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.
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.
Remembering Reds: Corky Miller
Among the Reds’ fan favorites is a man not known for his statistical achievements, but for simply how awesome he was.
Morgan, Bench, Robinson, Larkin, and Miller. All names that Reds fans recog…wait, Miller? As in Corky Miller? Absolutely. Corky Miller, the minor league catcher with 539 career MLB at bats. The Miller that holds a career .193/.277/.306 53 OPS+ and a 0.0 WAR, yet everyone knows his name. And adores him. His stats won’t jump off the page, but his laid back attitude and fu Manchu leave a mark on your memory.
Signed by the Reds in 1998, Miller did not reach the show until 2001. In his 11 year career spanning from 2001-2013 (didn’t appear in 2011/2012) Miller never played more than 39 games in one season. So how did he become a household name? Well, probably because he looks more like your fun uncle than your favorite team’s catcher. Now don’t get me wrong, Corky brought value to the teams he was on. He was as much as a coach/mentor as he was a ballplayer. You will still find him in the Reds organization helping the young catchers develop. Let’s take a look at some of Corky’s highlights.
Corky steals home
When you think about baseball players stealing home you might immediately think about the great Jackie Robinson sliding in against the Yankees as Yogi Berra losses his mind at the “safe” call. Hell, you might even think about Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez pulling off the impossible feat in the last scene of the Sandlot. Well, Corky Miller joined this elite group on September 27th, 2001. As Omar Daal of the Phillies threw to first Miller showed off his wheels as his much slimmer self had a perfect slide under the tag. Miller walked back to the dugout as if he’s done this 1,000 times. Incredible swagger.
The Dancing KING
Fast forward to late June 2013. Miller finds himself back in a Reds uniform for the first time since 2010. Looking more like the Corky we know and love, sporting the fu Manchu, Miller shows off his quick footwork. Juan Uribe flies out to Jay Bruce who’s throw home took Corky off to the left of home. Hanley Ramirez, not the best baserunner himself, runs past home, retreats, dances around the grounded Miller only to be tagged on the third attempt while flailing towards home. This is so ugly that it is absolutely beautiful.
The Next Cy Young
Corky was more than a catcher and fan favorite. He was an elite pitcher. Well, maybe not elite. Over his career in the minors he pitched 7.2 innings and surrendered 14 hits, 13 earned runs and struck out 2. But in 2012 while playing for the Louisville Bats he pitched a scoreless inning. Down 13-0 in the bottom of the 8th, Miller came in to throw some rainbows in the general direction of home plate. A fly out to left, a pop out to first, and a fly out to right Miller put down the Columbus batters in order.
While his career might not stand out, Miller’s impact has. One of the beloved players in the clubhouse, he has mentored many young catchers along the way. Here’s to many more great years to Corky!
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.
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.