[Cutting this list down to 10 was more difficult than yesterday’s list.]

#10 – Billy Hamilton’s worsening struggles at the plate

Billy Hamilton’s 2015 batting (.226/.274/.289) was even worse than his dreadful 2014. He had the fourth-lowest OBP in the majors, the second-lowest isolated power and the second-lowest contribution to runs scored. The Reds still gave him more than 200 plate appearances leading off, since they hadn’t come up with an alternative in the off-season.

billy-hamilton-fe

#9 – Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg, Brennan Boesch, Chris Dominguez 

This point represents the pitiful – yet predictable – performance of the new players added to the roster out of spring training from minor league contracts. Based on little more than a handful of innings in Goodyear and saves from a few years ago, Kevin Gregg was given the 8th inning pitching role. That’s the bullpen’s second most important job. He was DFA’d after 11 appearances with an ERA of 10.13. Jason Marquis was a former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher for Walt Jocketty. He was given a job in the starting rotation. After 9 starts, he was released with an ERA of 6.46. Brennan Boesch (.146/.191/.202) bombed as the Reds fourth OF and was demoted mid-season. Yes, that’s a lower isolated power than Billy Hamilton. Chris Dominguez had three pinch hit attempts (all strike outs) in April before being sent to AAA Louisville. Collectively, this represented horrible judgment on the part of the Reds front office.

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#8 – Bryan Price’s profane outburst

Bryan Price’s ugly six-plus minute tirade directed toward Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans, was unprofessional and vulgar. His defiant, tone-deaf apology/non-apology afterward was even more concerning. While Price’s frustration at having learned of the impending losses of Devin Mesoraco and Homer Bailey is understandable, the incident proved to be a national embarrassment to the organization. Between that and the team’s performance, it’s a wonder Price kept his job. If the Reds had any ambitions for 2016, he probably wouldn’t.

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#7 – Zack Cozart’s season-ending knee injury

Zack Cozart tore the ligaments and a tendon in his right knee on June 10 in Philadelphia. In the first inning, Cozart hit a ball deep to the hole at shortstop and when he lunged toward first base to beat the throw, he hit the bag off to the side and that caused his severe injury. Hustle takes another victim. The good news is that all reports say that Cozart’s recovery is going well and he’s expected to be 100% by the start of spring training.

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#6 – Homer Bailey’s season-ending elbow injury

Homer Bailey’s 2014 season ended on August 7 when he pitched 7 shutout innings against Cleveland. The Reds pitcher had surgery on the flexor mass in his right elbow and spent the off-season before 2015 rehabbing. The Reds were counting on Bailey to be the #2 pitcher in their rotation. He returned to the mound in 2015 on April 18, but after two starts, it was obvious Bailey wasn’t right. He had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in that same elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Reports indicate Bailey’s comeback is on schedule and he’ll return to the mound in early- to mid-May.

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#5 – Devin Mesoraco’s season-ending hip condition

After a monster 2014 at the plate (.273/.359/.534; 25 home runs; wRC+ 146), the Reds were counting on their catcher to provide a big bat in the middle of the lineup after Joey Votto. Instead, a couple weeks into the season, Devin Mesoraco was diagnosed with a hip impingement. He continued to play on occasion, as a pinch hitter, designated hitter and even in left field. But season-ending surgery to relieve the condition was all but inevitable and took place on June 29 in New York. Reds catchers combined to hit four home runs in 2015 (none by Brayan Peña in 339 PA). Mesoraco should recover the full use of his hip and is expected to be the Reds catcher on Opening Day.

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#4 – Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce in the bad times

From July 3 to the end of the season, Todd Frazier hit .225/.270/.386 with a wRC+ of 72. (By comparison, Skip Schumaker’s wRC+ for the season was 73.) From August 4 to the end of the season, Jay Bruce hit .171/.213/.342 with a wRC+ of 40. That’s worse than Billy Hamilton.

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#3 – The losing streaks

The Reds  had a nine-game losing streak in mid-May. They lost 9 in a row, and 13 of 14, in late August. And they finished the season losing 13 in a row in September. In an astonishing comment after the season, one of the reasons given by Walt Jocketty for not firing Bryan Price was that the team continued to play hard. Low bars aside, one shudders to think what that would have looked like.

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 11: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after striking out against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the National League Division Series at Great American Ball Park on October 11, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

#2 – Saying good-bye to Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Todd Frazier

The Reds held on to Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake as long as they reasonably could, trading them in July before the non-waiver deadline. Cueto had pitched eight seasons for the Reds and Leake five and a half. Reds fans got to watch Cueto pitch a complete game, two-hitter in Game Two of the World Series for the Kansas City Royals. Then Cueto signed with the Giants for $130 million/6 years. Increasing the pain to Reds fans, Leake signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for $80 million/5 years. Try this for a gut punch:

https://twitter.com/MikeLeake44/status/680248614686425088

The sound you heard right afterward was thousands of Reds fans unfollowing Mike Leake on Twitter.

The Reds traded Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox earlier this month as part of their rebuilding program. Frazier came up through the Reds organization and had endeared himself to Reds fans with his play and positive attitude.

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#1 – The 64-98 record, finishing last, 36 games behind the Cardinals 

The Reds lost more games than any season since 1982. It was their second-worst winning percentage since 1937.

Oct 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds new manager Bryan Price (middle) speaks with general manager Walt Jocketty (left) and president Bob Castellini during a news conference at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

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! 44 Comments

  1. Should include the passing of Jim O’Toole.

  2. Walt, Bryan and Bob C are all still in charge. Shouldn’t that be on the list?

  3. I bet it was hard to stop at 10.

    • Only reason the Chapman trade fiasco didn’t crack the top 10 is because it’s not over yet.

      • I realize that we’ll never know what the Reds were offered for Chapman at the trade deadline, but I would give an Honorable Mention to the decision NOT to trade Chapman at that point.,

  4. #11: Winning four games to start the season gave seriously false hope.

    #12: Listening to George Grande wax poetic with his usual positive spin in August when the team went 8 & 21. *crickets*

    #13: Watching Josh Smith and David Holmberg go a combined 1 & 8. Good times.

  5. Continuing the topic of young starting pitching, I’m very excited about the quantity and quality of young arms in the Reds organization. As these pitchers develop and reach higher levels, the Reds are going to have a very difficult task of deciding who stays, who goes, and who becomes a reliever. This frightens me very much with the current front office. Granted, talent evaluation has been very good in some respects (drafting and developing Votto, Frazier, Bruce, Bailey, signing Cueto, Chapman, Iglesias, trading for Suarez and Disco), but it has also been unbelievably bad (see #9 above, giving Cueto’s money to Bailey, WJ revolving door retirement home that is the Reds bench).

    I worry who will be evaluating all of our young arms, Jekel or Hyde

  6. Was watching live on my IPad while on my honeymoon in the Caribbean when Cozart got hurt. Not even sun, sand, and booze made that experience any better

  7. I disliked that all the things happened but like the listing of them. Put a bullet next to number 3 it could be on the rise as we move to 2016….

    In any normal universe. Price would have been fired for the first 9 game losing streak what with it coming on the heels of the Profane Outburst (which itself would have gotten a guy fired or slapped with a very public stern rebuke/ fine/ suspension in most orgs). That he survived and went on the post the second 9 game streak and top it with the 13 game streak says the pit must be bottomless for the Reds org.

    To me it is really incredible that the Reds want this guy leading their rebuild on the field and in the clubhouse regardless of his previously demonstrated skills as a pitching coach.

    • Do you really think that most organizations would have fired Price for the outburst? I’d be surprised if that were so. The team’s performance is another matter, since managers are often scapegoats when things go poorly. I’m not a fan of his, as much because I don’t know the game as well as I used to believe I did as because of his decisions (I will admit that his use of the bullpen had me puzzled), but I don’t believe for a second that the circumstances he’s faced (injuries, lack of a bench, departing front-line pitchers) make it possible to honestly evaluate his ability. I really don’t care about the profanity.

      • Yes, some teams would have canned him right away. However, I think most teams would have responded to the outburst with a severe public rebuke and some sort of publicly known sizable fine or perhaps a suspension.

        His response to the team’s sanctions would then have determined whether he kept his job beyond the punishment.

  8. Injuries, trades and poor performances are a part of every season. But #8 sums up 2015 for me as I look forward to Bryan Price’s last contract season as Reds manager.

  9. The biggest disappointments for 2015 were the injuries to Cozart, Bailey and Mesoraco. Injuries are generally unforeseeable and uncontrollable. They are also hopefully limited in scope to a specific period of recovery and rehab.

    The worst impact for 2015 was a continuation of the poor roster management and poor roster management decisions. These are controllable decisions and have become a staple and consistently bad representation of the Reds Baseball Management led by WJ and his Assistant to the President cohorts.

    Topping the list for worst impact was a continuation of a bad roster decision that went from bad in 2014 to worse in 2015. Billy Hamilton was not developmentally ready for the major leages when he was not only promoted to the 25-man roster, but annointed as a starter and leadoff hitter. Hamilton has yet to prove himself capable of hitting AAA level pitching, let alone major league level pitching and has just a third of a successful season against AA pitching. Now the Reds have wasted two full years of major league service time and developement for Hamilton and he is still unable to hit major league pitching, and regressed dramatically in 2015. Hamilton’s promotionnot only wasted two years of his development and service time, it also blo9cked any decisions regarding alternatives while WJ and his Assistant to the President cohorts buried their collective heads in the sand. Anyone want to wager against Hamilton on the 25-man lineup and hitting leaoff on opening day in 2016?

    • I don’t disagree with your assessment of BHam’s offense; however, the other side of the coin is that he WARs reasonably well because of his defense; and, thus they should play him in CF but minimize his negative offensive impact by burying him at #8 or #9 in the line up.

      To me, the real issue is that the organization has failed to produce or otherwise acquire anyone who could exceed BHam’s WAR level in CF with a more typical balance of stronger offense and at least passable defense. Or alternately had they signed Choo or someone offensively similar for LF, would anyone much notice BHam’s offensive deficiencies while he effectively covered 2/3 of the OF and Bruce took care of business in RF?

      • Hamilton hasn’t reached base at a decent rate since his monster 2012.

        I’d be all for giving Tyler Holt a long look at CF this spring and make sure Hamilton knows it.

        Career Minors PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
        Hamilton 2272 .280 .351 .377 .728
        Holt 2861 .274 .367 .351 .718

        AAA PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
        Hamilton 547 .256 .308 .343 .651
        Holt 703 .304 .398 .382 .779

        Holt was BBA best Defensive OF in Cleveland’s system after 2011 and 2012 so he should be pretty good in CF.

        • The Old Cossack was pretty excited when they grabbed Holt, even though he hasn’t produced a lick at the major league level. I would love to see Holt get the same opportunity that was just dropped in Hamilton’s lap by just pencilling him in CF and leadoff for the first 3 months of the season and see how he shakes out. A trip back to the Bats certainly won’t hurt Hamilton and it might get his attention enough for him to start listening and getting a solid plate approach refined. There is absolutely no excuse for Hamilton to have more fly outs than ground outs and 5 GIDP in 454 PA. If Hamilton can’t square up his bat enough to force the infielders to respect his bat and force them to move back to a reasonable fielding depth, he simply has no chance against major league pitching.

          With Frazier shipped off to the White Sox, 2016 should be the time to find out if there is anything in the tank that plays at the major league level for Holt, De Jesus, Duvall, Y-Rod and Schebler. I wouldn’t mind having Suarez and Peraza as the middle infield tandem at Louisville to start 2016 if Cozart can play SS coming out of spring training while Duvall plays 3B, Y-Rod and Schebler platoon in LF and Holt plays CF. If none of those 5 can prove enough during 2016 to lock in even an utility role for 2017, then Williams knows what holes need to be filled as the next wave of prospects (Winker, Cave, Blandino, Ervin, etc.) are ready to head to the show.

          cf Holt (R)
          2b Phillips (R)
          1b Votto (L)
          c Mesoraco (R)
          rf Bruce (L)
          3b Duvall (R)
          lf Y-rod (R)/Schebler (L)
          ss Cozart (R)

          c Barnhart (B)
          if De Jesus (R)
          if Allen (L)
          of Selsky (R)

      • I would pile on Ohio Jims comment…Bruce, Votto, Todd, Mez Phillips…ect…Hamiton’s offense shouldn’t be a focal point of our angst…
        He’s still young, although I think this is a make or break year, as he needs to start improving.

        See Gordon, Dee

  10. I am with JESSECUSTER44.Losing 98 games and keeping the people responsible should tie at #1.No sports team or any business would keep the same guys at the helm after that kind of performance.

    • Didn’t the Cubs keep Epstein after 3 terrible years? How long was Huntington the GM in Pittsburgh before they had a winning season? Jeff Luhnow had perhaps the worst 4 year start of any GM ever but few seem to be calling for his head. Krivsky’s firing was celebrated by most, yet history had shown him to be right about most thing.

      • But Chuck – Epstein had a plan, and publicly said that the Cubs would take lumps.

        And – Walt had 90 win teams, and has proceeded to turn them into a 98 loss team. None of the GMs you mentioned turned good into horrible.

        • So list the GM’s, of mid market teams, that have consistently had their teams in the playoffs, without any losing seasons …

        • BAH! 98 losses is more than a losing season. It’s a crater. Stop changing the target. Walt and co. took a winner and made a huge loser in almost record time. And now we’re hoping they can fix what they broke, first by making the team even worse.

          Do you see why some of us are suspicious? I suppose that there’s always hope when a roster begins to turn over with trades and such, but I don’t trust Walt and co to rebuild, when they never have done so – when their last two years have been horrid – and when the reasons the Reds were so good largely happened before Walt arrived.. Their first two trades this offseason haven’t done squat to instill much confidence.

        • Your question has nothing to do with the point I was making, and it sounds like you’re trying to insult my intelligence.

          John Mozeliak, and his predecessors in St L are the only ones I can think of.

          List the GMs of mid-market teams who have turned a 90 win team into a +95 loss team in two years.

          It’s clear you are happy with the Reds’ current management direction, and willing to excuse these moved to exchange talent and payroll for what most experts say is terrible return.

          I’m not. The last time something like this happened was in 2003, and it took 7 years for the Reds to recover.

          Done with this.

  11. Forgive Pete

  12. Keep Chapman and make him a starter. His value has dropped to the point he’s not worth trading. He may not like it but you own him for next year and we won’t need a closer when we win 50 games.

    • Concerning Chapman’s value: How do you know? God’s voice in you ear? Doesn’t it seem likely that other teams are waiting to see what, if any, sanctions are levied?

  13. My addendum to No. 5: I still cringe at the thought of having kept Mesoraco on the active list to pinch hit, and to use him as a DH in American League parks, then putting him through a “catching” workout that ends up making him unavailable for even that limited role. Unbelievable.

  14. I think we should also mention that the organization didn’t have the balls to force Chapman to start.

  15. 2016 is sure to be worse as the Reds will essentially be fielding a high AAA team.

    • I do not believe this is necessarily true. However until we see the final moves and actual 2016 roster, it is difficult to say for sure. Much depends on whether Meso and Bailey come back and produce like they have in the past.

      If Meso is healthy and playing every day, his production figures to offset the loss of Frazier. Suarez should be better than last year. Votto will be Votto if he is healthy. The big question surrounding Votto will be whether Meso, Suarez, and Bruce, if he is still a Red, will produce enough to force other teams to pitch to Votto versus just pitching around him.

      On the pitching side, if Bailey is back healthy by June with Desclafani and Iglesias picking up where they left off, they will have the beginnings of a very strong rotation. Toss in Stephenson or possibly Reed some time around the ASG; and, top to bottom the rotation will be stronger than it was in 2015 even when Cueto and Leake were in it.

  16. My major concern is Reds organization still carries the same front office. Until a major turnover is made, perhaps after a change of ownership, fans should expect same resuts.

    • By that logic, how could the results have changed after having the best record in the NL in 2012?

  17. Why is everyone looking at Baileys injury as so disastrous? Look at his record. As soon as are young arms develop you won’t even remember his name.

  18. From all, I just can’t understand what WJ was expecting from the group of players in #9, just unbelieveable.

  19. The inability of this front office and ownership group to get their collective heads out-of-the-sand to realize this team wasn’t going anywhere; and, therefore deal major assets at the deadline for quality players. Instead they now are moving these assets for 3rd tier prospects and a bucket of balls.

    One word describes Walt Jocketty and this front office: Inept.

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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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2015 Reds