The Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates play an exhibition game in Indianapolis at Victory Field at 1:35 p.m. The radio broadcast is on WLW-700.

Here is the Reds batting order:

  1. Zack Cozart SS
  2. Eugenio Suarez 3B
  3. Joey Votto 1B
  4. Brandon Phillips 2B
  5. Jay Bruce RF
  6. Devin Mesoraco C  Tucker Barnhart C
  7. Adam Duvall LF
  8. Scott Schebler DH
  9. Billy Hamilton CF

Eugenio Suarez / Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer

Lineup Thoughts

This looks pretty close to the lineup we can expect Monday. The Reds are facing a RH starter (Wilifredo Boscam) today and one (Jeremy Helickson) on Opening Day. Duvall may start Monday despite the platoon split, or Schebler may be there because he’s a lefty.

Sigh. Leadoff hitter with a .284 career OBP is a reminder you’re still watching Walt Jocketty’s Reds, in case that had slipped your mind. Jocketty doesn’t make the batting order, but he does supply the players. Jocketty’s indifference to acquiring OBP, despite lip service, is a signature move. Not sure why manager Bryan Price doesn’t move Cozart down to #7 or #8 and slide everyone else up. Eugenio Suarez’s career OBP is .315.

Batting Brandon Phillips ahead of Devin Mesoraco and in the clean-up spot is another Reds special. Projections clearly peg Mesoraco as a better hitter than Phillips this year, by a wide margin. Out of 141 major league players with a qualifying number of plate appearances last year, Phillips ranked #125 in power.

Reminder: Brandon Phillips is the Reds clean-up hitter because of RBIs.

Repeat after me: Lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter …. lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter …. lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter …. lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter …. lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter …. lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter …. lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter …. lineups don’t matter … lineups don’t matter …. serenity now.

My dad was a successful football coach. When we watch football games together, he’ll point out examples where the defense can’t stop the play called “by alignment” which, to him, means poor design by the coaches. Lineups in baseball do matter a little bit. If the Reds go with a lousy on-base guy leading off and a lousy power guy batting clean-up, they are spotting the other team an edge by alignment.

Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer

Scott Schebler / Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer

News and Reading

• The Reds picked up pitcher Dan Straily (27) yesterday. Straily, who had been waived by the San Diego Padres, started three games for the Astros in 2015, but spent most of the season in AAA. He made major league 14 appearances in 2014 – half as a reliever for the Cubs and half as a starter for Oakland. The pitcher was part of the Addison Russell trade between those two teams, with Straily heading to Chicago.

Straily spent most of the 2016 spring training with the Houston Astros. He’d pitched OK. Keep in mind the twin caveats of spring training and small sample size. If you’re looking for reasons to get out of bed in the morning, Straily had 14 K and only 3 BB in 12 innings of work. Those numbers are consistent with his 124 K and 25 BB in 122.2 innings in AAA last year. There was also this article (August Fagerstrom, FanGraphs) from Wednesday with encouraging things to say about Straily’s fastball velocity. Wishful thinking: Straily puts in a solid two months with the Reds who can then trade him as a starter at the deadline. Dose of reality: Straily’s 4.71 career big league FIP.

Straily was out of options, which is why the Padres had to put him on waivers before they could send him to the minors. Feels like Straily was on the borderline of majors/minors for the Astros and Padres. That puts him squarely on the major league side in the Reds organization right now. He’s had experience starting and relieving, he could swing back and forth and serve as a long reliever in the bullpen. He’s young enough and with the raw stuff that this was a good choice for the Reds, all things (like injuries to the entire starting rotation) considered. He’s better than five of the pitchers who will make the Opening Day roster. Straily is no Jason Marquis.

Kudos to the front office for jumping on him.

• For those of you interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of a major league trade approval, Zack Buchanan (Cincinnati Enquirer) gives an interesting, in-depth look at the medical part of it.

Kremchek represents the last line of defense for the Reds when it comes to not getting ripped off in trades. He’s the one who gives the final medical opinion about whether prospective acquisitions are healthy enough to be worth the transaction. It was on his advice the Reds chose not to trade Jay Bruce to the Toronto Blue Jays in February.


Adam Duvall / Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer

• Reds general manager Dick Williams met with C. Trent Rosecrans to lay out the long-term plan for rebuilding the Reds. If you’ve been paying attention, there isn’t much specific or new here. Short version: Trade expensive players who won’t be around in two years, spend the money saved on other stuff for a while, then on players when closer to contention. Keep pounding the amateur draft and international signings.

That money saved last year and in other trades? It’s in a war chest, ready for when the team needs reinforcements.

The Cubs unleashed their savings from their reduced payroll this offseason, adding $289.95 million in future payroll in big-league signings with Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey, Dexter Fowler, Trevor Cahill and Andury Acevedo. …

These teams did what the Reds plan to do – save money and then spend it when young talent becomes more expensive or the team needs to add to the roster to make a playoff run, like the Royals did last season.

Even if the Reds execute this plan to perfection, its success still depends on the judgment of what kind of players to pursue. If the front office holds to the paradigm that the players to acquire are the ones with speed and defense, all the money won’t help.