Let’s recap today’s titanic struggle….rntitanic-copy

Cincinnati 0
Oakland 5

W: A. Griffin  (6-6)
L: H. Bailey  (4-6)

Boy, my tomatoes are just doing great. They’re really coming in. We got some extra plants this year and I’m really glad because we are going to have sauce all winter … What’s that? … I’m supposed to talk about the Reds GAME not my red VEGETABLES. That’s crazy there was nothing good about this game.

Homer and the Bats


The Reds are slumping right now, there’s no doubt about that. It’s been rough to watch them play lately, and I certainly hope they turn it around.

But there is no reason to panic. I pointed out in the comments and on Twitter that the Reds had a bad stretch at exactly this time last year. Also, they would be leading 4 of the other 5 divisions and 1/2 a game back in the 5th (one game back now). Third place doesn’t feel good, but this is a good team and I do believe they’ll rebound. Could I be wrong? Of course, but optimism is way more fun than pessimism. And this game’s supposed to be fun (expletive). So let’s have some fun out there.

A lot of hay has been made about the Reds record versus winning teams. I look a lot of stuff up here and I’ve looked this up before, so I’m not going to do it again. You can go use Baseball-Reference if you want. A winning record against winning teams doesn’t mean anything in the playoffs. The playoffs are a crapshoot. What matters is getting there. The Reds need to play better to do that, and I think they will.

Onto Texas now. Texas, you may remember, swept the Cards. Let’s hope the Reds get a better result.

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

Join the conversation! 106 Comments

  1. Jason, I do appreciate your words of reason and calm. I really do. But I respectfully disagree. I don’t see this as a slump at all. When this team’s starting pitching is all-star caliber, we win about 67-percent of the time (that’s not good enough); and when, as we’ve seen on this road trip, the starting pitching slips into the realm of mere mortals, we don’t have the offense to make up the difference. That formula isn’t going to get us where we want. And defending this performance by using comparisons to last year makes no sense to me. Last year’s team had similar flaws, and I thought we wanted to be better this year. Not good. Changes needed. That’s not panic; just being real.

    • @caps: But you have absolutely no evidence. None. I mean, you pullout that 67-percent thing, but I’m pretty sure you’re just making that up because you don’t define what “all-star caliber pitching is.”

      The comparison to last year’s team is there because last year, they won 97 games. That is a lot. If they win 97 this year, that will be awesome.

      I’m repeating myself a lot here, but listen: All. Teams. Slump. Just to be really random I went and looked at that Seattle team that won 116 games in 2001. Even they had a couple of rough stretches.

      Also, your assertion about the offense is ridiculous. Let’s call all-star pitching 3 runs or less allowed. Well, the Reds are 32-6 in those games. In other games, the Reds are 12-28. But, that seems like something that would be true of all teams. So, I don’t know, let’s check out the Cardinals. 3 runs or fewer allowed: 38-4. More than 3 runs: 10-25.

      So yes, all-star level pitching is important, but it matters for everyone. If you allow more than three runs, you’re probably going to lose. That’s why the ERA in MLB is under 4.00 this year.

      I get the impulse to panic, but instead of panicking, look some stuff up and you’ll find it isn’t so scary.

      • @Jason Linden: OK, that’s some excellent information!!! It really is. And you’re totally right, I’m making stuff up with any 67-percent or whatever. But even still, I’m not convinced. Haha sorry. I’m sure that will drive you crazy. I still just see a very streaky offense that doesn’t score much against starting pitchers, let alone good starters; a team that struggles to make strategic contact in key situations. I.e. a very talented team that will not be able to win in the postseason without some fundamental changes. Now I gotta find some stats to back up my vague pessimism!

    • @caps: you don’t have to go back to last year. the team’s OPS was about 70 points higher in May than it has been in June. It’s the same team, they’re just slumping right now.

      • @al: First, 67% would be plenty. That would be 108 wins for the season as well as playoff series wins, etc. That probably won’t happen.

        Next, the team is slumping. Pure and simple. All teams have it each season. The only question, something like:

        – how long will it last
        – who is there to help us out of it
        – other versions

        I don’t see a trade curing this at all. It’s an attitude. It’s a decision that players are going to make the adjustments they need to make and start concentrating on good fundamental baseball again. Who’s going to be that leader to light a fire? Personally, I don’t see Bakerman doing this. He prefers to keep things calm, etc. He couldn’t light a fire under his players with a year’s supply of toothpicks and a flame thrower. His players may enjoy playing for him. But, if I were them, I really wouldn’t enjoy anything about playing how this team as been playing, if Bakerman was the manager or not.

        Panic time? No way. Slightly concerned/irritation time? I believe so. You have to stand up to the good teams.

        Jason, sorry, but I’ve never seen anything about Bakerman’s record against winnings teams and losing teams. As well as, Bakerman’s record against winning teams at least the last 3 seasons here is more than obvious, it is fact. We lose against winning teams and win against losing teams. I’ve also seen no evidence that this fact means nothing in the playoffs. You seem to argue against this fact but then haven’t shown anything to the contrary, making a general statement yourself that there is no correlation but not substantiating it. It sounds like you want to have your cake and eat it, too. Even if there was no correlation in general, I myself asked about it for Baker only. Or, what would be your theory as to why a manager like Bakerman, who has won so many regular season games but then has such a poor playoff record? “Because his teams lost games in the playoffs”. Yes, but why? Is there some kind of trend beyond the other teams scored more runs then his team did in the playoffs? It can easily be shown, at least the last 3 seasons, poor record against winning caliber teams in the regular season, poor record against those same quality teams in the playoffs.

        • @steveschoen: See, you ask, and I give you numbers. Here they are:


          Those are the record against .500 or better teams of the last five World Series winners. You’ll notice a wide variation with the real standout being the Yankees of four years ago. You’ll also notice there are two teams there that had losing records against winning teams.

          The playoffs are short series and not like the regular season. Your number five starter doesn’t generally pitch. Your bench isn’t nearly as important. Neither are the lesser pitchers in your bullpen.

          When studies have been done, they have shown that, generally, pitching matters more than hitting. It doesn’t matter a ton more, but it is significant. In that sense, the Reds are in good shape. Especially with Cueto and Lato at the top of the rotation.

          But the playoffs are really about being hot at the right time. Not about being the best team. That’s why the very mediocre 2006 Cardinals (21-26 against good teams) won despite having only 83 wins. The only really good players on that teams were Pujols, Carpenter, Rolen, and Edmonds. There was nothing special about them that made them built to win. They just got hot at the right time.

          And you brought Baker up. I don’t know how much managers matter in the playoffs. I suspect less than they do in the regular season. There’s a book by Chris Jaffe about managers if you’re interested.

          • @Jason Linden: If managers wouldn’t matter in the playoffs, then they wouldn’t matter during the season either. There would be essentially no need for them at all, then. Since all of that would be nonsense, in fact managers do matter in playoffs, definitely more during the playoffs where there aren’t 160 other games where they could hide poor managerial decisions.

            So, with one exception in the last 5 seasons, all the records of the WS winners are pretty much 0.500 baseball against winning teams. And, what has the Reds been? Sounds like a pretty good trend to me. Like, to get a good idea how your team would do in the playoffs, see how well they did in the regular season against winning teams. 4 out of 5 shot they win if their record is greater than 500.

            And, Baker’s teams recently? This season, 15-25. 40-36 last season. 36-37 in 2011. 20-33 in 2010. So, better the last 2 season. Poor in 2010 and this season. And, in Baker’s tenure here, playoff record of 2-6.

            I would still like to see Bakerman’s record the rest of his career against winnings teams.

        • @steveschoen: Steve: It seems to me that you have drawn a conclusion (Baker is responsible for many of our losses) and are now seeking data to verify it. Maybe the Reds lose to teams with winning records because those teams are better? Nobody seems to want to discuss the possibility (likelihood, in my opinion)that managers have little influence on the outcomes of games. Some influence–yes, sometimes; much influence? Rarely. Players execute or they don’t. It doesn’t matter that much where you bat .240 hitters–especially when you have 3 of them starting–because they are going to be out more than 3/4 of the time. Don’t misunderstand: the Reds are a good team and I like watching them (well…sometimes) and I think it fairly likely that they’ll make the postseason. But as fans, we tend to over-rate the players on the team we like, and when they lose, we need to find somebody to blame, in this case the manager. Maybe they just got out-played.

  2. They also went on a ridiculous streak last year after the break. Should we expect the same this season?

    • @beavertucky: No. But neither should we expect them to eb totally mediocre like they were last September.

      • @Jason Linden: They’ve been mediocre for most months the past 4 years. What’s more likely, a mediocre second half, say 6-8 over .500, or 22 wins out of 25 games in July/August? I think this stretch before the break is crucial, and I don’t think think they’re up to it. They got lucky last year with the lack of pitching injuries, now we’re seeing that luck run out and they’ve got nothing in the system that can help.

  3. I also think they’ll be fine, but logically speaking, concluding something because you are optimistic OR pessimistic seems a bit shaky (if that’s what you are doing).

    I think they’ll be fine because I believe the bullpen is going to be much better in the 2nd half than the 1st half. Frankly, if they play exactly the same otherwise, this would be easily enough to get a wild card, and possibly even enough (though I don’t think so) to win the Central.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Dude, I trot out so many stats and I look so much up for you guys. If you really think I’m basing it purely off optimism, you are not paying attention.

      • @Jason Linden: Wow, overly sensitive? Wasn’t meant to be insulting, so I’m sorry if you took it that way. I think one can look at different (important) statistics from an optimistic or pessimistic point of view.

      • @Jason Linden: It’s one thing to say you give a lot of stats, Jason. It’s another thing to read them correctly. The last thing you showed, you tried to say the record against winning teams didn’t matter for WS champions by showing their records the last 5 seasons. When, in fact, 4 of those 5 had records very near or above 500. Yes, small sample size, but for a small sample size, it does show a trend.

  4. Reds have been shutout 3 times in 10 days.

  5. The Reds better be careful with the way the Cardnials and pirates playing, they could fall out of the division race fast. I think there is reason to be worried. They cant beat quality teams and cant play little ball. Choo is really struggling, They need to put him on the bench.

    • @Larry1980: This is worth being worried about. The Reds are in good position with the wild card, but if they want to win the division, they need to play well through the all-star break.

    • @Larry1980: One can also look at as they’ve played below what they likely will in the second half. Which is what I think. It’s a bad idea to evaluate the rest of the season when the window is, say, a week or two. They’ve played not well for the last 10 days. If they play poorly for another 2 weeks straight, we have a problem. I doubt that happens.

  6. The one positive I can think about from today is that at least Bailey went 6, and with a day of rest they’ll have a rested pen for a series, vs Texas, where they might need to use the bullpen quite a bit.

  7. How much do they miss Ryan Ludwick?

    • @Larry1980: A fair bit, but no one was expecting Ludwick to duplicate last year. Paul and Robinson have been very solid in his place. They have OPS+s of 106 and 108 respectively. Not much power there, but they get on base.

      • @Jason Linden: I didn’t expect Ludwick to duplicate last year either, but his power is definitely missed. He’s a legit cleanup hitter, and that hole has not been plugged. I appreciate BP’s RBIs, but he is not a cleanup hitter.

        • @pinson343:

          Trade Chapman for Stanton. Trade Chapman for Stanton. Trade Chapman for Stanton.

          Ludwick becomes a (somewhat) expensive bat off the bench, possible trade chip in the offseason (talk about selling low….) Reds middle of the order of Votto/Stanton/Bruce/Frazier is set for years to come.

          I only wonder if Walt is willing to rock the boat that much.

          • @CI3J: I would trade Chapman plus whatever is needed for Stanton. Miami insists they aren’t trading him.

          • @CI3J: Why on Earth would the Marilyns make that trade? I think that we all over-estimate Chapman’s perceived value. We’ve been over it before, but what he looks like right now is a curiosity, not a reliably unbeatable closer, and certainly not a top-of-the-rotation starter. Once hitters get over the speed, they understand that they can wait until he throws strikes, if he can, and that they can often hit those. Chapman and a lot more might bring Stanton, but the lot more would probably be enough to cripple the Reds for years to come.

          • @CI3J: I agree with @greenmtred in that the Marlins aren’t going to do that deal. They would have to be pretty blown away to move Stanton and I honestly don’t think the Reds have enough good prospects, who are close to the Majors, to get that sort of deal done. The Pirates and Cards both have better prospects and would have a better chance of landing him. Heck, for all we know, Jocketty has already talked to them about such a trade and they balked.

          • @CI3J: Chapman has lost almost all of his trade value. It’s another one of the results of how badly the Reds bungled his handling.

            He’s making $5+ mil through the life of the contract, and he’s going to put up a decent ERA, but if used as a reliever he’s going to give you 70 innings, and he’ll still blow some saves. You can make the argument that he’s overpaid right now.

            If he’s overpaid right now, why would anyone trade a player as valuable as Stanton for him? If the Reds worked out a deal with the Marlins for Stanton, I doubt that they’d even want Chapman, unless they were sure they could move him to the rotation or the Reds paid some of his salary.

        • @pinson343: I doubt he’s a legit cleanup hitter, but probably the best candidate on our roster for the job. BP has been doing a great job, imo, in his absence.

  8. It’s easy to feel like this team needs a shakeup. Something to snap them back into form. Maybe changing the hitting coach? Really, they just need the guys they have to start hitting like they can.

    If for the rest of the season they can get these OPSs, we’ll be in good shape:

    Votto – .950
    Bruce – .850
    Choo – .830
    Phillips – .800
    Frazier – .760
    LF, SS, C – .720

    That may be optimistic, but it’s very possible.

    • @al: I’d say the last two marks are very optimistic. In particular, i think Frazier has been figured out. Maybe he can adjust back. We can hope, I guess.

      • @redskaph: I feel like I am posting this everyday by now.

        Frazier is 4th in OPS, 4th in doubles, 3rd in HR, 2nd in stolen bases, 2nd in walks, 3rd in RBI, and 5th in runs scored among NL third basemen. He’s better than average. Is he a David Wright? Clearly not. But combine him being in top 5 in most batting categories for his position with the fact that he’s playing around GG-caliber defense (4th least errors at his position with the 2nd most innings played) and he’s a better-than-average player that most teams would be thrilled to have. Even more so when he’s making $500k/yr ($4-5m per 1.0 WAR is what a player normally costs in free agency) and is under team control for another 4 years after this, and is a big clubhouse guy.

        He already has 2.0 WAR, which is how much you should have for an entire season to be a major league caliber starter.

        • @ToddAlmighty: That stats doesn’t mean he’s batting well, that he’s just above the midline for 3rd basemen. Todd does need to improve, as do a couple of others.

          • @steveschoen: I feel like being above the midline (AKA- better than average) is the very definition of batting well, and all of those stats says he is.

            Now is he doing what he did last year when Joey Votto went out with an injury? No. Then again, I never really imagined Todd Frazier as a .316/.369/.515 guy (which is what he bat when he played 1st base last season), but ZiPS has him projected for 3.2 WAR. I’ll take 3.2 WAR from every player on the team.

          • @ToddAlmighty: Not necessarily. It may just be an indication that the NL doesn’t have a lot of strong hitting 3rd basement. I like Todd, and see him as a solid player, but he’s not an offensive force.

          • @steveschoen: Todd Frazier is a league average hitter. Historically, third basemen are below average offensively. Todd Frazier is not the problem.

            Steve, I don’t know what’s going on, but you’re picking a lot of fights, but you aren’t bringing any evidence to back them up.

        • @ToddAlmighty: I agree that Frazier isn’t the problem. A lot of fans and even Marty and Thom, have expectations that are simply too high for him.

      • @redskaph: Here are the current marks:

        Votto – .956
        Bruce – .847
        Choo – .875
        Phillips – .743
        Frazier – .738
        LF – .678 (mostly due to Heisey’s .481)
        SS – .650
        C – .576

        So the most optimistic really are SS, C, and Phillips. Frazier slumped badly in May and still is pretty close to where he should be in my mind.

        Expecting Phillips to get to .800 is probably unrealistic. It’s just not the player he is, and it’s why he shouldn’t be the cleanup hitter.

        The LF other than Heisey have done well enough, and maybe he’ll be better now. We can only hope.

        I think Cozart and Mesoraco could get each get around .700. Maybe that’s hopeful, but I certainly think the talent is there.

        • @al: Agree w/ you on those assessments. Especially true about BP. He’s not an .800 OPS guy and that’s ok. He’s a career .754 which is really good for a 2B. He’s had 2 seasons with an OPS over .800, 2007 and 2011. I just don’t see him getting there nor do I think that is a fair expectation for him. I think you are right on it with your expectations.

  9. Hard to not see this team playing for a wildcard spot right now. That’s fine, I guess. But I can’t watch 5-6 games a week for the next 3 months for the chance at a 1-game play-in. My attention will likely be elsewhere if there is t a major winning streak in the near future.

    • @eric nyc: You really think a 4 game deficit is too much for the Reds to overcome in 3 months?

      • @al: Here’s some anecdotal evidence for you that everyone ought to keep in mind:

        2010 Reds. 1 game behind on August 13. EIGHT games ahead on Sept. 1.

        No, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but to give up now is a bad idea.

  10. Oh, by the way: thanks for the ban. Last night it was extremely hard to ignore. I know I’m a fan of just letting it rip during game threads, but it got soooooo disturbing I could barely stand it. Ironically, I was researching the topic of love in 1 Cor 13 during the game thread. I really felt challenged. For the record though, I think that banning falls under the category of “shake the dirt off your foot as you leave”, or more appropriately, make them leave. Is there anything that can prevent a troll from creating a new identity on here?

    • @preach: I stopped reading the last few game recap comment sections (something I love to do, even though I rarely comment). It got so unbearable, and as a result, I spent less time on the site and clicked away after reading the recaps. Just incessant, self-important droning. Hopefully he doesn’t create a new handle, but if anyone is interested in reading his ruminations, you’re welcome to continue here: http://blogredmachine.com/author/joshbresser/.

    • @preach: Also grateful for the ban. I stopped reading and adding to yesterday’s game thread because of that person’s comments.

  11. As for baseball: While I know we are challenged offensively, and I really don’t see that changing a whole lot, I do believe that the bullpen will be more effective in the second half and I hope that the starters will be healthy as well. Likewise, I expect the standard Pirate fadeout to begin before the end of July and the Cards cannot keep up this torrid pace. I don’t see us significantly improving, but I do see enough positives on the horizon to allow us to enter the post season. Once there, I think we have the arms to propel us deep; and if we have good Choo, normal Votto, and hot Bruce, we have a shot at some hardware coming to Cinci.

  12. I am personally a fan of this team. I remember some seasons when they could barely string together more than two wins in a row. I remember being out of contention in some seasons before the all star break. It’s only then did I stop watching regularly, though I would still catch some games. This team is 11 games over 500 with the best first baseman in the league, not to mention great starting pitching, at least a few more near high level hitters (BP and Bruce at least) and some great fielding. Even if they only are in the play-in game, it’ll be well worth the ride.

    Plus, I would think you have to keep in mind that we all knew this stretch of the season would be tough, with lots of away games against tough opponents, including a trip all the way to No Cal for just two games before going back to the Southwest and then home. Meanwhile, the Reds are forced to juggle their bullpen and the Cards and Pirates get to play some pretty easy competition. There is still time for a trade to salvage the bullpen, and our division rivals will have another turn against the big boys too. I think it’s hard to write this team off now.

    • @joelie1274: Yes, the Reds are currently on a predictably tough road trip. Not a West Coast road trip, but 3 good Western Division (NL and AL) teams. Could largely salvage it with a couple wins in Texas.

    • @joelie1274: Agree with your perspective and that of Hank’s Teammate. Good to keep it in mind during frustrating losses.

  13. Astros hang on to beat the Cardinals.

    • @pinson343: To me this was a particularly good outcome for the Reds because somehow the dirty Birds ended up with 4 games versus the ‘Stros (2 at home each) while the Reds only get 3 (all in Houston). So, this levels the table just a bit.

    • About the bottom of the Reds line up……

      IMO, it isn’t so much any one of the individuals. The offensive stats can be massaged and defensive contribution added in to make a reasonable case that none of them when looked at individually are really that bad. To me the issue is that the Reds have all three of those spots populated by guys who are just marginally OK (if that in one or two cases) and the sum of the parts doesn’t measure up to what it needs to be. To wit: to pull the train for the dead offensive weight behind him, Frazier does need to be a David Wright and not Todd Frazier as we’ve seen him to date. My point is there needs to be change in those positions, whatever or however it takes to do it.

  14. Average Runs when Reds win : 5.8 scored versus 2.2 given
    Average Runs in Reds loss : 2.5 scored versus 5.9 given

    I still firmly believe the 6, 7, and 8 hole in the line up is a huge problem. being last or 2nd to last in the NL in average creates at BEST 3 innings a game of .210 baseball that has steadily gone down since early May. This in my opinion puts a lot of pressure on 1-5.

  15. Jason, Good not-so-random thoughts above. One thing that everyone keeps assuming though is that the Reds played poorly against winning teams in 2011. That’s just not true. Other than a bad April record vs. the Nats, the Reds played well even against playoff teams: the Braves, the Giants, the Cards (one below .500 there, due to a meaningless loss the last day of the regular season). They dominated the Brewers, who were over .500, 2 out of 3 from the Yankees, etc. Some nite I’ll look up their 2011 record vs. winning teams. Want to put an end to that assumption.

    The Reds had a poor 2010 record against winning teams, but 2011 is more relevant. 2012 is of course the most relevant, and it’s only half over. I see no compelling reason this Reds team can’t win against good teams.

    • @pinson343: I think you have your years mixed up… Or I’m very confused lol

      • @WedgieSanders: Yep, it’s late. Wish I could edit my statement. The Reds played well against wining teams last year (2012). The Reds played poorly against winning teams in 2010, even though they won the NL Central.

    • True. They played well against winning teams in 2011 and 2012, but very poorly in 2010 and this year.

  16. Still only 3.5 games behind the best records in baseball. All without key parts of the bullpen, cueto on the DL a lot, no LF/cleanup hitter, hannigan spending time in the DL, BP being banged up and missing for personal reasons, and dusty is still the manager. All these things can be corrected and overcome.

  17. Hank’s teammate: “I believe the bullpen is going to be much better in the 2nd half than the 1st half.” I agree. Marshall will be back, and if Broxton is still not effective, Cingrani will stay around.

    The Reds bullpen has costed the Reds a lot of games. In June alone, the Reds lost 5 games where they led going into the 8th inning. Even with the recent slump, June would have been a winning month with a decent performance from the pen.

  18. Trying again on a comment that I screwed up above. I keep reading that the Reds can’t beat winning teams in the last whatever years. In 2012 the Reds had a regular season record of 32-30 against winning teams. After a bad first 2 weeks of April (2-5 vs. the Nats, 2-4 vs. the Cards), they were 28-21 vs. winning teams.

    Here’s how it broke down:

    Atlanta 5-1
    Detroit 1-2
    Dodgers 2-4
    Brewers 9-6
    Yankees 2-1
    Giants 4-3
    Cards 7-8
    Nats 2-5

    • @pinson343: I posted it above somewhere. The Reds did play well against winning teams in 2011 and 2012. They played poorly against them in 2010 and this season.

  19. Does anybody know if there are two wild card teams this year? I think and hope the Reds turn it around and will have a respectable year. This team has the talent to win 90 games or more, but I think that is where is stops, because they don’t have the hitting consistency (leaving too many men on base) to win in the playoffs. And, they strike out too much. If you look at the Cardinals big bats of Holiday, Beltran, Craig, and especially Molina…these three to four guys will come through in the clutch. How the Reds match up? Votto can do fine, but pitchers will continue to pitch around him and walk him. Phillips can hit pretty well, but is not a power guy (though he drives in runs), Bruce is very inconsistent and streaky. He is prone to strike out very frequently, especially with men on base. Frazier, the same thing, though Frazier does not strike out as much as Bruce. So, my point is…the Reds are going to have to sacrifice and make a choice. Will Ludwick be back this year and if he does come back in August, will he be able to hit with power? The Reds are doing to trade an arm or two, and maybe Cozart, and/or someone else to get a dependable bat that can hit for power and drive in Runs.

    • @JEFFMO: Two wild card teams for each league are an every year thing now. I agree that the Reds need another power bat. With Ludwick signed for 2 years, it looks like they’re going to hope he can come back in August, instead of a major trade. But you can never be sure with WJ.

  20. Homer’s fastball was as good as I’ve ever seen it. He was spotting it, moving it around, throwing it at 97-98. The A’s couldn’t do anything with it – every Oakland hit was off a breaking pitch. Seems like he could have used it more once he got into trouble.

    • @pinson343:

      Homer has some talent, but he still needs to learn more about himself when he’s pitching. On nights when the breaking ball isn’t there, he needs to learn to not rely on it and make them beat his fasball.

      Bronson Arroyo talks about this alot, how on any given night when a certain pitch “isn’t there”, he will just back off on throwing it and change his plan on the fly, using the pitches that are working.

      I wonder if Arroyo would make a good pitching coach?

      • @CI3J: Bronson would make a good pitching coach, I think. He took Mike Leake under his wing and has helped there.

      • @CI3J: I think Bronson would definitely be a great pitching coach. Known how to stay healthy. Knows when to take himself out of the game. Most importantly, knows how to pitch.

        I see him being another Tedd Powers type of guy, a good polish pitching coach in the upper minors, though I’m certain he could be a great major league pitching coach as well. Problem is, why would he do it. He makes $12M a year, whereas a pitching coach in the majors might make $1M.

        • @TC: I could see it. If he retires when he’s 38ish he could do it for 12 years, make an extra 12M (1M/year) and still completely retire by 50. He has no kids (as far as he or I know) and what else would he do than be involved in the game he loves and has played his entire life.

          Only thing better IMO would be a TV analyst position.

      • @CI3J: Arroyo’s brain in Homer’s body would be a multi-year Cy Young Award winner.

      • @CI3J: Arroyo, to me, is a definite candidate for a pitching coach someday. The Reds have a lot of wily veterans in their entire system that would make excellent coaches. Corky Miller strikes me a type to see as a bench coach or something in his future.

    • @pinson343: I agree, and that is the one positive from yesterday. Chris Welsh noted about midway through the game the old pitching adage, “Don’t fall in love with the sugar,” meaning Homer may have gotten away from an excellent fastball at times. Homer when I have seen him lately seems to get to a lot of 0-2 and 1-2 counts, but can’t put the guy away, leading to high pitch counts (and mediocre outings.) Maybe Homer will throw more fastballs as an adjustment, based on his success with it yesterday.

      And I didn’t here why, but Mesoraco caught Homer yesterday, so we may see some change there.

  21. There is no reason to expect the Pirates to fall off of a cliff in the second half. In fact, I think you could argue that they could be even better in the second half with Cole in the rotation and prospects who could be dealt to add to their offense. The bullpen is excellent. I expect the Pirates in the playoffs.

    I also expect the Cards in the playoffs. I think they will slow down some, but 90+ wins seems extremely likely. They have enough on their roster currently to have the best record in baseball (with an underacheiving Matt Holliday). They have one of the top propsects in the game and their rookie pitching has been as good as billed.

    The question I have is if the Reds can hold of the Nationals, Rockies and Giants. I certainly think they do, so the 5th wildcard or better seems plausible. Their playoff expectancy is 66.2%. I like those odds, especially when the Reds have been without Cueto, without Marshall, without their cleanup hitter. To have the 3rd best record in the NL with those issues is good enough for me.

    Sure. I’d like to see them address a couple areas. Stanton in LF anyone? But even if the Reds do nothing, I think this is a playoff team.

    • @David: Good analysis. Miami insists they aren’t moving Stanton.

    • @David: The Marlins are a public-relations disaster, but I think from a baseball standpoint that they are on the right track. They saw the folly of the Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buerhle signings, and were able to ditch those contracts. Now they have a great young arm in Fernandez, a young star in Stanton, and solid young players like Marcell Ozuna and Logan Morrison. They are playing 3-4 other younger guys, like the Astros, and they may or may not work out. They also have some bargaining chips in Ricky Nolasco, whom the Dodgers want, and closer Steve Chishek.

      The Marlins, incredibly enough, are 13-9 in June. The Astros are probably better set for the long run, with the old Cardinals farm/development guy as GM and with a big new TV deal, but the Marlins aren’t as bad as their PR, and it would surprise me to see them trade Stanton now.

      I can’t find a guy for whom the Reds could realistically trade and make an appreciable difference this year. Maybe Josh Willingham, but he’s having a lousy season. They need Chris Heisey to seize his opportunity, which he hasn’t before. This may be his last real chance in Cincinnati.

  22. I hope we’re not back to the days of the mid-season swoon again. Kind of feels that way though.

    • @TC: Ahhh, and someone has finally mentioned the “June Swoon!!!” … Haven’t heard that in a while. I think the last time was 2010. Dang it TC!!! :mrgreen:

  23. Jason, great work on the recap! Much like you we planted 96 tomatoes this season.
    The Reds team seems to be just like my tomatoes this season, they are maturing fast but a few days of high heat and no water they start to wilt. We throw some extra water on them and BANG they perk right back up. We just have to be patient and let them rippen in time for the playoffs! Now if Dusty or someone could just turn on the sprinklers! 🙂

    • @Mike Martz: MY tomatoes, on the other hand, have seen no blazing heat, have seen record rainfall, and have yet to put in an appearance. I hope that there is no metaphorical correspondence to the Reds.

  24. I regret my previous statement. I’m AMAZED at how positive most have been today. I’d hate to break the momentum.

  25. Could we hear more about the tomatoes?


  26. New poster.

    This isn’t a reactionary post. Since the beginning of the season, I just haven’t gotten the same vibe about this team that I did in 2010 and 2012. Seems like something is missing, and I’m not talking about injuries.

    Maybe this team believed the hype about themselves.

    I feel like their hot streak has already taken place by whooping up and beating the Cubs 10 times, Marlins 6 times, Brewers 5 times, and the Mets 3 times. They struggle against good teams.

    I’m usually glass half full, but this team doesn’t have the farm system to improve themselves at the trade deadline. And the Pirates and Cardinals have two of the top farm systems in MLB. They’ll probably pick up Stanton or Shields or some other impact player while the Reds have to stand pat and hope Ludwick returns to form (which I don’t see happening), or the bullpen gets right.

    We will know a lot by the trade deadline. This team could be 7 or 8 games out. And many people say “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. Well that’s true of other teams too. Look at the Padres and Blue Jays and their recent surge and return to the postseason race. Other teams that were hot have cooled off like the Rockies (mostly due to Tulo’s injury). And other teams have good enough farm systems to improve themselves at the deadline too, unlike the Reds.

    • @Eric: This team does seem to need an infusion of energy, and it is too bad that Billy Hamilton isn’t quite ready yet. They just don’t have a lot of foot speed, outside of Robinson, and in fact they are deadly slow, so it makes the offense seem a bit passive.

      They emptied the farm system for Mat Latos, and then traded Gregorius, of whom people have different opinions but who would certainly add some athleticism to the team, in the one-year Choo rental.

      • @Big Ed: In fairness about the Latos trade. “Emptied the farm system” makes it sound like they got rid of a ton of good players. Looking back on it, who’d they really lose?

        2013 Stats:
        Edinson Volquez: 16 starts, 5-6, 5.67 ERA, 87.1 innings, 44 BB, 71 K
        Brad Boxberger: 6 games, 0-1, 4.00 ERA, 9.0 innings, 2 BB, 11 K
        Yonder Alonso: 54 games, .284/.335/.416, 7 doubles, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 15 BB, 30 K
        Yasmani Grandal: 22 games, .222/.345/.347, 6 doubles, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 14 BB, 13 K (1 50-game suspension for PEDs, and name has come up again in the Miami clinic investigation, which would mean 100 game suspension)

        Alonso has been a decent player, but he’s a first baseman. He certainly wouldn’t dethrone Votto, and I recall how horrible he looked in LF. You might say 3B, but is .013 OPS really worth taking Frazier’s glove off the field?

        So while they traded a bunch of players for Latos, I really don’t see how any of them could actually help the Reds right now if they were on the team. (Other than to use them to trade for a player to help the Reds, which they did with Latos). The Reds REALLY won that trade big time.

        • @ToddAlmighty: Yes, they probably won that trade, but to Eric’s point, there isn’t anything left that the Reds could trade to generate any immediate help at the trade deadline, not that there appears to be much out there, anyway.

          I pretty much thought Volquez was a non-tender candidate, so he was no loss, and Grandal now looks tainted. Boxberger and Alonso could still have good careers, though.

          I had forgotten how brutal Alonso was in left, who like Michael Jackson wore a glove on one hand for no apparent reason.

  27. At the front of the game yesterday, a stat was pointed out that Oakland is #1 in the majors in several categories regarding playing at home, including home wins since the end of May. They clearly know how to win in their ballpark and being without BP made the odds much more in favor of the A’s. The Reds are capable of better and I believe they will be. If they are 8 or 9 games out of first in a couple weeks, it might be panic time for me, but I’m not there yet. Time for another day off before Texas…

  28. While I am optimistic the Reds can play better and drag themselved out of the hole their in (wrt to the division), there is no certainty to it.

    This team is on a knife edge right now. They go one way and its 2010/2012, the other is 2011 where they just kindof go through the motions and play with little or no ungency. This year has alot of 2011 to it, injuries, poor perfomances/extended slumps at key positions, and some less than inspired play. in the end, its on the players, if they want the success they have to go out and get it. If it wasn’t for Cingrani’s excellent debut as 6th starter, it could be a different story already.

    Regarding ban: wasn’t on game thread yesterday, but that same poster was banned a few weeks ago over on red reporter. And its a feat to get banned over there!

  29. Excuse the repetition if you saw this above where it makes even less sense 🙂 I am working with a strange keyboard this AM

    About the bottom of the Reds line up……

    IMO, it isn’t so much any one of the individuals. The offensive stats can be massaged and defensive contribution added in to make a reasonable case that none of them when looked at individually are really that bad. To me the issue is that the Reds have all three of those spots populated by guys who are just marginally OK (if that in one or two cases) and the sum of the parts doesn’t measure up to what it needs to be. To wit: to pull the train for the dead offensive weight behind him, Frazier does need to be a David Wright and not Todd Frazier as we’ve seen him to date. My point is there needs to be change in those positions, whatever or however it takes to do it.

    • @OhioJim: I don’t know how anyone can massage the numbers to make Hanigan’s offensive performance look okay.

      Even if you remove the terrible start (which is fair imo…management deserves the blame for playing a guy who is obviously unable to play), Hanigan’s line since is returning from injury is: .204/.286/.333.

      Yikes. This is a small sample size, however, at some point, something has got to give. Perhaps Mesoraco hasn’t played good enough to earn the starting job, but Hanigan surely hasn’t played well enough to keep it.

      • @CP: We’ve seen this problem before with Heisey and Ludwick last year before Lucwick finally got it going. In the first 2+ months of the season they both played so badly, it just seemed like no one wanted the LF job.

        Mesoraco has the pedigree. He’s hit a ton in the minors. If he would just step up and even put up league average numbers or a little better, he’d be the starter by August. But he does give up something behind the plate, so as long as he isn’t that much better than Hanigan offensively, Dusty can justify not playing him more.

  30. Is this what is commonly referred to as ‘the dog days of summer’?

    • @rightsaidred:

      Nah, they are usually referring to late July and all of August when they say that.

    • @rightsaidred: The term “dog days” arose from ancient times, when Sirius (the “dog star” in constellation Canis Major) rose at the same time as the sun. The ancients believed that this conjunction caused the hot weather.

      • @renbutler: That is, Sirius and the sun rose at the same time during the hottest time of the year. Just for clarification.

  31. I really thought as the weather warmed up so would this Reds team, namely their hitters. The numbers tell a different story, but Votto doesn’t look like the usual Votto to me. BP had a great start to the season and hasn’t been the same since the Pirates drilled him. Choo has tailed off badly. Bruce is in his hot streak. Cozart and Frazier are what they are. I think this team needs another reliable bat. And the bench is about as bad as it gets other than Xavier Paul.

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About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.


2013 Reds, Titanic Struggle Recap