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View from the other side: Reds questions for Brandon Kraeling of Red Reporter

MLB: New York Yankees at Cincinnati Reds Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We haven’t done one of these yet this season, and I was slow getting this one together. Anyway, I sent some questions to Brandon Kraeling of Red Report and he was kind enough to answer for me.

Of course, I have to ask about Joey Votto. It seems he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I often find that the best player on a disappointing team gets the blame. Is that the whole story, or is there more going on? He’s got a lot of years left on his contract, is he still a Red at the end of the contract?

I think your theory about the best player on a bad team shouldering most of the blame is spot on. For him though, it’s a little more complicated than that, given that the Reds play in a smaller market, and in turn, a lot of the media and fans have a small-market mentality to match. They see the number attached to Votto’s contract instead of what they’re actually getting on the field, and for a surprisingly high amount of people around here, nothing Joey does will be enough to justify what he’s making. Even when he’s putting up MVP numbers. (We love him at Red Reporter, by the way.)

As for your second question, I sincerely hope he’s a Red for his whole career. He’s repeatedly said that despite the treatment he’s received in the local media here, he likes playing in the city of Cincinnati and gets along with everyone in the organization. The organization doesn’t seem keen on trading him, either. Given his cerebral approach, he’s one of few offensive players who could sustain his productivity even when it should be falling off for him.

Can you give us a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers the Jays are likely to see?

You saw (and demolished) Lisalverto Bonilla on Monday, so I won’t belabor that.

Tuesday’s starter is actually a familiar face on your neck of the woods in Asher Wojciechowski. He was a first round pick for the Jays in 2010, but was traded to Houston before he reached the big leagues. He managed 3 starts with the Astros in 2015, but has spent the rest of that time in AAA. The Reds picked him up at the end of spring training, and he was lights out at AAA for them before coming up to pitch in relief. He picked up his first big league win in a gutty 3 inning performance on May 20, and this will be his first start for the Reds after Amir Garrett hit the DL.

Tim Adleman gets the ball on Wednesday. Unless you religiously follow the Reds, you probably haven’t heard of him, but he’s been quietly solid and durable for a patchwork Reds rotation. He’s in his 2nd season at age 29, and has a pretty cool story in that he was stocking shelves at a grocery store and playing independent ball when the Reds called him in 2014, and he’s been a slowly climbing "organization player” ever since. Nothing he has is overpowering, but he works quickly and when he’s keeping the ball down, can get a lot of ground ball outs. He threw 8 one-hit innings in his last start.

Who is your favorite Red to watch?

Billy Hamilton for sure. There’s nobody even close. Every few weeks he makes a play, either in the outfield or on the bases, that I’ve never seen a human being do before. Scoring from 1st on a single to LF, tagging up from 2nd and scoring on a fly ball, Billy is a reason to drop what I’m doing and watch whenever he’s on the base paths. (It would be great if he was on base more often…).

I know very little about your manager Bryan Price? What do Reds fans think of him? What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Bryan Price was a pitching coach for a long time, who got an opportunity to manage and is finally taking it. His strengths definitely lie with handling pitchers, and we’re finally starting to see more of that this year with some unorthodox but effective approaches. Even though it’s his 4th year in charge of the team, the former GM Walt Jocketty had a lot of say in how the team was managed on the field, and it prevented us from seeing Price’s strategy put into practice.

My only complaint about the guy is that he bunts too much. (Tom: I can understand that one).

Your closer, Raisel Iglesias has a 0.68. Is he really that good? What does he throw?

Raisel is very good! It’s helped that the Reds have went with a committee system for most of the year, so there’s been less pressure on one guy as the “closer”. The Reds’ bullpen has been an interesting experiment, where Price hasn’t been afraid to use any pitcher for multiple innings, and even will bring his better relievers in the early innings if the situation dictates it. Iglesias has been the star there, though.

Unlike most power relievers, Raisel has a huge repertoire since he’s a converted starter. He throws a 4-seam fastball that sits around 96-97, and throws a sinker (mostly to left-handed hitters). His main out pitch is a devastating slider, which is what produces most of his swings and misses, and he has a decent changeup that he mixes in as well.

I’ve been following Jesse Winkler raise through the minors….when is he going to claim a major league job? Is there any other prospect who might have an impact on this season?

Jesse Winker’s a really intriguing guy, and I still kind of have no idea what the Reds will do with him. He’s in his second year at AAA and hitting just like everyone expects him to, but there really isn’t room for him in the Reds outfield right now with Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler hitting the way they are. I think most Reds fans kind of assumed that Winker would take one of those spots by now, but there hasn’t been a spot for him to take. He’s hitting well enough in the minors, though, that we’ll see him at some point this season in a semi-regular role.

As for other prospects, the Reds have already had a ton of pitchers come up, including their most prized guys in Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, Cody Reed, and Robert Stephenson. I think we’ll likely see Dilson Herrera at some point, who’s the main guy they got when they traded Jay Bruce, but other than that, the only guy on the radar would be last year’s 2nd overall pick in Nick Senzel, who’s still in A-ball. I can definitely see them getting aggressive with a promotion there, though.

I always ask NL bloggers: Do you prefer pitchers batting or DHes? Why?

Personally, I go back and forth. Sometimes, pitchers can actually hit and help their own cause by getting an unexpected hit, and I’d hate to see that go away. On the other hand, watching pitchers sacrifice bunt 2-3 times a game is excruciating and hurts the product. So to me, I wouldn’t mind seeing it change either way as long as both leagues can have the same rules