Titanic Struggle Recap

Game 114: The Zack Cozart Show

Final R H E
Cleveland Indians (57-57) 3 7 0
Cincinnati Reds (58-56)
8 10 0
W: Mat Latos (4-3)   L: D. Salazar (4-5)
Box Score | Stats | Depth Chart | FanGraphs Win Probability

 

The Good

Beginning with his three-run blast that knocked paint off the left field foul pole, to the humpback liner he snagged at the top of the next inning, Zack Cozart earned his keep tonight. Zack has taken a beating this season for his drop off in offense, but his defense has risen to another level. Cozart is now the best defensive shortstop in major league baseball with 19 Defensive Runs Saved. Among all fielders, he’s 4th. We’re fixated on offense because the Reds have so little. However, the Reds are where they are tonight in the NL Central race because of pitching and defense, the kind of defense we saw tonight and every night from Cozart. Take a look at these numbers.

Mat Latos gave another workmanlike performance. Since coming back from and injury-plagued season–like so many Reds–he’s had to adjust, to work on the fly while he attempts to get back to the Latos of last season. He’s mixing up his pitches more and relying on deception as he builds up his arm strength.

Kris Negron rose to the occasion tonight. He  and Cozart slipped the surly bonds of earth early in them game, giving the club a comfortable early lead they would never look back on, which is especially important when an offense is struggling the way the Reds’ offense is struggling. Negron finished with 3 hits on the night and Brayan Pena added 2 of his own. I’m not one to bash these bench guys. They were never meant to play so many innings as they are having to do this year.

The Hammer of the Todd had two hits tonight.

The Bad

Jay Bruce Bobblehead Night did nothing for the affable leftfielder tonight. Both he and Billy Hamilton went 0-4.

The Ugly

None.

Not so random thoughts …

The second game in a row that the bullpen has largely gotten a rest thanks to Cueto last night in Cleveland and Latos tonight.

This team is hanging in there.  What else could you possibly want? People keep trying to throw dirt on this team, but they keep getting up. I was at the game tonight. I raced to Dixie Chili in Newport to grab some wi-fi and get this recap. So, who is the Knob Creek Player of the Game? Cozart. But, I get an honorable mention, yeah?

 

74 thoughts on “Game 114: The Zack Cozart Show

  1. 75% of the XBH by the dynamic duo and 75% of the run support too.

    Suddenly (if the scores hold) the Reds are four out in the division and three and half out (or less) of the WC.

  2. Great recap, a rare commodity these days. I have to admit that your mention of Dixie Chili makes me long for the days when I was only minutes away from ordering a 3-way, a cheese coney(no onions) and an ice tea. Skyline was my preference for those delicacies (no disrespect to the awesome Dixie Chile) my stomach is growling at the thought of a 3-way, cheese coney, ice tea and of course the little bowl of oyster crackers. You lucky son of a guns you. Go Reds!

    • Just to be clear, what I meant by a great recap being a rare commodity, is that’s its rare that the Reds play a game like they did tonight where a positive recap is warranted. The writers that do the recaps do a great job more often than not.

  3. Looks like the Reds are on the verge of being 4GB in both the division and the WC. I liked that pregame tonight Price was pushing hard that their focus should be on the division.

  4. Wait, Dixie Chili has wifi?? I stopped in at the one in Newport last night on my way home from King’s Island and I checked for wifi while eating there and nada. Do they have a super-secret hidden wifi ssid only for Redleg Nation scribes? I’m jealous.

    Put me down as another in the Skyline camp. I mean, I’m good with just about any of the Cincy chili places but Skyline is my favorite. Dixie Chili in Newport is open until 1am during the week though so they won my business last night!

    • Uh-oh I think you busted someone. As for Skyline Chili there is no doubt that Skyline Chili is far and away Cincinnati natives favorite go to chili place.

      • You all need to stop with the Skyline. I’m trying to be good and now the Skyline up the street is going to be tempting me for lunch. If I go, I’m not getting a salad :-)

  5. 4 games back in division and 3 games out of 2nd WC.

    Not to be the party pooper…but I think it’s all a facade.

    Red’s still have 10 games with STL. Only 3 with Milwaukee. History, both recent and longer, suggest that does not bode well for the Reds in terms of the division. Pitching has kept the Reds afloat during the past few weeks and unless Walt finds a waiver deal, will have to continue for the remainder of the season. It is not reasonable to expect BP to come back and be overly productive. We may not see Votto until 2015. The Cards recognized the Central was for the taking and improved their team.

    Not to harp on it, but the lack of a deal on July 31 will look VERY large come September. I think the Reds had a window of opportunity to make some trades for some good multi-year players and maybe a rental and really push for the division this year. So many losses (over 23 one-run losses and counting) this year that were due to an inefficient or non-existent offense. Yet the are “only” 4 games back. Imagine how many games “up” they would be had the front office been a little proactive earlier this season when it was clear the offense was going to struggle.

    Moving on into the off-season, the Reds must address the offensive issues and have a bench-plan in place for injuries. Since Walt didn’t want to/couldn’t make a trade for a starting pitcher, 2015 has to be an all-in year while the core of the pitching rotation is still in Cincinnati. I, like most fans, am frustrated because I would put this pitching staff against anyone in baseball. Match that with a few bats, and the Reds would be off and running.

    • The 2014 Cardinals are not the Cardinals we know. Take a look at their offensive numbers. Their only big move at the trade deadline was trading away Craig and Kelly for Lackey. Not going to help the offense. Might not help their pitching either. Kelly shut them down for 7 innings last night.

      Of the Reds 3 series with the Cardinals this year, losing 2 of 3 in each, two of them were in the first 3 series of the season, when the Reds were without a bullpen (no Chapman or Broxton) and no Latos and whoever else and losing their first 4 series of the season.

      No Votto now but also no Molina.

      The Reds have 6 remaining games against the Brewers, not 3.

      Yes they need a bat, Negron, Cozart, and Santiago are not Murderers’ Row. Hopefully WJ pulls off a wavier deal.

      • PS Not to say that the 3 games coming up in St. Louis are going to be easy. The road trip coming up with 4 in Colorado and 3 in St. Louis might be fatal. The Rockies have a terrible record but it doesn’t matter. Their lineup will be intact again by then and they’re tough at Coors. Arenado is back and Tulo is on the way back. Cargo and Dickerson both almost hit for the cycle last night.

        And speaking of history, the Reds have a terrible history in both St. Louis and Denver. Maybe the Reds could trade for one of the Rockies hitters before then.

      • Yeah, it was good to see Kelly shut them down. That made me :-) … They traded away a pretty good, young pitcher. A potential solid middle of the rotation guy in my opinion. I’m not sure that moving Craig weakens the offense this year. Oscar Taveras is going to be a good hitter, maybe as good as Craig and Craig isn’t having a good season with the bat this year, so even with Taveras being a rookie, the dropoff seems small. Taveras is a far superior fielder and baserunner too.

    • The Brewers bullpen is beginning to struggle again. That has been their Achilles heal the last couple of years. Gallardo had a short start last night, so Estrada had to come in and pitch a few innings to bridge to the BP. Brewers have not named a starter for Saturday because they are short there now. Their August schedule is pretty tough.

      McCutcheon is out for an undetermined amount of time for the Pirates.

      Molina is out for the Cards and, like Pinson pointed out, their hitting isn’t the same this year as it has been in the past couple of years.

      The Reds have a shot at the NL Central.

    • Who are the good multi-year players you have in mind? What might it have cost to land these(perhaps)mythical beasts?

    • The Cards are the second worst offensive team in the NL, so how did they improve by trading away offensive players? They are a very mediocre defensive team and did nothing to improve that. I am getting tired of hearing about how the Cards improved themselves; if they are improved how come they haven’t put this very mediocre division away already?
      I would say that Molina and Phillips will return about the same time. It is impossible to predict what they will be able to do, but their addition will help their teams. How a broken rib will affect the Pirates is also impossible to predict. So you are throwing in the towel?

      As far as the future, no one can predict, but the strength of this team in the minors, is pitching. Why do you think a year from now that all those guys will be gone? Bailey, Cingrani, Stephenson, Lively, and others will most likely be available. Add to that what could be added to the offense by trading one of the FA pitchers this winter and the future looks pretty bright.,

  6. Glad to see a great game by cozart tonight. Not very Janish of him with the bat and I’m cool with that.

  7. Nice recap, Richard. I knew Cozart was having a good season defensively but didn’t know it was that good.

  8. More Negron, less Schumaker/Santiago, please. He now has more HR in 39 AB than those two in their combined 311 AB.

    Not saying that I expect him to keep hitting .282/.317/.564 because that’s ridiculous to expect from a career minor league player. I will say he’s shown more life in his bat than either of them have this year and just a wild guess, in their careers.

      • I’m OK with Negron getting most of the starts at 2B until BP comes back and Santiago getting the rest. However, I’d still prefer Skip in LF on days that Ludwick sits for whatever reason i.e. rest, matchup, etc. Heisey has been shown to be pretty useless with the bat as a starter while Skip has hit a bit lately (4 for 11 with a BB in his last 3 games) and historically has hit better than his normal average in August. I know people are going to tell me that Heisey’s dWar this year is on pace to wind up almost 2 but that seems like a statistical fluke. He’s catching less than 1.5 balls per start; in reality, he might have caught a handful all year that Skip wouldn’t have. That’s really not worth $9 million a year (based on 1 WAR = 4.5 million) or his terrible hitting when he starts.

        • Don’t agree with the Heisey vs. Schu analysis at all. It’s not just dWar that makes Heisey preferable although even in your example, a handful of extra outs could save several extra runs, so why wouldn’t you take that advantage with an offensively challenged team?

          No, the other attributes that set Heisey ahead are his speed on the bases and the extra pop in his bat that Schu just doesn’t have. A 3 game sample that you just offered is not a compelling sample size and more likely suggests that Schu is due to cool down based on his longer term numbers.

        • Heisey has been appalling at the plate as a starter. There’s really no way around that.

        • And for Heisey, sample size isn’t an issue, as he has started 41 games with 176 PAs (.205/.259/.304/.563).

        • It’s not just defense. Heisey is better offensively than Schumaker too. Skip has -0.8 WAR. With -0.2 oWAR and -0.7 dWAR. There is NOTHING that Schumaker does that’s a positive to the team. (Unless you believe in “Grit”.)

          To give you an idea.. if Schumaker keeps playing any decent amount of time, he’s going to end up in the same category as 2012 Cairo (-1.3 WAR) and Wilson Valdez (-1.7 WAR)… and it’s not a fluke or anything. Last year he was worth -1.3 WAR… which is why the Dodgers didn’t re-sign him, let alone re-sign him to a 2 year deal.

          Heisey is better offensively (68 OPS+ vs 79 OPS+) defensively (-0.7 dWAR vs 0.7 dWAR, on the bases (Schumaker has 5 SB the last 4 years), and has better power (Schumaker has his 6 HR in his last 4 years/1151 AB).

          Schumaker simply isn’t good at all. Not to say Heisey is the every day answer in LF, but if I had to choose someone who takes away more than they contributes, and someone who at least contributes a little.. that’s an easy choice.

    • Negron has really impressed me. He’s capitolizing on his chance. Like you, I don’t expect him to have an OPS above league average but he’s hitting right now and showing that he can contribute at the MLB level. He’s a really nice guy to have on the bench. Cheap too!

      • By ANY measure Heisey is better than Skip. Yes, Heisey looks terrible at the plate but advanced metrics clearly say that Heisey is better at bat AND way better in the field. Neither walk, both have low averages, but Heisey has better isolated power (lots of doubles) and is a great baserunner.

  9. Nice job on the recap Richard. In fact, I’d go so far as to say splendid “3-way” coverage on the G, B, & U.

    More Negron? Yes, please. What’s he done wrong? Nothing. Chris Welch likes him a lot. So do I.

    Please Lord, only one more night of George “Great” Grande. Everything’s great. He’s great, Family’s great. Just a great teammate and great guy. Right Chris. You’re not kidding about that George.

  10. Phillies again mismanaging big contracts. Rather than unload an aging Lee, the Phillies keep him and lose him for the season with a question mark for his caliber next season. A losing team filled with vets and they trade no one. How does that GM still have a job?!

    • I have a sinking feeling that the reds are headed in the same direction as the Phillies after next year. There are some similarities: Huge percentages of the payroll taken by a handful of players, mediocre minor league system, GM with no imagination that would prefer to play replacement level veterans over decent young players. There are some big differences as the reds have more good, young homegrown players than the Phillies had when their slide started. But I think they have got to stop with the huge, multi year contracts, especially for pitchers. They are just too risky. As much as I love cueto, I think the reds are in trouble if they extend him. If they extend him and latos, then they are out of their mind.

      • You are going to have to dispose of that reeling feeling. If the Reds win tonite, they have a nice 8 day/game streak going. Winning 3 of 4 from Miami and 3 of 4 from Cleveland will be a nice rebound. Six of those 8 games on the road. Miami and Cleveland aren’t the A’s, but they are fighting for post-season births the same as the Reds. So, its a nice streak to build on. And the best thing is, that Walt Jocketty has not been re-signed. As of right now, we have a new GM for 2015 to look forward to. That just makes my day.

        • Thanks for the optimistic kick in the pants! You’re right that there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by this team. I wasn’t trying to bring anybody down. It just blows my mind that four-fifths of the reds rotation will be free agents after next year and the reds have not done anything about it. There’s always the off season. But last off season all they did was overpay Bailey and call it a day. I just think that is lazy and uninspired. And if the plan is just to overpay cueto and/or latos and let leake and Simon walk, then I think they are in trouble. But they are still alive this year and they are pitching and defending well. Let’s see if they can make something happen!

        • You think so? If they had somebody in-house to replace him, I think the transition would already be under way.
          My fear is that Castellini gives him a 2-year contract so that there is some continuity for the All Star game, to give Walt another chance at winning a World Series and to oversee the starting pitching transition with 4 starters becoming free agents after 2015 and Chapman’s situation too. There are several directions the Reds can take this winter. I just hope they choose the road that leads them to the 2015 World Series.

        • A new GM would be fine with me, but I doubt it will happen. It’s more likely that Jocketty’s contract will be extended, like Baker’s was, and then let go after 2015 if the Reds do not get to the World Series.

  11. Negron has 5 extra base hits, Schumaker has 12 (in 5X as many ABs!). More to the point, Negron’s 3 hits last night came off 3 different pitchers. There’s nothing I’ve seen so far that tells me his bat couldn’t be at least replacement level, and definitely better than the alternatives. Negron is also an above average defender, Schumaker makes the routine play an adventure. At this point, there’s really no downside to playing the kid over the veteran.

    • I don’t think there is anyway negron keeps hitting this well. But it does prove the point that there are guys in aaa who can out perform the scrub veterans Walt brings in, like Skip and Hannahan. There is no logical reason that Skip should continue to get playing time after putting up -1.1 fWAR so far while Navarro and Perez waste away in Louisville. Replacement level players are by definition easily replaceable.

  12. Watched the game from the CBTS Pavilion last night and am back in my normal seats with my father tonight. Hopefully tonight’s game will be as good. Cozart made two spectacular plays, not just the one. The HR he hit was crushed, the only question was rather or not it would be fair or foul. His power has been missing all season and it’s the one thing that allows an otherwise poor bat to play. His defense has always been good but as Richard said, it seems to be at a whole different level this year.

    Cozart and Negron last night and Santiago the night before. Latos with another good start despite only throwing 90-92 on his fastball. Price left him out there two batters too long in my opinion but Diaz got a key final out.

  13. Anybody else notice that Price used Jumbo to keep Latos’s ERA from being hurt by letting those extra runners score in the 7th? Little things like that help keep your players loyal and motivated. Latos had pitched a heck of a game, ran out of gas, and while the normal pitching “pecking order” would have called for LeCure or Hoover, Price went with Jumbo to get the last out. A classy and slick move by Price, made even better by quickly getting Jumbo out of the game so he’s available today.

    • Another reason he used Diaz was because with Santana at the plate, it could have easily been an 8-5 game and I don’t think Price wanted that. I think he used the pitcher he thought had the best chance of keeping Santana in the yard.

  14. Heisey’s speed on the bases is a non-factor since he never gets on; a .259 OBP as a starter. As to his “pop”, Skip actually has a higher SLG as a starter: .320 v. .304.

    Heisey has done this many times over his career; been given a shot and failed to hit as a starter. He remains a decent PH and defensive replacement and that’s what he should be used as.

    Last year, Skip slashed .314/.417/.373 in August and for his career he’s .305/.351/.372 in August. Far from being due for a slump, he appears poised to break out. Luddy should be the main option in LF and I wouldn’t play Skip at 2B, but he should get the starts in LF that Ludwick doesn’t.

    • Do you really believe that Skip gets some super powers once the calendar goes from July to August? Think about it logically. Why would he be a better player on Aug 1 than he was on July 31? Skip has put up negative 1.1 fWAR this year. He’s a bad defender and doesn’t add anything on the bases. He used to be a just slightly below league average hitter, but not anymore. No power, poor defense, below average base running, and his OBP skills have apparently disappeared. No reason for skip to play or even be on the roster at this point.

      • Maybe he likes the hot weather. This isn’t a small sample size; it’s 10 years and almost 500 ABs. Players are human beings not mere statistical abstracts.

        Skip is starting to hit; Heisey isn’t. That is reason enough to favor the former over the latter.

        • Last 7 days:
          Schumaker- .267/.294/.267/.561
          Heisey- .214/.267/.429/.695

          Last 30 days:
          Schumaker- .207/.288/.259/.546, 0 SB/1 CS
          Heisey- .254/.294/.444/.739, 2 SB/1 CS

          Woaaah, .561 OPS the last 7 days, you’re right. Skip is starting to tear it up. He’s pretty much on a rampage. Heisey has a far higher OPS over 7 and 30 days, AND still plays plus defense and good base running compared to Schumaker’s negative defense and baserunning.

          Also, since when is July not “hot weather”? July is the hottest month on average in Cincinnati.

  15. While it was nice to see Cozart have a great offensive game we have to be honest and know this is an aberration. He won’t consistently hit, not with all his mechanical flaws in the swing.

    I hope he gets better though. The last two months of the seasonlast year he got hot. I thought he turned a corner. He regressed pretty hard this season.

  16. I really don’t want to pile on but Heisey has been particularly awful with RISP and men on base: batting .156 and .171 respectively. Skip even in this subpar year is still much better at .244 and .250 respectively.

    • Schumaker’s defensive shortcomings outweigh any marginal OBP advantage he might have over Heisey, regardless of the month. Not to mention the power and speed. I used to believe Skip might be better at the “little things” like moving a runner over, but he’s been terrible in those areas, too. Oh, and he absolutely can’t hit LHP. Heisey is simply a better option for this team.

      • None of the things you claim hold up to statistical analysis as I have already shown. Skip is hitting 51 points higher this year against LHP than Heisey! Skip also has more RBIs than Heisey even though Heisey has more PAs.

        Skip seems adequate in LF no matter what the metrics claim (supposedly he was a little bit below average last year but absolutely terrible this year). Defensive metrics are unreliable and swing wildly from year to year. Do you believe in them wholeheartedly? If so, you believe that Ryan Ludwick is a better OF than Jay Bruce in 2014.

        Heisey absolutely can’t hit when he starts. He therefore can’t be a better option on a team sorely in need of offense.

        • I believe my eyes. Watching Schumaker play defense this year has been painful. Even Ludwick is better (via the eye test) and he can’t hold a candle to Heisey.

        • I don’t think the “eye test” is going to hold up in this kind of conversation.

        • Ren, I was using the “eye test” solely in response to the defensive metrics point raised above. I’m not surprised the metrics say Schumaker is terrible, but I don’t “believe in them wholeheartedly”. In this case, they match what my eyes tell me, which is that he’s a lousy defender who gives away more defensively vs Heisey than he adds with the bat.

        • Actually, BBRef has him as a better defender this year than last.. though that’s very relative. -2.2 dWAR last year, and -0.7 dWAR this year (of course this year will continue to get worse as he continues to play, but probably safe to say he won’t reach the -2.2 dWAR of pure awfulness.)

  17. ……and Heisey will be due a substantial arbitration raise this offseason. I don’t see how he doesn’t get released…….

    I find it curious that Price hasn’t given Ludwick more playing time. I would think if the intent is to have Ludwick stretch run ready (in the absence of any better options) then he would be playing more than he is. It’s just speculation, but I think this could be interpreted to mean that everyone we’re using in LF are just placeholders for a waiver wire pickup. Alex Rios is so obvious, I can’t believe the deal hasn’t been consummated.

  18. Tonight’s lineup:

    Hamilton CF
    Bruce RF
    Frazier 1B
    Mesoraco C
    Ludwick LF
    Negron 2B
    Santiago 3B
    Cozart SS
    Bailey P

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