This week’s respondents are Jason Linden, Wes Jenkins, Bill Lack, Grant Freking, and Chad Dotson.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: What’s the best-case scenario for the 2018 Cincinnati Reds? Worst-case?

Jason: The best case scenario is that they contend. Meaning that: Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Luis Castillo, Homer Bailey, and Three Other Starters perform to their physical abilities. IF that were to happen, the Reds could surprise a lot of people.

Worst case scenario: The pitching is a disaster again, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, and Scooter Gennett all turn into pumpkins but, for some reason, Winker and Senzel aren’t allowed to/able to fill in the gaps and then it’s 2017 all over again. I am the eternal optimist because it’s more fun that way, but I think the best case is a lot more likely than the worst case. I also think we’ll know pretty quickly. Pay attention to what’s said about Winker and Senzel in the spring AND to how much they play. Pay attention to how BobSteve, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, and Tyler Mahle look with their breaking stuff. Pay attention to how Disco looks. Those things will probably tell you what kind of year it’s going to be.

Wes: Best-case scenario:
Winker RF (receives ROY votes)
Senzel 2B (wins Rookie of the Year)
Votto 1B (wins MVP)
Duvall LF
Suarez 3B (wins Silver Slugger)
Barnhart C
Scooter and/or Peraza SS (has a positive WAR)
Pitcher (requires seven or less starters, i.e. no injuries)
Hamilton CF

Worst-case scenario:
Hamilton CF (ugh)
Peraza SS (UGH)
Votto 1B (3rd in MVP voting despite another career year)
Duvall LF
Suarez 3B (regresses)
Schebler RF
Gennett 2B (ughhhhhhh give me Senzel)
Barnhart C
Pitcher (another carousel with 12+ riders)

With a couple bench bats, that first team looks so good. So, so good. Like maybe even competing good. (I’m knocking on wood, don’t worry.) Sadly, the second team is far too normal at this point. 100+ loses, here we come again.

Bill: Realistic, best-case? The Reds pitching comes together, they answer the questions in the bullpen and at SS and CF, and they compete for a wild card playoff spot. If they could get into the playoffs, who know where that goes? Stranger things have happened.

Worst-case? The pitching continues to struggle, the long list of potential starters either stays injury-prone or ineffective, their other franchise questions linger and something really terrible happens like the Reds lose Joey Votto or Eugenio Suarez for an extended period of time and Reds fans suffer through the “Groundhog Day” of 2016 and 2017 again, as the “rebuild” continues with no end in sight.

Grant: Best case: Jesse Winker starts 150+ games in left field. Nick Senzel is fully integrated into the lineup sometime after the Super Two cutoff in the middle of June, playing mostly at second base but also seeing spot starts at third base, left field, and right field. Two or three of the young starters (Robert Stephenson, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Rookie Davis, Tyler Mahle, et. al) emerge behind Luis Castillo, while a few others settle into multi-inning bullpen roles. Homer Bailey pitches like an All-Star in the first half of the season and convinces a desperate starting pitching-needy contender to take on most of the last year ($23M) of his contract. Jose Peraza settles into a comfortable role — whether that’s at shortstop, in center field, or a super utility role that sees him play all around the diamond and make regular late-inning pinch running appearances. The team wins around 80 games. Feeling confident that the rebuilding has at last bore contending fruit, next winter GM Dick Williams aggressively upgrades the roster by shipping out some the Reds’ prospect depth from Double-A and up, while also spending the savings the Reds have accumulated since 2015.

Worst case: The opposite of most of the above, namely the young pitchers failing to develop and/or failing to stay healthy. Around the NL Central, the Brewers continue their rise and finally find a taker for Ryan Braun; the Cardinals swindle Derek Jeter for Giancarlo Stanton, acquiring the power presence their lineup requires without surrendering promising young starters Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes; the Pirates regain their 2013-15 form in Andrew McCutchen’s final season with the club; and the Cubs pull another massive trade to aide their pitching woes by sending Kyle Schwarber, Javy Baez and minor league SP Adbert Alzolay (Cubs No. 3 prospect per to the Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna. The NL Central is fully weaponized into the AL East of yesteryear, cutting into the Reds’ odds of becoming a year-to-year contender.

Chad: Best-case: Reds go 162-0, breaking all team records on their way to yet another world championship. Worst-case: Reds only win 101 games, and it takes them seven full games to win the World Series.

Hey, it’s November 2017. Permit me to dream, okay?

23 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    Realistic best case – It comes down to four things: Health of the injured starters (Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan); Development (and use) of the young starters (Castillo, Stephenson, Romano, Mahle, Reed, Lorenzen and Garrett); Use (and development) of the new bats (Senzel and Winker); and health of the remaining starters (Votto, Suarez, Barnhart, Schebler and the new CF and SS / Cozart). And I suppose I embedded some trades and upgrades in that fourth item. If all four fall right the Reds are a playoff contender. If neither of the first two work out for the rotation they’re cooked and it’s another losing year. There are so many options for starting pitchers that so long as Price and the FO don’t run out the Feldman / Arroyo innings eating debacle again I think a run at a wildcard is very possible. Best case is a hard fought division title, best reasonable case a wildcard and then who knows?

  2. sultanofswaff

    Indeed, the best case scenario rests solely with the health of the pitching staff. If we get that, we can compete for the division despite having an offensive black hole in CF and SS.

    • james garrett

      I agree but when you throw in Tucker’s lack of power along with the pitcher that gives us 4 black holes which in my opinion is too many.Can’t hide that many guys in your lineup because they will be exposed unlike 2017 when we were always playing from behind.This year with the improved pitching closer games will happen more and more and I don’t want to see any of these guys at the plate with the game on the line in the late innings.

  3. Ethan L

    Best case: they tease us by being 3 games plus or minus away from the second wildcard until a collapse in August. It’s both fun and frustrating.

    Worst Case: Another 90-loss season. Injuries and not playing the right players in the right combinations (ie: Price makes dubious decisions).

    If this team can avoid another 90-loss season, I would be satisfied. My honest expectation is 87-88 losses.

  4. scottya

    This is a way to early prognostication, but that’s ok with me.

    Without any trades or free agent signings during the winter; The difference between 2017 and 2018 is experience and progress from the pitching staff and health – Zack Cozart. If I look at it from this perspective 2018 could be an absolute bust or if health works in our favor ok. The worst case being the same record as this years team = 94 losses. The best case scenario 81-81.

    2018 will likely see a decline in overall team defense vs 2017.

    I expect Schebler, Votto, Suarez, Gennett/Herrera & Duvall to have good offensive season’s. But I think 2018 will likely see a decline in overall offense vs 2017 Votto had a career 2017 season, Cozart who had a career 2017 season.

    So the pitching has to turn the corner for much improvement in the record.

    That being said, I look forward to seeing opportunities to start for Romano, Stephenson, Castillo, Lorenzen and Mahle.

  5. cupofcoffee1955

    Best Case
    – The Reds are around .500.
    – The Reds hire a new manager for the 2019 season.
    Worst Case
    – The Reds end up in last place again.
    – The Reds bring back Bryan Price as manager for the 2019 season.

    • Sliotar

      Agree with your predictions, Cup O Joe, except for the “end up in last place again.”

      The Reds are among the smallest of small market teams, and have to maximize their windows of contention as they come.

      (they don’t have a track record of creating long-term sustainable success … a la Devil Magic Cardinals)

      If the focus is sorting the young pitchers and targeting a better manager to start the window in 2019, finishing last in 2018 doesn’t feel like a big deal.

      • Michael E

        Not really smallest of small markets. The Reds are actually in the middle 1/3 of teams by revenue (granted lower middle third). I figured they were much lower, but they’re not.

      • Michael E

        I stand corrected, they’ve dropped down the list from a few years ago. I guess other teams TV/advertising contracts have passed Cincy’s by?

        I see they only bettered Tampa, Miami and Oakland. A few years ago when I checked they were higher than those three and KC, Milwaukee, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Oakland and a couple of others I can’t recall now.

        Seems like Castellini isn’t pushing the right buttons since buying the team many years ago.

      • David

        Well, there’s a surprise. Bob and family maybe aren’t that sharp as a management team as we were led to believe. The clues are ….everywhere.

      • Michael E

        2013 – Reds were outside the bottom ten (middle 3rd):

        2016 – yikes, even crappy franchises passing them by:

      • Michael E


  6. Redleggingfordayz

    Not sure where else winker could play? It’s called LF. Directly across the field from the aforementioned RF. Winker has never even once been marketed as a good fielder. He will be about average and his bat will have to carry him(looked pretty great to me even though I would have loved to see more. Not sure how you think Nick Senzel isn’t a great hitter. Pretty much every scout in the game would completely disagree with you. He is a top 15 prospect for a reason. Also, your last point. “they give you a gold chance to score when they get on base”. They literally don’t get on base, thus why they were 2 of the worst offensive producers in the league. Good lord is right, you need to read up on just about anything happening in baseball the last 20 years….

    • Redleggingfordayz

      Edits * missing ending parentheses, and gold =good.

  7. PDunc

    Best case for the starting rotation is that at least half of the following comes true:

    Bailey stays healthy and pitches like its 2012-13 again
    DeSclafani returns healthy and pitches like he did in 2015
    Finnegan returns healthy and pitches like he did in the 2nd half of 2016
    Castillo continues to pitch as he did last year
    Romano builds on a strong rookie season
    Stephenson continues to improve
    Mahle continues his minor league success with the Reds
    Garrett returns and shows the same promise he did early last year

  8. Steven Ross

    Best Case: we win the WS!
    Worst Case: we lose 94 games again and Price gets a new contract.

  9. Sandman

    Worst case: The reds keep Hamilton and start Peraza. Record wise…another truly horrible season of 60-something wins.

    Best Case: Hamilton is gone and Peraza rides the bench. Record wise…70-something wins (maybe .500). Also, we bring back Cozart & keep Gennett. Pitchers stay healthy and develop more.

  10. Scott Carter

    Ought to be on everyone’s Thanksgiving Day Watch list.

  11. Ron Payne

    Best-case scenario:
    The Reds have a productive off-season by making 2 or 3 key trades.
    The Reds front office realizing that winning the division is the goal. (Not just winning more games than last year)
    The Reds can win 84-86 games next year IF:
    1) 2 of the 3 veteran pitchers (Bailey, DeSclafani and Finnegan) have above average seasons.
    2) the Reds can add a couple more quality hitters (Yelich? Cain? Verdugo?) to the core group of Votto, Suarez, Winker and Senzel.
    3) The key players stay healthy.

    Worst-case scenario:
    The Reds stay with the current projected 25-man roster.

  12. davemoorewvu

    I saw on where the Cardinals have had trade discussions with the Marlins about Stanton, Yelich, and Ozuna. They’ve also had discussions with Hosmer. I know it’s only ‘discussions’, but it would be nice if there were rumors about the Reds having ‘discussions’ with teams and free agents. The only thing the Reds have done have is sign 2 minor league outfielders and resign Kivlehan to a minor league deal.

    Worst case scenario – Cardinals, and other Central Division teams, get better with trades and free agent signings and the Reds do nothing and appear happy with the status quo.

    Best case scenario – Reds are active this offseason and make a few deals to actually become a contender.

    I woke up this morning and saw the Cardinals news, and it immediately put me in a bad mood. Somebody please tell me that the Reds will be active this offseason and we will see a contender next year. Please?

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    • Bill

      Davsmoorewvu I think your worst case is probably the right one. And have you noticed with the new managers and coaches in the majors not one of the Reds coaching staff has been mentioned. Wonder?

  13. David

    Best Case: The Reds will be better, but won’t breakthrough to actually be a contender. They will look good for a few months early in the season, then fade, as their young pitchers wear down, and the league’s hitters figure them out.

    Worst Case: They don’t really get much better, and remain in last place in the division, and there is a lot of talk about 2020 being the next year they can contend, and some players get fire saled in July for more “prospects”.

    Indeed, I don’t think the Reds have enough talent or money to climb out of the hole they are in. The Cardinals and Cubs in particular can always get into their deep pockets/farm system and come up with what they need to stay in contention from year to year. They will remain 3rd, 4th , 5th place team for the forseeable future. I really don’t see them being a serious contender again unless there is some miraculous improvement in pitching.