One of the things that popped up over the winter was that Elly De La Cruz had been tinkering a little bit with his swing. He posted more than a few videos on his instagram account where he had clearly altered what he had previously been doing with his lower half, but not all of the videos were showing the same thing.

Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer took a bit of a deep dive into the offseason for the Reds shortstop. Among the things that stood out was that he worked with hitting coach Joel McKeithan to make some mechanical changes, his preparation for a 162-game season, and spending time working with Juan Soto.

In 2023 there was a lot of good for Elly De La Cruz, but there were some struggles, too. Reds president of baseball operations Nick Krall noted this past week that De La Cruz was “gassed” towards the end of last season. In the winter of 2022/2023 he played in the Dominican Winter League, then he played the longest season of his professional career. He did not play winter ball this past year. That may help as the season goes on. But his understanding of what it’s like to player that many games, and how to prepare for that, is likely to help, too.

Some of his second half struggles probably were related to him being gassed. Some of it was related to teams having a better scouting report on him and being able to exploit some of his weaknesses. Shortening his swing and changing his mechanics with the hopes of giving him better balance – which in turn, at least in theory, should help with making in at-bat adjustments and that could lead to better results both when he makes contact and as everyone hopes just making more contact overall.

If there’s an Elly De La Cruz who makes more contact and better swing decisions in the future, then there’s going to be a whole lot of fun down at Great American Ball Park.

Nick Martinez will fill an important role

Mark Sheldon of Reds.com wrote about Nick Martinez on Thursday. One of Cincinnati’s free agent signings, Martinez spent his two years with San Diego moving between the bullpen and rotation. With the depth the Reds have in the rotation, it’s unclear exactly where his role will be. But as Sheldon writes, the Reds aren’t paying Martinez $14,000,000 for mop-up work. Over at the link there are quotes from Martinez and manager David Bell about the roles that the righty could have with the club.

57 Responses

  1. TJ

    I believe he will be the biggest pickup the Reds made this off-season. With the Reds health in the rotation being in question, he can fill a big need in the starting rotation
    to start the season. Also, we haven’t had a good long reliever for a while now. No Lorenzen or Hoffman to soak up 2-3 innings after a bad (Luke Weaver) start. As the Red’s rotation starts to shape up he may fill that long reliever role and more likely a 7th-8th inning guy

  2. Optimist

    Understanding the premium which power commands, perhaps Elly is an unusual case where trading 10 HRs for 50 singles is extremely enticing. Consider that some % of his singles are essentially doubles and triples (remember SBs are even easier with the big bags), and that while there’s no defense against a HR, a spray approach from Elly would really confound the defense. The common contra approach would have, say, Alejo Lopez trade 50 singles for 10 HRs – which would likely promote him from AAAA into the MLB 26-man.

    • greenmtred

      I won’t be surprised at all if he retains his power–a 400 foot homer counts as much as a 460 foot homer. He’s strong, has long levers and good bat speed.

      • Optimist

        Oh sure, and that’s the HOF-level career. Even 20HR seasons, with all the other stats enhanced gets him into multiple AS games. That’s why his ceiling remains almost unlimited.

    • Melvin

      An argument could be made anyway that he puts more pressure on the opposition by hitting singles than he does hitting home runs. A few less home runs and a lot more contact would be a great thing. I agree.

  3. LDS

    I thought the Enquirer article on EDLC was encouraging. The biggest criticism is why didn’t they do this earlier. Given his raw talent and meteoric rise through the minors, the Reds should have been mentoring him, both physically and psychologically, more than the average prospects.

    • MBS

      It’s hard to fix what’s working. I’d guess they preferred ELDC to continue to graduate each level he could without major changes to his approach. Now there’s a level where his approach didn’t work as well, and needed fixing. Seems completely normal.

      • 2020ball

        Thats because it is.

        Haha, talk about reaching for straws just to complain some more, will never understand that mindset. Whine whine whine, then take a positive and try and whine some more. The Reds system has multiple prospects, saying they should exclusively focus on one over the others is exactly the opposite of good practice for minor leaguers.

        Awful and extremely misguided comment.

      • MBS

        @2020, what are you talking about? Dude reread my comment. I said it was a completely normal development. You don’t want to make drastic changes to what got a player to where they are. You make adjustments when adjustments need to be made, not before.

        You must be looking for things to get angry about, sad

      • Tom Reeves

        Sometimes to change you have to hit the wall. He hit the wall and now he’s changing. It’s exciting to think about how he good he can actually be. I think we’ve only had a glimpse of his ability.

      • LDS

        @2020, smart companies/organizations recognize the difference between average potential and high potential candidates and mentor/develop them accordingly. I never said exclusively but pretending EDLC should have been prepared the same way as, for example, Alejo Lopez, is naive at best. Clueless would be more accurate.

      • greenmtred

        I took MBS’s comment to be in reaction to LDS’s comment.

    • DaveCT

      The answer lies in adolescent development and age appropriate player development. By all reports, Elly is a sponge for information. His aptitude is reported to be very, very high. For instance, his quick grasp of English was considered equal to his baseball IQ. Further, I’d suggest his development as a young ball player was advanced *for where he was at in time and place.* One, he was in the major leagues at age 21. Two, the primary preparation for the long ML season is having experienced that long season. Even further, we do not know that he was not being prepared for the Ml season — that’s a pretty broad assumptions (How does one do that before having experienced it?). And you what what people say about assumptions, right? It’s the same thing they say about opinions.

    • LDS

      I’m more concerned with managing his psychology than the physical. It was obvious last season that he was overwhelmed with hype cycle. Hopefully, it all works out this season. I think keeping him and McLain in mostly “fixed” positions will benefit both of them as well as the team. I think the real infield question heading into the season is whether it’s Marte or CES that starts in Louisville, i.e., does Candelario play 1B or 3rd.

      • Optimist

        Good points, then again, he’s so young – is Soto the only recent pattern to follow? What other age 20-21 are comparable? Wander?

      • LDS

        I saw he spent time with Soto so that could help. IMO, Wander is an example of the path to avoid. It appears that fame and money were not good influences on the guy. Larkin was 21 or 22 when he arrived, though the media environment was much different than today’s. Bottom line, the Reds need to keep him on the Soto track not the Wander track. And most 21 yo players with fame and money need guidance. I’m sure many of us here were too stupid for our own good at 21 with a mere fraction of the money and none of the fame.

      • David

        I think (well, pretend to, at least) that CES is a LOCK to be on the Reds. He is older than Marte, and has proven to have a lot of HR power. He has hit at every level.
        My understanding is that Candelario is a pretty good 3rd baseman. They did not pay him $60 Mill for 4 years to ride the pines, unless he is absolutely horrible.
        Marte is still pretty young. He could play third, and also SS. Let’s see how Spring Training shakes out, and who is healthy, if anybody gets injured, etc.

      • 2020ball

        Good lord, what evidence do you even have that he let the hype get to him? Silly assumption.

        On the contrary, what evidence do you even have that the Reds aren’t actively doing coaching him mentally? At the time and now. Ill be shocked if you can provide evidence for either.

      • Melvin

        If Fraley and Benson are still going to be platooned, and EDLC is not going to play CF ( like I think he sould ;), then it would be wise to work out CES and Marte in the outfield this spring in my view. If India can do it they certainly can. I know some don’t like moving guys around. In a perfect world everyone would have one regular position. I agree that would be best. However that’s not the way this roster has been constructed.

    • Jason Franklin

      Why is it always the same few guys nagging at LDS when he states whatever his opinion is? It is okay to be critical but make sound agruements and try not to be just completely biased against anyone just because you think they are pessimistic or whatnot.

      • 2020ball

        Because he says the most hilarious and wildly off base stuff? Idk, my barbs are not exclusive to him.

        If youre going to complain then use that big brain y’all have, the onus is on you if youre attempting to call someone out about their job when theyre more successful than you at it.

        Plus its a message board, if his comments are welcome i dont see how mine are a problem. Ive multiple times stated my intention to troll here.

      • Mauired

        Yeah 2020ball never has anything intelligent or insightful to add. He’s just on here to troll and constantly complain about people complaining.

      • Justin T

        @2020 I find the truth isnt always pretty and also LDS is one of the most thought out posters on here. If you do not like it then dont read it. Most Americans wanna be angry and seek an opposing opinion nowadays lol. Losing season after losing season brings criticism and sometimes the Reds double down on bad decisions. Criticism is fine, especially when it’s true. You obviously were looking to argue and thats worse than someone being negative anyways.

      • 2020ball

        Criticism is fine if it make sense, and if no one wants to think ive thought anything out thats fine too. Im complaining about the complaining and ive stated plenty of times that as my intent. The biggest thing is id like to see is some critical thought, especially if your comment is trying to say you know better than the team. Crapping on the coaching staff is a constant cop-out, its all-catching and can be used for anything the org does, and y’all will like it because its the common opinion.

        All im looking for is some deeper thought, including questioning your own opinions if possible. However, since its the internet, Im not here to change minds, instead im here to ruffle feathers. If you dont like it then debate with me and provide sound arguments, and i might acquiesce if convinced. If not im another internet troll to be ignored, and thats perfectly fine with me.

      • 2020ball

        @ Justin T

        “If you do not like it then dont read it”

        Touche bruv

      • greenmtred

        LDS has proven that he is more than capable of arguing his points and defending his positions. I suspect that he is intelligent enough and mature enough to recognize this as debate in the spirit of Reds’ fandom and not to be taken more seriously than the circumstances warrant.

      • greenmtred

        While I’m at it, in my view 2020 is not a troll and posts well thought-out comments, as do many other commenters here. It’s a natural human tendency to attribute our own failings to those we disagree with, as the criticism of 2020 illustrates.

      • LDS

        @2020, the apocryphal saying, frequently attributed to Einstein, that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” exemplifies the Reds’ “strategy”. During the Castellini tenure, following Baker’s departure, the Reds have routinely hired mediocre managers with some connection to the team. The results speak for themselves. Except for the short season, the Reds haven’t made the playoffs. And on a full season, I doubt they would have made it to that season. They have collapsed in the 2nd half of the season on more than one occasion. The easy part of the season is obviously too hard for them. Anyone that’s paid the least attention to the Reds over the Bell tenure can usually predict what move he’s going to make and when. The opposing managers certainly know. His predilections are well known and not supported by “analytics” despite claims to the contrary. His fascination with “utility” is likewise not supported. Further, while the Reds spent money this offseason, much of it was on lottery tickets and redundancy, e.g., Candelario, which I don’t see too many national writers describing it as anything more than a head scratcher.
        So, it’s easy to see that fanboys and trolls will object to my comments. I’m a results oriented. Flash doesn’t mean squat. Win the division, go deep into the playoffs, make it to the World Series. Otherwise, sell the team to someone that will. And the small market myth doesn’t fly anymore than Heyman’s absurd claim that the Dodger spending this season was good for baseball and shows the game is healthy. You call for “critical thought”, I wholeheartedly recommend that you try it.

      • Mauired

        Fans being “critical” of a team that hasn’t advanced in the postseason since 1995 shouldn’t bother anyone. I believe when Lions won in playoffs last month, Reds replaced them as the last major pro team in all US sports to advance. Since that 95 team, Reds have had 8 winning seasons, one .500 and 19 LOSING seasons. It’s shameful how this organization has been run and outside of Cincy, the Reds are a joke. When I see all this young talent coming up, I’m very excited that all this losing baseball finally stops and maybe they finally win a playoff series. But I struggle to see a guy with Bell’s mental capacity winning the World Series. Maybe if the baseball gods gifted it to him like the job he has but he doesn’t have the mental capacity to earn it.

      • greenmtred

        Critical is one thing. Obsessive is something else.

  4. MBS

    I’m really hoping they use Martinez, and Suter a lot. Multi inning outings, multiple times a week. I’m not talking garbage innings, but HL use.

  5. Rednat

    i have heard the narrative so many times before. Hamilton, Aquino, Stubbs, Barrero. they all made “adjustments” to no avail. they all “really rake” in the winter leagues or in AAA but when they get up to the big leagues, the pitchers have them “figured out”. frustrating to say the least

    • Redsvol

      Well, you’ll be glad to know that no one has said Barerro has raked in either the winter leagues or AAA lately. Maybe this is a good omen!

    • Optimist

      I don’t recall the chatter about Stubbs, and Barrero has clearly derailed, but I don’t think BillyHam and Aquino are apt examples. As I recall, Billy was hailed as the phenom on the bases and defense, but there was skepticism about no power/OBP/Avg., and then the Reds had him leadoff FOR YEARS in the face of huge evidence that it wouldn’t work. As for Aquino, big tools but a long MiLB path to develop them and again questions of whether he’d make it in MLB.

      As it happened, they didn’t have enough talent to have Billy hitting 8th, and Aquino just never overcome the required adjustments after the one glorious month.

      I suppose they can over-rely on EDLC, but he’s considerably younger, and has a much higher baseline skill set than either of them. As long as he’s at SS he’s got a lower floor of offensive talent to settle into, but I doubt he’ll be any lower than slightly above average.

      • Rednat

        That makes me happy because he is a fun player to watch

    • 2020ball

      Sure but what about the times it was successful?

    • BhamRed

      Most future high value players raked in AAA

      • greenmtred

        I’ll never forget Wily Mo. He was named in a poll of MLB players as the guy who got the least out of the most talent, but my favorite anecdote comes from when he and Sean Casey were on the Red Sox. Casey was pursuing a pop foul and was clearly going to fall into the dugout. The players sitting there scattered (Sean was no lightweight and was moving as fast as he ever had). But Wily Mo stayed put: he caught Sean and probably saved him from injury.

  6. Jason Linden

    Yeah. If you want to compare Elly to someone who struggled a bit when he first came up, Larkin is more apt. None of those other guys had anywhere near the toolset Elly has.

    • Justin T

      Larkin had Kurt Stillwell to deal with also. They were both high prospects who played the same position and came up around the same time.

      • Old Big Ed

        Boy, I hadn’t thought about Stillwell in a while. The Reds handled him pretty oddly. He was the second overall pick in the 1983 draft, with Roger Clemens was on the board, and played low A at age 19, putting up a .692 OPS, mainly by drawing a lot of walks. They skipped AA with him, and he played at AAA (Denver, but only 206 PAs) at age 20 in 1985 with an OPS of .703, which likely needs an adjustment for the elevation.

        The Reds brought him up as a rookie at age 21 in 1986, when he slashed .229/.309/.258 in 315 PAs. He had two decent seasons at KC, but other than that, he was a below-replacement level player, finishing with a career SLG of .349.

        The Reds appear to have rushed him, and he likely never became what perhaps he could have been with more patient handling.

    • greenmtred

      Wily Mo didn’t? Fast, strong, cannon for an arm. The arm and the speed don’t match Elly’s, but “near” might be accurate, mightn’t it?

      • Old Big Ed

        Wily Mo wasn’t close to the prospect that Elly is/was. In his age 20 season at AA, Wily Mo had a .735 OPS, with 8 SB and 35 extra base hits. Elly in his age 20 season (split between A+ and AA) had an OPS of .945 with 47 SBs and 68 extra base hits, while playing the infield.

        Wily Mo’s agent, if I recall correctly, asked for a clause in his contract that required him to be at the MLB level within a short period. Wily Mo wasn’t ready for MLB when that time came, and he never reached his potential. He needed a longer development arc, but didn’t get it.

        Eric Davis is probably an apt comp for Elly, but Davis didn’t make it to MLB until the second half of his age 22 season. Davis slashed .277/.354/.449 with 53 SBs at age 20 in low A, and then moved quickly through the minor like Elly has. Davis is also one of Elly’s biggest supporters, in large part because of his coachability and work ethic.

      • Old-school

        Someone in the Red Sox FO thought so because Wily Mo netted a Reds HOF pitcher and great personality in Bronson Arroyo

        That trade worked out ok.

  7. Mark Moore

    Encouraging. We’ll see how it plays out very soon. I tend to agree with those who noted his mindset is probably more important as he settles into his first full season in The Show. He’s still VERY young. The potential is almost without a ceiling.

  8. Rednat

    I dont think you can compare EDLC to guys from last century. THE PITCHING is just so much more dominant now. The best comparison to me is Eric Davis.Both elite athletes with tremendous power and speed and arm strength.
    I got to tell you I love Eric Davis but I think he would have really struggled with todays pitching. He certainly wouldnt have put up the same numbers he did in the mid 80s in todays game.
    EDLC would certainly be the exception to the rule if he becomes an elite athlete with a great hit tool. These type of players just seem to be rare in todays game.

    • greenmtred

      You aren’t the only one who says pitching is more dominant now. My impression is that it’s different–higher average velocity–but the 4.00 era that would be more than acceptable today would have been much less so then. Today’s hitters are habituated to high velocity and may benefit from advanced training methods, but hitting is still, as it was then, a product of concentration, reflexes, technique and strength. Eric Davis was a great athlete and I have no doubt that he would adjust to today’s pitching.

  9. Redsvol

    I had 2 depth areas I was concerned about coming in to spring. Center field and Closer. We really have no proven mlb-caliber replacements if Friedl or Diaz got down for extended period.

    Now I see where 2 of our 3 lefty bullpen arms – Moll and Young- are being “held back”. I could see both starting on the DL. Moll was starting to be used in higher leverage situations. Bullpen depth is going to be critical. Would love to see 1 more bullpen arm signed. Plenty still available.

    Tj friedl pribably the most important player on the team. I’m not enthralled with his backup options. Seems like the last guy on the bench needs to be capable of playing a good center field – making Fairchild and Barerro important.

    • VaRedsFan

      Agree with your point about Friedl. He was a catalyst for the offense last year, and can hopefully take another step forward this year. He had to overcome Bell platooning him, despite batting .354/.421/.542 vs LHP.
      Keeping him healthy all year is a key to the team’s success.

    • Mauired

      Krall has done a good job of building pitching depth. Even if the Reds went with a six-man rotation to include Williamson and keep all the young arms fresh and healthy for the postseason, Reds still have 16 arms on the 40 Man that could contribute to the full pen this year. That’s 40% of the roster. Plus guys like Santillan, Sanmartin, Gilbert, Maxwell, Lowder, Petty, Aguiar, and Heatherly that could be added later. I’m all for more depth of they can get a good free agent at low cost but not worried at all if they don’t make any more additions this spring.

      • mauired

        If Diaz goes down Martinez is likely the next man up to close. He’s certainly being paid closer money.

  10. VaRedsFan

    I’ll go back to my comments I made last year concerning what adjustments Elly might need to incorporate. The big leg kick often times got him way out on his front foot when a pitcher threw him off-speed. His rear end bailed resulting in an off-balanced arm swing.
    I haven’t seen the adjustments noted in Doug’s article yet, but I think he could benefit from a toe-tap, so that he can keep his weight back more and on balance.