Color me concerned. After the Reds fired Dusty Baker, a manager who had led the team to consecutive 90-win seasons and two trips to the post-season,* I had talked myself into the notion that the Reds would be aggressive in reshaping the roster. I was convinced that a team wouldn’t take a gamble on an unproven manager with a 90-win team and not help him out with some new players. At a minimum, you want the team to win more than 90 games so your decision to fire the 90-win guy doesn’t look, you know, stupid. Obvious, right?

[*You could say three times if you wanted to count that one-game public execution in Pittsburgh as the post-season. I’m not that generous. It wasn’t the post-season because I looked away for just a second and it was over. For me, no home games = not the post-season. That’s right, 2010 barely counted.]

Man, I was hopeful. Just two weeks ago, I used the words breathtaking and thunderbolt in describing my expectations. Hmm, those were the days of unbridled, and apparently foolish, optimism. And wow, that positive feeling didn’t last long. In less than a week, I’d lurched to the other extreme, worried the Reds felt boxed in and desperate enough to make a foolish trade.

I suppose this was the week I’d expected Walt Jocketty to make a big move or two. But as I sit here on Thursday night, watching one-by-one as the impact free agents sign with other clubs, reading about potential trading partners filling their needs without the Reds help, my post-Price enthusiasm is definitely fading.

Whee has turned into ennui.


Even incremental improvement no longer seems like a given. The 2014 Reds could be little more than a Choo-less version of the 2013 Reds. To refresh your memories, Shin-Soo Choo got on base more than 42% of the time and hit 21 home runs. Only three players in the game were better at those things, one of whom was Joey Votto. Don’t kid yourself, a Heisey/Schumaker/Hamilton platoon leading off isn’t filling Choo’s shoes.

A dedicated fan (and I count myself as one) can talk him or herself into anything. But when your reason for hope is that Devin Mesoraco might bat sixth, no wait, maybe fifth, and Aroldis Chapman might pitch 15 innings instead of 13 against St. Louis and Pittsburgh, well, you’re talking delusion more than optimism.

Jocketty’s plans — as we think we know them — haven’t worked out. Free agents were more expensive than he’d anticipated. The market for Brandon Phillips was softer than expected. Other teams wanted Homer Bailey, not Mike Leake. Chapman seems more entrenched in the bullpen than ever.

Cue the ennui puppy.

That said, here’s what I’m holding on to tonight. The utter failure of the Reds to make any meaningful moves (sorry Brayan and Skip) will motivate the front office to pony up the money to sign Shin-Soo Choo. Choo will probably be worth $20 million for a few more seasons. Heck, he earned $25-35 million last year, depending on how much you value a WAR. And that includes a huge negative hit on his defense for being miscast in centerfield. Choo’s next contract will be solid value for a few years and not so great for a couple.

It’s hard to look around the league and conclude anything other than that’s the modern price of doing business today. It’s inverted Moneyball. Market inefficiency is the next market efficiency. To find value, you have to overpay.

A big contract for Choo isn’t the way I’d have spent Bob Castellini’s money a month ago, but it’s probably what I’d do now. Given where we are. And face it, Choo back to the Reds isn’t impossible, but it is unlikely.

Yet every time I get discouraged, I think back to the expression on Castellini’s face as he watched from the front row as the baseball team he owns took their beating that day in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen complacency, and that wasn’t it. Bob Castellini knows the difference between necessary and sufficient. Firing Dusty Baker was the first not the second.

Maybe tomorrow will be the day for that thunderbolt.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 111 Comments

  1. I suppose there is reason to expect more from our ace this year than 3 trips to the DL. I assume a new hitting philosophy is in place.

    I’d think the risk of losing ground is far greater than the cost of signing Choo, or somebody similar.

    Maybe Hamilton IS ready,

  2. I agree with what you say, I think I have gone through much of the same feelings. I believe Jocketty is stuck looking for trading partners. He is trying to IMPROVE the club he has right now and other teams are not co-operating. I think there are going to have to be some deals made, but we may not see them until teams get to Spring Training.

    As far as slipping back, the Pirates may not have Burnett this year, the Reds are not necessarily going to slip much in the standings. I dont really know, if I did, then I would be a rich man. I am not.

  3. I think a couple months into the season people will be calling for Walt Jocketty to be fired once people finally realize this roster isn’t as good as everyone thinks it is. This team is average at best, and WJ has done nothing to improve the team.

  4. Here’s an article dealing with the Reds’ CF situation:

  5. yep, understand the feeling and angst. However, even if nothing else happens, I do find optimism in this for 2014:

    along with Votto and Bruce (and that maybe Mesoraco/Billy-H can be added to them at some point in 2014)

    I like to think the Reds will still have a good team for 2014: strong pitching, good defense, offense that has some bang to it. Maybe 2014 team likely not as oft mentioned a WS contender like pre-season 2013 team but still a team to be counted among those in 2014 playoff hunt.

    Go 2014 Reds. I read that is only some 50+ days till catchers/pitchers report. 😀

  6. This is only the second year of the draft pick compensation tied to those qualifying offers. Its a new phenomenon.
    I knew their was a hidden agenda to Scott Boras holding court last Wednesday afternoon at the Winter Meetings. We found out yesterday what part of that might be about, declining $140M. Boras gambled and lost using Choo’s money. Now he has to save face, and hold out for something close tot hat now. Boras lost a big client, Cano, to JZ. And it was JZ who got the $240M deal. Not Boras. Boras now risks losing other high profile clients to JZ and other agencies. Boras has to save face and he is using Choo and Kendrys Morales to do just that.
    Morales, another bungled Boras client negotiation, also has the draft pick comp. tied to him. Boras is holding some teams up and pitting some GMs against other GMs just to drive up the price of his guys. I hate that guy.
    It just seems to be a different type of off-season this year. Many teams have been idle or mostly idle waiting on something to happen. While other teams are aggressive and are getting after it.
    Its a little less than a full moon out. Bad moon rising with an impending thunderbolt.

  7. I too wish they could buy like a big market team. There are no options when the budget is spent. Choo is gone. This team either lives with the players they have or goes with the Marlins style strip mine. They are stuck with what they have and the rest of the baseball world knows it and they are not going to help.

    The real problem is with scouting and development. The organization just isn’t producing enough young talent especially compared with their nearest competitors. (yes, the birds ) The financial conditions of the Reds demand that they must excel in this department and they are not.

  8. I’m not as much concerned as much as I am wondering now. I would think someone more than Skip and Pena would be coming, also, even if it meant trading BP, bringing in someone new.

    But, then, I remember some things:

    1) There is still plenty of time. We aren’t going to hit the free agent market. If we bring in anyone, it’s going to be via trade. And, as far as that goes, that could be up to the last pitch in ST. The free agents are going out right now. Trades can occur anytime. And, Walt did say that we are probably going to make a change via trade rather than FA.

    2) With, hopefully, a full season of Cueto, Marshall, and Broxton, a full season of Devin, and a new field manager who was talking a good game, about trying to infuse a new type of attitude in the players, it’s not like (hopefully) this will be the exact same team we will have last season. But, it would be nice to see one new impact player.

    I do think we will be competitive. But, how much? I believe that’s going to depend upon Bryan Price and his staff right now.

  9. While I still think Walt has something big up his sleeve, I certainly hope it is not to jump at Choo at this point. That contract would simply be poison for too long. I would prefer they lock up Latos and Bruce (tack on a couple of more years to his current deal) with that money. Also, if Ervin proves to be the high OBP/good glove that many think him to eventually be, he may be in line for a “Tampa Bay” style team-friendly deal that buys out arbitration and a couple of years of free agency.

    When it comes to next year, I am still optimistic. Here are some things that will potentially help the Reds in ’14:

    -Pirates regress without Burnett and their bullpen becomes human.
    -Cardinals regress due to their hitting with runners in SP returning to earthly levels and some of that young pitching plateaus or regresses (think Shelby Miller down the stretch)
    -better lineup construction with Price.
    -better bullpen management with Price.
    -Reds buy in to defensive positioning metrics and more fully employ shifts.
    -healthy Cueto (fingers crossed).
    -late inning weapon (worth a couple of wins alone) with BHam coming off the bench from time to time.
    -more pinch hitting/defensive replacement options with better bench (assuming Hanahan is shown the way to Louisville)
    -BobSteve in the second half (potentially a bullpen weapon if needed)
    -Ervin in the second half (if needed)

    Am I satisfied with Walt standing pat?….No…..However, I have to assume that Walt has at least one big move that he intends to make within the next 50 days or so.

  10. The Nix brothers are still available.

  11. It was…Don’t worry, it’s not even Thanksgiving .. Then, Don’t worry, haven’t even had the winter meetings yet … then, Don’t worry, it’s not even Christmas yet.

    I’m rationalizing the lack of activity as Walt having to wait on potential trading partners, many who are waiting on how the dominoes fall after the Japanese pitcher either signs with a U.S. team, or stays in Japan. Then teams that didn’t get him, and don’t get Price from the Rays, etc., might be more interested in Leake or Homer or whoever, even packaged with Phillips if possible.

    But trying to stay optimistic is not easy.

  12. I find it interesting that the Astros are now rumored to be involved on Choo.

    Their first round pick is protected and therefore not in play where Choo is concerned.

    I’m wondering if they might be a “partner” with some other org to sign Choo as part of a sign and trade situation. Such arrangements haven’t really flourished in baseball but then they aren’t unheard of either. For example, it was this type of arrangement that put Josh Hamilton in a Reds uniform (draft and trade versus sign and trade to be exact).

    The Reds could be an organization that would be helped by such a sign and trade arrangement with Choo. They are stuck in a chicken/ egg situation in that they need to move substantial salary to compete for Choo but if they move the salary up front then don’t land Choo, then they would be in even more dire straits. But if they could find somebody else to sign Choo then trade him to the Reds after they had divested or as a part of divesting salary, that would change everything.

    Just fantasizing aloud about a situation which would seem to make little sense, i.e a competitor like Choo tying his career with the dead last org for a few more up front bucks….

    • @OhioJimI am not sure on this, but if you trade a free agent after signing him, then is he not a free agent at the end of the year. Get Choo for one year at over 20 million? No thanks.

      • @redmountain: This long time provision was removed in the latest CBA.

        But since we are just fantasizing anyway, isn’t one year of Choo for $20M worth a year of Bailey?

        • @OhioJim: One year of Choo would be worth a year of Bailey so long as we don’t have to use Pedro Villarreal as a pitcher.

  13. If nothing gives, then we have a projection of Hamilton being about as good at getting on base as Stubbs. This is not a great thing, but it may be what we will get this year. The Reds can win with that, maybe not the WS or NL or Central, but they are talented enough to contend.
    The problem is there are a lot of ifs here, be nice to know for sure what will happen wouldn’t it?

  14. I’m really not feeling too confident in the 2014 Reds, but I just KNOW that if they sign Choo to even close to what they’ve been saying his market value is out there, we’ll all be lucky to get half way through that contract before there’s nothing but regret.

    31-32 years old, and should be benched against left handed starters. Not 6-7yr/$102-140 worthy… 3 years into the contract he’ll almost be 35 years old, and you’ll still owe him 3-4yr/$51-80m… how is that going to be any better than the 4yr/$50m that BP is still owed?

    • @ToddAlmighty:

      I’ve been thinking this same thing. There are some who feel Choo’s skillset (that is, getting on base) will age well, but that is only a small fraction of the equation.

      It is pretty well known that speed and power decline quickly with age. Part of Choo’s value comes from his HRs, gap powers, and ability to steal. Add to the fact that he is already a subpar defender, and I can see Choo’s WAR rapidly declining into the “average” realm in the next few years.

      Additionally, the Reds have a few OF prospects that should be ready to step in in the next few years, whereas they have nothing in the pipeline that can replace BP.

      I’m really not sure signing Choo longterm would be in the club’s best interest, unless they intend to trade him next year or the year after.

      • @CI3J:

        Choo, I think, is a perfect example of people overvaluing on-base skills and turning a blind eye to the total package he represents.

        Think down the line a bit.

        Do you really want a 34 year old guy with an OBP of .380, not much power, no speed, and no ability to field his position? If he gets the contract he wants, that would be at the halfway point and all downhill from there.

        I understand BP is aging as well, but he at least was a GG caliber fielder at his position to begin with. Choo doesn’t even have a high starting point which to decline from.

        • @CI3J: I don’t which one of you I should believe…

          “Here’s the thing I have said before and I still think people aren’t considering: Baseball players are lasting longer and staying productive for longer than they ever have in history. This is due to the improved knowledge of nutrition, more advanced workouts and rehab techniques, etc.”

          -CI3J, 4/11/2012, “Report: Reds/Phillips reach 6-year, $72.5 million deal (updated)”

          Just for fun:

          “Personally, I think Phillips is going to outperform the numbers posted here. Barring major injuries, the Reds got the better of this deal”


          • @CP: By the way, I mostly agree with the 2013 version of you. There IS lots of reasons not to sign Choo to a long term deal, and yes, the aging curve is one of them. Choo’s defense is fine for a corner OF and his OBP skills are unlikely to go away. I don’t think his speed is really something that makes him valuable anymore, but yeah, if he is still putting up a 0.380-0.400 OBP in year 4 of a 6-7 year deal, it’ll be a miracle.

            The biggest issue with signing Choo imo, is adding another big contract to an already burgeoning payroll. The Reds are likely going to extend 1 of their 3 big pitchers, Jay Bruce will possibly be up for extension.

            The Reds still should behave more like TB, less like the Yankees imo.

          • @CP:

            I do stand by those statements. While it’s true that players do stay productive longer than they used to, no one can beat Father Time in the long run. I don’t see why everyone is gung ho to sign Choo long term while in the same breath lamenting giving BP a longterm contract. I think they are looking only at the offensive side of things (nevermind that BP was injured this past year) and forgetting completely that Choo has to play defense too.

          • @CI3J: Choo will offer more value defensively (at least not negative) when he can play left-field. You’re right that he’ll be in decline during the contract, but he’ll still be better than most players. Say each WAR is worth $6 million, Choo earned $31 million last season, while BP earned $15.6 million. And remember that number for Choo is sandbagged by his poor defense in CF. If Choo and BP each decline by $5 million/year, Choo still remains much more valuable. BP’s value, taking into account his fast start and poor finish (neither of which are likely to be repeated over an entire season), was right around what you’d expect. His offensive value was negative. Without his defense, which empirically ages quickly for middle infielders, he’d be replacement level.

          • @Steve Mancuso: I always see these numbers saying how much WAR is worth, but I can NEVER agree with it. According to your 1 WAR = $6m equation, the $800,000 the Reds paid Izturis last year was actually him getting UNDERpaid. His 0.4 WAR would be worth $2.4m, so since the Reds got $1.6m of “extra value”, they should re-sign Izturis?

            Corky Miller? He was apparently worth $3m last season.
            Derrick Robinson? $4.2m

            As you can tell from my name, I am a big Todd Frazier supporter.. but in no world in existence was he worth $16.2m last season.

            People throw out all these $ per WAR numbers, but if 2.0 WAR was a no frills BASIC level MLB starter, that means if your starting 8 players were all absolutely average, then they’d each be worth $12m. That’d just be $96m for nothing but 8 2.0 WAR players. No good players, no even better than average players… no pitchers, no bullpen, no bench, and you’re already almost at $100m.

            I just don’t see how that works.

        • @CI3J: I wouldn’t necessarily say Choo won’t have any power, any speed, and any ability to field his position when he is 34. Now, as much as a 24 year old? Most likely not, of course. But, 34 isn’t exactly an old man. And, Choo’s style of play I believe would lend himself to being productive probably through till he’s 36. Choo’s weakness right now, IMO, is that he has an agent that is overvalueing his client’s skills. Does Choo have some power? Sure. $20 million per year power? Nope. Does Choo field well? One can easily say sure. But, $20 million per year fielder? Nope. Does Choo have some speed? Sure. $20 million per year speed? Nope. I would think what others have thought all along, about $10-14 million per year would probably be what he gets. More than that, then people are overvalueing his abilities.

    • @ToddAlmighty: A counter argument to offering a 32yr old a 7 year deal would be Beltran. At the end of this current deal he signed with the Yankees he’ll be around the same age as Choo. I think many of the same people would have scoffed at signing Beltran to a 7 year deal 4 years ago, but he’s obviously been able to age well so far. And he’s had far more significant injury history than Choo has had. Just something to chew (Choo) on.

      • @hotto4votto: Just having an age difference doesn’t make a shorter and longer contract the same. If Beltran is absolutely horrible or gets brutally injured in 2014, the Yankees are only on the hook for $45m. If Choo is absolutely horrible or gets brutally injured in 2014, they would be on the hook for $105m+.

        Shorter contracts are shorter contracts. You’ve got to carry it on your books for less time. Plus comparing a Yankees contract with a Reds contract is like trying to compare the US Military Budget with the Turkmenistan Military Budget. The Yankees spent what, like $225m last season on payroll? The Beltran contract in *whole* would only be 20% of their payroll last year. The Reds spent like $110m last season? The Choo contract in whole would be at least 95%, to as much as 127% of the Reds payroll last year.

        Chooed on and spat out.

  15. After that broke about Boras turning down the Yankees, I thought about the situation with Ryan Madson. If everything else falls through, the Reds might offer Choo a 1 year filler contract. It would probably have to be for 20+ but no long term ramifications.

    At the same time, I also thought about how Boras (and circumstances) really screwed things up for Madson. As far as I know he is unsigned at the moment.

    • @HOF-13: A rumor is that Boras is waiting on a Jayson Werth type overpayment mega-offer from the Astros. I was surprised when I heard Boras interviewed on mlbnetwork (before I heard of the rumor) and he emphasized that Choo would be valuable for a “rebuilding” team. Maybe this is what he was referring to.

      Boras is willing to gamble to get the big bucks. Sometimes it backfires, as with Madson. I’m with you, I hope it backfires this time and the Reds get Choo in 2014 with a big 1 year offer.

  16. I see we have a lot of naive Reds fans on this site. I don’t understand the optimism. Let’s face the facts…we have a very good pitching staff, not great but above average to say the least. We also have a very inconsistent pitching staff. You tell me the name of the starting pitcher you could give the ball to and almost guarantee a great outing when we desperately need a win then I will shut up right now. How do you win with an above-average inconsistent pitching staff? No you don’t need a great bullpen, although don’t get me wrong a bullpen is very important. OFFENSE! One of the most glaring differences I noticed between us and St. Louis last year was St. Louis was great at hitting the “mistake pitch” while our best hitters were simply fouling them off or striking out. Personally, I think Matt Holiday is one of the most underrated great hitters in MLB and it pains me to say this but I’d gladly take Holliday over Votto if St. Louis would be up for it. For such a great hitter Votto fouled off soooo many mistake pitches right down the middle last year it was embarrassing. In my opinion Joey Votto having a 15 pitch at bat because he continued to foul fastballs right over the heart of the plate and then eventually walking is not a good at bat, not for him. Until the Reds start adding some consistent hitters this team will never make it out of the 1st rd of the playoffs. Besides the first two games in San Francisco two years ago the offensive production in the playoffs has been downright dreadful the past 3-4 playoff appearances (Dare I mention the series against Philly). Also, I loved Choo but his average against left handed pitching last season continues to get overlooked and I can’t understand why. He literally disappeared when a left hander was on the mound. Inconsistent/underachieving hitters has been teams downfall and it will continue to be so until Jocketty adds some hitters that aren’t afraid of striking out when they have two strikes on them. Hitters that can carry a pitching staff if need be and the fact is we just don’t have that even with Votto, Bruce, and Phillips.

  17. I too was hoping there’d be some trade where the Reds would pick up a big bat. But none of the specific rumors I’ve heard would help. Teams want Homer Bailey on the cheap, why would the Reds want to do that ? I wouldn’t trade Homer except for significant value, even if he’s only with the Reds 1 more year.

    I haven’t given up hope for some thing major, but this point I’m pretty much resigned to a lesser trade that would add position player depth, such as a power bat off the bench who can play some OF. If WJ doesn’t even go for adding depth, I’ll be ticked off.

  18. Here’s an optimistic prediction of what the Reds will do in 2014 with no assumptions about upgrading their current roster:–mlb.html

    I was surprised by it, but then saw the author is a college senior from Cincinnati. I don’t quite share his optimism, but like some of his specific points. He thinks Price can make a big difference as manager, in particular in terms of his use of Chapman. He’s OK with Chapman in the bullpen but wants him used in a much different way, which some of us (including me) have suggested. He suggests Marshall as closer.
    (I’d like to see Marshall and Hoover, based on matchups.)
    He expects a better year from Joey in 2014 (so do I, and I’m talking about defense and slugging pct).

    Anyway if you want a cheerful holiday read, it might be what you’re looking for.

    • @pinson343: I personally like Marshall, but making him a closer is a BIG mistake. He has had several opportunities with the Cubs and the Reds and was not successful. He is a situational LH, not a closer. It would be better to use LeCure and Hoover along with Chapman and Marshall, let them all close games.

      • @redmountain: We keep getting back to slots and roles, don’t we? Anybody on the staff should be able to get 3 outs in an inning. If Marshall can’t do that, it’s time to part ways with him.

        The slots and roles pitching philosophy is why we have 3 redundant arms on the roster and a bench that includes three or four .184 hitters.

        • @Johnu1: I’m fine with situational lefty. Sometimes lefty-lefty matchups have their merits, and I could envision situations where in a perfect world I’d like to have a lefty in the bullpen. However, I do not envision Marshall as a LOOGY and further he’s not paid as one. Otherwise, I totally agree — the bullpen should be built around talent and matchups, not “roles”.

        • @Johnu1: I don’t disagree with the theory that having rigid slots for the bullpen is too limiting, but the oft-repeated refrain that anyone on the staff should be able to get 3 outs in an inning is too facile. 3 outs eventually, but after how much damage? Obviously, some pitchers are more reliably capable of pitching a clean inning than are others.

          • @Johnu1: I don’t disagree with the theory that having rigid slots for the bullpen is too limiting, but the oft-repeated refrain that anyone on the staff should be able to get 3 outs in an inning is too facile.3 outs eventually, but after how much damage?Obviously, some pitchers are more reliably capable of pitching a clean inning than are others.

            An MLB pitcher should average no more than 1 hit or 1 walk per inning. Clearly, that’s an average. No, I don’t expect a starter to come in cold and pitch to 3 hitters. Any relief pitcher, however, should be able to get 3 outs without giving up the farm. If he can’t, he should not be on the roster.

  19. I still think the Blue Jays are the most likely trading partner.. at least if it’s a big trade

  20. or the WhiteSox

  21. Walt usually pulls a significant deal when we all least expect it. The Stubbs and Latos deals come to mind. He’ll do something.

  22. 1) The key to this team will be healthy pitching. If our starters make 150 starts or so we’ll be in good shape, especially if the key bullpen guys also stay healthy.

    2) We won more games with an OBP hole at the top of the order two years ago than we did with Choo last year. Offensively, whoever plays CF this year needs to do better than Stubbs, not better than Choo, for us to be competitive.

    3) I hope Price will bat Bruce behind Votto. If the #5 hitter provides even a hint of protection then we may be able to get out in front of teams a little more often, playing to one of the strengths of the team when healthy–the bullpen.

    4) I trust in Walt. The only thing I’m not sure about is whether he’s building for this season or next season when Hamilton’s got a legitimate chance to be ready and productive. His to-do list should start and end with trying to lock down Latos, then Bailey. (If he can also use this moment to “buy low” on Cueto on an incentives-laden extension he should.)

    • @Eric the Red: Great point about Cueto. There is nothing wrong with his arm. If he wants to sign for two more years at below market, let him. He has shown a willingness to do so in the last. From what I understand, he is very dedicated with conditioning, etc. It would be nice to have Latos locked up, Cueto for a couple of more years, Cingrani, and Stephenson as the “sure things for the next five years or so. They’ll get a comp. pick out of Homer and they may even get one out of Leake.

  23. Hamilton seems to have talent that other teams cannot adjust to. Lock up Bailey, work BHam in, make better use of Chapman … This is a very good team. The money is crazy right now. Sometimes the best deals are the ones that don’t happen. They have enough to make the playoffs as it is.

    I’m excited about the coming year. I thought years ago that Jocketty’s best move was Price. Still do.

  24. None of us really know what the payroll limit is, but I think this is where the bullpen contracts, Phillips, and even some of the smaller deals like Ludwick and Hannahan end up hurting (a million here or there and pretty soon you are talking real money). My sense is they have the money to extend Latos or Bailey, or add another significant piece, but not to do both. That leaves them a little bit between stools in terms of what to do.

    Given the choices left, I would try and lock up the pitchers rather than make a seven year deal for Choo or overpay in prospects or dollars for the few position players that are available. With good starting pitching, the window is always open. If Bailey really is not open to resigning (and I have not been able to find any source for that rumor) then maybe you look to move him depending on how the season goes.

    I would love to see Choo back, but the history of long deals for position players is not good, and I would rather keep the flexibility for future years than go all in on Choo and then lose Latos, Bailey and maybe even Cueto in the next couple years.

    • None of us really know what the payroll limit is

      This is an important point. There’s at least one school of thought (I know, because I started it) that the Reds can afford to increase payroll to $160 million by 2017. In that world, they could afford long term contracts with Votto, Bruce, Bailey, Latos and Choo and still field the rest of the team.

      I’m for locking up the pitchers ahead of signing Choo, if that’s the choice. But I also think people are underestimating the impact of subtracting Choo’s bat and OBP.

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        I’m for locking up the pitchers ahead of signing Choo, if that’s the choice. But I also think people are underestimating the impact of subtracting Choo’s bat and OBP.

        Yes, that about sums it up. I have seen comments alluding to Choo not being that important since the Reds performed equally good or even better with Stubbs hitting leadoff. That viewpoint simply ignores all the mitigating factors and lumps Choo and Stubbs into a vacuum. Could the Reds win 90+ games in 2014 without Choo leading off? Certainly, if the rest of the lineup steps up to cover the lose of Choo’s production. Hamilton and Phillps could both put up a .340-.350 OBP in the #1 and #2 holes. Votto could win the MVP with another 1.000+ OPS. Bruce could follow Votto in the lineup and finish 2nd in MVP with 40 HR & 120 RBI. Ludwick could put up another .500 SLG hitting behind Bruce. Mesoraco and Frazier could add an .800 OPS from the #6 & #7 holes. Cozart could win a SS and GG hitting in the #8 hole. It could happen, but it won’t. If the Reds had not had Choo leading off last season, the Reds would not have come close to winning 90 games. The Old Cossack just loves him some Billy hamilton, but HE IS NOT READY! I can’t argue if the Reds do not sign Choo because he simply priced himself out of GABP. The problem is where is plan B? Cost effective options were available to mitigate the loss of Choo, but to this point WJ has done nothing to mitigate that loss, and it is a BIG loss.

        • @Shchi Cossack: So effectively what we are saying is that all the teeth-gnashing over the dugout staff was really just great theater.

          Nobody on this team is capable of picking up his game?

          The difference between 97 and 90 wasn’t the team, it was the Astros.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I thought that I saw in the papers a week or two ago where Jocketty explicitly said the Reds don’t take forward money as a given and aren’t budgeting that way. Personally, I hope that you’re right, but I dunno.

        • @walshjp: In fact, here’s the quote:

          “The Reds’ local TV contract is up after the 2016 season, and that money has been the driving factor in escalating payrolls. The Reds get good TV ratings, so they could be in line for more money – as long as that bubble doesn’t burst between now and when a new contract is signed.

          Jocketty said Joey Votto’s 10-year extension, which kicks in this season with him taking a $5 million pay cut, wasn’t drafted with a TV windfall in mind.

          “We haven’t gotten that money yet, so we haven’t spent it,” Jocketty said. “I don’t think the Votto deal was predicated on any TV deal, it was more on how we thought the revenues would grow as a whole over a period of time and what we’d be able to afford.”

          I don’t know what that means, but I’m having a hard time understanding why they’d be surreptitious with an increasingly angsty fan base.

  25. I am not sure why fans continue to base judgements on issues when all the facts surrounding why something is or isn’t happening isn’t available to us. We have no idea if Walt hasn’t tried to make changes and either couldn’t or didn’t find enough value available to make a move. Also we are so desperate for a move now we want the Reds to overspend for Choo? Are we not also now upset because they overpaid for Brandon? Why not just take a deep breath, relize it’s only December, enjoy a great NFL season and start to the NBA season and see what roster Walt gives to Price come opening day and then look at what we have and not fret over something we have no control and lack of full information.

  26. It must be the Christmas season, Steve is writing about what is not happening because he has nothing better to do and there must be something online to show followers that something needs to happen. The 2014 Reds will be what they are, A pot full of questions, hopes, and maybe’s. As others have expressed the 7 year deal for a plus 30 year old player would cripple the Reds so that isn’t going to happen unless Santa leaves a bag full of free money under the tree for Bob C. Pitching is what makes clubs solid and we have that. The first 40 games next year will have the impact that will motivate other clubs to come to the Reds. My hope is that the Yankees, as other teams, are waiting to see how the pitching shapes up before thay do any real trading. The value of a solid starter or reliever (Bailey, Chapman) when your ace is on the DA for the season can work wonders on how an owner and GM decide to spend money. Critical thinking is why management makes the big bucks. Remember the first pitch of the season is months away and Steve will doing these types of stories to generate interest because there isn’t anything else going on.
    Everybody have a great Christmas and New Year.

  27. I feel the ennui. A couple minor bench moves, no movement at the winter meetings, big FA signings elsewhere, and the team’s biggest free agent remains unsigned while the Reds front office appears to be moving on without making tangible moves to replace his production. All of that is frustrating.

    I wonder though, if the offseason is really passing the Reds by or if it just feels like it. Taking the post as a prompt, I wondered how late into the offseason we really are and how many impact signings are still to come.

    I went back and looked at last years list of top free agents (from MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes), and looked up the dates that the top 25 FA signed. Using today as an arbitrary line of demarcation (12/20), we can see that 15 of the top 25 were signed by December 20th:

    Player Name, Date Signed, FA Rank
    David Ortiz 11/6 #13
    Torii Hunter 11/16 #20
    Melky Cabrera 11/20 #18
    BJ Upton 11/28 #5
    Russell Martin 12/1 #21
    Angel Pagan 12/3 #11
    Marco Scutaro 12/4 #23
    Hiroki Kuroda 12/6 #9
    Dan Haren 12/7 #8
    Zack Greinke 12/10 #1
    Shane Victorino 12/13 #12
    Anibal Sanchez 12/14 #4
    Josh Hamilton 12/15 #2
    Stephen Drew 12/17 #24
    Ryan Dempster 12/19 #16

    And these 10 Players were signed after 12/20:
    Player Name, Date Signed, FA Rank
    Cody Ross 12/22 #22
    Nick Swisher 12/23 #6
    Edwin Jackson 1/2 #7
    Adan Laroche 1/8 #15
    Rafael Soriano 1/15 #17
    Joe Saunders 1/17 #25
    Napoli 1/22 #14
    Shaun Marcum 1/30 #19
    Michael Bourn 2/12 #10
    Kyle Lohse 3/25 #3

    And also worth noting, there were a couple big trades that went down after Christmas:
    Joel Hanrahan Trade 12/26
    Justin Upton/Martin Prado Trade 1/24

    So what might this picture tell us about this offseason?

    Last year, the top free agents went quickly last season – Greinke (1), Hamilton (2), Anibal Sanchez (4), BJ Upton (5).
    However, the market for the next tier of FA really started to develop after the winter meetings, into and late into January (#6, #7, #10, #14, #15, #17, #19, #22, #25).

    This year appears to be almost identical – the top FA – Cano (1), Ellsbury (2), McCann (4) are gone. But nine players in the top 25 remain unsigned – Choo (3), Tanaka (5), Ervin Santana (6) Garza (7) Burnett (9) Ubaldo Jimenez (11) Stephen Drew (14) Nelson Cruz (17) Arroyo (23). So we have those signings and hopefully a couple surprise trades to look forward to.

    So while the view is certainly quiet from the Reds perspective and it seems like nothing has happened or will happen, last year’s offseason offers hope that there are plenty of thunderbolts to come in January (and sometimes into February and March).

    • @Tony Liao: I’m with you on there’s still time.

      But take a look at that list of top 25 free agents who haven’t signed. They’re almost all starting pitchers, which the Reds aren’t looking to sign (other than maybe Arroyo). The Reds won’t be looking at Drew, because of Cozart. That leaves Nelson Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo. Given those two, I’d definitely put Castellini’s money on Choo.

      I had hopes that a few clubs would perceive Phillips’ contract as not upside-down yet and that he could have been traded in a package for a hitting upgrade, maybe an OF. Then use Mike Leake to get a 2B replacement (Nick Franklin?). But the market for BP *appears* to be soft. Maybe Toronto. Maybe Atlanta. Can the Yankees really be counting on Brian Roberts, who will probably get injured at his press conference?

      I don’t think Jocketty’s trade window is closed. I still expect him to pull off something surprising – but remember the Latos and Choo trades were made this week in past years.

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        You’re right the remaining FA are SP, so for the Reds going the free agent route would mean either be Cruz or Choo.

        For those hoping the Choo price comes down, Bourn and Lohse (both Boras clients) were the last to sign on 2/12 and 3/25, respectively. So we’d be in for a long wait, at the very least.

        Cruz is rumored to be looking at something like 4yr/$60million, or something similar to the Jhonny Peralta contract (both were suspended for PEDS, Peralta didn’t seem to be affected but Cruz does).

        Short of those two options, I think its pretty clear that the Reds are going to have to improve via trade. Then the question is going to be whether to dip into the farm one more time, trade BP which opens another hole, trade a starter and sign one of the FA starters (probably Arroyo), trade Chapman, or some combination of those.

        One good thing about Walt (although its a bad thing from the perspective of people trying to speculate) is that he keeps the trade rumors completely locked down until the moment they are released. There was nothing about Latos or Choo until they were done and the story broke. So if we get something, expect true lightning bolts.

  28. And I wouldn’t totally, 100% rule out that the Reds might trade Chapman. It would be the smart move assuming he’ll only be pitching three dozen important innings next year. Last season, Chapman pitched 13 innings against St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Mike Leake pitched 41. Logan Ondrusek pitched more innings against St. Louis and Pittsburgh than Chapman did.

  29. I said last week this team is starting to feel an awful lot like the Brewers of around 5 years ago. All the pieces were in place – MVP-caliber bats in the lineup, solid pitching. They were primed to unseat the Cards as the class of the NLC. And then everything just fell apart. You can point to losing Prince Fielder, and that was certainly a hit, or the Ryan Braun drama, but more than anything it just felt like they lost their momentum. They didn’t really try to improve from year to year, instead relying on their superstars to carry the load. An injury here, a suspension there, a loss to free agency there and all of a sudden they’re right at the bottom of the division even with one of the best players in baseball. Sound familiar to anyone?

    At this point I think the only thing that makes a big impact this offseason is trading Chapman. Yes, Bailey could probably get you a great return, but his absence would hurt a lot more than Chapman’s. And Chapman could probably get you just about as much from the right team (Miami, I’m looking at you). If we take Walt at face value, I think it’s very smart to spend the money on extending Bailey. Of any player not named Votto on this team (and even including Choo), Bailey is easily the one I want locked up long term. Latos is close behind, but I’d take Bailey over Latos any day.

    So maybe Chapman gets us something like Giancarlo Stanton in a surprise mega trade. That would probably put us back at the top of the NLC next year. But that’s probably a long shot. So I’m preparing myself for a down year. Work out a long term contract for Bailey (and hopefully Latos), get Billy Hamilton some extended experience hitting at the major league level, give Mesoraco the playing time he’s earned, and maybe hope for a big year from Phillips to re-ignite some trade interest next offseason. But I’m not expecting playoffs if things keep going this way.

    • @eric nyc: eric – I agree with premise of Chapman as a big trade piece and importance of extending Bailey and/or Latos. However, thoughts of Stanton on the Reds I believe are not realistic. If Miami took that step/decision to cash Stanton in for prospects/young ML talent, then they would open it up for a bidding war(as they should) and teams like Texas, Boston, Detroit, Seattle(to match with Cano, yikes) would get involved to the point where Reds would have to gut rest of their minors to get Stanton. All those teams reportedly are much more flush with top-tier prospects than Reds and Texas/Boston supposedly check in regularly with Miami on Stanton. at least that’s way I view it happening.

      Stanton would look good in cincy red though. 🙂

    • @ernyc: Just curious, how does Stanton help with salary relief, the second base problem or the centerfield question. Answer: He doesn’t. So why does his name keep coming up? If you add Stanton you will then need to blow this team up and that would be dumb with the number of talented OF prospects the Reds have right now. The Reds were right to look at Gardner since he has only one year left.

      • @redmountain: I’ve toyed with the thought of moving Bruce to CF, for what it’s worth. But in that scenario, you don’t have your leadoff guy unless its BP/Cozart (yikes). If you can unload Ludwick, then Stanton could patrol LF and Hamilton in CF. But yeah, generally it seems to be a really, really unrealistic possibility.

      • @redmountain: Stanton doesn’t help with salary relief. At the moment I don’t think that’s our BIGGEST problem. I think Bob could be convinced to open up the wallet for a substantial improvement to the team. I don’t think Choo is worth $140 million, though. In any case, Stanton is just an example of a serious offensive upgrade that I think most of us are looking for. We don’t need pitching help.

  30. What if Boras realizes that the market for Choo has dwindled and Choo takes the Reds’ qualifying offer, hoping the free agent market next year is better? For whatever reason – the FAs signed this year by the big spenders don’t pan out, the OF FA market next year is weak. Choo works on hitting LH pitching and defense, making his value even higher. Wishful thinking, I know, because Choo would be a year older, which would affect his contract. Reds get their leadoff man and give BH a chance to improve in AAA.

    I’m comfortable with Choo at 5 years for $85M. And even that takes into account a huge increase in revenue from a new TV deal in 2016.

    Any more than that, and the Reds jeopardize their chances at keeping Latos, Cueto and Bailey, IMHO.

    • @D_Rad_G: The qualifying offer is done and gone. Once the offer is made and declined, it no longer exists. Of course, Choo could still sign a one-year contract for the reasons you describe, but the contract would be significantly higher than the $14MM+ of the qualifying offer. That could still work out well for Choo and the Reds. The available OF in next seasons FA class is sparse and Choo could be the class of the field if he puts up a season similar to his 2013 season. I know it violates the CBA, but maybe a handshake or wink-wink agreement to not extend a qualifying offer after 2014 would help in that regard.

  31. Watch out.
    The TB Rays are trying to trade for OF Jay Bruce.

    • @WVRedlegs:

      Where did you hear/read this?

    • @WVRedlegs: What would they be able to give up in return? They would have to give up Zobrist and a lot more. Price? Perhaps if they were to get Bruce it would make the dominoes start to fall, but I think this is the product of someone’s imagination.

      • @redmountain:

        My friend in Tampa emailed me. He said it was discussed on Tampa sports radio that Rays are looking for a big LH power bat, had contacted teams that had a couple of big LH bats. Bruce was one of the ones at top of the Rays list. They love his power and his contract. I hope the Reds do too.
        I am sure WJ gets inquiries on Bruce all the time. I wouldn’t give up Bruce for Price or Zobrist or both. If I’m WJ the discussions would start with Wil Myers and P Alex Cobb. Nothing less.

        • @WVRedlegs: Crazy to think that Bruce will only be 27 when the 2014 season finishes. Makes you wonder what Bruce would have been like if they had let him stay in the minors for that extra year or two for better plate discipline instead of rushing him out at 21. Maybe if he wasn’t rushed up, and then put into the dubious hands of Baker and Jacoby his entire major league life he could have made it to that next tier of player.

          • @ToddAlmighty: He could’ve been the Reds Mike Trout.

          • @ToddAlmighty: I still think Jay Bruce has an MVP season (or two) in him. And I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if 2014 was one of them. As streaky as he is, it’s not hard to imagine a season where he just has the hot months and somehow magically avoids the cold ones. String together 1 or 2 extra of Bruce’s hot months into one season and he runs away with the MVP and the Reds probably win 95-100 games.

  32. I agree that securing the long term contracts for the starting pitching be the top priority for the money spent.

  33. Let’s take a step back. The Reds wasted no time in firing Brook Jacoby and subsequently Dusty Baker. Based on that, Mr. Jocketty certainly believes that the talent is there but Dusty did not cultivate and motivate for them to be a successful organization. If the Reds do nothing, I definitely believe that Bryan Price will lead this club to more victories than Dusty. I am not saying that Don Long is the long lost hitting guru but he is a step up from Brook Jacoby. Jay Bruce is the only one that had a decent season. Votto was good but he was not Votto all season. Everyone else digressed last year. If everyone just plays to their potential, we should see a spike in victories and Price will manage his team much better than Dusty ever did. Am I concerned about Billy Hamilton in centerfield? Definitely. Will he be another Drew Stubbs? The jury is still out.

    • @icee82:

      Let’s take a step back. The Reds wasted no time in firing Brook Jacoby and subsequently Dusty Baker.

      I’d say they wasted a good three years, but that’s just me talking.

      • @Matt WI: 3 years of 90+ wins with a lineup that had few above average hitters hardly seems like a waste to me.

    • Everyone else digressed last year.

      I actually thought they were surprisingly direct through the year.

      Otherwise, you lost me at Jay Bruce being the only decent hitter on the team. If by decent, you mean outperforming expectations, then perhaps, but he wasn’t even the best hitter on the team.

  34. Wouldn’t that be great? To get Choo for one more year would be perfect. To take on Choo for 5 years would be bad. Pitching and OF are the two positions that have the most depth in the minors, so I would not take on any OF past next year. I would not be surprised to see the combination of Ervin, Yorman, and Hamilton ready sometime next year, certainly some of them will be ready. IMHO Bailey will not re-sign so he is a chip to be used in a trade. Perhaps he could get you Gardner and the amount of money would be rather neutral. The most pressing need is a lead-off hitter and trading Phillips opens up another hole. At this point, I might be inclined to keep him until a better opportunity presents itself.

  35. I’d trade Ludwick and Phillips for a Sony Walkman and slap-bracelet to be named later just to get them off the payroll.

    Personally, I’d love to have Choo in left, Hamilton in center, and Franklin at second. And I’d be more than happy to trade the Missile, Mike Leake, and let it ride with Bailey unless something attractive comes along.

    I’d be happy to go to war with:

    1. Hamilton – CF
    2. Choo – LF
    3. Votto – 1B
    4. Bruce – RF
    5. Mesoraco – C
    6. Frazier – 3B
    7. Cozart – SS
    8. Franklin – 2B

    Rotation: Latos, Cueto, Bailey, Leake, Cingrani
    First out of the bullpen: Lecure, Parra, Marshall, Hoover, Broxton

    And let’s be clear, Choo doesn’t hit lefties well but he does get on base, and Bruce is the best power lefty in the majors against other lefties. I’m not concerned about grouping them. Also, you’d have to think that Hamilton would see good pitches at the top of that line-up. My optimism would admittedly hinge on Mesoraco taking it to the next level and Cozart continuing his year-end performance, but that’d do for me heading into Opening Day.

    • @walshjp:

      Seems like a reasonable plan of attack to the offseason. Just out of curiosity, if the Reds were able to re-sign him you wouldn’t keep the 2nd highest OBP (Choo) in the leadoff position as opposed to moving a rookie there, even one with amazing speed like Hamilton?

      Also you mentioned you’d be happy to trade Leake (presumably for Franklin), but he’s still listed in your starting rotation. Perhaps you mean Arroyo there? I admit they are very similar but not completely the same person

      • @Tony Liao: Yeah, I should’ve put Arroyo. Good catch.

        I’d rather keep Choo and Votto clumped together. And I think that batting Choo, Votto, and Bruce behind Hamilton gives him ample protection. The only one of those three who doesn’t have good splits against lefties is Choo, and I’m fine with that for reasons that have been stated hundreds of times.

        In terms of Choo’s contract, I wonder if they could extend the out years and/or would take it as a cost of doing business now and hope the TV revenue would more the cancel it out. One way or another, I’m fine giving Choo a 7 year deal with him tucked away in the corner outfield. Paying him $20 million a year for those last few is what I’m less comfortable with.

    • I’d be happy to go to war with:
      1. Hamilton – CF
      2. Choo – LF
      3. Votto – 1B
      4. Bruce – RF
      5. Mesoraco – C
      6. Frazier – 3B
      7. Cozart – SS
      8. Franklin – 2B
      Rotation: Latos, Cueto, Bailey, Leake, Cingrani
      First out of the bullpen: Lecure, Parra, Marshall, Hoover, Broxton

      Sir, if you go to war with that lineup, please take a good supply of body bags with you. No bench for re-inforcements. (Probably an oversight. wink.) But going in with two unproven rookies and three position players who need rebound years, is very risky. To go to battle with 5 question marks in an 8-man unit would NOT be an ideal situation. Navy SEALS and Army Rangers might call that a suicide mission.
      The keys for an improved offense are a proven #2 hitter (that could be Choo or BP); and a proven #4 RH hitter to slot between Votto and Bruce (not Choo or BP), for 1) protection for Votto, 2) drive in runs, and 3) to help absord any non-improvement offensively from Mes, Frazier, and Cozart, the 6-7-8 hitters.

    • @walshjp: I’d get a little more creative. First off, just because Hamilton is fast doesn’t mean he should be penciled in as the leadoff man for a WS contending team. We have no idea what his offensive numbers are going to look like over a whole season. I’d bat him 8th – and if Price REALLY wants to get creative, 9th.


      Aside from the first inning, you still get the benefit of having Hamilton potentially on base ahead of your best hitters, but you don’t have to be constrained by what will probably be a mediocre OBP at the top of your lineup his rookie year. LaRusa used to do stuff like this all the time. Screws up opposing pitchers’ gameplans all around.

  36. Great blog input everyone. Love Eric the Red’s point:

    “2) We won more games with an OBP hole at the top of the order two years ago than we did with Choo last year. Offensively, whoever plays CF this year needs to do better than Stubbs, not better than Choo, for us to be competitive.”

    And old Cossack, as much as the career years helped in 2012, John1 makes a great point that we did not have Houston in the schedule in 2013. All great blog stuff (thank you Santa Steve for this new thread for Christmas…I hope there are many more).

    Actually, it does matter which Stubbs you are talking about because the 2010 Stubbs I would take over the 2013 Choo (which apparently was the career year for Stubbs).

    Me, I believe that the lack of action by the Reds is because they are confident in what they have. If Choo’s price floats down to that one year 20-22 million contract, you sign him. No brainer. Bringing up Cruz makes no sense because of the pick.

    While our minor league kids may or may not be ready in 2014, we have not had this kind of outfield depth in the minors since the arrival of Kearns and Dunn.

    That to me is really exciting.

    Yes Choo could pull a Pete Rose and excel through his age 39-40 seasons. But Rose was already a multi season all star by the age 32 season.

    So do you want to know what Walt is doing? Turn on the World Series of Poker and watch for a while. he may not have the biggest stack, but he is not going all in with an Ace 8 either

  37. Wait. Is the season over already?

    This is the first time in history a team has been eliminated on December 20th.

  38. Let’s face it, none of us have any idea what to expect from the Reds next season. If I may direct you to a blast from the past:

    I hate to call some of you out like this, but it really is funny stuff.

    • @TC: 87 wins, shame on you TC.

      This one I think is closest:

      “95+ if idiot puts Chapman in the rotation…85-89 if not, and an early exit in the postseason….”

      not starting Chapman in 2013 with all the pitching depth cost us the ability to have dealt one of our starters this offseason. And I agree, would another 60-80 innings of Chapman have been worth 6-10 victories. you bet

      • @reaganspad: I’d need to see more than anecdotal evidence that this would have happened.

        • @Johnu1: Reynolds and Parch were 1-4 with ERA of 5.80 and 52 innings pitched.

          I watched most of both of them pitch. Chapman at 2.5 ERA is much better

          • @Johnu1: Reynolds and Parch were 1-4 with ERA of 5.80 and 52 innings pitched.

            I watched most of both of them pitch.Chapman at 2.5 ERA is much better

            Ondrusek is better than Partch. Cueto is better than Reynolds.

      • @reaganspad: I am ashamed. I really am.

  39. I feel that Reds management completely Bungled 2013 from April on. Last year was THE chance to grab the brass ring, but the misuse of Chapman, the Dusty tax, the horrible hitting philosophy, the repeat injuries to Cueto and Cingrani, WJ’s inactivity during the season (Ludwick replacement) and at the deadline and beyond(Byrd), and Dusty’s lack of urgency after May RUINED what could have been the best year in Reds history.

    Now Choo is most likely gone, Chapman has further entrenched himself as a “closer,” and aside from Votto and Bruce, there’s not a whole lot of reliable offense on the team.

    Price and his new coaches will be good for this team. However, management seems to be placing a whole lot of hope that BP, Frazier and Ludwick will bounce back and hit better, that Mesoraco and Cozart will continue to develop, and that Billy Hamilton is more Chris Sabo than Willy Taveras.

    Folks, that is a lot of hope – and given how management’s hope that Ludwick would contribute after his return in 2013 turned out, I don’t like it at all.

    The window is closing, and the Reds don’t seem to be doing much to prop it open.

  40. I got curious, as I know that Dusty never really even used Marshall much as a closer either in Cincy or Chicago. Either way, you can get a blown save blowing a 3 run (or more) lead in the 7th or 8th just as easy as the 9th and Marshall was definitely used as a setup man for Chicago as in Cincy.

    Check it…

    Sean Marshall – career appearances 381 (ok he started like 59 games), blown saves 11
    Aroldis Chapman – career appearances 205, blown saves 16
    Jonathan Broxton – career apperances 480, blown saves 42

    • @earl: I don’t see any reason Hoover couldn’t have the same save percentage as Chapman. He just seems like a closer in the making – and a dirt cheap one. I dream about the kind of return we could get for Chapman…It’s incredibly sad how horribly the Reds wasted a talent like him, but at this point there’s still some benefit to be had.

  41. I said it before on the site at least pitching style and stuff, I look at a guy like Sean Marshall and I think that’s a guy that got sold low as a potential starter. Cubs were a good club at that point and needed bullpen help and he never went back, but with that big curve and his fastball, I’d think how he pitches would translate to being a #4 or #5 starter than some relievers.

    Style wise Marshall reminds me quite a bit of Ted Lilly with that curve.

    I think the questions about Marshall coming back from injury are probably bigger than can he get 3 outs in the ninth. He’s not like ‘he whom cannot be named’ aka Stormy Weathers where he lives and dies with one pitch and counting on the ump to give him that borderline strike, Marshall can get batters out with a couple of different pitches and approaches.

    • @earl: I’ve mentioned it before, but JJ Hoover was the same thing as Marshall. He was a starter for his entire career until just before he was traded to the Reds. The reason the Braves switched him wasn’t because he wasn’t a good starter (he had number 3 potential, with a small chance of being better), it was because they had too many young starters coming up in the system with not enough bullpen help.

  42. Let me explain my position better,I do not have a problem with Marshall closing some games. I was saying the Reds would be better off doing something like the Nasty Boys and let Hoover, Chapman, and Marshall close games. I would even be alright with LeCure closing some games.
    The reason that you do not start Marshall is the same thing that makes Chapman a question mark as a starter, that third pitch. Rightly or wrongly that is what defines most starters. Marshall has one superior pitch, Chapman two, we do not know if Chapman can throw a third pitch. He still is a candidate to start as he has two superior pitches.


    • @Johnu1: For 7 years & $130MM. Good luck to Choo. I hope he leads the Rangers to the WS for the next 7 years. He’s a class individual and a supremely talented major league baseball player.

      So now what WJ?

      • @Shchi Cossack: Clearly, WJ didn’t think Choo was coming back. He’s been saying that all along and we all know the Reds need to fill those two roles or risk … dunno … should we ease back off the ledge?

        I still think Hamilton will surprise us.

        I still think Santa is a bit too jolly.

  44. “Slit my Wrists and black my eye” -Hawthorne Heights (Ohio is for Lovers)

  45. At first glance on paper this would appear to be a contract the Reds might have done had they chosen to (and I’d guess Boras ran it by them one last time).

    The onus is clearly on Jodketty to do something now beyond filling out the bench.

  46. I think even though it is disappointing the Reds haven’t been able to get a bat, I do think if they somehow are able to sign Latos and/or Bailey to an extension that would be a win for the club. Having that base of good starting pitching is going to keep you in the conversation. I think if the Reds wanted to drop $120 million, trying to split it out and get extensions for Latos and Bailey would perhaps play out better than such a long deal for Choo. The free agent market is really tough and expensive for any type of offense and next year is going to be even more competitive, as so many big bats are locked into long term deals.

    It’s a bit like heading into 2010 for the Reds, really the biggest thing that can get the club over the hump is for the players they got to step up and bounce back. I don’t think it is out of the measure of possibility, as clubs that do win it’s a bit of having everyone having that good season at the same time. I think the Pirates had that going last year. Reds won 90 games last year with quite a bit of injuries and slight step backs by some players.

    • @earl: Ultimately the Reds team failed last year because of lack of production from the left side of their line up.

      Now Choo is gone; and, based on their minor league careers there is no reason not to think that last year (2013) wasn’t more indicative of what to expect offensively from Frazier and Cozart than any brighter flashes they may have displayed earlier in their short MLB careers.

      I see very little to be optimistic about absent the infusion of some new blood beyond hoping Hamilton might be ready.

      • @OhioJim:

        I see very little to be optimistic about absent the infusion of some new blood beyond hoping Hamilton might be ready.

        Unfortunately, the Old Cossack must agree and Billy Hamilton has done nothing to demonstrate that he is major league ready. The Old Cossack will certainly be there rooting the team to whatever success they achieve and hoping that success leads them to the playoffs while we wait for the next infusion of talent from the minor league system.

        WJ may still turn a significant trade this off season, but I think we are probably looking at the opening day roster right now. Price certainly has his work cut out for him in his first managerial gig. The Reds just can’t compete financially with the big boys so they better start planning to compete like the Rays and A’s.

        • @Shchi Cossack: For what it’s worth, Hamilton looked very good at the plate in his limited time up last year. I agree there’s nothing in his history to suggest he’ll keep that up, but saying he’s done “nothing to demonstrate that he is major league ready” isn’t exactly fair. In a perfect world he’d be platooned in over the course of the season, but I don’t think having him start from Opening Day is the end of the world. If we can work out a move that gets us another power bat for the middle of the lineup, I think we could be ok offensively.

  47. I an going to be the a-hole mark it down Colby Rasmus I don’t want it but that is where we’re going ignore but it’s a fact

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2014 Reds, Believe, Hot Stove, More Choo!


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