Fay: Gennett is a major score for Reds -- and fans

CINCINNATI — That move was for you, Reds fans.

The Scooter Gennett signing probably didn’t move the season-ticket sales meter at all. But it shows the Reds are trying to win this season.

Gennett is a proven major leaguer and a left-handed bat with some pop. He makes the Reds' bench much better. There was a $2.5 million price tag -- Gennett’s salary -- for the upgrade.

Gennett, 26, was the rough equivalent of Brandon Phillips last year. Gennett hit .263/.317/.412 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 498 at-bats. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was 0.9; Phillips' was 0.8.

Gennett, of course, is not coming to the Reds to play every day -- but that could change if the Reds trade Zack Cozart.

Gennett joins Rule 5 catcher Stuart Turner, outfielder Patrick Kivlehan and utility Arismendy Alcantara on a four-man bench; that's not ideal in the National League, but necessary with a rotation as thin the Reds'.

Gennett is probably the last piece for the Opening Day roster. As I’ve written many times, it’s a decent roster until you get to the starting rotation, which could be called "the Five Question Marks" as the season starts.

Here’s a look at the pitching rotation:

Scott Feldman
Brandon Finnegan
Rookie Davis
Amir Garrett 
Bronson Arroyo

Davis is the biggest surprise in the group. He came to the Reds in the Aroldis Chapman trade.

Davis was the Yankees’ 6th-ranked prospect by Baseball America when they got him. He was very good at Double-A (10-3, 2.94 ERA), despite dealing with a groin strain. He’s a huge guy — 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. I think one stat won him the job this spring: 20 strikeouts, five walks. It was best ratio of the young guys.

Garrett, the 24-year-old left-hander, had a terrific spring, except for one outing.

My guess is the rotation remains in flux all year. President of baseball operations Dick Williams said as much.

Finnegan is only one of the five who spent last year in a big league rotation -- and he’s had a rough spring. You also have Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey returning at some point, as well as Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson in the bullpen.

"Of that group of young pitchers, I don't think anybody should expect to see those guys lined up that particular way for very long,” Williams told reporters in Goodyear. “It's very possible that any of those guys could appear for a certain period of time in the Major League bullpen. There's a lot of ways you can get these guys experience, a lot of ways to manage their innings. I would not read into this Opening Day setup as some permanent pref-list or ranking."

Here's the bullpen:

Raisel Iglesias
Michael Lorenzen
Drew Storen
Tony Cingrani
Blake Wood
Robert Stephenson
Cody Reed
Wandy Peralta
Barrett Astin

The Reds will have to make a move when Arroyo is officially added to the roster. My guess is Reed goes to the minors. He had one really good this spring, one really bad outing (his last one) and three so-so outings.

Astin, the 25-year-old right-hander, is a surprise. The Reds got him in the Jonathan Broxton trade. He was 9-3 with a 2.26 ERA at Double-A last year. BA lists him at 20th-ranked prospect in the system.

On paper, this is a much better bullpen than last year. But games, of course, are not played on paper. Getting out of the gate well is important for a young group.

The starting eight:

Billy Hamilton CF
Jose Peraza 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Adam Duvall LF
Eugenio Suarez 3B
Scott Schebler RF
Zack Cozart SS
Tucker Barnhart C

The Reds were in the middle of the pack in runs scored last year. Six of the starters from that cast are back. Schebler put up numbers as good as Jay Bruce would have. I think Peraza is an upgrade over Brandon Phillips.

Gennett gives the club a solid middle infield backup and the option of putting Peraza in center to spell Hamilton.

RELATED: Billy Hamilton has a chance to step up and be a leader on the Reds

But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record: The success of the season will come down to starting pitching, and the starting pitching will come down to how the young pitchers perform.

John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at johnfayman@aol.com.

 

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