I’ve pretty much given up on the Titanic Struggle Recaps at this point, but last night’s win over the Cardinals was pretty much what all of us have been looking forward to for a few years. Homer Bailey on the mound, going 7 innings, giving up just one run while striking out 7. Jay Bruce hitting two homers and driving in 5 runs. (That’s not even to mention Joey Votto’s homer.)

These numbers make me happy:

Homer Bailey (since August 23): 4-1 in 7 starts, 1.99 ERA.

Jay Bruce (since returning from DL): .375 batting average, .459 OBP, .813 SLG, 4 HR, 16 RBI.

Small sample sizes, sure, but it gives a Reds fan cause for hope. In Bailey’s case, if he can be a #3-type starter next year, that’s great news.

With respect to Bruce, it appears that working hard to return this season may have been the best thing for him. He’s hitting better and, hopefully, getting some confidence that will help him next year. Heck, his OPS+ is 98, which isn’t good, but it’s just a shade below average, and that’s not bad for a 22 year-old.

Trying to be optimistic here….

18 Responses

  1. Doug Gray

    Bruce certainly hasn’t been the total package at the plate this year that we expected for a few reasons (I still point to his ridiculously low BABIP for one reason), but the total package of Jay Bruce including his gold glove defense has made him a positive contributor to the Reds overall team value this season. Thats never a bad thing at age 22.

    As for Homer Bailey…. You have to like what you have seen from him for the last 2 months.

  2. Bill Lack

    People are way too impatient on young players…that’s the long and short of it, IMO.

  3. JasonL

    Assuming I figured this right, Bruce’s BABIP since he came back is over .400. Small sample, but it looks like things might be evening out for him a bit. I’d love to see him settle in around .300. I think he would be a monster if that were the case.

  4. Sultan of Swaff

    Agreed, Bill. I look forward to watching Homer pitch–we’ve got a serious workhorse here. When he’s on (locating the offspeed stuff), he’s got #1 stuff. There’s no doubt in my mind he has turned the corner. Were it not for the stupid decision to let Cueto pitch in the WBC, he’d be having a much better year as well. Kudos to him for showing some real toughness when he was not his true self.
    As for Bruce, the broken wrist might’ve been the best thing to happen to him. He was on the verge of getting sent down, when what he really needed was a mental break. Even now, he looks less like a kid trying not to pee his pants at the plate and more like the focused player he should be. His comment yesterday about pitch selection tells me he identified the problem and is taking steps to correct it. Oh, for him to put up a .275/.340/.530 line next year.

  5. Jeff

    Bruce is only 22 yrs old, I think he has a bright future ahead. Over the next 3 years his growth will be amazing and he will be the star that he should be. I have to say I have liked what I have seen from Bailey, I was 100% ready to dump him at the start of the season, but he has steadily improved and I look forward to seeing him contribute in ’10.

  6. mike

    my thought last night when I glanced at the boxscore

    “we have an ace”

    followed by

    “Bailey has arrived”

    Bailey has been OUTSTANDING and it’s exciting to know that 4 of the 5 spots in the rotation are set next year.

    I also don’t know where you got those #s for Bailey because since (and including) August 23 I see.oh I see those #s didn’t include last nights game

    5-1 (the team is 5-3 because Bailey hasn’t gotten the best bullpen support)
    1.89 ERA

    and the thing that REALLY stands out to me, since in the 8 starts he pitched against a couple good offenses, LA, at Colorado, at Chicago, Florida and Stl that his SLG and has pitched half of the 8 starts in the GABP is that is SLG allowed is an amazing .308.

    Bailey, Bruce, Masset, Herrera, Fisher, Cueto, Francisco, Votto, Balentien and Stubbs make me optimistic

  7. mike

    Bill Lack: People are way too impatient on young players…that’s the long and short of it, IMO.

    I think you are dead on with this

  8. Steve Price

    A few days ago, I posted about Votto and Bailey being the future, and I started to go back and rename it to include Bruce–that’s right when Bruce was hitting his hot streak (and no longer being a late inning defensive replacement–we’ll be talking about that in about 20 years…)

    The three of them look absolutely fantastic right now…I’m not so certain Bailey won’t be our number one next year….

    We pay more attention as to how long a player’s been in the majors than their actual age….eveyone thinks Dickerson and Hanigan are young, when they’re not…and call them the future…we get on Bruce and Bailey who are truly young and have more talent and then we expect too much too soon.

    I got a kick out of the postgame interview with Bailey last night. It was Piecoro or Day and they were talking of Homer’s maturity (which he coyly laughed and suggested not using Homer and maturity in the same sentence) about not “trying to strike out Pujols with the bases loaded” to induce Pujols to pop up.

    Homer’s reply: “I was trying to strike him out.” Then he said something about it doesn’t usually work out very well when trying to get Pujols to hit a pop up…

    He had used cliches to that point…thanking the defense, the catcher, going one pitch at a time (where’s Nuke Laloosh…). I thought he was also right…

    Nice touch, too, from Dusty….he gave Homer a genuine hug when Homer left the game. It made me smile…

  9. Drew Nelson

    Bailey is good, but I hope Harrang can bounce back because that would not heap a ton of pressure on Homer next year. If Aaron can produce like he did pre 2008, we know what we will get with Bronson and we can hope Johnny C will continue to improve, that gives us 4 good pitchers and a very strong bullpen. I would take that pitching staff over any in the central.

  10. RedinFla

    Bill Lack: People are way too impatient on young players…that’s the long and short of it, IMO.

    Agreed — I’ve been harping about players performing up to their potential for weeks now. We can’t afford to fill the roster with established stars, so the coaches and managers have got to get the best they can out of the guys we have.
    Bailey, Bruce, and Stubbs have been fun to watch lately. And, yes, I’m brave 😯 enough to say I have hope for next season…

  11. Steve

    Detailed analysis of Baker’s history of using pitchers and whether there has been “overuse” – it’s pretty balanced as far as I can judge. Says Baker really took care of his pitchers mostly in San Francisco, but that changed in Chicago. Also alleges that he’s been much more careful with the Reds. Worth a read:

    http://www.dugoutcentral.com/blog/?p=2760

  12. Steve Price

    Steve: Detailed analysis of Baker’s history of using pitchers and whether there has been “overuse” – it’s pretty balanced as far as I can judge. Says Baker really took care of his pitchers mostly in San Francisco, but that changed in Chicago. Also alleges that he’s been much more careful with the Reds. Worth a read:
    http://www.dugoutcentral.com/blog/?p=2760
    Quote

    I disagree with the writer’s conclusion; this read like more of a Baker apologetic.

    What wasn’t said in the piece was that the young arms were the ones that were damaged, except for Zambrano and Ortiz. To compare Volquez to Arroyo is apples to oranges…

    There’s several sides to pitcher abuse…

    The biggest deal for young arms (at least, now considered the big deal) is a large increase of pitches from one year to the next…and the dugout centralarticles does an outstanding job of demonstrating that Baker DID JUST THAT…over and over again, and those pitchers had their arms damaged.

    Even some of the veterans didn’t survive this, but only Zambrano and Ortiz were the only young guys who seemed to escape this fate. The article list several pitchers that had shortened careers.

    I also think Baker should have had a heart to heart with someone in limiting Volquez pitching so much in the offseason…I really don’t give him a pass on that either…he’s a player’s manager, he says..pick up the phone.

    Also…the pitcher abuse points add up as the pitch counts rise…a more important abuse issue now has to do with pitches per inning…the stress mounts pitch by pitch in an inning before the arm gets any rest. High pitch counts in an inning late in the game are extremely damaging.

    And…we’ve witnessed this year, especially late in the year, that he’s leaving the young guys in there too long…and he’s left them in there too long when they’re getting hammered, too….use the bullpen…those arms aren’t worth as much…

    So…to sum up…the article compared a youngster to a veteran to show he wasn’t overused, and then he went and ignored a long list of youngsters that were damaged, but justifying them against the veteran pitchers who “Dusty turned into” winners. He was better in San Francisco because he used older pitchers.

    Also..remember the Rob Neyer book chapter I referenced earlier in the year….Dusty tried not to use young players unless he had no one else available…

  13. GregD

    @Steve: Before I joined on as an editor here, I’d made a handful of comments on this exact topic, going into Baker’s past.

    It appeared at the time I reviewed this information that the correlation of “Baker’s” pitcher abuse is tied to GM-Manager combinations. When Baker started as manager of the Giants, Bob Quinn was their GM. Pitch counts were very low, especially for the young guys. When Sabaen took over, pitch counts exploded and guys like Estes, Russ Ortiz, Livan Hernandez, etc took on heavy workloads.

    When Baker went to Chicago, Hendry was the GM, and the Chicago pitcher had the high pitch counts of the Sabaen-Baker Giants era. In his first few years in Cincinnati, Reds pitch counts have been more controlled than they were with Baker under Hendry and Sabaen.

  14. earl

    It was nice to see Bruce have a good game against a lefty starter like last night.

  15. Steve

    earl: It was nice to see Bruce have a good game against a lefty starter like last night.

    Joel Pineiro is a RHP. But it was still great to see Bruce have that kind of game with any handed pitcher. Pineiro had given up only 7 home runs all year long and the Reds got three off of him.

  16. doktor

    baker’s “pitching” record has been well-tilled content. lots of us are concerned about it but instead of dwelling on that, lets get back on topic.

    BRUUUUUUCCEEEEEEEE, VOOOOTTTTTTOOOOOOO, HOMEEEEEERRRRR.
    and I would say all 3 of them hit a “homer” last night, with Bailey’s pitching topping it off. I watched the 1st 5 innings and seemed like he had excellent command of 3 pitches.

    Adding in Cueto’s potential, the combination of Stubbs/Dickerson in the OF with thier better D, with BP and Rolen balancing the lineup from the right side. then Harang and Arroyo in rotation. Not many teams are in the spot where the only rotation order to worry about is #5.

    There is lots to like and think positive for next year, of finally getting a winning season.

    Still there is much speculation about Reds direction. Is Castellini feeling the $ pinch and will he have Walt trade off one or two of the big contracts(Arroyo, Harang, CoCo, BP)?
    Or will he direct Walt to make a trade move of younger pieces (Frazier, Francisco, Yonder etc) to get a LF bopper or a two-way SS like a Yunel Escobar type of player or will Gomes get of LF spot thru an arbitration offer?

    For now, with the late surge of winning baseball, I like what I see on the field and look forward to what transpires in the off-season. Of course, still reserve the right to vent if Walt/Bob/Dusty do something idiotic. 🙂

  17. justcorbly

    Stuff happens in baseball, which is why I don’t worship stats. but if Bruce and Bailey had been playing like this since April, the season would have followed a different path.

    I though the Reds would finish a few games over .500 this year. If Harang hadn’t continued in his multi-year swoon and Volquez hadn’t got hurt, they likely would have met my expectations. however, anyone who imagined in April that this team might contend in the post-season was naive.

    For next season, cross your fingers and hope. Try to trade Harang and get rid of his salary, but don’t expect much in return other than a couple of Double AA kids. Lean hard on Arroyo to discipline himself all next year like he did in the second half of this year.