One of the themes of Redleg Nation prior to 2010 was that the organization often appeared to be drifting, with no plan as to how to return to glory. After a lost 2011, following an off-season in which Cincinnati did nothing to improve, it’s time to ask those questions again. Although — as usual — there is some nonsense in his latest article, Paul Daugherty asks the salient questions:

The bigger issue is, the Reds appear to have no plan beyond trying to win today’s game, and that’s no plan at all. Emphasizing a win today clouds the vision for tomorrow.

By the way, what is the vision for tomorrow?

It doesn’t involve Renteria, Hernandez and quite possibly Willis. It might involve Francisco Cordero. It might not. It could involve Alonso and Joey Votto, one or both. It might include Heisey, it might not.

It could mean Aroldis Chapman resurrecting his career as a starting pitcher, after a wasted year in 2011. It might include Scott Rolen, invaluable last year, invisible this year. Can the Reds afford another year of being held hostage at third base to Rolen’s health?

None of these questions can be answered now, obviously, though playing the kids more might make the answers easier. What you wonder is, if the club has a plan for any of it.

Perhaps the Reds have a very detailed plan. You may be surprised to learn that they don’t let me sit in on meetings in the front office. Therefore, I don’t know what the vision is, or how they intend to return to contention next year. Reds management — and Walt Jocketty, in particular — are notoriously tight-lipped about these matters, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a road map.

I’d certainly like to know. Because the evidence that the public can see is not encouraging. Everyone knew the team’s weaknesses heading into 2011 — LF, SS, a replacement for Rolen, another pitcher — and the brain trust did nothing to address those problems.

Will they do anything to address all the current problems? I hope so, but one can’t help but be skeptical.

What a difference a year makes….

34 Responses

  1. Sultan of Swaff

    To me it boils down to money….or lack thereof. I’d be shocked if they did anything other than tinker with the bullpen, using the money coming off the books for Cordero to sign a reliever and work out an extension for Phillips. If the Reds feel we have enough to win in what will be a slightly less competitive division next year, the solution to our problems will come internally. If they believe wholesale changes are necessary, Votto gets moved for a stud pitcher plus prospects.
    As for the bullpen, last night was exhibit A in why you don’t resign Cordero. Tony freakin’ Campana and Darwin freakin’ Barney–Cordero didn’t have the ability to strike either of those guys out. Coco’s diminished K rate is a huge red flag. He’s kryptonite to me after this season.

  2. Dave Lowenthal

    When John McKay coached the Buccaneers and a reporter asked him about his team’s execution, he replied “I’m in favor of it.”

    That’s how I feel about the Reds “plan”. I don’t think they have one.

    • dn4192

      When John McKay coached the Buccaneers and a reporter asked him about his team’s execution, he replied “I’m in favor of it.”That’s how I feel about the Reds “plan”. I don’t think they have one.

      Wow a John McKay quote, man that takes me back, I grew up in Tampa and was a HUGE Buc fan back then…thanks David

  3. Jason1972

    I agree with the Sultan, everything comes down to money, which the Reds don’t have enough of and already have misspent a decent chunk.

    I believe they make few changes and do not add any high profile FAs, although it is possible they make a blockbuster trade of some sort.

    • dn4192

      I agree with the Sultan, everything comes down to money, which the Reds don’t have enough of and already have misspent a decent chunk.I believe they make few changes and do not add any high profile FAs, although it is possible they make a blockbuster trade of some sort.

      Where do you see the mispending as of this upcoming season?

  4. Jason1972

    25% of the salary, $20 million, is committed to Rolen and Arroyo in 2012.

  5. Ethan D

    How about trading Votto to the Jays for Ricky Romero?

    A) It gives the Reds an ace lefty who is under team control through 2016 with a team friendly contract.

    B) The Jays get their coveted hometown hero to play 1st. They also have the money to re-sign him after his current contract expires.

    C) The Reds have now opened spots for Alonso and Grandal. The way I see it,if Alonso is serviceable in LF this would open a spot at 1st for Grandal. Ever since the was drafted Reds’ scouts and FO praised his ability to “play around the diamond”. This led me to believe that he wasn’t just a catching prospect but a possible heir to Votto. His switch hitting bat is almost ready (jumping from Rookie ball to AAA in only 118 games) and with him at 1st and Alonso in LF the Reds would be an offensive force built for the future.

    D) With having Grandal on the team this would free up space to trade Hanigan. Mesoraco would be the main catcher with Grandal being the backup. On most days they would trade off playing Catcher and 1st. On days they needed off entirely put Alonso at 1st and Heisey or something in LF.

    Reds batting order in 2012 if I were running the show: (I love me some pretend lineups)

    (Position/player/roughly years remaining of team control)

    4 Phillips 1yrs (unless there is an extension)
    7 Alonso 5yrs
    9 Bruce 6yrs
    2/3 Mesoraco 6yrs
    3/2 Grandal 6yrs
    5 Rolen 1yrs/Frazier 6yrs/Big Juan 5yrs
    8 Stubbs 4yrs
    6 Cozart 6yrs
    1 P

    Cueto 4yrs
    Romero 5yrs
    Chapman 5yrs
    Leake 4yrs
    Arroyo 2yrs
    Built for the future baby

  6. Matt WI

    @Jason1972: Yeah, that hurts to see it laid bare like that. Enter the person who responds by saying “I’m curious as to why people don’t think the Reds have money, they get $$$ from X and Y and Z” Maybe, but let’s operate within the framework that appears to be in play, regardless of what may or may not be hidden. The Reds need a clear plan and direction. I’m very uncomfortable moving on with the idea that the other teams in the division will just regress back to us.

  7. Sultan of Swaff

    @Ethan D: I agree with you in the sense that this team isn’t built to win now, but could be set up to compete for years by trading Votto. That said, it would take a lot more than Romero to do the deal. It would take Romero and Brandon Morrow, or one of those two plus Bautista. Morrow’s peripherals are excellent for a guy with such a terrible ERA (but his flyball tendancies wouldn’t play well at GABP). Maybe not suprisingly, there aren’t a ton of good trade matches for Votto since most of the big market teams have good first basemen. The Blue jays make the most sense, but you could make a case for the Angels, Dbacks, Mets, Dodgers, and Marlins as well.

  8. Jason1972

    This is why I don’t trade Votto until after 2012. Rolen and Arroyo go away and the Reds can really spend for an upgrade between 2012 and 2013. If I am the Reds I don’t trade Votto unless I am blown away by the deal, because there is a more realistic possibility of making a Brewer-like splash in the 2012 off season (assuming we don’t overspend on Phillips or sign dead weight to bad contracts). A genuine WS push at that point could establish enough attendance to make it possible to extend Votto.

    I still think this can be a playoff team in 2012, but 2013 is probably our best chance at winning it all.

    • Matt WI

      If I am the Reds I don’t trade Votto unless I am blown away by the deal, because there is a more realistic possibility of making a Brewer-like splash in the 2012 off season

      I like that line of thinking. Now if only the Reds would/could.

  9. Ethan D

    @Sultan of Swaff: I’d love to have Bautista but I seriously doubt they would trade him. He is too productive with too good of a contract. I’d say no to Morrow. He is inconsistant, injury prone, and headed into his age 27 season with only 2 seasons of control left. Plus he is Arb eligible. The only thing he really has going for him is his K/9 and BB/K. I think Votto for Romero straight up would make sense taking contract years and money into account.

  10. Dave Lowenthal

    @Ethan D: Ethan, if the Reds trade Votto for Romero, I will buy a plane ticket, tell my wife and daughter I’m sorry in advance, fly to Cincinnati, do some terrible things to Jocketty, pull the plug on RLN, and then voluntarily check into the local psych ward in the greater Cincy area.

    • dn4192

      @Ethan D: Ethan, if the Reds trade Votto for Romero, I will buy a plane ticket, tell my wife and daughter I’m sorry in advance, fly to Cincinnati, do some terrible things to Jocketty, pull the plug on RLN, and then voluntarily check into the local psych ward in the greater Cincy area.

      Sad thing is, that might be the best we could hope for since most teams would shy away from trading for Votto given his contract status.

  11. Travis G.

    Trading Votto this offseason would be a titanic mistake, because it would douse a lot of the fan goodwill the Reds have earned and set the team back at least another year. If anything, 2012 is the year to boost payroll to take advantage of what should be a weaker division.

    I just don’t see a match for Votto that brings enough return for the Reds if they still intend to compete, as they could and should. It’s as crazy to count on Alonso and Grandal picking up the slack as it was to count on Gomes to replicate his career year and Rolen to stay healthy and productive for 120+ games. I’ll give them a pass on expecting Arroyo and even Volquez to offer league-average or better production.

  12. CP

    @Travis G.: I’m a huge Votto fan but its not a mistake to trade him unless the trade stinks. Romero straight up is terrible imo but once you start adding to it (Brett Lawrie, for example), the trade becomes more interesting. I think fans need to remember the Adrian Gonzales trade…the Red Sox gave 4 prospects (2 elite or near-elite) to obtain a guy that was completely unsignable by the Pads, in the last year of his contract. Doing nothing with Votto is an acceptable option for at least one more season.

    Maybe its just me, but a deal between WJ and Anthropoulos would make me feel pretty uneasy. Anthropoulos has really crushed old school-type GMs in his deals…

    • OhioJim

      @Travis G.: ……I think fans need to remember the Adrian Gonzales trade…the Red Sox gave4 prospects (2 elite or near-elite) to obtain a guy that was completely unsignable by the Pads, in the last year of his contract.Doing nothing with Votto is an acceptable option for at least one more season……

      The relative positions of the Reds and Pads are vastly different. The last thing the Reds need right now is more prospects. They already have a bench full of prospects that matched with a league average pitching staff from top to bottom, rotation to pen would probably contend for the division title next year.

      If Votto is traded in anything less than a blockbuster which brings back a megastar approaching his own magnitude or at least two clearly established stars with very favorable contract situations for the club, the deal will be nothing more than a salary dump.

  13. Redsfanx

    I hope they have a plan, but I doubt it. Votto should stay for 2012. Let Cordero go and use that money for a good starting pitcher. Chapman becomes the closer. Alternate Heisey and Alonso in leftfield. It looks like Francisco is the successor to Rolen at third and Cozart is the shortstop. Let Cairo and Renteria go and Frazier becomes the backup infield guy. We need Stubbs speed and defense but drop him down to seventh in the batting order. Then develop a trade to strengthen the relief pitching.

  14. pinson343

    @Redsfanx: Chapman should be starting next season. He’ll be more valuable in that role in the long run. Also Price has been lobbying for him to start, saying that it’s the best way to work on Chapman’s command. I agree with that, and Chapman has to improve his command before he can be consistently effective, whatever his role is.

  15. pinson343

    Don’t know where else to post this. Ramon is catching tonite. So is Hanigan hurting or has Arroyo lost his right to dictate who his catcher is ?

  16. Sultan of Swaff

    I’d really love to see the Reds target James Shields. The Rays need catching (Grandal), cheap back of the rotation arms (check), and bullpen help. It could be one of those deals where they’d accept quantity over quality per se. Their farm system is stocked and their budget is capped at $40mil, so I don’t see how they keep the guy.

  17. pinson343

    @Sultan of Swaff: Love to see that too. Or make the Mariners an offer they can’t refuse for King Felix. The Mariners need some young hitters with pop, we’ve got a few of those. (I’m NOT talking about Votto or Bruce, we can give then plenty without touching those two.)

  18. Bob Purkey

    Chapman is a luxury that this team can no longer afford @ $5.5-$6MM per year. You saw it again last night. He needs to develop consistancy in multiple pitches, which he clearly does not have right now to be either the closer or a “starter in progress.” By the time that he gains that, the Reds will have paid him $24MM and he will be a free agent. Trade him now and use that money for something that the Reds can really use-______________(fill in the many potential blanks here!) I believe that there are some rich clubs who would find having Chapman a marketing bonanza

  19. George Culver

    There is no plan. There is only discord in the ranks between the manager, GM and an owner caught between the two sides wanting them to play nice because that’s how he runs the fruit business and it works there. But, Bob better realize that the business of baseball is not the same as any other business and if he doesn’t give over the complete authority to someone to act and decide the ship will drift aimlessly. This authority should include upon the hiring and dismissal of subordinates. If every one is not on the same page then get off the team.

    I think you all know what I am speaking of and it’s not Mike Brown although it may sound similar.

  20. OhioJim

    @pinson343: Has a contender lost a catcher in the last few days? If so maybe Hanigan has been traded to help get them through to the playoffs and be a bench coach once they get there (only half kidding) 😕

  21. OhioJim

    @OhioJim: Sanity prevails. Fay has posted that Hanigan is suffering from back spasms and is “day to day”…..

  22. earl

    I don’t think there is any way beyond catastrophic injury or it being September 2012 to have Grandal and Mesoraco both as the Reds catchers next season. Clubs just don’t go with two rookie catchers, I just don’t think that happens. You would see Corky with the Reds before that happens.

    I think Mesoraco pairing up with Hanigan is a pretty good mix going into next year – you got one catcher with bat upside and you got a solid defensive catcher that is ok at the plate and has some good experience. They must have not had any offers that were worth anything for Hernandez, as not dealing him to a contender especially considering the Giants, Red Sox and Yankees are both kind of thin there didn’t make a lick of sense. I have to give kudos to Hernandez, as he has been a real nice player for the Reds over the past few seasons, but I’d say he is going to move on to another club next year.

    I think between Heisey, Alonso and Stubbs along with Bruce, the outfield to me is looking better going into next year than this year. I think Stubbs needs to get pushed by Heisey with getting more starts in center- Stubbs should not automatically be written in day in out as the starting centerfielder. Sappelt does not really impress me.

    The Reds will sign a veteran shortstop. Only young prospect that looked good was Cozart and he is coming back from season ending surgery. Janish can’t hit and his glove seemed to slip this year. I think in hindsight, we might have been better off just keeping Keppinger a few years ago and I would not be surprised he might be that vet ‘utility/ss’ they could bring back.

    At third, I think we just got to hope Scott Rolen has at least another good 1/2 season in the tank. I think it is doubtful, but he will have had some time to heal up by next spring. Francisco definitely can run into a fastball. Frazier might be better to start in Cincy, especially if they work him around the diamond in spring training so he can play some short and maybe some first – being a utility guy.

    I think the early injuries to Cueto and Bailey might have led the Reds to use Arroyo before he was really ready and then combined with Wood and Leake was perhaps the achilles heel of the club in 2011. By the time the starting pitching came around, I think the early overwork on the bullpen then came to haunt in the second half. Some of this can be fixed by just having Cueto and Bailey around for 20 more starts next year and maybe Arroyo getting back to health over the off season. Chapman is a total mystery- who knows where he fits. Volquez – I don’t care, I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls it together again, but it could be someplace else at this point. I’m just really glad his ego wouldn’t allow him to take that fat contract the Reds offered.

    The bullpen is harder one to crack, as some of the guys like Ondrusek and Masset were just not as good as in 2010 or at least bad in streaks. I wouldn’t spend any money on Cordero, as it looks like there is going to be a ton of relievers available.

    As for deals – the Reds obviously need a big right handed bat to put in the middle of the lineup, a top line starter, probably a left handed reliever and a shortstop that is at least league average. I think the nice thing about Alonso and Francisco’s late season call ups is that they got some air time for doing OK and they are probably more of a trading commodity now than at the beginning of the season.

  23. earl

    I don’t mind if the Reds give Dontrelle another shot provided it is a lefty/long man out of the pen. He shouldn’t be in the starting 5.

  24. JerBear

    What about Centerfield? Isn’t that as much of a question going forward as Left Field? Stubbs has over 300 more at bats then Chris Heisey and has less HRs and RBIs. It’s not necessarily a debate between those 2 players, but those numbers speak to the fact that Stubbs has not had a good year. It seems like he regressed this year.

    I think there are 3 guys who could become everyday players that deserve a chance…Alonso, Mesaraco, and Francisco. I’m not so sure on Frazier, Valiaka, Sappelt. I think they are major leaguers but maybe not everyday guys.

    Then there is Stubbs and Heisey. I think both are in question still. Stubbs’ speed keeps most people in his camp, but he had a bad year this year, and you can’t go with both Heisey and Stubbs everyday, along with Francisco, Mesaraco. THey need at least a veteran hitter I think who doesn’t strike out like all those guys.

    I kind of understand trading Votto, but does it really make the Reds better in 2012 or 2013 without Votto? Man I don’t know. I guess it depends on how good they think Alonso and the other young guys are. I kind of lean toward letting him ride out his contract, and then if the REds are just terrible in 13 for whatever reason, then trade him at the deadline.

    I’m not sure what direction they should go. I’m not sure anyone is!

  25. OhioJim

    @JerBear: Agree with you CF should be considered open. I am not ready to give up on Sappelt yet. He has less than a full season in at AAA because of his injury this season. Start him out at AAA again next year and see how he develops. I think there is a chance Frazier could make the team next year out of ST as a super utility guy. Given his age and performance to date, the ACL injury could be the end of the line for Valaika as a legit, prospect. Of course any of these guys, particularly Sappelt and Frazier, could end up in a deal to a team not so blessed as the Reds with minor league depth.

  26. David

    There are two possible plans which could be in play.

    Recognize LF/SS/3B are not the reason the 2011 Reds will fail to make the playoffs. The Reds have scored more runs than any other team in the NL. Replacement level production in LF/SS/3B is more than sufficient for the Reds to be contenders in 2012, provided they address their ACTUAL area of weakness.

    So, the Reds need to follow Milwaukee’s model and add a legitimate ace and No. 3 type starter to join Cueto, Leake, and Arroyo (who is not going anywhere thanks to that contract).

    Adding two starting pitchers of that caliber may mean losing all of Bailey, Wood, Alonso, Francisco, Grandal, Cozart, Sappelt, Frazier and Heisey (assuming Chapman, Hamilton and Mesoraco are untouchable).

    Who is available? Who partners well?

    Aces –
    James Shields
    Josh Johnson
    Gio Gonzalez
    Felix Hernandez

    No. 3 Types –
    Scott Baker
    Jair Jurrjens
    Anibal Sanchez
    Chad Billingsley

    Adding two of these pitchers or a similar equivalent could be the exact type of move Cincinnati needs to mortgage long sustained success in lieu of a two-year window of opportunity to go for it all.

    Blow it all up and start again, this time building around a core of Cueto, Leake, Chapman, Bruce, Alonso, and Mesoraco.

    Doing so would mean saying goodbye to Rolen, Volquez, and Arroyo through DFA. Declining options on Cordero and Phillips and trading Votto.

    Going this route likely means bringing back at least two cornerstone pieces, a SP and probably a 3B/LF type. Guys wearing out their welcome or teams looking to add a Votto to be legitimate contenders. Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Texas could all be willing to give up top prospects for Votto.

    You’d have a lineup centered around Alonso, Bruce and Mesoraco, which probably won’t be all that bad depending on what you return for Votto in the pitching/OF/3B areas.

    Okay, so as I’m writing this I jump over to What do I see? The Reds are interested in signing Aramais Ramirez, bringing back Dusty Baker, and possibly Jocketty as well. SO… If the Reds were so inclined to do all three, I’d be left thinking, the Reds have no plan, now or in the future.

  27. redgamecock

    Redsfanx talks a lot of sense, but I agree that Chapman should start. Let’s see what he has. We’ll never know until he starts.
    I also want to know why NO ONE talks about shelving Stubbs. Why does everyone have a man crush on this guy? I watch the Reds a lot and I would call him 0-2 Stubbs. He seems like a nice guy, but he often fails to make contact and has a very low BA. I know he’s fast and plays good D, but give me Heisey and Alonso in center and left. It’s time to go with the kids.
    Also, I don’t care what pitchers we get, you don’t trade an MVP like Votto.
    We’re not far away. The Brewers got red hot. It’s their year.
    Shelve Stubbsie!!

  28. redgamecock

    I would add: get a manager that knows how to light a fire under young guys, not a veteran-friendly skipper like Dusty. Play the kids and find a guy who can inspire them and give them a chance.

  29. MikeC

    Before making any moves; such as, re-signing Cordero, the Reds ought to explore addressing their biggest need – startint pitching. The Mariners aren’t going to contend any time soon. They rank 30th in runs, BA, OBP and SLG. The Reds know what Seattle wanted from them for Cliff Lee. Would they accept similar for King Felix? He’s under contract through 2014 at $18m, $19m, $20m. The Reds will need to free up the $12m from Cordero in order to take on a contract like that. Maybe getting King Felix or Shields or any pitcher of that quality is just dreaming, but I would explore those options first.