2012 Reds / Reds - General

What now?

It seems like only yesterday when all we had to worry about was Todd Frazier’s playing time, a deluge of sacrifice bunts, Juan Pierre and the incredible disappearing Aroldis Chapman. Where did those far happier times go?

Welcome Nation, to the new, grim reality of obsessing over Joey Votto’s left meniscus.

Obligatory outrage section.The Reds management watched Joey Votto struggle to run, hit and field for nine games on the recent road trip after the first baseman injured his left knee sliding into third on June 29 in San Francisco. That’s not exactly right. Votto was hurt badly enough that Dusty Baker saw fit to give him more than two games off. So, more accurately, Votto played noticeably injured in only seven games on the West Coast. And when our favorite Canadian slugger did take the field, he produced very unVotto-like numbers, zero home runs and one RBI. His sudden slump was another MVP-sized tell that something was wrong.

Yet it apparently didn’t occur to anyone who is responsible for the success of the Reds to ask their $225 million investment to take a simple MRI. Hey, we’ve got a players manager! And apparently a players GM, and training staff and medical team. Leave the diagnosis up to the player. I assume he’ll be doing the surgery himself, too.

Apparently, no one said something like, “You know, we’ve got the All-Star break coming up. Just on the off chance that our most important player has to miss some time, why not have him take an MRI now so that part of his recovery will be over the four off-days. Plus, you know, it might also be nice to see what’s wrong.”

If the Reds don’t have anyone with enough common sense to say something like that, well, they should hire me. Or any of a hundred other citizens of the Nation.

It’s simply stunning that the organization didn’t take a single proactive step out of concern for Joey Votto’s well-being, or more crassly, out of attention to that part of the newspaper where they keep track of wins and losses. Either way.

Enabling Votto’s continued play may have worsened the meniscus tear, made the surgery more serious and lengthened the all-important recovery time. Seriously, if I were the owner of the team, someone would get fired over this. And I don’t mean the team doctor. Whoever has the job of watching our players, using their judgment about whether they’re playing hurt and doing something about it. That person.

If the Reds had acted like a competent professional sports organization, Joey Votto would now be two-and-a-half weeks into his recovery. Yes, the Reds would have had to do without his recent relatively unproductive stretch of games. The National League would have had to do without Votto’s three routine outs. But at least now we’d be close to the end of it. Instead Nation, circle your calendars for August 15 and say your prayers.

The upcoming easy schedule. It’s true that on paper, the Reds have a pretty easy schedule the next 3-4 weeks. Like when we played the last place Minnesota Twins at home. The Reds have three more games against the defending NL West division champions, then three vs. the defending NL Central Division champion Brewers, at Houston, at the always-easy-to-beat-in Colorado Rockies, the Padres, the Pirates, (the freakin’ PIRATES!) and the division-rival Brewers again, in Milwaukee. That takes us three weeks out.

Please don’t write or say that’s easy. You know what schedule was easy? The four-day All-Star break.

BTW, the Reds are 0-1 on the easy schedule, so far.

The surgery and recovery. The surgery to repair Votto’s meniscus is scheduled for this morning. Of course, you have an abnormal curiosity about it. So here’s the Mayo Clinic, the NIH and WebMD, plus a short video of what they’ll be doing to JoeyMVP’s left knee, probably right around the time you’re reading this.

But what we really care about: How realistic is the 3-4 week recovery window? That estimate was peddled by the Reds in a reassuring manner last night. In reality, they can’t possibly know yet. It depends on a number of things, including whether the surgery ends up being a “trim” (4 weeks) or a “repair” (Pirates division champs). Read this somewhat unsettling line in the WebMD piece on recovering from meniscus surgery:

But heavy stresses, such as running and squats, should be postponed for some months.

Out of sheer horror I’m holding to the belief that being a major league baseball player, and hitting, sliding, fielding, spitting, running etc. would not be considered “heavy stresses” by the interns who write at WebMD.

Other players have had this surgery recently, but there’s not much definitive to learn from their examples, other than there is a great deal of variability. On the optimistic side, Mets reliever Tim Byrdak had the surgery on March 12 and pitched on April 5. But Royals catcher Salvador Perez missed half the season (had to type that three times before I got it right). Travis Hafner had surgery on May 29 and played five weeks later on July 4. Lance Berkman just returned after being out eight weeks. Variation, but I did notice the inconvenient truth that none of those recoveries were just three weeks long.

Bottom line: Reds management won’t have an accurate estimate on the duration of the recovery until after the surgery, if then. Commence holding your breath. And Votto’s recovery could easily be longer than 4 weeks. Raise your hand if you have confidence in the organization’s fitness to estimate and manage his recovery.

The Reds roster. How should the Reds replace Joey Votto? Moderation, not panic, is called for. Assuming he’s only out about a month.

Based on Frazier’s glove skills last night and the way he’s hit all season, pencil Super Todd in as your everyday first baseman and worry more about third. Miguel Cairo can back up Super Todd, if necessary. Absent a move for an additional third baseman, the Reds will be relying on 37-year-old Rolen and 38-year old Cairo (another terrifying sentence to type). Neither has hit well this year and both have already spent time on the DL. The Reds should acquire a solid backup third baseman, they don’t need a regular like Chase Headley. If all goes well, in a few weeks, we’ll want Super Todd back fighting for time at the hot corner.

Votto’s injury removes one of the two left-handed bats in the lineup. At least we won’t have worry about crossing the streams for the next month. While acquiring a backup third baseman would be cheaper than finding a full-time first baseman, the handedness issue is maybe a reason to acquire a first baseman instead, as lefties there are much more common. In terms of Jocketty’s previous agenda from back in the good old days, ESPN’s David Schoenfield points out that Votto’s injury may strengthen the case for acquiring left-handed Shane Victorino.

The Reds lineup. Speculating on the lineup with Dusty Baker as manager always has two distinct parts – what should he do, and guessing the outcome of WWHD.

What should the lineup be? Phillips, Frazier, Bruce, Ludwick, Stubbs/Heisey, Rolen, Catcher, Cozart, Pitcher.

What will it be? You have to think that Baker won’t continue to bat Frazier third, as he did last night. Baker might have been in shock or denial when he did that. Or maybe the team hadn’t had time to replace the preprinted lineup cards showing the first baseman batting third (CF batting first, SS second, catcher eighth etc.). Prior to last night, Baker hasn’t been willing to bat Super Todd higher than sixth, and barely that. Hard to believe the rookie will bat third. Then again, he’s stubbornly used a rookie with an .287 on base percentage to hit lead-off.

On the other hand, maybe last night’s lineup does preview how Baker will approach a Vottoless batting order. Frazier-batting-third was posted at least four hours before game time. My guess is that Baker will return to what the lineup has basically been all year, except for moving Jay Bruce to #3 and sliding everyone below Phillips up. Baker loves lineup stability. Expect: Stubbs, Cozart, Bruce, Phillips, Ludwick, Rolen, Frazier, Catcher, Pitcher.

The word cataclysm means “a momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition; an event that brings great changes”

It’s Day One of the Vottoclysm, Nation.

179 thoughts on “What now?

  1. @rightsaidred: I haven’t commented on the lineup tonight mostly because my brain doesn’t totally accept that it’s real.

    Dusty says he gets tired of the fans questioning his lineups, but is it just me, or does this seem like going out of your way to be stubborn?

    It’s the day after losing Votto. All anyone has been talking about is how everyone needs to step up and fill his shoes etc. So is this really the day to sit Jay Bruce? I would think that Jay Bruce can handle playing for a while. I would think that Jay Bruce wants to play for a while, knowing what it means for the team.

    It’s like he insists on playing with one hand tied behind his back. Even when the other one is already tied up back there.

  2. I was basing my “factual” opinion on what I was seeing in his performance and how he was running. There was some sort of injury he was facing that was lingering and causing a problem. I can only base my opinion on that because management of any team is typically very secretive when it comes to injuries whether there is negligence or not.

    Since their last playoff appearance in 1995 the team has only 3 winning seasons and 1 out of 4 in Dusty’s managing tenor. Are we supposed to trust a group that doesn’t have a proven track record of competence?

  3. I think Steve’s premonition about screwy lineups was dead on.

    Rolen at #5🙄

  4. @wally mo: I am telling myself Bruce is ‘dinged’ and that Dusty isn’t doing what I fear and resting him.

    Outside of Phillips it’s as if our Dear Manager is looking at the offensive stats of late, reversing the order and calling it the lineup.

  5. @rightsaidred: The one thing Dusty abides by religiously is lefty-righty matchups. Dusty not playing the ONE lefty bat on his roster, who also happens to be his best power hitter, against a struggling young righty says that Bruce is hurt. Hopefully it’s minor because if he’s down along with Joey for any amount of time we’d might as well pack it in.

  6. @eric nyc: Fay says Dusty wants to give all of the All-Stars a day off. Because playing 2 innings in an exhibition game in 4 days probably really taxed them all.

    • @eric nyc: Fay says Dusty wants to give all of the All-Stars a day off. Because playing 2 innings in an exhibition game in 4 days probably really taxed them all.

      If it was just that you would be right, but it’s not and it does wear down those who go.

  7. @wally mo: Arizona is starting a lefty on Thursday. If it was just a regular day off he’d wait until then. I mean obviously I’m speculating, but everything I know about Dusty Baker tells me Bruce is at least dinged up.

  8. Some gems from Baker today from Fay:

    Brandon Phillips is in the third spot in the order tonight.

    “He’s the one guy who can move all over the lineup,” Baker said. “I’m sure i’m going to have a lot of help with the lineup. I do the best I can with who we have.”

    Richmond takes Joey Votto’s roster spot. Obviously, the Reds will need a bat soon.

    “We’ll see,” Baker said. “You’re bombarding [me] with questions I can’t answer. We’ll take today and see tomorrow. We have things in the works.”

    Yes Dusty, one day after your MVP goes down and the reporter asks you if you’re going to call up a hitter: Duck!!! You’re Being Bombarded!

    And what a load of crap about Phillips being able to move all over the lineup. In that quote he exposes his old-timey (seemingly nonsensical) idea of a lineup. He thinks guys have certain “styles” of hitting, and that some guys, they just can’t feel the groove of they style in a certain spot in the lineup.

    Phillips man, he’s special, because he can just change up his style, and that’s tough dude. Todd Frazier, he’s too young to be able to change his style up, same with Cozart, Stubbs, Hannigan, they just don’t get it.

    But the truth is that over a reasonable amount of time, players are who they are, no matter where you put them in the lineup. Having a scrappy little guy style doesn’t matter, it matters how well you hit. Someone needs to get it through this guy’s head that he should just hit the good hitters first.

    • Yes, those are among the most absurd comments ever uttered by Dusty .

      Some gems from Baker today from Fay:Brandon Phillips is in the third spot in the order tonight.“He’s the one guy who can move all over the lineup,” Baker said. “I’m sure i’m going to have a lot of help with the lineup. I do the best I can with who we have.”Richmond takes Joey Votto’s roster spot. Obviously, the Reds will need a bat soon. “We’ll see,” Baker said. “You’re bombarding [me] with questions I can’t answer. We’ll take today and see tomorrow. We have things in the works.”—Yes Dusty, one day after your MVP goes down and the reporter asks you if you’re going to call up a hitter: Duck!!! You’re Being Bombarded!And what a load of crap about Phillips being able to move all over the lineup. In that quote he exposes his old-timey (seemingly nonsensical) idea of a lineup. He thinks guys have certain “styles” of hitting, and that some guys, they just can’t feel the groove of they style in a certain spot in the lineup. Phillips man, he’s special, because he can just change up his style, and that’s tough dude. Todd Frazier, he’s too young to be able to change his style up, same with Cozart, Stubbs, Hannigan, they just don’t get it. But the truth is that over a reasonable amount of time, players are who they are, no matter where you put them in the lineup. Having a scrappy little guy style doesn’t matter, it matters how well you hit. Someone needs to get it through this guy’s head that he should just hit the good hitters first.

  9. “Dusty Baker said he wanted to give his All-Stars a day”

    So, this was the reason to give Bruce a rest? Why not last night when they were facing the D-backs only All-Star, a left handed pitcher?

  10. @Big Ed: Bruce didn’t look too comfortable after coming up with that diving catch in Sunday night’s game against the Cards. I cringed last night when he made that play. I don’t want to even think about it right now.

  11. “Jesus, stop overreacting to this already.”

    In my profession I have come to discover that Jesus never overreacts to anything; I’ve also learned that He doesn’t care to be accused of it, either.

    I, on the other hand, exercise my right to overreact. I’m not overreacting to the injury, although shelving your reigning MVP is never a positive. Instead, I have to wonder why in the world a medical exam was just now performed. Call me reactionary, but if I am investing millions upon millions in these guys, I think I would be tempted to MRI their entire bodies on every available off day. He was clearly hurting and a basic test wasn’t performed? Really? It took this long to determine he had a meniscus tear? I don’t understand. This reeks of the Magic Man deal. I need some help here.

  12. @steveschoen: Jay Bruce was out of the lineup.

    “He’s feeling OK,” Baker said. “But he ain’t looking OK, is he? That’s why he’s getting the day off. It’s either pay me now or pay me later.”

    Bruce is 0-for-10 since his RBI double Saturday
    .
    Bruce made the All-Star Game so he didn’t get much of a break.

    “I told him to chill,” Baker said. “Come in at 5 o’clock, don’t hit too much. Sometimes, you do too much. It’s getting late. You need your energy, your strength. Sometimes, 110 percent is too much.

    “It’s that mental and emotional when you’re not getting hits.”

    I don’t know, seems like last night would have made more sense.

  13. “I don’t know, man,” Baker said. “They didn’t think it was what it was. That happens all the time. We’ve got one of the best medical staffs around. It’s easy to say, ‘You should have done this or that.’ But it didn’t merit or warrant that at that time.”

    WoooW, this is from the horse mouth or ???. Votto was not well before and the medical staff could not determine the problem. Votto was finally on the DL and discovered that it was something that had to do with his emotional thing. The best medical staff of the reds are a JOKE. Look they got the magicman and he was a damge good… who knows about Madson also? The Reds medical staff seemed to not that good like Dustman had proclaimed.😆👿

  14. I’ve looked thru the whole thread and I haven’t seen this mentioned: Joey aggravated the injury on Sunday against the Cardinals. We’ll never know when the tear actually occurred. A couple of us suggested this possibility last nite.

    Either way I still don’t understand why an MRI wasn’t done before the AS break.

  15. Nice to see Reds not only questionable ran franchise…Boston is not going to DL Big P with that bad ankle,say they will sit him for a week and reevaluate. So for the next week the Red Sox play at least a man down….

  16. Antoehr thing is that- Inside the body- you can’t just think , you need to have an X-Ray which is very common these days. The Reds medical staff then are using the medicine man of the wild west to think or to touch and said “Oh Yea, no damge , it just a swelling and it will go away- here use this Horse Puff for three days and take a bath in the mud water for another 5 days and you are good as new… Oh brother! What a dope can this medical staff be—- Quack, Quack, Quack……😥😡

  17. @Bumbum: I can relate. I hurt my ankle when I was 15 and the family doctor says no x-ray needed, just a sprain. I learned more than 30 years later that it was fractured in 2 places and had not healed properly. Now it’s in pain all the time as I do my favorite things: ballroom and Latin dancing, and tennis.

  18. @earmbrister: Thanks for the summary of the Jocketty interview. A sigh of relief about the extent of the surgery. Curiously, I haven’t been able to find a report on the surgery at mlb.com or by Fay.

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