O Captain! my Captain! our summer trip is done,
The team has weather’d every series, we sought fourth place and won,
The playoffs ne’er, the bells I hear, far from Cincinnati,
While follow fans the ballclub still, 150 years in the Queen City;
                         But O Geno! Joey! Sonny!
                            Wear the jersey which bleeds red,
                               But left on deck, October baseball lies
                                  Until 2020 it’s said
— Wes “Walt Whitman” Jenkins

Despite the Civil War-era reference and the presence of the Pirates, there was no fighting in this final game of the season. Maybe the loss of the Pirates general, Clint Hurdle, before the game neutered their especially pugnacious nature. Or maybe one last game between a fourth and fifth place team just didn’t mean that much to anyone involved.All I know: This season had to end in Pittsburgh. Even though the Reds 2019 will be defined on paper by the lackluster offense and stellar pitching, the thrust of the season has always been the storylines of the Reds playing the Pirates. Derek Dietrich’s heroics in game 1. The beanball wars that followed, culminating in Yasiel Puig’s final act as a Cincinnati Red: Fighting for a team he no longer played for and receiving a standing ovation as a result.The end of baseball season always lends itself to poetry. Maybe it’s the spreading summer heat crisping along the edges into the more reflective fall. Or maybe it’s just that ends are so final, so non-negotiable that poetry feels like the only way to turn the last fleeting moment into an expanse of time.

I know for the last month or so, I’ve been apathetic toward the Reds, engaging with them as nothing more than background noise to the other mechanisms of life. But as the various September call-ups cycle through the batters box, taking one last cut, I can’t help but wish this team, this horribly mediocre team, would just keep playing until the snow started falling and the logistics of finding a white ball in a pile of fluff became impossible.It’s been a long road, but compared to recent years, it was rarely dull. Until the summer starts anew.

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates (69-93) 1 5 0
Cincinnati Reds (75-87) 3 6 0
W: Mahle (3-12) L: Williams (7-9) S: Iglesias (1)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Statcast| Box Score | Game Thread

THE GOOD

— After a horrid outing last time, Tyler Mahle bounced back in a big way, throwing 5.0 innings of three-hit, shutout baseball. Mahle also struck out five in the effort.

— After an especially quick 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first, Aristides Aquino got the Reds on the board first in the top of the second with his 19th home run. Think about that: 19 home runs since August 1. Aquino added two walks as the game went on, a rash of patience that we haven’t seen from the rookie this September. As we look to 2020, Aquino will be a make-or-break piece of that team and more patience at the plate is encouraging.

— Brian O’Grady extended the Reds lead with a solo shot of his own in the top of the fifth. My internet cut out right before O’Grady hit this one, so I have to assume it was long, majestic, and the best home run anyone has ever seen. Luckily in the intervening ten minutes it took me to walk to the Starbucks up the street, nothing of interest happened.

— Alex Blandino would love to have another crack at 2019 I’m sure. Even if this season is in the rearview for him, Blandino did get a couple more at-bats and took advantage, sending an opposite field solo shot for some Reds insurance.

— Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen finished off the final two innings of this one with scoreless frames. Really, those two and Raisel Iglesias are the only confirmed bullpen arms for next year. The rest of the Reds success may depend on how many other changes are in store.

THE BAD

— With a 2-0 lead and runners at second and third, Kyle Farmer couldn’t quite get the job done to add more. Farmer popped out to first base stranding Eugenio Suarez, who walked, and Josh VanMeter, who doubled.

— In the top of the next inning, Amir Garrett walked a batter who then moved to second on a wild pitch, third on a hit, and home on a sacrifice fly. Repeat after me: Walks will haunt.

— Eugenio Suarez — O Captain, my captain — was not able to hit his 50th home run of the season today. A spectacular run of a 2019 season comes just one dinger short. Here’s to next year, with Geno hitting 50 and the Reds making it to October.

NOT SO RANDOM THOUGHTS

— 75 wins! SevENty-FIvE WinS!!! 7! 5! And guess what?! The No. 12 pick in the draft! Oh, how I love mediocrity.

— Truly, this is such an incredible image. Hang it in The Louvre. Or at least outside The Louvre. Or maybe just have Derek Dietrich drop it into the Allegheny. That works too.

— The Reds made some coaching changes of their own today, most notably parting ways with Billy Hatcher. It’s been weird not having Hatcher in the coach’s box this year as he had been for nearly the entirety of my Reds-watching life. But the moves are for the best and part of the Reds new way forward. Onward 2020.

— Last but not least in NL Central coaching changes: the Cubs dismissed Joe Maddon before today’s game. In a season that started with PECOTA projecting the Cubs to underperform, the Cubs starting the season hot with a lot of performative outrage, and then subsequently underperforming, Maddon’s exit might be the most telling nail. The Cubs of 2016 are no more. What briefly felt like a dynasty now just looks like the start of another 108 years. Cubs gonnna Cub after all.

— COINCIDENCE???? Probably…

UP NEXT

Playoffs start Tuesday. I’m passively cheering for the Twins I guess? Braves-Twins would be fun. Just please, no more Dodgers in the Series. I beg of you.

54 Responses

  1. Phil Gasson

    Maybe 2nd ballot HOF. Great year Joey!!

  2. Jon

    Let’s just hope that once the World Series ends, that the Reds are mentioned early and often in connection with free agents and trade rumors. More importantly, let’s hope they actually land two or three major upgrades.

    • Colorado Red

      Yup, I would like to see that.
      yasmani at a minimum.
      Need some BP help.
      Like Aquno in right.
      Need help at short, but not sure Didi is any better then what we have.

  3. centerfield

    Microcosm of the 2019 season, 3 runs, 3 solo home runs. The Reds need to find a way to produce more situational runs in 2020.

    • Roger Garrett

      Long balls are great but Reds struggle to get men on base which has to change and if it does then watch out.Only 3 guys that will take a walk in Joey,JVM and Winker.Just have to do better.

      • Mike

        The Reds seem to be a team of folks only interested in personal stats not team wins. Sad really.

  4. JB

    If Bell stays Turner Ward needs to be the next person to be let go.

  5. Sliotar

    Wes wrote: “What briefly felt like a dynasty now just looks like the start of another 108 years. Cubs gonnna Cub after all.”

    C’mon.

    If there has been a constant among RLN writers in 2019, it’s been the under-rating/underestimation of other teams.

    -Cubs have Baez/Bryant/Contreras at age 28 next season
    -They are shedding $60 million in expired contracts
    -Moving broadcasts to new TV network Cubs share ownership in.

    The Cubs missed the playoffs, but the Reds are starting the off-season 4th in the divsion on paper, with plenty of work to do.

    • Mason Red

      The Cubs will be in the playoffs again long before the Reds. There is no comparison between the two franchises. I know there are those celebrating the Cubs September meltdown and their underachieving but they have already done something to rectify that. That’s a good franchise being proactive as opposed to setting on their hands doing nothing or envisioning yet more waiver wire pickups.

      • Still a Red

        I don’t think Wes was making any comparison between the Cubs and Reds. Also, I remember loads and loads of people on this site clamoring for Maddon or a Maddon-like mgr. You got one trying to emulate Maddon (note I’m not comparing Bell to Maddon, just saying he’s trying the same tactics) and Maddon’s stock seems to have dropped in value.

      • Mason Red

        It wasn’t a comparison but more about being delighted about the fate of the Cubs. Maybe it was enjoyable watching the demise of the Cubs but my point was they are way ahead of the Reds. As far as Maddon he would be a great upgrade but his talent would be wasted here as would any outstanding manager.

      • jim walker

        I don’t see the logic in saying Cubs are “way ahead” of the Reds at this point.

        The Reds just won the season’s series against them 11-8.

        Overall the Cubs ended up with 9 more wins than the Reds which seems like a lot but; as the games are played, that’s only a 5 game swing for each of the teams across 162 games from the Reds having a better record. Reds win 5 more; Cubs lose 5 more; and, the Reds are a game better than the Cubs.

        And now the Cubs are looking for a new manager.

        So yeah, the Cubs were better than the Reds; but, way ahead? Not too sure about that.

      • Mason Red

        I was talking as an organization as a whole. Without question they were underachievers this season and last season too. That’s not the fault of the manager but he took the fall which is commonplace. I’m more than willing to bet that the Cubs make the playoffs before the Reds.

    • Matt WI

      FWIW, there is more than just a little talk about the idea that Bryant gets moved in Chicago media. I don’t see it, but who knows what they’re thinking.

      • Optimist

        The story was Bryant is carrying a grudge about the service time games the Cubs played at his callup – was discussed here about Senzel’s situation.

        That said, the Cubs current FO and ownership are willing to do what needs to be done – they’re clearly in the group with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers in that category.

  6. Shchi Cossack

    The 2019 season is in the books. The Old Cossack just finished listening to DB’s self-promoting ‘interview’ after the game. Color the Old Cossack unimpressed. I don’t believe DB learned anything from his 1st season as a MLB manager that will positively impact his performance next season. I wanted DB to be the manager the Reds desperately needed when he was hired and reports surrounding his hiring provided hope that the Reds organization had turned a sharp corner in it approach to hiring for key baseball ops positions. Alas, that appears to have been a pipe dream.

    Kudos to the Pirates and Huntington for cutting ties with Hurdle. Hopefully the Pirates will now focus on playing baseball rather than dodgeball.

    The 2019 offseason has begun for the Reds organization. Although there are innumerable offseasons from the Old Cossack’s past and the Old Cossack’s memory is admittedly faulty at best, I cannot remember a more critical and pivotal offseason over the past 60+ years. If the Reds fail to provide a competitive team in 2020 with an ongoing model for future competitiveness, I feel the fanbase for the Reds will experience a wholesale and irretrievable loss.

    • BK

      I think fans naturally over emphasize the role of a manager/coach. There are countless data points that we never see. However, what I saw was a manager that lost his composure at a record pace. Likewise, our players seemed to lead the league in arguing balls and strikes with the umpires. Scapegoating the umpires is a distraction from taking responsibility for a failed at bat and runs counter to maintaining a culture of healthy accountability. Culture is the manager’s top priority.

  7. Shchi Cossack

    The biggest baseball news for the Reds was the organizational response to the personnel changes in the organization, reported by Bobby Nightengale.

    “We made some changes to department heads last year,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “Whether it’s scouting, player development, we just made some changes with some coordinators and coaches that we felt we had to make from a direction to just continually get better.”

    “At the end of the day, we’re an organization that has to build our talent through our minor league system, the draft, international (signings),” Krall said. “We have to maximize that. We have to figure out a way to maximize every aspect of that. That’s going to be a big deal for us moving forward.”

    • citizen54

      “At the end of the day, we’re an organization that has to build our talent through our minor league system, the draft, international (signings),” Krall said. “We have to maximize that. We have to figure out a way to maximize every aspect of that. That’s going to be a big deal for us moving forward.”

      Um maybe stop trading farm pieces for 1-1.5 year rentals then?

  8. RedNat

    Any chance The reds go.with Maddon next year instead of Bell?

    • Matt WI

      If I’m Maddon, I’m buying a condo in San Diego and taking that job. Good talent brewing, but even better weather.

      • steven ross

        To say the weather in San Deigo is even better is like saying water is wet.

        Ever been to SD? Almost every day is nice. Don’t forget, Bruch Bochy has a home there too.

    • TR

      With two years to go on Bell’s contract, highly unlikely. Perhaps next year if 2020 is a repeat.

  9. BK

    I would count Garrett as a solid bullpen piece along with Lorenzen. Stephenson, and Iglesias. In fact, probably more secure than Iglesias who I could easily see the Reds moving.

    • Mike

      Something changed with Garrett after his suspension. He is just not the same. He almost looks like something is hurting to me. He seems to be flexing his back after every pitch and is finishing each pitch straight up. He seems to have lost some of his control. Walks are killing him.

  10. Seadog

    David Bell is not the answer. Nor will he ever be the answer. Reds need a “hammer”

    This team has been way “under managed” this year. Nobody stood up to Joey. Nobody. They have the talent/players. This team is actually 1 pitcher away from having the best Rotation in the NL. Only one. Think about that—Gray/Castillo/Disco/Bauer. Look at that rotation for 2020. Wow.

    What this team needs is a Lou Pinella. Just sayin.

    • jim walker

      Sometimes “the hammer” has to come from within the ranks of the players to be effective; and, I think that is even more true now than in the past.

      I read an article Sunday about the Cubs demise in which Daniel Descalso was quoted as saying part of the Cubs fall off had been due to the loss of a couple leaders with edge from the clubhouse. He went on to say all the current clubhouse leaders were “lead by example” guys and what they lacked was 1 or 2 guys not afraid to get folks’ faces.

      • TR

        I would have thought clubhouse leadership would have come from Votto but, apparently, the necessary ‘edge’ is not a part of his personality, except for chatting up opposing players on 1st. base.

      • Scott C

        I agree with that assessment Jim. Unfortunately I don’t see anyone on the current roster that fits that role. Joey seems to be respected and listened to by some, but this is more those guys coming to him. Eugenio is well liked it seems but he doesn’t seem to be the get in your face type of guy. Winker and Senzel are both young and there is not much else there.

      • TR

        I would hope the Reds will acquire a centerfielder with the necessary athletic skills plus leadership qualities in the clubhouse. Of course, I know that’s asking too much.

    • Mike

      I thought that I had read somewhere that Riggleman tried the old school hammer type management style and the player really disliked him for it. I could be wrong on that. At the time I was glad that they didn’t bring Riggs back. That was before I saw what Bell brings to the table. I would take Hurdle over what we have….

      • greenmtred

        If the Reds hired Hurdle, I’d stop being a Reds fan. We’re speculating. We don’t know how these guys relate to each other or who has what sort of leadership qualities. If the Reds had better players, they’d play better and we’d all think that somebody was providing clubhouse leadership.

    • greenmtred

      Why did somebody need to stand up to Joey? It’s legitimate to get in somebody’s face for lack of effort, but I doubt that anybody works harder on his craft than Joey. And who on the team could give him batting tips with a straight face?

      • Matt WI

        Thank you. And Joey has been on the record as being acutely aware that he did not have a good season. He owns it. The idea that he needed “yelled at” is preposterous. Does someone really think Scott Rolen would have improved Joey Votto’s batting average?

        Also, this is the same Joey Votto that is well known for swearing and expressing disgust after a bad at-bat.

        Now, if “standing up to Joey” means dropping him in the batting order… ok, maybe we’re ready to start that line of thinking. But it is far from a poor decision to let a player of his magnitude of plenty of lattitude.

  11. Scott C

    I don’t think the 75-87 record surprised most people, it is about where most of the informed prognosticators predicted they would finish. Give or take a game or two. I personally thought they would get closer to 80 wins and even possibly break 500 and given the number of 1 run and 2 run losses that number was not that far off.

  12. RedsFan11

    Everyone says its all about the long ball these days so lets take a look at the Reds top 5 home run and rbi producers this year:

    1) Suarez – thank the heavens we have one good player
    2) Puig – Hasn’t played here in two months
    3) AA – Has only played here two months
    4) DD – Hasn’t hit the ball out of the infield since May
    5) Votto – 600+ PAs and only 47 RBI as your #2/#3 hitter all year

    2020 needs a lot of work

    • greenmtred

      People do say that it’s all about the long ball. I wonder, though, what the Reds’ record would have been if they’d had more guys on base for some of those long balls? They did set a franchise record for homers this year.

      • Matt WI

        Agree green… despite setting a club record, the Reds offense was decidedly not that good in any area. We need to think about them in relationship to the other team– because EVERYBODY was mashing that juiced ball this year.

        If you look up team OPS, in the top 10 you’ll find 7 of the 10 playoff teams and only the Red Sox weren’t “in it” at the end out of the others.

        If you look up by OBP, in the top 10 you’ll find 7 playoff teams again.

        Reds sit at #22 for OPS and #21 for SLG and #22 for team OBP. Unsurprisngly, that’s pretty much the reason the Reds weren’t a very good team.

    • Broseph

      Suarez did hit a lot of bombs, but he had even more strikeouts. In fact, he won the MLB crown this season with 189 walks to the dugout.

      Suarez is decent, but he could be great. Do you think Votto would ever have a season with OPS below .950 if he hit 30+ HR, much less nearly 50?

      All or nothing gets you a 75 win season, because as others have said, this team set a HR record with a top 10 pitching staff and still found their way out of the playoffs.

  13. Jim t

    The reds finished about where I expected. Had Wood been healthy for the season they may have won a few more games. They have some pieces to work with in the rotation and Aquino skills will play well in GABP. Jose Garcia and Tyler Stephenson will hopefully continue to grow and be ready in 2021. I think we need a CF that will enable Senzel to move to 2nd. That would improve our line up and help our defense.

    • TR

      Centerfield is too important a position to not make it a priority in the offseason. Senzel belongs in the infield.

      • Jim t

        TR is we could find a CF’er in free agency that can hit and defend it would balance out our defense and help offensively. Moving Senzel to 2nd makes a lot of sense.

  14. AirborneJayJay

    Raisel Iglesias with a record of 3-12. Tyler Mahle with a record of 3-12. Turn these two positions around and it could be a different story in 2020.
    Trade Iglesias this winter.
    Give Mahle the Stephenson treatment in 2020 and send him to the bullpen for 1 year. And regarding Stephenson, give him the inside track to the #5 rotation spot, put him back in the rotation.
    This is a big off-season for pitching coach Derek Johnson. Last winter was rushed to get a pitching staff in place and other things in place for spring training. This winter will be all about getting better in areas of need. Mostly, the bullpen. But the established pitchers will have new grips on pitches to learn or new pitches to learn. Some have command issues to work on, better efficiency.
    I don’t think there will be any doubt that Bell will carry an 8 man bullpen in 2020 with a 26 man roster.
    I think Bowman and Kuhnel are going to be an important RH bullpen pieces in 2020.
    On the LH side Cody Reed and Amir Garrett are going to be important for the Reds 2020 bullpen. But they must go out and get a stud veteran LH reliever. The only one in free agency that fits that bill is Will Smith. So a trade could be envisioned on that front. Brad Hand from the Indians maybe? It will be hard for the Reds to carry a LOOGY in the bullpen next year. It is going to take some big cash, some good prospects, or some current younger players to fix the LH side of the bullpen. You would have to think that the Reds won’t keep all of Ervin, Winker, Peraza, VanMeter, O’Grady, Sims, and Romano going forward.

    • Bill J

      Think Winker would be better in the AL as a DH, less chances to get injured.

  15. AirborneJayJay

    To start the 2019 season the Reds had a payroll of about $126.7MM. The Reds had shed 7 players and their salaries by the deadline; Kemp at $14.75MM, Roark at $10.0MM, Scooter at $9.775MM, Puig at $9.7MM, Hernandez at $2.5MM, Hughes at $2.125MM, and Duke at $2.0MM. That totals just about $51.0MM.
    The Reds have 2 impending free agents in Alex Wood at $9.65MM and Jose Iglesias at $2.5MM for another $12.1MM off of the books. Those 9 players shed $63.1MM, almost exactly 50% off of the beginning figure of $126.7MM.
    The Reds have signed for 2020 JV at $25.0MM, S. Gray at $10.166MM, E. Suarez at $9.5MM, R. Iglesias at $9.0MM, and Barnhart at $3.9MM. That totals $$57.566MM for 5 players.
    Arbitration raises will be in store for T. Bauer to about $18.0MM, A. DeSclafani to $7.0MM, M. Lorenzen to $5.0MM, J. Peraza to $4.0MM, D. Dietrich to $3.5MM, and to C. Casali to $1.5MM. That is $39.0MM for 6 more players. That brings us to $96.566 for 11 players for 2020.
    Will Luis Castillo get an extension? He will be in his last year of pre-arbitration in 2020.
    Freddy Galvis has a team option for $5.5MM for 2020.
    The pre-arb players that will make between $560k to $1.0MM will account for about 13 players and about $9.0MM.
    That takes the 2020 obligations to around $105MM. Which doesn’t leave a lot of room to add a significant bat or significant bullpen arm, if the payroll is going to stay about the same.
    The Reds have some options. They could non-tender a few players to open a little salary space like Galvis, Dietrch, and maybe even Peraza and Casali. Or they could trade a few contracts like Bauer, Iglesias, Barnhart or the arb. eligible Peraza to open up some salary space.
    This is assuming that the Reds won’t increase payroll much at all above 2019’s $126.7MM.

    • RedsFan11

      Payroll tracker had the Reds 2019 payroll at $128mil, but the biggest point one Ive made before is that, that # is good enough for 17th in the majors, aka LEAGUE AVERAGE. If Bobby is going to live up to his words he needs to spend not $30 mil in free agency this offseason but $60 mil. That would put them right around 10th highest payroll and allow them to sign at least two solid bats and a pitcher

  16. AirborneJayJay

    Eugenio Suarez has been named the NL Player of the Month for September 2019. That is 2 months in a row for the Reds. Aquino was the August NL Player of the Month.
    A nice, albeit very small consolation prize to end the season on.