Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams was on the Reds Hot Stove League show this week, hosted by Jim Day and Thom Brennaman. You can listen to the full show here if you’d like to – it’s just over 34 minutes long.

The show started out with Dick Williams talking about the Reds positive test of a member of the staff for coronavirus/COVID-19 out at the Goodyear complex in Arizona, and how the organization was handling the situation. From there the topics shifted into baseball-related talk.

The first question that came up is what spring training could look like if and when baseball returns this year. Williams offered up a few different thoughts on what some options could (and let’s stress the word could here – nothing at all is decided) look like. It most likely will take place back at the spring training homes for teams, whether that’s in Arizona or Florida, instead of taking place in the home cities of teams (for example, those remaining in camp would just all go to Cincinnati and train/get ready there).

Maybe with the delay, and the hope to get games started sooner, when things re-open, the rosters are much smaller – with maybe 35 players to give everyone remaining more playing time and the teams fewer roster decisions to make from start to finish. Shortened games could be an option for the spring as a way to play with smaller rosters where you aren’t just filling out the final innings with guys who won’t be making the team in preparation for the season.

There could potentially be expanded rosters. The idea would be there for several reasons. The teams want to play as many games as possible, which could mean scheduled double headers – where there’s already a +1 player on that days roster – but with how things are looking, too, teams may feel it’s best to just have an extra pitcher or two every day, especially early on if they try to have a shortened spring training and the starting pitchers aren’t ready to go out and give you 6-7 innings every fifth day early on.

When it comes to how the playoffs would go, that’s an open-ended question. Williams didn’t offer much here, but let the two hosts kick around some ideas and chimed in. Brennaman asked about doing perhaps a split season, much like there was in 1981 where if you missed the discussion that Chad Dotson and I had on this week’s episode of Redleg Nation Radio then perhaps you aren’t aware of how that played out – the winners of the first half and the winners of the second half both qualified for the playoffs, unfortunately leaving the team with the best record in baseball outside and looking in. And that team was the Cincinnati Reds. Speaking of Redleg Nation Radio, we had some discussions on some fun ways that would be different for how to handle the playoffs this year and Chad had an outstanding suggestion that you should be sure to check out.

Assuming we get baseball back this year, it’s probably going to be a different version of it than we are used to. Yeah, the actual game played on the field will be the same. But rosters will be different, the day-to-day is likely to be a bit different, and maybe even the playoffs will be played out a bit different. What are your thoughts about how to handle the playoffs in a shortened season? Have you seen any ideas floated out there that really stand out as ones you would like to see explored?

Tucker Barnhart giving back at home

While a lot of places are shut down, plenty of restaurants are still sort-of-open in the sense that you can still pick up food at them, and if they offer delivery services – they’ll do that, too. Most just aren’t allowing dine in options as we all are either being ordered to practice social distancing for the time being, or being encouraged to.

Tucker Barnhart and his wife Sierra took the opportunity on Thursday to try and help out two of their favorite local places – all of whom are probably facing tough times and decisions on how to remain open and do their best to keep their employees working. They purchases $500 gift cards for two different restaurants in Zionsville to cover as many meals as that would cover at each place.

13 Responses

  1. RedNat

    Doug I picture a scenario where the owners want to start back earlier than the players. I have a feeling this may create a big dispute between the players union and the owners

  2. TR

    I like what Tucker is doing to help out his hometown back home in Indiana.

  3. MBS

    It would be interesting if they built up the rosters, no days off, and played double headers. You’d need to almost combine your AAA club to you MLB club to get 162 in. Obviously that will not happen, just a fun idea. 14 games a week could have a season done within 3 months. Even using a 40 man roster, it would be an audacious task.

  4. Hotto4Votto

    Spitballing some ideas in my head as to how this could look.
    Starting in July and going through September is roughly 13 weeks (92 days). If each team played 1 double header a week and had an off day every other week they could get in 15 games every two weeks. Play a little further in October (not unusual as it is) and each team could get in 100 games.
    Having a balanced schedule will be even more important with less games. Do away with inter-league play. Play home/away 3 game series verse the other 10 teams in your league (60 games) and 10 games vs the other teams in your division (40 games) split evenly home/away.
    Expand rosters to 30, 15/15 split between pitchers and position players to give everyone adequate rest.

    Just something I’m kicking around. Who knows what it’ll look like. If it even happens.

    • Scott C

      I like that idea. Sounds reasonable. I am hoping they get start before July though.

      • greenmtred

        I’ll be very surprised and pleased if they can start in July. What happens in China going forward will probably tell us if the virus goes away and doesn’t come back, but a ballpark full of people doesn’t allow for social distancing, and is a huge anti-viral cleaning project.

  5. Nick in NKY

    While the roster crunch seems to be the biggest hurdle to playing more double-headers, I kind of like the idea of just expanding rosters and going for it. If the players and owners could agree on a one year alteration of the bargaining agreement that works for both, we could see something like 35 or 40 man rosters all season, with some or all the divisional series being doubled-up. The fewer the games, the more likely to have ties at the end of the season, so expanding divisional schedules helps with ranking after a good portion of the schedule has been written off. It’ll be interesting to see what they decide and when things get started.

  6. Tom Mitsoff

    In the 1981 players strike that caused a split season, the players went on strike June 12, and there was an agreement reached on July 30. Then the season resumed August 10.

    In that scenario, there were a little more than six weeks between start of strike and agreement reached, and then about 10 days before play resumed. Those timeframes are not likely in today’s scenario.

    Regarding expanded rosters, they may try to avoid a full spring training by increasing the number of pitchers on the roster for the first two or three weeks of actual game play. Teams could use game play to ease their starting pitchers back into action by being on a pitch or innings count, much like they do in spring training games. For the first two or three weeks, starting pitchers would in effect be “openers.”

    Combine that with a couple of weeks of actual “spring” training to get bodies ready to physically compete, and you would increase the number of actual games that count while hopefully reducing the risk of injury to pitchers who are trying to get into game shape.

  7. Tom Reeves

    If MLB has about a 120 days for the season, it could be really simple. Please two, 2-game series – one home and one way – against each team in your league. So, very one plays everyone is a bit round Robin of 116 games. Expand the rosters a bit to allow for the back to back game.

    Then, take the two teams with the best records from each league and then play the WS.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      My guess is that actual games will start no earlier than July 1. If they play through Sept. 30, here is one scenario that would provide more than 100 games:

      Play six days a week; one day off per week; three doubleheaders a week = approximately 108 games. Then the playoffs can begin early October as usual.

  8. MBS

    OK, with a shortened season, each game increases in weight. With that said, putting up the best lineup becomes more important. With 2 to 3 months more rest and rehab, the argument of Senzel’s shoulder being a issue, should become less important. So…. Senzel as SS. Anyone? Anyone?

  9. CFD3000

    A tip of the Reds cap to Tucker and Mrs. Barnhart. Solid move from some solid people.

  10. TR

    It’s worthwhile to checkout the LA Times sports section today. There’s an article titled “Pull up a chair and hear Vin Scully give a message of hope and optimism.” He mentions his first opening day in 1950 with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Philadelphia, and says we’ll know we’re getting beyond these difficult days when another opening day rolls around.