Reds Winter Caravan:Louisville

So yesterday was the start of the Reds Winter Caravan and one of the first stops was Louisville Slugger Field.  The event was held in the ballpark’s foyer (think concrete slab floor, florescent lights) as opposed to the last two years at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.  The event was moved due to renovations to the factory site to make room for new exhibits coming this summer.

The caravan carrying Chris Dickerson, Jerry Hairston, Yonder Alanso, Jeff Brantley,  Dusty and George Grande arrived forty-five minutes late to the site since they were held up at a Frankfort, KY radio station.

A great majority of the crowd (about 600 or so) was there seeking autographs and were lined up even before the caravan arrived.

One thing that stood out was the fact that while there were some kids, there wern’t many.  At 4:30 in the afternoon it is a horrible time to have an event like this as it should have been scheduled for a time when more people could get out of work or school so that they could drive to the stadium.  There wasn’t much promotion of the event which was strange.

The one bit of good news was when CEO Bob Castellini announced that the Reds and Bats are going to extend their relationshiop through the 2012 season.  This is big news and it is nice to know that we’ll be able to see many of the Reds up and coming prospects for the next several years.  I don’t really know how I would feel about going to games if the Bats were affiliated with another team.

Notable Quotes:

From Dusty

“I won’t put a governor on them. I want them to use their arms, legs, bats, everything in order to win”

Translation: CREATE HAVOC!

Jerry Hairston:

“We are young, but talented.  There is a difference”

Yeah, and Grizzly Adams had a beard.

Other than Dusty babbling about winning and going to the inauguration on Tuesday with his son, George Grande took only one question from those assembled.  It was about the radio affiliate (not from me) and pretty much dismissed it by saying, “The Reds are doing everything to bring Reds fans the best radio and TV coverage”.  Joe Zerhusen, the broadcast affiliate manager, was also in attendance.  Presumeably he will be around tonight checking various spots in the city for the horrible reliablity of the signal and continue to see if there are other options for another affiliate.

All in all it was a poorly timed event that seemed hastily put together with little fanfare or excitement.  The people running the caravan should have put more into the event (promotion) and at the very least they should have apologized for being late.

When you give out free copies of Baseball America’s NL Central prospect report that says, “Reds are a long way away”, while trying to promote the team as a winner, you have some serious problems.

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Reds Hire Bavasi as Assistant to GM Jocketty

From the Seattle Times:

Bavasi was hired by the Mariners before the 2004 season. They finished last in the AL West his first three years before winning 88 games and placing second in 2007, raising expectations for this year. But the Mariners struggled to a 24-45 record when he was fired after a three-game sweep by the lowly Washington Nationals.

Mark this post as the point in time where I have no confidence going foward in Bob C. nor the rest of the organization.

Questions and Rumors

Here we go again. The Reds get slapped around by the Red Sox today 9-0 and lose another series. Poor pitching again by Homer Bailey who looks nothing like the promising young prospect we all hoped that he would be.

How come Dick Pole and/or Dusty don’t get into his face and light him up like they did to Matt Belisle earlier this season?

Where is the post-game meltdown by Dusty? I am tired of hearing about how good it was in the Haight-Ashbury scene back in the 60’s and 70’s in California. Its nice to hear that he is laid back, but is Baker too laid back to light a fire underneath the team’s individual and collective ass, especially the younger players? I didn’t think old-school types would appreciate the lack of effort and the constant rolling over that this team seems to do on a rather consistent basis.

Why do I love Brandon Phillips? Because of this:

Nice “Sandlot” reference.

Some rumors after the jump… Continue reading

The Jay Bruce Blog

Well, it has happened. After holding a nightly candlelight vigil since spring training, Jay Bruce was finally called up on Monday to be on the roster. A corresponding move will be made later today along with a very intriguing 4:00 press conference followed by GM Walt Jocketty being available in the dugout prior to tonight’s game with the Pirates.

I’m very excited. The number one prospect in all of America, in a Reds uniform tonight for the first time will be simply awesome. The buzz from the Reds’ minor league system is steadily starting to get some national attention with Bailey, Cueto, and now of course Bruce. I hope Jocketty continues to re-invest in the minor league system and drafts well even though that has not been his track record.

The dark cloud that has been over this team all year, including Sunday’s 18-inning debacle in which Corey “I’m Dusty’s boy so nothing I do hurts the team” Patterson went 0-8, will soon be lifted…somewhat. That is of course until Bruce strikes out twice in a game and every person in the Cincinnati Media calls for him to be traded because he doesn’t hustle like Pete.

I am very interested in seeing what is said in the 4:00 press conference and who attends.  If Mr. Castellini is there, does it mean that he is trying to save face for allegedly forcing the hand of Wayne Krivsky into signing Corey Patterson?  He seems to be 100% immune from the Cincinnati Media and the problems this team is facing.  The last thing this team needs is a meddlesome owner who puts “winning at all costs” above the long term solutions this team needs to be successful.

Krvisky Discusess Decisions with McCoy

In an article written by Hal McCoy with the Dayton Daily News, former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky discusses some of his decisions that he made during his tenure with the Reds.

While most of the quotes don’t represent any groundbreaking news for those who follow the team closely, one did stand out as a possible insight as to what happened while a member of the Reds organization:

“When I’m told before the season that I better win, I’m going to get all the pitching I can get,” he said. “Fogg was a $100,000 gamble, what we would pay him if he didn’t make the team. He made it so it cost $1.5 million and I still think it’s a good deal.

This is very telling of how Mr. Castellini felt about this season and how much pressure was on Krivsky to acquire players that would be contributors to a winning team. It seems as though the decision was already made on the firing of Krivsky and the slow start was a convenient excuse to install Walt Jocketty after only 21 games.

“I was told to get him signed, whatever it takes,” said Krivsky, who signed him for $3 million. Patterson was paid $4.7 million last year.

Again, the pressure to sign Patterson was another decision that was made either by manager Dusty Baker (Patterson being a former player of Dusty) or by Castellini who wanted to win at any cost.

In the article, Krivsky did take responsibility for signing Mike Stanton to a contract the Reds are still paying, and he also took the blame for Rheal Cormier, even though  he added the cavet, “and, actually, with interest we got $2.08 million.”

We are not absolving Krivsky by any means.  If you read between the lines, Wayne certainly has said more in this short interview than he did during his entire 26 months on the job and is able to do so without being constrained by the team.  He is trying to shift part of the blame on Castellini who stated from day one his “win now” mentality.  While it is good to have a positive outlook on the future of a multi-million dollar investment so that investment continues to grow, Castellini shouldn’t be totally immune to criticism either.

Castellini hasn’t reached the level of Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, nor the tyrannical nature of the Steinbrenner family in New York, but when you set the bar too high and expect results to be immediate, you end up putting more pressure on yourself.  When this happens, you make rash decisions based on expectations of fans that hear those words.  As Buster Olney wrote in his column after the firing. [subscription required]

Perhaps it was the closed door nature that Krivsky operated under or it really was the losing, Krivsky should, and probably will get another chance in a front office.

Krivsky Fired, Jocketty Named GM

Today the Reds announce the firing of General Manager Wayne Krivsky and the promotion of Walt Jocketty to the General Manager position as well as president of baseball operations. Jocketty, a former GM with the St. Louis Cardinals, was serving as special assistant to owner Bob Castellini.

The move comes as a surprise, not a shock. Jocketty was hired in the offseason to be a special advisor to Bob Castellini. However, due to their prior relationship in St. Louis, this move was not totally earth shattering. Why was this move not made in the offseason when Jocketty could have had more time to evaluate the current team as well as the farm system?

Wayne Krivsky’s struggles have been well documented. “The Trade” with Washington, signing extensions to undeserving veterans, and generally being very tight-lipped with the media when speaking about his vision for the organization were all cited as criticism of Krivsky. However, owner Bob Castellini gave Krivsky an extension through the 2008 season (with a club option for 2009) on June 28, 2006 saying, “”We’re happy with the direction that we’re going. We’re very happy with…Wayne’s performance. It was an opportunity to show our appreciation with how much we thought of [Wayne]”

There were also positives. Finding Brandon Phillips in Cleveland and, to this point, acquiring Bronson Arroyo for Willy Mo Pena were probably the signature moves that Krivsky has made. Signing Scott Hatteburg and finding Josh Hamilton in the Rule 5 daft were also huge pieces brought in. Hamilton was sent to Texas for the stellar young pitcher Edison Volquez who has pitched brilliantly through four starts, something the Reds needed badly.

What we don’t understand is how can someone so happy with what he has fire someone 21 games into the 2008 season? Castellini said in the press conference today that the team’s slow start was the primary reason. We feel that the stubbornness and closed door mentality (not to mention long time Reds scouts Larry Barton Jr. and Gene Bennett quitting in anger under his tutelage) is what sealed Krivsky’s fate.

Reds Cheapen Gameday Experience

The Cincinnati Reds are making some changes to their home ballpark this year. An entire section of seats are now going to be alcohol-free for families, an all-you-can-eat section for fans to gorge on ballpark fare, and a truck in center field.

Yeah. Seriously.

The Reds have become the new Durham Bulls when they hosted a truck on top of an elevator shaft in center field, over 500 feet away from home plate. If a Reds batter hits the truck, a fan in attendance will win the $31,000 prize. This insults a once proud franchise that owner Bob Castellini swore to protect and uphold when he became principal owner in 2005. Tradition is something that is deeply important not only to the Cincinnati Reds and their fans, but to all of baseball. We could see doing something like this in the minor leagues, but not at the Major League Baseball level. Catellini called himself a fan, yet we don’t think ANY Reds fan would approve of this move.

If we are going to have this, why not put a huge plate of Skyline Chili for hitters to take a swing at?

We understand that ballparks, especially the ones being built after Camden Yard at Oriole Park are all about trying to drawl in fans with an enhanced gameday experience. However, it is hard for us to fathom why owners need to do this other than to line their already overstuffed pockets with more profit (which MLB is making hand over fist these days).

This is in addition to the Reds forcing fans to buy three extra games with the purchase of one ticket to one of the three games with the Boston Red Sox.

I implore any Reds fan and any fan of baseball to contact Robert Castellini and his ownership group and let them know how much this cheapens your experience at the ballpark come this summer. When you put a winning club on the field, people will come.