If you feel like you may be in a bit of a time warp, let me reassure you that you probably are not. Ben Lively has signed with the Cincinnati Reds on a minor league deal, which you may have heard before, but this is the second time he’s done so. This time around he gets an invitation to big league spring training.

Way back in 2013 the Reds drafted Ben Lively in the 4th round and he signed rather quickly. The right-hander’s stay was short with the organization, though. He was out to a great start on the farm, making 13 starts following the draft and posting a 0.88 ERA between Billings (RIP) and Dayton. The next year he went out and made 26 starts between then Advanced-A Bakersfield (RIP) and Double-A Pensacola and posted a 3.04 ERA. But on the final day of 2014 the Cincinnati Reds traded Lively to the Philadelphia Phillies for Marlon Byrd and a pile of cash.

After spending a few years in the Phillies farm system, Lively made his big league debut in 2017 when he made 15 starts and posted a 4.26 ERA. He’d threw 31.1 innings over the next two seasons with Philadelphia and Kansas City before taking the opportunity to go pitch in Korea for part of the 2019 season and both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

With the Samsung Lions he made 36 starts in those three seasons and posted a 4.14 ERA in 202.1 innings while walking 65 batters and striking out 191. Lively, who will turn 30-years-old in March, could provide some starting pitching depth or perhaps become an option in the bullpen if needed. The righty has limited action as a reliever, but has pitched out of the bullpen 19 times in the minors and another six times in the big leagues – all with the Kansas City Royals between 2018 and 2019.

As a starting pitcher option he faces a long list of options behind the three guys who seem like absolute locks (if they are still around, of course) in Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle. Vladimir Gutierrez, Jeff Hoffman, Tony Santillan, and Reiver Sanmartin all made starts for the Reds last season and are coming back. Prospects Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, and Riley O’Brien were all pitching in Double-A or Triple-A last season and should be expected to at least be in the conversation heading into spring training.

63 Responses

  1. docproc

    Good to see him back! Hate, hate, hated that trade.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I did too. There was simply no reason for that trade to be made.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I’m sure there were. Seems any more, regardless of the merits of an idea, you’re going to have people on both sides. I believe my first comment after the trade was a long “boo”. I hated the trade from the first mention.
        Now, IIRC, there was maybe some segment of fans that wanted Byrd in 2013 when we were competitive and would have benefited from upgrading from Ludwick as our LF. But by the time we got him two years later he was in decline and the Reds were no longer competitive. As usual, too little too late.

    • MK

      In retrospect it was a better trade for the Reds than the Phillies. Byrd hit 19 home runs in 96 games and Lively was a big disappointment for Philadelphia. I was a fan of the KBO when ESPN carried the games and looked forward to watching Lively but he was injured most of the time.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I don’t agree. Lively gave the Phillies a year of above average (4.26 ERA, 101 ERA+) starting pitching on a rookie salary. Byrd cost the Reds the pro-rated portion of $4m and was mediocre (.735 OPS, 98 OPS+ with the Reds) on a team that was never set to compete. That team was hoping to be relevant enough up until the All-Star break. That strategy alone set the rebuild back, and Byrd did nothing to actually make them relevant. On the flip side in 2017 when the Reds were running out retreads and never were’s in their rotation, it would have been mighty nice to run Lively and his above average production out there. The Reds should have seen what they had in young pitchers over those years, instead they traded a young pitcher for an old vet. That’s not a good trade or one they won IMO.

  2. MBS

    Seems like a long shot. Not a former 1st rounder, not a big arm, mediocre numbers in the MLB and Korea. Maybe he could fill that mop up role, but I feel like we have better options for that in house. But what do I know, I though Naquin wasn’t going to be on the 26 man last year.

  3. LDS

    Harbinger of things to come this off season. These are the kind of moves that we fans should expect. So it goes. Nightengale posted that the Reds have a 25% (OddsCheckerUS) chance of winning the division and is projected for 3rd place. I guess we’ll be happy with that though being beaten out by the Cubs is not out of the question. Thank heavens for the Pirates.

    • Rednat

      25% seems high to me. something happened to this club in sept/oct. the spirit was gone or the league figured us out. i felt Bell lost control of the team. i know there were injuries but we just played so flat. honestly the pirates were better than us the last month. unless something major changes it is hard to imagine this team competing at all next year

      • LDS

        I agree. Though I wasn’t convinced that Boddy was the solution to the Reds pitching development (the number of injuries, for example), his departure and Gilman’s, along with the Bell extension didn’t really motivate the team or the fans to expect the Reds to be serious going forward.

      • Redsvol

        probably had more to do with our All-Star left fielder getting injured, our hottest hitter (Naquin) getting hurt in a freak accident and several of our starting pitchers being worn down by a long season after very little work in 2020 – Gray, Miley, Gutierrez. Oh and the total gut-punch that was Tejay Antone blowing out his elbow again on 8/24/21. Also seemed like both Farmer and India were gassed by late August – by far the most either had played in their career.

    • Greenfield Red

      LDS, I’m not happy with that, not at all. None of us should be.

      • MK

        The Boddy hire was a mistake for the position he was hired for. His job was as much administrative as it was teaching. Don’t think his administrative skills were prepared for a staff that worked from Dayton south to Daytona west to Arizona. His skills lent more to one on one instruction which led to everyone trying but not always on the same page.
        He probably should have been hired more in an instructional mode rather than administrative.
        I imagine much of his concept for velocity and pitch development will still be used it will just now be implemented like a professional organization works.

    • greenmtred

      It may well be a harbinger, but since it’s the only kind of deal they (or anyone else) can make now, I’m not reading anything into it.

      • greenmtred

        It does, but by most accounts, there were few decent relief pitchers available last year, and many teams seeking them. That was the Reds’ most apparent need, and they finally did improve the pen somewhat. They have certainly signaled that they’re not planning to spend much, but they also have significant young talent both at the MLB level and in the high minors. Are they simply giving up on seriously competing or are they committing to a youth movement?

  4. JayTheRed

    I like the pickup. I don’t think he will crack the MLB Rotation, but he could be useful in the bullpen as a middle reliever. Also provides some decent insurance if there would be injuries.

  5. LDS

    For those who haven’t, I dropped over to Doug’s minor league site and signed up on Patreon. May be the only source of Reds news in the coming weeks. The owners and players certainly aren’t doing anything to move the negotiations forward. Give it a look. Offseason and lockout undoubtedly cut into his revenue stream. And since a good number of us spend a lot of time here airing our opinions and grievances, we should do what we can to keep him afloat. Starting to feel like a long lockout.

  6. Private Gripweed

    I read “Marlon Byrd” and died a little inside.

  7. Redsvol

    I remember being said when Ben Lively got traded to the Phillies. I also hated it when we included Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke in the Scott Rolen trade. In both cases I was quite wrong to have been disappointed. Here’s hoping Ben Lively can help us somehow in 2022.

  8. Votto4life

    Ben Lively isn’t the solution, but he also isn’t the problem. I have no complaints at giving him a shot. Will he pan out? Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to have another arm in camp.

  9. Daytonian

    It’s good to have him back. He’ll help out with whatever he’s asked to do.

  10. TR

    If there is a season, it will be good if the Reds can start out with a reasonably good bullpen in contrast to last year. Lively should help out.

  11. Gonzo Reds

    All these exciting signings reminded me to ask if Doug or someone can perhaps compile a list of potential buyers for the Reds. Anyone with $ that has some connection with the Reds and thus would be motivated to take the steps needed to have a winning ballclub. Where to send this list? Perhaps start with the Cincinnati paper to see if a writer will bite on doing an article suggesting a sale to a real owner.

    One idea I have is an ownership group fronted by Barry Larkin (much like Jeter is doing with another team). He certainly must know a few baseball loving folks that he could reel in to make the deal.

    • Jim Walker

      I’d guess the issue is less finding the frontman and more about finding the money people. In May of 2021, Forbes pegged the value of the Reds at just north of $1B, 27th among MLB teams, https://www.forbes.com/mlb-valuations/list/#tab:overall

      MLBTR recently compiled a list of the estimated net worth of the primary owner/ managing partner. Castellini came in dead last at $400m. If his share of the Reds (believed to be 12-15%) is reflected in this figure, it represents well north of 25% of his total net wealth. And what we are seeing is that he most likely doesn’t have the chops to swim in the deep end of the MLB pool even if the corporate bylaws allow him to throw increased capital into the team. So, where does the money to make a difference to buy the team for $1B then run it on more than the current shoestring come from?

      I’ll post the owners’ worth listing below because every time I try to put more and one link in a comment, something goes awry

      • David

        I think this identifies the fundamental underlying problem with the Reds, and also the overall trend in all Major League sports.
        Money is king. Everything else is secondary. The Reds’ market is small, and we do not have a big pool of extremely wealthy people (net worth over 1 billion dollars) in Cincinnati, let alone Ohio.
        In many of the major markets (LA, SF, Dallas-Ft Worth, Chicago, New York, Boston) in the United States, there are a group of “billionaires”, and some see pro-sports franchises as an interesting investment.
        Castellini has said a lot of things as the managing partner of the ownership group that have turned out not to be true. That has made a lot of fans mad at him. But, they have kept the team in Cincinnati.
        The dictates of “money” may result in the city losing Major League sports franchises (e.g., the Reds), simply because we do not have a group of investors with the increasingly required deep pockets, and this market (Cincinnati) does not promise the return on investment that these kinds of people (investors) expect.
        Attendance, gate revenues, endorsements, franchise of merchandise and TV, cable or streaming revenues. It just isn’t here.

        It makes me really sad to see what may now be inevitable.

      • LDS

        The Reds drew about 1.5 million last year. That’s the lowest attendance on a full season since 1984. The problem is the product – there isn’t one. The small market team is a canard. The Reds have routinely drawn fans from the tristate area and should be averaging well above 2 million fans per year, more like 2.5 million. With today’s media markets and the internet, expanding the market beyond that is wholly achievable. The ownership and FO simply do not have what it takes to build and market a team. That Castellini is the poorest principal owner in MLB is largely irrelevant.

      • Rednat

        read that article as well. just demonstrates the point that attendance is so important for our team. Every dollar certainly helps. our friday and saturday attendances are competitive. but the sunday through thursday attendances stink.

        i still say the major problem is location. i am not sure where the capital of redleg nation is (kentucky?, eastern ohio?). but it is certainly not Cincinnati. hence our weekday attendances will continue to stink and the reds will continue to stink

      • BK

        @LDS, I agree that the Reds would be in a lot better financial position by fielding a consistently winning team, but I’m not sure improving the “product” resolves the structural disadvantage they have in MLB. In 2019 (relative because it was pre-COVID pandemic), the Reds had 1.8M in attendance. Although it’s been more than 20 years since they eclipsed the 2.5M attendance mark, let use that as their ceiling (bear in mind this is highly optimistic as baseball attendance is down across MLB). We’ll assume 700K increase is feasible.

        In September 2021, the Athletic reported it cost an average family of four $218.20 to attend a game which would mean $54.55 per fan. The researchers assumed each family purchased “four adult non-premium tickets, single-car parking, two draft beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs and two adult-sized adjustable hats.” I believe their estimate is a little high given that these are 700K people not currently attending and therefore may be more price sensitive.

        For arguments sake we’ll assume the Reds collect $54.55 for another 700K fans each year generating $38.185M in additional revenue–not profit as it will cost more to host more fans (think more concessions, ticket sellers/scanners, security, etc.). The Reds planned for a payroll of $144.5M in 2020 which likely assumed an increase in attendance based on their free agent signings. So, 700K additional fans likely gets the Reds into the $170-189M range or $30-40M under the CBT threshold for 2021 and about $60-70M below the CBT threshold proposed by MLBPA. In short, better yes, but still at a huge disadvantage to the top 8 or so clubs. Bear in mind every assumption I used was optimistic–best case!

      • Jim Walker

        @LDS, I have believed for decades that “small market team” is either a copout or failure of imagination.

        Yes, ultimately, the Reds market is obviously not as large as many of the teams’. However many of the folks in the stands in the very large metro areas spend as much or more time getting to and from games as folks within a 60 to 90 minute drive from GABP; yet the currently Reds don’t seem serious about working the 60 to 90 minutes drive market which used to be a bulwark of their fandom.

        I live about a 60 minute drive from both GABP and the Nationwide arena in Columbus, a mile from a freeway that connects me to either venue until I get off an exit at the venue. The BlueJackets (NHL) have mined my email/ contact info (via the fact I watch them on Bally Sports??) and regularly send me ticket solicitations. They have even called me several times.

        Despite my having an MLB.com account and subscribing to the MLB play-by-play audio service (meaning MLB has my email and knows who I listen to) and watching the Reds on Bally, the Reds have yet to ever send me any sort of solicitation.

        Take a second to consider the following, the hockey team is pitching me despite the fact virtually all their games are at night in the wintertime meaning I’d have an hour drive each way in the dark in often unseen weather. Meanwhile, the baseball team apparently thinks I am not a potential paying customer to make the same length drive in summer and when a large portion of the games are matinees??

        End of Rant 😉

    • BK

      @Gonzo. That Marlins sale left them with a 40% debt ratio compared to the Red’s debt ratio of 12%. Every year they are forgoing at least one solid free agent in interest expense. The deal was widely panned as bad for the franchise’s long-term competitive ability due to the debt. Jeter earned $187M more than Larkin as a player–probably still a pretty big difference in their net worth. Forbes estimates the Marlin’s value is now $200M less than the purchase price. I realize you aren’t directly advocating for a Marlin’s like ownership change, but their sale illustrates how difficult it is to find a buyer with the cash to buy an MLB franchise and how their debt will likely prevent them from competing with the top 8 or so franchises in terms of payroll for quite a while.

      Steve Cohen, the Mets owner (most recent MLB franchise sale) is by far the wealthiest MLB franchise owner. There is likely a long list of wealthy individuals that would like to buy a franchise, but I don’t think the list is very long of ones willing to throw tens of millions of dollars into the franchise, year after year to spend like the Yankees or Dodgers. The problem is the sizable disparity in resources available for payroll between MLB teams. Until that is addressed, the Reds will remain disadvantaged in terms of spending regardless of who owns them.

      • Jim Walker

        Truth be told there are probably issues as deep and complex among the various segments of MLB owners as between MLB and MLBPA. This lockout is happening in some significant part because the owners cannot (or have not) settled these issues among themselves.

      • BK

        I agree with you to a certain extent. If you own the Dodgers, Red Sox or Yankees, are you really all that motivated to send revenue you perceive to be yours to the Royals, Brewers or Reds knowing that you will make them more formidable competitors in the process? Probably not. The Owners haven’t publicly stated what they want to achieve in the next CBA leaving us to assume the goal is as little change as possible. That said, I thought their offer for a salary floor would have been very beneficial and I’m disappointed MLBPA didn’t try to incorporate it in an agreement.

        Likewise, MLBPA’s proposals raising the CBT threshold, reducing revenue sharing, earlier arbitration, earlier FA, and changes to the draft in total would make a rather large shift in their favor. While they seem pretty determined, their priorities remain muddied at this point. I expect this agreement to tilt in favor of the players, but I don’t see the Owners agreeing on all fronts.

        The next step is for both sides to focus their priorities, or this negotiation will go no where and we’ll start seeing ST delays.

    • VegasRed

      Cute play on words. The results of this CBA may prompt a change in ownership for the reds. I think the economics of mlb are changing. Even the Cardinals FO/owners are acting very cautiously imo.

      Bobby c and his partners either cannot or will not compete at this time—probably some of both. What irks me is seeing the Red Sox go out and get Bloom from the Rays when Boston owners have money to burn and die hard attendence, while Bob won’t hire a proven baseball executive to run the Reds, especially since he cries poor and small market.

      I’m left to conclude that bobby wants to continue and meddle, thus requiring yes men like krill and bell, as opposed to building a winner with a disciplined and proven strategy.

      Sure money is always a big issue and the reds owners apparently are on the poorer end of that spectrum, but that doesn’t excuse bob from failing to develop a winning organization and business philosophy.

      I don’t think bob’s most ardent supporters (enablers ?) can argue that bob has succeeded in articulating and then creating an overall disciplined business strategy that tells the fans and players what the plan is.

      This failure of leadership explains the lack of attendence and the inconsistent spending and slashing of payroll.

      At this point I truly do not believe bob cares about winning vs lining his own pockets. Does anyone on here really believe in bob anymore?

      • DaveCT

        There are many who’d agree Nick Krall is krill (tiny shrimp-like crustaceans). So take your pick. Nick Kralling to the finish line. Or Nick Krill, breakfast of (whale) champions. Either way, my critique is unchanged. He lacks leadership skills required of his position, particularly in the important aspect of communicating to the fan base. I’m sure he is a competent guy. But … perhaps they should hire one person such as for Krall’s more advanced PR, rather than force feeding it to us via Larkin, Brantley, etc., who should be reporting the game not promoting management.

  12. DaveCT

    I am recalling fondly a long series a spirited debates about Lively on Reds Minor Leagues focusing on whether Lively was better than several of the Reds top arms. That thump you may hear today was Doug’s head hitting his desk repeatedly.

    That said, I like the signing and think we may see him eat some innings this year. In DJ we trust.

    • VegasRed

      But Dave, that’s my point. Bob C has never had a consistent and credible message ( simply defined as actions matching words), or perhaps better stated: clearly discernible message to the public about what the goals are and how the latest news fits with the overall message.

      I can’t really blame Krall because he is just the latest yes man, and clearly he has no imperative now but to slash payroll. In other words, yes Krall is a poor pr man but Bob is responsible for the message. Krall and Bell both sound, frankly, kind of stupid to me when they ramble on (especially Bell) but what can they really say when Bob is the common denominator for this 15 year problem?

      By the way autocorrect butchers these names even worse than I do.

      But to my point, I bet if you asked fans at the park what is the reds’ plan for 2022 and the future you couldn’t find even 50% with a similar answer. That, quite simply is a leadership fail when not even half of the consumers know what the brand stands for. And I mentioned questioning fans at the park, meaning customers who actually bought tickets. Sadly, that is leadership failure by Bob.

      • DaveCT

        No quarrel with that point. Bob C. does not provide a fan-based message whatsoever (other than by omission) He does provide an investor based message. Something like ‘Just win, maybe.’ Bob has lost the fans, IMO. Krall is certainly a yes man. And his lack of a message to fans is definitely constrained by the clubs pathetic bobblehead plan of a vision and it’s marketing. My critique is based on his lowest common denominator performance. You’d think he could at least act in his own interest, like trying to keep his job. I would.

      • David

        Vegas Red, I think you make the other key point, in addition to Jim (above). Castellini and the ownership group do not want to hire a sharp GM that would articulate a clear, effective strategy for a small market team.
        The Reds ARE a small market team, but they could be much better, with smarter and more consistent management; the obvious example is the Tampa Bay Rays.
        The fact that they DON’T have better team management, after all these years of Bob C. ownership speaks volumes. Dick Williams (the younger) offered a start in that direction, and the 2020 season, with all the associated problems, crashed his career as GM. What if…..what if there had been a full 2020 season, the new acquisitions (on the whole) had played well, 2 million (plus) in attendance, a year of financial and team success. Would Dick Williams still be running the team?
        Bad luck, or did Bob C. and his partners shoot down Dick Williams because they thought he had just wasted a lot of their money? Or thought he was incompetent? What did Walt Jocketty tell them?

        We circle back again and again to the two conundrums that face the Reds (and the fans). Small market and limited financial resources, and an ownership group with no imagination or allowing a GM with imagination to run the team in a way that maximizes the return on performance with their limited resources.
        It can be done, but they won’t ALLOW it to be done in Cincinnati.

      • Optimist

        David – Keep in mind that Bob C AND the partners did not “shoot down” Dick W. Dick W is, if not in fact, then essentially, one of the partners. Bob C., as managing partner, may have wanted Dick W out, or perhaps he had nothing to do with it. I’ve commented before that it’s only a matter of time before Dick W becomes the managing partner, unless the family remains satisfied with the managing partner, or cannot or will not otherwise regain the controlling interest to name a managing partner.

        Unless Dick is completely and personally soured on the game, or determines it’s a lousy investment, he’ll be back in a more prominent ownership role.

      • TR

        The Williams Family are long-standing insurance barrons in Cincinnati. Their ancestor founded the Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. in 1888. They’ve had an interest in the Reds for a least the last 40 years. The Reds are a small market team and will continue to be, but they’re loaded with tradition and history with a definite dedicated fanbase. I agree with the above comments that it’s just a matter of time before Dick Williams takes over as managing partner.

  13. Redsvol

    Instead of acting like we can’t do anything about the Reds conundrum of small market baseball, let’s all commit to supporting them. I live 5 hours away and the wife and I went to 2 games last year on separate occasions and had a great time. GABP is a great venue for baseball. Stayed in Kentucky, walked from the hotel, had a couple beers. It cost me nowhere near $200 – not including hotel. We can’t complain about reds not spending $ and then only have 1.5 million attendance. That is pitiful. This team is funnest Reds team since 1990. Get out and support them this year! Brewers outdraw Reds by huge numbers and that shouldn’t happen.

    • Jon

      Brewers have a retractable roof. Makes a massive difference during the freezing cold of April, the heat and humidity of summer, and rain storms. Oh, not to mention the Brewers actually have a competent front office that knows how to consistently produce a winning product on the field.

      • Melvin

        I agree. I think a retractable roof should be a requirement for any new stadium in baseball (MLB) going forward with the possible exception of a few CA teams.

      • Old Big Ed

        As a taxpayer, I am a big NO on governments paying an extra $200 million on roofs so that mega-wealthy owners avoid a couple of rain-outs every year. (I am pretty much against publicly-financed stadiums, period.)

        There are a handful of teams who own their ballparks: Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and I think the Cardinals. The Cleveland Baseball Team plays in a park that was purportedly privately financed. None except Toronto have roofs, and Toronto’s owner bought that dome years after it was built and are looking to build another venue. In short, when owners spend their own money, they don’t build roofs. (The Blue Jays might, I suppose.)

      • Redsvol

        so the best you guys can come up with is its the Reds stadium’s lack of a roof as the reason for the poor attendance in 2021. Go check the attendance figures for June, July and August – they were pitiful on just about every day except Saturdays. And this for a team in the thick of playoff race during the best weather of the season.

        More excuses from Reds fans on why they can’t spend money on their team but then complain that their team doesn’t spend $ like the top 10 attendance teams do.

  14. burtgummer01

    Wouldn’t be surprising if he was in the rotation.
    The Reds tried to trade Castillo and Gray before the lockout so I’m sure they’ll be trying again once it’s over

  15. Old Big Ed

    Off topic, but I have talked myself into believing that Nick Senzel would be a good fit at first base. It moves him back to the dirt, where perhaps he is more comfortable, and even if he played left-handed, he would be a defensive upgrade from Votto. Third base and second base are already spoken for, and he isn’t going to play shortstop.

    Votto would be primary DH, and still play a little at first.

    The Reds have enough LH bats already, with Votto and Winker, plus Naquin and Moustakas and subs like Schrock. They could focus their efforts on finding a RH centerfield option. There is no question but that this leaves Moustakas in a marginal role, which is something that management is going to have to swallow in any event.

    I soppose that a variation of this (probably even better) is to move Senzel to third and Suarez to first.

    • DataDumpster

      Reasonable suggestions. Bell has to face the fact that Senzel is too aggressive or careless to play CF with his injury history. Almost anyone should be able to play 1B and Joey, at his age, more than deserves the DH position which will probably open up. If Senzel can play 3B (isn’t that where he started?) all the better, then Bell can face the fact that Moose is a total liability and Senzel could sub in for Suarez if that becomes necessary. If they can get rid of Moose and one of the pitchers to shed some payroll and get a good CF, I think that is their top need. Remember that we are building a team for 2 years from now and just trying to stay over .500 until then.

    • DataDumpster

      I would just add the caveat that not every player or position is so fungible but Senzel probably has such flexibility but it has not been used. However Bell got the idea that a rookie (Barerro) needs to prepare in CF is almost as stupid is figuring that the slow footed and barely adequate Suarez would be able to play short.

      • greenmtred

        Many of us here at RLN, as I recall, thought that Suarez should be given a try at short. I have no idea why it’s stupid to try Barrero in center.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Joey Votto had a .993 fielding percentage and was worth 4 DRS in 2021. He’s been a pretty steady defensive 1B overall, even if a little up and down season to season. Out of his 15 seasons he’s posted negative DRS only 3 times, with a total of 61 DRS over his career. It’s insulting to suggest that a guy who’s never played 1B could do it opposite-handed better than a guy who had positive numbers last season at the position.

      • Old Big Ed

        Chalk me up as one who thinks defensive stats – even the most sophisticated ones – do not measure defensive ability very well. Defense was one of the Reds’ major problems last year; lousy defense extends innings and puts unnecessary stress on the pitching staff. Barnhart and India were their only two regulars who were even average defenders at their positions last year. (India will likely evolve into a very good defensive player.)

        Votto is a lousy defensive first baseman. He is 38, for one thing. Old players can’t field as well as young players. Votto had always been fairly good at catching throws, and he is still at least average at that. But he has an erratic arm (as an example, Cozart hurt his elbow pretty severely trying to field an errant Votto throw), and runners take advantage of that. His range is now very limited, except that he has an incorrigible propensity to field grounders to his right that he ought to let the second baseman field. (Brandon Phillips would get exasperated at him for doing that.) Votto as a result will field grounders while moving away from the bag, which leaves him out of position to hit a moving target (the pitcher) on a play at first.

        With a full spring training, Senzel by late April would be a better defensive first baseman than Votto, and by mid-season he would be much better than Votto.

        I am not sure that Suarez would be a defensive upgrade at first from Votto, but Senzel would likely be an upgrade from Suarez at third. Suarez is no Scott Rolen at third, but he is not a disaster there, like an injured Moustakas was last year.

        Defense should be a priority this spring. Moving Senzel to the dirt, playing Barrero at short, and finding a good defensive center fielder will improve the Reds at almost zero cost.

      • Optimist

        I suspect Old Big Ed also recalls the glory days and how far we’ve come. 1974-77 all GGs at C/SS/2b/CF. Concepcion and Geronimo specifically included to build the club to home field advantage – all-turf infield, large CF.

        Perhaps the current team is built not to care given smaller dimensions, emphasis on HR offense to overcome defense lapses, power pitching vs pitch to contact, and a pendulum swing from the Billy H. experiment.

        Still, it’s a pretty bad defensive team, and subtracting Tucker is a notable downgrade from that.

      • Old Big Ed

        Yes, Optimist, but I also realized from watching the Reds play the Brewers and Cardinals last year that the defense (and baserunning) was truly bad.

        Over and over again, the Reds would give their opponents extra outs and/or extra bases, but then on offense would play station to station ball or run into outs. Getting guys on and around before 3 outs are recorded is a lot tougher than doing the same before 4 outs are recorded.

  16. Rednat

    great post by Redsvol. ownership has made it clear that they will base their budget on attendance numbers. now we can argue about this until we are blue in the face but that is a fact. so we fans have to show up if we want ownership to spend the money.

    i really think a retractable roof would help. you can usually count on one hand the number of “perfect days for baseball” there are in a reds season anymore. it is usually brutally cold, hot or rainy the other 75 games so it is almost becoming a must.

    also these 6:40 games have got to go. push the starting times as far back as possible to let people from surrounding areas get to the games on time. Also, drop the 4 pm saturday afternoon games please. 7 or 730 will be fine.

    finally the reds ownership must get people in the colerain avenue- montgomery road corridor interested in the reds again. that is 300k people that live within 15 minutes of the stadium that could care less about the reds . i recommend caravans in local neighborhoods during the offseason. the reds should also team up with metro bus service to provide free transportation to and from games. also discounted ticket prices for people that live within city limits

    • TR

      You make some good points in the last paragraph about reviving interest in the Reds in the core city. In 1950, Cincinnati’s population was half a million. In the last 70 years the city has lost 40% of it’s population mostly to the metro area, and the question is how many games a year can metro area people attend especially those with families. Free transportation on city buses and the light rail along with discounted or free bleacher tickets for some games would help. Cincinnati is a more diverse city than it was fifty years ago. Work is needed to get new residents interested in baseball.
      It’s time Cincinnati doesn’t take the Reds for granted.