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Thread: Small Ball?

  1. #1
    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    Small Ball?

    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.
    I miss Adam Dunn.

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  3. #2
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    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.
    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.

  4. #3
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    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.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  5. #4
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    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.
    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.

  6. #5
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    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.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  7. #6
    Pitching is the thing WVRedsFan's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    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.
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  8. #7
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    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.
    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.

  9. #8
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    When you "gear" your team to play "small ball", there is also very little room for error.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

  10. #9
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Frankly I've always thought teams start talking about playing "small ball" when they don't have any offense and know it.

  11. #10
    Member SMcGavin's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by HokieRed View Post
    Frankly I've always thought teams start talking about playing "small ball" when they don't have any offense and know it.
    Me too.

  12. #11
    Socratic Gadfly TheNext44's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    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.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

  13. #12
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by HokieRed View Post
    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.
    Last edited by M2; 05-05-2009 at 10:17 PM.
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  14. #13
    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by HokieRed View Post
    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.
    "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it." --BABE RUTH

    Having better players makes "the right time" or "the big hit" happen a lot more often. PLUS PLUS

  15. #14
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    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:

    1. Continue with the speed defense/small ball philosophy, but get players better suited to it.
    2. 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.
    Last edited by TRF; 05-06-2009 at 10:12 AM.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  16. #15
    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: Small Ball?

    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?


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