---------------------From August of 2014------------------
The trade deadline has come and gone and the Reds chose to stand down, again.
Considering the Reds post All-Star break fade, that decision sure beats the concept of buying. There are simply too many holes to plug, patch and fill on this team. The Reds could have acquired Mike Trout and it was not going to be enough this season. Day by day, the organization has been further exposed for a lack of depth, due to injuries.
But what's most disappointing is the franchise's lack of understanding or acceptance of their current and future situation. The Reds should have been looking to 2015 and beyond as the deadline approached. That doesn't mean sell, that doesn't mean give up, but that does mean repositioning the franchise for the future.
The Reds went for it after the 2011 season. The problem is that Bob Castellini and Walt lost sight of the small market cycle of life and lost track of their money. They traded nine prospects to land Mat Latos, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton. They gave Joey Votto $250M, Homer Bailey $105M, Brandon Philliips $72.5M, Broxton $21M, Marshall $16.5M and Ludwick $15M. Bob and Walt got greedy, acting like big market big boys. They needed to be the smart, small market boys.
From 2010-2014, the Reds made 3 playoff appearances in 5 years, including back to back postseasons for the first time since the Big Red Machine (1975-76). The franchise became relevant after nine straight losing seasons. But in the end the Reds came up short, failing to win a playoff series. Here are the consequences of Bob and Walt's actions:
1. No organizational depth (due to trades).
2. No money to spend/payroll flexibility (due to big $ deals)
3. No ability to deal prospects, because they need the prospects to cover future free agent departures and help with payroll.
4. No bench help (due to big $$ paid to stars)
This franchise is simply not set up to pay multiple, big money contracts. This franchise must scout, draft, and develop. They must get production from those players over their six years of ML control, then use them in trades to help the ML team and replenish the system with more prospects. See Oakland. See St Louis.
The reality of 2015 is that 80% of the Reds starting rotation (Cueto, Latos, Leake, Simon) can become free agents after next season. The Reds should have traded from that pitching bounty, and tossed Bailey, Broxton and Chapman into the conversations this week. I'm not saying deal all of them at the deadline, but at least 1 or 2, with an eye on dealing another 2 pitchers this offseason. Why?
1. It was a sellers market.
2. Help upgrade the ML roster.
3. Replenish the minor league system .
4. Create payroll flexibility going forward.
5. There is no way the Reds can/should keep all four of those starting pitchers after 2015.
The Reds entered 2014 with needs for upgrades, or at least concerns at LF, CF, SS and the bench. Yet they didn't have the resources to address those issues.
The Reds will entered 2015 with needs for upgrades, or at least concerns at LF, SS, RF, bullpen and the bench. If the Reds lack the finances to be active in free agency and can't afford to deal prospects, how will this team be better in 2015? And if the Reds lack payroll flexibility now, the franchise would be wrapped into a pretzel for 2016 and beyond if they pay any combination of Cueto, Latos, Leake, Simon. Sure there is TV money coming. But it's coming to help pay Bailey $18M and Votto $20M a year starting in 2016 + eventual arbitration/deals for Hamilton, Mesoraco and Frazier.
Based on actions this week, Bob and Walt's 2015 plan appears to be:
1. Get healthy
2. Cross their fingers
3. Ride this starting pitching for another year, and see what happens.
That's a plan based on hope and denial. Where is the money and the flexibility to improve this team this offseason? The Reds made back to back playoff appearances and three in a five-year span. There is no shame in now trading and repositioning. Sometimes you must take a step back to take two steps forward. See the 2012-13-14 Red Sox. This isn't a new concept. But it is a concept that Walt is not used to. And it's a concept that Bob might not have the patience for. I would suggest the sooner Walt and Bob embrace this business model, the better off the franchise will be. Otherwise, the small market cycle of life will devour this franchise. We know this, things are going to get worse, before they get better.
What do you think?