2007 Reds / Reds - General

What to expect in 2007?

So, what can we expect from the Reds this season? Well, according to GM Wayne Krivsky, improved pitching and defense:

Their biggest move was signing free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a three-year deal. Gonzalez, who has one of the best gloves in baseball at his position, will undoubtedly improve the Majors’ second-worst defense from a season ago when he teams up the middle with talented second baseman Brandon Phillips.

However, Gonzalez lacks much of a track record for hitting.

The only significant offensive player added was 40-year-old outfielder/first baseman Jeff Conine, and that was in response to the free agent departure of Rich Aurilia, who was the Reds’ most consistent hitter last season. Conine, who had 10 homers and 66 RBIs combined with the Orioles and Phillies, will likely serve as a role player.

Judging by the types of moves he made, Krivsky wasn’t concerned about a continued offensive deficit heading into the 2007 season.

He wasn’t?

“Our pitching has improved. Our defense has improved,” Krivsky said. “Theoretically, maybe it doesn’t take scoring that many runs, but obviously you still have to score runs to win. But if you pitch better and catch the ball better, it won’t take as many runs to win a game.”

Just how will they score those runs?

Expect small ball to be one avenue.

Look, I’m the last person to get on the Wayne Krivsky Tar and Feather Bandwagon, but I admit to a growing concern over the direction of this franchise. “Pitching and defense” has its merits, as a strategy, and we can debate that. But don’t you need good pitching to make that work? Until you get that good pitching, shouldn’t a team try to maximize the runs they score? (For what that’s worth, shouldn’t a team always try to maximize the runs they score?)

Reds Spring Training opens when pitchers and catchers report Feb. 17 in Sarasota, Fla. As workouts begin, look for Narron and his coaches to drive home the importance of doing the little things to win.

“That philosophy is there. It’s what I believe in,” Narron said. “We’ll see if we can get it done and execute it.” …

“Do the little things it takes to win ballgames, whether it’s taking the extra base, being heads up on the bases to take advantage of a mistake, moving runners,” Krivsky explained. “It’s doing all those types of things that help win ballgames. You can’t always depend on the three-run homer. We have to execute better than we did last year doing the little things.”

Okay, let’s have at it. This should be a fun discussion for a Monday morning.

What do you think? Is Krivsky right on the money, or is he out of his mind? Or somewhere in between?

30 thoughts on “What to expect in 2007?

  1. There’s being cautiously optimistic and flat out stupid. Wayne if definitely teetering toward the latter rather than the former.

  2. I’m not sure why everyone always says the Reds do not have good pitching. They need someone to fill the closer spot and of course they could use one more top of the rotation starter. But I’d take the reds pitching over MOST of the league. Not many teams can say they had 2 of the top 5 or 6 starting pitchers in the national league.

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  4. A quick look at the numbers for the existing lineup shows the Reds will probably hit about the same number of dingers this year as last. That could improve is Ross, Phillips and Encarnacion have good years. I don’t expect Dunn or Griffey to hit many more than this year. It’s my guess that the offense will be about the same as 2006. So an improved defense should help the situation some. How that translates to more wins is beyond my ken at this point, but I hope for the best.

  5. A quick look at the numbers for the existing lineup shows the Reds will probably hit about the same number of dingers this year as last. That could improve if Ross, Phillips and Encarnacion have good years. I don’t expect Dunn or Griffey to hit many more than last year. It’s my guess that the offense will be about the same as 2006. So an improved defense should help the situation some. How that translates to more wins is beyond my ken at this point, but I hope for the best.

  6. I’d have to vote for out of his mind. Conine? Gonzalez? If they are the answer then I don’t like the questions being asked.

  7. When Krivsky was hired I was pretty happy with the decision, but as time goes on, I feel less and less comfortable with him running my team.

  8. Oh for God’s sake, Krivsky has had one full offseason, one draft and a system barren of major league-ready minor league talent or any discernable parts of value for significant trade (meaning, nobody else wants these parts for what the Reds need in return).

    Fans always wants insta-gratification. That rarely happens in MLB, and it especially doesn’t happen for teams like the Reds, which the new ownership and new GM assumed control at almost rock bottom.

    Relax, and wait it out a while longer. Enjoy the storyline of building the team–the good and the bad.

  9. The signing of Gonzalez seems silly to me. Why pay $2.6 mill. for a player whose production can be equaled or bettered by any number of in house options (Castro, Janish)? I agree we had offense to spare, and our pitching has been significantly improved, but we go into camp every year emphasizing the “little things” – where has that gotten us? If we’re going to insist on a fly-ball pitching staff, we need to improve our defensive outfield, not infield – Freel can’t get to everything.

  10. This time last year til now:
    Starting Pitching – Improved
    Defense – Improved
    Offense – Same
    Minors – Improved

    My argument as far as offense is that Phillips and Gonzalez are better offensively than Womack & Lopez. Ross & Valentin are better than Larue & Valentin. Corners the same. Outfield slightly weaker because of age and loss of Kearns, but putting Freel playing from the outfield helps lessen the effect of Kearns. That Aurilla beats out Conine for bench strength, the rest of the bench is better than last year in my opinion. I weigh it as a push offensively.

    Krivisky has done fine.

  11. I’m still willing to give Krivsky time. I like the stability and the future of the infield a lot except for 1B, and amazingly, we have a top prospect ready to step into that position, Joey Votto (ready for MLB in ’08?).

    With 33% of Krivsky’s inherited payroll tied up in Milton and Dunn, I think a fast u-turn to a great team is not realistic. Milton’s $10 mil check is gone after this year, and if he can dump Dunn before 2008, next winter will be a lot of fun for Reds fans and judging Krivsky will be a lot easier.

    In short, I can see the potential of putting a great team on the field in 2008…which is what I hope Krivsky is trying to do.

  12. I agree with Mr. Redlegs. However, the talent we have in the minors is credited to O’Brien and others, not Krivsky, he drafted Stubbs.

    But, I do agree, we have Arroyo, Phillips, Ross, Bray, and Gonzalez. We are better than last year and that is all that matters.

    Oh, and I wanted to add this, people are saying that we have “an old and worn out bullpen.” There is Stanton, Weathers, and Cormier, and that is it for the oldies. There is Bray, Majewski, and Coffey, with debate for nothing but young guys for the final spot. How is that “old?” We need veteren presence.

    One final comment…I wish people would stop complaining. THIS IS NOT A BAD TEAM. In reality, THE CARDINALS ARE NOT THAT MUCH BETTER.


  13. Not to be picky, and I’m certainly not claiming that I could do a better job, but it was ownership and management who stated they had a “pull out the stops and win now” goal, not the fan blogs. If that is the case, then we should not be even talking about rebuilding a team. Unless we end up with a group like the Marlins lucked into, and they are young, not 40 year olds, then we will not ‘win now’. I can be content to wait and see, if that was the course we were told we were taking; but we were told we could compete for titles right now. I agree that our defense has improved and our starting pitching seems pretty solid. I really like David Ross, but defensively as much as I hate to admit it, LaRue is better. But at this point we need the potential 20-30 HRs that Ross can generate over the added defense. Especially now. And unless someone steps up to fill the offensive output lost by Aurilla last year, we may have some real problems. I cannot see how the offense is considered equal to last year.

  14. I re-read the posts and see that it was offensively, not defensively, that Ross is considered superior. I stand corrected on that point. Sorry. But even with that said, I don’t see how the offense is better with Ross/Valentin/Moeller as compared with Ross/LaRue/Valentin.

  15. Whould you have preferred we signed Marquis, Lilly, or Meche to those contracts they got? We had no chance with Jason Schmidt, we wanted to stay on the west coast.

    We lost any or all trade value with Dunn, for his last years numbers declined. And to boot, he plays left-field like a complete nutjob.

    This is what it comes down to…We need pitching like everyone else. We do not have the revenue like the Chicago teams, and New York teams, because we don’t have our own TV station. But, we still got “some of the pitching we needed.” Our bullpen is better, Lohse is a step-up over last years guy, remember, Dave Williams. Milton, well lets hope he pitches well in that final year of his contract. Arroyo and Harang are solid, may regress, but very solid. And finally we have somewhat proven and legit competition for our 5th spot this year.

    I wish people would stop listening to hacks like Keith Law, and others. They are morons, the same morons that predicted the Reds to be in last place last year and last place this year. The are baised to the New Yorks and Boston teams.

    People draw your own conclussions, and please dont listen to the so called “experts”.

    Oh, remember when Gammons acted like a complete child in 2003 when the Reds had that firesale? What a loser. Oh yeah, that was when we got on of the top pitchers in baseball from Oakland..what was his name…Aaron Harang, of which Gammons has a hard-on for!

  16. Preach is right that the “win now” stuff came from management, not us. I actually agree with Mr. R that this club needs to rebuild, and isn’t near contention this year (slightly twisting his words, I know). I was willing to live with O’Brien’s stated rebuilding mission. It was Krivsky who told us that they were going to win now.

    And there’s no way I can agree with

    To address the main topic, though: I’m always in favor of doing “little things.” Why not try to score more runs, however you can? What I don’t like is when anyone pretends that “small ball” and “doing the little things” is an actual offensive philosophy. Do you know how many “little things” (as defined by Krivsky – taking extra bases and moving runners) it would take to score three runs? About eight. In one inning. Plus at least 4 singles.

    I’m all in favor of better execution on the bases and at the plate. But you can’t ignore actual offensive skill, and just say, “we’ll make it up by doing the little things.” I think the offense is weaker than a year ago, by a good bit. I actually think Krivsky recognizes this, but isn’t sure if he’ll be able to get another bat.

  17. Side Note: Probably not worth an actual post, but Steve Stewart looks to be one of two finalists for the Padres radio opening. It’s almost exactly the role he stepped into with the Reds – third man in a team with a long-time play-by-play man (Ted Leitner) and an local legend with a reduced workload (Jerry Coleman). I’ll be interested in hearing how Steve sounds with a little bit less domineering partner.

  18. Sure, the Reds have had one offseason, and thats not even what I am so worried about. I wouldnt have splurged in free agency this year either. I dont think A Gonz was a bad sign. I just dont buy into the “pitching and defense” crap Krivsky is pitching to me. If he truly were going for pitching and defense, he wouldnt let Griffey start ST in CF, like he has said. CF is probably the most important position on the field that isnt catcher, becuase hits to CF turn into extra base hits. I LOVE Jr, always have and always will. No one will ever compare to him in my mind. But the guy just isnt a CFer anymore. He hasnt been for at least 2 years. If Krivskys plan is pitching and defense, he needs to actually stick with that plan and not just feed it to me while not taking an active approach to his “plan”.

  19. Starting Pitching=yes, improved (not that it would have taken much to improve)
    Defense=yes, improved (once again it didn’t take much to improve)
    Offense=not a chance, this offense is as pedestrian you can get and relying on repeats of last years career years that all crashed at the end of the season, see: Philips, Ross, Hatteburg
    Minors=I don’t see the improved label. If anything the players O’Brien drafted are a year older and moving up a level, all The Kriv has done is shuffle players in and out and made AAA a solid bunch of veterans.

    Age=Without looking up any numbers this team feels old and ancient.

    Want to feel positive about the direction but just too many negatives in my mind.

    One positive the bullpen has to be better as long as their arms stay healthy.

  20. I agree that ‘doing the little things right’ is not a philosophy. If you had Mays, Mantle, Ruth and Aaron in the middle of your lineup wouldn’t you still want to run the bases and turn a double play effectively? You would still need to move runners over, just maybe you might use the sac fly as opposed to the squeeze play; still the same result. When would you not want to throw to the correct cut-off man? Is there ever a good time to be picked off first? Perhaps I’m just a little jaded, but I thought that once you made it to the bigs and ‘earned’ millions a year, you should have knowledge of such things and they should not be a mystery anymore. It still doesn’t change the fact that you need a couple of guys who can hit .300 with good base running skills hitting ahead of a 40 HR guy or two in order to win a significant number of games, regardless of how much of the ‘little things’ you do correctly. You got to get on base before you can steal one.

  21. Wow, this thread got some dander flowing.

    First, I think way too many people took the “win-now” philosophy too literally. For one, and I say this from 30 years’ experience, the only time I recall a new baseball owner coming in and saying “we’re here to build from the ground up,” is when the Lerners took over the Washington franchise last summer.

    Think about it: When did you ever hear a new manager (or, specifically, a new football coach: “We’re here to win the Super Bowl!” Well, of course you are, dummy) come to his meet-and-greet presser and say, “We’ll be playing for three years down the road.”

    Hmmm. I think Bowden tried that trick leading up to the opening of the new stadium, to disastrous results.

    Anyway, I don’t believe ownership or the front office lied about “win-now” because when the team was in the thick of things they went out and got players. Maybe they didn’t get Mantle or Mays, but they kept fishing to find bodies to fill holes. That didn’t happen very often with the previous ownerships. But the Reds spent some cash last summer in taking on all those new contracts. To me, ownership lived up to its promise.

    Secondly, the offense is no where better than last year. But again, I think many fans are taking this “small ball” thing too literally. Having stood right in front of Narron when he’s said this stuff, he’s talking about all the little things that your basic fundamentally sound player–high school, college or pro–should do instinctively that this team has not been doing right for 5-6 years now.

    We’ve all heard Marty bitch about these things; we’ve all seen it with out own eyes; and we all know it has cost the Reds games over the years. The “play the game right” stuff is his insistence that these knuckleheads do the little things they obviously are immuned. If he could field nine Aurilia’s, he would. So would I.

    And to the person who mentioned “making” Griffey move to another positioyour indictment of the front office? Be assured that in for decades now a veteran, franchise player who’s a first-ballot HOFer has earned the right of respect, consideration and some leeway in determining his spot in the order and position on the field.

    In recent memory we’ve seen this afforded Kirby, Gwynn, Ripken, Bonds, Clemens and more.

    These p[layers have earned the right to be handled in a way not afforded the normal player. Nothing good has ever come of strong-arming this type of player without his consent.

    There’s a proper way to handle these things, and when Narron said they would talk with Griffey in Sarasota, that’s following the appropriate measures to kid-gloving your franchise player. If the player reads about it in the papers during the offseason it becomes a pr nightmare not worthy of the ink on newspapers. And for what? To show who’s boss?


  22. “C’mon” always makes me think of Arrested Development.

    I hear what Mr. R. is saying about how “win now” is the standard-fare line from a new owner. But he also points out (correctly) that the Reds were trying to win last year. Again, I think this team should be given some time to rebuild, etc. But I’m just not as eager as some people to excuse a lack of improvement with, “nobody said this would be fixed overnight.” Maybe nobody should have said that, but they did.

  23. Well, Chris, the sidebar to what you’re saying is what I call the Wimpy J. Wellington Syndrome in which people say, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

    A year ago, when Castellini bought the team and made some of the “win now” statements, no one dreamed the salary market would go as far north as it did . . . in great part because no one could have imagined MLB Internet would rake in so much cash.

    So, at the time, it sounded great to say “win now” and “buy this” or “buy that.” But when Tuesday arrived the cost for the (meager) players out there was ridiculous.

    Recently I proclaimed the need for a new pair of sneakers. Off to the mall I went. But when I saw the tag on dem kicks I recoiled. When the Wife (note cap letter) asked about the shoes I said, “Do you have any idea how @#$&! much they cost nowadays?”

    Sometimes you have to back off your boastful yap . . . or realize when “win now” smoke is being blown up the snoots.

    Hearing it is one thing, seeing it another.

  24. in response to Chris’s Steve Stewart Post: Good Riddance. Being an out of state Reds fan I only get to listen to a few radio broadcasts a year. Listening to Stewart put me to sleep every time. He was such a bore. Jeff Brantley will be 10 times better. Not to mention Thom Brenneman, althought I still don’t get that hiring.

  25. Sure talking to Griffey in Sarasota about moving positions is the way it should be handled…. it just should have happened 2 years ago. The other players you mentioned didnt have legs that were literally falling apart on the inside like Griffey does right now. He should not be in center, both for his health, and for the betterment of the defense. Sure Narron shouldnt make that decision in December and tell Griffey through the paper, but you know what, I bet he has enough money to fly down and have a sit down with Griffey. Explain it to him, look, you are one of the best players ever, but we need you healthy and playing in centerfield is not how you can stay healthy.

  26. Lewis (#4), if you think the offense is the same as it was this time last year, I have no idea what you are looking at. I am looking at somewhere from 100-250 fewer runs in 2007.

  27. To address Doug’s and Mr. R’s point about moving guys (#12 & #25) – both Bonds and Gwynn’s legs were (are) completely shot at the end of their careers – worse than Griffey. Of course, there really wasn’t anywhere to move those guys, and both missed enormous time due to their injuries, making their defensive liabilities a fairly moot point. Ripken’s arm was made of saltwater taffy for the last 2-3 years he was playing SS – it took forever to move him to 3b. I have no clue what this means, exactly, as it relates to Griffey. However, in the new Bill James Handbook 2007, there’s a 10-person, “expert” defensive survey, where voters could rank the top 10 defenders at every position. Griffey got zero votes – not one of ten guys even ranked him among the top 10 CFs in baseball.

  28. Chris, I noticed that about Griffey in my BJH 2007 but brushed it off as Griffey having not played enough games or being too injured to be judged on parallel with guys who have played 140 or more games.

    Even though everyone is treating him like an old man in a wheelchair, Griffey, when he’s healthy, is NOT one of the 20 worst center fielders. He may not be in the top 5, but he’s still in the top 10.

    Yet, I agree it’s time for him to make the move–the problem is, that move should be to left. He never had the great, powerful Guillen arm, but he was pinpoint accurate to cutoff and the bases. Now, he can’t hit the mound on the fly from medium center. His arm is where I’ve noticed the most decline.

  29. I personally think Griffey’s range has dropped off more than his arm, but really, it’s like asking whether Rosie O’Donnell looks worse from the front or back.

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