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Cincinnati Reds

Transaction Thoughts (Pt. 1)

What do the first round of transactions bring to the table for the 2021 Reds season?

Clay Snowden

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Last offseason was unlike any other for Reds fans. Big free agent splashes, aggressive roster boosting, and a new (cautious) sense of hope. Well, this offseason might be unlike any other as well. The pandemic has hurt revenue and the Reds are like many other teams trying to cut costs. Remember, the offseason still has a loooong way to go, but here’s my reactions to the first wave of moves made by Nick Krall.

Brandon Bailey acquired from Astros

I can’t lie, I don’t know much of anything about Bailey. 85 (58 starts) minor league games 3.22 ERA he will likely be a depth piece.


Jeff Hoffman & Case Williams for Robert Stephenson & Jameson Hannah

This is a trade I actually like. Stephenson had a good year in 2019, but the vast majority of his career has been underwhelming. Of course he will always be a “what if he puts it all together this year” case due to his prospect ranking….but a change is good for both parties at times. Hannah was a middle of the road prospect OF that likely didn’t have a path to the roster.

Hoffman is similar to Bob Steve in a way. Both big time
prospect status, both yet to live up to their hype. Yet another pitcher to be tagged as “DJ’s project” and I’m ok with that. Possible 5th starter/ long arm out of the pen, the versatility never hurts. Williams was a player the Reds wanted in the draft, missed, and now acquire. Years away from MLB but he has traits they like.

Bradley/Goodwin/Farmer/Alaniz/Casali non-tendered

Goodwin was not great in his short time in Cincy and frankly was going to be too expensive. Farmer resigned. Alaniz is a non-factor.

When Bradley was traded for many people talked about the years of control being attractive. He’s a good pitcher, too. Career 114 ERA+ and a 422 ERA + in his 6 games with the Reds which is just a hilarious stat. I wanted to see him back, but he wasn’t cheap, so I get it.

Casali did everything and more the Reds ever asked of him and still lost his job. That’s just baseball. Stephenson is ready to go and he needs at bats. Tucker is under contract and is a gold glover. 126 OPS+ and 6 HR while being solid behind the plate will land him a contract. At 32 years old, he wasn’t part of the future, but he’ll catch on elsewhere and be remembered well for his time in Cincinnati.

Raisel Iglesias & cash for Noe Ramirez & PTBN

Twitter seemed to have very mixed feelings about this one. The Reds do shed Iglesias’ contract (9 mil) but we do not know the amount of cash sent back. Fans had mixed feelings of Iglesias as his play consisted of highs and lows and his attitude wasn’t always the best. Bottom line: He’s a damn good pitcher. 2020 he had an ERA+ of 176 (112 ’19 /176 in ’18/ 181 ’17 /169 ’16) and came up huge in many clutch moments. OF course, 2019 that wasn’t the case, but he has many more good years than bad. At 31, maybe they wanted to sell while his value was still higher. Maybe he wanted out. There’s always a lot of unknowns and we will never know. But I appreciate what he brought to the club in his 6 seasons.

Noe Ramirez, 30 year old RHP with experience who will fill in a bullpen arm. He’s actually not a bad pitcher and is keeping somewhat overlooked because of the Iglesias name. Only 211 innings in 6 years but he has been a factor in the past 3 years. ERA + of 151 last year but the attraction is low salary and team control…YAY small market baseball things! Matt Wilkes wrote more about him here.

Sign Dwight Smith and Cheslor Cuthbert to minor league deals

I have always liked Smith and I’m not sure why. He has pop in hit bat (13 HR in 2019) but the rest of his game isn’t jumping off the page to anyone. Small sample sizes outside of 2019, but an interesting depth option in a crowded OF. Cheslor Cuthbert is a corner INF with 323 games in the show. He has a some pop as well but I don’t really see him getting much of a shot with the Reds.

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Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds Alternate Site Game: April 6, 2021

The Cincinnati Reds are currently playing some games with their alternate team against other alternate teams. Clay Snowden had a chance to attend one and gives a report.

Clay Snowden

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78 degrees with a few clouds in the sky was the perfect day for the perfect game of baseball. My first in person game since 2019. I never knew just how much I missed it until I experienced the sights of sounds of the game for what felt like the very first time (again). Enough about me, let’s talk about the game. The alternate site Reds (that’s what we will call them) took on the Royals on Tuesday night. I want to provide a recap of the pitching and hitting while highlighting a few players.

 

Pitchers:

Riley O’Brien started for the Reds. Acquired in the Cody Reed trade, O’Brien is an interesting pitcher with some obvious upside. He has a lot to like but can struggle to find the zone at times. He struck out Bobby Witt Jr (One of MLB top prospects) while causing him to whiff on back to back strikes. He also gave up 2 home runs, 4 hits 4 runs in 3 innings while striking out 5. At times he simply over powered hitters and at times they squared him up. I still like him as a possible bullpen guy at some point.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Riley O’Brien (@RileyyOBrienn ) striking out one of the best prospects in all of baseball Bobby Witt #Reds https://t.co/YVQOpuIKby” / Twitter

Brandon Finnegan, who came out of nowhere this spring and impressed, looked pretty solid tonight. Struck a guy out looking while allowing 1 hit in one inning. His breaking stuff had some life on it. Doolittle, Perez, and Garrett will make it tough for him to find innings, but if injuries happen he’s more than capable of filling in. What a great story his comeback is.

Finnegan was followed by uneventful innings from R.J. Alaniz, Edgar Garcia, Hector Perez, and Ryan Hendrix. Garcia was hit hard and hit often. Perez has a fastball that is noticeably faster than others, but the radar gun was not on. Hendrix really pops the catchers glove, but location was an issue.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Finnegan (thread) https://t.co/a8pYMq0JuI” / Twitter

Batters:

Mike Freeman, a utility infielder brought over from the Indians, provided the only real offense tonight with a home run off a LHP (Lynch) to right center. In my mind him, Blandino, and Schrock all are battling for the same “utility infielder” position. Schrock was quiet at the plate tonight.

Mark Payton had a decent night at the plate. I really like his eye for the strike zone and patience at the plate. He had a strong single up the middle and worked a count full on another at bat. He had a ton of balls hit to him in center and he covered a lot of territory well. One ball he tried to rob a HR and it hit off of him and went over the wall. From my vantage point it looked like he might have helped that ball go over.

Jose Garcia made solid contact in his two balls put into play. I am far from a swing expert, but his swing looked a little off tonight. Maybe a little slow? I don’t know. He also swung and missed several times. A full year in the minors will do him well.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “@TooKold2 https://t.co/YJgnyWHl7Q” / Twitter

The last player that caught my eye was Alejo Lopez. The 24 year old switch hitting infielder just knows how to hit. He has logged over 1,000 minor league at bats and has a slash of .297/.367/.746. In his two at bats he made great contact one leading to a single up the middle and one a sharp lineout to end the game.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Alejo Lopez single. A player who isn’t listed as a super high prospect but has been producing https://t.co/FydDrk2kjd” / Twitter

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Cincinnati Reds

Eugenio Suarez at Shortstop Makes the Cincinnati Reds Very Interesting

The Cincinnati Reds have announced that Eugenio Suarez will start Tuesday’s game at shortstop which opens up so many possibilities that make the Reds lineup dangerous.

Jeff

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The Cincinnati Reds dropped a Geno-sized bomb on Reds Country and the result is mass excitement.

We are all aware of the swings-and-misses with free agent shortstops the Reds front office had this offseason. In fact they struck out, if you’re counting, as there were three bonafide shortstops who all went elsewhere. So we’ve spent all Spring Training squinting our eyes to see if we could maybe see the fringe possibility of someone on this roster playing shortstop. Then the Reds stopped pretending.

Coming into camp, Eugenio Suarez just looked different. He was way more fit, trim, cut, whatever word for in-shape you want to use. You could say he was in the best shape of his life (many have). Geno planned for this, and management noticed. They’re reportedly been giving him more practice reps at shortstop and getting him comfortable fielding back there again. You don’t do that just for kicks, they were on to something.

Then Jose Garcia showed a continued lack of confidence at the plate, Dee Strange-Gordon proved there was a reason he hasn’t played shortstop, exclusively, in eight years, and Kyle Holder showed some skills but ultimately proved he needs more seasoning. Kyle Farmer has shown promise at the plate but the defense isn’t any sort of revolutionary development and he still shows more value as the do-everything guy off the bench. Insert Suarez.

Immediately some of you are thinking “Isn’t there a reason they moved him away from shortstop in the first place?” You could go that route, but let me answer your question with a question “Is there really a good reason to keep Jonathan India, or dare I say Nick Senzel (when Shogo Aliyama is healthy) out of the starting lineup for Kyle Farmer, or any of the other options they’ve tried at shortstop?”

This is the Reds thinking outside the box! This opens up so many possibilities with the lineup. With injuries, this is what the Opening Day lineup could look like:

CF Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Nicholas Castellanos
2B Jonathan India
C Tyler Stephenson
1B Tucker Barnhart
Pitcher

I like that lineup. Now, there’s more than a chance that someone else plays first base and Tucker is the catcher on Opening Day, but this is the optimal lineup with Joey Votto on the COVID shelf. Once he is back, this lineup just looks dangerous:

CF Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Nicholas Castellanos
1B Joey Votto
2B Jonathan India
C Tyler Stephenson
Pitcher

Here’s hoping the Eugenio Shortstop experience lots all year long!

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Cincinnati Reds

Monday Morning Manager: The Cincinnati Reds and Things Being What They Are

David Bell has too many outfielders, or does he? An injury to Shogo Akiyama could make lineup decisions easier, but could hurt the overall team potential.

Jeff

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Today on the Monday Not-Morning Manager I want to look at how the chips fall. There’s a line of thinking in sports that pertains to rosters. If you’ve got four players for three spots and it’s hard to differentiate between them, something always works out. Something beyond the making of a lineup card happens that makes making the lineup card slightly easier (so far as filling the three spots). One wonders if this is what has happened with centerfield for the Cincinnati Reds. 

Shogo Akiyama had an encouraging September, last year. He got on base roughly 46% of the time and became the leadoff hitter that Reds fans felt he’d be when he signed. He showed his prowess in the outfield and sound fundamentals that lead you to believe he can be a defensive asset. He looked to be showing he could bring value to the lineup. 

Nick Senzel has had a heck of a Spring. Hitting the ball all over the field, taking what the pitcher gives him, and making solid, powerful contact. He’s overcome some early spring mishaps on defense and is back to his athletic range in centerfield. When healthy he has shown to be an asset for the team. Barring some creative decision-making on the part of David Bell, he’s going to play in the outfield, come he’ll or high water. 

So what then? Shogo and Senzel cannot both start of Nicholas Castellanos and Jesse Winker man the corners. How does David Bell figure this out? That may be taken off his plate. 

Today (Monday) Shogo is getting his left hamstring examined. He left Saturday’s game after just one at-bat. If he is to miss any amount of time, the decision who the Opening Day centerfielder will be will be easy, but this isn’t a statement of relief. The best version of the Cincinnati Reds lineup includes all of Shogo, Senzel, Castellanos, and Winker and you’ll have a hard time convincing me otherwise. I want Bell and the Reds managerial staff to find ways to get all four of them in the lineup as much as possible. Hopefully, Shogo is fine and Bell will begin the 2021 with too many players rather than too few.

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