Titanic Struggle Recap

Johnny Delivers Pizza–And a Series Win

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates  (7-8)
 0  3  1
Cincinnati Reds  (6-9)
 4  8  0
W:  J. Cueto (1-2)   L:  F. Liriano (0-3)   S:  None
Box Score   |   Play-by-Play    |    Stats    |    Depth Chart    |    FanGraphs Win Probability

The Good

Johnny did it all today. Twelve Ks and complete and total domination of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jose Rijo had 12Ks in a shutout back in 1990. That’s how rare today’s pitching performance was in Reds history. Coming off a disappointing performance against the Jolly Rogers back in October, do you think Johnny Cueto felt like he had something to prove to the Pirate hitters? I can’t help but think it was a driving factor. A complete game shutout. Motivation is a powerful thing.

Joey Votto’s bomb off Liriano was the first HR allowed to a left-handed batter since Adam Dunn took Liriano deep all the way back in July of 2012. Don’t look now, but Joey Votto has hit 4 home runs with a lot of April left and the Cubs on the horizon. I was never worried about Joey, but for anybody who was–they can now stop. The power is back on.

The Bad

Zack Cozart continues to struggle at the plate. Today he incurred the wrath of Marty. His OBP has fallen to .146.

The Ugly

Nothing.

Not so random thoughts …

The Daily Billy:  A walk. A stolen base. A wild pitch. Another wild pitch. Run scored. Call it the Billy Hamilton Effect. Or, if you’re old enough to remember, Just Another Day at Riverfront for Joe Morgan.

Free Chris Heisey.

137 thoughts on “Johnny Delivers Pizza–And a Series Win

  1. Joey BASH!

    I am so happy they are bringing this back. I obviously didn’t have any love for the A’s back in the day, but we all still did the Conseco forearm bash on the playground either way.

      • Good catch CP – forgot all about that as I really liked Ryan – especially after how hard he had to work to get to the show and then stick – so Kudos. But I wonder if his inability to hit had anything to do with exprediting Mez’ starting role this year. So I just wonder who the Red’s have behind Zach in case he continues to hit .100 for an extended period? Just wondering … have always liked his glove work – just wish Zach’s stick would show up sooner than later …

        • Hanigan’s performance was most certainly a result of being injured at the start of the season. I blame his hitting woes completely on Walt & Dusty. Walt because it’s his job to make the roster decisions, Dusty because he chose to play Hanigan the first 8 games of the season, despite Mesoraco being the hottest hitter on the team during spring training. It was bonkers!

          I think the decision to go with Mesoraco was twofold:

          1) Mesoraco was the future and Hanigan was a 33 year old catcher

          2) Hanigan still had a decent amount of trade value

        • Walt’s fault that Hanigan got injured? Absolutely no way Walt would be at fault for anyone getting injured. First, more often than not, injuries simply occur, period. No one can deny that. Second, as you stated, CP, Walt simply makes the roster. Baker is the one who decides who plays. He’s the one who put Hanigan out there that much. If anything, it was Baker’s fault. Even before that, if anything, it was purely a coincidence that Hanigan got injured.

        • No, Walt’s fault that Hanigan wasn’t placed on the DL in the first place. Hanigan was already injured leading up into the season. It didn’t just develop once the season began…he was dealing with it all of spring training.

  2. The two names I’ve heard associated with Cueto today: Jose Rijo and Mario Soto. Preach likes. The bullpen is also rested and Marshall should be rejoining shortly. It’s time to put the Stupid Cubs ™ squarely in our rear view mirror. Also of note, Sarge didn’t have to drag the defib out today. That should leave him well rested as well.

  3. This from the AP wrapup:

    “Several Pirates questioned called third strikes by Quinn Wolcott, a Triple-A umpire called up to the majors.”

    I didn’t so much have a problem with the balls and strikes, but he definitely made 2 very bad calls at the plate involving baserunners, one of which cost us a run. Hopefully he’s heading back to AAA.

    • Didn’t see that game but played pretty close attention to Gamecast. It looked like both pitchers were painting the edges of the zone and many calls could have gone either way. While some of the balls looked like strikes at the bottom of the zone, it appeared on face value that he was pretty consistent. Don’t know how accurate Gamecast is, but I know I’ve seen far less consistency.

      • I watched every pitch and I don’t remember ever thinking a call was particularly bad. The reason the Bucs batters were complaining was because Johnny was throwing a NASTY cutter all day that was coming back over the plate just as it went through the zone. To a hitter, that ball looks like it’s a ball the entire way because they can’t see it when it comes back. You get guys complaining about that pitch being called a strike it means you’re throwing a really good 2-seamer, and Johnny was throwing one of the best I’ve ever seen today.

        • All you can ask for is a consistent call, especially for pitchers with some filthy movement working.

    • MLB better get that call right going forward – its one thing to change the rules to protect catchers and its another to revert back to the old rule when a new rule has been established as the new precedent. So MLB – please get your act straight. And Bucs admit it when you are clearly beaten and just take your whimpers and just go away. Thought the Cards were bad – Pirates make it to the playoffs last year so they think they are entitled.

  4. Not counting today’s game, Votto is at a wRC+ of 171. That’s sixth in the NL. The guys above him have BABIPs of .500, .385, .467, .448, and .476. Votto’s BABIP going into the game? .351! Right with his career average. So, basically, it appears as if Votto has had the best start of any hitter in the NL who isn’t currently getting lucky as hell. (That’s Freddie Freeman at .385, which isn’t too crazy).

    • Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, if you forget about being qualified and look at all hitters in the MLB with 25 or more plate apperances, our boy, Devin Mesoraco, is first in wRC+ at 301. Pretty cool! :) Hopefully he can ride the gravy train a bit longer.

  5. Great to see Votto turning on the inside pitches. Pitchers are screwed now because he is covering both halves of the plate. The only way (to get him) out is up methinks.

    How ’bout an MVP and a Cy Young from the same team!?!

    • Yes Brantley mentioned how when pitchers come inside with a fastball to Votto, which they were doing last year and so far this year, instead of a fly ball to left center, he’s turning on it. Great stuff.

      • Joey’s legs are stronger – and since the guy simply is one determined hombre who has always, always wanted to be one of the best – I wish him all the good luck in the world and good fortune to get there. G O R E D S !!

    • Easy there – the Reds win 2 in a row after starting 2-6 and everyone wants to hand out trophies. The Cards, Pirates and Brewers are determined to have a say about that (once again sorry Cubs – for my comment as well as what I hope the ‘surging’ Cincinnati Reds are going to do to you this week-end at Wrigley).

        • To be fair, they usually don’t give MVP’s to players on bad teams. CY is a little different – just look at RA Dickey. But the last time I remember a player getting serious consideration for an MVP while playing on a non-playoff team was Carlos Gonzales in 2010 and that was because he was in that triple crown race with Joey and Pujols.

  6. Today’s game made me even happier than the 4-0 Hamilton/Leake win over the Cardinals. Cueto and Votto are healthy again. Health was the only issue either of them had. Look out, NL !

  7. It is a true joy watching Cueto pitch when he’s on. Anyone remember when he used to be a young hurler who seemed like he was trying to throw every pitch through a brick wall and could rarely go more than 5 innings?

    The lad has learned to PITCH, and what a sight it is.

    • And darned glad that the Reds have control over Johnny for this season and next (The Red have a team option for 2015 – and the way Cueto is pitching – what are the odds the Reds are going to pick it up (for those who abhor dry humor that is meant tic – as in tongue in cheek) – especially when a pitcher of his pedigree is currently going for about $25/ million a year on the open market….).

  8. I said in last nite’s recap thread how I was looking forward to the Cueto-Liriano match up, and expected a different result from last October. I knew Cueto would be psyched for this one. And I loved his base hit, which led to 2 runs.

    • Indeed. I was just looking at that pic. My Dad was the first one to tell me about the need for him to go sleeveless. It seems like a lot of my best memories of the ol’ man involved Reds baseball. Maybe in his next interview, Joey could do a sleeveless Mountie.

  9. Imagine this pitching staff, when you add Marshall, Chapman, and Latos, and subtract Partch, Christiani and Ondrusek ?

    • I wouldn’t count on Ondrusek going anywhere. For some reason Walt seems to love that guy. I’d see Hoover being sent down before Ondrusek.

      • Hoover got off to a bad start last year too. I wish he’d get sorted because I really like the guy. I see a pretty good chance of him getting himself together. It’s been location, location, location for him.

        • I’d like to see Hoover sent down when Marshall and Chapman are back just so he can get more innings – I agree with you that I think he’s just in a rough patch. He’s shown he can be a very good reliever, but when everyone gets healthy he’s going to be pretty much the last guy Price goes to out of the pen. When Simon goes back it will be even worse for him. Easy to forget how good our bullpen is when it’s healthy…Fingers crossed it will be at full strength in the next couple weeks.

      • Seems as though WJ isn’t the only one who likes Ondrusek. Price has used him several times when nothing good could have come of it.

    • Right now, I’d take Nick over Ondru and JJ. The only pitch that Hoover is featuring is one where the ball clears a fence.

      • Basically, he’s throwing one-seamers:

        “That one seems like it’s gone.”
        “That one seems to be hammered.”
        “That one seems to suck.”

        • Nice Preach! As a catcher, I called that pitch the “New Ball”. Why? Because every time it was thrown I found myself reaching back towards the umpire for a new ball.

      • He has been a pleasant surprise, but I still don’t think he’s a long term answer for a contender right now. Let’s not forget there was a hot second a few years ago when Logan Ondrusek looked like the real deal. I’m glad Christiani has handled himself better than Trevor Bell did, but I still hope he’s not long for this roster once Chap and Marshall are healthy. He’ll get exposed eventually.

  10. Speaking of Marty v Cozart, he reached a new low today. My grandmother, who’s been listening to the Reds as long as Marty has been broadcasting, said, “You know, I think I’d rather miss a game than listen to Marty anymore. He’s just become a mean old man. He needs to take the stick out of his [redacted because my grandmother is a saint…..].”

    • What exactly did he say about Cozart? I’m sure it was abhorrent. I’ve found Marty to be unbearable these last two three years. I’m not surprised though. If he’s going to criticize Homer and Joey, he’s definitely going to criticize Zach.

      • I don’t actually know. I called my Grandma to tell her happy birthday and she was listening to the game while I was at work. Then she went off on some rambling tangent about how cute Zach Cozart is and that lead to the Marty comment….

  11. What a good day I had today. Was in Indy and caught the last few innings of the Reds game on the radio. Started driving north and made a few phone calls. Turned the radio back on and heard the last few innings of the Brewers beating the Cards. I know, the Brewers are in 1st right now, but I still would rather have the Cards lose at this point in the season.

    • Ditto – and except for Homer’s poor start the Reds would currently be a game behind the Cards and in 3rd place ….Hopefully the real Homer Bailey shows up for Sunday’s game. The other 4 starters are waiting for him to arrive (as are the Reds fans that quak at a $100M contract.

  12. I was digging into the “Worst start than Cozart this year” debate and noticed something interesting. The Reds 3-8 start after the Rays series was their worst start of the season since 1995. Yes, the 1995 that was a shortened season and that they still managed to finish with an 85-59 record before losing to the soon to be World Champion Braves in the NLCS. Hmmmm, I still see an 87-92 win team and I need to redact my earlier comment that my prediction was way optimistic and they would be lucky to be .500.

    • Thank-you true RED believer – you won’t regret it – now climb aboard Billy Ham’s bus and you will be all set for a hopefully enjoyable 2014 season ….

  13. I brought it up briefly in the game thread, but Cozart’s BABIP is .118. Even if you don’t like his approach and think that he’s hurting himself with the ground balls, that’s still an absurdly unlucky number. There’s no reason to think that shouldn’t be at least 150 points higher and it will almost certainly get there eventually.

    • That being said, right now he has an OPS+ and wRC+ of around -25. Honest to god I didn’t know those stats went below zero. You look at him, Ludwick, and Bruce and it’s hard to believe we even found a way to win as many games as we have.

    • I’d agree except he’s not really hitting the ball that hard. With major league defenses, basic grounder get gobbled up almost no matter where they’re hit. If he doesn’t start hitting the ball with a little more authority his babip will surely climb, but maybe not even over .250.

      • He’s never had a season below .280. Unless he’s hunters no reason to think his power has suddenly disappeared to the point where this won’t end up normalizing.

    • No one is thinking he hurts himself with ground balls. His FB% going into yesterday’s game was 47.1%, which is 7th in the NL. He’s making poor contact and popping/flying out too much. Unless you have power, fly balls aren’t good. Line drives and grounders are good. See Votto, Joey.

  14. My how 1 day – only 24 hours makes a difference in fan’s perspective – long season, simply looking for some signs of life and the Reds came through in live and living colors …

  15. This was such a great game for the Reds! When I think of things coming together – this game shows how things can play out. Dominant pitching and 4 runs. Go reds!

  16. Lost in the controversy over the blocking the plate non-call is the fact that whoever our new third base coach is is doing a terrible job. On that play, he clearly should have been telling Bernadina to make sure the ball got out of the infield before running – exact same thig happened a couple days ago. And earlier in the game Cozart was on third with Hamilton on base behind him and no one holding him on base and he had maybe a 5 foot lead. He should have been coached to be halfway to home in case of a wild pitch, especially in a 1 run game. I don’t know who this new guy is and I assume Speir is no longer around due to health reasons, but this has cost us a number of runs this season and considering how many 1 run games we’ve lost it could end up being a factor in the standings at the end of the year.

      • If you like giving up outs just because the pitcher is coming up, sure. That weak grounder was a 100% sure out at home plate.

        • Jordy Mercer made a nice play on that to get Bernadina at home. He backhanded and made the throw with his momentum going towards third. Cueto makes an out 90% of the time so might as well risk it. Plus we don’t know the third base coach could have told Bernadina to stay on a ground ball and Bernadina went anyway.I thought Cozart’s lead off of third was big enough. He was still going to score on a passed ball and if he gets too far off the catcher could pick him off.

        • Brantley said it – Cozart needed to be as far off third, or nearly as far, as the third basemen was from the bag. He wasn’t even close to that lead. No way a lefty or the catcher picks him off if he’s four steps from third if the third basemen is five steps away.

    • Speir was awful at 3B coach filling in for Mark Berry last year. When Berry got back, things were good.

    • I agree with others that with one out and the pitcher on deck, the contact play was 100% the right call. Also, it took a very good play by Mercer to throw him out.

      As for the blocking the plate rule, I think it’s really tough on balls hit to the infield. No, he didn’t have the ball yet but he did have the ball literally less than a second later. I was a catcher and it would be really hard to break myself of the habit of blocking the plate. Usually, I’d let them have access to it right up to the point that I was getting ready to take the ball in, then I’d block the plate. That’s pretty much what happened there.

  17. Red need to lock up Cueto. I would do the same thing with Leake and Cingrani as well. That way we would have 4/5 of the rotation locked up. One spot open for Stephenson. Trade Latos or lock him up and trade Bailey.

    • A couple things here. 100% with you on locking up Cueto, but we may have missed our window which was before this season started. If he keeps this up he could be looking at Kershaw money and we can’t afford that. Only hope is that given his injury history his agent advises him to take a deal right away rather than gamble with FA. I also agree they should be trying to lock up Cingrani right now before his price goes up – he should be really cheap now to buy out his arbitration years and maybe 1-2 FA years. As for Leake and Latos, I’d much rather lock up Latos. I know everyone’s nervous because he’s hurt, but he’s a front of the rotation starter and Leake might be the 6th best starter in the organization behind Stephenson. In fact, if Latos gets healthy and Stephenson keeps up this pace in Louisville I’d consider trading Leake at the deadline for a bat. Worst case you have Simon as an emergency valve. As for Bailey, he’d better start warning that contract or he has ZERO trade value. But I’m confident he will come around soon.

      • I’m in general agreement but it will come down to dollars. My two cents:

        Bailey is under contract for quite a while and to me the realistic upside is a #2 stater with a ~10% chanhce he could evolve into a #1. He stays.

        Cueto is the only true ace on this team. When healthy; he is right there with Verlander, Kershaw & King Felix. Very exclusive company and the Reds need to move heaven and earth to keep him. Frankly the other guys on the staff don’t come near to him.

        Cingrani is still a bit of an unknown but all signs have been encorouging. Love the guys make-up and stuff. I would guess he could be a #2 by the end of the year plus he is a lefty. Lock him up while you can cut a club-friendly deal.

        Leake – I love this guy more and more. Like Cueto & cingrani, he is a real bulldog and gets the most of his abilities. This guy just gets better and if be became a #2, I wouln’t be shocked. I judge him as a solid #3 along with Homer. If he had Homer’s stuff, he’d be a #1. Lock him down.

        That leaves Mat. Really like this guy but he will be unaffordable if they extend Johnny. Bottom line Latos is a hugh #2 or a low #1 and that might be the ceiling. I don’t see him being a true ace in Cueto’s league. Unfortunately the way it plays out, he will be the one that is replaced by Stephenson.

        Mike Leake is the third best stater in my ranking: Cueto, Latos, Leake, Homer, Cingrani is how I have them. Saying that Mike is #6 is not realistic. By the way, Cingrani could jump over both Leake and Homer too.

        • I really like Leake, but I can’t see his ceiling being anything like a #3 on a contending team. Not when teams like the Dodgers have 3-4 guys on their staff who could be aces on most clubs. Leake is Arroyo if he can stay healthy, and historically almost no one can stay as healthy as Arroyo. When everyone is healthy and on their game I rank our staff as Cueto, Bailey, Latos, Cingrani, Leake. And when you factor in Stephenson that’s why I put Leake at #6 by the summer. That’s not a knock on Leake. He could easily be a #2 guy on a lot of teams. Hell, he could be an ace on a few teams. He’s a great pitcher and a VERY good hitter for a pitcher.

        • We will have to agree to disagree on Leake but it will be fun to see it play out. I hope you are right about Homer.- ranked higher than Latos. Anyway these are wonderful “problems” to have.

        • Charlotte, after all the accolades and agreements we have shared in the past I am finally in total disagreement with you – with the genuine hope that YOU are the one correct. As it is, for all the nay sayers on Billy Ham, fans should be questioning the Red’s wisdom in signing a Mr. David Dewitt “Homer” Bailey, Jr to a lucrative long-term contract in hopes he becomes a dominant 1A pitcher. Sure, his stats and his propensity to ‘pitch’ (you simply don’t throw them) no-hitters speak for themselves, and owning game #3 of the playoffs 2 years ago save 1 TOOTBLAN by an overly, shall we say, eager Brandon Phillips was a masterpiece.

          But to throw a cool $100M at him? Cueto – check, Latos – check – but Homer – a resounding NO!! But Homer is way, way too inconsistent – Cueto could pitch the way he did today for months (and truly hope he does). But Bailey is way too erratic and Reds fans should know by now how our recently departed (for Arizona) starting pitcher who shared the same exact trait with Homer did Tuesday night. Here’s hoping David Dewitt doesn’t meet the same fate. G O R-E-D-S and more specifically Mr. H-O-M-E-R B-A-I-L-E-Y.

        • My point Pete is that Homer is signed and what is done-is-done. Homer reminds me a liitle of Bruce in that when he is hot, he can pitch with anyone. If he ever finds consistency, he could be a #1 but that is “if”. No doubt Bailey can be frustrating.

          At this point with Leake’s and Cingrani’s developement, Homer of 2013 would be more than enough. Latos return at some point this year is important, make no mistake.

      • Stephenson walked 7 tonight. Second bad outing in a row. Seems like he’s not as close as perhaps we thought.

        • Saw that. Also gave up a grand slam. A set back, for sure, but he’s still clearly the future of this organization’s starting rotation.

        • Point well taken Charlotte. When Homer is on he is on – just like our beloved Jay Bruce who I had the pleasure to watch when the Reds were in Denver last year – truly talented players with tons of talent. See why the Reds groomed and drafted David Dewitt. Just saying since the Reds have limited funds available, they may eventually regret paying Homer and not Johnny or Mat. They will not be able to afford all 3 and as it is, Homer should have been 3rd on that list.

      • Leake IS a bat. Only partly kidding. He is good and getting better. I, too, lean toward power arms, but that may be a mistake: there are lots and lots of power arms now and hitters are becoming accustomed to 95mph and faster. There have been pitchers (Maddox, of course, but Arroyo recently) who were very effective without relying on over-powering fastballs. Leake actually does touch 92-93 (pretty much where Cingrani is), but he also has great movement and, usually, control. I see him being good and getting better for years. I’d keep them all–can’t have too much pitching (well, a staff of 25 would be too much pitching).

        • Well we clearly can’t keep them all. That being said, maybe you look at Latos and see a guy who’s not quite going to be a top echelon starter but is going to command Homer+ money and decide it’s better to use that money elsewhere. Elsewhere, at this point, might just be Cueto because if he keeps this up we’re talking $200 million.

        • Exactly my point – Homer+ $$ (Latos) and double Homer’s money (Cueto) – as the bar has been set (maybe not by the Reds but by MLB). Enjoy the 2 pitchers while they are here Reds fans – as they won’t be here in a couple years, while, without a trade, Homer will most assuredly be.

  18. Billy Hamilton quietly had a pretty good day at the plate. Not spectacular, but the kind of day that, if he had it more often, he’d be an All Star. Sure, he struck out again, but he got on base twice in 4 ABs.

    More of that, please. Really want to see him increase his AVG and OBP by 100 points each.

    • agreed, Billy looks like he is trying to figure it out.

      really trying to figure out the funk that Cozart is in. All he is doing is pulling the ball to 3rd. Today he had runners at second and third and pulled it. There were comments about Phillips hitting away without trying to move the runners, but Zack is in the same boat now.

      Loved Heisey’s bunt

      • See my comment above. Cozarts approach very well need some coaching, but he still has an insanely low BABIP. I’m not a master statistician, but I’d imagine if his BABIP was anywhere near a normal number he’d probably be batting around .240 and none of us would think twice about him the way he fields.

        • See my comment further up the thread. Cozart’s babip might be a bit low due to bad luck, but the way he’s not hitting the ball with authority I think .240 is a pipe dream. Of course, if he starts squaring it up like he did the second half last year, I think he’s capable of .260 or .270 with some pop.

        • Cozart’s BABIP is low because he’s been hitting fly balls at near league leading levels. You aren’t going to have a BABIP of .250 with half your balls as fly balls. See Alvarez, Pedro. His BABIP is something like. 210, but his AVG is higher than that because 35% of his fly balls are home runs.

          Cozart needs to lear to keep the ball out of the air, like Billy, and he’ll be a perfectly fine #8 hitter.

        • I agree, JDX19, but still a .118 BABIP suggests an awful lot of bad luck. That’s basically unheard of in any level of baseball. But I don’t think Cozart’s problem is the same as Hamilton’s. Cozart has shown he has big league power, Hamilton hasn’t. Cozart is hitting too many weak ground balls to the left side. But again, Cozart has shown he can hit at least marginally in the big leagues so I’m confident he’ll get past this slump. Hamilton hasn’t proven a thing, so the jury’s still out on if he can make the adjustment. He seems to be a fast learner so I’m optimistic.

      • Billy is a winner as well as game changer – players like that don’t come along very often and definitely deserve some additional latitude. Growing pains may be difficult for all involved, but they often pay off in sports. Could be in a few months that Billy has settled in by then and thanking Red Nation for their patience.

      • Cozart needs some solid coaching but really don’t know enough about the current Reds staff (including batting coach) since they are new to the job and the team’s players and thus have a lot on their plate to digest.

        Now the 3B coach – he either figures it out quickly or should be gone. Cozart should have had at least a 15-20 foot lead with the 3B playing so far off the bag. That kind of indecisiveness by the 3B coach may eventually cost Reds games down the road – and with this division being so close the Reds need every advantage they can muster – and the 3B coach’s decision making needs immediate improvement. He has already cost the Reds a potential win and big inning (last week-end) by getting JV thrown out at the plate.

        • A good 3B coach is like a good ump – their skills make them almost invisible on the playing field. It’s not a good thing when fans start to take notice of them.

      • Baseball smarts (intangibles) are difficult to come by and sometimes guage – its a hit or miss thing with a lot of players. And even though BP can hit and field – his baseball smarts are nominal at best while rating in the lower half of players (hitting and fielding is all about reaction time (you don’t have to think – just react – and BP has those areas covered – but baseball smarts take – well, smarts). Pete Rose was the Hit king and – had a wealth of baseball smarts. Drew Stubbs – a resounding – NO WAY! Billy Ham – a resounding – YES! Zach Cozart – sadly it doesn’t appear to be the case as he doesn’t possess that skill. And to make matters worse – they can’t be taught – players either have them or they don’t.

        Players can try and compensate but in the end its an instinct that good players have – while others don’t.

    • Be patient with the young man (and please remember he’s only 23) – because if you do in time yours (as well as other indecisive Reds fans) patience will really pay off. As for over looking Billy Ham’s genuinely intrinsic value, it was witnessed by the fastball Liariano threw down the middle to Joey V who quickly deposited it into the seats for a much deserved commanding lead for Johnny (4-0 – sounds familiar – and Johnny has been waiting for a commanding lead for 2-3 games). As it is, Billy Ham simply CHANGES games – one way or another – even if its a simple (and often unnoticed) adjustment a pitcher makes on the rubber that results in a potentially game changing HR. Billy’s force-out won’t go in the stats as anything special and we may never know, but if Cueto was still on first when Votto batted, we may never have seen JV’s blast.

  19. Johnny (K)ueto.. I forgive him for the two batters interference calls. But only because of the pizzas he earned for the good folks at GABP.

  20. Can Heisey play short stop? Haha… But seriously, I know he took grounders at third a couple summers ago… If only Frazier had the range for short… hmm…

    • Let’s give Zach another 2 weeks before jumping ship. If he still is batting .100 at the end of April then it will definitely be time to consider alternatives. Hope Zach breaks out and hits .280 this year.

      • Roughing it in based on his number of official at bats the last two years Cozart would have to hit at around a .296 clip the rest of the year to bat .280 for the 2014 season. For the folks who think his defense justifies having him around if he hits .240, he has to hit a tad better than .250 the rest of the way to get to .240 at the end of the year. So, .240 for the year is on the verge of being a dream too unless he makes a quick and sustained turnaround..

        • Zack is frustrating to watch. But this year is much worse than previous years, and so it seems like a slump, and there are reasons for slumps. Also, it would be hard to replace him–no heir-apparent in the minors, no reasonable alternative on the 25 man, and the teams that have good shortstops are unlikely to trade them, precious commodities that they are. Let’s hope he breaks out of the slump. I don’t care too much about his final average, just what he does going forward, the previous games having already been played and, mostly, lost.

        • Well he’s going to have periods of good luck with BABIP the same way he’s had terrible luck so far, so I’d expect those periods to help even things out. He definitely got off to an extremely cold start, but lately he’s looked an awful lot like he always has – like a perfectly marginal big league hitting SS. Remember he hit well over .280 for several months at the end of last season so he has been streaky in the past. Cozart is what he is – at his age, assuming he stays healthy, I’d expect he puts up his usual numbers this year when it all evens out. Somewhere around .250/.280/.380. Maybe the very cold and unlucky start drops those numbers a tick but like I said he’s just as capable of ripping off a very hot month or two to make up for it.

        • And just to add to that, if he had put up the numbers he has over the last few years while batting 8th instead of 2nd, he’d be an absolute fan favorite. He really is one of the best defensive SS’s in the league.

        • 2 points well taken – solid SS are a rare commodity (just ask the Cards who traded for one in the offseason) and Zach needs some coaching as he looks totally lost at the dish. If there is one Red that constantly swings at pitchers in the dirt it’s Zach (and opposing pitchers are well aware of that). A more disciplined approach by Zach at the dish would be a discernable improvement.

  21. I think the reason the Reds locked up Bailey for $100 million is there were many question marks about Cueto and Latos going into this year. Cueto was hurt nearly all of last year and we still aren’t sure when Latos will return this year. With these question marks about their health, Walt, Bob, and company felt it was necessary to sign Bailey. If you lose Bailey you are betting on Cueto and Latos to stay healthy and before this year there were big question marks on that.

    • And the questions about Latos haven’t gotten any smaller. If anything they are bigger now than 2-3 months ago or so when the Bailey deal got done. Three of the four hinge joints are very important in pitching and he has had surgery done on two of those three since his last competitive appearance and still has a problem adjacent to the throwing arm hinge joint.

  22. I personally would like to test the waters and see what the price tag for a guy like stephen drew would be right about now or whatever the date it is when that draft pick drops off. That would leave Cozart as the back up SS and 2B and Santiago gone (I would assume). Cozart has never had any competition to win that starting SS job and I think something needs do to help light a fire under him. I think people forget that he is now 30 if he was going to hit he would have by now.

    • I agree on him never having any serious competition for the job at the MLB level and that it is lost on a lot of people that he is in his age 28/29 season and therefore is probably is what he is, good and bad.

      • If healthy, yes. Stephen Drew put up 3+ WAR last season in 124 games on both BR and FG, with the majority of the value coming from offense, which is generally more trustworthy than someone like Cozart, who put up a 3 bWAR in 2012 (with 2 of it coming from defense).

        The Reds would lose a pretty valuable draft pick for what is likely a rental (and an injury prone one at that). He hasn’t played a full season since 2010.

        I think the Reds have to stick with Cozart unless they can make a trade. Unfortunately, teams don’t typically have a spare SS that are MLB ready and MLB ready prospects are uber expensive or all but untouchable.

        And sorry guys, Nick Franklin isn’t really a SS. When your team’s strength is pitching I can’t see the Reds watering down their very good infield defense for an extended amount of time.

        I honestly wonder what Didi Gregorius would cost to get back! Towers isn’t going to make it much longer at the current pace.

        • He wouldn’t be THAT much of an offensive upgrade. Until last year he hadn’t put up an OPS+ of over 100 since 2010. He’s probably good for somewhere around 95-100 this year, but as you say you lose a high draft pick and you lay out a lot of money to marginally improve your 8-hole in the order IF he stays healthy, and even then just for a year. Just don’t see the real upside there.

        • I think the odds are getting pretty good that Drew is still available AFTER the draft, so the draft pick compensation would become mute. I really don’t think the draft compensation had a particularly significant impact on Drew’s contract, but rather his health issues and agent depressed his value below his over-valued anticipation. Just because a player reaches FA status doesn’t make him an elite FA. I wouldn’t mind seeing WJ kicking the tires on a Drew contract, but I certainly wouldn’t over pay or give up a draft pick at this point. Getting Drew would really just upgrade from Santiago, since I view Drew and Cozart as having opposite strengths but equal value.

        • Eric, in 2 of the last 4 years, he’s had a 100+ wRC. The Reds only had 2 hitters above that last year, Votto and Bruce. If they somehow signed him, he SHOULD probably bat in the top half of the lineup, not 8th. Him and BP are similar in value offensively. Realistically, he doesn’t bat in the top half unless Hamilton no longer leads off, but suddenly the Reds offense looks a little bit better. Drew certainly isn’t a marginal upgrade over Cozart, he’s basically a 25% upgrade. That’s pretty substantial.

          There is a decent chance that Ryan Ludwick would be the worst hitter on the team (I’ll ignore Billy Hamilton lest we hear more faith-based arguments about how he’ll turn it all around).

  23. I just read this regarding Homer and his rough start. I will freely admit that I don’t know much of the newer statistics but I do believe they are valuable. In this case it looks like it is more bad luck than anything:

    is off to a horrible start, sporting an ugly 8.16 ERA and 2.02 WHIP. His last outing was especially odd, as he posted a 9:0 K:BB ratio over 5.0 innings, but that was accompanied by him serving up four homers. Bailey has already given up six home runs this season, and while I’m not of the belief pitchers have no control over how many long balls they allow, it’s safe to say he’s been a bit unlucky with 60.0% of his fly balls having left the yard so far in 2014 (his current FIP is 7.25, while his xFIP is 2.80, which is the 14th best in MLB). Bailey’s career HR/FB% is a perfectly acceptable 11.2, and that’s while calling Great American Ballpark home, a place that has increased home runs by an MLB-high 30 percent over the past three seasons. Bailey’s average fastball velocity has been 94.1 mph, which is exactly the same as last year. Meanwhile, his GB% (51.1), K% (24.3) and SwStr% (10.8) are all career highs. In other words, there’s nothing to worry about here

    • I fear Bailey’s groin pull may be a bit more severe than what they have let on to be. If Bailey has another bad outing, he may go to the DL when Latos comes off of it. Every time Bailey gets hammered he is pitching up in the zone. He’s getting alot of pitches up belt high this year

      • If he had a bad groin, or a twinge in it, he would not be pitching. His fastballs are dead straight…no movement. That’s the problem.

      • i agree with you homer having some location issues. I watched the 4HR pirates game. Homer had good stuff,9k evidence of that but when he was off on location, up and middle of plate, and the Pirates did not miss when that happened. Though the HR Marte hit, I doubt he could do that again on that type of pitch.

        • Homer has 17 strikeouts in 14 innings. So it isn’t his stuff per se (being straight, or down in speed). It’s more to do with location and some bad luck. That’s not to say I’m unconcerned about a possible injury, if that’s playing a role in his command for some reason.

        • Brantley alluded on the telecast the other night that if the groin was still an issue with Bailey, that it could be causing his location problems. I hope it isn’t an issue, but it makes some sense.

        • If there is a groin issue, one would be especially nervous having him pitch on a day when the groundscrew has to continuously rake the mound between innings and pour everdry after every batter.

  24. Don’t get me wrong, I like Zack.

    It is just when you are not hitting you need to move the runners

  25. * 30 runs in 4 games, and none of them driven in or scored by the guy batting third. Odd.

    * Arroyo got lit up for 9 runs in 3.1 innings the other day, and now has an ERA of almost 10. Don’t pitchers always complain that their breaking balls don’t break properly in Arizona? That could be a problem for Bronson and th DBacks going forward. I’m sorry for his sake, but not theirs.

    • Called that a few months ago when Bronson signed with Arizona – what in the world were the Diamondbacks thinking? You need the heavier air of the midwest or east coast to throw his style of pitches – living in Colorado you realize the air is a lot thinner and that balls cut through the air. Curveball and slow pitches simply don’t work here – or in Arizona for that matter.

    • Yes, that’s also one of the problems in spring training for pitchers. Even FB pitchers have less movement on their pitches, so unless a pitcher simply relies on heat or heat and location, it’s tough to pitch in the desert (AZ) or elevation (COL). Pitchers who pitch to contact really struggle in AZ and COL. Can’t fault Arroyo for taking the contract since it’s probably his last contract, but offering the contract is another issue.

      • I agree you old Cossack you. That also explains the Central California league where our Bakersfield team resides. Averages and ERA are much higher there too

  26. Just saw this quote from Price:

    “More than anything, rolling out the same philosophy and going down the same road that we’ve gone for a while just doesn’t resonate with me,” said Price. “I want us to perform better and score more runs. I’m willing to do what it takes, take chances with the lineup, do what it takes to spur the offense. Our lineup isn’t going to be cemented in one place. You can’t expect things to turn around on their own.”

    We’ve already seen him do it, but so much for there not being any difference between Price and Dusty. Can you ever imagine those words coming out of Dusty’s mouth?

  27. Just wanted to post a quick note regarding BABIP:

    A low BABIP does not automatically mean a player is having bad luck. One must look at their FB/GB/LD splits, as well, in determining if a player is unlucky or making poor contact or perhaps has lost his swing.

    For example a player hitting 30% ground balls, 40% line drives, and 30% fly balls with a BABIP of .200 is having BAD luck.

    However, if the same player is doing 25% ground balls, 25% line drives, and 50% fly balls and has a BABIP of .150 or something, he’s not having bad luck. He’s got a problem with his swing or something similar making him put too many balls in the air. Fly balls have the lowest aggregate BABIP, ground balls are inbetween, and line drives have the highest BABIP.

    This is why certain players are able to maintain higher than normal BABIPs over their careers. Like Votto’s .350 whatever. Someone the other day posted that is 5th ALL-TIME among players with 3000 or more PAs. Amazing. He hits a lot of line drives and not many fly balls that don’t leave the yard. Therefore, high BABIP.

    • I assume this is in regards to the Cozart discussions above. You’re obviously correct that BABIP is not all luck and obviously some players maintain a higher or lower BABIP over their careers based on hitting style and skill. But, as I said above, .118 is pretty extreme. Yes, Cozart hasn’t been hitting well and that has contributed to his overall numbers, but by any reasonable standard he should have expected a few more of those ground balls to find gaps and a few of those fly balls to find green. It doesn’t excuse his overall approach, which hasn’t been great, but we’ve seen him hit reasonably well over his career including the ability to hit for power. He’s already had some nice line drives for hits this year, including the GRD for a couple RBI’s the other day. So I honestly do believe that for Cozart, he’s had some bad luck and doesn’t need any kind of radical change in his approach. Pitchers have had their way with him so far, but he’s been known to go on hot streaks as well and I think it will normalize. As for Hamilton, he’s never hit in the majors and there is CLEARLY an issue with his swing. He should be being coached to never even try and put the ball in the air but he’s still taking uppercut swings. And yet, as bad as his approach has been, his BABIP is more than 100 points higher than Cozart’s – and I don’t credit much of that to his speed because I haven’t yet seen him leg out anything that no one else would with the possible exception of one bunt single. So while Billy’s low BABIP is an obvious product of his bad approach (I’m being harsh, the kid’s still learning), it is still substantially below the statistically improbable number Cozart has at the moment. They both need to do better, and both need adjustments, but luck does enter into the equation.

      • “Edit: “it is still substantially ABOVE the statistically improbable number Cozart has at the moment.”

      • I’d also add that, barring some injury we don’t know about, a guy having a bad streak with a BABIP more than 170 points below anything he’s ever put up in his career up to this point probably deserves at least some benefit of the doubt in terms of luck vs. technique.

    • This. That’s why Cozart can put as many balls in play as he wants to, but if they are all dribblers back to the mound or to third he’s not having bad luck, he’s just not performing well. He’s just not making solid consistent contact. The positive is that he’s hitting the ball, the negative is it’s just not going anywhere. Hopefully it’s a matter of adjustment. By my estimation (guess), he’s got about two weeks to figure out how to put it over the third baseman’s head instead of into his glove.

    • For comparison Jay Bruce, clearly one of the better power hitters in the league, has a BABIP of .156. Last year he was .322 and has never put up below .280 in his career. Again, barring an injury we don’t know about, isn’t it safe to assume there’s some element of luck happening there. Jay Bruce didn’t suddenly forget how to hit line drives.

      This is PURELY anecdotal, but I remember being at the second Mets game and literally everyone in the lineup was DRILLING line drives to the warning track off of Dillon Gee like it was batting practice – Cozart included. Batter after batter from the very first inning were smashing the ball and most of the time the OFers didn’t have to take more than 2 steps. By the 3rd inning my friends and I were laughing at how easily Gee would be to hit if the baseball gods weren’t so mad at the Reds that day. Also happened to be the day Hoover gave up the walk off slam to Ike Davis. Just a little story for conversation.

  28. ERIC NYC. I agree with everything you said. I posted that as more of a primer for folks who may not have your knowledge of batted ball information. I didn’t specifically address it to you becase I didnt’ want it to seem disrespectful or like I was just harping on the earlier posts in the thread. I appreciate your comments.

    With that said, it’s true people’s BABIPs will come back to within some amount of their career numbers, assuming their career has been long enough for statistical significance. However, in life, and will ball players, weird stuff can happen! If his eyesight, for example, all of a sudden went from 20/20 to 20/30 somehow and he doesn’t have lenses, then it might be enough of a factor for him to start hitting more popups and less line drives. That is also anecdotal. I just wanted to express my opinion that a player who is doing poorly is usually (IMO) to blame, rather than BABIP bad luck.

    Ultimately, I agree. .118 is super low and I expect Cozart will be closer to .240 than .140 by mid-May because I think he’ll stop hitting so many fly balls.

    If you want a laugh, look at Pedro Alvarez batted ball profiles for this year and last year. Pretty silly.

    • It’s a good conversation to have. It’s always hilarious how strange some stats can look this early in a season.

    • I’d project that he needs to hit .247 between now and the middle of May to be closer to .240 than .140 by then, I think this is a pretty interesting over/ under.

      Fine Print: “middle of May” = close of day May 17th= 27 team games> 22 player games; 3.5 official ABs per player game. “Closer to .240 than .140″=.191

  29. Oh, one other silly stat: BP’s BABIP isnt’ bad, nor is his AVG, but he’s got the highest % of infield flies in the majors. Weird stuff.

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