Cincinnati Reds 2018 projection: On the upswing, but barely

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 11:23 AM

Cincinnati Reds GM Dick Williams discusses how the Reds will determine when to call up top prospect Nick Senzel, who finished last season in Double-A

Baseball Prospectus has good news and bad for the Cincinnati Reds. 

The site’s annual PECOTA projections have the Reds improving over last season but failing to get out of the basement in the National League Central. 

The Reds will win 74 games in 2018, which would be six more than last year, but still finish three games behind the Pirates. 

RELATED: Reds reps talk Nick Senzel, young pitchers, 1990 World Series memories and more

The projections have the Cubs winning the division with the Cardinals and Brewers also finishing above .500 after both teams were aggressive in adding talent in the offseason. 

For what it’s worth, projecting the season for the Reds might be harder than some clubs considering the uncertainty regarding the pitching staff. 

While manager Bryan Price has said he expects his rotation to include Luis Castillo, Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan with a fifth starter to be determined, DeSclafani and Finnegan are both coming off of years mostly lost to injury. 

PECOTA expects DeSclafani to make 16 starts with Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano getting 23 apiece. 

RELATED: One on one with Reds GM Dick Williams

The projection also includes Jesse Winker getting 60 percent of the playing time in right field and 10 percent in left field with Scott Schebler getting 40 percent of the time in right and 20 percent in left. 

How those things actually shake out remains to be seen. 

The other projected division winners are the Dodgers, Nationals, Astros, Indians and Yankees. 

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Hartman: The NFL tries to clean up its national anthem morass

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 1:44 PM

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04:  Pink sings the national anthem prior to Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Pink sings the national anthem prior to Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The NFL’s new national anthem policy probably makes about as much sense as anything the league could have done after two years of being damaged both coming and going on this topic. 

No one should be required to acknowledge national symbols if they feel those symbols don’t represent them, but there is a difference between being absent and being disrespectful. 

The line there might be fine, but it is still there, and it is significant. 

RELATED: NFL announces changes to pregame rules

Allowing players to opt out of pregame ceremonies means they don’t have to compromise their beliefs and allows those who value those couple of moments to reflect and pay respect to do so as well. 

Obviously those who choose to stay in the locker room will simultaneously be going on the record that they have something to express, and there is no doubt they will not have trouble finding anyone to ask what that might be. 

As for those whose experience was absolutely ruined by the players’ kneeling, they might be wise to look around and make sure everyone around them is paying attention and being respectful, too, but maybe that’s another story. 

All along there have surely been people who would support the players’ actions no matter what they did and people who would oppose them no matter what they did. 

RELATED: Jim Brown supports Kaepernick 100 percent but wouldn’t sit for anthem

The time that the actual act of sitting or kneeling (which was a laudable attempt at compromise) really matters expired a long time ago. 

Despite the serious flaws in the original method and the divisiveness of Colin Kaepernick’s initial explanation for sitting, the potential converts have been converted. 

The holdouts aren’t listening, and continuing to try to get a message across in the same way is senseless (as was the President’s decision to drudge it all back last year). 

The NFL has taken up many of the causes of its players, and the change in awareness, at least of those who will ever be willing to listen, has come. That doesn’t mean the causes the players are fighting for are won, but there are other battles more wise to fight because they can actually be won, too. 

That awareness also means many more people are ready, willing and able to share the story the players want to tell. 

Wasn’t that the point in the first place? 

Because if it was, arguing over how to protest seems like a pretty big waste of time. 

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NFL creates new policy to deal with anthem protests

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 9:48 AM

Bengals on Anthem protest

The National Football League Players Association released a statement of its own critical of the implementation of the new policy. It reads:

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

UPDATE: 12:17 p.m.  — The NFL announced its new policy regarding protests of the national anthem accompanied by a statement from commissioner Roger Goodell.

In the statement, Goodell said, “The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.

“The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed,” the statement continued. “The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress. It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.”

The new anthem policy is as follows:

  1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
  2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
  3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.
  4. A club will be fined by the league if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
  5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
  6. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:47 a.m. — In a busy start to the NFL owners meetings in Atlanta, the league approved new rules for the kickoff Tuesday and continued discussions about what can be done about players who kneel during the national anthem.

“We certainly want to make and will make a thought-out, deliberate decision,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the Associated Press. “Whatever we do, let’s put the focus on what the NFL’s about and that’s playing football.”

›› No longer playing catch up, John Ross impressive at first OTA practice

Among the measures being discussed are assessing a 15-yard penalty against any player who kneels or otherwise protests during the national anthem. The league also is looking at changing the pregame routine, allowing teams to stay in the locker room until after the anthem is played.

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The new kickoff rules, which were first proposed a couple of weeks ago when Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons was part of paneldiscussing options to make the play safer, include eliminating wedge blocks, prohibiting running starts for the kicking team, aligning eight of the 11 players on the return team in a 15-yard zone near midfield and mandating a touchback any time the ball hits the ground in the end zone.

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Sports Today: Matt Harvey, Scooter Gennett give Reds interesting options

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 11:08 AM

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 22: Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Tucker Barnhart #16 and Joey Votto #19 after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on May 22, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 7-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 22: Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Tucker Barnhart #16 and Joey Votto #19 after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on May 22, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 7-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds beat the Pirates last night with a pair of unlikely heroes who might be unlikely to be Reds when the summer comes to a close. 

Matt Harvey allowed one earned run on three hits in six innings, leaving the bases loaded in the first but retiring the side in order in the third, fifth and sixth innings.

Meanwhile, Scooter Gennett hit a grand slam while driving in six runs. 

Shrewd pickups last season and this season, respectively, Harvey and Gennett could become fan favorites (everyone loves an underdog story, right?), but it is more likely they will offer management a couple of mulligans after botching most of the trades that were part of dismantling the last Reds machine from 2015-16. 

But should Cincinnati think seriously about keeping them instead? 

Of course, Harvey will be a free agent so he has all the options in the world, but obviously every team needs reliable veteran pitchers to build on so he would look good in a Reds uniform for years to come. 

The question then becomes if they can afford him, and that is not an easy one to answer (unless you want to assume it’s, “No.”). He’s talented and experienced, but his struggles still being pretty recent could depress his value at least a bit and keep the Reds in it. 

Gennett has been a crucial piece of the offense since early last year, and he is still a year away from free agency. 

His being a Cincinnati native adds a potential layer of awesome to the story, but that can’t blind the team to doing what it needs to in building for the future — especially since the team’s top prospect also plays his current position

While Harvey is, or at least has been, the type of front-line starter you want to take into the postseason wars, Gennett might be best suited as a frequently-used utility guy on a postseason team. 

That means both might be more valuable to other teams, especially in the short term, but then again it offers the Reds an opportunity to send the restless fanbase a message about wanting to win. 

If they are going to start spending money at the major-league level again at some point soon (as team president Dick Williams promised before the season), here are a couple of places to start. 

Unless they cost too much or the prospects being offered in return between now and/or the trade deadline are too good to pass up, which is probably what will happen… 

The Bengals kicked off OTAs on Tuesday, and for once the story most likely to be interesting actually was interesting. 

That would be John Ross. 

The Bengals’ 2017 first-round pick looked sharp, getting in and out of breaks cleanly and earning praise from the coaches and some encouragement from Andy Dalton. 

Ross was the intended receiver on an interception by Dre Kirkpatrick, prompting coach Marvin Lewis to scold him for not going after the ball as Kirkpatrick jumped a short out route, but the youngster came back a few minutes later and made a nice play on a deep ball. 

“He had a bunch of good plays today, and he had a couple of stupid plays, so that’s what is going to happen,” said Bob Bicknell, who is in his first year as Bengals wide receivers coach. “I’m glad he does. I’d be upset if we weren’t doing some stupid things right now so you go in and coach it up.”

Of course, days like Tuesday (no pads) are set up for Ross to succeed since his greatest assets are his speed and quickness, but almost literally anything is better than last year. 

›› No longer playing catch up, John Ross impressive at first OTA practice

As Lewis reminded us after practice, Ross couldn’t even do weight training for much of last year as he recovered from shoulder surgery, so this really was a new guy we were seeing...  

The Ohio riverfront was again the site of football Monday when the Bengals began 2018 OTAs outside Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

College football recruiting has so many twists and turns, this might be outdated before I hit “publish,” but let’s give it a try anyway. 

Land of 10 reports Ohio State and Dayton Dunbar prospect Jonathan Allen have mutual interest in each other. 

That doesn’t mean the offensive tackle is a sure-thing to be a Buckeye, of course. 

Both sides are still doing their due diligence. 

“I think everyone expects him to be a Buckeye,” Dunbar coach Darran Powell said. “I don’t honestly know, but I think they may be in front. He’s visited there two or three times. Coach (Greg Studrawa), Coach (Kevin) Wilson and Coach (Urban) Meyer all do a great job. Wherever he goes, it’ll be a great look for our school. I’m just going to support him on whatever he decides to do.”

Allen named a top five of Ohio State, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and Pittsburgh. He wants to make his commitment before the end of the summer, but he figures to make a slew of visits between now and then with summer camp season right around the corner. 

Ohio State is the hometown team, as he put it, but everyone has to find the best fit for them, after all. 

“Like I tell every coach, I want to see who develops me the best. I don’t want to go anywhere where you just throw me in the fire with no help to get no better,” Allen said. “I want to develop and get better, maybe even redshirt for a year to develop and work out hard in the offseason to get ready to play.”

If Allen eventually ends up picking Ohio State, he would be the first Dayton City League scholarship player to be a Buckeye since Colonel White running back Terry Pogue in 2000. 

The last Dunbar player to sign with OSU was Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson in 1991, but Powell has already been doing a good job of producing Division I talent, including receiver Joseph Scates (Iowa State) and running back Tavion Thomas (Cincinnati) last year… 

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Dayton’s Benjamin falls in first round of NCAA tennis tournament

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 11:30 AM

Dayton tennis player Jordan Benjamin. Photo courtesy of University of Dayton
Staff Writer
Dayton tennis player Jordan Benjamin. Photo courtesy of University of Dayton(Staff Writer)

Dayton Flyers junior Jordan Benjamin recorded a victory in the first set but fell short of an upset in the first round of the NCAA tennis championship on Wednesday morning at Wake Forest University.

» EARLIER: Benjamin makes UD tennis history

Benjamin lost 7-6 (5), 1-6, 3-6 to Tulane senior Constantin Schmitz, the 15th-ranked player in the nation. Benjamin finished the season 20-2 in singles play.

Benjamin became the first Dayton tennis player to compete in the NCAA tournament.

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