Owner: Bob Castellini, $400 million
World Series Titles: 1919, 1940, 1975, 1976, 1990.
Greatest Player: C Johnny Bench
Division: NL Central
Payroll: 26th, $79,264.500.
2022 Result: 62-100, tied with Pirates for last.
General Manager: Nick Krall.
Manager: David Bell, 50; Record: 251-295.
Home Field: Great American Ball Park, capacity, 43,500.
Key Additions: With the budget always being the primary concern, it’s not surprising that the Reds key addition is a 32-year-old outfield coming off a knee injury. Wil Myers, the 2013 Rookie of the Year and 2016, is not close to being that player. He was limited to 77 games for the Padres, with a slash line of .261/.215/398. Myers might have a bounce back season. He played the final two months of last season, and he has had success (4 home runs, .265/.329/.471) in Great American Ball Park.
Key Losses: Wow, where to start? Starting pitchers Luis Castillo (4-4 with a 2.86
ERA) and Tyler Mahle (5-7, 4.40) ate up about 190 innings. Losing Tommy Pham (11), Tyler Naquin (7) and especially Brandon Drury (20) leaves the Reds with a lineup truly lacking power, especially if first baseman Joe Votto can come back from injury. The losses reflect what’s been happening in Cincinnati of late – when players get close to free agency, or management thinks there’s a younger, less expensive option, their either traded or lost in free agency.
Key Injury: Votto has been the face of the franchise. Like the franchise, Votto didn’t look that good last season after shoulder woes limited him to 91 games. He batted .205 with 11 home runs, a far cry from his career averages of .297 and 21 home runs. Some teams (Yankees? Astros?) and withstand the loss of their power king (and highest paid position player). The Reds can’t. Votto has said he’s ready to go. Reds fans can only hope so.
Prospect alert: If Reds fans need a reason to come to the stadium, they have it in Elly De La Cruz, a 21-year-old shortstop-third baseman who’s a switch hitter. It’s not just that the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Dominican is dripping with talent. De Le Cruz plays the game with an enthusiasm and passion that is as endearing as watching Little League baseball.
De La Cruz could win the starting shortstop job by the end of the season. He’s worth the price of admission.
Scouting Report:Over/Under Wins: 65.5, last place in NL Central.
The Reds are trying to build a competitive team the only way they know how. They’re top three starters in 2022 were rookies. Hunter Greene (23) went 5-13 but struck out 164 batters in just 125.2 innings. Nick Lodolo (25), who’s projector as the No.1 starter, went 4-7 with a 3.66 ERA and struck out 103 in 131 innings. And Graham Ashcraft (25) went 5-6 with a 4.89 ERA and struck out 71 in 105 innings.
Many franchises would love to have three young starters but the drop off is steep after that. The No.5 starter is up for grabs. So, Cincy needs the Big Young 3 to be good in an overwhelming number of starts.
They need De La Cruz to develop quicker than expected, become a starter, than a star. They need CF Nick Senzel (27) to stay healthy and realize his potential. They need LF TJ Friedl (27) to take the next step. And although pitching beats hitting, is it better for the possible strength of the team to be three young starters pitching in a hitter’s park?
In other words, they need a lot to go right to even compete with the Cardinals and Brewers at the top of the division.
BetBasics Best Bet:
We feel for franchises like the Reds who are at a major competitive disadvantage. Great America Ball Park was built in 2003 and no longer great, if it ever was. It certainly is great for hitters, not so much for pitchers because of the cozy dimensions – 328 to left (12-foot wall), 404 to center and 325 to right (8-foot wall).
The payroll is 26th in the league and the local TV and radio rights are a sliver of what large-market teams command. No wonder why the Reds, once known as The Big Red Machine, winning back-to-back World Series in 1975-76 haven’t won a championship since 1990. It didn’t help that Phil Castellini, the owner’s son, and team president, ripped fans for complaining about the team losing talent to larger market franchises.
“If you wanna look at what would you have this team do to have it be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists, it would be to pick it up and move it somewhere else,” he said. “And, so, be careful what you ask for.”
Ouch! Talk about speaking pain to truth. But he’s correct. The Reds are hoping for the young pitchers and veterans such as Myers can somehow form a winning team. Not likely. The Reds over/under for wins is 65.5. We’ll eagerly take the under and remind Phil to reconsider statements that offend the very people who support the franchise.