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Thread: Reds getting ready with a purpose

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    Member Tom Servo's Avatar
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    Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Pretty good read from usatoday.com:
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseb...l-report_x.htm

    Reds getting ready with a purpose
    By Mel Antonen, USA TODAY

    The Reds are planning to have fewer strikeouts and tighter defense in 2007, but the biggest key to their season probably will be the lessons they learned during their five-week slide from contention in 2006.

    On Aug. 24, the Reds were tied with the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central before a 2-8 West Coast trip ignited their fall.

    By Aug. 31, they were five games out.

    They fell into third place Sept. 23 and finished there.

    Reds manager Jerry Narron says last season's final month taught his players about how the regular season is a 162-game grind.

    "We have a lot of guys that have never been in a situation where they were playing for anything the second half of the season," Narron says. "I think (we learned) as much as anything the mental part of it, what it takes to get up every night in those types of situations.

    "We had a tough August schedule. That mental strain is what got us into trouble."

    So when spring training camp opens in Sarasota, Fla., Narron wants his players to prepare differently.

    "I think our guys understand that it's all about preparing to win, not just trying to get ready for the season," Narron says. "A lot of times guys try to get prepared just for the season, getting themselves ready, and don't get the team ready."

    The new batting coach, Brook Jacoby, who had a career .270 average over 11 major league seasons, replaces Chris Chambliss and will try to shift the offense from relying on power to one that's more versatile and can generate runs in various ways.

    "Brook Jacoby wants to stress with these guys about putting the ball in play better than we did a year ago and cutting down (on swings) with two strikes," Narron says.

    The Reds led the NL with 820 runs scored in 2005 but dropped to ninth with 749 runs in 2006, a season in which their 217 home runs ranked second.

    Their 1,192 strikeouts were the NL's fifth highest, and their .257 team batting average was next to last.

    The Reds also became the first team to have the league leaders for strikeouts by a pitcher (Aaron Harang, 216) and a batter (Adam Dunn, 194).

    The Reds don't expect Dunn's strikeouts to reduce drastically, but they think he would make a huge improvement if he could cut his total by 20 to 25.

    Dunn is hardly the only Red trying to reduce his strikeouts.

    Outfielder Ryan Freel struck out 98 times in 132 games, and infielder Brandon Phillips struck out 88 times in 149 games. Another infielder, Edwin Encarnacion, had 78 strikeouts in 117 games.

    "Ryan Freel should definitely do better," Narron says. "I think Phillips and Encarnacion will improve with another year in the big leagues."

    On defense, the Reds also see plenty of avenues for improvement. Phillips, the second baseman who had 16 errors last season, will be playing with a new shortstop, Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez played for the 2003 World Series champion Marlins and for the Red Sox last season.

    "Last year was the first time Brandon has focused on one position," Narron says. "He's got a chance to be really good defensively. He's got range, a good arm, and he's got good hands. He plays with energy."

    Narron says Gonzalez, 29, is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. Gonzalez should help a Reds defense that made 128 errors, the second-worst total in the majors last season.

    Narron thinks Gonzalez, who made seven errors in 2006, will be a positive influence on Phillips and third baseman Encarnacion.

    "We should have one of the better infields in baseball with the three young guys," Narron says.

    The Reds also might try to boost their outfield defense by moving Ken Griffey Jr., 37, to right field, allowing Freel to play center.

    Griffey, speaking to reporters last month at the winter meetings in Orlando, didn't rule out moving to a corner spot but says he's going into spring training as if he's the center fielder.

    "That's the only way to prepare myself," he says. "We will see what happens."

    Griffey has 563 career home runs. He has won 10 Gold Gloves for his center-field play but hasn't won one since coming from the Mariners to the Reds before the 2000 season.

    He can make the spectacular plays, but his range isn't what it once was, mainly because of injuries.

    Griffey hasn't played in 145 games during a season since 2000. Injuries, including a strained biceps and a dislocated toe, limited him to 109 games in 2006.

    Narron says he wants Griffey to play the position that causes the least wear on his body. Griffey thinks there could be just as much physical stress playing right field as center, but about a move, he says, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

    Griffey's immediate concern is a broken left (throwing) hand, an injury the Reds say occurred in an accident at his Orlando home. The hand was placed in a hard cast and will be re-evaluated in mid-January.

    If the Reds get more run production and better defense (a cause Griffey helps when he's healthy), their pitching should be even better. Last season the Cincinnati rotation had a 4.58 ERA, the sixth best in the NL.

    The Reds went 52-27 in games when their starters pitched at least six innings and gave up three runs or fewer.

    Arroyo had 23 of those quality starts, Harang 17 and Eric Milton 14.

    "With Harang and Bronson at the top, you get 470 innings, you feel like you have a pretty good chance of winning every night with them," Narron says.

    Harang and Arroyo made Narron's first full season of managing the Reds mostly enjoyable, with the exception of the collapse near the end.

    "We pitched well enough," Narron says, "but we just didn't score."

    ---

    Where the Reds stand at each position:

    Catcher

    There's excellent depth with David Ross, Javier Valentin and Chad Moeller.

    First base

    Scott Hatteberg ranked 10th in the NL in on-base percentage (.389) and was the league's sixth-toughest to strike out (once every 13.1 plate appearances) in 2006.

    Second base

    Brandon Phillips has range and an excellent arm and led NL second basemen with 25 steals.

    Third base

    In his first full season in the majors, Edwin Encarnacion led the Reds with 33 doubles, becoming the first third baseman to do that since Chris Sabo in 1993. Encarnacion also had a team-high 25 errors.

    Shortstop

    Alex Gonzalez, who has a career .970 fielding percentage, should improve the infield defense.

    Left field

    Adam Dunn is the Reds' leading home run hitter in each of the last five seasons, hitting 46, 40 and 40 the last three. He's the only player in franchise history to have more than one season with at least 100 runs, 100 RBI and 100 walks. (He did it in 2004-05.)

    Center field

    Ken Griffey Jr. is still one of the best in the game when healthy, but he has a broken left (throwing) wrist. It's unclear if the injury will cause Griffey to miss any of the 2007 season.

    Right field

    Ryan Freel stole a career-high 37 bases last season to lead the Reds in that category for a third consecutive season. He has the same all-out approach in the outfield, and the Reds have entertained the thought of moving him to center and Griffey to right.

    Starters

    The rotation is set with right-handers Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang and Kyle Lohse and left-hander Eric Milton in the top four slots. Arroyo's 3.29 ERA was fourth best in the NL last season, and Harang's 3.76 was 11th best. Lohse, who won 27 games for the Twins in 2002-03, is the sleeper. The Reds want Milton to change speeds better and more often.

    Bullpen

    Right-handers David Weathers, Todd Coffey and Gary Majewski and lefties Mike Stanton and Rheal Cormier are set. Other candidates: lefties Brian Shackelford and Bill Bray and righty Jared Burton, a 2006 Rule 5 draftee.

    Closer

    The Reds don't have a true closer, but they have veterans who have closed in spots in Stanton and Weathers. That gives them good experience and durability at the back of the bullpen.

    ---

    A look at the Reds' top five prospects:

    Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher: Bailey, 20, the 2004 USA TODAY High School Player of the Year, was the Reds' top prospect going into 2006. He finished the season as one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues.

    He combined to go 10-6 with a 2.47 ERA in 26 starts, 13 each at single-A Sarasota and Double-A Chattanooga. He was the winning pitcher in the Futures Game in Pittsburgh, and he had two games of 11 strikeouts.

    After his promotion to the Lookouts, he didn't allow a run in his first 17 innings.

    Bailey, from La Grange, Texas, was the Reds' first-round pick, seventh overall, in June 2004.

    Bailey was 8-4 with a 4.43 ERA in 2005.

    He throws mainly fastballs, and the Reds need him to work on his changeup and curveball so he's comfortable enough to throw them at any time in the count.

    Bailey has one of the best fastballs in the minors and had 28 walks in 68 innings for the Lookouts.

    The Reds aren't setting a timetable for Bailey to get to the big leagues.

    They said they don't want to rush him, so he'll probably start next season at Triple-A Louisville.

    "There is no timetable," Reds manager Jerry Narron says. "I'm looking forward to seeing him in the spring and see if he can pitch.

    "If he shows he can make pitches, not just come out and throw a lot of fastballs to try and throw the ball by batters, he'll be in the big leagues and be pretty successful."

    Chris Denorfia, outfielder: Denorfia, 26, was a Triple-A International League All-Star who hit .349 in 83 games at Louisville.

    He is considered the best defensive outfielder in the Reds system and has excellent discipline at the plate. The Reds expect him to compete for a roster spot in the spring.

    Joey Votto, first baseman: Votto, 23, a second-round draft pick in 2002, bats left-handed and won a Double-A Southern League batting title (.319) while finishing with 22 home runs, best in the system.

    He also led the league in hits (162), on-base percentage (.408) and slugging percentage (.547).

    The Reds like Votto's work ethic and say his perseverance is key.

    He battled back from a subpar season at single-A Sarasota, where he hit .256 with 17 home runs in 2005.

    Votto also had a strong showing in the Dominican Winter League.

    Chris Valaika, shortstop: Valaika, 21, made a strong impression in his first pro season, averaging .324 with a .520 slugging percentage in 70 games for the short-season Billings Mustangs, who won both halves of the Pioneer League.

    Valaika was the Pioneer League MVP.

    He hit eight home runs and set a league record with a 32-game hitting streak, averaging .374 (49-for-131) during that span.

    Jay Bruce, outfielder: Bruce, 19, who was selected in the first round, 12th overall in the June 2005 draft, put up impressive numbers for single-A Dayton in the Midwest League, hitting .291 with 16 home runs, 81 RBI and 19 stolen bases.

    The Reds like his makeup and maturity and expect him to move fast in the organization.

    He plays excellent defense, has a strong arm and hits with power to all fields.

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  3. #2
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    If only we'd strike out less we'd score more runs.....

    No Cueto or Wood in the top 5...
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Worst Behavior. reds44's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Pretty good article. I enjoyed reading it. Just picking some things out:

    "We have a lot of guys that have never been in a situation where they were playing for anything the second half of the season," Narron says. "I think (we learned) as much as anything the mental part of it, what it takes to get up every night in those types of situations.
    Agreed with this. Dunn, Freel EE, Phillips, etc. will learn alot from contending last year.

    [QUOTE][The new batting coach, Brook Jacoby, who had a career .270 average over 11 major league seasons, replaces Chris Chambliss and will try to shift the offense from relying on power to one that's more versatile and can generate runs in various ways.
    /QUOTE]
    This is a deangerous thing. Dunn, Griffey, and Edwin are NOT singles hitters. Why would you try to change this when especially Edwin and Dunn are just good at what they do. If you want to do this with Freel, Phillips, Hatteberg, Seabass, Conine then go ahead. Don't mess with Dunn, Griffey, and Edwin though.

    The Reds led the NL with 820 runs scored in 2005 but dropped to ninth with 749 runs in 2006, a season in which their 217 home runs ranked second.
    That wasn't because of strikeouts. It was because you traded away Kearns and Lopez and Dunn had a down year.

    The Reds don't expect Dunn's strikeouts to reduce drastically, but they think he would make a huge improvement if he could cut his total by 20 to 25.

    Dunn is hardly the only Red trying to reduce his strikeouts
    Don't make Dunn try to cut down his strikes out and put the ball in play. IMO, it was one of the reasons for his down year last year. Asking Dunn to shorten his swing is like askign a QB to change his throwing motion. It's too late to do it when they are in the pro's. Leave them alone and focus on the good.

    Outfielder Ryan Freel struck out 98 times in 132 games
    You can't do that when you are a player like Freel. Put the ball in play, use your speed.

    On defense, the Reds also see plenty of avenues for improvement. Phillips, the second baseman who had 16 errors last season, will be playing with a new shortstop, Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez played for the 2003 World Series champion Marlins and for the Red Sox last season.
    Untuil you mov Griffey out of CF, I won't take Narron and Krivsky seriously about getting the D better.

    The Reds also might try to boost their outfield defense by moving Ken Griffey Jr., 37, to right field, allowing Freel to play center.
    Do it.
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    Member Superdude's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Why is the K always brought up as a way to improve the offense? A strikeout isn't a good thing, but how about we try stressing something different just for variety sake Jerry?!

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    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Superdude View Post
    Why is the K always brought up as a way to improve the offense? A strikeout isn't a good thing, but how about we try stressing something different just for variety sake Jerry?!
    Yeah, the "power hitting" Reds never really had a problem scoring runs. It was giving them up that has been the problem.
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    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Ks are not bad.

    People tell Dunn not to strike out...that's why he had a bad year last year.

    Yada, yada, yada. Talk about beating a dead horse. News flash: I bet cutting down on strikeouts would help the team.

    Dunn with RISP: 35% of his ABs in 2006, he whiffed. Put the ball in play with RISP and you have a better chance of scoring runs than when you K. Simple logic. As an added bonus, if he put the ball in play more with RISP, the talk about his RBI totals would end as well. Win-win situation.

    BA is overrated.
    OBP is God's gift.
    Strikeouts don't matter.

    Sounds like all of these "facts" center around the attributes of one player, doesn't it? Next we'll here how great it is to be a bad fielder.

    For all the talk about how Dunn's BA is a tired topic, I think the reversal is getting a little old as well. No offense to anyone here.

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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by edabbs44 View Post
    Ks are not bad.

    People tell Dunn not to strike out...that's why he had a bad year last year.

    Yada, yada, yada. Talk about beating a dead horse. News flash: I bet cutting down on strikeouts would help the team.

    Dunn with RISP: 35% of his ABs in 2006, he whiffed. Put the ball in play with RISP and you have a better chance of scoring runs than when you K. Simple logic. As an added bonus, if he put the ball in play more with RISP, the talk about his RBI totals would end as well. Win-win situation.

    BA is overrated.
    OBP is God's gift.
    Strikeouts don't matter.

    Sounds like all of these "facts" center around the attributes of one player, doesn't it? Next we'll here how great it is to be a bad fielder.

    For all the talk about how Dunn's BA is a tired topic, I think the reversal is getting a little old as well. No offense to anyone here.

    Well, if every hitter were Barry Larkin, you might be on to something. Not every hitter can BB more than K. Different machines. Different approaches.

    But they both do the trick.

    Both sides of the argument are tired; neither cuts to the heart of what's ailing this team, however.
    Last edited by Falls City Beer; 01-04-2007 at 09:25 PM.

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    Member Highlifeman21's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    If only we'd strike out less we'd score more runs.....

    No Cueto or Wood in the top 5...

    I firmly believe these two are without a shadow of a doubt our two most overrated prospects in our system.

    If someone really loves them that much, find a new team for them and get some value out of them.

    Bailey, Votto and Bruce seem to be the only 3 that will reasonably see substantial playing time eventually for an MLB club.

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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Dunn doesn't need to cut down on his swing, he needs to be more aggresive on early pitches. Far too ofter he take strike one, and then 2 and he is in a hole, then of course he is going to strike out more if he does this. Of course then we lose a lot of walks that he gets. If he can tweak it just a little, and was doing so either last spring or the spring before and really looked good, he could be a monster. I still believe he will be before it is over!! Although 40 HRs a year is not bad either!

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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Highlifeman21 View Post
    I firmly believe these two are without a shadow of a doubt our two most overrated prospects in our system.

    If someone really loves them that much, find a new team for them and get some value out of them.

    Bailey, Votto and Bruce seem to be the only 3 that will reasonably see substantial playing time eventually for an MLB club.
    Curiosity makes me ask why do you feel that way ?
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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Outs are bad. Strikeouts are outs. Therefore, strikeouts are bad. Turning a strikeout in to a ground out doesn't make the outcome of the at bat any better. Turn that out, ANY kind of out, strikeout or others, in to a non-out, and now you're getting somewhere.

    Let's teach Brandon Phillips how to turn weak grounders in to walks -- that will help us produce a whole heck of a lot more runs than teaching Dunn not to strike out will.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    That article was horrible.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

  14. #13
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Turning a strikeout in to a ground out doesn't make the outcome of the at bat any better.
    But sometimes those groundballs find holes. Putting the ball in play more does have a positive effect on batting average, which in turn improves OBP and SLG. They always say they're gonna make Dunn do this crap, but it never seems to work out. Maybe Jacoby can finally pull it off. Dunn's a good on-base guy when he's batting .230. Imagine if he could bat .280. It would be interesting to see if it actually hurts his power like everyone assumes it would.

    I'll believe it when I see it though considering they've been threatening Dunn with this strikeout crap forever.

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    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Outs are bad. Strikeouts are outs. Therefore, strikeouts are bad. Turning a strikeout in to a ground out doesn't make the outcome of the at bat any better. Turn that out, ANY kind of out, strikeout or others, in to a non-out, and now you're getting somewhere.

    Let's teach Brandon Phillips how to turn weak grounders in to walks -- that will help us produce a whole heck of a lot more runs than teaching Dunn not to strike out will.
    With RISP, put the ball in play and runs can score. Hits, sac flies, even ground outs can score runs.

    Ks typically do not get the runner(s) in.

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    Re: Reds getting ready with a purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by edabbs44 View Post
    With RISP, put the ball in play and runs can score. Hits, sac flies, even ground outs can score runs.

    Ks typically do not get the runner(s) in.
    I think that "productive outs" happen about 1% of the time. It's a fruitless effort.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton


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