Game 143: Reds at Giants

First pitch at 10:15 p.m. ET

Hamilton 8
Bruce 9
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Frazier 5
Boesch 7
Suarez 6
Cabrera 2
Sampson 1

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Reds eliminated: Votto a bright spot, payroll decisions loom
By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer
September 14, 2015 4:36 pm ET

At 60-82, the Cincinnati Reds aren’t making the playoffs. That’s not really a statement that would surprise anyone who has been paying attention all season, but they were recently mathematically eliminated from contention, so it’s time to look both backward and forward.

What went right in 2015: Remember the All-Star Game in Cincinnati? That seems ages ago, but Cincy was the host to the Midsummer Classic this season and the event was spectacular. The new format for the Home Run Derby breathed new life into the event and it was Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier who stole the show. Aroldis Chapman pitched a spotless ninth in the actual All-Star Game, again giving the home fans a thrill.

Unfortunately, that stuff didn’t really matter for the regular season Reds. On that front, we saw Joey Votto is still capable of being and MVP-caliber performer. Frazier has 74 extra-base hits. Billy Hamilton has 56 steals while only having been caught eight times, which is a huge improvement over last season. Eugenio Suarez looks great, too.

Chapman is still himself and J.J. Hoover is having a great season in front of him.

On the rotation, the Reds have found that Raisel Iglesias has big upside and there’s reason to believe in Anthony DeSclafani. We’ve seen some flashes from Michael Lorenzen and other youngsters, too.

What went wrong in 2015: The injury-related fiasco with Devin Mesoraco led to an embarrassing tirade misguidedly directed toward local media by manager Bryan Price. And a 4-0 start still wasn’t enough to prevent the Reds from being eight games under .500 and 15 1/2 out in the Central by the aforementioned All-Star break.

Thus, the Reds went into sell mode and said goodbye to ace Johnny Cueto along with starting pitcher Mike Leake and left fielder Marlon Byrd.

Of course, they didn’t go all out and sell Chapman or Jay Bruce, which seems questionable, given the state of the franchise and the division surrounding it.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Billy Hamilton still can’t steal first base. His speed could be an unbelievable weapon if he could get on base at better than a .274 clip. As things stand, it’s only an occasional weapon.

Finally, Homer Bailey’s injury needs to be mentioned along with Mesoraco’s. Those hurt.

Reds MVP: Votto is hitting .315/.459/.555 with 31 doubles and 27 homers. This isn’t even close. Sadly, some Reds fans would still argue this point because of Votto’s contract.

Reds LVP: I’m going with Price. I don’t think the Reds would have contended even with a great manager, but his tirade screams “I’m in over my head” and it was early enough in the season to affect the locker room psyche.

Pending free agents: Sean Marshall (remember him?), Manny Parra and Brayan Pena. Skip Schumaker has a club option while Burke Badenhop has a mutual option.

2016 payroll commitments: There are $78 million worth of guaranteed committments with arbitration and pre-arbitration salaries pushing the payroll to an estimated $110 million.

Biggest offseason decision: See that payroll? Yeah, that’s probably not acceptable to ownership, given what we’ve been hearing the past several years. That means the biggest decision(s) will be which guys to sell off. Chapman and Bruce are obvious candidates. Votto probably can’t be dealt due to his salary. How about Brandon Phillips? He’s still vastly overpaid with $27 million over two seasons left, so the Reds would have to eat most of that. Still, they could shed some of that while using Suarez and Zack Cozart up the middle.

I do think Price needs to be fired, but I don’t consider that the biggest decision. The roster makeup is much more important. Given the excellent manner in which the Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals are set up to continue their success, the Reds need to continue their overhaul as they look to build for the future.

2016 will be better if … Bailey and Mesoraco avoid injury while Bruce returns to pre-2014 form, Votto does what’s doing and the youngsters in the rotation come together.

2016 will be worse if … GM Walt Jocketty sits on his hands in the offseason and just leaves the team as is. They’ll get worse before they get better, so he needs to be proactive in looking beyond 2016 and into 2017. They can’t do a massive rebuild like the Cubs or Astros did due to the Votto contract — and you don’t wanna completely waste the rest of his prime anyway — but a rebuild-on-the-fly should continue.

Ridiculously premature 2016 prediction: We’ll be doing this same article in early- to mid-September again.

Excellent article. A lot to digest, but it supports many of the comments I’ve made on this blog. The question I have, I’ve asked before without an answer, is if Votto is willing can his contract be redone at a lesser annual salary but be extended to after he retires. He end up with his $220,000,000.00 and the Reds free up some salary for 2016. With the new TV contract in our future, it seems to me that this should be investigated.

There are no MLB players that have ever “redone their contract” to take less money. That’s an NFL thing where the union does not compare in strength and there is a firm salary cap.

Just dreaming I guess. But is it allowed if a player for a benefit to his team wanted to do it.

At the end of the day, players taking less salary by re-working a contract doesn’t benefit the union and its entire membership of players. That’s just the reality.

Good point by Mark. I think under any circumstances, a renegotiated contract must be approved by the players union.

Here is Votto’s remaining contract…extended monies don’t appear to me to be alluring to Votto. Then, how would the Reds sell anything like this to Votto. Lastly, how would the Reds sell this to any of the Votto hopefuls…the fans. Seems to me that it would only have a chance working if Votto wanted off the Reds. One last note…the contract is bloated even for the #1 first baseman in all of MLB; very few teams could even consider a contract of this nature…that’s why it’s such an albatross around the neck of the Reds.
2016 32 Cincinnati Reds $20,000,000
2017 33 Cincinnati Reds $22,000,000
2018 34 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2019 35 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2020 36 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2021 37 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2022 38 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2023 39 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2024 40 Cincinnati Reds *$20,000,000
$20M Team Option, $7M Buyout
Earliest Free Agent: 2024

Take $10,000,000.00 per year away for the 9 years remaining and then pay him $10,000,000.00 per year from 2025 to 2033. Long term security for him. Just looking at the #s makes me sick to my stomach.

Possible…I have seen contracts renegotiated exactly as you suggest, called “back loading”; maybe not in the exact dollar amounts your have suggested. Here is an article about the idea with Chipper Jones. It’s obviously on a case to case basis.
Here is an article from 2005 where Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves offered to take a pay cut so that the Braves would be able to keep Tim Hudson.

He was introduced to Jones, the Braves’ highest paid player, who’s owed $32 million over the next two seasons and has $15 million vesting clubs options in 2007 and 2008. He could restructure his contract to clear up funds for a Hudson offer.

“Maybe a little rebate so we can sign him,” said Jones, the only non-catcher who showed up Wednesday, doing some hitting and pronouncing himself healthy.

“Whatever [it takes],” Jones said. “I’m game. I’ve made no bones about it – my family loves it here, and I love playing here. I’ve made sacrifices before, and I’m open to more if it’ll help bring guys in or keep them. I want to win.”
It is very uncommon that a player, especially one signed to a huge contract would ever take a pay cut to stay with a team, or be able to sign with a team who has a chance to go all the way. It happens quite a bit in basketball, with older players who want to win a ring(reference my first article).

Jon Lester even went so far as to admit that he would take a pay cut in order to stay in Boston and help his team win a consecutive World Series title. His inspiration for being so outwardly willing to take less pay in order to remain on the team he loves comes partly from his teammate Dustin Pedroia, who decided to leave a larger offer to stay with the Red Sox.

A redue of Votto’s salary would be a good start if Votto’s OK with that. No one could predicted injury’s to Bailey, Mesoraco, and Cozart’s injuries. What I don’t understand is why was Badenhop and Matheus were the first relievers called upon when the starter was taken out of a game. Badenhop was most noted for his immediate base on balls that often was followed by a home run until he finally got his act together around mid August. Matheus had very few success that I can recall. Jumbo Diaz would be great at times and horrible other times. They sent Sam LeCure down to AAA, leaving only Hoover and Chapman. The Reds started the season with (5) unqualified relievers. I think that speaks volumes for the terrible season the Reds have had.
If the Reds are considering a change in managers it would be my hope they won’t fill that position with some one who is in training to be a manager.
I do take exception with the comments about Phillips. Aside from his outstanding defensive play at 2nd base. He’s played exceptional batting 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th with his 290 plus batting average. Bruce needs to be a .275 plus batter. Finally, I get tired of watching Hamilton poor bunting, hitting fly balls, striking out, and trying to bat left handed.

Here’s the thing about a renegotiated Votto contract: that ship sailed when the original contract was signed. The effect on the Reds salary structure was evident from the start. The possibility of a back-loaded contract, a sort of George Brett lifetime contract, may have been discussed; if so, it was rejected. All these possibilities would have been considered in the original agreement, so the deal is literally done. Where’s the incentive for Votto to reconsider? His best hope is for him to continue to play well, and maybe the salary market will catch up to his contract and he’ll become tradable. The Reds have built a mansion, but they can’t afford to furnish it. No surprise; we knew it would be this way when they signed Joey.

Why are we talking about Votto and his contract? He is one of the only players worth their contract. In a couple of years with all these TV deals 20 Mil will look like a good number. I would worry more about just having enough solid players. The bullpen and bench contracts for 5 mil a year bother me much more because we get nothing for that. A guy from the minors as we have seen can do just as good of a job.

Conversation on hypotheticals; if Reds were to trade Votto…contract ramifications.

See i see no reason to entertain the thought. One why would you and two its not that bad of a contract based on performance. This would be the same discussion for Detroit to trade Cabrera. I would rather worry about why Sampson is still a starter and Fennegan is not. i want to see what this kid can do starting. I pray that the Reds did not trade for him to be a bullpen guy. The reds can be so backwards at times. No great arm including Chapman should be in the bullpen, if they are then there is an issue. You never see that with a good team. Only reason someone goes to the bullpen or closers roll would be because they cant make it as a starter for some reason. That is the strategy that should be used here as well. But it isnt and wont be, sooo sad

Here’s my take or thoughts on where we are…
This season is over for all intent and purpose. So now is the time to watch all the rookies and trades strut their ware in hopes of making the team in 2016. I suspect by doing just that, the Reds are deciding who not only will be starting next year, but who is going to the bull pen, who is going to the miners and who is going out the door. Fortunately, I think the pitching will straighten itself out including the bull pen.
How we use our choices is another question but I digress. What I am concerned about is our lineup and offense. From 2010 to now it has shut off like a faucet. These guys once had ‘it’, but have lost their way; and no, they aren’t that old to lose it. So, if Bruce and company can’t do what they once did, then we need someone who can and that comes in the form of a trade or hire. And what follows is that we need money to acquire ‘get er’ done’ hitters. And to free up money we need to trade off or eliminate contracts for players that are little more than an anchor. If the Reds were to truly revitalize the team, they would need to trade off Bruce, Phillips and Chapman. The Reds are kicking around $110 million, yet they are paying Votto $20 of it next season and $25 the next…ad infinitum (2023/2024). Does anyone really think Votto will be productive when he’s 40? If so, I have some property for you. But all kidding aside, I think the Reds gave Votto the contract with coaching or front office in the late years, in mind. Anyway, back at the ranch, the name of the game in a small market team, which we are, is ‘controllable’. We thought we could build a short term dynasty and we did (2010-2013), but never made it to the dance. 2014 and 2015 were supposed to be part of that dream; wasted! We need more trades or to buy a prolific hitter…but then again, it takes dinero. Imagine what a Cespedes would do at GABP. I am truly embarrassed for guys like Frazier and Bruce; I once thought they would hurt people in the stands in LF-CF-RF! Now, they are sporadic cream puffs, and I just don’t understand why. Of course, first and foremost…give Price his walking papers at seasons end. Until he’s gone, we really won’t know what’s been going on relative to ‘managing’ and ‘coaching’. Anyone else wonder why Byrd is doing so well in SF (.444 last 10 G, 16H/36AB)?

Agree we need better offensive production. But I feel the Reds are lagging at looking at numbers correctly. Take the case of Byrd good player but not want we needed. In my opinion Cespedes is the more overrated player the past 3 years. The Reds are obsessed with the long ball and so are some of the players. I actually think this team would do better if from Jocketty down they sent the rules of hitting. Basically everything that Votto does. The little things. Work the count, look for your pitch, choke up with 2 strikes. My goodness we have the best hitter in baseball doing these things but yet the rest are too good to do this. Do what you have to do to get on Base. I would love a Pete Rose type of manager that basically says I dont care who you are if you dont do these things you are not playing… If you look at the teams that are winning, they have revamped the way the team operates. St. Louis, Pitt, Chic, SF, Mets, KC, Houston. These teams figured it out. They just dont have talent but are playing baseball a different way, coaching a different way. The Reds have flip places with the Bengals who have figured out a formula to win in the NFL. The Reds have not figured out that formula, but tried to buy their way which was done 10 years ago, but not today.

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