2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: I hate to say “I told you so,” but…

Let’s recap today’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Cincinnati 5
Milwaukee 6

W: J. Henderson (4-5)
L: Z. Duke (1-2)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–Todd Frazier was 2-4 with a homer and two RBI. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto were each 2-4 with a walk; Bruce scored two runs and Votto drove in one. As noted below, Bruce was also robbed of a ninth-inning homer. Brandon Phillips had two hits.

–Votto made a particularly sweet defensive play. Go watch that video.

–Bronson Arroyo was really good, until the seventh inning (again, see below). On the day, he pitched six and a third, giving up two runs on three hits and four walks. It was the first time Arroyo had walked four batters in a game in more than three years.

NEGATIVES
–The Reds had a 5-1 lead as the game entered the bottom of the seventh. Arroyo walked the bases loaded before Dusty Baker removed him from the game. Sam LeCure — who has struggled a bit in the second half of this season — performed very well in permitting only one run to score (and almost escaped scot-free, but BP couldn’t quite turn the double play).

Then came the eighth and ninth innings, when Dusty turned into Tony LaRussa for a little while.

LeCure walks the leadoff hitter in the eighth and is immediately replaced by Manny Parra. Parra hits a batter with a pitch and is immediately replaced by JJ Hoover. With two on and no outs, Hoover surrenders a triple to Jean Segura (that Bruce nearly caught), scoring two runs and cutting the lead to 5-4. A Jonathan Lucroy sacrifice fly later, and the game was tied, a 5-1 lead completely erased in the blink of an eye.

After recording the inning’s second out, Hoover is relieved by Zach Duke. Duke escapes the inning. In the top of the ninth, Jay Bruce hit a towering drive that appeared to be a three-run homer…until Brewers CF Carlos Gomez leaped high to rob him. Shades of a similar robbery that Gomez performed on Joey Votto earlier this season.

So the Reds can’t score, and the game heads to the ninth, tied 5-5. Duke remains in the game, and retires the first batter on a ground out. To the plate walks Sean Halton, a right-handed hitter, to face the lefty Duke. Even as Marty Brennaman questions the decision to have the lefty face Halton (although, if you are going to use a lefty, why this lefty, instead of the All-Star who is wasting away out in the bullpen?), the Brewer hits a walkoff homer to end the game and complete today’s collapse.

So, in the heat of a pennant race, when every game means so much, Dusty used four relievers in the last two innings, including one who was in the minor leagues all year, not good enough for the roster until the very end of last month…but he didn’t use the best reliever he has. At any time in the 8th or 9th, seems like Aroldis Chapman could have helped the cause.

Why keep your golden bullet in your gun? What possible reason could there be to save Chapman for another time? I’m perfectly willing to believe there’s a logical explanation, but someone smarter than me will have to clue me in.

Dusty Baker: Managing for Tomorrow Since 1993.

–More bad baserunning today, of course, as Phillips was thrown out at third.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–Some of you were upset with me when I wrote this in yesterday’s recap:

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Nation, but there is something you need to know: this team is only going to break your heart in the end. Don’t get too emotionally invested.

Indulge me for a moment, please. Today is another example of why I just can’t get emotionally invested in this team. It’s not worth it to me.

Listen, I’ve been writing about the Reds nearly every day here at RN for the last nine seasons. Most of that time, this team was awful. But I hung in there because I love the Reds, and I love baseball. My bona fides as a Reds fan have been long established.

But last year’s playoff collapse changed something in me. This team is managed in such a fashion that it will be difficult to win a short series. The lineup nonsense and bullpen shenanigans that we see from Dusty Baker on a daily basis are magnified in the post-season. In-game management is much more important, in my opinion, during the playoffs than it is over the long haul of the season. In a short series, the many things that Dusty does well over the course of a long season are less important than what is happening on the field.

In 2010, I led the charge here at the Nation: BELIEVE! I do not believe in this year’s version of the Cincinnati Reds. It’s as simple as that. I’m not jumping off a ledge, or freaking out, because I haven’t believed in this team all year. And that’s mostly because of what I witnessed in last year’s National League Division Series against San Francisco.

Now, let me be very clear about something: the season is decidedly not over. This Reds team is talented. They could easily win that one-game wild card playoff, behind the brilliance of Mat Latos or Homer Bailey. That would put them into the NLCS NLDS, and if the bats get hot at the right time, they could well go on a run that ended in a World Series championship.

It’s really not difficult to imagine that happening, and I am definitely not saying that we should just give up, the season is over. It’s not over, not by a long shot! If the Reds go on that run, I’ll be the happiest person in the room.

I would LOVE to be pleasantly surprised by this team. But at least I know I won’t be disappointed in them. If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be let down in the end.

Maybe that’s no way to go through life, but I’ve decided that I have too many things in my life that are actually important and deserve my emotional investment. The Reds, as currently managed, just don’t rank high enough for me to waste my time getting upset when they lose. I’ll enjoy the wins — because I love baseball and I love the Reds — and I will try my best to forget about the losses. That way, when they break everyone’s hearts again, well…as for me, this.

–The Cardinals, Pirates, and Nationals all won today. You know, just to make things even worse for the Reds.

–The Segura triple in the eighth could have been caught by Bruce. Jay got a great jump on the ball and it just caromed off his glove, but it appears that the blame actually lay with Shin-Soo Choo. Choo looked like he was making a play on the ball until the very end, and Bruce had to pull up a bit to avoid what looked like an imminent collision. That tiny bit of hesitation was enough to cause him to miss it.

–Reds have lost series’ this week to the bottom-dwelling Cubs and Brewers. They’ve lost three straight series against Milwaukee. In the middle of a so-called pennant race. Draw your own conclusions.

–Let me say one more thing: I’m not calling for Dusty Baker’s firing, either. Not that anyone in the Cincinnati front office would care, but I’m not. At some point, I’ll compose a long post detailing my thoughts on this matter.

Certainly, if the Reds really want to “win now,” as we’ve heard, they need to assess whether Dusty’s weaknesses (in-game, as I discussed above) outweigh his strengths (and he does have strengths, and they’ve contributed to three playoff appearances in four seasons for a once-moribund franchise; we can argue about how much they’ve contributed). I’d love to be a fly on the wall for those conversations deep within the bowels of Great American Ballpark. If the Reds don’t make it past the one-game playoff, those conversations will definitely take place.

But mostly, I’m not calling for his firing because I’m scared of who might replace him. Dusty is an awful in-game manager, but he’s not even close to being the worst of my lifetime. Ray Knight was worse. Jerry Narron was worse. Dave Miley was worse. Bob Boone was way, way, way worse.

Dusty Baker is not a good manager. Some nights, his decisions are truly cringe-worthy. Assure me of a reasonable replacement, and maybe I’ll join you on the FARR DUSTY!!! campaign. Until then…

Source: FanGraphs

172 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: I hate to say “I told you so,” but…

  1. I think everything that can be said about this year’s travesty has been said, re-hashed, debated, conflated and regurgitated. I will watch this team play out the season.

    • @Johnu1: At this point, it is what it is. Anything better than missing the Playoffs or a collapse in the 163 will be a welcome surprise. It the Reds make it into the WC, no matter the opponent, we’ll get treated to bad strategy, bad hitting approaches, and the same result as last year. Its a shame too, because there is a lot of talent on the current roster. The best rotation the Reds have had in the last 30 years, an excellent closer, and obvious talent at 1B, 2B, RF, CF etc… Plenty of decent starters at other positions. Without good coaching, its all for naught.

      • @D Ray White: could not agree more. To waste this pitching is a crime. Cincinnati may not see such a talented team for a while once this window shuts.

        • @jessecuster44: @D Ray White: Agree with you both. I don’t think the Reds have had this good a starting rotation since the late 30′s, when they went with 4 man rotations.
          And with Cingrani and Cueto healthy, they go 6 deep.

  2. Nice post. “Shenanigans” is a great word. Let me add one thing – I think most of us could manage the bullpen better than Dusty Baker. Reds have now lost four late inning games where Chapman has not pitched, and umpteen games because that halfwit manager leaves his starters in too long.

    Honestly? This team could easily collapse and not make the playoffs. And really, if you can’t take two out of three from the cubs, brewers, and Rockies when it matters, you probably don’t deserve to be in the playoffs.

    FARRR DUSTY!

    • @jessecuster44: I think you’d be shocked and disappointed at the results if any of us were to manage the bullpen. There’s a general disconnect in the comments all season: if the manager has so much impact on player performance, it would follow that Dusty must manage pitching staffs, including the bullpen, very well indeed. It doesn’t cut it to say, as has been said, that when they do well it is in spite of the manager, and when they do poorly it is his fault–a denial of elementary logic. It’s doubtful that the manager makes very much difference. Of course, it was Dusty’s fault that Gomez caught Bruce’s homer, wasn’t it? Consider also, the misuse of Chapman. I can’t help but note how dominant he has been lately–just when we need him. Coincidence? I think not.

  3. And the Reds could easily win the Wild Card Series and make a run at the WS. The erratic play against bottom feeders and poor strategy/hitting suggest this won’t happen. We can hope, though. Go Reds!

  4. And, I really believe we have Dusty for one more year regardless. I’ve said it all along, this team, when it wins, wins regardless of Dusty. Best you can hope for is just that. And hope it happens at just the right moments. Other than that, I don’t really sweat it anymore. It’s…interesting, to watch, but I’m not emotionally attached anymore…much.

  5. Great recap, Chad. For me this was a new “worst loss of the season”, a nightmarish sequence of events and a reminder of what it was like to be a Reds fan for the first decade of this century, except back then you expected it. The defensive lapses, the bullpen decisions, the bullpen performance.

    About the bullpen decisions, I’ll just agree with the sentiments on the game thread that starting the inning with either LeCure or Hoover would have been OK but don’t start with LeCure and then take him out after the 3-2 walk so Parra can face Khris Davis (an obvious choice of PHer) with the plan to then bring Hoover into a critical situation with runners on.

  6. You hit the nail on the head. Duke isn’t good enough to be on the team April through August… why is he all of a sudden good enough to pitch the most important times of the game?

    Baffling.

  7. Redleg Nation is a fusion of wisdom and bewilderment. One poster recently worried that he/she would be banished from the Nation for posts critical of the team. What? Unless Kim Jong-un is running the show here, I hope we’re safe for posting respectfully critical posts. Dissent is quintessentially American. It’s interesting that one of the staff writers continually bemoans critical posters. I see Redleg Nation as a virtual living room, where all of us Reds fans gather. When fans get together, they complain— especially when their team consistently underachieves. It’s also interesting that another staff writer swears he’s not going to allow himself to be “emotionally invested” in the team, and then posts a verbose manifesto about the Reds. Gotta love baseball fans! Go Reds!

    • @santa barbara reds fan: Heh. That poster may have been me. I DO love my Reds. But I HAVE been very critical of Dusty and, not just him, what this team, the last four years COULD have accomplished. Truth be told, I’ve NEVER felt like my opinion, or anyone else’s, has been stifled on the Nation. It’s great. And I know, personally, I’ve posted some most disagreeable things. Chad, I believe, has called this a “Reds Therapy Group”, or as such, and it is. Look, I live in a part of the country where, when I see someone wearing a Reds cap, it’s not because they are a fan of the team (except one time, at a Del Taco, in 2010, that guy, like me, were actual fans, nervously crossing our fingers, hoping we’d at least make the postseason). Being able to vent, on here, with such freedom (although I had to learn to clean up my language ; ) is a blessing. And it makes games like today that much more bearable. So, THANK YOU, REDLEG NATION. GO REDS!

      • @wildwestLV: Well said. For me it is a “Reds therapy” group. I love your Reds cap comment. Living in the NY area, I see plenty of Reds caps but they never are Reds fans.

        After a loss like today, I can come here and vent about what bothered me most about the loss – even if it means repeating what’s already been said many times – and then move on with my day.

      • @Johnu1: Yes, this is group therapy. It’s allows all of us to experience a cathartic release of frustration, but also a place where we can collectively cheer for our Reds. Don’t worry, Johnu1, I won’t throw a beer can at your cat– I don’t drink beer and I adore cats!!

  8. If I said it once I said it a thousand times “When Dusty starts doing stuff, bad things happen” Today was a perfect example.

  9. You’ve hit on most of my sentiments, Chad. More than anything I see a team that has truly assumed the attitude of their manager that there’s always a tomorrow to cover up the mistakes and poor decisions of today.

    Teams with that attitude don’t win the pennant. Check Dusty’s playoff record over the years and that fact is validated. But he’ll be around one more year. Hopefully at that time, the decision maker(s) will have wised up to the reality of the situation and go find a good in-game manager who can lead this talented group of guys to understand the consequences of their actions on the field on a daily basis.

  10. The Brewers tv broadcasters, who are reasonable, were very surprised at what they called the Reds “lackadaisical” defense. They already of course knew about Ludwick but were surprised that Phillips didn’t turn the DP and that Bruce didn’t catch Segura’s drive.

    They remarked specifically that BP was flatfooted on his pivot and made a weak throw. They didn’t seem to know that he’s had an injured quad. I don’t know but that play may have shown that it’s still bothering him.

    They were sure Bruce could have made the catch if he hadn’t pulled up a bit, only suggesting a while later that Choo might have “spooked him”. Chad’s already covered that play, I’ll just add that as much as I like Choo’s offense, he’s still a little unsure of what he’s doing in CF.

    • I’ll just add that as much as I like Choo’s offense, he’s still a little unsure of what he’s doing in CF.

      That’s probably not what happened. I just think this team has decided it is snake-bitten.

      • @Johnu1: I just watched the video, and you’re right that Choo can’t be blamed for Bruce’s not making that catch. It was hit right between them, so Choo had to go all out. Then he did peel off behind Bruce when he saw Jay had a play. Jay’s body language at the last second indicated fear of a collision but it couldn’t be helped.

    • @pinson343: I think what happened on the missed DP attempt was that the runner headed for 3rd created a distraction with Cozart which seemed to throw off the rhythm of the Reds.

      The ball seemed to handcuff Cozart a bit, I would judge because of the influence of the runner changing/ delaying Coazart’s route/ patch. The ball was thus a little late getting to 2nd. BP was dead flat footed behind the bag with the runner bearing in on him.

      Not saying one or both of them couldn’t have handled the play better just trying to explain what and why as I saw it.

      • @OhioJim: Thanks, Jim, that’s a different story. I would like to think that BP’s problem with the throw had nothing to do with a lingering quad injury.

  11. What I wrote in the game thread:

    If Castellini is truly serious about bringing championship baseball to Cincy he eats Dusty’s contract and brings in Mike Sciosca and a new hitting coach, a la Mark Grace or Sean Casey. Keep Brian Price on as pitching coach. Dusty has been fortunate to have championship-caliber teams at all three stops of his managerial career. Those teams resulted in zero WS titles and only one NL pennant. In other words, he took very good teams and made them good teams. You never hear Cubs or Giants fans clamoring for dusty to come back, or congratulating Reds fans on their manger’s sound strategy and acumen. I wonder why?

    • @D Ray White:

      I try not to bash the coaching, but its a continuous loop of the same mistakes made over and over. Sacrifice bunting, bullpen mismanagement, botching substitutions, erratic starts/sits of position players, appearing to give up on games, and generally showing no competitive fire from the dugout. I saw a stat recently where Dusty (and Reds coaches) are the only staff without an ejection this year, and that stat may extend to the players. After watching the general malaise over 150 games, its hard to believe its going to magically improve. The same applies for the last 4-5 years. Its just hard to envision a scenario where a Dusty-led team plays aggressive, smart baseball and brings a WS trophy home.

    • @D Ray White: ha. Turning a very good team into a good team. Very well said.

      I thought the 2013 Reds would be better than their 2012 counterparts. Mo Dusty, mo problems.

      I’d be happy to give Riggleman a try.

        • @homerandbruce: Riggleman is an OK interim manager, whatever that means. I believed that Dusty’s philosophy was stale a year ago (actually earlier) and I was terribly disappointed when he was re-hired for 2 years. We probably ought to be careful what we wish for but Dusty has to go. I really can’t find any more reasons to blame the players for poor performance. I can blame Jack Hannahan for sucking. Otherwise, throwing rocks at Ondrusek and Hoover isn’t helping.

    • @D Ray White: I just don’t understand throwing names such as Sean Casey and Mark Grace out there for job of hitting instructor for the Cincinnati Reds. As bad as Jacoby is believed to be by so many, what makes anyone believe that Casey, for instance, would be any better? Has Grace done anything special so far during his stint as minor league batting coach for the Arizona club?

      • @kywhi:

        Grace and Casey, ie, guys who were known for giving professional at bats, with excellent plate discipline, and excellent bat control. In other words, everything the Reds do not exhibit collectively at the plate. Those two were pure hitters. I don’t remember Brook Jacoby being remembered in such a fashion. Heck, Jacoby only had 3 or 4 good season in the majors, none of which were exceptional. Wouldn’t you rather see the Reds try to fix an obvious problem (or at least attempt to) rather than keep on with what hasn’t worked for 4 seasons. The Reds haven’t shown improvement under Jacoby, period.

        • @D Ray White:

          Many great hitting coaches had few, if any, good years hitting in the big leagues…the one that comes to mind for me is Charlie Lau, he was never even a full time player in the bigs, but was a great hitting coach.

          I’m not arguing for Jacoby to stay, but I doubt that anyone here could determine who the next hitting coach should be…just not enough info. But I’ve never heard anything from Sean Casey that makes me believe he’d be an effective coach, not saying he couldn’t be, but big league performance isn’t necessarily a criteria. I think there was a story in Ball Four about Yogi Berra trying to teach hitting…and he couldn’t explain it, finally just climbed in the cage and said, “Just watch me…”.

      • @kywhi: Brook Jacoby is what is wrong with the offense. Why? Because he is the hitting coach. He ain’t the beer vendor. If he serves no purpose, then let him sell beer. His job is to help the hitters improve and I can’t cite one single hitter who has improved under Jacoby’s watch. (Votto doesn’t count. He’s a fanatic.)

  12. Brantley tended to say it on the radio, suggesting strongly that when it’s September and teams don’t bring their onions to the game, there’s something wrong with them. It boggles my mind that these experienced professionals don’t understand what they need to do to win. The entire story of 2013 is a total head-scratcher. How suddenly did Bronson completely lose control? He’s walked 27 guys this year … and he couldn’t get it over the plate in the 7th inning?

  13. A 4 run lead, a good start to the game from Bronson, but then all those walks, a hit batsman, defensive miscues and a fly ball to right center that doesn’t get caught.
    Does this remind people of anything ? It was game 2 of the 2010 Division Series all over again. It’s not a postseason game, but just saying.

  14. Dusty’s teams have never come through when it really counts. Why should this one be any different? The Reds will never be a championship club as long as he’s in charge. I want to see them win a WS. Badly. But if missing the playoffs means Dusty is out then I’m all for it. As for this year, I’m done. This team has worn me out.

  15. IN what might seem to be the second dumbest thing Dusty has ever done (does Willie Harris count?) he’s going with Cueto on Monday and is shoving Latos back to let Reynolds pitch on Wednesday. Usually, I would be OK with this … but the idea of not using your ace so you can save him for more important games … um … the Reds need to win these games in Houston before they worry about the ones in Pittsburgh.

  16. This is an excellent and obviously very heartfelt commentary by Chad Dotson. This is one of the best things, if not the best, I have ever read on website like this one (or even the “professional” sports-related websites for that matter). Only a true fan with a serious knowledge of the Reds and a great ability to put his thoughts into words could have produced a commentary of this quality.

    For more times than I care to remember since I began following the Reds as a 9-year-old in 1966 (it was the words of Jim McIntyre and Claude Sullivan on the radio that first lured me in), I have also sworn that I would no longer allow myself to be so emotionally involved in the two sporting teams I love like now other — the Cincinnati Reds and college basketball’s Kentucky Wildcats — but I can never keep that pledge for very long. Today was just awful. One “positive” I keep holding onto is remembering those high-expectation seasons when the then-young Big Red Machine seemed to always come up short of high expectations, even with the NL championships in 1970 and 1972. This team reminds me of those teams in that they always seem to lose from self-inflicted wounds instead of being out-played by a clearly superior team.

    I just hope the main pieces of this edition of the BRM are able to be kept in place long enough to allow us to experience at least some of that magic of 1975 and 1976 once again. Had Jay Bruce not been robbed of the 3-run homer by Carlos Gomez today, you have to think it might have been this squad’s Hal King-type moment that propelled it to a division title and at least an appearance in the NL Championship Series.

    • @kywhi: I have to say the current group of Reds have done far, far less than the 70 and 72 teams, who were more dominant during the reg. season and won the NLCS. This group has yet to win a postseason series.

      • @redskaph: Did I say this year’s team has accomplished what either the 1970 or 1972 teams accomplished? Most certainly not. But perhaps this team can if it holds on to a playoff spot and hits a stretch of good luck and good play at the right time.

  17. I’m rather baffled by the concept of not wanting Baker fired because it’s possible that his replacement could be worse. While it’s conceivable, I suppose, there are a few things to bear in mind:

    a) Presumably they’d make a point of trying to find someone better, rather than just picking a guy because he happens to available and happens to have some sort of connection to the team, which seems to have been the strategy employed by previous ownership. As bad as Dusty is, he was chosen for his managerial experience and not for his connection to the team.

    b) While it may be true the Reds have had worse managers, none of them stuck around very long. I’m perfectly willing to endure a little short-term pain to bid rid of a long-term pain.

    c) This same argument can be extended indefinitely. For the next 20 years we could continue saying “but we could do worse” as a reason to continue watching this guy squander great opportunities.

    d) We could also do worse than Izturis and Hannahan. Mike Costanzo is available, for example. Is that a reason to keep Izturis and Hannahan next year? For fear we might stupidly replace them with even worse players?

  18. Just a thought, but if part of being a “players’ manager” is to protect said players from probing questions by a team’s beat writers, you’ve certainly got to give Dusty Baker credit for doing that part of his job well. After just reading the Cincinnati Enquirer’s coverage of today’s meltdown we see that, as usual, Bronson Arroyo and Jay Bruce manned up once again and willingly faced the media after today’s loss. Sam LeCure also seems to not mind facing questions after a tough loss. But beyond those three players you never really hear from any of the others when it comes to explaining what happened and why or what the team needs to do to improve and how it’s going to do it. Of course, given the way Brandon Phillips got away with verbally attacking the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans in such an ugly manner recently, perhaps it should be obvious why this small contingent of reporters covering a small-market team seems to tread ever so lightly when it comes to questioning players and their performances — or lack thereof.

    • @kywhi: Just out of curiosity, which players do you think were most responsible for this loss? Duke officially got the loss by giving up one run, but he’s basically a minor league player, so I assume you’re not expecting some sort of apology from him. Hoover gave up one hit. Parra threw 7 pitches and hit a guy. LeCure threw 11 pitches and gave up one walk — after getting out of a tough bases loaded situation created by Arroyo. Offensively, everyone except Hanigan contributed in some way.

      Point is: none of the relief pitchers can really be blamed here, because none of them really got a chance to do much of anything. So who do you want to hear from? You want Parra to address the media and explain how it’s possible that he could hit a guy? You want LeCure to explain how it’s possible that he can get out of a bases loaded situation but then walk a guy leading off the next inning? You want Hoover to explain how it’s possible that one of the three guys he faced got a hit? Really? That demands an explanation?

      • @Baseclogger: The Brewers scored more runs than they had hits. The Reds were charged with zero errors. Therefore any and every pitcher who walked (or HBP) a man is responsible for what happened. I also would put some blame on the catcher if he were in fact calling the pitches. You don’t nibble and play cutesy with a three run lead and that is exactly what the Reds pitchers were doing in the 7th and 8th.

        • @OhioJim: I agree there was shared responsibility, but what are you expecting anyone to say? How much of a grilling to do you want to give Hoover for giving up one hit? Parra faced one guy and hit him. He doesn’t normally do that. I doubt he meant to do it. What can he possibly say that’s going to make you feel better? “I really shouldn’t have hit the one guy I faced. This loss is on me.”

          The question I have is why LeCure is why we wait until the bases are loaded to bring someone in, why LeCure is yanked after a walk, and why Chapman isn’t used to get us out of a jam, why Simon isn’t used to deal with right-handed hitter instead of Duke, and why you would EVER allow Duke to pitch in a sudden-death situation before you would use Chapman. Those are the questions that need to be addressed, not “why did you hit the one guy you faced today?” The answer is probably “because sometimes it’s hard to be sharp when you only face one guy.”

      • @Baseclogger: Actually, my comment about the media/players had more to do with the season as a whole instead of the this particular single game. That said, you explain to me that the bullpen wasn’t at fault and but then remark a couple of minutes later in your response to another post that “today’s main culprits” were “Hoover, Parra, LeCure.” You can’t have it both ways. By the way, I said LeCure is one of the players that seems to be willing to answer the tough questions.

        • @kywhi: I’m saying the bullpen was collectively at fault, but it’s hard to pin responsibility on anyone in particular. Nobody pitched that terribly, because nobody was given a CHANCE to pitch that terribly. Parra hit the one guy he faced. That’s bad, but it didn’t give the Brewers six runs. Hoover got two outs and gave up one hit. That’s bad, but it isn’t terrible. How much blame do you want him to shoulder for facing three guys and giving up one hit?

        • @Baseclogger: Again, I was talking about the season as a whole, not today’s game. Granted, the thought occurred to me after I read the Enquirer’s coverage of today’s game. Personally, I don’t want to see anyone “grilled” or “pin responsibility” on them. I do enjoy reading what the players have to say. Hence my saying “you never really hear from any of the others when it comes to explaining what happened and why or what the team needs to do to improve and how it’s going to do it.”

        • @kywhi: Clear writing can also be a beautiful thing. When you preface your remarks with “After just reading the Cincinnati Enquirer’s coverage of today’s meltdown we see that, as usual, Bronson Arroyo and Jay Bruce manned up once again and willingly faced the media after today’s loss,” one might be led to think you’re disappointed not to hear from the people most directly associated with today’s meltdown. You did use more general language throughout the rest of your comment, but your introduction created a certain context that colors the rest of your comment.

        • @kywhi: And Chapman didn’t pitch at all. Can we ask him why not? I’d love to know how he explains it.

  19. Taped the game today and just finished watching it – I got the double dose of heartbreaking loses today – Reds lose like this and Vikings lose in last 10 seconds of game – frustrating, frustrating, frustrating…

  20. Talk about being emotionally invested in a team … Reds and Vikings got to be two of the most difficult teams in professional sports to be a fan of

  21. Once again, I am amazed that Jocketty gets a free pass on this site. They lose 2 of their 3 top relievers before the AS break and do nothing from outside the org. I often don’t like the way Baker uses (or doesn’t) his pen; but shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic is shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic no matter how one cuts it. And that is exactly what the manager has been asked to do with the pen since mid June.

    Now, when it comes to the lack of focus and motivation of this team across the board, that’s another issue and I hold the manager fully responsible there.

    • @OhioJim: The problem in today’s game was that the bullpen gave up 4 runs. Was that really Jocketty’s fault? Which of today’s main culprits (Hoover, Parra, LeCure) did you want to see replaced a couple months ago? And is it really Jocketty’s fault that Chapman wasn’t used today but Duke was? Should he have gone out and gotten another two or three closers to force Baker to use one of them in the 8th inning?

      • @Baseclogger: They didn’t need to know 2 months ago who get rid of but by the trade deadline this cast of characters plus Odrusek had already authored several melt downs like today. And they threw in several more in August.

        As far as Chapman (after the game was tied), I could hear the howling on this site if he had been used with teh game tied an a couple of innings later the Reds had taken the lead only to have Ondrusek or Partch or somebody else blow the save.

        Chapman in place of Parra in the 8th would have meant (had he gotten the job done) trading a win today for not having him available again most likely until game 3 in Houston. That might have been a reasonable gamble and one I might have taken myself. But it brings me right back to my original point. If this other cast of characters couldn’t get a 3 run lead to the 9th inning, why are the Reds dependent on them to pitch the 8th????

        • @OhioJim: Who on this site would be “howling” if Chapman were brought in to pitch in a tie game on the road? Can you name that person? Virtaully veryone who criticizes Dusty has been consistent in saying he’s under-utilizing Chapman because he’s obsessed with using him only in save situations. It would be quite surprising if anyone suddenly criticized him for doing exactly what we’ve been begging for all year. You know, we’re not just criticizing Baker for the fun of it or because the team sometimes loses; we’re criticizing him because we don’t like the decisions he makes.

          It’s fair to criticize the lack of trades, but the most obvious weakness at the trade deadline wasn’t the bullpen. So, yes, WJ is somewhat to blame for the Reds not doing better in general, but today’s game can’t be pinned on him at all. It isn’t as if someone other than Hoover or Parra or LeCure would have been pitching in the 8th inning today if Walt had just made a couple trades. Hannahan and Izturis were the most obvious places to upgrade, but the bench (or lack thereof) didn’t really contribute to this loss. So I’m not sure what more WJ could do to win today’s game.

        • @Baseclogger: The howlers for the most part would have been the same ones who complain about Chapman not being used enough.

          The issue with using your closer in a tie game on the road is that even if he succeeds, and you subsequently score, then somebody has to get the last 3 outs of the home team’s turn at bat. If you use the closer in the 9th then score in the 10th and comes out and pitches the 10th and holds, good enough. However if you use him an inning or two and don’t score or aren’t able to use him to close when you do, then you’ve wasted him

        • @OhioJim: I think you’ve got it backwards. The howlers would be the folks who defend Baker. They’d be saying “SEE? Baker knows what he’s doing!” Those of us who regularly criticize him for under-utilizing Chapman would be the ones defending him.

        • @OhioJim: I understand the closer “logic,” but it’s flawed. Over the course of a season you’re advantaged by using your best relief pitchers in close games. Sometimes they’ll get saves, sometimes they’ll get wins, sometimes they won’t get anything. But by using them, you’re maximizing your chances to win the game. By having them sit on the bench while lesser pitchers are given an opportunity, you’re minimizing your chances of winning the game. If Chapman pitches an inning and the Reds score 3 runs in the next inning, then Duke can give up a solo home run and the Reds still win. THAT is how you maximize your chances of winning. But we never got to find out if the Reds would score three in the next inning, because the solo home run ended it.

        • @OhioJim: I agree with Ohio Jim. If Chappy pitches the 9th..reds score 1 run in the 10th, your’re still going to have to send Duke/Parch/Ect to get the save. I will bash Dusty with the best of them, but not for letting Duke pitch the 9th.

        • @OhioJim: I agree about Chapman. All of the pitchers called upon today are in the upper tier of our bullpen and have protected leads successfully in late innings before. I’d even include Duke in that, he’s been lights out since getting called up.

          It’s just a series loss to a team that, irregardless of record, plays us tough. I actually take faith in the Cards-Dodgers games, which shows me that we can turn it on against good teams at times. And no I don’t think Dusty is a complete obstacle to going deep in the playoffs.

    • @OhioJim: That’s a fair criticism, Jim. Jocketty has been sitting on his hands, and this team is the only contender in the NL that hasn’t improved in-season.

      Of course, we have written about Jocketty’s lack of activity here at RN, but it’s certainly an under-covered storyline.

      • @Chad Dotson: I was talking mostly about the posters. Of course what we don’t know is if Jocketty was told any moves had to be salary neutral; and he couldn’t swing any in that environment.

        Not with the pitching, but not just risking getting hung with two months of Byrd’s salary has already cost them 2 or 3 games in the standings versus the Bucs.

  22. The top of the 7th inning to day had to be one of the most bizarre situations I can recall ever seeing in a baseball game. The pitcher was clear cooked and seemed to be asking, yea, even begging to be taken out yet they left him in for two more batters (both walked).

    I gotta believe the purpose of the Price visit after the first walk had to be to tell him to suck it and throw strikes and take his chances that they’d get outs. And I’m not sure what the visit was by Hanigan after the second walk.

    Just totally bizarre all the way around.

  23. Chad, I envy you. I am and have been emotionally invested in this team the whole season.

    I got gut punched last year in the playoffs, and it happened in front of my face as I attended all 3 games. But instead of following the great advice of The Who after being punched in the stomach, I simply stood back up and said ‘Again’.

    I can only hope my ignorant faith is rewarded…

  24. Lost on all of this is that if I heard right, Cueto is starting tomorrow?

    That could have reflected on what happened today as I’ll bet it means Simon and Reynolds were both held back against contingencies there.

    • @OhioJim: OK so I missed that Reynolds is the listed starter for Wednesday (holding Latos for the Buccos)

      So Simon was probably not available today because he is the contingency/ second pitcher for tomorrow.

    • @OhioJim: Of course it did. Cueto is going to start tomorrow. He will be on a pitch count. We will need relievers in the pen to spot him. We CANNOT change this decision, even if we go to extra innings with the Brewers. Even if it means leaving Duke in against matchups that will result in a game-losing walkoff HR. Even if it means losing another series to a sub .500 team. Even if it means losing ground in both the Division and Wild Card race. It’s ridiculous to try to think outside the box. Duke would have pitched into the 18th inning, if it went that far. We’ll never know, of course, because nobody would dare ask Dusty this question.

  25. Dusty Baker didn’t walk those three hitters, Bronson Arroyo did. Dusty Baker didn’t fail to turn the double play, Brandon Phillips did. Dusty Baker didn’t walk the leadoff hitter in the eighth inning, Sam LeCure did. Dusty Baker didn’t hit the one batter he faced, Manny Parra did. Dusty Baker didn’t give up the triple, J.J. Hoover did. Dusty Baker didn’t misplay Segura’s triple, Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce did.

    The Reds pitchers – Arroyo and the bullpen – blew the lead, along with help from defensive shortcomings.

    I’ve been plenty critical of Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty this year. But focusing the blame for this loss on Dusty Baker’s managing decisions is misplaced.

    Does he have some, small role in the loss? Maybe. If he’d left LeCure in would that have helped? Don’t know. The criticism is just second-guessing with hindsight.

    The players, not the manager, are the main reason the Reds lost this game.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Players blew it, no doubt. But the same can be said of every loss. You can insert “Dusty Baker didn’t….” in front of every play that lost every game, and it’s going to be true every single time. It’s always the players’ fault, every single time. If only so-and-so had gotten a hit after the sacrifice bunt, then the bunt would have worked, so it’s not Dusty’s fault, it’s so-and-so’s fault for not coming up with a clutch hit. The question we always ask is whether Baker really utilized everyone in the best possible way, and I think it’s impossible to say he did today. Arroyo shouldn’t have been allowed to load the bases. Someone should have been ready before it got to that point. LeCure shouldn’t be yanked for walking a guy on pitches that were pretty close. Chapman should have been utilized somewhere in there. Duke shouldn’t have faced a right-handed hitter in a sudden death situation. Yes, the players blew it, but, as usual, Dusty didn’t maximize their chances to not blow it. I’ll happily grant that this was far from his worst game, but I do think a different manager would have made the difference today.

      • @Baseclogger: I believe Arroyo started the seventh inning at 67 pitches and had been cruising. He walked the first two batters on eight pitches. If you thought that was even remotely possible, you’re the only one. I don’t find it surprising or questionable that Baker didn’t have someone up ready to go eight pitches into the seventh inning with a 5-1 lead.

        Everything else is just second-guessing after the fact. Are we going to starting bringing in Aroldis Chapman every game now in the eighth inning?

        As to whether it can always be said it’s the players fault, yes it can. Because it almost always is. Your first sentence is, after all, “Players blew it, no doubt.” Why is there a need to scapegoat anything else. Catch the routine fly ball in the outfield and none of this happens.

        I have plenty of fault with Dusty Baker and the way he manages the Reds. I’ve probably written in more detail about that than anyone else here. But it has gotten to the point where every single time the Reds lose, people look at some decision Baker made, argue (with certainty) that the outcome would have been different if he had made a different one, then basically assign all or a majority of blame to Baker. When in fact, the manager has a tiny percentage of effect on the game.

        Dusty screwed up because he changed relief pitchers too much. Dusty screwed up because he didn’t change relief pitchers enough. Those are literally the two arguments being made here in juxtaposition.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Then I guess I must be the only one. I’ve seen it all too many times this season: starting pitcher is cruising, hasn’t thrown too many pitches, and then suddenly loses it for no apparent reason, but nobody is ready in the bullpen because nobody seems to think this is even a remote possibility even though it’s happened many times. Did I EXPECT him to lose it? No. But when he walks a guy with a four run lead, that worries me big time. Arroyo doesn’t walk guys in that situation. He just doesn’t. If he does, something’s wrong. I’d have sent Price out immediately, and after the second walk he’s definitely out. I might not have let him get to ball three.

        • @Baseclogger: Unless you’d have had a relief pitcher warming up at the start of the inning, he wouldn’t have been ready for the third hitter. The second hitter only saw four pitches. Even with a trip to the mound that’s not enough time.

          There are plenty of times when I agree with the type of criticism you are making now – that Baker waits until the pitcher gets in predictable trouble before getting someone up in the bullpen.

          But today, Arroyo had thrown 67 pitches, was ahead 5-1 and was cruising. No way you have a reliever up at the start of the inning. Even if you start someone after the first walk (maybe Baker did, I don’t know) he wouldn’t be ready for the third hitter. You’d burn the bullpen out if you’d have someone throwing “just in case” at the start of the seventh.

        • @Baseclogger: You’d be about the only manager who would. You’d also have a completely fried bullpen. Getting guys up can be just as taxing sometimes as bringing them in.

        • @Steve Mancuso: That 5-1 loss Friday wasn’t due to Dusty’s in game management. Neither was the 9-1 drubbing the Cubs administered on Tuesday. There have been plenty of losses where Dusty wasn’t involved.

          But COME ON. How can you let Arroyo walk the bases loaded in a game of this magnitude? I don’t care if it is 5-1. This comes one day after Chappy comes in to protect a 7-3 lead.

          I don’t get it. That man is a terrible manager.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Two other points.

          a) The Brewers made mistakes in this game, too. Their guys didn’t play perfectly. They had a guy caught stealing, and another guy ran into a double-play. They failed to take advantage of some golden offensive opportunities. Their starter was terrible. Their defense wasn’t perfect. Bad plays happen in every game. You can find bad plays in every loss. That doesn’t absolve the manager.

          b) But there’s a larger point, and I don’t think you’ll entirely disagree with this. I blame Dusty for a lot of the players’ bad plays. I think he sets a tone of “meh… this particular play/at-bat/inning/game doesn’t matter very much, because there’s always the next one.” I think a lot of the team’s physical problems are caused by a lack of intensity. Not saying to themselves “I MUST catch this ball” or “I MUST not make a stupid baserunning play” or “I MUST make sure I turn this double-play.” BP is a great player, but we all know he isn’t 100% focused on being the best he can possibly be. Instead of slapping himself on the head when he gets a hit, he should be tossing the bat and running. But instead he slaps himself on the head, and Dusty apparently says nothing. I think this sets a tone of “just relax, do what you want, and if occasionally you make a stupid mistake, there’s always tomorrow.”

        • @Baseclogger: Just to be clear, I think all the players are lax at times and it manifests in many ways. BP’s helmet slap is just one quick/easy example. He’s probably the best second baseman I’ve ever seen, but there are times when I don’t think his head is quite where it ought to be, even on defense.

        • @Baseclogger: I don’t disagree with your larger point at all. Baker’s “players’ manager” style has led to a lack of accountability in the details of the way players perform. That’s another matter entirely, and I’ve been writing about it here since 2009.

          I’ll never be convinced that the players aren’t trying hard, especially in the pennant run. Fans who watch the games and see mistakes (base running, giving away at bats, pitcher walks, dropped balls, failed double plays) and conclude the team isn’t trying, are wrong, in my opinion. The players desperately want to win and are going all out.

        • @Steve Mancuso:

          I’ll never be convinced that the players aren’t trying hard, especially in the pennant run.

          This. I think BP’s effort to reach 3B on Bruce’s shallow single to CF was an example of the ‘especially in a pennant race’ situation. While you and I disagree regarding the good/bad decision made by BP, there is no debate that he was trying his best to make something happen and I applaud him for that effort.

        • @Steve Mancuso: I haven’t been commenting or even reading comments much because the comments have been even more annoying than some of the games in my opinion. Especially the comments that suggest the players aren’t trying. I fully agree with you that such comments are just plain wrong.

      • @Baseclogger: Players fail sometimes, and if the season wasn’t ending like this I would chalk this game up to bad luck and just one of those days. In a pennant race, managers especially need to put players in the best position to succeed and adjust accordingly.

        Arroyo should have been lifted after the first walk – because winning this game really matters. Chapman should have been used in the 8th inning – because winning this game really matters. Duke should not have been left in to face a RH bat, because winning this game really matters.

        Dusty cannot and will not distinguish between a regular game and an “important” game.

        • @jessecuster44: No manager in baseball would have had a pitcher warming up in the bullpen at the start of the seventh inning with a 5-1 lead and Arroyo at 67 pitches. The first two walks happened so fast there wasn’t time to have anyone warmed up. Even still, who would ever expect Bronson, with his record of control, to walk the third hitter. I complain ALL THE TIME about Baker’s management of starting pitchers and leaving them in the games too long. I just don’t see this one today as one of those. Maybe with a one run lead. Maybe if he’d been struggling. Maybe if he’d been closer to 90 pitches into the game. But not in this circumstance.

        • @Steve Mancuso: I’d have a pitcher up – because this is a pennant race in September. It’s not April.

          What you say makes sense, but given the bad mojo of the last week, I would have somebody up in the pen, because the Reds needed to win that game.

      • @Baseclogger: Every one of those pitchers used today have pretty solid track records in late innings. It’s not like he slipped Logan Ondrusik in at an inopportune time. But yes, of course, any other manager would have made a wiser decision somewhere and won the game. Whatever.

        • @FWIW567: If you’re trying to be sarcastic, good luck.

          There have been many times this season that any other manager – including the night manager at the King Kwik – could make a better decisions than Dusty.

          I hope no one here manages a King Kwik at night.

        • @jessecuster44: That was sarcasm, thanks for noticing. And I disagree with that opinion.

          Just to be clear about my thoughts on Dusty, I think he’s a thoroughly average manager, no more, no less. I won’t be sad when he’s gone, but then again I also don’t attribute every loss, bout of bad weather, or drop in the stock market to his doing. Maybe if I did I’d be more popular around here (sarcasm again).

    • @Steve Mancuso: Yes Dusty did not lose this game, the players did. Four walks, a hit batsman, a triple and a HR lost the game.
      But saying that it’s just 2nd guessing to criticize taking out LeCure when Dusty did is unfair. I’ve made a reasonable argument (above and again below), for leaving LeCure in, and was upset as soon as he was taken out. The Reds might have lost anyway, of course.

    • @Steve Mancuso:

      Steve, I won’t blame Dusty for this particular game, but I will blame him for the team’s general lack of fire, seeming lack of focus, and also seeming lack of a sense of urgency in a pennant race. They seem to reflect his managerial style, “it’s just another game”. At some point, each game matters and there is no reason to believe that they understand that time is now.

    • @Steve Mancuso: You already know this, but to add to my point about the Davis-Parra matchup vs. LeCure-Gennett. Lefties are batting under .200 against LeCure. Righties are batting over .300 against Parra. I don’t know if Dusty anticipated Davis PHing or not, but he should have. If the Reds get that one out, I belive they win the game. But of course, they may not have gotten the out anyway.

      • @pinson343: That’s a good point. Both Gennett and Davis have been tough against the Reds.

        See how Dusty Baker is getting it from both sides? According to some, he should have lifted Arroyo as soon as he started to walk hitters. According to others, he should have ignored Sam LeCure’s walk to lead off the eighth.

        I think our collective efforts to focus blame on the manager (me included) are causing us to under-appreciate the way the players failed yesterday.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Thanks for your reply, Steve. I agree with your big point. The defense and bullpen lost the game. And my only complaint with Dusty was that one move.

        • @Steve Mancuso: That’s not “getting it from both sides.” Arroyo and LeCure were in completely different situations. One had pitched 6+ innings, one had pitched less than 1. One is known for his great control, the other is known more for his “stuff.”

          Also, even if Baker is “getting it from both sides,” that doesn’t mean he’s right. It could just as easily mean one of the “sides” is wrong.

  26. I didn’t see the play, but both Brantley and Marty said they didn’t think Phillips getting thrown out at third was bad base running. And they don’t usually hesitate to criticize Reds players for that. They said it was just a phenomenal play by Carlos Gomez. Phillips was trying to get to third with one out so he could score on a sacrifice fly. That’s a pretty standard practice. Not every time that a player gets thrown out on the bases is a base running mistake.

    • @Steve Mancuso: I saw it and couldn’t believe he was testing Gomez. Gomez was fielding as he rounded 2nd. Against most CF’s it would have been a reasonable gamble but not Gomez.

      • @OhioJim: Thoroughly agree. Maybe not every out on the basepaths is a “TOOTBLAN,” but that was a bad decision. Gallardo was on the verge of being knocked out, and one more good shot was likely to do it. And Gomez is a very, very good player. Maybe the Reds have noticed that at any point during the season?

    • @Steve Mancuso: NO it was not a phenomenal play by Gomez. Gomez had the ball when Phillips was less than a third of the way from second. All it took was a normal, accurate throw to nail BP by a mile.

      Normally I’d call this terrible baserunning, but with the 2013 Reds, this is just baserunning.

      • @jessecuster44: Here’s the video of the play. Gomez charged the ball well and made a strong throw to third base. Phillips (who is slooooooow) was out by a step. That seems like a reasonable chance for Phillips to take. As I said, not every out on the bases is a base running mistake. It’s not like most of the awful base running we’ve seen from the Reds this year, like Frazier and Votto yesterday.

        http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=30639975&player_id=460576

        • @Steve Mancuso: OK. It was the second out, so not unforgivable, but no more runner in scoring position. Bad.

          However – there has been such bad baserunning this season, and BP is slow.
          Gomez didn’t do anything extraordinary. He made a good throw, and is a very good defender, as we have seen on many occasions. Why test his arm?

        • @jessecuster44: It was a risk, trying to get to third base with one out to score on a sac fly. If Gomez doesn’t make a strong throw, Phillips is safe and it’s good base running. The play was close, the gamble was close one way or another. My point was just that every time someone gets thrown out on the bases it isn’t a huge base running mistake. Of course, in hindsight, every out on the bases is a mistake.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Point taken. Just frustrating to see yet another out on the basepaths made by someone from that 2010 team that as a whole ran the bases so smartly.

  27. I read an article about Manny Parra, earlier in the season. It said he sought the consult of a sports psychologist (whatever the heck that is) during the winter, to turn him around. Since Dusty doesn’t seem able to manag–um–motivate his teams not to choke in key moments, maybe Walt should look bringing that guy into the clubhouse, as an advisory role, of course (not trying to diminish Baker’s position, here). I assume his talents don’t include time travel, however.

  28. Thanks to Chad for this post and to all of you for your intelligent conversation.

    I was born too late to witness the Big Red Machine. This team is the biggest headcase I’ve ever seen. I have never ever seen a group of such talented athletes “play down” like this.

    Like you, Chad, something snapped inside me as a fan with this team, but much later than you– for some reason I hung in emotionally until the 6-1 loss to the Cards in August. After that game I came to the very calm realization that a combination of Dusty’s poor managerial decisions and the players either not caring or not having their heads on straight means we won’t be hanging around long in the postseason. Weeks ago I noticed I was beginning to make the assumption that if we were losing past the 5th inning or so that it was fairly safe to turn the game off. The fight just wasn’t there.

    So I felt angry with all the fan-shaming regarding the empty seats against the Cardinals at the beginning of the September series. This team was resigned, so why shouldn’t the rest of us be? What did they expect?

    Which made the run against the Cardinals and the Dodgers all the more remarkable. What happened to make it all click, and why was it gone as quickly as it came? I expected at least one early loss against the Cubs as they over-relaxed after taking down the titans, but it’s as if they were losing addicts who had one solid hit off the dumb-play crackpipe, then immediately spiraled right back down to where they were.

    I have to wonder if there’s some sort of dysfunction going on in the clubhouse beyond the bizarre managing– if it’s an inferiority complex, terror that Dusty is going to make ANOTHER dip—t decision to lose it no matter what they do, massive loss of concentration, lack of discipline at the plate and in the infield, or a combination of all that. The weird slumping/error by Votto alone makes me wonder what on Earth is happening beyond that dugout.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  29. You know, all year on this board people have complained about Chapman’s usage. I get the feeling that people want Chapman to be used any time there is a close game.

    I went and looked at how many close games the Reds have had this year. (I defined a close game as a game when the score ended with 3 runs or less difference) and got the number:

    95.

    So, if I’m understanding this correctly, people want Chapman to have logged 95 innings of relief? That would be the most in all of MLB. And what if Chapman were to get injured? I can already hear the cries of “DUSTY OVER-USED HIM!” or “DUSTY DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO MANAGE PITCHERS!” or “DUSTY RUINED ANOTHER ONE!”

    Sometimes, you just can’t win. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

    • @CI3J: If that’s your impression, then I’d say you’re not reading the comments very carefully. The overwhelming consensus among those of us who think Chapman is being misused (putting aside the issue of whether he should be starting) is that he’s used too OFTEN with three run leads. One of the criticisms has been that Baker will essentially waste him by having him pitch to the bottom of the order up by three runs just because it’s a save situation, and then NOT use him the next day in the 8th inning of a 1 run game to face the heart of the order. Yes, most of us think he hasn’t pitched enough innings — especially when he goes 10 days without throwing a pitch — but the even bigger issue has been WHEN he pitches, not how often. He didn’t pitch today in a sudden-death situation, but he might very well pitch tomorrow with a three run lead facing essentially three minor league hitters. Those are both “close” games by your definition, but they aren’t the same situations at all, and I think most of us would rather see him used today than in that sort of hypothetical “close” game tomorrow.

      • @Baseclogger:

        So what do you want? Him to pitch every time the Reds are within one run, facing the heart of the order late? So if the Reds have a 3 run lead or are down by 3 runs, Chapman shouldn’t pitch? Is that it?

        I’m not being snarky, I’m genuinely trying to understand here….

        • @CI3J: I for one don’t have a problem with Chapman coming in for a 3 run save if he’s rested and especially if good hitters are coming up. But I don’t think he needs to be used for every 3 run save.

          One issue has been the non-use of Chapman on the road in tie games in the 9th or later, until the Reds take the lead. That usually means not using him at all. One defense has been “That’s what other managers do” but that’s less and less the case. For example, the Red Sox manager John Farrell used their closer on the road in the 9th against the Rays last week, because he liked the Red Sox chance of scoring against a used up pen in the 10th.
          More typically, managers will go to their closer on the road in extras before going to a mopup guy. Dusty will go to mop up guys until the Reds take the lead.

        • @CI3J: As far as yesterday goes, I’m not sure if I put in Chapman in to pitch the 9th. Bu the Reds had to go with Duke because Dusty had used 3 relievers in the 8th, when leaving LeCure in would have created a much better matchup than Parra vs. Davis. And LeCure has done better than Hoover in pressure situations with runners on.

          Overall I haven’t had problems with Dusty’s use of the pen lately, as for example at this point in the season he is bringing in Chapman when the Reds are in danger of blowing a lead in the 8th.

        • @CI3J: I’m not being snarky when I say I’d like to see Chapman used in whatever situations he can offer the most value, whether it be the bottom of the 9th or a bases loaded jam in the 7th with a tough lefty at the plate. And I’d like to see him used as often and as much as is reasonable. As it is now, two of Chapman’s own teammates have pitched more innings in relief than he has (Simon has pitched 15 more innings), so he’s nowhere close to the top of the league in that category. How can this possibly be maximizing his value?

    • So, if I’m understanding this correctly, people want Chapman to have logged 95 innings of relief?

      Why the heck not? He was conditioned as a starter, and for the great majority of baseball history, relief pitchers routinely threw over 100 innings.

  30. Cueto, Leake and Reynolds to face the Astros and Latos, Bailey and Bronson to face the Pirates. It’s risky – the Astros offense has had a lot of high scoring games – but I like it. It’s creative and probably gives the Reds their best shot at catching the Pirates.

  31. @D Ray White: I know a lot of Giants fans, and let’s just say they like the Reds players but not their manager.

    I know a lot of Giants fans, probably more than you, and they still praise Dusty. It’s amazing how many still have positive things to say about him out here.

    As for this year’s Reds, I’ve kind of lost the spirit. Yeah they’re good but I just don’t think they’re going anywhere.

  32. @D Ray White: I know a lot of Giants fans, and let’s just say they like the Reds players but not their manager.

    I know a lot of Giants fans, probably more than you, and they still praise Dusty. It’s amazing how many still have positive things to say about him out here.

    As for this year’s Reds, I’ve kind of lost the spirit. Yeah they’re good but I just don’t think they’re going anywhere.

    • @sezwhom1:
      I have a lot of relatives in SF area. 10 of my father’s siblings plus all of their offspring. The consensus seems to be Dusty was likable but he doesn’t have a good feel for managing the pitching staff and he can’t win the big one.

      I have even more relatives in Chicago, where I was born and where my mother’s side of the family lives. The consensus there is Dusty can’t manage a pitching staff. Oh yeah, and he can’t win the big one.

      Sound familiar?

  33. I wanted to state some things:

    “I would LOVE to be pleasantly surprised by this team”

    I have to agree. With this team, it would be a surprise if they do anything in the playoffs. Can they surprise us? Sure. But, it would be a surprise, not as much an expectation like last year might have been.

    “Dusty Baker is not a good manager. . .Assure me of a reasonable replacement.”

    That’s one thing there. We won’t possibly/probably know if the person is a reasonable replacement until they get here and we actually start seeing the results. Like many of the previous that you mentioned, I don’t think many would have said they would have been bad managers when they were hired. That’s why when people ask, “Who would you get to replace Baker?” I answer, “Most anyone else.”

    This sort of gets into what I was going to save for after the season. What I see from the Reds needs in the off season are:
    1) Contractual – most basically, confirm something for CF, whether Choo or even confirm it will be a ST competition; also, what about Bronson? There are others, yes, but I believe those will be key to the other keys like Latos or Bailey.
    2) Needs – regardless of the contracts and other players, I still believe the Reds lack a true 4 hole hitter. As good as BP may or may not have been this year there, I don’t see him as being any kind of protection for Votto. Same with Bruce. I don’t think Ludwick would be able to fill the shoes. I could see bringing someone in to play, for example, 3rd base and bat in the 4 hole, letting Frazier go. Or, even someone who can play RF and still bat in the 4 hole and let Bruce go, or something of that sort (as in, I go by if you bring someone in, someone has to go). I would think Devin could be the guy, but as little as Baker plays him, Devin will never be able to get into a routine.
    3) Which gets into probably the most significant part as far as I am concerned. We can bring in whoever we want, we aren’t going to be able to do anything while Baker and Jocketty is here. Our offense has gone nowhere, if not has gotten worse. I consider it sort of insulting that here we are, with essentially two hitting coaches on the field everyday (Baker came into the league as a hitting instructor), and the strength of this team is pitching and defense. And, Baker, you said he has strengths. What strengths? I just don’t see them. Players manager? He’s thrown his own players under the bus more than other managers do their players. In-game strategy is non-existent. He has no rep of developing young players. His players love to play for him? They really seem to show it on the field day in and day out, don’t they? Baker has little if anything to do with how good this team is right now. The talent level on this team right now is because of, if I kept count right, the last three GM’s. They are who I credit for the talent on the team right now.

    You want the reason Baker has won so many games. It hasn’t been because of his managerial brilliance. It’s been because SF refused to let go a good friend of two of the franchise’s biggest stars. So, they kept going out to find better players for their team, effectively making Baker the ultimate “utility fielder” of managers, hanging around while the starters would win the games.

    • @steveschoen: Finally someone posts about Frazier at 3B. I agree that he’s a fine gentleman, but definitely not much of a player.

      So going forward, the Reds need a solid 3B (younger version of Rolen perhaps) – a player who consistently hits the rock (had one in Edgar E. but sadly the Reds needed leadership in the clubhouse in 2010 so Walt J went out and got Scott Rolen who, at least temporarily, taught the Reds players how to lace them up – something they once again seem to have forgotten). And sadly for the Reds, its Todd is not the answer. He had a golden opportunity to blow yesterday’s game wide open in the 1st and he hits a nubber to 3B for the 1st out. As it is, have seen that way too many times out of Todd this year as he can’t hit the off-speed pitch to save his life and as a result always appears off balance (watch the movie ‘The Scout’ – Clint Eastwood would have spotted Todd’s weakness). The Giants forgot that in a series in SF earlier this year and paid for it as the Reds pounded them, thanks in part to Frazier’s hitting the fastball. And really loved Todd’s doubles last year, but since pitchers now know how to get him out, has produced far fewer big knocks this year.

      The left side of the Reds infield is weak and needs revamped. And I will give Cozart a little more time, as I hope he is coming around. Is there any chance that Mez could play 3B (ala Johnny Bench and Pete Rose)?

      Yesterday’s game was simply another indication of a Reds weakness as it should have been over in the 1st inning (like a 5-0 lead where the Brew Crew quits).

      • @cincyreds14: Frazier isn’t having the kind of offensive season we expected him to but to say he just isn’t very good is farcical. I’m not a giant fan of WAR but he’s 2nd among qualified 3B (11 of them) in the NL with a 3.4 WAR. Mostly due to the fact that the metrics love his defense. Looking at some offensive stats though, it wouldn’t suggest he’s terrible: OBP 9th, SLG 8th, 9th in OPS. Certainly below average offensively this year for an NL 3B but not tragic. His OPS for example is one point lower than Michael Young’s and many around here said that the Reds should go strong for Young at the deadline.

        • Not to say that Frazier is a good or bad player, but comparing only against 3rd basemen is a little short-sighted. For, there are probably plenty of guys out there who can and would play 3rd base if called upon. A-Rod just being one of them. So, sure, if we go looking for another 3rd baseman, we probably couldn’t get better, especially for what we are paying for. But, then, like the movie “A Cutting Edge” (if I recall correctly), we would have to look into another barrel for what we need.

  34. Not sure that I follow Chad’s logic that one of the foremost reasons that he doesn’t believe in this team is because of how poorly they are managed yet at the same time stopping short of thinking the manager should be fired.

    I guess I’m willing to take the risk at this point because I share the belief that the club will not win a world’s championship with the current manager at the helm.

    I’m really not all that disappointed with the loss because I had pretty much given up hope of winning the division early last week. I think it was the second loss to the Cubs that ended any chance of the division – not yesterday. I still think we can catch the Pirates but that is becoming a longer shot. Glad to see the rotation adjusted to put our best arms against them.

    I admit that I’m a huge fan of Jocketty, so I’m biased. But, I still do not see what he could have done to improve the talent on this club working within the budget limitations and without sacrificing the future talent of the organization for a rental-type player who likely wouldn’t have helped much anyway. He doesn’t have a magic wand and saying that he should have improved the club without presenting viable moves he could have made doesn’t seem fair to me.

    Glad to have this group therapy session today. The good Lord knows we need a trip to Houston right about now!

    • @Kyle Farmer: Hey, Kyle, you sort of allude to something Iwould really rather see, myself. I would rather see what Krivsky and Obrien were doing and see the club make a little more of a commitment toward the scouting and development portions of the club. Someone did post earlier this week how the Reds are pretty set in their positions for the next several years. So, I would think the focus would be on the scouting and development of the younger players now.

  35. I was reading most of the comments and was patiently waiting to read that it was the players, not Baker, who lost Sunday’s game. Clearly, that comment finally came.

    Here’s the rub: Losing a game here and there in a tough way is part of the 162. What the problem is, and it goes beyond the loss of Sunday’s game, is that the team itself is struggling to contend against two teams that obviously don’t run into long periods of win-1, lose-1, win-another, lose-another, play .500 ball over two and a half MONTHS.

    There is a culture of futility with this team. Baker and his staff created that, NOT Manny Parra, NOT J.J. Hoover, NOT Sam LeCure.

    This team should have won the first two games of the series. They split. The sweep was squandered on Friday and the players all wimped around, saying mea-culpa, promising to do better. The manager just whined about it.

    That’s a culture of mediocrity.

    So NO, the standard “don’t blame Dusty for this one” is off-base.

    I BLAME DUSTY for the season because, at the end, they give out “manager of the year” awards when teams win, which means the manager gets the credit.

    This team is mediocre. The record is a fraud. This is a .500 team that beat people early in the year with a good roster. When the roster faltered, the manager and his staff could not adapt.

    Who adapted? St. Louis, since 2010, has endured the loss of the best hitter in the NL, the Cy Young winner TWICE, their best lefty, their entire bullpen, their manager, the best pitching coach of the modern era, and most of their team has spent extended time on the DL, including their Gold Glove catcher. They used 6 ROOKIES in their pitching staff this year.

    First place.

    I won’t go into the Pirates, whose entire rotation was out at one time during the season.

    First place.

    Dusty Baker is a failure, and Manny Parra is not the reason.

  36. And BTW, Cueto MIGHT give the Reds 3 innings tonight, which should couple with some kind of strange decision on who ought to pitch after that.

    But we’ve decided to taunt the Astros by throwing Reynolds on Wednesday, because obviously, Thursday’s game is more important.

    Managing as if the Astros were a bad baseball team will only prove that if you don’t beat bad teams, you are one.

  37. I’d been a casual reader of this site in seasons past, but posts like this are exactly the reason why this site has become a daily habit this year. It’s not always easy to put feelings into words, but most of the time, the words printed here capture my sentiments perfectly, yet far more cogently than I could hope to express them myself.

    This has been one of the most frustrating seasons I can remember. Yes, it’s nice that they have a winning record and are in playoff contention, and yes, it beats the misery of ’96-’09 (’99 excluded), but after last year — which seemed to prove that 2010 wasn’t a fluke, and that a proverbial “good stretch” was indeed nigh — nice and better than just aren’t good enough. The pieces are all there, but two weeks into September, they still haven’t been properly assembled — partially because some pieces (Chapman) are inconceivably ignored while other pieces (lineup issues, bunting, bullpen mismanagement, etc.) are misused.

    I agree Jocketty and the players themselves deserve some blame, but when you have an anachronistic, stubborn captain steering the ship, it shouldn’t be a surprise when you don’t end up at your desired destination. Baker is not a tactician and becomes a liability in close games. It seems that whenever he tries to actively “manage,” he bungles. It’s like Keri’s 2 percent book — you have to maximize/exploit whatever edge you can possibly find to separate yourself from the pack. This year, that simply hasn’t happened.

    I still care more than I should, but the above post sums up my sentiments too. At this point, I’m excited that there will be at least a game 163, but because I’ve been given no reason to expect a game 164, I won’t be crushed if one doesn’t take place. Disappointed, yes, but life will go on — and hopefully without Dusty Baker.

  38. Let’s face it, there isn’t much point arguing about individual game decisions after yesterday. You have to figure the Cardinals (by virtue of the Reds/Pirates beating up on each other) will win the division. All that’s left is to determine if the play-in game is in Cincy or Pittsburgh……and who finishes with the best record in the NL. Currently, Atlanta is 3 games up on the Dodgers. If that lead holds, the Reds could win the play-in game and face the Braves. That’s my preferred outcome, so maybe there’s a silver lining to not winning the division.

    Also on a more macro level, enough of this splitting time between Hannahan and Frazier. It’s a stupid experiment that needs to stop. Same with Hanigan and Mez. Hanigan’s bat cannot make up for his supposed pitch calling skills (another dumb pitch call friday night).

    Pick a starting 8 and play them the rest of the way.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: I think the sharing of catching duties is the least of our problems, even though the choices are often severe tradeoffs. This has all come down to players putting their game on the line every night. If indeed they are, it isn’t translating in what I observe.

      • @VaRedsFan: The key is the play in game. That means if the Reds actually lose the WC game, they will have officially not made the playoffs this year – just as when they lost the last game of ‘the season’ in 1999 to the Mets.

        And that dedicated Reds fans is the primary crux to the story for the Red’s 2013 season.

  39. It’s pretty sad when it seems a loss upsets us more than it does the players. There is no sense of urgency from these players or their manager.

  40. What a fun thread after such a disappointing game. Chad put my feelings into words regarding this team. I have been to well over a dozen games this season but I rarely watch them on TV. It comes from the same place he stated, I just don’t want to be disappointed by this team. I love the players and I don’t hate the manager but it’s been easier to read recaps and box scores this past month than experience the graph we see above.

    As for Dusty, my criticism boils down to what Brantley told Marty in the wrap up. Failing to pitch Simon because he would be necessary tomorrow in Houston after Cueto pitches something from 3-5 innings, is not September baseball.

    I sometimes wonder if Dusty wasn’t auditioning for the soon to be vacant position in LA with that series. He managed harder and was more focused than I’d seen him all year . . .

    • @rightsaidred: Love the Cowboy – besides his passion for food – he is normally spot on about the Reds. As it is, the Reds really do not have a sharply focused manager – something it takes to win a short series. As always, the Cowboy will continue to offer his profound insights into the Reds as they suck themselves down the proverbial drain to close out their season.

  41. Of course you can’t simply blame Dusty for the loss, either because of the season-long lack of accountability or the specific decisions. But a Manager’s job–nobody said it would be easy–is to put his players in the best position to win. And Dusty failed to do that, for which he deserves a lot of criticism.

    Let’s look at two moments:

    1) Pitcher management. Steve, you say no one would have had a reliever warming up when Bronson entered the 7th. I say anyone who has watched Bronson all year, or the sixth inning, and who was in the middle of a pennant race with expanded rosters, should have had someone warming up. But even if no manager would have had someone up at the start of the inning, Bronson walked the first, second, and FOURTH batter he faced that inning. Certainly there should have been time to get someone ready by the time the fourth batter of the inning stepped to the plate with 2 on and one out. But Dusty decided to let it ride, even after watching Bronson fade quickly many times before.

    I’ll skip some of the other pitching changes, and won’t debate the frequency/timing. What I will note is that there were still plenty of RHP available, plus Chapman, in the 9th. Was Duke vs a RH batter the best choice to put us in a position to win? Using Simon might have messed things up for the next game. So be it. We need to win today and let tomorrow work itself out.

    2) This didn’t impact the game. But I think it’s indicative of Dusty not putting his team in the best position to succeed: Ludwick made the last out in the top of the 7th. With a late lead, he was clearly destined to be replaced for defensive purposes. Dusty chose to wait for a double-switch or PH opportunity instead of simply replacing Ludwick at the start of the inning. Why? He had a 5-1 lead. He could have put Heisey in, and then PH someone else. Or put Robinson in, and then used Heisey to PH for the pitcher. He’s got a September roster full of players. The best call was to replace Ludwick ASAP for defensive purposes, to help protect that nice lead and put the game away. In the end, things went bad because of wildness, not a misplay in LF. But it could just have easily been a ball Ludwick couldn’t get to but Heisey could. And there was no good reason–not even a “player’s manager” reason or “saving him for tomorrow” reason–for Ludwick to still be in the game. If Ludwick had misplayed a ball we could “blame” the player–but the Manager was the one who left him in the game unnecessarily.

    • @Eric the Red: Amen. The things is, we’ve seen “cruising” pitchers suddenly fall apart at all sorts of pitch counts. Sometimes it’s 105, sometimes it’s 75. We’ve seen guys cruise through the first three innings and then get shelled in the 4th. The Reds needed 9 outs and had virtually infinite number of relief pitchers to get those outs. There’s no reason NOT to have someone getting ready in the 7th, regardless of pitch count. You get LeCure ready and bring him in at the first sign of trouble. From my perspective, when Arroyo walks a leadoff hitter, that’s a major sign of trouble. A sharp Arroyo would almost never do that. Even if nobody starts the inning warming up, that’s the moment someone should be up. You send the catcher out to talk. You send Price out to talk. When he walks the next guy you send the catcher out to talk. Then you slowly make your way to the mound. LeCure is plenty warm by this time. This is what “urgency” would look like. But Baker left him in for two more batters. That’s what complacency looks like.

      • @Baseclogger: Enough with the constant bashing of Elrod (Dusty B)- he is not going anywhere so we are destined to suffer through Dusty’s futility for the rest of the season and beyond (and I surely know other Reds pain as I have been one of the many that has constantly been leading the charge to dismiss Dusty B all season).

        Really not too optimistic about the Reds chances as Baker has been a malignancy in the Reds organization since 2008 starting with the days of Corey Patterson and Willy Taveris.

  42. In order for the Reds to catch the Cardinals, they have to hope the Nationals can beat the Birds. Finishing 3rd is no big deal, is it?

  43. Bad, Bad series against both the Cubs and Brewers. This team has had several opportunities to make a splash in the division but have sqandered them all. Its alittle like 2011, a series of small things and bad play that add up to a underachieving regular season. I agree with the sentiment that they could ride a wave to a title (ala the last three WS victors), but I don’t feel its likely.

    In 2011, they played the status quo game and it bit them. You can’t really say that this year or last. The trades for Latos and Choo were bold moves. I didn’t like the lack of activity to improve the bench and bullpen this year by Walt, but this teams issues are bigger than that.

    This team seems to be on the standard Dusty Baker glidepath of managing. Both of his previous stops have followed the same pattern. Significant early success, a peak followed by a decline puctuated by poor play and no outward accountability. The fear of the next manager being worse shouldn’t be the only reason they don’t make a change. I heard this reasoning plenty in the philly area I live in now wrt Andy Reid, which led to stadnation over their last 2-3 seasons. I think too of the Terry Francona example. He was booted from the phillies, was hired by Red Sox and was a part of two WS titles. Managerial performance is as volitile as middle relievers. But this organization needs something, its like a bland soup. You know something is missing, but you can’t put your finger on what it is.

  44. Relax Reds nation. The Reds will win the 2nd WC, then pitch Homer in Pitts-burgh. And yes, some rears do need to be kicked by the man in charge(as half the team is currently sleep-walking toward the playoffs), but this season is far from over. Guaranteed, Dusty is going to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

    So keep the faith Reds fans and don’t jump off any cliffs. And please remember, trials and tribulations always build character (if they don’t kill you or lose the season for you).

  45. Final statement about yesterday to certain thoughtful parties. Yes the players lost the game with defensive blunders, and the pitchers – late in the game – walking 4 batters, hitting one, and giving up a triple and a home run.

    But to add to my point about preferring the LeCure-Gennett matchup to Davis-Parra: lefties are batting under .200 against LeCure and righties are batting over .300 against Parra. I don’t know if Dusty anticipated Davis PHing or not, but he should have. If the Reds get that one out, I believe they win the game. Of course, LeCure may not have gotten the out anyway, but he was only at 11 pitches.

    • @pinson343: The thing that irked me the most and still does was all the darn nibbling starting with Arroyo in the 7 and right on through the 8th

      Chris Welch made what I thought was a good statement even as late as when Parra was facing Davis with 1 man aboard. He said throw him a strike, challenge him. Even if he takes you deep you still have 1 run lead with the bases clear and 6 outs to go and with Aroldis Chapman sitting down in the pen behind you.

      At some point in the 7th with a 4 run lead, Arroyo has to throw a strike and let the chips fall as they might. LeCure came in knowing he had to throw strikes and got out of the inning with minimal damage. Then he goes out in the 8th and starts making cutesy…. And so on

  46. What a difference a week makes. Shades of 1999 in Milwaukee. If your not going to use Chapman in a game like this and for more than one inning, then trade him for a cleanup hitter.

    • @Redsfanx: Amen – since Chappy is simply wasting away right now – and make it a 3B who can hit both a fastball AND OFFSPEED PITCHES (since I have grown so weary of Todd’s constant futility).

  47. Todd’s WAR stands at 2.7. Based on that ridiculous stat the statisticians must weigh (as a positive factor) how off balance Todd constantly appears at the plate.

  48. Man, baseball really is a game of futility. Players gets applauded (as well as paid handsomely) for being successful 3 out of 10 ABs.

    And Managers are called geniuses for being successful in an average of 3 out of 5 games.

    So based on that rate of futility, lets all hope here at Redleg Nation that the Reds somehow find a way to put their futility behind them and find a golden seam during the next month by going on a run that will be remembered for years (like 25-35 years).

  49. It took Chad this many years to recognize that firing Dusty Baker wasn’t some perfect solution to cure everything that trouble the team? I’ve been scared about who they’d replace him with for years, but that argument was drowned out in favor of the vague ‘anybody is better than Dusty’ argument. I’m surprised that a big picture is finally being considered.

    An important point is that there’s no guarantee Bryan Price will stay with the Reds if they fire Dusty Baker or the other coaches. Price can quit and would have no trouble finding a job elsewhere if he doesn’t approve of the new Reds’ manager. Does anybody want Bryan Price gone? I doubt it.

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