2014 Reds / Spring Training

Spring Training Doesn’t Matter

Several people, both here and on Twitter are getting alarmed about the Reds spring training performance.

Just an FYI -

Spring Records
2010: 12-16
2011: 17-14
2012: 15-17
2013: 13-20

Boy, remember 2011 when the Reds came out of spring with a winning record. Boy that sure was a good year, wasn’t it… Wait, what?… Oh, it was a bad year?… Didn’t make the playoffs, huh?… Bummer.

Look guys, this is tongue in cheek and I get that we always want the Reds to win, but chill. Spring records and stats don’t really mean anything.

48 thoughts on “Spring Training Doesn’t Matter

  1. It would be nice to see more consistent offense. While wins and losses don’t matter, the lack of run production seems a bit worrisome. Like what Hamilton has been doing, however.

  2. I think the radio announcers during one of the recent games said it best, “It’s practice.” They talked of how losing in ST “can” have a negative affect going into the season. But, that doesn’t mean “will” have an effect at all. As long as everyone will still be able to step it up from opening day on, that’s the only thing that counts.

  3. As long as they get their work in, it is not a problem. The status of Sean Marshall is really odd and I’m beginning to wonder if that arm has thrown one too many benders.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan:

      The Marshall saga is really starting to bother me. It would be nice if the organization was a little more forthcoming about what is going on. Which this reminds me of a few years back. We picked up Grant Balfour and basically paid for him to rehab then he was gone. Can anybody explain what happened there? Did we just let him walk? Did we trade him? He went back to being a pretty good pitcher and all we got left with was a bill!

      • @Latos_intollerant: I agree. With Marshall, I see Masset and Burton all over again. And, I still don’t count Broxton and Cueto out of that, either.

        As far as Balfour goes, apparently, we signed him as a FA in 2006 and, yes, paid for his rehab. I don’t understand why we signed him, though. Because, in 2005, he was injured all season and didn’t pitch, being let go by the Twins after the season. Then, after we let him go after 2006, he did pitch in 2007, though not effectively. After that, with the exception of one hiccup year, he seems to have been a great pickup.

  4. Spring Training … Pitchers I look for two things; Velocity and Health. So long as arms are strong and everyone comes out ready to go, let them throw whatever they want to throw (for the guys already on the 25 man roster. For those not, it is much more important).

    Hitters, I look for three things. Fielding, Approach and Health. Are guys going to the plate with an idea in mind. Perfect case for me is Hamilton. He’s bunting regardless of situation, defense or count. So it impresses me even more that he’s able to have such a high OBP, while he’s just practicing.

    So does record matter; not in the slightest. That being said, you cannot deny that the Reds B teams are getting slaughtered on the field. It seems every Reds roster reliever has an ERA above 6, and then there are guys like Corcino, who won’t be playing baseball much longer.

    All in all; I would like to see better results from Phillips, Votto, Ludwick etc. on O and from the bullpen; but I don’t think I’m “concerned”.

    • @FrustratedRedsFan: The only “minor” concern I have is the Farm System appears bereft of readily available talent.

      You mention Corcino – what is up with that? Looks like he has no business in Professional Baseball. Hope he starts to figure it out.

      • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Corcino is a surprise to me, also. I always heard something like a Cueto clone. But, his accuracy has been nothing this ST. Definitely not major league ready.

        As well as, what you mentioned with the amount of “ready talent” in the minors”, why I would “almost” rather see the Reds write off this season in order to concentrate on building the minors back up. I’m not talking a firesale. I’m talking about hiring additional hitting and pitching instructors to go through the minors, really concentrate on developing the talent we do have down there, getting them through the minors faster, etc.

  5. You want them to “write off” the season so they can rebuild the minors? With this rotation? Are you kidding?

  6. This year for the Reds is supposedly about a new approach and a new attitude. I think it is never too early to start showing that through everything they do including the game situations.

    As I said in a previous thread, there is work to be done and wear and tear on the bodies to save for the regular season. However neither of these two important factors need to be compromised to to try and win a game versus just going out and going through the motions. The issue is making adjustments in how the work is done and the limited use of the bodies is made so that both are done in a way that might be more likely to lead to wins.

  7. Spring training is just guys trying stuff out. A lot of what you see them do they wouldn’t do in the real season in the same situation.

    Like Billy said, he tries to bunt when the IF is trying different defenses on him so he will have an idea of what does and doesn’t work when the games matter.

    Honestly, I don’t even know what the Reds’ record is in ST this year nor do I care to find out. I believe they shouldn’t even bother tracking wins and losses.

    • @CI3J:

      Yea, the Wins and Losses definitely don’t matter; but I don’t think Price can be pleased w/ what he sees on the field so far (again, especially from the B squad). You like to see athleticism, skills, and potential out of the guys you don’t expect to make the squad on day 1, and to be quite honest with you … there’s been nada.

      Dear God, please keep all 25 regulars healthy.

  8. I don’t think anyone (at least I hope!) is stewing over the W-L record. I’m with @CI3J: completely regarding the team win record, “I don’t even know what the Reds’ record is in ST this year nor do I care to find out.” Up to this point, even the individual performances matter little, if at all, even items like situational hitting. The pitchers have been getting their work and innings. The hitters have been getting their stroke and timing ready. Now that the 1st cuts from the roster have been made, things start changing. Situational hitting and game performance do start to matter. Hamilton cannot be left stranded at 3B with no outs. Starting pitchers must contain the BB & HR. Relief pitchers must start stranding inherited runners on base.

    Bruce and Hamilton look ready to start the season. Votto has had 2 weeks to get comfortable managing his strike zone against live pitching. Now he needs to start putting the bat on the ball within his strike zone. Ludwick needs to start doing something, anything, productive (yesterday was a good start). The starting LF position is his to lose, but it is not guaranteed. The Reds cannot afford a miserably slow start by Ludwick as the starting LF. If he’s not hitting and hitting with power by opening day, Bryan must look to other options for LF. Frazier, Cozart, Mesoraco & Phillips are role players until they prove otherwise and the Reds have no real options for those positions and roles.

    The recent talk of getting Hannahan ready for opening day scares the daylights out of me. If Hannahan is completely healthy, he could be a valuable role player off the bench, but he is not healthy and just because he is signed to a guaranteed contract doesn’t change that situation. The same goes for Marshall. I’m not sure how the 60-day DL works at the start of the season, but if either Hannahan or Marshall can be retroed back on the 60 day DL, the Reds need to make that move until the player proves they are completely healthy and ready to go. This game that the Reds management has played by keeping injured players (see Phillips and Hanigan) on the active roster rather than using the 15-day DL, or bouncing players on and off the 15-day DL rather than getting the players fully recovered on the 60 day DL has to stop. Let the players get game ready on a rehab assignment. Unfortunately, Bryan’s comments regarding the release of HenRod and the reduced playing time that would have been available for HenRod point to having already made the decision on sending Soto back to AAA, leaving a utility IF position waiting for Hannahan.

    Santiago is an aging (entering his age 35 season) utility SS, 2 years removed from his last productive season. Over the past 2 seasons Santiago slashed .215/.290/.279 with a 55 OPS+. Santiago can still field effectively at SS, but he offers no offensive production and has slashed .150/.261/.200 this spring. Diaz is a 27 year old career minor league SS with a grand total of 36 PA for Pittsburgh back in 2010. He has average defensive capability at SS and no offensive capability (career .626 OPS in 5 seasons at AAA). Diaz has slashed a whopping .176/.176/.353 this spring. Neither of those 2 players should see a 25-man roster spot, except in an absolute emergency.

    • @Shchi Cossack: The thing with Santiago is, if he did have some offensive skills still, then he would probably be playing for a starting job somewhere else. That’s why he’s here playing for a bench position. All bench players lack one skill or more.

      • @steveschoen: There is a difference between having good skills, having some skills and having no skills. The Reds seem to opt for those veteran utility IF with absolutely no offensive skills and are then surprise when they make no offensive contributions, so they do the same thing the following year and the following year and the following year…

        Such a decision again this year cannot be laid at Dusty’s feet this time, but the decision has yet to be made official.

  9. I think we’re about to be pleasantly surprised. 3 Reasons for optimism, that we can share to pull the masses away from the edge of the moon deck:
    1.) Cueto is healthy, and no longer has a vertebre crushing delivery.
    2.) Billy is looking Above Average AT WORST! Not to say he’s gonna be an all-star… but he’s gonna be an all-star.
    3.) New hitting coach will work wonders. Lower strikout rates across the board.

    18 Days till Opening Day. 7 Months, 9 days till Reds vs Rangers at GABP.

  10. I’m not certain how anybody could or would want to be making assessments about the consistency of the offense and what the team looks like when so many innings are being played by guys that are not going to be anywhere near the field come opening day.

    And the argument works both ways… say the Reds were smoking hot right now: It still wouldn’t mean anything. Too much of spring training is an inauthentic replication of the actual season. Other teams have guys in AA playing too… it’s all just glorified simulation. Think about how games against late Sept call ups are discounted a bit… now slash that discount by another 80%. ;)

    Spring training isn’t meaningless, but it means very little.

    • @Matt WI: True. It would be like trying to predict playoff seeding off of NFL preseason games. Everyone is playing the fringe guys, and no one (except Billy) is trying their hardest. (If Billy is not trying his hardest… OMG this gonna be awesome.)

  11. hey everyone,

    I know this doesn’t really pertain much to spring training talk, but as far as an indication of what the media thinks of Bryan Price as manager, there’s a great article on ESPN about it.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/spring-training/post/_/id/1869/price-will-likely-be-a-great-leader?ex_cid=espnapi_public

    Turns out they think Price will be really good. I think we will all regret this move didn’t happen sooner by the end of the season.

  12. Okay, I know that spring training means basically nothing and that Ludwick is a historically slow starter. However, I wonder if there is any chance of Soto playing 3B and moving Frazier into LF.

    I have no idea how Soto would be at the hot corner, but I sure like the thought of it if he can be an average defensive player.

    • @Kyle Farmer: I disagree with you here. Even if Ludwick isn’t ready, I don’t move Frazier to LF. Frazier is well above average defensively at 3B. Moving him to LF will probably weaken 3B and he isn’t likely to be much better than average as a defender in LF. Soto can play 3B and doesn’t embarrass himself at the hot corner. That said, he’s below average defensively there. It makes more sense to try him in LF than it does to move Frazier around. That said, I don’t see the Reds doing anything even that radical. I think Ludwick will have lots of time to try to produce before the Reds look at replacing him. The likely replacements would be Schumaker and Heisey in that event.

      • @LWBlogger: You’re right LWBlogger. My idea weakens the team defensively at two positions. I’m intrigued about Soto getting some reps in LF down in Louisville. My expectations for Ludwick are just terrible. Hope he proves me wrong!

  13. Well, since the Reds had losing records in all of those prior springs and failed to win a championship, I’d say this spring is reason for alarm. Now if they were doing something different–saying playing at a .600 clip–I’d feel a lot different. That would be different than prior springs and a reason for optimism.

    • @Carl Hudson: So because the Reds haven’t won a championship when they’ve had a losing (or winning) record in spring training, and they aren’t winning at a .600-clip this spring, you’re pessimistic about the season? Before it has even started? Why bother at all? I mean only one team gets to win the World Series and only 2 teams even get to win a pennant.

  14. Only a nervous fan would say such a thing. It matters in the sense that it can dictate the energy and attitude going into a season. If they were undefeated, we’d be excited, don’t kid yourself.

    • @likethefish:

      If the Reds were undefeated or if the Reds were yet to win a game by this point, I would feel exactly the same as I do now. It simply doesn’t matter; as long as everyone is healthy and getting their reps, everything is good.

      I’m more interested in individual performance than team records, and even then I don’t put much stock in it until the final week of ST when players start gearing up for the real games. The final week of ST, when teams are more or less playing their regulars for whole contests with managers managing and players playing as they would in “real” games, is the only part of ST that remotely comes close to mattering in terms of wins and losses.

      Caring about ST win-loss records is like caring about which batter gets the most hits in batting practice.

  15. In this case an anecdote is a perfect explanation of why a teams spring W-L record and stats don’t mean much.

    A couple of days ago. SF Giants closer Sergio Romo was brought into a spring training game. His slider one of the most devastating pitches against right handers in the game.

    He was pitching against non-prospect minor league players.
    He not only got rocked, but I don’t remember him getting a single out.
    A good major league closer pitched to 6 or 7 scrubs and didn’t record an out?

    I was watching the game. It was CLEAR what was going on. He didn’t throw a single slider.
    A day or two later I think it was fangraphs who wrote about Romo’s spring outing. They noticed the same thing…no sliders.
    Fangraphs included quotes from Romo saying he wasn’t throwing his slider because he was working on his changeup and wanted to throw as many as possible. Do his stats mean anything? Did the team loss mean anything? Romo was working on a 3rd pitch and pretty much went fastball-changeup, fastball-changeup.

    Another story. In one spring game one of the teams SS got hurt and the team was out of position players. So for the last 2 innings they borrowed a player from the other team to play SS. Does the fact that that team lost mean something?

    A very long time ago a friend said spring training tells you two VERY important things. Who’s healthy and who’s ready to start the season.

  16. The one thing about spring training that I am hoping for:

    That Chris Heisey finally has the lights come on.

    Yes, Billy is important and I love his progress in Spring Training and hope that will continue.

    But I really hope the new hitting instruction helps Heisey understand where right field is on his swing. He is so pull happy that it has stunted his growth as a hitter.

    In GABP, guys do not need to pull the ball, but they need to take the new Zack Cozart approach and let the HR’s come when the come

    • The one thing about spring training that I am hoping for:

      That Chris Heisey finally has the lights come on.

      Yes,Billy is important and I love his progress in Spring Training and hope that will continue.

      But I really hope the new hitting instruction helps Heisey understand where right field is on his swing.He is so pull happy that it has stunted his growth as a hitter.

      In GABP,guys do not need to pull the ball, but they need to take the new Zack Cozart approach and let the HR’s come when the come

      Mez could use a little bit of that right field medicine. He’d to well to copy Molina’s approac at the plate.

  17. Chris Heisey is now hitting 400. The guy has had a great spring. I hope it carries over and that he forces his way into the lineup…in front of Ludwick

    • @reaganspad:

      It’s nice to see Heisey swinging a good bat. 4 HR’s and 9 RBI’s to add to that. Maybe its his time to seize the opportunity by the throat. If he can just stay healthy.
      The Reds should start shopping Ludwick and offer to pay half his salary. That could open a spot for Bernadina.

      • @WVRedlegs: Yup, it’s coming… wait for it…

        Free Heisey!

        ….really hope he keeps mashing the ball in the regular season. A RH power bat would be so welcome in LF. I noticed Heisey hasn’t taken a walk yet, but I guess when you’re batting .400 and slugging over .900, who needs walks?

  18. Goodness!! IT IS SPRING TRAINING. They are training. Votto is not hitting-he never does in ST. Ludwick is not hitting-so what else is new? The AA pitchers are not pitching well-that is why they are still in the minors. Hamilton, Bruce, Heisey are hitting well-it is still ST and until it counts it does not mean anything. Dont get me wrong, I think that Bruce is going to have a pretty good season. I am not worried about CF, there are plenty of OF to cover the three positions. Heisey may take the job away fron Ludwick-would that be a bad thing?
    Now to those who are talking about the minors being bereft of talent-not all the prospects were invited to camp. Earvin was not there-Barnhart hit just fine. LaMarre does not seem to be a major leaguer. The pitchers are for the most part young. The Reds brought in a lot of guys for ST, but most will not be on the 25, but may be on the 40. I suspect that, if possible, some of the extra 19 still in camp will be in Louisville, or Pensacola.
    Most of all though, it is ST.

    • @redmountain:

      LaMarre does not seem to be a major leaguer.

      Prior to last season, LaMarre had a stellar minor league career up through AA. Then last season, his performance tanked through the all star break, slashing .226/.311/.347. LaMarre got back on track after the all star break last season, slashing .292/.362/.431. LaMarre is a superb defensive CF with speed. He will get the chance to prove himself at AAA in 2014, his age 25 season. He may or may not eventually make the show, but I wouldn’t write him off just yet. He may just throw his hat in the ring along with Rodriguez, Winker & Ervin as future OF options at the major league level.

      • @Shchi Cossack: I’m not sure I see LaMarre as a MLB starter. That said, his ability to play all three OF positions would make him a nice 4th/5th OF assuming he can hit even a little bit.

      • @LWBlogger: I agree that his probable ceiling is utility OF, but I think he has an outside chance as a starting CF and top of the order hitter, if he can maintain a .350+ OBP at the major league level. Even as a utility OF, LaMarre’s timing might be key. Heisey will start getting expensive in arbitration ($1.7MM as a super two this season) and Ludwick in the final guaranteed year of his contract. LaMarre must step up his game at AAA this season or time and age will start becoming a factor. Imagine a lineup with Hamilton leading off and LaMarre hitting 2nd! That could be scary good with Votto and Bruce following those two runners. There certainly wouldn’t be any grounding into a double play in front of Votto and Bruce and with those two on base, anything could happen.

  19. So.. is anyone else worried that since spring training started, there’s been a lot of Cozart batting 2nd (he has the most AB of anyone batting 2nd), Ludwick batting 4th (only 1 less AB than Bruce there), and Chapman still being a closer? Oh, and now this morning in the paper I saw where Price said he plans on resting his regulars frequently and “everyone’s going to play”.

    I feel like all those things we were excited about changing with a new manager seem increasingly unlikely to change.

    • @ToddAlmighty: Cozart has been hitting #2 way too often (more than 0 is too often) for my taste. You might also recognize that his hot start this spring cooled off as soon as he was slotted into the #2 hole. Cozart is a slugger, not an on-base guy. Let him do what he does best down in the order. The Chapman thing was a no-brainer this season. That ship sailed for the last time in 2013. Resting the regulars can mean two things with either a positive or a negative impact. If the regulars are rested by playing inept, over-the-hill veterans (i.e. Santiago playing frequently for any reason), then Bryan learned nothing from Dusty’s mistakes. If the regulars are rested by taking advantage of the players strengths and contributions (i.e. Heisey playing against a primarily fast ball pitcher or Schumaker playing against a stud RHP), the reults could be positive. I have some concerns, but I’m still witholding judgement and criticism until the regular season begins.

      • @Shchi Cossack: Yeah, I am trying to not freak out or read too much into it since it’s Spring Training and all. Today’s game made Phillips pass Cozart for most AB batting #2… but 13 of his 30 AB coming at #2 is 13 too many. Also for Ramon Santiago, 10 of 23 of his AB have come batting #2. That smells of “CF and SS bat #1 and #2 because that’s what they do.” Ludwick also has more AB batting 4th than Bruce does now. Mesoraco unsurprisingly leads the team in AB 8th.

        As for the “everyone is going to play”.. I saw it in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Here’s the quote from another site.

        QUOTE TO NOTE: “Everyone’s going to play. That doesn’t mean everyone is going to play evenly. I’d like to have an active bench. I like to get (Skip) Schumaker floating around and getting at-bats. I’d like the same thing for (Chris) Heisey and (Jack) Hannahan, if he’s ready. (Brayan) Pena is going to play regularly because he’s our second catcher. The only way to do that is to give other guys days off. How that plays out, I don’t know. I hate to put something on record that I’m going to give anyone a certain number of days off. I think everyone can anticipate days off.” — Reds manager Bryan Price

        I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt until the season starts and we see what really happens when games matter… but SS batting 2nd, Ludwick splitting the rightiest, catcher can only bat 8th, Chapman closing, bad bench players getting plenty of playing time. It just all smells an awful lot like Dusty Baker.

        • @ToddAlmighty: Having everyone play relatively frequently doesn’t worry me much. The regulars need regular rest to be effective late in the season and reduce injury risk, and the irregulars need playing time to be effective when they do play. Of course, this does depend upon who the irregulars are.

        • @greenmtred: It’s Spring Training. What else is he supposed to say? I would have been surprised if he framed it any way other than “everybody is here to contribute and be a major part of this team.” coach-speak.

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