As the World Series concludes and MLB officially enters the off-season, the Reds will face several major decisions that will shape how competitive they will be during the 2016 season; most notably who will man SS and LF next season.  With all other positions, assuming health, locked up, the focus will be on these two positions but for entirely different reasons.

The left field position is as wide open as it has been in years and the Reds will need to decide whether they want to fill the gap with internal candidates or free agency; if they choose to go the free agent route, it will likely be an older, established player looking for a one year deal.  Players like Justin Upton, Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes are not only going to be out of the Reds’ price range, I simply don’t see the Reds going for a multi-year deal when Jesse Winker waits in the wings.

Top Free Agent Candidates:         

Rajai Davis: At 35 years old, Davis would be a possibility if the Reds were looking to platoon outfielders in LF next season.  Playing in 112 games for Detroit, Davis can hit at the top or bottom of the order after putting up a line last year of .258/.306/.440 with 18 stolen bases (lowest in nine years).  While Davis wouldn’t be a flashy signing, he would be a solid veteran presence while providing consistent OF defense.

Alex Rios: Also at 35 years old, Rios has seen his power numbers fall off the table the last few seasons, but in hitter friendly GABP, perhaps the Reds feel Rios could find some inflated power numbers.  A slash line of .255/.287/.353 won’t form any lines for season tickets this winter, but Rios has shown a clutch jean in the playoffs and would, like Davis, provide another solid, veteran presence on the roster.

Domonic Brown: The former Phillies uber-prospect was recently released and someone is surely going to take a flyer on this kid.  Still only 28 years old, Brown is going to sign a one year deal somewhere this winter to try to right the ship of his career.  Last season, Brown appeared in only 63 games for the Phillies, hitting only 5 home runs and putting up a line of .228/.284/.349.  Brown will be remembered for what everyone believed to be his breakout season in 2013 when he hit 27 home runs but hasn’t returned to that form since.  Perhaps the Reds can find something in this talented player and allow him to get his career back on track.

Internal Candidates:

Adam Duvall: Acquired for Mike Leake at the trade deadline, Duvall brings one tangible skill to the Reds; power.  Traditionally a first basemen, Duvall hit 5 home runs for the Reds last year in limited playing time in left field.  Duvall isn’t likely to win the starting job, unless he can somehow prove he can increase his batting average and OBP, but is certainly a strong option for the Reds to keep in a platoon situation or as a power source off the bench.

Eugenio Suarez: It would be difficult to find a brighter spot for the Reds last season (Votto aside) than the performance of Suarez at the plate after Cozart’s injury.  He put up a respectable line of .280/.315/.446 while hitting 14 home runs and 48 rbi in only 97 games.  He showed he had plenty of power from the right side and hit all over the lineup.  Because of this offensive production it would be tough to keep him on the bench this season, but do the Reds want to risk a liability on defense playing Suarez in a position he is unfamiliar with?  The only way I see Suarez in LF next season is if the Reds strike out on a FA and trades this off season and the next guy up has a miserable spring.

Jesse Winker:  When the Reds made the decision to trade Leake, Cueto and Byrd last year, I believe it was a signal that the team was willing to rebuild…Jocketty admitted as much in his comments about the team needing to get younger.  Enter Jesse Winker…the top-rated prospect in the Reds system.  Winker, after starting slow last season had a torrid second half finishing the season with a line of .282/.390/.433 with 13 home runs, 55 rbi and walking 74 times in 123 games.  What do the Reds have to lose by playing Winker in LF?  He shows great plate discipline for a 22 year old prospect and his power will only continue to develop.  As he continues to learn and develop he will only become more consistent, hit for average and continue to get on base…something the Reds badly need. Forget spending money on aging players, forget trading young talent for a stop-gap in the outfield…put Jesse in and let him play!

Since I have solved the left field issue for 2016, I might as well take a shot at short stop.  Luckily for the Reds, the debate for who plays short stop is a more enjoyable debate compared to the left field debate since the Reds have two qualified candidates already in the building; Zach Cozart and Eugenio Suarez.

The Verdict: Zach Cozart was off to a great start for the Reds in 2015 before injury ended his season.  In only 53 games for the Reds last year, Cozart had already hit 9 home runs while driving in 28 runs with a line of .258/.310/459.  Many had been waiting for his offense to catch up to his defense and it looked like 2015 was going to be that year for Cozart.  He is without argument the best defensive solution for the Reds at the short stop position and assuming health he likely has an inside track to the starting job next season.  Even with the offensive numbers of Suarez detailed above, those numbers are likely not enough to send Cozart to the bench to start the season…if he is ready to go, Zach Cozart should and will start the season with Todd Frazier manning the left side of the infield.

The Curveball:  What if the Reds wanted both Cozart and Suarez to get major playing time next season, but didn’t want Suarez in left field?  What if Walt Jocketty and the Reds showed some creativity to get their best young talent on the field and build a core that can play together for the next several years?  Well…here is my off-season curveball; the Reds trade Brandon Phillips at the Winter Meetings and plan to play Suarez at second base with Cozart as his double play partner.

Aside from left field and short stop, the Reds biggest area of need is in the bullpen.  As I watch the playoffs, I practically drool over the power arms carrying teams through the playoffs, not just the starters, but the high-octane relievers turning many games into six or seven inning affairs.  Perhaps the Reds, if willing to eat some of BP’s salary can find a taker for Phillips after putting up impressive offensive numbers this season while maintaining his Gold Glove caliber defense.  Could Jocketty get a team looking to win in 2016 to take Phillips in exchange for a back-end bullpen arm; not only helping to solidify the pen but clearing some money off of the books for the next few seasons?  If so, this could go a long way to building a young core of players to carry the Reds through the next few years as they continue to develop their stable of young arms in the rotation.

My Conclusion:  The Reds will leave Goodyear with excitement as young talent takes over the roster; Winker starting in left field, Cozart regaining his hold on short stop and Suarez providing pop from second base…and with a little luck, a few new power arms in the bullpen ahead of the Cuban Missile.

107 Responses

  1. jazzmanbbfan

    I certainly would prefer they fill left field internally rather than go after any of the potential free agents mentioned. I can’t see the Reds being in anything but rebuilding mode next year so why waste any money on a free agent LF at this point..?? If healthy, I would also take Cozart over Suarez although until we see Cozart in spring training it is hard to say if he will be ready by opening day. In don’t know if there is any desire/interest on the Reds’ part in looking at moving Frazier but if so, that might open up 3rd base for Suarez. I’m guessing Phillips isn’t going anywhere.

  2. DHud

    All good arguments and plausible courses of action.

    Of course, the service time argument is going to be the big ticket for Winker. With little hope of competing in 2016 the Reds will likely want to keep that extra year of control. I’d like to see him called up after the All-Star game to give fans something to still be excited about.

    Until then, I would like to see them give internal options a try. Rodriguez is out of options and is still clamored to be a ball player, so give him his chance in left and in center when Hamilton is down while platooning maybe Duvall, Waldrop/LaMarre, and Suarez (see below) with him. YRod would also give flexibility in center.

    I just don’t see the Reds trading BP. He has full no trade rights and loves playing in Cincy. Although he would provide value to a contender, I don’t think teams will see eye to eye on the asking price. For what the Reds would get back, they’ll figure they might as well keep him. Plus they have Blandino fast tracked through the minors, so shifting Suarez to 2B would block Blandino.

    This relishes Suarez to a super-utility position, in my mind. Maybe the Reds antiquated management can figure out how to get his bat in the lineup 3-5 times per week like the Pirates, Rays, and Royals have done with players such as Zobrist, Harrison, and Kang. I’d give him time at SS, 2B, 3B, and LF and plug him in whenever someone has a day off.

    My curveball is a mid-summer trade of Cozart. I really love his defense, but I’m not sold on his bat. A contender, especially in the AL, may look at him for a defensive upgrade and it would clear space for Suarez to play everyday.

    • doctor

      I am with you on the LF. FInd time for the current “young” guys, Waldrop/Lamarre/YRod/Duvall, until Winker forces his way into the discussion with his bat, whether that is mid 2016 or not until ST of 2017.

      Regarding SS, I rather have Suarez there until he proves his glove is too shaky. If he show adequate defense and maintain his hit skill, Reds have advantage over lots of teams and he is the future at middle infield. Have Cozart be the super-util guy and cover 3B/SS/2B. Reds need to use 2016 to learn what player Suarez is. Also, moving Suarez to 2B then blocks Blandino, the reds prospect closest to majors for middle infield with bat/glove seemingly profiling best for 2B, he also seems to be on same timeline with Winker.

      • Daytonian

        Lamarre? As part of something in LF? Really? He was promoted last year only as YRod was injured. He showed nothing during his time with the club. The Reds have to do better than that, or else the curse of LF continues.

      • Michael Smith

        Blandino is at least a year a way in that scenario and Cozart is gone as soon as he hits free agency which i believe is after next year.

      • Matt

        We have 2 years of control over Cozart still.

    • ohiojimw

      I don’t see what value there is for a team in rebuilding mode to hang onto Cozart for half a season to see what he can do post surgery. He has only 2 years,2016/17, of team control left and is 30 years old and thus not really a candidate for a long term contract to play SS. Just cut the cord, take what little they can get for him and use 2016 to see if Suarez is the SS ofthe future.

      • Matt

        Good fielding shortstops with some pop are valuable. If Cozart recovers well from his injury and keeps hitting anything like last year, he’ll have trade value.

      • ohiojimw

        If this were last off season and Cozart was in the in injury situation he is in now, I would probably agree.

        However, the Reds have crossed over and are clearly in a rebuilding mode. Cozart has advanced to his 2nd year of arbitration eligibility. A team acquiring him at mid season would be getting player with a year and half of control remaining and would face paying 3rd year arb rates for that final season. I’m not sure Cozart has ever hit with enough consistency or pop to make a team want to bite on him under those circumstances

    • Joey

      Depends on what kind of return we can get for Cozart. He is a question mark so the return might not be great but maybe we start the season with him and let him build up his stock a little bit before trading him. I like the idea of trading Phillips at the Winter Meetings. I don’t know if Brandon would reject a trade to the Yankees but I would be up for trading an aging Phillips for Dustin Ackley who is still arb controlled for another year or two I think. He can play 2nd and split time in the outfield as he has done that the last year or two. In my opinion, Ackley at 2nd, and Left is better than Suarez in left because he is too valuable at SS. Or maybe Cozart & Phillips for Ackley & a cost controlled power bullpen arm. Could be good for both teams and give us some needed payroll flexibility.

    • Carl Sayre

      I am worried that Cozart’s injury will diminish his defense but until I see it he is the SS. Suarez would have to hit around 400 to get me to put him at SS over Cozart. I would be more comfortable trying Suarez in LF, that is where teams have been hiding questionable gloves who can hit as long as I have been watching the game(50) years.I agree that we have to get Suarez’s bat in the line up but his defense was very underwhelming.

  3. wkuchad

    Center field is another major decision

    • RFM

      Not really, with Billy Hamilton being the only serious candidate. Yorman Rodriguez has a better chance of winning the wide open LF job (or RF job if Bruce is traded) than taking Billy Hamilton’s job in CF.

      If there’s going to be a big decision made on CF it’s very unlikely to be made this winter.

    • jdx19

      Billy is an above-average overall player who makes almost no money. He should be penciled in CF until he loses his speed and defense, or until we luck into another 2.5-3.0 WAR player.

      • wkuchad

        Fangraphs has Billy at a 1.9 WAR, but I was surprised it was that high. That .274 OBP is just so bad.

        Surprised Cozart’s WAR was higher than Suerez.

        And Fangraphs has Bruce at .1 WAR! I stopped watching the last month or so, but Bruce must have been very bad considering where he was at the trade deadline.

      • jdx19

        Yes, because of his injuries. WAR is a cumulative stat, so his missed time eliminated his defensive and baserunning value. He is a 2.5 to 3.0 WAR players as a healthy player. And he’s a 1 to 1.5 WAR player if he missed half the season.

        For someone making no money (comparatively speaking), that’s a good asset to have. His hitting is terrible, but being one of the top 3 defensive CFers and the best baserunner in the game has an associated value to it.

        Yes, Bruce had a pretty poor season. Very discouraging since he had nice peripherals through the first 60% of the season or so. Unforunately, he reverted back to having a very high o-Swing% in the last 2 months and that tanked his season stats.

  4. Dan

    our entire outfield is a major decision. Bruce has tanked 2 years in a row. The Reds trade him this off season.

    • jdx19

      At this point, I now agree with this. I don’t think Bruce will improve. He showed us what we wanted to see throughout the first half or more of the season; namely, swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone. That led to more walks and generally better contact (more hard hit balls due to swinging at better pitches). Once his BABIP fluctuations evened out, he was well over a 100 wRC+ on the season in the late July time-frame, if memory serves.

      Unfortunately, he fell back into his old habits. Why this is, no one knows. He started swinging at pitches out of the zone far higher than his career averages and had very poor results for the last 2 months.

      If he found something that worked, yet reverted back anyways, that leads me to believe he has perhaps peaked, and even if he hasn’t, the odds of realizing his true potential is very low.

      • lwblogger2

        I’m not sure what happened. I don’t think anyone is. The peripherals and just watching him the whole first half of the season made it seem he turned a corner. This was even with his early slump. From watching him and from looking at his peripherals, you knew he was going to come out of it. He did, big time! Then, all of a sudden he started reaching for pitches and opening up to soon, and in worse ways then he really ever had before.

        I think he presses and compounds problems when he’s struggling. I think he can get sorted out if he chooses to listen to coaching that would get him back into good habits. At this point, I think some new voices, a new environment, and less pressure to produce would do him a world of good.

      • Michael E

        Why did I read about his solid first half in several posts? HE was TERRIBLE for all of April and most of May. True, he did start hitting in late May and continued to hit well into July basically and then, back to the April May form.

        His hot streak lasted longer this year than past years (usually just two weeks or so, this year more like six weeks of near all-star level hitting), yet he had only ONE hot streak, whereas he usually has two book-ended by even longer cold streaks.

        April-May combined:

        162 AB
        7 HR
        23 RBI
        26 BB
        46 K
        .222 / .328 / .407
        .735 OPS

        April alone, as we struggled to win many close games:

        .181 / .310 / .403

        Post all-star game:

        .199 / .242 / .402
        .644 OPS

        Bruce needs gone to some team in dire need of LH power. They can hold their nose at this peripherals and such and just be juiced about his 25 HRs from the left side of the plate. A good GM can swindle another team into giving us a really good prospect for Bruce and not including money.

  5. ohiojimw

    The Reds best choice for left fielder in 2016 is already in the org; and, his name is Devin Mesoraco.

    No one knows if Meso’s hip will stand up to the rigors of catching 5 or days a week; there is no history of catchers who have had the that procedure to help the Reds figure it out. However the history of position players who weren’t catchers who have gone down the hip surgery path clearly indicates Meso should be able to function as an every day LF. In addition, Meso, is not really a strong receiver. He respects the craft and works hard at it; but even pre surgery did not move really well behind the plate and simply does not have first rate catchers’ hands.

    • sultanofswaff

      MVP caliber players don’t switch positions until their body simply cannot handle the workload. There’s zero proof that will be the case. And the criticism of his defense is unfounded both by the metrics and the eye test. He’s no Barnhart, but he’s easily in the top third of all catchers. If you move him to left, he’d be in the bottom third.

      • ohiojimw

        And hasn’t his body already failed to handle the work load, thus leading to the hip surgery? The condition the surgery addressed was the result of chronic deterioration of the joint, not a traumatic injury.

        Unless and until the joint is completely realigned and/or replaced the wearing down process will begin a new.

      • ohiojimw

        MVP caliber players don’t switch positions until their body simply cannot handle the workload…..
        *************************************************************

        Robin Yount won AL MVP Awards as both a SS and CF

        Craig Biggio was an All Star in 1991 as a catcher (over 2/3 of his appearances) and in 1992 as a 2B

        Dale Murphy had approximately as many MLB PAs a 1B/C as Meso currently has before Murphy moved to the OF and became 2 time NL MVP and 6 time All Star

        Yogi Berra was an All Star 4 times in seasons when he made at least 1/3 of his appearances as an OF versus as a catcher.

        I don’t recall that any of these switches were made strictly because the guy physically could no longer perform at the original positions.

      • sultanofswaff

        The point is, how does it help the Reds to move him off a position that he excels at to one where he’d be average to below all while blocking a legitimate LF who will man the position for the next 6 years? Makes no sense.

      • ohiojimw

        The divergence between us is our opinions of Meso as a catcher/ receiver. I think he is no more than adequate as a receiver. My eye test is watching almost every game and seeing the number of pitches that end up popping out of his glove and that many of the pitches that stay in his mit he catches less than cleanly compared to seeing the other Reds and opposing catchers. I have commented on this before here; and, guys who caught a longer and at a lot higher level than I ever did have remarked they see the same. Over time this is bound to influence how a game is called; and, the confidence of the young pitchers in throwing to him.

        I think with a young developing staff, they need the best receivers they can field without severely breaking the offense; and, I would move Meso out of the mix and into LF since his primary value is offense. We know Meso is capable of putting up MVP or near MVP level offensive numbers. Let’s wait and worry about Winker after we’ve seen him do more at AAA than he did in the second half of 2015 at AA.

      • VaRedsFan

        In full agreement with Ohiojim about Mez’s catching skills. Let’s try him in LF. Even if he can still catch, are we going to let him catch 6 days/week anyway? Catch 3 days/outfield 3 days/ 1 day off per week.

      • ohiojimw

        And at this point Meso’s health is also a major long term issue in regards to the rigors of catching.

        Aside from how durable he will be in regard to the hip, he has shown something of a predisposition to suffering concussions and had some leg issues.

        I think it is in both the player’s and team’s interests to get him out from behind the plate, especially since they are rebuilding and LF is wide open.

      • Grand Salami

        One look at all those LF options and I couldn’t agree more about Meso being part of the solution out there. Barnhart is a serviceable MLB catcher and he can handle a good workload. Leaning on Tucker and Mes (even as a below average LF) seems like a far more probable combination of success than guaranteeing Mes stays at C (where he may or may not be able to play) and one of those names listed above. Yuck.

        Nori was the guy last year and probably could ahve been had for a two year contract. The Reds didn’t follow their newly avowed OBP commitment and traded for Byrd. This years selection pool makes last year’s (Aoki, Byrd, Morse) look like an all star line up.

  6. ohiojimw

    Zack Cozart is not part of the Reds rebuilt future. In 2016 he will be a 2nd year arb guy playing in his age 30 season coming off of major knee surgery. That’s not a pretty picture for a skill position like SS. The Reds should let someone else pay to see what Cozart can still do while in the meantime they move on by using 2016 to settle the question of whether Suarez can play an acceptable MLB SS.

    • Michael E

      I fully agree…and he was mostly TERRIBLE hitting wise until first half of this year. I know he is a very good (not great) fielder, but geez, the sudden love for a player that was part of the hitting problem for the past 4+ years is mind-boggling.

    • Carl Sayre

      Suarez an acceptable major league SS ? I strongly disagree the balls he got to and didn’t commit an error on had me holding my breath every time. He may grow into the position but I don’t know that I have ever seen a full time SS look that scared everytime the ball is hit his way.

  7. sultanofswaff

    Zack Cozart had two good months based on an unsustainable BABIP. Had he stayed healthy, he would’ve reverted back to where he’s always been—among the worst hitting regulars in baseball. Nothing about his peripherals changed even when he was going good. Under no circumstances should he have a starting job, especially with Billy Hamilton plus a pitcher in the lineup. Suarez should be the starter.

    • tct

      Cozart had a .258 BABIP. That’s really low, and even though he should be expected to have a lower than average BABIP because of weak contact, it’s still lower than his career average.

      Cozart’s offensive improvement was based on increased walk rate, decreased K rate, and more homers. Whether that’s sustainable or not I will leave for another day. But Zack doesn’t have to be an average or better hitter to be valuable. If he can just put up his 2012 levels of offense, then he is a 2-3 win player.

    • jdx19

      I think the truth is somewhere in the middle of Sultan’s and TCT’s stories.

      Cozart started the season with a crazy BABIP and a crazy HR/FB%. By the time he was injured, his propensity to pop out and hit lazy fly balls brought his BABIP down to .258, however, his HR/FB% was still at 12.9%, which is about 80% higher than his previous career rate of around 7%.

      One out of every 8 fly balls was a homer for Zack in 2015, while only 1 in every 14 was a homer for his career before 2015.

      This gave Cozart a .201 ISO, compared to .130 for his career.

      I don’t think Cozart has improved as a hitter at all… he just hit a few homers, and I don’t think any of us think Cozart is a 25 HR guy.

      • DavidTurner49

        JDX, I always appreciate your posts, but this time I’m confused. Seems like your conclusion (no improvement) doesn’t follow from your citation of improved HR rate and ISO stats. Help me follow your argument.

    • Scott in Texas

      I completely agree with this assessment regarding Cozart.

    • Michael E

      Cozart’s lengthy Reds history suggests he isn’t anywhere close to a good hitter. While maybe he finally figured something out, given the injury and his increasing salaries upcoming, we’re better off not extending him and possible even trading him should he start off 2016 well (and healthy).

  8. tct

    I don’t want to be that guy who points out other people’s typos. Lord knows I make plenty of them. But”clutch jean” was funny. Alex Rios has magic pants!!! Performance Enhancing Denim!!!

    • lwblogger2

      Performance Enhancing Denim! I knew there was something going on there! No way a guy can be that clutchy without wardrobe help!

  9. Steve Schoenbaechler

    For LF, none of the FA’s mentioned are worth the money. we have internal candidates who can get that number. There are definitely some better OF and LF candidates out there who can get better numbers. But, then, they would also cost more money.

    Internal, I believe between Suarez and Devin. I believe it’s going to depend upon a couple of things:

    1) Can Devin even field out there? If he can’t, then no use in playing him out there. Remember the Yonder Alonso experiment. I know players have switched positions before successfully. But, that doesn’t mean that all players can.

    2) Maybe the Reds even try to trade BP. I believe this would be the ideal thing for the Reds, trade BP, Suarez or Cozart steps in there, then Devin takes LF. But, again, this depends upon the Reds making the trade.

    Winker I believe is still a season away.

    I believe it will end up internal, Devin or Suarez.

    • sultanofswaff

      Exactly. If you think Kyle Schwarber is a good LF, then you’ll love Mez.

      • greenmtred

        But we really have no idea how Mez would do in left field, do we? We have guesses, and that’s it.

      • lwblogger2

        Honestly Sultan, I think Devin would be ok out in LF. I’m not saying the Reds shoudl move him but I think he’d be an adequate LF. He’s a pretty good athlete, runs fairly well, and seem to work hard. There would be a learning curve of course and he’ll make his share of mistakes but I think he could handle LF.

  10. DHud

    Not saying LaMarre is an answer or even really a “good” option, but he is just that: an option that could possibly earn himself at least a look as a platoon type player

    • DHud

      Replied in the wrong place.

      Meant to be a response to Daytonian on my above comment

    • DHud

      Replied to wrong thread.

      Meant to be a response to Daytonian from above.

  11. PDunc

    We have some question marks at all 3 outfield spots.

    In LF:
    When will Winker be ready? Are any of our internal candidates an adequate fill-in until that time?

    In CF:
    Will Hamilton be able to stay relatively healthy? Injuries are possibly a concern due to his thin frame and the diving catches and head first slides that are a big part of his game. If he is healthy, will he ever be even league-average at the plate?

    In RF:
    Will we get another 800+ OPS type season from Jay Bruce again? (see his 2010-2013 seasons) We saw that kind of production during the first half of 2015, but a huge drop-off in the second half.

    I think that Jocketty should look to sign a free agent outfielder that can play all 3 outfield spots and get on base at a decent clip.

    • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

      I agree with this. The outfield is a mess. I fear Billy will never be the offensive weapon he has the potential to be and Jay Bruce is Jay Bruce. Left field has been a black hole for years. Hopefully something good happens. Winker will probably not come up for a while. There’s nobody in the OF to count on. It’s a really weird thing to think about.

      • PDunc

        The odds of Winker being ready for the big leagues early in 2016, Hamilton being healthy and improved at the plate, and Bruce playing a whole season like he did in the first half of 2015 are pretty low. The odds of 1 or 2 of those things happening, though, are pretty good. That’s why finding a guy who could man any of the 3 outfield positions is important this offseason.

    • Michael E

      To be fair, Bruce sucked for all of April and half of May, so saying his first half was good is bad. He did have a solid late May and early June and a scorching late June and early July and then he was probably the worst full-time hitter in baseball after the all-star break. THE WORST HITTER the entire second half. AWFUL.

      April – TERRIBLE
      May – AVERAGE (bad early, better late)
      June – ABOVE AVERAGE
      July – HOT early, faded late
      ROS – even his mom would bow her head in shame

      April:

      .181 / .310 / .403

      Post all-star game:

      .199 / .242 / .402

      So while many keep saying good first half, he was one of the biggest reasons we started off in a deep hole after two months of the season (the bullpen and bottom of the rotation were pretty inept too).

      • lwblogger2

        Basically the same thing you responded to me above. Overall, his first half, particularly April and the beginning of May were bad. That said, his April and beginning of May had signs from watching him and based on statistic metrics like O-swing% (how often he swung at pitches outside the zone), BB% (his overall walk rate), his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and batted-ball exit velocity data suggested that he would come out of it. He in fact did come out of it the 2nd week of May. He sustained that streak into early July.

        After the All-Star break, it started to come undone. Not only was his batting average bad, he started to open up too early and he started to pull off the ball. He also started swinging at more pitches outside the zone than he had in his entire career (as a percentage of pitches). While he showed signs in his early season slump that things would get better and part of what was going on was bad luck, his late season slump had nothing either analytically or mechanically, to suggest that luck was a factor. He was bad and I offer no defense for it.

        I think what you said about a good GM being able to get a good prospect for him without sending cash in the deal may be possible but it would appear unlikely. We are pretty sure that Wheeler from the Mets and possibly a minor prospect was Bruce’s trade value at the deadline. I was glad the Reds didn’t pull the trigger then but considering Bruce’s season after that, his value has gone down since then. I think if the Reds trade Bruce, they shouldn’t expect much of a prospect back assuming they don’t want to take on any of his salary.

      • Michael E

        as much as I have soured on Bruce, his final stats still ended up mildly respectable from a power perspective. His salary is not high for a top half revenue team, so I doubt we’d have to include much, if any, money. However, if it means getting another teams top hitting prospect (or second best), I’d like to see them kick in $3 million for season or something.

  12. jdx19

    I think Winker should get the Addison Russell and Carlos Correa treatment. Spend a month or so in AAA and then come up to the big show. Even if Winker hits .230 with minimal power, his plate discipline alone should give him at least a .340 OBP or so, which coupled with average defense would likely make Winker a league-average to slightly-below average player. That seems fine for a team in rebuilding mode.

    I could be completely wrong, but I don’t think there’s much reason in keeping him down. It’s OK for a rookie to struggle, in my opinion.

    • jessecuster44

      In hindsight, was it OK for Billy Hamilton to struggle? He’s regressed since 2014.

      • lwblogger2

        In all fairness, Winker is a different type of hitter compared to Hamilton. He also has struggled at times in the minors but even when doing so, managed to maintain a decent walk-rate and didn’t seem to panic. I watched Billy Hamilton play around with his swing mechanics, his stance, his approach, his entire hitting style. It’s possible that Winker could struggle and then regress but I think it’s less likely to happen with him than with a player who didn’t have such an advanced approach at the plate.

      • jessecuster44

        We’ll see. If the Reds truly are rebuilding, there’s absolutely no reason to promote Winker unless he is ready.

      • lwblogger2

        I agree. No sense rushing him, that’s for sure.

      • VaRedsFan

        Other than week 1, Billy didn’t struggle at the plate early in 2014.

  13. ArtWayne

    Trade Phillips, Bruce and Chapman for the best talent available. It would hide Phillips’ age and salary, Bruce’s ineptness and salary. Chapman elite talent could bring a big time talent like Puig , and a first-line SP and reliever.. Our catching dept increased last year with Barnhart blossoming, Meso could play the outfield and Suarez 2nd base. Hopefully, the new players would form a winning attitude much like the Royals.

    • jessecuster44

      Chappy for Puig and also other players? You overestimate Chappy’s value. Don’t feel bad, so did Walt at the trading deadline.

      • Michael E

        Jesse, while I don’t think he brings much value to the Reds (a solid closer, nothing more…wasted at only 60 IP), that 100mph is a dream for probably 10 other teams in need of a late inning lefty that can get lots of Ks when the game is on the line.

        He should bring back either two top six prospects from another team or 3 top 12 prospects…OR one elite MLB ready prospect and another low A ball high-upside prospect.

        Bruce and Phillips would only be worth one top 5 type prospect or a promising non-Elite MLB-ready prospect.

      • jessecuster44

        Then why didn’t he bring back this kind of haul at the deadline? Not sure you can expect a better package when the team is acquiring Chappy for less time.

      • Michael E

        Because he wasn’t actually traded Jesse. How do you know he wouldn’t have brought in that kind of haul or better? We don’t know because a deal was not actively pursued by Walt.

        We supposedly (doubtful) turned down a mega-offer from Diamondbacks.

        If you want to know Chapman’s worth, go to OTHER teams forums and see how half the teams in baseball are clamoring to TRADE THE HOUSE FOR CHAPMAN. I know, its fans, not GMs, but the thoughts tend to align when another teams fans are valuing a player higher than some of the home fans are, that tells you how cynical many of us have become due to the complete mis-use of Chapman.

        Some of us don’t value Chapman very high (not me) because of his few innings and low impact on the Reds. I realize that on a contending team, he can be worth alot, by dropping all fellow relievers down a rung on the pecking order (thus strengthening the whole bullpen), and giving that team a high-K rate type that can get that strikeout when the winning run is in scoring position and less than two outs and a fly out or ground out might give up the lead.

      • ohiojimw

        There are at least three teams watching KC world championship parade that might have been having their own parade if they Chapman had been in the back end of their pen.

        Chapman is an odd piece for the Reds now because of their situation. However he could be close to priceless to a team that figures to make a deep playoff run.

        Unfortunately for the Reds, the potential buyers also know AC has limited utility for the Reds now; and, they will try and sweat down the Reds accordingly.

      • VaRedsFan

        So very very true. Houston immediately comes to mind. Ahhh…but Walt allegedly doesn’t get along with the Houston front office.

      • ohiojimw

        I was so glad to see JC and Volquez win it all that I’ll give WJ a mulligan on that one:)

      • jessecuster44

        There’s always a chance that a team will Overpay for Chappy. I just don’t see it unless there’s an injury or a bidding war materializes. I’m thinking Chappy’s value was at its highest before the trading deadline this season, and for some reason he wasn’t moved.

    • Chuck Schick

      This is a pipe dream. The market for 12 million dollar closers, a year away from UFA is rather small…..extremely small.

      • Michael E

        This is the best arm in baseball, so not quite your “run of the mill” closer Chuck. That is where you are completely missing the boat.

    • JB

      Don’t understand the love for Puig. He is a cancer in the dugout and hasn’t his numbers gone down since his first full year?

  14. Redgoggles

    I think the Reds have to sign a FA LFer that can play CF. This would give them some flexibility for Hamilton performance/injury, Bruce trade, Winkler readiness. If all goes great with the regulars, the FA could be flipped ala Bryd in July.

    • jessecuster44

      No – they need to TRADE for this OF that you speak of. FA options are garbage.

  15. ohiojimw

    Cardinals have declined Jonathan Broxton’s 2016 option. What’s the over/ under that WJ brings him back to Cincy seeing as how now he is not only a former Red but also a former Cardinal??

    • jessecuster44

      Probabillity increases exponentially, not that Brox is an ex-card.

    • lwblogger2

      All comes down to $$ and years.

  16. sezwhom

    With all those arms and Wheeler coming back, the Mets will be looking for a bat and Bruce would be worth moving. It’s time for the Reds to reload. We are so far behind the Cards, Pirates and Cubs it isn’t funny.

    • doctor

      The Mets don’t have a spot for Bruce as they should have penciled in for 2016 Conforto/Lagares/Granderson for LF/CF/RF and Mets still have Cuddyer under contract.

  17. TR

    I would prefer the Reds do not go the free agent route for a one year placeholder in left field. If spring training goes well for Winker and Y-Rod, I would start Winker in left field and make Y-Rod the fourth outfielder. Mesoraco could play left field, as needed, since Barnhart has developed into a good defensive catcher and his offense is not bad. Phillips holds the trump card in regard to a trade, but Suarez at second base would go well with the rebuilding mode.

    • ohiojimw

      Badenhoff also declined and LeCure outrightedt to AAA. Per C.Trent, even after bringing back Bailey, Meso, Cozart, and Moscot from the 60 day DL to the 40 man roster, there are still six open spots on the 40 man. Anybody have a quick handle on who has to come onto the 40 man over the winter? Seems to me I’ve read that neither Stephenson nor Winker have to be moved to the 40 man yet.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Stephenson does have to be added this winter. Sal Romano is another one who needs to be added as well as Stephen Johnson (the reliever that the Reds got back in the Byrd deal).

        A few other marginal guys like Seth Mejias-Brean and Sebastian Elizalde may be added, but are probably unlikely to be drafted in Rule V. Aristides Aquino, who is a higher rated prospect may need to be added, but is very unlikely to be drafted in Rule V.

        Those are the main guys I’ve seen talked about the most over on Redsminorleagues.com

  18. Playtowin

    Rebuild as quickly as possible. Reds need to retain some good players to keep fan interest and help the young players develop. This will not be easy to execute. There are at least two 90+ loss seasons coming. Patience will be needed by all. It took the Royals 30 years to kick losing. Hopefully it will be not that long for the Reds.

  19. David

    Billy Hamilton had an OPS of .563 and and OBP of 0.274. Mike Lorenzen had a higher OPS than Billy. How many players did the World Champion Royals have that stole over 50 bases? I would guess that to be zero. And I would also guess that there was no one in their everyday lineup that had an OPS as low as 0.563. And in fact Omar Infante had a very low OBP (.234) and OPS (.552) and was replaced with Ben Zobrist, aquired in a trade at the deadline. The Royals knew that Infante was an offensive liability with those numbers. What do the Reds know that we don’t?

    • jessecuster44

      That Billy plays a mean CF. That Billy’s speed is unparalleled. Forget stealing bases, the guy scored on a pop fly, and clearly is a distraction to pitchers.

      Reds do need to help Billy get on base more. Improving Billy’s OBP and ground ball rate would be a top priority, if I was in charge.

      • Michael E

        Simple solution, don’t let Billy go to bat with a bat in his hand and he’d improve is OBP greatly.

      • lwblogger2

        Ha! Good one! … Honestly, I think teams have zero fear of Hamilton hurting him with his bat. Most MLB pitchers can throw it over the plate when they want to (a few, not so much). I think they just go right after him and that’s one of the reasons for his low BB-rate.

      • jessecuster44

        That’s not nice. A better strategy would be the Willie Mays Hayes – you hit a fly ball, you do 100 pushups.

      • Ed koverman

        I agree I remember times he would get on base and pitchers would lose it

    • greenmtred

      Did you miss Cespedes sabotage of the Mets? Billy’s defense is worth more than some of realize.

      • lwblogger2

        Cespedes isn’t a CF really though. They were putting their best offense out there. Hamilton’s defense is excellent. If he was even an average MLB hitter, he’d be an all-star. My issue is that I don’t think the Reds can afford such an offensive hit when they already struggle to get offense from other places in the lineup. I’d love an above-average hitter who played average defense but I’d settle for an average CF who played average defense.

  20. Dan

    By the end of 2016 We should be seeing Mr. Winker and Mr. Stephenson as permanent members of 25 man team. I am sceptical that either will pan out to greatness but I am excited nonetheless to see them get up to the majors and give it a go. I see Stephenson as a fantastic closer for a few years. His arm looks like TJ walking and his wild man ways is going to ensure he never goes deep into innings. A no brainer that he will be Chapman’s replacement at some point.
    Winker is going to be a breath of fresh air though. He will never be a power hitter but putting him in the line-up before or just after Votto and you are going to see runners on 1st and 2nd quite a bit. between the two I think you will also often see pitchers throwing 20 pitches in 1 inning just between those 2 guys.

    • lwblogger2

      Huh, I thought they were hiring Bud Black? Didn’t see that one coming. Good for Dusty. I hope he does well for them. He did a lot of head-shaking things but on a personal level, he seems like a good guy and the kind of manager that most players would love to play for.

      • ohiojimw

        Apparently Black was “insulted” by their first contract offer and things went south quickly after that, finally collapsing late Monday evening (eastern time) which opened the door for Dusty. One has to wonder if Dusty had an inside supporter who helped to wreck the negotiations with Black. All’s fair in love, war, and corporate personnel decisions.

  21. tct

    The Royals success could help the trade value of a few Reds. Their team was built on a unique model; position players who play really good defense, are aggressive swingers who make a lot of contact, and have a little bit of power. BP fits that mold and so does Cozart if he comes back strong.

    The other big ingredient was a deep, dominant bullpen. I’ve said many times that I think the traditional analytic community under values relievers. WAR just doesn’t tell you the value of high leverage relievers. Chapman may see his value climb a little this off season, and teams may be more interested in BP and Zack if teams try to copy the Royals success.

      • tct

        Yeah, he does. 13.6% k rate this year compared with the league average of 20.4%. He’s decreased his k rate every year he’s been in the league.

  22. Hotto4Votto

    Yorman Rodriguez has to be a candidate to start in LF next year. He is out of options and must land on the 25-man roster. He’ll play a better defensive OF than Duvall at the very least.

    Another avenue of addressing LF could be the Rule V draft to find a platoon partner for Rodriguez/Duvall. The Reds will have the 2nd pick and should be able to find some value.

    I think people forget how small of a sample size Cozart hit in, and how his numbers were trending. He had a very hot month and a half to start the year but then after that his numbers were declining up until he got hurt. I don’t think there is any reason to expect Cozart to put up those numbers for the entire year, as he’s never had an OBP higher than the 280’s in MLB. Suarez is younger and has more potential. Cozart is likely who he is as a hitter, and probably won’t be as good defensively coming off an injury, which is where all of value is tied to. I wouldn’t move the guys who is likely the future SS to another position based off a hot month and a half of Cozart, especially when he is likely gone by 2018 and getting more expensive by the year.

    • Dan

      Arbitration is going to make Cozart unaffordable in the very near future. Reds should trade him for low cost options before that occurs.

      • David

        I think he will be “affordable”, but will he be valuable per the salary? I read somewhere that the thinking was that 1 WAR as a player was worth ~ $5 million dollars. So would Zach be worth $10 million dollars with a big contract? And how many years? That seems high to me.

      • tct

        He’s in his second arb year and only projected to make 3 million. He’s a bargain at that price.

  23. Ed koverman

    I think a problem with the Reds is brining up young talent too soon. Heist Bruce Hamilton….. I like de aza as a left handed stick in left