The Reds are back on the MLB Network against the Seattle Mariners, the team they played yesterday. The location shifts from Goodyear Ballpark to the Peoria Sports Complex. Game time is 4:10 pm ET (Arizona doesn’t use Daylight Saving Time). Radio is WLW-700. The MLB Network is broadcasting the game.

Bryan Price’s lineup to face Mariners starter Mike Leake:

  1. Billy Hamilton CF
  2. Eugenio Suarez 3B
  3. Joey Votto 1B
  4. Scooter Gennett 2B
  5. Adam Duvall LF
  6. Scott Schebler DH
  7. Jose Peraza SS
  8. Tucker Barnhart C
  9. Ben Revere RF

Brandon Finnegan is the starting pitcher and will face the bulk of the Mariners starters. Michael Lorenzen is also scheduled to pitch. Another Bryan Price “Opening Day starting lineup” without Jesse Winker.

Better Backup Catcher Yesterday, Devin Mesoraco hit a 2-run homer off a major-league pitcher and threw out a runner attempting to steal. The Reds’ second catcher is hitting .300/.333/.550 with a walk and four strikeouts. If Mesoraco stays healthy and productive, his presence will improve the Reds compared to last year.

Romano to the Rotation? Sal Romano pitched four innings against half the Mariners starting lineup. He gave up a hit and a walk and struck out seven batters. Assuming Finnegan is in the rotation, competition is strong for the final slot. Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen and Tyler Mahle have all had noteworthy appearances. Romano has 15 strikeouts and two walks in 11 innings and may have the edge for now.

Whac-a-Mole Few relief pitchers are consistent from year to year. That’s why chasing them in the free agent market is a risky proposition. Remember Drew Storen, Blake Wood, Ross Ohlendorf, Caleb Cotham, Kevin Gregg, Burke Badenhop, etc.? This offseason, the Reds signed two veteran relievers to two-year major league contract, David Hernandez (32) and Jared Hughes (32). Hernandez’s appearance yesterday (.2 IP, 2H, 1BB, 2K, 3ER) is a reminder that neither he nor Hughes is a steady, lock-down guy. Hernandez and Hughes are supposed to stabilize the bullpen. We’ll see. The odds are pretty good that at least one of them will be a disappointment.

Ideal vs. Actual The assumption we’re watching a battle between Billy Hamilton and Jesse Winker to see who leads off may be false. Bryan Price has used other batters (Nick Senzel yesterday, for example) in the leadoff spot. Winker, for the second game in a row, hit in the bottom half of the lineup. If Price does demote Hamilton, there’s no assurance Winker will bat first. Jose Peraza is a viable (to Price) alternative. He’s fast and plays shortstop, like Nick Senzel. Here’s an update on how Hamilton, Peraza and Winker are doing at the plate:

  • Hamilton: .000/.217/.000; 6K and 5BB in 23 PA
  • Peraza: .217/.240/.348; 6K and 1BB in 24 PA
  • Winker: .348/.407/.652; 0K and 1BB in 24 PA

Winker should play almost every day and lead off when he does, especially against right-handed starters.

Bench Projection There isn’t any suspense about the Reds starting position players, including four outfielders and Mesoraco as the second catcher. That leaves three bench spots to resolve. C. Trent Rosecrans took his turn with an educated guess yesterday: Dilson Herrera (no more options, if healthy); Patrick Kivlehan (position flexibility) and Cliff Pennington (only backup SS). That leaves out, among others: Ben Revere, Brandon Dixon and Phillip Ervin.

Dilson’s Delt John Fay has a new post about the status of Dilson Herrera’s shoulder. It’s “getting better” and “close to where I want it to be” according to the player. Herrera has been limited to hitting this spring. The injury affects his throwing but not batting. Herrera has four hits, all singles, no walks and six strikeouts in 17 PA. He wouldn’t be getting serious consideration if not for being out of options. That means the Reds can’t assign him to the minor leagues without passing through waivers. Herrera is a good candidate to start the season on the major league DL.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 59 Comments

  1. It looks like Winker will be relegated to the bench, except on days when Schebler is in CF. With Price stating Schebler will get time in center I am not sure what Revere is doing in the lineup, unless he is the fifth OF over Kivlehan. I would think the ability to play both IF and OF would put Kivlehan as a better option for fifth OF, but I am not sure that is how the Reds feel.

    If Herrera can’t throw he needs to be on the DL or put on waivers. I am not sure anyone will claim a 2B who can’t play 2B. Giving him a roster spot is insanity.

  2. Billy Hamilton is pathetic. I’m sorry, but I just can’t stand his lack of offense. It’s REALLY getting on my nerves! And I’m not just talking about his ST performance this year. Y’all know I’ve never been his biggest supporter. Do I want him to hit?…yes, I do! But his elite speed and defense aren’t enough for me. I think Billy has already proven that it’s very likely he won’t ever hit. Peraza….ditto! I’m just sick and tired of players who can’t hit! Sorry, if this ticks some of you off. I have my feelings on this and that’s that.

    • I think his speed and defense can be extremely valuable. I am just not sure that value is as a starter. As a pinch runner and late inning defensive replacement he could be a difference maker in close games. I would love if Schebler got more starts in CF until the Reds get a true CF to replace Hamilton. I think the problem that still exists is that Hamilton is really the only true CF option and with arbitration is becoming to be a very expensive fourth OF

    • You’d think by now, Hamilton would be showing progress or at least give the impression he’s figured it out. I don’t see it. I think the Reds have decision to make in the not too distant future.

    • I’m not sure you’re really “sick of players who can’t hit.” For starters, the best fail over half the time, even in career years (Bonds/Ruth/ few others excepted). Outside of a select few teams each year (maybe the Dodgers, Astros, or Yankees this year) no one runs out a lineup of above-replacement and, certainly, above-average, hitters.

      I think your real gripe is shared – we’re all tired of “stereotypes” running the show. The fast guy batting leadoff has led us to Willie Taveras, Hamilton, and others. If you read all the interviews from Price, it’s pretty clear he intends to give Winker his ABs and that Hamilton, for all his baserunning and defensive prowess, will see his time reduced. Maybe not, as he usually misses a month injured, but he won’t see 160 games started this year is the point.

      I’m reserving judgement on Price/Williams early this year, if only for my mental health’s sake. Winker wasn’t an option for most of last year and, even then, he was a rookie seeing his first extended time in the bigs, which has intimidated many a Hall of Famer.

      I’d say we give it until June, when Senzel and Mahle can return from AAA (service time gives an extra year, they are NOT breaking camp, sorry). By then we’ll know if all 4 OFs are getting their time (probable), if Hamilton is getting on base (less likely) is batting down in the order (also likely), and if Winker is atop the lineup (betting on it). Until then, we’re upset about the past (Taveras, Hamilton) when the variables (Winker is up full time, unhappy fanbase) are different…

  3. I remember the days when in order to get it into the line-up you had to be able to get on base. Period. It didn’t matter if you were a defensive wizard or the fastest guy on earth. Keeping Hamilton in the line-up is just pointless. Tough one about Herrera, if the guy is exposed to waivers they face the risk of loosing him for good, a very embarrasing position to front office.

    • If his shoulder is never “healed” they aren’t losing anything other than a pinch hitter and DH for a few games. There is a risk someone claims him, figures out his shoulder, and he becomes a star for someone else. I just don’t know how you justify a spot on the roster for someone who can’t play the field on a NL team

      • It depends. If your trying to justify Dilson Hererra on the 25 man roster in 21/2 weeks- probably difficult. But if you’re trying to justify the Bruce for Hererra, Wotell, & White deal- anything is possible.

      • Could always put him on the DL.
        As long as he is on the 40, he will not need to go through waivers.

    • I don’t remember those days. I remember Roy Mcmillan. I remember Davey C., before he “got it.” I remember Paul Blair.

  4. Sandman is right. With Hamilton 0 for Arizona and with Price’s “hands off” policy on advising Hamilton how to hit, Winker needs to play. As for Herrera, the Reds need to declare defeat and let him go. They should have gotten a lot more for Jay Bruce than a fragile guy like him.

  5. Billy Hamilton is a modern day Herm Washington of the Oakland As. The only difference to me is he can play the field.

  6. Is Devin Mesoraco finally healthy and ready to perform? Certainly 24 PA during ST will not anser that question, but it does lend hope for the hard luck catcher who can’t seem to ‘catch’ a break.

    I keep looking at the pitching staff and seeing healthy options ready to make a statement. Not just make a maginal improvement over an historically bad performance, but make a real statement with a solid, even dominant, 2018 season. The starting staff is not only pitching with ST success, but with both depth and experience. There 9 starters making a legitimate case for inclusion on the 25-man roster. Fans have been waiting for 3 seasons now for the pitching staff to emerge as a force rather than an anchor. That time may finally be at hand.

    There is no argument that the pitching has been the Achille’s Heel of this rebuild/reboot. Without the pitching, the roster and lineup respresents nothing more than deck chairs on the Titanic. With solid pitching, the issue of competitiveness becomes a focus and that transcends into issues regarding the roster, lineup and mangerial decisions.

    Mesoraco could fall right smack dab into the middle of those issues if he is finally healthy and ready to play. Mesoraco and Barnhart could form the most dominant catching tandem in the NL and provide the most dangerous pinch hitting threats in the league, if Price can prove capable of actually doing the job as a major league manager.

    Along with the catching situation, the 2B situation must be properly managed. Scooter Gennett represents a platoon waiting to happen. Against RHP, Scooters bat demands to play. Against LHP, Scooters defense demands a seat in the dugout waiting for a pinch hitting opportunity against a RHP, providing an opportunity to improve defense and run production, if Price can prove capable of actually doing the job as a major league manager.

    The nonsense of Jesse Winker’s inability to hit LHP based on 26 PAs is just bogus. Jesse Winker gets on base and has always proved effective at getting on base. Jesse Winker hit for power before his wrist injury and has now demonstrated that he is ready to hit for power again now that the wrist injury is healed and behind him. Winker provides the single component missing for the lineup since before and after Choo wore the wishbone C, a leadoff hitter capable of getting on base, a lot, if Price can prove capable of actually doing the job as a major league manager.

    I don’t want to hear the excuse that Price is just a symptom of a bigger problem within the Reds organization, going all the way up to the majority owner. Price is the manager. His responsibility is managing the major league team and putting the team and players in the best position to win. If Price does not have the players to compete and win, then he can only work with what’s available, but that doesn’t change his responsibilities. If he doesn’t utilize the tools at his disposal, then he is not managing, irrespective of anyone else in the Reds orgainzatioon not fulfilling their respective responsibilities.

    • Price does not seem to have the ability to be flexible.
      I can see Billy Jose 1,2 once the season start.
      Price i messing up the rebuild

      • If Billy is leading off, I’d be very surprised to see Jose Peraza hitting 2nd. Happened a lot last year early on but Peraza then found himself down in the lineup later on.

        Of course if they are both on base regularly (.320 or higher) then having them at the top of the lineup may not be so bad. I’d still rather have Winker 1, Suarez 2, and Votto 3. I’d be good with Suarez and Votto flip-flopped too i was just thinking L,R,L

    • Amen and Preach it Brother (as we say in church) Price is proving in spring training that nothing has changed. I don’t believe Winker has played game in which he has received more than two at bats. Certainly doesn’t seem that the manager thinks he can hit. I would say that Price is Blind but I think a blind person could see that Winker should be playing every day and hitting first.

      • Actually, I believe that Winker is the only player to have played a full 9.0 innings in ST. With that said, winker has not played with Price’s designated starting lineup and has not received any legitimate consideration from Price as a leadoff hitter.

    • The Ol’ Cossack rarely misses when he aims! Excellent post.

      The ingredients of a competitive team are here – the question is, can Bryan Price bring the young team to the next level? For all our talk that managers don’t make an impact on W-L, there’s plenty of points to show that they have significant impact.

      A coach willing to use the metrics has a distinct advantage and puts his club/players in positions to win/succeed. Ignore the obvious numbers/strengths of your players and the results will also be proven out.

      We need to be frank – “the pitching staff is the reason BP is here”. He was a successful pitching coach prior to being hired as manager and this should be an area where he excels. In fairness to him, the organization has given him lemons to work with up until now. So now he must create winners from the young guns that have potential. The pitching staff is where the competitive improvement begins…

      Can Coach Price bring the staff back to health and into ML competitiveness?

      • I’d feel much better if Bryan Price was the Red’s pitching coach and did not also have managerial duties which takes away from his talent as a pitching coach. He will be a ML pitching coach again but not with the Reds.

    • Tell that Price argument to Joe Girardi, lol. I think, organizationally, it’s great to have depth options at multiple positions. You can’t argue that Peraza wasn’t our only 2B starting last year, that Winker wasn’t competing to lead off from AAA (that’s on Williams), and that C and P looked much thinner.

      This is the first year I can remember Bryan Price having 30-35 MLB-ready ballplayers, anyone else? Let’s see how he manages a non-quad-A team before we roast him for mismanaging a roster full of misfits.

      Running out Adelman, Feldman, and Arroyo seems to me the “Big Guy” wanting to win, not a real rebuild. Fans’ impatience can’t be directed solely at the manager…

    • Also, you’re dead on with the bullpen free agents being iffy. I’m not sure we’re looking for much beyond those two not being Bonilla andour other horrid options last year. League average would be a few win improvement. Plus, we could leave #s 5-9 in the AAA rotation until a starter goes down instead of needing all hands on deck. I don’t love the signings either, but they aren’t terrible. Hopefully, one of them has a good year and contributes.

  7. Herrera to the DL makes a lot of sense. Get him 100% and give Scooter a ton of at bats the first half of 2018 in the 4 hole behind Suarez and Votto and hope he finds another hit streak to hit the trade deadline with 15-18 HR.

    Pennington will make as only backup SS and utility infielder. Ervin will play everyday at Louisville in CF. Ben Revere will make as 5 th outfielder and backup cf and leadoff hitter. Kivlehan is a jack of all trades and spell Votto at first or suarez third .

    How long can the Reds place Herrera on the DL and then rehab him? I could see a May 15 – June 1 target date.

  8. Lance Lynn 1 year $12 million.

    • What I’m seeing is a lot of teams valuing future production over past production when looking at FA contracts and a lot of players and agents over-valuing the players future value based on past performances and past mistakes by teams handing out huge FA contracts based on past performance rather than realistic future expectations.

  9. I see a ton of post on here that are ready to write Hamilton off completely! !!!! I think at this point you platoon him the splits show that and he is a very good option off the bench!!!!! JUST GET HIM OUT OF THE LEADOFF SPOT! He is so valuable with his speed it justifies a roster spot that hits in the 8 or 9 hole!!!!!!!!!

    • Not at 4.6 mil and going up? The Reds don’t have the budget to pay that much to a defensive only CF batting 8th or 9th. There has to be other cheaper options? They wouldn’t match up with Billy defensively but someone even close to average offensively beats Billy easily.

  10. I’m digging the young guns

    • Yeah, this pitching staff puts o big ol’ grin across the Old Cossack face this ST and the young hitters joining the core of the lineup brings out goose bumps.

  11. What would be acceptable for Hamilton to play regularly, but rarely at the top of the lineup? From his latest comments Price seems to show some flexibility with lineup construction. Would this do it? .270/.325? Slugging not that much of a factor with him. That’s about a 10% increase in production not to mention the extra steals he’d get.

  12. I’ll be disappointed if Revere makes the team over Kivlehan. It will really call into question who exactly is making the decisions, and what exactly the team values.

  13. Billy finally gets a hit

  14. The more I see of Scooter the more I think last year was not a fluke.

    • While I think a regression is in order and I still see him struggling against LHP, I could easily see a season somewhere between his 2014 and 2017 seasons. I think he will beat his ZiPS projection assuming he stays healthy.

  15. Finnegan looking injured as well. The Reds need to come up with a plan other than hope for health.

    Finnegan likely needs to go to the bullpen

  16. And there goes Finnegan. Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day.

    • what was the injury?

      • Not sure. His last couple of pitches were 84 and 82, and at first Brantley thought they were a changeup, but then the trainer came out, etc. and he left the game. Brantley said it didn’t look good at all.

      • I couldn’t tell. The staff saw something they didn’t like and pulled him. It looked like Finnegan wanted to stay in

      • Lateral forearm spasm. He’ll be back way before DeSclafani. DeSclafani’s oblique will be more like a 6 weeker.

  17. After Finnegan left, Brantley was saying he thinks Mahle is ready for the bigs, and Romano has looked good. I missed Garrett’s last appearance, but he looked good early too. …

  18. Disco now Finnegan. Alex Cobb is still available?

    • He is probably looking for a one year deal. That doesn’t make much sense for the Reds

  19. man o man, so you have a rotation battle, and all of a sudden 2 man down..

  20. Remember earlier people said don’t count on Disco, Finnegan or Bailey for a full season.

  21. Lateral forearm spasm for Finnegan.

  22. I continue to believe DeSclafani should be sent to bullpen this season. 60 innings of late-inning baseball is better than 60 DL. Finnegan? Another small setback.

  23. Take two strikes, swing at a ball. Atta boy, Billy.

  24. Heck of a hit by Joey

    • Votto looks like his bat is ready to come around. His GIDP in the 1st inning was by far the hardest hit ball in the inning. The hits will come and Votto should be driving the ball with authority in a couple of weeks.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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