Titanic Struggle Recap

According to form

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds  (2-6)
 5  10  1
St. Louis Cardinals  (5-3)  7  13  0
W: Lynn (2-0)   L:  Ondrusek (0-1)  S: Rosenthal (3)
Box Score   |   Play-by-Play    |    Photos   |    Depth Chart    |    FanGraphs Win Probability

The Good

Devin Mesoraco returned to the starting lineup and had two doubles. Ryan Ludwick had a couple RBI without a hit. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce each had a couple of hits.

The Bad

Homer Bailey had a second game where he wasn’t sharp, giving up four runs, all in the second inning. He hasn’t so far been the same pitcher that shut the Cardinals out twice in September last year. That said, the Reds were leading when he left the game. The bullpen gave up three runs. If the FBI can spare a couple agents, they should send out a search party for Sam LeCure. The Reds leadoff hitter is batting .091/.130/.136. He should be moved down in the lineup.

Not so random thoughts …

The Cardinals are better than the Reds. There’s no getting around that. Every analyst before the season told us the Cardinals were better. Many of them ranked the Cardinals the best team in all of baseball. I warned repeatedly that the Reds front office appeared satisfied putting a team together that would be competitive for a wild card spot, not one that could challenge the Cardinals. Batting an unproven rookie in the lead-off spot is not something a team that is serious about playing for a division championship does.

The Cardinals are a better hitting team, with a deeper lineup. They have solid starters with a couple excellent pitchers at the top of their rotation. Their bullpen is great. They were seven games better than the Reds last year and the Reds lost their second best hitter and didn’t do anything to replace him or improve the team much otherwise. Then throw in a rash of injuries to the bullpen, Devin Mesoraco and Mat Latos.

It’s early, to be sure. But it’s also hard to argue the games against St. Louis aren’t breaking according to form. The gap between the two teams is showing up decisively in head-to-head match-ups. And unfortunately, the depleted Reds squad has played the Cardinals a lot at the start of this season. Of course, they also lost 2 of 3 to the Mets.

If you want a silver lining, the margin of victory in most of the games between the two teams has been scored off of Reds pitchers that won’t be taking the mound much once everyone gets healthy. And pretty soon, the Reds will be playing other teams.

Whether the Reds can compete for a wild card spot remains to be seen. There are 154 more games left to determine that.

71 thoughts on “According to form

    • I agree. Ondrucek is horrible but we need our real bullpen to get healthy. Its been a rough start but this team has never been a high scoring offense. I feel if Votto doesn’t start showing some power… clutch clutch clutch… we are in trouble. I know this site treats him like a god, but its time for the old Votto before the ridiculous contract !

    • In my opinion Ondrusek will be the last arm used in the bullpen once it is back to full strength. With all the injuries they really don’t have too many other options than to throw him. Goes from the least used to possibly the 3rd or 4th best arm in the pen.

      He better step it up though or he will be the odd man out and Christiani might take his spot once the relief starts coming back.

  1. “the Reds front office appeared satisfied putting a team together that would be competitive for a wild card spot”

    Even that’s not clear.

    Cincy sports in a nutshell though. “Satisfied”.

  2. The depressing part is that the Cards aren’t really playing that well. There have been 2 lock down pitching duels and the Red won one of them. In the other three losses the Reds should have been right there to win and simply did not execute either offensively or defensively or on the mound. The issues have been decided as much or more by what the Reds haven’t done with opportunity than as what the Cards have (failure to make a routine catch in the outfield and end an inning scoreless is as much a missed opportunity as not scoring the man from third with less than 2 outs).

    It’s this whatever can go wrong has thing that has me worried for the Reds prospects this year.

    • This team lacks focus and desire. Showed it last year and are already showing it again this year. And folks, as a result this show might very well be over even before it actually gets started due to the Red’s genuine inability to show anything close to sound baseball.

      – .

  3. That’s a brutal analysis, but spot on. I’m not so sure I was prepared for the Reds to only be competing for a wild card slot at this point, but you really can’t argue otherwise.

  4. Steve, if your man could hold leads of 3-0 and 4-0 the series would be 3-2 Reds. Think about that for a moment. Shouldn’t $100M get you something – because after 2 starts, the Reds have gotten zilch.

    • Valid criticism … the Reds have score their highest 2 game run totals for Bailey, and have lost them both.

      And while I would agree that Bailey has been quite terrible this year to start, that could be said of a lot of Reds players. W/ the health of Latos up in the air right now; I think this team is in for a very long season.

    • I don’t get the gratuitous mention of his contract extension (which hasn’t started) although I suppose it’s to be expected. Yes, let’s judge the wisdom of a five-year deal (which hasn’t started yet) on two starts. Homer missed over two weeks of spring training and isn’t sharp yet. The Cardinals are good, not much margin for error.

      • I wasn’t a fan of the extension. I honestly thought they should keep him for this year and if he had a good season, extend him a qualifying offer, and if he chose to walk say “Thank you very much. Good luck in the future… except when you play us.”

        That said, Reds’ fans are ridiculous about bringing up contracts. Baseball players make a lot of money and large contracts are part of the game. Reds’ fans are always bitching about contracts. They bitch when the Reds don’t spend money to keep players, and they bitch when the Reds do spend money to keep players or bring in new ones. The constant pointing at contracts is getting really old and quite frankly, annoying.

    • What does $100 million have to do with anything? Did it come from your pocket? Did you see Justin Verlander’s beginning to 2013? Perhaps you saw Cliff Lee (or was it Hamels?) give up 7ER on opening day. Even good pitchers struggle. Lance Lynn has been just as bad as Bailey in the two games and the Cardinals are high on him, too.

      And as the write-up said, Homer left the game with the lead.

      • The issue is there is only so much money in the pot for player salaries. So, yes it does actually matter. Homer will be okay and I would look for him to improve on last years numbers. I do at this point; put him behind Cueto, Latos, Cingrani in the rotation and my confidence level in him is equal to Leake.

        • I certainly wouldn’t put him behind Cingrani. Tony has lots of promise in a small sample size and, remember, didn’t look good in his last start either. I think that Steve and JDX19 have it right, and that Homer will fine. Not as sure about the team as a whole–early days, yes, but what we are seeing was predictable (for a pessimist, anyway), and losing habits and desperation can be very hard to counter once they have momentum.

        • CHarlotte, I understand the the “money doesnt grow on trees argument,” but it falls apart when you consider that there aren’t always better options. Which pitcher would Reds have signed this year with that money? if they bank the money for next year, there’s no guarantee there will be a single good pitcher on the market.

          So you either pay for someone you know is going to be solid (you can’t logically argue he isn’t solid), or save your money and hope for something better.

          Personally, I’m glad they didn’t just “hope!”

        • Charlotte, are you an accountant? because like myself, you seem to think like one. Yes. the pot of money is not unlimited – so when you open the pot of gold ($$), you better hit paydirt – and as far as I am concerned – Homer hasn’t shown anything besides his 2 no-hitters that he deserved his contract. Sorry Reds fans.

    • This is for greenmtnred

      I completely understand and that is why I qualified it “right now”. Today, I feel more comfortable with Cingrani taking to the mound than Homer. Both have tremendous upside despite Homer’s experience. I can certainly see this rotation taking off rather than flopping. Homer is going to be okay and I would expect it to begin his next start. I’m still high on Bailey and he has shown top of the rotation stuff. Once he puts it together he will match his advanced stats – just a little more consistency, that’s all.

      • Understood, and I appreciate the clarification. On the strength of today, Leake looks to be at least the equal of either, but the strength of today is always a small sample size, eh?

    • JDX, I’m with you but there is some rationale to the argument even if the shoe doesn’t fit in this case. I’m counting on Bailey’s contract being a bargain. I have much larger reservations about BP’s and to a lesser degree Votto’s.

  5. Bruce is my favorite player on the Reds but after looking at the replay, I still say he should have gotten an error. Seems like an outfielder has to be camped under a fly ball to get a missed catch error. I just think the standard should be higher than that. That was a catch he makes > 95% of the time. While I agree Ondrusek shouldn’t have been in there, I don’t think he lost this game.

    • Yes Bruce should have caught it, he too felt he should have been charged with an error. But nonetheless the ball was hit very hard. Ondrusek vs. Holliday is not a good match up for the Reds (understatement).

  6. The fact that there are 154 games left to be played is the salve that soothes the rash of panic and worry. To say its early is a major understatement, its a long season and nobody knows whats around the next bend. Go Reds!

    • That’s a great point. This assessment is a single snapshot in time. Injuries or other factors can change the calculation. There’s nothing inevitable about the situation. According to form so far, but the form can change.

    • Very true. The reason I worry is this seems to be the same old offense minus choo. Heisey is the only bench player that I have faith in at the plate. Joey only likes to get hits with two outs and nobody on… and we need our healthy bullpen. We are so uncoached. I was hoping that first pitch hack away at anything plate mentality would have left with Baker.

      • I don’t know, Bernadina looks like he knows how to take a walk. That’s something nice to have on the bench. Got some blatantly bad calls otherwise he’d have another 2 BB to go with his current 3. Even hitting .091 he has a higher OBP than Izturis did last year. Lol

        • One positive is that the bench is better than last year, and Price uses it better, such as pinch hitting for Cozart. From what I’ve seen so far, I like Bernadina’s approach at the plate, regardless of the .091. Speaking of blatantly bad calls for him, according to GameDay the called 3rd strike last nite was way outside.

    • Amen brother. For me, no panicking until May at the earliest. The offense is showing signs of life even our beleaguered rookie lead-off man. Our 5-man rotation is tops in my opinion. Got to get the pen healthy and Price to figure out a better order placement of the relievers.

      Bailey is just as likely to have 5-6 straight great starts in a row. When he is really on he only second to Johnny in effectiveness.

  7. Also, folks should remember the graphic put up during the game. In 2010, 2012, and 2013 the Reds had poor starts and won 90 games. Eight games does not a season make, although, lessons can still be learned. These include, but aren’t limited to, BH being moved down in the order, never batting Cozart anywhere other than 8th (unless BH is 8th), and don’t let your best available bullpen arm have 1 appearance through 8 games.

  8. I was at the game tonight with my future FIL whose whole family including fiancee are huge Cards fans. I had a lot of fun up until Price decided to put Ondrusek in the game. Why is he still pitching for the Reds?

    Other thoughts, Price pinch hit Pena for Cozart, which Dusty never would have done. I don’t get why Heisey didn’t get the at-bat for the pitcher instead of Bernadina. And although it resulted in out #3, Hamilton did hit the ball hard towards the gap in left-center which was caught on the run by Holiday.

    Frustration, that is all.

      • Could have double switched for Hamilton and batted Bernadina for Bham. I sat there thinking that during the game. Would have probably burnt all available bats at that point, but it wouldn’t have mattered if the Reds didn’t at least tie the game to start with. Plus a better chance of gaining the lead later with the Phillips-Votto-Bruce due up.

  9. Reds should have kept Beato. Ondrusek is bad. Hamilton needs to bat 8th. This team will never reach its full potential until we have a RH power bat, someone capable of hitting .280 with 25 HR 100 RBI to go along with Votto and Bruce. We have no SS depth. Go get DiDi back.

  10. Cozart continues to not hit. He is batting somewhere at .038. He is a dead out pretty much everytime. I don’t know about other options, but the Reds may have to either send him down to AAA or trade him, if a good deal comes up…..if there is no vast improvement. Also, again they have Ondrusek out there, and again, he gives up runs. I know there is injuries, but there has to be other options than Ondrusek. And, not sure what is wrong with LeCure. They may be holding on to him to close, but you need to have the lead in the 9th inning to do that, and so its a gamble not having him pitch the middle innings.

    • It is very frustrating to watch Cozart at the plate just now, but he is not the first guy to endure a terrible slump. Almost everybody does, at some point. At his best he’s not a silver slugger candidate, but with his glove, and batting low in the order, he’s certainly acceptable.

  11. Bailey: It’s early! Let’s be patient and give him more time!

    Price: It’s early! Let’s be patient and give him more time!

    BHam: He obviously can’t do his job! Demote him in the lineup!

    One of these things is not like the others,
    One of these things just doesn’t belong,
    Can you tell which thing is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?

    • Wow, haven’t thought about Sesame Street in years…..
      We need Oscar the grouch to be our coach!

      100% agree that BHam should get a longer look before he is sent down.
      He has shown some improvement since opening day and when he HAS gotten on base BP has taken his speed out of the equation but not allowing him a chance to steal a base except in the mud in NY.

    • Spot on. Once Billy settles in, a lot of these close games will start going our way. If he can continue to limit the Ks, it is a sure thing. Hit two balls right on the screws tonight. Every game is better than the last.

    • Even a child too young for Sesame Street could understand that Bailey has a major league track record over several years, while Billy Hamilton doesn’t.

      Here’s another thing that’s not like the other. Moving Hamilton down in the lineup is not like giving up on him. Is it that crazy to consider that moving him down out of the leadoff spot might actually *help* him by taking pressure off. Managers for decades have done that with rookie players.

      • Question: has Hamilton looked better in the last 2 starts than he has in the previous 3? As long as he continues to show improvement, I’d keep him where he is. I too worry about his confidence and if he continues to struggle (end of April to mid-May), I would move him down or send him back to AAA. Problem is, I don’t see his value at any other spot but lead-off and rather see Heisey/Bernadina in there at that point. If he can get an OBP around .320, he is exactly the right guy to lead-off.

        There is one move I, would absolutely make and that is to bat JV second dropping Phillips to the 6th or 7th hole. IMO, he is the worst guy to bat after Hamilton. Then if Billy does get better, JV starts hitting some bombs with the distraction that BH creates on the bases. Just food for thought.

        Homer is going to be all right.

        • I actually think any of these players can be coached into hitting better. They all have displayed at one point or another their ability to do it. They are just un-coached. They have no discipline at the plate. They never have. Like I said on another post, I hoped the first pitch aggressive swinging at everything would have left with Dusty. And in all honesty, At least Drew Stubbs had power. I can’t believe I am saying this but, I think Stubbs is a huge step up from Hamilton. But BHam is one guy. Phillips needs to produce in the 2 hole, Votto needs to hit with runners on base, And how about that Mesoraco huh? Is it a rule that catchers bat 8th in Cincinnati? Definition of “insanity” – Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The Reds must be insane!

      • It seems like you focused on the wrong aspect of my comment.

        The thing I meant to emphasize was: It’s early.

        For Bailey, Price, and Hamilton, it’s too early to say what they are doing isn’t working. Therefore, there is no need to shake anything up just yet.

    • Yes, rookies who struggle in AAA and then promoted out of necessity are regarded different than pitchers with extensive track records and successful pitching coaches.

  12. Here’s my assessment, and I’m serious: Blow this team up, Walt. Send the word out that everyone’s available. As the season progresses whenever there’s maximum leverage for each player let as many as possible go for prospects. This core group will never win anything significant and I’m tired of watching them. Don’t think I’ve ever chosen to find something else to watch as early in the season as I did last night – told my kids I knew what was coming when the Reds still had the lead and switched it. It would be better watching a lessor talented team trying to over achieve.

    • I hope that’s just frustration talking. I can relate, and find myself turning off the tv in something approaching a rage. But…the core of this team is quite young, and the major problem seems to me to be–current slumps and injuries aside–that the lineup misses top-to-bottom strength by a skosh or two. Blowing it up will guarantee years of futility–years I certainly don’t have. Blowing up a roster of older, overpaid (relatively–all mlb players are overpaid in the grand scheme) guys makes sense. Not so now in Cincy.

    • You said that perfectly. This group will never win. I dont care how good the starting 5 pitchers are. It honestly saddens me to watch great pitchers go out there every day and pitch their guts out, only to get a loss because this line up just cannot do it. Blow it up! But, We are stuck with Joey for a long time. No one will ever want that contract unless he gets white hot (not gonna happen).

    • I just don’t see blowing up a team less than a month into the season. Maybe you’re sick of watching them. If that’s the case, take a little break and watch something else for a while. See if they turn themselves around in the meantime. Watch some other baseball games too. I find it very, very enjoyable to watch a game and have no rooting interest. I can enjoy the game for what it is. I can just relax and enjoy the game of baseball played at the highest level. Watching games is supposed to be fun unless it’s your business/job to watch games. I know that I felt frustration watching yesterday so I ended up watching the end of the BlueJacket’s game before heading to bed.

  13. Serious question:
    What is it about players who sign big contracts? (no this isn’t just about Homer). I’m not sure if they relax too much after they are under contract or if they let the pressure to live up to the contract effect their play. I’ve always felt that a player excels in their last year of a contract in order to prove their worth. Are there any stats that are pre sorted to show how players do in the first year of a contract as opposed to the last year of a contract? If I was ever to try my hand at fantasy baseball I believe I’d draft all players in their last year of a contract.
    Anyone else feel this way or am I just over thinking this?

  14. Granted it’s early but how can Bailey consistently continue to throw meatballs with two strikes? Throw one in the dirt occasionally, it’s not that hard. Don’t have the stats in front of me but he has to be one of the worst in baseball when he is ahead in the count.

  15. I agree that BH is looking more comfortable, and it’s only a matter of time before he settles in and at least starts producing minimally. I thought Mes looked dialed in–small sample size, to be sure, but even his third AB (where he struck out) was quality. And while I’ve never liked Ludwick’s approach at the plate, he seems to be seeing the ball well thus far. And Frazier looks more patient than he has in the past. So aside from Cozart–about whom I can’t even pretend to be optimistic–the offensive could start producing more very soon. Indeed, the first inning the last few nights illustrate that the Reds have at least the potential to get on the board quickly on a consistent basis. But they’ll need the pitching to remain strong, and the continued use of Ondrusek, along with JJ’s struggles, are concerning.

  16. Most of the Reds fans on this site lack the mental toughness required to be considered truly great fans. Sure, you seem like elite fans when the Reds are on a winning streak, but after a couple of difficult losses you all fold like a cheap suit. You clearly lack the necessary mental composure and should all be traded or sent down.

    MLB should also just cancel the remainder of the season and present another set of NL rings to the Cardinals. Sure, if Bruce had caught that ball last night the Reds might have won and would now be one single game behind the invincible, superior Cards. But since he didn’t make the catch, and the Reds lost, they are now an insurmountable three games behind St. Louis with only 154 to play. Baseball analysts are never wrong, so let’s call the whole thing off and meet again this time next year.

    • Agreed. I think it would be to everyone’s benefit to watch other teams play more often. Then the Reds fans may not feel so bad about their guys. There’s a lot of bad baseball being played at any given time around the major leagues. We’re not immune, and frankly, our bad isn’t nearly as awful. It’s not even like we’re getting blown out. To make any pronouncements about this team before Memorial Day would be foolish.

  17. You can always count on Cincinnati fans to gripe and belly ache about contracts as if every MLB player should take a 70% cut from their market value for the privilege of playing in Cincinnati.

  18. During the broadcast in the 2nd inning yesterday, Marty B said: “And the Cardinals just OWN Homer Bailey!” I guess he forgot about those games last September. That said, he does seem to struggle against them most the time.

    I don’t have an idea what is wrong with Homer. Whatever Mesoraco told him in the 3rd seemed to help him setting down. Still, if Homer is to be considered an “ace” pitcher, he needs to limit the damage in games where he is struggling. He had way too many games last year of giving up 4 runs or more and has already struggled in both starts this year. Let’s hope he gets sorted out either on his own or with some coaching help and he returns to the Homer Bailey that shut out the Cards twice last September.

  19. If the Reds lose this afternoon. We’ll see the kind of team and manager we have in how the team responds. How teams respond when they are struggling says a lot. The 2010 team was counted out numerous times during the season and kept battling back. The 2012 team was even declared “Done” a couple times on this blog and on talk radio. We’ll see if this team can get things going in the right direction. All it takes is a couple series wins.

    The Dodgers got off to a miserable start last year and ended up doing pretty well for themselves. Now, this team doesn’t have that kind of talent but they aren’t as bad as we’ve seen so far.

    • Speaking of the second inning, I know it’s completely coincidental, but I have a strong negative association with Mark Sheldon (moreso than when it’s Fay) coming on air in the second inning like they do and the opponent doing well. Those segments are never too short, which is how they should be. So there it is… ban Mark Sheldon from the radio booth and all will be fixed. So it is decreed.

  20. I understand the frustration with our start, It just seems like the same ole same ole with theses guys. What happened to the amazing defense and the 1st to 3rd attitude we had a couple of years ago. This, so far, seems like a sad continuation of last year minus a lead-off hitter. If we are gonna lose, at the very least, lets go down fighting.

    • Oh, I forgot, Can we bring up Lee Hyde already? I don’t recall a HYDE ever playing for the Reds….Up until High school, I was sure I would be the 1st Hyde.

  21. A very bright spot last night: Nick Christiani. As of now; my bullpen pecking order would be: Sam, Parra, Brox, Christiani, Hoover, Partch, Ondusek. When Chappy returns and Simon goes back to the pen, the Reds will go from rags to riches. “If” Marshall ever recovers recovers, this maybe the best Red’s pen since 1990. By the way, I’m not counting on Sean Marshall ever pitching in a Reds uni again.

    • I’m not as pessimistic about Sean Marshall as you are, but I understand not wanting to count on him. We did hear countless times last year that he was ready to return.

      But I definitely agree with you regarding Nick Christiani. He’s had three shutout appearances against the Cardinals – that’s noteworthy. With Chapman and Simon returning, the bullpen should get a lot better by mid May.

  22. Many of you guys remind me of Phillies fans. All doom and gloom if the club has a bad stretch. I went to Philadelphia for the 1983 WS and they actually lustfully booed Mike Schmidt. Old Mike had finished 3rd in the MVP vote that year and won it in 1980 & 1981. Aren’t we better than Phillie fans? What’s next, booing Santa Claus? Yeah, let’s have a fire sale on April 9th.

    • Right… like we have day trading going on with the team. Buy! Sell! Sell! It’s a long term investment, settle in and focus on something else if needed.

      • Day Trading or Fantasy Baseball, take your pick. Yeah if I was that miserable, I’d go fishing.

  23. Wow, folks are awful negative! It’s early, we’ve generally caught no breaks from the Baseball Gods, and we’ve been in every single game. Heck, even the Mighty Cardinals(tm) are regressing on hitting with RISP (just under .250 last night, and that’s counting Holiday’s “hit”).

    Yes, I wish Homer put more guys away when he’s got them 0-2 or 1-2. I wish he had done a better job of holding a lead. But I have some other observations that haven’t been beaten to death:

    1) MLB’s scheduling has been ridiculous. Would they ever have the Red Sox and Yankees play 1/3 of their season schedule in the first 10 games? Of course not. The Reds and Cards have 4 division titles in the last 5 years, and deserved more consideration than that.

    2) There was some discussion of “accountability” on yesterday’s thread. Would Dusty have used his 2nd catcher to PH for Cozart? Would anyone be surprised if Cozart doesn’t start this afternoon? Personally, I’d forbid him from swinging until he’s got 2 strikes for the next few games, but I also have no doubt he’ll get it together eventually and provide solid defense and reasonable offense from a bottom of the order hitter.

    3) Speaking of differences from Dusty, Price had already used his emergency 3rd catcher (Soto) when he decided to PH Pena. That left no catchers on the bench and the catcher in the game just came off the DL. I’d say that shows some urgency, and an approach to the game that Dusty wouldn’t consider in a million years. And, miracle of miracles, it worked! Pena got a hit and was then lifted for a pinch runner (there’s that urgency again).

  24. Line-up, Cozart and Ludwick get the day off. Mes starting a day game after a night game – who said Price was just a Dusty knock-off?

    Ham – cf
    BP – 2B
    JV -1B
    Bruce – rf
    Fraz – 3b
    Heisey – lf
    Mes – c
    Santiago – ss
    Leake – p (Rather see him hit 8th with Santiago in there)

    For all that is Holy, let’s get a W today.

    • Yes! Me too.

      As for the lineup, not surprised to see Santiago in there nor Mes. I also would have liked to have seen Leake hit 8th with Santiago in there though.

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