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Thread: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

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    Worst Behavior. reds44's Avatar
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    Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/...=.jsp&c_id=cin

    CINCINNATI -- For Reds fans spoiled on scoring and 12-11 slugfests since Great American Ball Park opened in 2003, last season might have seemed like one lengthy cold splash of water to the face.
    From 2005 to 2006, Cincinnati drifted down from first to ninth in runs scored with 749, down from 820 runs. The Reds scored a Major League-low 91 runs in September.

    "I think that kept us from getting into the postseason," said Reds manager Jerry Narron, whose club finished with an 80-82 third-place record in the National League Central Division after being in the race most of the way.

    In response to the offensive shortfall, Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky didn't spend his winter making massive upgrades to the lineup. In fact, he went in the other direction and stayed true to his mission of trying to improve his team's pitching and defense.

    "It's the fastest way to get competitive, I think," Krivsky said. "Good pitching and good defense."

    The addition of starter Bronson Arroyo, the continued improvement of Aaron Harang and a bullpen near completely overhauled during the season helped the Reds improve their status from the NL's worst pitching staff in 2005 to a middle-of-the-pack seventh in 2006.

    Unlike division rivals Houston and Chicago, which spent big on free agent stars, the Reds made no league-rattling maneuvers. Veteran Mike Stanton gave the bullpen another late-inning lefty. Right-hander Kirk Saarloos was brought in from Oakland in a trade to add competition to the fifth starter's spot.

    Their biggest move was signing free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a three-year deal. Gonzalez, who has one of the best gloves in baseball at his position, will undoubtedly improve the Majors' second-worst defense from a season ago when he teams up the middle with talented second baseman Brandon Phillips.

    However, Gonzalez lacks much of a track record for hitting.

    The only significant offensive player added was 40-year-old outfielder/first baseman Jeff Conine, and that was in response to the free agent departure of Rich Aurilia, who was the Reds' most consistent hitter last season. Conine, who had 10 homers and 66 RBIs combined with the Orioles and Phillies, will likely serve as a role player.

    Judging by the types of moves he made, Krivsky wasn't concerned about a continued offensive deficit heading into the 2007 season.



    "Our pitching has improved. Our defense has improved," Krivsky said. "Theoretically, maybe it doesn't take scoring that many runs, but obviously you still have to score runs to win. But if you pitch better and catch the ball better, it won't take as many runs to win a game."

    Just how will they score those runs?

    Expect small ball to be one avenue.

    Krivsky and Narron's philosophy of fundamental, team-oriented baseball was introduced last year with mixed results. While the Reds pitched better, the team was awful at situational hitting with an NL-worst .243 with runners in scoring position.

    Reds Spring Training opens when pitchers and catchers report Feb. 17 in Sarasota, Fla. As workouts begin, look for Narron and his coaches to drive home the importance of doing the little things to win.

    "That philosophy is there. It's what I believe in," Narron said. "We'll see if we can get it done and execute it."

    In recent years, the Reds were scoring a lot but sure weren't winning a lot. In 2005, they only won 73 games while leading the NL in home runs and runs scored.

    "Do the little things it takes to win ballgames, whether it's taking the extra base, being heads up on the bases to take advantage of a mistake, moving runners," Krivsky explained. "It's doing all those types of things that help win ballgames. You can't always depend on the three-run homer. We have to execute better than we did last year doing the little things."

    Krivsky was quick to point out that there is still plenty to like about the Reds' offense. It boasts power hitters Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr., still developing hitters like Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion and steady hitter Scott Hatteberg.

    Will the offense and improved pitching and defense be enough to give the Reds their first winning record since 2000 and first playoff berth since 1995?

    "We've got an offense if everybody stays healthy and avoids the injuries. I think we'll be fine," Krivsky said. "We need help just like everybody else. You need to keep regulars on the field and avoid injuries. That's always part of a successful season."

    Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by reds44 View Post

    Never too young...

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    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    I love Baseball and all of the little things it takes to win ball games.

    Little things like hitters who avoid making outs and pitchers with the talent to record outs.

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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Yeah, you have to have talented players, but I don't see a thing wrong with wanting to see your team execute better and to do the lttle things that it takes to win ballgames. I don't know why it is necessary to be "snarky" every time Krivsky or Narron say that they want their teams to execute and play smart baseball. I don't want to see a talented bonehead team that just throws away games because they can't execute. Playing smart baseball is not a bad thing.
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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    Yeah, you have to have talented players, but I don't see a thing wrong with wanting to see your team execute better and to do the lttle things that it takes to win ballgames. I don't know why it is necessary to be "snarky" every time Krivsky or Narron say that they want their teams to execute and play smart baseball. I don't want to see a talented bonehead team that just throws away games because they can't execute. Playing smart baseball is not a bad thing.
    One interesting thing I read recently (and I don't recall where), is that Krivsky or Narron said they're not talking about "station to station" base running, but a more total approach; taking the extra base, moving runners over, getting the guy in from third. I think there is a difference there, rather than just moving from base to base. Hopefully that's what we're going to see - not an all or nothing approach.

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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Station to station baserunning usually coincides with waiting for the three run homer.
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    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    Yeah, you have to have talented players, but I don't see a thing wrong with wanting to see your team execute better and to do the lttle things that it takes to win ballgames. I don't know why it is necessary to be "snarky" every time Krivsky or Narron say that they want their teams to execute and play smart baseball. I don't want to see a talented bonehead team that just throws away games because they can't execute. Playing smart baseball is not a bad thing.
    Good point RIC. I'm sure this article will inspire several clever "plays the game the right way" or "small ball" type comments.

    But you are right, there are many ways to play smarter while avoiding giving up unecessary outs. I'd love to see them reduce or eliminate the host of baserunning errors they've made the past few years. Freel would be public enemy number 1 here but there were plenty of other mistakes over the past few years that gave up outs and in some cases killed scoring oportunities.
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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    I personally don't see any downside to playing smart, fundamental baseball. Whether you have guys that can hit lots of homeruns, a gap to gap bunch of hitters, a small ball type offense, or whatever, it just doesn't hurt to play fundamentally sound, smart baseball where you don't give opportunities or games away. To think otherwise is just "baseball ignorant."
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    Yeah, you have to have talented players, but I don't see a thing wrong with wanting to see your team execute better and to do the lttle things that it takes to win ballgames. I don't know why it is necessary to be "snarky" every time Krivsky or Narron say that they want their teams to execute and play smart baseball. I don't want to see a talented bonehead team that just throws away games because they can't execute. Playing smart baseball is not a bad thing.
    There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a team who can play good baseball without a lot of goof-ups. However, a 749 run scoring team requires that its pitching/defense puts up a 4.62 runs against per game just to be a .500 team. For 90 wins, it takes a 4.18 RA/G. To get to 95 wins, a 3.88 RA/G. For the record, last year, the Reds were at 4.98. Do you think that AGon, Saarloos, and Stanton will shave over a run per game in 2007?

    If the offense can score 820 runs, then it takes 4.25 RA/G to get to 95 wins.

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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    The Reds scored a Major League-low 91 runs in September. "I think that kept us from getting into the postseason," said Reds manager Jerry Narron...
    Ya think?

    2006 was a missed opportunity for the Reds of huge, gigantic, enormous, massive, mammoth, colossal, titanic, giant proportions...


    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Heeler View Post
    There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a team who can play good baseball without a lot of goof-ups. However, a 749 run scoring team requires that its pitching/defense puts up a 4.62 runs against per game just to be a .500 team. For 90 wins, it takes a 4.18 RA/G. To get to 95 wins, a 3.88 RA/G. For the record, last year, the Reds were at 4.98. Do you think that AGon, Saarloos, and Stanton will shave over a run per game in 2007?

    If the offense can score 820 runs, then it takes 4.25 RA/G to get to 95 wins.
    I didn't say anything about not scoring runs or having a good offense. Regardless of the type offense, defense, or pitching that you have, it really pays to play good fundamental baseball and not throw away opportunities because you can't execute. For anyone to say otherwise is senseless.
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    consider me skeptical, especially on the pitching side. Also without a new CF, the defensive improvements are a total of 1 player.

    The Reds certainly don't have the look of a contender. Their pitching stinks, the defense will be average at best and the offense looks to be nothing special.
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    I didn't say anything about not scoring runs or having a good offense. Regardless of the type offense, defense, or pitching that you have, it really pays to play good fundamental baseball and not throw away opportunities because you can't execute. For anyone to say otherwise is senseless.
    I agree, I'd like to see the Reds play better defense. But until I see them get serious about moving Jr. to RF, I'm just assuming they are just paying lip service to defense.
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    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    Yeah, you have to have talented players, but I don't see a thing wrong with wanting to see your team execute better and to do the lttle things that it takes to win ballgames. I don't know why it is necessary to be "snarky" every time Krivsky or Narron say that they want their teams to execute and play smart baseball.
    We all want the team to execute and play smart baseball. (Though we might differ on what that acutally means.) However, I have been hearing Narron say that for his entire tenure and not seen a lick of improvement along those lines. I want a billion dollars, Jessica Beal, and Jessica Alba. Simply stating what I'd like isn't going to make it happen.

    You either have to obtain those type of players or train them.

    It doesn't look good on the training part. I see no discernable uptick in the overall team "baseball smarts" during Narron's tenure. I guess we might see a bit this year, but to date I just haven't seen it.

    Have we obtained players that will significantly enhance our chances to win? I'd argue that Gonzalez was a reasonable stab at that. Other than that, thats pretty bare as well.

    When Krivsky and/or Narron are attaching a "plays the right way" tag to a player that doesn't have enough talent to make any difference to begin with those phrases begin to lose their meaning coming out of their mouths. As you stated above you have to have talented players. I think you's agree that you could have a little league team with flawless execution and a genious level of baseball smarts and they aren't going to win at the MLB level.

    I don't want to see a talented bonehead team that just throws away games because they can't execute. Playing smart baseball is not a bad thing.
    Who does? On the flipside, nobody wants to see a team that executes perfectly and loses 100 games either. I think teaching your players a system ("the Reds way" or "the right way") is the correct way to go about things. I guess the catch 22 is do you get the talent first and train them yourself, or do you seek players that already have the talent and know-how. The Reds can't afford very many of those guys.

    IMO one of the large problems the Reds have had in recent years is that they don't have a manager who "manages the right way" or "does the little things" to help the team win. IMO Narron mismanages his resources very badly. He doesn't put his players in the best position to succeed. (Granted he hasn't had a complete team to work with either)

    GL
    Last edited by gonelong; 02-02-2007 at 10:10 AM.

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    Re: Pitching, defense enhanced this spring

    I hear all of this talk about smart baseball...but at what point is it intelligent to watch our 2 big bats in Griffey and Dunn just wail away into drastic shifts while never attempting to hit the other way and get on and move guys around a bit.

    When you see the SS playing on other side of 2nd base and those 2 just wail away even with 2 strikes, it is really just talk from Narron/Krivs... This offense isn't really about Freel, Phillips, Ross, or even the bad bat of Gonzalez. It is about getting more production from the middle of our lineup. I don't think we got the production out of the 3 or 4 hole all year long like other teams did.


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