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Reds can’t let hot stretch affect roster decisions

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Dick Williams and his front office staff have a lot of homework to do and some difficult decisions to make as the trade deadline approaches.

There are no delusions here that just because the Reds are the hottest team in the National League that they have completely found themselves. And the Reds front office can’t allow themselves to be deluded either. A day will not come this summer when the number in the W column will eclipse the number in the L column.

Still, today’s numbers in the STRK column — 4 — and the L10 column — 7-3 — are a welcome respite from a long, cold spring that began with a 2-0 loss to the Nationals on March 30. For numbers like those to replicate themselves over and over this season, we would be witness to a historic turnaround.

This team is not ready to be historic in that way. It’s not impossible, but it is improbable. However, this team has also shown in a 21-21 stretch that it is not going to be as dubiously historic as its 3-18 start suggested. They have been playing like the roughly .500 team I expected them to be for more than a month.

Why is this team with a 29-45 record winning right now? The simple answer is the starting pitchers are avoiding the big, bad early inning and hanging around past the fifth inning. The infielders can hit, the outfielders have gotten used to their playing time and its bullpen is healthy and dominating. These are the simple answers.

The story within the story is in who is making this team go right now. It’s not a group of starters that don’t figure into future plans. It’s been Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano and Anthony DeSclafani. It’s been the bullpen with the exception of Wandy Peralta, who found out the hard way what happens when you don’t throw enough strikes. And it’s been just about everyone Jim Riggleman has put in the lineup lately, even Mendoza-line pals Adam Duvall and Billy Hamilton.

For the most part, the players the Reds are trying to build around are producing. The key question is how will Dick Williams and his lieutenants react to this hot stretch, especially if this team continues to play well up until the trade deadline. Will they hope that it’s all working out finally and stay with this roster? Or will they make some difficult decisions?

I also have no delusions that the Reds will make all the right moves. No team ever does.

However, the Reds must show more wisdom than they did in the majority of the fire-sale moves when Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman were traded.

The most prominent names on the should-we-trade-them list are Scooter Gennett, Raisel Iglesias and Billy Hamilton. Observers, like you and me, often have unrealistic expectations of what the Reds can get for who they decide to trade.

Teams don’t trade players in today’s game as much as they trade contracts, which often creates inequity. Mostly all you ever get for an established player are prospects. It’s hard to imagine a one-for-one deal or even a two-for-one of big-league players. The rumor of Hamilton going to Boston for Jackie Bradley Jr. exists but is unlikely. And what would that get the Reds? Bradley has had one strong season with the bat and is having a worse season than Hamilton.

If Gennett, for instance, is traded, expect prospects in return. If the Reds trade for a starter, expect prospects to go. A couple of shrewd moves could improve the big-league club, keep the farm system healthy and create a spot for Nick Senzel. To do that, means a difficult decision is coming.

We can propose trades, name free agents we want to sign and have an opinion on where Senzel should play. But this is harder than it looks. That’s why the Reds are still in last place.

And that’s not an illusion.

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Cincinnati Reds

The Moose Stops Here

The Reds have reportedly signed Mike Moustakas to a four-year deal, per Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic

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© Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

How we looking, Reds fans? I, for one, can’t stop randomly yelling “YES!” in my apartment. My neighbors may be calling the cops as you read this.

Or maybe I should be yelling “Moooooooose!”

The Reds began their offseason of acquisitions by signing Mike Moustakas to the largest contract in franchise history. The Moose is coming to Cincinnati for four years, $64 million dollars. He compiled 3.2 bWAR last year and had a 113 WRC+.

The big key is that he will be the Reds second baseman. Per Baseball Reference, the group of players who combined to shoulder the second base duties in Cincinnati put together a -0.6 WAR. Clearly it was one of the most important positions to upgrade during the offseason and the Reds have done that.

There are two ancillary considerations from this move. One is that Nick Senzel will remain in center field in 2020. One can figure from this move that the Reds have complete faith in his ability to rehab his surgically repaired shoulder. The other is a possible Plan B at first base as Moose has shown an ability to play all infield positions with some degree of aptitude. Now, that’s not to say there are rumblings of Joey Votto retiring or going anywhere, but it does not hurt to have a plan B.

All this is to say, I am excited. I also believe this is just the start. More to come from this front office that is clearly putting money to their words. For now, get ready to chant “Mooooose” all summer long!

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All-Decade Team

Reds All-Decade Team: Everyday Eight

Introducing the blog post about the Locked On Reds All-Decade Team!

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We are coming to the end of the 2000-teens. Weird, isn’t it? This decade started with a lot of success for our Redlegs and ended with lots of questions. Maybe they can regain their winning form as we head into the 2020’s, but for now let’s look at the players that made the past ten years what they were.

To set only a few parameters, this will be based on impact and not necessarily longevity. For example, based on their time on the Reds and performance, my thought on the best center fielder, for the past 10 years, is Shin-Soo Choo. Now, I get it, he was only here a year, but that what I mean when I’m looking at the All-Decade Reds. Who had the greatest impact during his tenure with the Reds from 2010-2019?

I also want this to be interactive. Comment, tweet (@lockedonreds), and call/text the Locked On Reds Line (513) 549-0159. This post will be finished on December 31, 2019.


Locks

Joey Votto

I don’t know why anyone would argue this. He is the Reds Player of the Decade, and arguably the National League’s Player of the Decade. If you don’t believe me, look at this.

Brandon Phillips

Dat Dude was electric at second and a constant stand-in as an argument to everyone’s favorite Red, at the time. I forgot to mention him as a lock on the first All-Decade podcast, so that’s a bit embarrassing, but no second baseman deserves it more. He could hit anywhere in the lineup, and perform well to boot. There was no other second baseman that was better from 2010-2019 in Cincinnati.

Jay Bruce

Few Reds have provided such iconic moments as was Clinchmas which got this past decade started off with a bang. Beyond that, Bruce was a constant force in the middle of the lineup. His arm was a lethal and gunned down anyone foolish enough to try and run on him. No outfielder eclipsed him and he is definitely a lock for this All-Decade team.

Zack Cozart

Cozart could do it all. He had a good bat, a great glove, and the ladies loved him. Find another Reds shortstop from this past decade and I’ll tell you why they aren’t as good as Cozart was.

Leans

Shin-Soo Choo

Your first thought on this is going to be “but he only was a Red for a year?” Here’s the thing, no centerfielder had a better year. Does he get a bump because he may not have been here long enough to leave a bad taste in our mouthes? Sure. Did he absolutely kill it his one year and is still talked about? Absolutely. If I’m building an everyday eight that is the best of this past decade, he’s on that team.

Devin Mesoraco

The options at catcher are Tucker Barnhart, Ryan Hanigan, and Mez. Maybe you include Ramon Hernandez for the two halfway decent years at the start of the decade. This is a position that can be hotly debated, but I am throwing my hat in the ring for Mez. When he was healthy and got regular at-bats (2014) he was the best Reds catcher this decade. I’ll take those numbers he posted that year and pretend that he isn’t injured when named to the All-Decade Team. A healthy Mez was worth slotting 5th or 6th in the lineup. That’s not something I’ve never said about Tucker.

Ryan Ludwick

My rationale behind this is two-fold. Unless they were just absolutely amazing (like the next lean) then I’m looking at the playoff teams. Ludwick had a great first year as a Red. His final two years soured some fans to remembering him, but he was money in 2012. When faced with the options, I lean Ludwick.

Eugenio Suarez

This one took some thinking because I really liked Scott Rolen, but I think Suarez has outperformed him. He has the misfortune for playing on the bad Reds teams, but he has become the face of the franchise, heading into 2020. The thing that keeps him from being a lock, to me, is there is an argument for Rolen over Suarez…but I will argue Suarez is the Reds third baseman of the decade.

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All-Decade Team

Reds All-Decade Team: The Pitching

Here’s the blog post accompanying the idea of the Reds All-Decade Team, the pitching side of things.

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We got things started with a blog post about the everyday eight, now let’s start thee pitching. For this, we’ll do a starting five, a closer, and two relievers. I’m not sure we have any locks, but we have some really strong cases, here. Okay, maybe one lock. Johnny Cueto is a super lock for the rotation, maybe the Reds Pitcher of the Decade.

You know the drill, comment, tweet (@lockedonreds), and call/text (513) 549-0159. We’ll finalize it on December 31, 2019.

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