There are a few different things that are going to be happening in 2023. The biggest one appears to be the new shift rules that will be in place, but larger bases are coming, pickoff attempt limits are coming, a pitch clock is coming, and something less noticeable too – a “balanced” schedule.

While it’s being called a balanced schedule, it’s not as if every team plays the same exact schedule. But every team will not play fewer games against their divisional opponents and they will also play at least one series against every team in baseball.

Mike Petriello of MLB.com made an attempt to dig into the data to see if the new balanced schedule favored any specific teams. His takeaway was that for much of the league the difference won’t be much. Not getting to play some weak or strong teams in your own division is negated by essentially having to face a similar number of good or bad teams outside of your division now.

While Petriello didn’t really say it in his article, for the worst teams in baseball does it even matter at all? If just about everyone is expected to be better than you – which is the case for the Cincinnati Reds – playing someone else doesn’t change the math. The same thing can be said for teams like the Pirates or the Tigers or Nationals.

The Reds will play 24 fewer games against the Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, and Cardinals than they would without the balanced schedule format coming into play in 2023. They also play San Diego, Atlanta, Miami, the Los Angeles Angels, and the New York Mets one fewer time than they would have. There are some good teams in there, some solid ones, and then the Pirates and Marlins. When it comes to games they won’t have to play that they otherwise would, it seems that it’s probably a wash.

But what about the games that they now will be playing that they wouldn’t have? The Reds will play Arizona and Washington one more time than they would have. They will also play Baltimore, Boston, New York (Yankees), Tampa Bay, Toronto, Chicago (White Sox), Detroit, Kansas City, and Minnesota three more times each than they otherwise would have. The additional games against the AL East works against the Reds big time, but in the AL Central there isn’t exactly a really good team you’ve got additional games against. The White Sox and Twins could be .500-ish teams, but the Tigers and Royals are among the worst teams in baseball (at least on paper as we head into spring training).

We don’t know how the teams will all turn out because sometimes “on paper” doesn’t translate, both in good or bad ways. Ever so often you get a 1999 Reds or a 2021 Giants team that just massively outperforms their projections. But when looking at how the new schedule lines up versus what would have been, it doesn’t seem like there’s a big change at all for the Reds. They may lose a game or two more than they otherwise would have, but the difference isn’t drastic. Or at least that’s how it appears.

58 Responses

  1. mike enyart

    New schedule will be interesting-I would prefer more games against divisional opponents. But do not forget the baseball cliche heard in every big league interview: one game at a time”. Ha Ha.

  2. Colorado Red

    It will not help the Reds. The NL Central is one of the worst divisions in MLB.
    I still think they lose 103 games this year.

  3. MK

    Since in the long run it is about . the final standings it should have no effect at all. Everyone is doing the same thing.

    • Bdh

      They’ll play the AL East teams but as you said also lose games against the Padres, Mets, Braves + the Cardinals/Brewers in division. Lose games vs the Marlins and Pirates but gain some vs Washington and the AL Central. Probably works out to a net even overall

      • Bdh

        Whoops! This wasn’t in reply to you MK. Just a response in general

  4. SultanofSwaff

    It’s usually not who you play but when you play them as all teams have ups and downs. I for one like the balanced schedule as you see more of the talent in the game and get a better understanding of how the Reds fit into the landscape.

    I wonder if a side effect will be that the bigger market coastal divisions won’t feel they’re in an arms race against each other and the smaller mid-market central divisions will feel they have to do more to keep up.

    • TR

      We’ll see but before it starts, I like the idea of a balanced MLB schedule. More chance to get to know about a larger group of players and management.

  5. LDS

    Baseball’s division alignment is growing ever more meaningless. Just do away with them and take the 12-16 best records and forget about it. Interleague play, universal DH, pitch clocks, bigger bases, limit pickoffs, and on & on. Where’s this end? Baseball isn’t basketball or hockey. It’s supposed to be more cerebral and calculating. Someone needs to just build a really good MLB simulator. Life is becoming a video game anyway.

    • MBS

      The only way you’re going to see the Reds win the World Series is in a video game, or a new owner comes in.

  6. RedsGettingBetter

    So, Do you mean Reds will be around a 60-102 record this year?

  7. Steven Ross

    Nothing will help them except a new Owner…err…Guvnor!

  8. Rednat

    just don’t like the way baseball is trending at all

    1. Scott Rolen being the only elected player to the hall is telling. It seems to put up hof type offensive numbers these days you have to cheat.

    2. 2022 saw 4, almost 5 100 win teams and 4 100 loss teams. not sure that has ever happened before.

    3. batting averages way down, triples and stolen bases way down

    4. basically the pitching is way too dominant in my opinion and it is really hurting the game. baseball is fun when the ball is in play. When the ball is bouncing around the outfield or when there is a close play at 3rd base on a guy trying to get a triple. that is why there are nine fielders out there. you could almost play today’s version of baseball with a pitcher ,catcher and hitter which is a real drag.

    5. i think the shift ban will help minimally , but not enough to make a huge impact. Baseball really needs to get back to its roots to be fun again or these win-loss disparities will really get out of hand.

    6. my ideas would be to move the mound back, ban certain pitches maybe
    7. more drastic ideas would be to eliminate the strike out and home run (except inside the park) altogether. I don’t know, but something has to change.

    8. sorry for the rant, but the Hof ballot list and this article really got me thinking

    • Mark Moore

      A sad +1,000 as I echo the majority of what you noted.

    • Tar Heel Red

      I too am not encouraged by the direction MLB is headed. I agree with Rednat on most of the things he brought up, but my biggest concern is the payroll disparities and the league’s blind allegiance to large market teams. When the latest CBA was announced it was the death nell for almost all small market teams and some of the mid market ones…”thou shalt not be competitive.”

      The ever increasing CBT accomodates the teams that can afford these type contracts/players and stifles those teams that can’t. People say “it’s their money and they can spend it however they see fit…it has no effect on the rest of the teams.” But the truth is that it does effect EVERY other team when, for example, the Mets invest $83M+ on two pitchers (Scherzer and Verlander). Realize that amount represents more than the entire payrolls of nearly a third of the teams in MLB.

    • CI3J

      I’ve lost a lot of interest in MLB over the last decade, not just because the Reds have a terrible owner that doesn’t want to compete, but because the game itself has become so sterile and mundane, and because the whole system is financially broken.

      On the first point, it used to be that the NL and AL were two distinct leagues that had different playing styles, even before the AL introduced the DH. However, the DH just further drew a sharp contrast, which made the World Series a truly fascinating matchup where we could see how the teams could adapt to the other league’s play style.

      The introduction of interleague play kind of diminished the mystique of the World Series a little, but I also thought it was pretty fun. You still had a lot of unique characters in the game and very different playstyles and philosophies. But now with the universal DH, the whole league has basically just become the AL. I get that a standardization of the rules was inevitable, but that hugely different rule between the two leagues was one of those quirks that made baseball special and interesting. Now, everyone just plays the exact same way. There’s no real strategy to it any more.

      And of course, even if the rules of the game becoming standardized has supposedly “leveled the playing field” in how the game is played, the financial disparities of the league mean the playing field is actually anything but level. It’s only been getting worse for the last 30 years, but it has now reached the point where only a handful of teams can afford to pay the best players, and everyone else has to hope the hit the jackpot and their prospects all mature and becoe really good players for a few seasons before they inevitably get priced out and bought by one of the Big Boys. The majority of teams in MLB have just become feeder teams for the few. How is that supposed to build fan loyalty when you know that, unless you are in Boston, Chicago, LA, etc, you only get to enjoy your best players for a few seasons before they go off to play the rest of their career at one of the “Big Boys”?

      It’s all left me very jaded about MLB in general. It’s just not that interesting any more. I used to really enjoy MLB because of its quirkiness and the idea that any team could have that one magical season where it all comes together. Now, it’s just a boring, plodding game played by boring, plodding players where the outcome of the season is pretty much pre-determined every year.

      I still follow MLB and the Reds, but they are simply nowhere near as big a part of my life as they used to be. Before, I would give something like 25% of my free time and energy to MLB and the Reds. Now, it’s probably about 5%, if that.

      • Old Big Ed

        I will agree that revenue sharing needs some revision. But the problem isn’t that “only a handful of teams can afford to pay the best players.” The problem is a bit more precise than that. The top teams are the only ones who can afford to pay the best free agent position players, or those who are a year from free agency.

        I think the best player this year will be Julio Rodriguez, whose potential 12-year contract maxes out @ below $20mm/year. The Reds could do that with the right player, which Elly De La Cruz may develop into. And they would, because it is the prudent business move. The Braves are masters at it, and several other teams have done it, with Tatis, etc.

        It is much riskier to do a Rodriguez-type deal with pitchers, due to the risk of injury. Not that Steve Strasburg was young at the time, but the Nats gave him 7 years and $245 million, and it is a disaster. They would have been better off paying Alec Baldwin’s wife $30 million/year. The high revenue teams can afford the risk of big contracts to pitchers, but the low revenue teams can’t. We will see what happens with Hunter Greene, but if he is very, very good, which is certainly possible, the Reds may end up trading him after his 5th year (2026).

        What the Reds have to do is to use what advantage the low revenue teams have, which is that the game is becoming faster and faster, and it is therefore a young man’s game. The big revenue teams have the same budgets for draftees and international players — i.e., young players — as do the Reds, and the top teams often have a lower budget for those players. Plus, teams like the Yankees generally have the 25th pick in the draft, so they start at a disadvantage.

        The whole future of the Reds hinges on their being elite at scouting and development. Some are understandably skeptical about the “development” side of that for the Reds, but I think it is vastly improved over the past 4-5 years. And some of their development problems were actually scouting problems, with some of the iffy first round picks like Phil Ervin, and with have a poor Latin American presence.

        It isn’t impossible for the Reds to compete regularly, but they have to be smart and nimble. That Phumblin’ Phil is a lugnut does not mean that the rank and file coach/scout in the Reds minor league operation is bad; it means that Phil is a lugnut.

      • Doc

        I gave up on MLB when the first strike/walkout/lockout occurred. Haven’t watched a non-Reds MLB game since, and very few Reds game. After leaving Cincy for college in 1967 I have been to two games, both at GABP, which is fewer games than I attended in Louisville in two nights on a vacation trip. The game has, indeed, lost much of its attraction.

        I will always be a Reds fan, having grown up playing knothole Baseball in Cincy, attending games at Crosley with my grandfather on knothole day when a kid in uniform got in free with an adult. I am, at best, a Cincinnati Reds fan, but no longer a baseball fan.

        I get excited when good things happen for the Reds, dejected when they lose consistently, but I am under no illusions. The ownership will never be able to field a consistently competitive team in a system designed to funnel all the talent to the select few. That handwriting was on the wall when Curt Flood won his suit and baseball became unionized. That genie won’t be put back in the bottle. Guaranteed contracts that pay incredible sums of money for people who can’t play are part of the ruining process. Insurance companies who insure those contract are part of the problem.

        The DH is an abomination for the sport overall. It rewards and retain people, often far too handsomely, who cannot play baseball, they can only hit, and some of those not very well. It blocks the flow of fresh talent into the major leagues, as do guaranteed contracts, making the game stale. This year will be essentially the same names as last year, and next year won’t be much different.

        By the way, after looking for fresh columns from Doug this morning and seeing none, I went to MLBTR.com and learned from an article dated yesterday that TJ Antone has been slowed on his throwing program by pitching arm forearm discomfort. That would have made a far better story than the constant griping about the Castellinis but so far nary a peep on RLN, Reds Minor Leagues, or the Reds website. Kind of throws an early curve in those early predictions about the BP being much stronger, a curve that was either taken looking or swung at and missed by the place to go for (apparently almost) everything Reds.

    • Jedi Joey

      Great posts, all! I agree with a great deal of what you all are saying. I’ve never been so discouraged as a Reds’ fan and of MLB as I have been lately. It’s sickening to see MLB teams acting like farm clubs for the big money teams. I find myself enjoying the local minor league team and that experience way better than trips to a MLB ballpark. It’s cheap, fun, and I don’t get worked up over the wins and losses.

    • Colorado Red

      Must disagree with many of your points.
      The only other player, I would consider other then Scott, was Jeff.
      It is the Hall of fame, Not the hall of good.
      2. I agree.
      3. is true, but it is because of analytics, Too many players try to hit everything out.
      4. Look at ERA from the 7’s pitching is good, but that dominate. Analytics strikes again.
      5. I think the shift ban will change this a bit, but I do not like it, If you can’t beat the shift, too bad.
      6. and 7. I have to disagree, but I understand the frustration.
      Enjoyed the post, cheers.
      Go reds.

  9. redfanorbust

    As far as the new schedule goes I am in agreement will make little difference either way standings wise. One difference could be the amount of distance players have to travel I would think. However for myself will make the season more fun. Will get to see more teams that rarely get to play and not have so many repeats of teams in our division. As far as win/losses go I think it depends on health. Votto, Senzel and especially Antone and Sims. IF they come back healthy and can perform well and IF the Reds can avoid the crazy amount of injuries they had last year I think Reds have a shot at winning 70-72 games.

  10. Votto4life

    To me Baseball was perfect when there were two leagues, no inter-league play, each league having two divisions, with a total of 24 teams.

    The talent is so diluted now and the pitching so dominant that the game has become boring to watch. I feel bad for fans who never got the chance to see the game played in the 70s and 80s.

    Guys like Aquino, had a place in baseball in the 1980s.

    • Rednat

      plus 1,000.

      I thought the other day that guys like ceasar geronimo and dave concepcion would probably have not made it past aa ball in today’s game. think how much excitement would have been lost if those 2 players were not on the great teams of the 70’s

  11. LDS

    Since 1890, the Cincinnati Reds are one game under .500. Throw in the Redlegs from the 50s and they move to 21 games over. After this season, the Reds will likely have a cumulative record under .500. Bell alone is 44 games UNDER .500. The Reds under Castellini prior to Bell looks like 98 games under .500. So, Bob’s teams are 142 games under.500 going into this season. By contrast, the Reds were 97 games over.500 during Marge Schott’s tenure, the last time an ownership group had a winning record – Lindner was also a losing owner (78 games under). After this season? Don’t even think about it.

    Here’s an old RLN post on the subject.
    https://www.redlegnation.com/2005/11/06/reds-history-owners/

    • David

      That’s an interesting insight, and I think that “microcosm” analysis of the Reds points to the growing disparity of big market and small market teams, doing the baseball thing the old – fashion way.
      Probably no real fundamental change in player management since Marge Schott was majority owner, to the Castellini era. And the Reds are losing more, since what they do (whether they spend a lot of money or not) does not result in winning. Castellini and the ownership group just do not really have a lot of clues as to how to own and win with a small market team. There is a way, see Tampa Bay. That isn’t the only way, but …there is a way to win if your are a small market, modestly budgeted team. The Indians/Guardians did it last year with a small budget.

      • LDS

        I suspect, quite seriously, they don’t care if they ever win. The value of the franchise has grown significantly. The revenue cut has grown. So what if attendance is down. They are making bundles. And as Phil said, were we going to go. Most of us here have been fans for decades. Give up the Reds and follow LA or St.L? Can’t see that happening. And the Castellini group knows that.

      • David

        Interesting how well the Cardinals have done in this same era. But for a large segment of this era (the last 25 years), they also had a real Hall of Famer (Albert Pujols) in the middle of their line up. The Cardinals draw better and seem to have a stronger core of fans (these things may be self-reinforcing with actual “winning”).

        I don’t hate the Cardinals. My encounters with Cardinal fans at either Cinergy (Riverfront) or GABP have been mostly pleasant. Families traveling to Cincy to see the Cardinals, and mostly friendly and polite. A little different than Cubs fans who travel to see games in Cincy. And except for the Theo Epstein era with the Cubs, they have mostly been losing or mediocre.

  12. JB

    It all depends on if you play against the back end of the rotation or the front. I thought the Reds ended up missing alot of the better pitchers last year as they had pitched prior to the series. I want to say the Reds will play well this year because I cannot root against them. I think we are asking to much from Pitchers who are entering their 2nd year. Everybody on the team needs to have a good year at least. That is impossible. I’m just going to enjoy the young kids and hope they show progress. Next off season will show whether the stooges in the Front office are willing to spend some money. Just enjoy baseball for what it is this year. It sure is a whole lot better than a few years ago when there wasn’t any.

  13. Kevin H

    Reds season is over before it starts. Reds will lose 110 games.

    But hey were you gonna go

    • Greenfield Red

      The 22 and 23 seasons were thrown away by Walt Jocketty and Dick Williams.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        I don’t think either of those guys told the current gm to cut payroll by 60 million dollars from where it was two years ago but it is possible I am wrong. My wife tells me I am all of the time when I think I am correct.

      • Doc

        The current GM did not make the decision to cut payroll either, just to be clear. He is told what payroll he has to work with.

      • Greenfield Red

        The signings and trades made 2014-2020 doomed the team to be upside down talent wise and payroll wise at some point. That point is 2022 and 2023.

        All those trades for major league ready talent in 2015 from which the Reds received nothing of value in return combined with all the dead money ($40 million this year alone) from signings put the current GM in a no win situation, and ownership did the right thing by not throwing impossible money at it.

        Somebody said yesterday, at $8 million per WAR, the Reds would have to throw an ADDITIONIONAL $224 million at 2023 to have a shot at 90 wins.

        And before anyone says they shouldn’t have made all those trades last July and they would have been better this year with only a slightly higher payroll, the Reds were 40-61 on July 31 last year. That’s before the major trades.

  14. Melvin

    I agree that it will be more fun to see every team each year but at least for now there’s no way that it helps the Reds in my view.

  15. Harry Stoner

    That’s a nice shot of the stadium CF bleachers, the river and Kentucky ‘hills’ beyond in the photo heading the discussion.

    It’s a long time since my short stay in Cincinnati, but I always really enjoyed the the river, the riverfront and even Riverfront.

  16. catcard202

    Now’s about the right time to realign leagues to the Haves & Have Nots…

    The Balanced Schedule will negate any return to normalcy provided by the new shift rules & plugs 10+ more loses on CIN schedule every yr.

  17. David Moore

    Maybe MLB should have instituted a salary cap and floor instead of banning shifts, etc. The NHL didn’t want a cap either, but it seems to have worked out for them. At least the small market teams would have a chance.

  18. Hotto4Votto

    Saw an article about Bally Sports potentially declaring bankruptcy. Saw that they’re -7B in the red.
    The Reds ownership group has stake in Bally Sports, correct? And the Reds are currently contracted with Bally as their RSN. Wondering about the impact any of this may have with the Reds.

    • Old Big Ed

      Yeah, this is a major development.

      Diamond Sports Group, LLC is the actual entity. I think it leases the Bally’s name from Bally’s. Diamond is owned by Sinclair.

      The stories that I’ve seen say that Diamond has $2 billion in payments to teams this year, and has $585 million in cash. Itwill obviously generate some more cash over the year, but its problem is that it spent WAY too much on sports rights in the face of a changing market, characterized by accelerating cord-cutting. They appear to be negotiating a “pre-packaged” Chapter 11, where the details of the restructuring are generally agreed on beforehand, subject to bankruptcy court approval. It appears that, as usual, the junior bondholders will bear the brunt of it; those bonds (totaling about $5 billion) are selling at 5 cents on the dollar, per Bloomberg.

      Here is the Bloomberg story: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-01-25/sports-broadcaster-diamond-faces-8-6-billion-debt-reckoning. Here is an excerpt:

      “In a bankruptcy, Diamond would have the option of ending contracts with teams, potentially cutting off crucial industry revenue while also allowing teams to reclaim their media rights. The company could also halt payments to the teams while keeping the contracts in place. If a deal is not reached, both MLB and creditors are preparing for baseball teams not to be paid, according to two people. 

      Another person familiar with the matter downplayed the prospect that Diamond would discontinue rights payments in a bankruptcy, adding that the company is open to bringing in teams and leagues as equity partners in any restructured entity.”

      The Angels are another team affected, so I guess we now know why Arte Moreno suddenly decided not to sell the team. No new owner will pay, when a huge chunk of team revenue is at stake. When I heard that Phil had mentioned Bally Sports to the Rosie Reds, I figured that MLB had given the teams a big heads-up about Diamonds’ financial plans, which has been simmering for a while now.

      The Reds could at least partially — partially — explain the Reds’ reluctance to spend for 2023. This will all get worked out later in the year, but the Reds could indeed take a short-term hit from this.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Thanks for expounding upon this and providing some clarity. I had just seen a snippet and some commentary on another sports site (for college bball) and wondered how much impact this may have on the Reds.

      • MBS

        Personally I’d love to see the RSN’s die off. Maybe that would force MLB to begin to negotiate collectively on national deals. That would be a huge step in bringing MLB team revenues closer to even. I still think a streaming deal will be the future, at least within the next decade.

    • Redsvol

      This is a fascinating development. It certainly didn’t keep the Angels – and Arte Moreno – from spending $ this off-season. It could actually benefit the Reds by getting their media rights back. Media rights never go down. They only go up – even in baseball and even with cord cutting.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m working on something about this for tomorrow. The Reds have, or at least prior to the sale to Sinclair a few years ago, had a partial stake in Fox Sports Ohio (but not Fox Sports RSN’s as a whole). It was never specified if when Sinclair bought those RSN’s if the teams that had those stakes retained them, of if they were bought out as well in the sale.

      • Jim Walker

        Currently, Bally Ohio is direct streaming the Cavaliers, Blue Jackets (and before the MLS season ended, the Columbus Crew) for ~$20 a month (believe there is a discount of around $50 bucks for an annual subscription). The presentation on their website indicated the $20 includes all the teams.

        Previously it was believed that the Reds contract with the RSN did NOT include rights for the RSN to direct stream Reds games to the public for a fee.

        However, will the Reds be similarly available if this service is still available come April? And how might that impact their cash flow?

      • Doug Gray

        From past reading it seems very clear that MLB and Bally aren’t going to come to an agreement that allows Bally to include MLB teams in their streaming stuff.

      • David

        As much as we like to trash the Reds’ “Top Management”, they may have a lot more inside awareness of this issue, and thus they may think that this revenue stream (from TV rights, cable, streaming) is very problematical at this moment in time. They are just not sure the money is actually going to be there, even though they have a contract.

      • Doug Gray

        Yet other teams aren’t doing this, and they would have that same inside awareness.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Thanks Doug, looking forward to the article and your insights.

      • Doug Gray

        It’s now posted. Was expecting another article to be published today, so I was holding off the Bally Sports one for Friday, but the other one got pushed so I hit publish.

  19. Gonzo Reds

    Reds need to be looking to sign their two young stud SP’s to an extension like the Rays just signed Springs to yesterday, 4 years $31M. They may have to go to $36M to compensate for not having a competitive team around them like the Rays do, otherwise their agents will tell them to wait and they might end up traded to a team with a competent ownership group.

    • Redsvol

      Don’t disagree at all. But I would point out that Springs in a much different position. He is 30 years old with 2 years of club control. He’s running out of time to “get his bag”. Lodolo and Greene are young, and have 5 years of club control.

      I’m hopeful they will offer 4-5 of the young guys extensions soon. I think some will be interested but Hunter Greene is destined for stardom and may be difficult to sign. Hopefully not.

    • redfanorbust

      Hey Gonzo. I think Reds will wait till after this year to start offering extensions. If I am correct the model for the dollar tight Rays is to wait till a prospect gets good and flip him for someone younger, more controlled and also good? Maybe the Reds are going to go that route? I just wish the Reds a LOT better luck with their overall health this year so we can really see where the young players and the team are at.

    • Greenfield Red

      Does anyone remember Homer Bailey?

      • TR

        After 12 long years with the Reds, Homer last pitched with the Twins in 2020. He will be 37 in May.

      • Greenfield Red

        You might also remember, his exte sion was a disaster. Mesorocco? Geno? I’m sure there are others.

        Point is, most don’t work out for the team