Titanic Struggle Recap

Clock strikes midnight

Final R H E
  Cincinnati Reds  (22-28)
3 8 0
  Los Angeles Dodgers  (29-24)
6 8 0
 W:  Greinke (8-1)     L: Simon (6-3)
 Box Score |   Play-by-Play    |   Photos    |    Depth Chart   |   FanGraphs Win Probability

Relentlessness

Made mismatch look sorta respectable.

Positives

Three Reds bench players started and accounted for four of their hits. Skip Schumaker singled in the first inning, Donald Lutz doubled in the fifth and singled in the seventh and Roger Bernadina drove in the Reds only run with a single. Chris Heisey does what Chris Heisey does when he gets a hit – he doubled into the left field corner. Lutz, in his first start also executed a perfect wipe-out slide against Dee Gordon breaking up a double play.

Logan Ondrusek pitched 2.1 shutout innings, beginning with working out of Alfredo Simon’s bases loaded jam in the fourth inning. The Dodgers hit him hard a few times, but the big guy didn’t give up any runs.

With one swing of Devin Mesoraco’s mighty bat, Zack Greinke’s streak of 22 consecutive starts giving up two earned runs or less came to a sudden end. The last team to accomplish that off the Dodger right-hander? Your Cincinnati Reds, last July 25 in Dodger Stadium.

J.J. Hoover threw his eighth consecutive shutout inning, with ten strikeouts over that stretch. Time for another narrative.

Negatives

Alfredo Simon was having a great time at the party until the fourth inning when he looked up at the clock and noticed his career pitching numbers. Simon lost more than a glass slipper at the ball (game), giving up five earned runs. That’s what pitching lines look like when you groove fastballs, walk four hitters, only strike out two and the balls put in play fall for hits a normal rate. Mat Latos didn’t get back quite fast enough.

The Reds lead-off hitter, after going 0-for-4, is now hitting .245/.287/.335. He had two one-pitch at bats, which isn’t the way you get Zack Greinke out of the game. In 2009, Dusty Baker gave Willy Taveras 437 at bats as lead off hitter to produce .240/.275/.285 in one of the all-time worst seasons for a lead-off hitter. How many plate appearances will Bryan Price commit to this failing experiment? Just bat him lower in the order, please. Why is every other hitter in the batting order able to move around except precious Billy Hamilton?

The Dodgers continue to take extra bases  at will on the Reds outfield.

Not so random thoughts

I hope Prince Charming’s quad muscle takes a turn for the better in the next few days.

In between his home run tonight and going 4-for-4 in Philadelphia, Devin Mesoraco had managed only 2 hits and one walk in his last thirty plate appearances. That’s an OBP of .100 and a batting average of .068. We knew he would never sustain a batting average over .400 and the Law of Averages is nowhere near through with him – the catcher is still hitting .361/.407/.675.

148 thoughts on “Clock strikes midnight

  1. This team simply cannot put a complete game together.

    Tonight, they break Greinke’s streak. Even the Logan Ondrusek goes well. And Simon gives up 5 ER. It’s pretty unreal. Snakebit. Every, single, night.

  2. I understand the payroll difference, but when Crawford got hurt the Dodgers had to make the choice to replace him with Kemp or Van Slyke. Meanwhile, Joey goes down and we forgot to have someone in place who could play first base. We have a guy that did it once two years ago. The guys we keep on the bench solely as defensive replacements can’t play defense where we need it the most. There’s just something not right with that picture.

    • You put your finger on it. It’s mostly payroll. The Reds roster was pathetically thin to begin the year, but most teams outside the top few spenders face the same situation. That said, it’s also roster construction, too – the choices of backup players.

      • Payroll aside, I found this point instructive as well:

        “The guys we keep on the bench solely as defensive replacements can’t play defense where we need it the most.”

        God my head hurts.

  3. As hard as it is to believe the Reds actually had some genuine golden opportunities to not only make a game of it, but actually win the game. Considering the lineup, and players playing out of position, the fact they had real opportunities to win the game is nothing short of amazing. But unfortunately when coming close is the best you can hope for you won’t be winning any championship titles of any kind anytime soon.

    • I agree. I was sitting there watching Thom and Chris idle away the 7th inning (i turn the volume down and read the CC) as Cozart was batting and all along thinking that the Reds were a gap shot away from being game on. Why was Bernadina allowed to make the last out there when Peña could have come up? Not to mention giving away the last out of the 6th with Ondro

  4. This team isn’t constructed well at all. Way to much payroll locked up into a few players and bad contracts/extensions as well. We have no RH power bat, someone that can stabilize the offense and hit in the middle of the order and play LF. Santiago, Bernadina, and Ondrusek have no business on a contender. Ludwick is a bench player, not a starter. I would stick Lutz in LF vs RH pitching for the next 2 weeks and see what you got. DFA Bernadina when Votto gets back. Our BP is awful.

    • Frazier is RH and hits for power, as does Mesoraco. I don’t get this RH Power Bat meme. We don’t have much power on this team right now period, but what we do have is RH.

    • That would be June 28 thru July 8, 2012. 11 game west coast trip finished 6-5.
      2-2 @ SF
      1-2 @ LA
      3-1 @ SD
      That was also the same year the the Reds went on that amazing 10 game winning streak that had Marty B getting his hair cut. What a night that was!

  5. Steve, it seems you are being a bit rough on Hamilton. Take away the first ten games that he batted in, and the guy is hitting .297 and slugging .334. The kid is a rookie for Christ’s sake.

    • Steve has an irrational hate of BHam and an irrational love of Bailey. But, that’s part if being a fan. Irrational love and hate of your teams players.

      • You think it is “irrational” to suggest that a player with a .287 on base percentage and no power maybe shouldn’t be getting the most at bats?

    • Yeah, that’s been his M.O. on the kid while giving “Prince Charming” all the excuses. Cherry picking stats and bashing a rookie is certainly the way to go. There, you got the scapegoat for this mess.

    • The point is, his OBP (even minus those first 10 games) is .318. That’s not terrible for a rookie… but it’s also not what you want from your leadoff hitter. To put that in perspective, Ryan Ludwick’s OBP (without removing his 10 worst games) is .325. Ryan Ludwick is more likely to get on base this year than Billy Hamilton.

      Those of us in the supposed “anti-Hamilton” camp aren’t opposed to Hamilton on the team. His defense has been plus, his bat has been better than most of us feared, and he’s generally been a reliable, slightly-better-than-average Major Leaguer. However, we would like to see him do his development time in a lower leverage position than leadoff. Personally, I’d love to see him bat 9th with the pitcher 8th; but I’d take him anywhere below 5. Lineup construction is worth 1-2 Wins per year, so it really isn’t that big of a deal… but giving the most at bats to a guy who makes an out more than 70% of the time when you could have a guy like Todd Frazier (even though he’s not the classic leadoff guy) leading off with his .340 OBP and a solid chance to double or HR to lead off the game sounds better.

      That’s the argument that I think Steve, and the rest of us who aren’t riding the BHam-wagon, are making.

      • The thing is the Reds are terrible constructed. If you put Frazier- who’s not an ideal leadoff hitter anyway- you lose your best RBI and RH power source in the middle. IMO, this season is lost and should be one to develop the young ones,(BHam, Lutz,), trade/release dead weight and plan ahead for next season.

        • Each day that this continues just affirms, in my eyes, we are headed in this direction. At some point; Ludwick, Schu, Pena, & Heisey need to loose nearly all PT to the new guys to see what the youngsters can bring to the table and get valuable MLB PT. If Bruce and Votto are not 100%, they should be DL’d until such time. The 2014 Reds will not be in the Playoff mix.

          Some folks are going to resist the coming rebuild effort but there really is no other good choice for this team. Old, slow and overpaid is no way for a team to go through life!

      • Zag, you are not in any Hamilton camp as you are willing to look at both sides when making an evaluation and give him the “rookie” consideration. Let me ask you this: for your example, in 1000 PA’s Ludwick gets on-base “7” more times than BHam. All other factors considered (speed ie base running), who do you think has greater value to the team’s offense?

        • “in any Hamilton “hate” camp”. For clarification, since you probably can’t read my mind; at least not yet.

        • My point is, not that Hamilton is worse than Ludwick, but that we’re all talking about how terrible Ludwick has been, and yet he’s still on base more often than Hamilton. If you treat Ludwick the same as Hamilton and throw out a streak of 10 bad games, Ludwick’s OBP jumps to .345. I get that it’s different skill sets and we’re complaining about Ludwick not having power. But when your “power” guy is getting on base at a better clip than your single-then-speed guy, it’s hard to make the case that your singles guy is worthy of leading off.

      • The reason you still bat Hamilton at leadoff is because he creates runs at a drastically higher rate than a station to station player with a higher OBP. I thought we covered this already!

        • We did. In 2009. Taveras = havoc. In 2008, Corey Patterson = havoc. Same argument for the same type of lead off hitter.

        • Except he doesn’t?

          Phillips, arguably the slowest runner on the team, has scored 16 runs versus 20 for Billy Hamilton. It’s not like BP is setting the world on fire with his hitting/on base skills either…

          You place Ryan Ludwick up at the top of the order, him and Billy are going to have similar run totals despite Hamilton’s baserunning prowess. .

        • CP, you are really struggling here. Billy has scored 20 runs in 170 PA this gives a scoring rate of 8.5/PA. Phillips 16 runs in 208 PA, rate = 13/PA.

          I know you can do better and so do you. This is where some people get the idea of “Hamilton Haters”. I know you not one and I don’t think such a person exists.

    • Regardless of his average during that span and his slugging percentage, Hamilton is still getting a little overmatched. I think it would benefit to move him a little down in the order, maybe even as a temporary experiment.

      • I agree with the “down time” but we have no other real option at Lead-off exists. I would seriously give him the rest of the road trip off and tell him once back home, he goes right back in the Lead-off spot. For a very large part of the season, he has been very good (4/9-5/21) .288/.323/.390 but is having his first real slump since the first week of the season. Seems he is pressing and needs some bench time to reflect and just watch for a little bit. Just one man’s opinion.

        The Billy, I expect to see, sooner than later, was the one between 4/24 and 5/15. He did not K in 50 plate appearances and carried this line: .316/.366/..553. After the streak was over, this is his line: .209/.255.233. He needs to find that approach he had during the no-K, O-K streak.

        Have not lost even a tiny bit confidence in the kid but he is a rookie and he will have to go through the learning curve.

    • WHy not just take away every AB where he didn’t get a hit? Then he’s batting 1.000! Even better.

    • I don’t always agree with Steve. In fact, I disagree with him as much as I agree with him. I would like to point out that all he said above is that Hamilton should be lowered in the order. I agree. Has Hamilton shown improvement? Yes he has, but he’s still making too many quick outs and he still isn’t a particularly productive leadoff hitter. Steve isn’t saying send him down, he just has been advocating that he shouldn’t be hitting leadoff.

  6. Recently, Heisey had SF to deep right, missed HR by inches to left, advanced runner with ground ball to 2b and has WAR of 1.0. Still, I acknowledge he is underperforming.

    • Really makes me question the value of WAR. According to BR it’s almost entirely defensive. He has a dWAR of 0.7 and an oWAR of 0.2. But he has an OPS+ of 80 which means he’s a pretty solidly below average hitter…So how does he have a positive oWAR? My only guess is his 5 SB’s are inflating that. As for dWAR, Chris Heisey is a perfectly fine defensive outfielder, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him make any plays I wouldn’t expect 99% of healthy major league outfielders make. Who exactly are the replacement players he is better than in the field? For reference, Phillips finished last year with a 0.4 dWAR. It’s adjusted for position, but you’re telling me Chris Hesisey is a better defensive OF compared to the rest of the league than Brandon Phillips was a better defensive 2B last year when he won his third Gold Glove?

      • I agree you should question WAR, xFIP, and FIP, at the very least. IMO, they have value but need to be scrutinized for accuracy and not accepted at face value. Heisey is a very good example. Greinke’s FIP is over 3, is there anyone here that believes he will finish with an ERA over 3?? Seriously.

        • I’ve learned a lot about FIP this season mostly through the very interesting conversations on this site. There’s absolutely no reason to discount it, but there’s also no reason to look at it as simply “what a pitcher’s ERA should be.” It is, more than a lot of statistics, one that needs to be viewed over a period of seasons for any given pitcher. FIP and ERA almost never align for any given pitcher in any given season. But the differentials are usually fairly consistent. Meaning that FIP undervalues some guys and overvalues others, but it does it consistently for those guys over the course of their careers. As soon as you realize which side of the fence a guy is on then FIP can be very valuable. Cueto, for instance, is consistently undervalued in FIP and when you break it down it shows you that Cueto is a guy who relies on ground balls instead of K’s to get guys out – and he’s consistently great at it. While ERA fluctuates start to start because of some inherent factors of luck, you can pretty much always look at Cueto’s xFIP and lop off half a point and be fairly certain that’s where he’s going to end the year.

        • Eric, thanks for making my point: they are valuable but need scrutiny. I would also looking at % difference than a mere number like .50 ERA difference. Just a suggestion.

      • In WAR calculations, a replacement player is pretty much a minor-league call-up. So, having a negative WAR doesn’t mean that you’re below the average MLB player but you’re likely below a minor-league player who was called up as a replacement. Having a positive WAR essentially says that player A is better than a player who would be called up from the minor leagues to replace in.

        No single stat can tell you the whole story and where people fall into a trap is when they try to use a stat like WAR as their sole basis for player evaluation. It just doesn’t work that way. Hopefully, my explanation helps your understanding of what a replacement player is in WAR calculations however.

        • I understand that, I’m just saying I don’t see Heisey as being a particularly gifted defensive player, and since his WAR value is not coming from anything he’s doing at the plate I feel like whoever’s doing the defensive calculations is being a little generous with Chris Heisey. I’m pretty sure plenty of minor league call ups could do better than him right now.

    • When all else fails, question the facts. Seriously, I have concerns about WAR too. I think CF starts are helping his defensive WAR.

      • Hey, I think this is my first comment. Long time reader. Anyway.. to echo your sentiments

        I love advanced stats, super interesting, but I hate it when people use advanced stats (WAR, xFIP, etc.) as the primary indictment in a sports related discussion. There are just too many unknowns and unquantifiables, particularly in the coaching aspects of the game, and stat-heads make too many assumptions and tip-toe the subjective/objective line too closely in these stats, especially in any kind of defensive grading or WAR grades. Also a two month sample isn’t large enough for any rash decisions.

        Maybe Price told BHam to not worry about walks and to swing at anything he thought he could hit, and Price told Ludwick to be more patient for whatever reason that might be… and that reflects in the OBP. Then fans hold that stat against BHam without knowing the whole story. Bandstand managers, just trust that the actual manager knows what he is doing until he proves otherwise (gulp).

        The Reds offense is surely anemic and the bullpen is turrible, but they aren’t doing that bad in the standings considering all the injuries and lineup adjustments. The Reds suck on the west coast even when they are healthy, so why expect anything better now? I know it’s tough but be patient (I’m a huge Bengals fan), uhoh here comes the boss gotta go!

        stay optimistic

  7. Take this for whatever it’s worth but ESPN currently has us at a 10.9% chance of making the playoffs. They have the Cubs at 13.2%. I’m pretty sure that’s only based on run differential, but it’s still sobering. And yes, the Cubs have a better run differential than us.

    I think I’m going to check back in after the break. This is too depressing.

  8. Fay on Twitter floated the idea (or I guess more accurately didn’t completely dismiss the idea) of Homer/Simon, Cozart, and a top prospect for Stanton. There was a time not too long ago…oh say a month…when I would have jumped at that deal. But not anymore. This season is practically dead. All this organization has done in recent years is make trades like this – multiple valuable players for one big impact player. When the window was solidly open it made sense. Bringing in Latos helped sure up the rotation and the guys we traded away were blocked. Marshall helped solidify the bullpen. Choo gave us the leadoff man we needed. But now the cupboards are bare and if we make one flailing attempt to salvage this season, which is almost unsalvageable, we could be looking at a decade of losing records.

    • I would trade Homer & Simon for the right deal(s). I’m not ready to jettison ZC yet. Let him finish out 2014 and see what the numbers look like, IMO.

      We need to broaden the talent base of this team and spending a ton on any one, or two players, needs to well thought through before making any move in that direction. In this case Stanton is at the right age to make it worth consideration.

      • If we could get a bat for Homer and Cozart I’d be fine with that. I don’t hate Homer’s contract, but I don’t think it’s going to turn out to be much of a bargain. If we’re going to pay market value for wins, I’d rather it be for a more elite player like Stanton or Cueto. More money, but more wins. If you could somehow get Stanton for a trade that was anchored by Simon then it would just be a rental. He’s going to make a mint in arbitration the next two years and whoever goes after him should be looking to lock him up with a long term deal right now. That deal would probably look an awful lot like Homer’s.

        • Really doesn’t have anything to do with hate anyone;’s contract but two factors:
          * What would be the return in a trade. (Will we get back more in value than give up?)
          * For the money we are going to pay HB, would that money have more value elsewhere?

          My answers are: probably yes and yes.

      • Cozart is what he is – A slightly better Paul Janish. He doesn’t have any ceiling left. iF that’s what it took to get a bat like Stanton I wouldn’t hesitate. Good defensive SS’s aren’t hard to find. We should already be looking for an upgrade at that spot anyway.

        • We will have to agree to disagree on Cozart. Getting a new SS is not on my “To Do” list. I’m thinking LF, 2B, BP, and bench depth first.

        • Well Stanton would be your long term LF. So basically you’d be swapping SS for LF in your priorities list. Difference is the upgrade from Ludwick to Stanton would be MASSIVE. Even if you had to stick with Santiago for the rest of this season at SS the offense would be dramatically improved.

        • Realistically, a package of Bailey, Simon, and Cozart to get Stanton probably isn’t practical but if you could pull it off I’d give it great consideration. The only question I would have is, what is it going to cost me in payroll? I don’t like ZC that much.

        • Agree. Cozart is a journeyman (at best). Nothing wrong with that if he is the weakest or close to the weakest link in the line up. Those of us of a certain age who are life long Reds fans just have the expectation of SS being a plus position because of the Reds heritage at the position over the last half century or so.

    • Do it! I would rather give up Chapman though. Particularly with the way Broxton is pitching now.

      • Chapman is essentially a FA after this season. He has a $5 million player option that he’s sure to decline. He has exactly zero trade value anymore. The Reds could not have possibly bungled the Aroldis Chapman era if they tried.

        • Chapman barely has three years of service time. I’m afraid you’ll get to watch the Reds organization misuse him for at least three more years. Earliest free agency for him is 2017. The option is just for his salary. He can decline it if he thinks he’ll do better in arbitration.

        • Thanks for the clarification…I thought something seemed off about my timeline but all I could find was the player option info. In that case, feel free to throw in Chapman but the Marlins were already burned by making a big move for an “elite closer” with Heath Bell and it blew up in their faces. I don’t think they’ll be in the market. But then again, Chapman in Miami would mean big ticket revenues…

    • There is no way the Marlins would do that deal. If they shopped Stanton, they could get a lot more from other teams.

      Fun to think about, but 0% chance of happening.

      • It would take something more along the lines of Chapman, Stephenson, Cozart, Heisey for them to even consider. Might have to include a Winker/Ervin as well.

        They wouldn’t want Bailey’s contract, but would LOVE to have Chapman in Miami.

        • The time to trade Chapman to Miami has passed. I’ve been shouting for them to do it for 3 years, but now they can just wait until the offseason and sign him without giving up anything. I fully expect Chapman to be in Miami next year.

        • I agree Chapman would be a decent starter piece in the deal, but I really don’t see the Reds having enough pieces to make the Marlins even seriously consider.

          Cozart? Heisey? Why would the Marlins want our castoffs?

          Seriously, if Stanton is available for trade, there are plenty of other teams that could woo the Marlins with sexy deals. The Reds would be a frumpy ugly Betty in comparison.

        • @CI3J – I was just referencing then mention above. Depending on the player package, I was just observing that it would take a couple “headliners” to even have a shot at pulling off a trade for Stanton.

          @ERIC NYC – Totally agree. See comment above

  9. Not that they can play any worse, but I still think we have a lot to look forward to with this team. Remember, IT’S NOT EVEN JUNE YET! Why?
    –healthy Bruce putting up his usual numbers.
    –healthy-er Votto putting up his usual numbers.
    –Mat Latos
    –One of Cingrani or Simon strengthening the bullpen.
    –Bailey finding his groove.
    –Hamilton continuing to mature.
    –Mesoraco sliding up the batting order and Phillips moving down.
    –Hoover is past his yearly early-season yips.
    –SuperTodd continuing his impressive campaign.

    The improved offense and bullpen combined with quality starting pitching will finally put us in a position to start reeling off a winning streak here and there. Only then can we judge this team’s ceiling.

    • Don’t forget the schedule easing up. I mean, it has to sometime, doesn’t it? It seems we just keep playing the top clubs again and again.

  10. The big question is BUYERS or SELLERS? If Reds are buyers, I would look at 2 players: Chase Headley and Asdrubal Cabrera. Neither are going to be as expensive as they would have been after 2012 (both players have dropped precipitously since). If may cost you a Heisey, Bailey, and a couple of prospects. $ may be 5/70 range for each. Moving Bailey frees up the money to make these attainable.

    *note* Headley and Frazier can/have played LF

    However, look at what kind of lineup could be run out there:
    1. Cabrera SS
    2. Votto 1B
    3. Headley LF/3B
    4. Frazier 3B/LF
    5. Bruce RF
    6. Mesoraco C
    7. Phillips 2B
    8. Hamilton CF
    9. P

    I wouldn’t mind jettisoning BP’s contract either, but I doubt the Reds could find any takers without eating 2/3 to 3/4 of his contract.

    IF the Reds are sellers, who is on the block ? There are some players that everyone would want to get rid of, but they have to tangible value (see Ludwick).

    Thoughts?

    • I do think it’s pretty hilarious that they just signed Bailey to a long term deal, and less than one year into that deal some people want to trade him.

      Has that ever happened before in the history of baseball? Has anyone ever been traded so soon after signing a long term deal?

      • Not that I can recall, but they may end up trading a Cueto because of it.

        Cueto’s value will NEVER be higher than now. Could see a ‘hefty’ haul in return. I’d hate to see him go, but realistically they can’t afford JC, Latos, and Leake.

        • We might have gotten lucky with Latos’ injury – Even if he gets right quickly, he won’t have a monster year at this point. If he had come into the season healthy it’s not insane to think he might also be having a CY type season in which case he’d actually be looking at more money than Cueto. Kershaw type money. Realistically, Latos is probably worth somewhere north of $150 and it could easily get close to $200 million in the next year. With Homer’s contract I don’t think we can keep either Cueto or Latos. Leake’s going to be the consolation prize. I’d trade CUeto in a heartbeat if the right offer came along, and there should be plenty of teams out there willing to pay through the nose for Cueto right now.

      • I said when the contract was signed that part of why I liked it was that it might actually make Homer more tradable. It’s a perfectly fair contract for a perfectly good middle of the rotation SP with no-hit stuff. Last year other teams might have been nervous about trying to acquire him because he might be thinking he deserved Grienke type money. But the Reds did the heavy lifting on negotiating a reasonable contract and there are plenty of larger market clubs (like Miami) who would have no problem at all taking on that kind of salary.

        I don’t necessarily WANT to trade him, but if we could find a way to get a better player at the same market value I’d do it because I don’t think Homer’s going to provide enough wins to make that much of a difference on this team. The one thing we have in the organization is starting pitching.

        • Not exactly true. Bailey’s contract has him as the 12th highest average annual salary among ALL SP. That puts him in the top half of all “ace” pay, not middle of the rotation.

        • That ranking is going to start changing really fast. There will be some more monster SP contracts this year and next.

      • The closest I can remember is the Red Sox signed Arroyo to a 3 year deal at the end of 2005 and traded him to the Reds at the begining of 2006.

        But I have never heard of a player being traded in the same season he signed a long term deal.

        • I doubt the Reds would actively shop Homer, but if someone came to them with an offer I think they’d listen. With where they’re sitting now they have to listen to ANY offer that comes their way. As far as I’m concerned there isn’t a single player in the organization that is off limits. I’m tempted to say Stephenson, but he hasn’t even pitched in AAA yet.

      • Maybe not but it could make sense. No one stepped on the moon before Neil Armstrong. did.

      • Not that soon but Fielder went to Texas pretty quickly from Detroit after his long-term deal. Of course now the guy is out for the year and may have issues going forward since he’s had his surgery… Long term deals are tricky things. I’m not up for trading Homer right now though. I think you have to hang on to your pitching, especially your starting pitching. Also, even if Homer ends up having a bad year, which I’m not sure he will, he would be a good rebound candidate for the following season. He doesn’t seem injured or broken in any way. His command has just been bad. He’s also had some tough luck. That’s something that can get corrected during the season and/or over the off-season.

        • Yes, two years. That’s about as soon as I remember seeing someone moved after signing a long-term deal.

    • Anyone over 30 should have a For Sale sign around his neck. Doesn’t mean you take peanuts in exchange but for the right deal, you make the trade. That being said, in JVs case you would being shopping at his lowest value and I would be shocked if you could get equal or better value, so that trade probably would not make sense. But if he can return to no less than 2013 levels, I would trade him for the right package. Too much risk with the injury issues, slow runner and poor fielder, over 30, and going to be overpaid in the future. Better to trade a guy a year too early than a year too late.

      • Sad as it is, given Votto’s current condition, age, and vague prognosis might it not be better for the team to just have the $200+M left on his contract off the books? Cautionary tale form the Reds somewhat recent past…. the first time Jr Griffey went down, everybody was sure he’d be back to the former 100% instead it was injury upon injury to the leg; and we know how that turned out.

  11. *Warning–crosspost*

    Can anyone think of a reason not to have Ruben Gotay in Cincinnati in place of Santiago? Gotay can play second and third and gives us a switch hitting power threat off the bench every game. Paired with Pena, it creates some matchup opportunities.
    With Santiago, it’s as if we keep him around simply for that one day a week when Cozart needs a blow. If it were me, I’d shift Frazier over and tell him to make the routine plays and bring in Cozy as a late inning defensive replacement if necessary.

    • I like Gotay and he’d certainly hit better than Santiago. The only I see is he can’t play SS and he isn’t a particularly gifted 2B. I’m not sure that Frazier can move back to SS and you’d be weakening two positions, essentially the whole left-side of the IF with Gotay at 3B and Frazier at SS. I’d hate to be a pitcher in that situation.

      • I’d also hate to be Frazier in that situation having not really playing or taking grounders at SS consistently. It’s a tough position too. It would be tough to even make the routine plays with as little work as he’s gotten there.

  12. The truly sad thing is we have to accept the “Votto Window” was a myth.

    When they signed Votto to that monster contract, they thought they were signing an Albert Pujols type hitter, a middle of the order offensive force that could drive in runs, get on base, and basically just be one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball.

    Instead, we have a fantastic #2 hitter. That Votto we thought we were getting only existed for one season: 2010, and he’s probably never coming back.

    • Votto was on pace to destroy his 2010 numbers in 2012 before the injury. He hasn’t been quite healthy since then, but he’s only 30 and there’s still reason to hope he can get back to that level for at least a few more years. His contract is market value for a guy who’s probably going to put up at least 4 WAR a year for the next 6-7 years.

    • The “Votto Window” was supposed to be that period of a few years when Votto was supposed to be an absolute monster, and if we could just build a halfway decent team around him, he would lead us to the promised land.

      We should be in that window right now.

      Are you feeling it?

      Injuries….. If that’s really what caused it, it feels like Ken Griffey Jr. all over again.

      • It does have a bit of a Griffey vibe, I’ll give you that. Sadly, the injury may very well turn Votto’s career into simply a very very good one instead of a HOF one. Before the injury it looked like we might have a guy in his prime putting up 9-10 WAR a year for a good chunk of years. He might not ever get back to that level, but if he gets healthy he could easily put up the 6 WAR he did last year consistently for a number of years and probably improve on it a bit if his power numbers come back up a bit. It’s too early to close the book on Votto. There’s a lot left to be written. I know it’s frustrating right now. I feel the same way, but he’s still a special player.

        • I agree, he is a special player.

          But he’s also going to be 31 this year. I think most of us know that once you hit your 30’s, your body just doesn’t bounce back like it once did. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but banking on Votto bucking that trend, when he’s already had so much trouble, is very worrisome.

          I would settle for him having a very good career from here on out. I hope he can.

        • The other thing is, since Votto seems to have a career ahead of him as being a #2 hitter in the vein of Derek Jeter, that means the Reds need to spend money to get some middle of the order hitters.

          Bruce might be that guy. Hopefully Frazier or Mez can as well. But it’s tough when a player who plays a position that is normally one of the primary sources of power/RBIs on your team instead hits/gets on base like a very good SS (minus the speed).

          I have no problem with Votto being one of the premiere #2 hitters in baseball. But it does put the Reds in a bit of a difficult position, especially when they paid him to be a certain type of hitter and he has morphed into something else.

        • I think you’re getting a little hung up on this idea of a “#2 hitter” being somehow less valuable than a “middle of the order” hitter. Runs are runs and the numbers bear out that Votto creates the most runs on this team. He did it one way in 2010-2011 and he did it a different way in 2012-2013. So far this year is a mystery but yes, he probably will more closely resemble the 2013 model than the 2010 model from here on out, but in 2010 he had 135 wRC. Last year he had 129. That’s not much of a difference at all, and a fully healthy Votto using the same approach he took last year should be able to improve on that number with a handful more HR’s and doubles. Who cares if he’s creating those runs from the 2 spot or the 3 spot? It makes no difference at all. It does to Marty, but the numbers don’t lie.

        • True.

          Like I said, I have no problem with Votto going from being the guy who drives in runs to the guy who gets driven in. As you say, runs are runs, and I agree.

          I guess my two main points are:

          1. I hope the Reds can get the other offensive players who can drive Votto in.

          and

          2. I hope Votto can be healthy enough from here out to actually make a difference.

        • I think Votto’s best career path at this point is as a DH on a team that can get him to the plate with lots of men on base. Send him to the folks that build the knee braces for offensive linemen and let them design something that gives him a stable platform; and tell him to drive to the gaps and trot to 2nd when the ball stays in the park..

        • Interesting you had me looking up Jeter’s stats, which I never do because I hate Derek Jeter’s stupid face. It is easy to forget how good he was for so long. That being said, he has 71 career WAR and is clearly going to be a no doubt first ballot HOFer. Scott Rolen has 70, was one of the best defensive 3B of all time, and people are still debating if he should make it. And the Yankees wonder why everyone hates them.

        • Actually, I just looked at Jeter’s stats myself just now.

          Look at Jeter’s 1999 stats. That was Jeter’s version of Votto’s 2010.

          Now look at the stats for every year after 1999. I think those stats are about what we can expect from a healthy Votto from here on out, with a few changes. Votto will hit less, walk more, and steal pretty much no bases. Try to mentally make thos adjustments when looking at Jeter’s stats, and I think you have a pretty accurate idea of what to expect from a healthy Votto for at least the next 5 years.

        • Oh come on. Look at the wRC+ numbers. 1999 was Jeter’s best year by far and he had a wRC+ of 156. He’s never come 20 points of that in any other season. Votto’s best season was 2012 (not 2010 as so many people want to think) when he put up a wRC+ of 178. He has put up a wRC+ higher than Jeter’s best year every season since 2009, including last year on a gimpy leg and even THIS year he’s sitting at 143 which would be Jeter’s 2nd best year. Votto and Jeter aren’t in the same conversation offensively. Jeter plays SS so his offensive numbers are more impressive. Putting up a wRC+ of over 110 consistently for 15 years playing SS is HOF worthy, but he never was and never will be a hitter of Joey’s caliber.

  13. Steve does seem to be banging on Billy Hamilton a bit more than deserved. Comparing him to Willy Taveras or Corey Patterson is silly.

    1. He’s a 23 year-old rookie, who’s showing legitimate signs of improvement. Taveras was 27; Patterson was 28.

    2. Offensive levels are WAY down. Taveras had a .275 OBP when the league average was .331.(17% below average).Patterson was .238 vs a league average of .331 (28% below average). Hamilton is at .287 vs a league average of .312.(8% below average).

    3. As noted, Hamilton is improving. If you exclude only the first series of the year, he’s hitting .266/.305/.364. You can crab about selective endpoints, but I’m comfortable giving a guy a break in his first week in the bigs.

    Bigger question: Who are you going to bat leadoff, if not Hamilton? I guess you can bench Ludwick and start Skip Schumaker, but I’m not sure he has much left in the tank. Heisey? His OBP is only 10 pts higher than Hamilton’s. BP? 14 pts higher.

    This team is horrible offensively. They make a ton of outs. Mez and Frazier are the only legitimate hitters in the lineup. (Bruce is still hurt). Billy Hamilton isn’t great, but he’s as good – or better than I expected. Focusing the blame on him is the type of thing Marty would do.

    If your only concern is lineup construction, I’d argue that at this point, getting Billy Hamilton the most possible plate appearances is the best thing this organization can do.

      • Given everything that I write here, in no way is it fair to say I complain and don’t offer viable solutions. That you’d rush to take the cheap, false shot like this really exposes your true stripes. I’ve provided an answer to the “who else” question since I first wrote about this. The answer is literally anyone else. But I’d settle for just sliding that day’s lineup up one batter, whatever it is.

      • And for easy reference, here’s what I wrote on April 3, which I stand by today:

        Price can simply slide the entire order up one spot and bat Hamilton eighth. If and when he proves he can get on base against Major League pitching (lower the bar to .320 OBP) only then should he be considered for the lead-off spot.

        • Batting Hamilton 8th is about the worse spot you can put him. So when he gets on the pitcher can bunt him over.

    • The answer to who should bat leadoff instead is literally anyone else. You’d get more OBP and more power.

      Your accusation that I’m focusing the blame on Hamilton (cheap shot on comparison to Marty notwithstanding) makes me think you don’t read much of what I write. I realize you have to look back as far as yesterday to find it, but I’ve put plenty of blame on Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick and others.

      It’s not particularly encouraging when your defense of Hamilton is “he doesn’t stink as much as Willy Taveras and Corey Patterson, he may be below league average, but only a little.” I expect more from a lead-off hitter. Of course he’s improving from an 0-for-12 start. More of that low bar, there.

      If the point of this season is to develop Billy Hamilton, then giving him the most plate appearances makes sense. If the point of this season is to score more runs that the other team in actual games, then I’d suggest the Reds consider not giving the most at bats to a guy with no power and who has on OBP of .287. Why that’s particularly controversial, I have no idea.

      • I want Hamilton hitting first if for no other reason to hasten his development. He still has very few professional at-bats from the left side. It may cost the Reds some in the short run, but will likely pay off in the long run. The short run is looking pretty dim, anyway. (And when the short run includes having Ryan Ludwick anywhere near a major league batter’s box, all hope is lost.)

        • He has also had an extended period of performance way above the average leadoff hitter which indicates to me the guy has the ability to succeed at a level that is way beyond anyone’s expectations. See my post above about the hot streak that he had.

          Thank you for your objective evaluation of Young Billy and this,for the most part, is what the Redleg Nation editors have been doing.

      • How about giving “one” name so we can drill down on it and come to a “logical” conclusion? Let us look at of all factors not just OBP & power. I’m not looking for a lot of power from a NL lead-off hitter who bats after the pitcher and ZC. I want a guy that scores runs. I realize runs don’t mean much but that is still how they determine the winner in a ballgame.

        I really don’t care for the “anyone” answers, I hear that as “no one”. So let us narrow it down to 1 guy and go from there. Okay?

        • Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, Skip Schumaker and another name I’ll be posting about in a little while.

          If you say from the top that you’re not looking “for a lot of power” then we can’t have a meaningful discussion, because that’s biasing the outcome even before you consider the inputs. You said last night, I believe, that if we still had Shin-Soo Choo, there would be no question. Well, he hit 20 home runs last year. That’s (a) driving yourself in 20 times, and (b) driving other people in, even if it is the pitcher spot. When Billy hit the double the other night and drove in two runs, wouldn’t it have been better if he’d hit a home run and driven in four?

        • Great point on Choo. Do you think they had him leading off because of his or the OBP and speed? If he was league average in OBP, and had no power, he should have batted 6th. Of course he would be a better lead-off hitter because of the OBP, not because of his power. To have one of your best power hitters leading off is a waste of valuable power, unless he has an OBP north of .400. 20 HRs would have driven a crap load of more runners in batting anywhere in order other then lead-off.

        • Darn – meant to say – “If the had a league average OBP “and power”.. No more posting for me until I eat lunch!

    • My broader point on Taveras and Patterson was that Hamilton is a similar type player. I genuinely don’t see any difference between Hamilton and Taveras. Both of them offer nothing but speed. They are entirely dependent on surges in BABIP to offer any value. Taveras actually had seasons with better AVG and OBP than Hamilton is managing now. I’ve consistently been against those kind of lead-off hitters (including Ben Revere, when he was Jocketty’s trade target) for years. Hamilton is in the same category.

      • The difference is that Hamilton is an elite athlete, but still green in baseball experience. He played football (SEC scholarship at WR) and basketball (averaged 20+ per game), and therefore did not have all the travel baseball that the California and Florida kids have, or the experiences that the Dominican kids have. And he had a near .400 OBP in 2012. And, as noted above, he is a recent switch-hitting convert, so he is even greener hitting left-handed.

        Time will tell. I think he will turn out to be more like Willie Wilson. He definitely needs to get stronger, but he has room to fill out over the next couple of years without losing speed.

        • Cory Patterson was taken #3 overall and was named the top prospect in both A and AA ball. He was selected as the national player of the year his senior year in high school.

        • You know better than to judge one player’s worth by another’s just because they might share a common skill set.

          Rob Deer and Hank Aaron were prodigious power hitters but they differed in every other area. Billy is no Willy Taveras and for this all of us can be thankful.

          You’re actually not addressing his point if you will go back and read it. “Green” in baseball experience I think was the point the blogger was making.

    • Willy Taveras had a rookie, 23-year-old season, too (.291/.325/.341). Adjusting for the changes in league averages over that time, that’s a pretty similar start to Hamilton’s so far.

      • And he was a viable leadoff hitter when he was in Houston and Denver. League average OBP and 80 speed is a useful offensive player. Maybe that’s where we disagree.

        If Hamilton’s career path matches Taveras’, then I’ll say he’s worthless at 27.

        • Jesus, I’m not saying he’s worthless or that the Reds should give up on him. I’m not even saying he should have less playing time. I’d just like him to bat lower in the order. He is the worst hitter on the team (maybe Cozart) he should not be receiving the most at bats.

      • What does this mean?? Why should I care? Are you suggesting that we should project Hamilton’s success, or lack of, based on Taveras’ career?

    • This Reds team was marketed as a legitimate contender. They fired a manager who had taken them to the playoffs 3 of 4 years including winning 189 games the last two seasons (counting post season) because his results weren’t good enough.

      In such an environment, it seems to me there are precious few mulligans to be given, even for a 23 year old rookie.

      Hamilton and the Reds both might be better served if he were learning/ honing his craft at AAA

      • Would it be better to sit him for a series of games and then reinsert him back and leadoff spot then see where that leads? The guy is in a slump, do we send him back to AAA? To do what? Who would be better to leadoff and play CF?

        • If Hamilton is to succeed long term he needs to add another dimension to his game. As Steve has pointed out, all he has now is speed. Defenses are sitting on his bunting lanes. Maybe his solution is to learn to slap the ball between and by them.Maybe it is live in the weight room in the off season and develop legitimate line drive short gap power. Regardless, he has to move the defenses around to succeed. I suggested AAA because that’s the place to reinvent one’s self, not out of a MLB lead off spot.

          I might think differently if he had owned AAA last season; but he did not. Let’s see some numbers over an extended period (at AAA) that call out that he is either a legit MLB prospect or a AAAA type.

      • There are many a relief pitcher I send down before Hamilton. Maybe move him out of the lead off spot for awhile but he needs to play up here.

  14. I know it’s partially a function of the weird scheduling (Sunday night then LA Monday) and obviously injuries, but this line-up has been all over the place. What exactly is the “starting line-up” anymore. Let’s assume Votto is out for the foreseeable future. How about constructing a line-up and sticking with it for a night or two or three, Stop experimenting for just a few nights. Lutz needs to be the first baseman in that line-up too. Would it change the outcome? Probably not. Can’t hurt at this point though.

  15. Steve put Hamilton in the negatives yesterday after his two run double, because it was the first ball he hit out of the infield since Wednesday. Of course, Hamilton didn’t play Thursday, or Saturday, but who’s counting.

    Any chance he gets to forget the fact that Homer Bailey and his contract will make the Reds losers for the next six years.

    • “Any chance he gets to forget the fact that Homer Bailey and his contract will make the Reds losers for the next six years.”

      Nope, he looks like Batman & pitches like Robin.

    • I am far from a Homer fan, but I really think it’s unfair to judge the contract off of 2 months. I say lets take a look at it after say the 2017 season and see what he did over the first 3 years of it compared to what he is paid and what other pitchers are making in the league.

      • I’d say trade him and we can see from afar how much value was realized from the contract. All without using the Reds precious resources.

        • You don’t sign a player to a long term deal and then turn around and trade him. Homer is here to stay, and it’s unfair to judge the “value” of his contract after 2 months. Lets understand the Reds made a choice and we now must wait and see if it was a good choice.

    • Really? The contract given to Bailey has doomed the Reds to losing over the next 6 years (the life on the contract)? Look, I’m not sure they should have signed him as I was all for letting him pitch this year and then letting him walk for the draft-pick (or move him at the deadline if not in contention) but I think your view is very, very extreme. Bailey is struggling right now but he isn’t what’s wrong with this team and although his contract is rather large, the money is probably about right for a #2 type starter as salaries are going up and up.

      • LW, is Bailey a #2? Has he ever been a #2. I didn’t verify it but within this thread, someone claimed he had the #12 most expensive contract for a starting pitcher. Realistically where does Homer fall in Reds rotation? I have them as: Cueto, Latos, Leake, Simon, Bailey & Cingrani. I don’t think Tony is very far from moving up to #5.

      • This really isn’t about Bailey and his terrible start, this is about the fact that the Reds poured $100M into him, and Jocketty said all off-season they don’t have the money to acquire anyone. Jocketty made it very clear … the only way the Reds could get better was via the trade “And the phone isn’t ringing”.

        Then, they take $100M and give it to Bailey. When Cueto, Latos, or anyone else comes due for a contract, the Reds will have no choice but to send them on their way because (1); They’ll cite Homer’s stats and his contract and say “I’m worth much more” and (2); the Reds have no money left to spend. People can say there’s money left in the tank but Bob and Walt’s actions have said a different story.

        Cincinnati has nothing in AAA and guys like Ervin and Winker aren’t that valuable (especially Ervin who is sucking this year). The only resource this team has(d) to make themselves better is $$$, and there’s not enough left to even sign someone good. Marmol / Bernhardina / Nelson / Francis / Wang / Santiago. The list of players that had their last chance before Cincy signed them is far too long already.

        • Wehn it comes time, the Reds and Bob will find the monies to keep 2 out of the 3 (Cueto/Latos/Leake) the question is who goes.

  16. There is a lot of angst about Cozart. Granted, his offensive numbers are pathetic. But…if he was hiting .300 + with a significantly higher OBP, etc., would the Reds overall record be any better? Probably not. More production from Zack might translate into an occasional extra win here or there but not enough to right the ship. This team has way too many holes in it – as said by many on this site, the roster is poorly constructed.
    It’s hard to imagine any single player making a big difference. By the way, I really enjoy his site…just wish we had more wins to talk about.

  17. “He is the worst hitter on the team (maybe Cozart) he should not be receiving the most at bats.”

    This is written by Mr. Mancuso AFTER he wrote before that Cozart was a viable option as a leadoff instead of Billy. He also suggests Phillips (really? OBP last 4 years, please) & Schumaker (not even a starter).

  18. I’m not on the Bham bandwagon, nor am I in the anti Billy camp. This is a kid who was put in a tough spot, so he can be an easy scapegoat for the hot mess a.k.a 2014 Reds and it’s dismal results. He was rushed along because Choo left and the Reds decide he is the man in CF. Oh and by the way, you’re our leadoff hitter. The expectations were high, I’d say he’s handled it pretty well. He has been a major league CFr for about 2 months now? Seeing all this major league pitching basically for the first time. Who knows what his future will be, but he is definitely improving. He is far from the only issue plaguing this lineup. He is learning on the fly just like our manager, Bryan Price. His situation is further complicated by questionable signings and contract extentions that hang like an albatross around the neck of this franchise. Add to that more questionable trades, evaluation, drafting and developement of talent, and a questionable farm system. As much as I hate the Cardinals, they know how to evaluate, draft and develop talent, and their farm system shows it. They have suffered key losses to their lineup during many seasons, but the difference is they have players that can step in and produce, and a big reason they are the division favorites each season and always a WS threat.

    As for Price, the jury is still out for me. He was dealt a tough hand with all the injuries and slow starts by so many players. He can’t swing the bat for these guys. But I have to wonder about some of his coaching choices. I know as a new manager he wanted to hire some of his friends, but with questionable results. He seemed defensive when the third bases coach gaffs were questioned. Maybe smarter choices could’ve been made.

    I’m happy to have an owner like Mr Castellini, I know he wants winning baseball in Cincinnati. I can’t imagine how upset and frustrated he must be with the lack of results on the field.
    Is it time for Jocketty to go? Maybe time for some fresh thinking at the GM position.

    I’ve been a Red’s fan for over 40 years, seen more than my share of good and bad Reds baseball. I live in Pirates country and take plenty of grief for being a Reds fan. This year has been dismal, with few glimmers of hope, and I’ve done my best not to bitch too much or give up hope entirely. As I have for so many years I will continue to cheer for my Reds, wear my Reds gear, and hope they can somehow right the ship. Losing breeds frustration, and the fingers have to point somewhere, and this year there are plenty of places to point. I know some won’t agree with my thoughts. Just my 2 cents, thanks for letting me express them. I enjoy the constructive thoughts of many posters here and hard work of the Redleg nation staff/writers.

    • Your comments are well taken, Redsfan in Pa. A lot of angst now because Memorial Day usually signals a disappointing season when the Reds are in a funk. But, if we can get Latos and Votto back they could turn it around with their pitching and defense. Whatever trades might be coming, I say keep Cueto because he’s our ace.

  19. I haven’t had time to get on here since I posted about the abuse of Hamilton. I know it’s probably irrevevant at this point, but I meant to say that his OBP was .334 since his first 10 games (the first 10 games as the rookie starting centerfielder batting lead off on a contending major league ball club), not his slugging percentage. My mistake.

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