Final R H E
  Miami (57-60) 2 5 1
  Cincinnati (60-58) 7 7 1
 W: Cueto (14-6)     L: Hand (2-4)
 FanGraphs Win Probability |   The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score    |   Game Photos

Devin Mesoraco crushed two home runs, his 19th and 20th of the season, while driving in six. The latter was his third grand slam of the season, which ties a Reds all-time record. Albert Pujols and Ernie Banks share the NL record for the most in a season (5). Alex Rodriguez has hit 24 in his career. Mesoraco’s numbers have come down a bit since I wrote it a few weeks ago, but he is putting up an MVP-caliber season

Sparky Anderson wouldn’t have seriously considered sitting Johnny Bench every fifth game so that one of his starters could have a personal catcher. From 1970 to 1975, Bench averaged 650 plate appearances. If you extrapolated Mesoraco’s 2014 production to that many PA’s, he’d hit 40 doubles, 42 home runs and drive in 128 RBI. That’ll do. Mesoraco’s current OPS is higher than Bench recorded for any season. Brayan Peña is having a nice season for him, but his OPS (.710) is dwarfed by Mesoraco’s (.949).

The Reds worked three walks in the fifth before Mesoraco’s bomb, including a bases-loaded free pass to Todd Frazier. Walks will haunt. So will grand slams.

Johnny Cueto set a career high for strikeouts, with 181. His strikeout rate (25.7%) is the highest of his career by far. His second best season was 2013 (21.1%). Cueto gave up two runs, on solo shots by Giancarlo Stanton and Casey McGehee. In 20 of his 25 starts he’s given up 2 or fewer runs. J.J. Hoover pitched the ninth and his two strikeouts provided pizza for the house.

Ramon Santiago had two hits and a walk. Jay Bruce had a hit, a walk and missed a home run by a couple feet. Bruce also robbed Stanton of a second home run in the eighth inning, leaping more than a foot above the right field fence. With Junior in the house. Gotta be the shoes.

With the win, the Reds avoided being swept at home for the first time this season. They started the day 3 games out of the second Wild Card slot. The Reds have 44 games remaining and next play two home games against the Boston Red Sox after an off day tomorrow.

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! 131 Comments

  1. Sheesh, did you even wait for the final pitch before this got put up? Lol

  2. I think it’s time to talk about a Mesoraco extension. What kind of money would they have to fork out to buy out his arbitration+2 years do you think? I guess I don’t know the catcher market.

  3. But Cueto is the ACE. He should be able to do whatever he wants!

  4. Mesoraco should get to choose his own personal pitcher whenever he wants. He should also get final say on what food is served in the ballpark. Finally, he should design the uniforms and assign lockers.

  5. Jay Bruce needs to order everybody a new pair of shoes as well.

  6. Once again…..they Key to the Manager putting players where they should be put. Mes in the lineup, and hitting where he should be hitting, which is cleanup. Also, though it is one game, overall, I think Santiago should now be playing 2nd base over Shumaker the Outmaker. Great Win for the Reds today, and a day off tommorrow. But, I believe the Reds pitching should keep them in most games, thus games should be close, which means those one run games. Therefore, it is imperative for the Reds to do the little things. Price putting the right players in games, and positioning them in the lineup where they produce the best, and the Reds using their heads when on the basepaths, and the Reds Management doing its job (just as any company manager, supervisor, and lead or assistant supervisor would do at any job), and talking to the Third Base Coach Smith, to use his head when coaching Third Base. Accountability People! And, the Reds players doing there jobs when the situation arises!

  7. I got home and turned on the game just in time to see the bases get loaded, the walk to take the lead, and the Meso-bomb! Yowza – what a shot. The kid has talent.

    Then there was the JayBJump with Griffey Feet … nice Sunday game after all. Bring on the day of rest and the Red Sox. I hope Cespedes misses the plane …

  8. Hopefully the Reds know they have found their right handed hitting cleanup man in Meso. Johnny Cueto does it again.

  9. 3 game sweep def could have been had. Great win today.

  10. Extend Cueto. 2015 lineup:

    Hamilton, Votto, Frazier, Mesoraco, Bruce, Phillips, Winker, Cozart

    • The chance of Winker being on the Reds opening day roster in 2015 is remote. He struggled in 21 games at AA this year: .208/.326/.351 and then got hurt. He’s still a great prospect but he’s going to have to hit AA and AAA pitching before he gets the LF job.

  11. Bryan made a couple nice calls today regarding the roster and substitutions. He found the perfect role for Hannahan, on deck when the final out was recorded with a 5 run lead. He also found the perfect role for Hoover, pitching the final inning with a 5 run lead.

  12. A couple days ago I posted a long paragraph about Devin playing everyday. The gist was the lineup wasn’t good enough to sit the teams best hitter every fifth game. I feel vindicated today and I hope Price learned a valuable lesson about the danger (and relative lack of value) personal catchers represent. That was a Dusty philosophy price fell into with Cueto and it was discouraging.

    PS. If Johnny wins the Cy Young, I don’t see how the Reds afford him.

    • I’d rather have Meso playing 80% of the time in August and September than 100% of the time in August and 0% of the time in September because he goes on the DL for a third time this year.

      • I would rather have Mesoraco’s bat in the lineup every day. He can catch 5 days a week and play 1st base the other 2. If Pena can play first so can Mesoraco.

        I said last year that Mesoraco should have been playing LF on days he did not catch. The Dodgers had Yeager and Ferguson do that very successfully and they rotated in RF.

        Joey Votto was a catcher and a few years ago everyone wanted him to move to LF for Yonder to be able to play first.

        Mesoraco is a great athlete and he could easily handle playing additional positions when he does not catch so that we keep his bat in the lineup.

        Ah but what do I know… I would have Chapman with 136 innings instead of 36.

        Sheesh, he may not break 50 innings. what a crime to sit talent on a team that is crying for playmakers

    • A) If Pena is healthy I willing to bet that he catches Cuteo’s next start.
      B) Baring injury Kershaw has Cy Young wrapped up and may make a case for MVP.

      Hopefully Reds decide this winter who they are going to keep between Latos and Cuteo and move whichever one they dont this winter.

      • Yeah we can easily slot Holmberg into next year’s rotation to replace either one.

        • Good point. Some of these guys act like good pitching grows on trees. Keep all of our pitchers and reap the draft choice if we have to in 2016. Trading either Latos or Cueto sets our chances back for 2105-

        • I saw the sarcasm font!!
          I agree with @MANUEL. I keep the starters and take the comp pick if I can’t sign them at what I want them to. I was against trading Bailey for the same reason. If you want to be competitive in 2015, you are going to need your starters. They don’t have someone to plug in if they trade a starter. Now, I would actively try to move Broxton (salary and because he’s been pretty good and should fetch a nice return) and would listen on Chapman. Their innings may be easier to replace.

      • In the last decade (20 winners), the lowest innings pitched for a Cy Young winner is 211. Kershaw won’t break 200 after missing 6 starts.

        • I doubt the voters will care about his IP. Baring injuries here on out its Kershaw first then Wainwright and Cuteo a distance third.

        • Agreed. 200 innings is a tacit prerequisite.

          If Johnny leads the league in K’s, IP, and pitches thrown (and is 2nd in most everything else) as is the case now, I think he wins based on his consistency.

    • Hello Kershaw….Sorry Cueto I still love you

  13. From 1972 on, Johnny Bench never started more than 129 games at catcher.

  14. Emotions, people. Mes can’t catch every day. Earlier in the season it seemed that Cueto and Pena just worked better together. Maybe it was the language thing, I dunno. Playing 80% of the time is still the lion’s share, especially when you’ve already had two stints on the DL. Also, while Mes is killing it, it’s not like Pena has been
    innefective in the batter’s box. I have doubted Price’s actions about a lot of decisions, but when it comes to the comfort of his rotation, I have to trust his actions. Of course with Joey out we tend to have both of them in the line up anyway…..unless we get more Hanahan over there. Yuck!

    • Bench started 139, 135, 152, 147, and 147 in his first five full seasons. That’s how he got RoY and two MVPs in that span. Need to play to win. Reds need to find a way to get him in more games.

      • How many of those years was Bench on the DL twice?

      • You have to realize that Bench played in a different era. We are scientifically more aware now when it comes to extending people’s careers efficiently. In order to extend catchers careers, you need to rest them as often as possible. Catching is one of the most physically demanding thing to do in sports so resting as much as possible is absolutely imperative. It is entirely impossible to compare players now to players who played close to 40 years ago. The game has changed incredibly too much to do so.

        • I don’t know if I buy that. Bench played 13 seasons of high demand catching before he had to try to switch to another position. I don’t know if that scientific awareness has done anything to extend career.

          Case and point.. Pitchers used to throw like 250-300 innings. Heck even Randy Johnson threw 240 innings or more seven times in his career. Going back furthur, Cy Young threw over 400 innings 5 times and over 300 innings 16 times.

          Now people throw 180 innings and their elbows explode.

          I don’t think science or medical knowledge has extended anyone’s career.. unless you’re talking about recovering from surgeries I would agree, but otherwise players are more fragile now than they’ve ever been thanks to “science extending their careers”..

    • Of course he needs days off. Nobody’s saying he should catch every game. The point is that all the pitchers should be able to work with Mes because he is an important part of the lineup and the future. To have to sit him down every time one specific pitcher is on the mound is dumb. If the reds were in a one game playoff they would want Cueto pitching, right? So using the personal catcher theory they would then have to sit their best hitter this year on the bench and play a below average hitter in his place with their season on the line. How does that make sense to anyone?
      Then there are the issues it may cause in the clubhouse by allowing a player to make decisions about other player’s playing time. Mes needs days off. But he should always start vs. Lefties and he should be able to catch every pitcher on the staff.

      • No one is saying he cant. But knowing he is not going to catch every game and you know Cuteo is more comfortable with Pena then you go with Pena during the season. Also this idea that it would cause some riff in the club house is a viable concern but I am willing to bet most would be okay if it was best for your ace.

        • So it’s okay because it is your ace? Well what if cueto starts struggling? What if Latos is clearly out pitching him? Do you take Cueto’s personal catcher away and give Latos the personal catcher option? Do you tell Mat that he can have his personal catcher as long as he pitches like an ace? And how do you define and measure an ace? Is it just the team’s best pitcher? Was Elmer Dessens an ace when he was the reds best pitcher back in the dark ages? And it’s not like Meso is chopped liver. He’s an all star and the reds best hitter this year. If the best players get special perks, then he should definitely get some perks too.

        • You have a 24 man roster and 24 different ways of handling players. You dont treat a Matt Latos the same as Cueto and that is how sports are done.

      • The “personal catcher” claim is exaggerated. Cueto’s made 18 starts when Mes wasn’t on the DL and Devin has started 5 of them including the last game before the AS break. So it hardly like they are never a battery because Cueto insists that not be as some here are suggesting.

        • 5 out of 18 is 28%. Meaning that when cueto has pitched the reds have sat their best hitter on the bench 72% of the time. And I’m willing to bet that a couple of those, including today, were days where Pena was just too banged up to play. You don’t think that is a personal catcher?

    • Part of the reason that Bench had an early retirement was because his body had taken such a beating as a catcher. If you want to keep a catcher for the long term he cannot catch 150 games. That is not to say that he should not start taking throws at first or in the OF. It is not beyond thinking that the Reds want him to concentrate on catching and will move to teach him other positions as he gets older. 1b is Votto’s position and Frazier and Pena have ably filled in so there is no real reason to move Mesoraco. Plus, with Cueto feeling comfortable with Pena, why mess with it?

  15. The Blue Jays just won in the 19th on a Bautista hit. They ripped his clothes off, dumped two or three coolers of liquid, many bottles of water and a whip cream pie in the face.

  16. Mes should catch but not every day. He worked fine with Cueto and it was long overdue but Pena and Cueto seem to have a connection so I can’t complain too much. Both our catchers are doing pretty well. I remember Dusty did the same thing with Bronson Arroyo and David Ross.

  17. But if you think about it a little bit doesn’t it make sense that if the Reds do have to rest Mesoraco and take his bat out of the lineup they would do it on a day when our best pitcher is going? Opponents are unlikely to score much against Cueto and the demand on the offense is therefore somewhat lighter.

    • Makes sense to me. It also leaves you with a really nice pinch hitting option if you need it. And as was pointed out earlier, it’s not like Mes NEVER catches JC.

    • Nope, doesn’t make sense. The reds have two above average hitters on their team right now. Two! Doesn’t matter how well you pitch, you cannot win if you don’t score. The reds offense is anemic. Benching one of your only 2 above average hitters because your best pitcher is on the mound just makes it more likely that you will lose 2-1 or 1-0 and waste a great pitching performance. Again, not saying that he should catch every single day. Just saying that deciding when he gets a day off based on what pitcher the reds are throwing is dumb.

      • Yeah the Reds are losing a bunch of games with Cueto pitching, so it’s a really major problem.

        Not sure why Pena doesn’t rate as an above average hitter at this point; his slash line since the AS break is .361/.381/.508.

        • Because that’s a small sample size. He’s not an above average hitter.

        • The Reds are best off (with Votto out) with both Pena and Mes in the lineup. Mes does need days off from catching, and Cueto’s comfortable with Pena, but in the stretch run it would be nice if sometimes Mes catches Cueto and Pena is at first base. I recall one game where that was the case, and Cueto was real comfortable. When things would start to go awry Pena would go over and talk to Cueto, and Johnny seemed happy with that.

        • Cueto has had a number of no-decisions or losses due to lack of offense, he has pitched well enough to have more wins than he does. If Mes is not in the lineup today, he probably gets a loss or an no decision.

      • A number of great pitching performances by Cueto have been wasted, and without Mes in the lineup another one would have probably been wasted today.

    • It does make sense, although yesterday the Reds would have lost without Mes driving in 6 runs.

      • Yes, if you assume nobody but Mes can ever get a hit, we lose yesterday without Mes.

        That is a ridiculous assumption.

        • Ridiculous assumption, I suppose, since changing one historical event will likely have a ripple effect. Not much hitting besides Mes, though, particularly in that game, so would you want to have bet on the recent Reds minus Mes and his dingers?

        • I attended the game. Assuming Barnhart starts in place of Mes, it’s a very safe presumption that the Reds lose the majority of his RBI.

          Ludwick would have bat cleanup and he had an awful day at the plate b/c he couldn’t adjust to the ump’s strike zone. I doubt the Reds win with a lineup featuring only Frazier/Bruce as the power core.

  18. I’ll be very curious to see how the Cy Young voting shakes out……..assuming Kershaw and Cueto keep doing what they’re doing. Kershaw has the publicity and the scoreless innings streak, but where is he going to find 50 more innings pitched to equal what Johnny Beisbol has done? Taking the ball every 5th day matters, I just wonder if the voters will see it that way. IMO, Wainwright and Cueto are the only 2.

    • The Dodger blue whitewashes number deficiency.

    • Kershaw is dominating games and plays in in LA and is a previous winner and had the scoreless inning streak and has won how many in a row on a first place team. The lacking 50 some odd innings wont matter since they occued at the begining of the season. You can argue some of those things should not matter but they will. Add in Wainwrights past and JC is looking at a third place finish.

      • Wow_ you got it all figured out don’t you

        • When it comes to post season awards and “who” does the voting it’s pretty simple. Nothing against JC but he is on a basically .500 team and hasn’t done anything exceptional in his career. Meanwhile you have Kershaw, right now the overall best pitcher in baseball who I believe already has 2 Cy awards, had how long of a scoreless streak this season, has won now I believe 11 or 12 games in a row, plays in LA for I believe the top team in the NL. His numbers outside of innings pitched are either equal to or maybe a tad better then JC, so it’s a real no brainer on this. Don’t like it but it is what it is with thiese awards.

        • Opinions transmuted into facts. Wow.
          (All parenthetical stats are JC, CK)

          Johnny C leads in the important category of IP (179.2, 136.1). To put that in perspective, Johnny’s closest competition needs probably 2 and may be 3 more starts to catch up. Kershaw is 2nd on his own team in this category and would be #5(!) on the Reds. Yes, besides Latos, every Reds pitcher has more innings IP than Kershaw, who is 36th in the NL. This is the biggest disparity between the two candidates overall.

          JC is nipping at Strasburg’s heels for Ks – SS has 186 (181, 164). There has been speculation that Kershaw’s K/9 would let him catch Johnny but we are seeing Kershaw economize with more innings – yesterday both pitched 8 innings but JC fanned 9 to Kershaw’s 6.

          They are tied in shutouts. CG are #1 and #2 in the NL (5,4) are close to a tie. WHIP (.86, .91) and ERA (1.78, 2.05) are the same where they are a clear #1 and #2 then everyone else. In other words, these pitchers are almost identical except for the huge disparity in IP.

      • Cueto’s equal to or better than Wainwright in virtually every stat category this year. If the season ended today, I don’t see how Johnny would finish behind him in Cy Young voting though I think that would be a race for 2nd and Kershaw would win easily.

        • The media has a bias for Wainwright over Cueto. If their stats are at all close, Wainwright gets more votes than Johnny.

    • J Bruce must have read your alligator arm comment overnight because he certainly made up for the bout aa’s Sunday versus Stanton 🙂

      • My guy Jay Bruce doesn’t like the wall very much but man that was a great play yesterday. Loved his smile too. I hope he finishes strongly and 2015 is a better year for him all-around.

  19. Some pitchers really do benefit with having a personal catcher, however, I don’t think that the Reds have a pitcher on the staff that needs one and it is a bit silly to even remotely consider Pena over Mesoraco. I disagree on the days rest thing. The only reason is that we live in the ERA of million dollar contracts and these guys really aren’t going to be playing through pain unless there is no other choice, and as long as the Reds carry two or even three catchers on the roster then they have a choice. Mes is young, he can handle a few nicks and probably needs to go a long stretch of not being rested up. There is also the mentality of keeping a guys knees fresh for the playoffs…. not that I think the Reds will have much of a playoff run mind you but I can understand the decision making process even if I personally disagree with it. Of course my decision making would also include never again starting Ludwick in LF and Cozart at SS. As long as the Reds are near the bottom of the league in offense we can’t afford the luxury of a non hitting SS. We could keep him on as a defensive replacement for late innings though as long as his price continues to be right.

    • Who is hitting so great that would can put them at SS instead of Cozart?

    • Mesoraco has already been on the DL twice this year. Throwing him out every day with no rest is just begging for a season ending injury or, at the least, a serious drop in production because of fatigue and wear and tear. Price is starting him about 80% of the time; that seems about right at this point.

      • Seems like I’ve said this before, but nobody is saying that Mes should catch every game. That is not the issue. The issue is whether the reds should sit their all star catcher and best hitter on the team just because a certain pitcher is starting. It is dumb for so many reasons. Mes should be starting every single time the reds face a left handed starter. That would be around 30% of the time. Against righties they could do like a 70/30 or 60/40 split. That would be somewhere between 110-125 starts for mesoraco. It would also be good to make some of his days off on day games after night games and avoid long stretches without a day off. Assigning the backup to catch one specific pitcher means you can’t leverage Meso to get the most out of him.

        • I think a large portion of it all is about routine. Mangers talk about how players do better with routine and knowing ahead when they will play. Players say the same. This way Peña knows the day he is going to catch; and, Meso knows the day he is going to be off. It also makes sense for the sub to catch the same guy every time because of routine.

          However I agree the hitting splits versus LH and RH pitching for the current Reds catching corp do offer a logical reason to slot Meso versus LH pitching regardless of the Reds starter.

          I believe I have heard Bench express in retrospect the opinion that any given pair of knees probably have (barring traumatic injury) a fixed number of competitive deep knee bends in them regardless of whether they are used at a rate of 140 games a year for a shorter period or 120 games a year for a longer period.

    • Did you see the pounding Mes took Saturday night? I thought it was great that he played but had he needed a day off, I would have understood it.

  20. I was going to post a humorous quote about “maybe Cueto will rethink having Mes in the lineup when he’s pitching”, but I see that it’s the “serious” topic of the night, which makes sense. I’d say as pretty much everyone has that Mes needs his rest but sometimes Cueto could pitch to him with Pena providing support from nearby at first base. That has worked this season.

    Without Votto, the Reds need both Mes and Pena in the lineup as often as possible in the lineup from this point on, with the usual constraint that they need some games off to be effective.

    Cueto is great, my favorite pitcher, but the idea that some have suggested that he doesn’t need run support is just flat out wrong. Cueto himself has said that run support makes him a better pitcher, more willing to challenge hitters.

    • PS The difference between Mes’ and Pena’s offensive production is heightened when a LHed pitcher is pitching. And for some reason, Cueto keeps facing lefties.

    • No one suggested Cueto “doesn’t need run support”. What was stated was that IF you have to sit one of your better hitters, it’s less damaging to the chances of the team winning if you do it when your best pitcher is starting.

      I fail to see what is even objectionable in such an observation except to the “Mes must play every single day” crowd.

    • Mesoraco has started behind the plate 5 times in Cueto’s 25 starts. For those 5 games, Mes is hitting .375/.500/.938 (3 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 4 R, and 7 RBI). True, yesterdays performance enhanced those numbers somewhat, but even if you ignore those he is still hitting .333/.500/.583 in the other 4 games. I believe if I am Cueto I start lobbying for Mes to be in the lineup. With Votto out, the Reds best offensive lineup has Pena at first and Mesoraco behind the plate. Everytime Cueto pitches, the Reds can come as close as they can get to a guaranteed win if they put their best team on the field to back him up.

  21. I wasn’t able to watch the game, but tuned in via Gameday in the 5th. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out and the big guys coming up, I felt it would probably be the key inning of the game (as the 3rd inning rally fizzling was on Saturday). I had a sinking feeling when Bruce chased a breaking pitch in the dirt, but then he laid off a couple of those, drawing a walk, to set up the heroics by Frazier and Mes.

    I just read that Price called Bruce’s laying off those pitches and drawing the walk the turning point of the game. (Turning point only of course because Frazier and Mes came thru, but well … they did.)

  22. PS When Bruce chased the curveball in the dirt, the count went to 1-2. Then he laid off two more in the dirt, fouled off a curveball, and drew the walk. Good stuff.

  23. This writer on SI.com lists Cueto as the top choice for NL Cy Young award at this point of the season. Although he does state that Kershaw’s numbers are better and that he will probably close the disparity in innings pitched over the last 2 months of the season. At the time the article appeared, Cueto had pitched 1/3 more innings than Kershaw.

    http://www.si.com/mlb/2014/08/07/awards-watch-cy-young-johnny-cueto-felix-hernandez-clayton-kershaw

  24. No, Steve, Sparky would not likely have sat Bench every 5th day. On the other hand, how many years was Johnny physically able to catch every day? Catching is a tough position, even without the collisions, and giving a good catcher regular rest makes lots of sense, although I certainly agree that the batting order looks much better with Mes than it does without him.

  25. OPS
    Mes – .945
    Frazier – .800
    Votto – .799
    Negron – .725
    Pena – .710

    It is borderline criminal to advocate Mes sitting every fifth game.

    • Play him every single game and he will soon be sitting EVERY game. He’s already been on the DL twice this year.

      • That is poor logic.

        • How is that poor logic? Looks like a recognition of the reality of catching to me. Having him play other positions when he isn’t catching might work if he played other positions, but there is little evidence that he can at the mlb level.

      • Where did I say play every game? I simply said advocating he sit 20% is criminal considering his offensive impact and the rest of the team’s lack thereof.

  26. I’m not sure it matters which catcher is out there for Cueto. When your stuff is that good, every catcher will look like they have great synergy with the pitcher.

  27. Mesoraco’s bat should be in the starting lineup 150-155 times a year. Starts behind the plate should be in the 125-130 range. There are only 9 away interleague games where he could possibly be the DH. So, I think they will have to buy Mesoraco a left fielder’s glove or a first baseman’s mitt. If Pena can transition to 1B like he has, the more athletic Mesoraco should be able to also. I can understand why they didn’t do that this year being Mesoraco’s first year as the full time C. They didn’t want to put too much on his plate that could detract from his C duties. But next year or two years down the road, they will need think of how they can maximize his at-bats.

    • Pena had played some 1B in the minors; Mes never has.

      Mes’ batting wasn’t anything to crow about before this year; we’ll have to see if he can continue to hit like this or reverts back to something between 2013 and 2014 (as seems likely). It’s a bit premature to anoint him the next Johnny Bench based on 309 PAs in a single year when in his 589 prior PAs he had batted .225 with 16 HRs. True he’s improved a bit every year and true this is the first year he’s been appointed the starting catcher, but expecting Bench or better numbers from him from here on out seems a bit optimistic.

      • You act like Mesoraco came out of nowhere and nobody expected him to hit. He was a first round draft pick out of hs and a top 20 prospect at the start of 2012. He struggled in his first year and a half in the minors, but he had a breakout year in 2010.
        Without looking the stats up, I think he hit 26 hr that year in less than 400 ab over 3 different levels and hit around 300. The next year, he was really solid in aaa. He started 2012 in the majors. The reds decided it would be a good idea to call up their top prospect, and one of the top 20 in all of baseball, and have him play once or twice a week. No other team in baseball does that. Predictably, he struggled with such sparse playing time. What’s frustrating is that just wasted a year of team control, and now mes will be arb eligible after this year (I think, didn’t fact check). But he’s only 26 and catchers are thought to take a little more time to be mlb ready at the plate because they have so much to learn defensively. I don’t think we should expect him to put up a wRC in the 160 range, like he has this year, all the time. But I think he could be in the 130-140 range in most years and around 110 in a down year.

        • I made no such claim. I said, and you agree, that’s it likely that Meso will revert to something between 2013 numbers and 2014 numbers. Mes had a decent year in 2011 AAA with 15 HRs in 499 PA and a .855 OPS, but those are noticeably inferior to what he has put up this year.

          The Reds then called him up in September 2011 and far from playing him “once or twice a week” started him in the majority of games from September 3rd on: 13 GS of 24 played. He was being auditioned for the bigs since it seemed obvious Hernandez was not going to be re-signed. He struggled but not due to lack of consistent playing time.

          His numbers before this year were unimpressive and last year he started more than half the Reds’ games and had more PAs than he has had this year. A regression is highly probable and would be even more probable and likely severe if he played more than he does.

  28. What is the skuttlebutt on Cingrani? I haven’t heard anything about him for weeks now. Is he still on the DL at Louisville? The AAA season ends in 3 weeks. Are they going to shelve him for the year? They need to get Cingrani on the Homer Bailey winter workout program. Cingrani needs to get bigger and stronger the way Bailey had transformed himself from 2011 to 2012. It would do Cingrani and the Reds alot of good for him to bulk up some and get stronger just like Bailey. Cingrani seems to be going through the same shoulder inflamation problems that Bailey used to have before he got stronger.

    • The Reds have been awful quiet about him, which makes you wonder how sever the injury might be.

  29. I wonder if we can all agree on this:

    1) If we make it to the playoffs, and Cueto is pitching, Mesoraco should be the catcher.

    2) If we are facing a LHP, Mesoraco should be the catcher regardless of who is pitching for us. Unless he caught 17 innings the night before

  30. 1) Depends. Assuming Votto is back and the choice is between Mes and Pena, Mes would be the presumptive choice but what if he’s slumping and Pena is hot?

    I know someone is going to quote year long OPS, but the fact remains that players do go into slumps and get into hot streaks. If Mes hits .200 in September and Pena stays hot like he is, why would it be an automatic that Mes catches Cueto?

    • Because what a player has done in the past week or two weeks has no correlation to what they will do the next game. Even if Pena is 10 for his last 18 with 3 hr and Mes is in a 0-17 stretch, Mes would still be the best choice because he is a far better hitter. The reason is that hot and cold streaks are often just random variation and luck. Plus, you can never know when a streak is going to end. There have been a few studies I have seen about this, and they all show that hot and cold streaks have no predictive value .

      • The “luck” claim again! What baloney.

        The idea that hot and cold streaks are mostly attributable to “luck” is daffy. Human beings are playing not statistical models. Anyone who watches baseball knows that sometimes guys are just hitting the ball well (as Pena is doing for the last month; I’d like to know what his line drive rate is but I guess it’s “luck” to hit a ;LD) and sometimes they are struggling for whatever reason.

        If one guy hits better than another guy for two months, how is he not “the better hitter”? Because you say that if Guy A hits better than Guy B he’s a better hitter, but if Guy B hits better than Guy A its “just random variation and luck”? Absurd.

        • I never said all streaks were luck. Obviously, there are certain times when a guy is seeing the ball really well or really poorly. But there are also times where a guy is hitting the ball well and it just seems to always find a glove. Or a guy has a stretch where it seems like every ground ball or blooper he hits finds a hole. Luck, or random variation if you will, plays a huge part in the numbers in baseball over small sample sizes, which is what we are talking about when we talk about streaks. You can whine about it all you want, but it’s not debatable.
          Mesoraco has a wRC+ of 161. Pena is at 95. Meaning Meso has been 61% more productive than the average hitter, while Pena has been 5% worse than average. Meso had had a higher wRC+ in every month of the season than Pena has, except August, where Pena is at 179 and devin at 142. But Pena only has 19 pa in August, so very small sample size. They have both been good this month, but Meso is much more likely to be better going forward. As for the line drive rate, they both have a high LD% this month.

        • The line drive rate this month is Pena 36% and Meso 32%. That was supposed to be in my post above.

  31. For all those saying that Mes to 1B is a no-brainer simply b/c he is “athletic” keep in mind that the more athletic and Gold Glove caliber Todd Frazier has struggled to do just that, making 5 errors in 20 games at 1B this season. (The more athletic Jay Bruce also had 2 errors in 3 games.)

    These are small sample sizes but the point is that this experiment is better left for spring training to see if he can actually pull it off. Heck, for all we know, management has given it a try and has not liked what they saw, or perhaps they want Mes to focus on his catching/game calling before distracting him with learning another position.

  32. IF Meso is being more productive than Pena when the playoffs start, then he should get the nod when Cueto starts. IF Pena continues to have an OPS of .889 over the entire 2nd half and Meso regresses some, then Pena should.

    It’s interesting that all Meso’s struggles before this year must be ignored in these discussions and we have to assume that he will hit like Johnny Bench the rest of the year. That’s unrealistic.

    • Over what period of time: the week before the playoffs start? The day? Alternating Tuesdays? Do you throw out season or career numbers for every player, or just the catchers? (“Hannahan got 2 hits playing 3B in the last game of the season, and Frazier went hitless two days before the end of the season: start Hannahan in the playoffs!”)

      If they’re both healthy down the stretch, Mesoraco should get the start even if Cueto is pitching. Period. And if the other team is starting a LHP, it’s Exclamation Point instead of Period.

      • People here seem more than willing to throw out all of Mes’ numbers before this year, don’t they?

        I think I mentioned far longer periods for example IF Meso hits .200 in September and Pena keeps hitting like he has since the All-Star break.

        With a LHP, sure. With a RHP, see above..

        • The smaller the sample size the greater the likelihood of a return to the mean.

          You seem awfully willing to throw out Pena’s career numbers in exchange for his 3-4 game hot streak of August. The fact is Devin may hit more homers this season than Pena has in his entire career (25). Devin’s OPS in his final two minor league seasons, ages 21 and 22, were .964 and .855. That he is putting it all together is less fantastic then Pena having even a full month better than Mes at the plate.

  33. Only if his luck holds.

  34. Can Meso sustain a .330 BABIP all year plus 17.1% of flyballs go for HRs? Those would be alarm points when the sabermetricians talk about anyone else.

    • He is top 10 in the majors when it comes to “hitting the ball hard,” which means that those statistics might not reflect pure luck.

      • I don’t think they reflect “luck”. I do think that they are so much above what he has achieved before that they you can expect some regression.

        17.1% FB/HR is from baseballreference.com; Fangraphs has him at 23.3% only Abreu, Springer and Stanton are higher of those with 300 PAs. And last year Mesoraco had a .264 BABIP and a 10% FB/HR in 352 PAs (he has 309 PA so far in 2014).

        I would be thrilled if Devin continues at the pace he is on so far; I just don’t think it is realistic to believe he will. Then again, Pena might also regress though his numbers are similar to 2013.

        • I agree that Devin’s percentages will probably never be better than right now. However, he is simply a better offensive player with a much higher ceiling than Pena.

          Last year was his first “full” season as a catcher (appearing in only 63% of the games) with a disappointing output (.647 OPS) that is right in line with Pena’s career average. So yeah, both players may regress (especially that Pena has played far more than last year and is 34) but don’t look for Pena to be a better or even comparable option of Mes anytime soon.

    • .330 isn’t really insane. It’s above aberage by 10% (using .300 as our normal BABIP basis). However, some players (due to their batted ball profiles) outperform. One Mr. Votto is an example.

      .330 is maintainable for some. Maybe not for Mesoraco, but we shouldn’t act like his season is crazy lucky. It’s slightly lucky, but maybe not if he turns out to be the type of line drive and homerun hitter he’s showing us.

      Keep in mind this is the first time he’s getting regular playing time. AND young players can get better. Using last season’s stats is pretty worthless in this case.

  35. Pena has a higher OPS than Mesoraco since the AS break even with Meso’s two HRs yesterday. So it’s not very far fetched to believe he might outproduce Mes for a month, Grand Salami.

    Devin’s OPS’ in the minors three years ago seem more important to you than what Pena is doing for the last month. I find that a little odd. For the record, Pena had a better OPS than Mesoraco in 2013.

    • Ramon Santiago might outproduce Hank Aaron in a month.

      Really irrelevant.

    • And about comparing Pena and Mesoraco in 2013:

      Meso is a young player getting regular playing time for the first time in his career. His career is trending up. Pena is a veteran with an established ceiling whose career is trending down.

      Mesoraco is the better option at the plate from now until forever over Brayan Pena. There’s absolutely no logical way to argue otherwise. “Since the ASB” types of stats are utterly worthless.

      • Pena’s getting more playing time than he ever did. The stats hardly support the claim that his “career is trending down”. Mesoraco got more than half the starts at C last year and had more PAs in 2013 than he has had this year. If you want to talk career for Pena, than you have to talk career for Mesoraco.

        Anyway my point was only that if Mesoraco doesn’t hit well in September and Pena does and if the Reds are facing a RHP in a playoff game with Cueto on the mound, Pena would be a legit choice to start. You claiming that there’s “no logical way to argue otherwise” isn’t a refutation of my arguments.

  36. BTW, Brayan Pena is 32 years old, not 34.

  37. You know what I find mildly amusing here? Modern stat guys are using the best catcher in history from a different era with an old school manager to attempt to guage how many games Devin should be starting.

    Let’s try a little more modern and more earthly comparison: Jorge Posada. Would anyone be disappointed if our dear Devin, who also started his career at age 23 had a career that paralled the “Yankee Iron Man” behind the plate? Nope, didn’t think so. Number of seasons PPosada started more than 140 games in his career: one. He did have seasons where he played a dozen games at first, and of course a lot of DH, which obviously isn’t the option here. He did start behind the dish I think 6 seasons with over 130, but only one time at 140. And he is known for his durability. 130 is rare, and 140 just isn’t going to happen.

    • I like to use Y. Molina as a guide too. Molina is has been used more than any catcher in the NL the past few seasons. His starts behind the plate have gone: 136, 130, 131, 133, 128. He’s made 3 career starts at 1B as well. His 136 starts in 2009, which is a huge amount of games for a catcher, represent 84% of the team’s starts.

      Lucroy is another good comp for this year. He’s started 98 games behind the plate and 8 at 1B. That’s 82% of his team’s games behind the plate. The 8 starts at first have definitely added value at the plate but he was replaced in 3 of them for defensive reasons.

      So basically, having Mes catch 80% of games seems pretty realistic to me. He could add some value if he played 1B some on games he didn’t catch but I don’t know if I do that to a guy who’s the primary catcher for the first time in his young career. If he had another year or two in, then maybe I would have him at 1B more, especially when Votto was out. I don’t like the LF idea at all because there’s just too much running in LF to really give the knees a rest. I have little doubt he could play LF, but it isn’t enough of a break from catching in my opinion.

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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.

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