You’ve probably already heard that Chris Dickerson is still having back spasms. He was scratched from last night’s game. First question this brings to mind is this one:

Why do the Reds insist on carrying 13 pitchers??? Because of this ludicrous insistence on constructing a roster with more pitchers than hitters, the Reds had three — count ’em, 3 — players available on the bench last night.

—–

The next question I have is whether Dickerson’s problem is going to be one where they play it out day-to-day for 11 days, instead of putting him on the disabled list and getting some help up here. We’ve certainly seen Walt Jocketty do that several times this year.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pitcher sent out today (Carlos Fisher? Josh Roenicke?), with Drew Sutton being recalled. Still, I don’t think there is ever a scenario under which it is a good idea to have 13 pitchers on your active roster.

—–

Okay, former Red Todd Coffey. Last night, Chris Welsh said something interesting on the television broadcast as he was explaining Coffey’s improved performance as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Welsh said that Coffey was throwing a new pitch (I cannot remember for the life of me what pitch he said it was), and that the Reds absolutely would not let Coffey throw it.

So Coffey pitches poorly, the Reds release him, the Brewers sign him and let him throw that pitch…voila! He’s an effective reliever again!

Homer Bailey’s recent success (last night notwithstanding) has been attributed to the splitter that he began throwing at the beginning of June. Bailey and his pitching coach both said that he didn’t throw it before because the Reds wouldn’t let him (I know, I know, “injury concerns”). Finally, they said that Bailey was just going to throw it and tell the Reds it was something other than a splitter. Because, you know, he wanted to get people out. Novel concept.

Final question: Who is making these decisions, and how quickly can he be fired???

Discuss….

34 Responses

  1. GregD

    13 pitchers almost seems like a problem from lack of making a decision. “They’ve all been good, how can we send someone down. Who to send…who to send…what? Game alreadys started. Guess I have until tomorrow to make the decisions.”

    If Sutton is the answer today, it seems like someone royaly pooched it in the front office. Sutton could have been recalled Sunday to replace the injured Bruce and Rosales on Thursday. But since they called up Rosales first, Sutton couldn’t be activated until today. He has to stay in AAA for 10 days from his July 7 demotion unless he’s being recalled for an injured player.

  2. GregD

    I’ve been wondering that about their pitchers, too. While I commend them trying to convert former position players like Ben Davis, why not see if different pitches or grips actually help their own struggling pitchers?

  3. Dan

    I asked this in the Recap thread also, but why isn’t anyone in the mainstream media calling out Taveras for being SO bad, and Dusty for batting him leadoff every day?

    Offense is the most obvious problem on the team, and isn’t Taveras the most obviously bad hitter who’s out there every day?

  4. Kurt Frost

    Todd Coffey should really stop sprinting in from the bullpen. He is really fat and running is not his friend.

  5. Matt WI

    It’s like Homer is twelve and in Little League. “Don’t let them throw curveballs yet!”

  6. GRF

    Development of young pitchers in our system is an intersting issue. It is hit and miss for everyone, but we do seem to have recently has some issues that seem to suggest we have trouble getting our prospects to transition to the next level.

    I would hope it is Fisher that goes down and not Roenicke, I really would like to see if he could develop into a late inning option for next year and maybe give us some room to sell a veteran reliever at the deadline. As for the roster construction, we have complained about how the 40 man has made it hard to bring up position players all year. Since they are determined not to bring up Stubbs, while I would certainly prefer a 13th position player, none of the options are really that inspiring.

  7. Aaron

    I wouldnt even say we had three people available off the bench, since one of those guys was Rosales.

    I swear, if the Reds would pay me only $50K a year, I would quit my job and come hit pop ups and sprint to first base and on and off the field. That should save us quite a bit of money.

  8. Sultan of Swaff

    Unless you’re talking a still-developing kid out of high school, you have to let these guys do whatever they have to do to be successful…..or at least find out what doesn’t work as well. They’re professionals for chrissakes.
    I don’t get what the holdup is on a trade, and I don’t care whether it helps us this year or not. We need a legitimate prospect to play LF, and there’s no one in the pipeline close, save for Frazier (I still need some convincing on Heisey). Package Nix or Gomes, 2 B prospects like Stubbs and Francisco, and a sweetener for a can’t miss-on the verge bat who can grow with the rest of the core.
    The last thing you want to do is waste the final two months of the season playing veterans who aren’t in your future plans, but that’s what we do every year.

  9. GregD

    The only 40 man position players in AAA are Tatum and Sutton.

    Solution for adding both Stubbs and Heisey to the 25-man roster? Put Bruce and Lincoln on the 60-day DL.

  10. Joe

    As for the main stream media and Willy, Chris W was (I believe) indirectly criticizing the Reds last night. He mentioned a few times that the Brewers have Jason Kendall and Craig Counsell batting 1 and 2, even though they have no speed, because they get on base. I think he was backhandedly saying to the Reds, “Hey, a leadoff hitter is supposed to get on base, and a speedy leadoff guy does you no good if he is never on base. Duh.” Why he can’t say it straightforwardly, I don’t know. (I wanna blame George Grande, somehow.)

  11. brublejr

    I had said something about the Coffey pitch thing during the first series against the Brew Crew. I think it was a splitter they would not let him throw if I am not mistaken.

    What a novel concept, usage of the DL…I still don’t know why the Reds seem like the only team who doesn’t understand how to use it.

  12. Steve

    Time to Replace Baker

    It pains me to write this, but it’s pretty clear now that the Reds are not going to contend this year. The injury to Jay Bruce sealed that fate. Bruce may have been slumping, but there is no scenario for the Reds to win the division without Jay Bruce playing a large role.

    As a long-suffering Reds fan, and one who fondly remembers the Big Red Machine in my childhood, I think the Reds are on the right track. Yes, it seems like “just wait ’til next year” has been our organization’s mantra for a decade. But I genuinely think the Reds have some important pieces for success in the near future.

    The urgency facing the organization right now is removing Dusty Baker as the manager. I have slowly come to this conclusion because there are parts of Baker’s management of the team that I like – especially his intensity and focus on every game. I also generally tend to give managers the benefit of the doubt.

    I’m not even pinning the blame on the Reds’ current record on Baker, either. Injuries, poor roster construction and key under-performance contribute to that.

    Regardless of who is to blame, he is the wrong person to lead the Reds from now forward.

    First, Baker was hired to win with veterans in the short term, not to develop young players over the longer term. His history of success with veteran teams is well known. His track record is to not make the short term sacrifices to develop our team for the future. He will stubbornly continue to play veterans that have zero prospect of playing central roles for the Reds in the future. Ramon Hernandez, Alex Gonzalez, David Weathers, Jerry Hairston and Johnny Gomes are examples of this type of player.

    Second, Baker’s view of baseball is hopelessly old-fashioned, causing the Reds to fall behind other teams with more modern direction. His use of Willy Taveras in the leadoff slot, despite the fact that Taveras has become, over three months, the worst hitter in baseball, is based purely on old-school notions that fast players should play centerfield and lead off.

    Baker having Alex Gonzalez bat second, even for a few games, is further proof of how out of the modern mainstream he is. It’s really hard to imagine a hitter more inappropriate in that role – terrible plate discipline, short at bats, straight pull hitter, and an even worse OBP than Taveras.

    Another example of Baker’s out-of-date thinking is his attachment to the concept of “clutch hitting” and “we have to find a way to get runners in from second and third.” Again, these are outdated metrics that have been thoroughly discredited by modern analysis. Certain hitters do not rise to the occasion in clutch situations. Hitters essentially have the same batting average – over sufficiently large sample sizes – with runners in scoring position as they do at other times.

    Focusing on the team’s need to “find a way to get runners in from second and third” looks at the problem completely backwards. The team needs to find a way to get more runners TO second and third base – in other words, high OBP. Studies have consistently shown that the numbers of runners in scoring position is closely correlated to runs scored, and that differences between teams in OBP explain run differentials far more than batting average with RISP.

    Dusty is only a short time away from having said that “walks clog up the bases.” It’s really difficult to put into words how totally wrong that is. (Funny, when the Reds pitchers give up walks, it sure seems to be a problem, not a benefit. Dusty pointed to Homer’s walks last night as leading to the loss.)

    Third, Baker is unwilling to discipline ‘established’ players – or insist that they develop fundamental skills. For example, it seems every night we witness mistakes in judgment by the centerfield play of Willy Taveras. He doesn’t charge base hits, he overthrows cutoff men allowing following runners to gain extra bases, he takes improper routes to catch fly balls. Yet, not a word of concern from Baker. Yet, he saw fit to single out Chris Dickerson, who hustles MORE than anyone on this team, for not backing up Taveras on one of his nightly mistakes.

    How discouraging it must be to young players to see Baker tolerate Taveras’ mental mistakes but publicly go after the hard-working Dickerson.

    Baker is also tolerating Ramon Hernandez’s inferior defensive skills, his apparent lack of raport with many of the Reds pitchers, and his declining offensive output. While I like certain things about Hernandez, it has become a travesty that Ryan Hanigan sits the bench basically every night.

    It’s hard to determine Walt Jockety’s complicity with these mistakes. He surely was involved in signing Taveras and Hernandez, even though their low career trajectories were evident. Perhaps he was making the best of a bad situation. We didn’t sign the big bat we needed this off-season, that’s a failure, for sure.

    But changing the manager – now – is the most important need for the Reds. I don’t come to this conclusion easily, as I’m usually not a “fire the coach” guy. My dad was a head coach for a long time, so I’m pretty sympathetic to the notion that outsiders are generally poorly informed.

    But it has become very evident that for the Reds to develop their team the way they need to for future years, Dusty Baker has to go.

  13. Eddie

    I’ve got another question for you, what do you guys think about Chris Valaika? Is he good enough defensively to play shortstop? I see he only has 4 errors in 47 games, is that him being good defensively or does he not get to enough balls to commit many errors?

  14. Dan

    Steve – heck of a long post, but very well-said! I agree w/ you pretty much down the line. (My only niggle would be that I don’t think Hernandez has been that bad… although I do think Hanigan has been CLEARLY better.)

    We have more young talent than we’ve had in a while, which is exciting, but we’re basically a joke organization living 30 years in the past as long as we lead off Taveras every day. I really do think that.

    In the Baseball Tonight show reviewing the first half of the season, they were running down the standings, and in the NL Central portion of the discussion, I think the only mention the Reds got was Karl Ravech saying “Even the Reds are only 4.5 games back” or whatever the number was.

  15. Plowboy

    Steve, I think you hit the Reds’ problem head on: Baker is NOT the manager for this team.

    It’s really that simple. Though I think he’s done a decent job with the pitchers (contrary to what many will say about his days in Chicago), his daily lineups continue to astound me.

    I’ll say it again: It’s as if he’s TRYING to lose by putting Taveras in there. God help us when Gonzales returns. He’ll be in the 2-hole and no one will ever be on base for Votto.

    How does one of the 5 best hitters in the league in the 3-spot not have 100 RBIs at the end of the year? One answer: Dunce-ty.

  16. preach

    High OBP at leadoff is not neccesarily a new school concept. Remember Pete leading off (hits leader) with Griffey and Morgan behind him and Geronimo, a speedy center fielder, in the eight hole. Speed is important somewhere in your lineup, and I value the stolen base more than others, but no one, even old schoolers, say it has to be at the top of your lineup. It would be nice to have it there, but if that guy can’t consistenly get on base, no winning manager would keep it there.

  17. Plowboy

    Also, Dan’s right: Why in the world won’t Baker play Hanigan – clearly a better ballplayer, both offensively and WAY BEYOND defensively at this point in his career than Hernandez?

    Are they actually that concerned about the money they’re paying Hernandez that they’d rather LOSE games over it?! What the heck is the difference? You’re paying him anyway!!!

    It’s a joke. Yeah, yeah, I get the catcher’s “veteran experience” thing and how he “makes the pitchers better” and all that. I’ve heard it all my life. BUT. Simply look at the numbers, and it’s clear that Hanigan helps the Reds more than Hernandez. For the love of Pete, the guy couldn’t throw out a baserunner to save his life!

    Hernandez hurts the Reds. Hanigan helps the Reds.

    Anyone can see this….except, apparently, Dusty and Jocketty. Please trade this guy (for ANYthing), and let Hanigan play before he’s too old to actually be effective! Use him while he’s in his prime instead of wasting him!

    Play Hanigan for as long as you can ride him and bring Corky in for backup. It’s that simple. Management is acting like this is rocket science!

    Mr. Redlegs, where are you to tell me how completely wrong I am!!!!!!!!!

  18. GregD

    I think the pitching philosophy is controlled more by others in the organization. Baker has worked for 4 different GM’s now (I’m counting Krivsky & Jocketty as 1 GM). His pitcher use/abuse was significantly different (worse) under Sabean & Hendry than it was under Quinn & Krivsky/Jocketty.

    It appears the Cincinnati plan for starters seems to be a cap of 110 pitches with the occassional allowance to 120. Younger pitchers seem to stop at 100 more often.

    The OBP thing that leaves me scratching my head…he played no-speed, high OBP guys in Chicago. Grudzielanek & Todd Walker both hit #1 and/or #2 for Baker in Chicago and neither were base burners. Walker had over 850 plate appearances in Chicago in 2004-2005 and stole 1 base. Hairston lead off a lot in 2005 and stole 8 bases in 17 attempts.

    On the flip side, he also played no speed no obp guys at the top of the order. Cubs fans love to loathe Neifi Perez’s 600 plate appearance in 2005, many of them in the #2 spot. .298obp, 681ops.

  19. GregD

    Enquirer blog says that Lincoln is “scheduled to have cervical disc replacement surgery Monday in St. Louis” He’s been on the DL since June 17, so there sounds like an opening for a 40-man roster spot.

  20. mike

    preach you are dead on about high OBP leading off not being a new concept. I do not know the 1st manager to understand the idea (as in when it started) but there is a long history of batting high OBP guy in the leadoff spot.

    This is a guess on my part but one thing that seems to have always been part of baseball is “work the count” and your leadoff hitter taking lots of pitches and being patent.

    There have been some players put in the leadoff spot to start their career so they get in the habit of being selective and patient. Barry Bonds started out in the leadoff spot.

    anybody remember Richie Ashburn? He played for Philly back in the 50s. I’m not old enough to see him play but I read something funny in a book years back. Suposedly he was sorta slow but he got on base a lot. So his manager put him in the leadoff spot. But they they had him try and steal a lot and, well, he got caught a lot.

    He had a .396 career OBP in over 9000 PA in the 50s. That’s pretty amazing. The quotes from his manager that I read years ago were hilarious. “He can’t hit but he seems to never get out” and “he’s slow but we try and surprise the other team once in a while”. The “he can’t hit” was in reference to him having no power. He hit 29 HR for his career.
    But when you look at his stats, they are odd. A leadoff guy getting on base, all the time in the 50s yet his SB/CS totals are strange. Seasons with 12 steals and 10 CS and 11 SB/8 CS

    So back in the 50s at least 1 manager understood

    Or how about Eddie Yost? Played for 18 seasons in the 40s/50s/60s. Got over 9000 PA
    .254 batting average but .394 OBP for his career. 18 seasons/72 SB and almost as many CS. But he lead off a LOT of games. Maybe one of the greatest leadoff hitters ever

    the list goes on and on. It really seems like two different schools of baseball managing thought. One says, if you are fast and can’t hit you leadoff and the other says if you can get on base you lead off. Because if you look back at the 50s/60s there are also no-hit speedy guys who didn’t get on base leading off.

    the punchline to all this? new lineup analysis basically says if you don’t have that high OBP/low power guy it’s best to bat your best hitters at the top of the order.

  21. David

    Steve – I appreciate your post, but Dickerson and Hanigan are no spring chickens. They are 27 and 28 respectively. I see no evidence whatsoever which suggests that Dusty Baker needlessly plays vets over young pups.

    I agree that OBP is a good measure at the top of your lineup. However, the Reds only have two players with more than 175 PA and an OBP above .340 – Votto and Dickerson. I have no problem leading off with Dickerson. I agree you fault Dusty for that.

    Chad – I want to address the 13 pitchers question. I think that your answer is named Micah Owings. Owings has 14 PH appearances (if I worked the math right). That’s probably as many as your 13th position player would have and there is no guarantee that 13th man hits better than .244 (though you’d hope so). There’s no reason, aside from an injury bug, to carry 13 position players when a pitcher can fill that role.

  22. Dan

    David, I think Steve was dead-on in his analysis of who Dusty plays, except that it’s not age he has in mind, it’s how “established” a guy is. Taveras and Dickerson are about the same age, I think, but Taveras is more “established” so that earns Taveras the benefit of the doubt in Dusty’s mind. Same with Hernandez.

    (The fact that Taveras has clearly established himself to be BAD, apparently, has no bearing.)

  23. GregD

    Except Owings can’t play the outfield or infield should an injury arise like last night pre-game.

  24. Dallas

    “I asked this in the Recap thread also, but why isn’t anyone in the mainstream media calling out Taveras for being SO bad, and Dusty for batting him leadoff every day?”

    They won’t call him out for this anytime soon, either, I bet. Willy’s hitting .304 since June 20.

  25. Dallas

    Maybe Baker is gunshy because of the blame he took for “ruining” Mark Prior and Kerry Woods’ arms and he doesn’t want the same kind of blame if something similar happens to Bailey if he hurts himself throwing a new pitch.

  26. Dan

    From Joe Sheehan of BaseballProspectus.com:

    #14: Cincinnati Reds (Sheehan prediction: 752 RS, 743 RA; actually on pace for: 663 RS, 754 RA). I thought I was being conservative in my projection for the Reds offense—apparently not. The signing of Willy Taveras, at the time sold as the import of an offensive sparkplug, has been the undoing of a team that was already going to have trouble putting runners on base. Batting leadoff or second almost every day, Taveras has been outplayed by Emilio Bonifacio, posting a .244/.286/.296 line with just 16 walks in 320 PA. He’s not the only culprit—the Reds are getting nothing from the left side of the infield and catcher—but he’s the one who was signed to be part of the solution. Punting him for Drew Stubbs, right now, would make the Reds a game better, maybe two, in the second half. The main reason the Reds are hanging around .500 is a matchup bullpen that has enabled them to win 22 of 40 games decided by one or two runs. Barring some massive turnover in personnel, they should slip out of the race shortly. If Jay Bruce’s wrist injury pushes them in that direction, it’s a net positive for the team in the long term.

  27. preach

    Lugo has benn DFA’d. Not that I would want him long term, but perhaps to fill out the year….

  28. earl

    Wade Boggs wasn’t a prototype lead off guy, but when you hit .350 and draw walks, it works pretty well. Man the Reds could use a player like him at third. We could use another power hitter, but I would just take a good solid hitter that can field his position.

    “why isn’t anyone in the mainstream media calling out Taveras for being SO bad”

    Brian Kenney kind of mocked playing Taveras on Baseball Tonight a couple of weeks back.

  29. David

    I see the Reds having the same glaring needs the team had in March. I have been on the buy bandwagon if it can be accomplished without jeopardizing the future of the club. One of Thompson, Ramirez, Maloney could go. One of Arroyo or Harang could go. One of Frazier, Soto, Dorn, Francisco could go. You could probably get a nice piece back without losing the farm. That said, a piece might just get them to .500 at this point. I’d hate to see that flexibility go out the window at this point.

    As to the difference between established/unestablished being different than young/old players when it comes to Baker, I still don’t see any evidence of it. The only thing I see is that he allows starters too much time to try to break out of slumps. But Baker wasn’t pulling Bruce and his .212 avg out of many games either.

  30. David

    Preach – Here’s what fangraphs had to say about Lugo.

    “Lugo has actually hit better this season than in his other two seasons with Boston. That’s not saying much, and his career line with Boston is still .251/.319/.346. Defensively, Lugo hasn’t been much better in Boston, posting UZR/150 of 4.3, -2.6, and -43.2. Okay, obviously the last one is due to an extremely small sample size; if you assume he’s more like -10 than -43, you get the picture of a below average defensive shortstop, but hardly the worst in the majors.”

  31. preach

    you get the picture of a below average defensive shortstop, but hardly the worst in the majors.”

    That’s a definate upgrade…..

    Nah, don’t really want him now. Couple years ago, OK.

  32. Steve Price

    “I ain’t no frontrunner.”

    Rob Neyer has a book called “Rob Neyer’s Book of Blunders” or something like it…I referenced it in another thread in the last couple of days”….

    It has a chapter devoted to Dusty playing established players with the Cubs and Giants over younger players not prospects. Dusty is quoted as saying players don’t reach their prime until ages 32-36…or older…

  33. De_Here

    Homer sucks….I don’t care if he throws a gyroball splitter screwball combo pitch