The Reds have gone full rebuild this winter, looking to deal a number of big names for younger, cheaper talent. Thank God. They tried to unload Aroldis Chapman until an alleged domestic violence issue came to light. They successfully dealt Todd Frazier and agreed to trade Brandon Phillips to the Nationals if #DatDudeBP would have only waived his no trade clause. The Reds may have a few minor pieces left to deal, but the last big name they would likely trade is Jay Bruce.

But after seeing what the Reds got in return for Frazier, I’m wondering whether trading Bruce right now is a good idea. Jose Peraza may indeed turn out to be a good player, but he has some serious question marks, more question marks than you would expect from the main piece in the Frazier trade. How many more shortcomings will the main return piece for Bruce have?

Bruce is coming off of two poor seasons. In 2014, he was clearly injured. We have video of his awkward, upper body only swing. In 2015, Bruce had one of the strangest seasons I can remember. He had terrible results for the first six weeks of the season. Then, for over two and a half months, Bruce was a top five hitter in the league, slashing .307/.376/.568 from May 16th until August 2nd. From that point until the end of the season, Bruce inexplicably fell into one of the worst slumps of his career (.173/.214/.345), causing me great internal anguish (Why would he do this to me?).

After those two seasons, what would another team be willing to give up to acquire Bruce? If the Reds were the team trading for a guy like Bruce, coming off of seasons where he produced -0.9 WAR (2014) and 0.1 WAR (2015), we would crucify the front office for giving away solid prospects, let alone elite ones.

And there’s the problem: Bruce may not be worth trading at this point. It’s not like the Reds have young outfielders with tremendous potential knocking down the door to take Bruce’s place in right field.  He likely won’t bring back much in terms of prospects. Should the Reds trade him simply to get his money off the books? They certainly aren’t going to use that extra money to buy a high profile free agent this offseason. With Cueto, Leake, Frazier, and potentially Phillips gone, how much more money do they really need to save?

If the Reds get a good offer for Bruce with a legitimate prospect or two, I have no problem with trading him. In fact, that’s what they should probably do. If they don’t get that offer though, if the return doesn’t yield talent that will likely help the Reds win in the future, they shouldn’t just give him away.

That’s not to say that Bruce is a long-term piece either. The Reds should consider giving their much maligned right fielder the opportunity to build his value back up this season. Last July, the Mets were willing to part with Zack Wheeler, a big time pitching prospect, for Bruce. Even though Wheeler was coming off of Tommy John surgery, he was a hefty price to pay for the Reds right fielder. But Bruce was toward the end of his strong three month stretch. He looked like a difference maker at the time. The deal didn’t happen, and Bruce fell apart.

If Bruce can show some of the talent that made him a very good player from 2010-2013, the Reds may be able to extract some real value for him at the trade deadline or before in 2016. He still has a club option for 2017, which would give any receiving club an extra year of control if they wanted. Another Wheeler type prospect would go a long way to rebuilding the club and making the Reds contenders again.

Heading into his age 29 season, Bruce could easily have several years of good baseball left in him. Based on what we know of aging curves, he should be in the prime of his career, though some players peek early.

Bruce could struggle again, further weakening his value. But if the Reds aren’t getting much in return for him now, it doesn’t really matter. The risk is worth the potential reward. Rebuilding is most importantly about acquiring young, controllable talent and not merely getting rid of players who have been around a while.

If the Reds want to minimize the amount of time they spend losing, they need to be smart about when they trade players of value. They likely should have traded both Frazier and Bruce last July. After receiving a package full of question marks for Frazier, right now may not be the time to unload Jay Bruce.

150 Responses

  1. Bill

    I’m not sure you could get much value for him at this point. Either hold onto him with the hope he can show the last two years were not the real Jay Bruce and then trade him at the deadline. Or if the Reds think he is worth keeping try giving him the extension he wanted a couple of years ago but at a lower AAV than he is getting now.

    • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

      If I were the Reds even with a good first half or good full season I would seriously question whether it was the turning point in his career or if this is just an anamoly in an otherwise strange career.

  2. james garrett

    I don’t know what to do with Bruce either.I am a big fan of his and hoped he finally was getting it last year when he got his average up to 260 with his OBP to 346 but he fell off a cliff after that.He still plays at least average defense but he must take his walks and go the other way on a consistent basis to be worth his current contract and get an extension in my opinion.I am with BILL lets see if he can have a good first half and see what offers we may get.I could see him being a part of the future based on his age but he has to show it on the field.In this day and age its hard to part with an outfielder that has a power bat but it may come down to that especially since he was shopped at the break last year.

  3. Jim t

    The market for Bruce will not heat up until After players like Upton,Gordon and Cepedis are off the FA market. Teams that can afford Bruce and have a need for a outfielder can sign one of those 3 without giving up players. Hanging on to Bruce will be determined by the outcome of those 3.

      • Jim t

        Not a problem Nick. At 62 I have seen a few more off season then you.

      • Victor Vollhardt

        Mr. Carrington’s article has covered all the bases on the Jay Bruce situation and with what I believe are the correct conclusions. As to the current outfield market Jim t’s point is also correct ,but there are other teams (Dodgers for one who might even add money in their deal) that could supply outfielders in this off season. Mr. Bruce is still young and being paid under the market as it now stands. He has also spoken on many occasions of how bad he feels about the results of his play. He wants to be better and I believe he will put in the effort to get better. It may not work out but I believe there is a better. than a 50/50 chance that he can turn his numbers around and even if that doesn’t work his outfield play makes the young pitching staff better. Unless some team comes up with a tremendous offer–the Reds are better off keeping Bruce–now and even through the next two seasons.

    • Michael E

      Good point Jim and after the so-so (not bad, but not quite what we hoped) return for Frazier by trying to hurry some kind of move, maybe waiting till just before Spring Training or even during it might be best…or even into the season.

  4. i71_Exile

    Keep him. All you mentioned, the Reds don’t have a plethora of OF prospects beating the doors down and his value is at low ebb. Jay has a long stretch of positive results from last year that with some diligent film study could be repeated.

    • VaRedsFan

      How come he didn’t do that film study back then, when things suddenly changed.

      • i71_Exile

        I don’t know. Sometimes a person has to hit rock bottom before the scales fall from their eyes? There are lots of mysteries in baseball. I look at Joey Votto, an excellent but unspectacular talent who is able to better his hitting ability through sheer determination and attention to detail and yet the players around him seem to take no notice and keep doing their thing.

        ProTip: do what Joey does.

      • jdx19

        Yep. This has been one of the most curious things about this Reds team since Votto came up… why have no other players tried to mimic Votto? Perhaps it is one of those “much harder than it looks” situations. Or perhaps pro athletes are over-confident and pig-headed, thinking “Hey, I got here myself! Why mimic another guy?”

        Likely we’ll never know!

      • greenmtred

        I think that mimicing Votto is much harder than it looks. There’s a narrative about guys like Votto, Pete Rose and, for that matter, Larry Bird, that they become great because of application more than raw talent. That narrative, in my view, fails to recognize one or more facets of raw talent. It isn’t just running, jumping, eyesight and so on: If it were, a whole lot of people who aren’t would be professional athletes. If Jay (and most other hitters) could be Joey, they would. But, talented as they are, they can’t. I doubt that they’re lazy–they wouldn’t have gotten this far if they were.

      • lwblogger2

        I agree with what GREENMTRED said. There are a lot of things that are hard to measure as far as talent is concerned. When it comes to hitting a baseball, the most important thing I think is the ability to recognize what a pitch is doing as it is coming in. It is a nearly impossible task and it is a unique skill that is very hard to measure. I worked as hard as anyone to not swing at pitches outside the strikezone and guess what? I still swung at pitches outside the zone. There were holes in my swing that I knew existed but couldn’t fix. There is only so much that raw athletic talent and hard work can do and it shows up more in hitting a baseball than anywhere else. You can talk to Joey, mimic Joey the best you can, but no matter how gifted physically, you’ll only improve so far. There is one Joey Votto. There is one Pete Rose. They both have the gift of being able to tell what a pitch is doing and anticipate where and when it will arrive into their hitting zone, if at all.

        Yes, Rose and Votto were/are tireless workers too. That certainly helped them be even better. That said, that pitch recognition is more key than anything else and is a talent as inborn as any of the more easily measured physical tools.

      • jdx19

        I certainly agree there is only one Votto, but even if a person can’t make themselves recognize pitches more accurately, they could learn from Votto’s study of sequencing and film study. If you are more confident that a pitcher will throw a slider in a certain count and a certain situation, you might (over the course of a season) have more slightly more success.

        My point was more along the lines of “everyone could probably improve their OBP by 10 to 20 points” rather than “everyone could be Joey Votto.”

        Maybe they already do those things… maybe those 10-20 points are already being realized. Who knows!

      • Chuck Schick

        There are 7 billion people on Earth and perhaps 1,500 of us have the ability to hit MLB pitching. To put things in perspective, there are more billionaires (1,650) than people likely capable of hitting .200 or better. It’s easier to become Warren Buffet than Adam Duvall.

        Perhaps more film study, batting practice can fix Bruce. Perhaps injuries have temporarily impacted him or he has unfixable flaws that pitchers have figured out…who knows. It’s difficult to determine why someone isn’t as good as they once were at something that is virtually impossible to do.

        Bruce was a very good player when on good teams. Perhaps he’s adversely affected by losing. Joe Morgan was a very good player for a bad Astros team and one of the greatest players ever on the BRM. Tony Perez was a great
        ” clutch” player….he also likely came to bat with RISP more than any player in history. There are hundreds of variables that impact production. Some are controllable, some aren’t. Bruce may just simply be what he is now…or he can improve. Who knows.

  5. Brian

    The OF market and overall FA market is not nearly as strong next year as it is this year. The Reds would likely get more in return for Bruce if they wait until the deadline or even next year.

    However, the caveat to this is that there might be a team willing to deal prospects vs. over paying for Upton, Gordon, Cespedis, etc. and if there is a team willing to “over pay” for Bruce right now then you have to do it. Plus “over paying” in prospects for Bruce is likely still cheaper than what it would cost in prospects to acquire CarGo. I just question whether that team exists.

    I would look at teams like the Angels, Giants, Orioles (depending on Davis situation) who have stated publicly that they don’t have the $ to sign these big name free agents but clearly have a hole in the OF right now and could use a LH bat.

    I personally would like to see Bruce traded this offseason to continue with the re-build and give Yorman, Schebler, Cave, Duvall, Waldrop, eventually Winker and Ervin a chance and to see what sticks in the OF for the future. But again it would have to be for the right price and in my eyes it would be a team “over paying” for Bruce right now still based on future potential to avoid paying the bigger FA’s still out there.

    • Dave

      Even with his poor performance the last 2 years he is better than any player you would like to see given a chance above. He is also not that much older than them.

      • Michael E

        You sound so sure. I sure don’t. Bruce isn’t anything special. He is a replacement level player. Some of the older OFs (Schebler, Duvall) could easily replicate his pedestrian 2015 (and 2014) with more consistency (albeit less scorching hot streak).

      • jdx19

        He “has been” a replacement level player. That is very different from BEING a replacement level player.

      • Michael E

        His slow downward career arch suggests he has made it to average OF now. Oh sure, he can still belt 30 HRs, but the rest of his abilities are quite mediocre (at best). In 600+ PAs, 30 HRs alone only move the needle so much.

        I admit he could recover back to an above average (good) OF, but I wouldn’t bet a penny on it watching his hitting approach the past two years. He looks overwhelmed 450 PAs out of 600

  6. WVRedlegs

    Keep Bruce. I mentioned in the other thread, no reason to rush a decision to trade him. Would be selling very low. I think we’ll see more of that May-Aug. Bruce.
    I’d also propose to go get an affordable OF in Seth Smith ($6.8M in ’16, $7M option in ’17) from Seattle to play LF vs. RH pitching, and give Duvall and YorRod some AB’s vs. LH pitching. Seattle has a very crowded OF now. Smith is a doubles machine, sort of like Votto. His stats can only increase at GABP as compared to Safeco Field.

    • Chuck Schick

      He’s a nice player with a reasonable contract….Seattle isn’t going to give him away so do you trade cost controlled prospects/pitchers for a guy who helps you lose 96 games instead of 99 over the next 2 years at the expense of having younger cheaper players in 2018?

      Even if you offer Jay Bruce straight up…why would Seattke take a player who is twice as expensive and offers about the same production?

      • WVRedlegs

        The Reds should start to weed out some of their pitching depth. They all can’t go to the bullpen or AAA. The Cardinals do this rather well. Pick out the ones they want to keep and trade off some that can bring back a missing piece.
        The Reds did this with Leake and Travis Wood. They pretty much had the same type of pitcher in both. They settled on Leake and dealt Wood for a missing piece.
        In their pitching depth they have some very similar type pitchers. The Reds team situation is a bit different now than it was when they traded Wood, but a similar concept could be used. Trade from your redundancy, your surplus or extra depth.
        And also, Smith can be a perfect Epstein Flip candidate in 2016 or 2017 that can bring back prospects where at you might be thin.
        Just a thought. And my earlier prediction of Cody Reed going to be an integral part in 2016 and make it very tough on Bryan Price not to place him on the 25 man roster coming out of spring training is gaining some traction. That could make one of the other pitchers a little more expendable too. From Price’s comments the other day, he loves Cody Reed.

  7. ohiojimw

    Bruce’s bWAR was 5.3 in 2013; that’s the same as Frazier in 2014 and better than Frazier in 2015. After JB’s big negative WAR in the injury season, he got just back above water (0.8) in 2015. I see 2016 as a bell weather year for him.

    I agree the outfielder market is not going to be defined until there are more signings near the top of the table.

    If somebody make a really big offer on Bruce. ie the type many were expecting for Frazier, take it; but, otherwise hold.

    • Michael E

      Very optimistic of you, and perhaps he just needed TWO full years to get over an injury. If that is the case, then we can surely get quite a bit more at the trade deadline than now. Also, if he DOES bust out into .275+ BA, 34HR and 100 RBIs, suddenly we won’t be able to extend or sign him cheaply, so either way, trading makes the most sense. Especially since he has NOT be a model of consistency at all. I’d hate to see a 5 year extension at $20 per and then we get the streaky Bruce that is more ice cold than red hot.

      • ohiojimw

        Steve Mancuso posted the following about WAR value in this thread:

        $12 million = 1.5 WAR on the open market. Teams are using $8 million as the number to evaluate the worth of 1 WAR in trades/signings.

        Take out the just the injury year and Bruce is a career 2.4 annual WAR guy. Take out the injury year and 2015 and he jumps to 2.6 WAR a year.

        So he would be pretty much right on value at $20M per annum even if he gets there in streaks.

      • ohiojimw

        Oops! Steve may have been talking WAR value for starting pitchers. I think it maybe is a little lower for position players. Maybe more in the range of $5M-8m. But even then Bruce would not be grossly overpaid at $20M for his career mean annual WAR rate.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The $8 million figure is WAR in general, hitters and pitchers. But it only should be used as a starting point for calculations going forward. $/WAR increases each year, with salary inflation. That means it was less than $8 million in the years when Jay Bruce won the Silver Slugger, for example. And it will likely be $9 million by the time Bruce reaches free agency or would sign an extension. By the time Joey Votto reaches the end of his contract, $25 million will be less than 2 WAR.

        Reminder of this post from April. https://redlegnation.com/2015/04/20/the-value-of-players/

      • Michael E

        Fair enough, but for $8 million per WAR gamble, Bruce’s inconsistency and inability to correct flaws make that a near-lock as a POOR choice to extend or sign him to a $20 million/per contract based on 2.5 WAR. Others disagree. I would trade him before then (hopefully after a hot streak this coming June) and let another team and GM take that especially high risk chance.

      • Mister D69

        “Take out the injury year and 2015 and he jumps to 2.6 WAR a year.”

        Why take out 2015? I wouldn’t even take out 2014 (he said he was fine!), but OK. But if you are going to take out the bad year(s), how about taking out a good year or two (if you can remember that far back). Do that and, poof, he’s back down to, I don’t know, 2.0 WAR? Probably less.

        Considering 2015 (and/or 2014) anomalous is just wishful thinking. It’s not smart.

  8. WVRedlegs

    Leake goes to the Cards. This off-season just gets wierder and wierder.

    • ohiojimw

      yep. I was hoping it would be LAD for Leake both because he apparently wanted to stay out west and also that would have largely kept him out of NL Central based conversations.

    • lwblogger2

      5 years and $80-Million is an overpay for Leake in my opinion, and I like him. Originally, I thought if he could be had at 4 years and $56-$60 million. Glad that he signed for more but thinking the Cards may not get great value out of this one.

      • Jeff

        What is the going rate for WAR for pitchers right now. IF he can average 2.5 WAR over the 5 years then he just signed for 6.4mil per WAR. That doesn’t seem out of line nor does it seem too impossible for a guy from ages 28 to 33.

        I am surprised he got that much but it doesn’t seem too far out of line.

      • jdx19

        Free agent $/WAR is closer to $8M, if you put any weight into what FanGraphs is using.

        Leake is probably a decent bet to put up 8-10 WAR over the next 5 years. A league-average innings-eater is certainly worth more than they used to be!

      • lwblogger2

        The pundits, for the most part, seem to agree with you. The years were a problem to me but yes, he is a young free-agent. I don’t know.

        My dad thinks the Reds could have kept him at that price and has declared the Reds won’t ever spend money again. I’m wondering what they’ll do with all the money they are saving?

      • ohiojimw

        Leake probably wouldn’t have come back to Cincy unless they were the only reasonable offer on the table or unless they were sky high over everybody else.

        Bridges seemed to be burned this time last year when Leake was ready to talk a deal with the Reds but they only had eyes for acting like they could play in the deep end and stay in the running for Cueto.

      • jdx19

        LW, I’m hoping they are ‘saving’ the money to make a big splash in the 2018 free agent market. It will have the following players available:

        Machado
        Donaldson
        Gordon
        Heyward
        Harper
        McCutchen
        Pollack
        Price (if he opts out)
        Kershaw
        Fernandez
        Harvey
        Kuechel
        S. Miller
        Quintana
        Kimbrel
        Rosenthal
        A. Miller

        Not to mention tons of role players.

      • Michael E

        I am with you JDX, though I would guess half those will be extended or traded/extended before they become FAs.

        Still, I’d rather them find some way to jettison Phillips and Bruce (for something decent) and really get the payroll right so they can supplement the dozen cheap young players that will be on the roster in two years with a couple of mid-high FA signings or ONE big FA signing.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        I would have definitely paid that money to Leake. I would have definitely giving Homer’s contract to Leake before Homer. If we are going to get a pitcher this off-season, it was going to be a pitcher like Leake. Not unless there is still one out there we can get, our starting pitching staff is pretty much going to be the same this year as last year. Which means. . .get ready for another poor season. What gets me is, I can understand another poor season.

        But, if we are going to be poor, let’s get rid of the high priced contracts. We are doing such a poor job with that, it’s ridiculous. With Bruce, paying for his potential rather than paying for what he has done. Overpaying for BP. Getting locked in for too much for Votto, not long enough for Frazier, Devin, and Cueto.

        Also, FA’s, where are they? Byrd, one year. Choo, one year. All other FA’s were only fillers, role players. No higher profile FA signings. Talking ones like Zobrist.

        Trades? The last couple, pretty much payroll dumps and to get something for them before losing them to FA; I was glad to get a couple of prospects out of them, though. Rolen, though I believe was a smart one to trade, still only had 1-2 good years left in him when we traded for him. I believe we “overpaid” for Latos, even when we traded for him (only unless he became something like a 20 game winner for us). I still don’t understand why we traded for Marshall, even at the time of the trade. I can understand the Broxton trade, even though then Walt should never have caved to Baker, then, and made Chapman part of the main roster, where Baker used him as the closer. I still don’t make that trade, period. We had a decent to good relieving core without Broxton and Marshall. It’s not like we needed them. And, they took a lot of payroll. I did like the Cueto trade.

        The more I watch this FO make moves, the more I am not impressed. They don’t sign any significant FA’s. They get stuck out of any significant trades, by either asking for too much, taking too much time, or something (they should have gotten permission from BP to waive the no-trade clause before they ever talked to the Nats about trading for him). They get caught in losing 4 starting pitchers inside a year, but then replace them with all rookies. Give a major contract to a pitcher (Bailey) who had one good season and one decent season, out of 7 relatively full seasons, while letting another pitcher (Leake) just as good as he (Bailey) is go to a division rival for less money. I just hope they are putting some more emphasis on developing the minor league system. Something like what I believe Krivsky and Obrien were working for.

        So far, from what I see, our starting pitching is going to be the same as the second half of last season. And, so far, from what I see, our offense isn’t going to be much better, either. The only thing we wouldn’t hear about is any resources going toward adding more and/or better minor league instructors to get those players developed and moved up.

  9. Scot Lykins

    I believe the Reds are trying to trade bruce. His contract is the issue. Just not worth the contract he carries.

    • lwblogger2

      So you’re fine with very low return as long as the Reds get his money off the books? I am a Bruce fan but could get on board with that assuming the Reds spend wisely. Honestly though, I think the Reds need to hold onto him and hope he can build a little value back.

    • jdx19

      If you believe Bruce will bounce back, even slightly, from last year his contract is perfectly reasonable. $12M per year isn’t much anymore. Better get accustomed to our new hyper-inflationary sport! 😉

      Based on what teams are paying in free agency, Bruce really only would have to accumulate 3 WAR over 2 seasons. If he’s healthy, odds are good he’ll do that, even though last year doesn’t help us out in that belief.

      • Steve Mancuso

        $12 million = 1.5 WAR on the open market. Teams are using $8 million as the number to evaluate the worth of 1 WAR in trades/signings.

      • jdx19

        Yep. So 3 WAR over the next 2 seasons “earns” his contract (ignoring the option).

      • Tom Diesman

        So Mr Average in baseball now earns $16M dollars and looks something like this:

        Hitter: .254/.317/.405/.721
        SP: 4.11 ERA 1.30 WHIP
        RP: 3.71 ERA 1.29 WHIP

        Assuming of course that the cantankerous defensive metrics view them as an average fielder as well of course.

      • Michael E

        I agree, and his contract might even be a bargain, IF he bounces back. I doubt anyone posting on RLN would want to gamble much on that happening. A partial recovery to .250 90 30 90 seems more likely and that is now tradeable for a good prospect. I still don’t think keeping Bruce makes ANY sense, especially if the $20 per year type deal is the only way to keep him. There are more consistent hitters (and some that might be on the way from minors/trades/draft) that will be available for that kind of BIG money and tying it up in a hitter that struggles to maintain a decent average seems silly, even with the 30 HR power threat. The lack of average hurts the rest of his numbers, especially 2Bs, runs and RBIs.

  10. Hotto4Votto

    On the one hand, the Reds **could** have a bit of a logjam in the OF. Rodriguez and Cave have to stick on the 25-man roster. Add Bruce and Hamilton to that and the Reds only have room for one more OF option, if they plan on keeping some semblance of roster balance. Adam Duvall has one more option year, I believe, and the Reds just went out an got Schebler, who would offer a strong platoon option next year for either Rodriguez or Duvall in LF.

    This situation is easily eliminated in a number of ways. Schebler or Duvall could remain in AAA, Cave could be returned, or Hamilton could still be optioned to sort out his hitting (although extremely unlikely). Or Bruce could be traded to open up a spot.

    If the returns for Bruce are underwhelming, then I agree with those who suggest allowing him the first half of next year to regain some trade value. If the return is something that will add to the team in future, even if it’s a ways away, then I say make the trade and let the young OF’ers take over the playing time.

    We really do need to sort out the OF picture in the next year or so, and having time to evaluate the pieces we have now, will help when other pieces arrive such as Winker, Waldrop, and Ervin.

    Questions I would like to see explored further this season:

    CF: Will Hamilton ever hit or get on base enough to be a viable option as an every day player? Would giving up on switch-hitting help? Could he be used in a platoon?

    Is Jake Cave a platoon option for Hamilton? Will Cave hit enough moving forward to warrant a spot as a useful bench option? Would Rodriguez be better served as a CF where his decent power potential would play up?

    RF: If Bruce is traded, is Rodriguez the future in RF? Will he hit enough to be an every day option? Will Schebler’s weak arm limit him to LF, and if so, does Winker move to RF if Schebler’s bat is legit? With both being LH it would be harder to use Schebler as a platoon option if he is largely relegated to LF unless Winker can play RF.

    LF: Will Duvall’s bat make up for what is likely to be below average defense in LF? Will Duvall get his K’s down to a reasonable number so that his power won’t be negated? Would a platoon of Rodriguez and Schebler be the best option for LF in 2016?

    • ohiojimw

      The sad part is that in all your scenarios and what ifs, aside from Winker there is not a single guy who clearly projects to ever be as good as Jay Bruce has been (and might still be for several years).

      The building blocks for the pitching appear to be on site; and, it is just a matter of putting things together. However, aside from Winker, the job hasn’t even gotten started in the OF.

      • redmountain

        I know he has still not recovered, or returned to the form he showed, but many are forgetting Ervin. He is capable of playing all three positions in the OF and is able to get on base. If he were to begin in AA and tear it up like he is capable, he could also figure into this next season. I do not believe that Duvall can make this club unless we are going down the Boesch hole. Yorman will be on the club, although it is just as likely he will be lost to waivers or trade. I do not pay a whole lot of attention to who is “supposed” to be a stud in preseason ratings. Guys appear and disappear off this list all the time. No one can predict what someone will do until they make it to the majors.

      • greenmtred

        And it’s worth considering that a team, such as the Reds, which relies so heavily on pitching, can scarcely afford to fill the outfield with guys who can’t field well.

      • ohiojimw

        If Bruce stays, to start the season, it is most likely going to be either YRod or Duvall in a LF platoon with Schebler. That’s assuming Hamilton is physically capable of play CF. YRod and Schebler are supposedly at least average defensively, Duvall a ???. Duvall and Schebler both could be optioned; YRod is out of options.

    • ohiojimw

      The first hurdle and question about Hamilton is can hen still throw well enough to be a CF? After all the mixup and confusion about which shoulder he had surgery on, he confirmed at RedsFest that it was indeed his throwing (right) shoulder.

      • reaganspad

        Hamilton needs time at AAA

        trading Super Todd is a free pass to allow him to learn the game at AAA versus having him press at the ML level.

        This injury may be the best thing to ever happen to Billy

      • jdx19

        What is magic about AAA? What can he do at AAA that he cannot do in the majors? The Reds aren’t competing any time soon… why not let Hamilton work on the issue in the bigs where there is the best competition? Learning to be a good AAA hitter means you are a… good AAA hitter.

        Hamilton is a Top 3 defensive CF and the most valuable base runner in MLB. His hitting is atrocious, but at his pay-level, he’s an EXTREMELY valuable major league asset, providing millions in surplus value.

      • ohiojimw

        I don’t disagree but do you really think that if Hamilton is physically capable of playing anywhere it won’t be Cincy/ MLB

      • Hotto4Votto

        One could argue that Hamilton has been overwhelmed by MLB starting pitching, and coming off of surgery, could use a safer environment to allow him to work on some things in his game where he is further out from the public spotlight. Hamilton could likely use a little confidence at the plate, time to rebuild strength in his shoulder, and place he is able to try new approaches at the plate.

        The silver lining, is that optioning Hamilton to AAA delays his ARB eligibility which means he is cost-controlled further into the future. If he does figure a few things out, then he’s ready to contribute, still in his prime, when the Reds are ready to compete again.

      • jdx19

        I dunno, Hotto, I usually don’t buy the “delicate flower” argument. If he’s nervous and can’t perform at the MLB level, I don’t think he’d have ever made it in the first place. I’m a firm believer that a player can work on whatever he needs to work on at the MLB level against real competition and he’ll be better for it in the end.

        Now, of course, the possibility exists that Hamilton just does not have the physical or mental skills needed to succeed as a MLB hitter… not everyone does. If that’s the case, his value is entirely tied up in defense and baserunning, which are skills that peak early and begin to decline, so if that’s the case we might as well get the value from Billy while it still exists.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I don’t think anyone called him a delicate flower, or mentioned nerves. There are reasons why players work on things in the batting cages, or pregame. They want to hone skills to use in a game. The minor leagues is like a super long practice where development holds sway over actual game results.

        What I meant by the spotlight comment, was that he will be out of the public eye. Now the Reds likely won’t win a lot of game next year. It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try to win some games. If Hamilton has certain approaches he is working on, but the game situation calls for something else, therein lies a rub. If he does what the situation calls for, he has less opportunity to work on the things he’s trying to improve upon. This won’t always be the case, but it will happen.

        Minor league games will matter even less than the Reds games. The minors are for development. Hamilton needs more development as he obviously wasn’t ready to come to Majors, and only regressed offensively in his 2nd year. Working on things at this level isn’t working.

        And what may be worse, is that he’s flailing in front of hundreds of thousands of people on a regular basis. The book is being written on him, and so is public perception, and other team’s perception. Not that it’s accurate or fair all the time, but that’s reality. His value is dropping because everyone and their mother can see he’s in over his head at this level.

        Let him get away, clear his head, and get to work in an environment that is more conducive to it.

      • reaganspad

        JDX, good question but I think that Hotto nails it. Billy needs to work out his swing after injury.

        If he does moving forward, the time in AAA will help the team with his contract long term.

  11. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Is it the time? Yes. But, that’s the thing. There is so much more that goes into it. For instance, what has held up so many trades before. Do we have what the other team wants? Are they willing to give up what we want? Can all parties involved cross the t’s and dot the i’s? Like with BP, it was apparently about an extension to the current contract. Or, like with BP and Homer several years ago, I believe it was about us asking for too much at the time.

    It is the time? Yes. But, will it happen? I don’t think so.

  12. BMBLUE

    They screwed themselves so bad by not trading people on the deadline last year. And for what? They knew they weren’t in contention. I just doesn’t make any sense to me why they shot themselves in the foot on Chapman, Bruce, and Frazier. All saw value plummet since the deadline.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      My understanding is that Bruce was on his way to the Mets for Wheeler until Castellini said ‘no.’ I also think Castellini may have been the one pushing for BP to get the extension that he received. Castellini needs to defer to the GM since they know better what makes sense for the ballclub over the long haul. I know he holds the moneybag, but he is far from an expert on what it takes to construct a competitive team for the long-term – e.g. the impact of aging curves, maximizing and using player value to continually improve the team and lineup construction. He is too caught in the short-term perceptions of the casual fan.

  13. reaganspad

    OK, here I go again for the umteenth time. Jay Bruce has a 40 hr season in him. I thought that was going to be 2014, then he hurt his knee. I do not believe that he was 100% last year even though he went on a tear.

    We saw what a difference that Votto had when healthy. I say sign Bruce now to an extension. He has proven in the past that he would like to be a Red, he is a great face for the team and when he is right, is a 30 HR, 100 RBI machine. He did not miss that by much last year in a “bad” year.

    Want a bargain free agent? Sign Jay Bruce right now. After he hits 40 HRs in 2016, his contract will go all Cueto on us.

    I get that he frustrates much of the Reds fans, but he has never been accused of rape, firing a firearm and strangling his girlfriend or stealing a Tee Shirt. He has not cussed out the owner, or the sportswriters or the peanut vendor in the upper deck.

    The Reds have payroll flexibility, and have holes in the Outfield. Lock up one now at a discount.

    And yet, if you are overwhelmed on a trade, trade him. but that will not happen right now. so sign him at a discount…

    • Chuck Schick

      Why would Jay Bruce sign that extension? My assumption is that he isn’t any less confident in his own ability than you,so why would he lock himself into a contract that limits his upside should he return to form?

      Given salary inflation, his likely worst case scenario is that plays ” ok” over the next 2 years and signs a deal for what the Reds would theoretically offer him now. He trades a bundle of upside to avoid very little realistic downside.Why would he do that?

      • jdx19

        Yep. Unfortunately, Chuck is right. There’s no benefit to Bruce to signing a team-friendly extension unless he knows something that he hasn’t shared with the team’s medical staff.

        If he has a good year this year, he’ll get a decent contract at age 30/1… probably something like the 5-80 that Leake just got from STL.

      • ohiojimw

        The 2017 year is a team option so that gives them at least a bit of leverage on Bruce since they can hold him off the market at a lower salary for an additional year at a critical age point.

        Also don’t overlook how long Bruce has been in MLB and how many games he has played. Some orgs seem to believe there is a wear and tear factor, aside from traumatic injury, that supersedes chronological age in evaluating a player’s career curve. That could negatively impact Bruce on the open market

        In the past Bruce has said he was interested in an extension in Cincy that would essentially be a career ending contract. If they roll 2017 into a new deal/ extension, it might be doable if the team would commit to 6 or 7 years. Not saying it should be done, just that I wouldn’t count out that it could be.

      • jdx19

        Good point, Jim. I completely glossed over his option year!

      • reaganspad

        Chuck, that is a good question.

        1) He has already signed with the Reds long term once

        2) He was drafted and know the organization

        3) He has said that he wants to remain a Red

        I get that he might leave some money on the table but if he really wants to retire as a Red, maybe he puts a value in that. To have a team believe in you when you didn’t have your best year, there is risk for both.

        Really, the guy is already set for life. Maybe there is a value to him to play with his buddy Votto for the rest of his career. Liking where you work is important to a lot of people.

        After playing for an organization for a long time, I get that a player may have a fondness for the team. I know that Todd did and I am sorry to see him go.

        Maybe his is about maximizing the dollars in his contract. I got from his last one that he was looking for fair/fair.

        If you could sign a 5/75-90 contract as Jay Bruce, would you? maybe, maybe not

        The issue is that when the injuries were gone from Johnny and he did what Johnny does, we could no longer afford him.

        We are at that point with Jay also.

        If Jay is an All Star next year in 2016, he only plays one more year for the Reds in 2017.

        I get that we have cleared a bunch of payroll, but lets not forget that marquis free agents (other than Jason) do not sign with the Reds. We need to sign our own and maximize all the value available in our trinkets

      • Nick Carrington

        I thought long and hard about including in this article the option of signing him to an extension. He’s young enough and if the Reds could buy low now, they could get a steal. Of course, maybe Bruce is never the same and it ends up being a bad deal. Definitely risky.

        Bruce is a difficult player to project going forward. If the Reds really think he can return to form for 3-5 years, they should at least consider it. They better be pretty confident though. I love your optimism on him, Reaganspad.

      • Chuck Schick

        The points you raise are fair and valid. I’m a fan of contrarian view points and out of the norm ideas and respect your original premise.

        I doubt Jay Bruce would accept a “discounted” extension at this point, but he doesn’t consult with me on career issues so I have no idea.

        The Reds don’t consult with me either, but at this point they have a reasonably young player, with a fairly reasonable contract and there appears to be no market for him. The only known offer last year for him was from a team desperate for offense (at the time) and the offer was a very good player on the DL, recovering from Tommy John Surgery. I suppose thats like someone offering you a house in Indian Hill….that happens to be on fire.

        If he plays well and is FA eligible in 2018 the Reds should have the resources to sign him. Most of the roster will be cost controlled and they should have a large amount of retained earnings over the next 2 years. Unless attendance drops under 1.5 million they should net at least 20-25 million in 2016, 17. If he plays poorly they let him walk….either at the end of this year or next.

        I’m a fan of locking up your core and even overpaying at the beginning to save at the end. Jay Bruce may be a very good player who is recovering from injuries and will eventually return to form…..or he is what he currently is. Either way, if its my money, I’d rather risk paying him more in 2018 than be stuck with an untradeable player for the next 5-8 years.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Unfortunately, the Marquis free agents are the ones signing with the Reds.

      • reaganspad

        I understand what you are saying Chuck, but when Jay is an all Star again we will not be able to afford him at the premium rate. And if he hits those 40 HRs like I am saying he will, he will be a Ranger or an Angel or Met or wherever.

        He just won’t be a Red long term because his price will move beyond anything we can pay

    • Brian

      I like Bruce, but I think that we may always be saying “wait till next year”. At this point I’m leaning towards Bruce being a player that never really achieves his full “potential”. Again, I like Bruce but I think that this point his prolonged slumps lean towards a player that can’t make quick adjustments and beccause of this will never put up truly dominate numbers. The reason Votto puts up the numbers he does is because he makes adjustment not just at bat to at bat but pitch to pitch and I just don’t think Bruce has the ability to do this. I wish he did and I hope he proves me wrong but at some point we as fans need to look at Jay and say this is who Jay is vs. seeing the infinate potential he had coming up through the system.

      • Michael E

        Then we have a hobbled Bailey and a cold streak loving, overpaid Bruce taking up 1/3 the payroll and delivering pennies on the dollar.

  14. Daytonian

    No. He’s still rather young, and we will not replace his fielding, much less his power. He an and will rebound. There is no need to dump him for next to nothing.

    How about this: Just teach him how to bunt when he faces the exaggerated shift with no one on or just a runner on first?

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Wonder if he can learn to bunt any better than Billy H has.

  15. Anthony

    I’m deaf to what all of you are saying below. I’m still stunned that Walt didn’t take Zack Wheeler straight up. I guess when he wins 20 games next year, somebody will talk about it. Sickening. Im sure I don’t want to know what jocketty turned down. He is absolutely the worst general manager in baseball.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      Read my post above. It was reported that Castellini rejected the Bruce/Wheeler trade.

    • lwblogger2

      There is no way Wheeler is winning 20 next year. He may have a shot at it at some point in his career but it certainly won’t be next year. He’s a legit #1 assuming he returns to health. Of course he is slightly less likely to return to health than Bailey because Wheeler actually had Tommy John surgery and a second surgery. It was a lot to risk because we don’t know how Wheeler would recover. If that trade was offered with Wheeler being healthy, I would have been for it in a heartbeat.

  16. Earl Nash

    I’d think if the Reds are going to deal him you probably roll the dice and see where you are at before the trade deadline with Bruce. If the Reds deal him now, they deal from the valley and not the hill. JB seems to me more like a player that still has some good baseball in him than not. Although he definitely had weeks last year where he couldn’t hit anything and looked totally confused at the plate at times.

  17. streamer88

    I’m with Reagan all the way. Ill add this: 100 win teams don’t have 7 WAR players at every position. JB is currently signed to a team friendly contract assuming he plays ~130 semi productive games next year. We don’t have a bunch of stars trying to get on the field and buying him low and extending him may produce bargain value on whatever WAR he generates over the next 5 years. He’s not Mike Trout. Realizing that is the first step to seeing his potential future value.

  18. sezwhom

    Reds should go all in on unloading vets and stick with Astros blueprint. Don’t kid yourself, it’s going to be a very long season or two!

    • jessecuster44

      Long season or eight. No plan. No trading acumen.

  19. Paul @ Eco Stores Direct

    I’d let him go, it’s clear that if the team are going to be ambitious in the coming years then deadwood like Bruce should be moved on whilst the money is still interesting

  20. dan

    either trade him or resign him at a ridiculously low 5 year deal. Then we all of a sudden have a surplus of minor league prospects in the outfield from which we could deal 1 or 2 and even let Cave go back from where he came from. If we trade him surely we can get 1 or 2 decent prospects.

    Doing nothing is definitely not the answer and would equate to a huge mistake.

  21. Hotto4Votto

    Another aspect to consider with Bruce, is the OF prospects we have coming up. Sure, some of the higher rated/touted ones won’t develop in to the players we thought they were. On the other hand a few have some growth potential and could end up being key players moving forward.

    Right now the Reds have a lot of options. Current prospects who should start at AA (or above) next season include: Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Yorman Rodriguez, Jake Cave, Kyle Waldrop, Jesse Winker, Phillip Ervin, Juan Duran, and Sebastian Elizalde.

    Most of those guys aren’t stars. At least half don’t project to be starters. But all offer something valuable if they play to their potential. Winker appears to have the best “star” potential. Schebler, Rodriguez, Ervin, and potentially Cave all have the ability to be productive starters. Schebler and Cave may profile better as platoon starters as both offer significant platoon splits. If Waldrop can improve the plate discipline he can hit for average while showing off decent pop, he was the organizational hitter of the year in 2014. Duvall and Duran each have legit RH pop, but both with big time K issues. Elizalde has a nice all-around offensive game and has been seasoning in the Mexican Winter leagues.

    That is nine players the Reds have close to being ready, and that’s not counting Hamilton. If Winker has a corner spot locked up and Hamilton make enough improvement at the plate, the Reds really just need to hit on a couple of the other 8 options to fill out their OF. And, none of this considers the possibility that Peraza could move to CF.

    So when thinking about signing Bruce to an extension, or trading him this offseason or next season, I think it is important to view the alternatives. Do we have his replacement? I think there’s a good chance one of Rodriguez, Ervin, or Schebler turns into an everyday corner OF bat to go with Jesse Winker. And then we have some options for CF and the bench.

    Is there more risk in signing Bruce to an extension, or more risk in giving these OF prospects a few years to fish or cut bait? Is there more risk in allowing Bruce to rebuild some trade value or holding on to him too long? A lot of moving parts make this scenario interesting, and complicated.

    • Nick Carrington

      Likely lot’s of 4th and 5th outfielders on that list. Things would have to go perfectly for more than one or two of them to contribute significantly. Winker and Ervin are likely the most talented, and Winker is a much surer bet an Ervin right now. To count on anyone else from this list to become a productive starter is probably more risky than the Bruce bet. The Reds better evaluate carefully.

      • ohiojimw

        Yes. Check out Doug Gray’s Top 30 Reds prospects list:
        http://redsminorleagues.com/2015/12/20/updating-the-cincinnati-reds-top-30-prospects-list/

        The guys cited above don’t rate well on it. YRod has been in the system long enough to burn all his options (7 years or so) and is at #6, which hardly a ringing endorsement (of him or those lower than him who have been around more than a year or two). Waldrop and Cave are in the bottom 10. Juan Duran, and Sebastian Elizalde don’t even make the list.

        I agree that Winker (2), Ervin (8) and Schebler (15) look to have the most upside but to date only Winker looks like a real sure fire thing to be more than a journeyman at the MLB level.

        Note that Duvall is no longer eligible to be on the list.

      • Nick Carrington

        Yorman is the wildcard. He is extremely talented and still only 23. Eventually his tools need to turn into production though, and he won’t have minor league time to develop because he is out of options. The Reds will probably keep him on the roster because if they expose him to waivers, somebody will pick him up. Hopefully, he turns in to something.

      • ohiojimw

        RE: Nick’s comment that Reds will probably not risk exposing YRod to waivers. I agree; with Cave and YRod being locked in if they are to remain in the Reds org, I also wonder if Cave is largely an insurance policy in case BHam’s shoulder is not ready. It is a bit ironic that BHam could actually be optioned to play his shoulder into game shape (and help with the roster numbers game) versus being DLed.

      • Jim t

        Jim, Y-Rod started in the system when he was 16. Been one of the youngest guys in every league he has played. Really started to put together a good season last year after a bit of a slow start but two things happened. First he was called up to bog league were he sat on bench for almost two weeks and when returned to Louisville he injured his calf ending his season. I think people may be selling him a bit short. Very good tools and can play CF with a cannon for a arm. He also has power to all fields. He has shown growth at all levels but hasn’t really had that monster season. Hopefully he continues to take steps forward at big league level. The talent is there.

      • earmbrister

        Jim/WV — If I am the Reds, I would give YRod every chance to earn a platoon spot in LF. We shouldn’t forget that he started playing professionally at age 16. That’s why he has burned through his options. This coming (lost) season is a perfect opportunity to determine if YRod has anything to offer.

        I haven’t looked at the splits, but maybe it makes more sense having Schebler as the other half of the platoon rather then Duvall. Schebler gives you a lefty bat. Cave can be the 5th OFr, and both he and YRod can play all three positions in a pinch.

      • WVRedlegs

        My sentiments exactly. That list if full of possible bench players and never-will-be’s. Winker is the only one I would bet on being a productive starter. And he isn’t quite ready for prime time.
        I am afraid the Reds will go with a 3-headed monster in LF for 2016. Duvall, Cave and YorRod.

      • ohiojimw

        I think Schebler makes the 25 man out of ST unless he looks terrible or somebody better is acquired in the meantime. If Bruce is gone that covers a spot for him. If Bruce is still a Red, I see Duvall at risk of being optioned ahead of Schebler because Duvall and YRod are both RH hitters and Schebler is LH.

      • earmbrister

        Jim — Just now saw your post; my post a min ago is largely redundant.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I agree the list is likely a lot of 4th and 5th OF’ers, And I did mention that at least half won’t be starters. But developing our own bench players does have value. No more Shark Bernadinas, Bourgeois, or Boesch’s please. I believe we only need one or two of them outside of Winker to make good on their potential to have a solid group of OF’ers.

        If CF ultimately comes down to Hamilton, Cave, Rodriguez, or Ervin and the floor is Hamilton putting up about 2 WAR due mainly to defense and base running, then that’s not a horrible scenario. I’d hedge on 1 of the 4 of those guys figuring things out in the next two years. Even though Ervin’s overall numbers don’t look great, he did show a good amount of power in the FSL, a league notorious for suppressing power and then posted really strong OBP numbers in AA (13 BBS in 66 PAs), even though the hits weren’t falling. He took a step forward last year. Yorman OPS’d better than league (INT) average last year as a 22 year old. He has a history of being one of the youngest players in his league, and also has a history of making adjustments and figuring things out. Even if it takes a platoon with one of those guys and Cave I like the odds of something working out. And the wild card is moving Peraza to CF if Blandino progresses enough to push him off 2B.

        In the other corner spot, opposite Winker, I also think we have some strong options. Ervin and/or Rodriguez could slide over and provide strong defense, and Schebler certainly has the power, and enough plate discipline to work out. I would take some of Schebler’s stats from last season with a grain of salt. His home team, OKC, was well below league (PCL) average in team OPS, and I’ve read that the home park suppressed power to RF, much like Pensacola’s park. I’ve read some articles that demonstrate he has a solid approach and was hitting the ball hard last year, even though his numbers dipped. I believe right now a platoon of Schebler and one of Rodriguez/Duvall could put up solid numbers. I believe moving forward someone from that group will step up and solidify the other corner.

        I could be wrong. There are no guarantees with prospects, even with Winker, though he’s much closer to a sure thing. I just think we have enough talented parts that one or two will figure it out. The rest of the guys will sort out the bench spots.

      • WVRedlegs

        This team cannot rely only on Votto and Mesoraco for its power. There isn’t much power in any of these OF prospects, other than Duvall. A little 3B power if Suarez is there. His power is much more suited for 2B. None from SS, CF and 2B or 3B depending on where Saurez plays.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Schebler has good power. Yorman has enough to hit 15-20 HRs if he plays enough.

      • WVRedlegs

        I am not down on Schebler, jusy very cautious. He had a precipitous droppoff going from AA in ’14 to AAA in ’15. Dropoff in HR 28 to 13, in ISO .276 to .169, and overall slash .280/.365 to .241/.322 in just 14 fewer games.
        What is the reason for this?
        He is already 25.
        I just think he needs more time at AAA and hopefully will be ready about the same time as Winker. I hope he can become an everyday LF, because that will help put some salve on the Frazier trade red-butt I still have on that deal.
        Schebler sure does have an uncanny knack for triples though. I like that.

      • Hotto4Votto

        WV. I get the reason for caution, and I think that is a wise approach for most prospects.

        There are some reasons that Schebler’s power numbers took a hit last year. One of it was park factors. Even though the PCL is notorious for propping up offensive numbers (league average OPS was .750), OKC’s home stadium reportedly suppresses power to RF. OKC’s team averaged a .729 OPS, that’s 21 points lower than league average for the PCL. I’ve read a few articles about it with quotes from players. Apparrently a few years ago OKC put up some new buildings that have changed the way the ball flies out to RF. With Schebler being a LH, traditional pull hitter, that likely had an effect on his power numbers.

        I’ve also read some articles that talked about how Schebler was still hitting the ball hard. If you google Scott Schebler and Gabe Kappler you should be able to find some great quotes and insights into his offensive approach. In one article it talked about his brief stint with the Dodgers. At the time of the article, he had only put 11 balls in play, but the exit velocity on those balls was over 96mph. That places him in the same company as Stanton. An extremely small sample size, and to be taken with a large grain of salt, but certainly shows he capable of hitting the ball hard.

        (Also, before I forgot to mention Winker. He’ll have 20-25 HR type of power once he adjusts to the big leagues as well)

      • Tom Diesman

        Schebler did suffer a hand injury of some sort and was on the DL from July 6 -16. It’s very possible that this may have sapped his power in the second half of the season.

        Split Team
        Pre All-Star OKC 251 .243 .323 .450 .773
        Post All-Star OKC 181 .238 .320 .354 .674

  22. seat101

    HottoforVotto sez:
    I agree the list is likely a lot of 4th and 5th OF’ers, And I did mention that at least half won’t be starters. But developing our own bench players does have value. No more Shark Bernadinas, Bourgeois, or Boesch’s please. I believe we only need one or two of them outside of Winker to make good on their potential to have a solid group of OF’ers.

    True dat!

      • ohiojimw

        HTML off is /attribute inside the square brackets Can’t show you or it would read the bracket and go haywire as I found out once per chance.

  23. RedFuture

    My goodness, the Cardinal front office is so, so smart and decisive. It’s easy to see why they parted ways with Jockety. They let Lackey go but get draft pick compensaton and replace him with Leake without losing a pick. Just more examples of how to run a franchise.

    • lwblogger2

      And honestly, over the course of a full season, I’d rather have Leake. Maybe in one big make or break game I’d take Lackey but Leake is the better bet for the big 162.

      • redslam

        Hope a change is a comin’ or we are going to struggle for a while against the Cards and the Cubs, let alone the Pirates… they are aggressive and smart – seems like they have an overall strategic plan.

      • WVRedlegs

        The Reds have a plan. Skipper Walt and his first mate, Dickigan, are setting sail for the high seas without a rudder. Wherever the winds take them. Blue skies and smooth waters ahead. (Loud clap of thunder in the background.)

    • earmbrister

      The Cardinals and the Reds are in two different stages right now. Comparing them is pointless. We are rebuilding, trying to get younger, and trying to get a less expensive roster. The Cardinals are trying to stay in front of the Cubs and Pirates. Thus they were in a position to sign expensive or somewhat expensive players. Not to mention that the Cardinals can surely afford a larger budget.

      Until this signing, the Cards had accomplished little. Their biggest target this winter, David Price, eluded them. The Leake signing was a plan B or C. They still have not addressed their weak offense, one that got weaker with the loss of a Heyward.

      • Jim t

        Absolutely right. Cards are third best in division at this point. Signing Leake will not cure their pitching ills.

  24. lwblogger2

    Looks like Bourgeois at least won’t be in the outfield mix next year. I knew he wasn’t a very good hitter but I thought he’d at least provide some defense out there. I was very disappointed with what I saw out of him defensively though. He’s definitely lost a step as far as his speed and he took horrible routes and got bad jumps. It was UGLY. Glad he’s moving on. The D’backs have signed him to a MiLB deal.

  25. TR

    Since the consensus is that the Reds are going nowhere in 2016, why trade Jay Bruce at this time when his value is low. By July a contending team could fork over a good prospect or the Reds might decide to extend him.

  26. WVRedlegs

    Twas the Night Before Christmas, And where can we find Walt?
    Hanging out in Florida, Crying “It ain’t my fault.”
    The trades were made with the upmost of care.
    In hopes that team controlled players would soon be there.
    The front office was nestled all snug in their beds.
    While visions of top prospects danced in their heads.
    And Big Bob in his kerchief, and Phil in his cap,
    They had just settled their brains for a long winter’s nap.

    • jessecuster44

      Jingle Bells, Big Bob smells
      Walt’s trades have laid an egg
      The Frazier deal has no appeal
      For fans they’ll have to beg

  27. james garrett

    This may have been brought up before but I feel it is the real reason we are where we are at today regarding Bruce,Chappy,Phillips and others.I think the front office thought we could compete even after we traded Cueto and Leake at the deadline last year and it wasn’t till we used all rookie starters the rest of the year and subsequently lost 98 games did they realize we couldn’t.If I remember right Walt even went on record saying we could compete in 2016.We certainly won’t get the return on any trade now that we could have got at the break last year but the alarming thing to me is that the same people are still in charge.We must be the laughing stock of the league.

    • earmbrister

      The margin for error was razor thin last year. When Homer Bailey and Mesoraco went down last year, the season was officially over. There’s a huge difference between Bailey and the #8 starter. I say #8, because after trading Cueto and Leake you are way down your depth chart. Meanwhile, there’s no comparison between the 2014 Mesoraco and the 2015 Pena. You take Meso out of the middle of the lineup and you have a gaping hole.

      I don’t know how the Reds could have been expected to get good value last July, when it would’ve turned into a fire sale. As it was, the Reds traded Cueto and Leake, and tried to trade Chapman. Were they going to get good value while trading Cueto, Leake, Chapman, Frazier, and Bruce all last July? Is it even feasible to do so? When was the last time a team traded 5 key players within month?

      The Reds have re-stocked their farm system and it’s probably a top 5 system now. Their rotation is young and promising, even without those prospects. They’re far from a laughing stock …

      • Jim t

        earmbrister the real problem is the Reds are in a very tough division. a significant move that few talk about is the cubs hiring Theo Espstein. Guy knows talent and has a boat load of money to work with. They will be good for a longtime. The pirates are having their run as we did but small markets are at a disadvantage. The cards have benefited from being in a division that had some very bad teams. The Brewers,Cubs and Pirates until recently were terrible. They had a year or two but for the most part were terrible. The Cards have some heavy competition to deal with now in the Cubs and a good Pirates team. Let’s see if they can continue their run now. By thought is no.

      • jessecuster44

        Margin for error has been razor thin since 2013, and the only reason 2013 turned out with a playoff berth was b/c of Frazier and Cingrani stepping up.

        Reds constantly are on razor’s edge, and once two injuries happen, the season is sunk. Meanwhile in STL, that team constantly wins 90+ games with more injuries per year than Reds.

  28. old-school

    I don’t believe the Reds will trade Bruce, mainly because no one wants him and there’s no urgency to get rid of him.
    The BP fiasco aside and assuming BP is gone, big assumption….. and Cozart and Mesoraco are healthy…..July 1 starting lineup for a series at GABP.

    Peraza 2b
    Suarez 3b
    Votto 1b
    Mesoraco C
    Bruce RF
    Winker LF
    Cozart SS
    Bailey P
    Hamilton CF

    Not awful and consistent with long term rebuild as we discuss our signing of the #2 overall pick in the June draft and the prospect we finally got for Chapman.

    • TR

      I’d like to see Votto hit in the second spot and Suarez third. I doubt if Winker will be on the roster by July 1st. I hope Yorman Rodriguez has a good ST and can hold down left field in 2016. Then when Winker comes up Y-Rod can be the 4th.outfielder or be traded.

    • ohiojimw

      I don’t think Winker will be up until the ASB.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Peraza was at SS by July

      I’m not sure BP will be moved by July. Depending on the size and terms of those deferred payments, that may be an issue in moving him that simply isn’t going to disappear.

    • Jim t

      You are old school. No way the Reds have Winker in opening day line up and give up a year of team control in a no doubt losing season.

    • Jim t

      I also think if BP is still on team he is starting 2nd. Peraza may be everyday SS at Louisvile.

    • jessecuster44

      There was no urgency to get rid of Frazier either. Yet the Reds traded him for pennies on the dollar.

  29. GreatRedlegsFan

    My crystal ball says Bruce will hit 280/320/400 next year

    • Steve Mancuso

      Hope you’re right about the batting average. If so, his line will be closer to .280/.350/.480 based on career averages for walks and power.

      • lwblogger2

        If he could manage .280, that would be right… He’s only done that once though so not feeling too good about that. I would love to see it though, especially in a Reds uniform.

      • redslam

        I’d take .239 if he can get that OBP up above .330… I have very little confidence in a .280/.350/.480 although I acknowledge he is a very difficult player to project given the uncertainty around injuries… it took Votto a little bit to get back to his best after injury and he is now better than ever.

      • ohiojimw

        I can’t help but wonder how much the difference in Bruce’s .329 OBP in 2013 (a 5+ WAR year for him) and his OBP of .294 in 2015 (an 0.8 WAR year) is simply the evolution of defensive shifts over those two years.

        People use to say JB would only reach his early on projected potential if and when he learned to use the left center gap to his advantage. Now it seems to be even more magnified to him needing to do that just to pull his weight.

      • Steve Mancuso

        I don’t think the shift is much of an explanation. He hit .306/.374/.567 for almost three months, presumably with just as much shifting. This study from FanGraphs breaks down Bruce’s AB against shifts and no-shifts for the past four seasons. He hit better into the shift in 2015 than he did in 2013. The difference was all in the AB when he wasn’t facing a shift.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/jay-bruce-what-happened/

    • lwblogger2

      I’m a Jay Bruce fan but think that avg is too high and that slg is too low.

      I went ahead and ran him through my projection system and this is what I came out with: .239/.306/.437

      I’d take that, even though it’s a long way from 2010-2013 Jay Bruce.

      • Michael E

        Even as a Bruce skeptic, if he can recapture some of the pre-injury Bruce, his average should get back up to .260-.270 range with modest effort. That said, maybe the injury means he can no longer hit for average? Still sounds like he can’t make necessary adjustments OR like many, he so believes in HRs that others stuff is just “collateral damage”, such as poor average or consistency. Who knows. I do fell highly confident that regardless of a bounce back, we trade him in 2016. Don’t even consider extending him, not after what we’ve seen Bruce do the past half decade. Don’t pay for such annoying inconsistency. Find the solid hitters, like you find on WS winning clubs (and losing ones). Sacrafice the 30 or 35 HRs for 15 or 20 HRs and much better average and consistency.

    • Michael E

      If he hits .280 and avoids the month long plus permafrost streak of .100 hitting, then I will be giddy and apologetic to the man and RLN. Those cold streaks have soured me on Bruce and playing fantasy baseball every year since 1988, I have seen it all and it keeps me more in tune to performance and streaks. Nothing like having Bruce in your lineup (being a Reds fan, I have had him 3 of the past 4 years), putting up donuts or just above that for an entire week and doing that 4, 5 or 6 weeks in a row. Then he suddenly has a 10 day burst of 7 HRS, only to go dormant again.

      Jay “I like to hibernate often during the season” Bruce. An MLB and fantasy enigma. Hey Jay, how bout more consistency, even if it means only 25 HRs? You’d be a better player if you could raise the average and learn to fight off pitches or lay off pitches even when you are feeling like a little leaguer (in a funk is the phrase).

  30. vegastypo

    Jim Duquette, writing for mlb.com, proposed Jay Bruce to the Royals. Does this return seem a little high to anyone else, or am I inordinately down on Bruce?

    “Since the two teams made a trade over the summer for Johnny Cueto, the Reds should know the Royals’ system very well, so any deal for Bruce would have to include two of the following three players: right-hander Ashe Russell (Kansas City’s No. 2 prospect), righty Miguel Almonte (No. 4) and outfielder Bubba Starling (No. 5), plus one other player. For the Royals, this is a perfect solution to a pricey Gordon if they cannot sign him and the rebuilding Reds should feel extremely comfortable in what they are receiving in return, having scouted the Royals’ system extensively.”

    • ohiojimw

      I just saw on Twitter where it was looking like KC would not re-sign Gordon. This could come to the top of the heap following the holiday.

      The Royals are looking to defend and extend a window they already have open. That might entice them to pay more for two years of cost certain control than a team looking to break through would pay for the same control of the sam player.

    • ohiojimw

      And it would not have to be strictly Bruce going to KC. They sent a lot of LH pitching for Cueto. Perhaps they try to get one of those guys back along with Bruce by sending the RH pitcher #2 guy along with the OF #5 and an unnamed “other player”. So long as the Reds don’t send Reed back, that might be a good thing for both teams, depending who the unnamed player turned out to be.

      • lwblogger2

        This makes more sense if I’m KC than sending what Jim Duquette was talking about back to the Reds for just Bruce. Honestly, from the Reds standpoint, straight up for Bruce, I’d be thrilled with one of Russel/Almonte/Starling and a throw-in.

      • ohiojimw

        Of the three KC guys mentioned by name, only Almonte has played above AA.

        Starling, the OF and prior #5 overall pick (2011 draft), appears ticketed for AAA in what what will be his age 23 season. That might be cause for concern about him. He his issue has been offense. He is coming off a 770 OPS in the AFL which is essentially the same as he did in full season at AA in 2015 (.742 OPS at AA).

        Russell, the #21 overall pick in the 2015 draft (out of high school) would be a candidate for Dayton in 2016.

        Almonte is 22 years old out of Dominican Republic. In 2015, he started 23 games at AA/AAA pitching just over 100 innings and ended up seeing limited MLB duty (9 games) as a reliever. Big fastball and change, very weak curve. Sounds like he is probably a reliever going forward.

    • lwblogger2

      I still think my O’s a fit too. The question is rather or not they have anything the Reds may want back.The O’s don’t exactly have an overwhelming prospects list.

  31. Earl Nash

    I’d think the Twins could use Jay Bruce’s bat, especially if he hits more to previous seasons. It’s a less expensive bet for some clubs and if Bruce does bounce back to say 2013 form, it could be a pretty good bargain.

  32. Carl Sayre

    I don’t know what the split was home and away for Bruce but his power numbers have to be something a team would be skeptical of. Teams today will overlook a low BA for 25 plus HR’s. The scouts watching JB surely are concerned about the 1 positive, his power if he doesn’t play 81 games a season at GABP.

  33. jessecuster44

    Late to the party here, but I agree with some – why not see if you can sign Bruce to a five year extension? He’s a better offensive weapon than whoever the Reds will have in LF and CF this season, and certainly better than anyone who would replace him.

    He still has a plus arm, and is a veteran on a team than does not have many left. If Bruce hits .250, his power stays the same, and his glove defense bounces back, he would be an asset.

    Considering the question marks in OF – yes, even Jesse Winker hasn’t proven anything yet – keeping Bruce around may not be a bad idea at all.

    Of course if the Reds really and truly want to tank, trade him for pitching – or a contact hitting IF with some speed. Because even more than bobbleheads, fans want to see young pitchers experiencing growing pains, and an attempt to win based on speed and defense.

    • Redgoggles

      I agree with this. His main skill (power) will age well, plus he may figure out how to beat the shift better as well. Buy low (Bruce), sell high (BP).

  34. jessecuster44

    Also – Mike Leake is going to wear #8 for the Cards. Single digit pitcher! Uncommon. Always liked Leake and will continue rooting for him to do well.

    • TR

      I wish the Reds had been able to keep Leake because he is a solid pitcher in the mold of Bronson Arroyo. But as a Cardinal I can’t root for him.