This post is very much spitballed. I had a thought and it’s been refusing to go away, and so I am expressing it here: What if the notion that both fans and, seemingly, the organization has about the Reds is entirely wrong? That is, what if they should ignore left field?

First, I need to state some facts:

Fact 1: The Reds – assuming they plan to win next year – should not be making changes at first, catcher, third, right or center.

Fact 2: The Reds – assuming they plan to win next year – need to retain most of their pitching staff.

Fact 3: The Reds figure to be better if they can avoid disastrous injuries like those from last season.

Now, I will challenge assumptions.

It is frequently stated that you cannot have too much pitching. I assert that this is incorrect. In terms of making it to the playoffs, it does not matter where your wins come from. However, once you are in the playoffs, it very much matters. In the playoffs, your number 5 starter does not matter at all. Your number four starter and bench matter very little. The back of your bullpen does not matter. Your number seven and eight hitters do.

See what I did there? The Reds – assuming they are trying to win – have five lineup spots that already contribute at good or better-than-good levels (assuming health). They have three lineup spots that don’t: left, short, and second.

Left, we know about. It’s a disaster, but Winker is coming. He’s one of the best LF prospects in the game. Second base, though we might not want to admit it, is going to be bad soon. Phillips has a four year trend that is not pretty at all. He plays a position that traditionally does not age well and he is at the age where that players at the position typically fall apart. You can bet on a rebound, but it’s a bet you’ll lose a lot more than you win. Zack Cozart is entering arbitration, and frankly, isn’t good enough to play full time for more than another year or two.

So the Reds have three obvious places where they could improve, but one of those (left), has a replacement coming fairly quickly. Maybe not in 2015, but certainly in 2016.  They also have a deep rotation and stable of young arms in the minors.

So here’s my solution:

Trade pitching for middle infield upgrades. If the Reds are looking to remain good for more than a year, the solution is this: try hard to sign Cueto and one other pitcher. Trade BP for whatever they can get (assuming he’ll let himself be traded) and trade one or two other pitchers (possibly including prospects) for middle infielders who can be expected to contribute for at least a few years.

What I am suggesting is more about restructuring where the value in the team resides than anything else, but the fact remains that, in the grand scheme, your shortstop and second baseman are more important than your fourth and fifth starting pitchers and your roster construction should reflect that. If I’m the Reds, I try hard to sign Cueto and Leake (I think Leake is undervalued) and go to war with those two, Homer Bailey, the best lineup trades can buy. I live with left overs in the fourth and fifth slots and I wait for Winker to show up in left. Now, I’m assuming that Cingrani/Igelsias/Stephenson/Holmberg/whomever else can contribute enough to make a passable backend of the rotation, but I think that’s a reasonable assumption. And if it isn’t, it’s still better than assuming BP and Cozart are going to get it done for a team that desperately needs an offensive upgrade.

The Reds, if they’re wise, shouldn’t be looking for a LF who will stick for more than a year because Winker is such a good prospect. They can, quite comfortably, however, look for middle infielders who will be around for a while because the system is relatively empty at those positions.

Perhaps I am terribly wrong about all of this or perhaps none of it is feasible. But right now, with the way this organization is constructed, this is what I aim to do if my goal is be competitive in the long term.

96 Responses

  1. gusnwally

    Well thought out. It makes a lot of sense, though I think an upgrade for left is important. But even a 1 yr rental , middle talent type could furnish that. But lets not blow too much money on him.

    • AccuRater

      “Winker is coming. He’s one of the best LF prospects in the game.”

      Winker may be 2-3 years away. In 92 plate appearances with Pensacola, his OPS was .677. He’s only 21 and very likely needs 2+ more years before he is ready to contribute.

      • Dale Pearl

        Winker literally grew up in a batting cage. His family owns a baseball academy… Winker was injured and just about every baseball scout says that he is major league ready in the hitting department. 2 to 3 years is an exaggeration… One year sure but he will be arriving about the same time as Stephenson.

      • tct

        “Winker literally grew up in a batting cage”

        That’s pretty messed up. His parents wouldn’t even let him in the house? Was this an indoor cage or was he exposed to the elements? Did they turn it off from time to time or was he constantly fighting off fastballs to stay alive? Why didn’t anyone call social services for God’s sake?

      • Jason Linden

        Those 92 ABs had an abnormally low BABIP. Looking at his plate discipline, there’s now real reason to think he’s that far away. Especially after he just finished destroying the Arizona Fall League. I would be very surprised if he made his debut later than 2016.

      • Doug Gray

        Winker had a torn tendon in his wrist for most of that time in Pensacola. He tried playing through it before it led to him being shut down. Winker could be ready as soon as April of 2015, though I don’t expect to see him by then. But he’s about as sure of a hitter as you are going to see. He swings at strikes, he uses the entire field and he has power. You can’t ask for anything else out of a bat.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Thanks for te clarification Doug. I wasn’t sure when he injured his wrist before going down for the remainder of the season. Trying to play through the injury combined with the uncharacteriscally low BAbip pretty much makes his AA numbers a complete outlier, especially after his AFL performance.

  2. Dale Pearl

    The Reds top prospects are not great 1 thru 10. I think it is good slightly better than middle oft he pack. Now where we excel at is our 11 thru 20. We probably have 6 pitchers in this range we could easily trade and not damage our farm system long term….. Trade 6 pitchers for 2 to 3 in the shortstop and second base areas….. That is a deal I would go for.

  3. Jeff

    I’ve been having a similar thought lately. I think Heisey in left next year is equal or better than what we got out of left last year. He will be a marginal place holder for Winker.
    If Cozart bats 8th and keeps his defense up… fine, but you can’t have 2 middle infield #8 hitters so you need to upgrade either second or short.

  4. Jeff

    Oh and Jason when do we get the last chapter of your book? I’ve really enjoyed it, and hope you will be selling signed copies when it gets printed.

    • Jason Linden

      The last chapter is going to post the same day as the release (which is why it isn’t out yet). Tentative date, right now, is December 5th. It may be a few days later than that. Thanks for the interest though. We’re going to try to figure something out with signed copies for people who want them. I’ll definitely post here when everything is ready to go.

  5. hof13

    I kinda like this idea. However if BP is going to be replaced, I think you have to trade for your new 2nd baseman first, then tell BP either he can approve a trade or be the teams utility infielder. I don’t see him approving a trade otherwise.

    • charlottencredsfan

      This is exactly right. Kudos for identifying it.

  6. redsfan06

    I really think the Reds could use 2 upgraded bats and plug them in any of the spots you mention. The specter of low performing hitters in CF, 2B, SS and LF is facing the team as currently constructed. That’s half the starters in the line-up, not just the #7-8 spots.

  7. jonrox

    “Fact 1: The Reds – assuming they plan to win next year – should not be making changes at […] left […]”

    Should be “right” i assume

  8. sultanofswaff

    This has been my plan all along–that SS is the bigger position of need. Specifically, that we should trade from our surplus of minor leaguers who are years away to acquire the help we need. Package Cozart with some combination of Travieso\Romano\Lively\Moscot\Guillon\Garrett\Ervin and could easily be replenished in the draft next year.

    • ohiojimw

      Agree that SS needs to be a point of focus because there is no obvious long term relief/ upgrade in the internal pipeline.

      As I stated on the Bruce thread, I believe they need to lead with either Bruce or Frazier and bundle them with a front line pitcher (versus “prospect”) to get the job right, although that doesn’t preclude a prospect or two in the final mix if the deal would turn into a really big one (Tulo sized). What they would be looking to do is to get back two everyday position players who would be stronger overall in the 2 positions combined than what they were before with Bruce/ Frazier combined with the other internal player who would be displaced by this trade.

  9. droomac

    I agree with the basic premise. However, some caveats:

    *The Reds should sell high on Cueto and Chapman, knowing that neither will be with the team in two years and both will return some potential future pieces. Frankly, I don’t care if any of the players actually contribute right away. I want the talent and payroll space for ’15. I am thinking AA/AAA top-end talent, the likes that teams like Toronto, the Dodgers, and some other teams have. In the process, Schumaker and his grit (and $2.5 million) go to one of the teams (or team) receiving Cueto/Chapman.

    *They should buy low on Colby Rasmus and Jed Lowrie. I would overpay on one year of Rasmus and would offer Lowrie up to three years. I would then look to “rebound” pitching candidates and sign one or two of them (Brett Anderson, Chad Billingsly, Ryan Vogelsong, etc.). This should take care of the $20-22 million of payroll that Cueto, Chapman, and Schumaker were due.

    *Commit to a system in which Rasmus plays LF primarily, but also spells Hamilton from time to time in CF. Hamilton stays fresher and he is a bench weapon when is doesn’t start.

    *Have Frazier in LF and Lowrie at 3B against LH starters.

    *Have Lowrie start around 100 games at SS and spell BP at 2B as well (Lowrie should end up starting about 130-140 games). Cozart will start the others and will be a late-inning defensive replacement the others.

    *Count on Iglesias and Cingrani in the bullpen in ’15. With Jumbo and a couple of other pieces, it should be a pretty solid group.

    The worst case scenario with this situation is that the signings stink and Rasmus walks after one year and Lowrie is around for another one or two years (Lowrie is much lower risk, however). However, even in the worst case scenario, that young talent that Cueto and Chapman brought still makes 2016 and beyond much brighter.

    The best case scenario is the Reds catch lightning in a bottle and, with an invigorated offense and 80% of a great rotation still around, go to the postseason. Then, they can QO Rasmus, pencil in Lowrie in the same role in ”16, ease Iglesias/Stephenson/Lorenzen into the rotation, give Winker LF, and make us all very happy in the coming years.

    • tct

      I like the idea and your philosophy, especially with regards to Cueto and Chapman, mirrors mine. The only problem is I don’t think there is anyway Rasmus only signs for one year. Looking at the free agent market for hitters, I could see lots of teams offering him two years and wouldn’t be surprised if someone gave him three. The people at fangraphs think he will get three. He’s still pretty young, has nice power, has some upside, and can play center in a pinch. I think it will take a multi year commitment to get him.

      • droomac

        I would think he would jump at a one year deal for the chance to build value playing at GABP if the Reds were willing to overpay a bit. If I were him, I would want to avoid a multi-year and go for one after 2015. Of course, I could be dead wrong. I would not give him more than a one year deal.

      • tct

        The crowd sourcing at Fangraphs had Rasmus at 3/30. Dave Cameron predicted 3/36 from the White Sox. If Aoki is probably getting two years and trying for three, then Rasmus could certainly get three. Even if his market bottoms out, it’s hard to see him getting less than 2 years for 20-25. So how much would the Reds have to overpay for one year to get him to turn down two or three years at 10-12 per? At least 15, maybe more. The market for hitters is just ugly.

      • droomac

        Baseball Reference predicted one year for $12 million, but I do believe he could get a three year deal. The question will be whether he wants a three year deal that puts him at 30 when he hits free agency again, or a one year deal to capitalize on a better 2015 season.

      • droomac

        Actually, a three year deal would put him at 31 when he hits free agency again.

    • ManuelT

      How many times are you going to hijack a post? This article is about trying to win in 2015- why can’t you stay within that framework? You’ve already said about 100 times that our best pitcher and Chapman should be traded. I now know what your posts will contain without reading them. We know. Haven’t you read that the person (owner) who matters hasn’t given up on 2015 and probably won’t be swayed that way? Haven’t you read that Cueto is as close to untouchable a player as we have because “he’s our best pitcher by far”? Frankly you don’t care if the payers contribute right away? After you’ve said something one or two times, I think we get it. We don’t need the constant restatement of prior posts.

      • droomac

        I’m not sure how my thoughts don’t fit within the framework. Jason proposed not getting a LF “solution” for any more than one year, which I agreed with. He also proposed getting some middle infield help, which I also agreed with. I do have a different view regarding which pieces to move, however, and I shared that. I also believe it would be foolish to sign Cueto to a long-term deal and that it will be next to impossible to move Phillips at this point (though I didn’t share those thoughts). My contention that the prospects are an ancillary benefit to the payroll space that will be freed up by moving the three players that I proposed moving. To put it very concisely, the Reds could well be better in 2015 without Cueto and Chapman, even if the players that come in the trade(s) are not ready for the majors in 2015.

        What I find curious is that you still decide to read my contributions despite the fact that you know what will be in them. I find it even more curious that you feel compelled to admonish me for . . . . . sharing my thoughts in the comments section on a blog dedicated to a baseball team. Wow.

      • VaRedsFan

        I think what he was saying is that what you propose… trading (JC and AC) is a pipe dream considering the Reds stance on those two players, and that the majority of you posts revolve around trading said players.

  10. Hotto4votto

    Not a bad plan. I could go for it. And reasonably we should expect Negron to pick up some of the slack at 2B or SS. I would see what Atlanta would send back for Phillips. Cheap, reliable bullpen help or lower prospects would be enough for me to pull the trigger there. I keep saying get Taylor from Seattle to be the SS of the future. I’m sure the Reds and M’s could work something out.

    • tct

      Based on what the Braves have done so far, I think the last thing they would want would be an aging player with a bad contract. The only way Atlanta takes BP, I think, is if it is some sort of bad contract swap involving Phillips and BJ Upton. That doesn’t really help the Reds, unless you think Negron is the real deal and can fill in for BP.

  11. jessecuster44

    Cozart can pick it at SS. He’s one of the best defensive guys out there. HIs bat has regressed, but given the importance of defense at that position, and assuming the O gets upgraded elsewhere, is it vital to upgrade from an already outstanding defender?

  12. tct

    I like the idea of upgrading the middle infield. But young shortstops who can hit are the most valuable commodity in baseball. To say that the reds should go out and get a young middle infielder without trading Cueto, Leake, or Chapman seems pretty far fetched, unless you want to trade Meso, Hamilton, or Frazier, and from your post I can gather that you don’t want to do that. So who is this young middle infielder you are getting without giving up any of your best pitchers?

    I think the Reds match up well with the Cubs, who have middle infield depth and are looking for elite pitching. Being a division rival may prevent them from trading with each other, but I’d like to have Castro or Russell. But only Cueto or Chapman have anything close to enough value to bring those guys back.

    The Winker thing bugs me. Not because I don’t like Winker. I do. Quite a bit. But 2/3 of BA top 100 prospects end up as busts. The Reds had the worst outfield in baseball last year, by WAR and by wRC+. Winker still hasn’t mastered AA and the only outfielders that you are gonna get on one year deals are below average players. To not upgrade the worst outfield in baseball because of a prospect who has less than 100 PA in AA is silly if you are trying to win this year. If you end up with too many outfielders who are hitting then you can always trade one. But, as it stands right now, the Reds outfield is horrible offensively. If you don’t upgrade that you might as well start the rebuild.

    • vegastypo

      I agree with this. Regarding Winker specifically, even if he will become a dominant player, who’s to say it will happen in his first season? Some guys take longer than others.

      I feel like there is an ‘either/or’ with the outfield that I don’t understand. Just because Winker could be ready by late 2015 or 2016, why can’t the Reds get a proven guy as well? Like TCT says, if you end up with a productive Winker right off the bat — no pun intended — AND a good deal on the guy you brought in, you have trade bait. …

      And given that we know firsthand how bad injuries can wreck a team, I would think depth would be a good thing (back-up first baseman, anyone?), especially for a team that refuses to use its 15-day DL just because the guy might be back on day 11 or 12. Heck, I’d like to have an actual legit guy to be a DH in American League parks — not that I’m going to build my whole team around it — as well as a pinch hitter and for occasional starts.

      • tct

        Exactly. Plus, even if Winker shows he is ready early on this year, what if Bruce continues to struggle or if his knee starts acting up? The Reds really need another outfielder who can hit regardless of what Winker does this year.

        As for trading outfielders, there are 90 big league starting jobs and 60 backup jobs for outfielders. Teams are always looking for outfielders who can hit. Having too many would not be a problem, but having too few is if you want to win this year.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Someone mentioned Evan Gattis the other day. The more I think about it the more I like the idea. Low cost, 28 year old with big time pop, okay OBP and best of all can play LF, 1B & C. Could very well be dynamite at GABP.

      • Thegaffer

        As usual Charlotte you are right on. I would not sign him long term but he has several cheap years of team control. Also, it would guarantee C as a plus offensive position no matter who plays. Remember what this offense did on days Mesoraco rested?

  13. aceistheplace2

    Going in line with Steve’s targeted player (I forget the specifics: OBP,walk rate, and K rate), who are SS that can be traded for that fits these requirements? I think a string of posts (much like that of the LF targets posts) would be helpful.

    • Steve Mancuso

      There really aren’t many. Only three qualified SS in the major leagues had an OBP over .330 last year. One of those is Hanley Ramirez, a free agent. Starlin Castro and Jhonny Peralta are the other two. The Cubs might trade Castro. The Cardinals won’t trade Peralta. Jed Lowrie is another free agent who is a decent hitter. Tulo didn’t qualify, obviously he’s a great hitter, but injury prone.

      Shortstop is a hitting wasteland in the majors now. On the one hand, that would make acquiring a good one all the more attractive. On the other hand, it makes living with Zack Cozart’s outstanding defense more palatable.

      2B is a much more promising position to upgrade. But the Reds can’t just wish away Brandon Phillips.

      • kmartin

        I live in Chicago and follow the Cubs. I think the Cubs would dearly love to trade Castro and his contract through 2019. I may get lambasted for this, but I prefer Cozart over Castro. Yes, I know we need hitting and Castro totally dominates Cozart. However, Castro is constantly falling asleep in the field, never seems to know how many outs there are, and is always at odds with his manager. I won’t go into his legal problems.

        One of my fears this offseason is that the Reds acquire Castro.

      • Thegaffer

        First, it is crazy to say Cozart is preferable to Castro. Second, rest assured Walt will find a way to not make a trade to make this team better.

      • tct

        Yeah, he’s got some issues. But he’s 24. BP was a problem at that age. So was Joe Morgan. Castro has been on some dreadful teams the past few years. It’s hard to stay engaged when you are losing all the time.

        Put it like this; he’s a young shortstop who can hit and is signed to a pretty team friendly deal. If he didn’t have some warts, the Reds would have no chance to get him. I’d rather the warts be something that can be fixed or grown out of, like attitude and intensity, as opposed to something that can’t be changed, like lack of talent. The attitude problems could be a good thing for the Reds if they make Castro under valued.

      • kmartin

        TCT — I definitely see your points. I agree totally that attitude is something that can be changed, but lack of talent cannot.

        I do recall that Morgan was considered a “bad apple” early in his career but I think the issue was more attitude than hustle or having his head in the game. Watching Castro can be scary. Very scary.

      • tct

        When acquiring players in trade or through free agency, the Reds should use the same approach I use to find women. If a woman is beautiful with a great body, is smart, funny, and rich to boot, then I know she is probably out of my league. Just like Tulo is out of the Reds league in terms of prospect cost and Hanley is out of their league in money.

        So I have to find a woman who has flaws that I can live with. Starlin Castro is the equivalent of a woman who is breathtakingly beautiful, but is also a bit crazy and unemployed. As long as the craziness doesn’t get too out of hand, I can live with that.

      • kmartin

        TCT — Not sure how to respond to your analogy. Here is my analogy. Castro reminds of another Cub — Carlos Zambrano. It never did work out.

        My fear is the Reds do something like trade Leake and Cozart to the Cubs for Castro. The Cubs use Cozart as a stop gap until their highly regarded Addison Russell (from Oakland Jeff Samardzija trade) is ready. I assume you would like this trade. My hope is that the Yankees get Castro to replace Jeter.

        I absolutely understand the appeal of Castro and our need for hitting. I just think the probability of a bad marriage is too great.

      • tct

        I can see my woman analogy blew your mind!

        Yeah, you’re right, sometimes young knuckleheads don’t mature and just become old knuckleheads. So there is risk there. Just like in my analogy, maybe my beautiful, crazy woman tries to kill me in my sleep because she thinks I was flirting with her sister. Who knows, man?

        My point, I think, was that I, and the Reds, aren’t going to be able to get someone perfect so they have to find someone who has strengths that are attractive to them and flaws they can live with. The Reds had a horrible offense last year, and Castro is young and can hit. I think they could live with his flaws. Cozart is a great defender. But he was the worst everyday hitter in the league last year. I don’t know if they can continue to live with that flaw.

      • jessecuster44

        No to Castro. He has a terrible work ethic, still makes ridiculous mental errors, and is about as far away from a “professional” as you’d see from any major league player. I don’t buy the line that he’s young. He’s gotten dressed down by THREE different managers and he still does dumb things far too often. He’s about as Cub as the Cubs have right now.

      • Kyle Farmer

        I could see Castro maturing on a team with strong leadership. Morgan joins the BRM with a history of attitude problems but has Rose, Bench, and Perez to show him the way. He blossoms into the best player in the game.

        The problem is that the Reds seem to have no strong leaders at all. I guess BP could be considered one, but I’m not sure that’s what the team would want.

        I still hold out hope the Torii Hunter can be signed. He’s the bridge to Winker and a leader in the mold of Rolen.

      • aceistheplace2

        Steve,
        Since there are only 3 that meet that criteria (the ones you had set out for LF), should there be different criteria that applies to different positions, in this case SS (or 2B)? If there are different specs, what would they be and who would you suggest?

  14. jessecuster44

    Not Tulo. That guy is an injury magnet.

  15. Tom Reed

    I’ll settle for Cozart at shortstop in 2015. Hanley Ramirez would provide offense and defense but as a free agent who made 16 million last season, that’s not going to happen.

  16. ToddAlmighty

    Snatch up Seager from the Dodgers and Betts from the Sox. Should cost probably Cueto for Betts, and Chapman + Lively for Seager.

    That’d fix the middle of your infield in a flash.

    • Matt V

      Don’t personally know anything about Seager, but you’re dreaming if you think the Sox will take Cueto for Betts.

      • ToddAlmighty

        There’s already a lot of trade rumors about the Sox using Betts as a trade piece. There’s also a lot of talk about them wanting to acquire a #1 pitcher. Cueto has the second lowest ERA in all of MLB since 2011, only behind 3 time Cy Young, 1 time MVP Kershaw.

        http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/09/23/projecting-red-sox-opening-day-roster/eO5tTunP3SKDWm0il1452J/story.html
        “No. 1 starter, Plan B

        Trade Mookie Betts and Henry Owens for Johnny Cueto of the Reds. He is 12-5, 2.48 in 23 interleague games and a legit stud. The Red Sox are in desperate need of a top-flight starter and Cueto fills that need.”

        – – –

        Seager is a 6’4, 215lb SS (Troy Tulowitzki: 6’3, 215lb) that’ll be 21 in 2015. He hit .345/.381/.534 in 161 PA in AA last year though he did have 22 errors in 112 games.

        Between A+ and AA in 2014, he hit 50 2B, 5 3B, and 20 HR.

      • Ken Goldsberry

        The Dodgers have stated repeatedly that Pederson and Seager are untouchable. Don’t understand the love affair folks have for trying to acquire players that aren’t available.

      • ToddAlmighty

        Not sure I believe there’s such a thing as untouchable. It’s an interesting thing about baseball over the NFL. Everyone is available, if only for the right price.

        “Untouchable” is just a word GMs use when they want a better offer.

  17. JohnU

    I have long believed that I would not trade a pitcher for a LF, so that’s still sort of my belief. But I think it’s time the Reds gave serious thought to getting some bats. I mean, some guys who can HIT. It’s time to deal a pitcher. Not for just a HR hitter, but a hitter.
    GABP has been erroneously called a hitter’s park by everyone who is too lazy to look it up. It’s a HR ballpark, but if pitchers don’t give up fly balls, it’s a ballpark.
    The Reds need pitchers who can keep the thing in the yard. After that, they need hitters. It’s time to manufacture a team that can win.
    Deal the pitcher, get the hitter. If not in LF, then at 3B … put Frazier in LF.

  18. Moses

    Hey, here’s a novel idea that we stopped talking about a long time ago, but is reminiscent of the Reds botched handling of Aroldis Chapman: have Phillips play shortstop. Yes, he’s an incredible defensive second-baseman, but his offense has fallen off a cliff. Since his trade value (and no trade clause) make him virtually un-moveable (at least out of Cincinnati), he’s likely a passable shortstop (since he came up as one) and his bat would play a lot better at that position. Then we could get a 2B with a much better bat, along with a left-fielder, maybe all in a trade for the miscast Chapman.

    • lwblogger2

      Moving BP to SS isn’t going to work. That’s why people started talking about it. When he first came over, he was an adequate defensive SS. He had enough arm and range to make it work. His footwork and routes at SS weren’t great there and he made his share of mistakes, both mental and physical. He was moved to 2B and the rest was pretty much history. Since that time, BP hasn’t really seen time at SS. He hasn’t played even a game there in years. The arm is still there but his range, even at 2B has decreased. While he is still a very good defensive 2B, I don’t think he’s one of the top 3 in baseball anymore. Considering this and the fact that even years ago, he was only adequate at SS when he played there regularly, I don’t think he’d even be an average defensive SS. So, you’d be moving a guy who’s still a plus defender at 2B, to a spot where he’d be probably significantly below average. Then you’d probably replace him with an average defender at 2B, thus weakening your defense up the middle by a lot.

  19. redsfan06

    Here’s a one stop shopping trade idea. Send Cozart and prospect(s) to Tampa Bay for Zobrist and Escobar.

    Zobrist plays LF (also RF, 2B and SS) with a .354 OBP. He fills the hole at lead off. Escobar upgrades the hitting at the lower end of the line-up (92 OPS+ vs. 61 for Cozart).

    Zobrist costs $7.5 million for one year. Escobar is signed for $5 million in 2015 and $7 million in 2016. No long term commitments required of the Reds and the increase in payroll in 2015 is about equal to what the Reds saved on the Broxton contract.

    It’s an inexpensive way for the Reds to go all in in 2015 and doesn’t cost them any of their starting pitching.

    Tampa Bay gets rid of $19.5 million in payroll over two years and acquires a younger, cheaper gold glove SS with 3 years of team control plus a prospect(s).

    The Reds get a lead off hitter and upgrade two spots in the line-up.

    • droomac

      I would love to have those guys. However, I’m not sure that the Reds could add this payroll.

      • jessecuster44

        If the Reds can afford to give millions to oft-injured relief pitchers and ex-cardinals, surely they can pay a little more for actual baseball players.

      • redsfan06

        Droo,
        Aoki is projected to get $8 million/year as a free agent. Zobrist and Escobar are making $12.5 million combined. Subtract whatever amount Cozart gets in arbitration and the difference is $2-3 million. Whether or not the trade could come to fruition, it is one the Reds could afford.

        Realistically, it’s fruitless to propose trades and my knowledge of who’s available and for what is useless since I am not a GM. I believe the Reds need to upgrade more than one of the bats in the line-up. Adding only an Aoki or Morse or Cespedes isn’t going to be enough of an improvement for this offense with (4) holes (5 if you want to include Bruce).

        I was just trying to show that the Reds could find a way to accomplish adding two hitters in an affordable manner. Most likely, they are going to end up trading one of their starting pitchers to boost the hitting without increasing payroll….unless Walt thinks adding one mid-level bat is going to fix the offense.

      • JohnU

        One mid-level bat can improve the offense if that hitter is somewhere around the .285 BA range. What makes an offense work is not having the “kangaroo straight” where every other hitter is a swingaholic. Neither Cespedes nor Morse resolves that question. Aoki would address that problem. As would Jose Tabata, who you could get for almost free.

  20. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Your premise is slightly off. If the Reds are looking for offense, then we only have catcher, first base, and third base, and that’s only when Votto is healthy.

    Bruce. in 2013. showed he could go the opposite way better. But, then, he K’ed almost 200 times, so that can arguably be a wash. Last season, he was definitely worse with the bat. Simply put, Bruce has been living on the one good month each season so far that was being good enough to get him into the AS game. Last summer, he simply didn’t have that good month. I do believe we have seen about all we are going to see from Bruce. Oh, he will probably produce better in 2015 than 2014. But, better than his 2010-2013 numbers were? Most likely not.

    Injury the reason for Bruce’s 2014? Very possible. But, then, that would be Bruce’s fault, again, for going out there before he was ready. And, it’s not like Bruce was an offensive force to be reckoned with in previous years, either. Or, did team’s have to plan for him? Not really. The plan is out on Bruce. The teams know how to decrease his effectiveness. And, Bruce has failed to make an adjustment back.

    With Hamilton, while I am a fan of his, his numbers only look good because he is a rookie. Compared to the other CF’s in the league, his offense stunk. Now, he should progress, and hopefully will. However, there are definitely better players out there offensively than Hamilton. For example, in short, I would have much rather had Choo back out there than Hamilton.

    SS and a plan B for BP I have questioned about, myself. I would have no problem letting BP go. But, then, who’s plan B? Better to have that in place when you let a player like BP go than not.

    As for SS, yes, I agree we can upgrade the offense there. However, most every team has a player starting that is poor offensively. Even the Giants, they had Belt starting at 1st with a 306 OBP. A sub of their, Arias, who appeared in 107 games, had an OBP of only 281. Cozart isn’t too far from them. Only as an example. Can a team survive with a player like Cozart on the team, good glove no bat? Sure. However, that is one spot less we have to find offense from. It can definitely be improved.

    And, it’s not just the middle infielders. If you noticed, when Votto went down, we had no depth at first base, no one who could regularly step in. The minor leaguer, Soto, stunk. And, what about if Frazier goes down? Who takes his place? I believe we have no strong infielders coming up, only OF and P. That’s one reason why we spent 5 of our first 9 picks last draft on infielders, several of them college players.

    LF, obviously, can be better offensively.

    But, then, a lot of this goes toward what I’ve said before. So many people love to talk about defense wins championships. Or, pitching wins championships. Etc. When, in fact, it never is these individual things. It’s the best team wins championships. We proved that last season. We had the fewest errors in the game, best defense in the game. Where did it get us? How close to the playoffs were we? The two team with the worst defenses in the league, both in the playoffs. The Cards, who we love to talk about being inept defensively, again in the playoffs.

    In short, I believe a lot of people on here overrate how important defense is. First, if you have good pitching, that makes things a lot easier for the pitcher. For instance, if the pitcher can keep the batters off-track enough, then if the batter hits the ball, it can be more of an easy grounder than a line-drive. Though good defensive teams can get to line drives, they won’t always get to them. And, for major league defenders, I can’t help thinking they would be more likely to make a clean play on an easy grounder than a line drive.

    I never did say defense isn’t important. Because it is. I just believe defense is overrated by many. So many love to compare it to football and defenses like the Raven’s SB teams or the Bucs SB teams. The difference in football, like with those teams, defenses can score points and help keep the other team from scoring points. Defenses can’t score runs in baseball.

    It’s the best team who will always win, the team who scores the most runs after 9 innings each time. That incorporates offense, defense, and pitching. We have the last 2. We need the first ingredient. And, that as of now can change anywhere but catcher, first base, and third base.

    • Jason Linden

      Jay Bruce was horrible last year. However, among everyday players from 2010-2013, he was the 42 best hitter in baseball by wRC+. (I’m assuming everyday equals 2000 PAs over that span.) If you widen your parameters a bit, you can drop him into the sixties. But in either case, dismissing him is a mistake. Is he a Hall of Fame hitter? No. Is he a very good hitter? Yes.

      • lwblogger2

        Jason, I’ve given up arguing about it. He doesn’t like Jay Bruce and has his opinion of what Bruce is. It was also pointed out using yearly month-to-month numbers that Bruce doesn’t just have one good month a year. Still, he makes the same accusations despite any evidence to the contrary. He’s going to think what he thinks no matter what. Many of us have made arguments to the contrary, some using very similar statistics you quote, but they don’t matter.

    • JohnU

      I buy most of this argument all the time and all of it most of the time. I don’t think this outfit can endure another season with a AAA lineup on the field. the marquee players have to be in the lineup and they have to hit and score runs. RBI’s if you will.
      I thought the raves over Reds defense were vastly overrated a year ago.
      In fact, it was nothing it it wasn’t statistically lucky. Pena had marginal range at 1st base, Frazier at 1st base was probably 3 on a 1-5 scale and I won’t mention Bruce over there. The middle was fine all the way to the fence. Bruce was brutal in LF. Heisey was our best in LF and that wasn’t any GG operation.
      Still, I don’t see an automatic upgrade that gives us a better glove AND a better bat. I don’t much care what the defense is in LF or at 1st base.
      We are not going to win games 2-1.

    • Michael Smith

      When are ppl going to stop with this nonsense. Bruce does not live off of one good month a year. Below is how many months he had an 800 plus ops since 2010

      2014: June
      2013: May, June and July
      2012: April, June, August and September
      2011: May, July and August
      2010: April, May, June, August plus a slightly injured September and October.

      In summary that is an average of three months a year. Why people beat up on Bruce is beyond me. In this day and age of decreasing offense why on gods green earth would we get rid of Bruce?

      • JohnU

        Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee cause we would have to find another 6 guys to play right field, which would allow us to beat up on the GM who has tried to fix LEFT field for the last 6 years. You get a guy who is likely to be there 145 games a year, you keep him.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        I never said a calendar month. For instance, in your 2010, Bruce his half his HR’s that season during a 29 game span in the latter part of August and the first part of September, 13 HR’s in 29 games. The entire rest of the season for him, 12 HR’s in 119 games.

        In 2011, Bruce hit 37.5% of his HR’s that season in the month of May, 12 HR’s. The rest of the months, he averaged 4 HR’s a month, 12.5% each month.

    • Kyle Farmer

      Shin-Soo Choo
      2014 WAR – 0.1
      2014 Salary – $14,000,000

      Billy Hamilton
      2014 WAR – 2.5
      2014 Salary – $500,000

      And, you’d rather have Choo, who is entering his age 32 season, over Hamilton, who is entering his age 24 season? Really? Seriously?

      I said it on the day Choo signed with the Rangers that while I hated to see him go, sometimes the best moves that GMs make are the moves that they don’t make. Not signing Choo was simply brilliant. And Jocketty still takes shots for it around here.

      • JohnU

        I don’t think it ever was a matter of having Choo INSTEAD of Hamilton, so your premise is flawed. What most of us wanted was Choo to move to left field to allow the Kid to play center. Stay inside that framework and you will not need to share stats that don’t matter.

      • Kyle Farmer

        Have you read the post that I’m replying to John? Here’s a direct quote –

        “However, there are definitely better players out there offensively than Hamilton. For example, in short, I would have much rather had Choo back out there than Hamilton.” – Steve Schoenbaechler, 11/22, 9:22 PM

        So, maybe if you stayed within the framework, you’d see that the stats are, in fact, very relevant to the discussion. Try to follow along.

      • CP

        Choo also played all season with an ankle injury. Yes, older players get injured more, but bad data in=bad data out

      • Thegaffer

        Agree, but that is really just saying shopping on the expensive free agent market is not a good plan. Reds still need to get a Decent LF somehow, but trading a pitcher may be the better way.

      • Kyle Farmer

        The original poster clearly said that he would prefer Choo to Hamilton in CF. Based on the stats, age, and salary, that seems ridiculous to me.

      • jessecuster44

        I think that most of us realized that paying Choo would be a misallocation or resources. To characterize Jocketty as brilliant for not paying $14 MM? That’s more common sense than brilliance.

      • Kyle Farmer

        Fair enough. Brilliance is an overstatement for sure, but Steve Schoenbaechler is arguing that Choo at 14 million per season is a better value than Hamilton at 500 grand. I’m not saying everyone feels that way, but look at the post again, Steve does.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        If we are looking for offense, who would you bet on to provide offense? I’m a Hamilton fan, but the answer to that is obvious.

      • Kyle Farmer

        You’re getting far better offense for your money with Hamilton.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Kyle, I entirely agree with that, when you factor in the money aspect of it. However, if we are going to get any better as a team offensively, we are going to have to spend some money, most likely.

      • Kyle Farmer

        CP – I don’t think you can just say that the 2014 numbers don’t count because he had an ankle injury. Choo has been prone to injury for most of his career and that will in all likelihood become more prominent as he ages. Furthermore, you could also say that Billy’s numbers were deflated because he was a rookie facing the 162 game grind for the first time.

      • Kyle Farmer

        CP – Are you seriously arguing that Choo is a better option for the Reds than Hamilton?

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        For short term offense? That’s obvious, yes. But, long term success from this point on, the answer is Hamilton.

    • aceistheplace2

      Dude I’m a Buccaneer fan (sad I know) and that defense was legit. 4 for sure Hall of Fame Players (and in my opinion it should be 5). They used that defense as an offense. It was fun to watch because no matter what side of the ball they were on they had a chance every play to make a score. Sorry for the football tangent.

  21. charlottencredsfan

    Just a wild guess but I think the Reds end up with Josh Willingham. Perfect fit for the Reds management:
    * 36 years old on Opening Day 2015
    * Probably would be willing to sign a 2-3 year deal at ~ $7.5 to 8 million/year
    * Nice OBP: .345 in 2014
    * wRC+ of 113
    * History of power

    What’s not to like? Meets the RLN criteria, relatively affordable and you will have him for additional 1 to 2 seasons. Hey, we are “all in”, right??

    Note: I think this would a 180 degree wrong move from what should be done but he fits the narrative. Wouldn’t be surprised if Walt is engaged in negotiations with his agent as I write this.

    • lwblogger2

      I hear ya. Alas it very likely isn’t happening though. Josh Willingham has announced his retirement.

  22. Earl Nash

    Josh Reddick is the Oakland A that is possibly on the trading block that I think would be interesting for the Reds.

    • lwblogger2

      A’s might be selling low on him and he would be an interesting possibility.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      I agree with that. And, it would allow Todd to move to LF, the position he had said before is his favorite position. The thing is with Reddick, I believe we would be in for his for the long term. So, what do we do when Winker and/or Waldrop are ready? Of course, I can see two different scenarios. One, bring in Reddick, possibly for Winker, Waldrop, and/or whatever. Or, don’t bring in Reddick, and still seek the 1-2 year rental for Winker or Waldrop.

      • Matt WI

        I think your thinking of Josh Donaldson at 3rd. Reddick is an outfielder only. Either one would be a good get, but Donaldson would be amazing and in a different price bracket.