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.