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2019-2020 Offseason Plans

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  • 2019-2020 Offseason Plans

    What are your predictions? What would you do if you were running the club?
    "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
    "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
    "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
    "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

  • #2
    I see a very bright future for the Cincinnati Reds
    They are "NOT QUITE THERE" yet, but they'll be "GETTING THERE" SOON..
    Last edited by 1954 Phils; 10-07-2019, 09:28 AM.


    • #3
      With all due respect, I see the opposite so long as Bob Castellini continues to suffer a homegrown front office. Season after season passes and the Reds have no plan besides "if everything goes well for our team - rookies produce, veterans find the fountain of youth, and everyone stays healthy - we'll compete", completely ignoring that the same being true for every other team would continue to render the Reds to the second division. (Is that term even used anymore?) The big plan, such as it is, is to get lucky. This offseason it seems to be spend money and get lucky. Any business plan that relies on everything going right for your business while everything goes wrong for your competitors in order for you to succeed is nothing more than wishful thinking. Yet that sums up the front office's "hope and change" every offseason.

      The Reds are a hot mess. From 1990-1995, they built a decently competitive team, winning a World Series, playing in the NLCS and finishing in 1st in the strike year. This was Marge Schott's swan song, however, and Jim Bowden (who got his job because of an IT background and because Marge was a cheapskate) made the mistake of betting the surprise 1999 team being "one player away" when he bet the ranch on Junior. Then there was The Plan, when that didn't work, to rebuild for the opening of Great American Ballpark, which was designed with Griffey's swing in mind, hoping to capitalize on the Quest for 756.

      That didn't happen and Bowden was sacked by Carl Lindner, who himself had only bought the team as an act of philanthropy for the city. Bowden's replacement, Dan O'Brien started the long process of rebuilding a farm system that had largely been poor on developing talent since Schott had bought the team. (Why pay people - scouts - to watch baseball games, right?) This was the beginning of the road to recovery, though O'Brien wouldn't be around to see it.

      Having felt burned by his (few, but costly) investments in the club, Lindner cashed out and veggie magnate Bob Castellini bought the team. Castellini had been a minority shareholder in the ownership group that had run the St. Louis Cardinals for the past 10 years (1996-2005), but was a Cincinnati native and wanted to duplicate that success in his hometown.

      Castellini brought in his own man, hiring Wayne Krivsky, the assistant GM (under Terry Ryan) in Minnesota. Here was a guy with a pedigree in a successful front office, building through the farm system to help a small market team overachieve. That was the narrative. Krivsky built on O'Brien's earlier work, even improving on it, but fanboy Castellini didn't trust the guy he hired just 6 months earlier when Marty Brennaman kept complaining that the Reds were a few bullpen arms shy of another World Series run. Sure, the 2006 Reds overachieved in the first half, but that wasn't their true talent level and Castellini demanded that Krivsky trade offense for pitching. The infamous deal with the Nationals (then run by former Reds GM Bowden) gutted the lineup and killed the team's momentum that year, with no positive results.

      That winter, Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty was fired because he was so adamantly opposed to considering new data-driven methods of looking at baseball ops. The Cardinals' owner saw "Moneyball" as a cost-effective way to maintain long-term success through the draft-and-development model and brought people in to modernize the team's baseball ops. Jocketty opposed the change and was given his walking papers.

      Castellini seized on the opportunity for his former GM to come work for him again (not bothering to question whether Jocketty's firing had substance behind it) and the writing was on the wall for Krivsky's job when Jocketty was hired as an "advisor" that winter. A slow start by an untalented team in April led to the dismissal of the Reds' best GM in 20 years. The Jocketty Era began.

      Jocketty added little to the team and the players that formed the nucleus of the 2010-2013 clubs were drafted, signed or traded for by Krivsky and O'Brien. Jocketty's biggest contribution was the signing of amateur Cuban Aroldis Chapman and the trade for Scott Rolen (which sent Edwin Encarnacion's bat to the American League). The only significant trades he made during the Reds' run was shipping half the farm system for Mat Latos and giving up Didi Gregorius and change to acquire Shin-Soo Choo for one year (whence he played CF for the first and only time).

      Jocketty gets all the credit for those teams when the lion's share properly belongs to his predecessors.

      After 2013, it was obvious that a rebuild was needed. Not a fire sale, but managed dismantling of the club and replacing with a new, younger nucleus of players. Jocketty appealed to Castellini to resist this urge and the two reinforced each other's natural inclination to blame the team's declining performance on anything but declining skills and expiring contracts. It was always injuries this and injuries that, even when that clearly wasn't the case. During these years, the Pirates and Cubs had joined the Cardinals as the class of the division and the Brewers began rebuilding in earnest a year or so later.

      All the while, Cincinnati refused to read the handwriting on the wall. Jocketty's mantra was "reload, not rebuild" and he almost universally refused to take advantage of opportunities to trade veterans when their trade value was highest - Alfredo Simon, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Phillips. Worse, rather than seeking top talent in return, even if it was focused in fewer players who might be further away from the majors, Jocketty intentionally sought players closer to the majors and preferred quantity over quality. He inordinately focused on pitching, too, ignoring that the Reds' biggest problem was a lack of offense. It's one thing for a casual fan to not notice how GAB masks a mediocre offense because of the prevalence of home runs, but it's quite another thing for the front office to believe it.

      By mid-season 2014, the Reds should have been rebuilding in earnest. They tried to postpone it until after the 2015 season. Hosting the All-Star Game in 2015 was one excuse we heard, the kind of stupidly wasted opportunity that a GM should have been advising his owner the team can't afford to miss.

      Eugenio Suarez was the lone bright spot from the transactions that did occur and he was a throw-in on the (eventual) Simon trade with Detroit. The Reds' main target had been pitching prospect Jonathan Crawford. The Reds got lucky on that one.

      After 2015, Jocketty spent three seasons basically mentoring Dick Williams to replace him, taking on another "advisory" role, yet still - ultimately - in charge of baseball ops, even if ceding more day-to-day control.

      The team has slowly built an analytics department and began to join the "revolution", but they're one of the slower teams to do so and the results are obvious.

      Fast forward to last offseason after a couple years of the badly bungled rebuilding process yielding little to be excited about. The Reds made moves, some of them quite good, but they didn't do so with an eye towards the future - flipping Puig, Gray, etc. if they had nice rebound seasons. No, it was simply a case of "we're tired of not being relevant" and trying to make a show of "doing something". The idea that those moves plus the existing core would yield a team that might compete for a wild card spot was ridiculous on the face.

      That they doubled down on this at the trade deadline, picking up Trevor Bauer with an eye towards a late-season surge and/or a 2020 run, is further proof that the FO is out to lunch, as is yesterday's signing of Mike Moustakas for $16m/yr x 4 yrs. The Reds are like the little brother who wants to play with his big brother's friends, but isn't big enough and doesn't understand that.

      Their continued inability to accurately assess where they are in the success cycle of a team, and to plan and act accordingly, only serves to further delay a genuine rebuild and a meaningful run at contention.

      If it feels like more than the Reds have had in recent years, or more than the Bengals have given locals in some time, that may be the case, but all it adds up to is a crap sandwich on fancier bread. Some customers may say "that looks mighty tasty" because of the window dressing, but at the end of the day it's still a crap sandwich until you get someone who knows the difference between you-know-what and Shinola behind the deli counter.

      It's painful to watch.
      "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
      "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
      "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
      "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe


      • #4
        To be clear, if I was running the club, I would be looking for opportunities to trade Suarez and Gray this Winter Meeting. By trading Suarez, I'd be opening third for Nick Senzel (his natural position) or, down the road, for top prospect Jonathan India with Senzel playing second.

        We're stuck with Votto whose bat isn't as bad as it looked last year, but whose power is likely gone. Can't trade him for anything worthwhile and the jersey/ticket sales mean he's a Red for life (four years left).

        That leaves shortstop for the infield and I'd definitely be looking to upgrade, but I would have re-signed Jose Iglesias for another year. Given his relative success in Cincy, it's likely he'd have taken us up on it. Freddy Galvis is nobody's answer at SS and his bat won't compensate for it, either. I'd have bought out his option (big mistake there).

        Like Suarez, we could get a king's ransom from Gray also. In both cases, I would be maximizing the number of top 100 prospects I could acquire. Blue chippers only (and darkhorse guys we have our eyes on). I would have been sorely tempted to swap Aristedes Aquino for Luis Urias, trading from a strength (COF) to improve our MI defense. Urias has the high upside we want in a bat, too. Heck, if the Padres gave him up for Trent Grisham, they'd have taken Aquino instead.

        Winker is penciled in as the starter in LF while some combination of Schebler, Ervin and VanMeter will play in the other two outfield spots. I will NOT be pursuing Castellanos or Ozuna, both of whom are overrated and will be overpriced and neither of whom will get the Reds over-the-top.

        In trades, I am looking for opportunities to pick up top prospects. Maybe I can find a taker for the sideshow that is Michael Lorenzen who, in truth, is not that great of a relief pitcher? I'd love to find a sucker to take him on in exchange for someone of real value. Maybe in a package deal?

        Bauer and Iglesias would normally be traded, but I'm stuck taking them into 2020 and hoping their trade value increases in April and May, after which I would be quick to pull the trigger on flipping either. (DeSclafani, too, who will be a free agent after 2020.)

        I would be targeting free agents with good buy-low, sell-high potential. Guys like Aaron Sanchez, Taijuan Walker and Domingo Santana are perfect examples. I could take a flier on some of these and either get someone for a few years who will contribute to the team or who I could flip for more prospects down the road, depending on the likelihood of their long-term projection and our ability to retain them on cost-effective contracts.

        Meanwhile, I would be spending the tens of millions we'd otherwise spent on payroll shoring up institutional infrastructure - building scouting networks, overseas operations, modernizing our IT infrastructure, investing coaching, etc......anything to gain a competitive edge in scouting and player development. This would be repaid one hundredfold over the long term, making future success all the more likely.

        Knowing that the (stillborn) rebuild under Jocketty/Williams needed a reboot, I would be honest with fans, ask for their patience and work hard to produce results. I would not trade long-term promise for short-term eye candy just to be seen as "doing something". I would be doing what I could to get people to the ballpark anyway, marketing team history, working with baseball-related organizations and products to hold baseball-related promotions throughout the season.

        Perhaps we would give away a 1-year subscription to SABR to one random, lucky, fan every home game? Or one copy of the Strat-o-Matic Baseball tabletop game? Or even a copy of MLB The Show? What's that cost? In the scheme of things? Nothing.

        We would give free pairs of tickets to any child with a copy of their report card, who made the honor roll on certain days. (Not basing it on school attendance like the old Knothole program.) Perhaps we have a special "Meet a Red" day once a week or something.

        A scorecard with pencil would be included free with the price of a ticket, encouraging fans (particularly kids) to keep score while they watch. We would make video series, available on YouTube, explaining all sorts of things about baseball - from how to keep score, to explaining things like DFAs, the Rule 5 Draft and the balk rule.

        It doesn't take much effort (or money) for a MLB team to really amp up its customer service experience at all.

        The club should be doing stuff like this anyway, but all the more reason to give fans a (baseball related) reason to come out to the ballpark and to follow the team when the casual fan won't know too many of the players on a revolving roster for very long.

        Being honest and open with the fans is necessary if you're going to retain their goodwill during a "sorry the last rebuild didn't work, we need to start over" period.
        "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
        "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
        "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
        "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe


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