During Thanksgiving there are always things people are thankful for. Their families, jobs, friendships or even their sports teams. Well this year, Reds fans should be especially thankful for Dick Williams and Nick Krall. While they are not perfect, having done some questionable things, their goal of making this team relevant again is working. That is not something that has been said about the Reds in many years.
One of the biggest things that Reds fans have wanted for so many years is for the team to make moves. Seemingly year after year the Reds would make small moves or overly calculated ones that would do nothing. Whether a trade or a free agent signing, the management group of the Reds always played things safe. The biggest moves they had made in recent memory were for Mat Latos in a trade and signing Francisco Cordero. This team is a mid to small market team but, still if those are the only major moves made in nearly two decades then that is a problem.
Also when looking back it seemed as though the Reds were unwilling to make moves even when losing. Selling pieces at a good time has always been a challenge. Getting what they are worth was even a challenge. Think about the Jay Bruce trade; Dilson (Deeelson) Herrera is still not in the league. Or Chapman, Rookie Davis tried, right?
Looking back, since Dick Williams and Nick Krall have had the reigns this team has already made some impressive moves. They were able to turn Homer Bailey, and some decent prospects, into Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and of course Yasiel Puig. While Kemp was useless, so would have been Homer. Wood was sadly hurt, Farmer was a solid addition and Puig was not only fun for the fans but he brought a winning mentality and helped to get Trevor Bauer. Which is something else worth noting. Yes, losing a top prospect hurt but getting a top of the line pitcher like Bauer, during a losing season, shows that this team is always looking to improve.
The most important and best move that the Williams and Krall era has had so far though, came only a month after they got started. Trading Dan Straily for Luis Castillo is already a top-five move in Reds history. This is what fans should expect from these two though. They sift through the MLB waters and take opportunities where they see them. Sure they have missed on some but so has every group. The fact is when it comes to making moves, Williams and Krall are seemingly ahead of the curve, instead of always being behind like past management groups.
A Change in Mentality
While this team has mired through the bottom of the league for a long time, it has still felt like there was a purpose since Williams and Krall took over. Or maybe more of a sense of direction. With a clear plan in place, it seems as though Reds fans have been asking fewer questions along the lines of “what are we doing?” This team is analytically driven, aggressive and constantly striving to do better. In a town that has had little hope for so long, this change in mentality is a welcome one.
It has started with some of the moves mentioned above and also possibly the most controversial one so far, hiring David Bell. While he definitely had plenty of head-scratching moments in his first season as a head coach, he has also done things Reds fans are rarely used to, made changes. Starting with his staff he brought in the hottest pitching coach in all of baseball, Derek Johnson. Then the smart move to bring in Turner Ward to pair with Puig and see if his system could help the Reds long term. It didn’t and Williams, Krall and Bell all agreed to let Ward go. This also goes with the lineup. He moved his players around and while he has still yet to find the right fit, he is definitely willing to try and find what works instead of sitting on one mindset.
Williams and Krall have also brought in a total mentality change in terms of technology. For so long the Reds have been old school and resistant to change. Now they are considered to be one of the most forward-thinking and analytical teams in baseball. With their hire of Drive-Line pitching guru Kyle Boddy this was cemented. He says that he liked what the team was doing after fielding many offers and then chose the Reds. How many times has that happened in the past? Combining him with the already analytically driven pitching the Reds have, lead by Johnson, this team could be one of the best pitching organizations in the league for quite a while.
The Reds have clearly overhauled their thinking as an organization and the effects of this are already taking place. Changes like these are not seen overnight but, as the 2020 season comes, it is clear that they are starting to show in a big way.
Time to be Thankful
The collective mindset of many Cincinnati sports fans is always waiting and wanting people to prove it. Even when they do, it is still hard to get the collective out of this funk. If there is a group of people that can do it, then it is Williams and Krall. The last two offseasons they have said they will make moves and be aggressive. The offseason leading to the 2019 season was just a preview. Now the Reds are one of the most talked-about teams heading into the 2020 season with Williams saying that they will be making moves to be competitive. The best part about this is that he does not seem to mean competitive in just winning games but instead in winning a title. Something that this city has not seen at the pro level since 1990.
So yes, it is time for Reds fans to be thankful for Dick Williams and Nick Krall. Be thankful that they aren’t like the Bengals. Be thankful that they are serious about winning. That they are willing to make moves. That finally, this team seems to be ahead of the curve. And most importantly, be thankful that they actually care. This Reds season will hopefully be one to remember and if not, at least fans should be thankful that Williams and Krall are doing seemingly everything they can to make it one.
“From Our Haus to Yours”