The date is July 26th, 2015. The Cincinnati Reds are filled with aging veterans with contracts at the end of their terms. They either have to go all in for one last playoff run, or start over, rebuild, and try to hoard as much young talent their farm system can handle.
For the Reds, the option was simple. In fact they began offloading players Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon (still kicking at this one) before the season even began. We’ve been stuck peeling this pesky rebuild sticker over our logo ever since.The trade I’m looking back at specifically is Johnny Cueto’s departure to Kansas City. In return for the ace-caliber pitcher, the Cincinnati Reds received pitchers Cody Reed, John Lamb, and Brandon Finnegan.
Last year, Brandon Finnegan struggled in only 20.2 IP to the tune of a 7.40 ERA before a demotion to Louisville ended his struggles. Just kidding, he struggled there too hurling 67.2 IP of 7.05 baseball. Yeesh.
This came at a somewhat surprise for Finnegan. Previously, he had been a bright, young pitcher with aspirations to lead the top half of a rotation. An ERA of 3.56 from 2015 to 2017 supports that notion.
Whatever the reasons for his struggles, Finnegan entered Spring Training on the outside looking in after a wave of transactions to shore up the rotation put locks on the starting 5. As we try to find a path for Finnegan, consider that Reds manager David Bell has stated recently he intends to carry 13 pitchers into the first game of the season helps.
Quick, let’s pencil in who’s who for our way-too-early-pitching-staff-barring-injury-because-that’s-not-hasty-right?
Setting aside the starting 5, quick math (hm. Carry the 1, hm yes.) tells us we have an 8-man bullpen to work with. Key players from last year such as Raisel Iglesias, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Michael Lorenzen, and Amir Garrett can be sharpied in after solid 2018 seasons. Recently acquired reliever Zach Duke figures to be penciled in with his one-year deal. Leaving us with two spots left to be scooped up by Tyler Mahle, Cody Reed, Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Wandy Peralta, Lucas Sims, (Tim Adleman apparently?) and of course our main protagonist, Brandon Kyle Finnegan.
If I’m a betting man, Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano figure to be on the inside track based on last years numbers, although I could be persuaded to have them stick around and start in Louisville, instead of sitting in Cincy. Mainly in case of injuries. However, recent comments made by Bell seem to put Finnegan in a good spot for Opening Day. He had this to say after Finnegan’s perfect inning against the Giants last Tuesday.
“He’ll have a spot. Our approach is really just to build him up to a point of keeping the options open. Two, three, four innings and kind of seeing where we are, seeing how the staff shapes up. Just allowing him to be in a good spot with his workload to where he can slot in and help us at any point in any role.”Reported by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com
In Thursday’s game against Milwaukee, Finnegan was roughed up for 5 runs, admittedly only 1 run was earned thanks to a wild pitch and a fielding error in 0.2 innings of work.
I know, I know. It’s not wise to look too much into spring training stats, especially in such a short period of work, but Brandon Finnegan figures to have to impress some coaches to earn a spot on the roster. If not, Finnegan could find himself packaged in another trade, pitching in Louisville once more, or be sent out on waivers on short notice.
If you’re Brandon Finnegan, it’s not impossible to dream. We Reds fans are all too familiar of dreaming these past couple of seasons. Looking at what Finnegan did in the bullpen as a rookie for the World Series winning Kansas City Royals sparks some good dreaming material to me, and it should do the same to you.
On a different note, I’d like to add that making a mountain out of a molehill on who gets the last couple pitching roster spots just shows how far the Reds as a team have come this year. In previous years, this could have been potentially your #3 or #4 starter staring back at you. Perhaps an omen of our dreams turning into reality is in order.
Should the Reds Sign or Trade Puig?
With the way he has struggled, and the Reds’ current pace, we may see Puig on the move before the trade deadline.
Yasiel Puig gave this team energy in December. The Cincinnati Reds haven’t had excitement in December in years. Acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, Puig came to town with a lot of buzz. You may remember him parading around town posting on social media about how much he loved Cincinnati and how excited he was to be a Red. I was thrilled. The talks of 30+ home runs and reaping the benefits of GABP had many fans following the Reds once again. Fast forward to mid- June and no one is too excited about the .213 hitter. The Reds’ chances at making the playoffs seems slim and it might be time to move some rentals. With an expiring contract the question is this: should the Reds look to trade Puig at the deadline?
One thing we all know about Puig is that he’s an emotional player and a big personality. This season, hitting and getting on base has been a struggle for the Wild Horse. A .213 average and a *squints* .256 on-base percentage are awful. 62 K’s to 13 walks is not pretty, either. Sitting at a -0.3 WAR you wonder what’s going on. 11 home runs and 9 stolen bases are positives. He has a strong arm in the outfield as well. While a walk off hit and “I am going to fight an entire Pirates’ team” were memorable moments of the season and, fun as hell, I am not sure if he’ll have a chance to make many more moments like these. So what teams are looking for a corner outfielder who is struggling and is maybe “a bit too much of a personality” for some? That might be the problem. The first corner outfielder off the market was Jay Bruce (name sounds familiar) to the Phillies. The amount of contending teams needing a corner outfield bat is not high and honestly there are simply better options available.
On paper, you would not see a larger return for a player with his stats. Look at his track record, a career .273 hitter that is no doubt a talented player. It might take an injury on a contending team to get his value up. A trade of “we lost a player and need to replace him” not a “let’s see if we can upgrade from our current player” type of trade. When the Reds traded Bruce to the Mets they took a flyer on an injured former high prospect Dilson Herrera. Sometimes taking a flyer on a prospect who might need a change of scenery can pay off big time. Someone did mention they could trade him and try to sign him back in the offseason. While true, I think the Reds would not trade him if they plan to sign him to an extension.
Signing Puig to an extension would pretty much set the outfield for a few years. Winker, Senzel (assuming he stays there), Puig. But with Taylor Trammell approaching quickly where would that put him? Ervin, Schebler, Sirri, Siani, and others could play a role in the future. Puig is not going to be cheap, either. What he does from here on out will give us a better idea but at only 28 years old he has many years left in him. Plenty of expiring contracts will need to be resigned and, well, the Reds don’t have Yankees-type money.
The trade deadline is coming soon and the Reds making the playoffs is very unlikely. Look for the front office to move some players for prospects and for Puig to be a prominently rumored player on the move.
Locked On Reds – 6/13/2019 Reds Split with Indians
Thursday’s episode is up!
Scooter Get Off The Pot
Scooter Gennett is a dude who will be hard to say goodbye to. The team’s current makeup, however, makes it seem that is coming, sooner rather than later.
Jeff has brought up a lot of talk about who we as fans would hate to see get traded this year. For me there is only one answer. Scooter Gennett.
Without a doubt it has to be him. While I completely understand if they do from a financial and bigger picture stand point, it will eat my soul. I haven’t seen a Cincinnati native this well liked since Barry Larkin.
Everything about him including his name screams a Cincinnati Reds ballplayer. You can see it in his play, character, leadership, and communication that this guy LOVES playing for his home town team. The man is already a Reds legend after smacking 4 home runs in a game. A game that, by sheer luck, I was able to witness. It was, by far, the best moment I have ever witnessed in person at GABP. He put up the best numbers of his career in 2017 only to follow it up with a better season as an All Star in 2018.
Scooter has made it clear he would like to remain a Red and loves this organization. I was really hoping the Reds would extend him to a short term deal last season after an incredible season that almost saw him win a batting title. I even tried starting the #ScooterGetOffThePot trend. Instead, like many things in recent memory with this team, good things go wrong quickly. He suffered the worst injury of his career with a severe strained groin.
Making the case for extending him even more difficult has been the off-the-wall performance by Derek Dietrich. Another free agent find who has been as wildly entertaining and likable. Dietrich has already made himself the face of the team this year with his kid like swagger for the game. Dietrich was just named second basemen of the month of May by the MLB. Per Stats by STATS Dietrich played in 55 games with a .706 slugging percentage. The only other player in baseball history to match that in there first 55 game with an organization was a HOF 2B Rogers Hornsby. The Reds also have control of Dietrich’s contract next season being an arbitration year. If you remove Dietrich from the equation it’s not any better.
Jose Iglesias is a must start for this team, currently, at shortstop. Iglesias is the best defensive infielder the team has had since Brandon Phillips. Iglesias also currently holds the highest batting average on the team nearly two months into the season. Meaning Jose Peraza has no place left to play but filling in for guys on their day off. Peraza also seems like a guy that, come next season, will more than likely be the starting shortstop simply because of his age and salary.
The Reds have their current center fielder, Nick Senzel, who has been the spark to this offense since coming up to the big leagues. The Reds have averaged nearly 2 more runs a game since Senzel has been playing for the team. Senzel definently stands a chance to be Rookie of the Year. Most importantly he seems to a guaranteed core player of this team’s foreseeable future. Senzel is a player who could, hypothetically, be the Reds starting second baseman for 2020. Plus they have Johnathan India, last year’s first round pick, quickly making his way up through the minors. He could potentially take that spot if not next season the following year.
None of this leads me to believe Scooter will be playing for this team next year. He is the perfect trading chip if they are looking to have a sale at the trade deadline or add a missing piece as well. I think what I enjoy about Scooter Gennett most is his GRIT. There is no denying the dude has GRIT. Something many of the players on this team currently do not have. More than anything that is why I will hate if he is traded.