It feels like centuries ago when the Reds fielded a good baseball team. In 2013 the Reds won 90 games then fired Dusty Baker leading to their downhill slide. 2014 brought 76 wins followed by a lousy 64 wins in 2015, 68 in 2016, 68 in 2017, and 67 in 2018. Folks, that’s four straight last-place finishes. The rebuild was in process. Think of the big names and fan favorites that would be traded you think of Cueto, Frazier, Phillips, Bruce, Chapman, and others. Here is a breakdown of what the Reds acquired for a combined 12-time All-Stars:
* Indicates players in the Reds organization
Todd Frazier – Jose Pereza*, Scott Schebler*, Brandon Dixon
Brandon Phillips – Andrew McKirahan and Carlos Portuondo
Jay Bruce – Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell
Johnny Cueto – Brandon Finnegan*, Cody Reed*, John Lamb
Mike Leake- Adam Duvall, Keury Mella*
Mat Latos – Anthony DeSclafani*, Chad Wallach
Aroldis Chapman – Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda
Jonathan Broxton – Kevin Shackelford*, Barrett Astin
Dan Straily- Luis Castillo*
Take the pitchers from this list and look at their stats combined in a Reds uniform:
43-92 record 6.03 ERA 6.3 WAR
Now remove Castillo and DeSclafani: 5-47 record (!)
7.25 ERA -2.3 WAR
Some of these pitchers are still young and can still turn it around and produce effectively for the Reds. You can find better statistics and break it down this way or that way and yeah yeah yeah. *Rolls eyes* At the end of the day the return, overall, simply is not strong. The Chapman trade and Cueto trade sting because they are the most talented pitchers on the list and the return was nowhere close to their worth. Castillo, as many young pitchers do, has had his ups and downs. At times he throws like an ace and at times he looks lost. His stats post All-Star break last year: 2.44 ERA, 5-4 record (Reds only won 24 games in that span), .206 BAA while striking out 69 and only walked 14. Castillo’s potential is high, he has the talent, now it is time for him to put it all together consistently.
The hitters that were brought in from these trades are headlined by Jose Pereza and Scott Schebler. Adam Duvall hit some home runs (84 to be exact) in a Reds uniform but only batted .235 while posting a .297 OBP, which is .01% worse than Billy Hamilton. Pereza has shown he has the stuff to be a good everyday shortstop now and in the future. At only 24 (25 in April) years old the Reds are set up well at short for the future. Schebler hit 30 home runs in 2017, but only 17 last year. He will see more time in center this year but is not the future in that position. He is a great lefty bat that will get plenty of at-bats and pinch-hit opportunities. Dixon, Herrera, Wallach, and Renda all failed to bat over .200 in a Reds uniform while Jagielo never got to wear one.
The most important and impactful rebuild trade was the Alfredo Simon trade with the Tigers that brought in Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan Crawford. Crawford is a career minor leaguer, but Suarez is an All-Star. In retrospect, one might ask “How did the Reds get Suarez for Simon?!” Alfredo Simon was 8-12 with a 5.18 ERA and -.4 WAR with the Baltimore Orioles when the Reds snagged him off waivers in April 2012. He was a starter, then a reliever, then a spot starter, then back to reliever, and he really didn’t have a fit in Baltimore. Simon was a better waiver claim than Scooter Gennett (HOT TAKE ALERT). Simon had a 26-23 record with a 4.06 ERA and 2.0 WAR in his four seasons as a Red that included a 15-10 All-Star season in 2015. For some reason it felt like a fluke. He couldn’t keep this up, right? Right.
Following the season, the Reds made a smart move to shop Simon and trade him to the Tigers. Simon’s $5.5 million contract might have looked like his 5.05 ERA, but that was not his value. Simon was let go after one season in Detroit. The Reds brought him back on one of those awkward return to the Reds and get cut in June deals we are all familiar with. Suarez, on the other hand, has developed into one of the top third basemen in the league.
With the Tigers, Suarez was a top-10 prospect in their organization clocking in around the seven to nine range. The Venezuelan shortstop played 81 games with the Tigers in 2014. When he came over in a winter trade, Zack Cozart manned short forcing Suarez to AAA Louisville. After Cozart suffered an injury, Suarez got his chance. He hit 13 home runs while batting .280 in 97 games. Cincinnati needed to find him at-bats, moving forward, making Frazier expendable, at that time.
Suarez had a monster 2018 season that he hopes to build off of, going into 2019. Amongst third basemen, he was second in home runs and RBI while ranking top-5 in walks, Slugging percentage, and WAR. He committed 23 errors which is the least he has made in a Reds uniform. Before the season Cincinnati locked up Suarez with a 7-year $66 million dollar extension. A deal that sets the Reds up to succeed now and in the future.
The value of this deal is incredibly important for the Reds and their rebuild. The Reds now have a special talent at third on a deal that gives the team more money to spend elsewhere. Compare Suarez salary of $7 million, average annual value, to third basemen around the league: Rendon ($18+), Bryant ($12+), Turner ($19), Carpenter ($14+), Arenado ($26), Seager ($19), Longoria ($14+), Frazier ($9), Prado *squints eyes* ($15). The most Suarez will make is $15 million in 2025, his age 33 season. Another aspect of this contract is it does not last until he is old and potentially not playing at the same level. The issue with the Machado and Harper signings is that teams do not want a big price tag on an aging player (Albert Pujols). Machado is due $30 million dollars in the last year of his contract when he will be 35 years old. We will have to wait and see how that plays out.
Now that the Reds have Suarez locked up what should fans expect from him? Since becoming the everyday third baseman, each year he has increased his home runs, RBI, average, WAR, and extra-base hits. At only 27 years old (28 in July) he is entering the prime of his career. The Reds will field more offensive talent in 2019. Gaining Puig, Kemp, Senzel, and getting Jesse Winker back will only help Suarez. This could lead to more at-bats with runners on. His slot in the batting order is not locked in yet, but he should fall in the 4-6 range. In 2019 Suarez saw the most at-bats in the 5 hole (336) batting .259 with a .368 OBP hitting 13 home runs and driving in 46. When batting 6th his stats were .282 avg., .392 OBP, 9 home runs, 23 RBI in only 124 at-bats.
Regardless of where he hits, he will hit. I am looking forward to this year for Suarez and many more years to come. The Reds have positions to fill for this year and the near future, third base is not one.
Have Some Faith in The Rotation
The Cincinnati Reds are going to have eight bullpen arms on the everyday major league roster. Let’s make heads or tails of this.
For a large portion of the 2018 season the Cincinnati Reds carried eight relievers. While I absolutely hated it, I completely understood it. The Reds starting rotation was lucky to finish the sixth inning. Pitch counts often were creeping towards 100 pitches by the end of the fifth inning. The rotation itself, outside of Castillo and Harvey, seemed to be in constant flux due to injuries and poor performances.
On paper, the 2019 Cincinnnati Reds rotation appears to be about as middle of the road as you can get. Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, Disco, Alex Wood and now Tyler Mahle are all at least middle of the rotation guys . They will eat innings for your team if nothing else. I am expecting these guys to put up 6 innings nearly every appearance. Hopefully they will add plenty of quality starts, to boot. Why would you need eight relievers to back them up?
Madison Bumgarner said it best when referring to the idea of a bullpen opener, “If you’re using an opener in my game, I’m walking right out of the ballpark.” I think it’s an insult to starting pitchers for their goal to be complete 5 innings and hand the rest off to the bullpen. This leads me to believe there will be one bullpen pitcher that is extremely under utilized when he could be getting innings in the minors.
Meanwhile, the Reds are showing more roster depth on the bench than we have ever seen in the past 20 years. Rather than opting to have a fifth bench player, with a solid bat, you would rather use that position for an excessive amount of relievers. Matt Kemp, Scott Schebler, Jose Iglesias, Derek Dietrich, Phillip Ervin and Nick Senzel are all bats that could be getting significant playing time in the majors. All of which will have a significant impact on scoring runs and winning games for this team. It makes zero sense to me how you can justify using that roster spot for a player who will, maybe, pitch one or two innings a week at most. I think it also shows little faith in a rejuvenated rotation. While I don’t believe or expect this rotation to be as good as the 2012 Reds. I do expect them not to be warming up the bullpen in the fifth inning nearly every night.
Opening Day: Cincinnati’s Holiday
Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds means so much more to this city than, pretty much, any other day.
No one does Opening Day like Cincinnati.
As an adult Opening Day is the only day I get to act like a kid again. No matter how good or bad the team is going to be, Opening Day in Cincinnati is always treated the same by the fan base. The one day of every year everyone who lives in the city has there minds on one thing…Cincinnati Reds baseball.
This year in particular is marked with serious celebration. The Cincinnati Reds are celebrating their 150th season since their beginnings in 1869 playing at the Union Ground close to Union Terminal. The annual holiday is also marked by the biggest yearly parade the town has to offer in the Findlay Markey Parade. The parade itself is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this season. For a kid this is one of the coolest things you can witness as a Reds fan. All kinds of local high schools, kids baseball teams, local celebrities, local charities, veterans, former and even current Reds players participate.
Thanks to the lovely development of the riverbank area we are now able to take place in the most exciting party of the year. The Reds Opening Day Block Party at the Banks is THE event for Reds fan. Which, if you’re a baseball fan, is a guarenteed blast. Even better, the party raises a huge amount of money for the Reds Community Fund. There you can find all your local favorite foods (Skyline, LaRosa’s) lining the Banks with the cheapest alcohol you can find all season that close to the stadium. Live music and plenty of giveaways are passed out among the crowd. If mingling in the streets isn’t your fancy there are plenty of overly crowded restaurants where you can hang out. Most of them provide an exciting atmosphere during the game just like any other packed Reds game.
I personally have many experiences with Opening Day. In 1992, Opening Day also happened to fall upon my younger brother Adam’s arrival to planet Earth. When I arrived at the hospital I had zero interest in the newest addition to our family. I was more concerned about getting home in time to watch Opening Day and the NCAA Finals. At one of the mid 90’s Opening Days I was interviewed by the local news. The interview made me feel like a celebrity at the time. In 1996 I was a infuriated when after just a few pitches the game was cancelled because the umpire keeled over and never got back up. As an adult I feel terrible about that moment because he died from cardiac arrest. In the moment all I cared about was Opening Day.
I remember in 2000 being there to witness Ken Griffey Jr. for the first time in a Reds uniform. The Reds got what seemed to be a dream come true in the best player in the MLB at the time. Junior was the guy whose video game you owned, cleats you bought, and swing you emulated. We were going to be able to see him every night instead of just the highlights on Sportscenter. The team seemed to be on it’s way to becoming a powerhouse of the NL Central for years to come with his addition. The game itself was lackluster. It’s the only recorded tie 3-3 in the teams Opening Day history. Ultimately the hype exceeded reality with Junior’s tenure in Cincinnati. However, when he walked out on the field that day you would have thought the rebirth of the Big Red Machine took place.
I was present for Aaron Boone’s sac fly scoring Larkin in 2002, Joe Randa’s walk off homer in 2005, and Ramon Hernandez’s walk off in 2011. I have awkwardly ran into teachers and ex girlfriends during this holiday. However, my all time favorite Opening Day moment took place last year.
Opening Day 2018 I was interviewed by the local news. My brother was kind enough to take several still shots of my interview. Before I had even seen the footage he was kind enough to post a picture so amazing I want it shown at my funeral. Whenever they interview you on the news it usually will say your name and a short description about you. My description originally read Dave Pemberton: Reds Fan. My brother’s edited version said Dave Pemberton: Local Fat Kid. All of my close friends and family thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen. I loved it so much I used it as my fantasy football name. I guess this is payback for not wanting to hang out at the hospital with him when he was born on Opening Day all those years ago.
I hope all of Reds Country is able to participate and attend Opening Day at some point in their lives. Even those fair-weathered fans who have attended Opening Day will probably tell you it’s a must if you live in Cincinnati. For this Local Fat Kid it will always the best holiday of the year.
Losing Scooter Gennett for the chunk of time they are about to, puts the pressure on the Cincinnati Reds from the word go.
Scooter Gennett went down Friday afternoon with a groin injury. It was announced Saturday afternoon that he would be returning after 8-12 weeks. At best that puts him back in the middle of May and at worst middle of June.
Scooter is a vital part of this team. In his two years with the Cincinnati Reds, Scooter’s career has seen a revival. Gennett’s career in Cincinnati has totaled him a .303 AVG, .351 OBP, 50 HR, and tied a team best with Suarez for highest WAR in 2018 with 4.2. He was almost able to win a batting title last season on his way to an All-Star season. We must not also forget this guy wants to remain a Red after the 2019 season when his contract’s up. All the signs point toward Scooter putting up more amazing totals this year for the Reds. Missing Scooter for 2-3 months will have a significant impact on the teams win total.
On the surface there were three real options to replace Gennett till his return. This is in the order of how I expected the Reds to make this decision.
- Move Senzel to 2B for Opening Day. Get Senzel at least two months of playing time at the position he may very well start Opening Day in 2020. When Scooter returns move him back to CF.
- Derek Dietrich being left handed would be the second best option. Dietrich also has similar numbers to Iglesias at the plate.
- Jose Iglesias has played little at 2B but is a better glove than Dietrich. Move Pereza to 2B and Iglesias to SS as a temporary fix till Senzel is called up.
Dick Williams and David Bell announced today that the last option was what they are going to implement. As a part of that though they also announced Senzel will continue to play CF in Louisville and the Reds will roster Kyle Farmer on the bench to start the season. This move seems to go against the entire direction of moves the team has made this offseason. That direction being we are ready to win NOW.
This move to me says they are playing the baseball economics over winning now. On the surface this move can be justified as gaining one more year of contract control over Senzel. Schebler for what it’s worth put up stellar numbers in Spring Training. On paper he would be the better choice to start CF.
However as I said before Senzel’s time is NOW. If the Reds front office is serious about winning now there’s no reason Senzel doesn’t start in Scooter’s absence. Nick Senzel is ranked the number 6 top prospect in all of baseball. Many believe he could win batting titles in the future. Senzel has shown he’s willing to play anywhere to get himself on the roster. He’s put up a .314 AVG and .390 OBP during his minor league career. I personally think once he is given the opportunity he’s going to be the frontrunner for the Rookie of The Year. I’m a big fan of history. History shows when the Reds tried doing this last year it backfired horrendously when Senzel ended up needing season ending surgery. Why wouldn’t you want that guy on your team as soon as possible?
I truly hope this is just us getting worked up over nothing. Leading to Senzel seeing serious playing time in just two weeks as the starting 2B. While in between Iglesias, Dietrich, and Farmer are able to start out the season on fire. Otherwise the front office needs to be more up front with there plans on Nick Senzel. Finally I probably shouldn’t complain about this at all. None of these options are bad at all. After all none of the players mentioned as replacements were named Gosselin, Pennington, Kivlehan, Alcantara, Dixon, or Herrera.