The Cincinnati Reds could be close to making the playoffs, if they decided they wanted to plan for it.
The first thing the Cincinnati Reds need is an RBI producer who can play second and bat fourth. The line-up looks best be the second baseman bats clean-up. That isn’t Brandon Phillips, but rather Dilson Herrera or maybe Jose Peraza.
The Reds need to give up fewer home runs. Some of that would be due to increased health by the pitchers. What the Reds need is a catcher who can help Devin Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart call a better game.
The bullpen needs to lean on Michael Lorenzen heavily. He is the rare reliever that can regularly pitch multiple innings. There should be no hesitancy to regularly allow Lorenzen to pitch two inning saves.
The Reds need one more legitimate veteran starter to compete in 2017 and wanted to get one at the Winter Meetings. Their most tradable excess talent in this scenario is Raisel Iglesias. By excess the one person, who can be moved to get something back that will be missed the least, is Iglesias since Lorenzen is the cornerstone of the bullpen.
They also need to make sure that their bullpen doesn’t get too young. Right now Tony Cingrani is the bullpen veteran. He isn’t that veteran or that used to the bullpen.
That’s what the Reds can do to take what they have to make it to the playoffs in 2017, but there are somethings that they can’t control. What the Reds can’t control has stopped them from competing in the past few years. Those are the things that make the Reds conservative in the rebuild.
The Cincinnati Reds cannot control health, other teams, or player development and that scares the front office.
The first reason that the Reds are not going for it is Homer Bailey. If Bailey is a 25 inning pitcher again this season, the Reds won’t have enough starting pitcher to stay afloat in the ultra-competitive National League Central. The Reds have been non-committal on his status for the starter of the 2017 season.
The second reason is that there is an internal battle about bullpen usage within the organization. They talk about using Lorenzen and Iglesias as multi-inning closers, but also about giving Cingrani a chance to win the closer’s role in spring training. What the Cleveland Indians did in the playoffs is not replicatable in the regular season, but the flexibility could be.
The third thing that scares the Reds is the Chicago Cubs’ talent. Between the Cubs and the Saint Louis Cardinals, there isn’t much room for error. If the Reds make a go of it, they would have to overcome at least one of the juggernauts.
The Reds won’t go for it is because they can’t tell if the next generation of players will be ready in a year or two to support the players that don’t price themselves off of the Reds. This is what makes running a small market club so challenging.
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The Reds need to realize that those players who aren’t in the plans long-term are like poker chips. Those are the assets that you can afford to take chances with. The Reds need to be doing this, just like they theoretically did with Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman last year.