2014 Reds

Jay Bruce starting at 1B. Seriously.

We’ll get the game thread up in a little while. But here’s a place to discuss the big news item today. Jay Bruce is starting at 1B.

Here’s the lineup:

1. Billy Hamilton (S) CF
2. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
3. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
4. Jay Bruce (L) 1B
5. Devin Mesoraco (R) C
6. Ryan Ludwick (R) LF
7. Skip Schumaker (L) RF
8. Ramon Santiago (S) SS
9. Mike Leake (R) P
gygy

There had been rumors on the internets that Jay Bruce had taken infield practice at first base, so this isn’t completely out of the blue. Just mostly.

First of all, if you think Joey Votto isn’t going on the DL, I’ve got some World Series tickets from 2013 to sell you. Face value.

Second, this is a huge, gigantic, enormous hit defensively in the OF, and likely at 1B as Jay Bruce *plays the infield* for the first time in his career.

Third, in the short run, all this means is that we get double the crappy left-field platoon. This was always the problem with the plan to play Devin Mesoraco at 1B, it just meant we get a light-hitting catcher in the lineup. The “hey, we can play so-and-so for Joey Votto” works best when the new player in the lineup isn’t a terrible hitter.

Lastly, if this is a prelude to trading for serious OF talent, I’m all on board. Walt Jocketty is currently faced with filling two holes, left field and first base. He’d have to be shopping for two players, which sounds pretty challenging considering the total lack of moves like that for over a year. If Jocketty were to sign a regular first baseman, what about when Joey Votto comes back? Votto is eventually coming back. Quad strains are not fatal, as far as I know.

However, if Jay Bruce doesn’t commit a billion errors at first base AND if Jocketty brings in a good outfielder, then that person could stay on the field when Votto returns to 1B and Bruce goes back to RF. So I’m down with the experiment, as long as this doesn’t become “problem solved, we can just play gritty Skip Shumaker and former Cardinal Ryan Ludwick in the outfield.”

[And to those of you who defend Walt Jocketty, if you don't recognize this move of extreme desperation as the proper time to surrender, there's no helping you. The Reds just moved their GOLD GLOVE CALIBER outfielder to a position he HAS NEVER PLAYED because of the roster situation. Checkmate.]

[And how can Skip Shumaker be so bad at first base - AT LEAST HE'S TAKEN GROUND BALLS  - that this makes any sense as something that can last more than ten minutes?]

[This has got to be a prank from the same guy who tweeted about Votto's empty locker yesterday, right? He got ahold of the lineup card, and all the twitter feeds of the beat reporters, and is making Jay Bruce take grounders at first base right now ... to shout "fooled you again." Do that soon, please.]

147 thoughts on “Jay Bruce starting at 1B. Seriously.

    • Who else do you want to bat near the top? BP is 3rd on the team in BA and RBIs and 4th in HR. Of position players that play everyday, he’s 5th in OBP. So explain to me why this is a problem?

    • Can’t see Cozart being traded. We have absolutely no organizational depth at Shortstop, so whoever would replace him would be a significant downgrade. Even as poorly as he’s hit so far this year, Cozart projects at a 2 win player (0.9 so far in half a season). He’s simultaneously not a huge asset for another team, but certainly not a position of worry for the Reds.

  1. Why weaken the outfield this much? Now 2 of the 3 outfielders are below average there. Hamilton is gonna have to play even better defense now out there. If it works that’s great. For 1 game. I don’t get why schumacker or even Ludwick couldn’t give it a try. Bruce is probably the best defensive outfielder on the team. Doesn’t make sense to me.

    • A great point, a really dumb move, find it hard to believe Ludwick could be so much worse than Bruce at 1B, I would think if you can play 2nd, 1st would not be so difficult. The trade-off of Bruce’s D is very short sighted.

  2. Is Heisey the forgotten one? His fielding would at least keep the outfield defense decent.
    I’m not sure Hamilton can cover enough ground by himself to make up for Ludwick’s and
    Schumaker’s plodding. Althought the gritty one has been hitting at a decent clip recently.

  3. Unless there is a trade in the works, I suspect that they are in the process of calling someone up, Soto or Lutz? Soto has hit well since being sent back to AAA (.340/.387/.476 with 1 HR 13 RBI in a little over 100 PA) Lutz not so well (.220/.295/.349 in about the same number of PA), although Lutz has hit a little better lately (8 game hitting streak .300 with 10 RBI). Honestly, I hate to see either called up, Price would rather put together a lineup like tonight’s while he lets either of those young guys rust on the bench.

    • Soto’s AAA numbers are a mirage. I don’t think the guy will ever be able to hit at a major league level. Every AB he took, he generally looked just completely outclassed. There’s a reason he’s 3-40, 0 BB, 13 K in the majors.

        • Roberto Petagine all over again? Always thought he could hit MLB pitching and he did on a couple cups of coffee, but apparently MLB front-office and managerial personnel didn’t think so.

    • You have got to look at what is most likely to be beneficial, Schumaker hits better than Lutz? Maybe, but at what cost defensively, I say give Lutz a shot like Hamilton but in a platoon situation whomever.. Pena, Soto, Ramirez- I would think there is a chance that Lutz provide enough power to be effective and I know there is no chance of Schumaker doing that

  4. Fay tweeting (presumably after pregame confab with Price) that Votto “not on DL” He was tested today but they don’t have results yet

  5. to me this is much ado over nothing. Lets see how things play out over this coming week before running around bemoaning this move. Remember Price has far more experience and access to info then any of us do and don’t forget, this game is more then just “numbers”.

  6. Kinda like what they did yesterday, moving a Gold-Glove caliber defender (Frazier) out of his natural position. Except yesterday the end result was to get a guy who should not even be on a major league roster (Santiago) in the lineup. Both decisions equally perplexing.

    For me, if Votto can’t go for an extended time, the best option currently on the roster would be Schumaker. He IS an infielder by trade, and I’m sure he’s gritty enough to get the job done. Seriously.

      • Do you want Shumaker as your everyday 1B?…….I think its a move to see if Bruce can be the answer at first,of course we dont know what Walt has in the works to address bringing another bat on board.

  7. I really don’t understand playing Bruce at 1st instead of Schumaker. They are going to get someone hurt if they don’t stop playing guys out of position with minimal preparation. I’ve seen some pretty bad injuries occur at 1st with players who were accustomed to playing there, let alone just throwing a guy out there after he takes a few groundballs and when you have other options.

    • I agree. Schumaker makes his living being a utility player. He should be able to cover any position except pitcher and catcher.

      • I agree, that is one position he should have to be able to to play in his sleep. Plus he is a FAR worse RF than Jay. Clearly this team cannot evaluate advanced stats. Instead they pay for “grit”, “chemistry”, “glue” and pixiedust.

        • Is it possible that Bruce’s leg is bothering him more than we are being told? That might be a reason, although not a great one, for the move to 1st.

    • I dont think this is a 1 day trial,Schu is not the answer at 1B if its going to be a month or 2……I suspect another move or 2 shortly

  8. I surrender. This is madness. It would be one thing if moving Bruce was to allow someone productive more playing time. Instead, we’re weakening the OF defense severely. Either there’s a big trade coming or Walt’s ability to make big decisions/take risks has been finally and fully paralyzed.

  9. Rumors of Starlin Castro on the move….

    How would everyone feel about acquiring Castro and James Russell for ???

    • I’m probably ok with that trade, as long as the end of that sentence is not “Robert Stephenson and Jesse Winker”.

    • Funny thing? 2012-2014, Cozart has been worth 1.5 WAR more than Starlin Castro in 40 less games. 4.3 WAR vs 5.8 WAR.

    • Russell yes, Castro no. Frazier would be a better defensive SS than Castro. What inconsistent offense Castro provides is not worth his terrible defense, why do you think the Cubs want to move him? They have better Shortstops in their system and he probably refuses to move to 3B.

    • Why does everybody insist on Castro at short. Many of the best outfielders played short and then moved to the out field. EE in Toronto was terrible at 3b but at 1b or the OF he is doing very well.

  10. I have NEVER been more confused in my life…Why play Bruce at first instead of Frazier at first and Santiago at third? Atleast both of them have actually played those positions before and we aren’t affecting our outfield. Heck DL Votto and let Lutz play first until he comes back.
    This isn’t even on the list of things I would’ve seen coming in this situation.

    • POW! Walt has you in his trap. He’s make it so stupid and confusing that you’re actually ASKING for Frazier at 1st and Santiago at 3rd, when we all thought that is awful too.

      See? Now when it’s awful today, he can switch back to Frazier at 1st and Santiago at 3rd and people will be happy with Walt rather than angry that he can’t just find a freaking backup for first base and instead moves a GG-caliber defender out of his position to let Ramon Freaking Santiago start.

      • You know, that very scenario crossed my mind. Seriously. Another move or two and we’d be clamoring for Santiago back in the two hole.

        • If we ever starting clamoring for more Ramon Santiago, then the season is truly lost.

      • I was thinking the same thing. Although, I can’t think of any situation where I’d want to see Santiago starting and filling a place in the lineup. Unless the alternative was to have one of the pitchers batting and playing infield instead. I think.

        • Yeah true but the lineup tonight has him playing SS anyway so we might as well somewhat have a defensive alignment that makes a TINY bit of sense while still having to have him playing, atleast for tonight.

      • This is actually the scenario that makes the most sense to me. That is both calming and maddening to me. Sigh.

        • This reply was to ToddAlmighty….The replies are getting alittle hard to follow by how they are showing on the page. Cant really tell who is replying to which comment with where they are placed

  11. Both the active roster (12 non-pitchers) and the 40-man roster are a mess. I guess the looming doubleheader tomorrow is keeping 8 relievers in the bullpen? Not sure why you wouldn’t consider Lutz or Soto as an emergency stint up here. Clearly, Votto won’t play both games of a DH tomorrow.

    • He will play neither, but you get a 26th man (Homeberg). By the way, get ready for some homeruns that day. Lets hope they are solo.

      • The Cubs are throwing Tsuyoshi Wada, a 33-year-old making his ML debut, against Holmberg in the nightcap of the DH, so it projects to be a slugfest. But considering the two offenses, you never know.

  12. Hey, at least Mes the Destroyer is hitting ahead of Ludwick tonight.

    I really, really hope we don’t get Starlin Castro. He’s a downgrade defensively and a head case to boot. Might be a marginally better hitter, but I’ve seen him look just plain awful at the plate. I’ll take Cozart and whatever prospect we’d be giving up.

    • Yuuup, Cozart is a 10-14 error SS, Castro is a 25-27 error SS. That’s not even counting all the balls Cozart gets to and makes look pretty easy.

      Baseball Reference has Cozart at 1.7 WAR right now. They also have him at 0.0 oWAR. So that means his defense alone this year at this rate will be worth over 3.0 WAR. If he can get in a little hitting streak and even get his oWAR to like 0.5 or something, Cozart will be knocking on the door of a 4 WAR season.

        • You’d have to find somewhere for him long term. He’s under contract until ’19, with a ’20 team option. LF will probably be Winker’s spot in 2015. So you’d have to find somewhere else for Castro. Maybe 2B?

        • Honestly I do think Winker would be a better option in RF than Schumaker. Hamilton/Winker/Frazier/Mesoraco would be a fairly legit 1-4.

      • To say any spot is an untested rookie’s who is just starting AA ball and will be ready next year is great, Do you have suggestions for the Wednesday Powerball drawing?

        • Well.. the other options for LF are? Pick up Ludwick’s option. Schumaker. Hannahan? Pick up another former Cardinal who’s 30-something? Winker is 20 and already hits for power. He also has a career 154 BB/187 K so the guy walks like a pro and doesn’t strike out a ton.

          Power and the ability to take a walk/not strike out much are something that I imagine carries over well regardless of level of baseball. Either you have it or you don’t.

      • Todd I am talking about a proven MLB hitter (Castro) in left. If Winkler develops as you suggest I would rather have that problem in 2015 then Winkler being the only option. We are facing that issue today without strong alternatives.

  13. This team has actually played well below the “numbers”, such as run differential where we are way ahead of Pittsburgh. But, given we are behind them it is clearly indicating poor management of resources.

    • Yes, that would be the ONLY reason I could see for this. Maybe Bruce’s knee is barkin’ a bit.

      • But then, as I’ve thought about this some more, why play Bruce at all? He’s more likely to hurt his knee swinging than playing in RF.

        • As far as torque and actually injuring it, then yes, you put more torque on it when you swing. If it’s just sore though then running actually presents more of a problem. I’ve had my share of knee injuries and it really depends on what Bruce is feeling and the type of injury.

  14. Is there a web site that breaks down the runs a team scores over the season? I am looking to see how many games the reds have say scored 1 run how many games they have scored 2 and so on and then compare that with the Braves.

  15. In the pregame yesterday, Price said they are going to keep the extra bullpen pitcher until after the doubleheader. With Pena on leave, that limits options. Also, either before the game or during the 2nd inning they were saying Bruce has carried a 1stbasemans mitt around for years and occasionally takes fielding practice just in case the Reds needed someone to play it. The talk was maybe in extra innings, not starting a game but all this did come up yesterday FWIF.

  16. If you have to play someone out of position, I would have thought it would have been Schumaker. I don’t get this lineup at all. I don’t like it defensively. You also have Mike Leake pitching today so I’d want my defense to be the best it can be. He pitches to contact for the most part and balls in play need to be converted to outs. This defense is probably going to struggle doing that. Plus, what if Jay Bruce does a Cliff Floyd impression and breaks an arm or something over there? If you aren’t used to playing 1B, sometimes the throw that takes you down the line towards the plate and into the runner can be downright dangerous. I don’t tend to question the manager nor the GM that much but I really, really don’t like this.

    • It is this senselessness that begs the question of whether it is a one off patch work because of something cooking on the acquisition front.

  17. It seems we have reached a consensus here on RLN: flip-flop Bruce and Schumaker on defense and let’s roll.

    • If it was 1 game….ok BUT, I dont want Schugrit as my everyday 1B.1B needs to be an offensively productive position. We need to add a player or 2

      • The point was just to play Schu at first and leave Bruce in right, if they’re both playing.

        Obviously, there would be much better options to play first long-term, just not on the current roster.

        • maybe the plan is to play Bruce at 1B till JV is healthy…….the OF after today will hopefully change

  18. This is some elaborate setup for an ingenious maneuver. I’ve read my comics. I’ve seen enough movies. When things get this wacky it’s just a setup for a twist ending. By this time next week we’ll all be wagging our finger at WJ and saying “you clever dog you!” or something to that effect.

    Else we’ll have pitchforks and torches and there will be less finger wagging and more rabble rousing but either way.. sounds fun! This has my official stamp of approval. Situations like this are what the word hi-jinx was invented for!

  19. I think the J Bruce to 1B has been discussed,why not try it against the Cubs? I think a move or 2 will follow this to add an OF or possibly 3B(Fraizier to OF)5 games in 4 days and short bench means EVERYONE will get to play. I think this top 5 or 6 on BA will score some runs……stop the panic SOMETHING needed to be done…..GO REDS

  20. Reds are scouting the Mets Lucas Duda and David Murphy tonight. Both have 1B/LF experience in MLB. Both LH hitters. Murphy is 29 years old and Duda is 28. Duda has better power, Murphy a better BA and OBP.
    I like Murphy, but Duda has bashed Reds pitchers before.

    • No Duda, please. Guy has 0.0 WAR total for the last 3 years. Above average bat, absolutely terrible defender. Also can’t hit for average.

      • Both seem to have hit the Reds well in their careers. The trade is really for a 1st baseman since OF is crowded enough as is and an upgrade is not a luxury for which the Reds should be trading at this point.

  21. The wheels are turning. You have to think Jocketty has something up his sleeve. Although, based on his history, it will probably be calling up Donald Lutz. If so, he has thrown in the towel.

  22. Let’s take the best OF arm the Reds have had in ages and put him at first, the one position where a strong and accurate arm isn’t vital. Oof.

    The only way this makes any sense is if Bruce’s knee is very sore – like Votto-esque sore, and he must rest it by playing a less strenuous positon.

  23. What would having Bruce play first mean or lead anyone to think Walt is working a trade? This is simple, you have a player with a repaired leg who may need to not put as much presure on it night in and night out this season so you play him at first from time to time to lessen the strain on that leg, nothing more. Again it’s not a big deal…

  24. I 100% agree with the sentiment in the post, this just reeks of desperation. There are dozens of “explanations” and excuses and caveats that you can throw out there. But this would not be happening on a roster that was constructed with proper planning, period.

    Again, I’m not saying that this is the worst thing that’s happened to the Reds, or that it shows for sure that the Reds are done this year, or that Votto will be out for the season, or really anything about the future at all.

    What I’m saying is that whether this works out or doesn’t, clearly no team should be in this position, and here we are.

  25. Crazy Walt’s Deal Barn better be cooking something up such that this represents only a one-night circus act. Can’t believe a pivot throw to 2nd or backhanding a sharp grounder in the hole is good on a 6-week post-surgical knee. Watch to see how many bunts the Cubs are taking in BP tonight….yeesh

  26. Not sure why Votto isn’t on the DL yet if he isn’t playing. Votto was tested? Tested for what? If it’s a quad, it’s a simple strength test that the ortho does. There are no “results” to wait for. Are they testing for something structural again? Like I said, I very rarely complain about such things but this whole situation is beyond odd.

  27. Surely there has to be some washed-up 1B that either just retired this offseason, or is languishing on some team’s AAA roster, and could be had for pennies. Somebody that can still hit, but maybe doesn’t have the legs he used too…

  28. With the Cubs LH hitters, the Reds are fortunate to have an athletic Leake pitching tonight. He’ll help some on defense. Leake will have to be on his game tonight with any ground balls hit to the 1B side. It’ll be interesting to watch how Bruce handles throws to Leake covering 1B on any grounders.

  29. I don’t think Bruce’s knee is banged up. Per John Fay, Price asked Bruce how soon he could play first base and Bruce said tonight.

    We also know the Reds are scouting several players now.

    Taking a few data points together, I think it’s fair to assume that the Reds are far enough along in identifying a potential trade that they’re willing to sit Votto or that Votto’s leg is now forcing the issue.

    In either case, it would be preferable to find a true 1B. I also thought they might look for a 3B and move Frazier. It looks like they might be pursuing Steve’s point above–find a OF that can then slide over the LF when Votto is back.

    Providing there’s a second corresponding move, I really don’t think this is too terribly insane… and if it works out disastrously bad, then Pena arrives on Wednesday. Sometimes it’s darkest before the dawn (a la 2012).

  30. While the Reds efforts are focused on moving a GG caliber RF to 1B and playing marginally defensive OF’s in LF & RF or moving a GG caliber 3B to 1B and playing a weak hitting utlility IF (who should never have made any major league roster) at 3B, the Indians traded the proverbial PTBNL to tthhe Pirates for Chris Dickerson after Bourn went on the DL with a strained hammy.

  31. Hell let’s put Frazier in right and let Bruce play third. Put Hamilton at short and BP in center. Move Cozart over to second. Put Ludwick behind the plate. Pitch Soto. We had a good pitcher named Soto once.

  32. Is Scott Rolen doing anything these days? Put him at 3rd, Frazier at first. Ok. Maybe not Rolen. But Chase Headley at 3rd or 1st wouldn’t be the worst move in the world, with Frazier taking the other spot. Or, as others mentioned, trade for the Big Donkey!

  33. Lutz is not in the Bats starting lineup, tonight. Read into it whatever you will, he has started every game (1B, LF, RF) since going down, maybe they are just giving him the night off.

  34. “Choo is not with the Reds?” “What the heck” says an ever alert Walt Jockety.

    “Where is my black book, I have got to call somebody….”

    good call ToddAlmighty:

    “It’s more like Walt hasn’t woken up from his hibernation he started the day after the Choo trade.”

    Of course in my mind, the only thing scarier than Walt not making a trade is Walt making one. This guy is not Wayne Krivsky and we will lose a lot of trinkets right now unless we trade the right resource

    Bring up Winker. I think it was also Todd who mentioned that you cannot block Winker for 2015. If he is that close, bring him up now. His plate discipline is very good.

    If you want to make the right trade, you of course trade Mike Leake who is having a great year and could draw some major return.

    And off course Chapman still is sitting at idle in the garage with 24 innings on that V-12.

    I think Leake’s spot in the rotation could easily be filled by Chapman. At this point, we do not have to worry about his innings as a starter.

  35. Apparently Lutz is not in the Bats’ lineup tonight, so why isn’t he starting in Cincinnati’s?

    • Maybe he’s not there, yet, maybe he’s part of a trade, maybe he’s there, but Price is doing his usual Dusty imitation of going with “veteraniess”, or maybe the Bats are just giving him a day off.

  36. The center positions on the diamond are “premium” for a reason – they get more chances. A 1B gets a lot of “chances” but most of them are simply catching a thrown ball. The odds of a 1B making a serious error are far less – everyone else’s throwing errors give an extra base (far more frequent throwing than a 1B going to 2nd or 3rd), generally. I think JB can play catch, I think he’s a good athlete, and I’m sure he can field a routine grounder. When was our last 3-6-3 DP? Anyone? Yeah, that’s my point…

  37. I’m tired of hearing “Winker,” sorry. .197 in 73 ABs at Louisville, 20 years old. Have you guys watched this game before? He’s not ready, period. Same for A-Ball Ervin and Yorman Rodriguez. Stephenson and Lorenzen and Amir Garrett and Daniel Corcino don’t need to be in the ‘pen, either. This isn’t the NBA where a 19 year-old comes in and is an above-average player for a year or two, a star at 21.

    Hoover/Ondrusek are sub-3.50 guys for several years, Parra has had a couple good ones for us, Bruce hits better than .230, Votto will heal (or Schumaker will hit .250 in his absence, look at his card’s back) and we’ll be slightly diminished. In addition, Cozart will hit in the second half (historical record here) and our pitching will hold (we have 5 front line starters, maybe 6). The only position to gripe about is LF because Heisey can’t hit off speed stuff and Ludwick has lost a lot of his pop. The Brewers will mellow and, if we keep up the roughly 6-4 pace we’ve been on for over a month, we finish right at 90 games…but the Cubs for 5 could sure boost the record (I want 4-1, minimum). They don’t have Smardzija or Hammel anymore, either, sweeeet!

    • Dave,

      MIke Leake went straight from ASU to the Reds. Ervin could do the same if not for the injury. The college game is really advanced.

      Our first pick from UC Irvine could be called up.

      Shoot, this is baseball. guys that are going to be stars are ready. Some guys never will be ready and will become role players, bench players and targets for Walt to trade for in July.

      Billy had a little trouble at AAA last year also and now he is the rookie of the year in the NL to date.

      Don’t baby men

    • I don’t know about the last couple games, but I know he reached base safely in each of the first 14 games he played after getting promoted to AA. Has Ludwick/Schumaker/Soto/Lutz/Heisey reached base successfully in even 10 straight games at any time?

      Winker also had a walkoff single one night, and followed it the next night with a walkoff homer.

      I don’t know where you’re getting this “.197 in 73 AB at Louisville” thing from. He’s in AA right now. Has never played in Louisville. He’s hitting .215/.325/.369 right now, which the AVG isn’t great, but the .325 OBP is good and the .154 ISO is decent too. More importantly, he has 11 BB/16 K. Pitch recognition is probably the hardest thing to teach a player and he already has it.

      - – - – -

      As for Ervin, his season was slowed down greatly by offseason wrist surgery. It took awhile for him to get bat speed/power back.

  38. If I’m WJ, I’m embarrassed by this situation. Jay Brice should not be playing 1B. Poor roster construction has come back to bite the Reds–again.

  39. Wow, 135 comments already. Only time to read Steve’s statement so far. Schumaker at 1st base makes more sense to me. He is an IFer after all. The loss of Bruce in RF hurts the defense a lot, we’ve already seen that.

    I hope Bruce does better than Bernadina did in his 1 game there. He made a routine throw from Todd Frazier look crazy wild.

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