2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: Now that’s more like it

Let’s recap today’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Cincinnati 6
Milwaukee 2

W: M. Leake (8-4)
L: J. Hellweg (0-3)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–Hey, that Mike Leake is pretty good. Leake pitched into the ninth inning today, giving up two runs on four hits in eight and a third.

–Good to see Shin-Soo Choo have a good game. Choo reached base four times (3-4, BB, 2B, 2 runs scored). Brandon Phillips had a couple of hits and three RBI, giving him 67 on the season.

–Jay Bruce was 2-4 with a walk, a run scored, and 2 RBI.

–Aroldis Chapman converted the save by securing the final two outs of the game.

NEGATIVES
–Zack Cozart actually reached base once today (on a walk), but that .261 OBP is awfully ugly in the #2 spot in the order.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–Nice win, and I think we all needed it. As noted in the game thread, however, losing back-to-back series against the Mariners and Brewers is a bit deflating.

Then again, as was also noted, the Reds were two inches (Votto’s robbed homer to end Monday’s game) from winning this series. It’s a game of inches, I guess.

–My favorite comment from the game thread, however, was this one from msanmoore: “No Milton today!!

–Cincinnati’s leadoff hitter reached base in each of the first seven innings. It’s a wonder they didn’t score more than six runs.

–I used to say this about Drew Stubbs, but it applies to Cozart, too: if Dusty would just put him in the eighth spot in the lineup, I really wouldn’t have any problems with him.

–Three-game losing streak over. Time to head to Atlanta and get a winning streak going, I say.

Source: FanGraphs

106 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: Now that’s more like it

  1. I’m cautiously optimistic for the 2nd half. Aside from Leake and maybe Cingrani, who has significantly over-performed to date? Even without counting Ludwick/Broxton, I think the combination of Marshall coming back and an uptick of production by Cozart/Frazier/Heisey/C’s will help the O pick it up. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised with a huge 2nd half from Votto, and another run by Choo. Even considering the last 6 games, the glass is still half full.

  2. Another thing. Raise your hand if you predicted Leake would be leading the rotation in Wins, ERA, and IP at this point in the season. How large has that been, considering the injury woes to Cueto? After all the hand wringing, perhaps the front office made the right call after all leaving Chapman in the bullpen.

    • @Redgoggles: Disagree. Leake has been fantastic no doubt, but the idea behind Chapman starting this year was to get him stretched out (or vetted) for the coming years. If he was doing terrible we’d still have Leake as a backup. I mean you can’t really look at it and project anything if the decision had been made differently as far as this season goes, I just hate how much potential is getting wasted there. Either way, huge fan of Leake’s efforts this year. He’s been pitching his heart out for us and you can’t help but respect it.

      • @Mwv:

        I never understand why everyone just assumes Chapman would be good/great as a starter. He relies solely on his fastball most of the time. His slider can be very wild. In fact, Chapman battles wildness from time to time. I even think he’s been more hittable this year than usual.

        • @Eric: Look at your statement and replace Chapman with Cingrani. What’s the difference between the two of them except that Chapman has a better fastball and a better slider?

      • @Mwv: While Chapman as a starter intrigues me, I was speaking of this year. If Chapman was a starter this year, it is very likely that our starting pitching would be weaker (assuming he would have taken Leake/Cingrini’s place), plus without Chapman (and Marshall/Broxton) in our bullpen, I think things would be worse. Long-term? I doubt we’ll ever know.

    • @Redgoggles:

      …perhaps the front office made the right call after all leaving Chapman in the bullpen.

      Considering the possible career threatening injury to Cueto and the almost certain loss of Arroyo to FA after this season, the Reds may very well need another starter, besides Cingrani, for next season and may also need to replace a front of the rotation starter. Chapman might have filled that role, but we will never know at this point. Let’s just hope that Cueto can fully recover and resume his promising career.

      • @Shchi Cossack: Did I miss some news about Cueto? In one sense, of course, any sort of injury to a pitcher is potentially career threatening, but has something been said to upgrade the normal concern about Cueto?

        • @greenmtred: I think he has just injured the same muscle 4 times since the end of last year. That’s not good.

          e. He made the step to legitimate ace by making serious strides with how he commands his pitches. He sacrificed some strikeouts for a low low walk rate and inducing more ground balls. If he can’t pitch and stay healthy with his current delivery, they are going to have to change it, which certainly has the potential to affect his command. This frightens me

        • @Jared Wynne: Yes, it frightens me, too. I did know that it was a recurring injury, and that is cause for lots of concern, but I hadn’t heard anybody say that it was career threatening before.

    • @Redgoggles: As a matter of fact, just before Opening Day I crafted a very extensive comparison (& posted in the Q TML blog) in re Leake’s ML career & how it parallels that of one Greg Maddux if you counted GM’s first 3-4 seasons in the minor leagues as equivalent to Leake’s to date. I even called him Mike Leake-Maddux there in expectation of a potential ‘salary drive’ breakout year. My favorite thing about him was that he competes so well all 3 phases … hitting/fielding/pitching.

      What he does I now name it “Pitch Fu”

      He should get him some professor glasses

      now too!

    • @Redgoggles: there were plenty of us here who said all along that BOTH of them should have been stretched out as starters. The fact that Cingrani (a power lefty that mostly uses his fastball) has had to make so many starts already this year just confirms that.

      The Reds should have expected an injury in the rotation. Chapman should have been throwing lots of innings in the bullpen, in the 6th – 9th innings and been ready to make a start when needed.

      The only reason not to do that is if you fall in love with the idea of a closer.

    • @Redgoggles: A few years ago we were satisfied finishing a season above .500. Then we were satisfied making the playoffs. It’s time we set our sights a bit higher, on a deep playoff run at the least, with a WS title a real possibility. THAT’s where we need Chapman in the rotation. In Game 3 of the WS are you really comfortable with Leake? Just imagine what Chapman could have brought to the playoff rotation….and remember that guys like Jason Grilli can do the Closer’s job.

      • @Eric the Red: This is true, and we did experience Leake starting a playoff game last year.(@#%*OY@#$*@!) But, you are assuming Chapman would seamlessly transition into a stud starter. No guarantee – see his Louisville stats from a few years ago – plus, if we are going to project scenarios; are you comfortable with Broxton coming into Game 7 of the WS to save a 1-run game? Sorry, but even though Chapman scares me from time to time there is a wide gulf of comfortability/reliability between him and any of the other Reds relievers.

        For the record, I was (and am) on the fence with the whole Chapman as a starter debate. In hindsight, it does appear the front office made the correct decision for THE FIRST HALF OF THIS YEAR with the injuries to the BP, and Leakes performance to date. (Or perhaps they lucked into it.) That is all I was trying to point out.

  3. My glass half full perspective is that we have lost our number 1 starter, cleanup hitter, and two eighth inning pitchers for a significant portion of the year and are still hanging around. I am not sure there are a lot of teams that could say that and still be in contention (WLB’s and their deal with the d#^!% excepted).

    The glass half empty side is the bullpen and starters have done pretty well as is, and I cannot say I predict an improvement second half. Nor do I think Ludwick is likely to make a huge difference and the holes in the batting order, use of pitchers and lineups are not likely to improve. Would really be nice if we could find a RHB either as a bench player or Ludwick insurance going forward, but also cannot say I see that guy right now.

    Nice to have relevant baseball to watch though. We are a little spoiled the last 3 years after some of the seasons that went before.

  4. Zack Cozart actually reached base once today (on a walk), but that .261 OBP is awfully ugly in the #2 spot in the order.

    Sans the black hole hitting #2, the top 5 hitters were 8 for 16 with 2 2B & 4 BB. If the #2 spot had been filled by XP rather than a black hole, the top 5 hitters would have been 9 for 19 with 2 2B & 5 BB.

    Six runs was nice to see but the rally killing outs from the black hole hitting in the #2 slot continues to keep this offense from competing at it’s top efficiency. Cozart now has a solid grasp on the lowest OBP of all qualifying hitters in the NL and is now putting distance between himself and his nearest ‘competitors’.

      • @beelicker: You are absolutely correct. Out of 5 PA, Cozart had 1 productive AB when he walked leading off the 5th inning for a .200 OBP, even worse than his season-to-date OBP. Cozart also scored as a result of his lone productive AB. Imagine how effective the offense might be if the Reds had more productive AB’s from the #2 hole.

        The other run Cozart ‘scored’ was the result of a productive AB by Choo who was eliminated on a FC from Cozart. Cozart scored the run, but the only contribution he made to scoring the run was another out from the #2 hole, hitting between Choo and Votto.

  5. Last season, Dusty and Jacoby ‘managed’ Stubbs to a slash line of .213/.277/.333 and utilized him in the top of the lineup to the detriment of the team. This season Stubbs has a slash line of .249/.300/.397 without any assistance from Dusty and Jacoby. Such a performance is not going to earn Stubbs any all star consideration or even any comeback player consideration, but it’s a significant improvement and he is not being used inappropriately, to the detriment of the team.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I’ll wait until the end of the season. So far, yes, he’s a lot better than last year, which isn’t saying that much. He’s a slightly above average player, though, if he puts up a 96 OPS+, given the defense and speed.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Of course, he’s in a different league, facing pitchers who haven’t learned how to neutralize him yet. Am I correct in my recollection that he was decent his first year as a Red and got worse each year thereafter?

  6. Wow, the Giants are 12-28 in their last 40 games. They just got swept by the Mets…at home.

  7. I think this whole idea of Chapman as a starter is gone. He won’t be a red much longer and what time left will be as our closer.

  8. Anyone notice Mike Leake and Travis Wood have the exact same ERA? Both have pitched 117 innings and given up 35 earned runs. That’s remarkable.

    • @DenL42: A lot of people (including here) used to call Travis Wood the LHed Mike Leake. In 2013 that’s turned out to be even more true than expected. Good to see both of them pitching so well – especially Leake, of course.

    • @DenL42: It really has been insane how those two pitcher’s careers have been a reflection of each other.

      So question, has Marshall’s value been equal to Leake’s? I love Marshall, but probably not. I’m wondering if the Marshall/Woods trade was worth it.

      • @TC: Hard question to answer, isn’t it? On the one hand, the Reds needed a dominant relief pitcher more than they needed a left-handed Mike Leake starter at that point. On the other hand, Marshall isn’t pitching at this time.

  9. Hitting Cozart 8th would make sense on a number of levels. The main one is that he’d no longer be hitting 2nd. But also, given the fact that he’s apparently never going to steal a base for the rest of his career, on those rare occasions when he does reach base the pitcher can make a productive out by bunting him over, and his speed will improve the odds of successful sacrifice bunts. (I have absolutely no idea why the team is advantaged by having the slowest players hitting in front of pitchers, but I’m sure nobody has ever dared ask Baker about that.)

    • @Baseclogger: In 253 ABs batting #2 Cozart has hit .257 which would be the current 5th highest BA on this team. Yet in 68 ABs from the 7-8 spots he’s hitting .132 … so explain just how it makes all kinds of sense to hit him #7 or 8?

      A successful sac bunt is 98% on the bunter’s execution. Why waste a primarily fast guy #8 for a sac situation when the bunter is by far the most responsible for the success of a play that really doesn’t happen all that many times?

      Small stature & strike zone, good eye, quick bat, little power & an ability to hit the ball where it’s pitched (mostly off the plate due to the reality of the pitcher coming up next) are all more relevant for choosing a #8 than speed

      • @beelicker: It makes sense to hit him 7th or 8th because he’s terrible. There is no way a player hits way better, long term, in the 2nd spot than down in the order. Plus it’s 68 ABs in the 7-8 spots, as you say. Do you really think he’d hit .132 if he hit down there every day?

        Even if you believe that the #2 slot stats are real, his OBP is below .290, which is horrible.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Check out a hot zone chart for him. Batting in front of 3-4-5 hitters pitchers are more forced to pitch him in the strike zone & make him to hit his way on base rather than walk him, which he is doing to the tune of the current #5 highest BA among regulars while hitting strictly #2. He has a short, quick stroke & smaller strikezone which also maximizes this effect. He is also asked to give himself up in a catylyst vein via grounding to the right side in the least which depresses his OBP & runners on pct. He is being asked to put the ball in play & make things happen to move runners over.

          His splits also reveal he has hit .265/.295/.405 in 185 AB with nobody on base (getting on base for Votto) & .292/.346/.438 in 48 AB leading off an inning + both of those splits also incorporate the 9 for 68 ‘production’ periods of when he hit #7-8 (so the strictly #2 numbers are actually better). These are NOT “black hole” numbers.

          With Choo on base over 40% at #2, the righty Cozart has both the right side of the infield holding the runner on opening holes for him to shoot for AND the pitchers’ concentration divided to him at the plate & his hot zone charting also reflects his ability to take the outside middle pitch to RF.

          With little protection from the hitters behind him @ 7-8 pitchers don’t need to come into his sweet spot & he swings at pitches up in the zone he can’t hit in frustration.

          Again, he HAS hit .257 #2 (would be FIFTH highest BA on the team) vs .132 in 7-8 so HOW does it “make sense” to consign him (who’s going to be the # 4 to 5 number of AB player on the team as the regular SS) to the bottom of the order? He’s also likely the #1-2 most likely Red to score from first on a Votto or BP double.

      • @beelicker: If Cozart is only capable of hitting .132 ANYWHERE in the lineup, then he shouldn’t be in the major leagues. If the guy can’t even hit .240 when he hits 8th, then why is he even on the team? Is he going to be the team’s designated #2 hitter for the rest of his major league career, because he can’t hit major league pitching at the bottom of the order?

        • @Baseclogger: My belief is that Cozart can establish himself as a .3oo hitter if left to develop in the #2 hole. This is a good match of a free swinging contact hitter in a free swinging ‘catalyst’ slot in the batting order.

          I also surmise that NO ML hitter is going to generate a truly sparkling OBP hitting #2 ahead of Votto because he is so OBVIOUSLY the best hitter in the lineup & pitchers will rather do anything than let HIM beat them. They would always go right after the #2 ahead of him to force him to HIT his way on base rather than give him a free pass by nibbling away off the plate with breaking balls.

          You also don’t want a basestealer (read: B Hamilton) hitting directly in front of Votto & disrupting JV’s considered process at the plate by running, which even if successful means Votto then likely gets walked & doesn’t get to swing the bat at anything near the plate in favor of facing who hits behind him.

          You also want a righty bat separating the lefty Choo from lefty Votto & also to take advantage of the holes in the right side of the infield by a righty batter by virtue of Choo being on base so much.

          AGAIN, the numbers Cozart IS ACTUALLY HITTING this season IN THE #2 SPOT would be the FIFTH HIGHEST BA of the regulars on this team!

        • @beelicker:

          This is how Strictly #2 Cozart stacks up in your current top 8 Reds’ avg hitters:

          Votto .318
          Choo .277
          Bruce .272 (^ lefthanded batters)
          BP .264
          Robinson .258 (not a regular 124AB, switch hits)
          Cozart @#2 .257 (253AB)
          X Paul .248 (161AB does NOT hit lefties)
          Frazier .241 (291AB )

          Not quite sure how this should rightfully make him THE MOST villified player currently in all of Cincinnati sports. I mean, he’s a SS & COMPLEMENTARY player, not some kind of invulnerable HOF SUPERSTAR (not to mention the 2nd highest righty batting avg on the team while batting #2) … ???

          Just who else do you propose to hit between Choo & Votto?

          It’s really your own false paradigm fault if you’re expecting ANY MLB middle infielder to be some kind of Hack Wilson!

          I mean, (God bless MISTER) Choo is still only hitting .165/.3o8/.193 in 109AB vs lefties (who are completely wearing the Reds out lately, btw, as Bruce hits them .280 & Votto only .271) & is anyone screaming to give him some selected days off vs the nastiest lefty starters with DRob in C instead?

  10. I love how Todd Frazier, in postgame comments, noted that the Reds are the best team in the league at getting runners home from 3rd with < 2 outs. Maybe the players are organizing against Marty!

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Good for Todd, that’s cool. Today is a good example of how BARISP can be misleading (I know the Reds are doing OK in that department too, but just the same). The Reds were 3 for 14, but scored 3 of their first 4 runs on outs. One was a deep sac fly by Mes that was nice to see, he looked a lot more healthy today.

      Scoring 6 runs without the benefit of a HR is not easy.

      • @pinson343: 3 for 14 is just about what one would expect for BA with RISP. I thought it was 3 for 12, though. If I’m right, that’s .250, and that’s what they bat.

        In addition, as you say, they got runs home with outs. They did a good job today.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: It was 3 for 14, which as you say is not bad but some people would say it is.

          The Brewer tv broadcasters made an interesting statement: “The Reds hit well with runners in scoring position and less than 2 outs.” They meant it as a positive, which it is. But listening to some people, only 2 out RBIs matter.

  11. I watched the whole game, and Dusty’s right when he said it was not an easy win. The Reds were on the verge of a big inning vs. Hellweg a couple of times, but couldn’t pull it off. Hellweg was having trouble with walks, but he was throwing up to 97 mph along with some key strikes on breaking pitches.

    Things got tough for Leake in the middle of the game. Up to that point he was not able to get called strikes on the outside corner, partly due to missing and partly due to the ump. He started the 4th with 2 consecutive walks and got out of trouble on a hard hit ball to Cozart, which turned into an unusual DP that retired both base runners.

    In the 5th he gave up a leadoff HR on a 2-0 count to make it 4-2, then walked the number 8 hitter on 4 pitches, then went to a full count on a relief pitcher trying to bunt ! At that point I saw the game slipping away. But Leake got out of it and was dominating from there.

    • @pinson343: Leake did a great job today. I posted around the 5th that he did not have it, and he didn’t, but then somehow he “got it”.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Right Leake made an excellent adjustment in the 6th. He couldn’t get strikes on the outside corner, so he started throwing curve balls on the inside corner. The ump was calling those strikes and the Brewers were completely thrown off. Then he got into a rhythm and the ump even began to call strikes on the outside corner.

        • @greenmtred: I’ve always maintained that Leake’s stuff=Maddux. If he can figure out how to use it like Maddux, then the sky is the limit for this kid.

  12. I agree with anyone who would say that was a game the Reds should win, playing against a team with an injury-depleted lineup and a AAA pitcher who had not had a decent major league outing. But just the same, they played well. Smart plays on defense by Cozaat and Frazer, who threw out a runner at home on a bunt.

    Also a smart base running play by BP, who’s Jekyll and Hyde on the bases. He deked the RFer into thinking he wasn’t tagging up from second, and then advanced when the throw was made behind him. A delayed advance on a fly ball, I haven’t seen that often.

  13. Those who know my past comments on here know how hard it is for me to admit mistakes! That said, I really feel like I sold Leake short…I still think Chapman should be starting…somewhere…but it looks, at least presently, like Mr. Leake has figured some things out! Still agree with most that Cozart in the 2 spot daily is idiocy, but it could be worse…when Corey Patterson got released in June, you know what crossed my mind!!!

  14. I just thought of something earlier. Many of us have talked about how many players aren’t living up to expectations, who is, etc. Then, I started to consider those same discussions that were going on at the beginning of the season, in ST, how we had great expectations for some, not so much for others. It seems like to me that the tables have almost been turned on all of us. For, many everywhere would be saying how Leake shouldn’t even be on the big club, how he should be in AAA, how he isn’t good enough to be on the big club, how everyone else is so much better, etc. But, if we look now, Leake is achieving (even overachieving) and others are right about where they always are “at best”. If anyone else is having a good season, having made adjustments to improve, it seems to me that would be Bruce. His K’s are horrible. But, he is staring a 40HR-100RBI season right in the face, he is hitting left handed pitching decently, and he is going the opposite way much better.

  15. Here’s what I’d like to understand about Jay Bruce: *if* he has taken up a new hitting approach this year, what approach has one:

    1. Swing at fewer balls out of the zone and more balls in the zone (good)
    2. Hit significantly more line drives and fewer fly balls (good), yet
    still be on pace to hit nearly the same number of home runs as last year (also good)
    3. Have a BABIP that is 50 points higher than last year (good, and a result at least in part of #2)
    4. Yet, walk less (fairly significantly) and strike out a *lot* more (bad)
    5. And finally, to date put up numbers that are inferior to last year by a little bit (bad)

    If someone can explain this to me, I’d love to understand it. Because these 5 things put together make no sense to me.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I was just puzzling over Jay Bruce too. As you say, he’s hitting better against lefties and is hitting more line drives. Whether it’s due to a new approach or not, this is all good.

      But then there’s your number 4. He has only 26 walks and 108 Ks, a more than 4 to 1 K/BB ratio, by far the worst of his career. Even with that his OPS is .815, one point above his career OPS.

      All in all, I’m fine with his doing what he’s doing.

      • @pinson343: The thing I was trying to understand is, if he’s swinging at fewer bad balls and more good balls, why is he walking less and K’ing more?

        The only possible explanation is that his contact rate when he swings at balls in the strike zone is 79%, which is 5% lower than last year. That’s probably significant, but I’m not sure.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: 2013 Frazier instead of 2012 Babe Studwick hitting behind him to force pitchers to more have to pitch to Bruce in the strike zone. Bruce is also hitting lefties (.28o) better than righties (.264).

      Votto is also driving in fewer runs (although part of that is Cozart’s success at RBI at #2 & the 2013 dearth of OBP at #8 2013 vs #8 2012 Hanigan’s excellent OBP)

      & the 2013 Choo/Cozart/Votto OBP is also significantly higher than the 2012 Cozart/Stubbs/Votto OBP

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Perhaps he’s still adjusting to his new approach; the old one was pretty ingrained, after all, and old habits die hard…He does look different to me, certainly, and this may bode well for the future.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: My guess has been that it comes down to it really being a new approach and that he’s still making adjustments to it.

      If he really is trying to swing in a different way on some pitches, and at different pitches than he used to, it would make some sense to me that he might miss more. Also, if he’s swinging at pitches he used to take (breaking balls from lefties that he can go the other way with come to mind) that could also lead to fewer walks.

      So far, like you said, some positive and some negative, balancing out to pretty much what you’d expect from Bruce. The hope is that as he gets more used to this approach, and refines it more, it will really allow him to get better.

  16. Stupid Cardinals came back and now 1 inning away from winning.

    Carpenter hit the go-ahead HR. I cannot stand that team, but Carpenter is an absolute stud at the plate. He simply does not have a weakness.

  17. “I used to say this about Drew Stubbs, but it applies to Cozart, too: if Dusty would just put him in the eighth spot in the lineup, I really wouldn’t have any problems with him.”

    I agree with the first part but not the second. Stubbs’ speed made him a threat when he was on base, Cozart supposedly had speed but we don’t see it anymore. He has trouble scoring from first on gap and corner balls it looks like he should be able to; and, he never steals/ runs.

    Also because of his speed and arm, Stubbs was a potential game saver/ changer on defense. While Cozart’s defense is adequate, he doesn’t show the same sort of extra dimension as Stubbs on defense.

    One of the Reds problems is that they have too many marginal players in the line up. They are going to have to cut bait with a couple of them. To me Cozart is the place to start.

    • @OhioJim: Sadly, SS is jut so thin around baseball, & Cozart iso cheap that I don’t think SS upgrades are likely. At least long term…could see someone like Rollins being a temporary & meaningful upgrade.

      I think 3B/LF is a more likely upgrade.

      • @CP: You are probably correct. However go over to Baseball Reference and look at the career numbers for Izturis and Cozart side by side. Also look at the 162 game season projections for them. Cozart’s only edge is in power; and for that power the price significantly more K’s and even worse, around twice as many GiDP.

        So as crazy as it sounds, for the rest of this year, if I was going to stick one of them in the 8 hole and forget about him unless he became a defnsive liability, I think it would make more sense to go with Izturis, because the numbers say he should have a higher OBP.

        • @OhioJim: I’m a huge fan of OBP, but you can’t just look at one stat since Izturis lack of power is almost legendary. (also Izturis’ OBP is probably just a product of SSS but that’s beside the point)

          Well, actually if you’re gonna just use one stat, that stat should be wRC+. Cesar’s is shockingly low @ 39, and Zack”s is 66. Both are below league average, but I think they can live with it.

          Also, I think Cozart’s defense is significantly better than Izturis’s defense. I just think Zack isn’t flashy.

        • @CP: I agree. A lot was made about Didi Gregorious, but I think Cozart is actually a more solid player. I don’t want flash or swag or style. I want outs. The only player who seems to get away with being flashy and solid at the same time is Phillips. But he is an anomaly. All this is my opinion of course. I have no supporting evidence.

    • @OhioJim: If Ludwick were healthy, then the only marginal players in the lineup would be Cozart and the catching spot, neither of which would be all that marginal. Both those positions have really bad hitters throughout the league.

    • @OhioJim: I was at Citi Field the day Cozart had 4 hits. It was the Matt vs Mat game. After he got his 4th hit to go 4 for 4 (at the time), the guy behind me said, “Who’s this guy?” and I said, “I have no idea, but his face reminds me an awful lot like our starting shortstop, Zack Cozart.” He says, “Who?” and I just laughed.

    • @OhioJim: I think that Cozart’s defense is quite a bit better than adequate, and inasmuch as defense is one enduring attribute of this team, I’d be reluctant to sacrifice any of it at a key position. He shouldn’t be batting 2nd, though.

  18. You don’t want to throw away outs stealing in front of Votto especially vs righty pitching because at best the 4 times in 5 it just doesn’t throw away a runner & out it merely opens a base & takes the bat out of JV’s hands. The (especially) righty pitcher will do anything to NOT let JV beat him to include walk him ‘unintentionally’ with 1st base open & with the more favorable righty batting .265 BP better matchup waiting on deck. IF you want Votto to get pitches in the strikezone he can actually HIT, leave the runner on first for him!

    St Louis is running away from the league in runs scored & they’ve stolen 22 bases (4 fewer than the #14 Reds) all year & only Colorado among the league leaders in runs scored are not inversely trolling the very bottom of league stolen base totals. NL stolen base leader Milwaukee is hitting .oo9 pts higher team average than the Reds yet is scoring 40 fewer runs on the year.

    A runner on first 1) forces the pitcher to have to pitch to the hitter at the plate 2) opens up holes in the infield holding the runner on first & 3) divides the concentration of the pitcher to the plate

  19. I am looking forward to Friday’s game. I will be in Atlanta visiting relatives and low and behold my beloved Reds are in town. It will be my first game at Turner Field.

  20. I guess after all these years I must be confused about what is needed to convert a save. Yes, there was a man on and had Leake but there was already one out. I don’t understand how it was a save situation. Since Leake did get an out the run differential was 3 (2 outs remaining, 1 man on base) for a save situation. The Reds were up by 4.

  21. A general question from one who has almost no understanding of advanced statistics: How definitive are they? For example, can they assess the value of a guy with decent obp (say .340. Is that decent?) and lots of extra-base hits compared to the value of a guy with an insanely high obp (.440) and little extra-base production?

    • @greenmtred:

      Slugging Percentage will help you with that as it is how many bases a player reaches on hits per AB.

      Based on run expectancy tables, you want your highest OBP, with lower slugging leading off, while you put your best OPS (OBP + SLUG) in your 2 and 4 holes.

    • @greenmtred:
      @greenmtred:

      They are “definitive” in the sense that they represent what they are meant to represent. Really, though, you need to look at each case from multiple angles and then form your own opinions. Usually, advanced metrics that compare stats to league average are better to look at if you are only going to look at one stat. For example, wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) is a park-adjusted measure of runs created indexed to league average (i.e.- 100 wRC+ means you are average). So, anything above 100 or below 100 will give you valuable information on how a player performs compared to his peers, which is generally more important than how they perform in a vacuum (i.e.- .340 OBP).

      Also, even though OBP and OPS are more beneficial by themselves (in my opinion) than AVG and SLG, there is another stat called wOBA, which attempts to correctly weight the value of each thing that can happen at the plate. For example, is a walk really as a good as a single? No. But OBP says they are. Is 4-4 with 4 singles as good as 1-4 wiht a homer? Could go either way, depends on when in the game and where in the order they occur, but SLG would value both games equally.

      Just stick your nose in the stats and get dirty! Before long, they’ll become like second nature!

    • @greenmtred: OPS is the basic stat that is most correlated with team runs. That is, a change in OPS most directly changes team runs scored, more than AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, Ks and whatever else.

      OPS is OBP + SLG, but because OBP is out of 1.000 and SLG is out of 4.000, a one point change in OBP is the same as a 4 point change in SLG. So often you will see people talk about how OBP is “more important” and will weight it more in other stats. I believe Bill James used 1.8 * OBP + SLG as a quick and dirty way to balance them out some.

      So I would say that OPS is very good one to use, but if you want more detail remember that OBP should be weighted more.

      Think about it like this: two guys have OPSs of .700, one that’s .300OBP + .400SLG and one that’s .350OBP + .350SLG. The second one is likely to be more valuable because adding 50 points of OBP is really like adding 200 points of SLG, because they are counted on different scales. If you use Bill James adjust OPS the first guy is 940 the second guy is 980.

  22. Here are some numbers: Baker’s Normal lineup (Cozart at 2 spot, Hanigan catching) results in a run expectancy of 4.055/game.

    Now by dropping Cozart to 8th, results in the following lineup:
    Choo
    Votto
    Phillips
    Bruce
    Fraizer (Could be switched with Phillips since Fraz has much better OBP and similar SLUG)
    Mesoraco
    Robinson
    Cozart

    results in 3.313 runs/game. The difference between the lineups make up a 42 run difference or about 4 wins over the big 162. Up to this point, it has cost the Reds 23 runs or about 2 wins.

  23. Good Job salvaging one game on the series. Hopefully they can manage a 2-2 split with atlanta heading into the ASB and maybe get some people healthy and productive going into the Pirates series.

    Kudos to Mike Leake today, nice bounce back start, and made some good pitches in tough situation to keep further runs off the board. Offense did okay, burned alot of out early to score runs one-by-one, was good to see some insurance runs late though.

    @greenmtnred: disagree on your comment above on stubbs and shifting leagues. With all the free agency and scouting on tape, no secrets really exist anymore like that. Used to be a big thing when AL and NL umpires were different as you had to learn a whole different set of tendancies there, but now Stubbs should know every umps tendancies behind the plate.

  24. Great day at the ball yard for me and the kids. Perfect weather, great time. Sat front row directly above the Reds bullpen for $14—thanks for sucking Brewers!
    –Cozart popped up 3 times behind first base. Hey Zack, you’re an athlete, make an adjustment for chrissakes.
    –Choo and Bruce put on a hitting clinic. Kudos.
    –Why not XP batting second???
    –Mez had the ‘well, let’s give it a try’ talk with the coaches in the bullpen before the game. Good job to play in pain.
    –Chapman fist bumped everyone when he arrived to the bullpen, then sat next to Simon the whole time. Could Simon be his only spanish speaking teammate/friend? BTW, Chapman is a freak physically, even compared to these other freak humans. It’s downright criminal he isn’t a starter.
    –Love the more sweeping movement Leake is getting on his curve this year. It’s unhittable down around the knees where he kept it all day.
    –The radar gun in the kids zone only had me at 60. I’m calling BS, big time.

    • BTW, Chapman is a freak physically, even compared to these other freak humans.

      I’ve heard Brantley say that Chapman is the best athlete on the team and that he’s the best fielding pitcher on the team. That’s saying a lot considering Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake. I’ve heard Jocketty say that Chapman is a really good hitter, too. #wastedtalents

    • @Big Ed: Don’t forget our bullpen workhorse, Manny Parra. I think Arredondo is kicking around in the minors somewhere, too. But you’re right. Seems like the Reds are below league average in this statistic!

  25. The trade deadline is approaching quickly. I’m not impressed with any of the much discussed and much ballyhooed players being bantered about by the talking heads, but there are some real opportunities out there for an aggressive, savy, gunslinging GM and the best opportunies might be for teams not facing playoff elimination.

    The members and followers of the Nation are in virtually complete agreement regarding the ineffectiveness and futility of the ‘closer’ role and use of a designated closer on a pitching staff. When I look at major league rosters, I do not see the same disillusioned view of a closer. In fact I see quite the opposite. I see teams committing their best reliever to limited use, often during low-leverage situations. I see managers and GM’s lamenting the lack of an elite ‘closer’ and clamoring for such an individual, but finding no one willing to part with an elite ‘closer’. We are dealing with a seller’s market approaching the trade deadline and there are a few desparate teams, especially in the AL, willing to overpay for an elite closer to fill that void and make that run at the playoffs.

    Yes, I’m talking about making Chapman available, but not for a minor return. Teams like Detroit (Castellanos), Boston (Bogaerts), Cleveland (Lindor) match up well for avaiable premier prospects that the Reds need and for their need of an elite closer. The Reds have multiple options available to backfill in their bullpen, so such a transaction would not decimate (or possibly even hinder) their chances for a playoff run in 2013. Any team wanting an elite closer to enhance their own playoff run would have to pony up and dig deep into their farm system to make such a transaction happen. These teams ‘value’ an elite closer and ‘need’ an elite closer. To top off that prize, Chapman is team-controlled and cost effective as an elite closer.

    The Reds also have their internation pool available and several B-C prospects to possibly sweeten the pot and bring back some cash needed to resign Choo or extend some starting pitching. This could be the one last opportunity to offset the $30MM investment for a little-utilized reliever and turn that investment around to fill some real needs for the future.

    Any takers out there willing to dig deep? Hey WJ, do you have what it takes to pull that trigger during a playoff run?

    • @Shchi Cossack: The Reds will never trade Aroldis Chapman. Plenty of people (me included) here advocate that but only as an alternative to him staying as closer. I’ve said since the 2011 season, if the Reds are going to stick him in the bullpen, they ought to instead trade him to a team that will value him as a starter. But my first choice would be to try him out as a starter to see if he could be a dominant lefty.

      Here’s a question: Should the Reds sell high on Mike Leake or Tony Cingrani for a big bat?

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        The Reds will never trade Aroldis Chapman.

        I agree on that point. From the Reds’ perspective, they can’t take the chance on trading Chapman and seeing someone else prove how valuable he really is after the Reds fumbled his utilization for 4 years.

        Regarding selling high on Leake or Cingrani, that can only happen if the Reds have a real plan in place to keep an elite starting rotation and that plan might be difficult with the questions surrounding Cueto’s future status and the misuse of Chapman. If the Reds have such a plan in place, ready to implement, trading high at the trade deadline or during the offseason would be an excellent game plan.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I wouldn’t be so sure about the Reds not trading Chapman. I agree he isn’t getting traded if the Reds are in the playoff hunt. But if the Reds fell completely out of contention (not necessarily this year, but also next year), trading Chapman makes a whole lot of sense. His contract + his closing ability still makes him a very attractive trade piece. The Reds will just have missed out on the value he had as a starters, so less prospects/less high ceiling guys come the Reds way.

        Btw, the same goes for Bailey. Reds could move him pretty easily if they collapse and he’d get a good return. They have to start thinking medium to long term with Homer anyway. Reds could pull the trigger and shift that money to a Latos deal.

        I could see the Reds trading Leake or Cingrani if the right player comes available in the trade market, and the Reds are in contention.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I think about the trades the Reds did for Griffey and Dunn:

        Dunn for Dallas Buck, Wilkin Castillo, and Micah Owings
        Griffey for Nick Masset and Danny Richar

        Yet because of the unreasonable hauls at the trade deadlines recently we think it is unreasonable to think the Reds can net something for Cingrani and perhaps Henry Rodriquez as a sweetener. I don’t get it.

        Six months ago I probably said something different, but as things are now I would not be in favor of a trade including Leake if Cingrani can net the same value in return. Perhaps both would be selling high right now, but I think Leake is closer to his high than Cingrani.

        If the Reds follow the same trend, they will trade the lefty (Woods, Horst, Joseph, Maloney).

        • @TC: Well, a couple things.

          First, Griffey and Dunn were mostly salary dumps, and the Reds could easily get someone like that (Soriano) if they were willing to take on the salary. I haven’t seen it reported one way or another if ownership is.

          Second, I don’t think anyone is or should be saying that the Reds couldn’t get much back for Cingrani. They definitely could. 5 more years of team control, big arm, success at every level. That sells. The issue is that the Reds don’t seem very likely to trade him.

          I think it comes down to how much they trust Greg Reynolds and Armando Galaraga. If the Reds people really believe that these guys can pitch at the big league level as good 5th starters, then I’d say the Reds have the depth to trade Cingrani.

          But if those guys are really for emergency use only, you can’t trade part of your rotation in a playoff chase.

        • @TC: I’ve been pushing for something like Cingrani for Rios + $8mil.

          That would give the Whitesox a valuable piece that they would control for a long time, and it would give the Reds a few things.

          First, Rios plays left this year until Ludwick comes back.

          Second, Rios plays center against LH pitching when Ludwick comes back, and left if Ludwick is ineffective.

          Third, Rios plays center next year (at a reasonable price) after Choo leaves, allowing Billy Hamilton to develop more.

        • @al: Completely agree. I was actually just getting ready to post the same thing.

          Rios isn’t anything special in the outfield defensively, but he’d be a legitimate RH bat in the lineup for the next two years. Who knows what will happen with Ludwick, but now is the time for the Reds to go after a WS. I’m not saying mortgage the entire future to win now, but giving up one piece that may only help the team for a few months total over the next two seasons (barring major injuries to the rotation) for a legit bat and protection for Votto/Bruce for two years seems like a great deal.

        • @Vottomatic84: Or, just forget the extra $8 million, consider it a salary raise for only this season and a wash for next year, and maybe they don’t have to give up Cingrani but rather two more moderate prospects.

          Either way, I think the Reds need to go after Rios, or even Marlon Byrd for peanuts.

        • @al: He’s solid if not a 5-tool. He puts up Jay Bruce numbers at the plate but steals bases and doesn’t strike out. He stays healthy. From all appearances he is in the wane of his peak years. Those are all great.

          Here are my problem with him: he’s due over $17.5M for over the next year and a half. The $8M is the only way the Reds do that deal. If $8M came with him it’s a great idea.

          I do want to see Greg Reynolds pitch in Cincinnati. Yes, he’s 27, but he’s a pitcher. Pitchers peek years begin at 30.

        • @TC: I totally agree. The $8mil would mean that the Reds would owe him about $10mil for this year and next.

          I figure the Reds are probably ready to take on about $3mil this season in some form or another. That leaves $7mil for next year, which is about what they are paying Choo this year, so he slots right in without raising payroll next year.

      • @Steve Mancuso: My fantasy is that they knew late in Spring Training that Marshall was in trouble and Leake was looking good, so the move of Chapman to the bullpen was because otherwise Parra was the only LHP. We didn’t know about Marshall back then, so it looked like a “choice” rather than a “need” decision. Next year, they go back to the Chapman-as-starter plan. Maybe? Could be? Please? Please?

  26. I posted this in reply to someone at the top of the thread, so it will probably get lost (I prefer the old comment system we had back briefly for this reason, BTW.). I’m enough of a narcissist to think it might be worth reporting down here:

    A few years ago we were satisfied finishing a season above .500. Then we were satisfied making the playoffs. It’s time we set our sights a bit higher, on a deep playoff run at the least, with a WS title a real possibility. THAT’s where we need Chapman in the rotation. In Game 3 of the WS are you really comfortable with Leake? Just imagine what Chapman could have brought to the playoff rotation….and remember that guys like Jason Grilli can do the Closer’s job.

  27. What’s with the Reds of late? They can’t seem to get out of the 1st. inning without being scored on.

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