Imagine you’re a Major League Baseball team with a franchise first baseman locked up long term but little to nothing else. You look to the farm and to trades and to the draft to rebuild, hoping to field a competitive team after about a three-year tank.

No, you aren’t the Cincinnati Reds, you’re the Atlanta Braves — a team just ten hours south that has managed to perfect the rebuilding process while our Reds flounder.

Imagine instead of Gennett, Peraza, Duvall, you had Albies, Swanson, Acuna. Or you know, maybe even Nick Senzel. He could work too.

Cincinnati Reds 4 | Atlanta Braves 7 | 90s Kids 5

The Good:

— Though not his sharpest outing, Homer Bailey did look good through 5.0 innings. He missed two spots pretty badly, giving Ronald Acuna his first big league home run and Ozzie Albies his league-leading 18th extra base hit of 2018. But if not for those, it would be a one run game! And he really should’ve gotten out of that inning too, but Freddie Freeman seems to have the Reds number (2 doubles today) and Nick Markakis put a good swing on the ball. All in all, a no decision seems fitting for Homer here.

— Joseph Daniel Votto has found his wallet, his swing, his power, and probably the cure for cancer. He sent his third homer in as many games deep into center field, tying it at 4 in the fifth. Maybe Joey just needed another hot-swinging first baseman to match wits with.

— After setting the stage for a ninth inning Reds collapse two days ago, Amir Garrett pitched to perfection for 1.2 innings today. The long lefty is Good, regardless of how he’s deployed (but maybe the rotation should be considered).

— Jose Peraza had a sneaky good game, beating out a double play throw to keep the inning alive for Votto’s tying homer. He’ll never be a great hitter and shouldn’t be near the top of the lineup, but he’s starting to win over his critics (me, in this case) on his fitness to play short.

— Jesse Winker doubled in a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth, extending his hitting streak to eight games. We’ve got one kid in our corner at least.

— Apparently hell froze over? That seems good?

 

The Bad:

— Reds’ pitching does not know how to get Freddie Freeman out. He was 7 for 17 on the series with two bombs and two doubles.

— I mentioned it at the top, but the difference in today’s game (other than Freeman) was the Braves youngsters. Acuna homered and drove in the go-ahead run. A Swanson two-out single added an insurance run. Albies’ homer put the bad guys up 4-0 in the first place and then he doubled in another insurance run in the ninth.

The Braves absolutely stacked their farm system, and I haven’t even mentioned Sean Newcomb on the bump today or any of the other Top 100 pitching prospects they have waiting in the wings. If the Reds want a blueprint for how to rebuild, looking at the Braves sure would do a load of good.

— Billy Hamilton and Peraza had back to back strikeouts to start the game for the Reds. That’s real bad. Lineups don’t win games, but sometimes the Reds’ lineup sure knows how to lose them.

Not So Random Thoughts:

— Rosell Herrera made his big league debut when he pinch hit in the eighth, and while it ended with a ground out to second, I liked the looks he took at the plate. He fought off a nice 1-2 pitch and worked another ball before the groundout. He’s not Nick Senzel, but he’s not Cliff Pennington either.

— The Phil Ervin and Pennington options to AAA this morning weren’t quite what I expected to see, but I have no complaints. Ervin clearly was a bit out of his depth in the bigs and Pennington really shouldn’t be on this team. While the Herrera call up wasn’t the move the fans wanted, I still would rather have Rosell on the bench than either of those other guys.

— In his first game back, Eugenio Suarez made a couple of nice plays in the field, the first an over the shoulder basket catch in the first and the second a quick dive to his right and rifle across the diamond in the fourth. At the plate, Suarez didn’t have a great day, but the hits will come, I’ll bet my life on it.

— This guy knows a cash cow(hide?) when he sees one:

— A couple of fantastic pieces about Luis Castillo were put out into the world today, one by our fearless leader Chad Dotson. The other is by baseball stats writer savant Eno Sarris over at The Athletic, which you should subscribe to if you haven’t already. (Even just the Reds/MLB content has been worth it for me.)

— Castillo takes the mound tomorrow! In Interleague play! Against the Twins!

 

Join the conversation! 61 Comments

  1. BLARGH!!! Winning tasted so sweet and a series win was definitely on the table until … BLARGH!!!

  2. Glad to see Daryl Chaney, er, I mean Pennington sent down with Ervin. The Reds bench can’t get any worse.

    • Daryl Chaney. I bet you even remember Bill Plummer, Ted Uhlaender, and Chico Ruiz.

  3. Why is Duval playing every day and Winker periodically sitting?

  4. Why does Winker play equal time with Duval and Hamilton? Flip flop those two for each other or whatever makes you happy. Don’t handicap yourself with both of them in a single lineup.

    • Actually Winker plays less than Duvall or Hamilton. He has less PA’s than either. And they wonder why no one comes to the games.

      • Winker missed something like 4 games with an injury, I think. But Duvall and Hamilton are struggling too much to be fixtures in the starting lineup. Winker should be the a regular starter.

  5. Stop putting Hamilton in leadoff Brian Price, I mean Jim Riggleman!!

  6. It was a good game for the most part but man it’s tough to see all the Braves young talent. The Reds young talent just doesn’t stack up to that and the slightly older talent we do have mostly sits on the bench.

    • How to complete a rebuild successfully…

      #1 Recognize when the organizational talent will not be able to compete
      #2 Act!
      #3 Stockpile top talent from trades for established & high-priced players
      #4 Draft top talent
      #5 Wait four years and compete

      How the Reds complete a rebuild unsuccessfully…

      #1 Pretend the organizational talent can compete
      #2 Wait until established players and high-priced players have little value
      #3 Wait until any remaining established players have no value
      #4 Make ill-timed and knee-jerk trades
      #5 Stockpile MLB players irrespective of talent
      #6 Sign over-the-hill or low-talented veterans
      #7 Pretend next year will be the end of the rebuild
      #8 Pretend next year will be the end of the rebuild
      #9 Watch home attendance dwindle to fans of the opposing team
      #10 Watch every other team in MLB perform better

      • and finally, #11 rinse and repeat.

      • Included in “unsuccessfully.” probably #3 and #4 is, “Make trade timing based on non-baseball criteria (ie. an All-Star game).

        • And Chapman shooting up the Garage

          • That certainly cost the Reds a lot but they needed to hang onto him instead of trading him at a low point. Moving him at the deadline that year may have been the better move but that’s serious hindsight. Less hindsight required to make the determination that the Reds absolutely didn’t have to trade him at his absolute low. Waiting likely woudn’t have hurt them. It would have cost them some more money but because of the suspension, it wouldn’t have been too, too much.

      • The Reds have drafted top talent the last 2 seasons with Senzel and Hunter. That is why tanking this year and maybe next is important they need 1 or 2 more years of top picks.

        • Actually, they needed good drafting, good trading and development of prospects to gather enough young talent to compete. Overall, I’d say they haven’t done well enough on trades. Their ability to develop prospects, especially pitching is suspect. And only time will tell yet on how well they drafted.

    • Boy, LWB2, you got that right!
      I was at my first game of the season today and it was worse seeing the difference in person.
      Wonderful weather for a day game though.

  7. -Bob Castellini- (April 23, 2018)

    “I’m not OK with the results. We have to investigate what the hell is going on here.”

    Paging Sherlock Holmes, paging Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

    Breaking News. We have word on who Bob Castellini wants to head up this investigation.

    Paging Miss Cleo, paging Miss Cleo.
    Paging, the Long Island Medium, paging Long Island Medium.

  8. Winker is 5 th in NL in OBP and now has an OPS of .830. He is seeing the ball well. Hamilton has struck out in 34% of his PA’s but it’s still very early. Interesting to see the DH rotations in minnesota

    Not all is lost.
    Suarez is back. Schebler is back.Votto is back. Mahle, Garrett, Winker and Blandino are playing and developing. Homer is healthy.
    Time for Castillo and Romano to step forward. Nick Senzel will start raking in May. Two years ago, Schebler was the player of the month for May in AAA and got promoted. Senzel needs to join Acuno and Albies and Swanson in the big leagues in early June and make this rebuild feel closer.

    • Winker was injured so there is a bit of a pass but Billy has more AB than him and so does Duval (leads all OF at this point). Winker when healthy, is still not receiving more time than Hamilton – the Reds seem less inclined to play Schebler in CF now that he is back. Until they do, the paradigm is flawed.

  9. not even 12000 at the game today. must have been lousy weather.

    • Or a Thursday, noon game in April watching the worst team in MLB. Take your pick.

    • Except, perhaps, for a few promotions, GABP will rarely be more than half filled this season.

  10. Please stop advocating for Peraza. The defensive metrics have him pegged as exactly average. Offensively, his spray chart is evenly distributed, 21% line drives, his BABIP is relatively normal at .297. His walk rate is 2.1%, BELOW his career rate of 3.7%. Point is, HE IS WHO HE IS, there’s no headroom! Even with an uptick in his walk rate AND his slugging, at best it only gets him to a .700 OPS, which is only good for 15th at his position, which when combined with his defense is only replacement level. If that’s the bar then fine, but I would be willing to try any of Blandino/Senzel/Suarez there first. In a lost season, there’s literally nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain….or at least learn to continue sorting. The LAST thing the Reds cannot afford is to invest multiple seasons waiting for it to ‘click’ like they’ve done with Billy Hamilton. I mean, the Cardinals are on their 4th SS in as many years.

    Why aren’t the Reds more aggressive with underperforming regulars????? To answer my own question, the article in the Enquirer about the meddlesome owner might shed some light. *eyeroll*

    • I’m with you entirely regarding ‘advocating’ for Peraza and investing multiple seasons waiting for it to click. There’s a difference between advocating and not providing sufficient opportunity. Quite frankly, I firmly believe that Peraza needs to be in AAA honing his ability to hit effectively. I also believe if he is not optioned to AAA, then he needs ample opportunity as a last chance to prove he can or can not start. I think Peraza MAY be able to maintain a higher BABIP than .295, significantly higher. I also believe he may be a better defensive SS than the metrics demonstrate in a small sample size. He seems to be improving, but that might also be an anomaly. The only way the Reds can be sure is to let him play regularly for a sufficient period of time before making a final decision.

      Despite his speed, I do not think Peraza is a good top-of-the-order hitter, but if he can provide average defense or better at SS and maintain a consistent BABIP of .330, he can play if he’s the only marginal hitter in the lineup. I’m willing to give him another couple of months to prove himself this season. You are correct in that his opportunity can’t be extended indefinitely beyond this season without positive results this season.

      • Yeah – I’m fine with not advocating for him but it’s hard to claim “he is who he is” for any raw, unfinished product (which is clearly what he presently is). He’s young and undisciplined. What he is is developing so benching him isn’t the answer. He’ll either stay undisciplined and be a 10-or-so year, slightly below-average guy or he’ll figure it out and be a solid vet for a decade anda half. Ol’ Cossack’s idea of letting him figure it out in the minors would work if we had another shortstop besides Gosselin or Pennington (AAA himself now, if he sticks around).

        • Trahan is in AAA, and was a top SS prospect when signed. Don’t think he would be an improvement offensively, but might be better defensively than Peraza.

      • Not a Peraza fan on any level. Absolutely hate his plate approach. That said, I’d agree about his BABIP possibly being higher than .300 and him being able to sustain that some years. Not much power at all though and with the low BB-rate, I see him as very sub-par offensively; even at SS… Defensively, I see a guy who’s getting a lot smoother and looks much more comfortable there. He is certainly athletic enough and has just enough arm for the position. He is by all accounts a hard worker and I think he can be above-average defensively. Probably not a GG player there but good… Still, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for his hitting. Cozart reinvented himself and could be an example but the difference is Cozart showed some pop in MiLB.

  11. The players on the 25-man roster waiting for the lineup to post:

    .258/.378/.548/.927 Eugenio Suarez
    .303/.343/.545/.888 Scott Schebler
    .323/.449/.387/.836 Jesse Winker
    .246/.342/.406/.748 Tucker Barnhart
    .283/.330/.404/.734 Scooter Gennett
    .256/.358/.367/.725 Joey Votto
    .261/.289/.326/.615 Jose Peraza
    .263/.317/.263/.580 Alex Blandino

    A valid argument could be made for any of those 8 players to regularly start this season.

    .159/.247/.329/.577 Adam Duvall
    .200/.250/.300/.550 Devin Mesoraco
    .125/.250/.250/.500 Phil Gosselin
    .171/.276/.224/.500 Billy Hamilton

    A valid argument could be made for any of those 4 players to rarely start any season.

    .000/.000/.000/.000 Rosell Herrera

    Just 1 PA is no sample size at all, but a possible prospect for the future should at least receive regular playing time.

    • Nice comment, the eight guys listed above are the best they have, for the time being. I think Hamilton and Duvall are lost cases, Mesoraco will depart after this season and Gosselin is gone once Sensel is promoted.

  12. Peraza’s main problem as a hitter is that he swings at almost everything. He could fix it tomorrow if he wanted to, simply by not swinging until he has two strikes. He’s making a conscious choice not to imorove, and the team doesn’t seem to care. It drives me nuts.

    • Can’t just not swing until you get two strikes. MLB pitchers for the most part are going to just put it in the zone on you after they figure out you aren’t swinging. That won’t take long with scouting the way it is. He definitely needs to be more selective but even the old MiLB rule the org had about taking a strike didn’t work, and that was the minors. I think a big part of his issue is pitch recognition. I really don’t think he sees the ball well.

  13. Nice recap, Wes. And thanks for the link to my Luis Castillo piece. I found some really interesting things about Castillo when I started to dig a little deeper into the results.

    http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/reds/luis-castillos-sophomore-slump/

    • Good read, Chad. It’s particularly encouraging he’s learning on his two best pitches more (and amazing that a 97- plus fastball isn’t one, wow). Trent Rosecrans at the Athletic polled the 8 or so catchers in spring training and the top two pitches on the whole staff were voted as that change and 2-seamer. I think he’s going to be fine and he looked good recently until the wheels fell off late.

  14. The Red’s front office should look at the Braves and take notes on how to build a team. But, then again they told us in 2006 they know how to do it.

    • I was at the game.
      Both teams are rebuilding but in today’s game the Braves looked like an established team because the Reds made it look so.
      Big difference in talent and performance if you exclude Votto-man.

  15. Before we continue heaping praise on Braves rebuild… let’s not forget the GM was fired for cheating. Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies were low dollar international signings, so Braves ending up with elite talent here was either good luck or cheating. Swanson and Inciarte trade was highway robbery that required gross incompetence from Arizona. I looked at their list of recent first round draft picks, and don’t recognize any names since Jason Heyward in 2007. The Braves are absolutely in better shape than Reds right now, but it seems more like combination of good luck and breaking rules than front office excellence to me.

    • Don’t forget Newhouse, Soroka, Wright, Allard, Fried, Anderson…all stud young pitchers. Braves lost the international players that were illegally signed and they still have a deep cadre of good, young baseball players that were either drafted or acquired in trade. The Red’s front office still needs to study and learn how it’s done. Only until the insular decision making and nepotism stops will winning baseball come back to Cincinnati.

    • Andy you forgot 2 other things that could have helped, good scouting & coaching

  16. Did we split this series or LOSE every game? Judging by the comments, I’m not sure.

    Let’s “cowboy up” people! We split a series against another good young club. Two games were decided by a run and today’s game was tied in the 8th until a bloop double found a hole in shallow RF.

    To be frank, the slow start sets the tone for player development. In 2017 the Reds were fooled into thinking they could compete and they pushed player development to the back-burner. That was a mistake. Some may have thought the rebuild was over and it was time to take on the big boys – but it’s not gonna happen without pitching (bottom 5 in MLB the past 3 years – despite the fact that our coach was a pitching guru).

    The Reds simply don’t have the pitching to compete. They have a nice lineup when healthy (losing Cozie to the California Angels was a predictable blow).

    We certainly know that 2018 is all about developing young players – so let’s get behind ’em. We have a top 10-15 farm that must have some talent. It will start to compete at the ML level and we’ll certainly get a solid pick again in 2018. Let’s hope the Reds start embracing the young talent are emphasizing pitching up/down the farm system.

    BTW – Arizona is really a team to study – near the bottom of MLB in pitching in 2016, now near the top. They are a solid contending team playing in what has become a rugged NL West (built around an MVP-caliber 1st baseman).

    • I wish I was as confident as you are. Perhaps the Reds have difference makers down the road in Single A, but I don’t see anyone beyond Senzel helping out anytime soon. Those 2 kids from the Braves are just oozing talent. Their Votto is also 28 and not going on 35. The Yankees have a ton of young talent. Yoan Moncada for the White Sox hit a 112 mph HR tonite as well. Milwaukee has a bullpen of nothing but young kids throwing missiles! DeJong for the Cards is only 24. They have this kid Jordan Hicks throwing 101 and another highly touted pitcher named Jack Flaherty.

      For the Reds…WInker is going to be a real hitter! Probably a 12 HR type guy presently, but the chance to be really good. Senzel will probably be good, but I just don’t see any depth with the young hitting? The Reds “rebuild” will really ride on the young pitching. Castillo’s dip in velocity bothers me, but they brought up a good point that he came up in summer last year so maybe he’ll pick up steam as it warms up. I like Mahle and Romano but they really need to polish up their offspeed stuff. Garrett deserves a chance to start. I still think Lorenzen has a chance since he’s got such a live arm and athleticism!

      Bottom line…Chicago and St. Louis buy whatever they lack and Milwaukee has steady attendance with the dome. They don’t hesitate to spend it either. Meanwhile the Reds do nothing. If Dick Williams makes more of an effort to fix the pen in the offseason then they win last night. Hughes/Peralta are the best middlemen they have and they’re not elite by any means. If Castillo gets it back and Garrett gets in the rotation then we’ll know more. Disco might have several good years in front of him too if he can ever stay healthy?

      • It’s not always about spending. The Reds signed D. Hernandez, they signed J. Hughes, they signed K. Quackenbush, & they signed Gallardo. Last year they gave away T. Cingrani. Tony has 4 holds for the Dodgers this year, the Reds entire bullpen has 4 holds this year. Williams would not get away with making that move if he was the GM in Chicago or St. Louis, but in Cincy- it’s no problem Dick.

        • Teams give up on players all the time and the Reds gave up on Cingrani. It was a mistake but it happens. Credit the Dodgers for fixing him. They got a good deal. They fleeced us.

          The Indians gave up on a young 2B/SS named Brandon Phillips some time ago. Cingrani is not Brandon Phillips. My point is that sometimes when teams give up on guys, it bites them in the butt.

      • Good replies & examples.

        My belief is that the Reds will start to spend as they get beyond some heavy contracts in the next year. And although I haven’t studied the FA market, I think I read on RLN that 2018-2019 was going to be a larger pool of FA players (again, I have not confirmed this).

        Can/will the Reds dabble in the FA market after a 2018 year of developing? They are going to have a season full of answers – Reed, Romano, Stephenson, Castillo, Peraza, Mahle, Garrett, Blandino, Senzel, etc. plus hopefully some answers regarding the health of the more established pitchers – Disco, Finnegan & Lorenzen. This should indicate what holes need to be filled from the outside.

        I’m not excusing the debacle of 2017 (where precious time was lost), but the poor start has shown everyone “this is still a rebuild”.

        I would still hope that 2019 can be the start of WC contention… but it depends on how the young pitching develops.

  17. Acuna and Albies are the two youngest players in baseball right now. Elite talents. The lack of development of international players is a huge issue for the Reds. They never invested enough there. They chose to drop large dollar amounts on high priced Cubans instead of more scouting and development. It worked for Chapman and Iglesias but had been a failure elsewhere. The Alfredo Rodriguez signing was dumb the day they made it.

    • What happened with that guy? Never heard of him again.

      • Alfredo Rodriguez is apparently the real McCoy as a defender, but can’t hit. He had started at AA Pensacola, but broke a hamate bone, I think, and is out for a while. They moved a 23-year-old Dominican, Luis Gonzalez, to AA to play SS while AlfRod is injured; Gonzalez had been hitting well in Daytona.

      • Per MLB.com “Rodriguez both lived up to his defensive reputation and down to concerns about his potential with the bat.”

        2017: .253/.294/.294/.588 in A+
        2018: .192/.276/.192/.468 in AA

        The Reds party line has been that he will grow into his power. Rodriguez is 23 and had a .041 ISO last season in 516 PA. He is currently on the 7-day DL for the Blue Wahoos.

        • Rodriguez’s power makes Hamilton and Peraza look like the Bash Brothers.

    • I’ve been saying this for years. The last good Latin hitter the Reds developed was Tony Perez in the mid-60s. It is long-term organizational malpractice, and then they wasted a ton of money recently on no-hit Cuban shortstops.

      They do have Jose Siri and Andy Sugilio in A ball (both are injured but due back soon), but it is too soon to know whether they will pan out.

      • The Braves, meanwhile, have a 20-year-old budding superstar, and a 21-year-old potential All Star, both from Latin America. They’ve produced more in the last year than Cincinnati has in the last 50.

        It is the biggest flaw in the organization. Nothing else is close.

      • Can we count Didi? He’s become a really good hitter and was developed by the Reds system primarily.

  18. Editors: Can it be a rule that all recaps must lead with “Titanic Struggle Recap”… it really throws me off when it’s missing. That is all. 😉 Co-sign below, people.

  19. Oops, There it is!

    David Hernandez activated from he 10-day DL and Phil Gosselin optioned to AAA.

  20. Tonight’s starting lineup…Winker DH

    1. Jesse Winker (L) DH
    2. Jose Peraza (R) SS
    3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
    4. Scooter Gennett (L) 2B
    5. Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
    6. Scott Schebler (L) RF
    7. Adam Duvall (R) LF
    8. Tucker Barnhart (S) C
    9. Billy Hamilton (S) CF

    • Don’t hate this lineup. Not thrilled with Peraza 2nd. I’d go:

      Winker DH
      Barnhart C
      Votto 1B
      Schebler RF
      Suarez 3B
      Gennett 2B
      Duvall LF
      Peraza SS
      Hamilton CF

      • Same thought the moment I saw it.

        Peraza is only there b/c of old school thinking (speed, speedy position – SS). Barnhart can bat right and after last year, he was a consistent track record of getting on base and providing quality AB. He already has .7 WAR contributed this season. Peraza: 0.0

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2018 Reds, Titanic Struggle Recap

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