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.
Reds Rule 5 Players and Predictions
We are coming up on the deadline for MLB teams to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft. Here are some players the Reds need to make some tough decisions on.
MLB teams have until November 20th to make their decision on the players eligible for the Rule 5 draft. They must decide to “protect” (add to the 40 man roster) to avoid another team selecting a player in the draft. I want to go over the list and make predictions on if the player will be protected or not.
Riley O’Brien RHP
O’Brien was acquired from Tampa Bay in the Cody Reed trade. A late bloomer of sorts, the 6’4” righty has a nice fastball. Being 25, he’s ready to battle for a spot in the pen right now. There isn’t great bullpen depth on the 40 man roster right now, so I can see O’Brien replacing a spot that players such as Romano/Alaniz/De Leon held in 2020. Prediction: Protected
Vladimir Gutierrez RHP
The former top 10 organizational prospect has been trending in the wrong direction. The beginning of 2019 was tough in AAA for Vlad but he finished the year strong. A suspension plus the lack of a 2020 minor league season makes it difficult to see how he is doing. However, he has enough raw talent to keep him on the roster. Prediction: Protected
Jacob Heatherly LHP
Checking in at #18 on the Reds prospect list, Heatherly is the only lefty on the list. We know the Reds will likely bring in lefty competition for the LHP bullpen spot next to Amir. Coming off an injury, I would bet he would not get drafted. Prediction: Not Protected
Alfredo Rodriguez SS
It feels like Alfredo has been in the Reds system forever. A 2016 pricey Cuban SS, Rodriguez was brought in due to his glove in hopes that the bat would come around. Long story short, it hasn’t. He’s now 26 and a change of scenery might be the best for him. I doubt he will get picked, though. Prediction: Not Protected
TJ Friedl OF
Friedl was exposed last year in the draft and not selected. He is a plus fielder and runner, but most other parts of his game are underwhelming. Prediction: Not Protected
Joel Kuhnel RHP
Most of us have a pretty good idea of what Kuhnel is. He has a fastball that is VERY good. I have always liked Kuhnel and wanted to see him get a longer look. There were plenty of opportunities for him to get a shot and more often than not he was overlooked. This one is hard for me, but I think him not getting more chances shows what the Reds think of him. Prediction: Not Protected
Mariel Bautista OF
Bautista has been with the Reds since 2014. I really do not think he is anything too special in terms of a prospect. He also doesn’t do any one thing so well that a team would select him off of that one skill. Prediction: Not Protected
Jared Solomon RHP
To be honest, I do not know much about Solomon. So I reached out to someone much smarter than me, our #RedsTwitter friend @RedsFan_Brandon . He predicted him to be protected. Boddy has been high on him and his fastball has improved. So I will stick with that. Prediction: Protected
None of these players are top 15 Reds prospects by most list. So losing any of them shouldn’t be the end of the world. Last year the Reds selected Mark Payton. Conor Joe was selected the year before.
Should the Reds look to be active in the free agent market they’re most likely going to have to cut payroll, first. Let’s start with some player who could get non-tendered before the December 2nd deadline.
This offseason…stop me if you’ve heard this…is going to be weird. Budgets will be unpredictable, although most believe spending will be at a minimum, and the Reds already have a lot of contracts that are set. Further additions and movement in the free agent market most likely will be preceded by some surprise cuts.
Based on the players leaving and the estimated totals of arbitration contracts, spotrac.com has the Reds at just over $126 million in payroll for 2021. They totaled out at a smidge over $144 million last year (if the season was to be as normal) with all of the transactions considered. The Reds could try to get back to that number, but the most likely scenario is that they hover around the $125-$130 million mark.
With the idea of making one or two moves to improve one of the worst lineups in baseball, let’s look at three candidates for being non-tendered.
(Just an FYI, only non-tender candidates are capable of being cut and their salary taken off the books. All other MLB contracts are guaranteed.)
As a fan, this one would hurt. He was a guy I watched with the Angels thinking if he were given everyday playing time, he would flourish. If I’m being objectively honest (and if I want the Reds to run similarly to the Rays) non-tendering him would make sense. He’s an athletically gifted outfielder who has a little bit of pop in his bat. In fact, he’s pretty much Phillip Ervin. The problem is, he figures to be a rotational outfield player, assuming everyone is healthy.
According to Spotrac, he will make around $3.2 million next year, or possibly the sixth highest dollar amount of Reds position players. That’s more than Jesse Winker’s possible $2.7 million and I think we can all agree that Jesse needs to be in the everyday lineup. Ik now he just got here from LA, but the dude was bit by whatever bug bit the Reds bats and slashed .163/.236/.327 in 20 games as a Red. Small sample size, sure, but am I counting on him to be light years better than that in what may not figure to be much more playing time? No.
This one I am less sure of being a good idea, but I am rolling with this whole “be more like Tampa” idea. The Rays, per Spotrac, aren’t estimated to give ANY of their relievers more than $2.5 million next year. The Reds are slated to give three relievers over $4 million.
I am not advocating a non-tender for Michael Lorenzen because of his versatility and potential for being the fifth starter in 2021. Barring a trade, the Reds are paying $9.125 million to Raisel Iglesias to get the last out of a game. They’re really going to pay Archie Bradley, who it felt as though David Bell didn’t trust as much as Nate Jones at times, $5 million to be a setup man?
Okay, this one really isn’t that surprising. It is time. We once regarded him as the Reds top prospect. We once regarded him as a future ace. We once proclaimed he reborn as a shutdown reliever. We now have no clue what to expect from him and it just does not make sense to continue to trot him out there expecting the complete career turnaround that we’ve all been hoping for since the “rebuild” began.
It won’t really save the Reds a ton of money, but freeing up BobSteve’s roster spot will open up an opportunity for one of the up-and-coming prospects or another Derek Johnson reclamation project. Frankly, I’d rather see any of those than BobSteve coming out of the Reds bullpen in 2021.
Mailbag: Senzel, Winker, Votto, and More
Time for an offseason mailbag to get your focus on what the Reds need to do th be better for 2021
It’s been a while and we have all had a chance to process that Reds playoff performance. Yuck. However, it is time for offseason talk. Let’s get into the mailbag.
What are the Reds going to do at catcher? The Reds and pitchers seem to like Casali and Barnhart behind plate..
The Reds once again went with the duo of Casali and Tucker behind the plate in 2020. The results were underwhelming, but not miserable. Tucker is a finalist for a gold glove while hitting .204/.291/.388 and an OPS+ of 77. Casali hit .224/.366/.500 with an OPS+ of 126. However, we all want to see the exciting prospect, Tyler Stephenson, take his reign of the position. I expect exactly that next season. Having a veteran backing him up is important so I’d imagine Tucker plays that role as he is under contract while Casali will enter arbitration.
In terms of how the pitchers like Casali and Tucker, I think that just comes with time. I am sure once the pitchers get to work with Stephenson more, they will learn to pitch well to him.
If there is a DH in 2021, shouldn’t #19 fill that role and let Da Wink and (place RH bat here) platoon at 1st?
The only thing the Reds have now is time (between now, and next season). So, what is their excuse for not putting Senzel at 2B, and give him regular ABs? (This makes Votto the DH, and Moose 1B)
What’s the odds of moving Senzel to 2nd, Moose to 1st and Votto to DH.
Well this is my intake everybody has one with the Outfield I guess we’re not going to have a DH going forward so Jesse Winker needs to be traded along with Nick Senzel I definitely keep Shogo, and hopefully we can keep Castellanos and let’s go try to get a productive outfielder
I want to clump all these together because it’s pretty much all the same gist. So, let’s breakdown what it could look like with and then without the DH.
WITH: Votto to DH, Moose to first, Senzel STAYS in center, second is open to add speed/OBP.
Explanation: Votto’s defense is terrible. His contract isn’t going anywhere, so put him at DH. He still has something left with the bat. When Moose signed he wasn’t signing on to play second for the duration of that contract. No way. Move him to first and the defense at first likely improves. Keep Senzel in Center. Injuries and swing changes have stunted the development of Senzel enough. Asking him to change back to second after 2 years of focusing on becoming a CF just feels like something they will not do. He hasn’t done any work (that we know of ) at second since he moved to CF.
Now for 2B. Bringing back the same team that barely sneaked into an expanded playoff (while maybe losing Bauer) seems like a bad idea. Changes have to be made. The Reds added plenty of HR power last offseason, now add a 2B that might be a better OBP guy. Speed and better baserunning would be welcomed as well. In theory, this could increase the defensive ability at second as well.
WITHOUT: Votto at first (with plenty of days off), Moose at 2B, Senzel in CF, Winker traded.
Explanation: Votto really doesn’t have anywhere else to go besides the bench. There is not an option at this point, when they play him he will be at first. Which leaves Moose at second. Again, not a thrilling defensive side of the infield, but Moose held his own at second but as he gets older his range will continue to drop. Senzel in CF for the same reason’s I listed above. Winker is traded. In this scenario, I am still looking to shake up the team from 2020. ( I am also assuming Castellanos is returning) An OF with Winker and Castellanos fielding would be far less than ideal. I really like Winker, but Shogo could be ready for a bigger role. Winker has trade value and could strengthen the team in other areas by moving him. If the Reds make a big trade like many fans are hoping for, they will have to move MLB talent. They do not have enough top-end prospects to trade. If they do move the top prospects, they will deplete their farm system because it lacks depth. Remember, to acquire top-end talent you have to trade high value. Prospects out of the top 5 usually aren’t considered too high by many other organizations.
Goldstar or Skyline and Cut or Twirl
I have never even had Goldstar. No need to. Skyline fills my needs. Twirl