Thinking Inside the Box

Filling in for Votto

Something impossible is happening. The Reds are contending despite getting basically nothing from Joey Votto. This, as you all know, has happened thanks to triumveral emergence of Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco, and Billy Hamilton.

But the Reds are going to see some significant time without Votto around. First base is a not typically a position where you want to give away offense, so what options to the Reds have (other than Jay Bruce). Let’s be thorough and look both in and out of house.

In-House Candidates

This is a big ol’ yuck-fest right here. With Votto out, the current roster sends extra PAs to Ramon Santiago (47 wRC+), Skip Schumaker (71), Chris Heisey (65), and Brayan Pena (82). There are no good options there. None.

So let’s look at the minors. There is, of course, Neftali Soto who is hitting well in AAA. But we’re talk about 115 plate appearances with an unusually high BABIP and two previous years of very mediocre AAA numbers. I’m not buying Soto either.

There’s no one else in the system who is even close to ready. I want there to be, and I know you do, too. But it isn’t there.

What this all means is that there are no in-house candidates.

Outside the Organization

The problem with looking outside the organization is the Reds are looking for a stopgap. With the exception of LF, the Reds have a starter locked up for every position next year (unless you think something is changing with Cozart, I don’t), so you’re looking at getting a bat for half a season only. If you want to go beyond next season, it needs to be a corner-outfield guy, and even that’s dodgy as Jesse Winker is coming along fast and may be knocking on the door next year.

There aren’t a lot of candidates, but through a highly scientific process of looking at the rosters of crappy teams, I have compiled a short list of possible candidates…

Alfonso Soriano – He’s free. He hasn’t been hitting this year, but he did hit last year. Might be worth taking a chance on.

Bobby Abreu - I didn’t even know Abreu was back playing. He’s a statue in the field, but he continues to get on base. Could help for half a season.

Ichiro Suzuki – The Yankees are reportedly willing to trade him. He’s a free agent after this year. He’s having a good enough season.

Alex Rios – Rios is in the last year of that monster contract he signed. Texas isn’t going anywhere this October. Seems like he might be a good fit.

John Mayberry – This one is really intriguing to me. I don’t know what the Phillies would want for him. he would provide the Reds with a solid super-sub who hits well enough and can slide around a bit. They’d have him for two more years if they wanted him.

I have no idea if any of these are practical. I just know the Reds don’t have what they need in the organization. Lets fight about it in the comments.

Note: I’ll be away for a couple of weeks, so you’ll have to kick the other guys around in the meantime. Have fun

187 thoughts on “Filling in for Votto

    • Lutz struggled a lot after spending three weeks with little activity and then being optioned UP to AAA. His SO rate simply blew up and he is just now starting to get back on track. His time would be better served righting his ship in AAA. He is also getting additional playing time in RF as well as LF & 1B in AAA.

      • Agree, they have set Lutz back by calling him up and then sitting him on the bench. He needs to play at AAA and get back on track. He could be of value down the road with the versatility to play 1B and the corner outfield positions. If he could hit anything like he did starting out the season in AA before the Reds mismanaged him, he could be a real asset, but he needs to get some seaoning at AAA to see what he can do.

    • What about Soto – stick him at 1B and give him some playing time. He wasn’t used correctly first time up (mismanaged – what else is new) – let him settle in at 1B.

  1. Bruce may be best of bunch even with so little play, however you loose a great outfielder and super arm. Schumaker covers right ok and arm is not to shabby. Pena was ok but not everyday corner man. Frazier is too good at Third to move him. Suzuki and Rios may be best short season fixes for an Oct. Run, but will be gone after this year. So minus those two. Bruce works at First, Right and Left Field by Committe seems like best option. Not sure we wanna give up a farm for a short term fix that will be gone next year.

  2. One more thought Votto is under contract for the next 10 years with 213 million tied up in payroll, $25 Mil a year for many of those years. The burning question to me should be, “is this leg becoming chronic? if so how many if any productive years will he have?”

    • Hypothetically the Reds could restructure the contract like they did with Scott Rolen when Rolen’s injury developed into a chronic issue. I think we are (or were) still paying him.

    • How does an overworked quad become chronic unless Votto takes the whole offseason overworking it? Now if it was arthritis that might be chronic.

      • I agree. People are a bit too worried. Players are going to get injured.

        Votto will have at least 5 more 4-5 WAR seasons, I’d say, out of those 10 years. The others may be closer to 1-3 WAR due to injuries or just old age in the last few years.

        The fact of the matter is, he’ll still be able to get on base and contribute even if he’ll never be the stereotypical middle of the order threat again.

        • Votto has been injured the past 2 seasons. Definition of chronic:

          chron·ic adjective
          1. constant; habitual; inveterate: a chronic liar.
          2. continuing a long time or recurring frequently: a chronic state of civil war.
          3. having long had a disease, habit, weakness, or the like: a chronic invalid.

  3. I know the Marlin’s manager said he wasn’t available, but how perfect would Casey McGehee be in this situation? Need someone with a .300+ BA to play 1B/3B/LF/RF? Look no further. I know we could come up with a decent package that might make Miami change their minds about that guy.

    • I’m pretty anti-McGehee frankly. He is the type of buy high guy that I am terrified to see the Reds pick up. His history shows that his first half average is a fluke; there is a reason he has bounced around the majors and Japan.

      I’d be more intrigued by Garrett Jones from the Marlins.

  4. I’m going to keep an eye on Santiago for the next 3 weeks (provided he gets enuf ABs). Guy can switch-hit, is patient at the plate and seems to have the ability to hit multiple pitch types.

  5. One outside solution – someone who could play 1B and OF – would be Lucas Duda from the Mets. His hitting .260/.359/.485 this year. He’s 28 years old. He’s got three years of team control after 2014. He’s left-handed.

    I like the position flexibility. He could play 1B now with Votto out and LF when Votto returns. He takes walks (>13 BB% in ’13-’14) so his OBP is great. He hits for power, with 13 homers this year so far (that would be third on the Reds).

    Duda is not in the long-term plans of the Mets because of his age and prospects they have coming up, so it shouldn’t take a king’s ransom to get him.

    • Good call Steve, Duda would be a nice option. He has played well when given the opportunity. Seems like a great fit, filling two definite needs.

      I like Zobrist also, would fit nicely, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Orioles, Cardinals or Giants make a play for him.

    • I like Duda best. I’m hearing the Mets are going to be under major pressure to step it up next year. Would a Duda for Broxton trade make sense? Mets pen is a roped off disaster area.

      Hear that he might be the quietest guy in MLB and I really like that, as team chemistry would not be effected. Playing at GABP, I could see this guy fitting in very nicely. Good suggestion Steve, I think you nailed it!

      • See, that’s exactly the kind of trade the Reds should make, but they won’t. The relief pitcher (Big Brox) will play at most 100 more innings between this year and next. A bunch of those, say a third, will be in non-crucial situations. A position player could play 2,000 innings over that same time. But the Reds, because of their antiquated view of relief pitchers, think those 100 innings are more impossible to replace and valuable than the 2,000. Not to mention, in this case, they would also save money.

        • It would be a great trade for the reds, but why on earth would the Mets do it. Duda is no star, but he will be one of the better bats available when you consider age, cost, team control, flexibility, etc.. With the season Duda is having it would probably take at least a prospect in the Lively, Yorman, Travieso range and maybe something else. I think you are drastically over rating Broxton’s trade value.

        • They are under pressure to start winning next year and are not interested in a rebuild job. Do a Google search. Broxton is exactly what they need. They have enough young starting pitchers as it is. I think you are underestimating Broxton’s value as it relates to the Mets. Heck, we can throw in Hornburg (sp?).

        • The Mets have no chance to win this year or they wouldn’t be trading guys. They need something to help them win next year or the year after. Broxton is a 30 year old relief pitcher whose velocity has decreased for the sixth straight year. His k/9 rate is below 6 and his bb/9 is 3.4. Bad numbers for a relief pitcher.

        • “They are under pressure to start winning next year and are not interested in a rebuild job.” You keep missing the critical point here and their current pen is a graveyard. Am I saying this the wrong way or something?

        • Also, Charlotte, if the Mets are under so much pressure to win next year then why would they trade Duda when he would still be under team control. Duda would be much more likely to help them win next year than Broxton would.

        • I’m not missing your point, I am pointing out that it is wrong. Broxton is not a good bet going forward. He doesn’t get strikeouts and he walks too many guys. His success this year is based on babip luck and unsustainably low home run rates. The Mets could get better pitchers than broxton on the free agent market in the off season if they want to rebuild their pen. No reason to use a valuable trade chip to get him. Take your own
          Advice and do a Google search for a Mets message board. Ask Mets fans who know a lot more than you about their team what they think of this trade. Guarantee they either laugh or curse you out.

        • They have been trying to move Duda since at least 2012, on and off. They like their other outfielders more than Duda because he isn’t exactly Billy Hamilton out there. Duda is not a stud to build your team around kind of guy and is not well suited to his home park. In Cincy, as a 6th hitter, I think the Reds might strike gold. Not worth near as much to the Mets as the Reds.

          Mets need a couple of big bats that play to their park. Mets haven’t had a decent closer since John Franco and they need that more than anything else. My guess is that they may be interested in Jumbo but if I’m the Reds I upgrade them to Broxton and take a chance on Diaz. Money is more than likely a major consideration and the dollars don’t work as well with Jumbo. Reds are going to assume some risk to get it done.

          Personally I don’t see them trading top of the line prospects because they are not looking for prospects in return rather a veteran guy that will come with a bigger contract. IMO, any trade would have to be budget neutral at best. This is just my impression on the way things are going. If the Reds had money they are willing to invest, we would have a stronger bench. They made a decision to lay it down on high priced established Reds players: Bailey, Votto, Phillips, Bruce. They’ve made their choice and now need to work around it.

        • TCT, I could care less what Mets fans want, I’m concerned with Mets management wants. Broxton has been as effective as any reliever in baseball and has a great track record. Hey I could just as well be wrong, who knows. In any event if I’m the Reds, Lucas Duda might be the best deal at an affordable price that fits my needs to a tee and is made for the home park. I hope to God we are talking with them. Almost sorry Mancuso brought it up because it could be the thing that puts this team over the top and that gets me worked up. Makes way to much sense. Some risk?? You bet and that makes life fun.

    • The Reds have a scout at the Mets-Braves series. They are scouting Duda and Murphy. Mets are interested in Diaz (closer) and Lorensen as part of a package.

      • Interesting. I don’t love the idea of giving up Lorenzen, but it is intriguing. At some point one of Moscot, Lorenzen, Travieso, Lively will need to be moved for a bat. We won’t be able to use them all plus Stephenson, Bailey, Cingrani. Wonder where Murphy would play? Part of a bigger plan to unload Phillips? Use Phillips to get an OF bat or Pitching prospect?

        • I can’t imagine any plan to help out our offense would involve moving a current starter, especially one who’s put up a wRC+ of over 120 the past 2 months. We need to improve the subpar players and depth, not weaken our offense by getting rid of the 3rd best bat on the team at the moment. Not even going to get into the defense.

        • Can’t trade Phillips. The Hamilton, Phillips, Cozart defensive triangle must be kept in tack. I don’t any team in MLB even comes close.

          Murhy, I could take or leave but Duda in Great American?? Wow, I could see that being a monumental upgrade to the offense. Please Lord, let Mr. Duda spend the next couple of seasons in Cincy.

        • Much rather give up Lively, Moscot, or Travieso rather than Lorenzen. He’s got a great ERA at AA. His strikeout rate is pretty average but he’s limiting walks, getting a ton of groundballs, and he’s got the stuff to strikeout more guys. I think not walking guys and getting lots of groundballs are just as important as striking people out at GABP.
          Lorenzen is starting to get attention nationally and he’s probably the reds third best prospect right now so it’s no wonder the Mets want him. I would have to be convinced that I am getting a difference maker back to give him up. Duda could be that, especially considering how pathetic the offense the reds are getting in left field and first base now that Votto is out. Would be a tough call

      • Where did you find this?? Give me Duda, I want Duda. Trade Diaz only if it is a must. Heck; I’d trade JJ, Logan and a middling prospect before I’d part with Jumbo.

      • WV, you continually post your information regarding impending trades the Reds are going to make, but when anyone asks for a source of the information you never ante up and none of the imminent, done-deal trades ever come to fruition. I enjoy specualting about possible transactions as much as anyone, but please present them as pure specualtion and not some sort of insider information.

    • I like Duda and also think a guy like Justin Smoak could be pretty easy to grab away from the M’s. He’s got power that would be a huge threat at GABP I think. He’s a decent defender at 1B, he’ll take a walk, he’s in his arb years so could either be moved or kept rather cheaply, the M’s are down on him. Change of scenery could do him some good.

  6. Just posted this in the game recap, but ESPN has an Insider article suggesting we could pull off a trade for Josh Willingham pretty cheaply. He’s having a weird season as his traditional numbers don’t look great, but he has a wRC+ of 124.

    • Willingham is an interesting choice. He’s hitting .218/.367/.430 so his batting average is low but his walk-rate is astronomical, so he has world-class OBP. His power is still solid. He’s at the end of a contract, super-cheap, $7 million (remember it’s prorated for the season, so the Reds would be looking at around $3 million). Obviously not in the Twins plans.

      His batting average is certainly low. But his BABIP is .258, which is well below his career level. On the other hand, his line-drive rate is much lower this year. He’s not striking out more (at least compared to last year), he’s just hitting a huge number of fly balls instead of line drives. Maybe not terrible in GABP.

      Only downside is no previous experience at 1B (outside of one game). But that’s a good name to consider.

      • Yeah a 16.6 BB% is almost Votto-esque. He also has an ISO of .221 which ain’t too shabby. Only 8 HR’s, but you have to figure GABP would help that number quite a bit. And given his short term rental status and age, the Twins couldn’t ask much for him in return. A mid-level pitching prospect might just get it done.

      • Another good option, See there are reasonable options out there that the Reds can get that would help this team.

      • I’m not reporting it as a rumor, it was just speculation on their and my part. But it does make a lot of sense when you look at all the angles. The Twins need pitching and we have it in spades at all levels.

  7. It behooves the Reds to give their only 1st baseman another shot for some consistent ABs. Bring up Soto, he has really cut down on his K rate. He has a good BABIP because he driving the ball more than ever before (it’s weird to see a player reduce his HR rate but increase his BABIP by focusing on the line drives over the fly outs, but that’s his progression).

    If Soto is abysmal for 10 days then all of the aforementioned targets should still be there. If he catches lightening in a bottle then Jocketty looks smart and the Reds spare the farm system.

    • At a 10-day trial, I think he flops big time. If they do go with Soto, they need to assure him that he is in there for a while (minimum 30 days). Soto is probably much better than we have seen at the MLB level but might be feeling the pressure to produce and squeezing the sawdust out of his bat. My observation is that his bat speed is not MLB grade but I think there is a very good case to be made it’s nerves.

      If I was betting, Bruce will be the regular first baseman unless they make a deal.

  8. Another outside option would be Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist’s offense is down a little this year, but still respectable at .268/.349/.408. He plays every position in the IF and OF, including 1B. He’s on a super-cheap contract this year ($7 million) and has a $7.5 million team option for next year.

    Again, great position flexibility, good walk rate (11 BB%) and decent power. Zobrist isn’t in the long-term plans of the Rays, but his position flexibility and lucrative contract will make him a target for other teams at the trade deadline. So Zobrist will be a tougher get.

    • You have some great suggestions. One thing I didn’t state in the post, but probably should have was that I was trying to pick out players who I don’t think we’ll come with enormous prospect cost. I was looking for guys the Reds could (probably) get with a few mid-level guys.

      • A must, IMO. The chances this team wins a Championship are slim if a healthy Votto doesn’t make it back. By some miracle; if Joey does return in good health, I think this team has a better chance at a title then any other Reds squad since 1990. This club is a gas to watch and it looks like the guys are chomping at the bit. Frazier, Mes & Hamilton have done wonders for this team’s chemistry and energy level. The defense is spectacular.

        Jay Bruce looks as loose as I have ever seen him and I expect him to have an MVP-quality second half. Man, does that guy look like he is having fun. If he could, I think he would adopt BHam.

        • I see BP having to remain status quo but Price having the good sense to drop him in the order. Wish this would be tonight’s lineup:

          BHam – cf
          Schu – lf
          Frazier – 3b
          Bruce – rf
          Mes – c
          Phillips – 2b
          Heisey – rf
          Cozart – 2b

          Take advantage of Skip’s hot bat. At this point, I see Ludwick and Heisey as a wash hitting the ball but Chris has him in defense and base running and not by just a little bit. Reds have 3 legit power hitters and it might be wise to bunch them up in the middle of the order.,

          Just dreaming, that’s all.

        • I can’t for the life of me fathom why you would drop BP in the order just to put Skip Schumaker, who has a wRC+ of 30 points lower, at the top. If you want to talk dropping BP to 6th and moving everyone else up a spot that makes sense, but what you describe here is the opposite of productive. BP has as hot of a bat over the same period as Skip and has better career numbers across the board.

        • Schumaker is sizzling red hot, right now. Strike while the iron is hot, make hay while the sun shines, etc. He fits perfectly after Hamilton and right in front of the power bats. Has absolutely nothing to do with BP. Hot streak ends then make the appropriate changes. Don’t get married to players you will be much happier.

        • Skip has had a great week. Over the other 9 years of his career he has managed to put up 2.5 WAR. Total. Price isn’t going to reshuffle the lineup because of one week.

        • More like a month but your right Bryan won’t do it and that is why I don’t consider him a good manager. There is no logical reason not to do it unless you can point me in the right direction. This isn’t for life just for right now. Tio much like Baker for me.

        • Well first of all I have no idea where you’re getting “month” from. Skip had a wRC+ of 40 in June. It’s July 9th now so where is he hiding that great month in there? So the logic is that there is absolutely no reason to expect from day to day that Skip will be able to maintain anything like the kind of production he’s had in the last week or so. It is SUCH an aberration from his career numbers (and even from his current season numbers) that every day he continues it has to be viewed as a lucky fluke, but a good manager wouldn’t disrupt his regular starting lineup on the hopes a lucky fluke. You give him more playing time, sure, but you don’t bet much more than that on it.

        • Charlotte, Price is “too much like Baker” for you? Your comments about him continue to amaze. Fine, criticize some of his moves if you want, but the number of ways he differs from Baker is remarkable–especially for a guy 3.5 months into his first managing gig* Unless you simply want a guy who does everything exactly opposite how Baker would have done them–even the things 95% of the managers in the game would do given the salary/incentive structure in today’s MLB?

          We’re 3.5 out, in the best division in baseball, with DL/roster management issues that would bring most managers and teams to their knees.

          * To take just one example dear to your heart, do you really believe Baker would have gotten this much from Hamilton? In the spring, he’d have been undermining him by complaining how much he wished we’d resigned Choo. After the first game against Wainwright he’d have benched him, then batted him 8th, all the while muttering to the press that it’s a shame the GM didn’t give him a better lead off option. After his first caught stealing, he’d be given the red light and only allowed to run once a week, usually after a botched bunt failed to move him to 2nd….

        • If my only choice was between Dusty or Bryan, I’d choose Price. I want a LaRussa without the crappy personality. Too much to ask??

        • More like how he played/supported Willy Taveras. Hamilton is just Dusty’s type of player. He would have kept him at leadoff all season even if he was hitting under .200. There very well might have been some weird drama or bad blood behind the scenes with Dusty and Mes, but at the very least there was an established big league starter who wasn’t a slouch at or behind the plate in Hanigan playing ahead of him. I don’t like how Dusty handled it, but I don’t think it was purely a rookie thing. He had no problem playing and sticking with Frazier and Cozart even when they weren’t exactly lighting things up in their first few years. Dusty had his archetypes – fast CF to bat leadoff was probably the most rigid.

    • Love Zobrist but there are a lot of teams that will be in on him. He’s going to require the Reds to give up more than you might think. Also, with TB’s recent run, they may just decide to hang on to him.

  9. Jason has done a good job at looking at the “opportunities” that face the Reds. He is saying that there isn’t much out there that fits our needs and without putting the words on paper, it is up to those that are currently in the club house to get it done. I have , and will continue to believe, that the key is Bruce and Philips. They hit the Reds win. The last 4 games have really reinforced my thinking. Mez, Todd, Billy, need to just continue what they are doing but if Bruce and Philips don’t hit I don’t care what “Band-Aid” we use. That last at bat by Ludwick was ugly, even for the rookie league, yet they won, the start by Holmberg was terrible, yet they won, They are playing without Votto, not the MVP version, but the injured version that could barely keep his balance at the plate, yet they won. If you really take a few minutes and look at the past box scores when they win Bruce and Phillip’s will have a hit (hits) in the game. Those two just need to hit and tell JV, “we got this” and go out and do it.

  10. If the Reds wanted to take a flyer on Soriano hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, I could see that as a possibility. He certainly responded after the trade to the NYY last season, but at 38, Soriano may just be finished after putting up a .611 OPS playing in the very hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.

    I don’t see a trade for any marginal bat as productive or desireable and the cost to trade for any productive bat is unjustifiable.

    The 82 wRC+ for Brayan Pena is misleading since Pena’s production is plummeting after his blazing start. Likewise, Skip Schumaker’s 71 wRC+ is misleading since Schmaker’s production is increasing with a .780 OPS over the past month, but Schumaker’s production is needed in LF with Ludwick looking like no more (at best) than a RH platoon option against LHP.

    Neftali Soto’s small sample size and high BABIP since being optioned back to AAA are a consideration, but his SO rate of 15.5% is also a consideration. I just don’t see the downside of giving Soto regular playing time at 1B as the 1st and best option. Irregardless of the small sample size and high BABIP, Soto has an .869 OPS in 119 PA. He’s an experienced, capable defensive 1B. Soto playing 1B would provide the best defensive alignment at every position. With Pena back from paternity leave, Tucker Barnhart should be optioned back to AAA also to get regular, consistent playing time for his continued development. That could leave another roster move available to add another bat to the 25-man roster, but such a move would also require a 40-man roster move.

    • I really don’t see how bringing Soto up and giving him a shot at playing regularly for a week to 10 days could be worse than playing our weak hitting bench guys while playing other guys out of position. The defensive tradeoff alone might be worth it, Soto is at least a first baseman by trade and relatively competent. My biggest fear right now is playing Bruce at first and him getting injured in some kind of freak play because of his being unfamiliar with playing first base. Everybody acts like first base is just a position where you can hide a player, but it’s not.

      • Price’s comments since Sunday have moderated from “I don’t foresee any call up for 1b” to last nights “further evaluation” comment. Maybe getting past the Cubs was more important than they let on.

        • In the mlb.com article about Votto going on the DL, Price said about the possibility of going outside the organization: “I think we’ll see how things unfold here the next couple of weeks. It’s a talking point, but right now that’s all it is.” That is, he actually (sort of) answered the question. I interpret his “it’s a talking point” as WJ is on the phone non-stop.

      • You can’t “hide a player,” but it’s less demanding than almost every other position on the field. Professional athletes who have been playing baseball their whole lives don’t need much time to adjust to being a passable 1st baseman.

        • JDX, could not have said it better. These guys are pros, 1B it is far less strenuous to play than any other position on the field. That’s why in years gone by they always stuck the aging star at 1B. Always.

    • Agreed. This is a K.I.S.S. situation. The market is always there if the farm fails you.

      By the by, irregardless is a combination of regardless and irrespective. Taken as a whole it’s almost like a double negative. However, it is now recognized in most dictionaries described with the inferred pejorative: slang.

  11. I’ve got 2 names—-Justin Morneau and Luis Valbuena.

    Morneau is having a nice season and is under control next year for a ridiculously cheap $6mil. The Rockies are sellers. The beauty of this deal is that whatever you give up in prospects to acquire him you would get back when you trade him in the offseason.

    The Cubs will soon have a glut of infielders and nowhere to play them, namely Kris Bryant. Valbuena will soon be expendable. Has an OPS of ~.770 and plays a credible 3B. He also plays 2B, and I have no doubt he could play first as well. Again, if you’re not intending on keeping him around next year, you could get back what you give up to get him.

    These 2 moves would have practically a neutral cost, and yet we’re debating half measures like Soto???

    Pitching like we have doesn’t come along very often. This team could be very special. We’ve got to go for it!!!!!

      • Rolen in 2009. Edmonds in 2010. Got rid of johnny gomes in 2011. Traded Joseph and Sulbaran for Broxton in 2012.

        • Eh gaads, Cardinals. We should put a caveat in for Walt, please don’t pick up any more aging Cardinals. As for lightening in a bottle, it sure is nice to see Schumaker’s average on the rise. He has hit .350+ in last 10 games. Very nice.

    • Morneau also has the experience of playing in the NL Central for part of the season with the Pirates last year. Wonder what the Rockies would want for him. I wouldn’t go as hard after him as I would Duda but I think I’d at least make a call if I was WJ, if only to see what the initial asking price is.

  12. Like the Rios idea. Josh Willingham is another guy to add as he is in the last year of a reasonable (7 million total) contract. He has only played 1B for two games way back in ’06, however (Rios also isn’t an option there). I’m amazed there aren’t more 1B candidates.

    Mayberry has played some first but has not been particularly good. He does pass the low bar of the internal guys you mentioned. I have to throw Dunn’s name out there, too, as he has played first (badly) and is in the final year of his (large) contract. I can’t see that happening but I think he’d be an upgrade and my guess is that he would be cheap for the Reds if they gave up some okay prospects or cost little in prospects if the Reds paid most of the remaining tab (around 7.5 million). Would love to see it but feels like an absolute pipe dream.

    • The team’s chemistry is so good (great) right now do we want to risk it with Dunn? Would his numbers justify it?

      • I don’t know how Dunn would do anything to team chemistry that any other new face wouldn’t. He’s got the power numbers everyone’s looking for. I don’t think Castellini or Walt are overly concerned about salary numbers as much as what it would cost to pull off the trade and if he could be gotten cheaply, maybe for a low level prospect and cash, he’d be an upgrade at the plate.

        • Eric, hear your points but 100% disagreement on this one except the power. If the Reds expand payroll this season, by any significant amount, I’ll be shocked.

        • Hey I’m not saying let’s go trade for Adam Dunn, I’m just saying if the objective is to rent a player for half a season who’s going to improve the run production out of LF and hit for power then Dunn fits the bill. If Walt felt like Dunn (or Willingham or Ichiro or whoever) was the guy that would make the difference between us missing the playoffs or not then I’m sure Bob would pony up a couple million to cover a slight payroll bump if that’s what it took. I don’t think they would pass on a favorable trade scenario on a rental player over short term money.

        • As a businessman, I think you might be surprised. How do we know if Bob C. didn’t already pay “a few million more” for Bailey’s contract (example) then he thought he would? For all we know, this could be the third, fourth, fifteenth line in the sand. Not saying that he absolutely will not raise payroll but I’m not counting on it happening. Very easy to spend other people’s money and I’m sure you already know that.

          Just a different perspective but you could be right too.

        • From a business perspective, nothing could be more devastating to Bob’s team brand than to miss the playoffs this year. He fired the manager who took the team to 3 playoffs in 4 years and replaced him with an unknown property in Price. Over the last 4 years the team’s value and revenue have skyrocketed because of the success on the field. A step back now, with a shaky future on the horizon with so many big names heading for FA and with lingering injury questions, would be the worst thing that could happen to his bottom line. $3 million? Petty cash.

        • wrc+ 122
          OBP 366
          Its not the bat that’s the problem, its his Wiley Coyote slipping on a banana peel impersonations as a defender that gets me.

        • If you can run the bases and play the field like Jay Bruce okay otherwise thanks, but no.

  13. Felix Perez could be a nice internal option but only in the OF (has never played 1b). Gotay is less intriguing to me but has played 1B and has had a good year in Louisville.

    • I was thinking Gotay could at least be considered for some of the work. His OPS at AAA for his MiLB career is .782 and as you said, he’s swinging it pretty well at L’ville this year. The drawbacks are he hasn’t had significant work at 1B since 2011 and he hasn’t played in MLB since 2008. His career MLB OPS is an uninspiring .685, which won’t cut it for a 1B. With how he’s hitting in L’ville at the moment though, I would at least think he’d be part of this conversation.

  14. In order for one or any of these suggested players ending up in a Reds uniform, Walt would have to actually get off his widest side and pick up the phone. Don’t hold your breath.

  15. Steve;
    Really.
    Lucas Duda, Josh Willingham, Ben Zobrist. They make
    Soto look like a guarantee.
    Isn’t it too early in the morning for you to be drinking “joy juice” but you
    might be onto something, the drinking part anyway.

    • Um, in 4 of the last 5 seasons, Ben Zobrist has posted at least 5 WAR. He’s on track to do the same this year. The Reds would be lucky to have Zobrist. he would cost a fortune though.

        • Indeed, though with Zobrist, you might adjust. You could demote Cozart/Phillips/LFers to part time play and play Zobrist every day moving him around. You could also just plug him into LF for the next few years and be happy with yourself. I just didn’t get the comparison you made with the other two players, neither of whom is especially good.

        • Exactly, if we are talking band-aids then these three are probably out of the question. Dunn or Soriano are probably in the Reds ‘prospect price range’.

          I haven’t heard anything better than calling up Soto for the next couple weeks and then re-evaluating.

  16. I like Willingham except I have a fear he will do well and Walt will offer him a 2 year extension (after all, we can’t just have him come in for 1/2 a year, that isn’t fair to him). I actually have that fear about any “short term” pick up.

  17. Ok, he’s been retired five years and is now 40 years old, but, given the alternatives mentioned, Sean Casey fits best the need. I suspect he would still bat over .260 and have a near .600 OPS. Which of the suggested alternatives can reach these figures? My tongue is but mildly in cheek. Outside the box thinking appears required.

    • I love me some Sean Casey… That said, you are thinking way outside the box. Maybe a tad too far… As for the .600 OPS, given enough PA over a short enough amount of time, I think Soto could do that. I would rather have Duda, Smoak, or good Lord willin’ Zobrist but if we went with essentially free, then I’d take Soto over The Mayor. What an awesome thought though. Can’t think of Sean Casey and not smile.

  18. Two other names to add, and two names that have been rumored to be available. Dayan Viciedo and Martin Prado.

    Viciedo has some position flexibility, but it does not come with great defense. Has played all four corner spots in the majors, but only RF/LF this year fairing better in left. Has an OPS+ of 102 and is slugging .428. He becomes arb. Eligible next season and is only 25. He could fill in at first and then give us some power in left if/when Votto returns.

    Prado gives more position flexibility although primarily playing 2B, 3B, and LF. He did play 1B as recent as 2012. Historically has been a good hitter, but without much power. He’s putting up a .271/.318/.367 slash line this year. He’s 30 and signed through 2016. He could likely cover first, but would also provide a good option to cover third allowing Frazier to shift over. He can play LF if /when Votto comes back. Also, has a bWAR of 1.4 on the year.

    • Reds’ fans would love Prado. Definitely has the grittiness factor too. What’s his contract like over the next couple years?

      • Nevermind… $11-million each year in 2015 and 2016. I don’t think the Reds would want to take that on.

        • Yeah, that’s probably too steep a price for the contracts we have, especially in 2015. But Viciedo would be much more affordable.

        • Probably would take more in the way of talent to get him but yes, he’d cost much less in the way of $$. He’d at least be worth calling about.

  19. HEY GRANDPA, GRANDMA (or Uncles and Aunts
    Be a hero get the family members the RLN tee shirt. $20 for something you believe in.
    The kids sizes all lined up, so go ahead and spoil your grandkids, nieces and nephews.

    You can buy Kids shirts in these sizes: XS (2-4), S (6-8), M (10-12), L (14-16) and XL (18-20). When ordering, select “Kids Size” then provide the details in the Notes field on the order page

    • This was a non-paid, obvious comment to stir tee shirt sales and no Mancuso and I are not related nor do I get a “fee” for this posting, after all what’s $20 anymore It costs me that much just to walk in the front door at Walmart.

  20. The Reds tried to get Zobrist last year. Then the Rays rebounded and discussions broke off. The Reds were checking in with the Rays this year on Zobrist. But, the Rays have rebounded again this year and have put all trade talks on hold until after the AS break. They will re-evaluate their position then make a decision on Zobrist and Price.
    The Cards and Pirates want Price badly. But the Rays were asking for Taveras and Rosenthal or Martinez from the Cards and Polanco and Tallion from the Pirates.

  21. I don’t know what I’d do, but I know what I wouldn’t do: take Bruce out of RF and play him at 1B. It weakens us–a lot–at two positions. I’d rather have Soto come up, even if he doesn’t hit. I’d rather move Frazier and play more Santiago–the hit shouldn’t be as bad defensively, and offensively I don’t think any of the bench outfielders have shown they’re a huge upgrade on Santiago. Heck, I’d rather have Lutz or Peña there every day even if they don’t hit.

    This team is built on defense. Taking a huge hit at two spots isn’t worth it–if Bruce is hitting, BP is giving us professional at bats, and Frazier, Mesoraco and Hamilton don’t regress terribly, then we have enough offense even without Votto.

    • I agree that Bruce-to-First hurts the team defensively at two positions. I don’t understand why Chris Heisey isn’t taking 2 hours of grounders and drills at first.

      They just sent out Jack Hannahan on a rehab assignment, but he is probably several weeks away (and isn’t much of an answer, either). I think Willingham is the most logical answer for the short term. If I remember right, he hit a long home run off Aroldis Chapman when the Twins played here a couple of years ago.

      • Willingham had an All Star season a couple of years ago. Since then he’s declined, but Steve has already pointed out that his OBP and slugging pct. would be a big upgrade in LF.

    • Wow, what a positive write-up from a respected baseball mind. May have me giving Price another look-see. Who knows, he might actually know line-up construction better than I do, really hard to believe though (smile).

      Thanks for the link Annapolis. The rest of you guys should go read it.

      • I like Price. But the points made in Price’s favor in the article are obvious ones and don’t defend things like batting Santiago second.

    • I read this article. It’s very positive, a pleasure to read, but doesn’t say anything we don’t already know.

    • He would probably make a mockery of GABP’s RF sun deck. Kudos to Steve for bringing that one up! It makes so much sense, I could actually see it happening.

      • Gang, I’m sorry but I can’t agree with most of you.

        Here are my thoughts:

        First, Votto- he’s one of the best in baseball… He is simply injured. It happens! We need to replace him for this season.

        His replacement- First, Jay Bruce is one of the best right fielders in baseball and has arguably the best arm. Leave him in left!

        Replace Joey at First. Either grab a strong LF’r and move Ludwick (they say he’s ordered a glove already) or grab a first baseman from another team.

        We need a power player. Despite many of us (including me) likely Schumaker, Heisey, Pena etc… None of them are power players like we need.

        We’ve got a great team and can win it all (even without my favorite player Joey). Let’s keep our faith alive and believe! Btw, who needs choo when you have Hamilton?!?!?

    • I’m a Duda guy too. His power, and that he can play first base and LF. Plus they play Campdown Races when he comes to bat.

      If the Mets want a reliever, they’d want Jumbo, not Broxton. I’m OK with that.

  22. Reds very different lineup tonight:

    BHam – cf
    Schu -lf
    Phillips -2b
    Bruce – rf
    Mes – c
    Pena – 1b
    Santiago – 3b
    Cozart – ss
    Simon – p

    Eric NYC and Charlotte both get our way: Schu in the 2 hole, Phillips is not moved down either. Congrats to my friend Eric. Maybe Price is reading RLN for unique insights?

    I’m guessing Todd is just getting a well deserved day off.

    • Frazier has had only one game off all year, back in late April. He looked pretty beat down at times during the doubleheader (but still hit a double and scored in game 2). I agree that it’s well deserved.

    • For a second I misread this and thought this was your suggested lineup and I almost blew a gasket thinking you’d prefer Pena over Frazier, but yeah I’m assuming this is a scheduled day off since Todd won’t be getting much rest during the break.So yeah, between Skip, Pena, and Santiago then yes, Skip is clearly the best hitter of the bunch. Overall, though, this is a terrible lineup and I hope I never have to see it ever ever ever again. That’s 4 hitters at the bottom of the lineup with career wRC+ of under 75. I know Santiago’s had a good couple of games and Coazrt is due for a bit of an uptick but yikes, that is a lot of easy outs.

      • Agree on all points but probably as good a day for Todd to get rest as any especially since he isn’t going to get much at ASB. Here’s hoping that BP and Schu have monster games and carry the Reds to another win.

        • Yep, I think you nailed it. I hope the offense shows up and Simon throws another solid game.

  23. Isn’t this Santiago’s 4th straight start? Just goes to illustrate how bad our bench really is.

    • Santiago did not play last night, but he did quite well in his three consecutive starts: 4 for 9, plus two walks. He’s batting .271 in the last two months (23 games played).

      • Now, lest people twist my words (as often happens around here), I’m not saying Santiago is a great player or that he should be a regular starter. He’s just not nearly as bad as he’s made out to be around here.

    • Funny that you pick the guy who the BRM called Bozo for your avatar. Anyway, Mister GM, what realistic moves would you have made?

  24. looking at the lineup just shows how bad we need to add a bat. We needed a bat while votto was playing, and we sure need one now.

    • This is an epically bad lineup for a contending team to put on the field. Two players with wRC+ of over 100 and one of those is Jay Bruce who is sitting at 102. The career average of all 8 guys here is somewhere just south of 80. I know it’s just the Cubs and we’ve already won three but sheesh…

  25. The players listed basically are about half my fantasy team, so I’m good with most any options.

    What I will say is that the Reds need to pull the trigger this time. This team, I feel, is on a far better track than last year. I would not want to play them in the playoffs.

  26. Duda, Willingham, Prado, Rios, Mcgehee, Dunn, Zobrist, G.Jones, any of these guys would be an upgrade. Also another name that no one has mentioned but i think he is hurt is cuddyer

  27. We should bring Adam Dunn back, he will bring good value and can play first. We should’ve traded for Giancarlo Stanton when we had the chance this offseason, I was screaming for it but just didn’t happen. Let’s get Adam Dunn, get some home runs then Votto comes back if he is fantastic we have filled left field if he is okay we can have a left handed power bat off the bench! Adam Dunn!

      • Dunn has two things certain people like: High OBP and lots of power. People like to focus on these aspects of his game and ignore everything else.

        I never liked him when he was in Cincinnati and was glad he left. Hope he stays gone.

      • I wouldn’t say “no” except for the fact that he’s BRUTAL in LF and even worse at 1B. I think Bruce is already a better 1B than Dunner. I like Dunn but the guy is a born DH and at this point, I don’t think his offense is enough to offset the fact that he’d be a disaster in the field… Man CharlotteNCRedsfan, we have been agreeing quite a bit lately.

        • I like that because you’re right a lot more than you’re wrong.

        • Your passion for Hamilton’s play has gained a new member of his fan-club. There are things that I think he needs to work on but he’s 23, of course there are things he needs to work on.

    • Lukas Did you ever watch Dunn play a single into a triple or watch him treat a fly ball like an atom bomb. The Reds have gotten to 3.5 games out without Dunn and only a shadow of Votto being Votto. If its home runs you want go play a video game. :)

    • Um…Why would the Phillies want to swap Utley for Phillips? And also give us Mayberry? Utley is a MUCH better hitter, is only 2 years older, and has 3 option years left on his contract which aren’t that much more expensive than Phillips.

  28. Maybe the Reds could bring Seattle’s Logan Morrison back to the NL. Morrison, Corey Hart and Justin Smoak have struggled for Seattle at 1B. But Morrison has rebounded some since coming off the DL last month. He has a good OF arm also. A younger guy at age 26.

  29. There is something that I think some are missing about Bruce playing 1b. He may be recovered from his knee surgery, but it can only take so much before it gets tired and could use some rest. Rather than take him out of the line-up, he can go to 1b and he gets some rest.
    It should also be noted that Ludwick has ordered a 1b glove so he will be another alternative. Price has said that he wanted versatility in his players and I think he is putting that plan in play. Schumaker can play almost anywhere. Pena can catch and play first. Ludwick in the OF and now first, etc, When he was hired, people wondered if Price would think outside the box-he is. Bottom line: Last 36 games 24-12.

  30. With the Reds pitching and defense being what it is, they can actually get by with a middle-of-the-pack offense. That’s not to say that I would be opposed to bringing in someone like Duda or Willingham. However, if the team stood pat, they still would have a very good chance of competing.

    According to their Pythagorean Expectation based on runs scored and runs allowed, the Reds are right where they should be. The Brewers and St. Louis are actually playing a few games over their heads. Basically, the Reds should be right near the top of the standings, and as long as the pitching and offense keeps going the way it has (remember, we’ve gotten to this point with very little from Votto anyway, so it’s not like he’s going to be missed much), the Reds have every reason to expect to finish at the top of the NL Central.

    But bringing in the right kind of hitter would make it more of a sure thing, no doubt.

    • ‘(remember, we’ve gotten to this point with very little from Votto anyway, so it’s not like he’s going to be missed much)” Exactly. We really haven’t gotten much from Bruce either. My contention has been that if Bruce and Phillip’s step up the Reds will do very well.
      Yes the right kind of hitter might make a difference but at this point 3.5 games out and a starting staff that the Cardinals, Pirates, and Brewers can only wish for, Wait and see right now. As long as Bruce and Brandon produce and Mez, Todd, and Billy just do what they have been doing it could be an interesting October.

  31. I wonder what it would take to get Kole Calhoun away from the Angels? I know they’re looking for bullpen help and I’d be willing to ship them Broxton and let Diaz take over his role. We might even be able to get a mid to low level prospect too. Calhoun is having a hell of a year and would fit on this roster just fine.

  32. What about Kevin Youkilis? He was playing in Japan, but left because of plantar fasciitis. He’s 35, Hometown guy, Former gold glove and the greek God of Walks. Don’t know how serious his injury was/is, but wouldn’t hurt to bring him in and take a look.

  33. The Big Donkey is on a walk year with the White Sox, if the Reds picked up the rest of his tab for the season I bet Chicago would trade him for a case of Big Red Smokies and PTBNL.

  34. Mr. Jockerty, please get a stick for the pennant drive. Rockies are loaded with hitters, but need pitching. Acquire Corey Dickerson from the Rockies – the kid is a stud and would fit in quite nicely in LF.

    • Rockies would make a good trade partner, definitely.

      PS According to the guys on mlbnetwork, their owner is having some sort of nervous breakdown.

      • “Outside the courtroom, Monfort told reporters that he was “deeply remorseful” for the whole incident and added that “everyday is a battle” with a “disorder” like alcohol abuse.”

        Monfert may be an alcoholic and thus may require counseling.

  35. I’m not so sure Adam Dunn really left CIncy because of any attitude as much as the Red were nowhere close in 2008 and already had Votto at first, so they were not going to sign him as a free agent. I think the Cincy radio media is just in love with their soap opera. Reds in 2014 are a different animal and I bet Dunn would love to be able to walk into a playoff chase in Cincy after being on so many bad clubs, even if as a rental.

    • Dunn in 2014 is a different animal. He doesn’t hit many HRs now and is terrible at first base.

      • Plus Dunn would be a horrible influence on these kids as he would simply not fit in with the current Reds culture. The Reds also got rid of the sofas that he and Griffey were splayed out on all the time.

  36. In 2012 the Reds went on a remarkable run after Votto got hurt. That was because Todd, who’d been playing 3rd base for an injured Rolen, was able to move to first when Rolen returned. Ludwick, Todd and BP got very hot, and Bruce too (off and on). It’s a more difficult situation this time, no ready replacement.

    Most of the trade candidates mentioned would help, but the question is always what teams want in return. People keep mentioning Broxton, I think teams who are out of contention and want to improve their bullpen for the future would want Jumbo instead.

    Soto has been awful against major league pitching. I can’t see risking the golden opportunity of 2014 on him.

  37. I like Duda idea but are the Mets even shopping this guy? They just got rid of Ike Davis in April to give him the starting job, he’s still cheap and the Mets are on a budget.

  38. I think the Reds success despite the absence of Votto proves what many of us were saying, that an OBP Votto is worth much less than an RBI Votto. He wasn’t knocking anyone in so he wasn’t missed as much.

  39. How about we bring back Adam Dunn. Yes he either hits home runs, walks, but mainly strikes out. But he does have an OBS close to that of Votto’s this year, can play left field and first base and once Votto returns from the DL can give him extra rest when he needs it to save him for October. He would also be a big bat coming off the bench this scenario as well and wouldn’t cost a fortune to trade for while still making the White Sox eat some of his salary.

  40. In my mind, the bigger question is what do we have to give up to get one of these guys and is it worth it for the long term.

  41. Not for Votto, I like what one radio announcer was talking about the other night, bringing in Zobrist. We will probably have to give up something, but possibly not as much as we think we need to give up. He plays 2nd base and can play some outfield. So, he can sub for BP right now. Then, when BP comes back, Zobrist has played some OF. That can put Bruce at 1st this season. Then, we could possibly move Zobrist to LF next season and let Ludwick go. And, it’s not too much of a commitment, $7.5 million I believe this year and next year.

  42. As for Votto, I still feel like I felt at the beginning of the season. I really wouldn’t have a problem if the front office decided to forego this season with any “In it to win it” thoughts and concentrate of building up and developing the minor leaguers. So, with Votto, I really wouldn’t mind shutting him down for the rest of the season or at least not only making sure that the leg is fine and healed but absolutely no pain, no stress, etc. During the therapy, even stress it. Make sure the leg can take it. I’m tired of talking about a leg that many can make an argument that hasn’t been right since the summer of 2011. If the leg is bad, I wouldn’t have a problem letting Votto go, hoping someone will take on that contract. Or, if the leg can be better, then give Votto time to make sure it gets better. At least we have a manager who will rest players more during the season, smartly.

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