As the Reds’ worst start of the regular season since the Great Depression has unfolded, fans of the team are looking for answers, and in some cases, heads.

Everyone from Bob Castellini to Dick Williams to Bryan Price has been roundly criticized here at Redleg Nation and elsewhere. One very important point for everyone to remember is:

This is part of a plan.

The plan is not to have the worst record in baseball — it is to have one of the best records in the coming years. However, other teams that have executed this plan successfully over the course of time have been as low as the Reds seem at the moment. Earlier this week in this space we cited the NBA Philadelphia 76ers, who are riding a wave of success and excitement as the playoffs begin. As part of “The Process,” which is their specific name for what the sports world calls a rebuild, the Sixers shed all of their talented veterans and high salaries after the end of the 2012-13 season and traded for as many future draft picks as they could.

Their goal: Acquire difference-making players to build around. The only way for non-marquee teams to do that is to have high draft picks and make them count. Non-marquee teams must overpay for established veterans, and we are seeing in all sports that ownership and management just won’t do it anymore.

In the seasons immediately following the decision to implement “The Process,” the Sixers went 19-63, 18-64 and 10-72. Along the way, NBA league officials were so unnerved that this was going on in a major media market that they put pressure on team ownership to move “Process” architect Sam Hinkie out of the general manager seat. He was replaced by Bryan Colangelo, who had some previous top management experience in the league.

In year four of The Process, the Sixers improved to 28-54, leading up to the current year five, in which they went 52-30, finished with a 15-game winning streak, and have the third seed in the Eastern Conference. They are considered one of the favorites to make the NBA finals.

During “The Process,” the Sixers missed on some draft picks, but they struck gold with center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons, two of the league’s top young stars. Very interestingly, head coach Brett Brown has been retained through the entire Process, despite his 127-283 career record.

I lived in Texas between 2006 and 2015, at a time when the Houston Astros were in the midst of their own version of the process. After the 2010 season, the Astros were the first team to commit to this form of rebuild. Their subsequent records were 56-106, 55-107 and 51-111 before some results were noticeable in year four when they went 70-92. Since then, the Astros have been in contention, and of course, won the World Series following a 101-win 2017 season.

During the Astros’ rebuild, fan interest reached previously unimaginable lows. In 2013, TV ratings indicated that around 1,000 people or less were watching games – in the Houston market, the nation’s fourth-largest! Another team telecast early in the 2014 season drew a 0.0 rating.

These two teams are among the leading examples of successfully executing the modern-day version of a rebuild. They didn’t veer off course when the record went into the toilet for years, and they didn’t panic when local fans basically turned them off. Just as the Sixers’ plan yielded some of the game’s brightest young stars, the Astros’ rebuild brought in Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and George Springer, perhaps the best young core of star players in the game. The Astros had high draft choices and made them count.

Nobody here in Redleg Nation enjoys what is currently happening. We all hope that the players currently on the team and in the farm system start to play better. But the front office is not going to go on a trading spree this year. With both the Sixers and Astros, year four was a year where the record began to improve, and that is certainly possible for the Reds once all of the injured players return.

While the front office is certainly not happy with the current low attendance numbers and upset fan base, they had to know that all of this was possible during this type of rebuild process. Year four is when glimmers of hope should begin to be seen, and we’ll see if that develops as the year progresses.

No matter how low fan interest drops this year, they will be back for a winner. Along with the Sixers and Astros, the Cubs and Royals demonstrated that clearly.

I am concerned that the success of this sort of rebuild process has radically changed the competitive scope of the game. Currently, there are about a dozen teams that are in it to win it, and the rest are in some phase of a “rebuild.” Back in the good old days, every season started with the belief that your team was going to do everything it could to compete and win. Clearly, these days that is not the case. It might be difficult for younger fans to develop passionate ties to their local team that seems indifferent to losing 90 to 100 games year after year.

Today, the Reds hope to avoid the four-game home sweep at the hands of the Cardinals. As you watch the game, you may feel sad as you see the very small crowd for a Sunday afternoon home game against a top rival team. Bob Castellini will certainly be disappointed, but understand that he knew years ago this was possible and agreed to the plan that has been successfully executed by the Royals, Cubs and Astros.

The elephant in the owner’s box is whether or not Dick Williams can complete the rebuild with the level of success that his peers achieved. We won’t know that today, but it certainly is always on Castellini’s mind.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Carlos Martinez 18.2 2.41 4.33 23.2% 12.2%
Homer Bailey 16.2 3.24 4.88 16.7% 8.3%

Reds hitters have had better success against Martinez, one of the league’s top righthanders, than you may have expected:

Bailey, by and large, has exceeded expectations. If he can pitch the rest of the season the way he has so far, you would take that and say you got more than you bargained for. He’s with the Reds for this year and next. His contract for the 2020 season calls for him to make $25 million, but the Reds can buy that out for $5 million, and they will.

Bullpen

All should be available today. Dylan Floro pitched two innings yesterday in his Reds debut and was very impressive in a two-inning, 23-pitch outing in which he retired six straight. With that low of a pitch count, it would seem likely he could be used again today.

Starting Lineups

Cardinals Reds
RF Dexter Fowler CF Billy Hamilton
CF Tommy Pham SS Jose Peraza
3B Matt Carpenter 1B Joey Votto
1B Jose Martinez 2B Scooter Gennett
C Yadier Molina LF Adam Duvall
SS Greg Garcia C Tucker Barnhart
LF Harrison Bader 3B Alex Blandino
2B Kolten Wong RF Phillip Ervin
P Carlos Martinez P Homer Bailey

News and Notes

Minor league update …

All players will wear #42 today …

Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.

Join the conversation! 194 Comments

  1. Gotta be kidding me. Winner to pinch run? Why not a pitcher? Burning way to many bench players here, and winner is as slow as me

    • It hurts to swing a bat. Not a bad move.
      (This time, lots of other bone headed ones)

  2. Blandino Took bunting lessons from Billy Hamilton

  3. Already in scoring position, and Wiinker can’t run well, so it’s gonna take a perfect bunt to get him to third, but what the hell, let’s give away an out.

  4. And the great ‘out’ giveaway is complete. Thanks, Bryan. Nothing accomplished.

  5. Pinch runner Winker??? Should have just let Tucker run. First you pull Garrett and now if they come back who gets the win? Let the kid work.

  6. Now that he pinch ran for Tucker, I guess it’s safe to use Mes.

  7. Walk him to get to Billy…incoming

  8. Ouch

  9. Billy = game set match

  10. Every game Price gives us evidence of why he should be fired.

  11. And so it ends ………… 8 in a row. Thanks, Bryan.

  12. Bryan Price…DMW?

  13. Words cannot describe how mind-numbingly moronic Brian Price is.

  14. Ervin is completely overmatched

  15. Did you all see that Cardinal young SP throw 108 pitches? Who knew his arm wouldn’t fall off after 90 pitches?

    • exactly! Which is why we should be trying to extend Mahle and company more than 2 times through the order

  16. Game Tying Run on 1st Base:

    1) Pinch run with a slower runner than the initial runner.
    2) Pinch run with a player that has an injured shoulder.
    3) Attempt to bunt him to third with no outs, even though evidence suggest that you have a higher chance of scoring if you just swing away.

    Price lacks:

    -A basic understanding of baseball probability.
    -A basic understanding of how OB? effects run production.
    -A basic understanding of his own roster.
    -A basic understanding of in game management.

    In short, Price is fundamentally flawed as a manager of a little league team, much less a major league baseball team.

    • Winker is not slower than Tucker Barnhart.

      Statcast data courtesy of Doug Gray:

      http://redsminorleagues.com/2017/12/20/fastest-cincinnati-reds-billy-hamilton/

      Player Speed (ft / sec)
      Hamilton, Billy 30.1
      Ervin, Phillip 28.8
      Schebler, Scott 28.4
      Peraza, Jose 28.2
      Kivlehan, Patrick 27.4
      MLB Average 27.1
      Duvall, Adam 27.0
      Winker, Jesse 26.8
      Suarez, Eugenio 26.7
      Gennett, Scooter 26.7
      Cozart, Zack 26.6
      Mesoraco, Devin 25.8
      Barnhart, Tucker 25.6
      Votto, Joey 25.6

      • What matters is if Mahle, Romano, or Finnegan is as fast as Barnhart or Winker. 3 years ago , Mike Leake was the designated runner (or bunter).

    • Wrong. Run expectancy runner on 3rd 1 out, .660 runner on 2nd, no outs .614.
      This is for 1 run scoring in an inning

  17. 2 – 12,
    Time for Price to go, a change has to be made.

  18. Because Winker is slow and timid on the bases, he was getting a very short lead from second base. A routine single wasn’t going to score him anyway……… But I’m sure in genius Bryan Price’s mind, Winker was the logical choice because he was active on the 25-man roster but wasn’t going to be available to pinch hit, so Price wouldn’t be ‘burning’ a potential pinch hitter. ……The fact that Winker can’t run faster than a turtle apparently didn’t figure into his thinking.

    • Nor did it enter Price’s thinking that the guy has a shoulder injury and you’re putting him in a spot where he may well have to head first slide in order to save the game. Winker is just starting to establish himself and, I swear to God, it’s almost like his manager is trying to get him hurt. Inexcusable.

    • Can Winker beat Tuck in a race? I bet Price doesn’t even know.

    • Per Tom’ data…Winker is about as faster than Tucker than Peraza is faster than Winker. If Winker is slower than a turtle, how slow are Suarez Scooter and Cozart?

  19. Ervin is trash Price has got to go and Votto is starting to frustrate me

  20. Come on guys. If Votto had not hit into a 0 out double play, the Reds might have actually beat the Cads. Blandino is not ML ready. I doubt Ervin ever will be. This team is overmatched & changing managers is akin to rearranging “deckchairs” on the Titantic.

  21. Boy…I have been willing to cut Price some slack, but his decision’s in the 9th even had me shaking my head. Winker running for Barnhart? Slow and slower (actually I don’t think Barnhart is that slow, unless he tweaked something in that play at first). And why wouldn’t you use Winker as your pinch hitter for Blandino or Ervin or Hamilton? I suppose Winker sore shoulder may have rendered him less than 100%, but still, batting lefty he could have at least moved Barnhart over to third with a right side grounder. Then you try to bunt Winker to 3rd with nobody out? There is nobody…nobody…on this team that can bunt, even if that were the thing to do. Heads still shaking.

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About Tom Mitsoff

Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.

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2018 Reds, Game Thread

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