runningrainman

In Little League, no one wanted to play second base. Second sackers were too small to play first, too weak to make the throw from second or third, and too slow to cover the outfield. Playing second base was insulting. It was the coach calling you a runt and good-for-nothing small person in front of your family, your friends, and the scouts you knew were watching you from afar.

Which, if you think about it, explains why every good second baseman ever plays like a reincarnated Napoleon Bonaparte or at least like the Tasmanian Devil in stirrups.

The Reds’ current logjam of having four promising second basemen and one Alex Blandino becomes both a luxury and a sociological conundrum. These four players (and Alex Blandino) are all very talented but all just so unprepared to play anywhere else on the diamond. They are small, weak, and slow! They are a collection of John Mulaneys!

(Alex Blandino, on the basis of his hair, is not a John Mulaney.)

To one end, this overabundance of second basement is just a reframing of the classic Abbott and Costello bit.

— Who’s on first?

— No, Joey Votto’s on first.

— Then, who’s on second?

— Right.

— What?

— He’s also on second.

— Huh? I’m just trying to figure out the Reds’ second baseman. The Reds’ second basemen is… I don’t know?

— Yes, that’s correct.

At some point in the future, the Reds’ front office will have to decide between Who, What and I don’t know to play second base. Why? Well, he’s in contention for the position too.

The question then is (and much has been written about it already): What should the Reds do to solve their second base backup? And if you’re thinking “well, I don’t give a darn” then I’m going to need you to explain your reasoning because he’s at shortstop currently and we don’t need to make this more complicated.

Scooter Gennett

We’ll start with the current incumbent because his answer is the easiest: Scooter Gennett should be traded. I won’t make any caveats either. This isn’t a “trade him if the right offer presents itself” situation or a “trade him only if he really can’t play outfield” scenario. Scooter Gennett needs to be traded, full stop.

Here’s my logic:

  • The Reds’ biggest need is starting pitching.
  • The starting pitching market for non-prospect pitchers is slim at best.
  • Mike Clevinger might be the only non-prospect starter the Reds can reasonably pry off a contender.
  • Getting Clevinger will take trading Scooter and probably Iglesias too.

When trading assets, teams tend to trade from depth for need or best available. Scooter is extraneous depth at this point who will only become more expensive. Even if he does hit this well for the rest of his career, the Reds have not one, not two, but THREE potential replacements currently knocking on the door.

Trading Scooter is the best bet the Reds have at getting Major League quality pitching, or at least a top pitching prospect back. If 2019 is the first year of the playoff push, then Cleveinger or Shane Bieber or Justus Sheffield or Cionel Perez could all be good gets. But all of them require moving Scooter.

Dilson Herrera

The other current 25-man resident stands the most to benefit by a Gennett exodus from the Queen City. With Scooter gone, Herrera becomes the everyday man for the rest of the season. That’s ideal because the Reds need to know what they have in Herrera going into the offseason in order to acquire even more starting pitching.

There are three potential outcomes for a Dilson Herrera starter experiment:

  1. He hits like he has been in AAA, leading the Reds to name him the starter for 2019 and see if he can maintain for the first two months of the season. Nick Senzel will need to come back from injury in AAA for a couple months anyway, so a good Dilson Herrera gives them that grace period.
  2. He hits…well enough. It becomes clear that Herrera won’t be the second basemen long-term but can be a serviceable backup, and that’s valuable in itself.
  3. He tanks and can’t hold his own at the Major League level. Herrera essentially becomes a stop gap until Senzel can stay in the big leagues for good.

None of those are bad options! Even in scenario three, the Reds still have the Shed Long backup plan should Senzel deal with injuries forever and always. But the Reds need to figure out what’s going on with Dilson Herrera ASAP and trading Scooter is the only way to do so.

Nick Senzel

Ah, my pride and joy. As much as I want to say throw all the money at Senzel and make him the next Joe Morgan, that’s silly and short-sighted. What the Reds should do with Senzel actually depends on the results of the Dilson Herrera experiment.

If Herrera fulfills option 1 or 2, the Reds need to make a hard decision based on a two-variable calculus: How much faith do they have in Shed Long and how competitive do they believe they will be in 2019?

If the answers are “So much” and “Very,” then the Reds should deal Senzel this offseason for the best starting pitcher they can find. Assuming that through some black magic a Gennett trade does net Clevinger and that a Senzel trade gets someone like Chris Archer or Marcus Stroman, then the 2019 Reds’ rotation looks real good:

  1. Clevinger
  2. Archer / Stroman
  3. DeSclafani
  4. Mahle
  5. Castillo

Think about that. The Reds’ Opening Day starter from 2018 becomes their No. 5 in 2019. I’d call that an upgrade. And if any of those guys get hurt, then you have a serviceable Sal Romano and a cranky Homer Bailey to slide in.

However, if Herrera goes the option 3 route, the Reds should keep Senzel and Long, instead looking to spend on a free agent pitcher (Jacob DeGrom?) instead of trading for one.

Shed Long

Poor Shedric, the odd man out in all of this. His best chance to make an impact for the Reds at second base requires Scooter to be traded, Dilson to tank, and Senzel to never overcome his injuries or be traded. I personally think the Reds should hold on to Shed at least until he’s proved that AAA is no match for his talents, but there’s no harm in shopping him either. Long has upped his prospect status so much in the past couple years that there must be some team willing to overpay this offseason.

Really, I just feel bad that there’s no clear path to the Reds because he seems like a likable and fan-friendly fellow.

Alex Blandino

I love Alex Blandino, let’s not overlook that. It’s just…Jose Peraza has played better. And is younger. And yeah, that’s about it. I think Blandino could carve out a nice career as a utility man, but I also wouldn’t mind sending him back to AAA and letting him get constant reps. He’s an enigma to me.

Whatever the case, there are ways out of this logjam that can tangibly help the Reds win in 2019. They just all involve trading Scooter. I’m sorry, but I don’t give a darn.

runningredshawaiiman

Prospect to Watch: Not the most eye-opening choice here, but with Yasiel Puig on the DL, Alex Verdugo could have his opportunity to make an impact this season fantasy wise. He’s the Dodgers top prospect, who at the very least will make some noise next year after Puig inevitably leaves LA. He’s also 22 with an OPS of .907 at AAA, which like, he’s ready for the Show.

Author Views: With the holiday and my admitted laziness, I haven’t written much in the past two weeks, allowing Jason Linden to sail by me in the standings. However, have no fear, I will avenge myself with sometimes questionable Reds’ baseball takes.

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22 Responses

  1. DHud

    I don’t see the Indians willing to part with Clevinger in the middle of a contention year. The upgrade at 2B probably isn’t worth the downgrade in starting pithching.

    Getting Stroman or Archer would pretty much gut the farm system I’m afraid; I don’t know if I’m willing to do that

    I’m not ready to bank on Shed just yet. Sure, he’s looked good for awhile now, but hedging your contention bet on someone who is still in AA seems like a HUGE gamble

    • Ben

      I think our farm system is so stocked right now that we could make a big acquisition and it’d still be an average farm system.

  2. Jeff Gangloff

    I play 2B for my softball team. I take offense to this article.

    Also, don’t forget about Matt Harvey. Him packaged with Iglasius and Scooter could pry a decent starter from a contender. That perfect fit is going to be very hard to find, though.

    I think back to the trade the Reds made for Latos. I think that kind of pitcher is more obtainable for the Reds than a quality starter on a contending team. To get a guy like Latos, though, its going to require prospects. One of which is probably Nick Senzel or Hunter Green (which saddens me to say).

  3. Larry

    You are funny. When I was in little League, they played me in right field. I was convinced that they wanted me as far away from home plate as possible. I like your potential trade, but I think we would need to add a player. Hoe about Gennett, Iglasius and Bob/Steve? I know Stevenson has been pitching well of late. Trade him while he has some value. He’s been in the reds organization, what, seven years? Either trade him now, or wait for Harvey to go, then start him every fifth day to see what he is really made of.

  4. Scott C

    I too take offense at that I played second base most of playing career. Just because I’m 5’8″ and weighed around 175 during that time with no arm is no reason to pick. I had a good bat. I couldn’t hit but my bat was really good.

  5. Redlegs64

    I am probably in the minority on RLN – but I believe the best route is to stay-put with the exception of Matt Harvey (unless he can be retained for a reasonable 2 year deal).

    The Reds have displayed a top tier offense – even with the obvious holes. Don’t mess with success!
    The Reds are figuring how to effectively use the pieces available – Billy batting in the 9-hole and Winker/Schebler performing at a higher level. Duvy provides a power bat (terrific clutch hitter) and his defense is always exceptional. Plus he has swooned in August the past couple years – let’s see if he is more fresh this August with the regular platooning. Was it the Cubs announcers that said “this is a playoff ready offense”?

    That leaves the pitching, to which Wesley is advising that the Reds make a deal to alleviate the logjam at 2b. The road has been long and arduous – Feldman, Arroyo, Bailey, Finnegan. But the path is becoming more clear and Danny Darwin/Ted Power are the keys to success. Their consistent tutelage is critical to the continued development of the young arms. So to expedite progress the steps are;
    1. BobSteve takes Harvey’s spot after the trade
    2. buy out Bailey’s contract (let’s get the inevitable over with – Arroyo 2.0)
    3. sign a FA work horse (Corbin, Stroman, deGrom, etc.)
    4. more reps for Castillo, Mahle, Romano, Reed, Stephenson, Rainey, Finnegan to settle the roles for 2019

    If Senzel and D Herrera (couple good ABs in start vs Tribe) are ML ready, then there will be a spot for them – injury coverage and valuable utility roles are not “failure”. We tend to think everyone must be a starter to be happy, but the team needs 25 contributors to compete in the rugged NL Central.

    • Ben

      Why would you buy out Homer’s contract and then sign a FA work horse pitcher? You think anybody in the owner’s box wants to buy out the end a long, expensive starting pitcher contract that didn’t work out due to injuries, to immediately create another one of those contracts for another starting pitcher? Why not just pay out that Homer contract over the course of a season and have a little more money in the kitty for extending a young cornerstone player a la Suarez and Barnhart?

      We have more prospects than money & I imagine we’ll acquire “the missing piece” by paying from our prospect account if at all possible.

      • REDLEGS64

        Sounds like we agree on the basic point – don’t trade away the prospects.

        And there’s simply no way out of Homer’s contract. No team wants him, as he’s unfortunately declined (a la Brandon Phillips). So what are we gonna do? Keep him in the rotation and block a spot, just like we did in 2017 with Arroyo/Feldman? He doesn’t want to go to the bullpen and he leads ML in home runs allowed. Plus, to keep him in the rotation is counterproductive to young arms that need ML reps. We can pay him $25M to take up a roster spot or we can have a fire sale – give him away and still pay his salary (or a portion of it). Either way, the cost is sunk.

        The Reds have reduced payroll with the departures of Phillips, Cozart, Mesaraco (via Harvey). Sure, there is the chance another pitcher suffers the same fate as Homer. But if 2019-2022 are the window, we’re gonna need a top line starter – next year! I’m proposing that we look around the FA market and sign a pitcher that fits our needs – NOT trade away good young players because of a logjam.

        I like Homer. I love that he’s a bulldog on the mound and it’s unfortunate what injuries have done to his career. I also liked Mesaraco, Arroyo, BP. But I think we have to agree that it’s time to move on.

    • Joe

      Aside from buying out Homer Bailey I agree 100% with everything in your post. I think signing Harvey to a 2 year deal would be awesome.

  6. roger garrett

    Unless you are the Yankees or Red Sox,to say we have one guy blocking another is just dumb.The infield is a position of strength for the Reds so you most trade from this position to acquire players to fit your needs.Nothing knew right?Nothing we don’t know right?Wesley just said all of this right?His first scenario was to trade Scooter and taking out all of the buts is the right thing to do period.We can then discuss what Scooter brought in the trade.We are the kings of the wait and see mentality so do it and move on.Clevenger is interesting although I think Castillo,Mahle,Bob,Garrett or Lorenzen could be just as good.Maybe he is available.

  7. Wesley Jenkins

    You are right. I even wrote an article on that. Here, I was a big idiot.

  8. Sliotar

    I like the outside of the box thinking…but:

    deGrom – not a free agent to be, has 2 years of arbitration left (and is 30 YO, FWIW)

    Stroman – 2 years of arbitration left. Will likely be looking at Yu Darvish plus deal (6 x 20M), minimum for 2021, entering his age 30 season.

    Archer – is 29 YO, has 3 years left…all at less than $9M per season. There is so much surplus value there, plus Rays are trying to get downtown Tampa stadium approved and he is the face of the franchise…..likely would have to a clear, severe overpay to land him.

    Just heard discussion on MLB Radio while working that the market for SP at the trade deadline stinks.

    I am most definitely not in the “must win in 2019, make some sacrifices” camp.

    Let Mahle/Castillo try to be the 1/2 guys, see if Disco can make it through next season as his old self and add a couple of low-risk “B” SPs….and outscore teams in 2019 and see what happens.

    It feels like landing an ace is going to be difficult this off-season….so don’t force it. The window hasn’t even started to open yet.

    • Wesley Jenkins

      ah youre right, I saw DeGrom on a 1-yr deal and forgot about arbitration. As for Stro and Archer, both have been rumored to be shopped at this deadline anyway. It would take a Senzel like prospect (plus Tony Santillian probably) but they could both be moved. TB to their credit now has Snell as well and are more likely to keep him than Archer

  9. Hanawi

    Reds are apparently looking at Zach Wheeler again. Could have had him for Bruce back in the day. Maybe the Mets want Herrera back?

    • Sliotar

      Interesting perspective, Jim.

      The final equation of the return for Harvey isn’t a straight-forward “flip”.

      Beyond the $ involved, there were opportunity costs:

      -The Reds missed a chance to deal Mesoraco to the Mets in April, when Travid d’Arnaud broke his hand and the NYC media mentioned a trade. Mets were off to an unexpected hot start, would have been motivated buyer.

      -The starts Harvey made in place of guys the Reds are going to have to “fish or cut bait” with ….like Bob Steve, Cody Reed, Garrett (as a starter).

      If the Harvey trade nets a near-MLB player…it was all probably worth it. If it’s a lottery ticket that we won’t know about until 2022 or so…

      • Jim Walker

        The Reds were trying to make nothing ($13M sunken cost this year alone) into something and in the process do right by one of their own who had fallen out of favor through no fault of his own,

        Maybe they could have done better, maybe not; time will tell.

        Like I said yesterday, MLB really needs an least an injury triggered buyout system.

  10. Joel

    Is it impossible for any of our reasonably good middle infielders to learn how to play in the outfield?

    Second, am I mistaken that Trevor Bauer signed only a one-year deal with Cleveland this season for only $6.65 million or there abouts? In that regard, shouldn’t the Reds offer a really sweet deal to the guy for 2019?

  11. Bill j

    I thought the Yankees were after Wheeler.

  12. KDJ

    Trade the NL leader in BA and a top reliever for an unproven prospect? I enjoy your articles, but yikes. I would not go near that high for someone unproven at the MLB level.

    • Wesley Jenkins

      None of the deals in the piece were complete trades, just the players they would centered around. Also, Iglesias was only included in the Clevinger hypothetical, who is indeed very proven

  13. roger garrett

    Great point Jim but the people that count forget what Bob did last year and sure it was only 11 starts and he has only 19 starts overall in the big leagues but hasn’t he been punished enough.Good grief he has swing and miss stuff and nobody can hit him in the minors.