The Chicago Cubs won the damn World Series in 2016. You might have heard about it. That tied a bow on a remarkable 103 regular season for them, one that sits sandwiched between a pair of National League Championship Series appearances from both 2015 and 2017. Last year, they only won 95 games, finished second in the NL Central to the Milwaukee Brewers, and crashed out of the playoffs in the one-game wild card matchup.
(Thanks for that, Rockies.)
I’m 100% certain you’ve landed on this page looking for nothing other than boatloads of praise on the division rivals of the Cincinnati Reds. With that in mind, let’s turn to the 2019 PECOTA projections for the NL Central, which were released by Baseball Prospectus just yesterday. For you less clicky, more visual folks, here’s MLB.com’s Jamal Collier’s tweet with a neat, clean graphic for the NL teams.
Well then. It would appear that the supercomputers at B-Pro seem to think the powerhouse Cubs look a grand total of a game better than the revamped Reds in 2019, in part because both will ply their trades in perhaps the most brutal division in all of baseball. Yes, it has the Reds at an even .500, an 81-81 club that only looks the part of the fourth best in the five team division. Both Milwaukee and St. Louis will likely be demons in the division once again, and despite their distinct lack of significant moves this winter, I fully expect the Cubs to compete wholeheartedly in the Central this year, too.
The fact is, though, that for the first time in seemingly epochs, someone smarter than us thinks the Reds stand a puncher’s chance to do some punching, too. That’s what Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Sonny Gray, Nick Senzel, Derek Johnson, and Turner Ward can do for a struggling club, it would appear.
What’s cool, too, is that B-Pro is hardly the only sentient life form out there observing what has gone on in the baseball world. In fact, Jonah Keri has smelled what the Reds are cooking lately, too. Over at CBS Sports, he spoke at length with Johnson - the Reds new pitching coach - about how Cincinnati has revamped not only their starting pitching staff at the highest level, but is hoping to rework everything about how they pitch in general. Considering the conflagration that has been Reds pitching for a half-decade, it was a much, much needed overhaul, and we should all be incredibly excited to see how Johnson, David Bell, & Co. go about making the pitching staff an asset, not a liability. Keri and Johnson specifically highlight young stud Luis Castillo, who despite having likely the filthiest stuff on the entire staff has managed to fly somewhat under the radar this offseason after the major moves around him.
In other news, I joined Jeff Carr on Wednesday evening to yap about the Reds for the Locked on Reds podcast, and that episode went live this morning. You can find about a dozen different ways to listen to that here, if you so choose.
ICYMI, the Philadelphia Phillies landed All Star catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins yesterday. In case you also missed it, that says ‘Phillies’ and not ‘Reds’ despite the latter’s ardent pursuit of the backstop for weeks. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon detailed how the price for Realmuto was simply viewed as too high by the Reds front office, including some quotes from Dick Williams about how the roster probably won’t change much between now and spring training.
The proposed baseball rule changes that leaked earlier this week either pissed you the hell off or made you stand up and applaud vigorously. No middle ground at all, except for the idea of the DH in the National League - nobody seemed to have a real concrete opinion on that, either way. With that in mind, swing by FanGraphs and vote on how much you abhor or adore the new concepts so that Jeff Sullivan can eventually write a thought provoking, subtly hilarious article about it for me to link to in a future reposter.
Pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear on Wednesday. Not ‘next’ Wednesday, and not ‘Wednesday [month/day].’ Wednesday.
Bryce Harper is still a free agent.
Manny Machado is still a free agent.
Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent - though apparently the Reds aren’t chasing his signature anymore, if you believe a local Cincinnati pundit whose article I’m not about to link in this here post.
Finally, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal dove deep on the passing of baseball legend Frank Robinson, who died yesterday at age 83. Rosenthal first came across Robinson when they were both in Baltimore in the late 80s - along with a cavalcade of other current scribes you’ll recognize instantly - and it’s clear Robinson made quite the lasting impact on all of them.