Things have been more enjoyable for Reds fans over the last week, and for once I wasn’t dreading writing this column. Now that things have hit a less panicky level, it seemed a good time to finally re-run the right track/wrong direction poll.

Better results than I would have expected, but also consistent with the poll results I’ve seen all season. The more positive option always does better than you’d expect based on comments. This probably shouldn’t be surprising. After all, we all know about the complaint department, but how often do you hear about the compliment department?

I think, for the most part, people are happier with the recent roster decisions. It’s also been nice to see the young pitching develop a bit (hey there, Tyler Mahle).

However, there is still one bugaboo. You know what it is and so do I. Let’s look at the poll:

Most of us are ready for Nick Senzel. The others – judging from the comments on the poll – want to hedge because of super-2 status. Personally, I can’t manage to believe that any major league owner has to worry about payroll to that extent. I can imagine that it’s a good business decision in terms of profit, but I don’t think it’s a good baseball decision, and that’s what I care about. I want to see the best team the Reds can field, and right now that includes Nick Senzel.

What I still do not understand is the continued fixation of many on Scooter Gennett when a player like Alex Blandino is also available. Consider that Gennett has, over the course of his career, been almost exactly a league average hitter while also being as poor a second baseman as you can find in the majors. The lone exception was the first half of last season (he was incredibly average in the second half) when he hit at near-Votto level for a few months. That is an aberration, not a trend. And it’s the kind of thing that happens in baseball all the time. The Reds have control of Gennett until the end of next season at which point it will make every bit of sense to send him on his merry way. No team is likely to give up much in the way of prospects for Gennett. And, indeed, one suspects that if such an avenue were available to the Reds, they’d have taken it in the off-season. Gennett is a solid, but unspectacular major leaguer who’s time is best spent on the bench.

Blandino is also likely to be a solid by unspectacular major league player. However, he is three years younger than Gennett and has hit at least as well (I’d say better, but we can quibble) in the minors as Gennett did. Further, Blandino’s plate discipline is much better as observed by a minor league walk rate well north of 10 percent. The available research shows that walk rate in the minors is one of the best indicators that a player will be able to translate his offensive success to the major leagues (I refer you to the case of Votto v. Bruce if you’d like an example concrete to many Reds fans). He is also a much better and more versatile fielder than Gennett. AND Blandino is under team control for at least five more years after this one.

Given that, I don’t see why Gennett should be any higher than third on the depth chart at second. And Blandino should certainly be the one getting playing time until Senzel comes up.

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! 38 Comments

  1. The right track?! If this isn’t a “wrong track” – I’d hate to see what that looks like.

    • When the first comment proves a point you make at the very beginning of the article.

      • Forgive me for “proving a point” – but, when things are improving – if we were to chart it on a graph – doesn’t the line have an upward trajectory? You know – unlike the reality of what’s going on now – going from being ONE of the worst teams in baseball for 4 years to THE worst team in baseball?

        • He’s got a point

        • Yes it does and this has been a rough start to the year, but I’m looking organizational as well as on the major league team. I’m happy with the core and the way it’s developing, which I think is how a lot of people feel. If ownership doesn’t spend to plug holes this year, I’ll be the first to call them out.

          • “If ownership doesn’t spend to plug holes this year, I’ll be the first to call them out.”
            Fiction.
            You are already fashionably late to that party.

            The Reds ownership/front office are more concerned with improving the millennials’ game experiences than they are with improving the roster. All at the expense of running off long, long time Reds fans. Actions speak louder than words. We are in year #4 of all talk and little action. We need chest waders to protect us from all this talk. The talk is getting very deep. Sure, the Reds have a nice beer garden at the stadium, but there are very few to go to it. Vendors have laid off 40% of their staffs.
            Bringing winning baseball back to Cincinnati Bob Castellini style. That is a 7-23 record staring you in the face Big Bob when you look into the mirror.

          • Ownership has been given too much time.

          • They might not spend to plug holes this year, but we’ll have to wait and see. Many of our suggestions, for months, about which established players to acquire might have made sense for a team nearly ready to contend, but might, under the circumstances, have led to less playing time for some of the young guys (a consistent no-no among RLNers) and would, almost certainly, have been bandaids acquired at the expense of people like Senzel and Trammell.

  2. I’m a believer in Blandino, mainly because of the reasons you stated. He looks like he would be a positive war at 2b and can play multiple positions well. There isn’t a place for him other than utility once Senzel comes up, he needs to be playing everyday now.

    Don’t look now but Jose Peraza could be becoming a decent fielding SS, defensive numbers are trending toward a positive on defense at SS. He would be about 2 war in a full season if he plays the same as he has through 30 games. See Fangraphs.

    https://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=13593&position=2B/SS

    Nick Senzel continues to prove our overwhelming hype of him correct. Keep it up Nick!

  3. Scooter had an incredible 2017. I was of the belief that he should play all of the time at 2b to build his trade value. If he’s slashing .285/.350/.500 then he nets a strong AAA relief pitcher at the deadline.
    I’d still give him till early June to see if he he can hit the lottery in a homestand and hit 5 home runs in 10 days. Blandino.is getting experience.

    I would bring Senzel up. Let him win AAA player of the month in May. Once he is here….he needs to play every day for the next decade.

  4. Sometimes hitters just hit better with certain teams. Gennett is obviously a better hitter with the Reds than he has been with other teams.

    • Except for the first half of last year, he’s been exactly the same hitter he was with other teams. Some times a player just has a really good half of a season.

      • Yup… when Scooter first came up with the Brewers, people were ga-ga (.324/.356/479/.834 in 230 PA’s). He supplanted Rickie Weeks, who was on a steep decline.Then Scooter leveled out, and there was a reason the Brewers were ok letting him go when they did. He didn’t really sniff an OPS north of .800 again until the power surge last season. I think he’s valuable enough as a back-up, but not an everyday player, because: defense.

  5. “can imagine that it’s a good business decision in terms of profit, but I don’t think it’s a good baseball decision”

    Well, if the Reds were to use the money saved on payroll, you could kinda argue it’s also a good baseball decision.

    • Unless they open their books, I will believe they can spend as much as they want. At this point – given exploding league revenue and team valuations – we have every reason to believe owners are making money hand over fist.

      • Exactly. When an owner cries poor I don’t believe them until I see the audited financial statements. When a team goes up for sale there are people falling over each other to buy the club. ALL baseball teams make money.

  6. Question about direction of Reds has 757 respondents. From what I’ve seen most surveys need at least 1,000 respondents to enhance validity. Put me down as “moving in the wrong direction.” I didn’t vote. Now there’s 758. Not until the organization is either winning titles or the Castellini’s and Williams family’s and Walt Jocketty are gone will I believe the organization is headed in the right direction. In 55 years, I’ve never seen a more meddling President and inept front office. No more insular decision making and nepotism. Baseball decisions should be made by baseball people, not Produce vendors.

  7. I think these two seemingly contradictory statements are not necessarily mutually exclusive: The Reds rebuild failed miserably, and they have a chance to contend in 2020-2021.

    A successful rebuild harnesses the assets a losing team has and turns 3-4 assets into 8-10 assets that can help the team 3-4 years down the line. In that sense, the Reds failed and they failed miserably. Because of their insistence on “MLB-ready talent” the Reds have a grand total of 2 prospects in AA or higher (Senzel/Shed Long; oh and they play the same position). They have several promising prospects in A and A+ (Taylor Trammell, TJ Freidl, Tyler Stephenson, Jeter Downs, Hunter Greene, Stuart Fairchild, Michael Beltre). Those guys are all at least two years away or more from helping the big league team. That’s what your minor league system is supposed to look like at the beginning of a rebuild, not in the year you “expect to turn a corner.”

    The rebuild failed; the Reds need to focus on 2020-2021 now.

    • I don’t know how anyone can make sure definite proclamations at this point. The Cubs and Astros, for example, both endured longer and more extreme runs of losing when under going the rebuild than the current Reds team. Further, since the managerial change, they’ve outscored their opponents. Also, it is May 2. I still need a lot more information.

      • In 2014, the Cubs had Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Jorge Soler in AAA. Addison Russell and Albert Almora were in AA. The big league team had Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. The front office had the money to go bring in Jon Lester and Dexter Fowler.

        When comparing the 2014 Cubs to the 2018 Reds, it seems obvious, disregarding records, the Cubs had more young talent entering their prime and more money to spend.

        • I don’t think that’s true. I think one of the major differences is that the Reds focused on pitching more than positional players. The Reds have a ton of young arms in the minor leagues and major league ball club. It’s just the Reds pitchers have not developed well and have not met the expectations of fans/ownership largely to this point. Maybe that will change maybe it will not. Should the Reds have focused more on positional players than pitchers? Probably, but hindsight is 20/20

          • In the last 4 years here is a list of Reds pitching prospects that were considered top 100 prospects

            Hunter Greene
            Tyler Mahle
            Amir Garrett
            Bob Steve
            Michael Lorenzen
            Keury Mella
            Brandon Finnegan

            I looked at a few different lists but those were the names I found. On top of that add Luis Castillo, Anthony Desclafani, Homey Bailey, Sal Ramono to the list of Reds pitchers that they traded for, were already on the team, or brought up and expected them to contribute to the team in some way.

      • Hi Jason, I watch what the Reds ownership and front office does or does not do. I don’t care what goes on in Chicago or Houston. This is the 13th season that Bob Castellini has been principal owner (2nd longest). The Red’s have a .478 winning % during his tenure, 3rd worst in 55 years. Dick Williams rosters have a .404 winning % during his tenure.

      • Stros and Cubs pulled out of their nose dive when they put a talented front office in place. They are not afraid to make aggressive, adroit and timely trades; and most likely don’t have to be concerned with the principal owner interfering.

      • Most of that scoring came in one game when they crushed the twins, correct? This team is going no where. The pitching is not there.

      • And the Braves? The Cossack nailed it a few days ago. I paraphrase what he said: successful teams acknowledge they have to tear it down and do so. Then there are the Reds, that equivocate, pretend to themselves and to the fans that they can contend, thereby delaying the tear down and devaluing what they can get for their veteran assets in trades. This is the direct result of Castellini’s meddling and insular decision making.

  8. I think its worth starting Scooter into June and trying to trade him. The longer he can continue to show last year wasn’t a fluke the more valuable he’ll be. I’d be more worried about trading Scooter at his highest point than I would be bringing Senzel up. He’ll be up soon enough. Blandino is versatile enough to play several positions.

  9. The Reds current GM is related to the Williams Brothers who were principal owners in the 1980’s. My feeling is the front office is a little too in-bred and that not much is going to change until there is a new principal owner and of course that has to be a Cincinnatian. A new approach and spirit to win is needed at the top of the organization.

    • The spirit to win is there. Bob Castellini is an intelligent and successful person. However, he is in over his head as a President of a major league baseball franchise. The president should be a true “baseball,” not someone who is a Produce vendor.

  10. Please the one bugaboo is in Centerfield. This team is going nowhere with Billy in the starting lineup.

  11. “We will build one of the most respected organizations in baseball. As partners in other successful baseball organizations we know how it’s done. We will build a winning management team by putting the right people in the right positions with the right resources to win.” We’re in the 13th season since this proclamation was made, when will Cincinnati Reds fans wake up and stop falling for ownership’s B.S.?

  12. If this rebuild continues into 2020, this team will be outdrawn by Dayton. The bottom line is if you are going to stink, at least do it with some of your future, I.e. Senzel, Blandino. Shop Duval for sure and most likely Hamilton for a young arm that can help in a year or so or even a six pack of Bud Light at this point. Give Scooter a shot at centerfield, Winker in left, Schebler in right, Hererra 4th outfielder with Senzel at 2B.

    Also inform Joey that when the game is on the line with runners in scoring position that big time players try to make things happen instead of walking so guys behind you can drive you in. Taking a 3rd called strike with one out and the fastest man in the game at third just needs to basically make contact. Personal stats don’t mean squat to winners. You may be one of the best hitters in team history, but guys like Perez, Rose, Bench, Larkin, etc. wouldn’t trade any of their titles for personal gain.

  13. I could see a future bench of Peraza, Gennet, Winker, Hamilton and Mesoroco.

    I think we are still a couple years away. I always felt the Target year of 2019 was slightly immature for a true resurgence. Let’s face it our outfield really stinks now and our prospects are still a couple of years away.

    I think the major weakness of the organization is shortstop. I like Peraza but I don’t think he is an everyday player let alone ss. I still think we need to see what Hunter can do at short. That could solve a lot of problems!!

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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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