Yesterday marked the summer solstice. As the first day of summer, it’s also the longest day of the year in terms of sunshine.

In cruel irony, Major League Baseball’s schedule-makers gave the Reds and their fans an off day, leaving us way too much daylight with nothing to do but contemplate the first half of the 2016 baseball season. Whatever the state of the planet’s rotational axis may imply, the word sunny doesn’t really fit. When it comes to the Reds record, best advised not to look directly at it. Staring at 27-43 could jeopardize one’s health.

It has been a long, painful three months bearing witness to horrifying baseball – the historically awful bullpen, the no-name starting rotation, the inconsistent swing-and-miss offense, the sketchy base running and porous-at-times defense. On top of that, Reds fans have been treated to an exquisite torture administered by service time rules.

These have been dark days. Filled with enough despair to make you lose faith in the Rebuild Binder; to make you wonder if its promise would prove as out of reach as tickets to Hamilton.

Stewing over the last three months sure made yesterday feel like the longest day.

But after yesterday’s sun finally set, we were treated to a spectacular full moon – the first time one has fallen on the summer solstice since 1948. And if you tilted your head just right … and squinted a little … you could see in its reflected light a ray of hope illuminating what might be a brighter future for the Reds.

Relief for our misery will arrive in equal parts recovery and reboot.

Key players are returning to health. Anthony DeSclafani is back in the rotation. Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias will join the club as relievers this weekend. Still to come: Homer Bailey and next year, Devin Mesoraco.

The first wave of rebuilding has landed. The trio of left-handed starters that faced the Houston Astros last weekend is the product of it. As is the surprising Adam Duvall, who leads the National League in hitting for power.

Soon, Robert Stephenson will join the rotation. The Reds will have regular playing time for Jose Peraza after they trade Zack Cozart. When Jesse Winker’s wrist allows, he’ll play the outfield every night once the Reds move Jay Bruce.

To be sure, even after all those players arrive, serious deficiencies and playing time issues remain. Not every player will develop or age as we hope. Crucial decisions and moves are yet to be made. The front office’s slideshow should be about half over.

But unlike times when following rebuilding teams becomes a dreadful slog – 2015, anyone? – this solstice season should prove enjoyable. The Reds won’t be as good after they trade Cozart and Bruce, but they’ll be riveting. Instead of being unbearable to watch, it will be hard to look away as the young pitchers develop and new position players fit together and gain experience.

These boys of summer will be fascinating.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 64 Comments

  1. You don’t know for sure they will trade cozart this year. Winkler is not ready to play every day yet!

    • I think his name is Winker, FWIW. But, barring a setback in recovery from his current injury, he is capable and ready to play everyday.

    • Yeah, he’s pretty much been 15 to 20% better than average at AAA. If you look back at every player who fits that profile, they’re basically league average hitters right away, which would make Winker the 5th best hitter on this team right now behind Bruce, Duvall, Votto, and Cozart.

      Of course, he COULD bomb and be terrible… or he could be the next Joey Votto. That’s the beauty of baseball.

      • If Winker could up his slugging percentage, he could be Joey Votto. Same OBP in their first year at Louisville, but Winker is still a year younger.

    • How do you know he’s not ready to play yet if you don’t even know what his name actually is…

  2. From your lips to God’s ears, Steve. I’m all in for fresh new hope after these first 3 months.

    Say, wasn’t it kind of cloudy here in Cincy last evening? That probably can’t mean anything in your metaphor, can it?

  3. Get those Foster Grants on to watch the second half.
    One thing I would like to mention about Saturday’s game and Cody Reed. Reed was pitching in the 5th inning. Houston’s Marwin Gonzales was up with 2 outs. Gonzales had smoked two balls off of Reed in his 2 earlier AB’s, one for a HR. Reed fell behind 3-0. Instead of just walking him, Reed bared down. Reed struck out Gonzales on 4 pitches. The strike out pitch was a beautiful slider by Reed. The AB pitching-wise, was a thing of beauty. That was the first stand up and shout “Yes” moment in the game. The second came on Duvall’s 9th inning HR.
    Even if a couple of trades occur, the second half of this season will be fun to watch.
    Get those shades handy. The future is bright.

  4. I love the optimism in this piece. I have serious concerns about Winker’s wrist. I know the MRI apparently didn’t reveal anything horrendous but sometimes it just doesn’t show up there. It’s the same wrist. Maybe it’s not a big deal but anytime I hear the phrase “has trouble holding a bat”, I get pretty concerned. I have hope that Winker will be ready to play again in 2-3 weeks and that the wrist won’t trouble him further into next year.

    I’m excited about the potential as far as the pitching is concerned. There is at least 1 pitcher with ace potential, a couple more with #2 potential, and several who could be middle of the rotation type arms. How the rotation shakes out will allow a few of the ‘failed’ starters to strengthen the pen.

    I have concerns about position players and how guys like Peraza will really hit in MLB but you just never know until you give a guy a couple years to try.

    • I share some of your concerns regarding his wrist injury but I’d want to know the nature and extent of the injury before I’d consider it a serious problem right now.

      From a timing standpoint, there’s no need to bring him up until they move Bruce (presumably around the trade deadline), which hopefully gives him time to recover.

  5. I admire that they didn’t panic and make dumb moves to address a short term problem with the bullpen. Trading the .198 hitting Frazier is looking better and better. Rookie Davis is making the Chapman trade look better. Duvall for Leake….not bad. The trio of cheap pitchers for Cueto….not bad. I admire that they took the heat and stuck with the plan.

    Assuming Cozart and Bruce are leaving, I wonder if they go all in and move Votto. The Blue Jays are .5 out of the wild card and have a lot of salaries dropping off the books over the next couple of years. In Cincinnati, Votto is a guy that walks too much and doesn’t care as much as Pete Rose. In Toronto, he’s Griffey, Rose and Larkin. A rebuilding team can add a lot of pieces with 25 million per year in free cash.

    • The clock is running on the leading edge of their mostly proven pitching. Moving Votto would push them back several years unless some proven MLB talent came back in return. I think this makes it iffy.

      Also we can’t begin to know what sort of financial hoops there would be on the Toronto end to get worked through, i.e. Canadian currency versus US currency, taxes et al. to deliver the same bottom line value to Votto. And I believe Votto has a full US green card; he might not want to forfeit that if he has any interest in becoming a US citizen at some point in time.

      • Votto also has a full no-trade clause and said he’d exercise it if the Reds tried to trade him. Sure, he could probably be convinced to change his mind, especially for Toronto but I don’t see this happening.

        • No question that Votto is in charge of if he goes-where he goes. I wouldn’t bet the mortgage money that a trade will occur, but I wouldn’t be shocked…especially with Toronto

        • Toronto might be the only place he’d approve that would also want him.

          I’m sure if he was traded to the Cubs for some reason (maybe Rizzo gets hurt) he’d accept that, seeing a good opportunity for a championship. After all, that’s why players play the game… to win.

  6. With what Schebler is doing in Louisville Winker could end up being Wally Pipped by Schebler.

    • Schebler is a guy I’ve been high on ever since the Reds acquired him. Athletic guys with plus bat speed don’t always pan out, but when they do it’s very fun.

      His stint in the majors was marred by one major issue… contact. If he can work on making better contact in AAA, I think he has a future in the bigs.

      I think it is unlikely he’ll Wally Pipp Winker… but it wouldn’t be bad to have him waiting in the wings in case Duvall gets traded or stops being able to homer (unlikely).

    • I like Scotty Scheb’s and think he has a future as at least a decent bench player but as nice as the run he has been on, it is only over 18 games. He struggled when he was first sent down. I’d like to see this play out over a lot longer period of time before I’m buying into some sort of transformation.

      • 39 152 18 47 86 10 4 7 25 9 1 32 0 0 .309 .352 .566 .917

        This is Schebler stat line above for AAA notice 39 games 152 AB 7 HR 25 rbi’s .917ops

        He’s working it out. When you don’t get regular at bats it’s hard to perform a few times a week. When Bruce is traded play Schebler often. Give Winker time to heal and have him be a late season call up.

        • I certainly hope so. But again, it’s been over a short period of time. 152 at bats is not a big enough sample to definitively say he has things worked out. And he did struggle the first couple of weeks after he was sent down. Lately, he’s been on a tear.

          I tend to agree that a player of his age should be given the presumption that he can continue to improve and that the only way to do so is with regular playing time. He wasn’t going to get that on the MLB club. With the Winker injury, he may have an opportunity again if Bruce gets traded.

  7. The final act of bloodletting (trading Cozart and Bruce) will be where the franchise officially turns the corner. If it were me, I’d package them together to a contender for one truly great position prospect, preferably a middle infielder. I know, easier said than done, but that’s the initial ask. I’d also lean hard on Phillips about his no-trade and eat some salary to move him. He’ll be the elephant in the room after the trade deadline. We know he won’t go quietly either in trade or in terms of accepting a backup role, so we might as well rip the Band-Aid off quickly if possible.

    • With BP, I’d just release him and take the PR lumps. What team is going to want to waste breath negotiating with the Reds about a Phillips trade? He’s shown that he’s going to exercise his 10/5 rights and it will be nixed. With their minor league depth, the Reds are going to start running into roster problems anyway. Let him go (please).

      • They will never do it but simple solution is to just bench him. His ego couldn’t take it and he would be willing to accept a trade. Might as well try and get a low level prospect or two for him vs. just releasing him. Sometimes low level prospects become mid- level/useful players.

  8. A offence of Winker,Duvall,Hamilton,Peraza,Suarez,Phillips,Votto and Mesoraco is no where close to a winning club. Will they trade a pitcher or sign a mid tier free agent or just stay status quo with the offence next season?

    • Next season they probably don’t make any big moves. They need to focus on figuring out who can really play. The true target was always 2018, in my opinion.

      2018 has a good free agent class (from what I recall), so I think the Reds will look to add a mid-tier FA in 2018 once they figure out what is their biggest hole to plug.

    • Last year the Cardinals scored 6 more runs than the Reds and won 36 more games. In 2012, the Brewers scored 107 more runs than the Reds and won 14 fewer games. The 2005 Reds scored 127 more runs than Houston and lost 16 more games. The 2010 Yankees scored 162 more runs than the Giants and won 3 more games.

      Moral of the story, we have no idea how much offense they’ll need.

      • True we really don”t know for sure how much is needed. But I highly doubt the current holdovers will provide enough. I was talking 2017 but I wasn’t talking wildcard just saying I doubt that is enough offence to get to .500 even.

    • Is it even reality that Mesoraco is better than Barnhart?

      • Oh yeah. This is akin to the Munson and Bench comparison. No need to embarrass Barnhart. This coming from someone who likes Barnhart’s pluck and D. But he’s not fit to start for a team that has any business competing for the post season.

  9. Iggy has been activated; Blake Woods to paternity.

    • Blake Wood to paternity list.

      Activating Iglesias was a simpler move than activating Lorenzen because it did not involve creating a 40 man roster opening.

  10. Hopefully a DFA for Simon next and get Lorenzen back.

    • Paternity leave is what, 3 days max? So the indications are that two guys in the pen prior to today won’t be there by Friday and that one of them will be clear off the 40 man man unless they make a different offsetting move to create a 40 man spot for Lorenzen.

      Of course they could always just send Peraza back down for one of the spots. With the time he spent in the majors prior to 2016 (40+ days), there are possible super 2 issues with until into July.

      As far as 40 man slots, Adelman and Morris are lurking out there on the 15 day DL and could be punted to the 60 day DL to open a 40 man slot.

      My guess is on Friday when all the dust has cleared is that Simon will go to the 15 day DL, Peraza will go back to AAA and one of the aforementioned 15 day DLed pitchers will move on to the 60 day DL to make way for Lorenzen.

      • I hope not that would leave a 4 man bench again.

      • Based on Peraza’s profile and some ongoing research I’ve been doing, Super 2 would cost the Reds about $2.5 million bucks over the entire course of his arbitration years. Not chump change, of course, but if he is actually played several times a week, the advancement in his game might be worth $2.5M over 4 years.

  11. I really don’t know what the Reds are waiting for, regarding Bruce and Cozart. Those two have done well over 2.5 months now, almost 3 months. I’d hate for the Reds to wait until they think a team or teams is getting really desperate by the deadline, only to find out that Bruce especially has cooled off. I’d be sad to see him go, and Cozart too, but it’s time.

    • In fairness, I don’t think any team is ready to pull the trigger on a deal just yet. Once it gets closer to the deadline, many teams will be forced to decide if they are in or out of the playoff race and then we’ll see some trade action.

      • Sure, it takes two to trade. But I can’t help but think a few teams that are sure to be contenders are already looking.

        I can just picture the Reds trying to wait until several teams might be interested, so as to drive up the price. And maybe Bruce has indeed outgrown his extended cold spells, but if he hits one in the next few weeks, that value could take a hit.

        • Yeah, there could very well be ongoing talks with a club or two. But the converse point may be that those clubs are lowballing the Reds. It’s impossible to know unless there’s a credible source that has details.

  12. Mets fans are clamoring for a Jay Bruce trade. They are almost in panic mode.
    The Mets have 7 games vs. Washington and 7 games vs. the Chicago Cubs over the next 5 weeks, before July 20. Before most trades get completed. It would probably behoove the Mets to make a move sooner rather than later. They are already 5 1/2 games behind Washington as it stands now.

  13. Zach Buchanan (@zachENQ) just tweeted “Michael Buchanan could be back as soon as tomorrow: Bet the Reds have several guys in the pen praying that Disco has a long outing tonight.

    • Opps. that colon above is the end of Zach’s tweet, The editorial comment is all mine. Zach’s tweet was:

      “Michael Buchanan could be back as soon as tomorrow”

      • Is Zack Buchanan advocating for his brother Michael Buchanan to pitch in the Reds pen? Reds are pulling guys off the street now for the pen? (wink)
        I know you meant Lorenzen.

  14. Beating.a.dead.horse.again…but

    I don’t see why Bruce can’t be part of a rebuild having just turned 29 in April? Why let someone else profit from what he’s learned from all the highs and lows? The guy will only be 32 going into the 2019 season so how #$&*#^# long is this rebuild anyway?

    • Because of his declining defensive value and the fact that he’s had 1/2 a good year in the last 2 1/2 years.

      Keeping Bruce is exactly what the old guard Reds would do, essentially paying him for homers and RBIs and ignoring the rest of the warning signs.

      He currently has positive value because several teams have need for a bat. The Reds should move him while they can and get something in return.

      • We’ve never seen him play this consistently and he’s made some really nice catches in the last week? Could it all fall apart? Sure…but there are plenty of guys in mlb that figured it out in their late 20s. No…what the Reds would do was pay people for their past success or for 2 random no-hitters. Bruce was hurt in 2014 and bad last year but he’s figuring it out. Who’s going to replace that production? Half the time Votto is just trying to loop the ball over the shortstop like Pete Rose?

        • Perhaps not everyone subscribes to WAR, but replacing Bruce’s replacement level WAR won’t be difficult.

        • Not for nothing but it’s hard to get 2 “random” no hitters in the Majors without having some great stuff. Considering he was the health and younger pitcher that was coming up for an extension, this comment looks more like revisionist history.

        • Bruce’s OPS in .890? That’s easy to replace? He’s supposed to be so bad defensively but Duvall, Schebler, or Winker don’t have anything close to his arm? Time will tell? I love Duvall and Suarez and we got both of them for next to nothing so maybe we could get some great talent for Jay?

        • Actually, I believe Duvall has a very good arm, just not the reputation Bruce brought with him to the show since Duvall was considered just an experiment in the OF this season.

    • I’m on the fence over trading Bruce myself but to look at the other side, consider that for several weeks now Schebler has been destroying AAA pitching just like JB did before he was brought up; and, over the next 6 years Schebler may not cost the team as much Bruce will in the next season and a half (of course he would then walk if he hadn’t been signed to a deal paying more)

      • And Schebler just keeps rolling tonight. He’s 1-1, with the only hit for the Bats so far.

    • Funny thing with Bruce is that his offensive numbers are the best they have ever been at 131 wRC+. Unfortunately his defense has also been the worst it’s ever been so overall he has been worth 0 fWAR this year.

      • lol….he’s 2nd in the NL in rbis with a .890 ops and he’s a scrub? I guess the 3-4 nice running catches he just made were a mirage? Joe Maddon was willing to put Schwarber in the OF and compared to Bruce he plays the outfield like a guy that just stepped on a landmine. But what does Maddon know anyway? He needs to go to WAR academy to learn something

        • A good counterpoint, Indy. The defensive metrics just aren’t comparable to the offensive metrics yet. So there’s definitely room to disagree over Bruce’s overall value. I would say that when it comes to evaluating him as a trade piece, the other team is almost certainly more interested in what he can provide with the bat than with the glove. An AL team could even use him as a DH if they are otherwise set defensively.

    • Under the FWIW header…

      Jeff Tood just published his most recent ‘Top 15 Trade Candidates’ over at MLBTR and Bruce has jumped to his #1 trade candidate while citing, “He’s only increasing his offensive production as the season goes on, and Cincinnati looks to be well-positioned to finally strike a deal.”

  15. The future is almost upon us. The starting rotation has begun to take form:

    * DeSclafani
    * Straily
    * Lamb
    * Reed
    * Finnegan

    Stephenson and Bailey will supplant two from tjhe rotation. Straily has performed admirably, but I have to think Straily will move to the bullpen or be traded this summer after Stephenson is permanently promoted. Then Lamb and Finnegan are probably on the bubble once Bailey returns. I can see the odd man out heading to AAA as a starter rather than the bullpen on the 25-man roster. I think both have too much potential to automatically relegate them to a bullpen role.

    Cingrani, Wood, Lorenzen, Hoover & Iglesias are locks for the bullpen. If Straily is not traded, he will become the 6th member of the bullpen. Ohlendorf and Smith probably have the inside track for retaining the 1 or 2 remaining spots in the bullpen. That bullpen will start to resemble an actual major league bullpen.

    Spring training in 2017 will prove especially interesting for the pitchers in camp with Davis and Garrett in the mix.

    • Not so much for this season,but it would be nice to have a 2nd lefty in the pen by next season.But Your probably right about Lamb/Finnegan one of them going to AAA to continue to start. As fragile as starting pitchers are it is always nice to have a couple nice fall back guys in AAA.

      • Names to keep in your hip pocket for LH relievers in 2017:

        Wandy Peralta
        Nick Routt

        Nick Routt was just promoted from AA to AAA. In 37.2 innings at Pensacola, Routt put up a 0.96 ERA and 0.80 WHIP w/ 4.50 SO/BB, 8.6 SO/9, 1.9 BB/9 & 0.0 HR/9. Routt will be 26 years old next season and may very well be big league ready and just hitting his prime performance seasons.

        Wandy Peralta was assigned from AA to AAA in the middle of last month. In 17.2 innings at Pensacola, Peralta put up a 3.06 ERA and 1.13 WHIP w/ 6.67 SO/BB, 10.2 SO/9, 1.5 BB/9 & 0.5 HR/9. In 19.1 innings at Louisville, Peralta put up a 4.19 ERA and 1.19 WHIP w/ 2.50 SO/BB, 7.0 SO/9, 2.8 BB/9 & 0.5 HR/9. Peralta will be 25 years old next season and may very well be big league ready and just hitting his prime performance seasons.

    • What might a rotation of Bailey, Zack Wheeler, DeSclafani, Reed and Finnegan look like? Give Stephenson extra time to get his command and control more fine tuned. Then Garrett is in the wings to replace Finnegan when ready.

  16. That light is why I bought my subscription to MLB.tv this week (well that and the annual 1/2 price sale). I’m loving watching some of the Reboot Book Boys.

  17. With a little luck we’ll be talking about how Winker and/or Schebler made the Bruce trade easy and the prospect(s) the Reds got in return for him are tearing up the minors headed for Cincinnati. But Bruce is young enough and hitting the way we all expected him to for so long that I won’t be shocked if he gets ecxtended instead. Pitching is lining up nicely. Offense is a trickier issue now in my opinion, and the fate of the offense hinges on possible Bruce and Cozart trades, the development or not of Hamilton and Suarez, the continued success or not of Duvall, the health of Mesoraco, and the potential of Winker, Schebler and Peraza. That’s a lot of question marks. If the Reds front office gets most of those right this will be a very good team soon. If not, all bets are off. It will be exciting and scary to watch it all unfold. Can’t wait. Go Reds.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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