This past weekend the American Baseball Coaches Association held their annual gathering. Among the many presenters/session leaders was Cincinnati Reds Minor League Pitching Coordinator and Director of Pitching Initiatives Kyle Boddy. JJ Cooper of Baseball America was in attendance for the conference and wrote a whole article about some of what Boddy said during the talk that he gave, and how the organization is going to grade their coaches based on the progression of the pitchers they work with.

Before the article was published, though, there was a series of tweets. It was this one that stood out to me.

Before I dive in, be sure to go read the linked article above at Baseball America. There’s a lot in there worth seeing. But the above quote is quite important to things that I’ve seen in the past within the Cincinnati Reds organization. I’ve talked about it before, both on the digital pages of the internet and on podcasts – and it’s been a few years since I’ve seen/heard it – but there were periods of time where each pitching coach in the organization had entirely different plans for pitchers.

There’s a very specific pitcher that sticks out in my mind where this was a big deal. This was a handful of years ago, but a pitcher had been performing well at one stop. He was promoted to the next level, and before he even entered a game the pitching coach at the next level had him lower his arm slot. The results, were as you’d expect – not exactly good.

A scout who covers the Reds organization was in town at the same time I was shortly after the promotion, and he had seen the pitcher just a few weeks earlier at the previous stop. He was confused as to what was happening given how the pitcher had looked just a few weeks earlier. The arm slot was different and the pitcher had significantly lower velocity.

One of the things that Kyle Boddy said early on after being hired was that there were going to be individual plans for each pitcher in the organization. That’s something that sounds like a no-brainer. But it wasn’t that long ago where it seems that wasn’t the case within the organization, either.

As noted when the Reds hired Boddy to revamp their pitching development in the minor leagues – this too is likely going to take some time to see the results. Good, bad, or indifferent results, it’s going to take time. This may be a process where it takes a few years to really have enough information to see if it was a successful endeavor or not. In theory and on paper, it sounds like a good plan. It’s going to require a lot of time to find out if it actually makes any sort of measurable difference, though.

30 Responses

  1. CP

    There is, for the first time in a long time, an expectation that the Reds have a good system and coaches in place to develop their talent. This is crucial to them extending their competitive window. Man, if only the current administration could have taken over a few years earlier.

  2. enfueago

    Am I the only person who would find it objectionable to have every interaction with a player taped and transcribed? I would find it intolerable in my own job. This is a lot of pressure and potential for micromanaging.

    • victor vollhardt

      I agree with you I would find it very objectionable. People are very different and if the past is to be believed great coaches key to success was the way they were able to get their points across by taking a different approaches with each player. All that is going to happen here is that players (and coaches) will meet away from the field and out of the eye of big brother. If you can’t trust the employee to do the job the way you want it done without “spying” on him—you hired the wrong guy in the first place. In our modern society we have a steady stream of people who feel that they re-invented the wheel. If you read about successful people in business (even if they are moving high tech items that the world haven’t seen before) they still faithfully follow tried and true practices that have been around. One other thing –since when in any organization does one of the newest hires speak with authority that “this is the way we are going to make them do it”. Even if he is right on that is not the way to bring people together.

      • Andrew

        Qell, Belichek and Saban operate in this exact same manner. One might call them successful and one might argue they recruit plenty of talent….just saying. But who cares about winning. Lets protect the egos of well compensated coaches and be sure to not hurt their feelings.

    • Fish

      I think you’re misinterpreting how it will be used. I did read the part about “accountability,” but my interpretation is that it will be used more to give context and document interactions. It’s like an email chain in the corporate world. I’d use something like this in coaching interactions with people I manage just to keep a running tally.

      • DaveCT

        Agreed. Plus, the players are videotaped non stop, and increasingly all the way down to youth baseball. Seems if we can expect players to rise to the occasion, including kids, the coaches can also be expected to adjust, and I suspect they will. It’s their job. They have to. I’ve been taped in training sessions numerous times. Yes it’s unsettling at times but overall it’s an outstanding tool.

  3. Doc

    I did not interpret the statement as “ every interaction”. I would interpret “coach-athlete sessions” as the formal coaching sessions. That would not be unusual in today’s technological society in many areas of instruction; piano lessons, as one example. I don’t believe there will be a cameraman following every coach on the off chance he has ‘an interaction’ with a player.

  4. SultanofSwaff

    Great move to get these coaches on the same page. I mean, as with other industries so many of these clubs employ their former players, with familiarity and access rather than coaching talent being the first criteria in making these hires. Likewise, the minors are for coaches to develop their craft as well. So yeah, it makes all the sense in the world to try and develop the coaching skillsets…..on the job training.

  5. Jon Ryker

    So, if they don’t have everybody trying to throw 98, there is an opportunity for improvement here. They’ve never consistently developed pitching.

  6. MK

    Seems like a good plan. Wonder what kind of a push back there will be among those veteran coaches. I remember years ago when Larry Rothschild was the big league pitching coach. He went to the mound to talk to Bill Gullickson aim a tough situation. Bill told him to get out because he had no experience at all withwhat a big league pitcher should do in the situation.

    • Oldtimer

      Larry Shepard never pitched in MLB either. I seem to recall some pretty good results from 1970 to 1978 as Reds P coach. Bill Gullickson is (or was) a nobody.

      • MK

        A nobody who was 2nd pick in amateur draft, holds the rookie record for strikeout in a game (18), a twenty game winner which, none of Larry Shepard’s Reds were.

      • Oldtimer

        Larry Shepard coached Gary Nolan, Don Gullett, Ross Grimsley, Fred Norman, Pat Zachry, Wayne Simpson, and others. All are more accomplished P than Gullickson.

        And Tom Seaver in 1977 and 1978 too.

    • Steve

      From the broad changes the Reds are making organizationally, it would seem that if veteran coaches really push back against the new direction, then they probably will not remain employed with the team. This really needs to be an all hands on deck type of deal if it is going to work.

      • Oldtimer

        2020 will be an important This Way Or That Way year.

        25 years ago, the 1995 Reds were in NL playoffs. In the years since, only three Reds team have done so. The GM, Manager, and most of the players from 2010, 2012, and 2013 are long gone.

        Time for the 2020 team to put up or shut up. Lots of $ spent. The wins have to come next.

  7. Jonathan Linn

    Which minor leaguer are you talking about, Doug? Or would prefer him to remain anonymous

  8. Simon Cowell

    Sounds like a great plan that is actually based out of coming sense. Most of us assume a multi-million dollar business was already organized well enough that this was already happening.

  9. earmbrister

    When this topic was brought up on MLB Trade Rumors, it seemed that the Reds were at the forefront of this taping policy/procedure. I like the idea that the Reds have quickly moved from a traditional way of doing things to an analytics methodology. From a bottom 5 team in analytics to arguably a top 5 team. Seems to be the best way for a small market team to battle the big boys.

    • Oldtimer

      Analytics is part of it but not all of it. To wit:

      Puig career: .277/.348/.475, 122 OPS+.

      Ozuna career: .272/.329/.455, 112 OPS+

      Castellanos career: .277/.326/.471, 113 OPS+

      • victor vollhardt

        Need to give the OLDTIMER daily space on the website if for no other reason than than to record his thoughts on the subject(s) of the day. He always has good common sense comments and backs them up with the record book. Stengel always said “you could look it up”. In our rush ahead—-every now and then we need to look back. You can’t take human beings who handle a baseball and put them through some kind of a mixer/grinder (video tape and all) and come out with some kind of a cookie cutter dough that one size fits all. Nothing wrong with analytics , but there is much more to a successful player than that.

  10. My Beloved Reds

    Does anyone else find it crazy that there was not a consistent approach between the minor league levels? To me, that seems pathetic.

    • Tom

      Talking about it is one thing, which I’m sure they’ve tried. Actually implementing something measurable is a real effort. Perhaps that’s what we’re seeing.

  11. Brad

    We’ve been doing things the “old way” for quite whileand it hasn’t worked. While the moneyball era doesn’t comprise Castellini’s entire tenure, it certainly overlaps most of it. And, the Reds have had very few winning seasons during his ownership. An organizational overhaul is due. If videotaping training sessions is what it takes to improve, I’m all for it. I probably wouldn’t like it at my job, but if you pay me what these players make, you can record and critique how I tie my shoes.

  12. Rwhj

    Fantastic!
    Especially important during spring training or any camp with multiple coaches on site. A player trying something one coach says then tries another thing a different coach says. 1st coach comes back sees it and then labels the guy as uncoachable or doesn’t listen.
    No more he said she said crap. This will only benefit the players development.