2012 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: The key word is “struggle”

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL — 13 innings
Washington 2
Cincinnati 1

W: C. Stammen (2-0)
L: S. Marshall (0-1)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–A vintage Bronson Arroyo outing: 7.1 innings, no runs allowed on three hits and one walk, with four strikeouts. You can’t ask for much more out of Bronson at this point.

–Joey Votto was the lone offensive bright spot. Votto reached base five times, going 2-3 with three walks.

–Some good relief work in this one, from Aroldis Chapman, Logan Ondrusek, and…wait for it…Alfredo Simon! Believe it or not.

NEGATIVES
–The offense is struggling, ladies and germs. No other way to put it, and I don’t know what the answer is. (Of course, that wasn’t exactly the strongest lineup I’ve ever seen on the field.)

–After Bronson Arroyo left the game, it took Bill Bray precisely two pitches to give up a homer and the lead. (Some of you thought Ryan Ludwick should have caught that ball, but that’s a very difficult play.)

–Sean Marshall had a rough outing in only his third game of the season. Marshall only notched one out in the bottom of the thirteenth inning before giving up the game-winning hit. It seemed like the strike zone got squeezed pretty tight for Marshall during that inning, for what it’s worth.

–Can’t blame Bray or Marshall for this one, though. The responsibility for this loss, once again, falls squarely on an offense that simply is not producing.

–Drew Stubbs (.129/.182/.129) and Wilson Valdez (.250/.250/.313) were each 0-6. Scott Rolen (.115/.179/.192) and Jay Bruce were 0-5, but at least Rolen drew a base on balls.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–That wasn’t fun, was it? “Deflating” is the proper term, I’d say.

–Votto reached base five times. The rest of the Cincinnati roster reached base five times. That’s ugly.

–If you have been a loyal reader for any amount of time, you know that I am generally patient with players. I try not to make sweeping pronouncements about players when they are struggling. So all I’ll say is this: I’m starting to get very concerned about Drew Stubbs.

–The Reds have now lost four out of five games. They have scored a grand total of nine runs during that span. Is that good?

–Brandon Phillips made an appearance for the first time since signing that big contract extension. He pinch hit in the thirteenth inning, but did not get a hit.

–The good guys are going to win tomorrow, right? Right?

76 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: The key word is “struggle”

  1. The bullpen issue has been discussed to death, so I won’t go into it too much. Long story short, I don’t think Dusty mis-managed it last night. If Bray gets the out, no one’s having this conversation. And if you can’t trust Bray to get an out in a close game in the 8th inning, he shouldn’t be on the roster. I don’t think anyone really has a problem with Bray being on the roster. So baseball happened, move on.

    But the offense is a legitimate concern. This isn’t just a slump by key players. This is indicative of how our roster is built and how Dusty sets his lineups. He doesn’t want to talk about it, but it’s killing us. Ludwick is showing he doesn’t belong on a ML roster anymore. Rolen, god bless him, might very well be done despite still having an elite glove. Our bench is comically thin – BP goes down for 4 days and we are suddenly starting Wilson Valdez, Willie Harris, and Ryan Ludwick? That’s not something a contender does. I dont’ know what the answer is. It’s not just batting Bruce cleanup or starting Mesoraco more. It’s not making Chris Heisey the everyday LFer. It’s not bringing up Todd Frazier. It clearly has to be bigger than that. A major trade. Firing Jacoby. Sending Stubbs down (for the life of me I can’t figure out why that hasn’t happened for at least a week in the last year and a half…he clearly needs it). I don’t know if those are rela answers either, but they at least look like serious moves. This is a seriously flawed team and, as happy as I am to know Joey and BP are going to be around for a long time, I don’t know what our options are now to improve. When we made those deals the fine print read “And Jay Bruce will become an MVP candidate, Mat Latos will win 18 games, and Drew Stubbs will hit 30 homeruns.” If those things don’t happen, there’s no one knocking on the door in Louisville to help this team out anymore.

  2. @CP: wow, what a leap. From pointing out that the actual results of last night refute your claim of what should have been done to having it framed as being “completely results oriented”. Try to stick with what I have said rather than an extreme viewpoint crafted to fit your point.

    Your are talking long view, but are demanding short view actions. Yes, Marshall had not pitched in a while. That does not change the fact that we have Bailey and Leake the next two days and two games in a row after that. You want to pretend that every game exists separately from every other one. If Bray gets the out, then it is a brilliant move because it keeps our powder dry for the weekend’s games– Games where we can’t necessarily count on the kind of performance we got from Arroyo as the starter.
    Additionally, it gives you a check on where Bray is in terms of his abilities at this time– If Bray becomes a solid late inning reliever, not just a specialist, then you are one step closer to getting Chapman in the rotation. One step closer of many, another step last night was JJ Hoover closing well at AAA, another was how well Simon pitched in a High Leverage situation last night.
    If Bray, Simon and Hoover can hold down the fort eventually, and allow Chapman to start, then if Bailey falters we are ready. Or if Bailey pitches well enough to intrigue someone, maybe we can pry loose a bat.

    So pitching Bray, if successful, not only sets your bullpen up for the weekend, gives you an indication where your bullpen is in terms of overall depth, has the potential to increase Bray’s confidence and moves the team more to a point where Chapman can be used as a starter.

    And your idea of pitching the best pitcher, period. Does nothing to develop depth, doesn’t set you up for the weekend as well and to re-iterate the obvious based on the results of last night’s game, does not guarantee you any different of a result.

    The fact is Bray LOST THE LEAD, while Marshall LOST THE GAME, so the fact is that Marshall did pitch in the HIGHER LEVERAGE SITUATION LAST NIGHT– and he failed.

  3. Only Cozart has reached double figures in hits with 10. Only 3 players have hit 1 HR and only 1 player has more than 1. Rolen is 3 for 26 and that equals .115 BA. Stubbs has the most official AB’s with 31 and has 4 hits and 11 K’s ( a .129 BA). Once again living up to the back of the baseball card. You may not be able to cut many players but there are a few who can be used to shuffle the deck without losing them all together. Could they use a different voice as a hitting coach and maybe see some weaker pitching ( see AAA ) to gain some confidence? Cooul some pitch recognition drills couldn’t hurt either because guessing is not working? What was spring training for anyhow? For some it wasn’t long enough.

  4. I’m going to throw this out there, i think Castellini has more control of personnel then people think, I believe he has the final word on more things then people think. I also believe he has “Big Red Machine” dreams, I’m sure he was all about the Big Red Machine in the 70s, hence signing guys to long term deals and really trying to create a powerhouse team that is all reds and guys who will always be known as Reds, noble as this may seem, i believe the big red machine was a once in a lifetime thing and was 40 years ago, i think the dynamics in the game have changed immensely.

  5. I like Drew Stubbs. I want him to succeed. The Reds have a lot of money and effort invested in him as a first round draft pick. I don’t think you can give up on him yet. At minimum however, he needs a day to get out of his own head. He has vapor lock at the plate. It’s as bad as anything I’ve ever seen. So, my lineup for today would be:

    2B Phillips
    SS Cozart
    1B Votto
    RF Bruce
    3B Rolen
    CF Heisey
    LF Ludwick
    C Mesoracco
    P Bailey

    If BP isn’t available, I’d go:

    SS Cozart
    3B Rolen
    1B Votto
    RF Bruce
    CF Heisey
    LF Ludwick
    C Messoraco
    2B Harris
    P Bailey

    Baker may want to rest Rolen, but I don’t think you can do so unless BP is in the lineup. If Rolen is rested I’d use Harris at 3B as he’s a LH hitter and RHP Edwin Jackson is going for the Nats…

    Ahhhhh, imaginary lineups. The season has officially begun.

  6. …and one more thing about High Leverage situations. The High Leverage situation idea treats all games equally. That’s rubbish. There is no way that the 8th game of the season is as High Leverage of a situation as the same scenario in September with the pennant on the line. You know it and I know it — but there is no allowance statistically for that.
    Nor is there an allowance or adjustment for a game vs your primary foe in your division.
    Nor is there an allowance for the Playoffs.

    Please don’t tell me that there is no difference in the 8th game of the season in Washington and the 154th game in St. Louis. It’s just not reasonable.

  7. FYI Valaika is hitting .324 @ Louisville. Soft J is hitting .345 If it’s helping them could it do some other players some good?

  8. @67stats33eyes: How far out of the race are you by the time that 154th game comes around? I’m a firm believer in the “every game counts” philosophy. That’s why it’s inexcusable to trot out a lineup like the one Dusty did last night. You have one of your best hitters down for a few days – that’s when you need your best hitters to step up and maybe not take a scheduled rest day. There is no excuse for not starting Cozart last night except that it was written on Dusty’s calendar a week ago.

    • @67stats33eyes: How far out of the race are you by the time that 154th game comes around? I’m a firm believer in the “every game counts” philosophy. That’s why it’s inexcusable to trot out a lineup like the one Dusty did last night. You have one of your best hitters down for a few days – that’s when you need your best hitters to step up and maybe not take a scheduled rest day. There is no excuse for not starting Cozart last night except that it was written on Dusty’s calendar a week ago.

      But when do you develop guys?
      If you were to only use your best pitchers in high leverage situations (and by some miracle that worked out with quirks in the schedule, bad starts and extra innings), what would your circumstances be when one of the guys you had been using comes up lame in the heat of the pennant race? You would be sending someone into the high leverage situation having never really faced it before. The only way you can be confident in your depth is if you use your depth.
      And how do you know that your bench guys are ready to perform? Is it reasonable to only use the bench on a need basis? Don’t you want them to have some comfort level?
      And what about keeping guys fresh? Won’t they be more productive if they don’t wear down?
      I think that early in the season is a better time to get everyone working together, it builds the teams depth, and let’s everybody be involved. Then when needs arise, players are ready.

  9. I know it’s only been eight games. However, without a cleanup hitter, Votto will walk 130 times and the offense will not be as effective as it needs to be. It is painfully obvious that Rolen needs to be further down in the lineup and that LF is not looking like a bright spot. What about Carlos Lee? . . . Would he help in the cleanup spot (I know his defense stinks)? . . . I’m sure he could be had relatively cheap (player wise), provided Bob pick up a portion of the salary.

  10. @LWBlogger: All right, I’ll grant you that Ludwick makes that play half the time. Now, Nady has hit at a .250 clip in his last three years and worse for his career as a pinch hitter. In those three years, he has hit 11 home runs in 591 PAs (1.8%). Bray, since coming back in 2010, has allowed 8 HR to 320 BF (2.5%). Bray and Nady had faced each other three times with Nady getting one single.
    Given all of that, generally, wasn’t it highly unlikely that Nady hits a home run?
    And specifically, given our agreed upon 50% rate of Ludwick catching the ball that was hit.
    Wasn’t it statistically, incredibly, microscopically unlikely to have what happened happen?
    So wasn’t it a reasonable move to pitch Bray in that situation?
    Wouldn’t you bet that the outcome would have been different in the vast majority of instances?
    I think we just had one of those things happen that happens, and blame doesn’t need to be assigned to anyone?

  11. @George Culver: I’ll throw out the names of a hitter and a pitcher who have improved with age… Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto certainly seem to have improved with age. Maybe Bruce isn’t a super-star yet, but he’s a very nice RF and he’s gotten better each season.

  12. @67stats33eyes: Yes, it was a baseball thing that just happened. Bray left a fastball up to Nady. Nady hits fastballs up. He didn’t miss it. The park almost held it… If he was trying to avoid using Chapman for one more day, going to Bray there wasn’t a horrible move. He ended up using Chapman anyway but he had to think that Bray was going to burn Chad Tracy (the LH pinch-hitter) and at least keep Nady in the park.

  13. Until the clean-up hitter is resolved, the Reds offense will not get better. What good is Joey Votto for the next 12 years if nobody will pitch to him. It’s like buying a brand new Ferrari and driving it 100 miles a year the next decade.

    Joey walked 110 times last year and is on pace for 140 this year roughly. He gets on base, which is great, but they paid him to hit. Rolen has a spot on this team, he plays a great third base, but in no universe should a 37 year old player with multiple shoulder surgeries and back injuries be protecting your MVP and long term investment. His bat just isn’t there and giving him more AB’s than Jay Bruce is a travesty.

    Finding a LF (as Rolen is worth playing for defensive reasons but should not hit anywhere above 7th in the lineup) who can protect Joey and make pitchers actually face him is a priority and needs to be fixed immediately if the offense will turn around.

  14. I didn’t really want to look at the totals today but I finally made myself:

    Hitting– .204/.268/.326/.593 for perspective:

    Paul Janish ’11 — .214/.259/.262/.521
    Wily Taveras ’09 — .240/.275/.285/.559
    Paul Bako ”08 — .217/.299/.328/.626
    Corey Patterson ’08 — .205/.238/.344/.582

    wow are we not hitting

    • I didn’t really want to look at the totals today but I finally made myself:

      Hitting– .204/.268/.326/.593 for perspective:

      Paul Janish ’11 — .214/.259/.262/.521
      Wily Taveras ’09 — .240/.275/.285/.559
      Paul Bako ”08 — .217/.299/.328/.626
      Corey Patterson ’08 — .205/.238/.344/.582

      wow are we not hitting

      A team OPS of .593 and a team OBP of .268 is beyond miserable. There is no way this can continue for the season. While I had some questions about 3B, LF, and CF going into the year, it is very unlikely that all 3 spots will continue being as miserable as we’re seeing. These would be historically, epically bad numbers. I don’t think our offense will be nearly that bad.

  15. @zab1983: It’s all good. We’re all Reds fans here, I guess I’m just eternally optimistic when it comes to my Reds. It was early August last year before I accepted that they just weren’t very good.😯
    …I do think (hope?) Walt make some moves if things don’t start looking better over the next month. But it’s only April 14th. Have faith my friend. Have faith.

  16. @zab1983: Totally agree..Stubbs has had plenty of time to figure out the strike zone..he is now swinging at pitches 2 feet ouside.. if he makes contact at all it’s a accident

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