“The importance of the shoulder in hitting is underestimated,” says Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Center, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject. ”Trying to re-establish ones mechanics after (shoulder) surgery is a complex process. It’s extremely delicate. It involves rebuilding strength, and all that goes into the swing from the front shoulder. It takes perfect mechanics to regain bat speed and the swing path. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes more.”

* * *

On Opening Day 2013, Ryan Ludwick was the starting left fielder for the Reds. He’d earned the job with a stellar 2012 campaign where he’d hit .275/.346/.531 with 26 home runs. On a head-first slide in the third inning of the first game of the 2013 season, Ludwick tore the labrum of his left shoulder. He needed surgery; estimates placed his return at least three months away. The day after Ludwick’s injury, I called for a big trade to replace him. Instead, Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson received most of the playing time in left field and Brandon Phillips filled in for Ludwick in the clean-up spot of Dusty Baker’s lineup.

Four months later, Ludwick still hadn’t returned. The Reds were locked in a tight battle with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central. Instead of acquiring a player to replace Ludwick at the deadline, the Reds were the only team in MLB not to make a trade.

Jocketty explained the lack of action to get another LF on July 31, “We’re waiting to get Ludwick back. He’ll be back in a week to 10 days, two weeks, whatever it is.”

Ryan Ludwick was playing for Louisville at the time. He was navigating the tedious, delicate process described by Dr. ElAttrache and falling short. In 10 games at the AAA level, Ludwick hit .132/.154/.237 with isolated power of .105.

Per Jocketty’s stated plans, Ludwick did return for the Reds on August 12. He played in nearly every game after that, amassing 138 plate appearances. But Ludwick’s struggles at the plate continued. He hit .240/.283/.326. That’s an isolated power of .085. For context, that’s roughly the same power as Zack Cozart and Ramon Santiago had with the Reds last year. The Reds gave ground to the Pirates at the end of the 2013 season, lost home field advantage on the final weekend (Ludwick went 0-for-10 in the series) and were defeated by the Pirates at PNC Park in the Wild Card play-in game.

The Reds had waited for Ryan Ludwick and his big bat. The latter never showed up because of the shoulder surgery.

* * *

By July 1, it had become apparent that Joey Votto would miss meaningful stretches of the 2014 season, if not the remainder of the year. It was obvious that he would either require numerous days off, one or two more trips to the DL or a two-month rest. It turned out even worse than that. The Reds needed another first baseman. Everyone knew it.

Yet as John Fay wrote at the time, the Reds had no ready replacement on the roster or in the minors. They could move Todd Frazier to first, but then Ramon Santiago’s bat (.196/.274/.214) played every day at third. That was just shuffling Diamond Seats on the deck of the GABP Titanic.

When John Fay asked Walt Jocketty if the Reds had looked at the alternative of bringing in another first baseman via trade, Jocketty said: “Not really. We got Jack for that. He’s going to be back. If we got someone else, that would put us in a bad spot when he came back.”

Jocketty, of course, was talking about Jack Hannahan. As I wrote then, we’d have all been better off if the Jack in question was Daniels.

Hannahan had torn his labrum back in spring training of 2013 but didn’t disclose the injury to the club. He played hurt throughout 2013. Hannahan finally told the club in the offseason that he’d sustained the injury and had surgery the week after the season ended, so early October 2013.

According to the team’s general manager, the Reds, for the second year in a row, were waiting for a player to return from major shoulder surgery to slot into an important role for the club.

Jocketty uttered the infamous “We got Jack …” line on July 2. Ten days later, the Reds were 51-44 and just 1.5 games out of first place. Jack Hannahan took his first at bat for the Reds on July 27. By the time his first hit came, more than a dozen AB later on August 15, the Reds were below .500 and 6.5 games out.

Like Ryan Ludwick the year before, Jack Hannahan never recovered his swing — because that’s not easy to do coming off shoulder surgery — and finished the season hitting .188/.220/.250.

* * *

One week ago, Walt Jocketty said the Reds are finished adding to the roster, “I think we’re done.”

But wait, just a minute. What about the outfield? Don’t the Reds need to bring in at least one more major league outfielder?

Yes, the Reds first-string outfield is set. It starts with a center fielder who is 24 and hasn’t proven yet that he can hit at the major league level, let alone lead-off the lineup as he will be asked to do. The right fielder is coming off an all-time worst season that included knee surgery. And the left fielder, bless his heart, will turn 38 years old during the season.

That doesn’t sound like a group of players the team should count on to stay healthy and productive all season. Sure, if things go according to plan, Jesse Winker arrives in 2016. But what about 2015? You know, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake’s last season with the Reds. What if Hamilton, Bruce or Byrd gets hurt, or two of them?

Beside those three, here is the list of healthy, major league outfielders on the roster: [crickets]

That’s it. That’s the list. Two of last season’s players are no longer around. Ryan Ludwick took his $4.5 million buyout and left town (his power never did return). The club traded Chris Heisey to the LA Dodgers for a minor league pitcher.

The Reds signed Brennan Boesch, 29, to a minor league deal. But Boesch hasn’t been a productive major league player since 2012. He’d lost his job with the Tigers by the end of that season. The Tigers and Yankees cut Boesch in 2013. He flunked two stints with the LA Angels last season. And Boesch is capital-D dreadful on defense.

Jason Bourgeois, 33, struggled at the plate with the Reds last September. You could say the awful K% and BB% are irrelevant due to the small sample size. Or you could say they were indications that at age 32, Bourgeois, who was mostly a minor league player even in his prime, has become overmatched at the plate at the major league level.

In 113 major league plate appearances, Donald Lutz has hit .211/.239/.284. That’s with 33 strikeouts, four walks and one home run. He hit .236 in AAA last year.

* * *

Skip Schumaker was the Reds fifth OF last season and he’ll be 35 years old on Opening Day.

Bracket off for a moment that, even when healthy, Schumaker is a negative-WAR player. He hit .235/.287/.308 last year and was a nightmare in the field wherever he was assigned by Bryan Price. Schumaker is skidding down the free fall segment of his aging curve. He hit the DL twice last season, playing only 83 games. But as hard as it might be, ignore all that for now.

Skip Schumaker isn’t healthy. In mid-September, he had (drumroll, please) labrum surgery.

Apparently, for the third season in a row, the Reds are counting on a player coming off major shoulder surgery to fill an important role. Right now, Schumaker isn’t the Reds fifth OF, they seem to expect him to be the fourth.

But Skip Schumaker isn’t coming back from his surgery until June, at best. At age 35, recovery could easily take longer or not be successful. And, if the cases of Ludwick, Hannahan (and throw in Scott Rolen for good measure) are any indication, the odds are against Schumaker regaining his swing. His swing that isn’t any good any how.

* * *

For the Reds to count on Skip Schumaker is repeating mistakes of the previous two seasons. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Surely the Reds really aren’t done adding players. They did talk to Dayan Viciedo. When they get an up-close look at their collection of misfit outfield toys in Goodyear, they’ll troll through the pool of remaining free agents and other teams’ discards. Because as is, they don’t have a single credible backup for an already-shaky starting outfield.

If they don’t make another move, I may need a shoulder, fit or otherwise, to cry on.

51 Responses

  1. jas428

    Awesome piece, Steve. I admit bitterness over the commitment to Schu, Luds, and others while not spending a few bucks on Heisey. Still wonder what Price’s role was in unloading and humiliating him in exchange for a minor league player who never contributed at all in the Bigs.

    • earmbrister

      Based on the last two years with Heisey, the Reds were wise to not spend money on him. A copy of another post on another string:

      From my perspective it’s a cost vs benefit thing with Heisey. He’s making more and more and producing less and less.

      Career splits: .247/.299/.432
      2012 (375 PA): .265/.315/.401 0.4 oWAR at a salary of $ 495,000
      2013 (244 PA): .237/.279/.415 0.0 oWAR at a salary of $ 1,325,000
      2014 (299 PA): .222/.265/.378 0.1 oWAR at a salary of $ 1,760,000

      2015 Quite likely a 0 or negative oWAR at a salary of $ 2,160,000

      The 2015 Reds have above average fielding across the outfield, so Heisey’s dWAR is less important than if he was going to be used as a defensive replacement late in games. For a team that needs OBP, the last two years of .279 then .265 is borderline brutal.

      The 2012 Heisey at $ 495,000 was a bargain. Heisey at $ 2.2 Mil is replaceable. And it’s not apparent that the Reds are going to ” troll the discard pile of OF to find a replacement they might have to pay more”. It’s more likely that the Reds are going to man their 4th and 5th OF spots with whomever wins the job from a list of Jason Bourgeois, Brennan Boesch, Skip Schumaker, Donald Lutz, or Felix Perez. None of these guys are going to be making more than Heisey’s $ 2.2 Mil (except for Skip obviously) and it’s not unrealistic that the winners of this competition could bat better than .222/.265/.378, at a fraction of the cost.

      • VaRedsFan

        No mention of his value as a PH? Can’t wait to watch the others you mentioned, when we need a knock.

    • desertred

      Reading this just gets me so excited about the upcoming season. If management cared any less about improving the team and exciting the fan base, I might just have to quit baseball.

  2. droomac

    I can’t help but think that trading Heisey was a prelude to some trade that did not end up happening. What was needed at the deadline last year or this offseason was bold action. I was in favor of selling high on Chapman and Cueto, but this was seemingly out of the question.

    What is really going to be fun is when Byrd’s option vests this year. If he gets 550 PAs, he will be on the team next year at a cost of $8 million. If Jung Ho Kang pans out for the Pirates (while they are paying him $11 million for four years), we will be watching the bold action that the Reds should have taken this offseason.

  3. J. Michael Owens

    Nice work, Steve. When I started reading, I had the “here we go again eye roll going” but you are dead on with Skip Schumacher. He won’t be back as a productive player. I’d like to applaud the Reds for their loyalty and patience with these guys, but they either aren’t being honest with themselves or those rose-colored glasses are of the Coke bottle variety.

    I agree that the Heisey trade had to have been a prelude to something else that didn’t materialize as planned or there’s something about him that the Reds dislike enough that they don’t want him around (at $2.5 million) any more.

    Maybe the plan on Winker is to give him just a half year at AAA if he tears it up? An “if” certainly, but not necessarily a big one. I think the OF starters are going to be fine for the first half. Hamilton was fine last year until he wore down.

    • jessecuster44

      Applaud the Reds for loyalty and patience? Those are the two things that should not be applauded.

      • J. Michael Owens

        Why not? Sometimes patience pays off (sometimes it doesn’t). If the Indians had been more patient with BP, the Reds would never have gotten him. Loyalty can be reflected in a positive clubhouse/work environment. All things being equal, I’d rather play for a club that I trusted than a bunch of a-holes who would trade me at the first opportunity.

        That said, one could argue that the Reds can’t afford to be loyal and that don’t have a choice but to be patient.

      • jessecuster44

        Reds were loyal and patient with Ludwick. Walt said that one of the reasons they didn’t upgrade when Luddy got hurt was that an addition wouldn’t be fair to Ludwick, who was working so hard at rehabbing. And we saw where that got us.

        Know what team isn’t loyal and isn’t patient? The Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

        I’m a fan. I want my team to win. Currently, I do not trust the Reds due to their “loyalty” and “patience” trumping sound management. If being an a-hole and trading players at the first opportunity would improve this team, I’m all for it.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The four-time Super Bowl champion NE Patriots.

      • RiverCity Redleg

        Yeah, but the Patriots also cheat. So that helps. Actually the most successful franchises in any sport in the last 15 years have been found to be cheating in some way. There’s the lesson here.

  4. wvredlegs

    Great summation Steve. That puts the cards right on the table, so to speak. What is that saying, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of something?
    And that something, has infiltrated the Reds front office decision making. They make good, sometimes astute, minor moves. But when it comes to major moves they come up way short. Since Jocketty’s arrival in 2008, he has had the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013, 2014 and now the 2015 seasons to make their mark. Throw away the 2008 since Jocketty didn’t become GM until mid-way through the season. That is 7 seasons now and Jocketty et al have the Rolen, Latos and Choo deals to hang their hats on. Broxton was a decent get and Ludwick for 2012 was a decent get but re-signing him wasn’t. Ever since Gomes started out the 2011 season so poorly, the LF position has been a quicksand quagmire. It has been maddening to sit by and watch as Jocketty and his gang have fumbled away each of the last 3 seasons. They are slow in developing players and when a need arises at the ML level they are slow, or just plain have the inability, to address that need. And now that maddening inability to properly address the LF situation has creeped into the decision making process to get the 2 OF bench positions squared away. Sometimes you get the impression that Jocketty just doesn’t know jack.
    Unfortunately for the Reds, Jocketty does know jack skip.

    • reaganspad

      give him props for Alfredo Simon.

      Every other move could have been made by Marge Schott.

      Wayne Krivsky would have churned through a bunch of roster moves and pulled out a Brandon Phillips or Josh Hamilton… or to a lessor extent Cantu or Cody Ross

      I am not even sure that Walt attends the Rule-5 Draft


      • lwblogger2

        It sure doesn’t seem like he picks anyone up. Thought there was an arm or two that could have helped in the pen this year too.

      • Eric Sullivan

        Wayne krivsky was a terrible GM who should never be complemented.

      • Aaron Bradley

        Strongly disagree with that assessment. He was a first time GM and he had some ups and downs, but the Josh Hamilton and Brandon Phillips pick ups canceled out a lot of mistakes.

  5. jdx19

    Good write-up, Steve. Couldn’t agree more. I think the Reds are in need of some AAA magic. Surely, there’s one player somewhere in the system that could overperform his peripherals. Maybe not. I can hope!

    On a side note, has the website ever considered hosting a traditional internet-style forum where the website’s patrons could post threads, ask questions, or just hang out? I was just thinking about how cool that would be! Minimal cost, as well.

  6. lwblogger2

    This is part of the reason that the over/under for Reds’ wins in 2015 is… Drumroll please… 79. The really said thing, running my Reds projections against teams w/ ZiPS projections in Diamond Mind for 20 simulated seasons, I had an average win total of 77. That’s the “under” kids. My Reds team made the playoffs twice as the 2nd wildcard once and somehow winning the central once (with 87 wins) . Their best win total was 88.

  7. redmountain

    If Hamilton is as bad as some think he will be this year and Bruce is not going to be able to recover, and Votto will not be worth spit, and Frazier and Mesoraco fade,and Suarez/Cozart can’t get it done. and the Reds pitching sucks…..Lets jump out the window now and save ourselves the pain of a season.
    On the other hand, if most of the previous statements are not going to happen, then it may be a pretty good year. Injuries will happen to teams and projections do not put any of that into consideration, nor any players surprising. That is why they play the games, so lets see how it plays out shall we?

  8. Jeremy Conley

    That’s a great article Steve, a great but incredibly depressing article. THis front office has been so confusing to watch over the last few years, and it’s specifically for reasons like this. Throw in the non-trade for Marlon Byrd when it really would have helped (Ludwick stinking it up), then followed by the trade for Byrd when the team probably should be rebuilding. It’s getting pretty confusing, and the Reds could be back to being one of the worst franchises in the game pretty soon if it keeps up.

    On the brighter side, I’m still holding out hope that the Reds have a little payroll flexibility left from moving Latos and Simon, and may make a spring training move. My eyes are on the Red Sox. The Sox have Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Daniel Nava all ticketed for the bench. They have to trade someone, if not two of those guys.

    Nava seems like an obvious choice. He’s making less than $2mil and has a career .368 OBP and .760 OPS. He’d be a great fit for a 4th outfielder that you wouldn’t hate to see batting 7th for 2 months if someone got hurt. Since they need to make a move, it wouldn’t take a great prospect to get him, maybe someone like David Holmberg? The Reds have more options for the 5th starter than we need, the Sox have more options for the 4th outfielder than they need, seems to make sense.

  9. unc reds fan

    Did anyone else just read the title and get shivers?

  10. Art Wayne Austin

    I don’t know how Hannahan was injured but Skip and Ludwig were hustling to win a game for us. Ludwig should not have been diving into 3rd but he felt he was a dead duck. Skip dove for a line-drive in left-center. As far as the length of the contract, take a chance or play a minor-league player as a substitute. By the way, Kris has played the outfield in the minors. We know he plays the infield. He’ll do, a smart, career Red whose time has come.

    • Jeremy Conley

      First off, it’s Ludwick, not Ludwig. Second, nothing I’ve ever read here, including this article, questions how they got injured. Injuries happen, especially to old guys that hustle. The injuries aren’t the problem, it’s the Reds responses to the injuries.

      More or less everyone knew, as soon as the reports of how serious the injury was, that Ludwick was not going to return to full abilities that year. Given that the Reds were in the thick of a playoff push, and that there were lots of decent options to be had, it was troubling to see the Reds front office make no moves, and state that the reason for their lack of trades was that Ludwick was coming back.

      Fundamentally, they seemed to not understand how that injury was going to affect him. Predictably, Ludwick was not himself, and the Reds ended up with another lost season. Now we find ourselves in a similar position with Skip, and hoping that the front office does something to address the problem this time.

      • redsfan06

        The Reds compounded the mistake of waiting for Ludwick’s return by actually playing him despite his dismal minor league rehab numbers of .132/.154/.237 with isolated power of .105, Heisey had returned from his injury in late June and was the team’s top right handed hitter at the time with an OPS over .800 (don’t feel like looking it up). This isn’t a comment about Heisey’s worthiness, but why bring up a struggling Ludwick and have him take playing time from the team’s top producing RH bat?

        Let Ludwick continue to get his bat back in Louisville where it didn’t matter. If Heisey started to falter, then call him up. Typical Dusty move to start putting Ludwick into the line-up even though the veteran was failing. By the end of the season, neither Ludwick nor Heisey with his inconsistent playing time were contributing.

      • lwblogger2

        Curious… Ludwick returned on August 12th. Maybe they were worried about the Aug 31 deadline for him to be able to be on the post-season roster? I don’t know, except that it turned out very poorly for the Reds.

  11. earmbrister

    I don’t get your contention that the starting outfield “doesn’t sound like a group of players the team should count on to stay healthy and productive all season”.

    “It starts with a center fielder who is 24 and hasn’t proven yet that he can hit at the major league level, let alone lead-off the lineup as he will be asked to do.”

    Billy Hamilton came into his rookie year with a grand total of 1 year experience playing CF (and only a few years’ experience being a switch hitter). They guy was playing A ball in 2011, A+ and AA ball in 2012, and AAA ball in 2013. Despite the lack of experience (and with his head probably spinning at times) he came into MLB at the ripe old age of 23 and put up the following splits: .250/.292/.355. I’ll take bets that, with a year’s experience in the field and at the plate, the game will start to slow down for him, and his production at the plate and on the basepaths will increase. In the meantime, in 611 PA as a rookie, he put up a 2.5 WAR.

    “The right fielder is coming off an all-time worst season that included knee surgery.”

    Jay Bruce had knee surgery A YEAR AGO during the season, but gutted it out to try to help the team. Unlike Homer Bailey, there have been no reports that his rehab has not gone well. With a $ 12 Mil salary, the Reds are counting on him, and why shouldn’t they? He’s been a model of consistency up until he got hurt. From 2010 thru 2013 he had the following PA and production (while averaging a 3.4 WAR during those 4 years): 2010 (573 PA with an OPS+ of 124), 2011 (664 PA with a 118), 2012 (633 PA with a 121), and 2013 (697 PA with a 120). Now if you want to insist that the Reds can’t count on Jay Bruce in 2015 I’m sure Marty B. would agree with you. However, I don’t think that you truly believe that Steve.

    “And the left fielder, bless his heart, will turn 38 years old during the season.” Which is another way of saying he is 37 until 8/30th … At age 35, during the 2013 season Marlon Byrd had splits of .291/.336/.511 over 579 PA while posting an OPS+ OF 138. At age 36, during the 2014 season he had splits of .264/.312/.445 over 637 PA while posting an OPS+ OF 110. Now, he had a dreadful September last year. Was that caused by getting too many (637) PA, a minor injury, or by suddenly growing old? Who knows? However, I’m happy to roll the dice on 2015, at a cost of $ 4M and a second tier prospect, trying to get production similar to the last 2 years, or even last year’s production.

    Now I’d be happy to concede that there is some risk with Marlon Byrd, but I don’t see much risk in Bruce and Hamilton. In Hamilton’s case he needs to play every day, and it needs to be in MLB.

    As for Schumaker, you say that “apparently, for the third season in a row, the Reds are counting on a player coming off major shoulder surgery to fill an important role. Right now, Schumaker isn’t the Reds fifth OF, they seem to expect him to be the fourth.” Now I don’t follow the team as closely as you do Steve, but I hadn’t seen Price or Jocketty say that, or even imply that. We can argue whether Jason Bourgeois and his 549 PA in MLB with career splits of .258/.303/.324 is worthy. Or whether Brennan Boesch and his 1619 PA in MLB with career splits of .256/.309/.412 is worthy. Or whether Felix Perez with 3 straight years of solid production at AAA can make the next step. Yada, yada. However, I think that saying the Reds are relying on Skip Schumaker for an important role is a bit of a stretch.

    • Steve Mancuso

      You seem to be defending the starting roles for each of the outfielders. I have no quarrel with any of that. And that wasn’t the point of my post. Collectively, there are risks in terms of health and production with all three of them, particularly Byrd.

      My broad point was given the concerns related to those three players in total, shouldn’t the Reds have at least *one* healthy, MLB-proven OF on the roster? If the Reds *aren’t* relying on Skip Schumaker, that makes this situation even worse and harder to explain, not better.

      It seems like you’re saying the Reds can count on the three starters and don’t need a back-up OF, or if they do, TWO players out of a collection of injured, failed or unproven will step up. If you’re comfortable with that, then we just disagree.

      • earmbrister

        Steve, the point of your article, and my response thereto, wasn’t who should be starting. You state that the Reds have a “shaky starting outfield” and then denounce the lack of experienced major league backup outfielders on the roster. I don’t agree, at all, that the Reds have a shaky starting outfield and I responded to each of your criticisms of each of the starters.

        You state that “it starts with a center fielder who is 24 and hasn’t proven yet that he can hit at the major league level, let alone lead-off the lineup as he will be asked to do.” I responded with Billy Hamilton’s meteoric rise through the minors, and his 611 PA with a 2.5 WAR as a rookie. I’d add that he averaged 643 PA/yr for the preceding four seasons, so he’s hardly a health risk. He needs to play every day in MLB.

        With Bruce you complain that “the right fielder is coming off an all-time worst season that included knee surgery.” From 2010 thru 2013 he averaged 642 PA/yr while putting up an average of 3.4 WAR/yr. He’s been a model of consistency and health prior to this injury.

        And lastly, with Byrd you question whether the Reds could count on him at age 37/38. Over the past two seasons, Byrd averaged 608 PA/yr while putting up OPS+ numbers of 138 and 110. I believe that his signing was a good risk at a low cost, but I did concede that there was some heightened risk concerning Byrd’s, and Byrd’s alone, health and production. It’s not that rare for a team to have some question marks, even the mighty Cards do.

        The Cards have a 35 yr old starting LFr, and a RFr that has missed significant time in 2 of the last 4 yrs (in 2011 Heyward only had 456 PA due a degenerative lower back condition and shoulder problems). Both teams have gone cheap, young, and relatively inexperienced with their 4th and 5th outfielders:

        1619 PA in MLB: .256/.309/.412
        549 PA in MLB: .258/.303/.324
        1430 PA in MLB: .247/.304/.388
        116 PA in MLB: .245/.278/.400

        The first two backup outfielders are the Reds Brennan Boesch and Jason Bourgeois. The third and fourth outfielders listed are the Cards Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk. Both sets of reserve outfielders would have to be considered the favorites to go north with their clubs in April. Now the Reds could have gone with experience (1452 PA) in Heisey for $ 2.2M if they wanted 2013 and 2014 splits like .237/.279/.415 and .222/.265/.378 respectively. I’d prefer to risk going with a little less experience, for less $, looking for more production. In any case, Skip Schumaker, while I get his name is being used to provoke readers’ reactions, is probably going to start the season on the DL. The long term goal though is a temporary bridge to the collection of OF talent in the minors. Winker, YRod, Waldrop, Ervin, and Aquino are top 15 prospects who will be knocking on the door fairly soon.

        As an aside, Dayan Viciedo is not a fit for the Reds, or seemingly most other teams as he is still available. The 25 yr old OFr was released by the White Sox on 2/4. He’s got plenty of pop, and nothing else. He’s atrocious on defense, and with a listed weight of 240 lbs (at 5’11”) it’s not hard to understand why. He’s apparently looking for a lot of playing time and cash, neither of which the Reds have to offer. He’d be a better fit as a DH for an AL club.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Even if the Reds starting outfielders were rock-solid (proven, youngish and healthy) the team needs a major-league-proven outfielder for backup. I do expect Bruce to be fully recovered from his knee issue. The odds are against a player of Byrd’s age putting up a full season of steady production. My claim about Billy Hamilton was that he hadn’t proven himself as a major league hitter, let alone leadoff batter. You, once again, cite his *minor league* record (glossing over his AAA season). If Hamilton hits like he did for five of the six months of 2014, I’d like to see the Reds have a credible CF backup on the roster. They don’t.

        Your lack of understanding of exactly how inadequate the Reds options are right now is belied by your reference to Boesch and Bourgeois as “young” — the latter is 33, the former will turn 30 in April. I don’t think you appreciate how big of a drop off there is from the three starters to the next tier. I’m not defending Viciedo, my point was the Reds do still seem to be kicking tires on other outfielders (which is all I’m advocating) but as terrible as Viciedo is in the OF, he’s a Gold Glove compared to Boesch.

        To compare Boesch and Bourgeois to the Cardinals’ Randal Grichuk (23) and Peter Bourjos (27) is to prove my point. Both Grichuk and Bourjos held down a major league job last year for a division-championship team that was overloaded in outfield talent. None of the Reds players being discussed have held down a major league job in years. Both the St. Louis players are above average defensively (Bourjos played CF ahead of Mike Trout for the Angels). Grichuk is a top prospect.

        If the Reds had two players like that in camp, believe me, I wouldn’t be worried. This is obviously a matter of opinion. You’re comfortable with the Reds OF depth now. I wish they’d keep looking for at least one more major-league credible OF to be a backup.

      • earmbrister

        This IS obviously a matter of opinion, so I don’t get why you need to say that I have a “lack of understanding of exactly how inadequate the Reds options are right now”. Did you have a “lack of understanding” when you complained high and low that Walt screwed up by letting the Red Sox outbid him for Grady Sizemore? Yeah, we both have opinions so there is no need to be anything but civil.

        I consider a 29 or 30 year OFr to be in the prime of his athletic life, and certainly don’t consider a 33 yr old OFr to be aged. Boesch gives you offense and Bourgeois gives you defense and the ability to play CF and play it well. Boesch tore it up in AAA Salt Lake last year: .332/.381/.636, 25 HR, 85 RBI, 10 SB (much better #’s than Grichuk’s PCL #’s), while 30 year old Felix Perez had his best minor league season (preceded by 2 other solid seasons in AAA) in Louisville: 122 G, .280/.325/.450, 12 HR, 74 RBI, 0 SB. He then went on to tear up the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason (.360/.393/.572, 9 HR, 38 RBI in 222 ABs during the VWL regular season). I’d rather have guys like this fight for a spot on the bench then go the safe route by having an “experienced” Heisey give us the .222/.265/.378 he gave us last year for $ 2.2M.

        If Boesch/Bourgeois/Perez fail to give us at least .222/.265/.378, then by all means you can call me out at the end of the season. Till then, it’s just a matter of opinion and everyone’s got one.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I don’t really understand how you can defend giving two bench roles to two of Bourgeois, Boesch, and Perez. How is that acceptable for a winning team?

      Even if you think that all three starting outfielders are going to be productive, every team needs good bench bats to pinch hit and to protect against injuries. Those three do not qualify. Maybe you could take a flyer on Boesch based on his huge numbers at AAA last year, but you still need an established hitter ahead of him.

      Further, it seems pretty strange not to acknowledge that the Reds three starters do have more risk than many teams’ starters. Bruce IS coming off of an injury-plagued lost season. Hamilton DID put up a .648 OPS last year. Byrd IS pretty old, and HAS tested positive for PEDs already. I hope that they all do well, but clearly it would be nice if the Reds had at least one outfield starter that had a great year last year and didn’t have a lot of question marks.

      So the point seems clear. The Reds starters have some significant risk and they have no established talent on their roster as a backup plan.

      • jessecuster44

        It isn’t acceptable for a winning team, but it is acceptable for Walt/Bob. Bang.

      • earmbrister

        Jeremy — I defended giving two bench roles to Bourgeois, Boesch, and Perez etal by comparing the likely Reds backup outfielders to the Cards (and some of the risks of the Card’s starters), see above. The Cards are going with youth and inexperience as well.

        Regarding the Reds starters and your comments thereto …

        Bruce IS NOT coming of an “injury-plagued” lost season, he’s coming off of a lost season caused by one significant knee injury. He’s been a model of health, production, and consistency before this injury, and Steve promotes his Big Reds Preview with the caption “why we should just ignore Jay Bruce’s 2014 season when trying to project his 2015 numbers”.

        You’re right that Hamilton DID put up a .648 OPS last year, but could you find a less relevant stat for Hamilton than his OPS? The guy came into his rookie year with ONE year of experience in CF and immediately became one of the best CFrs in all of MLB. From the irrelevant stat dept you could add that Jay Bruce DID only have one sacrifice bunt last year.

        Now Byrd IS pretty old, but I’m not looking to go out on a date with him. He’s an acceptable risk given the cost, the length of the contract, and his last two years of production. Byrd is not the answer, Winker, Yrod, Waldrop, Ervin, and Aquino are the ultimate answers to both LF in 2016 and potentially RF in 2017 or 2018.

        The Reds OF starters have relatively low risk (particularly Hamilton and Bruce), and like many teams including the Cards, they are going with youth and low cost to ride the pine.

    • jdx19

      You seem to be implying that Billy’s 2.5 WAR in his 611 PA is somehow tied to his contributions at the plate. That’s not the case. Good fielding at a premium position, turns out, is quite valuable!

  12. Hotto4Votto

    Thanks…as if this snow wasn’t depressing enough.

    Ugh, it’s one of the things I’ve been commenting about all winter. Who backs up CF. I’m guessing it’s Bourgeois or Negron. My preference is Negron, even though I’d rather him back up Suarez at SS and Cozart traded off. I also said this offseason that Skip likely won’t be ready for opening day, and may be a candidate for the DL. I was told on here at the time that Skip’s surgery was on his non-throwing shoulder. I still thought it would effect his batting (I mean, even Skip swings with both arms right? not that the numbers would bear that out). But again, I was told that he wouldn’t be out very long, and in fact should be just about healed up by ST. I didn’t buy it then, I don’t buy it now.

    How about this for fun. What does this number sentence equate to: 15m + 4m + 16.5m + 5 = 40.5 (million)

    Oh, nothing but the amount of money we spent on Ludwick, Hannahan, Marshall, and Skip from 2013-2015. Great return on your invest there Uncle Walt.

    • Steve Mancuso

      If you’re looking for something upbeat to read while the snow falls tonight, try the season preview I wrote. It’s clear-eyed, but I promise it’s more optimistic than most any other serious analysis of the Reds. 142 pages of graphs, charts, links and analysis – plus some hot chocolate – what could be better at getting you through the next wave of winter.

  13. VaRedsFan

    Loved the article and agree 100%
    Line of the article:

    we’d have all been better off if the Jack in question was Daniels.

  14. ohiojimw

    Well put that trying the same thing again and again and again and expecting a different outcome is insanity. I would only add that expecting that somehow Heisey would have bean a better option, as several has suggested, is just a variation on the same theme. He was couldn’t win the LF job in a competition; he couldn’t hold it when it was his to lose; and his contributions were tailing off. As was said above, at under a million Heisey was worth it. At 2M plus not so much so. I also wonder as someone else has posed if there wasn’t an overtone of addition by subtraction in dumping Heisey. Perhaps the message was meant for his very close friend the underachieving SS Cozart, to rattle his cage and disrupt his comfort level.

  15. Eric Sullivan

    Heisey will not be missed he had his chance in 2013 and 2014 and failed?

    • Carl Sayre

      Lets see who ends up as bench players for the outfield before I am comfortable with “Heisey will not be missed”. His dismal BA was enough to not want him as an everyday player but his ability to play all 3 OF spots along with his knack for PH makes me scratch my head over that trade. I am of the same mind as a few others I think that trade was in anticipation of one that didn’t happen. IMO WJ will watch Saurez and Negron in spring training and then see if he can trade Cozart for a 4th outfielder.

      • vegastypo

        I just have a hard time believing that part about a future move that failed to materialize. Walt’s deafening silence for most of the last several seasons gives me little reason to think he had something else cooked up to replace Heisey. Schu is their fourth outfielder, and they wanted to pay less for a fifth outfielder.

  16. Steve Schoenbaechler

    It sounds like you’re saying the proverbial “Coulda, should, woulda after the fact”. Or, you are trying to say injuries make a difference. But, again, in fact, if every team was to make a move just because of an injury, you start talking about breaking the bank and robbing the cubbards. Not to mention, again, there is a whole lot more to consider than simply “finding a bat to replace Votto in 2014”. Who were we suppose to give up? To which team? Did they even want what we had to offer? Did we want what they were offering? Can we get together and dot the i’s and cross the t’s? Not to mention, if we try to do that everytime, we end up having no cubbards with a huge payroll.

    “By July 1, it had become apparent that Joey Votto would miss meaningful stretches of the 2014 season, if not the remainder of the year.” It was obvious to many well before that. I prefer to think of it like that and, essentially without Votto (he had only played in 58 of 82 games, not playing well, to July 1), we were still only 1.5 games out on July 12, as you stated, just having gone 8-5 from July 1-12 with Votto only playing 4 games, 3 which were losses. And, all of this coming from a team who at the beginning of the season weren’t thought by many if any to be able to do anything like what they were doing. Many were thinking that 2014 for us wouldn’t be as much a rebuilding season but a season where the Reds were going to concentrate on other things, like evaluating how Devin does as the regular catcher, evaluating Hamilton in CF, evaluating Price as manager, putting more resources into developing the minors, etc.

    Bottom line, the 2014 major league team, it was a team of extremes. Bottom line, first half, they overachieved. Do you put what few resources you have toward a team that is overachieving? What if they start underachieving, like they did? Then, any move we were to make wasn’t going to be good enough to pull the team out of their second half debacle. What if they kept overachieving? From July 1-12, we went from 7 back to 1.5 back. It would seem like to me if we kept overachieving, we would have been able to overtake them. If you consider the abysmal 1-run game record, I consider an absolute anomaly, if we just go 500 in those games, we are in the playoff hunt till the last week of the season.

    Personally, though many moves could have been made, I believe what Walt did was fine. Sure, I would have liked to see him be able to bring someone in. But, who? For how much? We didn’t have much to give; I believe we weren’t going to get much back. It may have made the team better for that season, but if it did, it would have made the club all that much worse for the future of the club. Our resources weren’t like before the 2012 season, when we had plenty of prospects to offer and, so, Walt went after Latos and Marshall (Latos I could understand; I never did understand the Marshall trade). But, in 2014, if we made a move, at best, it would have been 1-2 steps forward for that season, 2-4 steps backward for the seasons after that since, most likely, it would have taken some of our top prospects to bring that key player in here.

    Also, I think the other GM’s played it smart. For instance, Walt may have been shopping Homer around. But, the other teams were probably seeing that they could take a chance that Homer wouldn’t re-sign with the Reds (still wish the Reds didn’t do that), and, thus, go after Homer in FA. Then, they could still get Homer as well as still hold onto some of their high-valued players it would have cost to get Homer, all for simply staying patient for one more season.

    • Steve Mancuso

      This isn’t a post about the failure of the GM broadly as it is the over-reliance on players coming off shoulder surgery to contribute and questioning whether that is occurring again right now. It’s not like the Reds are the only team to face the dilemmas you outlined, yet they were the *only team* in baseball to not make a trade at the deadline in 2013.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Did anyone ask Walt if he was relying on Jack to carry us to the WS? Nope. Did anyone ask Walk if he was relying on Ludwick to produce like he did in 2012? Nope. They only asked if he was going to make trades for those positions. I believe Walt wasn’t relying on just those players to carry the team; that would be idiotic. I believe Walt was relying on what the entire team had, which was a lot more than just 2 players with shoulder injuries. He simply responded to questions about 2 positions that had 2 players with shoulder injuries, the same as if they were quad injuries, wrist injuries, etc. And, why not? As stated, we were doing pretty good before the collapse. Even if we had made a move, after the collapse, that move wouldn’t have saved us. And, the team wasn’t expected to even be in that position, going that good, all year long. Like I stated, they just went from 7 back to 1.5 back in less than 2 weeks. Who would think we couldn’t do it with what we had?

        The post was simply short-sighted on a topic that needed to consider many more items.

  17. Mark Miller

    Is there anyone who thinks Walt wouldn’t upgrade everywhere on the team if he had the financial resources?

    • jdx19

      In order to upgrade, you first must accept that an upgrade is needed. That’s where some folks (I’m assuming) are likely coming from. If Walt thought, just for arguments’s sake, that Jack Hannahan was an acceptable person in his assigned role, then he would not have seen a need for an upgrade and, thus, would not have upgraded given any amount of financial resource. Or something like that!