In an appearance on the podcast hosted by C. Trent Rosecrans and Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams shared some interesting thoughts on his team and possible areas for innovation. (You can find a writeup of Williams’ comments and a link to the podcast right here.) Williams spoke in particular about the notion of “breaking down the barriers between roles,” both for pitchers and position players. Especially for a small-market team, he said, it’s necessary to question traditional thinking. While it’s hardly clear that the Reds will be tinkering just for the sake of experimentation — Williams says that creative approaches will be attempted “in the context of the talent we have coming” — he did note that it’s intriguing to imagine the possibility of a staff made up mostly of multi-inning pitchers who aren’t strictly classified as starters or relievers. It’s a fun and worthwhile listen.
Here’s more from the NL Central:
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak expressed some displeasure with recent comments from second baseman Kolten Wong, as ESPN.com’s Mark Saxon writes. Wong had stated rather forcefully that he was uninterested in sharing time at second — a possibility that has been discussed (externally, at least) due both to his continued struggles at the plate this spring and the presence of Jedd Gyorko. Though Wong softened his initial statement, making clear he wants to remain in St. Louis, Mozeliak said he felt the “comments were a little tough given the fact we have other players playing well.” The veteran executive took a measured tone, but made clear where the organization stands. “Starting Sunday, we’re playing to win,” he said. “Whenever a player is trying to accomplish something in spring training, that can’t be an excuse for why things aren’t going well.”
- Righty Drew Hutchison was officially removed from the battle for the Pirates’ final rotation spot, with the team announcing that he has been optioned to Triple-A. That leaves righties Trevor Williams and Tyler Glasnow fighting for the fifth starter’s job. Both reached the majors last year after strong showings in the upper minors, though neither established himself at the game’s highest level. The young hurlers have each staked their claim in differing ways this spring, with Williams posting a 2.63 ERA with a dozen strikeouts against just two walks over 13 2/3 frames and Glasnow racking up 23 Ks — but also allowing nine runs on 19 hits and six free passes — over his 14 1/3 innings.
- The Cubs have made their final Opening Day roster decisions, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Outfielder Matt Szczur and infielder Tommy La Stella are both slated for reserve roles. Szczur, who’s out of options, had been mentioned as a possible trade candidate had he ended up missing out on the Chicago roster. Meanwhile, lefty Brian Duensing will open the season on the DL after being slowed earlier in camp due to back spasms.
Just Another Fan
Wong’s entire career is at stake, if he doesn’t see regular AB’s he is in danger of flaming out. He does deserve to play everyday, but maybe STL isn’t the best place for him, as they are trying to contend and give time to many.
He needs to put up or shut up. The organization wants him to be the every day starting second basemen just as bad as he wants to be. But the truth is he’s a total head case and doesn’t know how to just go out and play baseball
I think total headcase is a stretch, but yes, he has an ability to let things stay in his head rather than moving on as he should.
I have a comment kind of addressing this that’s awaiting moderation, but could that possibly have something to do with the fact that he’s been promised a starting job repeatedly only to be benched or demoted after a relatively short period of time? If starting the next game depended upon how well you performed today, today might weigh heavier on your mind and become a monumental event. Wong hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities, but I also don’t think the Cardinals have created an environment that really helps players (particularly young players, and Wong may be one who struggles with the mental side an exceptional amount) be confident.
All I know is Wong, no matter how he was playing at the time , always seemed to get a big hit to beat the Pirates the last couple of years. Would drive me nuts with all the other bats in the line up , Wong hits the extra base hit to win the game…
I’m a Cub fan since 1960 and Wong as good as times as any 2Bmen as any except Tommy Herr. Play him with love and he will return love in kind.
Yay. Another internet psychologist!!
This is almost as exciting as the guy that was blaming Mabry for Wong’s leg-kick.
I get tired of hearing how the Cardinal organization doesn’t give youngsters a chance to develop. Either you produce or step aside. The Cardinals have contended and most of the time win the division for the last 20 years. I think that organization knows how to win. Most organizations are jealous of there success.
Actually it’s a perfect fit for him if he’s used correctly and willing to play his role.
Gyorko mashes lefties, so should be starting against all lefties. Wong is fine against RHP and plays superior defense. They compliment each other rather well.
I think that Wong would be helped immensely by having a consistent role — whatever that role is.
He’s going to start 100+ games at 2B and be used in every close game as a pinch hitter/pinch runner/defensive replacement.
I know he wants to start every day and I hope he gets there. But in the majors the goal is to win. And he’s just not that much better than Gyorko and Garcia to have that handed to him. Hopefully he knows his role and produces to earn himself more playing time, just like Gyorko did last year.
How many lefties are even in the division? Lester, Anderson and finnegan? He’ll likely be startingg 60 percent of the time anyways
Wong’s current situation is a further legacy of Mozeliak’s misguided, premature, undeserved $25 million extension deal.
Looks like someone is going to have to eat crow or eat $$$ — or both.
Not really. If he’s a 2 WAR player, it basically breaks even. There’s obviously some potential for more than that.
The Cardinals could easily get a team to take on the entire contract today. It’s not a bad contract, well worth the risk.
Why does Wong “deserve” to play everyday? Because he was a top prospect? He certainly hasn’t earned an everyday role based on his MLB performance…
That being said, I don’t see any issue with what he said. Personally, I’d rather have players that want to play everyday… I’d have a much bigger issue if he said he was happy with sitting out half the games this year…
It’s not that he wants to play every day, it’s that he thinks he’s still entitled to a job he’s had every opportunity to run away with over the past few years.
December 27, 2016: Mozeliak and Matheny have both called Wong a “Gold Glove-caliber everyday second baseman,” (https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/12/nl-central-notes-wong-nova-brewers-reds.html)
March 29, 2017 (3 months later): The veteran executive took a measured tone, but made clear where the organization stands. “Starting Sunday, we’re playing to win,” he said.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we should be playing to win. But it seems like every year since 2013 we’ve gone through this. In the offseason, “Wong is our starting second baseman no matter what. He’s a great young talent who can do it all and we need him in the lineup every day (or close to it).” In the regular season, Wong doesn’t get off to a hot start and he’s on the bench. Or demoted to AAA.
Of course, Wong isn’t the first or only young player subject to that kind of treatment. Grichuk, Oscar Taveras, and Carlos Martinez (to a lesser extent) all have gone from “everyday players with immense talent” to the bench or the minors.
We always hear that Matheny is such a great leader, though, that the young guys understand it’s for their own good and never get upset or lose their confidence. So far, there hasn’t been any evidence to the contrary. Wong is the first to actually express his frustration with this game that Matheny and Mo seem hell bent on playing with young players where they tell them that they trust them 100% and that they’re going to have the chance to succeed before giving up on them 3 weeks into the season. I’d probably be tired of it too, and (imagine this) it seems like Matheny maybe isn’t so good at handling everyone’s feelings as to keep everyone from feeling like they might lose their job at any minute.
I’m not saying that Wong has torn it up, but he also was never given a lot of consistent time. (and he played substantially better when he did — between August 29 and September 23 when Wong started 17 of 19 games, he slugged .474 compared to his .355 slugging percentage on the season). That’s not Ruthian by any means, but it’s an improvement.
In some ways, I don’t care what the Cardinals do, but I do wish that they’d stop jerking players around and I appreciate Kolten Wong’s angst at having his position threatened again so easily.
So much for “the leverage” 29 teams had on the Cubs regarding Szczur.
Leverage isn’t a singular in baseball bartering. Like “the” six of diamonds” or “the Hope Diamond”. It’s more of a spectrum, like “all the apples in Washington”.
A team can have some leverage. A team can have quite a bit of leverage. However, to say (insert team here ) has the leverage in a negotiation, it hints at the other teams having zero percent of leverage.
Brian Duensing’s bad back eliminated the presumed leverage a bunch of fans thought they had regarding Szczur.
If a more acceptable offer had been made, perhaps Szczur is with another team tonight. Glad he’s still with the Cubs.
All right! Brian Duensing, team player!
um, he’s still the 5th Ofer with no options left… pretty sure the Cubs still have pretty much 0 leverage when it comes to trading him
basically the first team offering a half-decent minor league lottery ticket is likely making the best offer, so i’m not sure him making the roster for now changes much
and i say that as a Cubs fan who likes Szczur.
Half-decent per Theo. Not half-decent per a fan of the rival’s pipeline.
The Cubs have won the Advanced-A Carolina League in successive seasons. They cut a pair of pitchers this week who were perfectly solid in South Bend (Midwest League) last year.
To get Szczur, a team will have to offer an asset Theo wants. If that hasn’t happened, and it likely hasn’t, Szczur will likely stick around until a point where the roster is fully loaded and healthy.
Which might not happen until September. Which would push back the deadline further.
To qualify, quite a few boxes would have to be checked by the potential acquisition.
What Williams means is that he’s going to be very creative when it comes to their promotions this year, since attendance may fall as low as 1.7 million. Such a low sum hasn’t been hit since the mid 80’s in Cincinnati, but that’s what you should expect when you’re about to have your 15th losing season in the past 20.
The cardinals owe Wong nothing. I like him and wish he’d live up to his potential, but the best guy for the job starts. Period. The cardinals would love nothing more than for him to BECOME the everyday second baseman. But it’s up to him and his playing to claim that role. Despite must everyone’s predictions the cards are playing for their 12th title and will field best team possible in that pursuit.
Whether it’s in a good or bad way, the Reds will turn a few heads this year.
Unless those heads are dozing off in the seats at GABP.
I predicted that both Matt Szczur and Tommy La Stella would make the Cubs opening day roster and got hammered by many fans. I looked at their April schedule and saw 5 scheduled off days which minimized the Cubs need for 8 relievers and a 13 man pitching staff. So there!
Theo would rather have Duensing do four hours of PFP than give up Szczur for nickels on the dollar.
I think that both are on the opening day 25-man roster is more a result of Duensing being injured. If he was healthy, this would still be a Szczur vs LaStella issue. I think Thoyer sees this as a small opportunity to further figure out the situation.
Duensing’s not injured. He threw two perfect frames yesterday (ten pitches, 2 K). He missed a couple weeks in early March as a precaution due to a sore back, but he’s healthy now. The Cubs FO basically “created” this opportunity to bide time for Szczur, essentially using the DL to “option” Duensing to the Minors (for up to 30 days) until there’s room for him on the MLB roster. Or, the FO may play musical chairs, activating Duensing after a week or two and optioning La Stella to Iowa for a brief spell. Eventually, “things will take care of themselves” via an injury, trade, or underperformance.
Can you point out where you predicted the Duensing injury (or “injury” if you want) allowing that to happen?
No need to predict an injury, even a “faking dog” one like the disabling of Duensing. The fact remains the early season schedule made it nonsensical for the Cubs to go with a 13-man pitching staff, and this with the knowledge that few managers in MLB tax one like Joe Maddon. His incessant need to over-manage games and yank starting pitchers too early has regularly put undue strain on his bullpens (and front offices) over the years.
Yes, and going along with your excellent logic, Maddon’s woeful record of underachieving speaks for itself!
To wit: No success with Tampa. Put the Cubs in a tailspin. Will certainly be fired by July for using his players the wrong way…..
Plus they all hate him and are flocking to leave the team.
Thanks for the clarity, NostradamuSapoznik !!!
Pretty sure he commented on bullpen usage and you made up the rest. It’s fun to fight a straw man, huh?
With legions of mindless fanboys backing him up online, I don’t think Maddon has much to worry about
i think his job’s safe more for the world series ring he just won than his fanboys….
The Cubs slick 26-man roster management continues. (New CBA be damned!) With the DL minimum decreased to 10 days, the Cubs could have a field day this year. Still, it’s good to see Szczur remain a Cub, bad faith roster management aside.
Have a feeling cubs wont be the only team to do things like this as the season goes on. Question will be if the league gaf.
It’s only 10 days minimum now? I can see lots of teams giving guys 10 day breaks all season long.
The weird cadre of anti-fans the Pirates have had spent all winter painting the narrative that no matter how bad Hutchison was the Pirates would give him the job because he makes money or to justify the Liriano trade, etc.
Now, it’s “how can the Pirates contend if they don’t know who their 5th starter is….”
That’s make or break, huh? It’s a very odd culture with the buzzards that circle around this team.
Anyway, Trevor Williams has done well and deserves a shot. Nick Kingham should be ready by midseason. Brault is a decent pitcher.
The goal is to make Glasnow into a TOR arm, not a 5th starter. He needs to fix the holes in his game. AAA is where you do that. Keep him down there until he’s ready, not until he’s better than some journeyman.
What will rc21pa have to rant about, now that Hutchison is out of the 5th starter spot?
At least Nutting and Huntington finally took rc21pa’s keen advice…..
The narrative has changed from “the Pirates are so cheap, they are going to force Hutchison into the rotation because they own him millions” to “the Pirates are so stupid, they wasted $3 million”.
Although, now that I realize it was to keep LeBlanc or Schugel, calling them stupid for cutting Hughes seems warranted.
Part of that is also because Webb is forcing his way into the pen. It will interesting to see if the Bucs can actually use him rather than the usual path of bury the rule 5 guy deep in the pen and bring him out for mop up duty.
I’m with you on Webb. Sucks having so many lefties in the pen though… with no lefty starters maybe it evens out in some situations.
hahaha i read, “make Glasnow into a TOR arm,” and I thought you where talking about trading him to the Blue Jays… hey who knows maybe we could get Reese back 🙂 (sarcasm btw)
In case others haven’t had their coffee yet and had the same first thought … he means top of the rotation.
But yeah i generally agree…. Glasnow has the ability to be a top of the rotation guy. He looked better in his last couple starts… I’d probably keep him down at least for a game or two to see if that improvment is real. Put Williams in the pen until they need a 5th starter
Maybe Mike Matheney hasn’t, but the Cardinal organization has given Wong every opportunity, support and a big contract to help boost him. Mo has especially gone beyond his means to give Wong support, money and expressed confidence in his potential. Fact is, Wong is not and has not been a consistent hitter. Below average at best. His defense? Probably above average unless he over runs a ball or is hurried. His base running is marginal at best. Gets picked off too much which is inexcusable! Too many mental mistakes. Personally, I’m tired of hearing his whining and telling everybody how good he is. He’s got to show he can be a contact hitter and cut back his mental mistakes before he can be a starter. Right now he’s a vocal cancer to himself and the Cardinals!!!
Same as always. Poor ownership. Always cutting salary to stay below mlb average salary. A GM that doesn’t evaluate their minor league talent enough to weed out poor prospects with high trade value to use as trade bait. Owners that care more about bobble heads, fireworks, and jam nights (although I’m thinking Chicago night looks promising) then the product on the field. And of course my all time favorite for all the fans, MLB is so broken that it needs a salary cap so everyone can be in on all the free agents instead of just the hand full of rich teams. Although I do find it funny on net worth Bob Nutting ranks 5th on all MLB owners yet bottom half that never cracked 100 million on team salary yet.
Don’t worry still have plenty.
I am confused. How can a “poor prospect” have “high trade value?” Will not teams who might be trading partners for these “poor” prospects have scouted them and thus be aware of their poorness and resultant lack of “high trade value”? O do the Pirates possess some hidden technique to blind otherwise diligent observers of the game into overvaluing our “poor” prospects? Just wondering.
Wong is No plus defender. He had botched many a double play… he may have the tools but he has to use them. Stl has given him lots of opportunity….
Basically they should have a understanding of which ones are most likely going to make the roster and which ones are not. They should trade what they are not going to use or feel like are going to be busts and get players that help.
I think Wong should put up or shut up too .
He’ll make great plays but a great player doesn’t have to do that all the time. All the great infielders Ozzie Smith, Tommy Herr were consistent and made the everyday play look easy. Wong doesn’t do that and I’ve , never felt he was the second baseman of the future for the Cardinals.