A while ago, I started looking at those players on the Reds who figured to be around for a bit. Then I got distracted. Now I’m back to it with Todd Frazier.

We all fell in love with Frazier during his 2012 run, but I think most of us knew he was a bit over his head. Last year the reverse. While the Toddfather played excellent defense, he didn’t hit nearly as well. His OPS fell by 108 points. That’s a big drop. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but that didn’t make it easier to bear.

Brag isn’t the right word for what I’m about to do, because I wish I’d been wrong, but I did call the Frazier decline. His numbers just didn’t fit with his peripherals. That said, I do think the fall was a little further than it should have been. He’s not the 2012 Frazier, but neither is he the 2013 Frazier.

The point of these articles is to look long term, so let me just state that, for now, the Reds are fine with Frazier. Depending on who you listen to, Frazier is a 2.5-3.5 WAR player. He is also entering his age-28 season, so he’s right at his peak. The Reds have guaranteed control of Frazier for four more years. So what might his performance look like going forward?

Age Year WAR
26 2012 2.4*
27 2013 3.0*
28 2014 3.25**
29 2015 3.0**
30 2016 2.75**
31 2017 2.5**
*Average of FanGraphs & Baseball-Reference
When last I posted one of these, I discussed Zack Cozart. Cozart is an interesting comp because like Frazier, he reached the majors late. However, he’s not quite as good as Frazier, so while I said then (and still believe) the Reds need to be looking for relief at shortstop soon (if not right now), they don’t need to worry about third for a while.

Frazier is a solidly above average player. His offense should rebound a bit this season and he likely won’t lost much value between now and free-agency. Given the new market we’ve seen this winter, it’s likely that Frazier will be a decent bargain for all of the time he is under team control.

However, Frazier is a perfect example of the kind of player who should be kept for his first six years and then kindly thanked for his service and sent on his way when he reaches free agency. The important thing to realize is that baseball players very rarely improve in their late-20s. He is what he is. Those wild swings aren’t going away. He’s a good player, but don’t fool yourself into thinking he’s going to be the exception. Still, he’s a very good option at third for the next four years.

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

Join the conversation! 78 Comments

  1. Super Todd…… not… super. I don’t understand. Dude, you’re messing with my mind.

  2. Plug Frazier into the 6 hole, let him play his very good to stellar defense and club his 15-25 HR each year until he reaches FA. The Reds have 4 years to come up with a replacement and they have none in the pipeline yet. As this off season proved, replacement FA and the Reds are not going to mesh, so the Reds better get busy finding a SS & 3B to develope and take over for Cozart and Frazier. The OF looks solid with real prospects coming up and catcher should be covered too. If the Reds can obtain some IF prospects in trades, that would help. The good news if that between the competative balance picks, the FA compensation picks and regular draft picks, the Reds should be able to fully restock every level of the minor league system quickly. They just need to draft smart and supplement the draft with some good international players.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Yup. I agree with everything here.

    • @Shchi Cossack: “Plug Frazier into the 6 hole, let him play his very good to stellar defense and club his 15-25 HR each year until he reaches FA.”

      I’ve been agreeing a lot with the ol’ Cossack lately, so I must be doing OK.

      Sounds a little Rolen-esque to me, and that sounds pretty good. With his glove, I can live with the occasional drought. The hot corner is not my concern for a few seasons.

      • @preach: Agreed. Though low on the totem pole of priorities for the major league club, now is probably the time, though, where you would be looking at bringing some up. Just as an example, drafting a SS and 3rd baseman in the upcoming draft, in order to give them anywhere from 2-5 years to develop. We don’t need them now on the big club at all. But, we should always be looking at developing the future pieces so we don’t have to go out and get the high priced FA or trade away our own stars.

        • @steveschoen: Agree 100%: The wretched Cards are always good because, in part, they always have legitimate prospects stacked up in the minors. The Reds need to do the same. It doesn’t lead to the off-season excitement that a big trade does, but it keeps them relevant year after year.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Not too sure about the offense coming up in the minors. I hope so. Though 2 years ago, it seemed like there was some offense and not so much pitching, last season seemed like there was more pitching and not so much offense. For example, with the offense, I believe you have to go down to Single A Dayton before you find a player who had a 300+ BA for the season. Most of them you find in AA and AAA last season were around the 270-280 range, as the high mark on the team. Whereas, the year before, there were 2-4 on each team who had 300+ BA.

    • @Shchi Cossack: nothing in the pipeline? Don’t sleep on SMB. Dude has been a stud for his first year and a half in the system and plays excellent defense. Between SMB, Rahier, and maybe even Corey Thompson (if he moves off of short) the state of 3rd base should be pretty good in four years or less.

      • @hotto4votto: @redmountain: I guess it’s a difference in perspective. The Old Cossack doesn’t see any performance below AA as particularly significant or indicative of major league capability. I hope Mejias-Brean’s early results continue at the upper minor league levels and he does step up to seize the 3B opportunity at GABP in 4 years.

        Frazier put up an OPS of .943 & .853 his 1st 2 seasons playing at ROK, A- & A+, then started his 3rd season in AA and finished his 3rd season in AAA with an OPS of .832. Mejias-Brean produced a .925 OPS, playing his 1st season in ROK and an .837 OPS, playing his 2nd season in A- (except 3 games after an end-of-season promotion). By his 3rd season, Frazier was a solid top 100 prospect. Frazier was also demonstrating his superior versatility by playing SS, 3B, 2B, 1B & LF. Mejias-Brean has split his playing time between 1B & 3B and is entering his age 23 season playing at A+.

        If Mejias-Brean continues his development on the same path (very similar to Frazier), he may very well be playing 3B at GABP in 2018, but 2014 will be his 1st real challenge at A+ and he won’t see any significant time at AA until 2015.

        Rahier hasn’t even produced a .600 OPS in his 1st 2 seasons. Thompson hasn’t even reached Billings (ROK) yet so he is completely unproven.

        • @Shchi Cossack: Valid points, but hotto4votto is right about SMB. I watched him a lot at Dayton last year. There is more to him than the stats. He stood out. He and Winker were the best players on that team. Make no mistake, he’s a ballplayer.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Take a look in A ball and I think you will find what you are looking for, about 4 years away.

  3. It’s not uncommon for a player’s numbers to decline from the first to second year. But, yes, Frazier is pretty much average offensively as well as defensively, at least last season. Though, I was impressed how well he did field third, since he is on record saying LF is his favorite position. I thought he handled the hot corner very well.

    The thing has always been with Frazier and Cozart, though average, while others may be paying out something like $10 million total to fill those two holes (SS and 3rd) with average players, we are filling them with players making a total of a bit over $1 million, allowing us to put that money elsewhere, like being able to afford a gold glove 2nd baseman or extend a starting pitcher. If we had anyone else in those positions, it would most likely mean cost cutting elsewhere (not easily done nor liked. That’s what makes Frazier and Cozart “above average” for us, I believe. It can be all a very difficult balancing act to handle.

    In short, every team has players like these, cheap role players who are serviceable, nothing special, not horrible, just serviceable, until something better comes along. Where, if one of them end up having an awesome year, like Frazier had 2 seasons ago, or like how Cozart even got up to this level (if everyone remembers, it was Janish’s poor hitting and Cozart was in something like a 360 BA zone for about 2-3 months at the same time), all the better.

    As long as they hold their own and don’t get too expensive, I’m happy with them. But, if we were to do something else, like trade BP (but having something planned to replace BP), then these would be potential places I could see the Reds putting the extra money towards improving, of course.

  4. 2.5-3.5 WAR each of the next 4 seasons, a GREAT personality for both in the clubhouse and with the fans, and best of all? Real CHEAP! I can most certainly live with that.

    …..also, no handed HRs and saving people’s livesas an added bonus. Hah

    • @ToddAlmighty: Speaking of nice personalities, Mr. Todd seems to really enjoy himself as the face of the Reds Kids Club. He is always great with the youth. The value that club offers is tremendous, BTW. Kinda’ needed right now in the wake of some recent drama, dontcha’ think?

      • @preach: Yeah, true…. don’t have to worry about Frazier telling magazines his owner is a liar, or interrupting his manager’s press conference to yell profanity on camera to beat writers. Could use 2-3 personalities like Frazier’s on every MLB team.

      • @preach: The only thing not to like about Frazier’s personality and attitude is that perhaps they make it a bit too easy to accept that the Reds are no more than marginally adequate at both positions on the left side of their infield.

        If the opportunity avails to upgrade either spot without breaking the bank the Reds need to jump on it post haste.

        • @OhioJim: I, for one, think that Frazier and Cozart are considerably better than marginally adequate defensively. We need more hitting, yes, but sacrificing defense to get it sacrifices, by extension, some of the effectiveness of our pitching. And pitching and, by extension, defense is (are)the Reds’ most valuable commodities (Votto excepted).

        • @OhioJim: The Cardinals were marginally adequate, with SS being a black hole and Freese being an offensive plus but BRUTAL defensively. They made it to the WS. You do not need superstars at 6 positions to compete, you need a lot of meat and potatoes guys.

  5. Here’s hoping Don Long will bring something to the hitting approach to guys like Frazier and others that help them be consistently productive. I certainly don’t expect him to make superstars out of any of them but if he can get them to the plate with a plan in mind that will be a big step forward.

  6. Most MLB teams will have a Frazier type hitter in the lineup.

    That established, it seems to be a little easier to upgrade in left field than at third base.

    Frazier is adequate, so the premise of the article seems on target. I’d hope to see him add a few more long hits this year. I can live with the rest of it.

    • @Johnu1: Yeah. Frazier is not someone to worry about. Short, left, maybe center. those are problem spots. Pretty much everyone has an player like Frazier hanging around. The problem arises if he ends up being the third best hitter on your team, which he probably is right now.

      • @Jason Linden: If Frazier is the 3rd best hitter in the line up that makes him the the best RH hitter; and, I think that is the crux of the (huge) problem.

        I feel they need significant offensive upgrades at two of the three left side positions (3B,SS,LF). If it turns out that 3B is one of the two within reach then that is just a tough break for the incumbent.

        Frazier would be ideally suited for a “super sub” role, being utilized as a guy who gets several starts a week. That is essentially how they used him is last full season in AAA

  7. Todd saw a big BABIP dip last year – from 316 to 269. I think the raw power he showed his rookie year was a bit flukish, but his AVG/OBP is due for a rebound. He did make some strides last year in his K rate and laying off pitches out of the zone.

  8. First, you do not win pennants with a bunch of superstars on it. You win games with a lot of average players and a few superstars. Frazier and Cozart are both steady if unspectacular fielders and average hitters. Most teams have either good fielders or good hitters, but not both so I am perfectly happy with what the Reds are getting from 3b and SS. There are prospects coming at each position, it is 2nd base that has no apparent replacement coming soon.

  9. I think the general consensus is that the Reds day-to-day infield is competitive enough with a few tweaks.

    Defensively, it’s fine.

    I’d like to see everyone get a few more long hits, doubles etc. and improve on situational hitting — which is pretty difficult to define, I suppose. The old RISP comes into play here.

    Alleging Phillips stays at 2B, the problem continues to be who our backups are. Currently, it’s Hannahan and Schumaker, Hen-Rod, I reckon …

    IF IF IF these guys can add another couple of hits a week to their production, I’d say Price has bigger problems than the infield.

    Behind the plate? I am wary there.

    That leaves the outfield and the pitching. I suppose we can explore that in depth. What I fear is a selloff of our arms just to feed the outfield. It’s easier to get an outfielder or a backup infielder than it is to get a pitcher.

    But the topic is Frazier. Looking around the league, David Wright is better. I don’t know that, even-up, I’d deal Toddfather for anybody else.

    Maybe the kid from Colorado.

    • @Johnu1: To me this discussion is about the difference between being competitive in the playoff chase and taking that “next step” every talks of to becoming a force in the post season.
      The Reds have to have more offensively on a consistent basis from LF and the left side of the infield to take that step.

      • @OhioJim: An offensive average of at least .250 from the left side to back up Meso, BP, Votto and Bruce will do it to chase the Cardinals.

        • @Redsfanx: Just do some simple math. This ain’t even advanced metrics. If the average of 8 regulars compile 2 hits more a week each, it’s around 400 more hits.

          Cincy, as a team last year, hit .249 (which includes pitchers) … and if you add 416 hits to their total from a year ago, it jumps to .286.

          That’s 2 hits A WEEK per starter.

          Silly how that works.

          I agree that going farther in the playoffs is the goal, but it’s not a target you can identify. You have to get there first. Then, it’s pitching matchups that you cannot discern in January or even August.

          You have to have depth, luck, health, some breaks and another 2 hits a week per player. You need to score 3 runs in the first inning to save your bullpen.

          And you can’t slide head first into 3rd base on opening day.

          Playing better is all you can do, a minute, a batter, an inning at a time. I need to get to the playoffs. The 2012 team was good enough. Last year, they weren’t.

          Are the Reds better? Maybe not.

          Get 2 hits a week more per hitter and you won’t be disappointed.

  10. I’m a fan of both Frazier and Cozart–I think both still have considerable upside and will be better than “adequate” or “serviceable” in the next few seasons. BUT, IF FRAZIER IS ARGUABLY THE BEST RIGHT HAND HITTER IN THE REDS’ LINEUP, HOW CAN OUR TEAM BE REALISTICALLY EXPECTED TO CONTEND FOR A PENNANT? There’s just not enough pitching to compensate for that! Also, an outfield of Ludwig, Hamilton, and Bruce is offensively one of the weakest in baseball–apologies to Bruce. Oh, man. I’m thinking without changes, maybe 85-77.

    • @Carl Hudson: Agreed on the team outlook if Frazier is anywhere near being the best RH hitter.

      Do not agree on your prognosis of Frazier and Cozart. They were both slow to the majors (both older than Bruce) and have considerable Minor League stats which suggest they are likely close to their ceilings (as would also their ages).

    • I’m thinking without changes, maybe 85-77.

      I’m thinking you are pretty dead on there. I ran the Steamer Projections for the Reds through the spreadsheet, and as currently configured, the Reds are looking at a Pythagorean projected record of 86-76.

      • @Tom Diesman:

        Washington and Arizona, which both finished just behind the Reds for the final wild card playoff spot, made significant improvements to their respective teams. Reds and Pirates are spinning their wheels. 86-76 doesn’t make the NL playoffs. How does 86-76 stack up compared to the other NL contenders? The LAD, SF, ARI, WAS, ATL, STL and PIT.

  11. I really don’t get people continuing to say LF is a problem.

    Personally, I believe Ludwick will do just fine. He was injured last year, and I expect him to put up numbers in line with his career norms if healthy. I expect something like .260/.330/20-25 HR from him with average defense. Basically, a repeat of his first year with the Reds with some decline for age.

    I think the reason why Ludwick gets derided around here is because a lot of people HATED it when Jocketty brought him in, then had to quietly eat crow when Ludwick went back to hitting like he did in St. Louis. So now that he had an injured season, a lot of people get to use it to justify their original dislike of bringing him in and say that he is a problem, completely ignoring that he was injured. A similar thing happened around here with Arroyo after his “mono” season.

    Ludwick is on record saying he thinks playing in San Diego messed with his hitting mechanics, and based on results, I tend to believe him. I mean, really, look at his stats. After being made a full-time player in 2007, he pretty much put up numbers like he did his first year here. Then he goes to San Diego and BOOM suddenly he becomes “washed up”? Look no further than his 2010 season: He was a 2.3 WAR player in St. Louis and, THAT VERY SAME SEASON, was a -0.6 WAR player in San Diego. I’m sorry, no one becomes “washed up” that fast.

    Basically, I think Ludwick will be just fine in LF and I think all the handwringing over LF is unfounded. He is going to be about a 2.0 WAR player for the Reds this upcoming season if healthy. Not fantastic, but certainly nothing to worry too much about.

    • @CI3J: I think Ludwick would be a perfect pinch hitter for the Reds. He can’t play defense and can’t hit righties. He would however, provide some pop off the bench from the right side. Unfortunately, he’s the best we have right now.

    • @CI3J: Steamer projections and Oliver projections aren’t liking Ludwick very much. They have him at an OPS of .728 and OPS of .724 respectively. I personally think he’ll beat those projections some but I think he’ll fall short of his career line. I haven’t officially projected him using my system yet but I’m betting it will be in the neighborhood of .250/.320/.420.

    • @CI3J: If you’re talking about in line with his (recent) career norms, it’s not very good. He had that 130 OPS+ year for the Reds in 2012, but in 2011 he had a 90 OPS+, in 2010 he had a 104 OPS+, and in 2009 he had a 105 OPS+… so honestly, the 70 of last year is closer to what you can probably expect than the 130 of 2012.

      Ryan Ludwick has had NEGATIVE WAR, and 0.2 or less oWAR (so it wasn’t just his defense tanking him) in 4 of his last 5 seasons. So when you talk about going back to norms, negative WAR is pretty much his norm at this part of his career. It’s 2012 that was the odd year, not 2013.

      • @CI3J: If you’re talking about in line with his (recent) career norms, it’s not very good. He had that 130 OPS+ year for the Reds in 2012, but in 2011 he had a 90 OPS+, in 2010 he had a 104 OPS+, and in 2009 he had a 105 OPS+… so honestly, the 70 of last year is closer to what you can probably expect than the 130 of 2012.

        Ryan Ludwick has had NEGATIVE WAR, and 0.2 or less oWAR (so it wasn’t just his defense tanking him) in 4 of his last 5 seasons. So when you talk about going back to norms, negative WAR is pretty much his norm at this part of his career. It’s 2012 that was the odd year, not 2013.

        See, this is exactly the mistake I think people make when they look at Ludwick. They look at his time in San Diego and say “Man, he’s washed up.” However, as I said in my original post, Ludwick has claimed that playing in San Diego messed up his swing mechanics. I was skeptical at first, but he seemed to re-discover the form he had from his pre-San Diego days in Cincinnati. And I simply don’t count 2013 for any kind of reliable stats since he was injured (and a shoulder injury to boot).

        Basically, I believe that Ludwick truly is the player he was in St. Louis, before he went to San Diego and lost himself in 2010. That means you are looking at a guy who put up about a .350 OBP. Basically, if you were to chart a normal decline using the St. Louis version as a starting point, that is what led me to believe he is capable of an OBP around .325-.330.

        Of course, this all hinges on you believing that Ludwick was telling the truth when he said San Diego screwed him up and that his first year here wasn’t a fluke, but rather just him rediscovering what made him successful in St. Louis. As I have said before, I do tend to believe him.

        Bottom line is, I think we all can agree he is going to be better than what he showed in 2013. Trying to judge a player coming back from a shoulder injury suffered that same season isn’t fair to a player. He wasn’t in shape, wasn’t at full strength, didn’t have his timing, didn’t trust his shoulder, etc. It’s actually remarkable he did as “well” as he did. As I said, it is akin to everyone on here writing off Arroyo after his mono season.

    • @CI3J: I think the problems that many fear with Ludwick are:
      1. He’s getting older.
      2. A shoulder injury, is just they kind of injury that old guys don’t bounce back from with a high success rate.
      3. He was torrid for 2 months in 2012, not much before or after that stretch. (sound like Rolen?)

      I’ll eat a whole flock of crows if he gets comeback player of the year award. (or finishes 2nd…to….CUETO!)

    • @CI3J: Unless WJ can swing a major trade involving a RH corner OF bat that includes Ludwick, Ludwick will be the opening day LF at GABP in 2014. Ludwick’s contract makes that no doubt and no question. I thought sending Ludwick out on a rehab assignment after the all star break last season and reactivating Ludwick from the DL in mid August last season were acts of desperation by WJ and Dusty. I also believe that Ludwick will be ready to hit and play LF on opening day 2014 after an off season of conditioning and strengthing his shoulder. I don’t think Ludwick’s shoulder will be 100%, but it will be close. Ludwick will be MUCH better than the 2013 version, although not as good as the 2012 version.

      I wish the Old Cossack was equally confident with Hamilton and Phillips setting the table for Votto, Bruce and Ludwick. Bruce will provide excellent protection behind Votto in 2014 and Ludwick will help provide adequate protection for both Bruce and Votto, but if 1B is continually open when Votto comes to the plate, opposing pitchers are NOT going to pitch to Votto, especially after Votto demonstrates a power resurgence and doubles again start flying off his bat and reverberating off the walls around GABP.

      Another aspect of Ludwick’s contributions that were missing last season was his leadership and clubhouse presence. That contribution should not be minimized as we move toward opening day 2014 at GABP.

      • @Shchi Cossack:

        Well said, Old Cossack, and I tend to agree. While I’m sure all of us (WJ included) would take an upgrade in LF, I do believe Ludwick is nowhere near the #1 cause for worry going into next year.

  12. Hey, but Super Todd had the second most steals on the team last year (not counting Hamilton).

    Uh-hem – with 6. Of course he was caught 5 times. (Votto also had 6 with a bum knee.)

    Not very aggressive on the base paths last year.

    Team Steals:
    2013 – 67 (Without Hamilton-11 and Choo-20 it was 36.)
    2012 – 87
    2011 – 97
    2010 – 93
    2009 – 96

  13. I think the problem is that when you scroll through our projected 8 regulars, for 6 of them, you end up saying, “Oh, he’s not bad just plug him into the 6, 7, or 8 spot and he’ll do just fine.” That’s when you realize we have one superstar, one very very good player, and 6 unproven bottom of the order players. You can only plug so many guys into the bottom of line up.

    • @bohdi: I agree. Statistically speaking we had two above average hitters last year, and two that were hovering around average. Votto and Bruce provide an excellent core to the middle of our line up. Phillips and Frazier in their better years are above average, I believe. Ludwick can be that too, it’s just that pesky shoulder injury is a hard thing to come back from as a power hitter. Hopefully Mesoraco joins this group with more AB’s.

      So we’ll have 4-6 players that we can feel relatively confident about. But the pendulum could just as easily swing the other way. Phillips could continue to decline. Mes could struggle with the full catching load on him. Hamilton could prove he’s not ready. Cozart could be who we think he is. Frazier could bounce back but not to the degree of 2012, and Ludwick could never fully bounce back from this injury. If that’s the case, we’re looking worse than last year because this year we don’t have the OB-machine that is Choo at the top of our line up.

      • @hotto4votto: Just who do you think Cozart is? I wonder who everyone thinks is playing SS, is he Barry Larkin? NO. Is he Hanley Ramirez? NO. Is he Clint Barmes or Jhonny Peralta? No, he is better and he is younger and not linked to PEDs. The team that beat the Reds two years ago didnt have those guys either. Cozart is a steady shortstop, not spectacular, but he hits enough and has some pop. How many teams would take that at SS? Most teams would, I bet. Would I take Jean Segura, sure, but I doubt he is coming anytime soon.

        Many have commented on how the Reds have made some bad FA signings, too much money for too much time. Then I read the trades people propose and you would add more salary and contracts that will weigh down the team for years. The Reds, if they are going to be like the Rays, need to depend on the farm system to replenish talent

        • @redmountain: I think I buy into this assessment. I am inclined to pin some hope on a new dugout staff as opposed to conjuring up some trades that didn’t get made for reasons that make more sense if you are the GM.

      • @hotto4votto: Three actually if you count Choo. Votto, Bruce, and Choo. Then there was always someone of the other 5 who was hot, so half the lineup was pretty good.

        Bruce was more consistent last year than in other years. That really is the only difference between his excellent year and years in the past. He learned to hit to opposite fields and started taking long ABs. That was a breakthrough for him and the reason his slumps lasted days not months.

    • I think the problem is that when you scroll through our projected 8 regulars, for 6 of them, you end up saying, “Oh, he’s not bad just plug him into the 6, 7, or 8 spot and he’ll do just fine.” That’s when you realize we have one superstar, one very very good player, and 6 unproven bottom of the order players. You can only plug so many guys into the bottom of line up.

      Exactly. All 6 of those guys taken individually in a vacuum as we used to say, are passable to a degree or another. However as a group there are no standouts among them which is what the Reds lineup needs at least one or two added.

  14. I am going to say something on here that may be controversial but it certainly appears that the Reds’ management truly believes that Dusty Baker and Brook Jacoby were the problems. Why do I say this? We are about 45 days from the beginning of training camp and basically there have been little or no action on the trade front or free agent front. We signed Skip Schumaker but I was certainly hoping for more. As far as Frazier is concerned, he is somewhere between 2012 and 2013. He was bad at times last season but I do expect him to improve especially with a new hitting philosophy. I am unsure what Jacoby’s philosophy but to “wail away” at everything. In fact, I fully expect everyone to improve at the plate. Cozart has surprised me with his range. He had good range at the minors but he has definitely improved on that since he came to Cincinnati. To be honest, I think that Ludwick’s hitting will improve if Joey Votto comes back on a tear and Bruce can step it up another notch. I do believe that everyone is going to have to have a “career year” for the Reds to win the Central this year.

    • @icee82: I’ve always bought into the idea of replacing the dugout staff before we re-invent the team. I’m willing to see how that works before trading 3 guys to Seattle for 4 guys, who we can trade to New York for 3 other guys.

    • @icee82: Cozart had a minor league .330 OBP. He has a major league OBP of .287. I think we can all live with a .254 average if he can get his OBP over .315. If he did that then no one would be talking about Cozart being defensive-only player

      So let me tie that in to what you wrote: Just like with Frazier, I think Cozart could possibly improve with a different philosophy. What I like about Don Long (from what I read in his interview at Baseball Prospectus) is that he looks for what works with the hitter. I love Dusty as a person, but the dude had a huge ego. He knew better than anyone. After all, he played with… legends. He was friends with the stars. He was a renaissance man. Long takes a different approach. He seems exceptionally humble to me. He says he will find what works. That is the nut of it. No more spray and pray. No more swing early, swing often. No more “only good things happen when you put the ball in play”. If that works for a player then great. I am certain that both Frazier and Cozart were pressed into a the Baker mindset when they came under the tutelage regardless of whether it worked for them.

      Not all players, but MOST young players got worse the longer they worked with Baker/Jacoby. That also told me something. I wonder what Stubbs might have been if he had come up in the Brewer or Cardinal systems.

      I don’t know if Long is the man, but I see nothing wrong with them thinking they can take the talent already here and fix it. Price did it with the pitching staff. I think it can be done with hitters as well. I know nothing about Long other than what I read in that article. But I do trust Price and Long is Price’s man.


      • @TC: Thanks for the link. That’s the first introspect I’ve seen into Don Long. His basic approach appears to be based on the Ted Williams hitting philosophy and the Old Cossack likes that a lot. The proof will be in the pudding but like a wise man said recently…

        I don’t know if Long is the man, but I see nothing wrong with them thinking they can take the talent already here and fix it. Price did it with the pitching staff. I think it can be done with hitters as well. I know nothing about Long other than what I read in that article. But I do trust Price and Long is Price’s man.

        This dang off season may be the longest and most frustrating off season on record. I think we (the Old Cossack included) need to take a step back and wait to see how things shake out. WJ has tied his reputation to the new coaching staff and the roster he controls. GM’s have a longer leash than managers, but there are limits to even long leashes. BC has fully demonstrated those long-leash limits.

        • @Shchi Cossack: Means a lot coming from you.

        • @Shchi Cossack:

          GM’s have a longer leash than managers, but there are limits to even long leashes. BC has fully demonstrated those long-leash limits.

          WJ’s contract is up after this season. So he has more than just his reputation riding on this. That is the puzzling part by the lack of anything significant coming from the front office so far, after firing Baker.
          Even more puzzling is the appearance that they have settled in with a platoon of Ludwick/Shumaker in LF and BHam and Heisey in CF. That is not what I would want to stake my job and rep to.

  15. You either re-load, re-tool, re-build, or regress.
    Re-loading with a little re-tooling are what the Cardinals do.
    Texas and the NYY are taking the re-tooling road.
    Re-building is what the Marlins do.
    Regression, it appears, as though the Reds front office has chosen to proceed with this approach.
    The anticipation for Opening Day is nowhere near what is was at this time last year, or the year before.
    Hey WJ, Where’s the Beef??!!

    • @WVRedlegs:

      Maybe I have been drinking the Reds’ Kool Aid but I am excited about opening day. We had a good team last year but we played very uninspired baseball. In addition, we lost two key cogs in the wheel. We lost Ryan Ludwick basically for the year on opening day and Cueto was on the DL two or three times. I put blame totally on Dusty Baker and the coaching staff for the lack of intensity. Dusty never wanted them to feel any pressure. Well…when the pressure has been applied for the past two seasons, the Reds wilted in the post season. Let’s see how Bryan Price handles this team. Frankly I believe this coaching staff will get this team moving in the right direction. I still believe that many of the Reds will need to have “career years” for them to win and the top of the lineup is still a huge concern. Will Billy Hamilton hit enough to be a good man at the top of the lineup? With his speed and his ability to bunt, he should have defenses playing tentative and be able to smack balls past drawn in infields in anticipation of a bunt. I am looking forward to opening day. Let’s get it on!

    • @WVRedlegs: You know I am a fan of your posts, but I have to take a different view on this one.

      While that sounds great, it is pseudo-wisdom. Re-re-re. Well done, that. But what about re-pair, re-store, re-work, re-vise, re-fine.

      In my personal life when something is broken or not performing well I don’t go out quickly and replace it. That’s wasteful. I try to fix the problem first. Only when there is no hope to fix it, or if I don’t have it in the first place do I go out and purchase something, which is essentially what you are saying.

      • @TC:

        I look at the Reds lineup 1-8 like it is an 8-cylinder engine. All cylinders need to be operating efficiently for the machine (BRM) to operate at peak performance. When doing an analysis of the 1-8 spots or cylinders.
        We know #3 and #5 are at peak. If BP and Cozart hit in the #2 and #7 spots respectively all year, those spots should be OK. BHAM in the #1 spot should also be OK. He won’t match Choo’s OBP, but he certainly could eclipse the number of runs scored. That’s my hope for the #1 spot. That leaves us with the #4 spot, the #6 spot and the # 8 spot. #8 was overhauled by the Hanigan trade and Mes promotion. That should be OK. My hope for the #6 spot is that Frazier will rebound, or that Mes hits his way into the #6 spot and Frazier moves to 8.
        Now that just leaves the #4 spot. The Big Black Hole. The machine can operate on only 7 cylinders, but not at a winning rate. It needs all 8. The parts are just not there on the Reds roster (Ludwick, Shumaker, Heisey) to make the #4 cylinder run at peak performance. An important cylinder like that needs to operate at peak performance.
        We have to go get that part. Are we going to be the Big Red Express in 2014, or the little choo-chooless engine that could.

  16. The Reds couldn’t ask for a better ambassador than Todd Frazier…

    “Team-wise, [I want] to get back into the playoffs and do a little more damage than we did. We are expecting to have a good team again, a new coaching staff [which] understands the game very well, and I can’t wait until Spring Training to see what we’ve got.”

    “Bear with us. Bear with me, bear with the team,” Frazier said. “We’re coming. We’ve got a good nucleus coming back. Everybody is going to be healthy again. Health is a big issue. Two years ago, we won the division and everybody was healthy. Once everybody is healthy, we’re going to be all right.”

    How many WAR is good ambassadorship worth?

    • @Shchi Cossack: I should think a bad attitude would be a negative WAR but at worst, a player ought come out as being interested in doing his job as well as he can.

  17. Bohdi, we have 2 superstars on this team as Jay Bruce, if he were a free agent would make a lot more than Choo did.

    I agree on Ludwick CI3J. I can easily see him with the 20-25 HRs you mention and 80 RBIs. I can easily see Mesoraco in the the same 20-25 with 80 RBIs and those numbers are where Super Todd will be also. Any of those three could blow up into a 30-100 guy with this team.

    No doubt that we will need to improve the bottom of the order for RBIs. I see Jay Bruce with 89 runs in each of the last 2 years and see a bigger problem than Joey Votto’s RBI total since Jay knocked himself in 30 times. Choo scores 107, Joey 101, Bruce 89, Phillips 80, Todd 63 and Cozart 74.

    Lead off is a big deal and you need 100 runs there and the 3 spot. The Reds also need that at 4 and 5. Our best players have to be scoring 100 runs

    • @reaganspad: I guess that depends on how you quantify “superstar” but I wouldn’t include Bruce just yet. He certainly has the potential. He had the 36th best WAR of qualified hitters last year and 53rd best wRC+. As much as we all love Jay Bruce that is not a superstar in my opinion.

      The bottom line is that he has the potential to be one jsut like the other players have the potential to be better than they were last year. In the end though, pretty much every player is a toss-up of whether they will improve on 2013, and we’re putting a lot of hope into a lot of players improving.

      • @bohdi: maybe by those numbers. Jay Bruce is worth a lot more on the free agent market than Choo.

        Guess I look at the replacement costs of a 30 HR, 100 RBI gold glover who could play center field and turns 27 in April. We are talking about the costs of Stanton on these pages. Bruce is worth more and he is getting better each year.

        All Jay needs to do is hit 300 once and the tag will be there. I think Jay can hit 300 even as soon as 2014. If not he hits 275ish and we debate next year whether a guy who hits 40 HRs and has a 120 RBIs is a superstar.

        Get ready for a big year from Jay (one that raises the debate)

  18. There’s a NSFW ad on this site right now. You should block those.

    • There’s a NSFW ad on this site right now. You should block those.

      This ^^^

  19. So.. January 2nd has passed by, and still the biggest addition that the Reds have made is Skip Schumaker (aka 30-something Former Cardinal #23 or so)…. seriously?

    Is there at least some rumors or whispers about the Reds doing anything right now? Anything?

  20. The Enquirer’s Red’s blog has been deader than a door nail for over a week now. Sheldon reappeared once only to post nothing was happening and hasn’t blogged a thing since. I’d say these are likely indicators nothing is going on.

    • @OhioJim: Yeah, I google ‘Reds rumors’ daily and there is absolutely nothing new anywhere. I’ve been convinced for a while now that what we see is what we are getting, and not a thing has changed that opinion.

    • @OhioJim: Assuming people take time off around the holidays, is this surprising?

      If nothing happens until Feb. 23, does this mean anything?

      Dunno … but being busy and quiet is still being busy.

    • @OhioJim: Meh. It’s January 3rd. They have until April to improve the team.

    • @OhioJim:

      I went to the Reds twitter page to check. (search #Reds) Nothing going on. I clicked on the photos tabbed, just to check it out, and got greeted by some of the prettiest double-D’s I’ve ever seen. Check it out. Just what a cold blustery day needs.

  21. I need to believe that the Reds’ front-office knows what they have and knows what they don’t have, better than I do. Right now, I see a team that can win between 87-92 games. But there’s a chance I’m wrong. If this game was played purely based on mathematics, then Baseball Prospectus would be correct every year in projecting the final standings.

  22. Frazier is just fine as long as he isn’t your third best offensive player, which just might be the case next season. If Phillips, Ludwick and Meso produce (in addition to Votto and Bruce) fans ought to be content with Frazier.

  23. Why is it people sometimes feel inclined to speak for other people – have never understood it.

Comments are closed.

About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.


2014 Reds