So, it’s been a rough year. Nothing like the year I thought we’d see. At least, not so far. Though, fortunately, the Reds finally have an actual winning streak going right now. But the issues present with this team are being made painfully clear. Finnegan has been sent down to make room for Matt Harvey of all people and Homer, it seems, may not actually be able to pitch effectively over long stretches. The Reds are going to enter the offseason with very clear needs.
Not only is there no reason we shouldn’t expect those needs to be addressed, it is completely fair to expect the Reds to spend A LOT of money to address them.
Reds fans have gotten used to being a small market team, but I think that’s a mindset we need to shake. I have a piece on The Hardball Times today where I argue (among other things) that the owners are no longer 30 people with competing interests. Rather, they are 30 shareholders seeking to maximize league profits. Something they are doing very well.
I do not care about MLB profits. As long as it doesn’t go broke, I will never care how much money MLB makes. I do not care how much its fabulously wealthy owners make. I do care about watching quality baseball and having an ownership group that is trying to win instead of pretending to be poor.
Since the advent of the luxury tax, player share of revenue has decreased from 55% to about 40%. That means the average team, right now, would have to increase it’s current payroll by 37.5% just to reach pre-luxury tax levels. And we haven’t even talked about the new TV deal or the ways teams pretend various revenue streams aren’t revenue generated by baseball.
The Reds are privately controlled and cannot be compelled to open their books. However, the circumstantial evidence that they (and every other team) are making enormous profits is overwhelming. Given then, I see no reason any fan should believe a team when they claim to not be able to afford a certain player. I have spent a lot of goodwill on this team as have most of you. It’s now up to the Reds to decide whether or not to pay it back.
I am quite happy with Romano, Castillo, and Mahle as the core of the rotation, but beyond that there’s no one who feels certainly ready or able to pitch in the big leagues right now. The old saying is that you can’t have too much pitching, and I agree. There should be some real depth to the system and the Reds should pay for it. The Reds have a payroll of $101M. I’d like to see that go up to around $150M. We’ve been told there’s money to spend and there’s a new TV deal. So let’s see the money.
Some of you might argue that free agents – especially pitchers – are bad investments. Here’s my argument: I don’t care. Other pitchers will move up through the system and provide additional depth, but almost no team is able to build a staff with only home-grown talent. Of course, I’m also fine with the Reds acquiring players via trade. They have a lot of mid-level depth, and that’s good for making trades. A pitcher will absolutely get hurt or fail to perform. That’s a given. If it’s someone making a lot of money, it’ll be a little extra frustrating, but what the Reds need is to get beyond the point where they say, “If Bailey, Finnegan, and Disco are all ready to go, we feel good about our rotation.” Instead, it needs to be, “We feel good about our rotation, and even if someone gets hurt, we know we have players who are ready to step in when called upon.” There’s a big difference between those two statements. It’s time for the Reds to show us they understand the difference.
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.