2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: A homer for you and a homer for you and a homer for you and…

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 4

W: M. Leake (7-3)
L: F. Liriano (5-3)
S: A. Chapman (18)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–It was a night filled with solo homers. All four Cincinnati runs scored via the solo shot, including upper deck blasts by Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier. Frazier’s homer gave the Reds a lead they would not relinquish.

In the eighth inning, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce got in on the action with homers of their own.

–Mike Leake pitched an outstanding game, allowing only one run on six hits over seven innings. Leake is now 7-3 with a 2.64 ERA.

–Tony Cingrani struck out two hitters in the eighth, in a very tense and important situation (in his first relief appearance of the season). Probably the most exciting point in the game. Sure, Aroldis Chapman got the save (and Aroldis pitched well), but Tony Cingrani collected the most important outs in the game.

NEGATIVES
–None.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–The mighty Redlegs are now fifteen games over .500, at 43-28. That’s good.

–The win means the Reds move a game and a half ahead of the Pirates in the tight NL Central race.

–Leake is 7-3 with a 2.64 ERA. Raise your hand if you predicted that before the season. I couldn’t be happier for Leake, who (like Homer Bailey) has often been maligned among Reds fans.

–Aroldis Chapman came up and in to Neil Walker in the ninth inning, nearly hitting the Pittsburgh second baseman. I’m sure the Pirates will get their underpants all twisted up over the errant pitch, whether it was intentional or not. The Pirates seem to be really insecure when it comes to nonsense like this, always wanting to prove a point, to show that they belong. It’s a desperation that is palpable.

The truth, most likely, is that they secretly know what the rest of us know: they are pretenders and they’ll be also-rans in this pennant race soon enough. (Although I certainly concede that this is an organization that is set up nicely for the next few years. Not yet, though.)

Source: FanGraphs

113 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: A homer for you and a homer for you and a homer for you and…

  1. Mike Leake’s line over his last 7 games: 47 IP 6 ER 39H 7BB 1.14ERA .97 WHIP 6W 1L. That’ll do Mike. That’ll do.

  2. At least Baker was quoted comparing Cingrani to other starters who began their careers in the pen. That does give comfort. Heck, I like the idea in general. So did Earl Weaver, among others.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Gives me comfort too. I understand the concern that if Cingrani is in the bullpen the rest of the season, it will slow down the development of his secondary pitches and so might slow down his development as a starter. Only a couple of weeks ago, I argued that Cingrani should start at AAA until September.

      But as everyone here knows, the bullpen situation has become dire. Without Cingrani there could have been yet another 8th inning meltdown tonite, and the 3rd 8th inning loss to the Pirates in 2013.

      The concerns about Cingrani in 2014 are largely due to the Chapman situation. One difference here is that Cingrani has already proven that he can start in the major leagues, Chapman never got that chance. Also the view that Cingrani and Chapman will both be in the bullpen next year is just plain unrealistic. One of them will be needed to replace Bronson, and that will be Cingrani.

      • @pinson343: Perhaps you’re right. But perhaps Cingrani showed that he can work on his secondary pitches out of the bullpen too. I have no idea what kind of wrinkle he was throwing for balls last night, but he tried that pitch 5 times during his outing.

      • @CI3J: Guys–stop with the comparison to what is going on with Chapman. It’s not relevant. Dusty is getting away with what he is doing with Chapman because the front office supports it. Why? Because they no longer believe in Chapman as a starter. They are spooked by the tired arm last year and possibly are concerned that he doesn’t have the mental makeup to start. Whatever their concerns, whether physical, mental or both, it has nothing to do with Tony Cingrani.

        • @Richard Fitch:

          Agreed. I do think the front office signed Chapman with expectation that he would be one thing but have come to realize he’s not what they thought he was. Bad scouting? Who knows.

          I was just pointing out that just because Dusty made a comment about Cingrani starting out in the pen and transitioning to starters as others have done doesn’t necessarily hold any weight as he said the same thing about Chapman.

          I do think there is about 0% chance Cingrani becomes exclusively a reliever. He’s only there as a stopgap solution out of necessity. And yes, you could say ‘The same thing happened with Chapman and Madson!’ But it’s really not the same situation at all.

        • @CI3J: I agree, also. Bad scouting? They probably were overwhelmed by his velocity, just as we are. No real way to know in advance how it would work out, and some big money suitors in the wings, so they take a flyer? His role now is clearly not just Dusty’s decision, though, right or wrong.

        • @Richard Fitch: It actually is the exact same thing. It just hasn’t gone on as long right now. But, it started exactly the same way. We needed some left handed help in the pen, we had a left hander in AAA, so we called him up for the pen. The only question, will it continue. The only difference, Cingrani has proven to be a good starter at AAA and the major leagues, Chapman has proven not to be a good starter at AAA.

        • My only concern is that “Baker” has Cingrani, now. The fact that Baker has little reputation of being able to use a pen very well, I’m afraid he may burn Cingrani from the wrong end.

        • @steveschoen: The difference you cite is an important difference, though: Chapman was not a reliable starter in the minors, and Cingrani practically defined reliability. That would seem to be important.

        • @steveschoen: The exact same thing? Nope. The bare bones of the situation are similar, but that’s all. The two principals involved are different pitchers and if you think the particulars about Chapman don’t figure into this, guess again. The front office went out and paid Broxton serious money to close–and then reversed course. That should tell you something. One big red flag and mabe more. My guess is a confluence of factors led them to give up on Chapman.

          They won’t do that so easily with Cingrani. He’s already proved he can get it done starting in the majors. The rest will be about developing and proving he can STAY up here and be effective.

        • @Richard Fitch: How ara they different, Rich? Is Chapman a finesse pitcher? Nope. Is Cingrani a finesse pitcher? Nope. No one has any idea what differences you are talking about. The principals? Those are people who head schools. The particulars? I mentioned specific particulars that don’t support your argument; you mentioned none that do support your argument.

          I am asking to prove it wrong, Rich. The Reds needed southpaw help in the pen each time. Both players were power starters in the minors at the time. Both (at least now Cingrani is up here for it now) are called up to assist with that weakness. The only difference, Chapman wasn’t a successful starter in the minors, Cingrani was. If you want to dismiss all of this for some sort of generalities, that’s your problem. Broxton’s situation barely if even nibbles at this situation in the least.

        • Dusty is getting away with what he is doing with Chapman because the front office supports it. Why? Because they no longer believe in Chapman as a starter.

          @Richard Fitch: The front office supports it as of when? If the front office agreed with Dusty all along, why did they waste their, his and another potential starter’s time by working Chapman as a starter in the last two Springs? To me, it doesn’t wash.

        • @Richard Fitch: I don’t think I implied that. If they did a 180, they did it with one week to go in a Spring Training where Chapman had excelled as a starter. What seems obvious (though clearly speculative) to me is that the front office wanted him to start, but with totally reasonable doubts, while Dusty (and those who supported his position – he certainly was not alone in that) had ZERO doubts that he wanted Chapman to remain his closer, and felt strongly enough about it to put public pressure on the front office to reinforce those doubts and get his way.

          I think you’re right that Cingrani’s success so far reduces the likelihood that he gets stuck in the pen. But if we start having the conversation regarding whether or not Cingrani can pitch into September/October next Spring, we’ll see just how far the parallels between Cingrani and Chapman actually go.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Arroyo will only be resigned if the Reds get a huge discount. I don’t doubt Arroyo could still possibly get the job done. But, at the kind of money it would cost the Reds, I’m not sure they want to put that much money toward a pitcher the caliber of Arroyo.

          As for Chapman, the club never was set on Chapman. They were also considering what the Nationals had to go through with Strasburg. At best, the Reds did a 90 degree turn. Baker whined to the papers for a decision one way or the other. If the club was set on Chapman as a starter, they would have gone with that way. They were never set on Chapman as a starter. Chapman’s whining in the papers pressed them. So, they had Chapman as an experiment as a starter, or Chapman definitely as a closer. They went with what they knew they had in Chapman.

        • @Richard Fitch: I don’t see how such an unequivocal statement is possible. It will only take one act—signing Arroyo—to keep Cingrani in the pen for another couple years.

          Arroyo is going to sign with someone after this season, and I’d guess it will be a 2 year contract. Leake, Latos, Cueto, and Bailey will be in the rotation in at least 2014 and probably 2015 too. If Arroyo is re-signed, what exactly is Cingrani going to do?

          I’m certainly not saying this will happen (and I wouldn’t term it likely, but maybe a 30% chance), but there is only one potential spot open next year in the rotation. The team loves Arroyo, that’s known. He’s having a good year. He might be willing to sign for something like 2 years, 25 million. The organization is strictly more likely to do this if Cingrani performs very well in the pen in 2013. If that were to occur, and Cingrani spends two years in the pen, then….what?

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Why would a small market team sign a 36 year old pitcher to another contract? I’m being unequivocal because Jocketty is too smart to do such a thing. You may not agree, but that’s the reality. This is Bronson’s last contract rodeo. He thinks he can pitch until he’s 40. He’s not taking a two year contract and the Reds aren’t in the market to risk paying him $8-12M per year for an aging pitcher who could go south at any moment when they have Cingrani for pennies. The Reds already rolled the dice on the last contract extension. They aren’t doing that again. They don’t need him or the risk.

          You are very enamored of the conspiracy theory that the bullpen is some roach motel that Dusty is looking to lure every prospect into. Guys go into the bullpen because they are failed starters. Cingrani isn’t a failed starter yet. And there’s going to be an opening in 2014, even if they have to make one.

        • @Richard Fitch: Your comment about my “conspiracy theory” is a fabrication. I said, clearly, that I think it’s more likely than not that it doesn’t happen. But I do think it could, and I think it’s strictly more likely if Cingrani pitches great out of the pen and Arroyo posts a good season. Consider this.

          1. The Reds are not a “small market team”, as you asserted, unless the team with the 13th highest payroll qualifies as small. They are a mid market team. Will you clarify your statement?

          2. What’s a worse contract: (a) Broxton for 7M per year in each of 2013, 2014, and 2015, or (b) Arroyo for 12M per year for 2014 and 2015? I’d personally take (c), none of the above, but I think most people would say (a) is worse. Point is: every GM makes mistakes. You could also have said Jocketty is too smart to have given a sore-armed aging reliever 21M over 3 years, right? I like what Jocketty’s done overall, but no one is perfect. To say there’s no chance is silly. Also, I doubt someone is giving Arroyo a 3 or 4 year contract. I’d be shocked. I bet he gets 2 years (or maybe 1).

          I love how you said “that’s the reality”. I’m sure if they do sign Arroyo, you’ll be back on here to comment. Or maybe not. Come on, it’s another person that you don’t know (I assume?) making a decision. There’s no reality, only probability. I doubt you’d actually bet 100 dollars to my 1 dollar on this proposition.

        • Regardless of what one person says about it, the situations between Cingrani and Chapman are exactly the same. As for Chapman being a starter:

          1) That was never written in stone; even I was interested in the experiment, but that’s all it was going to be. And, if it worked, great. But, then. . .
          2) Chapman’s history as a starter in AAA wasn’t good. From what I gathered from the reports, he could get through about 4 innings like any other pitcher, then after that, blew up.
          3) Some people love to just see a 100+ fastball and think “he’s a starter”. There is so much more to making a starter, it’s ridiculous to just see a 100+ fastball and think that. “Oh, he has a slider, also.” There is still much more. 1-2 more breaking pitches. Being able to throw any of them for a strike at any time. Hitting locations. Can he field? Can he hold runners on? Can he hit? Can he pitch to his locations? All of these are weak at best. The only other argument I have heard with these, “But, everyone says how athletic he is.” Lebron James is athletic, also. But, I still wouldn’t trust him to do any of those things.
          4) The club wanted the experiment, wanted to see what Chapman could do as a starter, at best. Again, an experiment, nothing definite at all. Baker like a whiny crybaby ran to the papers insisting on a decision from the front office. Baker wanted something definite. The front office caved to Baker’s pressure and went with what they knew they had, Chapman as a closer.

          Trying to say the club did a 180 is definitely incorrect. At most, it was a 90 degree turn, since the front office was leaving the door open. Baker’s whining to the papers is why the club caved.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Yes, they are small market. 13th in payroll because the owner is opening the wallet. Nevertheless, one of the smallest, maybe “the” smallest city to have a professional baseball team. Which is reflected in the very small season ticket base despite the success of 2010 and 2012. Plus the inability to get a substantial walk up each night because they are drawing from places like WVa and Columbus,which are hours away. The week night attendance still says “small market” to me. The point is and always has been, that they don’t have the money to invest in a 37 year old pitcher. They’ve already made large commitments to Votto and Phillips. They have other priorities. Like locking up Bailey and/or Latos. And you think a 37 year old pitcher takes priority with leftover money?

          I didn’t think the Broxton deal was a great thing, either, but it was tied to the commitment to transition Chapman to the rotation. That’s the explanation for going out on a limb there. In fact, the Broxton signing refutes Steveschoen’s assertion that the Reds weren’t committed to Chapman starting. They don’t offer that kind of deal to Broxton they weren’t at one time committed to Chapman in the rotation. Something changed the mind of the front office aside from Dusty’s whining. The tired arm. Could have been some maturity issues they saw coming to the fore. Could even be something related to the legal issues he has in his future. Maybe a combination of all three or something else we aren’t privy to. We don’t know.

          More to this than simply Dusty, is what I’m getting at.

          You guys don’t give Jocketty enough credit for knowing what he is doing. You kind of gave yourself away there by insisting you don’t see Arroyo getting more than a 1 or 2 year deal from anyone else. So, the rest of the GMs in baseball are smarter than Walt now? There’s no one who won’t throw money around? The Angels? The Yankees? The Rangers?

          Just the Reds? For a 37 year old pitcher?

          Yes. It’s my opinion. I stand by it. It’s not happening.

        • @Richard Fitch: OK, fair enough on market, let me rephrase. All that matters is the payroll for the purposes of this discussion, and it seems to me the team has committed to a higher payroll going forward than a small market team would pay. See, for example, your co-editor Steve Mancuso’s prediction of a 160M payroll by 2017. (Or, I guess you could say I’m into conspiracy theories and pulling numbers out of the air.)

          I’d say that Broxton and Marshall both are investments that are highly questionable at best, unless you’re going to say that both were supposed to be closers. I also do not think that the Broxton deal refutes anything. We do not know. You do not know, and I do not know. Considering his deal is only 1M or so more than Marshall (maybe 1.5, I can’t remember) per year, it’s certainly possible that that was a “setup guy and maybe closer” contract.

          You are also making things up and attributing them to me. I said I think Jocketty has done a good job overall. Let me repeat that so you don’t do it again: Jocketty has done a good job. I don’t think the decision is as trivial as you make it out to be. We do not know the entire situation, as you just said with Chapman, for the finances/projections/etc for the team.

          In terms of the rest of it, your rant about me giving myself away is strange. Why is it not possible that the market for Arroyo will be 1 or 2 years? It could be 3 or 4, I suppose. But maybe one team or two teams offer him that and he doesn’t want to play there. It is possible, you know. I don’t understand why you are attributing “stupidity” to Jocketty here by me. I don’t want him signing Arroyo, but it wouldn’t necessarily be stupid to imagine a 36 year old pitcher getting 2 more years at mid price (10-12M per) who has put up good numbers the last two years. Either you are misunderstanding what I’m saying, or you are doing this on purpose. I can’t say. I don’t believe I’m misinterpreting what you are saying, because your position is fairly clear, I think.

          Again, all I’m saying is that (1) they might sign Arroyo, and (2) it is strictly more likely if Arroyo and Cingrani perform well from here on out in their current roles. More likely doesn’t mean > 50%.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I’m not disputing Steve’s payroll numbers, Hat. But, we are talking now, not 2017. By then, there will be all kinds of other contracts and arbitrations coming due: they have a lot of young players on the cheap now. At some point they will have to pay those guys or let them go.

          We know Broxton got Closer money. A year AFTER Marshall got his. Interpret that as you will. I know what it tells me and what it told Mark Sheldon:

          Before the Reds make any decision about moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, they had to be sure they had a capable and experienced closer ready to step up.

          The club felt that person was free-agent reliever Jonathan Broxton, who was re-signed Wednesday to a three-year, $21 million contract. The deal includes a $9 million club option for 2016 and a limited no-trade clause. If he is traded, it becomes a $22 million contract with a mutual option.

          And, sorry if you misinterpreted. I’m not ranting. I’m merely suggesting you are slanting your argument. The Reds have every reason to say goodbye to Bronson–they need the money elsewhere and they have a more than suitable replacement who is vastly cheaper.

          Yes, you’re right. It’s possible. Anything’s possible. But why would they want to do that?

        • @Richard Fitch: First, *I* wouldn’t do it, but the reason that they might want to do it is certainty. Arroyo gives certainty in workload. (If his fastball dips to 86, then the results will be bad, but he’ll pitch a lot of innings. If it stays at 89, you have an innings eater who’s a bit above league average. That’s probably worth a good bit of money. Look at Pittsburgh and how their bullpen may well collapse by August because of the strain on it.) Somehow I think my words sounded like I hate Jocketty, which isn’t the case. I am frustrated with a few things he does, but his top level decision making—getting Latos and Choo—along with the Paul and Robinson deals, alone, means that he’s doing a good job.

          I agree that I haven’t provided any evidence about 2017 in terms of contract analysis and you are right that there will be big contracts. But 60M more in payroll is a lot of cash, too. I’d say it’s hard to tell.

          On the closer thing, I think Sheldon’s point actually was my point. Before *considering* Chapman for the rotation, they had to have an experienced closer. (Note: I disagree with the idea that Broxton is who they’d have wanted, but they wanted a closer.) The point I was trying to make is that 7M was for a setup man OR closer. I think if they’d have signed a guy to surely close (say Chapman wasn’t a Red, was hurt, or was a starter in 2012) it’d have cost more than 7M per year, assuming that it was anyone with Broxton type numbers.

        • @Richard Fitch: Arroyo is old for a pitcher, certainly, but he certainly isn’t getting the job done on fumes alone. He might easily be capable of two more high-quality years, given his level of conditioning and his style, which relies marginally (89mph vs. 87mph)on velocity. I would not be too eager to see him out the door, either: he’s effective, a contrast to the power pitchers, and by some accounts, a mentor to the resurgent Mike Leake.

        • @greenmtred: “Green”, I agree. I was incredibly skeptical/opposed to about the Arroyo deal last time and was proven badly wrong, and I’ve learned my lesson. I personally wouldn’t risk another contract, but the idea that there is no way the Reds will sign him again is wrong. I don’t know what the payroll situation is, I don’t know what Jocketty is thinking, I don’t know much. Neither does anyone else, in terms of what the Reds are thinking, even if they claim to. Unless they are actually in the organization.

          I don’t like John Fay much, but I do think he knows some things, and he said a few weeks ago that resigning Choo might come at the expense of Arroyo. Well, that certainly suggests that there’s at least some chance Arroyo’s back, right?

        • @greenmtred: Yeah, sure, he might be capable of giving to more good years. It’s just that teams like the Reds can’t afford to take that kind of risk. And it is high risk. Count the number of 37-38 year old starting pitchers who are thriving in MLB today. The Yankees can afford to pay Andy Petitte $12M at 41 years old.

          The Reds can’t. And I don’t think Walt is a dumb as other here do. Where’s the money going to come from to pay Latos or Bailey?

  3. I agree the Pirates aren’t quite ready yet, I don’t think, but they are a lot better than last year.

    In terms of headhunting or whatever, I think that everyone here would be incredibly angry if Jason Grilli threw a ball near Votto’s head, whether accidental or not. I sure would be. I think it’s disingenuous, frankly, to pretend otherwise. Chapman could literally kill someone with one of those pitches.

      • @zab1983: I think most of Chapman’s inside to far inside pitches are because he’s just wild. I’m simply saying that the idea that the Pirates getting upset is getting their underpants in a bunch, or whatever the terminology used was, seems disingenuous. As far as I’m concerned, the Pirates should be upset, and that we’d be upset here if the situation were reversed. Look at all the times Phillips got hit. Some of those were probably unintentional, too.

        Chapman throws really hard and, pitch to pitch, he can be wild. I’m saying that some of his balls are incredibly wild, that’s all. And that I think he’s kind of dangerous out there on the mound. It certainly makes it harder to hit him, but it’s also a bit frightening.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Yes about Chapman being scary. That pitch to Walker (which I agree was unintentional) was very scary.

          I’m also concerned that the Pirates will throw at BP again now.

        • This is one reason why I didn’t support Chapman as a starter. As a starter, you have to be able to hit locations. Chapman definitely has a problem with that.

          I will say, if Chapman is that wild, as a GM, I would question whether to bring him up or not. I would have no problem with my pitcher pitching inside. But, a wild pitcher pitching inside and getting those results, sorry but I just don’t quite like it that much, for not only would he be putting our players into danger, but that he is putting anyone into danger.

        • @steveschoen: So there’s no chance that Chapman’s control issues have something to do with the fact that he’s only allowed to pitch one inning at a time? That he might get his control dialed in a little better in a second or third inning?

        • @RC: Good point. Or, you can very well spin it as, given more innings, there would be more opportunity for those inside fastballs to actually hit a head.

        • @TC: I’m not saying I want Chapman to be gone, I just feel that if he can’t control a 100MPH fastball, he shouldn’t throw it.

        • @TC: Sometimes we all say things we don’t really mean TC. I often find myself reading your comments and thinking, “Hmmm – I hadn’t thought of that. He might be right.” But you botched this one, and your follow up misses the point too. If Chapman hits someone, that’s an unfortunate part of the game, and yes he needs to be working on his control. But if he or any other pitcher hurts someone, let alone kills someone, that’s a terrible thing no matter who he’s pitching for. I know that your first response wouldn’t be “Thank goodness he’s not a Red”, it would be “Please let him be ok”. I understand your point from your self-reply, but the original comment is an E-TC. Now go take some more ground balls.

        • @Chris DeBlois: LOL. Point taken. Ans you are right. That was botched. The ultimate point was if he can’t control the ball at 100MPH he shouldn’t throw it else he’s going to kill someone. I did not enjoy seeing what I saw last night.

        • @TC: Spooky to consider that the last time (I believe) a major league hitter was killed by a pitch, his (the hitter’s) name was Chapman.

      • @zab1983: Chapman got ticked off at Swisher the other nite but there was no way that tonite’s pitch to Walker was intentionally so near his head. He was the leadoff hitter – Chapman didn’t want the leadoff hitter on base – and the count was 2-2.

        Chapman’s control was poor tonite even for Chapman. That’s relevant in the obvious way, it’s also relevant in that Chapman did not view this an automatic save, though some people here do. His control was not good and Walker and McKenry, the obvious PHer, have both given him problems. In short, no way that he wanted Walker on base.

        • @pinson343: How do we know what Chapman thought? In terms of automatic, of course nothing is strictly automatic, but a 3 run lead with 7-8-9 coming up is close.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I think this is my once-annual disagree with Chad. I think the Pirate are for real, not pretenders. I think everyone is a little insecure about having a 100MPH ball pass through the same space your head occupied a tenth of a second earlier. I also think the Pirates handled that very calmly last night.

  4. I don’t have a problem with Cingrani in the bullpen. The bullpen is hurting right now. Besides, the bullpen is littered with starters. Chapman and Cingrani are obvious. LeCure has starter stuff and did well in limited innings as a starter. Simon had 16 starts the year before he came to the Reds.

    Cingrani can be a full time starter next year when Bronson leaves :(

    • @Gregg: Yes and yes. Tonite was Exhibit A in why the Reds need Cingrani in the bullpen FOR NOW. Not sure exactly what “for now” means, but certainly not next year, and that will not become the plan, he will replace Bronson in the rotation.

      Today of course there was a thread about Cingrani in the pen, a good post and some good comments.

  5. Cingrani in the bullpen will calm it down a bit, very needed. I think he could be a very valuable late inning weapon, especially since Marshall and Broxton are hurt.

    Chapman
    LeCure
    Cingrani
    Simon

    Those 4 are pitching great right now

    Hoover- I think he needs to buckle down and be consistent

    Parra- Obvious LOOGY until Marshall returns, he’s got a 3 week window to prove he belongs on a contender

    Partch- Def earned respect the other night, if he continues to throw the ball well, he deserves to be here.

    Hopefully Marshall, Broxton and Masset get healthy and rested and come back strong and productive. I have faith Nick will be back at the same time Luddy comes back, which would be huge.

    • @Josh: Good analysis. Unusual optimism about a strong return from Masset. I’m not being sarcastic, it’s refreshing. As for Luddy, I hope his power is intact when he returns. If he can hit for power like he did once he got rolling last year, the Reds offense goes from good to formidable.

      • @pinson343:

        I think both those optimistic projections (Masset coming back strong/at all and Ludwick coming back with power) are pipe dreams.

        Sorry, but something is seriously wrong with Massett. He’s starting to remind me of Brandon Webb, to use a recent, well known example. Iwillbe shocked if he ever becomes an effective MLB pitcher again.

        And in Ludwick’s case, shoulder injuries are death to power hitters. If he were a slap singles hitter, ok, but for a guy whose value lies almost exclusively in his power, I think the chances of him being a useful piece for the Reds this year aren’t good at all.

        • @CI3J: As someone who has had the same injury, you are correct. He’ll get his strength back to 100% in time, but not his quickness and he’ll NEVER trust that shoulder like he used to. Of course Ludwick has a better PT department than I did. But I was 17 when I had that injury, he is in his 30s, so who knows how he’ll recover.

        • @CI3J: Hope that you are wrong, fear that you are right. I haven’t been too unhappy with the LF platoon, though: Robinson, in particular, brings speed and defense to the table. I continue to be impressed by, and to enjoy, the Reds’ generally strong fielding: it’s the element of the game in which they usually have the edge over opponents.

        • @CI3J:

          Pipe dreams are correct. About shoulder injuries and coming back from them, look no further than the Dodgers Matt Kemp this year after his shoulder injury. Look how he is hitting this year and his power numbers. Just not the same. It takes about 18 months to regain that power for younger players, and Ludwick is no spring chicken.

        • And in Ludwick’s case, shoulder injuries are death to power hitters. If he were a slap singles hitter, ok, but for a guy whose value lies almost exclusively in his power, I think the chances of him being a useful piece for the Reds this year aren’t good at all.

          I could have used this quote in my Gloom and Doom post back in April when I argued the Reds needed to make a trade to replace Luddy. :-)

    • @Josh: Great analysis. But I will point out Parra has spent years to proving he does not belong in the majors. I also think LeCure is a great pitcher, but not right now.

  6. Todd Frazier homered for the third time in his last 6 games? I think it’s time to bench that bum again. Need to give Hannahan some more starts/AB.

  7. So, now that Dusty has Cingrani we can move Chapman back to starter, right? I mean, if a guy only has a fastball and needs to work on his secondary pitches wouldn’t you rather take the guy whose fastball is 100 MPH and who already has a devastating slider? (For those who think the organization doesn’t trust Chapman as a starter: the Broxton signing and Chapman’s work as a starter in spring training beg to differ. I think they were worried about Marshall in spring training, plus they were happy with Leake.)

    On a more serious note, the move of Cingrani to the pen makes sense. To me, the argument about slowing his development as a starter doesn’t worry me: let’s Win Now. The only real argument against the move IMHO is that he’s no longer available in case Cueto or someone else gets hurt.

    • @Eric the Red: As you describe, Chapman is still missing a lot as a starter. Most pertinent, as a starter, he has to be able to hit locations a lot better. As teams have shown, as Rose himself have said, given time, any major league hitter will be able to catch up with a 100+ fastball. But, given location, Chapman has proven he has essentially little ability with that. Others we have/haven’t seen enough of worry me as well. I don’t believe he holds runners on very well. How does he field? How does he hit? Closers don’t have to worry about location, holding runners on, fielding, and hitting much at all. Starters do.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’d be willing for an experiment with him. I don’t think it would work, though, because of these. The last time he started in significant time, at AAA before being called up, the scouting report was he could go fine for about 4 innings, but would melt down after that.

      • @steveschoen: He has little ability with regard to location? Every time Chapman goes through a bout of control issues, everyone overreacts. I remember his SS/BB number in spring training being something ridiculously good, like 18/1. Then he started out with almost identical numbers when the season started. His season numbers are better than Verlander’s. I also think looking anecdotally at this work as a reliever who works infrequently and extrapolating how he’d do pitching with 4 days of rest is a worthless exercisise.

        But TC is right. That ship has sailed.

        • @Richard Fitch: Yeah, but…Chapman does strike out a lot of guys for every one he walks, but many of those strikeouts are guys swinging futilely at pitches out of the strike zone. Nothing wrong with that, if it is by design, but I’m uncertain that Chapman can consistently hit a spot, and that could be a problem with increased exposure; 2nd and 3rd time through the batting order, good hitters would wait him out and start timing his fastball, which he might not be throwing at 100mph in, say, the 6th inning.

        • @Richard Fitch: It sounds like you are drastically underestimating what is meant by “location”, commonly thought of by the common fan as simply getting the ball over the plate (thus, I will give you a pass), when it actuality it is much, much more. He can get his fastball over the plate? Great. Can he get it 4 inches off the plate when he wants to? 2 inches? 6 inches? Can he it the top left corner of the K-zone? The bottom middle? The middle right side? This is location to pitchers, especially starters. That’s one reason why Hanigan is considered a good catcher, the pitchers can hit where he puts the glove. Chapman has always had a hard enough time doing that, even when he has good control. Pitchers don’t keep batters offbalance with just 100+ then sliders. Pitchers will throw high, low, inside, and outside, also. Chapman has shown little if any command of this.

        • @steveschoen: I have to agree with that. Chapman has good control in general for a guy that throws as hard as he does. But not great command. He is so good with his fastball that he gets a lot of swing and miss on balls, which is great, but I don’t think he’s good at hitting a target say on the corners. Nor does he often have to. That’s the advantage of throwing 99.

        • @steveschoen: You have a helluva scoop there, Steve. It’s where the catcher puts the glove that is responsible for a pitcher’s success, now? That explains why Mesoraco doesn’t get more playing time. Needs to quit putting the catcher’s mitt behind his back, yeah?

          Too funny.

        • @Richard Fitch: So, Mr. “Conspiracy Theory” has never heard of a “catcher framing a pitch”. Dude, quit being a mole. Or, go somewhere else. This is a professional blog for real baseball fans.

  8. On a different note, has anyone noticed that Jay Bruce is hitting the other way and is becoming much more consistant? He looks like Mr. Votto took him aside and explained how to hit to the opposite field. And he’s doing it with some power! I used to cringe when I’d see opposing defenses ‘put the shift on’ to the right side of the infield against Jay, but now I’d love to see them try that crap. I hope that this is a sign that he’s finally becoming a complete hitter. He’s got a great teacher if he’ll just pay attention.

    • @Jeff in TN: That has been a topic of conversation many times since we noticed it in the first week of the season. He’s hitting op-age, and he’s working counts. Those are two things that are new this year. He’s still not the 2-strike hitter Votto and Phillips are, but if he can become as good as Phillips he will have transformed himself into a superstar.

      • @TC: I’m encouraged by his new approach, also, after initially being unimpressed by the results. It’s true that he’s striking out way too much, but I wonder whether that’s an inevitable phase in his change of approach. Hoping so, anyway.

      • @TC: I had seen it mentioned before but I guess that since his April wasn’t so hot, I really didn’t notice where he was trying to improve. It’s become very apparent that he’s maturing into a more versatile hitter and as strong as he is, I just don’t see a lot of infield hits (or ground-outs) anymore which would make the ‘shift’ very ineffective. Still, I hope that teams will keep trying to use the shift as it will open up the left side that Jay is finally hitting to and will make them pay for it or make them play him ‘straight up’ again.

        • @Jeff in TN: MLB Network did a slow breakdown of their swings from the side the other day and they are nearly identical! All that was different was their approach. Could you imagine if Bruce’s approach starts to match Votto’s approach?

  9. Pirates relievers have pitched about 50 more innings than the Reds. You’re bitchin’ about Dusty? Hurdle has bigger issues going forward. We’ll get Marshall and Broxton back for the 2nd half. Look, not a Dusty fan but we’re 15 games over .500 and the 2nd best team in baseball right now. Only 2.5 games behind the best team. Give Toothpick a break. This is also without Ludwick. Seriously, 15 games over .500 in mid-June is really, really good! 25 & 12 at home and 18 & 16 on the road. I have no complaints.

  10. I just don’t know how anyone can be happy about seeing Tony Cingrani put in the pen by this organization. It is EXACTLY what happened with Chapman in 2010 only we don’t have nearly as much money invested in trying to keep Cingrani a starter. The worst thing that can happen is he’s effective there. Chapman is locked in as the closer from now until he’s not a Red anymore. Marshall is a LOOGY now, especially if he can’t stay healthy, and Dusty will always want another LH arm in that pen. For the life of me I can’t figure out why this organization seems to value relievers over starters, but it’s becoming clear that they do. The money tied up in Chapman, Broxton, and Marshall show that, not to mention trading Wood for Marshall in the first place. I have a sick feeling in my stomach that somewhere in the bowels of GABP the conversation has already happened where someone said “I just don’t know if he can develop a changeup” and that was that. Another potentially elite starter wasted. And no one can say I’m being paranoid because we all gave them the benefit of the doubt with Chapman and look how it’s been handled.

    I said it in the game thread last night but I’ve noticed it for a while. At the end of a win, when everyone’s out on the field giving high fives, Dusty comes out and gets in the line to congratulate everyone. Everyone gets high five or a pat on the butt…except Chapman. Chapoman ALWAYS gets a big hug. If any other reliever closes a game, no hug. Bailey goes 9 innings, no hug. Votto goes 6-for-6 with 19 RBI’s, no hug. Chapman saves a 3-run lead? Big hug. Dusty is INFATUATED with the closer myth. Cingrani represents an almost plug-and-play replacement for Chapman should he get hurt, go into a slump, or possibly end up as trade bait.

    • @eric nyc: I don’t see this being about the “Closer” role in itself but more about how Dusty motivates Chapman. I obviously don’t hold Baker in high regard as a strategist but I do believe he is an excellent motivator.

      As far as Cingrani goes: not only do I think it is the right move but maybe the only viable move, if winning in 2013 is the goal. Neither Walt or Dusty have the luxury of not doing everything they can to go for it this year. So, to me, it would be a poor choice to send Cingrani down at this point and to not do so based on that we think a better decision will be made later on, is folly. We can’t prevent the Reds from making a bad decision, in the future, based on making a bad one today.

      Walt & Dusty are paid to win now, not in 2014, 2015, etc. I don’t think Bob C. would understand finishing the season out of the playoff picture. There is probably a lot of pressure on those two to not only make the playoffs but to advance a round or two. This is how it should be, IMO.

    • @eric nyc: It was mentioned earlier, but Chapman and Cingrani had very different outcomes as minor league starters, and that, reasonably, should have been considered. The Reds value the pen over the rotation? Consider the states of each; I find it hard to justify your conclusion. The pen is injury-riddled and, given that it typically pitches a third of the innings, it needs to be shored up. I wish there were a viable option to Cingrani, too, but there really isn’t for a team with playoff ambitions.

  11. Important win last night given the pitching match-ups for the series. That was the Pirates’ best chance to win a game with Liriano on the mound. Not predicting a sweep or anything like that, but the odds of the Reds winning 3-of-4 are much higher now. With the difficult road trip and upcoming schedule, it is important not to get tripped up by the Pirates at home.

    I sort of come down on the side of Pirates as Pretenders, but only because of their pitching injuries. Their hitting is still nowhere near the level of the Reds or Cardinals. But they had a decent starting pitching staff prior to all the DL trips. The back-end of their bullpen is the best in the division, or at least as good as the Cardinals. But I don’t see them being able to hang in there with such little offense and so much hurt pitching.

  12. While in general I’m opposed to Tony Cingrani pitching in the bullpen, I support it now given the emergency created by both Broxton and Marshall being on the DL, particularly Marshall. And I certainly like the idea of having him there for the post-season as well.

    The test for the Reds will be what happens when Broxton and Marshall return. Will Baker be so addicted to having Cingrani that he will publicly make the case for keeping him there like he did with Chapman, making it difficult for Jocketty to send Cingrani back to being a starter. In my opinion, the “urgency” ends when the bullpen is back to full strength.

    Cingrani should return to being a starter as soon as possible for these reasons (A) there is no one else who can credibly step in to be a starting pitcher if one of our five gets injured, (B) he needs to keep his innings up so that he can pitch a full load next season, (C) he needs to keep working on his secondary pitches which is challenging to do when in the bullpen.

    Having Cingrani ready to step in as a starter IS a “now” issue, not the future. See: Pedro Villarreal vs. Colorado.

    • @Steve Mancuso: What’s your thoughts on Greg Reynolds if they can add him to the 40-man? I must say he’s peaked my interest enough to be planning to trip to Louisville just to see him pitch.

      • @TC: He has also piqued my interest. I inquired of him to Doug Gray via twitter but was told that he was just a ‘spot filler’ or something of that nature.

        I am surprised that his AAA performance hasn’t changed that outlook somewhat.

        • @rightsaidred: He’s got an absurdly low HR rate this year, which is probably unsustainable, and he doesn’t miss bats. He’s one year off of a 5.3 ERA. I’m guessing that’s why they aren’t calling him up, but who knows.

      • @TC: I don’t really know that much about Reynolds. Moving him to the 40-man roster (and bumping someone else off) may be a larger issue than the talent aspect. Reynolds track record over many years in the minors and a couple stints in the majors argues against reading too much into his few starts in Louisville. That said, I don’t really know enough about either him or Pedro Villarreal, for example, to have an educated opinion.

    • @Steve Mancuso:

      “Having Cingrani ready to step in as a starter IS a “now” issue, not the future. See: Pedro Villarreal vs. Colorado.”

      Well stated, excellent points all and I’m in 100% agreement. Kind of like do you first stop the bleeding or instead go directly to the operation? Their hands are tied.

  13. The Sound of Home Runs

    ‘So Long, Farewell, auf wiedersehen, good bye!’

    Good win last night, I would have Chapman’s wildness as a slight negative. He does seem to have a very narrow window of too much rest and he’s rusty, too little and the arm gets tired. Counter-intuatively, a starting role may be better for him. A regular schedule of work and rest might be a positive, but we will more than likey never know.

  14. Just to indicate how much more a starting pitcher can influence a team compared to a closer, Tony Cingrani has pitched more innings for the Reds this season than has Aroldis Chapman.

    • Just to indicate how much more a starting pitcher can influence a team compared to a closer, Tony Cingrani has pitched more innings for the Reds this season than has Aroldis Chapman.

      Just thought that was worth repeating.

  15. If he doesn’t have the makeup to be a starter, he doesn’t have the makeup to be a closer.

    “They are spooked by the tired arm last year and possibly are concerned that he doesn’t have the mental makeup to start.”

    As far as injury risk is concerned, where do you have a bigger chance? Pitching every 5th day, knowing your routine or getting up every night in case you get into a game?

    In the last year and 1/2, how many injuries have we had in the starting rotation (Cueto) versus the bullpen….. Marshall, Broxton, Chapman, Massett, Ondrusek, Bray

    There are many more injuries in the pen because of the nature of the work. And if you do it well, like Marshall or Massett, and pitch in 70 games for 2 years in a row, you are guaranteed to have a bum arm in year 3.

    Now that may happen with starters also, but it does not seem to.

    Do what you need to do for 2013 to win, and then 2014 starts a new.

    No way Bronson is coming back in 2014. That is the time to put your best pitchers on the field.

    As far as Chapman’s control, I will take a “wild” 1.51 ERA pitcher on my staff any day. Just need to get him more innings in the most logical place…starting in 2014.

    Pittsburgh has proven that you can find closers anywhere

  16. This temporary move to the bullpen is exactly what the Reds and Cingrani need. He fills a need until Marshall and Broxton return, and at the same time we tap the brakes on his innings total. I mean, the last thing you want is 180 innings on his arm and (hopefully) an extended playoff run staring you in the face.

    I’d also like to put in a good word for Cozart. Even after a long, bad stretch, he’s 12th out of 20 in the ML for OPS for shortstops….and half the guys ahead of him are lesser defenders. All things considered, he’s pretty good.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: Great point about Zack. He may never be a HOFer or even an All-Star but he is solid and brings a lot of intangibles i.e. hustle. Looking for a new SS should not be any kind of priority. It should all be about pitching, pitching, pitching with a side plate of LF.

      • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Mostly I agree about Cozart, but I didn’t like him jogging to first base on a grounder that he hit Sunday. Looked like a case of Phillips-itis. … It’s only 90 feet, bust your tail down there.

  17. I’m still impressed with Leake. So many were looking to write him off after a bad season last year. Like I have said with so many, wait for the second season. Leake was just one good season away from leading the team in wins and ERA (Cueto didn’t have enough innings to qualify, at least with the league). Bad season last year. I was ready to agree with everyone “if he had a bad season this year” to say Leake won’t be any good. But, I have to see 2 seasons in a row.

    Something to remember for any young player if not any player at all. Check for the good or bad second season. If they can repeat a good season, you may have a winner. If they repeat a bad season (especially after having a good season the year before, like Leake), you probably don’t have much.

    • @steveschoen: I’m certainly very happy with Leake’s results this year, though he’s pitching way above his advanced stats. Just something to consider going forward. Heck, if he finishes with a 3.5 ERA (his current FIP), I’ll take it.

      It’s good to see that his BABIP is pretty similar to last year. The big difference is that this year he’s not giving up home runs, which is why his FIP is about a point better than last year, but his xFIP is about the same. Could be he’s keeping the ball down more often this year.

  18. I love watching Mike Leake pitch – not only for his pitching, but also his fielding and hitting and all the ways he competes. I’m thrilled that he’s having the year that he is. That said…

    His quality starts have come against: Philadelphia, Chicago, Cubs again, Miami, Mets, Cleveland, Pirates, Cubs again, Pirates again.

    The only good offense in that bunch is Cleveland. The rest are all at the bottom of the NL.

    His non-quality starts have been against: Washington, Pirates, Washington again, St. Louis and Atlanta.

    His next five starts will tell a lot: At Arizona, at Texas, SF Giants, at Milwaukee and at Atlanta.

      • @CP: I wasn’t meaning to single out Leake. The Reds have faced a lot of the light-hitting lineups this year so far. Homer does have quality starts this season twice against the Nationals.

        Last year, Homer’s September run did happen against weaker teams, for sure. But during the season he also had quality starts against the Braves (twice), Cardinals, Detroit, Dodgers, Milwaukee, the Giants and Washington.

        And don’t forget Homer’s post-season masterpiece, either. :-)

  19. One of my favorite stats: Career wins – Mike Leake 35
    Best-pitcher-ever-according-to -espn-from-same-draft 24
    (you know the guy)

    Yeah, maybe he’ll eventually catch him. But then again, maybe not.

  20. Just a few observations from the Old Cossack.

    @Jeff in TN:

    Has anyone noticed that Jay Bruce is hitting the other way and is becoming much more consistant? He looks like Mr. Votto took him aside and explained how to hit to the opposite field. And he’s doing it with some power!

    Bruce actually began a serious effort to hit to the opposite field last season, just not successfully. Everything he hit to LF last season resulted in a soft fly ball to the outfielder. Another year of experience and work has yielded significantly different results. Bruce is now hitting line drives and power fly balls to left field.

    @Sultan of Swaff:

    I’d also like to put in a good word for Cozart. Even after a long, bad stretch, he’s 12th out of 20 in the ML for OPS for shortstops…and half the guys ahead of him are lesser defenders.

    I’ve seen a few isolated derisive comments about Cozart’s performance, but most of the comments regarding Cozart have been more directed to him hitting in the top of the order (not Cozart’s choice) rather than his individual performance. His recent hitting improvement simply emphasizes his lack of suitability to hit in the top of the order rather than lower in the order. Cozart is a hitter, a slugger, a free swinger. Cozart does not get on base. Even during his recent hitting surge, his OBP is composed almost exclusively from his batting average. Cozart needs to hit in the lineup where he can drive in runs rather than score runs.

    @pinson343:

    I don’t know why Dusty made limited use of Marshall (largely as a LOOGY), but he’ll use Cingrani more in the 8th and more against RHed hitters, especially with Broxton out.

    I was thrilled with Simon going 3 innings on Sunday and resting the entire bullpen. In the 8th inning yesterday, I thought the Reds had a perfect opportunity to again use a reliever for multiple innings and rest the entire bullpen. The Bucos had a LH hitter leading off the 8th, with 2 of the 1st 3 hitters being LH and 3 of the 1st 5 hitters being LH. That situation screamed for a LHP to wade through the high leverage situation presented by the 8th inning and for the same pitcher to continue with the low leverage situation presented by the 9th inning. Cingrani was perfectly situated to pitch both the 8th & 9th innings, but he wasn’t brought in to begin the 8th inning and he was pulled immediately after the 8th inning, so the Reds used up 3 relievers when only 1 reliever was necessary.

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