We asked the writing staff to offer up to 100 words in answer to the question: What would you consider a successful season for the 2016 Cincinnati Reds? They were told they could frame their answers in terms of wins and losses or otherwise. Please add your own answers in the comments section.

Here’s what the writers wrote:

Taylor Ballinger: A World Series win. J/K. I want to see players developing. The Reds have some solid young pieces and by the end of the year I want to see those guys looking ready to compete at a high level in 2017. I want to see a healthy Votto, Mesoraco, and Homer. I want to see Jay Bruce put last season behind him and return to form. And I want to see fewer bunts (except when they’re used to beat the shift). If all (or most) of those things happen, it will have been a successful season in my eyes.

Art Bidwell: Don’t believe the numbers, believe in the evolving foundation. When there are expectations you are measured by your statistics, for Cincinnati this year there is no such expectancies. The burden of winning is officially off the Reds backs. No one expects it or even demands it. A full facelift and tummy tuck needs time to heal. Success should be measured through the development of the kids; we need to be left assured that we’re moving in the right direction. It’s easy to be excited for this progress toil in April; it will be less thrilling in August.

Rob Carpenter: We won’t be able to judge whether or not the 2016 season was successful for a few years. That’s because the most important thing this summer is how the Reds approach the Rule 4 draft in June and the International signing period that begins in July. The Reds have the largest draft bonus pool ($13,923,700) in all of baseball, an amount that gives the club an opportunity to infuse the organization with a dramatic amount of talent. A successful draft combined with a few hits in the international market could set up the franchise for a decade.

Nick Carrington: The Reds need to do several things to have a successful season: (1) determine which young pitchers are starters and which are relievers, (2) continue to acquire young talent, and (3) develop their young players effectively. The Reds should seek to narrow down their extensive list of starting candidates, though that may extend into next season. Number two will likely happen through trades, and the Reds must focus if at all possible on position players. Finally, young players like Jesse Winker, Jose Peraza, and Eugenio Suarez (and others) need to develop into everyday players or better.

Jeremy Conley: I don’t expect the Reds to be relevant this year, so the success of the season doesn’t hang on a win total for me (though I’d like to see it over 62 for sure). At this point it’s all about changing the direction of the franchise. Last year was a low point in terms of strategy, managerial composure, and smart baseball generally. If the Reds can get those things going in the right direction, I think they have the farm system to be good in not-too-long. Otherwise, even good prospects will just lead to more of the same.

Tom Diesman: It will be a successful season for the Reds if they are able to make timely evaluations of their young prospects and identify the roles they will eventually fill for the Reds and develop them for those roles. Determine which of the current young starters to convert over to the bullpen and do it. Identify the combination of prospects that will eventually play SS, 2B, 3B, LF, CF, and RF then ensure that they are focusing on developing for those positions.   Then begin clearing the path for them all to play once they are ready for the majors.

Nick Doran: The season will be a success if: The core of raw, young prospects adjusts successfully to the major leagues. Trades of Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips net more good young players. Homer Bailey recovers fully from TJ surgery. The team gets stronger as the season progresses, proving that 2015 was the bottom and that we are now on the upswing toward another period of contention in 2017 and beyond.

Chad Dotson: By the end of 2016, we’ll have a pretty good idea whether this “rebooting” process is going to be lengthy. Regardless of the team’s record, I’ll consider this a successful season if we see real progress (developmentally) from this group of exciting young hurlers: Stephenson, Reed, Finnegan, DeSclafani, Lamb, Garrett, Lorenzen, et al. Then, if some of the young position players — Winker, Reed, Suarez, Blandino — can take a big step forward as well, the Reds will be on pretty firm footing for the next few seasons. If all (or most of) that happens, the Reds could compete sooner rather than later.

Grant Freking: Whether the Reds lose 86 or 96 games is unimportant; 2016 is about development and the answering key questions by the regular-season finale on Oct. 2. Are Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Michael Lorenzen better suited for the rotation or the bullpen? Is Billy Hamilton is an everyday player or a bench gimmick? Can the Reds sort out a disheveled outfield depth chart enough to see what they have in Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Yorman Rodriguez, Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker? Key decisions need to be made so the Reds can pursue respectability in 2017 and contention in 2018.

Jeff Gangloff: 2016 is all about progress. The success of this season isn’t determined by the number of wins or losses that the Reds have, but by the overall progress and improvement by the young players on this team. If the young core of the 2016 Reds can take strides in the development of their game and provide a confidence and  stability for the future, then I would call this season a success.

Chris Garber: The 2016 season will be a success if they can keep fans’ interest. I was a young, but very experienced Reds fan in 1982. Experienced enough to know that losing George Foster, Ken Griffey, Dave Collins, and Ray Knight wasn’t good. But young enough to believe the team when they told me that Cesar Cedeno, Paul Householder, and Clint Hurdle would be a great young outfield. The 1982 Reds (61-101) almost broke me, but I took solace where I could – mostly in the form of Eddie Milner and Brad “The Animal” Lesley. Again, I was too young to realize that they were too old and limited to be real prospects, but they were something fun to grasp onto, in a season that sorely needed it. Maybe Eugenio Suarez breaks out this year. Or maybe it’s Jose Peraza, when he gets here. I just hope it’s something.

Wes Jenkins: The success of this Reds season depends entirely on how much trade value the old guard can generate before July. Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, Zack Cozart, and even Brandon Phillips: if each of them can be productive enough for a contending team to send a close-to-the-bigs prospect in return, then the season is a rousing success. The Reds right now are in the warming oven, waiting patiently for their farm system to graduate while playing a bevy of four-A players. If we can just buttress those new guys coming up, 2016 will be forgettable, but worth every pitch.

Patrick Jeter: This season will be a success if the Reds gain useful information regarding what needs to be done to compete in 2017 and beyond. Decisions need to be geared towards maximizing the chances of competing in 2017 and beyond. This means getting young position players plenty of chances in varying situations to aid evaluations. This means giving plenty of starts to young pitchers. This means not rushing Homer Bailey. This means, perhaps, calling up guys earlier than normal to see if they might be a contributor in 2017. This mean focusing not on winning, but on gathering information.

Nick Kirby: The success of the 2016 Reds will likely not be determined by win and losses. It will be determined on the development of their young talent. My hope is that by the end of the season we will have a better understanding of which players will be a part of the next contending Reds team. Then next off-season the Reds can begin to start filling the holes to build a contender again.

Matt Korte: I can’t believe I am saying this, but this season, wins are not important to me. I want to see Mesoraco, Bailey and Cozart return to health. I want to see the Reds find a way to trade Bruce and BP for young, controllable talent. I want to see Peraza, Winker, Stephenson and Reed make positive contributions. For me, 2016 is about showing the fans that the Reds have a plan to be competitive in 2017. I can punt on the record this year as long as I can see positive growth in the young core.

Mike Maffie: For me, 2016 is about Jose Peraza. The Reds went through serious trading contortions, stringing together a 3-team trade involving Frazier after the Chapman allegations broke, to acquire the young second baseman from the Dodgers. Given the resources required to acquire him, Peraza will either be a centerpiece of the next Reds playoff team or evidence that the GM apple needed to fall further from the organizational tree.

Kevin Michell: A successful 2016 will be hard to measure conventionally. It will require the youngsters getting a healthy dose of experience without sacrificing cost-controlled years. That should be the top objective. Little things could end up sweetening the sour: Joey posting numbers like last season’s. Homer coming back from Tommy John with a vengeance. Mesoraco showing no lingering signs of his hip impingement and clobbering the ball once again. Really, a successful 2016 comes down to whether or not we feel like this team has a legitimate shot next season by the time we reach September.

John Ring: Expectations this year? Very low. Less than 100 losses is good for 2016. What I expect from the Reds “brain trust” this season? First, establish a corps of starting pitchers to compete in baseball’s toughest Division in 2017. Second, identify and promote/trade to the Reds 3-4 hard throwing, aggressive relief pitchers without “roles”. Put them in, let them pitch. Last, sign or trade for a slugger. A hitter who puts the fear in the hearts of a pitching staff and knocks in runs. Yes, getting on base is important. And knocking them in is important too.

Joe Shaw: If the Reds get a clearer picture of their starting rotation, with Iglesias, Disco, and Bailey all healthy…If Votto can Votto with us and BP can BP with someone else…If Bruce stops streaking…If Mes finds some pop with his fancy new hip…If the front office takes even a passing interest in analytics…If Billy gets on base. Not a lot, just some…If all that happens, it will be a successful season…If St Louis gets swallowed by a gigantic sinkhole, that would be nice, too.

40 Responses

  1. XUChemProf

    For me, I have no illusions that the Reds will be a playoff team, or even win 81 games. A successful season for me though means winning more than they are expected to. Win 4 out of 10 series, avoid being swept, avoid losing five in a row. How would you measure success if not by wins and losses? If we lose every game 14-11, our offense for 2017 is great but we’d have no clue what to do with our pitching. If we lose every game 2-1, our pitching is awesome, but our offense would be years away. What I mean to say is that if the young guys are developing, and the front office is figuring things out, and the manager is managing well, and the base coaches are sending runners approriately, and BHam is getting on, and Meso is hitting, and the right combo of starters are being used, and the bullpen is managed effectively, and we avoid injuries to key players, and Votto wins the MVP, then the Reds should be winning games. And so, for me, success is over achieving to the tune of 80 wins, a third place finish, and finishing 0.500 in the division.

    • Redsfan48

      Overachieving the experts’ expectations would definitely make 2016 a success. I’d like to see a combination of what people said above about progress and evaluating the young guys, combined with overachieving and this would be a very successful season.

  2. Greg Dafler

    I agree with the consensus above. I’d say the success of this season will be measured by wins and losses in 2017. Making smart personnel decisions and hopefully Phillips accepting a mid-year trade to a contender.

    I also like Chris’s comments above. I want to believe that they have a lot of good young talent, and it will hopefully be fun to watch that emerge the next couple of seasons.

    As a final note, and I’m sure I’m not alone, I want to see a healthy Mesoraco put all concerns about his health behind him and come back with a monster season this year.

  3. jessecuster44

    You can’t define success in 2016. The Reds are a mess. Most of the starting rotation is on the DL, the bullpen is terrible, and the centerpiece of the Todd Frazier trade has just been sent to the minors because – in part – Brandon Phillips is starting at 2B. Ugh.

    I don’t expect a winning record, but here’s what would be nice:

    If the organization improved its ability to manage personnel moves, and not play so many games with a 23 man roster. Robert Stephenson’s start on Thursday should be interesting.

    If young players are given the chance to develop, and older players who aren’t part of the future are sent to the bench.

    If there aren’t so many darn injuries, and if those who have been hurt bounce back.

    If Billy Hamilton’s plate approach changes drastically for the better. If it doesn’t, the organization should consider cutting bait.

    If Bryan Price controls his temper.

    The team finds someone to hit behind Joey Votto.

    The team finds someone to bat leadoff.

    The team improves its collective OBP by more than a couple points

    And speaking of #19, this season would be a whole lot sunnier if he keeps up his positive spring training antics.

    Go Reds, Go!

    • greenmtred

      Jesse: You are describing Christmas coming early, I think, but I agree with you nonetheless. I’ll add that seeing more than a few exciting and fun games (it is an entertainment, after all) would be nice.

    • bobbyhowsamjr

      From the looks of Votto’s lost in space ABs today, a few less antics and a few more sessions of batting practice strike me as the better use of his time.

      • jessecuster44

        Yeah, especially that 8th inning at bat where he drove in the game winning runs. Really lost in space there. LMAO.

      • bobbyhowsamjr

        Votto admitted after the game his first three ABs were awful … this after he was a no-show in the player introductions. But I suppose that’s the sort of antics everyone’s hoping he continues.

      • bobbyhowsamjr

        Respected AP writer Joe Kay also took a swipe at Votto’s Opening Day no-show in his article about last night’s game saying that Votto came out when his name was called and is now 1-for-2 for the season. But hey, his antics must be working, we’re 2-0, so hopefully he’ll keep it up.

  4. ManuelT

    One key is giving our young players all of the opportunities they need and not to guys who won’t even be around after this season. I was against trading Frazier and Chapman, but since we did, we might as well go all the way and trade Bailey, Bruce, Cozart, and Phillips. Maximize our pool of young talent that will either stick or be trade chips. Keep Votto because he’s so one of a kind good and will hopefully rub off on the young guys. I’ve got a bad feeling about Mesoraco and think we should unload him while he still has value.

  5. JB WV

    Excellent, Chris Garber. You can understand why every time Clint Hurdle’s name is mentioned we cringe.
    Will the Reds compete, or just play individually to appease management? More than on an individual basis, at the end of the year have a concept of what this team will be. Gain chemistry throughout the year and learn from Votto how to approach an AB. Play every game as intensely as possible. Collectively become ML ballplayers. Don’t give Bruce away, he’s worth keeping for less. Get Peraza up as quickly as possible.

  6. Chuck Schick

    We’re watching a house being built. Right now, there is a giant, empty hole in the ground. It looks bad and somedays it will seem that negative progress is being made. There will be lots of mistakes, at the FO, Managerial and playing level…..and good things as well.

    Success will be that after 162 games, the Reds have a much better understanding of who can play and who can’t play. They can determine who is a building block and who isn’t.

    • bobbyhowsamjr

      It looks really bad? Really? We’re 3-0, the team is playing really inspired ball, Finnegan looked extremely polished in his debut, Suarez is killing it, and Stephenson’s first start went reasonably well. If this is bad, I’ll take it. I realize the Phils are likewise rebuilding, and Mackanin handed us a couple w’s by pulling his starters, but we’re 3-0 with Votto batting .200 or whatever. If the Reds can leverage Bruce’s early success and finally trade him, get Peraza into the lineup and Hamilton on the bench, this could be a fun year, even if we don’t contend.

  7. vegastypo

    All I care about is seeing signs that the organization is going in a defined direction, seems to know what it’s doing, and sticking to it. We’ve resisted the Marlon Byrds and Jason Marquises and Kevin Greggs this time around, yes, but if Stephenson has a good start next week, do the Reds decide to keep him in the bigs? I hope not. Give him more time in AAA.

    It seems like the Reds made their moves for this season as if Bruce and Phillips wouldn’t be around. Gee, then it would have been nice to have planned for that before BP became a 10-and-5 guy. Did the Reds overvalue Bruce previously, and might he still be moved this season?

    As much as this rebuilding is going to hurt, it should have started last year.

    • jessecuster44

      No upside – none – to keeping Stephenson in the bigs after Thursday.

      But the Reds just might do it.

      • bobbyhowsamjr

        No upside? Really? Seems like he’d be a great addition to the rotation for now, and after the guys on the DL come back I’d still love to him bring his 95-99 mph stuff to the bullpen because in my view he develops faster facing major league hitters than minor league hitters. Don Gullett started as a reliever and Chapman, whom everyone said should be a starter turned out to be the best and most feared closer in baseball. You pair Stephenson with Jumbo and Cingrani and you’ve got a group that could hold any lead after the 6th assuming Hoover can close, which I doubt. But since everyone is prepared to throw 2016 into the toilet (from a W’s and L’s standpoint) as a development year why not give Stephenson the opportunity to develop too.

      • Chuck Schick

        Why would you waste the service time and allow him to become a free agent after 6 years and not 7? Do you think its in the Reds long term best interest to win 3-5 more games this year and lose a season of control over their best pitching prospect?

      • jessecuster44

        Don’t start the service clock until the team can compete. If RS is the real thing, why would you want to waste service time? Bring him up in May or later.

      • Brian

        From Stephenson’s comments in his interview it seems like he knows this is a single start and then he will be sent back to AAA. He even says hopefully he can show perform enough to come back later in the year and stay for a longer period of time. So based on that they are sending him down after the start and THursday and have already told him as much.

      • bobbyhowsamjr

        The service team issue is a completely legit point, but I don’t buy the argument Stephenson adds 3-4 w’s. I believe Stephenson is ready now and could easily win 12-15 games this year. His stuff is as good if not better than Brandon Finnegan’s and you only stunt his growth by having him continuing to face AAA hitters. But I also get the reality that service time, for business reason’s, Trump’s all. Just love to see him handed the ball every fifth day.

  8. zaglamir

    All interesting comments, though it seems the vast majority of you share my thoughts. I look forward to sharing another season with you folks and reading your thoughts throughout the season. Happy opening day to you all!

  9. Playtowin

    Success will be finding at least 3 pitchers who can be seen as #2 or #3 starters. Suarez is the real deal. Hamilton finally figures out how to get on base. Winker proves he is good at AAA and arrives in July. Duvall or. Schebler become the next George Foster. Votto stays good for the next 6 years. Phillips finds happiness someplace else and Peraza proves as good as advertised. Mesoraco regularly hits and squats. Bruce reinvents himself and signs an extension or he is so good the Reds get top prospects in a trade. Reds win enough so a closer is needed. Everyone looks forward to 2017.

  10. Scotly50

    This group of Reds, Bruce, Phillips, Cozart, Votto, and Hamilton do not gel together. I do not feel the Reds will ever get over the hump with that group. Anyway success would be the young bats having breakout years.

  11. jazzmanbbfan

    No (or very few) surgical procedures on the pitchers or season-ending injuries. Progress in the maturation of young pitchers whether at the Major or Minor League level and determining who will man the starting rotation in 2017 or 2018. My guess is Homer, Anthony D, Iglesais, Reed, and Stephenson. Devin catching 100 games (or more).

  12. Joel

    Yes, to all of the above, plus the Reds need to figure out who their manager of the future is. Toward the end of this year, some of their future starters will have been called up. Surely, the Reds will still be out-matched in most positions other than first base, but if they can start being scrappy and becoming tough to beat even by playoff contenders, then the future will be even brighter. In my opinion that requires a manager who doesn’t accept the fact that the team is young as an excuse for losing. Like all of the above, I don’t expect a winning season, but if the Reds aren’t totally laying down in August, then I’d be thrilled. If they are, it’s time to also make a leadership change, not just player personnel.

      • Chuck Schick

        Johnny Bench is almost 70 years old and retired 33 years ago….To most of the players he might as well be Walter Johnson or Honus Wagner. Had he wanted to manage…. perhaps 20 years ago….. I’m sure that would have happened. He’s never shown any inclination to manage……and no one is going to hire a 69 year old rookie manager.

      • lwblogger2

        It’s my understanding that neither Bench nor Morgan had any management inclinations. I know that a couple teams approached Morgan about MLB coaching jobs and MiLB managing jobs and he declined. He liked working in the booth better.

      • bobbyhowsamjr

        Spare me. Bench has never publicly stated he wasn’t interested in managing and he looks great. Bench’s pinky knows more about baseball than Bryan Price will ever know. People are suggesting Sweet Lou is a fallback? Is Lou too old? He looks great and like Bench has forgotten more about baseball than Price will ever know. The reason we’re rebuilding is Price burned this to the ground. I don’t know who the right next guy is but it would be really nice if it was something who actually knows how to manage who actually played the game at a high level (like Matheny).

  13. Ron Arrington

    Does calling up Stephenson this early keep him from being a super 7?

  14. bobbyhowsamjr

    Good thoughts overall (would like hear more details on Rob’s point about how the International draft works and whether it’s management’s prerogative to spend it all and how teams pick) and a consistent theme around simply looking for the coaching staff to develop the younger talent and not to focus as much on wins and losses.

    That said, and maybe this is implied in your comments, but the first thing I’d like to see is the team, irrespective of the wins and losses, play sound fundamental baseball.

    Jay Bruce attempting to bunt for a hit with two outs and Brandon Phillips lackadaisical flip to second costing the Reds a DP in today’s game are two examples.

    Point being, there’s a risk when everyone lowers the bar on expectations so far that it becomes a convenient way to excuse poor fundamental play because after all who cares whether we win or lose?

    But diehard fans care, and fans in general who pony up the quan required to get in the door with their families rightfully should expect a certain baseline but the chorus I hear from you guys doesn’t suggest that and I’m sure the players hear that as well.

    Living in St. Louis I get to compare the Reds’ baseline versus the Cardinals’ baseline, and while the Cardinals are projected to be middle of the pack this year there’s a fire in the belly to win and and an insistence from management on playing sound fundamental baseball that I don’t hear from anyone writing about the Reds.

    Last week, Rosecrans wrote a Bryan Price apologist article that frankly made me want to puke, in essence, giving Price a complete pass on the Reds horrible way on his watch.

    I’m all for patience and watching the kids develop but many Reds fans still care about Ws, even if their willing to give the club a pass because the team is rebuilding.

    And one last thought, a guy whose stick is so weak he bats behind the pitcher should be on the bench or in the minors. I’d rather see Peraza in CF given the mode we’re in so he could get looks at major league pitching than Louisville looks.

    Anyway, thanks for all the great thoughts and perspectives on the season, which will be fun to watch in any case.

    • Joe Shaw

      “Living in St. Louis I get to compare the Reds’ baseline versus the Cardinals’ baseline, and while the Cardinals are projected to be middle of the pack this year there’s a fire in the belly to win and and an insistence from management on playing sound fundamental baseball that I don’t hear from anyone writing about the Reds.”

      I’ve only posted one article thus far, but “doing things the right way” is my life motto. I’ve got a few ideas lined up in mah noggin about noses and grindstones and whatnot that should make you smile.

      Even though you live in St. Louis where smiling is illegal.

  15. lwblogger2

    What a fine roster of writers! What the writers had to say and what the commenters have brought up covered pretty much anything I could mention.

  16. bobbyhowsamjr

    And one more thing about Stephenson. He only has to spend 21 days in the minors to ensure this season won’t count against his service time.

    • Steve Mancuso

      It counts against his service time. It just won’t add up to an entire year, which is an important thing. Separate issue is arbitration clock.

      • bobbyhowsamjr

        Again, we’d be 4-0 right now had Stephenson been available to pitch the 8th tonight. Everyone who says this team can’t compete this year is simply wrong. We can. But Peraza needs to play 3rd. Suarez is a sieve. We need his stick but his fielding sux, so put him in left or right move Bruce to CF until he’s traded and use Hamilton exclusively as a pinch runner or trade him to the Packers (who need a speedy slot receiver) for a 4th round draft choice and a box of crackerjacks.

  17. nicolecushing

    I’m going to go “outside the box” and say that the the Reds will show progress if the team has a different “feel” from last year. I

    Specifically, I’d like to see Price show less hostility to the media. I’d also like to see the team’s mindset find the sweet spot between “relaxed” and “ferociously competitive”. I want these folks to regain some confidence, and the only way to get that is to win. I’m not expecting a .500 team. But maybe 10 or 15 games under .500? Some improvement over last year, along with some lessons learned to get even better in 2017? I’d like that.

    • bobbyhowsamjr

      Less hostility towards the media is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is does the guy get the most out of his 25-man roster and can he make sophisticated strategic decisions to snatch w’s from the jaws of l’s. We would be 4-0 right now had Price stuck with Cingrani and allowed him to pitch the 8th. But Price instead chooses to use a guy no one had ever heard of until the Reds acquired him and whom no one will ever hear from again after the Reds release him to pitch the 8th and the labradoodle proceeds to gag the game away. I’m so sick and tired of Bryan Price squeezing levers to flush this team down the toilet. The guy was a pitching coach in Seattle and he’s done everything in his power to ruin Cingrani’s career. Excuse me while I puke.