No Turning Back




The season is over. Finally. Okay, okay, three games left, but really, we’re done. It’s been terrible and now it’s time for the playoffs and then winter and all that. As this is my last post of the year, I suppose it would be natural to review the dumpster fire that was the 2015 season, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to give you reasons to care about next year. Hard as that may seem. Let’s start in the easiest place:

Joey Votto Lives! This season was the best season of Votto’s career. Yes, even better than when he won the MVP,  which he’d probably deserve this year if not for some guy in DC named Harper. Votto will be back next year and he will still be great. Only 24 more roster spots to go.

The infield is set: Votto, Frazier, a healthy Mesoraco, and some combination of Cozart, Suarez, and Phillips should mean that the Reds have no worries at all about their infield. If it were me, I’d look to trade Phillips, who has rebuilt his value considerably this year, and stick with the younger guys up the middle.

It’s all about growth: This year, the Reds started ALL the rookie pitchers. Really. There were no more left. The thing about rookies, especially pitchers, is that often, they get better. Oh, also, there’s this guy named Robert Stephenson who’s probably ready. You might have heard of him.

The outfield has to be better. It just does. It couldn’t be worse. Plus, this is probably the year Jesse Winker arrives.

So, realistically, are the Reds going to be any kind of force next year? No. But they also aren’t likely to be what they’ve been in 2015. The second half of this season was as much of a punt as anything you’ll ever see, especially with the pitching staff. And that’s unlikely to happen again.

How good or bad the Reds are next year is going to depend on the development of the new crop of players coming along and how a few players recover from injuries (think Mes and Homer). If the pitching staff develops and the Reds bring in someone like Arroyo to eat innings, I don’t have to work too hard to see them reaching .500 again. Any lineup that has a healthy Votto, Frazier, and Mesoraco in it is capable of doing damage.

If things go well, next year will be a transitional year. Much of the old guard is gone and a new crop of players is coming in. How the Reds perform for the next several years will depend a great deal on how these new players do. And so, there’s reason to hope. It was a bad year. It can’t get much worse. Next year will be better. And anyway, it’s always baseball. See you in the spring.

Jason Linden is a Nuxhall Way contributor who also writes for Redleg Nation and The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is out now. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonLinden.

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