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 MLB.com 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.
Reds vs Brewers Series Preview
The Reds begin a pivotal series with the Brewers on Friday night. Let’s break it down.
The Reds just lost 13-0 to the Indians making their record 5-8 and 5.5 game back. The same team many of us thought would contend for the division has struggled early in this shortened season. The starting pitching has been incredible. Without them, this team would be in the basement. The offense has had spurts, but some of the big names have struggled. Suarez is hitting .091 while starters like Galvis, Winker, and Barnhart are at or below .200. Luckily, 34 of the next 38 games are against the NL Central and the Reds will have a better chance to climb the standings and see how they match up against divisional foes.
August 7th 8:10 Bauer vs. Lauer
BAUER LAUER matchup! The announcers will love that I’m sure. Bauer has been stellar. .68 ERA 20 K’s in 13.1 innings. He is looking like the pitcher the Reds thought he would be when they brought him over last year. Lauer is a good young pitcher who has only pitched 2.2 innings but struck out 6.
It will be interesting to see how Bell plays the lineup. In need of a spark, does he change the order? Lauer is a lefty so will Ervin play? He’s only hitting .067 (1-10 vs. LHP) but his track record versus LHP is great.
August 8th 7:10 DeSclanfani vs Anderson
Disco looked fantastic in his first and only start. 5 innings giving up 3 hits and striking out two. He was picked up where he left off at the end of last season. Anderson, another LHP, had his start ended early due to a ball off his foot. The veteran has always been a solid starter and facing a LHP two days in a row will likely be a similar lineup as the (vs) Lauer lineup. Feels like a series that Senzel can get going against LHP. He’s 1-8 against south paws this season and here’s an opportunity to get going against them.
August 9th 2:10 Gray vs Woodruff
Sonny Gray has been lights out. Cy Young level. 3-0 .96 ERA 28 K’s 8 hits in 18.2 innings holding batters to a .129 avg. We all know he’s going to bring it. Woodruff has been great in his 3 starts posting 21 K’s in 17.1 innings and carrying a 2.08 ERA. The first RHP the Brewers will start the lineup will have extra lefties in there. Although a small sample size, here’s how the Reds left handed bats have fared vs RHP:
Galvis (Switch) .259
So far this season has been frustrating. That start we imagined did not look like this. The offense has been struggling at times and the bullpen has been a mess. Facing NL Central teams will help us get a better idea of how the Reds matchup with the division. Hopefully facing pitchers the Reds have seen more often can help as well.
Tigers Reviews & Cubs Preview
Let’s put a bow on the weekend and look forward to the series with the Cubbies.
Friday night was incredible. After months of doom and gloom, we finally were able to sit back and watch the team that we all have been talking about for months. And they delivered. However, the following two games felt worse than your ex dating your best friend. Here is the recap and preview of the next series.
Friday: W 7-1 Vs. DET Saturday: L 4-6 Sunday: L 2-3
Friday was such a tease. The team looked determined, focused, and sharp. The bullpen went 3 hitless innings. The offense flexed its muscles for 7 runs. However, the rest of the series was painful. Disappointing. A reminder of the years Reds fans struggled to get through.
The starting pitching was second to none. Gray went 6 and had 9 K’s. Castillo went 6 with 11 K’s and Bauer went 6.1 with 13 K’s and only gave up 2 hits. Most teams that get starting pitching like that are looking at 3-0, not 1-2.
Let’s start with the bullpen. Brooks Raley, Nate Jones, and Lucas Simms did their job on Friday. Garrett and Strop came in and were effective. However, Lorenzen, Stephenson, and Iglesias all struggled, and it ultimately cost the Reds the game and series. These are the three guys you lean on to hold leads and close out games. Iglesias has not shown he can be trusted, and he should be on a short leash. Lorenzen did pick up some MPH on that fastball, but his pitches were simply too hittable.
What David Bell did was “play the numbers”. Subbing players in and out depending on match up. When it works, he looks like a genius. But often it does not, and it leads to criticism and upset players. In my opinion, players need to get in a rhythm and gets reps as quickly as possible. Taking them out after 2 AB won’t do that. What if this leads to players always worrying about getting replaced, and they struggle because of it. Bell is far from a proven manager, and the only thing shorter than this season is the patience fans have with him.
Trending Up: Casali and Galvis. Both showed patience at the plate, took walks, made solid contact. Getting plus seasons from them could go a long way.
Trending Down: Suarez/Bullpen/Injury. Suarez is sitting at 0-11. Yikes. But he could go off at any moment. Concerned, but not scared. I touched on the bullpen. Moose, Senzel, and Davidson have all missed time. Injuries could derail this season quickly. Watch out for them.
Preview: Chicago Cubs (2-1)
7/27 Lester vs Miley 7/28 Mills vs Mahle 7/29 Hendricks vs Gray 7/30 Darvish vs Castillo
Enough of that American League BS, bring on the hated Cubs. The Cubs won their series versus the Brew crew (W 3-0 / L 3-8 / W 9-1). This four game series against a divisional rival could set the tone for the rest of the season. 36-year-old Jon Lester isn’t the same threat he was a few years back, but a solid #4. Miley will have a chance to show what him and DJ have been working on. Mills posted solid numbers last September in 9 games, but Mahle is out to prove that he belongs and is more than a depth option.
Wednesday is the day you circle on the calendar. Hendricks vs Gray. Hendricks is one of my favorite pitches to watch. He also had 9 K’s on Opening Day and gave up only 3 hits. That could be a HUGE game. Darvish Struggled in his first start allowing 3 runs and 6 hits. Castillo should be able to lead this team against the aging Darvish.
What to watch for:
1) Bullpen Bounce Back
2) Suarez getting on track
3) Bell’s managerial adjustments
4) Reds injuries/ Tucker’s return(?)
Reds Mailbag: 7/08/2020
Let’s brush up on a few burning questions before the season gets going
BASEBALL IS BACK. The 2020 Reds will finally get to see the field. Sure, it will be totally different than we expected, but I’ll take it. Let’s jump into some mailbag questions.
Who will end up being the Reds MVP?
I think you have to go pitcher here. Pitching will be crucial in a shortened season, so let’s go with Luis Castillo. We all know he has the stuff of a true ACE. However, someone like Bauer/another starter playing at an MVP level would be a bigger impact to add to Gray and Castillo. Offensive MVP = Castellanos.
Will the Reds make the NLCS?
Yes. I think the Reds are set up well for a 60 game season. As many have said, the team that remains the heathiest has a huge leg up. The Reds have the starting pitching to have a chance to win each day. The offense should be there as well. Staying healthy is the most important thing to success this season.
Who will the 4 extra players be on the 30 man?
Injuries and illness could cause roster changes, but as of today: Nate Jones, Mark Payton, Tejay Antone, Alex Blandino.
I could be seeing some as locks or part of the “26” that others might see as bubble. Payton must be kept on because of the rule 5 pick or sent back to Oakland, and he shows enough talent. Blandino is the best option as a back up short (defensively) that’s had MLB experience. Jones is great when healthy, and you can’t have too many good arms in the pen. Antone is a guy I have been high on, and his increased velo stands out. He’s a back of the end rotation/Long relief guy.
Will Castellanos play for the Reds past this season?
Yes. Owners are likely to be cheap this offseason. Going into the free agent market hoping to make more than the Reds are set to pay him could be tough. I think Castellanos will love playing in GABP. This ballpark gives him an opportunity to put up big offensive numbers. I expect him to have a huge season.
Any chance Jose Garcia is on the Opening Day roster?
It would take a major injury to Galvis. Even then, I am not sure he would. He is the best pure SS of the back up options, but he hasn’t played above AA. I think if Galvis went down, the Reds might do it. But if Galvis just needs a couple of days off, Blandino/Farmer/”other” could step in.
Don’t get me wrong, I cannot wait to see Garcia take over the everyday SS at bats, but only once they feel he is ready. Who knows, a trade could still happen.
If the Reds win the WS do you think everyone will give it the same respect as a normal season?
Why not? It might even be more difficult to win this year than any other. Strategy will play a larger roll this year than any other. Managers will have to show what they are worth. Someone has to win the World Series this year, might as well be the Reds.