Welcome to Three Reds Questions (3RQ), a new feature at Redleg Nation. Each week, a group of our writers – and maybe an occasional special guest or select commenter – will answer three important questions concerning our Redlegs. This week, our panel of Reds obsessives includes Nick Carrington, Ashley Davis, Chad Dotson, Nick Kirby, Steve Mancuso and Matt Wilkes. We also want to read your answers in the comments section. Let’s get started:

Question One: Which of the Reds starting pitchers (age 25 or younger) do you expect to take the biggest step forward in 2018?

Nick C: This is really tough because young players vacillate between disappointment and effectiveness so frequently. There’s more growing to do with the youngsters than fans seem to believe. I’ll take Amir Garrett who I think was hampered some by injuries this season. If healthy, the velocity ticks up, and his athleticism allows him to adjust better than he did while injured in 2017. It’s easy to forget that Garrett wasn’t a full-time baseball player until 2014 because of his college basketball career, and he made huge strides immediately after giving up the lesser sport. The stuff is there, especially that nasty slider, but like most of the other young pitchers, Garrett struggles to consistently throw strikes. If given a real chance, Garrett’s walk rate dips, and he pitches more like a 4.00-4.50 FIP guy than the unsightly 7.39 he put up this season.

Ashley: Many fans want to write off Robert Stephenson as a bust, but they forget that he is still just 24 years old. Stephenson’s numbers may not reflect progress from 2016 to 2017 (4.68 ERA in 84.2 innings, with 53 walks and 86 strikeouts), but he looked like an improved pitcher in the second half of the season, particularly in the month of August when he had a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings and gave up just one home run with 13 walks. Building on that success, I think Stephenson takes the biggest step and starts to become what the Reds foresaw when they drafted him out of high school in 2012. While his BB% has remained steady, his K% rose by about four percentage points, and a reason for this is the addition of a slider to his pitch arsenal. If he can just keep improving the number of walks he allows, Stephenson could have a breakout season in 2018.

Chad: My money is on Tyler Mahle. He’s the youngest of the core group of young pitchers, but he has adjusted very well every time he’s bumped up a level in the system. Certainly, Mahle is likely to run into more struggles than he endured in the first four starts of his big league career, and he may never be a top of the rotation starter, but he can be Mike Leake…and that’s not nothing. (Fun fact: Tyler Mahle was second among all Reds starters in 2017 in bWAR.) Mahle may not be in the Reds rotation in April, but he will be in the majors for good by the end of the season.

Nick K: The pitcher I think will take the biggest leap in 2017 is Robert Stephenson. He had a 2.50 ERA over the last two months of the season (9 starts, 1 relief appearance). Stephenson has sort of been forgotten about after all the top prospect hype, but it is important to remember he is younger than Luis Castillo. He has got to find a way to cut down even more on the walks, but he is striking out a lot of hitters, and only allowed two home runs in his last 9 starts.

Steve: I can see a case for Amir Garrett because he was hurt in 2017 or Michael Lorenzen because his problems were mechanical and easily fixed. Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson have big room for improvement and I expect it from both of them. But the answer I’m going with is Luis Castillo, who turns 25 in December. Castillo showed marked improvement in August and September over June and July. Castillo had more strikeouts and fewer walks in the last two months and started to throw a pitch, classified as a sinker, on July 25. After that, his ERA dropped from 3.56 to 2.61, his FIP and xFIP (3.60 to 3.19) also showed big gains. Only five major league pitchers had a better xFIP (Kluber, Sale, Kershaw, Severino and Nelson). So I expect Castillo to be a top-tier starter in 2018, close to an ace.

Matt: The easy answer would be Luis Castillo, but I’ll go outside the box a little bit and say Sal Romano. He has a track record of throwing strikes (7.5 BB% for his minor-league career) and vastly improved his command as the season went on and he became more comfortable attacking MLB hitters. Over the last two months of the season, Romano walked only 7.1 percent of hitters he faced — a small sample size, yes, but a sign of growth after often overthrowing in prior starts. Perhaps the most encouraging part of Romano’s rookie campaign was the development of a third pitch, a change-up, as the season moved along. It’s still a work in progress (and I don’t know why he wasn’t told to start developing the pitch before he got to the majors), but a willingness to throw it at least gives batters another pitch to think about. Another important note: he’s a ground-ball pitcher (50.4 GB%), which is crucial in GABP and with home runs at an all-time high. Romano heads into the offseason with confidence he can pitch at the big-league level, and with more time to refine his change-up, I think he could emerge as the Reds’ No. 4 or 5 starter in 2018.

Question Two: What is the most important trade or free agent acquisition the Reds need to make before the 2018 season?

Nick C: I (slightly) prefer the Reds roll with their young starters for 2018 before potentially acquiring a difference making starter before 2019. I also think they have enough young arms to fill out the bullpen, though I expect them to bring in another veteran down there. Right now, they should focus on acquiring another shortstop to compete with Jose Peraza for a starting position. Maybe that’s Ketel Marte from the Diamondbacks who is still only 24 years old and had some success last season. I’m not sure what that would cost, but the Reds shouldn’t bank on Peraza being the answer with a risky position change for Eugenio Suarez as the fall back option. Don’t give up on Peraza, but the Reds need more depth and competition at that spot.

Ashley: Before the Reds can think about trades or free agent acquisitions, they need to know what will happen with Zack Cozart. They have about a week after the World Series ends to extend a qualifying offer or get an extension done. If the Reds can sign Cozart to a deal akin to 2 years/$30 million, it would help the team tremendously in 2018 and 2019. However, Cozart could decline anything the Reds offer, and that would leave the Reds with a hole at the shortstop position. I know what you’re thinking: what about Jose Peraza? Yes, Peraza is only 23, but I’m still not sold on him. Although Peraza did seem to improve at times in the second half of the season, he’s still a downgrade from Cozart. And of course, all of this hinges on what the Reds decide to do with Scooter Gennett, because Peraza also could play second base if Gennett is traded. That’s the other important decision they need to make. Do they sell high and trade Gennett for a mid-to-high level prospect? (We already know Dick Williams has had success with those kinds of trades. See: Dan Straily). Or do they decide to keep him as a valuable utility player and hope his 2017 success wasn’t limited to one year? Finally, where does Nick Senzel fit into the puzzle, if he’s forced to switch positions since Suarez is at third? As you can see, the Reds have some decisions to make when it comes to the middle infield, and these decisions will probably be made before the Reds start acquiring players via trade or free agency.

Chad: I don’t know if it’s realistic, but the more I think about Christian Yelich, the more I want the Reds to pursue him heavily this off-season. I hadn’t considered the possibility until reading Steve’s recent post, in which he suggested a Yelich for Raisel Iglesias/Billy Hamilton swap. Since then, there has been plenty of buzz that the Marlins are going to be shopping Yelich this off-season, and I dream of plugging Yelich into the Reds lineup. Now, I’m not eager to part with  Iglesias. And you know I’m irrational when it comes to Hamilton. But Yelich has posted 9+ bWAR in his age 24/25 seasons. He’s a huge upgrade. I’m afraid the Reds would have to part with more than Iglesias/Hamilton, but I’d seriously consider it if I were GM Dick Williams. Yelich would look very good indeed in a red and white uniform.

Nick K: The Reds need a quality, established starting pitcher. If for anything else for our sanity. It would be nice if they made a big splash and showed commitment towards the rebuild ending with a guy like Yu Darvish, but a guy like Lance Lynn might do the trick too. The Reds could also try to acquire a SP via trade (looking at you, Chris Archer).

Steve: The Reds should wait another season to acquire a top-of-rotation starting pitcher. The better the young pitchers develop in 2018, the better trade for a top SP they can make. Both shortstop and centerfield are important player position upgrades. If I could only do one this year, it would be centerfield. If the Reds get stuck playing Jose Peraza at SS for most of 2018, it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. He’s 23 and while I’m skeptical he’s going to improve much as a hitter, there’s a case to give him more time and hone his skills at SS. But if the Reds don’t make a move for a new CF, they’ll have to play Billy Hamilton the vast majority of games and he times out in 2019. His trade value is as high now as it’s likely ever to be. So move him and acquire his replacement. That might be one trade or two.

Matt: The most important trade the Reds should make this offseason is dealing Adam Duvall. Opening up consistent playing time for Jesse Winker — the team’s future leadoff hitter (hopefully) — is paramount. Not only is left field Winker’s primary position, but Duvall is the most expendable of the current outfielders. He’s already 29 years old, doesn’t have good plate discipline, and is coming off another dismal second half that killed his overall season production (98 wRC+). He’s streaky, and other teams know that, of course, but some club will chase the gaudy home run totals and solid defense, giving up a decent prospect or two in return.

Question Three: Who will be managing the Reds on Opening Day, 2019?

Nick C: Chad Dotson? He would be a good judge of player talent (thank you, thank you). I really don’t know. I doubt it’s Bryan Price, unless the Reds vastly over perform in 2018. I think Barry Larkin wants it, but he may not fit the profile for Dick Williams who seems more analytically inclined. That’s the biggest problem with forecasting a future manager: We don’t know what Williams values in a manager. I’m guessing they’ll go with a younger, up and coming coach from another organization like Alex Cora in Houston or Brandon Hyde from the Cubs. One of those guys will get a chance soon enough, and the Reds young roster might entice them to Cincinnati.

Ashley: I’ll tell you who it won’t be managing the Reds on Opening Day 2019: Barry Larkin, even though many fans have been clamoring for it. As for who will be managing, it could be Bryan Price or Jim Riggleman. If Price falters or doesn’t show any improvement in 2018, the Reds could promote Riggleman from bench coach to manager. He has the experience, managing for four clubs in the past, but doesn’t have a lot of success, with just a .445 winning percentage. The trend in MLB in recent years is to go with a younger manager, and with Dick Williams as the Reds GM, I could see that as a more likely scenario for the Reds.

Chad: I really want to say Bryan Price, because that would mean the Reds made real progress in 2018 (the Wild Card, perhaps?). While I’m optimistic the Reds can make strides — specifically in the win column — over the next twelve months, I think that Price will be on very thin ice next year. A slow start might mean a quick dismissal. If Barry Larkin wants the job, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he were named the next manager of the Reds. Does he want the job? He hasn’t in the past, according to reports, but that might have changed since the Reds are getting closer to being competitive. So — since I really don’t have any idea — I’m going to go ahead and predict that Bryan Price will be the manager in 2019. Not because I like Price, but because I want the Reds to be really good next year.

Nick K: Bryan Price. I think the Reds will be good enough in 2018 to keep him in 2019. I would still like to see Price improve, mainly with using platoons, but I don’t think he is as terrible as he is sometimes made out to be (maybe Dusty lowered my expectations so much).

Steve: The Reds won’t keep Bryan Price. Price may not even make it through 2018 if the Reds don’t get off to a quick start. Dick Williams will appease restless fans. In that case, Jim Riggleman will get his turn as the interim manager. But Williams will want a fresh face – his guy – to skipper the new team he’ll have built. I don’t see how the Reds can not hire Barry Larkin in 2019. Larkin is a former Reds player, Cincinnati native, familiar with the organization and recalls the glory of 1990. He’s a winner, was the N.L. MVP, 11-time All-Star and 3-time Gold Glove recipient. Easy sell to ownership and fans. Larkin wouldn’t be my choice. Former players often have outdated views about baseball. Former stars don’t always work out as leaders. But it’s gonna be former University of Michigan shortstop, Barry Larkin. Straight inside job, homey. One person interviewed. #RedsWay

Matt: Unless the Reds have a surprisingly strong season in 2018, I don’t think it’ll be Bryan Price. While bringing him back next season doesn’t have much of an effect (unless he continues to play young players infrequently), there’s not much reason to believe he’s the manager who will lead the Reds back to the promised land, either. If 2019 is when we can realistically expect the club to be a contender again, I think the managerial search begins a year from now. I don’t have even the slightest clue who the Reds might go after — who knows what will happen with other managers and coaches over the next year — but I do know there needs to be a more thorough interviewing process this time around. Price was essentially the only person considered for the job in 2013. That can’t happen again. Dick Williams needs to talk to as many candidates as possible and find the best fit for the position, whether that person is already in the organization or not.

Join the conversation! 65 Comments

  1. I love Barry Larkin, but no, he’s not a good fit for our team, and as you pointed out, it’s hard to gauge a new manager without knowing what Dick Williams would like to see in a new one. I also agree that someone from one of the more recently successful organizations, such as Houston or the Cubs (love the managerial styles of each, plus Houstan’s got a repeatable model), per your examples, would be a good fit for the young players on the Reds’ staff.

    And I hate to say it, but I agree with pretty much everything you’ve stated about pitching and the potential in a Yelich trade. The guy would be such a boon, a catalyst for the team’s success, and it’s hard to envision that the Reds wouldn’t pursue such a nab. They’d be foolish not to. Iglesias, Hamilton, and an infield prospect (Blandino, someone in the top 25) would be a nice package, IMO. The Reds are stacked with infielders from drafts to international signings, and departing with one or two where there’s really no room would be a nice deal. Don’t get me wrong, I love Iglesias and Hamilton, but if Iggy isn’t going to be a starting pitcher, he’s available, and Hamilton, IMO, needs a change in environment. Love that guy too because of his unprecedented dynamism, but boy, Yelich would be the 2nd coming of Eric the Red.

    Throw in that the Reds need to do something to get fans in the seats, and Yelich is the guy to do it. His play and bat would easily make up for the departure of Cozart and Hamilton combined. Not in this necessarily this batting order, but Winker, Senzel, Votto, Yelich, Suarez, Duval/Schebler, Barnhardt, Peraza/Gennet? Wow. Plus Gennet and one of Duval or Schebler could also be offered for a different trade all together outside of Yelich. Heck, considering Phil Ervin and the others in the minors are ripping it in the outfield, both Schebler and Duval could warrant trades, at least for 2019 trade potentials. Sorry, went down the tangent rabbit hole on that one, but the Reds have the pieces to do something nice now and in the future.

    Back to pitching trades/signings… I also agree that 2018 isn’t the year to trade nor sign a veteran starter w/ACE potential. Let’s see what the Reds have next year after 2017’s wasted opportunities given to Arroyo and others.The bullpen, IMO, could use more tuning (as usual), but with the plethora of pitching the Reds have available, they can supplement that easily with low-wage free agents while seeing who from within the organization would flourish in that role.

  2. From Steve: “Williams will appease restless fans.” Really? Bcuz, from what I’ve seen on social media, was a lot of fan groaning and moaning when it was announced that they were bringing Price back next year. I highly disagree with this statement bcuz it’s been my experience that Williams is almost making moves IN SPITE of us fans. He don’t seem to be listening imo. I don’t think DW really cares what the fans think or say. He’ll probably say he does (if he were to be directly asked this) bcuz he almost has to in order to save face and not totally alienate the fan base. In this case I think his actions speak louder than his words.

    • If I was a GM, I would not be listening to the fans.
      What us fans really want is to win, and if the manager (or God Forbid Price) wins, we will be ok with it.
      Sometimes listening to the arm chair managers is bad.

      • Colorado Red, I agree on some things you said. I’m not suggesting that he listen to the fans on everything…that would be ludicrous to say the least. But at the same time I don’t think he should make moves to spite the fans (If that’s what he’s indeed doing. Which I’m not saying he is…it just seems like it sometimes. No one would be able to prove that anyway, so…). But I think you’re wrong about fans accepting Price if the Reds start winning. Some might but I think there will still be a strong contingent that will hold out on their “dislike” of Price even if we start winning under him.

        • You’re probably right, Sandman, but I think we’d grow disenchanted with and second-guess any manager after awhile, winning or not. It’s what we do.

          • Second guessing managers is what fans of every team do. And hopefully the GM is going to make the moves he thinks are in the best interests of the team, regardless of what the fans think. If the fans like the move(s), great. If not, the GM hopes over time the moves will be vindicated.

    • Dick Williams should not care what fans think at all. That’s not his job.

  3. Great idea for a new column!

    1) I’m not picking Castillo because the question asks for “biggest step forward” (his 2017 was already a big step forward). I’ll go with Stephenson – mostly holding onto a hope that he can emerge as a #2 or #3 major league starting pitcher.

    2) The only significant acquisition I would consider to start 2017 is to trade for a young CF or SS with lots of upside and several years of team control.

    3) My answer is anyone except Mr. Price. I would bring back Dusty before letting Price manage the Reds again (I doubt Dusty will have much interest though).

    • #3, no, No, NO, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      thanks, I’ll keep Price over Dusty.

      Would we want Price over Larkin? Maybe

      If those are our choices I am sticking with Price.

      If we include bench coaches, Riggleman no, Mack Jenkins no, But we do have a pretty good hitting coach in Don Long who seems to get it.

      If these are my only choices, Price maybe by default but Don Long would be there in my book

      I really hope that the cubs fire Maddon, and that they hire Dusty again or even better that he goes to St. Louis

      • Ha, I was half kidding on #3. Though there’s no way I’m bringing Price back in 2019.

      • Do we actually know what sort of manager Larkin would be? He’s never done it, so it seems like guessing rather than actually knowing.

  4. As an also Nationals fan (second to the Reds of course), please don’t elevate Riggleman.

  5. Great new feature.
    The under 25 pitcher who might have the better improvement in 2018 might just be Brandon Finnegan. The Reds really need a LH starter to step up and Finnegan rebounding well from his injury(s) might be a catalyst for a good 2018. A close second is Big Sal Romano. Romano is going to be a key piece in stabilizing the rotation. Expectations are already high for Castillo. I hope he exceeds them.
    What trade might be on the horizon for the Reds? Keep loving the Yelich idea as a position player. For a SP, go for Marcus Stroman. Since the Reds hardly ever dive into the deep end of the free agent pool, their biggest and most important free agent get might be a new third base coach and move Hatcher back to 1st base. Looking at Omar Vizquel there. A nice tutor/mentor for Peraza also, and maybe Herrera too.
    Bryan Price as manager on Opening Day 2019. Like Chad said, that will mean vast improvement and success in 2018. And if things turn sour, Omar Vizquel would be on-board to be interim manager as he auditions for 2019. Please not Riggleman.

    • I like your Vizquel angle. I don’t think Finnegan’s arm is going to let him start again. He might have to become Lorenzen v2.0 out of the bullpen

    • Do you suppose Vizquel still has his glove?

  6. the reds have rebuilt the pitching staff fairly nicely. I like the group of young pitchers that we have for the future.

    now we need a “mini rebuild” of the starting 8.

    our outfield production from the plate has to get better for us to be competitive.

    it has been 2013 since we have had an outfielder hit above 250. that is scary to think about.

    I like scooter and cozart but look at the teams in the playoffs now. we have to get a lot more athletic at these positions to compete. not sure peraza is the answer but I think we should give him one more year at 2b to complete the experiment. doesn’t seem like he can play short.

    oh captain my captain- Barry Larkin becomes head coach in 2019 with his prodigy hunter Greene as starting ss.

  7. 1. I would say Luis Castillo. I can see him getting around 140 or 150 innings in next season and establish himself as the Reds best starter. Perhaps he’s the next ace…?

    2. The logical answer is starting pitching but I would wait another season the more I think about it. Wait and see what you have out of your young starters and pitchers returning from injury to make that call. I would sign a good relief pitcher to a 2 or 3 year deal, like Luke Gregerson, Steve Cishek or someone like that. Give Peraza a shot at short since he’s only 23. Maybe bring in some insurance in case he totally flops, which I doubt. My main focus in center field. The Billy Hamilton Experiment has to end and I can’t wait for it to. Yelich will cost A LOT due to the fact that the reds will not be the only team interested in getting him. A good backup plan to me is Jackie Bradley Jr. The Red Sox are interested in adding more power into their lineup. Benintendi would slide over to center with his departure. Could this be the team the reds trade Duvall or Schebler to?

    3. Probably Price if the Reds improve their record from last year. It’s all about progress. If not, whoever is on the manager’s “waiver wire” will be next more than likely. DeShields is a slight possibility.

    Well that was fun!

  8. Manager? Tom Browning. The devil-may-care attitude coupled with pitching smarts and the ability to stand up to anyone. Sure would be entertaining.

  9. I’m a Miamian, but a lifelong Reds fan long before Miami acquired a franchise. I’m all in for trading for Yelich.
    +He’s a real good, pure hitter that has some pop. His power numbers would improve playing at GABP to go along his solid avg+OBP numbers. BillyH has neither one of those.
    +He would be a consistent #2 or #3 batter (this season he batted #3 behind Stanton; this is a plus for those who advocate for Votto as #2).
    +Also he has deceptive speed because he a long strider, so he covers a lot of territory in CF. We wouldn’t lose too much in defense + offense makes up for it.
    +He is still young and with a payroll-friendly contract.

    Under new ownership, having revenue-loss, and with a depleted farm system, the Marlins are desperate to unload contracts and replenish their farm system. Reds GM make the trade!

    • In a trade with the Marlins for Yelich, the Reds could also ask for RHP reliever Brad Zeigler as a veteran for the bullpen. Zeigler is to make $9M next year. That helps the Marlins cut payroll some and it gets the Reds a veteran for the bullpen. Very high GB%, low BB rate and doesn’t give up many HR’s. But he will be 38 or 39 next year.

      • Yelich and effective reliever could require Iggy/BHam and one of Duvall/Gennett and possibly a very good prospect (like Garrett).

        Would you do it? I would.

  10. Great new feature guys, and perfect to help us through the long offseason.

    Pitcher: Cody Reed. Mostly because he’s got talent and the most room for improvement. It’s going to be about mechanics and confidence. Can he find a repeatable motion and release point that will reduce the visibility of the ball and improve his control at the same time? That’s a big ask but if he can I see a high ceiling there. If not, no great loss as the Reds and RLN have pretty much given up on him.

    Transaction(s): Addition by subtraction. Move Hamilton, Peraza, Duvall, and Gennett while they’re at or near peak value. Make room for Winker, Senzel and the new SS and CF. If Yelich arrives for CF then I love the revamped lineup of Winker, Yelich, Schebler / Ervin, Suarez, SS, Senzel, Votto and Barnhart (not in that order of course).

    Manager: Jonah Hill. Or better yet, a real life modern manager to embrace the new school approach. OBP, OPS, defensive shifts, flexible positions and flexible bullpens, outfield rotations, and at least an occasional sense of urgency are IN. Rigid roles, CF/SS must lead off, closer rules, grittiness, lefty/righty matchups and pitcher/batter results based on 7 plate appearances, bunting and too many free passes are all OUT. I don’t know that manager’s name but I want a new approach. Wherever they find her, I want an outside the box leader. See what I did there? Go Reds.

    • Despite being a very obvious Hamilton fan, I’d be delighted to see Yelich in the outfield. The problem may be that some of the important parts of the current lineup would have to be included in the package. We can’t assume that the Marlins would settle for players we consider expendable.

  11. Amir Garrett for most improved due to his injuries this year and the fact that the first few starts of the season he looked great. Plus he has only focused on Baseball since 2014. I think all those reasons give me hope he will take the greatest strides.

    I would like to see them trade Scooter, Iglesias, and one of the three (Billy, Duvall or Schebler) whoever you can get the best return for. I would say go after a starter hoping for 2019 to be the year they are good again but I think those trades would be more pressing if I were GM.

    As for Coach someone other than Bryan Price….. His lack of playing young players like Winker at the end of the year, Irving, and not even allowing Reed more than one start in 2017 or even giving Lorenzen a chance in 2017 (which I know everyone loves Lorenzen and thinks somehow he will be an amazing starter I don’t but still not giving him a chance last year in my opinion is unacceptable). But I guess we will see.

  12. IMO…
    1. Castillo will make the biggest jump… to all star caliber pitcher.
    2. Move Hamilton. Please! I’d love Yelich but I imagine the Marlins are more interested in prospects than established major leaguers. Of course, prospects we do have.
    3. Bryan Price will be (and should be) gone at the first sight of one of his notorious 9 game losing streaks. If it never happens and we finish above .500, he’s back. Anything short will pave the way for Larkin.

  13. Question 1 – Castillo
    Question 2 – trade Peraza for a pitcher. Why do you think the Dodgers let him go? We have far better talent in our farm clubs than him.
    Question 3 – Williams will have no idea who to hire so it’s hard to say but I’m guessing he will keep Price.

  14. Speaking of managers, the Legendary Joe Maddon has been getting lit up by everybody in the media, with his stupid moves during the playoff season. Bullpen use especially. Yes, this is the same guy that batted Schwarber (and his sub .180 batting avg) leadoff for much of the 1st three months of the year, as the Cubs got off to a horrible start.
    He had occasional good ideas, and I applaud him for trying against the norm things, but most of those lame brain ideas just aren’t smart at all. When the the rare times they do work, he gets labeled a genius for his unorthodox thinking. #overrated

    And yes, I’d take him over Price 😉

    • I agree 100 percent maddon is by far the most overrated coach in the MLB

      • Wow, that’s a pretty strong statement!
        1. makes the Rays competitive in the AL east even with disastrous ownership and 0 fan support in Tampa.
        2. Takes the Cubs to one WC and the brink of a 2nd WS appearance in back-to-back years (hasn’t been done since 1903-04).

        Sure he’s unorthodox & quirky, but his players play hard and his teams are competitive. Many great managers are quirky!

        As you scan the manager landscape, do you find a lot of better ones that make JM “overrated”?

  15. The Fish plan on a ~$90MM payroll for 2018. As the roster and payroll stands right now. the Fish have 8 existing contracts totalling $95MM for 2018, 6 players entering the 2nd-4th year of arbitration with a 2017 total of $30MM and some significant arbition raises pending and 5 players entering the 1st year of arbitration with a probable 2018 total of $10MM-$15MM. The remaining roster will be playing for league minimum. That puts the anticipated 2018 payroll sitting in excess of $150MM and requires unloading a lot of contracts, even team-friendly contracts, to reach that ~ $90mm threshhold. They will also need players to replace the lost MLB production in addition to prospects.

    Stanton’s contract must be moved, but that still leaves more than $35MM to trim from the 2018 payroll. Yelich will be high on almost all of the MLB wish lists if the Fish make him available. Would the Fish be interested in a lineup headed by Gordon and Hamilton? Would the Fish be interested in replacing some of Stanton’s HR with Duvall or Schebler or even both if they intend to move Ozuna in a seperate transaction? Would the Fish be interested in some backend bullpen help from Iggy, Lorenzen or Peralta?

    I would consider Yelich as the only significant trade target option during this off season. The Stanton trade will probably only net limited prospects due to the size of his contract. Ozuna is due a very hefty raise in arbitration and would return a lot of prospect value in a trade. Would the Reds consider sending their 2017 starting OF to the Fish as part of a Yelich trade? The Fish seem inclined to jettison their 2017 starting OF to shed payroll and having a replacement OF in place would allow them to focus on loading their organization with prospects in the Stanton and Ozuna trades.

    If the Reds could and would pull pull off a complete OF revamping, that would leave an opening in RF for 2018, with Winker in LF and Yelich in CF. Ervin would get a nice audition opportunity as a starting RF for 2-3 months, before Senzel needs a place to play on the 25-man roster. A 2B platoon with Gennett and pick one (Herrera, Blandino, Peraza, etc.) and resigning Cozart to play SS would field a scary-good offensive lineup and an above average defense.

  16. 1. Stephenson

    2. Let the young guys pitch, but trade Hamilton with a package of top 50 prospects, no one in top 10, and certainly not top 5, bring in either a legitimate SS or CF. I would be happy with Yelich or Marte, but would not limit it to there.

    3. Hopefully not Price or Larkin. Ex players, especially those who were stars,more often than not are not very good managers. Hopefully someone who is familiar with analytics.

  17. 1. Amir Garrett. Just because of how raw of a talent he is I believe he has the most available room for growth.

    2. I understand the logic about not wanting to make a major move for pitching, but I think their will be significant pressure to upgrade the rotation this year. Another “innings eater” will just demoralize the fan base, and Im not sure that gets the team any closer to their post season aspirations. If we dont go big (meaning someone like Tanaka or Cobb), i hope we just stand pat. I say try to move Billy, Duvall, and Cozart. See if we can get something up the middle for them.

    3. If the team competes next season, Price should most likely be back. If they struggle early look for Riggleman to interim for the remainder of the season. If that scenario plays out, Larkin will be the 2019 opening day skipper, much to my chagrin. Absolutely loved him as a player, absolutely hate him as an analyst. I would take Dave Miley first. Seriously. I would prefer a Vizquel or someone out of the Astro org, or someone who worked with Mike Sochia (im sure i butchered the name).

  18. 1. Mahle
    2. Yelich & Mattel
    3. I would like to see David Ross

  19. Can’t see the Reds trading Duval to make room for Winker without doing a number of other things. If nothing but trade Duval and insert Winker, your lineup is too lefty oriented(Hamilton, Winker, Votto, Shebler, Scooter of your 8 starters. Same thing if you pick up Yelich for a combo of Hamilton and others. Now I like Yelich one heck of a lot better than Billy, but lineup would still it be too lefty dominant.

    What is the fascination with Lynn beyond being an innings eater? His walk rate and huge homer rate in STL will be worse at GASP, You are looking at a 4.75-5.00 ERA with him in that park! If the kids are healthy, let them go. Hopefully Bailey and Disco and Finnegan are somewhat healthy(is 2 out of 3 too much to ask?) Then add Castillo, Mahle, and 1 of Stephenson, Romano, Garrett and Reed. Put the others in the pen and let them pitch, or back to Louis until you need a starter. Wait until 2019 to add a budget-busting starter as there just isn’t any quality available this year after Darvish and Arrietta.

    • Scooter won’t start vs LH pitching in 2018, neither should Billy. Those being Ervin days

      Having 5 LH hitters for RH pitching is good. Trade Duvall

    • I’ve thought about the left-handed lineup thing too, but if Senzel hits in the big leagues, that point is moot.

    • Suarez and Votto are well above average no matter what hand the pitcher throws with. Winker will likely be stronger against right-handed pitching but at least average against lefties. Senzel, I think, will be the opposite (at least average against right-handed pitching, above average against lefties.) That’s potentially 4 of your starting 8 that should be in the lineup every day.

      Peraza hits lefties better but has so far been below average no matter the pitcher.

      Barnhart and Mesoraco make good platoon partners at catcher based on their splits. If Mesoraco is not healthy though, we do not have a catcher that hits lefties well.

      So against a left-handed pitcher you start Votto, Senzel and Suarez for sure and probably Winker. Also start Mesoraco if he’s healthy and hitting anywhere near his career numbers (a big if). You also can start Duvall if he is healthy and not been traded. The real question against left-handed pitching is Hamilton, Schebler and Scooter.

      Assume Mes is not healthy and Duvall has been traded. The starters vs left-handed pitching:
      1B Votto
      2B Senzel
      SS Peraza (week hitter)
      3B Suarez
      LF Winker
      CF Hamilton (terrible against lefties)
      RF Schebler (week against lefties)
      C Barnhart (terrible against lefties)

      • Didn’t Schebler actually have reverse splits and hit lefties well this year? I think he’ll be fine regardless of lefty or righty on the mound.

  20. 1.) Tyler Mahle
    2.) Trade an outfielder to free up.a spot for Winker.
    3.) Delino Deshields . If the Reds look outside…Jose Oquendo…Ex Cardinal

  21. Per Duvall: some club will chase the gaudy home run totals and solid defense, giving up a decent prospect or two in return.

    No, no, no. I’m tired of prospects. Duvall solved our never-ending LF problem. Keep him there.

  22. I would like to see a rearranging of the Reds outfield with Hamilton going to the Marlins with a couple young pitching prospects for Christian Yelich and with Winker installed as a regular in right or left field and hitting leadoff. I see Amir Garrett making the greatest progress in 2018 and I hope for the acquisition of an established pitcher to stabilize the starting rotation with money saved by not extending Cozart. I think Price will be gone by the All Star break and hometown hero, Barry Larkin, will move into the managers office.and this will stimulate interest and attendance.

  23. Good on all except the 2019 Manager. I think it will be DeShields. Larkin would be the fan fav. (For a while.) I would prefer David Ross. He played on two WS winning teams under some of the most impactful Managers in recent history. However, the Reds are way to predictable and it will be DeShields. Been grooming him for a while.

    • I would be pleased if David Ross was the manager. I liked him when he played for the Reds and he had an interesting career. But following Price I think the owner would revert to another big name like Dusty Baker and that would be Larkin if he wants the job. Barry also got a ring playing for an impactful manager in Lou Pinella.

  24. I’ve already told Steve, but I love this new feature. It’s going to be fun.

    My favorite answers above:

    (1) Steve’s prediction of Luis Castillo as the Reds’ young pitcher who will make the most progress. If that happens, I’ll be very happy indeed.
    (2) Nick Carrington’s prediction of Cincinnati’s 2019 manager. I will accept the job if offered.

    • That is cool

      But which of us on the board will make up your coaching staff?

  25. Also love the column. Keep up the great work!

    1. Hoping Castillo will develop into the No. 1 but for the big jump back, wishing for Garrett to regain his early season form for all of 2018 & beyond.
    2. Need to trade for everyday young SS and CF. Need better OBP from leadoff, move Winkler to 2 hole.
    3. The Price is not Right. Would like to see a young manager in 2019, not a re-tread but someone who has won and experienced MLB playoff baseball.

  26. 1) Brandon Finnegan (sp, under age 25). Deck McGuire (sp, over age 25). 2) w/o Cozart in the fold, trade Iglesias, Gennett, & Hamilton for prospects. 3) Marty B. (he said sarcastically)

  27. 1. Mahle
    2. Lorenzo Cain or Iggy/a bunch of prospects for Marcell Ozuna. Can’t get on the Yelich bandwagon or any other lefty. Not unless they’re trading Scooter and Schebler? We already stink vs lefties as it is. They might be able to get Cain for Cozart’s $. Huge upgrade in CF for 3-4 years! Add Cain/Senzel to the lineup and they’d be pretty scary!
    3. New blood….no retreads! A moneyball type but not married to anything in particular and obviously a good communicator. Look at AAA too…why not? The Reds were Sparky’s first big league team.

  28. Can we please leave ex Red players out of the mix as our next manager.This organization needs to can the sentimental stuff and move on from the old school mentality. As Indy said we need new blood.Just make it somebody that doesn’t know or want to know anything about the good old days in Cincy.Somebody that values obp and has no closer rules and most importantly worries about winning today rather then who is available to pitch tomorrow or 3 days from now.Just conduct a wide search and don’t settle on the first guy because he remembers about how good we were in the 70’s.Move on please.

    • A manager, unlike us, has to worry about who will pitch tomorrow and three days from tomorrow. And he has to worry about getting regulars enough rest and bench players enough reps. Agree about obp and closer rules.

      • Agreed he does have to worry about a lot of things but none should interfere with the game today.Losing a game today with your best releivers watching because they may be needed tomorrow or 3 days from now is a joke.Who knows if you will even have a chance to win tomorrow’s game so saving a guy is just dumb.Rest and reps I never mentioned but normally both are decided in advance.

    • We’ve had Bryan Price, a non former Reds player, as manager for four years and face a fifth year. How has that worked out? The last ex Reds player who managed the team, who I can recall, is Tony Perez and that was 30 plus years ago.

  29. Belated response. Sorry.

    1. Almost all of them are capable of surprise. The only one on that list that I’m not sold on is Reed – and if -he- improves, it will be the overwhelming surprise. I suspect the travails of last season has caused us to be a bit pessimistic about the prospects in hand.

    While I agree (strategically) with Steve’s assessment about management’s mystifying development process, on a lower (tactical) level it’s too easy to lose sight of context. To weeks before opening day, the rotation hadn’t completely collapsed into the dumpster. It was something that evolved continuously and relentlessly over the first half of the season as arm after arm after arm went down sequentially. Result – a lot of reactive ad hocery, panicked improvisation and continuously rethinking/overthinking everything If (yes – if “if’s” were horses, I know), -if- the rotation hadn’t completely collapsed, I suspect that the audition and sort process would have been somewhat more patient and more structured. As is, the calamity probably cost us a third to a half of the season. Given the improvements we finally saw in the last 30 – 45 days, imagine what might have developedwith a little less chaos and a little more order over a full year.

    2. I’m not expecting much trade action in the off season – maybe one mid-level deal for a -functional- mid-level arm , a bit of exchange of prospects, and clarification of second base. I -do- expect a good bit to happen mid-season, taking into account W/L record and the outcomes of this year’s arbitration . That could put any/all of Mesoraco (if there is recovery), Duvall, Gennett and Hamilton (to avoid cost/lost in free agency) in play. Schebler might also make this list. It’s a lot less likely because (a) management likes him (b) he’s 2 years younger than Duvall but if a really good deal comes along, he might be the blue chip that seals the deal. One or two arms could be in the mix but not as the principal components of a deal.

    3. This is the serious long-term question. I see a lot of nominations by name, fame or Reds legacy. What I am not seeing is what comes first – a strategy or doctrine. Figure how you want the running of the club to change and adapt and -then- find a name that fits. This probably means – NOT Price, NOT Riggleman, NOT DeShields, NOT Larkin, NOT a resurrected Tony LaRussa (OK, I’ve gone too far…..).

    I would issue this as, at best, a challenge to the community and, at least, a question for the next 3RQ: Is it possible to assemble a systematic and constructive critique of how current management could employ best practices to improve how it utilizes the talent at hand? After all, regardless of deals, contracts and injuries, whatever you have is likely to underperform if you misallocate, miscommunicate, underutilize the hand you have been dealt. There is some evidence that previous offseason memoranda about talent and metrics have at least been read even if not consistently acted upon.

    • Completely agree with everything you said for #3, although if the Reds have some modicum of success in 2018, I expect it will be Price.

  30. If Barry Larkin wants to manage the Reds, when Cinci has turned the corner, it will happen. Larkin is a winner. Period. He has won at every level – even in his brief stin in the minor leagues.

    He also has assessed the minor league system for a few years now (along with Eric Davis et al.) and has a pulse of the system.

    He also brings an aura of what the Reds are all about. Sometimes that translates to a good manager and sometimes not but Barry will ultimately decide if he wants to manage the team or just help players develop.

    I’m sure there are a lot of great candidates to manage the Reds but I think, at times, people over-emphasize experience. Dave Roberts had -0- management experience when LAD hired him (granted he was a bench coach).

  31. Answer One: Tyler Mahle.
    Answer Two: Trade for Christian Yelich. I would offer Iglesias, Duvall or Hamilton and 2 prospects. The asking price will be high. Many teams will be interested in Yelich. The Reds will need to act swiftly and make a strong offer.
    Answer Three: David Ross. He would be a solid manager.

  32. Joe Girardi – 2019 Reds opening day manager.

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Three Reds Questions


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