Billy Hamilton’s shoulder injury resurfaced last night and he was pulled from the game. He could be out for the rest of the 2015 season. Hamilton injured the shoulder on August 18 trying to make a diving catch. He was placed on the DL (sprained shoulder capsule) the following day.

“I’m worried about it; that’s why I told them I was hurting,” Hamilton said. “I hate coming out of a game so I really tried to battle through it as long as I could. It got to the point where it was bad and I didn’t want to hurt it any worse. I hope it gets better. It still hurts me. We’ll see where it goes from here.” (Sheldon)

Hamilton dealt with finger and wrist injuries earlier in the year. If the Reds center fielder is done for the year, he will have played in 113 games, missing roughly one-third of the season. Is Hamilton injury-prone? If so, it is based on his game (diving in the outfield, sliding head first), his slight frame, or just bad luck?

The two errors committed by Eugenio Suarez last night led to two unearned runs in the Reds 5-3 loss. They bring his total number of errors in 2015 to 17. Zack Cozart committed 3 errors this year. The advanced defensive metrics (defensive runs saved, ultimate zone rating etc.) also show a clear advantage for Cozart over Suarez. Suarez has hit better than Cozart this year, but not by a wide amount (wRC+ of 109 compared to 104 for Cozart). Suarez has a career wRC+ of 99 while Cozart is a much worse 78. I don’t have a good answer for what the Reds should do about shortstop next year (although I don’t like the idea of moving Suarez to LF). But I do have one more stat to share: Cozart 30, Suarez 24. Those are the two players’ respective ages.

Our leader is nothing if not fearless. Chad makes a case for not firing Bryan Price.

“If the Reds could get Joe Maddon to take over the club, I’d be okay with that. But Joe or Sparky aren’t walking through that door, and I really don’t think we have enough data on Price to say that he’s incapable of handling the job. With all the roster shenanigans and injury problems, it simply comes down to my belief that Price hasn’t been given a fair shake over the last two years. And I think there’s a good argument to be made that he’s done pretty well, considering all the roadblocks that have been placed before him.”

 If you can stomach it, check out the nearly identical second half struggles of Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier (since July 1):

  • Bruce: .227/.269/.433  wRC+ 81
  • Frazier: .225/.265/.391  wRC+ 71

Both players are under team control through 2017. Neither should be considered untradeable and neither should receive a pricey long-term contract extension.

To finish with a pleasant image: The Cardinals blowing the NL Central division race.

“That cushion’s gone, though, and the possibility of having to play in the dreaded one-game wild-card is suddenly a way-too-close reality for the team that’s owned the best record in baseball for most of the season.”

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! 39 Comments

  1. St. Louis’s is collapsing like a house of Cards. Good show.
    Suarez = 2B. BP has regained some tradeable value.
    Price to stay in 2016. No sense paying another manager not to manage again.
    A new CF/leadoff hitter this winter wouldn’t hurt with BHam going to the bench. If shoulder surgery is in his future, then this becomes a higher priority than it already is.

    • I could see all of that. I still think Suarez can be a MLB SS but it’s possible that maybe he isn’t. There are a lot of SS that have come up and made errors early in their careers only to be very good later in their careers. Of course, there have been more than a few that started inconsistently or were just plain bad and they ended up just plain bad.

  2. The answer to the middle infield to me comes down to Cozart’s health.

    If the Reds management is confident that Zack will come back healthy and able to play defense like he always has, then they should try all they can to trade BP. This would leave you with Cozart at SS and Suarez at 2B with DeJesus able to back up both positions. Even if Phillips is traded for a salary dump, without getting much in return, the money saved could be used to sign a free-agent outfielder like Gerardo Parra or Dexter Folwer.

    If they are unsure about Cozart’s health then you keep Phillips, and get Suarez enough at bats by backing up 2B, SS and 3B. To have any chance at a decent offense next year, in my opinion, a player who can hit at the top of the order with good obp and play all 3 outfield positions would still need to be found.

    • Why would you still keep BP. You not competing even if he is still on roster.

      • I’d keep Phillips for a few reasons.
        1. He’s still providing value in relation to his contract.
        2. Solid defense up the middle could be important with a rotation full of young pitchers.
        3. One of the major problems with this team is lack of depth on the bench. If Cozart is not healthy enough to play and you trade BP then Suarez and DeJesus are your starting 2B and SS with ? on the bench.
        4. Reds are not likely to get much in return for trading Phillips.

        I know we are not likely to compete in 2016 either way, but in the case of Cozart not being healthy enough to play defense at SS like he used to, keeping BP gives us the best chance.

        With the lack of major-league-ready prospects in our farm system trading BP would mean filling that spot with a scrap-heap free agent. If we’re not going to be competitive I’d rather watch BP than someone like Skip Schumaker.

  3. I personally am not a fan of our current manager.One could argue either way as to why he should stay and go.All of us that visit this site could list a bunch of reasons for him to stay or go and debate it forever.My personal opinion is based on the fact that he is a terrible in game manager.His moves or lack off moves through out the game are ridiculous and he doesn’t manage to win the game.

    • I do tend to agree that he manages like Dusty with managing for tomorrow more than for today. This has never made sense to me. Is this an old school way of managing or is just something Dusty did that Price picked up on?

      • I think most managers do it to some degree. I do think that Price and Baker before him tend to do it or seem to do it more often than other managers. Of course, with as much baseball as I watch, the team I watch the most is still the Reds. Therefore, it is quite possible that it’s my perception that’s in error and that Price is no worse than any other manager in this regard. The big knock I had with Baker, and really the only big issue I really had with Baker was he seemed to manage the same way in the post-season and in important divisional games.

        • This was my issue as well. It’s hard to be objective or have a sense of what other teams are doing when the Reds are the team I watch the most.

        • Very Much agree re:Dusty. You don’t do as well as he did over the “big 162” as many times as he he did just by coincidence. . He always liked to harken back to his Marine days. Somebody should have taken him to task about his failure to maintain good situational awareness.

  4. Suarez right now is already a pretty good hitter and will only continue to get better with time. He needs at bats and for his manager to have confidence in him by not putting him in a lineup hitting behind the likes of Skip and Bourgeois. This I don’t understand. I don’t think he’s a future leadoff hitter but why not hit him 1 or 2 for the rest of the season? He’s hitting better than any of the other options not named Votto. There’s no reason he should ever be stuck hitting 7th while Skip hits leadoff. He’s outperformed these guys and deserves a chance to hit higher in the order. Just my rant for the day.

  5. I really don’t know what additional data Chad thinks we need to evaluate Price that more time would give us. His in-game moves are stale, and he’s already had trouble with the media. More time will give us more of the same.

    • With the team’s biggest opportunity for improvement being the starting pitching staff – Iglesias, DeSclafani, Lorenzen, Lamb, Stephenson, and others – the expert pitching coach seems like the logical fit. More time with Price as manager gives those vital assets… more time with Price. Price was hired based on his expertise at working with pitchers, so ditching him right when their need for that is at its highest point ever (40+ consecutive games now started by rookies) would be an odd time to ditch him.

      It’s a question of what positive effects he could have, not whether or not his in-game moves are stale.

      One could argue that hitting should be the priority, but firing Price won’t bring in new hitters.

      • The starting pitchers represent the team’s biggest opportunity for INTERNAL improvement, I should say. As in aside from bringing in players from outside the organization.

      • I completely agree with this argument for keeping Price around one more year. It seems to generally be agreed that Price is/was a very good pitching coach that helped develop Cueto, Bailey, etc. I’d give him one more year with the understanding I want him to really develop those young pitchers.

        I’ve never been convinced that the strategic decisions we all scratch our heads about, particularly in terms of player roles, is really because Price thinks that’s the way it should be done, or if he’s trying to please his boss, Jocketty, who thinks that way. i.e. Jocketty gets Gregg and tells Price this is your eighth inning guy, so Price uses him that way, whether he really thinks that’s the best thing to do or not. I know ultimately the manager is responsible for those decisions, but he’s not worried about pleasing the fans as much as he’s worried about doing what his boss wants him to do.

  6. In my view it doesn’t make a lot of sense for yesterday’s general manager to hire tomorrow’s field manager. Bring in a new gm who will hire the new fm.

    • Agree. The only real “defense” of Price I see, outside of injuries, is moving Joey Bats to 2 hole. His bullpen management is so egregious it makes me wonder if Dusty really called the shots previously??? I am not a fan of batting Hamilton at bottom. If he’s to be your Leadoff hitter, let him learn to hit in this wasted season.

      Agree with WVRedLegs that Suarez to 2nd and BP out or off the bench is good move. And it’s September 15, 2015 and we are STILL talking about regular Left Fielder for past 7 years….

      Let’s just start over at top and let them shape the Big Red Machine redux

  7. Chad’s article regarding Price is well stated, but I think the Reds need a reworking in the front office and field management. If we can’t get a complete housecleaning there, then at least a change in management is needed. Price seems to be over his head especially in the management of the bullpen since the departure of Gregg and Marquis. A new manager with Ted Power as the pitching coach will set a different tone for 2016.

  8. The RLN staff re-tweeted this article. Very nice conclusion. RE24? GameRE24? I just getting used to wRC+.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/whats-a-most-valuable-player/

  9. General question … does Billy’s playing time (assuming he’s done) make him eligible for a Gold Glove?

    I for one think he had a couple of unfortunate mishaps, but his slight frame certainly doesn’t help minimize those. That’s just the nature of the game with a guy like that. I still like him and would prefer to see him go completely RH’d next year.

    • If it is a risk that Billy is injury prone given his build and the way he plays then I sure hope the Reds are looking at a decent 4th OF that can play CF because they will ultimately get to play quite a bit. I’m of the idea that there is still time for Billy to figure it out and hit but it seems that the window for that time will be closing in the next year or so unless the rest of the team is full of world beaters. I agree that him going all RH may help but that’s just another year that he will be given time to see if he can hit or not. I really like Hamilton and the speed and defense. I hope he gets it but I’m not optimistic he will.

      • It may be a big challenge for him to hit RH against RHP in the big leagues without experience on the professional level.

  10. Price may or may not be a good manager….I have no idea. To be fair, I think it’s reasonable to point out that Joe Torre had 10 losing records his first 15 seasons….Jim Leyland 9 of his first 15 …..and Bruce Bochey 9 of 15. They managed bad teams and their handling of the bullpen didn’t matter.

    Sparkey Anderson once won 108 with 4 HOF players…..and lost 104 with Tracy Jones and Doyle Akexander.
    Dave Miley was able to win 76 games with Ryan Freel as his 3rd best player and is regarded as a clown….Joe Girardi has been given 2 billion in payroll during his tenure and is regarded as good.

    Why would anyone think Price’s replacement will be some sort of Eureka manager?

    • All Brian Price needs to do is use WAR, wOBA, and wRC+ in a sentence and tide of criticism will turn…and stop asking position players to bunt.

    • It’s one thing to be a losing manager, but it’s quite another to lose like Price. The F-Bomb tirade, the milquetoastness in every other aspect of the game, the bullpen, and the insistence of playing Skip…

      I don’t like him. I suppose that colors my view. But regardless of how good the Reds will be next year, you want the best person to manage them. I don’t think that’s Price.

    • Add Casey Stengel to that group: 8 of his first 9 seasons as a manager were below .500 and one barely above. Then he took over the Yankees and apparently became a genius and HOF manager.

    • Is it really that hard to lose 104 with Tracy Jones? 🙂

  11. Steve, you say you would not like moving Suarez to left field. I am curious as to which kind of hitter you (or other readers of this blog) want for left field. Should the primary focus be power or OBP? If the Reds continue with Hamilton in center I really think we need a high OBP to hit lead off. I fantasize about having a Shin Soo Choo prime playing left and hitting in front of Votto.

    • I’ve got a presumption against position switches as solutions, especially moving between infield and outfield. If the team needs a LF, get a LF. Don’t try to shoehorn one player into another position. This is not an absolute rule, it’s a presumption. Position changes can work. But I don’t like them at the long-term planning stage when there is sufficient time/flexibility to avoid it. I’m more OK with it as a short-term response to emergency.

      I’m not totally sold on Suarez’s bat. We’re still dealing with a lot of small sample sizes: His minor league career, when he was good for the Tigers, when he was bad for the Tigers, this year for the Reds. All small samples. His age is positive.

      Suarez’s wRC+ is 109. That’s strong for a SS, but not for a corner OF.

      A player like Shin-Soo Choo, with on-base skills (walk-rate) and power would be ideal. It’s not so much OBP *or* ISO, it’s finding hitters with high run-creation ability. The problem with hitters like Marlon Byrd is their power is mostly cancelled out by their inability to get on base.

      A huge part of what to do about next year depends on Zack Cozart’s health. I don’t know when the Reds will get a good read on that, one way or another, in relation to the offseason trading window.

      I’m not against giving Suarez the SS job, even ahead of Cozart who could become an excellent veteran UT infielder. I’m just also not in the OMG Suarez’s bat camp yet either.

      • Steve,

        I’ve seen it mentioned here and there that Cozart should be moved to the bench. Here are my concerns: He’s proven to be a (well) below average offensive player with poor plate discipline, so not really a guy you’d pick off the bench to PH. He’s not played anywhere other than SS for the Reds. In fact he hasn’t played any other position as a professional other than 11 games at 2B, and none since 2009 AFL. So he doesn’t off positional flexibility. He’s also going to enter into his 2nd year of ARB. Even with just half a years worth playing, because it was a good half, he should be due for a raise. He’s making 2.35 million this year. It’s reasonable for that to exceed 3m/yr. That’s pricy for a no-bat all-glove back up SS.

        Haven’t the Reds gone down this road before with no-bat all-glove back up SS’s? And those guys played other positions.

        If Suarez is to be the SS moving forward, shouldn’t Cozart be a prime candidate for a non-tender?

        • Did you miss the fine offensive season Cozart was having until he got hurt? You’re arguing like he might regress… what if he doesn’t? I think you’d want to enter 2016 with many options at SS.

        • No, I’m not forgetting the very good month and a half that Cozart had to start the year. I’m suggesting that it is an extremely small sample size and that he was bound for a regression. In fact we were already seeing it. On May 17th Cozart was slashing a very good 300/358/525. Over the course of the next 19 games, Cozart was slashing 258/310/459. Still a vast improvement over the previous year where he was the worst offensive everyday player in the league, but still a pretty steep regression. And I believe the best case scenario, given Cozart’s history, is that those numbers stabilized somewhere near that line. Of course that’s optimistic considering he’s never had an OBP above 288 in a full season.

          So, you are correct, I am arguing like he will regress. Not necessarily from his 2014 season, but from the 53 games (or 1/3 a year) of playing good ball. We were already seeing a regression to the mean. All of his offensive numbers across the board in 2015 are better than his career stats. He’s going into his age-30 season coming off a major injury. There is no evidence to suggest he will improve over his career norms, and plenty of information to suggest he is what his numbers say he is.

          And to answer your other statement about Negron, this is not an apples to apples comparison.

          Negron slashed 271/331/479 with a 125 OPS+ in 49 G and 158 PA. If there is a more apt comparison to be made it would be to Cozart’s fast start to 2015 and not Suarez’ sustained production. Cozart and Negron are closer in age (he was 28 in 2014, Cozart was 29 at the beginning of 2015) and in sample size (Cozart 53 games, 214 PA in 2015).

          Comparing Cozart and Suarez side by side in their overlapping time in MLB we see:

          Cozart: 200 G 757 PA 231/280/344 line with 73 OPS+ (2014-15)
          Suarez 165 G 606 PA 265/319/404 line with a 99 OPS+ (2014-15)

          Where Suarez is right about league average as a 22/23 year old getting his first taste of the big leagues, Cozart is 27% worse than league average over the same time as a 28/29 year old (in his prime).

          To me, it’s clear who I’m hitching my future to, which is what the next few incarnations of the Reds will be about, the future. Cozart will be an expensive bench piece likely falling between 3-4million next year. Considering the poor offensive numbers, the lack of positional flexibility, and the fact that he’s coming off a major injury, I believe this makes him prime for a non-tender. There is no reason the Cincinnati Reds should pay that amount of money for a back-up SS when DeJesus is available at league minimum. If he can be traded, then make the trade. But it’s unlikely that many teams will be interested in him until he proves healthy. He won’t be able to do that until the spring, at which point he’d have already been tendered, possibly making it harder to trade him.

          This isn’t Cozart hate, I don’t have anything against him and I appreciate his defensive wizardry. It’s just a rational look at the numbers and what suits the Reds team needs best.

      • Please do not let Suarez become the next Kris Negron. Hoping Eugenio is much more than a flash in the pan.

      • I hope you are in the “OMG, Suarez has had a ridiculous breakthrough year” in which he literally provided wins above replacement…… Yes, his sample size is small….but so was Zack Cozart’s April and May. Let’s not forget Cozart, prior to this year, regularly approached Billy Hamilton offensive futility. Let’s also not forget the up/down Jay Bruce career which seems to be spiraling and the Todd Frazier bipolar season. I’m certain Frazier will hit around .260 next year with solid defense and give the Reds a power bat…..but I’m also certain I cant tell you which day or which week or which month you can count on it…..Other than Votto, who would you want at the plate right now in a late inning situation with the game tied more than Suarez? I think we are in a new era in baseball. A decade ago, it was young pitching….now its find someone….anyone…..who can consistently hit and get on base and create runs…..Their aren’t many of them and Suarez seems to have that confidence and moxie to get it done.

        • Old-School I’d agree but isn’t this the $64M question? Is it breakthrough or a one season uptick like Cozart. I’m still not convinced MEZ’s 2014 season wasn’t a one season uptick…we really don’t know. Lot of one year wonders in BB. I hope Suarez isn’t one and Cozart comes back as he was this year & move out DatDude and play Suarez at 2B. Just a thought.

  12. I feel if Cosart returns at any where close to where he was defensively then he has to play.I also feel Suarez needs to play as well but where does he play?He is young and that too me means he probably will get better at the plate and in the field but we will see.

  13. “A huge part of what to do about next year depends on Zack Cozart’s health.I don’t know when the Reds will get a good read on that, one way or another, in relation to the offseason trading window.”

    They will NEVER get a good read on his health. These doctors could not diagnose and treat a cold. Look, another injury – Hamilton – that is a re-injury. Why is he playing out there if there was a chance of the injury flaring up again? It’s ridiculous. This young man is such a unique talent that he should be able to rehab until he is completely healthy.

    On a team that has had so many injuries, you’d think the Reds would learn to be cautious. Nope.

    Look in Miami, where Giancarlo Stanton has been rehabbing an injury, and the Marlins are being extremely careful, and not pushing him to come back. There’s no need – their season is lost. Why is this not happening with Hamilton?

    Fire Walt, Fire Price, and Fire the doctors and training staff. Bah.

  14. Price deserves another year. The quality of the roster is the problem. Price will get not be retained after next season as the roster will not be better. My guess is Cozart returns to mediocre. Suarez plays 100 games between SS and 2B next season. In 2017 Reds still do not know who are the long term players at 2B, SS, LF, CF, RF or catcher. Frazier could be signed to a multi-year deal but it will be a close call for all concerned. Will Mesoraco be able to catch and who is the real Devin….the Apr-Jun 2014 or Jul-Sep 2014 guy? Is Pitching is mystery until proven otherwise. Hopefully Votto stays healthy. There are many holes on this roster. The least of the Reds problems is Price.

    • Disagree that the least of Reds problems is Price. He cannot manage a bullpen, has irreversibly damaged his relationship with the media, embraces the sacrifice bunt, and prefers washed up veterans playing instead of young players with potential.

      No amount of players returning to health can hide those flaws.

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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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