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Cincinnati Reds

Three players that can become regulars in 2018

Sean Young

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Nov 7, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds infielder Alex Blandino (left) and outfielder Phillip Ervin during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We are almost there guys!

Opening Day is right around the corner!

Barring any shocking waiver claims, I don’t think there will be any surprises as to who the everyday eight will be to start the the season. Bryan Price will give Billy Hamilton another chance to prove he belongs at the top of the lineup.

Scooter Gennett will be given the opportunity to show that last season wasn’t a hoax. Jose Peraza will will try and put 2017 behind him and prove that he is the heir to Zack Cozart at shortstop.

But what if the aforementioned players don’t quite cut it? What if Hamilton matches his career .632 OPS to start the season?

What if Gennett can’t replicate the power he had last year? His glove certainly isn’t the reason you are keeping him around.

What if Peraza looks exactly like he did in 2017 and Nick Senzel tears the cover off the ball in AAA? Here are three young players who could be called upon if Hamilton, Gennett and Peraza struggle.

PHILIP ERVIN

Remember him? Our 2013 first round pick often gets lost in the shuffle, and rightfully so. Since he was drafted 27th overall he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, but I feel he can still contribute. I expect Hamilton to be traded at some point this season.

There was a lot of buzz around him this offseason and I believe that his name will start to reappear on the trade rumor mill the closer we get to the trade deadline. As long as the Reds don’t ask for the moon he should be easy to move to a contender in need of some speed and late inning defense.

There isn’t a long list of candidates to replace Hamilton. Scott Schebler can play center, but should under no circumstance start in center everyday. Ervin should start once Billy is moved until we can either sign or trade for a starting center fielder this offseason.

I would love to keep Ervin on as a fourth or fifth outfielder beyond 2018.

ALEX BLANDINO

Unlike centerfield, the Reds have some decent depth when it comes to middle infielders. This makes Gennett expendable. I do not expect Scooter to be able to replicate the season he had last year. He is a tradable asset that I believe the Reds can and will move. He won’t garner much in return.

Maybe a bullpen arm or low level minor leaguer, but that’s fine considering we got him for absolutely nothing. Thus enter Alex Blandino, who I believe has all the makings of a major league second baseman.

First round pedigree? Check. OPS over .800 last year? Check. Has some pop in his bat? Check. Great hair? You betcha. After a rough 2016 due to injury, Blandino really turned it around and looked like the hitter the Reds drafted.

Now he just needs a place to play.

NICK SENZEL

It’s only a matter of time before Nick is with the major league ball club. He has hit at every level he’s played and I believe he would have made the team out of spring training if the Reds didn’t have to send him down to manipulate his service time.

The Reds let Senzel get some reps at short during spring training and this tells me two things:

1. The Reds are trying to see who out of Eugenio Suarez and Nick Senzel will be better at short for the long term. One will stick at short, the other at third, and this makes me very happy.

2. The Reds gave Peraza every opportunity to show he is the man. He was replaced at second base last year by Gennett after an awful start to the year. This year he will try to fill Cozart’s shoes.

Fortunately for Zack, his glove was so good the Reds were able to live with his .246 batting average in 2012 and .254 batting average in 2013 (most recent playoff years). Peraza does not have that luxury.

His defense is nowhere near Cozart’s, and I would not be surprised at all to see Jose get benched for Senzel.

Will these three be regular starters by seasons end – Who knows?

Is it fun to talk about the future? Absolutely.

Mainly because I think this will be the last year the Reds ask us fans to embrace the suck. Close your eyes and imagine a 2019 infield of Votto, Blandino, Senzel, and Suarez.

Now imagine Schebler or Duval (whichever they don’t trade) in left, insert a free agent in center, and Jesse Winker in right. If you can imagine that, then you don’t have to squint to see a contender.

I am a lifelong Reds fan that grew up in St. Bernard. Currently live in Campbell County with my wife and two sons. My all time favorite player is Barry Larkin. I’m an Air Force veteran that served one tour in the Middle East. My Twitter handle is @syoung927.

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Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds and the 20 Pitch Limit

When it comes to quirky early Cactus League season games, there’s a lot to know. One this is the 20-pitch limit a manager can invoke on an inning his guy is getting clobbered in. The Cincinnati Reds have already done this.

Jeff

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This Spring has seen an interesting beginning in that teams have smaller rosters than normal (though still plenty of players to go around) and they can choose to play shorter games. One other added wrinkle of differentness is the ability of a manager to “throw in the towel” whenever his pitcher reaches 20 pitches in an inning. 

The Reds have already taken advantage of this twice, both during the beat down at the hands of the Athletics. Sal Romano got the curtain pulled on him in the fourth inning while Shane Carl heard the music in the fifth. These don’t necessarily paint a larger picture, as of yet, but it is interesting to note. 

Carle doesn’t factor into the equation that is the Opening Day roster, but Big Sal surely does. He is out of minor league options (meaning he’d have to clear waivers to be assigned a minor league team) and he has shown some flashes of talent in the past. He could be valuable depth for the Reds bullpen, so calling it quits after 20 tosses (which frankly were all a consequence of Nick Senzel misplaying a ball early in the inning) doesn’t mean he’s out, but it is something to watch. 

We’ll keep track here on the blog for more 20-pitch tap-outs. 

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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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