Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You’d better get used to that idea.

Is it a coincidence that those words were spoken by a character in “The Shawshank Redemption” whose nickname was “Red”? After nine years of ugly baseball, that’s the only thing Reds fans have left: hope. We’re clinging to the hope that the Reds might have a competitive team again like we cling to the dream that our children might not have to grow up in a world where Duke is the NCAA champion. Most days, both those dreams seem unrealistic.

First things first: obviously, it isn’t is way too early to give up hope. That’s just silly. Yes, the Reds looked pretty bad yesterday. Yes, they looked like the same old Reds, unfortunately. Yes, the left side of the infield is old and slow and yes, the Reds made some mental mistakes and yes, the bullpen was very shaky and yes, the manager is going to hit his worst batter in the second spot in the lineup every single bloody day. All that’s true.

Yet…

…this team is the same team it was on Sunday. One game doesn’t change things. I’m every bit as enthusiastic about this team as I was in our Season Preview Extravaganza podcast over the weekend.

The Reds still have great young pitching. They still have Joey Votto and Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs and Ramon Hernandez (wait, what?). The future remains bright.

I’m not going to tell anyone to stop being so critical and to stop examining all the minutia surrounding this club. Hey, that’s what we do here, and it’s why I love the Nation. I’m just urging everyone to keep the hope. It’s a good thing; right, Andy?

Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 43 Comments

  1. “Masset will go to sleep tonight with that ERA, though.”
    I hope he didn’t get any sleep last night.

    • Masset will go to sleep tonight with that ERA, though.”
      I hope he didn’t get any sleep last night.

      He knew it when he threw it and before Pujols hit it…did you see his face on TV?

      There is a REAL chance that Masset was a fluke last year. Batting average on balls in play for him last year was .250 instead of the “normal” .300 or so. Baseball Prospectus says his defensive adjusted ERA was 2.83. This year they’re projecting 4.79 based on a .308 BABIP. Or…to quote BP’s commenton Masset: “Oh, the gifts the BABIP fairy can leave under your pillow.”…

      On the other hand, is K rate, BB rate, and line drive rate all improved and he’s a slight ground ball pitcher…we’ll know very soon…

      • He (Masset) knew it when he threw it and before Pujols hit it…did you see his face on TV?
        There is a REAL chance that Masset was a fluke last year.
        …On the other hand, his K rate, BB rate, and line drive rate all improved and he’s a slight ground ball pitcher…we’ll know very soon…

        For Masset, you’re referring to the Molina (not Pujols) HR ?

        I’ll go with the K rate, BB rate, and line drive rate over projections based on a return to average of BABIP. A ground ball pitcher should have a lower than average BABIP if he’s doing his thing and if (uh-oh) his IF defense is good.

        Either way, right, we’ll know soon.

  2. Um, you said it isn’t too early to give up hope. While I suppose that’s technically true, I’m deciding to forgo giving up hope at least until after the second game.

  3. For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would ever pitch to Albert Pujols. I think at this point it is safe to say he isn’t a fluke. Don’t give him anything to hit.. especially on a 1-2 count!

  4. Things will get better. Things will get better. Things will get better……………

  5. @Steve Price: Your average relievers go year to year and vary so much. One year they can be outstanding, then crappy the next, and back to very good after that. It is just so hard to tell. I like the fact that the Reds do have some quality arms in that bullpen. I’ll still take Masset over Mike Lincoln any day.

  6. I think BJ hits it, with the exception of the Rivera’s of the world, the performance of relief pitchers tends to be highly variable. The thing that gives me hope is that we have some depth to throw at any problems that develop, which is about all you can do at that position.

    As for Pujols, what can you say? I am not sure there is any situation I would pitch to him at this point, except maybe with the bases loaded. Maybe.

  7. On the Lincoln theme, apparently Dusty Baker actually said this:

    “I needed that second inning (from Lincoln) so I didn’t go through my whole bullpen,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You need that second inning bad.”

    Um.

    The Reds had SIX other pitchers to cover the last three innings yesterday. What is Baker talking about?

    Besides, who cares if they “go through the whole bullpen,” they have an off day today.

    Not saying this cost us the game, or that the loss was entirely Baker’s fault. But Opening Day would have played out entirely differently without giving up those two runs in the seventh.

    I’m all-in for the Reds this year, as always. But I will certainly be glad if WORLD is right and this is the end for Baker’s nightly mismanagement of my team.

    • The Reds had SIX other pitchers to cover the last three innings yesterday. What is Baker talking about?

      Baker is just letting the @%@$#% fall out of his mouth like always

      because not only did he have 6 other relievers
      it’s the 1st game of the year so probably all are rested
      AND they have the next day off
      AND they hadn’t used their long reliever yet

      I think someone mentioned this in the game thread but I’ll say it again here.
      If you have a pitcher, that use to be a starter and is now a long reliever and you’re starter only makes it through 5 and you are down 4-2 (or whatever it was) isn’t that the absolute best time to throw your long reliever out there and let him go 3 innings or 4 innings??

      instead Dusty through our worst pitcher out there AND wanted multiple innings out of him (instead of Owings). Do you let your worst pitcher face the heart of the order?

  8. Regarding pitching to Pujols, most of the time it’s the best thing to do. I can’t remember where this is, but a few years ago some people who are way smarter than me did some analysis and found that, when it comes down to it, the intentional walk is almost always a bad idea. There were a few good times to use it, but only a few. Normally, it’s best to try and get Pujols out. He does make an out 57% of the time (roughly).

    • Regarding pitching to Pujols, most of the time it’s the best thing to do.

      You may be right, I haven’t done the research, but his OPS is over 1.00 for his career. Doesn’t this mean that the numbers show you’re better off walking him every time and thus eliminating the chance of him taking more than one base, which the percentages are in favor of? I may be interpreting incorrectly, I’m just saying that if he is averaging more than 1 base per at bat, why not eliminate the possibility of him doing further damage by walking him every time?

  9. As long as we can have a good month, there is hope. The Cardinals are good, but they’re not deep, so you gotta see how it plays out. Bullpens can variate from year to year like you say, but the K/BB ratios on all three of their guys are not that good–that’s generally constant. A patient team will exploit that. Unfortunately, we’re not that team. Plus, the Cubs looked more dysfunctional than us.
    The other hopeful takeaway is that our young guys stepped up when needed.

  10. @PETEY: D’oh! You’re right. I’ve fixed that.

  11. I’m not ready to give up hope, because I like our depth in comparison to St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee. But I also like our as-yet unseen depth more than some of the guys we saw in action yesterday.

    I went into the season with an open mind on Cabrera, but I was not impressed with his work in Game 1.

  12. Wow, what a crazy post.

  13. […] .500 View Results  Loading … Polls Archive Recent Comments TC on Is it too early to give up hope?Travis G. on Is it too early to give up hope?Steve Price on Titanic Struggle RecapChris Garber on […]

    • FanGraphs ran a post today that seeks to quantify just how much Dusty’s biggest weakness costs the Reds.

      While Dusty’s lineups are a weakness, I’m not certain that’s his biggest weakness.

      My order:

      1) Pitching young pitchers too much
      2) Leaving his young starters in the game when they’re getting hammered early
      3) Lineup construction
      4) Thinking that players that get the bat on the ball should bat automatically bat second, double plays who cares?
      5) Not pitching all his relievers, especially not using the veterans early in the game
      6) Using his relievers at the wrong time (such as Lincoln going two)
      7) Not going with the hot hand (I ain’t no front runner)
      8) Forcing young hitters to swing and not take
      9) Preferring veterans over youth.
      10) He calls out the youth in public for their mistakes, but doesn’t do that to veterans

      Now…don’t get me wrong…Dusty is a three time manager of the year and those honors may be deserved…

      1) He’s great at managing veterans and keeping them happy
      2) He’s great at recruiting veterans to come and play for him
      3) He’s great at giving veteran pitchers the respect that they’ve earned
      4) He won’t overuse a veteran set up man by pitching him early in the game
      5) He respects the veteran’s role in the bullpen and doesn’t change his gameplan on a whim
      6) Veterans have earned the right to start and a rookie has to beat the veteran out of position (veterans like that)
      7) He will play a rookie if there’s absolutely no one else available to play

    • @ Travis, A question came to my mind over the Fangraphs’ list.

      They had the following listed for the Reds:

      CIN 4.608 Actual 4.846 Best 0.238 difference.

      Later they go on to explain that batting a pitcher 9th instead of 8th costs a team roughl .16 runs. They also mention batting the best hitter 3rd is the next most dramatic difference between optimal and actual estimates.

      Given that virtually every manager bats the pitcher 9th and the best hitter 3rd, can we actually say Dusty is costing the team wins with his batting order?

      I’m sure there’s an argument for going with the optimal over what “every one does” but this to me is proof of nothing more than standard baseball thinking needing to change.

  14. Oops. Forgot to close my tag. Sorry ’bout that.

  15. @francijx: No. It’s complicated, but basically, it comes down to OBP being the most important stat. I think the way this is often but into context is to run a simulation where Pujols is at every place in the order. That way, you can figure out how many runs he is worth per 27 outs. Even the monster that he currently is has limits, but if you walk him every time, his runs created become basically infinite because he never makes an out. If you never make an out, you never stop scoring. That, incidentally, is why OBP is still undervalued.

  16. @RiverCity Redleg: The biggest thing was, both of those HR pitches were belt high fastballs down the point of the plate. He isn’t supposed to miss those. It was bad misses by the pitchers, you do that to Pujols he will win almost every time.

  17. The lineups bother me more than his handling of the pitchers because it’s a persistent problem that wastes outs in each and every game. Dusty’s bullpen usage matters only when pitchers perform poorly, which happens a lot but not every single game.

  18. The problem is that Dusty doesn’t consider Lincoln our worst pitcher.

    • The problem is that Dusty doesn’t consider Lincoln our worst pitcher.

      Yep. I don’t agree that Dusty had to go 2 innings with anyone in the bullpen yesterday, but if he did, why Lincoln ?

  19. I wonder if Dusty’s lineup construction and personel evaluation abilities overflow into his personal life. I bet the best driver on his staff is in his kitchen preparing meals and has an old man with glaucoma as his choufer. And justifies it to his family, saying the guy has over 65 years of driving experience, I would think he knows what he doing. 😀

  20. PETEY: I don’t actually put too much stock in the projected numbers or the one-game lineups that FanGraphs used, but I have seen exercises using the more complete data from last year that back up what most of us see. Which is, Dusty uses the wrong players in the wrong spots.

    That FanGraphs post isn’t entirely worthless, but it’s for novelty purposes only.

  21. @Steve Price: Can it be said any better than that. Very eye opening. I did not realize he did some of those things.

    Lineups have the greatest importance in 1.) protection (If Votto had the pitcher lined up behind him, no one would ever pitch to him) 2.) PAs (For every spot higher a player is in the order they get an 10 more PAs a season).

    Too much attention is paid to who leads off or hits second or cleanup. It doesn’t matter so much since the lineup is reset every inning. Hitting is situational. It’s simple, if there ain’t anyone on, get on. If there is someone on, get’m over. If there is someone in scoring position, you get them the hell home. If the pitcher leaves a hanger over the plate, send it home with a fan in the left field bleachers. 😀

  22. Since some folks seem concerned about OC at short, I was just wondering what the other options were during the off-season(besides Janish, obviously). Scutaro comes to mind, but I’m guessing the price was too high.
    And, yeah, the Lincoln mystery continues… first start of Spring Training, first relief appearance of the regular season. It’s baffling, given the depth & quality overall.

    • Since some folks seem concerned about OC at short, I was just wondering what the other options were during the off-season(besides Janish, obviously). Scutaro comes to mind, but I’m guessing the price was too high.

      forgot about Scutaro and had no clue what he was signed for…so I looked it up

      2 years/$12.5 million
      $1M signing bonus
      10:$5M, 11:$5M, 12:$6M club option/$3M player option ($1.5M buyout)

      Cabrera
      1 year/$3.02M (2010), plus 2011 mutual option
      $1.5M signing bonus
      10:$0.77M, 11:$4M mutual option ($1M buyout of player exercises and club declines, $0.5M buyout if player declines)

  23. No we’re not going to give up after 1 game, or after 2 games or 3 …

    I don’t like the matchup for game 2: Wainwright vs. Cueto. After that we go on on a roll. Our starting rotation doesn’t have an ace or a number 2, but it might have 5 number 3s. Who knows, Bailey and Leake might be our best starters this year.

    • I think you’re onto something here. Over the course of the season, I’ll take a stand-up rotation like that, with or without a superstar. I’m not super worried about having a bona fide #1. And… Chapman is yet to come! We’ll see how it plays out I guess.

      Our starting rotation doesn’t have an ace or a number 2, but it might have 5 number 3s.

  24. I guess this entire post and thread brings up a huge question for me
    Did I have any hope for the team even before the season started?

    With Dusty running the show, I don’t think I had very much hope to begin with.
    My feeling has been that if the team does well, it’s despite Dusty

  25. We might not even be talking about this if Dusty, et al would decide that this team should never throw Albert Pujols a strike. The guy kills the Reds. I’ll take my chances pitching to Holliday any day over giving Pujols the opportunity to beat our brains in.

  26. Thanks for the info mike–interesting. Seems like they didn’t have the $$ to go after a top-tier SS. The left side of the infield is a concern, definitely. After Rolen and Cabrera start to fade, who’s waiting in the wings? Francisco? and…??

    • Thanks for the info mike–interesting. Seems like they didn’t have the $$ to go after a top-tier SS. The left side of the infield is a concern, definitely. After Rolen and Cabrera start to fade, who’s waiting in the wings? Francisco? and…??

      The Reds have more money than they know what to do with. That is, if they’re managing the team properly. Only one modern baseball team has EVER been sold that LOST money and that was the Seattle Pilots whom Bud Selig bought and moved to Milwaukee after only one year….and there’s been several books written about why the Pilots lost money.

      As for the future on the left…I really don’t think Francisco will be there…I don’t know…I thought I’d see Frazier take over for Phillips at second base this year, but they kept Francisco over Frazier to start the season. Cozart has the glove to play shortstop, but we won’t be happy with his offense. Francisco has the power, but no patience and no position.

      I tend to think they kept Francisco now because they want Frazier to get reps at 2b, but that would have to be the only acceptable reason in my mind. Frazier’s time is now, or he’s headed for utility land…may be they’re getting Frazier ready to play 2b…and then will send Francisco back down shortly to work on his D.

      As for the options question, which is valid…under the circumstances, I think they would have been better off playing Janish instead of actually wasting money on a marketing program and a .280 batting average, I mean, veteran shortstop.

    • Thanks for the info mike–interesting.Seems like they didn’t have the $$ to go after a top-tier SS.The left side of the infield is a concern, definitely.After Rolen and Cabrera start to fade, who’s waiting in the wings?Francisco?and…??

      After Cabrera has spent his season here (if it is a full season, and I hope it’s not more than 1 season) then the Reds will I think go in-house for their next SS. I have no problem with Janish and Cozart competing for the job next season, and then there’s that super-athletic young guy in the lower minors who will be coming along as another candidate.

    • Thanks for the info mike–interesting. Seems like they didn’t have the $$ to go after a top-tier SS. The left side of the infield is a concern, definitely. After Rolen and Cabrera start to fade, who’s waiting in the wings? Francisco? and…?

      Don’t forget that Scutaro was also a Type A free agent, which would have cost the Reds their second-round pick (since their first-rounder, at #12, was protected). The Red Sox could afford to give up theirs because they lost Billy Wagner and Jason Bay (and actually moved from #29 to #20, in addition to picking up supplemental picks).

      As much as we’re worried about Cabrera and no matter how much better (or not) Janish might be, the fact is that the Reds had only one ML-caliber SS until O-Cab signed. Even under the best-case scenario, Janish couldn’t play every inning of every game, and there were no other credible options on the 40-man roster. They had to sign someone, but I do wish I felt confident that our manager would play the best player, if Janish indeed proves himself to be.

  27. Well, shiver me timbers, here’s a current quote about revenue sharing, taken from from a Rob Neyer blog on espn.com (no doubt quoting someone else). Apparently the Brewers and Yankees are having some discussions…

    from the Yankees’ President Randy Levine to Brewers owner Mark Attanasio after Attanasio was lamenting the cost of re-signing Prince Fielder:

    “I’m sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running the Brewers,” Levine told ESPNNewYork.com in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “We play by all the rules and there doesn’t seem to be any complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years. Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your players.

    “The question that should be asked is: Where has the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing gone?”

    The Yankees’ payroll is expected to be about $200 million this year; the Brewers’ will be in the $80 million range.”

    Notice the Brew4ers’ payroll is similar to the Reds’ reported $73 million…and notice, the Yankees said that teams such as the Brewers have received hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years.

    • Apparently the Brewers and Yankees are having some discussions…from the Yankees’ President Randy Levine to Brewers owner Mark Attanasio after Attanasio was lamenting the cost of re-signing Prince Fielder:“I’m sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running the Brewers,” Levine told ESPNNewYork.com in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “We play by all the rules and there doesn’t seem to be any complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years. Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your players.
      “The question that should be asked is: Where has the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing gone?”
      The Yankees’ payroll is expected to be about $200 million this year; the Brewers’ will be in the $80 million range.”Notice the Brew4ers’ payroll is similar to the Reds’ reported $73 million…and notice, the Yankees said that teams such as the Brewers have received hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years.

      In fairness to the Brewers (and Reds), they have used the (mostly Yankee) revenue sharing money to rebuild their scouting and player development systems, and generally upgrade their organizations. This has already helped the Brewers, and hopefully it’s on the verge of helping the Reds in the win column.

      The Reds have spent a lot of money for scouting and development in Latin America, and are not the cheapskate organization they used to be. Under Marge Schott they wouldn’t pay their scouts for travel expense incidentals, like their laundry.

      When I complain about the Yankees, which I do, I factor into the conversation that their revenue sharing money has helped teams like the Brewers and the Reds.

  28. Huh, I didn’t even know there was any revenue sharing going on in the MLB. I guess I need to do some more research. I have to say, even though the Chapman deal added some excitement to the spring, I kept wondering “where the heck are they getting that $30 million?” It’s probably not whether they have the money–it’s what they choose to do with it. (On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like the gap between $73 and $200 mil is going to be closed any time soon)… Now I’m wondering what the Cubs’ and Cardinals’ payrolls are.

  29. @pinson343: Yes, I agree completely. They are all #3s. The rotation does not have a number 1 starter right now. An argument can be made that Arroyo is a #2 with the work he put in at the end of last year, but I agree he also should be a #3 due to the fact half the year he is a number 1, half of the year he is a number 5. We all know Harang is better than his record, but I’d be hard pressed to rank him above a #3 as well (3 is being generous at this point though). Hopefully Bailey can step up and have an awesome year.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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