Ever since we started this most recent rebuild, the Reds have told us to BE CALM and DON’T WORRY, because (and repeat this with me now) “There is a plan.” This plan allegedly includes graphs and charts and other implements of destruction printed up on glossy paper in an official binder somewhere in Great American Ballpark.

Billy Hatcher and Jose Rijo stand guard over the plan when the Reds are out of town. They drink espresso and reminisce about the 1990 team. Or so I hear.

C-Trent Gildenstern even has a link to his article outlining the plan glued at the top of his Twitter feed for all to see.

But what if the plan is a bad one? What if the plan doesn’t take into account the ebb and flow of a player’s career?

What if the plan doesn’t work?

Here are a few things that might derail the Plan for Future Successâ„¢, throwing us all into another decade of woe, despair, and self-pity.


Votto is still Votto, despite this season’s numbers not quite matching his MVP year or even last year’s epic second half. The great thing about Votto is he’s adaptable. When his power dipped during his injury, he compensated by shortening his swing and getting more walks. I’m sure a few guys in the radio booth might have preferred that he swing for the fences more often, but the ability to change your game to match declining ability is another of Joey’s superhuman characteristics. He’ll likely continue to Votto all the way to the end, always eke-ing out the max value his skills can provide.

But Father Time catches up with everyone. Joey Votto is 32 years old this year, meaning his prime offensive years are likely in the not-so-distant past. He might surge for a season or two, but his skills will eventually decline. If his skills decline faster than we all hope, the Reds will be in big trouble with a hefty contract on the books for years to come.


He’s already seen a significant increase in K% and his BB% has dropped to only 16.8. That’s still not bad for a normal player, but for Votto, it could be worrying.


One central point of Das Planâ„¢ is a focus on acquiring and developing new talent. Over the last season, the Reds certainly have seemed to be aggressive in this department, trading away a lot of talent in Johnny Cueto, Todd Fraizer, Aroldis Chapman, and more.

The returns seem to be good thus far. Our only All Star this year, Adam Duvall, was an also-ran in the Mike Leake trade, and there is a plethora of pitching talent in the minors to make it seem like the future is bright.

But is it? Raisel Iglesias, who was once billed as “the next Johnny Cueto” went down with shoulder problems and came back as a reliever. That, and the recent firing of pitching coach Mark Riggins, might make you question whether the guiding philosophy behind pitcher acquisitions and development has been thus far flawed.

Add to this question marks surrounding Duvall (he walks less often than most college kids change their underwear), Eugenio Suarez (who has, at best, a passing interest in defense), and Jose Peraza (will he ultimately be worth giving up on the #ToddFather?), and you have to wonder whether the Reds have bet the farm on a collection of not quite ready for primetime players who would fill in nicely as foot soldiers on a future championship team, but none of whom will strike fear in the hearts of opponents.

Except for John Lamb. He reminds me of an extra from a Freddy Krueger movie. I don’t know why.


Devin Mesoraco was supposed to be a power-hitting core of future championship teams. He’s been, though no fault of his own, nearly nonexistent these last two seasons. Injuries happen. For catchers, injuries happen more often than they don’t. Which is why a backup backstop plan is necessary, doubly so if said backstop is a core offensive cog in your machinations for success.

Tucker Barnhart is a good guy. I like him. But he doesn’t make up for the offensive potential we expected to see from Mes for at least a few years. Who do we have beyond that?

Maybe Corky Miller is still available?


Billy Hamilton is fast. Real Fast. But all that speeds means nothing if he can’t get on base and around the basepaths. It’s a similar situation to what the Cleveland Indians faced a few years back with Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore. Tons of potential, but little in the way of results. You can’t win games on potential just like you can get out of trouble with the law of you claim good intentions.


If the Reds are going to be successful, they need a center fielder who can hit, get on base, and score. He doesn’t have to be #Awesometastic. Average offensive skill would be an improvement. Stolen bases are nice, and nobody will argue with Hamilton’s defensive prowess, but we’ve had a parade of fast yet ultimately unsuccessful guys in the lineup these last few years. If they’ve taught us one thing it’s that the ability to hit, even a little bit, trumps stolen bases every day of the week and twice on Sundays.


When we first went into the valley of the shadow of death to sell off our heroes in search of future success, the mantra was “wait for 2017 or 2018.” Now, the mantra is “2018 maybe. Or maybe not.”

The plan is nice and it makes sense. But there needs to be some adaptability for Real Life coming in and changing some of the bedrocks we all hoped would be here. Things change, and the plan must change with it.

Somebody get Billy and Jose an espresso while we flip through the charts and graphs in that nicel little binder to see what improvements we can make.

51 Responses

  1. CI3J

    Nice article that lays out what we all are secretly fearing but don’t know how to eloquently express.

    The pitching (probably) looks promising if (most of) the players pan out. I said in another thread that a bullpen made up of all the young guys who miss out on the starter’s sweepstakes looks pretty good, although possibly they’d be more useful as packages to upgrade the offense.

    And the offense. Oh boy, the offense. BHam. Peraza. AlfRod. Could that trio hit 10 HRs in a season consistently? Suarez balances out his offensive contributions with his shoddy defense. Duvall has been a nice surprise, but I’m not sure I’m sold. Who knows what’s going on with Mez. Votto is gonna Votto, but he’s gonna be Old Votto before long. Bruce and Cozart are as good as gone, right? But, um… I guess Winker looks nice?

    Pitching seems to mostly be about right. I’m terrified of the future with this offense.

  2. Tim

    The Red’s are a mess we are at best terrible because we traded to many players an got nothing back for those trades. Jocketry and Price both should be fired neither one knows what they are doing and to fire the pitching coach was a joke. The man had nothing to work with again because of all the bad trades. Then we have our long term contract guys all are a joke everyone was on the injured list their first year of their contract and Bailey is out 2 years thats BS. Upper management is terrible and they have made tell team terrible.

    • DEN

      HUH? We traded Latos and look at the great return. We traded Cueto and look at the great return, we traded Leake and got a very good return. As for the Frazier and Chapman deals those are still unknown, but not sure how you can see we got horrible returns on 2 players we couldn’t have afforded to keep and a third now pitching in the minors.

      • Gaffer

        We got nothing for Chapman. That is known. Frazier brought back players that will contribute but would not be starters on a World Series team. Duvall has been a lucky pick up, but he is not likely to be a perennial AllStar. Cueto return was fine, but they are more like relievers or maybe we get lucky and one is a solid starter. Latos got us a third starter, again not a guaranteed championship player. The “plan” is at best a lottery ticket.

      • sixpacktwo

        To believe that other teams are going to give you all-star players for rental players is fantasy. We will never know if there were better packages offered, but except for trading Chapman too late, all returns look very good. .

      • greenmtred

        All plans are lottery tickets. It’s certainly too early to know how the trades will work out, but one thing we do know is that the guys we traded were not part of a championship Reds team, and would not have been a part of the next championship Reds team.

      • reaganspad

        I do not think we got a very good return for Leake. Leake could have been traded before the year and returned more. Got very little for him as a rental.

        I like Duvall, but he is probably not a 3rd baseman. Good move playing him in LF, however if this asleep at the gm’s wheel gm would have moved Mesoraco there 4 years ago…

        but hey, they will get 50-80 games of Devin’s bat at catcher and that is soooo important, versus having Devin do what Duvall is doing this year.

        bad, bad gm

      • lwblogger2

        In all fairness, the shoulder injury this year had nothing to do with him catching. He did it while swinging the bat. He’d be out if he was in LF too.

  3. eric3287

    I’ve been fearful of this since they waited a year and half too long to start this process. One of the scarier parts to me is that I don’t think they really have a “plan.” I have read that C. Trent article a few times trying to figure out if I missed something, but the best I can tell the plan boils down to: trade veterans and get good players.

    Now, on the surface there is nothing wrong with trying to get good players. That’s what everyone wants, right? Sign good players. Don’t sign bad players. But there has to be a plan in place to figure out which players are the good players and which ones are the bad players, right? Otherwise it would be easy and no teams would ever “win” trades and there’d be rainbows and unicorns everywhere.

    The best I can tell, the Reds idea of a good player is one that has speed and makes a lot of contact on offense, and a reliever they hope they can convert to a starter for the pitching staff. That hasn’t worked very well given the current state of the game.

    • earmbrister

      With all due respect … It’s easy to say they waited too long, hence the term Monday Morning Quarterback. Trade Frazier BEFORE he slumps — should have known. Trade Chapman BEFORE he has an off the field incident — should have known. Trade the other pieces BEFORE Mesoraco has a season ending injury. Dismantle an above average team BEFORE it has a chance to make a playoff run.

      I hear many lament the lack of a plan, but WHY IN THE WORLD would the Reds publicly announce their plan ??? Yes, the Astros have to worry about the Cards hacking their computers, but the Reds should spell out for all who would listen how they intend to rebuild their team. How does that make sense?

      The Reds are smart to try to work the inefficiencies of talent acquisition. Their budget is tiny compared to the big market teams. Should they follow the same game plan as the Yankees, Bosox, etc. and get buried? Or should they try to find and acquire undervalued talent? Hamilton has value, aka WAR. Peraza may well prove to have value as well; that’s why he’s called a prospect. Doesn’t mean they want a lineup full of Hamilton/Peraza. Anyone have a real problem with Winker or Senzel being highly valued by the FO? The Reds have managed to obtain a talented young pitching staff. Should they have passed on Iglesias or Lorenzen? As a small market team they should be trying to obtain talent cheaply.

      Without a publicly stated “plan” …

      • eric3287

        It’s not just about waiting a month or two longer than I would have wished; it’s about waiting a year or two longer.

        The 2013 Reds were a 3rd place team. You can call them a playoff team, and technically that’s true, but they were a 3rd place team in the toughest division in baseball. Going into 2014, the Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs all had much better minor league talent, and the Cards and Pirates had better major league talent.

        The 2014 Reds went into the season as a 3rd place team that had lost it’s 2nd best offensive player from the year before and one of its starting pitchers. It wasn’t going to be a playoff team. The 2014 deadline, or at the very least the 2014-2015 winter was the time the Reds needed to start rebuilding; Cueto, Leake, Chapman, Frazier all would have brought back hauls much more impressive than they ended up getting.

      • Streamer88

        Very well said. Fan generated content is much more focused on hindsight than foresight, no question.

        Sitting on a level deeper than trade requests and 2nd guesses is this feeling that our FO isn’t competent enough to win a WS. And it’s cumulative. Not just the draft. But one year we were maybe 1 bat away from the series, they didn’t make a trade, we got crushed into the playoffs. BPs contract. How Chapman was handled. Bryan Price being named manager. Batting order. Recycled cardinals players. Etc.

        These (and many more) are individual errors and errors are gonna happen. But beneath them stirs this uneasiness that perhaps these guys just don’t get it.

        If the SF Giants went into rebuild mode tomorrow, I suspect their fan base would trust the process. I think the mistrust in this fan base is warranted, so long as it remains even handed.

  4. enfueago

    It is hard to disagree with anything here. There seem to be a lot of position players who would be assets if there were a couple more stars to do the heavy lifting. Hamilton is nice to have for his defense and the occasional disruptive presence when he gets on base. But that’s a luxury on a team so lacking in offense from other sources. When Bruce goes Votto will really be the only guy in the lineup who is clearly an above average offensive threat. Duvall is a nice story but his numbers suggest he will not maintain this productivity. Cozart is much the same but I assume he will be gone by the end of the month in any event. The hope is that Suarez, Peraza and/or some of the AAA players will develop into something closer to stars who can elevate the rest.

    The pitching still seems promising. There are enough quality arms I have to believe that some of them will mature and figure it out.

    • IndyRedMan

      I believe in Duvall because his swing is so short and powerful but they’ll just nibble and pitch around him if nobody else is hitting. Next year is pretty hopeless too but maybe they can start fitting in a piece here or there? Selsky is over .900 ops vs lefties at Lville so why not move Duvall to right when they trade Bruce and platoon Schebler/Selsky in LF. Eventually move Suarez to 2B and hope he can get going again. I believe in him too…atleast offensively. I see him as a .275 (.340ish obp) type of guy with 20+ hr power. Hamilton and Peraza….truthfully you can’t steal first even if you run a 4.1 forty yard dash! We’ll see?

    • eric3287

      That’s one of the things that had been so destressing about the slow pace of all this; there are so many position players that MAY be valuable, but there is no where to play them. It will be interesting to see how the deadline progresses; at a minimum they have to move Cozart and Bruce just for roster space. They need to find out what they have with Schebler, Selsky, and Waldrop. That probably means they’ll have to DFA Holt, too.

      At this rate, 2017 is going to be almost exclusively auditions, 2018 will be the young guys taking their lumps, and 2019 would be the earliest they’d even sniff 80 wins.

  5. Patrick Jeter

    I disagree whole-heartedly that a team needs a CFer that can hit to win. Value is value. For example, a diving catch in the gap to save a 2-run double (with 2 outs to end the inning) is more valuable than a 2-run home run, by run expectancy.

    Billy Hamilton has made 6 plays this year in CF categorized as “remote,” meaning they are made on average 1-10% of the time.

    Every other CF in MLB, in aggregate, have made 5 such plays, with no one else having more than 1 play.

    Billy can be part of a winner, even with a terrible bat. Just need to stop hitting him at the top of the order. He needs to bat 9th. All the time.

    • Old-school

      How many 9 hole hitters can a team have?
      The cf.catcher.new ss.2b and 3b and pitcher all have to bat unfortunately. Nice in theory…..but do u really think the Reds are going to have Perez/ Rose/foster and griffey at the corner if/ of slots with Bench and Morgan at 2b/C??? Planning for offensive ineptitude at one spot as a given…..bad plan. But….the Reds marketing Dept might have a job for you.

    • eric3287

      I agree in theory with this. The problem is the Reds seem to be planning on constructing an entire roster of players like that. Best I can tell, by 2018 the Reds plan on having Billy in center, the new A-Rod at SS and Peraza at 2B. That’s likely 3 sub .300 OBP guys.

      • redsfan06

        Peraza may not be a sub-.300 OBP guy. He hits pretty well. If his average is .270-.300 and he walks 4% of the time, his OBP is in the .310-.340 range. His career minor league OBP is .339. Of course, if he hits .250 -.260, he is a below .300 OBP type….with no redeeming power.

  6. John Gattermeyer

    It must be a rebuilding year in Cincinnati. A whole lot of doom and gloom abounds.

    Right now, the only thing we should worry about is what happens with a Bruce trade. Winker has a 120 wRC+ at Louisville and was coming around before he got hurt. Scott Schebler is having an excellent AAA season so far, and he showed off some of his power potential earlier this year. Disco is a legitimate weapon in the rotation, Reed still has a lot to dream on. Garrett and Mahle are having AWESOME years. Stephenson has had an up and down time this year, but still flashes what once made him a top 50 prospect. Mella, Santillan, Lopez and Kahaloa are all lower level guys with big ceilings. Lorenzen, Iglesias and Cingrani are proving to be valuable bullpen pieces. I personally believe Finnegan will be a bullpen guy because I think his value is maximized there, but time will tell. Tony Renda had a fantastic first half in AA. Phil Ervin is having his typical good OPS, low BA year, but still walks a decent amount, hits for some power and can steal bases. Nick Senzel should move quickly, Tyler Stepheson is still crazy young, and Taylor Trammel is promising. Duvall has been a surprise, Suarez is a good piece to have and Barnhart is having a fine year, and will be an excellent C2.

    And then there’s Billy Hamilton. In the discussion of top major league CFer. Unquestionably the biggest weapon on the bases in baseball. Not a good hitter, not a walker. But measuring Billy by the same OBP rates as everyone else doesn’t tell the story. I forget when it was, but a story was done at fangraphs about how often Billy scores when he does get on base. It was significantly higher than anyone else in baseball. When Billy gets on, he scores. So if he’s getting on at a .290 clip, he’s going to score a lot more than any other batter with an OBP at .290. Obviously, if he could get on base at a .320 clip, that’s even more runs. And he should continue to improve. He’s still a couple years from his prime.

    The Reds are flawed. Their franchise is flawed. Their plan is flawed. But it’s not hopeless!

  7. Gaffer

    The real scary thing is that this team is Horrible right now with Bruce playing his best ball and Duvall at max performance too. Also many of the players in the reboot plans are already here. Even if you replace Bruce with a Winker, it’s a wash

  8. dan

    It isn’t working if part of the plan is to build a top 5 farm system. Baseball America only ranks 1 top 50 player for the Reds.

  9. Chuck Schick

    The only thing a re-building team can “plan” is to get younger and cheaper. You trade what you can trade, see what you have and build from there. Any actual analysis at this point is fruitless as there really is nothing to evaluate.

    • ohiojimw

      Add in that Jocketty has been a died in the wool set piece guy. Find a guy; put him into a slot; mark the slot as filled; and, move on to the next slot. When a team is in a situation of almost total flux, this doesn’t work really well.

      We don’t know what Williams will be; but to the degree he was involved, selling the farm on the “new” ARod doesn’t seem to bode well.

      • Takao

        That wasn’t Williams. That was a signing that Jocketty signed off on last year. The Reds aren’t going to renege on an agreement like that, it would negatively impact all of their international signings for the future.

      • greenmtred

        We don’t know hat sort of player the new ARod will be, nor do we know that he is the shortstop of the future. Projections are projections, not reports from a time machine journey to the future.

      • greenmtred

        It does seem at times that Jocketty has died in the wool, and that may be due to his being dyed in the wool.

      • lwblogger2

        I can’t believe they spent that kind of money on a “kid” (he isn’t THAT young) that pretty much every scout who’s had a public or in a couple cases private opinion on thinks just doesn’t have enough bat to be an every day MLB starter.

  10. CaribRed

    We don’t have any “can’t miss” guys coming up. We’ve got 6-8 guys who might be good, and by “might be good” I mean solid to above average starters. 2-3 of those will pan out.

    Where does that leave the 2018 Reds?

  11. sixpacktwo

    In the second half we put Duvall at 3nd, Suarez at 2nd and Peraza at SS and see what we have. Why waste this year. BP to Bench and trade Corzart and Bruce.

    • musicclown

      I agree 6pack. If you trade Bruce bring up Selsky and Schebler and play them a lot to see who can make it. TV announcers like Waldrop approach at the plate so he maybe figuring it out also to be in a mix as a late season call up. Winker also in September.

      If you can’t get much for a Bruce trade, keep him and add 3 more years on his contract to get the most out of him. Who will the Reds get to out hit what he’s done most of his career?

      I’ll try to trade Votto just because of the stupid contract $20M+ for this market size for 8 more years just won’t work out.

      I think the pitching should workout ok. There are some good arms in the system.

  12. greenmtred

    It wasn’t only injuries, though. It was also age, money and contract status. Rebuilds have their tiresome moments, but so do trips to the dentist.

  13. WVRedlegs

    “I’ll try to trade Votto just because of the stupid contract $20M+”.
    You’ve been drinking way too much of the Marty-Aid. It has been explained over and over again that Votto’s contract is not a bad contract for the Reds. Votto is making $20M this season. He will put up about a 5.0 WAR this year. If 1.0 WAR is equal to $8M, but let’s take a conservative route and say 1.0 WAR is worth $7M. The Reds are getting $35M worth of WAR for $20M on Votto. How many Reds regulars are giving back a surplus of $15M in value?? BP, Bruce, Suarez and Barnhart won’t even come close. Cozart, Duvall, and Votto, that is it. BHam almost comes close.
    Give up the Marty-Aid and indulge and immerse yourself in some well written articles on RLN on this very subject this weekend and become more of an informed Reds fan.

    • TR

      Musicclown probably doesn’t have the time to immerse himself in some well written articles on RLN. Musicclown is entitled to his own opinion about the Reds.

      • Patrick Jeter

        “Stupid contract” really isn’t an opinion, it’s more of an emotional reaction… in my opinion. 😉

        I think an opinion needs some sort of support for it to really be considered valid.

        Like, I could say the Reds have the best shot to win the World Series this year. That’s not a valid opinion to have because there is no basis to think that.

        Votto’s contract, given the contracts of other major leaguers, is factually not “stupid.”

      • lwblogger2

        The backend of the contract will likely be upside down, as it is for many long term deals. Is it something the Reds can afford? I hope so or yes, the contract can turn into a burden for the club. The deal is certainly a good one right now and with the way salaries are skyrocketing, one must think that even at $25-million, the figure won’t look too bad in 3-5 years in comparison to other salaries.

    • IndyRedMan

      Here’s the thing about Joey and also how WAR might be a little misleading in some cases….atleast the way I see it and I love Joey Votto by the way!

      A. It wouldn’t matter if Joey OPS’ed 1.200 the rest of this year and next so if he’s worth $80 mil in theory for 2017….it doesn’t matter.

      B. Now you’re into 2018 and you’re looking at a 34 (or 35?) year old player with probably below avg. foot speed by now & making $25 mil/year. A guy who’s primary value is drawing walks and it may take 3 hits to score him! My Cubs buddy & I used to have a running joke from the Cubs teams from 5-6-7 years ago when they’d regularly score 2 runs on 11 hits.

      Bottom line….$25/mil is a boatload for a 34-35 year old guy that isn’t going to be getting any younger but we won’t/can’t trade him anyway so it doesn’t matter

      • Streamer88

        This is a plus comment. It is true that absolutely no matter how much of a “deal” we’re getting on Vottos WAR, those dollars are effectively wasted when doled out in a non competitive year. Very true.

        My counter would be when his contract was signed they were much better and thats was “what the cool kids were doing” with their prime age 1st basemen at the time.

  14. Keith

    I want to believe there is a plan and the team is following it…

    But if that is true, why did they spend all that money on Alfredo Simon?

    Why did Jordan Pacheco get so many ABs?

    What are we doing with Tyler Holt on the roster when there are younger, unproven guys who could use those ABs?

    These may be small and ultimately insignificant, but they lead me to question how committed the Reds are to really following whatever plan is in place.

    • David

      They signed Alfredo because so many expected pitchers were hurt: Lorenzen, Desclafani, Iglesias and Lamb. They were holding back Stevenson, Reed, etc., to prevent them from getting to Arb age too young.

      Pacheco was “versatile”; they wanted a fairly valueless roster person in case Yorman Rodriguez came back (who HAD to be on the 25 man roster, if healthy). Whatever happened to Yorman Rodriguez?

      You make trades, you get players, and you never quite know how prospects will pan out until they actually play in the Bigs. The Reds got Caleb Cotham for Aroldis, and he wasn’t bad until they overused him and he got tendonitis. They still have Rookie Davis in AA, who is a pretty solid prospect. Jagielo, who was supposed to be the center piece, has bombed.

      Todd is doing good…for a 4th place team. We would still be in last place if Todd was playing in Cincy, and who knows what his value would be (probably less than what we got last winter)? Home town fans always tend to over value their own players. As substandard as Suarez has been at 3rd defensively, his offensive contributions are not hugely less than Todd’s would have been, and he’s younger and much cheaper.

    • VaRedsFan

      Imagine the quality player they could have gotten if they didn’t spend ALL of the $2 million on Simon? Pacheco had a whopping 51 at bats

  15. Michael E

    All the injuries today (not the Reds) scares me that they’ll wait too long to trade Bruce and Cozart (and anything else not in the future plans). That said, the plus side, is the more players get injured, the more they might need a Bruce or Cozart…catch 22.

    We need a few good hitting LH OF to go down over the next two weeks so we can get extra return on Bruce…maybe have a solid SS or two go down on teams with no real backup. Perfecto!

  16. Michael E

    While we lament the lack of “stud” prospects in return, we have yet to trade someone with a couple of years of team control that isn’t mediocre. Frazier had power, but his BA/OBP was nothing special (below average really). Leake was a solid, not great starting pitcher…a typical #3/4 starter on most teams, certainly not going to pull down a #1 prospect from another team. Chapman was a closer with a cloud over his head. Had we traded him last July, we’d have gotten a better headline player, no doubt. That is the one trade I really lament the delay. All the more reason you don’t wait if a player is pointing up (like both Cozart and Bruce are now). Heck Bruce may have already entered one of his patented two-month long slumps…he has struggled the past two weeks. Then again, maybe it’s just because most of the games have been on the road, who knows.

  17. james garrett

    Pitching will carry this team for years to come and that’s a good thing.We must focus on our position players to see who can and who can’t play.Barring injuries to the staff we will compete in 2018 for a wild card.We have no choice but to go younger and cheaper and must do a better job in drafting and developing players.