On April 1, 2019, the Cincinnati Reds posted there worst attendance in GABP history of 7,799. This comes only days after setting an Opening Day attendance record. The 2018 Cincinnati Reds posted the worst yearly attendance since 1984. MLB as a whole saw a 4.19% drop in attendance, according to Forbes, which is the largest drop since 2002. What is causing this drop in attendance for the Reds in particular?
For starters, bad baseball. The Reds have not made the playoffs since 2013. Even more sadly the last time they advanced just one round in the playoffs was 1995. From 2015-2018 we have been trapped in the funk of losing 90 games a year. Most bandwagon fans going into last season could only tell you who Votto, Hamilton, and Bailey were because they were on the team the last time they made the playoffs. The word “Rebuild” was just code for losing to most fans. Again this is another problem that’s not just effecting the Reds but Major League baseball. What’s the point in investing time and money in a team you already know will lose close to 100 games a season? This has created a huge disparity in the game of baseball. Teams like the Rays who have a $59.9 million payroll are supposed to seriously compete with a team like the Red Sox who have a $222.7 million payroll. Many teams are simply the farm systems for the bigger fish.
Another thought is baseball is too tedious and time consuming. Between the pitching changes, commercials, mound visits, batter timeouts, and replays there is alot of dead air during the game. For many, especially children, this loses there attention. Games last nearly 3 hours exactly. Since many of these games start at after 7 o’clock most are ending after 10. Many people are already in bed or asleep by that time because they have to be ready for work the next day. I will say the MLB is trying to make strides in improving this with pitch clocks, limited mound visits, and next year a pitcher having to face a minimum 3 batters in one inning. Baseball is 162 games a year, plus spring training, plus the playoffs. It’s the last longer than any other major sport season. And yet the MLB has the smallest amount of teams that make the playoffs at a total of 10. Most people won’t follow their team once they know they’re out of playoff contention. This means for many fans the second half of the season is a complete wash since you know your team is not playing for anything.
Still another idea is the cost for concessions is outrageous. A friend of mine on Opening Day got 2 16oz Bud Lights and 4 Cheese Coneys for a whopping 55 bucks. I could get that from Skyline and my local gas station for under 15 bucks. If you bring a family you might as well forget trying to feed them at the ballpark.
The final problem is kids are not following baseball as much as they used too. For many it goes back to the attention span being too short to follow baseball. Others it’s their parents cannot afford to take them to a game on the regular because of the cost. The MLB doesn’t really do a good job of marketing their stars as much either. Mike Trout stands the possibility of being the greatest player in the history of baseball. The player from my generation who was sold to be like that was Ken Griffey Jr. He had his own shoes, batting gloves, swing tool, cleats, clothing, logo, video game, all styled after him. Trout and others do not even come close to that kind of marketing.
There are ways to fix these problems in several simple ways.
- Establish a Salary Cap- Slowly implemented over time so the rich teams can get their books in order. And the poor teams can establish who their big investment players will be. This should help to fix the disparity and prevent a large portion of the league from losing 90 games, or more. This should also help to prevent the teams with deep pockets from outbidding all the small markets. Allowing superstars to flourish everywhere instead of just Boston, Chicago, New York and LA.
- Pitch Clock in Between Pitches- They are already doing this in the minors. I believe this shortening the length of games is the only thing the MLB is seriously addressing.
- Starting Games at 640p during the week- The Reds have started doing this. I could not be happier. It makes it easier to attend a game right after work for many people. More importantly, it makes it easier to enjoy the game a little more without feeling the need to leave the game early as much.
- Expanding the Playoffs to Add Another Round and Wild Card Team- The MLB playoff bracket would look like the NFL bracket except one additional wild card team in a best of 3 first round series. In doing so this may involve shortening the regular season back to 152 games. However, I feel this is a sacrifice many fans, players, and owners would be willing to make if it meant there team possibly making the playoffs every year.
- Lowering the Cost of Concessions- Several NFL teams including the Falcons and Ravens have done this. There is no excuse not to. It ultimately led to increased sales for them. I guarantee it would pay off dividends for any MLB team willing to do so. That way I can afford the FryBox on a regular basis that Jeff keeps talking about on the podcast.
- Free attendance for kids 10 yrs or younger to select games- The Orioles did this last year. I think this is a no brainier idea. You bring a kid to a free game there parents are more likely to spend more money at the game. The kid is able to get a souvenir, appearal, or food. That’s an experience the kid remembers for life. Your more likely to get them interested in baseball. Long term you help to establish fans at a young age for life.
I don’t want to see a generation of fans lost to the Cincinnati Reds. The latest generation of kids still haven’t seen success from the Reds like many of us have from the Big Red Machine of the 1970’s to the 1990 Wire to Wire team. I am just going to chalk up this embarrassing record breaking night to bad weather.
Cincinnati Reds Roster Breakdown: Non Roster Invitees
Let’s take a look at the non-roster invitees trying to make the Cincinnati Reds roster during this Spring Training
WELCOME BAAAAAAACK! The Reds kick off the 2021 season on Sunday with their first spring training game. As I do each spring training, I am going to take a look at the non roster invitees (NRI) and how they could impact the team this season.
R.J. Alaniz, Matt Ball, Cam Bedrosian, Jesse Biddle, Shane Carle, Josh Osich, Branden Shipley, Bo Takahashi
You might recognize a couple of these names. Alaniz has been around the organization the past couple of years and pitched 11.2 innings with the Reds in 2019. Biddle was a guy who was around last year, but the others are new. Carle (76.1 in), Osich (206.1 in), Shipley (100 in) have experience in the show with moderate results. Cam Bedrosian is the name to know here. The fact that he was signed on with a minor league deal is surprising. 277.2 innings with a 3.70 ERA has been a solid MLB pitcher. 2019 batters hit .207/.283/.336 and in 2020 they hit .196/.276/.255. His spin rate is gritty darn good honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a minor league deal that really is a promise on the roster. Think Jose Iglesias who was also a NRI a couple years back. This allows the Reds to delay their decision on making a 40 man roster move.
For a team that lost Rasiel Iglesias, Bradley, maybe Antone and Lorenzen to the rotation, Bedrosian will have a chance to really earn a legit role with this team. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a scenario where Shipley or Carle get innings this year.
Bittle and Osich are lefties that would have battled for the other LHP spot in the pen, but the signing of Doolittle bumps them to depth roles.
A 33 year old catcher with 37 at bats and a career .108 avg. Id say that there is not much to see here. Stephenson and Tucker are the one two punch and the offseason addition of Deivy Grullon will provide a younger depth option with a higher upside than Gale.
Cheslor Cuthbert, Dee Strange-Gordon (not listed on Reds roster yet)
Cuthbert isn’t a household name, but he does have over 1,000 at bats in the MLB. He had a decent season in ’16 with the Royals batting .274/.318/.413 and 12 HR, but he hasn’t shown enough to be a full time MLB player. Corner infield depth.
Here’s where I stand on Dee….If he is here to battle for a utility role, that’s fine with me. If he is here to be some variation of an answer at SS, we are in trouble. A 32 year old poor defender (who on the Reds isn’t at this point) who doesn’t have any power and doesn’t get on base. Yeah, he has stolen some bases. We all know speed is one of the first things to go when you age, and he still has some jump, but I don’t think it’s game changing speed at this point, and it’s useless unless he’s on base. I’m not high on Strange Gordan making an impact.
Nicky Delmonico, Tyler Naquin, Dwight Smith
I was worried about the Reds outfield depth. It’s a sneaky need, especially of Aquino doesn’t bounce back. This group of NRI is a group I am excited about. All have MLB experience and have had their moments. Delmonico had a nice (small sample size) rookie year with the White Sox in 2017, but has been worse each year since then. It’s the other two that catch my eye.
Dwight Smith has shown he has some pop in his bat. He is the type of player that you want to have in AAA ready to fill in if needed. Tyler Naquin is a guy I think could actually contribute to this team. We know 2020 was a small sample size, but look at the hard hit and exit velo. And his outfield jump/Outs above avg. fit in well with the team that doesn’t seem to care about defense.
He had a great rookie year in ’16, and has had moments since. .288/.325/.467 10 HR 19 2B in 2019 would be a good bench bat. The question is…is he better than Aquino/Heineman/Payton? Him and Payton are the two leftieis of the group. At the very least, I think he is great organizational depth, and I think his floor is a higher floor than the group listed above (maybe Aquino can make me eat crow there)
This list is different than most years. Not as many players listed, and no prospects. The number of players at Spring Training will be smaller than years past. Overall, I think theres 2-3 guys who could earn a role on the Reds 2021 roster.
Monday Morning Manager: The Snell Effect
David Bell has many things he needs to go right in order to win games and get a contract extension. One thing he can control is a decision-making process that should not be made entirely analytically.
In case you lived under a rock last year (and that might be Truer than in any other year) then you know how the World Series went down with the Rays falling to the Dodgers. You may even know about Blake Snell’s improbable removal from Game Six when he was absolutely on fire. This is something David Bell cannot mess up in 2021.
Ok, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m talking about the correct managing of the bullpen and rotation in pressure situations. Most people will look at the Game Six managing of Kevin Cash and see two things: a man sticking to his system that got him there and a man over-thinking things. Neither thoughts are incorrect.
In this day and age of baseball, most people understand statistical evaluations on pitchers favoring removing a starter before they pitch to the opposing lineup for the third time in a game. Well, maybe, because the numbers are a bit different in 2020, small sample size, and all. In fact, the Reds pitching staff held opponents to a .599 OPS in 253 plate appearances the third time through the order, last year. That may be a smoke screen, though, as the 2019 Reds pitching staff (largely similar to 2020) allowed an OPS of .892 in 799 PA. That’s a bit of a more reliable sample size, which would leave me to believe a starter pitching a third time through the order isn’t the most favorable idea.
Also something David Bell must consider is the overthinking aspect. In this Player’s Tribune post by the man, Blake Snell, himself, he points out the immense effect that simply seeing someone warming up in the bullpen had on him. Now, you can say “Well, that shouldn’t have been an issue, he should have sucked it up and pitched!” The dude is a human being. If you saw the person management was likely to replace you with if you messed something up at your job, are you going to just keep on keeping on with no thought to look over your shoulder? If you are, you might be a Jedi. Most of us mere mortals have problems with worrying about what might happen if things fall apart. Baseball players are not totally immune to this, either.
In order for Bell to garner a contract extension, he will have to adeptly manage a pitching staff that has talent, but also has human egos. Just because the numbers say that a decision should go one way, the human element must also be factored in. Last I checked, theres no button for that on a calculator, which leaves it up to his own decision-making skill.
The Cincinnati Reds Optimal Lineup
Let’s look past the Opening Day Lineup to the lineup the Cincinnati Reds could have, if everything is going right.
There will be many things said/written about the Opening Day Lineup and what that should like for the Cincinnati Reds. With the first full team workout happening Monday, let’s take a look at what the lineup should look like if things are going well for the Reds, this season. I’m going to exclude positions for this experiment and you’ll see why.
- Shogo Akiyama – Ideally, Shogo will be getting on base much closer to the clip he posted in September than the one he did in August of last year. If he does this, he will be producing what the Reds hoped he would when they made him the first Japanese-born Cincinnati Red.
- Jesse Winker – He broke out in a big way in 2020 and was the Reds best hitter. There’s no reason to think that won’t, at the very least, continue and probably will even get better.
- Eugenio Suarez – He should be the Reds best hitter and I believe he will regain that title in 2021.
- Mike Moustakas – Moose has always been a run driver-inner and, if things are going well he will continue to do so.
- Nick Castellanos – he could be the third hitter, but it would be an amazing season, indeed, if he gets on-base at a higher clip than Geno.
- Joey Votto – this isn’t meant to be an insult, just realistic. I’ve seen and heard takes putting him in the three-spot. That’s a great idea in 2017. Now, any power should be considered a bonus with the main expectation of him being an on-base catalyst for the bottom of the lineup/turning over of the lineup.
- Nick Senzel – him being down here is more a hope that the top six indeed prove worthy to be top six. This is also hoping he’s healthy enough to play everyday, or almost everyday, and build up enough momentum to produce at the level he is capable of. Also, the not labelling defensive position thing is because he should be in the running as a shortstop option, but it sure feels like that’s not the case. Before you say, “Jeff, he’s not a shortstop…” who on this roster is? Get the best eight (nine if the NL miraculously gets the DH) in the lineup and worry about defense later. That’s pretty much how this roster is built, anyway.
- Tyler Stephenson – in a few years, he should be hitting in the middle of the order. In 2021, let’s keep the pressure on low and watch him thrive in the box.
- Pitcher (again, we’ll reassess if the players and owners ever get together and figure this out before the season begins, but we aren’t holding our breath).
This lineup could be pretty good…maybe. As fans we can hope, the folks who run the Reds should not lean on that. The lineup I propose should only be if each player is performing to the level that is expected of him. More than likely, this lineup will not happen, because it is doubtful every single bat bounces back in 2021.