Reds general manager Dick Williams thinks you should be optimistic about the upcoming season:

“The last couple of years, we were preaching that we would have to make tough decisions, trade players, restock the system,” Reds general manager Dick Williams said. “I think people are starting to see the fruits of that labor. They’re starting to feel a little closer to the fun part where we start to contend again. You look around the diamond and the staff, there are question marks, but they’re question marks that are surrounding young, talented players. Those are the kinds of question marks you want to have, because you’ve got big upside.

“It comes with risk, but this is the point we were hoping to get to. We’re starting to get some of these exciting young players opportunities. This year, we’ll learn about what those guys can do.”

Okay, I can buy that. Williams is basically saying that this is a season for sorting. As a fan, I generally try to believe that the glass is half-full. Baseball is a diversion, so I have difficulty working up the anger that you see about the state of the Reds in some other corners of the interwebs.

I guess it’s true that I’m “starting to feel a little closer to the fun part where we start to contend again.” I don’t think I’m wearing rose-colored glasses when I say that things would have to go terribly, terribly wrong for the 2017 season to be as dismal as the last two years.

So yeah, I’m optimistic. How about you?

The remainder of Mark Sheldon’s piece that I linked above is an attempt to answer five of “the biggest questions the Reds face.” Those questions are:

1. Where will Jose Peraza play?
2. Who will complete the rotation?
3. Who will close?
4. Can Mesoraco still catch?
5. Can Hamilton build on his second half and stay healthy?

You can check out what Sheldon had to say about each of those questions here, and I’d be very interested in hearing your answers. Here are my quick responses:

1. Where will Jose Peraza play? If Jose Peraza isn’t the starting shortstop, you can safely ignore Dick Williams’ comments (see above) about making tough decisions. We’ll know very early in the season whether the Reds are serious about moving the organization forward by which names are primarily on the lineup card at shortstop and second base. If Peraza and Dilson Herrera (or even Eugenio Suarez) aren’t in those spots on most nights, then Reds management is not willing to make the tough decisions necessary to move this rebuild forward. And that will be a crime.

2. Who will complete the rotation? By mid-June, I predict that the Reds’ rotation will consist of Anthony Desclafani, Homer Bailey, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, and Amir Garrett, with Dan Straily (and possibly Robert Stephenson) working out of the bullpen in Cincinnati. That’s presuming good health, which is a lot to presume.

3. Who will close? Who cares? Give the job to Tom Hume for all I care.

4. Can Mesoraco still catch? Yes. Can he still catch more than 50% of the games? Until proven otherwise, I’ll be skeptical.

5. Can Hamilton build on his second half and stay healthy? Yes, obviously. Billy Hamilton is probably the greatest player in the history of this franchise. Deal with it.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 121 Comments

  1. I am skeptical of Cody Reed being the top drawer starter that some believe he will be. Maybe someday. He has a good arm. But he has location problems. Ditto Stephenson.

    I am optimistic that the Reds will be better than last year. Their pitching was terrible the first two months, and below average the rest of the year. Who starts, how well they pitch, and how the bull pen is made up will determine if they win 70 games or can reach Wild Card status (or at least get close). If their pitching is actually good, anything could happen. There is some real potential there if some young guys step up.

    Who actually closes, in and of itself is maybe not that important, but who makes up the bullpen and how well they pitch is plenty important.

  2. Optimistic over a mediocre team? Lose 94 games then do NOTHING to improve the team in the offseason except spew “GM” speak? Walt Jocketty taught Mr. Williams well.

    • What is it that you would like done to improve the team? The only obvious things that need done are trade BP and Cozart, but that is going to be difficult to accomplish

      • Trading Cozart and Phillips is difficult only if you don’t try. Eat some money and take a mediocre prospect for Phillips. Take a mediocre prospect for Cozart. This can be done. I think Williams wants to keep them going into the season and move them in July.

        • I think their trying harder than you think and there just aren’t any takers for either. I think Cozart is more movable than BP at this point, however I think a so-so prospect is all they can expect. Moving BP will be very hard. I think they’d actually have to eat over half his salary, plus they’d probably need to fork over some money to get him to waive his no-trade clause. I don’t see BP going anywhere.

          It will be interesting to see if the Reds do what many suggest and that is to release him. I’d be stunned if they did but I would be one of the few around here to disagree with such a move. I do agree however that doing so would be a sure sign that the Reds are serious about giving the young pieces playing time.

        • Ya know Big Bob is Dick Williams boss…..if DW came into my office and told me he wanted me to eat $14,000,000 my first question to him would be “do you know how many carrots I have to sell to make $14,000,000?? “

      • It’s not obvious to you that the pitching staff is a wreck?

        • It’s not obvious to me.

        • Agreed, pitching staff leaves a lot to be desired. Disco should be solid, Homer is always a question mark with his health, Finnegan/Stephenson/Reed have a ton to prove, especially Reed who was awful last season, Straily will regress to the mean, and Amir is a complete unknown. Not to mention they had the worst bullpen in MLB last season that will still run Cingrani out there who can’t pitch at night or in high leverage situations. It’s not far fetched or unreasonable to be skeptical about this staff going into 2017, they all have a lot to prove…hopefully they all look more like Rijo, Browning, and Jackson and less like Haynes, Dessens, and Wilson.

        • No it is not obvious. There are question marks, and it could be a complete disaster, but we won’t know until we give the young guys a chance

    • 2016 opening day roster included JJ Hoover, Alfredo Simon, Ross Ohlendorf, Caleb Cotham, and Jordan Pacheco. They will not be here in 2017. Just not having them around makes me optimistic.

  3. I had this laid out for another article but I think I’ll plug it in here….to maybe show a little more reason for optimism and just to show I don’t really hate Joey Votto 🙂 .There’s stat on Baseball Prospectus called OBI% I like to follow,real simple stuff % of runners on base in front of a hitter he drives in.In 2010 Joey Votto OBI was 19.5%….that’s the MVP Joey Votto I remember.In 2011 that softened a little to17%….in 2012 softened a little more to 16%.Then JV is injured middle of 2012…SLG% and my OBI’s both take a big hit OBI% down 11% in 2013.Not enough PA in 2014 for a stat….but in 2015 OBI starts to rise again to 14% and in 2016 gets back to a stellar 18%.That’s what I’m looking for from JV….drive the ball with men on base.If he can get back to that,even Marty Brennaman will sing his praises 🙂

    • I don’t know… Marty Brennaman had some good things to say about him towards the end of last season but then was basically ripping his contract (and a fan trying to defend it) on the “Hot Stove League” show just the other day.

      • I heard that and that’s a shame,MB let his emotions get the better of him.But he does have a history of that…called Cub’s fans the “most obnoxious fans in baseball”,think he later apologized for that.And MB and Joe Nuxhall had to appear before BB commissioner in 1988 for almost inciting a riot at Riverfront after Pete Rose and umpire Dave Palone got into it.But I will have to admit last few years he has gotten worse with his criticism.He needs to back off from that….nobody likes a cranky old man…

  4. You stated……..”5. Can Hamilton build on his second half and stay healthy? Yes, obviously. Billy Hamilton is probably the greatest player in the history of this franchise. Deal with it.”

    What have you been smoking? I had to read that several times to make sure I was correctly reading what it said.

    Hamilton the greatest player in the history of this franchise? You have got to be kidding. I’ll concede this….Hamilton probably is the fastest player in the history of the franchise, although it would be very interesting to see a race between him and former Reds outfielder Deion Sanders. At Riverfront Stadium, I witnessed Sanders going first to third on an infield single, and he went into third base standing up. I have no doubt that Hamilton could do the same thing, in the same situation.

  5. Chad…Dan Straily lead all starters in 2016 in games pitched,innings pitched and WHIP…was second in W/L%…second in ERA .You got a guy durable enough to pitch an entire season and good enough to keep you in most games.Why would you want to put him in Pen?

    • Because he gets beat out for his spot by better pitchers

      • Gotta think Straily is a starter and Reed bullpen, until he can show he belongs. Garrett may start. We’ll see if he stays. Hope so.

      • The number one prerequisite for being a starter is being able to pitch 200 IP per season.Who else do you see on this teams can you count on to fill that order? Now Chad did say mid-June so maybe the devil is in the details here but IMHO you put Straily in starting rotation on April 3 and you ride that horse until he stumbles….

        • 200 bad to mediocre IPs? No thanks. I’d rather take my chances on the young guys. They’ve got to play and improve if the Reds have any hope of mattering in the future. You plug Strailey in the rotation and you’ll be headed toward the dark days of ’01-’09.

        • well to be honest about it…I’m good either way with Straily but starters have more value (especially to this club) so IMHO you keep him in SR until he shows you he shouldn’t be there.And I never viewed him as bad or mediocre…Vega down below describes him as an innings eater along same lines as Bronson Arroyo and I think those types of pitchers are valuable.They may not have flashy stats but they can usually can keep you in the game while pitching a decent amount of innings….manager doesn’t have to go to his BP early.DS just turned 28 a few weeks ago so he’s really in his prime years now and you got him cheap and under club control….he’s kinda guy I’d roll the dice on until I got snake eyes 🙂

        • I agree. Although his underlying metrics suggest he due for a regression, you have to keep him in the rotation at least until he proves that maybe he shouldn’t be starting on this team after all. To me, that means 15 starts or so before there is a chance I’d send him to the pen. Unless he’s just absolutely horrible and one of the young guys are banging on the door.

    • I like Straily. But I think the rotation will so much improved that he’ll be pushed out.

      In short, the Reds will have five more talented starters than Straily in 2017, IMO. And if that comes to pass, it’s great news.

      • I get ya….good problem to have in my book, a group of guys competing for same position always works to teams advantage.Wanted to tell you too how much I liked the picture of Marty and Joe,obviously back in their younger days.Makes me smile every time I see it 🙂

  6. Spending money on a team that isn’t going to win doesn’t make any sense at all. I am optimistic I like seeing the young guys develop and I like to see BP for one more year. He came to reds and stayed when no one wanted to be here.

  7. I can’t be optimistic now. I have to see an actual change in approach first. The litmus test will be who starts at SS and 2B. If Phillips doesn’t want to leave, he can ride the pine. Will the Reds do that? I’m highly doubtful.

    The other test will be the “veteran leadership” test. Experience has taught me that the Reds will sift the MLB dumpsters for a veteran outfielder and a starter. The starter will give up more HRs than SO and have an ERA > 10 before being quietly cut around the all star break.

    I don’t care if the Reds lose 150 games in 2017 as long as they are preparing for the future. If I hear one comment about “I think we can compete” then I know nothing has changed.

    • You think the Reds will cut that gas-can carrying pitcher? You have more optimism than I.

  8. Chad-First off, nice job trying to get the BHam pie fight going again. On your side though-Love Billy

    I’m on the optimistic side. But for me “success” for 2017 doesn’t necessarily mean playoffs but instead steps forward for BHam, Peraza, Stephenson, Reed, Finnegan, etc. And solid “beginnings” Herrara and Garrett. Put me in the hope Homer can actually pitch and they can deal him at mid-season camp. Great way to add more young talent. If I had one wish it would be Mez comes back strong. Kid deserves a break.

    • If BHam, Peraza, Stephenson, Reed and Finnegan all take steps forward then we are in the playoffs

      Mesoraco will be fine

      I am really curious to see what 2017 Schlebler is

      • I’m not sold on Reed. Finding a changeup after the ASG showed me that Finnegan might be able to continue in the rotation. Stephenson is the Reds Nuke Laloosh. While I like Peraza, my Spider senses are tingling, same for Bill the Kid.

      • We talk about Peraza, Herrera, and others…but Duvall/Schebler in 2017 are two of the biggest questions facing the Reds. Will either or both of those guys earn a spot on the 2018-2020 rosters, in some capacity?

  9. I would be a lot more optimistic in another division.

    Cubs, Cards, and Pirates are all stocked with young talent and have savvy front offices that rarely misstep.

    Why is “Where will Jose Peraza play” even a question? That is kinda worrying in and of itself.

    • Already the second-best hitter on the team…I agree, this is worrying. I wouldn’t be concerned if the Reds track record of going by the “Managing baseball for dummies” playbook the past decade.

    • If the Reds don’t bench Phillips at this point it will be pathetic.

  10. No, The Reds can’t be a winner with the present roster of players. Too many injuries to key players. No Closer, doesn’t have a stopper, And many of the players are only Red Legs because no other team wanted them. So we will keep going to see a team we know will loose

    • Only a perfect storm of good health AND several breakout rookies/second year players that go above and beyond any projections…extremely highly unlikely. I see another 90 loss season, but like others, I just want to see the young guys playing AND looking like they’ve been coached and motivated. Adding another pitch, improving control, taking more pitches out of the zone, better angles fielding, more difficult outs at the plate, etc.

      • I can’t see the Reds winning for years. Ownership has brought this franchise to it’s knees with terrible decisions. Still need more contact hitters, though that is getting better. Pitching is pathetic. Anyone thinking the Reds can compete in the next 3 years is fooling themselves.

  11. I’m with Chad on #1 and #3. On #4, I actually worry more about Mesoraco’s hitting than the physical demands of catching. But a healthy spoonful of skepticism is called for on both fronts. On #2, I don’t believe the Reds will move Straily to the bullpen, but they should (or trade him). The scariest aspect of the off-season proclamations by the FO and Price has been their certitude toward Straily and Finnegan having jobs in the starting rotation. On #5, Hamilton had seven solid weeks of hitting after the All-Star Game (wRC+ 94). His 14 weeks at the plate prior to the ASG were awful (wRC+ 66). His AB did at times look better after the break. It would be a huge plus for the Reds if Hamilton can sustain his post-ASG production over an entire year.

    Overall, I’m optimistic in the sense that Chad is. There are a few FO moves/decisions to get to that point, though.

    • I agree on Mesoraco hitting. He’s had essentially two full years of not facing major league pitching. I don’t think it’s “like riding a bike”. Even if he can catch 110-120 games, if he can’t get his hitting stroke back, he isn’t good enough defensively to even remotely make up for that.

      • Shoulder injuries and surgery can really screw up hitting timing, especially with the lead shoulder. For some hitters, it takes months to get their swing back. That’s not proof it will take Mesoraco months.

  12. I’m optimistic, but only in the sense of things are getting better, not in the sense of this team is ready to break out. But barring major injury setbacks (always a risk, but how do you even speculate on that?) I only see this team getting better. Better starting pitching with more competition from promising prospects. Better bullpen. Better outfield (and put me in the camp of “excited to see what Schebler will do”) with Hamilton maturing, Winker arriving, and Duvall and Schebler continuing to learn and improve. Better infield – assuming of course that the front office and manager don’t flinch. Better offense from the catcher’s spot – assuming Mesoraco can play at least 80 games. Better everywhere. Realistically without injury the only guys that are even moderately likely to regress are Duvall, Votto (only because the bar is so high) and Phillips who shouldn’t even be playing. So. I’m optimistic. 2017 will be a step in the right direction, and maybe many steps. Can’t wait.

  13. i am in the glass half full ranks. i think they have enough players to finish above 500 the real key is not bailey, mesoraco or even if phillips and/or cozart get traded, although i am hopeful at least one does. the real question is whether or not we can get a decent performance from the bullpen. and Chad, Hamilton may not be the best player but he sur is exciting to watch, i hope he gets to play 150+ games this year.

  14. As a die-hard Reds fan since the mid 1940’s, I’m always optimistic. And I will be especially so if Peraza and Herrera are the Reds starting double play combination with Mesoraco and Hamilton to complete the middle of the diamond.

  15. This front office suffers of lack of creativity, to say the least. Until a bold move is done, like trading Votto or getting rid of Philips/Cozart in anyway, I see better times in a very distant future.

    • I’m with you, except I don’t consider moving BP/Cozart bold. I want Williams to be bold. Make a deal, think-outside-the-box. I want him to show the fan base that a new sheriff is in town. Not a cookie-cutter version of WJ.

      Yeah, I see the movement to build an analytics department, but put those analysts to work developing trade deal options so the new GM will pull the trigger.

  16. I’m having a hard time being ‘optimistic,’ though maybe I’m less pessimistic, only because we’re one year closer to having an open middle infield, and one year closer to the arrival of St. Nick at third base.

    1. To me, the question isn’t Where will Peraza play, but Will Pereza play much at all? As long as Cozart and Phillips are on the roster, they’re going to play. And I’d rather not see Pereza in center field. We have our center fielder.

    2. I think Straily will stay in the rotation only because it is unlikely that all three of Finnegan, Reed and Garrett will be able to stay in the rotation. Straily makes a nice innings-eater. (Have there been any medical updates on Homer?)

    3. I’ll join the chorus about it being unfortunate that Lorenzen isn’t even in the mix for the rotation. Until I see the Reds demonstrating that he and Iglesias will get high-leverage use, I’m not getting my hopes up there either.

    4. If the Reds really thought they had reason to be optimistic about Mesoraco, why would they take a catcher in the Rule 5 draft? Do they envision carrying three catchers? Barnhart isn’t going anywhere, and they can’t send Mr. Rule 5 down to the minors without risking losing him.

    5. If MLB allowed players to wear superhero capes, Billy should be first in line.

  17. I would also add a sixth question:

    Where does Jesse Winker fit in the picture? I understand service time, but at some point, if he’s ready, he’s got to play. But I also think the Reds need to find out what, if anything, they have in the long term with Duvall and Schebler. Anyway ….

    • Duvall moves to RF, Winker to LF, Schebler is the 4th man.

    • I agree. Winker can be in the minors one more year because of his wrist injury and we need to find out about Duvall and Schebler. Are they every day players?

  18. Optimistic kinda a vague term here….optimistic being a .500 team? Being in the hunt for a WC spot?? Being a team that shows improvement over 2016 and with an eye toward the future Or being a team that’s not painful to watch…

  19. Optimistic about 2017? No, not really! But, then again, I’ve never really been an optimistic person. Don’t mean my viewpoints are any less important though. I’m not really all that optimistic about 2018 when the FO originally said that we’d get back to winning competitive baseball. Apparently, the FO is now hinting that it’ll be more like 2019. WTF are we supposed to believe? See, this is why I hate rebuilds. They’re unpredictable and uncertain. I just want to win again and hopefully win a WS title or 2 or 3. IMO 2, 3 or even 4 yrs is too long to wait to get back to winning. I wanna skip over all the losing but I know that’s not possible. Growing pains, yadda, yadda, yadda! And all that nonsense. I will say though that in spite of my pessimism I do believe that anything’s possible. In reality, no I don’t believe we’ll have a winning record next year, bcuz my pessimism has also made me a realist. But the Reds FO don’t really believe we’ll have a winning record next season either, so…you know, I’m not alone in that. And before y’all say anything, I know that next season isn’t about winning anyway, it’s about seeing the young players improve and the team finishing with slightly more wins than last year’s team, yadda, yadda! That’s enough for y’all I guess. It’ll have to be enough for me. I don’t have much of an opinion regarding the five questions bcuz I don’t really care right now. Like I said earlier, I just want to get back to winning. The pieces don’t really matter to me anymore bcuz I’m not gonna get emotionally invested in anymore Reds players. The holdouts from the Previous version of the Reds (Votto, Cozart, Phillips & Bailey) will be the last ones for me. But any of the new Reds (and future new Reds) I will root to do good for us while they’re wearing a Reds uniform in the hopes of winning championships. But that’s it.

    • Sand….nobody I know saw the 1990 or 2010 season coming either,sometimes the pieces just fall into place.I’m not gonna get a second mortgage on my house and fly to Las Vegas to put down a bet but this game is wildly unpredictable…ya just never know 🙂

    • One more thing! All I heard before this rebuild was a bunch of Reds fans crying that the Reds needed to do a rebuild. And like any good parent trying to sooth a child throwing a temper tantrum the Reds FO gave you what you wanted. Before y’all jump my case, I’m not saying that the Reds FO did this rebuild solely bcuz the fans wanted it, but simply bcuz you guys wanted it and the Reds did it thereby seemingly giving y’all what you wanted. But here’s the part that gets me! Now that the Reds are actually doing this rebuild, all I’ve heard and/or seen on social media, is a bunch more crying and whining about how the Reds aren’t doing the rebuild right and how they waited to long to do it! But like typical spoiled children, y’all weren’t satiated for long before the crying and whining started back up. I swear people just wanna have something to complain about or they just wanna hear themselves talk. Make up your minds people!

      • Who are “y’all”? People complain about things all the time. Maybe those folks who wants the rebuild are happy and those that didn’t are the ones complaining now? Does it make sense to complain about people complaining?

        • I suppose you could be right but the “y’all” I’m talking about are the people who’s job or hobby (or whatever) it is to cover the Reds. I wasn’t on Twitter at the time before the Reds started the rebuild but I’m sure that some of those same people I see whining about how the rebuild’s being done are some of the voices that were complaining about the need for a rebuild in the first place. I’m sure of that! Not all…but some. As far as people complaining about people complaining, MrRed…..yes, yes it does make sense. Especially since I’m so sure that these people are out there (complained about the need, then complained about how it’s being done). Somebody needs to shut them up! I’m not singling anybody out bcuz I’m not sure who they may be and they probably wouldn’t admit to doing this anyway. I’m just sure that these people are out there and have done or are still doing this complaining I’m talking about. That’s just the nature of some people. They like to hear themselves talk and like to complain.

    • Rebuilds are a pain, for sure. The only thing worse is not rebuilding. I’m optimistic that the Reds will be exciting to watch, at times, and I’m optimistic that answers to questions will begin to emerge.

    • If the trades had been handled better (i.e. getting top 5 prospects, and not settling for fringy top 10 ones), like the Braves, this rebuild would be most exciting. They settled for quantity (and MLB ready) over quality and it set back the rebuild excitement.

      The Braves have a ways to go, but I’d take their top 10 prospects over ours and probably would only keep 2 Reds players if you combined prospects for a top 10 list. The White Sox are doing the same this year in their rebuild. I just wish the Reds had gotten 4 players to go in their own top 8 list in trades, but they didn’t.

      I am not omptimistic, but I am not cynical either. I see a plodding franchise, with some solid young players, no stars in the making, and a likely .500-ish team for the better part of the next decade, barring massive injuries or some miracle breakout of an Ace pitcher.

  20. 1.) I am optimistic Peraza with get 550 at bats and play because Cozart still has some trade value. I am beyond pessimistic and indeed, I think its naïve to think, Brandon Phillips wont start at 2b and get the majority of innings at 2b. Dilson Herrera will be in Louisville. The Reds narketers are afraid of BP and his tantrums and want his career to end well with the Reds preserve their brand and future bobblehead days and HOF weekends. What Brandon wants, Brandon will get because the sands in the hourglass continue to fall and the Reds will be patient.
    2.) I am optimistic that Amir Garrett will be a solid rookie starter and compete for ROY. I am pessimistic on Bob Steve and pessimistic that Cody Reed can make the club out of spring training as a starter. I am optimistic Reed could be a good lefty reliever by summer and important pitcher for the Reds in 2018.
    3.) I am optimistic that Tony Cingrani will be more effective and the Lorenzen/Iglesias/Wood/Cingrani and a tbd young pitcher will make for a better bullpen. I have no good reason to be optimistic about TG other then pitchers/catchers report next month and hope springs eternal, lefties are unpredictable, and his career is on the line.
    4.) I am optimistic Mesoraco can catch 2 days a week in April and May and make progress.
    5.) I am optimistic that Joey Votto made Billy Hamilton a better hitter but pessimistic he can play more than 120 games.

  21. Cautiously optimistic but also realistic. We haven’t done anything.

  22. 2017 is truly about the future not our record as Sheldon’s questions imply. How well Reed, Stephenson and Garrett develop will go a long way in determining whether we contend in 2018. The decision does not need to be made quickly as 2017 is a “season of sorting.” A lot will be determined in addition to starting pitching, The question of where will peraza play SHOULD BE SS! There is an argument to be made of cozart building his trade value and being traded prior to the trade deadline, but the cost of delay in the development of peraza and Herrera is too high I believe. The closer will be determined this year. Mesoraco needs to be able to be a positive to make 2018 a contending season and Billy needs to be continuing to improve at the plate (thank you Joey Votto).

    I would add, will there be a trade? to the list of questions for 2017. I can’t wait for it all to start!

  23. Am I optimistic? Its January. Spring Training is just around the corner. Of course I’m optimistic. This is our year, baby. Wire to Wire. Mark it down: WIRE. TO. WIRE.

  24. Last year began at an all-time optimistic low for me entering the season. I don’t think we have bats too compete in our division. Duvall will have a big say on how we do offensively.

  25. I’m optimistic that the team record will improve from 2016. That’s not a very high bar. but, to be better, certain things have to happen. 1 BP has got to be moved. 2 cozart also. I’d like to see both bob/steve and reed start the season in the bullpen. start bailey, garrett, straily, Disco and Lorenzen. look for Votto to be great again, for B Ham and Paraza to improve. I look for Duvall to have another good year, and curious to see what they do with winkler. I’m less optimistic about Mes, but if he could catch a starter once every five days and pinch hit, i’d be extremely optimistic.

  26. Am I optimistic they will be better than last year? Yeah probably, as long as people stay relatively healthy I think that’s a fair expectation.

    Although, it’s hard for me to invest in this year’s team, or the rebuild taking the next step, as long as both Phillips and Cozart are on this team. I understand there is virtually no market at the moment and Philips has no-trade rights. But at some point you have to create a market. There has to be some team willing to take one of them on for free, right? I mean the Reds have cut salary enough that they could pay the entire salary if someone was willing to take one. Cozart brings good value in the field, and some offense, and Phillips will probably settle just under average for both. Bigger albatross contracts for worse players have been moved in previous off-seasons, surely something can be worked out. If not, it will be a real litmus test to see if the FO is serious about opening up playing time if neither can be moved before the season starts. If both are still on the roster opening day, the FO and Dick Williams have failed their first true test.

    So, I’m not optimistic that we’ll see Peraza with an everyday starting position on the field, and definitely not optimistic at this point that Herrera will start in the majors (although that wouldn’t be as bad).

    I’m also not optimistic that Duvall will repeat his numbers from last year, or that Peraza can carry that high of a BA consistently. I’m not optimistic we’ll ever see a return to form for Bailey and Mesoraco. I’m not optimistic that Hamilton will stay on the field for 150 games.

    I am optimistic on Finnegan’s pitch repertoire expanding and in his ability to continue starting. I’m optimistic that Votto will put up MVP type numbers again. I’m optimistic that Disco is a TOR type pitcher that will continue to improve. I’m optimistic that Scott Schebler can make positive contributions to the Reds this year and solidify a corner OF spot, at least in a platoon role. I’m optimistic that Jesse Winker will debut and demonstrate more power than he did last year while still keeping a strong OBP and BA. I’m optimistic that Iglesias and Lorenzen will solidify the backend of the bullpen and it will be a lot better than last year. I’m optimistic that Suarez will continue to improve in the field and at the plate.

    So really, it’s a mixed bag. I would feel a lot better about things if we could actually move onto the next step in the rebuild rather than sit in this holding pattern.

  27. Desclafani,Finnegan,Straily,and Bailey are the core starters . Why not add to the bullpen with two , maybe Travis Wood being one, sign a veteran catcher because we will definitely need one. Don’t do anything with Cozart but play him three games a week while you are not putting any pressure on Herrera. Let Phillips be a late innings replaces event until someone inquires about him. The fish starter should be someone between Stephenson, Garrett, Reed, Addleman. Whichever doesn’t make it in the rotation then put them in the bullpen. The best thing they could do would be getting two middle relievers.

    • I think Wood would already be signed if he wanted to be in a bullpen somewhere. He wants to start again and is holding out for that opportunity. If he has to settle for a bullpen spot with someone, it’s going to be a contender and not the Reds though.

  28. What a stupid article


  30. I wouldn’t be nearly so bullish on Straily as a lot of people here. The only reason he looks as good as he does is because his average on balls in play was REALLY low last year. Like, low in an almost impossible way. I’d start him out in the rotation because he’s shown he can eat innings, but I’d also be aware that last year is unlikely to be duplicated and be ready to slide him into relief when a young guy is ready.

    One thing I also don’t understand around here is the tendency of some to assume high-ceiling young players who had a rough go in their first time should be consigned to lesser roles while journeymen who have surprising year have clearly figured it out and should be counted on to duplicate last year’s performance.

    The younger a player is, the more likely he is to improve. The older he is, the more likely he is to decline. This is baseball fact. You’ll do a lot better betting on the prospect who hiccuped than the journeyman with one improbably good year.

  31. If high OBP hitters, Winker and Senzel are playing in Cincinnati by July and Williams deals to fortify the pitching, then this might be a competitive club.

    • if you think Senzel can jump from A-ball last year to MLB in July… you’re more optimistic than anybody else here

      • Even if he can, we need to sort out where everyone else will play in the infield. Peraza, Herrera, Suarez all need playing time this year. They still have Alfredo Rodriguez who they spent a bunch on, and will be ready 18-19.

        • We all hope that the $$$ dished out to Rodriguez turns out to be well spent, but the kid didn’t show anything last season to indicate that a goal of being major-league ready by 2018-2019 comes anywhere close to realistic, even in a utility role.

  32. For me, sorting on the pitching side is more important — and more jumbled — than the position players. Not optimistic, but hopeful that Lorenzen, Garrett, Reed, and Stephenson get long looks in spring training for securing a rotation spot.

  33. Nothing to be optimistic about unless you like coming in 4th place and taking what 6 years to build the best farm system that has no bonafide superstars within sight. The Reds should have a top 5 farm system by now and they arent even top 10 material.

    • You don’t know who the superstars will be when they’re in the minors.

    • They have been named among the teams with the most improved farm systems each of the last 2 years though.

  34. Optimistic? Have BP and Cozart been moved yet? Is Mez healthy yet? Have the Reds made a trade this offseason to prematurely “sort” thru the 100 pitching candidates they have?

    The bullpen has not been addressed. I don’t want to watch 5-6 innings of a great game and the have the pen blow it, like it has done for the past 3 seasons.

    Is Jesse Winker part of the 2017 plan? Nick Senzel? Amir Garrett? Part of being optimistic is having exciting prospects to look forward to. I simply cannot get excited about Cody Reed or Robert Stephenson, based upon their body of work.

    I’ll begin my optimism when the actual rebuild happens. So far, it’s been a tear down, some milling about, and talk of “sorting” – whatever that is.

    • Jesse: See Jason’s comment above concerning the young guys. I imagine that rebuilds are usually incremental, if only because young players develop at different rates. The pen needs work, but it was better the second half as Iglesias and Lorenzen returned, and will likely gain strength from guys who don’t make the rotation. The team has lots of question marks, but most teams do in January, don’t they? As for trading, it seems the wrong time for a blockbuster, because they don’t know what they’ll need until they see what they have with the young guys.

      • I’m not willing to give up on Stephenson but I’m a lot more worried about him than I am Reed. Stephenson hasn’t been very good in the minors the last couple years and his rates (bb% and k%) are trending in the wrong direction too.

  35. 1) Peraza will play everywhere, Herrera will play in AAA
    2) Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan, Straily, Garrett (agree it will be mid season for Garrett)
    3) c Cingrani, c Iglesias, 8 Lorenzen, 8 Reed, 7 Stephenson, 7 ?Peralta? Swingman Addleman
    4) Yes, until he gets hurt again early in the season 🙁
    5) He can, and he will.

  36. Reds do have options for replacing Straily in starting rotation….I’m just not sure they are good ones,at least this season.Now granted….you can’t rule any of these guys out because they are young and still being developed but Amir Garrett ended his AAA season with 4 loss’s and no wins in his last 8 decisions…and in those last 8 decisions he gave up 20 earned runs and a 4.4 ERA.And in that time period he averaged a little over 5 IP per game,he has to do better than that if he wants to start.I went to 2 of those games and he didn’t look very sharp and had to be pulled early.Robert Stephenson sure didn’t help his chances any with way he pitched,and on top of that Delino Deshields had to call him out over his attitude.With Cody Reed….Reds kept saying he had the talent to pitch at MLB level but opposing teams sure tee’d off on him,a little shocking (and disappointing) to see him pitch that badly.Maybe there are other options or maybe Straily will falter but based on what took place last season, I don’t see any obvious replacements for DS….

    • And Dan Straily a year ago was not thought of as highly as any of the 3 guys you just named.

      What does that tell you?

      I see Stephenson in the rotation. I was rewatching his last start against the Cardinals over the weekend. His 2 seem was running off the plate big time at 93 and his change was consistently 86

      No curveballs for the first 3 innings.

      For him it is about fighting control. I get if you grow up throwing 4 seem fastballs by everyone and then learn 2 seamers later on that you may have much less experience on spotting that pitch.
      Why wouldn’t pitchers have insecurities, as they have the weight of the world (or at least that game) on their shoulders. Stephenson has not faced a lot of failure, and last years growth may have been the first time he really had to face it

      He will be fine. In 2008, Johnny Cueto was 9-14 with a 4.81 era and he was a head case that everyone wanted to give up on

      • Wasn’t long ago Daniel Corcino was going to be the next Johhny Cueto but that project failed to lift off…Daniel is still in BB thought,he just signed a minor league contract with Cubs.You never know about these guys no matter highly they are regarded….it all comes down to their performance,they either get the job done or they don’t.And if RS crumbles from the stress,that goes into that equation too.I’m not saying he won’t amount to anything but what I am saying there are no guarantees.And I’m glad Cincy has options….if RS or Amir or Reed need another year in AAA to get their head right then you have an inning eater like Dan Straily to plug in…

    • For me, it’s simple. If Straily is one of the five best starting pitchers emerging from spring training, he should be in the rotation. If someone else beats him out, that would be a positive sign for the overall pitching staff, and he should be in the bullpen. This is how you separate the men from the boys in what is supposed to be a year of sorting — even if the person who beats out Straily is not named Reed, Stephenson or Garrett.

      Same for the bullpen.

      • Pretty much exactly what I heard Bryan Price say…there guys will let you know where they belong by their performance.Moscot and Tim Adleman in that mix too….

        • Good. I don’t want to see someone with a roster spot only because he has the tag of “prospect.” I want each spot to be earned through competition. Obvious exceptions are vested veterans such as Votto, Bailey and Mesoraco who have contracts which give them the right to get ready as they see fit during the spring.

      • It is called competition and it is not limited to Straily.

  37. There are a few reasons to be optimistic for 2017. I want to be a glass half full kind of person, but with the Reds front office, those optimistic feelings get cut off at the knees.
    But how can fans be optimistic when the front office has been so lame this off-season and last off-season too? Two straight seasons of having the 2nd worst record in MLB and the Reds have made very few moves to improve this team. Hoping that everybody steps up their game and that everything goes right is strategery for a 3rd straight season with the 2nd worst record in the game.
    Dick Williams = Walt Jocketty. Nothing more need be said. Stand pat, and wait too long before finally doing something. Dick Williams is not doing anything to make fans feel optimistic. If Dick Williams would roll up his sleeves, get to work, and actually do something to improve this team, it would give Reds fans some tangible evidence to be optimistic.
    As far as optimism for Reds fans go, the ball is in Dick Williams court. Do something to energize the fan base. Improve the team. Don’t just wave your magic wand and declare that Reds fans should be optimistic for 2017.

    • By “do something,” do you mean make a big trade? It would give us something to talk about, but they don’t really know what they have in the young guys yet. There’s a good possibility that half of the infield will be new players, as well as parts of the rotation and the bullpen and the bench. Doesn’t seem like standing pat.

      • Some action on the front office’s part will have to happen before anything you said. That is the problem, no action.
        I would like to see the bullpen improved. The bench improved. Some of the young talent will be starting to clog up the pipeline at AAA in 2017. They stated their goals for improving the team this off-season. Not one goal has been achieved this winter. Not one.
        One or two minor free agent signings wouldn’t hurt. A trade for a quality bat would be nice. I am not saying go out and sign a Jose Bautista, or Mark Trumbo, or even a Michael Saunders, but signing a 28 year old versatile INF/OF like Brock Holt makes sense. Maybe a Franklin Gutierrez or an Austin Jackson.
        A nice veteran for the bullpen would help the younger pitchers. Again, not saying break the bank, but signing a Drew Storen or Sergio Romo would help.
        Standing pat does nothing to improve the team, nor does it do anything for optimism.

        • Again, it’s a rebuild, and young and inexperienced players are taking over some of the positions. The hope is that the improvement comes from their growing and gaining experience. It would make sense to add guys like the ones you describe if the Reds were ready to compete for the postseason and lacked a few identifiable pieces. But where does Brock Holt,for example, play without displacing somebody who is, as yet, an unknown quantity? And which current Reds are attractive trade chips? Some of the better young arms, certainly, and maybe Suarez, but aren’t those the very players who need to be part of the next contending Reds team? It’s really too early to blow up the rebuild.

        • GMR, having Holt and Irabarren on the 25 man roster in April and May allows the Reds to carry 3 catchers. And it possibly can lead to having 8 relievers at any given stretch, it also might lend to a 6-man rotation early on. More is possible with more versatile players.
          Don’t blow up the Re-build. A lot went into making that binder.
          Accelerate the Re-build. Take a starting pitching prospect, an OF prospect, and an INF prospect, package them together, and trade for a quality bat and defender.

  38. Verrrry nice, WVREDLEGS! I am feeling the same way.
    One would like to have seen DW ‘hit the ground running!’
    So much for that.
    No, making a big trade is not necessarily the only thing that would satisfy us. Any more than signing 3 or 4 retreads, in hope of catching lightning in a bottle. Ala, Walt’s typical winter deals. However, standing pat with a last place team that was inept most of the year, well that just isn’t acceptable. BP should already be gone from this team…that dye was cast when we began piling up multiple middle infield prospects. And by the way, that has nothing to do with whether you like BP or not. It has to do with trying to find out whether or not Perazza, Hererra, Suarez, et al are for real or not. Having them ride the pine, platoon occasionally or playing in Louisville, is NOT the right answer. You could make the same case for Cozart, except he is younger and cheaper.
    Soooo, resolving that situation is pretty important. Adding a couple arms to the pen mix is another important step. I mean our pen last year was DISMAL! In a record setting way, as I think we all recall.
    Just take at least one positive step over the winter to show someone in the FO is really trying to overcome the prospects of another moribund season! Is that too much to ask?
    BTW, count me as pessimistic! Sorry, I can remember when we did have ownership/fo personnel that did make big trades.

  39. In the bullpen, I could see a signing helping out. If young starting pitchers don’t earn a rotation spot in the spring, I’m a little leery of assigning multiple guys to the bullpen. Let ’em pitch in the minors. Injuries/ineffectiveness in the rotation likely will create opportunities before long.

    Among position players, would Gutierrez or Jackson come to the Reds to be bench players? Seems like, if they had to be lesser pieces, they would rather be lesser pieces on a team that has a chance to win something.

    But I feel your frustration, do I ever! Let these guys play, and see which ones might prove to be keepers or show they have trade value. For a team in a rebuild, getting anything they can in return for Phillips/Cozart would be gravy. The benefit is going to be the playing time that speeds up the rebuild.

  40. They could sign a bargain basement FA or 2 and perhaps they’ll win 78 games. They could make a trade or 2, but you have to give up something to get something so that is basically a wash. They’re not going to spend or trade their way to being better than the Cubs.

    They have a nice collection of talent. Let it play out and see what exactly they have. Save the money to add missing pieces when they’re ready to compete in 18′ or 19′. There is no reason to try to ” improve” in 2017 when the Cubs are going to win 100 games and the wild card is a long shot. Build a sustainable team team and spend the money when you’re ready to win. Don’t panic…don’t listen to the fans…don’t go for broke to get to 81 wins.

  41. I’m not optimistic for three main reason…I think Cozart and Phillips will get far too much playing time. I also think they’ll keep Winker in AAA far too long. I also think they’ll mess up the starter/bullpen decision for more than one player.

    I couldn’t care less about their final record this year, unless of course something miraculous happens and they can make the playoffs, but whether or not the Reds win 63 games or 81 games doesn’t move my needle at all. If they develop key players at key positions with an eye towards 2018, THAT moves my needle.

  42. first shortstop that gets hurt, Dick should be calling them up and trading for a AA pitcher. Let BP play the first half, hopefully he is producing, and dump him for a prospect as well. Both should be easier to move this year than last due to having one year left on the deal. Not good for the return, but should be easier to find a taker

  43. Dick Williams finally does something. Reds are to sign RH RP Drew Storen. This will be interesting. Should be a good move, if he can get back on track.

    • Jon Heyman has this, “breaking: drew storen agrees to reds deal. $3M plus $1.5M performance bonuses, 500K assignment bonus if traded.”

    • User “Rick” called this one last week. Guess he has some good sources because he nailed it.

  44. Unfortunately the reds organization is an embarrassment to long standing reds fans. As I see it if we contend in 2019 it will be a surprise. Some one besides dusty baker should have lost their job, but he was the scape 🐐 for poor drafting, poor mgmt., and money spent on wrong areas. That’s quite apparent and also do we really think Bryan Price can lead this team to a pennant. There are 4 other teams in our division who don’t even think of us as contenders. Sad state for long time reds fans. GM speak is bs, show me something besides talk.

    • Baker lost his job after a playoff season so I have no idea how you’re saying he was a scape goat for the current situation. I guess you didn’t see that Jocketty lost his job.

      • Are you suggesting that Walt was eased out before he was ready to leave? That could be true, I suppose, but it seemed more like Walt didn’t want to deal with the rebuild and stepped aside on his own. But if there was any discontent with how he was running the franchise, why would they have left him in charge for an extra year when a successor had already been named?… Seems to me that if ownershiip was really blaming Walt for any of the current state of the Reds, they wouldn’t have promoted someone from within Walt’s hierarchy to be his successor.

        • Perhaps Walt was pushed, perhaps not. All we know is he was ” ready to go” after payroll
          was Increased by 50% and the team became much worse.

          Williams is the co owners son so it’s difficult to align him with Walt.

    • I think the Cubs are by themselves. St Louis has some dents, Pirates are in need of some Pitchers, so with some positive play we could find ourselves in the mix. Most likely 2018.

  45. Define optimistic. Do I believe they will win the division? No. Do I believe they will be closer if not finish 500? Yes.

    The biggest thing for me about 2017 is I want to see some of the younger pitchers step up more. Not saying these things will happen, only for examples:

    – DeSc and Finnegan with 15 games, give/take 2
    – Bullpen, led by youth like Cingrani, Lorenzen, and Racial, has an ERA under 4
    – Homer wins 15+ games for the first time in his career

    Past that, I hope BP wises up and accepts a trade. I don’t blame him for wanting to stay. But, staying here, when his playing time is going to be limited, is simply stupid for him to do.

    • He is staying here specifically…..because his playing time and starting spot wont be limited ….but preserved. The Reds have empowered him to believe he is in the power seat…because of his prior temper tantrums andd risk of damaging ” the Reds Brand”….and they are rewarding that emotionally unstable…temper tantrum- throwing 3 year old……Brandon Phillips knows he cant possibly start and play in the major leagues for any other team. That is why is rejecting everything……and the Reds wont call his bluff, because they want to marry him with their brand for the next 20 years….pretty dysfunctional. Brandon wins in 2017…Reds win in next 20 years….fans lose and team loses in 2017-18

      • I do not know why you think he can not start/play for another team? he did hit 290 last year and he will have incentive to have a great year as there will not be any more big contracts if he doesn’t..

  46. Reds pitching staff doesn’t really excite me, the bullpen should be a big stretch better but unless Homer completely gets his groove back, they looks short in the rotation to me.

    Lineup all depends on what the young guys do. I figure the improvement on defense in the second half could continue. They don’t look to have much depth if any injuries happen.

    I figure they might do an old Boone/Narron thing and play well April to maybe June and then fade bad in the second half ending up a bit under .500. I’d say ceiling probably anywhere from 74-78 wins. I’ll be surprised if they go over .500, if they do some guys like someone like Schebler or a young starter really takes a big step or the young guns in the pen put out a totally lights out year.

    To me, BP is more of a fan angst thing than a real on the field problem. I personally hope him and Cozart play lights out baseball for another contract in the first half so the Reds can flip them for some young talent myself.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.


2017 Reds


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,