Will Carroll’s recent statements of concern over Homer Bailey stirred quite the discussion on Tuesday. He also stopped by for a bit in the comments.
Will was kind enough to come to the Redleg Nation studios for an interview. After 30 minutes of makeup application, he sat down for some questions…
RN: To give us an idea of where you are coming from when evaluating a young pitcher, what do you base your evaluations on? Mechanics? Performance? Scouting reports? What you’ve personally seen?
WC: All of the above. Most of mine is focused on mechanics due to what I write about. I’m always looking to see how risky a pitcher is and since his HS days, Bailey has been an inconsistent, high effort pitcher. Talented? Absolutely, but risky? Absolutely.
RN: Before the season, where did you rank Homer Bailey among the top minor league prospects who had pitched at AA or higher? Who did you rank above him and why?
WC: I ranked him overall in the top tier, below Hughes, Lincecum, Andrew Miller, Gallardo, and Danks and on the same plane as Hochevar, Buchholz, Hurley and Adam Miller. There are some younger guys like Kershaw and Erbe that I haven’t seen, so I didn’t include them though the reports are very good. Remember that I’m ranking based on risk, not talent. A guy who’s got electric stuff but high injury risk could end up like Felix Hernandez (that’s pretty good) or like Jeff Niemann (not so good).
RN: This is the most excited Reds fans have been about a pitching prospect in over 20 years. Other than the standard concerns with a young pitcher, what more should we be concerned about with Bailey?
WC: It’s his inconsistency. Whether it’s a delivery that never looks the same way twice (just watch his external rotation or his elbow placement compared to the acromial line) or his high effort when he decides to throw the ball by someone — and he can — I worry about how much that takes out of him. The lack of control is going to lead to higher pitch counts and while the organization has certainly watched those counts closely, it’s backed off of pitcher protections since Krivsky came in. All in all, I’d say that Bailey doesn’t seem to have much idea of how to pitch out there and that hasn’t improved during his time in the organization. He’s got great stuff, but there are lots of guys with great stuff out there.
WC: Here’s a question for the Reds — there’s a motion analysis facility there in Cincinnati with some of the best technology in the world. Why hasn’t the team sent Bailey — or ANY of their pitchers – there?
RN: Well, at this point, what can be done? Is it feasible to redo his mechanics at this point? Or should the Reds just get what they can out of him while they can? Or would moving him into the pen lessen the risk a bit?
WC: There’s always small adjustments, but mostly, I’d try to find what position is the closest to hitting the following:
1) feels best
2) gets best results
3) most biomechanically sound.
1 and 2 should be relatively easy to determine and 3 is easy enough, if the Reds are willing to spend a little time and money. (Again, it’s right there in Cincy …)
No way on the last two — the guy is too valuable. Bailey has a chance to be a franchise level pitcher and you don’t get many chances at those. Even if he hits the upside I expect for him (which is lower than almost everyone else, admittedly), he’s a solid 3 that could fit nicely behind Harang. Pen? No, way too valuable.
RN: If Homer Bailey were your pitcher now, not 3 years ago when he was drafted, what would you do?
WC: Find out how biomechanically sound he was and work from there on consistency. From pitch to pitch, not just start to start, Bailey looks like a vastly different pitcher. You don’t have to change anything … actually, he needs to stop changing!
RN: Are there any other Reds minor leaguers you’ve seen that you like or dislike?
WC: Livingston’s useful. I don’t know why Saarloos is at Triple-A. I’ve heard good things on Johnny Cueto but haven’t seen him. Haven’t seen anyone at Dayton. The problem isn’t that they don’t have much top-level pitching, it’s that they don’t even have the five starter/middle relief types.
RN: How do you feel about the organization backing off the pitcher protections since Krivsky came in?
WC: I’m no advocate of pitch counts in professional baseball, but the Reds, like every other team, has no logical development system. How does a pitcher go from one level to the next? What is each pitcher doing to improve? Do they know? Can it be explained or is it baseball’s normal “I know it when I see it” reasoning. I’m singling out the Reds here a bit, but it’s everyone. I know of one organization that has a player program that’s individualized and written out so that there’s no confusion. I don’t have any good reason as to why it’s just one. If the Reds wanted to do one thing that would help more than anything else in winning, that would be it. Have a plan.
RN:To be fair to Krivsky and the Reds, how would you know if there is a program or not? You asked questions above like “How does a pitcher go from one level to the next. What is each pitcher doing to improve? Do they know?” Unless I’m misunderstanding, it sounds like you don’t know. It’s possible the Reds don’t have a plan for the advancement of
pitchers. But it’s also possible they do and keep it to themselves.
WC: As I said, it’s not just them – it’s everyone. Twenty-eight teams don’t have a defined program. The Reds aren’t one of the two teams. Period. And yes, I’ve spoken to enough people in the organization that I can say that with confidence.