Should Nick Senzel be developed as a shortstop? Or a third baseman? Or a second baseman?

That question has been on the minds of Reds management for weeks. Senzel’s best position is third base, but that spot belongs to Eugenio Suarez, he of the seven-year contract extension. In the press conference announcing Suarez’s new contract, General Manager Dick Williams praised him as “one of the best defenders in the league.”

Even before spring training began, it was clear that the path to a big league starting position in 2018 for Senzel, the Reds’ top prospect, was not going to lead through third base. Early in camp, it was announced that the former Tennessee Volunteer star would work at shortstop in practice and in games. In a November interview, Williams said Senzel’s path to the majors might resemble that of Todd Frazier:

“We knew he was going to be able to hit in the big leagues,” Williams said of Frazier. “When Todd came up, we thought maybe the opportunity would be in left field, maybe third base, maybe shortstop. He had the ability to play multiple positions, and we played him that way. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t get [Senzel] some time at different positions.”

Monday’s announcement that Senzel was being sent to the minors was not surprising. But the announcement he would be going to Louisville to play second base caught many Redleg Nation regulars by surprise. Many had presumed that, because Senzel had played shortstop in training camp, he would continue to do so in the minors, as a way to prepare him for an eventual starting role with the Reds at that position.

Senzel’s reaction to Monday’s news, in an interview with Mark Sheldon:

“We’re a good club. There are spots [already filled] that people have proven they can play at a high level. My job is to fill whatever they need and where they feel they need me to play. I just wanted to know where I would play every day in Louisville. I didn’t want to be bouncing around, and they didn’t want me bouncing around, either. I’ll be at second base, and that’s what it is.”

The reaction at Redleg Nation was a bit more passionate, with one train of thought seeming to be that Senzel’s future was perhaps being compromised for the benefit of Jose Peraza.

Here’s what I believe is happening:

  1. Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez are both under contract through 2024, with one caveat — the Reds hold an option on Votto’s 2024 season, and can buy him out at $7 million instead of paying him $20 million. Presuming both players continue to produce as they have recently, that’s an incredible corner combination for the next seven years. (Note: Votto will be 40 years old in 2024.)
  2. The consensus belief is that Senzel will join that duo at some point this year or next at one of the middle infield positions. Presuming he plays a portion of this season in the bigs, he won’t reach six full major league seasons (and possible free agency) until … 2024.
  3. The Reds front office believes it has stronger prospects in the minor league system at shortstop than at second base. Within two or three years, Jeter Downs or Jose Garcia will be ready to play at the major league level. (And, don’t forget Alfredo Rodriguez, supposedly major-league-ready on defense right now. Last year, he played at Class A+ Daytona.) When that time comes, do you want to have to move Senzel to second? Or do you want a guy who has established himself at second base to work with the new young shortstop?
  4. In the meantime, Jose Peraza will get the chance to show what he has. If he blossoms, that would be great! If not, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to move on from him in two or three years.

In essence, it’s my belief that management is maneuvering to have one of the best infields in the big leagues together for four or five years, and having Senzel established at second base solidifies that plan.

Another perspective on the big picture of the Senzel move from Manager Bryan Price, in the Mark Sheldon article:

“He’s got to be ready to play anyplace but first base if we have an injury or setback.”

That may truly be what is happening. Preparing Senzel to play any of three positions certainly gives him more opportunity to jump to the big leagues in case of injury to Suarez, Peraza or Scooter Gennett.

These developments also make you wonder if we haven’t seen the last of the chronically injured second baseman Dilson Herrera. If he’s going to play second, it’s apparently going to have to be at Class AA. Neither he nor Gennett should get too comfortable in their current situations.

Many Redleg Nation commenters were thrilled when the Senzel-to-shortstop announcement was made, perhaps with visions in their heads of him becoming the Reds’ version of the current crop of young great-hit, great-field shortstops currently starring around the majors. The hitting part of that equation is seen as a given. But we really don’t know if Senzel has the great-field attribute. Shortstop is not his natural position, and only people who have seen him every day in practice and in games in Arizona have any idea whether he has the potential to be a big league shortstop defensively.

There are many variables which will determine when and where Nick Senzel will debut and play for the Reds. I think second base makes the most sense on a long-term basis.

Join the conversation! 74 Comments

  1. I concur on your thoughts on this move to second base for Senzel. Barnhart is inked for 4 years now at C. Winker is here also through the 2024 season in 1 OF spot.
    Two OF spots to solidify and the SS spot. Besides the rotation gelling, the mission for the 2018 season is to find two long term OF’s. Whether that is in-house or not doesn’t matter.

  2. Tom,

    Really good “connecting the dots/offering some answers” type article.

    I am of a firm belief that the true contention window starts in 2020, goes through 2024 and after that, some tough choices arrive on retaining guys.

    If the Reds surprise earlier, like the Rockies and Twins of 2017, great. But, I see nothing but patience from Dick Williams to keep building the roster from in-house talend to get up the win curve towards .500, then fill holes via trade or FA.

    Senzel may never be as good at SS in the majors as he has shown at 3B in the minors, but if he hits as good as projected, it can be overlooked. Houston’s Carlos Correa is not a great defensive SS, but openly mentioned as an eventual AL MVP winner. Likewise, Deter Jeter wasn’t called “The Captain” for his stops in the field.

    • At SS or 2B, his offense plays so well, it can override defense at either position.

      • In my mind, there is no reason why — if he may never be as good at SS as he is at 3B — to force Suarez in at shortstop.

        I was always in favor of the idea of moving Suarez back to short to open 3B for Senzel, but that is not going to be done. One reason is that the Reds don’t want to take “one of the best defenders in the league” out of his best position and take the chance of making him less valuable on defense.

        The only reason to move Senzel back to shortstop this year would be if Peraza suffered a serious injury.

        I have no idea what the current scouting report is on Alfredo Rodriguez, but when he signed out of Cuba two years ago, the word was he was major-league ready at shortstop defensively and the equivalent of a Gold Glover in Cuban baseball. It was always known that hitting was his weakness, and that’s what’s kept his ascension through the minors at a slower pace than Senzel’s. If he can hit at all, I’d want him at SS instead of Senzel or anyone else trying to learn the position.

        • I don’t think the door is closed on moving Suarez to short. In the extension announcement, Dick Williams said “one of the reasons we were comfortable doing this, knowing Geno can play short, has played short and has the ability to play other positions if we need to.”

          If Peraza can’t cut it, whoever can play a better SS between Suarez and Senzel will move off 3B. It doesn’t matter how good Suarez is at 3B; SS is the premium defensive position — the best SS will move there.

          Another possible reason Senzel moved to 2B: it could be the weakest position in the majors. Scooter is below average defensively (at a premium position) and is due for a potentially major regression offensively. Not to mention, if Senzel plays SS in the minors, you’re basically telling Peraza that you have no confidence in him. Peraza is still the more valuable asset long-term. He needs some positional security to really show what he’s got.

        • I was also in favor of moving Suarez to shortstop with the departure of Cozart but that’s not to be, certainly for this season. Peraza should be given a real chance to see if he can manage a key defensive position. I’ve been wondering about Alfredo Rodriguez since he was signed with a lot of hoopla a couple years ago and we know that in Cuba, along with other places in the Caribbean, baseball is played with a lot of passion. I agree that if Rodriguez can hold his own offensively (.200 – .250) then he should be in line if Peraza cannot get it done.

        • It is a good optimistic (and potentially true) view of how the infield could come together. The problem is that Peraza has yet to show himself adept at either the plate or at shortstop.

        • From what I’ve read on Doug Gray’s scouting reports over at his site, Alfredo seems like a stud defender. I recall Doug being down in Pensacola and reporting that he seen Alfredo make some great plays. It’s definitely his bat that needs improving if he is our future everyday SS.

        • I understand why the Reds would not want to mess with success. I also know that Suarez could switch back to what was his motmal positisoon! He struggled at SS but if you wstchrd him it wss mote merves thsn poor play!!! He has better than average range and an absolute cannon for an arm!!! He committed almost as msny errors on simple routine plays as he did on the plays that were tougher! That made me think thst his trouble came from pushing things to make the perfect play! I was constantly bi……um griping about hos defense bit even when complaining I thoight it was trying to hard!!!!!!!

          • Sprry about how that came out it is fat fingers from a lifetime of labor and a phone keyboard and small print, if you guess you van probably figure it out even with the spelling and grammar issues!!!!

  3. Amazing to think now that the Jay Bruce trade delivered less back than the Sean Casey trade.

    • Amaxi g, yes. It also brought back less than what the Reds got for Jonathan Broxton from Milwaukee. That was Shackleford and Astin.

  4. There for awhile I was hearing how the Reds didn’t really have any good strong prospects in their minors at short. I don’t know what’s changed…if several of them have made leaps in their development or what? Nonetheless, I remain convinced that Gennett will be traded at some time this season to make way for Senzel. It may also be a sign that the reds are losing either Faith or Patience in chronically injured Herrera.

    I REALLY don’t like the idea of Peraza manning short for the next 3 or 4 yrs. But, IF (big IF) by some miracle Peraza does blossom at short and at the plate (which I don’t believe either will happen…but I digress), won’t he then be blocking one of those young shortstops? What’s gonna happen then?

    • Then the Reds would have the kind of problem you want to have — a surplus of talent that could be used in trades for players at positions where they are not as strong.

      • Tom,
        You’re right. I forgot about that. But let me ask you this: Have any of the young shortstops in the reds system that you mentioned shown a proclivity for better offensive capabilities than Peraza?

        • No! Just superior defense.

          • Another perspective to consider: If the Reds management believes Senzel is average to above-average defensively at shortstop, there would be no reason whatsoever to move him off that position.

            If the belief among readers here is that management is moving Senzel to second as a way to somehow protect their interests in Peraza, that makes no sense. All management would need to do is move Peraza back to second if Senzel really is superior to him defensively at shortstop.

            This is a team that has a chance to have at least three-quarters of an infield be of all-star caliber for several years running. If Senzel was clearly the best shortstop defensively, there would be no reason not to leave him there. He’s one of the building blocks they’ve been waiting for.

            I respectfully suggest that service time issues have nothing to do with this decision. There’s no reason Senzel couldn’t go to Louisville and play shortstop every day if they see him as the best shortstop in the organization.

            Having not been there to see him play with my own eyes, I have to infer that the people in charge who were there to see him play shortstop saw enough to believe grooming him to play shortstop is not the best decision for him or the team long term.

            I could be 100 percent wrong, and actually I hope I am. I’d love to see Senzel become a Carlos Correa type!

          • I have no problem with Senzel playing 2b and batting 2nd for the next 6-8 years.

            I would say it’s not simple to just move Peraza back to second since Gennett took that away from him last year and Gennett is your Opening day 2b.

            Shortstops in MLB rarely turn in to shortstops after college. They start as teenagers in Latino academies or are drafted out of high school in the first round. The Reds want an elite defender first at SS. They ve shown with Billy Hamilton and Stuart Turner they ttake extraordinary measures to value defense above all else at CF and C and SS….see Alfredo Rodriguez. He may be plan B.

          • By both I mean hit and field.

        • Jeter certainly has shown MLB bat upside.

          • Thomas,
            That’s good! Hope he continues to improve his bat. He’ll be the one, then, that I’ll look forward to seeing at the big league level (hopefully soon, even tho I realize it may be a few years. I hope somebody boots Peraza out that spot before then, though).

          • There are 4 SS prospects in the Reds minor league system. The Reds have invested tens of millions of dollars in those 4 SS prospects. Unfortunately, 3 of those SS prospects have yet to figure out which end of the bat to actually hold and which end of the bat is used to contact the ball. Jeter Downs has finished just half a season in rookie ball successfully. He had a marvelous season (.267/.370/.424) at Billings, but everyone hits in the pioneer league. While Downs didn’t disprove his ability to hit, he also didn’t prove his ability to hit. None of the SS prospects will be MLB ready within 4 seasons, if ever, so it’s Senzel or no one internally to fill the SS position if Peraza fails to produce this season.

            For that reason, there are a lot of fans and front office types who are desperately hoping Peraza steps up this season and proves a lot of folks wrong.

    • The last two drafts and international free agents. So Jeter and Garcia (i think that is the second cuban kid).

  5. Price’s comments sound straight from the FO. They’re grooming Senzel to play multiple positions to fill an area of need that arises to get his bat in the lineup everyday. Great gloves can play a lot of places. Herrara must have more serious shoulder problems than we know.

    • I don’t know. Just yesterday or Wednesday, Doug said that Hererra was playing a lot of 2B in minor league camp.

  6. So what’s the plan if Peraza fails? As you mention, there is a 2-3 year gap for the next SS Prospects to emerge. Free agent stop-gap fill in?

    Why not employ Senzel as the backup plan now, instead of waiting for 2-3 years for the the next prospect to emerge? Who knows, he might already be better than Peraza now? Let’s not be faced with “what are we gonna do now” if Peraza fails or gets hurt.

    • I like the idea of putting Senzel at either SS or 2B and making that “his” position. There aren’t a lot of true star players who move around to different positions.

      The fact that he has been a third baseman indicates to me that shortstop is not his best position. Infielders who may not have the range, etc., to play great at shortstop end up at third or second, and Senzel is not going to be at third unless Suarez suffers a serious injury.

      If I was in charge, I’d be planning that Senzel is a second baseman for the next six or seven years at least.

      • Senzel is very young and has only been playing professionally a full year. He’s athletic and could end up playing short full time if Peraza fails. Reds are looking for flexibility and backup plans with him.

  7. Tom;
    Allow me to offer this thought, The Suarez contract gives the Reds 7 years of control at a fairly cheap cost. If Suarez can become an All Star this year, continue to demonstrate some power, and the Reds need for healthy starters to replace the often injured, seldom available starters that the current staff continues to be plagued with, there is a general manger out there who see’s his window closing and getting a team controlled third baseman, who has both power and fielding skills, may be the piece that gets his team to the playoffs. The Reds will have Senzel ready to step in.
    just a thought

    • I don’t think they would trade Suarez, with as cost-controlled as he is, unless the offer was something you just couldn’t say no to. In my view, Suarez is now in the elite class of Reds assets, along with Votto, Senzel and Greene.

  8. I believe everyone in the organization thinks Senzel will be starting at GABP in 2018, probably as soon as his super 2 status is resolved, the Old Cossack certainly believes that we will see Senzel make his appearance in June and never look back. By June, the Reds may be ready to compete with the rest of the contenders in the NL, if they can stay in touch with the league leaders until June. I certainly wouldn’t make any moves to go ‘all in’ for 2018, but I also certainly wouldn’t slam the door on being competitive in 2018. By June, the Reds starting rotation should be stocked with four studs (Castillo, Mahle, Romano and Garrett) along with a fifth starter from a selection of possibilities (Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan, Stephenson & Reed). That’s the starting rotation we have all been waiting for with more talent getting close to MLB readiness. I expect Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler to also lock down two OF positions with both IF corner positions and catcher already locked down. The bullpen will be adequate or better with Iglesias, Hernandez, Hughes and a bevy of other bullpen candidates (Peralta, Lorenzen, Quackenbush, Crockett, Brice, Shackleford, Weiss, Herget).

    We’ve hashed out ad nauseam immediate issues and possibilities at SS (Peraza), 2B (Gennett) & CF (Hamilton). The future options for those positions would seem a determining factor in finding Senzel a permanent or semi-permanent position beginning when he arrives in 2018.

    CF
    Taylor Trammell .281/.368/.450 @ class A in 2017
    Jose Siri .291/.341/.530 @ class A in 2017
    TJ Friedl .284/.378/.472 @ class A & .257/.313/.346 in class A+ in 2017

    2B
    Alex Blandino .259/.374/.462 @ class AA & .270/.390/.444 @ class AAA in 2017
    Shed Long .312/.380/.543 @ class A+ & .227/.319/.362 @ class AA in 2017

    SS
    Jeter Downs .267/.370/.424 @ class ROK in 2017
    Jose Garcia DID NOT PLAY IN US
    Alfredo Rodriguez .253/.294/.294 A class A+

    There are 3 SS prospects in the system that have some expectation of reaching and starting in MLB, but none of them have played a season in the upper minors (AA/AAA) and none of them have had a successful season above rookie ball.

    There are 2 CF prospects in the system who have some expectation of reaching and starting in MLB but none of them have played a season in the upper minors (AA/AAA) and none of them have had a successful season above class A ball.

    There are 2 prospects in the system who have some expectation of reaching and starting in MLB. Both are playing in the upper minors (AA/AAA) and one has had success in the upper minors.

    In looking at those prospect lists, I do not see any CF or SS who will reach MLB before 2021 and I see 2 2B who may very well reach MLB by 2019. In addition, the currect players at the MLB level at 2B are more solid than the current players at SS or CF. If the Reds are looking for a ‘home’ for Nick Senzel, it sure seems that SS and CF are much more realistice and certainly have a greater need the 2B.

    I simply don’t buy into the company line being proferred as in the best interests of the Reds and Senzel. Moving Senzel to 2B is in the best interest of Hamilton and Peraza.

    • I agree…I don’t necessarily think the Reds will be particularly competitive this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were extremely competitive from July through the end of the season. Senzel, Garrett, Mahle, et al, could make a huge difference once everyone is in Cincinnati for good.

    • I agree. There is no reason to expect any of the SS’s to be here within the next 4 years. A couple of 19 year olds and a guy who will be 24 in June with a career slugging percentage lowre than his pitiful on base percentage (.295 vs .300)

    • Cossack, that is my thinking also. SD is more of a problem than second base. If Senzel replaces Gennett we might gain a little this year but we would still have Peraza and his anemic bat along with Hamilton’s anemic bat.
      I think the Reds are being too far sighted and forgetting about what is up close and staring them in the face.

      • I disagree. I think this is more of a near-sighted move. Peraza is under team control until 2022. Gennett is a FA after 2019 and everyone knows he is a candidate for both regression and a trade. I see the FO’s position as being able to plug Senzel in the lineup as soon as possible and 2B is the most likely position. Unless Peraza simply falls on his face, he is your SS for the foreseeable future. If he does fail, DW’s comments on the recent Reddit Q&A are telling: they can look to fill SS from outside the organization due to Peraza’s “positional flexibility.”

    • Trading Gennett for max value and developing Peraze this year are in the Reds’ best interests. A little extra flexibility being asked of Senzel may hurt his development, but only slightly, and it may actually help his development if he becomes a flex guy that glues this team together at some point (a la Peter Edward Rose moving to third in 1975, and a talented young team going from mired around .500 to winning three quarters of their games the rest of that year – we can dream, can’t we!). Not every scenario around this Senzel playing 2B move is negative nor disingenuous.

  9. I remember a quote from Senzel about two weeks ago in I think a Mark Sheldon story, that he personally thought he was ready to play Shortstop in the Major Leagues right now and could handle it fine.

    • That’s the attitude I want any player to have. The Reds talent evaluators may not think so however. They may not think he’s a SS at all, let alone right now.

  10. Dour Gray has posted an interesting article on the Red’s shortstops in the minors.
    http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/13/2018-cincinnati-reds-state-of-the-farm-shortstop/

  11. Timely article Tom and nice review.
    It seems that Senzel will be the injury fill in should Peraza get hurt later in the year , but the Reds see him as the 2b of the future.

    It’s difficult to see a scenario where the Reds commit to Senzel as their SS. I love the concept- not sure how he projects.

    Practically speaking , Walt Jocketty spent 8 figures in signing bonuses to acquire Jose Garcia and Alfredo Rodriguez and traded Todd Frazier for Peraza. I can’t see the Reds abandoning those 3 only 2 years removed from committing such organizational resources to acquire them.

    I don’t see the Reds winning this year. I do see a potentially entertaining team capable of winning in the 2nd half of the season if health and playing time of key players occurs. Perhaps when that time arrives….we see Price removed.

    Half way point 36-45
    Final record 77-85.

    • I feel like about 77-78 wins is our ceiling with the improvements St. Louis and Milw have made. The Brewers pitching isn’t that strong, but I didn’t think it was that great on paper last year and they finished 9th overall in era somehow?

      Still looking forward to the season. No more Arroyo, Adleman, Feldman, Bonilla, etc on the staff. Everyone atleast has potential for the future except maybe Homer. The offense has a chance to be better if some of our key guys step up a little bit! The pen should be better as well.

  12. I hate to be Debby Downer even though I’m so good at it, but it feels to me that the point of putting Senzel at 2B in AAA is to keep him in the minors longer, not to get him to the big leagues quicker.

    Scooter is now a Reds veteran; if we know anything about Reds and their veterans it’s that they are given extremely long ropes. If Scooter is hitting .250/.300/.380 when the calendar turns to May, the Reds aren’t going to have him lose his spot to a rookie. It would be unprecedented.

    The other thing that might happen is Scooter might hit like the Scooter of last year and sit .320/.380/.500 in May. The Reds certainly aren’t going to trade him at that point. The Reds selling high in the middle of a season 2-1/2 months before the trade deadline would also be unprecedented.

    That leaves us with SS. By moving Senzel off SS, if Peraza struggles early the response from the team will either be “Well, we don’t have any other options in Louisville, we just have to keep running him out there.” Or “We have Cliff here to back him up. He’s a veteran, he’s been here before, we’ll spell Jose some with Cliffy to get his mind right.”

    In the scenario that Senzel stayed at SS in AAA, any struggle by Peraza/Scooter would have fans clamoring for him. By stashing him at 2nd base, the Reds can claim plausible deniability for keeping him in AAA. I fear the Reds aren’t going to play the service time game with Senzel THIS year, but want an excuse to play it NEXT year.

    • Bad teams/organizations like the Reds tend to to waste time and overvalue players like Gennett and Duvall.

      Just make Senzel the 2B of the future and bring him up after service time factors. Start him at 2B every game and don’t look back. There is no reason at the point for Scooter to play other than as a back up at multiple positions.

      Continuing to play average/below average players that are not part of the future when the organization has not won over 70 games is just poor management.

      The Reds offense will likely be worse than last season after losing a 5 Win player in Cosart and the possibility of some regression by Votto.

      It would be nice to see the Reds make a step to becoming a non 90 loss team.

  13. Timely indeed!

    2B is the place you put infielders who can’t field. Think Robinson Cano, Ryne Sandberg, Biggio. Brandon Phillips and Roberto Alomar are the anomalies. If Senzel can play SS then he absolutely 100% should. Moving a SS/3B to 2B is robbing him of potential dWAR. Why not play Brooks Robinson at 2B, or Ozzie at 2nd?

    I’m okay with some reps at 2B in AAA, but it’s just to get him ready to supersub this year. This kid should play 3B or SS***.

    ***Assuming our pro level coaches/scouts believe he can.

    • Ryan Sandberg 9 gold gloves, Biggio 4. Decent fielders

      • Lol. When he won those gold gloves was he being compared to shortstops?

        Someone has to win GGs in left field too, you know.

      • Yeah, he noted them as anomalies to the rule. Personally, I like 2B who can field but I also think Senzel will be an above-average defensive 2B. Scotter however has never been a very good defender. His bat last year was so good that it made up for it but if he regresses and the fielding is still sub-par, then his value goes way down.

    • Your post loses all credibility when you include Sandburg and Biggio in a list of “infielders who can’t field”. FYI, Sandburg was considered by many in his time to be the best fielding 2nd basemen of all time.

      • “All” credibility? I’m just not sure you understand my take here. He could be clearly the best fielding 2B of all time, but doesn’t someone have to be the best in a categorical group of players who do not have the ability to field at C, 3B, SS, CF, or RF?

        This is a Take. Takes use extremes to make moderate points.

  14. doesn’t have the range for ss, I am telling you. 2nd base maybe..
    still think he and Winker are our best trade options.
    just don’t see where these 2 fit in the reds long term plans.

    • I agree. Suarez is a great trade chip too now that he has that team.friendly contract. I’d have Toronto on speed dial to take Vottos contract. Trade Trammell before he busts. He’s a better running back anyway.

      • Bengals want to trade for Schebler as a linebacker. Reds want Dalton in the pen.

    • They probably fit in as hitters. A team needs some of those.

  15. Reds are sending him down for six weeks (maybe). I’d figure they want to get the bonus year with Senzel and hope Herrera is ready to play 2nd every day by the time that date happens.

  16. I’m sure I’m in the minority – Peraza will be a solid MLB player!

    He’s 23, good quickness, he listens, he’s athletic, he gives effort and he’s good buddies with Eugenio. He’s quietly having a solid spring and I think the Reds will give him some time to become a solid ML shortstop.

    If we’re building toward a 2020 team, this gives him a couple years to continue to learn and mature as an everyday ballplayer. He doesn’t need to be Cal Ripken or Derek Jeter – he needs to be a solid, smart middle infielder with a decent OBP.

    That’s why the 2-bag is the spot for Nick Senzel. Two young guys that can anchor a middle infield for the next 5-10 years – I like the sound of that! Give the young guys a position and a vision then let them learn to play together.

    Let’s have this conversation again in 3-4 months.

    • You may be correct about Peraza. He will certainly have a chance to prove his worth at SS this season, at least for 3 months. He was handed the 2B job last season and fumbled it badly until he was replaced. I hope Peraza creates a very good problem for the Reds by seizing the opportunity and owning the opportunity.

    • I’m all for great/good defense but there’s got to be more players out there that can do both. I understand Williams wants a good or even great defensive team but he’s seemingly focusing on players who have good/great defense and very little offense. I’m kind of getting tired of it. But, at least we’ll have good defense!

      • Sandman: I can’t think of anyone besides Billy who fits that description. Winker is a hitter with probably mediocre defensive skills. Senzel may prove adept in the field, but was drafted for his bat, and so on. A player who is good at both is valuable, I agree.

    • Redlegs64,
      But wouldn’t it be great if we did have a Cal Ripken or Derek Jeter at short instead of…Peraza! Can’t say that you wouldn’t rather have a Ripken or Jeter type player.

      • Hmmm…not a HOF candidate, but a Cozart type player would be nice too.

    • You are in the minority, but I’m right there with you. I think people were far, far too quick to dismiss the real strides Peraza started making during last season’s second half before being sat on the bench by Price.

      People here were very quick to write off Peraza after only one full season in the majors. Just think how many great players we’d never gotten to see if they had been written off just as quickly.

      If after this season Peraza shows that his OBP skills from the 2nd half of last season were a fluke, then ok, maybe it’s time to start thinking of him as a failure. But until we get some further evaluation, it’s simply too soon to know what Peraza can be.

    • I agree that RLN has prematurely written Peraza off. I am not in love with his swing, but he is clearly the best defensive option at SS that the Reds have, and will have for the next couple of years, barring a trade.

      At age 23, Barry Larkin slashed .244/.306/.371, for an OPS+ of 76. Peraza at age 23 slashed .259/.297./.324, for an OPS+ of 63; not as good as Larkin, but Peraza at age 22 had an OPS+ of 102, and Larkin was at 96. Peraza isn’t going to be Barry Larkin, but he certainly has more upside than most suppose, and he is still young for a shortstop.

      Peraza also had some odd splits, most notably that he was awful at GABP, where he had an OPS of only .555, which borders on Tom Matchick territory, but .678 on the road, which is exactly what Larkin had overall at age 23.

  17. Good write up. Our Lorenzo Cain/Yelich next year could be a SS if the pitching shapes up. We have depth to trade from, as well. I agree with a few people that it would be great if Peraza came through, too. It’s nice to have options and I can’t imagine he’s not a solid defensive 2B with a way above-average bat for the position.

  18. To me, an open and notorious position-shifter, the obvious place for Senzel is the outfield, and even centerfield. An outfield of Winker/Senzel/Schebler would be excellent offensively. Senzel is athletic enough to play centerfield, and has a third-baseman’s arm, so I don’t see any downside to giving him a look-see there. (And it would light a fire of urgency under Billy Hamilton.)

    I think Schebler is going to have a MONSTER year.

    • When Suarez emphatically stepped up and claimed the 3B job, I thought (and still do) that CF was the perfect landing spot for Senzel, rather than 2B. I did not think he could successfully shift to SS and other internal options existed to cover 2B. The importance of CF defense has diminished significantly and I thought Senzel could provide a positive CF defense as opposed to a neutral or negative 2B defense. Senzel’s bat would play up in CF. With any positive CF defense from Senzel, he could easily and routinely put up a 5 WAR performance.

      Senzel has never played OF and there would certainly be an adjustment in learning the reads from CF for a career IF, but it has been done successfully. The time for making that decision and beginning that transition was during the off season. The Reds missed the boat on that option, but it could still be accomplished with time in AAA.

      There also seems to be more of a glut of quality middle IF in MLB now as opposed to quality CF.

    • A cautionary tale. Jay Bruce 2011. He won NL Player of the Month for May 2011 with a hot month. Disappeared until mid-August for a 2 week period and then disappeared again.
      Streaky hitters more often than not get on bad and mediocre streaks for a longer period than they do on the good streaks.
      Schebler has looked good in the warm weather of spring training. Let’s see how he handles April and May weather in the NLC. The southern most city the Reds play in during April and May is St, Louis. Except for 2 separate week long road trips out west in mid-May (LA/SF) and late-May (Col/Ari).
      The Reds will have a very tough first 2 months of the season on the schedule. In Mar/April, they have 19 games vs. teams expected to contend for the playoffs. Only 11 games vs. teams not expected to contend.
      In May it gets tougher. They have 21 games vs. teams expected to contend and only 6 games vs. teams not expected to contend. It gets a little easier after that, In June it is 13/13, and in July it is 13/11.
      Those expecting a better Reds team for the second half this year better look over the schedule. It is brutal in August. The Reds have 27 games in August vs. teams expected to contend, and only 1 vs. a team not expected to contend. In September it is a little easier as it is 11/16. The month of August, with supposedly a lineup that will be geared more for 2019 and ready to show the NLC they are here, will be a good barometer on reading the team for 2019. It will help them determine what else needs to be done next winter before 2019.

  19. Scooter will be 28 on May 1. Its not like he’s 33-34 years old? I see no reason why he couldn’t hit .300ish vs righties with 20+ HRs for the next 3-4 years? I’m scratching my head to find a 2nd baseman past/present that blossomed from a utility player into a semi-slugging regular? You can also factor in that he’s a joker in the clubhouse and good teammate & he’s a local boy to boot! This year is big for him too, but I expect him to keep hitting so I don’t know why Senzel needs to go to 2B?

    • While Scooter could develop as you suggest (and it’s not some pie-in-the-sky long shot), most guys don’t improve that way. He also doesn’t have the sort of glove skills and mobility that suggest he will improve as a fielder, so average is his ceiling on defense – and he could be below average out there (28 is an age when range would normally start diminishing). To boot, his base running contribution is likely to be lower than average too.Even without regression, he is probably a platoon player at best, meaning the Reds need another good second baseman to start a bunch of games.

      He does profile as a good potential bench player. His aggressive nature at the plate and strong ability to hit a right-hander’s fastball with power could make him a good pinch hitter. His fun demeanor and willingness to play all over the field make him a good clubhouse presence and flexible sub. This is his most likely role over the next couple of years. If another team values him in a bigger role or just needs this bench player to stock their roster for this post-season, the Reds should trade him to keep building the team’s upside and long-term prospect pipeline.

      • And if the Reds do trade him, I would enjoy seeing them bring him back on the next good Reds team as a strong bench piece who also has a local connection.

  20. I’m not sure the theory that the Reds have stronger SS prospects than 2B prospects is accurate. The Reds have a good group of 2B prospects that are near ready. Led by Shed Long (who’s the highest rated middle infield prospect in the Reds system) this group also includes former 1st rd pick Alex Blandino (a T20 Reds prospect in his own right) as well as recently DFA’d Dilson Herrera who has always demonstrated he can hit when he’s healthy enough to be on the field.

    The Reds have two SS prospects in their top 15 in Jose Garcia and Jeter Downs. Garcia has yet to play stateside and looks like he’ll start the season in Dayton (Low-A). Downs also looks slated for Dayton, although there are a lot more questions about his ability to stick at SS in the long run (meaning he may be one more 2B option to add to the mix). If both Garcia and Downs start in Dayton only one is likely to get regular reps at SS. Most likely, based on the Reds promotions with highly rated prospects in the past, both will spend this season with Dayton. Next year they may split the year between A+ Daytona and AA Pensacola if they find first half success in Daytona. If they do not have set-backs at AA (said to be the most difficult jump in competition level) they likely spend another half season there before moving onto AAA Louisville. That puts an ETA of late 2020 (at the earliest) or sometime during the 2021 season.

    Meanwhile there’s a good chance we could see all three of Long, Blandino, and Herrera in Cincinnati at some point this season. Not only do the three 2B prospects have a more extensive and established track record, but are near-ready meaning that there’s more certainty to their rankings. It could still be 3+ seasons before a SS prospect makes their way to Cincinnati. That’s three seasons of counting on Peraza to fill that role as a better option than moving Senzel there while one of the 2B prospects plays alongside him.

    Maybe the Reds simply believe Senzel can’t play there everyday. I would readily admit they have more data and information that I do to make that decision. I’ve only seen snippets of ST games (but I also haven’t seen anything to make me believe he can’t handle it). If that’s the case, then yes you have to find a place for Senzel to slot in the line up and 2B seems a good option. I just don’t think it’s because the Reds believe they have better SS prospects than 2B prospects. I believe it’s because Senzel’s better than any prospects they have and there’s a need to find him an everyday place to play.

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