We are just about six weeks into the season now, and we are approaching the time to do some things. There are certain decisions that, at this point, ought to be fairly easy to make. And yes, sure, some guys will have to come off the 40-man roster to make it happen. Oh well. That’s how it goes. Go look at the current 40-man roster and tell me you can’t find guys to let go.

Andrew Abbott, your time has arrived

As I type this, Abbott has completed his third start for Louisville. He struck out nine and walked one in five innings. For the season, he has now pitched a total of 30.2 innings. He has walked nine batters while striking out 60. He did give up a couple of homers Sunday, but even with that, it’s clear that he’s one of the four best options in the organization right now. The Cincinnati Reds skipped Luis Cessa this week, and will need a fifth starter on this weekend. Let’s make it happen and let Cessa be the capable reliever he should be.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Matt McLain, your time has also arrived

After Sunday’s game, Encarnacion-Strand was hitting .404/.433/.807 (yes, that last one is his slugging percentage). McLain was hitting .333/.448/.667. Between the two of them, they have 16 home runs. Then entire Reds major league team had 23 at the start of Sunday’s game before hitting four solo shots in an embarrassing loss to the White Sox. There is no way to keep them down at this point. They need to come up now.

Elly De La Cruz, your time has almost arrived

De La Cruz is a tick behind the other two, for now, having gotten off to a very rough start in Louisville. He has been coming on in a big way lately, though, with an OPS of 1.053 in his last 50 plate appearances. He isn’t showing quite as much plate discipline as you’d like to see, but even so, it’s hard to avoid the impression that he’s going to force the issues very, very soon.

Joey Votto will eventually be here, too

Listen, think what you want about Votto. But let us all acknowledge the fact that he has never shown himself to be someone just trying to draw a paycheck or not dedicated to performing at a high level. If he says he plans to come back this season and that he expects to play well, I’ll take him at his word. I have said before, but it is absolutely worth repeating that one of the most impressive things he’s done in his career is hit as well has he did last year (his 92 wRC+ was only 8% worse than league average) with one functional arm. He’s a hall of famer and the best hitter in franchise history. He’s gonna get playing time when he’s ready, as he should.

How to find space for everyone

This weekend, I was playing around with all the positions everyone can play and what the ideal roster makeup should be and so forth. And let me tell you, it’s not easy. In fact, we are approaching the point at which someone has to be the odd man out in a big way. And I mean someone we have reason to feel hopeful about. Once McLain, Encarnacion-Strand, De La Cruz, and Votto are on the roster, Wil Myers is gone. Kevin Newman is gone. Henry Ramos is gone. Luke Maile is gone. There simply is not room. Then we get to list of the following players and the positions they can play. Of course, it’s implied everyone can DH.

  • Tyler Stepehenson (C, 1B)
  • Curt Casali (C)
  • Joey Votto  (1B)
  • Christian Encarnacion-Strand  (1B, 3B)
  • Spencer Steer (3B, 1B)
  • Jonathan India  (2B)
  • Jose Barrero (SS, CF)
  • Matt McLain  (SS, 2B)
  • Elly De La Cruz  (3B, SS)
  • Nick Senzel  (3B, 2B, CF)
  • Jake Fraley (OF)
  • TJ Friedl (OF)
  • Stuart Fairchild (OF)

That’s 14 players. One too many. Now, here comes the part some might want to argue with. And that’s, who is the odd man out. Maybe it’s Senzel, maybe it’s Barrero, or Fairchild. I had to pick with someone and I went with Steer. It doesn’t really matter. The point is simply that you have to try to find enough playing time for everyone. I made the assumption that all the front line players need to be in 90% of the games. I didn’t get there perfectly, but I got pretty close. The number in parenthesis is how often, percentage-wise, I would have each player at that spot.

  • DH – Votto (30), Encarnacion-Strand (50), Stephenson (10), India (10)
  • C – Stephenson (50), Casali (50)
  • 1B – Votto (60), Encarnacion-Strand (20), Stephenson (20)
  • 2B – India (80), McLain (20)
  • SS – De La Cruz (30), McLain (50), Barrero (20)
  • 3B – Encarnacion-Strand (10), De La Cruz (60), Senzel (30)
  • CF – Barrero (50), Senzel (50)
  • LF/RF – Fraley, Friedl, Fairchild (mix as desired)

Now, this presumes no one is learning a position on the fly. McLain had time in the outfield in college and if he could slide out there (or if India could), it would make this much easier and probably allow Steer back into the mix. But the point is that it can be done. There are a lot of players who need MLB opportunities so the Reds can begin to see what they really have. Very few guys on the current team have established themselves in an “I play where I want” fashion.

There are decisions to make for the Reds, and they need to make them now. But unless they’re going to start making trades, they are going to have to be very creative to get the necessary playing time for everyone. Still, a roster of position players like the one I’ve suggested would be pretty impossible not to be excited about.

130 Responses

  1. Mike

    It is time for a new manager. Hire Joe Madden.
    He did wonders with a young Cubs team. Bell is a nice man but a mediocre manager..

    • wkuchad

      Doug, any chance you can add a new feature to RLN that can filter out all posts with the word “Bell”? That would be great.

      • Mike

        Why are so many fans unable to admit Bell needs to go. He costs this team 10 percent of our games over a 162 game season. Sixteen more wins and you make the playoffs. 500 ball gets you in the playoffs. Yesterday once again he allows a pitcher to give up 8 runs in 1.2 innings. This is insanity. Having him doing the same things over and over expecting different results is insanity. He cannot manage a pitching staff. How many years does this go on. I like the player call-ups but a new manager also has to happen.

      • Frostgiant80

        Hold on… I thought Bell was pulling pitchers too early?

      • LDS

        @Wkuchad, any chance you’re related to David Bell? Certainly, you’re one of his biggest supporters regardless of what he does.

      • Votto4life

        Why is it so hard to grasp, that a baseball forum is a place where people express their opinions on baseball?

      • wkuchad

        Sure I support the guy, as I also do all Reds players. I disagree with Bell plenty. Though I lot less than others. 🙂

      • TR

        I so much appreciate the great computer sight of RLN that Doug keeps in top shape. Many electronic sights today, other than sports, have eliminated comments for various reasons. Commenting on RLN about my favorite team reminds me of another era at Crosley Field where fans sitting around you would often carry on conversation about the ups and downs of the Reds. RLN gives us baseball fanatics a chance to express our opinion, nothing more.

      • Melvin

        Sounds like you’re advocating for David Bell to not be manager anymore. Haha 🙂

      • TR

        Has there ever been a manager of the Reds or any other team that some fans have not cared for? Not that I know of.

      • Redsvol

        Remember the abuse Dusty Baker used to take on here? Turns out he just needed a few, young good players and an organization to support him. Oh wait, he doesn’t play young players.

    • SlippinJimmy

      Or even JOHN Madden at this point. Things may be getting out of hand fast if the 3 “top” starting pitchers fall into a downward spiral.

      The right manager could make a massive impact on this team.

      • Mike

        You are a smart man. A blind man can see that except for WKU.

      • wkuchad

        Mike, I’m not pro-Bell. Though I certainly root for the guy.

        I just wish every single article on this site didn’t constantly have comments that say FIRE BELL. There’s actually other things to discuss.

      • Deano

        I have to agree. He is a good manager.

    • greenmtred

      I like Madden. But he–like Parky Anderson–has had seven losing seasons, including one with over 100 losses. If you believe, as you appear to, that a manager makes a big difference to a team’s won-lost record, you have to question any candidate whose teams have had losing seasons. Eventually Bell will be replaced and some commenters here will quickly find reasons to excoriate the new guy, just as they have every manager for years.

      • VaRedsFan

        Bell would have lost 120 with that Sparky 100 loss team.

      • Kevin H

        I question Bell’s in game management and his playing in my opinion the analytical game. To me baseball is baseball and go with who is hot.

        Also at times his bullpen management.

        In saying that yes people would be all over the new manager too.

        Bell doesn’t pitch or field or hit. That is the truth, it’s not being a bell fan

    • John Lucia

      I agree 100%. These young kids need to play. Start making decisions NOW. You perform, you play. You don’t perform, you won’t play. Just remember,. In life, you don’t always have a chance to make a 1st IMPRESSION ! Those 4 guys who were mentioned up top smashing the ball in AAA need to be up here N O. W ! ! !

    • Mjc

      It’s a shame. Doug has written a great article, and all i see is Bell, Bell and more Bell. I agree with Wkuchad .

      • Melvin

        Honestly I think that’s what Bell likes though good or bad…Bell, Bell and more Bell. 🙂

      • wkuchad

        Lol Melvin! If I knew how, I’d post a link to “carol of the bells” by the mormon tabernacle choir.

    • Chuck in Virginia

      With this plan of playing time and positions you proposed, Jason, I think you have the makings of a successful manager for the Reds. Finally someone who thinks things through logically.

  2. Trevis

    Why bump Steer? Krall should be trying to unload Myers now and not wait until July. Save some money now and get Strand up to knock some round trippers. What’s the difference in waiting another month and a half to get an 18 year old shortstop that is hitting .233 versus getting an outfielder hitting .210 now with 3 bombs now?

  3. NYRedsfan1

    Am I missing something or are there only 13 on your list above? You subtracted 4 and added 4. Is there someone missing from the list you have? You said you left off Steer but he is on the list of 13. I do like that list though. Not complaining just wondering if someone is missing from it.

  4. VaRedsFan

    Great thought Jason on how things could work. I’m all for it if it includes the jettison of Newman, Maile, and Meyers. They are deadweight, and not a part of the future. The ownership might not let this happen since the money owed isn’t nothing. Since it’s not my money, go ahead and pull the trigger.

    My only deviation would be for Barrero to go to AAA instead of Steer. I know it messes up the playing position allocation, but to keep Barrero over Steer is a mini-crime. Let Jose achieve Mclain-type numbers at AAA (maybe in CF) before giving him another shot.

    • William

      I would not fire Bell. I probably would not extend him, either. I would let him go riding off gracefully into the sunset with respect. However, I have a bias. I like the Bell family. I like Bell. He is a nice guy, plus his baseball knowledge is probably better than most people on this site. Hey, give credit where I think it is due.

  5. B Roll

    I have played around with the 2023 Reds on the Out of this Park 24 simulator. In order to get McClain, De La Crus, and CES up, I hade to trade get rid of Weaver, Myers, Newman, Barrero, and……I traded India.

    The Reds really gummed up the works this off-season. Too many 1st base types, too much blocking impending players. My guess is Bob Bob wanted to be competitive, or look like they were trying, when this year was needed to really evaluate these young guys.

  6. Luke J

    I feel like you are overestimating the likelihood of a Votto return. I too take him at his word. But I have clearly gotten a different impression from his words than you do. He seems to not want to return if he can’t return at a high level. He also shut down his rehab stint because he knew he wouldn’t be ready in time. So he is just working out with the team right now, trying to get back. Once he feels he’s capable, he’ll begin another rehab stint to get in game shape. There is no indication that such a rehab stint is anywhere close to the horizon. As such, I would not be including him in any plans for this season until there is at least some indication a rehab stint is coming soon. So of course he expects to come back and he expects to come back at a high level. But expectations are not reality. He’s also indicated he is willing to accept reality if his expectations don’t come to fruition.

    • LDS

      I keep hoping Votto throws in the towel. Expecting the Votto of old is just too much at 40 and coming off major surgery. Look at Stephenson, far younger and less serious surgery.

      • wkuchad

        If his injury permits, I’d love to see Votto back at full strength, able to perform, for at least part of this year. He’s been a special player for the Reds.

        If that’s not possible, bring him back for the last home series of the season (if he’s able). Let him get the cheers and farewell he deserves.

    • Dewey Roberts

      I love Votto but either Pete Rose or Frank Robinson are the best Reds hitters in history.

      • greenmtred

        Take a look at Big Klu’s numbers. I think it’s hard–and unnecessary–to chose. They were all great hitters and had somewhat different skill sets and didn’t all play in the same era.

      • Dustin Sculatti

        and Eric Davis. I am sure I have some Bias, but he was a monster and a freak of nature. I wish he was just a healthier player.

  7. old-school

    Good synopsis of things. I do believe the first thing the Reds need to do is figure out their long term plan for Jon India.

    He is everything you want in a draft pick.
    ROY winner, competitor, and great lead off hitter who creates runs for his team. He’s having a stellar bounce-back year and is a fan favorite.

    That said, India hits arbitration next year and his MLB resume is top notch. Do they extend him and buy out his first few years of FA? Do they trade him in a Brewers/Rays type deal where Reds get a proven MLB player at an area of weakness and backfill 2b from an area of strength. The Devil is in the details obviously, but if they traded India, they cant miss on that trade. I would extend him and make him the first position player extended.

    I suspect the Reds will slow-play all of this as they are committed to 3 catchers, committed $7 million to Myers, and committed $ 4-5 million on Newman and Senzel and they wont abandon that in early May. If they do want to trade any of these players at the deadline, they need to be showcased and healthy to have any suitors and that means more of the same in May and June.

    • Mario

      The word is India doesn’t want a contract extension. Being possibly position-less with another poor defensive showing at 2B, I wouldn’t bother. I cannot imagine the team would even ask him to move to another position in season. If his defensive grades get better, then he can stay at 2B. If not, he has to be willing to move (LF?) or become trade bait. The team can definitely afford his arbitration dollars. Being a fan, favorite, I hope they keep him unless he forces his way off the team. We need all the fans we can get. It’s one of the reasons I hated the Todd Frazier trade. He wins the home run derby then he’s traded in the off-season (for Jose Pereza). I can’t even remember how to spell his name and iPhone can’t either.

      I believe you are correct on Myers. Senzel and Newman salaries aren’t so big they can’t be eaten (and replaced by rookies). We can only speculate if ownership is willing to eat them. Newman should be gone now. Senzel is TBD over the next month.

      • Mario

        Let me clarify what I’ve heard about India. The link was on Twitter to Hal McCoy’s Q&A. Someone asked a question and Hal responded that he has heard from a friend of a friend of a friend of India’s – that India can’t wait to get to free agency. Now take that for what it’s worth. Do you think the Reds are going to announce that India is not interested in a contract extension? Nope.

        Do you think India is going to announce that he is not interested in a contract extension? Nope.

        But the silence is deafening We’ll see if it gets done.

      • Votto4life

        If you what you state about India is true, and my suspicion is it is, then the Reds should not hesitate to trade him this summer. He is having a great season, he is healthy and he still has three and a half years of team control. He would bring back a nice player.

        Having said that, I imagine India shares the same frustration we all do with ownership. If the team becomes more competitive India may be willing to stay. It’s a tough call.

      • Mario

        Votto4life, you are absolutely right. Rather than force him to change positions, get as much for him as possible. India is probably very frustrated with the rebuild. The team didn’t make the playoffs in 2021 but they had a winning record and were very fun to watch. To see it all torn down and turning it into a 100 loss season had to upset the players (those who stayed and those who left) and coaches. I can see the team’s perspective that they weren’t good enough to compete for a championship and deciding to rebuild again but we don’t have to like it and we like it even less with the crappy comments last season from Krall & Phil.

      • MK

        The thing about Hal McCoy’s reporting is that Hal has always liked to be part of the story rather than just reporting it. I would take this reporting with a grain of salt. It’s Hal being Hal.

      • greenmtred

        I like your take on it, Votto. I would certainly try to extend him; he’s playing well, seems to be a team leader, and might be a good mentor for the prospects when they arrive. As you say, if the Reds start looking really competitive, it might be an easier sell.

    • Indy Red Man

      Yep. They’re always committed to being MLBs halfway house for guys at the end of the line like Mike Minor and not so committed to putting the best team on the field.
      CES, McClain and Abbott should be easy adds for this week then do Barrero a solid and move him somewhere so he can play every day. He’s got no place in Cincy. If he’s better then these other SS/OF then that’s a whole different can of worms.

    • wkuchad

      What I would do with India is either (1) move him now to LF and yes try to sign him to an extension or (2) trade him at the most opportune time for an equally good young outfielder or starting pitcher.

      I would not trade him for prospects.

      We are about to have too many infielders and have to make decisions soon.

  8. Tennessee

    Since David Bell is determined to bury JB, I think they should trade him to the Dodgers. Will be interested to watch him improve when the Dodgers manage him correctly. None of this if you go 0 for 4 you’re going to sit. Does wonders for confidence. Or, we are going to play a journeyman utility player above you, pinch hit for you, etc.

  9. Jimbo44CN

    What about Chuckie Robinson? He is tearing it up in Triple A and am sure could take over for Maile on the mound( ha ha) and is certainly a better option behind the plate, He deserves a shot along with McClain and CES.

    • wkuchad

      I agree with Jason (and most everyone here) about dropping down to one backup catcher.

      If we do that, we need insurance in the minors if one of them gets hurt, so we don’t have a repeat of last year. That’s why I keep Chuckie in the minors this year, as that insurance. See my plan below. I would move Stephenson to fulltime catcher only,

      If Chuckie continues this success all year, in my mind he’s made the team next year as our primary (and only) backup catcher.

  10. MBS

    I base my playing time off of 9 days because you can break down 162 by 18, 9 day increments.

    DH Steer 6/9 India 2/9 Ramos 1/9
    C Stephenson 5/9 Casali 4/9
    1B CES 7/9 Stephenson 2/9
    2B India 5/9 Senzel 3/9 Steer 1/9
    3B McLain 5/9 Senzel 4/9
    SS Barrero 7/9 McLain 2/9
    RF Hopkins 5/9 Ramos 4/9
    CF Friedl 7/9 Hopkins 2/9
    LF Fraley 7/9 Ramos 2/9

    CES added Maile DFA
    McLain added Karcher DFA
    Hopkins added Fairchild Optioned

    This gives Barrero a bit more time to lockdown SS, but not much if EDLC continues to mash in AAA. Obviously Abbott would be called up to take the start on the 14th.

    • MBS

      Forgot Myers was back, plug him into the Ramos role.

      That’s playing 11 guys 7 of 9 games, or 77.7% of the time: Steer / Stephenson /
      CES / India / McLain / Barrero / Hopkins / Friedl / Fraley / Myers / Senzel

      Casali playing only 4 of 9, and the 13 getting no starts, just acting as a PH/PR/DR.

  11. wkuchad

    Jason, I’ve loved most of your idea, but not this one.

    1. This spreads playing time way too thin IMO.

    2. Why send Steer down? He’s holding his own defensively at 1B and 3B and hitting pretty decent. He’s been a little streaky offensively, but it’s only his 2nd year in the majors. I don’t think it’s time to bench him or send him down. I just feel there’s way too much potential there.

    3. What I like about your plan – jettison the guys that aren’t part of the future. Keep one for purely a bench/sub role, but that’s it.

    4. What I would do different – it’s time for the Reds as an organization make some tough choices. We are about to have way too many players for the four infield positions. The Reds need to earmark one or two of these to move to outfield fulltime. Personally, I go with India. With his drive and hustle, I don’t think moving to LF will impact his bat. He’s not amazing defensively at 2B. This would allow you to bring up McLain now as your fulltime 2B, with Senzel as the main backup.

    McLain – main 2B, but can backup SS

    Barrero – main SS (but can backup CF), until EDLC forces a decision down the road

    Senzel – main 3B while he’s performing, but can backup 2B

    Encarnacion-Strand and Steer are the main DH and 1B, but can backup 3B

    Stephenson – he’s your primary catcher only going forward (no more DH or 1B); we have one backup catcher that plays only when he needs an off day

    This get all our main prospects / younger guys plenty of at-bats and playing time in the field until Votto or EDLC enters the picture.

    • Jim Walker

      RE: #2 (Steer). IMO Steer is a higher floor/ but lower ceiling guy among the possibilities at the positions he can play, i.e. corner IF, DH, (maybe) corner OF; 2B in a pinch; SS only short term emergency.

      Is Steer going to hold off CES at 1B or Marte at 3B past the end of next year (2024). I’d doubt it. He is short on experience in the OF and doesn’t bring the defense and versatility (to play CF as needed) that usually is found in 4th or 5th OF guys who are not big power bats. And a year or two behind Marte, the Reds have Arroyo and Collier busting through the system who figure to fill or push other people to these spots.

      I think Steer and Fairchild are of the same cloth in the sense they both might end up having very solid MLB careers but were a season (or 2) too late for it to be with the Reds. The thing for the Reds to do is try and run up both of their value and make them meaningful trade pieces.

      • wkuchad

        I agree about the meaning trade pieces part (see my post above about India).

        Soon, the Reds must identify some of these infielders that can move permanently to the outfield OR trade for a youngish, established outfielder or starting pitcher.

    • VaRedsFan

      Good post WKU. You got my vote. Agree on Steer staying.

  12. Votto4life

    Vida Blue died yesterday. I am still mad at Bowie Kuhn for nixing the trade that would have made him a Red in 1978. Blue probably would have saved Sparky’s job that year. RIP Vida.

    • Jim Walker

      Blue was several weeks younger than me. Old friend Dusty B is a few weeks older.

    • LDS

      @V4L, you and me both. Seaver/Blue would have been a fantastic pairing. Sadly, I think baseball could use another Kuhn these days. The commissioners since haven’t really been good for the game, especially since the Selig era began.

      • Votto4life

        LDS as I do so often, I agree with you. Baseball needs a truly independent commissioner. I don’t think the owners will ever let that happen, unless there is a serious crisis as in 1920.

    • Oldtimer

      Sparky was fired for refusing to fire several of his coaches, not for the Reds W-L record in 1978. Reds were 92-69, only a couple games out of 1st in NL West.

      • Votto4life

        Oldtimer you are correct, I just think it would have been easier for Sparky to win that fight had the Reds made the post-season in 1978, especially had they won another championship.

      • Dewey Roberts

        Sparky had the best record in Reds history. I hated it when he was fired.

      • Melvin

        Sparky averaged 96 wins (season) in his 9 years with the Reds. I don’t care what kind of roster you have you don’t win like that without being a good manager especially with the Dodgers in the same division.

      • greenmtred

        Melvin: Sparky was a good manager. But I don’t care how good a manager is: he can’t win without good players.

  13. Ghm08

    Trade young talent for young talent. Perhaps a good 2/3 pitcher with 4 or 5 years of control for some combination of Steer, Barrero, Senzel, Fraley. That would free up room for McClain, CES and eventually ELDC. With Abbot that would give a solid 1-5 Rotation, Bullpen is good so far. Bring up Hopkins and Robinson too. Might as well go for it, and if come up short these guys will be ready for next year.

  14. MFG

    What about Elly in the outfield? He is a big man and a great athlete!

    • Mario

      They should have told all of these guys to get OF reps in ST and be prepared to play there twice a week. Why they didn’t is a mystery.

      • VaRedsFan

        100% agree. Why are they kicking the can down the road. It HAS to happen. 1 or 2 guys need to move. By not being proactive, they are lengthening the learning curve when it comes time to promote these guys.

        What they will end up with is on the job learning and part-time playing. While I think established guys can handle moves, i don’t like it for rookies.

        I mean Billy Hamilton went from a SS to one of the best CF’ers in the game.

    • john

      SS prospects are athletic and I think it could work, its just a big risk imo, we have history of it failing heavily…

      imo keep friedel as the Primary CF, Fairchild would be my RF, LF Fraley.
      SS/3B elly, SS/2B McLain, and Steer plays 3B/2B/1B (in other words 3B will Steer or Elly, SS will be Elly or McLain, 2B will be Mclain Or steer) 1B will be CES

      Key trade is going to be india, his defense is terrable, he he a good hitter with some speed, but mclain will be his cheaper and more contrallable replacement.

      India should net us 2-4 solid prospects with one being a headliner, maybe include senzel in the deal.

      For the next 2 months you just have to play senzel, myers to gain trade stock imo.

      I love india but he would need to convert to an OF, I rather have a good defensive team, Fairchild and Friedel provide speed and good defense, Fraley is fast and does the job.

      I hope we could get a guy like Perez or Miller to be our 4/5 pitcher for years to come.

      • Mike

        Why because our manager does not know what he is doing. He is the worst Manager in the National League.

  15. old-school

    The tool sets and offensive numbers are tantalizing for sure but has anyone watched CES,EDLC, and McLain this year defensively? It was clear in ST that CES needed some work at first base. McLain had his 6th error yesterday and while EDLC had the 99.2 mph throw from 3b, is he ready to be a third baseman or SS at GABP now?

    It seems McLain is the most major league ready of the 3 at all skills.
    Barrero had a couple misplays early at SS and everyone called for his ouster. What happens when EDLC boots a routine 6-4-3 DBP or CES is out of position on a relay throw or McLain airmails the first baseman on the ball in the hole at Dodger stadium. Are Reds fans going to be patient with the young guys? Is David Bell going to be patient with the young guys?

    • VaRedsFan

      If they hit let them play….errors be darned
      1996 Derek Jeter 22 errors, ARod 15 errors
      1997 – Jeter 18 errors – Arod 22 errors

      I haven’t seen anything special about Barrero’s defense yet. Kyle Farmer made several plays that Jose didn’t make. He’s weak on the backhand IMO. He does have a super arm though. Errors happen to everyone, so that doesn’t bother me. Make all of the routine plays, and the occasional super play and I’m happy.

      If EDLC or Mclain have the same defense, or a little less, but bat 50 points higher with power, then they get a shot to prove it over Barrero, who has not. He’s had last year and 6 weeks this year to take the reigns. If Jose didn’t have a stacked group of guys ready behind him, then I’d have no issue with running him out there 9 of 10 games.

      • old-school

        But, it has to be Barrero or McLain. Not Newman. If you like Barrero( count me in) Id still give him every day for May and another 100 at bats. If you tell me the Reds dont believe in Barrero and McLain is the guy and is ready…Im openminded and will root like heck for McLain. What I am not open-minded about is Newman getting 3-4 starts a week at SS and 300 at bats this year while Barrero sits and McLain plays in AAA. If thats the plan…I want Farmer back.

  16. Optimist

    Lots of interesting comments here, and a few questions.

    No one is indispensable, which means anyone is tradeable – so the question of India becomes when does he have maximum value. Likely sometime this season. I doubt it will happen, but if he wants it to happen it might.

    That said, I expect these timetables are too rushed. Abbott may come up soonest, since it is easiest for pitchers to come and go for spot appearances while keeping them on rotation schedules in both AAA and MLB. If it’s not Stoudt or Lively, then Abbott has earned the spot.

    As for the position players, I’d expect the Reds not to force anything, but let injuries and performance determine what happens. CES may be first in line if Joey’s return is delayed and Myers is injured again or traded. McLain will be next if there’s a MI injury or trade. EDLC later this summer after the deadline.

    As for the roster spot issue – the 3 catcher roles end, and Fairchild/Fraley is next to go – unless Friedl goes 0-40 or something, he’s here to stay. Steer takes the SuperU spot. Keep Senzel at 3b, send Barrero to AAA later if needed.

    Perhaps more interesting is what happens as pitchers start returning from the injured list – apparently Dunn is getting ready, and Santillan and Antone are still expected mid-season.

    Again – doubtful they make any of these moves this month, but they all need to be made before mid-August. That means the same discussion this time next year about Marte and Phillips, and hopefully Williamson and Petty among others.

  17. Scott C

    I agree Jason that these prospects have to come on up. I think the only thing that I disagree with is keeping Fairchild over Steer. Senzel and Barrero can both play CF, so you still have four outfielders. The only trouble with my plan is what you pointed out with playing time 3B is a crowded spot. I think McClain is going to have to shift to to the OF moving De La Cruz to SS on a regular basis.

  18. MK

    When it comes to the promotion of the prospects to the big leagues, Joe Votto should not be considered in any way, rather than taking up a roster spot. No matter if he ever plays again he won’t be here the next time the team is a winner. As far as him being the Reds greatest hitter of all time that might be the case if we are counting just the 21st Century. Let’s don’t forget the guy with the 10th most home runs in mlb history played for this team, the guy with more hits than anyone along with three batting championships. The Reds have a Hall of Fame catcher who won a batting championship and a .306 lifetime batting average. A Hall of Fame outfielder who was a 2 time Batting Champion.

    I think people will be disappointed as well when it comes to Joe’s Hall of Fane credentials. When compared to first basemen who are in and he will be in the shadow of Miguel Cabrera when the time comes. He will be in the same class as Don Mattingly who after 20 years has not yet been elected even with his Yankee exposure.

  19. Kap

    I would swap Fairchild out with TJ Hopkins as well. He’s deserves a look

  20. DHud

    Reds have redundancy at middle IF and 1B/DH. Can’t really move someone off 1B, they’ve probably already been moved there for a reason, so someone has to move outta the IF

    I think Senzel has shown he’s capable of locking down 3B and maybe better suited there, but gives you enough position flex that you can count on him as one of your rostered OFers

    I think Barrero will have to fill that mold as well if he wants to stay on the roster. I just don’t see him hitting enough to stay at the position with what the reds have coming through very very soon

    Friedl and Fraley are locks at this point IMO, but with Senzel moving primarily to 3B and Barrero becoming a backup SS/4th OF type, I think they’re one true OF short

    This off-season I move India to LF. Gives you that other OF and breaks IF logjam for McClain to slide to 2B

  21. Chris Holbert

    All of this is great fodder and speculation, but no one knows if any of these AAA guys will be quality MLB players. Let’s be honest the Reds, and other teams, are there own best boosters of their prospects. I agree some on the team now should go away, but what happens if the young guys come up, maybe too early, who knows, and really stink it up, what then? bring the next wave up from AA and see what happens. I am in agreement that the Reds wait entirely too long to bring up their top prospects. Forward thinking teams bring them up and do not bother with the leftover spring training un-signees, look at the Braves as an example. If they are going to rebuild, then rebuild, do not throw empty $$ at guys who the FO hopes, makes them look like they are trying to win. Most true fans are smart, they know a rebuild comes with losing, but he way they are doing it now, it seems they only partially believe in the rebuild.

  22. SultanofSwaff

    I agree with the roster construction after the promotions. So much so I wouldn’t say a peep if we lost 90 games with that team (that said, I think it would light a fuse instead). The problem is that once you release/trade those veterans there’s no going back. Not only do you eat the money, you seemingly don’t give yourself any wiggle room if the injury bug bites, and we know the front office is still stinging from last year’s disaster. That alone makes me think the callups will be maddeningly dragged out.

    Individually, you could argue Casali deserves the boot more than Maile if you go by OPS. But yes, the 3 catcher thing needs to go bye-bye if it turns out Stephenson is just a .750 OPS guy, not a .900 OPS beast. Newman and Law are filler…..I wouldn’t be hurt if Fairchild and Ramos were optioned. Myers at best is a trade deadline playoff contender pickup.

    Not trying to be that guy, but Senzel may not have turned the corner the way we collectively hoped. One white hot week was followed by a very cold week more in line with his April….and the better part of his career. I’m just saying he hasn’t solidified the 3b (or any) job in my mind and let’s not forget he’s optionable. Still a believer in Steer…..respectable .759 OPS and he’s been cold for weeks…..better than Senzel in fact.

    • Jim Walker

      Second your thought on Senzel. His defense has been a breath of fresh air; but. his offense is still questionable. His last 14 day OPS is .976; however, his last 7 day OPS is .598 with an OBP of .250, 0BB, and 3K. The next couple of weeks are probably very telling.

      • Mario

        Yes he is back to his struggling ways. The team needs his bat to be consistent. Too many hot and cold players on the team.

  23. Oldtimer

    I doubt we’ll see Votto much this year, if at all. The usual recovery from surgery like his at his age is up to 12 months. It remains to be seen if he plays again at all.

  24. redfanorbust

    I personally would rather see a trade or two for a good OF with power or a SP than constantly mess with a players position and playing time. I think the Reds will wait on a trade (if they make one) until after the guys get called up and everyone can see how well they do and establish their trade values. It’s one thing to have a good couple of weeks in the minors but quite another to be close to that good in the majors. Can’t remember a Reds team that had so many moving parts and things to consider where with the exception of TJF and TS all positions are up for grabs or players possibly changing positions.

  25. LarkinPhillips

    The people who are considering making Senzel the theoretical third baseman and sending Steer to AAA or bench as a long term plan should put on neck braces for this over reaction. He has had a couple good weeks. Considering his career injury history and his below average WAR, I wouldn’t build my team around him, much less send Steer to AAA or India to LF. I hope I am wrong and Senzel does stay healthy and continue what he is doing, but to plan for that is fools gold.

    • BK

      Yep, Senzel showed some renewed life at the plate. The big question is whether he can continue to perform. Senzel’s body of work to date is formidable, he must produce to earn playing time. The current advantage between Steer and Senzel belongs to Steer.

    • MK

      I like Senzel at third but not at the expense of Steer to AAA. Leave him a 1B.

  26. Indy Red Man

    I think RLN is selling Fairchild short. 143 ab’s as a Red with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 6 hrs, and 19 walks. Multiply by 4 for a full season and you have something. Personally I’d like to see him in a platoon capacity for the whole season and see what happens. Barrero backers would be deafening on here if here if he ever had a stretch like Fairchild had last year

    • Jim Walker

      Careful or somebody is going to call you a shill or alternate identity for me 😉

      Much of the time you were not with us here, I was saying similar things about Fairchild and posting stats in support of them…

      • LDS

        And some of us agreed. But I also think RLN is selling Barrero short, the Reds 2021 MiLB Player of the Year (before the injury/surgery). They both need to play everyday and see where they go. None of the guys down on the farm will necessarily hit any better. Success at Louisville doesn’t automatically translate to success in Cincinnati. Look at Aquino’s 2019 Louisville season.

      • David

        At this point in time, I would not mind seeing Jose Barrero go back to AAA ball for a while, and see if his hitting gets better under less challenging conditions. I am not willing to throw in the towel on the guy, because I do think he is pretty talented. Or David Bell has to start playing almost every day.
        In the meantime, if Barrero does go down, exchange his spot on the 26 man roster with Matt McClain, and see how he does. And …..play him. I am more amused than anything else over David Bell’s obsession with playing Newman. He was DH yesterday (?!). We don’t have anyone better to DH?
        And keep playing Spencer Steer. He will be fine. The Reds will be 3rd-5th in the NL Central this year. They are not making a run for the playoffs unless the starting rotation starts to look like the 1969 Mets.
        Pitching is the key; it’s ALWAYS the key. Bring up Stoudt, bring up Abbott, bring up Lively, bring up SOMEBODY to fill the #4 or #5 rotation spot. Weaver and Cessa were NOT the answer, but if one of them had gotten shellacked like Ashcraft did yesterday, there would be a call for HEADS TO ROLL!
        I frankly fear that if Abbott comes up and gets shelled (remember Cody Reed?), it will actually set him back in his development. Maybe call him up in July.
        I think McClain and CES are ready, but I would not bring them both up at the same time. I would bring up McClain first, and let him play a few weeks at SS, and then consider bringing up CES (he can DH or play 1st).
        Next on the list would be TJ Hopkins; he’s hitting pretty well. I would play EDLC in AAA until after the trade deadline (will the Reds move someone?), and then bring him up to play SS or 3rd. And if Jose Barrero goes down to AAA, what will be doing in 2 months?

    • Mario

      I like Stu but look at his advance stats. There’s a reason he had five home runs and only six RBI last season. He was terrible with runners in scoring position. Like I said, I like him I hope he stays on the team all season. But I wouldn’t cry if they DFA’d him and brought up McClain/CES. Same as Ramos & Senzel. Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made for the betterment of the team.

      • Jim Walker

        In 2022 Fairchild’s run expectancy (RE24) was 0.1. The league average is set to 0; so, he was right at league average at enhancing his team’s chances to score given the situations in which he batted. Now if you want to say a corner OF should be much better than average, OK.

        Other Reds OF in 2023? Friedl was -1.2; Senzel was -15.8; Fraley was 8.1.

        Important to note RE24 is a counting stat, not a rate stat, even though it is normalized against the league average. Thus, the numbers are not % above or below the league average.

        From Fangraphs
        RE24 is context-dependent and assigns more credit for hits with men on base than with the bases empty. With league average set to 0, hitters with positive RE24 are creating more runs than we would expect given the situations


      • Jim Walker

        And there is a fat finger above…..

        “Other Reds OF in 2023?” was meant to read Other Reds OF in 2022?


  27. Datdudejs

    If it were me, I’d do this. Starters and back ups for days off

    Corner outfield- Fraley, Steer, Senzel
    Center-Friedl, Senzel
    3b-India, CES, Senzel, Steer
    Ss-Barrero, McLain (Elly not up yet, give Barrero another 100 Ab’s and Elly the same in AAA then decide)
    2b-McLain, India, steer
    1b-CES, Steer, Votto
    DH-Votto (when healthy, otherwise Stephenson, CES)
    C- Stephenson, (1 of Maile, Casali, Chuckie pick whoever you want but you don’t need 3 catchers especially if Votto back)

    Senzel and steer basically super sub and learn corner outfield. Let Votto focus on just hitting, and same with Tyler. Let him just focus on what he knows instead of worrying about other stuff. I know India is already established at 2b but his natural position is 3b and Mclains is 2b. Just makes too much sense to me for them to switch. Let Barrero have some pt without Newman breathing down his neck, which also gives Elly some more time.

    Then in the off-season I’m spending every free dollar to sign Ohtani to replace Votto/corner outfield and add a veteran top of the rotation guy all in one. He just fits the teams needs so perfectly

    • PTBNL

      Ohtani is probably a 50+ million AYV player. We’d love that but Bob won’t let that happen.

      • Datdudejs

        That would still give them a lower payroll then 2021

      • Votto4life

        Ohtani wouldn’t sign here regardless.

        I do think the Reds need to drop some money or trade for a middle of a line up bat. They need someone who can drive in runs. Paul Goldschmidt comes to mind, but he is 35 and only signed through next season I think.

        The Reds will also need to sign an established starter, perhaps two. They have room in the budget to do that and still extend a couple of the younger players.

        The question is will they? If you would have asked me a couple of months, ago I would have said absolutely not. The Greene extension gives me a little hope however. But, I think the jury is really still out.

  28. Joe

    Players need AB’s. Why call up guys and give them part time work? I’d rather not call up McLain and CES if they are playing part time. I’ll wait until they can get regular ab’s

    There are ~128 games left for the Reds– and you want to call up these guys and give McLain ~70 games, CES 80 games, EDLC 90 games? Basically McLain is playing almost every other day, and CES is playing twice every 3 days.

    Pass. These guys need regular AB’s and EDLC in particular could use some more seasoning, especially when you look at his K rate. Not to mention calling him up now eliminates any chance the Reds can earn a draft pick down the road from PPI.

    I know everyone is excited about the talent in AAA, but lets not try to fit square pegs into round holes. There will be injuries– there will be guys the Reds decide have had a good enough look at will decide that their AB’s should go elsewhere.

    CES should get the 1st callup– you make sure he is getting enough ab’s in the majors, then you worry about everyone else. Patience. I’m more concerned about the long term development of the players, vs thinking short term and promoting them only to play every other day.

  29. MercerRed

    As I sit here and read all of these comments, it’s clear that most everyone has different thoughts about the route to take in order to build the Reds back into a playoff contender. WHAT A GREAT SOUNDING BOARD.
    I like Jason’s roster and playing time breakdown except for 1 player. I would remove Votto’s (don’t see him coming back very soon) name and pencil in Steer.
    I think this roster could push for the playoffs this year if the starting pitching improves.
    At the very least, the rest of the season would give Krall & Bell a chance to see who should makeup this team moving forward.

    • Mario

      Like the optimism and hope you still have it by the end of May. I think it could get rough here soon if they bomb vs the Mets. Marlins are playing better then they get the Cardinals and Yankees later in the month. They typically don’t play well at Colorado, etc etc. they badly need an influx of offensive talent and stubbornly refusing to call up the hot shot rookies.

  30. CFD3000

    Jason thanks for this thoughtful assessment. Is it possible there’s a better way to allocate the roster spots and/or the playing time? Of course! Barrero might turn out to be more productive long term if he spends some time destroying AAA pitching.
    And Jonathan India may end up as trade fuel to bring back a young starting pitcher or a solid reliever. And perhaps Matt McLain or EDLC will eventually need to learn to play corner outfield spots. But would this be a much better roster and allocation of playing time than we’ve been seeing recently? Absolutely! I’m in. Keep Steer until Joey Votto shows he’s ready to contribute but otherwise I’d swap this for the current roster and David Bell’s use thereof in a Cincinnati minute (or approximately 5 minutes in New York). Make it so. Go Reds!

  31. DataDumpster

    Myers is gearing toward the Mike Minor scenario (overpaid and underachieving but will play anyway). Newman is Bell’s crutch so I don’t see him going anywhere and represents insurance if Barrero is traded. Complacency will rule in the hope that The Bull can engineer some trades at the deadline but who on the block really has decent value? You can trade these guys, Ramos, and Senzel and still not fulfill any pressing need.
    Meanwhile, our Big 3 now have 7 starts each in the books and have collectively averaged a smidgen over 5 innings per start. That road leads to something like the late season collapse of last year. I would worry more about that than throwing more players in the already overcrowded infield mix.

    • Jim Walker

      Yep, after the Sox series the plan to cash in the off day today (Monday) to avoid using a 5th starter isn’t looking so sharp. Wonder what the over/ under is that Stoudt (et al) shows up for another spot start instead of Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcraft going on regular rest this next pass versus getting an extra day of rest.

  32. MBS

    This has been a very well trodden topic this early in the season. Many variations on the roster, but we’re mostly all not content with the status quo. Now we only need the people that can make these decisions to make some moves.

  33. Larry

    It’s easy to see that the Reds are overdue for better management!!! Going back and reading all those posts, it’s TIME!

  34. Daniel Kals

    The last time the Reds were sustainably competitive, 2010-2013, there wasn’t nearly as much mixing and matching among starting players. On a daily basis you could basically expect:

    1B: Votto
    2B: Phillips
    SS: Cozart
    3B: Rolen
    RF: Bruce
    CF: Stubbs
    LF: Ludwick, Gomes, Edmonds, etc.
    C: Mesoraco/Hanigan

    Plus an exceptional 1-5 pitching staff and closer (Chapman).

    In that vein, I’d personally like to see a more steady everyday lineup without players moving around constantly (which would definitely require a new manager). Something like this in 2024 and beyond:

    1B: Encarnacion-Strand
    2B: India
    SS: McLain
    3B: Marte
    LF: Senzel
    CF: Friedl
    RF: De La Cruz (throwing runners out at the plate with his 100 MPH rocket arm)
    C: Stephenson
    DL and backups: Steer, Fraley, maybe Barrero, Fairchild, and backup C

    That is a lineup you can win with.

    Maybe you decide Senzel is the better defensive 3B and move Marte to LF. Or maybe India is traded (I hope not) and you keep Senzel and Marte at 2B and 3B. I can see Steer being tried out in LF as well. Obviously others could work their way up this list (Arroyo, Dunn, etc.).

  35. BK

    Until the prospects are promoted, I would like to see Barrero play every day at SS. I think the Reds have been very careful with him thus far in an attempt to keep him from having his confidence drop. We’re at a point where he should be given more frequent starts. Barrero should continue to play SS, not CF. Friedl has earned daily playing time.

    Although his track record is a slow starter, Newman’s playing time should drop to nil. His primary value has been keeping the Reds from prematurely promoting a prospect. Some have suggested trading Newman–he has only modest trade value. He’s an obvious DFA candidate as soon as an infielder is promoted.

    Maile is the odd man out at Catcher. His catching ERA is a team-worst 6.63, and he’s only thrown out 18% of would-be base stealers. Lastly, he’s hitting about 30 points above his career OPS+, so regression is likely. While I understand why the Reds chose a three-catcher solution, Stephenson’s bat has not justified the decision. Moreover, Chuckie Robinson is waiting in the wings at Louisville. In short, he’s never more than a day away from the Reds if someone is injured. Like Newman, his trade value is negligible. He’s likely the most vulnerable position player on the roster. For now, catching duties should be split between Stephenson and Casali.

    I expect Abbott to be the next guy promoted. FWIW, none of Abbott, McLain, or CES made Baseball America’s updated Top 100 released earlier today. While their counting stats are truly impressive, scouts must still see areas needing improvement (or BA just removed players that were no longer qualified).

  36. Laura

    “Best hitter in Franchise history”? How in the name of Vada Pinson did you come up with that? I’m not a fan of Pete Rose, but he was a great player. Getting banned from Baseball did not erase his hitting records.
    As a Red – Rose had more hits, more runs, more batting titles, more triples, more doubles, more stolen bases, less strikeouts and a higher lifetime batting average.
    With him in the lineup, Reds won 4 of 5 Playoff Series and 2 of 4 World Series.
    With Votto in the line-up, Reds never won a Playoffs series and never even played in a World Series.
    Rose would change playing positions 5 times for the Reds.
    When the Reds were trying to find a place in the lineup for Yonder Alonzo, it was reported in the paper and on WLW that the Reds asked Votto to play left field and he declined. Enough said.

    • Votto4life

      Rose played alongside of Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey and the greatest catcher in baseball history, had Votto been surrounded by similar talent, he would have a couple of rings as well.

      Rose had a good career, but he was also a collector, which is easy to do, when you can write your own name on the line up card every night.

      As far as the BRM is concerned, I would argue Morgan, Bench and Perez were more valuable.

      • Votto4life

        I don’t mean to discount Rose’s achievements, but it’s a bit unfair to say Rose is a better player than Votto l, because he won more World Series rings. By that standard, Cesar Geronimo would be a better player than Ken Griffey Jr.

      • Melvin

        “By that standard, Cesar Geronimo would be a better player than Ken Griffey Jr.”

        Now see. That’s what I’ve been saying all along!……just kidding. 🙂

      • Jim Walker

        For me, Morgan as a Reds player would seem to be a tad ahead of Votto as an offensive player (note that all Moran’s stats here are as a Reds player unless otherwise indicated).

        JV had the higher OPS (.926/.885) but JM had a better OPS+ (147/145).

        JV had 59.1 oWAR (offensive WAR) in 16 years. JM had 56.8 oWAR in 8 years.

        On a full career basis with all teams, Morgan had 104.4 oWAR in 22 seasons. Votto had 59.1 oWAR in 16 seasons (thru 2022)

      • greenmtred

        Morgan was a great all around player and a great all around offensive player. Good point, Jim.

  37. Melvin

    Very good article Jason. The best part is that you realize things need to happen now. I don’t know what the Reds plans are. Guys have to be moved to the outfield or trades have to be made. There’s no getting around it. I’ve always said EDLC to CF. No signs of that yet though. Since he already has experience McLain mat be the one to do that instead until the off season. I’m happy for Senzel but he’s not a keeper for me. To block on of these young guys because of him would be a very bad decision in my view. I like Steer. He’s a keeper one way or another. We’ll see what happens.

    • Kevin H

      Senzel is still young though. I say keep him at 3rd. Steer defense at 3rd isn’t as good as Senzels. I do think they have too many infielders for positions. You have outfield prospects in double A and lower. Hopkins in my view deserves a shot.

      My opinion of course. LOL

  38. Chas

    I wish we had more from Red leadership on plans for Votto. I would say it’s a foregone conclusion that his ’24 option wont be picked up; yet they’re not doing anything to celebrate his time here (ala Miggy, Pujols, Molina). Seems like they’re going to just let the best Reds player in (a few) generations ride off into the sunset. The organization’s better than that.

    • Votto4life

      Yeah, it’s such a shame Votto will not get a proper send off. I guess they may offer to
      activate him in September, when rosters expand, and have him carry out the line up card for they final month. I doubt Joey will go along with that though. He has said if he can’t play at a high level he will retire. I suspect that is what will happen. Such a shame.

    • Jon

      Have to wonder if in the event Votto is unable to return this season, whether he and the Reds would negotiate a league minimum deal for 2024 (assuming he believes he is healthy and can play then)? Worst case scenario is the Reds eat $700,000 or so and/or Votto announces his retirement. Best case is an Albert Pujols-like final season. Obviously Votto would not be starting at 1B everyday in this scenario.

  39. old-school

    Scherzer pitching tonight.

    Bell always has a wrinkle with every line up but I will try with the off day yesterday and predict its Barrero’s turn to play SS

    1.) India 2b
    2.) Friedl CF
    3.) Steer 1b
    4.) Stephenson C
    5.) Fraley DH
    6.) Ramos LF
    7.) Myers RF
    8.) Senzel 3b
    9.) Barrero SS

    Could be some tough sledding for Reds righty bats with Scherzer, Verlander and Senga next 3 nights.

    • Indy Red Man

      Righties are actually over 1.000 ops off Mad Max so far. Weird stat/small sample size for sure, but he is 38

      • old-school

        I could not have been more wrong.

  40. Chris

    With all these shortstops, not to mention talent, why in the world would you ditch Steer for Barrero. Are you watching the same two players as I am? Barrero is NOT going to be a major league player, Steer will. Yes he’s had a rough few weeks of late, but he is a hitter; Barrero is not.