What a night. A fight for the ages. A trade in the middle of the fight. I was on the phone with multiple friends and family discussing the fight and the trade that had been rumored to take place. I was yelling at the television. The bigger story is the EPIC three-team trade that took place.
On the surface it doesn’t look favorable for the Reds. The Reds traded both Yasiel Puig to the Indians and their top listed prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, in Taylor Trammell, to the Padres. Many felt if the Reds didn’t keep Puig than Trammell was going to be the person who eventually filled his role. In return the Reds got a great, and controversial, starting pitcher, in Trevor Bauer. The Reds who have had some of the best starting pitching in baseball, so why would they go after ANOTHER starting pitcher?
The overview of this shows the Reds front office trading away their most popular player in Yasiel Puig. He’s been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since mid June, after a slow start. He’s had a walk off hit and scored the walk off run earlier this month against the Brewers. The Red Warrior aka El Guerrero Rojo was willing to take on the Pirates by himself, and even did it after reports of him being traded. According to many, he was seen as the Reds biggest priority to resign for next season. He loved the community, his teammates, and is the reason social media was created.
Most people will read about the trade and only see the Reds trading away there top prospect in outfielder Taylor Trammell. Trammell, only 21 years old, had been the one man highlight reel at the MLB Futures game. In the 2018 game he hit a a massive home run and a triple in the game winning the MVP honors. This year he followed it up in the 2019 Futures game going 1-2 with an RBI and was caught stealing home (replay showed him to be safe). He’s young, confident, and very likable guy.
Trevor Bauer is a great, forward-thinking mentality, who always seems willing to learn how to improve. To many, though, he’s the guy who lost his mind Sunday and chucked a ball over center field from the pitchers mound out of anger from being removed from the game. He brings much more baggage, such as going after other people on Twitter, advocating conspiracy theories, and drone injury that messed up a playoff start to name a few things. While he’s not a rental player for a playoff push, he’s not far from it. Bauer only has team control through 2020. He’s eligible for arbitration next season making $13 million this year. That would make him the highest paid starter on the Reds for 2020. What does this mean for the rest of the Reds starting rotation, who have been one of the best in all of baseball this year? Castillo, Gray, Roark, Wood, Disco, and Mahle all vying for a spot.
Here’s the flip side of all of this. Taylor Trammell is presented as the Reds top prospects but has had two regressive years. His career slash line for the minors is .273/.367/.408. His 2019 slash line .236/.349/.336 in Chattanooga AA. Realistically at best he’d probably be an everyday starter not until 2021 or 2022 when he could make an impact at the major league level. That’s if he can figure out a way to improve his development. The Reds even with Puig gone have a bit of logjam in there outfield with Winker, Senzel, Ervin, and VanMeter. As a fan do you really want to bet your team being competitive again on a top prospect struggling in AA after four 90 loss seasons? I don’t.
Trevor Bauer was one of the bigger fish the Reds were rumored to be going after this offseason. 2018 he finished sixth in Cy Young voting and was an All-Star. He’s on pace to have pitched more than 175 innings for five straight seasons. He focuses heavily on improving his mechanics using high speed cameras. He’s actually developed new pitches in the past few years. He gives this staff a frightening front three in Castillo-Gray-Bauer for the 2020 season. If you want to know more about his focus on player development read MVP Machine because even if you don’t like him personally he’s definitely cutting edge when it comes to his insight on pitching. Most importantly I think the Reds are going to possibly flip him over to a team ready to win a World Series before the deadline tomorrow. They could get a haul for him by trading to him to someone like the Yankees.
Yasiel Puig was OUR dude. While his stent was short lived almost everyone loved him from the fanbase. As exciting as he has been to watch on the field these past two months Puig was still below his career numbers for .AVG, .OBP, and OPS+. Many also felt that he would try and test the free agency waters no matter what this offseason. The Reds only had two other options for potentially keeping him. A contract extension or a qualifying offer in which they were either compensated a draft pick if he didn’t sign or overpay him to stay an extra year.
Something not many people are talking about that is a real possibility being the Reds signing Yasiel Puig this offseason. Especially if they move Bauer. The Yankees moved Chapman to the Cubs. Chapman helped them win a World Series then he went back and signed with Yankees where he still remains. The Reds front office said they are looking to spend money to be competitive again. Meaning they should spend as much or more than they did in payroll this season. The Reds could have anywhere from $50-70 million to give out in contracts this offseason. So far the front office under the leadership of Dick Williams and Nick Krall haven’t disappointed. When I attended the photo day for season tickets I spoke with Dick Williams for about 30 seconds last Saturday. I told him that they haven’t really made a mistake in my opinion so far. His response “Then I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with what’s to come.” I think there is more to come. Trust the front office.
How a Shortened Season can Help and Hurt the Reds
step back and attempt to look at the way the Reds can benefit from a possible shortened season and how it could hurt them.
The world is in an obscure and unsure place. Today we were supposed to be watching a parade and cheering on the Redlegs. Instead, we are confused about the future of the 2020 season as we watch the 7th straight episode of a Netflix series, perfecting social distancing. How the 2020 season will be played has yet to be determined. I want to take a step back and attempt to look at the way the Reds can benefit from a possible shortened season and how it could hurt them.
Each day that passes without baseball is a day closer to a season without 162 games. For the sake of argument, let’s say the season is somewhere between 75-100 games. What ways can that benefit the Reds?
1. They can get healthy. Suarez, Senzel, and Galvis (amongst others) have battled some spring injuries. Extra time off only helps their recovery and could lead to a 100% healthy “Opening Day” lineup. Although Galvis is not a top ten talent at short, he is much better than the current back up options. Luckily, he should be ready to go and 100%.
2. The rotation can be a great strength. We all know how strong the current rotation is. The Reds could adjust the strategy because you won’t be worried about getting starters 32 starts and 200ish innings. With a compact season, you could let starters go deeper in games, or even go to a shorter rotation because you won’t be trying to strength out the innings over several months. Bauer and Disco are both on contract years and will be laser-focused on making the most of their fewer starts to prove their value come next offseason. If the league goes heavy on doubleheaders, Mahle and a few others could step up into the expanded rotation and stronger than many team’s depth starters.
3. How a shorten season benefits Votto? As Joey ages, he will need more days off, especially if the decline is steady. If Joey does not have to prepare himself for 162 games, it could lead to better results as he would be fresher. We all know he can get off to slow starts and avoiding that would be crucial in a shortened season.
How can the shortened season hurt the Reds?
1. David Bell is still a new manager. Fresh, unproven, inexperienced. At times in 2019, he cost the Reds some games. There is little to no margin for error in a short season. Each game means more and the lineup experimenting with playing players out of position won’t fly. Managerial experience will be extremely important in 2020 and hopefully Bell has improved after year one.
2. Lack of important experience for prospects. Tyler Stephenson, Jose Garcia, Jonathan India, and many other prospects are missing out on developmental time. This one really stings. A couple of the Reds top prospects are projected to be on the 2021 roster but needed some time in higher levels of the minors to learn and iron out a few things. You can train and work with coaches during this time, but the actual game experience cannot be overlooked.
3. Pressure. Obviously, every game counts each season. But a shortened season stresses the importance of each game. The Reds cannot afford to go on a losing streak as they did at the beginning of 2019. The expectations for 2020 remain high, and the pressure to perform is building. The adjustment to the MLB for Shogo must happen fast. Senzel has to stay healthy. The margin of error shrinks and pressure goes up. Iglesias cannot struggle to close out games or he’ll be replaced.
The 2020 season won’t be ideal. No one wants it to be this way. Watching 162 games a year is a joy and I will miss the routine of watching the Reds every night. Let’s hope this shortened season feels and plays like a playoff series where every aspect of the game is emphasized and more important. Here’s to everyone staying safe and healthy, and the Reds winning the pennant.
Take a look at a few thoughts before we get this 2020 season underway!
What is this team’s greatest weakness and how do they go about addressing it? (@GeraldSHuber)
To me, it has to be defense. (Here’s an article I wrote about it: https://bit.ly/2wft1Bs ). Tucker and Casali are fine but not spectacular, Votto is mediocre, Moose is an unknown, and the outfield defense leaves you wanting more. Galvis is great at short, but many others could be troublesome. If defense is your greatest weakness, you probably have a pretty good team.
How many years until we see Jose Garcia? (@smoffe87)
Everyone’s new favorite prospect, and he should be. The future is bright. Garcia has yet to reach AA, where he’ll likely start this season. In high A Daytona he hit .280/.343/.436 with 8 HR and 37 (!) doubles. No need to rush the 21-year-old, but he likely is the SS in 2021 if all goes according to plan. The lack of depth at SS could rush him if injuries happen or he hits the cover off the ball.
Who will lead off? What do they do with Schebler, Reed, Mahle, and other players without options? (@StachlerJames)
Shogo Akiyama should see time as the leadoff. A career .376 OBP who has been closer to .400 in recent years (NPB league) has a chance to be a real difference maker.
Schebler, I think, will end up being traded or DFA. Reed has a tough first start, but its early and he looked great in limited time last season. Another lefty in the pen not named Peralta or Duke is welcomed. Mahle has an option and likely is headed to Louisville to get regular starts. The Reds will likely need him to start at some point during the season. Sims likely earns a pen spot, Travis Jankowski could be the final spot if injuries occur. His speed and defense are useful.
Is Senzel going to be a utility player or end up getting traded? (@GerryYnciarte65)
Being a super utility is not a bad thing. Ben Zobrist was a hell of a player in that role. However, I think Senzel will be seeing plenty of time in CF splitting with Akiyama. His bat is too good to be a true bench player. I don’t think he will be traded. It feels like he would have already been moved if that was the plan.
If Tucker or Casali get hurt do they let Farmer catch or Stephenson? (@OdeToRedsWS)
Catcher organizational depth is lacking. Stephenson could be the option if he is hitting well in AAA Louisville. I think we see him at some point this season. Only other catcher in the organization with MLB experience besides Casali and Tucker is Francisco Pena (190 AB .216/.249/.311). His stats are underwhelming at the plate but he’s a veteran and that carries value. Sadly, I doubt we see former Red great Ryan Lavarnway in 2020. Add Garcia and Stephenson to this lineup in 2021 and that team is very strong.
Over/Under….When do the Reds give up on the mix-n-match platoon ideas and have a regular lineup? Line is May 31st. (MTGPackFoils)
The days of the “same lineup everyday” are gone. And they should be. Putting out the same lineup doesn’t always mean the results will follow. Some players hit lefties but not righties and some hit righties and not lefties. Play the best players for each situation. Platooning can lead to the best results at times. So OVER. (More on that here: https://bit.ly/38cbCXD)
What are your thoughts on Shogo playing mostly center or left, if Senzel is healthy? (@Win1SuperBowl)
As it stands today, the outfield is crowded. It will play itself out. Akiyama can play all three OF positions and I could see him getting at-bats in the corner OF when Senzel is in CF. There’s true competition for at-bats this season and that’s absolutely a good thing. Players will have to earn their playing time.
Who is the backup SS? (@GebzillaG)
Kyle Famer. He ‘s such a unique player who can play all over the field. He was a college SS and has worked their early this spring. Across all levels he’s seen 76 innings at SS and hasn’t recorded and error. Blandino could also be the back up SS. Blandino has 60.2 innings at short in the MLB and is a .941 fielder there. 1692 innings at short in the minors with a .951 fielding %.
Life after Votto: The Future at First
Who will man first base in a few years?
Spring training is a time for roster debate. Constructing Opening Day rosters and batting orders is always a fun topic on #RedsTwitter. Since 2008, one name you can write in with Sharpie has been Votto, 1B. The MVP and 6-time all-star has earned that right due to his elite hitting and plate discipline. Entering his 14th season at age 36 many start to wonder….who’s next at first? Signed through 2023 with a 2024 team option with plenty of money attached, it appears Joey will retire as a Red. Finding his eventual replacement might be harder than it looks.
Since 2015, 3 names that are still in the organization have appeared on MLB.com top 30 list.
Ibandel Isabel #30 (2019) – Acquired from the Dodgers, Isabel brought legit power to the organization. In 2018 he hit a combined 36 home runs tied for the most of any minor leaguer. Like many power hitters, he struck out a ton, 161 times to be exact. 2019 he smashed 26 home runs with 153 strikeouts and an underwhelming .307 OBP. Each of the past two seasons he has hit more than twice as many home runs than doubles. Raw power is great, but he does not stand out in other aspects and likely is a one trick pony.
Bren Spillane #25 (2018) – 3rd rounder in 2018, Spillane spent 2019 in Dayton. .207/.302/.324 with 10 2B and 5 home runs to go along with 104 strikeouts. He did see some time at 3B and corner OF but will need to cut down on strikeouts and show his power potential to have any shot at seeing time at the MLB level.
Gavin LaValley #20 (2017) – LaValley spent 2019 in AA Chattanooga where he slashed .254/.339/.396 with 22 2B 10 home runs and struck out 111 times and walked 47 times. He saw more time at third but made 13 errors there. The 25-year-old former 4th round pick is not exactly an exciting option moving forward.
Other names that saw some time at first in the system: Samir Duenez (.211/.270/.314 in AA) Bruce Yari (.255/.330/.347 A Daytona) Cameron Warren (.257/.333/.353 A Dayton) are 20 plus round picks and minor league free agents who have a long way to go. The Reds signed Cuban 1B/3B Michael Triana last February and he is somewhat of an unknown and is still very young.
So…. where do the Reds go from here? Well if the DH comes to the NL, Votto could play DH and Moustakas could move over to first as he ages out of 2B. VanMeter can play first but I doubt he is the future there. Two prospects that haven’t played first but could make the change are Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson.
Players moving from their primary position to first base is nothing new. Many poor fielders or older players take this route. Currently, India is blocked at third and second. He’s logged 65 innings at SS, but moving to first is much easier than short. If not traded, a position change is needed. Corner outfield is possible but moving to first shouldn’t be ruled out.
Tyler Stephenson is a hell of a prospect. Now, let’s be clear…I think he will have years behind the plate in a Reds uniform. However, moving to first in the future could be possible. Stephenson stands at 6-4 and there simply aren’t a lot of 6-4 catchers. Of the 114 MLB players to log innings at catcher, 7 (6%) were 6-4 or taller with only 1 (Grayson Greiner 6-6) being taller than 6-4. While Stephenson has improved behind the plate, his bat is how he’s earned his name on prospect list. The most important thing is to find a way to get his bat in the lineup. Catching is a defense first focus for most MLB teams (example: Jeff Mathis) so making the transition to first is not out of question.