FanGraphs’ latest projections show the Cincinnati Reds as a .500 team and right in the middle of the NL Central race. Is it possible that the Reds could actually be a contender in 2019? Doug Gray and I discuss that possibility in this week’s episode of Redleg Nation Radio.

We also discussed Cincinnati’s roster and how it could still be improved, plus more Viewer Mail.

Follow us on Twitter: @redlegradio. Music for this episode provided by Freekbass, a big Reds fan and a friend of Redleg Nation.

You can listen to the podcast on this page, with the nifty little audio player just above. If you prefer, you can also go here to download it and listen at your leisure. For links to all previous episodes of Redleg Nation Radio, check out the podcast’s home page.

Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or whatever podcast device you use. Redleg Nation Radio is also available through Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio.

Please subscribe, and give us a rating/review over at iTunes (or wherever you found us). If you like us, tell your friends! However, if you don’t like us…maybe just keep your mouth shut?

Finally, Podcast-related questions and comments can be directed to me via email ([email protected]) or on Twitter.

23 Responses

  1. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Can they? Sure. It all depends upon the starting pitching, I believe. Would I put money on it? Nope.

  2. Oldtimer

    Could they win the NL pennant (and WS) in 1990 coming off a lousy 1989 season?

    Could they win the NL pennant in 1961 coming off a terrible 1960 season?

    A: maybe.

    • David

      The Reds were lousy in 1989 because everybody got hurt except for Eric Davis. Paul O’Neill, Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin, Joe Oliver, etc. were all hurt and missed all or part of the year. Healthy in 1990, got off to a blazing start , and had the bullpen to close out games. Jose Rijo came back the second half of 1990, and was dynamite in the playoffs.

  3. WVRedlegs

    Can the Reds win the division? Where is all this delirious optimism coming from??
    For the 2019 season, sure anything is a possibility. But first, aliens will have to abduct the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Milwaukee Brewers for that to happen.
    A more realistic question is, can the Reds get out of the NL Central cellar in 2019??
    The Reds did increase payroll by a little, but not what they led everyone to believe. They brought in 5 average ML players, and average is what they will be in 2019. Being average is a step up from being awful. But being average is not enough to win the NL Central, let alone to even contend. The Reds downfall in 2019 will be a large sub-.500 record within their own division, again. They can be close to .500 against the rest of the NL and in interleague play, but within their own division they are still lacking.
    The Reds marginally increased payroll. What will that mean? Living in the Central Cellar got more expensive in 2019.
    When the “get the pitching” banter was so bombastically proclaimed, who knew it really meant “get the hoping to rebound mediocre pitching” ?? That $18MM in increased payroll bought a boat load of question marks. It also bought the Reds a probable middle of the road draft spot in the 2020 draft. But over the last year or so, Doug Gray and Steve Mancuso have so eloquently explained to us that in today’s MLB, finishing in the middle is a no man’s land. Right where the Reds are heading.
    So what exactly did the increase in payroll and trade activity buy the Reds? Still a last place finish and a probable decreased draft standing. Woo-hoo. Half-way all-in again. Just like 2015. Deja vu all over again.

    • David

      Winning baseball in 2019? Probable, but the games have to be played to see if the Reds finish over 0.500.

      Winning the division? Possible, but not probable. They don’t have enough pitching talent. But who knows how people will really produce once the season starts?

      Christian Yelich had a “career year” with the Brewers. He might have another very fine year with them, but is it likely to be better than 2018?
      Likely Kris Bryant will have a better year for the Cubs in 2019 than 2018, but what about the rest of their lineup? Not going bad, but will they sustain their performance? And will those old guys still be pitching well?
      I do sort of think that one of the Cardinals or Pirates will “fall off the table” in regards to performance. The Reds could slide into 4th or 3rd place in the division in 2019.

      • Roger Garrett

        We are 3rd at best but that’s good with me.We can sort through all of these guys on one year deals and try to keep the performers and go into next year with guys closer to the show and some money to spend.Its much better then just throwing warm bodies out there and hope they last past the 4th as we have done for what seems like forever.Its much better then hoping Billy turns the corner this year like we have the last 5 years.We added 3 starters that have had success in the league and may just improve this year.We have been so bad for so long and at least we look much better on paper compared in the past when we knew as did everybody else we would we awful.Sure our division is tough but it is what it is when you just flounder around pretending to be an MLB franchise and fall behind while others try and improve.

    • LWBlogger2

      You don’t want to linger in “no man’s land” but one year in “no man’s land” may be a good thing for the team and its fanbase. This is a city and team that has been brutally awful the past few seasons, with last year being the worst. 77-84 wins is a huge step up and gets fans to maybe start paying attention again. The Reds should have a good amount of money and should still have the prospects, who will hopefully be MLB ready, to be able to make a real run in 2020-?… This with a very nice free-agent pitching class they could mine in the off-season.

      No, you don’t want to be a team like the O’s were for a long time that kind of was one foot in, one foot out from year to year. One year in that posture however isn’t going to be bad for the 2019 team. This isn’t 2015 when the team was on the downward slope. I’d look at it as getting the motor running to start competing soon.

      And who knows? With some breaks, 85 wins may take this division. There are no 2018 Reds or 2011-2012 Astros to beat up on in this division.

    • Goat

      Wow. How a true fan you are. You would rather them finish last so they can have a higher draft pick? I really like your thinking.

  4. TR

    After the last five year stretch since Dusty was let go, I’ll settle for a .500 season as preparation for contending in 2020 and thereafter.

  5. Old-school

    If the Reds come out of spring training healthy -and the quartet of Gray, Castillo, Wood and Roarck can string together some good starts right out of the gate, then the Reds could sprint out to a solid April. Win some series against the Pirates, Marlins, and Padres. Send an early message to the Cards and Brewers by going 5-3 in those games. Then play solid baseball against the Dodgers and Braves.

    Assuming health and depth, I could see the Reds at 17-13 on May 1 and ready for a good summer of baseball. The Reds will hit and score runs at GABP when the weather warms.

  6. Jreis

    I see 2019 as a “ break “ from the rebuild. And let’s face it as disgruntled reds fans we deserve it! I think we will be a regular , average nl team. We may even have a winning record at home which will be nice. I think at least the games will be more competitive too. I’m hoping there will be fewer 16-2 blowouts this year. Hopefully Scooter and Phil Ervin won’t have to pitch this year! Lol

    • Doug Gray

      As long as Alex Blandino gets to show off his knuckleball…

  7. Ronald Couch

    You need to ask yourself a couple questions in order to answer that one. First, did this huge roster change, did they improve by 28 games, the distance they finished out of first last year? Obviously not. Did they improve by 14.5 games, the distance out of fourth place last year? Maybe, and the Pirates took a bit of a step back so far this off season, so 4th is a realistic goal. Another thing that gives some perspective to this is what a team that thinks they can win the division did. Adding Andrew Miller and the best move of the off season, trading for Paul Goldschmidt, are moves that show the expectation of winning the division, not just trying to make your attendance rebound by adding a bunch of players who will walk at years end. My question is what does this mean for 2020 and beyond? are all of our top prospects going to be ready next year, and if not, what is the plan, or didn’t they think that far ahead?

    • jay johnson

      May I remind you that Goldy is signed for one year and the cards gave up real ml talent to get him.So far we have given up nothing but weaker prospects and Zero major league ready,help now type players.

  8. Alex

    This talk is crazy. Again, all the talk has been about Sonny gray from a strictly him pitching better. It needs to be reiterated that grays struggles are recent, his injury history is the real issue. I would compare him alot to disco. Teasing and tantalizing and then pulling something. I just can’t for the life of me understand the rush to extend an oft injured pitcher considering the terrible experience they have had with injured players and contracts.

  9. Goat

    They can reach 500 very easily. The starters they had can be more beneficial in the bullpen, Mahle, Romano. They can do way better than 500 if the trade for someone like Kluber, but that won’t happen.
    If they were more willing to trade Senzel then they would be contenders for a few years. With Senzel, they’ll be a tad above mediocrity for the next few years.
    They have a solid foundation offensively , and their pitching is average or better, but with one stud added to this rotation the expectations would be so much higher.
    It’s comparable to about five or six years ago when they were solid with their pitching but deficient with their hitting.
    I am pleased with all of the moves they’ve made but with that one more move it would pay very huge for them in the short term. If everyone is satisfied with a 500 team then yeah they’ll probably achieve that.
    The opportunity is now because after this year you won’t have these caliber of players for the amount of their current cost. Either go out and make a deal for an ace or feel content with a 500 team.

    • greenmtred

      You probably didn’t mean it quite this way, but it sounds as if you’re saying that Senzel will prevent them from being good. The point is that Kluber or another expensive ace would improve the pitching every 5th day at the cost of the pieces you had to trade to acquire him. The Reds will be losing possibly key components of the improved offense after this year, so trading the next wave for one starting pitcher could easily be counter-productive.

      • LWBlogger2

        Right… And making a trade like that for Kluber, even as good as he is, may make the competitive window earlier but will likely make it much shorter. This is especially true when you look at the FA pitchers available after the season. Going into 2020, the Reds have the money to BUY an ace. “But no pitchers want to pitch here!” We don’t know if that’s true. Money talks. Also, if the reverse were true, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper would sign here for pennies on the dollar so they could hit in such a great hitters’ park. Ok, admittedly that’s an over-simplification but the general premise that “Hitters should want to play in GABP.” should apply just as much as the opposite about pitchers. We haven’t seen that. So, will Chris Sale turn down $30-million a year for several years because he doesn’t want to pitch in GABP? Doubtful.

    • TomN

      As much as I’m looking forward to Denzel, I agree with GOAT.

    • TomN

      As much as I am very excited about seeing Senzel this year, I agree with GOAT. We need an Ace. I’m worried that Gray is not going to be much more than mediocre. We need an Ace. If that means parting with Senzel + others (depending on who they are), then I’d rather see that as painful as it would be.

      • greenmtred

        Trading a lot of talent for an ace would likely mean going for it this year with the competitive window possibly limited to this year, given how many guys the Reds will lose before 2020. That’s all the eggs in one basket (I seem to favor poultry metaphors today), and I don’t think it makes sense. Even with Kluber or Bauer, the Reds don’t look like a championship team this year, and without the talent they’d trade for either of them, they won’t look like one in 2020 or beyond, either.

    • Steven Offenbaker

      So “Way better than 500 with someone like Kluber”? Let’s say we trade Senzel plus to get Kluber, and he now takes over Disco’s spot in the rotation. that’s 13 wins difference last season between those two pitchers.

      I’m sorry but Senzel plus more prospects and the extra millions are not worth the 13 wins. I like the approach the Reds have taken with the pitching, 3 solid #2-3 types that can win you alot of games when they are surrounded by these hitters