Results tagged ‘ Dusty Baker ’

Time for a Change

It is time for the Cincinnati Reds to a make a change. Dusty Baker needs to go.

On the heels of another postseason defeat, one in which Baker’s decision-making was quite questionable, this is the time to make a change.

Baker2Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty said that “He’s signed for another year,” but he also said, “we’ll sit down in the next couple of weeks and evaluate and try to see what we can do to improve things.” What seems like a vote of confidence is sort of a broad, vague, we’ll have to see type of statement.

Certainly, the Dusty Baker-era in Cincinnati hasn’t been terrible. The team has made the postseason three of the last four seasons, winning 90 or more games in those three seasons; however, in three of Baker’s six seasons, the Reds have had losing seasons. Does Baker have what it takes to get this club over the hump?

The issue with Baker is that he can’t separate himself from his players. He seems to enjoy being the cool dad figure in the clubhouse, focusing so much on the relationships that he overlooks the obvious. Like this:

The problem with this statement is that Baker can’t get into Johnny Cueto’s head. Does Cueto really thrive in playoff environments? I guess this is Baker’s proof: Cueto had started two games in the playoffs in his career prior to last night and he had a 1.69 ERA. The only problem is that he lasted all of 1/3 of an inning before he was removed from last season’s NLDS start against the San Francisco Giants with an injury, and his only other start was a five inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. Was Cueto the answer as the starter in the one-game playoff?  Nevermind the 130 days that Cueto spent on the DL this season. Nevermind that Mike Leake was available and he didn’t pitch on Tuesday, despite being 3-0 with a 3.28 ERA over four starts against the Pirates in 2013. Baker went with his horse, Cueto, who had pitched all of 12 inning since June 28.  It isn’t as if Dusty Baker is very aware of the use of statistics, instead flying by the seat of his pants to make decisions. “All I know is that my eyes see plays and see things that save games,” this was a quote from Baker when discussing Darwin Barney and Brandon Phillips as Gold Glove worthy second basemen from the Chicago Sun Times; however, his eyes didn’t seem to save him on Tuesday night.

 More importantly:

Bonds1Baker may be respected across the game for his leadership, but he has only led one team to a World Series, and that was in 2002, in his 20 years as a Major League manager. One could even question whether Baker actually makes any decisions that have led to success. After all:

Great players don’t always make great teams, but it certainly helps. Does anyone out there think that the Oakland A’s would have won the AL West this season with Baker at the helm?

Regardless of where Baker could or should have been, he doesn’t belong in Cincinnati going forward.

The Reds have a window with their current club, the 2015 season (after which Mat Latos, Cueto, Ryan Ludwick, Sean Marshall, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon are free agents) likely it, and after the club lost the final six games of the season, including the Wild Card game against Pittsburgh, while showing very little effort in losing twice to the New York Mets before being swept in a three-game series at home against the Pirates to end the regular season, it is fair to wonder if Baker has the leadership skills necessary to motivate the Reds to play hard and get over the hump.

When Ryan Ludwick questioned the fans and their effort last week as a way to spin the Reds’ apparent lack of motivation, saying:

“I might be be calling (fans) out. But I’m calling them out in a positive way. We want loud and energetic. It’s like a natural Red Bull. We need every positive aspect we can to keep this thing going.’’

You’re telling me that in the middle of a playoff race, men playing a game and making millions of dollars can’t motivate themselves? There was no one stepping up and saying anything to fire the group of men up within the clubhouse?

This isn’t just a one-time call as a Cincinnati native, overreacting to the failure of another lost season. This is a continuation of failures that continue to go unnoticed by so many. All of the times that Ryan Hanigan started over Devin Mesoraco. All of the times that the No.2 spot and No.4 spots were juggled. All of the times that Jay Bruce and Joey Votto were split up in the lineup because they’re both left-handed, instead of utilizing their skills back-to-back in the middle of the order. All of the times that Aroldis Chapman would pitch three or four days in a row and then not pitch for a week. It has been apparent for some time that this wasn’t working.

BakerThe Cincinnati Reds lack leadership and it all starts with the manager. Look how far the Cleveland Indians have gone this season with Terry Francona taking the reigns. Ignoring numbers and flying by the seat of your pants in decision-making leads to tremendous failure, and that is the way that 95-percent of teams have finished their seasons when Dusty Baker has managed them. While intelligent managers like Joe Maddon adapt to the changing game, Dusty Baker allows his teams to fade, he loses leads, and he has no true way of defining how he can make a difference as a leader. If you throw enough crap at a wall, eventually some of it will stick.

It’s time for the crap to leave Cincinnati. It’s time for an intelligent leader. Fire Dusty Baker.

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Billy Hamilton: The Answer…To All of the Questions

Hamilton1On Saturday, Dusty Baker was without his normal center fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, due to a recent thumb injury. His response:

Start the 25-year-old, speedster rookie…Derrick Robinson, of course.

Baker, long regarded as a player’s manager and lover of all things veteran, was just needing to “keep his bench bats fresh” as managers love to say. Unfortunately, starting Derrick Robinson on Saturday, an eventual loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, was not the answer, as keeping Robinson “fresh” hasn’t really been a priority – not when he has started all of four games for the Cincinnati Reds since August 1, getting all of 25 at-bats in 19 games.

ESPN’s Keith Law couldn’t have said it better, when he had this to say on Saturday night:

While Billy Hamilton hasn’t been playing regularly, just like Robinson, his ability to make a difference has shown up on the field plenty of times in just ten games and 16 plate appearances.

On Sunday, Baker made the right choice, starting Hamilton over the still ailing Choo against Pittsburgh…the Reds won 11-3 and Hamilton was 3 for 6 with two runs and two more stolen bases.

Hamilton has reached base eight times in two starts. He has stolen six bases, he has scored four times. The Reds have won both games.

Overall, Hamilton has been on base 12 times (including pinch-running) and he has stolen 12 bases and scored nine runs.

Not only should Hamilton have been starting over Derrick Robinson, it is worth questioning whether Choo should start in left field with Hamilton serving as the Reds’ everyday center fielder until he proves that he CAN’T keep doing what he has been doing since arriving in Cincinnati. Just for argument’s sake, Ryan Ludwick has scored seven runs in 32 games since returning from the disabled list (I understand that runs are a stat that require other hitters to assist in accumulating the statistic, but Hamilton’s ability to advance himself with his speed is a skill that can’t be matched in Major League Baseball at the moment).

Once the Reds clinch a playoff berth, you’ll likely see Baker resting all of his starters, which seems silly considering how “fresh” you’ll want his bat to be when games are so meaningful in the tight National League Central. If and when that happens, the smart decision would be to still put the best available player onto the field. Billy Hamilton was that player on Saturday and he very well could be that player over the rest of the 2013 season…if the club or manager were intelligent enough to make the right call.

Designated Runners: Why They Make Sense

Washington's only baseball card, and the only one with PR as a position

Washington’s only baseball card, and the only one with Pinch Run as a position

Billy Hamilton had his first official at-bats on Tuesday night in the Chicago Cubs’ victory over the Cincinnati Reds. He went 0-for-2, lining out and grounding out to short in his two plate appearances. So ends the saga of the relationship between the Reds’ speedy, future centerfielder and former Oakland Athletics pinch-runner Herb Washington.

Designated Runner

Herb Washington played for Oakland in 1974 and 1975. He appeared in 105 games over his two seasons with Oakland and never, I repeat NEVER received an at-bat OR played the field in a Major League game. Washington was nothing more than a pinch-runner. He stole 31 bases, he was caught stealing 17 times, and he scored 33 runs. In five postseason games, Washington was caught stealing twice and didn’t steal a single base or score a run. So much for running being the only part of his game. Washington was done with baseball at the age of 23, playing his last game on May 4, 1975.

Washington didn’t have any baseball experience before winning a World Series as a member of the 1974 A’s club. He was a world class sprinter, having won seven Big Ten track titles and breaking the 50 and 60-yard dash records several times, according to the ever useful Wikipedia. His last major highlight was really a low point, getting picked off in Game Two of the 1974 World Series by Mike Marshall of the Los Angeles Dodgers:

While Washington’s career didn’t really go far, what would happen if teams decided to use a roster spot on a speedy reserve for a playoff push, the month of September, or an entire season?

The 25-man Roster

Hamilton4From Opening Day through August 31, Major League Baseball clubs can only have 25 men on their roster, unless they’re playing a double-header when the club is allowed to have a 26th man. With a five-man starting rotation and eight position players, clubs tend to fill the remaining roster spots with a second catcher, versatile position players who can handle multiple infield and/or outfield positions, as well as six to eight pitchers in the bullpen. During these seven long months, it would seem nearly impossible for a team in 2013 to carry a player that would be a designated runner. Given the state of the modern-day bullpen, the need for left-handed specialists (LOOGY), long relievers, setup men, and a closer make roster management a very challenging science.

However, once the postseason rolls around and teams are desperate for runs, it seems more likely that a runner could be kept on a playoff roster. A lot of that has to do with the fact that three or four-man rotations are used without the short series that are played, allowing the teams to have a little more roster flexibility.

Billy Hamilton will be a lock on the playoff roster for the Cincinnati Reds (if they make the playoffs, which appears likely). His speed is absolutely game-changing.

The 40-man Roster

From September 1 through the end of the season, clubs are able to carry up to 40 players on their active roster. The players who are called up must be on the club’s 40-man roster, which occasionally requires tinkering to accommodate. During this time, teams are able to rest veterans and get extended looks at young players, while managers have extremely deep bullpens and benches. The ability to pinch-hit, pinch-run, or have a left-handed pitcher come in to face a single left-handed batter, are all increased during these times. Reds manager Dusty Baker has twice benefited from pinch-running with Hamilton, as the Reds were able to win two games just last week when Hamilton stole second base immediately after entering the game and scoring on a single by third baseman Todd Frazier in both cases.

What If…

Usain Bolt was signed by a Major League club…today.

The team wouldn’t be able to use him on the playoff roster since he was added to the roster after September 1, but how much could he help a team? He would need to be successful at a greater rate than Herb Washington was, but the Reds have won two games in September because of Billy Hamilton’s speed, but when every game counts, especially with five teams within three games of the second Wild Card in the American League, why not take a risk?

I have made the argument before about the need for relievers to be capable of pitching additional innings, like Mike Marshall did during his career, and with wins being important all season long, would it be worth a team carrying a speedy-only talent over an entire 162-game schedule? If the win is worth something in September, isn’t that same win worth equal amounts in April, May, or June?

Considering how dominant pitching has become, a designated runner seems like a useful, late-inning tool for managers. When extremely young starting pitchers like Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez dominate the opposition in the manner that they did in 2013, it seems logical to counter that dominance with speed. By utilizing players like Billy Hamilton, Jonathan Villar, or minor-leaguer Micah Johnson (who stole 84 bases over three levels this season) to steal bases and victories throughout the season, it could allow for fewer desperate situations in September as teams fight for single spots in the playoffs.

BoltWhy not Usain Bolt? He may be all that is needed for one win, and that one win could be all that is needed to play for a World Series title.


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Mesoraco: Finally Taking Off?

Since the All-Star game, Devin Mesoraco, the 25-year-old catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, has been electric. In eight games (six starts), this is what the product out of Punxsutawney has done:

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB BAbip
2nd Half 8 6 29 28 4 12 3 0 2 8 0 1 4 .429 .448 .750 1.198 21 .455
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.

Mesoraco2He has taken advantage of the injury to Ryan Hanigan by producing solid numbers as the everyday backstop; however, this hasn’t been the first time that Mesoraco has been given regular at-bats. Earlier this season, when Hanigan missed time due to an oblique strain, Mesoraco started 12 games. While he only hit .222/.294/.311 over 51 plate appearances, he only struck out 8 times and he was hitting more than Hanigan was at the start of the season (.079/.182/.079 in 44 plate appearances).

With Hanigan set to reach free agency after the 2013 season, it is likely time for Cincinnati to see what they have in Mesoraco.  After committing to him as the 15th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft and allowing him to develop, albeit slowly at times, to become the club’s minor league player of the year in 2010, the Reds have handled him pretty erratically since his promotion to Cincinnati. In 2011, Mesoraco played 120 games at Triple-A Louisville, while playing just 18 in Cincinnati late in the season. Mesoraco played in just 54 games in 2012, starting only 48 of those, while Hanigan and, eventually, Dioner Navarro, earned additional playing time, seemingly as discipline for Mesoraco bumping an umpire, which earned him a demotion to Triple-A on August 23.

Certainly, a six game hitting streak isn’t going to guarantee that Mesoraco is the next Mike Piazza. His .455 BABIP will likely fall back to a realistic level (around .300) and his overall line will fall back in line, as well; however, with the Reds committing so much money to Joey Votto and the need to eventually extend Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, and Jay Bruce, why shouldn’t they save some cash by letting Mesoraco, who isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2015, prove his worth? Hanigan, who is in the final year of a three-year, $4 million deal, will be 33 next season and could be a useful backup, considering the Reds don’t have any other prospects ready after including Yasmani Grandal in the deal for Latos.

Overall, the Reds are 31-21 (.596) in games started by Mesoraco and 25-18 (.581) in games started by Hanigan, but Hanigan does have more experience, because Dusty Baker actually plays him, with the pitching staff. In 2013, this is how the pitching staff has performed:

Mat Latos:

Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Ryan Hanigan 6 40.2 14 3.10 162 149 15 36 7 1 5 0 3 9 44 4.89 .242 .288 .403 .690 60
Devin Mesoraco 15 92.0 36 3.52 404 364 41 93 20 5 6 9 1 32 92 2.88 .255 .318 .387 .706 141
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.

Homer Bailey:

Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Ryan Hanigan 11 76.2 22 2.58 291 272 22 51 13 1 2 6 1 13 78 6.00 .188 .231 .265 .496 72
Devin Mesoraco 4 22.2 17 6.75 108 93 16 32 7 0 5 1 1 11 20 1.82 .344 .419 .581 1.000 54
Corky Miller 5 29.2 16 4.85 130 121 16 36 7 1 3 1 0 7 35 5.00 .298 .336 .446 .782 54
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.

Mike Leake (Mesoraco is his “personal catcher”):

Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Devin Mesoraco 20 128.2 38 2.66 529 482 42 123 18 3 14 6 2 30 78 2.60 .255 .303 .392 .695 189
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.

Bronson Arroyo:

Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Ryan Hanigan 14 90.2 33 3.28 370 344 34 85 21 1 12 0 2 17 51 3.00 .247 .285 .419 .704 144
Devin Mesoraco 6 42.0 14 3.00 167 160 15 39 6 1 5 2 0 6 24 4.00 .244 .271 .388 .659 62
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.

Overall, the Reds’ catchers have done an excellent job:

Pitching Stats
Age PA ERA
Devin Mesoraco 25 2014 3.17
Ryan Hanigan 32 1568 3.49
Corky Miller 37 293 3.88
League Average 3.77
Team Total 3875 3.35
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.

However, it is the running game and Hanigan’s skills there that have really set him apart:

Age PB WP SBO SB CS CS% SB2 CS2 SB3 CS3 RBA RK SBlev
Devin Mesoraco 25 3 18 749 29 7 19% 26 6 3 1 71 7 1.10
Ryan Hanigan 32 2 17 512 10 11 52% 8 8 2 3 46 13 1.06
Corky Miller 37 1 2 90 6 1 14% 4 1 2 0 10 2 0.92
League Average 29% 1.29
Team Total 6 37 1351 45 19 30% 38 15 7 4 127 22 1.07
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.

Mesoraco1To get a little more offensively, however, is it worth the risk of having a defensively lacking catcher? I say yes, and with experience comes the defensive gains that Mesoraco will need to make to become an elite catcher in MLB. While the success that he has had over the last week has shown that he has the skills to produce, it is a small sample size, and he needs more consistent at-bats over the second half to showcase the type of player that he could be for the Cincinnati Reds.

 
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2012 MLB Awards

The Second Annual Baseball Haven “I’m Always Right Before the Media Figures It Out” Awards are officially ready, just one day after the season.  These guys may not win the awards below, but they certainly SHOULD.

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

.330/.393/.606, 109 R, 40 2B, 44 HR, 139 RBI, 4 SB

Cabrera gets the award because he won the first Triple Crown in MLB since Carl Yastrzemski won it in 1967, AND because he carried the Tigers into the postseason in September and early October, blasting 11 home runs, driving in 30 runs and posting a 1.071 OPS in 31 games. He moved to a position, third base, to accommodate the acquisition of Prince Fielder. No one ever said that he would make a difference there defensively, but his .966 fielding percentage was still better than the league average for third baseman, .952. Sure, his WAR was lower than Mike Trout, but Mike Trout is at home and Cabrera proved his worth in 2012.

Honorable Mention: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers; Robinson Cano, New York Yankees; Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers;

NL MVP: Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants

.336/.408/.549, 78 R, 39 2B, 1 3B, 24 HR, 103 RBI, 1 SB

Posey led MLB in batting average and OPS+, handling catching duties and occasionally playing first base to give his reconfigured knee together after a devastating injury in 2011. Posey’s absence from the Giants 2011 season may have had a lot to do with their inability to make the playoffs after winning the 2010 World Series over the Texas Rangers. Posey’s transformation from a collegiate shortstop to a top-level offensive catcher has gone about as smoothly as anyone could have anticipated. Even while playing in an extreme pitcher’s park, AT&T Park, Posey is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.

Honorable Mention:Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates; Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves;

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers

17-8, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 238.1 IP, 239:60 K:BB

Verlander’s statistics in 2012 were not as impressive as his totals in 2011, but that doesn’t make him any less impressive. Verlander was the lone consistent starter for most of the 2012 season for the AL Central champion Tigers, and he scored a relationship with Kate Upton on top of that. The man is just a winner. The filth that he possesses rivals only Larry Flynt.

Honorable Mention:Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels; Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners; Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays; David Price, Tampa Bay Rays;

NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

19-9, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 217 IP, 170:49 K:BB

He pitches in an awful park for pitchers, he is on one of the best teams in the National League, and he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons, so Cueto deserves this award. While he doesn’t pitch in a major market and he did have a few stretches where he seemed to “lose it”, Cueto finally tossed over 200 innings, and, after suffering through a rough spot, he dominated late in the season. If you put the ballpark factor into play here, Cueto would garner many more votes. He should win, but it is unlikely thanks to the New York bias and the cool story that comes along with R.A. Dickey.

Honorable Mention:R.A. Dickey, New York Mets; Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds;

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics and Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

Who says you can’t share an award? These two managers deserve some sort of plaque and a key from their respective city’s mayors for the work that they did this season. With the high spending Angels and Rangers out west for the A’s and the Red Sox and Yankees in the east with the O’s, the teams found creative ways to maintain a solid group of players on their rosters through trading and drafting well over the last several seasons. As both teams head into the ALDS, thanks to Friday’s victory over Texas for Baltimore, this could only be the beginning for one of these teams.

Honorable Mention:Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays; Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox;

NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

With his All-Star outfielder banned 50-games for a positive drug test, his one-time ace, Tim Lincecum, posting a 5.18 ERA over 33 starts, and injuries to Pablo Sandoval throughout the season, Bochy managed to lead the Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. While you can question him for his lack of faith in Brandon Belt during most of the season, he seemed to make the right decision more often than not with his club.

Honorable Mention:Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds; Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates; Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals;

AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

.326/.399/.564, 129 R, 27 2B, 8 3B, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB

A WAR of 10.7 in his rookie season, which led the league, shows just how special Trout is going to continue to be. Having just turned 21 years old in early August, the future is as bright as a supernova, as Trout’s power, speed, on-base skills, and fielding ability will continue to make him a perennial MVP candidate. You can certainly argue that he should win the award this season over Miguel Cabrera, but due to the Tigers landing in the playoffs and the first Triple Crown in 45 years, it has to go with the Tigers chubby third baseman.

Honorable Mention:Yeonis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics; Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers; Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles;

NL Rookie of the Year: Todd Frazier, INF/OF, Cincinnati Reds

Frazier was a monster while the Cincinnati Reds went two months without their best player, Joey Votto. He finished the 2012 season with an .829 OPS was second to Colorado catcher Wilin Rosario amongst NL rookies…I see you thought I was going to say Bryce Harper there, but he posted an .817 OPS. While Harper energized his club upon his callup and had one of the best quotes of the year (“That’s a clown question, bro), it was Frazier’s bat and versatility that helped the Cincinnati Reds win the NL Central.

Honorable Mention:Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals; Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies; Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks; Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs;

Comeback Player of the Year: Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres

2011: .289/.374/.399, 43 R, 28 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 13 SB

2012: .286/.376/.498, 95 R, 31 2B, 2 3B, 31 HR, 115 RBI, 17 SB

Petco can put bats to sleep like the vets that work out of the back of actual Petco stores can do to your pet; however, Headley was one of the few bright spots for the rebuilding San Diego Padres, delivering MVP-like numbers for the Friars. At the age of 28 and with two years of arbitration eligibility, you have to wonder if the Padres are going to trade him this offseason for more prospects, especially after his surprising season and how often Headley’s name came up at the trade deadline.

Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees;

Reds Seem Comfortable in the Two Hole

Jeff Kent made a living hitting in front of Barry Bonds, averaging a .297/.368/.535, 29 HR, and 114 RBI line over six seasons.  Joey Votto is having the same effect this season for Cincinnati, as the player hitting directly in front of him have gone .356/.406/.576 line, as teams continue to pitch around Votto, who is tied for the Major League lead in walks with 13.

Zack Cozart is now leading off for the Reds after raking .350/.409/.575 in 40 at bats in front of Votto.  He isn’t doing well at leadoff yet, walking once but going hitless in his first 8 at bats.  Drew Stubbs moved up in the order to 2nd when Dusty Baker moved Cozart to leadoff.  He is only hitting .538/.571/.846, going 7 for his first 13 there.

Take a look at production by batting order for the Red thus far:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K BA OBP SLG
Batting #1 14 62 5 8 1 0 0 0 3 14 .129 .169 .145
Batting #2 14 59 10 21 3 2 2 7 3 12 .356 .406 .576
Batting #3 14 49 7 14 3 0 1 8 13 14 .286 .429 .408
Batting #4 14 57 6 9 2 0 1 3 4 9 .158 .226 .246
Batting #5 14 55 7 12 3 0 3 6 4 16 .218 .262 .436
Batting #6 14 56 3 13 4 0 2 13 3 10 .232 .283 .411
Batting #7 14 52 5 13 3 2 0 4 3 9 .250 .291 .385
Batting #8 14 49 4 13 1 0 0 2 6 6 .265 .345 .286
Batting #9 14 46 1 7 1 0 0 4 1 17 .152 .167 .174

Obviously, having performed well since the recent moves, the lineup may stick for a while.  If Brandon Phillips is hitting 4th between Votto and Jay Bruce, this lineup would remain one that fans can’t complain much about.  However, if Baker continues putting Ryan Ludwick or Scott Rolen in the 4-spot, when they’ve gone a combined 4 for 42 with 1 RBI (.095), this doesn’t make sense.  The Reds need Phillips healthy and he has been hampered by a hamstring injury most of the season.  He has a .333/.333/.667 line in just 9 at bats at #4.

If Phillips isn’t playing and the Reds want production, they need to bat Votto in front of Jay Bruce at 3 and 4.  Bruce has struggled to a .229/.250/.458 line in the 5-spot without protection behind him, striking out 13 times in 48 at bats.  Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were both left handed hitters and seemed to hit well batting back to back in the Yankees order in the late 1920’s.  I wonder if Miller Huggins and his three championships and six pennants had a book on how to put lineups together like managers today?

Not Red Hot

The Cincinnati Reds have made big news for the last few months between their big trade for Mat Latos and the huge contracts to both Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips.  One thing they are not in the news for, to this point, is their incredible hitting.  The Reds are currently 28th in the Majors in hitting, with a team average of .191 through 9 games.  Take a look at their hit totals for the year:

10, 6, 8, 3, 4, 14, 5, 5, 2.

Keep in mind that the 14 hits they had against the Cardinals on Wednesday, they left 13 on base, and the 10 hits from Opening Day had 9 left on base.  The Reds just aren’t scoring enough runs because they can’t get any hits.  They haven’t had the easiest schedule in the world with the new-look Miami Marlins, the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, and the improving Washington Nationals, but a 3-6 record wasn’t what fans and ownership was looking for as the team heads into win now mode.

You can’t blame Zack Cozart (.313), Joey Votto (.290), or Brandon Phillips (just 16 at bats due to injury to hamstring, .250), but just about everyone else could be labeled an issue.  Jay Bruce has 3 HR and 6 RBI with an .802 OPS, but he has 8 K’s in 34 at bats and a .235 average.  Drew Stubbs is at .147 with 12 K’s in 34 at bats, certainly not improving on his atrocious contact rate that worried the club last year.  Ryan Ludwick (.150), Ryan Hanigan (.118), and Scott Rolen (.111) round out the apparent regulars, while Devin Mesoraco (.167 in 12 at bats) and Chris Heisey (.188 in 16 at bats) continue to be youngsters losing out to the veteran loving, toothpick toting Dusty Baker.

Regardless of who is playing, it doesn’t seem to be working.  As the Reds looked to capitalize on the departure of NL Central foes Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the long-term commitments and trades developed expectations that, to this point, they have fallen well short of.  With such dynamic talent in Votto, Phillips, and Bruce, the lineup is capable of more.  The issue could be Phillips’ absence, the fact that Dusty HAS TO split up Votto and Bruce (and has done so with Scott Rolen and Ryan Ludwick in the clean-up spot), or it could be a challenging schedule.  Expectations are high and if they keep flopping like they are, fans aren’t going to show up in Cincinnati, and if fans don’t show up, they already need to start wondering about how they are going to be paying Phillips and Votto in the coming seasons.

Dust off “The Book”

More Dusty Baker fan mail via my brain…

Yonder Alonso started at 3B on Monday night against Philadelphia.  He played all 9 innings…he didn’t have to field a ball.  However, he did have to catch a ball thrown by Ryan Hanigan six times after strikeouts during the game.  Shocking.  I didn’t think he could play defense.  But…Alonso did go 0 for 4, so he deserves a couple of days out of the starting lineup…though, he did get two plate appearances after coming in as a DEFENSIVE replacement in the 6th inning, taking the pitcher spot in the lineup as part of a double-switch.  Tonight, though, he’s out of the lineup again.  Why?  Because Cliff Lee is on the mound.

Dusty goes by “the book,” you know, that old, out-of-date “how-to” guide.  Basically, if you’ve ever seen a Dummies Guide To _______ at your local bookstore, this is how you manage baseball games.  Yonder Alonso can’t hit Cliff Lee.  Three-Quarters of Major League Baseball can’t hit Cliff Lee.  Yonder Alonso CAN hit left-handed pitchers.  He has a .313 average against them this season at Triple-A in 112 at bats, but he is just 1 for 6 in Cincinnati, which is the same sample size that doesn’t allow Alonso to play left field more frequently, having just six chances there, too.

I am just a lowly blogger but I still know something.  Yonder Alonso is one of the best eight guys on the team.  If you won’t play him in left, where Adam Dunn and Jonny Gomes have played miserably over the last decade, why would you put him at third, a position he hadn’t played since high school?  It’s as if Baker and Walt Jocketty are doing everything they can to screw the guy up.  They are doing one of two things: 1) Over-managing and over-thinking things by using “the book,” or 2) saving Alonso from reaching 150 at bats so that he can win Rookie of the Year in 2012.  The Reds didn’t do this to Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn.  If it is about switching positions, maybe Votto should go to left, Pete Rose played five different positions that he was an All-Star at.  Votto isn’t moving though, because, as he says, Alonso hasn’t proven that he can hit Major League pitching…and Votto is a good first baseman.  Didn’t Albert Pujols play third again this season for St. Louis?  Isn’t Joe Mauer playing more games away from catcher?

It seems like the Reds have a lot of people who are more determined to do things “their-way” instead of what is good for the team and what the fans want.  The fans want a reason to go to the park.  A talented young player does that.  Apparently, ownership doesn’t care about that either.  That’s what has killed the Cincinnati Bengals.  I guess that is just how Cincinnati is.  As long as the bottom line isn’t in the red, it’s working.  Forget about the fan.  The choice of a few will continue to make the choice of the many, the fans suffer.  Just like government.  What a crock!

Yonder Alons…OH…he isn’t playing?

Another Reds rant because it is my blog…deal with it.  I don’t really care for Dusty Baker, if you haven’t been reading or you don’t know me.  I wasn’t a fan of his shenanigans in Chicago with the young pitching, I’m not a fan of his toothpick, and I am not a fan of his veteran loyalty.  With that being said, he was the luckiest S.O.B. on the planet last season, when everything he did went right.  It’s unfortunate because it gave hope to Reds fans.  This season hasn’t gone his way, though.  He forced the Reds to keep Ramon Hernandez at the trade deadline because he didn’t want Devin Mesoraco gaining experience in a playoff run…how has that worked out now that the Reds are 13 1/2 games out?  But that isn’t it…Now, Baker has really crossed the line and become dumber than any manager that I have ever witnessed in Cincinnati, even the one who gambled on games didn’t do things this STUPID.

Yonder Alonso is 24-years-old.  He is a first baseman long-term because he is not very fast, smooth, or any other desired adjective that goes along with an outfielder.  However, there isn’t a DH in the National League and Joey Votto has earned the right to stay at first.  Therefore, you HAVE to move Alonso.  Left field is the easy choice, especially because you have Bruce in right and Stubbs in center, but even more so because you can afford to have him there.  Baker can’t stand that Alonso has made some defensive mistakes in left.  Alonso has played 29 innings in left – 6 chances, 5 putouts…1 error.  How in the HELL are you going to judge the future of a player on 6 chances when you are nearly 14 games out on August 24th?  Alonso didn’t start either game in a double header today, clarifying his doghouse reputation that he has earned by making ONE error in left field in 29 innings and SIX opportunities to get an out.

Alonso can afford to make a mistake here and there defensively when MIGUEL CAIRO is hitting fifth at any point in a season for your team.  Alonso can’t afford to be on the bench when he is hitting .448/.529/.759 in 29 at bats.  It’s a small sample size but you’re going to waste your time putting Fred Lewis and Dave Sappelt in the lineup instead?  Sappelt is a decent 4th outfielder long-term, I don’t want to rip him apart, but Alonso is the real deal with the bat.

Look…if Boston could put Manny Ramirez in left field for 8 seasons with the Green Monster behind him, I think that Yonder Alonso can play left in Cincinnati.  Want to know who else played an UGLY left field?  Jonny Gomes.  He started 253 games for the Reds in the outfield from 2009 until he was given to the Nationals in July.  He played below league average defense there, posting 12 errors in those 253 games and a .985 fielding percentage.  The future of Cincinnati Reds baseball depends on the bats of young players and the arms of young pitchers that are developed in the system.  Walt Jocketty isn’t going to hand out a six-year, $120 million deal to anyone while the G.M. of a small market like Cincinnati.  Dusty Baker isn’t going to be here in 2013, but guess who is…Yonder Alonso.  Get his ass in the lineup, Baker – you and your career .985 fielding percentage aren’t one to judge someone else’s deficiencies in the outfield.

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