[This post was written by John Ring, who is the Nation’s correspondent from Afghanistan, where he is serving the entire nation.]

It’s all quiet —- some would say too quiet -— on the Reds front.

No news on Arroyo. Choo is gone. No trades. Nothing.

So while we collectively ponder the state of the current roster, Johnny Cueto’s health, and how to get more of a bang out of our buck for Aroldis Chapman, here are ten things about the Cincinnati Reds from a very wide angle:

1. Is 2014 the crucial year for Todd Frazier? Some would compare it to the “crucial year” for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. But you have to figure the Reds are concerned about the third base position if Frazier doesn’t improve on his .234 batting average. The 19 home runs and 73 RBI are tolerable but it would be nice to see Frazier’s BA (and OBP) jump, or at the bare minimum, head somewhat further north. Frazier is one of the few Reds who seemed to have a pulse the last week of the season and his attitude and energy have made him a favorite among Reds fans.

2. Centerfield. Leadoff hitter. What will the 2014 Reds do? I agree with those who didn’t want to break the bank to re-sign Choo. There has to be some cheaper and viable options out there. So what is in the acceptable range in performance for Billy Hamilton? Protect him and bat Hamilton 7th or 8th? Lead him off in spring training and see how he does? Another concern is his durability. Could he take the pounding of a 162-game season both playing centerfield and stealing bases at an alarming rate? My take: make him earn the position in spring training. Bring in competition. Bat him lower in the order. Give him the green light to steal. And remember that things can always be worse in the leadoff spot. Reds Manager Bob Boone batted Adam Dunn leadoff for a few games during his failed tenure in Cincinnati.

3. Speaking of center fielders. My take on the five best center fielders for the Cincinnati Reds in the modern era (1956-2013) (1) Eric Davis (2) Vada Pinson (3) Ken Griffey Jr. (4) Cesar Geronimo (5) Wally Post. I omit players such as Choo, Mike Cameron and Sam Mejias because they only played center for one season with the Reds. (Just kidding about Mejias.) I took Pinson over Junior mostly because of durability and because after his first season with the Reds, Junior went steadily downhill to the point where he was moved to right field and was plagued by injuries. In his prime, Griffey was the best -— period. But those days were with Seattle.

4. The Chapman Equation. As each day goes by, the more it looks like Chapman will be working out of the bullpen. There was Chapman’s interview (in Spanish) at Redsfest in which he steadfastly said he would be in the bullpen. And then no denial, nothing from Reds management. There was one series against the Cardinals last year in which Aroldis Chapman, who allegedly has the best arm on the Reds pitching staff, didn’t throw a single pitch. That is mind boggling and frustrating. Let’s see how Bryan Price deals with this situation. I would be perfectly happy with a closer by committee concept featuring J.J. Hoover and Sean Marshall.

This was John's view two days before Christmas: before sunrise, full moon over the mountains in Kabul at their compound.

This was John’s view two days before Christmas: before sunrise, full moon over the mountains in Kabul at their compound.

5. This isn’t crucial but I at least hope that Bryan Price doesn’t name an Opening Day starter before spring training even starts. I hope Price names the starter based on who gets out of the gate quickly in Goodyear and looks ready to pitch, not on performance from the year before or who the “ace” is supposed to be. I don’t care if it’s Latos or Cueto or Homer; I want someone to earn that coveted start. And someone not named Jimmy Haynes.

6. Walk-Up Music. This didn’t even exist 10 years ago. And while I’ve honestly tried to listen and enjoy today’s music, it can’t be done. The best is Joey Votto’s because I like The Stones (Paint it Black) and the runner up is Kashmir for Sean Marshall. I’m a Led-Head.

7. Beat writers. Like many readers of this blog, I followed Steve Mancuso’s article on them, specifically on the Enquirer’s tandem of John Fay and C. Trent Rosecrans. I think that Steve was essentially correct. The industry has changed dramatically even in the last 10 years. I grew up reading articles by Joe Falls, Earl Lawson and Dick Young in the Sporting News so I’m biased in thinking that they were better than the contemporary ones today. I particularly liked Lawson’s style of writing and he never backed down from what he wrote. There’s no competition among newspapers anymore because so many have died off and there are several one-paper towns such as Cincinnati. And I put little or no stock on the bloggers for ESPN/SI that come off as experts on the Reds. I’ll take either Fay or C. Trent over them any day.

8. The Reds 2013 weak finish. When the Reds fell into third place in July, I waited for a final push, a strong stretch run. At the end of August, I knew it wasn’t coming. They weren’t challenged by Washington or Arizona seriously for the last Wild Card spot and the Reds collapsed into mediocrity and played out the string. That and the Brandon Phillips tirade against C. Trent are what finished Dusty Baker in Cincinnati, in my opinion. The wild card game against Pittsburgh continued the misery, as it was lost after the first three innings. No sense of urgency. No emotion. And that came from the top, Dusty Baker.

9. The Reds’ worst years. They are not, at least to me, determined by wins or losses. The 1982 Reds were a bad team; they lost over 100 games but they didn’t break your heart. They were just bad. Dick Wagner bet on the Reds farm system and all of them —- Paul Householder, Duane Walker, Gary Redus, and Nick Esasky, to name a few —- didn’t pan out. The most heartbreaking seasons for me:

(1) 1964, Hutch’s final season, final weekend series collapse, a tragic year.
(2) 1978: The final season for both Sparky Anderson and Pete Rose, another second place finish to the Dodgers.
(3) 1981: the best record in baseball, yet no playoffs due to the players’ strike
(4) 1966: Frank Robinson wins the Triple Crown and takes the Orioles to a championship after being traded for Milt Pappas (12-11, 4.29 ERA), Jack Baldschun (1-5, 5.49 ERA), and Dick Simpson (4 HR, 14 RBI, .238 BA) — their collective stats are for that 1966 season.

10. This started with Todd Frazier and will conclude with Reds third basemen. Cincinnati hasn’t exactly had many players like Brooks Robinson over there. Recent history hasn’t been too kind, either. The Reds got Buddy Bell when he was past his prime in the mid-1980s, Scott Rolen had a first-half MVP season in 2010 but faded, and even Pete Rose’s time there (1975-1978) was a stop-gap measure to get George Foster’s Black Betsy bat in the lineup. Bob Howsam traded for a a mediocre one (Denis Menke) and Dick Wagner traded a good one (Ray Knight.). There have been some good ones, but we’ve also had Willie Greene and John Vuckovich.

Here’s my Top 5: (1) Tony Perez (1967-1971) (2) Chris Sabo (3) Aaron Boone (4) Dan Driessen (1973-1974) (5) Todd Frazier. Fun Fact: Deron Johnson, the Reds third baseman in 1965, actually finished 4th in the MVP voting that year after driving in 130 runs to lead the NL. He batted .287 and hit 32 home runs as well but then faded into oblivion, and ultimately a trade to the Phillies where he had a couple good years in the early 1970s.

62 Responses

  1. WVRedlegs

    If the Reds take the field in 2014 with the roster as it is constructed today, it will be tremendously hard to get emotionally invested in this team. I will support the Reds via the television and radio broadcasts, but I will not drive the 3 hours to games.
    Last season’s letdown, Jocketty’s inability to improve the team at the July trade deadline, and their eventual death spiral in September and October left a very very bad taste in the mouth. One that just the firing of Dusty Baker can not get rid of. And now with Jocketty’s ever increasing inability to improve this team’s offense is tremendously disappointing.
    If Jocketty cannot get the job done, then the Castellinis need to get a GM that CAN get the job done.
    If this is the team that takes the field on Opening Day, Jocketty should be fired at once. There will be NO emotional investment in this current heartbraker of a roster.

  2. OhioJim

    Lot’s of good stuff here. Thanks for remembering Earl Lawson. When I commented recently about the changes in the approach of beat writers, I could not come up with the names of any of the guys who overlapped with the early days of McCoy.

    I know a lot of folks don’t agree; but, I think C.Trent has the makings of any old time beat guy. Time will tell whether he can reinvent the genre in a way that makes his work truly relevant to his readers without being shown the door by his employers.

  3. redmountain

    This is a good team, not a great team, but a good one. While it looks like teams have been able to improve their teams through trades, there have been only a few really significant moves. When and if Tanaka signs, that may shake a few things loose, but who knows. You have to have teams that are willing to give you what you want for what you will give them and if you dont have those pieces, you cannot make a trade. There is not enough money in the budget to take on big salaries, so going out and signing people the way the Yankees have is not possible. Have the Yankees really made themselves better? With the money they have spent they should be, but I doubt they will be.

    As far as beat writers go, I grew up with Ritter Collett and Si Burick with Hal McCoy as a young reporter. I still read Hal and think he is brilliant, he maybe is almost blind, but he sees better than most. If Fay and Rosencrans can approach this level, they too will have a chance at the HOF.

    • preach

      @redmountain: Ritter Collet. Wow, I haven’t heard that name in years. I grew up in Dayton. Interesting fact: He and Hal are two of the very few sports writers from a town without an MLB team to be inducted into the HOF. Ritter also co-sponsered the Hutch award, named after the famous Reds skipper, which is annually awarded to an active player that embodies a fighting spirit. Knowing that nugget is one of the proofs I grew up in Dayton, along with the fact I can sing the BHA song from memory.

  4. LWBlogger

    Although I’m disappointed that the Reds haven’t upgraded the offense, I’m not sure I’m ready to fire the GM before the season even starts. This team looks like an 88-92 win team to me. That should get them to the post-season. From there, anything can happen… By the way, I see the Cards as a 91-97 win team.

    Sometimes a team isn’t going to be able to move forward for some reason. It happens, especially when the team only has a few areas where they can really improve and there are contracts that can’t be moved for reasonable upgrades. I love Choo, but I’m sorry, his deal isn’t the kind of deal the Reds need to be signing.

    • WVRedlegs


      jocketty has done very little to nothing to improve the team. The bench is still very weak. Shoemaker? Pena? Not much to get thrilled about. Jocketty let a good player slide by on the waiver wire earlier this week. Texas grabbed OF Alex Castellanos off of waivers. Texas had the next pick right after Cincinnati. WJ passed. Big mistake. Castellanos would have been a terrific upgrade over Heisey, at 1/4 the cost.
      Why is Hannahan still on the roster? The Reds have a .215 hitting 3B backing up a .234 hitting 3B. Doesn’t make sense.
      There is a free agent out there that could be a better backup 3B. Jeff Baker. And he can be the DH in the AL interleague games and a power bat off the bench.
      It didn’t have to take a big FA signing or a big trade to improve the Reds. But Jocketty isn’t even doing the small things to help out. The Reds, as is, are what they are. A 3rd place team in a 5 team division. Too bad Jocketty does not notice that.

      • LWBlogger

        @WVRedlegs: I like Jack Hannahan but agree that Baker would be a rather big upgrade, particularly offensively. The issue that I see though isn’t having to eat the $1-million Hannahan is owed in 2014 but also the $2-million buy-out on his club option for 2015. It’s WJ’s fault for giving him that deal but at the same time he may also be hoping that Hannahan has a better offensive season in 2014 than he did in 2013. He has never been a good hitter but his 2011 and 2012 were both superior to his poor 2013 showing. Of course the numbers have trended downward so you could certainly argue that expecting a better season out of him in 2013 just isn’t realistic.

        I also agree that Castellanos should have been claimed. It cost almost nothing to make a waiver wire claim and Castellanos for almost nothing would have been a nice pickup.

        Not sure I agree that the Reds are a 3rd place team. The Pirates have pretty much stood pat and may still lose Burnett. I’m not sure they are better than the Reds. The Cards on the other hand are still a superior team on paper and for the Reds to be better a lot has to go right for the Reds and a few things need to go poorly for the Cards.

      • WVRedlegs

        Funny how you said, a lot has to go right for the Reds. The Brewers blog Disciples of Eucker had a piece today about Everything has to go right for the Brewers to be competitive and win. Funny how teams that are looking up at other teams in their division view things. Here’s one quote, “He, too, has been around long enough to know that counting on “a lot of things to go right” generally doesn’t end in success for a baseball team.
        Sorry. My pendulum is swinging back to the pessimistic side. Very disappointed in the front office. That could change, but they seem to have settled on the status quo, when they seemed quite bent on changing the status quo. Many hopes were uplifted at that thought. Only for those hopes to be squashed like a grape by their inability and inaction.
        We all don’t want trades, or FA signings, just for the sake of making them. We want any trades to be to the benefit of the team and to improve the team.
        There have been ways to improve this team this winter. None have been taken so far. They have either been fumbled, let slip through their fingers, or just didn’t have the moxy to make the deal.
        Jocketty is derelict in his duties as GM for not improving the Reds, especially if he stands pat on the roster as is.
        In 2010 we wanted to be “competitive”. In 2014, we want an advance into the playoffs, win a playoff series, or three. I am not ready to surrender to just “being competitive”.

      • hotto4votto

        @WVRedlegs: I’m with you in starting to feel pessimistic and not wanting to invest much emotionally into this team. I will support them and probably spend way too many hours watching them play this year, but after the SF playoff debacle and last year’s epic fail I will find a hard time getting too involved with this team. Too much of it is the same, and has the exact same problems. Namely, no top of the order hitters, poor OBP skills, an improved but still average bench, shaky mental make up in the SP group (looking at you Cueto/Latos), and the best arm being under-used.

        I will say, that I believe that Schumaker and Pena will be upgrades over last season’s Paul and Hanigan. Paul and Schumaker may be a wash when it comes down to it, but I like Schumaker’s experience on winning teams and versatility enough to give him a slight edge. But I also agree that Hannahan was a poor signing and currently a waste of a roster spot. The Reds have an internal option in Travis Mattair that could come up and play better defense on the corners, with more pop, for the league minimum if they wanted to go that route. And I also agree about Castellanos and Baker. Both would be upgrades and came here for next to nothing.

        I still say that the Reds need to go out and get Michael Young and Justin Turner. Young offers an upgrade offensively over Hannahan and would offer a nice veteran presence. I know it’s easy for me to sit here and say eat 1-3mil dollars on Hannahan, but honestly if the Reds aren’t going to go out and spend on a FA, upgrade, take the hit and improve where you can. Or send off extra parts like Ondrusek or Heisey to any takers to shed the necessary money to make it work.

        Turner can be the back up SS. Also, see if you can sign Coughlan to a minor league deal with incentives and let him compete with Hamilton, Bourgeois, Heisey etc for an OF spot in ST. There are cheap options that the Reds can still address needs with. Going in with what we have will be setting ourselves up for failure. Honestly, if the young Brewers improve much we may be in a fight, holding them off of 3rd place.

    • OhioJim

      @LWBlogger: WJ often says that he doesn’t believe in making a trade for the sake of making a trade.
      However the org seems to believe the team needs a bit of a shake up; and, I can’t think of a better way of maybe lighting a fire under some of these guys folks are hoping will “do better in 2014” than to make a trade just to shake things up a bit as long as it doesn’t decrease the talent level.

      The Reds have a number of guys on both the position player and pitching side who over several years seem to show just enough to stick around and have folks hoping that next year will be the year they finally put it all together. By now it is a pretty safe bet none of these guys will ever be more than MLB journeymen. So, try taking and dumping one or two of them to some forsaken cellar dwelling org for similar talent in hopes of lighting the fire under the rest of them.

      • BBRedsfan

        @OhioJim: I would be curious to know which Reds you’re describing with “who over several years seem to show just enough to stick around … none of these guys will ever be more than MLB journeymen.” That doesn’t seem to fit any of the current position players, except maybe Heisey. Maybe a couple of the bullpen guys, but really what bullpen doesn’t have a couple of journeymen?

        I don’t think dumping Heisey is going to light a fire under anybody.

      • LWBlogger

        @BBRedsfan: I was kind of curious about that too. I’m imagining that he’s thinking of Frazier, Cozart, and perhaps even Ludwick. Of course Frazier would be a starter on about 1/3 the teams in the NL and for Cozart, that number may be even higher. Ludwick is coming off an injury so I’m not sure it’s fair to say at this point if he’s going to be a “replacement level” player or better. I don’t expect 2012 numbers out of him but I think he’ll be a significant improvement over what the Reds had in LF last year.

        Frazier – Measured by fWAR he was the 2nd best 3B in the NL last year. I’m not sure I buy that but his exceptional defense does count for something. Offensively his OPS was 8th among 10 qualifying NL 3B. That’s not too good but considering his defense, I’d take him over about 4 or 5 other starters at 3B in the NL.

        Cozart – His OPS was 7th out of 9 qualifying NL SS. Again that’s not very good but he ranked above Starlin Castro and was only .002 behind Jimmy Rollins. Cozart seemed to do better down the stretch and seemed more comfortable batting lower in the order. Looking at WAR, he was 6th out of 9 and sat .1 win behind Brandon Crawford. Again, I’d take him over about 4 or 5 players who started at SS for their NL teams last year.

  5. TC

    I got as far as #2 and had to make a comment. Batting Dunn lead off was not as bad an idea as it seems. A lead off guy should be a high OBP guy. While Dunn struck out a lot, he also got on base a lot.

    Ok. Back to reading.

  6. TC

    Ok. #3. I’ve got a shrine to Griffey with candles and the whole bit, so you know I’m a huge fan. But Griffey was a serviceable defensive CF when he got to Cincinnati. If not for all the injuries I would consider him a great CF, but his body didn’t hold out enough to be considered great.

  7. Y-City Jim

    In terms of Hamilton, perhaps look at batting him 2nd in front of Votto so he, theoretically, sees better pitches.

    As for the Opening Day starter, I rather Price wait to see who logically falls into place rather than naming that person more than a month ahead and then having to manipulate ST starts to have that person fall into that spot. I’m comfortable with any of the rotation making the Opening Day start.

    I see Bryan Price’s most crucial decision being who bats behind Votto. Pick the right guy and Votto sees better pitches to hit. Pick the wrong guy, he walks and gets erased on a DP.

  8. Johnu1

    Loved this article! More, please.

    Nice to relate to somebody who remembers the 1964 Reds. So close, yet so far away.

    I do think Price and his staff will make more out of this than seems to be apparent. Look for Chapman to play a major role.

  9. bohdi

    I wish Pryce would consider batting Votto 2. Bham batting first with Votto second would really help Hamilton and would eliminate any other black hole that might exist in the two-hole. Everyone harps on the leadoff hitter but we don’t really have great options for the second spot either. If Votto is going to be up with no one on base a lot I’d rather it be with 1 out than 2.

    • Y-City Jim

      I wish Pryce would consider batting Votto 2. Bham batting first with Votto second would really help Hamilton and would eliminate any other black hole that might exist in the two-hole. Everyone harps on the leadoff hitter but we don’t really have great options for the second spot either. If Votto is going to be up with no one on base a lot I’d rather it be with 1 out than 2.

      Batting Votto 2nd isn’t going to resolve the issue of who hits behind him. If you want the production we all expect from Votto then you have to protect his bat in the line-up. I’m not absolutely certain who that hitter should be but I do know it should not be Brandon Phillips.

      • bohdi

        @Y-City Jim: Agreed. The issue of who bats behind Votto is going to exist whether he bats 2 or 3 but batting him 2 removes the other issue of who bats in front of him.

        As far as who bats after Votto I think you chose from Bruce, Ludwick and Mez. Not sure how much stock Price cares about alternating lefties and righties.

      • Johnu1

        Batting Votto 2nd isn’t going to resolve the issue of who hits behind him. If you want the production we all expect from Votto then you have to protect his bat in the line-up. I’m not absolutely certain who that hitter should be but I do know it should not be Brandon Phillips.

        Seeing as how that guy is going to get 600 plate appearances, I think we need more than ‘not being sure who it should be.’

    • OhioJim

      @bohdi: I think the most important thing about Votto’s line up placement is who bats in front of him.

      To the greatest possible degree he should be batting with men on base and not leading off innings. The best way to achieve this is to have him batting immediately after the guy with the highest OBP who isn’t named Votto.

      Behind Votto put the remaining guy with best slugging %. With the two highest OBP (presumably) in front of him, the doubles and homers this guy gets should more than offset the K’s and DP’s he ends up with.

  10. Shchi Cossack

    The Old Cossack took a few days reprieve from the off season and that resulted in an epiphany of sorts for the old coot. We all know that the Reds are a small to mid market team and that’s not going to change.

    The Reds can afford to put a competative lineup on the field, but the lineup has limitations. One of those limitations is the injury factor. Big market teams either have ready replacements if a regular goes down or they can simply go out and pay for a replacement as needed. The Reds will never be able to play that game. The same limitation holds true for a bad contract. Big market teams either have ready replacements if a regular is non-productive or they can simply go out and pay for a replacement as needed. The Reds will also never be able to play that game.

    If the key Reds’ regulars remain healthy and productive, we get 2010 & 2012. If they don’t, we get 2011 & 2013. No way can the Reds pay $130MM for a 32 year old FA. The Reds made their cornerstone financial commitment to Votto. The only way to continue to be competative is through draft and development and with some key, cost-effective additions to fill specific needs.

    I hope that WJ can swing something to take care of the top of the lineup issue facing this club in 2014, but I believe the next 2 months will probably be uneventfull for the Reds. If anything is done to improve the top of the lineup issue, I think it will be later during spring training. I thought WJ missed the boat when he failed to sign a CF (Rajai Davis .319/.383/.474) to platoon with Schumaker (.265/.338/.333). Instead, WJ appeared to hold out hope for Choo to fall in his lap or Hamilton to get on base better at the major league level in 2014 than he could playing at AAA or the Winter League in 2013.

    • Johnu1

      @Shchi Cossack: As 2012 may have been a freak of nature, losing Votto for 46 days didn’t seem to hurt as much as we feared because the starting pitchers all stayed healthy.

      So it may be that the type of injury that does the least amount of damage to the overall roster is the most desirable. (Huh?)

      What I noticed a year ago with the pitching was that the slots and roles that the reliever were expected to fill seemed to unravel when Broxton and Marshall went down. The rotation didn’t suffer as much, I think.

      Injuries to Phillips and Hanigan, however, were fairly noticeable.

      Not sure where I am going with this, clearly not in search of a point, just some observatiions.

      The bench was lame to start with and only got worse after the Sept. callups, Hamilton being the exception.

  11. earl

    Eh, I feel better about the club than some. I think they might not be the obvious favorite like they were last year, but the talent level of the club is still better than anyone than St. Louis in the division.

    I think the money in baseball is just kind of out of wack where now there is too much of the cash being tied up for players for long term deals. It’s getting more like the NBA where the trading really just happens on the margins, as it is too difficult to get around those big back weighted contracts. NFL has this issue too but like the MLB, where they got big rosters, having players under managed salaries 1 or 2 guys eating the majority of team salary, the big clubs might have 5-7 guys taking up that huge cash, but in the end you got to have to field 25 in the dugout each day in the bigs. So I think a large part of the clubs in MLB are getting cagey on controlling that talent and then trying to sell high whenever they can.

    The only way to become dominant I think now is to just draft and develop really well and you have to look at the sheer amount of talent St. Louis put into the major leagues in the past two years to see how it’s going to run for the next few seasons. I think even some big dollar clubs like Boston are going that way in model and they are one of the ones that can afford to buy fixes for their roster.

  12. Y-City Jim

    I agree that they need OBP guys in front of him but we had one with Choo and they would pitch around Joey because there was a double play machine hitting behind him most of the time.

    A lot of what this offense does will rest on how well they can accept the new philosophy of hitting. It will also be interesting to seeing the effect of (hopefully) less sac bunting. Those 85 sac bunts last year shortened a lot of innings.

    • OhioJim

      @Y-City Jim: But they also always has a relatively easy out between Choo and Votto. Take a away the black hole between and put the best remaining slugging % after Votto. The homers and doubles with 2 men on much of the time should more than offset the the K’s and DP’s these types are often prone to.

  13. CharlotteNCRedsFan

    Thank you for your service to our country. God Bless and Happy New Year. Oh yeah, great article too.

  14. Mike T.

    In regard to Pinson and Post as Center-fielders…Both were right fielders when Gus Bell ruled center field

  15. regis

    Actually, Pinson pushed Bell out of center. Post was a left fielder with Frank Robinson in right. Post was a favorite, but could never move well enough to play center.

  16. MikeC

    “This started with Todd Frazier and will conclude with Reds third basemen. Cincinnati hasn’t exactly had many players like Brooks Robinson over there.”

    The inclusion of Perez and Driessen as top 3rd basemen over the years certainly highlights the lack of fielding prowess the Reds have enjoyed at this position.

    • OhioJim

      @MikeC: The Reds org has a history of seeing 3B as primarily an offensive position.

      With the likes of Roy McMillan, Leo Cardenas, Dave Conception and Barry Larkin filling the shortstop spot over the last half of the 20th century plus much of the first decade of this century, the Reds could afford to put sluggers at 3rd since mostly they just needed to guard the line and be able to knock the ball down, pick it up, and make a passable throw to first (or second).

      • OhioJim

        @OhioJim: And the Reds also had some very competent glove men around to bridge the gaps between the SS’s above and/ or play late inning defense at 3B. Guys like Darrell Cheney, Doug Flynn, Dennis Meinke, Kurt Stillwell, Ron Oester, Pokey Reese. Every one of these guys except for possibly Meinke were almost certainly better shortstops than the current incumbent.

      • Johnu1

        @OhioJim: 3B needs three attributes:

        Nerves of steel
        A cannon for an arm
        A bit of common sense

        After that, just be dedicated.
        And bring a bat.

      • OhioJim

        @Johnu1: Think how Reds history might be different (not necessarily better though) if Perez, Driessen, or Encarnation had possessed reliable enough arms at 3B. I will add however that in Tony’s case, it might have been as much a need to include Lee May or him in the big trade to get Morgan as a need to get him off 3B

      • Johnu1

        @OhioJim: All I ever heard was that the Reds never wanted to trade May. I can’t recall if they thought Morgan or Billingham was the key to the trade.

        Driessen was never a 3B, and neither was Bench, but Bench at least had the arm for it.

  17. dn4192

    After all the stuff this franchise went through from around 1996 up until around 2010 I am not sure how you can’t be excited and enjoy where this franchise is. Every year is a crap shoot, I dare anyone to say they KNEW or thought the Boston Red Sox would win the WS after the end of the 2012 season. Anything can happen in the remainder of the offseason and then throughout the season. This franchise is in a great position with a high number of young talent on the roster and some nice quality talent in the minors. I am unsure how anyone can be down on this franchise…

  18. OhioJim

    Here’s one to kick around. Why is it the Reds seem to be able to produce a lot of home grown good LH hitters but are always scarfing around RH hitters?

  19. Redsfanx

    In the late forties and early fifties the Reds had a good third baseman in Grady Hatton. I saw him come through in the clutch in many a game at Crosley Field.

    • Johnu1

      @Redsfanx: Hatton even precedes me. The first Reds 3B I recall was Jablonski, then Don Hoak. After that, Gene Freese, among others.

      • preach

        @Johnu1: I’m suprised no one has mentioned Willie Greene (preach ducks and slowly backs away).

      • LWBlogger

        @preach: Opening day his first season as a starter, he hit a bomb of a HR and we were so excited *Sigh* … There was also Brandon Larson. For a while there, the Reds had some bad, bad players coming up. We complain about Frazier and Cozart but Green, and Larson were huge prospects when they came up.

      • Johnu1

        @LWBlogger: These guys were 7th rounders being drafted in the 1st and 2nd round, cheap, and pawned off as prospects. The Reds got away with that for a lot of years.

      • OhioJim

        @LWBlogger:Brandon Larson (#14 overall pick in the 97 draft), dominated AAA for 2 years (he was the minor league player of the year- overall not just Reds org- at AAA). Prior to that he had excelled at LSU in the college level. So, I have never accepted that his situation was as simple as him being over rated and poorly evaluated.

        Over 2+ years, he got all of 332 PAs (291 ABs) with the Reds, which seems incredibly few based on his AAA record.

        We don’t know what we don’t know about the behind the scenes story with him (and how the internet has changed all that in just a little over a decade); but for a guy who had done what he had done at AAA, that was a mighty short look.

        I’ve always believed at least part of it was what got done inside his head by being in a situation where his magager’s son was also competing for the same position as he was. I’m not going to say there overt blatant nepotism but one has to wonder about subconscious nepotism or the the perception of it at least in Larson’s mind.

        BTW, Willie Green was a #18 overall and got more MLB ABs in two seasons than Larson got in his entire MLB career.

  20. hotto4votto

    As far as batting order construction goes, getting Votto more ABs, especially with more people on base and less outs will be beneficial. How to do that is another question all together. If you bat Hamilton in front on him, it may result in Hamilton getting better pitches. But that theory hasn’t necessarily worked out for any of our two-hole hitters in the recent past, as it’s been a glaring black hole in our line up for recent years. What may end up happening is that pitchers lock-in on the Hamilton AB and essentially make a harder AB for him due to Votto’s presence right behind him. Of course the flipside is that you would love to have an opposing pitcher distracted by Hamilton’s speed on the base paths while having to pitch to Votto at the plate. And if you’re comfortable with anyone taking a pitch to let Hamilton run free, it’s probably Votto. The pay off of having Hamilton on base in front of Votto, if he can do it a decent clip, outweighs the negatives of having Hamilton face a more focused pitcher.

    Of course going Hamilton, Votto at the top of order begs the question of who hits behind Votto. In my opinion the answer for a few years now should be Jay Bruce. And batting Bruce 3rd gets our 2nd best hitter more ABs for the season, that’s a good thing. Then after that, Ludwick, Phillips/Frazier/Mesoraco in some order, then Cozart and the P.

    To me that’s the optimal line up with what we have.

  21. WVRedlegs

    Apologies to you all and WJ for my pessimism and negativity yesterday.

    One possible explanation for the Reds silence so far in the off-season.
    Could WJ and Castellini be quietly and slyly positioning themselves for a run to outbid the Cubs and Yankees on Tanaka? If they have determined that Bailey won’t sign an extension, then at least make a go for Tanaka. Then be able to deal a SP or two and BP and from a position of strength to help obtain offensive firepower and free up payroll to pay for Tanaka.
    Tanaka’s agent is also Derek Jeter’s agent. So that Yankee connection will be hard to overcome though.
    Tanaka is said to have a 97-98 mph fastball and one of, if not the top, cutter or split-finger fastballs in the world. He’s only 25, but has been subjected to overuse in Japan. It would be well worth exploring the possibilities. Could the Reds pull off another, albeit a bigger, Chapman deal??

    • rfay00

      @WVRedlegs: The Reds and any team has a chance thanks to the new 20 million cap. That’s not stopping the Yankees from offering him 3-5 million more a year than a normal team would though.

      Darvish got about 10 million a year.

      If Tanaka follows suit, add in the 20 million dollar posting fee, over five years he would cost 70 million which about 14 million a year. The question is, can you get a better or equal starting pitcher for 14 million a year? Do you add more years to spread out that 20 million initial investment? Then you run the chance of him wearing out like other Japan pitchers have.

      I say use that money and pay Bailey for the long term versus reaching.

      I’m not a GM though.

      • preach

        @rfay00: Soemtimes you get a Nomo, sometimes you get a Dice-K. I agree with spending the money on Bailey before going after Tanaka. Looking at the list of pitchers from Japan who have made the MLB transition, the list is a litte less than awe-inspiring. Darvish is too new for me to include. If we go with an expanded presence overseas, which I am in complete support of, then I would rather go a little more off the beaten path than follow the Yankees.

      • Johnu1

        @rfay00: Darvish is a rare find. Tanaka might be but I am not quite convinced that the NBL is much more than AAAA all across the board.

        I’d agree that spending money on keeping our own talent would be preferable to trying to outbid the big markets.

        The posting fee ceiling doesn’t do anything except give the fans an extra five minutes to discuss it. Tanaka ain’t coming over to pitch in Cincy.

        I think finding young guys with good mechanics and slowly teaching them how to pitch will take a team much farther.

      • Kyle Farmer

        @rfay00: If the Reds back a Brinks truck up to Homer’s house, he is not signing here. He doesn’t like the city, the fan, or the organization. They just traded away his pet catcher. He’s done. Sign Latos.

  22. WVRedlegs

    Buster Olney at ESPN ranks the NL starting rotations.
    1. LAD
    2. WAS
    3. STL
    4. PIT
    5. ATL

    Something is missing here.

    • Kyle Farmer

      @WVRedlegs: The constant slobbering of the national media over the Pirates is starting to get old in a hurry.

      • rhayex

        @Kyle Farmer: I agree. They have a decent starting rotation, but that’s also WITH a great AJ Burnett. I don’t see how they’re a top 5 team in terms of starters.

  23. Shchi Cossack

    On November 27th, both Mark Sheldon and Jon Heyman reported that the Reds signed Manny Parra to a 2 year, $5.5MM contract. This in December 29th and there has still been no announcement or roster move to add Parra to the 40 man roster.

    Since the Reds missed out on Rajai Davis as a CF platoon, maybe WJ can pull the trigger on a trade for a CF platoon so Hamilton can get the development he needs at AAA, something like Chris Heisey & Neftali Soto for Chris Denorfia. Denorfia is a FA after 2014 & Heisey has 3 years of team control remaining. Both players figure to be 4th/5th OF in 2014. Heisey has more power and Denorfia gets on base better.

    • LWBlogger

      @Shchi Cossack: I’ve always liked Denorfia and he came up in the Reds’ system too. He’s a 4th/5th OF type. I am not sure he’d be much of an upgrade over Heisey.

      • Shchi Cossack

        @LWBlogger: As a CF platoon and a top of the order hitter, I believe
        Denorfia is a definite upgrade over Heisey. As a 4th/5th OF, I believe it’s a wash. Both are solid, versatile defensive OF.

        Heisey v. LHP
        .274/.315/.512 2012
        .259/.316/.494 2013
        .226/.284/.408 career

        Denorfia v. LHP
        .337/.390/.500 2012
        .284/.355/.479 2013
        .308/.374/.459 career

        Denorfia is also in the unique position of a 1 year rental. That fits well with the Reds’ needs and Heisey fits well with the Padres’ needs. They are always looking for additional punch in their lineup and inexpensive player control.

      • WVRedlegs

        @Shchi Cossack:

        It makes sense. But I don’t know if the Reds can deal with SD. They are still sore about the Grandal situation. If they can deal, it’d be nice to get SD’s SS Everth Cabrera in a package. Then move Cozart to 2B. BHam/Denorfia and Cabrera batting in front of Votto, ???, and Bruce would present an interesting dynamic.

  24. WVRedlegs

    I think those who were saying that Toronto was the most likely trading partner with the reds are probably going to be correct. I was holding out hopes for the Braves. I couldn’t see the Braves sitting still like they have with Washington being very active.
    But Toronto’s GM is on the hot seat. Since Anthopoulus became GM, his Toronto teams have won 85 games, 81, 73, and 74 last year. He has to save his job and improve his team’s chances. Toronto is looking for 2 SP’s, a 2B, and 2 RP’s. I think the Reds could offer up a 2B, a SP and a RP for OF Jose Bautista and RP Casey Janssen. Bautista has $14M due in 2014 and 2015, with a club option for 2016, $14M with a $1M buyout. Janssen’s contract is up after 2014. He is due $4M in 2014.
    Janssen then frees up Chapman to be traded, for a young 2B and two hole hitter, if he doesn’t want to move to the rotation.

  25. Shchi Cossack

    Ah, if only WJ had read this before inking Broxton last season…


    The article doesn’t even address the role of a designated closer, only the ineffectiveness of committing big bucks and multiple years to for a designated closer.