What went wrong in 2011? (Okay, what didn’t go wrong?)

This is a week or two old, but I hadn’t had a chance to link to it yet. Our friend Mo Egger has given the Reds a detention lecture:

Where do we begin? Let’s start by ignoring common sense. Jonny Gomes was great in 2010. At least he was great for two months of 2010. The rest of the time he was Jonny Gomes … bad defensively, awful against righties, not an overwhelming power threat, unable to hit anything that wasn’t a fastball, and he had gimmicky hair, which is only cool if you’re nine years old. And still, you decided to bring him back as the every day left fielder! This defied logic and everyone knew it, but you still brought him back and stuck him in the middle of your lineup damn near every day, because the guy was productive for a few weeks last year.

(Jonny Gomes seemed to possess this weird power over local broadcasters this season. Every fifth or sixth game, Jonny would do something positive, and whichever of the 32 announcers the team employs was working that night would start going on and on about Jonny was about to bust out and how even when he was slumping he brought such tremendous energy and excitement to the team. It would be like this until the next time Gomes came up and he whiffed on three pitches.)

Same too with your approach at third base. Scott Rolen spent the second half of 2010 looking like it was painful just to walk. Rolen would run the bases and you could hear his knees squeaking in the 20th row. The expression he wore on his face at the end of last season reminded me of the same look you see on a guys attending a couples shower.

(I refuse to be friends with anyone who invites me to a couples shower. No one should open presents with a bunch of people watching unless that person is under 12 years old, or unless the present is being paid to take her clothes off.)

And yet having witnessed Rolen’s a half-season full of creakiness at third base, you stuck him right back there this season. And to top it off, despite his home run stroke going the way of MySpace, Rolen usually hit cleanup. This meant that Joey Votto saw a hittable pitch less often than the average Miami resident sees the Marlins play in person. Scott Rolen was less reliable than Scott Weiland, and yet you never had viable replacements until it was way too late.

There’s much, much more, and I encourage you to read the entire piece. Mo also discusses what the Reds should do to improve for 2012.

I agree with nearly everything in the article; well, everything except for the stuff about Juan Francisco and Ramon Hernandez.

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! 29 Comments

  1. The proper grammar is to say Katy Perry “lying” next to him.

  2. Excellent article, I agree with just about everything.

    I disagree strongly with the recommendation to trade Hanigan and keep Ramon to tutor Mesoraco. He’s got that backwards.

    Also I’ve mostly praised CoCo for his 2011 season, but no way it was an All Star season.

    As for Francisco, I’m not sure he’s wrong. Let’s hope he’s right.

  3. @pinson343: In a beat reporters’ session during the last week of the season, Marty opined that the backup catcher position will be offered to Ramon. Did not say either way that he agreed or disagreed with the decision just that he thought that was the decision.

    Said he looked for them to tell Ramon how they wanted to use him and then offer him arbitration, essentially making it his decision to stay or go.

    Fay said how about Hanigan?, he’s signed. Marty said at terms which make him very attractive on the trade market.

    If Alonso is not in the 3B mix, then I too hope Francisco works out. He had the longest look (most PT) of any of the call ups. I thought he was OK on both sides of the ball. Clearly much improved on defense. Still needs to develop more plate discipline but showed power and some timeliness at the plate.

  4. I know I am swimming up stream with most folks around here but except for Hanigan maybe being cheaper, I’m not sold on him as the #2 over Ramon or them going out and getting a another journeyman for the #2 spot.

    For the season, the Reds had two starting pitchers that turned out to be reliable, Cueto and Leake, and both of them clearly preferred throwing to Hernandez. That has to be something to consider in evaluating the incumbents for the #2 guy as a mentor to Meso.

    Also I think Hernandez would give them a legitimate right hand gap shot and HR power threat off the bench late in games at the point where you would use your second catcher as a PH; and Hanigan would not.

    Also Hanigan’s health (back) could be a matter for concern. He never really threw well all year. He was way off at the plate until he got hot in August. He ended up missing the last 3 weeks with the back issue; but, how much of his throwing problems and hitting tail off might have been the back bothering him all year? I think toward the end somebody did whisper something about a possible “disc issue” as opposed to just spasms. So all in all this could be a more serious situation that was building up all year and is not simply going to resolve with rest.

    And finally, it will be a whole different situation for either Hanigan or Hernandez as the #2 next year. Instead of catching 3 or 4 games a week, the #2 is probably going to catch at most a game a week and perhaps even less on stretches with off days. Is that a role Hanigan will embrace at age 31/32?

  5. The article started well then just got annoying.

  6. @Buster_ESPN
    Buster Olney
    All speculation, but if I were in Theo’s shoes, some managerial candidates I’d ask for permission to speak to: Bochy; Wedge; Pete Mackanin.

    If the Sox hire Pete after we let him go for Dusty Baker, I will kill myself.

  7. I really like Pete Mackanin. I think he’s got Joe Madden potential (I’ll jump off the bridge if you do, landops).

    This article was like an even more overwritten and less talented Bill Simmons, but he hit all the obvious points that every Reds fan I’ve talked to for the last 48 weeks or so has made about this roster: We needed viable backup plans for Gomes and Rolen, and we needed to trade some of surplus blocked 24-year-old prospects for an upgrade at LF, 3B, SS or SP before they turned 25 and lost their prospect status.

    I wouldn’t hate it if they traded Hanigan and kept Hernandez, if they got a legit RP in return. Hanigan isn’t young, either.

  8. I just want to take the opportunity to thank Chad Dotson for all the time and effort he puts in to give us fans Redleg Nation. You won’t find more knowledgeable Reds fans anywhere, reading the comments while the game is in progress is enjoyable and informative. I’ll be looking forward to the 2012 edition of Redleg Nation. Thanks again Chad. Go Reds! we’ll get ’em next year.

    • I just want to take the opportunity to thank Chad Dotson for all the time and effort he puts in to give us fans Redleg Nation. You won’t find more knowledgeable Reds fans anywhere, reading the comments while the game is in progress is enjoyable and informative. I’ll be looking forward to the 2012 edition of Redleg Nation. Thanks again Chad. Go Reds! we’ll get ‘em next year.

      I second that. Now seems the time to do it. Thanks to Chad and the other RLN writers. Posting recaps of all those dreary losses showed true grit, as I said at one point.

  9. @Travis G.: Simmons is often annoying, but his column blogging game 162 over at ESPN made me cry I was laughing so hard.

    As an aside, anyone here think Dusty would have started Matt Moore (1 career start before yesterday) in game 1 over Wade Davis, the old trusty veteran? I didn’t think so. How weird is it that there’s a division series where the game 1 starter goes 7 IP, 6 H, 0 runs, 6 K, and he’s not going to pitch again in the series if it goes 5 games. Anyways, Moore is freaking good—that guy throws 98 MPH gas with a windup that looks like he’s going to lob the ball to the catcher. So good, that I think Shields is available this offseason, no matter what anyone says.

    • As an aside, anyone here think Dusty would have started Matt Moore (1 career start before yesterday) in game 1 over Wade Davis, the old trusty veteran?I didn’t think so.
      Anyways, Moore is freaking good—that guy throws 98 MPH gas with a windup that looks like he’s going to lob the ball to the catcher.So good, that I think Shields is available this offseason, no matter what anyone says.

      I said on a separate thread how much I like Joe Maddon and his decision to go with Matt Moore in game 1. No way Dusty would have done that.

      And I had the same thought that Shields is available and the Rays need more offense. WJ, Dusty, and Price have all said that the Reds need another top notch starting pitcher. Something is going to happen, I would think with the Rays, Mariners, or Giants.

      • I said on a separate thread how much I like Joe Maddon and his decision to go with Matt Moore in game 1. No way Dusty would have done that.

        And I had the same thought that Shields is available and the Rays need more offense. WJ, Dusty, and Price have all said that the Reds need another top notch starting pitcher. Something is going to happen, I would think with the Rays, Mariners, or Giants.

        Dusty is like the remaining offensive coaches at OSU up in Columbus, OH. He doesn’t always appreciate the young talent available and even when he does he tries to force it into the broken mold of a system whose time is passed.

  10. @Dave Lowenthal: I generally like Simmons, too (I also loved that BoSox meltdown blog), but his schtick can get tiresome when he doesn’t have much to say — yet spends two or three thousand words saying it. But his style is usually insufferable in the hands of a less talented writer.

  11. OK , so, it wasn’t just the followers of this blog that saw and said the very same things that Moe did about this season. Summed it all up pretty well. I was beginning to think that it was just the people on this blog that thought and wrote the same things that he did.

  12. It wasn’t that great a column but did hit a lot of the reasons why Walt and Dusty did a crappy job.

    Bad to plan on Rolen or Renteria being good. A lot of folks noticed those blunders.
    Yes, while overall Gomes stinks, but not if you let him only face left-handers (0.863 OPS this year, pretty useful if used correctly)

    o “And the inconsistent starting pitching”…
    Inconsistent? WTF! They consistently stunk except Cueto and Leake. Volquez was atrocious, Arroyo was predictably in serious decline, Wood was a huge disappointment, and Bailey is the new Bret Tomko.

    o “Juan Francisco showed enough raw strength while improving with the glove enough to give you reason to sit Scott Rolen and his $6.5 million salary next season”…
    Only if you want to lose.

    o “It’s put up or shut up time for Drew Stubbs and Edinson Volquez”…
    Volquez has already proven to be a big bust. He should not be permitted to pitch for the Reds again.
    Stubbs is never going to be that good. Period. But Heisey (who Egger seems to like) doesn’t look to be that big an improvement (0.316 career OBP).

    The one thing I agree with is if they can’t get Votto extended beyond 2013 they should probably trade him (and then Alonso would not have to move to LF)

  13. Your right, the article failed to mention the low light of the year when Dusty forgot the count and ordered a squeeze play with two strikes. Cairo strikes out and kills another rally. Brilliant.

  14. First off – Everyone (and I mean everyone) was awe struck after the Reds made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

    Problems:
    1. Young players are not listening to their batting coach Jacoby – we need someone they would respect and listen to – where is Eric Davis btw?
    2. Dusty is a moron! Real simple – next
    3. The GM sat on his thumb – guess where that was most of the year (hint:had some brown stuff on it)
    4. Stubbs is dust (FREE AND START HEISEY)
    5. Francisco is the real deal – and he is the same age as Bruce (who was overly influenced by the dual Prima Donas)
    6. Rolen should pack it in as should Arroyo – they both know they are spent and it is high time to move on with the young bucks
    7. Joey Votto – no matter how well he hits will never be a leader (put Yolander at 1B and get some talent for Joey – like Baustita)
    8. Keep Hernandez behind the plate and jetison Ryan Hannigan – he would be a great mentor for Messaroco

    • First off – Everyone (and I mean everyone) was awe struck after the Reds made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

      Problems:
      1.Young players are not listening to their batting coach Jacoby – we need someone they would respect and listen to – where is Eric Davis btw?
      2.Dusty is a moron! Real simple – next
      3.The GM sat on his thumb – guess where that was most of the year (hint:had some brown stuff on it)
      4.Stubbs is dust (FREE AND START HEISEY)
      5.Francisco is the real deal – and he is the same age as Bruce (who was overly influenced by the dual Prima Donas)
      6.Rolen should pack it in as should Arroyo – they both know they are spent and it is high time to move on with the young bucks
      7.Joey Votto – no matter how well he hits will never be a leader (put Yolander at 1B and get some talent for Joey – like Baustita)
      8. Keep Hernandez behind the plate and jetison Ryan Hannigan – he would be a great mentor for Messaroco

      I think you forgot to nominate Ron Oester for manager.

  15. Don’t like what I am reading on Mlbtraderumors.com, the A’s are going to ask permission to speak to Bryan Price

  16. @zblakey: What do the A’s have to offer that would be more attractive to him? Not saying they don’t offer something that would appeal to him because I don’t know. And it seems to me Cueto and Chapman just by themselves offer a pitching coach an opportunity of a life time when it comes to making a reputation and legacy for himself.

  17. While I don’t wish to see Dusty back, I am glad to know that unlike some here, the Reds are willing to allow Stubbs another year to see what he has learned and if he can improve and that they understand this year’s numbers by Bronson are not a sign of decline, but a sign of a player who was ill and not at 100%.

    As for the Rays trading Shields, sure I guess it’s possible, the questionis what and how much are willing to give up for him.

    Overall I don’t see “major” moves happening this offseason…

  18. I can’t stomach any more discussion of LF/SS/3B. I really can’t. The reason why the Reds didn’t make the playoffs has nothing to do with LF/SS/3B.

    The Reds finished 1st in the NL in runs, 1st in OPS and 1st in HRs a year ago. There was absolutely NO reason to devote more resources to this team’s offense, whether that meant trading prospects OR spending money on FAs. The Reds did nothing and finished 2nd in the NL in runs, 5th in OPS, and 2nd in HRs, but did so after playing the last month with a bunch of AAA callups.

    If you can fault the Reds for anything it is failing recognize that they had a #2 and a bunch of 3-4 type guys like the Brewers did. The Reds could have gone after Marcum and Grienke. The Reds had better prospects to offer the Jays and Royals than Lawrie, Jeffers and Escobar. But instead, they thought Volquez, Bailey, Wood and Arroyo would give them a playoff rotation. It didn’t.

    This winter, the Reds either need to start all over with Bruce, Alonso, Mesoraco, Cueto, and Leake trading Chapman, Votto while they are at their highest value OR they need to empty the farm and get two established starters.

  19. @David: I agree with everything you say (emphatically) except I would trade for one top of the rotation starter (instead of two) and would not trade Chapman.

    • @David: I agree with everything you say (emphatically) except I would trade for one top of the rotation starter (instead of two) and would not trade Chapman.

      tRA+ adjusts tRA (FIP on PEDs) to the same scale as wOBA+ Below is a chart which identifies minimum requirements and league averages for each starter spot (based upon league performance of all pitchers)

      > 118 tRA+ = No. 1 – league average = 130
      > 106 tRA+ = No. 2 – league average = 112
      > 95 tRA+ = No. 3 – league average = 100
      > 86 tRA+ = No. 4 – league average = 91
      < 85 tRA+ = No. 5 – league average = 75

      tRA+ for Reds pitchers making at least 15 starts are Cueto (119), Leake (102), Bailey (98), Wood (94), Volquez (79), and Arroyo (67).

      You can pretty much tell where players fit.

      To have an above average rotation, the Reds probably only need to add a 120 tRA+ class pitcher. I'm not certain if one guy alone is sufficient to get the Reds to the playoffs, because only because I don't know whether Leake will sustain his success.

      An elite rotation probably looks like this:

      1. Trade targets (J. Johnson, M. Cain, S. Baker, J. Shields, F. Hernandez); FA targets (CJ Wilson)
      2. Cueto
      3. Trade targets (J. Danks, R. Nolasco, A. Sanchez); FA targets (M. Buehrle, J. Vazquez, H. Kuroda)
      4. Leake
      5. Volquez/Arroyo/Willis

  20. @David: PS The Reds do finally recognize what they lack in the starting rotation (duh). WJ and Dusty and Price have all said it. Dusty and Price were explicit about having a bunch of 4 and 5 guys.

  21. @pinson343: My only real disagreement is that if they spend the big resources (personnel and/ or money) for a huge up grade at the top of the rotation then they also need to do something significant about the pen. They’ve been waiting 2 years going on 3 for the likes of Massett, Ondrusek and even to a degree Bray (not to mention Burton) to (not quite) come around. Enough is enough….

  22. @David: Thanks for the analysis (and list of trade targets), this pinpoints where we differ a bit. I think Leake can cut it as a number 3 and Homer as a number 4.

    One problem with my thinking is that if it breaks down if Leake or even Bailey are traded, and the Reds might need to trade one of them to get the number 1.

  23. @OhioJim: I can’t say what to do about the pen. Upgrading the starting rotation is the first step for the Reds.
    From there I agree the next priority is the pen. Some of the surplus starters could help. I could see Volquez, Wood, Willis in the pen. The 8th inning guy and the closer ? Who knows ? Boxberger might be ready for the 8th inning soon.

    Most successful teams manage to put together a good pen without spending a lot of money. Figure it out, WJ.

  24. @pinson343: Let me try that again.
    My thinking (only need to trade for one top starter) breaks down if Leake or even Bailey are traded, and the Reds might need to trade one of them to get the number 1.

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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