When you try your best but don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
… I’ll try to fix you
Jim Bowden has certainly channeled his inner coldplay the athlete earlier this week. Some good humored and well hit guy named Mark told Jimbo and asked what he would do if he were the Reds GM given the reality of the Castellini ownership group.
If you have an Athletic subscription and stumbled across this piece, you might have been as stunned as I was:
I would begin investing millions of dollars in improving baseball’s operations infrastructure, starting with areas such as research, development, technology, and advanced analytics. …. I would then work to hire a strong cabinet around GM Nick Krall that would include former GMs, managers and scouting directors, and some of the brightest engineers and mathematicians from all backgrounds. I would aim to hire the best player appraiser and analyst working with successful organizations like the Dodgers, Rays, Astros, Yankees and Braves.
Did anyone mention to Jim that the Reds HAD an advanced analysis plan under Dick Williams before ownership blew all that up and told Kyle Boddy and his philosophy to “take a hike”.
Edgertronic slow motion cameras and Rapsodo pitch tracking devices were used de rigueur at the Reds facilities under Boddy, the Reds’ new director of pitching. Weighted balls, which have been part of the Rays Way for some time, became part of the Reds’ training routine. On the pitcher side, fresh ideas were the order of the day. New people. New Hope.
Even the rest of baseball remarked:
Yes, the Reds were one of those teams that not only were on the analysis train, they drove that locomotive. Even players remarked:
A lot of players are begging to be in the Reds because of our player development. Just looking back on my own minor league career, I can say that I’m not sure I would have made it into the big leagues if it weren’t for people like that @ericjagers @drivelinebases and many others
— Tejay Antone? (@TejayAntone) February 23, 2021
“A lot of players are begging to be in the Reds because of our player development.”
Imagine. Yes, Dick Williams had it going before someone decided this wasn’t the way to go anymore. Before the boys in the tailored red jackets decided they knew more than the baseball lifers:
So that’s where to focus on the AGM+ reel. I can’t say enough good things about them #Red and the leadership of DW + Eric Lee driving change on both sides of the ball, but eventually management changed and with it the vision. Which is totally cool. Just doesn’t fit as well anymore.
— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) May 25, 2022
State-of-the-art baseball analysis just didn’t sit well with the Reds anymore, so Boddy and his men were gone in no time. Minor league hitting coordinator CJ Gillman was one of those smart guys who saw the writing on the wall:
“With the direction and leadership that was in place when I was hired, having moved on, going professionally is just the right direction for me personally and for the Reds,” Gillman wrote. “I firmly believe in what we have achieved in the time I have spent with the Reds. When we’re committed to change, the numbers speak for themselves, and I’m very proud of that.
Remnants of what has been achieved continue to trickle upwards, as we see with Connor Overton:
It was great to see Connor Overton unsubscribed @DrivelineBB Pro Day in 2020 after being in Indy ball, then battling through the pandemic and into the big leagues with TOR, PIT and now seemingly finding a home in CIN which is really kicking his ass. #prodaystories https://t.co/XZGm1VWNUC
— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) May 19, 2022
And Graham Ashcraft:
It was great to watch Graham’s meteoric rise through the system – he developed an extremely detailed way of thinking about command/arm health evolution.
Would even take out his cell phone to throw before the game while using it @DrivelinePulse to meticulously track workload. https://t.co/qgYrzgLpd0
— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) May 22, 2022
Bowden appears to have forgotten all of this, or thinks ownership will suddenly reverse course again. That would mean admitting that they are wrong. They don’t.
At the close of trading I would buy everyone on the list except for Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson and Hunter Greene….
three boys???? That’s it? The idea that you would part ways with the Nicks – Senzel and Lodolo, not think about signing Castillo or Tyler Mahle, and cut it all down to 3 people is an intriguing idea. It’s just starting over again. It’s more the same. An endless carousel of cheap players coming in, players with expiring team control going out. If Hunter Greene becomes a successful starting pitcher, he’ll be just like Castillo, a star player the Reds don’t want to pay off just when they need him most.
I would then put together a five-year plan with clear budgets to guide baseball operations staff in creating their blueprint.
It appears the Reds have a clear budget for baseball operations, one that’s spartan and rejecting what owners now see as the wanton free hand that led to Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama.
I would hold everyone in the organization accountable.
Who Blames Property? Look up at the suites again, Jim. That’s the problem.
I would build the team primarily through amateur and international drafts, trades and waivers. But I would also sign short-term free agents who could be turned around at trade deadlines. When the team was ready to be a perennial, I targeted significant domestic and international free agents who were in their prime (preferably mid-20s) and fit within the five-year player budget.
The Reds already do that. Especially Moustakas or Tommy Pham, who suddenly look worthless in the face of yesterday’s immature shenanigans, will not bring much trade. Trading with Castillo defeats the whole purpose of building a sustainable pitching staff. Players with La Piedra’s talent are rare. And he is here. Why trade it for lottery tickets that will take years to develop, only to send them to greener pastures in NY and LA when success makes them too expensive to buy?align with our resources“? If they’re not willing to pay him now, what makes anyone think he’ll be willing to target major free agents at some point in the future as well.
Reds Owner emerged furious from the collective bargaining agreement. They are committed to playing a different kind of ball. Call it low risk baseball. It feels like the fast track to losing baseball.
And…once I won the first World Series in Queen City since 1990, I would sell the team to Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos so they could financially maintain the roster.
Secure. What planet does Bowden live on?
Of course, this is the same Jim Bowden who once predicted this trade by Francisco Lindor:
“Lindor is being traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for outfielder Nick Senzel, infielder Jonathan India, right-handed pitcher Tyler Mahle and a yet-to-be-named player.”
Fixing the reds will require a leadership change at the top of the food chain. That may just be wishful thinking. To paraphrase an old Rick Pitino line from a press conference during his tumultuous days with the Celtics:
“Jeff Bezos doesn’t go through that door. Elon Musk is not going through that door.”