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Monday, May 19, 2014

McCoy: Reds: What’s wrong? Nearly everything

Two days that shook the Reds world.

Everybody bemoans the loss of both Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, absolutely a crushing blow to the middle of the batting order. But Bruce was not producing when he went down and Votto was not hitting for power or driving in runs before he went down.

After losing a slew of one-run games, a league-leading 12, four of their last five losses have been by 5, 11, 5 and 9 runs.

The offense is non-existent. On Sunday, they put the first batter on base five times in the first seven innings. In two of those innings they put their first two runners on base. Only in the first inning did they score. They were 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

...Fans want changes. That’s understandable. But there isn’t much that can be done. There is no help in the minors. Making a trade for one player isn’t going to help and at this juncture of the season it is difficult to make blockbuster trades.

Some believe that it is time to take a wrecking ball to the roster and start over, that the current core group has been together long enough to live up to expectations and there are no results.

That’s something that needs to be done in the off-season, if that’s the way the decide to go. And most of the core group is making too much money to tempt other teams to take a chance on making big trades. If they wanted to trade Joey Votto or Jay Bruce or Brandon Phillips or Homer bailey it would be difficult to shed their big contracts.

Other teams would love to pry Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon and Tony Cingrani from the Reds. But that’s their one strong suit right now, the one part of the equation that is more than doing its job.

So, for now, what you see is what you’ll get. And right now that isn’t very much.

Repoz Posted: May 19, 2014 at 06:26 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds

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   1. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 08:22 AM (#4709374)
Honestly, if they are going to lose, I'd rather they get crushed. The 1 run losses are excruciating.

Also, it is shocking that a team would have trouble scoring runs when its 2 best hitters are out, and their replacements are Chris Heisey (.587 OPS) and Neftali Soto (who?). There can't be a bigger dropoff in baseball from Joey Votto to Neftali Soto, even if Votto isn't "hitting for power" (ISO of .191, which is higher than Soto's slg%).

edit: I mean, seriously, how many runs can you expect a team to score when it is trotting out the following OBP:

.293
.286
.312
.327
.541 (Mesoraco, only 15 games played so far)
.328
.239
.120 (this is not a pitcher! This is Joey's replacement, Neftali Soto).
   2. SoCalDemon Posted: May 19, 2014 at 08:30 AM (#4709375)
Other teams would love to pry Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon and Tony Cingrani from the Reds. But that’s their one strong suit right now, the one part of the equation that is more than doing its job.


I feel like I see this logic a lot, and I never understand it. Isn't this exactly what makes these valuable trade assets, because they are excelling while not costing market value? Votto is valuable, but costs a quarter billion dollars. Chris Heisey is cheap, but terrible, so they are not going to get anything for him. I am not saying they need to trade any of the above players, but if they decide to trade major leaguers for other players or to improve the farm, its guys like Cueto, Leake etc that are going to get them good or potentially good players in return. Nobody likes seeing their good players leave, but at a certain point that is what may need to happen, no?
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 19, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4709419)
The offense is non-existent. On Sunday, they put the first batter on base five times in the first seven innings. In two of those innings they put their first two runners on base.


Hm. I don't think "non-existent" means what he thinks it means.
   4. smileyy Posted: May 19, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4709443)
So the Reds went all-in on Votto, Bruce and Phillips, and their pitching staff, likely overpaying in the future in order to take a shot the past couple years -- that window seems to be closing. They got Votto as right as you can get, Bruce was a good gamble, and Phillips kind of looks like an albatross.

They even got lucky with (lack of) injuries to their pitching staff a couple of years ago, but couldn't capitalize in the postseason.

The moral seems to be that not all gambles pay off. Could they have bet harder and filled in more holes the past couple years? I'm not sure they had the resources other than $$$.
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4709502)
Batting a .250 EqA guy at the top of their lineup can't be helping.
   6. PerroX Posted: May 19, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4709506)
It's Dusty's fault.
   7. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4709528)
Batting a .250 EqA guy at the top of their lineup can't be helping.


There is nobody else on this team suited for the leadoff spot. Billy Hamilton, last 28 days: .311/.344/.459. That .344 is higher than any other regular in the lineup right now (other than Mesoraco's 15 game sample).

   8. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4709540)
But why would we look at the last 28 days instead of the entire year, or his last 1,000 PA in professional baseball?
   9. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4709544)
Baseball Prospectus had him projected to a .233 TAv, and he's hit for a .235 TAv. Expecting him to continue at 311/344/459 is just wishcasting. There's no basis for that; it would be better than his 90th percentile projection.
   10. Lars6788 Posted: May 19, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4709572)
He's a young player and they are expected to improve regardless of the numbers they put up in the minors.

The improvement maybe marginal but it doesn't mean he's not going to get better through his mid 20's.
   11. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: May 19, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4709574)
Baseball Prospectus had him projected to a .233 TAv, and he's hit for a .235 TAv. Expecting him to continue at 311/344/459 is just wishcasting. There's no basis for that; it would be better than his 90th percentile projection.

This Fangraphs bit lists three projections for Hamilton, which range from 233/278/321 to 264/319/362. (His MLB career line as of this moment is 271/312/375.)

The Reds would just be following ZiPS is they think that he's really a ~319 OBP guy going forward, and that his terrible start to the season (170/220/234 through 14 games) represented some sort of adjustment period. A 319 OBP is no great shakes for a leadoff hitter, but it's within the error bars of what they can realistically expect from anyone in the lineup other than Votto and Bruce. Given Hamilton's skill set it makes as much sense to bat him leadoff as anywhere else.

We should note that BBPro's TAv ignores baserunning, so it misses Hamilton most significant skill.
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4709605)
Neftali Soto (who?)


Former third-round pick, hit 30 HR at AA a couple of years ago. He's nothing special, but he's no worse than any other AAA 1B/3B a team would call up as an injury replacement.
   13. PreservedFish Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:23 PM (#4709611)
Looking at the pathetic lineup the Reds have been using lately, I think I would probably also bat Hamilton leadoff.

The Reds have 3 healthy hitters that might be better than terrible - Phillips, Frazier and Mesoraco. I would go with:

1. Hamilton
2. Frazier
3. Phillips
4. Mesoraco
5. 6.7.8. Ludwick, Heisey, who cares?

That maximizes my best hitter in #2. Phillips is actually well suited to #3.

It's asking a lot of Mesoraco and Hamilton to hit up in the lineup in these important spots, but the alternatives are Heisey and Ludwick, who are not important to my future and are older and are not even necessarily any better. I would stick Hamilton and Mesoraco there and hope that they can keep their heads above water and grow into the roles.

Edit > all of these guys are righties, not sure there's anything we can do about that.
   14. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4709613)
Just by way of comparison, the Pirates' current AAA backup 3B is Brent Morel, and their current AAA backup 1B is Chris McGuiness. Neither is significantly better than Soto.

[Technically, I guess they also have Matt Hague, who has been splitting time between 1B, 3B, and DH. He isn't really any better than the other two.]
   15. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4709614)
Why does Hamilton "only" have a 75% success rate on steals, anyway? 15-5 doesn't seem to justify the mega-hype. Dee Gordon is 25-3.
   16. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4709624)
Why does Hamilton "only" have a 75% success rate on steals, anyway? 15-5 doesn't seem to justify the mega-hype.


Well, the hype predated the 75 percent. The hype was based on the 83 percent rate in the minors and a 92 percent rate in his 14 big-league attempts last year, numbers made more impressive given the frequency with which he was attempting to steal.

I don't know why he's been getting caught more frequently this year, other than the fact that major league players tend to be pretty good at making adjustments.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4709626)
I was just watched three videos of Hamilton stealing a base, the first three that popped up on MLB.com. Two were steals of third. In each case he he took a weird casual walking lead off the base and also took a longer look at the catcher, during his first step, than anyone ever does. He was safe both times, but one was a pitch in the dirt, and the other would've nailed him with a good throw. Very weird.
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4709633)
How is he at taking the extra base, per the numbers? I don't see the modular breakdown in AROM's stats in b-r.
   19. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 19, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4709660)
the reds are in a division that right now has some pretty good pitching. st louis, chicago and milwaukee pitching performances are all above league average. 22 of the reds games have come against division opponents and 15 of those against the teams mentioned. also 3 games against the braves and 3 against the padres. so that is 21 games against pitching staffs that are wheeling and dealing.

it is also true that the reds regular lineup was pretty thin once choo left. the middle infield guys can pick it but have not hit for some time while left field is left to the aged, injury prone and unproductive since 2012 ryan ludwick. you lose some of the guys who can hit and that pain is felt pretty fast.

no idea about the reds farm system. maybe there is some juice tehre to help out
   20. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4709686)
no idea about the reds farm system. maybe there is some juice tehre to help out


None. Nil. Nada. At least for this year.
   21. TDF, situational idiot Posted: May 19, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4709726)
If they wanted to trade Joey Votto or Jay Bruce or Brandon Phillips or Homer bailey it would be difficult to shed their big contracts.
Votto: I disagree. He's a bargain over the next 5 seasons, and unless he falls off a cliff (he might) his contract isn't unreasonable. It's a lot of money but there's a lot of money in the game right now; if he hit the market as a FA someone would offer him a comparable contract. Very tradable.

Bruce: $10M this year, averages $12.5M/yr over the next 3 (he'll only be 30 the final year). He hasn't turned into the superstar he was supposed to but he's also averaged 3.4 bWAR/yr over the past 4 seasons. Anyone would love to have him at that contract.

BP: Ugh.

Bailey: Ugh again, but at least there's a chance he can still turn it around.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 19, 2014 at 05:00 PM (#4709736)
21: agreed on all fronts though i suspect i am more positive about bailey. just think he's a late bloomer.

the phillips situation is squarely on management.
   23. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 19, 2014 at 06:02 PM (#4709761)
The Reds always remind me of the Diamondbacks, similar antiquated organizations. And the Diamondbacks have had far more talent rise through their system, so why are the Reds so much better? Three words, no self destruction. The difference in their results is stunning given how boneheaded & relentlessly critical Cincinnati media is, constantly pushing team to make dumb decisions, and how weakly pliable Phoenix's local coverage of Diamondbacks is.

I think Reds fans should look to the southwest and be grateful for what the team hasn't done.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: May 19, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4709762)
It's not a good contract but I wouldn't call the Phillips extension an albatross really. Including this year it's only $50 M. He was a bit below-average last year, has been a bit above-average this year. He's an aging 2B so could go pear-shaped at any moment but he's still durable, an average or better defender and a decent hitter for his position. The contract's probably even tradeable if they eat some money.

Basically, in today's game, nobody getting paid under $15 M can really be an albatross -- that's Adam LaRoche money. It can be totally wasted money of course and ten million here, ten million there and pretty soon you're talking real money.
   25. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 19, 2014 at 06:16 PM (#4709764)
The thing about Hamilton is while it's reasonable to expect his batting line to not improve year, it is also reasonable to expect more out of in his base-running.
   26. silhouetted by the sea Posted: May 19, 2014 at 08:01 PM (#4709822)
Before tonight's game Hamilton has been on base 39 times (32 hits, 6 walks, i HBP) and scored 19 runs. I don't know what the major league average is, but scoring half the time you are on base seems pretty impressive.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: May 19, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4709846)
Ray, you can find detailed baserunning under "more stats" next to "standard batting" on a player page. These are the raw stats, not in run terms. This year Hamilton has gone 1st to 3rd on 2 out of 5 singles (when he had the "opportunity", not clear how that's defined) and has scored on both singles while at 2B (7 for 7 in his career). He has yet to be on 1B when a double has been hit.

(It's reasonably clear from the data that last year he just ran pretty much whenever he was on 1B as he also was never on first when a single was hit.)

I've got to wonder about those data -- he's scored 19 runs this year but only twice from 2nd on a single and not once from 1st on a double? That's either a lot of scores from 3B (is the #2 batter SHing a lot?) or a lot of XBH behind him.
   28. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 19, 2014 at 09:50 PM (#4709871)
That's either a lot of scores from 3B (is the #2 batter SHing a lot?) or a lot of XBH behind him.


He's scored twice on Votto homers and once on his own.

The rest of the scores, other than the two singles scoring him from second, were from third. And a lot of that was getting there on his own (a couple of flyouts that moved him over, some stolen bases, a couple of wild pitches, one single and two-base error, and one first to third on an infield groundout). Only one sac hit.

But the run scored to on-base ratio went down tonight, with Billy going 2-3 with a walk, but no runs scored.
   29. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 19, 2014 at 11:09 PM (#4709909)
Thanks, Walt.

He was also CS tonight, to go along with a steal. So... 16-6 this year. 73%.
   30. boteman Posted: May 20, 2014 at 12:52 AM (#4709945)
I must not be a stats guy because I enjoyed tonight's tilt, up until the final out when the Nats lost. Both Phillips and Hamilton made ridonkulous diving catches that were sure to extend or win the game for the Nats; I yelled so loud that my next-door neighbor came over to see what all the shouting was about. Hamilton was mostly a royal terror on the basepaths.

There were a smattering of errors and boneheaded or botched plays to go around on both sides, but to see the Reds play tonight did not pass the eye test of a ballclub falling apart at the seams. Leake shut out the Nats through 6+ innings, then when the Nats tied it up in the 9th it became the usual grind of attrition to see who would run out of pinch-hitters and bullpen guys first. If anything I'd say the Nationals gave away the game more than the Reds won it.
   31. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 20, 2014 at 01:29 AM (#4709954)
They were 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position.


It's all Votto's fault. This guy is just not a run producer.

Oh wait, he's injured and they are still not scoring runs, WTF, where's Phillips? I thought Phillips was the run producer. I am really confused. Who's supposed to produce the runs?

Cueto? Red Sox say yes please.
   32. Walt Davis Posted: May 20, 2014 at 01:39 AM (#4709959)
Since Ray's circling around, maybe it's time to update Hamilton vs. Gordon vs. Campana, all career to date:

BH: 271/312/375, 28 R, 28/6 SB, 88 OPS+, .3 dWAR in 158 PA
DG: 266/311/332, 107 R, 91/22 SB, 80 OPS+, -1.3 dWAR in 852 PA (terrible at SS in 2012)
TC: 249/299/291, 64 R, 66/8 SB, 62 OPS+, 1 dWAR in 452 PA

Things looked better for Tony C not that long ago but the DBacks were silly enough to think he should play for a week or two.

Now, just cuz, Vince Coleman from 23 to 27:

261/323/329, 472/98 SB, 82 OPS+, -3 dWAR

Hamilton is getting enough triples to keep the ISO up and the K-rate may have stabilized around 17% (or may keep coming down or may explode). Needs to get some walks now.
   33. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 20, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4710117)
So, Stephen Drew is still out there... Would any team benefit more than the Reds if they were to get Drew? Get Cozart's rear to the bench, where he should be, move one of those never was guys on the Reds bench back to Louisville, add a real hitter to the lineup. Man, that would be awesome.

Also, while I am dreaming, I would also like there to be world peace.
   34. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: May 20, 2014 at 11:35 AM (#4710118)
Do the Reds make Hamilton do push ups every time he hits the ball in the air?
   35. Ron J2 Posted: May 20, 2014 at 12:24 PM (#4710157)
#10 Most people significantly overrate the likelyhood that a young player will improve. Mind you, most young players who don't improve never become major league regulars.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: May 20, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4710528)
I feel like I see this logic a lot, and I never understand it. Isn't this exactly what makes these valuable trade assets, because they are excelling while not costing market value? Votto is valuable, but costs a quarter billion dollars. Chris Heisey is cheap, but terrible, so they are not going to get anything for him. I am not saying they need to trade any of the above players, but if they decide to trade major leaguers for other players or to improve the farm, its guys like Cueto, Leake etc that are going to get them good or potentially good players in return. Nobody likes seeing their good players leave, but at a certain point that is what may need to happen, no?

Too late to address this but ...

Yes and no. The paradox is that you want young, cheap, productive players. Trading away the young, cheap, productive players that you have runs counter to that goal.

So, if you trade them, you trade them for prospects who you hope become young, cheap, productive players -- i.e. you trade young, cheap, productive players for players that, if you're lucky, will become as good as what you've got. Clearly a bad deal.

But if you don't trade them, they become older and some combination of more expensive and less productive. So clearly you don't want to keep them.

So it's like any other business. Yes, those guys are your only signficant assets. But sell off your assets and now you have no assets, at least in the short term. Then a few years from now you hope to have new assets but, even if you do, there's a good chance you're in the same boat where you still don't have enough assets. So you sell off the assets you have ...

This only works if you're Billy Beane and I'm not sure even Beane knows why his #### works in the regular season.

I don't really disagree with you but it's more a trade of present for future than a trade of asset for assets of equal value. Which you know of course. Still, when you look at the success stories you find a lot of key moves were trades of nothing for nothing. A lot of the Rays initial success came from Aubrey Huff for the 25-year-old AA Ben Zobrist. I don't remember, but I'm guessing the 22-year-old AA pitcher Mitch Talbot with the 9.6/2.9 K/BB was the real target in that trade. Delmon Young for Garza and Bartlett was also huge.

So it's still largely about recognizing who your assets really are and then getting lucky enough to find somebody who overvalues an empty asset and then getting lucky to have Zobrist go all Zobrist 3 years after you trade for him and then have Zobrist be willing to produce 4-6 WAR a year at just $5 M per year and then trade Garza to the Cubs for ....

In short, if Cueto is as good as he seems, it is very hard to win when you trade Cueto ... and a substantial image risk to do so until "forced" to by pending FA.
   37. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 21, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4710618)
This only works if you're Billy Beane and I'm not sure even Beane knows why his #### works in the regular season.


Really good scouting and/or development, probably. Same reason Pat Gillick's #### worked.

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