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View Full Version : No team is perfect in April



M2
03-28-2007, 01:12 PM
The start of the baseball season is always messy. You don't know who's going to switch it on when the games start to count and who's going to go turtle. There's going to be surprises both pleasant and unpleasant.

More importantly, there's going to be parts of every team that don't work. I'm not overly worried if Jeff Conine, for instance, delivers nothing. Teams spend the first two months of the season sorting themselves out a bit. Some guys in the high minors will step forward and teams make small deals to plug their holes. So I don't fret that parts of the club will go wrong. There's always problems to fix, just don't pile up known problems (e.g. Eric Milton).

In April what you're looking for is a few guys to lead the charge while the team sorts out the parts that don't work. Hal Morrises can come along to replace the Todd Benzingers. Change is going to happen. Just stay competitive and kick it into gear around Memorial Day. The latter part is where the Reds constantly run into trouble. The franchise tends to get the early season right, but it hasn't found a higher gear since 1999.

Right now the marching orders should be to put your best players in a position where they can succeed, eliminate known problems and be open to making the necessary changes.

It's almost impossible to start the season with an optimal lineup, a perfectly arranged bullpen or a bulletproof rotation. That applies to all 30 teams. What we're hoping for is for the team to get more right than wrong, to put itself in a position where some sensible adjustments lead to an honest-to-goodness quality ballclub.

flyer85
03-28-2007, 01:17 PM
It's why having depth is important. The Reds do seem to have options in the pitching area. However, I am concerned about a potential lack of options from an offensive standpoint.

shredda2000
03-28-2007, 01:19 PM
very well said, M2

Johnny Footstool
03-28-2007, 01:34 PM
That said, a quick review of the 1990 Reds tells us that a pennant can be won in the early goings. A 13-3 April set the tone for the team that season and helped them outlast a 30-30 record in August and September.

I'm a fan of putting the best team you can on the field in April, then watching carefully to determine where problems are so you can avoid a second-half collapse. The Reds seem to have early success down pat, but apparently fail to correctly identify the smoke-and-mirrors parts of the act, and that failure ends up biting them in July and August.

flyer85
03-28-2007, 01:47 PM
Reds have a small margin for error and don't have that talent that a team like the Twins had last year when they realized their manlove for old suckitude wasn't working out. A month of Milton and others may be enough to put this team far enough behind that they can't catch up.

Interestingly enough, last year the Twins manlove was for position players(Batista, Castro, White), this year it has transferred to pitchers(Ortiz, Ponson,Silva), when they have a bunch of young, pretty good options(Baker, Perkins, Garza, Slowey). I guess they didn't learn their lesson in 2006.

M2
03-28-2007, 02:33 PM
That said, a quick review of the 1990 Reds tells us that a pennant can be won in the early goings. A 13-3 April set the tone for the team that season and helped them outlast a 30-30 record in August and September.

I'm a fan of putting the best team you can on the field in April, then watching carefully to determine where problems are so you can avoid a second-half collapse. The Reds seem to have early success down pat, but apparently fail to correctly identify the smoke-and-mirrors parts of the act, and that failure ends up biting them in July and August.

That team got a lead in April, but had to fend off a serious challlenge from the Dodgers late in the season.

In fact, that team is a good example of what I'm talking about. Certainly the team laid a good foundation in April, but along the way it had to swap out Ric Mahler for Norm Charlton in the rotation. Glenn Braggs came on board to help the lineup vs. LHPs. Morris replaced Benzinger. Jack Armstrong went from ace to afterthought while Jose Rijo took a star turn and Danny Jackson got himself back on track. Last, but certainly not least, the team brought in Bill Doran to help keep the Dodgers at bay for the last month of the season.

Also, I maintain the NL in 1990 was a beast. Look at the talent that was on the last place clubs in both divisions. The Padres and Astros were never in the hunt that season and both those clubs were loaded. Every night that season you had a fight on your hands. It would have been real easy to squander that hot start with so many capable clubs lurking behind you. A team could blink and have a 1-6 week.

So the Reds 13-3 April put the club in position to win the division, but it hardly sealed the deal. Look no farther than the 2002-3 Mariners for how a hot start can amount to nothing. I'm not saying winning more isn't preferable to winning less, but "no team is perfect in April" and no matter how hot it starts, it's going to have to a lot of work after that if it wants to be on top of its division come October.

Chip R
03-28-2007, 02:39 PM
Look at most of the recent OAK clubs. They hardly ever start out too well but they catch fire as soon as Beane figures out the roster. I think this was covered in Moneyball.

Always Red
03-28-2007, 03:06 PM
great post; it's good to remember that the regular baseball seaon is a marathon rather than a sprint. The sprint, of course, comes in the post-season!

I'm less concerned about who starts off in AAA vs. starting out in Cincinnati, than I am who is being let go. Players can come and go on the AAA train- it makes for a rough year for them, frankly, but that's the nature of the game.

Sometimes it takes a couple of months before a team can be sure that a player can no longer help them, before they cut ties.

It's always best to put your very best team out on the field of course. But spring training games alone often aren't enough to judge who is worthy and who is not.

That said, I'd be darn sure to keep Hamilton and Burton on the roster, in Cincinnati all year. This team cannot afford to lose good young talent- it would cost far more to replace that talent than it costs the Reds to keep them up all year. That means some other guys are going to be on the Riverbats train, back and forth all year- most probably Coutlangus, Deno, Hopper, Livingston, maybe Belisle even.

I think Milty's going to get his shots in April to prove that ST was an aberration; but I also think they aren't going to be patient with him. If he doesn't produce, I think we'll see another Dave Williams situation. Unless, of course, a team is desparate enough to trade for him now. The team that needs him the most, the Nationals, have no desperation at all- they know they're going to be really bad this year, and Milty won't matter to them one way or another.

Cooper
03-28-2007, 03:35 PM
The reds played well early in the season (last 3-4 years), but that was always a function of luck. They have not done themselves any favors in carrying along the likes of a Dave Williams (last years Eric Milton), in fact, i feel like it's just the oppsite. Why do we have to go into every season with 3 or 4 pitchers that we know aren't the candidates. Because we play over our heads for 2 months it seems like we can wait to make good decisions.

A good case can be made that there were some awful decisions made early in the year that may have cost the team 3 or wins prior to the All-Star break. To not go ahead and fix the obvious problems seems silly. I will say this administration is quicker to pull the plug on some silly early season decisions.

Btw, it may have been 04 or 05 (they tend to run together don't they), i thought the pitching staff in louisville was better than the one in Cincy. I really thought you could have switched them and the Louisville staff would have done a better job. That's a lot of getting things wrong and waiting for things to work themselves out.

Always Red
03-28-2007, 03:55 PM
Why do we have to go into every season with 3 or 4 pitchers that we know aren't the candidates. Because we play over our heads for 2 months it seems like we can wait to make good decisions.



FWIW, I think nearly every team in baseball is in this boat. Teams with very good pitching still spend April and May figuring out who is #4 and #5.

Cooper
03-28-2007, 04:06 PM
The teams in question usually carry the old guys with the idea that they are gonna find their old magic (eye roll). Rheal and Milton ain't had the magic in 5 years. Why carry an old guy you know can't perform just because everyone else does it? You are giving away games.

Roy Tucker
03-28-2007, 04:15 PM
I understand that no team is perfect and it takes time, tuning, thought, and patience to get the club to its optimum configuration (or as close as possible).

But games count just as much in April as they do in September. So let's not dilly-dally about getting it together.

If there is a reasonable replacement in the minors, let's not waste time on letting sub-replacement level vets get it together (Mr. Milton, I mean you sir).

Cooper
03-28-2007, 04:26 PM
Signing Eddie Perez and releasing Conine would be a nice upgrade on a platoon at first....unless you kinda figure you ain't gonna be in the race anyway.

BRM
03-28-2007, 04:30 PM
Signing Eddie Perez and releasing Conine would be a nice upgrade on a platoon at first....unless you kinda figure you ain't gonna be in the race anyway.

Wasn't Eduardo Perez available when Wayne traded for Conine?

redsrule2500
03-28-2007, 04:32 PM
The Reds were close last year!

Johnny Footstool
03-28-2007, 04:41 PM
I understand that no team is perfect and it takes time, tuning, thought, and patience to get the club to its optimum configuration (or as close as possible).

But games count just as much in April as they do in September. So let's not dilly-dally about getting it together.

If there is a reasonable replacement in the minors, let's not waste time on letting sub-replacement level vets get it together (Mr. Milton, I mean you sir).

Exactly.

I'm all for shaking out the roster as the season progresses. Good teams need to cull the weak and bolster the lineup, rotation, bullpen, etc.

But why bother starting the season with guys you are 90% certain will be terrible? I guess it's okay if you're willing to gamble on that 10% chance they'll succeed and capture that old magic, or that they'll get off to a hot start.

Unfortunately, when that gamble pays off, teams tend to ride that bet way, way too long. Danny Graves piling up 30 Saves by the All-Star Break in 2004 convinced a lot of people that he could "get the job done." That worked out well, didn't it?

Make yourself a better team as the season goes on, but don't start the marathon by running backwards.

M2
03-28-2007, 04:55 PM
I understand that no team is perfect and it takes time, tuning, thought, and patience to get the club to its optimum configuration (or as close as possible).

But games count just as much in April as they do in September. So let's not dilly-dally about getting it together.

If there is a reasonable replacement in the minors, let's not waste time on letting sub-replacement level vets get it together (Mr. Milton, I mean you sir).

I completely agree with that. Like I said, part of what an organization should be doing right now is eliminating known problems. There's no reason to invite more trouble than necessary.

I'll toss hitting Alex Gonzalez in the 2-hole on that pile. That's not going to work, guaranteed. The more obvious mistakes a team avoids, the more it will allow luck and individual hot starts to win out in April.

Redsland
03-28-2007, 05:01 PM
A lot of people talk about baseball being a marathon. Often that's a way of saying it's no big deal if you stumble early.

Okay, but the Kenyans win a lot of marathons.

Where do you think they start them? Back here?
http://www.realbuzz.com/thelasallebankchicagomarathon/the_course/images/start.jpg

Or up here?
http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2005/Dec-05-Mon-2005/photos/news.jpg

BRM
03-28-2007, 05:15 PM
Make yourself a better team as the season goes on, but don't start the marathon by running backwards.

This line says it all for me. Don't put yourself in a bad situation right out of the gate.

Tom Servo
03-28-2007, 05:23 PM
With the options we have like Brad Salmon and probably Jon Coutlangus starting in the minors there is no reason for guys like Rheal Cormier and Dustin Hermanson to be kept around if they put up Chris Hammond and Rick White numbers. There's also no reason to trade Edwin and BP to the Nationals for some relievers. We need to be quick to pull the plug on the seniors tour.

Always Red
03-28-2007, 06:01 PM
With the options we have like Brad Salmon and probably Jon Coutlangus starting in the minors there is no reason for guys like Rheal Cormier and Dustin Hermanson to be kept around if they put up Chris Hammond and Rick White numbers. There's also no reason to trade Edwin and BP to the Nationals for some relievers. We need to be quick to pull the plug on the seniors tour.

I tend to agree. But, if they pitch better than Hammond and White, then this team has a lot of depth, more than in recent years.

If the Reds jetison the old guys and Milty, and the fresh young replacements (who looked so good in spring training) post Hammond-like numbers, then what happens? Because there is no one in line after them. And Coutlangus, Belisle, Salmon, Burton, and Livingston are all unproven. Yes, they looked good, all of them, in ST, but they are all still unproven.

I think Cormier's dealable; I'd trade him in a heartbeat since we already have so many lefties. I'd try Hermanson simply because there is no one else. Guardado was posting Hammond-like numbers with the M's last summer until he got here, and somehow with smoke and mirrors, pitched like there was no tomorrow (to be fair to Eddie, the man does know how to pitch, which is why he got guys out, he just can't throw it all that hard anymore).

Cooper
03-28-2007, 06:11 PM
I say we start the triple A team that way if things go south we got something to fall back on.

Johnny Footstool
03-28-2007, 06:34 PM
If the Reds jetison the old guys and Milty, and the fresh young replacements (who looked so good in spring training) post Hammond-like numbers, then what happens? Because there is no one in line after them. And Coutlangus, Belisle, Salmon, Burton, and Livingston are all unproven. Yes, they looked good, all of them, in ST, but they are all still unproven.

So the Reds must endure a level of Known Suckitude (Milton, Hermanson) to avoid discovering whether or not their young prospects can handle the bigs or not? I don't agree with that reasoning.

How will Salmon, Burton, et al. ever get a chance to be "proven" if they have to wait for someone to die before a roster spot clears?

I'll take an unproven guy with a high ceiling over a guy who has proven to be mediocre at best.

Always Red
03-28-2007, 07:01 PM
I'll take an unproven guy with a high ceiling over a guy who has proven to be mediocre at best.

Yes, but none of these guys are high-ceiling guys except for Homer. And we weren't even talking about him until I brought his name up. I wouldn't say Burton and Livingston are high-ceiling guys, either, they were left unprotected for a reason, and have never proven themselves. I agree that they look promising, if you you consider ST games of value.

I'm just playing Devil's advocate here; I don't know the answer as my crystal ball is out for repairs. I do know if you unload all the vets, and the rookies crump, then you are done for the year, quickly, because there is no one else. If you keep who you can, store depth at AAA, weed out the broken arms, has-beens and never-were's, and maybe patch together a mediocre pitching staff.

I think I've talked myself into realizing that this is not a very good staff once you get past Harang and Arroyo. :(

Cedric
03-28-2007, 08:19 PM
Yes, but none of these guys are high-ceiling guys except for Homer. And we weren't even talking about him until I brought his name up. I wouldn't say Burton and Livingston are high-ceiling guys, either, they were left unprotected for a reason, and have never proven themselves. I agree that they look promising, if you you consider ST games of value.

I'm just playing Devil's advocate here; I don't know the answer as my crystal ball is out for repairs. I do know if you unload all the vets, and the rookies crump, then you are done for the year, quickly, because there is no one else. If you keep who you can, store depth at AAA, weed out the broken arms, has-beens and never-were's, and maybe patch together a mediocre pitching staff.

I think I've talked myself into realizing that this is not a very good staff once you get past Harang and Arroyo. :(

And sadly I think that is what happened. Stanton and the likes haven't allowed for much flexibility at this point. Marty has been beating this drum for awhile now and he's right, IMO. Might surprise some people here :)

Cooper
03-28-2007, 08:43 PM
The Twins are currently in love with Sidney Ponson and Carlos Silva...and they got other options in triple A. I have no idea why they put themselves through this. I'm with Johnny F: put in the higher ceiling guys. Even if their ceilings are .50 runs lower than the so-called first option.

Roy Tucker
03-28-2007, 10:46 PM
I guess the rationale is hope to squeeze out some innings/at-bats from the maybe-maybe-not has-been vets because you never know when you might get some surprise production from them. If you get production, then the rookies get more experience down on the farm.

And if the vets fail, then up come the kids.