You may have seen my season preview piece for Cincinnati Magazine that was published last week. I never linked it here, but it wasn’t because my editor gave it this uncharitable title: “The 2018 Cincinnati Reds Are Making The Playoffs. (Stop Laughing.)” If you haven’t read it yet, check it out:

The Cincinnati Reds are going to make the playoffs in 2018. You heard it here first. (In fact, you might only hear it here.)

I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor. After all, the Reds have averaged 93 losses per season since the last time they qualified for the playoffs, which seems like it was around the time of the Italian Renaissance, even though it was actually —- and you can look this up -— only four full seasons ago. No, really!

I know you’re skeptical, and I get that. Cincinnati has finished in last place in the National League for the last three seasons, and they’ve lost at least 94 games in each of those seasons, including a 68-94 record in 2017. While mired in the gloomy, shadowy depths of the rebuilding process, the Reds have been really bad the last few years, and you’d have to be out of your mind to expect a playoff appearance on the heels of what we’ve witnessed over the last 1,639 days.

But I’m here to tell you that it’s going to happen. Or, at least, it’s more likely than the Bengals winning a playoff game. (Too soon?) Or X or the Bearcats making a Final Four. (Ok, definitely too soon.)

Do I really think the Reds are going to make the playoffs? No, of course not (as you realize if you actually read it). But I point you toward that particular example of brilliant baseball writing as a prelude to my current piece at the Magazine, titled “Don’t Overreact To The Reds Getting Swept.”

However, if we make the reasonable assumption that you’re here because you’re interested in words about the local baseball nine, you’re probably a little unhappy about the performance of the Redlegs in the first three games. Or a lot unhappy, if the “measured” reaction of most Reds fans online is any indicator. I’m here to tell you to step back from that ledge, my friend. It’ll be okay, I promise. Let’s not overreact to one (admittedly bad) series of Reds baseball.

First of all, the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade just took place on Monday. So that means that Monday was Opening Day, right? Everything that happened before Monday was just spring training. The Reds are 1-0 and in first place! Isn’t that how this works?

No? Okay, let’s try this one: the Reds have only lost three actual regular season games since last September. This is an actual fact that can be confirmed with only a modicum of research. Three losses in six whole months: that’s not so bad!

You’re not buying that either? Then let’s get serious for a moment. There are a number of really good reasons why we shouldn’t overreact to an 0-3 record right at the start of the season.

Give it a read, then come back and tell me how dumb I am for writing such ridiculous drivel. Thanks, Nation!

59 Responses

  1. scottya

    Whats that? Playoffs! don’t talk about playoffs, you kiddin me. Playoffs, I just hope we can win a game!!! In the infamous words of Jim Mora.

    I watched this and me and my son laughed and laughed.

    Reds starting pitching off to a excellent start. If that can continue… PLAYOFFS…

  2. doofus

    Yeah, they’re going to the playoffs, maybe in 2035.

  3. Bill

    They’re sure to make the playoffs with the leadoff batter batting. 083 while a player with an BOP .463 bats 6th or sits. SURE!

    • Shchi Cossack

      Ya gotta love that BOP factor!

    • Gonzo Reds

      Could’ve had Yelich in CF… he’s hitting .435 so far…

  4. SultanofSwaff

    Getting a good look at the Cardinals and Brewers over the last couple days, they seem eerily similar in that their offenses are their calling card and it remains to be seen if their pitching will be good enough over a long season. You can put the Reds into that same category.

    I could see the battle for 2nd in the NL central to rage well into September. That means someone is in the wild card hunt. Why not us???

    • Matt WI

      I’d put the Brewers offense a notch (or two) above the Reds. Yelich has hit the ground running up there. They have an unbelievable bench from an offensive standpoint.

    • Clint

      Why not us? In two words, BRIAN PRICE.

      • Jeff Reed

        We’ll probably see John Farrell in the managers office in the not too distant future. I doubt he’s the answer. I’d prefer a young, inexperienced manager like Martinez of the Nationals.

  5. cfd3000

    Chad I don’t think you’re crazy. Am I confident these Reds are a playoff team, or even a winning team? No. But do I think it’s possible? Definitely. Barring another injury scourge the starting pitching, by far the biggest issue with the 2017 Reds, will be better and maybe a LOT better. And if injuries aren’t a huge problem the bullpen should also be improved. That leaves the offense, and there it’s a matter of health (as always) but even more so, of management. Hamilton and Peraza were the worst offensive pair of teammate regulars in all of baseball last year, and nothing has changed. If they play every day, even if BHam bats 9th, the offense will not be better and with the loss of Cozart probably worse. But just write in Winker and Senzel where you got used to writing Hamilton and Peraza – go ahead Bryan Price it won’t hurt I promise – and suddenly six good / two bad hitters becomes eight good hitters. BIG difference. Yes, defense will suffer a little especially in center field. But it’s still a big net gain. So that’s all it takes for a winning Reds team: no injury plague and two new faces. It IS possible.

  6. WVRedlegs

    This 2018 Reds team under the careful handling of GM Dick Williams is one big turkey. A very big turkey. And we know how turkeys fare in Cincinnati. We Reds fans are all Arthur Carlsons.
    Arthur Carlson: “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”
    Les Nessman reporting: “The turkeys are hitting the ground like bags of wet cement.”
    That pretty much sums up the Reds 2018 team and season as currently constructed by GM Dick Williams, going to hit “the ground like bags of wet cement.”
    Playoffs???!! Not in this universe that we currently occupy with this Reds front office. 62 more wins to avoid a 100 loss season is going to take a lot of work. Work the current Reds front office is content to avoid. If we had the Hubble Telescope at our disposal, we still couldn’t see Winning Baseball Back in Cincinnati.

    • greenmtred

      I’ve mentioned this before, but turkeys certainly can fly. This may not have relevance to your other observations.

      • WVRedlegs

        Oh certainly, I’ve seen turkeys fly from one hillside to another. They don’t fly much for distance though.
        There must be a turkey vortex above Cincinnati that doesn’t allow for turkeys flying in the corporate limits of Cincinnati.
        The Reds just cannot get off the ground under this front office’s leadership. Turkey would be a good new nickname for Dick Williams. Dick Turkey Williams, it has a nice ring to it. You know how baseball loves nicknames.

    • Chad Dotson

      I get the feeling that you don’t think the rebuild is going very well.

  7. Anderson Sparky

    The Reds make the playoffs if:
    (1) Hunter Greene is allowed to close and be the first IF stick off the bench. Kid is Ohtani right now.
    (2) Senzel is called up in two weeks, and handed the everyday CF or 3B job. His stick is far better than Hamilton and Peraza (Dilson Herrera 2.0), both of whom should be traded, preferably packaged with Mesoraco and Finnegan for a veteran starting pitcher who actually belongs in a MLB starting five and two high ceiling prospects.
    (3) Billy Hamilton sits until he’s traded.

    • Ernest Howerton

      That’s funny,I don’t care who you are.

  8. Indy Red Man

    Ozuna hit a 117 mph HR last night. Equals the 4th hardest hit ball of 2017. Yelich hit a 2 out bottom of the 9th game tying HR. Cards just signed Greg Holland too. The Reds offense will have a nearly impossible time competing with either one of those 2 and the bullpens aren’t even close? Maybe Garrett turns into Chapman Jr. but its all an unknown? Milwaukee’s starters are mediocre so I don’t see them doing much better then about 84-85 wins, but unfortunately I like St. Louis with Martinez, Weaver, Mikolas, Flaherty, and Wacha…with Wainwright coming back. They might be better then the Cubs imo with Ozuna and Jose Martinez in the middle of the lineup. If we win more then 7-8 versus either team then I’ll be surprised. Pirates? No….not buying it

    • Anderson Sparky

      I’d take Garrett as the closer if we move Jose Iglesias into the starting rotation and lose Finnegan’s Wake and Cody Reed my Lips

  9. WVRedlegs

    My complaints with the Reds front office are more about them being content with the losing, being wishy-washy about many things, a lot of non-action, and many times it seems the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
    The Yovani Gallardo signing is but one small example.
    Last year we were told that Reds uber-prospect Hunter Greene will concentrate solely on pitching. Today, Jon Morosi has this, “Hunter Greene, @Reds prospect and No. 2 overall pick last year, will begin the season pitching exclusively, per senior director of player development Jeff Graupe. However, the team isn’t “closing the door on developing him offensively,” Graupe said.”
    Confusing messages from the Reds front office. What does this mean? Is the SS position back in play? Is this just for pinch-hitting and possible DH duties? No wonder the Reds front office more often than not seems dazed and confused.

    • Jim Walker

      Ask Michael Lorenzen what it means. It’s likely just what you tell a kid who feels like he isn’t finished hitting when you know you are never going to honestly give him a look as a hitter.

      • Indy Red Man

        The Cards new starter Mikolas hit a 2 run HR the other night. Wainwright seems to get a lot of hits. Arrieta really started hitting with the Cubs in his last year/two. Nothing wrong with a good hitting pitcher…also no law that they have to hit 9th either?

        I think Maddon is overrated but he used to put Travis Wood in LF at times on a switch. No reason they couldn’t hit for Billy in clutch spots like and put Lorenzen in CF.

      • Jim Walker

        The Reds use the DH extensively in the minors. Inevitably it is going to arrive in the NL, probably within Greene’s career. If he is willing to put in the extra work on hitting, there is not reason not to have him do it and take ABs as a DH in the minors just to see what he brings as a batter.

      • WVRedlegs

        In a year or two that might be a good plan. I was getting the impression from this is that after they shut him down on innings limit this year, they will have him bat some to finish out the year. That doesn’t seem like a good plan.

      • Jim Walker

        Sending him up to bat only after he has finished his innings limit is setting him up to fail as a hitter unless he has been working on hitting all along. Let him work on hitting in his spare time and DH on days he isn’t pitching just to see if he can carry the dual load.

      • Old-school

        Great point about the DH in the NL.

      • Gonzo Reds

        Nope! NL fans will boycott. I for one stop watching baseball the day this is instituted in the NL, takes all the strategy out.

      • Anderson Sparky

        If they don’t continue to give him ABs now, his stick is Herrera 2.0 inside a week. The talk about “leaving the door open,” is garbage. The only things the Reds are leaving the door open to are 2-3 more seasons of 90+ losses.

      • WVRedlegs

        You just had to bring up Mikolas. Rubbing salt into the wounds. I lobbied all winter for the Reds to sign him right up until he signed with STL. The one STL addition you haven’t mentioned, another failed lobbying effort, is the RHRP they got from Toronto, Dominic Leone. He is going to be super for the Cards. Those were my top 2 pitching targets and STL got both of them. Marcus Stroman was one but that always seemed too unrealistic. Toronto didn’t go into full rebuild mode. The other 2 were there for the taking for the Reds.

  10. Wobaisnotyoda

    You are right Chad. This team is not as bad as it looked in against the Eatons. They’re still a dumb team, though. They lack those things that difference winners from losers and cannot be measure by any metric.
    Many here want to believe is Peraza, Price or Bham. Or the bullpen or Castellini or…. Nope, is more than that. Accountabiity begins at the top with the the owner, the GM and the Manager and of course, the players, especialy the “veterans”. All of them are at fault. I credit BC for his proven “good will”, no so much for his devoted “love” for some players. DW has done some good things and has shown signs of a modern executive, but has lacked the abiity to make the important moves to push the rebuild forward. Price, well kind of hard to defend him…athough he has pleased those who already took for granted that Winker woudn´t play, Iglesias has pitched mutiple innings, and shifted the lineup in likable ways -most of the times ;). Now let’s see the players:

    Why everybody holds their breath when talking about Votto’s more than cold start- as usual? Yeah, he’s a great hitter – not so much as a defender or runner- but it is NOW when he’s needed not when the team is in a steep hole 20 games behind. I know it hurts the feelings of a majority enamored of his stats. But the truth will set us free.

    Scooter, great pick up, at least so far, concerned about his D. Eugenio, give me 8 of those and we’ll win. Duvall/Schebler, too streaky. . Peraza, I believe he’ll grow to be decent but not with the Reds. Bily, love his much needed glove and speed but in this lineup he just doesn´t fit. Tucker, quietly becoming our own Yadier Molina.

    With the exception of Barnhardt and Suarez, though, those players are fundamentally flawed and not build to be winners. Too many mental mistakes and cold feet.

    The positive note is the young pitching, no doubt. Guys like Castillo, Mahle and Romano look good.A couple of the Garrett/Reed/Bobsteve, etc bunch and they have a solid core to build upon waiting for Senzel, Trammel, Greene, Siri and the rest to take over and builiding a winner for good.

    As always, it is my opinion and not meant to offend anybody or stir controversy. Hopefully, the responds – if any- will follow the same way.

    • Indy Red Man

      Good post…honest imo! Joey has never been an April hitter for one thing and its 42 degrees out or something? But he’s also only 5 months younger then the great Miggy Cabrera! He’s just a shell of his former self so its going to happen to Joey too at some point. Father Time is undefeated!

      • Wobaisnotyoda

        Thank you Sir. The way to effectively change the course of this organization is to put our hearts aside and evaluate the players as they really are.

    • VaRedsFan

      A lot of truth here. For as bad as Peraza and Billy have been, it’s been the middle of the lineup (Suarez, Votto, Duvall, and Schebler) that have been failing during the big situations of the game. Sometimes you just need your superstar to deliver a big hit, to turn a loss into a win. Win those 50/50 games and there’s hope for success.

      • Wobaisnotyoda

        Exacty my point. I don´t expect Jose Peraza to carry this team on his shoulder. I expect Votto, Homer and now Eugenio to be not just the highest paid players but the ones that usually come through when it counts. Pujols, Wainright, Molina did it for the WLBs for many years for instance. The rest were just secondary/interchangeable pieces.

      • Wobaisnotyoda

        Sorry for the missing Ls, my keyboard is in a slump too. 🙂

      • Eric the Red

        Scooter is something like 0 for 8 with 2 outs and RISP. Small sample, Votto hasn’t been great either, etc., but Scooter gets talked up so much I think it’s only fair to point out that he’s killed a lot of potential rallies at the beginning of the year.

      • VaRedsFan

        Scooter is batting .286 with RISP. .375 with runners on base.

      • Eric the Red

        That’s true. But he’s 0 for the season with 2 outs and RISP. And he hasn’t had even one BB yet this year. You pointed out “Suarez, Votto, Duvall and Schebler” have been failing at the big moments in the games; I just wanted to note that Scooter belongs on that list.

  11. Jim Walker

    The 2018 offense is on a razor’s edge. I don’t see it being enough to sufficiently support the team as long as SS and CF are both essentially automatic outs. After seeing Schebler in CF and Winker in RF over the weekend, I am not enamored of the OF rotation as a way of trying to address this issue. Nick Senzel won’t be sufficient either IF he is merely plugged in at 2B at the cost of losing Gennett’s production. They need to bite the bullet and go out and get a CF or SS (or both) who is at least league average in offense at the position.

    • Indy Red Man

      I like Marcus Semien from Oakland (27 hrs in 2016) if they don’t go with Senzel at SS long term? Oakland has zero pitching so maybe they could do something?
      Good point about the OF defense. If they ever send Billy packing, then they’ll have to get a defensive oriented backup OFer that can play CF too. I don’t think Ervin is very good defensively either? A def replacement OFer is mandatory

  12. scottya

    Gotta Love the core of Tucker Barnhart, Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto! Their work ethic is spoken highly of by many and is evident by their defensive abilities. I think this core of players will lead us to some really enjoyable and winning season’s and highly likely next year. Would be awesome if it were this year and it is possible if the young pitchers become solid MLB Pitchers right away and Senzel becomes what we all expect and at the position of SS and by June 1 (I don’t believe this is what the FO has in mind however).

    The future looks bright because of the signing of Tucker and Eugenio, the trade to get Luis Castillo, the development of Castillo, Romano, Mahle and Garrett and the potential of Nick Senzel and Alex Blandino to improve our offense in a significant way.

    The bullpen looks to me to still be on track to have a productive season. Hopefully they can produce 4+ war from the pen in 18′. If the bullpen produced more than 4 war this also could push the record forward quicker than expected.

    I’ll add Here are the likely teams challenging for a wildcard in the NL based on the fangraphs war projections:

    Cardinals
    Mets
    D’backs
    Brewers
    Giants
    Pirates

    I could see 85 wins being enough this season to get in as Chad has suggested. There is such a huge cap from the “super” teams and the rest and the middle is very middling. I don’t really believe strongly in any of the mets, d’backs, brewers, or giants.

    Is it reasonable to see our 8 offense/defense producing 20-22 war? YES, with Senzel at SS and Blandino/Gennett platoon at 2b.
    Is it reasonable to see our starting pitching producing 12-13 war? YES
    Is it reasonable to see our bullpen producing 4-5 war? YES

    The top end numbers puts us up there with the Mets and Cards.

    • VaRedsFan

      Is it reasonable to see our 8 offense/defense producing 20-22 war? YES, with Senzel at SS and Blandino/Gennett platoon at 2b.

      I wish this part of your post were true. Senzel not getting time at SS in AAA. Pennington/gosselin kept and Blandino sent to the minors…where he won’t be manning 2B if Senzel is there

      • scottya

        If Jason is correct that we kept Pennington/gosselin with the idea of bringing up Senzel soon. Senzel will not likely be supplanting Gennett, but rather Peraza. So if this happens Senzel at SS and Gennett against right handed pitching and Peraza at SS and Senzel at 2b Against lefties accomplishes a similar platoon and significant impact on the Reds offense.

        They did not say that Senzel would not get time at SS in AAA. What they did say was he’d be “primarily” working at 2b at AAA.

      • VaRedsFan

        As much as I want it to be that way, there is no way Senzel will be playing SS in the majors after only a few weeks of spring training at SS under his belt. In order for your plan to be somewhat realistic, he would have to start getting reps in the minors.

      • scottya

        I don’t believe either of us have all the information to know for sure what the exact plan is for Senzel is at AAA other than he will be “primarily working at 2b”. Which I’m assuming means he’ll continue to get work at SS in games and workouts.

        How do you know that he’s not going to get reps at SS in the minors? Are you sure he’s not been continuing to get work at SS (as well as 2b) with Benevides and Larkin in Arizona leading up to the start of the AAA season.

        I don’t really believe any of this information is public at this point?

        My plan (and when I communicate with the FO I always cc sabathia and the president) would be to work Senzel at both SS and 2b, but more at SS than 2b. In case he proves unable to handle SS defensively at a level that is acceptable, he’d be beginning to work at 2b.

      • VaRedsFan

        On the contrary, that’s exactly what they said.

        “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.”

      • scottya

        Senzel also said he’s going to Louisville and will be “primarily at 2B.” Nick Senzel via Mark Sheldon

        Most of the quotes are Nick senzel himself speaking of what the plans are. We’ll see, you may be right he may not play at SS again at AAA or hardly at all; but I doubt it if you look at all that has been said.

        I just really can’t see us benching Gennett to bring up Senzel to play second base right after Super 2. But I could be wrong.

      • WVRedlegs

        I have this little suspicion that Senzel will move over to SS in the very near term at AAA, and if Peraza continues to struggle at the plate with the Reds, he is done. In 4 weeks or so, if Peraza is hitting below. 200, I would bet the ranch that the Reds will call up Senzel to play SS and decide it is better to go with Scooter at 2B for 2018, 2019 and 2020. I think then before the all-star break the Reds then will announce a new 2 year contract for Scooter to cover his last arb. eligible year of 2019 and his first year free agent year in 2020 with a Reds option for 2021. That will take care of the infield for the next 2-3 seasons after this year. They then can concentrate on what to do about CF and the other corner OF spot opposite Winker at the trade deadline or next winter. Getting the middle INF settled by the all-star break would be a boost.

      • VaRedsFan

        I hope you are both right. They need to be fluid. And if the situation calls for it, that they should have him move to SS. I just wish the would be a little proactive, and plan for the most likely scenario, and that is that Peraza is looking more and more like he isn’t the SS of the future.

  13. Indy Red Man

    Why wasn’t Mesoraco in the lineup vs a lefty yesterday? He hasn’t started any of these 4 games has he? 13 mil off the books atleast….he must be moving kinda slow like Uncle Joe (anyone remember Petticoat Junction?) or something?

    • Jim Walker

      “And that’s Uncle Joe. He’s movin’ kinda slow down at the (Petticoat) Junction”.
      They were cousins of the Clampetts as I recall.

      Since it is a dark slow day, have you ever wondered how it was that a crack rifleman like Jed (Clampett) missed that food he was shooting at hitting the ground instead to cause that bubbling crude of black gold to start pouring from the earth?

    • Chad Dotson

      He started Sunday, didn’t he?

  14. Wobaisnotyoda

    If Senzel is not able to take over SS for good, he should be playing RF, Winker LF. And Wiliams MUST be able to get a CF and SS for Duvall, Billy and Schebler (throw in one of the young arms not considered to be in the rotation if needed). Those are the kind of moves DW HAS to make to move forward.

  15. Indy Red Man

    Marlins signed Trevor Rosenthal….then they didn’t? Kind of weird? The Reds should take a long hard look at him! He’s still only 27 (28 in May) and has a super arm if his rehab works? He’s held hitters to a .231 batting average lifetime with 435 Ks in 325 innings! If he’s right then he could really help out Iggy or they could try and move Iggy for a haul at the trading deadline. Rosenthal could close for a few years while they continue sports slowest rebuild:)

    Actually Jacksonville’s 10 year rebuild in the NFL is starting to finally kick in so who knows?

  16. Dave Roemerman

    Chad, we all know you’re the perpetual (and sometimes exceptional) optimist but you’re not crazy. The young pitchers (and any health from Bailey, Disco, and Finnegan) alone give me reason to think we pick up 10-12 and make a run at .500. I’m not sure Winker and Senzel replace Cozart, nor is it fair to expect Votto to equal his masterpiece season of a year ago, but the offense is still good, if not great.

    I came away certain we’re not on par with a 95-or-so win club, but we’re not gonna lose 90, either. I could see a little luck getting us to 85-88 and sneaking in if the NL West and the Cardinals/Brewers all crater ( so we’re not sneaking in). If we do, I’m pretty sure this whole site will be rooting along with you. If not, ’19-24 or so look very bright.

    • Indy Red Man

      I don’t see it unfortunately:( The bullpen is a mess and Price is still here. Price will cost them a game (or two) a month and DW gave Price no dependable answers in the pen. If Garrett really shines in the pen and if Peralta regains his form from early last season…..and if Lorenzen gets back and pitches like 2016. If Hernandez can get it together? He’s been bad every bit as often as he was good. I feel fairly good about the rotation but way too many IFs overall.

  17. James Grushon

    Sorry, you can’t win Games without strength up the middle and Perraza and scooter are the worst middle in baseball and Billy Hamilton needs to be sent to the minors. On a good team you might keep him for defense but this is not a good team.

  18. sezwhom

    Playoffs? I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll even see a .500 record.