2017 Reds

Does Cincinnati have a shortstop crisis?

[This post was written by loyal Nation member Ron Smith, a regular commenter under the name Old-school. We asked Ron to elaborate on a comment he made a couple days ago that we considered very thought-provoking. And he did! Thanks, Ron!]

“We’ve just come to a point where we’re not going to lose anymore”

–Bob Castellini April 2008

And with those words as justification, Wayne Krivsky was fired, just a few weeks into the 2008 baseball season and just three years into his tenure as general manager. The Reds are on the brink of three consecutive 90-loss seasons, a dubious distinction not seen in these parts in 80 years.

The bullpen failures in 2016 dominated the losing landscape and deservedly so. Pitching woes again — specifically starting pitching — have come to define the losing season that is 2017. However, I want to identify an ominous organizational shortcoming that pervades the entire Reds farm system – A Shortstop Crisis.

Much time has been spent debating the imminent needs at the shortstop position in 2017 and for 2018. Do you risk overpaying for an injury prone Zack Cozart in a free agent deal? Do you commit to a weak-hitting and unproven Jose Peraza? Do you move Eugenio Suarez back to short again?  More problematic is the dearth of future shortstops in the Reds farm system. There is no Plan B. Or C. Or D. Sink or swim with the present…for the future. How did we get here?

The origins of the current shortstop crisis go back a decade to a time when the Reds had both Didi Gregorius and Zack Cozart. Wayne Krivsky had assembled a promising young Reds team before his untimely and messy termination only weeks into the 2008 season. In the 2007 draft, the Reds — with Krivsky at the helm — selected Cozart in the second round, a third-team All-American from the University of Mississippi. Under Krivsky, the Reds also scouted and signed Didi Gregorius out of Curacao in the same year.

In retrospect, the Reds were stacked at shortstop when Walt Jocketty took over in 2008. Jocketty ultimately traded Gregorius in the Shin-Soo Choo deal after the 2012 season. Under Jocketty, the Reds did not draft a shortstop with a meaningful pick from 2008 to 2015; the next was Blake Trahan in 2015.

That’s eight full years that the Reds went without a singular investment in the draft for the most important position on the field (sans the battery of pitcher and catcher). Okay, technically Billy Hamilton and Alex Blandino were high pick investments who played shortstop when drafted, but neither were drafted to play shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds. Finally, Jeter Downs was drafted in 2017, two months out of high school. When Downs signed and was assigned to Billings, it appeared that we might have a sighting of a real shortstop…if you squint long and hard.

What was Walt Jocketty’s plan for acquiring shortstop talent and depth during his tenure? From 2008-2016, Jocketty and the Reds consistently ignored the draft as a mechanism to acquire shortstops. It’s not a stretch to say that the Jocketty plan was specifically NOT to acquire college or high school shortstops through the draft. That’s too bad.

In fact, the Reds had a great opportunity in 2012 to draft a young high school phenom out of North Carolina: Corey Seager with the #14 overall pick. Jocketty took Nick Travieso instead. Of course he did. You can never have too many young pitchers, right? The Dodgers, the uber-rich pitching deep franchise that doesn’t need to draft or scout or develop, took Seager at #18. (Yes, this is 20/20 hindsight, but still…)

In my opinion, it’s pretty clear where Jocketty was singularly focused — Latin America. He concentrated on signing weak hitting Latino/Venezuelan shortstops and running them through the Reds’ Dominican leagues. Perhaps he thought he had mastered the Davey Concepcion recipe for shortstop development. How did Jocketty’s shortstop plan for nearly a decade work out? The 2017 Reds minor league shortstop picture is depressing.

Carlos Rivero (Class-A Dayton): .192/.229/.221/.451

Hector Vargas (Class-A Dayton): .202/.235/.261/.496

Luis Gonzalez (A/A+): .281/.290/.398/.688

Alfredo Rodriguez (A+): .247/.286/.296/.583

Blake Trahan (AA): .216/.301/.257/.557

Zach Vincej (AAA; 37th round pick in 2012): .272/.327/.333/.660

The offensive stats of shortstops at the Reds AAA/AA/A+ and low A are…well, offensive.

The Reds tried multiple times to acquire Jose Peraza. After reviewing the shortstop crisis in the Reds minor league system, it’s fairly apparent now why the Reds targeted Peraza when they did. Someone in the front office acknowledged the obvious. Who plays shortstop when Cozart doesn’t? There was no succession plan for Cozart. That’s a shortstop crisis.

I am now Jose Peraza’s biggest fan. You should be too. What happens if his quad gets injured? Wayne Krivsky and his team did a great job in short order in scouting, signing/drafting, and partially-developing Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius. What a difference a decade makes at shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.

76 thoughts on “Does Cincinnati have a shortstop crisis?

  1. It is not a well stocked position by any means. However, the system is not devoid of talent, it’s just that all the talent lies in rookie leagues. Between Downs, Miguel Hernandez, and Jose Israel Garcia there is a lot of athletic, high upside shortstops in the system. But those guys represent the SS at the AZL and Pioneer league levels, with Garcia not even stateside.

    The full season guys all have big questions. Rodriguez could be an elite defender today with the Reds but hasn’t shown any ability to hit. Vincej has hit pretty well the past two seasons and is very good with the glove (rated best in the minors last season) but it’s hard to imagine he would hit well enough to play every day (although Peraza isn’t setting that bar high). Gonzalez has shown signs of life at the plate this season but he’s primarily played 3B. Vargas hasn’t hit this season after showing some potential before, but he’s also played off SS a lot this season. Daal may be the real wild card if he can get/stay on the field.

  2. Suarez….next question? Senzel and platoon Scooter/Blandino at 2B. Blandino is having a nice year (.834 ops/.379 obp) and can take a walk. There’s your utility guy.

    • Agreed. With peraza moving to the Alcantara role next year until he can prove otherwise. I would give vincej a shot when September call ups are available however. And try to acquire more shortstop depth in the future with potential trades and the draft next year

    • Bingo! Though the point still stands that this is not an organizational “plan,” particularly when we were all giddy at how we got him in exchange for Simon. I said to my fiancee a few days ago that “almost everyone drafted is a pitcher, catcher, huge bat, or SS/CF.” They move guys to 2B/3B and the corner OF spots. Occasionally a Senzel or 1B comes through as such, but generally-speaking, all the best corner players in the bigs started up the middle and moved over.

  3. I’ve been making this point for some time now – not that the Reds need to acquire and develop organizational depth at shortstop, which they do, but that they need to extend Cozart because there are no other good options in the system. Yes, his health is an issue and he needs to get healthy too. Heck, shut him down for 2017 if that’s what I takes – it’s a lost season already. But this little summary makes me wonder about drafting. High school studs pretty much all pitch or play shortstop. Often the best third basemen, second basemen, and even many outfielders (think Billy Hamilton) are converted shortstops. Why haven’t the Reds drafted a slew of shortstops in recent years? Many will end up at other positions and that’s fine, but you won’t find a slick shortstop by converting someone from another position. I wish I had a good answer to that question Ron. I wish Peraza was better at baseball. I wish Barry Larkin was 26 again. I hope Cozart stays a Red and gets healthy again. And I hope there are a couple of stud shortstops who can hit in the next draft class. Sigh.

    • I agree CFD

      And fortunately the market for Zack will be depressed enough that we can afford him.

      There is no rebuild plan at SS

      Peraza is in the field at SS what was thought… Average at best

      • We do have Peraza, Gennett, and potentially Suarez/Herrera up the middle…yeah, Cozart should stay, one of the three should man 2B, and we hope Senzel is a good 3B (all indications are positive). Then we decide who to keep of Duvall/Schebler/Winker/Suarez for the OF corners. I’d vote the last two based on age and get a few starters for the first two, but I’m thinking 2019, I know. Still, the cupboard isn’t exactly bare everywhere…

  4. I didn’t really know that we had a shortstop crisis. So thanx for bringing it to my attention. But…with that being said, if the first number in those stat lines you gave for the minor leaguers is batting average, then I’d say that there’s at least a little hope for Gonzalez and Vincej. But, I do take a little offense at your closing statement about Peraza. Why should I be Peraza’s biggest fan (this is aside from my thing of not being a fan of any singular reds players from now on…except Votto…grandfathered in) just bcuz there’s a lack of shortstops in the minors? I’m not gonna be any players biggest fan just bcuz there might be a shortage in the minors… especially if the big league version of that player sucks. And especially not bcuz someone told me to be. You said yourself that Peraza is weak-hitting. But…I always say that Peraza could prove me wrong, he could prove me right as well though, just like Gonzalez or Vincej or any of those MnL SS’s could prove you wrong…or right. So, we can never really say for sure how a player’s gonna turn out. That shouldn’t stop us from leaning one way or the other on a young player bcuz that’s part of the fun…I guess. And we all certainly have that right. But the Reds should have enough money freed up to buy a free agent SS and, if one not available via FA, then what would be the harm in giving Vincej or even Gonzalez a shot…they seem to be the best 2 in the minors. Sure they may not be ready but it wouldn’t be the first time a player was brought up before he was ready and it wouldn’t be the last. Sometimes players surprise us…whether they’re ready or not. But, I do agree that the Reds need to focus on drafting some SS prospects. But please don’t presume to tell us who we should or should not be a fan of. I will give you the benefit of the doubt, though, on the off-chance you didn’t mean it like that. If that’s the case then I’m sorry for taking it the wrong way.

    • I think he’s merely saying we should all want Peraza to succeed. I agree with that sentiment. Things would be so much better if Peraza turns into a useful everyday regular.

      • Patrick/VaRedsFan, I understand if that’s what he meant. Not sure if I agree with the sentiment though. I’ll have to think awhile about how I feel about Peraza. I’ve never believed in him bcuz I don’t believe he’ll get any better. But, I will maintain that there’s a small chance I could be wrong. It’s just that I don’t see what the Reds and some others see in him as side from his defense and some speed. Offensively is what I’m talking about. I get a little tired of players who are accepted bcuz they play defense well and/or have some speed but who can’t hardly hit. If I’m not mistaken the early scouting reports on Peraza said that he wasn’t all that good with the bat. And yet the Reds are probably still willing to put all their eggs in his basket. What’s wrong with Vincej? So basically I’m torn. I’ve developed a little bit of dislike for Peraza (I think) but at the same time the team I’ve loved for the last 28 yrs have made him their choice for whatever reason. And they keep giving him AB’s in spite of his horrible swing. So, I kinda got to hope he gets better. It just feels like I’m kinda being forced to hope for a player that I don’t believe in bcuz the Reds believe in him so much. As I’ve said, I’ve been a reds fan for 28 yrs and I ain’t going nowhere. And everybody is willing to keep him around just bcuz he’s young and MIGHT get better. Maybe he will, I can’t predict the future. But just bcuz a player’s young doesn’t mean he’ll automatically get better. I really would appreciate an answer to this next question(s): At what point is a player not considered young anymore? At what point will we reasonably be able to tell what Peraza/ a young player will be able to do? How long are other reds fans willing to wait for Peraza on the off-chance he takes the path that Cozart did offensively (i.e.referring to Cozart’s late bloomerness). I have sensed the tide turning against Peraza a little though…but not much. There are still holdouts. I don’t know. Bottom line is that he’s a Red for whatever the reason so I hope he turns it around…but soon!

    • I didn’t read it that way at all. I think he means that we better hope that Peraza turns it around, because there’s not much in the minors waiting to step in. They need Peraza to succeed, because his replacement has (to this point) has been worse than him.

  5. I’m on record as believing that there will be little market for Cozart over the winter, for much the same reason that there wasn’t a trade market for him this year. The contending teams already have shortstops that they are content with, and the rebuilding teams won’t spend their money on Cozart and will instead stay within their own systems. Plus, he is an injury risk. I think Cozart may be more easy to sign for a short extension than is generally assumed.

    Peraza is hopeless, in my view. His swing is god-awful; he swings like a lefty reliever batting right-handed. It’s hard to see how Vincej could be any worse. Suarez would be a stop-gap at short, but he has matured enormously as a defender in the past year and a half, so maybe he would be OK until somebody else is ready. And there are always plenty of replacement-level guys out there, like Vincej.

  6. We all know the story of how the Reds passed up Derek Jeter during the tenure of Jim Bowden ,too. Admittedly, we had an All -Star Gold Glove , future HOF’er in Barry Larkin manning the position for 19 seasons as his predessor did in Dave Concepcion, so it could be argued that the crisis goes back to the three years prior to Barry Larkin’s retirement when the Reds could have and should have drafted a SS to develop and be ready to step in when Barry retired . They tried to plug it with Felipe Lopez via a trade , but it’s been a revolving door until Cozart made his way through the system . Of course Suarez came over in the Simon trade from Detroit, but his youth and lack of polish at SS was a recipe for a pile of errors . His defense has vastly improved since moving to 3rd and learning from Freddie Benevides, so there is hope that he could be capable enough to slide back over and hold the position until Downs is ready . The Reds will probably give Peraza another year to get it together and prove himself, but if he doesn’t, then Suarez will take the spot again when Senzel takes over 3rd at the Major League level .

    • Derek Jeter is obviously an all time great, however, he had the good fortune to be drafted by the Yankees at the perfect time. Steinbrenner was suspended so the Yankees were putting their vast resources towards player development and not buying aging home run hitters. Jeter’s confidence and overall development certainly benefited from being at exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Gene Michel built the Yankees in George’s absence and should probably be in the HOF.

      During that era, the Reds were allocating every dollar that didn’t go towards Pall Malls and Vodka towards the major league payroll. Their player development system was not a priority and was atrocious. Could Jeter have overcome the Schott, Bowden and Allen dysfunction/ clown show and become Derek Jeter? I don’t think that is a given.

      Lots of talented players fail because their surroundings aren’t conducive towards their development.

      • I would argue much the same. Had we drafted Jeter, he would NOT be the HOF shoe in of today. He might not even be receiving votes when his time comes and he might never have been an all-star. You’d think he’d still be at least solid with Reds, but you place Jeter with all the MLB teams and I bet he is all-star with half and HOF with just 5 or 6. Given the Reds poor track record of development and their penchant for having to let most good players walk away (payroll), Jeter would not likely have been a 20 year Red with HOF resume…very low probability.

  7. Thanks for the write-up on an important topic. When Senzel is ready to take over third base, Suarez should move to shortstop. In the interim, until a prospect moves ahead, Peraza/Cozart will be at shortstop.

  8. One thing the Reds have working in their favor is prospect depth. I wish they had done more at the deadline yesterday to shore up the starting pitching and SS. Given the abundance of shortstops around the majors, that means there’s likely a decent one who is being blocked—now would be the perfect time to take advantage of the supply/demand in our favor.

    In the absence of that, I do like the idea of resigning Cozy for 2 years <$25mil. Even if you account for regression back to his career norms, he's a 2 win player and would provide surplus value if we can get him for that price. Peraza has zero chance of getting you 2 WAR with his lack of OBP or power.

      • There are soon-to-be redundancies that we could use as trade bait—guys in that next wave of talent that will likely be blocked by more established players. I mean, besides SS and CF and maybe C, there won’t be many opportunities moving forward. Heck, even the rotation will be tough to crack if just two of Mahle/Stephenson/Romano/Lorenzen/Finnegan/Garrett/Reed pan out. The others are relegated to the bullpen where Iglesias/Peralta/AHernandez/Herget likely already had the inside track or get used as trade bait. That leaves guys in the next wave like VGutierrez/Santillan/Shed Long waiting in the wings for how long???

        I foresee a Grandal/Alonso for Latos type trade in the offseason. Multiple players for one cost controlled player.

      • Who I would like to trade and who it would take are two different things. Probably would take a couple good players to land someone. If say Trammel would probably be a starter and honestly, for a pretty good SS prospect Of listen on anyone not named Senzel. Yes that would include Winker, Siri, Garett, Stephenson… Probably take 2 good non-SS prospects to land a decent SS prospect that’s near ready and blocked.

    • The only (good) problem with resigning Cozart would be Senzel! He’s coming fast and should be ready on Opening day or atleast early on. Scooter can hit righties! Suarez is up-n-down, but I really think there is a .280 hitter w/25-30 HR potential in there somewhere? They could turn Suarez into a Ben Zobrist type? Platoon w/Scooter, backup Cozart, and possibly a little corner OF? That would take the ability of a manager to adapt and overcome so Price would have to be gone (Pleeeeeeassssseeee????)

  9. Cozart’ trade value was almost certainly impacted by injury concerns. You can’t take on a short term rental that may not be able to stay on the field over 60 games.

    However, his value as a free agent may not be as diminished as many think. A solid player/person that can play 120 games per year will have value in the open market. I don’t think he’s going to be inclined to sign anything…..certainly not a discounted, short term deal….until he tests the open market

    • Yeah, agree here. If you believe the ‘insiders,’ the Red Sox were considering Cozart to play third base. I’m sure the DL trip took care of that. But if teams have other ways to use him than strictly shortstop, or could live with 120 games a year, who’s to say his value is gone?

    • I think you’re higher on his market than I am. It will depend on if he can come back and play some before the off-season. Medicals will also play into it. I don’t see him signing a short-term inexpensive deal without testing the market. That said, I think his market may end up being in a neighborhood the Reds can afford. 2yr-$25-million or 3-$30-million are about where I expect him to be. May be a vesting option in there for playing time or good sized incentives for performance too. He also may sign a 1-yr “show me” deal deal and then retest the market after 2018.

      • And I’ll add that I find it very unlikely that his agent wouldn’t push for him to sign a QO if the Reds offered one (they shouldn’t). It’s a shame for Cozart because he was probably looking at 4yr/$60-million had he stayed healthy. Maybe more if he had a 2nd half even close to as productive as his first.

  10. Agree, great article. Besides starting pitching, SS and C have me the most concerned.

    While Cozart is hurt, I wish the Reds would move Suarez to SS for the next few weeks, just to see what he can do. Yes, he struggled at SS, but he also struggled at 3B before becoming the next Mike Schmidt (mostly kidding).

    I’d love to see if this defensive resurgence can also appear at SS. If yes, then you don’t consider resigning Cozart.

  11. You ignore gino and half our ss prospects. Not like they did not try. This guy is way off. We may have a problem but there is a lot of talent to fill the role. Not all draft picks work. These guys are young but there are a ton of them. We singed 2 out of Cuba. We traded for 2. We drafted several over his term. Walt was a great gm. His only real down fall was not going for it and holding his prospects. Gino could play there tomorrow. Duvall could go back to 3ed and finally bring Jessie up or a ton or other guys. Paraza has not even played a full year. So he is far from throwing away. Prospects don’t all hit right away!

    • We have no idea whether Suarez could competently play SS, and the scouts have overwhelmingly said in the past that Duvall was a borderline disaster at 3B.

      Walt’s biggest mistake was that he waited a year and a half too long to starting rebuilding.

        • You’re right about a year and a half too long. Arguably even more than that. It was pretty obvious after 2012 that the team was on fumes in 2013.

          Here’s the Reds top prospect list going into 2013:
          https://www.minorleagueball.com/2013/1/13/3871536/cincinnati-reds-top-20-prospects-for-2013

          How ugly is that? They were going to lose Choo after 2013, Ludwick was old, hurt, and not very good. BP was already on the decline, and all of the pitchers were about to get really expensive. Smart, well run organizations don’t have to go through the drawn out rebuild process the Reds are currently in. Shrewdly trading valuable players for multiple pieces is how teams stay relevant.

        • I know he already played there, but he hasn’t played much SS in almost two seasons, and he wasn’t good there that season. I think he should be an option at SS going forward, but he’s likely a below-average defender at SS.

          • I just remember cringing with Suarez at SS. Have trouble believing he “could play there tomorrow”. Let’s face it, he’s become a far better defensive third baseman than any of us thought he could be. I would prefer not to mess with that at the chance he could be average to a little below at SS.

      • I wonder with the increase in fly balls, home runs, walks and strikeouts just how much value defense has lost.

        For instance, in 2010 Reds starting pitchers had an 11 WAR and struck out 17% of batters. This year, Reds starting pitchers have been below replacement level but have still struck out almost 19% of hitters. The 2010 bullpen struck out 20%; this year’s is striking out 23%.

        Simply put, there are fewer balls in play than 10 years ago, and the trend is accelerating. If Peraza struggles to put up a wRC+ even in 60s or 70s, I think it makes sense to let Suarez try SS again. and use the $20-30 million you’d spend on Cozart on the pitching staff.

        • Good point! Thats not something that normally comes to mind. There is something that might reverse some of that though! If the Reds ever wise up then they’ll start moving away from flyball pitchers and concentrate more on groundball pitchers. More groundballs obv means the shortstop is more involved in your defense.

          Ratios from this year:

          Arroyo Groundball-Flyball 82-174
          Adleman GB-FB 112-197
          Feldman GB-FB 144-165
          Castillo GB-FB 73-53
          Lorenzen GB-FB 92-66
          Romano GB-FB 32-29
          Bailey GB-FB 65-63

        • Strong observation! That’s exactly the kind of thing that I hope analytic departments are looking at. I know some SABR members are so I sure hope people who get paid to evaluate are doing the research trying to answer that question.

  12. Great insight Ron. It is a problem that should have never been a problem. Just more ramifications of the Jocketty era.
    To add insult to injury for the Reds, here is the list of potential free agents at SS for this upcoming winter. Age in ( ). From mlbtr.

    Alexi Amarista (29) — $2.5MM club option with a $150K buyout
    Erick Aybar (34)
    Darwin Barney (32)
    Asdrubal Cabrera (32) — $8.5MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Zack Cozart (32)
    Stephen Drew (35)
    Alcides Escobar (31)
    Danny Espinosa (31)
    J.J. Hardy (35) — $14MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Jed Lowrie (34) — $6MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Eduardo Nunez (31)
    Cliff Pennington (34)
    Jhonny Peralta (36)
    Adam Rosales (35)
    Eric Sogard (32)

    Leaves a lot to be desired. Cozart would lead that list. So, the Reds can’t remedy their SS crisis through free agency next year. If Peraza isn’t the answer at SS for 2018, then the Reds will have to hit the trade market this winter.
    The SS position going forward, what is the plan?
    The 2B position going forward, what is the plan?
    The leadoff spot in the lineup, what is the plan?
    The RF position, what is the plan?
    What is the plan really for 3B, for C, and CF??
    And we haven’t even asked about what the plan is for the pitching.
    Whew, Ron, unfortunately I don’t think you can limit it to one position in crisis.
    I think The Plan and The Rebuild are in a crisis.
    Good work.

    • I’d add that Peraza is a problem in the line-up in part because of Billy Hamilton—two holes instead of one. A MLB batting order can afford one no-hit guy. Two is problematic.

      Also, these things can change very quickly. The Reds went from OF-deficient to OF rich in about two years.

      • I have said this a couple of times myself. It’s not that a line up can’t carry Peraza, if he were really good defensively at an important defensive position. It’s just that it can’t carry both Peraza and Hamilton because, combined with the pitcher’s spot, it will make a 3rd of your line up relatively easy outs. And it’s likely they’ll be in proximity to each other in the line up (8, 9, 1) making for potentially easy innings.

    • Thanks for the FA info.
      Chad has a link on RLN twitter for the podcast of Dick Williams interview on Lance McCallister’s show last night . It’s a good listen .

    • #RebuildBinder I am so unimpressed with it so far. Wish I knew what was really available when. Seems the Reds have missed on a lot of guys and made a huge mistake in not moving Chapman and Frazier at that deadline.

  13. Wayne Krivsky was a bad GM who made two horrible trades. he deserved to get fired. The Josh Hamilton and Austin Kearns trades were terrible and not defendable.

    • I think Krivsky was underrated and put a lot of really strong pieces together that Jocketty rode to the playoffs. The recent article profiling big trades of the last decade even showed how irreleveant the Kearns trade turned out to be. Cannot judge someone just on two moves alone.

      • If Krivsky was a good GM why has he not been hired b y any other team as a GM in the last 9 years? He had his chance, he failed. That Hamilton trade will always frustrate me.

      • Hamilton was also 1 out from hit the series winning HR and being the MVP! Put him with the 2012 Reds team and they might’ve outhit everyone!

        • To hear Franchester Martin Brennaman tell it, Krivsky was under the gun to move Josh Hamilton because of the problem his special treatment created with Dunn and Griffey. Maybe Krivsky should have kept him regardless, but teams do worry about the clubhouse effect as well.

          • I had heard that it was BP that was having issues with Hamilton’s special treatment. Maybe it was all 3.

  14. It seems every where I turn I am reminded of the ineptitude of the Walt Jocketty Regime. If the Reds are garbage until 2020+, the blame falls squarely on Jocketty. While the rest of the league was busy collecting incredibly talented young hitters, the Reds were busy collecting pitchers who aren’t panning out.

    On a different note, why not move Suarez or Senzel back to shortstop? Both played it in the past (albeit Senzel was in the college level). This seems like a much better option than turning the keys over to a laughably inconsistent hitter and fielder (Peraza).

  15. I was driving home last night after work listening to MLB Network Radio in the 6:00PM hour. They had a fascinating discussion on pitchers “tipping their pitches”. I think it was Brian Kenney, Carlos Pena, and another ex-player.
    It has been an issue with several of the young Reds pitchers over the last couple of years. And we have heard it most recently about Cody Reed and some with Amir Garrett. However, we haven’t really been privy to how the pitchers were tipping their pitches and what they were doing.
    It was a very remarkable discussion on just how MLB hitters can pick up on some of the very subtle hints that some (mostly young) pitchers give to hitters. It used to be back in the day that hitters tried to spy the grip the pitcher had on the ball. But now, it has a lot to do with the pitchers glove and how they hold their glove. And with knowing what pitches a pitcher has in his arsenal.
    I wish I had been able to listen to the whole conversation but I got home with groceries to unpack in the middle of it.

    • I watched on the mlb network. Third person was Eric Byrnes, I think.

      yes, it was an interesting segment, and I also thought of the young Red’s pitchers while watching.

      • It as Eric Byrnes. It sounded as if it was simulcast from the TV Network but I wasn’t sure. That is good. I hope I can go back on their web page and find it. I would like to see the video comparisons they were talking about.
        You are right, it was hard to not think of the Reds young pitchers there. I hope that is what Reed, Garrett, and Stephenson to a degree are working on when they say they are working on mechanical issues. That possibly could have been why Stephenson didn’t get called back up so soon after seeming to right his ship at AAA, that the Reds waited a couple of extra weeks to work on it more before coming back to the Reds.
        A fascinating part was the part about if a pitcher only had two or three different pitches, if the pitcher was only tipping one pitch, it wasn’t hard then to pick out the other pitch by elimination. For instance if a pitcher only has a slider and a fastball, and he is tipping the slider, then when the pitcher isn’t tipping slider, you know the fastball is coming. And MLB hitters gearing up for fastballs when they know it is coming is disaster for pitchers. Welcome to the Reds rotation.

    • Didn’t hear it but yes, hitters, especially hitters that make their living hitting can spot a myriad of things as far as pitch tipping. It can be as simple as where the pitcher starts on the rubber. Add in that every pitch from every game is now recorded for people to watch over and over and you add in not just the look of a pitcher but his tendencies in certain counts etc. All that data combined with video and live eyeballs means I’d hate to be a pitcher in MLB.

  16. Caalten Dahl was pretty good last year at AA ball. He’s hurt and not playing this year. Don’t know where he will be next year, or if he will be able to play Winter Ball and get back into shape.
    He’s a singles – doubles hitter, not much power, but he did hit for average and reached base.

    • Thanks for mentioning Daal. He is 24 and struggling to stay healthy. Certainly a breakthrough/bounce-back from one of these guys would be a big boost.

  17. I think a starting pitcher acquisition is probably the most important offseason priority and would encourage the Reds to address the SS situation internally. I don’t mind resigning Cozart if the opportunity presents itself and I don’t mind giving the job to Peraza for a year either.

    I also wouldn’t mind grabbing a guy like Freddy Galvis (trade, being pushed out by J.P. Crawford), Trevor Story, (trade), or even a veteran band-aid like J.J. Hardy if the price is right.

    What they do with Duvall, Schebler, or Hamilton in the offseason will probably affect the SS position the most. Ideally those guys are involved in a trade for a starting pitcher, but maybe a guy like Story becomes available. Duvall in LF or B-Ham in CF in Coors would be good fits for an organization like Colorado.

    I don’t think the Reds will/should consider moving Suarez to SS. You might as well trade him.

  18. Would it be possible to get Suarez a few games at SS through the end of this season? If your best prospect (who is one of the top prospects in all baseball) is likely to be ready to play 3B sometime next season, I would think finding out if your current third-baseman can go back to his original position at short would be a good idea.
    It appears likely that they will both need to be in the lineup together soon, why not start figuring out your options now?

  19. Depends on if Peraza can improve his plate discipline and/or start maintaining a .310 BABIP regularly with his low K rate. Also depends on if he can improve his defense there.

    • I just don’t see Peraza turning into much? Peraza never really hit at AAA? A .694 ops in 2015 and .708 ops in 2016. Dave Concepcion made himself a better hitter (679 career ops) as he got older but obviously the BRM could carry him. I also think its safe to say that Peraza will never be half as good defensively. The Reds just can’t carry Billy, Jose, and Tucker who might combine for 15-20 HRs on the year.

      • Can’t say I disagree. I’ve always hated his approach and was not at all happy when the Reds seemed to be pursuing him heavily. It’s not all about the long ball but it’s about hitting. If you don’t have much power and don’t get on base a ton though, you’re not contributing much offensively.

  20. Ron, nice piece of writing here. Thought provoking even if I may not fully agree with everything put forth. I’ll look forward to perhaps more of these sorts of pieces if you find the time. And as always, will look forward to your Old-School comments on other threads.

  21. I know Peraza has left a lot to be desired this season, but I still don’t think fans (and Marty) should give up on him so quickly. His plate approach and D are frustrating but he’s still only 23 years old.

    2 tweets from last week:

    “While Jose Peraza keeps getting piled on, it’s worth noting that at age 23, Zack Cozart was hitting .262 in AA with 23 errors in 118 G.”

    “Age 22-23 season –
    Larkin .254/.310/.380 .689 OPS 81 OPS+ 23 errors
    Peraza .279/.306/.359 .665 OPS 74 OPS+ 9 errors”

  22. It does seem our primary strategy for SS at the moment is “Hope” … that encompasses Peraza, Cozart, Suarez and the young guns at lower levels of the farm system. I like the way you pointed out this is far from a new situation. It does go back decades.

  23. I would re-sign Cozart, If they can’t I am fine with Peraza. I’m not expecting them to win next year.

  24. I’m sorry but I don’t see the shortstop position as a crisis. If the Reds resign Cozart it’s a total nonissue. If they don’t, Suarez is controlled thru 2020 and Peraza thru 2022. For those who doubt Suarez as a SS, most of us doubted him at 3B; I’m not doubting him again. Suarez’s bat would play nice at SS and probably would more than overcome any defensive deficiencies. Peraza is a passable plan C, and his ability to grow at the plate as he gets older shouldn’t be dismissed. If Cozart (plan A), Suarez (B), AND Peraza ALL don’t pan out, then you might have an issue at SS, but by that time all of the low level MiLB guys should have sorted themselves out.

    I’m also not flipping out about the starting pitching. Next year the rotation should be :

    Castillo
    Disco
    Bailey
    Finnegan
    Any of a half dozen youngsters

    Those sounding the alarm should go back and look at the Reds roster from a dozen or so years ago.

    • And now it seems that Disco may be a candidate for TJ surgery ….

      Maybe we will get something from him in 19 & 2020.

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