The Cincinnati Reds (13-18) are ready for their first weekend home series of 2019 as they welcome the San Francisco Giants (13-18) to town. More importantly, Nick Senzel is here!
After languishing in the minors for what seems like a decade (he was drafted in 2016), the Reds top prospect finally gets the call. He has already been announced as the starting centerfielder and batting second, in Friday night’s lineup.
For many of us who have clamored for him to be getting everyday reps since, pretty much, last spring, this will be a day long remembered. There are numerous articles on the many outlets with which you can get Reds news, but none more telling than C. Trent Rosecrans’ piece at The Athletic. C. Trent interviewed pretty much the entire scouting department responsible for drafting Senzel and they outline how they’ve pretty much had him on their radar since 2011 when he was a sophomore at Farragut High School in Tennessee.
You can look at his minor league numbers, if you want, but it’s the scout’s grades that are best served, in this case, as rarely do minor league statistics have any predictive correlation to major league success.
|55 / 70||40 / 55||55 / 55||55 / 55||45 / 55||55 / 55||60|
As they break it down at fangraphs.com, 50 is Major League average, 60 is plus, and 70 is plus-plus.
His first big league taste will come at home against a team that is in the exact same spot as the Reds. The Giants not only share the same record, but also find themselves at the do-or-die potion of their schedule where if they do not get going now, they can about count themselves out of the race in 2019.
They even profile about the same. As a team they’re hitting .214 (second worst only to the Reds) and have an ERA of 3.72 (fourth in the National League).
On the hitting side, the Reds will need to watch out for Brandon Belt and Kevin Pillar. Both share the team-lead in homers (five) while Pillar sports 18 RBI and Belt is the only Giants hitter with an OPS+ above 100 (118).
Pitching-wise, for this four-game, wrap around series, just two Giants starters are listed.
Tonight the Reds will face Tyler Beede, a 25-year old righty pitching in just his third major league game (he pitched a pair last year). He allowed seven earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched, total, last year. He managed nine strikeouts, but also tallied eight walks and nine hits allowed. With that limited exposure, it’s worth looking at the scouting grades on him. They have a plus rating on his changeup, but everything else is at league average or below and doesn’t predict to improve much.
|55 / 55||50 / 50||55 / 60||50 / 50||40 / 45||40|
Saturday’s starter is a bit better. Dereck Rodriguez showed his potential for San Francisco last season when he finished the year with a sub-3.00 ERA (2.81) in 19 starts. 2019 has not been as kind, to start, for him, though, as he sports a 4.35 ERA in six starts and is allowing 1.45 home runs per nine innings. I got the chance to see Rodriguez pitch, in person, last season when he faced the Padres, in San Diego, and held them to one run in seven innings. Saturday may be a mixed bag for the Reds lineup.
With the other Derek on San Fran’s squad (Holland) currently on the shelf, due to a bruised phalange, that leaves two of Drew Pomeranz, Jeff Samardzija, and Madison Bumgarner to round out the four-game set. There’s one name I would like to see them avoid, there, and it doesn’t rhyme with Tomeranz or S’mores-ya?
UPDATE: Samardzija will be the Giants starter on Sunday and Pomeranz will be Monday’s starter, meaning Bumgarner will, in fact, be missed in this four-game set.
Samardzija (0.6) leads the Giants in WAR, according to baseball-reference.com, as he has a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings. In 90 career innings against the Reds, he has a 4.00 ERA, having allowed 87 hits (10 homers).
Pomeranz has pitched the least amount of innings (28.2) of any Giants starter (six starts). He has one career start at Great American Ballpark (June 25, 2016) in which he tossed seven innings of shutout ball for the San Diego Padres, allowing just three hits and fanning six.
On the bump for the Reds, will be Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, and Anthony DeSclafani, in that order. I’ll be there to see Roark, in person, which I have not yet done, but I am most interested for Gray’s start. More so for how the team supports him than how he pitches. The only two games which he has pitched that the Reds have scored more than two runs, he has no decisions in.
This starts a stretch of 10 games that the Reds really need to win at least seven. If they can do that, they will begin the tough part of their schedule right around .500. It’s not that farfetched to think they can pull it off.
Reds Rule 5 Players and Predictions
We are coming up on the deadline for MLB teams to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft. Here are some players the Reds need to make some tough decisions on.
MLB teams have until November 20th to make their decision on the players eligible for the Rule 5 draft. They must decide to “protect” (add to the 40 man roster) to avoid another team selecting a player in the draft. I want to go over the list and make predictions on if the player will be protected or not.
Riley O’Brien RHP
O’Brien was acquired from Tampa Bay in the Cody Reed trade. A late bloomer of sorts, the 6’4” righty has a nice fastball. Being 25, he’s ready to battle for a spot in the pen right now. There isn’t great bullpen depth on the 40 man roster right now, so I can see O’Brien replacing a spot that players such as Romano/Alaniz/De Leon held in 2020. Prediction: Protected
Vladimir Gutierrez RHP
The former top 10 organizational prospect has been trending in the wrong direction. The beginning of 2019 was tough in AAA for Vlad but he finished the year strong. A suspension plus the lack of a 2020 minor league season makes it difficult to see how he is doing. However, he has enough raw talent to keep him on the roster. Prediction: Protected
Jacob Heatherly LHP
Checking in at #18 on the Reds prospect list, Heatherly is the only lefty on the list. We know the Reds will likely bring in lefty competition for the LHP bullpen spot next to Amir. Coming off an injury, I would bet he would not get drafted. Prediction: Not Protected
Alfredo Rodriguez SS
It feels like Alfredo has been in the Reds system forever. A 2016 pricey Cuban SS, Rodriguez was brought in due to his glove in hopes that the bat would come around. Long story short, it hasn’t. He’s now 26 and a change of scenery might be the best for him. I doubt he will get picked, though. Prediction: Not Protected
TJ Friedl OF
Friedl was exposed last year in the draft and not selected. He is a plus fielder and runner, but most other parts of his game are underwhelming. Prediction: Not Protected
Joel Kuhnel RHP
Most of us have a pretty good idea of what Kuhnel is. He has a fastball that is VERY good. I have always liked Kuhnel and wanted to see him get a longer look. There were plenty of opportunities for him to get a shot and more often than not he was overlooked. This one is hard for me, but I think him not getting more chances shows what the Reds think of him. Prediction: Not Protected
Mariel Bautista OF
Bautista has been with the Reds since 2014. I really do not think he is anything too special in terms of a prospect. He also doesn’t do any one thing so well that a team would select him off of that one skill. Prediction: Not Protected
Jared Solomon RHP
To be honest, I do not know much about Solomon. So I reached out to someone much smarter than me, our #RedsTwitter friend @RedsFan_Brandon . He predicted him to be protected. Boddy has been high on him and his fastball has improved. So I will stick with that. Prediction: Protected
None of these players are top 15 Reds prospects by most list. So losing any of them shouldn’t be the end of the world. Last year the Reds selected Mark Payton. Conor Joe was selected the year before.
Should the Reds look to be active in the free agent market they’re most likely going to have to cut payroll, first. Let’s start with some player who could get non-tendered before the December 2nd deadline.
This offseason…stop me if you’ve heard this…is going to be weird. Budgets will be unpredictable, although most believe spending will be at a minimum, and the Reds already have a lot of contracts that are set. Further additions and movement in the free agent market most likely will be preceded by some surprise cuts.
Based on the players leaving and the estimated totals of arbitration contracts, spotrac.com has the Reds at just over $126 million in payroll for 2021. They totaled out at a smidge over $144 million last year (if the season was to be as normal) with all of the transactions considered. The Reds could try to get back to that number, but the most likely scenario is that they hover around the $125-$130 million mark.
With the idea of making one or two moves to improve one of the worst lineups in baseball, let’s look at three candidates for being non-tendered.
(Just an FYI, only non-tender candidates are capable of being cut and their salary taken off the books. All other MLB contracts are guaranteed.)
As a fan, this one would hurt. He was a guy I watched with the Angels thinking if he were given everyday playing time, he would flourish. If I’m being objectively honest (and if I want the Reds to run similarly to the Rays) non-tendering him would make sense. He’s an athletically gifted outfielder who has a little bit of pop in his bat. In fact, he’s pretty much Phillip Ervin. The problem is, he figures to be a rotational outfield player, assuming everyone is healthy.
According to Spotrac, he will make around $3.2 million next year, or possibly the sixth highest dollar amount of Reds position players. That’s more than Jesse Winker’s possible $2.7 million and I think we can all agree that Jesse needs to be in the everyday lineup. Ik now he just got here from LA, but the dude was bit by whatever bug bit the Reds bats and slashed .163/.236/.327 in 20 games as a Red. Small sample size, sure, but am I counting on him to be light years better than that in what may not figure to be much more playing time? No.
This one I am less sure of being a good idea, but I am rolling with this whole “be more like Tampa” idea. The Rays, per Spotrac, aren’t estimated to give ANY of their relievers more than $2.5 million next year. The Reds are slated to give three relievers over $4 million.
I am not advocating a non-tender for Michael Lorenzen because of his versatility and potential for being the fifth starter in 2021. Barring a trade, the Reds are paying $9.125 million to Raisel Iglesias to get the last out of a game. They’re really going to pay Archie Bradley, who it felt as though David Bell didn’t trust as much as Nate Jones at times, $5 million to be a setup man?
Okay, this one really isn’t that surprising. It is time. We once regarded him as the Reds top prospect. We once regarded him as a future ace. We once proclaimed he reborn as a shutdown reliever. We now have no clue what to expect from him and it just does not make sense to continue to trot him out there expecting the complete career turnaround that we’ve all been hoping for since the “rebuild” began.
It won’t really save the Reds a ton of money, but freeing up BobSteve’s roster spot will open up an opportunity for one of the up-and-coming prospects or another Derek Johnson reclamation project. Frankly, I’d rather see any of those than BobSteve coming out of the Reds bullpen in 2021.
Mailbag: Senzel, Winker, Votto, and More
Time for an offseason mailbag to get your focus on what the Reds need to do th be better for 2021
It’s been a while and we have all had a chance to process that Reds playoff performance. Yuck. However, it is time for offseason talk. Let’s get into the mailbag.
What are the Reds going to do at catcher? The Reds and pitchers seem to like Casali and Barnhart behind plate..
The Reds once again went with the duo of Casali and Tucker behind the plate in 2020. The results were underwhelming, but not miserable. Tucker is a finalist for a gold glove while hitting .204/.291/.388 and an OPS+ of 77. Casali hit .224/.366/.500 with an OPS+ of 126. However, we all want to see the exciting prospect, Tyler Stephenson, take his reign of the position. I expect exactly that next season. Having a veteran backing him up is important so I’d imagine Tucker plays that role as he is under contract while Casali will enter arbitration.
In terms of how the pitchers like Casali and Tucker, I think that just comes with time. I am sure once the pitchers get to work with Stephenson more, they will learn to pitch well to him.
If there is a DH in 2021, shouldn’t #19 fill that role and let Da Wink and (place RH bat here) platoon at 1st?
The only thing the Reds have now is time (between now, and next season). So, what is their excuse for not putting Senzel at 2B, and give him regular ABs? (This makes Votto the DH, and Moose 1B)
What’s the odds of moving Senzel to 2nd, Moose to 1st and Votto to DH.
Well this is my intake everybody has one with the Outfield I guess we’re not going to have a DH going forward so Jesse Winker needs to be traded along with Nick Senzel I definitely keep Shogo, and hopefully we can keep Castellanos and let’s go try to get a productive outfielder
I want to clump all these together because it’s pretty much all the same gist. So, let’s breakdown what it could look like with and then without the DH.
WITH: Votto to DH, Moose to first, Senzel STAYS in center, second is open to add speed/OBP.
Explanation: Votto’s defense is terrible. His contract isn’t going anywhere, so put him at DH. He still has something left with the bat. When Moose signed he wasn’t signing on to play second for the duration of that contract. No way. Move him to first and the defense at first likely improves. Keep Senzel in Center. Injuries and swing changes have stunted the development of Senzel enough. Asking him to change back to second after 2 years of focusing on becoming a CF just feels like something they will not do. He hasn’t done any work (that we know of ) at second since he moved to CF.
Now for 2B. Bringing back the same team that barely sneaked into an expanded playoff (while maybe losing Bauer) seems like a bad idea. Changes have to be made. The Reds added plenty of HR power last offseason, now add a 2B that might be a better OBP guy. Speed and better baserunning would be welcomed as well. In theory, this could increase the defensive ability at second as well.
WITHOUT: Votto at first (with plenty of days off), Moose at 2B, Senzel in CF, Winker traded.
Explanation: Votto really doesn’t have anywhere else to go besides the bench. There is not an option at this point, when they play him he will be at first. Which leaves Moose at second. Again, not a thrilling defensive side of the infield, but Moose held his own at second but as he gets older his range will continue to drop. Senzel in CF for the same reason’s I listed above. Winker is traded. In this scenario, I am still looking to shake up the team from 2020. ( I am also assuming Castellanos is returning) An OF with Winker and Castellanos fielding would be far less than ideal. I really like Winker, but Shogo could be ready for a bigger role. Winker has trade value and could strengthen the team in other areas by moving him. If the Reds make a big trade like many fans are hoping for, they will have to move MLB talent. They do not have enough top-end prospects to trade. If they do move the top prospects, they will deplete their farm system because it lacks depth. Remember, to acquire top-end talent you have to trade high value. Prospects out of the top 5 usually aren’t considered too high by many other organizations.
Goldstar or Skyline and Cut or Twirl
I have never even had Goldstar. No need to. Skyline fills my needs. Twirl