. They can certainly use his bat and glove to stabilize Thirdbase, as well as his tutelage of the presumptive heir to the hot corner.
- Fay's Twitter chat suffered from a lack of interesting questions,
Unsurprising given the characters he's blocked. But he did tackle the managerial situation beyond 2012: @Chad_Fisher1 Dusty Baker have to get in playoffs this year to be re-signed for ’13? A: Without question. Even if he does, I don’t think it’s a lock he’s back. The Reds didn’t make David Bell the manager at Louisville because they wanted Rick Sweet to work with catchers.
- Reds' scoreboard guy's in limelight
So there's a quiz show on MLBN - Baseball IQ - which features contestants affiliated with teams squaring off head-to-head. The Reds' representative is scoreboard operator Rich Linville, who has written every Scoreboard Stumper since 1991 at GABP and Riverfront. The episodes will start broadcasting on Jan. 24. Go Rich!
- USA Today profiles Trey Griffey and living in Junya's shadow
Trey had an outstanding HS football career and is considered a "sleeper" WR according to Scout.com. He's received scholarship offers from Michigan State, Washington State, Arizona and Iowa State, but hasn't yet decided where he'll play college ball. Trey: "Everybody says I chose football because I couldn't live up to my dad's standards. Let people talk."
- Cardinals engage in WASP-y winter training
While Joey Votto attacks the weight room and Jay Bruce attacks his MMA sparring partners this winter, Matt Holliday and David Freese have taken in a few games of squash. Way to stay hungry, guys.