2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: The Brandon Phillips Show

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Milwaukee 3
Cincinnati 4

W: A. Simon (3-1)
L: Y. Gallardo (3-2)
S: A. Chapman (8)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–In the sixth inning, with the Brewers threatening, Brandon Phillips performed a classic BP defensive gem, turning a double play to end the inning. In the bottom half of the inning, he smashed a homer to give the Reds a fourth run that would prove important. On the day, BP was 2-4 with a walk, two runs scored, and two RBI.

–Alfredo Simon, Sam LeCure, and Jonathan Broxton combined for four scoreless innings, though none of the three were particularly sharp.

–In his return from the disabled list, Ryan Hanigan was 2-4, bringing his batting average up to a robust .119.

NEGATIVES
–Dusty Baker.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–Good win against a division opponent. I’ll take that every time.

–Riddle me this, Batman. In a one-run game, in the bottom of the sixth inning, why in the world would you let Alfredo Simon, of all people, hit for himself? Ask Dusty.

–Riddle me this, Batman. If you have Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, and Jonathan Broxton, all of whom are making a lot of money to get important outs, why would you let Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon pitch in the most high-leverage situations in a one-run game? Ask Dusty.

–Riddle me this, Batman. If you have the best left-handed arm in the game, why would you let him pitch exactly one time in the last week? Ask Dusty.

Sheesh, I’ve defended Dusty Baker in print before, and I definitely think he gets unfairly maligned oftentimes, but I’m completely baffled by some of the decisions he makes. As long as the Reds win, I will grin and bear it, I guess.

–While everyone started worrying about the Reds, they proceeded to win five of their last seven games. This is exactly why I don’t get too worked up over a few games.

–The Reds are 14-6 in games at Great American Ballpark. No team has won more home games thus far.

–Full disclosure: I was pretty disappointed when the Reds kept Alfredo Simon on the Opening Day roster last year instead of Todd Frazier. I was right about Frazier, but I’ve become a fan of Simon in the last fourteen months, as well.

–Starter Tony Cingrani only survived four innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks. He’s had better days.

Source: FanGraphs

68 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: The Brandon Phillips Show

  1. The Reds brass must be thrilled that Cingrani had a subpar game. Now they can farm him out when Cueto comes back without all of Twitter going crazy.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I doubt that they’re thrilled (they do want to win), and I’m not sure that game was sub par. Cingrani is a young pitcher with a good fastball, lots of potential, but, for now, secondary pitches he can’t trust. He often gets behind in the count and has to throw a hittable fastball. Major league hitters hit hittable fastballs.

  2. Not Reds related, but if an umpire gets suspended for 2 games for not knowing a rule that most every teenager who likes baseball knows, what could cause a 4 game suspension? Not knowing that 3 strikes is an out?

    I cannot believe the punishment was that light. And why is it only the crew chief? Three other umpires stood by while they screwed this up. FOUR professional umpires all did not know one of the simplest and clearest rules in baseball? Really?

  3. Two things:
    Did we ever find out who decided to bring Dusty back? For what he is being paid, we could have gotten a real manager (meaning someone who will use his bullpen properly).
    And second, Cingrani is not going to get by in the ML with only a fastball (these guys are pros for a reason)- but once he gets a reliable 2nd and 3rd pitch – he will be back and then look out!

  4. Last nite’s bullpen nonsense comes down to one thing: Dusty did not want to put Marshall in against RHed hitters. Which makes no sense.

  5. Amazing DP by BP. This is not a criticism, Brandon has to go for every ground ball he can reach, but could Cozart have made a routine DP on that ball ? Wondering what people think.

    • @pinson343: I thou@pinson343: I thought that Cozart might have been able to, but it seemed as though he and BP didn’t communicate clearly and he deferred, leaving BP to make wine out of water.

    • @pinson343: Absent a second baseman crashing hard to the bag, yes, I think Cozart could have made the play (easily) from the start. BP was clearly in the mode of “big moment needs a big time play” and he was taking over. Great to see.

      • @pinson343: Absent a second baseman crashing hard to the bag, yes, I think Cozart could have made the play (easily) from the start. BP was clearly in the mode of “big moment needs a big time play” and he was taking over. Great to see.

        As someone who plays middle infield in non-important coed softball games, when you zone in on a ball like that, you don’t know where the other middle infielder is.

    • @pinson343: I agree Cozart could have made the play, but I don’t see how Brandon could have seen that as hard as he was going for the ball.

      The most overlooked aspect of the play was the absolutely spectacular dig Joey made on the back end. He had to go with the backhand on the short hop and made it look easy – which it really isn’t.

      • @Kyle Farmer: I agree. Brandon had no time to check out Cozart. And on ground balls, unlike pop ups or fly balls, the IFer (in this case Cozart) doesn’t have time to call for it. So much so that it would be comical for an IFer to say “I got it, I got it” on a ground ball.

  6. Listening to Bob Uecker, Brewers radio announcer, in the bottom of the 1st with Choo on 1st base and no outs:

    Cozart lays down a nice sacrifice bunt. Maybe the Reds know something with the storms moving in and out around here.

    In other words, there would be no logical reason to bunt with a man on 1st and no outs in the 1st inning.

    • @MikeC: It had nothing to do with weather. Baker frequently bunts in the first inning. It’s even more frustrating when the leadoff hitter gets a double and Baker has him bunted over to 3rd base.

      • @Greg Dafler:

        Exactly, Greg. Uecker is a hall of fame announcer and a great fan of the game. He has a knack for keeping games interesting even during a blowout. He provides interesting tidbits of information and is well known for his self-depreciating humor about his less than stellar career as a player, though he only resorts to that on occasion.

        Uecker’s broadcasts are positive and upbeat. He does not offer much criticism. When he does, he couches it in questioning statements rather than negative diatribes. That is what he was doing in making his comment about Baker having Cozart bunt in that situation.

        • @MikeC: I’m a big fan of Uecker as a radio broadcaster. Except for Vin Scully, he far outshines the other broadcasters I’ve had to listen to when the Reds play on the road. He is not a homer, shows respect for the other team and draws on his strong knowledge of the game.

  7. Dusty Baker was not the only negative. I’d add Tony Cingrani’s (ongoing) uncomfortably high pitch counts to that list.

    • @walshjp: Which doesn’t mean I’m dogging on him and think he should be sent down. (I’m actually pissed I didn’t get my fantasy quality start out of him!) But if we’re being totally objective here…

      And while you’re at it, add Thom to that list, too..

      • @walshjp: Thom has become unbearable. It’s worth the MLB.tv subscript just to be able to listen to the away broadcast. He’s so bombastic. Everything. is stated. with such. phony. gravitas. And the negativity (yes I realize this post does no better…). Having watched and listened out of market for three years and developed the habit of going straight to away broadcast, it’s incredibly jarring to hear Thom. Welsh deserves better.

        Who are your favorite away teams? Some I enjoy, FWIW;
        * Scully naturally
        * SF – Kuiper and Krukow
        * Chi – Kasper and Brenly (now Deshaies?)

        Regrettably the WLW audio overlay is no longer an option since Brennaman Sr has gone full killjoy. NOTHING PLEASES THIS FAMILY

  8. I am 100% sure that Cingrani will be going back to Louisville when Cueto returns, assuming that’s in the next week or two. The questions people had about him not being ready are starting to show up. He has steadily been giving up more hits, more walks, striking out fewer, and having his pitch count driven further up early. Teams are starting to get a book on him and that book is he throws an awful lot of fastballs for strikes, and they ain’t that fast. Keep fouling them off, wait for him to miss on some breaking stuff, and you should be able to chase him early. He needs to work on throwing his secondary pitches for strikes and doing it a lot more often. That’s what AAA is for. Mike Leake has looked fine this year – not great, not terrible. Basically he has been the exact same Mike Leake we’ve seen the last two years and that’s just fine for a #5 starter. Cingrani will benefit from the time in Louisville and he’ll be in the rotation opening day next year.

    • @Big Ed: Well said, Ed.

      @eric nyc: I’d still rather have the pitcher who strikes out batters and isn’t so dependant on near perfect control to be effective. Cingrani is the safer bet IMO.

      • @Sultan of Swaff: I don’t think he’s going to keep striking out batters at such a high rate and I’d rather have a pitcher that can give you more than 5 innings. At this point a 5 inning outing for Cingrani is long.

        • @eric nyc: That’s ridiculous. He went 6, 7, 6 in the previous 3, including the one at Chicago. Mike Leake isn’t exactly a “go deep into the game” pitcher.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Cngrani, as a major league pitcher RIGHT NOW, is a perfect reliever. Maybe even a closer. Throws a ton of deceptive fastballs for strikes. I don’t want to see him become Chapman 2.0. There simply isn’t a chance they are bumping Leake from the rotation, so if Cingrani stays he’ll go to the pen as a long reliever. Does anyone here want to see that happen? I think Cingrani can be a great starter and were going to need him next year at the latest and again this year when we face another injury. The big league isn’t the place to work on your secondary pitches.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Cngrani, as a major league pitcher RIGHT NOW, is a perfect reliever. Maybe even a closer. Throws a ton of deceptive fastballs for strikes. I don’t want to see him become Chapman 2.0. There simply isn’t a chance they are bumping Leake from the rotation, so if Cingrani stays he’ll go to the pen as a long reliever. Does anyone here want to see that happen? I think Cingrani can be a great starter and were going to need him next year at the latest and again this year when we face another injury. The big league isn’t the place to work on your secondary pitches.

          For the record, there is no difference between a relief pitcher and a closer. Stop buying into the closer myth.

        • @Kurt Frost: There is based on how managers use them, and I’m saying I think there are quite a few managers who would use Cingrani as a closer right now as opposed to a long reliever. I wasn’t saying i think that should be what Cingrani is labeled as, just that I could see major league managers using him that way if he was in their bullpens right now.

        • @eric nyc: I didn’t know my choice was Cingrani as long reliever or Cingrani in AAA. Why is it that Leake is untouchable?

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Well the short answer is I would bet you just about anything that Walt simply isn’t sending him down based on Cingranis performance up to this point. The slightly longer answer would be that Leake has displayed an assortment of major league ready pitches which he has used to at least marginal success whereas Cingrani has one. Of the two, Cngrani has more to gain from being sent down.

    • @eric nyc: Yes, it’s obvious after two below average starts that teams have completely figured him out.

      You decided you wanted him sent down before he came up. I remember.

      In the last two starts he’s striking out basically 1 batter per inning. Yes, that’s less than what he was doing. Is that not good enough for you? How many major league starters strike out a batter per inning.

      There’s an argument for sending him down, but your argument, based on two starts, with a “declining K rate” that’s very high, doesn’t do it, for me anyways.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: My argument when he came up was that he relied way too much on his fastball and big league hitters were going to start catching up to it pretty quick. It’s whats been happening. I think the kid can be a star, but he’s not ready yet and if Cueto comes back in the next week I think Leake is the better option RIGHT NOW. Maybe by August it’s a different story.

  9. I went to the game, and I’ll give you a big negative. It took 3:49 to play a 4-3 game that went 8.5 innings. There were 351 pitchers thrown, or over 20 per half-inning. There were 145 balls called, and 15 walks. It was tough to watch.

    Cingrani needs to speed up his pace; both his defense and the fans were going into hibernation between pitches. Brian Price went to talk to him durng one jam, and Cingrani was noticeably faster after that. All relief pitchers on Earth need to speed up their paces. And hitters don’t need ritualized helmet, batting glove and crotch checks after each pitch. Watch about an inning of the 1968 World Series, and you don’t see all the needless primping. Good grief; play the game and throw the ball over the plate.

    I get the “baseball has no clock” mantra, but that game would have been far more entertaining if it had taken 2:49. Casablanca would not be enhanced by an extra hour of dead time, where the actors look at each other, and baseball is not enhanced by slow play.

    • @Big Ed: I didn’t see the game last night, but it’s ironic that Cingrani has slowed his pace so much. He was very quick to the plate in his first couple starts. He even commented that the delaying tactics of major league hitters was something he had to get used. Probably just a phase for a young pitcher.

      • @Steve Mancuso: He was painfully slow out of the stretch, and he was in perpetual stretch last night. The catcher and bench play a part, too, because they were also getting the signals in too slow.

    • @Big Ed: You’re reading my mind Bid Ed! What made matters even worse was that there weren’t any mid-inning pitching changes! We drove down at the last minute from Columbus because my daughter’s softball game was canceled and there were some awesome deals on StubHub. My kids are 5 and 9 and just can’t hang that late. We ended up leaving after the 7th inning – which is about the time that a game should end.

      I’d like to come down for some night games and not have to stay in a hotel (we’re just SE of Columbus), but the pace of the game is making that virtually impossible which means we’ll attend fewer games than we would otherwise.

  10. A few observations: BP is, so far, the Reds 2013 mvp. He is also the best defensive 2nd baseman I’ve ever seen, back to and including Mazerowski. Chapman is not the full Chapman. Rust? Injury? Who knows? People are hitting the ball hard off him. He should buy Derrick Robinson a beer. Ryan Braun is a scarier hitter than Joey. I know that advanced metrics guys are going to go ballistic on me for this, but think about it. Joey is a great hitter, certainly, and obp is important, certainly, but smacking the crap out of the ball has a lot to be said for it, particularly when only one or two other guys in the batting order are doing that.

    • @greenmtred: I wouldn’t argue with your point about Braun. My agreement is not so much from the standpoint that I find fault with Votto’s approach, only that Braun also has an elite OBP without sacrificing the power. If I had to choose between the two it wouldn’t be easy.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: If you say so. I’m not saying I’d trade Joey for Braun, but as far as value for the money goes, Milwaukee definitely came out ahead. Of course they’re still Milwaukee and will probably finish 4th in the division so who’s cares.

      • @Steve Mancuso: For their careers, they have similar profiles; Braun is 20 points higher in SLG, and Votto 40 points higher in OBP.

        This year, Votto isn’t the same as he’s been, so far. It does concern me.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I’m not really faulting Joey’s approach, either: I just think that it’s possible that our expectations (mine, at least) that he is a middle of the order run producer miscast him: I wondered awhile ago whether he wasn’t more Wade Boggs than George Brett. Still do.

    • @greenmtred: Yeah, sure, Phillips is a better offensive player than Joey Votto.

      Phillips OBP with nobody on is .225, and with men on is .360 or so, and with RISP is .489. Do you think that’s sustainable? All of those numbers are going to get closer to each other, and then you will realize that Phillips isn’t half the offensive player that Votto is.

      It’s funny how when Phillips hits a HR, no one even mentions that he made out in two critical RISP situations last night (he got a hit in one). But if Votto were to do that, then the criticism rains from the heavens.

  11. Let this site say I’m an idiot, I don’t care: Why didn’t Phillips use his glove to get the grounder on the double play. It’s amazing that he got it with his bare hand, but looking at the replay, I’m not quite sure why he didn’t use his glove.

      • @Steve Mancuso: He certainly has a ton of natural talent. But I prefer the play be made, no matter how. Seems to me like a much lower chance to make that play barehanded.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Yeah, no, that’s not the same thing. But I expected this, so keep it up. I asked for it. On this site not bowing at the knee of Brandon Phillips is heresy. I like the guy and all, he’s really good, but as an overall baseball player, this site overrates him. By a lot on his hitting, and by a little bit on his defense.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Nearly all Reds are overrated on this site. I don’t play favorites.. If a guy is playing below his level, I’ll grip. Whether it’s Votto or Parra, makes no difference to me. It is all about the team. The analogy I gave holds: the play was a masterpiece whether it was made by BP, Weeks, Morgan, or a butcher. So saying he could have made the same play with his glove strikes me as a bit petty.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I don’t think that he gets the out at first if he uses his glove. And, Steve Mancuso, it would be hard to question that BP is a bit of a hot dog (I might say “flashy” instead), but on a number of the particularly spectacular plays, it has seemed clear to me that the way he did it was the only way to get it done, just because of timing–like his behind the back flip to first. Nobody else can do these things (though Vizquel used his glove like a ping-pong paddle to bat the ball to his throwing hand–what the hell, if you can’t have fun, what’s the point?), so absent BP’s flash, you’d have a lot of “he did well to even stop that ball. Runner safe at first.”

  12. I can’t help but think that in some small way Brandon’s insane start to this season might be tied to a desire to prove he deserved to go to a certain game that marks the midway point of the year. While he could have made the play last night in a less showy fashion.. it’s still the most amazing play I’ve ever seen a second baseman make. I have no idea how it stacks up against the great plays of yesteryear but in my own humble lifetime it’s at the top.

  13. I honestly don’t think he had time to use his glove. Plus it looks like he kinda used his glove hand for balance. The bigger question here is why didn’t Cozart field it. He had the better angle and it could have just been a routine play.

    • @WedgieSanders: Yeah this seems to be the refrain every time BP makes a play like this. I’ve watched the play over a dozen times. There isn’t a chance he could have caught the ball with his glove, transferred, and made the out at first. As it was, with a great throw and a great dig by Votto, it still only got Braun by half a step. That’s the difference between BP and everyone else. Before he even got to the ball he was thinking what he had to do to turn the double play. If he had been conservative like everyone else, he would have made a routine force out. BP gets labeled as a showboat, even by his fans on this site, but honestly every time one of these plays happens I study them intently trying to see if there was ANY other way he could have made them and I’ve yet to find one where I felt like he was just trying to show off.

      • @eric nyc: That is possibly true. I suspect if he gloves the ball, he loses a half step, which makes it a bang bang play at first. But I do not agree that that makes doing the barehand thing advisable. I absolutely disagree, in fact.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: If BP screwed up plays because he was hotdogging on any kind of regular basis, I would agree with you. The fact is, though, that he’s successful on the vast majority of his attempted hotdog plays, so I’m quite happy for him to keep doing what he’s doing.

        • @BenL: This. I think BP has earned the benefit of the doubt at this point. When it’s all said and done, he might end up being the best defensive 2nd baseman ever so if he thinks he needs to barehand a ball, I defer to him.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I can’t disagree, in theory, about barehanded plays, but BP practices them and makes them. When I was kid (don’t you hate it when old farts start an anecdote that way?), using your glove hand only to catch a ball was such a no-no that the offending player might get benched. Not to mention that, while form may follow function, BP’s fielding is one of the most fun things in baseball to watch.

  14. Mesoraco catching Latos today. My guess is he’ll catch Latos and Leake through the rotation now and Hanigan will catch Cueto (Cingrani), Bailey and Arroyo.

    Choo
    Cozart
    Votto
    Phillips
    Bruce
    Frazier
    Paul
    Mesoraco
    Latos

    • @Steve Mancuso: If there is going to be a 60/40 “cathing rotation” with Hanigan getting the 60%, I suppose this one makes some sense. Latos is more of a pure power pitcher at this point and last year Leake made some comments that seemed to infer he had a clear preference for Meso. On the other hand Bailey seems to do better with Hanigan.

  15. I know we have talked about this a great deal, but never let it be said I’m too proud to beat a dead horse:

    Dusty’s allowing Simon to hit and then pull him is indefensible. Granted we had to go to the pen early, but the team is coming off an offday with everyone rested. So I wouldn’t have agreed with leaving him in at all, but that would be defensible. If you really didn’t want to burn your bench (not that I agree) then you have guys like Leake and Arroyo who aren’t going to do anything the rest of the game anyway. Let them lay the bunt down and then you wouldn’t need a pinch runner if one of them actually made it to base. Remember Hanigan was the runner on first. Now that Corky has been DFA’d there is probably no one other than Simon (who was at bat) that he could outrun. It would take a true double to score him most times from second. So, we burned the bullpen anyway and didn’t use a pinch hitter. What a bad decision. And before anyone thinks I’m picking on one play: this is merely a sample of a pervasive managing issue. This is certainly not an exception to the rule. We were fortunate that the Brewers bullpen was as troubled as ours.

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