Titanic Struggle Recap

Maybe the Big Red Machine isn’t watching

The Padres were 30-43 before this series. The Reds have been outscored 23-8. They have to win tomorrow to avoid a humiliating 4-game sweep at home.

Cincinnati 0  San Diego 3  |  FanGraphs  | Pete Highlights/Commentary

Promising Brandon Finnegan pitched well today. He was as close as you can get to finishing seven innings without doing so. He struck out eight and walked three. Two of the runs he gave up were at the unlikely hands of the opposing pitcher. Barring a trade, Finnegan is going to be an important piece of the next Reds contending team, whether as a starter or reliever. Lots of talent.

How Much Longer? Eugenio Suarez let the Padres first run score by not throwing home to cut down Travis Jankowski who attempted to score from third base on the contact play. The ball was hit hard and Suarez fielded it cleanly. The replay showed there was plenty of time to make the play. With the number of times the Reds have been thrown out at home on the contact play, you’d think Suarez would be familiar enough.

Nine Years in the Making The only Reds player to draw a walk in this game was Brandon Finnegan. Meanwhile, Reds pitchers issued six free passes. This is the product of having a GM for nine years who doesn’t care about OBP.

How Much Longer? Part II Brandon Phillips, who is ranked #159 out of 169 major league hitters in run creation, tried to steal third with no outs. Not a smart strategy with Jay Bruce and Adam Duvall coming up to bat. Not a smart strategy if you’ve been thrown out more times than you’ve succeeded in stealing. Phillips was out, as Marty Brennaman would say, from here to there. Yes, Phillips is still batting third. Phillips did make a nice play on a bases-loaded line drive with the infield pulled in.

Bullpen Artists Ross Ohlendorf relieved Finnegan to get the last out of the seventh. He walked the first batter he faced (no home run!) then struck out the second. Ohlendorf returned to pitch in the 8th. He walked the first batter. Then Jay Bruce dropped a fly ball on the warning track. that he should have caught. The Reds intentionally walked the bases loaded. Ohlendorf and the Reds got out of the inning when Bruce gunned down Alexi Amarista at home attempting to tag up on a fly ball. Jay giveth, Jay taketh away. Josh Smith pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. Smith is putting together a nice month of relieving. 13 innings, 13 Ks and 4 walks.

45 thoughts on “Maybe the Big Red Machine isn’t watching

  1. Steven, the BRM (at least part of it) was surely watching and taking note today. These are tough times for the franchise and the fans. There are certainly some clouds on the horizon of that light ahead that you spoke about not long ago. Let’s hope they pass through the area and don’t rain on the parade that is our hope for the future of this team.

  2. Run creation is, in my opinion, a less than ideal stat for measuring hitting. Phillips is hitting better than half our line-up, including the vaunted Joey Votto.

    • Your comment must be based on BA alone (.257 versus .243) because Votto has a much higher OBP (.372 versus .293), more home runs (11 versus 6), more RBIs (36 versus 29) more stolen bases (5 versus 4), etc., etc.

      • You made the point via traditional stats that I was going to make via traditional stats. The only fact is BP has a better batting average than Votto and that’s just barely. Votto is the better hitter by any other measure.

    • There’s no argument here. Brandon Phillips has a higher batting average (for now, I expect Votto to have a higher one pretty soon). Joey Votto does everything else better that an offensive player does – like power and getting on base. So it’s not whether “run creation” is an ideal stat. It just measures more than batting average. And when you look beyond simple batting average, Votto is better, much better.

      • Well I did not say Phillips is more valuable than Votto but Phillips is not without talent in making contact.

        • Scot: you said that Philips is hitting better than half the lineup, including Joey Votto. You didn’t say that Philips is more valuable and that’s not what people responded to. You said he was hitting better than Votto and that is simply and completely untrue.

    • Phillips is not in the same stratosphere as a productive hitter as Cozart or Votto or Bruce or Duvall. Beyond that…its not saying much. I”d take Suarez over BP( at least this week only ) so that leaves Bham…..a pathetic hitter and a backup catcher to compare…..Batting average is a good filter…..yes he’s hitting .262, but when you look at his OBP and his power….he is below average and overpaid and getting worse….. just stop the nonsense. We need to find out if Peraza is part of the future….or just a speedy .260 hitter who cant get on base or hit for power. Its time to answer that question. The second half of 2016 is about figuring out who is part of the solution in 2017.

      • Suárez has very good power, and the 2nd best walk rate on the team, which translates to his OPS being 33 points higher for the season than Phillips, even counting his awful month of May. Suárez had a .772 OPS in April and .803 so far in June, so because of the one rough month, Suárez’s overall numbers don’t look great. If May was indeed just one bad month and he returns to the April/June Suárez, he could end up having a pretty good overall season.

        • But where does Suarez play? I think that’s a real problem going forward, unless he proves that he can’t sustain decent hitting, in which case it’s a moot point.

        • I think our infield in 2018 will look like this: Votto at 1B, Peraza and Suárez up the middle (take your pick on who’s at 2nd and who’s at SS) and Senzel at 3B

    • I get that some baseball fans don’t put full stock in advanced metrics, but you can’t completely discount them. Even looking at the conventional stats, Phillips has not been good. Only 6 HRs, an OBP under .300, slugging under .400. Not many people, if any, argue that OPS is a bad stat, and if you look at everyone’s OPS, Phillips is 3rd worst out of our regulars. Only Tucker Barnhart (and some could argue Billy Hamilton, that one can go either way in my opinion) has been worse than Phillips this season when you look at overall (conventional and/or metrics) stats.

  3. I know that this website is markedly “anti Pete Rose” the same with Doug Gray’s website as well but this is a great line:
    “His greatness was that he was never satisfied.” Bench on Pete Rose.

    • You’re certainly wrong about this site. For one thing, we have about 28 writers, with a wide range of opinions. If you’re talking about the managing editor (me) you’re talking about a guy writing this comment with a 3’x2′ Pete Rose poster about two feet away. Not sure why you have an agenda of characterizing the writers and writing at the site. Just stick to writing your thoughts about the Reds, not the rest of us, please.

      • My apologizes then Steve. I have seen lots of negative comments about Pete over the few years so forgive me for over stepping.

    • I’m not sure what you’re talking about here. There may be a few of us who don’t care for Rose but even those of us who don’t like Rose the man will laud his ability as a player. You have to be a special player to play long enough and hit well enough to be the all time hits leader. I’ve never really read anything from the writers here that suggests that they don’t like Rose.

    • Yeah, I’ve got a Pete autographed bat sitting in the corner of my office.

  4. Our young starters continue to show what they have got and with experience comes being a consistent major league pitcher.Our young staff at times show they have swing and miss stuff.That always plays once they get more innings under their belt.Our offense remains a swing for the fence group with no thought about a walk being a good thing.

  5. “With the number of times the Reds have been thrown out at home on the contact play, you’d think Suarez would be familiar enough.”

    Well played, sir.

  6. It’s obvious that Suarez is not comfortable at third base. When changes are made, depending on who is acquired when Cozart and/or Bruce are traded, Duvall should be moved to third until the young recent draft pick is ready to take over.

    • That’s the best option, send Suarez down to work out in another position, maybe he could do it better at SS with Peraza at 2B, maybe…

        • He was a horrible SS and I can’t imagine he would improve enough to get past the level of “awful” at that position. I don’t know where he can play in the field but he is showing that the left side of the infield isn’t it.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if Suarez is traded. Defensive liability but good hitter is better suited for the AL so he can DH.

      • I would be quite disappointed if we gave up on Suárez after just a year and a half. Sure, his defense needs major improvement. A move to 2B might help that. But he has far too good of a bat to give up on. Would only trade him right now if we can get a similar quality bat that is Major League ready. Maybe when Senzel and Blandino are ready to be up here, we see if we can move Suárez, but definitely not before.

      • I don’t think Suarez’s bat can play at DH. To strike out as much as he does, you need elite power to balance it out. He has decent power, but not elite.

    • Duvall was thought to be a below-average third baseman, and he has been an above-average left fielder, Why weaken the team at two positions?

      • My thoughts exactly. And we don’t really know if Suarez can improve at 3B or even move to 2B. He has a lot more experience at 2B and by most accounts was solid defensively there in the minors.

  7. At least Suarez makes up for his sub par defense with his offensive prowess. George Foster he aint. That’s sarcasm for those who think batting Phillips third is a great idea.

    • Suarez, for a third baseman, is about as bad offensively as he is defensively. Well to be fair, is offense is a little less bad as his defense. If his defense was average, it would be hard to justify playing him at third just based on his offense.

  8. No reason at all for BP to be playing everyday because he won’t be on the next team that competes for a playoff spot.He has little or nothing left on offense and his defense is average at best.

  9. Who would have thought that the Rose weekend would turn out to be such a boring weekend? I’m a BRM contemporary born just ahead of 1950; and even the trotting out of the guys one more time has hardly caught my attention aside from the obvious and painful physical absence of Joe.

    Phillips continues to fade into the sunset.

    Like Bench, at least in his waning years, Saurez is not quite a 3B

    Finnegan is a keeper; but is a starter or in the pen or perhaps not a even technically a keeper if he’s the guy who’ll bring a strong bat in return.

    Maybe something more exciting will happen today (Sunday).

  10. Brandon’s time has passed. I don’t care if he continues to “smile more than anyone else in the game” as noted by our esteemed announcers who, by the way, also have to go. He plays his position nonchalantly, feeling perhaps that brief moments of residual brilliance make up for eons of mediocrity. And, as far as plate discipline is concerned, don’t get me started. If I am going to masochistically comtinue to follow this team I’d like to see glimpses of the future… Not vestigages of the past. And, unfortunately, Jay Bruce is another glaring example and I have coancerns that Votto is also going down with the Titanic.

  11. And… As long as I’m ranting… I hate…HATE…our announcers. They too are living in the past. They teach us nothing and they are rarely entertaining. I see baseball evolving. Improved TV gimmicks…like the electronic strike zone and sabermetrics, simplified for the common viewer can be terrific. As a 63 yr old die- hard Red fan who lives in Florida the baseball TV package is telling. When our games are announced by the opposing team, I learn more from their announcers than our own. And, their coverage of their own team is often light-years better than ours. I would rate our coverage guys as bargain basement… Like our relief corp.

    • I agree. Our announcers are annoying. Especially Welch and Brennamen. Welch just fills the air with jibberish and Thom uses voice inflections when making a point ever other minute.

  12. “Josh Smith pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. Smith is putting together a nice month of relieving. 13 innings, 13 Ks and 4 walks.”

    Last season, Smith had an audition with the Reds and an introduction to the show. That didn’t go so good: 7.44 ERA; 1.93 WHIP; 11.6 H/9; 5.8 BB/9 & 1.43 SO/BB.

    This season, Smith (SSS alert: 15.0 IP) has performed much better at the major league level and consistent with his AAA performance over the past 2 seasons: 2.4 ERA; 1.27 WHIP; 8.4 H/9; 3.0 BB/9 & 2.80 SO/BB. This is certainly not a dominating performance, but if Smith can maintain this performance over an extended period of time, he can be a very serviceable member of a successful bullpen in long/middle relief.

    With the dominating success of Keyvius Sampson this season in AAA (2.06 ERA; 0.97 WHIP; 5.7 H/9; 3.0 BB/9; 0.5 HR/9 & 3.05 SO/BB), Sampson may be ready for another audition at the major league level after his abysmal performance during his two prior opportunities at the major league level. Sampson is playing in only his age 25 season, so youth is still an asset for the young pitcher. If his AAA success can translate to the major league level, Sampson could have a significant role in a successful Reds’ bullpen.

    • I’m of a different mind where Sampson is concerned. As a reliever, he wasn’t any better at AAA than he has been with the Reds. So, why try to put the square peg into the round hole again in expectation of different results.

      Over the last month going on six weeks, Sampson has out performed Stephenson; and, at times even Reed pitching side by side with them in the rotation facing the same level of competition. He is now starting to see (and be seen) for the second time as a starter by some of the teams. Leave him where he is and see how he navigates the next month to six weeks as he moves through the league again.

      If he maintains anything even resembling the type of numbers he has put up to date as a starter, when the Reds need somebody to fill in their rotation due to innings limitation, bring Sampson up and see what he does as an MLB starter.

      • Not a single thing wrong with such an approach for handling Sampson. We all recognize the value of SP >>> the value of a RP. I simply see Sampson maturing as a pitcher rather than maturing as a starting pitcher. This happens to coincede with his role as a starting ptitcher for the Bats right now.

        It will not be long before limits will begin to impact the starting rotation and having Sampson available to step in could be a perfect opportunity for promoting him back to the show. I don’t think anyone envisioned Sampson as even a remote consideration for the major league starting rotation after last season, so if he does crack the starting rotation, then the tricke down effect will still have a positive impact on the bullpen.

  13. I will agree with general sentiment here. Steve wrote a very nice, cautiously optimistic piece recently of the team’s future, yet the future while bright, isn’t a guarantee like the Cubs’ rebuild obviously became. Is Duvall real, will Peraza walk, will Winker slug, can Votto age well – these concerns are not unique to Reds’ baseball, but man we have a lot of them it seems. I will say this – and of course all teams could say this, but I think we’re positioned to say it more realistically – if our pitching peaks developmentally – we’ll be fine no matter the answers to any of those questions.

    One last thought – Votto’s contract. I love him – he’ll finish strong – this is a blip. But his contract was created in a trendy time to sign slugging 1Bs to large, long contracts. Now that we have some hindsight to that trend – let’s see:

    Mark Texieria – maybe decent value?
    Ryan Howard – uh huh.
    Albatross Pujols – to describe his contract, not his production.
    Prince Fielder – isn’t he benched?
    Adrian Gonzalez – not bad, 2.5-3.0 WAR at $21million per year last 3 years
    Joey Votto – ?

    Lengthy post, but I’m too busy these days to bring it as much as I’d like to. Thanks for reading!! Love the site!

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