2017 Reds

A season for sorting

Around the time Frank Robinson was winning the National League Rookie of the Year award as an outfielder for the Reds, Pete Seeger was rearranging a passage from the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes into a folk song. The lyrics are familiar.

A time to build up, a time to break down.

A time to laugh, a time to weep.

A time to gain, a time to lose.

Anyone who follows the Cincinnati Reds appreciates the theme: the passing of seasons. Different kinds of seasons. To be sure, Reds fans have known seasons for celebrating and others for crying. And that’s just the past six years.

Seeger’s song, popularized by The Byrds, conveys an important message for Reds fans as we approach our next season.

The lesson: Our world is made up of opposites, inter-tangling opposites to use Seeger’s words, but as time passes we’ll move from one to another. Our broader world outside of baseball put that powerful and unsettling notion on full display this week. Those events of the day have received a fair amount of news coverage. So you’re excused if you missed a bit of C. Trent Rosecrans’ reporting from the MLB general managers meetings in Scottsdale.

“This next year will really help us crystalize who goes where.”

Those words from Reds general manager Dick Williams weren’t meant to be poetic. But they do convey a message with Old Testament bluntness about the upcoming season. Williams is telling any Reds fans who are willing to listen what to expect.

2017 won’t be about the win and loss columns. It’s a season for sorting.

And Dick Williams has that exactly right.

Stipulate: You can argue a million ways about how the Reds shouldn’t be exactly where they are now. They should have rebuilt sooner and deeper. Or is it later and shallower. They should have focused more on pitching. Or hitting. Traded Aroldis Chapman sooner. Or later. Never signed long-term contracts with Joey Votto or Homer Bailey. Never let Todd Frazier or Jay Bruce go. Signed Johnny Cueto to a long-term deal. A million ways.

But even though second-guessing general managers is a national pastime of its own, it doesn’t really matter now. At least not in terms of what the Reds should do going forward. Dick Williams has inherited Walt Jocketty’s team. It would be tempting for him to set off on a radical course correction, to chart his own path. It would imply criticism of past decisions and be popular with many fans.

But instead, the Reds leader is making the case for staying the course. Given where the roster stands right now, he’s right. Let’s hope the front office and ownership sticks with it.

So we shouldn’t expect offseason fireworks. No splashy veteran acquisitions like Mat Latos, Sean Marshall or Shin-Soo Choo. With the most valuable trade chips already cashed, don’t expect new impact players like Anthony DeSclafani, Cody Reed, Adam Duvall, Jose Peraza or Dilson Herrera.

With a couple exceptions, the quieter this offseason is, the better. It’s the season for sorting. Sorting is essential, but it isn’t noisy.

The Reds already have a roster stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with players who need to see the field. That playing time will give fans and the front office a better look at what they offer the club long term.

Infield: Peraza, Herrera and Eugenio Suarez need regular playing time. Nick Senzel could force his way into consideration as early as this season. Joey Votto remains a reliable fixture at first base. Alfredo Rodriguez and Alex Blandino may become other productive logs on the pile.

Outfield: The Reds need to see more of Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker. Billy Hamilton will patrol centerfield. It’s worth mentioning Duvall will be 29 by the end of the 2017 season. These guys may not prove to offer answers for all three outfield positions. After all, Duvall and Schebler were second pieces in their respective trades. But the time to figure that out is 2017. Outfield is the most likely spot for the Reds to need a new big bat in 2018. But not now.

Pitching: Homer Bailey, DeSclafani, Dan Straily and Brandon Finnegan have presumptive spots in the rotation. But Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson and Rookie Davis should get good looks facing major league pitching and could challenge for several of those slots. Beyond that list, the club still has to determine what roles Raisel Iglesias’ shoulder and Michael Lorenzen’s pitch portfolio will allow. It’s also worth noting that Finnegan and Straily had 2016 strikeout and walk rates indicative of an ERA over 5.00. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

We should see a few offseason moves:

Zack Cozart is 31 years old and entering his final year of arbitration. Because of that, his 2017 services are affordable. The Reds were close to sending Cozart to Seattle at the mid-season trade deadline. The Mariners and other clubs continue to have interest in the Reds shortstop. Zack Cozart would be a great fit for a big-payroll contending team as a defensive-oriented utility infielder with a little pop in his bat. He could also start at shortstop for a budget-conscious team. Dick Williams said that Cozart could fill a role with the Reds: “Cozart can be part of grooming players and part of a winning clubhouse.” That’s Williams dutifully nudging up Cozart’s trade value.

Brandon Phillips is entering the final year of his contract, due to make $14 million. It’s no secret the Reds have been trying to trade their second baseman for several years. Last offseason Phillips exercised his no-trade rights and turned down two trade offers to Washington and Arizona.

Phillips is reportedly more open to a trade out of Cincinnati this season. Maybe the Reds prodded Phillips’ change in outlook with heartfelt conversations about the team’s life cycle. The club will have to find an Old School trade partner that still valorizes blips in batting average. They can’t depend on the bizzaro D-Backs for that any more.

Yet, the Reds front office seems serious about finding everyday playing time for their young middle infielders. It’s hard to imagine a higher priority in 2017. So expect Cozart and Phillips to be moved or suffer reduced playing time. Neither player will return anything of much value in trade.

Veteran Starting Pitching

There’s talk that the Reds might look for a veteran free agent starting pitcher. Think Alfredo Simon without the domestic violence accusation and 9.36 ERA. Or Jason Marquis without the former Cardinals connection. But the plan to bring in another starter or two is more about building organizational depth than filling an Opening Day roster spot. The Reds have young arms in desperate need of testing against major league bats.

Simon’s “devil you know” signing and ongoing use was one of the worst mistakes of Walt Jocketty’s final season running the Reds. It’s a powerful cautionary tale. (Although, here’s proof you can find anything on the internet.) But don’t be surprised if the Reds sign a couple veteran starters to minor league deals.

The front office could take a chance and sign a starter or reliever returning from injury and try an Epstein Flip at the trade deadline. Of course the risk there is (cough … cough … Dan Straily … cough) falling in love.

Bullpen

Dick Williams has spoken several times about the Reds looking for bullpen help. This is an area (and a time) where you hope the offseason is even quieter than advertised.

If 2017 is a rebuilding season, and the club’s public statements and actions confirm that it is, then spending significant financial and/or player assets to acquire relief pitching would be a mistake.

Yes, the Reds bullpen was excruciating to watch the first half last year. No one wants a repeat (lack of) performance. It’s understandable, from a public relations standpoint, that the new guy in charge wants fans to know he feels their pain and is taking steps to address it.

But don’t do it: Burke Badenhop, Kevin Gregg, Manny Parra, Steve Delabar, Ross Ohlendorf, Carlos Contreras, Caleb Cotham – should I go on? –  Curtis Partch, Mike Lincoln, J.J. Hoover, even Sean Marshall.

Andrew Miller is a singular player and he isn’t walking through Cincinnati’s clubhouse door. Repeat, there are no other Andrew Millers. Quit staring at Cleveland. Besides, Cleveland hit more home runs than other teams in the postseason. Go get home run hitters.

Relievers are notorious for being erratic from year to year, making them terrible long-term commitments. You can count on two fingers the number of available bullpen arms who look to be solid, multi-year investments. One of those is Aroldis Chapman. It will take many more than two fingers to carry the briefcases full of money those rare players will be paid this winter. The Reds aren’t going to sign Kenley Jansen.

If Dick Williams wants to spend money on a long-term superstar relief pitcher, or gamble on a better-than-average middle reliever, do it next year, when all the benefits would accrue to contending Reds teams. Better yet, find relievers from internal places, cheap free agent pick ups or trade throw-ins. Relievers come from everywhere. But don’t worry about it for 2017.

Fans need to give the organization breathing space to not chase ephemeral bullpen help.

A Season for Every Purpose

The Reds may or may not already have the pieces they need to be a contender in 2018 and beyond. No one has the answer to that. No one. If it turns out the Reds need more players, they’ll consider major trades or free agent signings. Perhaps they’ll package young pitching for hitting. Because, braindead clichés aside, you can have too much pitching relative to hitting in an organization.

But this isn’t the season for those moves. It’s time for sorting what we have.

The front office must be fair-minded in their judgment of players they’ve acquired or developed the past few years. All those players won’t work out. Some will bust. Some will get hurt. Others will be too mediocre to start. The Reds have to give each one a fair and complete tryout and evaluate them objectively.

Dick Williams’ statements plainly confirm what was obvious when the Reds signed manager Bryan Price to a one-year extension: The club isn’t in go-for-it mode yet. But it will be eventually. For everything, a season.

That means a boring offseason though, other than saying goodbye to a couple veterans. Of course the Reds should stay open for business just in case. They should field offers for players beyond Cozart and Phillips. If another club is willing to pay full value for Adam Duvall’s 2016 home runs or Dan Straily’s 2016 ERA, the Reds should make those deals pronto.

And there’s no reason to begrudge a couple cheap, temporary fits to help the club find its way to a respectable record this year. For example, there’s talk of looking for a right-handed bench player. But holy cow, the front office needs to stay clear-eyed about the primary goal. They shouldn’t bring in players that will cost playing time for key assets. Focus on the main task at hand, not raising the win total from 75 to 78.

Instead, Dick Williams should pocket every bit of Bob Castellini’s money and save it to spend on the 2017 draft, international signings and, most important, future major league payroll.

A time to plant, a time to reap.

48 thoughts on “A season for sorting

  1. One thing that I wish the Reds would consider would be to look at a couple of their best pitching prospects and promote them into bull pen roles FOR ONE YEAR, and see how they adapt and learn. 60 or 70 innings in the bullpen for a few young guys with big upsides can lead them to be successful starters in the following years. Jim Palmer and Don Gullet got started that way.
    I would rather see that than any more Burke Badenhops, or Kevin Greggs. We don’t need a bunch of has-beens for “veteran presence”.

    • David – as I posted my response it appears that we disagree on this point, but we do not. I do not want the Reds to sign anyone to see if they might do well. I only want a cheap, dependable, middle reliever for stability. If that’s not available then I definitely don’t advocate experimenting with outside arms. And I can endorse your suggestion as long as that big qualifier of FOR ONE YEAR is clearly understood and invoked. My biggest concern is that Reed or Garrett or Davis or even Iglesias or Lorenzen is branded a reliever and never gets a proper chance to prove the ability to be an effective, maybe even very good, starter. – CFD

      • Amir Garrett would seem to be a good candidate for the temporary reliever role if he doesn’t force his way into the ML:B rotation because he will be in his last option year and has yet to see MLB level competition.

        They can stretch him out as a starter and send him to AAA as a starter to burn off the three weeks to a month it takes to extend his team control the “extra” year then bring him up and us him as a multi inning reliever. Or if avoiding Super2 with him is deemed important, they could hold him at AAA for the necessary 2 months or so before bringinghim up.

    • I don’t disagree in principle, but I do for this current Reds situation. Like CFD alludes to, if the young pitchers did well in their bullpen roles, I think the FO would be somewhat likely to just keep them in the BP, citing something about “familiarity…”

      • I think we as followers of the team have to try to get over judging what the FO might do based on what it has done in the past.

        DW is last word now on the baseball side reporting directly to either Bob or Phil Castellini, depending on how exactly the org table is set up.

        WJ is out of the everyday loop; and, presumably his role is limited to offering advice upon request.

        • Jim I feel like one of the few benefits of being avid fans with no say in any of these matters is that we can have it both ways. We can agree that in an ideal world someone like Garrett could be well managed in the way you describe, so long as his relief role doesn’t keep him from getting a legitimate shot at the rotation in the future, AND express concern that once in the Reds bullpen he might never escape given past (and RECENT past) history in Cincinnati. Since nobody is actually letting us decide we can have our proverbial cake and eat it too…

          • True.
            It seems to me that they might have something in mind for Garrett because they hoarded the ~30 days of service time he would have earned if they had called him up in September even though he appeared to have more innings left in him than Stephenson who they did call up.

            With those 30 days not used, they can bring him up around 1 June, carry him on the MLB roster to the end of the season, and have their cake and eat it too by both gaining the “extra” year of control and avoiding Super2 with him.

            Garrett has only one option year left (2017); so, there would be no reason to hoard days once he was sure to come up short of Super2.

        • Dick is an insider. Until he proves to me that he’s different, I’ll treat him like he’s the same.

          He could prove it very quickly, by trading either Phillips (and getting him to agree) or Cozart.

          • I think the market on Cozart is probably next to zero given his 2nd half and that he finished the year on the 60 day DL with recurring knee issues and something going on with his Achilles which was apparently aggravated trying to compensate for the knee. It could come down to whether DW is willing to cut bait on him just to clear the spot.

            If Phillips is willing to move; and, the Reds are willing to go up to half his salary, that one may be more doable. If someone defines “everyday” 2B as ~130 games, he can probably do that as well as he did last year; but his defense was really going south almost week by week in the 2nd half.

      • If they do well, why wouldn’t they keep them in the bullpen….assuming they have equal or greater talent that can start? MLB isn’t an internship.

        • I think cozart has a much better shot at getting traded than Phillips I mean we probably won’t get anything but if I were an mlb team I’d rather have cozart at like 4mil than Phillips even if the Reds eat some of his salary

  2. Steve this is a nice assessment of the fundamentals of the Reds situation for this offseason and for 2017, and a clear look at both the forest and the trees. I agree with your forest view, but I do see a few trees where some movement may make sense, even for a 2017 where the year end record doesn’t matter much. I think the Reds need to have a clear plan for how best to use their high draft position, and stick to it. And I hope that means drafting an impact hitter, but of course that depends on who is available. I hope the Reds sign a sturdy backup catcher. I don’t want them to over use Barnhart, press on Mesoraco, or rush and possibly ruin a too unseasoned prospect. I think they should resign Hernan Irribaren. I like what he would bring to the bench and to the clubhouse. I think they should acquire a reliable veteran middle reliever, to stabilize the bullpen a bit, but also to reduce the temptation to relegate a promising starting prospect to the bullpen to bolster that area instead of giving him more chances to develop in a starting role. I don’t know which prospect that might describe, but it’s a mistake the Reds seem ready to make. And I agree that they need to be open to moving Duvall, Straily, and even Iglesias – but only for a very strong return. I can’t see all of those things happening this offseason, but I’ll be fine with any subset. And then it will be time for another season of Reds baseball, and this time with something new to look forward to – hope. Thanks Steve.

    • I agree with you on the draft pick. Another impact bat if one is available. Unless Mesoraco can’t play at all, I’d rather they not carry three catchers. But a seasoned backup there makes sense in certain scenarios. If such a thing as a “reliable veteran middle reliever” exists, sure, go for it. I’m skeptical there are such things. I don’t have a problem using starting pitchers as relievers as a way to squeeze them onto a major league roster – as long as it’s temporary. And the temptation to keep a successful starter-turned-closer in the bullpen is one the Reds have proven incapable of resisting. I’m afraid we’ll see it with Michael Lorenzen.

      • You’re not wrong on the “reliable veteran middle reliever”. If such a mythical beast exists he’d almost certainly be a former starter, a reminder of the fate we’d be hoping to avoid. The only one that comes to mind is of course a former starter and a former Red – Travis Wood. Not a huge priority I agree but with this stockpile of young arms I fear for the fate of some promising arms, with Michael Lorenzen at the top of that list, a list named in honor of a flame throwing Cuban…

      • Williams has all but committed publicly to signing sooner rather than later an additional catcher he would be comfortable with in at least a backup role on the MLB team.

        Although I saw one side quote where DW alluded it would be nice if the guy signed could cover another position from time to time, I think the type of player DW signs for his additional catcher is likely to be a tip off to what they really believe they will get out of Mesoraco this year. If the guy is a journeyman MLB receiver who comes in on an MiLB contract (possibly with a 60 day walk away clause) they neutral to positive on Meso. If the guy is signed to an MLB contract, they are anticipating not getting a lot from Mesoraco.

  3. Good stuff Steve. I especially agree about going with internal candidates for the bullpen. I’d say a bullpen of Iglesias, Lorenzen, Cingrani, Wood, Diaz, and Sampson is a good start. Guys like Adelman, Astin, Weiss, or Peralta will be good enough to round it out. Maybe a few minor league signings for the pen and hope someone catches lightning in a bottle.

    I’d try everything I can to trade Cozart and Phillips this offseason. And like you said, be open to trades for other players teams may be high on that aren’t entrenched into the team’s future plans.

    Beyond that, I’d explore trading one of Reed, Stephenson, Garrett for an impact OF bat. In an ideal world we could wait and see who we would want to trade of the three. But that also gives other clubs opportunity to do the same. With Romano and Davis at AAA for depth I’d explore trades this offseason and see what offers are out there.

    • I’m not sure that I can think of many teams that would be looking to acquire an unproven pitcher for an “impact OF bat” at this point in the offseason. Unless that player is older and/or expensive at which point the Reds shouldn’t be targeting him anyway. (Not saying this type of trade isn’t possible, I just can’t see any plausible options out there right now)

      I would instead consider trading DeSclafani for near-ready prospects or pre-arbitration players that could be that impact bat. Reasons I think this could be a good move:
      1. This is a very weak free agent class for starting pitchers.
      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/03/2016-17-mlb-free-agents.html
      2. The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Astros and Rangers are teams that expect to contend next year, have a need for starting pitching and have young hitters that are either pre-arb or still in the minors.
      3. The Reds could still field a solid starting rotation with some combination of Bailey, Finnegan, Straily, Reed, Garrett, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Stephenson, etc.

      DeSclafani’s combination of youth, relative low cost, and MLB success may interest one of these teams more so than any other options on the market.

      • So, basically you are saying they if could get enough more return for DeSclafani they should flip him instead of Straily since both figure to be first year arb eligible after 2017. Maybe move one now and the other at the deadline if the younger pitchers are kicking the door down? But I wouldn’t move either for short value at this point.

        • I’m saying that DeSclafani is the possible trade trip that could demand the highest return with the Reds still having the potential depth to replace him.
          If the Red Sox call Dick Williams and say “we want either Straily or DeSclafani. we’ll give you a talented young position player in return,” then you obviously send them Straily and keep Disco.
          My point is that other teams can see the same advanced stats that we can and will likely not offer as good of a return for Straily as they will for DeSclafani. If we want the highest possible trade return while still having the potential depth to cover the position, DeSclafani is the guy to trade.

      • I’m looking to trade prospects for prospects. Like a Reed/Stephenson/Garrett for a Bradley Zimmer/Tyler Verdugo/Tyler O’Neill type (those guys all rank between 25-60 on MLB). I should have been more clear. Risk on both sides due to unknowns. Just looking to match up with a team that has a big prospect bat to trade a big prospect pitcher for. It may be unrealistic, and bats tend to be worth a little more in the current market, but I’d certainly explore it this year, especially while all that prospect shine ins’t off them completely yet.

      • I absolutely agree with your suggestion here. The Reds are not going to compete next year and probably not in 2018 either. (Are you noticing that the time stated when the FO believes they can compete – by this I mean competing for a playoff spot – keeps getting pushed off into the future. It was 2017/2018 then 2018, and then I saw that DW stated 2018/19.) It takes a while to complete a rebuild. You have to expect a typical player to get 1-2 seasons under their belt before they can really excel in the major leagues (if they can excel). For the Reds it should be all about accumulating as many top 150 prospects as they can get their hands on. This will help create the depth in position players and bench that they never had in their last competitive window.

        I think Desclafani and Iglesias (if they really don’t think he will ever be a starter)should be traded now to get maximum value in return. Not much of a return can be expected from Straily/Phillips/Cozart. If they time it right, they could also get some value back for either Duvall or Schebler after Cespedes/Fowler/Batista/Desmond come off the free agency board. Forget the bullpen this offseason, make it a tryout for your young starting pitching who don’t quite make the rotation in Spring training. Maximizing these trades now and maximizing your draft position in 2018 along with playing the mlb-ready players you have already obtained should be the goal in 2016-2017. Don’t rest with what you have; some and maybe even most of the current young players will probably prove to be good utility players/bench bats but not worthy of starting everyday. So, keep churning it to get even more and better players.

      • The reasons you cite for DeSclafani’s value as a trade chip can also be seen as reasons to keep him. The Reds’ need for hitting doesn’t negate their need for a solid pitching staff, and DeSclafani is getting close to being proven; the other guys are not (Bailey only because of the health issue). A team that always trades young major league talent for prospects is a team that is always rebuilding and not going for it. It’s a balance, of course: a team should always be rebuilding, but not at the expense of fielding players with a chance to win the whole shebang.

        • I agree that ideally the Reds would be attempting to field a playoff contender while also building for the future. At this point in the rebuild I would be targeting a near major league ready prospect. One that could be up in the big leagues in the second half of 2017 with the hope of being part of a contending team in 2018.

          I also agree with the need for a balance between hitting and pitching on the big league club.

          I’m saying that if the team wants to improve offensively (probably a corner outfielder) it seems reasonable to trade Disco and move forward with a rotation that consists of Bailey, Finnegan, Straily, Reed, Garrett, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Stephenson, etc.

          They could also decide that they are comfortable with Winker, Schebler and Duvall in the outfield corners and keep DeSclafani to anchor the rotation. If they want to improve the offense though, I don’t think that any other trade chip we have would bring back the kind of return we need.

  4. “The Reds have to give each one a fair and complete tryout and evaluate them objectively.”

    I would not completely disagree, but i feel like the idea that we need to promote players to the MLB and watch them play for an extended period to know what types of players they will become is an idea that stems mostly from the fan perspective. From the GMs perspective, there are trusted people in the organization and in baseball that have been watching and determining what types of players these guys will be since they were 18 years old. Even younger in some cases. But since we haven’t seen them on TV none of have really had that opportunity to pass judgement on these guys. So there’s a feeling of dissatisfaction when a guy like Lorenzon becomes a bullpen guy before we’ve made up OUR minds about him, or when a guy like Chris Heisey becomes a utility player rather than a starter, or when Yonder Alonso or Mesorcaco isn’t given an OPPORTUNITY in left field. Obviously, it’s an imperfect science, but this ongoing idea that there are 9 or 10 guys that are going to pitch in the MLB long enough for EVERY FAN to evaluate whether they are a MLB starter, bullpen, or neither…it’s not going to happen. Some guys are gonna get an opportunity to start, some to relieve, and some neither and we’re all going to grumble and complain.

    • Yonder Alonso got a brief tryout in Left Field before he was traded and was terrible. That’s why they didn’t keep him

  5. this ANYTHING tidbit is funny:

    With the possible departures of Iglesias and Blake Wood, there could some rather inexperienced pitchers in set-up roles for the Reds.

    Iglesias is going nowwhere unless as CFD suggests you get a large large barge haul in return

    I like the idea of Cozart being a utility back up

    We talk about trading him and then say that we need exactly a Cozart type player on the bench. Keep him unless you are overwhelmed with the trade. Just be clear with your manager that Peraza has to get 500 abs at SS. past that, use Cozart however you like to win games

    Mesoraco not ever playing in the outfield for the last 5 years may even be a bigger walt mistake than Chapman

    2017 will be a lot of fun as a lot of guys are trying to prove themselves and need to as Steve points out to see what we have go forward.

    I think one of those brilliant moves might be moving Duvall to a team like the Orioles as theorized by their need and seeing what Devin and Tucker could do with some outfield platoon when they are not catching, or in Mesoraco’s case maybe even a full time move there knowing that he could be your emergency catcher go forward

    Sorry for the Cubs like thinking, I will return to the roses are red, violets are blue, theres no need to see colors any other way than the way they always have been seen

    Ecclesiastes to Harry Chapin, my day is good

    thanks for the read Steve

    • Maybe it was flowers are, green trees are green

      Can’t remember now, guess I will have to dig out the LP

    • Any move this winter to trade Duvall is risky and would require a premium return, and therefore unlikely. If he paces for 35-40 bombs in the first half again this year, with GG caliber defense, his arc changes from one year wonder to potential late bloomer All star no? I’m just not sure we’d get the return for that this offseason. We might after 250 ABs next season, but then are we trading away a guy who will produce 3-5 WAR for the next 5 years?

    • Cozart is going to cost (much) more than bench money this season unless he is nontendered by somebody first; and, he isn’t likely to sign for 2018 (as a free agent) at a bench money rate. This makes him superfluous to the Reds current needs.

      I also see two performance issues with him as a utility guy. To my knowledge, he’s never played an inning in MLB anywhere aside from SS. Just because he was at one time a top defensive shortstop, it doesn’t necessarily follow he would be competent at 3B, 2B, or an OF spot at age 31. Secondly, the utility guy is the guy who has to be physically sound to go at the drop of a hat when somebody else can’t. What we saw last season leaves it open to question whether Cozart would measure up on that count also.

  6. The sorting out should have occurred in 2016. Only Dilson Herrera was obtained at the July trade deadline. More sorting out. Sigh!!!!!!
    This puts The Re-build behind by 1/2 a season to a season. It appears as though The Re-Build is nothing more than Perpetual and Perennial Sorting. The only certainties with this plan is Votto at 1B and BHam for about 125 games a year in CF.
    Not much was settled in 2016 that should have been. Injuries played a part in that. Front Office mismanagement played a larger role.
    2017 could be a year of chasing a wild card spot. But with this plan of more sorting out, a contending team by 2019 is a reach.
    Sounds like more of the old Walt Jocketty dance of Standing Pat.

    • Agree about the middle infield situation. But it’s clear the young pitchers weren’t ready in 2017. The Reds did try them. Even if the position players had been handled properly last year, the combination of injuries and lack of development would have made competing in 2017 too unlikely to go all-in.

      • The injuries to DeSclafani, Iglesias, Lamb and Lorenzen at the start of the season just cut off the development right at the knees. Only DeSclafani was able to make it back to the rotation soundly.

    • A lot could depend on where the wildcard bar settles in this year. If things work well for the Reds over the 1st half and a WC run seems plausible, they can make moves in late July to deal themselves in.

      However any moves they make mid season should also be of the sort to help them in 2018 and beyond.

  7. The point that was implied but was not stated is more relevant . . . . there is absolutely no payroll flexibility! With the reduced attendance and the lack of a real increase in TV revenue, this team has basically spent its money. Even if we trade BP, we are not trading the money. I expect that we will pay 8-10 million of his salary. The question of what we SHOULD do is really what ELSE COULD we do, nothing?

    • This is overly pessimistic. The increase in TV revenues start in 2018. Not sure why you think they aren’t real. The club spent tens of millions this year in ways (draft, international) that they won’t be spending in 2018 and beyond. They’ve cut payroll by trading Cueto, Bruce, Frazier, Chapman etc. Phillips goes off completely in 2018. Mesoraco the year after that and Bailey the year after that. Even if the TV contract – in the short run – just makes up for the decrease in attendance, why wouldn’t the Reds be able to spend what they did a few years ago?

    • WV and Gaffer,

      You both point out reasons why contending in 2019 is the more likely outcome for the Reds. Minor improvement in 2017, maybe .500 in 2018.

      The list of teams in their prime or “win now” in the NL isn’t small. Better to fully sort out the young, controllable talent, even at the expense of waiting another year to add pieces and try to contend.

      The Reds just don’t have the margin for error that other franchises do, and there are no indications that the new CBA is going to level the financial playing field.

  8. The elephant in the room to me is Phillips. Cozart can be a very useful piece as a 3 headed middle IF monster with Herrera and Peraza. We need Phillips gone to make that a possibility.

    Short of that, we have to know that Cozart won’t fetch a cost controlled position player of any value, but he would fetch a quality cost controlled relief pitcher. I would be open to such a trade in order to give Lorenzen a legit shot at starting.

    • I think folks are remembering the pre knee surgery defensive Cozart combined with the guy who had the hot 2-3 months at the plate and not the guy trying to play on 1 leg in July and August before being shutdown in September.

      I said above how I view Cozart as a bench guy.

      I hope I’m surprised; but, in trade, I don’t think they’ll get much more than a token mid level prospect for him.

  9. Dick Williams said that Cozart could fill a role with the Reds: “Cozart can be part of grooming players and part of a winning clubhouse.” That’s Williams dutifully nudging up Cozart’s trade value.

    I guess DW is saying he’s prepared to hold onto Cozart than let him go for little to nothing in hopes that makes somebody more inclined to sweeten their offer for him. But the statement does confuse me a bit as it seems strange to try and build the trade value of someone who has always been a regular by basically announcing he is not going to be a regular in 2017 if he stays in Cincy..

    • ohiojimw, that’s exactly what Williams is saying. I don’t see us getting good value for either Cozart or Phillips. Cozart=bcuz he has an injury history but I can see getting a little more value for Cozy than BP. Phillips=Bcuz he’s in his mid-30’s, will probably play only 1-3 more yrs & who’s defense is supposedly declining. I see being “stuck” with both of them, but especially BP. But I don’t consider it being stuck with them. I’d like to see BP finish his career with Cincinnati.

  10. I said this during the season and I still feel that playing Cozart and Phillips serves no purpose at all unless you want to continue to block others from auditioning.We found out about most of our young pitchers because of all the injuries but little or none at all about some of our young position players especially at second and short.Lets hope we don’t do that again in 2017.Finding out who can or can’t not only helps this year but it goes so far in determining what players could be traded to make the team better.It appears we could have a log jam of middle infielders which is a good thing but only if you can trade to strengthen an area of weakness.Please let the young guys play.

  11. With Phillips, you can try and trade him in the off-season, but who would want him…and would he accept the deal? Last year when we heard the nats were interested it seemed that was the best opportunity for him to make one or two more post-season runs and reunited him with a manager he respected in Baker. If he wouldn’t approve that trade, it become difficult to imagine one he would.

    If you have to burn 14 mil to have him ride pine and play on get-away days then thats what you do. Perhaps by mid-season, a team looking to build depth or cover an injury might come knocking, but at that point all you may get is a PBTNL. Which would be a fitting bookend to Brandon’s Cincy career, since that is similar to how he came here.

    • But who would want him? He is locked for one Year, and hit 290, and yes his ‘D’ has slipped but still is good. A lot of Teams if the reds pay some of the 14 or give him away.

      • Of 2B with at least 300 plate appearances, *thirty* had higher fWAR than Phillips did last year. Phillips another year older in 2017. Hard to find a match.

        To work a trade and get a medium prospect back, expect Reds to eat all or most of Phillips’ salary. Even then, it may not happen.

  12. One needs only to look at the Philadelphia 76’ers and Joel Embid to see the new world order with handling injured players. He is on a minutes restriction and a games restriction. He isn’t happy either. Wins be damned. We saw it with Iggy and Lorenzen the last few months and we will see it with Mesoraco and Homer in 2017. We will see the Reds sign a 3rd catcher and that makes sense….There will be many times Mesoraco simply isn’t available. The Reds also aren’t making the playoffs….so its a year of transition…While we all want Phillips and Cozart to go….they wont go on our timetable. The first half of the year will seem a lot like the last half of 2016. I wonder if Homer stays back in Goodyear in April….he isn’t throwing 200 innings anyway and Straily has earned more innings and Garret and Stephenson need to prove themselves with major league innings.

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