2018 Reds

Let’s Win

Initially, I’d planned to write an entire post being contrarian about the whole Free Lorenzen thing. The premise being that, successful or not, the Reds still have a ton of starting pitching prospects AND Lorenzen is already a good reliever AND we should assume the Reds know at least a few things we don’t AND there are only so many starts in the big leagues to go around. Thus, such a move would be short-sighted and the Reds shouldn’t make short-sighted decisions right now. Their play lately has put thoughts of contending this year fully out-of-mind. And so, we need to look at next year, which when they are supposed to be ready to compete.

The State of Things

First, there should be a payroll surge. The Reds have been pouring money into signing amateurs the last few years and that’s fantastic, but it’s going to be time to send some of that money to the big league club. The highest payroll has ever been is $115M in 2015. They’re several notches below that right now and, of course, there’s limited commitment Let’s take a look next year to see what they already have on the books (Aside – Everyone please stay cool about how much money is going to a few players. This is how the system is set up to work. Every team is like this to some extent. This is what happens when players are heavily cost-controlled for their first six years.):

Joey Votto, Homer Bailey, Devin Mesoraco, and Raisel Iglesias are all under contract for a total of $63.5M. Votto and Igelsias seems like good bets to continue being worth what they’re paid (the MLB average is about $8M/1 WAR on the free agent market right now – yes, I know that’s a lot, but that’s still how it is). Mesoraco is looking increasingly good. As for Homer, well, we’ll see soon, I guess.

The following players will be in some phase of arbitration with rough guesses in parenthesis.

Eugenio Suarez ($3M)
Billy Hamilton ($5M)
Scooter Gennett ($4.5M)
Blake Wood ($2M)
Tony Cingrani ($2.5M)
Anthony DeSclafani ($2M)
Tucker Barnhart ($2M)
Michael Lorenzen ($1.5M)

That’s another $22.5M there, which brings payroll up to $86M. Another $8M will be needed to fill out the roster with league-minimum players. That brings us to $94M.

If one assumes they can bring the payroll back to at least $115M that leaves room for a free agent or two.

Let’s start by assuming the Reds go exclusively with in-house talent next year. Right now, the roster would probably look something like this:

Lineup
C- Devin Mesoraco/Tucker Barnhart
1B – Joey Votto
Middle Infield – Eugenio Suarez/Jose Peraza/Dilson Herrera/Nick Senzel
OF – Adam Duvall/Scott Schebler/Billy Hamilton/Jesse Winker

Rotation
1 – Homer Bailey/Anthony DeSclafani
2 – Brandon Finnegan
3 – Amir Garrett
4 – Luis Castillo/Tyler Mahle
5 – Cody Reed/Robert Stephenson/Sal Romano/Tim Adleman

Bullpen
Closer – Raisel Iglesias
Setup – Michael Lorenzen
Middle Relief – Tony Cingrani, Blake Wood, Wandy Peralta, Rotation Losers

That’s where we stand. There’s a lot of potential in that roster, but also a lot of uncertainty. Especially in the rotation where the two best pitchers (Homer and Disco) have injury issues that make them hard to count on and the number 3 starter (Garrett) has shown flashes of brilliance while getting shelled a fair bit between. 2018 is supposed to be the year they make the leap. Can they do it? I think so.

Win Now

Here’s my plan to make the Reds contenders in 2018 (this will also probably show why I’m not in charge):

Step 1: Trade Billy Hamilton. He’s probably peaked. He’s not going to be a hitter ever, but he does have value. Still, he probably doesn’t have any more value than Winker, Duvall, or Schebler, and they’ll all make the minimum next year. He should bring a solid return and free up about $4.5M to be spent elsewhere (his salary minus the league minimum).

Step 2: Extend Eugenio Suarez. He’s only gotten better. He’s currently playing at an All-Star level at third. See if you can lock him up through his age-33 season or so (that would cover 4 of his free agent years).

Step 3: Find a place for Nick Senzel. Maybe it’s second. Maybe Suarez moves over (if he’s willing). Maybe he finds a place in the outfield. Either way, he’s going to be ready sooner rather than later and needs a place to play.

Step 4: Say good bye to Zack Cozart. Sorry, Zack. We love you, but the team must move on.

Step 5: Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera. One must go. Given his injury history and defensive limitations, it’s probably Herrera. Peraza may never be much of a hitter, but he can hide at short, which will likely be the weakest position on the team for a while.

Step 6: Drop money on a pitcher. Yu Darvish is about to be a free agent. He’ll probably take $25M/year to sign. The Reds have something like that much money. Go for it.

Step 7: Convert starting pitching prospects to relief.

I now present to you the 2018 Cincinnati Reds as assembled by me.

Lineup

  1. Jesse Winker – RF
  2. Eugenio Suarez – 3B (maybe 2B)
  3. Joey Votto – 1B
  4. Scott Schebler – CF
  5. Adam Duvall – LF
  6. Devin Mesoraco – C
  7. Scooter Gennett/ Nick Senzel – 2B (maybe 3B)
  8. Jose Peraza – SS

Starting Rotation

  1. Yu Darvish
  2. Homer Bailey/Anthony DeSclafani
  3. Brandon Finnegan
  4. Amir Garrett/Sal Romano/Cody Reed
  5. Luis Castillo/Tyler Mahle/Tim Adleman (2 kept in Louisville)

Bullpen

Closer – Raisel Igelsias
Set up – Michael Lorenzen
Middle Relief – Rotation losers, et al.

Caveats

  1. I’m cutting Blake Wood loose. I think he’s a fine pitcher, but the Reds don’t need to spend $2M on a middling reliever.
  2. I’m assuming that between them, Homer and Disco can cover one spot in the rotation, though they’ll likely both be hurt or healthy at the same time at some points in the season.
  3. I assume that at least one of Garrett, Reed, and Romano will eventually stabilize and rise to the occasion.
  4. Yes, I am cutting bait on Robert Stephenson as a starter. At least for now. As always, I want him to prove me wrong. I always want all Reds players to succeed.
  5. Gennett takes second until Nick Senzel is ready, then slides to the bench. If he continues to hit like he has, well, that’s not a bad problem to have, but he’s been around long enough to know he won’t be an embarrassment.
  6. I’m purposefully vague on middle relief because that tends to turn over naturally and quickly.

Strengths

  1. Offense. This team will hit for power and get on base. Votto, Winker, Suarez, Mesoraco, and Senzel should all be on base at above-average clips. With Votto, Winker, and maybe Senzel at elite levels. Votto, Duvall, Schebler, Mesoraco, and Suraez all have 20+ HR power. Only Peraza figures to be a below average hitter among the regulars.
  2. Relief pitching. It’s a similar group to this year. Relievers are capricious things, but it would be surprising if this group were to suddenly implode.

Weaknesses

  1. Defense. The outfield could be brutal at times Peraza will be worse than Cozart at short. And whoever plays second will probably be a downgrade from Peraza. This will also not be a fast team.
  2. Starting pitching stamina. Among all those pitchers, there is not one 200 inning season since 2013 (though Darvish may get there this year). Most of the younger pitchers will be seeing if they can handle a full season of major league work, so it could get interesting, but the addition of Darvish (or any other high-end free agent pitcher) is meant to bring stability so that the Reds avoid the kind of disaster we’ve seen lately where they’re struggling to find warm bodies to fill the available slots.

Conclusion

Can this team win? I think it’s very possible. They’ll certainly score runs, and once they get to the seventh inning with a lead, you’ll like their odds. Much will hinge on the starting pitching. For what it’s worth, Mahle and Castillo have both had better results in the minors than Reed or Stephenson. But they should manage quality starts half the time at the very least, which is better than this year by a mile.

In the end, of course, this is a flawed exercise. I don’t have enough information to say who is ready or if Senzel can play second or if Winker is for sure a major leaguer. It’s projection with the assumption that a lot more things go right than go wrong. And I certainly don’t know what their payroll restrictions are. But I do want to see the Reds try to win next year. As long as they try, I’ll be happy. And given recent drafts, it feels like the good days will be very good once they arrive.

79 thoughts on “Let’s Win

  1. There is no way Darviah would ever play for Reds. Plus he will make at least $30 million. Also reds should not increase payroll to $115 revenue is not there

    • How do you know revenue isn’t there? They’ve been spending enormous amounts in the draft and signing international free agents the last few years.

    • I agree with Jason how do you know revenue is not there are they starting a new tv deal soon also? That should provide more money to spend on players

      • The Reds cannot have money to spend based on the terrible fn attendance they have. The lack of ttendnce limits their ability to spend. Dervish is said to love Dallas and if he leaves there he will go to a big market like NY, Chicago or LA or maybe Seattle.

        • Lots of MLB revenue comes from revenue sharing. So, while attendance matters, it’s not the only barometer.

          Also, I wasn’t saying that Darvish was exactly who they should sign. Rather, I was using him as a stand-in for “elite pitcher.”

          • Reds not being able to sign Luis Robert is a sign that they lack revenue to make moves.

          • Reports on that indicate we were willing to spend $22mil on Robert (x2 with penalties), which would have brought us to $44 mil. Since we didn’t spend it on Robert, I assume we still have it to spend elsewhere.

          • So, 28 other teams also don’t have the revenue to make moves? Since 28 other teams also didn’t sign Robert. Your logic would indicate the first statement is true.

        • The Indians’ payroll is about $125 million. Their attendance is similar (slightly worse) than the Reds. So I would guess that attendance likely isn’t the determining factor in setting payroll.

  2. The Reds do have a strong looking late inning bullpen unless they get worn out with the unstable starting rotation. Whether it’s Darviah or someone else, the Reds need to spend money on a reliable starting pitcher to be the center of the rotation.

  3. Most of your recommendations I agree with, but I hope the Reds have learned their lessons on the foolishness of long-term, big money contracts for starting pitchers. Any good free agent pitcher is going to want 5 or 6 years at $15 to $20 million per year. That’s just too rich for their situation.

    • Why, though? They are set at almost every position on the diamond for several years. The only exception is maybe shortstop, where there’s no one coming into free agency you’d want to sign. They don’t have to sign a pitcher, but if they’re ready to do what most good teams do and fill holes from the free agent market, that’s the hole they need to fill.

      • I want Reds to tank two more years then make moves in 2019. It does not make sense to spend for 2018, they are not good enough. Getting two more high draft picks makes slot of sense.

      • You know who the best fit of soon to be free agent SS is don’t you … um Yeah.. That Cozart guy ….

    • Chris Welsh made the observation yesterday that Strasburg, as dominant as he’s perceived to be, is still averaging less than 6 innings per start for his career. In the age of the 7 man bullpen, are lucrative contracts for starting pitchers who can’t get deep into games consistently coming to an end? Should the money be meted out more equitably to middle relief? Those two inning guys that can bridge the gap to the closers are becoming more valuable. We have several guys that could fit into that role right now that are currently listed as starters.

      • I get what you’re saying. However, as unpredictable as starting pitching can be, relief pitching is that squared. Remember Sean Marshall? And Ryan Madson?

        One of my most consistent arguments is that the Reds can’t afford to use free agent resources on bench players and bullpen help. Those groups are highly unpredictable (JJ Hoover, Jumbo Diaz) and can usually be filled from within. Relievers – as a group – are the riskiest of players. If I were ranking how extra money should ideally be spent, it would go like this:

        1. Starting position players
        2. Starting pitching
        99. Bench players
        100. Relief pitchers

        Fill in 3-98 however you like.

        Anyway, it would be easier if the Reds needed an outfielder. But they don’t. So it should probably be starting pitching.

        • The thing is….we’ll get outbid for Darvish or any big name and we’re 100% Bailey’d if it doesn’t work out? Not to mention….Kershaw’s career playoff era is 4.55. About the best they could do would be a Sean Manaea type or Alex Cobb….that might be a solid #2-3 like Disco is supposed to be!

      • Since Strasburg debuted, he’s got the 8th lowest ERA in baseball of any pitcher with 1000 innings pitched, and the 3rd best K/BB (behind Kershaw and Sale). He’s also got the 14th most fWAR of any pitcher since his debut, which is amazing considering how much time he’s missed with TJ and the like.

    • The problem is that plenty of teams will sign those pitchers to long and expensive contracts, so the Reds will be left with cast-offs and what they can develop. Developing your own talent is the template for sustained success, but not always a good way to add a key piece at a critical time. We’ve seen plenty of commentary to the effect that a team can do fine by just collecting such pitchers as are available from other teams, but this season so far, while not disproving the hypothesis, at least raises questions about it.

  4. I been thinking Suarez better bet to move to 2B and open 3B for Senzel at some point, so I like that thought you have there.

    • Why? Does Senzel have a better arm? Suarez has a,cannon and is playing great defense. If Senzel is better then fine. But moving Suarez to 2nd is a waste of that arm.

      • Senzel is NOT a better defensive 3B than Suarez. Senzel’s bat will get him to the majoe leagues, not his defense at 3B. If the Reds can extend Suarez, then they need to start looking for a position for Senzel to play and I think the OF is the 1st place to look (specifically CF), but 2N may also be an option. The Reds do not need Senzel at the major league level in 2018. Let the kid develop and prove he’s ready. He just now began playing at AA. Wasn’t AA where Hamilton moved from SS to CF? I’m not sure, but I think that was when the position change began.

        It’s time to move on from the Hamilton experiment. It was a good effort, but it’s over. I agree with you Jason, that Hamilton does have some value, but more to another team than to the Reds. I’m willing to go with Schebler in CF full time in order to get Winker in the lineup full time and hitting at the top of the order. Gennett stays at 2B in 2018 and Peraza gets one more season to develop his offense while playing SS. I hope he develops just as Concepcion did for the Reds and becomes an integral component in the team.

        I’m very hesitant to make another big cash commitment to a starting pitcher. The Reds already have one such commitment to Bailey. I think the money is available for the right opportunity, but I’m very leary of big, long-term contracts for pitchers that extend past the downside of their prime.

        • I agree Cossack. I would be looking for a position for Senzel to play unless the Reds have plans to move Suarez back to SS once Cozart is gone (doubtful that’s the case). The Reds managed to win 90 games with Choo in CF and Schebler is likely better in the field than he was so I’m good with going in that direction. Peraza puzzles me at the plate. He’s hit a couple of rocket home runs but most of the time it looks like he’s swinging weakly at the ball, sort of “feeling” for it. Long term contracts for pitchers scare me but they are probably a reality of the market. If the Reds go after someone I’ll just keep my fingers crossed.

      • Yes to both questions. The issue is if moving Suarez to SS would be a good move or the best move.

  5. This slump is not over. You can see it in their faces and how they carry themselves. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

    • Lol. What would worse even look like? Methinks you speak in hyperbole. But I don’t buy into “they look down.” It just takes one game of things going right for players to “look up.”

      • 100% true… Not going to say that teams never get down and sometimes a team wonders “Are we ever going to catch a break?” You can see whole teams look like they are pressing. Even at that stage, a couple breaks and a short winning streak sorts the confidence issues out. This is especially true when a team is out of it and is playing strictly for pride.

  6. For the life of me – I can’t figure out why players like Cozart get this “he’s playing over his head, let’s get something for him before the truth comes out” label. He’s a everything you look for in a SS with his only weakness being health.

    You hope and pray that any number of these guys who you decide are “our future” – do as well in their position as Cozart already is. Yet almost everybody “with a plan” has as part of their plan – trading Cozart for some prospect.

    • I have really mixed feelings about Cozart. I do believe his recent jump as a hitter is (mostly) legit. But his age and injury history give me enough pause that I think it moves the needle to not trying to re-sign him. But I wouldn’t complain if they kept him. And, as always, I don’t know anything compared to what the Reds know.

    • There is nothing wrong with keeping Cozart in the mix as their SS for the next few years. The key is how much and how long. Even if the Reds move Cozart before the trade deadline this season, I would hope that they pursue him as a FA. The injuries are more of a concern than his offense, but if the contract is right, then having Cozart as a starting SS for another 3 seasons feels good, even if he is limited to 120-140 games. With Hamilton gone or moved to a utlity role and Peraza in a super utility role, the offense could be fearsome.

    • I think it makes sense to be skeptical about a guy who played a certain way for 500 games, then played another way for 150 games.

      Track record matters, and until the good version has a similar track record to the bad version, people are likely to assume there is some good luck and unsustainability at play. Human nature, I suppose.

  7. I agree with trading Hamilton. In fact there was a little discussion of this on RML yesterday in the comments section. After 3 1/2 years of not being any better than 79 wRC+ I think he is what he is offensively. He’s an elite baserunner and CF. But I have doubts the Reds can contend with both Peraza and Hamilton in the line up. Neither of them hit much, get on base, or hit for power. I’d honestly rather keep Hamilton over Peraza simply because his floor is much higher but I don’t think there’s a much of a market for Peraza.

    With that said, I don’t think the Reds can put Schebler in CF. He’s too much of a liability in CF and the young pitchers will be hurt by the defense. In an ideal world the Reds could find a replacement CF by trading Cozart, Hamilton, or Duvall/Schebler. (I’d much rather see them sell high on Duvall as he’s older and just slightly under Schebler’s numbers). But without knowing who that would be, I may suggest moving Peraza to CF and Suarez back to SS when Senzel is ready. Until then, some combination of Gennett, Herrera, and Blandino can help hold down the infield.

    A front line starting pitcher would be a good place to spend FA money, as that seems like it will be the biggest need. But it’s also incredibly risky, as we’ve seen with Homer and countless times across the league.

    I’m expecting 2019 to be the year we really contend. Hopefully by then the rotation will be sorted and settled overall. Beyond the starters that don’t make the rotation we’ll also have some interesting, quality relief options coming up with Hernandez, Herget, Weiss, and Rainey. We’ll also know a lot more about where Long, LaValley, Blandino, Ervin, Aquino, and Friedl will fit in the team’s future.

    • With you on Schebler. Love the guy in right but giving up a ton taking Hamilton’s spot in center. Agree with seemingly everyone that Hamilton’s not going to hit much, but it’s comforting when a ball is hit into the gaps that he can run it down. That will certainly be missed more that we think. The FO can really make this team happen by packaging some guys along with Billy for an elite, young center fielder. It’s going to hurt a bit, but pay off in the very near future. It was tough trading Tommy Helms and Lee May, but Morgan turned out to be pretty good.

  8. Totally agree on every point Jason. They need a number 1 guy to be the ace. That’s what winning teams have. Thas one of the reasons why the Orioles missed their opportunity. That’s all they are missing in my opinion. I see this team taking off in August. They will have a decent rotation by then. Hamilton needs to go. He will not get better and his speed will decline from here on out. That’s why I want Schebler to get some starts in center. Hey Duvall was suppose to be a joke in left and look at him now. Give Schebler a lot of starts in center in August and Sept. and see what he has. The last couple of games your weak link always shows up at critical spots. Billy up with runners on. It always,happens.

  9. Honestly, it’s a bit of a stretch, but I would love to see the Reds offer some prospects to get a pitcher like Marcus Stroman from the Jays. Young guy, controllable, a bulldog on the mound. Probably won’t happen, but with the Jays tanking, i’d love to see them grab stroman.

    • Who would the Jays want for Stroman? They would start with Senzel, Trammel, Mahle and Hunter Garrett. Would you do it? You would get a possible ace for 4 players who might never play in the majors.

      • That’s where they’d start but they’d likely not get all 4. Probably at most 2 of those 4 with a couple other lower-rated prospects in the deal as well. I think the Reds are going to have to make a deal sort of like that or that they made for Latos. It was a tough deal to do but that’s the kind of deal that they need to make again for good, young, cost-controlled SP. I don’t think free-agency is the way to do it.

  10. Jason, you obviously put a lot of thought into your posts.

    However, when you mock others’ responses because they disagree with you, or are inferior viewpoints in your mind, it takes away from your work. Greatly.

    Last night, on the post-game thread, you mocked another poster by writing,
    “Senzel has been a pro for exactly one full season and just got promoted to AA. Maybe chill on him a bit.”

    In this story, you are suggesting that the Reds make a place for him in Cincinnati next season.

    Which is it? Or, does it depend on who writes it?

    If Senzel earns a MLB spot by next April, so be it. Otherwise, moves like extending Suarez and then potentially switching his position seem rushed and a potential backfire. I think Senzel and the Reds have a bright future. Just not in 2018.

    • The poster was complaining that Senzel hasn’t done anything yet. I don’t know why anyone would find that as something to complain about. I think Senzel’s ETA is probably mid-season next year.There is a big difference between now and a year from now.

      When I get cranky, it tends to be at people who put zero thought into what they say. The same comment you referenced claimed that all the hitters were replacement level except for Votto. Which is completely absurd and backed by zero evidence.

      There is a habit among all sports fan of assuming the sky is falling whenever anything goes wrong. I will never not take issue with that.

      • I stated that Senzel was one of the few Reds hitting prospects along with possibly Winker.

        I will stand by the note that other than Votto, there are no elite hitters on the Reds and they seem to have an issue developing hitters. Suarez is a career 100 wRC+ and sinking this year. His defense has been great. Duvall and Schebler are decent and were received via trade.

        You also stated that the Reds offense this year was great, 7th in the NL in runs scored and many of the hitters have been well above their historical norms.

        Never said the sky is falling, but, also objective in where the Reds are headed. Maybe you can do another podcasting telling everyone how great the Reds are and are going to be. Last I checked they are trending down again this year and in last place with no clarity on the starting pitching.

        • That’s how I took your reply as well. I didn’t read it as a knock on Senzel. Just goes to show that sometimes it’s hard to pull the meaning out of posts without clarification sometimes.

      • FWIW, Jason, I didn’t think that your response was mocking at all. You simply refuted the guy’s assertions, and refutation shouldn’t be confused with mockery.

  11. Reds should not get into the free agent business now. There is no guarantee it works. You always over pay. Most do not pan out…Heyward, Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Crawford etc. The Reds could go for a free agent when they have finished the rebuild and need to fill a specific spot. Long term deals for pitchers are dumb. Long term deals for pitchers over 30 are beyond dumb. The best chance for the Reds to improve is to have a bad record, get high draft picks, have excellent scouting to find good players and provide them with a first class development program. This takes time and patience. Unlike fantasy baseball MLB teams can not start over every season. It takes time to put the pieces in place. Watching rebuilds is agony. The eventual reward is joy. Check out the Cubs and Astros.

    • You are cherry picking with some of the worst free agent signings of the last several years.

      Free agents are more expensive than players in their first few years, I’ll grant you that. HOWEVER, if the Reds do have money they can add to payroll (they probably do), it doesn’t need to go to cost-controlled players. It should be used to fill holes on the roster.

      Certainly, there is risk. But, as we’ve seen, there’s also a lot of risk in assuming prospects are ready. You don’t know until you know.

      That said, I can see the argument for holding on to money and using it to extend players who do show they belong. The point of this post was that this is a plan the Reds could likely implement and perhaps be a genuine contender next year. The rotation is the obvious problem area in the roster and a dependable elite starter would go a long way toward filling that hole.

      You cite the Cubs and Astros. The Cubs signed Heyward, Zobrist, Lackey, and Lester as free agents. The Astros signed Reddick and Beltran and traded for McCann. Not that everyone of those signings has worked, but several of them have and those teams wouldn’t be nearly as good without their free agent acquisitions.

      • The Cubs added free agents after they had lost 100 games 4 years in a row and had stocked their young team from the draft and trades. The Astros did the same they lost 100 games over several seasons. Regarding free agents the Cubs sure are sure sorry they did the Heyward deal. Jason, it is always easy to spend someone else’s money. The Reds are doing what most have called for…they are signing international players and spending high dollars for high draft picks.

    • The chance for a top 5 selection (along with the supplemental picks and a high 2nd round pick) in the 2018 rule 4 draft is looking better and better right now. That would be 3 seasons in a row and that could provide the solid foundation for the future while keeping payroll cost-controlled and manageable. Quite frankly, I think the Reds are welll positioned to compete through the Votto years and it’s too early for any concrete planning beyond the Votto years, other than the plan to better manage the next transition rather than no plan as they had to manage the previous transition for the Cueto years.

  12. Many good suggestions, but there is a better chance that a Unicorn named Lonnie is pitching for the Reds before a ” Darvish Like” UFA pitcher. It’s one thing to extend your own players a year before UFA, but the Reds can’t win a bidding war and they have no ancillary tie breakers in their favor…none. .

    Do you really think any UFA pitcher who is good enough to make that much of a difference wouldn’t be highly desired by teams that can outspend the Reds 2 or 3 to 1? Wouldn’t it be worth it to the Cubs to offer an extra 10 million to not just obtain his services but to keep him out of the division?

    The Reds have paid Bailey about 5 million per start over the past 2.5 year. What sane business person would be willing to immediately take the same risk, but at a 40-50% higher cost? Could a 100 million payroll team….with 3 guys earning almost 70 million…2 of whom don’t play everyday, compete? Rather doubtful

    • The Reds have a lineup of good hitters and one of the best minor league systems in baseball. A smart player might look at that and decide that he likes the idea of being on a team that’s on the way up. But they also might not.

      I have no idea if they could win the bidding war. No one does. I do know they have enough money to pay what such a theoretical pitcher would cost.

      If there were other, bigger needs the Reds had (and coming free agents to fit those needs), I’d have suggested something else. But their are good pitchers about to hit the market and the Reds lack good pitchers. Therefore, risky or not, it’s logical to spend the money you have on pitching. I don’t love it because pitching is SO risky. But you have to try things.

      Or, think of it this way, a few years ago, the Reds had to pick between Cueto and Bailey. In hindsight, they made the wrong choice, but at the time it was hard to say. if they’d picked Cueto, would you have the same argument? Some signings work and others don’t, but if a team wants to compete, they can’t typically opt out of the free agent market.

      • We don’t know that the Reds can sustainably add 25-30 million in payroll for an extended period. You’re making an assumption that is only supported by what you want them to do.

        If they had chosen Cueto over Bailey then they’re modestly better at pitching, but don’t have Duvall. They would still have almost all of the same problems they have now.

        • Chuck – agreed except (1) they’d be more than modestly better at pitching, not just from the differential between Homer vs. Johnny, but from a mentoring standpoint. Anyone notice how Lorenzen was pitching pretty decently his rookie year under JC’s guidance (initiated by Lorenzen, and kudos to ML from wanting to learn from the best); his season that year fell apart after the Reds traded Cueto away. (2) they don’t have Finnegan or Reed

          But maybe they get something like Finnegan for Homer instead

      • KC traded for 3 months of Cueto and then refused to get into bidding war for his services. SF signed Cueto to. $140 million deal. Have you noticed his record? SF is already worried they have a stinker on their hands. They also signed Melcanon to a big deal. SF has the worst record in baseball.

        • Cueto was AWESOME last year, probably one of the top 5 pitchers in the NL, pitched extremely well in postseason, the bullpen cost SF a chance to get a Cueto vs. Lester or Arrieta matchup in the decider, a situation in 2015 when JC almost pitched a perfect game to push KC past Texas (Moose throwing error would have been 3rd out, counted as an infield single followed by HR the only two hits/walks given up).

          This year beginning in May Cueto has pitched through two blisters, on his middle and either index or ring fingers – that’s when his ERA jumped and accounts for four or five of his losses.

          He & Bumgarner almost got SF the even year title rolling for a fourth time in 2016. If SF doesn’t trade him to NY Houston Cleveland or Arizona lookout for the Giants in 2018.

      • Regarding free agents I’d adopt the Pittsburgh model. Avoid pricey FA signings, turn scrap heaps into gems, but that is predicated on having a great pitching coach. That’s NOT Brian price. Don Gullett was great at that sort of thing as is the Pirates pitching coach of the past several years.

        • That’s a pretty good post right there. I truly thought our coaching staff was more pitcher-focused. This has not panned out. In this year of sorting, the pitching situation has only become more murky. And with the young arms available, there should be signs of development. I just don’t see it. We seem to throw guys at the wall and hope they “stick”.
          So yes, a pitching coach & philosophy that works up and down the system seems to be a REAL need for the Cincy organization. I’m not sure signing a high dollar FA is enough to make starters 2-5 or the middle relief effective enough for a several year playoff run.
          I must give the organization credit, they have done a terrific job developing position players. Patience and experience will only help this solid young core. And the “pick-ups” of our bench players have been astute.

  13. Move Suarez back to shortstop. Let Senzel play his natural position at third and Scooter stays at 2nd until Shed Long gets brought up. Billy has got to go while he still has some value. Even though he is amazing defensively and has the ability to steal bases whenever he gets on, he just doesn’t get on. Pinch run him in key situations instead. Jesse Winker needs everyday playing time in right field.

    • Great dialogue…the central issue revolves around the realization that the Reds aren’t going to compete in 2018 ….UNLESS something drastic is done. That would be significant expenditures in FA or significant trades to land a controllable starter.

      I think it’s simpler to look down and grit this rebuild out…that means the window starts in 2019. Let the mesoraco contract expire.. let Homers contract be reduced to one year in 2019…only spend money to extend core players through 2023….Suarez being the primary target. If the Reds get another top 5 pick in 2018…draft an elite shortstop.

      I would trade anyone who has a trade market in a month…including Iglesias…the goal should be to have the top farm system in MLB by this winter and financial flexibility….all focusing on the window of 2019-2023.

  14. Who you have as a manager really matters. No major player will play for an unproven, inept manager in Bryan price. No frontline pitcher would even think about it.

    Unfortunately, jocketty has ruined everything about this team. The front office is full of bloat. There’s a scout last name jocketty. You don’t think Walt was looking out for him do you?

    I agree trade cozart, Hamilton, Feldman, Bailey, storen, mesoraco, and a few others. Fire price and this time, don’t fire the guy who can win in the playoffs, you fire the guy who can’t get you to the playoffs. Get a good experienced pitching coach this time. Mario Soto and ted power has been this organization forever but somehow the reds hire guys with no experience especially ones who have never played the game.

    Self inflicted gunshot wounds are the worst ways to die. There has been a terrible pattern with this club. When they hire managers with no experience, the organization is almost always in the cellar or close to it as a result of just having bad managers.

    When they hire top tier experienced veteran managers, miraculously the make the playoffs.

    Lou Pinella, Jack McKeon, Davy Johnson, Dusty Baker , Bill McKechnie, Sparky Anderson. Baker by the way is the 3rd most successful manager in reds history with 509 wins. Trailing Anderson with 863, and Bill McKechnie with 747.

  15. I would say trade from our stock of prospects. Trading for a top of rotation type pitcher like sonny gray or Chris archer seems like a better move with the lack of financial flexibility

  16. Why trade Billy if we won’t get much in return? Keep him. Let Schebler play center in home games where CF is easier to manage, let Billy start (over Winker) when we play in Colorado or San Diego or Houston or wherever there is a cavernous outfield. Keep Billy available as pinch runner and defensive replacement.

    I would use those free agent dollars on Cozart and let Scooter start at 2B.
    I would make Hamilton be primary backup outfielder and Peraza backup infielder.
    Lineup Cozart Votto Suarez Schebler Duvall Gennett Mesoraco Winker.
    I would absolutely look to trade prospects for starter with control through 2019. I would trade just about anyone other than Senzel or Greene. What would a package of Winker/Mahle/Trammel fetch? Mix and match those names with Castillo, Reed, Friedl, Long, etc.

    If we don’t keep Cozart then I’m moving Suarez to short, letting Peraza/Scooter play 2b/3b until Senzel ready. If that’s the case I would still trade for a starting pitcher and spend some free agent dollars on another one. I just think for the money available for FA dollars (total value ~$40-50M over 3 years), Cozart is more likely to make an impact than the type of pitcher we’d get for that relatively small free agent purse. That number doesn’t even come close to what Mike Leake got.

  17. Suarez obviously has a great upside, but he is in a pretty extended hitting slump right now. It’s almost two months at this point.

    We should probably wait and see if he can shake it, or if there’s a larger problem.

  18. I’m all for going for it in 18′! I say we trade some of our young talent for a Jake odorizzi type and try to sign them to an extension. Reed, Lorenzen, Peraza and Hamilton should be enough. Use the extra salary to sign cozart to a 3 year deal with a mutual 4th yr and Sign suarez to an extension and move senzel to second base (but don’t rush him to the big league club). Let Herrera or gennett handle second for most of 18′.

    1. Odorizzi or a solid #2 type pitcher.
    2. Bailey or Disco
    3. Finnegan
    4. Garrett/Castillo/Mahle (this allows us not to rush Castillo and mahle)
    5. Feldman – another one year 8 million type deal. 4.22 fip is better than league average for a #4 starter.

  19. I am confused but that is normal. I mean the bat is only half of the inning. The line-up as you envision it downgrades defensively at both middle infield spots and CF
    I have no idea how long Cozart will be better than Peraza but I would guess at least 2 years. Schebler in CF is a pretty decent right fielder. I know that Peraza is not at 2nd instead of Herrara because of his bat so I assume it must be his defense. I don’t keep up with the farm system so I don’t know if it makes more sense to keep an outfielder or infielder
    I am of the thought process to try Suarez at SS .he was well below average but I thought then it was nerves and not lack of ability

  20. I’ve been saying this forever but call Colorado about Billy!!!!!

    He’s hit .396 in Coors last 3 years combined but most importantly could save them a ton of runs in that state park sized outfield! Carlos Gonzalez is about done and will be 32. Desmond is 30. Not to mention they play a lot of 3-2 type games on the west coast where 1 run with Billy as a pinchrunner or a defensive wizard could make the difference. If he saves the Reds a run with a great catch or great throw…so what? Arroyo just gives up 3 more. It makes too much sense!!

  21. I agree with trade Hamilton, let Cozart go but have Senzel, Suraez, Scooter & Votto around the infield & Winkler, Sshebler & Duvall in the outfield. As far as Bailey & Disco are concerned I don’t think either will be better than they have the last 3 year. The big change I would like to see is new manager & coaches except Hatch.

  22. I’m all for trading Billy, but only if we get something substantial in return. Otherwise, i’d turn him into a fourth outfielder that gets a couple of starts per week and can sub in late for baserunning and defense. A solid 4th outfielder is important to a contending team (which we hope to be soon), especially a fourth outfielder with billy’s skillset.

    • It is an interesting thought, but 9 times out of 10, a 4th outfielder’s contribution will be as a pinch hitter. Hamilton would be a poor option for that. The amount of times that a late-game pinch runner is actually needed is fairly low.

      Although, he could always play the 8th or 9th as a defensive sub, and that might be useful, too…

      Certainly an interesting thought.

  23. Regarding Schebler in center field, I think he could be serviceable.

    A rudimentary stat that I like is RZR (revised zone rate) which simply shows how many plays you’ve made versus how many balls have been hit into your zone. Schebler is at 90.2% between last year and this year, which would put him 12th out of 18 qualified CFers in this measure. With experience, you usually expect a player to get slightly better, so I could squint and see an average-ish center fielder. And if he carries a 120-130 wRC+, he’d be an above-average player overall, I think.

    Just for comparison’s sake, Hamilton is 2nd right now behind Jarrod Dyson at 95.2%, with Dyson at 95.8%.

  24. No doubt a Darvish type would be a huge upgrade for any rotation, however I’d be more inclined going into a lower tier and trying to get more value for less years. Darvish will be $100mil at 5 years at minimum.

    Looking at the upcoming free agents, I’d rather go for a Michael Pineda and Alex Cobb. Might be able to get them on 3 year deals. The move from the AL East to the NL should offset the concerns of coming to GABP.

    I think the Reds need more than just one starting pitcher. Reed, Garrett, Stephenson, etc need to get thrown to the wolves the rest of this year before I’d count on them. I think the book is still out on Finnegan too.

    Tom Glavine lost 17 games his first full season. Maddux lost 14. Greinke lost 28 hits first two seasons.

    Most need to learn to pitch at the major league level.

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