It took just a day after Brandon Phillips was traded from the Cincinnati Reds for manager Bryan Price to offer up how he intends to replace the three-time All Star in his lineup this year. In comments made to the beats on the very day pitchers & catchers reported to the team complex in Goodyear, AZ, Price held little behind the veil by stating that Jose Peraza would take over at 2B for now, with stalwart SS Zack Cozart still commanding his everyday role.
Ever-wise FanGraphs’ scribe Jeff Sullivan had quite the interesting take in the wake of that announcement, giving a great look into the characteristics that have defined Peraza early in his career - and how those compare to what Phillips has provided of late for Cincinnati. While there’s admittedly a lot of grief and flustering about the end of Phillips’ great 11 year run with the Reds, there’s also about as little hype around Peraza at the moment as with any young player off an initial performance like his as I think I can remember.
Perhaps it’s the overall malaise of the rebuild, or the three consecutive losing seasons, but something tells me we ought to be a bit more excited about a still 22 year old fresh off a .324/.352/.411 campaign in his 256 PA, especially given his game-changing speed (21 steals in 72 games). It’s likely that the team’s need to shuffle him around the diamond as often as they did diminished our ability to get used to seeing what he can do everyday, since we rarely saw him in the same position two days in a row. Now that it seems clear we’ll get that opportunity beginning in 2017, the frustration many of you feel about the trading of a franchise icon just might be able to be replaced by some optimism surrounding a guy who not too long ago was ranked among the better prospects in all of baseball.
Phillips, by the way, hit .310 with a .357 OBP in his first 258 PAs with the Reds back in 2006, with 14 bags swiped in the 67 games played in that time.
Finding time for Dilson Herrera won’t be quite as easy, but it does now appear he may get looks in a utility role similar to Peraza’s from last year. He’s been pretty exclusively a 2B in his professional career, but in speaking with MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, he intimated that getting reps around the diamond to get playing time is something he’s willing to work on. This seems like more of a pecking order situation than a statement that Peraza is a better 2B than Herrera and should stay there, and it seems clear that Peraza’s merely first on the list for any open PAs ahead of Herrera.
Herrera, if I’m reading things correctly, is on his last option year, after all. That means that by 2018, he’ll have to be on the big league roster for good without the ability to cleanly be sent back to Louisville, so finding any way to get him PAs at the big league level this year - even in a limited or utility role - is key in all of this, too. The trade of Phillips at least allows some of that to happen, but the eventual departure of Cozart should finally open time for both Peraza and Herrera. At the latest, that will happen at the end of this year, but the idea of trading Cozart is still something the Reds seem to be considering. The only problem with that, as Redleg Nation looked at yesterday, is that the trade market for shortstops at the moment is as quiet as it could possibly be.
It looks like early June is the current, next, now relevant, new-ish target date for Homer Bailey’s latest return, according to The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans. If that seems like a heckuva lot longer away than the initial 4-6 week window kicked around when we found out about his bone spur surgery, it does - at least initially. Turns out that 4-6 week window wasn’t the timeline for his return; rather, that’s the amount of time he’ll be idled before being able to ramp up his usual Spring Training regimen. So, if you back that up 6 weeks, and that backs up the date he’s ready to ‘begin’ his regular season 6 weeks, that places you right around the end of May. So, there’s that, which doesn’t exactly instill a ton of confidence in anything Homer-related at the moment.
That means there will be more than just token starts available to the young arms in the system early this season, something Sheldon noted in his first Spring Training roundup yesterday. Each of Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Tim Adleman, and Amir Garrett will have the opportunity to claim spots in the rotation behind Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Scott Feldman, and there’s a decent bit to like about that kind of talent in that open of a competition. Hell, each of Reed, Bob Steve, and Garrett have been quite highly regarded prospects for years in various fashions, which gives hopes that we might actually see a very talented pitcher not just win a spot, but grab it by the huevos and never look back. At just about their age, that’s exactly what Johnny Cueto and a healthier Bailey did (eventually).
Former fearless leader Joel Luckhaupt joined us for an episode of the RR Podcast last night (which will be up in a few days), but when he’s not been busy casting pods, he’s been dropping his usual great baseball fact-finds on his Twitter feed. Included among them is this nugget, which is simply beautiful.
The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan joined the guys behind the Effectively Wild podcast to talk about the upcoming Reds’ season, and I highly suggest you give it a listen if you’ve got a few spare minutes.
Speaking of Zach, he broke news just minutes ago that the Reds had claimed RHP Nefi Ogando from the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a corresponding move yet to be announced. Ogando, 27, owns a 3.66 ERA in 19.2 career big league IP split between the Phillies and Marlins, and was with the Pirates since late December (when they claimed him from Miami).
Finally, the Reds' first Spring Training game is just a week from Friday against the San Francisco Brisbees. That's just 10 days away. And now I'm seriously, seriously considering getting my butt back down to Goodyear.