Titanic Struggle Recap

Recap: Lamb, in rare form, not enough

With this afternoon’s loss, the Reds are 32-56. Only the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins have worse records. One more game to the All-Star break. Then it’s a new season, right?

This is one loss that can’t be blamed on the pitching. The Reds were poor at the plate, in the field and on the base paths. No way to go through the season.

Cincinnati 2  Miami 4 |  FanGraphs  | Top 25 Trade Candidates

John Lamb pitched really, really well today. The 25-year-old struck out nine (a career high) and walked none – that’s walked none – in five innings. He had pinpoint command of both sides of the plate while mixing up three pitches. Both Chris Welsh and Jeff Brantley mentioned that Lamb’s change-up was uber-effective. (“selling the change-up with conviction” – C. Welsh) The runs he gave up would have been prevented with basic, competent defense. One strike against Lamb is that he failed to get a bunt down in a key situation. As a group, Reds pitchers are bad at that.

Adam Duvall started the Reds scoring with a laser over the left field fence for his 23rd home run. The Reds scored their second run on Jay Bruce’s 20th double of the year and a single by Brandon Phillips.

Poor defense really cost the Reds. In the bottom of the first, Martin Prado hit a ground ball to the left of Eugenio Suarez. Suarez got a glove on it but instead of fielding it cleanly, the ball got away from him and rolled into left field. Prado ended up at second base. The run scored on a passed ball by Ramon Cabrera. The pitch was a strike (called a ball). Ramon Cabrera has had trouble catching balls right in his glove. It cost the Reds a run this time. Jay Bruce misplayed a fly ball that landed on the warning track that cost the Reds the next two runs.

Jumbo Diaz pitched the sixth giving up a hit but no runs. Michael Lorenzen retired the side in order in the seventh, with one K. But he walked the first two batters he faced in the 8th. After striking out Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton wristed a broken-bat single into CF scoring a run. Lorenzen struck out the next batter and got Ichiro on a ball hit back to the mound.

Brandon Phillips played today with a hairline fracture in his left hand. The Reds could have rested him for two games before the All-Star break and played top prospect Jose Peraza. Chris Welsh said he found the situation “very curious” especially when the Reds have a “capable backup” who the team “really wants to see play.” Welsh concluded the decision “doesn’t make any sense.” Jim Day of FSO reported that Phillips has heard the talk about his decline and feels the need to prove he can still play. Reminder the Reds are six gazillion games below .500 and in the middle of Rebuild.

(If you’re the But-He-Got-Two-Hits, So-There guy, you’re sorta missing the point.)

Billy Hamilton was 0-4 with two Ks. He’s hitting .236/.284/.352 with a wRC+ of 66. He’s doing a little bit (very little) better than his awful 2015, but he’s well short of his also-not-great 2014 season. Maybe we dial back the “Billy is figuring it out” narrative for a while. Meanwhile, Eugenio Suarez was also 0-4 and is hitting .228/.295/.402.

Baseball America published an updated Top 100 Prospects list today, with three Reds making it: Amir Garrett #31, Robert Stephenson #65 and Jesse Winker #68. Cody Reed and Peraza were ineligible because they were not in the minor leagues on June 21. The two Cleveland prospects, Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer were #21 and #26 respectively. I still like Zimmer better.

42 thoughts on “Recap: Lamb, in rare form, not enough

  1. Bad pitching this year….but the hitting has slowly fallen to terrible also. Maybe we better be dialing back the “rebuilding for 2017” talk too.

  2. The long running lack of basic fundamentals and non-existent baseball IQ in the organization makes the Reds talent deficit even worse. Both were on full display today.
    However, even if they try to address the talent deficit through the drafts and trades, I have very little reason to believe that the Reds players development staff will do anything with them. For example, looking throughout the system there is a complete lack of on base skills. Futhermore, even when a player does come up, the propensity for making knuckle-headed decisions in the field and on the bases is a given. Even worse, it never gets any better as players still make the same bone headed plays two and three years later. These arent recent problems but ones that existed even when the Reds were a contender. The questions this raises are: what is going on at the minor league level and isn’t it past time that they hold people in the player development depart accountable for the complete lack of basic baseball intelligence? I’m not excusing Bryan Price in all of this, but much of this mess, especially as it relates to basic fundamentals predates his tenure.

    • I wonder the same things about fundamentals, and from reading the comments here, it seems that we have a lot of company. I don’t watch games other than the Reds much, though, so I can’t tell whether what I’m seeing is unusual or close to the norm in a sport where things happen quickly and unpredictably.

  3. The situation with Phillips playing today and presumably tomorrow is beyond baffling. It is (almost) enough to make me wonder if he’s agreed to a trade to someplace if the Reds can get terms and/ or talent they want; and, both Phillips and the Reds do not want to put it at risk because of his injury.

    • That’s about the only scenario that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense, is what team in contention would want to take on Phillips (either contract or performance).

      • If the Reds were to be paying most the freight, Phillips still offers some value as a role player. Just take today.

        He had 2 hits and could have easily had 3. My point being, he puts the ball in play but with little power remaining; and, obviously he has trouble going from 1st to 3rd and scoring from 1st on many doubles.

        He is nominally still a passable 2B defensively. Ironically he looks as bad defensively to us as he does mainly because he was so very good just 2 or 3 years back.
        Certainly, he could also sub at 1B and most likely 3B; and he probably could handle left field on occasion.

        Its all about how much a team would have to pay. If a team believed that by playing less he might actually be more productive when he played, it might be inclined to take him for a season and half at the salary left to him this year, which would mean the Reds chipping in the amount of next year’s salary to save the remaining salary for this year, a savings which would come to roughly 1/3 or the amount they are on the hook for now..

    • That still doesn’t make any sense. The other team would be getting medicals anyway. Not only that, but if a trade were in the works, why risk exacerbating an injury or adding another injury?

      I certainly hope the thought process changes post-ASB re: BP’s playing time. It’s past time that he sits in favor of the younger players.

      • It would be a deal that was essentially already done; and, queued up for announcement on the backend of the ASB, assuming the final details were completed.
        Yes, the “receiving” team would get the medicals which presumably would say just what the Reds have said in public and are standing behind by playing him, that whether or not he can play with the injury basically comes down to his pain tolerance.
        The importance to the other team would be that they have an urgency, for him to play now, possibly as a stop gap measure until somebody else comes back off injury.

        • The only thing that makes any sense is they the REDS that is are SHOWING a prospective trade partner he can play with this new injury. I know part of the enjoyment of watching sports is second guessing the professionals but with this team the management takes all the fun out by being mentally deficient!

  4. Are both Winker and Stephenson rated lower this year than last on the top 100 Prospects list?

    • Stephenson is having serious control issues. Winker has battled a wrist injury and his power is pretty much non-existent this year. There also are perhaps some newer guys that moved up in the list or improved greatly from last year. I’m guessing these all transpired to lower their ratings.

  5. I have been saying for some time not to expect to be truly competitive again until possibly 2018.. Probably 2019. It’s going to be a long and bumpy ride folks.

    • I think it was 2018 all along but there is no way that’s happening now!

  6. Everyone should look back a few days when Jay Bruce’s praise was being sung here. His defensive abilities have gone down significantly and he cost us today’s game. I hope the Reds have the good sense to unload him while he has some market value…. i.e…..NOW!!!

    • Last weekend I heard an interview with a guy from Baseball Prospectus saying just that. Sad thing is Bruce was a strong defender when he came up and the decline in defense has not been so much due to a loss of range but just bad fundamentals (misjudged flyballs, dropped balls, bad angles, etc). They basically said at this point he is a defensive liability.

      • He was VERY good in us early career… But he’s lost speed and I think he’s lost concentration out there. Same with Joey V out there. Susrez’s problem is just a lack of fielding talent … In addition to a poor bat! We have holes in very nearly every position.

      • That’s certainly a common issue. Younger players will be able to mask poor fundamentals through their athleticism. I always felt Drew Stubbs was an average CF who took bad routes to the ball, but his speed made him look good.

  7. “Lamb in rare form.” Cute Steve, I guess you would usually say Lamb well done.

    • It was basically his best performance as a Red, compared to his others it was rare indeed.

  8. In the 9th inning when Cabrera walked, I wondered how Price made up his mind which of his dynamic duo of subs, Peraza and Holt, would pinch run and which would bat.

    What was needed in that situation was a guy who might run into one for a HR, not a couple of pop gun basically powerless speedsters. Nearly every team has one power bat on its bench; many have one from each side of the plate. However, the Reds persist in believing it is better to have an “extra” pitcher on the MLB club while Steve Selsky who fits the mode of a career bench guy with some pop continues to pound the ball at AAA.

    • Schebler was going well at Lville and Selsky is over .900 ops vs lefties. They should immediately move Duvall to RF as soon as they move Bruce and platoon those 2. Sit BP and play Peraza as well. Get Winker in the mix too at some point. No more Simon’s and Pacheco’s and guys just warming the bench with no future.

      • Why do so many folks want to mess with success by moving Duvall off LF? He supposedly was going to be a defensive liability because he couldn’t field the position at 3B. He’s turned out to be at least a middle of the road LF. With the exception of some spotty work at 1B he’s never played on the RF side of second base (possible reading the flight of the ball type issue). Let the those other guys you mentioned play RF till Winker is ready then put him in RF where he had been playing a lot this year as Duvall began emerging.

        • Duvall has a much much better arm then Schebler. I’ve never heard of Selsky playing RF so I’m assuming he doesn’t throw that well either.

  9. The Pirates are giving the Cubs a shellacking. Jon Lester didn’t make it past the third inning.
    They have troubles.

  10. We have numerous offensive issues that will continue to be exposed as our starting pitching gets better which it will get better,We also struggle fielding the ball as Suarez,Cabrera and Bruce showed today in addition we run the bases(Phillips again today)like little leaguers.Also was wondering why Cabrera wasn’t pinch ran for in the 7th rather then in the 9th.Yeah I know hindsight is 20/20 but Holt or Peraza score on Ivan’s double and of course if BP doesn’t try for 3rd you take the lead on the double.More and more we will be talking about these type of issues

    • No doubt. It seems that all of these little “non-executions” add up inning to inning, costing a run here and a run there. Then you look back and say “if only they executed the simplest of things.”

  11. I’m amused by all the speculation about the Reds’ reasons for doing something (in this case playing BP for no apparent reason) that doesn’t make any baseball sense. I’m amused by the idea that there must be a “good reason” (or any kind of “reason”) behind these kinds of decisions. This is the same team that had arguably its worst hitter batting third or fourth for several weeks Same team that thought it would be a good idea to hand $2 million to a washed up pitcher and then stuck with him for weeks after their mistake should have been obvious. There’s no rhyme or reason with this organization. They do whatever they feel like doing, and their “reasons” are nonsensical justifications of whatever their preferences and emotions happen to dictate at any given moment. We would be smart to stop trying to analyze them as if these are rational people trying to maximize wins.They’re arrogant irresponsible people who do whatever they please and then try to find some way to justify their irrational behavior with reasons that sound vaguely plausible. This kind of thing goes on throughout the business world. Irrational stupid people occupy high places and are too arrogant to notice how irrational and stupid their decisions are, and they’re surrounded by yes-men who either don’t notice or choose not to say anything. That’s why BP played today. There’s no point in looking for any rational reason.

    • You’ll get no argument from me about the numerous head scratching moments from the whole organization.

  12. Not a single mention of BP’s play today. How did he do? 2 for 4 but somehow Votto was stellar at 1 for 3 and a walk. BP also drove in a run. I guess we can praise Votto that his luck is changing considering he didn’t strike out.

    I guess BP has no good or bad luck right? Never gets mentioned so here it is being mentioned.

    BP has been the Reds best “contact hitter” since putting on a Reds uniform. Let me define contact hitter. A person who puts the ball into play instead of walking or striking out. BP does it better than Joey ever has because as Joey is looking for a walk he is also striking out quite a bit. Different philosophies for certain.

    • Maybe I just can’t read anymore but where did you see any praise for Joey Votto above? The point on BP is that this team is supposedly in a rebuild and BP is NOT part of that so why play him with a fracture in his hand when you have someone who IS part of the rebuild available to play second base?

    • Hmm random rant. I wish we had a team full of BP contact hitters. Then we would never have anyone on base and hit for no power.

    • More than a different “philosophy” it’s about producing runs.

      Career wRC+ (run production):

      Brandon Phillips: 94
      Joey Votto: 154

      League average is 100.

    • But there is so many different forms of contact. A pitcher wants these outcomes (actually in this order): swinging strike (on a ball not in strike zone), called strike (in the strike zone, obvi), swinging strike (in the strike zone), foul ball, weakly made contact. BP generates a very large percentage of these outcomes every at bat. He is a pitcher’s dream!

    • Your uninformed shtick is getting old, man…

      I, for one, am not going to praise two weakly hit balls that happened to find holes. But if you want to continue to think bat hitters are good hitters, go right ahead.

  13. Certainly looked like Lamb was making some very positive adjustments. No walks and lots of strikes. I was a little concerned about Price’s comments though, where he seemed quite unimpressed…basically saying I don’t care about strike outs I want wins. Really? Not commanding the strike zone has been his constant complaint. Just a hunch, but I don’t think he likes Lamb. Maybe Lamb was upset about being pulled after 80 some pitches.

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