If there was an All-Star team for city-wide event hosts, Bob Castellini and the city of Cincinnati would be Mike Trout. Kudos to them for throwing a gracious, thoughtful, fabulous affair. The bottom line was the guests had fun. In the end, the only thunder rumbled off of Todd Frazier’s bat and the only lightning flashes came from Aroldis Chapman’s left arm. If you’re a fan of the Cincinnati Reds or a resident of the Queen City, you can rightly be proud today. Once again, the non-baseball side of the Reds organization proved it is second to none.

But the significant issues facing the baseball side of the Reds operation linger unwelcome like the drunk co-worker who doesn’t know when to leave the party.

Will the Reds make changes in the organization? Bryan Price and members of his coaching staff could be fired, although reports this morning citing Bob Castellini indicate that won’t be the case. Firing the coaching staff might make a few fans feel better, but wouldn’t address the real problem. General manager Walt Jocketty and members of his front office staff could be let go, although the day trade talks were likely to heat up isn’t the ideal time for that.  Vague rumors to the contrary, I sort of doubt it. But neither would those moves shock me.

What does seem likely is the Reds will participate in player trades – maybe more than one. It’s important to keep in mind that trades are about contracts as much as they are about talent. Johnny Ceuto is a great pitcher, but the team who receives him would be trading for only 15-18 of his starts. When looking at possible returns from trading him, don’t ask What is Johnny Cueto worth? Instead, ask What are 15 starts by Johnny Cueto worth?

The answer is quite a bit, to an organization at a high-opportunity point. That’s why they would be willing to sacrifice talented players with multiple years of team control for three months of Johnny Beisbol. But there’s a limit. Expecting clubs to mortgage their future is unreasonable.

The questions of trading partners, bundling and specific returns have been covered here the past few weeks. Yesterday, Grant Freking outlined specific trade partners and player match-ups. We’ve posted two analyses of trading Jay Bruce, by Grant and Nick Carrington; an upbeat outlook on 2016 by Mike Maffie; a post by Nick on the returns from the Nationals for Chapman; a post from Nick Kirby in favor of trading Todd Frazier and posts from Kevin Michell on the Reds’ matchup with the Detroit Tigers and trade returns for Chapman.

As the Reds move forward the next two weeks, follow how they approach two larger strategic questions.

1. Will the trades be limited to Reds players who are walking at the end of 2015? 

The list of relevant players in that category include: Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Marlon Byrd, Manny Parra and Brayan Peña.

Or will the Reds move players they control through 2016 and beyond? They include: Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman and possibly Brandon Phillips.

The issue is whether the Reds will look to rebuild quickly, as soon as 2016, or blow up the core of the team. If the Reds view themselves as possible contenders next year, they will stick to trading from the first group. If the front office is looking for more fundamental personnel turnover, they would include players from the second list.

The latter perspective is held by Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman. Brennaman appeared on the MLB radio show The Leadoff Spot yesterday with Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth. Brennaman’s view can be summarized this way: The core group of players – Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Homer Bailey and Zack Cozart – has proven they aren’t good enough to compete with St. Louis or Pittsburgh. The Reds need to trade those parts for good young talent, rebuild and plan to compete 2-3 years from now. That’s what I would characterize loosely as the Blow It Up camp.

One difficulty with the Blow It Up strategy is that it’s easier said than done. Votto has a big contract and full no-trade rights. Phillips’ contract is easier to swallow, but he’s earned full no-trade rights as well, based on his veteran status. Todd Frazier is untradeable now given his iconic stature with Reds fans. Zack Cozart and Homer Bailey are recovering from major surgeries. They would be impossible to move other than for pennies on the dollar. That leaves Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman. (More on Jay Bruce in a second.)

Chapman is the outlier here. If he was a starting pitcher, no way I’d trade him. He’d pitch on Opening Day 2016 and to packed houses every fifth day after that. But as a closer, he offers little value to the Reds above what another pitcher could provide. If the Reds are committed, as it seems, to using the most electric arm in baseball just in the ninth inning of games they are already ahead, I’d trade him (which I’ve been saying since 2011). His value in the trade market dwarfs his value to the Reds in that limited role.

So while it’s easy and feels good to shout blow it up, laying out a plausible path for doing that is another matter.

2. Will the Reds target players who help immediately or look for prospects with minor league time ahead of them? 

The trade of Mat Latos for Anthony DeSclafani is an example of the former. The trade of Alfredo Simon for Eugenio Suarez falls into that category as well. That’s what you would expect from an offseason trade by an organization that views itself as a contender the following season.

But trades at the July deadline are different. There is a limit to how much a trading partner who is in the middle of a pennant drive will give up when it comes to contributing 25-man roster pieces. They are much more inclined to trade players who offer production next year or beyond, but not 2015. That’s why these deadline trades are usually veterans for minor league prospects. On the other hand, trades that include Reds players with control extending to 2016-17 (Bruce, Chapman, Phillips) could bring back short-term 25-man roster help. It would depend on what the Reds were seeking.

Those who offer immediate help tend to be role players (again, a contender won’t trade a star player in the middle of a pennant race) with limited upside. The minor league players tend to have a higher ceiling and that type of prospect is what the Reds should be adding.

3. Will the Reds target offense, and the right kind of offense?

Last offseason, based on public statements by the general manager, the Reds appeared to have reached that Eureka! moment when they realized the importance of on-base percentage hitters to the offense (hey, Moneyball was published only 12 years ago). They then proceeded to acquire Marlon Byrd, Brennan Boesch and Chris Dominguez. The leadoff spot has an OBP of .275 so far this season. The Reds are 10th in OBP in the NL.

The organization needs to start stockpiling hitters with on-base (walking) skills with the same zeal they have devoted to amassing pitching arms in recent years. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t trade Johnny Cueto for a star pitching prospect if that’s the best deal. But it does mean they should quit placing a higher priority on pitching. Fundamental changes in baseball’s run-scoring environment mean that the notion that “you can’t have too much pitching” has become a misleading and debilitating cliché. One need look no farther than the 2013 and 2014 Reds for evidence of that.

4. What about Jay Bruce? 

What should we make of reports that the Reds have had Jay Bruce out there on the trade market for a few months and rumors from insiders that he’s as likely to be traded as anyone else?

If you recall, the rumors of Bruce’s availability date back to the past offseason, when he (along with every other major league player not bolted down) was mentioned in connection with the San Diego Padres. Given Bruce’s slow start to 2015, it isn’t surprising that the Reds would keep Bruce’s name out there. The fact that he wasn’t traded is evidence that the Reds weren’t willing to give him away.

Now that Jay Bruce has turned his season around in compelling fashion, you wonder if the Reds will take down the For Sale sign in right field. As Nick Carrington outlined a few days ago, Bruce not only has sustained his production for two months, but there are compelling reasons (career-best walk and strikeout rates) to believe Bruce has moved his approach to the next level. Since May 16 (two full months), Bruce has hit .308/.386/.549 with a wRC+ of 155. That means he’s hit 55 percent better than the average major league player. Over those two months, he has outproduced Todd Frazier and Joey Votto.

Are the Reds really going to trade their best hitter, when they have him signed to team-friendly contracts through 2017?

Trading Jay Bruce might have seemed like a reasonable, if desperate, move during the offseason and the first part of 2015. But trading him now seems as irresponsible as trading Todd Frazier would be. The Reds have both those players under control at reasonable salaries through 2017, with plenty of opportunity to trade them between now and then if the situation dictates it.

But if they want to be competitive in 2016 or 2017, and as a season ticket holder, I certainly hope they do, then Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier are cornerstones.

What would I do? Limit trades to the 2015 walkers and Chapman, but trade all of them. Put priority on high-ceiling prospects even if they are farther away from the major leagues. Focus on hitters who have good plate discipline and above-average power.

82 Responses

  1. jdx19

    Marty’s comment is interesting. They’ve proven they can’t compete, yet, the won two division titles in the last 5 seasons. I wonder how different the rhetoric might be if the Reds didn’t blow 3 straight home games to SF and made the NLCS, at least.

    • Kurt Frost

      Telling it like it is?

      I wouldn’t trust Marty’s opinion on putting g together a coed slow pitch softball team.

      • Tony

        I agree! I would live to ship him and a bucket of baseballs to Cleveland for Tom Hamilton. He’s just become too cranky over the past several years and this statement proves he’s losing even more of his objectivity.

    • User1022

      But how about right now? Is the Reds’ core in position to compete with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago?

      5 years ago, sure they were. Even 3 years ago. But remember 5 and the 3 years ago, the Phillies were still one of the best teams in baseball.

      Things can change. I, for one, think this core had a window to win, and it passed them by.

      • tct

        The problem is not the core guys, though. The core of Votto, Bruce, Cueto, Frazier, Leake, BP, and Chapman have been good enough to win. Throw a healthy Bailey and Meso in there, and that core would be as good as anybody’s. The issue is that the supporting cast has been terrible.

        This is just another example of Marty not understanding how winning teams are made. I had no delusions about this team’s chances before the season, and am not very optimistic about next year either. But that’s because they had a horrible bench, no depth, bad bullpen, and a shaky back of the rotation. The core was fine. But Marty seems to believe that all of the Reds struggles are directly related to Votto walking too much and Jay Bruce not being Hank Aaron.

        It also makes me mad that Marty can’t seem to give these guys any credit for the two division titles and three playoff appearances that they earned.

      • jdx19

        Exactly. I read an article not too long ago showing the key isn’t having good players on your team, it’s NOT having bad players on your team.

      • muttonlettucetomato

        JDX hit the nail on the head here. I think one of the reasons the Cards are so good is because they don’t keep bad players around for long and are quick on the trigger.

    • jessecuster44

      Look at the last 2.5 seasons. Maybe that’s what Marty is talking about.

    • greenmtred

      Good points. I’d add that his logic–if it is, in fact, his logic–is flawed: Votto et al haven’t proved that they can’t compete with the Cards, because they are not the only players on the team or in the organization. But “blowing it up” has always seemed to me to be more about expressing disappointment than about logic.

  2. Rick Delgado

    Enjoyed the read very much. Thanks.

    • Misconcepcion

      Likewise, TCT. That really sums it up.

  3. wkuchad

    Great write-up – thanks! The only change I would make to “What would I do?” is add Phillips to the list of trade candidates. I like Phillips a lot, but feel like Eugenio Suarez could take over 2nd next year for a fraction of the payroll cost. This is assuming the Reds plan to bring back Cozart.

    • msanmoore

      If you can move BP, I think that’s a reasonable option. Suarez will mature and perhaps the lesser demands of 2B would help. Love his bat in any case.

    • lwblogger2

      I’m not sure you can move BP even if he’s willing and other teams are willing. The reason being that with Cozart’s injury, I don’t think we can know that Suarez won’t be needed next season at SS.

      • lwblogger2

        DeJesus is really a bench guy. If he had to play for a few weeks, then the team would probably be fine. I wouldn’t want to count on him longer than that though.

  4. ncmountie1

    Sums up the problem with WJ & front office PERFECTLY…..
    The organization needs to start stockpiling hitters with on-base (walking) skills with the same zeal they have devoted to amassing pitching arms in recent years. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t trade Johnny Cueto for a star pitching prospect if that’s the best deal. But it does mean they should quit placing a higher priority on pitching. Fundamental changes in the baseball’s run-scoring environment mean that the notion that “you can’t have too much pitching” has become a misleading and debilitating cliché. One need look no farther than the 2013 and 2014 Reds for evidence of that.

  5. Jeremy Conley

    The tough thing is, I don’t totally disagree with Marty, but I do agree with Steve that the Reds don’t really have the option to blow it up. I would love a redo on the Votto, Phillips, and Bailey deals. Those three aren’t who I would want to build around for the future, but with their contracts I can’t see them being traded.

    As for the offense vs. pitching, I really don’t care where the Reds talent is, as long as they have good talent. Maybe some teams have too much pitching, but I don’t know who those teams are, and the Reds certainly aren’t one of them. With a rotation next year of Bailey, Desclafani, Lorenszen, Iglesias, TBD? With Bailey coming off of TJ and the bullpen potentially losing Chapman?

    • lwblogger2

      I agree with you as far as what the returns are. If the best return is pitching, then you get pitching. The Reds’ pitching depth seems to be arriving 2017 or so. Plus, injuries to pitchers are more frequent. Teams usually have to go 7 starters deep and in a bad season could go 9-10 starters deep.

  6. BigRedMike

    Chapman should be the first player traded

    I would not trade Bruce, unless, you could get a couple good young pitchers that are close to MLB ready.

  7. memgrizz

    Thanks to you and the other contributors for continued quality of work. This post is emblematic of the well-reasoned, comprehensive content that you guys provide – from analysis of players at the lowest levels of the minor leagues to management and ownership . You all provide a level-headed and analytical approach, and I greatly appreciate that. Nice job, guys.

    To the subject matter at hand, I largely agree with your “What would I do?” conclusion. A core offense of Frazier, Votto, Bruce, and Mesoraco – coupled with free agent acquisitions and player development focused on OBP – should provide enough assets to at least take a swing at contending in 2016. The rotation’s a bit more troubling for a run in 2016 – if I’m going to go after AAA asset via these trades, trying to find a 2nd/3rd starter is where I’d go. I just don’t think the contracts on the tradable assets can get that.

  8. msanmoore

    I’m still waiting to see if the rumblings of a catcher to Seattle = Pena. Overall, I side with Steve on who should go … and go quickly!

    • Victor Vollhardt

      Pena is the very picture of a backup catcher and any hope of a deal with Cueto would be hampered by the loss of Pena. At this point try to sign Cueto and continue to use him the rest of the season and if he does’t sign –put out the qualifying offer (which he won’t take if he hasn’t signed) and take the draft choice, which is at least would be the Reds idea of a prospect not somebody else’s view. If that plays out still keep Pena–no one knows how (or when or at what level) Mesoraco comes back and he might be your new left fielder. Barnhart and Pena would be a good combo. Anybody who believes that you can live without having enough pitching hasn’t been watching baseball—- things change- new ideas(if they work over the long haul) are always welcome, but good pitching will always stop any offence. If one of today’s teams had Koufax-Drysdale-Osteen-Sutton-Williams(in their prime) they would be the odds on favorite in any division. Cueto and the signing of same are important for the whole organization- #1 he is a front line stopper and #2 he gives an example for all the good young starters and not just his arm–but his thought processes and in between starts training program….

      • msanmoore

        We won’t sign Cueto – $25-$30M per year is far too rich for our blood.

        Seasoned catching talent is rather thin on the trading blocks, so Pena either sweetens a deal or is dealt on his own. Either way, he’s not back in Cincy next year anyway.

      • PDunc

        I think a good argument can be made on either side as to whether pitching or hitting should be prioritized, but lets go with your opinion that pitching should be priority #1 and look into prospect of keeping Cueto through this season and trying to re-sign him.

        I think we all can agree that whether Cueto is in the rotation or not, this seasons Reds or not making the playoffs.

        Last off-season Jon Lester, at 31 years old, got a 6 year $155 million contract. Max Sherzer, at 30 years old, got 7 years and $210 million. Cueto will turn 30 in February. Lets assume Cueto gets a similar deal, say around 6 years and $150 million. You’ll be paying Johnny $25 million per season for his declining years. He may be worth that money through the length of the contract but at the Reds payroll number I don’t know that I’d want to take the risk. I don’t think there are many 36 years old (the age Cueto will be at the end of the contract) anymore that are worth $25 million a year. After adding this contract, the realistic best case scenario is the payroll increases the same amount as Johnny’s salary so no other player has to be traded but no additional player that costs much of anything can be added.

        The other option is trading him now for a top pitching prospect. You’d have this player under contract for 6 seasons, the first 3 of which would be at league minimum salary. You hope you’ve scouted well and the young pitcher can provide something remotely close to Cueto’s production, but at a quarter of the cost. The cost savings can then help keep other current players here and bring in help for the bench and bullpen.

      • Victor Vollhardt

        To PDUNC—a good thoughtful answer on your part—and you are right on your math—unless the new TV contract brings in a lot more money(it will as the Reds have one of the best ratings of any local package) and the people who are paying that money want “name” players and will push to keep popular(winners like a Cueto) players. The final thought is we don’t know hot much is/will be available and even how much of the increase will go to the partners or the product on the field. Either way your breakdown of the arguments of each possibility is right on.

  9. Evan armstrong

    I would move Cuteo for best offer which I think will end up being two mid round prospects. I offer Leake 6 years at between 75-85 million. I look to see what Byrd might bring and I hold off on Bruce and Chapman till the off season. However I don’t run the team so if I had to guess I think Cuteo and Leake get moved and this fall Chapman gets a 5-6 year deal.

    • lwblogger2

      I think that’s a big overpay on Leake. Honestly, I think Leake will be looking at a 4-year deal this off-season. He could get into the range your discussing with a big 2nd half but based on what I’m seeing so far, no. If last year was his walk year, he probably would have been looking at something like 5yrs/$75-million, coming off strong 2013 and 2014 seasons. His 2015 has been inconsistent and iffy from a statistical standpoint and from a scouting standpoint.

      • reaganspad

        I think he is talking about locking up Leake now before year end with Chapman as a wild card option.

        I do not want Mike Leake for more than the 1 year QO if he accepts it. I do not think that he will because of the range that LW is talking about.

        I just do not know if Leake right now is going to bring back a lot, and the pick may be better than the offer we see in the next few weeks.

        The more I think about Chapman the more interest I have in keeping him to see if we have a new front office and a new manager who may be more interested in winning than protocol.

        I wonder if Skip Shumaker is worth $100,000 or if we have to pay that much to move him to another team now

      • greenmtred

        Good point about Chapman, REAGANSPAD, and one I’ve considered, as well. If the answer is that Chapman as a starter or even more-used bullpen guy is a “ship that has sailed,” then it seems obvious that other, smarter front-offices would recognize this and not be willing to part with boatloads of talent for him(staying with the nautical metaphor).

  10. Jake

    I’m not in the whole blow it up camp. However I think we need to trade certain players but build a core around Frazier, Mesoraco and Votto. If we really want to compete in 2016 then Jocketty (sigh) needs to make some bold moves and get MLB bound players in return for Cueto, Chapman, etc.

    • ncmountie1

      Are we sure Mez is real deal? Yes he was hurt this season but he’s had one good season and a lot of “moments”. IDK, it’s a question. Also, do you make him your LF & get a catcher? I can’t believe, even with succesful surgery, that hip impingement for a catcher isn’t the worst of all the positions.

      • lwblogger2

        If all goes well, the surgery should correct the impingement and Mesoraco should be able to catch for several years. Honestly, to me, the concussions are more worrisome. I think Mesoraco is the real deal. If he can stay on the field, he can put up very solid offensive seasons even for a LF. If he can stay behind the plate though, I think the Reds need to do that. He has more value there.

      • whereruklu

        I honestly believe that Messo will be back to full strength status next year. Whether he is the C or LF is open, but he should be able to catch the vast majority of games. He is the real deal. Catching fundamentals are still a work in progress, but he is still one of the best C in the league. He has always had a bat. Messo should be included in the “do not touch” list of Frazier, Votto, Hamilton, Bruce, Cozart, along wiith Bailey, Leake, DeSclafani, Lorenzen, Hoover (hard to believe I’m saying that now), and possibly Iglasias. Personally, I would keep Pena. Very good backup that can platoon at Ist as well. Barnhardt is impressive as a work in progress. Think I’d keep him as well. Negron would be a keeper for now because he can play just about anywhere and eat up innings. His hitting is suspect, but he has shown signs of being a decent bench support. I am mixed on Byrd. If you’d asked me a couple of months ago I would have said get what you can for him. I don’t see him as the answer in LF, but you gotta love that he’s started coming around to what the Reds expected of him. Again- Mesoraco, Frazier, Votto, Bruce, Hamilton, and Cozart are a no-no. This is a good core of field players to fine tune with. Still maybe a year or two away, but next year might surprise us if the right trades are done this month and the end of the season. With injuries consuming such players as Messo, Cozart, and Bailey, and the fact that the front office has not supplied Price with decent bench players and middle relievers, I think that under different circumstances, Price’s value would be much higher. I’d give him another chance next year and hope that Walt can earn his money and go out and get the missing pieces.

  11. jamesgarrett

    I am with you Steve all the way Great analysis.The key is as you said trade all the 2015 walkers and Chapman.This clears the muddy waters and starts the clock ticking again.You get my vote for the next GM.

  12. PDunc

    “But if they want to be competitive in 2016 or 2017, and as a season ticket holder, I certainly hope they do, then Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier are cornerstones.

    What would I do? Limit trades to the 2015 walkers and Chapman, but trade all of them. Put priority on high-ceiling prospects even if they are farther away from the major leagues. Focus on hitters who have good plate discipline and above-average power.”

    It sounds like you (and I agree with this) are advocating a partial sell-off while trying to contend in 2016 and ’17 while we still have Bruce and Frazier under contract.

    If that is the case then I don’t think you can look solely at a prospects ceiling. If you estimate that a prospect is not going to be able to help the big-league club until mid-2017 or 2018 then they are not going to be able to help the Votto, Bruce, Frazier, Mes, Bailey core group.

    You still want to value their ceiling more than their big-league ETA, but there has to be a balance. I’d favor quality over quantity and target talented prospects that can contribute starting sometime in 2016.

  13. jschroeder011

    I wonder how much the possibility of Leake accepting a Qualifying Offer will go into what kind of reurns from Cueto and possibly Chappy

    • reaganspad

      I agree with the thought of a QO for Mike Leake JSCHROEDER011 .

      The return for Leake as rental has to be higher than the comp pick we would get. I do not see Mike signing a one year deal to return to the Reds but that would not be a bad thing for our staff next year. And this from someone who has been trying to trade Mike Leake for 3 years….

      I have to be overwhelmed for a Chapman trade right now, otherwise I do it in the off season. Maybe a new GM and manager will want him to start…

      I would trade Byrd, and sadly Cueto.

      There is no scenario for which I would trade Jay Bruce right now unless he gets a Mike Trout return. The guy is a 40 HR guy.

      Votto, Super Todd, Meso and Bruce are 4 of my players for 2016 and the core of a very good team. Meso’s loss this year just can’t be measured. The right manager and 120 HRs from that 4 and we are in the think of it if we make other smart moves.

      I would trade Billy Hamilton before I would trade Jay Bruce. I would send Billy to AAA to work on his non switch hitting now. No way that should be left until the offseason.

      Phillips continues to show me his value when healthy. No way I spend money to trade him. I play him out unless a team really wants him right now and does not ask us to eat $20 million.

      available salary in the budget doesn’t mean anything to the Reds as free agents do not choose to come to Cincy.

      Walt, Dusty both said that they would bring in the free agents. We have seen that is not happening. Wasn’t Cordero signed by Krivsky? A move criticized at the time but a true measure of what the Reds have to do to land a free agent.
      Overpay. We haven’t seen one since

  14. WVRedlegs

    Great write up Steve. The Reds are all over the map in what they might do. At least Jocketty is very good at keeping his cards close to the vest.
    There is one player out there for a very all-in contending team that cannot play for them in 2015. Toronto’s Marcus Stroman, out with an ACL injury, not an arm injury. Five years of team control still. Great replacement for Cueto and can lead the rotation until Bailey returns.
    Reports out of Toronto this morning indicate that the Blue Jays are reconsidering their no-trade stance on Stroman because a couple of teams are very insistant on him being the centerpiece of any trade package. Could that be the Reds and Jocketty as one of those couple of teams?
    The Reds have to re-visit the Suarez as a SS idea and get a very good AA-AAA shortstop in one of their trades. Suarez at 2B has a better ring to it. Suarez has 8 errors (5 fielding/3 throwing) in just 26 games. Ugh.

    • lwblogger2

      He’s been brutal defensively. I’ve been telling myself that a lot of SS, even good defensive ones, have a rough go defensively the first couple seasons. I’m not convinced that Suarez will ever be more than marginal defensively at SS though.

  15. CRig

    If even possible, after that show at the ASG, I think Chapman’s stock actually went up.

    Ship him.

    • Evan armstrong

      I don’t see Bob, especially after his ASG performance ever permitting any Reds GM to trade Chapman.

      • Tom Reed

        Chapman’s got the magic, if only a closer. I think you’re right.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Agreed. And that would be so appropriate and awful. That, and the enormous, gigantic overpay the Reds will offer Chapman to keep him here.

      • tdan4

        Trade Chappy now, get good $$ in return. not worth paying that much money for someone that only puts in about 70 innings per year. If Hoover can continue his good fortunes, he can be used putting in more innings and for less money. Just don’t trade him in the National League. The Reds should know what he is capable to do against them.

  16. David

    I can see a competitive lineup in 2016, but what about the rotation (and bullpen)? I don’t see the Reds obtaining ML ready pitching prospect for any of the players on the trading block. However, I hope I am wrong. The rotation will include Desclafani, Iglesias, and Lorenzen. Here are some of the advanced stats for them.

    Iglesias – 8.38 K/9, 2.79 BB/9, 3.25 FIP, 3.94 xFIP, 3.82 SIERA
    Desclafani – 6.59 K/9, 3.65 BB/9, 3.79 FIP, 4.35 xFIP, 4.51 SIERA
    Lorenzen – 5.93 K/9, 4.92 BB/9, 5.71 FIP, 4.85 xFIP, 5.15 SIERA
    League Average for Starters – 7.28 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 3.90 FIP, 3.85 xFIP, 3.91 SIERA
    Jason Marquis (for fun) – 7.04 K/9, 2.66 BB/9, 5.21 FIP, 3.93 xFIP, 4.05 SIERA

    As of now, the Reds would have one average to above average starter next year in Iglesias, an average to below average starter in Desclafani, and a below replacement level player in Lorenzen. All three need to improve and stay healthy. Lorenzen needs to make a huge step forward to be a successful major league pitcher. Bailey needs to comes back both healthy and effective. Stephenson needs to live up to the hype of a top prospect. It’s highly unlikely that all those things happen next year. I hope that they do though.

    • Victor Vollhardt

      To David—-your take on next year’s potential pitching staff is very insightful and why the signing of Cueto is the most important deal that can be made and keeping him until the year is over (on the chance that something could be worked out) is really the only option.—–see my post above on Pena because it is really about Cueto.

    • greenmtred

      Hasty getting rid of Marquis, eh?

  17. wizeman

    trade cueto, leake, parra, pena and byrd. know it is out of the box but sit down with chapmans reps and offer him a lucrative relievers contract with a substantial kicker for every game he starts.offer it as an extension kicking in after next year where he will still make around 12million. he stretches out to 120 innings next year.
    5 yrs at 14 plus plus 200K per start. if he starts 25 games in 2017 he makes 19. thirty starts he makes 20 million.
    out of the box but i would at least explore it. if you have him for another 6 it is obviously not too late.
    if he says no… “vaya con dios”. best arm in the game

    • reaganspad

      I like it Wizeman. we can only sign our own free agents and not at market time, but before they hit the open market

  18. IndyRedMan

    and a below replacement level player in Lorenzen. All three need to improve and stay healthy. Lorenzen needs to make a huge step forward to be a successful major league pitcher

    Here we go again? The guy is 23….has barely pitched collegiately or professionally and yet HAS A 3.29 ERA AS A STARTER IN A TINY BANDBOX PARK? Give me a break?

  19. IndyRedMan

    Yes Lorenzen has walked too many and the Ks/BB ratio isn’t what it should be but he’s right there w/Cueto w/lowest batting avg. allowed w/risp. That’s not a fluke….the same as the Reds batting avg w/risp isn’t a fluke either.

    • wizeman

      truly. extremely harsh on lorenzen. watched glavine, smoltz and maddux as youngsters. not everybody like fernandez. seems to have a lot to work with.
      about 25 other teams wish they had him.

      • reaganspad

        Lorenzen is a stud and a battler, and a number 1 type starter. I do not care that he isn’t striking out 12 per start right now. He has kept us in every game and was not projected to be on the big club this time last year.

        I would add Cueto to that list Wizeman. His ERA his first year was 4.81 followed by 4.41. I remember guys saying that he would never amount to anything. Then he was 3.64 and the critics said it was a flash in the pan. then 2.31, 2.78, 2.82, 2.25 and 2.73 all in the band box that is GABP.

        Lorenzen will be fine in 2016. Shoot, he is fine in 2015

    • old-school

      I was at Homer Bailey’s debut. He battled and got a standing ovation as he exited in the 5th! Inefficient, walked too many, couldn’t pitch to contact or put away hitters or be consistent for years. But it was an exciting electric night. You have to be patient with young pitchers. Homer took years and still isn’t that elite All Star, Cy Young. Not sure he ever will be, but solid.

  20. lwblogger2

    I’m pretty much with Steve as far as what I would do. I’d listen on anyone though. I would hate to see Bruce go but honestly, with this front-office I wouldn’t be at all shocked. I think Marty B would throw a party if the Reds traded Bruce.

    I agree that a total “Blow it up” of the core would be extremely difficult and would be very hard to sell to the fans. They’d pretty much have to move Bruce AND Frazier because there is no point in keeping them if you’re on even a 3 year timetable.

    • lwblogger2

      So, actively shop: Cueto, Leake, Chapman, Parra, Byrd, Pena

      Listen on everyone else and would have to be blown away by the haul for Bruce or Frazier to move them.

  21. Mark Elliott

    Thank goodness my cousin is singing the National Anthem in late July or I may not have gone to another game this year. I’m soured on this team due to the incompetence of the front office and the mismanagement in the dugout. Kevin Gregg? Really? Then, instead of walking into the clubhouse and explaining to Kyle Skipworth what’s going on, you decide it’s better to show a newspaper reporter your Tony Montana impersonation. But the worst of all is the boneheaded handling of Devon Mesoraco’s injury and the follow up roster moves. Blow it up, clean house, let’s move on.

  22. mikemartz

    O.K. “IF” I’m Bob Castellini.

    Here’s what I tell the press…………

    I’m in my mid 70’s and have been part of MLB for 30 odd years. I’m more of a fan than an owner and knowing that my time to Host a World Series here in Cincinnati in my lifetime is growing short, I have no intentions of blowing up the Reds and starting over.

    So here’s the blueprint for the near future.

    We will try to trade away the players that we know we cannot resign in the offseason for the best possible players we can get before the trade deadline.
    If we fall short of the quality offers that we expect, we will sit on our players until the end of the season and submit qualifying offers and take the picks we receive for them in return if they refuse said offers.
    Meanwhile we’ll keep running out the young pitching we already have in our organization in order to stretch them out before next season, all the while evaluating them for the rotation next season.

    We will make a decision at the end of the season if we need to bring in a new face to lead our team in the clubhouse. While not the most popular decision with the fans of a team with a losing record, We are committed to our Manager at this time both financially and idealistically and we will continue to back his decisions to the fullest extent possible.

    We will increase payroll up to 10 % over our current contractual obligations and try to put together the best bench we can with our limited funds.

    We feel strongly that when our key players are healthy we can and will be a team to be reckoned with.


    Uncle Bob

    Yep that’s what I can imagine Bob saying!

    • ncmountie1

      OK Bob but the elephant still in the room is are you going to bring in a new “Fresh” face to lead the team outside the clubhouse?
      IMO any tweaking, rebuilding, needs to start at the top and get a guy that see’s the game as it is today, not from 20 years ago.

    • Victor Vollhardt

      To MIKEMARTZ—I know your post is meant to be sarcastic—but if you had YOUR OWN money involved and were in that age bracket this is exactly what should be said/done.

  23. vegastypo

    Nice article, Steve. Suffice to say, I’m both eager and apprehensive about what Walt and the Reds might come up with. I don’t want to “blow the team up,” but hey, if somebody wants to overpay for a core player, I hope the Reds will listen.

  24. Tom Reed

    No doubt about it, Cincinnati and the Reds put on a great All-Star show. Now back to the pennant race and the changes coming down the road.

  25. mrred55

    Has anyone thought of going back to making Chapman a starter, like he was supposed to be? If you trade Cueto AND Leake, who’s to say Chapman couldn’t be your ace, Bailey insurance if he’s slow to come back.The main problem with the Reds has been hitting with RISP, and middle relief, although better of late. Bruce has been better of late, but we’ve seen him do this before! Time to change the guard so to speak.Trade Bruce, Cue to, Leake, Byrd, and build around Frazier, Mez, Votto(unless you find a team to take him and his contract!) See if Brandon wants that ring, sooner, rather than later. Accept trade to NY, either team. Hitting philosophy needs changed! Learn to hit against the shift, better bunting, and back to aggressive base running. With a more up to date GM, who embraces WAR, and saber metrics. Walt is past his prime!

    • pinson343

      I’ve wondered about whether the Chapman situation will get re-assessed. The Reds will have a desperate need for starters in 2016. Chapman has 3 pitches, needs to improve his command of all of them, starting will help with that.

      Above all, I see Bob C. as very reluctant to let him go, and the only was he can earn his expensive keep in 2016 is as a starter.

  26. I-71_Exile

    Just read a nice cautionary tale over at SI/Grantland about the Padres new GM who has basically destroyed the team. I’d post the link, but don’t have those privileges. It made me think a little more highly of Kevin Towers by default—he did build a very nice farm system and won the Latos trade in hindsight. I wouldn’t be opposed to him taking over for Walt if that’s the direction the Reds go.

    • pinson343

      Towers did not “win” the Latos trade by any sight, hind or otherwise. Volquez did not pitch well until after being traded to the Pirates, where their remarkable pitching coach managed to help him. Grandal did not click until after being traded to the Dodgers, and we’ll never know if he ever would ever have blossomed while still with the Padres. Alonso has a .273/.341/.391 line in his Padre career, well below expectations. Boxberger pitched poorly in 49 innings for SD in 2012/2013 before being traded to Tampa Bay. He was terrific in 2014, this year has a WHIP over 1.3. Maybe a one season wonder.

      In the meantime Latos was outstanding in 2012/2013, a vital piece of the team that won the division in 2012. He was the Reds ace in 2013, no way that they make the playoffs without him. Then he fades but the Reds get Disco for him.

      In any case, the articles on what Towers did with the DBacks are scary.

      • vared

        I see what you’re saying, but I see it a little differently. Just looking at the players involved in that trade regardless of who they’re affiliated with now, the Reds gave up more talent than they acquired in my opinion. I wouldn’t discount what those former Reds are doing just because they weren’t that successful with the Padres.

      • jdx19

        Agreed, they did give up more talent than they received, but that’s what you do when you’re trying to compete NOW.

    • WVRedlegs

      X, you have your facts confused about Kevin Towers.
      Kevin Towers was busy as GM of Arizona when the Latos trade was consumated. He took a good Arizona team and reduced it to a bad team, as he did in SD. Tony LaRussa and Dave Stewart have turned around Arizona’s fortunes after firing Towers.
      Josh Byrnes was GM of SD when the Latos trade occurred.
      Kevin Towers does have one skill besides being a bad trader, “Towers was known for his ability to find talented pitchers that many other teams had released.”
      He and WJ, two birds of a feather, two peas in a pod.

      • i71_Exile

        You are absolutely correct. Thanks for clearing that up. Now I’m back to trepidatious. Thanks. Thanks a lot. 🙂

      • Bruuuuuce

        I live in AZ and follow the Dbacks about as closely as I follow the Reds. If he ever steps foot in the Cincinnati front office, I am going to have to utilize this website repeatedly: shipadick.com

        Here’s some highlights from the Towers’ era in AZ:

        – Unloaded Trevor Bauer to CLE for SS Didi Gregorius, when the Dbacks already had then SS Chris Owings in the mix.
        – Signed OF Cody Ross to a terrible contract, 3 yrs, $26M. Dbacks DFA’d him with a year left on his contract. Why? We don’t know, because we had Eaton, Pollock, Upton, AND Kubel to this point.
        – Traded Jarrod Parker (who pre-injury was doing well) AND RP Ryan Cook, for Trevor Cahill, whom the Dbacks are paying to not pitch anymore
        – Signed SP Brandon McCarthy to a 2 yr, 20M deal.
        – Traded OF Adam Eaton AND SP Tyler Skaggs for OF Mark Trumbo.

  27. pinson343

    Was driving around much of the day with mlbnetwork radio on. FWIW here’s what I heard.

    The only job in jeopardy they mentioned was Price’s.

    They reported as a fact, not rumor, that WJ has said that Frazier is the Reds only untouchable player.

    Bowden is often full of it, but in any case he said that if you check out the returns for Samardzija/Hammel and Andrew Miller last year, then Cueto can get a number 1 and a number 2 draft pick. Multiple analysts said that Leake could be a number 3 for some contending teams.

    Also talk about how eager the Nationals would be to add Chapman.

    • Tom Gray

      All due respect to you but Jim Bowden is an idiot. He showed that as Reds GM.

  28. droomac

    We may well look at the ASG as the worst thing that could have happened to the Reds in the long-run. It was great for the city and the “business side” of the team and created a bunch of social media buzz, but if it convinces Bob to pony up the money for a Chapman extension and removes the possibility that Frazier could be traded at any point in the near future, then I fear that the team would have been better off not having the ASG.

  29. Steelerfan

    Apologize if this was already posted somewhere and I missed it, but Baseball Prospectus has a 15 page article on potential Reds trade packages. Have to be a subscriber (I think) but the link is below. Good overview of potential packages.

    It was a great ASG. I’ll take having something to be happy about after everything else happening this season.


  30. Tom Gray

    I look for Reds to be well below (10+ games) .500 from 2015 through 2018 regardless of trade made or not. Cueto and Leake are gone. Maybe Chapman, too. Bailey may not fully recover. Mesoraco may not be able to C. Cozart may not be able to field at SS (to his prior level). Phillips is getting older. Votto was 6 years in MiLB now 7 or 8 years with Reds. Bruce may be traded. Frazier is the best current Red.

    • tct

      You relish pessimism the way Marty relishes RBI. I have this vision of you in front of your computer with a look of pure ecstasy on your face as you type the following words;

      “…And in 2018 Joey Votto will be eaten by a bear and Homer Bailey will suffer a disastrous lasso accident that causes his right arm to be completely torn from his flesh. The Reds will become the first team to ever go 0-162 when a cataclysmic flood washes away GABP on opening day and the Reds decide to forfeit all their games. But, then it gets worse….”