***UPDATE: C. Trent Rosecrans has posted the podcast of the event. You can listen to the show here.***
Last night, a contingent of Red Reporters attended C. Trent Rosecrans' event at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Rosecrans was joined by co-host and comedian Josh Sneed as well as the Reds' director of baseball research, Sam Grossman. Sneed and Rosecrans spent the first portion of the program talking baseball with Grossman. The trio touched on a range of topics, from general baseball philosophies to Grossman's day-to-day activities with the team to recent transactions across the game of baseball. After a brief intermission, Rosecrans opened up the discussion to crowd, allowing members of the audience to ask questions.
Brandon (BK), Kerry (AC Slider), and I arrived at MOTR right as the program was starting. There were already enough people to occupy most of the room, so we grabbed seats at the back. We were lucky though as even more people showed up as the night went on, leaving attendees lining the walls and clumped together at the entrance. Rosecrans opened the program up by describing Grossman as the Jonah Hill character from Moneyball. Grossman has a degree in mathematics from Northwestern University and worked as an actuary before pursuing a career in baseball. He had internships with the Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, and a team in the New York-Penn League before latching on with the Reds. Grossman stated that his job involves a variety of activities and functions. His focus seems to be on developing and improving the team's various models for player valuation and projections. The complexity of this task means that he must stay abreast of all the latest baseball analysis in addition to performing his own research.
Grossman expressed his opinions on in-game tactics as well as overarching strategies. He believes that strikeout rate is a key driver of success for pitchers. For batters, he looks at their ability to avoid striking out and hit line drives. Tactically, he doesn't mind the proper use of a bunt, but believes that a bunt in the first inning with your leadoff hitter on first base is not a wise use of an out. With regards to fielding, Grossman touched on the valuable information that FIELDf/x provides front offices across baseball. Teams can measure the velocity, hangtime, and landing location of batted balls while also tracking the distance covered by the fielder and how much time it took the fielder to get from his initial position to the ball.
Scott (FordhamRam) joined us for the second part of the event. Frankly, I wasn't sure what to expect for the question-and-answer portion of the program. Would the audience ask thought-provoking questions? Would Grossman answer them honestly without simply recusing himself? The answer to both questions was a resounding yes. The quality of the questions was consistently high. People asked about specific players, team practices, and the operation of a baseball research staff. Grossman did tread lightly on a couple of questions (for obvious reason), but always provided an answer, even mentioning particular players and transactions. He explained why he liked players like Miguel Cairo -- Grossman believes that versatility is still an undervalued skill -- and mentioned several minor leaguers for which he has high hopes by name.
One great thing about this segment was that Grossman took the time to answer as many questions as possible AND to answer them thoroughly. Kerry asked if the coaches requested certain data for reports or if the research staff has a say in what should go in the reports. Grossman responded that some of the coaches are looking for specific data while other coaches and players want as much information as possible including whatever the research staff feels is appropriate. I asked Grossman how much earlier his staff learns of research developments than we do as fans. He responded that sometimes he knows of new research or information months before we do, but that there are also times where outside research truly breaks new ground.
After the event had concluded, we went up front to talk with Angel Rodriguez who is the sports editor for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He thanked us for coming out to the talk. In our conversation, he stated that there is not a newspapers-versus-blogs debate as some might believe, which reminded us of the false dichotomy of the stats-versus-scouts war. We also caught up with C. Trent Rosecrans as he was headed out. He easily could have said a quick "hi and bye," but he was gracious enough to talk with Rodriguez and us for close to fifteen minutes. Rosecrans and Rodriguez could not have been nicer to us. Kerry and Brandon had the opportunity to talk to Sam Grossman as well, and I'm sure they can fill you in on that conversation. (I was upstairs grabbing drinks with Scott and Bryan (-ManBearPig -- he joined us after the event)).
Luckily, Rosecrans recorded most of the event, which will be made available as a podcast. As soon as we find out where to download the podcast, we will post the link here. Rosecrans is planning on making these talks a monthly event with December's scheduled for Tuesday the 17th. He also announced that Red Reporter favorite Sam LeCure will be his guest at the next chat. I suspect that a group of Red Reporters will again be in attendance, and we look forward to seeing you there.
Thank you, C. Trent Rosecrans, Josh Sneed, and Sam Grossman for putting together a great event for baseball fans.