Big League Ready

Reading Between the Lines

We are nearing the end of the minor league season now and as we all start thinking intensely about next year, I think it’s useful to take a look at what has and has not been said about the various young players. This may tell us something about what to expect next year.

In the time I’ve been around the clubhouse in Louisville, I have noticed that, when talking to people within management, there are generally 3 types of player comments you get. The most common is the asked-and-answered question (I’m perfectly happy to talk about this player), the asked and dodged question (I don’t want to talk about this player), and the volunteered player (you aren’t paying as much attention to this person as you should be).

The one that should primarily concern Reds fans is the asked and dodged questions. We opened the season anticipating the arrivals of Stephenson, Garrett, and Reed. Even though Stephenson is in the rotation right now and having generally encouraging results, his peripherals aren’t very good and, unless I’ve missed something, there has been no talk of a spot next year being assured. In fact, there hasn’t been long term talk at all. The same is true of Reed and Garrett. There’s no talk. And no talk means there’s nothing to talk about. Add to that the rumblings that the Reds may go looking on the free agent market this winter, and questions start to arise about what they are still expecting from these players.

Romano, however, seems to be making headway. He’s had several good starts and even his bad starts haven’t been disasters. He looks like a serviceable fourth or fifth starter. There’s also been at least a little talk about him.

In the infield, it seems easy to tell that the Reds aren’t any more sure of what’s going to happen than we are. They’ve been moving Blandino around the diamond in AAA lately (one assumes this is to try to make him a utility player), but having watched him there, he doesn’t seem like a solution at short. What is interesting is that, when asked about Senzel, there is usually talk of his “athleticism,” which is often used as a code word for someone who can be moved if need be. Given that, I’d expect Suarez to stay at third with Senzel sliding over to second. HOWEVER, Suarez did get a little pinch time at short recently and he at least CAN play there in theory. And I haven’t even mentioned Scooter Gennett.

The problem is shortstop. Suarez, Senzel, Gennett, and Blandino make sure the Reds are more than covered at second and third. But their only good defensive options at short are Cozart, who would be expensive and risky to keep, and Peraza, who hasn’t hit well, in general. Peraza HAS been hitting (and walking) much better lately. If he can continue you that, it would make everyone’s life much easier. And Infield of Suarez, Senzel, Votto, and a Peraza getting on base at a league-average (or better) clip wouldn’t draw any complaints. Peraza’s approach has been visibly different lately and I’m certainly hoping it sticks.

In the outfield, don’t worry about who’s starting from one day to the next. Winker is going to play next year. Schebler is healthy and Winker is still in Cincinnati. He’s going to be there until the end of the year and he’s going to be in the outfield more often than not next year. The Reds seems to be leaning more toward some kind of outfield rotation that gives everyone at bats, and we may end up with Schebler as a fourth outfielder who still ends up close to 500 PAs.

That’s a lot of reading between the lines, of course, but I really do think you can often tell more from what teams don’t say.

26 thoughts on “Reading Between the Lines

  1. Peraza’s defensive metrics per baseball reference, through roughly 1/2 season of play show he is quite a bit below average defender at Short. I just can’t see him being the answer at Short. Luckily for him he’s probably going to get a chance next year to prove me wrong. I hope he does.

    I also prefer the potential of Herrera or Blandino at second over peraza. Have you ever heard discussion of Senzel being moved to the outfield?

    Thanks!

    • Everything I’ve read indicates infield. Whenever Reds bras is asked about him, they say he’s “athletic enough to play short” or something to that effect. I’d guess second, but we’ll see. If they think Suarez can play short, they may go that way and let Scooter or Blandino handle second.

  2. In the extremely unlikey circumstance that Finnegan & DeSclafani are healthy, plus Homer Bailey can regain his pre-injury(s) form, all by next April, then Castillo & Romano fill out the rotation. No need to expect much from any of Stephenson, Garrett, or Reed. Besides, Mahle & Moscot may render those 3 even less important. As I read between the lines, at the point at which the Reds finally have enough starting pitching ; they’ll suddenly have more than they need.

    • I think it’s a bit much to rely on Bailey, Disco, and Finnegan. If they get one pitcher’s worth of starts from those three, they’ll be lucky. They’re gonna need help.

    • What is the latest on Moscot? I looked at Baseball Ref. and it shows him on Minors 60-Day DL. Also he hasn’t pitched since last year.

  3. It could happen that Finny,Disco and Homer are injury free next year then throw in a couple more young guys and presto we get much much better on the mound.Problem is we have said that for two years and to say that again for 2018 and beyond is foolish.this year should have been one of those year when management said hey we may never get these guys back so lets go full steam ahead and let some of these guys get 20/25 starts and lest see what they can do.Instead they gave a few guys a few starts and to date have either anointed them for next year or threw them under the bus.Once Castillo and Romano have a few stinkers and they will then there they go under the bus.Keep in mind our starters have been sooooooo bad we think as Castillo did last time out that 90 pitches in 4 innings with only two runs allowed is a good thing.Personally the experience he is getting is more valuable then his performance which is why the Reds haven’t found out much about any of their young guys.They have got caught up in the numbers which don’t mean anything this year in the big picture which is to prepare for the future.Got to get hammered once in a while.Its a good attention getter.

  4. I assume Peraza will get a shot at SS next year with Suarez at 3B, at least at the start of the season. Senzel will most likely be kept at AAA to start the year if for nothing else to preserve team control. If Senzel is still playing 3B at Spring Training it will probably set Suarez up to move to SS. If Senzel starts getting time at 2B in spring training Suarez keeps his position at 3B. I believe someone mentioned Suarez referred to SS as his natural position so that may be the long term plan. In the OF, as I have said before I would be open to trying Schebler in CF and using Hamilton as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement. I see no reason to trade any of the OF options the Reds have at this time. Duvall, Schbeler, and Winker are all cheap productive options until arbitration starts driving the price up.

    • That time is here.
      Suarez’s first arbitration eligible year is this winter.
      BillyHam’s second arbitration eligible year is this winter.
      Duval’s first arbitration eligible year is after 2018 season.
      Schebler’s first arbitration eligible year is after 2019 season.
      Extension or Qualifying Offer for Cozart? No thanks. Put that money in Duvall’s or Suarez’s pocket with a new 3-4 year deal.

      • My comment were strictly on the OF, specifically the options in the corner spots. That takes Suarez out of the discussion and Hamilton, also Hamilton probably doesn’t get a large arbitration amount with his numbers. I am referring to the desire of many on the site to trade Duvall or Schebler, when they are still making league minimum and there doesn’t seem to be a large need for corner outfielders around the league at the moment. Obviously if you get a great return for one of them you take it, but they are not going to return a starting pitcher

        • Some OFer is getting traded this winter. Maybe two. With Duvall, BillyHam, Schebler, Winker, Ervin, with Kivlehan and Gennett in the mix, and Elizade also at AAA, somebody is getting traded. And if some of that INF logjam flows to the OF, somebody is getting traded this winter.

          • From what I have seen of Gennett he is horrible in the OF, that was only one game I watched but, it was not good. He is the one guy I could see being traded in a sell high situation like the Reds did with Strailey. However the only thing the Reds currently need is SP, which will require more than Gennett. I don’t understand the theory that all of the Reds pitching prospects are garbage, yet they are somehow going to package them together and trade for a proven SP

          • I don’t understand that theory either, except that it’s fun to talk about and makes people feel warm and fuzzy. Sort of like going through the Monkey Wards catalog before Christmas and putting check marks by everything you want.

  5. Gotta think there’s a significant trade in our future. With our obvious need on the mound and the sheer numbers of pretty good everyday players, we package an OF/IF/P for a #2 pitcher. Something like Winker/Gennet/Garrett for a good #2 (I don’t know what #2s might be considered but of course, would come from some franchise with significant everyday player needs).

    Something like that?

    • I could see Gennet being part of a trade package, but I don’t see Winker or Garrett as two the Reds would be trying to get rid of. Possibly Gennet and three or four prospects for an established SP, similar to the Latos deal, but I don’t think the Reds are one SP away from contention. If 2018 progresses with healthy effective Bailey Finnegan Disco Castillo many pitching questions are answered. If two or more of Disco, Bailey and Finnegan are still injured or just horrible then the Reds should look at dumping prospects.

      My opinion is they need to look at extending the core players now with the extra payroll this off season and look at bolstering the rotation next year if needed. I keep thinking the injuries to the rotation can’t continue at the current rate, but if they do there is no need to pay the going rate for front line starters to get TJ surgery

  6. We still have Ervin, who apparently has been hitting better at AAA (and we’ve seen what he might be capable of up here, though all small sample size disclaimers apply). Maybe Herrera get well, Senzel moves to 2B, Blandino is a backup, Suarez plays SS when Peraza needs a rest…

  7. I liked the idea earlier to pursue Toronto’s Marcus Stroman this winter. But if Stroman can’t be had, maybe the Reds could entice Toronto into trading their closer, Roberto Osuna, for a hefty package. The Reds could then try their conversion strategy again, by turning a reliever into a starter. Osuna is only 22 years old but this will be his 3rd complete season. He has 5 pitches and averages 96 on his fastball. Or it would allow the Reds to finally move Lorenzen back to the rotation and then keep Osuna for a lockdown bullpen. An Iglesias/Osuna back end of the bullpen is a much better weapon than Iglesias/Lorenzen.

  8. I think everybody has reached the point of ticked off. Tired of talking about it .

  9. The fact that Senzel has only played 3B may shed light on the Reds long term plans for both him and Suarez.

  10. It would cost a bundle to acquire a really good major league pitcher that we could afford.Most deep pocket teams develop position players like the Cubs did and then go buy pitchers.Arrieta,Lackey,Lester,Davis etc etc.We have to both and its very very hard especially from a pitching stand point because it really requires patience.As we will need tonight as Romano goes against the Cubs.

  11. With a lot of question marks from the manager on down to the starting pitching, infield and outfield, it’s up to the front office to make decisions that avoids another lost season in 2018.

  12. What’s wrong with a losing season next year? I am not expecting them to win. I think they need more high draft picks. I welcome a lost season.

  13. I really like Blandino starting at second. He is a plus defender there. and I salivate at the prospect of OBP’s from Votto, Blandino, Senzel, Suarez, and Winker all in the line up at the same time. I would think that we would have the highest average OBP in the league.

  14. Peraza is the answer at SS, and only SS, so long as he generates average to above average defense there. Given his ceiling (Ceiling) offensive output of .320/.350/.400 and more likely ideal tip top range .295/.325/.395 he simply cannot be the SS of a winning team with below average defense. So, if he doesn’t do at SS what Suarez has done at 3B in terms of skill improvement on the job, then he becomes a bench player.

    • So far I see a below average glove at shortstop with Peraza, and I think either set of those offensive numbers is a pipe dream. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong at the plate and as long as he’s a Red I hope he does. But I’m not holding my breath. I’d like to see Suarez at 3rd, Cozart at short, Senzel at 2nd and Votto at first with Gennett, Peraza and Blandino as back up / fill in options. And I have no problem if they trade high on Gennett.

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