This is the first edition of a new column I’ll be writing this season, where we look at how the Reds are doing in their quest to return to the playoffs and, just as importantly, how all of you feel about how the Reds are doing, as gauged by Twitter polls we’ll be running throughout the season.

I ran the first poll a few days ago. (Follow us on Twitter to participate in the future.) It’s modeled after the right track/wrong direction political polls, and I’ll use it in this column at least monthly.


There are a couple of really interesting things about this poll. The first is this: four out of five people who voted think the Reds are on the right track. I never would have guessed that because, frankly, the majority of comments I see from fans, both on blogs and social media are extremely negative.

Which leads us to the second interesting thing. Nearly all of the comments in response to the poll (on Twitter) were the same negative comments we’re used to hearing. Lots of attacks on Reds manager Bryan Price and so on. It seems we’ve got a bit of a vocal minority here in Reds Land — or Redleg Nation, to put it another way — that masks the larger feeling among many of the fans I know personally that the Reds, while probably not ready to contend this year, are on the right track.

So why are (some) fans so overwhelmingly happy with the Reds?

Well, the club just signed Eugenio Suarez to a long term contract. That’s a real investment that the Reds might not make if they thought they were that far away. Further, we’ve finally seen the transition to the next group of core players. Winker is here. So are Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, and Amir Garrett (probably). As much as I love Bronson Arroyo and appreciate what Tim Adleman did for the club, this year’s rotation is a lot more exciting than last year’s.

Oh, and Nick Senzel will be here soon. Very soon. Joey Votto and Homer Bailey will be the only players over 30 who figure to get significant playing time, which is exactly what you want to see at this point in a rebuild. The team is young and young teams have a way of suddenly improving.

My personal view is that the Reds need to aim for at least a .500 finish this year and, more importantly, need to have a plan ready to fix any holes that they have when the season is over. If that happens, I’ll consider them to have made it through the season on the right track.

There is a lot to be excited about with this team. More than there has been since they were last competitive and I’m excited to watch it play out.

In the comments, I’d like to hear what you think the Reds need to do to get/stay on the right track. And I’d REALLY like to hear from the 80 percent of you who, like me, feel pretty good about where the Reds are right now. What are you excited to see this year? What are you hoping happens as the season progresses?

My hope is to engage with the readership through this column and various poll questions over the course of the season, so let me know what you want to see and I’ll do my best to adapt.

24 Responses

  1. Matt

    My biggest concern was the Reds were going to go after “innings eaters” again and that seems to be minimized. I think the offense will be fun to watch and we’ll take some lumps of young pitching but that’s part of the rebuild. The next step, assuming this is rightfully Price’s last year, is who’s next? Will they proceed with a true interview process or just hire from within and keep the old school thinking? I’d love to see a manager who isn’t afraid to make out of the box moves and can put some swagger in these young players.

  2. IanD

    Duvall, Schebler and Winker need to start in the outfield, and Billy needs to be used as a late inning baserunning/defensive substitute. If this happens, and the starting pitching takes the next step, then they will push .500. Then, next offseason, they will need to bring in a top of the line starter via free agency, and fill in any holes that opened offensively.

  3. nicolecushing

    I think that if you had framed that question slightly differently (“Are you happy with the Reds?”), you would have gotten quite a different result. With surveys, the way a question is framed often drives the outcome.

    For example, I answered that poll and said the Reds were on the right track, but that’s not the same thing as being happy with the team, or having an optimistic outlook for the franchise. If you look at the comments on the recent 2018 predictions post, you’ll see a lot of people predicting 72, 73, 74 wins and Bryan Price’s termination. I was one of them.

    For me, being on the “right track” = no washed-up free agents in the starting rotation, some exciting hitting prospects looking like they’re close to making an impact in the bigs, a little extra support in the bullpen, a relatively team-friendly deal with Suarez, etc. There are some modest improvements and glimmers of hope. At the very least, it stops the franchise’s bleeding. Things at least shouldn’t get WORSE than they’ve been for the last few years.

    But I’m still unhappy with the team, because I think they’re going to lose 90 games this year. While the Reds are “on the right track”, the other teams in the division are on an even BETTER track. The Reds have taken a half-step forward. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have all taken two steps forward (and were already three steps ahead).

  4. Daytonian

    Angst?? It’s simply due to an unproven rotation and bullpen. If the young starters come through, I’ll be happy. If they prove to be mediocre or worse, well, then the prospect of a Reds championship (or even a competitive future in a competitive division) dims. Here’s rooting for the young arms!

  5. scottya

    I’m excited to see how Castillo, Romano, Mahle and Garrett perform. If we can come up with a #2, #3 and #4 starter from these 4 pitchers, we will be competing for the playoffs soon. I believe the starting 8 is going to be playoff caliber for a while and likely to improve a good bit more with Senzel. The Reds can stay on track by upgrading the 8 at CF and SS positions. I hope 1/2 of this happens by adding Senzel as our SS after June 1.

    Can’t wait to see Senzel and Blandino find their places with the Reds and hopefully that is in 18′. I hope it’s Senzel at SS, Blandino at 2B.

    It’s my opinion that we need to trade two fan favorites Scooter and Billy by the trade deadline this season and hopefully we can get an mlb ready bullpen arm for each. They will be owed approximately 13 million next season in their final years of arbitration. I think this will keep us on track toward the playoffs, hopefully we can have an article in 19′ that says like Mr T: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

    • cfd3000

      This is pretty close to my take as well. I am optimistic and do think the Reds are on a good track. Hamilton and Peraza need to improve, fast (I know, unlikely) or be traded. I don’t think Duvall or Gennett are part of the “next great Reds team” but they do have some value and should be moved for prospects. The rest of the offense is solid. And I am excited about the starters, with no need for outside help. There is a strong rotation in the cast of Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan, Castillo, Romano, Garrett, Mahle, Reed, Stephenson and Lorenzen. The Reds just need to identify it, and I think they will. 81 wins is achievable in 2018. 91 wins is achievable in 2019. Time to start making those numbers a reality.

  6. BigRedMachine

    I have to reserve judgement until I see how certain issue are managed. Does Hamilton get 600+AB and lead off because he creates havoc? Does Winker ride the pine except to give the starting outfielders rest? Is Senzel in the minors until late in the season because they can’t break up the Peraza-Gennett juggernaut? Are any platoons used? Is Suarez asked to bunt a lot to move the runner over for Joey?

    I still think a combination of young pitching and old school management will keep the Reds at a win total in the low 70s. But I’m much more interested watching what the young pitching can do instead of “veteran leadership”. I’m much more interested in seeing what Votto, Suarez, Winker, Senzel can do than hoping Billy can figure out how to hit after 4 seasons. The question is–will I get to?

  7. bouwills

    Probable roster additions for 2018 include: K. Quackenbush (age 29), P. Gosselin (age 29), J Hughes (age 32), D. Hernandez (age 32), & C. Pennington (age 33). Among demoted prospects are: J. Herget (age 24), A. Blandino (age 25), J. Nicolino (age 26), either Z. Weiss or A. Brice (both age 25), & B. Dixon (age 26). I do not believe the first group moves the won/loss record more than a few points, if at all. The 2nd group requires less roster moves than the first group. The illusion that this organization is dedicated to a rebuild is just that- an illusion.Ownership & management demonstrate this by their roster moves every spring over the last 4 (losing) seasons

    • BigRedMike

      Great point, the majority of the power teams are going with younger players, those in currently in their organization that they are developing. The Reds decided to add older players that provide little value and demote their younger players. It is not an image of a team attempting to rebuild.

  8. David

    Are the Reds on the right track? Objectively, no. They have drafted a LOT of pitching in the last 5-6 years, and really, don’t have a whole lot to show for those drafts.
    Castillo came via a trade using a guy picked up in Free Agency. I think that the Marlins were nuts for trading him to the Reds for Strailly, but then, people are sometimes stupid.

    Romano, Mahle, Garrett are solid talents, but who knows if they will pan out? Lorenzen has been misused and is now a mess.
    Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, etc are just stuck, and it is largely their own fault.

    The Reds do NOT have a great line up. They have one really great player, Joey Votto.
    A few pretty good players in Mesoraco (if healthy), Suarez, Tucker.
    You need a lineup of good OPS players. 6 or 7 guys that are 0.800 OPS or better.
    Gennett and Duvall are good guys and solid players, but are probably as good as they are going to be now. I don’t think they have that much trade value, either.

    Schebler may yet develop into a very good player, but the jury is still out.

    Billy Hamilton as an offensive player is a disaster, and should only be used as a 4th or 5th outfielder.

    I will wager that Winker gets minimal playing time in the next two months, and will have less than 60 AB’s by mid May. I will bet that Phil Ervin may actually have more AB’s and playing time than Winker, because Ervin will likely start in CF against Left handed starting pitching.

    Peraza should be a 2nd baseman, and I don’t think he has the arm to be a very good or even league average Shortstop. And he has not shown he can be a good ML hitter, yet. I hope he proves me wrong.
    The Reds now have two potential “better” 2nd basemen in Senzel and Herrera (if his shoulder ever is strong again).
    They have no top flight SS in the top of their farm system
    They have no top flight CF in the top of their farm system
    We have to wait for Siri, Trammel, Friedl or Aquino to MAYBE develop. Years away.

    The problem with the Reds is primarily Castellini and how he has run the team as an owner; first choosing Jocketty, and then Dick Williams. Jocketty failed in every way to build for the future when he was GM; it was “win now” and then we were out of gas.

    Williams may eventually be viewed as a good GM, but he has a lot to prove.

    I don’t think that overall, with the draft choices over the last few years, that the Reds have drafted particularly well. Hunter Greene may someday be great, but that is still years away.
    Nick Travieso has been a big zero. Lorenzen has been misused and was probably over drafted.

  9. David

    I have heard that Barry Larkin openly refuted using Advance Metrics in analyzing players. So we have that to look forward to.
    I don’t know if Sabremetrics/advanced metrics have all the answers, but I think you can be just mule-stubborn in ignoring them.

    • scottya

      Any idea on where you got that information about Larkin “opening refuting using advanced metrics…” That would close the door on my interest in Barry Larkin as the next manager.

      • wkuchad

        I’ve seen several references on this site, but no links to actual quotes. I’m curious how old these comments are. There’s plenty of people that have completely changes their opinion (in the last few years) on the importance of analytics in baseball.

  10. scottya

    Reasons I think the Reds organization and the current rebuild is on track and not “going in the wrong direction.”

    1. Castillo is hopefully a #2 starter, he could be a #4 at worst.
    2. Romano is hopefully a #3 starter, he could be a #5 at worst,
    3. Mahle is hopefully a #3 starter, he could be a late inning bullpen guy at worst,
    4. Garrett is a wildcard he may become a solid mlb starter.
    5. We traded Straily for Castillo along with numerous other past trades; Simon for Suarez; Frazier for Schebler, Peraza and Dixon; Leake for Duvall; Latos for Desclafani. These trades make me positive that we can make more trades like these going forward to make us a championship level team.
    6. Romano and Garrett were both late round draft picks and Mahle was a 7th round draft pick. Hopefully this kind of success can continue.
    7. We have the #5 draft pick this summer.
    8. The FO decided not to sign any Starting pitchers, knowing we had plenty of depth in the rotation.
    9. Senzel was sent to AAA and his service clock will hopefully not start till after the super 2.
    10. Jesse Winker has developed into a starting outfielder capable of multiple 3 war season’s.
    11. Hunter Green is valuable, even though it will be a while, wow the potential!
    12. Don’t forget jose lopez, tony santillan, and the possibility of Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed turning things around.
    13. I don’t believe Brian Price will be our manager in 19′: will we get an analytics genius! I’m exaggerating on purpose here, but I’d like to see that.

    I could go on with the positive list and I could also make a list of mistakes, but the good outweighs the negative in a big time way in my opinion.

  11. Blake Shell

    The reds are entering year 4 of the rebuild. The cubs took 5-6 years and the Astros took 6-7 years.

    What I’m so happy about with the reds is the fact that they are ignoring the fans that were screaming for them to make a big trade or sign an all star caliber player to a huge contract. They aren’t ready yet. A big free agent wasn’t going to be a game changer and trading away two top 100 prospects for one guy wasn’t going to put us in the playoffs.

    If you look at the cubs and astros, they lost for more seasons than we have already.
    The Astros were rebuilding for 6-7 years with six straight losing years. The cubs did it for 5 years before jumping over 500.
    The reds have really only done it for 3 years. 2014 we weren’t rebuilding some could argue that we should have started rebuilding then but they were still trying to win that year. That team went 76-86 without Votto for 100 games, a hobbled Bruce, and Latos missed half the year. So it’s really only been 3 years of rebuilding.

    The team has made good trades minus the Aroldis Chapman deal, which was a disaster. The Frazier deal was fine and I felt like the Bruce trade could have been better but hindsight is always 20/20. We lost a lot of games so we would have high draft picks, see Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene, Taylor Trammel, Jeter Downs, etc. International signings could have been better but we got 3 Cubans that could be everyday players.

    My biggest fear from the front office is trying to fast track this rebuild. It takes time and wasting money on a 32 year old former all star or trading away our top prospects is not getting us to the World Series any quicker. I know it sucks losing and seeing the cubs win but instead of trying to rush this thing wait it out like the cubs did and we’ll be celebrating a Reds World Series here on redlegnation. Sorry but all of this talk this offseason about wanting the reds to make a splash has been driving me crazy.

    • scottya

      I agree. I do think, however that the club can make a big move or 2 this offseason to put us into the 84-90 win range for 19′.

    • scottya

      The last time the Brewers were in the playoffs was 2011.

    • eric3287

      I have the same quibble with this as I had with Lance McAlister a few weeks ago. The Cubs won 85, 97, 83 games from 2007-2009. They had losing seasons in 2010 and 2011, but they weren’t rebuilding in those years. The actual rebuild started in October of 2011 when they signed Theo Epstein. They won 61, 66,and 73 games from 2012-2014. That’s 3 years of losing during their rebuild, followed by a trip to the NLCS, a World Series title, and another trip to the NLCS.

      Similarly, the Astros kind of sort of started their rebuilding in the middle of 2011. Hunter Pence was traded in July of 2011, so if you want to count 2011 as the start of their rebuidl, they had 4 losing seasons before making the playoffs in 2015. They followed 4 losing rebuilding years with 3 winning seasons (for the record, the Reds have not had 3 consecutive winning seasons since ’86-’88).

      The Reds should have started their rebuild in 2014 (I’d argue it really should have started in 2013, but after that season it was obvious they needed to get younger and deeper). They traded Cueto in 2015, so if we apply the same rules to the Reds, we’ll count the 2015 year as year 1 of the rebuild. In that case, unless they win 90+ games this year they’re already behind where the Cubs were. And in danger of falling behind the Astros.

      The Cubs increased their win total by 7 wins in the last year of their rebuild (66 to 73) and by a total of 12 from the nadir of their rebuild (61 to 73) the year before they broke through.

      The Astros increased their win total by 19 wins in the last year of their rebuild (51 to 70).

      In order to have any faith in this rebuild, the Reds need to win at least 75 games this year. Anything less than that and the rebuild will be delayed another year and will no longer really be a rebuild it will simply be 5 straight years of bad baseball.

      • David

        The Reds may win 75 or 80 games this year, but they are by no means out of the woods in terms of rebuilding. That may be a plateau that they hit and cannot rise about. Joey Votto is not getting younger, by the way.
        We have yet to see ONE very good potential starter emerge. Luis Castillo may be that guy, but that is based on his pitching for part of one season in the ML. He may regress, or he may hit a fairly low plateau. This may be as good as he gets. I hope I am wrong about that, but nothing is given.
        They don’t have the deep pockets of the Cubs to go out and buy several very good free agent pitchers to cap the rotation. The Reds are stuck on the absolute quality of their players. They don’t have a Kris Bryant in the wings, a potential NL MVP quality player. Senzel will be good, but he is not the breakthrough talent that Bryant was/is.

        This could be a great year for the Reds, I think the POTENTIAL is there. But these guys (especially the pitching) has to prove it on the field. Too much unknown about that.

  12. BigRedMike

    This is a great summary. There are 3 teams in the same division that made significant effort to get better, the Reds did nothing.
    Young starting pitching is not a bad idea, it will be up and down and will take time for consistency. Although, the Reds may already be behind the curve in that the good teams are now creating elite bullpens.
    The Reds tend to way overvalue their own players (Duvall, Hamilton, Gennett) and wait too long to replace them.
    The organization just seems to do things the opposite of what the successful power teams are doing, which may be due to a lack of money. That said, it appears that the power teams are doing a significantly better job of developing their own players.

  13. Indy Red Man

    That ain’t happening….but we could get somebody that could help?

  14. Indy Red Man

    Actually Votto was 16th but thats it. He doesn’t get steals or enough rbis to be any higher. Hrs and average but everyone hits 30-35 Hrs now. I tried to bid for him in one league that has on base percentage vs batting average but got outbid. I got Suarez dirt cheap though in almost every league and Castillo/Mahle as well

  15. sdkistler4

    What am I excited about?
    I am excited about Schebler. I think this will be a breakout year.
    Jesse Winker. We have been waiting a long time, and now is the time!
    Mesoraco-will his bat return? Will they trade him? What will we get in return? Going to be fun to find out!
    Garrett, Reed, Romano, Mahle, Castillo, Bailey, Finnegan—A real pitching staff!!!!
    Joey VOTTO! –How can you not be excited about Joey?
    A-you-hen-ee-OO Suarez–Going to keep on getting better!
    Senzel, Blandino and the others coming on quickly.

    What am I hoping to see happen?
    Win a few more than last year.
    Some of the young pitchers finally stepping up and settling in.
    A trade or two to open the way for the young guys.
    Some answers at shortstop.
    Somebody hit for the cycle!
    5 wins in a row, one for each of the starters.
    LOT’s of BASEBALL!

    Jason, I appreciate your attempt to get some positive responses! Ignore the naysayers and word those survey questions however you want!