Well, hello everyone. I’m back. For some reason, I’ve decided that I want to write about the Cincinnati Reds again in moderately regular intervals. So I’ll be here regularly for this season with a column every two weeks. It’s like when Michael Jordan came out of retirement.
Any good column needs a premise. Here’s mine:
There are three things the Reds should be doing in what has essentially zero chance of being a competitive season.
- Be as fun and entertaining as possible.
- Do whatever is necessary to get the club on a winning track as soon as possible.
- Do every possible thing to appreciate Joey Votto and maximize his opportunities to make franchise history.
Do I think the Reds will consistently do these things? Perhaps not, but I’d like to hope so.
Either way, every two weeks I’m going to write about what I would do if I were in charge of things. With all decisions guided by the three principles outlined above. Spring training starts in the blink of an eye. Let’s get started.
This first column will mostly focus on issues one and two, but let’s start with a nod to three. I do not know if Joey Votto is going to be fully healthy to start the season. But the second he is, he plays every inning he wants to. Upon learning of his injury, I started to think that 2022 might actually be his most impressive season. Think of it like this: He had one functional arm and he hit eleven home runs and managed to be just a tick off of a league average hitter (92 wRC+). That’s absurd. I have a bad shoulder that is more or less permanently as dysfunctional as the one Votto had repaired (from what I’ve read, at least). The idea of someone even being in the neighborhood of competent as a major league baseball player with that level of injury boggles my mind. As such, I’m not ready to count Votto out. If he’s healthy, he plays. All-time greats deserve appropriate sendoffs. (Though I hope he makes it just about impossible for the Reds to decline his option.)
Now, as for numbers two and three on the list of priorities: I want to start it with a discussion of Kevin Newman. He is a very solid looking utility player. And yet, I’ve seen multiple people put him first on the shortstop depth chart. This absolutely cannot happen. Unless you have established yourself as an above-average big leaguer, which, on the offensive side is a list that includes only Votto, Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson, and Wil Myers, all playing time is given to the player with the most potential and/or the farthest (in the younger direction) from the age of 30.
With the disclaimer that every big leaguer is inherently great, Kevin Newman is a 30 year old utility guy, and 30 year old utility guys are not fun as starting shortstops. I would much, much, much rather Jose Barrero get another shot now that he’s got some distance from his wrist injury and a reportedly good winter season behind him (along with new swing mechanics). And if that doesn’t work? Well, you know the names. The Reds have enough shortstop prospects to noticeably improve attendance if they all sat in the stands at GABP. Let’s start rolling them out. Let them learn at the big league level unless we really think some lasting damage might result from it.
Let Spencer Steer play at third until we’re absolutely sure he can’t. Let’s see what Will Benson can do. Let’s give Stuart Fairchild his first real shot. Let’s see Brandon Williamson instead of Connor Overton. Let’s see as many guys as possible who might be on the next good Reds team. And if one of them isn’t an option, the younger the guy is, the more time he gets to prove he can do it.
There’s on exception, and I’ll close with maybe the most controversial take here. Trade Nick Senzel. As we’ve watched him struggle to stay on the field the last few years, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t know the last time I saw a Reds fan who wasn’t down on him. He needs a change of scenery so he can maybe become what he should have been for the Reds. And somewhere out there is another player who needs that same change. Let’s do it Reds. A good old fashioned challenge trade. Give Senzel a fresh start somewhere else and see what he can bring in return for the current team.
And that’s about it in the first edition. Next time, I’ll check in on how spring training is starting and whatever the current talk is. Hopefully, it’s about giving prospects and other young players as long a look as possible. Hopefully, it’s about Joey Votto looking surprisingly good and healthy early in camp. But I guess we will see. If I were in charge, that’s what I’d do.