The Reds made some key roster moves over the weekend and the 25-man roster is starting to come into focus. Players on the fringe like Phil Gosselin, Phillip Ervin, Cliff Pennington, Amir Garrett, and Kevin Quackenbush were all told they are making the major league roster. Here is my take on how things are shaking out:
The Starters (8)
C Tucker Barnhart, 1B Joey Votto, 2B Scooter Gennett, 3B Eugenio Suarez, SS Jose Peraza, LF Adam Duvall, CF Billy Hamilton, RF Scott Schebler
There really aren’t any surprises as to who the everyday starters will be to start the season. I expect that Jesse Winker will eventually take one of the starting spots in the outfield from either Duvall or Schebler. I am interested to see how long the Reds are willing to go with Peraza at short if he struggles.
He is still relatively young, but the club does have other options in Nick Senzel and Alex Blandino that can come up and replace him if necessary. I think I am most excited to see Tucker Barnhart build upon the gold glove year he had last year.
It really helps the rebuild when a player such as Barnhart, who wasn’t expected to be a key part of this team when the rebuild began, becomes an everyday starter and someone you can really rely on.
The Bench (5)
C Devin Mesoraco, SS Cliff Pennington, OF Phillip Ervin, IF/OF Phil Gosselin, and OF Jesse Winker
I considered Winker a bench player because I think the Reds will give Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall the chance to prove they should start before they add Winker to the everyday lineup. I am a little surprised that the Reds went with both Phil Gosselin and Cliff Pennington. Both can play the infield and both need added to the 40 man roster.
I was expecting them to go with either Brandon Dixon- who has had an outstanding spring and can play both the infield and corner outfield spots, or Alex Blandino- who has a solid bat and can play all over the infield. I’m also somewhat surprised to see Ervin make the team over Ben Revere. I was certain that Brian Price would go with Revere as the fifth outfielder due to his infatuation with veteran players.
What I really like to see is that the Reds aren’t carrying a third catcher. Price flirted with the idea of adding catcher Tony Cruz to the 25 man roster as recently as this past weekend, but ultimately decided against it.
The Rotation (4)
Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano
The Reds are only going with four starting pitchers to start the season due to not needing a fifth starter until April 9th or 10th. This will be another year where the rotation will be very fluid. By the end of the season we will most likely see Anthony Desclifani, Brandon Finnegan, Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Jackson Stephens, and Amir Garrett all make starts.
I also bet that at some point this season Jose Lopez makes the jump from AA to the big leagues – much like what Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo did last year. I really hope that this is the last year that we see 10+ starting pitchers in one season.
If the same amount of pitchers are making starts next year it tells me that no one has asserted themselves into the rotation for good and the rebuild is not going as well as planned.
The Bullpen (8)
Raisel Iglesias, Jared Hughes, Kevin Quackenbush, Amir Garrett,
The four listed have already been told that they are making it. That leaves four more spots up for grabs. David Hernandez and Kevin Shackleford should make it, but both have minor injuries that might keep them out. Michael Lorenzen will start the year on the DL but will be added when healthy.
If Shackleford and Hernandez are healthy enough to start then the final two spots come down to Vance Worley, Zack Weiss, Austin Brice,and recently claimed Justin Nicolino. Justin Nicolino will have to be put back on waivers if he doesn’t make the bullpen. The Reds will only go with seven bullpen arms once the fifth starter is needed so someone will be sent back down soon after the season starts.
Much like the starting rotation, the bullpen will have a lot of turnover. I would like to see some of the younger players become a mainstay in the pen for the next competitive Reds team. I am specifically interested to see what starters become permanent relief pitchers.
It would be intersting to see if some of the younger starters can have success in the bullpen if they don’t claim a permanent spot in the rotation.
There are still a few days until Opening Day and the Reds still have time to claim a player from another team.
Ultimately, this needs to be the last year where we try and figure out what we have. 2018 should be a sink or swim year for a lot of different players. 2019 should be about awarding the effective players with everyday playing time, and filling holes in the roster with players outside the organization.
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.