This week’s respondents are Jason Linden, Wes Jenkins, Bill Lack, Grant Freking, and Chad Dotson.
Our Daily Reds Obsession: What’s the best-case scenario for the 2018 Cincinnati Reds? Worst-case?
Jason: The best case scenario is that they contend. Meaning that: Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Luis Castillo, Homer Bailey, and Three Other Starters perform to their physical abilities. IF that were to happen, the Reds could surprise a lot of people.
Worst case scenario: The pitching is a disaster again, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, and Scooter Gennett all turn into pumpkins but, for some reason, Winker and Senzel aren’t allowed to/able to fill in the gaps and then it’s 2017 all over again. I am the eternal optimist because it’s more fun that way, but I think the best case is a lot more likely than the worst case. I also think we’ll know pretty quickly. Pay attention to what’s said about Winker and Senzel in the spring AND to how much they play. Pay attention to how BobSteve, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, and Tyler Mahle look with their breaking stuff. Pay attention to how Disco looks. Those things will probably tell you what kind of year it’s going to be.
Wes: Best-case scenario:
Winker RF (receives ROY votes)
Senzel 2B (wins Rookie of the Year)
Votto 1B (wins MVP)
Suarez 3B (wins Silver Slugger)
Scooter and/or Peraza SS (has a positive WAR)
Pitcher (requires seven or less starters, i.e. no injuries)
Hamilton CF (ugh)
Peraza SS (UGH)
Votto 1B (3rd in MVP voting despite another career year)
Suarez 3B (regresses)
Gennett 2B (ughhhhhhh give me Senzel)
Pitcher (another carousel with 12+ riders)
With a couple bench bats, that first team looks so good. So, so good. Like maybe even competing good. (I’m knocking on wood, don’t worry.) Sadly, the second team is far too normal at this point. 100+ loses, here we come again.
Bill: Realistic, best-case? The Reds pitching comes together, they answer the questions in the bullpen and at SS and CF, and they compete for a wild card playoff spot. If they could get into the playoffs, who know where that goes? Stranger things have happened.
Worst-case? The pitching continues to struggle, the long list of potential starters either stays injury-prone or ineffective, their other franchise questions linger and something really terrible happens like the Reds lose Joey Votto or Eugenio Suarez for an extended period of time and Reds fans suffer through the “Groundhog Day” of 2016 and 2017 again, as the “rebuild” continues with no end in sight.
Grant: Best case: Jesse Winker starts 150+ games in left field. Nick Senzel is fully integrated into the lineup sometime after the Super Two cutoff in the middle of June, playing mostly at second base but also seeing spot starts at third base, left field, and right field. Two or three of the young starters (Robert Stephenson, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Rookie Davis, Tyler Mahle, et. al) emerge behind Luis Castillo, while a few others settle into multi-inning bullpen roles. Homer Bailey pitches like an All-Star in the first half of the season and convinces a desperate starting pitching-needy contender to take on most of the last year ($23M) of his contract. Jose Peraza settles into a comfortable role — whether that’s at shortstop, in center field, or a super utility role that sees him play all around the diamond and make regular late-inning pinch running appearances. The team wins around 80 games. Feeling confident that the rebuilding has at last bore contending fruit, next winter GM Dick Williams aggressively upgrades the roster by shipping out some the Reds’ prospect depth from Double-A and up, while also spending the savings the Reds have accumulated since 2015.
Worst case: The opposite of most of the above, namely the young pitchers failing to develop and/or failing to stay healthy. Around the NL Central, the Brewers continue their rise and finally find a taker for Ryan Braun; the Cardinals swindle Derek Jeter for Giancarlo Stanton, acquiring the power presence their lineup requires without surrendering promising young starters Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes; the Pirates regain their 2013-15 form in Andrew McCutchen’s final season with the club; and the Cubs pull another massive trade to aide their pitching woes by sending Kyle Schwarber, Javy Baez and minor league SP Adbert Alzolay (Cubs No. 3 prospect per MLB.com) to the Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna. The NL Central is fully weaponized into the AL East of yesteryear, cutting into the Reds’ odds of becoming a year-to-year contender.
Chad: Best-case: Reds go 162-0, breaking all team records on their way to yet another world championship. Worst-case: Reds only win 101 games, and it takes them seven full games to win the World Series.
Hey, it’s November 2017. Permit me to dream, okay?