Losing as winning is a brain-bending concept, especially for a team that has shown in recent weeks and months that times rosier than those of the past two years may well be on the horizon. As The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans noted in today’s B.A.R., however, sometimes notching a few more wins comes at a cost that’s much, much larger than the marginal value added.
Baseball's draft position isn't wholly pinned to picking before other teams, as Rosecrans mentioned; quite possibly the more important piece of the puzzle comes in the scaled bonus pools associated with drafting higher. Just last year, for example, there was no consensus top overall pick, and a player many thought may well go as the first overall pick - OF Kyle Lewis - fell all the way to 11th overall when the Seattle Mariners selected him. The Reds, of course, selected Nick Senzel with the #2 overall pick, a player with very similar overall grade as Lewis, as the top tier of this year's draftable players was relatively deep. The kicker, however, was that the Reds were able to get a player from that class with an overall draft budget of some $13.9 million, while the Mariners landed one with a budget nearly $7 million smaller.
In other words, if you can get a guy projected to go anywhere from 1 to 11 with a $14 million budget instead of a $7 million budget, the difference in the money saved over the first rounder's suggested signing value and the overall budget allows the bigger-budget team to throw over-slot money at more guys later in the draft, which is exactly how the Cincinnati Reds managed to land Taylor Trammell this year despite him leaning heavily towards going to college instead. Since there appears to be no consensus elite top tier in the 2017 MLB Draft and there are several teams in tight contention for the worst records in the league this year, one additional wins over the final dozen+ games of this year may have millions of dollars of impact down the road.
In other news, Doug Gray pondered what the Reds should do with Adam Duvall given that the second half of his season has been considerably less powerful than his breakout first half. Duvall has seen his walk rate improve, but that's at least partly due to his being pitches less in the zone than when he was an unknown at the start of the season, and while that's nice to have seen, it's corresponded with declining numbers elsewhere than may not support that overall change of approach. Factor in that Duvall is already 28 years old, that Jesse Winker just had a relatively solid first AAA campaign, and that Scott Schebler has mauled since returning from AAA, and it's at least fair to wonder how tied the Reds will be to Duvall going forward. My best guess is the obvious one, that Duvall, Billy Hamilton, and Schebler will open 2017 as the Reds OF while Winker marinates in Louisville long enough to miss the Super Two cutoff, at which point the team will get to make a bit of a tough decision in regards to OF playing time.
Big news came from our buddies at Redleg Nation, who announced that they've just finished writing a book. Chad Dotson has more on that here, and stay tuned for when it hits the shelves.
C. Trent also checked in on the banged up portion of the Reds over the weekend, and it really doesn't sound promising that we'll see any of Hamilton, Homer Bailey, or Zack Cozart for the rest of the dwindling year. All told, that's probably the prudent thing, though it's a serious bummer to see Cozart fighting soreness in his surgically repaired knee since he's probably the Red on the trade block with the most value this offseason. Knee pain and finishing the year on the bench isn't exactly going to augment that, I wouldn't think.
Finally, Joey Votto's ball-busting Sunday means his 2nd half batting average now sits at a tidy .412 as he attempts to become the first MLB regular to hit over .400 a 2nd half since Ichiro in 2004. His .412/.498/.649 line in 257 PA since the All Star break is freaking ridiculous. Quite possibly the juiciest stat in that 59 game timeframe, however, is the absurd 41/28 walk to strikeout ratio, especially considering he was up against the highest K-rate of his career earlier this season. It's something Beyond the Boxscore's Ryan Romano looked at last week in a larger piece about Votto's greatness, and it's certainly worth a read and a chuckle. We've been watching greatness in Votto for quite some time, folks.