Category Archives: Cincinnati Reds

Jake Arrieta No-Hits the Reds, and the embarrassment of a 16-0 defeat

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[Cubs 16, Reds 0]

If there was any hope left, it has now vanished. Good teams don’t lose like this; even over the course of a long season. You hate to pile on, but the Reds lost yesterday in completely embarrassing fashion.

It was a game that wasn’t even going to be played. People I know who are Reds fans were asking me if they were even going to get it in. Others didn’t attend the game even to see who I believe is the best pitcher in baseball at the present; Jake Arrieta throw because of the threat of a rain out.

And then baseball went and baseball’d the shit out of us all.

Arrieta went the full nine, walking four and striking out six. Kris Bryant hit a grand slam and a second home run, and the Cubs completely dismantled the Reds with 16 runs.

Arrieta is now 15-0 in his last 16 starts. Read that back. He’s automatic, a winner every time he goes out. This was his second no-hitter in like a half dozen starts. The Reds simply never had a chance. You probably heard about this. I didn’t find it very funny, or cute or anything.

The Reds; and Jay Bruce are sucking me in again

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[Box Score]
[Cincinnati.com]

The Reds have done this all before. They did this before it was too late; before the roster was pared down to the state it’s in now. This year’s 3-0 start after a 10-6 win to complete a sweep of the hapless Philadelphia Phillies today in the Businessman’s Special down at Great American feels so much like one year ago.

Except for one thing, you know these guys you love are on borrowed time. None more than Jay Bruce – and how unlikely was it at some points that we would ever do a post again about him having a multi-homer game in a Reds uniform? Bruce had a monster game today, rebounding from an error in right field that could have been a blemish on the day; Robert Stephenson’s big league debut as a starter.

His first home run was the type your friends text you about. It was an absolute monster shot off the M&M’s sign in right field that would have landed in the river in all likelihood if not for the sign. He would later add a single, and another homer to center for good measure to finish with five RBI on the day.

And although it’s bittersweet; although you know that the Reds front office would never allow them to compete even if this fairy tale start continues beyond the Phillies, there’s just something really nice about all this. To be able to enjoy it for a few days; to see guys like Bruce being the elder statesman for the Redlegs; it’s kind of odd and neat all in the same. As we get older – so do the rosters of our favorite teams. Nothing can last forever and there’s no telling how long something in baseball will last. You just enjoy the moment and file it away and remember on a given day that it made your day.

Phillip Ervin, the Reds latest-greatest hype & hope

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When the Reds selected Phillip Ervin late in the first round in the 2013 MLB Draft, I kind of hitched my wagon to this guy. I really wanted him to pan out and get some time at the big league level with the Reds because instantly, he reminded me of a guy I liked a lot as a big leaguer, Ron Gant. I loved me some Ron Gant.

Today, he hit his second home run of the spring and in just a couple games he’s hitting .636 so far. If this goes on a little while longer, people are going to begin banging the drum for him to make the big league club in a hurry.

Fangraphs had a recent write-up of Ervin that I thought was good:

Ervin has an awesome set of tools, with the raw arm strength, power and running speed any organization would covet. Yet, his actions at the plate look rigid, his first step isn’t the greatest and he most likely fits best defensively in left field at the big league level, though Reds officials maintain he can fill in at center. He has stayed on track to continue climbing the ladder with above-average offensive production at each level, but his tools need to start shining through in game situations for him to realize his potential for the Reds.

I like his chances of developing power to at least an above-average level, as he has the swing and strength to lift balls to all parts of any ballpark. He’s shown a pretty good eye at the plate, but unless his game power takes off, major league pitchers will be able to pick him apart by living on the edges of the zone.

His stiff body at the plate limits his hit tool and causes many of his hardest hit balls to be yanked down the left field line. He has made up for it so far with an excellent on-base rate and avoiding strikeouts reasonably well, but his contact quality has yet to progress. He should continue getting on base via free passes because of his power threat, though it needs to be backed up by better hitting to be reliable.

Despite already reaching Double-A in 2015, Ervin has both a lot of work to do, and yet a reasonable chance of raising his stock quickly with some smoothing out of his swing. His power and speed will give him an opportunity regardless, but what he does with it will depend on his offensive tools developing consistency against advanced pitching.

Here’s a good older post that lists comps for Ervin such as Alex Ochoa, Reggie Sanders, Ian Kinsler, Mark Kotsay, and what do you know; Ron Gant himself.

Checking those box scores each day which is usually meaningless this time of year when everyone starts out in camp has been just a bit less meaningless because of Ervin. In a sea of darkness, we have Phillip Ervin for right now.

This is what the Reds General Manager looks like

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When the Reds hired General Manager (teardown artist, wrecking ball driver) Dick Williams, I didn’t care to look him up. I didn’t want to know anything about him. He was replacing a mere figurehead who was collecting a paycheck rather than making the Reds a better franchise. And Dick Williams to me just sounded like a crusty old miser who would fit right in with what the Reds wanted to do.

Continue reading This is what the Reds General Manager looks like

The Cincinnati Reds are going to Trade Jay Bruce

If there was any doubt, because the Reds organization had been saying all along that they won’t move Bruce until the return is right; the word and truth is out that they’re going to move him for pennies on the dollar. They’re looking to simply slash payroll, like the owner said they wouldn’t under his tenure. Not that this should come as a surprise. First it was Chapman, then Todd Frazier; then they tried to move Brandon Phillips, now the final blow to the fan base. They’re absolutely going to trade the guy who hit the biggest home run in many Reds fans lives back in 2010.

So while Jay Bruce tells reporters it’s not going to be a distraction, while Bryan Price sheepishly says he won’t speculate on who will play right field in the even of a trade (and then he goes on to talk about how Duvall, Rodriguez, and Scott friggin’ Schebler have all played right field), it’s a foregone conclusion of what is going to happen.

The deal reported to be almost done only fell through because of Michael Saunders’ poor medicals.

I’m so disgusted with this franchise. It’s not that Bruce is a particularly great player anymore. No one who has watched him the past few seasons would argue that. But there was simply no reason to deal Chapman, Frazier, and now Bruce for poor returns in succession in the manner they have and will. Bruce will be gone by opening day. They could have allowed the fans a little more hope and kept them together until the All Star Break. They could have delayed it longer and just rebuilt around their core.

Instead, we’re going to see them enter a purgatory like 2003 to 2009. That’s unacceptable. There are organizations out there who avoid it.

I’ve already made the decision I’m not going to spend my money to see the Reds play. If an opponent is in town who I want to watch, I’ll buy a ticket. I’m not spending the money to see Adam Duvall and a bunch of young pitchers who won’t be around the next time the Reds are decent.

The Reds have operated like a true losing organization for the past half year. I’m fed up with it. We’ll have a longer post to come when Bruce is actually dealt.

Lou Piniella is back with the Reds

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I have to take my hat off to the Reds – probably their finest move of the entire offseason was the announcement yesterday that former manager Lou Piniella would be returning to the organization as a ‘special advisor’.

Now if old Pappy Piniella comes in and can light a fire under some asses and inspire the suits in the front office in some way, this is going to be a great move. If he comes in like some special advisors just to collect a paycheck in retirement and stay behind the scenes, then this will end up like Mike Holmgren in Cleveland.

When I was a kid, Piniella was the first manager I ever knew of. On the nightly news his tirades would get a few seconds of footage; berating reporters, throwing his closer through the postgame dinner spread or throwing bases and kicking dirt like the true winner he was. I love the guy like a grandfather. I’m really happy about this.

But forget him teaching Bryan Price anything. There couldn’t be any two men more dissimilar.

The Reds are sticking with Bryan Price

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Well, this is really bad news.

Walt Jocketty will do nothing as usual, announcing that Bryan Price will return as Reds manager in 2016. Price boasts about a .430 winning percentage in two seasons as the skipper of this downtrodden club.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. All hope for a better future, a way out, something to look forward to next spring; have just gone out the window.

I have nothing more to comment on the Reds at this time. They have amazed me.

Has Jay Bruce played his last game as a Red?

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Jay Bruce finished his 2015 season with 26 home runs, 87 RBI, a .226 average, and a .729 OPS. He was essentially a replacement-level player with an 0.1 WAR.

Reds fans are clamoring; actually begging, to trade him for a bucket of balls and move on. I have a feeling the Reds will oblige.

I am not sure what happened here. In all of my years following the game of baseball, there’s never been a more enigmatic player I’ve like and followed than Jay Bruce. It’s been said many times on this page. When he was good and on a hot streak, there was often no one better in baseball. But he didn’t have many of those hot streaks in 2014 or 2015 that pulled you in and made you believe. In about 1200 plate appearances over the last two seasons, he was a .222 hitter with a .695 OPS.

We just can’t defend it. It makes no sense when you look at the player that once was. And although Bruce never reached his peak that some (including us) expected, Bruce hit 208 home runs in a Reds uniform (and a couple in the postseason) and had a .780 lifetime OPS with at times, a gold glove caliber defense in right field.

He was a good guy in the clubhouse, and a remarkably solid guy off the field. He was durable, and fun to watch. If indeed the sun has set on our favorite Reds’ career, it’s been a good run even if it never quite worked out how we figured.

We just wish we knew what took place for things to get so corrupted here towards the tail end.

You cannot bring back Bryan Price, and the Reds won’t

When Ken Rosenthal reports something, I usually perk up and listen closely. He’s reporting that the Cincinnati Reds are considering bringing back manager Bryan Price in 2016; and I’m telling you right now that it won’t happen because it can’t happen.

This to me has possibly been the worst season in my 32 years of life. It has never really ceased to be depressing and sad and feels like the end of a really nice era. I have really struggled to write about my thoughts on the Reds – watching them for nine innings is enough of a challenge. I mostly want to pretend that they aren’t there. I think that falls at the foot of the manager. This is a business, and he’s fielded a flat team for the entire year. Last year deserved to be thrown out; this year the cement has hardened and you see that Bryan Price is a pitching coach who is in over his head in a managerial role.

The Reds have lost 93 games and it’s going to be a miracle that they didn’t lose 100. I know it’s been a year that has seen them set a record for most pitching starts in a row by a rookie. I know there have been injuries to Mesoraco, Cozart, Homer Bailey, Billy Hamilton and such. I know veterans like Jay Bruce have been numbingly inconsistent once again. But I’ve seen some bad Reds teams in the past – 2003, 2004, and 2005 come to mind – and those teams didn’t feel this lifeless night after night. They also weren’t as talented offensively as this group and yet they still managed their hot streaks. They still managed to score runs. Their rotations were also abhorrent; albeit there were veterans, but it wasn’t this slaughter march we’ve seen from the 2015 Reds.

It’s been a never ending nightmare highlight reel of Bryan Price; from the things you’ve heard about like him berating an annoying beat writer who was just doing his job to getting tossed handing in a lineup card in Cleveland before the game even began. He’s failed to generate any creativity or spark to get this team to go on some type of a run where you say, ‘yes, this guy can figure it out’. This isn’t a guy who leads.

The one caveat in Price returning would be that the Reds would probably keep the core together for one more year, but that is no guarantee. It would probably hold off a full rebuild, which I don’t see happening. I think you’ll see some veterans go with only Votto remaining for certain because he’s been productive and his contract makes him impossible to trade. If the Reds bring back Price, it will be the same brand of uninspired baseball next year that just makes you want to change the channel or do something else. Bryan Price has made me long for the days of Dusty Baker. That’s really tough to do.

On the other hand, if you could land a Barry Larkin who was a rumored candidate, you immediately create a spark and a guy who commands respect from day one. I have no reason to think Larkin would be different than how terrific first year manager Paul Molitor has been in Minnesota. That’s worked out pretty well.

We need new life, we need new blood, we need a change. Another year of Bryan Price will have fans like me feeling sick to my stomach. The Reds’ brass knows that, they’re smart. They have some market research telling them the disapproval rating of their current manager. If it’s nothing more than the many empty Red seats and lack of television viewership, they know. Bryan Price won’t be back in 2015.

Betting on Baseball Friday

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It’s late in the year, but there’s still opportunity. Opportunity to find something that matters in the game of baseball that makes it an event for a team that is seemingly playing out the string. You must find a game that stands out, allowing you to make sports predictions.

We have a good spot tonight for one of these games. A game that won’t get a lot of attention because it’s between two poor teams. But when you have a nice lean because you think that it’s an event within a particular organization, it allows you to make accurate baseball predictions.

Brandon Finnegan is the centerpiece the Cincinnati Reds acquired in the Johnny Cueto trade. We’ve already seen them trot John Lamb out front and center to get him exposure as a starter. They’ve now transitioned Finnegan; who was in the Royals pen down the stretch last season leading to their World Series run, to being a starting pitcher. He’ll make his first career start in Milwaukee tonight against the Brewers opposing right hander Zach Davies.

The Reds are a Vegas consensus slight underdog right now (+103). It’s been a long season, but Finnegan will throw well tonight and give the Reds a slight uptick in their long season; a season that has seen them set a Major League record for most consecutive starts by a rookie pitcher; a record that continues this evening.

Take the Cincinnati Reds +103 tonight in Milwaukee.

Jay Bruce hits milestone home run #200

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Amid the trade rumors, and the slumps, and the hot streaks; Jay Bruce is carved in Cincinnati baseball history books now with an elite number next to his name. He’s ninth all-time on the Reds career home runs list, and last night off of Adam Kennedy he lined a line drive out of Petco Park to reach the feat. It was not a majestic tape measure blast; although he did hit the piss out of it.

The home run of course snapped one of those typical 1 for 21 Jay Bruce disappearance act slumps. If he could just eliminate those he would be a star. He would probably have the contract Joey Votto has and go on to continue to climb the all-time list. He’ll soon pass Eric Davis (203) and Ken Griffey Jr. (210) if he can get hot. There’s a good chance Bruce is dealt this offseason for no good reason other than the Reds want to trim payroll and ‘want more consistent production’ out of their right fielder.

It was the only game that the Reds scored in a 2-1 loss. Against Adam Friggin’ Kennedy. This has really been a tough year, I can’t say it enough. There has been little to no magic after that abbreviated hot start that saw them jump out to 4-0.

Last night I gave pause and thanks that Jay Bruce somewhat etched his name in stone as one of the best Reds ever; in the same way I feel that Adam Dunn was one of the best Reds ever. Of all the players who have crossed the white lines and worn the Reds uniform, the guy has hit more home runs than most of them. That’s to be commended.

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Mike Leake traded to the San Francisco Giants

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Another Jenga piece of the Reds roster tower is pulled out of the toppling fray late tonight – Mike Leake has been traded to the San Francisco Giants for some minor leaguers.

I never really liked Mike Leake. Heard some things about him snubbing an underprivileged kid down at the park when he didn’t need to, then he stole the tee-shirts, then he blocked us on twitter for ribbing him in good nature about it. And he lost game four of the 2012 NLDS at home with a flat performance. We never really forgave him for any of that.

That said, he’s a solid big league pitcher. He profiles to be even better in San Francisco than he was in Cincinnati, where he went 62-47 with a 3.87 ERA, 701 strikeouts to 260 walks since being the 8th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 draft. His best year was 2013 when he went 14-7 and 3.37 ERA.

He’s really a durable guy who will use that big ballpark and have success. He doesn’t miss starts, and can go the distance any time in a ballgame when he’s on.

Seeing the roster dismantled this time around is really hard. Even to see Mike Leake go, even a guy we aren’t fond of. It’s a changing of the guard. This is brutal.

One More for the Core

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If the Reds are torn apart sometime in the next 48 hours with key members of this core from the playoff run stripped from the roster and fan base, then let it be written that the Redlegs went into the sea of red that is St. Louis and shut out the best team in baseball for the second night in a row, winning 1-0.

Jay Bruce hit his 17th home run of the season off a very good John Lackey, and Aroldis Chapman locked down his 21st save of the season.

It was so baseball. These guys going out and in the midst of all kinds of rumors that have them shipped all over teh globe; they go out and play a sound game to beat a much more sound team.

Anthony DeSclafani threw seven shutout innings and improved to 6-7 on the year. The Reds collected just two hits.

And maybe; just maybe, this is the type of win that tells ownership it’s not time to let the sun set on this group yet. Maybe they look towards next year and aggressively decide that by adding a key arm or two to the rotation, they’ll have the lineup to attempt to make a run at things.

But if not – if they do decide to sell off these guys who were being rumored in deals before the game started tonight – it was perhaps one last signature win to remember them by. It’s the kind you don’t forget.

So Long, Johnny Cueto

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And so ends an era. Johnny Cueto was traded to the Kansas City Royals today for three pitchers; the most notable being Brandon Finnegan.

It’s funny – we had this blog going when Cueto began his Reds career. They were coming out of the darkness, over a decade of futility. You knew you were on the ride up. Today, it’s like the organization admitting that this current core and guys on the 25-man roster will never win a title or play in a World Series. I mean, it was official before today of course. But this makes the probability meter of that ever happening absolute zero.

Right down to the very end; right down to his very last start as a Red, Johnny Cueto was awesome. We kind of eulogized him after his gem in Washington a few outings ago. The bottom line is he’s the best homegrown pitcher the Reds have put in a uniform since Mario Soto. Who knows when we’ll have another true ace like Cueto or how it will go when it happens. I may be a very old man.

It’s really hard saying goodbye to the players you love, the players you’ve grown so attached to. The players you’ve spent so many evenings in your living room living and dying with through the eb and flow of a baseball game and season.

While the Reds prepare to mire in obscurity, Cueto will write a new chapter and start more games in the postseason and probably reach incredible heights yet in his career. The book on this chapter has sadly closed. I’ll really miss Johnny Cueto.