Joey Votto played 169 games at AA and AAA in the minor leagues. The Reds were patient with Votto, and it paid off for them. Votto recently said in an interview that at the time he was upset with the Reds for waiting so long to call him up, but that it helped him develop a mentality that he would never get sent back down.

Nick Senzel has played 79 games at AA and AAA. He has been hot over the last few weeks, but still only has an .809 OPS so far in 2018 at Louisville. The popular opinion here at RN is that the Reds are being ridiculous for not calling up Senzel yet. There is certainly a case to be made for having him on the big league club, but there is also a case for keeping him down.

There are two major benefits to not calling Senzel up. The first is because if the Reds wait a few more weeks, they will potentially save millions of dollars in arbitration. Some may view that as a cheap move to save dollars, but baseball is a business. The more the Reds save here and there, the more that will be available for other contracts. The second is service time. Senzel is past the point where calling him up would give cost the Reds a free agent year, but when he left a game last week dizziness, it was a swift reminder that a long DL stint while on the big league is wasted service time. You obviously can not control potential injuries from wasted service time, but it can be important to wait until a player is 100% ready so you can to avoid that risk as long as possible.

The Reds have received some criticism for not being aggressive like the Braves with their young players. There is a major difference though: the Braves are 19-14 and in first place, whereas the Reds are 8-27. The Reds have the luxury of being patient. If the Reds were 19-14, there is no doubt Senzel would be in the majors, and this would be an entirely different situation.

The other issue is this: the Reds still haven’t figured out where Senzel will play. Peraza is hitting .293/.314/.398 and has an .827 OPS over the last 15 days. You can’t bench him. Scooter Gennett has an .828 OPS over the last 15 days, and is coming off a season where he had an .930 OPS vs RHP (22nd best in the entire MLB). Gennett is an everyday player vs RHP, and you can’t platoon Senzel. If you bench Gennett he would lose trade value, although there is significant value in keeping him if you expect to compete in 2019. The Reds need to figure out where Senzel’s spot will be. That could sort itself out with a poor performance or an injury.

It is frustrating to watch a team be as bad as the Reds have been for the past four seasons reach a new low this season. If the Reds would call up Senzel it would certainly infuse much needed energy among the fan-base. But there is more value in keeping him down for at least a few more weeks. What is the downside in 40-50 more games in the minors? Patience my friends.

15 Responses

  1. Scott Carter

    I agree this season is a lost cause why waste the service time. I think the thing for most of us is that we are all just wanting to see some sliver of light that this terrible awful mess is coming to a close

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    I agree with you, Nick. He should be called up when he is tearing up and dominating Class AAA. Last year he started slow at Pensacola and finished very strong. If he is dominating at Louisville, he’ll come up with a confident air. He also needs to be comfortable at second base. Last thing the Reds need is someone else kicking the ball around at second.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    One could argue the Red’s record is partly because they didn’t call up the youngsters sooner.

    By subtracting Gennett’s infield defense, it would markedly improve the team defense. Senzel everyday at 2B, Gennett to LF in a platoon. Makes a ton of sense except when you consider that LF should be manned by Winker for the next 8 years. Scooter has real value to a team with playoff aspirations that wants to mix and match. Packaged with a ground ball machine who doesn’t surrender the long ball like Hughes plus Billy as a late game weapon, I’m certain this package would be enough to bring back a controllable core piece.

    Moreover, this is where positional versatility needs to be prioritized. Between Blandino/Senzel/Peraza/Suarez, you have a capable rotation of starters and backups. They could exploit pitching matchups and still not miss a beat on defense when a guy needs a day off

  4. Jordan Barhorst

    Peraza and Billy split CF duties 50/50, with Peraza starting 75% of games against RHP and Billy starting 75% of games against LHP. Billy is defensive replacement in close games after the 7th inning.

    Jesse Winker plays every day.

    Scott Schebler starts 90% of games in RF, meaning Winker plays LF
    Adam Duvall starts 10% of games Schebler doesn’t, but moves to LF, moving Winker to RF

    Senzel starts 50% of games at 2B against RHP (Scooter and Blandino split remaining 50%)
    Senzel starts 90% of games at 2B against LHP (Blandino gets remaining 10%)

    When Peraza isn’t starting in CF, he’s starting at SS.
    Against RHP when not starting at 2B and Peraza playing CF, Senzel plays SS
    Blandino and Suarez both available to play SS in a pinch
    If Peraza is starting in CF, he moves to SS when Billy takes over in CF after the 7th.

    Tucker and Mesoraco continue to play ~75/25

    Suarez mans 3B, Blandino and Senzel available for backup

    Votto is Votto

    • Scott Carter

      Not a bad idea, although perhaps a little complicated. A good manager (one that can manage lineups and personnel might pull it off. I would however just keep Winker in Lf and Duvall plays in right field against tough lefties.t

    • eric3287

      When you start trying to divide up playing time like this, the one thing that becomes abundantly clear is just how poorly constructed this roster really is. Not just in the sense of they’re 8-27 and a bad team, but the pieces just don’t fit at all.

      Let’s take Gennett, for example. A left handed hitter, he hits righties well, can’t hit lefties much at all, and isn’t very good defensively but can play 2B, maybe 3B and the corner outfield slots to roughly a draw. In an ideal world, a guy like that starts maybe 3 games a week, giving some rest to your 2B, 3B, and corner OFs against tough RHP. Well, Suarez is an established every day player. He’s your best or 2nd best player. He’s not taking a start a week from Suarez. The Reds already insist they have 4 OFs for 3 spots, even if they really don’t, so adding a 5th doesn’t make much sense. And even if you do, your corner OFs are already LHB; it makes no sense to start Scooter over Winker/Schebler against a RHP. Even Billy hits RHP better than LHP.

      This kind of dovetails in with the 4 OF situation. Instead of finding some kind of platoon situation where Duvall starts for LHP and Billy vs. RHP they have this weird rotation that has resulted in Jesse Winker starting Saturday and Monday vs. LHP and sitting today against a RHP.

  5. Sliotar

    Nick,

    Nice piece. The Reds situation does afford patience, because they are far from contenders at the moment, even if you factor in the current pythagorean record of 12-22.

    “Gennett’s trade value?” There might be some there, but not too much. His defense is bad and he is on-pace to provide around 1.2 WAR. That’s half of what he did last year and not close to the 2 WAR good teams minimally get from position players.

    Real courage would be to just walk away from Gennett at season’s end (if not traded). He will be too expensive to keep as a RH specialist bat off the bench and Senzel needs an everyday spot.

    However, it is more likely Scooter is viewed by Reds management as a “fan favorite”….all 2,000 or so of those showing up for weeknight home games.

  6. David

    Bring up Senzel when he is beyond Super 2 status in June. He needs to get 500-1000 ML at bats to determine if he is really a good hitter. Shed Long and Dilson Herrera are behind him in the depth chart. If Senzel bombs as a Major Leaguer (which I doubt) we have to find out sooner than later.
    Play him at Second, play him in Left field. Maybe even center. The scouts say he runs good!
    Play Gennett at Second (sometimes) and play Gennett in Left Field.
    Schebler should be starting most days in Center, with Jesse Winker most days in Right.
    Trade Gennett when and if there is any interest in him.

    Make a decision to fish or cut bait with Duvall and Hamilton. We only have 25 roster spots on the ML roster. Billy, IMHO, is not a ML hitter. Let him go or trade him for a bucket of baseballs or something. Quit fooling around with a guy that does not have any potential for an OPS over .650.
    And then bring up Phil Ervin to see what he can do.

    Keep the line moving. This is supposed to be a rebuild. Quit hanging on to useless spare parts.

    • james garrett

      Well said and I agree 100%.Time to move on from what you know about that ain’t getting it done and find if you have anybody that can get it done.I know nothing about the super 2 status or team control for 6 years vs 5 years because its not up to me anyway.What I do know is we are just playing around with this rebuild regarding who can or who can’t because we refuse to play them or set them.I mean look at what is being paid to Billy and Scooter this year and tell me we couldn’t have taken that money and got a good centerfielder.

  7. Ernest

    Reds may not want to bring up one of the top prospects in baseball because of Gennett? Same logic that has Duvall playing over Winker and how the Reds are on their way to 4 90 loss seasons.
    Not understanding this thought to continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

  8. eric3287

    One thing I often see when it comes to Senzel is “wait until he’s banging down the door.” My question is simple: what does that look like, specifically. What numbers constitute “banging down the door.” In the past two years he has put up a 184 wRC+ in AA and 130 wRC+ in AAA. In 2006, Votto posted a 177 wRC+ in AA (at age 23, Senzel was 21) and in 2007 he posted a 136 wRC+ in AAA (age 24 vs. 22 for Senzel). The dizzy spells I get. That’s a huge concern. But as far as raw numbers, what would constitute a call up?

    If the Reds are $5 million short of signing someone they feel they need to sign in 2023 to win a World Series, Bob Castellini should sell the team now.,

  9. Mason Red

    I say play anyone and everyone to see what talent is actually here. Trade Duvall,Hamilton and anybody else that isn’t seen as part of the “future”.

  10. davy13

    Real good reasoning, Nick. I agree. Let him get some seasoning, develop consistency, and build-up confidence so that when he is called up he is in the big-league line up to stay.

    At 8-27, the Reds season is not turning around by Senzel’s presence alone. Now, on the other hand, pencil Winker in the lineup everyday!

  11. Dave Roemerman

    Good read Nick, thanks. You saw that “never going back” mentality with Winker, too He interrupted a reporter in spring training, saying something to the effect of “Sorry to cut you off but it was a long time. It was 5 years. To me, I spent a long time in the minors.” If Senzel comes up feeling that way, it can’t hurt And yeah, with Peraza looking decent in replacing Cozart, it’s hard to find a spot in what was the Reds best infield ever (statistically). Depth is a good problem to have. So is too much pitching but…

  12. cfd3000

    I’m not as concerned about when Senzel arrives, but how much he plays after that. He’s a future all-star unless we’re all missing something big (or injuries derail him). Gennett is decent at best at the plate, and awful in the field. Senzel needs to be the every day starter once he arrives in Cincinnati, otherwise why bother? As to when, I like the idea of waiting until he knows he’s never going back down, a la Votto and Winker. I want him to want to be a star as much as we all want the same thing.