Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg, Brennan Boesch and Chris Dominguez, the expired medicine and old newspapers of their industry, were tossed to the curb by their clubs last year. Every one of the major league front offices strolled right by, passed them over for major league contracts. Then Walt Jocketty tip-toed back and signed all four to minor league deals this winter.

Hello … what’s this? Mmmm … washed-up pitchers, injury-prone veterans, a player cut by three clubs in two years, a former Cardinal! … hey, this other guy was a Cardinal, too, sorta … Let’s just quietly get these guys inside our clubhouse.

At the time of Jocketty’s curb-shopping spree, it was easy to consider the four players as nothing more than standard spring training and/or AAA roster depth. After all, major league teams that hope to compete for the division championship can’t be taken seriously by populating their 25-man rosters with four discards from other clubs. Certainly more moves were coming.

* * * * * * *

Jason Marquis (36) has a career ERA of 4.65 and hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2013, when his FIP was 5.65. In 117.2 innings, he struck out only 72 batters, and walked 68. Marquis has had Tommy John surgery and an oblique injury since then. He was released by the Phillies after pitching poorly for their AAA team last year.

Kevin Gregg (36) missed almost all of 2014 due to shoulder surgery. Shoulder surgery. He had one of those too-good-to-be-true half-seasons for the Cubs in 2013. Being clever now, they knew it and tried like crazy to trade him at the deadline and found not a single taker. Gregg predictably imploded in the second half. Like Marquis, he’s never been much more than a mediocre pitcher.

Brennan Boesch (turns 30 on April 12) has been released by three teams — the Tigers, Yankees and Angels — who have seen him perform the past two years against major league pitching. He wasn’t kept on their benches, he was cut completely loose. The Tigers left him off their 2012 postseason roster. For the Yankees, 11.9 percent of his hits were line drives (for context, that’s worse than every one of the Reds’ starting pitchers last year.) Boesch hit .187/.203/.293 for the LA Angels in two 2014 stints. He’s been a lousy outfielder. And Boesch has fought shoulder issues. Shoulder issues.

Chris Dominguez (28) was released by San Francisco after working his way through their farm system, earning just 18 plate appearances for the Giants. He’s a former Cardinal – a member of the University of Louisville Cardinals college team. As a professional, Dominguez had a high strikeout rate and low walk rate. This spring he has walked one time in 55 appearances.

These players may have had strong Spring Training performances. But it’s just bad decision making to allow a few unrepresentative innings pitched or at bats to trump a clear career arc. Is it possible that one or more of these players sustains their Spring Training production? Sure (and I’ll be cheering for it) but the odds are tall-stacked against it.

* * * * * * *

The Reds announced today that all four minor league signings – Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg, Brennan Boesch and Chris Dominguez – have made the Reds 25-man major league roster.

* * * * * * *

What to make of these roster moves?

A cynic might say that the players aren’t really the best options for the Reds, but putting them on the 25-man roster papers over what was another awful offseason for the Reds.

Club narrative: Hey, the offseason moves were great after all they made the major league roster! Who needs real major league players when these old wire hangers are right here on the curb? Not Walt Jocketty.

Translation: When signing Kevin Gregg to a minor league deal is one of your “big” offseason moves, it better be one of your big offseason moves.

Clarification: The ‘C’ in CYA doesn’t stand for Cincinnati.

* * * * * * *

Does the alternative explanation for the roster choices – that these four players are actually the best suited in the organization – make Jocketty look any better?

If Jason Marquis is the fourth or fifth best starting pitcher in the organization (let alone one of the top ten) what does it say about the organization’s starting pitchers? If Kevin Gregg is the best candidate for the bullpen, what does it say about the club’s relievers? And so on.

The idea that four minor-league contract signees can make the team based on merit speaks in amplified volume about the failure to stock the organization with players more likely to be successful.

* * * * * * *

We don’t know if Walt Jocketty reads the local papers or the beat writers’ columns. If he does, Jocketty would have seen this valuable advice last winter:

“We have to do something different offensively. We need to get more guys on base to put us in a better position to score runs. Our runners on base were down quite a bit this year.”

And this:

“We have a lot of strikeout guys right now. Ideally find someone who strikes out less and gets on base more.”

We can be pretty sure that Jocketty did see that advice. Or at least he heard those statements as they were coming out of his own mouth. We need to get more guys on base. Too many strikeout guys right now. Strikes out less and gets on base more.

We have to do something different offensively.

We have to do something different offensively.

We have to do something different offensively.

And those statements are how we know that the most recent offseason was a failure, by any criteria other than budget cutting.

The Reds needed to find a starting left-fielder with an above-average on-base percentage, one who could bat lead-off if Billy Hamilton’s struggles continued at the plate. Instead, Jocketty traded for Marlon Byrd. Jocketty had said the Reds “have a lot of strikeout guys right now” and the team needs to find “someone who strikes out less.” But Marlon Byrd had the third highest strikeout rate in the National League. Jocketty said “we need to get more guys on base” and instead acquired a player whose OBP was a below-average .312 and declining.

Further, in choosing Boesch and Dominguez for the bench, Jocketty added two players with teeny-tiny walk rates. The Reds will extol their great spring training performances without mentioning the players walked twice (total) in 114 plate appearances. You can say that players in Spring Training are inclined to hit away, to show what they can do. But for smart organizations, command of the strike zone is a vital skill to demonstrate. To the Reds, it’s apparently irrelevant. And it’s an attribute even more important for bench players — you want pinch hitters to turn the lineup over for your regulars.

Easy rhetoric by the GM aside, the Reds front office once again has shown they either won’t or can’t figure out how to assemble an effective offense based on modern thinking.

Jocketty went shopping with a clear list, one that he wrote himself. And he ended up buying exactly the opposite.

When was the last time the St. Louis Cardinals failed to acquire exactly what they needed? Can you recall them ever saying they needed one kind of thing and acquiring the reverse? Does St. Louis shop in the basement bins, second-hand stores or curbsides for 16 percent of their Opening Day roster?

* * * * * * *

It may not always seem like it, but I’m one of the few remaining optimists about the Reds 2015 season. I’ll explain my reasons for that Monday morning. But I’ll give you a hint: The Reds success this year won’t be due to the moves by Walt Jocketty the past couple years. It will be in spite of them.

I’ve never owned a baseball team, but my guess is that I wouldn’t want my general manager to be a lousy shopper.

164 Responses

  1. Davis Stuns Goliath

    Leaving the park in Goodyear on Monday, I walked by a fancy car parked in front of a sign that said “Reserved for Reds General Manager.” I nearly wrote a note and placed it under the wipers that said, “Please retire and hire Steve Mancuso,” but I worried that you or RLN might face some repercussions.

    So I slashed his tires and keyed his doors instead.

    Kidding, of course. Still, the joke’s on us for having the real-life equivalent of the roster from “Major League” or the island of misfit toys.

    • Pooter

      Was Walt asleep in the car when you passed by? Maybe you could have woken him up.

  2. JMO

    I really like the Boesch and Dominguez signings. Could be lightning in a bottle. I am fine with Gregg making it as well. Saved over 30 games in 2013. Wait and see on him. On Marquis, let’s see what he’s got. LeCure should have made it,but stashing in AAA is cool with me.

    • Marvin

      Individually, I would be OK with those fliers. However, as Steve mentioned in the article, the fact that they make up 16% of the roster is worrisome.

    • jdx19

      “Could be lightning in a bottle.” Sure. Could be. Maybe, what… 2% chance those guys provide meaningful offense? Trying to put a team together with guys that every other major league club didn’t want is not a way to compete in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball.

    • Jeremy Conley

      Saves are absolutely the worst way to measure a pitcher’s success. You have absolutely no idea how many of those saves were of the 3-run variety, or what part of the batting order he was facing. Most minor league pitchers could earn a major league save given a 3 run lead and the bottom of the order.

      What we know for sure is that in 2013, he only got 1.75 strikeouts per walk. Last year that would have placed him 126th out of 142 qualified relievers, in the neighborhood of guys like Jared Burton (just cut by the Yankees) and Ross Detwiler.

      Then in 2014 that number dipped to 1.20, which would have tied him for 141st out of 142. It is basically impossible to to be successful when you are walking nearly as many guys as you are striking out. The other side of that list, the guys that strikeout way more guys than they walk, is basically a who’s who of good relievers.

    • Redsfan48

      Boesch is the only one of these players I see making a good contribution this year.

    • lwblogger2

      Sorry, but I think we’ll see that Gregg and Marquis are both huge mistakes. Both walk too many batters and neither miss enough bats to make up for it. Walks are tough for any pitcher but are worse for pitchers who don’t miss bats and who are pitching in HR-friendly GABP.

      The jury is out for me on Boesch and Dominguez. I think Boesch has gotten the short end from Steve M some but Steve has valid points about his defense, his lack of BB, and the fact that yes, he has been cut.

  3. Pooter

    All I can say is preach: You speak truth, Steve. I will be rooting for the Reds but I have predicted a 72 win season. And that’s best case scrap scenario. I’m very frustrated with the off season moves. Very disappointed…

  4. jdx19

    Good write-up, Steve.

    As I was reading the quotes I thought “Who said that?” Jocketty. The exact opposite. Maybe he has an alter-ego that is around when the press is there.

    We need more OBP guys and less strikeout guys… You mentioned Byrd’s woes in the BB/K department, and I mentioned in a different post, but if you average Dominguez’s last 2 years in AAA and use those rate stats to calculate BB/K ratio, he’d have been third worst last year right behind Byrd in all of the MLB. It’s epidemic.

    • Steve Mancuso

      The Reds simply don’t care as an organization if their hitters exercise plate discipline. In the abstract they would say they do. But in practice, when push comes to even the slightest shove, they abandon that in search of power, stolen bases, grit, anything. What lesson do they send in signing and promoting Boesch and Dominguez? They’re saying just come here and swing away. You could go without walking EVER and we don’t care. They just don’t value the talent of swinging at only balls over the plate. If it wasn’t for Votto’s OBP, the Reds team number would be a joke.

      I’ve been trying to make this point. Every club wants OBP. That makes it relatively expensive to acquire. That expense doesn’t mean the Reds shouldn’t still pay it. It means they have to reprioritize so they can afford it. Until they do that, the offense will continue to struggle.

      • jdx19

        Couldn’t agree more. OBP is a commodity that is at a high value right now. Reds FO doesn’t buy into it and thinks their own market inefficiency is attempting to lead the league in the proverbial “grit” you mention!

        Looking at ZiPs, our 2nd highest OBP guy (Meso) will be around .322ish. The 2nd best OBP guy for the rest of the NLC, in the order of STL, PIT, CHI, MIL: .363/.340/.358/.347. Wildness!

      • Steve Mancuso

        The Cardinals get it. They’re smart. Pirates (with less money) are smart, too. Cubs with Theo will get there. They had the same needs as the Reds this offseason – a one-year rental to play OF and they got Dexter Fowler with a career OBP of .366 and he’s leading off for them. The Reds under this management will eventually get left behind if they don’t figure it out.

  5. Mark Tokarski

    Perhaps overspending on Votto and Phillips has something to do with this. They don’t have the money to sink into the bench.

    • jdx19

      Votto isn’t making “big” money until next year. And the notion that he is “overpaid” is pretty bogus, too, unless he keeps getting injured and playing in 70 games a year. If he’s healthy, he’s worth the money. 4-5 WAR is worth more than he’s getting paid on the open market.

  6. jdx19

    Submitted for fun: The D-Backs opening day catcher is Tuffy Gosewisch. In 179 MLB PAs, he’s amassed a line of .213/.225/.287 for a wRC+ of 33. Within that time, he walked thrice and struck out 32 times.

    • Pooter

      When he’s cut, we’ll scoop him up. Let’s send down Mez to make room. BP can give him some hitting advice. Don’t worry about those nerds

  7. Jeff

    Steve, I hope you can give me some hope on Monday, because at this point, I don’t have any for the season. I can not believe that Kevin Gregg and Jason Marquis are on this team. I mean these guys weren’t good 3 years ago. They are almost as old as I am, have the Reds never even heard of the aging curve? They don’t sign players like they have.

    I want to know what the record for strikeouts by an outfield are, because I would bet money that this outfield will break it. I think they have a good chance at striking out 500 times, unless Byrd gets hurt and someone less prolific in striking out starts playing.

  8. seat101

    Wow!

    Considering the financial constraints, just what could he realistically done differently other than to trade Cueto, Leake, Bailey, and/or Chapman???

    You can gripe about the Votto/Phillips/Ludwick contracts all you want. It doesn’t change the fact that WJ’s hands were tied.

    I am not a troll. Seriously, what did you expect him to do?

    • Steve Mancuso

      I wrote 20,000 words on what he should do in the offseason. Several other players in trade or free agent market. We don’t know how tied his hands really were. Only what he says. See, the test isn’t whether I can come up with something better – because I’m not a GM and privy to information. It’s whether Walt Jocketty can come up with clever paths to smart acquisitions, something he hasn’t done since the Shin-Soo Choo trade. That’s a long time to go without moving the needle. Two full seasons. Effective GMs figure out trades that work with other teams and their own owners.

      Yes, the owner has undoubtedly made Jocketty’s job more difficult. And that needs to be said. But that doesn’t exonerate Jocketty for basically doing nothing constructive the past two years. Maybe trading for DeSclafani will prove positive and we’ll see about Iglesias.

      • Jay King

        Sorry have to stop and post this after reading your first few sentences. I think he did a pretty darn good job with the Trade dealing Simon to Detroit. Was not as thrilled with the Latos deal though.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I think you might need to review the offseason a little more. For starters, take a look at the number of outfielders with better OBP than Byrd were traded. I’ve posted that list too many times to do it again, but they’re out there. All Walt had to do was trade for one of them instead of Byrd and that would have been a step in the direction that he himself said he wanted to go in.

      The Reds farm system has a lot of prospects, it would have been easy. If you aren’t willing to make those trades, then you might as well start rebuilding and trade for more prospects.

      The point of Steve’s very good article is that trying to contend with guys of the scrap heap basically never works.

      • Jay King

        Really…. Nobody thought the 90 Reds were going to even make the playoffs.. It can happen its just not likely… Give the team a chance… time will tell if in June we are sucking it up then dump the roster and get a ton of new blood in to work with.

      • Jeremy Conley

        I just don’t get it Jay. No one isn’t giving the Reds a chance. There’s a big difference between saying the Reds are totally screwed, and saying that on paper it isn’t a good thing when you bring 4 castoffs onto your 25 man roster. I agree, anything can happen in the season, but this is a baseball analysis blog where we talk about the Reds. Analyzing their roster moves is something we like to do.

        Just because someone critiques something about the team doesn’t mean they are saying we aren’t going to make the playoffs.

        And the 90 Reds team didn’t have a bunch of castoffs from other teams anyway, so its a terrible comp.

      • Vicferrari

        Not the best argument to use the 1990 team, only one starter had an OBP below .327 and that was Oliver who primarily batted 8 and still had an OBP of .304 and his back up was at .340. Oliver would have been pushing for 4th on last year’s club. The lack of pursuit in OBP is mind-boggling with all the data and it is down-right bizarre they condone BP spewing his non-sense and Marty…..

      • greenmtred

        Hard to disagree that the off-season was disappointing–certainly in the sense that it provided little fuel for the hot stove–and hard to disagree that the player acquisitions look, on paper, underwhelming. But trading for better guys would have required trading some of our good guys, so it would not automatically result in a net gain. It was suggested here, months ago, that the Reds should trade some of their surplus pitching. They did, and now we’re worried about the state of the pitching staff.

    • Chris Miller

      Had Walt not decided to wait until most of the deals were made, he had great opportunities with both the Marlins and the Padres to change the cast of characters. The Padres would have loved Jay Bruce. The Reds could have probably got Tyson Ross in a deal. Meanwhile, Cueto was ripe for being dealt to the Marlins, for good young talent. We could come up with possibilities all day long, as many did, but at the end of the day, as Steve mentioned, it’s up to Walt to figure that stuff out.

      • Bill Lack

        I can see the idea of trading Cueto (and I’d add Chapman for his trade value vs real value), but why would you want to trade Bruce when he a) is coming off a terrible year so his value is low and b) when his salary is reasonable?

    • earmbrister

      Guess I’m a troll too. The Reds went sideways with their payroll this year and last, after increasing the payroll substantially over several years.

      The payroll situation will be most likely alleviated with the trading of Cueto, and perhaps Leake. The rotation will soon be filled with names like Lorenzen, Stephenson, Iglesias, and Disco. Winker will be in LF next year at league minimum. Aquino or Waldrop will probably be taking over for Bruce in 2018, but Bruce is fairly affordable in the meantime.

      WJ can’t spend money that he doesn’t have. Fowler, mentioned above, cost $ 9.5 M for his one year rental; WJ spent $ 4 M on Bryd. Yeah, Fowler is all about the OBP, but not much else. Cub fans should close their eyes when he’s fielding; he apparently does. And he had 8 HR in 505 PA last year.

      Walt made do, settled if you will, because he has Winker waiting in the wings. Winker will give you Fowler like OBP, as well as a higher BA, and more power. And he will be paid league minimum when he comes up.

      Some here lament the trading of Heisey, but he was awful at the plate the last two years. Let the Dodgers pay him $ 2.2 M; he ain’t worth it. I’ll take Boesch, who will outhit Heisey, and at a discount.

      I won’t lament overspending on washed up veterans like the Reds have tried in the past. Give me Negron, Boesch, and Dominguez and keep your Heisey, Hannahan, Izturis, and Wilson Valdez. Why overspend, when the ceiling on a player is mediocrity?

      Steve, you complain that you’ve “never owned a baseball team, but (your) guess is that (you) wouldn’t want (your) general manager to be a lousy shopper”, without any regard to his budget. Walt is shopping in the bargain bin, because Bob has tightened the purse strings somewhat. You can blame Walt for that, you blame him for just about everything, or you can let it play out. I’m sure you were a big supporter of the move to pick up Alfredo Simon off the scrap heap, and send Frazier to the minors to start 2012. That played out quite nicely, and 3 years later we have Crawford and Suarez to show for that curb shopping, as well as the 3 years of good pitching Simon gave the Reds.

      I’m a glass half full guy: I’m looking forward to Boesch etal. These guys are a mere bridge to the wealth of talent in the upper minors amongst the pitchers and outfielders.

      • Jay King

        Finally someone who sees the big picture… Thank you for your excellent posting and insight.

      • hermanbates

        Why not Lutz over Boesch? What makes Dominguez better than Soto? Why Marquis or Gregg when Lorenzen threw so well? If you’re talking cheap upside, then your argument falls short because there are guys in the organization that offer both more upside for a cheaper price. Soto is gone, but he wasn’t all spring. Plus, Suarez did not even make the roster, but he’s projected to be as valuable as Cozart over a full season.

        I likewise like Simon story, it was savvy, it worked out great and that’s wonderful. And also, Walt hit on older players like Rolen, Orlando Cabrera, Ryan Ludwick for one season. Walt has usually gotten the last little bit of baseball left out of those guys, and he could do the same with Byrd. If there’s one thing I can give Walt credit for, it is his ability in getting the last bit of usefulness in those players. But, as the Reds GM, he’s never constructed a bench worthwhile. And that has always been an issue. Boesch has no upside left. Dominguez might run into some baseballs but not primarily as a pinch-hitter. I won’t say anything about the pitchers yet because Bryan Price has gotten things out of Simon, Parra, Ondrusek for a little bit, Jumbo Diaz…I trust Price with pitchers, so I’ll wait and see with Gregg and Marquis. I just had a problem with the “cheaper upside over washed up vet” argument. Lutz, Suarez, Yorman Rodriguez, Negron would have been younger and better upside than Skip, Boesch, Dominguez and Negron.

      • earmbrister

        Why not Lutz over Boesch? Boesch has had some success in MLB, while Lutz really hasn’t. Boesch is a slightly better OFr than Lutz, who is more a first base, LF guy. And Boesch came back from a couple of injuries to absolutely destroy AAA pitching last year: .332/.381/.636/1.017

        What makes Dominguez better than Soto? He gives you a bit more position flex (OF) than Soto, though both are similar players at the plate – they lack plate discipline. Soto was in AAA since late 2011, and like Felix Perez had good AAA results over a few years. The Reds obviously didn’t think Soto’s and Perez’s skills translated to MLB.

        Suarez could very well be the replacement for Cozart, and as such, Suarez needs to play every day in AAA (not ride the pine). If Cozart doesn’t have a bounce back year at the plate, his great defensive skills may no longer justify his increasing salary ($ 2.4M this year, $ ? in ’16). It’s quite likely that Suarez will be the opening day 2016 SS.

        Lorenzen has two issues. One, his innings limited this year. Two, the Reds didn’t want to start his team control clock by having him on the opening day roster. If he continues pitching like he has, he’ll be in MLB this year and an MLB starting pitcher from day one next year.

        YRod is a top prospect, and like Suarez he needs to play every day. YRod, Waldrop, and Winker should not be candidates for sitting on the bench 5 or so days a week.

        I agree that I have faith in Price and his ability to get the most out of suspect pitchers. Time will tell with Marquis and Gregg. Marquis could over-perform as a # 5 starter, but the Reds have options to replace him if he fails. The 2014 bullpen was poor with the exception of Chapman; I’ll withhold judgement until Gregg has some appearances under his belt. Could he be any worse than a 39 yr old Randy Choate, whose back in the Cards’ pen?

      • Jeremy Conley

        The Reds have the highest budget in the division. Crying poor doesn’t make sense anymore. When you don’t have money because you’ve spend it all poorly, that doesn’t count as being poor.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Actually, poor is poor whether you wasted the money or not. I’d rather concentrate on the future, when the present and past provide no happiness but only bitterness.

      • Vicferrari

        Fans being fans and having no control over any preferences, have every right to complain over poorly managed contracts. I do not have a magic number buts it is foolish to pay Homer Bailey Verlander money and it is foolish to pay for big money for past performance for borderline All-star gold glovers on the decline. Votto’s deal is looking bad but at least it was logical although not working out, just like Verlander is not working out but at least they get Kate Upton to show up to their games. I rather concentrate on adverting from poor strategies than just picking some playing like Zobrist to target since I have no say so.

      • Matt WI

        You make some valid points about why Walt got some bridge guys… but as the Winkers of the world come up, the Reds lose Johnny freaking Cueto, already lost Mat Latos, and some of the strong pitching that is required to be a real contender… so they wait to get strong in one area, only to weaken in another. Net gain, zero, unless they are really, really, lucky with the young pitching. All the while, the rest of the team gets older, and likely not for the better. So why not augment the upcoming talent with more of the same? Do that by being realistic with what the team has now and start working some deals. Spending the most money in the division to likely produce the fewest wins is just silly.

        So I think you’re right… getting Fowler wasn’t realistic, but why not just really admit it’s going nowhere and get the most value out of the current assets and be ready when adding the Fowler’s of the world can actually make a difference.

      • charlottencredsfan

        +1

        Hard to swallow but absolutely the right thing to do. 2017 should be the realistic target and all guns should be aimed there. Every move the Reds make; they should ask themselves, “how will this effect the 2017 club”. Otherwise it will be 2018 and beyond. Cash in on what you can now: Cueto, Leake, Chapman, etc. as they won’t be here in ’17 anyway. Then fill in holes with free agents, etc. and the money should be there. Hate to say but the Cubs current model.

        If the guys/gals at RLN could you see a clear plan, I think they would be buyers soon enough.

      • earmbrister

        WI — I’m not convinced that the Reds weren’t going to be buyers at the trade deadline last year, until injuries deep sixed their season. Since then the sale has begun. Broxton was moved last season, and then 2 of their 5 starters in Latos and Simon last December, as well as Heisey. I think that they would’ve have moved Cueto if they had gotten a decent offer, but he’ll probably be gone by July, unless a small miracle happens.

        The small miracle won’t be him being re-signed; that would be divine intervention. The small miracle would be that the 2015 rosters clicks, and they are in a strong position for the playoffs (cause the playoffs are like a lottery, and if you’re in them you can win them). Yeah, stranger things have happened, like the 2006 freakin’ Cardinals winning the WS. They had no business even making the playoffs, but they got on a roll and won it all. That said, Cueto should provide a nice return in July when another team needs an ace to lead their rotation into the playoffs. Chapman and Leake may be following him out the door.

        The Reds 2016 rotation will probably be Bailey, Desclafani, Lorenzen, Stephenson, and Iglesias. It’s a promising rotation, and one that should be around for a number of years. Cingrani may be taking over for Chapman. What will the sale of Cueto, Chapman, and Leake provide in the way of prospects? A 3B to take over for Frazier in ’17? A stud starting prospect, an established reliever, or a 2B to kick BP to the curb?

        I like how this team will look in a couple of years. Walt is probably on the same wavelength as you, me, and Charlotte NC in that he is remaking the roster, but he ain’t going to publish his blueprint in the newspaper.

    • jessecuster44

      What an absolute load of hogwash. Walt’s hands were tied? What financial constraints? Bob C has shown little remorse in spending money over the past four seasons, and now that the All-Star Game is here, what makes you think he’d tighten the purse strings? The Reds unloaded salary in December, but instead of getting young talent, they got has beens. That’s not being financially constrained, that’s just bad decision making.

      There were better options than Byrd out there. There are better options than Marquis in the Reds farm system.

      Walt/Bob are both dinosaurs who cannot/choose not to understand how modern baseball works.

      And Walt’s essentially a liar. Can’t wait until he leaves town.

      • earmbrister

        You ask “What financial constraints?”, and then two sentences later you answer yourself: “The Reds unloaded salary in December …”

        Yes, the Reds unloaded salary in December because they needed to. I don’t understand the second half of that same comment ” but instead of getting young talent, they got has beens.” The Reds traded two starting pitchers that were getting pricey for four talented and young prospects. They traded Alfredo Simon at perhaps the peak of his value (his stats last year weren’t supported by his peripherals) for Jonathan Crawford and Eugenio Suarez. They traded Mat Latos for Anthony DeSclafani (starting for us this year) and Chad Wallach. These two trades dumped salary and restocked our farm system. It was a job well done.

        Maybe you’re referring to trading the great Chris Heisey for Matt Magill. Magill might prove to suck, but he’s hardly a has been, he’s 25 yrs old. Heisey is the has been at age 30, with splits like these the last 2 years:

        2013: .237/.279/.415
        2014: .222/.265/.378

        We did give up the great Ben Lively for Marlon Byrd. Lively had a 3.88 ERA in AA last year with a 1.333 WHIP. He’s such a prospect that he pitched a grand total of 0.00 IP for the Phillies in ST this year. We’ll miss production like that.

        As for the liar accusation …

        Really?

      • jessecuster44

        Walt LIED. “We need to get on base more, so that’s who we’ll target.” They got Byrd, who is about as far away from a strong OBP player as you can get.

        Say one thing, do another. A Hallmark of Walt over the past 3 years. I’m sick of it.

        Regarding the financial constraints – the Reds freed up some salary, but only to get players who won’t help the offense this year, and then Byrd – who if the Reds are smart, will contribute only until they pull him for WInker. Not what Walt said way back in November. I’m sick of Walt and his dualities. There were plenty of players out there for Walt to acquire, and he didn’t get the job done.

        The last three seasons have been a colossal failure when examining the unrealized potential of this team, and Walt Jocketty’s inability or unwillingness to improve the offense played a major role. Now 2015 is basically going to be a wasted season.

  9. David Potteiger

    It’s easy to say that the “Reds didn’t do [blank].” You can say the Reds didn’t acquire Scherzer or the Reds didn’t trade for Jose Abreu, and you’d be right. The Reds didn’t do those things. The Reds didn’t acquire a player with a traditionally high OBP (which is a pretty overrated statistic, but whatever). Those are facts, and they are not in dispute. The problem I have with this piece is that those facts are then used as a basis to criticize Jocketty.

    Sometimes I go to the store to get strawberries, but when I get there sometimes they are picked over and aren’t worth the money. Sometimes they are sold out. Sometimes, I bring home grapes instead. Sometimes I don’t buy anything.

    Bottom line, you don’t know who Jocketty tried to acquire. You don’t know what deals he tried to make but couldn’t because the other GM didn’t want to deal or the player didn’t want to sign. So let’s assume that even though Jocketty went to the store for strawberries, all he could get were grapes.

    You’re focus is on guys who weren’t in camp. What about the guys who were?

    You criticize Marquis. If the plan is to pitch a couple games until Bailey is back, why waste Lorenzen’s options? Who would be better both in the short and long term?

    You criticize Dominguez but he can play both corner infield and outfield spots. What player in camp had that ability? Who’d be better?

    You criticize Boesch but he can play all three outfield spots. Who would you prefer there?

    You criticize Gregg, would you prefer LeCure? Lorenzen? Who’s to say that LeCure won’t be back up once he gets his velocity and command are back?

    You offer complaints but no solutions, so I ask you, what would you do?

    • Steve Mancuso

      I wrote a series of articles in the offseason that listed realistic (for the most part) trades and free agent options for the Reds. You’re right we don’t know what other deals Jocketty had presented to him. We only know the bottom line of what he accomplished – virtually nothing. Other GMs (Cardinals, Cubs etc.) don’t seem to have trouble making deals. Just the Reds. Lots of excuses. You set up that hypothetical where there were no good strawberries. You set it up to fail. That wasn’t likely the real world.

      One of the major points of my post was that IF those were the best players in camp, that’s a huge indictment of the talent pool in camp. I’d have no real trouble with Marquis if he’s just there for one start to replace Bailey. That’s not what the Reds have been saying though. Kris Negron can play all the infield and outfield spots. Ivan De Jesus can play 2B and 3B. Boesch is a terrible outfielder. The idea that he can play CF just because the Reds put him out there this spring is a fantasy. Check his defensive record in all the OF spots. I’d prefer about 1000 pitchers ahead of Kevin Gregg. LeCure, for sure.

      I wrote 20,000 words about getting the offseason right, so you can stop with the “all complaints no solutions” line.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I should have stopped reading when you said OBP was overrated. Yep, not making outs is hugely overrated. You know the stat that is way underrated? Outs. I want to see my guys making LOTS of outs.

      The Reds and the Padres had the two lowest OBPs last year and guess what, they two of only three teams that failed to score 600 runs (the other was the Braves, who were 24th in OBP).

      I feel like with the crazy, truly immense, mind-boggling amount of information showing that getting on base is one of if not the most important factors to scoring runs, if you don’t get that now, you should probably just leave the issue alone. It’s not for you. You are willfully ignoring facts. That’s your right, but there’s not much point in trying to convince other people to join you.

      • David Potteiger

        You think I said OBP is overrated because I don’t understand that getting on base is better than not getting on base? The reason I said OBP is overrated is because it is antiquated.

        OBP weighs both HRs and BBs exactly the same. It should be patently obvious why such a metric is flawwed.

        If Walt Jocketty traded for Casey McGhee, you’d probably do cartwheels. After all, he had an OBP of .355 in 691 PAs – 33rd best in MLB. Yet, he had exactly 34 extra base hits (4HRs, 29 2Bs and 1 3B) as compared to 143 singles and 67 walks. His ISO was .070. His wOBA was .319, and his wRC+ was 102 meaning that he was barely better than average.

        By comparison, Nelson Cruz had a .333 OBP in 678 PAs. That ranked 68th in baseball. Yet his wOBA was .370 because he had a 74 extra base hits, including 40 HRs, which led MLB. His ISO was .254 and his wRC+ was 137! He had a 4.1 oWAR.

        One of these players was an exceptional hitter and one was a very, very mediocre.

        So, you can call me out and criticize me like I’m completely ignorant because you watched Moneyball and they talked a lot about OBP. But the fact of the matter is that in 3 minutes I not only showed you that 1) I’m not ignorant, but 2) OBP is overrated.

      • Carl Sayre

        Lets think about OBP for a second great RBI guys happen because……………uh wait because there was someone on base in front of them. The guy who scores runs that is one of those magic numbers people love but wait he scored from the dugout didn’t he. I will stop with the smart %ss comments but the truly great hitters have a very good to great OBP that may seem self evident. The point that gets lost is and the reason I get on my soap box is HITTERS hit strikes while batters swing at pitches out of the zone. This is a problem that must be organization wide because with the exception of JV the entire team lacks plate discipline.

      • davidmp2

        Consider my example above. McGhee comes up with a .355 OBP. What do you know? 35.5% of the time he gets on base. What else? 87.1% of the time he gets on base, he’s handing his batting gloves to his 1st base coach. Only 0.05% of his PAs resulted in a HR. His scoring is almost entirely dependent upon the other guys in the lineup. To make matters worse, it is more likely than not that two hitters will have to get a hit behind him in order to plate the run. This type of station by station approach is incredibly inefficient across an entire lineup.

        There is no more efficient way to score than by hitting a HR. It’s why of the top 10 players in wRC+, 9 were also in the top 10 in SLG% and 7 were in the top 10 in ISO.

        The percentage of time you are on base matters less to scoring than the number of bases you take per PA.

    • jessecuster44

      How about seven contract years of Joc Peterson or Mookie Betts for one more year of Johnny Cueto. For starters.

    • jdx19

      OBP is overrated? Stopped reading right there.

      Go look for the teams with the highest OBPs over the last few years. Then look at the teams with the most runs scored. They are the same teams. It’s pretty simple. There is really nothing more simple. Get on base. Win.

      • Matt WI

        Well, sure, having a guy hit it out of the park every time would be fantastic, but not everybody can do that. Your example values power over not making outs. Of course the guy who can hit for power and be on base a lot is great. OPS is a great measure of great players. But while not every player can hit for power, everybody can take a walk instead of flail at the outside pitch.

        I feel that the idea of “handing one’s gloves to the first base coach” as being overrated falls short. Yes, it’s not as productive as HR, but in the scheme of things, the guy who doesn’t make an out is contributing more than the guy who consistently does… with only 27 outs to give, I’d rather the team of a bunch of guys who consistently get to whatever base possible than not get on base at all… not guys who stop the lineup from moving forward. The math will work out from there in terms of scoring runs. In a one time vacuum, HR always trumps a single… but in the long haul of a long season, getting on base matters A LOT.

        Even in your example, I’d love for the Reds to add a .355 OBP guy who might be standing on first base instead of even someone like Billy or Zack, who can’t get on at a .300 level most of the time. I’d guarantee they end up scoring more runs over the course of a season if they added two more guys who got on at a .340 clip or better.

      • David Potteiger

        I didn’t say that not making an out is better than making an out. I said OBP, as a stat, is overrated and antiquated because it doesn’t correlate to runs as well as other measures. Being on base is not the point. Scoring is the point. Being on base increases your odds of scoring, but being on second base increases your odds more than being on first base. In other words, scoring more efficiently is better than scoring less efficiently, and the notion that some people here have of OBP is some end all be all annoys me. OBP is only slightly better than AVG in measuring a hitter’s ability. Yet, people talk about it like it is some advanced metric.

      • Matt WI

        I can’t say I know this for sure, but I’m fairly certain that OBP actually correlates the highest with team scoring than any other given measure.

      • Matt WI

        And again, I think all acknowledge that a combo of power and obp is the best. By all means, a team of Giancarlo Stanton’s to go please! Given that is very expensive, the Reds can best allocate the funds not going toward big-poppers by spending on guys who do get on base. Nobody says ignoring slugging is a good idea… but again, power isn’t something that everybody can bring to the table. If choosing to spend $2mil on a two tool guy that gets on a .292 or .330, you take the .330 and go.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Just looked at Fangraphs and it is all over the place, as far as, Ave., OBP, SLG, OPS. WAR is probably the most consistent, as an indicator, but it is very surprising to see that there are many ways to skin the cat. As I can say, baseball is very complicated and even the best advanced stats can not tell the story. I thought OPS would be the telling stat but no.

        Obviously not cut-and-dry, in how you score the runs just that you do. I love baseball!

      • Matt WI

        That’s true Charlotte… and K.C. and San Fran defy the conventional wisdom… they were middle of the pack in terms of OBP or SLG last year. I just think it’s a worry that 5/8 of the Reds regulars can barely get on base at league average.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Agree and maybe a bigger worry: maybe these guys just can’t hit??

        Looking at individual stats, almost all high OBP guys are very good hitters and there appears to be a decent correlation between SLG% and .OBP in general. My theory is: if you can’t hit you are going to have one heck of a time having a high OBP. I think hitting well is the key to high OBP, not having a great eye. That is in general. So when Cozart & Hamilton have low OBPs, it probably because they are not a great threat to do anything with the bat. Again, it is not as straightforward as swinging at crappy pitches.

        Guys like Bruce & Mes should have much higher OBPs because of their power. Cozart & Hamilton? We shouldn’t expect much better than they are because they are weak hitters.

      • Matt WI

        Interestingly enough in the McGhee hits a HR only .005 (you accidentally left off a zero) of his PA dept… the number for Ginacarlo Stanton (37HR/638PAs), your NL league leader in HR would be .05 So, I’m not sure if waiting on the dinger is really the most efficient offensive philosophy. You have to think about it in the broader context of the game, not just a one time execution.

  10. Art Wayne Austin

    I like Boesch in center if Hamilton’s late season swoon was the real Billy. Negron could back-up Boesch if Hamilton needs more seasoning. Pinch-hitters like Dominquez need to come off the bench swinging unless the pitcher is wild then take one. The Cardinals have been the better franchise because they ARE AGGRESSIVE. Somehow, someway a fire has to be lit, the talent is there but play to sweep a series not take two of three.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Boesch is a horrible outfielder according to the defensive stats. He’s never played CF (well, 1 inning) in the majors. That was just flat out desperation by the Reds to try it in spring training. Negron is a better candidate to backup CF.

      • CP

        But but but Marty has been raving about how well Boesch’s defense has been out there…

      • jdx19

        Marty thinks catching the ball is good defense. I’m fairly certain I could catch 99% of fly balls hit near me, too. Poor Marty.

      • ohiojimw

        I said somewhat tongue in cheek that they couldn’t take a serious look at making Negron the regular at either SS or CF because while he might turn out to be a better option than either of the guys starting at SS or CF, he was also the best guy off the bench anywhere else they might need to use him. The more I think about, the less my tongue is in my cheek over the statement.

        Of course that doesn’t answer the question of whether Negron is that good or the Reds depth is that poor.

      • Carl Sayre

        This is why I am still scratching my head about the Heisey trade. He was never going to be an everyday player this had become obvious. He was however a good defensive player for all OF positions. The bench players this year do any of them hit well enough to offset the difference in his fielding ability?

  11. Frogger

    Good article Steve. We can also see some of the same deficiencies in our starters as the bench. When you get right down to it Jockety has made a mess of things. This team has been crippled by numerous bad decisions from management. They still have a lot of talent on the team, but this team has not been assembled well. I can’t understand running a MLB baseball team and not having a top of the order hitter to get on base. That is baseball 101, and to have this problem for multiple years is crazy.

    • jessecuster44

      This team has been run into the ground by a myriad of foolish and wrong-headed decisions. Walt must still have a job because he traded for Latos and Choo (we’re 2.5 years beyond the Choo deal.) When I think about what could have been with the core of players from 2010-14…

      It’s a low down dirty shame.

      • greenmtred

        Run into the ground? They’re certainly better than they were before Walt (and, for that matter, Dusty) got here. And the season hasn’t even started. Outcomes in baseball and most other things aren’t entirely predictable. That’s why they play the games.

      • jessecuster44

        Yes, run into the ground – when you pit the potential of this team versus the actual outcome. There is just no way the Reds core of pitching and hitters from 2010-14 should have not won a playoff series. Walt/Bob’s gutless decision not to get a bat in 2013 after Ludwick went down eptomizes the ineptitude of their in season management of the roster.

  12. Jeremy Conley

    I seriously can’t believe people are commenting that Steve is just complaining.

    Here is the extensive series he put together outlining tons of good possible strategies, trade targets, free agents etc. https://redlegnation.com/category/getting-the-offseason-right/

    Please go read all of those articles as punishment if you commented that Steve is just complaining. And also, is it so bad to complain about having scrap heap players make the 25 man roster? Go read the fangraphs, grantland, or espn pre-season previews, guess what they say: having Jason Marquis in your rotation is stupid, expecting Kevin Gregg to be good is stupid, having so little outfield depth that Skip Schumaker is your 4th outfielder is stupid.

    That’s not a bunch of fans complaining, it’s baseball experts doing analysis.

    • jessecuster44

      This. Shut up and do your homework.

    • jdx19

      Mr. Conley, you are quickly becoming one of my favorite posters!

    • davidmp2

      Interestingly, I read all of those posts previously and it doesn’t change my opinion. I will never agree that being discontent with what the Reds did not do is analysis because none of us has any insight on what the Reds were able to do. It would be one thing to find out that the Dodgers offered the Reds Pederson, Seager and Urias for Latos, and the Reds turned them down. Playing arm chair GM is nice, but it’s not real analysis. That’s why I asked Steve which players in camp he’d rather have on the 25 man roster. At the end of the day the only meaningful conversation is whether these four guys are better for the team in the short and long term than other players in camp.

      • jessecuster44

        You’ll never convince me that Jason Marquis is better on the roster than some of the other young pitchers in camp. Lorenzen, for example.

      • davidmp2

        Marquis is better in the short term. Having Lorenzen start the year in AAA impacts his arbitration eligibility, his options, his development (assuming he is moved to pen once Bailey returns from DL), etc.

      • jessecuster44

        Bah! Will Marquis be better when he’s carrying a 6.00 era and 2.00 WHIP into May?

      • tct

        By your criteria, no one could ever criticize any GM unless they were in the front office themselves and knew everything that went down. That’s just silly. Compare Walt to his peers. He falls short of most of them. He inherited a team that had loads of young talent and a well stocked farm. But outside of one or two trades, he has failed to improve the franchise in any way and has done some serious damage through some of his moves.

        There are only 30 major league GM jobs in the world. These jobs should go to the best and brightest baseball people. Walt is just mediocre at best and has an out of date philosophy. It’s not just the moves themselves, it’s the strategy and thinking that goes with them. Continuing to fill the team with hitters with no plate discipline. Using roster spots on washed up veterans with no upside. Having a fence sitting, gutless strategy that is neither going for it or rebuilding. Continuing to neglect the value of the bench and depth.

        Also, it’s ridiculous to defend Walt by saying he hd no money to spend. The Reds had the highest payroll in the division last year and it will be a similar number this year. The reason they had no money to spend was because of all the dumb contracts Walt has given out. They had to buy out Ludwick and Hannahan. Multi year contracts for guys like Schumaker and Parra as well as over paying for relievers like Sean Marshall have sapped all the money the Reds should have had to improve their bench, bullpen, and left field. It’s Walt’s fault that they have no money.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Analogy: your family is flat broke and you are out of a job. You do have a nest egg with your IRA. You sit down with your wife, explain the dire situation and that the family needs to really cut down your overhead. She agrees; she will cut her weekly $10 manicure down to only twice a month.

        The moral of the story: if you could cut out all the guys salaries, you mention, for a year and you’d probably get one good player for a “year”. That is not where savings of any degree can be captured. It is the Votto, BP and Bailey trifecta where you will find the money stash. BP and Bailey are self-explanatory.

        Votto will have a comeback year but probably not as great as we hope. So the Reds are holding +$200m in liabilities with a guy that I see these kind of 2015 numbers: .270/.385, 17 HRs, 70 RBIs and with the injury risk, these are likely high. I did not see any evidence that he can handle a +90 mph inside fastball and they are going to pound him in there like there is no tomorrow. In addition; likely no steals, no speed, can only play 1st and marginally well; 31 years old with bad legs. Does he have value? Yes, but nowhere near commensurate with what the Reds have invested.

        When Bob C. can’t sleep at night worried sick that his club is upside down, I doubt he thinks names like Ludwick, Hannahan, Shumaker, etc. Nope, probably thinking that between JV and HB, the club owes over $300m in salaries. If you want to know what a boat anchor looks like to a business, this is it.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The Reds aren’t flat broke. The Votto and Bailey contracts don’t explain anything about the lack of Jocketty action this year or last and both of them will produce more value (and revenue) than they cost. By the time their contracts get expensive, the Reds will have new revenue streams that can pay for them. The Reds are going to spend $150 million on their payroll in that time frame. That leaves them at least $100 million to spend on the rest of the team. That you would use RBI as one of the four stats you use to describe JV’s output is, well, interesting.

      • davidmp2

        The Reds made the post season 3 out of the last 5 years. Before that 3 out of the last 30. Yet Jocketty is a moron. That’s basically your argument. The complaint boils down to Boesch over, apparently, trading for Cespedes. Marquis over, apparently, James Shields. Boesch may get 98 ABs this year. Marquis may have 6 GS.

        You can criticize a GM, but criticize him for what he does rather than what he doesn’t do.

      • Steve Mancuso

        So a GM that didn’t do anything to improve his team would be beyond criticism? That is what you just said.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Use RBI because many people relate to them. We just disagree about how finances are seen within a company. I’m comfortable with that and just wanted to state my case.

      • davidmp2

        The Reds DID do something this year. They traded Simon (greatly over performed) and Latos (greatly under performed), into a myriad of interesting young pieces. He added Byrd as a reasonable stop gap for Winker. He extended Mesoraco. Those were all very good moves IMO.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Anyone familiar with accounting, I am speaking very loosely that Charlotte is using accrual versus Steve’s cash basis. In a nutshell, I doubt seriously that Bob C. looks at these contracts as year by year but rather total liability exposure. I know I certainly would.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Votto and Bailey provide value in terms of wins, attendance, interest in the club, and merchandise sales. Liability doesn’t mean net negative. If the positives outweigh the negatives, the liability doesn’t matter relatively speaking. The Reds pay close attention to annual cash flow. You can tell that based on how they negotiate backloaded contracts.

        I get that you want the team blown up. You have for almost a year. So you don’t like their overall strategy this year. But that’s a separate point from whether they had the resources to make different, better moves this offseason and that the Votto and Bailey contracts haven’t adversely affected that yet.

      • charlottencredsfan

        My point on ash flow was exactly what the household analogy was about. Do the Reds (Bob C) have money? Without a doubt (IRS nest egg). In a post a week or so ago claimed that Forbes showed the Reds profited $2m on over $200 in revenues. I don’t know if this is gross or net but either way, it’s not good. As a businessman, I want profits to grow either through increased revenues and/or reducing expenditures. You are right JV and HB bring in revenues but I can’t see a way in the world they offset the liabilities that they are to the team; especially in the long run.

        I would like to believe that WJ wanted to start a major rebuild but BC rather hold the line and see if this team can compete. At least until the ASG. If this is true, 100% of the blame is on Bob, IMO. He is also risking further damage by reducing the value of team’s assets (Cueto in particular) by risking injury or reduced performance. A asset that he will not hold past the 2015 season. All for a team that might have a snowball’s chance in Hades but that’s about all it has.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Castellini says he doesn’t run the Reds to make a profit. So your worries about the Forbes data are misplaced. In fact, the near-zero operating revenue (profit) is exactly what one would expect.

        Forbes also shows that the team value (net of those liabilities you mention) has grown from $270 million in 2006 to $885 million this year. It increased $285 million in just the past year. That’s an increase in family wealth of a quarter of a billion dollars off the team in one year. The players, like Votto and Bailey, are part of the value of the team. I don’t think we need to take up a collection for the owner. He knows when the new TV revenue is coming on line and that’s when the Votto and Bailey contracts become pricey.

        Like you say, the value of the organization is a more relevant consideration than annual cash flow. And the Reds are doing really well (as is the rest of baseball) in that regard.

        It’s wrong to describe the Reds as “flat broke” under any definition.

      • charlottencredsfan

        I will grant the point about the teams market value. If it is true Bob C. doesn’t care about making a profit, why does run his ballclub in such a manner?/ The only other possibility I see, is Walt has been granted the budget but just refuses to use it. Which is more plausible? If I had a dollar for very business owner who “doesn’t are about makng a profit”, I’d ave a couple $100. Not a one did I believe. Businesses exist to make profits and Bob isn’t he only person with a financial investment in the Reds.

        We are going to have to agree to disagree. If we are objective, I believe my version has a stronger ring of truth to it. But who knows.

      • davidmp2

        You still need liquidity to run the team. You can’t have all of your capital tied up in assets. I could own a $1,000,000 house free and clear, but if I have no cash, then I can’t furnish it or keep the lights on.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Then why participate in these discussions? I’ve never understood that. This is clearly a discussion about what better moves could have been made, so if you think the premise of that discussion is untenable, why not just ignore it?

        Is there anything less appealing than someone coming in and saying “don’t discuss that.” It’s a discussion forum. Adding that you don’t think the discussion is valid isn’t really adding to the discussion.

  13. Thegaffer

    I think that many of the posters on this site should be happy with the roster. Now there is near certainty that Cueto will be traded (Leake too) by July. Realistically, The bench and bullpen is no worse than last year, except that we needed to improve to have any real chance to win.

    • jessecuster44

      Then this is a wasted half season, just like 2014 was a wasted entire season.

      Is this team really primed for one last run? Walt/Bob are fooling themselves if they think this is the best they could do.

      • Frogger

        My brain tells me that it is very unlikely this team makes the playoffs, but there is enough talent for a punchers chance. This team could start well, and have the depth in the minors ready to fill in when some pieces start faltering later in the season. I know a smart guy like Price has thought of contingencies. He will have to make the right calls to make a sustained run.

    • ohiojimw

      I don’t agree that Leake and Cueto are near locks to be traded “by July”. If the team manages to hang within sniffing distance of the WC, they might not be traded by the end of July or even at all.

      Leake is more likely to be traded than Cueto at any rate because he might take the one year qualifying offer if they hold onto him to the end of the season and offer him. This is shaping up as a really deep FA class for starting pitchers; and assuming he avoided injury Leake might actually be better served in the 2016 class. Is he going to open a LT deal at the amount of the QO? I doubt it; $15m ain’t bad pocket change for waiting another year for the LT pay day.

      In Cueto’s case with young pitching and OF talent the Reds have at the mid to high minors this season, I think it makes more sense to hold onto JC and make the QO which he is sure to turn down and walk away with an additional high draft pick than to trade JC and amass several more prospects similar to the guys the Reds have already close to the majors

  14. D Ray White

    The Paul Daugherty fan club must be over here trolling…

      • gaffer

        Dont be sorry, that is less BS you will have to hear everyday. Its kind of like how a day not hearring about the Kardashians is a good day.

  15. CTRedsFan

    I agree that Jockety had another very disappointing off season, but:

    Boesch + Dominquez > Santiago + Hannahan

    As for Gregg and Marquis I can only shake my head in disbelieve and wait for the fire sale between the all-star game and the trade deadline.

    • jdx19

      There is a decent chance that Dominguez is terrible, and perhaps somewhat less decent chance that Boesch is terrible.

      But, are you really defending Walt for going from something like -1.5 WAR to -1.0 WAR? They are all terrible players.

      • CTRedsFan

        No, not defending Walt, just grasping for something positive, sad as it may be.

  16. Chris Miller

    Steve, this is just an absolute GREAT article. I’m like you, I am optimistic about the 2015 season, but absolutely, it’s in spite of what Walt has done this off-season.

  17. BigRedMachine

    Well thought out article Steve.

    Is the takeaway that the plan was for a fire sale all along but they had to wait until after the all star break given Cinci is hosting? So they say the right things about competing in the off season but only go after bargain basement players? Actions speak louder that words and all of that.

    • jessecuster44

      I don’t get why the fire sale has to happen after July. Wouldn’t adding Joc Peterson or Mookie Betts for Cueto last offseason be just as exciting? You can rebuild and still be pretty competitive right away.

      • BigRedMachine

        I think the idea is that this year is “wasted” as we wait for Winker/Stephenson/etc to develop one last year in the minors.

      • jessecuster44

        Then what? Sick of waiting. That was what happened from 2001-2009.

      • jdx19

        No one in their right mind trades Pederson or Betts for Cueto. Wouldn’t ever happen. That’s almost like asking for Bryant.

      • jessecuster44

        Disagree. Cueto is a legit ace, and LA and Boston have the deep pockets to afford him.

      • davidmp2

        If you’re the Dodgers or Red Sox, why would you trade 2 of the brightest young players for a one year rental? Have to have a trade partner.

      • jessecuster44

        Because LA and Boston could actually sign Cueto.

      • jessecuster44

        Because Cueto makes their team better now, which is before this December. You’ll notice that Boston and LA both seem to have issues in their rotation.

  18. old-school

    Jocketty overpaid for BP, Sean Marshall, Broxton, Ludwick and an aging Scott Rolen. Ryan Madsen never threw a pitch. Poor bench depth has been a trademark of Jocketty– Wilson Valdez, Mike Constanza, Cesar Izturis, Ramon Santiago, Jack Hannahan, Willie Harris, Derrick Robinson….. Miguel Cairo and Valdez had two of the worst statistical years in modern history at the same time on the same team.

    • greenmtred

      Walt (and the rest of us) couldn’t have known that Marshall and Madsen would be seriously injured. Rolen was an important part of the Reds’ resurgence. But I can’t argue about the bench.

  19. JerryG

    Perhaps Jay Bruce has a great year? I feel like he is always the key with the Reds. Even if he has a decent year and Joey votto stays healthy the reds could be fun to watch. Maybe Frazier has a better year than last year. He is in his prime age wise…I sense a regression for mesaraco possibly. I don’t know if Hamilton will ever be above 320 obp in his career. He’s still valuable because of his defense and speed when he does get on. The rotation worries me most…cueto is great of course…but leake and Bailey I think are #3 starters at their best but more like #4 starters…and then after that? Can Iglesias even go 6 or 7 innings strength wise?

    As far as the last several years…I think a lot of fans would say the team that lost in the playoffs to the giants was their best shot at a world series since 1990 and they unfortunately blew it. Teams like the reds might have one or two chances every ten years to make a run.wouldn’t surprised if we don’t see the royals back in the world series for a long time. It’s just the nature if things. We’re not the cardinals…but maybe we could be the twins if years ago with a great farm system being contenders almost every year to make the playoffs. Unfortunately I think the reds are stuck between wanting to spend money and build a farm system. This year will be interesting. I think the reds want to be perennial contenders like the cards but hey even the Phillies are trying to rebuild I think. The key is having an owner and gm see the reality if where they are and then make decisions moving forward.

  20. Jay King

    Steve…. I have read several of your articles this past spring and I would have to say around 90% of them are negative toward the team in every respect. I know the winter was not what we were hoping for as fans but honestly… Could you spin some positive thoughts the Reds way.. Honestly I hope 1 or 2 of these guys can surprise us. I have to be honest Dominguez actually has a decent chance to be a nice backup player for us. I watched and listened to several games this spring the guy is putting in a ton of effort and if he continues what he has done in spring even for 1/2 the season. He would be better than anyone on the bench last season.

    Pitchers that are over 34 years old are not completely washed up all the time. Lets give Marquis a chance before we just look at his past. Maybe something has clicked. Nobody thought Simon would give us the year he did last year. If he flops then dump him but give him at least a month or so to prove himself. Same goes for Gregg.

    Honestly the pitcher that I am most worried about at this point is Badenhop or however you spell his name.. The guy was terrible waling guys all over and hitters seemed to crush the pitches they hit..

    I could go on and on but I am not a writer for this page. But seriously Steve I would love to see a story about what you consider to be positives going into the season. I know there is a ton of ifs on this team but I think we could surprise teams.

    ps. Here is my big negative comment. If Reds choke again this season Castellini almost has to fire the Reds GM. Bob promised winning baseball that didn’t happen last year.

    • Vanessa Galagnara

      Correct! This has to be Jocketty’s final year. Who will replace him?

      • jessecuster44

        Bob is as big a problem as Walt. His notion of “loyalty” has hamstrung this team.

    • jdx19

      So, your plan is to hope that bad players become less bad?

      There is nothing in Dominguez’ past to suggest he’s a viable major leaguer. He never walks and strikes out more than almost anyone in MLB. Marquis is coming off surgery and hasn’t been good in years. No real reason to think that will change. Ditto for Gregg. He had a good 1/2 season in 2013. The rest of his career has been solidy below average.

      I sure hope they do well. I’d love to eat all my words. But, math being what it is, I doubt I’ll have to.

  21. Vanessa Galagnara

    As a huge Red fan I am terribly disappointed with just about all of the roster moves made by Walt Jocketty. I am seeing 2015 as a season being played by the Reds for a brighter 2016. So many roster spots,filled with washed up,players that would not being playing on any other team.

  22. Steve Schoenbaechler

    All is fine. But, if not these players from ST, then who? For, from how ST went, one can make very good arguments that all 4 of these deserved to make the major league team. Not thorough to say some don’t deserve a spot and not say who does deserve it.

    Do you keep Lorenzen up here, possibly make the same mistake you made with Chapman? Do you rush Winker up here, having him ride the pine rather than get playing time and develop more? Do you overpay for more relief pitchers like we did with Marshall and Broxton? Or, do we overpay for additional starting-caliber players just to ride our bench? Remember, like with Marquis on a minor league contract, he wasn’t favored to make the team but won a spot, given to him by people who are knowledgeable about baseball.

    I can understand the discussion. But, I’m willing to see what they do once the games mean something. Boesch and Dominguez are going to be bench players and, thus, will hopefully not be/shouldn’t be counted on to be the strength of this team. Not to mention, one of these are probably down once Bourgeois comes back. I don’t think basball people and knowledgeable fans are going to care about bench players getting walks. When Heisey was raking in his rookie season, we weren’t cheering walks. We were cheering him hitting the ball. Bench players are probably going to be AB’s from pinch hitting. And, pinch hitters are going to be coming up there swinging a vast majority of the time.

    With Gregg, as poor as our pen was last season, we couldn’t keep the same people out there. Besides, Chapman, Cingrani, Parra, and Diaz are probably going to be the stalwarts in this pen; I’m still wondering about BB. Gregg may even be down if/when Marshall comes back. As people have said on here, anyhow, pen pitchers are normally a crap shoot, anyhow. We’ve simply been fortunate the last several seasons.

    And, Marquis could very well be out once Homer is back. Even if he isn’t, he’s only going to be counted on to be the 4 or 5 guy. From those guys, if any team was to go 500 from them, they would be very happy. There are a lot of interchangeable pieces with the 4 and 5 guys. And, Marquis’ career record? Just above 500.

    With the K’s, who do you get rid of to reduce those? Bruce had the most last season. But, he did play injured. While not injured, he still K’ed just as much but did play well enough to be counted as an AS. Frazier was next. He was one of the players who carried this team last season. Then, Hamilton. Could easily be seen as rookie jitters. Devin was 4th; he was like Frazier. I do think Bruce is gone once the powers-that-be think Winker or Waldrop are ready.

    But, again, it’s easy to say the front office didn’t do the job. If not who we got, then who should we have gotten? Like for LF, there weren’t any ideal players out there. If I recall correctly, each of them either had something one could talk down on. Like Aoki, who I wish we would have gotten, he was getting on the older side, and his defense wasn’t the best. But, he did get on base. Regardless of who we got for LF, odds were going to be, he’s going to be better than who we had out there last season. Byrd is a definite improvement over Ludwick.

    • jessecuster44

      Look at what San Diego did. Who could the Reds have gotten? Start there.

      How about overpaying for a strong OF bat that could play a little CF? – you know, just in case Billy Hamilton continues to struggle or Jesse Winker doesn’t actually walk on water.

      • davidmp2

        Seriously? For starters, the Padres had an $80m payroll in 2014, $35m less than the Reds. Next year, the Padres will have $39 million wrapped up in Kemp (31) and Shields (34). Add $39m to Votto (31), Bruce (29), Phillips (34) and Bailey (29), and you are talking about $84 million on 6 relatively old players in 2016. Plus, I’m not sure just how good Kemp, Upton and Meyers makes the Padres.

        Then, ignoring the money, there are the players that the Reds would have had to trade to acquire the guys the Padres did, assuming the Reds’ pieces were as good – Stephenson, Cingrani, Pena, Winker, Blandino, Lorenzen, Mesoraco, Guillon, and Ervin, and that’s for starters.

        Even if you told me that I could afford it, I’m not sure I agree that Kemp, Norris and Shields are better in the long run than Mesoraco, Stephenson, and Lorenzen.

        Stephenson, Lorenzen, Iglesias, DeSclafani, Bailey, Howard, combined with an offense centered around Mesoraco, Votto, Winker, and Frazier is where this team is transitioning. Pulling a SD Padres would blow that up quickly.

      • Frogger

        I agree the Reds have a good core for the next few years. If I could have gotten Wil Meyers for Gullon and Ervin that would have been a steal. I would be happy if the Reds would get a top of the order bat to get OBP. If Hamilton works out you have a 2 hitter other than Votto, but at least you know you will have someone to get on base at the top of your lineup. If we do trade Cueto, Leake, or anyone this year and we don’t get that in return my head will explode.

      • jessecuster44

        so…. How about a better outfielder than Byrd? I’m not talking about making ALLthe moves the Padres did, just getting one OF. If Marlon Byrd was the best player the Reds could get this offseason, Walt should fire himself.

    • Jeremy Conley

      The thing is, this last offseason set a record for number of outfielders traded in modern history. So it’s just a really bad time to say that there was nothing out there for us to do.

      Also, it’s tough to say that we didn’t have any money when we have the biggest budget in the division. If we were the A’s sure, but look the A’s actually made a bunch of moves.

      Walt just seems parazlyzed and only capable of small moves around the edges. For fans thatt want to see the Reds get better, that’s frustrating, especially when other team’s GMs seem to be able to make real moves.

      • greenmtred

        I share your frustration about the offseason, but will point out that having the largest payroll in the division is not the same as having the most money to spend.

      • jessecuster44

        Yes, but they HAVE the money. They jettisoned Latos, Heisey and Simon for tiny contracts. Look at what the other GMs did. Trades were available, and as usual, Walt sat on his hands until too late.

    • jdx19

      Looking at Marquis’ career record is probably the single worst way to evaluate him. His stats from when he was a young pitcher on good teams are completely irrelevant to the player he is now, which is an aging pitcher coming off surgery that hasn’t had a decent season in half-a-decade.

  23. charlottencredsfan

    Only real compliant: they need to go young ASAP. Trade off Cueto, Leake & Chapman soon. One more time, if JC goes down with an injury the recriminations on this blog will be near impossible to read. If and when Votto’s stock rises, they need to move him. BP, Cozart, Bailey, Jumbo, Byrd, Boesch all should be very tradeable – as in the Reds being agreeable to trading.

    The guys making the biggest fuss here were the ones who actually thought the Reds had a good team and a dream trade or free agent signing, here or there, would get us to the promised land. I’m sorry but it was delusional to begin with. A rebuild job must be performed and it might as well start now, A bad team is obviously hard to follow. A bad team that is old and has no future is brutal to follow. Young and bad with some light at the tunnel is at least tolerable and could actually be interesting.

    The hand winging is comical. The budget is busted and needs to be reset. We are not a player or two away. The Reds need to tear this baby down and rise from the ashes. 2015 is already shot, it is what the Reds do to lay a foundation for the future that is the important thing this year. Done properly it will at least be a team worth watching.

    My two cents – have at me but you will be wrong.

    • tct

      If the budget is busted and they have no chance, then they need to be rebuilding. As you said, trade Cueto, take offers on Chapman, and see if anyone is willing to give something close to 2013 value for Bruce. That’s what some of the hand wringing is about. They aren’t making moves that will help them win this year, but they aren’t making moves that will help them in the future either. It’s.like they are just trying to be an 80 win team and that makes no sense in their position.

      • charlottencredsfan

        TCT we agree, except with Bruce. Even if you want to trade Bruce, I’d wait this season out to see if he recovers his value. The hand wringing that I refer to, is the reality, given the condition of the roster after the 2014 season and really little money to invest, they are not gong to compete. Never were but some folks think that by some magic that we could. We can’t. No GM is that good. I hold no water for Walt and wish we would change course but this was an impossible task.

        Now let’s talk OBP acquisitions Steve is right, the veteran guys we acquired are certainly lacking in the skill; however, the two youngsters we traded for are adapt at that particular skill – Wallach & Suarez. I went back and watched all of Suarez’s 2014 Tiger ABs. At first I was excited, he started very well at the dish. Problem is he hit several HRs in the first couple of weeks and then his swing looked to get long and he has nowhere near the bat speed to account for it. He does have a keen eye. Wallach in the few times I was able to see him this spring, appears to have a serious “hitting” upside. I think he will be with Reds as soon as next year if not 2017. So yes WJ did acquire OBP upside hitters but they are under the radar. He keep his word.

      • jdx19

        Where did you watch all of Suarez’s ABs? THat sounds like a fantastic tool! I do have MLB.tv, so if it’s related to that I’ll be all over that!

      • charlottencredsfan

        You have to go to his game log either at FG or Baseball Reference, find out the games he played then go to MLB.TV and find that game and search for the ABs. Trust me it sounds a lot harder than it is, once you get the hang of it. Interesting to follow certain hitters progression through a season.

        But I’m a junky too, so there’s that.

    • Matt WI

      I’m with you in terms of the direction they need to go. With all due deference to the possibility of “anything can happen, that’s why we play the games”… the percentages say this year is lip service to a competitive team (as the off season moves also indicate). Every day they keep Cueto, the more I cringe. There is gold to be mined there, get dirty and take the risk.

    • jessecuster44

      Reds would be hard to root for If they just up an Trade all their big contracts. I’m not interested in going back too 2005, thank you very much.

  24. WVRedlegs

    I said a few days ago that Jocketty could have a new TV show called MLB Flea Market Flip. Jocketty is trying to institute a new baseball philosophy for small market teams: “Rescue, recycle, re-purpose, re-invent, and re-use.” Jocketty will have to complete the last step, re-sell, in July. But with these pickups, ‘re-lease’ will most likely be in their futures.

  25. Steve

    Wow, you deleted my post where I criticized you.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Your comments criticizing me are violations of the site’s commenting guidelines. Your content here should be about the Reds, not other commenters or writers. No personal attacks. If you actually read our blog, you’d have noticed the absence of that. It isn’t an accident. If you disagree with my views about the Reds, please provide your views about the Reds.

    • charlottencredsfan

      I hear you brother. Steve is not perfect but he runs this ship very, very well. It’s his call but the good far outweighs the bad, I think you’ll agree. Steve and I can’t agree on what day it is but he can manage a baseball blog with anyone.

    • jdx19

      This is a private site with guidelines. You don’t have the right to write whatever you want about folks.

  26. gusnwally

    The Tigers are on the hook for 162 million for Justin Verlander going forward. Can you imagine the Reds paying that much or more for a sore armed J. Cueto.We cannot take that chance.

  27. Aaron Bradley

    I could forgive Jocketty if it wasn’t for the ex-cardinal signings. That really irks me to no end. It’s like he completely lacks imagination and it’s as if we don’t have scouts. I’ve joked before but I am semi-serious when I say he must still be on the Cardinals pay roll.

  28. Jeremy Conley

    I have to say, I really didn’t think that a post talking about 4 guys on minor league contracts would stir the pot like this. People must really like Kevin Gregg!

  29. Joe Macri

    Forgive an amateur statistical question, but is there a stat for swing rate on balls outside of the strike zone as well as take rate for balls inside the strike zone and if so where do the Reds rank? I’m curious whether the high K rate/low OBP problem is more of watching good pitches go by or swinging at the bad ones. Any thoughts?

    • charlottencredsfan

      Reds breakdown:
      Swings at pitches outside zone: 32.6%, 8th worst in MLB
      Swings at pitches inside zone: 67.3%, 8th best in MLB

      What to make of it?

      • Matt WI

        Sadly, I think it means they’ll swing at everything and reap the (lack of) results.

  30. WVRedlegs

    Tonight’s lineup might be a sign of things to come:

    1. BHam
    2. Votto
    3. Frazier
    4. Mesoraco
    5. Byrd
    6. Bruce
    7. BP
    8. Cozart.

    • Tom Reed

      Could it be a season omen with BP in the seven slot?

    • docmike

      Flip Bruce and Byrd and let’s go.

      • WVRedlegs

        I thought so too. But I think they are going to make Bruce earn that 5th spot back.

    • Pooter

      Is this for real?!!! My faith has been revived a little! But like Jeremy, I would switch Bruce and Byrd too. Good to see!

  31. Tom Reed

    Let’s see how Marquis comes through against the Jays today. An MLB.TV free game at 7:07.

  32. WVRedlegs

    The RedSox finally made their OF moves. Optioned the Cuban OF, Castillo, to AAA along with OF Jackie Bradley, Jr. The Boston Globe had this on JBJ, “Unlike Castillo, Bradley may have no future with the Red Sox other than as a trade chip. The former supplemental first-round pick, who turns 25 this month, hit .387 in spring training thanks to an improved approach at the plate but had virtually no chance to make the team.”
    It looks as though JBJ has regained his stroke, but no room at the Inn in Boston for him. JBJ could be a late inning replacement for Byrd, or even a platoon, and back up CF. He could be a late inning pinch runner. Two of the best defensive CF’s in the game patrolling LF and CF in the late innings might be a good thing.

    • Pooter

      I think his WAR is too high to qualify for a bench spot on this team. That being said, he would make a good addition.

  33. charlottencredsfan

    Ervin Santana has been suspend for 80 games for PED use. Hate that. I really like Santana very much, not so much as a player but as a person. Very strong work ethic, great attitude, and known to be a great teammate especially to the young Latin players. The guy made a bad mistake and I feel for him, his family and the Twins organization. Wish him well.

  34. Carl Sayre

    I have been a little surprised by our Reds in ST. I am not ready to jump for joy but the position players while needing improvement I am not ready to slit my wrist. I don’t see this team being competitive so, since we didn’t hold a fire sale during the off season The first third of this season will make it an easy choice to start over. Boston or Angels see they are a stud pitcher away from contending and then any team off to a hot start but needs a closer. I see us getting the best return for Cueto and Chapman that we can and maybe a position player if there is any interest. Leake is intriguing to me I think he is affordable and probably gong to be a good buy and considering how young our staff will be next year I like a 2 or 3 year deal for him. This team comes out the first 50 or 55 games and plays out of their mind then we throw caution to the wind and pray.