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TeamBoone
03-05-2006, 10:30 PM
03/05/2006 6:00 PM ET
Reds to relax rules in farm system
Club gives flexibility to pitch limits and batting restrictions
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com


SARASOTA, Fla. -- Whether they're watching potential future Reds at games in Sarasota, Dayton or Billings, fans who come out should notice the same thing this year ... which actually will be something different.
Pitchers will have the ability to work longer. Hitters can go into the batter's box swinging away.

The edict, under the previous front office regime of general manager Dan O'Brien, was that all starting pitchers below Double-A were held to strict pitch counts of 75. The lower Minor League teams had to employ an eight-man tandem rotation and have two starting pitchers ready to work every fourth day.

All hitters were instructed to take the first strike before they could swing in order for them to develop patience at the plate. Opposing pitchers knowing the Reds' organizational hitting rules going in were often able to get ahead with 0-1 counts.

Those blanket policies are now out of Cincinnati's farm system.

"Everybody is different," said Johnny Almaraz, a longtime member of the organization who was promoted to Reds player development director last month. "Everybody deserves to be given an individual plan that's best suited for them."

Other organizations, namely the Rangers, have employed similar rules for its pitchers. Proponents feel it could cut down on the number of arm injuries and get younger players used to throwing more often. Detractors believe pitchers didn't learn how to win or bear down when they got into late-inning jams. Even if a starter had a no-hitter or shutout going through five innings or seven, he was out of the game once he reached his limit.

The new Reds plan doesn't eliminate the notion of pitch counts for younger pitchers. It's just a little more flexible than in the past.

"I'm structuring a program that's going to be individualized based on 'X' pitcher," Almaraz said. "We're going to create an inning threshold, a pitch count based on that certain pitcher. There may be some guys that have a 100 pitch count or he may have an 80 or 75 pitch count. It all depends on the person's strength, arm action and mechanics. All of that will play a role in our decision making."

On the move: Right-hander Mike Burns, who was claimed off the waiver wire from the Astros organization last fall, has thrown three shutout innings over his first two games this spring.

Names in the game: Former Reds left-hander Tom Browning has been a guest instructor in camp this spring. Browning mainly is helping fellow southpaws and offering advice.

They're No. 1: Right-handed reliever Ryan Wagner, the 14th overall selection by Cincinnati in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, is trying to earn a spot in the Reds bullpen again after he missed most of the second half of last season with right shoulder inflammation. Through two innings of work in two games this spring, Wagner has allowed three earned runs, two hits and three walks.

Class of '05: Left-hander Travis Wood, the organization's second-round draft pick, was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his first year of professional baseball at the Gulf Coast League Reds and Pioneer League Billings rookie levels.

What they're saying: "Those are three prospects we believe will help us at the Major League level some day." -- Almaraz, on young pitchers Homer Bailey, Phil Dumatrait and Travis Chick

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060305&content_id=1335536&vkey=spt2006news&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

StillFunkyB
03-05-2006, 10:37 PM
:clap:

Reds Nd2
03-06-2006, 12:58 AM
Whether they're watching potential future Reds at games in Sarasota, Dayton or Billings, fans who come out should notice the same thing this year ... which actually will be something different.
Pitchers will have the ability to work longer. Hitters can go into the batter's box swinging away.

This is just my opinion but the low minor leagues is the place to develope younger players. I hope the fans in Sarasota who get to watch both, the low A team and the GCL rookies, the fans in Dayton, Billings, and Venezuela who also have the privelage of watching rookies in the Reds farm system understand this. At that level, W/L records don't matter as much as preparing players to advance in the system and hopefully one day produce for the Reds. I really don't care if any team from high A ball on down ever win a single game, as long as they are developing the necesary talent for the Reds to be consistant winners in their division.


The edict, under the previous front office regime of general manager Dan O'Brien, was that all starting pitchers below Double-A were held to strict pitch counts of 75. The lower Minor League teams had to employ an eight-man tandem rotation and have two starting pitchers ready to work every fourth day.

I maybe the only person around who actually liked these edicts form Dano.


Other organizations, namely the Rangers, have employed similar rules for its pitchers. Proponents feel it could cut down on the number of arm injuries and get younger players used to throwing more often.

I don't think the Rangers use this anymore, but given the number of injuries to Reds pitchers in the minor leagues, I'm more than willing to try anything different at this point. I'm also intrigued by starting pitchers taking the mound every 4th day.


Even if a starter had a no-hitter or shutout going through five innings or seven, he was out of the game once he reached his limit.

:laugh:
If the Reds have anyone at Billings, Dayton, Sarasota, or Venezuela who can toss a five inning, much less a seven inning, shut out or no-hitter with a strict 75 count pitch limit, said pitcher doesn't need to be in A ball to begin with. They need to be in Chattanooga where the pitch counts don't apply.

jmcclain19
03-06-2006, 03:52 AM
In and of themselves, the rationale behind the policies were good.

Do - protect and coddle the pitchers
Do - encourage plate discipline

It was the execution that was flawed - especially in regard to the blanket wide policies. I hope in the current regime's rush to set fire to all things Dan O'Brien it's not forgotten that the underlying message behind some of his policies were in the right direction.

TeamBoone
03-06-2006, 11:25 AM
They did say that the "relaxation" would not be across the board... that an individual plan would be plotted for each individual pitcher.

RED59
03-06-2006, 11:33 AM
It is easy to say that low A ball primary purpose is to develop players. The reality is that very few of these players will make it to the majors. A system which constains players actually can cause them not to develop.

As a frequent attendee at Dayton games, I was tired of watching a young pitcher pitch 4 or 5 good innings and then be replaced by a player who immediately lost the game by giving up 4 or 5 runs in his first inning. Other minor league teams did not operate under these constraints. Let's not do anything to cause a player to not develop, but where does our minor league system rate with the teams that did not force artificial constaints?

Every player is different. Let them play their game. Just remember players such as Yogi Berra. When the Yankees tried to get Yogi to be more selective at the plate, his comment was that he could not hit and think at the same time.

RFS62
03-06-2006, 11:37 AM
I've always thought that MLB's approach to the low minors was very backwards.

The lowest paid coaches, the worst facilities, and the least individual instruction for our most expensive commodities in the minors.

Seems to me like we'd be putting top notch instructors with the younger players and draft picks to try to develop them instead of tossing them in the deep end to see who can swim out.

TeamBoone
03-06-2006, 11:50 AM
Seems to me like we'd be putting top notch instructors with the younger players and draft picks to try to develop them instead of tossing them in the deep end to see who can swim out.

Really good point; one I'd never have thought of on my own. Thanks!

Heath
03-06-2006, 12:19 PM
There are people in this town that pay money to watch young ballplayers play and win.

When Dayton first started, they made the playoffs.

When DanO went "freaky control", the Dragons have lost 90+.

Fans will quit coming to see losers. In Dayton, its time for winners.

If developed correctly with a winning attitude, the players will be ready come major league time. It doesn't matter if they throw 75 or 150 pitches or if hitters are 1-0 or 0-1 or swing away.

RedsManRick
03-06-2006, 12:45 PM
Good philosophies, horrible execution. You want to make sure your pitchers are not being overworked and are aiming for pitch efficiency, but applying a one size fits all pitch count is a poor way to go about it. If we had a legitimate knuckleballer in the organization, would we limit him to 75 pitches? How can we expect a guy to move up to the 100 pitch level if he never has the opportunity to do so? In some cases we may actually be stunting the development of somebody.

The 'take the first strike' philosophy is one which puts your guys behind in the count way more often than it should. The idea behind it is that not every strike is a pitch you want to hit. But if "your pitch", the one you are particularly skilled at driving, happens to be the first one of the at bat, there is no harm in doing so. I would reference O'Brien to the tables which show overall batting & on base percentages based on count to show him the damage he's doing by forcing discipline in this way. Ted Williams (and Bonds) have the right philosophy. It's not about taking or swinging at a certain amount of pitches. It's about knowing what you can and cannot hit, and only swinging when it's something you really want to hit. The converse of that point being the Adam Dunn problem of being TOO fine, letting very hittable pitches go by, and finding yourself in a position where you have to swing defensively.

princeton
03-07-2006, 04:46 PM
I've always thought that MLB's approach to the low minors was very backwards.

The lowest paid coaches, the worst facilities, and the least individual instruction for our most expensive commodities in the minors.

Seems to me like we'd be putting top notch instructors with the younger players and draft picks to try to develop them instead of tossing them in the deep end to see who can swim out.

by extension, Chris Chambliss should be working with my 8 year-old, and I'll go work with the big club