As you know, the Cincinnati Reds play in the National League where pitchers are required to bat. Today, the Reds are assigned to compete in a baseball game that takes place in Boston, which is an American League city. In games played in American League ballparks, teams are allowed to designate a hitter to bat in the place of a pitcher.

This is not a new rule. The Designated Hitter rule was passed in 1973, when Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was 22 years old.

Nor is this the only game the Reds will play using the DH rule. Nine other times this season, or six percent of their schedule, will the Reds play in American League ballparks, not counting a possible World Series appearance. Important things, these DH games are.

The Boston Red Sox DH today is David Ortiz. His career batting line (.286/.381/.547) is quite impressive, lifetime OPS (.928).

The Cincinnati Reds DH today is Neftali Soto, who’s career batting line you’ll find in the title of this post, lifetime OPS (.240).

I think we’ll give the edge to Boston.

You might want to wait just a second, while you finish trying to grasp the sheer magnitude of the gap between Ortiz and Soto at the plate, before you consider the next point.

Which is this: The two Reds starting pitchers for this series, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake, are batting a combined .216/.216/.349.

I don’t want to hear about the excuse of injuries. Obviously, injuries. But every single team in the history of baseball has played with the risk of injuries. That’s why you build roster depth at the major league level. And build your farm system. It’s also why, so I’ve heard, general managers stay prepared for such adversity with ideas of what trades could be made in a pinch. General managers are supposed to protect their teams from situations like this.

Situations where your organization is embarrassed on national television by starting a Designated Hitter who’s a worse hitter than the pitcher he’s replacing. That kind of situation.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be pulling for Neftali Soto to go 4-for-4 tonight. And I’m certainly not blaming the player for this unfortunate circumstance. This is entirely on the people whose job it is to build Mr. Castellini that winning roster he’s paid for and deserves.

[Update: Meanwhile, Billy Hamilton remains unavailable to play the field. Hamilton has been sidelined since April 30, with two sprained knuckles. The Reds centerfielder failed an examination today, unable to hold a bat when he swung. If the Reds had put him on the DL when he got hurt, he’d already be almost half way through the 15 days. As it is, the Reds keep resetting the clock every time they use him to pinch run. When Walt Jocketty was asked if Hamilton was headed to the DL, his response (Mark Sheldon) was: “Not yet. I don’t know who we’d replace him with.” Not making that up, nor did I find the quote in The Onion.]

If this is what the New Accountability looks like, I’ve been under a misimpression about what that means.

Because to me, this situation looks exactly like Old Unaccountable Organizational Failure.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 42 Comments

  1. I’m sure there’s a rationale. Ahem. Has Soto faced him in minors with success? Got to get him going.

  2. Don’t worry guys, the Reds will have the advantage when the Red Sox come to Cincinnati!


  3. Exactly what I was thinking when I saw the line up. I knew I could count on RLN to put it into words.

  4. Why don’t more NL starting pitchers spend time focusing on hitting? Risk of injury? Assuming a starter will usually get at least 2 ABs per start, it would make sense to have pitchers like Leake who can actually make something happen rather than giving the other team 1 out every 3 innings.

  5. Dusty-ed…start the righty not the lefty roger b, who even though he isn’t producing is still a better option than soto…but now soto is going to go 2-4 with 2 bombs

  6. Steve, you dind’t even get to the bench for tonight’s game. If needed, the Reds’ bench consists of:

    Ramon Santiago slashing .118/.250/.118
    Roger Bernadina slashing .143/.294/.179
    Billy Hamilton slashing .245/.280/.330 only avaiable as pinch runner
    Brayan Pena slashing .328/.371/.552 only avaiable in dire emergency

    That’s just 2 viable bats on the bench with an OPS of .368 & .473, whoopy!

    For comparison…
    Cingrani .364 OPS
    Cueto .444 OPS
    Bailey .462 OPS
    Leake .667 OPS

    Not only do the Reds have almost an entire AAA roster of minor league FA, but the Reds plug minor league FA into the 25-man major league roster. What a fiasco.

    • I can only bear so much.

    • Soto might be the worst hitter I’ve ever seen. At least Bernadina can take a walk… what does Price see that we as fans don’t? Soto hitting HR’s off 80mph fastballs in batting practice? Must be. He’s been completely overmatched in nearly every one of his ABs at the pro level, including numerous swing, swing, swing strike outs.

      Not really a reply to your post, just needed soemwhere to rant!

  7. How is Soto a better option to DH than Bernadina? The only reason Bernadina was DFA’d instead of Soto is because we needed Soto as a backup infielder and had too many OF at the time. But Bernadina was deemed good enough to start how many times this season already, including the day before he was DFA’d against the first place Brewers. Fast forward less than a week and Soto, with a career OPS+ of -34 (that’s right, there’s a negative sign in front of that number) is the better option as the part of the starting lineup in the game solely for their offensive value?

    Only thing I can think of is that Price had to turn in his lineup card before Walt made the decision to bring back Bernadina or they weren’t sure he could actually make it to Fenway in time. How was that decision not made the instant Bruce got the MRI? We had a freaking off day yesterday.

    • He’s actually brought that OPS+ up this year. Last year it was -76. I don’t even know how to make sense of that number. Does it mean he’s almost 200% worse than a league average hitter? So like worse than an actual corpse?

      • Yes. You can destroy runs/value by being terrible. I think that’s where the negative in the math comes from. Destroying runs, rather than just being run-neutral, or something.

  8. Soto is not a good DH option, but you’re talking about 26 PAs when you cite his “career” batting line. That’s a touch misleading. Overall, projection systems expect Soto to be about as good with the bat as Bernadina. Maybe a touch better. He certainly has more power.

    The lack of OF depth in the Reds system is appalling, but Soto’s numbers right now aren’t illustrative of that.

    • You don’t think the fact that the Reds are using a guy as a DH who has 2 career hits isn’t illustrative of the lack of depth in the Reds system?

      • Sure it is. Of course, if he were a hot prospect with two career hits in 26 PAs, we wouldn’t care. What is really illustrative is that Soto’s minor league numbers tell us he isn’t very good AND he is the best the Reds can give right now. Using a 26 PA sample size doesn’t tell anyone anything, though. And it shouldn’t be compare to David Ortiz.

        If Soto currently had a “career” line of .350/.426/.600, the same argument would be appropriate because 26 PAs doesn’t tell you how good a player is.

        Soto is not very good. The upper levels of the Reds’ system are poor right now. We totally agree on that. Just not on how to best present it.

        It is also worth noting that the Reds currently have 4 important hitters hurt right now (Bruce, Hamilton, Pena, Mes). Most any team will be getting into scrubs at that point. Especially as a couple of those guys are “day-to-day” whatever that means in the perverse parlance of the Reds’ front office.

  9. Let’s not overlook that Soto’s appearance at DH with Barnhart the starting catcher also is probably an inference that Peña is much less than whole.

    And yes I read the blurb about who would it be if they DLed Hamilton and wondered who is supposed to be minding the store

    • That was my first thought when I saw the lineup before I even balked at Soto. Pena is troubling, but at least Mes is due back probably just after the Colorado series. And we have 2 days off between now and then, too. So hopefully Pena will be good for that series. Here’s hoping for some miracle pitching in Beantown…

  10. The Hamilton thing is killing me. If he can’t grip a bat a week after the injury, he belongs on the DL. End of story. Full stop. Who would you replace him with? How about ANYONE WHO CAN GRIP A BAT? There’s no reason Lutz couldn’t be brought up for 2 weeks. I just don’t know how this team is going to get past these injuries. The pitching can’t keep up at this pace forever and we already have serious ground to make up. We’re probably in another spot where going .500 over the next month is the best case scenario. We may gain a little ground on Milwaukee doing that, but the Cards will almost certainly gain much more. Add in that we don’t know how effective Bruce will be when he returns, who knows if Mes’ hot start was a mirage or not, and Hamilton is still a question mark even once he gets healthy…Sheesh this year is killing me.

    • THIS. The ‘he can bunt’ excuse is exceptionally lame. First, he’s not a good bunter when he is healthy, quite frankly. The ‘he can pinch run like last season’ is lame as well. The odds of causing more damage to the hand increase dramatically, and this isn’t expanded roster time. You want bunters? What the heck are the pitchers for?!? Bernadina or Santiago can pinch run. “Oh, but we are short handed and may need them in the field.” If you are desperate enough to say we need the likes of Bernadina and Santiago, then we REALLY can’t afford to have someone sitting on the bench who can only run. If I’m a pitcher and Hamilton comes to the plate he is getting some serious heat inside. Go ahead and put the bat on it. That sucker is going to sting real good. I may never have made it to the Show, but I played enough to know that you still need two hands on the bat to bunt, unless you are Todd Frazier. DL him now. This is stupid.

    • “The Hamilton thing is killing me. If he can’t grip a bat a week after the injury, he belongs on the DL. End of story. Full stop. Who would you replace him with? How about ANYONE WHO CAN GRIP A BAT? ”

      This is my favorite comment of the whole thread. It covers so much of the front office’s dysfunctionality. I used to have a high opinion of Walt Jocketty (and he’s not without his solid moves), but nearly every good move is offset by an inexplicable one.

  11. The only thing i can think of is that the Reds are trying to avoid as many Dfas as possible. But heck we plenty of players such as Bernadina in our organization who is never going to be a fulltime player… Use them that is what they are there for.

  12. This. A million times, this.

  13. Inexcusable and utterly embarrassing ! Can I get a plate appearance – don’t believe I can do any worse than soto !

  14. Sheldon followed WJ’s quote with some context: “The Reds have three minor league outfielders — Ryan LaMarre, Yorman Rodriguez and Jesse Winker — on the disabled list. Donald Lutz spent time on the DL with a sore hamstring. He’s back but he missed the last couple of days with a flu-like illness.”

    Not that I’m defending the lack of depth. I was really hoping the Reds would land Sizemore, who, of course, is in the Red Sox lineup tonight.

  15. I know people are frustrated, and need to vent, but these posts are so over the top.

    You throw around depth like it’s something every team has, when it’s more like exactly the opposite. Starting RF, CF, C, back up catcher, closer, and top starter from last year, all unable to play. The fact that we have a lineup with guys like Heisey out there is depth.

    And geez this craziness about the DH. Answer me this, does being in the AL determine your market size and payroll? No? Then it seems like it’s just a different way of allocating resources.

    The Red Sox are paying Ortiz $11 million this year, and that’s $11 million the Reds don’t have to spend on a hitter who doesn’t play the field. We have $11 million to spend on other things that the Sox don’t, so who cares? If your point is actually that the Red Sox have more money than us, then just say so.

    And then finally, the stuff about Hamilton. Lord. Have you ever been injured in your life? Sometimes you get better fast, sometimes it takes longer. You don’t always just know as soon as it happened. The Reds clearly wanted Hamilton to be able to come back, and thought there was a good chance he could without the DL.

    I guess when you’re frustrated, you have to have someone to blame.

    • Your point about the DH is only half right. Yes, the AL teams spend more money on their DL than any NL team should spend on their first bench player. Fair enough. But beyond that, the DH isn’t a position for NL teams, it’s your next best available hitter. And the fact that Neftali Soto, with two major league hits, is anyone’s “next best available hitter” is my point.

      And all those injuries you rattle off – only two of them are hitters who aren’t catchers. None of those injuries explains why the Reds don’t have a good hitter who is the back up 1B or 3B or middle infielder.

      On Hamilton, my main complaint is that the Reds have been using Hamilton as a pinch runner, unsure whether he’ll have to go on the DL. There’s still a good chance he won’t have to go on the DL. But are those pinch running situations more important than re-setting Hamilton’s return date if he does go on the DL?

      If Hamilton was FAR from being on the DL, then using him make sense. But given than seven days later he still can’t even swing a bat, it’s obvious that he isn’t FAR from needing to go on the DL. The Reds have used him in ways that Mike Leake could have been used, instead.

      • I don’t think you really got my point at all then. The point is that the Reds have their resources deployed elsewhere, so it’s stupid to compare who our DH is with theirs. You brought up all the “it’s an old rule” stuff. The Reds spent on pitching not DH. compare our starters with theirs if you want a better comp.

      • Soto is a career .272/.319/.451 hitter in the minors. That he hasn’t hit well in 26 ABs doesn’t make him a bad backup bad in the infield.

      • As far as pinch running with Hamilton, I agree, they haven’t done it well, but I don’t think that has any bearing on the DL situation.

        I thought they should have pinch run with Hamilton for Pena so he could steal some bases. Instead, Pena ran, got hurt, and got to third. Then they pinch ran with Hamilton when he couldn’t have stolen any bases. And yes, I would have brought Leake in at that point.

        But I would have then run with Hamilton for Ludwick in the next inning.

    • Al’s point about the $11 million being about to be spent elsewhere is overly simplistic. The DH pool of players is a relatively large pool of players with a very small group of suitors. Almost every other position faces the exact opposite issue. That extra $11m buys less in the SP market, especially once you start factoring in the true cost of winning a bidding war for starting pitchers. The nature of the DH market (bigger 1-dimensional players who are typically older), makes long term deals out of the question. Ortiz is a kind of a special case anyway, you

      In addition, the AL get a whole bunch of ancillary benefits because of the DH that the NL teams don’t get.

      1) Propsects can be called up faster and accumulate experience quicker. a Yonder Alonso, for example, would not have to be traded.

      2) AL teams get greater roster flexibility. The NL teams have to check-all-the-boxes for bench construction. AL teams don’t have to use as many subs, because they don’t have the stupid double switch issue to worry about.

      3) AL teams can give their star players “off” days. I think the Reds would love to give Votto days off in the field.

      4. AL teams can keep talent better. They don’t have to worry that Albert Pujols’ fielding will suddenly decline. Long term deals are a huge minefield for both the NL and AL, but there are more mines to navigate in the NL. I couldn’t imagine a team giving a 30 year old non-1B like Cano a 10 year deal in the NL. It’ll probably happen someday, but it’ll be a mammoth risk. The AL has a huge advantage in that regard.

      The DH isn’t some magical cure, but acting like the $11 million is purely a pot of money that NL teams get to use elswehere without any reprucussions or side effects is false.

  16. Soto obviously got the start over Bernadina because the Red Sox starter is a lefty. Not tough to figure out.

    • Soto is our “next best” RH hitter. Roger Bernadina, a guy we just DFA’d, is our “next best” LH hitter. You’re making my point.

      • Yes, when you have your normal backups already in the field because of injury, that happens.

  17. WJ’s willful failure to address the lack of depth on offense over the offseason will be evident every time these Reds play in an American League park.

    Hamilton straddling the active/disabled status is more of the same roster ineptitude from last year.

    I think it’s time for WJ to go. There has got to be somebody else out there who can build and manage a roster better that Walt over the past 2 years. Kudos to him for building a great pitching staff, but you have to have people to swing the bats as well, and people to step in when your starters get hurt.

  18. God, I hope the Reds win this game so much with the negativity of this game thread.

    • This is definitely one of the more depressing ones. It’s like there aren’t guys named Votto, Phillips, Frazier, and Ludwick. The team is pretty beat up, but you can’t throw away the entire season based on a little more than 20 games. As for Jocketty’s roster building, our depth was supposed to come from Hannahan (hurt), Schumaker (just back), Pena (hurt), Santiago, and Heisey.

  19. So with all the mentioned AAA injured, which position players are actually available to add, any one have some gems out there not on any 40 man roster

  20. Wow…. Can an article be any more misleading?

    So on the surface, the article states “Their DH embarasses our DH.”

    Ok, two points:

    1. The DH in question is David Ortiz, quite possibly the greatet DH baseball has ever seen since Edgar Martinez. Most DH for opposing teams are going to pale in comparison.

    2. To ignore the effect injures has had on the construction of this team’s lineup is…well…. ignorant. Ortiz is the Red Sox’s #1 option off the bench. Where does Soto rank for the Reds? Let’s consider the Reds’ bench and where they rank as hitters:

    C Pena
    OF Heisey
    OF Schumaker
    IF Hanahan
    OF Bernadina

    Followed by:

    C Barnhart
    IF Santiago

    Then, finally:

    IF Soto

    So you are comparing the Reds EIGHTH best option off the bench to the Red Sox’s BEST option off the bench, who also happens to be one of the greatest designated hitters in the history of the game? Somehow, this is Jocketty’s fault?

    Tell you what. Tell me another team who has a eigth option off the bench who compares favorably to Ortiz.

    I’ll wait.

    I expect I’ll be waiting for a LONG time.

  21. Steve … Thank you very much … CI3J … The game is played with the players provided by the GM and chosen by the manager, so if the opposition chooses one of the best in the game, then the other manager should attempt to counter … if possible. The problem is that the Reds bench consists of Santiago (.118/.250/.118), Soto (.133/.125/.200) and Bernadina (.143/.294/.179), since Barnhart (.158/.158/.316) started. Injuries notwithstanding, the Reds leadoff hitters are 28th in MLB, the HOF 1B has .118 RISP, arguably the best defensive 2B in baseball, who drove in 103 last year batting 4th is not batting there now, the “power” hitting LF is on pace for 10 HRs and the SS has 16 hits in 26 April games. Some of these issues are just slumps (Votto), some are managerial mistakes (BP), some are predictable failures that the GM should have known and done something about (Hamilton, Ludwick, Cozart, the bench). The bottom line is that even if the Reds do get healthy, and these players perform to their MLB averages, they’re not going anywhere until the GM does something about the leadoff, LF, SS and bench hitters.

  22. Steve: on first consideration, I don’t get the significance of resetting the 15 day DL for Billy. What does it matter if he is too hurt to play, anyway? And do they, perhaps, think that his value as a pinch-runner on a generally slow team that frequently has power outages is too great to lose unless absolutely necessary?

    • I don’t think Billy’s speed trumps a player who is whole. This team needs whole bodies. Using him as a PR only then causes two substitutions instead of one with an already destitute bench.

  23. Not making that up, nor did I find the quote in The Onion .
    I liked that, Steve.

Comments are closed.

About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2014 Reds