David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The State of the Reds


David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

I’m really not sure where to start. Wait, Grady Sizemore? Are you kidding me?! Reds Nation is upset that the once talented on the wrong-side-of-thirty Sizemore, who has had not one but two micro-fracture surgeries on both knees has taken the Boston Red Sox offer instead of the Reds? Now for $750,000 on a 1-year deal with millions of dollars in incentives, it was a good low risk, high reward gamble that the front office missed on, but let’s look at the reality of the situation.

You tell me that you don’t know if Billy Hamilton is ready to be an every day player in the big leagues? Okay, fine. How was a guy with both knees recently operated on for micro-fracture surgery going to cover center field if Hamilton isn’t ready? That was mistake number one on the chart of mistakes that should be about twenty down from the top, if that indeed was the plan. If you didn’t know that Grady Sizemore was going to be competition for Ryan Ludwick in left field, you might want to stop reading whoever you’re reading that would’ve written that in any way, shape, or form.

But can we get to the real deal? The real question at hand? Why are the Reds to the point where this is “bad news” that Grady Sizemore rebuffed the Reds to sign with the Red Sox? We’re days away from when catchers and pitchers report to spring training and nothing has been done over the last 90 days when moves should’ve been made to improve the roster. If you wanted a centerfielder “just in case”, I guess Walt Jocketty should’ve looked to square away local product Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks from the Ryan Hanigan trade instead of settling on minor league starting pitcher David Holmberg. Even if it meant adding more pieces to that particular 3-way trade. Sizemore simply wasn’t going to be a stop-gap or insurance policy for Billy Hamilton.

I’d like to slide off center field for a second though, because I don’t think center field will be a problem. Billy Hamilton has progressed nicely at every level since he’s been in the Reds organization. Besides the first month of AAA last year, Billy Hamilton had a fine season. He made the adjustments to be successful at that level. Take away his first month of the season where the Reds were having him work on small-ball instead of swinging away and his average jumps up 10 points. I am not saying that 10 points is huge, but I am saying that let Billy swing away and beat out infield hits. Yes, let him drop down a bunt when the time is right, but let Billy swing away. Anything north of .250 and Cincinnati, we don’t have a problem.

How about left field? Ryan Ludwick hit zero home runs in September last year. Why are the Reds trying to sign another left handed hitter anyway in Sizemore? Why not Mark Trumbo when he was available? Sure, he’d be Adam Dunn in left field all over again but could you imagine his right handed 30+ homer power between Votto and Bruce. Can you say, “Nobody is pitching around Joey Votto just to pitch around Joey Votto again”. Sure, his average wasn’t great. But a pitcher would have to view pitching to Mark Trumbo with Votto on base as a bad thing as opposed to taking his chances throwing to .261 hitting with mild power Brandon Phillips. Shorter, Votto gets more pitches to hit.

What about third base? San Diego third baseman Chase Headley has been there all off-season on the trade market. Switch Hitter, with OBP’s of .376, .374, & .347 the last 3 seasons while one season removed from hitting 31 HR with a league leading 115 RBI. Oh you like Todd Frazier at third base? Don’t worry, both Frazier and Headley can play either third or left, but Headley won a Gold Glove in 2012 so hello LF, Todd-Father. If anything, Headley’s OBP’s fit perfectly into the #2 slot in the lineup.

Oh, back to reality. This team shouldn’t even be debating on the idea of Grady Sizemore. Walt Jocketty has done nothing other than sign bench players to 2-year contracts. This team has had a 3-5 year window to win it all with the right timing of talent peaking all at the same time before big paydays and free agency start to unravel key contributors. Everyone in baseball has known since 2010 that this team has needed a legit right handed hitter for the middle of the order to complement its terrific left handed hitters. It’s no surprise and it’s a glaring hole for all of Major League Baseball to wonder, “Why aren’t they just adding that one significant piece to put them over the top?”

Good question.

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Tags: Billy Hamilton Cincinnati Reds

  • beeker

    Walt pretty much lost his ability to maneuver when the Yankees decided that they didn’t want to bring in Brandon Phillips. That looked to be the way to free up cash for a few moves, but they didn’t bite. It’s pretty tough to bring in Chase Headley (and his $10.25MM contract) when the coffers are empty. Just ‘hoping’ that the same group of guys somehow plays better this year doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but it seems to be where we are.

    • Ron Fulton

      It wasn’t Phillips they were trying to move it was Bailey, and for the life of me, before the signing of Tanaka they needed starting pitching, I cannot understand why the Yankees would not make this deal unless Jocketty screwed it up. As far as the pot being empty, all you have to look at is the salaries of Baker, Ludwick, Marshall, Broxton and eveb Hannahan. Again Jocketty is to blame.

      • Josh Bresser

        Walt never offered Bailey. He offered Phillips for Gardner, the Yankees countered with Bailey, and he declined it.

        • Ron Fulton

          Then he is dumber than I thought.

      • Jesse Borek

        The thought that Dusty Baker, Ryan Ludwick and Sean Marshall have been flops while members of the Reds is comical.

        Baker led the team to three playoff appearances in four years, the first in over a decade.

        Ludwick was a key factor in 2012, putting up impressive power numbers.

        Sean Marshall has been one of the best relievers in the National League for the past half a decade.

        Just because Ludwick and Marshall contributed nothing due to injury last season, does not make them a flop. Injuries happen all the time, it is no way anyone’s fault that they do.

        • Ron Fulton

          Baker was the worst managet in Reds history. Can’t manage men look at his decisions. He took a good club and made it worse. Ludwick had one good season in 2012 even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while. I’m not talking about performance with Ludwick, Broxton and Marshall, I’m referring to salary. All way overpaid and Walt admits it.

          • Jesse Borek

            Again, Dusty took his team to the Postseason three of the last four years, hardly the worst manager in history.

            He took over in 2008, after the team had gone 72-90, and the year after he left they won 90 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1978-79.

            As far as Ludwick getting “lucky,” one does not trip upon hitting 26 homeruns and driving in 80 runs. A squirrel with a nut or whatever that comparison was, would be equivalent of me singling off Aroldis Chapman once out of a hundred at-bats, not hitting .275 with 26 long balls.

  • Ron Fulton

    Jocketty is a moron after last years gaffes. I agree with everything you said in your article. After re-signing Baker, gutting our minor leagues, failed to replace Ludwick when he went down, failed to stop the Byrd trade to the Pirates and overpaying Ludwick, Broxton, Marshall and even Hannahan, and this year he tries to get a backup for a guy who needs all the confidence we can give him when we already have two players who can play center. What the hell is wrong with Bob C. He’s got to know this guy is a bum and should be fired. All the Reds need is a power hitter in the 3 hole, move Votto to the 2 hole to help Hamilton and move Chapman to the starting rotation Jock strap do your job and get us that 3 hole hitter.

  • al11

    pretty good ‘take’ there, jared. the one thing I’d point out in addition…while I am going to continue to question just how ready Hamilton is offensively…is this. on defense he should be very good and just get better. on the bases, he’s already ‘ready’. and at the plate, let’s say he goes .235 with an obp of .300 or so, and toss in a bunch of ‘leg’ doubles and triples. how is this so bad when you have to wonder if sizemore or anyone else actually both available and affordable as ‘backup’ would do much better, even if they hit .270? I see this more and more as a solid and very decent ‘gamble’ by the reds to simply give Hamilton the job and do nothing more than be consistent with him in supporting his efforts to improve.