2016 Reds

Ten reasons to be excited for Cincinnati Reds baseball in 2016!

Baseball is back.

Over the years, I’ve been known to wax eloquent during the spring about the return of baseball. Some of those years, there was real excitement over a possible pennant race for the ol’ Redlegs. Other years…well, we have to dig a little deeper to find reasons to look forward to the baseball season.

If you know me away from the digital pages of Redleg Nation, you probably know that I’m not exactly an eternal optimist. My sports teams have a nasty habit of breaking my heart, so I can be pretty cynical about things. Case in point: the basketball team from my alma mater — the University of Virginia — led by 15 points with 9:30 left in an Elite Eight game last weekend. Yep, less than ten minutes away from the Final Four. You probably know what happened. I watched in horror from Section 103 in Chicago’s United Center as UVa teased me again, only to let me down in the end.

Most of you are fans of the Reds and Bengals — and if you want to keep talking about college hoops, UC and Xavier fans know about having your hopes dashed — so you well understand what it’s like to have a team on the brink of success before they break your heart. Cincinnati sports teams have a habit of doing things like that.

The good (?) news: that’s probably not going to happen to Reds fans this season. Cincinnati is projected to be one of the worst teams in the major leagues, and there’s a good reason for that. Johnny Cueto/Mike Leake/Aroldis Chapman/Todd Frazier…all plying their trade in other fine cities (plus St. Louis) around the country. The Reds’ rebuild or reboot or whatever they’re calling it this week is in full swing, and the best we can do is look forward to the next good Reds team. Let’s hope we aren’t waiting too long for that. (The Reds say we’ll need to wait until 2017 or 2018, for what it’s worth.)

But there are reasons to watch the Reds in 2016. A bunch of reasons, in fact. Let’s explore some of them, shall we?VottoOBPSDAA

1. Joey Votto
There isn’t much more that I can say about Votto, except this: each of us should make an effort to enjoy every single one of Votto’s at-bats this year. He is a special player in Reds history, maybe the best you’ll see in your lifetime.

In terms of career WAR, Votto is already in the franchise top ten; presuming good health, Votto will likely pass Tony Perez and Vada Pinson to move up to 7th on that list by the end of 2016. By the end of 2017, Votto has an outside chance to catch Joe Morgan and move into the top five, behind Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, and Frank Robinson. These are Cincinnati legends we’re talking about here, and Votto is in their midst.

Another reason not to miss a single Votto at-bat:

“I think the thing that makes him as good as he is, is that he doesn’t ever give away an at-bat,” Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco said. “I catch myself at times where I try to have a good two-strike approach and really grind through an at-bat, and then I just do something really stupid and get out swinging at a dumb pitch or was too aggressive.

“For him, he’s always grinding out every single at-bat. It doesn’t matter if we’re down 10 runs. It doesn’t matter if the game is on the line. And that’s just a very hard thing to do from a mental standpoint, to be that invested in every single at-bat. Man, that’s hard to do and he does it better than anybody.”

Plus, there’s this:

We love you, Joey Votto. Don’t ever change.

2. Devin Mesoraco
The Reds sorta bungled Mesoraco’s rehab from a hip impingement last year, before finally getting around to sending him for the surgery he needed, but Mes is back now. We can only hope he’s better than ever, but it may be a bit much to ask Mesoraco to top the incredible season he posted in 2014.

You remember 2014: .273/.359/.534 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI, a 4.8 bWAR. Only two catchers in Reds history have ever had a better season than that one, and both of those catchers are in the Hall of Fame: Ernie Lombardi in 1938, and Johnny Lee Bench in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, and 1979.*

*Note: Johnny Bench was good.

Is Devin Mesoraco a Hall of Famer waiting to happen? No, probably not. But the return of a healthy Mesoraco is certainly a reason to watch the 2016 Reds with interest.

3. Raisel Iglesias
If a bunch of math doesn’t make your eyes gloss over, go read this. Here’s the kicker:

All of nine 2015 NL ERA qualifiers posted a better “tru” ERA- figure than Iglesias’ 80. Their names were Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Madison Bumgarner, Tyson Ross and Jon Lester. He’s in the immediate next tier, in a virtual dead heat with Gerrit Cole, Kyle Hendricks, Carlos Martinez and Shelby Miller. Pretty good company. Plus, a bunch of those guys owe their 2015 rankings to BIP authority allowed, which fluctuates more than Ks and BBs, more so than Iglesias. He’s a young, developing hurler, and plenty could go wrong as his workload is extended over a full 162+ inning season, but Raisel Iglesias’ upside is substantial, enough so to potentially pay off his contract many times over.

Iglesias is the most exciting young Reds starter since the days that I was deluding myself about the Reds putting Aroldis Chapman in the rotation. When you combine his upside with guys like Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and some guys I’m going to mention below, you begin to see the makings of one of the best starting rotations in the league over the next few years. This could be fun.Raisel Iglesias 2

4. Dick Williams
This is a transition year, as Dick Williams has taken over as Reds general manager, with Walt Jocketty stepping back into the shadows. You shouldn’t expect everything to change suddenly about the way the Reds approach baseball operations/scouting/development…and you shouldn’t want everything to change. The Reds have done a good job drafting and developing players over the last ten years, and for whatever criticism Jocketty deserves, you must concede that he’s gotten good value for the Reds in trades.

Here’s why the ascension of Dick Williams could potentially be exciting for Reds fans: he’s actively bolstering the Cincinnati analytics department and, unlike past GMs, he isn’t hostile to the stat geeks. No, Williams isn’t a Baseball Prospectus-alum*, but he seems to understand that a team needs a good analytics department. I’m excited to see how (whether?) this manifests itself on the field. It’s something worth watching.

*Williams is a fellow alum of the University of Virginia, however, for whatever that’s worth.

5. Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed
I can’t do any better than this…FanGraphs on Stephenson:

Stephenson has slowly but surely improved every step up the Reds minor league system. His command has abandoned him for stretches during his last two seasons, but his stuff is frontline starter material, and he has shown improvements in consistency as the competition he faces gets more advanced. Though he may still be a couple years away from really turning the corner, Stephenson has much of what you look for in a young power thrower learning how to pitch….

The upside here is huge, and Stephenson has the athleticism to reasonably project command gains as he develops in the following years. I think he may take a year or two to show it, but I’m confident in him finding a way to make his elite stuff work. If he only mildly improves, he still projects as a number three or four starter or high-leverage reliever with his power arsenal.

I’m hedging his overall grades a bit until he demonstrates the ability to own his pitch location, but I do think he has the ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation starter. Look for improving command numbers as an indicator of how quickly he can fulfill his promise.

and Reed:

He has reached the mid to high-90s with his fastball, though he gets better movement and command in the 91-94 range. Reed pairs his heater with an improved slider and developing changeup. His slider has taken a step forward in the past year, showing good depth and better location than it previously had. His changeup gets good marks for its movement and improved viability as a third pitch, but he slows his arm and body down a good amount. Throwing it with consistent arm speed will be required for it to be an above-average offering.

Previously, Reed looked like a better fit for the bullpen, but his current trajectory puts him solidly in the middle of a big league rotation, with the ceiling of a number two or three starter. His command will need to continue advancing to get there, but his fastball and slider are strong enough to cause problems for hitters on both sides of the plate. If his changeup effectiveness jumps again, he’s a possible number one starter. I want to see him prove his gains are real in 2016 before grading him that high, but either way Reed was an excellent acquisition as an upper-level rotation prospect.

Stephenson and Reed are both 23 years old, and both will likely be wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform sometime in 2016. If that’s not a reason to watch the Reds this year, what is?

6. Jose Peraza and Jesse Winker
Let’s do this again…Baseball Prospectus 2016 on Peraza:

Peraza has been remarkably consistent during his career, hitting for a high average, refusing to walk, stealing bases and playing great defense at every stop. He more than held his own in Triple-A as a 21-year-old last season, eventually getting a cup of coffee in LA after being sent west in the Alex Wood/Hector Olivera trade. He came partway back east in this winter’s Todd Frazier deal, and his path to a job in the majors is clearer in an organization that he doesn’t share with Corey Seager and whatever baubles $300 million buys. Sure, Peraza’s one of those twice-traded prospects now, but when it’s the frenetic Braves and Dodgers sending him packing, you apply a discount factor. He’s more like a 1.4-times-traded prospect.

…and FanGraphs on Jesse Winker:

Bestowed with a great swing and one of the most advanced approaches in the minor leagues, Winker is ready to bring his impact offense to the Reds as soon as opening day. He likely starts the 2016 season in Triple-A, though a strong showing could propel him into the Reds outfield by July. He won’t offer much on the base-running or defensive sides, but his bat will make him an immensely valuable asset regardless.

Winker’s power numbers have lagged a bit as he has climbed the system ladder, but he is exactly the type of hitter you can expect to grow into greater power than he’s shown in the minors. He has a great swing path capable of lifting pitches to all fields, though it can get a bit level at times. His lower half and hands are very well sequenced, ensuring he’s able to hit balls hard without using a lot of effort in any one part of his swing….

Winker has already proven he can hit, and his ability to get on base bumps his grades up to account for his approach continuing to be successful in the big leagues. I see power development in his future, but even if he doesn’t reach his ceiling as a slugger, his hit tool will easily justify giving him a spot in the top half of the lineup.

I have quoted what others are saying about Winker, Peraza, Reed, and Stephenson to show you that this isn’t just me wearing Rose-colored glasses. These guys are legitimate prospects — four of the top five prospects in the organization, by most accounts (LHP Amir Garrett and SS Alex Blandino are in that mix too) — and they’re all likely to make their Cincinnati debuts in 2016.

Suarez.SG7. Eugenio Suarez
After hitting .280/.315/.446 with 13 home runs last year, Suarez will take over 3B this season from the departed Todd Frazier. Eugenio impressed as he filled in for Zack Cozart at SS, but with Cozart back, the Reds needed to find a spot for Suarez’s bat in the lineup.

He’s only 24, so there is still plenty of room for growth. I know the Reds have Cozart (if he doesn’t falter in his return from injury) and Brandon Phillips (if he continues to refuse to be traded) at SS/2B, and those guys are veterans who are going to be in the lineup on most days. Oh, but how I would love to see Suarez and Peraza manning those two positions, however. Those two stand a chance of being the middle infield on the next good Reds team (with the possibility of Blandino adding himself to that mix, too). Now’s a good time to see what they can do.

8. The return of Homer Bailey

Homer Bailey and his sexy splitter are expected to return from Tommy John surgery around May 1. It’s an aggressive timeline for his return, and time will tell whether he’s back to the Bailey we all knew and loved.

Let’s hope so, because Homer has four years remaining on his contract. He could be the veteran presence in the rotation of the next competitive Reds teams. A lot of questions about him will be answered this year. It’s worth monitoring.

9. Because, as our friend James Rapien has noted: if everything goes right, the Reds could be competitive.

I’m not ready to be that optimistic, but stranger things have happened, right?

10. It’s Reds baseball. This is what we do.
In the end, we’re going to watch because these are our Cincinnati Reds. Yes, they frustrate us sometimes, but we’re suckers. We’ll still be tuning in and going out to the ol’ ballyard. We’ll be listening to Marty, or watching Jim Day doing an awkward interview in the stands. Win or lose, this club is a part of your life. Why else would you be spending your time reading about the Reds here at RN every day? This is our twelfth season writing about the Reds at Redleg Nation — wow, 12! Can that be true? — and most of those seasons have been difficult ones. But here we are, and here you are: the Nation, collectively. We aren’t going anywhere, are we?

Baseball is supposed to be a pleasant diversion from the stresses of day-to-day life. No, the Reds may not win a pennant in 2016, but there are plenty of reasons to be interested in how this season plays out. Don’t get caught up in the wins and losses. The Reds are engaged in a fight to return to prominence. Enjoy the process.

Or try to, anyway. We’ll be suffering with you.

67 thoughts on “Ten reasons to be excited for Cincinnati Reds baseball in 2016!

  1. Thank you. A rare positive note on a site where the (often justified) outpourings of skeptics seem to dominate.

    Add one more positive: anticipation of the results of the Duvall/Schebler platoon in left. i rate it at least a Ludwick+

  2. Respectfully, I never cease to be amazed at how writers covering the Reds continue to try to put so much lipstick on such a repulsive pig, which I realize is redundant.

    The fact of the matter is that it is impossible for any self-respecting Reds’ fan to be confident about a team whose leaders are so incompetent.

    Retooling is one thing but the Reds have been horrible ever since Bryan Price was hired.

    By refusing to face reality at the break last year they failed to get max value for Chapman or Frazier and lost out on opportunities to trade Phillips and Bruce.

    If you want to do a tear-down, do a tear-down but don’t half-arse it. There’s simply no reason Votto, Bailey or Cozart should not have been traded by now. Moving Votto, would free up a ton of payroll, and Votto won’t get anything to hit this year because of the Single A talent surrounding him in the lineup like Schebler and Hamilton.

    Having lived in St. Louis since 2010 has been a real learning experience for me, and allowed me to see first-hand what a first-class organization that cares about fielding a consistent winner looks like versus an organization of amateurs who were given the keys to a Lamborghini and drove it into the river.

    • You can’t think of a reason why Homer Bailey and Zack Cozart haven’t been traded by now?

      • The argument that Bailey and Cozart have to return to form to get max value is tired and merit less.

        It certainly has merit for Meso, who has a much smaller body of work, but guys like Bailey and Cozart have played very well for quite some time so clubs know what they’re getting, but my broader point, is that management has no intention of trading Votto and has not hinted that it even attempted to suss out the market for Bailey or Cozart. In a tear down situation, that makes no sense. Votto has never demonstrated the Mickey Mantle power he had been the Reds’ botched his knee surgery and rehab, when there wasn’t a fastball he couldn’t get on top of. Unless you bat him leadoff, he’s a Lamborghini with a tarp in the garage, nice numbers, but it won’t translate to wins. There’s been absolutely no talk of moving Bailey and only a whiff of moving Cozart. That’s not a tear down, I’m sorry.

        • Please provide examples of veteran players who were traded coming off major injuries/surgeries before they had returned to prove they were healthy. It’s really delusional to think someone would trade for Bailey coming off *two* major elbow surgeries before seeing he was the same pitcher as before. Same with Cozart given the severity of his injury.

        • Hey, Bob. You sound like a guy I’d like to do deal with. What do you say we swap some assets!

    • C’mon this line-up will score some runs… the issue is they are starting off with one the worst rotations imaginable, Tim Mellville really the number 4??? and the bullpen outside of Cingrani and Hoover is patched together by cast-off that cannot be relied on

      • We are starting the season with 60 percent of what will be the rotation on the DL. The pitchers are young and still will have some growing pains but I just don’t get the lack of enthusiasm about this young staff. The second half last year was horrid but if you didn’t see flashes of things to make a fan happy you had to sleep through some of the games. They are YOUNG and COST CONTROLLED so the ugly outcomes this year will not be as hard to deal with because another year to work on their craft Iglesias, Disco, and Lamb to go with Bailey and whoever isn’t the 5th starter will give us 3 or 4 really good BP options or trade bait. I can’t say this year but as early as 17 I find a lot to like about this group of pitchers.

    • And if you’re gonna keep Votto, at least put him where it makes sense – leadoff, so he can at least set the table and maximize his ABs.

      This club could still be respectable this year if the Reds would do that, stick Winker or a veteran pick up in LF, let Stephenson close and let Cingrani be the #3 starter and hire a guy who understands what it takes to win, can manage pitchers and catchers, and is a respected former player and a hard-arse like Mike Matheny, which in the Reds case would ideally be Bench, who would undoubtedly jump at the opportunity, if asked.

      • When you consider Votto’s off-the-charts intensity, focus, and preparation, his proven consistency, his incredible rebound year in 2015, and the intangibles that he motivates, I cannot agree that the Reds should be looking to trade him…not this year, not ever.

        First of all, his 2015 salary was a steal compared to his performance and the intangibles he motivates. Just look at the posts on this topic and you can easily see that Votto draws fans. Now, consider that he’s only 32, and you begin to think that he just may post an above-0.900 OPS for many years to come…don’t see the OBP #s dropping anytime soon, and just watch one of his recent home runs and you realize this is a strong man.

        (Regarding his power figures: he had the 11th highest slugging percentage in the league in 2015. Based on that alone, there are nine other teams that would likely consider batting him 4th.)

        Second, fans love playoff teams and winning World Series, true. But, fans also love following their star player every day…especially one who challenged for the MVP just last year! Votto is clearly the Reds star player, and he should remain a Red.

        Finally, a consolation prize — he had the 2nd highest out-avoidance rate (OBP) in the MLB. This aspect of his approach continues to get better, regardless that he’s seven years beyond the expert’s projected peak of 25 yrs old. What these experts fail to account for is the value of wisdom, patience, experience, and just plain old ball playing savvy. Votto has all of these, and he has an intensity of preparation that will help him delay (defy even?!) the effects of aging for several more years to come.

        Bring on Opening Day!!!

        • I get Reds’ fans man crush on Votto and love his intensity, approach and skill set as much as anyone. But the same could be said of Chapman and Frazier and those guys are younger, and have arguably higher FLAR (Fan Love Above Replacement) #’s than Votto, and both were traded without hesitation. This club will not be pretend to contend again until 2018 at the earliest and more likely 19. I’d take the haul we’d get for Votto over the joy of seeing him play for teams that lose 100 per for the next three years any day if it significantly increases our chances of being the Astros by 18 or 19 and right now we simply don’t have the talent or a significant payroll cushion to compete by 18 or 19. But hey, Castellini, Williams and the fans seem to disagree so let’s see how it plays out when the club loses 200 games over the next two years and still isn’t ready for prime time by 18.

          And Steve your point about providing examples of players who’ve been traded coming off TJ surgery is a good one, but no one expects Bailey or Cozart to be traded based upon the expectation that they’d return to who they were but rather based upon the projections as to who they will be and if you Google top pitchers returning from TJ surgery you’ll find SI maps the details and Owen Watson at FanGraphs did a fine piece projecting how pitchers will fare in 16 who had TJ surgery in 15. This is a much more precise science these days based on the research and Williams has, to his credit, stockpiled sabermatricians to get the Reds in a far better place analytically relative to their competition. I’m not suggesting you had to get a deal done pre-opening day, I simply would’ve explored it. Were I the GM of a contender in need of a solid #3/#4 starter or a SS with a great glove and a good stick, I would definitely have given the Reds some good but not great prospects for Bailey and Cozart but I would’ve stood pat on Meso until he proved he still had the same stick. But the Reds don’t appear to have even explored trading Bailey or Cozart and they appear to have no intention of trading Bailey in 16. Again, that’s not a teardown.

          My view? Go Big (Red Machine) on the teardown or go home in 18 and 19.

      • When you consider Votto’s off-the-charts intensity, focus, and preparation, his proven consistency, his incredible rebound year in 2015, and the intangibles that he motivates, I cannot agree that the Reds should be looking to trade him…not this year, not ever.

        First of all, his 2015 salary was a steal compared to his performance and the intangibles he motivates. Just look at the posts on this topic and you can easily see that Votto draws fans. Now, consider that he’s only 32, and you begin to think that he just may post an above-0.900 OPS for many years to come…don’t see the OBP #s dropping anytime soon, and just watch one of his recent home runs and you realize this is a strong man.

        (Regarding his power figures: he had the 11th highest slugging percentage in the league in 2015. Based on that alone, there are nine other teams that would likely consider batting him 4th.)

        Second, fans love playoff teams and winning World Series, true. But, fans also love following their star player every day…especially one who challenged for the MVP just last year! Votto is clearly the Reds star player, and he should remain a Red.

        Finally, a consolation prize — he had the 2nd highest out-avoidance rate (OBP) in the MLB. This aspect of his approach continues to get better, regardless that he’s seven years beyond the expert’s projected peak of 25 yrs old. What these experts fail to account for is the value of wisdom, patience, experience, and just plain old ball playing savvy. Votto has all of these, and he has an intensity of preparation that will help him delay (defy even?!) the effects of aging for several more years to come.

        Bring on Opening Day!!!

    • There were no opportunities to trade Phillips, he can’t be traded without agreeing and he’s been clear that he’s not willing to do that without a lot of compensation. I do agree that Jocketty has absolutely botched the rebuild (by delaying it for a year longer than they should have), but it’s also possible that was ownership…? Who knows.

      At this point it is what it is, and you have to hope that Williams is a better GM than Jocketty.

      Though I do disagree with Chad on one point, I don’t think the drafting has been that good under Jocketty, the good years were all based on the work of the GMs that preceded him.

      • There were two potential trades for Phillips, but the Reds and/or their trade partners wouldn’t pony up whatever additional compensation or extension Phillips wanted. We don’t know what he asked for but we do know it’s common practice in MLB for clubs to compensate 5/10 players to waive no-trade
        rights. Personally, I’m glad Phillips vetoed the deals. I’d much rather see Phillips at SS than Peraza for the same reasons fans don’t what to see Votto traded.

    • Regarding bad leadership… Dayton Moore and Ned Yost are bad (in my humble opinion) and the KC Royals just won the World Series. It might make things more difficult, but good players can trump bad leadership. Oh, and outperforming your BaseRuns estimates by like 10 wins.

    • I assume that you consider calling a pig repulsive to be redundant, and conclude from this that you know little about pigs.

      • Point taken. As a life-long animal lover I sincerely apologize to Bovine Nation. 😎

        • Hey, brother, you sure got yer dander up today–hope you’re getting paid by the word… PORCINE Nation is the direct offendee of yer slam, but I suspect Bovine Nation has had enough, too. Wondering if–“as a life-long animal lover”–if you’re also a vegetarian (Jess Wundrin).

          The Redlegs clearly are in transition, but I disagree that that should entail full capitulation. Trading Joey Votto seems to suggest great rewards, but really–for whom would you trade him with any sense of return? Somebody’s gold-plated, sure-thing first rounder (or two)? Four or five journeymen? Joey Votto ALREADY IS JOEY VOTTO, and on evidence of his performance since the All-Star game (and continuing through a slugging .442 spring), the possibility exists that we honestly haven’t seen his peak performance.

          Even if the Reds hover under .500 for a couple of years, is it so different than the Bosox of Ted Williams?. Sure, everybody wants a first place team, but over a long summer baseball season, all I really want is to be competitive and entertaining. Playoffs are fine, but they are a chimera and a crap-shoot. Been a Reds fan since 1965, and my favorite season was ’99. Go figure.

          I think the Reds will score a ton of runs if healthy, and they also should be defensively sound. Kinda like a Crosley Field team of the late ’50s.

          Pitching will be rugged, but we have upside arms. My biggest wish: try to sign Jay Bruce (something like $65 M for 5 years). He’s dirt-cheap now, loyal, a good all-around fielder and baserunner and if you look around, corner-outfielders of his stripe are not available.

          I may be an idiot, but I think he’ll not only recover, but bump his game up.

  3. I will watch Reds baseball for reason number 1 this year. That will be my biggest joy this season, watching Joey Votto bat. I will also be watching Mesoraco. Would love to see Cozart come close to what he started as last year.

    What I hope for most out of this season is a Brennaman retirement from Radio and a Brennaman dismissal from TV and Radio. If that happens this season will be a success.

    • Marty will retire when he retires but Thom isn’t going anywhere. It is what it is. That’s why I end up listening to music most the time as I watch the game with the sound off.

  4. Right on Chad! Life, stress, work and stress, sometimes family and stress, stress and stress, can be a real bummer. Baseball- oh, what a marvelous sanctuary; the last place where I want to feel gloom and doom. Let’s go, baby!

    • “stress and stress” … That one made me de-stress a little. Thank you.

  5. I will watch, and cheer, and enjoy. Is it more fun when the Reds are a playoff contender? Of course. But for those who think a World Series ring is the only thing that matters, I say different. It should always be the goal but if that’s the only source of enjoyment then you’re destined for disappointment. Your team, every fan’s team, wins the Series on average once every thirty years. Think about that. But your favorite team, our favorite team, plays Major League Baseball 162 times a summer. Relax. Enjoy. Relish the talent, the development, the unexpected, the reliably wonderful (looking at you Joey Votto). It’s almost opening day and I’m as excited as I am every year. Thank you for a little optimism Chad. Can’t wait for Reds baseball.

    • Very Well said !… and I can not wait for Monday afternoon either !!! “Its a grand game ” – Ty Cobb

    • I just love this post; thanks, CFD! This, to me, is the whole point and in many less words than I’d use.
      For those who root only to win and dominate, I quote the mighty Mr. T and say “I pity the fool!”
      Baseball is great because it is (almost) daily. It’s a pastime and it is a companion. If you can get near-daily fulfillment from your summer of fandom, anything the playoffs can deliver is a bonus. Such bonuses seem unlikely this year, but I will say right now that–in light of being in a five-team division in which three teams won 97 or more games last year, we’ve got our work cut out for us. So look to 70-80 wins as an indicator that we’re the next thing smokin’….

  6. About 72 hours to go. It will be an interesting season. The first half will be painful at times. But the second half is really shaping up to be like August and September of 2009 and riding that momentum into the next season.
    The Reds got a new starting pitcher about an hour ago. That will help out even more in the early weeks of the season. He could also become a good flip candidate come late July. Reds picked up Dan Straily off the waiver wire. Good pick up considering the rotation question marks on health issues.

  7. Good stuff, Chad!

    I’m mostly looking forward to Suarez and Mesoraco. We know Votto is going to be Votto, but Suarez and Mesoraco are the key to competing in 2017/2018/2019, in my opinion.

    IS IT MONDAY YET?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!111!!!!?!!11one!!?!

  8. In my opinion the Reds dumped all our pitching and left the bulk of our hitting lineup intact. Our starting pitching helds it’s own, but our hitting was anemic at best. Now we have a young starting staff, no bullpen, and the same hitting lineup. How is that improving anything???

    • How are they trying to improve things? Well they couldn’t afford Cueto for one and Leake can be replaced with younger and cheaper. I think they’ll eventually put together a very good rotation out of Raisel, Disco, Reed, Lorenzen, Homer, Lamb, and Stephenson. They tried to move BP and Bruce but they couldn’t. Give it some time!!

    • This isn’t supposed to be an improvement. The Reds are rebuilding and hope to be competitive in 2018 at the latest.

  9. Nice article Chad.

    I think you hit the nail on the head–focus on individual players. I’m trying something new this year. I’m going to watch Reds games when I can, read articles when I can, but I’m goings to do so casually. I will be shocked if the Reds win more than 60 games this year so for me it all about watching what Votto can do, if Mes can come back, if Stephenson and Winker can hang when they get called up.

    I’ll admit it will be nice not worrying when the Cardinals sweep another series from someone. The goal is a stress-free summer.

  10. Great article Chad for those of us who are true baseball fans. I am going to watch the Reds win or lose. I will probably suffer through each loss, but knowing they are not going to be great this year will temper it some. Excited to watch some of the same things you are particularly the young pitchers led by Iglesias on Opening Day. I am not a UVA but live in Charlottesville. I understand how UVA fans feel.

  11. Does anyone think Chris Denorfia would be a good plug-and-play for LF? Probably get him on the cheap and would seem like an upgrade over the options we’ve got now.

    I do think, by the way, the Reds are moving in the right direction, I just hate losing and while the ‘Stros, Cubs and Royals prove that tanking can work, I just feel like the team wants it both ways, and needs to pick it’s poison.

  12. Well – that was certainly a valiant effort to put a positive spin on what is going to be a 90 plus loss season.

    The only thing I can think to look forward too about the start of the 2016 season is that it puts us that much closer to the end of the 2016 season and – hopefully – SOME hope in 2017 or 2018.

  13. As always, I’m looking forward to baseball season. I’ll be watching games all day Sunday (or that’s the plan) and am off Monday to watch 12+ hours of baseball. My Reds will be bad but they are my team. My 2nd team (O’s) isn’t filling me with warm fuzzies either but will cheer them on as well. Chad’s put together a pretty nice list and number 10 rings most strongly with me. In fact, I’d add “It’s baseball after all, the game we love.”

  14. #10 suits me just fine. And thank you for this excellent blog. It should be an interesting season.

  15. Been a fan since Big Klu, Gus, Wally and Temple. I see plenty to watch and root for. Not being delusional, I know it will be a tough season.But, Joey, Mes, Suarez, Duvall Iglesias, give me hope for the future. Patience can be hard. But let’s get behing the boys and enjoy another year of Reds baseball. Can you imagine what life would be without them?

  16. I’m not an optimist either. I’m still steamed that we traded away our stars for unproven so-called prospects because Lord knows if these kids will realize their full potential and gel into a champion. If this group don’t win a championship, then what was the point. I won’t be a fan of the kids we got in return for our veteran stars because I believe the previous group could still win if things had been handled differently. I understand that we couldn’t afford some of them but there were some more that we could’ve probably kept a little longer (Leake, Frazier). I just don’t like any decisions this club has made since we let Baker go and hired the then inexperienced Price as our manager (are you freakin kidding me!!! From Baker to Price!!!!), and I’m still convinced Price doesn’t entirely know how to manage. If you don’t believe me then please refer to the hiring of Piniella. They basically brought him in to TRY and make Price a better manager. If a manager’s organization brings in someone to help him be a better manager, he shouldn’t be managing in the first place. But I think the Reds (Jocketty) are so desperate to prove that they made the right move in hiring Price that they brought in Piniella (a move I also believe is in part to ingratiate themselves in the eyes of those of us who don’t want Price as our mgr. Why else bring in the last mgr to lead the Reds to a World Title).IF, this group does win us a championship then I’ll be happy that the city of Cincinnati has another world championship, but I still won’t be a fan of these kids. Votto and Phillips will be the last ones I’ll be a fan of (hopefully they’ll retire as Reds).

  17. Been following the Reds in a far more detached manner than I have in the past 5 years. Watching individual player performance/development should be interesting.

    Offense should be fine if few people get hurt. Starting pitching will be better than people think.

    But that bullpen… This is the best they could do? It’s almost like MGMT wants leads/ties to get blown up in the late innings (wink wink)

    Which leads back to player development. I really don’t have much faith that the folks in charge will be responsible stewards of the young players’ growth. Example #1 is Peraza. If he’s going to be on the ML roster, he should be playing every day. I don’t buy that his positional flexibility will give him opportunities around the diamond, because I think Price and co. won’t stay the course on that.

    And if they were committed to developing young players, then Jordan Pacheo and his weak bat wouldn’t be on the team.

  18. Bench Hamilton. Start Peraza in CF. Take the better hitter between Schleber and Cave, start him platooning with Duvall in LF. I would take that starting 8.

    On the bench, you have Hamilton and the “loser” between Schleber and Cave. You have Pacheco and Dejesus for the IF. And, Barnhart behind the plate. I will take the bench.

    The pen is always a gamble, for most every team. The thing is, so is this starting rotation. And, I don’t like the idea of 5 of 6 players we have injured are starting pitchers right now. It tends for me to think back to 2011 when we were looking into AA for any pitcher who could eat some innings. Only other player injured is Yorman, and I believe we should let him go, anyhow. He’s produced nothing at any level.

    The pitching is the key to the team, I believe. If they can come through, I believe we have enough offense to surprise some people, provided Hamilton comes off the bench. But, the pitching can’t come through if they play the 2011 injury game.

    That’s where I believe Hamilton should be, imo. Bottom line, this team is better the less that Hamilton bats. How would I use him? In situations like but not limited to:

    – we get a man on in the late innings and want to get a quick run for whatever reason. We put Hamilton in to pinch run.

    – After our turn AB in the late innings, if we have a lead to protect, put Hamilton in as the defensive replacement.

    – If we are getting blasted or blasting someone else, we put Hamilton in to get some more playing time.

  19. This team is still half-way through re-building. Several big trades could come before the July deadline, IF the Reds are really (likely) out of it (Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Zach Cozart, to name the expected ones).
    And also, the pitching staff on Opening Day will be a lot different come June and July, when Homer Bailey, Tony Desclafani and John Lamb come back, not to mention Mike Lorenzen. Cody Reed and/or Robert Stephenson could appear after June 1 if one of them is setting the International League on its ear.
    The Reds have some great opportunities in the upcoming amateur draft to increase the talent in their system. The draft should be exciting this year, seeing which way they go, for ready college talent or longer term high school talent.

    2016 will be hard to watch sometimes, but the Reds are not standing still or going backwards like they were in 2014 and 2015. Here’s hoping that Raisel Iglesias can pitch a lot of games, and his shoulder stays strong. Here’s hoping that Lamb, Bailey and Lorenzen come back strong in 6-8 weeks. Here’s hoping that the bullpen doesn’t explode and lose a lot of games (because right now it sorta stinks).

    This should be an exciting year, just not one where the team is competitive. We’ll see new players struggle, and see some older players leave (sniff). The Reds team that emerges in 2017 will be the one that will be foretell of future winning and maybe championship seasons.

  20. Your statement is half true. And, I bet upon further review you find the truly good players were not procured by Sir Walter.

    “The Reds have done a good job drafting and developing players over the last ten years, and for whatever criticism Jocketty deserves, you must concede that he’s gotten good value for the Reds in trades.” Must concede, you’re kidding, right?

  21. Your love for your fellow UVA alum is evident. Personally, I believe he has the position because his daddy is an owner; and, as for his acknowledgement of analytics, I believe that’s all it is…until this front office proves otherwise.

    Yes, you can put me in the skeptics camp. I believe it will be at least 10 long years before this franchise tastes winning again.

  22. Those few still thinking they’ll lose 100 games, forget it. The reasons for probably losing between 88-93 are the Braves, Phillies, Padres, Rockies and Brewers…and if Stanton gets hurt again, the Marlins. Too many crappy teams all vying for 90-98 losses will keep the loss totals down for all. I also think the Reds are the best current version of the “crappy 6” which includes the Braves, Phillies, Padres, Rockies and Brewers. The injured rotation will make April a challenge, but assuming some return to health, the Reds will likely end up with the best record of the “crappy 6”, so less than 90 losses is doable and it not shock me if they approached .500 record. I can’t see a wildcard, barring two or more meltdowns (injuries or just bad baseball) from the likes of the Mets, Nationals, Cards, Cubs, Pirates, Giants or Dodgers. Add in the D-backs and Marlins as potential wild-card threats and that’s too many teams to jump to find a wild-card spot, unless nearly everything goes right for the Reds while second half rookies go nuts…highly unlikely.

  23. My hopes for 2016 is to be pleasantly surprised, or even shocked, by a couple of prospects growing quickly into promising MLB starting players. A Cody Reed here, a Jesse Winker there…or maybe some Lamb or Peraza or Schebler or ??? Just something to be giddy about for 2017 spring.

    It would be nice to see Bruce REALLY using opposite field on outside pitches, as the stories of working with Barry Larkin have suggested. I’d love to say something nice about Bruce for the first time in three years. At the very least, he could at least increase his trade value so there is a bidding war at the trade deadline for a LH power bat that is fine in the field. Maybe, for once, we’ll nab a top rated prospect in a trade?

  24. However, I am looking forward to this season. My expectations for something like division title are minimal if any. I would expect a season like what we should have been doing during Hamilton’s first season, just let the youngster’s get playing time. But, then, they overachieved. Then, everyone started yelling for making a trade. We need to let these youngsters get playing time.

    However, I don’t believe we shouldn’t still set the team up to win. As in, I still believe our best setup to win would have Peraza in CF and Hamilton on the bench, if not in the minors to work on his hitting.

    I guess the Reds don’t have that much confidence themselves in their pitching, bringing in these other guys. Not necessarily unexpected “if” the youngsters weren’t performing. And, having so many on the DL, that would mean they aren’t performing. My question, though, is once all of these arms on the DL start getting better, who goes where? I could even see the youngsters going to the minors first. But, then, if they perform well enough to be up here, who goes down or out? I just hope they set the ones they are bringing in for a move, also.

  25. They got rid of everyone except the one one they needed to the so called manager who couldn’t win if he had the Cubs talent

    • Given that he’s never had anything that approaches the Cubs talent, then how could you possibly make that determination?

  26. So I agree completely with misconcepcion … all most of us really want is for the team to be entertaining and competitive … on that hopefully we can all agree … including porcines and bovines … but here’s the thing …

    Let’s assume the Reds lose 100 games a year … on average … give or take 10 wins for the next two years … is that competitive? I get … and I mean this sincerely … that for a lot of folks … a game at the ballpark is fun simply as a break from the stress of life to enjoy the ballpark, hot dogs, the game experience with the family and it really doesn’t matter if the Reds win or where are in the standings or any of that as long as the team on the field has remarkable talents and great guys like Votto to enjoy and the Reds play a competitive game … win or loss.

    But for those of us who have been life-long fans, it’s hard to have it both ways with the rebuild … hanging onto to guys like Votto when trading him would fetch a bunch of great prospects to accelerate the rebuild.

    But you guys have convinced me that we can have it both ways and like everyone else I’m totally stoked for the Opening Day so I’ll shut up and leave it to the experts managing the club to figure it and just enjoy watching it all play out and be optimistic about the future and enjoy watching the team in the meantime … for the simple love of the game.

    Thanks for putting things in perspective. Go Reds!!!

    • Obviously, losing 100 games isn’t competitive…..but losing 85 games or even 75 games isn’t really competitive ether. If you can’t win, be as bad as possible, so you can be good as soon as possible.

      I don’t think trading Votto, and receiving a bunch of great prospects is a given. That isn’t an insult towards him….there just aren’t many teams in the market for a 20 million per year first baseman who is north of 30…and those that are, are likely not teams that he would agree to be traded to anyway. A players trade value isn’t always in line with his production value.

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