Like Part 1 of this series, this idea spawned from what Justin did a couple of days ago on the Reds future payroll commitments. Today though I wanted to take a look at the pitching staff.
The Starting Rotation
Lets assume that right now (and its not really that big of an assumption) that Harang, Arroyo and Belisle are three-fifths of the Reds starting rotation for at least 2008. Matt Belisle is under control through the 2010 season before he is eligible for Free Agency. Both Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo have contracts through 2010 with options on each for 2011. There is also Edinson Volquez who looks to be a solid bet to also join the rotation but is less locked in than Belisle. Volquez, who was one of the players (and the main player) received for Josh Hamilton, is under contract through 2011. The wild card though is Jeremy Affeldt. He is only under contract for 2008, but is shooting for the rotation after being a bullpen arm for the past few years.
For as much as I like Belisle as a back of the rotation guy (unless he takes Aaron Harang type steps forward) he is going to have to hold off a bunch of strong candidates over the next few years. First there is the cream of the crop in Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto who both will be Reds property for 6 years from at least this season. After that there is a group that could include Matt Maloney, Richie Gardner, Sam Lecure, Travis Wood and Carlos Fisher who all could develop into middle to back of the rotation type starters if not better. Wood has the highest upside of anyone in that group, but is also the furthest away as he is likely to begin the season in Sarasota while the rest of the group has a shot to begin in Louisville, although Chattanooga could be a destination for Lecure or Fisher.
Last season the Reds bullpen was nearly a full run worse than just the Major League average bullpen. Lets assume that the 2008 Bullpen will at least break with Cordero, Weathers and Jared Burton. That leaves up 4 spots in the bullpen for a group full of guys between veterans and prospects. The veterans that could make the bullpen would include Todd Coffey, Mike Stanton, Gary Majewski, Bill Bray and Jeremy Affeldt (if he doesn’t break camp as a part of the rotation, he is likely in the bullpen, leaving just 3 open spots). There is also a group of prospects that will be in spring training with possibilities of leaving Sarasota on a plane back to Cincinnati. Guys such as Jon Coutlangus, Brad Salmon and Marcus McBeth have big league experience, while Tyler Pelland (pictured above), Ramon Ramirez, Sergio Valenzuela and Josh Roenicke all lack the big league experience but may have the stuff and ability to help out.
David Weathers is in his final year of his contract, while Cordero is signed through 2011 with an optional 5th year. Jared Burton is under control through 2012. Those two are the only true options right now, while guys like Coffey, Majewski and Bray will need to prove that they are good enough to be on the roster. The bullpen looks quite unstable moving forward, but it seems that the talent is close even for this year and that doesn’t include guys such as Sean Watson or Pedro Viola who aren’t coming to Spring Training with the Reds this year but have good stuff and project to be valuable to a bullpen one day.