Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 New Year's Reds-olutions

Happy New Year! 2013 saw the Reds once again make the playoffs, and yet once again fall short of advancing past the first round. Another postseason disappointment also brought about change within the organization as six-year head man Dusty Baker was replaced with first-time manager and former Reds pitching coach Bryan Price. Along with that came several other changes to the coaching stuff.

The on-field personnel is also changing as Shin-Soo Choo signed a monster contract with Texas and the status of veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo is still up in the air. The Reds picked up a couple free agents in bench player Skip Schumaker and catcher Brayan Pena, who will replace Ryan Hanigan after he was traded to the Rays.

Many things have changed, but there are still more changes to come as the Reds will need to make a few more moves if they want to improve the current roster. As always with a new year comes our New Year's Resolutions. These are the things we hope to change in order to improve ourselves. The Reds should set forth to achieve a few resolutions Reds-olutions themselves in 2014.

1) Find another outfielder - Whether the Reds want to pull the trigger on some sort of trade that will bring in either a center fielder or a left fielder, something needs to be done. Jay Bruce is the only regular outfielder at this point that can be trusted. Cincinnati has expressed confidence in making Billy Hamilton the everyday center fielder, but what else would they say? He had a promising showing during his September call-up, but can he reach base enough to sustain success for a full season? And who knows what to expect from 35-year old Ryan Ludwick coming off shoulder surgery. The Reds would be best served finding another option. The only problem is where?

2) Lose weight - This is surely a popular resolution among mankind. How can the Reds lose weight? Well figuratively, what I mean is lose dead weight on the bench or expect and get better production from pinch-hitters. Easier said than done I suppose. The Reds lost Xavier Paul and picked up Skip Schumaker. I don't know that that means anything at all, but please no more Willie Harris or Cesar Izturis.

3) Run more - This normally goes along with the lose weight part, but again this is baseball. Take away Hamilton's 13 steals in September and the Reds move from 10th place in the National League to 14th place or second-to-last in the stolen bases category. Although the Reds will have Hamilton for 2014, they are definitely losing Choo's 20 steals, so they'll have to make up the difference somewhere. They have the personnel to run a little bit, but of course they have to be smart about it.

4) Discover Batman's true identity - This one sounds like one for the citizens of Gotham more than Cincinnati, but it's certainly an important one in my mind. By Batman, I of course mean Homer Bailey. Bailey so far has not been receptive to the idea of signing a long-term deal to pitch in Cincinnati. A lack of dollar bills may heavily contribute to that decision as Bailey could command a major contract as a free agent next year with another solid year of pitching under his belt. It may behoove the Reds to trade Bailey who is currently one of their best, if not the best, trade-able assets on the team. We'll have to see how things shake out in arbitration, as perhaps they can make a last ditch effort to work out a deal with him like they did Mat Latos last year. Perhaps he was just balking, pun intended, at a long-term deal so he could take full advantage of arbitration up till now and use some of his leverage to secure a better deal from the Reds. If he really doesn't feel his best decision is to sign with the Reds, then perhaps they should try to add to their roster by subtracting Bailey. It's a tough call though as Cincinnati could really use Bailey in their rotation if they hope to make another playoff push.

5) Be more accountable - My favorite part about new Reds manager Bryan Price is what I have heard about his expectations for player accountability. You can read in this article by Mark Sheldon about how Price and assistant pitching coach Mack Jenkins instilled accountability into the pitching staff by having high expectations for everyone under their watch. I'm sure one of Price's main goals is to relay to the team his expectations on the subject and create an environment of accountability. It is well know that Baker was a very player-friendly manager and that's not a bad thing, but I'm sure it conflicts with holding players responsible at times. It's not just up to Price and his staff to hold the players accountable though. The players need to step up and hold themselves and others accountable as well so that they can improve as a team. A leader in the clubhouse needs to emerge to unite everyone towards the common goal which should be the World Series. Even with the Reds current roster deficiencies, they've still got plenty of talent and if they can come up with timely hits and play sound defense behind the magnificent pitching staff, they should be able to make plenty of noise in 2014.

What Reds-olutions would you like to see Cincinnati accomplish?

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