Cincinnati Reds General Manager Dick Williams was on 1530AM with Mo Egger earlier today. While the discussion covered many aspects, one that came up was when Egger noted that while limited in playing time, Phillip Ervin performed well with the Reds in his opportunities. You can listen to the entire interview below. And you should – there’s some good stuff in there.

For Phillip Ervin, he played in 28 games during the year, but only had 64 plate appearances. He hit .259/.317/.448 with the Reds, mostly coming in August and September. He saw time at all three spots in the outfield, but mostly in center. 63 of his 109 innings in the field came as the Reds center fielder.

It’s the center field position that may have been giving Dick Williams the idea that Phillip Ervin could be the teams 5th outfielder. Here’s what he said about the idea:

I thought he looked good when he was up here (Cincinnati). I was playing around with a scenario earlier where he was the 5th outfielder. He can probably play center the best of the group. You can see mixing him in with the group of the other four. Or maybe you decide one of those guys needs to be playing every day in Triple-A.

It would be a rather interesting situation for the Reds to carry all five outfielders in 2018. Being able to rotate the guys and get everyone playing time could have many benefits. Billy Hamilton struggles to remain healthy and, well, to hit. While rest may not help him hit better, giving him an off day against unfavorable match ups could improve his overall numbers and lessen the chance of injury. That would lead to a downgrade on defense, though, as Hamilton is elite.

Of the same token, Adam Duvall has shown two straight seasons of decline in the second half. And while the power plays well, he really struggles to get on base. Mixing in Jesse Winker, who has done nothing but get on base since he was drafted, could help balance out the offense some. Picking good match ups for Duvall, Winker and Schebler could be worth a small improvement on the offensive side of the ball.

Now, where that would leave Phillip Ervin is a big question. After Bryan Price stated that it would be a good time to see what Ervin could do in center in the absence of Billy Hamilton, it took all of two days of playing before he saw the bench for a week straight before even appearing in another game. Even short on options and saying he’d give him a look, Price failed to find playing time for the 24-year-old.

If the team is going to need a true back up center fielder, at least when looking at internal options, it seems that Phillip Ervin is the best option to fill that role. However, if he’s going to get four plate appearances a week, it makes more sense for him to be in Triple-A. If something happens to Billy Hamilton and you need someone to play every day, then you can make the move to call up and play Ervin. In a “day off” scenario for Hamilton you can slide Schebler to center. While he’s not a true center fielder, if you put him there with a big ground ball guy like Luis Castillo on the mound, who also misses tons of bats, the odds are you don’t need him to make multiple plays out of his range.


24 Responses

  1. Gaffer

    Price is the issue more than anything Williams thinks. He ain’t playing, so why not go to AAA.

    If Dick wants him to ply, trade 2 oyther guys.

    • Wes

      Excellent point gaffer! Does not matter what cubs are doing or fans want or even what Dick wants. Price is gonna do what he wants. and that’s playing same 3 guys every game. Hope they trade an outfielder this winter!

  2. Brad

    Ervin or Winkers status in 2018 has more to do with organizational view of ‘bench players’ vs ‘starters’ playing time expectations. For me, nothing wrong with having Duvall, Hamilton, Schebler, Hamilton and Ervin on major league lineup. Allows Reds to designate Kivlehan and open a 40-man spot.

    As long as all 5 guys start at least 2-3 games per week, its a plus for the Reds. Give team 2 solid pinch hitting options and no real need to rush to call up an outfielder if someone goes on DL. Especially with Peraza as a 6th outfielder.

    Have said it before, but teams like the Cubs can play 5 guys in outfield and do so successfully, so can the Reds. Not like the Redlegs have a Bryce Harper or another all-world guy that needs to start 155 games a season.

  3. Krozley

    I would go with the 4-man rotation in the OF with Winker starting 6 of 7 games and BHam, Scheb, and Duvall 5 of 7, playing match-ups and keeping them fresh so they hopefully don’t fall off in the back half. With a 4-man rotation, there really is no playing time for a 5th OF. They have other utility types that can backup both the infield and be the 5th outfielder. Thus, I would keep Ervin in AAA until an injury and then let him join the OF rotation at that point. I don’t like the idea of a trade yet as I’d rather see them have the depth and I would rather not see Ervin sitting the bench when he could be strengthening his game by playing everyday in Louisville.

  4. Billy

    Why not consider Ervin for the CF STARTER job? Hamilton as a LIDR and PR who starts two days a week would be a perfect bench complement to whichever corner OF is on the bench that day.

  5. Pat

    I think you see what other teams might offer for Hamilton – part of a 2-3 player trade to get a decent starting pitcher. Winker is a good leadoff hitting candidate. Ervin and/or Schebler in center. But the Reds need pitching. Hamilton has elite speed WHEN he can get on base…enough to entice another team to turn loose a #3 innings eater pitcher?

  6. Norwood Nate

    If the Reds were going to platoon Ervin with Hamilton in any true sense, then I’d be all for it. But I have zero faith Price will play everyone with any semblance of regularity. So barring a managerial change, I agree that he should go to AAA to get everyday ABs.

    If they did carry Ervin as a 5th OF’er, that would almost assuredly mean Kivlehan won’t have a spot anymore. With Herrera needing to stick and the Reds needing someone who can legitimately back up SS (or go out and find a SS to make Peraza a super-sub) there isn’t room. It would also mean that Aquino would be the only other OF’er on the 40-man.

    I’m not seeing many ways this works out well for the Reds the way it’s set up. Schebler and/or Peraza can back up Hamilton in CF unless and prolonged injury occurs. Let Ervin continue to develop in AAA until that need arises or one of Schebler/Duvall is traded.

  7. MK

    I think while Billy was injured Schebler actually played more centerfield than Ervin.

    • Doug Gray

      He did. By a wide margin. But, when Hamilton first hit the DL, Price said that Ervin would play in center and it would be a good time to get a look at him. Then he played twice in a row, then literally didn’t see the field for a full week.

  8. Julio33

    Next year is still going to be a season of trying to see who is a long-term solution.The 5 best outfielders are definitely Duvall,Hamilton,Ervin,Winker,and Schebler.
    Every game,next year should be trying to figure out our starting outfield for 2019 and seeing who could be 4th outfielder or who might be best platooned with someone else.
    So,no one else but those 5 should be played in the outfield(Until we trade one of these guys).I don’t know his contract situation,but Kivlehan should be gone.He is really,really good as a pinch hitter.But all of those at bats are taking away from what we can learn about our possible future.
    All 5 of the outfielders have shown,at times,that they could be pretty good starters.It’s a small sample size,but Winker looks like he may be living up to his prospect designation.Ervin has been given far too few AB and starts in my opinion (We are a rebuilding team and should really give more opportunity to our high draft pick who is playing well).Billy may perform better in a platoon where he can still come in as a late inning defensive replacement and pinch runner,but we don’t know.
    Is our manager going to do this,though?Or is he just going to try to win as many games as possible?You can’t blame him if he thinks he needs to win a certain amount of games to keep his job.If the front office and manager were truly working together and knew that what they were trying to do was develop talent,then they could sit veterans and lose more games as long as we were showing improvement.

  9. sixpacktwo

    I think I would think about trading Duvall for a starting pitcher if I could. I really like Duvall, but you have to give to get. If we knew our injured pitchers would be back, healthy then no trade, but we don’t, so starting pitching needs to be improved.

  10. Cguy

    I just don’t see why so many people are enamored with Ervin. Besides being the 27th pick overall in 2013, what has he accomplished? His minor league statline (.251/.343/.743) compares very poorly with Duvall (.268/.338/.841), Schebler (.277/.342/.841), Hamilton (.280/.351/.728), & Winker (.298/.398/.846) during their minor league careers. He doesn’t have the speed & defense of Hamilton nor the power & defense of Duvall or Schebler. He’s not the pure hitter we all hope Winker will be. He could be useful in cf vs lefties, perhaps a few games in lieu of Winker vs lefties. Outside of that, all the OF plate appearances are better used if distributed among the other 4 outfielders.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think anyone wants him to play over the corner guys. It’s the guy in center that some want to maybe think about playing him over because, well, Billy Hamilton struggles to hit his way out of a wet paper bag. He’s literally among the worst hitters in baseball. I don’t know if the downgrade in baserunning and defense would be made up by the improvement in the bat from Ervin or not. But, I at least understand why someone would think there’s a chance it would be an upgrade.

      • Cguy

        I’m one of those “someones” who believe it would be an upgrade vs LH starters, especially if BH is on the bench ready to enter the game as a pinch- runner & defensive replacement.

      • Billy

        I’ve been banging the drum for Ervin in CF, but I’ll admit that my position is as much about Hamilton as it is about Ervin. Give Hamilton the benefit of the doubt and he’s maybe a 2 WAR player, with elite defense and baserunning making up for a suspect bat. My belief is that Hamilton’s unique skill set could be better utilized from the bench, where it could be deployed within context.

        Hamilton is a closer for your offense. If the game is tight and you need to move that runner into scoring position, put him in to run. And if you have a lead late, stick him in CF and shore up the defense. In this way, you take advantage of his strengths and limit the exposure to his weaknesses.

        Hamilton is a relatively weak everyday CF, but he’d be an exceptional 5th OF, and I think you’d only lose a little value by deploying him in context in that role. Suppose Billy is a 2 WAR CF playing every day. I think it would be safe to say that even with limited time he could get you at least 1.5 wins from the bench. (I say “wins” and not “WAR” because part of the value comes from being able to deploy him within context, which WAR doesn’t measure.) If you assume that a typical bench player is worth 0.5 WAR, your every day CF only has to be worth 1 WAR for this alignment to be a wash (2.5 wins for CF & 5th OF in each case). Is Ervin the guy for that? No clue. But finding a CF who can give you at least 1 WAR shouldn’t be THAT hard to do. The new CF doesn’t even have to be an upgrade over Billy Hamilton the CF to be an upgrade to the team if Hamilton is moved to the bench and used well.

    • Doug Gray

      No, he shouldn’t. And I’m a Phillip Ervin fan. But he’s not as good as Schebler.

      • Jon Ryker

        Ervin is better base stealer, a better hitter, a better defender, and will strike out much less. Schebler has more power…….everybody’s a power hitter in that park…..the value of that is exaggerated. They need to make more contact if they’re going to win close games and beat better teams.

  11. Simon Cowell

    If the Reds are going to go for it in 2018 then I would say Bham needs to stay as our CF and bat 9th in the order. If the Reds are going to use 2018 as further exploratory for the future I would say trade Billy Hamilton for all you can get and stick Phil Ervin in CF and let him play 130 plus games an see what he can do. Let him bat lead off also since it would appear he has better OBP skills than Billy will ever have.

    the real question comes down to Jesse Winker. The Reds need to find a hole for him. That is going to be either Duvall or Schebler being traded away. Both are 30 dinger kind of guys but that seems to be a dime a dozen. Now Duvall seems to have some solid defense in his bag of tricks so just maybe a team out there would be interested if we can get some decent prospects back.
    so for me the solution is 2 fold. Trade Duvall and trade Billy Hamilton. We go for broke with a solid offensive charge.

    • Jon Ryker

      When you steal as many bases as Hamilton does, save as many runs as Hamilton does, and generate as many fastballs for the hitters behind him as Hamilton does, obp problems are over-rated. Hit him leadoff when he’s hitting, and hit him 8th when he isn’t.

      Ervin is a better all-around player than Schebler, and Winker is a better overall hitter than Duvall. Put WInker in LF, hitting 2nd, and Ervin in RF, hitting 1st or 7th, depending on Hamilton……

      The offense was good enough….the pitching was not… will get more relief pitchers for Schebler and Duvall than you will for Hamilton, and taking a major defensive hit like that, while losing Cozart too, will definitely not help that pitching staff….

      Ervin and Winker and Hamilton will allow you to improve your pitching and defense while cutting down on K’s and increasing your ability to manufacture runs in tight games.

      You can assess Hamilton once he becomes expensive.

  12. David

    Am I reading this article correctly? Did Dick Williams opine that Philip Ervin played center field better than Billy Hamilton?

    Here is the quote in reference to Ervin: “He can probably play center the best of the group.”

    I assume by ‘the group’, Willams is talking about Ervin, Duvall, Schebler, Winkler and Hamilton.

      • David

        Hamilton certainly seems like he was part of “the group”. Taken directly from the article above: “You can see mixing him (Ervin) in with the group of the other four.” That, to me, means Ervin and four others. I think that is pretty indisputable. So, if the other four aren’t Schebler, Duvall, Winker and Hamilton, then who are they?

      • Doug Gray

        I’m not going back to listen to it, but either I typed it wrong (counting four guys and saying other four instead of other three) or it was simply stated incorrectly. Listen to the interview yourself – it was very clear that Billy Hamilton was not among the group being spoken of.