Modern Baseball

We’ve got Lorenzen for that

“Filling a current need.”

Bryan Price was asked before today’s game if Michael Lorenzen might be used as a starting pitcher. That’s an idea long advocated by many here at Redleg Nation. Lorenzen himself says he would like to start.

Price’s response was horrifying. He said, in part:

“(Lorenzen’s) not a reliever because we don’t believe he can start. He’s a reliever because he’s filling a current need.”

The Reds – whether that be the front office, the manager or coaching staff – have decided to use Michael Lorenzen as a reliever because they view the bullpen as a current need. That’s consistent with what Price has said about Lorenzen’s role since the pitcher returned from the DL in June 2016. Lorenzen did well in the bullpen. So we’ll keep him there.

/best Seinfeld raised voice/

Have you seen the Reds starting rotation? 

/lowers voice/

If the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation isn’t a current need, nothing is. Let’s review current events. The Reds rotation is:

  • Last in baseball in ERA (6.17)

  • Last in baseball in FIP (6.00)

  • Last in baseball in WAR (-1.1) the only rotation in negative numbers (ever)

  • Last in home runs surrendered

  • 29th in first-pitch strikes

  • 27th in walks surrendered (last in NL)

  • 28th in getting opponents to swing on pitches out of the strike zone

How much worse does the starting pitching have to become before the Reds decision makers conclude it’s a “current need” that maybe Michael Lorenzen could fill?

Worrying about the role of a single pitcher in the Reds bullpen while the starting rotation is the fiasco that it is, is like tuning up the band to play while the Titanic sunk. (How is it that no one in the Reds front office has used that easy cliché to win this argument?)

To be clear, there’s no guarantee that Michael Lorenzen would succeed as a starting pitcher. But this is the year to find out. Right now. Instead of giving useless starts to Tim Adleman and Asher Wojciechowski. Even instead of Scott Feldman. Find out now. Find out about Stephenson and Reed. And Michael Lorenzen.

Lorenzen could be in the starting rotation by the first week of August and make a dozen starts. If he takes to it, the added innings would ease him in to an expanded role next year.

Face it, if the Reds can’t find their way to trying Lorenzen as a starter now, with all the injuries and struggles of the healthy, they never will. Next year, they’ll see Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Luis Castillo and a raft of other possible starters and rationalize that Lorenzen will be a proven fill-in at a “current need” in the bullpen. Creeping Chapmanism, The Sequel.

The last few years, whether it be Walt Jocketty or his old-school assistants, ownership, Dusty Baker or Bryan Price, the Reds have been afflicted with the kind of archaic thinking that robs the organization of crucial increments. Those baseball men have their strengths. But their risk-averse, out-of-date thinking about how to win on the field has also held the Reds back.

Increments matter. Every decision by the manager and front office adds up. The best organizations – in any social endeavor, not just professional baseball – obsess over increments of improvement. As Al Pacino’s character says in Any Given Sunday, the inches that make the difference between winning and losing are everywhere around us.

In baseball, instead of inches, today we measure launch angles, spin rates, exit and pitch velocities, isolated power and more. Playing time and role decisions are an important part of what managers and front offices can control.

Yes, there have been glimmers, even beams, of hope from Dick Williams and his staff. But not enough. The myopia over Michael Lorenzen’s role is a throwback to sluggish and failed decision-making. Putting off consideration of Lorenzen’s role to next year smacks of dinosaurs plodding away to extinction. In the service of what? A 40-55 team?

As we’ve witnessed during the past week, the other teams out there, they’re trying to figure out ways to beat our brains in. Those organizations are loaded with clever people and talented players, too. They make mistakes, but you can bet they’re looking for every last edge.

If the Reds are hobbled by antiquated and irrational thinking, keeping up with or beating them just isn’t going to happen. The Reds are going to have to be smarter before they can hope to get better.

65 thoughts on “We’ve got Lorenzen for that

  1. I think the reds handled Lorenzen well last year. I don’t have a problem starting him this year in the bullpen to manage his innings load coming off last year. But, good grief….the all star break was the time to stretch him out and give him 12 starts and transition him to a starter for 2018.
    However, The fact the reds are leaking that lorenzen is likely going to ST as a SP is great news…the fact it’s not fast enough is frustrating but won’t matter in 2019.

    Go back to February 2017 and if you.knew then….the reds would trade Dan Straily for an elite flamethrower with a change up and some poise…..and lorenzen would transition to a SP. In 2018……that’s great news.

    Maybe DW just pulled rank on WJ.

  2. Mind boggling. That is the description of this organization. Maybe they should look at the empty seats every game and realize people are tired of the runaround. We get it . You are in a rebuild. But nobody is coming to a game when you run out the retreads. I tune in to watch the kids pitch and take their lumps. Watch them as they succeed. If we were fighting for a wildcard I could deal with Adleman. But we are not. It’s just not rocket science here.

  3. Haha love this Steve! I tweeted this to you earlier today and low and behold you were already on top of it, writing a great article about it. I had the same reaction when I saw this quote from Price. I am baffled by the “filling a current need” quote. I just don’t understand the Reds decisions sometimes.

  4. I’m all for finding out now on Stephenson. And Lorenzen. But Cody Reed? No. Not right now. He’s not even showing anything in Louisville that suggests he shouldn’t be fighting to stay in THAT rotation.

  5. I am fine with how Lorenzen has been managed this year. I also believe that he should be given the chance in ST next year to see if he can start. If he starts then someone needs to fill his spot as a multi inning late game reliever. I have some names in mind for that. Davis, Herget, Chacin, Weiss. I also think that the Reds should look at Mahle in September and start clearing the roster of the fodder on it. I agree with Doug Gray that we need to find out about Stephenson now.

  6. To me, Price’s comments illustrate that he’s more concerned with winning meaningless games in the short term (and possibly saving his job) than the long-term good of the franchise and its players. To be fair, I’m sure 99.9% of other managers would do the same thing, but at some point, the front office needs to step in and right the ship. If the bullpen ends up being the best role for Lorenzen, so be it, but if the primary goal for the rest of the season is to figure out the team’s best starting pitching options for 2018, isn’t it a self-fulfilling prophecy to postpone giving Lorenzen a look until next spring?

    Here’s hoping there won’t be a sequel to this story when Wojo starts instead of Stephenson on Saturday.

    • I was taken a back a bit when a few weeks ago during the Reds game they showed Walt Jocketty and Bob Castellini sitting together with DW one row ahead. Jocketty is still around a lot. I think Fathers day? Castellini is fiercely loyal and there has to be odd dynamics with WJ and DW. Perhaps DW understands the long personal relationship BC and WJ have and its takes some time to turn the USS Jocketty in a new direction.

      • There was a cut out shot on TV during Wednesday’s game of the Reds FO area at GABP. WJ was prominent in the picture with his ever present cell phone to his ear. DW was several feet away otherwise occupied. Made me nervous to think that WJ is apparently playing an active role in the trade deadline runup.

      • This. x 1000.

        I saw the same image, and thought, “Family member to ownership or not, Dick Williams is navigating deep waters with Jocketty still around whispering in Uncle Bob’s ear.”

        • didn’t see that…but of course…what a dysfunctional dynamic. Is Dick Williams really the GM? Is Jocketty running things from his flip phone in his Florida condo? Perhaps there is some unofficial agreement between Castellini and Jocketty….that Walt can take a step back from the day to day demands and not be burdened….. but still be given an executive decision making contribution. Mark Twain may be apropos here….”The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”.

  7. Steve,

    Excellent post.

    The real challenge for the Reds won’t be getting to .500 with some semblance of a MLB starting pitching staff. That seems achievable.

    In 2019 or whenever, the real challenge will be edging out the Colorado/Arizona/NY Mets/Atlantas, most likely, for a wild card spot. Things like not developing a platoon partner for Billy Hamilton, not turning to over the current Lorenzen role to Austin Brice (whose Clutch rating is actually higher than ML) or whoever, etc. will then be more noticeable.

    If all of those tweaks and efficiencies are coming in 2018, great. However, does that mean the rest of this season is about Bryan Price managing as if wins matter to keep his job? If so, what a waste and what poor management by Dick Williams.

    • Williams played coy about Price’s future as presented in the Enquirer article I linked in Wednesday’s preview

      http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/mlb/reds/2017/07/19/bar-reds-gm-bryan-price-were-not-losing-games-dugout/491494001/

      He said that unlike 2016, the decision on Price wasn’t going to go down to the last week or even day of the season. There was an inference that Price himself had knowledge of the timeline.

      DW said that Price had done a good job managing the clubhouse and the Reds weren’t “losing games in the dugout”. But he also said they needed to see continued improvement in the young starting pitchers still this year and inferred that was “as much on” player development as the MLB coaching staff which is the same as saying the MLB staff is as much to blame as the development staff.

  8. Steve,Thanks for the data that supports how historically bad the starters really have been.Comments like Price made are just well I can’t think of a word that would do them justice.Someone said the other night that Price returning next year was kind of like OJ getting pardoned or something to that effect.Welllllll be careful what you ask for or even talk about in jest.

    • When I read Price’s comments, I wanted to scream. But that doesn’t make for a good post. 🙂

      • Was that Price’s personal opinions????….or was he projecting/reiterating the FO talking points with perhaps Walt Jocketty still part of the FO?

        • I don’t know why people take Price’s words so literal. Yeah, Dusty was free with his true thoughts (although they were often cloaked in Dustyisms), but Price keeps his cards close to his chest. The stuff he says to the beat writers is meaningless.

  9. I think the organization knows what they have in Lorenzen. He’s not in the same boat as Stephenson and Reed. It seems that they are erring on the side of caution with his elbow. Limit his innings this year and stretch him out for next. There’s no rush and ,with him, nothing to prove. Now there are others with a lot to prove and I hope the Reds get them up in place of Feldman and Adleman over the next few months to see if they sink or swim.This season is lost anyhow. Have you seen or bullpen without Lorenzen and Iggy? They were the ones setting records last year.

    • That’s kind of like not starting Babe Ruth, so you can save him to pinch hit in the 8th. You know what you got, so we’ll save him for later.

  10. If the Reds only plan to use Lorenzen in the bullpen, then they should stop pitching him right now and make him a full-time outfielder again. An everyday player has far more value than a guy throwing 60 or 70 innings a year.

    • I think the ship has sailed on this ever happening; but, if they’d have made this decision a year to 18 months ago, I think they would be well down the road to having a CF next year or 2019 who does everything better than BHam except steal second base.

      I know that’s a mouthful on defense but my money would be on Lorenzen’s years of outfield experience covering his slight raw speed deficiency; and, as for an arm, no contest.

      The pity is that they gotten so little out of Lorensen’s great potential to be either a pitcher or position guy. It’s almost enough to make a person edgy about how they will do with Hunter Greene.

    • My guess is if they’d send hm to Louisville for the balance of the season to play CF he’d be ready to come back in September and play. Per a June 2017 story he still shags balls in the outfield during batting practice using his outfielder’s glove. He hits with the positional players. I’d say 2 1/2 months thus season and a whole winter and spring training and he’d be ready to go.

      • I think you are over simplifying how hard hitting is. Yes, Mike hit a HR or 2 on grooved pitches to an opposing pitcher. He’s not going to all of a sudden going to be a MLB hitter with a “little practice”

        • Agreed completely. Lorenzen is not a good hitter (as some suggest) without the “for a pitcher” qualifier.

          Same thing people said about Mike Leake as he struck out 40% of the time. “He’s a good hitter…and not just for a pitcher!!” No. No, he wasn’t.

  11. The quote by Price is very depressing but what do you expect from a team that still believes that the fastest guy has to lead off. The Reds also used Reed and Stephenson as long relief pitchers to start the season.

  12. So weakening a known strength to “possibly” shore up a weakness is antiquated thinking? Isn’t that robbing Peter to pay Paul? Is it logical to make yourself worse 2-3 games per week to
    “Maybe” become better 1 day a week? My God, they went about .500 in Arroyo’s starts. Even if Lorenzen were good we have no way to know if it would equate to more wins…especially when there would likely be more losses as a result of blown leads on the backend.

    Is it possible that the Reds possess biometric data and other proprietary information that suggest that Lorenzen is not physically and/or emotionally suited to be a starter? Does he even want to start?

    Joe Maddon decided to “stretch out” Chapman in the playoffs and he hasn’t been the same pitcher since. Is that a coincidence? Maybe…maybe not. Some guys are built to pitch an inning and not 5.

    • Even if lorenzen were good ?
      Lorenzen is good. 30 other teams would love to have him. Myopia in 2017 doesn’t fix anything. Arroyo as a SP in 2017 is a false pretense. No one is talking about how to make a 70 win team a 73 win team. You might be correct that Lorenzen might make THIS team better in the bullpen and create 2 more wins with wojo and Bonilla and adelman starting 50 games…. Lorenzen and a manager can take adequateness 4x a month and get the win….so can Iglesias…..but this isn’t about converting 70 wins into 72. It’s about how to win 92 games as quickly as possible.

      • I believe Lorenzen is good. I’ve never suggested he isn’t good.

        My statement was regarding a hypothetical. We don’t know if he would be a good starter….and even if he were a good starter we don’t know if that would translate into more wins.

    • You’re trolling here. You know every one of the questions you ask has been thoroughly answered. Starters pitch three times the number of innings as relievers. Relievers are much easier to replace. The Reds have said countless times Lorenzen is healthy and able to start. Not to mention the first sentence from Price quoted in this post. Lorenzen has said numerous times he wants to start. Your reference to Maddon and Chapman is absurd on several levels.

      Please don’t question – without the slightest bit of evidence – the emotional qualities of Reds players. How would you like it if I said we didn’t have to take your comments seriously because we couldn’t be sure if you were emotionally suited to it?

      • No kidding man! ML is no lock as a starter, but the guy generates groundballs and has a live arm with a moving fastball. Actually, Peralta might even be a better candidate. He has a change vs righties and destroys LH hitters. THEY HAVE TO DO SOMETHING??? Currently, we’re beat by the 4th-5th inning every other game?
        Most of the young guys have shown next to nothing so far.

        Tyler Mahle might be one of the few exceptions! He pitched well again tonite….6.2, 0 walks, 1 er. If you throw out 1 horrible start last week, then here are his numbers since May 30th!

        49.1 ip, 36 hits, 7 walks, 56 Ks (1.09 era)

        • Run some tryouts for Lorenzen’s spot in the pen as well. Hernandez is taking his lumps but Jimmy Herget is supposed to have real potential. He just pitched 3 games in 4 nights with 4 shutout innings total. If they have to…go find a Cody Allen type for just the 9th and Peralta, Herget, and Iggy can put out the fire in the mid-innings when the game is on the line. Andrew Miller is 10x more valuable then their closer Allen.

      • I put forth a possible premise as to why the Reds don’t use him as a starter. I didn’t write anything even remotely negative about Lorenzen’s emotional stability. I offered no opinion whatsoever on that topic….none.

        It seems likely that a Major League Baseball team would analyze the emotional comportment and physical stamina of a pitcher to determine what role makes the most sense.

        My guess would be they know more about him than you do and they’ve chosen to not use him as a starter. Maybe they have well thought out, valid reasons that they’ve chosen to not publicly disclose or perhaps they’re a clown college.

        You have the right to disagree with their decisions. I have the right to disagree with you.

        • But your disagreement is based on nothing but you guessing at random weird things like thinking the Reds have some sort of proprietary way to emotionally determine the efficacy of a starting pitcher vs a reliever.

          Sure, disagree if you want. But don’t act like its based on anything other than wanting to be argumentative.

          • If Steve had written that Lorenzen should continue to be a reliever, Chuck would be posting that Lorenzen should be a starter. Trolling as Steve noted.

            Whatever the Reds plan in regards to Starting Pitching is clearly not working. Relying on injury prone pitchers (Homer, Disco, Finnegan) is not much of a plan. The Reds rebuild appears to be on the pitching side and that is off to a slow start.

        • I got it! The Red’s need to hire a Bench Shrink or Psychologist Coach.

          I wonder if he could take the mound and hypnotize a pitcher into throwing strikes? Anyone know if that can be down in 30 seconds?

  13. Never know anything until you try which eliminates the possiblys and maybe’s.Don’t know if starting Lorenzen or even Peralta makes the team better or worse just know it makes sense to try. As you often say and I agree so what if you lose 95 and not 90.

  14. Clean house, please. I’m tired of buffoon decision makers ruining the team I grew up cheering for.

  15. Haha! I knew this comment would be up here. The Reds are becoming the Montreal Expos of relievers – can you imagine a rotation of Chapman, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Cingrani, and Hunter Greene (we haven’t moved him to the ‘pen just yet).

    I know Iglesias has shoulder issues so okay. Cingrani can’t throw strikes with anything but the heater, fine, but is he that much worse than anything we’re running out there? It seems to me that we’d rather put guys where they’re comfortable and develop their careers so they can star elsewhere (Chapman, maybe Iglesias, as the idea was floated on here, Cingrani if we can get anything for him). Does our front office really not know the difference in a 70 IP closer, a 90-100 IP “fireman” like Iglesias/Lorenzen and a 180+ IP (not that high a bar) starter?! This is getting old…

    • Neither the Cubs nor Yankees used Chapman as a starter either. I don’t believe that was even remotely considered by either team. The other 27 teams in the league all had the opportunity to offer him the opportunity to start over the winter and none did.

      Why didn’t some really smart team offer him an incentive laden contract that would earn him top starter money if he excelled as a starter….and if the starting experiment failed then he would still be the highest paid closer in baseball?

      • Because it had been too long. Starting someone who threw 150 innings in the recent past (Lorenzen) is very different from in starting someone who has pitched 60-70 innings for 5-6 years (Chapman).

        Moving Cingrani to the pen was the right move. I’m worried about Romano because he only has two quality pitches, which usually portends a move to the bullpen. Cingrani has only one effective potch.

        Iglesias would be such a big help to the rotation, but the Reds seem confident that his shoulder can’t handle it, and I think we need to give them the benefit of the doubt there.

        Maybe the Reds wanted to see how Lorenzen’s elbow held up for a while longer first before extending his innings. That seems reasonable. But of course, DW wanted him to get 100+ this year, which seems like a lot if you were protecting his arm.

        The need thing doesn’t make sense after starting Arroyo, Bonilla, Wojo, and a not close to ready Rookie Davis. But I’m sure there were more factors than just need. If they started stretching him now and gave him 7-9 starts, they could get a good feel for what they had going into Spring.

      • He was a closer who refused to start before he left Cincy. The Yankees and Cubs acquired him as such, so nothing against their use. But we signed him as a starter, then didn’t really give it a try before he was locked in. ..

  16. At the end of the day this team needs starting pitching to win. What needs to be done in the offseason is decide which young guys are the future and figure out what can be traded for a front line starter. If this team wants to be competitive in 2018-2019 then Price is not the answer. Williams needs to figure out who the manager of the contending Reds will be and hire him this winter and leave him alone to manage the personnel.

  17. The Reds will never win a World Series or even compete for one with Bryan Price as the manager. Our window is opening as soon as next year for a legitimate 5 year period of chances to compete at a high level. From his mismanaging of Lorenzen and the rotation as a whole this season to an apparent lack of understanding of how to construct a consistently effective lineup, its time for a change. If not now, then after this season. Price has got to go.

    • As I have said I do not believe Price is a winning manager, but if not Price then who?

      • Eric: I’ve asked that question here and elsewhere but so far no one has an answer. There are people I wouldn’t mind but they are currently employed. I like Showalter and Bochy. I wish the Reds had been in a position to hire Francona when he was available and the Indians hired him.

        I don’t believe that Price is making all the decisions on “mismanaging” Lorenzen and the rotation. If DW had wanted Lorenzen starting this year, I believe he would be starting. The lineup is an issue in my opinion but unfortunately, I’m guessing the apparent thinking of Price on lineup construction isn’t any different from many/most of the other managers in MLB.

  18. About Lorenzen, one thing the announcers said Wednesday night was that was Lorenzen’s first 1-2-3 inning since May 1. That says he has been struggling a bit for awhile now. They also noted that Lorenzen kept fidgeting with his right shoulder after some pitches. I didn’t hear anything afterwards though. Is he battling through something? That may be keeping him in the pen.
    However, Price and the Reds have said the next 10 and 11 weeks are about finding out who are the ones to solidify spots for 2018. Price has never shut the door on Lorenzen starting in 2018. So why isn’t Lorenzen being given a starting shot in these last 10-11 weeks then? It might all go back to Lorenzen’s right elbow and shoulder. But nobody is saying anything.

    • In his last 10 appearances, Lorenzen has had 9 scoreless with the lone exception being the Washington debacle. His FIP is most of those outings was outstanding so pitching pretty well. But if the shoulder thing is true, that’s concerning.

    • That was Tom and that was incorrect. Way off…I checked Lorenzen’s game logs

      • Tom is delusional. His bird friend probably told him that stat about Lorenzen.

        June 5th and June 18th = 3 up & 3 down. Nobody reached by error or hbp either

  19. The Red’s front office is worried about what color the ice was that ripped a hole in the side of the ship as it’s sinking.

  20. “Yes, there have been glimmers, even beams, of hope from Dick Williams and his staff. But not enough.”

    Agree, wholeheartedly.

  21. “If the Reds are hobbled by antiquated and irrational thinking, keeping up with or beating them just isn’t going to happen. The Reds are going to have to be smarter before they can hope to get better.”

    Smarter and I would add, more audacious.

  22. Lorenzen’s stats from 2016-17. 169 to 109 groundball to flyball ratio. 15 double plays in 99 total innings. I don’t have everyone’s stats but if he could do that as a starter then that makes him one of the better groundball pitchers in mlb. For example…Dallas Keuchel is one of the best groundball pitchers in the game and he had 21 doubleplays in 233 ip in 2015.

    HRs allowed are just ridiculous with our staff and gabp. They need to really monitor these groundball/flyball ratios in the minors. They have to give Lorenzen a shot in the rotation….its that simple.

  23. I have thought since spring training that the Reds have a medically-related reason to restrict Lorenzen THIS YEAR to the bullpen, and they just do not want to announce that reason to the world. They appear to be sticking to that decision, which is almost certainly an organizational one that Brian Price did not make himself.

    I am confident that Brian Price knows full well that his starting pitching has been atrocious. With respect to Lorenzen, he is doing his job as employee by saying what he has said about “filling a current need.” But yesterday and in the past, Price has said that the organization will consider giving Lorenzen the chance to start, so I am going to take him and the Reds at his word and assume that Lorenzen will be given that chance next year in spring training.

    Rather than worry about Lorenzen, I would like to see them go to a 6-man rotation, give most of the starts to various young guys, and find out who has the sack to pitch at this level.

  24. By the way, I may need to just print out and frame this post. I’m utterly flummoxed trying to follow the dizzying intellect displayed by what the Reds are apparently thinking. All I can hope is that they kept him in the pen to fill a need this year and they don’t want to move him to starting mid-season. That’s still not necessary justified but it is explainable and indeed not irrevocably stupid.

  25. Who was the GM that a baseball writer recently described as “…never being shy about making bold moves to improve a roster?” Hint it wasn’t a Red’s GM.

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