For some time now, I thought it might be a good idea to start doing a Mailbag feature here at Redleg Nation. In fact, almost two years ago, I added one of those reminders to my phone so that I wouldn’t forget that I had this great idea to start doing a mailbag feature.
Mostly, what this should tell you is that I wouldn’t know a good idea if it hit me squarely between the eyes. But having bad ideas never stopped me before. So here we go: the inaugural edition of the Incredible Amazing Incomparable Redleg Nation/Chad Dotson Mailbag Q&A and Navel-Gazing Adventure!
Before we begin, let’s set the parameters for the future of this column. First of all, these are actual questions from actual readers. You can send me questions either via email (dotsonc AT gmail DOT com) or Twitter (@redlegnation or @dotsonc). Please put “Mailbag” in the subject line of your emails, and give me your first name (or full name, if you prefer; if you don’t want me to use your name, make that clear in your email) and location. If you tweet a question to me, either reply to our occasional call for questions on Twitter or use the hashtag #RNmailbag.
In addition, feel free to ask questions that have nothing to do with the Cincinnati Reds. Most of this week’s questions are Reds-related, but don’t let that limit you. Ask me literally anything on earth. I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can, as often as I can, no matter how dumb your questions are. (I can guarantee that many of my answers will be dumb too.)
So…without further ado…let’s get this party started.
Q: HOW WILL WE EVER REPLACE THE #GRIT ?
CD: It’s true, the Gritmaster General, Skip Schumaker, is no longer a member of the Cincinnati Reds. The decision to pay Skip $5 million dollars to “hit” .238/.297/.322 over two seasons ends up being a “Caddyshack II”-level bad decision.
(Seriously, who was the executive that signed off on a second Caddyshack? Did someone say, “Hey, let’s get Jackie Mason, Robert Stack, and Dan Akroyd together and make a funny movie!”)
I don’t want to give Skip too much grief. The guy played hard for the ol’ Redlegs, and that’s all we can ask of him. What was he supposed to do, turn down the multi-million dollar contract offer? We all said from the beginning that Schumaker couldn’t play anymore, but at least we were entertained by the discussion of Schumaker’s “gritty play” as a defense to the fact that he couldn’t produce, you know, things that show up in a box score.
Really, we do wish Schumaker the best, and in a just world, he would be able to sign a new contract with St. Louis for next season. In his absence, however, I worry that there will be an absence of grit on the 2016 roster. Here are the candidates most likely to provide a little grittiness just when the Reds need it:
3. Zack Cozart. Cozart could shoot to the top of the list if the knee injury causes his defense to suffer. If that happens, Zack would check all of the primary boxes on the GRIT application: lack of talent, lots of hustle, white skin. If Zack can still play defense at the level he displayed pre-injury, however, mark him off this list. A gritty player can’t have any elite skills.
2. Michael Lorenzen. Why can’t a pitcher be gritty? I thought about John Lamb here, but Lorenzen seems grittier to me.
1. Billy Hamilton. Okay, I’m violating my rule that a gritty player can’t have any elite skills. Hamilton has some wheels. But there’s an argument to be made that Billy was the worst everyday hitter in the big leagues. He stays in the lineup only because he goes all-out on defense and, on the rare occasion he gets on base, he runs the bases with abandon.
He’ll never be described as gritty by Thom Brennaman, but it’s almost impossible to keep a job in the big leagues after hitting .226/.274/.289 over 400+ at-bats. I choose to attribute the fact that Hamilton will be a starting center fielder next year to his GRIT.
Q: Do we trade Bruce and/or Chap?
CD: Ummm…yes? No? Who knows what the Reds are going to do here. But, given yesterday’s promotion of Dick Williams to GM*, I’m kinda excited to see what path the Reds take with decisions like these. It’s been a while since I was optimistic, so this is a good thing, right?
*Today is a big day. It’s Williams’ first full day as General Manager. It’s also the beginning of my campaign to convince Williams to HIRE CHAD DOTSON. C’mon, Dick: we’re both UVa graduates, after all. You know you want to bring a fellow Wahoo on board, right? Right?
The Reds should probably trade both of them, but that’s easier said than done. Honestly, Aroldis Chapman should have been traded two years ago. While he’s great, and I love having him on the Reds, very soon he’ll cost way more than he’s worth. The guy only played 66.1 innings last year. That’s the same number of innings as Burke Badenhop pitched. Sure, Chapman was great in those innings, but since the Reds decided years ago not to make him a starter, he’ll always be more valuable as a trade asset than he is on the field.
A lot of people were clamoring for him to be traded at this year’s trade deadline. I would have been fine with that, if Jocketty had been able to get a decent return for him, but it didn’t upset me that he wasn’t dealt — and you have to admit that Jocketty made a bunch of good decisions regarding trades over the last twelve months. The Reds were justified in waiting until the off-season, when every team could conceivably be in on the discussions, rather than just the two or three teams that were looking for a closer at the trade deadline.
Bruce is a thornier issue. Right now, he’s probably underpaid. We can argue about his production — and I’ve got plenty to say on that topic, believe me — but he’s playing on a team friendly contract right now, and the Reds have control of him through the 2017 season. That contract might make him more attractive to potential suitors, but the Reds also have to have someone play right field the next two years. If they truly think this is a little mini-reboot, instead of a multi-year rebuilding effort, the Reds may choose to hang onto to Bruce.
Will either of these guys be on the roster of the next good Reds team? Probably not, if I had to bet.
Q: Watching the Royals play smart baseball and making the correct adjustments, how many years do Reds fans have to wait for the same thing to happen here? Also why don’t the Reds hire former Red Dave Collins to be Billy Hamilton’s mentor? Collins led off, fast, stole bases, could bunt and a switch hitter. Who else is better fit? Also how can the Reds get a huge TV deal when they are not going to be truly playoff ready for 5 years? If I was Foxsports I would not give them a deal like the Cardinals, Cubs or Pirates would get. Will Reds fans be blamed for the team not fixing this mess when Reds fans refuse to spend money on tickets to watch a last place team?
CD: At some point, someone decided to write a comic book about zombies. Then, all of a sudden, every single stupid movie and television show has to have zombies in it. There’s always the urge to mimic what someone else did successfully.
Should the Reds mimic what the Royals have done? Yes, absolutely: if the Reds can get their hands on an ample supply of the same Devil Magic (TM) that the Royals used to win the World Series this year, they should use the savings from the Aroldis Chapman trade to buy as much as they can.
If that’s not possible, I guess the question is whether the Reds should undergo the same nine-year “process” that Royals GM Dayton Moore used to get the Royals to the promised land? I doubt Reds fans are ready for that kind of wait. Perhaps the organization will try the Kansas City Model, whatever that is; I’d prefer they use the Houston Astros approach. More likely, instead of going all in on either method, they’ll pick and choose what they think works here. This is an inexact science.
As for the question about the TV deal, one thing that skews in the Reds’ favor is that local television ratings have been very good. Will ratings continue to be good if the Reds continue to decline? Almost certainly, that answer is no. But I’d expect the Reds to be able to secure a pretty good TV deal, and I think many of the player personnel decisions of the last few years have depended on that assumption.
Also, I really hate talking about things like TV deals and budgets. And I really hate talking about The Walking Dead.
Q: What are the Reds doing to help Billy Hamilton improve offensively?
CD: Every time Hamilton hits one in the air, he owes Bryan Price twenty push-ups.*
*Has anyone watched “Major League” recently? Does it hold up?
I don’t know what to tell you about Hamilton. My little league batting average was comparable to Hamilton’s 2015 numbers, so I’m the wrong guy to ask. In terms of player development, however, fixing Billy has to be Cincinnati’s number one priority. Hamilton is only going to be 25 next year. If they could get the guy to hit the ball on the ground — and he did not improve at all in this area between his first and second full seasons in the big leagues — he might actually be an average hitter. Combine that with his defense and baserunning, and you have an All-Star on your hands all of a sudden.
That’s asking a lot, I know. Maybe the Reds should just hire Dave Collins away from his local beer league softball team to work with Hamilton. Now that I think about it, Collins did have grit.
Q: Will Corey Patterson bat lead-off for the Nationals next season?
CD: Aaah, even after seven years, Corey Patterson/Dusty Baker jokes are still funny. Jim Carrey wishes his act had aged so well.
Q: Should Andy Dalton play left field?
CD: Yes. He did hit a home run at Great American Ballpark last year (in the All-Star Celebrity Softball game), and that’s more than we can say about most Reds left fielders of the last five years.
Of course, after Dalton wins the MVP this season, he’ll be priced out of the Reds’ range. Besides, why would he want to come back to GAB after some of you guys booed him at that softball game? You gotta feel bad for the guy: four playoff appearances, one division title…and he gets booed. Yes, he’s winless in the playoffs. Have we forgotten the dark ages of Bengals football so quickly?
Who am I kidding? This is Cincinnati! There is a sizable portion of the fan base that doesn’t like Joey Votto. The same Votto who is one of the five best hitters in the world, and who led the Reds to two division titles and three total playoff appearances before he turned 30. But Votto and the Reds have a Dalton-esque playoff record, so…
Cincinnati sports are the best.
Anyway, if we’re looking to other local sports to fill the hole in left field, Dalton’s a strong choice. Also:
–AJ Green: Imagine Green and Hamilton covering ground in the outfield together. They’d be perfect together. Butch and Sundance. Starsky and Hutch. Thelma and Louise. Drake and Sully. Me and my sweet beard*. Heck, the Reds could trade Bruce, since they’d only need two outfielders.
*I lied. I shaved my beard last week.
–Matt Stainbrook: He’s not hooping for Xavier anymore, and he’s not driving an Uber (as far as I know), so perhaps left field? Stainbrook has a unique look — sort of a mix between Adam Dunn, Dmitri Young, and that villain from The Incredibles — that will make him a fan favorite. And it hardly matters if he can play baseball, because that hasn’t been a prerequisite for the position in recent years.
–George Foster, local autograph signer: Foster is always hanging around the ballyard anyway, and I think he has a little experience playing left field.
Q: Will there ever be a salary cap and will ticket prices ever be more affordable like years ago?
CD: No and no. Baseball’s revenues keep growing year after year. We’re never going back.
Q: Is Homer on schedule? Will he be ready for spring?
CD: All reports are that Homer’s rehab is progressing nicely, but don’t hold your breath hoping he’ll be ready for spring training. There’s a chance — Bailey has been throwing without pain — but the Reds won’t going to push him too much. They’ll take it slow.
It’s not unreasonable to think Homer could be back early in the 2016 season, however. Getting him back is likely one of the big cogs in Jocketty’s plans for a “reboot.” Tossing Homer in the mix with those rookie pitchers (especially Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani) gives Cincinnati a shot at a decent rotation over the next few years.
Q: Bigger fan of #jogtoast or #greenhat?
CD: Clearly, #greenhat. I mean, #jogtoast was funny, but the green hat meme has had real staying power.
For those of you who aren’t on Twitter, here’s a tweet from former Reds beat writer John Fay:
Bruce will jog toast and take batting practice with team. #reds
Ã¢â‚¬â€ John Fay (@johnfayman) May 13, 2014
Fay is legendary on Twitter for his typos, and this was the best of them. Fay is also legendary for engaging with his followers, and answering the dumbest questions you can imagine. One night, he must have gotten twenty questions about why the Reds were wearing green hats. Ever since, wisecrackers on twitter dot com have gotten a kick out of asking Fay about green hats.
Fay just left the Enquirer, and he’s now writing for WCPO.com. We wish him the best, not just for all the Reds copy over the years, but for the jog toast and green hats, too.
Okay, that’s all for today. Until next time, send in those questions…and if you know Dick Williams, tell him that he really needs to HIRE CHAD DOTSON immediately.