Earlier today the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox played a game in spring training. Nick Senzel started the game in center field for the Reds. It was his second start in center this spring. In the first game there was not a single ball in which the Reds top prospect had to do much to show what he had been working on all winter. There was a home run that landed 50 feet beyond the center field wall. And there were two absolutely lazy fly balls he barely had to come in for. That was it.
On Wednesday afternoon that wasn’t the case. Nick Senzel got a chance to chase fly balls in the gaps. It gave those of us watching on MLB.tv a chance to get our first looks at his ability to run routes. It gave us the first chance to see his speed in the outfield. And it gave us the first chance to see how he broke on the baseball.
Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a paid professional baseball scout. But I do watch hundreds of baseball games a year. What I saw on Wednesday afternoon at Camelback Ranch during spring training was a guy in Nick Senzel that I’m very confident in having the ability to play center field. He showed off good reads. The routes he took to balls off of the wall, over the wall, to the warning track that he caught – they were very good ones. And while I’ve been screaming at the top of my lungs for two years that he’s faster than he’s been given credit for on a national level, he even looked faster while running in center.
Mark this down as me going on record to say that Nick Senzel can handle center field defensively. And that I have no doubt about that fact, even after seeing just one game. Put his name on the lineup card 155 times with “center field” next to it. Call it a day. He’s ready.
This is pretty exciting, especially with how David Bell talked about his defensive performance as well.
Good enough to stay there? I know we have speed coming up and 2nd possibly open, but isn’t CF a premium defensive position?
Apologies for being s but dense, but are you implying the Reds should send him down for two weeks with the 155 comment, opposed to 162.
No. I just figure that he’ll probably get a day off every so often.
But they should send him down. It’s just basic logic that 1 more year of Senzel has huge value, why give it up?
The Reds should NOT send him down if he’s the best CF available. Put faith in him, do the right thing, he’s likelier to sign an extension at a fair rate. Send him down to get the extra year, he’ll bleed the organization dry and should. Treat people as you’d like to be treated.
losing one year of control for him helping us win a max of 2 games. Makes sense.
What if those two games come in a season that Suarez and Gennett have career years and Votto has one last classic votto season and those two games push the Reds into the playoffs and then who knows what could happen.
The Reds have played rebuilding games for the last four years and quite honestly as a fan, I don’t care if Senzel playing the whole year in CF makes him cost $50 million dollars more than if he was sent down to AAA for a few weeks. I want to watch a competitive team. The Votto window is closing fast.
In two games Senzel showed he can handle CF better than Choo. Case closed. It’s his.
Glad he had a good game. Anointing him the Reds best option in CF after his second exhibition game there is ridiculous. I trust the people qualified to make the real decision are not jumping to such a premature conclusion.
Yes, objectivity is a good thing.
Really good to hear Senzel is physically capable of playing ML CF. ? I have is, is it the best position 4 him Offensively? Demands could hurt his ABs or take his mind off a bad ABs or slumps ?
Like David Bell, who even before games started, said he was the favorite? Then after the game today noted his good reads and routes? That guy qualified enough?
It’s more about getting his bat in the lineup…..we don’t have a Billy Hamilton who we can just pencil in out there anymore.
And, as for starting him in AAA a couple of weeks, I think it’s brilliant….having just seen the $300M deal Machado just inked, this will potentially save the Reds $30M+ in 2025. (if Senzel is as good as we all hope he’ll be)
If he were called up in 2 weeks, he could still get $30 Million in 2025, he just wouldn’t have the opportunity to hit the open market for a long term deal. See Nolan Arenado who signed for his 4th arb season @ $26 million. There is realistically little in savings in 2025, you just couldn’t get him on a one year deal for that season.
Or at all, with Teams having 250 million cable contracts to get anyone they want.
I was there. He played very well in CF. He hit well. It’s the first week of spring training.
Good take Doug. I hope you are right. Personally the little I’ve seen Senzel play he looks like an athlete, an athlete can play pretty much anywhere.
Good to hear. I’m pretty big on eye tests for athletic positions.
You have to think as well we are not looking for him to be a gold Glover out there. We want the potential 300 30 100 guy out there as long as he’s in the top twenty and hits I am a okay with that, I’ve seen it the other way around.
You’ve come a long way from “I absolutely don’t want him playing center with his vertigo” eh? Love the passion but might wanna cool it on the hot takes? He’s played like 10 innings in CF in his life. Let’s make sure he’s better than schebler out there before we anoint him the next Willy mays.
I have zero control over where they play him. So the vertigo thing is entirely out of my control.
What’s not out of my control is looking at how he played today and saying that he’s capable of playing center field out there. This isn’t a hot take. A hot take would be saying he’s a gold glover or Willie Mays.
Man Doug I cried the other night I was laughing so hard u comparing Schebler to trout. Now a willy Mays comparison.
SSDS- Scott Schebler derangement syndrome. Y’all better get your therapists on speed dial. His days in cincy are numbered.
David Bell yesterday on Schebler:
“He has the ability to do a lot of damage. He’s a disciplined hitter. He’s an athlete. He does a lot of things. We see him as a big part of the team.”
Your Schebler obsession was a little odd at first, but now it’s just gone off the rails….
Schebler is going to get 250+ at bats this year, and odds are, he’ll be quite productive in those at bats. Schebler can back up all 3 OF spots and be used as a pinch hitter.
If the Reds are smart they are shopping Kemp right now to AL teams and telling those teams they are willing to eat $20 million to increase the prospect package return. That money is a sunk cost, but it could bring back a valuable piece still.
I’m the one w an obsession when he’s being compared to mike trout and willie Mayes lol. I’m obsessed when people call him to start over Nick Senzel bc he’s better than senzel lol. Obsessed or only voice of reason? Name a player in spring training bell has spoke negatively about. He’s tooting finnegans horn today.
Bobsteve and every other reliever that’s not in top 5/6 spots.
Scheblers spot on this team is in jeopardy if senzel breaks camp and he’s not that much better than Phil Ervin- especially as a bench player.
@duke- kemp and Santillan for Greinke makes a lot of sense if reds eat a lot of his contract next two seasons. Kemp’s payroll this year offsets grienke enough to fit in this years budget.
Off topic. At brewers Maryvale stadium, the scoreboard only shows PA OBP SLG and OPS. No BA HR or RBI stats. For pitchers, no ERA. Only GBP% and similar modern stats.
Maybe Doug is running that scoreboard “remotely” !!
The Brewers are heavily into the modern stats approach. No other scoreboard in Arizona (among 5 that I saw this week) did what Brewers do.
Given the resistance Doug showed this AM in the posts and comments, definitely surprising to see such a strong position in support
All kidding aside, it is really unfortunate that the extreme disgust for the MLB owners deeply penetrated in these articles leads the discussion to anything but excitement over the potential for seeing the next face of the franchise ready to step in for the next 6 to 7 years.
Encouraging to hear about Senzel in CF.
I was wondering about your feelings on Alfredo Rodriguez as a hitter so far. I saw his first couple games and I was impressed. First off, he is not a small guy, which was nice to see. In those few at-bats, I didn’t see him swing at any bad pitches. I know he hit one ball on the screws, but right at the third baseman for a double play. I haven’t seen any of his past couple games where he’s had a few hits. Have they been well hit?
I understand that this is an incredibly small sample, but he didn’t look bad to me at the plate. I didn’t know he had a hamate injury last year. What is your impression of him so far?
He’s never looked lost at the plate. He’s just always had one of those bats where somehow even when he looks like he’s made good, solid contact, the ball goes nowhere.
What is the likelihood that the outcome of CBA negotiation for 2022 will result in a retroactive change in how service time is calculated? Meaning at some point a call up prior to the trade deadline counts as a full-year, for example. I think it would be wise for teams to anticipate that and, as a result, just call people up earlier. It’s pretty obvious that service time manipulation isn’t going to fly as it’s a high-profile issue.
That teams could capture an additional year of service time on players not on the 40-man roster by keeping them in the minors for less than 2 weeks was a known issue during the last CBA. In other words, the Kris Bryant saga had already occurred. While it could be addressed (and in my opinion should be addressed), MLBPA typically focuses on issues associated with older players. We’re hyper-focused on the Reds and how quickly we get to see our #1 prospect on the field (especially given the very early reports that he may be able to handle a premium position that happens to be the team’s most glaring need). MLBPA is focused on the slow free agent market and the fact that multiple free agents aren’t yet under contract or received few offers/lower than expected contracts.
I remember a few months ago I asked you what you thought about signing guys to pre-arb contracts. Guys like Winker, Castillo, Peraza, Senzel. You responded that you thought the teams should do it, but you don’t know why the players would. Do you think that this has changed over the last few months and that it could be more realistic?
Players do it for the short term financial stability. If you are willing to sacrifice millions for that- God bless ya ! Go for it. If Barnhart performs to 18 numbers for his contract vs 17 numbers- he will be worth every cent still. Suarez can take a yuge step back and still be worth every cent. Couple of St. Louis contracts look a little shaky but they’ll sign anyone long term who wants to talk about it. Better to throw away 6 million a season than 25 though.
For senzel however, you can lock him up but this is where the insurance on the player comes into play. Senzel has a potential career ending injury lingering and I’m guessing at this for him, but as a life insurance agent, I doubt an insurance company would insure his contract (all big contracts are insured) so I think you have to wait it out and let him get a long stent of health under his belt before you commit 80-100 million to him.
Looking through the looking glass again Wes. Is that you I saw on the Psychic network. Seeing another broken finger for Nick. Crazy talk.
I think Wes is referring to the vertigo problem.
I know what he was talking about. 99% of vertigo cases are treatable and cause no problems once you have figured out how to treat it. It is figuring out what works for each individual that takes some time.
Everyone I’ve ever met with vertigo are bound to wheelchairs bc standing makes them dizzy and passout. It’s also something that’s gotten worse, not better, over time. Granted they are older and not in mlb form- it’s still a very serious condition that insurance companies will balk at vs getting put on the hook for 100 million. And if they balk- how can a small market team take that risk with two flare ups in past two years ? He has to show he’s healthy and have a significant amount of time under his belt or a contract like that can hamper reds just like homers did.
BOUND TO WHEELCHAIRS.
What. On. Earth.
Lebron James has vertigo
LeBron would be a darn good wheelchair basketball player.
Moral of the story. Don’t hang out wit wes if you have vertigo. You are doomed.
I’ve been a proponent of getting the extra year, but I think i’m starting to be convinced that he should be on the opening day roster. It’s a risk, but there are several positive aspects:
1) If you think he improves your lineup now, then there is 12 games with him in it that he wouldn’t have been in otherwise
2) Relations with Senzel. Not messing with service time will build some good will. Even if it gets the Reds no contract benefits in the long run, player happiness and satisfaction does count for something
3) Future contract extension. If Senzel is everything we hope he is, then in 3 years as he’s entering arbitration, it can only help going into contract extension talks that maybe he is more open going 2-3 years into FA and signing a 5-6 year deal. Senzel turns 24 in June. If we can work out a 6 year deal after the 2021 season as he enters arbitration, that takes him through his age 32 season. Even if it’s only a 5 year deal and through his age 31 season, then you still have a choice if you want to sign him for some of his decline years. The risk you run is him being set on hitting free agency at age 29.
4) Reputation. Being known as a player friendly organization might tip the scales a little bit in regards to players like JA Happ. Perhaps the Reds get a little more consideration with their offer knowing the Reds are a player friendly org.
5) Fan excitement. A small thing in this regard as the Reds always have buzz around opening day, especially this year with the trades they made, but this can only add to that.
I get securing that extra year of control, and if the Reds go that route, i’m not going to be outraged. However, I see plenty of positives as well to having him on the opening day roster, so that isn’t going to upset me either. I’m just ready for some real baseball.
Nice post Duke. I’m with all that. Number is biggest one for reds and they acknowledge that bringing in big name free agents is a struggle. Changing that has to be a top priority to management.
Well said. I’m a proponent of having him on the opening day roster IF he’s the best option to start in CF and truly major league ready. It’s premature to declare this presupposition fact at this point due to the time Senzel misses last season and because he is learning a new position. That said, it is possible he’ll meet that bar and the information we have today provides optimism.
The Reds operate at a resource disadvantage to most of the league. So building a strong season ticket fan base by truly committing to putting the best team on the field is one key to long term success. Building a reputation for treating players well has business merit. I can’t imagine the Yankees playing service time with one of their players to gain a year of control. Cincinnati is also a wonderful place to live and raise a family. It has the amenities of a big city, but avoids some of the pitfalls of the mega market cities. Branding themselves as an MLB franchise that player friendly, family friendly, and the main event in a baseball town is a fantastic way to distinguish themselves in the marketplace.
That said, the Reds have every right to leverage the CBA to their advantage. It’s a contract that benefits owners and players in different ways. Just as I would never expect Homer Bailey to refuse to accept the $28M on his contract that became worthless to the Reds, I won’t criticize the Reds for doing what they believe is in the best long term interest of the franchise.
For the Reds it just sets a bad precedent. If you start the season with Senzel on the active roster, how can you say no to Trammel, Greene, or India under similar circumstances in future years? Now you’re risking 4 years of premium prospect control , possibly at the apex of their careers. After all the years of losing baseball, those top prospects are a lot of what the Reds have to show. It was long-term to acquire them, they should be utilized with that in mind.
Or it sets a good precedent that you take care of your players. There’s a decent likelihood that Trammell, Greene, and/or India will come up at other times of year anyway. Senzel was kind of a special case because he likely would have been called up in September but got injured. If the plan is to have one of these guys on the roster to start the year, they’d probably get some run at the end of the prior season.
Or it lends a little more credence if they tell a player they think there is more to work on. “Hey, Nick was ready, and we didn’t hesitate. Go work on X/Y/Z and we know you are going to be in the show sooner rather than later.”
Also, Senzel likely is up mid year last year if he doesn’t get hurt. More often than not debuts happen not in April. Not every prospect is going to make the team out of spring training.
Surely you jest? Taking care of your players? Scott Schebler has 44 starts in cf for the Reds over the last 3 years. You’re benching him in favor of a rookie who’s never played the position at the ML level? At least 2 of Puig, Kemp, Schebler, & Winker are going to feel slighted with Senzel starting the season in the lineup everyday. No disrespect to you, but veteran players expect a chance to play, & not given that chance, they will not think the Reds are “taking care of their players”.
Cguy, it’s a fact that Senzel making the 25-man roster knocks someone else out. This is why the CBA gives clubs broad latitude in roster management. The Reds have more quality position players competing for a roster spot than they have had in several seasons. There are many factors to consider, but I would not expect to see Senzel on day 12 if these other factors are the reason he doesn’t make the roster on opening day.
Kemp is the easy bottom of that totem pole. After that the question is between Schebler and Puig, because Winker and Senzel are cornerstones for the next 5-6 years. Puig is the more tradable asset if we aren’t in it and has better career numbers as well. Pecking order is pretty easy to me:
Players get competition for PT, that’s part of the game. Service Time manipulation is part of the business and while they may understand it, I think they hate that more than being beat out for PT.
If Senzel makes the team, I think Schebler actually goes to the bottom of the totem pole and is likely optioned. Kemp has the best track record coming off the bench, and handles left and right handed pitchers equally effectively. Kemp is the worst option defensively, but he’s good enough to spell Winker as Winker builds arm strength. Dietrech is next based on his bat and versatility. Iglesias makes the team for his defense as he has the least experience coming off the bench. There will be a second catcher. Each of these options is jusas capable as Schebler at giving the Reds 1-2 starts each week—enough to keep the starters fresh. So on a 4 man bench Schebler (who has an option) is the most likely man off the 25-man. This scenario also necessitates 3 spots on the 40-man roster.
Except Schebler is your backup CF, unless you put Puig there or have Ervin on the roster. I’d rather set Puig in RF for 145-150 games and forget about it. If Senzel is in CF, the Reds really need to find a trade partner for Kemp and be willing to eat some money for prospects.
Agree Duke, moving an outfielder would be ideal. I don’t like the idea of Kemp, Puig and Winker patrolling the outfield, but probably preferable to Suarez as the backup SS. Hopefully, the Reds and Indians are working feverishly on a deal that makes both clubs just a little better. I think they are the most competitive team with need of a corner outfielder. Eating part of Kemp’s $14M should not be a showstopper.
If he was still a Boras client I would maximize service time. You know that guy isn’t giving anyone a break. With Boras now out of the picture there might be an opening down the road and the good will shown by the Reds could actually be rewarded.
That was another point I meant to make when talking about player relations with Senzel. No Boras is a good thing when looking at possible extensions.
Maybe a little hasty to anoint him the full time CF starter after two half games. If he had gone 0-3 with three Ks and fell down on balls hit to him, would the headline say “Senzel absolutely can’t play CF, send him down now”? Of course not. Let’s get a better sample size. I agree that he should be fine there and get the bulk of the innings in CF this year, starting in mid-April. Schebler actually has very good defensive stats in CF over the last two years and says it is his preferred position. Yes, that is only for 31 games and those defensive stats deserve to be taken with a grain of salt, but I don’t think Schebler will be that great of a drop off for 11 games or whatever.
The odds are much higher that Senzel ends up with another team once he is eligible for free agency, so I’m all for that being after 7 years instead of 6. All that aside, I’m excited for however long Nick will be a Red, whatever positions he ultimately plays.
Fair points about sample size. I’m confident that Schebler can play a passable CF for 2-8 weeks, especially in GABP. Senzel has the ability to be a star player though. As for FA, we still have the arbitration years to work out extensions and guaranteed money. For all we know the Reds are working on a deal just like Kingery got for the Phils right now that could secure him through his 6 arb years and then have team options on 1-3 FA years.
If Nick Senzel looked out of sorts in center field, fell down, took bad routes, looked clumsy, yeah – I would have absolutely written that he’s got all kinds of work to do in order to play the position. I don’t need a sample size more than yesterday to see that the routes were very, very good. Or that the reads he made were very good. Or that his speed was more than enough in center. Those just aren’t things that we need a month of play to see. They just aren’t.
As I said, I think he will be fine out there, but I’d like to see more consistent play like that before declaring a definitive conclusion. I’ve seen BHam take an occasional bad route and Shin Soo Choo make great plays in center. That doesn’t mean BHam is bad and Choo is good, but there were many times when they were the opposite of what they typically show. What if Nick just had a great day yesterday that is atypical?
To not need more than one game of data to declare a guy the full time starter seems a stretch, but I guess sometimes not even a one game sample size is needed to express a very definitive opinion. I remember this quote, “I do not want to see Nick Senzel in the outfield. Ever.”
And if I were running the team, he’d be starting at second base. But I’m not running the team, so that’s not my decision.
The chances that a guy had a great day when it comes to reads and routes, on the first chance he gets the opportunity to actually do it, then it’s just all pure coincidence and he’s actually not good at those things…. I mean, is it possible? Sure. I guess it’s possible. But man, Occams Razor.
“The odds are much higher that Senzel ends up with another team once he is eligible for free agency,…”
I believe that the odds are much higher that Nick Senzel signs long term with the team if the Reds show that they have integrity by placing him on the 2019 opening day roster if he has a great ST and not playing games with him.
Doug, I think your are suffering from premature declaration here.
Are you not one of those who scream small sample size at every opportunity?? Where is your consistency? This is certifiable lunacy, at this early juncture of spring training.
I am a huge Senzel fan, but there is no reason for him to be named a starter today. None. Absolutely none. No reason to rush anything.
This Senzel stuff is just a small sample size that no team should make any decisions based on a couple of games. No team, and certainly not the Reds. Let him play some more games before making such ludicrous proclamations. Lets see him play a few night games before Senzel is declared the starter in CF. That may have to come at Louisville for maybe a couple of weeks. Take it from one who knows, in the outfield the ball coming off the bat has a little different look at night under the lights than during the day. How many times did Schebler lose the ball in the lights early last year? Four, maybe five times?
All the while Senzel was out in Arizona working on his CF fielding before spring training started, do know if Senzel was taking any fly balls at night? I sincerely doubt it. Give it a little time.
You are laying the groundwork for this to be the crime of the century if Senzel is assigned to AAA to start the season for 2 weeks. We are far, far away from that. Give it a rest, please. No need to turn this into one of your Pete Rose temper tantrums. That is a road you are starting to go down with this Senzel thing.
I agree with everyone on Senzel. Start him day one as Doug & the Duke say or send him down for 2 weeks like Cguy & the Steve day.
I don’t care. Just glad that he is ours and that we did not trade him for 2 years of Kluber who would be nice at the right price.
Kudos to the front office for keeping our trinkets this year. You can have your fun trades next year.
Now back to our previously scheduled debate.
Play him. Send him down for 2 weeks
Kluber has 3 years of control still. He is also turning 33 in 6 weeks, and while still dominant last year, the numbers were down a little bit. Could be a blip, but could be the start of the decline. That said, that decline could be better than any other Reds pitcher over the next 3 years.
I have to agree that i’m glad we kept him though.
First things first: Be careful with what you say. I’ve edited the first line of your post because it’s absolutely not appropriate.
Now, as for the sample size here: It’s like me watching a pitcher and saying “this guy was throwing 97 MPH and showed an above-average slider” based on one game. Nick Senzel showed the speed required to play center. Nick Senzel showed he could read the ball off of the bat well, to both gaps. Nick Senzel showed he could run good, and straight routes to the endpoint of baseballs in flight. Those are skills that don’t require “sample size” to show. Those don’t require 50 games to see. They require a few plays. That you didn’t understand that isn’t on me. So please, take a step back with what you think I was trying to do. Stop with the “temper tantrum” garbage.
Doug, I appreciate your opinion, but ………………Come on 155 games starting in cf in his rookie season? Joey Votto never booked 155 games as starting 1st baseman until his 4th year in the ML. He has done it several times,but never has in even date years (2012, 2014,etc.). The only other player currently on the roster who has started 155 games in a quality defensive position (cf,ss, c) was Matt Kemp back in 2011. Peraza came close with 152 starts at ss last year. I’m sorry, Senzel does not start 155 games at cf in 2019. More likely the Reds win the division.
Speed can be fairly judged on small sample size, agreed. Taking straight routes to the endpoint of a ball in flight (especially slicing ones with varying spins) is a skill like any other, that takes time & reps to master. The fact that he did it perfectly a couple times yesterday does not mean he has it mastered and will always do so. Schebler has done this 1,000x more than Senzel has. It does require a larger sample size if you want to be objective and not just support your own argument. I agree that now it is looking like he can probably handle it… just way too early to call it, esp for opening day.
I agree with Doug. I also agree with David Bell and the rest of the Red’s baseball people. NIck Senzel can play CF.
NIck showed he has plenty of speed and enough baseball instincts to cover CF. This isn’t rocket science, this is just baseball.
Lots of great points and takes here, per usual. I’m just ready to win. If he’s ready to help us win, play him. The service time thing will work itself out one way or another.
I predict the encarnacion effect with Phil Irvin. Reds never gave home a chance to be honest. He’s got huge power in that bat. He’ll go on to another franchise so they can develope him properly. I can’t remember a first round pick that was so disrespected.
I meant never gave him a chance
The real question is gonna be what are Reds gonna do when they realize puig is only a platoon player?
Senzel has more than enuf athleticism for CF. Too many people are over thinking this. He will be a HUGE upgrade over Bham overall
Senzel has played in this many games as a pro:
2016 – 68
2017 – 119
2018 – 44
I’m not sure that projects to 155 games in 2019.
It’s highly unlikely he plays that many games in 2019, at any position. Injuries, not performance, will likely cap his playing time.
Even more than that is the versatility the Reds have added with Dietrich & Jose Iglesias. Iglesias will start a couple dozen games at ss. Sometimes Peraza will sit , but sometimes he’ll start at cf or 2nd. Dietrich will start even more than that; maybe 40 or more games. That’ll move Suarez, Gennett, Votto, or a corner outfielder out of the lineup on those days. Schebler will get some cf starts & Lorenzen might get a couple . Even Senzel will get some starts at 2nd &/or 3rd base. I don’t see any Reds player with more than 140 starts at any 1 position in 2019.