Titanic Struggle Recap

Recap: Reds assume the position

Until the ninth inning, the Reds had outhit the Cubs. But it sure didn’t seem like they were in the game. Last night the Cubbies scored 16 runs by blasting home run after home run. Tonight, they took a bunch of walks, stole bases, hit sacrifice flies and executed squeeze bunts. And hit two homers.

Once again, the Reds played Chip Diller to the Cubs Doug Neidermeyer. The Reds have now lost five in a row to the North Siders, outscored 46-7. Fifteen innings into this series, the Reds finally scored a run.

People say history repeats itself. The games between these teams feel a lot like the accounts from Atlanta, circa December 1864. Sherman’s drive to the sea was devastating. But historians claim that a fair bit of the damage to the Georgia countryside was caused by Confederate soldiers as they were retreating. The self sabotage the past two nights included wild throws, mistakes running the bases, swings at balls out of the strike zone and poor pitching. Meanwhile, the Cubs exhibited plate discipline and executed their plays. No mas.

sad-goat3

Reds 1  Cubs 8  |  FanGraphs  |  Thank you sir, may I have another

Didn’t Get Killed In the context of those lopsided numbers, Jon Moscot’s second start of the season wasn’t terrible. Reds fans, meet low bar. Moscot gave up four runs (three earned) in five innings, allowing three hits and four walks. He struck out two. Jeff Brantley said that Moscot wasn’t pitching enough inside and the few times he did, Moscot recorded easy outs. His FIP stands at 7.24. That stinks. But it’s better than six others pitchers who have taken the mound for the Reds this year.

Zack Blast Zack Cozart hit his first home run of the season, crushing a long blast to left center off Jon Lester in the sixth inning. He also made a nice defensive play charging a ground ball early in the game and dove to catch a line drive in the ninth.

Promising Play Adam Duvall, who is not a natural left fielder, made an outstanding diving catch on a line drive down the line by Jason Heyward. The Cubs right fielder, a three-time Gold Glove outfielder, tipped his batting helmet to Duvall.

Speed in CF Tyler Holt got a start in center, with Billy Hamilton nursing an injured hand. He walked in the third inning and stole second. In his second at bat, Holt narrowly beat out a 5-4-3 triple play.

New from the Bullpen For the second night in a row, the Reds featured a pitcher who had just been called up from AAA. J.C. Ramirez is a 27-year-old right hander from Nicaragua. The Reds are his fifth organization. Ramirez has already learned the bullpen’s signature move, walking the first batter he faced. But then he retired the next eight batters. He finished with three innings of one-hit, one-walk, shutout pitching. So maybe he won’t fit in after all.

Sadly familiar from the Bullpen J.J. Hoover pitched the top of the ninth and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced. Brantley said Hoover is another pitcher who needs to challenge hitters inside. “When you constantly pitch them outside over the plate,” said the former All-Star closer, “they’ll lean out and whack it.” Hoover gave up three more extra-base hits and three more runs. Bryan Price had set up Hoover to pitch against the bottom of the Cubs order in a relatively low-stress situation and the Reds reliever got hammered.

Bailey’s Schedule Homer Bailey felt normal after his rehab start in Louisville last night. Bryan Price said Homer will have two or three more starts before returning to the Reds rotation. Bailey echoed that today. Price watched video of Bailey’s start last night and said Homer was “progressing beyond our expectations” (Fay). That sounds like two more minor league starts – on Tuesday, April 26 and Sunday, May 1. If Bailey stays on schedule, he could pitch in Cincinnati on Friday, May 6 against the Brewers.

Grilled Lamb Milton wasn’t the only frustrated lamb tonight. John Lamb‘s rehab start in Louisville didn’t go as well as Homer Bailey’s did yesterday. Lamb, who had back surgery in December, didn’t make it through three innings, giving up 11 hits and a walk. He struck out three. Lamb threw 78 pitches, 51 of which were strikes. As long as Lamb’s back feels OK, this is nothing to worry about.

67 thoughts on “Recap: Reds assume the position

  1. Can it truly be that difficult to unload J.J.? Offer to pay his salary for any other NL club. What is wrong with the mgmt. of thus team. He,was awful two years ago and he’s awful now. Can he be placed on waivers? Don’t the team execs see the futility of continuing to pitch him? Don’t insult your fans’ intelligence, please.

    • Aren’t you insulting the intelligence of other teams when you suggest that someone would trade for JJ Hoover? Do you think the other teams don’t follow baseball?

    • He still has options so they could send him down although Price was quoted after the game saying that wasn’t being considered.

  2. Please let be the end of the failed JJ Hoover experiment. Surely it’s time to try other relievers in the close game / critical situation / closer scenarios. Hoover is not the answer. On a slightly related note, I like most of what I saw from Ramirez, including 97 on the radar gun. What do we know about him?

    • The JJ Hoover experiment has already ended, for the time being. Being put in to pitch the 9th down 3 runs is not high leverage. Price was trying him in a low stress situation, and it didn’t help.

      • You’re using too much rational thinking, someone should get cut and always fire the manager when you are blown out in back to back games

  3. A lot of holes on this team, Bruce, BP, Suarez and Cozart have been respectable but, when your 3 hitter (Votto) is not hitting (.180) and your 5 hitter (Mesaraco) is not hitting .182 your whole offense is dragged down..
    The pitching help may be coming but you got no hope if your middle of the order hitters are hopeless.
    Barnhart has been the much better player both offensively and defensively and Votto might not be the worst fielding first baseman in baseball but not close to gold glove. He’s paid to hit and right now the” so called sports car” has a dead battery that refuses to start the car,
    The Cubs are good but this team should be more competitive than this. But without production from these players they both deserve to sit and watch.

    • When Meso’s quad was barking, they would have been well advised to DL him, spent some time with him in the batting cages, then sent him off to AAA on rehab to hit for a couple of weeks.

    • Sitting the player that consumes 25% of your payroll sounds like a great idea. I bet Mike Trout and Buster Posey are looking over their shoulders as well.

      • Votto should not have said the Ferrari thing. He’s going to hear about it every time he slumps

    • Slumps are always going to look worse at the beginning of the year because the batting average falls to ugly numbers so quickly. … But what worries me about Votto a bit is that he was hitting so well and with so much authority right up through the end of spring training. Like the flip of a switch.

    • Do you think all players produce consistently in-line with what is on the back of their baseball cards?

      A .300 hitter alternates between periods of hitting .450 and hitting .150 during any given season. You don’t sit good players because they had a bad and somewhat unlucky 3 weeks.

  4. Price says Hoover is not going to be shipped to the minors.
    One thing we hear a lot is that once a season starts, nobody is truly 100% physically again until after the season has ended and they have recuperated. Maybe they need to find out what JJ’s less than 100% is and send him off to the DL just to decompress if nothing else.

    • It would be called “DLed due to an inflated ERA” but after tonight, I’m not sure that his arm is OK.

      • I’m wondering if Hoover is simply used up. He threw almost all those 8th innings ahead of Chapman over the last 3-4 years. As has been noted many times, Chappie is a physical anomaly to begin with and an absolute specimen and training addict on top of that, Hoover hardly any of those. maybe JJ’s tank is simply empty.

  5. Not that it would have made that much difference in the grand scheme of things but if I read the play by play correctly, if Moscot did not throw the ball away on the first (Ross) squeeze attempt, there would have been no 2nd squeeze attempt; and most likely the Cubbies score only 2 in the inning instead of 3. Just looking for something a bit positive 🙂

  6. Classy gesture by Hayward after Duvall’s great catch. Did Marty comment on it? I switched to the Cub feed. Can’t take Marty’s arrogant and scornful tone.

      • Tipped his batting helmet as he jogged back to the bench. He had to be frustrated. He’s been hitting the ball well. Lots of line drives but right at people. Very low babip. It took some serious maturity to react as he did.

  7. The deal or lack thereof for Hoover would consist of a lot of different things. Would they be competitive? No!!!!!!!! What is the affect of his salary ? This is kind of a moot point because of the next question can you move him? The answer of course is a resounding no. The final question is do you want to move him to make room? I don’t see it right now but there MAY BE a time in the not to distant future that we need the room on the 25 or the 40 man roster and when that happens we just eat his salary and move on. I am unsure of service time and options on some of these young pitchers on the DL or out on a rehab assignment. I don’t care if we flush his salary down the toillet with him…………..the comparison seems appropriate doesn’t it? He has no value that would be worth the risk of trying to sneak one of these young prospects on waivers. I wonder if they DFA him and nobody picks him up can we use him as the worlds highest paid locker room attendant?

    • options and service time for the DL pitchers…

      Lamb may be out of options; maybe not. It looks to me (Cot’s; link below) that he is; others seem to think he isn’t. He’s on the MLB DL; so the control issue is probably moot. He had only 54 days of MLB service prior to this year; he’s not going to be a Super2.

      Lorenzen has at least 2 option years left plus there is a wrinkle in the option rule that might mean he was not charged with an option used for his brief stint “on option” last August. He had 159 days of MLB service at the end of last year. So, with his MLB DL time this year, he is already over a year (172 days). He seems likely to be a Super2 unless he spends several weeks on option this year or next.

      Disco is not going to be a Super 2 and that is all that really applies to him. For the record he does have at least 2 option years left.

      https://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/national-league-central/cincinnati-reds/

  8. Looking into some weeks ahead, starting rotation and most of the bullpen should be set at least for the season, with Bailey, DeSclafani, Iglesias, Finnegan and Lamb on one hand and Moscot, Cotham, Wood, Simon, Straily, Cingrani and Ramirez on the other. Regarding position players, CF is a deep hole, none of Hamilton, Schebler or Holt can be regulars and there’s anybody coming up from the minors in the near future. All other positions are set, hopefully Votto and Mez will come out from their slumps soon. So I guess management should focus in signing a new closer, a CF and a new Manager. Go Reds!

    • Unless the Reds believe they are legitimate contenders for 2017, they need to go on and move Bruce and Cozart for what they will bring because team control over both of them only extends thru 2017. Also Phillips’ contract will be up after the 2017 season. I have no idea if he will try to extend his career beyond that point; however, after the various situations between Phillips and the Reds org, it seems to me to be unlikely BP would ever be a Reds player after 2017.

      That’s a lot of position player bodies that are going to need replacement to match up with the prime (and affordability) of the young pitching from MLB down thru AA. Unfortunately aside from Winker and perhaps Peraza the cupboard looks pretty bare. The challenge for the Reds is to correctly evaluate the deep pitching prospect pool and then leverage some of it to bring in truly MLB ready talent to help fill the positional needs.

      • Winker will replace Bruce
        Peraza will replace Cozart
        Blandino will replace Phillips

        All 3 top 100 prospects

        • Blandino is still showing zip offensively. Everyone keeps waiting for Phil Ervin and him to “turn the corner” but once the competitive seasons start they never get to the turn.

        • Blandino is a career .272 hitter in the minors. He was hitting .294 in Daytona last season before a late season promotion and had 10 homers. Although not stellar, that’s a far cry from “zip.”

    • I wouldn’t spend a dime on a new closer this year.

      As the returning starters turn a few our current starters into relievers, mix and match with them to finish games. And save the money for position players who can fit into more long-term plans.

  9. For a guy who has little or no experience in the outfield, Duvall is doing OK. That catch Friday night, maybe a better left fielder would have made it more easily, but he isn’t looking like the butcher I was expecting.

    • Believe it or not, Adam Duvall is the best defensive LFer in the game right now by metrics.

      54.3 UZR/150 (1st)
      4 DRS (1st-t)
      100% in-zone rate (1st-t)
      11 out-of-zone plays made (4th-t)
      1.6 ARM runs (1st)
      1.3 Range runs (4th)
      0.2 Error runs (1st-t)

      Pretty impressive start for Duvall, even if you don’t like advanced defensive metrics.

  10. For the first time, I’m wondering about Hoover’s arm. We know that his breaking pitches have been hanging, but also tonight his fastball was at 90-91. Last year, at least on a good night, it was at 94-95. Huge difference.

  11. And as close as Holt came to hitting into a triple play Friday night? The Texas Rangers actually ran themselves into a triple play. Check out the highlights. They went from bases loaded and nobody out to end of the inning.

  12. Brantley’s comment about Hoover not pitching inside was interesting. But his main problem last night was obvious – yet another hanging curve ball to Baez and then a bunch of lifeless fastballs that caught too much of the plate.

    Hoover got burned a lot last year in August and September on inside pitches to LHed hitters. But I don’t know why he’d be afraid to throw inside to RHed hitters. He had a lot of success with that last year.

  13. It is really worse than 46-7. Finnegan had a no-no going into the 7th inning at Wrigley. Since then, the Cubs have outscored the Reds 46-4, over 36 innings. They have averaged about 1.3 run/inning since then.

    The Cubs are perfectly constructed to destroy the Reds. The Reds’ young starters can’t generally make it to the 6th inning, because they lack the command to keep their pitch counts low. (And the Cubs are good at running up pitch counts.) Then the Cubs face 4 innings of the Reds’ bullpen Arson Squad, with AA stuff, and the score becomes 8-1 in the blink of an eye. The Cubs will only struggle against teams like the Mets, with unimpeachable starting pitching.

    Votto and Mesoraco are awful now. Votto is getting thrown many more first-pitch strikes than he has in the past, plus his pitches/plate appearance ratio is about a half-pitch below his last two years. I’ve always thought that is how teams should pitch to Votto: pound the inside part of the strike zone early. He’s always adjusted, but he looks to have changed bodies with Jay Bruce right now.

    Hoover is hopeless. He makes $1.4mm this year, and if somebody takes him on (a big if), they could DFA him and only be out about $800k, which in my mind they ought to do. He is by all accounts a good man, and you could see the agony in his face as he walked off the mound. On a human level, you hate to see a guy’s dreams die, but on the other hand, his being on the team is in the way of another guy’s dream.

  14. Let me rephrase, sum up some of my other posts and agree with Steve in one very basic comment.
    THE REDS PITCHERS HAVE NO AGGRESSION.
    They are afraid to pitch inside. They are afraid to challenge batters. They are afraid to throw their best pitch. They would much rather walk a batter than hit them. Look, I don’t want the Reds drilling players unnecessarily. Niw, if they accidentally hit a few batters while reclaiming the plate then so be it at least they are being aggressive instead of bending over and taking it.

    • They are afraid because they are bad, not the other way around. Pitchers don’t want to miss middle in because that’s the wheelhouse. Down and away is the safest place to pitch if you aren’t that good.

      • Agree. The comment from Brantley about pitching inside is phony tough guy stuff from the protection of the booth. The Reds problem is lack of pitching talent. Hoover just is not very good.

  15. I m watching Duvall and Finnegan and Suarez and Iglesias. I know Votto will be fine. Barry Larkin was always dreadful in April. The frustrating thing is the injuries to Bailey/Disco/Lamb and Lorenzen. Those injuries have forced us to watch non-competitive journeyman play. The Hoover and Hamilton debacles are a blessing.They have proven they are not part of the core nucleus for the rebuild.
    Bruce, Cozart and BP are all proving their value to potential trade partners come July.
    Let s hope they play well for another 2 months. BP may rethink if he wants to stay. DC might look good in July when the Nationals are 10 games in front and the Reds are 20 below .500.
    We need Peraza hitting leadoff and playing 2b.

    • The Cubs and the Royals took beatings for a couple of years to get the pieces to get where they are. Well… the Cubs took beatings for a lot of years but let’s discount everything before Epstein. They are who we now want to emulate.
      I like Don Long. I think he has done a good job with Bruce and Cozart. Mesoraco has not hit a lick… but I am pretty sure it is going to take him a while to come back from a year off after hip surgery… a little patience please. I think Hamilton is hurt. He has hit the ball straighter and kept it on the ground better… and has taken more walks than in the past. He was rushed to the majors and is going to need time to get healthy. Bad shoulder and bad hand is not a good thing. We will miss his defense but he needs to play every day at Louisville.

      The one thing I like more than most of us on here is that I am comfortable with Jocketty making trades. Suarez for Simon. Finnegan, Reed and Lamb for 2 months of Cueto. Duvall and Melia for 2 months of Leake. Rookie Davis and Jagielo for Chapman after he shot his gun and was facing suspension. Don’t know if Peraza was enough for Frazier but Frazier was flawed and I think Peraza will be playing centerfield shortly for the Reds.

      I don’t think Jocketty can build a bench but each of those trades looks good to me.
      Trades are a crap shoot. Feldman for Arieta not looking so good to Baltimore today.

  16. In keeping with the Animal House theme….”Mr. Hoover, Chairman of the Reds’ bullpen…your average is…19.50–a fine example to set for the pledges of your fraternity! Mr. Mesoraco, .132–bobbling and slumping is no way to go through life!….Mr. Hamilton….162–speed kills if you can’t use it wisely…”

  17. Ramirez has already learned the bullpen’s signature move, walking the first batter he faced.

    Comedy! Goodness, not even May and it looks like we’re in for another LONG season.

    • It depends on your point of view. If you are expecting a competitive team, then you’re probably right, this is going to be a long season.

      But if you went into this season accepting it was basically going to be a season-long audition for a bunch of young players, then there’s lots of interesting plotlines to follow.

  18. I think a larger view of the Reds and situation they are in, is that management has, for years, been afraid of making truly bold and decisive moves with the team.
    Walt has made some excellent trades, but I am talking about an overall strategy. I don’t think that they really have a plan even now.
    I don’t want to see Jay Bruce, Zach Cozart and Brandon Phillips thrown away in trades where no value is received. It takes time to make a good trade and evaluate what is coming your way. We have a couple of months until the Interleague trading deadline.

    But the bullpen is a disaster area, and has been since 2013. With the supposed pitching expert Bryan Price as head coach. Over and over, the Reds keep making the wrong decisions on personnel. I know that injuries have jumbled the starting rotation this year, but that is a poor excuse for Tim Melville and some of the other people down there.
    The Reds pitching stinks, and the fans know it, and attendance shows it. They should chew on that for a minute.

  19. After yet another drubbing at the hands of the Cubbies, the Old Cossack needed a dose of good news from the Reds organization. Oh my…not a good day for instilling much confidence. The bats throughout the organization were all but silent yesterday. There were a few nibblets though…

    Topping the list of good news was the Reds DFA’d Tim Melville. The Melville experiment ranked right up there with Marquis and Gregg. Just another unjustifiable bonehead move by the Reds management, but it’s done. The Reds promoted JC Ramirez, 27-year-old RH RP. IN 6.0 innings at AAA, Ramirez has a 1.17 WHIP & 0.00 ERA w/ 10-SO & 3-BB. This is Ramirez’ 4th taste of MLB action (PHI, ARI & SEA). He has 162.1 innings in AAA w/ 1.386 WHIP & 3.66 ERA. Last night he pitched 3.0 innings for the Reds w/ 3-BB & 6-SO. Ramirez is certainly an improvement over Melville, but probably not an answer in the bullpen.

    AAA LOUISVILLE BATS:
    Layne Somsen, 26-year-old RH RP, pitched 1.0 innings w/ 1-H & 1-SO. In 8.2 innings, Somsen has a 0.81 WHIP & 1.04 ERA w/ 11-SO & 3-BB. After the Reds plucked JC Ramirez from the Bats roster to replace Melville, can Somsen be far behind to replace another failed bullpen audition at the major league level?

    AA PENSACOLE BLUE WAHOOS:
    Nick Routt, 25-year-old LH RP, pitched 2.0 innings w/ 1-H & 2-SO. In 8.2 innings, Routt has a 0.58 WHIP & 1.04 ERA w/ 7-SO & 2-BB. Routt looks fully committed to relieving this season and may have found his niche and path to the show. If the Reds continue to be promoted relievers from the AAA roster (Somsen & D.Diaz?), Routt may be in line for a move to AAA.

    A+ DAYTONA TORTUGAS:
    Seth Varner, 24-year-old LH RP, pitched 1.0 clean innings. In 9.2 innings, Varner has a 1.14 WHIP & 1.86 ERA w/ 6-SO & 2-BB. Varner has been hittable w/ 9-H & 1-HR this season. Ismael Guillon, 24-year-old LH RP, pitched 1.0 innings w/ 1-SO & 1-BB. In 8.1 innings, Guillon has a 0.96 WHIP & 3.24 ERA w/ 9-SO & 5-BB. The walks will haunt. This is Guillon’s 1st season as a reliever. The lack of LH RP in the Reds system makes both Varner & Guiilon players to watch.

    A DAYTON DRAGONS:
    Manuel Aybar, 23-year-old RH RP, pitched 1.0 innings w/ 2-H & 2-SO. In 8.1 innings, Aybar has a 1.44 WHIP & 1.08 ERA w/ 10-SO & 4-BB this season.

  20. This is a year when we find out who can pitch/hit at the major league level and nothing more.The worst thing that can happen is if we actually hang around 500 and provide some false hope that we don’t need to continue to trade some of our high salary players.We must prepare for next year and beyond and if it means getting our brains beat out then it is what it is.When our 4 pitchers on the DL return we become much better starting wise and in the pen so it is not all gloom and doom.

    • I think hanging in around .500 would not be the worst outcome of the season. Part of the process they are going through on the field is learning how to win. If they are in a position to try and win a game in the back end, they need to make all reasonable efforts to win it. If that wind them up in the range of .500; so be it. It is up to the front office to be able to determine if the wins were derived from a sustainable effort or whether more change is needed.

  21. I’m afraid that might be the last time we see .500 this year? Suarez’s bat is DOA right now along with Votto/Mes! Our cleanup hitter might hit 12 hrs this year….maybe? I thought Schebler could help but he’s a K waiting to happen. Cozart, Bruce, Duvall, and Barnhart are doing well but even Duvall (1 HR) isn’t getting any elevation when he hits the ball hard? The Mets pitching is just as good as the Cubs….then we get Pitt and they have to be tired of losing to us when they end up 20 games ahead in the standings? Then SF with Baumgartner, Cueto, and Smryjfdsqda. We love our Reds but this year isn’t exactly must-see TV!

    • The Reds are 0-5 versus the Cubs but 8-4 against the rest of the league so far which includes a series versus both the Pirates and Cards. Thankfully, after Sunday it is two full months before the Reds see the Cubbies again.

      We will find out starting Monday if the Metz are as good as the Cubs. Despite the Pirates record last year they lost the season series to the Reds. The onus is on them to turn that around if they can. The Giants have seemed to have some earlt season issues too.

      For the Reds, Bailey, Disco, and Lamb could well all be pitching for the Reds by the end of the home stand that follows this current 13 game run. That should lead to stabilization of the rotation and improvement of the bullpen.

  22. Saw a recent tweet from Sam LeCure saying it’s hard to swallow the short leash the Reds gave him compared to others (Hoover?). He seems to think he should still be in the show instead of AAA. That’s also pretty hard to swallow.

  23. I agree it is up to the front office to make changes or stand pat but they haven’t shown me that they can do that.We play in the best division in baseball and hanging around 500 is higly unlikely but I could see them wanting to tweek here or there and try all over next year with the same cast of characters.Again this is an audition year for everybody that plan on being here next year and beyond.Some shouldn’t be here because of age,salary or because they aren’t major league players yet or never will be.We will get better when we get our guys off the DL and others start to hit but will that translate in to wins?Guess we will have to see.

  24. Steve, I sincerely enjoy the format for your game recaps. They really do lighten the mood regarding the season’s progression towards misery. You’re a good man.

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