The Cincinnati Reds are going to get the pitching. Those are the words used by Bob Castellini to C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic earlier this afternoon.

There’s quite a bit to unpack in that tweet, but let’s focus on the pitching side of it first. As I wrote late last night, and as I’m sure you already know, the Cincinnati Reds pitching in 2018 was terrible. They allowed 819 runs in the 2018 season. And while I believe there are many reasons it almost has to get better, even if they make no moves, in order to get to where they want to be, they almost have to go outside of the organization. It seems that the organization understands that, too, and plans to make it happen.

But, and maybe this is just me, but the first thing that jumped to my mind when I read the quote was “Oh no, this sounds like the Eric Milton situation”. Is that fair? No, I don’t think that it is. But the rumor of the time was that the team decided very late in the game that they needed a starter, and Milton was available, so they just made the signing because that’s what was there.

The Cincinnati Reds need better pitching than they’ve had in the recent past. Mostly they need it on the starting side of things. They, however, shouldn’t force a piece to fit simply because they need it. Bob Castellini didn’t say how much more payroll they would add, and that is very important, because if the Reds are going to play in free agency for their pitching needs, what they need is going to cost a lot of money.

The trade avenue would likely cost less money, particularly in 2019. But if the pitcher(s) acquired are good, their costs will continue to rise in arbitration (I’m guessing they aren’t going to go out and trade for high priced veterans who have already gotten a free agent contract).

It’s an interesting statement to make, though. It puts the pressure not only on Bob Castellini to actually open up the company wallet to back up his words, but on Dick Williams and Nick Krall to find the players and either talk them into playing in Cincinnati, or talk another team into trading them to Cincinnati. There are now expectations based on the words of the CEO of the team. Those words are ones that he will be held accountable to by the public, just like the ones he used when he bought the team and said the losing stops now (or something very similar to it). It’s a long offseason, but there’s a partially stated plan in place. The team must execute.

Let’s jump into some of the other stuff in the tweet from Trent. It’s been discussed before, but simply saying the team will have a record high payroll doesn’t do much. That record high would only have to eclipse $115 or $118M depending on which number that’s been reported is accurate as the previous high payroll.

That number would only place them 21st in Major League Baseball in terms of payroll. They were 25th in 2018. In order to even be at a league average payroll the Reds would have to bump things up to $140M. Is that possible? Yes, I believe it’s certainly possible. But is it probable? No, I don’t. I’d be quite surprised if the team spent more than $120-125M on payroll in 2019. I’d love to be wrong about that, though.

If the Reds payroll is going to be in that $120-125M range, that does leave room to make one big move, or two mid-tier level moves in terms of adding players. Could that net you, say Dallas Keuchel in free agency and leave enough for a trade acquisition? Possibly. But if the team got closer to that league average payroll, then things really start to change. At that point you’re looking at the possibility of multiple big or mid-tier additions to the team. And that’s the point in which things could begin to get real interesting for the Reds.

All of this, though, leaves me with a few more thoughts. First, Bob Castellini says “it won’t be a small number”. What’s a small number? To me, $125M IS a small number. To him, it may not be. The other part, and this is probably far more important: What if the team truly does their best to spend the money and it simply can’t? You can’t force players to sign with you. And if you also aren’t willing to overpay for them simply to make that happen – and you can argue the smart/dumb side of that if you want – then what? Castellini says they’ll get the pitching. But what if they have to drastically overpay in free agency to get it? Does that actually make sense? I could argue both sides of that one.

Some quick thoughts on the David Bell press conference

The Cincinnati Reds introduced David Bell to the media today at a press conference, presumably at Great American Ballpark. Yesterday I wrote that I wasn’t excited, nor disappointed in the hiring of David Bell because I felt that of the things that are needed to turn the team around, that the manager was pretty far down the list. But I also wrote that many of the things said in the press conference today probably wouldn’t do much for me, but I was still interested to hear what was said because it would give us some insight into things from Dick Williams, Bob Castellini, Nick Krall, and David Bell.

Nick Krall, the General Manager, barely said anything at the press conference. Dick Williams provided the introduction for Bell and probably said the most. Bob Castellini had a few things to say, but for the most part it was just stuff about the Bell family and the Cincinnati connection.

It’s that last part that just sits strange with me. David Bell began managing after he retired from his playing days. He spent four years managing in the minor leagues with the Reds in Carolina and Louisville. After that he took jobs in the Major Leagues, working as a third base coach, an assistant hitting coach, and a bench coach for multiple seasons. And then last season he worked in the San Francisco Giants front office as their Vice President, Director of Player Development. That’s a pretty strong resume with a lot of experience working in professional baseball.

However, all of those things on his resume seemed secondary at the press conference from the Cincinnati Reds. They came off as afterthoughts. Instead, the focus seemed to be on David Bell being the son of Buddy Bell and the grandson of Gus Bell. And his being from Cincinnati. It’s not to say that I believe that David Bell was hired for those reasons – I do not. I believe he was hired on his merits. But those merits weren’t exactly talked about and being used to sell his hiring and taking over to the fanbase. Instead it was that “he’s from Cincinnati. His family played for the Reds before you were born, probably”.

There weren’t many questions asked in the press conference. After that it appears that media members were able to sit with David Bell and ask more questions and get more information. As I type this up, those aren’t out yet. But one of the things that Bell did say was nice was when he addressed analytics. He discussed how there are advantages to be found in analytics.

Everything being aligned. Everything being consistent, all areas of the organization working together. To be able to spend time in the front office and learn another side of the game. That makes me excited in this job, to bridge that gap. To make sure that everything that’s being worked on in the front office is a part of what we do on the field, and all the way through player development and scouting. There’s a real edge to be had there.

One of the things that I’ve felt, going back to the previous managers, was that the front office and the field manager had different ideas, different plans. Heck, we’ve got concrete examples of it. Dusty Baker using Aroldis Chapman as a reliever when the front office kept saying they viewed him as a starter. More long the lines of speculation, but in a rebuild with both Bryan Price and later Jim Riggleman, young players sat the bench in favor of veteran back ups at times. It seemed that the short term “win today”, which was arguably in itself, was given priority over the long term view.

The quote from David Bell about the use of analytics in the dugout was great to see. But that quote, at least to me, reads more than just “he’s an analytics guy”. He seems to be on the same page as the front office. That seems like a very important, yet missing in the past, thing. We will see how that plays out in the long term, but if there’s one thing that I hope we can look back on about this press conference, it’s that.

DALTON AND GREEN IN 2018 T SHIRT

39 Responses

  1. Billy

    To me, the analytics comments jumped out at me more than the Cincinnati/family thing. I was pleased with what he had to say. The proof will be on the field.

    • Jack

      Not going to be worth it imo. He has had substantial injury problems the last 3 years. Velocity is way down, so many innings in that arm. Still a very good pitcher but not going to be worth what he will cost.

  2. MK

    I too was aware that they did not give Nick Krall much of a roll to play in the press conference. If an issue comes up do you think the Manager would go talk to him or go above his head to Williams after sitting through this.

    Doug the site must be doing well if $125M is a small number to you.

    I would really love to know what the front office input will be in coacg selection.

    • Doug Gray

      $125M is small to me for a Major League Baseball franchise.

    • Tom

      I remember Dick saying he was surprised by all the paperwork a GM had to do. I think soon after Nick Krall was named GM to take care of a lot of that. President carries a lot less grunt work and is more about selecting the process and people to execute a championship plan. President is the new GM, or what people have thought GM’s do.

  3. Doug Gray

    Also, it turns out that some quick thoughts on David Bell’s press conference weren’t all that quick. I mean, they came to me quickly, but it was long and drawn out. But I was on a roll and just kept typing. I’m not apologizing.

  4. AirborneJayJay

    “‘we’re going to get the pitching”.
    I’ll believe it when I see it from Lyin’ Bob.
    Make a big trade this winter for a big starting pitcher, a Noah Syndergaard type. Hunter Greene and Jonathon India to headline that trade package.
    Sign a free agent next winter when the free agent pool for starters will be a formidable group, better than this winter and last winter put together. To do so, Lyin’ Bob will have to forego his winter dream of re-signing Matt Harvey.
    A second trade this winter of Scooter and Schebler for a RF / cleanup hitter would really help the offense and defense.

    • Wes

      Will Myers is suppose to be available from SD. Love him in Right batting clean up

      • Johnny Weez

        Wil Myers 2018: 343 PA, .328 wOBA / 107 wrc+ .253/.318/.446

        Scott Schebler 2018: 430 PA, .337 wOBA / 109 wrc+ .255/.337/.439

        Myers is a bit better in the field, maybe, but Schebler is cheaper and already in house.

    • Rls321321

      Not w/o trading the worst contract in mlb which is Votto’s.
      I would pay half his $ to get rid of the human walk machine.
      The best bat control in MLB and JV is living in his ultra saber-metric world where he wont swing at a pitch 1 inch off the plate w/ a runer in scoring position. With attendance down and JV being a popular
      Fan fav nothing will happen, but the FO is already looking at a Votto
      Exit plan. I guarantee it.

      • Doug Gray

        Joey Votto’s contract is nowhere near the worst in baseball. It’s not even the worst one on the Cincinnati Reds.

  5. Colt Holt

    If they are adding dollars for pitching, this offseason, Grienke should be the first call. (Well, to the dbacks to acquire him anyways)

  6. Wes

    If reds sign Keuchel you have to overcome the second place bidder by a substantial margin and then overcome the no income tax thing in tx. So if Houston is second and offering 15/18 million for 5/6 years- reds would have to sign him to a homer Bailey type contract and I’d hate to see reds make that mistake again. Own that you are not the Yankees and quit trying to compete w them.

    Reds need to sign 3 pitchers and give them incentives to make yuge money based on performance. Then hope 2 of 3 pan out.

    Show Happ/gio Gonzales how to make 15 mil w incentives. Harvey/Eovaldi/hellcikson/Lynn/ryu/sabathia/ how to either get cut or make 10 million. And/or Richards/bucholts/Holland how to make 8. Sign 3 and let the best 5 pitchers start. Send next 5 to Louisville or cut em.

    Play money ball like wise small franchises or bloat your payroll with underperforming vets

    • Tom

      The first rule of throwing money at FA pitching is durability and health. You might get 1 or 1.5 years out of a FA with injury history, but that’s about all I’d count on. No former TJ surgeries, no shoulder issues, no forearm strains, no career year in innings in 2018, etc. It’s completely not worth it. In any given year there might be 3 pitchers at most that are worth it on face value. Maybe zero. Very few turn out to earn their money. It all has to do with injury history and durability, IMO. I’d rather have Keuchel than Kershaw the next 5 years, to be honest. Kershaw could be out of baseball in 3 years with his back.

      • Wes

        Signing either of those guys means you are trying to compete the same way cubs/Yankees compete. Reds loose everytime. Part of reason they are so terrible today is bc homer bailey is 1/5 their whole budget. How can you possibly justify going down that road again while you are still paying for last mistake?? 1 year contracts and hope to catch lightning.

        Also kershaw will never be a red- no chance. Maybe a 10 percent chance Keuchel would ever come to cincy.

      • Doug Gray

        1-year contracts and hope to catch lightning in a bottle is a recipe for being terrible forever.

    • Doug Gray

      I’d venture to say that there’s next to no way that Kuechel is sniffing a 5-6 year deal. He may get 4.

      At some point you’ve got to stop trying to sign lesser players and hope they outperform, and you’ve got to go just get good players.

      • Stock

        Agree Doug. Scott Feldman had a great year for the Reds. But a great year for Scott Feldman is not a great year. Go big or go home. Keuchel/Morton or both.

      • Wes

        Then there’s no way he’s a red. He will stay in Houston for 4/100 vs come to cincy for 4/110 or so. Reds will have to give atleast 1 extra year to get him to come. No state income tax on a competitive team. Reds can for sure trade to acquire controllable talent but it’s not coming in Keuchel- don’t get your hopes up.

        And Doug A’s and Brewers both made playoffs with piecing together a rotation. Bring on 3 guys to mix in w current crop and let best 5 go on short leash. Reds can compete w A’s and Brewers never the Yankees/cubs

      • Doug Gray

        There’s ZERO chance he gets that much money per year. None. Zilch.

    • Ghettotrout1

      I agree with Wes I think this is the best least risky and best use of resources

  7. Stock

    Trades: Syndergaard and Greinke would be good but Greinke doesn’t even throw 90 anymore. I would try to avoid Greinke. Met’s pitchers seem very expensive. Maybe pursue Wheeler. Houston has James and McHugh who may be available. I doubt Snell is available but if he is Senzel and Trammell is a good start. Atlanta has a boatload of SP between the majors and ready prospects. Gohara is probably really cheap right now and is ML ready.

    On the FA market I would absolutely do everything possible to land Keuchel. I also love Morton.

    Castillo and DeSclafani are quality SP. Cody Reed, Lorenzen and Robert Stephenson should be given every chance to win a spot. Let Homer use ST to see if he has anything left. If not cut him. Don’t resign Harvey. Romano to the bullpen (maybe Sam LeCure +)

    I would love a rotation of:

    Castillo
    DeSclafani
    Keuchel
    Wheeler
    one of Reed, Lorenzen, Stephenson

    • Rls321321

      We arent getting Syndergaard or Greinke. We are looking for a good vet and young controllable pitching. Much of it is already here and needs to be developed. Castillo & Mahle are both MLB starters.

  8. Steve in Texas

    I live in the Houston market and I hope they do not sign Keuchel. After every bad start this year he would blame everyone but himself. He would blame the umpires, he would blame that the roof was open. He even blamed the infielders saying if they would have caught the ball he would have won the game. If he thought that to be true, he should have not said it to a reporter. It looked like his velocity was down this year and he did not have any movement at all. If the Reds are going to spend, spend wisely. Please don’t throw away money to show they are spending money. If they can not sign good pitchers for 2019 than try for 2020 or try and make trades.

  9. KyWilson1

    People keep shooting for the moon with pitching talking about Kuechal, but almost every large market team will be in on the big free agents. Patrick Corbin is the best pitcher that will hit the market.

    I think the Reds need to look at a guy like Sony Gray coming off a bad season but a track record of Success. Zack Wheeler, Marcus Stroman, or Danny Duffy should have the tires kicked as well.

    • Norwood Nate

      I agree. I’ve said for a while the top of the FA market will be hard to compete in and comes with a lot of risk vs the value those pitchers likely provide for the cost.

      I’ve touted Stroman for a while. If I recall, his FIP was under 4.00 even in a down season, while also keeping the BBs and HR numbers low. A good bounce back candidate that shouldn’t cost a top 3 prospect from the Reds.

      That said, if the Reds do go the FA route I’m still intrigued by Kikuchi and think he could be had for a little cheat than the other top options.

    • B-town Fan

      I agree Kuechal isn’t going to happen. The Reds need to shoot for Hyun-Jin Ryu or Nathan Eovaldi or a Trevor Cahill level free agent starting pitcher, or even sign two of those.

  10. Simon Cowell

    If the Reds spend money like the top 20% of the league I won’t be upset if they lose. I”ll feel like they rolled the dice and tried to be competitive. If they sit back and save save save I will no longer support the franchise. Just like Ken Griffey jr. …. sure Griffey gave the Reds the home team discount but the Reds still gambled with his contract and tried. It didn’t work out but goodness at least they played the game.
    Let’s do it again. 2 all-star caliber pitchers. Let’s resign Gennett play Senzel in CF and trade away some of our minor leaguers for 27 to 32-year-olds proven mlb talent.

  11. Datdudejs

    Personally I would sign Corbin, and swing a trade for a guy like Stroman and another for a possible bounce back guy like Sonny Gray

  12. Hod Eller

    Would love to see a feasibility study done on sealing The Gap. Also, what are the rules/logistics of running an eight-foot-high mesh screen from the right foul poll to center field? Maybe one made of a denser fiber than the ones they installed for the infield, so the ball would carom in a truer way. A big part of the problem with the pitching, as we all know, is that the park is too small. A small market team will never win there. So many guys do well in Louisville and suddenly lose their control when brought up, trying to nibble the edges to avoid home runs. Our current pitching isn’t good on the road either, I know, but we stand a far better chance of improving it by letting them pitch in a legit park than by continuing to be mystified by weak pitching in a bandbox. How long did the Reds endure that at Crosley Field? And we’re doing the same silly thing all over again. If the fences can’t be moved back, and I’ve read that there’s some drainage issue that prevents it, alternatives must be sought. Need to improve the infield defense too. Those are two much more realistic moves that could pay immediate dividends than chasing high-priced FA pitchers who, for very good reasons, won’t want to pitch here.

    watch the language my man

    • Tom B.

      I’ve been saying the same thing for years. The short fences at GABP have to have an impact on pitchers, especially the young guys. I think it makes pitchers try to be too fine with their pitches and nibble more instead of just cutting loose. Which certainly causes more walks. Maybe that contributes to all of the arm problems Reds pitchers seem to get. Who knows?

  13. Mac

    Right now it’s just words….actions are a whole nother thing! My guess is they attempt to low ball people with one year deals and when that does not work they’ll sign retreads like always and just tell fans hey we tried. I highly doubt there will be changes this off season and the only payroll change will be arbitration deals.

    • Tom

      Because this is essentially all they’ve ever done, I am interested in how they approach getting a FA here.

      It’s my opinion they’ve never tried in earnest to get a top FA arm because of price.

      I believe they can get a pitcher to sign here despite the ballpark.

      We have seen Williams pursue the impossible before with Otani last year. He will do it again and succeed one way or another this time.

      IMO, it’s largely a myth that pitchers won’t sign here b/c of the ballpark.

  14. Kong

    Bell was bored because he is a Bell and we all know that. The press conference proved what we already knew. The only pitching the Reds will bring in are guys coming off multiple arm surgeries just like they have done for years. Different year same BS.

  15. RedWard

    I’m hoping the selection team sold BC on the “hometown” aspect while they are more intrigued by everything else, and the organizational connection is just a bonus and makes BC happy.

    Doug, you’re not asking for questions, but with the speculation on trades, any guesses on potential farm system MLB-ready prospects with the Giants or other clubs Bell has been associated with?

    With his acceptance of analytics, he may have insight on a few potential targets that would help.

  16. GM/Manager Nep O'Tism

    “I was convinced that Bryan was our guy just because of the past association we’ve had with him,” Jocketty said. (Oct 22nd, 2013)

    Almost exactly 5 years to the day later, a guy who was a former player of Jocketty, who Jocketty hired as a minor league manager, whose father Jocketty hired for the FO, gets selected as the new manager for the Reds.

    Same as it ever was.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    As for the analytics bit, I will believe it when I see it.

    “Price looks at evidence. He’s a freaking smart guy, he makes his decision on reasonable evidence. Sometimes in baseball we go by hunches, what someone else said or they way things have gone in the past. He doesn’t do that.” – Bronson Arroyo, 2013

    I remember us all getting excited about that quote, and then Price proceeded to leadoff Hamilton for years while also liberally calling for sac bunts.

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