In the wake of the Brandon Phillips trade, Bryan Price has declared that Jose Peraza is his second baseman and that Zack Cozart is not a part time player. Now, certainly, I get that Cozart needs to play until the Reds find another team for him, but handing the second base job to Peraza seems like an odd choice.

The Reds, we all know, have two major league-ready middle infield prospects. One of them is, essentially, locked in at second, and it isn’t Jose Peraza. In fact, unless you count Eugenio Suarez, Peraza is the only player in the organization who can reasonably be considered a big league shortstop once Cozart is gone. Given that — plus the fact that (a)  Dilson Herrera is a second baseman and only a second baseman, and (b) Herrera has a better bat than Peraza, and (c) Peraza was used as a super-sub last year, –the current thinking from Price makes little sense.

I started writing this post before Price’s comments, with the idea that the middle infield and outfield have an overflow of players who need regular playing time and that a reasonable rotation could be worked out. If we assume one off-day per week, on average, there are six starts available at each position. This is very much a theoretical project (especially now), but here’s how the Reds could rotate starts on a weekly basis in order to get all the major league ready players a decent amount of playing time:

SS – Cozart 4, Peraza 2
2B – Herrera 5, Peraza 1
LF – Duvall 4, Schebler 2
RF – Winker 4, Schebler 2
CF – Hamilton 5, Peraza 1

A few notes:

–Zack Cozart needs to play. He has enough value that he shouldn’t be merely cut loose and, at some point, some team will need a shortstop and the Reds will have one for them. This might happen during spring training or it might happen in May or June or July. But it will happen. He doesn’t have to play everyday to maintain his value (and there’s been talk of him needing regular rest anyway), but he does need to play most days.

Billy Hamilton probably needs rest. An extra day a week off will do him some good. Peraza could provide that, while capably playing center field.

–Speaking of Peraza, he gets the shaft in my scenario, and I suppose it’s possible that the Reds felt they mishandled him last year and are trying to avoid duplicating that mistake this year. Still, he seems a better bet than Herrera to provide value by floating around the diamond.

–The outfield is going to be interesting. The middle infield has been getting a lot of talk, but the Reds need to figure out what’s going on in the outfield as well. It’s unlikely that all three of Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker will be producers in the long run, but there’s enough uncertainty that each needs to see regular playing time until things line out.

One thing is certain: this will all line out. Someone will get hurt. Someone won’t produce. Someone will get traded. Just wait. It happens every year.

The rotation suggested above isn’t something I think will or should endure all season. Rather, it provides sufficient playing time for all the major league-ready players while also allowing for the baseball season to work its magic and sort these guys into their permanent roles. Let the season for sorting begin.

32 Responses

  1. Yippee

    His accomplishments? 11 seasons as the starting 2B, arguably the 2nd best 2B in Reds history (yes, better even than the guy who played 2B barehanded in a deader than a doornail deadball era), a 3 time All-Star, 3 time gold glove winner, a 30-30 season, and a complete catalog of defensive gems that put him on ESPN nearly every week.

    I see you, BP! Thanks for nailing down 2B for over a decade and doing it way better than anyone expected you would. You came from CLE with low expectations and then exceeded all expectations, flashed the leather and an electric smile, played injured and showed your ability to hit all through the lineup. You will be missed at home games when you stood along the first base line and signed autographs until the umpire made you go to the dugout for the start of the game. GABP will be different without you! Hopefully someone else on the team will grow a personality and embrace the fans as you have….oh wait, Bronson Arroyo is back, we’re good! We’re together again!

    • Yippee

      Well, that is one small facet of what BP brought, hitting everywhere in the lineup. I remember reading your article, and it was a good one. In terms of variety of where the Reds had placed BP in the lineup, I don’t remember any other players being asked to hit so consistently in different spots in their tenure with the Reds as he was. I am aware that it’s a myth that he produced well at every spot, but kudos to him for doing what was asked of him and pretty much no one else (Cozart gets bounced around, too).

      What I meant with my post was to shed light on BP’s career with the Reds and appreciate his 11 seasons. I was originally a little too over the top with my comment and called out RLN, which caused my post to be edited (rightfully so). So I do apologize for 1) overall tone of my comment and 2) for using the incorrect forum for voicing my displeasure with BP not getting recognized as other recently departed Reds have received.

      RLN – sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused! I love the site.

      • Nick Carrington

        I think if Phillips had been traded midseason, you would have already seen a post or two. In the offseason, not all of the writers are writing regularly. I would love to post something about Phillips. He deserves to be praised. Great player. It just may have to come next week for a variety of reasons.

    • Matt

      I like BP alot, but best in Reds history? Ever hear of a guy named Joe Morgan?

    • Carl Sayre

      I disagreed with your fine article at the time even with your numbers and still disagree to a certain degree but you have the numbers to back your theory up. I think I might have to rethink what my eye test and reasoning means! I thought that he did adjust to his position in the order and again you proved that to be false! I think it is because even though his numbers were very close in whatever spot in the line up and maybe that is what fooled the eye test. The fact that he didn’t “suffer” moving from one spot to another and that is the reason I felt he “morphed”! The fact that BP was never more than an average hitter made it easier for him to continue “average” where ever he was penciled in. The gist of this long winded rant is this he provided serviceable production where they hit him!

  2. Jordan Barhorst (@JordanBarhorst)

    Reminds me of an old Mike Birbiglia bit. What Bryan Price should have said…was nothing. Why commit to anything before the players are even required to report to camp? The smartest move in my eyes coming into Spring Training, knowing that what Jason said about this all lining out eventually as it always does, is to let the playing time evolve on its own.

    Its something I’ve noticed from Price in the past. I have absolutely no evidence at hand to back this up, so you know, grain of salt, but it seems as though the skipper has an incessant need to fill any vacant lineup spot immediately with a ‘starter’. Maybe this goes into the psychology aspect of the game – maybe the thinking is its better for one guy to know he’s the starter, and the other to know he’s the backup, than it is to have both guys wondering who has the upper hand. But in my opinion, having two guys splitting time evenly, or even the brilliant rotation Jason outlined above, is far more preferable to having an established starter, especially since these guys are so young.

    • RedAlert

      Exactly ! I hope Price is out the door at the end of the year – clueless as they come !

  3. Tom Mitsoff

    Peraza was a shortstop with the Braves organization, but they moved him to second because they had Andrelton Simmons at shortstop at the time. I don’t have any defensive analytics to refer to, but my eyeball test from last year was that Peraza can handle shortstop pretty well. Not as well as Cozart, but there aren’t many who are as good as him defensively.

  4. Steve

    I think in ST, you play Cozart, Suarez, Peraza and Herrera at 2B, SS and 3B. Versatility and position flexibility never hurt anyone. Peraza can also play CF. if they can prove to handle multiple positions, more power to them. The more positions that you can play, the better your chances to stay in the lineup. Think of Ben Zobrist. I think we will see players playing multiple positions in ST this year. Duvall will get time at 3B and 1B. The value of the player increases if they can play multiple positions. Same with pitchers. Swing pitchers like Adleman, Astin and Bonilla can be used in different situations. Multiple inning pitchers as well. We will see Iglesias and Lorenzen in different situations, maybe similarly to how Miller was used last season with the Indians. Higher leverage situations at any point in the game. I think utility players, swing pitchers and multiple inning relievers should be an organizational focus and we should have these types of players at every level starting from the AZL Reds and Billings.

  5. Tom Mitsoff

    He’s someone else to bring in for an audition by using Bailey’s roster spot. Frankly, I love that they are bringing this many pitchers in for a look. What the heck is there to lose? There are more than 30 pitchers in camp, and for a team that pitched as poorly as the Reds last year, that was the right reaction by the front office. I hope they turn them all loose and may the best men win the roster spots.

  6. Pablo Robles

    Why does everyone need a spot? Only the strong survive let the best play and when they slump bring in a replacement player.

  7. bobbyhowsamjr

    The Reds rebuild is a bipolar disaster. Bryan Price is Marvin Lewis without the playoff appearances. Thank God I’m a Packer fan. This team’s rebuild won’t be complete until Marge Schott is born again.

  8. ohiojimw

    The Reds just spent $13M to move Phillips. So, with Cozart being on the market all the off season, don’t you suppose they would have spent a bundle to move him if there was any market at all for him?

    The problem is Cozart currently has no market value at all because of the injury issues he was experiencing at the end of the 2016 season. He potentially has value if he can demonstrate that 1)he is physically capable of playing regularly, 2)his production is similar to what he produced at the start of the 2016 season versus later on and 3)if a team experiences a sudden unanticipated need for a SS.

    The question for the Reds is to what degree they should side track their development plans in order to attempt to recover any return on Cozart given these factors that have to fall in place for him to generate any reasonable return. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Cozart will be under team control (Reds or any other team) only thru the end of the 2017 season which further mitigates against getting a reasonable return on him.

    It was rumored that the Reds had intended to release Phillips at the end of spring training if they had not been able to deal him. This seems to me to be a reasonable time line to also use with Cozart. Play him as much as he can play throughout spring training. All the while the Reds should do what they can to induce somebody to take him.

    However when it comes down to the 25 man roster limit deadline, if Cozart has not been moved, the Reds should go ahead and release him. Also, since one year contracts negotiated in the arbitration process are generally not guaranteed except by CBA provisions, the Reds likely would be off the hook for all but 60 days pay to Cozart in this scenario. To me this makes much more sense than waiting and hoping for a buyer and all the while slowing down the rebuild.

    • Pablo Robles

      And yet with no market value as you say he will be our opening day shortstop. What does that tell you?

      • Simon Cowell

        Tells me that the Reds have the 30th ranked SS in baseball at the end of 2017

    • big5ed

      I don’t understand why the Reds didn’t non-tender Cozart, instead of going to arbitration with him and end up being on the hook for $5 million to him. (Maybe I don’t know the rules, but I think I am right on this.)

      Assuming they trade him at mid-season, and that the new team takes all of his contract, they still will pay him $2.5 million and are unlikely to get much of a prospect in the trade. The upside they have with him would be for him to play very well such that a team in sudden need of a shortstop is willing to give up a premium prospect for him. That could happen, but is unlikely, and doesn’t seem to be a very good $2.5 million bet.

      Having said all that, I think Cozart is a well-liked glue-guy on the team and that the non-tender would have rankled the clubhouse. There is, of course, no data on the value of alleged clubhouse glue-guys.

      I think that Cozart, and not Peraza, needs to be in the Ben Zobrist/Tony Phillips role of playing all over the field, including the outfield.

    • Eddie

      Injuries happen. What do you think Cozart wants for his next contract? Could he stay in Cincinnati and fill in for multiple positions depending on injuries.

      • ohiojimw

        My guess would be he will be looking for starters’ money in a multi year deal. If the figures on BBRef are correct, he had made just under $7M at MLB thru the end of last year. If the entire amount of his 2017 contract gets paid out, he will be right at or just over $12M in career MLB earnings. That’s a bundle for most of us but probably not for a guy who figures to have been a 6 year starter (when not injured) at MLB.

        To date he has only played SS at MLB and played just a handful of games elsewhere back in his minor league days. I don’t think he has demonstrated the defensive versatility or the offensive consistency to draw even his 2017 salary in a “super sub” role.

    • ohiojimw

      I agree the money is the least of this situation;and, the cost only goes $5+M if the Reds end up paying out the entire contract. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if ZC ended up on the DL at some point and essentially just “faded away” as a Red which would put them on the hook for the entire tab.

      My deeper concern is that if Cozart actually performs well but the market for him simply doesn’t materialize to the Reds satisfaction, the Reds development is held hostage for up to half a season or more.

      I’d prefer a clean break; and, if they would want to hold him past opening day and pay out the entire contract as a separation bonus of sorts, I wouldn’t be terribly upset about it.

      • ohiojimw

        Fair point. I feel in retrospect like the Reds created something of an organizational ethics issue when they tendered Cozart because that act denied him access to the off season FA market.

        Had he been an FA in early December, he likely could have negotiated a health incentive driven deal with a number of teams. That wouldn’t be the case now because barring major injury, most teams are set.

        Would such a deal potentially topped out at $5.3M? Probably not; but, it almost certainly would have had a higher reachable ceiling than 30 or even 60 days pay (~$890K/ ~$.19M) based on the $5.3M salary.

      • ohiojimw

        In reference to my comment on 30/60 days pay, that decimal in the 60 days pay had a mind of its own. Should be $1.9M 😉

  9. JoshG

    I think it’s a pretty safe bet Herrera starts the year in AAA, and almost a slam dunk Winker does

  10. droslovinia

    One thing that would have made it better is an explanation of how a guy who has never managed to hit .300 above AA has a superior bat! Who cares how nice his bat is if he hasn’t proved he knows how to use it yet?

    • big5ed

      Joey Votto never hit over .300 above AA, so he is lousy and the Reds should bench him.

  11. sandman

    All this talk about Peraza should start everyday. Peraza, Peraza, Peraza! And now that he will get to play most every day it’s still not enough bcuz it’s the wrong position. Will someone make up my mind for me please! Oh wait, Price kinda already did that! I’m not talking about me, ok, I hope the kids do well bcuz they’re who we’re stuck with. But what would you guys say to someone who didn’t like Peraza and/or Herrera? I ain’t got no choice but to hope these kids do well bcuz they’re the baskets that everyone’s putting their eggs into. Just curious bcuz there are a lot of die hard BP fans out there who didn’t want to see him go and therefore may be harboring some resentment toward these kids bcuz they’re the reason BP was forced out.

    • sandman

      Lwblogger2, well I was hoping for any of BP’s fans who hold resentment towards either Peraza, Herrera or Williams (or all 3) would speak up and voice that opinion but I guess they’re too afraid for fear of backlash. You’re the only one that acknowledged my statement and for that I thank you. As far as our kids at 2B outperforming BP in Atl, if I’ve learned anything from being on social media and discussing the BP situation ad nauseum, it’s that it likely wouldn’t matter much (if at all) if BP does well & outperforms our kids bcuz of the fact that we’re rebuilding, BP’s old, etc, etc, excuses, excuses. But
      I hope BP does have a fantastic year or years in Atl if for no other reason than to prove the naysayers wrong about his abilities declining.

  12. Carl Sayre

    There is a whole lot of varying opinions on a multitude of topics here that is why it is so enjoyable. The outfield comes to mind , before BH was injured I saw what looked like advancement, Duvall reminds me a lot of Dunn for the good or bad everyone can decide that for themselves. I will say it is the first time since Dunn left we got anything out of LF and it was a VERY pleasant surprise. I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head but isn’t a Duvall/Schebler platoon a viable option? I did see one comment about Cozart possibly coming off the bench??? IMO his value is that leather thing at the end of his arm I see no value in him as a PH! Suarez and his fielding drives me to distraction but I really feel he just can’t put the jitters behind him he looks scared to death every time the ball is hit to his side of the field but he has a SS arm! The question about position players comes down to this in the outfield would you waste a year of control with Winker if he is a world beat in ST, I don’t see the Reds having anything for anybody this year! I mean wouldn’t it be smart to start him in Louisville until it takes a year off him hurting the checkbook? The middle infield is clear as………..mud and that isn’t going to change a lot if they move Cozart and while 5 million dollars in todays baseball isn’t much money he is too good defensively just to cut him loose so the flavor of the day gets playing time! I made a statement wouldn’t be smart and then occurred to me Price is still the manager so “smart” is not a big commodity with this team! I know I know but these kids come into a situation with a losing attitude it may stay long after Price is gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. ohiojimw

    In saw this and wondered too why he was playing everyday until he broke down.

    The only thing I can think of is that these guys are so competitive that they aren’t always forthright, even with themselves, when it comes fessing up how hurt they are. In fact here is a quote ZC gave mark Sheldon: “The knee is 100 percent,” he said. “It’s the first time since my surgery that I can just say, ‘I’m good.’ I didn’t say it a lot last year, but there wasn’t a day that I felt good during the season.”

    Another thing ZC is not likely to say even now is that perhaps he pushed himself so hard last season in hopes of getting dealt out of Cincy to a contender by the 2016 deadline.