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Monday Linkage: The Wagon Needs to Strike First

Things to ponder while you ponder things:

Matt York/AP

  • We all know that Edinson Volquez needs to work on his control a bit.  He had the 7th highest walks per 9 IP among qualified pitchers last season.  More importantly though, he may want to improve on throwing first pitch strikes.  He had the second lowest rate for first pitch strikes in baseball last season, behind only Barry Zito (for qualified starters) at 52.6%.  How big of a difference can strike one make?  Batters hit .268/.408/.414 against Volquez last year after a 1-0 count.  When the count starts out 0-1, they hit just .195/.253/.297.
  • John Erardi had a fine article this weekend about the Latin pipeline for the Big Red Machine.  As Erardi points out, it's relevant to look at that link since the Reds are starting to make significant moves in Latin America once again.  This may be the most important development for the future of the franchise that we've seen.  Sure would be nice if Johnny Almaraz was still involved though.
  • I've been pushing defensive improvement a lot this off-season, mainly because I think it's a cheap way for the Reds to improve.  When it comes to evaluating defense, there isn't one perfect system.  Each has it's flaws and shortcomings, but most of them contribute to our knowledge on the subject.   As much as I can, I try to not leave my evaluation to just one system - though that can be difficult since they are all released at different times during the season.  My point in all this babble is that we've got more data to look at as Baseball Musings has released his Probablistic Model of Range numbers for 2008.  Long story short, it doesn't look good for the Reds.  Beyond the Boxscore has converted most of the positions to run values and the Reds are second-to-last at -29 runs.  The good news is that there is room for improvement.
  • We haven't heard much about the Reds in terms of shoring up the bullpen this off-season, but I came across a couple of names that interested me.  First, Bob Howry had a bad year last year, but I think the reason might because he stopped throwing his fastball in favor of his slider.  Given his down year in 2008, he could be had for a one-year deal or a reasonably cheap two-year deal.  The other pitcher is Will Ohman.  Ohman is definitely a LOOGY, so I wouldn't sign him for more than $2.5 million, but the guy shuts down left-handers (.197/.285/.318).  Given that Bill Bray is the only lefty in the pen right now with any real experience, I think Ohman is definitely worth a shot.
  • I've recently added 3 Reds blogs to our blogroll and I figured I should bring attention to them.  It looks like they've all been around for some time, but for some reason I just found them.  RedLegs Baseball has been around since May of 2007, but for some reason I cared not.  He recently put up a cool video of Neftali Soto hitting the ball far.  I think I may have linked to Dunn and Dunner before, but nothing formal.  And lastly, there is OMGReds, who have a super-rad Photo Blog to go along with their site, including pictures from this weekend's Big Red Machine Reunion.  I'm terrible about linking to work from other blogs, so please click the links in the blogroll often to keep up with their work.  And if there is any Reds site out there that I'm missing, drop me a line or put it in the comments and I'll add it.