You think Tony LaRussa could phone a friend and have had Bill Belichick host the press conference after last night’s game? The Diamondbacks head back to Chase Field for their final three game series before the All Star Break and will take on the Cincinnati Reds. This brief home stand features a Game of Thrones promotion tonight followed by the Alumni Game on Saturday, so end your tears from the Los Angeles series and head downtown to support the team. Brandon Kraeling of the Reds SB Nation site, Red Reporter, sits down with the Pit to educate us on where the Reds are currently and where they could be heading. We thank him and our friends on SB Nation for the contributions!
Oh, and I almost forgot. I traded Steve Berthiaume for Thom Brennaman, so you can thank me later.
AZ Snake Pit: Zack Cozart is a name that has been floated around recently to be a player the Arizona Diamondbacks should target. Cozart is in the midst of a career year on the cusp of free agency, but how likely is it that the Cincinnati Reds deal him? Should the Reds sell high and get what they can before his potential decline into his 30’s, or give him a small extension?
Brandon Kraeling: I honestly have no clue what the Reds are going to do with Zack Cozart. They have a little bit of leverage, in that they could easily keep him for another year on a qualifying offer or short-term extension and hope that he’s able to stay healthy and productive into the next winning window for the Reds. At the beginning of the season, I would have probably put zero stock in the Reds extending Zack Cozart, and now it’s probably 50/50 for me.
Personally, I think an extension wouldn’t be a bad idea. His defense hasn’t shown any signs of decline, and his offense has always been pretty good, and he’ll give you more offense than a lot of shortstops will. Whether that skill set is worth extension money remains to be seen.
AZSP: Will you accept a Steve Berthiaume for Thom Brennaman trade?
BK: How fast can I accept this offer?
AZSP: The Diamondbacks just acquired Tony Renda from the Reds who doesn’t appear to be much more than organizational depth filler for Arizona at this time. The Reds acquired him in the 2015 Aroldis Chapman trade, and now are left with only two players from that initial return. Was that trade a lopsided bust for Cincinnati? Did the Reds give up early on him? Am I completely misjudging his value?
BK: The Reds got stuck in a really sticky situation there, and hindsight being 20/20, obviously would have handled it differently. They had a chance to get a lot more for him at the 2015 trade deadline, but couldn’t get a deal done and decided to wait until the offseason to make a trade. Unfortunately, they had no idea that domestic assault charge and suspension was upcoming. The Reds decided to cut bait anyway, and were frankly lucky to get as much value as they did.
As for Tony Renda, he “is what he is”. He’s a perfectly fine reserve infielder, and he probably provided more to the Reds than I expected him to. Hope he does well in AZ.
AZSP: As of the time this Q&A was written, the Reds 2017 1st round draft pick, Hunter Greene, remains unsigned. The deadline to sign him is today [Friday]. There has already been back and forth as to whether or not he will be the LeBron James of Major League Baseball. Inform our members over at the Pit about what makes him such a dynamic player. Is he worthy of all the hype? Are there any potential concerns pertaining to his development as a major leaguer be it character or performance related? When can we expect him to reach the Show as a member of the Reds?
BK: Man oh man, I sincerely hope Greene lives up to some of the hype surrounding him. From everything we’ve seen, he seems like he has all the tools to be a star, and then some. He’s been impressive in his interviews since being drafted, and he’s certainly saying all the right things at this stage to prove that he’s got the right mindset to succeed.
All of that said, we haven’t seen him on the field yet, so it’s hard to tell how fast he’ll move in the Reds organization.
AZSP: What should be the Reds path going forward? They have plenty of attractive pieces to build around going forward, Raisel Iglesias, Joey Votto, and Adam Duvall, but these are players already on the roster who are not getting the job done. The Milwaukee Brewers are likely on the tail end of their rebuilding phase, the Cubs are the Cubs, leaving St. Louis and Pittsburgh as likely sellers. Where does that leave the Reds? Should they follow a path similar to the Diamondbacks and stay put building on what they have, or should they begin the rebuilding process now with the hope of being competitive again in 2020?
BK: I think they’d be best served staying building on what they have now. They went through a big transition over the past few years, losing the likes of Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Jay Bruce, and Todd Frazier, and are starting to see the pieces from those deals start to pan out. I’d be surprised if they decide to trade Iglesias with multiple years of remaining control, and Joey Votto’s going nowhere. Cozart remains the last piece of the puzzle to figure out, but once he’s taken care of, the Reds think they have the core of the next good Reds team in place.
AZSP: How much longer does Bryan Price remain as manager? Can any of recent failures be attributed to his leadership? Should the Reds perhaps change the face of leadership and hope for better results to follow?
BK: If there was going to be a change made with Price, it would have happened after last season. The Reds showed a willingness to let him grow with this young team, and it looks like he’ll be at the helm at least through next season.
To me, he’s been dealt a bad hand since Day 1 in Cincinnati, and the losing that’s happened under his watch isn’t all his fault. Injuries have been bad, and the previous GM insisted on having a lot more control over the on-field decisions as the current one does. If he can get a healthy roster next year, we’ll have a much better idea of his managerial skills.
AZSP: What are your predictions for this series? How do the Reds win the upcoming series versus the Diamondbacks?
BK: The Reds are kind of on autopilot right now, but Luis Castillo and Homer Bailey have been impressive in their last starts, so anything can happen when either of those two guys are on their game. I’m predicting a 2-1 series win for Arizona.