Reds Hot Takes and Hotcakes

As I mentioned in my first column, I want this to be a thing you read with your feet up on a weekend morning. Maybe you have a cup of coffee, maybe you have a little something stronger, or, maybe, this particular weekend morning finds you with some pancakes/hotcakes.

Dropping the Hammer

This sucks, not going to lie. Exiting the All-Star break, there was a real since around our Redlegs that they weren’t that far off of contention for a playoff spot in 2019. Four-straight losses to the Cubs and Cardinals, as well as a dropped series to the Rockies, has all but assured the exact opposite is true. Few expected a playoff team on Opening Day, but many hoped, which reminds me of a tweet I saw:

Dangerous, indeed. Especially when the results are nowhere near what was hoped for. In a game, I will not rehash, on Friday night, the Reds found rock bottom in 2019. They are now nine games under-.500 and are 2-10 since pulling within three games of that .500 mark. It is now looking more and more like the Reds will, once again, be watching the playoff proceedings from the comforts of their own homes, come October.

I’m here to tell you something you don’t want to hear: that’s ok.

It’s ok that the Reds don’t make the playoffs in 2019. This year needed to be the stepping stone from the bad years to the contending years. It is a rare thing, indeed, for a team to go from 90-plus losses, to playoff contention. Heck, even the Astros, who are recent world champions, spent six-straight years losing a ton. Their last season, before contention, they had Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve, and George Springer all contributing major playing time…and lost 92 games. This leads me to my next point…

The Reds will make the playoffs in 2020

It’s in writing now, I firmly believe it, I’m planting my flag in this thought. Hear me out.

The front office has shown that they can be trusted. Not just with the moves they’ve made in acquiring the likes of Luis Castillo, but also their new thinking in cutting bait on guys who aren’t producing, like Matt Kemp (remember him?) and Zach Duke. They’ve tossed out the whole idea of how they evaluate in favor of a less-subjective, more analytic point of view. Due to this, their team building has improved, and will continue to evolve through this next offseason.

The payroll is about to be opened back up, too. Something like $65 million is coming off the books, after 2019. With ownership showing a willingness to set payroll records in 2019, I have to believe Dick Williams and Nick Krall will be presenting a strong argument for stretching that number, a bit more, next year.

With that financial flexibility comes the ability to sign some guys who have shown their quality in a Reds uniform, this year, as well as go outside the organization. That gives a lot of wiggle room in trades. That also is the most important factor to a team in a smaller market, the ability to outbid the other teams that are in the small market areas.

Speaking of trades…

The Reds should be looking to sell of their expiring contracts

The fellows on the Hunt For Reds October podcast made a great point, on this week’s show. Sure, the Reds have no idea what they will get for these contracts that are ending, after the season, but that should not cripple the front office from even negotiating. If that were the case, would Alfredo Simon have ever been dealt for Eugenio Suarez?

Unload these one-year guys and try to get some lottery picks. In doing so, the Reds join the teams on the upside of this seller’s market and position themselves, enviably, to build for 2020 and beyond. Isn’t that what we’ve been wanting them to do, anyway?

The front office needs to officially begin their plans for the 2020 offseason, right now.

Trade Tanner Roark and slot Alex Wood into his spot. See what you have with him, if it’s decent, maybe he signs a cost-effective deal so as to avoid the strangeness that is the new MLB free agency landscape. Trade Jose Iglesias and slot Jose Peraza back into the everyday shortstop role. These are just some spitball ideas.

The future remains bright

The Reds are 14-19 in one-run games, in 2019. That is 19 games that, with one swing of the bat, could be completely different. The Reds are also 14-9 in blowout (5+ run difference) games. That tells me (beyond the fact I’ve seen most of them) that the Redlegs are competitive in every single game, and that’s with a lineup that lugs a .240 batting average and .725 OPS from ballpark to ballpark.

There are some gaps on this team, but not gaping holes. The front office has shown it is capable of making the right decisions to fill those gaps which will put the Reds in the perfect position to contend, with the window opening in 2020.