No, surely.

I’ve been saying for the last few months that Jesse Winker needs to be leading off for the Reds, and he needs to get at least 550 at-bats in the 2018 season. Nothing I’ve seen from him either last year (.298/.375/.529) or this spring (.400/.450/.629, with a mammoth home run) has caused me to change my mind about this. It seems like the most obvious decision in the world for a team that is approaching what we hope is the end of a rebuilding process.

But then, there’s this little nugget, reported by Reds beat writer John Fay Keith Jenkins in our daily newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Schebler started 115 games in right field last season, but Price said Schebler likely will see some time in center as part of a four-man rotation in the outfield.

Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Phillip Ervin and Schebler will make up the four-man crew.

“Right now, we’ll get everybody regular at-bats,” Price said. “The guys that have been there – Schebler, Duvall and Hamilton – they’re regular Big Leaguers to me.”

Price said Jesse Winker, who played 25 games in right field last season, also will see some time.

That has to be a typo or a misunderstanding or something, right? Manager Bryan Price has been saying all spring that he expects to rotate four outfielders, but now Phillip Ervin is in that mix for the first time?

Sure, this was posted nearly two days ago, and it hasn’t been corrected yet, but I’m just going to assume that this is a mistake and ignore it. It’s the only way to keep my sanity.

(I’m also posting a screenshot, since I am going to assume the Enquirer will fix this and I want to ensure you, dear reader, that I’m not completely making up everything that’s written and published here at the Nation.)

UPDATE: Fay has clarified, via Twitter, though the actual report on their site has yet to be corrected, it appears.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

Join the conversation! 76 Comments

  1. Maybe Winker is too good be a regular Big Leaguer.

  2. Under that scenario Billy Hamilton will lead off and play CF. Who leads off when Schebler is in CF? Ervin? Peraza?

    Brutal schedule in April and May.
    Nationals/cubs/Brewers/cards/ improved Phillies and Braves and the Roadie out west against Kershaw and a couple guys who can hit a little.

    What’s the all time attendance low on a cold April weeknight?

    • I don’t know what the April attendance low is but with that schedule and perhaps the coldest April we are likely to see in some time in the Mid West on tap,, it could be set this year .

  3. How could Ervin be in the mix? I didn’t even think he would make the team out of spring training. What’s he hit, a buck fifty?

  4. If Winker and Schebler aren’t playing almost every day, Price needs his ******* head examined. I don’t understand any of this. Duvall is only good for a couple of months a season and BHam is, well, BHam. Why is Ervin even in the conversation at this point?

    • Defense is likely a consideration here. Hamilton is the only pure CF. Ervin is said to be adequate there.

  5. I’m sure when John Farrell becomes Manager, Winker will get more AB’s. :o)

  6. First, I think we need to accept the fact that Billy Hamilton is going to be leading off on opening day and will for most of the season. What he does in Spring training is totally irrelevant. I do not believe Price for a second when he says Hamilton has to earn the lead off spot.

    Second, based on the way the Reds used Winker last September I have the impression that he is just not that highly regarded by the organization.

    Third, it would not surprise me to see Revere make the 25 man roster and take at bats away from Winker.

    • I think Winker must have knocked up the daughter of somebody important in the organization.

    • If Winker is on base nearly half the time, that will “clog the bases” in case a faster player gets a hit. Better to arrange the lineup by speed or defensive position rather than things like OBP and OPS. Of course I am joking, it is a little too close to home.

  7. The Reds most glaring offensive problem last year was lack of OBP at the top of the order. Winker can solve that problem. He needs to be hitting leadoff vs. every righty the Reds face. And if he starts hitting lefties, vs. them, too.
    I’ve never had much faith in Price’s brainpower, but this should be obvious, even to him.

    • Maybe Votto can become player/manager. Problem solved, plus Votto could play the heel against fans, umpires, and the opposing manager.

  8. I hope this is a misunderstanding, if not then the odds of an on-field improvement took a big hit.

    Someone tell me if I’m wrong, but the only thing I can think of that Ervin would have over Winker is defensive capability. That’s not enough to keep his bat in the linuep.

    Is there something about Winker (aside from fielding) that could justify him sitting the bench? Does he have a bad attitude or did he rub Price the wrong way?

    Of the five potential outfielders he is our best all-around hitter and I cannot think of a defensible reason for this decision.

  9. Chad –
    I thought exactly the same thing – the article had to be a mistake! How could Winker NOT be in the mix given his proven performance and high OBP (which the Reds need)? I hope someone can shed some light on this.

    I’d like your input on the following lineup rotations (based on facing RH or LH pitchers). These provide much higher OBP and protection for Votto.

    Versus RH Pitching:

    (1) Winker
    (2) Votto
    (3) Schebler
    (4) Suarez
    (5) Gennett
    (Hamilton hitting 8th?)

    Versus LH Pitching:
    (1) Winker
    (2) Suarez
    (3) Votto
    (4) Duvall
    (5) Schebler
    (6) Gennett

    • I’m okay with either of those. High OBP guys at the top. Love it.

      • Hamilton leading off against righties is something I can live with half the time. His .322 OBP isn’t great there but it’s enough with his speed. It’s lefties that he probably shouldn’t start against.

  10. It feels as if we’re all rooting for our hometown hero, hoping, strictly for personal reasons, the team will irrationally give the guy an opportunity to play ahead of someone who’s clearly more talented. In reality, all we’re suggesting here is that the team find a way to get one of its best hitters into the lineup most days. With so many millions of dollars at stake, it’s mind-boggling the way we have to hope, year after year, the organization will somehow (even if inadvertently) make rational decisions.

  11. Here’s a chilling thought:

    What if Winker isn’t even on the 25-man roster on Opening Day?

    It’s not outside the realm of possibility, especially with Revere in camp. I mean, it should be outside the realm of possibility, but with this organization, you never take the logical for granted.

  12. This doesn’t feel like a typo. This feels like Price. Classic Price.

    Sigh x 1000.

    • It has been updated and yes, it was a typo. Feel like sayin’ something like ooops my mistake?

      sighx100000

      • Sure was. I think its sad that we’d even entertain it not being a typo. That says more about Price than just about anything.

        Do I feel like saying oops my mistake? No. I made no mistake.

        • Sorry, you entertained that idea not we. And yes, you made a mistake. The truth will set you free.

          But move on, tomorrow Billy will leadoff again so there,

  13. For those who haven’t noticed, there apparently will be a correction. (See Fay’s tweet, bottom of this article.)

  14. Important note: this article was written by a new ‘contributor’ to the Enquirer, not John Fay (so he’s not – at least at this point – even an employee of the paper, much less a Reds beat writer). Whether via ignorance or nervousness, he got it wrong. I think it’s nothing more than that.

  15. A few things. The article’s byline is for Keith Jenkins, rather than John Fay. Since the article was posted, both C Trent and John Fay have contradicted the assertion, via twitter. I expect Jenkins has Winkler and Ervin mixed up.

    However, the other thing that jumps out is the article says Schebler will play CF when Billy is out. Why would the Reds keep Ervin on the roster and not have him backup CF? He certainly a better defender at that position.

    • Good call on the mix up. As soon as I read it, I thought there had to be a mistake. As much as I criticize Price’s decisions, his allocation of playing time this spring suggests that Ervin might not even be on the 25 man roster coming opening day. Winker is still in the mix.

  16. I read this article this morning and got a good chuckle out of it. Heck, Ervin was destined for Louisville the day Revere was signed.

  17. Thanks editor Chad.
    Why I read Ctrent in the Athletic.
    Enquirer delivers to my driveway 30% of the time. The other 70% I get an email saying it’s late. The journalists are all leaving…they don’t cover high school football scores on Saturday mornings or playoff Box scores for basketball. Their online content is unreadable….with nonstop bombardment of songs and commercials and advertisers….and that’s WITH a paywall.

    Cancel them.

  18. The nugget about a four-man rotation including Ervin is simply too ludricrous to have any validity. It has to simply be a misstatement, accurately quoted.

    What’s more disconcerting and troubling is Price’s statement, “Right now, we’ll get everybody regular at-bats. The guys that have been there – Schebler, Duvall and Hamilton – they’re regular Big Leaguers to me.”

    That statement speaks volumes, fortifies the concerns and justifies the angst many, including the Old Cossack, have expressed during ST. Price doesn’t get it and will never get it. The bigger concern is that the front office, management and ownership, support Price as the manager, indicating support for Price’s mindset and philosophies.

    When Paul Brown brought the Bengals to Cincinnati, there was no bigger fan than the Old (much younger then) Cossack. I lived and breathed Cincinnati Bengals football as much as Cincinnati Reds baseball. When Paul Brown transferred all decisions and control to Mike Brown, I didn’t even flinch in my rabid support. After years and years of gross ineptitude by Mike Brown, I ceased to care about the Cincinnati Bengals. I no longer watch the team on TV, attend any games, read any articles or engage in any discussions regarding the team. I simply don’t care.

    I don’t have much stomach for ineptitude. There have been long stretches of poor performance by the Reds and I have not flinched. I have struggled through the Schott and Lindner debacles and did not flinch. For the first time I can ever recall, the BC regime has me questioning my support and asking why? I don’t like that feeling, at all.

    • I think your comments are a reasonable response to Price’s statement.

      On the other hand, I try to remember that Price is managing actual humans. Not sure what benefit he’d get in the clubhouse out of being quoted by the press as saying he was dumping one of these guys in favor of the rookie. He can make that happen just by filling out the daily lineup… And if someone gets hurt, he doesn’t have to make that choice just yet, at least not publicly.

      There is also a good chance that I’m being entirely too charitable towards Price, who has made plenty of, ummm, curious decisions as Reds manager.

      • Redlegnation- A community of obsessed Reds fans.

        Cut us some slack. It appears we care more about the success of the Reds than Price or WJ .etc.,

        And, well….we were Reds fans decades ago….. long before most of these decision makers had anything to do with the organization…and we still will be long after they move on.

      • I feel like too often we try to rationalize things that on the surface seem to make no sense. Last year the theory was the Reds couldn’t play Winker over Duvall/Schebler in July because of the looming trade deadline; then they had to play in August to try and rebuild their trade value for the August 31 deadline; then since the Reds struck out with those two deadlines, they needed to let Schebler/Duvall play in September to build that value back up for the off-season.

        Sadly, I think the problem is two-fold. On one hand, regardless of the niceties from the front office, the Reds value power over on-base skills and they value speed over on-base skills. And on the other hand they value veterans over rookies. If you have proven at any point in your career that you can be at least a replacement level player, the Reds put more value into that than they do a rookie that has a much higher ceiling than the veterans they already have.

        I get that a manger has to manage 25-40 personalities in addition to managing 162 games. But they also have to set the tone and culture in the clubhouse. Right now the Reds do not have a winning culture, not just because they continue to lose 90 games, but because they don’t put the players on the field that give them the best chance to win. That is not how you build a culture of winning.

        • Your point about a winning culture is a very real concern! The “culture” was my argument about bouncing Price 2 years ago!!!!! I find myself with what is likely concussions from at his decisions nevermind the accepting losing!!!

    • Same fee long here Cossack, I remember the 1st Bengals draft choice. PB was a smart man, wish Mike had some of his smarts. Wonder if the Reds will get some soon?

    • Exactly how it went down for me and the Bengals… I doubt I could drop the Reds as I love baseball. That said, I could certainly care less and less about the team and end up watching a lot of other games just for the sheer enjoyment of watching good baseball. I found myself doing that quite often last year. Would only check in on the Reds from time-to-time.

  19. Fake news from the Cincinnati Enquirer sports department?
    Surprise, surprise, surprise.
    The venomous Price attacks are unwarranted. Getting raked over the coals on something that never happened. Price is going with a 4 man OF rotation. It is as simple as that. And after some time, he go with the hot hands like any other manager would do.
    A question should be how did this get to print to begin with? Are there no editors at the Cincinnati Enquirer? Any casual fan would know this was either earth shattering news or something was amiss. Are the editors at the CE that detached from Reds baseball to not know any different?

    • I could write a manifesto on this topic as someone with 35 years experience as a newspaper reporter, editor and editor-in-chief. The short but not very sweet truth is that newspapers of all sizes have had their staffs slashed to the point where there are barely enough people in the newsroom to get the paper out every day. The Enquirer’s top two baseball writers left what used to be a dream job in the journalism world because there is no future in newspapers for anyone with experience. From what I can tell now, they are using a team of reporters, other than John Fay, who are youngsters. Nothing wrong with that — we all were young once.

      But the Enquirer copy desk may be one of those around the country that has been digitally farmed out to what is the equivalent of a call center. It’s possible that someone in another state is proofreading their copy, and that person may have little to no everyday knowledge of the Reds roster. Let me me clear — I do not know this for a fact, but there are numerous newspapers of all sizes in this country currently operating this way as a way to cut personnel costs.

      The Athletic is scooping up the best sportswriters around the country because they all know there may be a future with an online publication that is trying to do sportswriting in a Netflix model — present premium content for an affordable monthly fee. Those sportswriters have looked around their newspaper newsrooms the past decade and seen their staffs cut in half or more, with no end in sight.

      And it’s not just newspapers. You may have heard last week that iHeart Radio — one of the largest, if not the largest radio conglomerate in the country — filed for bankruptcy. (That’s the one that owns WLW and hundreds of other stations.) Just as people began to bail on print newspapers about 15 years ago, they are bailing on radio now for the same reason — they can find specific, customized content on apps.

      Commercial TV is next. Nine of last year’s top 10 rated TV programs were live sports. The only one that wasn’t was the Oscars. Prime time TV has very small viewership due to Netflix and all of its competitors.

      The “legacy” media doesn’t have enough eyes and ears on it any longer to be able to sell advertising at a rate that will support operations. As our digital options continue to grow, advertisers will follow them to the new media and away from the legacy media. ESPN has had numerous layoffs of experienced staff because existing advertising and cable user revenues can’t cover the high price they have paid for NFL, NBA, NFL and NCAA telecast rights.

      I empathize with the Enquirer folks because I have been in newsrooms where this has happened, and it is very sad for everyone involved. The sort of mistake that happened today would never, ever have happened 15 or 20 years ago. Now they just don’t have experienced manpower to cover the team nor to edit the coverage of the team. Or, it may have just have been a case of someone trying to do the work previously done by three people and falling victim to his or her human failings.

      End of mini-manifesto.

      • Thank you for your very informative media comment.

      • Thank you Tom. That was very insightful. Newspapers are going the way of the rotary dial phone. I’ve completely given up Network national news and pretty much Network prime time television. Garbage, garbage, garbage.
        A la carte cable television better be on the horizon soon or cable TV is next. Why pay over a $100 a month for 100+ channels that you only watch maybe 20-25 of those channels? I really hate subsidizing channels and networks on cable that I have zero interest in and never watch.

        • You’re already seeing the beginning of ala carte programming in sports with the apps such as MLB.com, NBA.com and NFL Sunday Ticket. At some point, we’ll be able to pay per team or even per game. The technology is there now to make it happen. I’m paying $115 per year for MLB.TV so I can watch as many Reds games as possible from my home in Wisconsin, and I am paying $60 per month for Sunday Ticket so I can watch Bengals games without having to go to a bar. At some point, MLB.com will be able to create a new revenue stream by allowing per-team and per-game purchases. Same for Sunday ticket.

          • Off topic: I went to high school in Appleton. I still have tickets at the “Beau” that my Dad got over 50 years ago. My sons use them now.

          • Seems I read about two years ago that The Enquirer had eliminated all copy editors. And I remember that it was immediately noticeable in the simple errors that made it online. Most online articles have multiple ‘updates’ in which a few of these get fixed.

          • Doofus, I have lived and worked (not in newspapers) in Madison for the past two and a half years. I wish it was closer to home in SW Ohio, but other than that, Madison is a great town.

        • what’s a rotary dial phone? 😉

          • A rotary dial phone? That’s easy: A reliable way of communicating with other people.

  20. One would have to imagine that the front office would not sit back if Winker was not playing a lot this year.
    In regards to Hamilton, he provides value to a team, but, there is really no evidence to this point in his career that he should bat lead off.
    Schebler has certainly proven that he should get many AB’s as well. It feels that they could go Schebler in CF as much as needed to give Winker basically a starting role with Duvall getting fewer starts.

    • We have to remember that Duvall has faded dramatically each of the past two seasons, like cliff diving fading. His playing time needs to be rationed so he stays strong for the entire season. If Duvall can produce an .850 OPS for 400 PA spread over an entire season, bombined with an .850 OPS from Schebler and Winker, what an affensive OF upgrade!

      • I like that! Schebler, WInker, and Duvall BOMBined for 100 homeruns:)

  21. Each outfielder must be used to their strengths. Resting Adam is a must billy should be used as a pinch runner and a defensive change he should receive the least plate appearances of the four. Winker should get starters at bats. Starting billy less and resting Adam should get schebler plenty of at bats. Matching the starting three with the opposing pitchers and the ball park should make for all four the opportunity to have a productive season

  22. I just don’t understand the anti-Duvall bias at this site. In 2016 Suarez’s slashline was .248/.317/.728. He went on to have a breakout year last season. Duvall’s slashline for 2017 (the WHOLE season) was .249/.301/.782. His pre-ASB line was .278/.321/.878,plus he’s been a GG finalist both of his ML seasons.There’s just nothing etched in stone decreeing Adam will regress this year, nor fall off in August/September again. I expect both Duvall & the Reds medical staff to better manage Adams diabetes issues this year. I anticipate improvement in Adam’s performance for the 3rd year in a row. He may regress & prove himself unworthy of the Reds LF job- but he’s earned the chance to succeed/fail this season & not be swept aside by a rookie.

    • I don’t see a whole lot of bias, just that everyone knows he drops off the second half of the season.

      I like Duvall, but he has a medical condition and is starring down the wrong side of 30 this year as a power hitting OF. Suarez is entering his prime and has already surpassed any of Duvall’s seasons from an OPS perspective so I think chances are you’re going to see more coming from Suarez than Duvall. That’s why people are so high on one versus the other.

      Again, not bias as much as it’s fact. Same reason Hamilton has such a short leash with this group. The numbers don’t lie

  23. One of the things to remember is that when Suarez his .249/317/.728 in 2016 he was 24 years old and learning a new position. Duvall’s season last year came at age 28; he will be 30 before the end of this year.

    As someone newly on the wrong side of 30 myself, it’s hard to get used to calling that old, but for a baseball player he’s about to, or already has, hit his decline. And the skill-set he does have does not age particularly well anyway. None of this is to say he CAN’T be an All-Star this year, but the odds are not in his favor.

    By the way, if you’re curious what Duvall was doing at age 24, he was hitting .252/.320/.465…in AA.

    • He has a short swing working in his favor. Cozart greatly shortened his swing last year and picked up nice results. We’ll see? I think Adam will get far fewer atbats this year and end up being pretty decent!

      • I like AD a lot, too, and hope that he can do Cozart-like things with his swing and approach. It is not likely, but more players are using new refinements to their approach and are able to implement them as they have more experience, even if their physical strength and quickness are beginning to diminish.

    • I’m a AD fan and I’ve watched him closely. He can catch up to fastballs. I remember a game winning HR vs Gerritt Cole last year. He mashes lefties pretty well. His well known issues including diabetes and wearing down in the 2nd half and also righties with good sliders. They should def sit him vs guys like Scherzer on Opening day. If Price used him correctly and limited his at-bats then I feel fairly confident he could up his game to atleast an .825 ops. That’s the same ballpark as Suarez and everybody loves him. Duvall plays left pretty well and led the NL in assists. He gets a good jump on the ball and does about as well as anyone with mediocre speed.

      • I agree with most of this, but the problem is the Reds don’t operate that way. They have starters and bench players and generally don’t deviate from that. So while it might be nice to limit Duvall and Hamilton’s playing time to maximize their contributions, that’s just incredibly unlikely with this manager/front office.

  24. The Enquirer has gone down hill for years. The mistake they made was inexcusable.Literally hundreds of us at The Nation caught it because we actually give a damn about our Reds. The paid hack sportswriter that muffed it doesn’t. How do you confuse Winker and Ervin?

  25. The Enquirer is basically the USA Today with random Cincinnati news sprinkled in.

  26. winker has yet to prove he can handle the outfield defensively.

    • If Kal Daniels and Adam Dunn can man the outfield defensively, WInker can.

      • To be fair, LW, Dunn and Daniels stood there, but didn’t really man it. I have a little optimism about Winker, though.

  27. I quickly grew into an Adam Duvall fan, after he arrived as a seemingly minor piece of the trade and performed beyond our expectations, but after two years of full time PA’s, his deficiencies seemed obvious (and are compounded by his diabetes).

    It has occurred to me though, that more players than in the past seem to be making new and effective adjustments later in their careers. Whether because of increased analytics use or other training and coaching methods (i.e. video, computer modeling), it may be that more players will improve a little later in the aging/experience curve than history-based analysis would suggest is normal. From Daniel Murphy to Zack Cozart, there are impressive examples of struggling-to-be regular/above-average performers who become All Stars. The Reds have a phenomenal refiner and mentor of such adjustments and approach in one Joseph Daniel Votto. Perhaps the Reds could have more players make more impactful adjustments in the next couple of seasons.

    • Duvall had a .845 ops on Aug 19th. Suarez was .859 at the time. They both slumped in Sept. That’s over 4.5 months of pretty good baseball. Lets see what happens with 400+ atbats.

      • Duvall in the last 3 months of the season:

        July .198/.274/.369
        August .209/.264/461
        Sept/Oct .226/.278/.286

        That’s 3 months of pretty bad baseball.

  28. The failure of the front office to trade at least one outfielder In the trio of Hamilton, Duvall and Schebler leaves the Reds with the muddled outfield situation that will probably mean Winker will not be a regular this season. The Reds will lose out on a needed OBP hitter.

    • I was in agreement with you as the off-season wore on but now that I think about it more, I don’t see not moving one of those guys as a failure. Why? Well, it’s because the Reds have depth in the OF that they haven’t had in quite a long time. They have 4 guys who have legitimate cases to play everyday. I’m not sure about the OF rotation. In fact, I’m not a fan of it. That said, it doesn’t hurt to have the depth to know that if someone goes down, you have a guy who can step up and do a legit MLB job for you. I don’t want anyone to get hurt but odds are that someone will.

      • I feel that Ervin as the 4th. outfielder and Mesoraco as a backup would be sufficient which would make room for Winker as a regular.

        • I would have been good with them making a trade, for the very reason you’re saying here.

    • While I would have preferred that they trade one of them, I didn’t want it enough to get nothing for Duvall or Hamilton (and I like the upside of Schebler and the future of Winker a lot). There was probably little to get in return for them. It’s not a bad call to see if a couple of them can increase their value and return more closer to the trade deadline. Hamilton, in particular, could have value to a team going to the post-season.

  29. I still would like to see an outfield of Winker in left, Schebler in center & Duvall in right.

    • I will agree with these guys getting the bulk of the playing time in the outfield.Its a no brainer but we will see Hamilton more then the other guys regardless of how anybody performs.Price will talk about match ups.ball parks,injuries,our pitcher being a fly ball pitcher and numerous other excuses to keep sending Billy out there day after day.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

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