It’s been quite a while since we’ve had one of these on the site. We’ve had more than a few of the mailbag articles, but it’s been months since there was an open to everyone “ask anything” topic here. No more! As usual, there are a few rules to follow:

  1. Ask your question before 8pm ET tonight and I’ll be sure to answer it. After that, I’m making zero guarantees.
  2. Try to avoid questions that will require me to look up the data (such as: Who was the last 25 HR and 45 steal player in the system).
  3. Try to avoid questions that will require very long answers. I tend to ramble as it is.
  4. No prospect ranking questions. I’m just now beginning my internal rankings before really diving in. The Top 25 is coming in a few weeks at the end of the month. You’ll just have to be patient on this one.
  5. Limit your number of questions to three or less.

That’s it. Those are the rules. Once you leave your question below in the comments section and I’m ready to answer it, I will delete it from the comments and add it to the post with the answer.

While this is on the minor league side of my work, I’m more than willing to answer questions about the big league squad, or just baseball in general. And I guess, well, anything else, really if that’s how you want to use your three questions.

Assuming the Reds have 40 million to spend, and players would actually sign with the Reds, how would you spend the money?

I think the two biggest places the Reds can upgrade are shortstop and catcher. With Nick Senzel’s ability to play center or second, one of those two spots would be the third place you could look for an upgrade.

At shortstop the only player even worth talking to would be Didi Gregorius. He struggled somewhat at the plate this year as he missed half of the season with an injury. But from 2015-2018 he was a borderline All-Star caliber player. And from 2016-2018 he hit 20+ homers each year while playing a strong defensive shortstop. There’s risk there because his 2019 was most certainly a down season. But even in 82 games played he hit 16 home runs. If you think he can return to form, he’s the shortstop to look at in free agency.

Of course, free agency isn’t the only play you can make. Trades are options, too. And while free agency feels better because you are only giving up money, not money and players, some years what you need just isn’t available. With Gregorius being the only legitimate starting caliber shortstop out there, even if you want to bring him in, other teams could want it more.

At catcher, you go hard after Yasmani Grandal. See if he’s willing to take a similar deal offered to him last year by the Mets – 3-years and $60M. He gets on base a ton, which would go a long way to helping the putrid offense. He’s also got plenty of pop, which again would help the offense. Behind the plate he’s one of the best pitch framers in the game, which would also help benefit the already strong pitching staff.

At second base I’d look at Howie Kendrick. Not as an every day player – he hasn’t been that in quite a while. But as a utility guy, he’s capable of playing second, third, first, and he’s got some outfield experience in the last two years. He’s also hit over .300 and shown power in each of the last three seasons. He’s coming off of a 2-year, $7M deal. See if he could be had for another 2-years and $11M? Use him around the field like the team did with Derek Dietrich and Josh VanMeter in 2019. Let the bat play.

So if we were looking at free agency, I’d go hard after Yasmani Grandal and try to make that happen first and foremost. But I’d also want to have a plan for shortstop. Freddy Galvis probably gets his option picked up, but the plan shouldn’t be to not try to upgrade the position. If Galvis is the guy because the upgrade couldn’t happen, fine – it just works out that way sometimes. But they should be trying to upgrade. I’m intrigued by the Howie Kendrick idea quite a bit. I’d pursue that option.

On the mound I’d be looking for a left-handed reliever who doesn’t just get killed by righties. While the new rule of pitchers having to face three hitters before being replaced will eliminate true LOOGY relievers, if you can find a lefty who dominates lefties and holds his own against righties – that’s the target. I haven’t put in the research to find if that guy’s out there in free agency or not, but that’s the hypothetical type I’d be looking to add.

Are you comfortable going into next season with Aristides Aquino as your starting right fielder?

Yes and no. Much like I mentioned above with Freddy Galvis – if that’s what winds up happening, fine. But I also think it’s a spot you look to upgrade if possible. While we are still talking about a small sample size of just 225 plate appearance in the Majors, Aquino posted a .316 on-base percentage. That’s not exactly good. Of course it did come with elite power, and that most certainly is good. Still, if you can find an outfielder who can get on base a little more and still hit for power, go get him. If not, let The Punisher go out there and show what he’s got, and adjust the plan on the fly if you need to.

What’s your thoughts on Joey Votto? Did he regress this season or was it just a down year due to lack of production all around? Where do you bat him next season accordingly, and is he still an everyday player?

There’s a lot of questions wrapped up into this one question. But I’ll say this: Yes, Joey Votto regressed. He has been regressing. That’s what happens to players in their mid-to-late 30’s. Father time eventually catches up to all of us. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Votto were better next year than he was this year (or the year before). But I do think that Joey Votto MVP contender is long gone.

As for his spot in the lineup – he still gets on base a lot. Second in the lineup makes tons of sense. He’s an every day player. One, there isn’t a better option. Two, his salary means he’s going to play. And three – he’s still an above-average hitter, he’s just not the elite hitter he used to be.

What’s going on with Stuart Fairchild in the AFL? I saw the recently you noted he hasn’t been playing much. Do you see him as a possible center fielder at the MLB level?

While I haven’t confirmed it, given when he has actually played, it appears that he’s on the “taxi squad”. It’s a designation that some players get and they are only eligible to play two days a week. As for his defense, yes, I think he’s a big league center fielder. He won’t wow you with the defense, but he’s fully capable of handling the spot every day in my opinion.

What is the likely (optimistic) expectation for Nick Lodolo based on the limited sample we have seen? How soon can he be in the Major Leagues?

In an ultra-aggressive situation the second half of 2020. That, of course, assumes a few things. First would be that he begins 2020 in Double-A. I don’t think that’s entirely out of the question, though it’s not what I expect to see happen. The second assumption would be that he goes out and just flat out dominates the level.

We saw how the Reds handled Luis Castillo in 2017 – jumped him straight from Double-A to the Major Leagues. Things were different then – the Reds were STARVING for anyone who could even be decent in their rotation at the time. That’s probably not going to be the case in 2020. But, let’s take the two above assumptions and it’s July 18th, the Reds are contending, and Lodolo is dominating in Double-A and has moved up to Triple-A, or maybe he’s still just rolling through the Southern League killing it. And then let’s say the Reds have a pitching injury, or someone in the #5 spot who is just not getting it done. It would make plenty of sense to then call him up to the Majors.

What are the chances that we see Josh VanMeter at second base going into 2020?

I think the odds are good. Mostly. There are several layers at work here, though. First is that while I believe that Josh VanMeter should have been given more chances to hit against lefties than he was in the Majors this year – he wasn’t. And that suggests he’s not going to be given those chances next season, too. So even if we do see it, I don’t think it’s going to be a full-time thing – he’ll get most of the starts against right-handed pitchers in this scenario.

But there’s also the looming situation of what if the team goes after a center fielder and Nick Senzel moves to second base? If that’s the case, then no, Josh VanMeter isn’t going to see a ton of time at second base. He’ll likely fall into a utility role where he might get a start a week at second, then find pinch hitting and maybe some platoon-like at-bats in left field (with Winker sliding to right field, perhaps, on those same days to get more lefties in the lineup).

The other thing at play could be where the Reds pick up the option on Freddy Galvis, which I expect them to do, and then also pick up a shortstop. That would potentially (and likely) lead to what we saw most of the second half in 2019.

Are you comfortable with a Jesse Winker / Phillip Ervin platoon in left field and Aristides Aquino in right field on opening day?

I don’t think it’s the most ideal situation. With that said, I do think that it would provide solid offense. I’d prefer to see the Reds upgrade at least one spot in the outfield. If that’s going to be your starting corner outfield, there are a whole lot of questions about it. Winker’s hit well when healthy, but he’s struggled to stay healthy for a full season more often than he’s stayed healthy for the last five seasons. And with Aquino, as addressed above somewhat – he’s a guy who doesn’t get on base much, and his track record is very small.

What free agent reliever would you most like to see the Cincinnati Reds grab?

As I noted above, I haven’t looked through who all is possibly available. There are a ton of pitchers out there – the research just hasn’t been something I’ve been willing to dive into at this point. But I like the idea of adding a lefty who doesn’t get lit up by right-handed pitchers. Or if there’s a right-handed guy out there who has reverse splits, but also doesn’t just get torched by right-handed hitters, someone like that. The bullpen was pretty good in 2019 compared to the league. Iglesias, Lorenzen, Garrett, Stephenson, Sims, Bowman, Kuhnel, Reed – you’ve got guys that can get it done.

Assuming the Reds could workout an extension before hand for Mookie Betts, does it make more sense to go after him or Marte considering the prospect haul— and what would be the most fair package you’d give for either one?

That’s an enormous assumption given that he’s said he won’t sign one. He turned down an 8-year, $200M offer from the Red Sox after 2017. But, if we assume he would sign, say, an 8-year deal…. you trade whatever the heck they ask for if it’s going to be from the farm. If they start asking for big leaguers, it’s a different discussion because that may include Suarez or Castillo or Gray, and that changes the math entirely. But for prospects? Whatever they want. Mookie Betts is arguably the second best position player on the planet. You give up whatever they want from the farm to make it happen. Of course, we’re living in a dream world, because he’s not signing an extension.

Tyler Stephenson brought his rake to Arizona, but he actually had a very good year overall. What kind of offensive upside does he have and has your perception of said upside changed over the past season?

I don’t think the upside had changed for Tyler Stephenson at all. His projection, at the top end, is a .280 hitter with plenty of walks and 25 home runs. Now, whether he can get there is a very different thing. Obviously he’s not there now, or really close to it given the power. But it’s in there.

Jonathan India is not raking right now. The leaves are still all over the yard, Doug. It’s a mess. Are you seeing anything wrong with him? I notice that, even when he’s not hitting, he’s still walking quite a bit. Is that a reason to be more optimistic about him? In general, aren’t high walk rates indicative of future major league success?

Let’s start off with the last question first. Yes and no. Walking can be an indicator of future Major League success. But usually it’s a sign of that when it’s also coming with someone who is hitting well. If a guy has a good eye, that always beats the alternative. But if they can’t use that eye to do damage in the zone…. and right now, that’s kind of what my biggest question revolving around Jonathan India is. For someone who seems to be seeing the ball fairly well given his relatively high walk rate, and particularly in Double-A, a low strikeout rate – where’s the damage?

I believe that India’s got above-average raw power. But I’d be lying if I sat here and typed out that I wasn’t concerned that he slugged .378 in Double-a despite a strikeout rate of 18%. It would be foolish to write him off – he’s still a Top 10 prospect in the organization. He’s got good defensive tools, and the raw power is there, but I also think that his stock is down this year from where it was a year ago. He’s now played in 165 games as a professional – not counting the Arizona Fall League – and he’s hitting .254.

While I know that someone is reading this right now and yelling about how I always say batting average doesn’t matter…. in the minor leagues it does. At least a little bit. The future Major League players should be able to hit for a higher average against minor leaguers who, for the most part, aren’t going to be future Major Leaguers. It would be one thing if he were hitting .254 to this point in his career and he were a teenager. But he’ll be 23 before the 2020 season begins.

What kind of ceiling does Dauri Moreta have in the bullpen? Late inning stuff? Or more middle relief?

In the game of today, rather than the game of even five years ago, it’s middle relief stuff. Which is silly when we really think about it. He’s a guy that can sit at 94-95 with a very good breaking ball. But with how baseball is today, that’s a 6th/7th inning profile. Of course, you can have that stuff and perform significantly better than a 6th/7th inning profile, too. How you use it really matters. And sometimes that stuff plays up, too.

Who’s your everyday 2B next year (or plays there 5 days a week or so). Senzel? VanMeter? Galvis? Dietrich? Peraza?

I’d say that there’s almost no chance that Derek Dietrich is a Red next year. So scratch him off the list. I’d also say that it’s very unlikely that it’ll be Peraza. It felt very clear that he was behind VanMeter on the depth chart once VanMeter showed up on the roster.

As I noted above in another answer – there’s a lot going on with second base next year and how it could play out. So I’ll just direct that part of the answer to the previous answer.

Sleeper bullpen arm that could positively affect the big league team next year?

I guess it depends on what you would consider to be a sleeper? I wouldn’t be surprised if a guy like Sal Romano puts it together in the bullpen next year. It wouldn’t be completely shocking if a guy like Keury Mella did (I saw him sitting 97-99 as a starter in one game this season in Triple-A…. do that from the bullpen and it can absolutely work). Maybe a guy like Vladimir Gutierrez makes the transition to help out of the bullpen despite being a starter? Tejay Antone has always been a starter, but he projects more as a reliever and I’ve always been interested to see how the stuff would play in that role.

But if I had to pick just one guy, I’ll go with Ryan Hendrix. He’s got elite stuff. He missed a lot of time in 2019. There are some control issues that have come up throughout this career that he’ll need to work on. But we’re talking about a guy with a 2.55 ERA in 172.2 innings, just 8 home runs allowed, and 234 strikeouts in the minors since being drafted. And the stuff absolutely matches those numbers.

Where does Nick Lodolo start and end up next year?

If I had to bet money on both outcomes I’d say he starts in Daytona and finishes in Chattanooga. But, I also wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he began in Chattanooga and finished somewhere higher than that. He’s polished and the stuff is very, very good.

What will Kyle Boddy’s role be with the Reds? How do you see this hire impacting pitching development in the minors?

There’s a lot here, so I will do my best to try and lay out what I know, what I don’t, and what I think.

His official title is the Director of Pitching Initiatives / Pitching Coordinator at the minor league level. He’ll be handling the role that’s always existed in the Pitching Coordinator, but also adding in the director of pitching initiatives. What that entails hasn’t exactly been detailed at this point (and probably won’t be fully detailed as it would give other teams a way or approaching things the same way, lessening the advantage the Reds organization may have).

What we do seem to know based on what Boddy has said publicly, is that his job will be to work with Derek Johnson and Caleb Cotham, who are the pitching coaches in the Major Leagues, to set a plan for the entire organization. Boddy will take that plan to the minors and implement it from there with the coaches throughout the organization. He has said that he looks forward to coaching the coaches. He’s also noted that he’s looking forward to setting the plan for each pitcher in the organization.

That last sentence is important, at least from where I sit. While this isn’t something that I specifically saw this year, or last year – it’s something I have seen in somewhat recent memory. And it’s something I’ve heard both first and second hand from players and scouts, too. The Reds didn’t always have a specific set plan for a pitcher – or if they did, it wasn’t exactly communicated with them. From the evidence, it would simply seem that there wasn’t a plan for each guy. The pitching coaches at different levels had different ideas of what a pitcher should be/should do, and that’s what they taught. And those things weren’t always the same thing from one level to the next.

Things like that would lead to mechanical and philosophical changes within the organization among pitchers within the same year if they happened to spend time at more than one level. Now, as I noted above – that’s not something I specifically heard or even saw in 2019. But it’s definitely something I’ve seen in the last handful of years, and heard about from both pitchers in the organization, as well as several scouts who covered the organization in their job for other teams. The track record of the Reds developing pitching speaks for itself, and I think that stuff like that is at least a part of the reason it’s been so tough.

We will have to wait and see how things work out. And that will likely take quite a while given how development does work. But having the coaches in the organization all on the same page as to what they want to teach, and having plans for each individual pitcher in place – that sounds like a much better plan than what seems to have been happening in the past.

Is Hunter Greene going to have a late start to the season? If so, how many months do you think he’ll miss?

If Hunter Greene is pitching in games in April there are going to be some rather serious questions asked, because that’s just not normal. He didn’t have surgery until April 9th of 2019. There is absolutely no reason to try and rush him back. If he pitches in games before June it would *feel* like they were rushing things. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he doesn’t pitch until July or August – at least when it comes to games.

What happened to Tony Santillan this year? Was he injured or did he regress? Any reason to have the same level of optimism about him going forward?

He dealt with some smaller injuries most of the year. He hit the injured like in the second half, I believe, three times with shoulder issues. None were considered serious, but they were enough to shut him down for a week or two, then the last one kept him out the final three weeks.

So, technically, he was both injured and he regressed. But I think that the regression was likely due to him pitching while not 100%. Obviously, that’s going to cause his stock to slip a little bit – as it should. But he’s still got elite stuff when healthy. And there’s not a reason right now to believe that he shouldn’t be healthy moving forward.

Similar question about Vladimir Gutierrez. He was okay at the end of the year, but 2019 was brutal for him. Any idea why?

The Triple-A baseball made a mess of a lot of pitchers. Stuff that used to die at the warning track, or even just before it, was now landing 8 rows deep. You couldn’t get away with a single mistake with the baseball this year and a lot of guys had issues with their numbers because of it. I think that’s a big part of it.

But, I think there’s also the question of did he just happen to get to a level where the fastball simply wasn’t enough? The offspeed stuff feels like it’s good enough to play at the next level, but his fastball being 90-95 may not be – particularly when it’s at the lower end. Of course, maybe some of that is simply the baseball, too. We’ve heard pitchers over the last year talk about how the ball feels different and it’s changing what they can do with it a little bit. If that’s what happened here, and the ball reverts back to “normal”, perhaps this isn’t an issue.

The baseball change has made scouting certain things a lot tougher in the last year. Baseball America had an article about it earlier in the summer. Scouts I talked with weren’t entirely sure how to deal with some of it, particularly when it came to “can this guy really hit for this kind of power”. Some, though, also noted that “this is the same baseball they’re using in the Major Leagues” – and they are right. But if the ball changes, it’s going to effect some guys more than others.

That’s not exactly the best answer, but hopefully it’s an acceptable one.

Will we look back in a couple of years and wonder why we weren’t more excited about the rotation being anchored by Castillo, Greene, and Lodolo? I am hopeful that the current focus on development pays dividends.

I don’t think so. But I say that because I think the timing of having all three of those guys in the same rotation doesn’t fit well together for more than maybe a year or two. Hunter Greene, while theoretically could be pitching in the Major Leagues in 2021, is more likely further out than that. A guy with his stuff, you simply never know because they can just vault up the system if everything is clicking. But that’s in a perfect scenario, too.

Add-on, more realistic Mookie Betts question: assuming he will NOT sign extension, should the Reds be willing to trade 2 of Greene, Lodolo, India for 1 year? Would addition of Betts and Grandal make the Reds World Series contenders?

Personally? I’d try to avoid using both pitchers in the same deal. But one of them and India for Betts? Sign me up. I think if you could add Betts and Grandal to the roster, that it’s a playoff team. And once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen. On paper the Dodgers were clearly, far and away, the best team in the National League. But here we are today and they aren’t even playing for the National League Championship.

Is there a chance that everything blows up in your face if you make that deal? OF COURSE. Things happen. On paper the deal with the Dodgers last December should have been worth significantly more to the 2019 win total than it actually wound up being. Guys get hurt. Guys underperform their expectations. That happens. But I’ll go to opening day feeling awfully good if this were the Reds lineup and rotation:

  1. Nick Senzel – 2B
  2. Joey Votto – 1B
  3. Mookie Betts – CF
  4. Eugenio Suarez – 3B
  5. Yasmani Grandal – C
  6. Jesse Winker/Phillip Ervin – COF
  7. Aristides Aquino/Josh VanMeter – COF
  8. Shortstop person no matter who it is

And a Rotation of:

  1. Sonny Gray
  2. Luis Castillo
  3. Trevor Bauer
  4. Anthony DeSclafani
  5. Tyler Mahle/Free Agent/Traded for dude

Realistically, the Reds need 15 more wins in 2020 to get to the playoffs. How do we pick up those fifteen wins?

Well, I think we need to start with the idea that the baseline isn’t actually 15 wins. On paper, the 2019 Reds were about an 80-win team. It didn’t work out that way because randomness happens. They need to find about 10-ish wins to be where they want to be.

I think that some of those wins could come internally. Improvements from young players like Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel come to mind. Toss in that they would also play more, that helps a little bit. But they clearly need help from the outside. As I said, I’d go HARD after Yasmani Grandal. He’s help the offense a lot. And he’d help the pitching staff get better, too. I think that’s arguably a 4-5 win upgrade right there. So that’s half of what the team needs. From there, it’s a lot tougher because unless you make a trade, or Bob Castellini invents a new vegetable, they aren’t signing Anthony Rendon. And he’s the only free agent that is out there who could make up the rest of the difference. At least on his own.

There are possible trades that could do some things, though. Rumors that Francisco Lindor could be shopped, or as noted previously here – Mookie Betts. Personally, I’m willing to move big pieces in the farm to acquire either of those guys – even if it’s just short term. But no matter what, it feels like they will need to sign a guy like Grandal, and still make at least somewhat of a “big” trade to get there.

I’m fascinated by the Boddy hire. What kind of hire could they make for the offensive side of things that would have as much impact?

I’d be lying if I said that I was as in touch with the hitting side of things as I was with the pitching side of things. But, I also fully believe that the guy doesn’t exist. With the way that the technology is, I believe 100% that all of the advantages from it lean towards making pitchers better, easier. That’s not to say that it can’t help hitters or coaches improve hitters. But I do believe that every last bit of the data, the slow-motion, the extremity tracking – all of it – is better suited, and easier to use as a coaching tool, to improve the success of a pitcher on the mound more than it can be used to improve a hitter.

Some old school guys are very upset that longtime Reds coaches and scouts are being let go in favor of young analytic types. I personally love it, but what are your overall thoughts on how dramatically the Reds are changing their philosophy on… Well, everything?

I think it can be both good and bad. But until we see who is brought in, it’s all a bit premature. First, analytics are NOT bad to be adding. Anyone who is opposed to trying to have MORE information is crazy.

With that said, I can definitely understand that on the surface getting rid of experienced scouts and or coaches in favor of inexperienced ones can be an issue. Of course it depends on who those guys are and how good or bad they are at the job, right?

When it comes to some of the coaching changes in the farm system, while not specific to any single coach – I was surprised it didn’t happen last offseason. The fact that the organization changed the head of the amateur scouting both stateside and internationally, brought in/promoted two people to take over the formerly 1-person job as farm director, and brought in a new field coordinator, keeping nearly the entire coaching staff the same felt strange.

As someone who believes that there’s very good stuff coming from the analytics and scouting side of the conversation, I fully support both sides here. As should anyone else. Scouting has gotten more analytical in the last few years. But only because they tools they’ve used provide better information. Much of what scouts used to believe is stuff we can actually “prove” with all of the data that’s now collected. Spin rate isn’t a new thing or idea. It’s just something we’re capable of measuring now. We may also place more emphasis on it now, because the measurements also tell us how much of a difference maker it can be.

But there are so many things that scouts and coaches can see/do that the analytics people simply can’t. While I’ve said, often, that it’s the on-field stuff that matters far more than the clubhouse/dugout/leadership stuff, and I’ll continue down that road – that stuff isn’t worthless, either. Setting up a camera and recording the game isn’t going to give you any insight into that stuff. The people will. While this won’t apply to any coach, as they’ll all be able to share the information – knowing how coachable a player is matters. It particularly matters in the minors when guys are still learning so much and developing. For a scout, being able to get this information before trading for someone could be huge. And it could be even bigger if they believe that player has a correctable problem that would lead to greater production with a change.

Which pitchers do you think will specifically benefit the most from this change in philosophy?

This is a question that I simply don’t have a good answer for. There are a lot of reasons for it – but mainly because it’s tough to know exactly how the Reds are going to approach it. Wish I had a better answer here.

Do you have any hunches about guys who might be close to a breakout in 2020 that you’re going to go hunt data on? And, of course, that you are willing to share?

Right this second, no. As I stated above, I’m just now beginning to start working on my prospect list. Part of that includes taking a closer look at the deep-dive data on some guys. I haven’t gotten to that part of it yet.

Same question, for sleepers?

Pretty much the same answer, unfortunately. I’ll toss a name out there that I’m intrigued by, though: Tanner Cooper.

Top three guys in the system you look for every day. Mine: Stephenson, India, Garcia. Yours?

It depends on who is pitching that day. For the position guys that was probably my group, too. If Nick Lodolo was pitching, I was trying to watch.

Based on money, numbers, etc, most look to WAR, average velocity off the bat etc, I would like to see the Reds pursue Nicholas Castellanos for left – he absolutely tore it up against Cincinnati at Great American. That field is made for him. I would look at a trade for Trevor Story as well, trade Bauer who didn’t adjust to Cincinnati, look into Dallas Kuechel.

This wasn’t exactly a question, but I figured I could turn it into something since it was posted in the comments. Let’s start with Nicholas Castellanos. He’s an absolutely brutal defender. To the point that he’s most likely a designated hitter or first baseman that has simply been allowed to play in the outfield. But, he can hit. He doesn’t walk much, which means you’re hoping his BABIP stays very high – and that’s always a bit of a concern. But the track record of a high BABIP is certainly there for him.

That said, I’m just not sure he makes sense for the Reds. He’s not an elite hitter. And while that wouldn’t usually be an issue – it is when you might also be the worst defensive outfielder around. He can’t slide to first because Joey Votto’s going nowhere. And he can’t move to DH because baseball is dumb and has different rules for the leagues. With what he likely gets paid by someone who can play him at first or DH, it’s a tough sell for me.

Sign me up to acquire Trevor Story. But he would probably cost you every single prospect you’ve got and a quality big leaguer, too. He’s a free agent after 2021, too. I’m not saying don’t do it – but I’d like to see the deal it would take, too.

When it comes to Dallas Keuchel, things are interesting. The Reds were reportedly quite interested in his services last offseason. At least early on. Then rumors started swirling that they didn’t like something with regards to his medicals. If that’s the case, it’s tough to believe that they’d be interested again this offseason.

Not a baseball question, but I’m fascinated by how much content you are able to create for different platforms. What’s your realistic career goal? How long do you think you can continue doing what you’re doing? Do you ever want to move into an MLB organization, or do you always see yourself as a reporter?

Now this is my kind of question! My realistic career goal is to continue to do what I do now, mostly. I think that right now I work too much, for too little, but at least I’m moving in the right direction with the “too little” part. I’d like to be able to do work less, and eventually I’m going to have to. I’m 35 now, and I can already tell in some things that I just can’t do what I used to do.

Right now, unfortunately, I kind of do a little bit of everything. I probably write 150 articles a month between RedsMinorLeagues.com and RedlegNation.com. And at least for now, I’m also doing an article a month with Baseball America. It’s a lot of writing. But on top of that I’m also doing all of the social media for RML and RN. And shooting all of the photos (wire service photo’s are incredibly expensive and I just can’t justify the cost to make that one work), edit all of the photos, shoot all of the video, edit the video…. and at times I’m doing some managing of things at Redleg Nation, too. I do have some help over there – there are other writers, and a managing editor.

Ideally, I’d like to bring on someone else full time to help manage much of the non-writing/photo stuff. I just want to write/shoot photos. But that’s not exactly an option without all of the other stuff involved. I’m still shocked, truly, that MLB Advanced Media doesn’t have a “beat writer” who basically just does what I do, on their staff, for every single organization as a part of “Team.com”. I know that the money is there to support it – I’m proof. And with the reach of the actual team website/social platform? There’s no way possible it would lose money. And it would build brand. It’s crazy. But here we are.

How long can I do this? I feel like I could do it forever. It may change a little bit, as it has some in the last 14 years. I’m sure it will have to as technology changes. I really should be doing a podcast again at this point and I’m kicking myself for starting and stopping a few of them over the years. It’s on my list for the offseason to get set up again. But yeah, I guess you never know when life will change and you either don’t want to do it anymore, or you can’t do it anymore for whatever reason. Ideally, though, I’d like to do it until I’m ready to just stop working.

There’s been some hiccups along the way that have made me want to stop. Heck, there was one a month ago that had me really considering just blowing it all up and going out and finding something else. There’s some give and take with all jobs, and there’s certainly plenty here. For at least the first decade of my doing this – granted some of those years it was part time only, I didn’t make $22,000 a year. I lived as cheaply as possible and made it work and just prayed I didn’t get sick or hurt. I didn’t get hurt bad enough to where what was broken needed something immediately fixed. But I’m also 35 and next year will be the first year I feel like I can justify actually paying for health insurance in my entire life (I haven’t had it since I had to leave my parents insurance like 15 years ago).

On the flip side, I haven’t had a boss to dictate what exactly it is that I can and can’t do in about a decade. I have freedom to make my schedule as I go. If my family needs someone to watch the kids for some reason, I can step in and do that. On the other flip side…. running a business sucks. I’m not a business person. I’m just some dude who knew how to make websites and wanted to write about baseball.

As for moving to an organization…. there was a time in which I did want to do that. I wanted to be a scout for the first handful of years. I got offered a job as a scout once upon a time, but by then it simply didn’t make sense to me to take it. Scouting jobs come and go. Guys get let go from them often. I thought about it for a few days but decided to turn the job down. My reasoning was that if I took it I would have to give up what I had built online with my writing. If I got fired/let go after a year or two I couldn’t just jump back into my online writing career and not skip a beat. The audience wouldn’t be there. And that means the money wouldn’t be there.

So that would mean going back out and trying to find a job in the real world. One that, realistically, I’m not exactly qualified for. “Worked for self as online journalist/photographer/videographer” followed by “baseball scout” doesn’t exactly line up the job requests out there. But if I just stuck with what I was doing, I could continue to grow what it was. And if it ultimately didn’t work out, then that’s kind of on me. So I stuck with it.

With where I’m at now, it’s tough to see where another offer would ever make sense for me to leave this behind to join an organization. I know what they pay. At least what they would pay people like me (non-top priority org guys). It’s not worth it. If MLB Advanced Media wanted to try and bring me on or buy me out to bring me on to be that hypothetical “minor league guy” for say Reds.com, they couldn’t afford it. Well, they could, but they wouldn’t match what I’d ask for. Because again, I’d have to leave this behind and move on, and while my writing wouldn’t stop, it would just move, moving back if/when I were let go, probably would leave one without the kind of audience/following that was needed to keep it going.

This may just get reposted this weekend an a stand alone article. That was a lot.

I am inferring from your post that you have no trouble with the PED history of players. Do you not think it possible that even if they don’t backslide into drug use their not a good influence on their teammates?

I don’t think having been a PED guy in the past is necessarily a bad influence on teammates. Can it be? Sure. If they are still using and trying to get others to use. Simply existing in the space as someone who once screwed up and took performance enhancing drugs but no longer does? No, I don’t think that’s going to be some bad influence.

What would it take for Reds to acquire Francisco Lindor? And would you prefer the Reds to chase Lindor or Betts?

Let’s start with the second part first: Francisco Lindor. The reason is simple – shortstop is a much bigger need than outfield. The Reds have plenty of options in the outfield. At shortstop they might not have any. Or they might just have Freddy Galvis.

As for what it would take to acquire him…. I think much like I said above with the Mookie Betts hypothetical, but more. Lindor isn’t a free agent until after 2021. So you get two seasons. He’s unquestionably an MVP caliber player. He’s a true difference maker. It costs what it costs. If you’ve only got to give up prospects – let them have their pick of three of them. If they want Lodolo, Garcia, and India? Yep. You can’t rebuild forever. This team has real pieces right now. They need some help, but they’ve got real talent on the team. Don’t waste it. Go get a legitimate difference maker. That’s Lindor.

It seems that infield shifts have dramatically changed how the game is played offensively. If you were the commissioner, would you regulate alignment of infielders? Why would you or why would not?

I absolutely would not. Telling a team to not try and use the information they have on what is likely to lead to an out is crazy to me. While I definitely think that the advantages pitching and defenses have right now make hitting so much tougher than ever before, I don’t like the idea of telling them that they can’t shift or put fielders in certain spots on the field. Even if it does bother me that left-handed hitters are hurt by the shift more than right-handed hitters are.

Tough question: Sorry and I understand if you want to steer clear, but I’ve wondered about this for a while. Your opposition to Pete Rose and any mention of him in Reds marketing is both fascinating and admirable. Your willingness to damage relationship with the Reds, with whom your livelihood is centered around, over a firmly held ethical position, is very much opposite recent examples set by the NBA and Blizzard entertainment. Do you feel that you have damaged/eliminated any chances for employment by the Reds, or even promotion of your websites through official Reds broadcast partners, with your unwavering commitment to call out (with blistering criticism) any mention of his name by the Reds or local broadcasting partners?

With the Reds themselves? No. Of course, I also don’t think the Reds want to hire me for anything either. With some people in the area who could promote stuff I do? Maybe. But I don’t really care much about that. I’m completely fine my stance on Pete Rose costing me money.

How many hits do you think Pete Rose would lose off his total if he had had to hit into the shift?

If he had to hit INTO the shift? A whole lot. If he had to just face shifting defenses? Not a ton. As a switch hitter he would have a bit of an advantage over your typical lefty. But also, the game was different then. Less velocity meant you had a little more control on “where” you were trying to hit it. He was a master technician. He certainly would have lost some, but I doubt it would have been many. His approach would have changed a little bit – going the other way a little more as a lefty, bunting if they decided to get too wild with the third baseman.

And hey, while you are here how about doing a little reading? The projected arbitration numbers are out for the Cincinnati Reds and it gives us a better idea of how much money the team could have to spend this winter on new acquisitions.

Projected arbitration raises for the Reds are in

19 Responses

  1. Cguy

    Doug when I clicked on the projected arbitration raises, I had no idea I had been transferred to your other site. I have not knowingly darkened that doorstep in well over a year (before you took ownership). Nevertheless, even though there was nothing negative in my comment, It was censored. Unacceptable.

    • Doug Gray

      It was “censored” because it was your first comment there and the first comments there always need to be approved. Everyone isn’t out to get you.

      • Oldtimer

        This is the only Reds site I use. There are others. I don’t use them. This one has everything a Reds fan needs.

  2. Oldtimer

    1960 Reds were 67 W team. Trades and improvement from young players made them 93 W team in 1961.

    1971 Reds were 79 W team. Huge trade (best ever by Reds) made them 95 W team in 1972.

    1989 Reds were 76 W team (I think). A couple of trades and a new manager made them 91 W team in 1990.

    Just a few examples from Reds history in my lifetime. There are others.

    2019 Reds were close. 2020 Reds can get to 90 W with some improvement and some new players.

    • Oldtimer

      I counted nine times in my lifetime (born 1951) the Reds have improved by 15 or more W from one season to the next. Most recently 2009 to 2010. Before than 1998 to 1999.

      Skillful trades (Joe Morgan in 1972), development by young players (Frank Robinson in 1956), and maybe a key free agent (Dave Parker in mid 1980s) can do the trick.

      • Shawn

        Doug, I really enjoyed the story of your career goals. Thanks for sharing. I hope you can keep it up for a long time

  3. Justin

    The idea of simply having a uniform plan for each player, partially constructed by the guy who seemingly invented all this pitching data, has to be a huge help. MiLB pitchers in our system have to be excited for the prospects of that.

    • Oldtimer

      Not in Utah (ha ha).

      Tidbit a friend sent me today:

      … The Reds Eugenio Suarez led the Majors in Strikeouts, 189 Ks in 663 PAs …

      Nellie Fox (HOF and MVP in 1959) struck out only 192 times in 14 years with White Sox.

      • Colorado Red

        Its a different game then we remember.
        It is not 8PM here in Colorado either.

      • Oldtimer

        True of every pro sport, not just MLB. NFL, NBA, NHL all very different.

  4. TMango

    Respectfully, I disagree on catcher being a top priority. I’d rather go after a lefty slugger and lefty pitchers. And we need a middle infield. Tons of lefty starters on the market, so it’s a good time to try to lock one up. I don’t like the outfield free agents, and the good ones are mostly righties. If we are in contention, outfield is usually something you can upgrade at the trade deadline. To get some lefty pop, I’d go after Didi Gregorious (for SS) or Moustakes (for 2B).

  5. Haven

    Little late but I’ll ask anyway. What is the big missing piece that the reds don’t have that the cardinals do? I feel their scouting is impeccable. jack flaghty And Robert Stephenson were drafted at the same area, one example but still.

    • Doug Gray

      18,000 additional season ticket holders, leading to more ability to spend money every single year – that’s the biggest thing. That and incredible luck. They offered an enormous contract to both Albert Pujols and Jason Heyward, and both turned them down. It worked out well for the Cardinals in both situations.

      • Patrick

        Well let’s ask what’s is the big difference between the Ray’s and the reds. I live in Tampa and I can see first hand how the Reds are just lacking as an organization compared to the Ray’s. So why did you think Reds can not be as good as the Rays

  6. Phil

    Freddy Galvis probably gets his option picked up, but the plan should be to try to upgrade the position. (Everything is more clear without double negatives.)

  7. Cbus

    I disagree on making the shift illegal. There is illegal defense in basketball, there is illegal offense and formations in football. Making an illegal defense in baseball would be fine, would just take some getting used to and it would make the game more fair which should be the goal. Two infielders on the left side of second and two on the right side of second as the pitch is thrown should be the rule, easy to do and enforce.