2016 Reds

A walk in the park: How the Cubs delivered a massacre and a lesson

Bracket off Saturday and the combined score was 33-1. Leave out one inning and it was 39-7. That’s Ohio State vs. Kent State in college football. Tiger vs. the field at the 1997 Masters. It’s the Allies vs. the Axis in World War II. Thorough, complete devastation.

For Reds fans, watching the Chicago Cubs obliterate the home town team this weekend was painful. It was tempting to look away. That’s an understandable response for fans. But the Reds front office can’t afford to avert its eyes. It has to pay close attention and learn from the experience. Not make excuses. A dead arm doesn’t explain 33-1.

***

Winning baseball involves hitting, pitching, fielding, throwing and running. Within each of these categories are sub-categories. You can add intangibles if you’re inclined to do so. Successful teams are those that accumulate the biggest pile of talents in the right combination.

Over a 162-game major league regular season, increments pay off. The edge in talent, even when tiny at the margin, across that long schedule makes the difference in wins and losses. In time, the connection between capability and winning becomes measurable. The most skilled teams rise to the top in the standings. Few question that those with the best regular season record are deserving.

But all that changes in the post-season. Every year, teams with worse records advance over those that were more accomplished. That’s the crapshoot that is today’s post-season. Eight teams instead of two survive beyond the regular season. They play short series. Anything can happen and often does.

The best a front office can do is put together a baseball team with a skill set that succeeds over the slog of the regular season. That means winning a division championship to avoid the Wild Card play-in game. It means a better winning percentage to get the home field advantage. But after that, you sit back, watch the post-season unfold and hope for the best.

***

In 2008 under manager Lou Pinella, the Cubs won 97 games, the best record that year in the National League. But Pinella’s Cubs were swept in the first round of the post-season by an 84-win Los Angeles Dodgers team.

Just three years later, the 2011 Chicago Cubs finished 71-91, a full twenty-five games out of first place. Ownership decided that change was needed.

On October 21, 2011, the Cubs lured Theo Epstein from the Boston Red Sox to run the baseball side of their organization. The Red Sox had hired Epstein at the age of 28 to be their general manager, the youngest GM in history of MLB. That was 2002. Epstein overhauled the Sox, leading to a World Series championship in 2004, the first in Boston in 86 years. A second followed in 2007. In employing Epstein, the Cubs were looking for a similar rags-to-riches revival.

Fast forward to 2015. The Chicago Cubs again won 97 games. They beat the Pirates in the Wild Card game and the Cardinals 3-1 in the NLDS before losing to the New York Mets in the NLCS.

Epstein’s rebuilding process from 2012-2014 caused plenty of pain. As the Cubs ditched veterans, their record got worse. In 2013, just three years ago, they lost 96 games, finishing 31 games out of first place. That Cubs team lost 14 of 19 games to the Reds. Kris Bryant was still in college. The Baltimore Orioles had sent Jake Arrieta to the minors.

Today, not a single player remains from that 2011 Cubs team. In five seasons, Theo Epstein has turned over the entire 25-man roster. Here is a list of the Cubs starting position players as the 2016 season began. It also indicates when and how each was acquired.

  • Miguel Montero (C) – By trade in 2014
  • Anthony Rizzo (1B) – By trade in 2012
  • Ben Zobrist (2B) – As free agent in 2016
  • Addison Russell (SS) – By trade in 2014
  • Kris Bryant (3B) – Drafted in 2013 (2nd pick)
  • Kyle Schwarber (LF) – Drafted in 2014 (4th pick)
  • Dexter Fowler (CF) – As free agent in 2016
  • Jason Heyward (RF) – As free agent in 2016
  • Jorge Soler (Bench) – International (Cuba) signing in 2012

The average age of the Cubs position players fell from 29.3 in 2011 to 26.9 in 2015.

***

Plate discipline is one of those aforementioned baseball talents. That’s the skill hitters develop that allows them to swing at pitches they can handle and lay off pitches outside the strike zone. We’ve learned that swinging at pitches outside the strike zone leads to lower batting average and reduced power. A close corollary of that talent is the ability to take a walk, a by-product of waiting for a good pitch to hit. For years, major league organizations undervalued plate discipline.

Studies have shown a team’s on-base percentage (OBP), far more than its batting average (AVG), to be highly correlated with scoring runs. The difference between AVG and OBP is the base on balls. The ability to walk, like the ability to hit for average and to hit with power, helps a team score runs. Over the past decade, most baseball organizations have absorbed that lesson and have started to place greater value on acquiring hitters with higher walk-rates. Some even try to teach mental discipline at the minor league level.

No front office has walked that walk, so to speak, more than Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs. He has transformed one of the worst offenses in terms of taking walks into the best.

Cubs Walks

Every one of the Cubs 2016 starters had an above average (7.7%) walk-rate in 2015. It’s clear that a central part of the Cubs plan is finding players who not only can hit well, but also ones who have plate discipline. The difference between the 2011 and 2016 Cubs is stunning.

In 2016, the Cubs lead MLB by far in team walk-rate at 12.6%. The second-place team walk-rate is 11.2%. The Reds are 25th out of 30 teams with a 7.1% rate. Partly as a result of all those walks, the Cubs have scored the most runs and appear poised to … walk away with the NL Central title.

***

The Cubs revival isn’t just about plate discipline. Their lineup also hits with above average power. They took 23 walks in last weekend’s series, compared to 11 by the Reds. But they also out-homered the Reds 11-5. The Cubs can walk and hit long balls at the same time.

But comparing the two clubs is unfair because the teams are in vastly different phases of their competitiveness cycle. The season series isn’t a fair fight any more than it was from 2012-2013 when the Reds record was 26-9 against the rebuilding Cubbies.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t important lessons to draw from what Theo Epstein has done. The Cubs experience demonstrates how much a specific plan by a front office can impact the kind of team they put on the field if they stick with it.

Of course, every team says they have a plan. But when following their stated path becomes tough, they don’t always follow through. Even if clubs do hold firm, their ideas aren’t always smart or unique.

That’s not the case with the Chicago Cubs. While the rest of the league continued stockpiling pitching as though 40-home run hitters just fell off training tables, Theo Epstein recognized in the post-PED era that young, impact position players were becoming scarce. And boy, did he act on that plan.

Beginning in 2012, the Cubs started to collect key hitters. Note how these names match up to their current lineup. Start with trades. Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Miguel Montero were acquired in exchange for pitching. Same the with amateur draft. Instead of using the “best available talent” theory, the Cubs went after hitters with their top pick. That strategy has produced Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. They followed that strategy in their international signings where their most expensive was a hitter, Jorge Soler. Last season, their first round pick in the amateur draft was Ian Happ, an outfielder from the University of Cincinnati and all six of their international free agents with bonuses in excess of $1 million were position players.

Not just any hitters. Ones that exhibit the skill of plate discipline.

Ian Happ’s walk-rate in the minors? 13.9%

***

Over the past decade, the Reds have remained indifferent (at best) to the skill of plate discipline. Dusty Baker, who managed the Reds for six seasons, disparaged patience at the plate. Walt Jocketty acquired players, including leadoff hitters, without regard for their walk-rate. He also questioned Joey Votto’s approach at the plate. They have filled the role of leadoff hitter as though on-base percentage was an afterthought. Last season, the Reds rewarded two players with Opening Day bench spots who had three walks in 124 spring training plate appearances. Even when the Reds front office has told the team’s fans they would look for hitters who got on base more, they ended up doing the opposite.

Old habits – a disinterest in paying a premium for the skill of plate discipline – die hard.

Years of neglecting this talent have produced a lineup that walks a lot like the 2011 Cubs:

Reds Walks

* 2014; ** Career

Joey Votto is a superstar when it comes to plate discipline. He’s the best in baseball measured by swinging at the fewest pitches outside the strike zone and taking walks. Beside Votto, the Reds lineup is mostly swing-and-miss when it comes to being selective at the plate. Taking account of hitters and pitchers, the Cubs and Reds are at opposite ends of the net walks spectrum.

On the one hand, the Reds have a solid record with recent top draft picks. Jesse Winker has an outstanding career minor league walk-rate of 14.1%. Phil Ervin (10.4%), Alex Blandino (10.0%) and Tyler Stephenson (10.2%) also have good numbers. The question is whether they can sustain those minor league rates as they move into tougher competition.

But the Reds front office has had a dismal performance when it comes to trades and free agent acquisitions. Willie Taveras, Orlando Cabrera and Marlon Byrd are among the litany of players acquired with poor plate discipline. Shin-Soo Choo is a notable exception. But recall that Choo would never have become a Red if the Minnesota Twins hadn’t backed out of a trade sending Ben Revere to Cincinnati. The Reds front office had targeted Revere, who has one of the worst walk-rates in baseball.

The low point came this off-season, with the Reds in full rebuilding mode and Todd Frazier their best remaining trade chip. The organization became fixated on acquiring Jose Peraza for his speed and batting average. But Peraza has a way below-average walk-rate in the minor leagues (4.8%). An organization aspiring to improve its plate discipline and on-base percentage can’t miss like that when they have the opportunity to trade a player like Todd Frazier.

***

Reds fans hope when the guard changes for good on Joe Nuxhall Way that this will get better. Yet, the alternate vision the new younger voices have presented so far is not reassuring. They believe speed and defense are the talents that bring success in major league baseball. So they plan on acquiring those skills. Not power. Not plate discipline.

Do speed and defense help against the Chicago Cubs home runs and walks?

But that’s why this Reds front office valued Jose Peraza so highly. Maybe they’re right to do so. But if that’s the strategy in the Rebuild Binder, we can expect to see the club continue to fall short when it comes to plate discipline. Other front offices are in relentless pursuit of that quality, so it’s expensive in the free agent and trade markets. If an organization doesn’t see plate discipline as a high priority, they won’t be willing to pay enough for it, in cash or trade. The Reds look for on-base percentage and end up with Brennan Boesch.

Theo Epstein would be the first to say there’s no one right way to build a winning baseball team. Talent can be assembled to great effect in different ways. The Baker/Jocketty Reds won two NL Central championships over 162-game regular seasons.

We’ll know soon whether Epstein’s Cubs have invested in a successful strategy. 97 wins last year is a darn good early return. If they win a few division titles and more, it might be time to consider worshiping the ground they … walk on.

95 thoughts on “A walk in the park: How the Cubs delivered a massacre and a lesson

  1. I totally agree with the thrust of the article, but I would point out the Cubs 2016 walk rate has been bolstered by playing 1/3 of their season so far vs. the team that leads the majors in walks issued—the Reds. Second, the Cubs also strike out a lot, and their propensity to strike out is what killed them in the playoffs vs. a team predicated on pitching, the Mets. Until the Cubs actually win something or come really close to it, they’re just another team to me. It may not be as sexy or dramatic, but I’d take the Cardinals model any day of the week. You never see them take years to rebuild like the Cubs did. Given how much revenue the Cubs generate, it was pretty ridiculous they took so long.

    • I agree that the 2016 walk rates are unreliable because it’s so early in the year. That’s why I used 2015 walk rates in the main chart.

      The Cubs did win 97 games last year, which is something. They’ve already bested the Reds 2010-2013 window in post-season wins. But I agree, as I say in the post, we’ll have to see over the next couple years how it plays out.

      The Cubs rebuilding process was pretty fast – 96 losses in 2013 to 97 wins in 2015? You’re right that the Cardinals don’t seem to rebuild. That the Cubs had to go through it speaks to their previous front office group, not the current one. Something tells me that as long as Epstein et. al. are in charge, we won’t be seeing the Cubs go through the rebuild cycle.

    • I’ve lived in Chicago for most of the past 15 years and have followed the Cubs closely. In 2012, they recognized that they had a bad farm system, a bad team and no plan. They invested millions into player development and they have built a version of the Cardinals model….but with much greater resources. They had the courage to do it right.

      The Cardinals changed their approach while they were still good in 2007. They let the MLB club continue as is and rebuilt the farm system. Eventually, the MLB club became a reflection of what they did with the farm system.

      You’re comparing apples to oranges.

  2. The legacy of Walt Jocketty, OBP with a red circle and line drawn through it, half-way All-in, Chapman usage, and ludicrus free agent signings.
    If only. What could have the Reds been if only Jocketty had built a good OBP offense around one Joey Votto?
    Jocketty has made a few good trades, but his mismanagement of a 25-man roster has been a disaster. Good riddance after this season. He should have never been retained after the debacle in Pittsburgh to finish off the 2013 season. It has been downhill on a greased rail ever since.

    • I agree with you to a degree. The Reds made some good personnel decisions and some bad ones. However, their fatal flaw was organizational structure and resource allocation.

      The Cardinals found the right balance between spending what you need to spend to be good…while keeping enough in reserve to continue to invest huge sums in development. The Reds allowed the MLB payroll to rise to the point where there wasn’t any money left….for anything.

      If you’re not allocating resources to develop OBP, then you certainly can’t afford to go out and buy OBP. The Reds need to find that same balance. The Cubs can spend 200 million on payroll AND invest millions in development. The Cardinals can spend 150 on payroll AND invest millions in development. The Reds have a lower number…it is what it is.

      Both the Cards and Cubs show the importance of extreme profitability and being able to reinvest in the future.

  3. To me, it’s even less about immediate results than it is the process. Plate discipline never really slumps, which makes the Cubs offense an almost-inevitable meat grinder.

    I went to Saturday’s game, and while the Reds got fortunate with the home run ball, the pitch counts early in that game were incredibly dramatic. I checked the pitch counts midway through the 4th, and IIRC, John Lackey had thrown something like 43 pitches through 3 innings, while the Cubs had bled poor Dan Straily to the point of 79 through his first four.

    Over the long haul (and even over the medium haul) that type of pressure is simply impossible to resist. Unless you have a staff that (1) throws strikes AND (2) misses bats, they’re going to beat you, eventually.

    Thankfully (in this case) this type of first-hand (but small sample) experience can really make an impression on a front office. Hopefully, Dick Williams was watching closely.

    • Good observation and analogy there. The ‘meat grinder’ is exactly what this offense resembles.

  4. Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips have had 100 or more RBIs exactly once in their career. Both in 2013, the year they had Choo and Votto hitting in front of them with an OBP of 400+. What a coincidence.

    • KMartin…that’s huge.

      In 2013, Bruce had 697 plate appearances. During his at bats, there were 500 runners on base….so he had .72 runners to drive in per plate appearance. 80 of those runners scored, so he had a 16% conversion rate.

      Conversely, in 1975, Tony Perez had .85 runners per plate appearance….which is the highest I found for any player in any season. Perez successfully drove in 19% of those runners. In a nutshell, Perez was marginally better at driving in runners….he also had much more opportunity. I’m not smart enough to quantify the affect that having Bench and Foster batting behind Perez had vs having Todd Frazier.

      • Chuck — interesting comparison between Perez and Bruce. I think Tony Perez is one of the most revered clutch hitters in Reds’ history yet Jay Bruce is often vilified for his lack of hitting with runners in scoring position.

        • Perez also played on a very successful team (part of your point, I believe). It’s easy to view fondly players from the BRM.

    • The sad thing is that many people in the FO (and many fans) don’t understand that correlation. They also don’t like the statement “Joey Votto would have 100 RBI every year if he batted behind Joey Votto.”

  5. The Cubs only got two of their starters through the draft, and one as an International signing. Three came from trades – Rizzo, Montero and Russell. Looking at the Cubs 2011 line-up, I would say the Reds had more trade value in their line-up going back to last season. The FO is already in a hole as far as receiving good hitting prospects in return for the trades they made vs. the Cub model. Sure hope they can make up for missed opportunity.

  6. Enjoyed the article. One quip: They dont value power? Schebler, Duvall, Jageilo….. all acquired within the last year. Looks like an emphasis on power to me, maybe even more-so than speed. Also Peraza has low walk rate but also really low strikeout rate. Hopefully they can flip some of this pitching for hitters but i have a hard time believing they would be getting max value that route..

    • Schebler, Duvall and Jageilo were all second pieces in trades that featured pitchers or Peraza first. Agree if any of them become successful major league starters that’s a plus. I’m a little hopeful for Duvall, but he is 27. The pool of outfielders is so weak our bar has gotten really low.

      • Great analysis, Steve, but one quibble: With the exception (maybe) of Perraza, the Reds do not appear to have been acquiring strong defenders lately. They may have said that it’s a focus, but they said that about OBP, too.

  7. We can’t expect to have a cubs like rebuild- not going to happen. But rotation could be dynamite here- mets proved last year you can get to series that way. And young. They have a ton riding on Winker. If he is good, they can afford to hit on a few and miss on a few hitters and still have a formidable lineup from 2017-2020.

    • You are correct, a ton rides on Winker. Early returns in AAA seem promising. He’s swinging the bat well and still walking a good deal. I feel a lot of folks might have seen him struggle in AA for the first time and would expect he’d struggle in AAA. Not the case so far. The power will come, too.

      • Not to mention how Winker finished in AA, putting up a .357/.471/.591 in his last 140 PA in AA. That’s a .234 ISO & 16.5% BB% in those 140 PA. I think Winker learned from his early struggles in AA in 2014 and is taking things slow and steady as he adapts to AAA. His .302/.387/.321 slash through his initial 62 PA in AAA shows the Old Cossack that he is less about the hype and more about learning and making the necessary adjustments before he starts turning his impressive plate skills loose.

        Hmmmm…remember all those stolen bases by Hamilton while he was playing in the minor leagues? Lots of hype, but how much did he actually learn to prepare himself to play at the major league level?

  8. The Mets rebuilt with staggeringly good young starting pitching, and acquired hitting such as Cespedes. There is definitely more than one way to do it, as you note.

    Peraza is still only 21 and has a higher walk rate so far this year (only 62ABs), and I think it is way too early to conclude that he can’t develop plate discipline.

    I remember thinking that Billy Beane was an idiot for trading Addison Russell for Jeff Smardzdijaxyz. Still think he was an idiot. Theo lucked out on that trade. One of Theo’s best moves was an apparent scouting move–understanding Arrieta’s potential after initial control problems in Baltimore.

    The huge advantage that the Cubs had in rebuilding was unlimited resources. Let’s face it–the Cubs had god-awful ownership for decades. The Ricketts family understands business, and they’ve poured money in all aspects of this business, including scouting, analytics, management and ballpark updates, because they knew that they were sitting on an untapped gold mine. The Cubs ought to be one of the top 3-4 franchises in baseball, and now they are and probably will be as long as the Ricketts family owns them. (Basketball is a different model, but whenever the Knicks get good ownership, they will be dominant.)

    The Reds, by contrast, just simply do not have the business/revenue potential that the Cubs have, and it is a more difficult rebuilding job. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t develop plate discipline, but it does mean that they can’t buy free agents like Jon Lester, Jason Heyward and John Lackey to complete the roster.

    • Beane took a lot of heat for the Samardzija trade, but I think it was ultimately OK. The A’s were in a position to make a run at the WS that year, and Beane went out and got a top-of-the-order kind of guy to help the stretch run. It didn’t work, but that’s hindsight.

      Even Beane said he felt the pressure to win. Simply having winning records and making the playoffs with a small payroll wasn’t enough anymore. He (and the ownership) needed a big win. They tried and failed.

    • “The Reds, by contrast, just simply do not have the business/revenue potential that the Cubs have, and it is a more difficult rebuilding job.”

      Nor do the Royals, but they are finding a way.

      • The Royals have vastly outperformed their BaseRuns estimates 3 years in a row. One of two things is true…either they are historically lucky (possible) or they have figured out something else that no other team in history has figured out (also possible I guess).

        Also, there’s no reason to have expected bad pitchers like Edinson Volquez to suddenly turn good in the post-season and gain 3 MPH of velocity. Sometimes you are right-place-right-time. Doesn’t mean the Royals are super smart or anything.

  9. To consistently draw walks a batter has to be able to do damage if he puts the ball in play; otherwise competent pitchers will just throw easy strikes and let the chips fall where they do. That’s the important flip side of the skills the Cubs displayed this weekend.

    • Agreed. Of the top 25 hitters by walk rate last year do you know how many of them has an isolated power below league average (0.150)? Zip, zero, nada. Not a single one. 11 of the top 15 had ISO’s above 0.200.

      This is why I never trust prospects whose minor league offensive value is dependant on walks with no power like Tyler Holt or Steve Selsky. Those guys usually just don’t keep drawing walks at the major league level. Every now and then you will get a Brett Gardner or Nick Markakis who can put up double digit walk rates without great power. But those guys are rare and they usually have the ability to barrell the ball consistently and spray line drives all over the field to keep pitchers honest. (Think Wade Boggs.)

  10. I agree with everything you said about the Cubs. They are controlling the strike zone on birth sides of the ball. You didn’t mention this but their pitching staff has one of the lowest walk rates in baseball.

    What I disagree with is the implications that the Reds have never valued OBP and that having a lineup that walks a ton is the only way to win. The Reds were 2nd in the NL in OBP in 2010 and 2013 and 3rd in the NL in 2011. Interestingly, the best Reds team since at least 1990, the 2012 team, was 12th in the NL in OBP.

    Also, there is more to OBP, and offense in general, than just walking. The Royals had the lowest walk rate in baseball last year and won the world series. The Reds were 9th out of all 30 teams in walk rate and were the 2nd worst team in the league.

    Also you suggest that the Cubs eschewed the best player available strategy in the draft and intentionally targeted hitters. Do you have any evidence that the Cubs thought there was a pitcher on the board better than Bryant or Schwarber but didn’t take him because he was a pitcher? If not, this claim is a little silly.

    • I said several times that walking a lot isn’t the only way to win. Several times. I said several times that walking isn’t the only way to win. Several times. I said several times that walking isn’t the only way to win. Several times.

      Winning the World Series (Royals) isn’t about the most talented team. Said that in the post. Post-season a crap shoot.

      The Reds always have higher OBP when Joey Votto plays the entire year. Lower in 2012 because he played half a year. Reds won that year because of pitching. Joey Votto’s existence on the roster isn’t proof that the Reds value OBP. Their many other statements and actions, which I enumerated in the post, point out they haven’t.

      Not really sure what your point is. Do you disagree with this: Other things equal, plate discipline is a good skill for a team to possess?

      • Of course plate discipline is important. But for all the talk about analytics on this site, and I love this site or I wouldn’t bother criticizing, it seems like you guys are stuck in the money ball era. OBP, OBP, walks, OBP. There is more to it than that.

        You spend the whole article talking about the Cubs offense. But you fail to mention that last year the Cubs offense was below average by wRC. Their defense, according to fangraphs, was the 2nd best in the game and their pitching was the very best by FIP WAR.

        The Cubs offense is looking like a juggernaut so far this year. But last year the Cubs won with pitching and defense. And you ignore that. This year the Cubs may dominate in all 3 facets.

        • The post was about the Cubs offense in 2016, not 2015. Starlin Castro got nearly 600 PA last year at wRC+ of 80, for example. I doubt the Cubs offense will grade out below average this year. Plate discipline means more power and higher batting average, not just more walks. Said that in the post.

          The Cubs have made specific choices with their club – acquiring hitting over pitching and acquiring hitters with plate discipline. The post was about those decisions and their possible upsides.

        • I feel like you want this site to be FanGraphs with full-time, paid writers.

          Also, how many folks would read a 10,000 word post that covered every single facet of the Cubs offense across multiple years?

          I can’t speak for Steve, but I purposefully try to cut down on the content to keep the article readable and to try and keep it from ambling around too much. Sometimes that means leaving stuff out. Perhaps to write about at a later time, perhaps to discuss in the comments like this.

        • Patrick: I don’t want, or expect, this site to be fangraphs. Most of those guys are paid, full time writers. You guys volunteer your time and have actual jobs.

          What I do expect is that if you write an article that makes a point using data, that you be prepared to defend your conclusions. I’m not making personal attacks. I’m not insulting your mother. I’m challenging some assumptions Steve made that I believe are faulty. If you can’t take healthy, constructive criticism or debate then you probably shouldn’t be writing on the internet. This is not personal. Love the site. Love your and Steve’s writing and I especially love Wesley’s humor. Yet you act like you feel personally insulted. I hate that you are taking it that way, but I don’t feel like I should apologize for constructive criticism. You are being way too sensitive.

        • Steve: Again I’m challenging this assumption: ” The Cubs made specific choices with their club…..acquiring hitting over pitching.” The Cubs had the best pitching staff in baseball last year by FIP WAR!! Their offense was 20th in wRC. What are you basing this on? You could say that the Cubs have a knack for finding undervalued pitchers, like Arietta and Hammell. But they also gave big money to Lester and some decent money to Lackey. How can you say that a team with one of the best pitching staffs in baseball is essentially ignoring pitching in favor of hitting?

          Also, you never responded to the question about the Cubs forgoing best player available and taking a hitter at all costs in the first round. Is there anything to back that up?

    • I would be interested in looking at the rest of the Cubs drafts in those years, to see if they really did emphasize bringing in more hitters than pitchers, rather than just assuming they did because they drafted two hitters in the top 5 of the first round.

      • For what it is worth, the Cubs drafts since 2012, the first 3 rounds:
        2012: (round/overall #)
        1/#6-Albert Almora OF
        1s/#43-Pierce Johnson RHP
        1s/#56-Paul Blackburn RHP
        2/#67-Duane Underwood RHP
        3/#101-Ryan McNeil RHP

        Reds: Travieso, Winker, Gelawich, Rahier.

        2013:
        1/#2-Kris Bryant 3B
        2/#41-Rob Zastrynzny LHP
        3/#75-Jacob Hannemann CF
        3/#91-Jacob May CF

        Reds: Ervin, Lorenzen, K. Franklin, Armstrong.

        2014:
        1/#4-Kyle Schwarber C/OF
        2/#45-Jake Stinnett RHP
        3/#78-Mark Zagunis C

        Reds: Howard, Blandino, Sparks, Strahan.

        2015:
        1/#9-Ian Happ OF
        2/#47-Donnie Dewees OF
        3/#82-Bryan Hudson LHP

        Reds: T. Stephenson, Santillan, Rainey, Trahan.

  11. This falls under rebuilding so I will put it here. There are interesting tweets being put up by Jon Heyman (@jonheyman) regarding Todd Frazier and his departure from Cincy. If Heyman has it right, Frazier and his reps were pulling out all the stops to get a long term deal done with the Reds but the Reds were “intent” on rebuild instead.

    • I haven’t seen those tweets yet, but will look for them. One of Frazier’s relatives said at the Home Run Derby that Frazier was “going to bankrupt” the Reds in asking for an extension. Take that for what it’s worth considering the source. But it doesn’t surprise me that Frazier wanted to get a long term deal. And I’m glad the Reds said no. I was against a long-term deal with him because of his age. He’ll be 32 at the start of his next contract. I wouldn’t want the Reds to pay him $20 million/year through his age 37 season. I bet that’s the kind of deal he gets unless he takes a dive the next two seasons. So if that’s what the Reds meant by rebuild instead, I’m all for that. Thanks for the heads up on the tweets.

    • Just read it. No way Frazier’s terms were $100 million for 7 years. For one thing, Seager’s deal covered three arbitration seasons. Frazier’s deal would have covered two. That’s $15 million difference right there. Plus, no way Frazier agrees to out years valued at 2WAR. Seager’s deal was for age 27-33. Frazier’s deal would have been age 32-38. Another big difference.

      Looks like Heyman is getting a bunch of info from Dusty Baker. Payback for all the career promotion Heyman has done for Baker over the years and continues to do today.

      • I agree the Reds needed to move on at the sort of prices you think were likely.

        The sub ~$15M AAV also struck me as skunky. It would be artificially low on the front end or unbelievably flat across the entire term.

        If you didn’t see Heyman followed the Frazier tweets with one expressing surprise that the DBacks and Leake did not get a deal done. So, yeah, sounds like he has been talking Reds history with someone.

      • The biggest problem the Reds are having with the rebuild is they started 1-2 years too late. They were done after 2013. They should have moved players that winter. It would have been painful and 2nd guessed by thousands but the talent they would have received in return for their trades would have been far superior to what they received last summer and this winter. The Reds were in the wild card in 2013 and it is hard to throw in the towel coming off a 90 win season. The Reds collapsed in 2014 and 2015. They held on through the July 2015 All-Star game hoping for fan enthusiasm that was a given no matter what their record would have been. One other issue is the farm system had nothing going into the 2014 season. It is hard to rebuild with no available young talent to begin with. Over the long run the Reds will have trouble keeping up with big money teams like the Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, Nats, etc. I hope they become smart like the Cards but since there is only one team like the Cards it shows being like them is far from an easy thing to do. They need to strike gold in the next couple of drafts and hope a few of their young pitchers turn out to be better than good.

  12. It’s still shocking to me that any club doesn’t get the power of plate discipline by now. As Steve said, plate discipline improves your batting average and power, because swinging at strikes is better than swinging at balls. Walks are an excellent bonus. Who are these crusty old “baseball men” that are arguing for swinging at balls?

    The thing that I don’t understand, and it’s been talked about here before, is this idea that the Reds should be focusing on getting hitters instead of pitchers, because steroids are gone now or whatever.

    First, there is no evidence that teams built around hitting do better than teams built around pitching. Second, it’s just weird to talk about not needing pitchers while watching what may be the worst Reds pitching staff in 15 years. If pitching is so abundant, why do our stink?

    Focusing on players with good plate discipline seems like common sense that the Reds missed out on. The idea that hitters are intrinsically more valuable than pitchers in today’s game still doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

    • Why do the Reds pitchers currently stink…..
      Because Bailey, Lamb, Desclafani, and Lorenzen are on the DL. Stephenson is being held back for contractual reasons. Reed and Garret and are not really be pushed forward for contractual reasons.

      • I never asked why the Reds pitchers stink, I said it’s weird to say that the Reds shouldn’t focus on getting good pitchers when their pitching stinks.

        But in response to your comment, baseball teams usually have 12 pitchers these days, and it would be good to have 10 that were good, but I’d say 8 is the minimum for a team with any hope of competing.

        League average xFIP (which is my preferred quick-look pitching stat) is 3.99 right now, and the Reds have one pitcher below that in Iglesias. Bailey should definitely make that 2, although he’s coming back from serious surgery. Desclafani has a career 3.94 xFIP, but sure, let’s call him three.

        I’m not willing to say that Lorenzen and Lamb will be above average major league pitchers yet. Lamb had a 3.73 xFIP last year, but it was 49 innings, and he’s had serious issues in the past. Lorenzen was way worse than average last year, but I think he’s better suited for the bullpen, so maybe he can be better than that this year.

        So after everyone comes back from injury, and assuming they all perform well and no one else gets injured, the Reds have 3 above average pitchers, 2 maybes, and 3 good looking prospects. In what universe is that enough pitching to win a division, wild card spot, or even 82 games?

        The Cubs on the other hand have had 13 pitchers throw for them this year, and only 3 of them have been below average in xFIP, and those three have only pitched 13 innings. That means 92 percent of their total innings have been thrown by better than average pitchers. It doesn’t seem like they have ignored acquiring good pitching in the way that this article implies.

        • Yes, their pitching is pretty darned good. Curious to see what will happen in those 2 months where the Reds don’t play the Cubs though. Will Reds’ pitchers walk fewer? Will Cubs pitchers walk more? Will Cubs batters walk less? Will Reds batters walk more???

    • It doesn’t pass that test with me, either, Jeremy. If your pitching is bad, the other team’s hitters, logically, will likely hit well against you. You need both. You need everything, in some measure, for long-term success.

    • I’d agree that pitching is equally important and am not sure there’s an abundance of it in relation to hitting either. There seem to be more, better young pitchers than promising young hitters but a lot of that pitching is getting injured too. If I’m building a team, I want hitters that know the zone and I want pitchers that throw strikes. I want both.

  13. The Cubs are doing the same thing the Yankees and Red Sox have done for years. They are making the starters throw strikes. The more pitches the starter throws per inning gets that starter out of the game early and then they can beat up on teams bullpens. Yankees and Red Sox don’t care to much about walking. They cared about getting the pitcher to throw them 5 or 6 pitches per batter. By the 5th inning that starter is in the 80s or 90 pitches. Living in NY I have watched this for years and laughed at how nobody else seemed to pick up on this and model their team ,after this approach. Well Theo has taken it to Chicago and it works wonders.Do you ever notice why Yankee and Red Sox games last forever? Pitch counts. I always laugh when people say Votto needs to swing more. No Votto needs better teammates who know the strike zone.

    • +1

      Straily wasn’t pitching that bad the other night but Mesoraco couldn’t hang on to a 3rd strike in the 1st inning and they ran his pitch count up even higher because of it. You compare that approach to Duvall yesterday being over eager with 2 guys on and going down 0-2 to Hammel (and eventually K’ng) on 2 breaking balls that were atleast a foot outside.

      • I would have been happy if Meso would have just blocked the ball and tossed to first for the out. That was a really tough to see that scored as a wild pitch charged to Straily. And what we never know is how the pitchers modify their efforts if it gets planted in their minds that those kind of pitches are not going to at least be blocked.

        • Meso has been horrible defensively? I know its early but I’m worried about his career? Its not that early for him…he’ll be 28 soon if I’m not mistaken?

  14. I would gladly take the Cubs over the Cardinals. The only organization lower than the Cards to me is the NE Patriots….who just edge out Isis in my list of fav organizations.

  15. Great article Steve! Hopefully the Reds can learn from what the Cubs have done. It’s amazing the entire Cubs starting lineup was acquired since 2013. Insane.

  16. I was wondering why Bruce wasn’t in the lineup tonight. He started his maternity leave today and Layne Somsen called up to reinforce the bullpen. Lets see what Somsen has over the next few days.

    • This could have been the OF to start the season that is playing tonight, if the Reds had traded Bruce in spring training. Glad that fell apart.
      Schebler LF, BHam CF, Duvall RF.

  17. We as fans just have to take the lumps this year. We all understand the long-term implications of holding prospects back a bit to protect service time issues.

    The side effect of that is you have to field a 25 man roster. If you know these are short term guys, why staff it with expensive veterans. You have to make due with cheap ones and fringe prospects.

    When you do that, you basically get a result that looks like this weekend. A four-A team playing a team that will contend not only for the division, but probably the best record in baseball.

    So wringing our hands and comparing the reds roster to the cubs is an exersise in futility.

  18. Then there is the KC approach…..go ahead and wear Volquez out because they’ve got 6 better pitchers behind him. They also don’t walk that much but of course they make contact and they play in a huge pitchers park and play amazing defense. The Cubs model is def where the Reds should be headed! I think some of the guys are getting there. Suarez is willing to take some pitches and they’ll start nibbling when you’re on pace to hit 30+ HRs!!

  19. I didn’t see any mention by anyone of Madden, the best manager of the 21st Century. His hard-nosed, intelligent and dedicated approach to the game has meant so much to the Cub success.

    • Steve did a couple of articles last season on streaming games. FSO and the Reds better not get themselves left behind.

    • The timing for the Reds is terrible as many of those 2012 era deals have been disasters for the RSN’s involved.

      They have zero leverage as they don’t have a NBA-NHL team to partner with on a new network. FSO is the only game in town.

      The Cardinals received 1 billion for 15 years. They had leverage ( higher ratings, better demographics and they could theoretically partner with the Blues) and received equity and a signing bonus. St. Louis has 800k more people within 30 miles of the stadium than Cincinnati….Cincinnati has a bigger market if you count Dayton…but, that is somewhat complicated.

      My guess is the Reds get 750-800 million over 15 years with no equity. That’s almost double what they’ve been getting, but they’ll still be 12-18 million per year behind the Cardinals. When you factor in the 1 million plus in extra attendance the Cards have…along with owning their stadium, garages and entertainment area, the Reds start off each year about 40 million behind in revenue.

      • The Reds will get near the Cardinal deal maybe even better for reasons only understood by the media. Unfortunately It will not nearly be enough to compete with the top 15 markets which will have much more money.from the media and in ticket revenue. It is the fatal structural flaw in baseball.

    • MLB seems ahead of the game with mlb.tv app including presenting its own ads during commercial breaks this season. Wish they would divorce themselves from RSNs and transition to full control of their broadcast via streaming with no blackouts. Or possibly each team becomes fully responsible for its streaming feed. Streaming certainly presents an opportunity to market to a younger generation of fans. FSOs availability (or subscription by customer) seemed hit or miss, but its been several years since I lived in Cincy.

      • Your thoughts are good….the issue is that a RSN gets monthly subscriber fees from everyone who has cable in their viewing area….not just those who watch the games. That is huge money and the revenue that streaming produces is a fraction of that.

  20. Figured 2000 words would do it today.

    Cubs prioritize hitting over pitching with trades and drafts. Elaborate examples.

    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/chicago-cubs-rebuilding-theo-epstein-javier-baez-kris-bryant-jake-arrieta/

    I’m not saying pitching isn’t important. Not saying pitching isn’t important. Not saying pitching isn’t important. But it’s easier to acquire quality pitching now than it is quality hitting. Remember Walt Jocketty saying they tried to get hitting with the Cueto trade but none of the teams were offering any?

    Epstein: “Anybody who follows the team knows that. We’ve been open and transparent about it, that we’re really building a foundation of young position players and that we’re going to trust ourselves to add pitching along the way and build really effective pitching staffs each year and over time add impact pitching.”

    Or this

    “Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer rebuilt the Cubs by stockpiling minor-league hitting talent and importing cheap pitchers. The idea was that baseball had flipped and good pitchers could be found almost anywhere, but good hitters were rare.”

    Bernie Miklaz (St. Louis):

    “We’re not saying pitching isn’t important,” Epstein told the NY Times. “Pitching is hugely important. But given the batter-pitcher dynamic now, it’s easier to develop pitching, easier to find pitching. Pitchers have naturally more confidence because the rules are tilted in their favor right now, and it takes special bats to be able to perform at truly elite levels. So we went for certainty, and we went for scarcity.”

    Seriously, that took me five minutes on Google.

    • Do you really think it’s your reader’s responsibility to google your claims to see if you’re right? If it only took you five minutes to find, seems like you could have included some of it in the article, because those quotes make it much more clear that the Cubs were doing what you said they were doing than your original post did.

      • Seriously? The original post was 2000 words long. I didn’t find that description of Epstein’s strategy all that controversial. I considered it pretty common knowledge. Which it proved to be. I thought it was like a factual claim. Like what a player’s BB% was. As a rule, I don’t link (footnote) those.

        You know, I do expect people who are going to challenge basic factual claims – basically saying the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about – to be a little bit informed and not just show up asserting and questioning from willful ignorance.

        • From Cubs writer Bruce Levine in April, 2014:

          “The Cubs have been consistent picking the best player left on their board. Last year they had pitcher Mark Appel as their first to choose on the board before Bryant. When Houston took Appel, the Cubs stayed true to the board by taking Bryant.”

          “We are just going to take the best player,” Epstein said. “There is tremendous pitching depth in this class, but it is more depth than elite. But we should come out with a pretty good player we hope.”

        • MLB.com June 7, 2015.

          “The Cubs have talked about a need to get more pitching, but the trend has been to stock up in later rounds. Since Epstein joined the team, they’ve picked a position player in the first round each of the last three years. If you look at the next 33 players taken in the first 12 rounds over three years, 28 have been pitchers.
          The goal, McLeod said, is to take the best player available with each pick, and if they feel it’s a hitter at No. 9, they’ll choose that hitter. They can load up on pitchers later.
          “That has been the plan to bring in as much [pitching] as we can,” McLeod said. “We’ll line our board up that way. We’ll always have an eye on getting stuff guys and guys we feel can be impact pitchers in the organization.”

          Direct contradiction from Theo and others that the Cubs eschew the best player available. It seems to me that what the Cubs are really talking about is risk instead of value. It’s not that hitters are more valuable. It’s that first round hitters are often less risky. That’s different from what you are implying.

        • One more and I will quit. Promise.

          From Levine again . June 8, 2015.

          “The Cubs have been transparent about their way of looking at amateur talent. They take the top player on their board, regardless of need or surplus in the organization.

          “Our strategy is always to get the best player for us,” senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod said. “We just don’t walk away from pitching. It has been talked about a lot, and the history of the draft will tell you if the evaluation is close, the collegehitter is the way to go. We have taken the guys the last three or four years who we felt were the best player at that pick.”

          If the evaluation is close, go with the college hitter. That sounds like risk aversion to me. But again, they state over and over that they aren’t specifically targeting hitters only. Best player available over and over.

          • Just turns out the best player in their view – first round pick – is always a hitter. With plate discipline skills. That’s a plan. It’s different from the Reds plan. The Reds say “best available player” but Jocketty said on a TV show this spring that they put their thumb on the side of pitching if close. Nick Howard, for example.

            I think Epstein’s words – building the club around position players because of relatively scarcity – are pretty clear about what he’s doing.

            If you want to convince yourself their first round picks, their trades for Rizzo, Montero and Russell were all just a coincidence, it’s a free country.

        • I never questioned your facts. I said I don’t think there’s any evidence that building a team around hitting is better than building a team around pitching, but I believed you that the Cubs may have chosen to build around hitting.

          I just thought that the comment about googling was more about other people (i.e. that they are too lazy to look into things) and less about the topic at hand.

        • Steve: Theo also traded for Jake Arietta and Pedro Strop. He traded Garza for pitching prospects CJ Edwards and Justin Grimm. Traded Castro this off season for Adam Warren. I just posted a quote that says the Cubs liked Appel over Bryant and only took Bryant because the Astros took Appel.

          To borrow your line and change it a bit: If you want to believe that the team with the best pitching staff in baseball last year, by FIP WAR, and the 3rd best so far this year was actually trying to build an offensive juggernaut and just got lucky with their pitching, then it’s a free country.

          • You can believe what Epstein says himself or not. Built the team around position players because pitchers are easy to acquire. Pitchers matter, but easier to acquire.

            “We’re really building a foundation of young position players and that we’re going to trust ourselves to add pitching along the way and build really effective pitching staffs each year and over time add impact pitching.”

            “Pitching is hugely important. But given the batter-pitcher dynamic now, it’s easier to develop pitching, easier to find pitching. Pitchers have naturally more confidence because the rules are tilted in their favor right now, and it takes special bats to be able to perform at truly elite levels. So we went for certainty, and we went for scarcity.”

            The Arrieta/Strop trade (for a pitcher Feldman) was about Strop, Arrieta was a throw-in. Easier to acquire. That’s proof of it. Castro was mainly a dump trade so they could play a hitter with good OBP instead of Castro. It’s not like the club was never going to acquire pitchers ever.

            The Cubs strategy under Epstein is as obvious as it is that they play their home games at Wrigley Field. Just listen to him.

        • See, now I’m starting to lose the thread of your argument Steve. Theo says it’s easier to develop hitters (i.e. draft them and develop them in the minor leagues) and add pitching along the way. Yet your post shows that he traded for Montero, Rizzo, and Russell, while adding Heyward, Fowler, and Zobrist as free agents. That’s 6 of 8 starters.

          So it seems like he’s been able to add hitting through trades and free agency just as easily as pitchers. So what is the model you or he are suggesting? Is it to focus on drafting hitters or just focus on getting hitters in every way possible? I’m confused.

          • Get elite hitters any way possible. Trade pitching for them. Use #1 draft picks on them. Spend in free agency on them. Nowhere did Esptein say “easier to develop hitters.” In fact, he said the opposite.

            (Posting for the third time) Theo Epstein: “But given the batter-pitcher dynamic now, it’s *easier to develop pitching, easier to find pitching*.”

            Please don’t take this as me being rude. I think I’ve been plenty patient explaining my thoughts on this post and providing more research. But I’m going to stop replying to these repetitive (that’s a generous term) questions. The quotes and information are there for you to read and evaluate. The exchange has reached the point where it feels like trolling to me, and I try to avoid participating in that when I can. You don’t have to agree with the Cubs approach. We’ll watch how they develop for a few years to see if their strategy works. My opinion is the Reds would be wise to follow it. You don’t have to agree with me, either.

        • To say that pitching is easier to acquire than hitting after the off season we just had is insanity. An off season where Jeff Samarzdja and Mike Leake got more money than Yeonis Cespedes or Alex Gordon. An off season where Greinke and Price got huge contacts. An off season where a high walk slugger like Chris Davis only had one interested team. Where Dexter Fowler could only get a one year deal.An off season where Todd Frazier was traded for an underwhelming package while Shelby Miller and Craig Kimbrel both fetched the moon.

          If your theory is correct, then teams should have been beating down the Reds door for Frazier. That didn’t happen. They got more for 2 months of Cueto than 2 years of Frazier. Maybe it was just a one time anomaly. But if it’s the start of a trend, then the Reds would be smart to build around young pitching and acquire their hitters in other ways.

          • You might be right and Theo Epstein might be wrong. The market you describe is driven by a bunch of front offices who don’t agree with the Cubs. That’s what makes what he’s doing a novel approach, worthy of writing a post about it. All your examples prove is that the Cubs are operating against conventional wisdom, nothing more. And that colors all your analysis.

            The Reds “got more” for Cueto depends on how you value pitchers vs. hitters. According to Jocketty, they asked and asked for hitters in return and couldn’t get any offered. That’s confirmation of Epstein’s theory. If the Reds were insisting on hitting back for Frazier, the poor return offers don’t prove anything about pitching vs. hitting.

            Missing from your lists are players like Justin Upton and Jason Heyward to mention a couple. And throw in a couple of deals (Greinke and Miller) by Tony LaRussa and Dave Stewart. Chris Davis, a flawed up-and-down hitter, got paid $161 million. Cespedes got paid $25 million/year as a 30-year old. We don’t need a charity drive for either of them.

        • I’m just trying to work out the logic of the plan you’re proposing for the Reds, period. I’m doing that because I like thinking about how baseball teams, and especially the Reds, can be put together to win, period. Your suggestions that anyone here is trolling seem off base to me.

          The basic argument seems to be about scarcity, if I’m following, and maybe a little bit about injury risk. I can understand the latter, position players seem to be less likely to have a catastrophic injury than pitchers. But I’m not sure that a relative scarcity of hitters means that the Reds should try to pursue them by any means necessary.

          In general, in a market, a scarce commodity goes up in price. However, just because an asset goes up in price, doesn’t mean that it produces more runs on the field. In general, for a team like the Reds that can’t spend like bigger payroll teams, it seems like the best way is always to find baseball assets that are undervalued in price relative to on-field production, and a scarce commodity that everyone values would not qualify.

          It seems like the scarcity argument would lead me to this conclusion: The Reds should over-draft position players, in the hope that they develop more of the scarce hitting commodity through the channel that allows them to pay very little, and then sign free agent pitchers because they are so cheap (relative to hitters because of their scarcity). The Reds could also then flip some of their cheap hitters for oodles of pitchers. Now, I’m not sure that that holds up given the free agent pitcher deals we’ve seen, but that would be the logical conclusion to me.

          I don’t understand the rationale, based on the scarcity argument, for targeting hitters in trades and through free agency in the way the Cubs have, since a scarce commodity will always end up costing more. Shouldn’t the Reds just be trying to find the cheapest way to score and/or prevent runs?

    • If you have good pitching, you should prioritize hitting. And vice-versa. The Cubs have(slightly) prioritized position players with their draft picks, but what they seem to be is a well-balanced team with good pitching and an advanced plate approach.

  21. More from Epstein about focusing on position players in the draft and why:

    “The reason we focus on position players in the draft and the bigger trades that we made, it’s not just because we anticipated the decline in offense, it’s also because position players are more predictable,” Epstein said in a wide-ranging interview in Mesa, Ariz., this spring. “We were aware we’re undergoing something unusual, a full-scale rebuild in a big market, so we couldn’t afford to miss.”

    • “We know we’re not going to have another opportunity to trade a top-of-the-rotation type guy in the middle of the season,” Epstein said. “We hope we don’t, anyway. So we couldn’t miss. We know we’re probably never going to pick fourth overall again. We hope we’re not, anyway. So we couldn’t miss. And the return in the first round — you’re twice as likely to hit on a bat as you are a pitcher. The certainty of getting an Addison Russell back in a trade versus the pitching equivalent of an Addison Russell, there’s a big difference there.”

    • Generally, position players tend to be a lower risk as far as serious, long-term injuries as well.

    • Steve, you win the argument as I watch Conforto of the Mets batting 3rd after being the 10th pick in the 2014 draft. Bryce Harper and Trout were good draft picks too.

  22. Votto is amazing. I’m a huge fan. I’d miss him terribly if he were traded. But I can’t help but thinking that if he didn’t have such a long term contract and was on his last year or two of his contract this year, he’d be much easier to trade. And that trade should yield a huge prospect and cash haul. It probably would have meant not scoring any runs against the Cubs this past weekend, and it might mean that the Reds would be worse than the Phillies this season. But, particularly if combined with trading Phillips, Bruce and (healthy, non-expensive contract harmed) Bailey, the 2018-2020 seasons would have a strong chance of being spectacular. Those seasons would also give the Reds a chance to bring back Votto as an elder statesman in a one or two-year free agent deal to help the OBP and walk rate of a playoff contending team. If only MLB had NFL-type contracts.

    • Votto’s OBP rate is so much higher than anyone else on the team that it skews the team stats and covers up how bad the Reds are at getting on base. I doubt there is any other player in MLB who has a statistic like this which stands out in such contrast to everyone else on his team.

    • Jocketty used Revere’s name at a press conference at RedsFest that December. Check out video at :30.

    • I think there were rumors about Revere and Span but don’t recall the specifics.

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