Rob Fidler has been the Cincinnati Reds’ Manager of Pacific Rim Scouting since Dick Williams took over the team’s General Manager role and finally, finally began to branch out scouting efforts overseas. Japan, specifically, had been deemed a locale “too expensive” for a dedicated scout under former GM Walt Jocketty, as The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans relayed back in 2015 when detailing how the Reds were the lone team in MLB who had never had a Japanese player.
Of course, the Reds had a rather high profile pursuit of Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani earlier this winter, one that while ultimately fruitless showed a more concrete interest in adding players from one of the world’s most active markets. Still, missing out on Ohtani left the Reds still as the lone club to never have a Japanese player in their dugout.
It would’ve taken a series of moves to have even a chance of materializing, but it seems as if there was at least a chance that the first Japanese player to suit up for the Reds might well be the greatest to have ever emerged from their country. As MLB.com’s Barry Bloom reported this week, the agent for Ichiro Suzuki had been in contacted with the Reds, on the off-chance they were in the market for some outfield help in the wake of a potential Billy Hamilton trade. Ichiro is 44 at this point, of course, and while the lack of movement in the Cincinnati outfield means this scenario is about as far-fetched as we can fathom at the moment, it’s at least an example of how the dominoes might well fall quickly if the logjam at the top of the market ever, ever breaks this winter.
Not to mention, seeing Ichiro and Joey Votto in the same dugout sending each other donuts and pizzas everyday would just be the best damn thing ever.
In other news, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon caught up with manager Bryan Price to talk pitching, and it appears that the early word on the walking wounded options for the rotation is a good one - for now. The rehabs of Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan appear to be on-schedule for them to be full participants come spring training, and Homer Bailey has finally had a healthy offseason to get himself in game shape. You don’t need me to harp on how important it is for a team to have 3/5th of their expected starting rotation to be actually, y’know, healthy, but that’s what the Reds are again banking on from these three in 2018. Two things do jump out at me in Sheldon’s article, though - that Michael Lorenzen still looks likely to get a legit shot at a rotation spot, and this specific mystery we’re left to try to figure out:
During the Winter Meetings, Price said he identified two starting pitchers that would likely be used in bullpen roles. This week, he kept their names withheld.
Was Cody Reed still considered ‘starting pitcher’ enough to be one of these two, or did his relief role for most of 2018 already render that moot? Jackson Stephens, maybe? Rookie Davis, despite injury? Perhaps even Amir Garrett given his dwindling number of options? Hmm...
Over at FanGraphs, Andrew Perpetua looked at the drag coefficients for the balls used in minor league play, and it’s an interesting study. As he notes at the end, he’s not yet had a chance to run a comparison with the balls that MLB has been using in the most recent two seasons, seasons that have seen balls fly out of big league parks at astonishing rates. It’s hard not to suppose, though, that there’s now an ever-widening gap between the two at the moment, one that if continues might make the fortunes of ‘doubles power’ guys like Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel that much more glorious once they finally get full-time at the MLB level.
Finally, Grant Brisbee is funny. Read Grant Brisbee. Read Grant Brisbee’s URLs, too.