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Cincinnati Reds

Do they know what they’re doing?

James Rapien



It’s getting harder and harder to buy into the Reds’ rebuild. Who do you trust? Who is going to turn this organization around? Does anyone at Great American Ballpark have a plan?

A successful rebuild should be well thought-out. There should be a plan in place and the organization would stick to it. The Reds are making it up as they go along. They may say that’s not the case, but their actions speak volumes.

There’s no way I want Jim Riggleman near the rebuild. That sounds harsh, but he went from calling Jesse Winker the “odd man out” in the outfield on Wednesday, to putting him in the starting lineup on Friday.

Maybe he read my article on benching Winker. He might’ve heard the entire fan base groan and roll their eyes at such an ignorant move.

There’s no way a manager leading the rebuild should be yo-yoing Winker around like a child’s toy. He absolutely needs to play, but putting him in the starting lineup one game after you publicly said he’s the “odd man out” shows the Reds are making it up as they go along.

Winker went 0-for-3 yesterday with a walk. Does anyone expect him to have confidence when they benched him two days prior? If the Reds actually took the time to review this as an organization, they would’ve realized Adam Duvall’s trade value wasn’t going to change much, even if he played every day.

They would’ve known that Winker was a defensive liability coming into the season and wouldn’t have been shocked to see him struggle at times. The Reds might’ve decided to keep Winker in Triple-A to start the season – he could improve defensively and Duvall might’ve gotten off to a better start.

Does anything about the Reds’ baseball operations say, “yes, we’re organized.” Do you think they’ve planned ahead?

“With all of these off days and I do the math – Jesse hadn’t played for a few days,” Riggleman told Marty Brennaman on Friday. “Now we got a couple off days coming up. We just can’t have Jesse sitting that much. He’s a talented young hitter. I won’t say that it’s going to be a rotation like it was before, but certainly I’m going to get Jesse’s bat in there. I’ve rethought it. I just don’t want him to be sitting four and five days at a time and just pinch-hitting. We want to get him in there. He’s working very hard on his defense. He’s out there with Billy Hatcher constantly trying to improve his defense.”

I’m glad they changed their tune on Winker, even if it’s a slight change. Maybe Dick Williams or Nick Krall told Riggleman that he needed to be in the lineup more regularly. I hope that is the case. Even if it is, it never should’ve gotten to this point.

The Reds remind me of a college kid wondering what they’re going to do with their life. Once upon a time you were in that position or you know someone who was. It’s okay to not have a plan in place at 18-years old. I have friends that changed their majors in college multiple times.

Some went to vocational school, didn’t like it and switched career paths. You can make things up as you go along when you’re an 18-year-old trying to figure out what’s next.

The Reds can’t be like the 18-year-old who doesn’t know what major to pick. They need to create a plan and stick to it. This isn’t just about Winker. Does it feel like they have a plan for Amir Garrett?

He’s thrived in the bullpen, but weren’t we under the impression that he was going to start at some point?

Can I trust them to make the right decision with Scooter Gennett? Do they have any clue what they’re going to do with him?

They should have a plan. Maybe they extend him and he plays in the outfield next year. Maybe they get a solid offer for him and decide to trade him. I can get on board with both, but the plan should already be in place.

What does the future hold for Nick Senzel? He’s the top prospect in the organization and there’s no clear path to get him to the majors. He should play for the Reds this year, but what position?

They extended Eugenio Suarez, which made a lot of sense. I was on board with that decision. It also means Senzel needed to switch positions. They played him shortstop in spring training, just to move to second base in Triple-A Louisville when the season started.

What’s the plan for him?

It’d be one thing if this organization had established winners running the show. If Williams and Krall had a proven track record, then I could ignore some of this. They’re as unproven as a kid fresh out of high school, who doesn’t have a plan for the future.

If the Cleveland Browns yo-yoed one of their young players with potential, for a nearly 30-year-old journeymen, would you buy into their future? What if this was the Miami Marlins or the Sacramento Kings?

We would laugh at those organizations from afar and rightfully so. Who do the Reds’ resemble more – the St. Louis Cardinals or the Baltimore Orioles?

Sometimes we fall in love with the history of an organization. The Reds have won nine National League Pennants and five World Series Championships, but that doesn’t mean anyone should trust them to turn this around.

This front office is comparable to some of the least successful organizations in all of sports. It’s not up to me to write and say nice things about them. It’s not up to fans to blindly buy into the rebuild.

It’s up to the organization to prove itself. Williams and Krall need to put the correct plan in place. If they can’t do that, then this rebuild is far from over.

You can listen to Riggleman’s entire sound bite on Winker being in the starting lineup Friday night in the clip below:

James covers the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds for ESPN 1530 and 700 WLW in Cincinnati. He hosts shows on both stations, including Cincy 3:60 from 12pm-1pm daily on ESPN 1530. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Feel free to email him your ideas, fantasy football questions and hot takes.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Mike D

    June 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    I have little faith in the rebuild…while other mediocre/poor/awful teams Are trafing their better players for legit prospects, the reds are getting pennies on the dollar…they still have managed to catch lightning in a bottle a few times (Gennett off waivers, Duvall had some moments) but they clearly havent gotten enough back (check: White Sox/Yankees). The drafting has been meh to bleh until years ago, and they still can’t find much pitching. If I hear they draft Madrigal 15 minutes from now, I might eat my remote control…about the only positions they DON’T need a major league ready player at are 2nd and 3rd, and Madrigal is NOT considered a very good defensive shortstop…pitcher catcher high ceiling high school outfielders are needed…but Madrigal just means they will move Senzel AGAIN. Sigh..

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Cincinnati Reds

How a Shortened Season can Help and Hurt the Reds

step back and attempt to look at the way the Reds can benefit from a possible shortened season and how it could hurt them.

Clay Snowden



The world is in an obscure and unsure place. Today we were supposed to be watching a parade and cheering on the Redlegs. Instead, we are confused about the future of the 2020 season as we watch the 7th straight episode of a Netflix series, perfecting social distancing. How the 2020 season will be played has yet to be determined. I want to take a step back and attempt to look at the way the Reds can benefit from a possible shortened season and how it could hurt them.

Each day that passes without baseball is a day closer to a season without 162 games. For the sake of argument, let’s say the season is somewhere between 75-100 games. What ways can that benefit the Reds?

1. They can get healthy. Suarez, Senzel, and Galvis (amongst others) have battled some spring injuries. Extra time off only helps their recovery and could lead to a 100% healthy “Opening Day” lineup. Although Galvis is not a top ten talent at short, he is much better than the current back up options. Luckily, he should be ready to go and 100%.

2. The rotation can be a great strength. We all know how strong the current rotation is. The Reds could adjust the strategy because you won’t be worried about getting starters 32 starts and 200ish innings. With a compact season, you could let starters go deeper in games, or even go to a shorter rotation because you won’t be trying to strength out the innings over several months. Bauer and Disco are both on contract years and will be laser-focused on making the most of their fewer starts to prove their value come next offseason. If the league goes heavy on doubleheaders, Mahle and a few others could step up into the expanded rotation and stronger than many team’s depth starters.

3. How a shorten season benefits Votto? As Joey ages, he will need more days off, especially if the decline is steady. If Joey does not have to prepare himself for 162 games, it could lead to better results as he would be fresher. We all know he can get off to slow starts and avoiding that would be crucial in a shortened season.

How can the shortened season hurt the Reds?

1. David Bell is still a new manager. Fresh, unproven, inexperienced. At times in 2019, he cost the Reds some games. There is little to no margin for error in a short season. Each game means more and the lineup experimenting with playing players out of position won’t fly. Managerial experience will be extremely important in 2020 and hopefully Bell has improved after year one.

2. Lack of important experience for prospects. Tyler Stephenson, Jose Garcia, Jonathan India, and many other prospects are missing out on developmental time. This one really stings. A couple of the Reds top prospects are projected to be on the 2021 roster but needed some time in higher levels of the minors to learn and iron out a few things. You can train and work with coaches during this time, but the actual game experience cannot be overlooked.

3. Pressure. Obviously, every game counts each season. But a shortened season stresses the importance of each game. The Reds cannot afford to go on a losing streak as they did at the beginning of 2019. The expectations for 2020 remain high, and the pressure to perform is building. The adjustment to the MLB for Shogo must happen fast. Senzel has to stay healthy. The margin of error shrinks and pressure goes up. Iglesias cannot struggle to close out games or he’ll be replaced.

The 2020 season won’t be ideal. No one wants it to be this way. Watching 162 games a year is a joy and I will miss the routine of watching the Reds every night. Let’s hope this shortened season feels and plays like a playoff series where every aspect of the game is emphasized and more important. Here’s to everyone staying safe and healthy, and the Reds winning the pennant.

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Cincinnati Reds

March Mailbag

Take a look at a few thoughts before we get this 2020 season underway!

Clay Snowden



© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

What is this team’s greatest weakness and how do they go about addressing it? (@GeraldSHuber)

To me, it has to be defense. (Here’s an article I wrote about it: ). Tucker and Casali are fine but not spectacular, Votto is mediocre, Moose is an unknown, and the outfield defense leaves you wanting more. Galvis is great at short, but many others could be troublesome. If defense is your greatest weakness, you probably have a pretty good team.

How many years until we see Jose Garcia? (@smoffe87)

Everyone’s new favorite prospect, and he should be. The future is bright. Garcia has yet to reach AA, where he’ll likely start this season. In high A Daytona he hit .280/.343/.436 with 8 HR and 37 (!) doubles. No need to rush the 21-year-old, but he likely is the SS in 2021 if all goes according to plan. The lack of depth at SS could rush him if injuries happen or he hits the cover off the ball.

Who will lead off? What do they do with Schebler, Reed, Mahle, and other players without options? (@StachlerJames)

Shogo Akiyama should see time as the leadoff. A career .376 OBP who has been closer to .400 in recent years (NPB league) has a chance to be a real difference maker.

Schebler, I think, will end up being traded or DFA. Reed has a tough first start, but its early and he looked great in limited time last season. Another lefty in the pen not named Peralta or Duke is welcomed. Mahle has an option and likely is headed to Louisville to get regular starts. The Reds will likely need him to start at some point during the season. Sims likely earns a pen spot, Travis Jankowski could be the final spot if injuries occur. His speed and defense are useful.

Is Senzel going to be a utility player or end up getting traded? (@GerryYnciarte65)

Being a super utility is not a bad thing. Ben Zobrist was a hell of a player in that role. However, I think Senzel will be seeing plenty of time in CF splitting with Akiyama. His bat is too good to be a true bench player. I don’t think he will be traded. It feels like he would have already been moved if that was the plan.


If Tucker or Casali get hurt do they let Farmer catch or Stephenson? (@OdeToRedsWS)

Catcher organizational depth is lacking. Stephenson could be the option if he is hitting well in AAA Louisville. I think we see him at some point this season. Only other catcher in the organization with MLB experience besides Casali and Tucker is Francisco Pena (190 AB .216/.249/.311). His stats are underwhelming at the plate but he’s a veteran and that carries value. Sadly, I doubt we see former Red great Ryan Lavarnway in 2020. Add Garcia and Stephenson to this lineup in 2021 and that team is very strong.


Over/Under….When do the Reds give up on the mix-n-match platoon ideas and have a regular lineup? Line is May 31st. (MTGPackFoils)  

The days of the “same lineup everyday” are gone. And they should be. Putting out the same lineup doesn’t always mean the results will follow. Some players hit lefties but not righties and some hit righties and not lefties. Play the best players for each situation. Platooning can lead to the best results at times. So OVER. (More on that here:


What are your thoughts on Shogo playing mostly center or left, if Senzel is healthy? (@Win1SuperBowl)

As it stands today, the outfield is crowded. It will play itself out. Akiyama can play all three OF positions and I could see him getting at-bats in the corner OF when Senzel is in CF. There’s true competition for at-bats this season and that’s absolutely a good thing. Players will have to earn their playing time.

Who is the backup SS? (@GebzillaG)

Kyle Famer. He ‘s such a unique player who can play all over the field. He was a college SS and has worked their early this spring. Across all levels he’s seen 76 innings at SS and hasn’t recorded and error. Blandino could also be the back up SS. Blandino has 60.2 innings at short in the MLB and is a .941 fielder there. 1692 innings at short in the minors with a .951 fielding %.

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Cincinnati Reds

Life after Votto: The Future at First

Who will man first base in a few years?

Clay Snowden



© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training is a time for roster debate. Constructing Opening Day rosters and batting orders is always a fun topic on #RedsTwitter. Since 2008, one name you can write in with Sharpie has been Votto, 1B. The MVP and 6-time all-star has earned that right due to his elite hitting and plate discipline. Entering his 14th season at age 36 many start to wonder….who’s next at first? Signed through 2023 with a 2024 team option with plenty of money attached, it appears Joey will retire as a Red. Finding his eventual replacement might be harder than it looks.

Since 2015, 3 names that are still in the organization have appeared on top 30 list.

Ibandel Isabel #30 (2019) – Acquired from the Dodgers, Isabel brought legit power to the organization. In 2018 he hit a combined 36 home runs tied for the most of any minor leaguer. Like many power hitters, he struck out a ton, 161 times to be exact. 2019 he smashed 26 home runs with 153 strikeouts and an underwhelming .307 OBP. Each of the past two seasons he has hit more than twice as many home runs than doubles. Raw power is great, but he does not stand out in other aspects and likely is a one trick pony.

Bren Spillane #25 (2018) – 3rd rounder in 2018, Spillane spent 2019 in Dayton. .207/.302/.324 with 10 2B and 5 home runs to go along with 104 strikeouts. He did see some time at 3B and corner OF but will need to cut down on strikeouts and show his power potential to have any shot at seeing time at the MLB level.

Gavin LaValley #20 (2017) – LaValley spent 2019 in AA Chattanooga where he slashed .254/.339/.396 with 22 2B 10 home runs and struck out 111 times and walked 47 times. He saw more time at third but made 13 errors there. The 25-year-old former 4th round pick is not exactly an exciting option moving forward.

Other names that saw some time at first in the system: Samir Duenez (.211/.270/.314 in AA) Bruce Yari (.255/.330/.347 A Daytona) Cameron Warren (.257/.333/.353 A Dayton) are 20 plus round picks and minor league free agents who have a long way to go. The Reds signed Cuban 1B/3B Michael Triana last February and he is somewhat of an unknown and is still very young.

So…. where do the Reds go from here? Well if the DH comes to the NL, Votto could play DH and Moustakas could move over to first as he ages out of 2B. VanMeter can play first but I doubt he is the future there. Two prospects that haven’t played first but could make the change are Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson.

Players moving from their primary position to first base is nothing new. Many poor fielders or older players take this route. Currently, India is blocked at third and second. He’s logged 65 innings at SS, but moving to first is much easier than short. If not traded, a position change is needed. Corner outfield is possible but moving to first shouldn’t be ruled out.

Tyler Stephenson is a hell of a prospect. Now, let’s be clear…I think he will have years behind the plate in a Reds uniform. However, moving to first in the future could be possible. Stephenson stands at 6-4 and there simply aren’t a lot of 6-4 catchers. Of the 114 MLB players to log innings at catcher, 7 (6%) were 6-4 or taller with only 1 (Grayson Greiner 6-6) being taller than 6-4. While Stephenson has improved behind the plate, his bat is how he’s earned his name on prospect list. The most important thing is to find a way to get his bat in the lineup. Catching is a defense first focus for most MLB teams (example: Jeff Mathis) so making the transition to first is not out of question.

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