The Reds’ four-man outfield rotation lasted all of just two months. Its demise was catalyzed by exactly the kind of short-sighted ass-headed decision that can hamstring the hell out of this rebuild.
Before today’s game, manager Jim Riggleman announced that Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, and Scott Schebler will be your full-time starting outfield for now with Jesse Winker sitting the bench.
Four-man outfield is a three-man outfield for now. Riggleman says #Reds will play Schebler and Duvall to see if they can get going. Hamilton will continue in CF— John Fay (@johnfayman) May 30, 2018
Riggleman on why Winker’s out? “I think if it was Schebler, we'd say the same thing. If it was Duvall, the same question. Basically, I think none of them have really hit yet like they're capable. Schebler and Duvall's defense is probably a little bit ahead of Winker.”— John Fay (@johnfayman) May 30, 2018
My initial reaction to this was abject stupification. Upon reflection though, I’m really pissed off, too.
Riggleman seems to be saying that the mitigating factor here is that Winker’s defense hasn’t been as good as the others. Nobody is hitting, you see, so he is going to run out a lineup with all of his best gloves. In the abstract, you might be able to squint and make a half-hearted attempt to rationalize this. If the Reds were in second place and looking kinda sorta in it, I’d still hate this. But I don’t think I would have called it monumentally stupid. When every game counts, you have to try to make the most of every game in the here-and-now.
All of that completely ignores the specific situation in which this organization finds itself. The team is 19-36, in last place, and very obviously not going anywhere else this season. In fact, most everyone had conceded as such at the beginning of the season. 2018 was to be spent cultivating the young talent, solidifying a healthy and effective rotation, and evaluating the club to prepare to move towards relevance for the 2019 season. Whether the Reds win 60 games or 70 games makes no difference. The Reds need to find out who is on board already for the next Good Reds Team. So who is it among Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker?
Duvall is 29. He has 1600 career PAs. He hits for some power and nothing else. We know who he is.
Billy Hamilton is 27. He has 2300 career PAs. He runs like an animal and nothing else. We know who he is.
Scott Schebler is 27. He has 1000 career PAs. He hits for some power and not much else. He could still make some improvements, so I won’t say we know who he is. But we kinda know who he is.
Jesse Winker is 24. He has just 300 career PAs. He is one of the team’s top hitting prospects and we have no clue if he is a legit major leaguer yet.
This isn’t difficult. Winker needs to play. The only way he is going to improve on his hitting and his defense is if he gets reps.
Also, Jim Riggleman is just the interim manager. What the hell is he doing making these kinds of decisions that can have a long-term impact on the club? Or, I suppose I should say I hope it is just Riggleman making this decision. If this came from the top down, I’d be super double hella pissed.
If I am Dick Williams and Nick Krall, I tell Jim Riggleman that the kid has to stay in the lineup. And then Riggleman wakes up tomorrow with a horse’s head in his bed.
I think this is the stupidest decision the Reds have made in a decade or so. I don’t think I’ve felt this way since Willy Taveras got a two-year contract.
Here are the WAR numbers for the four outfielders:— John Fay (@johnfayman) May 30, 2018
This decision was not Riggleman’s alone. He met with GM Nick Krall and special assistant Buddy Bell. #reds
It looks like this objectively stupid and detrimental decision has the blessing of the front office, too. Now I’m super double hella pissed.