2013 Postseason / 2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: The End.

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Pittsburgh 6
Cincinnati 2

W: F. Liriano (1-0)
L: J. Cueto (0-1)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier came to play tonight. Ludwick went 3-4 with two doubles. Frazier had a double and made two very nice defensive plays. Frazier also very nearly hit a homer that would have put the Reds up 4-3, but it went a few feet foul.

–In perhaps his final at-bat as a Red, Shin-Soo Choo homered to right.

–The season is over. That’s a positive, or at least it seems like a positive right now.

NEGATIVES
–Three times tonight, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips — this team’s #3 and #4 hitters — came to the plate with runners on base. All three times, they each had terrible at-bats. Not the best night for these two.

Votto and BP also misplayed balls in the field. Phillips’ botched grounder was particularly painful, as they couldn’t get a double play and a run scored.

–Johnny Cueto, quite simply, was not good. Cueto pitched three and a third, gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk.

–Sean Marshall entered the game in the fourth inning and was unable to retire a single batter. He allowed a hit and two walks.

–In a do-or-die game, Logan Ondrusek threw more pitches than anyone other than Cueto. There are no circumstances under which Logan Ondrusek — who seems like the greatest guy in the world — should ever set foot on the field in a game like this.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
I told you so. I told you not to get emotionally invested, because this team was going to break your hearts. And I was right.

But as the game approached, I felt myself getting hopeful. This is my team. I really wanted a win tonight.

In the end, I’m not bothered like I was by last season’s collapse. Heck, I’m not even disappointed. I was prepared for this. This team just didn’t have what it takes. I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised, but if you don’t expect anything, you won’t be let down.

–The Reds lose their last six games of the season, including four straight to their closest competitors, the Pirates. Talk about a season ending with a THUD. Good job, good effort.

–It was clear very early that Cueto just didn’t have it, and the Pittsburgh crowd really appeared to get into his head. I’m not sure there’s any justification for leaving Cueto in to surrender four runs in a must-win game. Get him out of there at the first sign of trouble.

As we said on the last podcast, Dusty Baker should have had Mike Leake or Homer Bailey warming up in the first inning, getting loose and ready in case they were needed.

–I don’t know if Cueto was really rattled by the crowd rhythmically chanting his name, but he certainly looked like it. When Cueto was standing on the mound, listening to that chanting, and then dropped the ball…well, that appeared to be an omen. A Russell Martin homer followed in short order, giving the Bucs a 2-0 lead, but the game felt like it was over at that point.

Also, Cueto began pitching from the stretch early in the game, even with bases empty. I hope we get an explanation for why he did that. Perhaps he thought he could get better command that way, but it was really bizarre.

–It was strange to see Marshall pitching in the fourth, but I was glad to see Dusty do that. Seems like something he wouldn’t have considered. (Of course, I would have already had Leake or Bailey in the game, but still, that’s some outside the box thinking by Baker.) No, it didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad decision.

–Logan Ondrusek pitched. Alfredo Simon pitched. Manny Parra pitched. Aroldis Chapman hasn’t pitched since last Tuesday. The big lefty was completely wasted this year.

–Marlon Byrd homered for the Pirates. It remains inexplicable that the Reds didn’t claim Byrd off waivers late in the season, if only to prevent the Pirates from claiming him.

–After the game, Brandon Phillips: “We choked. We did. I don’t care about how my teammates feel about what I’m saying right now, because it’s the truth.”

–The Reds have made the playoffs three times in four years. They have failed to advance in the playoffs three times in four years. I’m sure we’ll discuss the reasons why that’s the case, but I have an idea.

Either way, I know you are all clamoring for Dusty Baker to be fired. I just don’t see any way that is going to happen.

–Congratulations to the Pirates. They definitely deserve to be in the National League Division Series. They’ve now won more playoff games at home than the Reds have since 1995.

–On a personal note, it has been a good run, and you guys have made this dumb little site a lot of fun. Thanks, gang.

154 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: The End.

  1. Bottom line is (and I been saying this all season) Dusty will take a very talented group of players and get them to the playoffs. Thats it. Thats all. This team showed ZERO life the last month of the season when it really mattered. You can’t replace or fire the players, so its now time to recycle Crusty ole Dusty to another up and coming future contender. WJ needs to find the next big thing and next year is OUR year! GO REDS!

    • @hydeman: I would say a talented group of players got to the playoffs because they’re talented. I’m almost willing to say they made it in spite of Baker. I used to be on board with the lazy conventional wisdom that Baker makes infuriating day-to-day decisions (lineups, bullpen management, etc.) but that the “good vibes” brought to the clubhouse make up for those tactical blunders.

      Having watched this entire year, I have come to believe that the pitching changes and batting orders are the least of his flaws; they are just the most noticeable. Pops’ management style has led to complacency, lack of accountability and an assortment of bad habits. His recent comments on “urgency” explain a lot about why this team underachieved in 2013.

  2. First of all, thanks to editors here for running the site, its fun, informative, and interesting. Thanks!

    This team was not pretty to watch, saying that, I have to say thanks for a 90-win season, a playoff apperence, and some good times.

    Unfortunately, this team was just not good enough, after a good april and a great May, they treaded water for the rest of the season and could never get over the hump again. Last nights game was a microcosom of the season at large.

    Opportunities lost.

  3. You know what I realized about Twitter last night? Twitter gives all the stupid people no one listens to in real life, a chance to be heard. I de-twittered all baseball last night because the stupid overwhelms the good.

    • @Kurt Frost: Twitter in general is stupid. I have never been on it and never plan to. I don’t even understand it, to be honest. What is a hashtag or whatever?

      Basically, I don’t need to be up to date on every minute detail of my friends’ lives or the lives of celebrities. I don’t really care what you had for lunch. I don’t need to know when you’re in the bathroom. It’s not worth knowing that a bird just landed on your windowsill.

      Just…. Seriously, who needs that kind of constant validation? If you got something to share, call me, shoot me a text, email me, let’s meet up to talk about it. Otherwise, it’s probably not something that should concern me or something I should know about.

      Sorry, didn’t mean to go on a rant, but to reiterate: Twitter is stupid.

      • @CI3J: Subject for your post should be “Old Man Yells At Cloud”

        Twitter is whatever you want it to be. You choose who you want to follow. If someone you follow becomes obnoxious, then you stop following them.

      • @CI3J: While I agree Twitter is stupid (never been on it) I understand why it exists.

        The idea was a great one. People talk and use hashtags, which are basically data aggregators. If we wanted to bash Dusty, we could just tweet #FireDusty with a message and it would aggregate all posts with that hashtag and display them to you and everyone else interested in #FireDusty.

        Basically, it was conceived as an idea to have any type of internet forum all rolled into one. We could talk Reds, Bengals, and Fly Fishing all in one spot using hashtags.

        However, the kids (and Hollywood) got ahold of it and made it all about a bird landing on the windowsill, as you stated, which completely ruined it. By the time I knew enouhg about it, it was too late.

  4. Some are talking about next season. First, I think you have to “take care of the pitchers contracts, specifically Bronson/Latos/Bailey. Granted, while I don’t think Arroyo will come back, I’m not going to say so until he is gone. And, if the Reds come back with all 3, we would essentially have no money but we would have at least 6 major league ready starting pitchers; trade bait? If we trade someone, remember, then someone has to go. For example, if we trade for a LF, then what about Ludwick. If we trade for a SS, then what about Cozart? It would be similar if we bring in a FA, also.

    I could see us trading BP and his contract away. But, the question being, “Who steps in?” It’s been talked of Rodriguez. Is he ready? I mean, even if we let BP retire with the Reds, few if any would ever be able to step into that position and make people forget about BP. So, first, who goes in there/are they ready? And, second, as long as we spend the money elsewhere, I can go with that. I hate to see BP go, but he’s been about himself long enough. I didn’t care for all the show last season. It was all a show to get a contract extension, anyhow. You haven’t heard of so much of it this season, have you? And, BP would have some trade value now coming off a 100 RBI season.

    Reds need to make a commitment at catcher. But, as much as either one catches (another problem of Baker), neither one really has any time to get going). Most ideal IMO, Devin starts and Hanigan accepts the 2nd string role, catching maybe 1 day per week. But, if Baker comes back, we will have another platoon.

    I do believe Votto needs to adjust his hitting approach a bit. The book is out on him. He will let several pitches go down the middle. So, you can get 2 strikes on him early. After that, you would have 3 or even 4 pitches to either get Votto to chase a bad one, get a call on a corner, or Votto gets a walk. Any of the three happens, at least this season, that meant at least a third of the PA that Votto pretty much didn’t do much, at least no much for someone in the 3 hole, as in driving in runs (odds are a walk or strikeout isn’t going to drive a run in, but a hit or even a sacrifice fly could). If we are going to glorify him for his OBP, let’s bat him in the 1-2 holes.

    But, above all, if Baker comes back, nothing is going to change. We will still have the same environment we had the last several years. Glad to see teams like the Pirates finding a manager who can develop young players and motivate his players.

    • @steveschoen: While I completely disagree with your analysis of Votto, I agree 100% with your final statement. He needs to bat 2nd. Assuming Hamilton is a major-league hitter (which is a big assumption at this point, a lineup like

      Hamilton (S)
      Votto (L)
      Bruce (L)
      Mesoraco (R)
      Ludwick (R)
      Phillips (R)
      Frazier (R)
      Cozart (R)

      Could be pretty dangerous. If Choo was re-signed, against RHP we could go

      Hamilton
      Votto
      Choo
      Bruce
      Mesoraco
      Phillips
      Frazier
      Cozart

      And against lefties we could go

      Hamilton
      Votto
      Mesoraco
      Bruce
      Phillips
      Frazier
      Choo
      Cozart

      This is a pipe dream, as many players are batting outside Dusty’s established roles. Oh well!

      • @prjeter: so you want to bat 2nd in lineup Votto, who even in a “down” year, was still at a minimum teams 2nd best power hitter in terms of HR(2nd on team) and 3rd in 2B(with 30), let alone slugging %(1st on team).

        i like “out of the box” thinking(ala Choo to leadoff) but i rather figure out how to get a solid #2 hitter and relatively double chances of someone being on-base in front of votto to leverage his power in scoring runs.

    • I do believe Votto needs to adjust his hitting approach a bit.

      Whoa. The audacity. ;) No, actually, I’m serious.

    • @steveschoen: “I could see us trading BP and his contract away. But, the question being, “Who steps in?” ”

      Depends what trade was for, say for a CRAZY theoritcal example Reds traded BP and Champan for a #4 hitter who plays SS, say Troy Tulowitzki(maybe Colorado thinks Tulo is a bad contract). Cozart could be moved to 2B, rigtht? And i think most everyone would be on board with that.

      I understand the point you are trying to make but if BP was traded, then Reds would make a corresponding second move to fill the gap.

      as stated in other comments, i dont think BP will be traded and not only because of his contract/age. He is popular player with fans, current mgmt and ownership.

  5. Note to anyone who would like to post something like “the Reds should trade Brandon Phillips this offseason”:

    Save your keystrokes. He is UNTRADABLE. He will be a 33 year old Second Baseman (a position notorious for not aging well) who is coming off by his worst season since he was a young Cleveland Indian. The kicker is he is still owed $50 million over the next four years. The most you could get is someone else’s bad contract.

    BP is still an excellent defender. Our best play is to hope a change in coaching and management can coax some improvement in his batting approach and get him back to a 3-4 WAR player.

    • @down with dusty: @down with dusty:

      Note to anyone who would like to post something like “the Reds should trade Brandon Phillips this offseason”:

      Save your keystrokes. He is UNTRADABLE. He will be a 33 year old Second Baseman (a position notorious for not aging well) who is coming off by his worst season since he was a young Cleveland Indian. The kicker is he is still owed $50 million over the next four years. The most you could get is someone else’s bad contract.

      BP is still an excellent defender. Our best play is to hope a change in coaching and management can coax some improvement in his batting approach and get him back to a 3-4 WAR player.

      What about swag and 100 RBI?

  6. Well, last night was heart breaking.. I am sad 2013 is over, however, I got good news. We play baseball (spring training) just around the corner and I cant wait. Now that we are out of the playoffs lets get the playoffs done & gone and bring on spring training :P I believe we can win 92 next year. I feel a winning season coming on! Cant wait:) Go REDS!!!

    laus Deo

    • @laus Deo: I think I will approach 2014 as a year when the Reds could put together a team that could possibly contend.

      That’s different from the past year when I thought they only way they could fail was to beat themselves.

  7. Saying this team “broke our hearts” is pretty misleading, if you ask me.

    To me, heartbreak implies being so close to something and then just missing out. For example, Game 6 in the NBA finals this year (the one where Allen hit that 3) was heartbreaking for the Spurs. The playoffs last year was heartbreaking for the Reds.

    This year? This year, the Reds just lost. There was nothing heartbreaking about it. If you think so, if every single time your team loses your heart gets broken, then perhaps following sports isn’t your thing after all.

    • @CI3J: My feelings range from disappointment to being insulted … somewhere in between … now, it’s just resignation. I think I felt worse about 1995 than anything this team has squandered lately.

  8. There is no doubt that this 2013 Reds team has loads of young talented players but it lacks the most important ingredient that most successful post season teams have, a no-nonsense manager. Players LOVE Dusty and I can’t say I blame them, he “has their back”, he’s “played the game”, he “understands the player” and because of this he doesn’t hold them accountable and doesn’t get the most out of them. They lack mental toughness in clutch situations. His ability to convey a sense of urgency is non-existent. He is loyal to his players (and coaches) to a fault. His lineup and in-game decisions are confusing and catered to what is best for the players not the TEAM. So will the Reds (Bob C.) save the Reds by dumping Dusty and possible Walt as well. Millions of fans can’t all be wrong, sports writers (local and national) can’t all be wrong, and broadcasters (with the guts to voice their opinion) can’t all be wrong Mr. C. Dusty and this group has gotten too comfortable for far too long. This organization is in dire need and long overdue for a change in leadership. My 2 cents, I said the same thing last year and 4 days later they signed Dusty to 2 more years…still shaking my head over that one.

    • @Benchwarmer: ” will the Reds (Bob C.) save the Reds by dumping … possible Walt as well”

      Dusty Baker was originally signed to his first deal before Jocketty joined the organization. Yes, Jocketty has been the GM when Dusty has had contract extensions, but we don’t know how those conversations in the owner’s box went.

      I’m not in favor of any plan to “dump” Jocketty. I think he’s done a good job overall so far of mixing players from within the organization and acquiring others from outside the organization within the team’s budget constraints.

      • @Benchwarmer: ” will the Reds (Bob C.) save the Reds by dumping … possible Walt as well”

        Dusty Baker was originally signed to his first deal before Jocketty joined the organization. Yes, Jocketty has been the GM when Dusty has had contract extensions, but we don’t know how those conversations in the owner’s box went.

        I’m not in favor of any plan to “dump” Jocketty. I think he’s done a good job overall so far of mixing players from within the organization and acquiring others from outside the organization within the team’s budget constraints.

        And Jocketty bears no responsibility for the effects of attrition and entropy that befell this team this year?

  9. Until the Reds front office addresses the anemic hitting that this outfield throws out there day after day … doesn’t matter if the cornfield in Iowa open up and produce another Moonlight Graham. The dugout staff needs to be admonished for this. And generally replaced.
    I wonder if anybody actually reads a scouting report on some of the mediocre pitchers who stand this team on its ear.

  10. Editors: You guys rock. Thanks for all you do. If you guys want some help with data/analysis over the off-season, let me know. Always happy to help. (Background: BA-Mathematics, MBA-Finance)

    Serious Question/Comment 1: Does ESPN (since RLN is an affiliate) give you guys any money for infrastructure? It seems silly that they would have links to the site from ESPN.com and allow their name and logo to be used but not support the back-end to make sure the site opperates w/o interruption.

    Serious Question/Comment 2: I would love to donate some money for upgraded equipment for next year to help out the server outage issues the site has under heavy loads. Maybe you guys could start a “kickstarter” site where RLN faithful could help donate for extra servers or increased bandwidth or whatever would fix the problem.

    If that got set up, I’d be first in line to donate!

    Thanks again!

    • @prjeter: Amen to this. I would be more than willing to help out a little bit financially. Goodness knows that this site is worth it!

  11. I just watched Dusty’s postgame interview. Not once did he take any semblance of the blame. “They out pitched us and out hit us”…”we got outplayed big time!” How about “they out coached us” or “I got to do a better job at getting these guys ready to play” or “I’ll take the blame”. Are you listening Phillips, Votto, Cueto, Bruce, Champman, etc.? How does the weight of that bus feel? He’s a player’s coach except when it comes to taking or sharing the blame. Time is up Dusty, we’ve put up with your tired act for too long.

    • @Benchwarmer: They should take the blame. Why wouldn’t they? BP and Votto in particular may as well have not shown up. How CAN you blame Dusty for this team’s inability to prepare themselves, be in the moment, and produce? Maybe we should look at the hitting coach Jacoby and say WTF are you trying to do with these guys? Where is your mindset going to the plate? What are you looking for? How are you preparing? Last night looked like the Reds were the team that hadn’t been to the playoffs in 20 years. And I think a lot of misplaced blame falls on Dusty, when in fact, it should be placed on the players and their lack of passion and fire to WANT to win.

      Am I saying Dusty does no wrong? No I am not. What I’m saying is look where this team has come (3 post season appearances in 4 years). I am certainly not content with this, but last night was one of the most lifeless, uninspiring performances on the baseball field that I’ve ever seen. And I think that blame rests on the players, because they’ve looked like that for a week!

  12. Well BC certainly had a bulls-eye view last night of the professional baseball team he has brought to Cincinnati. I hope he is pleased with his efforts and the efforts of the individuals he personally hired. The fans who buy the tickets and concessions are certainly NOT happy. The fans who purchase the team merchandice, parking, meals and hotel rooms are certainly NOT happy. The fans who religiously watch the televised games and listen to the radio broadcast games (making the Reds viewership numbers enviable throughout MLB) are certainly NOT happy. Attendance at games has made significant increases for the past 2 seasons. It takes a long time to get those attendance numbers up after fans have migrated away from GABP, but the attendance can be lost almost immediately.

    BC personally hired Dusty and later WJ. The process of hiring the manager before the general manager was a pure bonehead move and counter-productive to an ongoing business relationship. By persoanlly hiring both Dusty and WJ, BC is also personally responsible for each and every decision they make.

    WJ shells out $2.3MM to Ondrusek for 2 guaranteed years and then promtly cuts him from the major league roster and demots him to AA. WJ shells out $21MM to Broxton for 3 guaranteed years as the Reds closer then promptly moves Chapman back into the closer roll (again), negating the need for Broxton. WJ shells out multiple guaranteed contracts every year to less than marginal major league veteran rejects who perform well below minimal replacement value. WJ shells out $200MM+ to Votto for 10 guaranteed years then sits back and watches as the manager, trainers and medical staff mishandle a significant knee injury into a possible career impacting fiasco. WJ sits back and watches as Dusty knowingly and repeatedly sends injured pitchers to the mound unnecessarily and then aggravating their injuries. WJ shells out $73MM for 5 guaranteed years to BP, then sits back and watches as BP runs amok and complains how he was unjustly treated by accepting the contract.

    Dusty has proven completely incompentent (again for the 3rd time) in managing a talented, veteran team past the player’s ability to cover for his inadequacies as a manager.

    So here we are after the 2013 season when the Reds went all-in with the one-year rental of Choo and the gross over-pay for Broxton and the cancellation (again) of the stated intent and plan to convert Chapman to a starter, only to witness, along with BC and his birds-eye view, of the complete team collapse. So what do you do now BC?

    • @Shchi Cossack:
      Excellent question(s) Cossack.

      They have a few weeks to think about it. Unlike last year, I hope they chew on it for awhile and rush headlong into a questionable decision.

      • @Shchi Cossack:Excellent question(s) Cossack.They have a few weeks to think about it. Unlike last year, I hope they chew on it for awhile and rush headlong into a questionable decision.

        and ‘not’ rush that is.

  13. Thanks to the editors and commenters for a season full of good insights about our favorite team.

    There’s a difference between watching an 85-win team (on paper) get to 90 wins and watching a 95-win team (on paper) get to 90 wins. The Reds did pretty well this year, but every single Reds fan I know, from all different walks of life, seemed to say the same thing about this year’s Reds: they weren’t very much fun to watch, even though they got to 90 wins.

    I think that’s because a decent team that overachieves plays with a ton of energy and heart, and a great team that underachieves plays flat. That was our Reds this year.

    When Ryan Ludwick was out, and Dusty didn’t have an every day LF, he could have started every game against a RH pitcher with:

    Choo
    Paul
    Votto
    Bruce
    Phillips

    If switches had to be made, they could be made later. Instead, night after night, against RH starters, we saw:

    Choo
    Cozart
    Votto
    Phillips
    Bruce

    I bring this up only because I think it’s a metaphor for how Dusty ran this team. He put a governor on them. He would not let them be great, he moderated them, and took the energy out.

    I hope the Reds do the right thing and let him go.

    • @al: It sure seems Dusty likes managing from a “script” and from afar get the impression, he gets uncomfortable diverging from his “script” unless he is forced to or has noodled it around in his mind with others after a lengthy time.

      I think how hard it must for Walt to trade/sign players to improve the team and fit the script for Dusty, ie CF/SS need to be leadoff hitter, do not stack LH hitters, closers must close in 9th with 3 runs or less of a lead.

      Sometimes Walt pulls it off, ie Choo for CF/Leadoff, sometimes not, Ludwick/Broxton(2013)/Madson(2012).

  14. I have to chuckle about the number of posts sayig this or that player should be moved. Other than a handful of pitchers the only truly marketable trade chips the Reds have from the major league roster are Hamilton, Mesoraco and Bruce. No one touches Votto or Phillips with the contracts they have and who is going to take on Ludwick’s 7 million dollar contract? Might find some interest in Cozart or Frazier but the return would not be much. The team you saw yesterday is likely to be the team you see next year minus Choo who finished the year as the team’s best player.

    And for those who think Votto gets unfairly criticized don’t think for a second the Reds aren’t wishing they hadn’t given him a 10 year contract extension.

    • @robby: How could you not include any of the starting pitching staff in your marketable pieces? Any one of Cueto, Latos, or Bailey are their most valuable trade piece…

      I don’t think Votto’s year makes the Reds change their view regarding the contract. If this was the down year…they’re feeling pretty good. I wouldn’t have given him the contract, but I don’t see why this season would change opinions either. Votto was a year out from two knee surgeries, and showed he doesn’t need to have full power to be an impact player…

  15. Trade BP to Atlanta for SP Julio Teheran and OF Jason Heyward. Then trade Heyward to SD for Jedd Gyorko. reds don’t need another LH bat. Gyorko to play 2B or 3B. Teheran gives you insurance on Bailey not signing an extension this winter. Give Bailey a certain date to sign by this winter(Dec. 15) or be traded. That could bring a nice RH bat in return.
    Trade Ludwick. We don’t need a #4 power bat turning into a singles hitter. That has already happened to the Reds #3 hitter.
    Chapman to the rotation. Chapman as a closer should not be mentioned again in Reds camp. If Chapman wants to remain a closer, trade him.
    Choo? Re-sign him if possible.
    Don’t blow up the team, a la the Florida Marlins. But blow up this offense and rebuild it. Rebuild it with the cornerstones of Votto, Bruce, Mes and Cozart. Now it will be up to WJ and Big Bob to go get the other four and getting Choo to sign would be a good start.
    The bench, just start over there. Frazier and Hanigan get spots, but go find 3 more. Maybe XPaul should go on that list too.
    The Reds need to find 4 position starters in CF, LF, 3B and 2B and two bench players. They may already have a couple of them on their roster, but they will need to go out and find a few good offensive players.
    The Reds have options, but standing pat on this offense and on their manager, should never ever be one of those options.

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