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Cincinnati Reds

Sunday mailbag – Fans discuss their expectations for the 2018 season

James Rapien

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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

NL Central:

Cubs

Brewers

Reds

Cardinals

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.

https://twitter.com/MattAdkins21/status/977166821181874176

James covers the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds for ESPN 1530 and 700 WLW in Cincinnati. He hosts shows on both stations, including Cincy 3:60 from 12pm-1pm daily on ESPN 1530. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Feel free to email him your ideas, fantasy football questions and hot takes.

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Cincinnati Reds

Remembering Reds: Corky Miller

Among the Reds’ fan favorites is a man not known for his statistical achievements, but for simply how awesome he was.

Clay Snowden

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Morgan, Bench, Robinson, Larkin, and Miller. All names that Reds fans recog…wait, Miller? As in Corky Miller? Absolutely. Corky Miller, the minor league catcher with 539 career MLB at bats. The Miller that holds a career .193/.277/.306 53 OPS+ and a 0.0 WAR, yet everyone knows his name. And adores him. His stats won’t jump off the page, but his laid back attitude and fu Manchu leave a mark on your memory.
Signed by the Reds in 1998, Miller did not reach the show until 2001. In his 11 year career spanning from 2001-2013 (didn’t appear in 2011/2012) Miller never played more than 39 games in one season. So how did he become a household name? Well, probably because he looks more like your fun uncle than your favorite team’s catcher. Now don’t get me wrong, Corky brought value to the teams he was on. He was as much as a coach/mentor as he was a ballplayer. You will still find him in the Reds organization helping the young catchers develop. Let’s take a look at some of Corky’s highlights.

Corky steals home

https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=1802290979915796

When you think about baseball players stealing home you might immediately think about the great Jackie Robinson sliding in against the Yankees as Yogi Berra losses his mind at the “safe” call. Hell, you might even think about Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez pulling off the impossible feat in the last scene of the Sandlot. Well, Corky Miller joined this elite group on September 27th, 2001. As Omar Daal of the Phillies threw to first Miller showed off his wheels as his much slimmer self had a perfect slide under the tag. Miller walked back to the dugout as if he’s done this 1,000 times. Incredible swagger.

The Dancing KING

Fast forward to late June 2013. Miller finds himself back in a Reds uniform for the first time since 2010. Looking more like the Corky we know and love, sporting the fu Manchu, Miller shows off his quick footwork. Juan Uribe flies out to Jay Bruce who’s throw home took Corky off to the left of home. Hanley Ramirez, not the best baserunner himself, runs past home, retreats, dances around the grounded Miller only to be tagged on the third attempt while flailing towards home. This is so ugly that it is absolutely beautiful.

The Next Cy Young

Corky was more than a catcher and fan favorite. He was an elite pitcher. Well, maybe not elite. Over his career in the minors he pitched 7.2 innings and surrendered 14 hits, 13 earned runs and struck out 2. But in 2012 while playing for the Louisville Bats he pitched a scoreless inning. Down 13-0 in the bottom of the 8th, Miller came in to throw some rainbows in the general direction of home plate. A fly out to left, a pop out to first, and a fly out to right Miller put down the Columbus batters in order.

While his career might not stand out, Miller’s impact has. One of the beloved players in the clubhouse, he has mentored many young catchers along the way. Here’s to many more great years to Corky!

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Cincinnati Reds

How a Shortened Season can Help and Hurt the Reds

step back and attempt to look at the way the Reds can benefit from a possible shortened season and how it could hurt them.

Clay Snowden

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The world is in an obscure and unsure place. Today we were supposed to be watching a parade and cheering on the Redlegs. Instead, we are confused about the future of the 2020 season as we watch the 7th straight episode of a Netflix series, perfecting social distancing. How the 2020 season will be played has yet to be determined. I want to take a step back and attempt to look at the way the Reds can benefit from a possible shortened season and how it could hurt them.

Each day that passes without baseball is a day closer to a season without 162 games. For the sake of argument, let’s say the season is somewhere between 75-100 games. What ways can that benefit the Reds?

1. They can get healthy. Suarez, Senzel, and Galvis (amongst others) have battled some spring injuries. Extra time off only helps their recovery and could lead to a 100% healthy “Opening Day” lineup. Although Galvis is not a top ten talent at short, he is much better than the current back up options. Luckily, he should be ready to go and 100%.

2. The rotation can be a great strength. We all know how strong the current rotation is. The Reds could adjust the strategy because you won’t be worried about getting starters 32 starts and 200ish innings. With a compact season, you could let starters go deeper in games, or even go to a shorter rotation because you won’t be trying to strength out the innings over several months. Bauer and Disco are both on contract years and will be laser-focused on making the most of their fewer starts to prove their value come next offseason. If the league goes heavy on doubleheaders, Mahle and a few others could step up into the expanded rotation and stronger than many team’s depth starters.

3. How a shorten season benefits Votto? As Joey ages, he will need more days off, especially if the decline is steady. If Joey does not have to prepare himself for 162 games, it could lead to better results as he would be fresher. We all know he can get off to slow starts and avoiding that would be crucial in a shortened season.

How can the shortened season hurt the Reds?

1. David Bell is still a new manager. Fresh, unproven, inexperienced. At times in 2019, he cost the Reds some games. There is little to no margin for error in a short season. Each game means more and the lineup experimenting with playing players out of position won’t fly. Managerial experience will be extremely important in 2020 and hopefully Bell has improved after year one.

2. Lack of important experience for prospects. Tyler Stephenson, Jose Garcia, Jonathan India, and many other prospects are missing out on developmental time. This one really stings. A couple of the Reds top prospects are projected to be on the 2021 roster but needed some time in higher levels of the minors to learn and iron out a few things. You can train and work with coaches during this time, but the actual game experience cannot be overlooked.

3. Pressure. Obviously, every game counts each season. But a shortened season stresses the importance of each game. The Reds cannot afford to go on a losing streak as they did at the beginning of 2019. The expectations for 2020 remain high, and the pressure to perform is building. The adjustment to the MLB for Shogo must happen fast. Senzel has to stay healthy. The margin of error shrinks and pressure goes up. Iglesias cannot struggle to close out games or he’ll be replaced.

The 2020 season won’t be ideal. No one wants it to be this way. Watching 162 games a year is a joy and I will miss the routine of watching the Reds every night. Let’s hope this shortened season feels and plays like a playoff series where every aspect of the game is emphasized and more important. Here’s to everyone staying safe and healthy, and the Reds winning the pennant.

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Cincinnati Reds

March Mailbag

Take a look at a few thoughts before we get this 2020 season underway!

Clay Snowden

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© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

What is this team’s greatest weakness and how do they go about addressing it? (@GeraldSHuber)

To me, it has to be defense. (Here’s an article I wrote about it: https://bit.ly/2wft1Bs ). Tucker and Casali are fine but not spectacular, Votto is mediocre, Moose is an unknown, and the outfield defense leaves you wanting more. Galvis is great at short, but many others could be troublesome. If defense is your greatest weakness, you probably have a pretty good team.

How many years until we see Jose Garcia? (@smoffe87)

Everyone’s new favorite prospect, and he should be. The future is bright. Garcia has yet to reach AA, where he’ll likely start this season. In high A Daytona he hit .280/.343/.436 with 8 HR and 37 (!) doubles. No need to rush the 21-year-old, but he likely is the SS in 2021 if all goes according to plan. The lack of depth at SS could rush him if injuries happen or he hits the cover off the ball.

Who will lead off? What do they do with Schebler, Reed, Mahle, and other players without options? (@StachlerJames)

Shogo Akiyama should see time as the leadoff. A career .376 OBP who has been closer to .400 in recent years (NPB league) has a chance to be a real difference maker.

Schebler, I think, will end up being traded or DFA. Reed has a tough first start, but its early and he looked great in limited time last season. Another lefty in the pen not named Peralta or Duke is welcomed. Mahle has an option and likely is headed to Louisville to get regular starts. The Reds will likely need him to start at some point during the season. Sims likely earns a pen spot, Travis Jankowski could be the final spot if injuries occur. His speed and defense are useful.

Is Senzel going to be a utility player or end up getting traded? (@GerryYnciarte65)

Being a super utility is not a bad thing. Ben Zobrist was a hell of a player in that role. However, I think Senzel will be seeing plenty of time in CF splitting with Akiyama. His bat is too good to be a true bench player. I don’t think he will be traded. It feels like he would have already been moved if that was the plan.

 

If Tucker or Casali get hurt do they let Farmer catch or Stephenson? (@OdeToRedsWS)

Catcher organizational depth is lacking. Stephenson could be the option if he is hitting well in AAA Louisville. I think we see him at some point this season. Only other catcher in the organization with MLB experience besides Casali and Tucker is Francisco Pena (190 AB .216/.249/.311). His stats are underwhelming at the plate but he’s a veteran and that carries value. Sadly, I doubt we see former Red great Ryan Lavarnway in 2020. Add Garcia and Stephenson to this lineup in 2021 and that team is very strong.

 

Over/Under….When do the Reds give up on the mix-n-match platoon ideas and have a regular lineup? Line is May 31st. (MTGPackFoils)  

The days of the “same lineup everyday” are gone. And they should be. Putting out the same lineup doesn’t always mean the results will follow. Some players hit lefties but not righties and some hit righties and not lefties. Play the best players for each situation. Platooning can lead to the best results at times. So OVER. (More on that here: https://bit.ly/38cbCXD)

 

What are your thoughts on Shogo playing mostly center or left, if Senzel is healthy? (@Win1SuperBowl)

As it stands today, the outfield is crowded. It will play itself out. Akiyama can play all three OF positions and I could see him getting at-bats in the corner OF when Senzel is in CF. There’s true competition for at-bats this season and that’s absolutely a good thing. Players will have to earn their playing time.

Who is the backup SS? (@GebzillaG)

Kyle Famer. He ‘s such a unique player who can play all over the field. He was a college SS and has worked their early this spring. Across all levels he’s seen 76 innings at SS and hasn’t recorded and error. Blandino could also be the back up SS. Blandino has 60.2 innings at short in the MLB and is a .941 fielder there. 1692 innings at short in the minors with a .951 fielding %.

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