Opening Day is just four days away. The 2018 Reds will certainly be interesting, but will they be any good? I asked for your predictions for the 2018 season. Here are some of the emails I received from Reds fans:
“Been following your locked on reds pod, really enjoying how you ask the tough questions fans don’t always want to hear. I’ve got the Reds right around .500. Remember all these “rookies” got an MLB cup of coffee last year. Some went well and some not so well, but this is the first time I can remember where there is ongoing competition at multiple position groups. The Reds are in position to move down the ranks if a guy isn’t getting it done. I like this and think it makes the team better faster. Also, I think we need to move on in center field. A .125 average in spring in my opinion gives no reason he (Billy Hamilton) should get more MLB time. Get us a bucket of baseballs and be done with it.” – Chris Cotton
Chris, I appreciate the email. Thank you for listening to the podcast. I agree with you that Hamilton’s days of being an everyday player are numbered – barring some unforeseen improvement, it feels like Jesse Winker is in prime position to hit lead off.
I believe the Reds could win 81 games and be .500 this season like you predict, but EVERYTHING would have to go right. Homer Bailey would need to stay healthy and pitch like he did in 2013. Luis Castillo would need to build on what he did last season and prove that he is their future ace.
The rest of the starting staff would have to stay healthy and players like Jose Peraza and Scooter Gennett will have to show they can be counted on every day. There are too many “if’s” in that equation for me, but I hope they exceed my expectations.
“Best Case 86 Wins – Worst Case 70 Wins
SP: The Reds got 80 starts from Adleman, Arroyo, Bonilla, Davis, Feldman, McGuire, Reed. Stephens, Stephenson, & Wojciechowski. Those 80 starts will come from Bailey, Castillo, Romano, Desclafani, Mahle, Garrett, Finnegan. I admit there are a lot of unknowns here, but they can’t be worse than those 80 starts, right?
RP: The signings of Hernandez and Hughes alone will take some of the pressure off. Also, an improved rotation will help the bullpen from burning out.
Infield: We know what Votto & Suarez are. Scooter will likely regress to the back of his baseball card, but the arrival of Nick Senzel will help.
OF: Jesse Winker will contend for ROY and could approach .300/.400/.500. I think fewer AB for Duvall will help him stay productive later into the year. Schebler’s BABIP was woefully unlucky (~.250ish) and should return to the mean of ~.300.
Competition: The Pirates are going to be dreadful. They might not win 60 games. I admit the Brewers are improved, but the Cardinals aren’t
Pirates” – Kenneth Huber
Ken, I’m with you on their floor being around 70 losses. However, I can’t see this team winning 86 games last year. The Milwaukee Brewers were one of the great surprises of the 2017 season. They went from 73 wins in 2016 to 86 wins last year. A 13-win improvement is the best case scenario for the Reds this year.
I hope I’m wrong and you’re right. I could certainly see a scenario where Winker contends for rookie of the year. The rotation is younger and it has more upside than it has in recent seasons, but how much better is it?
That’s the question that will hover over this organization all season. How many of these young starters can be counted on?
Can Bailey be counted on?
“Eternal optimist, die-hard Reds fan, and your Twitter pal, Cincinnatij333, here. Now before you close this out, take a look. I have a few good reasons for why the Reds will split the difference this season.
First, Jesse Winker will take over the leadoff spot from Billy Hamilton. Winker has gotten on base at a .350+ clip his entire minor league career, and managed a .375 clip last year during his cup of coffee.
Now, you can say sample size and minor league stats translating and all that, but the OBP is one hing that stays with a player through the transition. He walks better than 10% of the time and strikes out less than 20% of the time, he’s going to be an electric leadoff hitter.
Secondly, Tyler Mahle. Barring any crazy setbacks, I think we know what we have in Luis Castillo. Enter the staff’s second ace. Mahle, for the last 3 years, has not had an xFIP (What his era would be, minus defensive factors) of more than 3.60.
The Reds have a solid defense, so I think they will reward his aggressive style of pitching.
Lastly, the bullpen will be solid. Now, this is contingent on them not getting burned out by June, again, but the new arms along with some young guys getting looks in the bullpen, I like it.
David Hernandez and Jared Hughes got me feeling good about their ability to hold down the 6th and 7th. Before they collapsed from extreme overuse, last year, Wandy Peralta and Michael Lorenzen has the 8th locked down.
They will pick that back up.
The biggest thing that I have to offer is this: if the rotation gives a quality start to this team 2 out of 3 games, I like 82 wins. Love the podcast man, and the Bengals one rocks, as well!” – @Cincinnatij333
I appreciate the kind words about both podcasts Frederick!
Thank you for you support and for the email. I’d take 82 wins right now and enjoy every second of it. I’m with you on Winker – I think he can give this team a huge boost. His play should also benefit Joey Votto.
Votto was great last season and I’d expect more of the same this year. If Castillo can be an ace-caliber starting pitcher like we saw last season, then it’ll give fans a pitcher to be excited about for years to come!
Mahle is interesting, but I have no idea what to expect from him. I can’t wait to see what happens with him and a lot of these young starters. We know they have talent, but can they be consistent?
Everyone expects the bullpen to be better. Unfortunately, that will only go so far if the starting rotation is inconsistent. I do think 82 wins would be enough to save Bryan Price’s job.
Everyone seems to be waiting on Barry Larkin to take over in 2019 – including Larkin, but there’s a path for Price to return next season.
Those were three emails I received on the 2018 season. I also received plenty of tweets. Check a few of them out below.
How many games will the #Reds win this season?
— Locked on Reds (@LockedOnReds) March 22, 2018
The Reds win 69 games this year. Last place. Sad to say, but this team did nothing to get better in offseason.
— Dennyg2 BengalsMod (@dennyg2) March 23, 2018
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.