2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: To err is human, but the Reds are becoming experts

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Cincinnati 2
Pittsburgh 4

W: A. Burnett (9-11)
L: H. Bailey (11-11)
S: J. Grilli (31)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–Ryan Ludwick was 2-3 with a walk and an RBI. Zack Cozart hit his 12th homer.

NEGATIVES
–The Reds were leading 2-0 in the second. In the bottom half of the inning, Joey Votto committed a two-out error — his 14th of the season — that extended the inning. On the very next pitch, Russell Martin hit a game-tying homer.

Then, in the sixth inning, Pittsburgh took the lead thanks partially to a throwing error by Homer Bailey. This year’s version of the Reds have just been sloppy since day one.

–Maybe it’s just me, but I’d prefer not to have Derrick Robinson and Jack Hannahan (in there because of Todd Frazier’s struggles in 11 AB against AJ Burnett, according to Cincinnati’s manager) in the starting lineup for one of the biggest games of the season. Even if you feel like you need Robinson in the game, thanks to Shin-Soo Choo’s injury, is it really a good idea to let a guy with a .309 OBP bat leadoff?

I’m not smart enough to understand this, but in Dusty we Trusty, right?

–Oh, and those two went 0-7 and struck out four times.

–I don’t understand the bullpen usage in the sixth inning either, but I’ve become accustomed to it.

–Jay Bruce was 0-4 and grounded into two double plays, including a crucial one in the top of the ninth.

–They’re gonna break your heart, Nation.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–Remember last night? That was fun. Tonight…not so much. You can’t win ‘em all, they tell me.

–Homer Bailey was just okay. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and four walks in 5.2 innings. He wasn’t the dominant Homer that his team needed, but he was adequate.

–The Reds are now back in third place, three back of the Cardinals. If the Reds can pull one off tomorrow, behind Bronson Arroyo, it’ll be a series victory on the road in Pittsburgh. That’s a good thing, right?

Source: FanGraphs

90 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: To err is human, but the Reds are becoming experts

  1. All valid points.

    Duke / Ondrusek / Hannahan / Robinson. Four players who should not be sniffing playing time in this series that have made too much of a difference.

  2. Hannahan instead of Frazier. I suppose Dusty had some logic to that, although I disagree. But using Duke again in a crucial situation against the team the Reds are tied for 2nd place with near the end of the season? That extra run he gave up kept Hamilton on the bench in the 9th, although I don’t understand that either. Down 2 runs in the 9th, Hamilton could have run for Ludwick, stolen 2nd to get into scoring position and eliminated the eventual double play.

    Dusty called out his players a few days ago. Maybe he ought to take a look in the mirror and recognize his part in the failures. A manager is supposed to put his players in the best position to win. Dusty seems to give them the opportunity to lose instead.

    • @MikeC: Dusty won’t… he doesn’t have mirrors… lot of toothpicks maybe.. he defers accounability.. justlike his players ..

  3. crucial error by votto and then again by Baily (and Votto)… Errors will always cost big in these tight games.. against good teams..

    lack of fundamental play all year long – why? lack of accountability.

    Bad lineup.. bad Dusty as usual..

    by the way pennant is out of the question..

    We just need to win 3 of 4 remaining against the Pirates.. that’s all… :) not all that optimistic, but do we have a choice?

    Can’t stand Votto this year.. sorry Votto lovers… you can’t hang on to few games out of 162 that he highlights (like last night) and because of his OBP, everything is OK w/ this 200 mil dollar man… no way he plays like one… If he has/is, then Choo must be worth 150 – 200 mil for next few years, with Cubs or Mets.. whoever decides to pay up..

    Bruce is clueless at times…

    And why did Frazer not start? is Dusty out of his mind?

    Lastly, where was Billy in the 9th inning… avoid DP… big big mistake..

    sorry one more.. why Zach in crucial late inning? 1 run makes a big difference… (I suppose w/ 1 run deficit, Dusty would have brought on Billy in the 9th)

    Dusty… man, I don’t get how he manages in major league

  4. They will break our hearts indeed. The reality is that we’ve all known that this team will finish in 3rd place and play the Pirates in the WC game…and lose it. Seriously, we’ve known this for at least three weeks. There are those who will say “anything can happen”. Which is silly, because of course anything CAN happen. But we’ve known for a long time what we’re seeing in reality – a team that will finish in 3rd place and be one-and-done in the WC game.

    The only two things I cannot see for sure at this point and time is: Does Dusty get the axe? Do they resign Choo?

    • @tpteach: I actually think there’s a good chance they would actually win it. But, then, I’m realistic that this year’s team would NOT win a best of 5, or 7, against any of the teams that will be there in October. Just be honest with yourself, and hopefully, be surprised. But really, don’t get too excited about any of this.

        • @tpteach: Oh, but “it” do you mean the WC game? No. See, that’s where you’re wrong. The one game relies a lot of Dusty. And that’s our biggest obstacle.

        • @tpteach: Yes, by “it”, I mean the one-game/play-in (IF it’s against the Pirates, someone else: different story). But I think Dusty does less damage in the feweer number of games in the series. Look at his track record as manager. The longer the series goes, the more he tries to “manage”, and, well. Last year, in San Fran, it all happened so quick, he couldn’t react. Got back in Cincy, and he began to “manage”. See what I’m saying?

      • @wildwestLV: They recently played the Cards in two series separated by only one other series and won 4 of 7. They played the Dodgers 7 games in two series separated by about a months and won 4 of 7. They played the Braves 7 games in two series separated by two months and went 3-4 versus them. Those are 3 teams that will be in the playoffs along with the WC teams.

        If the Reds get into the playoffs and win the play in game there is no reason to believe they won’t be competitive in a best of 5 or best of 7 series.

        • @OhioJim: yes to this point. Make it past the one game WC and we can win the whole thing. But, I’m telling you now, the odds are like catching the two remaining kings in the deck on the river. Could happen, but won’t. And I truly think we all know this. We have to.

  5. I frankly don’t care who was in there, who was pitching or where they played, if a team is going to get 5 hits for an entire game, they’re probably going to end up like the Marlins quite often. This is a hitting philosophy that has stunk up the Ohio Valley for 4 years and it’s not improving. These hitters were as clueless as Martians the third time around. It’s not like A.J. Burnett is a great pitcher. He’s a decent veteran — and not nearly the CY candidate we made him appear to be.

    • @Johnu1: c’mon.. we have made many many average pitchers look Cy Young like this year..

      What’s Dusty saying Post Game… anyone?

      “well, we played hard.. they are tired… gave it all they had… errors is to be human, ya know.. Votto does so much in other things ya know..we pay him to get on base, not to field..we’ll get them tomorrow.. we will be OK”

      something like that?

    • @Johnu1:
      No doubt the hitting was bad, but the Pirates matched the total with 5 hits of their own. While you can sometimes use more hits, you can’t always get them. So you have to play to the situation and keep the scoring down from the other team (no Duke). And try to take advantage of the opportunities you get (subbing Hamilton).

      • @MikeC: So if you can’t hit, find other ways to win … I see … I’d rather fix the problems that are obvious … mainly, not swinging at pitches that bounce 3 feet in front of the plate on on 0-2 count.

  6. What about PH’ing Rodriguez in the 7th? What about not putting in Hamilton to remove the DP opportunity in the 9th? This Baker dude doesn’t have a clue.

  7. Choo won’t stay.. he can’t.. too much money out there..

    dusty should go .. should have been let go last year.. but.. they prob will retain him..why? cuz ownership is clueless about game management.. and they will say we went to playoffs again..

  8. Last night, it took Dusty Baker two pitches in the Mesoraco AB to realize he needed to bring in Hamilton to get the tying run in scoring position. The though never occurred to him “Hmmm, I’ve got a guy that has been on 1st base 9 times this season, and has stolen 2nd base 9 times … probably should get him in”

    Guy is absolutely clueless. I’m surprised he didn’t find a way to get his pinch hitting wizard Soto in the game tonight.

  9. The, “Dusty being gone, because we miss the playoffs, or are one-and-done” talk needs to stop. Dusty WILL be back (2-year contract) next year, regardless of what happens in the next few weeks. There’s NO way, AT ALL, Bob would quit on Dusty after a season of injuries & two tough division opponents. Just being frank, here. Don’t get overly excited about a Reds collapse, and/or one-and-done outcome that would result in Baker’s exit. It’s not going to happen.

    • @wildwestLV: Very true. I’d guess Dusty would be more likely to walk away voluntarily is they won it all than management would be to dump him.

      Also there is a very big presumption being made by a lot of folks that just because Baker’s game management skills are his weak point (and I agree with that), that some other manager would have done better (or even as well) with this team. Given the upheaval of all the injuries to key pieces and the failure of the front office to bring in a single true MLB level replacement, I think it is very possible that instead of doing better, this team might have well imploded with a manager who has Baker’s skills to manage personalities.

  10. I was shocked to see Robinson and Hannahan in the lineup. I guess I shouldn’t have been. Dusty’s pregame reason for starting Robinson instead of Hamilton: “I thought Robinson could handle Burnett better … you’ve got a wily veteran facing a kid (Hamilton).”

    So Robinson’s 179 career ABs qualified him as a veteran who could face a wily veteran.

      • @OhioJim: Agreed. But if it’s a matter of good defense in CF, then Bronson will need that tomorrow even more than Homer needed it today. Having both Robinson and Hanigan in the lineup weakens the offense too much. And then adding Hannahan, good grief.

  11. I like the suggestion of putting Hamilton in as the lead runner to steal their way out of a double play situation. He might have even goaded them into making a fat pitch to Bruce.

    • @OhioJim: I actually thought Dusty made the right decision at the time. In retrospect, I guess it would have been nice to have BH in there to avoid the double play.

      Can’t criticize Dusty for that one, since I probably would have made the same decision he did.

      • @Chad Dotson:
        Good morning, Nation. It looks like the sun is going to come up again today.

        When Ludwick got on 1st in the 9th last night, I just assumed Hamilton was coming in to pinch run. Dusty has been using him pretty well in these situations and used him to pinch run for Ludwick before.

        With the previous game’s fireworks and the Pirates having just used Marte to pinch run and steal a base in the 8th, it just seemed obvious. Hearing that neither of you thought of it makes me wonder if I was a little harsh toward Dusty last night. At the time I thought Dusty had just given up and conceded the loss…. or maybe was asleep at the wheel.

        I believe this team CAN win the series this year. The pitching is capable of beating anybody any game. The offense has enough off nights to make the proposition questionable. The errors were a killer last night. As we saw in the first game of the series, one error at the wrong time can open the door. In that case it worked in the Reds favor and they scored 3 runs in the 9th.

        I have been looking at Dusty more critically lately, looking for signs that he will treat game situations with some tenacity. His approach seems to be don’t get too worked up about anything and that may serve this team well for the long haul of the season. But we are in playoff situations now and what I saw last night is a bit disconcerting.

        Dusty has made some good moves as of late – using Hamilton to pinch run late in tight games and bringing in Chapman in the 8th inning. Last night just felt like same old same old it’s just another game to me.

      • @Chad Dotson: Except Dusty is getting paid to make the right decision there, whereas we’re just fans commenting on the Internet! Our expectations have fallen so low that we can criticize a professional baseball manager for not making obvious moves as quickly as they should be made–like getting Hamilton in for Cozart Friday night–and let him slide on slightly less obvious moves that we might not come up with in the heat of the moment during a game. Our measuring stick for Dusty is what we would do, which is nuts.

        I, too, didn’t think to pinch run Hamilton for Ludwick to avoid the DP. But that doesn’t mean we “can’t criticize Dusty for that one”. He’s supposed to be better at this than we are.

  12. Homer and Votto did not team well today. Chad already covered the 2nd inning.

    I watched the game via live update on a cell phone, so I can’t comment on the errant pick off throw. According to the mlb.com game coverage, the error could just as well have been charged to Votto.

    In any case, Homer’s undoing in the 6th was mainly due to 7 straight balls to McCutcheon and Morneau. After McCutcheon walks, you need to hold him close enough to give Hanigan a chance if he runs, but you can’t get distracted from the main task of getting Mormeau out. Walking him on 4 straight balls, ugh. But maybe that wasn’t the cause of the loss of command, he did walk Burnett in the 5th, a very bad sign.

    • @pinson343: Votto was doing something funky on the pick off play. It looked to me that he wasn’t really set up like he normally does. I thought the throw looked very catchable or at least could/ should have been knocked down which still might have cost them 1 base but not 2.

    • @pinson343: Homer slipped badly (and fell actually) on ball 3 to McCutcheon. I thought he was poorly served by Hanigan and the bench that somebody didn’t come out and force him to take a minute or two to gather himself. George Grande said that Hanigan motioned to him but Homer “said” he was OK (I wasn’t looking at the screen at that exact moment or maybe the camera was on Hanigan just then).

      Then AFTER the errant throw (already 2-0 to Morneau), Price and the trainer finally came out. Homer was given a tongue depressor and took the better part of a minute getting the mud out of his spikes.

      I thought just another instance of half asleep at the wheel, day late and dollar short….

      • @OhioJim: Jim, thanks for the above statements. For some reason I feel a little better if I know more about how the Reds lost it, and none of this is in the video hilites.

        • @pinson343: I get frustrated some times because just as a guy that played a lot of ball through to the end of my teens and has watched and listened in the 45 years or since, I have a pretty good record of understanding when the game is on the line (based on comparing my thoughts to what happens).

          So, how do these guys that do baseball for a living seemingly often not sense the criticality of certain situations and events???
          I understand about the “Big 162″ but now they are down to the Bigger 8 (7 after tonight)

      • @OhioJim: Yes, yes yes! You’re 100%correct. Homer was visibly bothered/distracted. No psychoanalysis necessary–he should have gathered his thoughts and cleaned his cleats before things went bad. I was shouting at my screen “doesn’t he have a tongue depressor in his pocket? Come on guys, go talk to him and get this taken care of!”

  13. FrustratedRedsFan: “Duke / Ondrusek / Hannahan / Robinson. Four players who should not be sniffing playing time in this series that have made too much of a difference.”
    Duke/Ondrusek/Robinson are not good enough to make the postseason roster, so they should not be playing now.

    As for Hannahan, I don’t know why he’s on the roster in the first place.

  14. This year’s team is not going to break my heart. Most of us have known for a long time that this team is not ready for prime time. If it was, it wouldn’t have been playing as sloppily and uninspired the entire seadon and lost 4 out of 6 games to the cubs and brewers in a tight pennant chase. Last year’s Reds team brokenny heart. An awesome season ended in choking at home against the giants. No, this year’s team isn’t going to break my heart— if they lose the WC game, I’ll consider it lucky they made it that far.

  15. The main thing I’m taking from these 2 games is that home field advantage in a play in game against the Pirates is critical. Liriano and Burnett have pitched much better at home this season, and outpitched Latos and Bailey in this series.

    The Reds are only one game behind the Pirates, a win tomorrow and it’s tied again, and (almost ?) everyone here thinks the Reds at least have a chance to finish ahead of the Pirates.

    The Reds are also in good position to have the tie breaker advantage if they win tomorrow, as that would tie up the season series and the remaining 3 games are in Cincy.

  16. Choo’s injury might not be minor, he had surgery on that thumb. His sliding head first into first base was a serious mental error, which he admits.

  17. Game seems like a microcosm of the season, but even more frustrating because of the importance of the game. I have at times this season felt Baker made excellent decisions and at other times rationalized that he must know more than me. But lately? It”s been awful. My greatest frustration tonight is why would you start in centerfield Robinson, who likely will not be on the play-off roster instead of Hamilton, a guy who will be? Especially given Hamilton’s recent play. Makes no sense. I could go on . . . but what’s the point. I have the impression the decision-makers aren’t listening.

  18. Votto’s defensive regression this year is concerning going forward. The errors tonight seemed physical not mental so I’m not going to harp on them, but Bailey and Latos both came up a tad small these last two games. Well, here’s hoping we get good bronson today.

  19. The Reds have committed 74 errors so far this year compared to an MLB average of 87 (NL average is 90). If they’ve been sloppier than other teams in the field, it doesn’t show up in their error count.

    • @BenL: Total errors is interesting and over a body of work, important. The trouble is: they made 2 last night and it cost them the game. Often with stats, it’s what you did for me lately as opposed to having gone errorless in June.

      • @Johnu1: Certainly “what you did for me lately” drives the comments on blogs. It’s not a good measure of whether a team is good or bad, though. That’s the same logic that leads to all of the comments about how bad the offense is after every loss, even though the offense is #3 in the NL in run production (essentially tied for #2 with a team that plays a mile above sea level).

  20. I need to mention that on the overthrow to 1st base, the ball has to be caught. Bad throw, bad positioning, bad idea … bad move. The throw has to be caught. Votto did not catch the ball, and that’s his job.

  21. For me, these two games “broke the tie” on who should start if we face the Pirates in the WC game: Bailey. The pitch to Martin after Votto’s error was inexcusable–it was a much worse error than Votto’s–but he simply pitched better than Mat overall.

    As for the position players: I agree with the poster who said these games show how important it is that we have home field for that game since Liriano and Burnett are so much tougher at home. That said, wherever we play it would be a good idea to: 1) Not to let Robinson lead off, even if Choo is hurt. 2) Play Frazier. 3) Play Mesoraco if the pitcher is LH. (Think about it: if Bailey starts vs Liriano, Mes is going to be sitting thanks to Dusty’s “roles”.). And Bruce needs to focus intensely on how to hit Burnett, or have his bat glued to his shoulder and hope for 4 balls.

    Mes caught Arroyo effectively when Hanigan was hurt, plus Arroyo kind of calls his own game. Shouldn’t Mes start vs the LHP today, in this incredibly important game? (Also, day game after night game caught by Hani.)

    Last point: if Burnett starts the WC game against the Reds, it’s clear Dusty will start Hannahan over Frazier. Otherwise, on top of the 9000 other reasons Frazier should have started yesterday, getting more experience facing Burnett would have been another one. That’s the “Dusty Tax” in action: Hannahan will play in an elimination game instead of Frazier if Burnett starts it. (Or, having seen how well that worked out, Dusty will change his mind and Todd will have missed out on those “practice” AB’s.)

    • @Eric the Red: I’ve thought all along if the Reds were in the WC play in and the opponent was the Pirates, that Bailey was the guy. Conversely if it is the Cards (and it still could be), Latos is the guy. If it would happen to end up with as the Reds v. Nats in the WC game, well, I haven’t really thought about that.

      The one other unknown is Cueto. If he does well versus the Metz and is ready to go in the WC game, he could be the man. He’s not been seen by any potential WC opponent since June at the latest.

  22. I keep reading its all Dustys fault, but I didn’t see him making errors last night, giving up homeruns or hitting into numerous DP. It’s time to share the blame, our key players are not performing on a consistant basis and need to be held accountable, like making stupid plays of sliding head first into first base.

    • @dn4192: Well put. The Pirates gave away runs with walks and errors on Friday and the Reds won. Last night the tables turned the other way.

    • @dn4192:

      I keep reading its all Dustys fault…

      Your reading must be from another source other than this blog. I see numerous comments pointing out Bailey’s shortcomings, Votto’s shortcomings, Bruce’s shortcomings, Hanigan’s shortcomings, Hannahan’s shortcomings, Robinson’s shortcomings, Jacoby’s shortcomings, Castellini’s shortcomings, in addition to Dusty’s shortcomings. That’s hardly “ALL DUSTYS FAULT”. That’s just in topic. I also read comments from bloggers admitting they erred in their initial critique. I have read and heard numerous times about players admitting their shortcomings and desire to improve. What I have not read is any comment from Dusty admitting his shortcomings and desire to improve. What I have read is Dusty transferring blame and responsibility to his players and coaches, but never taking responsibility for shortcomings himself. What I have read and heard is Dusty taking credit for positive results, irregardless of any real contribution from Dusty.

  23. Setting aside the ongoing about Dusty, I think it’s fair (as observed above) that Dusty isn’t going to lose his job. He might step aside for health reasons, but that hasn’t been reported.

    What DOES need to happen with this team is a review and repair of the overall hitting philosophy.

    If one were to compare the Reds to the Cardinals, does ANY-body think the Birds have inherently more talent than the Reds do? Really?

    Matt Carpenter is better than Choo?
    Holliday is better than Votto?
    Craig is better than Bruce?
    Freese, better than Frazier?
    Descalso, better than Cozart?

    If St. Louis gets its rookie pitcher another year or so of experience, they will win 105 games because they HIT the ball often.

    Reds hitters look confused, clueless, overmatched, outcoached and amateurish on more nights a week than just a few.

    Getting 4 or 5 hits is what beats the Reds, no matter which pitcher they face. The games they win, the other team makes a mistake to allow it.

    Rarely does a Brook Jacoby team impress me and I don’t see that anybody has improved as a hitter under his watch.

    Burnett is a strikeout pitcher, but he should not be getting 10 or 12 in a game where the opponent SHOULD be bringing its energy and a scouting report.

    This team is a failure at the plate. That’s Baker’s fault because he hired the nimrod who claims to be the hitting coach.

    Now … for those who say the hitting coach can’t fix things to guys who won’t work with him — I have 2 words for that — wanna bet? Players listen to coaches. It’s their chemistry, their personality. They listen to their coaches. And they react to it.

    Jacoby is a failure.

    The Cardinals know how to hit and they do not have more talent than the Reds do.

    To say that the hitting coach has minimal effect is scooting over just to find and excuse to blame the manager. I do find it interesting that folks blame Dusty and let Jacoby off the hook. Get it right.

    • @Johnu1: To say that the hitting coach has minimal effect is scooting over just to find and excuse to blame the manager. I do find it interesting that folks blame Dusty and let Jacoby off the hook. Get it right.

      I ask you: who works for whom?

    • @Johnu1: It’s pretty clear Dusty’s hitting philosophy is being faithfully implemented by Jacoby–and that this is one area where Dusty and Jocketty seem to be in general agreement. So I don’t think a change in batting coach will change much.

      I’m not a big fan of these guys, but when you say nobody has improved as a hitter on their watch I have to defend them. Jay Bruce has clearly improved, especially vs LHP.

      Your post gives me a chance to pose a question I’ve had for awhile: does anyone know of any data on the downside of hitting into DPs because of a contact philosophy like the Cards have? In other words, they seem to make contact more/strike out less than other teams, especially with RISP. Which is good (for them). But that also leads them to hit into a lot of DPs that a more strikeout-prone team would avoid. Any data on how those things balance out? Thanks.

      • @Eric the Red: “It’s pretty clear Dusty’s hitting philosophy is being faithfully implemented by Jacoby–and that this is one area where Dusty and Jocketty seem to be in general agreement. So I don’t think a change in batting coach will change much.”

        Is it? Is the same philosophy the Cards used under Walt/LaRussa?

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Do you just like arguing? It’s clear from many many many statements that the team’s hitting philosophy is in synch with Dusty’s views. So getting rid if Jacoby will probably not change things. Even if you think you’ve scored some sort of point about what I said about Jocketty by referencing Cards teams from six years ago, it doesn’t change/contradict my point that replacing Jacoby alone probably won’t change the hitting philosophy of this team.

        • @Eric the Red: The key word in your reply is “probably.” What we DO know is that the Reds are not a good hitting team. Pretending that the hitting coach has little to do with that strikes me as bizarre. If replacing the hitting coach would be worth the risk, why not take the risk? The team can’t hit. The hitting coach we have is a product of that.

          Whether it’s up to Dusty is odd … hitting coaches would, by nature of their love of the game, want players to hit better, not listen to the manager on how to make them NOT hit better.

          The Reds can’t hit. “Probably” that’s not the fault of the coach. “Possibly,” it’s also not the fault of the beer vendor.

        • @Johnu1: The Reds have scored the third most runs in the National League, so I’m not sure how you “know” the Reds aren’t a good hitting team. I suppose in the sense that they don’t get hits every at bat or score ten runs every game you could say they aren’t good hitters. But when compared to other teams in the NL, they are a good hitting team, by objective determinations like runs, OBP etc. And they’ve scored the third most runs in the past 30 days.

        • @Johnu1: The OP was talking about changing the overall hitting philosophy. My only point was that the philosophy is Baker’s, so changing the batting coach isn’t likely to accomplish the OP’s goal. There may or may not be a million other reasons to replace Jacoby, but the philosophy is more deeply ingrained.

          Whether it’s coaches or talent, to my eyes the Reds are seriously deficient in adjusting their hitting game plan in any way to match the game situation/ump’s strike zone/pitches being thrown/etc. it would be nice to see us get better at this.

      • @Eric the Red: I think the hit-and-run would work better with a contact team, and the GIDP — yeah — is a risk. But hitting the ball up the middle is a way to reduce that. I don’t know that the Reds strike out that much more than other teams, but they do it in situations that seem to hurt the most — namely in the middle of the batting order. Metrics would answer that. I won’t look it up and I’m prepared to read the data. (Over the last 3 years, yadda yadda … which did not include last night, which was the most recent game I care about.)

        All I contend is that, given the records this year, obviously St. Louis is not MILES ahead of the Reds, but they had 6 rookie pitchers on their roster this year and all of them are getting better.

        The hitting there isn’t getting worse. I presume that rookie pitchers will improve and will eventually catch up to the more experienced Reds staff. The combination spells the future.

        Opposing pitchers are literally toying with the Reds lineup. The occasional mistake isn’t hurting them. (Cozart did not get 2 chances to make Burnett pay.)

        The next observation is that Cincy is winning, so what’s the problem? Good question. It’s a tough call but a well-pitched game is going to send Reds hitters in U-turns from the dugout to the plate and back to the dugout.

        Often on 3 pitches.

        I agree that Bruce has gotten better, maybe with help, maybe because he’s smart and learned to hit. Votto doesn’t need help. Phillips does. So does Frazier, Heisey, Mesoraco, Cozart and … well, Hannahan.

        • @Johnu1: Well pitched games always send a lot of batters back to the bench shaking their heads or cursing under their breath.

          “Votto doesn’t need help. Phillips does. So does Frazier, Heisey, Mesoraco, Cozart and …”

          The overall minor league body of work of these guys suggests that what we’ve seen from them at the MLB level is roughly what we should have expected to see at the MLB level. Frazier was actually on the verge/ in the process of being passed over by a next generation of players. Meso perhaps gets a little bit of a pass because he is a catcher and looked to have finally “turned a corner” at AA and AAA.

        • @OhioJim: Again, this is a reply based upon believing the status quo is going to continue to produce the same result — and we will never get past the discussion about Dusty and his pathetic lineups.

          If there isn’t any reason to have a coach to help hitters improve, then why do we have coaches?

        • @Johnu1: My response to this is that hitters should be pretty well developed by the time they get to the majors. It is the job of the MLB hitting coach to refine them and help them stay tweaked to the adjustments pitchers are making against them.

          It is not the job of the MLB hitting coach to teach them a basic approach to hitting. It is the job of the minor league development staff to teach hitting approach. It is the job of the front office to develop the organization’s hitting philosophy and put minor league coaches in place to teach it. It is also the job of the front office to understand who has major league capabilities and who doesn’t.

  24. It’s dreaming I know but it would be great to see Mes get the start today. With Bronson & Johnny being veteran pitchers, doesn’t it really matter much who catches either? I love Hani but we need all the firepower we can get, IMO.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I agree with this. Mesoraco is the team’s single best hitter against LHP. He should be batting cleanup today. Todd Frazier would also be a better choice in cleanup. Based on wRC+, Brandon Philips is the Reds’ seventh best hitter against LHP.

  25. Here’s the full lineup:

    1. Billy Hamilton (S) CF
    2. Chris Heisey (R) LF
    3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
    4. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
    5. Jay Bruce (L) RF
    6. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
    7. Zack Cozart (R) SS
    8. Ryan Hanigan (R) C
    9. Bronson Arroyo (R) P

  26. It’s really disappointing Mesoraco isn’t in there. By the simple metric of “put the team in the best position to win,” IMHO this decision once again shows Dusty coming up short before the first pitch is even thrown. (Caveat: we have no way of knowing if there’s something physically wrong with Mesoraco that limits his availability.)

    • @Eric the Red: My opinion is that the bigger error in personnel selection is not starting Cueto over Arroyo, assuming that Cueto is available.

      Then again if you’ve already written off winning the division, as I said elsewhere, Cueto would be a real pocket ace to drop on someone sight unseen since June in the WC game.

      • @OhioJim: Interesting thought. I just don’t know what to expect from Cueto, so it’s harder for me to say that’s a bigger mistake. Given the available information, not starting Mesoraco is definitely a mistake.

        In any event, isn’t it sad that with 7 games left in the season we have multiple candidates for “decisions that hurt our chances of winning” before the first pitch is thrown or bunt sign is given?

        To your point about Cueto: if he pitches well vs the Mets and stays healthy, he’s potentially an interesting surprise to drop on the Pirates next weekend, to help us set the rotation for the tiebreaker vs Cardinals and/or WC game.

        • @OhioJim: I like the gambling spirit!

          A healthy, not rusty, Cueto is definitely our best pitcher–he seems to have that extra something Latos and Bailey don’t have yet that makes him a true ace. (His record with the bases loaded the past few years is either insane luck or a sign of a pitcher with True Grit.). I just don’t know if that Cueto is available.

        • @OhioJim: To simplify a bit, if he is healthy and available, Cueto is my first pick for any elimination game the Reds face.

      • @OhioJim: My initial reaction when Cueto came off the D/L and had a successful outing against the Astros, was that he should be sloted for 5th day (which would be toady against the Bucos). That rotation would have him scheduled to follow Lato and Bailey in the post season, if he continues to pitch healthy and effectively. Giving Cueto the extra day available from the scheduled off days, does not alter his availablility for the post season rotation and could prove beneficial to his short-term health. He can still pitch in the 3rd game of the NLDS (if the Reds make it that far) by holding him back a day. Under no circumstances could he be available for the WC playing game unless he skipped a start and he needs the work to get back in top form for the playoffs.

  27. Interesting interview with Davey Johnson over at MLB.com. Two interesting points: 1) He talks about how the Nats bench was underperforming, and seems to take some of the blame for not playing the bench guys enough. (Dusty is certainly good at this; I don’t think right now is the time for it, but he certainly does make a point of trying to keep his reserves sharp.). 2) He says he’s planning to Manage again. For those worried about what would come after Dusty, don’t you think DJ might not be a bad choice?

    (Personally, I wish last year’s playoff debacle had led the team to move on from Dusty to Terry Francona. Just look at what he’s done with Cleveland.)

  28. I’m ok with Arroyo getting the start today because I believe any of the 6 starters the Reds have used this season have better numbers than Locke, who has been trending down in quality over the last few starts while Bronson’s been improving (save for being the starter in a few heartbreaking losses).

    Not having Mesoraco or Choo starting (be it injury, risk of injury, or managerial decision) definitely stinks, and the silliness in the lineup is just expected at this point. I think Hamilton/Votto/Bruce/Mesoraco/Phillips/Cozart/Frazier/Arroyo would be a pretty lineup on a day like this but I’ve given up on that dream.

  29. I’m afraid we had a strong foreshadowing of things to come in 2014 from last night’s game with Robinson and Phillips hitting in the top-of-the-order going 1-7 with 1 BB & 3 SO. With Choo gone, the options are simply not good and today’s game with Hamilton and Heisey hitting in the top-of-the-order does not bode much better. The options just aren’t available for either the #1 or #2 slot with Choo gone.

  30. Philly just hired R Sandberg on FT-Perm. The Reds need to go out and get a similar manager ASAP and get out from underneath Baker once and for all.

    Yes, Reds fans, Dusty is going to break your hearts. Not too sure when (1 and done)? That 2 out single off of a no name reliever (Duke) in the bottom of the 6th broke the Reds spirit and once again showed Dusty’s complete ineptitude.

  31. Great day for the Reds and the Bengals. Now if the Brewers can take care of the Cards tonight, it will be even better.

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