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What's Going On With The Reds? Something's Rotten in Cincinnati
As the Redlegs continue to make a push towards the postseason, there have been some very interesting developments on the player development front.
Yesterday, Red’s director of pitching (Kyle Boddy) and hitting coordinator (CJ Gillman) both resigned. They didn’t go into specifics, but they both cited that the Reds were moving in a different direction. The departure of Kyle Boddy is particularly interesting. Pitching guru and the founder of the famous Driveline Baseball, Boddy has been on the cutting edge of pitching analytics for many years.
I’m not privy to the closed door conversations taking place at Great American Ball Park, so I can only speculate what this means for the future of the organization. However, when we look at the behind-the-scenes track record of the 2021 Reds, we notice a string of issues that appear to be symptomatic of a deeper problem.
The Dick Williams Departure
After taking over the reins of baseball operations from Walt Jocketty, Dick Williams had the difficult job of creating a competitive team after a botched rebuild. He was mostly successful in this role, culminating in the Red’s postseason appearance against the Braves in 2020. Key highlights of his career include trading for Luis Castillo, Eugenio Suarez, Sonny Gray as well as signing the above mentioned Kyle Boddy to create a new pitching philosophy throughout the organization.
Once the offseason began, Red’s fans expected Williams to address some of the obvious holes in the lineup, namely shortstop. However, not long after the World Series was finished, Dick Williams curiously resigned from his role. Many fans wondered why Williams would move on just has the fruits of his labor were beginning to pay off…
The Offseason Felt Off
After the departure of Dick Williams, Nick Krall took over all baseball operations. His first move of note was trading elite closer, Raisel Iglesias, to the Angels. The Reds are actually still paying a portion of his salary.
Krall also nontendered Archie Bradley and Curt Casali, two solid contributors to the 2020 team. There were also a flurry of rumors involving Krall trying to trade ace starters, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray. He also allowed Freddy Galvis, Anthony Desclafani and Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer to walk in free agency.
Losing Bauer looks pretty good in hindsight.
All of this was pitched to Reds fans as the team “reallocating resources.” At the time, it was assumed they were trimming where they could so that they could pick up a shortstop. However, this shortstop never materialized, and the 2021 Reds were noticeably worse on paper than the 2020 team.
Trade Deadline and September Callups
For most of the season, the Red’s bullpen has been abysmal. I guess that’s what happens when you send off two strong relievers for free. However, with a division title-or at least the Wild Card-in sight, many fans thought Krall would spend big at the trade deadline to improve the shortstop position as well as the bullpen.
We were disappointed though.
The promised shortstop did not arrive, and the Reds only improved their bullpen marginally by signing Luis Cessa, Justin Wilson and Mychal Givens.
Moving into September, the Reds bullpen was still an obvious weak spot, and with prospect Hunter Greene tearing up AAA, many thought he’d make the roster to provide some much needed support. However, as of today at least, Hunter Greene is still not on the major league roster.
When you’re in the middle of a playoff push, why wouldn’t you put the best team on the field?
Kyle Boddy and CJ Gillman
This brings us to yesterday’s news. It’s concerning to say the least that, in the middle of a playoff push, such key members of the organization are resigning. I can’t say what new direction the Red’s are going to be taking, but when people on the bleeding edge of analytics resign, I have to assume we’re moving backwards.
What’s Going On?
Symptoms are not the problem. They’re a sign of a deeper issue. When someone has a fever, they go to the doctor to figure out what that deeper issue is, so it can be addressed. What we’re seeing in Cincinnati are symptoms of a deeper issue. I have guesses as to what that issue is, and it’s not pretty.
For right now, this is what we know for sure:
Something’s rotten in the state of Cincinnati. It doesn’t take a doctor to see that.
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