[This report was submitted by loyal (and longtime) Nation member and super Reds fan David Johnson, who comments here as “Preach,” and his son Elijah. They attended the Reds Caravan event in Columbus, OH. Lots of great information. Thanks, Preach!]
“Sports science is the new Moneyball.” That was the second most interesting quote of the evening to me. It came from Bob Castellini, and was the response to a question regarding what will be different this year for the Cincinnati Reds.
Mr. Castellini went on to elaborate that the team has invested heavily in sports medicine and ways to track players’ health on and off the field. Much more attention will be given to various measurements including things such as using tech to monitor sleep, nutrition, and even hydration levels.
(Assistant GM) Nick Krall added that additional training staff are coming on board at every level to ensure a seamless transition throughout the organization.
The most interesting quote I heard did not come from the panel, but was uttered by my son Elijah as we travelled down the escalator overlooking the crowd (probably a couple hundred, I believe, but it was hard to judge in that venue). “Dad, I’m the only black person here.” Sure enough, in one of the busiest shopping malls in the state capital, he was correct. I’m not really sure what that says about the state of the game, or maybe the promotion of the event, but it definitely says something.
Speaking of Elijah, he graciously submitted the following as his impressions of the event:
The Reds Caravan was a very enjoyable experience. Seeing a Reds great like Dmitri Young was very nice. Though being in the back of the line was very inconvenient, once my Dad and I moved closer it was more enjoyable because it was much easier to hear and see the panel’s reactions to questions. Seeing the current players was nice as well, but I have to say seeing Bob Castellini was the best part of the experience. A great addition was also being able to get autographs from everyone.
Following up on what Elijah said, Dmitri Young was a real pleasure to hear speak. While both Scott Schleber and Blake Trahan stated they lettered in 4 or 5 sports each in high school, Dmitri only played baseball…..12 months a year. His father (who fascinatingly was one of the first African American F-14 pilots) insisted he practice year round. He said he had little appreciation at the time, but he is obviously grateful now. Elijah also mentioned questions and reactions. Here is what I gleaned for those:
1. The Pete Rose statue may be the most prominent one displayed at GABP when it’s dedicated. For those who don’t know, it will be of Charlie Hustle sliding into third. Something tells me it won’t be feet first.
2. Homer Bailey keeps working hard, according to Mr. Krall, who deferred to Mr Castellini when it came to a prognosis. Mr. Castellini repackaged the same thought. I didn’t get a good feeling about Homer being on a mound anytime soon.
3. When asked about the glut of middle infielders and if Brandon Phillips would be with the team after the All Star Break, BC said that he doesn’t know, but the team will always wish BP well with whatever happens…..At the risk of reading between the lines too much, it sounded like BC wouldn’t mind dealing him.
4. I asked if Michael Lorenzen will have a shot at the rotation. Mr’s Krall, Castellini, and Marty Brennaman all looked at me like I had a second head. It was explained to me (by all 3 in succession) that last year’s bullpen was troubled (yeah, I know…) and Michael will be needed alongside Drew Storen and Raisel Iglesias to strengthen the back end of the bullpen……It’s a dead issue, guys.
Lastly, we went through the line where Elijah was able to get autographs on his poster. Everyone was exceptionally gracious and took their time to get to know us as much as possible in the short time allotted. Dmitri took an interest in Elijah and asked if he played baseball because he has the balance and feet for it (?). When he told him no, he played basketball, Mr Krall wanted to know who we followed and after Elijah told him OKC and that we were going to see them play the Pacers in February, he commented on how nice the facility was and assured us we would have a good time.
Mr Castellini seemed sincerely humbled when my son told him it was an honor to meet him. For me, it was special meeting Marty and telling him how much of my tumultuous childhood was made better by listening to him and Joe Nuxhall. He genuinely seemed to appreciate that, and by the way he nodded, I got the impression it wasn’t the first time he heard something similar. We thanked both Scott and Blake for being there, and they thanked us for being there. They seemed like very down to earth, humble guys.
All in all, it was a great time and we cannot wait to hear that pitchers and catchers are reporting. And since hope springs eternal: “Wire to wire, baby. Wire. To. Wire.”
Baseball is the best sport (imho), it’s a shame that select teams/travel ball, showcase tournaments and the like have turned it into an incredibly expensive endeavor for average families to participate. Team fees, league fees, tournament fees, hotel stays, time off work, multiple uniforms, matching bat bags and pullovers, fitted hats…by the time your son reaches teenage years, your family has to make a decision….local leagues that are drained of talent or pony up the big bucks to travel all over the tri-state area every weekend with a few large out of state week long tournaments thrown in there during the summer.
The Undefeated featured an article about Andrew McCutchen and his story of teenage baseball on up to the big leagues, it is lengthy, but it details how youth baseball has went from being a local product to a money-making travel industry that makes all sorts of promises to families about their son’s future….it’s called “Andrew McCutchen in the Country of Baseball.” Every parent with a son playing baseball should check it out.
Nice write up, thanks for the information!
Discouraging about Bailey, and discouraging and puzzling about Lorenzen. What’s to be gained by relegating him to the bullpen before spring training even starts? He is almost certainly one of the top five pitchers in the organization, and between injuries and prospects struggling they may very well need him in the rotation. So to just dismiss that out of hand makes little sense to me. Also discouraging to hear that there was so little diversity in the crowd of Reds fans. MLB and the Reds are missing out if they don’t reach out to potential fans of ALL shapes, sizes, colors and descriptions.
I wonder if the players are going to approve of full blown biometric monitoring. Sounds like a violation that the players union will have to take up.
Observations about Lorenzen: He gained 2 MPH on his fastball and 4 MPH (!!!) on his slider when he started relieving. While I understand wanting to give him a shot, I don’t necessarily think it’s a given that he should be in the rotation. Garrett, Reed, Stephenson, and Finnegan are all younger than Lorenzen.
Don’t often agree with you but on this we can certainly applaud your insight. Good job!
I have long suspected that in the quest for a big paycheck players have been throwing to hard and not pitching with control, finesse, from their physical strengths. It is unfortunate that there is no monitoring tool to determine when a picther is just throwing as hard as they can versus pitching within their limits.
This is true. But you know as well as I do in this day and age if there isn’t a stat, metric, or number it is discredited as old school, fantasy, down right inaccurate.
bob steve and reed have shown very little in the big leagues. to pencil them in as starters is non sense
Neither has Michael Lorenzen as a starter.
But sometimes, you gotta let guys struggle a bit. Many, many pitchers take a while to adjust. You can either have faith in them or assume everything is hopeless forever.
I think Ervin will be a slightly late bloomer like Todd Frazier. We will only have him for a few years before we have to depart ways I fear.
FWIW, regarding the make up of the crowd in Columbus, I live in that area and that mall is an area of the city that is not very diverse, and the normal crowds there are generally fairly lily white. If they had held the event at Easton instead, I’d expect the crowd to be more diverse as that mall seems to have a more diverse crowd and is a bigger draw from more areas of the city than Polaris.