[This report was filed by Robert Meyer from the event in Nashville, TN. Robert breaks some news this afternoon, as I believe he is the first person to have ever asked Walt Jocketty why he didn't block the Pirates from acquiring Marlon Byrd. If you want to know Jocketty's answer to that and several other questions, read on.]
It is a beautiful but cold day in the Music City. We had a bit of sleet this morning that made for more worry then actual travel issues. But it was not enough to deter Reds fans from making the trek to the Caravan.
It was supposed to start at 9:00 CST and my wife and I were there a few minutes early. We walked around and picked up all the “freebees” we could, including a Reds Hall of Famer’s print that was only a dollar. Then we sat down and waited for the guys to show. At this point there were probably 30-40 people there but it was starting to fill in.
The guys came in about 9:45 to a rousing round of applause (except for Mr. Red who may have been stuck at Printer’s Alley downtown, no one was really sure). Our group included Thom Brennaman, Jim Day, Walt Jocketty, Sam LeCure, Corky Miller, Ryan LaMarre and Phil Castellini.
Thom took the mic and thanked all the people that were responsible for the Caravan and introduced each of the participants. He then opened the floor to questions.
Here are a few notes of some of the questions and answers. Most questions were directed at Walt Jocketty.
I asked him why he didn’t make a waiver claim on Marlon Byrd to block the Pirates. He said he didn’t want to take on his contract and would only make a claim if he intended to keep the player. He also said he didn’t know the Pirates would make the claim.
Walt said the top priority going into spring training was making sure all those who were injured were healthy and ready to go. He also said that finding a backup shortstop from either free agency or from the minors (I’m not sure who that would be – my words) was at the top of the list.
He was asked how much Bryan Price will work with the pitchers. He said that Jeff Pico would handle most of it but that Price would have his say.
Someone asked if the Reds would sign/get another outfielder. The answer was no, not at this point.
He was asked about the window for the Reds. He said a lot depends on Billy Hamilton. He said that Billy really worked hard on his bunting and base running in the Arizona Fall League.
He was asked about the culture in the clubhouse and who might be the leaders. He immediately said Sam LeCure and everyone got a good laugh. Seriously, he said he thought Jay Bruce and Skip Schumaker would take on the role. I got the impression that Schumaker is a blue-collar, in-your-face kind of player. The Reds need more of those types.
He talked about some of the “next wave” of players that we will be seeing soon including Ryan LaMarre, Nick Travieso, Robert Stevenson and Phil Ervin. They are very excited about these young men.
I asked Sam LeCure if he thought Bryan price would be more of an “old school”, “sabermetrics” or “free thinker” manager. Sam admitted he wasn’t very familiar with sabermetrics but thought Price was somewhat old school but really looked at statistics when preparing the pitchers.
Thom Brennaman chimed in about how this was a great time for the Reds and that they were built for the long haul. He thinks this is as good as it has been for the Reds since the Big Red Machine days and that we should be very excited.
That concluded the Q & A and they started the autograph line. At this point the crowd had swelled to 120-150. As I was getting my ball signed I asked Thom if he thought Chapman SHOULD start or relieve. He said, “I think that ship has sailed.”
Whew! That concluded the Caravan for us. It is great to get a bit of baseball on a cold winter day. Spring training games are a little over a month away.