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Bryan Price: Threat to the Working Man

How much work is too much work?

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds
this fastball fights
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Price gave an anodyne interview to Zach Buchanan during the Winter Meetings. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

This time around, Price was arguing that minor league pitchers need to throw more in the minors so they’re ready come the big show.

We have pitchers that come through our system that throw bullpen sides of 25 to 30 pitches when we get them, and I would like to see them have a bigger workload on their side days.

There is a decent amount of logic to this. The best way to train for a 10k, after all, is to run a few miles.

But when Price, noted College Goer, speaks economics he kind of loses me.

But we pay these guys a lot of money to play baseball and as a starting pitcher, you're going to make eight or ten or twelve or twenty million (dollars). You better be out in the game a lot.

First off: the only pitcher on the Reds receiving a seven-figure salary this year is Homer Bailey. The only guys with signing bonuses in that range are Brandon Finnegan, Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias. Three of those guys were rushed to the majors, and the fourth has had multiple arm surgeries.

Price goes out of his way to knock DeSclafani and Caleb Cotham as two dudes who could have thrown more in the minors. They are easy targets for him: grinders who seemingly need to work their way up, not God-given arms like Iggie or Finny.

Which is the catch: a late-round pick gets an arm injury and he’s pretty much done. You know what happens to Tim Adleman if he got overworked in AA Pensacola? He goes back into healthcare management, becoming an Excel jockey for some startup in Madison, Wisconsin.

This is very good for Bryan Price: the weak get winnowed out and the strong can pitch 50 or 60 innings and help Price get job security.

This is very bad for Reds pitchers: Price admits that there’s no correlation between working harder and arm durability (DOES ANYTHING CORRELATE WITH ARM DURABILITY?). He’s basically breaking dreams based on some crackpot middle management theory. Michael Lorenzen will be fine. Tim Adleman? Not so much.

It is also very bad for Reds fans and the Reds organization: it gets rid of potential big leaguers. This stinks for us because potential big leaguers are the best kind of big leaguers when the org is on the downswing. You never know where the Johnnies Cueto are going to come from.

In addition, even if you subscribe to the whole “players are just assets and I root for a revenue stream that sometimes plays baseball” logic, this is a good way to hurt Reds assets: nobody trades for injured pitchers.

Pitchers get hurt all the time, without rhyme or reason. So why try and hurt more? It’s self-aggrandizing logic, asserted as science. Be a fan of people, as a Reds fan. Not of managers.