The Cincinnati Reds have made a whole lot of changes when it comes to their development team at the minor league level in the last four years. The latest changes were made yesterday when the team parted ways – in season – with Hitting Coordinator C.J. Gillman and Director of Pitching Kyle Boddy. Let’s take a quick look back at how things have progressed since 2018:

Two different positions were added since 2018. With that said, the Senior Director of Player Development role has been vacant since Eric Lee left the job in June. While the season is coming to an end this week (though Louisville will be playing until early October and instructional league also begins at the end of this month), half of the jobs that were fill at or near the top of the minor league development food chain are now vacant and were gigs that ended during the season. No matter what the reason for any of those are – it’s not good. At all.

Both Kyle Boddy and C.J. Gillman were hired when Dick Williams was still the President of Baseball Operations. Boddy, in his announcement that he had parted ways with the team, specifically thanked both Williams and Eric Lee for “taking a chance at moving the Reds Player Development department in a new direction – both were instrumental in effecting enormous change”.

Both Dick Williams and Eric Lee have left the organization in the last year. On their own. They were not fired. Both Boddy and Gillman noted in their “parting ways” statements that the organization is going in a different direction of development. That can mean a lot of things. But it seems incredibly clear that the front office under Dick Williams and the front office under Nick Krall see things quite differently. Boddy and Gillman were hired prior to the 2020 season, but that season never actually happened. While spring training did begin, it didn’t get very far and then pretty much all of the teaching/developing was done remotely, hands off. That means that the Reds didn’t even give these two guys a full season before deciding that this wasn’t the way they wanted to go.

This is basically the second time in three seasons that the Cincinnati Reds have essentially turned over their entire development team. It happened after 2018. And it’s happened again now. In the middle of that the organization also gutted and replaced many of their managers and hitting/pitching coaches throughout the organization, too.

It’s going to take a long time to sort all of this out. Was it the right move? The wrong move? We may never actually know. Development is such a difficult thing on it’s own. Trying to assign the success or failure to one or two people is probably a fool’s errand. How would one actually do that? Players spend years in the minor leagues working with how many people along the way? How many people do they work with throughout the offseasons as they work their way up? There are so many variables that it just seems an impossible task.

What we do know is that whoever is calling the shots, and it would seem to be Nick Krall given the whole thing where both guys mentioned the direction of the previous leadership and or Dick Williams by name and then stated the organization was going in a different direction, thinks that this isn’t the way. It’s the second or third time that the philosophy of development has changed within the organization since Hunter Greene was drafted.

Continuity for the sake of continuity is dumb. If it’s not working, sticking with it just to keep continuity makes zero sense. We know that, for the most part, what was happening prior to the last big set of changes wasn’t working. It’s tough to say that this wasn’t working, at least from the outside. As noted above – they didn’t even get a full season of work in of minor league baseball. But it seems that the organization that won’t spend enough money in free agency to play with the big boys needs to be able to out develop the big boys if they want to compete, and over the last handful of years they haven’t been able to make up their mind at all as to how they plan to do that.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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17 Responses

  1. Tom

    Happy for TJ Friedl. Was wondering if/when he’d ever play for the Reds. Hope he makes an Akiyama release more likely over the winter. Akiyama needs to play every day somewhere like Miami or Pittsburgh. Maybe a salary dump trade could work.

  2. DaveCT

    This is stunning and unbelievably disheartening let alone bizarre in its timing — during a wildcard chase. How bad was this it couldn’t wait a few weeks?

    Earlier this year, Nick Castellanos talked about giving the fans an authentic experience, and I thought about how this guy completely understands culture, of how players and teams ought to be.

    Yet what are fans, players, coaches, the manager, trainers, scouts, and the fans again supposed to think? Did I mention the fans?

    Yes, injuries have gutted the team at times. Losing all three CF we started with is pretty impressive, hence DeShields and now Friedl starting. But this team was gutted early on by incompetence. No SS. No bullpen. No help until much later for the bullpen. And now player development is abject ruins.

    And not just any player development — the cutting edge Kyle Boddy himself, one of the best marketing moves for attracting talent we can think of. Just mind boggling.

    • Chris

      The reality is, the average Reds fan has not idea about these moves nor cares. That’s just reality. Many of us care, but that’s because we are diehard baseball fans as well as Reds fans as a whole. This is a NON issue unless they eek out as being bad decisions based on results. As Doug mentioned though, we may never know.

  3. LDS

    I’m not sure these changes are actually a bad thing. Maybe the FO is actually looking for performance/results. I can dream can’t I? On the other hand, it also feels like the new GM purging those loyal to the old GM. Who knows? Despite Boddy reputation, as the injuries have pilled up, I wondered about his method’s general applicability. The offseason actions will present some clarity – hopefully. We’ll see.

    • DaveCT

      I get that. Time will tell as the story leaks out. I don’t any of this is one way or the other.

      But injuries are rampant everywhere, so that’s largely covid and 2020 related. Also, I’m encouraged by the pitching performances in the minors this year, whether those results arrive via Boddy or not, or how much. I have zero confidence in Krall, however. Or ownership.

      Plus it is not only really bad optics to fire the industry leader in pitching innovation, in this way, it is also poor marketing for both fans and to players. alike. Who wants to play for a Jeffrey Loiria team with special expertise in chaos and ineptitude. Who wants to buy those tickets? This administration completely lacks leadership.

    • Mike Hill

      have you even looked at the minor league pitching performances??? explain carson spiers or daniel duarte then

  4. Optimist

    A couple of thoughts.

    1 – Dick Williams is a future owner, if not already a very fractional limited partner. I’d question most questions about his roles especially involving the managing partner.

    2 – there are also the distinctions between personality and philosophy. Boddy and Lee were impressively non-traditional hires, and if the “different direction” means a different philosophy, that’s very different from more mundane personality clashes or management competency.

    3 – the replacement hires should clarify these issues.

    • Jessie Wrinkler

      Pitching Coach Derek Johnson, Pitching Coordinator Bryan Conger and Shawn Pender (Vice President of Player Development) are the key figures here. How well did they work with Boddy? Were they all on the same page in setting overall pitching direction for the organization? Maybe Boddy clashed with some or all of these guys. Who knows?

      Finances surely have a lot to do with this as well. Or, as Optimist noted, this may be more about “mundane personality clashes or management competency” than a shift away from analytics, and “the replacement hires should clarify these issues.”

      From Friday’s Charlie Goldsmith piece on Cincinnati.com, it sounds like Johnson intends to stay, which is a relief. In that article, DJ made this illuminating comment about the organization’s philosophical alignment: “The next frontier for me personally, that would just be to make sure that we get it set to where everyone understands clearly what we’re trying to do. There was probably some give and take on that in the last couple years. I think you can chalk it up to new people coming into the organization, you can chalk that up to COVID.” Sounds like there may have been a disconnect among some members of the Reds pitching leadership team.

      P.S. Speaking of Dick Williams, I attended a Reds loss to the Brewers in MKE last month. Before the game, DW was on the field, chatting with C. Trent and other members of the Reds press. I agree that Williams will likely continue to have some involvement with the team going forward, given his family connection and his time in the front office.

      • Doug Gray

        Apparently Derek Johnson’s contract was not up after this season, but goes through next season. So he’s staying unless something wild happens.

  5. MK

    As has been explained to me by persons closer to the situation is that maybe the position of Coordinator is not an entry level situation for a person who might be better defined as a strength and conditioning position. There is a benefit to have a guy in charge who understands how to pitch rather than just knowing how to throw pitches.

    Body’s contract is up and there are other teams with deeper pockets competing for his services. I hope for them he is given the proper responsibilities.

    • Mike Hill

      how do you explain the fact that the reds pitchers went from 6th worst to 6th best in two years as boddy posted to his twitter? what about that is not “pitching”

  6. doc4uk

    Other than Barrero the Reds do not have any other can’t miss bats in their entire system. They have prospects in A ball but who in AA or AAA is a lock to join the big league team. Lots of rule 5 players!

  7. Scott C

    From the very “outside” this does not look good. The Reds minor league teams with the exception f Louisville are all doing good, particularly the pitching. Perhaps Krall knows what he is doing but not from my perspective.

  8. Joe P.

    Hire from organizations that have a proven track record for successfully scouting, drafting and developing players. The Cardinals come to mind and as does the Indians/Guardians.