Official.

I haven’t had a chance to dig into Ward as a batting coach yet.

Obviously, they still have to work on the roster, especially pitching. But you have to admit, it’s impressive (and surprising) that the Reds have been able to convince a pitching and hitting coach to leave teams that were just deep in the postseason to take a parallel job with a last place team. 

My WAG at what’s happening: Dick Williams, drawing on his non-baseball business background, figures investing in coaches to move the needle is about 100x less expensive than investing in players to move the needle similarly. So the Reds are offering the coaches they want a lot, lot more money than those guys are currently making. 

Whether or not this turns out to be a successful exploitation of a new market inefficiency depends on if there are meaningful differences between one professional coach and another. Let’s hope so. 

UPDATE: Quotes from Dick Williams about the Ward (54) hire:

“We went into this offseason committed to putting new leadership in place in the clubhouse,” president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “We were interested to see where that would take us. We thought that some new voices in the clubhouse and a variety of perspectives from other organizations would be a good thing. We were committed to putting together a first-class coaching staff, but these things are hard to control.

“A lot of them come up quickly, and you have to be in a position to react. Thankfully, David has a lot of good contacts in this game. Those have afforded us opportunities to speak to guys that we might not have otherwise. We think it’s really important to give our players a chance to succeed. So we did what we could so far. We saw the right fit arise and we moved quickly and boldly to put it into place.” [John Fay, Enquirer]

Good feels all around. 

26 Responses

  1. Scottya

    I pulled all of this off of Dodgers websites about our Hiring Ward:

    The Dodgers set a franchise record for team home runs in 2017 under Ward – only to come back and break that record in 2018 with 235 team home runs. They also set Los Angeles records with 564 extra-base hits, as well as a .442 slugging percentage. In each of his three seasons, the run production for LA increased. During his tenure, the Dodgers rank first in the National League in home runs, second in walks, third in slugging percentage, fourth in on-base percentage, and fifth in runs scored.

    Williams said about Ward: He comes highly recommended for his ability to connect with players and help them maximize their potential.”

    This is highly subjective, but I have noticed him interact with the Dodger players and it stood out to me, how much the players seemed to like Ward.

    This looks like another fantastic move by Dick Williams and the Reds.

  2. KDJ

    Turner Ward, this is Billy Hamilton.
    Billy Hamilton, this is Turner Ward.

    • David

      Bloody unlikely. Billy is a fan favorite and a Bob C. favorite. Billy hasn’t listened to anybody for years, and still can’t bunt well.
      Dump him. I am tired of the Billy Hamilton saga.

      • Michael E

        +1

        I hope the Reds part ways with Billy, however…

        If Billy is on the Reds in 2019, he’d better not start a single game, barring a run of OF injuries. Late game D or PR sub ONLY. That said, he isn’t worth the money to have sitting on bench for 7 or 8 innings every game. Too expensive. Find another fairly fast, good-fielding, subpar hitting OF (there are many) that makes league minimum for that.

        The one or two fly balls he runs down that an average CF wouldn’t each week does NOT make up for his 15+ ABs that are complete wastes of time. I’d rather see that one fly ball fall if it means getting 5 or 10 much better at bats from a solid hitter with at least average power.

      • Streamer88

        If he saves 2 doubles each week, and gets on base 10% less often (.300 OBP Vs .400 OBP), then isn’t he crudely a .400 OBP CF (who can’t field)?

        This is gorilla mathematics I know. But in 20 ABs per week he’s out 14 times instead of 12.

        Play him until someone can generate more WAR than him. I hope that’s Senzel.

    • Jeff Reed

      A change in Red’s culture is evident with the last three major hires. Billy Hamilton should be an important part of that change by being sent westward to make spectacular catches in spacious outfields such as Kansas City, Denver or San Diego among others. His time in Cincinnati should be over.

    • Michael E

      One can only hope MRRED. I have doubts that will happen, but I was sooooo hoping he’d get traded for a decent prospect last off-season…we got stuck with the worst hitter in baseball for another season.

  3. lost11found

    He could be a good fit as a the hitting coach for the reds but difficult to tell right now.

    Still not sold on three true outcomes being a good hitting goal. It leads to some nice numbers (see the dodgers numbers above), but it didn’t bring home the bacon two years running, which admittedly could just be because they ran into opponents playing better ball at the moment than they were.

    I personally think votto is onto something better with his approach of trying to not make outs. Choke up and put the ball in play with 2 strikes. Two of those three out comes are positive (hit or error). Make the defense earn the out.

    • Dave Roemerman

      Ted Williams’ first rule of hitting: Get a good pitch to hit.

      Ward seems to emphasize that, so we’re off to a solid start. What is a “good pitch” varies by hitter but can make a ton of difference. Once Peraza realized low sliders falling out of the zone weren’t good, he suddenly was, lol.

      I agree that swinging from the heels for an occasional two-strike XBH isn’t worth it for most of the league – the increase in power is offset by the lack of contact for most. Hopefully, he can impress a better approach on the non-Votto/Suarez/Gennett portion of the lineup and we’ll see a jump from Winker/Schebler/Peraza to go with adding Senzel. This has the makings of a really nice lineup with a few improvements.

  4. scotly50

    The Dodgers had seven players with more than 20 home-runs. Three players with 15. I am not sure the Ward is going to find that power out of our players. I feel the Reds still lack a bat in the middle of the line-up.

    i wonder why the Dodgers did not match the offer if he is so prized??

    • Streamer88

      Votto
      Suarez
      Scooter
      Winker
      Schebler
      Senzel
      Peraza*** (15 HRs)

      You were saying?

  5. cupofcoffee1955

    I am very encouraged with these first hires (pitching & hitting). They are going outside the organization & bringing in new blood, hopefully bringing new ideas and improvement.

  6. hof13

    What I like most about what has happened the past few weeks is – it seems there is a plan, a real, honest to goodness, not just word service – plan. I don’t know that it will work – it still is dependent on the players – but I think it’s gotta work better than the schizophrenic dysfunction of the past few years.

    • Michael E

      Exactly. Rather than hoping extra bobble-head days bring in fans, they finally saw the plunges in attendance for what it is. Fans were/are fed up with poor play and no real attempt to fix the poor play. The front office and ownership seemed very content with crappy play and 90 loss seasons.

      Now, given the past several weeks, it appears the FO and owner got the message…finally. I don’t know how it will play out, we still have subpar talent overall, BUT the coaching hires have exceeded my admittedly cynical expectations by a long ways.

      Most importantly, these coaching hires, good ones at that, make me feel like this talk about improving the starting rotation is REAL this time, and not just talk. I was fully prepared to hear “we wanted good FAs and trades, but it was all outside our payroll and prospect budget”. Now I can see the Reds actually signing or trading for a GOOD SP2 or maybe even getting a near-ace.

      I keep hoping they get a DeGrom, but I feel that the prospect price may be too high. That said, if they can pull that off trading maybe #4, #6, #8 and #15 prospect and keep the top 3 or so, DO IT! If they can get DeGrom for one of the top 3 and much lower prospects, I’d be okay with that too.

  7. Mike Adams

    I think you may be right, Steve, about Dick Williams’ thinking of investing in coaches being 100x cheaper than players. It is a more efficient use of dollars and innovative.
    It is a sign of a change in philosophy that the Reds have offered enough to hire successful coaches away from other teams.
    I agree with other commenters that this is a way to change the team attitude and bring in different ideas and perspective from other teams.
    It does raise some concern I mentioned a couple weeks ago.
    I hope the Reds want to do more than complete the coaching staff, sign a FA starting pitcher and decide that’s enough we will go with what we got.

  8. Scottya

    More analysis from Dodgerland:

    article titled – Filling Turner Ward’s shoes won’t be easy
    Dodgers need to replace one of the game’s best hitting coaches

    “It’s a bit sad, though, that we’ll never get to see the Yasiel Puig-Ward love affair fully play out. But Puig saw marked improvement over the last three years under Ward. He went from a 101 wRC+ in 2016 — the low point of his career — to 117 in 2017 and 123 this past season. His contact rate improved and his swinging strike rate fell in each of the last three seasons — great trends for any hitter.” truebluela.com

    “The Dodgers had the lowest O-Swing% in baseball over the last three years — 27.2 percent. That was 1.6 percent better than the next-best team in the Twins. They were the best at not chasing of any team for the last two seasons. That is a testament to the hitting coach.” truebluela.com

  9. luciusruber

    This is encouraging. Set up the coaching staff before delving into free agency-we notice this,so will the players. That said, you can’t turn a donkey into a Kentucky Derby winner-we still need quality pitching. I appreciate the path Williams has taken-it appears to be an organized attempt to right the ship

    • David

      Maybe he has Walt tied up in a closet in an old apartment building in Over the Rhine. And Bob C. just said…. “Well, sure kid, I guess we’ll do that. Where’s Walt?”

      • cupofcoffee1955

        Please don’t let Walt out of that closet.

  10. redlegs64

    You know, the interweb is great. You can whine all day long and someone will actually read it! The negative comments are absolutely crazy. Are people aware that the Reds have lost 90+ games 4 years running? Are people aware of how good the rest of the NL Central is? And still they criticize these hires?!

    Some like to “guess” that luring well-paid coaches instead of paying for players would pass the smell-test. News flash – these coaches don’t come here thinking that they’re working with non-ML talent and an organization that is too cheap to win. They want to build teams and become managers someday. Losing doesn’t look good on a resume.

    The Reds sorely needed a change in leadership and by gosh the Reds FO is delivering! It’s overdue – but I sure am not going to criticize the 3 hires of the past 3 weeks.

    This is fantastic progress! This is fresh leadership that we’ve been clamoring for. This is new guys with new ideas. And if you combine these coaching minds with some FO & scouting smarts – the Reds will build a winner.

    To dissent just because the Dodgers and Brewers didn’t win it all is just dumb as can be. To hold out because they haven’t bought a splashy FA starter is way premature. And to expect overnight success is not realistic. But I am making plans to see the Reds several times next year and am very excited to see an improved product. The Reds FO is making long overdue changes – time to hop on board!

    • james wright

      YEP! Give the Reds a couple of starting pitchers with the hitting and replacement players available and we are better by a lot. Maybe 20 games.

  11. Michael E

    I agree. Put the ball in play with two strikes. Also, do not take pitches down the middle. Having the best HR team works during regular season, but when you’re facing more consistently good pitching staffs in playoffs, that all or nothing becomes more nothing and less all. Making pitchers and fielders work for outs is how to win playoff games.

  12. Streamer88

    Great signing especially since this guys philosophy aligns well with that of our future HOF 1B. Here comes a rebound year for big 19.

  13. Jeff Reed

    Harrison has usually done well against what I assume was his favorite team going up. He has the offensive skills. Can he play the outfield?

  14. Bill j

    See a report Padres are interested in Suarez. What would they give?

  15. John Amell

    I wouldn’t trade Suarez, unless I was blown away.