There weren’t a litany of offseason moves before the 2018 season, as some would have hoped, but the front office made two swings in free agency, and both turned into home runs. I’m talking about Jared Hughes and David Hernandez. The Cincinnati Reds got both of them on cost-effective, two-year deals. Both proved to be well worth the money.
Jared Hughes was the team’s most valuable pitcher, according to bWAR, at 3.3 for the year. In fact, four of the five most valuable pitchers were relievers, with Hernandez being the fourth most valuable at 1.8 bWAR.
Hughes was nails in the late innings, all year, for the Redlegs. He compiled a 1.94 ERA in 78.2 innings pitched with a 1.017 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). He was the man the Reds leaned on in close game situations as he entered the game 28 times in “save situations,” which is the most in any one season of his career. He compiled 15 holds and 7 saves while allowing just 10 of the 40 runners he inherited to score. He even showed his durability, tossing more than one inning 21 times.
Hernandez had an awesome first half of the season, keeping his ERA at 1.87 in 33.2 IP while allowing just one homer. In the second half his ERA came up a bit, due largely to him allowing five homers in 30.1 IP. Overall, though, his season ERA was still a good 2.53, with a sub-1.00 WHIP (0.984), and 15 holds. He kept inherited runners right where they were, all year, allowing just three to cross home while 25 got stranded.
Of relievers who did not start a game, Hughes (78.2) and Hernandez (64.0) ranked first and third in innings pitched. Cincinnati leaned on them to bridge the gap to Raisel Iglesias. It will be interesting to see their stats, this year, as both the Front Office and David Bell have said they aren’t trying to limit Iglesias to the ninth inning. Last season, though, these two relievers were the strength of a bullpen that, for the most part, held things together, despite being overworked.
Looking forward to seeing these guys and others at Redsfest this Friday and Saturday. Come check it out at the Duke Energy Convention Center.
As the clock hit 6:30 pm, last Saturday, I was ready to go to Great American Ballpark. That’s when my wife reminded me that it was December. Every year the Cincinnati Reds put on a first class party for their fans called Redsfest and they’re pretty good at what they do.
I got to meet Michael Lorenzen, Tyler Mahle, Ibandel Isabel, and Jimmy Herget. I got my copy of “The Big 50” signed by Chad Dotson and Chris Garber, made a video with Mo Egger, and talked shop with Doug Gray. Okay, I get it, enough with the name dropping. Basically, it was fun.
I made it a point to ask some light-hearted questions (or in Lorenzen’s case, make a light-hearted, but factual, statement) to see what their reactions would be.
I first met Lorenzen. I told him that he was the real silver slugger and I am attempting to get that other guy to mail him the trophy he deserves. Lorenzen responded with, “Well, that just gives me motivation to hit twice as many homers next year.” Might have to get me a Lorenzen jersey…
I then got Mahle’s John Hancock (or is it Herbie Hancock?) on a baseball and I asked him if we can expec upwards of three, or more, 20-strikeout games this year. He replied “Let’s hope so. I’ll see what I can do.” Hope you folks in the bleachers with K’s are ready to work, this season.
I then got autographs from Isabel and Herget. Isabel just gave me an awkward smile and a chuckle when I asked if he will focus on inside-the-parkers this year instead of traditional homers, since he’s already hit a lot of those. Herget gave me a classic answer to my simple question of what his favorite pitch was when he said, “A strike.” Well played Jimmy.
The main stage offerings were also enjoyable. The best was at the kids-only press conference. Joey Votto, Amir Garrett, and Eugenio Suarez were on stage for the show, and when asked what their favorite memory of 2018 will be, Joey decided it was “When Amir tried to fight the Cubs.” Suarez bumped in, “Yeah, when he struck out Baez and stared him down. That was awesome, man!” As much as we fans may have liked that moment, it seems to have been even cooler to the team.
Memorabilia-wise, there was a ton of stuff to get. I didn’t go too crazy, this year, but I did end up with a new hat that has a Jackie Robinson 42 patch on it. Definitely my favorite hat, now. All in all, a good weekend.
If you went, let me know how your experience went!
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Live (Sorta) from Redsfest with Mo Egger
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Instant Reaction: Bye, Bye Billy
Wow! It’s the first hour of Redsfest and there are fireworks, already! The world’s fastest man (probably), Billy Hamilton, was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds making him a free agent. I have a few instant thoughts on this.
Firstly, I am bummed. I watched his career develop in the minors all the way up til he got the call to the Bigs. He looked like a star in the making in Pensacola, but what we now know is that he was defensively gifted and offensively challenged. He will go down, in my book, as the foremost example of “You can’t steal first.” I hope that his next step (if he doesn’t return, that is, but more on that in a second) he finds that missing piece and becomes a star.
Nextly, where do the Reds go from here? The encouragement is that we know Bob Castellini loved Billy and wanted him to be here forever and ever. That means the front office has definitely, officially been handed the reigns. If that’s the case, maybe we see Nick Senzel brought up and given the CF job, or Jose Peraza move to CF (he has a few minutes of experience there) and Senzel put in at shortstop. Those possibilities excite me. Whatever gets Senzel in the lineup is the right course of action, to me.
Lastly, maybe this is a little Michael Johnson maneuvering? For those who don’t follow the other professional franchise in Cincinnati, the Bengals made a move, right before the season, where they cut one of their longtime veterans only to resign him a few days later. They made the move to get some young guys onto the practice squad, but I digress. What if the Reds and Billy have a little head nod and handshake agreement that they will sign him for a year or two at his current rate, avoiding the arbitration-hike in salary he was about to get? This is purely a hypothetical notion by me, by the way, and I don’t know if they can do that, or if Billy would want it that way. Just a thought from a fan who can never truly be unbiased when it comes to Cool Papa Bill.
Anyway, I am sure there will be more to come from Redsfest!
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