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Cincinnati Reds

The necessity of avoiding short-sighted decisions

Jacob Rude

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Winning solves everything.

It’s an adage that I strongly believe in and one that can be put applied to the Cincinnati Reds.

Twenty-one games into the season, everything was awful. Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler had missed a noteworthy amount of time, the Reds were 3-18, Bryan Price had been fired, Nick Senzel was still in Triple-A, fan interest was at an all-time low and the front office had serious questions that needed to be answered.

Fast forward to present-day and the Reds are 39-51 and are one of the hottest teams in baseball. Take any sample size you’d like after the 3-18 start and you’ll see the Reds are a much-improved team, one that is above .500 and one that more resembles the version that fans expected to see.

The Reds are fun again, maybe for the first extended time during the rebuild, and finally, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a contending Reds team in the future.

With that said, this version of the Reds is not a contender. As much fun as the team is, as vastly improved as they are and how promising they project to be, there are still plenty of holes to fill.

The rebuild is not done. It is in the final stages. It’s rounding the final curve and heading down the front stretch. The Reds must finish out the process rather than start patting themselves on the back. They cannot afford to be shortsighted.

There have been a couple red flags that have arisen as the Reds have begun streaking, starting at the top of the clubhouse with interim manager Jim Riggleman.

It’s easy to look at Riggleman and marvel at the job he’s done. Under him, the Reds are playing .500 baseball and have vastly improved both on the mound and at the plate. They look like a completely different team when you compare it to the one that played the first month of the season.

Suggestions of removing the interim tag from his title were premature at best and reckless at worst. Nothing Riggleman has done would indicate he’s demonstrably better than either Price or another candidate available. While he’s a generally good game manager, his fixation with bunting, for example, has cost the Reds more often than not.

More than just Riggleman himself, though, the process of removing the interim tag from Riggleman’s title would be a remarkably short-sighted move. It’s imperative the Reds go through a wide-spread search for a manager that should also include Riggleman. An added byproduct of the Reds’ recent streak of success is that more successful managers may find the Reds’ job more appealing. The franchise is on the last legs of the rebuild and is an appealing team.

Joe Girardi, for example, was a name tossed around mostly by fans as a potential hire last off-season. At the time, it seemed unlikely Girardi would go from a title contending team to one in a rebuild. Now, this upcoming winter, would a manager like Girardi more strongly consider a spot with the Reds when they go through the searching process?

If, after that process, Riggleman is the best candidate available, then that’s one thing. But skipping that process altogether would be a terrible decision.

In the same vein, the trade deadline will be a critical stretch for the Reds. While the Reds have become fun again, their horrid start to the season means that they’re still miles away from playoff contention. Because of that, it’s equally important for the Reds not to grow too fond of the assets they have and ensure they make the best move for the team to win next season and not next month.

Take Scooter Gennett, for example. He’s an All-Star second baseman who the Reds acquired for essentially nothing as a waiver claim. He’s a fan favorite who had one of the greatest moments in Reds history last season with his four-homer game.

He should be traded for a ton of reasons. His stock will never be higher. After spending much of the last year assuming he would regress this season, it appears Gennett might legitimately be one of the best offensive second basemen in the league. There’s a market for that. A large one.

More than that, second base is, by far, the deepest position in the Reds’ organization. The team moved star prospect Nick Senzel to second while fellow top-five prospect Shed Long is also a second baseman. Alex Blandino and Dilson Herrera are both on the active roster and are second basemen.

Moving Gennett could net the Reds are large return and fill one of the handful of holes left to make the Reds a contending team.

On the fringe side of the trade market, outfielders Adam Duvall and Billy Hamilton should be shopped heavily. Duvall should have been dealt two years ago in his All-Star season and his value has plummeted since. At this point, he probably has value as a bench bat and would open up the path for consistent playing time from Jesse Winker.

Hamilton, meanwhile, has been red-hot over nearly the last month. On one hand, you could convince yourself that he’s turning it around and that he’s finally figured it out. Or, it’s another hot spell Hamilton has been prone to in his inconsistent career. Instead of being sucked in once more, the Reds should capitalize on the hot streak and find a landing spot for Hamilton.

Players like Raisel Iglesias, Scott Schebler, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez and really anyone on the roster could be had for the right price. Iglesias, in particular, could bring in such a massive haul that it could bring the finishing pieces to the rebuild.

The Reds are on the brink of ending the rebuild. They’ll have to make a handful of critical moves that could morph this team out of the cellar and into a contender.

Jacob is a journalist and lifelong sports fan across the board. From soccer to basketball to baseball, he enjoys watching his favorite team’s break his heart. After finishing up at Indiana University and majoring in journalism, Jacob is now a sports editor during the day and an online journalist at night.

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Cincinnati Reds

LET’S GO REDS COUNTRY!

Now, in almost-March, we are looking forward to the 2019 season like a kid would the start of the summer.

Dave Pemberton

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This time last season I was praying for a sub par 77 win season from the Reds. By the time April had ended I was praying for the 2018 Cincinnati Reds not to go down in history as THE worst in franchise history. My group of friends and I decided to get a 20 game package last year and it was almost comical that they lost the first 8 games we attended. Besides the bit of offensive excitement this team showed in June and July, and solid bullpen performance throughout the year, it was a forgetful season. I think what worried me most was the discussion my friends and I had at the last home game of the season. Wasn’t this supposed to be the last year of “The Rebuild?” What did we have to look forward to in 2019? Besides that, how in the heck was this franchise going to be competitive with an almost stagnant front office making no moves.

Friday evening, December 21st, I was standing in line with my wife and kids, getting ready to see Santa Clause, when I received a text from a friend. No joke, I thought it was some edited photo. Just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating I had my wife read what was in the photo. “Cincinnati Reds add Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood in trade with Los Angeles Dodgers”. Never in a million years would I think that trade was a possibility. Then I thought I was really hallucinating when I saw was all the Dodgers got in return was Homer Bailey and a little known prospect. These aren’t some mediocre players, these are All-Star caliber guys that make you want to come to the ballpark, or at least tune in, every night to see what happens next. Puig has not even played a game in a Reds uniform yet but somehow managed to ignite Reds Country this offseason with his media blitz.  Dick Williams and Nick Krall are now clearly in control of the front office. Many articles had stated Castellini had decided to step aside of being involved in personnel moves this offseason. This 180 degree turn has proved to be almost magical for this franchise. The Reds were the talk of the offseason finding themselves associated with nearly any and all trade rumors and free agents. Williams and Krall were able to add Tanner Roark and Sonny Gray (with a contract extension at a team friendly deal) to the starting staff. They were able to acquire all of this new, exciting talent while holding on to their most valuable prospects in Senzel, Trammell, Greene, and India. These are the type of moves you try to make in a video game and the game rejects the offers because they are so absurd. They did so by not adding a ton of payroll to this team for the long term as well. Meaning in 2020 they Reds can still go out and spend some dough. Williams and Krall have made the 2019 offseason like some exciting Netflix series where you want to see what will happen next.

When I set my expectation for any of the teams I root for I try to be realistic instead of optimistic. This is the stark reality that comes with being a Cincinnati sports fan right now. I think the Reds go 81-81 for the 2019 season. I do feel if anything I am selling this team short with that expectation. Puig, Kemp, Wood, Roark and even Scooter are all in contract seasons. You see it all the time in nearly every major professional sport. When the opportunity to earn that big paycheck comes those players somehow magically turn out one of the best seasons of their careers. Winker back to full health for the first time in his entire professional career. Senzel if given the opportunity could become a Rookie of the Year candidate. Add to the mix you have Votto poised for a huge comeback season and a lineup that no team can pitch around, now. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation that everyone, but maybe Barnhart, could potentially bat above .275 in the regular starting lineup. The bullpen, the one solid performer last year, comes back largely intact with even more depth. You add to that several young pitchers trying to make a name for themselves in what could be some their final opportunities (Stephenson, Finnegan, Disco, Reed, Mahle, Ramano, and Castillo). Plus, perhaps the biggest turn around, our starting rotation comprised of solid veterans and young guys on the cusp of catching there breakout seasons. No longer will this be a copy and paste rotation that changes almost entirely every couple of weeks with an ace that unhealthy and unmotivated.  I truly don’t think its a far reach to see this team as serious contenders in the playoff race come the end of September.

The conversation we had with our group of season ticket holders aka #RoughneckReds completely changed. In September we were looking forward to the 2019 season like getting your tags on your car renewed at the BMV. Now, in almost-March, we are looking forward to the 2019 season like a kid would the start of the summer. We can’t wait for it to start and hope to enjoy every minute of it. Until then I will continue to enjoy every second of the most exciting offseason in my lifetime. The Reds might not be done just yet making this team a contender for 2019. I cannot wait to see all you beautiful Reds fans down at the Findlay Market Parade, The Banks, and finally the ballpark. LET’S GO REDS COUNTRY!!!

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Cincinnati Reds

Which Non-Roster Players to Watch

The Cincinnati Reds will play their first spring training game of 2019 this Saturday. While there are stories and discussion such as Nick Senzel’s usage this year and who will be the opening day starter, I wanted to break down the non-roster invitees.

Clay Snowden

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© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds will play their first spring training game of 2019 this Saturday. While there are stories and discussion such as Nick Senzel’s usage this year and who will be the opening day starter, I wanted to break down the non-roster invitees.
A spring training non-roster invite list usually is constructed of veterans that are trying for one last push to make an MLB roster or are trying to prove themselves coming off of an injury. It also includes promising young players who have high upside but have not been added to the 40 man roster. As of today, the invite list looks like this:

Pitchers:
Anthony Bass
Buddy Boshers
Oldrisamer Despaigne
Vladimir Gutierrez
Felix Jorge
Ian Krol
Alex Powers
Tony Santillan

Catchers:
Juan Graterol
Chris Okey
Tyler Stephenson

Infielders:
Christian Colon
Alfredo Rodriguez
Nick Senzel
Derek Dietrich

Outfield:
Aristides Aquino
TJ Friedl
Brian O’Grady
Jordan Patterson
Taylor Trammell
Mason Williams
Kyle Wren

The average fan is probably asking themselves….who? The group of pitchers is headlined by Tony Santillan who has landed in the back half (69 Baseball America) of some “MLB Top 100 Prospects” list. He won the Reds minor league pitcher of the year last year while playing in AA Pensacola. I would be very surprised to see him on the opening day roster, but he is a guy you should watch in spring and follow throughout the year. Vladimir Gutierrez and Alex Powers are both young players with upside. Boshers and Krol both have MLB experience and are lefties but with the recent Zack Duke signing and having Finnegan, Peralta, Reed, and Garrett all on the roster it is unlikely to see Boshers or Krol make the team.
The catchers have two players that the Reds have selected early in recent drafts with Chris Okey (2nd round, 2016) and Tyler Stephenson (1st round, 2015). Okey has struggled so far batting a mere .200 but is still developing. Stephenson’s career was plagued with injuries early on, but in 2018 he showed some promise batting .250 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI. At only 22, the young catcher will be in the minors this season but could be a promising part of the Reds future.
The infield has a name you will know; Nick Senzel. He is listed as an infielder but will be getting a shot to prove himself as the centerfielder of the Reds. Several things will have to happen for him to start on opening day. The Reds have some difficult decisions to make about his team control, a roster spot opening, and if he needs more time in centerfield. Dietrich was signed to a minor league contract but could make the team out of spring training. A veteran lefty bat that has played over 50 innings at 1B, 3B, LF, and 2B brings tremendous value to a team that could be carrying more pitchers than years past.
The outfield is crowded, and I do not see any of the non-roster guys making the team on opening day. You might recognize some names such as Mason Williams and Aristides Aquino (who both had at-bats with the Reds last year) but the name to know is Taylor Trammell. Drafted 35th overall in 2016 and has climbed the prospect rankings into the top 50. It was rumored that teams were trying to get him in the blockbuster trades this summer, but the Reds refused to include him. He likely won’t be in Cincinnati this year but remains a big piece of the future.

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Cincinnati Reds

Weekend Thoughts – Pitchers and Catchers

Jeff

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© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t a podcast over the weekends, but that doesn’t mean the Reds stop. This will be a weekly-weened column following Reds stuff, thinking about the Reds, and talking about the Reds. Just in case you need more reds.

Projections are upon us, with two really standing out. Fangraphs and PECOTA both have nice increases predicted for Cincinnati, as a reward for their diligent effort to rebuild in a hurry. Fangraphs says they’ll finish with as many wins as losses while PECOTA thinks they’ll be one win better, at 82-80. This is an awesome time of year…that we Reds fans have been robbed of the last four years. Sure, there were whispers of success right before spring training in each of those seasons, but most all of us knew it would be a long season ahead. Now we can actually begin to think of a chance at contention. When the typical thought for the Reds season is they will finish at the .500 line, then its not hard to imagine a little luck happening, and one or two cases of lightning in a bottle, then they’re right in the thick of Wild Card contention. Seriously, this is a possibility!

With this week just looking at pitchers and catchers, there will be a lot of the podcast dedicated to that subject. Just as a lead-in, though. Obviously, the biggest question will be who the Opening Day starter is. Probably question 1-B is who is the fifth starter. That question has a bit more light shed on it, with Anthony DeSclafani as the odds-on favorite. Still, someone could emerge. On the Opening Day starter idea, I think it’s a three-horse race between Alex Wood, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray. I do not have any idea who the favorite is there. As of right now, gun to my head, I’d pick Castillo. Definitely not putting money on it, though.

The other part of this week, catchers, got a little interesting over the last few weeks with the idea of J.T. Realmuto possibly coming here. Then Philadelphia snatched him up. Here’s the thing, that’s ok. Tucker Barnhart is a steady presence behind the plate and a streaky producer at the bat. His backup, Curt Casali, is a solid bat and newcomer Kyle Farmer is a versatile utility player with catching experience. They’re deep there. Do not confuse their interest in Realmuto with the idea that they were weak at the backstop. They just had an opportunity to turn something solid into something great. Here’s another thought that I haven’t seen much chatter on. I think one of the reasons the Reds didn’t go past offering Jonathan India is they feel good about Tyler Stephenson and his development. Sure, to have the best catcher, arguably, would be nice, but they have an abundance of backstops with a young gun coming up.

Pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday, in Goodyear. Enjoy your weekend, see you on Monday!

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