As much as we’d prefer the reality to be otherwise, baseball teams from markets the size of Cincinnati won’t compete for the division championship every year.

That’s not to say that Reds fans should have low expectations. The Castellini family has seen to that. When he bought the team, Bob Castellini promised Cincinnati and Reds fans a winner. He has boosted payroll spending – a generous increase of $30 million in just the past two seasons – to record levels. Thanks to Castellini’s commitment and, candidly, the size of his wallet, Reds fans can now expect to compete for the NL Central title as a rite that accompanies Opening Day.

But there are limits. Limits mostly related to tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles. Even though the Reds sport the highest payroll in the division, they still operate in an altogether different luxury-tax bracket from the Dodgers and Yankees. The tidal wave of injuries that began to rise even as the Reds started stretching exercises in Goodyear has washed away not only their fair-weather plans, but also swamped the emergency preparations. (The relatively inactive off-season didn’t help. But that’s, um, water under the Brent Spence bridge.)

At the All-Star break, the Reds had narrowed the gap with first-place Milwaukee and shown great resilience. It was natural for us to have hopes that they could keep the battle going until reinforcements arrived. The Reds had benefitted from way-above-norm production from a collection of replacement (or below) players. But the unavoidable truth about improbable events is that they are improbable.

The team’s recent struggles have driven home the discouraging reality that the Reds we’ve seen this week are what we’ll watch the next month. It’s time to acknowledge that the Reds don’t have a credible chance to compete for the post-season. And the acquisition of Ben Zobrist, Marlon Byrd or Alex Rios won’t change that. Those trades would waste whatever assets the Reds had to spend to achieve them.

Many will still clamor for Walt Jocketty to step on the gas and deal for fresh troops. But it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that deadline trades would be a fool’s errand.

—–

So if a pedal-to-the-floor approach is pointless, should the Reds instead slam on the brakes and break up the team? Trade Jay Bruce! Trade Johnny Cueto! Trade Homer Bailey! Trade all the bad players! Trade all the good ones, too! Trade them all, twice if we can!

That sentiment is born of understandable frustration. But it is based on emotion, not clear-eyed or logical thinking. Where is the evidence that such strategies work more often than they fail? Sure, the tearing down would happen. But there’s no guarantee when or even if the team would recover. You can’t cast off your valuable pieces and expect to compete the next season or even necessarily the year after that. And I doubt ownership would put up with the wrecking-ball.

Happily, such a bloodletting isn’t necessary. For 2015, the Reds retain a strong core of four outstanding pitchers in the prime of their careers. A new and improved version Tony Cingrani could join that mix. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco, to go with a healthy Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, give the lineup a strong  foundation. Billy Hamilton and Zack Cozart provide valuable pieces up the middle. Aroldis Chapman, one of the best arms in baseball, returns as well. That collection is a great starting point.

Acquiring a significant leftfielder and making a decision about Brandon Phillips would remain the lead agenda items (sound familiar?). But the organization is not only well positioned to take those steps they surely have been disabused of the crippling complacency that they don’t need to.

Fans often use “window” analogies to discuss the obstacles their teams face. But that metaphor is too simple and too static. Homeowners – and owners of major league baseball teams – have many windows. And they also can hire remodelers. Organizations solve window problems easily, by acting – in this case, by developing, trading or signing players to extensions, and by acquiring free agents. Remember the terrifying Votto Window? The Reds can afford to continue to increase their payroll for the foreseeable future. Their future can be seen through a panoramic vista, not a window.

The next time you find yourself falling for a call for radical overhaul, ask yourself what this Reds team would have been capable of if they had just stayed reasonably healthy.

—–

Instead of gunning the engine or throwing the team into reverse, it’s time for the Reds’ front office to tap the brakes and become limited sellers.

This isn’t a call for surrender. The 2014 roster, eventually supplemented by a healthy Brandon Phillips, and possibly a better version of Joey Votto, would still be competitive. But a strategy change toward limited selling is a recognition that the odds of success this year are too high, and the best interest of the organization is in emphasizing improvement of the 2015 team, not the current one.

The new strategy may seem like an awkward pivot for an organization which days before was focused on acquisitions that would help in 2014. But the nuanced truth is that successful general managers are nimble and always thinking about how to balance the needs of the present with the interest of the future.

—–

The Reds have at least two players – Jonathan Broxton and Alfredo Simon – who would be highly attractive to contending teams at the deadline, worth more than they would be in the off-season. A basic rule of deal making is to sell when the value of your asset is at its peak. Broxton and Simon’s worth will never be higher than during the sellers’ market this week. The Reds should capitalize. Otherwise, they’ll miss a valuable opportunity to improve the team in 2015 and beyond.

In shopping Broxton and Simon now, the Reds should look for the best prospects they can acquire. Their smartest trades as sellers won’t be for major league players. Broxton and Simon have tremendous value to contenders. But those teams won’t give up meaningful position players while they’re trying to win this year.

They will, however, give up prospects. Trading for prospects doesn’t commit the Reds to long-term rebuilding. The front office can turn around and use those players in the off-season to acquire that much-needed impact left fielder.

Jonathan Broxton has pitched well enough in 2014 that a team could rightly consider him capable of closing games. His $9 million contract for 2015 is an outrageous overpayment for a set-up reliever anywhere but New York and Los Angeles but it’s market compensation for an established closer. Broxton doesn’t quite have the recent track record of Houston Street, who was just traded from the Padres to the Angels for four top prospects, but it’s close. Broxton would be a considerably cheaper acquisition than Jonathan Papelbon, who the Phillies are shopping. And Broxton’s fastball is better, too.

(The one circumstance where I wouldn’t trade Broxton is if the Reds decide to try Aroldis Chapman in the starting rotation.)

Alfredo Simon’s attractiveness as a trade chip comes not only from his performance in 2014, but also because of his contract. Simon earns $1.5 million this year and files for third-year arbitration next season. He would appeal to a small-market team in contention that needs a #3 or #4 starting pitcher this year and that could use Simon either in the bullpen or as a starter next year. Simon is not quite Jeff Samardzija, who was traded from the Cubs to the Oakland A’s for top prospects, but Simon and his contract are close to that, especially to organizations that can’t resist the old-school dazzle of his win-loss record and ERA.

—–

—–

Going all out and falling short can have significant impact beyond the near-term failure – namely the valuable missed opportunities and the sacrificed assets.

Could Walt Jocketty spit in the face of the Great Injury Deluge of 2014, step on the gas, put a comb in his mouth and try to propel the Reds toward the 2014 finish line? Sure. And he’d have plenty of Reds fans with him, lined up along the dragstrip with our headlights on and fingers crossed.

But the right strategy isn’t stubbornly going over the cliff or jumping out of the car at the last second. It’s tapping the brakes. Jim Stark might have survived the contest, but his car didn’t.

I recommend this course aware of my drawer full of yet-to-be-used season tickets for 2014. If the Reds make smart moves now for 2015 and beyond, it won’t diminish my enthusiasm for this year’s model. I’ll show up at GABP through September, excited for my team and its future, knowing it’s headed in the right direction.

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! 105 Comments

  1. I get what you are saying here, and I don’t entirely disagree. But it seems under the current roster make up that 2015 is a penultimate season for the Reds. My concern is that this group of Reds has not taken any steps towards those championships that Castellini alluded to when he bought the team. I would be in complete agreement with you if the Reds would have made the LCS last year, but they didn’t get past the play-in game. This team has been plagued with injuries for a couple of years now. One could argue that is being “snake-bitten” or one could say they are simply injury prone. (I am not a doctor, and am not suggesting one over the other.) I don’t want irrational moves made that hurt the franchise long term, but I am leery or repeating the 2014 season on the if, come, maybe that guys that haven’t made it past the Divisional Series suddenly figure out how to make a deep run in October. If trading fan favorites, All-Stars, starting pitchers, big name players, role players, or bat boys makes the team competitive beyond 2015 then I am all for it.

  2. So, who, exactly in the organization is the “Rebel Without a Cause”?

  3. I very often disagree with the weight you give to “advanced” metrics, but I will say this is one of the best evaluations I have read about where a team is at and what they should do at the trade deadline. Dealing Sim and Broxton (or Chapman) would re-seed the minors without blowing up the core, great suggestion.

  4. Agreed, anything else would be trading a core piece or a spare part (ie Schumacher Pena etc) not worth much value

  5. Good piece of writng. Not a bad flick either.

  6. The last time the Reds dropped six in a row, the powers that be didn’t waste any time making a move. I hope things are similar this time around — and I agree that there are far too many holes to plug for any one acquisition to fix. Unload, restock and start preparing for 2015 now.

    Just like last year, what a difference a week makes.

  7. I agree that trading Simon could work out well.. But you may want to consider keeping Simon and trading one of the other starting pitchers (Leake, Cueto, Latos). The reason: Economics. Simon is a very inexpensive starter. While he may not perform at these levels forever, he is still above averge. Leake, Cueto and Latos all have contracts coming up and it will be difficult to keep all of them, so trade one of them. Latos or Cueto should bring back a good haul and the Reds have Cingrani, Stephenson and Lorenzen who could fill the last SP spot in 2015. The money saved could be put toward a bat or to inking contracts for the pitchers that you’d like to keep.

  8. Regardless, I’m keeping my MLB.TV & comfortably settling in, watching my Reds go into spoiler mode for as many of these Wild Card seeking teams that cross their path. GO REDS.

  9. Well reasoned, well written. I would love to see a few more names in the system to get excited about.

  10. Great post, Steve. I’m all for trading Broxton and Simon. I’m not sure how much they would bring in return, seeing as how all the other teams have access to the same advanced stats we do, which show they are both likely to falter some over the rest of the season. But if either one could bring a couple good prospects, then I say go for it.

    We can also show other GM’s our clearance aisle, including the likes of Ludwick and Schumaker.

    • Get your “Veteran Grit”, 2 for 1 special now!

      • I agree. Those veterans are not a part of the immediate future (they are barely a part of the present). This may also be the only time of the year they can unload Ludwick’s contract without being forced to cover part of it.

  11. Here is the issue I have with the “tap the brakes” approach. The Reds have three “for better or for worse players” (Bailey, Votto, Phillips) as well as a handful of relatively cheap “core” players that are, as far as I am concerned, the silver lining to this season (Mesoraco, Hamilton, Frazier). These are the players that are not going anywhere, by virtue of contract or value.

    Then, there are the “middling” players. These are the guys who are not locked up long-term and provide varying levels of value. Of these, Simon, Cueto, Chapman, and Broxton would be the (only) trade chips the Reds have at this point. I seriously doubt the stock of these players could possibly be higher than it will be over the next week. So, my argument is a utilitarian one and is actually the exact argument that Steve offered (“A basic rule of deal making is to sell when the value of your asset is at its peak.”). I contend that the Reds should not exclude Chapman or Cueto from this same logic.

    If Broxton or Simon could bring back some viable talent to help the club in 2015 and beyond, what about Chapman and Cueto? Closers are replaceable and as exciting and entertaining as the Missile has been, there are quite a few guys with a similar save conversion rate and abandoning the role of closer altogether may actually result in better outcomes (though that is a different argument altogether). So, why keep him around if some team will overpay for Chapman? Cueto’s dominance this year has been wonderful and I appreciate what he has done in a Reds uniform. However, if he could bring back a couple of top notch prospects, why not trade him? . . . Is one more year of him worth not having a Joc Pederson/Corey Seager added to the stable of prospects (jump in before the Rays beat you to it, Walt!)? . . .

    Ultimately, I think this is a long-term question of strategy. What is the job of the GM? My argument is that the GM’s job is to obtain maximum long-run utility out of the players within the budgetary constraints of the team. I do not want to even consider what 2016 and beyond look like for the Reds without some serious influx of young, price-controlled talent.

    • I am fine with trading Chapman or Cueto, for the right return. But any package for Cueto better include a stud major-league ready corner outfielder, and a top second base prospect.

      • The best thing that may be happening to the Reds right now is the Red Sox and Rays creeping back into the AL East race. If Price and (to a lesser extent) Peavy/Lester are less likely to be moved, this means it is even more of a seller’s market than it has been to this point. I truly believe that the Dodgers would give up two of their three best prospects (Pederson/Seager/Urias) for Cueto at this point. I think it is insane not to approach them and hopefully Walt has done so or will do so.

    • My thinking exactly. Less inclined to trade Cueto because of how good he is but if they know they won’t sign him then makes sense. Chapman though makes perfect sense. As electric as he is, closers just are not that valuable. The incremental value that he adds over another option or closer by committee is just not that great compared to say an ace starting pitcher or everyday position player. BTW, Chapman will never be as good as a starter…too few pitches and not enough control. I am tired of hearing people talking about converting him to starter. Ugh!

  12. I agree with your statement of Starting Chapman, but I would do it regardless of if you trade Broxton. The window is short for him to get up to 90-100 innings as a starter.

    You have to put your best players on the field and Chapman is one of them.

    Broxton and Simon are afterthoughts on this team when it was assembled. If they can bring back value, sell high.

    Chapman slots right into Simon’s spot. Diaz reminds me of Simon 2 years ago….

    now that Winker is hurt, i would look at moving Taylor Sparks to the big club. This team needs a bat and he is a spark and just played at college level. He is wasting away with an 1100 OBPS at Billings.

    These college kids can move fast because of the competition. If Ervin was healthy, I would promote him to.

    These kids can do something that we need on the big club> Hit with an idea of the strike zone

    • Sparks tearing things up in Billings is hardly a signal that he’s ready for the bigs. Bottom line is there is no help for the big league club this season in the minors. Diaz reminds me more of Chapman than Simon also. Two pitch hard throwers with questionable location skills.

  13. Good post, and I agree that the Reds were be better served by acting as sellers these next few week instead of buyers. They just don’t have what it takes right now. But I believe the issues go way beyond the (dreadful) injury situation this year.

    I believe the whole organization, top to bottom, needs to greatly tighten up its operation if it ever hopes to accomplish anything of substance in this sport.

    For the record, I’d like to offer into evidence a lengthy list of things that really make you wonder about the professional competency of this organization (none of which relate to injuries).

    Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 Cincinnati Reds!:

    – daily TOOTBLAN (no signs of improvement)
    – 3B coach and his 20+ outs at home
    – Jay Bruce, enigma
    – Bruce, K machine, no improvement
    – Cozart, popup machine, no improvement
    – Heisey, pull everything, no improvement
    – OBP black-holes constantly in #2 spot (ode to Dusty)
    – RISP, especially man on 3rd less than 2 outs (many Ks)
    – Ludwick and his slow bat
    – Ludwick first pitch hackathon
    – Ludwick flailing at low outside stuff, no improvement
    – BP, never a legit #3 hitter even at career peak, but nobody in organization seems to know it
    – nobody consistently works counts except Votto (e.g. 8 walks in last 6 games)
    – lineup usually shut down by rookie pitcher
    – playing a man short on many occasions (with idle guys in the bullpen)
    – foot-dragging on injury/DL decisions
    – no legit MLB-quality backup 1B in system
    – chronically weak bench (for years), some even on multi-year deals
    – we got Jack for that
    – GM asleep at the wheel (again) as team turns into AAAA squad (WJ money quote: “it’s quiet out there”)
    – Mes (young and strong) not allowed to catch 3 days in a row
    – big bopper Mes usually batting 6th
    – personal catchers
    – Homer’s headspace (e.g. inability to hold a multi-run lead)
    – Hamilton, super-elite speed, average SB%
    – Chapman, super-elite speed, average save %
    – Cingrani’s lack of second pitch
    – Latos’ apparent lack of conditioning
    – our less-than-fiery leader Votto’s 1000 yard stare
    – lack of clear veteran leadership
    – huge payroll tied up in Votto/Phillips/Bailey (appears only Votto might be a top 50 player next few years)
    – top 10 prospect Soto and his 3 for 42 career line
    – Roger Bernadina
    – Christiani and Bell before Diaz and Contreras (and even Partch)
    – Home Run Hoover
    – multi-year deal for Logan
    – top P prospect Holmberg and his 2 inning start (showing average stuff)

    I’m sure I missed 10-20 more examples, so please add them to the historic record.

    Dealing with the injuries and the above examples of ineptitude, yet still being above .500, demonstrates how much raw talent exists on this team (esp P and D). With health and proper baseball acumen/discipline in place, this could be a 100-win team next year.

    This team will probably win 82-84 games in 2014.
    Adding a LF thumper for 2015 might add 5 wins.
    Cleaning up the mess described above might add 15 wins.

    So when we will see that “accountability?”

    • Wow, I expected to disagree with the vast majority of these. However, I found myself in agreement with many. Bruce, especially, has me worried.

      • I’m convinced Bruce has to be moved. I just don’t know how many more years we have to wait for “the Kid” to “get It”. Package him with Simon & Leake for a killer deal. Now.

        • Again, now is a terrible time to trade Bruce. He is having the worst season of his career, and you want to trade him? Talk about selling low. The Reds would get only a fraction of his true value in return.

          The best thing to do with Bruce is wait it out until he turns things around and becomes the slugger he has been the last few years. Then, you can trade him and actually get a legitimate return.

        • I wouldn’t want to trade Bruce right now. There would be little in return from a team wanting to contend this year. The good news for the Reds is simply this. If he falls off of the cliff and his career trajectory is not upward from this point, Walt and Bob don’t have to sign him.

    • A lot of these are just speculation and guess-work on your end. Some of the concerns are legit (the Reds hacking approach has got to stop starting in the minors and then working up to the bigs). Any time you are attributing things to mental conditions of the players though you’re just grasping at straws for an explanation. Example: Bailey’s supposed mental issues because he can’t “hold a lead”. Look back over his career, tell me where the pattern is. Half a season does not a pattern make and even if it did it’s entirely a guess on your part that it’s due to his mentality on the mound.

      Some of these I’m not sure what you want done. Chapman’s save percent? This is why all the metric guys shake their head at the idea of a closer. All the “great” (expensive) closers save at pretty much the same rate and the rest of the world saves at -almost- the same rate as the greats. I’m not sure what you want the organization to do about Chapman other than stop using a closer but that’s not really a realistic wish.

      I mean you listed Votto’s stare as an organizational concern? Latos lack of conditioning? The guy got injured and you specifically said before your list that you were going to list non-injury related issues. RISP hitting? How on earth do you fix that as an organization?

      I think what it comes down to (other than just venting/ranting) is that the Reds need to retool their process starting in the minors. They need to start preaching OBP and 2-strike approaches. They need to restock the minors in general (easier said than done) and they need to sit down after the season and evaluate the coaching. I won’t say that the outs at home are entirely the 3b coach’s fault because as a fan I just don’t know how much is Smith and how much is player error but it needs looked at.

      I’d also toss in that they need to stop over-valuing relief pitchers and the multi-year contracts to bench players should stop for the exact same reason.

      • They need to get ahead of the curve regarding conditioning and treatment of injuries. too many players have gone on the DL multiple times.

      • Yes, it was definitely a rant, but I stand by all my points.

        When I say that the whole organization needs to step up, that includes the players, and that includes their mental approach.

        As you said, a bottom-up re-engineering to install a better offensive philosophy would solve many of these issues, and I would start with that even though it would not bear much fruit for a few years.

        Indeed, we can’t get into people’s heads but we can observe external manifestations of their mental state. As for Votto, he seems like a great guy of high character, but I’m not sure he has the temperament (i.e. brooding, loner type) to be the leader of a ballclub (which by default he must be as the $200m man). This personality type was known before the big contract was signed. Even at a .950 OPS level of performance, there just seems to be something missing there. Nevertheless, Votto is the least of my concerns on this list and I certainly hope he gets healthy and productive again.

        As for Bailey, again the team has made a huge investment in a guy that does not seem to get the most of his talents, 6 years running now. Results matter.

        As for Chapman and his save %, it is not about fixing that, but it is about having an elite arm that pitches 60 innings per year. Because effective closers for the most part are replaceable, his arm is being under-used. The attempt to convert him into a starter was never a serious one.

        As for RISP, you think getting in a man on 3rd with 1 out or a man on 2nd with no outs comes down to pure luck? Just swing the bat and see what happens? It takes discipline and strategy to convert these chances into runs, and it seems the team fails repeatedly in this area.

        Maybe it is just me, but for Latos, he seems out of shape (i.e. carrying 20-25 extra pounds) and I think that contributes to leg and back issues. Maybe he is still young and used to coasting on talent, and hasn’t yet reached the “get serious” point of his career.

        The point I try to make with my list is that there is a quite tangible lack of discipline and optimized performance within this organization, on and off the field. It’s just not an enjoyable product to watch.

        It would be great to get a youngish (age 45-50) GM in there who can start to effect some positive changes. Jocketty is accomplished but ready for pasture, thus he is not the right man to mold this organization into something better over the next 5-10 years.

        • Again, my point wasn’t the overall theme of your rant (the Reds need to retool their approach from a hitting standpoint) but rather the assumptions you make about the players to add some of the points to your list. The easiest counter-example to your mental fortitude arguments is the Votto thing. First he doesn’t have to be the club leader simply because he’s getting paid the most. I don’t even understand the logic there. Leadership is a personality trait, not something that comes with seniority (common misconception) or a higher paycheck. Second I think you have him type-cast based on an early impression. Votto has made every effort to reach out more to the fans (did you catch his radio shows before the season started? They were fantastic) and from everything I’ve read the guy has never been a loner in the clubhouse. This is the same guy who spent last year learning Spanish just so he could talk to Cueto and the other Latin players in their own language.

          We can both agree that Chapman is being misused but there’s no solution there because for whatever reason the organization has decided he’s the closer. RISP you are going to score at a league average rate (with some variance) when you have league average hitters. If lesser hitters are up (and we have plenty of those) you’re going to score at a lesser rate. If your best hitters are up, you’ll score at a higher rate. That’s where the luck comes in. It’s most often about sequencing and a ton of other factors than it is about any particular skill.

        • My points go way beyond mere offensive approach and Votto’s facial expression; for example, the TOOTBLANs, front office actions, and lineup construction issues are separate issues. All of which speak to a lackluster organization that is underachieving.

          In general, I love Votto’s game but seven years in MLB is not an early impression. Leadership must come from the guys who are the foundation of the team and will be around for a few years. Leadership from the likes of Schumaker and Santiago does not mean much if they play part-time this year and are not here next year. And when you are one of the 10 highest paid in the game, you are expected to provide this aspect of performance as the “francise.” As a total package.

          It’s not the primary example from the list, as I mentioned dozens of other issues that are sub-optimal. I’d like to see more out of Votto than his normal blank stare. However, regardless of his personality, this team is very rough around the edges, despite great talent, and this situation ultimately boils down to mental discipline, preparation, and focus.

          It’s cool that you are satisfied with the product, but today’s standards (i.e. to become a championship-caliber MLB team) are higher.

    • “I believe the whole organization, top to bottom, needs to greatly tighten up its operation if it ever hopes to accomplish anything of substance in this sport.”

      Agree agree agree. When I think about what could have been with this team…

      I’ve never seen an organization absolutely waste the most precious element in MLB – dominant starting pitching – like the Reds have done. Chances like these – 3 year windows of 5 excellent starters – do not come along often, and won’t come again soon, regardless of who is in the minors.

      When you have a chance like this, you ACT on it, before anyone else can get their iron in the fire. One more bat before the all-star break is all the Reds needed to keep it going, and Walt and the braintrust did nothing. I actually think he is worse GM than Mike Brown.

      • I am not sure how the Reds have wasted 3-5 years of the best starting pitching. Pitching would seem to be an area where the Reds ARE well stocked for the future. OF is an another area where the Reds are full of prospects in the minors. If there is a legacy of Jocketty it is that the minors are in better shape than they were before. With new money coming in from TV, the Reds seem to be in a place where the Reds can make viable offers to Cueto and Latos and Leake. If they cannot sign them, then that is money they can give to someone else. I would think that Bruce has 1 more season to see if he is going to fish or cut bait and if he cant get his average up, then I would look to move him. Instead of a house cleaning I would urge a little tinkering.

      • With Votto and Phillips out, and Bruce mired in a season-long slump, you believe one bat was going to fix the season? 3 bats, maybe. To get really helpful bats, the Reds would likely have to give up some of that dominant starting pitching, so they would still have problems, just different problems. The injuries may not be an excuse, but they are clearly a major reason for the disappointing-to-date season.

    • Tell you what , that’s a pretty good and thorough synopsis there

    • How do you take any enjoyment out of watching a Reds game?

  14. I like the limited sellers suggestion, and Steve argues it well. The main thing for me is that WJ makes a decision to go one way or the other – try to trade for a couple of players who would give the Reds a real chance in 2014 (I think this can be done), but if the asking price is too high (judgment call of course), then do the kind of limited selling that Steve suggests. But don’t just sit there, do nothing, and say afterwards “there wasn’t anything out there”.

    Here’s why I’m not sure about tapping the breaks in 2014. The NL Central is a good division, but it’s up for grabs, there isn’t an especially good team. The Cardinals are also having problems with injuries and under-performing players. The Pirates don’t have much of a starting rotation. The Brewers pitching is suspect, the Reds beat them 7 out of 10 before this week’s collapse.

    Also what’s the problem with making the playoffs as a wild card team ? The Giants for example are a wild card (and a division) contender, and they suck. It’s a down year in the NL, which presents an opportunity.

    The 2014 Reds have one of their best starting rotations in ages. The back end of the bullpen is outstanding. The middle relief has quietly become adequate.

    Hamilton and Mes and Frazer are all exceeding expectations. BP will be back. Votto is an X factor, we don’t know how he’ll be in September. We should not assume the worst.
    Bruce might snap out of it for more than a week.

    If the Reds added Byrd and Zobrist, how many teams in the NL are clearly better ? Not many, and none in the NL Central. Jim Bowden is a jerk, but nonetheless he knows the Reds farm system (OK not as well as Doug Gray) and says the Reds can pick up both Byrd and Zobrist without trading Stephenson, Winker, Lorenzen, or Cingrani. If getting them means trading mid-level prospects, I’m for it, within reason. Mid-level prospects rarely develop into impact major league players.

    Before anyone jumps on me, please recall that I’m just saying “I’m not sure.” I don’t need to make up my mind, WJ needs to, and then go one way or the other.

    • The thing is, none of us ever really know what it would take to acquire player X from another team. Unless we do, we can never say “Walt should trade for player X RIGHT NOW!”

    • I think I agree with Pinson. If Byrd and Zobrist come cheaply enough — a big IF, I realize — I don’t see a down side. If they give the Reds a spark long enough for Phillips and Votto to return and we can contend in September, great. If not, we can keep Byrd for left field next year at $8 million, and we can either take or decline the option on Zobrist at $7.5 million for next year. (Yeah, I know we’d also be stuck with Ludwick at something like $9 million next year, or paying him $4.5 million to pinch hit or go elsewhere. Would be nice if somebody else wanted him right about now!)

      I strongly agree with trying to deal Broxton as a money-saving issue, unless Walt holds out any hope for Chapman starting.

    • I’m in with Pinson also. The opportunity that still exists this season is still too too good to walk away from. It could actually turn out to be better than next year, even with the prospects from a limited selling plan factored in,and then who knows with the scramble that will be on after 2015 in regard to the starting staff.

      I think a person has to be concerned about the lack of leadership on the field right now in the sense that no one is stepping up offensively; and, they are head towards hades in a hand basket on defense and the base paths. Guys like Bruce, Frazier, Meso, Cozart; are they really a viable competitive core down the road? We surely aren’t seeing that now. Go for the gold now without mortgaging the future’ and, in the process they might just find out about several of these guys; and, ultimately just how big the retooling really needs to be.

  15. Many just love to say things like, “Wake up, Walt.” Those need to remember, Walt and Uncle Bob is looking to make Cincinnati into a consistent winning organization. That means year in and year out. Not winning WS each season; no one does that anymore (get over it; there will never be another team like the Big Red Machine). Just making it a winning organization, period, as in a winning record or even just a competitive team.

    But, then, let’s look at the most recent 2 seasons. So many wanted Walt to go out and get someone like Byrd, who would end up being a one year rental. Alright, say he did. In order to get something, you are going to have to give something up. So, let’s see, for Byrd, we would probably have to give up something like Stephenson.

    So, then, we lose Byrd to FA over the off season. People would want Walt to go get someone else. Alright, that would probably cost us a package that would include the likes of Hamilton and even another starter, making us even thinner.

    And, now, with these results, people want Walt to go get someone else again? Let’s see. Alright, with what? We just lost all of our trade bait going to get the “One year rental” Byrd and the player during the off season. Go get someone else when we are losing. Go get someone else when we are winning. Always go get someone else. I have one question, “With what?” By the time Walt makes 1-2 trades, like he did for Latos and Marshall, the trade bait is gone. And, it takes time to build that back up.

    I have a question, when would it be time for the players to actually step up. Oh, step up for a half season. Alright. Did we win a title? Did we win a division? Heck, we didn’t even win the half season. These are young players. They need to learn it’s for the entire season. That the best baseball players in the world step it up for the entire season, not half a season.

    Now, not to say I don’t fault Walt at all. I still believe I would have gone after Latos, but with only 3 players. I’m still not sure why we went after Marshall; we had Donnie Joseph at AAA having a great season back then. And, I do believe that Walt went after Broxton so that they could transfer Chapman to a starter. But, then, Baker cried about Chapman being a starter to the papers and pressed Walt for a response prematurely. Walt, possibly giving in to other pressure like from Uncle Bob, also, decided that Chapman would be closing. Thus, Walt just spent trade bait on two set up guys.

    But, that’s no excuse for people to be constantly calling for Walt to do something. They are the ones who need to wake up. We aren’t going to get Mike Trout for our Dayton Single A starting SS just because we want it. And, we aren’t going to give up something like Cueto, Chapman, Hamilton, “and” Frazier, all of them, for only Mike Trout. Walt may very well be working the phones. But, first, the other team has to have something we want. “And”, the other team has to want something equivalent we have.

    Geez, the Yankees don’t even work like this anymore, just going out getting anyone simply because they lose 6 games in a row.

    Just remember what most everyone expected from this team in the preseason. Doing nothing near where they have been doing, possibly/probably finishing over 500, but not much more than that. And, where are we now? Oh, that’s right, still a game over 500, right about where everyone expected us to be. Every team goes through slumps during the season, even a couple of times during the season. And, people are already crying to bring in someone new, again?

    I have to say, if Walt does pull something off, great. But, I would have no problem standing as we are and allowing these young guys learn the league, allowing Votto and BP to recover, etc. We weren’t expected to be in the running in the first place. Thus, I came into this season looking to see things like:

    Can Frazier come back after a bad sophomore season?
    Can Devin be the man behind the plate?
    Can Votto adjust?
    Can Price handle the change in responsibility?
    Things like this.

    Not one thing dealing with winning. If we won, great. If not, then let’s work on that during the off season.

    So, like with this losing skid I see, I’m more interested in seeing if these young guys are going to turn it back up, or are they going to be like so many other people and just blame Walt for not trying to bring anyone in?

    Frankly, with the season, I’ve liked most of everything I’ve been seeing.

    • consistently winning? Does Bob C want to be like the Bengals, who have consistently won but achieved nothing in the postseason?

      Count me out of that. Winning means winning in the playoffs. And if that means giving up Stephenson to do so…. Fine. The kid is a prospect and hasn’t done anything yet.

      And the time to get Byrd was last year, not this year.

      No one remembers teams that finish above .500 but flame out in the postseason. I think Bob needs to think about building a team that people will remember, and instruct Walt to get with the plan.

      • And, what happens when we start losing player after player to FA or when we need to player to make a WS run and we don’t have the trade bait to go get it. Or, if we use someone to make that trade, it hits us so hard that we really don’t make us any better?

        I’d rather be remembered as a team that can “pull the trigger” when we have the bullets to pull the trigger rather than not having any trigger to pull and we are losing.

        Does Bob want to be like the Bengals? Of course not. But, does he want to be like the Marlins, who win the WS then sells has nothing for years because they lose so much to FA and has nothing to replace it with? I wouldn’t think he would want that, either.

        Remember, this team was picked to finish just above 500 anyhow. And, where are we? Just above 500. They are where they are suppose to be. They’re doing fine. Now, if they lose the next 30-40 games in a row, then people like would have an argument. But, a young team losing 6 in a row on the road? In terms of an entire season, that’s essentially nothing.

        • when is that time going to be? When will the Reds have the bullets? Sick of waiting. This current iteration of the Reds has NEVER gone for it.

          I’m ok with the Reds depleting their farm system to win, because seeing that they are one piece away is so frustrating. I’d be ok with a deep playoff run and a couple of lean years afterwards. Remember that the 1998 Marlins soon became the 2003 world champs.

          This team has has amazing good fortune with their starting pitching. In two years, who exactly will the Reds starting pitchers be? Bailey, maybe Leake, and who? That’s why I wanted them to go for it. The futures of Latos, Cueto, Cingrani and Stephenson are too hazy to convince me that this this team will have strong pitching in 2016.

          And now it’s probably too late. 2012, 2013, and 2014 will be seen as missed opportunities due to a bad manager (Dusty) and a GM who was too afraid to pull the trigger to bring in the missing piece.

        • When we have the trade bait, we will probably be pulling the trigger. Remember, we are still a small market team. We have to be smart with the money. Uncle Bob has also said things like he isn’t involved with the Reds to make money each year, but not to lose money either. Thus, pull the trigger to get a one year rental, just to put off the same stuff we are going through this past week for next season? Then, at that time, people would be complaining about why didn’t Walt do something during the off season. With what? We spent the trade bait on the one year rental.

          Remember, a trade involves two parties. Walt may very well want to make a trade. But, if no one’s going to talk and compromise, if no one is going to take what Walt is offering, if they are going to be asking for more than Walt can offer, then Walt is rightfully not going to pull the trigger.

          In short, Walt wants to make a trade? So freakin’ what. You need to have someone to trade with.

    • You criticize people for criticizing Walt, but you show that you don’t have any notion of the trade market. You say that the reds would have had to give up Stephenson to get byrd last year? Not even close! The pirates got Byrd and John buck, a decent back up catcher, for their 11th and 16th best prospects. The 11th was a middle infield prospect that the reds didn’t have anybody like, but his value was similar to Carlos Contreras or maybe mejias-brean. The 16th was a pitcher kinda similar to corcino in that he had command issues and would probably end up in the pen. Not even close to the value of bob Stephenson, and that’s for byrd and buck. The reds probably could have got Byrd last year for a guy like Contreras or maybe Amir Garrett.

      • And, so, then, given the one year rental, we lose two of our prospects? That does wonders for our future, give that up for a one year rental. Not to mention, again, “you” have to remember, were our 11th and 16th picks something that the other teams wanted? Apparently not. “You” have to remember that our minor league system hasn’t been ranked as high as other teams, especially the Pirates who have been stockpiling prospects for a while and, thus, had the prospects to give up for Byrd. “You” have to remember, then, that our 11th and 16th prospects would then be about comparable to something like the other teams 15th and 20th prospects.

        And, I don’t know anything about the trade market? You apparently need to remember what kind of bait are you dealing with.

        • I really don’t understand what you are talking about now. Byrd was traded after the deadline last year, meaning he had to pass through waivers. The pirates had a better record than the reds at that time, so the reds could put in a waiver claim before the pirates. At that point, the reds and Mets would have had a certain amount of time to work a deal out, or not. You can’t know what the Mets would have taken because Walt didn’t put in the claim.

        • That’s just it. It’s apparent you don’t understand the trade market and player personnel.

  16. Seems like Cueto would be a good player to trade. Just not sure he will be sign able for the Reds. Might as well keep Simon at this point. Get some young pre arb pitchers and develop the 2-3 young starters in the division.

    Broxton should be dealt, little reason for the Reds to keep him if they fall too far back

  17. Several teams are looking for a set up man. While we would all love to unload Broxton and get something meaningful in return, the $9 million due him next year is going to limit what teams are willing to trade. While they are shopping relievers, the Reds should throw LeCure’s name out there, too. I love Sammy, but would let him go for the right return.

  18. Don’t count the Reds out of the playoffs just yet. Trade week is here. Let’s see what Walt can do to rejuvenate the Reds for the final two months. We’ve got the pitching.

    • Been waiting. Remember the trade weeks of 2011, 12, 13? Let’s see… Broxton aaaand….

      I don’t doubt that Walt is making the effort, but given his track record in season? Nothing’s going to happen.

  19. One of the important things in life is to know when you’re beat. Not for life, a decade or for several years. But the Reds are beat for 2014 and I congratulate Steve Mancuso for recognizing this.

    To me, this is a great opportunity to take inventory of a situation and come back stronger then ever. I would target 2016 to run the table. Serious consideration must be given to trading JC. He probably has the most value on the team, is going to be priced out of a the Reds financial range, and is injury prone. Let’s see if he can bring the team a mega-package in return for his services. I agree with SM on all the others he mentioned shopping.

    Like Steve, I will follow every game I can and be excited to watch our young guys develop. I do expect BHam to be one the best players in the league as soon as next year and the most exiting player to watch. I really want to see what we have in Soto, Lutz, Contreras, Diaz, and Negron. This should be the perfect opportunity. Win or lose, it would be better then seeing more of Ludwick and Schu. I want to see what CH can do if handed the job for the remainder of the season. Unless at 100% health, I want to see BP and Joey sit it out and return healthy as possible in 2015.

    • I don’t think the 2014 Reds are beat. My article was just about trade strategy. While I don’t think their chances of making the post-season are good, they aren’t zero, either. I haven’t given up on this season. I don’t think trading Broxton and Simon handicap the team a tremendous amount – Broxton because relief pitchers aren’t that important, period. And Simon because he’s due to regress severely. Yes, they are better than their likely replacements and, in isolation, the 2014 Reds would be better with them than without them. But neither one would help the Reds nearly as much as, say when Frazier, Mesoraco or Bruce start hitting again, let alone all three. The 2014 Reds have plenty of firepower to win games, and will.

      • Sorry for the misunderstanding so unfortunataly I will take back that part of the compliment. I don’t see this team having a chance in Hades to win a WS but I will wait until Sunday to reach my final verdict. Get a WC spot would not warrant holding some of the guys mentioned for big returns. Regardless if, and how much, Simon regresses; the Reds will be signaling to me that they are looking to 2015. I don’t see the firepower you speak of.

        Knowing, and admitting, when you’re licked is a hard thing to accept and I’m pretty certain we are but we’ll see how it goes this weekend first.

        • Heck, I never give up the Reds. On a season, sure when the moves resulting from admittance will enrich the following seasons. Watch nearly every game no matter, as long as they are putting out the effort and they are certainly doing that. Just don’t want to be in a position where the current is lost and the future is unclear. At minimum; I’d like to see Broxton, Ludwick, & Simon moved for reasonable compensation.

      • Steve writes; “when Frazier, Mesoraco or Bruce start hitting again, let alone all three. The 2014 Reds have plenty of firepower to win games, and will”.
        My take is that “when” is the key word. The cries for the addition of Zobrist as a rental are no more than the “thirsty begging for anything to drink”. Yes the 2014 season is in serious trouble, yes the stars need to align, yes anything is possible.
        Have I given up on the Reds?, has Steve given up? No! Its only a game. Let me add this thought, any of you who watched last years play-in game saw the fan (Bob C.) looking very unhappy. He is smart enough to know that his weakness is that he is a fan, so he has a GM to look at things objectively and prevent him from acting like an emotional fan. This season may cause angst but it is a game.

      • Let’s ask it another way:

        Who wouldn’t you trade from the minors? Yeah, the chance of moving up is small. Yeah, even a guy like Zobrist isn’t going to make all the difference. But what’s really the downside?

        There are maybe five prospects that I think are worth more than “a small chance of improving the 2014 Reds.”

        If someone wants to give me Zobrist/Byrd/Rios for any/all of Ryan Lamarre, Carlos Contreras, or even Donald Lutz or Chris Heisey – I do it.

        • Yeah, I don’t want a group of older guys on the team if we have zero chance of a WS. No I wouldn’t trade for that set of guys, no sir.

        • I’m more OK with using minor league guys to bring in a player like Zobrist. My main point is the Reds need to take advantage of a big opportunity to get assets for Broxton and Simon. If Jocketty did both of those things – trade Broxton and Simon, and also acquire Zobrist for the players you listed, I’d be fine with that. Like it probably, given Zobrist would still be around in 2015.

    • Agreed, 2014 is not the year. As I listed above, this team exudes a lack of discipline and baseball acumen. Even if they could somehow sneak into a playoff spot with 87 wins, they definitely don’t have what it takes to win four tight, high-pressure playoff series against top-shelf MLB competition. Time to retreat a bit (sell off some parts for young talent), tighten up the ship in many ways, and regroup for a more serious run in 2015. First-round playoff exits are meaningless.

    • I never thought of 2014 ever happening. I counted on from the beginning not making it. Even if we got a bat with an ideal trade from someone else, I still felt we were more likely not in the playoffs. Winning and playoffs should never have been on anyone’s minds this season. Even with our success before the ASG. The important things this season were more along the lines of:

      – the development of Hamilton and Devin
      – Can Frazier come back after a poor sophomore season
      – Can Price handle the new responsibility
      – items like this, nothing directly to do with winning, but if many if not all of them work, we would be winning

      What I wouldn’t have a problem considering is making a run at something next season, 2015, with the ASG coming here. But, that will probably mean we will be busy during the off season. Where, then, like I said at the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t mind of the front office wrote this season off at the major league level, working on the instruction and development at the minor league level more this season.

      But, 2016 is probably more realistic.

      • The problem with 2016 is that cueto, latos, and leake are all eligible for free agency after 2015. I think it would be a really bad idea for the reds to sign cueto and latos to extensions because of the money it will cost added to what the reds are already committed to with votto, bailey, bruce, Phillips, Chapman will be in last year of arb in 2016, Frazier and mez will both be in 2nd year arb in 2016, etc. Leaks is the worst pitcher of the 3, but he could possibly be the best option to extend because he should be significantly cheaper.
        I think Walt needs to start building the farm back up because the reds are gonna need to get some cheap production from somewhere in 2016 and 2017. I’d love to trade Simon and broxton, but I don’t think they will bring back a whole lot. Other teams can see their flaws as well as we can. I think cueto is the guy who needs to be shopped around. I think his value has peaked and I just don’t think he will age well. Signing him to a 100+ mil extension would be a mistake for the reds because they have too much money tied up already and he is just not as durable as you would like a guy getting paid that much to be.

        • Wait a minute. You just tell me that Walt should have gone after Byrd with some prospects. Then, you just post here that Walt should look “building the farm system back up”? Alright. . .

        • It’s pretty simple man. Walt should have put in the waiver claim on byrd in 2013. At least keep the pirates from getting him, and if they had to give up someone like guillon or Garrett to get him, then ok. He could have got a decent hitting left fielder or first baseman this year for the same price. League average hitting first basemen and left fielders are not valuable and are traded all the time for c grade prospects like guillon, langfield, or Garrett.
          I think that is what you are not understanding about my farm system comment. It doesn’t hurt your farm system to trade away a c grade prospect. There are hundreds of these kind of prospects in the minor leagues. The ones with some upside like the guys I mentioned above can have a little trade value. But to build up the farm system like I was talking about you need to add the grade b guys, which there are probably about a hundred of in the minors, and hopefully a grade a guy or two. At any given time there are probably only 25-30 grade a prospects in baseball. Stephenson is the reds only one. Winker, lorenzen, Ervin, and maybe travieso and Howard are the grade b guys. These are the kind of players you build the farm system with. The grade c guys are good for depth and occasionally one turns into a decent major leaguer, but if you can get a player who can upgrade your team now for a c grade guy, and you are a borderline playoff team, then you do it.

        • So, you are now calling a C-grade prospect at the 11th and 16th prospect in the organization? Or, you are saying that the Pirates got Byrd for a C-grade prospect? Alright. . .

          What you don’t understand is comparing apples to apples. As simple as I can make it. If you want something I have, you have to have something I want. If you don’t have anything I want, I’m not going to trade with you.

          As simple as I can put it. The 11th prospect in one organization isn’t necessarily just as good as the 11th prospect in another organization.

          Guillon? Do you understand how valuable left handed pitching can be these days? Just look at what we paid Chapman and how much we gave up for Marshall. Garrett or Guillon? It would be more like Garrett “and” Guillon, of not another piece, depending on if the other team even wants Garrett “and” Guillon, something that you don’t seem to comprehend.

        • “if you can get a player who can upgrade your team now for a c grade guy”

          That’s just it. It wasn’t just one. It was 2. And, how would you even know that the other team even wanted anything we had much less anything we were offering?

      • I don’t know man, you just put a bunch of platitudes in your post about apples and apples and supply and demand without saying anything. You said that the reds would have had to give up Stephenson to get byrd. And then you want to lecture me about not understanding the trade market. I tried to explain prospect value as I undererstand it but you apparently see things different. Apparently your view is that every reds prospect will make it to the majors and contribute even if they can’t throw strikes to save their life, like guillon. I think the reds should try to acquire premium prospects and if they have a chance to improve the team by trading marginal prospects then you do it. Don’t know why that’s so controversial.

  20. The Tigers just gave up two of their top five prospects for Soria. Texas received a 20 year old who is already at AA and profiles as a #2/#3. They also received a 22 year old reliever who made his MLB debut earlier this year. He throws gas and has unbelievable numbers at every level in the minors.

    So, what would Broxton and Chapman bring back to the Reds?

    • Nothing if they wait until all the buyers give up their top prospects before they try to sell.

    • The return netted by the Rangers in the Soria deal was significant, think the equivalent of Contreras and Travieso. The market for good, backend bullpen arms just shrunk, significantly strengthening WJ’s position if he chooses to sell on a backend reliever in a seller’s market.

      • Judging from the Cubs’ and Rangers’ returns, this is very much a seller’s market. I can only imagine (and dream) about what Broxton, Chapman, Simon, and Cueto would bring. They could literally end up with six or seven top 100 prospects in short order.

  21. I can certainly go for this approach. Sell off the spare parts now. Broxton and Simon, no problem. But add in Ludwick, Schumaker, Heisey, Santiago, Hannahan, Hoover, Parra, and Ondrusek when he comes off the DL. Don’t shy away from packaging any of them.

  22. Simon and Broxton absolutely, because they’ll probably never be worth more than they are right this moment.

    I’d also add Chapman because next year he’ll turn down his $5m player option and go to arbitration where he’ll either get something like $12m, or if the Reds want to buy out his arbitration, Kimbrel in a similar situation got a 4yr/$40m deal, with a $13m team option for a 5th year. Chapman has a great arm and his third pitch makes him pretty impressive, but do the Reds really want to pay $10m/yr for a guy who’ll pitch 60 innings? Should they?

    So Simon, Broxton, and Chapman… and if someone comes to them with an immense offer for Cueto, they should listen to it, but not be actively searching to trade him like the other three.

  23. One week to decide on the final two months of 2014. Personally, I would still make a real push for Zobrist, but not necessarily to salvage the 2014 season and certainly not as an overpay. I’ve been on record for a long time that the 2014 season was toast. The season just didn’t have the feel of success and as much as I want to see the Reds win, I just didn’t see it happening in 2014. The 2015 season lines up as a real opportunity for the Reds and Zobrist would make a very nice addition to the team for 2015.

  24. Last I checked, Ludwick is actually at -0.1 WAR.

    Also, Hamilton is simply not a viable option at SS. He had 39 errors in 2011 and 31 errors in 2012… and that’s not even a 162 game season. That’s 132 and 125 games. Extend that out to 162 and you’re talking 50 or so errors in a season. Even if he improves, 30 errors at SS is still way too many. That’s why he was moved to CF even though it was so late in his minor league career. Cozart has had 14 each of the last two seasons and is at 7 right now this season for reference.

    • even Jeter had high error seasons in minors, with season error totals of 56, 25 and also 29 in 123 games at AAA. many young SS in minors have high error seasons in part because of the fields and in part getting used to understanding they really cant make every play thus just using errors can be mis-leading about ability.

      • The thing is with SS, it can be an error prone position, with all the sliding into by baserunners going on. CF is much more safe for Hamilton along those lines.

        • it is something to consider, yet its very hard to run into a wall at SS. 🙂
          and Billy has been banged up 3 times that I recall this year with OF dives or hitting the OF wall.

          • I do agree with that. That would have to come from learning the position, not to mention some of the freaky outfield fences that are out there. That was part of the question of do we bring him up now or not. But, definitely good point.

          • As I said before… If Cubs will trade prospects for Price… they would certainly for cueto. Would they trade Soler and one of their surplus of top prospect shortstops for cueto. I’d trade Cueto in a heartbeat.
            I’d trade Simon while value is high… unless I trade Broxton because then Simon transitions back to pen.
            Other variable is Cingrani. Really stalled this year. No out pitch. Foul balls run pitch count to the sky.
            Plus shoulder always a crap shoot.

          • The Cubs aren’t trading for Cueto, and the Cubs aren’t trading for Price. Why would the Cubs part with their substantial young talent this summer when they aren’t in a position to compete now? More to the point, why use their talent to acquire Cueto and Price when Cueto and Price will be available via FA following next year? They can keep a low payroll, keep their young hitting prospects, and then target Scherzer, Price and Cueto.

          • “why use their talent to acquire Cueto and Price when Cueto and Price will be available via FA following next year?”

            That right there is why I believe no team was interested in talking to the Reds about Homer. Why talk trade to them when he was going to be a FA after one more season? If they traded, they would be giving up some kind of pieces, whether 1-2 starters or 2+ prospects, and they would still be on the hook for a big contract extension. If they wait, they could still be in the FA hunt for Homer if the Reds didn’t sign him, and they get to keep their pieces. So, it made entire sense for the other teams there to sell low to the Reds or have the Reds sell high to them.

    • Ludwick. Ugh. He’s receiving an unfair share of my scorn lately. I grit my teeth to see him and/or Shumaker out there most nights. There have been two incidents, one of which was Tuesday night’s game, when Luddy needed to just hit a SF fly… and struck out. Just doesn’t have the bat speed to be interesting anymore.

      Sorry, had to vent that, hadn’t posted in a few days. It’s done now.

  25. Good article Sir Steve.
    Simon and Broxton are our best trade pieces this year. Charlotte and I were talking about these two pieces just a few days ago in game thread.
    You always trade or should trade when a players value is at the highest point value that we assume it ever will be. Can Simon repeat this years performance? His age, Major league and minor league track record say no. Same with Broxton. He is well paid as a reliever, and he is grossly overpaid for not being a closer. He is just about lights out this year and any team bidding for a play off slot would want him.
    What can we get in return? Isn’t that the real question?

  26. If Zobrist can be had for a mid-level prospect, maybe Walt can do both. He could trade off Broxton for some good prospects and pick up Zobrist as a hedge for this year. The net result would be improving the minor league pitching talent while reducing next year’s payroll.

    The only caveat is Zobrist has a pretty hefty $7.5 million option for 2015 or pay him $500k to go away. The option would about wipe out any payroll savings from not paying Broxton $9 million next year.

    • Why pay Zobrist to go away? He’s actually a player you’d want in the lineup.

    • I’d rather pay Zobrist 7.5 than Broxton 9.

    • I don’t think we will be able to get Zobrist for a mid-level prospect. A player who has recently gotten MVP and AS consideration for a mid-level prospect won’t happen.

      But, I do like about Zobrist is we can pay him Ludwick’s money next season.

      The bad thing about our team right now is the guys who we have a lot of money rolled into, we aren’t getting any production out of them. Just consider, from the most expensive down:

      Votto – DL
      BP – DL (spent time with someone the other day watching a game, with him talking about how good of a hitter BP is; he couldn’t accept the fact that BP’s offensive numbers have been going down steadily for several years now)
      Bruce – no production and DL this season; not much production ever; still believe he’s living off that division clinching HR he hit
      Cueto – mixture of DL and success
      Bailey – If you can call it success this season
      Ludwick – nothing, still living off the good stretch he had before he signed the current extension

      As a small market team, we can’t have something like this occuring.

  27. I think when all is said and done, due to the expanded playoff system and so many teams “still in it” as of July 31 you won’t see Walt do much. I think he and Bob view the Reds as just a wounded ship that if they can get people healthy things will turn around. Also other teams, even those farther out then the Reds see hope for this season where in the past under the old playoff system would be dumping talent now. I think what you will see is some post July 31 deals go down on high cost players getting moved to top tier teams that are going for it this season and want that extra little bit. I think the Reds should stop looking at this season as a WS contention season and see what value certain players might have and how that will help this franchise going forward and deal those players. But I don’t see Walt/Bob doing that.

    • Not only could they see this, it could still very well be true. People tend to forget how poorly they started this season, then look what they did. People tend to forget that the Reds weren’t picked to do that much this season, then look what they did. Sure, I would love to see Walt make a trade. But, I am a realist. It takes two to tango; and if no one will trade with us, we are stuck with what we have. We can’t make a trade simply because we want Mike Trout for our starting SS at Single A Dayton. The other team has to say “Yes”. Till then, I am going to concentrate on what the season was suppose to be about, things like:

      Can Frazier come back after a bad sophomore season?
      Can Devin be the man behind the plate?
      Can Price handle the change in responsibility?

  28. Great article … you are spot on. Unfortunately Walt will probably mortgage our future by trading for some washed up veteran and in 5 years when Joey needs a cane to walk we will be saying if only we wouldn’t have … (fill in the blank with any of Walt’s decisions that lacked long term strategic thinking)

  29. Nice article Steve, I’m on board with just about everything you said. I would add, that any of the low paid scrap heap stuff that could be dumped (Hoover, Ondrusek, any of the bench guys, even LeCure) in with the Simon/Broxton packages then by all means do it, just for the mere fact that we won’t have to deal with these same guys next year, hoping that they will finally “get it”

  30. With the returns that San Diego, Texas and Chicago have received, Jocketty ought to be doing his due diligence.
    He has a perfect chance to re-do the Reds bullpen and bench. To have a Mulligan on both. And shed some salary payroll to boot.
    If Tampa Bay is back in it, then they need bullpen help and a closer. Broxton and Hoover could bring back Brad Boxberger.
    Seattle has needs trying to keep up with LA Angels and Oakland. Simon, Ludwick, Heisey, Broxton, and Hoover could be in play here. They could bring back SS Chris Taylor and/or 2B Nick Franklin. Make it Cueto or Latos and the Reds could see Taijuan Walker or James Paxton in return.
    Oakland is shopping SP Milone. Cozart could bring back Milone then package Milone for something that might bring back Tulo. Colorado needs pitching.
    Baltimore is looking for a SP, C, and bullpen help.
    The Yankees are looking for SP.
    The Dodgers are looking.
    The Giants need an OF.
    Cleveland has needs.
    There is a market just within the NL Central division if Jocketty wasn’t afraid to explore that for SP.
    Walt Jocketty could bring the market to him. He could influence several of the division races and improve the Reds for 2015 markedly, if he so desired.

  31. Just want to echo what seems to be a majority applause for Steve’s thoughts here. No need to blow things up, no need to try to make a big change in a poorly leveraged situation at this point for the remainder of the season. Play on, but work on getting the best working parts for 2015. It’s so crazy it just might work.

  32. I very much disagree with the limited sellers approach. The Reds are 5.5 out and 4 out in the WC. They have the best defense in baseball and arguably the 2nd best rotation in baseball. They play St. Louis 10 times, Milwaukee 6 times, Pittsburgh 6 times, and otherwise have a much easier schedule. They have 12 games vs. current last place teams and another 13 against teams with losing records.

    The Reds could easily patch up the offense with low cost solutions such as Adam Dunn, Casee McGehee, Stephen Drew, or Josh Willingham.

    • Have we been watching the same defense? They HAD the best defense. Then BP became one handed, Frazier/Pena/Lutz/Bruce had to play first base, Cozart is now hurt… etc etc…

      Their infield is now Frazer at third, Santiago at SS, Schumaker at 2nd, and Pena at 1st. That is no longer the best defense in baseball. It actually hurt me a little to have to type that infield and then realize what I had typed.

  33. Suppose the Dodgers were willing to part with OF Joc Pederson (Baseball America #18 prospect) and SS Corey Seager (BA #16) for Cueto and the Blue Jays were willing to part with LHP Daniel Norris (BA #25) and Dalton Pompey OF (BA #47) for Chapman. The Reds would then have six of the BA top 50 prospects. Do you make those deals?

    • Yes for Cueto. No for Chapman.

    • Likely in a heartbeat for Cueto. Almost zero chance they sign him to a 6yr/$150m type deal, so getting an elite OF and SS prospect sounds great. Even more so since it looks like Pederson is major league ready and Seager will probably be ready in 2015.

      That could potentially make the Reds offense a whole new monster….. Pederson/Votto/Frazier/Mesoraco/Bruce/Seager/Hamilton/Phillips/Pitcher. Of course that’s assuming Votto comes back healthy and Bruce returns to his former self.

      Bench of Pena/Cozart/Heisey/Schumaker/and a freaking backup firstbaseman.

      Rotation of Latos/Leake/Bailey/Cingrani/Stephenson? Depending on what happens to Simon.

      • This time last year nobody thought they could or would sign Bailey. Cingrani in any projected rotation is a stretch, He could just as easily be recuperating from shoulder surgery for all we know at this ;point.

  34. Suppose the Reds could move Cueto for the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson (OF/BA #18 prospect) and Corey Seager (SS/BA #16 prospect) and Chapman for the Blue Jays’ Daniel Norris (LHP/BA #25) and Dalton Pompey (OF/BA #47). Do you make those deals? . . . Do it and the Reds suddenly have 6 of MLB’s top 50 prospects.

  35. Every team, competing with the Reds for a playoff spot (WC or NLCD), is playing at or near .500 ball recently and the Reds have lost significant ground to all of them. The Reds are only 5.5 games out of 1st place in the NLCD, but there are 3 teams ahead of them. The Reds are only 4 games out of the WC but there are 4 teams ahead of them. The Reds are not facing numerical elimination any time soon, but they are losing ground against every rival in the NL and every loss makes the challenge more difficult. What was carrying the Reds through the 1st half, SP & defnse, has shown significant cracks recently, resulting in a complete collapse during the most recent road trip. I single rental bat is not going to fix what ails the Reds right now. I’m not sure that two rental bats would keep the Reds within striking distance for a September stretch run if Votto and Phillips can return productively and those are two big ifs for 2014.

    Giving up any real prospects for what looks like a doomed run in 2014 just seems counterproductive, especially when the Reds have a prime opportunity to move some pieces and add significant quality prospects for the near future when the chances for a significant, deep playoff run is much more likely.

  36. My problem here is that the prescription amounts, essentially to “do the stuff you should’ve done last winter.” That just doesn’t seem sufficient, particularly when, you know, they didn’t do it the first time around.

    • The difference is that Frazier and Mesoraco aren’t the same players we (speaking for myself) thought they were, so the need to do one or two big moves isn’t there like I thought it was last year. Also, as I wrote in the piece, if they would actually go out and get a big-time leftfielder, which I think they should do, their hitting would be more than fine, assuming health.

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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.

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2015 Reds