Okay. We’re coming up on a month into the season, and I have some things to say. What it comes down to is that there are nine spots available everyday for hitters. The primary question right now, is who should be getting those plate appearances. The other, unfortunate issue, is that positions matter. The Cincinnati Reds have more infielders than outfielders and that complicates matters.

Let’s start with the players I think should be getting the most regular plate appearances, and then we’ll talk about why:

  • Jonathan India
  • TJ Friedl
  • Jake Fraley
  • Tyler Stephenson
  • Spencer Steer
  • Jose Barrero
  • Matt McLain
  • Wil Myers
  • Stuart Fairchild/Nick Senzel (until someone claims it)

Now, let’s take a minute and break down the known quantities and decide how much we should be worried about their current stats (through Sunday’s game). For quick comparison, I’m going to list each guy’s age and wRC+. The younger you are, the more slack you get.

Catcher/DH/1B – Tyler Stephenson, 26-years-old, 88 wRC+. Does it matter? No. There’s been an odd lack of power so far, and I guess the strikeouts are a little high, but those are both things that can be erased in three or four games. He’s already established himself. He’s fine.

Other Catchers – Curt Casali, 34-years-old, 42 wRC+ and Luke Maile, 32-years-old, 5 wRC+. Does it matter? Yeah, it does. Listen, I get needing a back up catcher. I get that those guys tend to be defense first and bat not at all. The Reds do not need two of those guys. I though this was silly to start the season and it still is. Go to two catchers and call up Chuckie Robinson from Louisville if things get dire. Assuming, of course, Maile doesn’t make it through waivers.

2B – Jonathan India, 26-years-old, 118 wRC+. Does it matter? Yes. India is bouncing back from a rough year. What a relieving highlight to the season.

SS/CF – Jose Barrero, 25-years-old, 80 wRC+, Does it matter? Oh yes. Shortstop is the spot on the Reds right now. It’s the hot seat. Who can claim it? It’s like a freaking game show right now. Barrero’s defense has been rough, which shouldn’t continue, really, as he’s regarded as a good fielder. His offensive stats have a lot in common with Stephenson. They are very solid except for the lack of power and that, you assume, will come around eventually. For now, we should all be pleased that he’s walking 11.5% of the time (up from 5.2% last year) and only striking out 24.6% of the time (down from 43.7% last year). The plate discipline has clearly come around, leaving him a couple of good days from looking like the guy we’ve been waiting for these last few years. Now, whether his future lies in center field or at shortstop, I do not know. But he shouldn’t be going anywhere right now.

INF – Kevin Neman, 29-years-old, 43 wRC+. Does it matter? Yes. Newman needs to be the absolute last man off the bench, assuming he were allowed to stay on the roster more on this soon.

3B – Spencer Steer, 25-years-old, 120 wRC+. Does it matter? Yes. Another nice highlight and a young guy who, at least according to the early returns, is working out.

OF Scrum (all in one go) – TJ Friedl, 27-years-old, 118 wRC+; Jake Fraley, 28-years-old, 64 wRC+; Wil Myers, 32-years-old, 60 wRC+; Stuart Fairchild, 27-years-old, 98 wRC+, Nick Senzel, 28-years-old, 9 wRC+. What do these things tell us? At this point, Friedl has earned his spot and is a delightful surprise at the top of the order. Fraley, you have to figure will come around (he’s probably a victim of his .239 BABIP). Now everyone else, is a big old question.

So now we’ve got a rough sense of how everyone is doing who is currently on the club. I’ve also told you who I think should be getting the regular playing time. Let’s take a minute to figure out how to best distribute the time among the 13 position player spots.

Start with the easy ones:

  • Jonathan India – Starting 2B
  • Spencer Steer – Starting 3B
  • Wil Myers – Starting 1B until Votto returns (assuming he does)
  • TJ Friedl – Starting OF
  • Jake Fraley – Starting OF

That’s half the lineup. We still have four spots plus the bench (eight spots total). Here are the other guys I’d have on the roster along with their roles:

Tyler Stephenson – splits time 50/50 between catching and 1B/DH

Curt Casali – Catches when Stephenson does not.

Jose Barrero – Plays every day for at least another couple of months. Mostly at short, but a fair bit of center against left handed pitchers.

Nick Senzel – Does not have a regular starting spot. Takes on the versatile guy role. Can get more playing time if he shows he merits it.

Stuart Fairlchild – 4th outfielder. Lots of pinch hit appearances.

Matt McLain – Find plate appearances for him. He plays at shortstop whenever Barrero does not. He play second when India needs a day. He even gets to be the designated hitter some. Unless the Reds make a trade, they’re going to have to get creative with these infield prospects unless they want to start trading some of them for outfielders and starting pitchers. McLain has apparently impressed the crap out of everyone and has a 1.281 OPS in Louisville right now. Let’s give him a go. It is worth noting, for purposes of debate, that he is generally regarded as a tick below Barrero defensively.

Kevin Newman – Only plays in case of emergency. I mean it. There’s no call for him to play with this roster.

13th guy – Pick your poison. I’d really like to have Christian Encarnacion-Strand on this roster, but unless we want to make Wil Myers a part time player (I’d be fine with that, but I don’t think it’s happening), there’s no where for him to play right now. The Reds just decided it isn’t Jason Vosler anymore, so we’ll get to see what Henry Ramos can do.

At this point, the Reds are in a difficult position, but they seem to still mostly be getting it right. This team is young and a young team is going to have ups and downs. We must remember that the baseball season is long and 20-game chunks are often not especially representative of what a player can or will do.

Next time, I might write about pitching. Let’s see what Andrew Abbott does between now and then.

104 Responses

  1. MFG

    Good article, the Reds have allot of infield depth and options.
    Elly will force a call up pretty soon as well. I think the pressure is on Senzel.
    What about Elly in CF? Strand will force a call up soon as well.
    All good problems to have but if we are going to struggle, let’s struggle playing youngsters so they learn.

  2. Doc4uk

    No mention of Votto. Is he done and just riding out the last year of his contract as a bench coach? Sure seems like it.

    • Jim Walker

      David Bell was dancing quite a dance about Votto in some pregame quotes after Votto took batting practice at GABP Monday. The bottom line was that there is no change in Votto’s status. Courtesy of o Charlie Goldsmith of Cincinnati(.)com:

      David Bell on Joey Votto: “His shoulder’s not allowing him to be physically able to do the things he needs to do at the plate. He’s way ahead of schedule. It’s like an eight-to-12-month recovery, usually. He cut that time in half.”

      And there is more here

      • Jim Walker

        Didn’t want to mix my thoughts with the direct quote provided by Charlie.

        In the second (linked) tweet Bell goes on to say that trying to get Votto ready for opening day was (in retrospect) “rushed” and it is just a matter of getting Votto’s shoulder “physically” to where it needs to be to for him to swing a bat like anyone would need to swing a bat at MLB.

        For the record, Votto’s shoulder surgery was on 19 August 2022. He is just past the 8 month mark, so Bell’s cut in half reference above has expired.

      • Laura

        Regarding Votto – In 2014 I fell in the rain and ripped both the rotator cuff and the bicep muscle off the bone. Took the surgeon 4 months before he realized it then surgery was done right away. I have a lot of hardware in that shoulder now. On my first follow up visit he told me no yard work and no gardening for at least 9 mos. Surgery was in mid-March, so friends and family cut my grass the entire year and there was no garden. I told him maybe I should have waited to have the surgery until after summer, but he said the longer you wait on the injury, the harder it is to repair it. Maybe Votto waited too long, and to get full function back may take longer than 6-8 months. He has to try and hit 100 mph fastballs, I just needed to cut the grass. I will be surprised if he can actually hit well if he comes back before the All-Star break. I hope they don’t rush this – not good if he comes back early and hits .150 for the rest of 2023.
        Also, I am looking forward to CES getting called up, but I think I read they are playing him mostly at 3rd base at AAA so why are they doing that if they plan to put him on 1st base when he gets here? Maybe Steer’s going to go the first base?

    • MK

      Anyone who thought that a 40-year-old could come back quickly or at all from the major surgical repair like he had was thinking with heart not head. Almost 30- years ago when I was 40 I had had shoulder and knee surgery and had the therapy necessary to get me back to my normal weekend warrior physicality. I wasn’t the same as before but could be normal for daily activities. Doctor told me no matter who had orthopedic surgery it takes a full year to be completely healed.

      Joe has certainly had more extensive therapy than a normal person , but he is trying to accomplish more than a normal person. Bottom line he will never be able to do everything he was able to do before.

      • Broseph

        Agreed to some extent, but there are many more variables in Votto’s favor – medical, therapeutic and dietetic advancements alone are multiple times better than I assume mid 90s were talking.

        Then the fact that Votto has much more access and his only responsibility at age 40 is getting in baseball shape (vs full time job, family, etc) could very well mean a faster and better recovery.

        I figured late May early June with warmer weather was a best bet for his full return. Still think that’s accurate

      • Doc

        MK, agree. If you operate on a body part, the part will never be “normal” again. Normal parts do not have surgical remnants. They might be functionally better after surgery than they were before, but they are not normal. Your point is a good one.

        The more access one has to rehab, and the more motivation one has to recover, the farther along the asymptote to normal one can get, but one is always on the curve and the curve is never flat.

  3. GreatRedLegsFan

    Should added Ramos to the OF mix. Unless something absolutely unexpected happens, Senzel and Barrero are not part of the future. Votto is just going thru his farewell tour.

    • redsfan101

      No reason to claim its his last. But its a hard surgery to come back from, he is a HOF, I really hope we can turn around and be a 500 team and then somehow go on a tear with CES, Elly, McLain, Abbott. Who knows? probably not but for vottos sake???

    • DW

      How is Barrero not part of the Reds’ future? How do we know this? There are a lot of hall of famers and MVP’s that you would have given up on based on their first season or two. Young players have to be given a chance to take their lumps and grow through early struggles. The step up to the big leagues is a huge step. Especially for young guys with a poor team around them. It is much easier for young guy to come up among a solid veteran team. Barrero is loaded with potential. Maybe he doesn’t work out, but he needs to be given consistent playing time and stability to really find out. He has not yet had that opportunity.

      • redfanorbust

        Hey DW I agree with your take on Barrero and baseball players in general. I just wonder how things will play out with De La Cruz, Mclain and Arroyo waiting to come up maybe/probably this year? Sounds like a trade might happen? Always seems like Reds have a log jam somewhere on their team.

      • Cincy6464

        +1000. The kid’s gonna be alright.

    • Harold

      Your absolutely right. Move on from Senzel and Barrero. Allow Votto to get his time when he’s ready.

  4. Doc4uk

    Senzel is only on the roster because of his draft position years ago. He has failed to progress in spite of being given multiple opportunities. He did not hit with any power or average even at AAA during his rehab stint . Not sure if he has any options but he should be sent down to prove he can hit AAA pitching. CES should be brought up and placed at !B and Myers should be left in the outfield.

    Also bring ABBOTT up and don’t waste his arm in AAA. He is better than Cessa and Cessa should be in the BP anyway

  5. old-school

    Nice synopsis Jason. Agree with all your points. Friedl, India, and Steer have been big time bright spots. With Votto out for awhile, I might let Steer get some starts at 1b as well to get McLain in the fold at 3b/ss/2b. Steer/Barrero/India can be primary 3b/ss/2b with Mclain getting 1 start at SS and 1 at 2b and 2 at 3b and once at DH per week. I dont want McLain in the OF. Stay on the dirt please!

  6. SultanofSwaff

    Last night’s walk aside (astonished LeClerc fed him all sliders but for one fastball which he swung and missed), Senzel hasn’t shown the ability to hit even garden variety fastballs at the ML level this year. His ISO and exit velocities (just 84.9mph) have declined each year. Much like Vosler, his spot on the roster is untenable, even in the short term. The front office needs to swallow their pride and do the right thing for the team.

    • Jim Walker

      I think the Reds are hoping for a hot spurt from Senzel that would bring some sort of face saving return, meager though it seems certain to be. I thought all along the only reasons he was tendered for this year were public relations vanity plus his rehab cost was on them even if they nontendered him.

      If he is still with the Boras agency, a person would think they would be able to find and help along some sort of solution to move him if there was any market at all.

  7. Luke J

    I have never seen a hitter as clueless at the plate as Wil Myers. I don’t care what they paid him, he should be the last player off the bench and should absolutely not get regular at bats. The second CES is full speed, he should be the everyday 1st baseman until further notice.

    • Tomn

      Myers has been just short of awful. For awhile he was standing so far from the plate, he’d need an ironing board to reach a pitch on the outside part of the plate. Now he’s crept closer to the plate and occasionally makes contact. Even getting a hit once in a while.

      I’d like to see him DFA’d/traded/whatever it takes to get him off the team. Yes. I know he’s getting paid big bucks. Sunk costs! Get CES up here to play 1B.

      • Luke J

        I find it comical though, that after everyone pointed out how far he was from the plate, he made an adjustment. He is now 1″ closer to the plate than before. He is STILL way too far from the plate and can only reach a ball if it’s off the plate inside.

      • Brian

        Votto isn’t stupid. He knows that his counting stats aren’t HOF worthy and that his OBP. and AVG. have been on a slide. I think part of it is protecting that while raking in that money. He’s not giving up any money like he implied that he would. He knows the Reds will buy out next year.I look for him to play 2-4 weeks this year to milk the money and protect his stats. I still don’t get waiting anymore resources on Senzel. Let’s say he eventually started to hit like a mediocre player, he’s still gonna get hurt and be in and out. They need to bring these 3 prospects up in the next 30 days and give Bell orders to put them in the lineup and leave them there. He seems to be a master at screwing with players heads. What India said about last years roster should be a big red flag on Bell and some players too. Letting players be out for themselves adds up to losing. India tried to bulk up and focus on HR’s though and that sounds like he was a participant too since he should be a top of the lineup guy.

      • cwlosangeles58@gmail.com

        Hi Tomn. Agree about Myers but we as fans say sink the money and DFA him but ownership won’t eat that much money especially after the Moustakas bitter pill and currently paying Votto for being a cheerleader. Who knows maybe he will start to hit once the weather heats up? I still think it is too soon to give up on him just yet. Wait till trade deadline when if he does start to hit we might actually get something back for him. CES will get up here soon enough.

      • JayTheRed

        I get the feeling his agent came to the Reds and said something to the line of, hey do you want this guy he will come and play for less to come to Cincinnati. He is going to try to build his value back up. Reds wanted to say, hey we signed a guy with name recognition and maybe he will hit better here in our small park. I know it’s only 20 games or so but so far, he has been such a disappointment.

        Also, even though he is closer to the plate he needs to move in another inch or two to even have decent chance of hitting better.

        Move him to batting like 7th or 8th in the batting order too. Too many good chances to score have been wasted on him striking out or tapping a ball to an infielder.

    • TR

      Wil Myers brings close to nada for this team. With so many young guys waiting to go major league, I want to see him gone asap.

      • greenmtred

        Myers–like Vosler–seems to be playing better defense at first base than we’ve seen in a while, so not exactly without value, but for a team that struggles to score, not enough value.

  8. MBS

    Why would you bring up McLain to be a utility guy?

    Barrero – 0.4 DWAR 46th out of 46 SS in both MLB (dead last)
    India – 0.5 DWAR 50th out of 50 2B in MLB (dead last)

    India has been near the bottom defensively for 3 years in a row. Barrero is/was supposed to be a good defender. He hasn’t shown it yet, but at least there is hope. We have the worst middle infield defense in baseball, and you want to make McLain a utility guy??? If you bring up McLain he needs to play everyday at either SS or 2B.

    I personally would wait to bring up McLain, but if you do it now, and only add him.

    DH Ramos / Stephenson
    C Stephenson / Casali
    1B Myers / Stephenson
    2B McLain / Senzel
    3B Steer / Senzel
    SS Barrero / Newman
    RF Fraley / Fairchild
    CF Friedl / Senzel
    LF India / Fairchild

    I’d wait until June before I’d bring up McLain, CES, or EDLC. I’d be a bit more aggressive with Hopkins. I might swap him out for Fairchild very soon if they both keep playing like they are.

    • Chris

      Good points about defense, but you are measuring Barrero’s defense based on a month of baseball. The fact is, over their course of minor league baseball, every metric shows that Barrero is a slightly better defender than is McLain. As for India, you aren’t going to move your young start for an unproven rookie. Again, these guys are human, you can’t treat them as if they are robots. Emotions will affect their game.

    • Luke J

      Defensive metrics are a complete joke. Even the staunchest of WAR supporters acknowledge just how terrible they are. Barrero is very good defensively and I don’t think India is nearly as bad as people make him out to be. Both are completely adequate on defense and defense should not be used in the evaluation of the playing time either should get.

    • MBS

      I know it’s easy to lose the message that I wouldn’t move McLain up until a spot opens up for him.

      They are not robots, and India should have been moved back to 3B when Suarez was traded, but they didn’t do that, and he’s still playing out of position. You can’t continue to ignore problems, and expect them to be solved. My guess is the Reds are waiting for India to have a good 1st half, and then they will trade him. That’s when EDLC, and McLain will probably get their promotions.

      Just a FYI I don’t want to trade India either, it’s just what I think is most likely.

  9. Doc

    Jason, interesting that you state that baseball is a long season and 20 game chunks are not necessarily indicative of what a player can do. I wholly agree. But then you are promoting Matt McClain based on what he has done in the first 20 games in AAA, despite what he did over the whole season in AA in 2022. In fact, you are also pretty much assessing all the OF candidates based on ~20 game chunks.

    I like McClain and he will be on the MLB field soon enough, but he has a track record that is much longer than 20 games. I would like to see him continue to play full time in AAA while Barrero is getting the chance at SS you wish with the Reds. If Barerro becomes the guy at SS, then switch McClain to CF at Louisville to dust the rust off his skills and call him up to play OF when he shows he is ready.

    This year is going nowhere, though I believe it will be better than it has been thus far, and there is no reason to panic and rush into any decisions.

    • MBS

      I agree about defensive statistics, but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. This isn’t a one off stat, it’s an attempt to add in a host of factors, and this is a trend 3 years in the making.

      India 2023 50th out of 50 (- 0.5)
      India 2022 62nd out of 62 (-1.4)
      India 2021 18th out of 62 (0.3)

      Maybe he’ll be more the 2021 guy, but that’s still means 17 2B’s are better than him, and that ain’t good. I don’t blame India, he was pulled from a corner and asked to play up the middle. I think putting him back onto a corner might be the best use for the Reds, and in the best interest long term of India’s.

      • MBS

        @ Doc, Sorry wrong post, this was supposed to be for @Mike

  10. LDS

    Good article, glad to see someone say DON’T PLAY NEWMAN. And also, to admit that Votto may not be back. As I’ve said all along, I’m not sold on Fraley though I did expect more from Myers. Give Fairchild his shot and move on if he doesn’t step up. Senzel, Newman, Maile, … Dump them.

    • Jim Walker

      Fraley since he came to the Reds (AVE/OBP/SLG/OPS) in 324 PAs:
      These numbers are from Fangraphs which allows for combining data across seasons. They use wRC+ in place of OPS+ and assigned a 107 wRC+ to Fraley’s numbers in this sample.

      Jason noted that Fraley’s BABIP so far is only .239. His BABIP in the sample here was .279. Fraley’s MLB career BABIP/OPS+ (659PAs) are .270/94. I am not certain I share the same degree of optimism as Jason about Fraley’s long term performance.

      • LDS

        I agree and I’d like to see the Reds move away from the platoon concept. Acquire players that can play everyday, who have smaller L/R variations, e.g. try Fairchild, who is relatively balanced L/R. Of course, there’s still Bell’s handedness obsession, but as shown last night, a good hitter can overcome that.

      • Doug Gray

        Those kinds of players cost a lot of money…. so it’s going to be a problem for the Reds who don’t want to spend money.

    • LDS

      I agree, the Reds are cheap. But realistically, based on the Reynolds contract (career L/R difference .004), more than affordable for the Reds, they’re out there. There were several last offseason with differentials of .025 or less that went for well less than $20M/yr. As you noted earlier in the offseason, the Reds payroll is approaching half of their all-time highest, so they could have added 2-3 everyday players, under 30, and still not reached their previous payroll high. The Reds clearly have little interest in winning. And all the top 100 prospects in the world isn’t going to change that. Winning requires investment.

    • SteveAreno

      From the wire:
      TOP PERFORMERS: Kevin Newman leads the Reds with two home runs while slugging .356. TJ Friedl is 10-for-35 with a double and seven RBI over the last 10 games.

  11. Mark Moore

    Interesting thoughts. I’m aligned with the majority of them. I’m not a fan of rushing McClain, especially with DTBell and crew responsible for his MLB management (I would foresee a lack of consistent playing time).

    Senzel – I’m thinking he needs a change of scenery. I like the guy, but they’ve messed with his head and with his slow recovery from the last injury, maybe it is time to find him a new home.

    Votto – I’d love to see him play again, but I’m beginning to wonder. I keep seeing “hints” that his recovery is very slow and he’s not willing to go active and fail. It’s a wait and see.

    Other Prospects – Abbott is probably the one I’m watching most closely. College pitchers do come up the chain more rapidly, but he needs to land in the rotation and his innings will still be limited. I’ll admit I’m a little excited at the possibilities.

    Keep the chatter going, friends. Last night was really needed and we played like we meant it.

    • Old Big Ed

      Nobody has messed with Senzel’s head. He is a grown man who is fully in charge of his own head. Instead, Senzel has not shown that that he is talented enough to be a regular MLB player. This is his probably his last chance in Cincinnati, because he is closing in on baseball middle-age. That he was #2 in the draft is long since irrelevant, especially given that his draft class had the worst first in memory.

      I am not quite ready to give up on him, but with McLain, EDLC and CES coming fast, it is nut-cutting time for Senzel

  12. Mike in Ottawa

    So here is my 2 cents. I hate defense stats period. Except for the catching position. The infielders aside from the first basemen are rarely in their natural position. They still shift. I do think Steer, Barrero and India need to clean up their defense (mostly fielding).

    I like the idea of CES if he keeps hitting moving up to play first.
    India at second, he has been a catalyst from the leadoff spot.
    Barrero at SS. I think his D will improve and his offense has shown signs of life.
    Steer at 3B. Hopefully his glove will catch up to his bat.
    I agree 2 catchers is all that is needed. 3 hand cuffs Bell’s options and he definately doesn’t need any help with that. Stephenson and Casali.
    OF of Friedl and Frayley they you can mix and match for the third spot.
    Fairchild has been ok as fourth OF.
    Newman needs to be gone….imo
    Will Myers…has anyone taken more called third strikes than him? Balls right down the middle? I remember the really bad teams from the early 80’s and can’t remember anyone taking called third strike.

    Oh yeah ELDC has struggled early in AAA his ETA is looking more like June…

  13. RedBB

    This one’s easy…stop starting Senzel.

    • David

      Senzel is a really good 3rd baseman, but he is not hitting and probably will not hit at the ML level. The time is coming to fish or cut bait with Nick.

      I would move India to third base (his natural position) and call up McClain (give him a few more weeks) and he would play second base. To make room for McClain, DFA Maile.
      Move Steer to 1st base (for now) and alternate at DH with Myers and Stephenson.

      That would improve the infield defense, in my opinion.
      If you bring up CES because he is tearing down AAA pitching, he and Steer can alternate at 1st base/DH, or perhaps Steer can play ….left field? Especially if Fraley continues to non-hit. Slump. Fail to make contact.
      I am not a fan of bringing up McClain to play center. This sounds a lot like a song I heard a few years ago when Senzel came up from AAA.
      I am massively disappointed in Fraley and Myers. Give them another 30 days to sort this out, and see if they start hitting.
      Joey Votto….maybe hitting on the side and working with his Physical therapist right now. He will probably have another 20 day re-hab stint at AAA, probably starting in mid-May. The cold weather we’ve had lately probably doesn’t help his shoulder.

  14. Cincy6464

    Good summary Jason.
    I agree with Jim Walker’s post, “you build a team up the middle.” (plus solid starting pitching). The Reds have the every-day player pieces in the system to accomplish Jim’s goal. But now it’s a grow & improve situation. EDLC, MM, CES and others will force their way into the conversations – be it this year or next.
    The message Jason has preached in previous articles “stay young & play fun baseball” resonates with all of us. We are impatient for W’s and grow weary of the place-holders. The question gets to be, “who can lead/develop a young team?” Is there a manager that can mesh that development with the front office (see Terry Francona)?

  15. BK

    I’ve wondered about swapping India and Steer defensively. Steer is faster and appears to move well laterally. It would seem a defensive switch would help. I don’t like moving India to the outfield mid-season like others have suggested.

    I don’t get the pushback some are giving about Barrero. This is the first time he’s been given regular playing time when he was ready for the big show. He’s doing fine and showing improvement. Stop playing him in CF and let him settle in at SS.

    Promote guys from the minors when they are ready. We knew this team was short on talent. Don’t exacerbate the rebuild by rushing players. McClain, Abbot, CES, and ELDC will all arrive by August.


    India, 3B
    Friedl, CF
    Steer, 2B
    Stephenson, C/DH
    Fraley, LF
    Fairchild, RF
    Myers, 1B
    Ramos, DH/OF
    Barrero, SS

    • Old Big Ed

      I also don’t understand the Barrero rants. The Reds unfairly rushed him. He missed his age 19 season (2017) due to issues with his leaving Cuba. He then played well in the minors, slashing .280/.343/.436 in High A at age 21 (in 2019), and he was thought to be strong defensively.

      He got sent to Prasco Park in the Covid year of 2020, but the Reds for some unexplained reason brought him up in August of that year to play in Cincinnati. He had not seen a live pitch since the previous September, and he had yet to have even one AB above A+, but the Reds moved him up anyway. He did not do well with Cincinnati, and it was organizational malpractice to try it.

      In 2021, he was the Reds’ minor league player of the year, slashing 303/.380/.539 in AA and AAA. The Reds brought him up in August, but then only played him sporadically. Last year, he broke his hamate early and never got untracked, and was completely out of sorts when the Reds again promoted him, again for unexplained reasons.

      BK is right that this is the first time that Barrero has been ready to play in MLB. So I agree — Bell should write Barrero’s name in the lineup every day at shortstop for the first half of the season, to find out what he is. In the long run, EDLC may bump him to the outfield, where I hope he will land as a right fielder, but he needs to play every day.

  16. SteveAReno

    Interesting points and you left out the new guy until the end. Henry Ramos. He should be batting every day but you didn’t include his stats which look so good. Plus, he’s known as an above average outfielder.

    • Luke J

      The problem is Ramos is a 31 year old with no future on this team. He will hopefully be an adequate stop-gap until we can replace him on the roster with one of the young top prospects. But people fawning over a 31 year old after a good spring and first month in the minors are really prisoners of the moment. I wish him the best and hope he goes on a tear for the Reds. But 31 year olds don’t typically all of a sudden become big leaguers so I don’t expect much.

  17. JoshG

    the only place India would move to is his natural position at 3B,
    Steer to 1B, Myers OF/DH (until traded)
    That only happens if mcLain forces his way up and into the everyday lineup at @ 2B.
    Then when Elly De Le Cruz and Christian Incarnation-Strand are ready… Barrero to the OF/utility and steer would become a heavily used utility and DH some

  18. Votto4life

    Jeff Brantley claiming the Reds need to invest in veteran leadership for the rotation. Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo would look pretty good about

    • David

      “Veteran Presence”. Sorry, don’t buy that. What I do think is that there is a difference in outcomes with starting pitchers depending on who is the catcher and calling the game.
      I think this is why the Reds should keep Casali…for now. I have an intuitive sense (with no statistical backup…Quick! get some backup in here! Stat!) that the starters get better results with Casali catching than Stephenson. I think Stephenson has a lot to learn about calling a game. Or I could be dead wrong here.
      I would not be so quick to rush Abbott up here. I think he is probably close to being ready, but I would hope the situation stabilizes a bit (Cessa may have several good turns now as a starter), and as some other smarter people here have said, Abbott may be innings limited on this season.
      Maybe July.
      I think a lot of changes may take place in the June-July time frame.
      1) Votto is ready to play in early June
      2) McClain keeps hitting, and gets called up
      3) Abbott keeps throwing “Lights out” and gets called up in late June/early July if someone falters or gets hurt.
      4) Newman gets traded to some team that NEEDS an SS or ute guy, and the Reds unload his contract and get a bucket of balls in return.
      5) Senzel still isn’t hitting, and either gets optioned to AAA or released.
      6) Maile gets released, traded, off the 26 man roster.
      7) LukeJ commented on the age of Henry Ramos. If he really hits well and gets plenty of AB’s, he may get traded to a contender for something of value. Is he “part of the future”?
      8) Everybody expects Myers to get traded at the deadline (or before) because of his age, contract, etc. What if nobody wants him and he is hitting lousy in the friendly confines of GABP?

      I think a lot of these “moves” will be related. Someone has to go to make room for Votto, McClain, CES, Abbott, etc.

      • Votto4life

        So you are not buying that Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo would have made this team better? The Reds were one inning away last night from being 0 for the week.

      • Kevin H

        I trust Brantley instinct over yours,or anyone who doesn’t buy what a former player says. As a former baseball player has more knowledge than we do about the ins and outs.

    • MBS

      They are going to have a miniscule payroll in 24, I’d sign a front end starter, and closer for that matter.

      Urias / Greene / Lodolo / Ashcraft / Abbott sounds good for the foreseeable future.
      Hader / Diaz anchoring the pen also sounds nice.

      That’s maybe $40M or $45M, added to the less than $40M they’ll probably have on the books in 24.

    • SOQ

      A good team needs a mix of veterans and youngsters–both on the pitching staff and again for the fielders, for the team to jell and win. The Reds unfortunately have unloaded all of the veterans (sans one-who is not a leader) The young guys have no leaders, although India is trying–but he is still a young player. In that regard, Jocketty had it right bringing in Rolen. He missed on a few after that unfortunately. This team has a long way to go to fill all of the holes, both in talent and leadership. It may not happen in my lifetime

  19. Stock

    First this year is not now nor ever has been about winning. The goal of this year should not be to field the best team possible but to find out what you have. Matt McLain has been great in Louisville, for all of three weeks. He should spend at least 2 months there.

    I personally let EDLC, McLain, CES and SP prospects stay in Louisville until September. Then I call up EDLC, McLain, CES and two SP (right now Abbott and Boyle/Phillips). Let them try to win rookie of the year/pitcher of the year in 2024 and garner extra draft picks.

    As for this year at the ML level. Let’s figure out what we have.

    Barrero is coming around and needs to play every day.

    Friedl is a surprise and needs to play everyday to see if he is the real deal or just a 4th OF (Chris Heisey plus would not be a bad player but he could be Drew Stubbs plus).

    Ramos should play everyday. Let’s see what he can do. Play him everyday in May and if he hits he is part of the 2024 picture. If he doesn’t we know what we have. Having him play 3 times a week tells us nothing. He was impressive in Spring Training. He was impressive in Louisville. He was impressive last night. Let’s find out if he is a ML hitter.

    Steer and India need to play everyday. I would consider moving Steer to 1B and India to 3B. Both are not long term at their current positions. I would not mind seeing a 2024 IF of 1B – CES, 2B – McLain, 3B – India, SS – EDLC. Steer could DH. OF of Barrero, Friedl, Fraley and Ramos. This has the potential to be a very good offense in 2024.

    Pitching wise I think it will be difficult to keep Abbott down for another month. I think he will be in Cincinnati in June.

    The rotation looks very strong:

    Greene is an ace
    Ashcraft is an ace
    Lodolo is a good #3
    Abbott could be a #2 or an ace come 2024.
    Boyle could be great if he continue to improve their control.
    Phillips is a great contingency plan should Boyle not be able to throw more than 60% of his pitches for strikes. I am hoping Boyle will be consistently at about 62% come YE.

    • Optimist

      Agree with much of this – the caveats:

      1 – Boyle is all or nothing, and shouldn’t be called up until the BB/K% approaches something reasonable. He may be able to jump straight from AA, but he’d be useless in MLB right now. May take 4-6 weeks, may take 4-6 months, may never happen.

      2 – McLain may be treated as a much better version of Lopez/VanMeter/etc. – a guy with a scorching 4-6 weeks in AAA – call him up and see if it sticks. It did with Lopez, but a generic fielder with no power and a .280 average isn’t all that useful in MLB. McLain’s power and SS may be the difference in usefulness. If he can get 20 ABs a week then call him up – otherwise, let him be until July.

      3 – CES and EDLC need another 4-6 weeks in AAA due to the delayed starts – if either is hot by mid-June bring them up as well. EDLC needs to reduce the K%, CES needs to find a defensive position – don’t call him up solely as a DH.

      • Stock

        I think I agree with you optimist. I don’t want any of them in the majors until September. I also agree that even if they are called up before then it should not be until probably July.

        I also agree Boyle needs to prove he can consistently throw strikes. If Boyle throws 62% of his pitches for strikes over the next 10 games he will absolutely dominate his opponents.

    • Jason

      I mostly stay out of the comments, but if Greene and Ashcraft are aces, then so is Lodolo. Though all three pitchers have gotten there in different ways, they have eerily similar results numbers. I wonder if you’re letting a couple of recent rocky Lodolo starts color your thinking on them.

      • Stock

        I disagree Jason. I think Greene is without a doubt an ace. I have felt that all winter. Nothing has changed. I flipped on Ashcraft in ST with the improved slider. I probably over rate him as a #1. Probably a number 2. Lodolo doesn’t have Ashcraft’s ability to enduce ground outs or Greene’s overpowering stuff. Being a number 3 SP isn’t bad. I just don’t feel he is an equal to Greene or Ashcraft.

  20. Votto4life

    Pirates have extended Bryan Reynolds. Good for them.

    • Jim Walker

      +1000 Success breeds success. If only the Reds ownership could grasp this.

      • greenmtred

        They did just extend Greene, Jim. It was so shocking that many of us may have forgotten.

      • JayTheRed

        According to MLB Trade rumors they are working on a deal with Lodolo too.

  21. Kevin H

    Amazing how some are saying Ramos should play, yet got upset when the “old guys” were playing.

    We don’t yet know if McLain will hit or play well at mlb level. Senzel is a great example. Barrero as well, although he is coming around. Season still early to measure who is doing what and I don’t know what those stats were, however do know baseball used to be a simple game with simple stats.

    • JayTheRed

      Agree if It is halfway through June and we are getting the same results from these players as we are now then yes, the team needs to make some changes.

      I do want to say I was very happy Vosler was let go. I felt like Ramos earned a spot on the team after spring training over Vosler..

  22. Jim Walker

    Maybe the Reds should move Myers to 1B, populate the OF with the F Troop, put Stephenson behind the plate (picking one and only 1 guy to spell him 2x a week), Steer at 3B, India at 2B, and see what happens. Ramos (switch hitter) is DH. Versus LH pitching, swing Barrero out to CF (Fraley sits) to get Newman playing time. Senzel is the 4th OF and utility IF except at SS.

    This would be their baseline and set the bar for what the upcomers (from mid to late June onward) have to better.

    • Jim Walker

      Did I miss a couple of guys?? Forgot to do my body count till after hit submit. One is the 3rd catcher I meant to drop but who is #13? Ah, think I missed specifically naming Barrero as the starting SS.

  23. CI3J

    Assuming McClain is called up soon, I think this would be a pretty decent lineup:

    3B India
    CF Friedl
    DH Steer
    C Stephenson
    RF Fraley
    LF Ramos
    2B McClain
    SS Barrero
    1B Myers

    Not many easy outs in that lineup, and once CES is ready, trade Myers for whatever you can get and stick CES at 1B, then re-shuffle the lineup accordingly.

    Ramos is a placeholder until the Reds can either sign/trade for/develop their own outfielder to replace him. EDLC I think would be good in the role if he could be convinced to move off SS.

    • Melvin

      I like a lot of what you’re saying. CES can have Myers spot. DLC can have Fraley’s spot. When Votto comes back he can have the spot of Ramos. Fraley, Myers and Ramos can make our bench better. Players who are gone include Senzel, Newman, and Maile. It probably won’t work out like this at least this year but a good lineup to me would be something like the following.

      India 3B
      Friedl LF
      De La Cruz CF
      Stephenson C
      Strand 1B
      Votto DH
      Steer RF
      McLain 2B
      Barrero SS

  24. Rednat

    i think the question is can the reds win with these type of players? all these guys listed are high floor low ceiling type players. or what i call “3 and D” type players. they have some good intangibles. good speed, defense, club house present, leadership blah, blah, blah. one problem though, they cannot hit with much authority at all. hence 3sb/3 hr is about you can expect to get from them.

    i suppose you could win this way but the pitching would have to be totally dominant and the defense and base running would have to improve. I guess this is our only shot because as Doug says above ownership is not will to pay for the top tier hitters in the league.

  25. MBS

    I probably went about this all wrong, I was using the premise of the article that McLain was to be called up. If I were GM and Manager this is what I’d do.

    McLain, CES, EDLC June – Aug ETA based off of production in AAA, and Starting spots being available to them.

    I’d DFA Maile or trade, and bring up Hopkins.
    MLB rotation, Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Weaver, Cessa
    AAA rotation, Anderson, Abbott, Stoudt, Williamson, Herget, Lively

    Abbott’s ETA unknown, needs to show he can handle AAA, It could be 5 to 8 starts, or the rest of the season.

    I don’t want to get hung up on player positioning as there are many differing opinions on the matter, the core of what I would want to convey is the players who should be playing everyday.

    India, Stephenson, Steer, Friedl, Fraley, Barrero, are the only ones on the current roster who deserve/need to play everyday. Once McLain, EDLC, and CES join them they will also need everyday roles. If my math is correct that’s 9 everyday guys.

    Newman, Myers, Senzel, Ramos, Fairchild, Hopkins, Reynolds or more, need to be role players.

    If Votto gets healthy and makes a farewell tour, I get that, he’s earned that, but not at the expense of us making a playoff run. The good news, bad news is we are so unlikely to be making that run that Votto’s farewell tour shouldn’t be an issue.

  26. LDS

    The lineup is out with Senzel, Maile and Newman starting. Barrero and Fraley to the bench against a RH’er. Bell can’t help himself. He likes losing. It’s almost an obsession.

    • Kevin H

      Perez is a left handed pitcher and Barrero and Fraley are batting under .100 against lefties this season. Newman has best batting average against Left handed pitching this season. I feel Senzel needs a few days off and maybe readjust or whatever. AS right now nothing is working. As some said last night he looks lost at the plate.

      Can’t explain why Friedl isn’t playing. LOL

      • JayTheRed

        It’s his regular day off….. ROFL.. Oh David Bell

    • Pete

      I truly believe it’s a culture issue. The organization needs a good flushing from the top to the bottom. Willing to stick it out with Nick Krall because he has shown some promise with his trades for young talent. But I highly doubt this organization can develop these youngsters. It’s really pathetic and laughable at the same time.

    • LDS

      @KevinH, the lineup I see posted on ESPN has Clevinger starting, who is a RH’er. Regardless, I’d start Barrero every game for the rest of the season. If he’s still isn’t hitting, then look at alternatives. And while Barrero is only hitting .188 against LH’ers thus far this season, that’s far, far better than Senzel who is hitting .139 overall, .172 against RH’ers, and ZERO against LH’ers. Maile is hitting .177. The lineup choices are inexplicable and sitting Barrero makes no sense, if you want to win.

  27. GreatRedLegsFan

    Looks like they’re playing Senzel everyday expecting an amazing recovery. The longer they prolong the inevitable, the worse for the team.

  28. Jon

    With the Reynolds extension done, the Reds need to sit down with India and try to lock him up long term. Boras is his agent, so it won’t be easy. However, money talks and the Reds’ payroll is empty after this year with the exception of Greene.

  29. Jim Walker

    Not sure who may or may not be referring to my scheme above. However, here is some of my underlying reasoning.

    7 of my 8 starters are under team control for at least 3 years beyond 2023 at the Reds discretion. The idea is they play together every day beside each other, health and performance allowing. The crazy quilt sorting and position switching ends. This group becomes the baseline rising prospects must fit into and exceed to replace an existing MLB player. Hopefully, a winning culture is built and takes hold in this process.

    There will be no more overnight on the job position training at MLB. The guys coming through the ranks are of ages that they can remain in the minors until they are up to speed at the position(s) they are prepared for and projected to play in at MLB. When they are brought up they will play at the position(s) they have been prepared to play at in MiLB with a minimum of position swapping day to day.

    Hopefully a sustainable organization arises and flourishes if this sort of plan is followed.

  30. Mark A Verticchio

    Friedl and Barrero not in tonight’s is beyond belief, Bell is killing this team. Friedl is the hottest hitter on the team right now and Bell doesn’t play him. I feel so bad for Reds’s fans, me included, who actually care about winning. I also don’t believe Maile should be on the team, if they must have a third catcher bring up Robinson. I know I could do a better job than Bell and probably Krall.

    • LDS

      Come on Mark, Friedl only won the game for them last night. You know Bell punishes success. That’s why the prospects need to stay down on the farm until Bell is gone – if that ever happens in this pathetic organization.

      • Kevin H

        I mean that sounds silly LSD “He punishes Success”

        On flip side it does seem like the hero of a game sits next game lol

      • Mark A Verticchio

        LDS you are right about the prospects, they won’t be given a chance with Bell, but guys like Newman, Maile, Myers and Senzel just love him. Let’s be honest if you are Friedl and any kind of competitor at all there is no way you could like playing for Bell, what a joke this team is. I only wish after over 50 years I didn’t care.

      • Kevin H

        Everyone has a opinion, doesn’t make it a fact.

      • greenmtred

        Recency bias? It stands out when it happens and goes unnoticed (and uncommented upon) when it doesn’t?

      • TR

        Pitiful. How to kill the winning spirit. Does this manager really want to win or does he just want to make substitutions?

    • greenmtred

      LDS has first dibs on that job, Mark, but maybe he’d let you be the pitching coach? I’d be entirely delighted if you guys got the jobs: it would make following baseball fun. Friedl, by the way, has the third most at-bats on the team.

      • LDS

        @greenmtred, you can go through the box scores just from this season to see examples. I’ll yield the job to Mark but I can tell you that any decent corporate manager could do a better job than Bell. I’ve fired better managers than Bell more than once.

      • Mark A Verticchio

        Guys I understand that at times you might give a player a day off, bit why give Friedl an off day the game after he drives in a game winner. I asked my son what he thought and his response was idiot and I don’t think he was referring to me.

    • Old Big Ed

      MLB Gameday has Barrero as DH.

      Friedl ought to start, but Bell (who as LDS says “likes losing”) wants to have plenty of LHs to face the inevitable RH reliever. That in turn, sets the Reds up for having Fraley face a tough LH reliever when the game is on the line.

      Bell will do the same thing about 14 more times, and it may then dawn on him that it is not working.

  31. Mark A Verticchio

    Kevin H: Does that mean that you think Senzel, Newman and Maile should all be in tonight’s line up while Friedl sits. For the Red’s sake I Hope they all play well.

    • Kevin H

      No I do not lol.

      In all seriousness it’s frustrating all the way around. I like most wish a set 8 with a dh would be a steady thing .

  32. CI3J

    Bell the Tinkerer at it again, can’t just leave well enough alone and let the players ride the wave of momentum they built up last night.

    Barrero, ok, fine, whatever, let Newman steal some more of his ABs for no good reason. We all knew Bell was going to do that anyway the second they signed Newman.

    But what possible excuse can there be for Friedl not starting, unless he’s injured?

    • JayTheRed

      You know one thing I was just thinking about was Bell is obsessed with left right matchups. How are these guys who are major league players supposed to get any better if they never get the opportunity. The Lineup juggle and the quick hook-on starting pitching and pinch running for the better hitters on the team… I just don’t know how anyone can support Bell at this point.

  33. Kevin H

    I joke and stuff, however I too wish a 8 man set lineup with a DH whomever I suppose would happen. The tinkering does get annoying.

    • Jim Walker

      And I’d bet $$$ against donuts it plays a factor in the defensive ineptitude. Players learn each other’s range and skills at neighboring positions to the point reaction becomes instinct. When players are taking time to think about balls in the air or on the ground is when they lose their edge and make the mistakes we think are stupid or wonder how a professional messed that one up.

  34. Mark A Verticchio

    My 8 man set line up right now : 1st base Myers, 2nd base India, SS Barrero, 3rd base Steer, LF Fraley, CF Friedl, RF Ramos, Catcher Stephenson and move Fairchild in and out with a little bit, and I mean little bit of Newman and Senzel. If Mclain comes up some minor changes should be made but he would start.

  35. DHud

    Best case ontario

    – Meyers and Newman are traded for literally anything (low-A lottery ticket or ML ready reliever?)
    – Maile is DFA’d
    – roster spots go to EDLC, McClain and CES
    – EDLC plays 4/1 or 3/2 at SS/OF
    – McClain plays 4-5 days a week at literally any position
    – CES plays 2/2/1 at 1B/DH/3B