2012 Reds / Series Preview

Series Preview: Reds vs. Brewers

Starting today, the Reds face the Brewers for only the second time this year. But don’t worry, we’ll be seeing plenty of them from here on out.

The Reds, as you know, are in first place. The Brewers are, um, not. Really not. Frankly, the Brewers have to be about as disappointing to their fans as the Reds were to us last year. This is a team that was supposed to be a serious competitor. But, instead, they are 6 1/2 games back and haven’t really looked good all year. Let’s take a look at the team and talk about what went wrong here.

Likely Lineup

  1. Norichika Aoki (L) – RF
  2. Nyjer Morgan (L) –  CF
  3. Ryan Braun (R) – LF
  4. Aramis Ramirez (R) – 3B
  5. Corey Hart (R) – 1B
  6. Richie Weeks (R) – 2B
  7. Martin Maldonado (R) – C
  8. Cody Ransom (R) – SS

This is a team that, in general, has hit. Offense was supposed to be the question with the Brewers. It’s true that Morgan, Ransom, who’s playing for the injured Alex Gonzalez, and Weeks haven’t hit, but there’s a fair bit of production here. Overall, the offense has been above average. Ryan Braun, while not quite Joey Votto, has been extraordinary with a .320/.401/.617 line.

Pitching Probables

  • Mat Latos (5-2 4.97 FIP) vs. Yovani Gallardo (6-5, 4.07 FIP)
  • Bronson Arroyo (3-5 4.46 FIP) vs. Marco Estrada (0-3, 5.01 FIP)
  • Homer Bailey (5-5 4.53 FIP) vs. Zack Greinke (8-2, 2.06 FIP)

Gallardo is one of several Brewers pitchers who’ve been a bit unlucky this year. His ERA is higher than it should be, and even his FIP shows some bad luck as he’s probably given up more home runs than should be expected. Of course, that’s not likely to get better at GABP. We all keep waiting for Mat Latos to click. Once he does, it’s going to be fun. Today is as good a time as ever.

Amazingly, the second game of the series is the one the Reds should most expect to win. I say amazingly because I don’t think any of us thought Arroyo would look this good this year. His control has been simply fabulous. Even if he does lose his mojo after six innings, I’ve become comfortable with him being out there. Estrada hasn’t been good, but he hasn’t been this bad, either. It’s unlikely that he keeps giving up homers at a rate that makes Bronson look stingy with the long ball. Still, this is the game the Reds must feel like they have in hand.

What do you say about Zack Greinke? Let’s just call him scary good, hope Homer has a good day, and that the Brewers boot a few balls.

The Bullpen

This is where I get to talk about why the Brewers are disappointing. Their defense stinks. Stinks. They simply aren’t turning balls put in play into outs. The result is a lot of guys with uglier numbers than they deserve. Among their six primary relievers, only Kameron Loe has an ERA lower than his FIP. FIP, by the way, stands for Fielding Independent Pitching for a reason.

The DL

The Brewers do have some significant injuries. Here they are:

  • Marco Estrada (RP)
  • Jonathan Lucroy (C)
  • Shaun Marcum (SP)
  • Alex Gonzalez (SS) – Out for the season

29 thoughts on “Series Preview: Reds vs. Brewers

  1. I was never too worried about the Brewers preseason for the reason you mentioned (defense), but pitching depth is a major issue for them. Doesn’t help that their farm system is barren.
    As for Grienke, he’s been poor on the road w/ the Crew, let’s hope some of that rings true Wednesday.

  2. I think it’s becoming apparent that we need to fix LF or CF or both. The cheapest option would be to find a LH platoon partner for Ludwick, who hits lefties pretty well. Scouring the league, here’s my list of low cost trade targets who hit RH pitching well:

    1. Seth Smith. Shoulda targeted him in the offseason.
    2. Ryan Sweeney.
    3. Tyler Colvin.
    4. Juan Pierre. Don’t laugh, having a good year-.322.

    If we want to up the ante in prospects and dollars, here’s the outfielders I’d target:

    1.Denard Span. The leadoff/CF we need. The Twins are desperate for pitching. Corcino and Stubbs?
    2. Gerardo Parra.

    • We were in the running for Willingham. He signed for 3 years/$21M.

      Career .363 OBP (.386 this year) and .844 OPS (.937 this year).

      I think it’s becoming apparent that we need to fix LF or CF or both. The cheapest option would be to find a LH platoon partner for Ludwick, who hits lefties pretty well. Scouring the league, here’s my list of low cost trade targets who hit RH pitching well:1. Seth Smith. Shoulda targeted him in the offseason.2. Ryan Sweeney.3. Tyler Colvin.4. Juan Pierre. Don’t laugh, having a good year-.322. If we want to up the ante in prospects and dollars, here’s the outfielders I’d target:1.Denard Span. The leadoff/CF we need. The Twins are desperate for pitching. Corcino and Stubbs?2. Gerardo Parra.

  3. At least we get Grienke on the road. That gives us a chance. This is going to be a tough series because of Milwaukee’s starting pitchers and the comfort level their hitters have at GABP. I’m planning on going to all three games and looking forward to it.

  4. A good time to get some wins against one of those “supposed to beat ’em teams.” Wait, wasn’t that the last few series? Hope the Cincy offense is revved up, you just never feel too safe with a lead against them.

    Aramis is quietly putting together a decent season at the plate. Oh to have .840 OPS (.348 OBP!) behind Mr. Votto.

  5. My brother regards the Brewers’ bad luck (injuries and whatnot) this year to karmic revenge for Ryan Braun’s “chain of custody” issues. Meanwhile, Todd Frazier saves a man’s life in Pittsburgh and the Reds are in first place. Make your own decision.😀

  6. I think this idea of the Reds making any kind of serious player move to imporve either CF or LF is well…not going to happen. I can see Walt adding a non discript player who will ride the bench..

    My question why not give this Gaithright kid a look see, he is doing pretty well at AAA, why not bring him up and send Harris down?

  7. As I suggested facetiously in the Chapocalypse screenplay, I actually think the most important move the Reds can make is signing an established closer. That would give Baker his ninth-inning security blanket without asking him to move Marshall back to the ninth inning. Then Jocketty can move Chapman to the starting rotation for the end of the year. The trade should be for a player who is closing for a non-contending team and at the end of a contract, so the Reds can start from scratch on the closer situation next year. This is exactly what they were trying to do with the one-year Madson signing, before his elbow tendon exploded.

    • We just sent down Hoover and have Masset returning in the near future. Our bullpen is the least of our concerns.

      As I suggested facetiously in the Chapocalypse screenplay, I actually think the most important move the Reds can make is signing an established closer. That would give Baker his ninth-inning security blanket without asking him to move Marshall back to the ninth inning. Then Jocketty can move Chapman to the starting rotation for the end of the year. The trade should be for a player who is closing for a non-contending team and at the end of a contract, so the Reds can start from scratch on the closer situation next year. This is exactly what they were trying to do with the one-year Madson signing, before his elbow tendon exploded.

      • We just sent down Hoover and have Masset returning in the near future.Our bullpen is the least of our concerns.

        If I was running the team, Sean Marshall would close and we wouldn’t need another closer. I believe that’s what Walt intended as well, when he signed Marshall to the expensive extension. But it’s obvious that Dusty Baker wants Chapman, not Marshall to close. He’ll put up a fight if Walt takes away Chapman.

        My suggestion for trading for a closer isn’t about the bullpen at all, which I stated. It’s a way to move Chapman to the starting staff. The Reds do not have a starting pitching staff now that can compete in the playoffs – to win. If they want to win in the playoffs, they’ll need Chapman as a starter. That’s the premise for trading for Broxton, Street etc.

        • I understand your rationale, but the underlying premise is that Chapman would be dominant (or at least one of our best 3 starters) this season. That, itself, is a shaky proposition. Moreover, I think it is reasonable to assume that Jocketty could make Chapman a starter tomorrow if he wanted to (since he constructs the roster). Indeed, Jocketty could send Chapman to Louisville to start building endurance when Masset returns. With Bray back, we have two other lefties in the pen.

          Also, do we presently have an offense that can score enough runs against a playoff team’s best starters? The current lineup looks eerily similar to 2010. Good enough to get to the playoffs, but set up to be shutout once or twice.

          We have limited prospects to trade. Assuming we only have enough prospects to make one trade for a valuable piece, I’d rather see a leadoff or middle of the order bat that would take care of the most glaring weakness.

          If I was running the team, Sean Marshall would close and we wouldn’t need another closer. I believe that’s what Walt intended as well, when he signed Marshall to the expensive extension. But it’s obvious that Dusty Baker wants Chapman, not Marshall to close. He’ll put up a fight if Walt takes away Chapman. My suggestion for trading for a closer isn’t about the bullpen at all, which I stated. It’s a way to move Chapman to the starting staff. The Reds do not have a starting pitching staff now that can compete in the playoffs – to win. If they want to win in the playoffs, they’ll need Chapman as a starter. That’s the premise for trading for Broxton, Street etc.

  8. this is pie-in-the sky stuff, but mlbtraderumors has a post about the possibility of carlos gonzalez getting dealt.

    what about a deal centered on chapman for cargo? there would have to be additional pieces i’m sure, an additional pitching prospect from us probably. i could see like a chapman-corcino-heisey package.

    i think i’d do it though. with the reds managmenent unable or unwilling to do the right thing with chapman, why not get a piece that they can’t mess up: a slugger.

    our offense would immediately become devastating. and really our pitching just wouldn’t get that much worse. we’d miss a few innings of good relief.

    phillips
    cozart
    votto
    cargo
    bruce
    rolen/frazier
    stubbs
    hanigan

    oh to dream.

    • this is pie-in-the sky stuff, but mlbtraderumors has a post about the possibility of carlos gonzalez getting dealt.

      what about a deal centered on chapman for cargo?there would have to be additional pieces i’m sure, an additional pitching prospect from us probably.i could see like a chapman-corcino-heisey package.

      i think i’d do it though. with the reds managmenent unable or unwilling to do the right thing with chapman, why not get a piece that they can’t mess up: a slugger.

      our offense would immediately become devastating.and really our pitching just wouldn’t get that much worse. we’d miss a few innings of good relief.

      phillips
      cozart
      votto
      cargo
      bruce
      rolen/frazier
      stubbs
      hanigan

      oh to dream.

      Yeah, but what right-handers would be available between Votto and Cargo, and then between Cargo and Bruce ??? Can’t violate an apparent sacred rule with Dusty.

      • Yeah, but what right-handers would be available between Votto and Cargo, and then between Cargo and Bruce ??? Can’t violate an apparent sacred rule with Dusty.

        Simple… you bat Bruce #2. Dusty doesn’t mind the 2 and 3 hitters being LH from time to time, just the #3 and #4. It’s like magic. So then the question is whether Dusty would have the courage to put another LH #4.

  9. @dn4192: Question of the freaking month!!!! He simply could not do any worse than Harris. The only difference between them is Harris plays the infield and Gathright play the outfield. But now with Stubbs coming back, the bench should improve (atleast I would hope).

  10. @Steve Mancuso: Broxton, Myers, or Street would be likely trade deadline closers. But you’ll definitely have to overpay (prospects) for their services.

    • I bet we see Cozart and Stubbs at the top of the lineup tonight.

      @Steve Mancuso: Broxton, Myers, or Street would be likely trade deadline closers.But you’ll definitely have to overpay (prospects) for their services.

      Please, Lord, please NOT Broxton.

  11. If only BC would have had his epiphany three months sooner when Willingham was available as a FA and not only willing to join the Reds, but apparently desirous of joining the Reds, providing WJ the opportunity to seriously fortify the starting eight. Ah … but what ifs … That would leave a lineup sans either Harris or Ludwick or more likely both, with Frazier making the team out of ST and teaming with Heisey to make the most formidable bench in the league. Phillips never moves to the cleanup spot so he returns to leadoff as soon as his Hammy healed … ah to dream! Back to reality, with the Reds TV broadcast pulling in the highest ratings of any ML broadcast, the product value just increases monthly. The attendance increase this year and the historical fan support for a successful Reds team make the combination of attendance and future TV broadcast revenue interesting to plug into futre payroll budgets along with shedding the contracts of Rolen & Arroyo.

    • If only BC would have had his epiphany three months sooner when Willingham was available as a FA and not only willing to join the Reds, but apparently desirous of joining the Reds, providing WJ the opportunity to seriously fortify the starting eight.Ah … but what ifs … That would leave a lineup sans either Harris or Ludwick or more likely both, with Frazier making the team out of ST and teaming with Heisey to make the most formidable bench in the league.Phillips never moves to the cleanup spot so he returns to leadoff as soon as his Hammy healed … ah to dream!Back to reality, with the Reds TV broadcast pulling in the highest ratings of any ML broadcast, the product value just increases monthly.The attendance increase this year and the historical fan support for a successful Reds team make the combination of attendance and future TV broadcast revenue interesting to plug into futre payroll budgets along with shedding the contracts of Rolen & Arroyo.

      AMEN, with the added possible luxury that Willingham came up as a catcher. So maybe in an emergency, he could catch if you use your backup catcher to pinch hit and then the starter gets hurt. But yeah, what-ifs.

  12. Stubbs is back and hitting at the top of the order and guess what…Frazier sent down…well not really but now he is our man off the bench…

    • Stubbs is back and hitting at the top of the order and guess what…Frazier sent down…well not really but now he is our man off the bench…

      Harris sent down? Cairo released?

  13. Your lineup for tonight (from Mark Sheldon’s blog)

    Cozart SS
    Stubbs CF
    Votto 1B
    Phillips 2B
    Bruce RF
    Rolen 3B
    Ludwick LF
    Hanigan C
    Latos P

    Frazier is indeed on the bench. I think he’ll get 3 to 5 starts a week though. Harris was outrighted to AAA. Honestly, I’d rather see Stubbs out there than Heisey right now. I think Frazier will get more playing time than Heisey.

    • I sure as heck hope so.

      Honestly, I’d rather see Stubbs out there than Heisey right now. I think Frazier will get more playing time than Heisey.

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