As I think is well-known, I was not a believer when it came to Scooter Gennett at the beginning of the season. I was wrong about that. There’s enough sample now that I buy it. He can hit. Really hit. So, as I proceed with this, know that I am not impugning his offensive skills. He’s clear, at this moment, one of the top-50 hitters in baseball.

First, let’s take a look at the polls I ran this week:

I understand the desire to have Scooter on the team next year. I probably still fall in the “trade him” camp, but I wouldn’t complain if he was starting in the outfield on Opening Day next year. However, it makes no sense to do anything other than start Nick Senzel at second base next year.

Defensive statistics are problematic and deeply flawed (remember it is general accepted that you need THREE SEASON of defensive statistics to properly judge a player’s abilities, so half a season is equivalent to roughly 100 PAs). I wish the various stat keepers would revise them. I’m sure that will happen eventually. But some things are clear, at least. For instance, left field, right field, and first base are the least important positions defensively. Second base and third base are pretty important, and shortstop is the most important. Being realistic, there are five real candidates for playing time at those three positions next year. And in terms of their defensive ability, the various candidates probably rate like this (I’ve seen Blandino and Senzel a fair bit at Louisville).

  1. Jose Peraza – Good/Very Good at short. Excellent elsewhere.
  2. Eugenio Suarez – Excellent at third. Adequate at short.
  3. Nick Senzel – Very Good/Excellent at third and second. Probably adequate at short.
  4. Alex Blandino – Good at second and third. Adequate at short.
  5. Scooter Gennett – Terrible in the infield.

Of course defense is only part of it. There’s also offense. And on that level, the players probably rank like this:

  1. Eugenio Suarez
  2. (tie) Scooter Gennett and Nick Senzel
  3. Alex Blandino
  4. Jose Peraza

I know people are going to want to argue about Senzel. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overrating him, so I went and looked at scouting reports. He is rated as one of the five best hitters in the minors and projects to be – more or less immediately one of the best hitters in the majors. You know those phenoms it feels like only other teams ever have? That’s Nick Senzel He has a plus-plus hit tool with an elite plate approach and above average power. Think Jesse Winker with substantially more power.

The Reds control Nick Senzel for (at least) six years and – because of his defense – he’s probably better than Scooter Gennett overall right now (or, he will be once his finger is fixed). So I don’t know what the handful who thought he should be traded were thinking.

The problem is that – defensively – a Senzel-Gennett middle infield is probably bad news. I understand people thinking the solution is to get Peraza’s bat out of the lineup, but I don’t agree. Defense matters not just because it prevents runs, but it also eases the stress load on pitchers – and the Reds have a lot of young pitchers.

However, I do think you could get by with something like a Senzel-Blandino infield or (if you want to be really creative Senzel – Herrera), but I don’t think you can get by with Senzel-Gennett.

This means the best solution for maximizing value is to make sure Senzel is starting in the outfield and Gennett is either traded for a piece that immediately fills an area of need for the Reds OR he is shifted to the outfield where his lack of defensive value is less problematic and where the Reds are much shallower as an organization.

After that, I think you can arrange the infield however you want. If you want the best possible defense, you probably go Suarez-Peraza-Senzel with any other combination giving you something sold, but unspectacular.

This is all just my opinion, of course, but the only approach I don’t understand is the one where Gennett is a second baseman. Nick Senzel’s don’t come along very often. And yes, I know I’ve beat this horse before but betting on players to keep producing at current levels as they enter the decline phase is usually a bad bet. Bet on the highly-regarded prospect with excellent plate discipline and you’re going to win a lot more often than not.

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! 63 Comments

  1. I have a hard time believing more of these players in today’s game can’t play SS. I completely understand the value of defense and the need to be competent to excellent to field a winning team, especially with young pitchers. With that being said, I still believe it is more about getting the best bats in the lineup someway somehow.

    With the increased information and understanding of hitter tendencies and defensive shifts, defensive range has become far less important than even 2 years ago. Players are now expected to cover less ground than ever before. I understand some circumstances require the infielders to play with a more traditional positioning, but that’s much less common. I’m not going over the top here and saying throw someone out at SS who can’t truly field the position well, but I see no reason someone who is an elite infielder, such as Senzel or Suarez (won’t happen, I know), can’t field the SS position.

    • I think it actually comes down to Winker vs Scooter. An OF defense of Winker, Scooter and Schebler would be pretty brutal. Do you keep more expensive, proven Scooter and put Winker in trade package for a pitcher or CF or do you keep cheaper, more upside Winker and trade Scooter. I think if you keep Scooter a trade package of Winker, Herrera or Long and maybe Stephenson gets us the ace we need. Not sure what Scooter’s trade value is to other teams.

      • Aside from and despite what they do with Scooter, both Winker and Schebler could well turn out to be bridge pieces to get them to 2021.

        Winker in particular does not appear to be the all around player the OF players coming through A+ and AA right now are. These guys look like they will push Winker on OBP/OPS and clearly surpass him on defense and base running. If the Reds really believe in 2 or 3 of the these comers. selling early and high on Winker might be a good move.

        • Or, Winker replaces Votto at 1B down the road.

          • That’s a possibility too if the situation takes long enough to develop or the NL puts in the DH..

            I’ve said previously that I see Winker as a Votto or Alonso Yonder type who somebody decided was passable as an OF.

          • If Winker is a back up LF / RF / 1B, that would be a lot of playing time going forward the next few years. The other option is that he trains his tail off and builds the physical capacity to play a more athletic OF. With the physical training available today, he not trapped at his current capacity.

    • With Suarez, at least, we have some information. He came up as a SS and was, by all accounts, below average there. The Reds, at least, don’t seem to be seriously interested in Senzel at SS.

      As for shifts, I haven’t seen evidence that they reduce the importance of range, but it’s an interesting thought. What does reduce the importance of defense, however, are all the strikeouts.

      If you want the best bats in the lineup period, Scooter still plays the OF. Because then you can play Gennett-Schebler-Winker in the OF and Senzel-Herrera at short and second.

  2. Scooter is a tough one. If we put him in LF and leave him there, he probably won’t be the worst fielding LF in MLB, but simultaneously his .900 OPS goes from elite at 2B down to very good in the corner OF world. However, it makes Duvall his perfect platoon partner, and otherwise a very good bench bat. It further supports trading BHam, or, if Castellini persists, keeping BHam and instead trade Schebler and/or Winker.

    Your logic is sound and valid all around! Also, don’t look now but India has SS in his blood, look out Peraza!

    • And India was very open and direct that he sees himself as shortstop material and wants to be there.

  3. And then there is Shed Long who appears to be a year (at most) behind Senzel and now Jonathan India who if he follows the same development path as Senzel could be knocking on the door by the 2021 if not sooner.

    Then when we talk in terms of moving guys to the OF, consider not only if they are good enough to displace the likes of Winker and Schebler but that Friedl, Siri, Trammelll and a couple of other guys may also be knocking on the door by ’20-’21.

    Some guys will wash out; but others will be traded. The Reds have very big decisions looming in the next 12-24 months. Let’s hope they get them right.

  4. I really don’t know where the idea that Suarez is only “adequate” at SS comes from. Yes, when he played SS, it was a bit of a nightmare. He was also a nightmare when he first moved to 3B. Then, all the sudden, something “clicked” for him defensively and he’s become the dependable fielder we all know and love. I’m reasonably certain his new-found defensive prowess would translate back to SS, but we’ll never know for sure unless he’s given a shot, right?

    If Suarez can play SS, that solves a lot of problems in a hurry. Senzel gets to play his preferred position of 3B. Scooter can be traded for either a MLB SP or MLB OF. 2B can be manned by some combination of Peraza/Herrera/Long/India/Downs/etc.

    I really wish the Reds would give it a shot just to see. The only real problem I see is who becomes the 3B while Suarez mans SS? Senzel is the long-term answer, but what if the Reds wanted to try Suarez at SS this season?

    • Blandino could play third. So could Dilson Herrera. I’ve read that Suarez’s body has changed since he moved to 3B, in ways that would make it harder for him to cover at SS. I have no idea if this is true or not. The Reds roster has listed him at 5’11” 213 lbs for years. Who knows if that’s accurate. Yes, it would solve a big issue long-term if he could play SS and could be worth trying. Although the Reds seem locked into Peraza at short now. I’m also not as sanguine as you are that Peraza’s improvement at 3B would translate to SS. He was brutal at short for a couple years and had played it his entire life. But maybe whatever quality made him better at third (maturity?) would transfer over. Given Senzel, Herrera and India, I’d sure think about trying it.

      • I generally agree with Steve, but want to note, that Herrera doesn’t have an arm that’s accurate enough to play third daily. He’s a good second baseman but not as good at third.

        Also the key with Suarez is that he came up at short, so he had practice. He wasn’t learning on the fly like he was at third.

        • Jason, Since we are sizing everybody up at corner OF, have you ever gotten a sniff that Herrera could play there?

          • He has the range. Probably not the arm. He’s a plus defender at second, though.

  5. Scooter’s shoulder may still be bothering him which is likely preventing him from throwing overhand properly. Until that is fixed or heals on its own, the outfield is simply not an option. He is DH, 2B, or 1B.

  6. I’m not sure you can eliminate Hererra or Nay from these discussions. If I were in charge of the Reds I would let the trade market dictate the current course of action. Determine what you want for Scooter & don’t accept less. I wouldn’t accept less than a ML ready sp prospect with the ceiling of a Mahle or Castillo. Otherwise, Scooter is the 2nd baseman for the Reds. You gotta find a spot on the 40 man roster for Hererra, & some 2018 playing time, if for no other reason than to display his talent & try to market him in the offseason. Let 2019 begin with Senzel being Senzel. If he’s good enough, he’ll push his way onto the 25 man roster & into the lineup. Peraza has indeed earned the opportunity to play ss for the Reds the remainder of 2018. Let his 2nd half performance decide whether or not he’s the Reds 2019 ss. Suarez, + his contract appears to have the 3rd base job locked down (don’t look now but 11 errors is league high). The Reds find themselves in a bit of a “sweet spot” this July, with momentum on the field, a hand full of trading chips, & a bunch of teams that covet some of those trading chips. I only hope the Reds GM(s)? perform as well behind the scene as the Reds players are performing on the field.

    • It would really help the front office if they had a crystal ball or time machine to fast forward and see if Friedl, Siri, or Trammell could play MLB CF and perform offensively at MLB like they are now 😉

      • The Braves have the answer and its not a crystal ball its bring them up and see if they can hit major league pitching

        • I’m hoping the Braves become the Reds trading partner for Iglesias. So much young sp talent. If the Braves get Iglesias, that means the Nats & Phils don’t. Ante up or stay home.

  7. I vote for keeping Scooter and hiring a manager who can manage the depth we’re building.

    However, those who want to trade him can not be happy with rumors of his shoulder injury. The timing is akin to Chapman’s domestic issue.

  8. .

    Let’s go to first principles… Defensively the biggest problem in the infield is second base. Do you think Scooter makes Peraza a better shortstop or Votto a better first baseman? Of course not. Scooter Gennett needs to be NOT our second baseman. With his bum shoulder he can’t play the outfield. Either we turn them into a starting pitcher or we trade him.

    After that, you can try your darndest to convince me that Jose Peraza is not the shortstop of the future for the Cincinnati Reds.

    The pitching staff, the outfield, and second base Need to be settled before we start tinkering with the short, first, or third

    • 101;

      Thank you for mentioning “the bum shoulder”. No one else seems to want to address it. Can you see our right-fielder throwing side-armed or underhand to get a runner at home plate.

      Centerfield is the starting point, Billy H needs to go, then.trade Scooter, yes his bat will be missed but three 500 at-bat outfielders would settle things down.
      I agree, fix second base and centerfield before the end of 2018 then worry about shortstop.
      Discussing shortstop is like worrying about running out of gas while your rear tires are going flat.

      • I do not understand the lack of love for Peraza. I think part of it’s a hangover Frazier’s departure. Still, whom would you rather have on the roster today Jose or Todd?

        • To understand the lack of love for Peraza, look at his statistics from before this recent spurt. The comparison with Frazier isn’t what’s relevant. Few people thought the Reds should sign Frazier to an extension. The issue is the type player that headlined the return from the Frazier trade: no power, no on-base skills, so-so defense. Now, the Schebler part of that deal is paying off, but I’m pretty sure the Reds didn’t see Schebler becoming the player he has.

          • If we’re going to arbitrarily eliminate numbers, if you take Peraza’s first three games of the season away, he has a 94 wRC+. So, an average bat from a good defensive shortstop. That makes for a good player.

          • I don’t know. To me, he’s always looked like he’s had the capability/tools to play the way he is playing today. I’m not a scout and can’t even pretend to tell you how a AA guy will do in the Major Lesgues in a year or two.

            The way he’s playing now is no surprise to me. Maybe I guessed right. Then again, Maybe I just trusted all the people who were telling the front office this guy was worth getting. They were right on Schebler, weren’t they?

            More to the point, is he our biggest problem in the infield?

          • I wasn’t choosing an arbitrary endpoint. I was explaining why I was cool on Peraza. It’s based on his track record, which has been dreary before recently. It takes more than a good couple weeks to undo my opinion. Even with cherry picking out the first three games, wRC+ isn’t average, it’s 6 percent below average. That’s not nothing. I also wouldn’t say he’s proven to be a good defensive shortstop yet.

        • Just a thought, Reds fan base is very loyal but can also be a myopic group. Any body not named Cozart or Concepcion just doesn’t measure up, It is like the Reds front office (Bob C.) with the fixation on Billy H.
          I have often remarked that the worse thing that happened to Red’s fans and reality was 1975 and 1976.

  9. The three areas of concern for the Reds are starting pitching, the outfield, and second base. Not first, not third, Not shortstop.

    Do you think Scooter Gennett makes Jose Peraza a better shortstop? Do you think Scooter Gennett makes Joey Votto a better first baseman? Of course not. Can Scooter Gennett play outfield with his bum shoulder? Of course not. Do we have lots of capable players in the pipeline to play second base for us next year? Why yes, yes we do.

    So unless you can convert Scooter Gennett into a starting pitcher there is no room for Scooter Gennett on our 25 man roster.

    After we trade Scooter we need to look at and fix our other holes on the roster.

    After that’s taken care of you can try to convince me that Jose Peraza is not the future shortstop of the Cincinnati Reds.

    I believe I have solved the conundrum by cutting the Gordian knot.

    You are welcome.

    • Scooter 3.2 WAR
      Geno 1.7 WAR
      (as of this morning)
      So, we have no room for the higher WAR player?

  10. Some have suggested moving Senzel to RF, I’m really not sure if I agree or disagree. However, If we extended scooter and kept him at 2b and moved Senzel to RF and moved Schebler to CF temporarily that would solve a lot of problems. Others have suggested moving Scooter to the OF and keep Senzel at 2b. I’m not completely sold on either.

    If we could somehow swing a trade (Harvey, Iglesias + others) with the Nationals for Victor Robles, Schebler could be traded or moved to left.

    What an offensive lineup in 19′:

    1. Schebler – CF
    2. Senzel – RF
    3. Votto – 1B
    4. Suarez – 3B
    5. Scooter – 2B
    6. Barnhart – C
    7. Winker – LF
    8. Pitcher
    9. Peraza – SS

    Here is my trade suggestion: Harvey, Iglesias, Herrera, Siri for Robles and Difo.

    • Why not move Scooter though? it’s a better team with Scooter in the OF and Senzel at second.

      • IMO if Scooter moves to a contender at the deadline given that he has the following season under team control, it should be a borderline blockbuster. If he moves in the off season, only slightly less so

      • Moving Scooter creates a similar outfield conundrum. If Scooter plays left, that makes Winker expendable and of course Duvall. That might be the best route. I’m just not sure Scooter can defend any better than Winker does. I’m also not sure that Scooter over the next 4 years will hit better than Winker.

        One thing is for sure, if the Reds are going to try Scooter in the OF, NOW IS THE TIME!

      • We’re all talking about moving players to different positions, and I’m not certain that it is that easy. Some guys adapt well, but basing roster decisions on the assumption that, for instance, Scooter could play left or Senzel right or center seems risky in the absence of evidence.

    • Reds have already moved Senzel from 3rd to possibly ss , then to 2nd. Stop ! Please. Despite the exceptional pitching from Hunter Greene lately, I am firmly in the camp of moving Greene to ss before we move Nick Senzel to outfield, ss, sp or catcher.

  11. The main problem I see with moving Gennett to the OF is that we have 2 quality outfielders in place with Winker and Schebler. I don’t mind the idea of having Schebler play CF on a regular basis, but if he’s bookended by Gennett in LF and Winker I’m RF then I feel we passed the point of where that defensive alignment is worth the offensive upgrade. All 3 will have a ceiling of average/adequate (at best) in those spots. CF is probably right up there with SS and C in defensive importance. If having a poor SS is taxing on pitchers it seems fair to say that having that defense every day would be just as taxing. Maybe moreso because hits in the OF have a better chance of turning into XBH than balls the SS can’t get.

    • Yeah. You hit the nail on the head. Right now, it’s a decision of do you want Peraza or Hamilton? I’d take Peraza. He’s young and still improving. His numbers are pretty good this year with the bat and SS matters more than CF as far as we currently understand things.

      • I think I would too. This reality is why I am still inclined to trade Gennett. His defense complicates things no matter where he plays. By trading him you could try to find a better fit for what the Reds already have in place.

    • You make some good points. The overall defense should be factored in to the equation.

    • Also, with changing swing mechanics, it seems likely that more balls will be hit the outfield.

  12. I remember the announcers for the Braves talking about Dale Murphy when he was a star outfielder. He came up as a catcher, but could not make an accurate throw to second. They moved him to OF, and he was quite capable there. It is worth a try to keep Scooter’s bat and have Senzel at second. I’m still not sold on Peraza, though.

  13. What if Senzel can be centerpiece of deal that brings back Syndergaard?

    • Would rather use Hunter Greene for that, if possible.

      • Agree. Greene and any of the young OF NOT named Trammell and a 2B candidate not named Senzel???

  14. Give Peraza this season to prove himself. If at the end of the season his OPS is under .750 (it’s at .697 right now, despite his recent hot streak), you put Senzel at SS and move Peraza to super-sub off the bench. Senzel can OPS .750 in his sleep and play just fine at SS. He’s young, quick, athletic, and has a good arm. Let me repeat: HE’LL BE JUST FINE AT SHORTSTOP–especially if you don’t use a Barry Larkin measuring stick.

    Oh, and if Peraza tops a .750 OPS? Well, the FO will have to regroup then. But I’m betting it doesn’t happen. I like Peraza just fine, but I’m not convinced he’s anything more than a 3rd-tier MLB shortstop.

    • Didn’t Barry Larkin conclude that Senzel wouldn’t be a good MLB shortstop?

  15. Scooter is a perfect DH. Trade him to an AL team for a young pitcher and/or centerfielder. Move Lorenzen to the outfield. He will replace Scooter’s offense from the right side. Senzel and Herrera can cover second base.

    • Lorenzen, very small sample-size aside, hasn’t come close to proving that he can consistently hit MLB pitching. He also hasn’t played MLB outfield. He might well do both, but wouldn’t it make sense to find out before installing him anywhere?

  16. Dylan Floro to the dodgers for some scraps.Why?
    Guy was pitching well.If your going to dump him why not put him in a bundle for something that might be useful at some point.
    Was his 500k too expensive ?
    We are a small market.

    • He’s a mid-level relief pitcher with limited track record. A Dodger fan who’s a buddy is kinda pissed about the trade, so that might be a good sign.

    • I’ve heard that one of the players was the Dodgers’ #21 prospect, so at least there is some upside to this trade. I don’t remember, but was Rookie Davis even that high in the NYY system when we traded Chapman?

  17. Schebler CF
    Votto 1B
    Suarez 3B
    Gennett RF
    Senzel 2B
    Winker LF
    Barnhart C
    Peraza SS
    Pitcher

    I am totally for the idea of moving Scooter to the OF when Senzel is brought up from Louisville next season. You could also move him near the end of this season to get him used to the position. You never know, I seem to remember Duvall was supposed to be a bad fielder at 3B but then ended up being a nice fielder in LF. Maybe Scooter thrives in OF like Duvall did before?

    I’ve always thought Schebler is quick enough to play CF and if given full playing time at the position he might gain more experience at playing CF. By no means would I argue that Winker, Scooter, and Schebler would be a great or even good OF defense, but I think it would be made up for by the good defense of the infielders and serviceable as an OF group. You would also still have Hamilton/Duvall to serve as late-game defensive replacement for Scooter.

    That offensive lineup, though, would be really nice to see.

  18. Nats hold player only meeting after falling below .500. Either trade for Iglesias & Harvey (in exchange for Robles, Kieboom, Garcia, & Crowe) or just write this season off. Nats choice.

    • We wouldn’t even get just Robles for Iglesias + Harvey, let alone the rest of that list.

  19. I think the possible shoulder injury with Scooter may prevent a trade or position change. So maybe we can continue the debate into the off season

  20. Jason, Steve, Jim, anyone else: Thoughts on Suárez’ ability to move to LF, opening up 3B for Senzel, and possibly 2B for Dilson Herrera?

    • I’m sure he has the ability, but the same could probably be said for Senzel and Herrera. Then you also have to figure out what to do with Winker and Gennett who along with Votto are limited defensively. Asking an established player to change positions is not something that happens often. Just looking back and when Alonso was coming up in the minors and everyone wanted to move Votto to LF to make room for his bat, then Alonso went to LF and was a disaster, and was eventually traded. The Reds also tried putting Mesoraco in LF, which didn’t work out. Moving someone to LF seems to be the standard solution most fans come up with, but it rarely works at the MLB level. If the reds wanted to move someone to the OF it needs to happen with one of the guys in the minors

      • I remember Alonso’s LF adventure in Wrigley very well. I suspect Geno would not have the same issues – not even close. Then we get to how the dominos fall; of course someone else gets pushed out, or to a lesser/bench role, and it seems that likely would fall most on Winker, and Duvall. It seems to me what you POTENTIALLY get is 1) equivalent defense and bat at 3B with Senzel, 2) equivalent defense (vs. Duvall) or improved defense (vs. Winker) and improved bat in LF with Suarez, and 3) improved defense but, for now at least, somewhat lesser but still more than adequate bat at 2B with Dilson Herrera (assuming Scooter is traded or retained solely for 2019).

        I also wonder about the risk involved with putting Senzel in the OF vis-a-vis his vertigo, every time I see an outfielder bump up against the wall, or extend themselves running to make a diving catch (vs. quicker reaction plays/less extending oneself at 3B).

        What sparked my interest was a comment I believe I recall made by Dick Williams at the time Geno signed his extension, that Geno was robust enough to play other positions, not necessarily SS.

  21. Senzel–wish in one hand st*t in the other. See which one fills up first. Think about it people. Scooter has produced. He will produce. Senzel is just the wish….Kind of like Austin Kearns 98/ David Espinosa 00/ Drew Stubbs 06.

    Think about what you are saying….

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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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