Mailbag: Such a thing as win-win deal?

Mailbag: Such a thing as win-win deal?

Edinson Volquez is pitching great for the Reds. However, outfielder Josh Hamilton is leading the American League in RBIs with the Rangers. Is a starting pitcher who is only able to have a bearing on the outcome of one out of every four or five games really worth the deal for a potential superstar who would play every day?
-- Terry R., Baghdad, Iraq

This would be considered the ultimate win-win trade, if both sides were actually winning in the standings. I was definitely skeptical at first when the Hamilton-for-Volquez deal was made in December -- but at that point, I had never seen Volquez pitch.

Knowing what I know now, I still make this move if I were running the Reds. Volquez may only pitch once every fifth day, but his five victories give him one-third of the club's 15 wins. How rough would this early part of the season be without him?

Ultimately, teams can't expect to win without quality starting pitching throughout the rotation. That's why it's so coveted, and so hard to get. The Reds had lots and lots of offense (but no pitching) throughout this decade, and they never won. Having top prospect Jay Bruce just around the corner made it easier for the Reds to move Hamilton, who had career-long durability issues among his problems. He's a great guy who had a great April. Now, he has five more months to go.

Is now the time for Bruce? Corey Patterson's .196 average from the leadoff spot is not acceptable. I think the Reds should make the move now before the season gets out of hand. The same can be said for bringing up Homer Bailey based on the performances of Matt Belisle and Josh Fogg.
-- No name provided

It will happen eventually this season, but the Reds should promote Bruce without hesitation. Heading into a doubleheader with Triple-A Louisville on Monday, he was batting .327 with six home runs and 27 RBIs. (As I'm writing this, I noticed that he hit his seventh homer vs. Richmond.) The only red flag has been his strikeout-to-walk ratio (35 strikeouts to nine walks). Calling him up wouldn't be the white flag on the Reds' season. Bruce could add a much-needed jolt to the Reds' lineup.

Bailey (4-3, 3.55 ERA in eight starts at Louisville) was pummeled pretty good in his last outing for the Bats, allowing six earned runs and 11 hits over 4 1/3 innings. But with Belisle not looking good in three of his four starts and Johnny Cueto also struggling, this wouldn't be a bad time to recall Bailey and see what he can do in another go-round.

What is the status of Bobby Livingston?
-- Barry B., Lubbock, Texas

Since Livingston is also from Lubbock, I can understand your interest. The lefty is still at extended spring training in Florida, rehabilitating from his September left shoulder surgery that repaired a torn labrum. He's on a throwing program. He might be able to start pitching in some Minor League games in June.

With catcher Devin Mesoraco staying in extended spring training, do you think that he will start out with Billings or be back in the Gulf Coast League again?
-- Brian L., Lafayette, Ind. (Billings native)

Mesoraco, the Reds' first-round Draft pick last season, was promoted to Class A Dayton last week.

Have a question about the Reds?
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Sometimes players steal bases, but they are not awarded an official stolen base due to fielder indifferences. Can you explain what that means?
-- Scott A., Hanover, N.H.

Basically, it means that no effort was made to hold the runner on base before he took off. The pitcher didn't look to first base before making his pitch. The catcher didn't throw to second base. Here are some of the official parameters listed under Rule 10.07g:

"The scorer shall consider, in judging whether the defensive team has been indifferent to a runner's advance, the totality of the circumstances, including the inning and score of the game, whether the defensive team had held the runner on base, whether the pitcher had made any pickoff attempts on that runner before the runner's advance, whether the fielder ordinarily expected to cover the base to which the runner advanced made a move to cover such base, whether the defensive team had a legitimate strategic motive to not contest the runner's advance or whether the defensive team might be trying impermissibly to deny the runner credit for a stolen base."

I noticed Bruce changed his Louisville Bats jersey from No. 19 to No. 32. In every old picture I see of him through the Minors, he's wearing No. 32. The Reds' first-base coach wore No. 32 last year and this year changed it to No. 22. Are the Reds saving No. 32 for Bruce? Can we all start ordering our Bruce No. 32 jerseys for the kids?
-- Rob K., Louisville, Ky.

I'll never give jersey-buying advice -- too fickle an industry. I'm sure there were optimistic people wearing Brandon Larson, Wily Mo Pena or Ryan Wagner Reds jerseys a few years ago, but I had nothing to do with that. Bruce did wear No. 32 in Spring Training for the Reds, so it's a safe bet he'd get those same digits when eventually promoted to Cincinnati. First-base coach Billy Hatcher switched from No. 32 to 22 during the winter because 22 was the number he wore as a player with the Reds in the early 1990s.

If a starting pitcher goes six innings, allowing three runs or fewer, and is removed, he gets a "quality start." If he stays in the game but gives up more runs in the seventh, is it still considered a "quality start?"
-- Gilbert E., Wheatley, Ky.

Nope. That is why the quality start statistic can often be suspect. A six-inning, three-earned-run start is good for only a 4.50 ERA. Let's say the pitcher goes the distance but gives up four earned runs for a 5-4 win. You're telling me that's not quality? Not only did he get a victory, he saved his club's bullpen in the process. Yet that won't get the man a quality start on the ledger.

Were the Cincinnati Reds established in 1869 or 1882? There is conflicting information out there, such as and, saying the Reds were founded in 1882, while the Reds themselves say they were founded in 1869. If the Reds really were founded in 1882, then why up until the mid-1990s were the Reds given the honor hosting the first Opening Day game every season for being the first team?
-- John C., Las Vegas

The Reds were baseball's first professional team, in 1869, and became an original member of the National League in 1876. However, they split from the NL after the 1880 season over the club's desire to violate a league rule and sell alcohol at games. The Red Stockings joined the American Association for the 1882 season. The league merged with the NL before the 1890 season.

I wrote a story about the American Association era last year, and it can be found here.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.