Leave ‘em in the Oven

From MLB.com:

Reds don’t want to rush Bailey, Bruce:Pitcher, outfielder developing, growing at Triple-A Louisville
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

CINCINNATI — Two-fifths of the Reds’ rotation hasn’t been getting it done. The offense has sputtered as some hitters have been slow to heat up.

Help is only a phone call away at Triple-A Louisville, where the organization’s top two prospects — pitcher Homer Bailey and outfielder Jay Bruce — just happen to be flourishing.

Manager Dusty Baker said on Thursday that promoting Bailey and Bruce was a consideration, but indicated it wasn’t the preferred one yet.

“The thing about it, though, is you don’t want to stunt their progress and growth,” Baker said. “It’s very tempting to think only of today vs. thinking what’s right for them and us in the long run, for years to come. A month can be worth years in terms of experience and confidence.”

I’m a fan of leaving guys in the minors. It conserves service time, and it gives players time to work on performance in a competitive environment without harming the big-league club. Now, it’s hard to know this, but I feel that the Braves have been too quick to bring guys up. Jeff Francoeur could have worked on pitch identification and stealing bases. Kyle Davies could have gained better command of his pitches. Maybe there is something to be gained from big-league experience at a young age, but I often wonder if these guys could have harnessed their natural abilities to a greater degree with a little more practice.

Like I said, we don’t have any way of knowing when is the optimal time to bring guys up, but I like the Reds approach, especially considering the state of the ballclub.

7 Responses “Leave ‘em in the Oven”

  1. Frenchy says:

    Sure, Schuerholz probably agrees he brought up Francoeur/Davies earlier than was optimal from a baseball talent standpoint. But these were business decisions. Thanks to Time Warner’s mangnanimity, we started the season with two spring chickens named Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi in the outfield. And Time Warner was too cheap to replace Thomson/Hampton when they got hurt in 05.

    So in effect, what Schuerholz did was borrow from the future (ie, give up control of Francoeur/Davies in 2012) in exchange for sub-optimal use of the two players in the summer of 05.

    Given that a team controls a player for only six years and has to pay market wages thereafter, I guess the optimal time to bring up a player would be such that these six years coincide with the peak of the player’s career. For most players, that would be roughly ages 27-32.

    I wonder what would be the effect of a rule change that delays free agency eligibility (say, teams control their players for 7 or 8 years). This might actually induce GMs to bring up prospects earlier, since they know they can control the player longer. This means that prospects would start earning a major league salary earlier than they currently do.

    So I’d guess the 6-year rule actually takes income away from AAA prospects (whose promotion to the parent club is delayed) and benefits MLB veterans (who benefit from the artificial decrease in the supply of players).

  2. David says:

    I still don’t trust Dusty Baker with young pitchers. So I’d watch out for Cuento in years to come, and I feel good about Homer Bailey right about now.

  3. K-Funk says:

    I don’t think Francoeur was hurting the Braves when he hit .300 his rookie year.

    Granted, he struggled in his 2nd season, but is there any reason to think his plate discipline would have been any better if he had stayed in the minors?

  4. Kyle James says:

    Funny you mention the Braves players because I’m watching Brent Lillibridge’s second at bat of his major league career as he was called up to play for an injuried Escobar today.

  5. Greyson says:

    You hit the nail on the head with “considering the state of the ballclub.”

    As for Frenchy, I think considering the state of the ballclub they brought him on at a great time. It MAY have slowed his baseball performance for a year or two, but it definitely gave him an experience that should pay off down the road. If they had kept him down until the next year he still would’ve never really played playoff intensity games and gained an understanding of a pennant stretch run. You might have a better point with Davies, but the likelihood is that he was always going to give you youthful inconsistencies, and we sure used the good starts at the right time.

  6. Ken Houghton says:

    What Greyson Said. The Braves were contenders when they brought up some help. (Did Francoeur not play winter ball between Seasons 1 and 2?)

    The Reds, even in that division, aren’t likely to win it, and even second place there will not be a Wild Card contender.

    Besides, as noted above, the longer any good, young pitcher can be kept out of Dusty Baker’s managerial hands, the better for his long-term value.

  7. Sal Paradise says:

    As far as the business standpoint, I’d think that for hitters it would be a bit before the 27-32 range. As much as AAA is comparable to the majors, it’s a lower level, and there will be some adjustment.

    However, from a development standpoint, I think it’s entirely dependent on the player. Much like learners, I’m sure that some do better through coaching and drills, some do better through screwing up in real games and learning not to make the same mistake again, and some learn from theory and study (along the lines of Bannister, perhaps).

    If a player isn’t listening to his coaches, then I think getting blown away by big league pitching and sent back down may actually help teach the player, and if they succeed then they probably belong in the majors anyway.

    There is no ‘one size fits all’ for baseball management, I’d assume.