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 knowÃ‚Â 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. Ã‚Â 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 signÃ‚Â 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.