Hi all! It’s been a few weeks since my last post but I’m back. I have a few random thoughts that I would like to share with you. Feel free to agree, disagree, call me an idiot, or any other profanity you prefer.
IT IS TIME TO BENCH DUVALL
It is April 27th and the Reds are still messing around with a four-man rotation in the outfield. Part of me believes the lack of everyday playing time for Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker have been a major contribution to the Reds’ offensive woes. Winker should be playing everyday and batting leadoff. The man is hitting .323 with an OPS of .836. Those stats have lead off hitter written all over them. Scott Schebler had 22 home runs by the All Star Break last year and had a respectable OPS of .856. His numbers dipped during the second half of the season due to playing through an injury. Despite spending some time on the DL, Schebler has gotten off to a great start this season and I think that he has shown enough to claim the job everyday in right field. I actually have a theory about Schebler. I am convinced that if he came up through the Reds’ minor league system, fans would be clamoring for him to start the way they do for Jesse Winker. I am pretty high on Schebler’s ability to become a good starting right fielder for the next few years. Billy Hamilton has played exactly as expected. He struggles to get on base, but brings great value to the team in the form of his glove. Meanwhile, Adam Duvall has really struggled at the plate but still bats right in the middle of the lineup. There have been several occasions this season where the Reds had men on and he has hit into a double play. Currently, he is hitting .159. That is not going to cut it when you have other light hitters on this team. I do think Duvall can be a valuable bat off the bench and he does play pretty good defense.
IT IS TIME TO BENCH SCOOTER
Yeah, I said it. There really isn’t a point to start Scooter in a season where the Reds already find themselves 10.5 games out of first place. Last year was an aberration for Scooter and I have my doubts that he can repeat his 27 home run performance. His glove certainly shouldn’t keep him in the lineup either as it is slightly below average at best. I would like to see what Alex Blandino can do if he is allowed to play second base everyday. Imagine if Blandino were able to play a respectable second base and the Reds no longer need Senzel to play there. In that case you can either move Suarez to short and let Senzel play third, or you can trade one of them. I think that both Suarez and Senzel would bring back a decent package of players, especially considering Suarez has a very team friendly contract.
LET AMIR START
Please! Please send Amir Garrett to AAA and stretch him out so he can come back up and start. He has been nothing short of dominant in the bullpen and showed flashes of being a great starter last year before he got injured. To this point, Brandon Finnegan and Sal Romano haven’t shown that they will be a mainstay in the rotation. There aren’t many options in AAA to replace them if they do not take the necessary steps forward. Robert Stephenson continues to struggle with walks. Cody Reed still hasn’t shown that he is the man we traded for. Rookie Davis and Anthony DeSclafani are on the DL. It would make sense to stretch Amir out and let him prove that he is the starter we saw at the beginning of last year. He has seen few high leverage situations as a bullpen arm and I think he has the right attitude and arsenal of pitches you want in a starter.
I DON’T HATE JIM DAY
I told you these thoughts were random. Earlier this year the Reds announced that Jim Day would call some games with Marty and I sort of rolled my eyes. I thought that he would be super annoying but I actually enjoyed listening to him during the past series with the Braves. He has a good chemistry with Marty and was surprisingly insightful.
DO NOT CALL UP SENZEL
I will leave you with what I think most fans won’t agree with. DO NOT CALL HIM UP. NOT EVEN AFTER THE SUPER 2 DEADLINE. What is the point? It is a lost season and Nick Senzel is currently hitting .231 at AAA. He would not benefit by being called up right now. There isn’t a place for him to play and you are not calling him up to ride the pine. He needs to get everyday at bats and I am interested to see how he rebounds from a not so great start to the season. I think a lot of people forget that he wasn’t drafted that long ago. I am afraid the Reds might panic and call him up before he is ready. Let him get a full year at AAA to figure himself out. His time will come, hopefully in 2019.
The Cincinnati Reds and the 20 Pitch Limit
When it comes to quirky early Cactus League season games, there’s a lot to know. One this is the 20-pitch limit a manager can invoke on an inning his guy is getting clobbered in. The Cincinnati Reds have already done this.
This Spring has seen an interesting beginning in that teams have smaller rosters than normal (though still plenty of players to go around) and they can choose to play shorter games. One other added wrinkle of differentness is the ability of a manager to “throw in the towel” whenever his pitcher reaches 20 pitches in an inning.
The Reds have already taken advantage of this twice, both during the beat down at the hands of the Athletics. Sal Romano got the curtain pulled on him in the fourth inning while Shane Carl heard the music in the fifth. These don’t necessarily paint a larger picture, as of yet, but it is interesting to note.
Carle doesn’t factor into the equation that is the Opening Day roster, but Big Sal surely does. He is out of minor league options (meaning he’d have to clear waivers to be assigned a minor league team) and he has shown some flashes of talent in the past. He could be valuable depth for the Reds bullpen, so calling it quits after 20 tosses (which frankly were all a consequence of Nick Senzel misplaying a ball early in the inning) doesn’t mean he’s out, but it is something to watch.
We’ll keep track here on the blog for more 20-pitch tap-outs.
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.