How about a little positivity in this realm of Reds? Things have been a bit bleak lately, so lets keep these Reds thoughts positive with the weekend morning coffee. After all baseball is fun.

The Reds are 17-13 in blowout games (run differential of 5+) this season. As much as the most recent blowout losses have stung, from 2014-2019 the Redlegs’ record in blowouts stood at 92-147. It’s a thin silver lining, I get that, but it’s just another small sign that the Reds are taking the small steps out of the rebuild and onto better things. Speaking of Reds positive signs, how about a player who came from nowhere to set all the home run records?

The Punisher

Watching Aristides Aquino punish the ever loving stuffing out of the ball never gets old…

There’s been a lot of “enjoy the ride” talk with Aquino, which is all well and good, but there’s real potential here. If you’ve read anything about The Punisher and how he has reinvented himself with the help of Donnie Ecker, he shows a real teachability and propensity to adapt – something other players could stand to imitate. His fielding ability, on top of his bat, shows the kind of raw talent that could possibly do some positive performing for the 2020 Reds. Something to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season is his slash line. If it’s around a .300/.440/.500 line, it would be hard to give anyone else the starting right field job come March 26, 2020.

Offseason posturing

Speaking of Opening Day next year, the Reds will have plenty to do this offseason to get ready for it. With names like Didi Gregorious and Yasmani Grandal being bandied about and no clear target, one thing is abundantly clear: if Francisco Cordero remains the Reds most prolific free agent signing after the 2019-20 offseason, the front office has failed. They’ve built a lot of trust with the moves they’ve already made but they can wipe that all out with an offseason of maintaining this roster instead of improving it.

It’s always Sonny…

Probably the most significantly positive Reds move the front office has made that has built that trust up is the acquisition of Sonny Gray. The mandate last December was “get the pitching” and Gray is the pitching. He has the 12th best ERA in baseball (2.98) in 132.2 innings pitched with a 4.2 bWAR. His strikeout rate is at a career-high of 10.4 and so is his ERA+ of 154. Much was made about him being a castoff from the Yankees, but he has shown to be the second part of the Reds one-two punch at the top of the rotation.

Castillo’s rough patch

Joining him at the top of that rotation is the man who just got shellacked by the Cardinals, Luis Castillo. Don’t let Friday night’s game sully your image of La Piedra because the dude is a stud. That was just the second instance all season in which he’s given up more than five earned runs. The other time was June 26 against the Rockies (six earned runs allowed). In 18 of his 25 starts, Castillo has allowed two earned runs, or less. His ERA now sits at 3.10, which is the highest it’s been all year. You can look at that one of two ways, but I choose to see it as he’s pitched really stinking good.

One final thing

This last bit has nothing to do with the first bits, but quick shoutout to Billy Hamilton. Say what you will, and I still firmly agree in the objectivity to let him go last year, but my fan heart misses him. I remember watching him in Double-A beating out grounders to second base. The excitement he brought was never something that would lead to championships, but it was darn good fun to watch. Here’s to hoping he lands on his feet as a bench player on a playoff team.

35 Responses

  1. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I entirely agree. There are simply too many positives out there to feel bad about this team. Yeah, the playoffs are probably out this season. But, compared to where we were the last several seasons, we definitely improved.

    As for this season, it seems like to me we simply didn’t have the offense, especially the first 2-3 months of the season. And, it “seems” like the bullpen just wasn’t there since the All-Star break.

    I know we are going to have a load of money to spend. How much, I don’t remember (anyone)? But, with as much of an increase in offense that Didi and Grandal would be, I’m not sure we want to pay that much for them (maybe we do; I just don’t know). And, I don’t see we have much tradebait.

    So, I can’t help thinking, if we are going to make a strong off season move, it’s going to be something like getting Marte (not sure how his buyouts work with the Pirates) for CF and moving Senzel to first.

    Either that, and/or, in combination with that, moving an OF or two for OFer’s with some good bats. From what I see, with our OF, if we don’t move, we would be committing that someone like Winker and Ervin will be able to step up, as well as Aquino will be able to keep his bat going. We either bet that Winker and Ervin will be able to step up, and/or Aquino will be able to keep his bat going, or bring in some OF’s who have a history of good batting. Or, whatever combination thereof.

    And, I only think this because beyond Didi and Grandal, there isn’t that much out there at SS and C that would be an improvement, from what I can tell. The odds that we, a 4th place team, will be able to get one or both of them? We would have to bid high.

    But, overall, we definitely need to shore the bullpen back up, and we need to find some more offense somewhere.

    • Pete

      Great, great article Jeff and timely.

      I would trade Jose Siri if he is still labeled a “prospect” after this year. Kid looks to be going nowhere and is ranked by fangraphs as the Reds #9 top prospect. Could the Reds get a good reliever for him or package him for something better? WE may not have a lot to trade with but I’d move him. Been watching Siri play on MiLB and it’s a good time to cut bait .

      • Michael Smith

        @pete,

        I think you hold on to Siri. Guys turn into players at different times. Look at Aquino and Van Meter this year. Neither was a top prospect coming into the year but they put the work in (Siri is a hard worker from what I have read) and made major changes that changed their trajectory (van meter is over last 1.5 years, Aquino since end of last year)

        On the Free Agent front the pickings are slim. Didi is a huge upgrade over anyone on the roster. Grandel is a sizable upgrade. After that not much there.

      • Pete

        Michael, have you watched him play? We’ll see but I’d move him while he still has value. I’m not going to post his numbers here but you can go to Fangraphs and see for yourself. He hasn’t had a good season since 2017 and that was A+ ball. Never really conquered AA and in fact, regressed from last year. They have moved up to AAA maybe in desperation. I’m not seeing it. One heck of a defensive outfielder with marginal power at best, he also K’s a ton.

        Telling me the free agent class of 2019-2020 is weak further makes my case, everyone wants controllable young talent. Siri is 24 so he isn’t a spring chicken but young enough.

        To be honest, there are times he looks disinterested and other times he appears overly frustrated. Phillip Ervin also seemed to be disinterested at times but he, or someone else, appears to have lit a fire under him. Siri is a CF and I doubt he can ever hit well enough for a corner job. I hoping Senzel is the CF for a long time to come.

    • RojoBenjy

      I’ll pass on Marte and his PED enhanced career.

    • Doc

      For credibility, when your plans include moving someone to 1B, Senzel in your post, then I believe you need to offer a credible and realistic disposition or role for Joey Votto. 1B is not an open position that can just be filled in the current situation. To not do so makes your 1B suggestion an unrealistic pipe dream. The Reds FO cannot just ignore Votto in their plans, and they have to manage within the confines of the contract, which includes the no trade clause. Unless/until Votto hangs them up or agrees to a trade, or becomes so bad that the Reds Kemp him, any realistic suggestion for future lineups that involve 1B need to involve a credible plan for Votto.

      • Rob

        Excellent! Must be figured in any overview of 2020. I think the boiled down question is where do you put a very slow 36 year old 1B/DH who will probably hit 250 and slug 400. No where would be the best team option. But realistically part time at 1B and batting 7th. No one seems to want to talk about this. Bell can’t possibly justify him batting second. How many runs has he scored? With Suarez 80 rbis , he probably should score 80+.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      Oops, sorry, I meant move Senzel to SS. Of course I wouldn’t move Senzel to first.

      • Earmbrister

        Senzel is NOT a SS. And that leaves you with no credible CF. With that move you’ve considerably weakened two key defensive positions.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Well, Senzel wasn’t even an OF just a year or two ago. So, I would think an OF would be able to make the adjustment to CF.

        2nd, Senzel played 3rd in college, if I recall correctly, and we were bringing him up to play 2nd and maybe SS. He took to CF well. I don’t believe he would have a problem at SS.

        Not to say that I would do this. Saying, “if” the Reds wanted to handle things in house as much as possible, and still increase the offense, that would be one route.

      • LWblogger2

        The Reds were pretty clear in stating that Senzel could probably handle SS in a pinch and short term, but they don’t think he has the defensive chops to start there regularly. They did not make such statements about him playing the OF. Senzel isn’t a good fit at SS according to the Reds. I trust them on this one. 3B and 2B he could certainly handle but he’s actually looking pretty good in CF and he’s getting better there.

  2. CI3J

    The thing to remember, no matter how this season plays out, is for the first time in half a decade, there is real, tangible progress taking place on the field. After suffering through some of the worst seasons in Reds history, the 2019 team is, at the very least, competitive, and young enough that there is still room to grow. Plus, the Reds have enough cash and prospects that with some shrewd moves, they can fill the remaining holes and actually get back to legitimately vying for a playoff spot as soon as next season.

    It’s easy to get caught up in recent struggles of the team, but if you take a long view, the future, for the first time in a long time, looks promising.

    • Pete

      Reds have only one player over 30 years old. I take this as a very good sign and it appears the younger the player, the better the player in most cases. The key will be: is this FO as good as they look? I’m betting they are.

    • TR

      The question is whether the Reds front office will add veterans to go one and done like KC did when they won in 2015, or will they go with the young guys to build a contending winning team for many years.

    • Slicc50

      Absolutely….I found myself getting caught up, until last Sunday, this team having a chance to make the playoffs. So I had to rethink things. When this season began, I expected a close to .500 season. They showed flashes at times to be a team that can make some noise if they could put it all together consistently and string some wins together. Now i see it differently. This front office has put together a really nice foundation for a winner in Cincinnati for the next few years. They just need to play this season out and gain some valuable experience for the younger players. Figure out who fits in going forward, and who doesn’t. I actually trust that the front office is going to be able to make the moves over the winter that will take this team to the next level. I haven’t been able to say that in quite a few years. Even in the Dusty years, I knew they had a solid foundation, but were never going to spend the money it would take to put the team over the top. It feels different to me now. It’s a nice time to be a Reds fan. No matter how the rest of this season plays out

  3. greenmtred

    I wish I shared the optimism. The Reds are better than they have been in some time–just look at the record–but it’s unclear to me where this leads. Are they rebuilding again (or still)? Do they have a plan to add what they need to be serious contenders in 2020? And beyond? Adding older players (Marte, Gregorious, Grandal) would signal that 2020 is the year, but what about 2021 and after?

    • Pete

      I’m with on adding any of three players mentioned – no thanks. I’m looking at it from a different prospective and I’m going to give an example.
      Since Tucker Barnhart returned from his injury and his work with Donnie Ecker, these are the numbers:

      333/438/593, wRC+ of 157

      dWAR of 6.7 in only 78 games

      Let’s see what Tuck does the next 6 weeks. Maybe we don’t need a catcher after all. Donnie should be given a long-term contract. His rep is getting out there and I believe he may get snatched up if the Reds are not careful.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      That “older player” part I can understand. For, I remember getting the retreads of pitchers in here, hoping they would find an iota of what they had previously. But, at the same time, it could be those “older players” who could be the team leaders young inexperienced player, like we have, need to be able to take the next step.

      That’s why I believe it’s going to be interesting to see which way this FO goes this season. For, I can see all kinds of ways they can go.

      I will specify this, though. Almost regardless of what we do during the off season, our success next year and any future years after is going to come from the success of this youngster group. Can they keep the same numbers, at minimum?

  4. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Something else I will include. Some mentioned similar items to it. These Reds have had one of the higher “Expected W/L records” in the league for most of the year. That tells me that they blow teams out more than they get blown out, that they lose a lot of close games. That tells me they are “in” on a majority of their games, with just a different here and there, we are looking at playoffs.

    I believe history would show this is a trend of a young, inexperienced team. And, hence, this is a young, inexperienced team.

    That’s another reason why I find it interesting to see where the Reds go this offseason. I mean, stat wise, they need offense and to bolster their bullpen back up. But, play-wise, team-wise, they need experience. They need a team leader or 2 who can press the younger players on, to impress on them to take the next step. I don’t believe any of these players are like that, including Votto. The person may be there right now, just taking their time to insert themselves on a new team with so many new faces. We will see.

  5. Colorado Red

    The FA market does not look great this year.
    The only big one I would go after is Grandal.
    (I doubt they can afford Cole.)
    Maybe a relief pitcher or two.
    Also, we have Cody for that?

    • Burtgummer

      A relief pitcher or two ??Understatement of the year.except for Garrett the whole bullpen needs to be rebuilt

      • Colorado Red

        The whole BP?
        Lorenzen has pitched well.
        Raisel Iglesias has pitched well in a closer role.
        Bob Steve, is as good as anyone out there.
        Joel Kuhnel, just called up, looks like possibility.
        Cody another possibility.

        No one out there is perfect.

        So a member or two is correct.

      • Indy Red Man

        Colorado…wow wish I could be so optimistic. Iggy has a 4.01 era although he’s 24 of 27 in save opportunities. B- grade imo. Lorenzen about the same. Sometimes he’s lights out and sometimes he walks the park B-. Garrett is a B+. Now I like Stephenson, but the few times they’ve put him in high leverage he got bombed. I’d let him pitch the 8th the rest of the way and see what happens? “As good as anybody out there” though? No. Go look at Houston’s bullpen #s or Cleveland’s# or the Yankees. They’re 4-5 deep with potential closers. The Reds need 3-4 guys minimum. Another solid lefty is mandatory as well.

      • Earmbrister

        I’m closer to Colorado’s thinking, than I am to Burt’s and Indy’s. While I agree Indy that Iggy and Lorenzen are just above average, while Garrett is excellent, none of them are going anywhere. Nor are Lucas Sims, Cody Reed, or Robert Stevenson. Add Kuhnel, depending on what he shows the rest of the way.

        Iggy
        Garrett (LH)
        Lorenzen
        Reed (LH)
        BobSteve
        Sims
        Kuhnel

        Even if you drop one of the above off the list, that’s 6 solid candidates for an 8 man BP. Yeah, adding one or two quality relievers should suffice.

  6. jbonireland

    I agree that optimism is higher then it has been, but I just don’t get Gregorius or Grandal. Didi seems to break down more and more each year. Grandal I believe is over rated, while he may hit some remember we drafted this guy and traded him, and he is now on his 4th team. Defensively I don’t see him as better then Barnhardt or Casali.

    As to free agents we will have money to spend, however I don’t want to see 6 or 7 year contracts for any player nor would I like to see over paying to bring in someone. I do believe that the current management team has shown that they will be able to sort this out and make the necessary adds.

    The biggest holdup I see in the Reds moving forward is the on field leadership of our Manager. After this year David Bell will continue his record of never managing a team to a winning record in either the minors or the majors. If you have to over pay a successful manager to come to Cincinnati this is where I would spend the money. My fear is that when the time comes to replace Bell we will continue to look only at in house options or former Reds players.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      It’s not as much as I agree or disagree with you on Didi and Grandal. It could be what you said. It could be the price tag they may have on them. It could be how much of an increase in offense would it be (some may say not much, using certain numbers) in considering with how much we would pay. It could be a combination of things. I could understand bringing them in; I could understand not bringing them in. I would just hold off on bringing them in.

      The more I think of it, the more I can’t help thinking the best way to go is trying to find a good OF bat, awesome if they could play CF or have one of our current ones play CF, and move Senzel to SS, or maybe Senzel to 2nd and JVM to SS.

      I don’t believe Bell is the problem. But, from what I see, we do need someone who can lead these inexperienced young studs to the next level, require them to step the bar up, etc. If we can find that in a player, great. If we can find that in a manager, I believe even better.

  7. AirborneJayJay

    With several players signing extensions last winter and in spring training, it really thinned out the expected free agent market for this off season. I don’t think there will be a free agent starting pitcher signed. I don’t think a top closer gets signed. If the Reds sign a good set up reliever it won’t be more than what Coco Cordero signed for. A top set up man gets maybe 3 years and $30MM to $36MM. Raisel gets bumped to $9MM next year and year after. So that might not seem likely for the Reds to go there for a set up man.
    My suggestion would be to task the scouting and analytics guys with finding the five best middle / set up relievers at putting out the fires coming in with runners on and 1 or no outs. And then target two of them to go after either as a free agent or trade. One a younger and better version of 2018 Jared Hughes and the second a great fireman.
    Offensively they might tinker with moving Suarez to LF, Senzel to 3B, and a 3 man rotation of Vanmeter, J Iglesias and Galvis at SS and 2B. Winker, Ervin and Aquino man CF and RF with Winker getting a few reps at 1B.
    I’d like to see them use the remaining 6 weeks or so as a laboratory and experiment some to see what works better offensively and defensively before they enter the off season. Those needs may differ later than they what they seem to be now.
    Nevertheless, the most important off season in years is approaching.

  8. Indy Red Man

    Most of the free agents this offseason stink from what I can tell. There are a couple of guys I really like though that could really help this team.

    Travis D’Arnaud. He’ll be 31 next spring. Had a .878 ops in June and a 1.136 ops in July as a full-time catcher. No cheap HRs in Tampa either. Have the Reds had a frontline catcher put up a 1.136 ops month since Bench?

    Dellin Betances. He’ll be 32 in the spring. If this guys right then the Yankees probably keep him, but they have an absolute ton of young guys to pay down the road. He’s been one of the top setup men for years now. 381 innings 228 hits with a career 1.04 whip & 2.36 era. I don’t know what a top setup man gets, but I’d give him 3 years if he’s healthy. We have all these young guys that aren’t making squat.

    • Earmbrister

      Problem with D’Arnaud is how many months is he going to give you. The man can’t stay on the field.

      • LWblogger2

        Agree 100%. He’s always been a tantalizing player. The guys is defensively solid and he can really hit. His issue, throughout his entire career, has been with staying healthy. I don’t sign him.

  9. CFD3000

    A few thoughts. Whoever said this team’s struggles have been primarily offense early and bullpen late is spot on. With the arrival / emergence of Senzel (who does seem to be wearing down), JVM, Aquino, Ervin, and a rejuvenated Barnhart, and even a “signs of returning to form” Votto I’m pretty comfortable with the offense. But the bullpen is still a big area of need. The Reds need to go into 2020 with now weak links and at least one more shut down set-up man. But amazingly I have confidence a) that the FO is aware of this priority and b) will take smart steps to resolve it.

    Pete, I think you may be onto something with Donnie Ecker. I don’t think there are many Turner Ward fans at RLN but Ecker has shown great insight and ability with Aquino, JVM and Barnhart. Time for him to get a bigger role with the big club?

    Finally, losing 5 of 6 has ended my dreams of a playoff run, but I’m still hoping to see this team creep back to .500 in the next 6 weeks. If Wood continues to improve and Bauer finds his sea legs that feels achievable. And between that chase and a spoiler role I’m planning to really enjoy the preview of the 2020 playoff Reds.

  10. Chris

    What does the board think of Senzel’s offensive season thus far? His numbers aren’t really even much, if any, above average are they?

    I’ve heard Acquino compared to an Adam Duvall, I sure hope not!! Yes, he was an all star 1-2 years, but that should be taken with grain of salt. There are many great players left off each year and several marginal players put on team…..plus that’s only representative of just over half the season. Duvall had 2 pretty quality years for us, but then he was terrible pretty abruptly and since was traded and spent more time in minors than majors. If we only get 2 good years of 30+ homers out of Acquino I would think that would be a grave disappointment? No?

    • Pete

      Chris, if you have MLB.tv you can see a huge difference in Nick’s stance from his first game to the game last night. Early on his thighs are bent nearly 45 degrees at the knees, the bat is held close his body between his chest and head, and in a vertical position. Now he stands with a slight bend at the knees but not as erect as AA or JVM, the bat is held in a near horizontal position with his hands very high at head level behind his helmet. His hands are even closer to his body than before. He also has opened up his stance.

      I believe these changes were made recently. Don’t know if this is in response to a slump or to generate more power, maybe both. These are very big adjustments for a hitter to make and he/we are going to have to hang with it. It has all the makings of Donnie Ecker’s work so I’m very optimistic they will get the intended results. For the team to reach its potential, Nick Senzel needs to be a big-time player – no way around it.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      I believe you could count on most every player along those lines, not just Senzel. I mean, I don’t know of any player who “reached” their goals offensively this season. If they did, they might be the first ones to be let go. Because the offense was pathetic the first half of the season. I was even expecting a bit more from Suarez and Winker.

      But, I want to say I remember hearing or reading somewhere that, for example, Senzel’s goal is to become a 300 hitter, as in BA. And, in looking at his minor league and college stats, that what he shows he is use to. So, I don’t believe Senzel, for one, was happy with his offense at all. It might have been he was concentrating on learning CF. Understandable? Sure, but we need offense now.

      With Aquino, I just hope he doesn’t get “power hungry”. For example, I remember, I believe his name was Juan Francisco, for our team. That dude became so power hungry that one time he swung (and missed) so hard that he literally twisted around twice and fell on the ground. Like, he wasn’t only looking for the Ohio River on that swing, he wanted to put the ball in Kentucky. And, the thing is, with Juan, probably the same with Aquino, all they have to worry about it making contact with the ball. Where when others swing and they get a line drive single to LF, Aquino could probably swing with the same effort, and that ball is in the seats.

  11. Don

    Just say no to any 30+ year old position Free Agents.

    Galvis (assuming hits next 6 weeks like 1st 5 games) should be 2020 starting SS. Will be 30 in 2020 which will be his 8th MLB year. Good veteran add.
    JVM should be starting 2B without any question getting one or two days off a month.
    A backup whom can play both and will be happy with starting 4 to 5 days a month and pitch hitting (not Peraza).

    If the team gets a 28 to 30 Year old OF to be a 5th outfielder whom can push the OF of Senzel, Aquino, Winker & Ervin

    Off season needs are a # 2 or #3 starter to be the #4 starter on this staff. A lefty would be great and 2 relievers whom can be 80-90% successful in high leverage situations.

    Rest of the 2020 – 26 man roster should hold overs from current roster.