Let me tell you something, when I came up with the idea of this column, I really did not think the Reds were about to have their worst start in history. I expected some ups and downs, of course. But this mess came out of nowhere. This was the week when I had planned to run my right track/wrong direction poll again, but that seemed pointless. So, instead, I ran this poll:

Well, the best thing I can say about that is that a .280 average will usually keep you in the majors. I answered “a little” for my part and let me tell you why:

Here is the list of current players on the Reds I fully and completely believe to be average or better major leaguers:

Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, Tucker Barnhart, Jesse Winker, Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Raisel Iglesias, Scott Schebler, Alex Blandino, Wandy Peralta

Here are the players for whom I have legit hope:

Jose Peraza, Devin Mesoraco, Brandon Finnegan, Michael Lorenzen, Jared Hughes, Scooter Gennett, Billy Hamilton (he’s walking, so I have hope).

And we haven’t even talked about Senzel.

Yes, there are some glaring omissions there. Would you believe, for instance, that Adam Duvall (65 wRC+) has been every bit as bad as Billy Hamilton (67) and Jose Peraza (65) with the bat since July 1? He’s also two years older than Hamilton and almost six years (6!!!) older than Peraza. And they play defense first positions. Anyway, we can argue about that in the comments. The point is I do think it’s time to move on from Duvall who was never a huge candidate to be part of the next winning team.

But I’ve gotten off track here. The point is that I think the Reds still have a good core. It’s a core that has slumped hard and kind of all at once. But it’s still there and I can imagine a quick turn around if ownership finally invests and patches some holes during the next offseason.

Basically, I’m trying to remember that baseball is weird and weird runs of good and bad play happen all the time. Would it be surprising if the Reds finished the season .500, for instance? Yes. Of course it would, but not shocking.

I do think the point has come when ownership needs to be held accountable for everything they can control (I’ll have a column touching on that in Cincinnati Magazine in a couple of days). They should be excused only when radical and unpredictable variations from reasonably expected levels of performance occur.

But I still like this core and I still think the Reds will play better going forward. So I’m a little hopeful. But we’ll see, of course. And hey, they’ve won 2 in a row.

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

Join the conversation! 15 Comments

  1. I would agree on most, especially if you are projecting what you think is reasonable at the end of the year, such as on Garrett and Romano, whose track records are short.

    But send me a bottle of the bourbon you were drinking when you included Blandino on that list. He’s looked pretty good over the last week, but I’m not sure how he can be deemed an average MLB player. Given that he figures to be a utility guy at best the rest of the season, he doesn’t figure to get to that level, either. I hope I am wrong.

    • Competent utility players are vital piece to the regular season puzzle. They may not figure large in a shorter post-season series, but having a decent bat and glove to call of the bench is nothing to sneeze at.

    • Sorry for double posting. Ment to add that the jury is still out on Blandino, but based on MiLB history he’s got a legit shot at being that UT-IF guy.

  2. I am hopeful that four adequate starting pitchers are identified and that a determination is made on where Senzel plays. I am not hopeful that a winning season is going to happen. I am also hopeful that there is a good trade or two at the deadline, but that will be highly dependent on the performance of the Reds trade candidates and the misfortune of another team

  3. As of this morning, 26 players have already accumulated 1.0 WAR for this season. 9 of the 26 play either 2B or SS.

    In this era of 3 outcome baseball (K/BB/HR), few, if any teams, can afford to just write off a position as “defensive first.” Everyone needs to contribute in putting the ball in play. Especially the Reds, who won’t spend money and play in a Top 10 park for offense.

    Scooter’s role on the Reds puts paid to the notion that defense weighs close to the same as offense. Does anyone feel confident about him out there, not booting plays in a Reds playoff game? But, for now, his bat plays enough to keep him in the lineup.

    The Reds were projected to win 74 games over the winter. Now, FanGraphs has the Reds projected at 65. IMO, 81 wins would be a shock, but does the win total matter right now? Having a lineup in August (Senzel, Winker in LF, Mahle staying consistent, etc) that is close to what it will be in 2020 or 2021 would seem to be the top priority.

    • I would really like to see Senzel at 2B with Scooter being a trade chip if a contender develops a need at 2B or DH. That would give good defense and offense at 2B and 3B. I would also explore trading Iglesias for a CF.that would be an upgrade over Hamilton. In that ideal situation the team improves while giving Peraza one more chance to prove himself before looking at the free agent market.

    • Well said. I nominate you to replace Uncle Walt as double special senior executive to Bob. The forecast is improving with warmer temps. Time for Scooter to go on one of his reality defying GABP home run tears and get his trade value up. I’m calling it….Scooter is about explode.

    • More outs are made by fielders than by strikeouts. That Scooter is starting despite his bad defense doesn’t prove that defense doesn’t matter: It just proves that the Reds currently prefer him to the alternatives.

  4. I like the optimism. I think I fall on that side too. I think we have the pieces in line to be competitive. I’m not sure we have the pieces in line to compete for a World Championship. But then again who expected the 1990 championship? I do hope part of the FO plan includes top tier FA acquisitions that can put us over the top when the time is right. (When is the time right? I dunno.)

  5. The Reds have traditionally had good defensive teams. Gennett’s offense is needed at this time but his defense is a liability. When Senzel is brought up and gets acclimated to major league pitching, he can take over second base. Gennett is perfect as a DH for an AL club, and I would hope he could bring a good pitcher to the Reds.

  6. Well I have a little optimism. I think that Castillo, Romano and Mahle are pitching better and have optimism that they will still improve. Add that to Bailey who is pitching decently and that is four starters. I’m still not optimistic about Finnegan, and think he might end up in bullpen. I am optimistic that Riggleman let Garrett go into a third inning of work, hopefully he will be used more and possibly move into a starting role. I am optimistic that Stephenson will figure it out. I think his last two outings are also part of that nine day interruption due to the weather in Buffalo. He needs regular work. Cody pitched three decent innings last night. So pitching wise I think we are going to get better.
    On the offensive side of the ledger, getting Suarez back and getting more PA’s for Winker will help. Getting Senzel up will help.
    On the defensive end Peraza does seem to be playing better and Blandino looks good. Winker is going to be Winker not great but serviceable in LEFT FIELD but Scooter??? To paraphrase the Sound of Music “What do you do with a player like Scooter?” I am hoping that somewhere we can package a deal with Scooter and Duval. Maybe if we throw in a young pitcher we might actually get a useful player. Hope Springs eternal!

  7. The astute roster watchers on here knew the 2018 season was fraught with danger. Add in a tough first 2 months schedule with front office mismanagement to a roster that was weaker than last year’s, a last place roster at that, and then spring training injuries and it wasn’t difficult to see a very rough road to travel. Now a historically bad start was hard to fathom. It will be nice to see someone hold ownership accountable on this bad, losing baseball.
    In recent interviews, Castellini says way to many “we’s” in his conversation, even when discounting reports that he has too much influence on baseball decisions. Hard now to believe much of what comes from the owner or front office. Actions speak louder than words, and Castellini’s actions == losing baseball.
    Castellini can talk all he wants, but most of the fans are hearing “blah, blah, blah”.

  8. “You gotta be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, otherwise you might not get there” — Yogi Berra to Red’s ownership and front office.

  9. Why not covert Scooter to the outfield, maybe CF and move Winker to LF. Package Duvall/Hamilton. With hope of a young arm. If Scooter works out defensively, maybe a reasonable 3 year deal. No more. Senzel to 2B, keep Blandino as a backup and get rid of one or both Goss and Penn.

    • Scooter doesn’t have the wheels nor arm to play CF. He could probably play LF… Doesn’t have the ‘wheels’ … See what I did there? 😉

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About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

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