2014 Reds

Mike Leake speaks out

Taking a cue from his mentor, Bronson Arroyo, Reds pitcher Mike Leake has been speaking his mind about the effort of his teammates and how that relates to action or inaction by the Reds front office.

After his successful start in Miami on Sunday, Leake raised the specter of the team “throwing it in.” He specifically mentioned general manager Walt Jocketty, suggesting (video) his hope that if the Reds continued to play well, that Jocketty would “put his cards in this year:”

“We had a chance to take all four [games]. At least we got out of here with three out of of four — that’s always a good job,” Leake said. “We’re still in this. We’ve still got a chance if we put ourselves in a good position and Walt in a good position, I feel like he’ll put his cards in this year. It’s up to the players and up to us whether we want to bear down and make it a good year or if we want to kind of throw it in.” (Mark Sheldon, MLB.com)

… this year … put his cards in this year … 

As Leake and anyone who follows the Reds closely knows, Jocketty didn’t put his cards in last year. Instead, the Reds stood pat in July and August. The team limped across the finish line, losing its last six games including the Wild Card play-in to Pittsburgh. Would trade acquisitions have helped?

In an interview on the MLB radio network before this year’s trade deadline, Jocketty himself pointed out that when the team has battled to overcome everything they have, you “want to show them you support them by bringing in reinforcements.” And “if you could add someone it would really help boost the morale of the clubhouse.”

Leake’s statement on Sunday closely parallels one he made immediately prior to the trade deadline, when he referred in part to the need for “help” to compensate for Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips (“two of our best players, if not the two best players”) being on the disabled list:

“Don’t get me wrong. We’re all trying. We’re all working hard. We have two of our best players, if not the two best players, that are rehabbing right now. It’s tough on us. We either have to pick it up or get help. There’s only one of two ways to go about it. We’ll see what happens.” (Sheldon)

The non-waiver trade deadline has passed and the Reds were once again one of the few teams in contention that did not take any steps to improve its roster.

26 thoughts on “Mike Leake speaks out

  1. Leake is expressing precisely what one would want a player to think/feel regarding his team. However, this means next to nothing with regard to what should actually have happened at the deadline. With some overperforming pieces that should have been traded now beginning to show some regression to the norm (Simon/Broxton), the continued absence of two and one half players from the starting eight (Votto, Phillips, and the other half of Bruce), and the collective offensive ineptitude in the absence of these players, there is but an infinitesimal chance the Reds could make the playoffs. So, buying was certainly not the answer (and is still not if Byrd gets through waivers, got that Walt?) . . . However, standing pat was not the answer either.

    • My take: Jocketty didn’t make any moves because there weren’t any to make. The Reds are simply stuck with what they have.

      Think about it. Who would we REALLY consider trading…and who would want those players? (Run-of-the-mill RP’s, Ludwick, marginal MLB/AAA players) And when an opposing GM talks to Walt, which players does that GM ask for? Players we ain’t giving up (top prospects, SP’s, Broxton, Chapman, young MLB guns).

      As Coach Norman Dale said in Hoosiers: “This is your team.”

  2. I would dispute the contention that: “The non-waiver trade deadline has passed and the Reds were once again one of the few teams in contention that did not take any steps to improve its roster”.

    Most of the important trade activity happened in the American League. Florida and St. Louis were about the only teams that did anything big in the National League. Milwaukee did next to nothing, and Pittsburgh did nothing.

    Florida traded away couple of top 100 prospects and a high draft choice for … Jared Cosart and extras. Thank you Walt for not taking that approach.

    St. Louis went in “strong” as a buyer to land two so-so starters. They traded Joe Kelly and Allen Craig at perhaps their lowest value, for a 35 year old John Lackey and his 4.02 career ERA. They traded away their 2012 first round draft choice, who will be starting with Cleveland in AAA, for Justin Masterson and his 5.51 2014 ERA (career 4.16). The Cards remain a flawed team after blowing valuable assets for mediocre pitching. Thanks again Walt for not taking the Cards approach.

    There are more teams in contention than not in the NL this year, but only a couple of NL teams did anything meaningful trade-wise in July.

    • It doesn’t necessarily bother me that Jocketty didn’t acquire players at the deadline. It does bother me that for the second year in a row, he couldn’t figure out a single trade to improve the team (either now or in the future) that was acceptable to trade partners and/or the owner.

      That said, you might have a point if I’d said “…the Reds were one of the few teams in the National League who didn’t take any meaningful steps…” but that’s not what I said. So you’re answering an argument that wasn’t made by me.

      For your argument to be even possibly correct, which it isn’t, you have to (a) bracket off the American League, which I didn’t and don’t understand why one would, and (b) limit the discussion only to “meaningful” trades, which I didn’t and don’t understand why one would.

      Contending teams that made trades: Seattle, Detroit, Oakland, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Washington, Baltimore, NY Yankees, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles Angels, Kansas Cities

      Teams that didn’t make trades: Pittsburgh, LA Dodgers, Toronto, Cincinnati

      You might not think that acquiring Gerardo Parra (a Gold Glove OF) wasn’t meaningful for Milwaukee, but he’d be a huge upgrade for the Reds over Skip Schumaker, and the Brewers got him for a mediocre, 23-year-old AA outfielder.

      • Always liked Parra and would have liked to have seen him in a Reds uniform.

        • Me too. It would have made for one awesome defensive OF with Parra, BHam and Bruce. I think Parra would have stayed for another year or two until the youngsters are ready.
          “Should of, could of, and would of…” will be emblazened upon WJ’s tombstone.

      • Parra’s an incredible defensive OFer. Routinely makes diving catches that for other OFers would be considered spectacular. He made one against the Reds last week.

      • It seems to me its not the “specific” player or team, but the fact that with obvious needs WJ did nothing, Nada, not a thing.

      • My “argument” was that there were very few meaningful trades in the National League.

        You question why I would make the distinctions of “National League” and “meaningful trades”. Why wouldn’t or couldn’t I? Are there a similar number of teams in the NL, as compared to the AL? Do I care whether the Colorado Rockies sent Chris Capuano to the Yankees for cash considerations? The Reds actually did make a trade in early July, acquiring first baseman Harold Riggins in exchange for right-hander Jair Jurrjens. Should I care about that trade, or are “meaningful trades” more relevant?

        I happen to think you are a heckuva writer; I just don’t always agree with you. You have been banging the same drum for awhile now that Jocketty is somehow deficient (?) or negligent (?) for not making a single trade before the deadline. I look at his overall body of work and don’t get too hung up on whether he makes deals in July or December (he seems to find better value in the offseason). He brought us Chapman in 2010, Latos in 2011, and Choo in 2012. All great moves that bettered the Reds much more than it cost them.

        Part of my point was that the Marlins made what I would consider a pretty lousy trade to land Cosart. It would stand to reason that some of the other trading clubs got the short end of the stick; that some of these trades will prove to be bad for one club or another. Is that all Walt had to do? Something, anything, even if it made the Reds worse off?

        You bashed WJ for not landing or blocking Byrd last year. Fair enough, I’ll concede that Jocketty erred there: I never said he or anyone else was perfect. However, you also bashed him for not landing Grady Sizemore. Who erred there?

        In time, we’ll see which of these deals significantly help the various clubs. You’re touting the Brewers pick up of Parra, even though a few days ago you seemed to somewhat downplay it:

        “The Milwaukee Brewers picked up Gerardo Parra – who has been a defensive specialist OF with an average-at-best bat. It’s hard to see how he cracks the starting outfield of Ryan Braun-Carlos Gomez-Khris Davis other than as a late-inning replacement for Davis. Maybe Braun will move back to left and Parra will start in right. Davis (wRC+ 113) has a substantially higher projected offense than Parra (wRC+ 95) for the rest of 2014. And the defensive metrics have Parra in the negative numbers this year, after his Gold Glove season of 2013. He’s a great bat to have come off the bench, though, and used to that role with the D-Backs.”

        The Brewers got Parra for little in return because Arizona was dumping salary on an underperforming player. Parra is making $ 4,850,000 this year, with one more year of arbitration left. He might be better than Skip Schumaker, but he’s being paid nearly twice as much, and he doesn’t fill the Reds most pressing need: a big bat in LF.

        In that same article a few days ago you seemed to give Pittsburgh a pass (because they were reportedly active?) even though they too made no trades:

        “The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t make any moves. They were reportedly active in negotiations for elite starting pitching right until the end. And it wouldn’t be surprising for them to make important acquisitions in August as they did last year.”

        If Pittsburgh has earned a pass for failing to make a deadline deal, it’s my opinion that Walt Jocketty has earned the same consideration.

  3. Matt Garza of the Brewers to the DL….another Central contender weakened. Gee, if we had been able to make ANY upgrades, we might have been able to climb more substantially into contention.

    • Yes on Sunday Garza was pitching a 1 hit shutout against the Cardinals thru 6 and had to leave, after which the Cardinals won the game. This division has been very winnable all along, a big part of the argument for going for it this year.

      And now McCutcheon has a broken rib.

      • It seems to me that the division is still very winnable, and pending the timing and quality of Votto and BP’s return, the Reds could still pull it off. I question the wisdom of stop-gap, trade prospects moves for a team in the Reds’ position, since their success this year will depend more on the return of their injured players than it could on a marginal improvement in left field or wherever.

      • Hurdle apparently doesn’t think it’s from the HBP and I tend to agree after reading the article about the injury. Just was a matter of timing.

  4. Matt Kemp has passed thru revocable waivers. He’s set to earn $107mil thru 2018. His .871 OPS would look good in left field and would probably improve playing at GABP.

    I wonder if the Dodgers would eat some of the salary just to be rid of the 4 headed logjam in their outfield, making him within the realm of possibility. And hey, who’s to say we couldn’t flip him after 2015? Of course the assumption is that we have the money and that Kemp can stay healthy. Maybe we trade a starter to free up payroll….

    But hey, dreaming about the what-if sure beats the cold reality of the here-and-now.

    • Ah Sultan, you are taking the Old Cossack back to hoping to see Matt Kemp wearing a wishbone C. I really believe that Kemp’s injuries, although serious, were isolated circumstances and are behind him. I also believe that he has more production in front of him, but that contract and the prior injuries certainly represent a significant risk.

    • Problem is (ok one of many problems) that Kemp wants to play CF. Even though he’s a lousy CF’r.

  5. McCutcheon has a broken rib and the Pirate are going to “wait and see” about putting him on the DL ! And Garza is on the DL. And I agree with Earmbrister above that the Cardinals, who have scored even fewer runs than the Reds, did not address the problem by trading away Craig.

    The NL Central might not be this winnable for a long time, and WJ can still make moves.
    BTW Pirate fans are irate at their GM (Huntington ?). They say he’s just been sitting on the toilet for 3 months.

    For hatred of the GM, nothing surpasses Philly fans and Amaro. They’re more pissed off than Reds fans that he didn’t make a move (dump players), but they also say it doesn’t matter, because any move he’d make would suck anyway.

  6. Ummm – It’s not that hard to understand why Walt (correctly, in my opinion) stood pat at the deadline. It boils down to Votto out without much hope of getting Votto like production even if he does come back this season. The reds have made the playoffs, and Walt’s simply not going to trade away pieces this year to MAYBE make it to the playoffs without a legitimate chance to advance in October.

    • No on Rios. Unless you can find an extra $13M in your sofa seat cushions for next season.

  7. I would have liked to see the team improved via the trade this year, but I have a couple of questions. What deals could have been made that wouldn’t have hurt us long-term? And would that acquisition, if made, actually been enough to improve the team enough to make the playoffs?

Comments are closed.