The season is dead.
Long live the season.
John Fay kicked his keyboard into offseason mode this morning, turning in an entry for his groundbreaking new Enquirer blog Fay Blog that focused on Bryan Price and his first year as the manager of any club, let alone the Cincinnati Reds. Fay got some solid insight from Price, particularly about things he did in the second half that were different than at the start of the season. It's difficult to pull the specifics of the season out and pair them with that statement, though, as it implies that he either used a player in a different role or even benched someone that didn't think they deserved it. Who really got benched in the second half? Ryan Ludwick? Is he talking about moving Jay Bruce down in the order? Skip's injury finally knocked him out of the lineup, so that wasn't a managerial feeling-hurting decision. See if you can figure out what Price is speaking of, and hash it out in the comments.
Fay also chimed in yesterday with quotes from Price and GM Walt Jocketty about the failures of the 2014 team and what changes will be needed prior to the start of 2015. The biggest takeaway here, I think, is that Walt understands that the team needs upgrades and isn't willing to just sit back and let the injured players get healthy. Sure, he's banking on that, too, but it doesn't appear to be the sole ingredient to his winter of GMing. I think that got lost a bit on a lot of people when Walt was extended as the club's GM. He's well aware of the failures of this season and keenly aware that a roster overhaul of some degree needs to happen; he wasn't brought back with the mindset that nothing was wrong and that a healthy status quo has 2015 primed for success.
Speaking of that roster, here's a handy listing of the current roster with each players' contract situation.
Have we been completely spoiled by having Aroldis Chapman around for a few years? As Manny Randhawa noted for MLB.com, Chapman just turned in the most ridiculous season ever by a reliever, shattering record after record while striking out everyone he saw. Looking back on things, a bigger deal should've been made about that than has been, especially with the context of Chapman's horrific injury in Spring Training. The Let Him Start campaign has long since faded, and while it will be one of the greatest mysteries of my life wondering what he could have been capable going every five days, it's worth noting that the way he's been handled by the Reds front office really should really be commended, too. He's been ridiculous and ridiculously successful at what he's been asked to do, and it's going to make it really difficult to see him making $20 million a year as the Yankees closer in a few seasons.
In fact, Chapman faced 37 batters at least twice this season and struck out 31 of them at least once and 15 of them at least twice. Jordy Mercer went 0 for 6 with 6 Ks against Chapman, and Freddie Freeman, Gaby Sanchez, Justin Upton, Mike Morse, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Jason Heyward, Justin Morneau, Anthony Rendon, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, and Andrew McCutchen combined to go 0 for 23 with 23 Ks. It's all just deliciously ridiculous.
In other news, Ichiro has no plans to retire this offseason. Ichiro for LF/leadoff!
The MLB Playoffs Playoff plays off beginning tonight, as the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics will play each other after the season to determine who gets to actually play in what's actually called the postseason. I think. Big Game James Shields will take the hill for the Royals in their first after-the-season game since 1985, and he'll be opposed by Jon Lester of Oakland, which still seems weird to type. Post-season-pre-postseason baseball that doesn't include the Reds is tough for some, but cathartic for others, and I'll certainly be watching. I'm sure we'll have a thread up for the games at some point, too (/looks around, /shrugs shoulders).
Oh, look. A-Rod isn't suspended anymore. I'm sure we won't hear much about that circus for the next godawful number of months.