Photo: Doug GrayWhat can the Reds do to fix their struggling offense? Doug Gray April 17, 2019 36 Comments The Cincinnati Reds lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers this afternoon 3-2. They managed three hits in the game and just one walk. Offensively, the team has been about as bad as a team could be. They have scored a grand total of 58 runs in 17 games. 14 of those runs came in one game. That means they’ve scored 44 runs in the other 16 games they’ve played. That’s 2.5 runs per game. You won’t win many baseball games like they, and they haven’t. The loss on Wednesday dropped them to 5-12. That’s the second worst record in the Major Leagues – better than the Miami Marlins by a game as I type this. So the big question is, what the heck is going on? The offense was supposed to be the part of the team that no one was worried about. The pitching had questions, both in the bullpen and in the rotation. The defense had plenty of questions, too. The defense and bullpen haven’t exactly answered all of the questions – it’s been hit-and-miss. The rotation has done a pretty good job, led by Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray. Hitting, however, has largely been non-existent. Joey Votto has a .323 on-base percentage. Jesse Winker has a .250 on-base percentage. Matt Kemp and Jose Peraza have combined to walk zero times in over 100 plate appearances. Yasiel Puig has a .211 on-base percentage. Scott Schebler has a .250 on-base percentage. You’ve watched. It’s been U-G-L-Y, ugly. And really, aside from understanding that there’s no possible way this will last because these guys are more talented than this, there hasn’t been a sign to suggest they will come out of this early season funk. When looking down on the farm, there doesn’t really seem to be an immediate answer. Part of that is because of how the roster shapes up. The Reds bench has four players on it. That includes the backup catcher, who is not going to the minors. That leaves three spots. It’s tough to see how they would send a starting player to the minors, but maybe the start that Jose Peraza is out to could be what’s needed. He’s been moved off of shortstop and slid over to second base in the absence of Scooter Gennett. Peraza, after breaking out a bit last year, is hitting .154/.170/.231 with no walks and 14 strikeouts. With Derek Dietrich being capable of handling second base you could possibly slide him into the every day gig. The other options could be to make a move that would send Kyle Farmer or Scott Schbler to Triple-A. With Farmer that would limit the ability to use either Tucker Barnhart or Curt Casali as a pinch-hitting option as he works as a 3rd catcher. With Schebler you would need to replace him with someone who can handle center field because there’s absolutely no way the Reds can play Jesse Winker there every day. It’s shocking that they play him there at all given that he’s literally the slowest runner of all qualified outfielders in Major League Baseball this season. And frankly, it’s not even remotely close. He is significantly behind every single other outfielder. Until the Reds decide that an 8-man bullpen isn’t great, they are going to be rather limited in what they can do. If they send down Jose Peraza to try and get his bat going, they would need to bring up someone who can play shortstop – at least as a back up. On the 40-man roster that would mean Blake Trahan. In his Triple-A career, spanning 2018-2019 he’s hit .242/.324/.295 in 565 plate appearances. But with Scooter Gennett still looking like he’s going to be out until early June at the soonest, they could put him on the 60-day injured list to open up a 40-man spot. At that point you could look at someone like Christian Colon, who is currently hitting .333/.409/.426 with 9 walks and 6 strikeouts. He’s also got big league experience. But the other option could be far more interesting: Josh VanMeter. He’s not a shortstop, really, but he’s played there as recently as 2018 in the minor leagues. And if he’s going to be the backup option, he can probably handle that. Toss in that he actually can play second base, third base, left field, and right field – and now you’re looking at a very interesting piece for the bench. Defensively he brings all kinds of things to like. But he’s also swinging a hotter bat than just about anyone around. In 14 games this season with Louisville he’s hitting .327/.379/.692 with an organizational best 5 home runs to go along with 4 doubles. Neither player would likely step into an every day kind of role. But it’s possible that they could provide something, anything, to an offense that could use something. Anything. Right now, until Nick Senzel is healthy – and fortunately it seems that he’s getting closer to being just that – the guy who can step in every day and help the offense probably isn’t going to be there just yet. At this point, though, any little thing could help. An earlier version of this story had a reference to Brian O’Grady, but he was placed on the 7-day injured list and thus would be ineligible to be called up currently. Share this:FacebookTwitterRedditPocket 36 Responses Scott C April 17, 2019 Be Bold or go home. Nothing seems to be working now, so why not try one or two of the hot minor leaguers.f the three John Bouse April 18, 2019 iglasias # 1 peraza # 2 votto #3 suarez#4 Winker #5 Puig#6 Kemp/schebler # 7 and barnhart 8 and you will start winning. gregmlb April 17, 2019 Why not go ahead and 60 day DL Scooter and Blandino? Bring up Van Meter and O’Grady and send down Wandy and Schebler. DFA Trahan and put Colon on 40 man and then send Peraza down if he’s got options remaining. victor vollhardt April 17, 2019 They miss Scooter three ways—in the lineup–in the field- and in the clubhouse. The new coaching staff (manager and hitting coach) may be enforcing a new way of going about your business at the plate. Even Votto’s approach seems different. Everybody at the same time just can’t forget how to hit. The lineups and position changes may have undermined confidence levels in some players. Votto batting leadoff (or second for that matter) is a waste of the kind of hitter that he is. With Puig(poor plate discipline) hitting behind Votto–no pitcher will give him anything to hit. The idea that in the depth of a team wide slump the quote “the process must be served” unquote and both Votto and Suarez are kept out of the line up so that they will “be fresh later” makes very little sense. These Reds hardly ever hit and run (or run and hit) and of course they don’t bunt. All of those items have been used not only as “regular” plays, but as slump breakers over the years by lots of teams and mangers—the Pirates did it to the Reds about ten days ago. Now I am going to insert a link at the end of this post(I hope it works) of an article from the Sunday LA Times (4/14/19) front page of the sports section. I brought up this matter before and it was pointed out that my take was “stupid, very stupid” , but I think it still applies. https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-yasiel-puig-dodgers-legacy-reds-20190414-story.html If it doesn’t I urge everyone to go to the Times website and read the story by Andy McCullough Jon Ryker April 17, 2019 If they didn’t play Dietrich in the field, they would not miss Gennet in the field. They miss Hamilton in the field and in the leadoff spot. They have too many corner outfielders and not nearly enough athletes. Dollar Bill April 18, 2019 TJ Friedl should be in the conversation of desperate attempt to jump start offense and man CF. Bell is completely misusing Dietrich and Peraza. Reds made another huge mistake with their nepotistic hiring practices. Not trying to offend anyone only keeping it real and pointing out things most are afraid to acknowledge here. Doug Gray April 18, 2019 Literally no one is afraid to acknowledge what you are saying. Some of us simply don’t agree with it. Justin April 17, 2019 I don’t know what the service time situation will be with Senzel when he gets healthy, but I can’t see why at this point he needs defensive work in the minors while we are walking Winker out to CF. Even if Senzel has a big learning curve out there, it can’t be worse that what we will get with Winker. Simon Cowell April 17, 2019 If you are ready to make knee jerk reactions lets DFA Votto, Move Winker to first. Justin April 18, 2019 I don’t think it’s knee jerk. I just don’t see what the argument could be for keeping him down when you’re already walking out less than impressive defense and need the offensive boost. Winker just needs to move back to left field. Doc April 17, 2019 What’s to say Senzel will hit any better than the rest of the roster at this point, with all of 44 AAA games under his belt, and those games were nine months ago? Maybe he will, maybe he won’t, but it is not a sure thing. Billy Hamilton would not solve the problems since it is not defense causing the losses. Besides, they lost more than 90 per year despite his defense, and he’s not hitting any better this year. Doug Gray April 18, 2019 Literally nothing is a sure thing. But based on every single thing that we do know, the odds are that Nick Senzel is going to hit enough to improve this roster and offense – and I mean the one we expected, not the one that is currently hitting like the 1907 Pirates. Patrick April 18, 2019 Every thing we know says Senzel will not improve this offense. Zips/Pecota/Steamer ect. It says his bat is equivalent to what Schebler did last year. I also do not expect him to be a better fielder than Schebler James Vincent April 18, 2019 The saber approach is being done to death. Bell had no common sense when to use it and when not to. The hitters problem? This is not a video game. They dont hit wherever u put them. They spent their entire career getting good a certain jobs. Joey hit with runners on. Paraza moves runners. They fixed the only thing that was not broken. Simon Cowell April 17, 2019 This team is off to an awful start. I don’t anyone predicted our offense and Iglesias to be this bad. I don’t know what the solutions are going to be but I do know that reacting suddenly in response to a few weeks of baseball probably isn’t going to result in the best possible move. Votto looks bad. He has no power at this time. Aside from him, nearly everyone is off to a slow start. I would agree with Doug that Dietrich probably needs more at-bats but until the Reds trade a player or two there are ZERO reasons to rush a gimpy Senzel up to the team. David April 17, 2019 Brian O’Grady has just been put on the DL or IL, whichever you prefer, with back spasms. Doug Gray April 17, 2019 Well that’s what I get for not reading the game notes that arrived at *checks email* 930am today. Stupid morning games. kevinz April 17, 2019 I think part of the Problem is playing Musical chairs with the lineup. Let Peraza leadoff. Last year he walked more in that spot. Play him in CF. Dietrich plays 2nd. Let Jose Iggy play SS. Keep Winker in LF. Peraza CF Puig RF Votto 1st Suarez 3rd Winker LF Dietrich 2nd Tucker or Casali C Iggy SS Ryan Harney April 18, 2019 I think this may have something to do with it. Peraza leading off deepens the lineup and is easier to go lefty-righty. jon April 18, 2019 When NO ONE is hitting thats what a good manager does.Schuffle the line up until something works. jr53 April 18, 2019 Kevinz, The defense sure looks better with Peraza in center and Iggy at short. Peraza at leadoff is the only thing that makes any sense with this roster. Kemp needs to sit. His feet and bat look slow. Playing him to increase his trade value does not win any games. I’d probably go with Peraza, Votto, Puig, Winker, Suarez, Dietrich, Iggy, and Barnhart. Casali at 7, and Iggy at 8 when Casali plays. That’s right, left, right, left, right, left, right, and switch. Jon Ryker April 17, 2019 They need to move whatever they have to move to get a legitimate leadoff hitter. They need to get Senzel up and playing 2B as soon as possible. They need to play Peraza and Ervin in CF. They need to trade Puig and Shebler. Bill April 17, 2019 Red’s seem to have a different approach this year of attacking early in their at bats. As a result, walks are way down. They need to be more patient and work the count. Vanmeter is off to a hot start, but the track record is not there to warrant a call up with such a small sample size. jr53 April 18, 2019 Bill, Good point on attacking early. It’s a good strategy once in a while, but not all the time. It’s not good team hitting. It lets good starters last too long. Ryan April 18, 2019 Im not sure how they thought it was a good idea to mess with Peraza. I mean he finally has success playing SS everyday last year(and ST). I think it was a mistake not getting Iglesies reps at 2nd in ST and istead moving Peraza. He(Iglesies) makes for a natural platoon partner with Dietrich. I’d bat Peraza lead-off but they just need to pick a lineup and go with it. Need Senzel and to stop being really, really bad on the bases. Above all, they just need to start hitting. Klugo April 18, 2019 Pick a lineup and stick with it. Too many lineups. Too many batting orders. Wes April 18, 2019 Come to terms that ownership and their group of friends aren’t qualified to win baseball games. It takes an actual skill to do so that they clearly lack. Fire your buddy the manager and hire a qualified individual w a track record of winning. The price situation could not have gone any worse yet they hire another person w no experience managing a team- what would u think the results would be ?? Pretty clear ownership has no humility and no ability to see the error in their ways. They have earned these empty stadiums. KyWilson1 April 18, 2019 Biggest problem ownership and the front office have is that they have no concept of how to build a sustained winner. They hold on to veteran assets on losing teams, then when they finally get close to building a winner, they trade the farm and go all in for a 3 year run. It truly is embarrassing when you see a team like the Cardinals never seem to falter, the Rays compete almost every year with half the budget, and the Reds can only manage to be good once every 15 years. Big Ed April 18, 2019 The Red Sox sure were burned last year by hiring Alex Cora, who had no previous managing experience. Wes April 18, 2019 Difference between reds and reds sox is that Red Sox ownership are a bunch of World Series winners. Therefore, it’s less a risk when u hire an inexperienced manager vs reds who just blew it w an inexperienced in-house manager in price yet made the exact same hire again. That’s pride keeping you from learning from your mistakes and coming to terms you are not as good as you think you are in your head. Big Ed April 18, 2019 The Dodgers, who haven’t won a World Series since the Reds did in 1990, have done OK by hiring Dave Roberts. Bernie April 18, 2019 After years of dealing with dumb and dumber (Price and Baker) I hoped things would get better but so far many head scratching decisions from the bench. What this team needs is a new GM and field manager. I realize it’s not their fault the team is not hitting but it is their fault that the Reds have this roster and this daily lineup. enfueago April 18, 2019 That Winker stat is amazing and brutal. Assuming the validity of the measure he needs to be groomed as the backup and heir at first as soon as possible. By the time he is 30 it will be like starting Captain Pike in left field. I like the way Senzel projects but expecting him to provide a big boost right now is unreasonable both because it will be his first experience in the majors and because he hasn’t played a lot of baseball for the past year. Maybe he starts hot but its unreasonable to expect it of him. Krozley April 18, 2019 They just need to ride it out. The offense is horrible right now, but there is certainly some bad luck here as the team has a .236 BABIP, last in the NL by far and they are 1-6 in one-run games. It is unfortunate this happened at the beginning of the season. My fear is that once the bats start coming around, the pitching will go south. Indydoug April 18, 2019 Actually, 44 runs in 16 games is 2.75 runs per game but still pathetic Phil April 19, 2019 14 runs were in one game, so it has been worse that that average conveys.