As Dick Williams has taken on more and more power in the Reds’ front office over the last year, I have found myself suddenly agreeing with more and more of the decisions that Reds have made regarding player personnel. Consider the following events:
- In June, the Reds had what was generally regarded as the best draft of any team. Their top pick, Nick Senzel was a well-rounded player whose most impressive skill is the ability to get on base. This same player has even expressed that he believes getting on base is the most important thing.
- The Reds, in a heads up move, also managed to sign T.J. Friedl, a highly regarded college prospect whose eligibility for the draft was missed by literally everyone.
- The Reds have become more analytical and more thorough in the way their prospects are developed. The recent decision to add more coaches is part of this. But I was also told last season by people with the Louisville Bats that there has been much more focus on biomechanics and other advanced developmental tools at the minor league level.
- The Reds, in signing Drew Storen, made exactly the kind of low-risk, high-reward move that they need to get them through this upcoming transitional season.
- The Reds, in trading Dan Straily, actually bought low and sold high. Let me say that again. The Reds bought low and sold high. The Reds. The Cincinnati Reds. This is a thing they did.
To be sure, there are some things that I still question. Some of the international signings seem questionable to me, but I also know enough to know that you can’t tell very much about such players until they’re in the organization. Our understanding of how players’ stats translate from one level of pro-ball to the next is, to say the least, incomplete. Never mind international free agents. This is what scouts are for. And presumably, the same people who were involved in the fabulous 2016 draft are also involved in making these decisions.
By no means am I saying that I will no longer cast a careful analytical eye at the moves the Reds make. However, I’ve found myself no longer defaulting to “uh-oh” whenever the Reds make a move, and that is encouraging (if only for our collective mental health).
If the organization can continue on this current path and avoid the kind of boneheaded moves that saw Skip Schumaker “hitting” and Alfredo Simon “pitching” for the Reds, I will be further encouraged. If they can somehow manage to clear the infield logjam before Opening Day (or even shortly thereafter), I will be ecstatic. And if they show patience with their young players and allow them to work through initial difficulties that may crop up in the majors instead of leaning on past-their-prime veterans, I will know that the rebuild has a real chance of working.
I’ve spent much of the last few years hoping the Reds would prove me wrong. Now, I suddenly find myself hoping they prove me right. That’s a nice change.