We asked the writing staff to offer up to 100 words in answer to the question: What would you consider a successful season for the 2016 Cincinnati Reds? They were told they could frame their answers in terms of wins and losses or otherwise. Please add your own answers in the comments section.
Here’s what the writers wrote:
Taylor Ballinger: A World Series win. J/K. I want to see players developing. The Reds have some solid young pieces and by the end of the year I want to see those guys looking ready to compete at a high level in 2017. I want to see a healthy Votto, Mesoraco, and Homer. I want to see Jay Bruce put last season behind him and return to form. And I want to see fewer bunts (except when they’re used to beat the shift). If all (or most) of those things happen, it will have been a successful season in my eyes.
Art Bidwell: Don’t believe the numbers, believe in the evolving foundation. When there are expectations you are measured by your statistics, for Cincinnati this year there is no such expectancies. The burden of winning is officially off the Reds backs. No one expects it or even demands it. A full facelift and tummy tuck needs time to heal. Success should be measured through the development of the kids; we need to be left assured that we’re moving in the right direction. It’s easy to be excited for this progress toil in April; it will be less thrilling in August.
Rob Carpenter: We won’t be able to judge whether or not the 2016 season was successful for a few years. That’s because the most important thing this summer is how the Reds approach the Rule 4 draft in June and the International signing period that begins in July. The Reds have the largest draft bonus pool ($13,923,700) in all of baseball, an amount that gives the club an opportunity to infuse the organization with a dramatic amount of talent. A successful draft combined with a few hits in the international market could set up the franchise for a decade.
Nick Carrington: The Reds need to do several things to have a successful season: (1) determine which young pitchers are starters and which are relievers, (2) continue to acquire young talent, and (3) develop their young players effectively. The Reds should seek to narrow down their extensive list of starting candidates, though that may extend into next season. Number two will likely happen through trades, and the Reds must focus if at all possible on position players. Finally, young players like Jesse Winker, Jose Peraza, and Eugenio Suarez (and others) need to develop into everyday players or better.
Jeremy Conley: I don’t expect the Reds to be relevant this year, so the success of the season doesn’t hang on a win total for me (though I’d like to see it over 62 for sure). At this point it’s all about changing the direction of the franchise. Last year was a low point in terms of strategy, managerial composure, and smart baseball generally. If the Reds can get those things going in the right direction, I think they have the farm system to be good in not-too-long. Otherwise, even good prospects will just lead to more of the same.
Tom Diesman: It will be a successful season for the Reds if they are able to make timely evaluations of their young prospects and identify the roles they will eventually fill for the Reds and develop them for those roles. Determine which of the current young starters to convert over to the bullpen and do it. Identify the combination of prospects that will eventually play SS, 2B, 3B, LF, CF, and RF then ensure that they are focusing on developing for those positions. Then begin clearing the path for them all to play once they are ready for the majors.
Nick Doran: The season will be a success if: The core of raw, young prospects adjusts successfully to the major leagues. Trades of Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips net more good young players. Homer Bailey recovers fully from TJ surgery. The team gets stronger as the season progresses, proving that 2015 was the bottom and that we are now on the upswing toward another period of contention in 2017 and beyond.
Chad Dotson: By the end of 2016, we’ll have a pretty good idea whether this “rebooting” process is going to be lengthy. Regardless of the team’s record, I’ll consider this a successful season if we see real progress (developmentally) from this group of exciting young hurlers: Stephenson, Reed, Finnegan, DeSclafani, Lamb, Garrett, Lorenzen, et al. Then, if some of the young position players — Winker, Reed, Suarez, Blandino — can take a big step forward as well, the Reds will be on pretty firm footing for the next few seasons. If all (or most of) that happens, the Reds could compete sooner rather than later.
Grant Freking: Whether the Reds lose 86 or 96 games is unimportant; 2016 is about development and the answering key questions by the regular-season finale on Oct. 2. Are Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Michael Lorenzen better suited for the rotation or the bullpen? Is Billy Hamilton is an everyday player or a bench gimmick? Can the Reds sort out a disheveled outfield depth chart enough to see what they have in Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Yorman Rodriguez, Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker? Key decisions need to be made so the Reds can pursue respectability in 2017 and contention in 2018.
Jeff Gangloff: 2016 is all about progress. The success of this season isn’t determined by the number of wins or losses that the Reds have, but by the overall progress and improvement by the young players on this team. If the young core of the 2016 Reds can take strides in the development of their game and provide a confidence and stability for the future, then I would call this season a success.
Chris Garber: The 2016 season will be a success if they can keep fans’ interest. I was a young, but very experienced Reds fan in 1982. Experienced enough to know that losing George Foster, Ken Griffey, Dave Collins, and Ray Knight wasn’t good. But young enough to believe the team when they told me that Cesar Cedeno, Paul Householder, and Clint Hurdle would be a great young outfield. The 1982 Reds (61-101) almost broke me, but I took solace where I could – mostly in the form of Eddie Milner and Brad “The Animal” Lesley. Again, I was too young to realize that they were too old and limited to be real prospects, but they were something fun to grasp onto, in a season that sorely needed it. Maybe Eugenio Suarez breaks out this year. Or maybe it’s Jose Peraza, when he gets here. I just hope it’s something.
Wes Jenkins: The success of this Reds season depends entirely on how much trade value the old guard can generate before July. Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, Zack Cozart, and even Brandon Phillips: if each of them can be productive enough for a contending team to send a close-to-the-bigs prospect in return, then the season is a rousing success. The Reds right now are in the warming oven, waiting patiently for their farm system to graduate while playing a bevy of four-A players. If we can just buttress those new guys coming up, 2016 will be forgettable, but worth every pitch.
Patrick Jeter: This season will be a success if the Reds gain useful information regarding what needs to be done to compete in 2017 and beyond. Decisions need to be geared towards maximizing the chances of competing in 2017 and beyond. This means getting young position players plenty of chances in varying situations to aid evaluations. This means giving plenty of starts to young pitchers. This means not rushing Homer Bailey. This means, perhaps, calling up guys earlier than normal to see if they might be a contributor in 2017. This mean focusing not on winning, but on gathering information.
Nick Kirby: The success of the 2016 Reds will likely not be determined by win and losses. It will be determined on the development of their young talent. My hope is that by the end of the season we will have a better understanding of which players will be a part of the next contending Reds team. Then next off-season the Reds can begin to start filling the holes to build a contender again.
Matt Korte: I can’t believe I am saying this, but this season, wins are not important to me. I want to see Mesoraco, Bailey and Cozart return to health. I want to see the Reds find a way to trade Bruce and BP for young, controllable talent. I want to see Peraza, Winker, Stephenson and Reed make positive contributions. For me, 2016 is about showing the fans that the Reds have a plan to be competitive in 2017. I can punt on the record this year as long as I can see positive growth in the young core.
Mike Maffie: For me, 2016 is about Jose Peraza. The Reds went through serious trading contortions, stringing together a 3-team trade involving Frazier after the Chapman allegations broke, to acquire the young second baseman from the Dodgers. Given the resources required to acquire him, Peraza will either be a centerpiece of the next Reds playoff team or evidence that the GM apple needed to fall further from the organizational tree.
Kevin Michell: A successful 2016 will be hard to measure conventionally. It will require the youngsters getting a healthy dose of experience without sacrificing cost-controlled years. That should be the top objective. Little things could end up sweetening the sour: Joey posting numbers like last season’s. Homer coming back from Tommy John with a vengeance. Mesoraco showing no lingering signs of his hip impingement and clobbering the ball once again. Really, a successful 2016 comes down to whether or not we feel like this team has a legitimate shot next season by the time we reach September.
John Ring: Expectations this year? Very low. Less than 100 losses is good for 2016. What I expect from the Reds “brain trust” this season? First, establish a corps of starting pitchers to compete in baseball’s toughest Division in 2017. Second, identify and promote/trade to the Reds 3-4 hard throwing, aggressive relief pitchers without “roles”. Put them in, let them pitch. Last, sign or trade for a slugger. A hitter who puts the fear in the hearts of a pitching staff and knocks in runs. Yes, getting on base is important. And knocking them in is important too.
Joe Shaw: If the Reds get a clearer picture of their starting rotation, with Iglesias, Disco, and Bailey all healthy…If Votto can Votto with us and BP can BP with someone else…If Bruce stops streaking…If Mes finds some pop with his fancy new hip…If the front office takes even a passing interest in analytics…If Billy gets on base. Not a lot, just some…If all that happens, it will be a successful season…If St Louis gets swallowed by a gigantic sinkhole, that would be nice, too.