2012 Post-season / Reds - General

Titanic Struggle Recap: Maybe not what you think

Let’s recap today’s titanic (in both senses) struggle…

FINAL

San Francisco Giants 6
Cincinnati Reds 4
WP: Cain
LP:  Latos
S: Romo

Just got back from Great American Ball Park. Chad said I could do the recap if I wanted to. And I do.

Obviously we’re all disappointed at the outcome of today’s game and the NLDS. There will be plenty of time and space here to review the championship season, the soul-crushing series, the personnel and begin the discussion of 2013. But I’m going to stay focused on today’s game.

Let me start by saying that the crowd and atmosphere were truly befitting a place named “Great.” In fact, I’ve never experienced a baseball crowd remotely similar. On Tuesday night, the atmosphere was thrilling, the game on the line for hours and the Reds were never really behind until the very end. Homer flirted with another no-hitter and flat out dominated. The optimism – signified by the many brooms – was palpable.

But today was altogether different – and better. Before the fifth inning stomach punch, the crowd was the same as Tuesday night, full of excitement and pure anticipation. It rose and fell with every Reds at bat. It stood for every two-strike Mat Latos pitch. Then BusterMVP happened.

Afterward, dead silence. Understandably. Yet something really uncharacteristic for a Queen City baseball crowd started.

We rallied, along with our team.

Cincinnati baseball fans are usually solely reactive. Today was the first time I’ve ever witnessed a GABP crowd attempt to will the team back into the game. By the ninth inning, the noise reached the point where you could no longer hear. Watching Jay Bruce’s twelve-pitch AB (the adjective ‘dramatic’ doesn’t begin to describe it) was like being in Rupp Arena or Michigan Stadium for a big moment. Literally deafening.

The two key plays to me, besides, well the (word withheld due to site guidelines) grand slam, were Brandon Crawford’s triple in the fifth inning and the strike out-throw out play in the bottom of the sixth. Crawford isn’t much of a hitter, but after Mat Latos missed – barely, really maybe not – with his first two fastballs to Crawford, he grooved one that the Giants shortstop pulled down the right field line. Blanco scored and Crawford eventually scored. Crawford’s triple set the rest of the disastrous top of the fifth into motion.

The Hanigan-Bruce double play never should have been. The called third strike on the Reds catcher was a ball, inside. The right call, on Matt Cain’s final pitch of the game, would have loaded the bases with no outs. Should Dusty Baker have sent Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen on that pitch, as he had done on the previous pitch that Hanigan fouled off? It was risky, but there was sense in the play. Sending the runners avoids a double play, at least a conventional one. Hanigan has a fairly low strike out rate. (The Giants weren’t holding Jay Bruce on second base, so I kind of wonder why he was out by a country mile.)

But again, the (word withheld, see above) pitch was a ball. Sigh.

I was sad when it was over. But I have to admit I was exhilarated by the game. The Reds, to a man, didn’t quit. In the five at bats after Posey’s grand slam, these things happened. (Note how many different players this covers.) Ryan Hanigan was HBP. Drew Stubbs singled and scored his fourth run of the series. Brandon Phillips doubled and drove in two runs. Ryan Ludwick homered. Jay Bruce walked. Scott Rolen singled. Brandon Phillips singled. Joey Votto singled. Scott Rolen singled (again). Super Todd Frazier singled with one hand on the bat. Zack Cozart walked. Joey Votto singled (again). Ryan Ludwick singled.

It’s tempting to focus on all the missed opportunities. But it’s more appropriate to recognize the virtue of how many opportunities there were.

In those last few innings, Brandon Phillips committed Gold Glove defense. Drew Stubbs saved a run in center field. The bullpen stood firm, because that’s what they do. LeCure. Marshall for two utterly dominant innings. Broxton. The Missile.

A six-run comeback is a heavy lift. The Reds fell two short. But I was really proud to be a fan of their team.

As I shuffled out the gate after the game, I overheard someone say. Well, it was a great year. And I agree with that. And you know what, it was also a really great game.

205 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: Maybe not what you think

  1. As long as Bob C. likes Dusty, he isn’t going anywhere. This isn’t a Walt call, as the owner Bob will determine if Dusty is back if Dusty wishes to return. I think Walt will “fight” with Bob on length of deal, but Dusty and his coaches are not going anywhere this offseason.

  2. i’d gladly take dusty back if he promised just 2 things: let chapman start and stack the top of the lineup with high OBP guys.

  3. Maddon did sign a 3/$6 million deal with the Rays in the offseason. That puts him about middle of the pack in terms of manager compensation. In comparison Dusty makes 3.5 million a year.

    I suppose I forgot about having to compensate the Rays as well. But Joe would have to be interested if the Reds offered him Scioscia money.

    Again this was just for fun. No way Maddon is leaving TB and no way Dusty isn’t back in Cincinnati in 2013.

  4. I’ve seen a few mentions of Francona. I’d say the 2011 Red Sox collapse was far worse than our 2012 playoff collapse.

    LaRussa gets tossed around a lot too. He had four playoff appearances with the Cards before winning a pennant, and six before winning a World Series. By some of the standards being expressed on here, he should have been fired before the 2006 world series.

  5. I like Barry Larkin, but don’t see him as a Dusty replacement. In my opinion “stars” don’t make good managers. The game either came easily to them or they had whatever make-up it requires to excel. The Reds need someone who had to fight and claw their way just to make a roster through effort, study, or force of will. Hannigan is managerial material (someday).

    I also agree with the poster who mentioned that we don’t know who that person is—he’s not on the list of retreads that we’d come up with. Walt knows though.

    • I like Barry Larkin, but don’t see him as a Dusty replacement. In my opinion “stars” don’t make good managers. The game either came easily to them or they had whatever make-up it requires to excel. The Reds need someone who had to fight and claw their way just to make a roster through effort, study, or force of will. Hannigan is managerial material (someday).

      I also agree with the poster who mentioned that we don’t know who that person is—he’s not on the list of retreads that we’d come up with. Walt knows though.

      I don’t see why you’d make Larkin the manager…with zero experience. Then again, I didn’t understand the hiring of Matheny, either.

      I’m in the minority about Hanigan. I mean, who knows how he’d do, but I’d bet he’d be a small ball manager. I don’t know, maybe he’d value OBP since he’s good at it…?

  6. I don’t want Dusty back either. But I also am realistic enough to know that management would never take that leap. So really all we can hope to happen is that Jocketty takes the bad options away from Dusty so he can’t play with them — namely Stubbs, Rolen, Arredondo, Cairo, Valdez and Leake — and upgrades those positions. (Hard to believe the Reds made it as far as they did with more than 20 percent of the team being dead weight and getting as much playing time as they did.) Dusty will not change. He will lean on tottering veterans until the team crumbles. So it’s up to Walt to change that. I would suggest Walt start the trading and maneuvering now. Maybe if Dusty saw that he was going to HAVE to play Todd Frazier full time, work with up-and-coming rookies like Gregorius and Cingrani, without the benefit of washed up veterans, he might freak out and retire. We can only hope. This team is now veteran-laden. If it still needs the “leadership” of the Rolens and Cairos, then it’s not going anywhere anyway. So it’s up to Big Walt now. If you see the same team show up for Opening Day next year, it’s all on Walt, not Dusty.

  7. You want a managerial choice…how about A HOF 2nd basemen…and its not Joe Morgan….He has managerial experience and I bet would take the job…

  8. Wow, I was really cheering for washington just now. WLB’s down to their last strike and and they rip off four runs to come from behind.

  9. The Cardnials were down 6-0 they came back and got hits with RISP The Reds were down 6-0 and they tried to come back and did not get hits with RISP.

  10. Two years in a row the Cards season should have ended but the defensive player did not make the play. I’ve never seen a luckier team in my entire life.

    • Two years in a row the Cards season should have ended but the defensive player did not make the play. I’ve never seen a luckier team in my entire life.

      Descalso’s hit was a rocket off the bat. I don’t fault Desmond for not making that play–there was no error.

      Also, for as much as you complain about the Cardinals being lucky, you seem to forget the times they get unlucky breaks, such as bases loaded, no outs and they score one run or less. At some point you have to give them credit for grinding out their at bats. From my view that looks like the main thing they do differently from the Reds.

      • Descalso’s hit was a rocket off the bat.I don’t fault Desmond for not making that play–there was no error.

        Also, for as much as you complain about the Cardinals being lucky, you seem to forget the times they get unlucky breaks, such as bases loaded, no outs and they score one run or less.At some point you have to give them credit for grinding out their at bats.From my view that looks like the main thing they do differently from the Reds.

        I’m not sure how not scoring a run is unlucky. Anyways, in my opinion, that was a play that almost any major league SS should have made. Desmond is a butcher out there, he also butchered a play earlier in the game.

        I’ve always said that the Cards were force, don’t get me wrong. People here for some reason don’t recognize it. Oh, their bullpen is bad, people say. I corrected them, and it’s obvious now, their pen is probably better than the Reds at this moment, had the Reds won their series.

        Still, they get all the breaks; technically, Freese swung and struck out on his “check” swing.

        • I’m not sure how not scoring a run is unlucky.

          In the vast majority of the cases (I think it’s over 85%) in which the bases are loaded with no one out, the team batting will score at least one run. They hit an infield pop-up and a comebacker to the pitcher.

          I think people on here are very eager to attribute luck to the Cards when things go their way, but they fail to take notice of times when they have horrible luck on batted balls, or they are plagued by injuries to Craig, Berkman, Furcal, Carpenter, and Garcia (other than Votto, the Reds were 100% healthy the whole season).

          One of my favorite sayings (I think from Jefferson) is “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” I’m not trying to defend the Cardinals on this blog, but I do respect their ability to grind and work every at-bat, which they deserve some credit for. When you do that EVERY SINGLE TIME the way they do, you are bound to get a call your way on a borderline pitch or a checked swing. They also see their fair share of bad strike calls, such as in Game 4 (several called strikes a good 6 inches off the plate).

  11. @Abel: The Cardinals were down to their last strike twice, with both Molina and Freese up. Storen was afraid to go after either of them from there. Walking both of them not the way to go, he had to challenge one of them, there was a much higher chance of a single from Descalso than a HR from one of them.

    Anyway, credit to the Cardinals – big hits in the 9th from Beltran, who was a monster the whole game, Descalso and Kozma. Cardinals vs. Giants will be interesting.

  12. The Reds came within one Pagan diving catch, one missed Affeldt hanger by Ludwick, one amazing AB from Bruce that ended poorly, etc from pulling off their own historic comeback. Yet the Reds are the chokers (and in some ways rightfully so). The next day the Cardinals get 4 RBIs in the 9th from Descalso and Kozma, and they are all THE HEART.

    Makes me sick.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: What’s the opposite of a curse ? Whatever it is, that’s what they have in the postseason.

      I’m pretty sure they sold their soul to the devil. It really makes sense if you think about it.

      • I’m pretty sure they sold their soul to the devil. It really makes sense if you think about it.

        What happens when they face the Yankees? Devil owns both of them.

  13. The biggest diffrence between the cards and Reds the Cards hitters take pitches, the Reds hitters outside of JV dont.

  14. Descalso was a terrible hitter this season, by any measure. Now in the postseason, he’s a monster.

  15. @Larry1980: Yep they work the count. I criticized Storen above, but he threw sliders just off the plate to both Molina and Freese that they laid off of. How many Reds RHed hitters would have laid off those pitches ?

  16. You need some luck and breaks to win, the bottom line the Cardnials take advantage of the chances they get the Reds dont. The Cardnials are the better team of the two.

    • @pinson343: Joey Votto. maybe Jay Bruce.

      Larry1980: I was asking for a RHed Reds batter who would have taken those sliders from Storen. Maybe Ryan Hanigan, but no on with pop.

      • Larry1980: I was asking for a RHed Reds batter who would have taken those sliders from Storen. Maybe Ryan Hanigan, but no on with pop.

        Storen is pathetic. Is he really that scared to throw a strike?

        Today also shows why I’d rather have Mat Latos than Gio Gonzalez. That was a pathetic performance by Gonzalez staked to a 6-0 lead. The man is wild. Yes, Latos gave up 6 runs, but long term, I want the guy who throws strikes. Latos also didn’t have a lead of 6 runs. Things would have surely been different.

        • Storen is pathetic.Is he really that scared to throw a strike?

          Hank’s teammate: Apparently. As I said above: “The Cardinals were down to their last strike twice, with both Molina and Freese up. Storen was afraid to go after either of them from there. Walking both of them not the way to go, he had to challenge one of them, there was a much higher chance of a single from Descalso than a HR from one of them.”

  17. Detroit, 5th in payroll. Yankees, 1st in payroll. Giants 8th in payroll. Cardinals, 9th in payroll. Money is king in Major League Baseball. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Only the Rangers spent more and got kicked out earlier (obviously other teams like the Phillies and Red Sox need not apply, seeing as they know they can spend to kingdom come and suffer little consequence).

    This is the time of year I’m frustrated about baseball. In October when the bad guys advance.

  18. I haven’t posted my thoughts on here or anywhere else, partially because I was stunned, partially because I didn’t know how to put it into words. Watching the Cards-Nats game tonight finally allowed me to think.

    This whole situation is beyond not fair, its just plain not right. I don’t know how anyone can feel OK about what has happened the past 4 days.

    Dusty Baker’s comment after the game couldn’t have been more spot on for this city ‘…but, sometimes you just get tired of disappointments.’

    If somehow we end up reaching the promised land, I can only hope going through this makes it that much sweeter, it just that it seems so damned far away right now. Despite being punched in the gut and kicked in the nuts again and again, I will still keep buying in, sign me up for another one, boys. My stomach is built of steel at this point.

  19. @yoobee: Agree with your main points. But Desmond should at least have been able to knock the ball down and prevent the tying run from scoring, he lost his balance. Not that it mattered anyway, with Kozma’s hit.

    • @yoobee: Agree with your main points. But Desmond should at least have been able to knock the ball down and prevent the tying run from scoring, he lost his balance. Not that it mattered anyway, with Kozma’s hit.

      Agree. His situational awareness should have been to keep the ball on the infield.

  20. if the Cardnials win the WS again, its goona be very difficult to rip on them. lets hope the Giants can win it.

    • If the Cardnials win the WS again, its goona be very difficult to rip on them. lets hope the Giants can win it.

      Larry1980: I’ll be rooting for the Tigers and the Giants. If the Yankees and Cardinals meet in the WS, it will be the team that traditionally never loses the big game vs. the team that recently never loses the big game.

      • Larry1980: I’ll be rooting for the Tigers and the Giants. If the Yankees and Cardinals meet in the WS, it will be the team that traditionally never loses the big game vs. the team that recently never loses the big game.

        Does anyone really think anyone other than the Cardinals will win the World Series?

  21. @pinson343: Freese could just as easily as not have been rung up to end the game on the “checked” swing at 2/2. Had it been the 3/2 pitch he probably would have. It just seems to be a quirk of many umps’ philosophy and personality that they will give the batter the break when it call won’t result in a walk but go the pitcher’s way when it will. Just ask Ryan Hanigan…..

  22. @BearcatNation: To be a baseball fan, you need a stomach of steel. The Phils and Giants tortured their fans for years before their WS wins. The Cardinals had great teams in 2004 and 2005, more talented than their current team. In 2004 they won 105 games in the regular season and got swept by the Red Sox in the WS. In 2005 they won 100 games and lost the NLCS to the Astros in 6.

    Anyway, the one thing the above teams have in common is years of consistent winning before reaching the promised land. The Reds have had 2 winning seasons since 2000.

  23. Unless I mellow out some, I probably won’t even watch or follow much more baseball this year. Too hard to watch knowing that much of the season the Reds played better than what we will be seeing…..

    • Unless I mellow out some, I probably won’t even watch or follow much more baseball this year. Too hard to watch knowing that much of the season the Reds played better than what we will be seeing…..

      I’m done for sure, now. I will not be watching any more baseball and supporting MLB’s slow creep towards the NHL-ification of the postseason.

  24. @Hank Aarons Teammate: The Cardinals’ bullpen was their Achilles heel for most of 2011 and most of this season. They were knocked out of the NL Central race both seasons due to their bullpen. If not, then what ?

    In 2011 they helped themselves at the trade deadline. This year they picked up Mujica at the deadline and brought up Kelly and Rosenthal. They were relying on Marc Rzepczynski and Fernando Salas for most of this season, you won’t see much of them in the postseason.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: The Cardinals’ bullpen was their Achilles heel for most of 2011 and most of this season. They were knocked out of the NL Central race both seasons due to their bullpen. If not, then what ?

      In 2011 they helped themselves at the trade deadline. This year they picked up Mujica at the deadline and brought up Kelly and Rosenthal. They were relying on Marc Rzepczynski and Fernando Salas for most of this season, you won’t see much of them in the postseason.

      That was my point—people said that the Reds should face the Cards because the Reds are better, etc, etc. The main reason given was the Cards pen stinks–except it does not. I’d rather have their pen. People aren’t paying attention to the pen they have now.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I think the AL team (either the Yankees or the Tigers) will beat the Cardinals, if they make it to the WS.

      Are you kidding me? I will happily eat these words, but: our personal Hell of a Postseason will end, appropriately, with The St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series, again. Probably in walk off fashion. Probably against the New York Yankees. You read it here first, but you know you’ve all been thinking it long before.

  25. Just think. We could be watching an NLCS between a 97-win team that ran away with the NL Central and the team they soundly beat for the division. The Reds proved over 162 games they were better overall than the Cardinals, but because of the fluky MLB playoff setup, they could’ve been playing them AGAIN. After stomping them for the NL Central title, that’s not enough.

    As a fan who remembers the pre-Wild Card MLB, I see stuff like that and I wonder why winning a division means a thing.

    • Just think. We could be watching an NLCS between a 97-win team that ran away with the NL Central and the team they soundly beat for the division. The Reds proved over 162 games they were better overall than the Cardinals, but because of the fluky MLB playoff setup, they could’ve been playing them AGAIN. After stomping them for the NL Central title, that’s not enough.

      As a fan who remembers the pre-Wild Card MLB, I see stuff like that and I wonder why winning a division means a thing.

      I could not agree more. In my mind the current format gives an additional advantage to large-payroll teams, as they can “fix” their team midseason, get a wildcard, and then have a good team in October.

    • The Reds proved over 162 games they were better overall than the Cardinals, but because of the fluky MLB playoff setup, they could’ve been playing them AGAIN. After stomping them for the NL Central title, that’s not enough.

      I agree that I don’t like the current playoff format. I would prefer two divisions in each league with just the CS and WS. The team with the best record during the regular season has only one the WS twice in the last 14 years, which is odd. The postseason is all about who gets hot at the right time, and it almost always has been this way. The Reds benefited from this in 1990.

      The Reds did so poorly offensively this year (after such a strong year in 2011) and were somehow still able to win the division. If you compare the expected win-loss record of the Reds and Cardinals based on runs scored and runs allowed, the Cardinals should have won the division by three games. I think if we are attributing the Cardinals season to luck, it’s just as fair to attribute the Reds division win to luck, because very few teams outperform their expected win-loss record by as much as the Reds, combined with such an underperformance by the 2nd place team.

      And as far as stomping the Cardinals, the Reds lost the regular season series against them.

  26. @BearcatNation:
    Bearcat, us older fans can testify to the agony of watching and waiting for the Big Red machine to finally win a WS. Lost the series in ’70 and ’72. Lost the NLCS in ’73. Missed the playoffs in ’74 with 98 wins. All before back to back titles in ’75 and ’76.

    I believe this version of the Reds can be good enough to win another title for the team. Just hope we don’t have to wait as long.

  27. Don’t know if anyone is even following this thread at this point, but I’d like to throw in two observations about the Dusty Baker managerial question.

    First, if the Reds replace Dusty, what happens to his coaching staff? I wouldn’t be surprised if Bryan Price, Chris Speier, Billy Hatcher, and Mark Berry stayed to work under Larkin (though I hope for many reasons they would replace Brook Jacoby). But I would be shocked if those guys stayed to play under Tony LaRussa. I think Bryan Price is a big key to the success of this team looking back to 2012, and looking ahead for years to come. For me, the insult of having TLR at the helm combined with the implications to the win-loss totals of losing Bryan Price would be devastating. I’m not saying the Reds have to keep Dusty (pretty sure they will), but I am saying PLEASE no TLR.

    Second, I’ve been in Atlanta since the wire to wire season of 1990, followed by the Braves worst to first year of 1991. Take a moment please to count up the Braves postseason appearances from 1991 on. The math isn’t hard – figure out the number of years from 1991 to 2005 and subtract one for the lost year of 1994. That’s 14 straight titles. Now calculate the number of World Series rings. That won’t take long either. One. Does that make Bobby Cox a poor manager? Would you have wanted to replace him during that stretch? I know he had the luxury of some amazing pitching staffs, and I’m not the biggest Bobby Cox fan (mostly because it was annoying watching all that winning here when the Reds were struggling), but in my opinion it’s just proof that the playoffs are a bit of a crapshoot. Give me the guy who gets the team TO the playoffs every year. The way to win the World Series is to make the playoffs. Then roll those dice. And I’m also willing to bet that Dusty Baker, his coaching staff, and the front office will be going over the last few days very carefully. I suspect there will be more urgency moving forward when the Reds are in the postseason, just as there was (eventually) better decision making with lineups (e.g. Stubbs in the 8 hole) and pitching decisions (e.g. Marshall in earlier innings) toward the end of this season. Dusty Baker will be back. And this team will be in the playoffs again. Hopefully again and again and again. I for one can’t wait.

  28. I know people are throwing around collapse, but it just doesn’t feel like that to me. They got beat, but it just doesn’t look like they took defeat out of the jaws of victory. The only loss of the 3 I got any angst about is game 3, but they couldn’t get many hits and even the pressure points was a base running blunder in the first inning and a bobbled ball on a tricky hit. It just wasn’t that epic. the loss feels bad, but not really cruel to me. What’s cruel is the freaking Cardinals keep winning. Yankees in 2004 to the Red Sox, that’s a collapse. Texas in the World Series last year, that’s a collapse.

    SF/Cincy was a really matched series and the Reds lost their best pitcher 8 pitches in and didn’t have a 2 time Cy Young Winner to bring out of the bullpen.

    The 5 game series is also so brief, it’s easy to get beat.

  29. earl: win two on the road then come home for three and can’t finish the deal? That’s a collapse. Add to the mix St. Louis getting the last Wild Card then beating ATL + the NATS without Pujols and a new Manager! Dude, they’re laughing at us. Haven’t we been patient long enough with Dusty? Do you really want two or maybe three more years of Baker? I don’t.

    • earl:win two on the road then come home for three and can’t finish the deal?That’s a collapse.Add to the mix St. Louis getting the last Wild Card then beating ATL + the NATS without Pujols and a new Manager!Dude, they’re laughing at us.Haven’t we been patient long enough with Dusty?Do you really want two or maybe three more years of Baker?I don’t.

      They are going to be laughing at the Reds for years, too, because they have better players and are a better organization. Their 7th best starter is Joe Kelly. The Reds 6th best starter is Todd Redmond. They have injuries everywhere and it just doesn’t seem to matter. They also can spend a lot more money. They have a better farm system, too. Yes, it’s frustrating.

  30. I’ve been throwing something around in my head that I’ve decided to toss out here and see if anybody else has had similar thoughts.

    Once it was apparent that JoeyV had no power in his legs, was it perhaps the Reds biggest mistake to go on and use him in a business as usual sense?

    Might Votto have been more of positive factor versus the Giants had he been held out and spotted into situations where a single (or walk or SAC fly) would have fit the bill? Might Frazier as he seems able to do, with multiple ABs per game felt the moment and gone on one of his runs?

    While we play and replay down to minutia the tactical situations of the series, perhaps this strategic decision might have been the biggest of all….

    • I’ve been throwing something around in my head that I’ve decided to toss out here and see if anybody else has had similar thoughts.

      Once it was apparent that JoeyV had no power in his legs, was it perhaps the Reds biggest mistake to go on and use him in a business as usual sense?

      Might Votto have been more of positive factor versus the Giants had he been held out and spotted into situations where a single (or walk or SAC fly) would have fit the bill?Might Frazier as he seems able to do, with multiple ABs per game felt the moment and gone on one of his runs?

      While we play and replay down to minutiathe tactical situations of the series, perhaps this strategic decision might have been the biggest of all….

      Yes. I’d been saying for a couple weeks that the Reds should have had Votto bat first in the lineup and moved Bruce to #3. I would chalk Votto’s use up to the general conservatism that Dusty Baker employs when it comes to (a) lineups, (b) roles, (c) respect for players. Votto had a .500 OBP so he needed to be playing. But with no threat of hitting for power, he’d have been better suited in situations where his strengths would be maximized.

  31. I had a thought yesterday that maybe Baker should have approached the final game like this: My best three pitchers on the staff — and it really isn’t close — are (1) Chapman, (2) Marshall and (3) Broxton. So start from the back of the game. Have Chapman pitch the 9th and 8th. Have Broxton pitch the 7th. Have Marshall pitch the 5th and 6th. Ask Mat Latos to get through the first four innings, which he did, giving up zero runs.

    Part of the problem with managing in a low-scoring (at the time) postseason game the way you manage your starters in the regular season is that leaving the SP in until they get in trouble means that the SP will inevitably get in trouble. Baker said in game four he didn’t want to take Leake out after the fourth inning because “he was really dealing” in the third and fourth. See, that’s the recipe for disaster in the postseason because you leave the starters in until trouble. A manager needs to operate more aggressively with their relief pitchers in a short series.

    • I had a thought yesterday that maybe Baker should have approached the final game like this: My best three pitchers on the staff — and it really isn’t close — are (1) Chapman, (2) Marshall and (3) Broxton. So start from the back of the game. Have Chapman pitch the 9th and 8th. Have Broxton pitch the 7th. Have Marshall pitch the 5th and 6th. Ask Mat Latos to get through the first four innings, which he did, giving up zero runs.

      Part of the problem with managing in a low-scoring (at the time) postseason game the way you manage your starters in the regular season is that leaving the SP in until they get in trouble means that the SP will inevitably get in trouble. Baker said in game four he didn’t want to take Leake out after the fourth inning because “he was really dealing” in the third and fourth. See, that’s the recipe for disaster in the postseason because you leave the starters in until trouble. A manager needs to operate more aggressively with their relief pitchers in a short series.

      I don’t think that it’s necessarily good to ahead of time decide Latos is only throwing 4 innings. For example, what if Bailey pitched his game 3 in game 5? You wouldn’t want to limit him to 4 innings.

      But otherwise I agree in that once you get to the 5th inning, it should be Marshall (or Broxton) time, whoever is going first, in that at the first hint of trouble, the guy’s throwing. Baker saved his relievers for game 5 but then didn’t leverage it.

  32. @Steve Mancuso: On pitching in the NLDS… I thought beforehand they should have taken a really long look at making game 4 a bullpen day versus starting Leake (and maybe they did and decided against it). It also occurred to me that Cingrani as an unknown throwing hard in the shadows could probably have navigated a turn through the Giants and could have been part of the mix in a bullpen day versus activating Leake.

    • @Steve Mancuso: On pitching in the NLDS… I thought beforehand they should have taken a really long look at making game 4 a bullpen day versus starting Leake (and maybe they did and decided against it). It also occurred to me that Cingrani as an unknown throwing hard in the shadows could probably have navigated a turn through the Giants and could have been part of the mix in a bullpen day versus activating Leake.

      In retrospect, sure.

      One thing that may fall out of all this is that Leake’s career as a Red is over. I think he’s fine as the #5 starter, and he’s cheap, but given that Latos, Arroyo, and Cueto are back next year, and Bailey seems likely to be also, pitching Leake means that Cingrani is out of the rotation. Maybe he’ll need AAA time, I suppose so…but it seems like he’ll be ready at some point, and I just don’t know what role Leake has at that point. I see zero improvement from Leake year over year, and it’s not like he’s immature on the mound. He’s quite mature, I think. He’s just not very good, and I don’t see where the improvement comes from. A new pitch maybe?

      The most damning thing about Leake is that he just cannot be put out there in a postseason game (barring an emergency like they had, of course). I think most people felt that way all year. Leake provides all-important rotation depth, but that’s really about it.

  33. @Hank Aarons Teammate: Listening to (reading) Dusty’s comments about how Latos was “dealing” and everything happened so fast validates the criticism that he managed the game like it was one of 162 and not the 1 of 1 it was. And I am generally a Baker supporter……

  34. @Hank Aarons Teammate: Actually I think I went totally over the top and posted here prior to game 4 that they should activate Cingrani and send him out to pitch at the start in the shadows. That was probably a but much given his age and lack of experience but no reason not to start LeCure or Marshall and come with Cingrani second and the other of the previous two third.

  35. I suspect that the Reds upcoming class of starters is still far enough away that they may have to live wit Leake in 2013 unless Walt can pull off one of his surprise signings or trades.

    Arroyo and Leake seem to have a mentoring relationship. Leake needs to spend the off season and spring picking Arroyo’s brain about the adjustments he made (cutter etc) which enabled him to pitch effectively versus LH hitters this year as it was lefties that nailed him every time versus the Giants.

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