There aren’t going to be any more Cincinnati Reds games until next spring. But there’s certainly going to be plenty of things that effect the Reds over the next few days, weeks, and months.

No More “Ghost Runners” in extras

Maury Brown of Forbes reported earlier today that we’ve officially seen the last of the “ghost runners start on second base in extra-innings” experiment from Major League Baseball. That rule has never applied during the postseason. But Brown reports that it’s also not returning for the regular season moving forward.

Decision Day

The Cincinnati Reds have options on both Tucker Barnhart and Wade Miley. Nick Castellanos has a player option for 2022 (that if he chooses also locks him in for 2023). Justin Wilson also has a player option for 2022.

Options must be decided on within 5 days of the end of the World Series.

Teams also must decide in this time frame if they will extend a qualifying offer to a player who is an impending free agent. Michael Lorenzen and Mychal Givens will both be free agents unless they agree to deals with the Reds beforehand. Neither player seems remotely likely to be offered a qualifying offer.

Before Decision Day (TM) arrives we’ll have some breakdown of the four players with the Reds who decisions will be made with.

Free Agency

Once you are done laughing at the idea of the Reds using free agency, and trust us, we here at Redleg Nation understand where you’re coming from, the team probably will use free agency to fill some holes in the roster. Who they go about acquiring is going to be the big question. Right now there doesn’t seem to be any confidence the team is going to be big players in the market, but hey – maybe Brandon Phillips will finally be right about Bob inventing some new produce and that can be used for the Reds payroll.

Free Agency begins 5 days after the World Series ends. Of course, with the collective bargaining agreement ending a few weeks after that, players and teams both may be hesitant to do a whole lot right out of the gate.

The CBA Deadline

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on December 1st.

There are a lot of feelings about whether or not the MLBPA and the owners will come to an agreement in time to lead to an uninterrupted season in 2022. But there’s plenty of time between when the current CBA expires and when players would need to show up for spring training in mid-to-late February.

Looking back at preseason predictions

Back on March 31st some of the Redleg Nation crew gave their record predictions and offered up some words about why they went with the record that they did. Six of us gave it a shot and one of us got the record right. Am I including this because it was myself who got an 83-79 record correct? Maybe.

But there were some things that others got right, too. Nick Kirby felt that the biggest key to the season was health, noting that the team didn’t have great depth. He predicted 87 wins, and well, maybe had the team been a little healthier he could have been correct.

Jason Linden was pretty spot on with his overall assessment of the Reds when he had this one to go with his 85-win prediction:

Everyone does what we should expect them to do and the Reds are at least in contention for the most mediocre division in baseball.

It’s an interesting look back to see what we thought the season could look like now that we know how it went. As the old saying goes: You can’t predict baseball.

146 Responses

  1. Shawn

    Doug, if there is a players strike, do the minor leagues still play? I saw someone ion Fangraphs say that they would still have the minor league season but that players in the 40 man couldn’t play. I didnt think they played play time.

    • Doug Gray

      What you read is correct – the minor leagues would go on, except for players on the 40-man roster. Those guys are a part of the MLBPA and would not play in the minors until a new CBA is agreed upon.

      • Shawn

        I’ve got so I enjoy the minor league games more than watching the Reds. This makes my day.

  2. CI3J

    Too bad about the ghost runner rule. I liked it and I thought in the end, it ultimately helped shorten games and helped save pitchers’ arms. Plus it added an extra layer of excitement to extra innings.

    I’m a baseball purist, but I thought this was a reasonable and positive step forward. Shame it didn’t last.

    • MK

      Have a hard time believing this rule will be gone as it was popular with players, managers and coaches and most non hard headed fans. This might be a negotiation point in CBA.

      • Bob Purkey

        Sorry to disagree, but an absolutely idiotic rule. . .what’s next, a short-centerfielder like softball?

        With teams carrying 13 pitchers, and all of the comings and goings from the minors, along with the 26th man rule, there is no reason that managers should not be able to handle extra innings from time to time. If you want to do that in the 14th inning or later, maybe, but not in the 10th

      • greenmtred

        I tend to agree, but the rule was ostensibly intended to shorten games. I’m not entirely certain whether the problem is length of games or that they’re often boring, particularly to young people who aren’t established fans.

    • Jim Walker

      Since everyone dislikes cross sports references (at least when the other sport is international football or ice hockey), I’ll add that for me starting the ghost runner in the 10th inning was like going straight to a shootout/ penalty kicks without having some overtime play first 😉

      Of course in regular season NHL hockey OT is just 5 minutes of 3 on 3 (plus goalies). Imagine that in baseball! A pitcher and maybe 4 position players but only 1 out per inning maybe. People would be howling for the ghost runner system by the end of the frst week.

    • Michigan Red

      I agree 100% about the ghost runner. Letting extra inning games go on forever just for the sake of ‘old time’s sake’ is silly. Baseball needs to evolve. Keep this rule. And for goodness sake, force teams to keep two infielders to the left of second base at all times until the ball is pitched.

    • Scott C

      I too like the rule, have used it in High School for quite some time.

    • doofus

      Starting a baserunner at 2B during extra innings is something you see in youth showcase tournaments. MLB is the big boy league.

    • Tomn

      +100
      As a ‘purist’, I thought I’d hate it. But it made extra innings exciting right from the start and ended never-ending games.

  3. Don A

    Good for getting rid of the “Ghost Runner”.

    Would like to see Barnhart, Miley and Castellanos stay.

    Lorenzen and Givens can both go.

    Just think what the Reds record could have been if not for the bullpen issues…

    • Alan Horn

      I agree. It is not earned baseball. It is welfare baseball. It puts the pitcher behind the 8 ball to start off the inning. I am a baseball purist. Every base gained should be earned. That is why I hate the BB, errors and HBP. They are all self defeating by the defense and not earned by offense(maybe the BB). I believe you should hit, bunt or sacrifice to gain a base. That’s just me. You are just lucky if you get on any other way.

      • Alan Horn

        You know you are getting old when you leave out your favorite method of gaining a base(playing and coaching). The stolen base. Speed never slumps. I am talking primarily stealing 2B.

      • Stock

        Isn’t a single a lot of luck too? BABIP is used to identify how “lucky” a hitter is as opposed to how good he is doing.

        Walks are a huge part of baseball. Errors are huge. If errors were cancelled out in some way Joey Votto could play SS.

        I agree that umpires should not give a BB just because you are hit. A player must make an attempt to get out of the way. Many times they lean into it knowing that hitting the plastic elbow guard does not hurt. I have seen a player HBP on a strike and go to 1st base. That I agree is sad.

      • Alan Horn

        If you hit the ball hard most at bats that is not luck. If they fall safely, that is luck. The bottom line is if you consistently hit the ball hard the hits will fall in for their fair share. Now compare (for the hitter) consistently hitting the ball hard versus getting on via the BB, HBP or an error. The latter 3 are by luck for the hitter whereas the former is making something happen by the hitter. You could say there is some skill to getting a walk but the pitcher has to throw 4 balls. Not swinging at a bad pitch is a skill for the hitter(plate discipline) but has nothing to do with skill of hitting itself. I do agree about the arm guard and not getting out of the way of a pitch. That appears to be a problem. It would seem for some that if they can put the arm guard on the ball, they should be able to put the sweet part of the bat on the ball also.

    • Chris Holbert

      If they sign Barnhart, Bell will play him as the #1, that is a problem..

      • Jim Walker

        After the September/ October Barnhart had, I don’t think there is any way his option gets rolled; and, he probably significantly damaged his negotiation prospects for sticking around as the Reds backup catcher in 2022.
        His OPS from Sept1 thru the end of the season was .390 (yes, .390 total OPS; OBP(.234)+SLG(.155) this worked out to a wRC+ of 9, meaning 91% of all hitters were better than him). He also had his share of issues behind the plate during the same period.

      • Don A

        Yeah, that is a problem. I do want him kept as a backup…

      • ClayMC

        Jim Walker, i normally really appreciate your input, but i feel like this is the 3rd or 4th time in the last month where you’ve mentioned extremely small sample sizes as if they carry significant weight. I love perusing splits too, but baseball is streaky. You know it. I know it. Decision makers in the Reds FO know it.

        Barnhart had 64 PAs in Sept/Oct. There’s no way that’s going to significantly damage anything. It could have some miniscule effect, maybe, but I honestly doubt it. Anyone can do anything during 64 PAs. Do you think Delino Deshield’s 115 RC+ in 58 Sept/Oct PAs is going to lock him in as starting corner OF for the Reds next year?

        Over the entirety of the season, Barnhart was offensively the same exact player he’s been his entire career. They’ll appropriately apply an age curve in any offseason discussions, but it’ll be based on his rock solid, steady, year-after-year low 80’s RC+, not what he did in the last month of the most recent season.

  4. Klugo

    Everything hinges on Castellanos. If he opts out, why bother? If he opts in, maybe they try to help the bullpen. Maybe.

    • greenmtred

      Tucker had a terrible Sept., unquestionably. Prior to that, he was better. Suarez had a very good Sept., and prior to that, he was terrible. Also, surprisingly to me, Stephenson had more at bats on the season than did Barnhart. The narrative that Bell ignored Stephenson clearly needs a bit of revision, and the question of how much to weight a player’s performance over one month also needs to be considered. I’d bet that Stephenson will get many more at bats next season, whether the Reds retain Barnhart or not. He may well play some games at a position other than catcher which, given the wear and tear of that position, may be a good thing in the long run.

      • indyDoug

        Stephenson got some time at !B & OF and I would think Tucker played more innings behind the dish than Stephenson. That can’t happen again. Decline the option and try to sign him at $3-4M.

      • greenmtred

        Tucker probably did get more innings at catcher. Stephenson reminds me a bit of Joe Mauer who was, as I recall, a fairly tall and lanky catcher who was a very talented hitter with a mature approach. He was, again, as I recall, moved from catcher pretty early in his career, possibly in hopes of prolonging it.

      • Jim Walker

        Just to amplify on what you all have already touched on, Stephenson appeared in 140 games (82 starts) and had at least 1 plate appearance in all of them. He made 78 appearances as a catcher, 23 as a1B, 44 as a PH and 1 as a LF.

        Barnhart appeared in 116 games (97 starts), 102 as a catcher, pinch hit 13 times and appeared at 1B just twice.

        Barnhart played in 846 innings; Stephenson 588.1

        Think is safe to say Barnhart caught a (lot) more innings than Stephenson

        Stephenson would have also gotten more plate appearance per start because he often batted 2nd and almost never lower than 5th in the order while Barnhart typically batted 7th or lower with a few exceptions.

  5. RedsGettingBetter

    Is there a high or low probability of an strike could occurr?

    • Jim Walker

      Looks like it will be a lockout versus a strike if there is a work stoppage this time around. I think the probability depends on what a person reads or who they talk to about it.

      As Doug said the current CBA expires o[n Dec 1 (midnight Nov30->Dec1). The presumption is that things will go on as normal until then; but note that the non-tender-date has typically been in the 1st week of December; and, there doesn’t seem to be anything about this year’s non-tender date on any official site that I have been able to find yet.

      My guess is there will be at least a short shutdown when the current CBA expires unless MLBPA and MLB reach some memorandum of understanding to continue off season activities as per past seasons.

  6. LDS

    Good riddance. I hated ghost runners. I guess I’m one of those hard headed fans. Of course, I also hate the DH, wild cards, inter league play, etc. So it goes. “Progress”, I guess.

  7. Bob Purkey

    Coming to a ballpark near you. . . the end of the shift, because it is just too hard for major leaguers to “hit ’em where they ain’t!”

    • Alan Horn

      I agree there also. That is why it is called a position. A general area of play. I think the rule should be only 2 fielders on each side of 2B. A perfect example of why you can’t compare yesteryear’s stats to today’s stats. I do like the DH however. It would handcuff managers who over manage like Bell.

      • Jim t

        Have know use for the DH or Ghost runner. As far as the shift goes I think teams should be able to play their fielders anywhere they want. If a batter can’t adopt the approach of hitting them where they ain’t that’s on them.

      • Alan Horn

        It makes it difficult to hit the other way in a shift if the pitcher is pitching inside to induce them to hit into the shift. Maybe if the players could bunt (which they can’t very often) they could beat it.

    • Bob Purkey

      JimT: Agree 100%. They shifted all day on Ted Williams and all he did was hit .380+.

      Certainly, all players(or any) are not Ted Williams, but the thought that major league players can’t find a single pitch to hit the other way or lay down a simple bunt the opposite way, versus an open field, ON OCCASION, is mind boggling.

      • Old-school

        The problem is reds player development and perhaps why hitting coordinator was let go.

        Nick Senzel was a spray hitter with good pop to right when he came up in 2018. Turner Ward changed everything in 2019 including Senzel stance and pull and launch angle . Winker hit .259 that year. Cody bellinger mvp 2019….. was worse than Suarez in 2021.

        Joey Gallo joined Suarez in 2021 in the .199 30+ HR club. Get rid of this hitting approach.

        Stephenson and winker can hit the opposite way as well as can India and Castellanos did too.

        TEACH the new Reds way in the minors to hit to all fields and advance runners and also draft guys who do that. Have guys learn to bunt if it fits their profile as a speed and obp guy. Friedl, hurtubuise,Siani, Torres, Callahan. Don’t draft guys who have sold out on power and pull as a hitting approach. Don’t sign free agents or trade for that approach either.

        Is Austin Hendrick Joey Gallo V2.0.
        Hr/bb/k.? Can he hit singles and doubles to left center? If not, package him with Sonny Gray for a CF

      • greenmtred

        I recall that Williams actually didn’t beat the shift by going the other way very often: he beat it by smoking the ball. Stubborn man. Great hitter.

      • Doc

        Joe Dimaggio hit in 56 straight games batting against shifts, but not against a steady diet of 95+ fastballs.

      • Bill Newell

        The year Ted Williams hit .388 to lead the American league, he had 70 hits that went left of 2nd base. I remember listening to Red Sox games with my grandfather when I was very young and him telling me Williams was one of the greatest and always would be.

      • greenmtred

        Doc: We don’t really know how fast the fastballs were. Bob Feller was clocked at 98+, but that wasn’t common. Players now have acclimatized to 95mph and above and don’t seem to have that much trouble hitting it. Well-located pitches are hard to hit for anybody.

      • Still a Red

        If I remember the most recent Ted William biography correctly, the shift rattled him at first and he tried to hit the opposite way…eventually he decide to hit over it!

  8. Michael B. Green

    Assuming that Garrett is gone and Miley’s option is picked up, CIN should have anywhere between 3-5 roster spots available for pitchers. More than likely, 2-3 of those pitchers will involve players with remaining options. That will leave 2-3 solid bullpen arms. Hopefully one is a closer while the other is a quality LHRP.

    I could see CIN signing someone like Manny Pina to compliment Stephenson at catcher. I’m guessing that Barnhart’s option is not picked up.

    The infield is predominantly set. The OF is where we could see some action with up to 4 spots available. Three of those guys will likely be guys with options. The other spot is Castellanos or his replacement (Avisail Garcia?).

    Should be an interesting offseason.

    • Alan Horn

      If no Casty, I forgot about Garcia who is also a FA. Garcia and Marte would be two targets(really the only 2) if we go after a FA OF.

  9. Hanawi

    I didn’t really mind the ghost runner. I think starting it in the 12th inning or later or something to that effect might be a good compromise. No one wants to see 16 inning games.

    • Jim Walker

      I agree 2 regular extra innings then bring on the ghosts.

    • magi210

      I’d be OK with this too. Cycle through the lineup once, then add the extra runner.

    • CI3J

      Yeah, I wouldn’t mind this as a compromise. Give the teams a few extra tries to win it the “normal” way, then switch to “Ok, boys, it’s getting close to midnight now, let’s end this.”

    • Luke J

      I like that as an option. Another option I never hear is why not start the lineup at the top of the order for extra innings? That would result in more likelihood of runs in the 10th or 11th, and also put the teams back on equal footing as far as the lineup goes after regulation. Just a thought.

    • Doc

      Or maybe a progressive ghost: none in the 10th, 1B in the 11th, 2B in the twelfth, 3B in all innings thereafter.

    • doofus

      How often is there an extra inning game and what is the average length of those games?

  10. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I’m not concerned with the “big money” players honestly. FA and the off season is a time, anyhow, where the sabermetrics people should be coming out and deciding who teams should be spending their money on.

    As far as I’m concerned, whether through “who we already have”, FA, trades, whatever, I believe we would still be looking for:

    – bullpen help
    – CF – I can live with Naquin and even Akiyama. Can we get better? I believe Aquino is nothing more than a power-hitting “Billy Hamilton” right now, not ready for starting.
    – SS – I could live with Farmer. Can we get better?
    – 3rd – I can’t help thinking letting both Moose and Suarez go. If nothing else, going with Farmer at 3rd and Barrero at SS.
    – LF – I still say extend Nick C. If we can’t, could this be Tyler S’s position? Can he handle the outfield? I believe he’s more athletic than Schwarber. Then, we could keep Tucker for C.

    You might be wondering, “What about Senzel?” As far as I’m concerned, you don’t plan for him. Too much of an injury history. If anything, I bring him back to the infield and have him compete for 3rd base. Past that, I don’t see him any more than a bench player, honestly.

    • TR

      If Senzel is injury-free, I don’t see him as a bench player. If Suarez is not traded, then Senzel will be traded and another team will give him a chance in the infield.

      • Jim Walker

        We all hoped for better from Senzel and continue to. However, his performance to date when on the field at MLB is suggestive of a replacement level guy.

        This coming June will mark 6 years since Senzel was the #2 overall draft pick and 4 years since Jonathan India was the #5 overall pick. In 1 season of MLB play, India earned 3.9 bWAR. In parts of 3 MLB seasons, Senzel is in negative net bWAR territory (-0.6) and has just 1 season with positive bWAR (2019; 0.1). It is push comes to shove time (and then some) for Senzel.

    • Chris Holbert

      If Akiyama, Barnhart, or Aquino are even mentioned as starters, that is not the makings of any sort of playoff team

  11. Jim t

    Not necessarily what I would want but I would not be surprised to see the reds money this way next year.

    India. 2b
    Winker RF
    Stephenson. LF
    Votto. 1B
    Suarez. 3B
    Moose. DH
    Farmer. SS
    Barnhart/ Righthand platoon. C
    Barrera. CF

    Again not what I would like to see but following the reds since 1959 this is how they operate.

      • Jim t

        Chris That would be a win for this ownership

      • Chris Holbert

        Unfortunately you may be correct, and that has become the acceptable result

      • Votto4life

        Greenmtred: sure, that team could win 120 games. But it’s not very likely.

        The team above is basically the same team that finished third place this year without having a MVP candidate in middle of the line up. I stand by my assessment 4th place team.

      • greenmtred

        Of course–120 wins is unlikely for any team. But we can’t know who will get injured, how Barrero will do, which Suarez will show up, etc. And that’s not even considering the pitchers. Greene, Lodolo, etc. may have a positive impact at some point in 2022, and who knows about the bullpen? It’s possible also that the Reds are, in light of the young talent, viewing 2022 as the start of a window and will make some substantive additions. The 2021 season–first fun one in a while–is just warm in its grave, so I want to have a bit of optimism through the winter.

  12. Jim t

    Really think Stephenson’s future position long term will be LF or 1ST when Votto’s contact expires.

  13. Jim t

    Would like them to bring back Naquin and Aquino as 4th and 5th outfielders but can’t see them eating Shogo’s contract.

    • Alan Horn

      Naquin wouldn’t be a 4th outfielder for me. At least until he proves otherwise.

      • Jim t

        Alan I like his game and what he did last year. If he improves on those numbers he can win a spot in the field.I also like him on the team because if anything happens to A 39 year old Votto Stephenson can move to first and Naquin steps in outfield.

      • Jim Walker

        Are you saying Naquin is not on your team or that he is a starter until he plays his way out of the spot? For me, it is the latter unless Castellanos is back. He had a 105 OPS with some pop in his bat. I don’t see that from anyone else currently in house as a corner OF.

      • Alan Horn

        Jim, I wonder how well Stephenson can play LF if given the proper preparation. We know he can play 1B and that may be where he plays mostly with the DH coming. I keep Barnhart if the price is right and maybe bring back Casali making Stephenson the 3rd catcher that starts at either 1B or LF(?) most days. Votto is the DH most days Naquin and a RH(to be determined) are the CF. Winker in LF. If Casty leaves we will have to trade for another top OF(from the SP). If he stays, we are set except for a couple or three BP pieces. Namely a couple of LH’s. It makes it pretty simple if we can keep Casty. We have Farmer and Barreo at SS. Barreo has to show he can hit , so maybe he starts at AAA and when he next comes up he plays everyday.

      • Alan Horn

        @Jim Walker. He is a starter until he proves otherwise.

    • burtgummer01

      Agreed on Naquin AA needs to go away he simply can’t hit

      • Jim t

        @Burt it certainly was a tough year for AA but as a 5th outfielder he has some useful tools. He runs and fields well and has some position flexibility by being able to man all outfield spots. He has power. He does strike out often but after watching the majority of games he more then any player on the team was a victim of horrible umpiring. His strike zone floated all year.I seen more strikes called on him outside the box then any player on the team. For a young player trying to cut down on strike outs that was a killer.

      • burtgummer01

        AA had one good month 2 years ago after that nothing

  14. Bob Purkey

    JimT: Agree 100%. They shifted all day on Ted Williams and all he did was hit .380+.

    Certainly, all players(or any) are not Ted Williams, but the thought that major league players can’t find a single pitch to hit the other way or lay down a simple bunt the opposite way, versus an open field, ON OCCASION, is mind boggling.

    • Jim t

      Bob players nowadays do not play situational baseball anymore. Everyone is swinging for the fences. Unfortunately not many fans left that enjoy the game from our era.

      I remember Pete Rose playing right on top of Micky Rivers in 76 series. Bench throwing out the likes of Brock and others. That was much more exciting then a home run or a swing and miss

      • Alan Horn

        Agree 100%. I don’t think the Reds can or care to throw out a runner who is stealing a base.

      • Bob Purkey

        Jim I was also at games 1 and 2 in 76, as I was a senior in college, They/Rose dared Rivers to do much of anything, and if I do remember correctly, he got on 1st, 1 time in game 1 and tried to steal and Bench gunned him down.

      • Jim t

        Bob I believe your right. Rose was so close he could almost touch Micky. I was in my 4th year of military service and giving some comrades who were yankee fans a hard time.

      • greenmtred

        Sparky was correct when he said that he wouldn’t embarrass anyone by comparing them to Johnny Bench.

      • Alan Horn

        To the ones on here who were able to the the 1975 and 76 Reds. We or the younger guys on here may well never see another Reds team with that kind of talent. The greatest C or all time, arguably the greatest 2B or all time and one of the overall greatest players of time(Rose) all on the same team. Concepcion is right up there with Larkin as the greatest Reds SS of all time. Then you had Perez who is up there with Votto and Klu for the greatest 1B of all time. Foster who hit 52 HRs, Griffey and Geronimo. I personally put them up there with the 1927 Yankees as the greatest team of all time.

      • Jim Walker

        @Alan, I agree about the 1975/76 BRM guys. Davey C. (40 bWAR in an era before SS was seen as an offensive position) is probably a National HOF guy too if not for the 3 other official guys and the banned guy who otherwise would be also on the team. Griffey Sr. was a 34.5 bWAR 118 OPS+ career guy in his own right. Foster ended up with 44+ bWAR and was a career 126 OPS+ guy, not shabby either.

      • Bill J

        Jim, I’m from the early ERA too, always enjoyed a triple or a stolen base better than a home run. Remember the Dodgers with Wills bunt single, steal second, Gilliam sacrifice him to third then 3 or 4 bring him in.

      • greenmtred

        Agree wholeheartedly about the BRM. They really didn’t have a weakness. I knew better, but came to expect that going forward.

    • Alan Horn

      If any of them could consistently bunt, they might could beat it. They can’t and that is on development for all clubs.

  15. Joseph D Shafer

    I think the reds will pick up Barnhardts option. There no other catcher in the organization to move into a backup role and the tandem worked well to me. I think there will be a choice between picking up Wade Miley’s option or trading Sonny Gray. I look for the rotation to be Castillo, Mahle, Greene, Lobodo and whichever of Miley or
    Gray.

  16. JB

    We just watched Bell run out of position players and relievers all year in 10 inning games and now we could get even longer games? Next year is going to be interesting.

    • Jim t

      Many managers managed that way with the ghost runner in play. The way rosters are handled will be different if we do away with it.

      Bullpens due to the 3 batter minimum has changed the way relievers are used as well.

      • Bob Purkey

        Jim: The 3 batter minimum. . .That is why Garrett will not be with the Reds next year. Walks too many batters, especially early in his appearance. The only way you could use him if you needed 1 out with 2 outs in an inning with a LH batter coming up.

        He really needs a change of scenery, but I can’t believe he will get anything but a “make good” offer. He is just too unreliable.

      • Alan Horn

        Agree Bob on Garrett. He is a one batter pitcher against LH hitters. That has gone away(I don’t care for the 3 batter rule either). Does anyone else feel we passed too many rules last off season and it has hurt instead of helped the game. The DH is the only one I like as no one wants to see a rally killed by an automatic out by the pitcher. In fact, we usually had at least 3 or 4 additional automatic outs in the lineup often times. It will be mercy for we fans if it helps handcuff Bell with all his double switches. He over manages early in the game and has nothing to manage with late in the game when our BP was usually blowing leads.

      • Bob Purkey

        Alan: I think that the 3 batter rule was put in place to try to speed up the games. No longer could you. . .

        1. Pitching coach slowly walks to mound, speak at length with pitcher
        2. PC returns to dugout
        3. 1 pitch later, manager comes out and speaks with pitcher and removes him and motions for a reliever.
        4. Reliever slowly walks in to mound from the outfield BP, chats with coach.
        5. Reliever takes 10 warm up pitches
        6. Finally pitches to batter.
        7. Pitcher faces 1 batter.
        8. Process starts all over again.
        9. Pitcher faces 1 batter.
        10. Process starts all over again.

        Yawn. . . .

  17. Jim t

    Alan and Bob I agree Garrett had a bad year but looking at him prior to last year he was effective. As you both point out especially against lefties. Don’t know if I’m willing to give up on him just yet. His fastball has a lot of life in it and he has a very nice slider.

    A thought I had was the check for substance had a impact on him. Would be interesting to see his spin rate before and after. Seems he hung a lot of sliders this year and the only thing that changed was the enforcement of the rules.

    • Alan Horn

      If he developed another pitch such as a change up, it might help him. But his main problem is control. He has to conquer that and that is one of the toughest things for a hard throwing pitcher to fix. Going forward, I would prefer acquiring one or more LH relief pitchers who don’t have that problem. It burned us far too often last season leading to blown leads. If we had won half the games the BP blew last season, we would have probably won the division.

    • Bob Purkey

      Yes, but his April was horrible, PRIOR TO them checking for substances.

  18. Jim Walker

    A lot of people are suggesting various alignments which move Stephenson from catcher and installing Barrero somewhere aside from at SS. Catcher and SS are premium positions. The Reds have potential generational talents at both spots in these two guys. Why is it that folks are so set on moving them somewhere else and filling their natural position with replacement level players which is how Barnhart and Farmer grade out?

    Play the generational talents in the premium positions they excel at and fill in the other spots with replacement level guys if need be. The world is full of replacement level (and better) corner OF (and1B). There are plenty of guys who can play a strong defensive CF and provide replacement level offense, witness DeShields and Freidl.

    If the current level replacement guys on the roster don’t fit the team’s need then move on from them. I hear folks being envious of the Cardinals and wanting to figure out the “Cardinals way”. This is a big part of it.

    • Jim t

      @jim if ownership can make that happen I’m fine with that. Problem is as the roster is constructed now I think my suggestion gives us the best chance to win. Not saying it’s the best option. My years as a Reds fan tell me Suarez, Moose and Farmer wii all be back next year and they will be in the lineup.

      Moving Stephenson from behind home plate in today’s game gets his bat in lineup everyday.

      If we sign Nick C long term I will be delighted and shocked. If that opens a spot for Barrera why not take it. Can’t he be a huge talent in CF? As we are currently constructed I think that allows us to get our best 9 on the field. If ownership makes some trades to correct that fine but I will be surprised if that happens.

      • Jim Walker

        Buster Posey caught in 106 games this year at age 34. He was one of only 2 Giants players to start more than 100 games at his position. Stephenson can do that plus maybe up to a dozen more games behind the plate in his age 25 season and perhaps fill some at 1B (no LF please) and DH in addition. This reduces the Reds need at backup catcher to a replacement level guy which is how Barnhart grades out anyway.

        The extra $5-6M net the Reds could chose to spend for Barnhart and/ or Farmer versus market level cost replacement level guys could be the difference in signing someone who will be a truly positive impact player in the outfield.

        If TS goes down long term the Reds will be in a world of hurt no matter who the second catcher is, including Barnhart. After the play of Mark Kolozsvary in the team USA silver medal Olympic run, there is little to no doubt he is ready defensively as a receiver for MLB duty. The Reds should save their money by retaining a journeyman backup catcher at market rate (looks to be $2M or less based on 2021) and figure they have Kolozsvay on ice to step up into that role if needed.

      • Alan Horn

        With Stephenson, he is large framed and doesn’t have the best release/mechanics behind the plate. With his size that is not likely to improve much going forward. Moving him to 1B primarily(still catches some) will extend his career and give us better defense behind the plate(depending on who we put back there).
        With Barreo, I need to see more of him. I think SS is his position going forward but he has yet to show much of a bat at the ML level(largely because he hasn’t been given a chance). I would put him as SS the first month or two of the season and make a decision after that. We have Farmer as a backup plan. For now they need to abandon the CF plans for Barreo while further exploring the LF plans part time for Stephenson. His size might be a barrier in LF but he runs ok for a catcher.Votto would be my DH most days. They need to painfully forget Moose as I don’t see him helping on the field going forward.

      • Alan Horn

        Posey doesn’t have the tall lanky frame Stephenson does. That large frame doesn’t project longevity. I have trained bird dogs for nearly 55 years. The large ones don’t have as long a career and the smaller ones. The same is true for people. I would do it to both help the team and possibly extend Stephenson’s career.

    • greenmtred

      But Jim: They could both be generational talents at other positions. I’d like to see Barrero given a good long look at shortstop, but wouldn’t be horrified if they played him some in center; his tools work at either position, so it would depend upon the team’s options at the two positions. And, of course, he would have to realize some of his potential as a hitter. Stephenson might be a different case: I believe he is a generational hitting talent, at least potentially, but the premium position he plays is the one that is toughest on a player. He seems like a decent defensive catcher, but that isn’t hard to replace: Stephenson hobbled by knee and back issues in five years or so might leave a huge gap in the Reds’ lineup.

      • Alan Horn

        To add to what you said, McClain is about 2 years away. Do they think he is better suited for SS or CF. That should enter into the game plan. Things are a little murky right now but should clear up going forward.

      • Jim Walker

        But the Reds invested their MLB time in prepping them to be generational players at C and CF. The MLB level with the team on the cusp if not already in a playoff contention window, is not the place to switch them around. I don’t mean to sound snarky, but this isn’t 2016-2018 where the Reds primary objective was just to see who may fit where for the next window. The primary objective is to win as many games as possible.

        I agree TS looks like a natural at 1B and his time there could be as soon as 2024. That certainly works well for the team if Mark Kolozsvary can hit a lick while playing at MLB level behind the plate.

      • Alan Horn

        I guess I am in the minority but I am willing to cut bait on Moose. Don’t let him clog up the DH hole which is where Votto should be most games next season. It helps keep Stephenson away from injury(which he has had in the past) and makes the lineup stronger. We absolutely can’t have all the non productive bats in the lineup next season while hoping they rebound from the grave with their hitting. Especially if they plan to go with Suarez at 3B. One high risk hitter in the lineup should be the limit.

      • Chris Holbert

        McClain has played 31 games a Dayton, I would not say he is two years away. We have seen how the Reds drag their young guys along and keep them in he minors.

      • Doc

        Stephenson could pull a Craig Biggio and catch until Votto retires, then move to the infield.

        I like the question about McClain. Would we be stringer in 2022 with Barrero and (Naquin, Akiyama, Senzel) and SS and CF, or with Farmer at SS and Barrero at SS? If McClain can play both CF and SS well, then I would go with the combo that makes us stronger in 2022, and groom McClain for whichever position Barrero is not playing.

    • BK

      @Jim, I agree with you. While I think it’s a little early to label either player a “generational talent,” both have the demonstrated ability to bring above average offensive and defensive value at premium positions.

      The availability of MLB catchers with above average offensive and defensive ability is a very, very short list. The same is true at shortstop, but the list of dual threat SS is admittedly longer. Keeping Stephenson and Barrero at C and SS respectively presents an opportunity to gain an edge over opposing teams.

      • Jim Walker

        When Votto starts publicly raving about a rookie’s hitting skills and high ceiling, and he did with TS, I’m all in 😉

        I also agree about the SS position and think there are some crossover specialty skills between SS and CF. For me, the difference is in good hands, hand/ eye/ coordination and quick release on throws with accuracy and zip. A top tier SS has to excel at all those, a CF probably not. We’ve to see about Barrero’s accuracy over time but he certainly delivers quickly with zip on it.

        Kyle Farmer turned out to be a decent to very good defensive SS save a possible shortcoming in range. However, it is apparent even on TV that Barrero delivers the ball more quickly and with greater speed.

    • Votto4life

      Jim I totally agree, why people are so eager to move Barrero and Stephenson is beyond me.

    • doofus

      Jim,

      Please stop making so much sense.

  19. Votto4life

    Since we are predicting. Here is my 2022 opening day line up (my prediction,not my preference)

    C – Stephenson (I think they will re-sign Barnhart for 4.5 million but he will be primarily a back up)

    1b Voto
    2b India
    SS – Barrero
    3B – Suarez
    LF – Winker
    CF – Naquin
    Rf – Poor Man’s Castellanos (someone picked up on the waiver wire during the 3rd week of Spring Training)

    DH – Moose (no way a team is taking his contract)

    Starters
    1. Casitlllo
    2. Mahle
    3. Gray
    4. Guiti
    5. Sanmartin

    Bullpen
    1. Lorenzen
    2. Sims
    3. Wilson
    4. Cessa
    5. Santillian
    6. Moreta
    7. C. Perez

    • Jim t

      Votto4life why not move Farmer to LF and Winker to RF.

      Also Hunter Greene will be in rotation some where.

      Bullpen will be without Lorenzen

      • Votto4life

        Yeah, I mean it’s basically moving deck chairs around..I think the Reds will sign either Givens or Lorenzen. I went with Lorenzen just because the team usually sticks with players they know. But yeah, maybe neither of them want to come back.

      • Alan Horn

        That is yet another possible option. It all depends on what Casty does.

    • Jim Walker

      Lorenzen is a free agent; and even if the Reds want him back, I doubt he has much if any interest in them after 7-8 years of their empty double talk about giving him opportunities to start and also being used as a 2 way player. I think the only way he comes back to the Reds is if they are the only team that offers him an MLB contract or their offer is humongously more than any other offer he receives.

      • JB

        Agree and Warren is way better than he is.

  20. Votto4life

    Something I think that gets overlooked is the how the lost of TeJay Antone impacts the Reds moving forward.

    Tejay was a consistent reliever who could have been plugged in as a starter if needed. The Reds desperately need that type of a pitcher.

    I think his loss has really hurt this team moving forward.

    • Alan Horn

      True. But how long before he will be able(if) to help us again. He was our best BP pitcher and had effective loser written all over him. Without all the BP problems , injuries and poor roster management, we easily win the division.

      • Alan Horn

        Closer not loser. Inadvertently dropped the c.

    • Old Big Ed

      Antone at his peak would be a plus, of course, but he will be 28 in December and has pitched 69 innings in MLB, 52.2 innings of which were in relief. He isn’t going to pitch next year, either. He’s pretty much the definition of a flash in the pan, although there is no doubt that he was excellent when healthy.

      Maybe in 2023 and beyond he will become a consistent force, but he may turn out to be a modern version of Wayne Simpson.

      • Votto4life

        Old Ed, I meant only that his loss really hurt the team this past season and moving forward. I’m not sure if he will ever pitch again, let alone pitch well.

  21. Alan Horn

    Barnhart is a durable above average defensive catcher. He will hit .250 or better and that is why I keep him for the right price. Most catchers are subject to injury over the course of a season. He had beat the odds thus far. His biggest short coming is his arm but his release/mechanics help overcome that.

    • Jim Walker

      Even with the WAR bump up from his defense, TB only has 1 season above replacement level bWAR, his career year of 2017 (3.6 bWAR); and, his career bWAR is replacement level. If he will sign for replacement level money, sign him. If not find one of the other replace guys who will be out there on the market and sign them. Use the extra several million saved where it can do more good for the team, corner outfield or bullpen.

      • Chris Holbert

        I fear, and have witnessed, if TB is on the team Bell will classify him as the #1 guy and that is no bueno.

  22. redsfan4040

    The Rockies just extended Antonio Senzatela for 5 yr/50.5 million.
    I went to compare him and Tyler Mahle, and they’re effectively the same guy career numbers wise. Both 26/27. Both 4+ years service time. Mahle career 106 ERA+ and 4.38 FIP, Senzatela 102 ERA+ and 4.42 FIP.
    Mahle was definitely better in 2021, but if that’s the reference point, what would a reasonable extension to Mahle look like? 5 and 60?

    • Alan Horn

      Agree and maybe they should get something done with both Mahle and Castillo.

  23. Old Big Ed

    I predict that Barnhart will end up on the Yankees. They’ve had it with Gary Sanchez as catcher. Sanchez is a DH in real life, and pretending he is a catcher had held back the Yankee pitchers.

    Barnhart fits the Yankees well. They don’t need offense from their catcher, and could use him as a glove-first platoon guy to hit 9th and pick up some cheap homers in Yankee Stadium.

    I am more optimistic than most here that Castellanos will be back with the Reds next season. He hit much better at GABP than on the road, and every other team will figure that into their thinking. In short, I think Castellanos is worth as much to the Reds as he would be to any other team, even considering ownership’s tight purse-strings. I also think that he liked playing here, that he enjoys playing with Joey Votto, that he sees the upside of the Reds’ younger players, and that he will opt to return to Cincinnati if the offers are reasonably close.

    I am also not sure who else would pay him a ton of money. The Mariners or Giants, maybe, but they are a long way from his home in south Florida, plus California’s state income taxes are a factor. Potential bidders like the Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Dodgers, and White Sox are all set in RF and in the outfield in general. The Red Sox or Mets or Astros may be interested.

    • Alan Horn

      I agree and I think the key is to get his contract reworked before he opts out if possible. He is gambling on how the CBA will effect contracts, so maybe the Reds can get something done. You are right in that his stats will be much better playing half his games in Cincinnati. That will effect his legacy on the game down the road. If he indeed loves playing in Cincinnati that may not be true if he goes elsewhere. If it ain’t broke , don’t try to fix it.

      • Bob Purkey

        Getting rid of Barnhart and Lorenzen’s contracts give you another $10MM per year to play with for Castellanos.

        What would you rather have, the 2 mediocre players(at best) or and terrific RH hitter(which you really need to balance that lineup)??

        No real need to replay to this question. . .

      • Jim Walker

        @Purkey, Yes. At least one other person agrees with me that a penny saved on secondary players is a penny that can be put toward a premium player 😉

      • Votto4life

        I am all for the Reds passing on Barnhart, Lorenzen and even Miley in order to sign Castellanos. I just don’t think that is how the Reds operate.

        I suspect if they don’t sign Lorenzen, Barnhart and Miley that money will go in Uncle Bob’s wallet and will not be used to sign Nick Castellanos.

        I would love to be wrong about this.

    • Jim Walker

      I too believe there is a legitimate chance of keeping NC in Cincy; but, as I said here yesterday, I think the best chance is to open dialog with Boras now not after the opt out.

      I think the player sincerely wants to be back in Cincy but doesn’t want to get seriously burned on the finances. I believe he also wants a clear picture of what type of team he would be on moving forward. The Reds opening dialog now and saying our expressed best interests and your best interests trend toward matching. Let’s work together, not as competitors over the last $$$. Can we get this done now? if so, how?

      • Alan Horn

        Agree 100%. Waiting will almost guarantee we lose him.

      • Hanawi

        I don’t know if the Reds would or should consider it, but they could rework the contract to give him another opt out after next year instead of him being locked in for 2023 as well. That might be enough to where they wouldn’t need to sweeten the money as much as a long-term deal.

      • Jim Walker

        @hanawi
        That’s a thought. They’d never know if it would fly unless they ask.

        Right now it is $16M for 2022 & 23 then $20M on mutual option with a $2M buyout for 24.

        Maybe go $20M for 2022 with a player optout option, 22M for 2023 and $25m for 2024, and make it a player only option with $7M severance payout if he declines at either point. That effectively makes his 2021 opt out worth $11m if he leaves after 2022 or $13m if he leaves after 2023. Or if he stays thru 2024 $15m, right? (i.e. check my math and logic).

  24. Challenger

    I’m really encouraged to see all the support for retaining NC and TB, both on restructured contracts (NC – more years at higher annual amount funded through releasing Givens, Garrett and Lorenzen; TB by 3 yrs @ 3-4 M/yr).
    A concern I haven’t seen addressed yet is the need for a #1 starter. I haven’t seen that pitcher in house and it’s too early to count on HG or NL to fill that role. I too mourn the loss of TJA. Leaves a need for a strong, experienced BP pitcher.

  25. Indy Red Man

    Remember that the Reds had faced the fewest lefty starters into June if I’m not mistaken. Other teams dropped the ball with their advance scouting. When a team is this flawed then you move guys around to find lefties for a series w/the Reds. You call a kid up if you have to. Winker? Votto? Naquin? Moose? Mostly helpless. Geno was worse against lhp by trying to pull everything. If teams loaded up lefties like they should have then the Reds win 78-79 at best.

    Next season? Castillo will probably be better and Miley will be worse imo. If they lose Nick and don’t find a halfway decent replacement and also don’t load up w/some lefty killers then this team is probably around 76-86. I expect the pen to be a C+ at best. They won’t spring for a experienced closer.

  26. Alan Horn

    Just a wild thought, but how would signing Miley at a reduced price for several years and moving him to the pen go over. We need an effective lefty or two out of the pen and he might work as a closer. That would make room for Greene or Lodolo and help the pen also. Whether Miley would agree to such is another question. The other choices are pick up his option, pick up the option and trade him or not picking up the option.

    • BK

      Not really a fan of putting a top 30 pitcher in terms of fWAR in the pen (note: Baseball Reference had him at 6.0 fWAR which included a small bump from his hitting and #5 overall as a pitcher). He’s largely sustained his performance, too–excellent results in 2018, 19 and 21. If the Reds believe he’ll come close to his 2021 numbers you resign him and put him in the rotation or trade him.

      • Jim Walker

        It is a personal bias but I always prefer high leverage back end guys to be power guys; or, to at least have a live moving fastball they can spot for strikes and work a breaking ball or change of pace off of. There are just nights when for whatever reason, including weather, a breaking ball cannot be depended on.