The innovators are often criticized. It’ll never work, they’re told.
Wind the baseball tighter to allow more home runs? Ty Cobb hated it because it took the science out of the game. But Babe Ruth loved it, so did the fans and the sport grew. Show sports on a cable channel for 24 hours a day? Nobody will watch that. The Internet? It’s just a fad.
The Cincinnati Reds love their tradition, so it’s no surprise that it has taken them this long to embrace the modern game. This is baseball, not math, the Reds have said for the past 20 years while others have proven that math matters. Not the kind of math of counting stats that says he’s a good hitter or pitcher because he has this many of this or that. But the kind of math that looks at percentages and formulas that aren’t easy to understand. They call it analytics and it makes old-timers (mostly people over 30) roll their eyes from man caves to the broadcast booth. A lack of understanding is not a reason to dismiss an idea. It’s a reason to learn before you judge.
The Reds have finally been convinced that their way doesn’t work anymore. They’ve stopped rolling their eyes, let go of the eye-rollers who blocked progress and hired a manager with vision. Those old ways once worked for the Reds — though not as much as we’d like to think— when all teams did it that way. But when smarter ways to build a good team passed them by, so did their ability to win.
To be fair, the Reds have been moving in this direction, the one Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s began following in 1997. The Reds have an analytics director and three people they call data scientists. The problem is that too much of that information was stopping at the field manager’s door. The guys running the dugout weren’t doing enough with it. They were baseball men, after all, and they only trusted their eyes and tradition more than a spreadsheet or report they probably didn’t take the time to understand.
And the front office allowed the dysfunction to fester through Baker, Price and Riggleman. Finally, there is reason to believe that the Cincinnati Reds aren’t stuck in the 20th century.
There’s a new guy in the dugout named David Bell who has caught this vision since he left the Reds organization after managing in the minors. He’s worked for the Cardinals, Cubs and Giants, teams that have obviously done a lot more right in recent seasons than the Reds have. Yes, Bell had to leave the Reds to learn a better way.
When Bell was introduced as the new manager he said things that were an indictment of the front office and on-field dysfunction. He talked about how all of the information had to be considered from upstairs to downstairs. He asked for an offseason office upstairs and will live in Cincinnati in the offseason.
He has this crazy idea that the front office and manager’s office ought to actually work together and have shared leadership instead of a top-down model that didn’t work. Remember Jesse Winker from odd-man out to everyday right fielder in a 24-hour period? Then there was the indecision about what to do with Homer Bailey. Who’s in charge we wondered? Does this team have a strategy?
Bell surely interviewed the Reds as much as they interviewed him. He discovered the lack of communication between the front office and the dugout. He must have told Dick Williams he’s ready to listen to them, and it appears they’re ready to listen to him.
This is good for the Reds. A true strategy that teaches on-field fundamentals and has an appreciation for complex data will have a chance to develop and flourish. Players will come up from the minors and maybe not sit the bench. They won’t hear a different message from the one they’ve heard in the minors.
Now this is going to take some getting used to if you don’t buy all this analytics mumbo-jumbo. The in-game moves and strategies won’t be what your used to:
- The lineup might not be predictable.
- You won’t agree with a lot of pitching changes.
- You’ll wonder why Winker isn’t playing tonight.
- Why not bunt in this situation, you’ll wonder.
And the offseason moves:
- Why did they sign that guy?
- Why didn’t they sign that guy?
- Who are these all these prospects we just got for a proven player?
- Those aren’t the pitchers we should have gone after?
Not every move will work, but you have to play the percentages. Not every move (not even close to it) worked the old way. It’s a new world in Cincinnati. If you still have a Big Red Machine hangover, get over it. Rose, Morgan, Bench and Perez would have been free-agent eligible by 1975. In today’s market, there is no way all of them (if any of them) would have been teammates that deep into their careers.
The Reds can’t compete with big payrolls. They must copy what other small-market teams like the A’s are doing. It’s the only way to have more good seasons than bad ones like the A’s have. And maybe they’ll find that year like they did in 1990.
That’s the promise of the Bell hiring. Not because he’s necessarily destined to be a great manager but because his hiring has signaled a fundamental change in the way the Reds intend to do business. Maybe Bell will preside over the next playoff team, maybe he won’t.
But at least we can finally welcome the Reds to the 21st century.
Positives of the Cincinnati Reds 2021 Season
The highs have been high, but man oh man the lows have been low. Clay Snowden checks in to highlight some of the positives from the first part of the Cincinnati Reds season.
The highs have been high, but man oh man the lows have been low. This season has entertained us with some big moments like sweeping the cardinals, Wade Miley’s no – no, and a couple of winning streaks. The low’s have been low. Like, lower than Geno’s batting average low. I still have nightmares about the west coast trip. And as of right now, the Reds are hovering around .500. To be frank, that’s about where they should be. A roster with this many flaws, fakes, and aches won’t win many divisions, even if it’s an easier one like the NL Central. I wanted to take today to highlight some of the positives from the first part of the season.
The Future is Bright
The Reds rookie class is shaping up to be more than a few contributing pieces, but a core a build around. Johnathan India started off scorching hot, cooled down, but has since blossomed into one of the integral parts of this team and the Reds future. The former 5th overall pick switched positions and has shown he can flash the leather at second. Slashing .262/.374/.396 on the year, he’s really turned it on in June slashing .303/.425/.455. The most important part…the Reds have found a leadoff hitter. Something they have struggled to find.
Tyler Stephenson has not only shown he can hit at the big league level, but that he can become one of the best hitting catchers. His ability to play first has been the cherry on top. Slashing .269/.378/.425 with 5 HR he’’s proving he needs to play every day. I expect a big breakout in 2022. What Alejo Lopez has shown in the minors is promising as a future switch-hitting bench bat that puts the ball in play.
The rookie arms have shown flashes as well. Vladimir Gutierrez and Tony Santillan have not been perfect, but they have shown enough to have a role in the future. Even if they become 4 or 5 starters under cheap team control, that’s a plus for the Reds. The top two pitching prospects, Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, have been battling for the title of “future ace”. Both have looked great, especially Lodolo. Greene is younger but developing quickly. Art Warren isn’t exactly a prospect but has pitched well enough to get a mention.
Internal MVP Race
No matter what the Reds do this summer, we will always have the summer of the MVP race. Jesse Winker has blossomed into one of the best pure hitters in the MLB while tapping into more power than he was every projected to have. Nicholas Castellanos had a frustrating covid season in 2020, where he showed power but chased too many bad pitches. Fast forward to 2021 and he’s a doubles machine. He’s hitting everything. Who knows how much longer he’ll be a Red, but what’s happening right now, two all star outfielders, doesn’t happen often. Enjoy it.
Reds Broadcast Team
I watch about 8 MLB games a night. Fantasy baseball has turned me into a monster, and MLB TV quad screen has been feeding that monster. I listen to games every time I’m in the car, and I can say with certainty the Reds have one of the best radio + TV groups. John Sadak has been energizing, positive, quirky, and unique. He’s been a breath of fresh air compared to the previous. Larkin was awful at the beginning of the season but has improved, and will continue to improve. Tommy Thrall is gold. He’s in his second year but has been amazing. Chris Welch brings intelligence of the game that makes us smarter each day and Cowboy is just fun as can be. It might seem small but trust me a bad team with bad announcers is unbearable. The Reds nailed this.
A baseball season is a roller coaster of emotions. 162 games is a long season. Sure, it’s frustrating that Bob won’t spend the money, but at the end of the day I am thankful I have a team to watch every day. Especially after last season, I will not take that for granted.
Forgotten Names From Cincinnati Reds Past: Where They are Now
I decided I’d construct a list of former Cincinnati Reds players (or organizational players) who are rostered in some form of professional baseball.
On May 22nd, Jose Godoy, a back up catcher with 9 years of minor league experience, debuted for the Seattle Mariners. You might not know who Godoy is, and why should you? He’s already back in AAA. He became the 20,000 player to ever play in the major leagues, and likely an answer to a future trivia question. Every few months I find myself shuffling through random rosters in search of the “AH I Remember that guy” moment. While doing this, I decided I’d construct a list of former Reds players (or organizational players) who are rostered in some form of professional baseball. The process consisted of me reviewing rosters and going solely based off my memory, so I likely missed several.
Nick Longhi (OF – Isotopes)
Juan Graterol (C – Bisons)
Christian Colon (IF – Bisons)
Dilson Herrera (IF – Bisons) The return of the Jay Bruce trade.
Scott Moss (P – Clippers)
Patrick Kivlehan (OF Chihuahuas)
Brian O’Grady (OF Chihuahaus)
Jesse Biddle (P Stripers)
Tanner Roark (P – Stripers)
Phillip Ervin (OF – Stripers) I once wrote that Winker and Ervin would lead to a perfect LF platoon team…lol.
Joe Hudson (C – Indians)
Ron Villone (Pitching Coach – Iowa Cubs)
Josh A. Smith (P – Jumbo Shirmp)
Chad Wallach (C – Jumbo Shrimp)
Brandon Allen (Hitting Coach – Redbirds)
Rick Sweet (Manager – Sounds) Former Bats manager and one of the nicest guys.
Nick Ciuffo (C – Tides)
Seth Mejias-Brean (IF – Tides)
Josiah Gray (P – Dodgers)
Kevin Quackenbush (P – Dodgers)
Tim Federowicz (C – Dodgers)
Matt Davidson (1B – Dodgers)
Emmanuel Burriss (Hitting Coach – Dodgers)
Domingo Tapia (P- Chasers)
Alex Powers (P – Aces)
Stuart Fairchild (OF – Aces)
Jimmy Herget (P-Express) Man I was high on Herget. He never panned out.
Chadwick Tromp (C – River Cats)
Arismendy Alcantara (IF – River Cats)
Jolbert Cabrera (Fundamentals Coach – River Cats)
Packy Naughton (P – Bees)
Scott Schebler ( OF- Bees) He will go down as the most forgotten player to ever hit 30 HR in a season.
Lou Marson (Manager – Bees)
Ray Olmedo (Defensive Coach – Bees)
Sal Romano (P – RailRiders)
Asher Wojciechowski (P – RailRiders)
Derek Dietrich (IF – RailRiders) The 2019 Reds were not very good, but man they were fun. DD was a leader of that fun.
Ryan LaMarre (OF – RailRiders)
Rob Brantley (C – RailRiders)
Jose Siri (OF Skeeters) So many tools but too many K’s. Everyone was so mad when the Reds let him go, but he hasn’t made an impact in several other stops.
Cheslor Cuthbert (IF – Mets)
Zack Weiss ( P- Rainiers) Weiss is the owner of an INF ERA
Kristopher Negron (Manager – Rainiers)
Justin Grimm (P – Rainiers)
Matt Magill (P – Rainiers)
Mike Hessman (Hitting Coach – Mud Hens)
Ian Krol (P- Mud Hens)
Austin Brice (P – Red Sox)
Jeter Downs (If – Red Sox )
Keyvius Sampson (P – Barons)
Jameson Hannah (OF – Yard Goats)
Chris Denorfia (Manager – Yard Goats) One of my favorites growing up.
Hendrik Clementina (C – Braves)
Ibandel Isabel (1B – Trash Pandas)
Mitch Nay (IF – Trash Pandas)
Matt Bowman (P Patriots)
Yasiel Puig (OF)
David Holberg (P – Milkmen)
Gavin LaValley (IF/OF Kane County Cougars)
Nick Travieso (P – Kansas City Monarchs)
Darnell Sweeney ( IF _ Kansas City Monarchs)
Gabby Guerrero (OF – Kansas City Monachs) This guy had a great year with the Bats and I thought had a chance.
Tony Cingrani (P Lexington Legends)
JJ Hoover ( P – Legends)
Jordan Pacheco (C – Legends)
Brandon Phillips (INF – Legends)
Daryl Thompson (Southern Maryland Blue Crabs)
Mat Latos (P – Southern Maryland Blue Crabs)
Under the Radar Prospects for the Cincinnati Reds: 4 Names to Know
Here are four players you may not already be aware of who could be building their prospect status for the Cincinnati Reds
Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Jose Garcia, and many other names highlight most “Reds prospect list”. But who are some other names to watch for? So much time and focus goes towards the top 30 guys, but several organizational players are starting to blossom. Let’s look at 4 names to keep an eye on that are not on the top 30 prospects.
Alejo Lopez 2B AA (25 years old .373/.447/.458 .326 wOBA)
Anyone who’s followed me on Twitter knows my love affair with Alejo Lopez. The Lookouts leadoff batter is so fun to watch. He hits everywhere he goes. A career .302/.373/.757 slash line will show that. He simply always puts the ball in play and has enough speed to steal some cheap hits (10.6% K rate 88.5% contact rate). His glove plays well enough, but his power doesn’t. 7 career home runs in 1254 at bats, but there’s enough of a hit tool to keep him interesting. You’ll see in this video how he just pokes the ball and get’s the ball in play.
Reiver Sanmartin SP AAA (25, AA stats: 18 innings 0.50 ERA 23 K’s)
Sanmartin was the extra piece acquired in the Sonny Gray deal a couple of years back from the Yankees. The lefty has steadily worked his way through the system and just got the call up to AAA Louisville. He has an interesting arm angle which helps with deception and K numbers. He’s been a starter his entire career, but with the number of high-end starter prospects ahead of him, sliding to the bullpen could be the next move. The Reds have Doolittle (FA after 2020) and Amir in the pen with Perez, Finnegan, Osich, and Diehl as organizational depth. I will be watching closely to Sanmartin this year.
Leonardo Rivas SS AA (23, .375/.490/.550 16.3% BB% 20.4 K %)
The switch-hitting SS was acquired from the Angels in the Rasiel Iglesias trade last winter. Only 23 years old, he’s still young but has plenty of experience (1445 at bats). He has speed (89 SB) and has a career .383 OBP. The Reds need an answer at short. Garcia looks like the answer for 2022, but he’ll need a back up and the organization needs depth. Rivas doesn’t project to be a star, but the only other “prospects” at short in the organization in AAA are Errol Robinson and Alfredo Rodriguez.
Dauri Moreta RP AA (25, 2.08 ERA 12 K’s 8.2 innings 2 BB)
Moreta career numbers look good but not great. However, his 2019 (and so far in 20201) looked really good. 2019: 2.35 ERA 64 K’s to 9 Walks in 57.1 innings. He has a fast past pace, quick set delivery. His strikeout to walk ratio is good enough to play. With the amount of arms the cycle through a bullpen each year, Moreta could be looking to earn a spot in 2022, or at least a chance.
Other names to watch:
Lorenzo Cedrola, Evan Kravetz, James Proctor, Daniel Vellojin, Braxton Roxby, Eduardo Salazar, Quinn Cotton