2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: I Choo-Choo-Choose Shin-Soo Choo

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Cincinnati 4
Miami 0

W: M. Leake (3-2)
L: A. Sanabia (2-6)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–What about that Shin-Soo Choo? Choo went 4-5 with two homers, three runs scored, and two RBI. That’s nine homers on the season for Choo, who’s hitting .322/.465/.589. Yeah, he’s good.

–Another good outing by a Reds starter: Mike Leake pitched 6.2 scoreless innings. Sean Marshall and Sam LeCure continued their good work in relief, as well.

–Joey Votto (base on balls, RBI), Brandon Phillips (double, RBI), and Jay Bruce (double) had two hits apiece. Heck, even Cesar Izturis had a double and a walk.

NEGATIVES
–None.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–So…this series is going pretty well, huh? Two straight outstanding performances against the Marlins, who are almost an actual major league baseball team!

–That’s five wins in a row, and nine of eleven, for the mighty Redlegs. Cincinnati is now 24-16; they didn’t reach eight games over .500 last year until June 2.

–Only three teams in the majors have won more games than the Reds.

Source: FanGraphs

115 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: I Choo-Choo-Choose Shin-Soo Choo

  1. Dusty Baker is really something. CP pointed this out at the end of the game thread: Baker said there is no competition for the 5th starter spot. He also said that Leake has pitched better than some of the starters (false; he’s the worst of the starters this year); he said that Leake has gotten them deep into games (6.05 innings per start; that seems false).

    He also said that you don’t give up on Leake so quickly. I really don’t understand. Who’s giving up on Leake? The point is, if there’s a better option, don’t you pitch the better option? Maybe not, I guess.

    What’s going to happen if Cingrani goes down, pitches great and gets better with secondary pitches? Is he ever going to supplant Mike Leake? Or is the only way he takes the mound in the rotation, barring injury, if Arroyo isn’t re-signed in the offseason?

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Arroyo definitely isn’t getting resigned, he already said before the season began he wanted to make his last one in Cincy count. Cingrani has a great deal of potential, and he’s one of the most deceptive pitchers I’ve ever seen in my life, but he relies too heavily on his fastball. He needs time in AAA to develop his stuff with Miller, the Majors are no place to do that. If he stays up here too long eventually other clubs, especially those in the division, will figure him and out and he’ll get pounded. Leake isn’t an ace by anyone’s standards, but he’s a solid #5, half the teams in the league would make him their #3. We’re lucky we have him.

      • @MikiLove: No evidence whatsoever about the getting pounded part. It’s amazing what passes for truth around here. I remember a lot of posts from people saying they were certain that the Nats would kill Cingrani, and we saw how that turned out.

        Anyways, my hypothetical was, what if Cingrani IS ready in everyone’s mind, in August, and Leake’s putting up his usual standard 95 ERA+ season? There could be a playoff race that is decided by a few games.

        I’m not suggesting cutting Leake or anything. But doesn’t merit ever come into it? If Cingrani is ready to be a complete pitcher, say, in a couple months, and he’s better than Leake, then Baker is just going to say you don’t give up on Mike Leake. But aren’t the best players supposed to play?

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I’m not saying he’s going to get immediately pounded, I’m just saying a starting pitcher that relies on just a fastball can last forever in this league. It may not be his next start, or even this month, but eventually opposing hitters will figure out his delivery methods and location sequence and start to pound him. And actually, I would prefer that hypothetical scenario instead of keeping him up in the majors right now.

          If we let him work on his secondary stuff in Louisville for a few months, then call him backup in late August to early September to replace Leake or, God forbid, to replace an injured player, he would be in prime position to merc the competition. Opposing batters will still not be familiar with him, and likely would have little recollection of him earlier in the season, and we could put him into the bullpen for the playoffs.

        • Some people need to drop the Cingrani stuff. The dude has only had 19 minor league starts above single A. Pitching one good game doesn’t mean he’s ready. He does rely too much on one pitch and still needs a bit of seasoning. No reason to rush him up here. He’s a solid 6th man. As well as, Leake is just one season away from leading the team in victories and 2nd best ERA. Not to mention he’s one of the best hitting pitchers in the league, he’s a solid #5. Next year, when Arroyo doesn’t resign, we can put Cingrani in there. Being an Arroyo fan, I honestly hope they don’t try to re-sign Arroyo.

          Now, the wrench in things again will be if they try make Chapman a starter again.

        • @steveschoen: Of all the arguments to send Cingrani down, the one that Mike Leake is a good pitcher is by far the weakest. Most likely, he’ll finish the season in the 5% below league average area.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: And, being 5% below the league average is bad for a 5th man? He’s tied for 49th in the league with 3 quality starts, with the 4th lowest ERA amongst those 11, and that’s bad for a 5th man? He’s 32nd in the league in ERA, and that’s bad for a 5th man? He’s one season removed from being the winningest pitcher on that staff with the 2nd lowest ERA on that staff, and this is bad for the current 5th man? Not to mention he’s one of the best hitting pitchers in the league?

          I never said Leake was a good pitcher. But, he certainly isn’t a bad pitcher. I said he’s a solid 5th man. If anything, I said it seems like to me that when I have seen Leake do good, it’s been when the Reds have given him an early lead to work with. And, like how many consider the closer an over-rated position, it’s normally easier to pitch with the lead. I’ve only looked into it a little bit, but it does seem to be a bit of a trend to me.

        • @steveschoen: We also need to bear in mind that starting pitchers tend to have a lower ERA+ because relief pitchers also factor into that number and many of them have higher ERA+ numbers. Add in the fact that I find it unlikely at this stage of his career for Cingrani to maintain his current ERA+ and I have to agree that sending Cingrani back down when the time comes is the right move.

        • @LWBlogger: Dude, even if that ERA stat was just for starters (if relievers were included, it would stand out even more), if you consider that he’s the 5th man in the league, just for numbers sake, he should be no better than 61st in the league in ERA (15 teams, 5 man rotations). But, he’s 32nd in the league in ERA. That’s putting him equal with some #3 guys out there. Now, would I call him a #3 guy. No way. But a bad pitcher he isn’t. I’ve only said that the trend that it’s easier to pitch with the lead seems to hold especially true for him.

        • @MikiLove: I’m on board with keeping Mike Leake as the #5 starter. Cingrani could use more seasoning and if he is able to throw a couple of secondary pitches effectively, he will be a handful. Could be a factor in 2014, IMO.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I like Cingrani, too, but I read somewhere that he has given up as many homers as anybody on the staff, with fewer innings than the other starters. That might not be pounding, in context, but it is vulnerability. I assume that MikiLove is seeing the same Cingrani I’m seeing: a young pitcher with an excellent fastball, secondary pitches on which he can’t rely, and a tendency to go too deep in the count and exit early due to pitch count. Much higher ceiling than Leake (not as a hitter, though), I’ll grant you, and if he progresses as he likely will, I’ve no doubt that he’ll be in the rotation soon.

      • Cingrani has a great deal of potential, and he’s one of the most deceptive pitchers I’ve ever seen in my life, but he relies too heavily on his fastball.

        This does not compute for me. I don’t see him as deceptive at all. It’s hard to pick up the ball because of his release point. It is also a HARD throwing lefty with pin-point control. That’s important stuff and is all he needs to be a pretty good major league pitcher.

        To be the next Cliff Lee, he needs to become MORE deceptive by mixing it his slider and changeup more.

  2. After tonight’s game, Choo now leads the league in Runs, HBP, OBP, and OPS, along with being in the top eight in almost every other category out there. With the media hyping leadoff hitters to nth degree this season, I believe our little train has a very good chance at winding up in MVP station when things are all said and done. :D

  3. I dunno about this Choo guy. He’s our leadoff hitter but doesn’t even get a walk today?

  4. I think a consideration the Reds probably have to consider with Tony Cingrani is to slow down that arbitration clock and not burn a season before free agency. If there was an injury, he’ll be back up, but if they don’t necessarily ‘need him’, why roll the free agency clock.

  5. The Reds need Leake and need him to continue to build on performances like the last two starts (minus that 8th inning). Arroyo leaves next year, and either way his salary will be accounted for in raises/arbitration to teammates. Cingrani has shown that he’ll be able to fit in nicely with Bailey, Cueto, Latos, and Leake. It is good that he got a taste of being a big league starter. With Corcino struggling mightily the Reds don’t have another SP prospect in the minors that is close to being able to contribute. Stephenson and Travieso are still a few years away and Rogers (who may not stick as a starter) is in AA still, although he’s off to a great start.

    Leake has been historically bad out of the BP and they can’t send him down. No reason to question this move. Cingrani’s time will come.

    • @hotto4votto:

      Great point. Both these guys will be in the rotation next year (barring any Chapman shenanigans) so both need to continue to improve. Leake’s improvement can be made in the majors by following Bronson arround IMO, but Cingrani needs to learn more pitches.

      Leake in the majors and Cingrani in the minors is the best for this club long term. Now, when September roles around, all bets are off and you worry about the present.

      • @bohdi: Agreed. I believe I’ve noticed that Leake pitches better when the Reds give him an early lead. Not definite on it, but it can make sense. It can be easier to pitch with the lead, where the other team has to be swinging so the pitcher can throw some more pitches outside the zone.

        • @steveschoen: But this also kind of also just says that Leake pitches better when he doesn’t give up runs early, like most pitchers.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Agreed, as with it would for most all other pitchers in the league. It isn’t unusual. As a matter of fact, if there is a trend with pitchers, that is the trend. Struggle trying to keep the team in the game when pitching from behind, not nearly the struggle to pitch with the lead, for all pitchers in general, as a general trend.

    • @hotto4votto: Leake has way too few innings out of the pen to just say he can’t be a reliever.

      I think the Reds are clearly better if they keep Cingrani and Leake and send down Ondrusek. They won’t for other reasons, but there really isn’t a good argument that can be made that they’re better with Logan.

  6. Leake still scares the h#ll out of me, but, as much as I love Cingrani, he needs to go back down & develop his secondary pitches. Good teams, especially those that rhyme with “Ardinals”, will figure his fastball out. He’s definately a future starter, but he needs some polishing. I CANNOT wait for Cueto’s return. Oh, btw, “CHOO!”.

  7. A positive is that Marshall and Chapman got in some “practice”. Unfortunately only one batter for Marshall. I don’t necessarily mind in this case, as he was replaced by a pinch hitter, but the pattern of using him as a LOOGY is just nuts. And his first two breaking pitches tonite didn’t even come close to reaching the catcher, not surprising for a rusty pitcher.

    From Chapman we saw the bad, the good, and the great, all in one inning.
    Bad Chapman: Can’t throw anything for a strike.
    Good Chapman: Throwing triple digit fastballs, up to 102 mph, for strikes. His arm likes the warm Miami weather.
    Great Chapman: Ending the game with a nasty slider for called strike 3 to a kid who kept fouling off nasty heat.

    Up til then, the sliders were not even close. He needs to throw the slider more often, so that he can throw it for strikes more often. When he does throw it for a strike, it’s rare that anyone even fouls it off.

    • @pinson343: On throwing the slider for strikes, the best thing is to have command of the slider. On his first few sliders, he wasn’t anywhere near the zone. Had he been able to to throw it a little closer to the plate, I’m pretty sure he would have gotten that strikeout sooner. Most of the time, he isn’t going to want to throw the slider for a strike. But it’s important for him to have an idea where it’s going to go when he throws it and to be able to throw it in the zone in situations like last night.

      • @LWBlogger: Agreed. Most of the time the slider is a “chase pitch” – you want it to look close to a strike but be a ball.

        But in some situations, such as where the hitter is just sitting on the fastball and taking anything else, Chapman needs to be able to throw it for a strike.
        Also if a pitcher always throws a slider for balls, word gets around and hitters learn to lay off it. That was the end of the career of Ryan Wagner.

  8. I enjoyed watching this game, just enough drama to keep me alert, and well played overall by the Reds. The Marlins tv broadcasters are good, and I usually dislike the road broadcasters – both tv and radio – so much that I don’t listen to the Reds on the road.

    Since there isn’t much they can say about the Marlins, they mostly talked about the Reds. They were very positive but also weighed in with criticisms when called for. They gave Izturis a very hard time about not scoring on BP’s double that got away from the weak-armed Pierre.

    They marveled about the Reds IF defense, including Mike Leake in this case, love Bruce’s arm, intelligent discussion of trades the Red have made, etc.

    Assuming that Leake does remain the 5th starter for the whole season, does he deserves a GG ? I can’t think of a better fielding pitcher in the NL. Bronson won a GG in 2011 and he’s not at the same level. Of course, to win a GG a pitcher has to pitch pretty well, that would be the main challenge.

    • @pinson343:

      Since there isn’t much they can say about the Marlins, they mostly talked about the Reds. They were very positive but also weighed in with criticisms when called for. They gave Izturis a very hard time about not scoring on BP’s double that got away from the weak-armed Pierre.

      This has happened way too often and with too many different baserunners for it to be the runner, I think Speier is just VERY, VERY, Conservative at 3B, which is kind of contradictory to the aggressive Reds team approach to running the bases (taking extra bases, first to third, etc).

        • @steveschoen: With sadness, I’ve noted the same thing. I think I can recall (important to qualify recollections at my age–knees, hearing and memory in a race to the bottom) hearing that Rolen had a lot to do with the aggressive running protocol. A team without base stealing threats can still benefit from a running game.

      • @Bill Lack: Speier is so conservative that I’m beginning to think he has an issue with his shoulder that makes it impossible for him to wave runners home. :lol:

        I thought he should have sent BP home on Bruce’s double. He may very well have been thrown out but it puts the pressure on the defense to make a play and even if he had been thrown out it wouldn’t have changed the eventual outcome of the inning.

        Hurry back Mark Berry!

        • Speier is so conservative that I’m beginning to think he has an issue with his shoulder that makes it impossible for him to wave runners home.

          That’d be classic of the Reds medical staff to be slow to get an MRI done a possible serious injury. Somebody needs to get on that! :)

      • @Bill Lack:

        This has happened way too often and with too many different baserunners for it to be the runner, I think Speier is just VERY, VERY, Conservative at 3B

        I agree, it’s maddening. Too often I’ve seen the runner watching the play while rounding 3rd at full steam to head home. Then as they turn their head they see Speier holding up the arms up. They have to slam on the breaks and scamper back the 3rd.

    • @pinson343: I’m not sure about a Gold Glove but he certainly deserved the Silver Slugger last year and lost out on it to Strasburg. My point is that it’s going to be tough for a Cincy pitcher to win any award, but it’s probably going to be even tougher for the 5th Cincy pitcher to win one.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I admit that I haven’t taken the time to look up any stats, I just assumed he got it because of the media love for the Nats. Leake was outstanding at the dish last year, but I’ll take your word for it that Strasburg was better.

        • @Kyle Farmer: Strasburg was better than Leake at the plate last year.

          I disagree. Stras had a higher OPS, but Leake had him in basically every other category in more plate appearances.

    • @pinson343: Oh and Pinson, have I mentioned that it’s good to have you back and commenting on Redlegnation? I always enjoy what you have to add to the conversation.

      • @LWBlogger: Thanks a lot, LWBlogger, I’ve always liked your comments too. I haven’t actually been away (always a reader) but have at times been low profile, because of work and life. They’re such a bother.

  9. I’m really starting to come around to the idea of trading Chapman as part of a deal to land Giancarlo Stanton. I wonder if the Marlins would trade Stanton straight up for Chapman, with maybe a few prospects from both sides to balance things out? I would make Hoover the closer afterwards, something Dusty seems to already be inching towards. Chapman does seem to like it in Miami, so why not let him go somewhere where he’s happy? Plus, his off field issues won’t be our concern any longer (I’m just waiting for the next bizarre blowup)

    Failing that, I wouldn’t be opposed to trading a package built around Billy Hamilton for Stanton and signing Choo to a 3-5 year extension.

    Basically, I think the Reds should get Stanton by trading either Chapman or Hamilton for him. The Reds offense is already very good, but to get someone like Stanton to hit behind Votto and move Phillips back up to 2nd would give the Reds one of the most deadly 1-5 hitters in all of baseball. (yes, I’m including Bruce here)

    Choo might very well be the best leadoff hitter in the game (remember, he actually was a #3 hitter for a lot of his career), Phillips is a very solid hitter and would do well hitting in front of Votto, Votto is in the discussion of being the best all around hitter in the game, Stanton is probably the most feared power hitter in the game , and Bruce, when he’s hot, can be an offensive force all by himself. Frazier and Mesoraco/Hanigan are no slouches either. That just leaves Cozart…. Well, at least he’d be hitting down in the order where he belongs in this setup.

    I really think the Reds could stand to lose either Chapman or Hamilton and not miss a beat. Plus, if they could sign a young hitter like Stanton to a long Bruce/Votto like contract, even better. Some are indicating Stanton seems to have lost interest in baseball because the moves his team made disillusioned him. Imagine if he were suddenly thrust onto a winning team in a hitters park. You’d have to think he’d rediscover his fire.

    I’m not in favor of the Reds making a trade for a #4 hitter like Willingham or someone else like that. But Stanton is special, and if the Reds could get him by parting with Hamilton or Chapman, I’d do it.

    • @CI3J: I just can’t imagine the Marlins making a Stanton for Chapman straight up trade, but considering the way the organization has decided to deploy the missile, I’d be all for that trade.

      • @Kyle Farmer: I see Chapman as a Shiny Red Porsche. I see Stanton as a top rated minivan. Straight up, Chapman is a better player. But if you’re to take the Porsche out of the garage, why not trade it for the more useful minivan. There would be more value in the minivan, even though it is not as valuable.

        • @TC: You have stated my thoughts with a far better analogy than I could have come up with – although I think of Stanton maybe as a Dodge Charger to Chapman’s 105 MPH Porsche! :D

    • @CI3J: I think the money that Stanton would require could be a huge obstacle. I haven’t seen much of him, but his defense is, reputedly, worse than nothing special, and defense is a big part of the Red’s success: the Dunn era team had boppers and didn’t field well and didn’t win much. Even good pitchers largely live and die by their fielders, and further compromising the gloves will weaken the pitching, thus diminishing 2 areas in which the Reds excel.

    • @CI3J: While I’m not sure that Stanton would be my target, I’ve been saying for several *years* that if the Reds were just going to use Chapman in the bullpen, they should instead trade him to another team who would pay the premium to use him as a starter. You can see from Chapman’s usage this year, relief pitchers just can’t be that valuable compared to a starter. This year, Chapman has fewer saves than most closers in the league. The way the Reds use him generates as little value as possible for him.

      I’m not going to go all “woe is me” on this issue (yet) but is the organization really doing what it can to beat the Cardinals? Finishing as a wild card team is a terrible deal because of the one-game play-in.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: That just sent a shiver down my spine! Not to mention bringing back ugly memories from game five last October which was essentially a one game playoff in which we saved our bullpen. Ugh!

      • @Steve Mancuso: I don’t want to trade Chapman, but if he’s to be traded, the Marlins would like to have him even more than other teams. But their owner is so erratic, who knows.

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        Just curious Steve, who would you target? I don’t think Josh Willingham is worth trading Chapman for. I chose Stanton because he’s still very young (23) and has already developed a respectable track record as a power hitter. You’d have to think he still has room to improve both offensively and defensively.

        • @CI3J: I don’t want to ignore your question. But I haven’t given this careful thought and I’m kind of swamped this morning. A few months ago, I’d have certainly included Stanton on the list, maybe at the top of it. But (a) he’s hurt now and (b) he certainly played a lackluster right-field in Cincinnati last month. That said, a healthy, motivated Stanton would be worth considering. I agree that Willingham is nowhere near enough.

          Let me think about this some more. Maybe it deserves its own thread soon.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Although I was part of the “Chapman should stay in the pen” crowd this year, your mention of “years” made me think of another point. The Reds were able to sign Chapman because they saw him as potentially a very good to great starting pitcher and offered him a larger deal because of it. Some of the other teams in the race to sign him, either thought his development would be too long as a starter or that he was likely a MLB reliever. They balked at giving him a larger deal because of the risk/reward factor apparently. So, if you’re the Reds and you’ve paid him a higher amount because you thought he could be a starter, which was Walt Jocketty’s stated intention from the beginning, why has it never happened?

    • @CI3J: Just wondering, why do you think Baker is moving towards Hoover as the stopper. If Chapman is on this team, he’s the stopper; I think Hoover got the save opp when Chapman couldn’t get anyone out that one game because he’d already used Broxton.

        • @TC: OK, but that’s pretty nonspecific. Broxton is signed through 2015. If they mean 2016, well, that’s a long time from now.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

        Sorry, guess I worded it badly.

        What I meant was, Dusty has, by his actions in this limited season so far, designated Hoover as the closer-in-waiting. Hoover has 2 saves this year, one in the game you mentioned, where Chapman looked like he was about to blow it, then another a few days later.

        In the first game, yes, Dusty already used Broxton. But in the second game, Broxton was still available but Dusty instead elected to go with Hoover.

        It’s worth noting that Hoover is the only other pitcher on this team that has recorded saves besides Chapman this year. Personally, I think Hoover could do every bit as good of a job as Chapman, and I’m glad Dusty seems to see it that way too.

        Thus, if this organization refuses to try him as a starter, Chapman is expendable and hopefully someone would pay the premium for him based on his potential as a starter, just as Steve said. We have a closer ready to take over, so why not use Chapman to fill one of our needs that has long been a problem, namely, filling LF with a young, right handed power bat?

        • @CI3J: I happen to think Hoover is better than Broxton, but it’s hard for me to believe that if they traded Chapman tomorrow, that Hoover gets the job. Maybe you’re right that Dusty is leaning towards him, but I would have to believe that Dusty would go with the veteran, “has been a stopper before guy, and we can’t give up on him” Broxton.

          I don’t think Hoover would be as good as Chapman. But he might have approximately the same save percentage. That’s probably your point, and I’d agree.

          I have wanted Chapman traded for a long time now, ever since it was clear he’d never leave the bullpen. Which was several years ago. I’d need to see what the most they could get for him is. Maybe Stanton is it. Would be interesting to find out.

    • @CI3J: First off, the Reds aren’t going to deal for a LF because they are going to get Ludwick back around the trade deadline anyway, and have him signed to a big contract for next year too. That doesn’t just go away.

      Second, the Marlins are trading all their expensive players for prospects in the minors they can control. They aren’t going to trade a cheap Stanton for a guy like Chapman that is already making a lot of money and stands to have it go up in arbitration.

      Finally, look at some of the other blockbuster trades that have gone down in the last few years. If Stanton does get moved this year it will be for at least 3 minor leaguers, and maybe 4. Hamilton and Corcino would be a start.

      • @al:

        I would be fine with trading Hamilton as well IF they sign Choo to an extension. I would not mind a few more years of Choo. I said that in my original post. But I would at least offer Chapman first and see what kind of response it got.

        Stanton is cheap now, but he is arbitration elgible for the first time after this season. His price is going to go up. Chapman at least is signed for another….. 3 years, I think it is? at his current price tag.

        And for the LF question, I am not in favor of trading for a LFer…. UNLESS it’s someone like Stanton. I feel Stanton is exactly what the Reds need: young, right handed, power hitter. There aren’t many players out there who fit that description who are potentially available for trade. In fact, I can’t really think of another realistic option.

      • @al:

        Basically, what I feel about LF is this: If you’re trying to trade for a stopgap solution like WIllingham, that’s pointless. But if you can trade for a player who could potentially be around for a long time and impact this organization for years to come, you do it. Chances like that don’t come along often, and it’s something the Cardinals do very well. (See: Holliday, Matt)

        I know Ludwick is signed, but guess what? Our bench would be that much stronger with a guy like Ludwick there, and you could set up a rotation of Ludwick/Stanton/Bruce to keep everyone fresh.

        Basically, I don’t see Ludwick’s contract as a valid reason not to pick up Stanton if the opportunity is there.

        • @CI3J: I can see the argument that Ludwick’s contract is a sunk cost etc. I just don’t think that this front office is going to share that view.

          An $8mil bench player is just not something we’re going to see.

  10. Unless there’s an injury, Cingrani has options and will go down. Leake is the 5th starter. That’s the way it sounds to me if I read between the lines of Chris Welsh and Dusty Baker. I still say we should have kept Travis Wood but that’s just me.

    Marlins are bad. Jeez. A call into the Marlins Ticket Office: what time does the game start? What time can you get here?

    Sandwiched between Choo and Votto, one would think you’d get lots of pitches to hit. I know, we’re 24-16 but does the Shortstop have to bat 2nd? It’s the little things that drive me nuts with Dusty.

    • @sezwhom1: I’m a Dusty defender, but Isturis batting 2nd last night had me searching for some plausible explanation beyond obsessive habit–I have a few, and perhaps Dusty does, as well. There may not be ideal options for 2nd batters, but there must be some who would be improvements over whichever good field/no hit guy is playing shortstop.

  11. Like the Cossack, I’ve been taking meds, and I’ve been imagining the Reds in a one-game, winner take all, wild card game.

    It goes like this: Reds and Nats clinch the two wild card spots with 5 games to go in the season. Nats reshuffle to get Jordan Zimmerman on the mound. Reds do not, because why would you want to do that, and just look, Leake’s turn is up for the big game.

    Leake starts and pitches well for 4 innings. Votto hits a 3 run homer after a Leake single and a Choo hit by pitch (Cozart popped up on the first pitch, of course), Reds up 3-0, bottom 5. Leake loses it and with 2 outs, sacks are loaded, Harper up. Baker chooses not to bring in Sean Marshall, because he needs to give Leake a chance to get the win. Harper goes yard, 4-3 Nats.

    Later in the game, Choo hits a grand slam, and the Reds are up 7-4. Bottom 7, 2 out, no one on, and Lecure is pulled from the game because Danny Espinosa comes up, hitting .043 on the year, and Marshall comes in to retire him. But bottom 8, Broxton is brought in; after all, Marshall is a LOOGY. Broxton gets into trouble, getting an 0-2 count on every batter, but several get hits. 2 outs, bases loaded, still 7-4. Harper up again. Baker can’t bring in Chapman, because that’s not how things are done. Harper goes yard again, 8-7 Nats. Baker pulls Broxton, puts in Chapman to get the final out of the 8th, and Reds go 1-2-3 in the 9th. Nats win, 8-7. Reds official twitter feed posts a picture of Baker extending one of his fingers to the media, even though no one asked him why Chapman wasn’t brought in to face Harper.

  12. Even though Hannahan didn’t hit last night (he did draw a walk), I liked the day off for Frazier. That was a good move by Dusty. Frazier isn’t only struggling, he’s very obviously frustrated as well. He needed a day. I’m not sure about the off-day for Cozart though who had been swinging better. If Dusty wanted to get Izturis in the lineup for some reason, he could have put Izturis at 3B last night. Maybe the Cozart off-day was already planed or maybe Cozart was under the weather or something.

    • @LWBlogger: Dusty plans many of the off-days, so it’s hard to say. All in all, Dusty gets too much criticism for player days off. In the long run most of us recognize the need, but when a player is rested on a given day, people don’t like it that day.

      • @pinson343: My level of criticism with Dusty here is not for “pre-planning” guys’ days off, but rather for ending up with two guys with the same day off. … It appeared that Frazier badly needed a day off, granted. So couldn’t Cozart’s day off have waited a day or two? Pre-planning is commendable, but a little flexibility wouldn’t hurt, either.

        Against the Marlins, I suppose it matters less than it might against a better team, but it just seems over 162 games that two of the starting eight don’t need to be out on the same day, barring injury.

  13. Having Iztruris bat second is consistent with statements Dusty has made: “It’s OK if the number two hitter makes an out.” My translation: The number 2 hitter is a guy who’s expected in many situations to make a “productive” out by bunting or hitting a ground ball to 2nd base to move a runer to 3rd. This is 1970’s (and older) baseball.

    I should add that it’s conservative 1970’s baseball. Earl Weaver was the best manager of that era, and said it was crap. Earl: “If you play for a run, you only get a run.” Earl: “My favorite play is the 3 run homer.”

  14. On aggressive baserunning, what is the percentage success at taking the extra base necessary to break even. With stolen bases, it’s around 70%. I wonder what it is for taking the extra base. The same?

    I do not believe that the baserunning style has much to do with scoring runs. Over the long haul, I’d be surprised if it is more than 10 runs per season. Keep in mind that outs are made also by running aggressively. That seems to be ignored…

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I heard somewhere in just the last few days that the SABR folks are revising way down the success rate necessary on aggressive baserunning and steals because of the general decline in offensive production. It was probably on MLB Now, but I cannot swear to that.

  15. I’m shocked that in this whole thread there wasn’t one mention of moving Choo out of the leadoff spot.

    He’s got 9 HRs now and 20 extra base hits. He leads the team in SLG by more than 100pts, and has 14 more total bases than Phillips. I just don’t know how much longer the team can look the other way on this.

    Xavier Paul has a .371 OBP, which is well above average for a leadoff hitter.

    Paul
    Phillips
    Votto
    Choo
    Bruce
    Frazier
    Cozart
    Hanigan

    I know, it’s too many lefties in a row for Dusty, but I don’t know, something’s got to give. Our leadoff hitter would be the cleanup hitter on almost every other team.

    • @al: Not my favorite “fantasy” lineup but pretty cool all the same. Wouldn’t you, just once, like to see Dusty get creative and go for it? Just once?

    • @al: If I didn’t think Paul’s OBP was primarily the product of a small sample size, I’d probably like that lineup. The thing is though, with the Reds scoring runs and winning games, there is no “baseball reason” to shake up the lineup. That’s an interesting lineup but there’s no way I’d do it right now if I were a manager.

      • @LWBlogger: Thing is we are beating up on the bottom-feeders (Marlins, Cubs, Phillies, Brew-Crew) but what about when facing the Big Boys? I’ll feel a lot better when we can take a series again a division leading team.

      • @LWBlogger: I hear you, they aren’t going to make a change while they’re on a winning streak.

        And maybe Votto and Bruce are going to start hitting for more power, and the point will be moot.

        Right now, since we don’t have a lot of team HRs, it feels like a waste to have the guy leading the team in longballs hitting first.

    • @al:
      Get really creative:

      1. Paul
      2. Votto
      3. Phillips
      4. Choo
      5. Frazier
      6. Bruce
      7. Mesoraco
      8. Cozart
      9. Pitcher

  16. Leake is a #5 starter with opposing teams hitting 307 against him. They hit 200 against Cingrani.

    Yes he has given up a few homers, but he is also 3rd on the team in strike outs in 28 innings.

    My problem with Leake is that teams hit 307 against him. He does not seem to have an out pitch.

    I am fine to watch Bronson walk next year and allow both Leake and Cingrani into the rotation.

    I am fine to see Cingrani work on his secondary pitch in the minors but remember, so far this year his ERA is ZERO at AAA, usually a pretty good indicator that someone might be ready for the next level.

    I do not see how the Reds can go wrong, they can send him out for a few more months, but he will be up by Sept 1 again, this time for good.

    So the questions is, who needs more work, the guy who gets hit at 307 or the guy who gets hit at 202. The guy who is 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA or the guy who is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA

    Sure you can say it is a small sample size, but Leake has a large sample size and 307 not great.

    As far as trading Chapman, I would do it in a heartbeat since they are not going to start him.

    The problem is that you trade him to the Marlins, who need good young starters and Reds fans will be even madder than when Hamilton was traded.

    I would not trade Hamilton.

    Hamilton, Choo, Phillips, Votto, Mesaraco, Bruce, Frazier, Cozart

    That is a good blend of youth and experience go forward. Choo versus Stanton is a good question if you are going to sign another big contact?

    Our line up doesn’t need more HR’s. it needs more hits with runners in scoring position

    • @reaganspad: The reds are 21st in HRs and 9th in AVG with RISP. We’re only 16th in AVG overall, so we’re hitting considerably better with RISP. So what are you talking about?

    • @reaganspad: Odds are drastic that teams aren’t going to keep hitting 200 against Cingrani, especially once he gets around the league once and the book gets out on him. So, with your argument, you’re trying to say that Cingrani is as good at Strasburg, BAiley, Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Wainwright, among several others, who all have BAA higher than Cingrani’s? Geez, Soriano, as poor a hitter as he is, even hit 2 HR’s against him in his first 2 AB’s against him.

      Cingrani still needs some seasoning. Let him get it. The place for that is in the minors. He’s only had 19 minor league starts above Single A, if I recall correctly. It’s not going to hurt the team to allow him to get it. Cingrani does have more upside than Leake. But, don’t pull a “Homer” on him. Let him get his time in.

      Geez, there is one pitcher from who had a perfect game last year and another who was one out away from a perfect game. Guess where they are now? The minors. Mark Fidrych, great pitcher as a rookie, didn’t last past 3 seasons, after being called up as a rookie at the age of 21. Cingrani has plenty of time. His importance to the club isn’t going to be in this season. It won’t probably start till next season, and that won’t be anywhere near as important still as Cueto, Latos, and Bailey will be.

      The overall success of this team isn’t going to be between Chapman, Leake, nor Cingrani starting in the 5th hole. It’s going to be everything and everyone else. For, regardless of our start, we are still the same team we have been the last 2 seasons. Offense is feast or famine. And, we are still losing to playoff caliber teams. Baker still doesn’t know how to manage a bullpen. We’ve got a lot more and a lot bigger problems than Leake and Cingrani.

      • @steveschoen: I think the point he was making, and I agree with it, is that some guys have to do their learning at the big league level.

        Look at Bailey’s minor league stats. He rarely dominated. He was challenged at pretty much every level. It was clear that he had stuff to work on, but the Reds needed pitching so they rushed him.

        Cingrani is nothing like that. He’s striking out everyone. He doesn’t have to throw his other pitches to be effective, and so he doesn’t. He’s clearly a capable major league starter right now, and pitching with the big league club may be the only way he ever develops into a great pitcher.

        • @al: I’m really tired of the Bailey vs Cingrani comparisons, when there’s nothing to compare there. Bailey did not have the stats to be called up to the majors when he was.

  17. If we’re talking about who the Reds might sign long term, I think we have to accept the reality that Choo isn’t going to be a Red next year. We love him, we’re enamoured with him, and he’s great. “Thank you” to Uncle Walt. But he’s been great his whole career. He’s new to a lot of Reds fans, and I think it feels like finding gold… but he’s been pure stuff for awhile, and some team out there is going to be willing to pay him for it. I just fear Votto and Phillips’ contracts have used up the quota of “boy, wouldn’t it be great if they’d be Reds for awhile” contracts, especially when thinking about Latos and Bailey to boot… without whom Choo’s bat matters a whole lot less.

    In my dreams, like many fans, Choo will stay, maybe because he like the team or whatever… but I’m not counting on it. If there can be some trading away of others or salary tricks done, I’d love to see it happen. But what… 1 in 10 chance right now? Stupid Boras.

    • @Matt WI: I agree, especially when you consider that the Reds get a first round pick if they let him go, and nothing if they keep him.

      The problem, again and again, is Ludwick. That was just a bad signing. The Reds could have gotten Choo and had Heisey and Paul split time in CF while waiting on Hamilton. Choo in LF hurts the defense less, and the could have possibly used the Ludwick money next year to sign Choo.

      There certainly would have been a better chance at keeping him if they hadn’t signed Ludwick.

  18. Why are the Reds hitters not working on their clutch hitting? Where are the coaches on this? Do they even practice clutch hitting?!

  19. I think we’re likely looking at another year where the Reds don’t really get better midseason. I expect we might pick up another reliever, since we usually do. But where else are they going to get better?

    Ludwick will be our upgrade at LF. They aren’t going to get a replacement for him after signing him to a 2 year deal and getting one game.

    Bruce is locked up long-term, all we can do is hope he gets back to form. In May he’s hitting .292/.306/.583 so that’s a lot better.

    Frazier’s hitting around .220, but with enough power to be about average. I can’t see the organization moving him or benching him.

    Cozart has been terrible aside from a few games. His .594 OPS is Valdezesque. It’s painful to watch Didi crushing the ball, but the organization is clearly committed to Cozart and he does play great defense.

    So I don’t know. I want the Reds to win now, and I think they need to get better to do that. I just don’t see where they realistically can improve without getting way more creative than they’ve been recently. The Stubbs move was pretty bold. It’s going to take something like that.

    • @al: If there’s a spot to move, I think it’s Frazier’s… I’m not touching Cozart for anything else because of his defense after they’ve already sacrificed some with Choo in CF.

      And, short of a definitive medical set back and write-off of Ludwick, I think you’re right that there will be no new LF.

      So if you were going to get a slugging 3b, who would you go after and with what? Frazier/Chapman or Frazier/Hamilton would yield????

      • @Matt WI: Good question, I really don’t know. I think if it happened it might have to be something really creative.

        My guess is that Walt is looking at top tier starters, even though our rotation is good, because he seems to be in on the aces every year.

        So this is totally just spitballing, but I could see something like Leake, Frazier, and Stephenson for Cliff Lee and Kevin Frandsen. The Phils get a top prospect, and two younger guys with MLB track records.

        The Reds don’t really get that much better at 3rd, maybe even a tick worse, but the rotation gets nuts.

        Cueto, Latos, Lee, Bailey, Arroyo is easily the best rotation in the NL.

  20. It also just blows my mind how differently the Reds have played vs the “good” and “bad” teams this year.

    We’re 6 and 13 against WAS, STL, PIT, and ATL. That’s a .316 winning percentage, or basically a tick better than the Marlins. So far against winning teams we’re essentially the Marlins.

    But then we’re an absured 18 and 3 against losing teams. That’s just unbelievable. We aren’t just beating the teams we’re supposed to beat, we’re destroying them. The Reds are treating teams under .500 like college teams, or teams from Germany. It’s like watching the original Dream Team.

    • We’re 6 and 13 against WAS, STL, PIT, and ATL. That’s a .316 winning percentage, or basically a tick better than the Marlins. So far against winning teams we’re essentially the Marlins.

      Keep in mind that only six of those 19 games were played at home. The Reds are 3-3 against those opponents at home.

      Obviously, you want to do better than .231 against those teams on the road, but something tells me that will improve a bit before the end of the season.

    • @al: Exactly, I mentioned this the other day. They can’t keep killing bad teams like this, but they also won’t keep losing to good ones either.

    • @al: One of the biggest culprits there is the 3-game sweep vs Pittsburgh. They’ll have many more opportunities to reverse that line.

      PIT 0-3
      STL 2-4
      ATL 1-2
      WAS 3-4

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