2014 Reds / Reds - General

What’s next? The Reds 2014 Outlook

It was another disappointing season end for the Cincinnati Reds, and it didn’t come without consequences. After losing in the wild card game to the Pirates, Dusty Baker was fired, and that could be just the first move. The front office was extremely disappointed in this team. It’s never too early to look toward next season….we have been doing that for quite some time here in Cincinnati. Here is the outlook.

The Manager

The only confirmed candidates so far are pitching coach Bryan Price and AAA-Louisville manager Jim Riggleman. I think Price is the frontrunner, and would probably be the best choice (without knowing exactly who all the candidates are). Price has worked wonders for the pitching staff, has the trust of his team, reportedly holds his players accountable, and also reportedly wants Aroldis Chapman to be a starter or at least extend his innings further.

While Riggleman might be able to bring the fire and accountability we want out of the Reds next manager, he would likely be about as old school as Dusty Baker. I found this nugget from Riggleman in 2012:

“A walk, a stolen base, a sac bunt, and a sac fly. You call it small ball, I call it smart ball.” – Riggleman #oldMASNcommercials

— Tim S. (@jorgath) June 22, 2012

I got confirmation from the source that Riggleman actually said that in a commercial. Yikes.

Players Under Control for 2014 (all contract information via Baseball-Reference)

Position Players (money owed in 2014):

Joey Votto ($12 million)
Brandon Phillips ($11 million)
Jay Bruce ($10 million)
Ryan Ludwick ($8.5 million)
Jack Hannahan ($1 million)
Ryan Hanigan (Arbitration 3)
Chris Heisey (Arbitration 2)
Xavier Paul (Arbitration 1)
Zack Cozart (Pre-Arbitration 3)
Todd Frazier (Pre-Arbitration 3)
Devin Mesoraco (Pre-Arbitration 3)

Pitchers (money owed in 2014):

Johnny Cueto ($10 million)
Mat Latos ($7.25 million)
Jonathan Broxton ($7 million)
Sean Marshall ($5.5 million)
Aroldis Chapman ($3 million)
Logan Ondrusek ($1.35 million)
Homer Bailey (Arbitration 3)
Mike Leake (Arbitration 2)
Alfredo Simon (Arbitration 2)
Sam LeCure (Arbitration 1)
J.J. Hoover (Pre-Arbitration 2)

Other players under control in 2014:

Corky Miller
Greg Reynolds
Henry Rodriguez
Tony Cingrani
Nick Christiani
Billy Hamilton
Donald Lutz
Curtis Partch
Derrick Robinson
Neftali Soto

Free Agents

Bronson Arroyo
Shin-Soo Choo
Nick Masset
Manny Parra
Cesar Izturis
Zack Duke

Projected 2014 Lineup (as of right now)

1. Billy Hamilton CF
2. Brandon Phillips 2B
3. Joey Votto 1B
4. Jay Bruce RF
5. Ryan Ludwick LF
6. Todd Frazier 3B
7. Zack Cozart SS
8. Devin Mesoraco C

Bench: Jack Hannahan, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul, Derrick Robinson

Organizational Depth Chart

LF – Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul, Derrick Robinson, Donald Lutz
CF – Billy Hamilton, Chris Heisey, Derrick Robinson
RF – Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul, Derrick Robinson, Donald Lutz
3B – Todd Frazier, Jack Hannahan, Neftali Soto, Henry Rodriguez
SS – Zack Cozart, Henry Rodriguez
2B – Brandon Phillips, Henry Rodriguez
1B – Joey Votto, Jack Hannahan, Neftali Soto, Donald Lutz
C – Devin Mesoraco, Ryan Hanigan, Corky Miller

Projected 2013 Starting Rotation

(without Chapman)

1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mat Latos
3. Homer Bailey
4. Mike Leake
5. Tony Cingrani

Depth: Greg Reynolds

(with Chapman)

1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mat Latos
3. Homer Bailey
4. Aroldis Chapman
5. Mike Leake

Depth: Tony Cingrani, Greg Reynolds

Projected 2013 Bullpen

(with Chapman)

Closer: Aroldis Chapman
Setup: Jonathan Broxton
Setup: Sean Marshall
Middle: Sam LeCure
Middle: J.J. Hoover
Middle: Logan Ondrusek
Long: Alfredo Simon

Depth: Curtis Partch, Nick Christiani, Greg Reynolds

(without Chapman)

Closer: Jonathan Broxton
Setup: Sean Marshall
Setup: Sam LeCure
Middle: J.J. Hoover
Middle: Logan Ondrusek
Middle: Alfredo Simon
Long: Curtis Partch

Depth: Nick Christiani, Greg Reynolds

My Advice

The Reds should do whatever they can to re-sign Shin-Soo Choo. It’s not going to be easy, but the Reds will desperately need his .423 OBP in 2014. Choo was responsible for 31% of the Reds offensive production in 2013 if you believe in offensive WAR (6.3 of the teams 20.1 oWAR). That is a lot of production to lose.

Don’t sign Bronson Arroyo. I love Bronson, absolutely love Bronson. He has been an absolute class act, and a great pitcher for the Reds. He is a sure-fire Reds hall of famer, and he probably deserves a big two-year contract from the Reds. Arroyo was very good in 2013, but you’re playing with fire. Arroyo is 36 years old, and must be close to a major decline.

Move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation. Yes, we have been saying this every offseason since 2010, but it has to happen. The Reds have a good bullpen, and if the wild card game proved anything, the Reds need a dominant starter. Plus, assuming the Reds don’t re-sign Arroyo (which I don’t think they will), the Reds have no depth past their five penciled-in starters (Bailey, Latos, Leake, Cingrani, Cueto). Both Cueto and Cingrani have struggled with injuries. It wouldn’t be prudent to bank on those five starters all staying healthy.

Try to trade Brandon Phillips. I’m sure that I just arrived on many Reds fans hate list, but it’s time to part ways. Phillips offensive skills are declining rapidly. Phillips had career lows with the Reds in OBP (.310), SLG (.396), OPS (.706), SB (5). Phillips -0.4 WAA, 1.6 WAR, 1.6 oWAR, 0.4 dWAR, 71 Runs Created, and 92 OPS+ are all his lowest since 2006. If you put stats aside, he has become a distraction with his antics. He embarrassed himself and his team with his actions towards C. Trent, among others. It’s time to part ways.

If the Reds can move Phillips, they could save a lot of money that might allow them to re-sign Choo. His defense would be a loss, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find another second baseman that can put up .261/.310/.396.

Two of the Reds more pressing needs in the offseason will be a back up middle infielder, and a left handed reliever (if they can’t re-sign Parra). The Reds should target an offensive middle infielder, not another Cesar Izturis. The reason for this is that you’re not going to bring in a guy like Izturis as a late-inning defensive replacement because Cozart and Phillips are good defensively. Have a guy you can use to pinch hit.

The Outlook

The Reds will still have a lot of talent in 2014. If their pitching stays healthy, they will certainly be one of the better teams in the NL. The Reds, however, will either need major improvements offensively, or need to add some offense.

The rotation will have a chance to be the absolute best in MLB. If they can get full seasons out of Cueto and Cingrani, in addition to Bailey, Latos, and Leake having similar seasons to 2013…that would be something to watch.

The Reds will need Frazier, Cozart, and Mesoraco to take the next step. All three did show signs of potentially breaking out, but still have work to do. Frazier hit 9 HR the last month and a half of the season, and looked really good in the wild card game. Cozart hit .311/.338/.447 over the last 40 days of the season. Mesoraco had a great stretch to start the second half, had some big hits, and did hit 9 HR in 2013.

Oh, and that Joey Votto guy. He will actually get a chance to work out this offseason (he didn’t last year because of his knee injury). Votto was great in 2013, expect him to be extraordinary in 2014.

133 thoughts on “What’s next? The Reds 2014 Outlook

  1. Nice breakdown.

    While I’ve been saying More Choo all year, it’s also the case there are other OF available on the free agent market that would be a significant upgrade for the Reds. Those alternatives to Choo might be considerably cheaper and not as much of a risk three or four years out. Whether that’s a CF or LF depends on how the organization evaluates Billy Hamilton’s readiness to play CF right away.

    I’d also add Mike Leake to your trade wish list. If the Reds can promote Chapman, we’d see Latos/Bailey/Chapman/Cingrani/Cueto as the start of the season. That’s the kind of rotation that can win a tough NL Central division next year.

  2. I think Phillips would be a good fit for the Yankees if they cannot reach some sort of deal with Cano. BP’s contract is much more manageable than the $300million+ that Cano is asking for.

    • @jessecuster44: The figure that has been kicked around as a qualifying offer for Arroyo is $14-million. If the Reds make a qualifying offer in that range, it would be in Arroyo’s best interest to go ahead and take it. He could then repeat the same process next offseason. If he signs a 2-year deal, I’m expecting it to be in the $22-25-million range. He may have to work to get that too. The safe bet would be to take the qualifying offer if the Reds offer it.

  3. Good stuff. One nit: I suspect that Corky is a free agent. No way he’s under team control after 37 years in pro ball.

  4. While interesting, I think trading BP might be a PR nightmare. I’m not saying that it doesn’t make some kind of sense – BP’s skills are diminishing, and he did himself no favors by the whole C Trent thing, his less-than-stellar second half, and the article in Cincinnati Magazine about his salary.

    However, he is very popular, and perhaps in a racially polarized town like Cincy, trading your most prominent african-american player after you have fired your african-american manager wouldn’t be such a good idea.

    I hope what I’m positing doesn’t rub anyone the wrong way – if it does, delete the comment. I just wonder if this idea might play into the front office’s thinking.

    • @jessecuster44: There are baseball reasons for not trading Phillips.

      If strength on defense starts up the middle, consider the following.

      Center field is an unknown (Choo would be average to less than average defensively. Hamilton would run down a lot of balls some other guys wouldn’t based on sheer speed; but, in only his second year as an OF and lacking familiarity with the parks he would be playing in he would also fall short on plays other guys would make and on the whole be no better than average).

      Cozart has shown he is solid but hardly outstanding. He lacks the athleticism to elevate his game much more. Mentally is too often (literally) caught standing watching a play he did not anticipate.

      Mesoraco is still largely a question mark; and if a person wants to talk age related decline on the Rdds team, start with Hanigan

      Thus to anchor their middle defense and maximize the gain from their excellent pitching, BP is essential for the Reds unless they bring in somebody who will be a better defender next year than he is.

      • @OhioJim: True. However, at what point do you think BP’s antics @OhioJim: Totally agree with strength up the middle. If BP’s glove remains strong, trading him appears foolish – unless you can get a younger glove with more upside.

  5. I do not think it is impossible to think of Corky Miller as a coach on this team. I would think it is quite possible that the Reds will offer Arroyo, but Arroyo goes elsewhere for more money. I just don’t think that Jocketty would put himself in position to not get a draft pick. I am also wondering if the Reds have been told to not make a lot of noise until after the playoffs so that the news is from the games. It could also be that some of the people being considered for manager and coaching staff are still in the playoffs and nothing can really be done until that individual’s season is over.

  6. Is till think this old school obsession is silly. Baker was not just old school, he was a nut. You can’t tell me any old school manager that would do the baffling things Dusty did continually.

    I know I may jinx them as the game isn’t over, but Jim Leyland is about to win another post season series, and new school darling Joe Maddon is sitting at home again (let payroll excuses.

    I agree about Phillips, his antics seem to have become a distraction, if the new manager can’t reel him in, maybe a trade is in order. He drove in over 100 runs, so I am not worried about his offense.

    • @Bubba Ho-Tep: I think a lot of folks have taken up the mantra of bashing “old school” because if you don’t, you’re considered “flat earth” or something like that. It’s as if old school = failure. Truthfully, it’s about the team. If you play better, you will win. Mention RBI and get roasted because it’s an “irrelevant team stat.” But, it’s sort of how you score RUNS, which is the objective.

      • @Bubba Ho-Tep: I think a lot of folks have taken up the mantra of bashing “old school” because if you don’t, you’re considered “flat earth” or something like that. It’s as if old school = failure. Truthfully, it’s about the team. If you play better, you will win. Mention RBI and get roasted because it’s an “irrelevant team stat.” But, it’s sort of how you score RUNS, which is the objective.

        Here we go again. A league average player would have drove in 100 runs behind Votto and Choo. How do I know this? A league average player drove in 100 runs. League average: .253/.318/.396. BP: .261/.310/.396.

      • @Johnu1: The problem with RBIs is that it is often cited as an individual statistic, which completely takes away from the guys who got on base to let it happen. Yes, RBIs are a good thing, just like OBP is. The difference between the two is that OBP is an individual statistic purely relying on skill (and a bit of skill-influenced luck in getting hit), while RBIs are heavily influenced by other players ability to get on base. Granted, you could have a guy hit 100 HRs and get 100 RBIs that way, but that’s an entirely different argument.

        In the end, runs are the most important stat, and it is OBP that influences the chances that a run might score more than a player’s RBI totals do.

        • @rhayex: OBP, taken alone, is a largely individual stat, yes, but its value in winning games is not individual at all. You get on base every time, and nobody drives you in, and you have a gaudy OBP and are playing for a losing team. RBI is not, of course, a completely individual stat, but you don’t amass RBI by doing nothing, even with Votto and Choo batting ahead of you. You have to produce. Phillips may have been league average, but I suspect that his average with RISP was considerably above league average. New stats clearly reveal skills that old stats don’t, but this does not render old stats irrelevant: the BRM was a team built on old stats, likewise the ’27 Yankees. Yes, those players would have looked good when analyzed with new stats, but they also looked good through the lens of old stats. I agree that runs are the most important stat, and will take your word for the correspondence of OBP and runs, but will point out that most runs, by far, result from RBI. Again, you don’t drive ‘em in if you don’t do something right.

        • @greenmtred: I should add that, while OBP evidently is very predictive of runs, EVERY TIME there is an RBI, it results in a run. Obviously, runners must be on base ahead of you in order for you to drive them in (solo homers excepted), but if you are on base and nobody drives you in, there are no runs. I know that this is exhausting, but I suspect that a phenomenon known to social historians may be in play: new technologies and methods have, historically, been overused and, thus, misapplied, initially. You new stats guys have my respect and admiration, but in some cases you seem to have allowed zealotry to back you into an absurd corner–the corner where you insist that getting on base is all that matters. You know better, and I expect that I am not representing your thinking well, but that is what it sounds like. As an aside, has anybody verified that teams employing new stats strategically (not just for player evaluation) are consistently more successful than those who don’t? I ask because my impression is that the Red Sox, an early proponent of new stats, bunt and steal pretty frequently.

      • @Johnu1: Exactly, until the day that they add a OB to the box score, and the team with the highest OB wins, you have to drive them in to win.

        • @Johnu1: Exactly, until the day that they add a OB to the box score, and the team with the highest OB wins, you have to drive them in to win.

          If you don’t get on base no one can drive you in.

    • Is till think this old school obsession is silly. Baker was not just old school, he was a nut. You can’t tell me any old school manager that would do the baffling things Dusty did continually.

      I know I may jinx them as the game isn’t over, but Jim Leyland is about to win another post season series, and new school darling Joe Maddon is sitting at home again (let payroll excuses.

      I agree about Phillips, his antics seem to have become a distraction, if the new manager can’t reel him in, maybe a trade is in order. He drove in over 100 runs, so I am not worried about his offense.

      Detroit: $150 million
      Tampa: $57 million

  7. Sign Alexander Guerrero. Sign Rafael Furcal (if cheap enough) Resign Choo and Parra. Hire Bryan Price as the manager. Hire a well established and well respected hitting coach. Move Chapman into the rotation. Gage trade interest in BP, Bailey and Leake.

    I would call the Tigers and offer BP for Castellanos and Rondon. If need be, I would add Soto and Corcino.

    Also look into David Freese and Corey Hart has FA signings. The Reds missed the boat on signing guys like Cespedes and Puig. We need new influx on talent and energy, both would have been perfect in GABP. Sign Guerrero either way.

  8. Not sure if this has been mentioned anywhere but there is an article by Sheldon at the Reds site about Paul O’Neill having interest in the managers job. It is an ntriguing idea. I’d like to know what he thinks about things but my first impressions are I think it could be a good choice.

    • @HOF-13: Paul ONeil was my favorite member of the 1990 team. I was 10 years old and I literally cried when he signed with the Yankees. I remember my dad telling me “Some teams have all the money and they steal everyone’s best players. You can the those teams.” Lesson learned.

      That being said, I have absolutely no reason to believe Paul ONeil would be a good ML manager. That would be a move about selling tickets, not winning a championship. Ditto for Barry Larkin.

      • @eric nyc: Actually he wasn’t taken away as a FA. He was traded for Roberto Kelly. It’s not like Kelly was bad with the Reds. He posted an 111 OPS+ in about 500 PA over two years. It’s just that O’Neil had such a nice career in pinstripes.

  9. Oh please…BPs antics? The blowup with Trent was unfortunate but it was also the first time in his career that anything like that had happened. This isn’t Chad Johnson we’re talking about. BP has consistently been one of the best clubhouse presences on this team since he got here. You didn’t like the Cincy Magazine article. He was just being honest. Tell me about one more of his “antics” that caused this team to lose a game?

    Yes, he had a down year offensively. And yes, if you chart his last few years there is a numerical trend. In my opinion it’s still an abboration. He showed in the first half of the year that he has plenty left in the tank offensively. Nothing about his physical tools have declined. He’s not SO old that he suddenly can’t get the bat around fast enough – his dexterity is clearly fine as evidenced by his fielding. I think he had a bad year on the tail of a marginally bad 2012. I’d bet he’s due for a correction in 2014 just like Joey. And it doesn’t matter because they didn’t sign him to that extension just to trade him a year later because of a knee jerk reaction. He’s one of the anchors of this team.

    This is the second time I can remember this benign suggested on this site. I thought it was absurd the first time and now that it has some context I think it’s more absurd. My advice? Let it go now. It’s NEVER going to happen and you’re going to create some nasty arguments around here.

    • @eric nyc:

      I agree in part, trading him just for the mag article and his tirade would be short-sighted.

      If they felt he truly was in decline, thats a different matter, but they have to be careful. Many people on reds blogs thought Bronson was cooked after 2011, and he’s had two solid years since…Brandon could very easily have a good year next year. I don’t envy WJ on this decision.

      • @Lost and Found: Walt might not be Dusty, but he’s pretty old school. BP had over 100 RBI’s and almost 20 HR’s all while playing Gold Glove defense. I would say there is roughly a 0% chance that Walt feels BP is in decline. And he is one of the faces of the franchise who brings people to games. That signing was a joint decision between Walt and Castellini and I still think it was a smart one. No matter who they bring in as manager, there is no chance that they will sway from that decision. I’m really shocked that the subject is even coming up around here.

        • @Sultan of Swaff:

          A league average player drove in 100 runs. League average: .253/.318/.396. BP: .261/.310/.396.

          A league average player could have drove in 100 runs behind Choo and Votto. League average: .253/.318/.396. BP: .261/.310/.396.

        • @Kurt Frost: Again, BP had a very bad second half of the season. What I’m saying is that in Walt’s mind, there is no way he looks at BP’s production this year and concludes he’s in decline. You may disagree. Personally, I don’t. I understand that “RBI” is a bad word around these parts, but the fact of the matter is BP was a major contributing factor to this offense this year. And I would certainly think Walt would believe that. Which means there is NO chance he’s going to be traded barring some crazy offer that I can’t imagine anyone would make given his age and the money owed him. As Lost and Found said, you’d only look to move him if management really thought he was in decline and I don’t believe for a second this management thinks that.

        • @Kurt Frost: Again, BP had a very bad second half of the season. What I’m saying is that in Walt’s mind, there is no way he looks at BP’s production this year and concludes he’s in decline. You may disagree. Personally, I don’t. I understand that “RBI” is a bad word around these parts, but the fact of the matter is BP was a major contributing factor to this offense this year. And I would certainly think Walt would believe that. Which means there is NO chance he’s going to be traded barring some crazy offer that I can’t imagine anyone would make given his age and the money owed him. As Lost and Found said, you’d only look to move him if management really thought he was in decline and I don’t believe for a second this management thinks that.

          If they can’t see he is in decline then they are part of the problem.

        • @Kurt Frost: If you think he is so CLEARLY and DEFINITELY in decline, how on earth do you think they’d be able to trade him?

        • @Kurt Frost: If you think he is so CLEARLY and DEFINITELY in decline, how on earth do you think they’d be able to trade him?

          I’m hoping GM’s say ohhhhhh 100 RBI and don’t look at his career trajectory.

        • @eric nyc: Different teams have different objectives, different pay rolls, and different thoughts on the type of players they want. BP’s AVG/OBP/SLG have declined two years in a row. I’d say that’s declining. Remember the definition of a recession for the economy? Two straight quarters of negative GDP growth. I’d say two straight seasons of triple-slash decreases constitutes a decline.

        • @Kurt Frost: Also, I have yet to see a defensive metric statistic that accurately values how much BP is worth in the field. If it were up to me, I’d tack on an extra 1-1.5 WAR onto him just based on his glove. He’s that special of a defensive player. He’s a valuable member of this team, even if he might be overpaid. But not by much, and that money is basically sunk.

        • @eric nyc: Which defensive metrics do you think have problems with BP? Essentially, defense is about getting guys out, which saves runs, right? So DRS has an actual trained human being watch every single play that each player makes or doesn’t make in the field and decides whether or not an average fielder would have made the play or not. Basically, you get no points for making a routine play, you increase your points based on great plays that fewer folks would make, and you get points subtracted for not making plays that most folks would make. Then they turn that into “runs saved.” BP has 1 DRS this year

          Take, for example, some of the plays that Phillips made running toward CF or RF over the shoulder. Those may not even count since he was just taking an out away from an “average” outfielder. And he had one over-the-shoulder play when he didn’t catch the ball and likely Choo would have if BP had given way.

          I think BP is flashy, and definitely good, but he’s not unprecedented or anything. When taking all the stats as a whole and weighing them, BP turns out to be the 4th best defensive 2B in MLB, behind Barney, Pedroia, and Zobrist. Agree or disagree, the stats say he is VERY GOOD. But not the best (at least this year).

          And even if you don’t think they measure if value accurately, they DO measure his value relative to his peers accurately. If they are all based on the same scale, the rack-and-stack makes sense. Perhaps they undervalue BP, but that means they also undervalue Barney, Pedroia, and Zobrist.

        • @prjeter: @eric nyc: I don’t know whether they’d trade BP or not, but agree with you that it would probably be a mistake. As you say, his offense before the HBP was nearly carrying the team, and I think that many people mistakenly believe that his defense would be easily replaced. He’s still a great fielder, and that is particularly important for teams that depend on as much on pitching as do the Reds.

        • @prjeter: does the same”actual trained (how and by who?)human being” evaluate every play of every second baseman? He’d be a marvel to watch, particularly when he does that trick of being in 16 places at the same time. Of course, it must be different people who evaluate different players and as a result, the judgments that they make are, by definition, subjective. The eyeball test, in other words. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion, but not endowed with the thundering, argument-ending, unassailable statistical certainty that many here believe advanced metrics to have. Evaluating defense is, by the nature of the beast, subjective to some important degree. Offense, too, maybe, though to say such a thing is to invite burning effigies.

        • @greenmtred: I agree. Most advanced defensive metrics are subjective. I never said they weren’t. However, you don’t need to be 16 places at once. Thankfully, modern technology has given us digital video files. I don’t know how many employees BIS employs, but they grade players on the same methodology, which is at least some amount better than a sheet “eyeball test.” And besides, taking the word of any single fan (even myself) aobut their own player is completely ridiculous.

          I watched BP play 120+ games this year. I probably saw Barney, Zobrist, and Pedroia in a combined 15 games. There’s no way for me to objectively say BP is better, worse, or equal to these other 2nd basemen based on my observation. I simply don’t have the viewpoint. So, stats give me some way to do it w/o bias. Maybe they are flawed (i agree, they are), but they are a BASIS for a fair comparison between players based on the same methodology.

          And face it, if you say BP is better than those three guys without having watched them for the whole season like you wathced BP, I don’t know what to do…

        • @prjeter: Thank you for the clarification. And, no, I didn’t watch the other guys and, no, I can’t say that I know that BP is a better fielder. I do know that he is awfully good, though.

        • @Kurt Frost: You’ve failed to consider the fact that the league average player didn’t have an OPS of .873 with RISP. A league average player given the identical opportunities would have driven in fewer runs than BP in 2013. This holds true regardless of how you feel about RISP stats, so no need to reopen the skill vs luck debate.

        • @GeorgeFoster: I think where I am on this … if a manager says RBI is a good thing, why do we automaticallly shut the door in his face and call him ‘old school’ just because he didn’t mention BABIP or OPS in the same breath? RBI is a stat that people relate to, regardless of its value. I guess I am just a bit bewildered at the “ew get away from me” mentality of the folks who just label people. A modern manager who doesn’t understand the relative values of ballplayers isn’t likely to even be interested in managing. These guys don’t live in a monastery.

        • @Johnu1: I feel you. I really do. And while I don’t know what particular mentioned of RBIs to which you are referring the RBI stat has become something of a symbol to us regarding those who reject anything new that can help a team better evaluate its players. They place value on stats that say little while ignoring stats that provide a better picture. They continue to teach baseball in a way that hurts a player’s development and make in-game decisions that hurt their team’s chances of winning. And there they stand, defiantly reminding us all they know best because they played with Hank Aaron. Labels or not, it’s madness.

        • @TC: hard to imagine how good Aaron, Mays, Williams, Ruth, Mantle, et al would have been with the benefits of this sublime new enlightenment.

        • @Johnu1: I think you guys are giving us “RBI Haters” an unfair shake.

          I LOVE RBIs. I want every Red to have 200 every season. More are better then less. I wish Votto had 100 rather than whatever he finished at.

          Take this example: Billy Hamilton leads off with a single. Steals second. Steals third. Joey Votto grounds out. Hamilton scores. 1-0 Reds.

          Who had a bigger part in that run scoring? If you say anything other than Hamilton then your position is indefensible.

          I LOVE that the RBI occured, but the point most of us “RBI Haters” are trying to make is that RBIs are in NO WAY a good measure of a player’s performance.

        • @prjeter: Well chosen example and, of course I agree with you. Hamilton gets credit for the stolen bases and the run, Votto gets credit for the RBI. Both were necessary for the run to score (or something). Both matter, and as an old school guy, sort of, I actually don’t value RBI more than runs, stolen bases, walks, etc. They all are part of the picture.

        • @Kurt Frost:You’ve failed to consider the fact that the league average player didn’t have an OPS of .873 with RISP.A league average player given the identical opportunities would have driven in fewer runs than BP in 2013.This holds true regardless of how you feel about RISP stats, so no need to reopen the skill vs luck debate.

          What is BP’s career OPS with RISP? I’ll try to find it on my phone but I’m currently sitting at a college visiting with my daughter. Because I can guarantee you it will be a lot closer to that number than . 873 next year.

        • @Kurt Frost: I didn’t say anything about BP’s expected 2014 OPS with RISP. I simply refuted your point that a league average batter would have driven in as many runs as BP in 2013. A league average batter would not have.

          Your point about future expectations is a separate debate; I agree with your forecast on that but your analysis regarding 2013 is incorrect.

        • @eric nyc: I don’t know whether they’d trade BP or not, but agree with you that it would probably be a mistake. As you say, his offense before the HBP was nearly carrying the team, and I think that many people mistakenly believe that his defense would be easily replaced. He’s still a great fielder, and that is particularly important for teams that depend on as much on pitching as do the Reds.

    • @eric nyc: What about the game when BP was so busy flirting with Jimmy Rollins at second base against the Phillies, that they picked off him second? That set up a sequence of events that forced the Reds to go to extra innings, possibly ruin Carlos Fisher’s career, and ultimately led to Wilson Valdez being a Cincinnati Red :cry:

      Seriously though, BP’s antics are endearing when the Reds win, and frustrating when they lose. Fans are nothing but predictable. Somewhere there is an alternate universe where Pete Rose was ran out of town for being a poor sport, and Lou Pinella was fired for being unprofessional. :D

      I love how people suddenly want to trade players coming off of career lows. Sound investment advice! Buy High, Sell Low. That’s why the hedge funds make so much $$$$! I’m not even a real big fan of BP, probably even the person that began pointing out how terrible a season he was having the earliest and loudest on the site, but his contract stinks and he’s pretty untradeable. We have to hope 2013 was just an aberration.

      • @CP: You are ignoring the fact that players decline in skill as they age. Whether or not it is a cliff or a slow hill, it happens to everyone.

        Also, it seems like folks are thinking he only had a decline this year. Look at his stats for the last 3 years (with wRC+ thrown on the end:

        2011: .300/.353/.457/122
        2012: .281/.321/.429/101
        2013: .261/.310/.396/91

        In this regard, “buy high sell low” doesn’t have an relevance. No one wants to trade him because he had career lows. People want to trade him because his is a declining player who is more likely to keep declining than get better. All contracts given to guys on the wrong side of 30 have some of that risk. If you are able to get antoher team to assume that risk, you’ll be in a better position. If the money saved on BP’s contract could go to improving the team in other areas the possibility has to be explored, I think, but a responsbible front office.

    • @eric nyc: I’m a big fan of BP but am not upset at the suggestion of trading him. I agree that he could have a big 2014, and I hope he does. But if he has a 2014 like 2013, then his trade value plummets. He is already referred to by the “experts” as a “bad contract”.

      Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt about his hitting, his skills are in decline. He is no longer fast but thinks he is. His defense is still well above average but has declined. He’s not as steady. What was wrong with his throwing arm at the end of the season. He was getting nothing on throws, maybe due to the leg injury when Holiday slid into him hard ?

      Don’t get me wrong, he could be a huge part of a 2014 championship team, and I’d be thrilled for him, he’s passionate about being a Red and I love the way he plays.
      But the idea of trading him can’t just be dismissed at this point.

      • @pinson343: I’m not so much “upset” with the idea of trading him as I just think it’s such a non starter I don’t know why it’s being talked about. I would trade anyone in this organization for the right price, and honestly I think you could possibly find a trade partner that would give you a reasonable return on BP. It would be tough – would have to be a cash rich team that didn’t care about his contract, but there are a lot more of those out there than there used to be. But I don’t think anyone’s going to come ASKING about him, and without that I don’t think Walt and Bob are going to start making phone calls seeing what the interest is. I think Walt looks at BP’s 2013 and thinks “His hitting was a little down, but he had great run production and he’ll bounce back next year.” And I think Bob looks at BP’s 2013 and thinks “That guy packs people into my ballpark and sells a lot of merchandise.” So neither one of them is rushing to the phones right now. Do I wish we could have signed him for a little less money? Sure. But that’s the nature of the game now. With these TV contracts we’re going to start seeing all kinds of unprecedented money. My guess is by the time his contract is up that kind of cash will seem downright pedestrian when you look at the entire league.

    • The blowup with Trent was unfortunate but it was also the first time in his career that anything like that had happened.

      That is demonstrably false. He’s been feuding with Trent since 2006. He started a feud with the Cardinals (then went 3 for 27 in the final two series against them). Hell, dude was sending nasty PMs to this very site’s Twitter account on the last weekend of the season. (539 OPS, 4 RBI in September).

      You claim that “BP has consistently been one of the best clubhouse presences on this team.” Please offer a single citation for that. What I’ve heard (third hand) is that, at most, his teammates tolerate him.

      • @Chris Garber: You want to fault him for the Cardinals blowup 3 years ago? And I’m sorry, but the RLN twitter feed the last 2-3 weeks of the season was one of the most negative things I’ve ever read. Everything was a personal affront. Just whining and whining and whining. I unfollowed it for a while. If I was BP I might have been tempted to send some nasty messages too.

        Amazing what a bad month at the plate will do to people’s reputations…Hope you guys get over it because he’s going to be in a Reds uniform for at least the next 2 years. I would really hate to have to put up with an entire season of attitude the way the last couple weeks went down around here.

        • @eric nyc: Do your viewpoints about BP come from a position of condoning his behavior? If I thought public profanity and disrespect at my place of business was acceptable, I’d also think BP was being unfairly cast.

          This is not a jab; this is a legitimate question. Because I could completely understand your viewpoint if you feel the things he did/does are acceptable.

        • @prjeter: I already said the blowup with Trent was unfortunate. But show me where he has done that repeatedly in public. All I’m saying is I don’t see him being a distraction to anyone and a handful of relatively minor things are hardly a pattern of misbehavior that makes him a problem. I would hope that if you were having a bad day and dropped an F bomb at work they wouldn’t immediately hand you a pink slip.

  10. Its amazing how short our memories are here at Redlegnation.com…Mike Leake is the Rodney Dangerfield of this team on this blog….He was one of the most consistant and healthy pitchers we had this year. He is young and will only get better and smarter. I understand the trade bait and value and all that, But he is gonna put up W’s and be a great value. Don’t lose the Leake!

    • @hydeman: My advocacy of trying to trade Mike Leake isn’t based on a short memory. It’s based on the long memory of his previous seasons and realizing that his 2013 was only superficially better than 2012 and 2011 etc. Yes, he had a nice year in 2013, measured by ERA and Wins. That’s what gives him the possible trade value that he didn’t have in previous years. You can’t offer valueless player in trade. Hopefully a GM would have the same opinion of his Wins that you do.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I understand your point of value. This is a very young pitcher that seems to be in an upward incline as far as his results on the mound. He probably wont ever be a Latos or Baily but maybe a Maddox? I like his make up and believe he is a great value for what the Reds get. That being said I’m a horrible trader. I want to keep almost all of them. LOL!

        • @hydeman: I’m with you. I’ll talk about it but at heart I don’t really want to trade anybody, except the crappy players. If Bronson is gone, I’d miss Mike even more. From old Bronson and young Bronson, we’d have no Bronson !

        • He probably wont ever be a Latos or Baily but maybe a Maddox?

          I hope you’re referring to Mike Maddux.

          Greg Maddux won 4 consecutive Cy Young Awards, starting with his age 26 season. Mike Leake turns 26 in a month. If Mike Leake gets a single vote in next year’s CYA voting, I’ll be surprised.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Steve: I’d trade anyone, with regrets, if the deal were good for the Reds. I have a fairly good opinion of Leake but not based so much on wins and era, which I know to be incomplete tools for evaluation. I like Leake because, to my eyes, he seemed to be improving his location and pitching strategy this year–becoming a more complete pitcher, in other words.

  11. Good info. I agree with a lot. The differences:

    I wouldn’t put Hamilton ahead of Heisey at CF. Hamilton definitely has a bigger upside and would probably be more exciting. But, given Hamilton’s lack of experience (He has only one year AAA following 1/2 season AA as well as one year in the OF), I would still put Heisey ahead of Hamilton.

    Devin is only a question mark because of how Baker poorly utilized him (as well as his direct competition with Hanigan for playing time). For example, Baker gave the excuse of Devin’s problem in 2011, “The game was too fast for him at this level.” Well, whether correct or not, what was Baker’s remedy for that? Benched the kid even more!!! How the he!! is anyone suppose to learn the speed of the game while riding the pine?

    I do agree that BP should be let go. His skills have definitely diminished. All anyone has to consider with that is BP use to be a 30-30 man. Now, he isn’t even a 10-10 man. It would be unfortunate that someone would probably bring up the race card. I wonder what Xavier Paul, Derrick Robinson, and Don Lutz among several others would have to say about that. The only question for me is who takes over? Is Rodriguez ready? Who’s out there on the FA market? No one would ever be able to replace BP’s defense. So, do we wait until that goes, also? Or, do we send him on while he still has some trade-ability left? I say do it. We got rid of Chad Johnson a season too late (we could have had 2 first round picks from the Redskins, but we ended up with, what was it, a 2nd round pick from the Patriots), who BP is reminding me a lot of right now. Don’t let that happen with BP.

    One thing about the Riggleman quote, at least he mentioned “Stolen Base”. Baker seemingly didn’t even believe in them. I was surprised as he!! when he had Hamilton steal a base. I recall many times when he had the fastest man in baseball, Stubbs sacrificed over to 2nd. I’m sitting there thinking, “I can understand moving the guy over to 2nd. But, why sacrifice him over? The guy is the fastest man in the game. Have him steal it!”

    So, I really wouldn’t mind some old school. Old school can also mean more disciplined style of play, which is what this team needed a lot of.

  12. The lack of news coming out concerning the Reds’ searches to improve the club may be from that “blackout” imposed while the post season is playing out. This lack of info certainly can fuel flights of imagination. Too often we get caught up in the baseball card mentality, “I’ll trade you three Corky Millers for one Ted Wiiliams …”
    But, I digress, listening to BP trades makes sense any GM will listen to any offer made on ANYONE on the roster, that’s part of any GM’s due diligence … at the end of the day it comes down to will this trade actually improve my team?
    Would trading Joey Votto to Toronto (Canada’s Team) for their entire farm system make sense … yes, for two prospects and salary relief … no.
    Small point, Billy Hamilton came up as a shortstop, not the best defensive skills but does he make the Reds better there than what Zach Cozart has done? Then who fills the CF hole?
    I like the pitching rotations mentioned in several posts above but have serious concerns about depth. The starting five in April are not going to be your starting five come July … there are injury concerns not only with Johnny Cueto and Tony Cingrani, but even Mat Latos … floating bone chips? It gives one pause …
    Here’s a thought, sign FA David Freese for 3B and move Todd Frazier into left … oh, yeah, if you move Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation, you’ll need another lefthander at the backend, keep Zach Duke to go along with Manny Parra and Sean Marshall.
    Hey, gang, the weather’s getting cooler and the hot stove is beginning to heat up! Enjoy! If October is this much fun (despite the Reds missing out) imagine what November, December, and January will be like!

  13. I don’t necessarily follow the logic that the Reds needed a dominant starter in the playoffs, therefore would have been better with Chapman in the rotation. Latos and Cueto are completely qualified to pitch an important game. The outcome justified the rationale, I suppose.
    Moving ahead, Chapman probably IS a rotation part but he wasn’t the reason the Reds lost the WC game — they just can’t hit.

    • @Johnu1: Did you happen to watch Pirates-Cards Game 5, Braves-Dodgers Game 4, or Tigers-A’s Game 5?

      If Wainwright, Kershaw, Verlander are ON, then their teams WILL win. They were all ON, because they are very good. Their teams are all in the LCS.

      I agree a dominant starting pitcher isnt necessary to win, but it sure makes it a heck of a lot easier to have a guy capable of shutting down a lineup for 7+ innings with some degree of consistency.

      • @prjeter: If Cueto is on, he’s dominant. That was the only point I was trying to make. At any point in the playoffs, if your ace isn’t on, you have to do something else. Cueto IS our ace. Maybe it was a bad decision and only looks that way now, after the fact.

        • @Johnu1: If I’m on, I’m dominant, too. What’s the liklihood that happens? 0.001%? Perhaps.

          Any major leaguer can dominate. The liklihood of that happening is what differs. Cueto, just to toss out an arbitrary number, is on maybe 70% of the time. A guy like Kershaw is on 90% of the time. A guy like Verlander (this year notwithstanding) is on something like 85% of the time.

          Your “ace-ness” in my eyes isn’t measured by “can you shut out guys.” All major leaguers can. It’s measured by “WILL YOU” shut out guys? The higher the liklihood of that, the more of an “ace” you are in my eyes.

          I agree 100% with your last statement. If Cueto has a good game, we probably are having a different conversation all together.

  14. Here’s some depressing info from Cot’s Contracts.

    Both Ryan Ludwick and Jack Hannahan (?!?!?) have 2015 options with buyouts: $4.5 MM for Ludwick and $2 MM for Hannahan. That means Ludwick’s real salary for this year is $12 MM and Hannahan’s is $3 MM. I don’t know about you, but that is $15 million I would like to have to put towards something useful.

  15. If I’m playing GM:

    A. Trade Mike Leake for Nori Aoki.
    B. Trade Billy Hamilton, Daniel Corcino and Nick Travieso (or Robert Stephenson) for David Price.
    C. Sign Alexander Guerrero.
    D. Re-sign Manny Parra
    E. Sign Nate McClouth

    Rotation:
    1. Price
    2. Latos
    3. Cueto
    4. Cingrani
    5. Bailey

    Lineup v. RHP
    1. McClouth – CF
    2. Aoki – LF
    3. Votto – 1B
    4. Bruce – RF
    5. Phllips – 2B
    6. Frazier – 3B
    7. Mesoraco/Hanigan – C
    8. Cozart – SS

    Lineup v. LHP
    1. Aoki – CF
    2. Phillips – 2B
    3. Votto – 1B
    4. Bruce – RF
    5. Ludwick – LF
    6. Frazier – 3B
    7. Mesoraco/Hanigan – C
    8. Cozart – SS

    Bullpen:
    C. Chapman
    S. Broxton
    R. Marshall
    R. Parra
    R. LeCure
    R. Hoover
    R. Simon

    • @David: Looks good, except for B. Trade Hamilton and Stephenson for 1 year of Price? Never in a million years. Stephenson is the one untouchable prospect in the organization in my opinion.

    • @David: No offense, but that trade is absurd. I would NEVER trade that package for Price if I were GM for the Reds. Yes, it is going to take something along those lines (at least) to get it done, but I would not do that for a year of Price. The cost is not worth the Price.

      It’s an entirely different story for Stanton. It would cost more than that, but you would get a star in return for at least 3 years. Same for many other trades. Bottom line, if I’m the Reds, I go for multiple year return rather than only one. We need to build our farm system now, not trade it all away for one year rentals (caveat–Choo. If you can get someone like him in a one-for-one, then I can see the Reds doing it).

    • @David: I would not even like a one on one trade of Stephenson for Price. Pitchers get old fast. You don’t trade a young pitcher like Stephenson. Look what Wacha and Coles are doing for our competitors.

    • @Johnu1: Only if the Reds offer him the qualifying offer and he turns it down. Then whoever signs him would have to give up their first round pick.

      • @Kurt Frost: I suppose the next question is for Bronson … does he think he’s as appealing as Lohse was? If not, Lohse sure did spend a lot of time out of work. Finally signed with a team that had 1 decent pitcher.

    • @Johnu1: Bronson might be overselling himself. I love the guy, but he’s not getting a big contract based on his past durability. GMs only care about the future, and he’s aging and could be headed for a steep decline. And with the way LHed hitters hit him, an AL team can’t even consider him.

  16. Forget about Choo, it’s not gonna happen. It would be irresponsible to pay a 32 year old >$90mil. I might also point out the majority wants to dump a certain second baseman of the same age because his skills are diminishing and we want to get out from under the backside of that contract.

    I’d take a long look at Corey Hart. A perfect buy low opportunity, similar OPS to Bruce when healthy. Beyond that, the most likely avenue for acquiring the offensive piece we need will come via the trade of some of our surplus pitching. We need young, cost controlled guys on the upswing. Let the other teams pay for past performance.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: The difference is that Phillips relies on skills that traditionally don’t age well. Choo’s value comes in his ability to get on base–a skill that traditionally does.

  17. As for Chapman, I am exactly like last season. I am interested in “seeing the experiement”. So, sure, let’s see what he can do. However, if I had to bet, I believe he will be better as a closer. At least until proven otherwise, the last time he started with any significance, in AAA when he first got here, the scouting report was he could make it through 3-4 innings alright, but then lost it after that. As well as, he would still need to prove to me that he can do all the other things that starters are asked to do more of over closers:

    - pitching accuracy, as in not just throw a strike but be able to hit the corners when he wants to
    - field
    - hold runners on
    - bat
    - go longer innings

    We have him definitely through 2016 (the earliest he can be a FA is 2017, so we have him for 3 more seasons, I guess unless we decide we can’t/don’t want to afford him, trading him off somewhere, getting value). Given that timeline, I would think we have at most 2 more seasons to make him a successful starter and have any value for us.

    I hope Chapman will be a good/great starter for us. And, I am cheering for it. I just don’t think he will be.

    • @steveschoen: I’m a little more optimistic, but I won’t disagree. Just one small point: Chapman has an excellent pickoff move and was picking off a lot of runners before they caught on. When it matters, he can hold a runner close or even pick him off. As a closer, he gives up a lot of “steals” due to defensive indifference.

    • @steveschoen: There was a lot of discussion about Chapman when he had an at-bat earlier this year. One of the booth guys said they did an informal poll of the players asking who the best athlete on the team is. They pretty much all said “Aroldis Chapman.” Apparently, he’s a very good hitting pitcher, is extremely fast running (Derrick Robinson was the comparison), and can field his position well.

      Basically, he’s a starter. Build up the arm strength, give him some experience, and voila! You got it.

      Also, the control will come with the ability for him to start throwing his fastball at 98-99 rather than overthrowing for 101-102. With a fastball at 98 and a wipeout slider at 89-90, you can get a lot of people out if you can control it.

      To me, the control “if” is the only relevant “if” in the whole scenario.

      • @prjeter: I remember that AB. I would just prefer to make the judgement based off more than just one AB. I heard what the players have said. But, it can always be different in a game. I believe I remember Chapman trying to pick off a runner and threw wildly to Votto.

      • @steveschoen: Basically, he’s a starter. Build up the arm strength, give him some experience, and voila! You got it.

        If it was that easy, we would have done it since day one. If it was that easy, Chapman wouldn’t have struggled starting in AAA. Easy to say, harder to do.

        • @steveschoen: I was implying he’s got the non-pitching skills necessary to be a starter, since the post I was replying to was about batting, fielding, running, holding runners, etc.

        • @steveschoen: And I completely disagree that the reason he’s not a starter is because “it’s not that easy.”

          He’s not a starter because the former Reds manager did not want him to even TRY to be an effective starter.

    • So, sure, let’s see what he can do. However, if I had to bet, I believe he will be better as a closer.

      I’d say that’s true of almost every pitcher, from Bob Gibson to Jason Grilli. Being a one inning reliever is simply easier than being a starter. But that doesn’t mean that Chapman won’t be good as a starter, or that keeping him in the bullpen is the right move.

  18. Paul O’Neill must be named manager of he reds. Price, Riggleman and all of the others are not legitimate candiates. Hire Paul O’Neill and 2014 will be a success!

    • @gschiller13: I’m excited about the idea of O’Neill managing the Reds. It’s risky, given the lack of experience as a manager, coach, or even spring training mentor, but I’m excited about it. He has fire, of course, but he’s also intelligent and articulate. I listened to him a lot on the YES network.

      He would demand accountability but would also know that being a control freak does not help. Recall that Lou Piniella insisted that he be more of a pull hitter and hit more HRs. He was unhappy about that and blossomed into a great player with the Yankees when he was able to hit in the way best suited for him.

      • @pinson343: Just for discussion, what proof do we have that O’Neill will demand accountability? So far, the only manager (as we perceive it) who did not is Baker, who we deride incessantly for not demanding it. Other than what we believe to be true, that is our only benchmark.

        O’Neill has said would be interested. I can’t find that the Reds are interested in him.

        • @Johnu1: O’Neill has a Kirk Gibson personality, only smarter. It was confirmed by the way (see Fay) that O’Neill was contacted by the Reds, this isn’t just a fantasy of his. Having said that, it’s not even clear that an interview will happen – he is not yet a “candidate” (also according to Fay).

          Due to his total lack of official mentoring experience and management experience of any kind, I doubt it will happen.

      • @CP: O’Neill can be a hitting coach and official team “in your grill” guy. I’m happy if they give the job to Price.

        • @Matt WI: Yeah, I don’t really have a problem with either O’Neill or Price. I don’t know much about either but they seem like they’d both be okay. Heck, even as a sabermetric guy, I don’t need a perfect manager. I just want one that had decent leadership qualities and doesn’t act directly contrary to basic sabermetric/common sense principles, i.e. put 0.275 OBP guys in the #2 spot.

          Even a Riggleman-type I think would be “okay”, it just seems like the Reds should take this opportunity to look towards the future and not the past. Former players seem like they’re extremely hit and mass in this regard, but I’ll give guys like O’Neill and Larkin a pass until I see otherwise.

          My issue is that this dude has been telling us all this potential managers are terrible because they lack experience, then switches gears and wants O’Neill. Say whaaaaaaaaaatt?

      • @CP: Maybe it’s a case of perceiving O’Neill getting angry about his performances as a sign of “he cared a lot.”

      • @Steve Mancuso: I brought up O’Neill here a few days before this news broke. Paul O’Neill is one of my all time favorite players. I live in NY, and during his time here I rooted for the Yankees nearly as passionately as I root for the Reds. Since he left, I’m back to hating the evil empire. Even saying all that, I can’t see hiring someone with zero managerial experience. Bench coach or hitting coach, I’m all for it. I’m just excited they have reached out to him.

  19. Barring any trades, here are some (relatively) low-cost FAs that I would look at to plug some holes on short term deals.

    1. Michael Young. I was actually hoping Walt could swing a deal with the Phillies at the the trade deadline for Young. I think he’d be a premier #2 hitter for the Reds. He gets on base at an above average clip, and has always been able to hit for average. Even in a decline due to age, I’m sure he’d hit well enough with the pitches he’d see ahead of Votto. He has some position flexibility, having played all 4 IF positions last year. You wouldn’t want him at SS outside of a pinch, but the ability to do so provides more flexibility. Defensively he’s a downgrade. But that’s why Super Sub Todd is around. I would attempt to sign Young to a two-year deal and plug him in at 3rd base.

    2. I like the idea of adding an offensive minded SS to provide PH ability and to give Cozart a rest. I read a sentiment I agree with, that the idea of carrying a defensive first SS behind Cozart is pointless, because you don’t need to replace Coazrt in late innings due to his defense. In that case, needing a back up SS, why not carry an offensive minded one who will be allow for better PH options.

    Ideally, the best SS available that the Reds could sign at a reasonable amount, is Stephen Drew. Now, Drew is likely not at all interested in playing behind Cozart. Although if the Reds could swing it, a platoon would be ideal because Drew as a LH batter put up a 284/377/498 slash line against RH pitchers (as opposed to a 196/246/340 slash line against lefties. Cozart’s splits aren’t as dramatic, but he did post better numbers all around vs LH starters.

    But outside of signing Drew, there are a few guys that can man the SS position adequately enough to spell Cozart while providing a much better PH option than the Reds have had at that positions in many years (Janish, Renteria, Valdez, Izturis). The top of this list is Rafael Furcal. He missed all of last year, so an incentive laden contract may be able to be worked out. If he ends up being too pricey, then there are options such as Yuniesky Betancourt and Willie Bloomquist. Both provide more offensive ability as a back up SS than what the Reds are used to, and both provide position flexibility as well. Either would be an upgrade to Izturis.

    3. If for some unfortunate reason the Reds cannot figure out how to keep Choo, then CF will need to be addressed if for no other reason than to have insurance for BH. There are three guys I would look at to bring in on a short term deal. David DeJesus, Rajai Davis, and Franklin Gutierrez (if the M’s let him walk). None of the three will give much more than average (at best) defense in CF, and all are likely to be about league average in CF.

    DeJesus is intriguing because he’s got the best OBP of the three and is a LH. At this point he may be a better corner OF’er but the Reds can always replace him in later innings with Hamilton/Heisey. As a LH he’s also a good option for giving Ludwick a breather and a possible replacement for Paul as a pinch hitter. Gutierrez is a bit younger than the others, but has been injury prone. I think he has a bit more pop in his bat than the other two as well. Davis would likely be solid. None of the three is really much more than a stop gap though. If I had to make a choice I’d pick DeJesus because he is LH and has an above average OBP, but also because when not playing he offers an upgrade to our bench by replacing Paul.

    I would go into the season with:
    CF: Hamilton
    3B: Young
    1B: Votto
    RF: Bruce
    LF: Ludwick
    2B: Phillips
    C: Mesoraco
    SS: Cozart/Drew (in an ideal world)

    Heisey, DeJesus, Frazier, Hanigan, (offensive) SS

    Votto has two guys that can get on base ahead of him, instead of one and a black hole. When Hamilton is sitting DeJesus leads off. You have good power behind Votto to drive in runs. Phillips is still in a position to drive in runs, which may be his best attribute offensively at this point. And the bench is greatly improved and provides legitimate PH options. (of course this would mean Paul is non-tendered and Hannahan is traded/released).

    • @hotto4votto: Interesting thoughts, there. I, personally, think platoons are the future for every major leaguer who isn’t either a superlative defender or equally effective against LHP/RHP.

    • @hotto4votto: Amen on Young. He is precisely what the team would need to help both on and off the field. I would like to see him get an equivalent of 500 plate appearances at 3B, SS, 2B, and 1B. Frazier can play a bit of LF if need be. I also like the DeJesus idea (though I have advocated swinging some kind of trade for Brett Gardner (Choo-lite for one year, then take the draft pick after the QO).

      Of course, the best thing about this offseason is that we can all seriously contemplate a world in which a Reds manager can juggle lineups/positioning for maximum strategic advantage. If Price (or someone else) can do this, I cannot help but think that this team is going to be very, very tough to beat next year.

  20. So ESPN.com has an article up about Cal Ripken Jr being interested in managing in the majors. Does anyone know anything about his philosophies?

    I understand this isn’t anything likely at all for the Reds, but I’m just curious if anyone knows his possible style.

    • @prjeter: My guess is that ESPN calls everybody they can think of and asks if they’d like to manage. “Sure, if the right deal comes along” would be a standard answer.

      • @Johnu1: I think you’re right in this case. Looks like Jayson Werth made a comment that Ripken would be his #1 choice to replace Davy Johnson or something like that and it all got started.

  21. The problem with finding an offensive (meaning a hitter) SS is that there really aren’t any who can play at this level. I think the problem with having infielders who hit .234 is that we have LEFT FIELDERS who are hitting .234. I can abide Cozart’s offense if he’s going to hit .234. Beef up Frazier’s numbers and find a real LEFT FIELDER and we can support having Izturis as a fill-in guy for a series. Longer than that, hell … you take your lumps.

  22. Question for the Nation…

    There are 4 teams (Jays, Mets, Brewers & Rox) tied with a 74-88 record from the regular season. Does this mean that there are 11, rather than the normal 10, teams who are immune from forfeiting their 1st round draft pick if they sign a compensation-eligible FA?

  23. The BP discussion has been interesting. All the talk about “decline” and what a bad year he had…this is the point where the old school folks are thinking “You Saber guys are out of your minds! He was fourth in the league in RBIs!”

    This is precisely why he needs to be traded ASAP. Someone *will* pay for those 103 RBIs.

    • @RC: I just find it really difficult to believe that GMs are using RBIs as a player evaluation tool in this day and age. There might be a few here and there, but the Kenny Williams and Ruben Amaro’s of the world are shrinking. Heck, HBT had this quote from Amaro the other day:

      “We’re going to make some changes. I think we’re doing some stuff analytically to change the way we do some evaluations. Look, we’re going to continue to be a scouting organization. That said, I think we owe it to ourselves to look at some other ways to evaluate. We’re going to build more analytics into it. Is it going to change dramatically the way we go about our business? No. But we owe it to ourselves to at least explore other avenues.”

      More power to the Reds if they could pull it off. I’m just inclined to think that guys like Jocketty still says stuff like “he’s a good RBI guy” because its a cliche and easier to explain to the casual fan types. I’d love to see the average Paul Daughterty-type try to digest the GM saying, “His wRC+ indicates that he is 40% better at creating runs than the average hitter. I can’t wait to see how many runs Player A creates with his approach…”

      • @CP: Bingo! The magic 3 — BA, HR, RBI — are always going to play to people. Anything else sounds geeky and the last thing a GM wants to be is geeky. That’s the same issue I am having with people who argue down various manager names (DeShields) … is because they aren’t going to spout out a bunch of numbers in a Q-A about whether they want the job.

    • @RC: And here’s the real issue: BP should be traded b/c of his contract obligations moreso than his performance issues. One way to look at is that the Reds did the right thing in that they basically paid him for his past services rendered that were above his contract. The other way to look at it is that they got overly sentimental and miscalculated what their needs were going to be compared to what he was going to produce at a high price. I’ve always been a BP fan, and I know he brings a lot on himself, but man is he a lightening rod. In May he was an MVP, now he’s trade bait.

      Trading BP would/should be a business move about money and re-appropriating assets in the most productive way possible. Productive being a key word there. If people think he stinks, what exactly do they expect other teams think and why would they give up talent and/or the money?

  24. Items to be addressed this off season after inking a new manager and coaching staff:

    1] Sign Alexander Guerrero! This FA is worth the risk, but it is still a risk. The Reds’ minor league system needs some quality depth across the board and Guerrero would provide a respite to allow the minor league system to restock.

    2] Pick up the phone and call Anthopoulos to let him know Brandon Phillips is available. The Jays admittedly need and want to upgrade their defense and no one would be a better fit for the Jays than Phillips. As other members of the Nation have pointed out, Phillips’ contract is not outlandish, just not a good contract for the Reds. If Phillips is traded, the Reds have four options for 2B: Guerrero, Frazier, Hamilton & Rodriguez.

    3] While negotiating with Boras for Guerrero’s contract, get Choo signed also.

    4] Let Arroyo walk as a FA, but sign Tim Hudson to a one year contract. That establishes the starting pitching depth needed navigate through a 162 game season. His 55% ground ball rate will play fabulously at GABP.

    5] Get Chapman stretched out as a multi-inning, high leverage reliever until after the all star break then get him ready to move into the starting rotation during the final two months of the regular season.

    6] With the added starting pitching depth, shop Bailey and Leake for a ‘can’t turn it down’ deal. If the deal doesn’t materialize, put the best starting rotation in MLB on the mound at GABP and let the opposing hitters deal with it.

    7] Get Ludwick on a serious off-season strengthening and conditioning program. Ludwick is the Reds defacto LF for 2014 and he better be ready to start strong and stay strong. Get Cingrani and Cueto on a srious off-season core stregthening and stretching program. Those pitchers must be ready to take the ball every 5th day.

    8] Stop the nonsense of Billy Hamilton making the Reds major league roster and starting or platooning in CF. The man is not major-league ready, yet. He is exciting and when he gets on base, he is a lethal offensive weapon. He needs another season, or at least a partial season, playing full time at AAA with success getting on base.

    9] Tell Mesoraco to get a lot of rest and conditioning this off season, because starting in April he needs to plan on playing not only regularly but playing the vast majority of the time.

    10] Get Frazier in the cage and work on his pitch recognition and plate coverage religiously. If he can’t make the adjustment at the plate, he needs to prepare himself for a utility role.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I love these ideas… especially #3. I smiled at the idea of Walt just slyly saying “so, while we’re doing this, how’s about Choo for 4 yrs and we call it good?”

  25. So what does the pitching staff look like for 2014?

    Starting Pichers:

    Cueto
    Latos
    Leake
    Bailey
    Hudson

    With Bailey and Leake both in the starting rotation, Cingrani AND Chapman begin the season as high-leverage, multi-inning relievers. This could result in 2-3 innings saves or 2-3 inning middle relief appearances. The remaining relief corp: Hoover, LeCure, Mashall, Simon and Parra. If Bailey or Leake is traded, move Cingrani to the starting rotation and add another reliever (Duke, Ondrusek, Partch, etc.) from the existing 40 man roster or someone brought in on another reclamation project.

    Lineup:

    Choo
    Votto
    Mesoraco
    Bruce
    Ludwick
    Frazier
    2B (Guerrero, Rodriguez)
    Cozart

  26. I guess I don’t buy the concept of a Chapman “experiment” as a starter. In the spring, give him the ball and if he can’t do the job, either trade him or put him back in the bullpen. I don’t see that the Reds have a lot of risk. Lots of pitchers in baseball have been effectively wild — Nolan Ryan coming to mind, and Jim Maloney.

  27. Chris Heisey is a highlight film defensive player with inside-the-park home run offensive speed… And, while he changed his hitting style to be a team player and meet the Reds interest in him transitioning to an on base percentage hitter, Heisey is actually a Mark McGuire style home run hitter that will soon hit everything even near the plate into the upper decks……Watch for opposite field super power this year…I haven’t been wrong about this kid yet…Still one of the best kept secrets in Major League baseball…..

    • Chris Heisey is a highlight film defensive player with inside-the-park home run offensive speed… And, while he changed his hitting style to be a team player and meet the Reds interest in him transitioning to an on base percentage hitter, Heisey is actually a Mark McGuire style home run hitter that will soon hit everything even near the plate into the upper decks……Watch for opposite field super power this year…I haven’t been wrong about this kid yet…Still one of the best kept secrets in Major League baseball…..

      What this intended to be a joke?

  28. Trade phillips only if the return is solid.

    Cossack, the best upside move for this team is to finally have Chapman starting.

    Make sure we resign Manny Parra

    Trade Leake, unlike Phillips, his value may never be higher and with Chapman or Cingrani ready to step into the lineup, we are dealing from strength

    Do not ever, EVER mention trading Stephenson again unless we are trading him for Mike Trout.

    “Trade Billy Hamilton, Daniel Corcino and Nick Travieso (or Robert Stephenson) for David Price.”

    not a fan of this trade. Looking forward to seeing Billy in GABP.

    Really, Nick Travieso or Robert Stephenson???

    That is like tipping at McDonalds with a gold bullion bar:

    Unnecessary and you really do not understand the value of your assets

  29. Thanks for all the comments guys. I enjoyed reading all your feedback on my post. A couple points:

    I don’t think the Reds should trade Phillips for the heck of it. The reason for trading Philips should be to use the money saved to re-sign Choo, or to acquire via trade/FA signing a big bat.

    To whoever said why would any team want Phillips if the Reds don’t: Phillips is still a good player, he just isn’t worth another $60 million for a small market team. Someone like the Dodgers or Yankees could afford Phillips contract, and still be able to afford another great talent around him. If the Reds can resign Choo or another big bat without having to “dump” Phillips contract, I’m all for it. I just don’t believe the Reds have the funds available, but hey I didn’t think they would have the funds to sign Votto for 58 years either.

    • Thanks for all the comments guys. I enjoyed reading all your feedback on my post. A couple points:

      I don’t think the Reds should trade Phillips for the heck of it. The reason for trading Philips should be to use the money saved to re-sign Choo, or to acquire via trade/FA signing a big bat.

      To whoever said why would any team want Phillips if the Reds don’t: Phillips is still a good player, he just isn’t worth another $60 million for a small market team. Someone like the Dodgers or Yankees could afford Phillips contract, and still be able to afford another great talent around him. If the Reds can resign Choo or another big bat without having to “dump” Phillips contract, I’m all for it. I just don’t believe the Reds have the funds available, but hey I didn’t think they would have the funds to sign Votto for 58 years either.

      The Braves may be in the market for a 2B…of course they might not be keen on taking on another 2B with a big contract.

  30. When did Edinson Volquez go to the Dodgers. And why are he and Carlos Marmol on the playoff roster? Is L.A. trying to throw the series?

  31. Honest question for people who are evaluating contracts. I know there are some fairly tried and true metrics out there for valuing WAR’s into actual dollar amounts. I assume standard inflation and some amount of overall league payroll growth from year to year are taken into account in those equations. But when you’re looking at long term contracts, be it Votto’s 265 year deal or even Brandon Phillips 3 years from now, how much of the new landscape of the league are you taking into account? By all guesses, payrolls are about to go absolutely bananas when the new TV contracts start coming in. The Cubs alone could almost double their already bloated payroll in the next 5 years. God knows what the Dodgers are going to do. it wouldn’t be inconceivable to see a team like the Reds pushing $150 million before 2020. That may be a bit of an extreme guess, but it’d be hard to say it’s not a possibility. So when guys start getting $300 million, $350 million, eventually $400 million contracts (it’ll happen, and sooner than most of us would like to think) how harshly are we really going to judge paying a Brandon Phillips $60 million for some reasonably productive years?

  32. I think the Reds need to improve their offense, and maybe need to sign Choo. But when you watch the playoffs the thing that stand out are the aces…Verlander, Wainright, Kershaw, Greinke.

    As good as the Reds pitching is, do they have that playoff ace? Even these young Cardinal rookies have pitched better than the Reds potential aces in the playoffs. Bailey and Arroyo pitched great in the playoffs last year. Besides that, the others have faltered.

    Maybe the Reds need to consider getting a David Price, or someone in that mode. I like the guys they have now, but maybe they aren’t good enough to really push the Dodgers, Cards, etc.

    Unfortunately for the Reds, they haven’t made it to the round of 7 where their depth could potentially be a strength.

  33. Here’s another wrinkle in the laundry. The Dodgers need to move one of their OF during the offseason. They are not going to move Puig. That would be a PR nightmare for them. That means Crawford, Ethier or Kemp will be moved, unless they plan on keeping a utility OF on the roster making $20MM per year. All three have issues, but Kemp’s recent spat of injuries (shoulder and ankle) may make him most expendable. Could the Reds be interested in a major off season trade for Kemp and would the risk be worth the possible upside for Kemp?

    • @Shchi Cossack: The Dodgers pulled a Reds medical blunder last season and brought Kemp back too soon, without his shoulder being 100% recovered, to try and get his bat in the lineup after their horrendous start. That didn’t work out so well (see Ludwick) for them. About the time Kemp started to get his strength and hitting stroke back, he went down with an ankle injury that cost him the rest of the season. Both the shoulder and ankle were pretty serious injuries and certainly more serious than initially thought.

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