At the annual affiliate’s luncheon at the Cincinnati Red’s Great American Ball Park, club owner Bob Castellini, GM Walt Jocketty and other members of the Reds staff answered questions about the teams’ upcoming season.
Chief among the questions was the Red’s stability into the season.
When asked about the commitment to winning in 2016, Jocketty had this to say:
“We are definitely committed. These decisions we made this past year were not easy. Trading Quetos and Leak…trading Chapman and Frazier were the toughest calls. What we’re trying to do is…looking at the division as it stands today. St. Louis has been on top for quite a while. The Cubs are emerging now with the young players they have…they were down for quite a while. We’re drafting second in the country. So we’re going to get some really quality draft picks.”
Jocketty went on to talk about how the Reds fit in the league with other teams:
“The Pirates have been continually been getting better. We thought it was best to take a step back and ty to rebuild this franchise with depth and as Jeff [Brantley] mentioned, we had some guys this year who stood out. It will take 3-4 years to get them to the threshold.”
Asked about the Reds strengths, Jocketty said:
“Our strength has been pitching, but we have some position players that were close to major leagues. We’re very committed to winning. I can assure you Mr. Castellini is very much committed to winning. That’s why we’re increasing our scouting and player development staffs. We’re really focusing on developing a core unit like we had in 2010 and through those years we were successful.”
Jocketty also fielded a question about the young players in the organization:
“We are going to develop from within. We can’t afford to go out and sign a lot of free agents. I’m excited about the guys we’re going to see in spring training. I can’t tell you who is going to play a certain position because I don’t know. They are going to be eager and anxious to show us what they can do.”
Jocketty, who will be replaced by new General Manager Dick Williams next season, said the Reds are working on training sessions for the new staff and just completed a session with picthers.
“Two weeks ago we had a pitching summit. We brought all the young starters from last year and some of the top young pitchers we have in the organization…who we think can pitch in Cincy. We had Bryan Price….our pitching coordinator…myself, Dick Williams was there. We also had Bob Rotella, our mental skills coach….he facilitated the meetings. What we focused on…..Homer was the veteran there…He stepped in and gave his input on what it’s like to be a Cincinnati Red. We’re building confidence, setting goals, letting them know what they have to do to be successful. Terrific three days. We told them…you guys are the ones who will have to lead this team in the future. They were so proud….so proud to be a part of the foundation we’re started. We’re going to try to do this with the hitters and young position players. Those are the type of things we’re working on to try and rebuild the organization to bring it back to championship level.”
Jocketty was asked about more trades.
“We will wait for spring training. There are a lot of free agents out there. We’re not really in that market.One thing we’ll keep looking at is how to improve the bullpen.”
Bob Castelllini was asked about adding Pete Rose to the Red’s Hall of Fame.
“Pete Rose. He’s our modern day Tye Cobb…with some baggage. He’s one of the greatest players to ever play for the Cincinnati Reds. One of the real secrets to Pete’s influence on the game was wherever he played, he made the players play better. He even made the competitor’s play better. I felt the commissioner gave full service to reinstating him…i thought his analysis was from the heart. Both those fellows have told me they appreciated each other. But it is what it is.
Would the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ever reinstate Rose?
Castellini said, “I know there is still a possibility the [MLB] Hall of Fame could change their direction and allow Pete to be up for a vote. But when you get on balance….you look at this fellow and that he was one of the greatest players we ever had. We felt it was right and just to immediately put him up for a vote in our hall of fame. and it was unanimous.
i’m proud that we did it and proud of pete for standing up like a man and saying ‘I made my mistakes — I love baseball and i love the Cincinnati Reds’.
He said right over here [the other day] ‘This is the greatest baseball day of my life’ I hope that’s the same for our fans.”
With the 2nd Round MLB Draft Pick this year, have the Reds singled anyone out?
Jeff Graupe, Director of Player Development answered, “Not yet. It’s still early in the process. Chris Buckley and his staff have been working on this for quite a while. Probably in the next two months you’ll hear things.”
Who will be the team to beat in this division in 2016?
Jocketty answered, “The Cubs. With their young players….they probably have a leg up.”
Will Cozart be ready to play?
Jocketty answered: “My understanding – I haven’t seen him sense Reds Fest….He’s right on track. Until he gets out on the field, we won’t know for sure. I fully expect he’ll be ready and 100 percent by the start of the season. He had a pretty nasty injury but we expect him to be back.”
When asked about Former Reds Manager Lou Piniella returning to the Reds in some manner?
Jocketty had this to say: “That’s correct. Hopefully we’ll be able to announce something in the near future. He’ll be able to come back in some capacity. He came to Reds Fest. He was here and enjoyed it. He’s a Red.”
Castellini had this to say:
[Piniella] had the good fortune of having Bryan be his pitching coach in Seattle. They’re very close. There is a good possibility he will come join us for a little bit in spring training and maybe come half a dozen times a year.
I’m particularly interested in his interface with Bryan and how they think of each other…how he and Bryan interact. This is going to be a year of young pitchrs. They are going to make or break us out of the gate. And it’s up to Bryan and his staff to develop them. Lou’s been through this before with Bryan. i love the guy.”