The minor league season is now complete as we await for the Arizona Fall League to begin play on October 9th.

The Reds had three farm teams compete in post season competition.

The AA Pensacola team qualified for the playoffs by clinching a 2nd half wild card spot. They lost the first round best of five game series 3 – 1 to the Biloxi Shuckers.

The A+ Daytona team is participatied in the post season playoffs thanks to being the 1st half division winners. They defeated the Clearwater Threshers 2 – 1 in the first round three game playoff series. The Tortugas then lost 3 – 1 to the Fort Meyers Miracle in the FSL Championship best of five series.

The R Billings team clinched a playoff birth by being the second half division winners. Billings lost the first round best of three game playoff series against Great Falls 2 – 0.

 
The Senzel Plan

Is there really one?

As you have most likely already heard by now, the Reds have Nick Senzel in Instructional League learning to play the outfield. Dick Williams, the Reds’ President of Baseball Operations, stated the following:

“We think and know he can help us in the infield. That’s very much in our plans for the future. But we’ve got an elite infield at the Major League level right now and everybody sees that. The more ways he can find to help the Major League team, the more value he’s going to have to us and the more likely he is to crack the Major League roster.”

I’d agree that we have an elite (very good at least) Major League infield offensively. Defensively is another story as the Reds are sub par at three of the four positions (SS, 2B, and 1B), and even Eugenio Suarez regressed in the field at 3B this season.

The Reds have been in major rebuild mode the last several years and their current top prospect, Senzel, played only 3B up until this season. Then, just as his bat rises him to the top level of the minors, they give him the full blown utility player treatment positionally. Now Senzel has been exposed shortly to SS, 2B, and now OF, with the given reasoning, that the top prospect on team losing 90 games every year, should be flexible so he can crack the lineup. In a rebuild, shouldn’t the top prospect, and a very successful one, be having the path cleared for him to become one the building blocks of the organization?

If the Reds truly believe as Williams states, “…we believe that Nick is an elite infielder and has a long-term future as an elite infielder.” Shouldn’t an elite bat and IF have a pretty easy time cracking the lineup of a 90 loss team with defensive issues in the IF?

Please, someone give me a hint of what this “…plans for the future.” that Dick Williams speaks of is, and just when the future might get here. Nick Senzel is ready to improve our IF now and he should have been developed to slide right into place as a major building block of this team going forward. Instead the Reds come across to the waning fan base as an indecisive organization with no clear plan to bring this endless rebuild to conclusion.

About The Author

Tom Diesman is a Cincinnati area native and grew up in Northern Kentucky and Clermont County. He currently resides in central Indiana. Tom makes his living doing UNIX System and Storage Administration. He fell in love with baseball and the Cincinnati Reds during the Big Red Machine era, and Johnny Bench is his all-time favorite Reds player. Tom is still an avid follower of the Reds, and longs for the organization to bring winning baseball back to Cincinnati.

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31 Responses

  1. David

    Senzel probably cannot play SS at a Major League proficiency.

    SS is probably the hardest position to play daily, along with catching.

    Can Senzel learn to catch?

    If Senzel can play center (why not?) and the Reds bench/waive Billy “0.621 OPS” Hamilton, the team should be a little stronger. Likely as not, Senzel comes up in May or whatever in 2019 (to avoid Super 2 status) and does indeed play utility schmuck for the Reds.

    But the Reds won’t waive or drop Billy, because he’s so GREAT defensively, etc.

    And unless they trade Gennett or Suarez (and neither move is unthinkable, just very unlikely), I don’t know where Senzel, top prospect, gets to play.

    The GREAT PLANNED REBUILD!! ™ goes forward.

    • Michael Smith

      Great points David. The four positions that are easiest to get him into also have sub 30 year old good to great bats at the position.

      As weird as this is to say its a good spot to be in when you are going to have to Zoborist Senzel to get him playing time. Now only if he could pitch…

  2. Eddiek957

    Possibly nick is being groomed for a happ like role with the reds. Playing everyday just not at the same position

  3. Scottya

    Kris Bryant is an example of what the Reds are working toward doing.

    Senzel can apparently play, a + defense at 3b and 2b, as he has won awards at both positions in the minors for his defense there. He can “play SS” (as Williams said) and now there working him in LF, if he can handle LF (well enough) then they’ll try CF. That seems like a fairly reasonable plan.

    I agree that the Reds team infield defense is a concern, however if we are looking at competing in 19′, I like the idea of Gennett at 2b and Senzel playing various positions from 3b, 2b and OF in 2019. The team will be better in 19′ if they do this, but only if the rotation is addressed in a pretty significant way and I think the FO has communicated that the intention is to add in the FA market this offseason. The needs are clear Pitching, Pitching and Pitching and addressing CF will be wise also.

  4. old-school

    Great post Tom. Doug Gray has said if prospects can play on the dirt, they should stay on the dirt and I agree with that. Its not about Senzel, though.

    They aren’t moving Suarez off 3b.

    Jose Peraza is playing SS.

    I love Scooter as a player and hitter. He is team co- MVP in 2018. He is playing 2b in 2019 and Nick Senzel isn’t. Here’s why.

    The Reds commitment to Scooter Gennett in 2019 and presumably beyond has far reaching implications. It really has little to do with Scooter the player and everything to do with Scooter the symbol. Scooter is a fan favorite and rightfully so. He hit 4 home runs in a game. He made the All-Star team. He has local ties and great stories to boot. He is media friendly, fan friendly and by all accounts -great in the clubhouse.

    The Reds have recently had other players similar to Scooter’s profile-Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto-most notably. These fan favorites were traded in the name of the rebuild, a necessary evil , Cueto in July 2015, Frazier in Dec 2015 and Bruce in July 2016. Most fans accepted those trades like bad tasting medicine- a needed part of the rebuilding process but distasteful.

    Trading Gennett prior to the 2019 season would force the Reds to admit they are still RE-building. Trading Gennett forces the Reds to admit they aren’t winning in 2019. Trading Gennett brings back the bad taste of trading away proven assets and fan favorites in the name of rebuilding.

    The Reds cant trade Gennett and open a position for Senzel because it destroys the narrative they’ve been selling all summer- Winning culture, momentum, the pieces are in place. The Reds are building a winner and the REbuild is over.
    DW said in ST the Reds are advanced in their building phase and success in 2018 would be defined by getting better. BC said in late April it would be a disaster if the Reds didn’t play winning baseball after their 4-18 start. The Reds will lose 90+ games again and they didn’t play .500+ baseball from May- October. Using DW and BC definitions – the 2018 season is not successful and the Reds aren’t building. In fact, its still a disaster.

    If the Reds were to trade Gennett this off-season and name Senzel as the starting 2b for 2019,
    the first question in the press conference to BC and DW would be:

    Why did you trade a fan favorite and All Star? This feels a lot like 2015 and 2016.

    What does this say about the progress of the rebuild heading into 2019?

    The Reds wont find an infield spot for Senzel because it forces them to admit the rebuild is in the ditch. That’s not happening. The Reds FO needs to make some news to get the pressure off and focused on something else. Look for a major SP signing or mega trade this off-season.

    • Scottya

      OldSchool,

      What would your wins projection be for 2019 if we sign a really good SP and trade for another #3 type SP, remove Bailey from the roster, keep Gennett at 2b and play Senzel in LF, RF, 2b and a little 3b?

      • Old-school

        The bigger question is closing that huge gap with the NL Central. The Cubs are the best team in the NL and will be again. The Brewers are rising – not falling. The Cards are a solid 85+ win team again.

        Beating those 3 teams coming off another 90 loss season would be unprecendented.

    • David

      Scooter Gennett, fan favorite. Frankly, I like Scooter a lot. A nice guy, and has been a really positive offensive player the last two years. Not a very good 2nd baseman, though. And defensively, the infield for the Reds is quite a bit below average. None of them are remarkable defensively, and likely to get crummier.
      And there are a lot fewer fans going to the games these days, because this will be another year with +90 losses. Hooray for winning.Scooter, fan favorite for a more select crowd.
      If trading ANYBODY can get starting pitchers and get them closer to 0.500 or better, I am all for it.

  5. WVRedlegs

    The plan: throw crap against the wall and see what sticks.
    This outfield plan is for Left Field, not Center Field. Just an absolute misallocation of resources. Beyond stupid as Williams states LF is harder to learn than CF. What world is Williams living in??
    Senzel should be at 2B-PERIOD.
    Trade Scooter. Even if Scooter were to win the NL batting title. It is not unprecedented for a batting champion to be traded after winning the title. It isn’t common, but it has happened. Rod Carew won 7 batting titles in Minnesota before being traded to the California Angels in 1979. He won 6 in his last 7 seasons in Minnesota. In 1973, Bill Madlock won back-to-back batting titles before the Cubs traded him to SF. In 1993, Gary Sheffield was traded mid-season after winning the prior year, going from SD to Florida for some guy named Trevor Hoffman. Back in 1960, Detroit traded the batting champion, Harvey Keunn, to Cleveland for the AL Home Run Champion, Rocky Calivito. There were also a few times that it happened prior to 1960. None recently though, but it isn’t unprecedented.
    I’d like to see the Reds mimic that Detroit-Cleveland traded in 1960, the batting champion for the HR champion. And then insert Senzel at 2B.
    Pitching?? Sign 1 free agent and trade some prospect capital for another starter.
    But hey, we are talking about the Reds lame front office and owner.

  6. WVRedlegs

    BTW Tom, last year Senzel was named the best defensive 3B in all of minor league baseball. This season Senzel was named the best defensive 2B in the AAA International League, which has 16 teams in it. And Dick Williams wants to move him to LF and keep the defensive limited Scooter at 2B. Williams talks about “value to the team”, but his reasoning makes no sense at all. Williams wants to have his cake and eat it too, all the while enjoying his penthouse view from the NLC cellar, now 4 years running.

    • Jim Walker

      And DW has been back and forth about whether could play SS in the majors; and, that’s just in the last 2 weeks.

      So, overall I agree with the statement in your first comment that they are just throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks.

      Maybe where Senzel plays is dependent who they have to trade to get the pitcher(s) they want? Scooter is not going to get that done for them with 1 year of team control left. Looking back at what it took to get Latos, I think they are going to have to lead with Winker (or Senzel himself) to get a pitcher approaching that same impact level and with several years of team control. Or Suarez with his long team friendly contract could fit the bill and require fewer (if any) complimentary pieces.

      Buckle your seat harnesses because that’s what is ahead if they are really going after top pitching talent.

      • lwblogger2

        I didn’t really read it as “back and forth”. I read it more as he can play SS but he isn’t an every-day SS. In other words, if you need him there for a game here and there, he can man the position. You probably wouldn’t want to live with him as your primary SS however. Make sense?

  7. WVRedlegs

    The Reds won 68 games in 2016 before Scooter arrived. The Reds won 68 games with Scooter in 2017. And the Reds are closely on pace to win 68 games again with Scooter. Signing Scooter to an extension just makes the Reds a better class of loser. Scooter ain’t helping the win column.
    From Big Bob’s walk-up music.
    “I’m going back to a better class of loser
    This up-town living’s really got me down (4 years running now)
    I need friends who don’t pay their bills on home computers (or communicate by i-phone)
    And who buy their coffee beans already ground
    You think it’s disgraceful that they drink three-dollar wine (while selling a Dixie cup of beer for $10)
    But a better class of loser suits me fine.”

    Big Bob’s legacy in Cincinnati: a better class of loser suits me fine.

    • David

      Castellini as owner does not want to do the things necessary to make this team a winner. The advice he is getting from Jocketty is undermining Williams. I don’t care who has what title in the Front Office, the Reds have no direction in terms of evaluating player talent and roster strategy, to put it in the muddiest of terms.

      And we will be stuck with a Castelllini running this team as owner for a long time to come.

    • lwblogger2

      WV, you don’t pull punches. I don’t always agree but love the passion there. Please don’t ever stop caring.

  8. jreis

    I don’t like the idea of Senzel in the outfield with the vertigo issue. the head movement involved in shagging fly balls could definitely trigger multiple stents on the dl.

    The answer to me is obvious although will be painful but similar to how the BRM handled Tony Perez. You move Suarez to first base . this will free up Senzel to play third, his natural position. You have Joey coming off the bench as our super pinch hitter/sub and later, India takes over at 2nd base to replace Scooter when he is ready.

    Also I still feel we need to give Hunter Greene a chance at short especially now with the elbow issue. we know he could be an elite defensive shortstop.

    • cfd3000

      Seriously, you want to pull from the lineup the hitter who, even in an off year, is literally the hardest batter to get out in the entire league? The one who reaches base 5% more often than the 2nd hardest out? Disagree.

      • jreis

        I mean, we have to try something. the high obp is just not leading to a lot of runs. this allows us to get younger and more athletic which I think we need to do to compete in the nl central

    • Jim Walker

      We don’t know what impact Greene’s elbow might also have on his throwing from SS. He wouldn’t need the fine control or use his arm as much at shortstop but there are a lot of tough throws, sometimes of a snap nature that would require a sound strong elbow from SS too.

      I think get the elbow well first then go from there. But yeah if should they decide his arm can’t handle being a starting pitcher get him started at SS in the next couple of years since that would probably be a better career path than as a relief pitcher

      • lwblogger2

        I think that’s been “Plan B” from the beginning.

    • old-school

      I agree on Hunter Greene. Of all the negative things in 2018, I would put Greene’s elbow injury at the top. It is not to be underestimated. The larger issue is he’s already hurt with virtually zero innings mileage on the arm.

      in 2017, Greene essentially didn’t pitch. He shut down his high school season in April to get drafted high in June, and didn’t pitch until late august in Billings before being shutdown. He threw 4 innings in 2017.

      In 2018, he was handled with kid gloves and threw a grand total of 68 innings before developing a significant pitching related elbow injury and being shut down for 4-6 months.

      In 2019, best case scenario is he throws 85 innings and finishes the season at Daytona.
      He will finish 2019 nowhere near being a professional pitcher who can get advanced hitters out while throwing 150-60 innings. Hunter Greene is 4 years away-2022. That’s too long and too risky and assumes everything goes perfect.

      Move him to SS as soon as he’s healthy. He just turned 19 and 6’4 and 220 and incredibly athletic. He can still pitch – but 4-5 innings a month as a closer with 2 pitches and 25 innings for the entire year.

      2022 infield Senzel 3b, Greene SS, India 2b and Suarez 1b .
      OF Winker /Siri/Trammell.
      Votto DH

      • WVRedlegs

        Those 17 pitches Greene threw at the Futures Game that were all 100+ mph did not do him any favors. He had not done that ever at any level. He was over-throwing to showoff in that showcase. Two starts later he leaves the game after the second inning. And now see where he is.
        Detractors will say he was OK in that first start after the Futures Game, but it only went 3 innings. I am convinced he hurt himself in that Futures Game and just wouldn’t say anything to the trainers, or if he had said something, he downplayed it and said it was only a minor pain. He had pitched at least 4.1 innings in 8 of 9 starts before the Futures Game. And in the one he didn’t make it that far he was removed after 3 innings and giving up 5 runs. That one was just before the Futures Game. In he previous 3 games he went 6.2, 6.0, and 7.0 innings. He was on a roll and then bam.

      • Old-school

        1/4 of professional pitchers have Tommy John. He’s 70 innings into a pro career- and already knocking at Tommy’s door- which would be an 18 month setback. He’s already had a self imposed 6 month timeout and now a 6 month elbow timeout.

        He is different in that he has the potential to be a franchise player in multiple ways. I would argue SS and position play affords a much lower risk.
        Enough reds ” BAM” moments. Put him at SS and let him close 20 games a year.

      • lwblogger2

        I think SS is “Plan B” but I see your reasoning and yes, the risk is much lower at SS than pitcher. That said, I disagree about his being able to close games. There is no bullpen time there. I don’t see enough warmup time at any professional level for a guy to go from SS to the mound between innings. The work at SS and warmups as a SS between innings should keep him somewhat loose but having only 6-8 warmup pitches and then going full tilt from the mound sounds like flirting with injury to me.

      • Old-school

        It would require a definitive plan and he could only start a clean inning while the Reds were winning. He goes to the bullpen to warm up while the Reds hit. This would be a 3-4x a month scenario. He could also throw a bullpen once a week with 15 pitches.

        He would be a great complement to the actual closer.

    • Phil

      A first ballot hall of famer coming off the bench? Shame on you!!

  9. cfd3000

    Scooter Gennett leads the Reds in batting average, a statistical category that is more interesting for historical reasons than productive ones. He does not lead the team in OPS, Slugging, or OBP, nor in WAR or the more modern and inclusive stats of wRC+ or any of the other “w+” categories. He’s a good hitting 2nd baseman, but he’s not a great hitter and he’s a mediocre 2nd baseman at best, with no positional flexibility. He literally can’t play anywhere else in the field with the possible exception of 1st base. It’s nice that he’s helped the Reds, but he’s not even close to indispensable. And I would argue that if all other things were perfectly equal, Nick Senzel will be FAR more productive at the plate and provide FAR better defense at 2B for the next 6 years than Scooter.

    Teams can make a productive trade when they have players to offer with perceived value to other teams, and especially so when that team has a surplus at some position, or a player who may be perceived as worth more to other teams than to his current team. The former of those clearly applies to the Reds and Gennett, and the latter may apply to Gennett. The conclusion is that if Gennett can be packaged in trade to fill a need (starting pitching!) then he should be moved to clear a spot at 2B for Nick Senzel. The Reds will get a modest upgrade at 2B, and a real upgrade in starting pitching. So obvious it will probably never happen.

    If Gennett cannot be moved in a productive trade then I’m fine to keep him and use Senzel as a super utility guy playing EVERY DAY at multiple positions. But if LF is one of those, it must come at the expense of playing time for Billy Hamilton. If that means Schebler in center and Winker in right, fine. The upgrade to the offense swapping Senzel for Hamilton will offset any modest reduction in defense many times over. But if Senzel is taking a spot from Winker or Schebler and BHam continues to play then the net gain is nearly zero. And given that there is a huge opportunity to upgrade the offense by replacing Hamilton, that would be a front office crime.

    • cfd3000

      Oops. Switched up my references. Gennett clearly plays a position with multiple redundancy in the Reds system, and may have perceived value to other teams that is higher than his value to the Reds. I had it the other way round in my initial post.

  10. Jeff Reed

    A very cogent post, Tom. Your last sentence describes this season for me to a T.

  11. Bill j

    Tom, I too agree with your last sentence. Something has to be done about the infield, the play last night that to me cost the Reds 3 runs was when Harvey fielded the bouncer and no one was at first base. You could see Harvey was upset and then made a bad pitch. Is Votto afraid Scooter can’t field or throw, he was way out of position. I am afraid next year will be more of the same without MAJOR changes.

  12. Timmy RedLeg

    I agree that they,(Reds), could stand to get better defensively in the infield. But remember, in previous seasons, ‘14,’15,’16, they had 1 of the best defensive infield’s in the National League & lost 80+ games once, & 90+ twice. My point is that it’s not easy to find 4 infielders that can be great offensively & defensively at the same time.