I don’t really have very many thoughts about it, much less a hot take for you all to consume. Ecker is only 32 years old, which seems really young for “assistant hitting coach,” but on the other hand, I don’t really have any perspective on what the normal age for a job like that is. Nor do I think hiring a young guy is inherently bad, it just stuck out to me as I did a little searching on Donnie Ecker. Tony Jaramillo served in the role under Don Long, and only now 40, so it’s probably not a huge outlier at all.
Much more importantly than the age of the two is some impressions that David Bell passed on about the two men, courtesy of Jon Fay in yesterday’s Enquirer.
The quote that stood out to me, about Ecker:
“I met him originally when he was with the Cardinals,” Bell said. “I’ve learned a ton from him. I was looking for the right combination with Turner. Donnie has a really good understanding of the swing from a data standpoint. He’s great with mechanics. He can take information from an analytics side and understanding the mechanics of the swing and being able to communicate and tie that all together.”
I don’t know enough about Don Long and Tony Jaramillo to give much insight on how they tackled the hitting approach of the Reds. But, I think the above is certainly a trend in the right direction for the entire coaching staff. It’s not even the nerd-blogger in me that’s drooling all over the “data” derived stuff. It’s the inherent understanding of it and the ability to communicate what it means in the real world that I think is a very important quality.
It’s a wholehearted shift, if not outright rebuke, of the “swing the bat, meat!” era of Reds instruction that I believe has to be good for overall organizational health moving forward. If these are the types of qualities that David Bell is looking for in his coaching staff, I think they’ll be in good hands.
In Reds-adjacent news, the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners engaged in a pretty meaningful swap of personnel yesterday evening. The Mariners will send staff ace James Paxton to New York in exchange for a trio of prospects, including top prospect Justus Sheffield.
Paxton’s was a name at the forefront of Reds fan’s wishlists as it became more and more apparent that the Mariners were going to, perhaps, maybe, finally enter some sort of rebuild period going into 2019, instead of continuing in their somewhat constant languish as always decent but never really good. Paxton, 30, fits the bill as a front line starter that the Reds desperately need and, if he was going to be truly available, then of course the Reds needed to be checking in.
The other side of that is fairly simple; Paxton, as great as he is, is “already” 30-years-old, is only under contract for two more seasons, and has only pitched over 150 innings in any season once (the most previous one, where he pitched 160.1 IP). He pitched only 41 innings in the final two and a half months of the 2018 campaign (3.95 ERA).
Justus Sheffield, meanwhile, was a top 50 prospect going into the 2018 season, and then spent 116 innings across AA and AAA firing 2.48 ERA ball, mostly in Scranton/Wilkes-Barr AAA. He’s 22, basically ready now (though I’m not sure the Mariners have any reason to start his service clock in a meaningful way right now), and all the way up to the upper-30s on MLB.com’s prospect rankings.
This is all to say: if this was the asking price for Paxton, the Reds never stood a chance. Especially if the price was going to be that type of pitching prospect all along. I think one thing is immediately obvious: the Reds don’t have a pitching prospect on the same level of Justus Sheffield or Forrest Whitley, at least not one that combines the readiness and talent of the two. Say what you will about Hunter Greene and his upside, but if the Ms are going to insist on Forrest Whitley and, eventually, trade for Sheffield, they’re probably not all that interested in Greene right now.
An arm like Paxton is a huge need for the Reds. But it doesn’t seem like the price nor the ask was something the Reds could ever match.
Speaking of prospect prices, John Sickels over at Minor League Ball is beginning to take a look at his preliminary Reds top prospect list, which he has a full listing of here. Anyone missing?
Speaking of the Yankees, their former manager opened up about withdrawing from the Reds managerial opening, despite reportedly being their favorite. He apparently had “good interviews” with both the Reds and Rangers, but decided he was going to broadcast another year and also take advantage of spending time with his family, something he didn’t get to do a lot of in his decade long stint as Yankees manager.
There’s not much here, other than him paying lip-service to “it just wasn’t the right time” and “I want to spend time with my family.” Which all may very well be true, but he’s very certainly wanting to keep himself available to the possible Cubs managerial opening in 2020.