Titanic Struggle Recap

Improbable things are improbable

Final R H E
  Cincinnati Reds  (51-45) 3 7 0
  New York Yankees (48-47) 4 8  3 
 W: Phelps (4-4)     L: Leake (7-8)
 FanGraphs Win Probability |   The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score    |   Game Photos

Help wanted  When you depend on not one, but two home runs from a player who hadn’t hit a homer in over two months, or rely on the other team committing not one, but two errors on routine ground balls in the same inning, your offense isn’t gonna get it done. David Phelps is not Whitey Ford. Yet the Reds only managed six hits and one lousy walk off of him in six-plus innings.

High leverage pitching  If you read the series preview, you knew about Dellin Betances and David Robertson. You knew the Reds needed to get the scoring thing taken care of before those guys came into pitch. Betances entered the game with a runner on first and one out and overmatched Billy Hamilton and Zack Cozart. Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco didn’t fare much better in the eighth.

Yankee manager Joe Girardi doesn’t hesitate to use his best pitcher multiple innings. He’s used Betances and Robertson 31 times for more than one inning. Bryan Price has used Aroldis Chapman that way twice.

Designated whiffer  The Reds designated hitter, Ryan Ludwick was 0-for-4 with two pathetic strikeouts. At least it wasn’t Neftali Soto, who was the Reds’ DH when they played in Boston earlier this season. Soto has a career wRC+ of -60. Sure, other players went 0-for-4, but Ludwick looked particularly awful.

Unlucky  Mike Leake wasn’t great. But three of the four runs scored against him got on base due to a hit-by-pitch, a routine ground ball that would have been ruled an error on Todd Frazier if the hitter wasn’t #2 and a 10-hopper opposite field ground ball.

Ghost ship  The Ryou-Un Maru was a Japanese trawler that become disabled in the 2011 tsumani that struck the coast of Japan. It had no lights, no crew and no communications. It had drifted like a dead stick, all the way across the Pacific to the Gulf of Alaska where it was sunk more than a year later by cannon fire from the U.S. Coast Guard. I couldn’t stop thinking of the Ryou-Un Maru when I watched the Yankee lineup tonight: Jeter (40), Beltran (37), Ichiro (40), Teixeira (36), Roberts (36).

90 thoughts on “Improbable things are improbable

  1. Kinda felt like, from the beginning, that this game was just not overly important to the players. I know every game is important, and not being a player, I can’t say that it was or wasn’t important. But it definitely felt like a “if we win, fine, but if we lose, also fine.” Mildly annoying to me.

    • I just feel they were just in vacation mode still. Think when you come off your own vacation at work. Your far from your best your first day back. Just a thought.

    • i seriously doubt any major league baseball player stepping into yankee stadium is going to think that “this game was just not overly important”. Where do folks come up with this stuff?

    • Seemed more to me that they were overwhelmed–a herd of deer frozen in the high beams of an oncoming log truck. Did you notice how wide BH’s eyes were? Yes, it’s the Yankees, sort of, and, yes, it’s Yankee Stadium, but not the house that Ruth built. The dead offense isn’t unheard of this year, so we’ll have to hope that the guys from the real major league (I speak of the Reds, of course) will get over their big-city jitters before 1pm today.

      • These are ridiculous comments. I was at the game last night and they were not overwhelmed. They lost. Period.

  2. Can we chalk this up to all-star break rust? Counter-question may be “why weren’t the yankees rusty?” Multiple hits off leake came when his sinker didn’t sink enough. He made it easy for them. And the Yanks did have 3 errors.

  3. I don’t know what’s worse about tonight – That the actual bats in the lineup were TERRIBLE or that the scrubs filling out the injured lineup were actually very good. Tonight should scream to Walt that they need offensive help, but at the same time I can see him sitting in his office and saying “Well we got great production from our bench guys, and our starters should come around, so maybe we’re ok!”

      • Oh I’m fine blaming Todd and Jay (and Mes, and Hamilton, and Ludwick) for tonight, but I’m more concerned that Walt sees games like this and thinks that those guys will turn it on and that these other marginal players might also keep playing like this so he doesn’t have to do anything.

        • Well if Jay ever starts to “turn it on” we won’t have any problems no matter what Walt does or doesn’t do.

        • You are assuming he has been given the green light by Bob and is choosing to do nothing.

        • Drew I know you are a Walt “homer” – no I’m not assuming anything – I am using my eyes and what I have seen or not seem from a GM of a Major league baseball team that is in obvious need of some tweaking – I think that is overwhelmingly quite obvious to everyone except you

        • Responding to your response to Drew: It’s not obvious to me, either. Nor should it be to you, unless you have real insider knowledge of the constraints on spending that WJ is dealing with, or the responses to the inquiries about possible trades that he certainly has explored. Of course a bat would help, and WJ obviously knows as much. His problem is, first, that he’s not a magician, and, second, he has to be concerned with next year and the year after. A lot of teams still feel as though they are in contention, and that limits the number of legitimately useful players who are available. And the price must be considered.

        • Sure he has to think about next year and the year after, but he also has to think about this year. How is it that year after year teams like the Cardinals seem to be able to make productive moves at the deadline to help give them a late season push and yet still have a top rated farm system year after year? I think when you get right down to it there are levels of skill in these negotiations and some guys are better at it than others. I’m starting to think Walt might be the Willy Taveras of in-season trades.

        • The Reds are in a situation that makes them “buyers” so other teams will ask for a lot for their players. To get someone good will probably cost a bit. It is a question of what the Reds are willing to give up to get something.You do not make trades to just make trades you have to get value. If the Reds do not make a trade it will be because what other teams are asking for is too high a price for what the Reds are willing to pay.

        • Drew is one of the best, if not the best, at RLN to make sure all sides are considered. Tip my cap to you Drew, I don’t believe you are anyone’s Homer or apologist. We just don’t know what the heck is going on behind close doors. It is great fun to speculate but that is all it really is.

        • @Redmountain: The Reds also haven’t won a playoff series in 25 years. Sometimes you have to make a trade from a buyer’s position to help you contend THIS year. It’s basic economics that sometimes that means you have to overpay, but that’s what the teams that end up winning rings do when they’re in tight races.

        • Saying that Walt can’t or won’t make trades ignores history. He gutted the farm system on the blockbuster Matt Latos deal (and we all know how easy it is to trade for club controlled, front of the rotation pitching …).

          He took a lot of guff on this site by not overpaying for Grady Sizemore. Yeah, how did that work out for the Red Sox? A lot of people here advocated for trading for Chase Headley this past off season. Another bullet dodged. Heck, some here even thought that Dan Uggla would be an upgrade at the plate (cause he’s a butcher in the field) over BP. How about the strong push here for trading for Nick Franklin? Some people here would traded him straight up for BP, just to rid us of the “below average” BP and his contract. Franklin has done nothing in the majors and may never will (he’s spent most of the year in AAA). All of the other teams “lining up” for Franklin this past off season couldn’t seem to pull off a trade for him either, though he may be a minor piece in a bigger trade soon. Meanwhile, raise your hand if you’d gladly have BP back in the line-up today. Too often the trade not made is your best trade.

          More importantly, we as fans do not know what it would cost the Reds to land a given player. The rest of the division, yes even the Cubbies, have a better stocked farm system than us right now. If an opportunity presents itself to add offense at a reasonable cost, then by all means. If not, by all appearances Walt will be looking like he’s sitting on his hands. Thank goodness he sat on his hands with Sizemore, Healey, Uggla, Franklin, etc.

  4. The Reds team needs more offense. Playing American League rules just underscores the need.

    The Yankees made the most of two gift opportunities (HBP+walk in 1st; Frazier not making a play he really should have in the 3rd) The Reds probably should have gotten more in the their gifted inning; but basically, things came down to the Yanks had a runner when they hit their long fly; and, the Reds had empty bases when both their long flies were struck.
    .

  5. Very nice game by Pena but the most encouraging thing of the night was the two hits by Heisey. More importantly the line drive single to right field, I believe that is only his third of the season. If he could add that to his arsenal, we might have a decent LFer. Way to go Chris, keep that up.

    • He always shows flashes but just never seems to maintain it – very good 4th outfielder though – and that is not counting Ludwick as the 3rd one

  6. Random thoughts from Yankee Stadium tonight:
    –That’s the 2nd time I’ve seen Mike Leake lose 4-3 in NYC this year, and the 3rd 2-run homer I’ve seen him give up this year in person (Thanks Duda!)
    –Law of averages I guess because I saw Leake win twice in person last year
    –The New York Yankees should be known as the New York Former All-Stars
    –Dellin Betances looked like Chappie tonight. No one was going to catch the high heat
    –Right now Ryan Ludwick is definitely the player I’m most concerned about getting a lot of playing time while our regulars are injured
    –Leake is probably a better pitcher than Phelps but tonight it sure seemed like Phelps threw a lot of strikes. He got hit hard a couple of times, but mostly our guys looked off balance. The Former All-Stars were ready to rock some 2-1, 3-1 or 3-2 fastballs. Leake just doesn’t have the stuff or deception to be pitching from behind in the count.
    –The ball that caught Gardner’s foot in the 1st might’ve meant the game. Think of that if we finish a game back of someone. Or don’t, that’s too much. Game of inches though
    –Yankee Stadium again was very easy to get in and out of, even staying the whole game.
    –I make some dumb and angry comments sometimes, but boy it could be worse. Quote from the Reds fans behind me:
    fan #1: They’re gonna have to pay some money to keep Leake, they paid Bailey and they paid Cueto.
    fan #2: yeah, but Cueto really isn’t all that
    fan #1: yeah

    Ok, I’ll stop. Get’em tomorrow!

  7. I was at the game. Leake did not have much. Was throwing 88 right down the middle. Very luck he only gave up four runs. Ludwick was completely overmatched. It was embarrassing

  8. I have to wonder if the winds have been permanently taken out of the sails of Heisey. There were so many times under Dusty that Heisey would have a phenomenal game only to find himself on the bench the next game. I often thought at the time that it must mentally and emotionally draining for Heisey to find he was not in the lineup after having a phenomenal game, or games only to be rewarded by sitting on the bench in the middle of a hot streak. (normally so a struggling player could “get going”)

    • The starting LF job in LF was Heisey’s to lose in the spring of 2012; and, he did. In 2013 he couldn’t take charge and win the job from among a very undistinguished field after Ludwick went down on opening day.

        • We tend to never consider that the reason a player might be successful in spot starts but struggle when required to make consecutive starts is the skills of the manager and coaches in identifying the pitchers and situations in which the player is most likely to succeed and giving the player his spot starts in those situations when afforded that luxury.

      • Here’s some history for you. After Heisey came back from his injury in 2013 his July OPS was .888 and his August OPS was .825.. He was the Reds best right handed hitter during that period.

        Then Ludwick came off the DL and Dusty inserted him back in as the starter in LF. Ludwick never “got going”, Heisey saw only occasional playing time the rest of the year and did not hit well.

    • I like Chris, but he’s had more than one opportunity on this team. He has another one now. I’ve never heard him complain or whine about his situation during Dusty’s tenure. He gets a big league paycheck, not a AAA one, if he wants a bigger one he needs to rake these next few weeks.

  9. Earth toWalt. Come in. (low squelch noise. crrrrzzrrzrzrrzrrzrrzrrrr)
    Earth to Walt. Earth to Walt. Come in please. (ccrrrrzrzrrrrrzzzzzrrzrrzrrr)
    Earth Station Alpha to Walt. Come in please. (ccccrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrzrzrzrrzrzrzrzrrzzrrzrzrzrzrzrzrzrzrzrzzzzrzrrrzrrzr…

    Missing in action.

    • Yeah, Walt was missing in action in not landing Grady Sizemore, Dan Uggla, Chase Healey, and Nick Franklin, just to mention several trade “opportunities” that WJ couldn’t get done. Expanded thoughts in another post above.

  10. Pirates, Brewers, and (so far) Cardinals are officially off of VACA and back to work. Can’t hit the snooze button when you’re in the NL Central.

  11. The thing I find most frustrating about this team is that they seem to have the hardest time doing the one thing ANYONE can do, which is to not swing. Frazier inexplicably took some pitches down the middle, but the main problem tonight, as it usually is when they aren’t scoring much, was swinging at balls way out of the zone. Ludwick in particular seems to be totally unwilling to take bad pitches right now, which is why he looks particularly bad, but practically everyone on the team is guilty of it to some extent. It’s obvious to anyone who watches them on even a semi-regular basis, which makes it so baffling that it never seems to get addressed.

    • I think perhaps Ludwick has just gone over the hill and his chasing his tail so to speak. It is really scary that LF comes down to he, Heisey or Schumaker.

      That said I tend to agree with you about the team overall. They must all be guess hitters; but even guess hitters have to be able to lay off of bad pitches and spoil good ones (a la Votto when he is healthy).

      The thing that particularly galls me is that so often they work themselves ahead in the count then go to whaling at a borderline or bad pitch at the very time they should be guessing and looking for a particular pitch in a particular spot.

    • Ludwick’s bat speed is slipping. Therefore he needs to cheat and start his swing early. If the pitch he swings early on is not a strike or is an offspeed pitch he’s toast. He is mediocre at best. If the Red’s stick with this roster much longer they can start getting ready for 2015 and hope Votto’s injury is not chronic. Why did On another note why did Leake get the start tonight? He’s struggled for a while now. One might want to start the second half with Cueto or Simon.

      • Price gave an explanation of his rotation plan clear back on the last pregame radio show before the AS break. Basically, Latos and Bailey were being pushed back to allow maximum recuperation time because of their physical dings during their final pre break starts. He wanted to give Cueto what amounted to a skip turn to allow him extra rest because of the number of innings he has pitched already this year. I forget or Price did not get around to saying why Leake ahead of Simon. Maybe it was something about the uncertainty of whether/ how much Simon might pitch in the AS game.

        • Thanks. I knew the Latos – Bailey side of the equation just surprised Leake got the nod given his recent outings. He’s been very pedestrian his last 4 or 5 starts. I think it was important to start the second half strong.

  12. I was at the game. Not a overly fun game to watch. A little boring. I can sum up the problem with one conversation I had with a guy.

    When Pena hit the HR in the third the guy says… “Hey, he was your All-Star catcher right?”. “Nope… He is our backup catcher playing 1B”. Guy looks at me weirdly and says “Why is he playing first?” I explain the situation and he comes back with “You really don’t have a backup first baseman?” This took a better part of the next inning to go through.

    The offense is not going to look pretty with Votto and BP out… We might see a few more games like this and have to count on 2 errors in the same inning to get some production. Our bench players are not great (no one’s are or they would be starters not bench players), but when you have essentially 4 of them in the line up you are in trouble. (I am saying Pena, Santiago, Heisey, and even Ludwick in my opinion.) Having to use the DH does not help our lineup. It gives us 1 less legitimate bat than the opposing team.

    • And even more damaging than not having a bench bat who makes the DH worthwhile for the Reds is the fact they are depending on their pitching to be near shutdown quality and versus the DH, they have to face 9 legitimate hitters.

    • I was a little bored with the game over the TV too. I think games with little offense despite mediocre pitching (until the Yanks back end) not to mention mediocre field play often tend to come off that way.

    • Don’t expect Votto to contribute this year. Just hope he returns healthy next year or at least as healthy as he was last year. (Which is clearly not the Votto we saw before the knee injury)

      Given that fact the Reds must get a first baseman to finish out 2014.

        • Yes, indeed. Which makes one wonder why he came off the DL and played every day. Actually that’s not true. He played everyday because the Reds don’t have a suitable back-up in the system.

    • You are right, I believe, in your analysis. But before we head to the window ledge, we should recall that this same lineup, essentially, was kicking butt before the AS break, and the bench guys who are playing did the hitting last night. They won’t win ‘em all, and this might be the beginning of the terminal dive to the bottom, but it is still one game. Leake wasn’t awful, by the numbers, but his control was poor, and Mike with poor control isn’t going to compensate for the heart of the lineup forgetting how to hit.

  13. Reds’ management and ownership can’t expect the Reds’ to continue to win without an actual first baseman playing first base and with Ludwick in the line-up more often than not, can they?

        • He’s having his regular year, just no hot streaks. this is what his numbers look like without the every 4th hot week. I’m a Jay Bruce fan.

  14. Huston Street has been traded to the Angels. That’s a bit of a break for the Reds as several NL contenders had supposedly been interested in him.

    • If the Reds sit tight with this roster when they were within one and a half games of first at the All Star break then there is no real push to win it this year. Which given the likely departure of key members of the team after next season makes one wonder when the big push will be made. Will it be 2015? Or are they going to wait for 2016 or later?

      One constant each of the years the Reds have been in the hunt at the trade deadline. No big moves to improve the roster. (Broxton was not a big move) (Big man but not a difference making move)

      • Jocketty’s long time axiom that you don’t make a trade that doesn’t help beyond the current season has become dated to the point of being largely obsolete I believe.

        With the AS game coming to town next year, the org certainly doesn’t want to seem to be in the dumper. That said 2016 may be a bigger target. Stephenson and Winkler would figure to be MLB ready by then. Position wise everybody would still be on board (assuming Votto is still playing by then). They do have some contract work to do with the pitching for 2016 however. Chapman will still be under team control as will Bailey but a lot of the other guys might not be.

  15. Price has made several remarks this season about how highly he values defense. My hope for this AL series is that Heisey earns a starting role. With his defense if his bat comes around at all he would be a big boost.

    • The door is open for Heisey once again. I would love to see him really take advantage of his opportunity, (Ref. See Todd Frazier)

  16. Ludwick is more and more frequently being overmatched. The worst was last weekend against Pirate reliever Justin Wilson (the Cajun cook), against whom Ludwick had absolutely no chance in a bases-loaded, 1-out, game-winning situation. Until last night, I thought Ludwick was at least still marginally useful against a sinker-slider type pitcher with an average fastball. He isn’t even that now. Heisey certainly has his flaws, but he is better at all aspects of baseball than is Ludwick.

    At the end of the game, the Reds had Lutz, Negron and Soto on their bench. They are 7-49 (.143) collectively this year, and 22-123 (.179) for their careers. The lack of any serviceable players in the high minors is entirely on Walt Jocketty, as is the fact that there isn’t enough in the system to make a helpful trade.

    I don’t want him, however, trading Winker or Stephenson for a Ben Zobrist. They are pretty much going to have to take a flyer on a recent DFA, or take a somebody’s salary dump.

    • Now throw in budget limitations and recalibrate. Trade Broxton to allow the Reds to get in return someone that might have a contract over $500K.

      Whoever they do trade will probably need to be a pitcher, as they don’t have enough bats now to trade the likes of Ludwick. If they do intend on dealing, I hope they do it sooner than later. Until then, give Heisey the LFer job and hope to God he figures out how to be a hitter rather than a hacker. I guarantee, if this guy could figure out how to go with the pitch, instead of trying to pull everything, he could do the job. He did it once last night. Hope springs eternal.

      • I agree. The outcomes are the same although the causes are not necessarily so. To me, Bruce’s bat speed is not a problem, now pitch recognition and/or strike zone definition are up for debate. Spark – your point was a very good one. Just not a lot you can do about aging.

  17. No doubt Billy was over matched by Betances in the 7th inning. Going back and looking at the AB, Hamilton was “stepping in the bucket” or not keeping the shoulder in, whichever you prefer. Very disappointed in young Billy, and with Heisey, at second base no less. Horrible effort in big time situation. After that, I went back and looked at his first AB, no sign of this at all. Come on BHam, we need better next time.

  18. The Reds designated hitter, Ryan Ludwick was 0-for-4 with two pathetic strikeouts…Ludwick looked particularly awful.

    Thank you. My thoughts exactly. I said to myself: self, this guy never delivers when it counts. Oh sure, some savvy stats guy on Redleg Nation will shoot me down but nice to see someone else has the same synapse’s firing that I do.

    • Ludwick is a frustrating guy to watch. But he’s hitting at a .265 clip. Jay Bruce who plays rain or shine everyday is whacking it at a .227 clip.

  19. Ludwick was terrible last night, no doubt, but it’s amazing to see so much vitriol for him every time he has a bad game while Frazier, Mes, and Bruce were just as bad and no one makes a peep. I saw one or two little snips at Hamilton, but he was also terrible. I definitely think we need to find a way to improve our production from LF, but Ludwick has been productive at times this year. He’s been better than Jay Bruce across the board. That’s not saying a whole lot, but it’s true. Even if we do make a trade, he’s going to be an important bench player for this team.

    • Agree with you on LW but Jay Bruce’s issues are not Ludwick’s.

      As Robby20 pointed out above, Ryan’s reflexes aren’t what they used to be and are slipping more so as time goes on. So he has some really horrid swings because he has to commit so soon. Horrible looking swings are not greeted kindly by the faithful, fair or unfair. He was never a guy that was quick to the ball and it is too late in the game to alter his approach. These guys go down rather quickly when they do go down. Again, I’d go with Heisey, Not because I think he is all that; but he can field and run, and has the raw skill set to be a far better hitter then he is.

      • For a couple weeks it looked like Ludwick was getting it together at the plate Now he seems to be regressing again. The fact that Heisey is the only alternative is the problem. Right now Heisey is probably the more valuable player of the two because of defense but not by much. And we can’t just keep thinking that if we play good enough defense everything will be alright. We’ve lost too many 1-run games this year as it is. I’m just praying for Zobrist or Willingham…

      • Well, I’m sure you have seen JB go after the down and away slider, curve, change up, over and over and over…….LOL! Holy Cow! Todd Frazier has some of the ugliest swings I’ve ever seen. A hit is a hit and a K is a K, no matter what the swing looks like. :)

  20. The Stat that got to me Today about Leake was he has had 11 SBs given up with no Caught stealings on the season…Come-on Leake pick it up…Beltran has lost a step or 2 …Go REDS…No Disrespect meant

  21. Today’s offering:

    BHam – cf
    Cozart – ss
    Frazier – 3b
    Bruce – rf
    Mes – c
    Pena – 1b
    Heisey – lf
    Lutz – dh
    Negron – 2b

    Hopefully Simon’s luck holds for at least 1 more game.

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