Cincinnati Reds State Of The Union: Is 2014 The Year?

The Cincinnati Reds are coming off of a heartbreaking season, losing in the one game playoff to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They finished third in the National League Central after winning the division in 2012. Manager Dusty Baker has been fired so the search is on for the next guy to take this team to the promise land. The Reds will most likely lose Shin-Soo Choo to free agency, and put Billy Hamilton in center field for 2014. Is 2014 the year of the Reds?

The Cincinnati Reds are coming off of a heartbreaking season, losing in the one game playoff to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They finished third in the National League Central after winning the division in 2012. Manager Dusty Baker had to be fired so a new manager could take this team to the promise land. Cincys will most likely lose Shin-Soo Choo to Free Agency, and put Billy Hamilton in center field next campaign. Is 2014 the year of the Reds?

BY Ryan Ritchey (Featured Baseball Columnist): 

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For the Cincinnati Reds 2013 ended in a disappointment. The Reds won 90 games once again, finishing 3rd in the National League Central, but couldn’t get past the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card.

Right after the season the Reds manager Dusty Baker was fired. I could write a full post just on Dusty Baker and how many things he did right/wrong but I won’t get into that.

Billy Hamilton steals 4 bases in his 1st four Games

Bryan Price seems to be the lead candidate to replace Baker. He has no managerial experience, but has done a very nice job running the pitching staff. We will have to wait and see what Reds management does, but in my opinion, they need to get someone outside of the organization.

Bryan Price may not have been the sexiest  candidate to replace Baker – but he does know the current pitching staff. He has no managerial experience, but has done a very nice job running the club’s pitching staff. We will have to wait and see if the Reds made the right choice or not.  Price has been around several successful teams record wise – with Cincinnati and also the Mariners.  The Reds had no choice to make the move after the franchise had had three straight 1st RD exits in the postseason.

Lets hope that Price agrees with the  new ways of thinking about the game. Not a manager that bunts every time he gets a chance.

Bunting kills your percentage of scoring multiple runs in an inning, just ask Brian Kenny. The Reds have plenty of talent on their roster, they just need someone to lead them to the promise land.

Looking at the Reds starting line-up for 2014, you will see a lot of familiar faces.

The infield will stay the same around the horn, Todd Frazier at 3B (Pre-Arbitration 3), Zack Cozart SS (Pre-Arbitration 3), Brandon Phillips 2B ($11 Million) and Joey Votto 1B ($12 Million).

The outfield is a totally different story. Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo will most likely sign elsewhere, as the Reds front office won’t have enough money to pay him.

Billy Hamilton was an offensive weapon for the club during the stretch for Cincinnati in 2013.  What is great about him would be his infectious energy.  The club would be wise to have him play the whole year in the big leagues, especially if the team loses Choo in the offseason.  While he is still improving on his defensive play in the OF, his speed will make up for it.

Billy Hamilton was an offensive weapon for the club during the stretch for Cincinnati in 2013. What is great about him would be his infectious energy. The club would be wise to have him play the whole year in the big leagues, especially if the team loses Choo in the offseason. While he is still improving on his defensive play in the OF, his speed will make up for it.  Hamilton can be a game changer in any contest, but it will be how far he can improve as a hitter each year.  This is another reason why I like if the team were to hit Votto up the lineup – right behind Hamilton if he were to leadoff.  His patience at the plate would allow for maximizing his Stolen Base Attempts.

In Left Field expect to see a healthy Ryan Ludwick ($8.5 Million), in Center Field a very young, but talented Billy Hamilton and finally in Right Field Jay Bruce ($10 Million).

The numbers in parentheses is the money owed in 2014. The Reds are  dishing out a third of their payroll to three players and I haven’t even gotten to the pitching staff yet.

The club’s front office is putting a lot of money and trust into those three players. Brandon Phillips is making the second most money on the team because he drove in 100 runs.

Everyone sees that and forgets that he hit .261, OBP of .310.

On top of that Phillips grounded into more double players in September than he had those precious RBI.

To wrap it all up Phillips hit a whopping .211 in the month of September, when the Reds needed him most. I could do another full post on Phillips but I will save that for another day.

There have been reports that the Reds might try to move Phillips to get money to try to re-sign Choo. This would be a smart move by the Reds front office if it can happen.

The franchise won’t be able to replace Choo’s offensive production next season if he does end up somewhere else.

On the other end of it, you will lose some defense at second base, but there are plenty of second basemen that can hit .260.

Johnny Cueto was only able to stay healthy on the mound for 11 Game Starts in 2013.  It is obvious the club will need more production from him considering perennial 200 IP+ Veteran Bronson Arroyo is leaving the club's fold.  Cueto has featured great ERA's in the last 3 years, by going 2.31. 2.78 and 2.82.  The 27 Year Old had his best season in 2012, going 19 - 9, and starting an NL leading 33 Games.  He finished 4th in NL Cy Young Voting.

Johnny Cueto was only able to stay healthy on the mound for 11 Game Starts in 2013. It is obvious the club will need more production from him considering perennial 200 IP+ Veteran Bronson Arroyo is leaving the club’s fold. Cueto has featured great ERA’s in the last 3 years, by going 2.31. 2.78 and 2.82. The 27 Year Old had his best season in 2012, going 19 – 9, and starting an NL leading 33 Games. He finished 4th in NL Cy Young Voting.

The pitching staff is owed a lot of money as well. Johnny Cueto is owed $10 Million after only pitching a total of 64 innings in 2013.

Not a good sign going forward for the Reds. Mat Latos really stepped up when needed during the regular season, but was injured when it came to October. He is owed $7.25 Million.

Matt Latos was overlooked in the NL for the Cy Young Voting.  He went 14 - 7, with a 3.16 ERA in 32 Game Starts and 210.2 IP.  The about to be 26 year old (Dec.9, 2013) has been very steady over the last 4 years combines, averaging almost 200 IP per year, and fanning near a batter per inning.  Latos may take over the reigns as the Cincinatti Reds top pitcher in 2014.

Matt Latos was overlooked in the NL for the Cy Young Voting. He went 14 – 7, with a 3.16 ERA in 32 Game Starts and 210.2 IP. The about to be 26 year old (Dec.9, 2013) has been very steady over the last 4 years combines, averaging almost 200 IP per year, and fanning near a batter per inning. Latos may take over the reigns as the Cincinnati Reds top pitcher in 2014.

Sean Marshall was injured for more than three fourths of the season and he will make $5.5 Million in 2014. I could go on and on about the injuries and players not producing enough, but then I will get called a “bad fan”.

I’m not a bad fan, I’m a realist that has come to realize that the Reds are going nowhere with the leadership in place.

Is 2014 the Year of the Reds? I want it to be yes, but do I think it will be, no. There are too many guys on this team playing for themselves and no one else.

They would rather try to hit a home run with no one out and somebody on second, than try to hit the ball to the right side to advance the runner for the next guy to drive him in.

The hustle is ehh on most days and the energy is pathetic. When watching a game I feel like I am watching paint dry because the energy is so low.

Joey Votto might not be hitting with the same kind of authority as a few years back, however he still had a 3 Slash of .305/.436 (led NL)/.926 - with 24 HRs and 73 RBI in 2013.  He also was in the lead the NL in GP (162), PA (726). BB (135).  The club doesn't want to change too much about the 30 Year Old Canadian First Baseman's game, but may he should be propelled to hit closer to the top of the lineup considering his high Walk rate and average.  Would it be worth trying to hit him 1st or 2nd?

Joey Votto might not be hitting with the same kind of authority as a few years back, however he still had a 3 Slash of .305/.436 (led NL)/.926 – with 24 HRs and 73 RBI in 2013. He also was in the lead the NL in GP (162), PA (726) and BB (135). The club doesn’t want to change too much about the 30 Year Old Canadian First Baseman’s game, but may he should be propelled to hit closer to the top of the lineup considering his high Walk rate and average. Would it be worth trying to hit him 1st or 2nd?

It has something to do with the fans at the ball park, but again that is a whole other post. The Reds will have a huge step forward in 2014, but not enough to get over the hump.

Most likely not having Shin-Soo Choo will really hurt, as the offense will go from decent to terrible with him leaving.

Joey Votto will continue to be pitched around, via intentional or just normal walks.  The club will need great seasons from Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce hitting behind him.

The changes will not be that severe to the club, yet maybe they will add a Veteran starter on the staff, perhaps a late inning reliever. 

This team must see organizational players improve within for the team to keep its upward trajectory in a Division with the Cardinals and Bucs.

Tony Cingrani developing into a solid Rotation guy, Hamilton playing to his capability – and renaissance years from Phillips (or assets acquired for him – and Ludwick) would go a long way to see the team make another post season push, – and to advance this time around.

Brandon Phillips is a Gold Glove Caliber player, and until last year, his career numbers had steadily rising.  While the 32 Year Old Veteran knocked in 103 RBI, and blasted exactly 18 HRs for the 4th straight year, he featured an OPS of .706, his worst output by far during the last 8 years he has been a FULL - TIME player.  This only begs the question, how successful is he going to be if the club doesn't resign high OBP man Choo.  The Reds will continue to dangle the Second Baseman in the trade waters, and could potentially free up money towards resigning Choo with the dollars saved.

Brandon Phillips is a Gold Glove Caliber player, and until last year, his career numbers had steadily rising. While the 32 Year Old Veteran knocked in 103 RBI, and blasted exactly 18 HRs for the 4th straight year, he featured an OPS of .706, his worst output by far during the last 8 years he has been a FULL – TIME player. This only begs the question, how successful is he going to be if the club doesn’t resign high OBP man Choo. The Reds will continue to dangle the Second Baseman in the trade waters, and could potentially free up money towards resigning Choo with the dollars saved.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners ***

For all of the Rosters, Depth Charts, State of the Unions and Salaries Posts that we do, please visit our dedicated page link here.

A big thank-you goes out to Our ‘Featured Baseball Columnist‘ Ryan Ritchey for preparing today’s featured article.  Ryan is a Baseball Writer for MLB reports. He is a sophomore at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky.

Ryan is a huge fan of Barry Larkin and Brandon Phillips  He has been a baseball fan his whole life and has been writing about baseball since his freshman year of High School.

You can reach Ryan on Twitter  

a ryan ritchey

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Posted on December 4, 2013, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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