2017 Reds / The Nation Reports

2017 Reds Caravan Report – Columbus

[This report was submitted by loyal (and longtime) Nation member and super Reds fan David Johnson, who comments here as “Preach,” and his son Elijah. They attended the Reds Caravan event in Columbus, OH. Lots of great information. Thanks, Preach!]

“Sports science is the new Moneyball.” That was the second most interesting quote of the evening to me. It came from Bob Castellini, and was the response to a question regarding what will be different this year for the Cincinnati Reds.

img_2180Mr. Castellini went on to elaborate that the team has invested heavily in sports medicine and ways to track players’ health on and off the field. Much more attention will be given to various measurements including things such as using tech to monitor sleep, nutrition, and even hydration levels.

(Assistant GM) Nick Krall added that additional training staff are coming on board at every level to ensure a seamless transition throughout the organization.

The most interesting quote I heard did not come from the panel, but was uttered by my son Elijah as we travelled down the escalator overlooking the crowd (probably a couple hundred, I believe, but it was hard to judge in that venue). “Dad, I’m the only black person here.” Sure enough, in one of the busiest shopping malls in the state capital, he was correct. I’m not really sure what that says about the state of the game, or maybe the promotion of the event, but it definitely says something.

20170126_193524Speaking of Elijah, he graciously submitted the following as his impressions of the event:

The Reds Caravan was a very enjoyable experience. Seeing a Reds great like Dmitri Young was very nice. Though being in the back of the line was very inconvenient, once my Dad and I moved closer it was more enjoyable because it was much easier to hear and see the panel’s reactions to questions. Seeing the current players was nice as well, but I have to say seeing Bob Castellini was the best part of the experience. A great addition was also being able to get autographs from everyone.

Following up on what Elijah said, Dmitri Young was a real pleasure to hear speak. While both Scott Schleber and Blake Trahan stated they lettered in 4 or 5 sports each in high school, Dmitri only played baseball…..12 months a year. His father (who fascinatingly was one of the first African American F-14 pilots) insisted he practice year round. He said he had little appreciation at the time, but he is obviously grateful now. Elijah also mentioned questions and reactions. Here is what I gleaned for those:

1. The Pete Rose statue may be the most prominent one displayed at GABP when it’s dedicated. For those who don’t know, it will be of Charlie Hustle sliding into third. Something tells me it won’t be feet first.

2. Homer Bailey keeps working hard, according to Mr. Krall, who deferred to Mr Castellini when it came to a prognosis. Mr. Castellini repackaged the same thought. I didn’t get a good feeling about Homer being on a mound anytime soon.

20170126_1928023. When asked about the glut of middle infielders and if Brandon Phillips would be with the team after the All Star Break, BC said that he doesn’t know, but the team will always wish BP well with whatever happens…..At the risk of reading between the lines too much, it sounded like BC wouldn’t mind dealing him.

4. I asked if Michael Lorenzen will have a shot at the rotation. Mr’s Krall, Castellini, and Marty Brennaman all looked at me like I had a second head. It was explained to me (by all 3 in succession) that last year’s bullpen was troubled (yeah, I know…) and Michael will be needed alongside Drew Storen and Raisel Iglesias to strengthen the back end of the bullpen……It’s a dead issue, guys.

Lastly, we went through the line where Elijah was able to get autographs on his poster. Everyone was exceptionally gracious and took their time to get to know us as much as possible in the short time allotted. Dmitri took an interest in Elijah and asked if he played baseball because he has the balance and feet for it (?). When he told him no, he played basketball, Mr Krall wanted to know who we followed and after Elijah told him OKC and that we were going to see them play the Pacers in February, he commented on how nice the facility was and assured us we would have a good time.

Mr Castellini seemed sincerely humbled when my son told him it was an honor to meet him. For me, it was special meeting Marty and telling him how much of my tumultuous childhood was made better by listening to him and Joe Nuxhall. He genuinely seemed to appreciate that, and by the way he nodded, I got the impression it wasn’t the first time he heard something similar. We thanked both Scott and Blake for being there, and they thanked us for being there. They seemed like very down to earth, humble guys.

All in all, it was a great time and we cannot wait to hear that pitchers and catchers are reporting. And since hope springs eternal: “Wire to wire, baby. Wire. To. Wire.”

38 thoughts on “2017 Reds Caravan Report – Columbus

  1. Baseball is the best sport (imho), it’s a shame that select teams/travel ball, showcase tournaments and the like have turned it into an incredibly expensive endeavor for average families to participate. Team fees, league fees, tournament fees, hotel stays, time off work, multiple uniforms, matching bat bags and pullovers, fitted hats…by the time your son reaches teenage years, your family has to make a decision….local leagues that are drained of talent or pony up the big bucks to travel all over the tri-state area every weekend with a few large out of state week long tournaments thrown in there during the summer.

    The Undefeated featured an article about Andrew McCutchen and his story of teenage baseball on up to the big leagues, it is lengthy, but it details how youth baseball has went from being a local product to a money-making travel industry that makes all sorts of promises to families about their son’s future….it’s called “Andrew McCutchen in the Country of Baseball.” Every parent with a son playing baseball should check it out.

    • This. Yes, youth sports more than ever has become all about the individual player using a league for the pursuit of their own goals. You hit the nail on the head when you say the local leagues get drained of talent, which creates a caste system. Thing is, to fill out a baseball/softball team in high school you’re gonna need a few of these ‘others’ to have opportunities to play against good competition so they can be productive. I feel SO much guilt about coaching for development when everyone else is coaching to win (this is 7th grade girls btw), like I’m the one not caring enough. It’s exhausting.

      • You shouldn’t feel guilt, though Sultan. You should be proud that you have the perspective to do the right thing.

    • Absolutely. Add to that the additional space requirements, equipment needs, extensive overseas scouting, and the inability to make any real money at baseball right out of high school or college for most players, it’s not a winning formula to attract a wide talent pool at home.

  2. Thanks Preach. That is two stops on the Caravan where the front office personnel are not sounding confident about Homer right now. Hopefully it is nothing to be too concerned about.
    I’m bummed about the Lorenzen stuff. He needs to be in the rotation.
    If you are going to take Elijah to more of these events in the future, I’ll pass along a good tip for him. Get a couple of new MLB baseballs to take to the event. But take your own pen. Get a Uniball 207 gel pen, blue ink and a bold ballpoint width. They make for great autographs on a new white baseball. At Redsfest a couple of years back, Joey Votto was very impressed with the pen and how it showed on the white leather when I got his autograph. I let him keep the pen he was so impressed. I brought a back up pen with me. One word of caution though with this pen’s ink, it stays wet for a second or two on the leather before it dries, and can be easily smeared if not careful. Just blow on it for a second to help it dry quicker. However, it makes for a very nice autograph.

    • Sometimes those Uniball 207 gel pens with blue bold ink are hard to find at Walmart, Target, Staples, and the Office Max’s of the world. But they are easily found on Amazon. If you get anything from Amazon, remember to go to Doug Gray’s site redsminorleagues.com site and go to Amazon through his site. You can order the baseballs and the pens at the same time with them.

  3. Discouraging about Bailey, and discouraging and puzzling about Lorenzen. What’s to be gained by relegating him to the bullpen before spring training even starts? He is almost certainly one of the top five pitchers in the organization, and between injuries and prospects struggling they may very well need him in the rotation. So to just dismiss that out of hand makes little sense to me. Also discouraging to hear that there was so little diversity in the crowd of Reds fans. MLB and the Reds are missing out if they don’t reach out to potential fans of ALL shapes, sizes, colors and descriptions.

    • I agree. I think they’re making a mistake relegating Lorenzen to a role before they even know if it’s where he’ll be most valuable. This is a great year for the Reds to see if he can stick in the rotation.

  4. I wonder if the players are going to approve of full blown biometric monitoring. Sounds like a violation that the players union will have to take up.

  5. I appreciate the comments and apologize for the camera. It makes me look really fat.

    • I have the exact same problem with all my cameras. And, everyone else’s cameras.

  6. Observations about Lorenzen: He gained 2 MPH on his fastball and 4 MPH (!!!) on his slider when he started relieving. While I understand wanting to give him a shot, I don’t necessarily think it’s a given that he should be in the rotation. Garrett, Reed, Stephenson, and Finnegan are all younger than Lorenzen.

    • I’m with you on this, Jason. I’d love him to have a shot, but I don’t think he’d be nearly as effective.

    • Don’t often agree with you but on this we can certainly applaud your insight. Good job!
      I have long suspected that in the quest for a big paycheck players have been throwing to hard and not pitching with control, finesse, from their physical strengths. It is unfortunate that there is no monitoring tool to determine when a picther is just throwing as hard as they can versus pitching within their limits.

      • No piece of equipment or a fool-proof formula to monitor it, perhaps, but the eyeball test and outcomes can certainly suggest when a pitcher is over-throwing.

        • This is true. But you know as well as I do in this day and age if there isn’t a stat, metric, or number it is discredited as old school, fantasy, down right inaccurate.

    • Thanks for asking the question, Preach. This is the first that I heard they definitively weren’t going to consider Lorenzon for the starting rotation this year. They may have thought you had two heads, but perhaps your question sparked that idea for them? One can certainly hope…

  7. Reds ZiPS projections are up over on FanGraphs.

    The highlights:

    Votto – 4.6 WAR
    Disco – 2.6 WAR

    Winker is 2nd best hitter (109 OPS+).

    Schebler, Herrera, Peraza, Duvall, Cozart, Winker are all within variance of being “league average” players (2.0 WAR).

    Phillips has the lowest projected WAR for any starter (1.1 WAR).

    If, somehow, Phil Ervin were to make the team, he already projects for 1.3 WAR on the strength of plate discipline and premium defensive position.

    • I’ve been high on Ervin for a while. He does absolutely everything you want a prospect to do other than hit for average, and that’s not entirely in his control. But he gets on base, hits for power, has value on the base paths, and flexibility in the OF to play all 3 spots. Glad to see the projection system sees value there as well.

      • I think Ervin will be a slightly late bloomer like Todd Frazier. We will only have him for a few years before we have to depart ways I fear.

  8. Thanks for the synopsis and information. This is the second report of Reds FO personnel being reserved on Homer. I think the Feldman signing is a good move. The time for conjecture is nearly over…We should know a lot more in 1 month.

  9. bob steve and reed have shown very little in the big leagues. to pencil them in as starters is non sense

    • Neither has Michael Lorenzen as a starter.

      But sometimes, you gotta let guys struggle a bit. Many, many pitchers take a while to adjust. You can either have faith in them or assume everything is hopeless forever.

  10. Thanks to Elijah and David for taking the time to offer their detailed thoughts about the caravan visit to Redleg Nation. Elijah, regarding your initial feeling, I’ve often had the same about the composition of the crowd at Reds games. Not to say the Reds crowds are entirely white, but my sense is they don’t come close to reflecting the diversity of the Reds geographical footprint. And I find that dissatisfying.

    With Lorenzen, the ship had sailed by the time we attended the meet-up event with Nick Krall and Sam Grossman last summer. The FO made up its collective mind early. I’ve outlined reasons to think Lorenzen could be much more effective as a starter than he was the last time he got a shot. That’s certainly his own opinion. He’d only barely been a starter and was new to the major leagues. His pitch portfolio and mental toughness have developed.

    The discouraging thing about the Reds decision making on Lorenzen is their rush to plug him into a role instead of sorting out team-wide talent during a rebuild. He was needed in the bullpen last year. But the question of where he would most help the team this year and going forward should be wide open. It’s an inflexible mindset.

    • And it’s especially perplexing because they used a relatively high pick and drafted him with the specific intention to put him in the starting rotation and fast-tracked him to the big leagues.

      Yes, he struggled initially but then showed he could adjust and make the most of his very impressive pitch repertoire. Now the ship has sailed?

      Unless there are undisclosed durability concerns, I don’t see why they wouldn’t still consider him as a possible rotation piece. Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, et. al. had better turn out to be very good because I see Lorenzon being their equal in talent and he’s show the ability to get big league hitters out now, not prospectively.

      • MrRed, I think you got to the heart of the matter when you said “unless there are undisclosed durability concerns”. The Reds see a lot more of these guys than we as fans do. They also are privy to much more training and medical information. It’s obvious to most fans that, and why, the FO thinks that Igelsias can’t handle the demands of starting. I’m willing to concede that they may know more about Lorenzen than we do (though I’m a tad disappointed).

        This horse is dead …

    • FWIW, regarding the make up of the crowd in Columbus, I live in that area and that mall is an area of the city that is not very diverse, and the normal crowds there are generally fairly lily white. If they had held the event at Easton instead, I’d expect the crowd to be more diverse as that mall seems to have a more diverse crowd and is a bigger draw from more areas of the city than Polaris.

  11. I’ve seen a few references that even if Winker looks like he’s ready for the bigs, he might be held in the minors for a month or two for service time issues. Led me to wondering about this: Does Peraza have any options left? I think he first was placed on a team’s 40-man roster in 2014…….If the Phillips-Cozart Blockade is still in place, wouldn’t it make more sense to have Peraza spend a few months in Louisville also? I think I’d rather see him play every day at short in the minors than four days a week bouncing around among three or four positions with the Reds.

    • Brian Price is on the record saying this is the approach for Herrera. As for peraza…He is a major leaguer..Price views him that way and has said it’s his job to find spots for him. The clock is ticking on Phillips and Cozart…It’s a 3-4 month issue…And perhaps less as someone will go on the DL by June and by the all Star break…Cozart will be traded. Phillips will start playing less and less in June and July and I am sure he will have one of those DL stints for back spasms or wrist soreness come August. September will be his swan song with sporadic starts and fan appreciation.

  12. The Pirates just announced they are moving McCutcheon to RF and putting Starling Marte in CF. Why cant the Reds do what’s best for their team and not worry about placating egos?

    • We don’t know that there were any ego issues involved in the Pirates decision. Nor do we know it about the Reds.

    • A team can do such things when it has 3 CF’s playing the 3 OF spots. The Reds have 1 CF on their entire 25-man roster. They don’t even have a backup CF yet, nor a real RF. The Reds have 1 CF, a converted 3B and a LF playing the 3 OF spots.

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