This week’s respondents are Chris Garber, Jason Linden, Jackson Thurnquist, Jordan Barhorst, and Bill Lack.
Our Weekly Reds Obsession: How would you resolve the Nick Senzel question (and, relatedly, the Scooter Gennett question)?
By the way, I sent this question out to our writers on Friday. You know what was announced on Saturday.
Chris Garber: This is a terrible question and Nothing Matters.
The Reds’ treatment of the Nick Senzel question has been simply inexplicable. Their #1 prospect is blocked — by a very, very good major leaguer — and they’re showing no indication of making any efforts to resolve the situation. Now, their apparent indecision has been bailed out by a stupid, no-good injury. But in any event, my resolution starts with a simple premise: Nick Senzel WILL be in the Opening Day lineup for the 2019 (Cincinnati) Reds. Work backward from there, of course.
But this is where the Reds’ dithering puts us even more in the dark than normal: We still don’t know if Senzel can play shortstop (or outfield) credibly. We don’t know if Geno Suarez could credibly return to shortstop, thus opening third base for Senzel. And we don’t know if Scooter can play the outfield, or whether he’s interested in a team-friendly contract extension. Maybe the Reds have informed opinions on some of these things; maybe they know Gennett’s trade value. But they haven’t given me any ability to answer them, so I refuse to answer on the grounds that any answer I give is likely to be contradicted by the facts.
Jason Linden: (Before the Senzel injury news.) If Scooter Gennett is the starting second baseman at the end of July and Nick Senzel is healthy, the Reds will have made one or more enormous mistakes. One of the things I keep driving at is that – whether the Reds keep Gennett or not – he is an abysmal defender at a position where defense matters. Nick Senzel is MUCH better defensively. Gennett belongs lower on the defensive spectrum.
Also, regardless of how you think he’ll age as a hitter, Scooter is not going to magically get better at second. I still lean toward thinking he should be traded, but he definitely shouldn’t be kept at second. And no, we don’t want a Senzel-Gennett middle infield. From what I’ve seen, I think Senzel is probably a good 2B and an adequate SS. Pairing an adequate SS with a bad 2B is a recipe for disaster when the pitching staff is as shaky as the Reds staff right now. Move Scooter or trade him, but don’t keep playing him at second when there’s a better option.
(After the Senzel injury news.) Addendum: Baseball is poop and everything is terrible. No, really, what I said still stands, except now it’s all about Senzel starting for the team next year.
Jackson Thurnquist: Well, the answer I had written before we learned Senzel was done for the year was that the Reds need to call up Nick Senzel immediately and focus on giving him as many major-league at-bats as possible, regardless of where he plays in the field. Defense is important, sure, but Senzel has nothing left to do in the minors, and the sooner he becomes acclimated to the majors, the sooner he can become a perennial All-Star.
The injury, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t particularly change much except timing. With Senzel out for the rest of the season, there’s absolutely no reason why he doesn’t join the team next April. Scooter Gennett needs to be traded regardless of Senzel: Gennett is a valuable player right now who will likely not perform well enough in the future to justify his next contract, which makes him a clear trade piece. Nick Senzel being injured simply allows the Reds to trade him at the deadline or over the offseason, if they like. There are other major league caliber options at second – Alex Blandino or Dilson Herrera could play the rest of the season if they trade Gennett at the deadline.
Jordan Barhorst: Although I doubt this will be the case, the Nick Senzel injury shouldn’t change anything for the Reds. As we all know, there’s a clear logjam at second base in the organization. The plan should still be to shop Scooter Gennett as hard as possible, and then let a young guy (Dilson Herrera now that Senzel is out for the season) take the reins.
Dilson Herrera seems to finally be healthy. Let’s not forget that the plan was to have Herrera on the 25 man roster heading into the season, but yet another injury derailed that plan. Calling up Dilson will not only get him another shot at the big leagues, but will also allow Shed Long to assume 2B duties at AAA, which would be great for his development as well.
Bill Lack: (Before the Senzel injury news.) In my opinion, the options are:
1) Peraza to CF, Senzel to SS
2) Suarez to SS, Senzel to 3B
3) Gennett to OF, Senzel to 2B
Really depends on what the team decides to do with Gennett. Personally, I’d try to sign him to a reasonable deal before the deadline; if that isn’t possible, I’d trade him, then bring Senzel up and he’s my second baseman. If you get him signed to, say, a four-year deal, I put him in the outfield and play Senzel at second.
The sad thing is that this team had half a season to come up with a plan to figure out what possible positions Senzel could play and they’ve wasted it with the positions they already knew he could play. Why play him at shortstop the other night for one game? What’s the point? Why not have him at shortstop all season? Why not try him in the outfield, see how he does?
This is the kind of stuff I think people are talking about when they say this team has no plan.
(After the Senzel injury news.) With the terrible news of Senzel’s season ending injury, it makes this question irrelevant for 2018. IMO, this makes it a wasted year in Senzel’s career. I don’t think the Reds learned anything they needed to know about Senzel’s capabilities for the future.
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at email@example.com.