At least once a month I reach out to supporters of the site over on Patreon (you can sign up to support the site right here, and get a few cool perks that come with it) for questions for the mailbag. Let’s jump right on in!

You get two moves to improve the Reds, one pitcher and one position player. What pitcher do you bring up and who do you send down? What position player do you bring up and who do you send down?

The position player thing is easy: Nick Senzel. I’ve written enough about him and what he can do that I’m not going to expand on that one. Sending down – well, I’d just move to a 7-man bullpen. But you didn’t give me that option, so I’d go with Kyle Farmer. He simply isn’t getting much time right now as it is, and call me crazy – but I just don’t worry about the sub 1% chance that if I use my backup catcher as a pinch hitter that the starter gets hurt after that and we have no catcher. I’m not letting that scenario dictate the roster.

With the pitcher I think there’s a lot of arguments that could be made for who to call up. Whether it’s Sal Romano, Cody Reed, Lucas Sims, Jimmy Herget – all would be acceptable answers. But since you are making me pick, I’ll take Sal Romano. As for who to send out, since the team isn’t going to seemingly use Zach Duke as a LOOGY, it’s him. Easy to spend the money of Bob Castellini here, but Duke isn’t eating up a ton of salary at this point, either.

While this primarily applies to the big club, I would like to hear more of your thoughts and analysis on the 13 man pitching staff and its impact on the players who are either in AAA or on the MLB bench. It would also be fun to hear if you think it will stick around and how that will alter player development (i.e. more players who hit less well but field more positions competently like Farmer).

I touched on it a tad above – I don’t like it. Especially since there are more than a few guys in the bullpen who are more than 1-inning relievers. It holds the bench hostage. I think that it’s going to last. David Bell talked about it when the spring began and we’re still seeing it. Time will tell, but I think it’ll tell us that it’s around to stay.

I don’t think it’s doing much to alter development. What it’s doing is keeping a position player in the minors, playing every day, who otherwise would be in Cincinnati sitting on the bench. Essentially, it’s keeping whoever would be the 25th man on the roster, the last guy off of the bench, in the minors. While that sucks for that player for a multitude of reasons, I don’t think that from a developmental standpoint, it’s altering much of anything. It’s altering his bank account and pension.

How much patience will they have with Duke? Who in AAA or elsewhere is on the radar to replace him? Does it even have to be a LOOGY if they are willing to trust Wandy Peralta more to throw strikes like the other night (guy like Bass has been solid in 9 innings)?

I kind of addressed this one above. That said, I think they’ll give Zach Duke a longer leash than many fans would. But I really do wish we’d stop seeing him pitch against right-handed hitters, even though he’s been more successful against them this season in the absolute smallest of sample sizes. I’d bring up Romano, but if they are dead set on a lefty – then it’s going to be Cody Reed, and I’d have no problem with that at all.

Opposite question for Nick Senzel… reported he’s playing in AZ, if he’s back in a few weeks who gets the boot and how does the outfield shuffle? Same question for Alex Wood and Scooter Gennett.

This question was submitted before we found out that Senzel would be joining Louisville on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see what they do in regards to who goes down when they call Senzel up. Kyle Farmer and Scott Schebler have to be the guys you’re looking at. Schebler more so due to the fact that in the outfield it comes down to he and Matt Kemp, and only one of them can be sent down. Fair or unfair, stuff like that matters.

With Alex Wood, assuming no one else is injured between now and then, it’s likely going to be Tyler Mahle or Anthony DeSclafani. Though if they do decide to keep Mahle in the rotation it wouldn’t surprise me if DeSclafani was just pushed to the bullpen and maybe a reliever is sent out. Gennett is too far out to really know. They may have traded Matt Kemp by the time Gennett is ready. If not, things get a lot more interesting in terms of what move they would make. But that’s still at least six weeks out and without knowing the roster at that time, it’s really tough to know.

Do you think Taylor Trammell will be a center fielder or will his arm tool relegate him to the corner? Is 2020 still realistic or if he keeps mashing could we see him this year?

I’ve said it time and time again, and I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face: For me, range and converting fly balls into outs is far more important than saving a base on hits that were hits no matter what. Taylor Trammell has plenty of range in center, and while his arm isn’t ideal for the position – give me the range over the arm every day of the week. I would personally have no issue at all playing him out there every single day. With that said, I’ve talked with more than a few scouts who wouldn’t because they put more value on the arm than I do. But I also remember Johnny Damon’s noodle-arm playing center for a decade, and Trammell’s arm is significantly better than that.

It’s tough to see where Trammell would get called up this season, especially before very late in the year. The outfield is already full. And it’s tough to see how one of Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, or Yasiel Puig get benched. Injuries happen, of course, and there’s a chance that Puig is moved near the deadline and a spot opens up. If that latter situation plays out, then it wouldn’t be completely shocking if he got called up in August – but I still think it’s safe to assume you’re looking more at a 2020 timeline.

Why is Beltre still in extended spring training? Is the pitcher Diomar Lopez from the Matt Wisler in extended spring training as well? Is he considered a legit prospect?

Michael Beltre was dealing with a non-injury medical situation in the spring, and is catching up on missed time. Expect him to be back on the field for a team soon. As far as I know, Lopez is back in Goodyear in extended spring. As far as being a legit prospect, I guess that depends on what you mean when you say that. He’s got a fastball that’s touched 97, though he usually doesn’t throw that hard. And the stats have been good, though he’s always been old for the level he’s at. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on, but he’s also not a guy that’s a Top 25 organizational prospect at this point either.

Do you know how many Reds’ minor leaguers read your posts?
I don’t know how many actually visit the site and read it with frequency. But I know a few who do support the site on Patreon. Plenty of guys follow me on twitter – so they, fortunately or unfortunately – depending on the day and what I’m talking about – get to see that stuff.

37 Responses

  1. Ryan S

    How does Trammel’s arm compare to Schebler’s? Both are regarded as having weaker arms. I seem to remember seeing some scouting grades that graded Schebler’s arm as only a 35 and Trammel’s arm as a 40 or 45.

  2. bred

    If Mahle gets sent down, does his pay drop to the minor league scale or does he keep making major league money? How about a guy like Philip Ervin. Is he making minor league money, and when he gets called, up then he makes big league money?

    • Michael Smith

      @bred

      He will go to 40 man minor league pay scale

    • Doug Gray

      They get 40-man roster money – which is different for players who have MLB experience versus those who do not. Mahle and Ervin, for example, make more money while in the minors and on the 40-man roster, than a guy like Jimmy Herget, who is on the 40-man but has no MLB experience.

  3. Doc

    It figures that Doug would make his one call up to the bigs a player coming off a sprained ankle, who hasn’t played a meaningful game at any level since last July, has never faced live major league pitching in a meaningful game, and who by his own admission failed to earn a roster spot in CF in spring training.

    If ever there was evidence of someone attempting to tank in order to improve draft position, this could be exhibit A.

    • Jasonp

      It would be nice if you actually had something to say on a subject (who you would call up) instead of constantly saying how you don’t like what Doug said.

      I like reading what other people have to say on this site but I am starting just to skip everything you post because you don’t add anything to the discussion.

    • RojoBenjy

      Physician, heal thyself! You are a skipping record. Methinks your comments are more appropriate for facebook than this well-run website.

    • andybado

      Yeah, Schebler and Kemp (and Winker and Puig) have really proved their worth early this year. Jesse Winker has 6 HR already, Puig has 9 RBI, Schebler has 7 walks (as many as Votto), and Kemp has 9 singles. Forget that Senzel is probably the 2nd most talented hitter in the organization and has already proven that he can hit AAA hitting extremely well. And also ignore that Kemp has the highest batting average of the Reds’ OF at .200. Experience is the most important thing. Do you really think Senzel could match Kemp’s 9 singles? Why would you ever play a guy with no MLB experience? Clearly Senzel doesn’t have experience because he just isn’t as good (and not because he’s been pushing through the Reds system and dealing with a slew of unrelated injuries over the last 3 years).

    • Shamrock

      Doug has had a giant man crush on Senzel since he was in huggies.
      On one hand Doug is right. While nothing in the last two years has looked encouraging, Senzel has flashed in the past and was hyped when he was drafted out of Tennessee (i believe).
      On the other hand i can definitely see Doc’s point of view: Nick has never shown that he belongs anywhere near a MLB roster.
      Now, with Kemp’s broken rib, I’m pretty glad that Phil “Mr Magic” Ervin got the call-up. He looked good last summer, great this spring, and I am excited to see what our former 1st round pick will do this year.
      Go Reds!!

  4. Brent

    Who should we be more excited about at AA Kuhnel or Hendrix? Do either or both project to high leverage relievers with the Reds by 2020 or 2021?

    • The Duke

      Hendrix has better raw stuff, but Kuhnel has the edge on control which makes him more likely to me. Hendrix has more upside though, he could be a shutdown closer if he can figure out his command.

  5. Cguy

    Are Nick Travieso, Jonathan Crawford, or Brandon Finnegan still in the Reds organization? If so do you expect any of them to be on a Reds MiL active roster anytime soon?

    • Doug Gray

      Yes they are. Travieso and Finnegan are pitching right now in extended. I honestly don’t know if Crawford is healthy or not. I did not see him pitch during ST, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t. Not sure on the timeline for Finnegan – there’s a chance we see Travieso at some point in May.

  6. Little Earl

    What happens with Alex Blandino when he comes back?

    • The Duke

      I imagine he is in AAA until he shows he’s healthy and hitting. He’s got a lot of hills to climb this year to get back on the big league roster.

  7. IndyRedsFan

    On the topic of injured pitchers….do you have a status update on Nick Howard?
    I haven’t seen anything since you posted the video from ST in late March.

  8. Brian

    Assuming cincy locks up scooter and let’s Puig walk, who plays center field long term and who moves to the corner between Senzel, Trammell, and the guy with more MLB center field experience than both of them, Jesse Winker? I only included the Winker part to make me laugh

    Now to the important questions. Which anna kendrick is your favorite Anna Kendrick? Are you a becca stone fan from pitch perfect? How about her as an accountant from The Accountant with affleck? Maybe you liked her as a barely pregnant wedding guest at table 19. Please Doug, enlighten us.

    • The Duke

      I wouldn’t offer Scooter more than 3 years at about $10 million per year. Maybe go a little higher on AAV if he’d take a 2 year deal. Injuries are piling up on him, he has fairly large career splits, and he’s turning 30 next year, so his prime is just about over. He might still be a good player in his first 2-3 decline years though.

      Senzel is the easy call to move to RF if the other options are Trammell and Winker. Trammell has better speed and range than Senzel for CF and Senzel has the much stronger arm for RF.

      Hot take: Prime Anna Kendrick is actually 50/50 Anna Kendrick.

      • A.B.

        Duke, love your takes but have to disagree on this one. As much of a Scooter fan as I am, I wouldn’t offer anything near that amount. When guys like Dietrich are signing minor league deals, I think I’m spending my money on anything but second base. Give me a SP and / or extension and a CF and slide Senzel down to 2B in 2019 and I’d be a happy camper.

        (cue angry “old man yells at cloud” posts about Senzel being injury-prone with no MLB at-bats)

      • The Duke

        Fair point, Dietrich has a .896 OPS so far this year after being around .750 in Miami, and we can offer him arbitration next year since he is under 5 years heading into this season. Dietrich will turn 30 this year, so riding him out this year and next is likely a better scenario and hope that India is ready for 2021.

        I hope the Reds continue to target “solid” offensive production guys that play in pitcher friendly environments in free agency and the waiver wire. They’ve had some good production going that route the previous few years (Strailey, Gennett, Dietrich, Iglesias). I’m probably missing some other guys too.

      • ptaylor2112

        I disagree that “injuries are piling up” for Scooter.

        2014 = 137 games played
        2015 = 114 games played
        (15-day DL for cutting hand in shower, + optioned to MiLB, recalled on June 11)
        2016 = 136 games (15-day DL for oblique strain)
        2017 = 141 games played
        2018 = 154 games played

        Having said that, I think a 2 year deal would be great, or 3 if the right money. Hopefully he can prove himself the same hitter when he returns. The Reds sure could use his bat.

      • wes

        Based on all the players reds have locked up in their organization over the next few years (depth at SP, RP, IF and OF) and their inability to attract big name free agents like Dallas “The Donkey” Keuchel- Reds best bet to spend money is how they did this off season by acquiring talent other teams will part with for little to nothing in prospect value.

        Greinke fits that mold on an extreme example and gives Reds an experienced Ace if they can make it to the post season. There’s also a couple players on every team not performing to their salary on any given year. Reds should stay that course until big named free agents are willing to sign free agent deals to come to cincy.

        That being said, I think they look to extend wood and puig and scooter if they come around and start performing and are willing to sign team friendly deals. No way Scooter walks away from a low ball guarantee contract right now with all circumstances pending. He might even sign a 3/18 OR 2/16 deal right now- worth considering for both sides…..

      • The Duke

        Just because you’ve played doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Scooter’s shoulder is toast, which is why he can’t play the OF anymore, and he’s a below average to poor defender at 2B as it is. Add that to the oblique strain, and the groin injury this year and I would say the injuries are piling up. I don’t know how tied into Scooter we want to be into his 30’s as bodies tend to not hold up as well.

      • ptaylor2112

        At this point, I don’t care if his shoulder is toast. His bat is needed in the lineup.

        Injuries are also piling up for DeSclafani, R. Iglesias, Lorenzen, Schebler, Puig, Winker…

    • Big Ed

      Doug mentioned a few weeks ago that he was in EST in Goodyear. I couldn’t find anything different.

      I guess that if the team doesn’t think a player is quite ready for Dayton, then they play EST games, etc. until Billings opens in mid-June. I gotta admit, I’m not sure exactly what they do in EST for 10 weeks.

    • Doug Gray

      No. He was dinged up in spring training – nothing serious. Just hasn’t been healthy this season yet.

  9. kevinz

    Kemp Broken rib . Injuries always play a part might not release nobody at all.

    • RojoBenjy

      Phlerve has his chance. Hope he makes the most of it.

      Ironically, in a video interview Ervin did after he was drafted, he told the interviewer that one of his MLB heroes was Matt Kemp. That was 2013, of course.

      • kevinz

        that who he was sitting and talking with in dugout too lol. Bet that is awesome.

      • RojoBenjy

        I noticed that too. That is so awesome for him. Hoping that Kemp mentors him well.

  10. Ryan

    Nice work on the post yesterday about the Reds (lack of) player devolpment.

    Really hit the nail on the head when pointing out the putrid results in the 2nd round of the draft. I think you were a little kind when talking about the 12-14 drafts though. Travieso and Nick Howard were widely thought of reaches at the time. Travieso at least showed a little promise. I also think the Reds broke the golden mlb draft rule when they got Ervin, going for need instead of best player available.

    Its obvious that the Reds lethargic behaviour from 2014-2016 cost them big time in rebuild capital. Heads should roll if they dont make the playoffs or recoup most, if not all, the prospect capital they gave up in the off-season.

    • RobL

      Ervin was the 23 ranked player by Baseball America. Not a reach.