Titanic Struggle Recap

Two out of three

Final R H E
  Cincinnati Reds  (21-24)
2 9 0
  Washington Nationals  (24-22)
1 6 1
 W:  Simon (6-2)     L: Roark (3-2)     S: Chapman (3)
 Box Score  |   Play-by-Play    |    Photos    |    Depth Chart   |   FanGraphs Win Probability

Positives

Alfredo Simon continues to defy the odds. He gave up five hits and one walk, striking out six over seven innings. The one run Simon gave up was on his second pitch of the game. He’s now pitched 58 innings in 2014. Simon averaged 73 innings the previous two years pitching out of the bullpen.

Jonthan Broxton rallied against the top of the Nationals lineup to throw a shutout eighth inning after allowing Denard Span a lead-off single. Chris Welsh referred to “562 pounds of right-handed muscle” referring to Broxton following Simon to the mound. Aroldis Chapman pitched a clean ninth to earn his third save.

Zack Cozart had three more hits. Time to change the narrative on him. Brandon Phillips had two hits and drove in a run. Todd Frazier walked twice.

Jay Bruce was activated from the DL today, just two weeks after surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee, yet he didn’t start. My guess is that Bruce was available for emergency use only today, given the reported injury to Ryan Ludwick. Otherwise, Bruce would have been activated on Friday for the Cardinals series.

Negatives

Joey Votto was placed on the disabled list. Votto did not accompany the Reds on the road trip. His DL assignment is backdated to May 16, which means Votto will miss the St. Louis series this weekend, the Dodgers series in LA next week and the first part of the Arizona series to complete the road trip. Here’s hoping the Reds come up with solutions to first base other than Neftali Soto and Todd Frazier.

Not so random thoughts

Bryan Price held an impromptu meeting in the dugout before the fourth inning that reminded me of a scene with Al Pacino in the film Any Given Sunday.

When the Reds left for Philadelphia without Joey Votto, already down Jay Bruce, even the sturdiest Reds fan would have been satisfied with a split of the six games on the road trip. And there were ugly moments. But a split is exactly what they did. The Phillies and Nationals teams aren’t what they have been, but who cares. Bryan Price’s team proved quite resilient these two series.

120 thoughts on “Two out of three

  1. When you say even the sturdiest Reds fan would have been satisfied with a split all I can say is … speak for yourself.

    • I will take it, what chances would you have given them knowing beforehand that Votto would not even be with the team, Homer, Cingrani, Cueto were going to throw clunkers, the bullpen would have a terrible ERA and Chapman would blow a save.

  2. the sad part is that we kicked away a Johnny Cueto game and let them off the hook. He did not have his best stuff yesterday, but he gets picked up in the field and I bet he rallies and throws 7 strong again.

    • but I should have added like wildwest did that that was a gutty win. tough mudders is correct, toledo has nothing on our guys

      beat the hated cards badly

  3. I happened to tune in in the car just in time to hear someone stroking Marty’s ego on the banana phones about his negativity towards the players. I wonder if it was one of our butthurt Marty apologists. I can say after hearing Marty answer that th man is definitely immensely full of self importance.

  4. It was a bumpy road getting there, but all and all I’ll take 2 outta 3 any day. After last nights loss, the win today really takes some of the sting out of last nights fiasco. Reds just got to keep scraping till they get the “A” team up and running. Go Reds!

    • Nats are hurting in a big way too. They are down Zimmerman and Harper. The Reds caught them at a good time considering how banged up the Reds are too. I’ll take the 2 out of 3 any day.

  5. Rough calculation since April 27th I have Cozart at .324 /.386/.486; I suspect these numbers even out closer to his current slash line but we can stop with DFA talk until the next slump

    • You know who I would like to DFA?

      the entire cardinals team

      Oh yea, hate of them guys cannot start too early

    • Who is this we? Oh you mean the shortsighted negative people who want to trade everyone every other game?

      • Excellent comment. Have you also noticed the way one game changes the narrative completely until the next disappointment? I laugh, but do the same things myself.

  6. Did anyone else notice that Simon’s stuff had Arroyo-like action to it? Lots of movement.

  7. I’ll admit, I was at work, had to box score watch. But, catching up on the highlights, did anyone else catch BP noticeably backing up on Tyler Moore, back to 1st base, after his RBI on Cozart? Bad @ss.

  8. Strange game that could have hinged on the two replay reviews, though in the end it didn’t matter. If Frazier was called safe stealing he’s on third with one out in the 6th and probably adds an insurance run. Replay was inconclusive so they didn’t overturn the call, but there was no decisive camera angle. Who knows? And Hamilton’s catch / trap almost allowed the Nat’s to tie it up late. The ball clearly bounced, but I agree with Jim Kelch that it looked like it bounced inside the glove. I was shocked that they overturned that one. I can’t see how the video clearly showed a trap unless they had different angles from the National’s feed. Either way I’m not loving this replay stuff… Nice win for the Reds, welcome back JB, rest up heal JV.

        • Obvious trap but in real time, looked clean. You’re on the mound with Cozart and Phillips plus Hamilton up the middle. What pitcher wouldn’t take that!

        • It was one of the most incredible almost catches I’ve ever seen. Looked like a hit off the bat, I couldn’t believe he got to that ball that quick and almost pull it off.

    • My feelings on replay are well documented but compounding the problem is the fact that in many cases, the calls still are not right.

      • Sounds like, from other comments at least, that in the case of the Hamilton trap, they got the call right.

  9. My first post, and an update on Mat Latos. I was at the first two games in DC and Mat was running around the outfield during batting practice both nights chasing down fly balls. Hopefully a good sign for next month!

  10. I don’t think I’ve seen any thread on this yet, but what do people think of the rotation stackup now that Latos is throwing simulated games? I know the debate between sending Cingrani or Simon to the bullpen (hopefully Cingrani). After last week, Price was hoping that in about 3 sessions, he’d be up to 90 pitches. He also acknowledged that he wants to keep him on a 5 day rotation with this rehab. His simulated game was yesterday, during Cueto’s start. Simon obviously was today, and this would pose as the closest in the order for Latos replace. The other option of Cingrani doesn’t throw until Saturday and would be quite a bit off Latos’s 5 day plan. Maybe it’s too early, but here’s what I see of mapping out the next couple weeks:
    Fri – Bailey, Sat – Cingrani, Sun – Leake, Mon – Cueto (Latos Sim), Tue – Simon
    Wed – Bailey, Thur – Cingrani (Latos eligible for activation), Fri – Leake, Sat – Cueto (Latos Sim), Sun – Simon, Mon – OFF
    Tue – Bailey, Wed – Cingrani, Thur – Leake (Latos Sim), Fri – Cueto, Sat – Simon

    Doesn’t really seem like an obvious replacement from this schedule, does anyone see anything else?

    • Actually, I forgot tomorrow’s Off-day. He can throw his next Sim Sunday instead of Monday, then Friday, then the following Wed that Cingrani is on. Could that be Latos’ first start back against SF?

    • I think at this point it is premature to think about who will pitch in the order as we do not know what may happen in the next couple of weeks. I do not know what they will do if everyone is healthy and going well. I am not against Simon continuing to start, after all, that is what he did for years and in the Winter Leagues. Cingrani was a reliever in college, Bailey takes a LONG time to warm-up, I think Cueto and Leake are untouchable. From this listing, I guess I think that Cingrani goes to long relief. Three LH in the bullpen is pretty tough to beat, but a LH in the rotation is also a good asset. How is that for a post? Took a lot of words to say nothing.

  11. “Simon continues to defy the odds”

    You bet and has since wearing a Red uniform. Good old xFIP strikes again. Let’s take a look and make some comparisons:
    2012: ERA 2.66, xFIP 3.87, Error 31%
    2013: 2.87, 4.22, Error 32%
    2014: 2.31, 4.22, Error 45%

    If we use a consistent error of 32%, we might deduce that Alfredo should have an ERA of about 2.87 to 2.91. Maybe defying the odds but not by a lot. Watching him pitch he looks like a 2.31 guy but I guess I could see ~2.89 but certainly not 4.22. Interesting. From the few analysis I have studied (Simon, Cueto & Bailey), xFIPs are not very accurate but they are somewhat consistent. I’m thinking the calculation could use a little work.

    Who knows, maybe Simon turns into a pumpkin next week, but I wouldn’t start betting on it quite yet.

    • “Simon continues to defy the odds”

      Yeah I wasn’t crazy about that opening line from Steve. It’s as if he’s expecting Simon to do bad, and because of his previous exploits as a starter, that he has no business doing what he’s doing. That’s the kind of line you tell someone that hits a miracle card on the river in a hand of poker. Maybe Homer should start defying some odds.

    • Agree about Simon, and evidently Price and Mesoraco do, as well. He throws hard and the ball has good movement. The concern, and what I believe Steve is alluding to, is the number of innings he will pitch as a starter–uncharted waters for him (as a season-long starter, I mean).

      • Believe I understand where you are coming but from my POV, Steve chooses his words carefully. So when he says “continues to defy the odds” I take as referring to the past and present, not the future.

        As far as the concern about durability, I can see the point; however if Simon only has 5 to 7 healthy starts left, do use them now? Cingrani is struggling mightily to go deep into games and with a horrendous bullpen how much mileage do we get from his starts? Homer is struggling period and at least my confidence is not high that he is going to have a decent game. In order to maximize our chances of hanging in there, starting Simon seems to be the logical thing top do. When, and, if the bullpen and Homer recover; it would make more sense to move Simon.

        At this point, do we have the luxury to worry about a problem we don’t have for ones we do?

    • Part of what you are seeing, especially with Reds’ pitchers is that xFIP is by definition fielding independent. That is to say that if an average defense was behind a pitcher, their expected ERA based on other metrics would be x.xx. The Reds play really good defense and this generally lowers ERA relative to xFIP. Having said that, with Bailey the xFIP seems to skew the other way based on what it’s looking at and how Homer performs in those areas. So, is it really measuring fielding independence? Not really. Anyway, I think as far as FIP and xFIP, they can be a better indication of a pitcher’s expected performance going forward but they still have a long way to go as several pitchers seem to significantly outperform or under-perform the metric, on a consistent basis.

  12. Looked a little like Price had a little “come to Jesus ” moment. I have been wondering lately who was in charge.

  13. 2-1 D-Backs over Cards. Don’t know if it will hold. Weird stuff: a Matt Adams foul ball went into the Cards dugout & hit Wacha’s pitching arm, of all things.

  14. I am not a Price fan but I give him credit for today. That was an impressive and tough call to make in the middle of a game.

    • Isn’t it a bit premature to not be a Price fan? He hasn’t had a full roster since Day 1. I like the way he shakes up the lineup plus we RUN now. Hey, Cozart stole a base today. What a concept!

      • I agree in part. Price hasn’t had enough time on the job to be despised. He has made some good calls and some bonehead calls but that is part of the learning process. On the other hand I never see the DL as an excuse for losing. I don’t fault Price for that though the talent pool comes from the GM so if there is someone to not be a fan of based upon player performance and depth chart… well there you go.

        • Don’t call injuries an excuse, then. It’s crazy to deny that injuries are a factor, often a large factor, in a team’s won-lost record. Yes, all teams suffer injuries, but not all teams suffer them equally. The Reds, to recount, have had their starting catcher, first baseman, center fielder, right fielder, #2 starter, #4 starter, 2 set-up men and closer injured this season, which is only 1/4 old. WJ could scarcely have built a bench to cope with this; probably even the rich teams couldn’t.

  15. So now that Bruce is back, and Votto’s on the DL, we have an overload of OF’ers. Ludwick, Hamilton, Bruce, Schumaker, Heisey, and Bernadina. Yet none of those OF’ers can play 1B. For that we have Soto (ugh), Pena (better but not great option for defense), and Frazier (but then who plays 3B?).

    Isn’t it time to cut bait with Bernadina and bring up the Big Lutz? He’s having a good season hitting the ball, he can spell Ludwick in LF and he can play 1B. Bernadina offers very little now, especially as a 6th OF’er.

    • Soto, Bernadina, Heisey and the way he is going about things Ludwick all appear to be filler material. I think kids picked up off of the street for league minimum could do as well. Heisey has had every chance to perform up and down the lineup but he just can’t hit. That is 4 players on our 25 man roster that probably wouldn’t be playing for any other teams AAA much less their major league roster.

      Keppinger is available and I think that he is going to be paid by the White Sox. He could do nicely for us as a fill in… certainly better than the 4 mentioned above. Heck he would be free too.

      • Heisey is fine as a 4th OF and PH. That’s where he excels. The fact that he can play all three OF positions effectively also helps his case. Heisey would be make most teams roster as a bench bat/back up OF. When he’s pressed into starting duty, he has traditionally struggled. He’s a better PH because he can hit the fastball and relievers have less pitches in their repertoire.

        Soto and Bernadina (and possibly Santiago) really do have no business on any 25-man roster though, and it’s a shame it’s gotten to this point.

      • As HOTTO4VOTTO said, Heisey is a fine 4th or 5th OF to have on a team. He’s a solid PH and can play all three OF positions. He’s decent in CF and above average on both corners. He can also run a little. Heisey also is paid a reasonable salary by MLB standards. I have no problem with Heisey being on the roster but he isn’t a starter, especially over a long period.

        Keppinger was released by the Sox due to poor performance and also apparently off the field issues. To make matters worse, he was coming off of shoulder surgery just like Ludwick. I think bringing him on would be a huge gamble and I honestly don’t think he’d be much help to the Reds. There’s a reason nobody has gone and snatched him up. As he’s a former Red, I’d think they may look into seeing if they can bring him in on a minor league deal but I just don’t know if he can be of any help.

  16. The Reds needed to “weather the storm” without both Votto and Bruce and, by splitting 6 on the road, they did just that.

  17. I loved it that after Span’s single in the 8th, the Nats bunted him to second. He’s a good base stealer, 6 for 6 so far this season, and I don’t think Broxton is especially good at holding runners close. If Span steals second, and then Frandsen moves him to 3rd with a bunt or whatever, Werth’s fly ball ties the game. Of course, with the tying run on 3rd and Werth up, Broxton is smart enough to pitch him differently (that is, around him) but it still could have been big trouble for the Reds.

    Speaking of Broxton, when do we acknowledge that he is healthy (throwing 95 mph heat that he usually locates well) and has been a huge (in more ways than one) positive in the bullpen.

  18. The way Chapman pitched to Espinosa was fun to watch. Of course Espinosa burned him in Game 1, turning on an inside fastball for a double that led to the blown save.
    This time Chapman pitched him backwards, with 2 change ups followed by a slider and then two fastballs. (GameDay called the change ups sliders but was wrong.)

    Chapman also threw a change up (all of them at 87mph) to Moore. I can’t recall his ever throwing more than one change up in a regular season game. He just officially became a 3 pitch pitcher. I don’t want him to fall in love with the change up, just throw it to guys who are cheating on his fast ball (and can hit it that way).

  19. Okay. I know you’ve all been holding your breath for my random thoughts, so here it goes. I missed much of the game yesterday due to my daughter’s softball game. She’s quite a hitter. Nearly killed the opposing SS with a line drive last night. However, she runs like Ludwick (and her father)!

    I don’t know who is to blame (Votto, Jocketty, Medical Staff, combo of all) but it is absolutely inexcusable that the Reds just played six games short handed and now put Votto on the DL. If I were on this team, I’d be all sorts of ticked off.

    I had high hopes for MLB instant replay, but it’s turned into a joke. I’m a homer and obviously biased but it seems the Reds get hosed on these calls on an all too frequent basis.

    Loved the dugout meeting. I commented on another thread that I applaud both Price for doing it and the Reds for responding. Mr. C must have been smiling when he saw that!

  20. —-Man, the Nats defense sure was leaky this series. Just in yesterday’s game, I can’t remember another game where so many balls ricocheted off of the gloves. And if the Reds are telling Pena and Frazier to steal, you know they don’t contain the running game at all.

    —We absolutely need to clear out Bernadina’s locker to make room for Lutz. Not that he’s a savior, but maybe between him and Soto we get some decent platoon production.

    • It was a paradox. On the one hand, they booted fairly easy plays, as you mention. On the other, they made a few spectacular plays (mostly infielders showing range) that robbed the Reds of a couple big hits.

  21. Seems like there are two basic assumptions regarding Simon:
    1. He is a high-ERA and FIP guy who is bound to revert back to “normal”.
    2. He will hit the innings wall soon, based on past years usage.

    I think there is reason to question both these. First, perhaps Jocketty saw a big strong guy with tools that was worth a flyer. Then, Price works on some mechanics and head issues to create a “new”Simon. You throw out the past data ’cause you have a new pitcher, essentially.

    Next, Price talks about Simon as being the “most resilient” pitcher he has seen. Rubber armed, anyone? I hope he is right, he has more experience than most.

    My sense is that Price has been a great asset in improving the Reds pitching performance. What do the numbers tell us?

  22. I’ll elaborate on what I meant about Simon since a couple of you are determined to parse those seven words.

    Alfredo Simon is 33 years old. His remarkable performance so far this season is unlike anything he’s ever done before. Any time a professional baseball player is performing notably better at age 33 than he ever has before it is, by definition, “defying the odds.”

    Further, Simon’s underlying numbers indicate that his ERA is unlikely to be sustained.

    His strikeout rate is incompatible with sustained run suppression. Out of the 107 major league starting pitchers with enough innings to qualify for league awards, he is in the bottom 10% in K/9 and the bottom 20% of K%. If you want to be the contrarian to say there’s no link between strikeouts and success at preventing runs, go for it. All the research is on the other side of that question. Yes, there are certainly exceptions to the rule. Another way of saying that is that certain pitchers – wait for it – defy the odds.

    Simon has benefitted from enormous luck so far. His BABIP is .216, which is well below league average and his own career numbers. He has a strand-rate of over 90% which is way above league average.

    Yes, Alfredo Simon has pitched really well. Whether that’s Bryan Price, the fountain of youth, a hot streak or just plain luck, you can’t deny that he has given up fewer runs than pitchers should who pitch the way he has and that his performance has been surprising.

    The point here is simple. You can look at how Simon has pitched so far this year, ignore all the research, and assume he’s going to keep pitching this way. Or you can look at how he’s pitched, be extremely grateful for this run while Latos is gone, but suspect that he’s unlikely to continue doing something he’s never done before. In my opinion, the Reds would be prudent to be in the latter camp.

  23. Why not ride the horse while he’s so lucky, he’s winning races? What about accountability, wouldn’t this be a great spot for Price to make a statement to wither Tony or Homer?. He has outperformed his xFIP for 2-1/4 seasons now, why couldn’t this continue? Is he the same picture that was in Baltimore? Could a light have went off? Is the xFIP formula not capturing a factor(s) that is crucial to providing accurately regarding Simon? I think it would very prudent, if I may say wise, to let him continue. What does it hurt? If he blows up is there a rule that states he can’t be sent to the pen at that point? A lot of questions you’re not answering.

    • A lot of questions you’re not answering…..

      Starting with does one run a real team of real humans like it were a fantasy team.

      • You run the team by understanding all the information that’s available, don’t you? Or do you ignore it?

        • Yes but if the information (stats) is not presenting the end results in a dependable manner, I have a problem. I’m a businessman and have been nearly my whole life and you can’t run a business like that. I’m seeing a major hole here. The only thing i know that matters is that xFIP has been inaccurate for Alfredo Simon since the inception of the 2012 season and it is consistent. In this case, it is garbage and has the burden of proof .

          If you came to my office and you said “Charlotte, Simon can’t keep it up and I’m basing it off xFIP”, the first thing I’m going to look at is how helpful has xFIP been evaluating Simon’s real results. If you worked for me, I’d say go back and look at the premises of the formula because it’s not working. Until you can up with something better, Simon starts – we will have to see where the Reds come down on this.

          The longevity thing is easy to solve. If he falls off a cliff, he is a reliever again. He is outperforming HB by a mile and is far more valuable a starting pitcher than Tony Cingrani. If it can be coherently argued, I’m listening but I have yet to hear it.

        • 1. xFIP has been proven to be more accurate of a predictor overall of future ERA than past ERA. Period. Period.

          2. In the specific case of Alfredo Simon, I went through in great detail (which I’m going to quit doing if you are just going to ignore it) why xFIP varied from his ERA. It was for a radically different reason in 2012 compared to 2013 compared to 2014. That indicates you cant rely on the xFIP/ERA variance to continue.

          3. If I came to your office and said “I’m basing it on xFIP” and that’s all, you should fire me. And if you only looked at xFIP, well, you should be fired as well. Unless you were the owner, I guess. Yes, you’d look at the numbers that explain the xFIP/ERA variance for Simon (BABIP, LOB% and HR/FB) and you’d say, “Oh, now I see why there has been a variance.” Pitchers can get lucky from one year to the next in different ways. Especially relievers, whose ERA numbers are even more unreliable because of small innings numbers.

          4. If he falls off a cliff – and gets hurt, which happens occasionally when one falls off a cliff, or may even be the reason one falls off a cliff – and can’t pitch the rest of the year or not effectively, then you’ve foolishly (from a business standpoint) tried to maximize your profits for one month at the expense of the rest of the year.

        • Short version of the Cingrani/Bailey issue:

          1. The Reds have long term investments in both those pitchers. Demotion to the bullpen would short circuit those investments. See Chapman, Aroldis. The idea of demoting Homer Bailey, an established starting pitcher because of a few bad starts is particularly idiotic.

          2. Simon’s “performance” is a bit of a mirage. See all the words I’ve typed about that already. The fact that you don’t see the obvious connection between the two conversations leaves me doubtful that you’ll be able to judge the “coherence” of any other part of this argument. Simon has not been “outperforming” Bailey or Cingrani by the stats you should be looking at. See all the words I’ve typed about that already, too.

          3. Simon is not a long-term viable starting pitcher because he has been a relief pitcher. I realize he’s Mr. Resilient. He’ll be that until he suddenly isn’t. Then, you’ve lost that arm for the rest of the year. You’ll turn around and say what idiot blew out the arm of one of our bullpen stalwarts and then realize it was you.

        • Information comes in lots of different shapes and forms. Personally, I view the state of sabremetrics as being such that the so called “advanced” ratios provide an indication of likely predisposition but are not to be trusted as final determining indicators. It is like chaos theory and the weather. The models may say nothing bad is going to happen but if you look out the window and see a supercell spinning up are you going to believe the models or your eyes (and BTW I think the weather forecasting models are more advance at what they do than sabremetrics are at defining what happens on a baseball field)?

          In the situation being discussed here, I would trust what I see happening every 5th day and ride Simon until it is clear he is fading. A major test for me is that the numerical indicators on Latos and Cingrani do not clearly show either is likely to do better than Simon has done over the last going on two months. My decision is based on the stipulation that the Reds are trying to win as many games as possible and make the playoffs. If that no longer remains primary stipulation for making the decision, then clearly one goes with both the younger guys ahead of Simon.

        • Regarding trusting your eyes – it depends on what your eyes are looking at. If your eyes are looking at how many runs he’s given up, well, that’s the wrong thing for your eyes to be focused on. If your eyes are looking at strikeouts, swings and misses, whether pitchers have been lucky with balls in play, runners left on base (those are *all* things your eyes could be looking at), well your eyes might be telling you something else.

          I guess my point is, this isn’t about “eyes” vs. “stats” – you just frame it that way to reduce the dissonance you face when confronted with the stats that don’t square with what your eyes are focused on. It’s about what your “eyes” should be studying. And runs allowed is a poor focus point.

        • I’m looking among other things such as at the runs not allowed in situations where they often are allowed, for instance, the two big strikeouts in Phillie, bottom of the 2nd in Washington, etc.

          Perhaps here is being inordinately lucky; perhaps Simon does something differently when he is in a spot, But the point is he escapes with little or no damage and on few enough pitches to take games almost to the 7th inning on average.

    • The issue of Cingrani/Bailey and accountability is an entirely separate question. I was explaining what I meant by “defying odds” not claiming to answer every question that has been asked about Simon here in the past few days.

      Yes, Simon *is* a different pitcher than he was in Baltimore. Without question. Does that mean he’s a 2.50 ERA starting pitcher, all of a sudden? No.

      Your use of xFIP is a classic example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing sometimes. There is nothing consistent about Simon’s ability to outperform his xFIP for 2+ year. You have to look at the underlying numbers. In 2012, his ERA outperformed his xFIP because his home run rate was tiny (4.3%). Meanwhile, his BABIP was .337. In 2013, his home run rate normalized (8.6%) but this time his BABIP was way low (.236). This year, his home run rate is high (12.5%).

      So saying he outperformed his xFIP consistently over the past two years, is superficial. He did it for entirely different reasons. It’s not like he developed a special sauce since leaving Baltimore. This year, his luck is BABIP and LOB% so far. Yet another new combination. That’s how you know it wasn’t a “light going off” because his ERA performance is based on different factors each year, not one. You can’t get hung up on just xFIP because it has different components. You have to look and see what’s going on underneath the hood.

      Could it continue, you ask? Sure. Is it likely. Absolutely not.

      What does it hurt? If you use up Alfredo Simon’s effective innings in the first two months of the season, you don’t have his valuable arm left for the rest of the year. That’s the risk. If you push him to the point where he gets hurt, that’s a huge cost. His arm is needed and extremely valuable in the bullpen.

      • Simon has pitched effective, but, he is not in the Reds long term plan as a starter. Simon should go back to the pen when/if Latos returns.

        The Reds are going to have decisions to make at starting pitcher in regards to the contracts of Leake, Cueto, and Latos. Moving Bailey or Cingrani to the bullpen does not help with those decisions. Homer is not going to the bullpen, that is certain.

        Simon’s performance is similar to Harang for Atlanta. The tough decision for a team is how long do you ride the outlier performance. You know if will regress badly at some point.

        • Agree 100% that knowing when Simon is fading is key. I think Latos to the rotation when he has shown over a number of rehab starts he is ready is a no brainer. However he needs to show results at AAA, not simply “getting in the work”.

          Cingrani is another animal. He has never put together two months in an MLB rotation that matches what Simon has done. He has repeatedly shown durability issues that have plagued keeping him in the rotation. His innings per start are under 6 which means he burdens the pen. On top of these, CIngrani has the background of being a reliever. Until I see sustained deterioration in Simon as a starter, I give him the nod over Cingrani, if the club is contending for a playoff spot.

          Also based on what Simon did for the Reds over two seasons out of the pen versus what he did before he came to the Reds, I don’t think it is a lock that he “regresses badly”. What is going to happen (for sure) is that he is going to hit a wall physically at some point and need to be taken down.

      • This year, his luck is BABIP and LOB% so far.

        Do you not think that the pitcher has a little bit of control over his BABIP? I’m from the camp that think he most definitely does. When Simon throws his fastball with sink/movement and the batter grounds out to SS….then yes he does have some control. When Homer throws his straight fastball with no movement or location, and the batter hits it into the 8th row,…then again, the pitcher has a lot (not all, or maybe not even most…I would say a majority) of control of his BABIP.
        All balls put into play are not equal.

        • So how do you explain Simon’s BABIP being a good 70 points lower than his career average? You’re not wrong at all, which accounts for the standard normal range of pitchers’ BABIP, but no one has the magic to account for a .218. It’s going to come up by a lot, sooner than later.

        • See, this is a perfect example of “eyes” vs. “stats.” VaRedsFan wants pitchers to throw ground balls. His eyes tell him that Simon does a better job of that. Well, Homer Bailey’s ground ball rate this year is 50.9% and Alfredo Simon’s ground ball rate is 45.5%.

          Aside from that, if pitchers have control over their BABIP, please explain how in 2012, Alfredo Simon’s BABIP was .327 but in 2013 it was .236. And be careful before you say he had “more control” in 2013, because his ground ball rate was MUCH lower in 2012 and his ERA nearly the same.

        • Steve, you wrote a nice article a few days ago about Homer’s control of his fastball. So in effect, the balls in play were weakly hit or not “handled” by the hitters. This is what Simon has been doing in MOST of his starts. The command you spoke of is what CAUSED the low BABIP. The same as Simon’s command is causing his low avg.
          I’ll say again…not all balls put in play are equal.

        • The main benefit of Homer’s fastball control was striking out hitters at important times. That stops balls from being put in play and gives the pitcher complete control over the outcome. That’s why Homer’s xFIP is lower than Simon’s. New data does show that higher fastball velocity might reduce the quality of contact a bit, but the effect is marginal. The statistic SIERA takes that into account. Simon’s BABIP is so low right now there is no way it can be attributed to anything that he’s doing different. And if he is pitching better, why isn’t it showing up in strikeout rates (down a lot), swinging strikes (down), fastball velocity (down) no improvement in ground ball/line drive rates, etc. The story that he’s pitching better than before just isn’t backed up by any underlying measures. I don’t know why people are so committed to the fantasy that all of a sudden at age 33, he’s Bob Gibson, instead of just accepting the *fact* that he’s Alfredo Simon benefitting from luck. Either way, he plays for the Reds and we cheer for it to go on. It’s not like those of us who say it’s more luck want him to fail. We just hope people (the Reds, mainly) see the situation for what it really is.

        • What Steve said. I don’t take FIP as gospel, but when you take a broad look at all of Simon’s numbers this year it’s hard to attribute his performance in relation to his career performance to much more than luck. And I’ll take it. It’s literally the only good luck this team has had this year. Even Cueto’s insanely low BABIP has been squandered by timely comas from the offense more often than not.

    • Hard to get a good gauge of FIP with such a limited inning count the past couple years. Which is obviously the bigger point – he’s just never done this starting thing very well for very long. His SO% is horrible and his GB% is pretty bad. He currently has the 2nd lowest BABIP in baseball behind Johnny Cueto at .216 so he has been VERY lucky. Throw in a likely fatiguing arm with the weather warming up in a small ballpark and things could go south for Simon REAL fast. I don’t think you have to rush back Latos because Simon should be fine for another few starts at least. You’re not making any move with Homer – he’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from Simon in terms of luck. His xFIP is actually a very respectable 3.64. You could make an argument that Cingrani might ultimately be better off as a reliever, but it’s too soon to give up on him and he doesn’t have anything else to prove in AAA so you need him starting ballgames at this level to figure out if he can be a cornerstone moving forward.

  24. I like the idea of bringing back Keppinger who was just released by the White Sox. He’s a versatile player and can play all 4 infield positions and also in 2012, he slashed .325/.367/.439. Got to be an upgrade over any of the bench bats (Santiago). Your thoughts?

    • I said it above but basically, Keppinger has been released to to ineffectiveness and also apparently some off-field issues. He represents a defensive liability at all the defensive positions except 1B and he’s a huge defensive liability at SS. He is coming off of shoulder surgery as well. He had a wonderful year in 2012 and his bat has pretty much always played until recently. It isn’t a great bat aside from perhaps that 2012 year though. I think if the Reds could get him in on a minor league deal then perhaps they should. I don’t think it’s in the Reds’ best interest to bring him in on an MLB deal though. There is no guarantee he’d be better than Santiago. He may hit better than Santiago but even that isn’t a given considering the shoulder surgery.

  25. Steve, your data on BABIP and K% are compelling. Really not trying to parse words, just trying to build some positive faith in our new Skipper. I’ll withhold the big blue cape with the red S for now…

    • Hey, I’m all in favor of faith in Price. I’ve liked a lot about what I’ve seen from him so far. I’m extremely optimistic about him. The teams struggles are about 95% Jocketty and 5% Price in my opinion. (Bracketing off all the player responsibility, which is the highest component, of course) Price has handled Simon perfectly. My caution to the Redleg Nation is just not to expect Simon to keep up this pace. He’s defying the odds.

      • The one factor that I don’t know how to categorize or catalog or interpret is the movement Simon has on his pitches. That movement seems to ba accounting for his success this season since the standard data doesn’t account for his success outside of luck. If the catcher can’t even keep track of a pitch, the batter must be at a significant disadvantage facing Simon right now. The odd factor regarding the movement on Simon’s pitches is his BB% is down and below league average. Unlike Cueto, who paints the black, is a ground ball machine and reaches back for another level when needed, I get the impression that Simon just throws the ball down the middle of the plate and even he doesn’t know where it will go from that point. If it doesn’t move significantly, the batter mashes the pitch, which would explain his dramtically increase HR%, but more often than not, the movement is there.

        • Like this analysis, and it is supported by the comments of Mesoraco and Welsh after the game, about “just catching the ball and throwing it back”, and “making up pitches”. Price even said he wasn’t sure what Simon was throwing.

      • Goodness gracious. Is Jocketty responsible for the injuries? About 98.9% of this team’s issues come from the fact that they’re closer to a MASH unit than a pro baseball team. Remember – PATIENCE.

        • Jocketty responsible for injuries? No. Jocketty responsible for organization depth? Yes. I consider it a bad job by the GM when the organizational depth chart for 1B goes 1. Votto, 2. Soto. Don’t you?

        • Soto is here because Hannahan among many others isn’t. I just don’t know how deep you can realistically expect the organization to be. There have been injuries in the minors too. Sometimes you just can’t plan your way out of things or otherwise make it so.

        • When there isn’t a true non-pitching prospect in AAA other than Barnhart (and possibly LaMarre if he ever gets healthy again) then that is an issue. AAA is filled with organizational filler and not much else. Several guys are repeating levels (even after having good years) while we fill the upper minors with re-treads. Finally Lutz has moved up. Although the more logical, and helpful, move would have been to call him up the Reds instead of playing shorthanded the entire road trip. Yorman may be the closest legit prospect we have to making the show, and he just put together his first solid season in full season ball last year.

          When you have no prospects close, and no bench to help stem the tide during injury stints, then you have some organizational issues with the management of prospects/players.

  26. I am in agreement with Charlotte, why not ride him like he is Secretariat? Let Price take the crop out when needed. Put Cingrani in the bullpen. Then in late July trade Simon off to a team looking for a SP. Might get a nice prospect in return. Let them worry about innings. Then move Cingrani into the rotation for the rest of the season. Isn’t Simon eligible for free agency after 2015, the same time as Leake, Latos, and Cueto? That might be very bad to have 4/5 of the rotation come up at the same time, if Simon is kept as a SP.

    • If I’m Price I’m much more concerned about Cingrani’s development than maximizing Simon’s likely limited potential as a starter. Given all of the contracts we’re going to have to negotiate in the next few years, we need to know if Cingrani can be a reliable starting pitcher. And hopefully a front of the rotation one. He’s the only starter we have now under cheap team control for a good amount of time. Stephenson is still an unknown but even if he turns into an ace you still have to know what you have in Cingrani hopefully by the end of this year. He’s been shuffled around enough. He needs stability and the organization needs to see if he can do it. In my opinion his chances are about 50/50 but there isn’t enough information yet.

      • I agree with this. The Reds to develop Cingrani. 3/5 of the rotation has contract’s up shortly and will likely need a team controlled Cingrani.
        Who knows if Latos will even be back in the near future. May need Simon to continue to start for awhile.

        • Good point. Given the recent history, I will believe Latos is back the mintue after he’s thrown his first pitch in a big league game.

      • If I’m Price, I’m more concerned with keeping my job. If he isn’t, he sure should be. Show my a coach/manger where winning is not the focus and I’ll show you a guy who should be in another profession.

        When and if you are out of the hunt, play the young guys that you think are the future. I pray to God that Price plays like he has to win now. Not a year from now or I want another manager. If Homer is still stinking when Latos returns, he should go to the pen. He needs to know that how he is pitching is unacceptable. No way he should he be rewarded for a less than a mediocre performance. at the expense of a guy that is lights out.

        Chew on this:
        Simon is “11th” in all of baseball in ERA out “107” qualifiers. Homer is “102”. You can talk to me until you are blue in the face that is the stats that I should be looking at, that matter, Simon is there better this year in the one that counts – actual runs. I’m sorry, I want Homer to succeed but the guy is pitching like horse manure and all the perfume in the world can’t cover that up.

        “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”
        ― Mark Twain

        • Totally slaughtered the sentence:

          “it is the the stats that matter I should be looking at. Simon is far better in the one that counts – actual runs.” My mind is running faster than my fingers – sorry.

          Please don’t explain xFIP to me again it is totally worthless when evaluating Alfredo Simon or Homer Bailey.

        • Simon has performed better than Homer, yes, but I know you’re smart enough to recognize that you can’t expect that trend to continue indefinitely. You have to understand that his BABIP is going to correct itself. He doesn’t strike out nearly enough batters to keep his ERA nearly as low as it is right now. FIP isn’t perfect, god knows i’ve been involved in those conversations on this site, but you can’t just throw it out entirely. You have to take it in context and the context here is that Alfredo Simon has had a remarkable run but that the odds are against that continuing much longer. Like really really really against it. So if Price is smart, he’s weighing those odds against both the short and long term goals of the team. Cingrani is a vital piece of his pitching staff. Simon is a guy who probably won’t be here next year. When Latos is healthy, the 5 best proven starting pitchers on the club are Cueto, Latos, Homer, Leake, Cingrani in that order. Simon has started a total of THREE more games in his career than Tony Cingrani. In those games he has an ERA of 4.16. Cingrani has a career starting ERA of 3.10. So throw out the advanced numbers if you want, but in a very similar sample size Cingrani has been a better starting pitcher and has more long term value to the team.

        • As far as today, or more precisely the day Latos returns, I want the best five starters as of that “day” starting, period. I don’t give a rat’s behind what Alfredo Simon did as a starter 5 years ago. I care what is going on right “now”. Today I’m not playing for the “future” but playing for “this day”. To “win now”. Who gives us the best chance “today”? We can work on the “future” when we are out of contention and if, at that time, Simon is still lights out; get a very nice return in a trade with a contender.

          When we are in the middle of a playoff race, I’m not concerned with Homer or Tony’s development. Simon shouldn’t be in the Reds plans in 2015 anyway but he is a very valuable piece right now, much more valuable than Bailey or Cingrani. That is not the case in the “future” but it is right “now”.

          Never, ever said I expect Simon’s trend to continue indefinitely. It could all blow up tomorrow, how am I or you to know? But if you had to win the big game tomorrow, would you pick HB or TC over Simon? I can’t make it any clearer, I’m sorry.

        • In a big game tomorrow I would absolutely pick Homer Bailey over Alfredo Simon. In a heartbeat. Homer has pitched in big games and he’s handled pressure. Simon is a time bomb, statistically speaking. Now I might give you that I would take Simon over Cingrani in a big game tomorrow, but if we’re talking hypothetical playoff game then both of those guys are in the bullpen anyway.

        • Fair enough. Homer has a big game tomorrow night and we’ll see how he does.

        • I would take Simon over Homer tomorrow. Not in the long run, but I would tomorrow.

        • Annapolis, I’d love to play poker with you sometime. Homer’s the safer bet. Simon is chasing the inside straight.

      • Agree 100% on what needs to be done with Cingrani. I don’t think he’s anything special either. It’s just the Reds need to know what he can or can’t do. Is he a back-of-the-rotation starter? A middle-of the rotation starter? Top? Swing-man? Bullpen arm? The Reds need to let him show what he can or can’t do.

  27. I agree that Simon probably won’t be able to sustain this pace. Heck, Nolan Ryan would have a hard time doing this. I still say to use him now and put Cigranni in the pen. If/when he falters, or Cigranni pitches lights out, deal with the issue then. Given Simon’s issues outside the lines, I don’t think we can get a whole lot out of him anyway. And a starter is much more valuable then a reliever. Work him hard now in the rotation as long as he is viable there and move him to the bullpen. I think his body type is very strong and durable and he can handle the load. I think any ineffectiveness he may demonstrate will come from making two or three trips around the league and his pitches not breaking as sharply. I don’t think it would be from eating innings.

  28. I’m amazed that professional broadcasters like the Reds TV guys could watch Price send up Bernadina and then Schumaker in the 9th inning of a 1 run game to face a LHP, without at least a brief discussion of why that might be happening. (For that matter they didn’t speculate as to why Bernadina was batting in the bottom of the 8th of a 1 run game before the LHP was brought in.). We had Bruce and Ludwick on the bench.

    Ludwick is so injured he can’t bat? Is Schumaker hurt, so he could pinch hit but not play the field as a replacement for Bernadina? Could Bruce have batted but Schumaker couldn’t then play the field in the 9th? It sure looked like we were playing with Ludwick unavailable, Bruce only available in the 19th inning, and possibly Schumaker unavailable to play the field. Whatever the reasons, batting Bernadina and Schumaker in that situation against a LH reliever shouldn’t just pass by the announcing team with no comment.

    • Maybe we should start a pool. If Lutz shows up in CIncy for the Cards series, will it be for Bernadino or Ludwick??????

    • If you’re of the Leo Mazzone mindset, you might say that part of the problem with pitcher injuries are they are training too much and pitching too little. Mazzone was a big proponent of letting pitchers work often and on regular schedules with throwing in between starts. He believed that pitch-counts weren’t that important but placed more emphasis on pitches thrown under duress. I am not sure I agree with that, especially when it comes to young arms but I do agree with pitchers getting regular work and do believe that they are over-training. There are more guys having UCL replacements because there are more guys pitching at the edge of human performance. All the training has led to higher and higher velocities but also higher instances of injury. I don’t know if a 6-man rotation solves that.

  29. One factor to consider, is that Simon is entering his 3rd year of arbitration after this season. Simon makes a very reasonable $1.5MM this season as a key bullpen arm, but his agent is not going to present Simon as a relief pitcher after this season. The Reds are going to have to pay Simon as a starter coming off a VERY strong season and entering his 3rd year of arbitration. That will be an expensive contract for 2015 and Simon is a FA in 2016. At age 34 next year, Simon is looking at his only chance at a BIG payday within next year+. I don’t know if the Reds can afford to keep Simon in 2015, especially if one or two of the young pitchers look ready to fill the 6th & 7th starter roles if needed. The Reds don’t often look to trade players at peak value, but I think the Reds must at least consider this option for Simon.

  30. I finally saw a leader of this team . There is more to this team than talent , bats , and balls . There is heart , soul , and purpose. Since no one on the roster can pull it out of the others Bryan stepped up. Next one up please.

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