Connect with us

Cincinnati Reds

10 reasons to start the Reds’ season optimistic




How many games will the Reds win?

That’s not a question I can put a number on with any confidence. And I haven’t talked to anyone who is willing to say with any ease what that number will be.

Why are we so non-committal?

Well, my head can’t commit to a number above 79. My heart wants to say something in the 80s. Most Reds fans, it seems, are having the same head-heart tug-of-war.

We know what the worst-case scenarios are that would produce a similar season to the past two. Just list the pitfalls of last summer.

But who wants to be negative now? Maybe you do. That’s your choice.

If there’s a time to be optimistic, it’s now. This team can be in the wild-card hunt when August arrives. Admit it. You want reasons to believe that could happen. You don’t want to be negative on opening day.

If you are feeling low (and even if you’re not), let’s focus on what could spark hope.

In not particular order, here are 10 things, that if they happen in any degree of abundance, might mean the Reds get to August with something to play for.

  1. Figure out lead off

This position has changed as the game has changed to one dominated by power hitters and power pitchers. The argument is that speed isn’t required at the top. No argument there. Get on base.

But when someone with Billy Hamilton’s speed comes along, there’s not a manager who wouldn’t try to make him a lead-off hitter. In today’s game, speed is a bonus. And it’s smart to at least try to take advantage of that bonus.

But if Billy can’t play at least close to league average on-base percentage, then he should bat at the bottom of the order.

Jesse Winker gets on base. Eugenio Suarez gets on base. Joey Votto gets on base better than anyone. What’s the answer? Winker is a popular choice, but we don’t know how much he will play.

Solving this riddle will reduce a lot of anxiety.

  1. At least 3 starters stay healthy and dependable all season

That’s not an unreasonable expectation. It happens all the time.

But I know what you’re thinking … last year, 16 different starters and not a full season out of any of them. It can’t happen again.

Think about it. Three starters healthy all year from the group of Bailey, Castillo, Romano, Mahle, Finnegan and Garrett will bring some stability and produce more victories.

  1. Fewer starting pitchers than last year

Even with three healthy and dependable starters, those last two spots could be a revolving door. That doesn’t mean the Reds can only contend if the number is six or seven.

The Astros won the World Series with 11 different starters. Yes, most were far more experienced than what the Reds have, but don’t freak out because a couple of guys miss a few starts. But if a lot of guys miss a lot of starts, freak out all you want.

  1. At least two more position players get multi-year deals after season

Even if you are not a fan of long-term contracts, signing players to them usually means you have talent.

Votto and Suarez are it for now. Mostly that’s because most of the players aren’t to the point where the Reds have to make that decision.

But if this season sees two players produce enough for the Reds to make that commitment, that can only be a good thing.

  1. Joey Votto isn’t the only Red in top 10 for MVP voting

The last Reds other than Votto to get MVP votes were Johnny Cueto and Devin Mesoraco in 2014. So even one MVP vote would be a good sign.

And it doesn’t matter who gets it.

  1. Bench production improves

A few years from now (if it even takes that long), we won’t remember names like Kivlehan and Alcantara. The Reds need some bench guys with staying power.

The four-man outfield rotation will help. And Mesoraco showed signs this spring of swinging a bat the way he used to. Not to be negative, but I’m not digging Cliff Pennington and Phil Gosselin.

Phillip Ervin is a good choice. I would rather see some prospects getting a chance and learning what the big leagues are about than guys we know will never develop beyond what they already are. If this is a rebuild, keep Brandon Dixon and Alex Blandino.

  1. Bullpen doesn’t melt down

That can’t happen like the past two years, can it? The starting rotation needs their support for 162 games.

That does work both ways. The bullpen needs the rotation to increase its number of quality starts.

  1. Winker a rookie of the year candidate

Now wouldn’t that circumstance answer a lot of questions. He has been like the backup quarterback everybody wants to see get a chance when the starter isn’t performing at a high level.

Is Winker ready for Price to give him that chance? No doubt about it.

  1. Duvall has a good second half

Is it the diabetes that wears him down? Is it the pitchers figuring him out all over again? Maybe more days off with Winker in the mix will help.

If Duvall can put two halves together, then you have your second Red in the top 10 in MVP voting. Then you’re looking at numbers like 40 homers, 40 doubles, 120 RBIs, a .265 batting average and an OPS well over .800.

Those are big ifs, but not impossible.

  1. Reds still can’t find a full-time spot for Nick Senzel

That would mean Jose Peraza, Scooter Gennett and the corner outfielders are playing well. And that means more victories.

Senzel will get some big-league time for sure, but it could be next year before he takes over a position full time. Gennett is probably gone after this year, and a season at second base might be the best thing for Senzel.

Certainly there are more candidates for this list. Use it to feel optimistic for at least the next month.

That’s my plan.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds and the 20 Pitch Limit

When it comes to quirky early Cactus League season games, there’s a lot to know. One this is the 20-pitch limit a manager can invoke on an inning his guy is getting clobbered in. The Cincinnati Reds have already done this.





This Spring has seen an interesting beginning in that teams have smaller rosters than normal (though still plenty of players to go around) and they can choose to play shorter games. One other added wrinkle of differentness is the ability of a manager to “throw in the towel” whenever his pitcher reaches 20 pitches in an inning. 

The Reds have already taken advantage of this twice, both during the beat down at the hands of the Athletics. Sal Romano got the curtain pulled on him in the fourth inning while Shane Carl heard the music in the fifth. These don’t necessarily paint a larger picture, as of yet, but it is interesting to note. 

Carle doesn’t factor into the equation that is the Opening Day roster, but Big Sal surely does. He is out of minor league options (meaning he’d have to clear waivers to be assigned a minor league team) and he has shown some flashes of talent in the past. He could be valuable depth for the Reds bullpen, so calling it quits after 20 tosses (which frankly were all a consequence of Nick Senzel misplaying a ball early in the inning) doesn’t mean he’s out, but it is something to watch. 

We’ll keep track here on the blog for more 20-pitch tap-outs. 

Continue Reading

Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds Roster Breakdown: Non Roster Invitees

Let’s take a look at the non-roster invitees trying to make the Cincinnati Reds roster during this Spring Training

Clay Snowden



WELCOME BAAAAAAACK! The Reds kick off the 2021 season on Sunday with their first spring training game. As I do each spring training, I am going to take a look at the non roster invitees (NRI) and how they could impact the team this season.


R.J. Alaniz, Matt Ball, Cam Bedrosian, Jesse Biddle, Shane Carle, Josh Osich, Branden Shipley, Bo Takahashi

You might recognize a couple of these names. Alaniz has been around the organization the past couple of years and pitched 11.2 innings with the Reds in 2019. Biddle was a guy who was around last year, but the others are new. Carle (76.1 in), Osich (206.1 in), Shipley (100 in) have experience in the show with moderate results. Cam Bedrosian is the name to know here. The fact that he was signed on with a minor league deal is surprising. 277.2 innings with a 3.70 ERA has been a solid MLB pitcher. 2019 batters hit .207/.283/.336 and in 2020 they hit .196/.276/.255. His spin rate is gritty darn good honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a minor league deal that really is a promise on the roster. Think Jose Iglesias who was also a NRI a couple years back. This allows the Reds to delay their decision on making a 40 man roster move.

For a team that lost Rasiel Iglesias, Bradley, maybe Antone and Lorenzen to the rotation, Bedrosian will have a chance to really earn a legit role with this team. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a scenario where Shipley or Carle get innings this year.

Bittle and Osich are lefties that would have battled for the other LHP spot in the pen, but the signing of Doolittle bumps them to depth roles.



Rocky Gale

A 33 year old catcher with 37 at bats and a career .108 avg. Id say that there is not much to see here. Stephenson and Tucker are the one two punch and the offseason addition of Deivy Grullon will provide a younger depth option with a higher upside than Gale.



Cheslor Cuthbert, Dee Strange-Gordon (not listed on Reds roster yet)

Cuthbert isn’t a household name, but he does have over 1,000 at bats in the MLB. He had a decent season in ’16 with the Royals batting .274/.318/.413 and 12 HR, but he hasn’t shown enough to be a full time MLB player. Corner infield depth.


Here’s where I stand on Dee….If he is here to battle for a utility role, that’s fine with me. If he is here to be some variation of an answer at SS, we are in trouble. A 32 year old poor defender (who on the Reds isn’t at this point) who doesn’t have any power and doesn’t get on base. Yeah, he has stolen some bases. We all know speed is one of the first things to go when you age, and he still has some jump, but I don’t think it’s game changing speed at this point, and it’s useless unless he’s on base. I’m not high on Strange Gordan making an impact.



Nicky Delmonico, Tyler Naquin, Dwight Smith

I was worried about the Reds outfield depth. It’s a sneaky need, especially of Aquino doesn’t bounce back. This group of NRI is a group I am excited about. All have MLB experience and have had their moments. Delmonico had a nice (small sample size) rookie year with the White Sox in 2017, but has been worse each year since then. It’s the other two that catch my eye.

Dwight Smith has shown he has some pop in his bat. He is the type of player that you want to have in AAA ready to fill in if needed. Tyler Naquin is a guy I think could actually contribute to this team. We know 2020 was a small sample size, but look at the hard hit and exit velo. And his outfield jump/Outs above avg. fit in well with the team that doesn’t seem to care about defense.



He had a great rookie year in ’16, and has had moments since. .288/.325/.467 10 HR 19 2B in 2019 would be a good bench bat. The question is…is he better than Aquino/Heineman/Payton? Him and Payton are the two leftieis of the group. At the very least, I think he is great organizational depth, and I think his floor is a higher floor than the group listed above (maybe Aquino can make me eat crow there)


This list is different than most years. Not as many players listed, and no prospects. The number of players at Spring Training will be smaller than years past. Overall, I think theres 2-3 guys who could earn a role on the Reds 2021 roster.

Continue Reading

Cincinnati Reds

Monday Morning Manager: The Snell Effect

David Bell has many things he needs to go right in order to win games and get a contract extension. One thing he can control is a decision-making process that should not be made entirely analytically.





In case you lived under a rock last year (and that might be Truer than in any other year) then you know how the World Series went down with the Rays falling to the Dodgers. You may even know about Blake Snell’s improbable removal from Game Six when he was absolutely on fire. This is something David Bell cannot mess up in 2021.

Ok, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m talking about the correct managing of the bullpen and rotation in pressure situations. Most people will look at the Game Six managing of Kevin Cash and see two things: a man sticking to his system that got him there and a man over-thinking things. Neither thoughts are incorrect.

In this day and age of baseball, most people understand statistical evaluations on pitchers favoring removing a starter before they pitch to the opposing lineup for the third time in a game. Well, maybe, because the numbers are a bit different in 2020, small sample size, and all. In fact, the Reds pitching staff held opponents to a .599 OPS in 253 plate appearances the third time through the order, last year. That may be a smoke screen, though, as the 2019 Reds pitching staff (largely similar to 2020) allowed an OPS of .892 in 799 PA. That’s a bit of a more reliable sample size, which would leave me to believe a starter pitching a third time through the order isn’t the most favorable idea.

Also something David Bell must consider is the overthinking aspect. In this Player’s Tribune post by the man, Blake Snell, himself, he points out the immense effect that simply seeing someone warming up in the bullpen had on him. Now, you can say “Well, that shouldn’t have been an issue, he should have sucked it up and pitched!” The dude is a human being. If you saw the person management was likely to replace you with if you messed something up at your job, are you going to just keep on keeping on with no thought to look over your shoulder? If you are, you might be a Jedi. Most of us mere mortals have problems with worrying about what might happen if things fall apart. Baseball players are not totally immune to this, either.

In order for Bell to garner a contract extension, he will have to adeptly manage a pitching staff that has talent, but also has human egos. Just because the numbers say that a decision should go one way, the human element must also be factored in. Last I checked, theres no button for that on a calculator, which leaves it up to his own decision-making skill.

Continue Reading