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OnBaseMachine
05-05-2009, 12:46 PM
All offseason long we heard about how the Reds were going to employ a small ball approach. Plenty of bunts, stolen bases, and creating havoc on the bases. So far, I've yet to see any of it. The Reds brought the personel in for small ball with Taveras, McDonald, and Hairston, but none of them have impressed me with their small ball abilities.

Willy Taveras was touted as a great bunter who would create havoc on the bases. His 2009 season has been the exact opposite of that. He's a horrible bunter from what I've seen, and he never steals. As Cyclone pointed out in another thread, Taveras was in an ideal steal situation last night in the 8th inning, yet he never even attempted to steal. Back in spring training he said he was going to steal 100 bases this season. He'll be lucky to get 30 at the pace he's going.

Darnell McDonald. Another guy who's supposed to be a small ball type of player. Last night he was brought on to sac bunt in the 12th inning. He made two horrible bunt attempts and fouled them both off, then grounded into a doubleplay. He's also been very shaky defensively. He brings nothing of value to the club, yet he's still here.

I'm been very, very unimpressed with this team's bunting ability, save for Johnny Cueto and some of the pitchers. As for creating havoc on the bases, the Reds have only 12 stolen bases, which ranks 23rd in all of baseball. They've been caught six times. If you're going to go to a small ball approach, you better hope you have the players to do it. It doesn't appear the Reds do.

This offense is a major liability. It's time to scrap the small ball approach and go get some actual hitters.

RedsManRick
05-05-2009, 12:49 PM
I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it here, the Reds have not failed to score runs because of philosophy; they've failed because of a lack of execution of the philosophy they've chosen.

TRF
05-05-2009, 01:43 PM
I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it here, the Reds have not failed to score runs because of philosophy; they've failed because of a lack of execution of the philosophy they've chosen.

I disagree. the philosophy is flawed because after choosing said philosophy, they never got the players needed to execute it.

That makes it a failed philosophy. OTOH, 2003-2005 teams didn't fail because it was an offensive juggernaut, they failed because of pitching.

If you are going to be a run an gun offense, RUN!!!

The errors to date, I can mostly deal with. but why Taveras and Phillips aren't running wild is beyond me.

RedsManRick
05-05-2009, 02:18 PM
I disagree. the philosophy is flawed because after choosing said philosophy, they never got the players needed to execute it.

That makes it a failed philosophy. OTOH, 2003-2005 teams didn't fail because it was an offensive juggernaut, they failed because of pitching.

If you are going to be a run an gun offense, RUN!!!

The errors to date, I can mostly deal with. but why Taveras and Phillips aren't running wild is beyond me.

That's not a problem with the philosophy, that's management failing to execute it.

TRF
05-05-2009, 02:32 PM
That's not a problem with the philosophy, that's management failing to execute it.

semantics. Having the philosophy is flawed if you are unable to execute it. In the micro and the macro.

WVRedsFan
05-05-2009, 03:09 PM
I agree with both OBM and RedsManRick. The Reds are not executing and they can't. You can name Traveras and McDonald, but who else plays small on this team (or has for that matter). McDonald is a career minor leaguer, of little value to anyone, and is not deserving of a spot on a MLB roster (sad to say but true). Traveras simply has no punch and his only value is to get to second base after a walk or a hit. He's not doing it for some reason. I am at a loss for why.

Hairston continues to look like the JHJ we saw play for other teams. The 80+ games he played last year must be looked at as an accident. Why no one else saw this is amazing, but I mention that only because he was part of the foundation of Dusty's small ball theory. Not going to happen. The rest--Votto, Phillips, Encarnacion, Gonzalez, and Bruce fancy themselves as power hitters. You can understand Votto and Bruce and maybe Ecarnacion, but the rest are only pretenders (Brandon may prove me wrong, however). Not too many small ball teams have these kind of players, and the result is a putrid production of runs.

I contend that this team is not capable of successfully playing small ball. the chemistry just isn't right.

RedsManRick
05-05-2009, 07:47 PM
semantics. Having the philosophy is flawed if you are unable to execute it. In the micro and the macro.

It's not semantics at all. It's a fundamental difference. If you aren't capable of executing a philosophy, changing the philosophy isn't likely to help. You'll just fail in a different way. A failure of philosophy is one that cannot succeed regardless of how well it is executed.

GAC
05-05-2009, 08:15 PM
When you "gear" your team to play "small ball", there is also very little room for error.

HokieRed
05-05-2009, 08:27 PM
Frankly I've always thought teams start talking about playing "small ball" when they don't have any offense and know it.

SMcGavin
05-05-2009, 09:00 PM
Frankly I've always thought teams start talking about playing "small ball" when they don't have any offense and know it.

Me too.

TheNext44
05-05-2009, 09:11 PM
George Grande quoted Al Lopez on the definition of small ball tonight, and I thought it was interesting, since I had never heard it defined this way.

Basically he said that Lopez defined small ball as keeping the other team from putting the ball into play when you are on defense then making the plays when they do, and putting the ball into play as often as possible, while using speed to put the most amount of pressure on the other team as possible when you are on offense. The logic being that catching and throwing the ball is most difficult part of the game, so you want to do it the least and make the other team do it the most.

Just thought that was in interesting take.

M2
05-05-2009, 09:12 PM
Frankly I've always thought teams start talking about playing "small ball" when they don't have any offense and know it.

Awesome point. I wish we could still give rep.

mth123
05-06-2009, 04:37 AM
Frankly I've always thought teams start talking about playing "small ball" when they don't have any offense and know it.

Yep.

Too expand, not enough players who adequately do primary offensive jobs well (getting on base and "slugging") so they turn to secondary alternatives (Bunts, Stolen Bases, Productive Outs, etc) for creating runs. Having some guys with small ball abilities to fall back on when the primary abilities are slumping is a pretty good idea (Brandon Phillips who has decent slugging ability, might be a good example of this on the current team) but actually choosing players who are lacking in primary skills simply because they have small ball skills like a losing trade-off IMO. Its why many are upset with the off-season direction of this team.

Small ball skills are great, but successful small ball players are guys who have the primary skills. I can't speak for others, but my impresssion is that when most people think of small ball its images of Rickey Henderson running wild or the 80s Cardinals winning all the time or even Joe Morgan electrifying Riverfront in the 70s. Those small ball tactics are exciting and effective, but they are fueled by primary skills that laid the foundation for success. The 80s Cardinals got on base alot. The real successful small ball players throughout history (Henderson, Morgan, Lou Brock, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, etc) were guys who had those other skills too. Small ball skills by themselves will fail IMO. Choosing players with those skills who lack the primary skills is a plan doomed to fail.

You wanna be a good small ball team? IMO the way to do it is to get on base a lot and get hits of all types frequently enough to provide a decent slugging percentage.

TRF
05-06-2009, 10:01 AM
It's not semantics at all. It's a fundamental difference. If you aren't capable of executing a philosophy, changing the philosophy isn't likely to help. You'll just fail in a different way. A failure of philosophy is one that cannot succeed regardless of how well it is executed.

completely disagree.

realizing a philosophy is flawed based on the makeup of personel, then changing philosophy is not only a good idea, it can actually work.

For the Reds to succeed offensively they have two choices:


Continue with the speed defense/small ball philosophy, but get players better suited to it.
change philosophy and get players suited to the new philosophy.

It's a failure BECAUSE they failed to recognize they didn't have the players to execute it. Perhaps failure is the wrong term. flawed might be better.

traderumor
05-06-2009, 10:20 AM
The thing that seems to get overlooked is that we aren't talking about turning a tug boat here, but an ocean liner. Expecting to turn a plodding, station to station, 3 run homer or bust team into "pitching, speed and defense" franchise isn't likely to occur in an offseason. I have understood all along that it is speaking to a direction, not a current events report, and I am hearing the same mantras coming from the MEDIA moreso than from the front office, i.e. every time the team starts booting and throwing the ball around, hearing Thom Brenneman talk about how "with all the talk...(originating from him, of course) of defense improvements, I'm not seeing much of it," as if errors are the only measure of defensive improvements. Who can't rejoice in fly balls that used to plop in front of the statues in LF and RF being easily caught?

Falls City Beer
05-06-2009, 10:29 AM
This ballclub is clearly not a three run blast team. But they're scoring at the same rate as last year's club. Call it small ball, call it "doubles ball with better speed on the paths". Who cares what it's called? It's doing the same thing as last year's club and will likely be a middle of pack club in the NL before long. I'd like to add more SLG to the lineup. I think they will.

westofyou
05-06-2009, 10:33 AM
I'd like to add more SLG to the lineup. I think they will.

Exactly, a batting average boost by the main players will add to this equation too. Less HR's and BA than last year at this time, what we do have is more going first to third, hit and runs, potential steals on the bases. It's a different arsenal than the HR. If the team was ship the shift has been to try and have more flexible weapons to defend all the flanks than a set of big guns that only shoot at a small fixed area.

SunDeck
05-06-2009, 10:52 AM
To a certain extent, I think maybe "small ball" = "scrappy". It's another form of code, like "doing things right" and "baseball man", all of which are probably supposed to mean that players or teams execute consistently and makes few tactical and mental errors and that they create runs by doing a lot with only a little offense. Obviously, with a bounty of hitters, the runs are going to come and the negative impact of mistakes and poor execution is therefore somewhat diminished.

The ideal team is one that pitches well, gets on base, runs the bases well, and plays smart, tactically intelligent, low error baseball. Few teams ever have the ideal balance, but sometimes the overabundance of one aspect makes up for the lack of others, resulting it real success (see Big Red Machine, Dodgers circa 1960's, Earl Weaver's Orioles), and hence managers make up maxims and philoshophies to give themselves credit for having crafted a winner.

Scrap Irony
05-06-2009, 10:54 AM
This ballclub is clearly not a three run blast team. But they're scoring at the same rate as last year's club. Call it small ball, call it "doubles ball with better speed on the paths". Who cares what it's called? It's doing the same thing as last year's club and will likely be a middle of pack club in the NL before long. I'd like to add more SLG to the lineup. I think they will.

It's a pretty good bet that Votto will slump, as his BABIP is astronomical.

But it's also a pretty good bet Phillips, Encarnacion, Bruce, Gonzalez, and Hairston will rebound at least slightly, with Phillips and EdE rightfully expecting huge bumps.

That Cincinnati has been able to win with one good offensive player and two decent ones speaks volumes to the pitching, the defense, and, yes, IMO, the manager.

HokieRed
05-06-2009, 11:21 AM
Personally I don't think there was any intention at all to construct a "small ball" team nor will there be. The way to create a winning offense is a whole lot simpler: find guys who can get on base and can hit, preferably ones who make a lot of contact and don't have high numbers of K's. I think the strategy WJ has pursued and will continue to pursue is to bring in the best possible offensive players who can also play their positions at least adequately. Now people might think that's not the decision he made regarding Willy Taveras. I, like lots of others here, think CD would have been the better alternative in CF, but the way I read WJ's decision is that he just wasn't quite willing to take the risk in turning that key position over to a guy he wasn't sure could play it every day. Some of CD's defense this year makes me think WJ was right, though probably I'd have made the other call. But I don't see getting Taveras as a decision for "small ball": looks to me like a decision to ensure that in a key position we'd have passable defense (in that way, a lot like the decision to trade Keppinger--i.e. in that key position we are simply not going to have bad defense.)

Mario-Rijo
05-06-2009, 11:32 AM
Personally I don't think there was any intention at all to construct a "small ball" team nor will there be. The way to create a winning offense is a whole lot simpler: find guys who can get on base and can hit, preferably ones who make a lot of contact and don't have high numbers of K's. I think the strategy WJ has pursued and will continue to pursue is to bring in the best possible offensive players who can also play their positions at least adequately. Now people might think that's not the decision he made regarding Willy Taveras. I, like lots of others here, think CD would have been the better alternative in CF, but the way I read WJ's decision is that he just wasn't quite willing to take the risk in turning that key position over to a guy he wasn't sure could play it every day. Some of CD's defense this year makes me think WJ was right, though probably I'd have made the other call. But I don't see getting Taveras as a decision for "small ball": looks to me like a decision to ensure that in a key position we'd have passable defense (in that way, a lot like the decision to trade Keppinger--i.e. in that key position we are simply not going to have bad defense.)

I'd have to agree. Certainly I think they felt they could take advantage of some of that type of play with Willy at the top of the lineup, but I don't think their intention was to create a "small ball" offense.

TRF
05-06-2009, 11:34 AM
This ballclub is clearly not a three run blast team. But they're scoring at the same rate as last year's club. Call it small ball, call it "doubles ball with better speed on the paths". Who cares what it's called? It's doing the same thing as last year's club and will likely be a middle of pack club in the NL before long. I'd like to add more SLG to the lineup. I think they will.

Through 26 games in 2008, the Reds scored 116 runs and allowed 124.

Through 26 games in 2009, the Reds scored 102 runs and allowed 103.

That's a significant change on both sides. The Reds are on a sub 700 pace for RS and RA. The former has to increase.

Mario-Rijo
05-06-2009, 11:40 AM
Through 26 games in 2008, the Reds scored 116 runs and allowed 124.

Through 26 games in 2009, the Reds scored 102 runs and allowed 103.

That's a significant change on both sides. The Reds are on a sub 700 pace for RS and RA. The former has to increase.

I don't disagree but would add that prior offenses were up & down whereas this one has a chance to be a bit more consistent. Whether that's consistently bad or not I don't believe you'll have as many peaks and valleys. I'm thinking for example when the pitching gets tougher against us in June and July we might end up with similiar #'s during those spans as previous years squads.

membengal
05-06-2009, 11:49 AM
Whether you want to characterize it small ball or big ball, they are short a bat. I hope Walt finds that bat. And directs it to LF. TRF has the numbers, the team is suppressing runs much better, but it is also not scoring as well. And it needs to score better while still suppressing runs.

wheels
05-07-2009, 04:32 PM
They only scored 704 runs last season. That's not really a goal I hope they're shooting for.

KittyDuran
05-09-2009, 03:56 PM
Frankly I've always thought teams start talking about playing "small ball" when they don't have any offense and know it.Probably true... I just hate it when the opposing team "small ball(s)" the Reds to get a win... :thumbdown

jojo
05-09-2009, 04:01 PM
What if the Reds could add a 29 yo, right-handed outfield bat doing this: .261/.414/.522; OPS: .936, wOBA=.413, who also is a plus defender, by simply taking on money and maybe shipping out a reliever?

nate
05-09-2009, 04:09 PM
What if the Reds could add a 29 yo, right-handed outfield bat doing this: .261/.414/.522; OPS: .936, wOBA=.413, who also is a plus defender, by simply taking on money and maybe shipping out a reliever?

Hmm...there's something very familiar about this...

TheNext44
05-09-2009, 04:42 PM
What if the Reds could add a 29 yo, right-handed outfield bat doing this: .261/.414/.522; OPS: .936, wOBA=.413, who also is a plus defender, by simply taking on money and maybe shipping out a reliever?

Sounds very appealing until you add the facts that the money is $8M for this year and $1M buy out for next, and that he did this last year: .217 .311 .316 .627, and for his career he's done this: .260 .355 .437 .792. And throw in the assumption that one reason why is doing so well is that he is back playing with his BFF.

Still I might trade an injury prone LH reliever with three years MLB experience that is doing great in AAA right now. 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, .60 WHIP, 6K's, for him if the money was cut in half. ;)

nate
05-09-2009, 04:46 PM
Sounds very appealing until you add the facts that the money is $8M for this year and $1M buy out for next, and that he did this last year: .217 .311 .316 .627, and for his career he's done this: .260 .355 .437 .792. And throw in the assumption that one reason why is doing so well is that he is back playing with his BFF.

Still I might trade an injury prone LH reliever with three years MLB experience that is doing great in AAA right now. 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, .60 WHIP, 6K's, for him if the money was cut in half. ;)

Might need to get a third party involved. The Phils have a guy at AAA with a 3.94 ERA and 6.2k/9 that might get it done.

TheNext44
05-09-2009, 04:57 PM
Might need to get a third party involved. The Phils have a guy at AAA with a 3.94 ERA and 6.2k/9 that might get it done.

lol :laugh::laugh:

That would awesome!!!!!

jojo
05-09-2009, 05:20 PM
Sounds very appealing until you add the facts that the money is $8M for this year and $1M buy out for next, and that he did this last year: .217 .311 .316 .627, and for his career he's done this: .260 .355 .437 .792. And throw in the assumption that one reason why is doing so well is that he is back playing with his BFF.

Still I might trade an injury prone LH reliever with three years MLB experience that is doing great in AAA right now. 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, .60 WHIP, 6K's, for him if the money was cut in half. ;)

He's also projected to produce a wOBA of .340 offensively this year...

That would make him 5.2 runs above average offensively. He's been one of the best defensive corner outfielders over the last several years and CHONE suggests he should be expected to be worth +7 runs defensively. So he's basically projected to be a 2.5 win player (+5.2 bat, +7 glove, +20 for difference between average and replacement, -7.5 for playing a corner). At $4.5M a win (current market rate), that production would be stickered at roughly $10M.

If the Nats would be willing to give away a 2.5 win player perhaps in exchange for something as fungible as a AAA arm or a Weathers, the Reds should investigate IMHO especially since it would only have to be a 1 year experiment.

TheNext44
05-09-2009, 05:31 PM
He's also projected to produce a wOBA of .340 offensively this year...

That would make him 5.2 runs above average offensively. He's been one of the best defensive corner outfielders over the last several years and CHONE suggests he should be expected to be worth +7 runs defensively. So he's basically projected to be a 2.5 win player (+5.2 bat, +7 glove, +20 for difference between average and replacement, -7.5 for playing a corner). At $4.5M a win (current market rate), that production would be stickered at roughly $10M.

If the Nats would be willing to give away a 2.5 win player perhaps in exchange for something as fungible as a AAA arm or a Weathers, the Reds should investigate IMHO especially since it would only have to be a 1 year experiment.

Don't have to convince me, I was just having fun playing the "guess who" game.

Considering the Reds offense this year, Kearns, even if just matched his career numbers, would be worth his salary. I'm just not sure the Reds have the money to spend. Or at least they don't think that they have the money to spend.

jojo
05-09-2009, 05:38 PM
Considering the Reds offense this year, Kearns, even if just matched his career numbers, would be worth his salary. I'm just not sure the Reds have the money to spend. Or at least they don't think that they have the money to spend.

That might be the "reality" that frustrates Reds fans the most this season.

TheNext44
05-10-2009, 01:14 AM
That might be the "reality" that frustrates Reds fans the most this season.

Hopefully tonight's game will give the FO an indication of how much money can be made from a winner, and they go out and get a big bat like Jocketty talked about in the booth.

That math is pretty simple. If they just get an additional 5,000 fans to each remaining home game, and those fans spend $25 each, including ticket price, that's an additional $8,250,000. Kearns is paid for right there.

And that does not include merchandise, extra TV/radio money, or playoff money.

The fans showed that they'll support a winner, the next move belongs to the Reds.