It isn't really right to call something provocative or galling when it's both the obvious truth and already widely acknowledged. So, you shouldn't really have a guttural reaction to Cincinnati Reds COO Phil Castellini saying that the team finally expects to compete again by the time the 2018 season rolls around. I mean, we knew that already, right? We knew that when Todd Frazier was traded last winter for a trio of players, none of whom currently occupy a spot on the 25-man roster. We knew that when both Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce were as good as traded, when Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, and Mike Leake all began suiting up in other jerseys.
That the rebuild was happening all around us was obvious. The "reboot" became trite the very moment it began. Still, hearing that the 2017 season isn't even on the table from a voice that high up in the front office does put some stamp of finality on it all, one that cements that we'll be watching baseball in a very different way for the next 291 games. We won't be watching Eugenio Suarez to see if he fields a hot shot at 3B, we'll be watching to see if he's got the kind of footwork that will let him get to a hot shot in 2018. We won't be watching Brandon Finnegan to see if he strikes out a batter with a pinpoint change-up, we'll watch how much his change-up moves and tell ourselves another year and a half of repetition will surely give him enough experience to hit his spots down the road.
Castellini's admission is both refreshing in its honesty and jarring given how far off it still seems. Still, looking that far to the future during a dark-days rebuild only works if there are tangible pieces already in place that look like they'll be able to fulfill those plans. Fortunately, the Reds can claim that, as they're not on-pace for 98 losses with a cupboard that's wholly bare. The pitching staff is banged up, but it's young, deep, and terrifically talented. Jose Peraza and Jesse Winker are busting heads in AAA, and Suarez, Finnegan, and Cody Reed have given us hope that the trades yet to come may be as fruitful as the ones already made.
The 2014 season was awful with a turnaround nowhere in sight. What Phil Castellini said on Tuesday is that the 2016 season will be awful with a very, very bright spotlight at the end of the tunnel - just that the tunnel's a bit longer than you were hoping for. Be mad about it if you want, but I'm focusing on the fact that the people in charge of the team I follow are logical, frank, and realistic. And I'm already kicking around potential 2018 lineups.
In other news, MLB.com's Kevin Goheen spoke with Zack Cozart about his success on the heels of the massive knee injury he sustained just eleven months ago. I've got no idea where Cozart fits into the Reds' readily apparent long-term plans, but I'm damn ecstatic that he has not just recovered from such a terrible incident, he's flourished. He's long been one of my favorite Reds to watch play due to his rock solid defense, but a gap-to-gap bat paired with that kind of glove is the stuff my dream roster is made of.
Yesterday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was bagged, as you know, and Mother Nature probably couldn't have wreaked havoc at a better time for the Reds. With the rehabs of Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, and Jon Moscot on hold and Raisel Iglesias nursing what could be a serious shoulder injury, what to do with the rotation and roster when John Lamb's next turn rolled around was a big question for Bryan Price & the front office. Fortunately, Alfredo Simon will go tonight after his scheduled start last night was postponed, and that paired with Thursday's off-day will allow Lamb's spot to get skipped, exactly the recipe the Reds needed for both Lamb's thumb and the stability of the overall roster.
In case you missed it, Devin Mesoraco had that scheduled surgery to repair the labrum in his left shoulder, and when the doctors got in there to survey the damage, they found it was actually much worse than initially imagined. That means his recovery time is now six months instead of four, as C. Trent Rosecrans of The Enquirer noted, meaning his 2016 season is effectively over. That means that in the first two years of the 4 year, $28 million extension agreed to by Mes and the Reds after his breakout 2014, the would-be everyday backstop has hit a combined .158/.245/.200 in 106 PA, with more HBPs (1) than HRs (0), as many GIDPs (3) as XBHs (3), and a pair of major season-ending surgeries. There's still $20.45 million left on the final two years of that contract, too.
Finally, Rosecrans also spoke with Billy Hamilton about his newfound hitting routine featuring none other than Joey Votto. Hamilton mentioned how his confidence has grown since Votto took serious interest in seeing him flourish, and how that's increased his willingness to keep switch hitting (despite many druthers, including his own). There's still a well of untapped potential in Hamilton, and perhaps the next 291 games that don't appear to matter in the standings are exactly what he needs to let that simmer to the surface.