For the second straight year the Cincinnati Reds outfield is crowded, so to speak. Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos, and Aristides Aquino are all vying for playing time. With no designated hitter spot, at least as of the time of this article being published, David Bell’s job as manager is a little tougher than it was last season when he could utilize that spot to get more at-bats and playing time for everyone.

Nick Senzel has been the player that many have discussed as being a possible solution to getting more playing time opened up in the outfield. Senzel came up as a third baseman, gave shortstop a brief try, and then moved over to second base. Then, on the brink of being ready for the Major Leagues, he made the move to the outfield. All of those moves were because another player who had already been established in the big leagues was ahead of him with the exception of shortstop. Now Senzel has established himself as a strong defender in center field, but his past experience at second and third could potentially allow a few players to slide around on a given day to open up a spot in the outfield. That could even include a time or two where Eugenio Suárez slides to shortstop.

“We’re open to all of those things,” said Bell on Thursday.  “I think there’s a lot of different things to look at – the comfort of the player, the consistency, maximizing our roster. For right now, with where we are in spring training, we’re going to allow everyone to get comfortable, get acclimated, get back into it and see where they are. Maybe nothing changes. Maybe we determine the best thing to do, for the most part, that consistency might be more important. The way Nick Senzel looks in the outfield, if we ever did consider moving him into the infield, we’d be missing a lot in the outfield. He’s really turned himself into a very skilled outfielder with really elite speed, athleticism. There’s a lot to consider. I do think we’re in a good place because we do have guys that can play multiple positions and we’ve done that over the course of the last couple of years, so we can’t be afraid to do that. It’s going to help us win, so it’s just balancing all of that.”

Bell said that Nick Senzel was the every day center fielder, but back tracked on the term “every day” just a little bit. The full set of quotes are important, though, when he was asked if he considered Senzel his every day center fielder.

“Yeah,” Bell said. “You look at who Nick Senzel is, and we know the talent, we know the ability. I’m excited, we’re all excited to see Nick consistently play over the course of a long season, stay healthy, get some breaks to be able to stay on the field for a whole year because we haven’t been able see that, he hasn’t been able to experience or enjoy playing that way – not concerned with health and all that. It’ll be fun to see. Nick, we believe is an every day player in this league, for sure, and right now he’s our every day center fielder.”

“So when I say starter or everyday center fielder when referring to Nick, my job is to get at least four outfielders regular playing time,” Bell expanded on when asked about Shogo Akiyama then being a left fielder. “Shogo’s going to factor into that heavily. We know what kind of player he is – we’ve talked a lot about that. He needs to be playing. Every day doesn’t necessarily mean every single day. There’s off days mixed in, there’s things that come up, there’s match ups to consider. At one point every day might have meant 162 games, but that’s not really what I mean when I say every day. We have at least four outfielders who need to play a lot, and Shogo’s one of those guys.”

Luis Castillo’s late arrival won’t effect his start time

The Reds didn’t have a full work out on time this spring as a few players were late arrivals, through no fault of their own, and one of those players happened to be Luis Castillo. As a pitcher, timing matters when it comes to being ready to open up the regular season. Spring is built around getting a guy ready for when the season begins – schedules, ramping up work loads, etc.

Castillo is going to be ready to begin the year on time, according to manager David Bell. The regular season, at least. There’s a chance he could be slightly behind the expected plan in spring training had he been able to arrive to camp on time.

“In the long term, no,” said Bell. “In the long term it won’t impact his readiness for the beginning of the season. But the plan to get there may be a day or two different than it would have been. He looks great, too. He was a couple days late, but physically he looks really good. Better than he did last year, good shape.”

While the St. Louis Cardinals announced that Jack Flaherty would start on Opening Day against the Reds, Bell said that he wasn’t ready to make the announcement for his team just yet. Part of that is due to the fact that Castillo was a late arrival and he and Sonny Gray are both in the conversation for the job. He did note, though, that getting the rotation lined up for the season was more important than who specifically goes on Opening Day.

61 Responses

  1. LDS

    The Reds could really use a manager vacancy. Soon.

      • LDS

        Through 2021 with a club option for 2022.

    • AZ DEAN

      With all the shifting of the infield you dont really even need to think about shortstop the way you used to. Senzel Suarez and Moose can be moved by batter due to shifts….suarez is at short when a lefthanded pull hitter hits. Play these guys together in the infield 90% of the time….helps the offense and gives the 4 outfielders plenty of playing time split. Farmer and whoever fills in in the infield as needed in any of the spots. Problem solved for a team that couldnt manufacture runs…need offense. the shifts help the defense.

  2. RedsFan11

    Based on Bell’s comments, The Reds have a solid 7 hitters for 6 positions in their lineup (Votto, Moose, Suarez, Winker, shogo, senzel, casteallonos). After that I think it’s a sharp falloff. You can’t have 33% of the lineup be almost an automatic out.

    Ownership didn’t want to spend the money at SS. Management shouldn’t use that as a cop out. Figure out how to get these 7 guys 145+ starts each

    • ClevelandRedsFan

      I wouldn’t say 33% of the lineup is an automatic out, and you’re counting pitcher spot in that too. That’s an automatic out for every team.

      Offensively SS will likely be below average, but Farmer may only be 10% or so below average. At Catcher, Stephenson could be average offensively. Mix that in with Tucker, and you’re maybe slightly below average there too.

      That’s a far cry from 33% of the lineup being an automatic out. Reds aren’t rolling Wilson Valdez and Drew Stubbs out there.

      • Hotto4Votto

        For his career Farmer is 27% below average on offense.

  3. MuddyCleats

    I like Senzel; I like his attitude/moxy – he brings some intensity which is really needed in Cincy IMHO. However, this kid has had problems staying healthy for various reasons. Last yr he had some tenderness in his legs which is normal for any athlete and a sore Left elbow. Likewise, he’s had surgery on his throwing shoulder, and he has on ongoing vertigo problem. I’m just not sure those things line-up for outstanding OF play ? It’s not like he’s a long legged CF type who glides like a deer across the OF and can make outstanding throws from the deepest part of the OF. He’s an infielder who plays a pretty good CF, but…. Moreover, his hitting hasn’t been above par either and he’s shown a lot of frustration from time to time bc of that. If they want to keep him in the OF, I’d play him in LF where he has fewer responsibilities and a much shorter throw. Hopefully, that would allow him to stay healthy and relax more so he can become the offensive player they drafted him to be. Once 2nd or 3rd opens up, then he becomes an infielder again

  4. Cubano

    His fallback phrase usb”it’s going to help us win.” Play Senzel in the outfield everyday? We have talked about what kind of player Nick Senzel is- we all know what kind player he is… playing him in the outfield everyday? It’s going to help us win.

    What about Shogo?

    Well when I say play Nick Senzel everyday, I really have too many outfielders and I have to shoehorn all of them into a limited number of spots. We have talked about what kind of player Shogo Akiyama is- we all know what kind player he is… playing him in the outfield everyday, is going to help us win.

    Such non-speak garbage

    • Cubano

      “ At one point every day might have meant 162 games, but that’s not really what I mean when I say every day.”

      Is this a joke?

      Does he have no idea where things are heading as we roll into spring training? Is it some amazing secret?

      Why use the words “every day” if you are actually saying well, we’re looking to platoon our best guys. So stupid.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        The term every day player to just about everyone doesn’t mean every literal day – it just means the guy who is going to start there most days. Everyone just about gets a day off here and there. That’s what he was saying about Senzel. He’s going to play 5-6 times a week in center field. That is the plan.

    • DataDumpster

      I’m used to this manager’s ability to say next to nothing with a lot of words but I’m getting that sinking feeling again. Was anything decided or a solid plan produced in the offseason? The low batting average, the opening at shortstop, the overabundance of good hitting outfielders, the roster flexibility, the poor defense, Senzel’s health issues, etc. It’s not as if we have a lot of new faces or situations to deal with.
      The only takeaway I have so far from Bell is “we’re open to all those things”. IMO, take advantage of positional flexibility to deal Winker/Suarez/Senzel with Moose/Castellanos (pick one from each group) to fulfill the midseason need (at reasonable cost) and prepare for a future without David Bell.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Less is more with Bell, especially with words. The more he talks the more clear which end of his body it’s coming from. Seriously, every time he tries to explain what he said he makes it more convoluted and inane.

  5. JayTheRed

    Let’s make this easy.
    Move Senzel to 2b
    Move Moose to 3b
    Move Suarez to SS
    Then there is plenty of AB’s for the remaining OF’ers. Plus we end up with a better overall lineup.

    • dogsea

      They can’t wont do that. Suarez will never play at SS. Get over that. According to Bell-Senzel is your everyday CF?? Depending on what “everyday” means.

    • 2020ball

      I’m not sure how they’ll approach it, but I would like to see this set up occasionally. I do think theres a chance this happens, but isnt very likely (I expect to see Suarez at SS,but I’m less sure about Senzel at 2B/3B). If we do see it, do not expect to see it very often.

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      In this scenario your defense improves at second base. But it gets worse at third, it gets significantly worse in center, and it is downright painful to watch at shortstop. Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo are big groundball pitchers do you think they are going to like their infield being brutal? All of that so you can do what get Aquino or Shogo some at bats over Farmer or Holder? That is so much movement to truly downgrade your defense just to get a guy who either can’t get on base some at bats or to get a guy who couldn’t hit a ball over the fence last year some at bats.

      • Jimbo44CN

        I’ll take Aquino and Shogo over Farmer and Holder any day. Aquino is possibly your best defender in the outfield. How is that a down grade?

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        The downgrade isn’t just “Aquino/Shogo over Holder/Farmer”, it’s also downgrading the defense at like 4 other positions to make that single move happen.

        If it were simply one of those guys over one of the other guys then it makes sense. That isn’t what happens though as you also weaken the defense at third base and shortstop and center field and two of those are the most important defensive spots on the field.

      • MBS

        Shogo would take over CF, and he almost won a GG last year. He is also a career CF, as opposed to Senzel short time in CF. So upgrade in CF. Senzel can cover 2B better than Moustakes, so upgrade at 2B. Moustakes has been a 3B his whole career, so no downgrade ,even at 3B. SS yes, there will be a downgrade defensively, but a huge upgrade offensively. Plus late in the game you can bring in a Defensive SS, like Holder or Rodriguez for the last 2 innings when you have a small lead.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Shogo almost won a gold glove for his play in left, not in center. Senzel is a better center fielder and it is not close. The Reds believe it. So does nearly every scout alive. Remember when he signed and all of the scouting reports were saying that he might not even be a center fielder these days?

        Geno’s a better defender at third than Moustakas is, especially now that he’s back to the trimmer version.

        Bringing in a defender late doesn’t matter if your crappy defender didn’t make that play in the 4th inning that is now the reason you are trailing in the 8th.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Moustakas had +1 DRS at 3B (granted very small sample size) in 2020.
        In 2019/2018 in a bigger sample size (218 GS) he combined for 0 DRS at 3B.
        Suarez had -4 DRS at 3B in 2020. In 2018/2019 combined he was -3 DRS at 3B.
        I think moving Moose back to 3B would be a wash defensively, and one could make the argument he’s better than Suarez has been.

      • John C.

        If anyone thinks this team can win with defense, they haven’t paid attention to who we put out in the field. I am in the camp of putting the best offensive team out there and see where we land. It’s not like we are the favorites. You have to take some chances if you have any hope of winning. Either Suarez or Senzel at SS. Sounds crazy, but increased offence is they only hope for us.

      • MBS

        I realize the GG votes were for LF, but Senzel has not shown GG level D at any position. When Senzel was in the minors they say he could play elite level 2B. Your only talking about your feeling about Senzel, not what he’s produced. Yes Senzel is faster, but Shogo gets better breaks. If we played in the West with big yards, then maybe I’d take Senzel’s speed.

        You also didn’t acknowledge Senzel would be an upgrade at 2B. And @ Hotto showed the numbers to back up that 3B is probably a wash.

      • Doug Gray

        Nick Senzel is a better defender than Shogo Akiyama is. The Reds seem very, very confident in that fact and I’m going to trust them on it.

        To get to the other point, though – Hotto showed 2020 numbers, which are essentially useless. Even if one believes defensive metrics are useful, they are only “reliable” when you have a sample size of about 3 entire seasons worth of data. Toss in that we know that Suarez wasn’t in the best shape last year, and was still recovering from shoulder surgery, we really shouldn’t pay too much attention to what the defensive stats say about him with regards to 2020 as it relates to how he’ll perform in 2021.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Which is why I showed the past three seasons worth of data….

      • Doug Gray

        Well this is what I get for replying on the back end and not the front end (the views are a bit different in how the comments are displayed. They aren’t “threaded” like on the front end, so you have to really search for what a reply was to in order to see it). I had read the comment earlier, but hadn’t responded directly to it and was going off of memory. Totally my fault for being a dummy.

        That said – Defensive metrics are iffy at best, and I really have issues with them for infielders (especially when compared to outfielders, where I think those are a little more accurate – but still a bit questionable).

        For the most part, I think all of the “move this guy here, that guy there, this dude over here, and that way we can not play Farmer/Holder” is just not worth all of the hassle. If there were a simpler solution that didn’t involve playing half of the team at different spots every other day then I could probably get behind it a little more. But the defensive downgrades, what that would likely result in for the pitching staff, it’s just a hard sell to me that it’s worth it to get a little more offense from Shogo/Aquino over whatever the heck the team winds up doing at shortstop. Just let Senzel, Moustakas, Suarez play their spots every day and know what to expect and hope they perform.

      • MBS

        No offense Doug, but I don’t think the Reds have said that. Senzel has been given a long rope, because most teams, and GMs don’t like to admit their top picks have failed. If Senzel was a 7th round pick, he be battling for the 4th or 5th OF position. I am not saying he’s a poor defender, he’s fine, but he is not elite. Being such a high pick he has a high ceiling, but it’s what you do that matters, not what you might do.

      • Doug Gray

        There’s a reason Nick Senzel plays center and only center, while Shogo plays left and *some* center. It’s why he’s the “every day” center fielder. At no point, really, has Shogo been talked about as being the center fielder since he signed with the team. Senzel might not be elite – but he’s clearly better than Shogo in the eyes of the Reds decision makers.

      • MBS

        Ok, I don’t want to seem like I’m going back and forth, it’s clear we have differing opinions on Senzel. I do want to point out what I said above, he has been given the longer rope because he was the #2 prospect, not because of what he’s done.

        If you look at the defensive metrics on stat cast, like Reaction, Burst, and Route you’ll see Shogo has better Reaction, and Route, while Senzel has better Burst. When you combine those and look at Jump Shogo was .5 feet vs average, and Senzel was .3 feet vs average. Had to look up Senzels 19 numbers because he didn’t get enough action in 20 to qualify. For added context Castellanos had -1.9 feet verse average. When you look at Shogo and Castellanos sprint speed, they are identical 27.7, while Senzels is 29.3. This was a long way of saying Shogo is the more skilled OF, while Senzel speed is greater, Shogo still gets there as fast because of his experience at reading balls, and running better routes.

      • Doug Gray

        When comparing Senzel’s 2019 to today it kind of misses that it’s very likely that Senzel’s numbers all got better as the season went along, and then did the same in 2020 because he had more experience.

        All of that said, Senzel rated out as a 0 outs above average outfielder in 2020, while Shogo was +1. Shogo played twice as many innings. The sample size for both guys was very small. End of the day, the Reds are clearly picking one to play center field and that’s where you play the better defender of the two. Whoever is making that decision for the organization is very convinced that Senzel’s the better defender between he and Shogo.

      • MBS

        I will concede that Senzels numbers probably increased as 19 went along, and we are only able to use small data sets. I will also add that Shogo is on the downward trajectory as a CF, and Senzel is on an upward trajectory as a CF as he learns and gets more experience. I think the reason this whole thread got started was the claim that the defense would suffer with Shogo in CF. I think the 2 are too close in skills to make that argument, if you would compare either of them to Billy Hamiltons defense of a few years ago, they’d both be outclassed. So maybe were just splitting hairs, but the second best thing to watching baseball is arguing about baseball.

    • TR

      The easy is often overlooked. A shakeup is needed offensively.

    • Steven Ross

      Makes too much sense so it’ll never happen.

    • Hotto4Votto

      We’d definitely sacrifice defense for offense, but the team needs more offense and was already in a rough place defensively. The FO didn’t go out and add anyone this offseason, so got to make the best with bad options. Suarez was a negative defender at 3B last season, so moving Moose over there likely would be a wash. Senzel would be an upgrade at 2B and the shift would minimize Suarez at SS. We have a small OF compared to most so OF defense is also minimized some.

    • Kim Henry

      We have all seen different scenarios over the past few months regarding the line up. With the current roster, I tend to agree with JAYTHERED. I would also include the possibility of platooning Castellanos with Votto, creating even more at bats for the outfielders. I don’t have the answer but I’m sure todays stats (which I see as overrated) could tell you haw many actual chances a shortstop has during a game. With that said, how much are you really giving up each game with a better offensive shortstop? I go up and down with this as if you have a solid offense, I think you can sacrifice offense for defense at shortstop.

  6. Frankie Tomatoes

    There is something to be said about just playing your guys where they know they will be playing. Moving around multiple guys every day just doesn’t seem like it’s a good plan. Let Geno play third, keep Moose at second, play Senzel in center when he’s healthy enough to play and just be done with it. Shortstop is going to stink no matter which way it goes so at least go with the defensive guy there to help out the pitcher and not give up a bunch of hits.

    • MBS

      Geno is the one who said he wants to play 3B, that’s how this latest SS controversy started. Moustakes is a natural 3B, and Senzel is also a natural 2B.

      • greenmtred

        Wasn’t Senzel drafted as a third baseman? I seem to recall that he was lauded for his play there in college.

  7. Jockstrap

    Makes too much sense, Reds have the players but as usual they don’t put the best team on the field or in the lineup, winker , castellanos, akiyama, Suarez, Senzel, moose, votto, c

  8. Matthew O'Neal

    I saw someone post this idea on Twitter and I don’t hate it – have Suarez start at short with Senzel/Moose at 3b/2b. Have Winker/Castellanos in the corners everyday, and Shogo/Aquino in center. Have your strongest lineup to start the game, but weaker defense. If needed later in the game, switch up for defense. Get Shogo and Senzel both in the outfield (take out Wink or Castellanos), and put in Holder to man short (or Farmer if Holder is returned to the Yanks).

  9. ClevelandRedsFan

    Doug, any chance Castellanos will get some time at 1B or 3B? He came up as a third baseman, but I don’t know if he was good defensively.

    • MuddyCleats

      Good Question, helps Reds and helps Reds move him when the time comes. Again, Votto needs a RHH to spell him @ 1B. I’d like to see Stephenson get some time there. AT 6’4″, Stephenson is a big catcher. Could he be Reds 1B if a long term injury occurs to Votto. Sure Reds could move Mouse there, but how does that help Reds vs LHP and rest Stephenson’s legs while keeping his bat in the lineup?

    • Old Big Ed

      Castellanos was putrid at third base defensively. He would be bad defensively, even as a DH. If they are going to move an outfielder to first base, it would likely be Winker.

      Aquino is the team’s only plausible defensive right fielder. Castellanos is there because of his bat, and RF is the best place to hide him defensively. He apparently puts in his work trying to improve, but he is as bad at defense as Votto is at running bases.

      If Castellanos tried to throw Votto out on the bases in an actual game, the ballpark might vaporize.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Now that’s funny. And I agree!!

  10. Klugo

    “Maximizing our roster” should be Priority#1.

    • TR

      The idea that everyone on the roster needs playing time is not going to produce a winning team.

      • Klugo

        When I think of “maximizing a roster”, to me, the first step is playing your best players most.

      • 2020ball

        Every team that knows what theyre doing get everyone playing time, the main guys just always get a bigger share.

      • TR

        Of course, playing time for roster non-regulars due to injury or needed rest of regulars.

  11. Klugo

    When I think of “maximizing a roster”, to me, the first step is playing your best players most.

    • Klugo

      whoops. I dont know what just happened there.

  12. Redgoggles

    I wouldn’t be opposed to moving David Bell’s position around too…..does he still have minor league options left?

    • RojoBenjy

      Some team may claim him off waivers

    • DataDumpster

      He still has some unfinished business with the Red’s farm teams. He has 3 losing seasons in AA followed by the worst record in Louisville history in 2012. They haven’t had a winning season since. I was hoping he would be shipped there along with all the minor league player they acquired this year.

    • Kim Henry

      NICE………….Opening paragraph of post states Bell’s job is more difficult this year. OH NO. We are in trouble. As many/most of us agree, use a core 8 player line up day in and day out; utilizing the bench for giving guys a day off now and then, covering for injuries, pinch hitting, and late game defense as felt necessary. If Bell continues to juggle line up, we will not be successful in my opinion.

  13. Roger Garrett

    I am sure Bell tells his players ahead of time when they will not play but for me you always go with the hot hand and not try to get everybody playing time just for the sake of getting them playing time.Bells job is to put his players in the best position to be successful while at the same time trying to win the game at hand.Injuries will happen and older guys will get tired but you can’t just set guys that are producing and play guys who aren’t.This roster has no flexibility.I could see right now the 4 outfielders that he is referring to could be your best hitters and if you throw in AA with his power and his arm you have 5.Best thing for the Reds is that 2 of these 5 grab a mitt and learn to play some at first or second or third.

  14. DataDumpster

    Some very good discussion and I (almost) have some sympathy for Bell trying to decide who to play when and where. (I guess that’s how he ended up with two everyday center fielders). The talent is present but if this is another whirlybird of lineup jockeying to find a 1% probability advantage for each game, then the 30% capacity limit may become a goal instead of an impediment.

    Stepping back, how did the team let go a very serviceable shortstop (Iglesias) and not replace him, get an expensive outfielder (Castellanos) when 3 other everyday outfielders were in the barrel, another expensive guy (Moose) when his natural position was already occupied and 2B is not a difficult position to fill, and a totally new slate of coaches (except Freddie who was needed to mop up after the balls and strikes arguments)?

    When I see Williams bail, Larkin stay but get out of the “consulting” end, the loyal Krall stay but not get any outside personnel help or money to spend, I can’t help but circle back to David Bell. This poorly constructed team probably suits his analytical bent just fine.

  15. 3rdbaseTom

    Listening to David Bell is a lot like, “Who’s” in center, “What’s” in left, and “I Don’t Know” is at short. It was a great comedy routine, but hopefully the Reds don’t dig a hole too deep before they figure out where their best players should be.
    Part of the problem is reporters want a “scoop” from managers and Spring Training has just begun.

    • DataDumpster

      That’s a good one. If I remember the routine correctly, “I don’t know”
      is at third and there was no name at shortstop. Hmm!