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Thread: The System's Disappointing Performance in 2009

  1. #1
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    The System's Disappointing Performance in 2009

    Louisville, after a rough patch at the season's beginning attributable largely to dismal fielding, has rebounded for another very strong season (one that ought to make Rick Sweet a leading contender to manage the Reds, in my view).

    The GCL Reds, owing to a critical mass of intriguing young talent, have performed reasonably well.

    After that, Cincinnati farm teams have been nothing short of dreadful this year.

    * Carolina, gutted by the losses at various times of Travis Wood, Chris Heisey, Juan Francisco, Todd Frazier, Yonder Alonso, Zach Stewart, Matt Klinker, Jordan Smith, Alexander Smit, Dallas Buck and Chris Denove, has fallen to the worst overall record in the Southern League.

    * Sarasota, which wasn't very good to start with, has the worst overall record in the Florida State League.

    * Dayton, which has played better in the second half, is still 18 games under .500 overall.

    * Billings has the worst overall record in the Pioneer League.

    * The DSL Reds finished their season 12 games under .500.

    The question is: How telling is all this?

    Most of us agree that minor-league records are not of major significance. However, this represents such a pattern of ineptitude that it certainly leaves you wondering.

    The performance is tempered somewhat by the fact that the parent team has already incorporated so many of the system's prospects over the past two-plus years, namely: Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Paul Janish, Ryan Hanigan, Adam Rosales, Chris Dickerson, Craig Tatum, Drew Sutton, Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Danny Herrera, Carlos Fisher and now Drew Stubbs. That's obviously a huge drain on the minor-league talent pool. Additionally, the organizational pitching ranks have been depleted by injuries to the likes of Buck, Smith, Daryl Thompson, Kyle Lotzkar, Even Hildenbrandt, Scott Carroll, etc.

    So . . . all things considered, do you feel as though the farm system has truly had a terrible year? Has it taken a step or two backward? Has it shown itself to be weaker than many of us had chosen to believe?

    In other words, is it as bad as it looks?

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    Re: The System's Disappointing Performance in 2009

    It's bad. Injuries at the major league level haven't helped Carolina (at all), but, for the most part, injuries and ineffectiveness have really hurt the Cincinnati pipeline.

    Yorman Rodriguez may be a star in the making, but he's got at least four years to go. No one else profiles as a star. And that, IMO, is what really hurts the Red farm. At this time last year, you could have made the case for Alonso and Soto as difference makers in the system. Now? Alonso has taken basically a year off and Soto's star has dimmed.

    As for pitching, only Travis Wood has taken that step forward into prospect status. The drafting of Leake helps, but Horst, Hillenbrandt, Lotzkar, et al really got hit by the injury bug. None of them profile as anything more than interesting BOR arms.
    "You can learn little from victory. You can learn everything from defeat."
    -- Christy Matthewson
    "Show me a good loser and I'll show you an idiot."
    -- Leo Durocher

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    Re: The System's Disappointing Performance in 2009

    Injuries certainly played a large part in the disappointing performance. Still, my sense is that the Reds need to take a serious look at their ability to develop talent. The return on investment in talent is too low. I am not convinced that the coaching at the various levels is well coordinated. Players that successfully navigate the system, appear to do so despite the farm system.

    Can someone close to the organization comment on these impressions?

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    Re: The System's Disappointing Performance in 2009

    I remember reading an article in the late 1990s on the farm system of the New York Yankees. Essentially what the article stated that in the late 80's early 90s when the Yankees were terrible and pretty much irrelevant, the front office decided that the farm system not only needed to develop players, but also had to win at every level, thereby creating players that were talented but also had experienced winning and went out with the expectation they were going to win. The records of all their farm teams were very good over that time frame.

    Now you can argue they brought up a bunch of great players through their system during that time frame (Jeter, Posada, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, etc) but I do firmly believe an organization can create a culture of winning or losing.

    When you get to the highest levels of competition in any sport the talent levels become more equalized than the previous levels and in a lot of cases winning and losing comes down to who wants it more. And if that is the case I want people that expect to win and want it more, not guys that see it as just another game out of 100+ and "we'll get'm tommorow." That being said I cannot see losing at every level of the minor leagues being a good thing, regardless of the type of talent you have.

    In regard to our organizational talent level, I think we like to look at prospects as our hope for better things in the future and therefore tend to overate people. If I were to honestly look at the players in our system I really don't see much in the way of above average major league players. If I look at AA or higher, who projects as an above average player or #1 or #2 starter? Alonso, Francisco if he can lay off bad pitches, Frazier maybe if he makes it at 2B, I think he becomes average or below at 3B or LF. That is really all I can think of. Now go to the lower levels which is much less of a sure thing. Who currently has big potential AND is currently producing good numbers? Yorman. If you want to throw Leake and Boxy in based on college production ok. Who else?

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    Re: The System's Disappointing Performance in 2009

    Development is the #1 key of the minor leagues. Winning is a distant second. I do agree that you want to develop a culture of winning in the minor leagues, but do you really want to win so bad that you stunt the growth of your top players? Do you want to win in AAA with more expensive AAAA type players? Heck McDonald can tear apart AAA pitching, how well does that translate to MLB?

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    Re: The System's Disappointing Performance in 2009

    I wasn't around here in the mid-70s, but a friend has mentioned a remark from Bob Howsam that stuck in his head. It was after the BRM had won it all, probably 76. Somebody asked Howsam about his reaction to the season, and he reportedly said that he was a little disappointed because not all of the farm teams had won their championships. The organization had a championship mentality, and expected nothing less.

    Anyway . . . I agree that, at the moment, it's hard to see more than two or three big-time major-league players in the pipeline. But let's not forget that the system recently graduated Votto, Bruce and Cueto. If you add those three to Bailey, Fisher, Herrera, Hanigan, Stubbs, Dickerson, Janish, Frazier, Wood, Francisco, Heisey, Valaika, Cozart, Ondruskek, Maloney, Cozart . . . that's not a bad yield over a three- or four-year period.


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