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Cincinnati Reds

Thanksgiving: Thankful for Reds

Reds fans have plenty to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving. Here’s a few of the things to be thankful for, in no particular order.

Clay Snowden

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© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ahhhhhhhh finally Thanksgiving. Turkey, football, awkward distant family conversations, and naps. A top 3 holiday behind Christmas and Opening Day. I wanted to take a moment and say what Reds fans should be thankful for from 2019 (in no particular order).

Amir Garrett- What’s not to like? 78 strikeouts in 56 innings holding a 3.21 ERA and a 1.2 WAR. But numbers aside……HIS SWAG CANNOT BE TOUCHED. I love watching Amir pitch. The confidence coming out of the bullpen is much needed in the “baseball is boring” years. Fighting a bunch of punk Pirates? Check. Striking out Ohio native Kyle Schwarber and showing up the fake tough guy? Check.
The Punishers August- Name a more entertaining story to follow in the past few seasons? Aquino came on the scene and hit the cover off the ball. .320 avg. with *squints* 14 BOMBS and 33 RBI. Setting MLB records and giving fans a show. August was special because (slight) playoff hopes were alive, something we have not been able to say in recent years.

The Dodgers Trade- WE GOT MATT KEMP!!! Ok Ok sorry… BUT we did get Puig, Wood, and Farmer while getting rid of Christian Bale Homer Bailey. Man did Puig make Cincinnati buzz. His stint wasn’t long, but he provided the Reds with walk off hits, walk off runs, and taking on the entire punk Pirates team. Wood and Kemp didn’t provide much, however, Farmer did. Playing all over the field, and playing well, while also having several key pinch hits. Mostly thankful for Homer getting shipped out.

Starting pitching- Gray, Castillo, DeSclafani, Bauer. Castillo and Gray pitched at an all-star level and at times a Cy Young level. It was fun as hell to watch the movement on their pitches fool hitters all season. Disco had some great moments and I think we are excited for another offseason with the Reds pitching coaches. Bauer has tons of talent, let’s hope he can improve from last season and return to all-star form.

Suarez- What an easy player to love. One of the most underrated players in all of baseball provided some big pop in the Reds lineup. 49 dingers set a record for most of any Venezuelan player while coming up just short of the Reds season record. Signed through 2024 Suarez will be having fans smiling for years to come.

Those we might never see again- We all know that players change teams often. A look at previous year’s rosters always brings a smile to some names and PTSD to others. Two names that left an impression on the fanbase: Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias. Dietrich brought us early season memories delivering on Opening Day then pimping home runs and hitting 12 May home runs. Iglesias flashed silky smooth leather all season and hit well with 2 strikes. His career high 11 Homers wasn’t too shabby either. The last is @ObscureFormerRed Ryan Lavarnway! 18 at-bats with 5 hits and a 2 home run game. Brought on out of nowhere he came, he hit, he moved to another organization. But it was fun while it lasted.

Lastly- I want to thank you all. I want to thank Locked on Reds and Jeff. I have loved interacting on twitter and bouncing ideas off you all. Here’s to many more!
BONUS!!!

Thanksgiving Food Power Rankings:
Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Mac n cheese
Turkey
Rolls
Pecan Pie
Corn
Cornbread

Yuck: Pumpkin pie, stuffing, cranberry anything

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Cincinnati Reds

Locked On Reds Mailbag

You’ve got Reds questions and Clay Snowden has Reds answers!

Clay Snowden

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© Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

What do you think Tyler Stephenson? What do you think of the future of the catching position looks like? (@transredsfan)

Stephenson is one of my favorite prospects. Good offensive catchers are hard to come by. Since struggling earlier in his career with injuries, Stephenson has put together strong offensive years. I would bet he is the 2020 Opening Day starter if all goes as planned. Behind him, the Reds are slim in organizational depth. 2016 second round pick Chris Okey has struggled at every level. Barnhart and Casali are both pretty good options, but I do not see either being a long term answer.

Which non 40-man roster player will have a big spring? (@JoeFain5)

A spot or two is up for grabs on the roster, especially in the pen. Lodolo will be impressive, but I think he will start in the minor regardless of performance. I have always liked Alex Powers and he is ready to contribute. Matt Davidson has the pop, but he plays a position that is crowded. Christian Colon could earn a backup SS role. He had a great spring in 2019 and an impressive year at AAA Louisville.

Outfielders most likely to be on the roster Opening Day? Starting Lineup? (@ChrisSchloemer)

As I was answering this the Reds signed Nicholas Castellanos. This throws a huge wrench into projecting the OF due to having too many options. Someone will be traded and Senzel has the most value.

C – Barnhart
1B – Votto
2B – Moustakas
SS- Glavis (most likely someone different via trade of an OF)
3B – Suarez
LF – Winker
CF – Senzel/ Akiyama depending on trades
RF – Castellanos

What throwback uniforms will the Reds wear this season? (@William46676045)

Last season the Reds wore throwbacks to celebrate 150 years of Reds baseball. It was awesome, too. The 1976, 1967, and 1999 were my favorite. The 1902, 1911, and 1936 I could do without. I’d like to see the Reds wear all of them again, but I would imagine we could see some of the player’s favorites. The collared jerseys were not the favorite amongst players.

Win projection if the Reds sign Castellanos? (@OdetoRedsWS)

Well, they did sign him. A big bat will be added to the middle of the order. What that means for the other 45 outfielders on the roster….who knows. I would think this adds at least 2 wins to the Reds in 2020.

If you could use one statistic as a measure for a player’s ability which would you use and why? (@soffenbaker)
People love and hate some stats. Some loved Iglesias’ 2 strike average. I didn’t really care about it. For hitters, I like OBP because I think getting on base leads to run production. Overall, I like WAR (wins above replacement). I know many do not like it, but it gives a value that most fans can pin to a player when comparing him to others. Good players will have bad stats, but no good player will have a bad WAR.

Who do you go get now? (Jamlung429)

The weakest position is short. Most of the top SS would cost a lot. But, considering the crowded outfield and that the Reds haven’t traded any prospects this offseason, go get that final piece. Senzel, prospect(s) and get a top 5 SS. Who that will be is tough to predict. I like Bogaerts but the Red Sox might not want to trade him.

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Cincinnati Reds

Reds are All In

Whether or not the moves made pan out in a few months, there can be no doubt that the Reds are all in to win.

Dave Pemberton

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It was quietly mandated by the fanbase that the Reds go “ALL IN” this year. It started last year the night before the trade deadline.  I wrote an article saying to trust the front office after the Reds traded away Yasiel Puig and Taylor Trammell for Trevor Bauer which at the time didn’t seem great on the surface. Since that trade for Bauer, Dick Williams and Nick Krall have been busy.

The middle infield was the glaring need of this team. First big splash this offseason was Mike Moustakas for 4 yrs/$64million. While the Reds will have him playing second base, he was considered the best free agent available at that position this offseason.  Moose posted a 3.2 WAR (Baseball Reference), wRC+ 113 (Fangraphs), and OPS+ 114 (Baseball Reference) for the 2019 season while making the All Star team. Much welcomed stats for a team that struggled mightily to bring in runs last year.

Their next big splash shored up there starting rotation as the best in the NL Central, and one of the best in the MLB, with the signing of Wade Miley for 2yrs/$15 Million. Miley provided the Astros with 167.1 innings, 116 ERA+, and 4.51 FIP in 2019 according to Baseball Reference. I might add Miley will be reunited with Derek Johnson who he played under for the Brewers in 2018. In 2018 Miley provided the Brewers a 159 ERA+ and 3.59 FIP in a half year of work. This means the Reds starting rotation would consist of Gray, Castillo, Bauer, Disco and Miley. A projected 20.2 fWAR as a starting rotation ranking fourth in the National League.  We have all seen what Johnson was able to do with Gray and Castillo last season. Will Miley be the next chapter of Johnson’s miracle work once they are reunited? More insane is the complete 180 the pitching staff has become in just one year. If Miley had signed in 2017 or 2018 there’s a real chance he might have been the Opening Day starter. Now he’s the 4th or 5th guy in a loaded starting rotation.

Finally, we come to the most recent signing in Shogo Akiyama for 3 yrs/$21 million. Shogo was the top free agent from Japan sought after by many clubs, including the Cubs. Playing at the highest level of Japanese baseball Shogo slashed .302/.392/.471 in 2019. For the most part his OBP has stayed around the .390 mark in recent years. OBP is probably one of the best stats that carries over from Japanese baseball which is promising for the Reds. Per the Reds front office they seem him as being able to play anywhere in the outfield as well. Probably the biggest concern with Shogo is that he is already 31 years old. Hopefully the Reds can get some amazing value out of this deal with Shogo in his prime.

This totals over $100 million spent, already, through free agency this season for the Reds. Our closest competition ranks among the lowest spending in free agency this offseason. The Cubs and Pirates have committed NOTHING in serious free agency contracts. The Cubs are looking to dump payroll and possibly trade Kris Bryant. The Pirates are a proverbial dumpster fire in rebuild mode. The Cardinals have their fan base banking on a trade for Arenado to be there savior this season. That won’t come cheap since Arenado is one of the elite third basemen in the league. Not to mention he is owed roughly $234 million through 2026. The Brewers have now lost Moustakas, Grandal, Thames, or 13 of the 25 players on their 2019 playoff roster. The Reds are absolutely seizing the day when it comes to taking advantage of the economic situation the rest of the division is in.

Many believe the biggest surprises are yet to come. Freddy Galvis is the projected starting shortstop for the Reds as of right now. In my personal opinion that is unacceptable with the current roster. Dick Williams addressed this issue a few weeks ago when he was on with Lance McAlister. He stated their openness to possibly moving Senzel, Suarez, or a potential player acquired through trade to that position. Any hopes of getting Lindor Correa or Story through trade have cooled in recent weeks. The Reds have been attached to Corey Seager, superstar shortstop with the Dodgers in trade rumors. Seager could come at a steal of a price for a player who has posted 4 WAR in his three full seasons and two years of contract control. There is a lot of history of the two teams trading, as well. Adding even more fuel to the fire is that the Reds are still attached to possibly signing Nicholas Castellanos to an already overcrowded outfield with Senzel, Winker, Aquino, Shogo, and Ervin. Castellanos has expressed interest in being a part of a team going after a championship, being a leader in the clubhouse, and in recent years he’s been hitting his stride. For the past two seasons he’s had an OPS+ greater than 120 and just shy of a 3 WAR according to Baseball Reference. At the very least the Reds could sign him to an Ozuna-like deal for one year overpriced. You sacrifice none of your prospect capital if this is the only move till Opening Day. Something the Reds have been pretty damn good at in recent years all things considered.
If they they are able to make one of these moves before Opening Day your probably looking at a 90 win team. I feel like if the Reds could somehow pull off a trade for Seager and signing Castellanos it would be hard to argue that they didn’t go “All In” this offseason. They would be the clear cut front runner to win the NL Central and hopefully a serious playoff run. If so that would keep Dick Williams promise for a record Opening Day payroll.

What I found more newsworthy is that Dick Williams said, at a recent stop on the Reds Caravan that his objective this season was a World Series championship. I’m not going to try and argue that this team is a serious contender for the World Series. I would be lying to you if I did. Personally, I think the team as currently constructed will go 85-77. I think their ceiling is NL Central champions and there floor is 81 wins. However, if Dick Williams and Nick Krall, who have been honest with their promises to the fan base so far, can truly go “All In” we should see something in the near future that make our beloved Redlegs something to talk about all season.  

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Cincinnati Reds

Bounce Back and a Breakout: Bullpen

Here are a few guys to keep an eye on, in the bullpen, as we near pitchers and catchers reporting.

Clay Snowden

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© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2019 didn’t go as well as fans had hoped. Starting pitching was great, but the bullpen was not. Wandy Peralta, Zach Duke, David Hernandez, Jared Hughes, Kevin Gausman, and others are gone. How the bullpen will shake out is yet to be known, but I wanted to highlight a breakout and bounce back candidate.

Bounce Back: Raisel Iglesias

Honorable mention: Sal Romano

Since transitioning from a starter to a closer, Iglesias has been a hell of a pitcher. 2016 169 ERA+ 2017 181 ERA+ 2018 176 ERA+ 2019….109 ERA+. Iglesias had an ERA of 2.53 or lower from 2016-2018 but it ballooned to 4.16 in 2019. 2019 saw a new career high in saves, 34, while also setting a career high in losses, 12, up from his previous high of 7. Iglesias was disgruntled with his role while fans were upset with his play leading to trade rumors. 2020 is a new year and I think Iglesias will have a major bounce back.

We have all seen the talent. There’s no question if he has the stuff. For whatever reason, relievers seem to have on and off years (Looking at you Hughes and Hernandez). Iglesias threw his sinker only 10% of the time last season, which is the lowest of his career. He’s thrown it as much as 40% (2015) and his previous low was 22.6% (2017). Getting back to the sinker could help Iglesias improve in 2020.

Iglesias’ “advanced” analytics look great in the above graphic (thanks baseball savant). Spin rates have never been talked about more and Iglesias still looks good in that department. There’s simply too much talent in his arm to have another pedestrian season.

Prediction from Baseball Reference: 3.82 ERA 20 saves 1.227 WHIP.

Breakout: Joel Kuhnel

Honorable Mention: Jose De Leon

2019 saw a #66 steal the hearts of Cincinnati and now a different #66 will do the same. 6’5” 260 isn’t quiet Jumbo Diaz size but Kuhnel stands out, and so does his fastball. Topping out at 99 MPH Kuhnel has the stuff to blow past hitters. Bullpen arms don’t need several pitches if the two you throw, you throw well. His fastball slider combo could lead to plenty of strikeouts. The bullpen is starving for another reliable arm and Kuhnel will have every chance to earn a role. When I watch him pitch it reminds me of Bobby Jenks, now let’s hope he can pitch as well as Jenks. Still only 24 years old, as Sinatra once said the best is yet to come.

Prediction from Baseball Reference: 4.50 ERA 1.300 WHIP

Here’s a video of some heat:

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/sporty-videos?playId=7e2df1c2-8cb6-4ead-af4d-7def5bd3dc80

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