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.

RedsFest Wrap

After attending my first RedsFest on Saturday, I came home very impressed.

RedsFest is a very professional operation that ran smoothly.  From the autograph and photo booths to the memorabilia show, and the main stage events, everything was very well put together, each of the different aspects of the event kept me at the Duke Energy Center far longer than I originally thought I would would be there.

If you were at the “Hot Stove Report” with Dusty, Jocketty, and some of the front office staff, I was the one who asked the question about statistics and how the Reds use them in evaluating players.  The moderator holding the microphone didn’t know what sabermetrics was.

My question was: “Most major league teams are now dedicating specific departments for statistical analysis, how are the Reds using sabermetrics and statistical analysis now, and in the future?”  Jocketty and the rest of the brain trust gave a pretty standard answer of “Good scouting [ie. more eyeballs on a player the better] is primary and stats are used as back-up”.  He also noted that there is a lot you can do with statistics, and with comptuers holding so much information, it should be used in conjunction with scouting.

I guess I was looking for something more like the Mariners are now doing under their new GM, but I guess Jocketty is too old school for such newfangled technology and forward thinking.

I didn’t get anything signed since I didn’t have season tickets (they had a season ticket holder only line) nor was I a kid (they also had a ‘kids only’ line) and I didn’t want to stand in line for an hour in the other lines to have someone sign a ball.  It almost felt like watching the line for Santa Claus on “A Christmas Story”.  The players only sign for an hour and there is no guarantee that you get your one item signed.  Hopefully someone cool comes to our Reds Winter Caravan stop in January.

The “kids only press conference” was a riot and “Reds Idol” was pretty good as well.  Brandon Phillips is goofy. Chris Dickerson is a cool cat.

There were also a lot of former Reds. Eric Davis, Lee May, George Foster, Jack Billingham were in attendance.  New Red Ramon Hernandez (acquired from Baltimore for Ryan Freel) also showed up and introduced himself to the crowd.

The only “personality” I saw at the event other than Marty, Jeff B., Chris Welch, and George Grande was C. Trent Rosecrans. He had a dry erase board with “C. Trent Rosecrans Live-Blogging”.  It was quite funny.

All-in-all, RedsFest was definitely worth the short drive from Louisville on a rather dreary Saturday morning and made me only slightly less depressed about the upcoming season.  I would definitely go back next year.

Sunday Deep Thoughts

Just to wrap-up the week that was in Reds baseball.

Chris Dickerson is looking really good, but I don’t expect it to last and neither does Red Leg Nation.  Sometimes athleticism can be viewed as baseball skills and that seems to be the case with Dickerson.  He may have a hot start, but is he or any of the guys on the DL (Freel, Hopper) really the long-term answer?

Adam Done It is definitely sad to see Dunn go to Arizona.  The same people who ran him out of town are being a bit revisionist and now questioning how the Reds will score runs.  Small ball only works in a few instances (bunting over a man late in the game; ie high leverage situations).  So if other teams in the Reds’ division have a power threat (Lance Berkman, Derrick Lee, Prince Fielder et al.) how are the Reds going to match their power when no power threat exists?

Aaron Harang Should be shut down for the rest of the season.  He obviously did not recover from the 18 inning debacle in San Diego when he was forced to pitch in relief and then return on three-days rest.  There is a high potential that he could get severely injured and this wouldn’t bode well in Jocketty’s master plan of being “one or two players away” for 2009.  This is perfect cover for the Reds to bring Homer Bailey back to pitch through the end of the season. Something they should have done instead of pitching Fogg.

I also recommend that they limit Volquez as much as possible down the streach.  He pitched very well Sunday versus the Cardinals, but let him rest.  Remember, he is in his first full major league season and he also pitched winter ball.

Meaningful September Baseball For the Louisville Bats.  Going into Sunday’s game with the Columbus Clippers, the Bats are 13 games ahead of the second place team in the International League West division, which (in all likely hood) secures them a spot in the playoffs.  The Bats will have at least two games at home with a maximum of five if they go on to win.  If local news coverage was any indication, you would never know this to be the case.  Ticket packages are now available on their website.

I’m a little selfish  in not wanting mass September call-ups to happen so that the Bats can have a run to the championship.

Speaking of the Bats Beat writer CL Brown has been promoted to head beat writer for the University of Louisville at the Courier Journal.  Brown covered the Bats until former beat writer Brian Bennett was hired by ESPN.com to write for their Big East Blog.  If you remember, Bennett was the blogger/writer who did a live blog of the University of Louisville baseball team during the 2007 Super Regional game and was asked to leave the pressbox by an NCAA official.

Dickerson Helps Bats Go Green

With all the focus on the environment these days, why not try and reduce waste in the dugout, clubhouse, and the seating areas by going green. Chris Dickerson, Reds prospect at Triple-A Louisville wants to do just that.  He has asked for and received water bottles for all the Bats on the team.  By using these, he and the Bats hope to reduce the tremendous amount of waste left behind by the players and coaches.  C.L. Brown, Bats beat writer for the Louisville Courier Journal wrote an article about the change in today’s paper.  Dickerson also hopes to spread the word to other teams and their members when they come into town next week for the Triple-A All-Star game here in Louisville.

“The All-Star Game is supposed to be a go-green event,” Dickerson said. “It’s not necessarily the exposure from the game, but word of mouth. Maybe this viral episode of action can happen where people start to pay more attention to the issue and do more stuff around their own homes and be more aware of what’s going on.”

Kudos to Dickerson and Bats management for taking the first step in reducing waste and trying to change the culture of the clubhouse for the good of the environment.  I have seen recycling bins around Great American Ballpark, but they aren’t very convenient to find.  Hopefully the Reds, as a total organization, take the initiative and make changes to be a more “green” franchise.