Why Cincinnati decided to designate Fisher for assignment when the team brought in unproven relievers Andrew Brackman and Josh Judy is unknown, as is keeping reliever Jordan Smith on the 40-man roster instead.
Brackman does have the advantage of being a former first-round pick back in 2007 with the New York Yankees, yet he is considered a bust prospect by most scouts.
Fisher, who is 28 years old and a 2005 draft pick from Cincinnati, will be entering the season with almost 100 innings under his belt after three years in a Cincinnati uniform. In that time, he obtained a record of 2-5 with a 4.74 ERA. He has had several up-and-down years with the club—as is evidenced by both statistics.
Known for having a high-ground ball rate and a decent sinker, Fisher also strikes out batters at a decent 7.8 K/9 clip. His career WHIP is 1.541, which while respectable, is not all that great. However, the real stat that jumps out in combination with his strikeout rate is his 0.7 HR/9 rate thus far in his career—even having played in Great American Ballpark's small dimensions.
Fisher's ability to keep the ball in the park while striking out batters seems to be something that Cincinnati needs in such a small ballpark, yet the organization chose to keep the slightly younger Jordan Smith on the roster over Fisher. Smith's HR/9 is double that of Fisher and his strikeout rate is also significantly lower.
Perhaps the most shocking comparison is in opponent batting average, where Fisher trounces Smith. Fisher's career opponent batting average is .261, while Smith's is .312—including an atrocious .390 in 2011.
Possibly Cincinnati grew tired of Fisher's accuracy issues, evidenced by a not-so-good walk rate that caused problems in games. Smith has a better strikeout-to-walk ratio, although his WHIP is actually higher than Fisher's because of the sheer amount of hits given up over his two-season MLB career.
With Fisher out of the picture, other relievers may make the active roster out of spring training. Judy is a sinker-baller and could make the bullpen due to this appealing factor, yet he is considered a long shot. Brackman also has a shot at making the team, but is in the same situation as Judy. Of the three, Smith is more likely to make the Opening Day roster. But there will be stiff competition with the likes of Logan Ondrusek and Sam LeCure after the acquisitions of Sean Marshall and Ryan Madson shored up the bullpen.
One thing Cincinnati fans can know for sure, is that they won't be seeing Carlos Fisher in a Reds' uniform again anytime soon. If he accepts an assignment at Louisville, Cincinnati management clearly has given Smith, Judy and Brackman the inside track for a spot in the bullpen over Fisher.