Well, hello everyone. I’m back. For some reason, I’ve decided that I want to write about the Cincinnati Reds again in moderately regular intervals. So I’ll be here regularly for this season with a column every two weeks. It’s like when Michael Jordan came out of retirement.

Any good column needs a premise. Here’s mine:

There are three things the Reds should be doing in what has essentially zero chance of being a competitive season.

    1. Be as fun and entertaining as possible.
    2. Do whatever is necessary to get the club on a winning track as soon as possible.
    3. Do every possible thing to appreciate Joey Votto and maximize his opportunities to make franchise history.

Do I think the Reds will consistently do these things? Perhaps not, but I’d like to hope so.

Either way, every two weeks I’m going to write about what I would do if I were in charge of things. With all decisions guided by the three principles outlined above. Spring training starts in the blink of an eye. Let’s get started.

This first column will mostly focus on issues one and two, but let’s start with a nod to three. I do not know if Joey Votto is going to be fully healthy to start the season. But the second he is, he plays every inning he wants to. Upon learning of his injury, I started to think that 2022 might actually be his most impressive season. Think of it like this: He had one functional arm and he hit eleven home runs and managed to be just a tick off of a league average hitter (92 wRC+). That’s absurd. I have a bad shoulder that is more or less permanently as dysfunctional as the one Votto had repaired (from what I’ve read, at least). The idea of someone even being in the neighborhood of competent as a major league baseball player with that level of injury boggles my mind. As such, I’m not ready to count Votto out. If he’s healthy, he plays. All-time greats deserve appropriate sendoffs. (Though I hope he makes it just about impossible for the Reds to decline his option.)

Now, as for numbers two and three on the list of priorities: I want to start it with a discussion of Kevin Newman. He is a very solid looking utility player. And yet, I’ve seen multiple people put him first on the shortstop depth chart. This absolutely cannot happen. Unless you have established yourself as an above-average big leaguer, which, on the offensive side is a list that includes only Votto, Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson, and Wil Myers, all playing time is given to the player with the most potential and/or the farthest (in the younger direction) from the age of 30.

With the disclaimer that every big leaguer is inherently great, Kevin Newman is a 30 year old utility guy, and 30 year old utility guys are not fun as starting shortstops. I would much, much, much rather Jose Barrero get another shot now that he’s got some distance from his wrist injury and a reportedly good winter season behind him (along with new swing mechanics). And if that doesn’t work? Well, you know the names. The Reds have enough shortstop prospects to noticeably improve attendance if they all sat in the stands at GABP. Let’s start rolling them out. Let them learn at the big league level unless we really think some lasting damage might result from it.

Let Spencer Steer play at third until we’re absolutely sure he can’t. Let’s see what Will Benson can do. Let’s give Stuart Fairchild his first real shot. Let’s see Brandon Williamson instead of Connor Overton. Let’s see as many guys as possible who might be on the next good Reds team. And if one of them isn’t an option, the younger the guy is, the more time he gets to prove he can do it.

There’s on exception, and I’ll close with maybe the most controversial take here. Trade Nick Senzel. As we’ve watched him struggle to stay on the field the last few years, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t know the last time I saw a Reds fan who wasn’t down on him. He needs a change of scenery so he can maybe become what he should have been for the Reds. And somewhere out there is another player who needs that same change. Let’s do it Reds. A good old fashioned challenge trade. Give Senzel a fresh start somewhere else and see what he can bring in return for the current team.

And that’s about it in the first edition. Next time, I’ll check in on how spring training is starting and whatever the current talk is. Hopefully, it’s about giving prospects and other young players as long a look as possible. Hopefully, it’s about Joey Votto looking surprisingly good and healthy early in camp. But I guess we will see. If I were in charge, that’s what I’d do.

82 Responses

  1. Oldtimer

    Trade Nick Senzel. For who? If he has no value as a Red, then he has no trade value, either.

    Agree that Newman should be the utility INF not starting SS.

    Fairchild is a back-up OF. Williamson is not ready to be MLB SP.

    • JB

      Who isn’t a backup in the outfield? Might as well give Fairchild a shot. 99 ABs last year with 5 homers 279 average , On Base at .374 with a OPS of .897. Why not give him a fair chance with the others.

      • Oldtimer

        Myers. But others in the Reds 2023 OF are ahead of Fairchild.

    • Challenger

      Trade Nick Senzel for Jo Adell. Similar situation, both need a fresh start.
      Also agree with using Newman as utility infielder. Give Barrero a shot.
      Agree on Fairchild. Too early to tell on Williamson.

  2. Jon

    Regarding Senzel, the Reds should look to do something similar to the Puk-Bleday swap the A’s and Marlins made this past weekend. Two former top draft picks who have underperformed in the majors, Puk due to injuries.

    • Steve

      Why trade Senzel. You would get almost nothing for him. IMO he still is worth more than anyone he would bring back in a trade. I personally still have hope he can turn into a solid big leaguer. Just a lot of bad luck.

    • Redsvol

      Both of those players mentioned have way more value than senzel. Senzel is like a triple A player at this point. You’d have to look at teams AAA rosters to find a trade match.

  3. William

    Move on from Senzel. Benson did not hit with consistency in Cleveland and struck out too much. What did Cleveland do? They traded him to the Reds. Cleveland is looking for players who can hit with consistency and not strike out too much. The Reds are going from one Aquino to the next. It takes smart people to make it with a small market team. Bring in some new owners. Krall has some feel on talent, but Benson is a gamble. Well, they traded for him. Might as well give him a chance.

    • Doug Gray

      You say bring in some new owners like it’s a choice that someone from above can make. It’s not.

      • William

        You are correct, Mr. Gray. It is not a choice that someone else can make. I will be more careful in my wording. Thanks for pointing it out.

  4. Bdh

    Senzel is cheap but he has no value right now. Maybe he’s a candidate to get moved at the deadline if he can improve his stock enough. The question then becomes if he does that do the reds really want to move him with another 2 years of control?

    I do hope he starts in AAA though. If everyone is healthy then I’d have the MLB outfield as
    LF – Fraley
    CF – Friedl
    RF – Myers
    4th outfielder – Benson
    Fraley platoon + IF – Pinder/Solak

    On the Williamson > Overton comment I agree. However I don’t think it matters because IMO the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation will be Weaver and Cessa unless one of the two mentioned above + Dunn, Stoudt, Abbott, Gutierrez (when he returns), or another signing (still would like Anderson back on a minor league deal) push them to the bullpen

    • old-school

      I thought the same on Weaver until one of the local writers pointed out he hasn’t thrown more than 66 innings in a season in 5 years. That would profile more as a bullpen piece and spot starter. 2023 version of Jeff Hoffman.

  5. MK

    “Do every possible thing to appreciate Joey Votto and maximize his opportunities to make franchise history.”

    Isn’t it up to Joe responsibility to make franchise history when the opportunity arises?
    Just what is the team’s responsibility to help him do that, and just how do they go about it? Should they put the team goals above a single player? I would like to see them schedule now a Joe Votto Day to honor him and to let him no 2023 is it, no more.

    • Steve

      This would be a terrible way to handle things. The ownership already is consistently making ignorant comments and PR is in the toilet and your thought is to now tell Joey Votto “thanks for the 16 years, we will give you one day as a celebration of your career and that’s it”….That would be a PR nightmare with fans, players, legends, etc…What team goal is being forfeited by honoring one of the best to ever put on a Reds jersey as much as possible this season?

    • Zebach Radeem

      I agree on Votto. Thanks and see ya. Oh, and fire the worst manager in the history of baseball David Bell

      • Oldtimer

        They already did that. Bryan Price was let go a few years ago. He was a very good P coach but not cut out to be a manager.

  6. redfanorbust

    Hey Jason welcome back. It is always a balancing act trying to get wins and trying to let the young guys play, take their lumps, get better and prepare them for next year. From what I have seen of Bell he has always tried to play the hot hand at the moment. If I am Krall, which I am in this particular exercise, I tell Bell winning is important but should take a back seat to development. Any real winning seasons will come in 24-25. Pretty sure Bell knows that now anyway. If I am not trading or DFAing them then there is no reason not to start Barrero and Senzel. Of course spring training might shed more light on these two guys fate but if they get through that give them a couple of months as starters. There are plenty of other guys waiting to take their jobs. Keeping them on the team and playing them as just bench players does not make sense. You always have Elly De La Cruz to bring up. I would not mess with him positionally. I would keep him at SS, period. As for beloved Joey I would not give him carte blanche to play as much as he wanted. I would be looking for Stevenson to get more playing time and first as well as DH. The less time he plays catcher the better I feel. He is a tall lean guy 6-4 225 perfectly built for first base. You need tanks behind the plate to help absorb the beating they will get, plus he is probably our best hitter. Reds know this, that is why they went out and got two catchers. Joey will get his love and due send off from the fans. I think it very unlikely he comes back next year. If I am in charge Stevenson takes over first base permanently in 24 and for sure I would be spending the money saved from expiring Votto/Moustakas’s contracts on good young above average MLB talent.

    • Doc

      I’d play Votto the way the Cardinals played Pujols. With the balanced schedule he can get playing time in many stadia, but he should be limited unless his bat really takes off. If Votto gets 500 ABs for a Reds team that under performs, and if he is not setting the world afire, then it will have been a lost season as far as the climb to respectability is concerned.

    • Luke J

      First time I’ve ever heard Bell described as playing the hot hand. It always seems to me as soon as a player gets hot, Bell sits him for some “scheduled rest.”

      • Zebach Radeem

        Whenever there is a horrible decision to be made, Bell will make it.

      • Melvin

        Luke – was thinking the same thing about playing the hot hand. Maybe I missed it. 🙂

    • 2020ball

      Ugh, two catchers…. Sure it gives TS a bit of a breather but it makes it very duifficult to give anyone else on the roster a breather. Im not sure why everyone so steadfastly wants him to move positions and make the whole of the team worse and much less flexible but i guess im in the minority in that.

      • JB

        Totally with you on this. Three catchers on the roster is a waste of a roster spot. Especially when two of them don’t bring alot offensively. Casalli is plenty behind the dish and he can give TySteve a rest and catch 50 games.

      • redfanorbust

        Hey 2020ball. I think having Stevenson at catcher is a mistake and I would hazard a guess that that is were they would play him full time if Votto was not in the way. I don’t see how having him playing first base/DH from time to time in 23 hurts the Reds in any measurable way but I don’t profess to know everything anyway lol. Other guys could get rests from other bench guys filling in….I would love to see Stevenson take over 1B over full time in 2024 but time will tell. Just like a hundred other wait to see things going on for the Reds these days.

      • 2020ball

        I’m totally fine with seeing TS at first or DHing here and there, what I really dont want to watch is TS at first, a wet-paper bag catching striking out all game and a top prospect riding the pine or blocked in AAA. I’d much rather have Encarnacion-Strand and TS both smacking homers in the same starting lineup.

      • 2020ball

        And no one here even considers what Tyler wants for himself and his career, I’m certain he wants to catch.

      • Melvin

        2020ball – I’m kind of inbetween on TS catching. I would not move him from there completely. Having him at the DH maybe 30-40% of the time sounds fine to me. He SHOULD be hitting virtually every day though. The DH SHOULD NOT wear him out. David Bell gave him days off early in the year without putting him there and that made NO SENSE to me especially considering he’s the best hitter on the team. What I don’t understand about the catching situation is why carry three? Seems like the worry is if TS is at the DH and your backup gets hurt that you would lose the DH if TS had to go catch. I don’t understand why that’s such a big deal and how many times would that happen anyway? Even if it were to happen and the pitcher had to hit there is something, I can’t remember what it’s called since it been so long ago, oh yeah it’s called a pinch hitter. hahaha Seriously in my view I don’t see a good reason to carry three catchers unless one of them can play multiple positions like Farmer could which is not the case. Maybe I’m missing something.

      • MuddyCleats

        IDK, seems TS at 1B, when Joey is not there, makes more sense than a utility INF or another senior player like W. Myers’s? TS is 6’4”; not ideal 4 a Home Plate Umpire to work over. his size also makes him vulnerable to foul balls & additional injuries which takes his ++ bat out of the lineup. Lastly, he has a ++ bat on a bad hitting team as a hole & catching full time has a way of negatively affecting hitters. Last, I am not sure Cincy has a better 1B option sans Votto?

  7. old-school

    good article Jason.

    I agree fun and entertaining and I think from a roster construction piece, they’ve gotten younger, faster, and emphasizing speed and defense more and hopefully getting away from bad defense and station to station baseball with lots of strikeouts.

    The best way to get the club on a winning track as soon as possible is pitching and that’s starting depth and a bolstered bullpen and they didn’t do either one. Hopefully, a couple young arms emerge but I think hope is all there is for a plan to get better quicker in 2023.

    It sounds as if Votto will miss some time. Hopefully he comes back healthy for the late spring.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    I agree that the development/evaluation of Barrero/Fairchild/Friedl/Benson/Steer should take precedence above all else, especially Senzel.

    Feeling optimistic….not necessarily about the W-L record, but that the rebuild bottomed out last year and will be on the upswing in 2023. Looking forward to the forthcoming ‘so-and-so is in the best shape of his life’ articles to really get me hyped lol.

    • 2020ball

      “I agree that the development/evaluation of Barrero/Fairchild/Friedl/Benson/Steer should take precedence above all else, especially Senzel.”

      I think we all agree on this, but why can’t that be done in the minors?

      • SultanofSwaff

        Each of those guys have performed at a high level in the upper minors. They need major league at-bats. Maybe the question should be—why do you want journeymen who aren’t long term pieces taking meaningful at-bats from these guys?

      • 2020ball

        They’re not losing ABs, theyre just taking them at a different level. I disagree with the notion that AAA ABs arent meaningful.

      • Steve

        AAA at bats are meaningful, but meaningful isnt the same as comparable…to find out if those guys are going to be able to be legitimate major leaguers, they need legitimate major league at bats

      • 2020ball

        I’m all for that, if they earn it. Sharing time with a “journeyman” isn’t going to keep them from doing so. If they are to the point they need major league ABs, then I hope they’re in the majors. But if that means they’re sharing time with someone else capable regardless of age then I see no problem with that. Once they outperform them they begin to get more time on the field and soon they’re a regular. Why everyone think we should just throw our young guys to the wolves is something I dont understand.

      • 2020ball

        The Reds even if they’re solely focused development should still be trying to win games, all the young players on the roster will be better off for it. Cincinnati isnt a AAA club where you play guys based on age and prospect pedigree.

  9. Votto4life

    Sell them to an owner who cares.

  10. SoCalRedsFan

    Elly De La Cruz should be given every opportunity to prove he belongs on the team out of spring training. He is the most electric player the Reds have had since Eric Davis. If ownership has any sense, they’d want him to come North with the ballclub and put some fans in the seats.

    • Mark A Verticchio

      You are 100% correct my friend and I don’t see why everybody doesn’t feel that way. If he is as good as advertised what do they have to lose by bringing him up asap, other teams do it and the Reds should follow suit. You could move Barrero to center field and go from there. I am really looking forward to this season if handled correctly it could be the start of something big. If everything breaks right I could see 75+ wins. Hope springs eternal in Spring Training and that is ok.

      • Votto4life

        Last year, EDLC struck out at an alarming rate against A/AA pitching. Having him start the season in Cincinnati could be a disaster. How would fans feel if EDLC comes up and hits like Jose Barrero?

        If he does well in AAA and earns a major league spot, that’s fine. But giving him a spot on the major league roster just to sell a few more tickets, would be the worst thing this team could do.

        If he is as good as they scouts say he is, he will be up soon enough.

    • TR

      I think the Reds have a history of keeping talented young players too long in the minors. Cruz is a Willie Mays type talent and the Giants brought Willie up at age 20. The Reds should build their next winning team around EDLC.

      • David

        That’s a very good point.

        Who knows just how good EDLC could be? And people will likely come out to see him.
        People will not come out to see Phil Castellini.

      • 2020ball

        So we just ignore the countless examples of 20 yr olds failing when they were called up and use a very special example in a generational talent (Mays) where it worked? Also I’m not sure anyone in the minors today is a “Willie Mays type talent”.

      • Doc

        That was 50 years ago. The game has changed since Willie Mays.

        How did more contemporary phenoms do? Compare him to Acuña, Soto, Guerrero Jr, Bichette, et al.

      • SteveAreno

        Cruz can prove himself in Louisville for 50 games before works in Cincinnati.

      • TR

        In referring to Willie Mays, I’m not ignoring current talented 20 year olds, nor do I not realize that Mays played 50 years ago and that the game has changed. In actuality, Mays came up 71 years ago in 1951. I’m just an old fan who saw Willie Mays play many a game at Crosley Field.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      He has big gaps in his swing that minor-league pitchers didn’t have the location and-or velocity to take advantage of. I want him to get more minor-league experience at Louisville, come up at some point during the season, and give the Reds the potential of six-plus seasons of EDLC. If he’s the best player in the Cactus League, then yeah, let him start the year in the bigs. Otherwise, the potential downsides outweigh the potential benefits, IMO.

      • BK

        Well said, Tom. Everyone who writes about ELDC points out that he likely has the highest ceiling in the minors. But no one has ranked him #1 due to the risk associated with K-rate/strikezone discipline.

      • 2020ball

        This. Everyone here wants to rush every prospect, yet there’s already two examples on the team in Barrero and Senzel where that clearly didnt work. I’d prefer they refined their game in the minors and show they can dominate AAA before you call them up. Even then I want them to earn their starting spots not just be given them regardless of performance.

      • Votto4life

        Exactly Tom. Last year, EDLC struck out 158 times in 471 at bats against A/AA pitching. What happens when he come up against major league sliders.

        Rushing him to the major leagues is the exact opposite what the Reds should do.

        The next Willie Mays? wow. I would be thrilled if he just becomes the next Alfonso Soriano.

      • Melvin

        ” If he’s the best player in the Cactus League, then yeah, let him start the year in the bigs. Otherwise, the potential downsides outweigh the potential benefits, IMO.”

        Hard to argue with that. It would be really cool so see him start the year with the big boys though. Maybe. Personally I still think he’s destined for CF sooner or later. Senzel was a totally different situation in my view. Converting a SS to CF is not all that rare. Converting a 3B is.

      • Still a Red

        Good point. But the irony in it is if the AAA pitchers can’t pitch to his weakness, it will remain a weakness. The trick then, I guess, is for him to overcome the weakness in the majors without getting frustrated by it.

    • LDS

      Don’t want Bell anywhere near EDLC. If EDLC is ready, fire Bell.

      • TR

        The status of Bell is a management decision. As a fan, I just want to see EDLC bringing some excitement back to Red’s baseball.

  11. Optimist

    There’s a lot here, but the Williamson issue stands out. He needs 6-8 starts in Louisville before coming up. Aside from the annoying “service time” discussion, he needs to fine tune and master AAA. If he’s at all successful – sub 4.00 ERA/sub 1.35 WHIP/acceptable flyable %, then yes, bring him up in June. That’s not too much to ask, and I’d expect him to meet that.

    Stoudt would be a similar situation, though not with the longer term potential. Still, all for seeing if the Reds can get 100 ip or more from those two.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Williamson needs to show he can throw strikes. He couldn’t do it last year. Bringing a guy to the majors who can’t throw strikes is a recipe for failure, IMO. He (and any pitcher) should have to develop strike-zone control before being brought to the bigs.

      • Votto4life

        That is what should happen, but I’m afraid the Reds won’t have that luxury. As soon as, one of their three starting pitchers get hurt or underperform, they are going to resort to one of the young, unproven pitchers. I like the Will Meyer signing, but that money probably should have went to signing another starter IMO. I guess they at least didn’t repeat the Mike Minor mistake.

  12. G-man

    Welcome back Jason! Really excited to read your column this season! Now you just need to arm wrestle Chad to include you on some of his podcasts again this year! Always love to hear your thoughts and insights!

    • Jason Linden

      Heh. Thanks. I come and go from the podcast as I please. Can’t have Chadwick thinking otherwise.

      But really, my kids are at the age when life is very busy right now, so a column every other week is about all I can do if I want to keep writing other things (which have nothing to do with baseball and might see the light of day sometime not terribly far in the future if I’m lucky).

  13. MBS

    I really hope Williamson makes forces his way into the rotation at some point in 23. He didn’t do anything last season to earn a spot, so it will be a prove it thing in 23.

    Senzel should be used as a super utility like the organization said last year. He could cover the entire OF, 2B, and 3B. That’s a solid piece to have on your bench.

  14. Kevin Patrick

    I’ve watched a lot of baseball (or listened) these past years. There is always an interesting story. There is always hope that somebody might be good. Sometimes they are…and sometimes…they just validate your cynicism. Count me in the group that is actually not overly down on Senzel. He will be one of many players who I can’t wait to see just how he does. Listen people…Bell isn’t going to stop anybody from playing who can’t be denied. Right now, there a bunch of guys who I can’t wait to see. I figure about 3 or 4 of the names from this group could become really interesting. Who? How should I know?! Maile, Steer, Barrero, Friedl, Fraley, India, Solack, Fairchild, Stephenson, Benson. The bad news is going to be the pitching. I hope I’m wrong of course, but there is no way Lodolo and Greene are going to perform like reliable veteran aces. Everyone after those two that you can get something positive out of I would categorize as “something very surprising”. Of course, if 3 of whomever step up as starter with ERA’s in the low 3’s, I’ll still be watching a lot of fun baseball this year.

  15. BK

    Jason, welcome back! I always enjoy your articles!

    I thought about a “change of scenery” trade for Senzel when the A’s and Marlins swapped A.J. Puk for J.J. Bleday. So, either of those may present a decent comp for how a Senzel trade might look. I wouldn’t be opposed to a “change of scenery” trade, but I do not see a lot of upside in one. I believe Senzel’s upside still exceeds both Puk and Bleday. That said, Senzel is one of several players who should be competing for a roster spot in Spring Training. I see Barrero in a similar spot in Spring Training. There’s value in messaging to the prospects that Major League roster spots must be earned with performance in the minors.

    • Ryan

      Even if Senzel is healthy by spring, i think he’d be best served getting some AAA AB’s. Get his bat going and also get him playing a couple different positions. Fairchild and Friedl have outperformed him anyways and deserve the edge going into spring.

  16. Ryan

    Enjoyed the article and agree with much of it. Barrero and to a lesser extent Williamson is where we disagree a bit. Jose had an OPS of .401 in 174 PA’s, and didn’t hit very well in AAA either. I hope he has a good spring, but even then I’d like him to show some life at AAA before giving him any ML AB’s. Newman isnt great but he’ll do fine as a place holder for up to half a season.

    Williamson should be up once he demonstrates something resembling average(I’d take slightly below) command. His walks are just too high. In both cases I think additional time AAA helps the player. Throwing these two to the wolves and falling on their faces helps no one.

    One thing this team has improved, hopefully, is their depth at positions where they were a little/lot thin. Benson,the two catchers they signed, and some prospects getting closer, *Should*, insulate them from falling flat on their faces if they catch a mild injury bug(obviously they cant withstand an injury onslaught on par with last season,but who can?). They need health, a bullpen that performs at an average ML level, and a little luck with the back of the rotation. Not saying this is a Central division contender but this could be a team that is fun to watch and lays a solid foundation for the ’24 team.

  17. Mark Moore

    Love this as a theme for your articles. I’m not overly optimistic the BobPhil Ham-Fisted Style will support any of the above, but we can hope. We can also hope DTBell doesn’t screw things up too badly, especially if he has a healthy spread of players to work with.

    It’s almost time to get ready to rumble … really hoping we can beat that hot start from 2022. At least we’ll have a full ST for our guys.

  18. Michael

    I am totally supportive of Newman as the opening day SS if Barrero can’t hit his weight in ST. Everyone must earn a job! No rushing prospects, they get the call to Cincy when they are ready not to put more fans in the seats. I hope EDLC is ready soon and blows everyone out of the water in ST and is the opening day SS, rookie of the year, NL MVP, etc but reality says he probably needs a 1/2 season at AAA. Lots of guys strike out 20% or more of the time but we don’t want to see him come up and strike out 35-40% of the time and hit around the Mendoza line as a rookie.

    I am still hopeful for Senzel but right now, he is not a good bench player and if his bat is not vastly improved, then I hope he starts in AAA.

    • SteveAreno

      If Reds want to win, they must play Newman ahead of Barrero until Barrero can hit better. You don’t get better all at once in the major leagues. He needs to master AAA pitching first. Too many people want to rush the prospects out of desperation.

    • TR

      Or, if Senzel is injury-free, another ML team that will give him a chance in the infield where I think the Reds should have eventually placed him after being drafted in the first round in 2016.

  19. Chris

    I’m sure this would not be a popular idea, nor would it be a smart baseball business decision, but I’m about treating people respectfully and I think Votto has earned the respect of the front office and ownership.

    I’d meet with him now and talk to him about how much longer he thinks he wants to play and what his plans are after his playing days. I’d try negotiate a deal for the rest of the time he wants to play and possibly some kind of position within the organization if he wants to stick around after he retires from playing.

    Again, not a smart business plan, but it would be an absolute heartbreaker to see Joey play one or two years with another team at the end of his career.

    • Harry Stoner

      I’d love to imagine that the Reds’ front office had the experience, the emotional maturity and sensibility to do something like this.

      There haven’t been a lot of clues out there that they do.

      A hastily arranged “Joey Votto Day” seems like all they might be capable of.

  20. Melvin

    ” I started to think that 2022 might actually be his most impressive season. Think of it like this: He had one functional arm and he hit eleven home runs and managed to be just a tick off of a league average hitter (92 wRC+). That’s absurd.”

    I agree. That was pretty remarkable. Votto one way or another has always been pretty remarkable. Those 11 home runs happened even though missing considerable time which makes his stats on the year even more amazing.

  21. CFD3000

    Welcome back Jason! I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts this season, and appreciate the combination of realism, enthusiasm, and planning. The Reds are not likely to be competitive this year. As such, I agree 100% about who should play. If Kevin Newman gets 100 starts at shortstop in hopes that the Reds win 75 games instead of 70, that’s a fail. Play the kids. And I agree that it’s likely we see a renewed Joey Votto. I don’t know if he’ll be ready for opening day, and I don’t know where the assumption comes from that he won’t, but whenever he’s 100%, he should play and I expect him to be productive. Don’t underestimate Votto, and don’t dismiss this as his final year. But I’ll let Votto and his health and hitting resolve that question. And though you didn’t mention it, enough with the Tyler Stephenson shouldn’t catch talk people. He wants to catch, he’s one of the best catchers in the league when healthy, and he makes the Reds better there. At first base or DH he is perhaps slightly better than average and the team as a whole is worse with Casali or Maile starting behind the plate. Spot starts are fine – no one needs to catch 162. More than that? No thanks. Finally – pitchers and catchers tomorrow! Go Reds!

    • G-man

      +100…completely agree with all of your points!

  22. RedBB

    Build a time machine and ff to 2024 as that is the first chance we have to be remotely competitive. Hopefully by that year some of our young pups like EDLC are ready.

    The big Q I have is will the Reds be willing to spend the money that will come off the books from Votto and Moose’s contracts. I have my doubts at this point. I think the Reds are committed to having a payroll well south of $100M a year at this point.

  23. Bill J

    Bally Sports airs local MLB games for 14 teams. You can also watch 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL franchises on Bally Sports.

    It is reported that Bally Sports owes MLB teams bout $1 billion. A number that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed. If Bally Sports follows through on its bankruptcy plans, that could put payments to MLB teams at risk.

    The MLB has made it clear they would prefer for Bally Sports to finish its contract, but if that can’t happen, they are ready with backup plans. The good news for MLB fans is that no matter what happens will still be able to watch their MLB games.
    From Cord Cutters News.
    Wonder what will happen if MLB loses that $1 billion

    • BK

      The contracts are with each team individually; they are the ones that would lose revenue. The Reds appear to have factored this contingency into their payroll this year.

    • Doug Gray

      They won’t lose all of that money. The contingency plans would bring some of that back via people either buying MLBtv, or MLB getting new money (albeit probably not the same amount) from another channel that would carry the games on one of your local providers. There’s probably also money in the central fund to help teams out in situations like this (again, probably not enough to make up for $1B).

      • BK

        I agree; MLB won’t lose all the money. As for the magnitude, Manfred told reporters it was closer to $1B than $2B–I haven’t seen anything more specific.

        Creditors get paid before owners in bankruptcy. So, the Reds will very likely lose any equity stake they have. Moreover, all teams contribute portions of the RSN revenue into the revenue-sharing pot. So, we’re talking about the loss of their equity stake, whatever part of their expected RSN revenue is lost, and reduced revenue sharing. Keep in mind revenue sharing impacts will carry forward based on how it is calculated using the three prior year’s revenues.

        I haven’t read any articles indicating MLB would pay teams from a central fund to compensate for RSN losses. This action might require negotiation with MLBPA as revenue sharing is part of the CBA.

  24. Dan

    I love your 3 priorities for how to get fun/value out of an almost-assuredly losing season, Jason.

    I’d like to add one more, if I may:

    4. Make the fan experience for fans who actually come to the games GREAT.

    I’d love to see the Reds pleasantly surprise us, really in any way possible. I doubt it’s going to be in wins and losses this year, but giving love to the fans in the stands should be a real possibility.

    And I don’t mean bobbleheads… I think most people are tired of those. (I am, anyway.)

    I mean, I don’t know, $5 bleacher seats, $5 “top six” seats (like the old Riverfront days), $1 hot dog nights, some new in-the-ballpark stuff that is actually going to be fun and cool (and that you only get by being there).

    Basically, I’d love for the Reds to be totally honest and good to the fans… own up to the fact that the product on the field probably isn’t going to be great this year. But we have a plan, and let’s see it play out together… and in the meantime, we (the Reds) want to treat our fans who DO come out, even during the tough times, to an A+ fan experience.

    Not just lip service, and not just some “whatever” marketing things. Take this seriously, and go above and beyond. Surprise us, Reds!

    The fans have gotten very cynical about the team (me included), for very valid reasons. The team needs to show us that they acknowledge that, and that they’re going to do what they can to make it right.

    Because, contrary to Phil’s opinion, there are plenty of things to do on spring and summer evenings other than the Reds. Let’s make the fans WANT to be there in the ballpark!

    Okay, ending my soapbox rant now. 🙂

  25. Kelly

    Look what happened to Didi Gregorius a couple of years after the Reds traded him to Arizona. They traded him to the Yankees and then he finally Blossomed!!!!