PDA

View Full Version : Building with prospects



Kc61
07-05-2011, 11:19 AM
I agree with many on this board that, generally speaking, building with youth is a viable approach for the Reds. They can't afford big free agents apparently, trades are hard to make.

The current swoon by the team is IMO a natural by-product of building with youth. Some guys pan out, some require lots of seasoning, some get hurt, some just aren't that good.

So, looking at some of the main prospects the Reds have developed who have reached the majors:

Votto, Cueto -- excellent
Leake -- signs of being very solid
Bruce, Stubbs -- good but very inconsistent
Bailey -- signs of being very good, but often hurt
Volquez, Wood -- experiencing difficulty
Janish -- good field, no hit so far

The inconsistency, the injuries, the subpar performances are IMO a natural outcome of the Reds' approach.

I see two choices.

1- modify the approach and get some high level veterans to fill out the team. Do it by free agency this winter, or trades at the deadline. But not for guys like Renteria and Cairo, who may be ok as bench players. For starting players who will improve the lineup and staff.

2- go "all in" with youth. Be more aggressive promoting youngsters. For example, Cozart and Mesoraco play premium positions. Get them up to the show and start breaking them in. Put guys like Alonso and Francisco on the bench. Promote Boxberger and start to get him ready to close games next year.

I don't think the current approach - a roster of prospects and veterans on the downside - is a winning formula. Hopefully the Reds will change it.

I'd love to hear others' views on this.

RedLegsToday
07-05-2011, 11:29 AM
I don't think the current approach - a roster of prospects and veterans on the downside - is a winning formula. Hopefully the Reds will change it.


Isn't this the same approach that won 91 games and the division last year? Not saying it is the best approach, but, you can certainly win with it.

Kc61
07-05-2011, 11:34 AM
Isn't this the same approach that won 91 games and the division last year? Not saying it is the best approach, but, you can certainly win with it.

You can occasionally win a division title with the current approach. You can occasionally win 90 games or thereabouts.

Certainly the Reds are improved over the Dunn-Griffey days and I'm not saying that they can't ever catch lightening in a bottle and win a division.

But to be a top contender in the National League, with consistent success, and a real chance to go deep into the playoffs, I don't think the current approach works.

Caveat Emperor
07-05-2011, 11:43 AM
The budget is fixed. You can play with the numbers however you want, but the bottom-line salary number isn't going to change. That's a reality every team not named New York and Boston is forced to deal with.

So, you can add your veteran bats, but be prepared to lose other players to free agency or trades when the team can't afford to sign them long-term.

dougdirt
07-05-2011, 11:46 AM
You can occasionally win a division title with the current approach. You can occasionally win 90 games or thereabouts.

Certainly the Reds are improved over the Dunn-Griffey days and I'm not saying that they can't ever catch lightening in a bottle and win a division.

But to be a top contender in the National League, with consistent success, and a real chance to go deep into the playoffs, I don't think the current approach works.

Building from within is the best approach to take. However, you have to actually take that approach. The Reds haven't. Dave Sappelt should have been starting in left field from Day 1 this year. Zack Cozart should have been starting at shortstop for the last 40 games. But that hasn't happened.

Starting next season, the Reds could have a team that is nearly full of home grown players with the exceptions of Rolen and Phillips nearly every day. And the team should be pretty good. To build from within, it takes time. The Reds have gotten a good start on it, but they aren't all of the way there yet (though you could argue that they are delaying getting there with respect to the two positions mentioned earlier). The key to building from within is to be able to add to your team every year with something of substance. Not just a reliever or a bench guy here or there. We are just about to that point. If all we become is the Minnesota Twins of the 2001-2010 variety, I can live with that and be just fine.

REDREAD
07-05-2011, 11:56 AM
I really don't want to go "all in" with youth.

For whatever reason, the Reds feel that Sappelt and Cozart are not upgrades.
Given how aggressive other youngsters have been promoted and given chances, I think the Reds have earned the benefit of the doubt.

Let's say the Reds DFA Returia to bring up Cozart. Then 3 weeks later, the Reds figure out that Cozart is actually worse than what they have at SS now.. They are kind of screwed now.. The point is, the Reds have a lot of guys out of options now, not much flexibility to move people up and down.

We could probably trade Homer, Volquez or Wood for a short term upgrade at SS or LF, but is that really worth it? I don't know if it is or not.

This team just doesn't seem to "have it" this year.. I wouldn't mind trading a handful of C prospects for a rental to try to improve our chances, but I'm not so sure it's worthwhile to trade something of value for a rental now.. And sadly, any acquision would probably be a rental, due to the budget.. Heck, we would probably ask the team trading away the vet to eat some salary and thus be forced to give up premium prospects.

I am just going to enjoy the rest of the season, one game at a time.. If we make the playoffs, great.. if not, I'm not going to be disappointed. Last year, everything worked out great for us.. we can't expect that to happen every year.

I(heart)Freel
07-05-2011, 12:10 PM
I think the best approach for the Reds is to identify which prospects (1) have a clear path to take over an MLB role in the near future and (2) which are organizational depth, possibly good-great players who have no clear path because of an entrenched incumbent at the MLB level.

You don't touch the (1) category. You let them develop at the correct pace and call their number when they're ready.

If a player in the (2) category blossoms, they simply have to consider trading either the MLB starter or that prospect, to get whatever the organization needs at the time.

To speak in specifics, I think Cozart is a (1). And I think Mesoraco and Alonso are (2).

Cozie "appears" ready, and couldn't possible come into a better situation from an expectation standpoint. He has to hit so little and provide such little run-production to offer improvement over the MLB incumbents. I think Fay said it was unfair to think of him as a savior. I hardly think hitting over .230 with more than 12 extra-base hits in 350 ABs is asking for a savior.

Mes also appears ready. He's blocked by either Hanigan or Ramon. Hanigan is signed to an affordable multi-year deal and handles pitchers and the running game well. Ramon is having a great offensive year, cuts down runners and is only signed through this year. Easy choice. Organizations built through the farm HAVE to turn players like Ramon into something else before he walks away for nothing. With Mes seemingly ready, I don't see how the Reds don't make a deal.

Alonso can't be expected to stay at AAA until 2013, when we know if Votto is going to sign a LTC. So either he or Votto are trade-bait. I think I know which direction the team (and this board) leans on that.

This is nothing new, of course. All of this has been said a million times already. But in context of the kind of approach the Reds should take, I believe the farm should be used to fill the MLB roster or to be used to get what is needed. There appear to be some MLB-ready players. The FO should decide (and probably is deciding) which players are in the near-future plans and should actively shop the others.

Kc61
07-05-2011, 12:20 PM
What I see is a passive approach. Kids, older veterans, and sitting still. My personal viewpoint is that sports teams should not sit still. Even championship teams need to make moves to balance their rosters.

If the Reds won't (can't) acquire the veterans they need to fill obvious deficiencies, then they should more aggressively promote good prospects who may be able to fill them.

I've never been a "build with youth" fan, but as DD says, if that's the approach, let's take it. There is no shortage of prospects at AAA, let's move them up and see how they do.

The current plan seems very in-between to me. It doesn't seem like an approach that will get the team beyond "pretty good."

cumberlandreds
07-05-2011, 12:42 PM
You have to have a good farm sytems with good quality prospects. Especially if you are a small market team like the Reds. The Twins are the best example of building a competitive team like this year in and year out. But if you don't use your prospects either with the big club or trade them for useful veterans what good are they? Like dougdirt said, the Reds have two,at least, in AAA basically rotting away. Sappelt and Cozart should be with the Reds NOW. But because Reds management is too sentimental and doesn't want to cut a good ole boy veterans like Gomes,Lewis and Renteria they are using the same ole dreg night in and night out. With the reults of what you expect from aging or middle of the road veterans. Mediocrity. It's great the Reds have built their farm system to where they are producing legitimate prospects. It wasn't so long ago they were not doing this. But now that they are, they seem to be gunshy in using them. If the Reds are to make the next step up the Reds management needs to get over this and use them. Either bring them up or trade them for more useful vets than what they have now.

traderumor
07-05-2011, 02:11 PM
I betcha if there were any legit young starting pitcher prospects sitting on the fence like the player prospects, they'd be aggressively promoted.

vaticanplum
07-05-2011, 02:41 PM
The budget is fixed. You can play with the numbers however you want, but the bottom-line salary number isn't going to change. That's a reality every team not named New York and Boston is forced to deal with.

Side note, but the AL East stereotype is carrying its weight unfairly at this point. People need to stop excluding Philadelphia from this list. They officially have a higher payroll than the Red Sox now.

dfs
07-05-2011, 03:29 PM
I don't think the current approach - a roster of prospects and veterans on the downside - is a winning formula. Hopefully the Reds will change it.

I'd love to hear others' views on this.

This is not meant as a screed against either Baker or Walt.

Dusty Baker took a contending team of veterans in San Francisco and cycled the roster to a different set of veterans and stayed a contending team. Looking at the talent on th 93 team, it's tough to fault their approach. Yes, Will Clark and Matt Williams had some decent seasons after the giants let them go, but Barry Bonds became Barry Bonds and while they never won the series with him, they were always in contention. Royce Clayton, Rich Aurilia and Bill hall were really the only position players the Giants developed during those 10 years. As a matter of fact the giants were kind of famous for succeeding despite pretty much not having a farm system.

Baker's Cub teams went from the penthouse to the outhouse while he was there. When he arrived they had Zambrano, Wood, Prior, Aramis Ramirez, Cory Patterson and Hee Sop Choi who looked like a decent hitter at the time. Under Baker Choi became about as good a hitter as Cory Patterson was. It's tough to know exactly how much of the injury to Wood and Prior to lay at Baker's feet. Under Baker the Cub's clubhouse pretty much became and example of the lunatics running the asylum.

Pretty much under both those teams. It's fair to say development of the kids did not contribute to franchise success with Baker around.

Walt Jocketty was in the A's front office from 80 to 94. During that time the A's went from being pretty much a clown of a franchise to one of the premiere franchises in mlb. Jose Canceco, Walt Weiss, Mark McGwire and Miguel Tejada were all drafted or signed by Walt. Dispite this very impressive haul of youngsters, The A's were spectacularly successful at identifying veteran players who still had enough in the tank to help a team. Looking at the dominant A's team of 88-90, while the home grown talent was important, acquired older veteran talent contributer more to the team than the kids.

Of course Jocketty was also part of the cardinals organization from 94 to 07.
How did the Cardinals do it under Walt?

These guys came in as veterans....Eckersly, Gant, Giatti, Delano DeSheilds, Royce Clayton, Mark McGwire, Edgar Rentaria, Fernando Tatis, Eric Davis, Jim Edmonds, Fernando Vina, Daryl Kile, Pat Hentgen, Woody Williams, Tino Martinez, Chuck Finley, Scott Rolen, Jason Izzy, Reggie Sanders, Chris Carpenter, Larry Walker, Jeff Weaver.

And these guys were undeveloped players when they took the field as Cardinals....Dmitri Young, Matt Morris, J. D. Drew, Rick Ankiel, Matt Morris, Placido Palanco, Albert the Great, Dan Haren, Jason Marquis.

Now, that's some serious talent there that took the field as newbies, but the vets aren't slouches either.

Looking at how Baker and Walt's teams have done in the past, I think they deserve a TON of credit for adapting to the new economic realities of baseball. Before they reach free agency players are a tremendously valuable resources and with Votto, Bruce, Janish, Stubbs, Hanigan, Cueto...Oh heck, you guys all know the list, with the huge number of pre-free agent players the reds have on the field, Both Walt and Dusty seem to be trying to play the kids. The leopards are showing very different spots.

If you benched Rolen and handed third base over to Frazier/Encarnacion and put Yonder in left and dealt Hernandez in order to play Mes would this team be 5 games better in the standings? Even with that kind of cherry picking, I don't think you make this team THAT much better.

All that aside, the biggest minor league development decision this team has made in the last year has been to give in to the pressure to immediately cash in on Chapman and turn him into a reliever.

Guacarock
07-05-2011, 03:50 PM
Now that the Reds have a strong farm system, they are better off building with prospects -- whether that involves calling up AAA players to fill openings or using those players as trade bait to acquire reasonably priced veterans who plug obvious needs.

That said, you do have to actively tend the farm. You can't just sit back and watch everything grow.

The Reds, through their inactivity last winter and this summer, have risked squandering the farm system as a valuable asset. Several prime players are parked at Louisville, not only the ones who require more seasoning but also those who have already ripened on the vine.

The stagnation has to be demoralizing for the prospects involved, but on a larger level, it represents a bad business decision. Prospects who wear out their welcome too long in AAA start looking more like suspects. Their trade value declines and you cannot get the same return from dealing them as you could when they were perceived to be at their peak.

I'm not sure why the Reds seem so enamored with the status quo that they are neither calling up their best prospects or dealing them. As my late grandmother used to warn, and I'm paraphrasing her vernacular, there comes a time to when you have to either (finish your business) or get off the pot. In other words, there's a point when deliberation turns into constipation.

Other contenders, like the Indians, are calling up their farmhands and getting strong performances out of them. I'm not sure why we're so cautious and slow on the draw, but we are, and it's becoming more frustrating to watch. It's not like this team, as currently constituted, is going anywhere. Time to upset the apple cart, throw a monkey wrench into the works, anything, whatever, to show the Reds are serious about improving and giving the fans a team worth cheering for.

Reds1
07-05-2011, 04:01 PM
I don't agree you have to go "all in" with youth. Look at having like an Orlando Cabrera on a team like Indians. See what he's done for years. Guys who know how to win and can show this to youth is valuable. We don't have Rolen last year and it's a different year even though he basically only had a good 1/2 season. This team is not as bad as there record show. The fact is pitching and hitting has been inconsistant all year. Reds record in 1 run games is terrible. They just aren't getting those games. I am one that does believe Cozart should have got a shot, but believe having a Gomes can be positive. His teamates love him and dispite his inconsistancies he hustles. Not like an Andrew jones or Adam Dunn types - heck many mlb players that don't run out every hit.

I think the Reds are right there. Pitchers are getting healthy and turning the corner. We have Cueto, Leake, and Homer back and even Volquez is pitching better. The pen is good, the defense is great, and the bench is solid. It's a matter of winning these close games and getting over the hump. Yes, it's sweet to have the youth in AAA, but if you follow those games they aren't exactly tearing it up on the farm. A great AAA player does not make a great mlb player. I think the Reds are on the right track, but it's the mix of youth and vetrens that make it too the WS. Do you ever find an all youth movement actually work? YOu have them play well 1/2 season or over periods, but it's a mental grind. Just my thoughts.

Kc61
07-05-2011, 04:09 PM
I don't agree you have to go "all in" with youth. Look at having like an Orlando Cabrera on a team like Indians. .

I don't believe "all in" means you can't have some vets particularly as role players. There is room for a productive veteran on any team.

What "all in" means to me is that your primary source of talent is your farm system, that you aggressively promote guys who may be ready, and that your trades and other moves focus on acquiring more good young players.

It's flooding the major league team with high-level prospects and then carefully weeding out those who seem like pretenders.

I'm not sure it is the best way to proceed, but it beats the current method IMO.

I(heart)Freel
07-05-2011, 04:14 PM
In fairness, the ChiSox are under the same scrutiny over their prized Cuban slugger Dayan Viciedo. With Pierre and Dunn struggling, their fan base is going nuts about his non-callup.

If the Reds haven't promoted a prospect or two, or traded for help, by the end of the month, then we can bark a little bit more. As it stands, we don't know how actively they're *trying* right now.

We'll just have to wait and see, and decide later if their inaction doomed the season.

lollipopcurve
07-05-2011, 04:15 PM
You don't put the onus on "turning the team around" on rookies. If/when they bring up guys from AAA, it should be done after or at the same time they bring in a veteran or two -- could be a guy like Willis or via trade. The AAA position players are unlikely to provide anything more than marginal upgrades, if that, and that won't appease the restless fan base. They can be part of the solution, but not THE solution, IMO. They'll need time to learn/adjust, and they'll need cover in order to relax and just play.

traderumor
07-05-2011, 04:30 PM
You don't put the onus on "turning the team around" on rookies. If/when they bring up guys from AAA, it should be done after or at the same time they bring in a veteran or two -- could be a guy like Willis or via trade. The AAA position players are unlikely to provide anything more than marginal upgrades, if that, and that won't appease the restless fan base. They can be part of the solution, but not THE solution, IMO. They'll need time to learn/adjust, and they'll need cover in order to relax and just play.AAA players are the backup QBs of baseball. Everyone panders for them to get their chance, rarely do they pan out.

dougdirt
07-05-2011, 04:35 PM
AAA players are the backup QBs of baseball. Everyone panders for them to get their chance, rarely do they pan out.

I don't think its close to that. Backup quarterbacks are back ups because they aren't good enough. Guys in AAA might be held down because the MLB team is paying someone else and doesn't want to cut them (Cozart) or they aren't on the 40 man roster and to put them there requires you to cut someone (Sappelt).

And lets not say rarely do they pan out. Sure, rarely do they come up and go Ryan Braun on you. But it isn't a scarce thing for them to come up and be a solid producer, especially when they aren't incredibly young (in that 20-22 range).

AtomicDumpling
07-05-2011, 05:05 PM
It seems the Reds ownership is more interested in ca$hing in on last season's success than improving the team's chances of winning baseball games. The large increase in fan enthusiasm and ticket revenue generated by the first playoff team in many years gave the franchise a golden opportunity to wisely spend the extra money to improve the team but that has not come to fruition. They did not improve the team during the season last year, they did not improve the team during the offseason and they have not improved the team yet this season either. Disappointing.

Personally I would like to see some sign that winning is a priority of the ownership and management. Show me some competitive spirit. Not words. Actions. Send a message to the fans that you want to win and are trying to win. A baseball franchise is more than a business, it is a competitive enterprise. Even if you don't want to spend any money there are plenty of cheap ways to improve this team without sacrificing the future.

AtomicDumpling
07-05-2011, 05:13 PM
AAA players are the backup QBs of baseball. Everyone panders for them to get their chance, rarely do they pan out.

Most players in AAA will never be good MLB players, but most good MLB players were AAA players for awhile.

The Reds have a lot of AAA players that are simply not good enough to be productive MLB players and never will be. The Reds also happen to have several real prospects playing at the AAA level. Players like Alonso, Francisco, Cozart, Frazier and Wood are highly likely to "pan out". Guys like Hermida and Willis are also very capable of making important contributions as well.

traderumor
07-05-2011, 05:28 PM
Most players in AAA will never be good MLB players, but most good MLB players were AAA players for awhile.

The Reds have a lot of AAA players that are simply not good enough to be productive MLB players and never will be. The Reds also happen to have several real prospects playing at the AAA level. Players like Alonso, Francisco, Cozart, Frazier and Wood are highly likely to "pan out". Guys like Hermida and Willis are also very capable of making important contributions as well.I will be surprised if more than one in that list makes a significant contribution at the major league level. I'm not sure it is fair to include Wood on that list since he has a full season of innings under his belt and already looks like a suspect.

Kc61
07-05-2011, 05:50 PM
I will be surprised if more than one in that list makes a significant contribution at the major league level. I'm not sure it is fair to include Wood on that list since he has a full season of innings under his belt and already looks like a suspect.

You may be right. Some - perhaps most prospects - will fizzle.

But some have tremendous upside. Gomes, Lewis, Renteria, those guys do not have tremendous upside IMO.

With the big club at .500, I'd rather take my chances on the upside of Mesoraco, Cozart, Alonso, Francisco and the like over a number of the current Reds.

lollipopcurve
07-05-2011, 06:21 PM
With the big club at .500, I'd rather take my chances on the upside of Mesoraco, Cozart, Alonso, Francisco and the like over a number of the current Reds.

I agree with this, but perhaps for a different reason.

Those players do have higher upsides than the Reds playing their spots. But I do not expect them to be able to propel the 2011 squad much further than the guys currently on the 25-man roster, if any further. The reason I'd like them playing in the bigs -- and I'm under no illusion all of them will be up together at any time this year -- is preparation for 2012. It's going to take time for them to adjust. I'd rather they get some good training this year so that the team is in better shape in 2012. Like it or not, a significant portion of the core that will carry the team into several years of competing for the NL Central title is in Louisville (talking position players, not pitching).

Kc61
07-05-2011, 06:27 PM
I agree with this, but perhaps for a different reason.

Those players do have higher upsides than the Reds playing their spots. But I do not expect them to be able to propel the 2011 squad much further than the guys currently on the 25-man roster, if any further. The reason I'd like them playing in the bigs -- and I'm under no illusion all of them will be up together at any time this year -- is preparation for 2012. It's going to take time for them to adjust. I'd rather they get some good training this year so that the team is in better shape in 2012. Like it or not, a significant portion of the core that will carry the team into several years of competing for the NL Central title is in Louisville (talking position players, not pitching).

No, I don't expect the AAA guys to immediately propel the team to a championship. I didn't mean to convey that.

I don't put a date on it, but I'd like to see the "perennial contender" Cincinnati Reds start to take more shape. Maybe the result will be immediate, maybe it will take awhile, but right now the mix of players is just half way there.

My first choice would be to acquire a few proven veterans and go for immediate success. But if we can't have that, let's dip into that wealth of talent at AAA and start to figure out the puzzle longer term.

I'm ok with either approach, just not more of the same.

CrackerJack
07-05-2011, 06:32 PM
I agree with this, but perhaps for a different reason.

Those players do have higher upsides than the Reds playing their spots. But I do not expect them to be able to propel the 2011 squad much further than the guys currently on the 25-man roster, if any further. The reason I'd like them playing in the bigs -- and I'm under no illusion all of them will be up together at any time this year -- is preparation for 2012. It's going to take time for them to adjust. I'd rather they get some good training this year so that the team is in better shape in 2012. Like it or not, a significant portion of the core that will carry the team into several years of competing for the NL Central title is in Louisville (talking position players, not pitching).

And thus we'll see the requisite September call-ups/expansion when they're (hopefully not) all but out of it, instead of just admitting Rolen is not working out, nor are their SS options.

I would simply like to see Francisco given another shot to at least out-produce Rolen's pedestrian #'s, and the same for Cozart.

If they can't even do that, fine, send them back down and try something else.

PS - I don't mean cut Rolen, just admit he's a part-time player at this point and should be platooning or only playing a couple of times a week.

The pitching is what it is, and as expected, has gotten much better with time - this offense isn't.

mdccclxix
07-05-2011, 07:42 PM
Using the Baseball American rubric for determining who should get playing time from the minors (since b-ref has that so handy), often it's the players ranked inside the top 20 that teams will find a way to play, even if they're a successful team like the Yankees or Cardinals with lot's of talent and experience. Furthermore, those successful teams will often sell off their prospects ranked in the top 100 - your Austin Jackson's, Ian Kennedy's, Brett Wallace's, etc.

It's rare a team will absorb all of their top 100 prospects like the Reds have done with the 2007 class of Bruce, Bailey, Cueto, Votto, and Stubbs. That's rare. There was a lot of tillage during that time and a lot of bare soil that needed feeding. It's rare, and incredibly rewarding, as a fan to watch players for these 6-10 year periods from minors to majors. I love it. A similar approach to this is/was the Rays. They are a successful team (as well) that, conversely, has almost never sold off a good prospect. They need the cheap service. The result can be frustrating, as not all prospects pan out (Beckham) right away, or at all. Needing that cheap service time is what keeps teams holding onto players too long (Brignac). The question and answer for them is simple: What couldn't the Rays have gotten for Beckham at one point? What would they be without Longoria?

So, what is the true talent level of these Cincinnati Reds? I think Walt really likes his current 25. There are not any players ready to out perform the current 25, in his mind. Chapman, our top 10 guy, is in Cincinnati. Those who are left in AAA, Mez and Alonso, for example, are trade bait to Walt, reluctantly if I'm guessing. If you look at Walt's time in St. Louis, he didn't often trade his better players before they reached the big leagues. He held onto Wainwright, Garcia, Pujols, etc. - all ranked below 40 by BA. He didn't exactly have a shoestring budget in St. Louis, so keeping them wasn't likely only a financial choice. Perhaps he's patient for patience sake. Or perhaps he and his staff are excellent at finding, keeping, and developing talent.

It's a perplexing mix in Cincinnati, I guess. It's clear when you say out loud, "Cincinnati is nothing like the Yankees organization, nor the Rays organization." Although all three are having success recently, Cincinnati is (as usual!) straddling life as a small market wanting to get bigger. I really like the idea of shedding some players that we can identify that have less potential than perceived, or that can bring major value (Cliff Lee was one). I also like to believe Walt is having a hard time choosing any of our players to trade because they're all very likely to succeed. In which case all this waiting will pay off.

The one suspicion I may have is that Walt has not often dealt with this much talent in the minors. His years in St. Louis were thin with talent, and the better prospects were also young enough to play wait and see. Is this is somewhat new territory for an old captain?