Unfortunately, we won’t be experiencing the dramatic month that the Reds and their fans had hoped, let alone October. Sure, the team still has 25 games left to play, mostly against NL Central rivals. But for those of us cheering for Bryan Price’s Reds, the expectation that the final four weeks would be a head-to-head thriller has been dashed.

[Gotta get this out of my system: If the Reds had managed simply to play .500 ball since the All-Star game, they would be 1.5 games out of first place and if one of those extra wins had come against St. Louis and Milwaukee the Reds would just be .5 games back. Blrgh.]

The Broxton salary dump yesterday, while welcome, indicates the organization has begun to turn more of its attention to 2015 and beyond. So why shouldn’t we? But as the grim march toward mathematical elimination takes place, other than morbid spectacle, what remains to keep the attention of Reds fans? Beyond yearning for free pizza, spoiling other teams’ seasons, and the enhanced nightly chance of watching a no-hitter, how should a Reds fans spend September?

This is one way to go:

I can understand choosing to tune out. But that’s not for me. I’ve invested too much in this team to quit them. Even though two of my favorite players to watch — Joey Votto and Homer Bailey — are on the DL and their returns in 2014 are questionable, there is still much I enjoy about seeing the Redlegs play.

In addition to cheering for the occasional win, I’ll be focused on these eight things:

1. Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier  Each has provided a big bat for long parts of this season. The conventional wisdom about the Reds for the past few years is that they are too left-handed (last year, Choo, Votto, Bruce) and the complaint about last off-season (by me) was that Walt Jocketty didn’t sign a reliable power bat to play LF. But Mesoraco and Frazier have, at times, this year been that bat. But they have both been prone to prolonged slumps as well. So can either one of them be that right-handed bat for the Reds going forward? I’ll be watching the last month for signs on that one way or another.

2. Billy Hamilton  September is the month that makes the big league season longer than the minor league season. My benchmark for Hamilton is around .265/.270 for batting average and .300/.305 for on base percentage. If his September surpasses that benchmark, it’s a positive. If he has a worse September than the benchmark, that’s a concern. I’m cautiously optimistic.

3. Zack Cozart  Because I’m going to watch Zack Cozart finish off his spectacular, possibly Gold Glove, defensive season. He’s made all the plays.

4. Johnny Cueto  Cueto will make a push for the NL Cy Young award and I want to watch that. I think the odds are against him beating Clayton Kershaw, but I do think it’s now a two-pitcher race, with Adam Wainwright in fading health. The last month will decide it, one way or another.

5. Mike Leake  Can Leake can lock down this season as a step forward? His last five starts could indicate whether he has taken a step ahead (maybe a legit #3) or whether he is still basically the same pitcher he has been for a couple years (#4 or #5). Pulling for him.

6. Aroldis Chapman  The Cuban Missile could set the all-time record for K% in a season. That would be quite an accomplishment for a guy who got hit in the head with a line drive and missed more than a month of the season. As part of that, I’ll also be watching to see how much Chapman uses his off-speed pitches (14 pitches today, 7 fastballs, 6 sliders, 1 changeup).

7. Young players  We’ll find out about the call-ups tomorrow. Beside Kristopher Negron, I’m not much interested in the guys who have already been up this year. Not terribly excited about more Soto or Lutz or Barnhart or Holmberg. Curtis Partch, sure. But do I hope the Reds call up – and play – Yorman Rodriguez, Raisel Iglesias and Daniel Corcino.

8.  Kristopher Negron  If Negron played every single day, either at 3B, 2B or OF, I’d love it. He’s already earned a presumption to be on the 2015 active roster. Although, I’m realistic about his minor league track record. And he’ll be 29 by Opening Day. But I do enjoy watching him. Great enthusiasm.

We all have our own personal interests, and those are mine. What, if anything, will you be paying particular attention to with the Reds in September?

Happy Labor Day everyone!

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! 30 Comments

  1. Will Jack Hannahan be able to continue his torrid .333 hitting since his 0 for 14 start?

    • Will Jack put up better numbers in any category than Bernadina? A player I believe DFA’d twice this season
      I will be impressed if he catches Homer in hits

  2. All in all not a bad punch list or bucket list or whatever one chooses to call such things.

    I would also add watch how the manager manages. I don’t take it as a given that he is back next year. There is losing and there is losing ugly. Price probably survives just losing unless they get bulldozed into last place by a goodly margin. I doubt that he survives losing ugly

    • No way they fire him given all the injuries. Anyone who thinks this team would have made the playoffs with a different manager is nuts. The frustrating thing is we saw this team perform the way it has at the end of last year too, but with Choo and Votto and some semblance of Bruce.

      • Semblance of Bruce? Last year he set career high’s in runs, hits, 2B’s, &Rbi’s and do not forget BP was actually productive last year with over a .700 OPS- a solid bullpen and a solid starting 5 all season long. To just say it was the injuries is to ignore there were nobody picking up the slack. Despite some pleasant surprises the core guys let them down

      • Steve has chronicled that this team had it merely played .500 since the ASB would still be very much in the midst of things.
        Consider all the one run losses. Go back and read the recaps here, a site which is generally very much pro-Price. They highlight the story of a manager who struggled as much as his players when the season was on the line.
        Look at the Cardinals and their injuries virtually concurrent to the Reds losing Votto then Bailey and how the Cards responded versus how the Reds didn’t.

        As I said, I think if the Reds finish the season more or less even keel, Price skated through. If they finish last or maybe even closer to last that third, he could very well be gone.

        • The Cardinals have a better team than the Reds. therefore they can better handle the injuries. The Reds were paper thin and less able to play through injuries. Plus,if the Cardinals have a need they go out and try to fill it while the Reds cry poor and do nothing.

        • I recall much recaps full of 2nd guessers and not much questioning strategy in game- taking Leake out Friday seemed to be questioned but most people irrationally just state things like why id BP hitting 3rd?…this team just collapsed despite 3 months of pretty good managing horrible middle relievers, rarely having 5 dependable starters, & poor hitting with a plethora of injuries that gave no stability

  3. There is no prospect that will be brought up that is worthy of playing time. That is not to say we dont have any, but most are pitchers who are at innings limits. Winker is hurt and no other hitters are above A ball other than Y-Rod who needs more seasoning mentally and physically.

  4. I guess I’m still somewhat interested in Big Lutz and Soto, just to see what they offer with some consistent playing time. If they’re not in the Reds’ long-term plans, get them off the 40-man roster over the winter.

    My other question is how much guys like Phillips, Frazier and Bruce continue to start. If Bruce is still hurting, might be best to limit his playing time and let him work on getting his swing right. … Frazier was hurting awhile back, could he use a week off? I’m sure Phillips wants to play everyday. … I’d limit Pena to back-up duty behind the plate, although that would limit Barnhart’s time, not sure that’s ideal either.

    I’d also like to see Heisey get a month of playing time, but I won’t hold my breath there.

    If Schu, Hannahan and Ludwick did nothing more than pinch hit for a month, that’d be fine by me.

    • Pretty much agree. I don’t want to see Schu or Hannahan start another game the rest of the year and probably not Ludwick either. I don’t want to see Santiago starting at 3rd anymore either. But knowing Price, he’ll probably want to bring
      Bernadina back so he can start him at 1st. I think Heisey is pretty much what he is, so I’m not sure about playing him a lot. I had high hopes for him at one time, but I don’t think they will come to fruition.

      • If Heisey is going to blossom as an everyday player, he’ll have to do it with another team.

  5. I think Steve had a good short list of players to bring up for some playing time in September – two pitchers and an outfielder. I would definitely sit Schu, Ludwick, Santiago, Hannahan and maybe Bruce a bit in favor of giving Negron, Heisey and the call-ups some decent playing time.

  6. I believe any playing time (starting or utility) committed Hannahan, Schumaker, Ludwick, Santiago or Heisey is wasted. If the Reds want to keep Schumaker on the 25-man roster for 2015 simply because WJ gave him a bad contract, then so be it, but don’t commit any playing time for Schumaker this month. If the Reds want to pay Ludwick $4.5MM for a defensively-limited, utility OF/PH role in 2015, so be it, but don’t commit any playing time for Ludwick this month. If the Reds want to bring back Santiago as a utility IF for 2015, so be it, but don’t commit any playing time for Santiago this month. If the Reds want to pay Heisey $2MM as a utility OF/PH role in 2015, sp be it, but don’t commit any playing time for Heisey this month.

    Bruce and Phillips have admitted they are not healthy and their performance backs up those assertions. Sit both Bruce and Phillips since there is no benefit to the team by playing injured, experienced veterans and neither player is playing for any individual achievements. Frazier and Mesoraco need to play to solidify there performance expectations and capabilities going into 2015, but they do not need to over-produce beyond their capabilities.

  7. Good post, and a pretty good list.

    Given Bruce’s health issues, I would pretty much shut him down to begin his rest/preparation for 2014. I share your view that Soto is pretty much a waste, and I’ll be disappointed if he is holding a spot on the 40 man roster come next season — after significant AAA time, if he’s not a significant player when Votto goes down, he is holding a 40 man spot that can be used elsewhere.

    I would like to see Rodriguez get a healthy number of starts in LF or RF, and Lutz at 1B or LF. In Lutz I still have some hope, he has had limited AAA time and has performed pretty well there last I looked it up. He’s really not gotten any prolonged time in the majors, and I’d like to find out (albeit 20-25 game small sample size) if he belongs on the 40 man roster next year. Rodriguez will not be on the Reds next year, but I’d like to see if his recent tear is some indication that he is part of the future in 2016 and beyond.

    At P, in all honesty I’d love for them to keep Homer shut down and also shut down Simon. Simon has far exceeded any pitch count in his career, I have to believe taking an extra month would be helpful for him heading into 2015. I would like to see how Axelrod performs, to see if he can be in the mix as a fifth starter or at least a AAAA starter next season.

  8. Just read that Homer is done for the year; being transferred to the 60-day DL to make room. Per C. Trent, the club has recalled from Triple-A Louisville right-hander Carlos Contreras, right-hander Daniel Corcino, right-hander J.J. Hoover, left-hander David Holmberg, infielder/outfielder Jake Elmore, catcher Tucker Barnhart and first baseman/outfielder Donald Lutz.

    The team has also called up from Double-A, outfielder Yorman Rodriguez.

    The Reds also selected the contracts of Louisville outfielder Jason Bourgeois and left-hander Ryan Dennick.

  9. I had almost forgotten the horrific injury that Aroldis suffered this year, and here he is working on a record. I will definitely put that in my plus column this year.

  10. The contract purchases of Jason Bourgeois and left-hander Ryan Dennick.
    are curious moves to me. That and the leaving off of Soto. Is he injured or the Reds have decided to completely give up on him?
    Not sure I understand the Bourgeois move at all unless it is to see whether or not to just DFA him at the end of the month.

  11. Looking at the National League batting leaders, don’t you get the impression that if Votto had been healthy all year, this year would have been the year he would have won a batting title.
    Next year a healthy Votto with a little chip on his shoulder and he may chase that batting title next season, or two.

  12. Just curious: Lutz has had twice the number of plate appearances in the big leagues as Soto, yet the Reds have already seen enough to decide that Soto is not worth a September call-up? Then DFA the guy.

  13. Here are some thoughts on September and beyond. I think Negron has made the team next year, I dont care if he is 29. That means he is in his prime. I could even see the Reds trading Phillips and putting Negron at 2b. I think Yorman is still a half a season away, but I could be wrong. If he can hit 275 with some pop, he may be a good choice to play LF. I would also say that Bruce better watch it because there are a number ofI really good choices coming for the OF. If he cannot get close to 300 with 30/100 next year, I would trade him. I like the call ups and hope the pitchers can show something. This club needs to rework their OF, and the bullpen. I can see the Reds trading a starter, Chapman, Cingrani, Hoover, Lecure, and Phillips, Until the guys come over from the Brewers, we will not know what may happen,

    • I certainly agree that Negron makes the team next year (short of a total September collapse), but it’s very premature to put him in the lineup everyday at second. I think his perfect role is utility guy in the lineup 2 or 3 times a week and a defensive/double switch replacement. I’d certainly feel better with him in that role than with some of the other guys we’ve had there the last few years.

    • Phillips is not going anywhere.

  14. Funny reading all the comments about Price being fired. He’s not going to be fired. Even if the Reds do slide back into last place. The team has had glaring weaknesses on offense for the last couple years and nothing was done to address those in the off season. Baker was fired as was the hitting coach (even though according to some on this site the Reds raked the ball last year) but nothing was done to really improve the team.

    Then the injuries hit and the team that is paper thin to begin with, struggles to stay afloat. Price can’t possibly be held accountable for the mess.

  15. The comments saying that Price could be fired are ridiculous. The Reds have been ravaged by injuries all year, with not much in the way of backups. Because the Reds have very little talent down at Louisville, instead of calling up some hot prospect to take over for injured players the team has had to rely on career backups for way too long.

    I’ve seen names like Santiago, Schumaker, Heisey, and Pena written on the lineup card (out of necessity) way too often this year. You just can’t take a squirt gun into battle against a team with a shotgun and expect to win.

    This is not to say Price has been perfect. On the contrary, I have disagreed with several of his moves this year. But blaming him for the second-half collapse is completely misguided.

Comments are closed.

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.


2015 Reds


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