The Cincinnati Reds are in first place at the All-Star break, and it’s time to hand out some awards! Nate and I do a deep dive into the first half, the greatest performances, and look forward to an exciting season still to come. Plus, MLB draft analysis and Viewer Mail questions. Join us!

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34 Responses

  1. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Oooo. . .Honestly, I would give the MVP to the front office. First, they were able to bring in players like McLain and Elly and all of the others. But, then, they way they kept that pitching staff together during the last 1-2 months with pretty much rubber bands and duct tape, I still don’t see how we did as good as we did.

    Given that, if it has to be a “player centered” award, I would have to pick the entire starting pitching staff, and every one of them who has been on it.

    Now, if I had to pick only one of them, then AA. He was able to solidify one starting position for the FO, allowing them to concentrate on what to do with the other positions.

    • Soto

      Steve, I would agree to some extent. The front office should obviously be commended for the amount of young talent that they have acquired. The coaching staff and player development across the organization has done an excellent job also… But, let’s not forget that the slow roll out of a lot of the young talent has cost this team games. This team did not start well, and lost a lot of one run games early. I truly believe that if they Reds front office would have fully committed to going all in with the young talent, and just decided to put the best roster on the Big League team as soon as the “service time” date of April whenever was past, this team would be up on the Brewers by 6 or 7 games, possibly more. The Reds did not invest in enough pitching in the off season. This team broke camp with very little power on the roster. McClain and Elly should have been up a little earlier. After recovering from his injury, CES (by far the best stats of any player in baseball in ST) should have been the first one up. They should have bailed on the Meyers experiment sooner. With a struggling starting staff, Abbott should have been up earlier. No matter how you spin it, this team left early wins on the table. I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them. In the end, every game counts the same.
      My cousin, a former AAA player in the Indians organization, is a big Brewers fan. When I asked him what he thought of EDLC after the last series, his first response was, “how in the %$#& was he not up with the club much earlier?” He’s obviously one of the most impactful talents in all of baseball.”

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        When players have no previous experience at AAA, it isn’t the norm to send them straight to the majors. Notice what I said, “the norm”. There will always be the outliers. But, it’s recognizing the outliers.

        Homer Bailey was brought up early, also. And, his success? Professional baseball is littered with players who were brought up too early and, thus, have no success and are right back out. Why don’t you ever hear about them? Because they had no success. So, they never get written up.

        Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for getting the better players through development ASAP. But, “through development”, not “bypass development”. When in doubt, I would rather keep the kids down until they prove they are ready.

        McLain? He was ready, and we had a need. Elly? He was ready, and we had a need. Steer? He was ready, and we had a need. AA? Questionable about being ready, but we had a need. He simply proved he could do it.

        For example, with McLain, so we tried Barrero first, still a young player, what you said, still more experience. But, he didn’t pan out. McLain didn’t even have experience at AAA, didn’t show well at AA and played poorly in the Fall League in 22. No one in their right mind would have thought McLain would have done this well. He started doing well at AAA; hadn’t batted that well since A+ Dayton. Again, we had a need; McLain was ready.

        Those 1 run games, many of them could also be easily seen as a problem with the relievers at that time. Sure, we have the 5th best pen in the league now. In April, it wasn’t anywhere near as good. Strong pen, we win a lot of those 1 run games.

      • Tom Diesman

        Go check McLain’s AA numbers again. He as a 22 year old hit .232/.363/.453/.816 at AA in 2022. League average was 24 years old and .251/.341/.411/.752. He absolutely showed well at AA.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        If you think batting 232 is “showing up well”, sure.

        I believe more than enough people would think otherwise. Your reference to the “251” could simply mean the batting in AA was simply that bad that season. In other words, fairly meaningless when one would be considering, “Is the guy ready for the majors?”

      • Optimist

        I’m with Tom on this one – at first I thought the AA numbers were concerning, but IIRC Doug or someone pointed to both the underlying stats and the league-wide comparisons, and additionally considered that McLain was under instruction to work on certain parts of his approach which may have affected the average. The improvement then showed up fairly immediately this season, leading to his quick movement up the ladder.

        The advantage the Reds are now working with is the additions across the MiLB system which allows them to continue this with all players, AND get winning team records. Very well done by the front office, and the individual results are following with the not-quite-top-prospects – see Dunn, Acuna, Rodriguez and others in the 15-50 prospect list range.

      • Harry Stoner

        As improved as the pen is, the offense production has improved considerably more.

        The 30+ comeback victories aren’t simply a product of not having Strickland, et al, around.

        Hitting is what is driving the Reds.

        The Reds need even more offense.

        Not bringing up CES, or mumbling a sequence lame excuses as to why not, isn’t going to change that.

        The Reds were slow to rethink early decisions: Myers, Stephenson at DH, 3 catchers.

        McLain, EDLC, Benson, even Votto were pleasant surprises and forced a change in thinking.

        Some hard-headed RLN fans continue with a similar obstinacy to productive change and twist their knickers about inventing rationales for not further improving the offense…which will be the continuing driver of continued success.

        Of course, improving SP is crucial but the long run of current success has been with a patchwork rotation.

        We’ve seen what timely home runs have provided for the Reds current success.

        The Reds need more if they have any hope of outlasting the Brewers and competing with the Braves.

        Wringing one’s hands about the ‘fairness’ of bringing up a high performing MiLB hitter is silly at best.

        No trade of prospects, no trade deadline is needed for a major addition to the Reds’ offense.

        Just some flexibility in thinking….something sorely lacking in certain folks resistant to adding CES to the lineup.

      • Optimist

        Harry – as to the CES decision, consider that he and McLain are essentially the same age, and have comparable stats thru their MiLB careers.

        McLain is now 2 months, and 200 abs ahead of him in MLB time. It was very understandable that neither was on the opening day roster, and equally understandable that McLain was called up first.

        Where the CES decision begins falling apart is about a month ago. He was injured coming out of spring training, and much more limited defensively than McLain.

        When Joey returned, and TySteve showed he was ready, the lineup situation resolved. Even with his recent “slump”, CES is clearly bat-ready for MLB, and if there’s a worry about defense, that’s what late inning defensive substitutes are for.

        There’s clearly a risk that all of the rookies could have Aquino-like regressions, or level off to BillyHam like production, but CES needs to be in the group in the next two weeks as the trade deadline clears.

        It’s worth it for the playoff push now, and to set up what happens in the spring.

      • BK

        Let’s remember that no one saw this team competing this year. Your argument that the Reds should have promoted everyone sooner is neither provable nor disprovable, as we need the ability to go back in time and try out your ideas. The Reds are way ahead of where anyone thought they should be. That fact alone should give the benefit of the doubt to those who made the decisions that have proven highly successful.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Oh, then we won’t mention that 190 during the fall league, will we?

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        For Optimist

        Exactly, this season. Not in AA. Not in the Fall league. He did show some in ST. But, that can just as easily be going up against weak pitching, also. McLain showed it at AAA.

        We simply went with Barrero out of ST, who was still a young prospect for us, as well, but had experience with the big club. But, he proved he couldn’t do the job. So, we had a need? McLain was ready. Simple.

      • Optimist

        I’ll listen to explanations and arguments about the value of the AZFL, but by design and nature it’s essentially the definition of “small-sample-size”.

        The reverse is to examine the “all levels” line from BRef – EDLC, McLain and CES are each well above average, and young enough, under 24 years old, that there’s no dilution or inflation from extended MiLB or foreign play.

        Unless there’s something really fishy in the 1000-2000 PAs lines, that’s a pretty good indicator to determine is a player is ready for MLB. Of course, performance in MLB is another level entirely, but you go with the best predictive value you can identify.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        For Harry

        “As improved as the pen is, the offense production has improved considerably more.”

        I doubt it’s the offense as much as you believe it is. Given the fact that we still have a negative run differential, given the fact that our expected record is under 500 by 1 game, showing we’ve been winning a lot more close games than blowouts, given that our bullpen has improved tremendously from that first month, given that our starting pitching has simply been miraculous for the past couple of weeks if not ever since we lost Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcraft, I would state the pitching has been carrying us more than the hitting.

        But, you brought up one-sidedness. Many, many others know very well that it’s a team that wins games. Anyone with any sense can see how good this offense has been this year. Not so much in April. But, then, we made the changes, “as well as” the bullpen started pitching lights out, and we started winning game. It took both. If we don’t have one, not only do we lose games, but we stress the pen even more than it is.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        For Optimist

        “CES is clearly bat-ready for MLB, and if there’s a worry about defense, that’s what late inning defensive substitutes are for.”

        Well, what’s CES going to play? First, taking time from Votto, who only leads the team in OPS? What did he do to lose playing time?

        DH? What did the batters like Stephenson, Steer, and Benson do to lose that time at DH?

        CES isn’t going to play 3rd in the major leagues. His fielding % is 0.895. As a comparison, we got rid of Encarnacion, a 3rd baseman for us, because he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from 90 feet, much less first base. And, Encarnacion was a better fielder than CES. If all we had to do was “defensive replacement”, Encarnacion would have spent the rest of his career here. And, defensively, that would have cost us games. CES won’t be playing 3rd base up here.

        Bottom line, if CES comes up here, he either takes time from major leaguers, young major leaguers and a former MVP, who haven’t done anything to lose any time to a minor leaguer, or he rides the bench to replace Votto, maybe getting a spot start a week at first, playing part-time. He’s better off playing full-time in the minors.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      For Optimist:

      “to examine the “all levels” line from BRef – EDLC, McLain and CES are each well above average”

      Alright, let’s look at it:

      A+ – .273 .387 .424 .811 – nothing major there, what a prospect should be able to do and show their are ready to move up to AA.
      AA – .232 .363 .453 .816 – simply showed more power but no BA. Probably AAA material still, but no one in their right mind would think this is major league material.

      And, going by your standards, that’s all we have to go on. We can’t go by ST and Fall league, for those don’t show enough PA’s.

      Elly did show up, at all levels. But, he only had 47 games at AA. And, we had experienced, young players who could play 3rd already. When they didn’t pan out, and Elly was showing that he could still bat at AAA, not before then, again, we had the need, and we had the replacement.

      Batting-wise, CES is ready, I will say that. I have said that. And, it would be easy to find a spot on the big club. I’ve said that before. What you all never consider is. . .who deserves to have their time cut for a minor leaguer? Votto, who’s leading the team in OPS? Elly, who’s being a human highlight reel? McLain, who was just pronounced as got a slap in the face for not being part of the AS game? Benson, who literally has led the Reds in many offensive categories since being called back up?

      “All of them can give a game”. Really? Again, that doesn’t answer the question why should they get their time cut for a minor leaguer. Second, to do that, the Reds would potentially be playing people out of position even more, potentially risking defense and costing games, just for a minor league bat, WHEN OUR OFFENSE IS ALREADY ONE OF THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE AT IT IS! There is no reason to bring CES up. We don’t need his bat. We don’t need his glove. We don’t need CES up here right now.

      We need pitching.

      • Optimist

        A quick note- not each level, but the “all levels” summary line.

        And, of course they need pitching, but that’s a different discussion.

      • Optimist

        Ps – where did “all of them can give a game” come from?

  2. TJ

    Just putting this here.

    • Doc

      No Ohtani. Breaks the bank, robs the development chain, and hamstrings the team financially for years if Ohtani goes down.

  3. TJ

    Jesus, how did I forget about Elly? Ok. If I’m going to dream, dream big. India and Fraley are part of a package to get Ohtani. Not exactly sure what it would take to get him. I would rather keep a younger Benson and trade Fraley. I really like Fraley and India, but you have to give to get. Plus any minor leaguers attached wouldn’t be any big ones with two major leaguers sent over
    Friedl -cf

    • PTBNL

      Jesus had nothing to do with you forgetting Elly.

    • MBS

      TJ, I’m not sure if we would trade for Othani, but I sure would try to sign him. A hitter of his ilk would cost over $40M a year, and a pitcher of his ilk would also be over $40M. He’s double the player but also double the risk. I’d do up to $55M a year over 7 years for a total of $385M. I have a feeling he’ll get a 10 year deal, and be closer to $500M. The team would also have to be ok with spending north of $150 a year, maybe closer to $175M to justify 1 player salary at $55M.

      1 EDLC SS, 2 Ohtani DH, 3 McLain 2B
      4 Fraley RF, 5 Steer 1B, 6 Friedl CF
      7 Marte 3B, 8 Benson LF, 9 Stephenson C

      C Maile, 1B/3B CES, OF Dunn

      Ohtani, Lodolo, Greene, Abbott, Phillips

      Diaz, Ashcraft, Young, Sims, Williamson, Farmer, SanMartin, Duarte, Law

      The added benefit of having Othani is he doesn’t count against your 13 pitchers. So you can have 12 position players, 1 two way player, and 13 pitchers.

    • Mark Moore

      If all the planets and former planets aligned and we rented Ohtani for the rest of this season, he would never play a field position (with the possible exception of an extreme emergency). It isn’t that he’s not capable, it’s that he knows his value is his pitching arm and his bat. That’s where his multi-bazillion dollar contract lies. He won’t risk that regardless.

      • TJ

        Mark, I have to respectfully disagree. No way is Ohtani, the league leader in homers, not going to hit.

      • MBS

        He has only DH’d or pitched this year, and rarely played the OF in the past. I’m not sure, but I don’t think he bats on his pitching days.

      • Indy Red Man

        Things more realistic to write about then the Reds signing Ohtani

        1. Discussing where you’d sit on the Starship Enterprise. Next to Captain Kirk or maybe try to snuggle up next to Uhura?

        2. Which one of RLN should be the next bass guitar for Metallica

      • MBS

        @Indy, party pooper, also I would sit on a different Enterprise, next to T’pol.

  4. TJ

    I could see the Reds trying a rental on Ohtani, but the package would be too light. In my mind the Reds only trade for him if they can sign him to a longer deal. If the Reds do have the opportunity to sign him I also hope it’s on a shorter deal. The Cardinals, Dodgers, and Astros don’t sign their players to many deals that take players into their age 40-41 seasons. Let someone else like the Padres, Phillies, or Rangers keep doing that. I still don’t think CES will be brought up before September excluding an injury. A friend of mine thinks the Reds are a “serious” world series contender. There are not many #1 starters to trade for. If Ohtani would make his way to the Reds I would definitely consider them a serious contender .

  5. Jason Franklin

    Here is my prediction for next years lineup. (seems like all the cool kids are doing it).

    Friedl (CF/Anywhere in the OF)
    McClain (SS/2B) -he seems to be a solid number
    Benson (LF/RF) -he gets on base/has gap power/looking solid
    Some De La Cruz guy (3B/SS)
    Votto (DH/1B) -if they resign him
    Fraley (RF/LF)
    Stephenson (C/1B/DH)
    India (2B/LF/DH) – India doesn’t have good range/instincts?
    CES (1B/3B/DH) -less pressure place to start

    How did the Reds suddenly get this good of a lineup? 🙂

  6. GMan88

    Votto has 7 HR in 57 AB. If he stays healthy and gets 250 AB, He could easily have 30+ HR in less than 90 games played. He would have to be in the conversation for Comeback Player.

    • Indy Red Man

      Easily hit 23 HRs in 71 games? I’m glad he’s not washed up, but a HR every 8 at-bats isn’t sustainable for anyone. 10-11 more HRs would be awesome as a platoon player. Fraley’s also hitting .359 with risp and thats not sustainable either, but hopefully Stephenson can keep bettering his numbers and India can turn it around a little bit. The pitching isn’t good enough to go cold at the plate

    • Indy Red Man

      Yeah can’t omit Steer. Something will have to give in the offseason?
      You can platoon CES and then use his & Steers flexibility to give CES maybe 350 at-bats a year, but I think they expect him to be a full time slugger. Do they want to trade India or extend Joey? We’ll see what happens? Marte may or may not be ready? I’m not trading Fraley unless I get an affordable #1 #2 starter in the package and thats highly unlikely. They’d be better off signing a FA