The key to the Cincinnati Reds winning a World Series lies with Nick Senzel. Whether Senzel is in a Reds uniform or not when it happens is still the key to their success. He could easily be the player of the decade for this team or the key trading chip in acquiring the player that brings a championship back to Cincinnati for the first time in over 30 years.
By all accounts almost anyone will tell you the future of this team revolves around Nick Senzel. It’s not hard to believe. On pure athletic ability alone I feel like I haven’t seen a talent like his in a Reds uniform since Barry Larkin. A natural third basemen, through college at Tennessee, he did everything he could to get on this roster as quick as possible.
When the Reds noticed they had a star in Suarez, they asked Senzel to move to second base. In 2018, while Scooter Gennett played an All Star season at second base, Senzel failed to make it to the majors due to an April injury that ended his season. Knowing that second base wasn’t going to be an option in 2019, Senzel learned to play center field at the major league level in just a few months. Not the easiest position to learn overnight let alone be the everyday starter.
Rather than be up front with what they were trying to do with Senzel, the Reds manipulated his service time by not having him on the 2019 Opening Day roster. While we were subjected to a month of Schebler struggling to hit .125, the Reds gained another year of contract control. The Reds would have Nick Senzel under team control through 2026. Senzel was born to hit a baseball. He did it throughout college and all levels of minor leagues. Nick looked, at worst, average at his newest position when he was finally called up May. Let’s not forget he only played 52 games in AAA.
He looked like a pro from his first game. Excellent plate discipline, underrated speed, and passed the eye test for anyone who questioned his hype. While his rookie season was cut short, he had a slash line of .285/.346/.475 entering August. Quickly after they (by they” I mean a hitting coach that is no longer here) asked him to switch his stance and he began dealing with injury and fell off quickly in August before having his season cut short due to injury. Nick Senzel has shown amazing athleticism, grit, and determination to succeed at every level.
The big glaring weak spot on the 2020 Cincinnati Reds roster is without a doubt shortstop. If the Reds do nothing else between now and Opening Day I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for Senzel to be the Cincinnati Reds starting shortstop for the season. Senzel has knocked down any barrier the organization has put in his path. For a natural third basemen I think shortstop would be much more comfortable than an overcrowded outfield. Anyone who knows anything about him has called him the future of this franchise and who this team will be built around this decade. Sports Illustrated just recently published an article predicting the Reds as the 2023 World Series champions led by Nick Senzel. If he’s with this team come Opening Day I’ll still be excited for what he has to offer this franchise. I have little doubt he won’t live up to his hype.
The Reds have been one of the most aggressive teams in baseball, this offseason. Signing Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley, and Shogo Akiyama to shore up their weak spots. Everyone knows that the biggest below-average position on the current roster is shortstop, with Freddy Galvis as the current starter. This offseason hot stove has been a four alarm house fire of rumors. The Reds are still attached to rumors with Marvell Ozuna which would add another person in an outfield of Senzel, Winker, Shogo, Aquino, and Ervin. The writing is on the wall for Senzel. The team has been attached to trade rumors with Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa. Fans have added Corey Seager and Trevor Story to that potential wishlist. The Lindor rumor listed Nick Senzel specifically as a trade target for the Indians. All of these players on the wishlist are projected for at least a 3.9 fWAR or greater by Fangraphs for the 2020 season.
In order for the Reds to become a clear cut favorite in the NL Central and for a serious run deep in the playoffs they MUST get one of these superstars. However, all of these superstars I just listed come with one issue. They are ALL free agents come 2022. Trading Senzel would not mortgage the future as much as a larger package of prospects, in lieu of him, would cause.
Senzel however comes with his own baggage. Senzel’s last two seasons have been cut short by season ending injuries. One was to the index finger on his throwing hand and to repair a torn labrum. This doesn’t include his continued battle with vertigo which has sidelined him in the past. More recently he signed with Scott Boras Corporation to be his new agent. I think this signals that when he becomes a free agent he intends to get paid like all of the other big fish. The Reds have already muddied that water by messing with his service time in 2019. Will they be willing to write a big check to have him be the face of the franchise for the rest of the decade when the time comes if he lives up to his hype? Do the Reds continue to base their future on hope or proven talent by trading for a current superstar. If, by a miracle, there might be a way for the Reds to trade for one of these players without giving up Senzel that would be epic too. The Indians did just give up Kluber for next to nothing in return so who knows.
I personally would prefer to keep Senzel. I’d be more inclined to trade Winker, prospects, and major league ready talent. However if need be I would do it in a heartbeat if it meant our best shot at a World Series. We as Reds fans are in desperate need of October baseball.
Cincinnati Reds Alternate Site Game: April 6, 2021
The Cincinnati Reds are currently playing some games with their alternate team against other alternate teams. Clay Snowden had a chance to attend one and gives a report.
78 degrees with a few clouds in the sky was the perfect day for the perfect game of baseball. My first in person game since 2019. I never knew just how much I missed it until I experienced the sights of sounds of the game for what felt like the very first time (again). Enough about me, let’s talk about the game. The alternate site Reds (that’s what we will call them) took on the Royals on Tuesday night. I want to provide a recap of the pitching and hitting while highlighting a few players.
Riley O’Brien started for the Reds. Acquired in the Cody Reed trade, O’Brien is an interesting pitcher with some obvious upside. He has a lot to like but can struggle to find the zone at times. He struck out Bobby Witt Jr (One of MLB top prospects) while causing him to whiff on back to back strikes. He also gave up 2 home runs, 4 hits 4 runs in 3 innings while striking out 5. At times he simply over powered hitters and at times they squared him up. I still like him as a possible bullpen guy at some point.
Brandon Finnegan, who came out of nowhere this spring and impressed, looked pretty solid tonight. Struck a guy out looking while allowing 1 hit in one inning. His breaking stuff had some life on it. Doolittle, Perez, and Garrett will make it tough for him to find innings, but if injuries happen he’s more than capable of filling in. What a great story his comeback is.
Finnegan was followed by uneventful innings from R.J. Alaniz, Edgar Garcia, Hector Perez, and Ryan Hendrix. Garcia was hit hard and hit often. Perez has a fastball that is noticeably faster than others, but the radar gun was not on. Hendrix really pops the catchers glove, but location was an issue.
Mike Freeman, a utility infielder brought over from the Indians, provided the only real offense tonight with a home run off a LHP (Lynch) to right center. In my mind him, Blandino, and Schrock all are battling for the same “utility infielder” position. Schrock was quiet at the plate tonight.
Mark Payton had a decent night at the plate. I really like his eye for the strike zone and patience at the plate. He had a strong single up the middle and worked a count full on another at bat. He had a ton of balls hit to him in center and he covered a lot of territory well. One ball he tried to rob a HR and it hit off of him and went over the wall. From my vantage point it looked like he might have helped that ball go over.
Jose Garcia made solid contact in his two balls put into play. I am far from a swing expert, but his swing looked a little off tonight. Maybe a little slow? I don’t know. He also swung and missed several times. A full year in the minors will do him well.
The last player that caught my eye was Alejo Lopez. The 24 year old switch hitting infielder just knows how to hit. He has logged over 1,000 minor league at bats and has a slash of .297/.367/.746. In his two at bats he made great contact one leading to a single up the middle and one a sharp lineout to end the game.
Eugenio Suarez at Shortstop Makes the Cincinnati Reds Very Interesting
The Cincinnati Reds have announced that Eugenio Suarez will start Tuesday’s game at shortstop which opens up so many possibilities that make the Reds lineup dangerous.
The Cincinnati Reds dropped a Geno-sized bomb on Reds Country and the result is mass excitement.
We are all aware of the swings-and-misses with free agent shortstops the Reds front office had this offseason. In fact they struck out, if you’re counting, as there were three bonafide shortstops who all went elsewhere. So we’ve spent all Spring Training squinting our eyes to see if we could maybe see the fringe possibility of someone on this roster playing shortstop. Then the Reds stopped pretending.
Coming into camp, Eugenio Suarez just looked different. He was way more fit, trim, cut, whatever word for in-shape you want to use. You could say he was in the best shape of his life (many have). Geno planned for this, and management noticed. They’re reportedly been giving him more practice reps at shortstop and getting him comfortable fielding back there again. You don’t do that just for kicks, they were on to something.
Then Jose Garcia showed a continued lack of confidence at the plate, Dee Strange-Gordon proved there was a reason he hasn’t played shortstop, exclusively, in eight years, and Kyle Holder showed some skills but ultimately proved he needs more seasoning. Kyle Farmer has shown promise at the plate but the defense isn’t any sort of revolutionary development and he still shows more value as the do-everything guy off the bench. Insert Suarez.
Immediately some of you are thinking “Isn’t there a reason they moved him away from shortstop in the first place?” You could go that route, but let me answer your question with a question “Is there really a good reason to keep Jonathan India, or dare I say Nick Senzel (when Shogo Aliyama is healthy) out of the starting lineup for Kyle Farmer, or any of the other options they’ve tried at shortstop?”
This is the Reds thinking outside the box! This opens up so many possibilities with the lineup. With injuries, this is what the Opening Day lineup could look like:
CF Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Nicholas Castellanos
2B Jonathan India
C Tyler Stephenson
1B Tucker Barnhart
I like that lineup. Now, there’s more than a chance that someone else plays first base and Tucker is the catcher on Opening Day, but this is the optimal lineup with Joey Votto on the COVID shelf. Once he is back, this lineup just looks dangerous:
CF Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Nicholas Castellanos
1B Joey Votto
2B Jonathan India
C Tyler Stephenson
Here’s hoping the Eugenio Shortstop experience lots all year long!
Monday Morning Manager: The Cincinnati Reds and Things Being What They Are
David Bell has too many outfielders, or does he? An injury to Shogo Akiyama could make lineup decisions easier, but could hurt the overall team potential.
Today on the Monday Not-Morning Manager I want to look at how the chips fall. There’s a line of thinking in sports that pertains to rosters. If you’ve got four players for three spots and it’s hard to differentiate between them, something always works out. Something beyond the making of a lineup card happens that makes making the lineup card slightly easier (so far as filling the three spots). One wonders if this is what has happened with centerfield for the Cincinnati Reds.
Shogo Akiyama had an encouraging September, last year. He got on base roughly 46% of the time and became the leadoff hitter that Reds fans felt he’d be when he signed. He showed his prowess in the outfield and sound fundamentals that lead you to believe he can be a defensive asset. He looked to be showing he could bring value to the lineup.
Nick Senzel has had a heck of a Spring. Hitting the ball all over the field, taking what the pitcher gives him, and making solid, powerful contact. He’s overcome some early spring mishaps on defense and is back to his athletic range in centerfield. When healthy he has shown to be an asset for the team. Barring some creative decision-making on the part of David Bell, he’s going to play in the outfield, come he’ll or high water.
So what then? Shogo and Senzel cannot both start of Nicholas Castellanos and Jesse Winker man the corners. How does David Bell figure this out? That may be taken off his plate.
Today (Monday) Shogo is getting his left hamstring examined. He left Saturday’s game after just one at-bat. If he is to miss any amount of time, the decision who the Opening Day centerfielder will be will be easy, but this isn’t a statement of relief. The best version of the Cincinnati Reds lineup includes all of Shogo, Senzel, Castellanos, and Winker and you’ll have a hard time convincing me otherwise. I want Bell and the Reds managerial staff to find ways to get all four of them in the lineup as much as possible. Hopefully, Shogo is fine and Bell will begin the 2021 with too many players rather than too few.