We watch baseball because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fun. The strategy on and off the field invigorates us. Not only is the game fun, but we connect to family and friends through baseball and its tradition. As the World Series winds up every year, I always find myself fearing the long, cold, baseball-less winter that emerges.
In the same way, I long for Spring Training, which signals that warmer weather is coming, new life is on the horizon, and the crack of the bat will soon reverberate through my television set.Ã‚Â Even when the Reds are bad, I watch or listen to almost every game and on some level, always enjoy it. But, quite frankly, the last two Reds seasons were not that fun.
Opening Day. Heading into the 8th inning, the Reds had clawed to a 2-0 lead on a balk by Francisco Liriano and a solo homerun by Jay Bruce. To defend the lead and send the hometown faithful away happy, Bryan Price brought in a pitcher with solid, late-inning experience: the incomparable Kevin Gregg. Four batters later, Andrew McCutchen sent a ball flying over the centerfield fence, and the game was tied. Even though the Reds came back and won that game, that homerun, given up by an aging pitcher past his prime, previewed the rest of the season.
The 2015 season was rock bottom, whether we knew it at the time or not. The Reds, feeling like they could contend if they got bounce back seasons from Joey Votto and Bruce, signed Jason Marquis and Gregg, and traded for Marlon Byrd. To say those acquisitions didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t turn out well would be a laughable understatement.
Their core was made up of veteran players supposedly in their best years, and yet, they lost 98 games. Only four position players with at least 250 plate appearances earnedÃ‚Â more than 1 WAR. Devin Mesoraco had only 51 plate appearances a year after being an All Star. Homer Bailey blew out his arm after two starts.
I held on as long as I could, thinking that with better health and improvement from established players, the Reds could win with the core that found success from 2013-2015.Ã‚Â But soon, it became clear the Reds were aging and not very good. With little in terms of young talent on the way, we had little to hope on.
Even the worst seasons have their redeemers, and 2015 was no different. Todd Frazier destroyed baseballs for three months and won an exhilarating Home Run Derby in Cincinnati. Votto put together an historic second half. In spite of his disturbingly low OBP, Billy Hamilton stole 57 bases, and when Billy runs, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fun. But, for long stretches of the season, watching the Reds was akin to a root canal: miserable.
I sat with my Reds gear on, almost embarrassed. The crowd at Progressive Field in Cleveland mockingly cheered with each ball that missed its mark. Soon, hitters stopped swinging just to see if it was possible: could Steve Delabar throw three strikes? I pleaded for Bryan Price to bring in a new pitcher, but in the back of my mind, I knew it wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ball four!Ã¢â‚¬Â And the crowd applauded and laughed again. Delabar had just walked in four consecutive runs, and the Reds were on their way to a 13-1 defeat. It was a microcosm of the season, not only because of poor bullpen pitching but because injuries had led to DelabarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s signing.
Injuries meant that Tim Melville started the year in the rotation with at least 15 pitchers making two or more starts. Alfredo Simon failed to recapture his 2014 magic, and the Reds bullpen was so historically inept that recently, the writers of Redleg Nation briefly discussed whether the increase in home runs across the Major Leagues was in part caused by the Reds dumpster fire bullpen.
Many of the Reds young, interesting players spent significant time on the disabled list, including Anthony Desclafani, Michael Lorenzen, and Raisel Iglesias. Mesoraco and Bailey were again sidelined for the majority of the season.
The Reds looked interesting after the All Star Break, which roughly coincided with the call up of younger players and the restored health of others. But, most of the season was painful and involved players that have no long-term future with the team.
Thank God those days are behind us. As Wesley Jenkins recently pointed out, the Reds are young and potentially exciting again. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how good they will be, but I will enjoy watching the development of Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, and Amir Garrett far more than struggling through another veteran retread or AAAA filler.
I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to see how Jose Peraza performs in a full season of duty or how Scott Schebler develops. At some point this season, we will likely witness The Jesse Winker Experience. If Dilson HerreraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shoulder is ever healthy, he will get a shot as well. Maybe, just maybe, Nick Senzel will knock a few baseballs around Great American Ball Park.
Gone are the Kevin Greggs, Ross Ohlendorfs, and Alredo Simons. Rarely will we see talented, yet bullpen-bound pitchers like Josh Smith making starts. Every game will feature numerous players that should be part of the next winning Reds team.
The Reds are young, seemingly talented, and should be fun again, even if they struggle at times. After two years of watching the Reds look old and directionless, I expect the current team to provide more thrills and fewer headaches.
I can’t wait.
Great article Nick. Like most here I have no illusion of playoff baseball for the 2017 team. But I’m excited to see the players you cited plus hopefully the continued development of BHam, Eugenio, Finnegan, Disco, etc. Hope springs eternal.
The four you named are really important for sure.
Good Article. This year is (or should be) all about the future. I am excited.
Bruce Bochey and Joe Maddon lost100 games with bad talent. Sparky Anderson and Lou Pinella managed 100 plus win teams and 100 loss teams. Ned Yost made back to back WS appearances with talent.
Bryan Price has virtually no impact one way or the other. In 2014, when his full compliment of players was healthy he was 1.5 games out of 1st in July. In late 2015-early 2016 he lost 106 of 162 when he had nothing. Price wins about 100 games with the 2016 Cubs, Maddon losses about 100 with the 2025 Reds.
Well said. I couldn’t agree more. However, I don’t love Price.
Chuck, Your facts regarding all those managers you mentioned are no doubt true. But, what I can’t seem to get past is that some mgrs win wherever they go and some lose wherever they go. Some mgrs have mixed results. And, if mgrs truly have very little to no impact, how come some are in the hall of fame? Here’s another thing: if a mgr has talented players but yet the team still underperforms, then people would blamed (and rightly so in my opinion). Bcuz there must be something about that mgrs style that the “talented” plyrs just aren’t getting. That makes that guy a bad mgr. So, in this situation, the front office just might fire/release that mgr and go out and get another mgr and for some reason the team might just start playing better. I don’t think it can be ignored that some teams just respond to different mgrs in different ways. In this case there are 2 (maybe 3) different ways a team can respond: win, lose or (I guess) break even (which would be more akin to having mixed results). These are the things I think about when people say that mgrs have very little to no impact on wins and losses. I just tend to disagree with that sentiment.
“Then people would blame the mgr (and rightly so…”
All in excited about watching this year. Hoping Reed, Stephenson and Garrett have strong growth years and make Feldman a flip candidate along with Cozart if Peraza and Herrera pan out.
Following Senzel going to be fun also. 70 degrees and sunny from where I sit. Really looking forward to April
I thought the ’10-’13 teams were fun. 2015 & 2016 are exactly why I didn’t want to see another blasted rebuild.
I look at the pitching staffs under Price and have hope for him as a manager. The question is – how does he perform if he has young, hungry talent? Previous Reds teams have had talent, but it wasn’t hungry or young. Other than Votto, nearly every position has someone in AAA/AA who’s nipping at their heels. I think Price can help convert that talent to wins. But that requires young, hungry talent.
Whoops! Sorry. After watching him walk all those batters live, I struggle to forget about him.
There’s something special about Garret. He exudes confidence on the mound and how he carries himself off the field. Not to mention that long left-handed arm. I know the Reds should probably wait a few weeks to bring him up, team control issues, but I’d love to see him in the rotation to start. I don’t think he’ll ever go back down if he does.
I think we’ll see an improved and fun team to watch, but certainly not wild card contenders. .500 baseball would be nice, If they do that and the young guys develop 2018 they could maybe fight for a wild card spot. Which then sets up a possible REAL playoff push for 2019 – the Reds 150th anniversary. I can’t wait to see how electric the city is that year.
I completely disagree with this. The 2012 team was maybe the best in the NL. The best teams don’t always win. They had good teams that didn’t get over the hump.
Not to mention their ace pitcher and best hitter were injured. Any team will suffer when that happens.
They will be better this year. At least 10 more wins better. Just because the bullpen was so bad last year in the first. They got hammered every night. Bullpen is much better now. And no Simon being a human batting tee for 20 starts like last year. This year, the Reds will be better and ready to contend in 2018.
I guess the 1975 Reds were just average since they went 39-9 against the Braves, Cubs and Astros and 21-21 against the Dodgers, Phillies and Pirates. Look at what the 2016 Cubs did against the Reds and Brewers.
It probably helps to understand that most good teams beat the crap out of bad teams and win about 50% of their games against good teams. That’s something that tends to happen every year.
The 2012 Reds lost to the eventual World Series Champions….in the deciding game with the winning run at the plate. The team with the best record generally doesn’t win the championship.
The 2012 World Champion Giants went 40-12 against the Astros, Cubs, Padres and Rockies that year……should they be required to return the trophy?
Mark, I still think those ’10-’13/’14 teams could’ve done something special if maybe mixed with a few talented youngsters who would’ve replaced a few veterans who wasn’t working. But, maybe I just don’t know anything.