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Cincinnati Reds

The Best Bench in Baseball

The Cincinnati Reds have the best bench in all of baseball, and you don’t really have to squint that much to see it.

Dave Pemberton

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© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the headline caught your eye, let me tell you why that is probably not an embellishment. The 2018 Cincinnati Reds Opening Day bench consisted of Adam Duvall, Devin Mesoraco, Cliff Pennington, Phil Gosselin, and Phillip Ervin. Duvall and Mesoraco were both traded by the deadline. Duvall had the worst year of his career and Mesoraco continued his decline. Pennington and Gosselin were both released by the end of May.

Cut to today. The Reds have the most depth on the bench since 1999. On paper the 2019 Reds bench might be better than that 1999 team that would help win 96 games. Many of them would even be starters on almost any other Major League roster.

Lets start with the infield. The obvious choices seem to be Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias. Both play nearly every infield position. They both bat around .260 AVG and .320 OBP. Both were mostly starters for there organizations for the past two years. Both seemed determined to stick it to there previous organizations. And both were a steal for the Reds to acquire.

Alex Blandino was the obvious choice to be one of the bench infielders prior to the signing of Dietrich and Iglesias. Blandino is still trying to overcome his injuries from last season. I am sure if he cant get healthy injuries will help him find a way to get playing time on this roster. His 2018 season proved he’s capable of being an adequate backup infielder in the majors.

Next we look at the outfielders who may start the season on the bench. Most reports have Jesse Winker in left field and Yasiel Puig in right field as Opening Day starters. Center field however is the only position up for grabs. This in combination with the talent the Reds have in the outfield provides the Reds with unreal depth at these positions

I can’t believe I am even mention this name as a possible bench player but Matt Kemp. He seems hell bent this spring training on being an everyday player. His age and history with injuries prove show that may not be in the cards. Kemp had a resurgent year with his former team the Dodgers making the All-Star team. While I don’t expect him to be an everyday starter I don’t think that leaves out the possibility of it happening periodically. Especially if his bat shows up again this season.

Scott Schebler is a left hander that can play anywhere you ask him too. His history shows his bat can be more than adequate when needed. Schebler was able to put up over 30 HR’s in 2017. For his career as Reds player Schebler has a .248 AVG and .323 OBP. Now Schebler has the most competition for work in his career. I expect him to elevate his game to meet the challenge. While not an everyday starter he excel off the bench.

Phillip Ervin. IS. MY. DUDE. I hate, hate, hate the fact Ervin is probably going to start the season in Louisville. He currently leads the Cactus league in HR’s. He’s talked about how new hitting coach Turner Ward has helped improve his mechanics at the plate. Even up until part of August of last season he was batting north of .300. He completely dropped off in September finishing with .252 AVG and .324 OBP. If we were judging based on current talent I’d choose him over Schebler in heart beat. However, Ervin still has minor league options making him the front runner not to make the Opening Day roster. This of course is unless they decide to control Nick Senzel’s contract an extra year by benching him for the first two weeks of the season.

Nick Senzel is the future of this organization. Most current projections show him as the Reds starting center fielder Opening Day. Senzel has made it clear he will do anything to get playing time. He’s rotated from third to short to second. Each step of the way finding an establish player in the way with Suarez, Pereza, and Scooter. MLB Pipeline has him rated as the sixth best prospect in all of baseball. Many believe he is very capable of winning batting titles in future. His beginning cannot wait any longer. Senzel has shown he is capable of being adequate in center field. A position up until this year he had never played. I am calling it now his bat helps him to win the NL Rookie of the Year. I hope the Reds find any and everyway they can to get him into the lineup. Whether that’s starting center field, pinch hitting, or filling in for the infield. I pray as a sign of good faith to Senzel they do not screw him over by trying to control his contract at the beginning of the year. We did that last season and we all remember how that worked out.

Lastly, Curt Casali seems like the shoe in for backing up Tucker Barnhart. Casali quietly assembled a impressive 2018 season. In 156 plate appearances he totaled a .293 AVG and .355 OBP for 2018. I by no means expect that from Casali this season but am interested to see how he progresses. If not the Reds still have Kyle Farmer the forgotten man in the big trade with the Dodgers this offseason to get his shot.

In summary the 2019 Cincinnati Reds have little to worry if they need to rely on there bench for support this season. There bench at it’s worst is adequate. Many of these players would be starting on any other team. The Reds have an abundance of talent in the starting eight for this team making it very difficult. As excited as I am about the starting lineup I am equally excited to see what many of these guys are going to surprise us with off the bench this year.

I grew up engulfed in baseball. My grandfather had season tickets for the Reds from 1970 until 2002. I was raised in a neighborhood that was essentially the Sandlot set in the 1990's but with even more kids. We played from the minute we woke up until it was too dark to see the ball. Then we'd spend the night at someones house playing baseball video games, talking about baseball cards, or watching it on television. I idolized Barry Larkin as fielder, hitter, and leader. I was fortunate enough to play baseball through high school. Now I am a registered nurse, married way out of my league, and have two amazing kids that will exceed anything I ever do in this life. I am fortunate enough to have a Reds season ticket package with my close friends and family. The Reds ballpark is my second home. Baseball has provided me with some of my most treasured memories shared over four generations.

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Cincinnati Reds

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

Clay Snowden

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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.

Pitchers:

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.

 

Catchers:

Rocky Gale

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.

 

Infielders:

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.

 

Outfielders:

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.

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Cincinnati Reds

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.

Jeff

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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.

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Cincinnati Reds

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.

Jeff

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Eugenio Suarez – He should be the Reds best hitter and I believe he will regain that title in 2021.
  4. Mike Moustakas – Moose has always been a run driver-inner and, if things are going well he will continue to do so.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

 

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