Let’s recap today’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Minnesota 4
Cincinnati 3

W: S. Diamond (6-3)
L: A. Chapman (4-4)
S: J. Burton (1)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–None. Well, Mike Leake pitched eight strong innings, surrendering just two runs (on 86 pitches). Joey Votto hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth that looked like it would be the game-winner.

NEGATIVES
–Aroldis Chapman was ineffective once again, blowing the save by surrendering a two-run homer to Josh Willingham in the ninth. What can we say? He’s been worse as closer than Sean Marshall ever was, but we told you from the beginning that putting him in the closer’s role was a bad idea.

–In the bottom of the ninth, our old friend Jared Burton walked Todd Frazier to lead off the inning. Dusty Baker then gave Minnesota a free out (when the Reds only had three remaining to give) on a sac bunt, before pinch-hitter Scott Rolen walked. Yep, Burton couldn’t find the strike zone, yet the Reds just gave him a free out. Very magnanimous, don’t you think?

–After those two walks, Chris Heisey came to the plate and promptly hacked at the first pitch (lifting a lazy pop fly for the second out). In five ABs today as the leadoff hitter, Heisey saw a total of 7 pitches. Seven pitches. Completely unacceptable.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–Yep. The Reds just lost two of three to the worst team in the American League.

–The biggest mystery surrounding Chapman’s recent meltdown is that he has completely changed the way he pitches. He’s not mixing up his pitches anymore, relying far too often on the fastball only. Very strange.

–Dare to dream:

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–Burton collected his first career save. Hope he can stay healthy. Burton was always one of my favorite Reds.

–I’m the last one to overreact to losses like these. This stuff happens. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though. Series like these are not fun at all.

But there’s always another game tomorrow.

98 Responses

  1. Steve Mancuso

    Totally agree with the recap. All points – especially the one about Marshall and previous over-reaction, and hoping for another one.

    After the game, Baker was asked if he thought about using Leake in the ninth inning. (For the record, I think I would have left Leake in with only 86 pitches and as good as he looked, but it was a really close call.) Baker flatly said that he didn’t even consider leaving Leake in. “That’s Chapman’s job.”

    That’s Dusty Baker. Chapman has his “role” and that relieves the manager of actually considering the circumstances. Pretty convenient. It makes both one’s decisions and excuses easy.

    I guess our starting pitchers can’t ever throw a complete game when there is a save situation at the end. How ridiculous is that.

    • AnnapolisHoosier

      Totally agree with the recap. All points – especially the one about Marshall and previous over-reaction, and hoping for another one.

      After the game, Baker was asked if he thought about using Leake in the ninth inning. (For the record, I think I would have left Leake in with only 86 pitches and as good as he looked, but it was a really close call.) Baker flatly said that he didn’t even consider leaving Leake in. “That’s Chapman’s job.”

      That’s Dusty Baker. Chapman has his “role” and that relieves the manager of actually considering the circumstances. Pretty convenient. It makes both one’s decisions and excuses easy.

      I guess our starting pitchers can’t ever throw a complete game when there is a save situation at the end. How ridiculous is that.

      I said yesterday in the first post of the recap that I would have used Chapman in the ninth instead of Simon. I wanted to see him have a clean inning without all the pressure. I would not have used Chapman today unless he came in and looked like the old Chapman yesterday. Should have been Leake or Marshall (could go either way)

    • AnnapolisHoosier

      Totally agree with the recap. All points – especially the one about Marshall and previous over-reaction, and hoping for another one.

      After the game, Baker was asked if he thought about using Leake in the ninth inning. (For the record, I think I would have left Leake in with only 86 pitches and as good as he looked, but it was a really close call.) Baker flatly said that he didn’t even consider leaving Leake in. “That’s Chapman’s job.”

      That’s Dusty Baker. Chapman has his “role” and that relieves the manager of actually considering the circumstances. Pretty convenient. It makes both one’s decisions and excuses easy.

      I guess our starting pitchers can’t ever throw a complete game when there is a save situation at the end. How ridiculous is that.

      I may be totally off base here but it SEEMS like most of these Chapman blow ups have been with Mesoroco catching and not Hanigan. Again, I may be way wrong.

  2. Myles

    I’m convinced the Reds aren’t going to let Chapman start a game in 2012. I hope I’m proven wrong.

    If they’re not going to try him at starter they should deal him in the next month for someone who gets on base a lot and plays one of the positions of need.

  3. nelly33

    @Steve Mancuso: Cueto is allowed to go nine against the Indians while throwing 122 pitches, but Leake can’t with 86. Makes very perfect and logical sense.

  4. Myles

    in other words I think the best case scenario with Chapman is to pull a reverse Hamilton for Volquez trade, this time acquiring the great every day player for the pitcher with the live arm.

  5. earl

    Wow…the Reds have let at least a half dozen games slip through the fingers in the last month or so.

    It’s not just that they lose a game, but maaan, when they do lose it is a knee capper.

    This situation with Chapman makes me wish that Madsen hadn’t blown out his arm, as it would make thing so much easier for Dusty. Even if Madsen had blown 4 saves, you wouldn’t have them trying to put a square peg in a round hole with Chapman.

    AND lastly…what the heck is it with the finishes to Mike Leake starts? I don’t know what it is, but this kind of gutshot loss seems to happen quite a bit over the past few years with him as the starter.

    • Steve Mancuso

      This situation with Chapman makes me wish that Madsen hadn’t blown out his arm, as it would make thing so much easier for Dusty. Even if Madsen had blown 4 saves, you wouldn’t have them trying to put a square peg in a round hole with Chapman.

      Great point. They should try it again with a different closer.

  6. CI3J

    @Steve Mancuso:

    You can if your name is Johnny Cueto.

    And there is no doubt that Chapman CAN be a better closer than Marshall. We saw it earlier this year. But then Chapman started relying more and more on just his fastball and his coaches said and did NOTHING about it, even going so far as to support it.

    Well, it was a stupid decision, terrible coaching, and now we are reaping the results. If Chapman uses just his slider and fastball, he can be one of the most dominating pitchers in the game. Just his fastball and…..Well, you’ve seen the results lately.

    And I don’t think Dusty overreated in putting Chapman in the close role. I think from the moment Chapman joined this team, Dusty was licking his chops just waiting for the chance to use Chapman as the closer. When Marshall got off to a slightly rocky start, Dusty pounced on his chance and installed Chapman as closer.

    I truly wonder how Walt feels about Dusty managing the guy he got to be a dominating starter (Chapman) and the guy he got to be the closer for the next 3 years (Marshall).

    • AnnapolisHoosier

      @Steve Mancuso:

      You can if your name is Johnny Cueto.

      And there is no doubt that Chapman CAN be a better closer than Marshall. We saw it earlier this year. But then Chapman started relying more and more on just his fastball and his coaches said and did NOTHING about it, even going so far as to support it.

      Well, it was a stupid decision, terrible coaching, and now we are reaping the results. If Chapman uses just his slider and fastball, he can be one of the most dominating pitchers in the game. Just his fastball and…..Well, you’ve seen the results lately.

      And I don’t think Dusty overreated in putting Chapman in the close role. I think from the moment Chapman joined this team, Dusty was licking his chops just waiting for the chance to use Chapman as the closer. When Marshall got off to a slightly rocky start, Dusty pounced on his chance and installed Chapman as closer.

      I truly wonder how Walt feels about Dusty managing the guy he got to be a dominating starter (Chapman) and the guy he got to be the closer for the next 3 years (Marshall).

      If Walt doesn’t like it he can force Dusty to change. Either Dusty changes or you fire him.

    • pinson343

      Chapman started relying more and more on just his fastball and his coaches said and did NOTHING about it, even going so far as to support it.

      Well, it was a stupid decision, terrible coaching, and now we are reaping the results. If Chapman uses just his slider and fastball, he can be one of the most dominating pitchers in the game. Just his fastball and…..Well, you’ve seen the results lately.

      And I don’t think Dusty overreated in putting Chapman in the close role. I think from the moment Chapman joined this team, Dusty was licking his chops just waiting for the chance to use Chapman as the closer. When Marshall got off to a slightly rocky start, Dusty pounced on his chance and installed Chapman as closer.

      Dusty had bristled at questions about Chapman not using his slider. Then today his comment is that the key pitch was when Chapman missed with a slider to Mauer on a 2-2 count. Well duh.

      And absolutely agree that Dusty was quick to pull Marshall from the closer role because he was not committed to him as a closer and was eager to see Chapman in that role. He will now keep Chapman in that role.

  7. Red_Menace

    It’s my fault. I was flipping back and forth between the 9th inning and wanted to see the start of the NASCAR race. I flipped over to the race long enough to see who was giving the “Gentlemen, start your engines command”…..none other than Tony LaRussa. Ugh. I immediately flipped back over to the game and seconds later, Chapman got taken downtown. Too strange to be conincidence.

  8. vegastypo

    I think I’m waving the surrender flag about Heisey. As much as I still think he should have gotten more playing time in the past, say, last year or earlier this year, it’s immaterial to the current lack of plate discipline, even when the situation should be obvious that a struggling pitcher might only dig himself even a deeper hole if you LET HIM.

    Also, I think it’s time to put Chapman on the DL and take care of whatever this “back issue” is. And if it turns out to be nothing, at least maybe he can clear his head a bit and refocus. I fear that Dusty will keep sending him out there, to “get him going,” and only do more damage if there is something physically wrong that Chapman won’t acknowledge. Wasn’t it last year that Chapman had arm problems that he wouldn’t admit to?

    When he’s off the DL, send him to Louisville to convert to a starter. If that succeeds, you have depth in the rotation to possibly made a deadline trade, not necessarily Chapman, but whatever deal could be made. And if the Reds finally do have a starter get hurt, depth obviously helps there, too.

    • CI3J

      Also, I think it’s time to put Chapman on the DL and take care of whatever this “back issue” is. And if it turns out to be nothing, at least maybe he can clear his head a bit and refocus. I fear that Dusty will keep sending him out there, to “get him going,” and only do more damage if there is something physically wrong that Chapman won’t acknowledge. Wasn’t it last year that Chapman had arm problems that he wouldn’t admit to?

      When he’s off the DL, send him to Louisville to convert to a starter. If that succeeds, you have depth in the rotation to possibly made a deadline trade, not necessarily Chapman, but whatever deal could be made. And if the Reds finally do have a starter get hurt, depth obviously helps there, too.

      This would be ideal for Chapman and the Reds. Unfortunately, the Reds this year seem unwilling or unable to ever take ideal actions.

      • CharlotteNCRedsFan

        the Reds this year seem unwilling or unable to ever take ideal actions.

        They struggled with the same issues last year, as well.

  9. rfay00

    How are we still in 1st place?

    I hope this is as bad as it gets and it stops now.

    • Myles

      How are we still in 1st place?

      I hope this is as bad as it gets and it stops now.

      Luck and/or Cardinals injuries. Amazingly they lost Pujols and still lead the league in run differential.

  10. rfay00

    @Myles: The Cardinals are good at completely blowing out a team but then losing a few one run games where the score doesn’t total 6.

  11. earl

    It’s kind of a mute point until they actually try Chapaman out as a starter and the fact that the Reds are in a pennant race probably means it’s not a good time to experiment unless someone gets hurt.

    I get starting the year with Chapman in the bullpen, as you are probably only looking at 150 innings for the year, but that dominant month seemed to blur the issue and made Dusty (or for that matter the entire Reds management who knows) buy in that AC could be the next Mariano Rivera. And some of that might be as much trying to build a brand ‘star’ as a baseball field decision, but Chapman seems to be falling back into the issues that gave him problems last year.

    To be honest, while the guy has overpowering stuff, Chapman isn’t anywhere close to someone like Strasburg, who beyond his physical tools, knows how to pitch to hitters and counts. I think these same flaws AC has shown in the last couple weeks closing would possibly get magnified having to go through the second time of the lineup. Can’t prove that unless he actually starts or pitches more than an inning a time, but it’s there.

    Chapman might ootentally be the next Randy Johnson, but it took Johnson 60 starts to become a good starter and then took three more years until he got his control and became the really dominant starter he is known to be. Same thing also happened with Sandy Kofax and Nolan Ryan, as both of those guys took quite a few years and starts before they could harness that power and make it work.

    It would be one thing if Chapman was shutting them down as a closer, but now the guy has blown four games in less than three weeks. Reds are in a pennant chase, even closers that got real pedigree and have got it done before are in the hot seat after doing that (ask Brad Lidge).

    • Myles

      To be honest, while the guy has overpowering stuff, Chapman isn’t anywhere close to someone like Strasburg, who beyond his physical tools, knows how to pitch to hitters and counts.I think these same flaws AC has shown in the last couple weeks closing would possibly get magnified having to go through the second time of the lineup. Can’t prove that unless he actually starts or pitches more than an inning a time, but it’s there.

      Chapman might ootentally be the next Randy Johnson, but it took Johnson 60 starts to become a good starter and then took three more years until he got his control and became the really dominant starter he is known to be.Same thing also happened with Sandy Kofax and Nolan Ryan, as both of those guys took quite a few years and starts before they could harness that power and make it work.

      All the more reason to trade him this year. They already blew it with him by not having him spend 2010/2011 in AAA learning to be a starting pitcher. At this point they have him locked up only long enough so that if he became a starter *tomorrow*, he’d only be nearing the end of those 60 starts right as his contract expires and other teams come calling with buckets of money (if he turns out to show potential)

  12. rfay00

    Youk was taken out of his game and was seen giving hugs/handshakes to teammates.

    He has been traded. No word on where.

    • rfay00

      Youk was taken out of his game and was seen giving hugs/handshakes to teammates.

      He has been traded. No word on where.

      Update. It’s the White Sox.

  13. RedForever

    Kevin Youkilis has been traded, though it isn’t clear to which team yet.
    Multiple news outlets have confirmed that a deal is done. Youk was pulled from Sunday’s game, presumably after a deal was consummated. He left the field to a standing ovation. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports says the Dodgers didn’t acquire him and Jon Heyman of the same organization said it isn’t the Indians either. It appears as though either the White Sox or Pirates acquired the 33-year-old third baseman.

  14. rfay00

    @RedForever: If you would look above, I have already informed us that it was the White Sox.

    • RedForever

      @RedForever: If you would look above, I have already informed us that it was the White Sox.

      That has not been confirmed yet. I just checked mlb.com and espn.com and there isn’t anything official yet.

  15. earl

    Youkilis is perfect for that White Sox club, which has to be about the most softball team looking lineup this side of those early 80s Luzinski/Fisk teams.

  16. OhioJim

    I think there is a lot of sense in what Earl says above.

    The first question for the Reds is where do they go from here for a closer. One thing for certain is whether Chapman is admitting it to the team or not and whether the team is admitting it on the record, Chapman has a physical issue of some sort. There is nothing to be gained by running him back out there in hopes that he suddenly refinds his mojo.

    As far as Chapman’s future, who knows? At this point in it certainly looks like he can’t sustain through the rigors of closing and most likely that would also include being a very expensive setup man.

    The last time he was a starter on a sustained basis, he had trouble with that role, including it must be noted, some nagging physical issues, all of whihc led in large measure to him being converted into a reliever. Let’s not forget this. When he was starting every 5th day, he had many of the same issues he has shown over time in the bullpen. It is a little bit of fools gold I think to believe that a hot spring training of carefully managed limited scope appearances means he is over the hump and could stand up to the rigors of starting.

    It will be interesting to see just what the Reds next move for a closer will be and even more so to see what comes next for Chapman….

  17. wally mo

    @OhioJim: why is it so clear that chapman is hurt? he said exactly the opposite in his comments after the game.

    what they need to do is put him in the rotation, right now. the reason isn’t just that he would help the team, which i think he would, but he would develop and learn.

    watching him today, the problem wasn’t just that he was throwing only fastballs, he actually threw a lot of sliders to mauer. it’s that he’s not locating anything.

    at the start of the season he had great control and crazy velocity. now all of his fastballs are up, and they’re a lot easier to hit. it’s pretty simple.

    i think if he goes in the rotation, he’ll be able to develop a better feel for his command, and eventually be dominant.

    problem is, who do you pull? that’s why it won’t happen this year. or if it does it will be when someone gets hurt. cueto’s an ace, arroyo makes too much money, latos is the big aquisition. so then it’s down to bailey or leake, both of whom have been pretty solid recently and have no experience in the pen.

    • OhioJim

      @OhioJim: why is it so clear that chapman is hurt? he said exactly the opposite in his comments after the game……

      Because he lost his command and a significant amount of velocity virtually overnight.

      Consider where he came from and what he’s been through in weighing jos comments. And even guys who were raised here tend to deny injuries. Look at Massett all last year (when a number of folks who know a lot more about pitching than any of us said he looked like a guy pitching hurt)) and even early in the spring this. Basically for 90% of them rule 1 is never admit they are hurt.

      • RC

        Because he lost his command and a significant amount of velocity virtually overnight.

        His velocity was fine today. Command… well, The home run pitch was a fastball right down the middle, the Mauer at bat was prolonged because Mauer fouled off the fastballs he couldn’t handle, and Chap couldn’t get the slider over, so that’s a command issue. A changeup would’ve been useful in that situation – wish he could throw one.

        The slider was at least breaking today. I’d swear that some of the “sliders” he’s thrown lately didn’t break at all. At least he threw it multiple times today. I’ll consider that progress, in the most “wishful thinking” sort of way.

  18. wally mo

    former reds prospect zach steward was in the deal. he’s now been traded for scott rolen, edwin jackson, and youkilis.

  19. StealYourBase

    Brantley said he wishes Chapman could get back to his preseason form. How about getting back to the form he had a f-ing month ago when he was the “set up man”. Valdez gets one hit and “thats why we got him”. I hate to say it but I think the seams are starting to unravel.

  20. Racine Red

    One has to admit that bringing in Chapman was not a bad move. The bad move is that Chapman is the stopper, as I’ve said from the moment he became the stopper. Every single game he’s come into, from the strike out the side type games to today, has made me upset.

  21. pinson343

    @AnnapolisHoosier: I too wanted to see Chapman pitch for an inning yesterday with the 6 run lead. If he struggled, don’t use him today. If he was in good form, he may have pitched better today.

    • AnnapolisHoosier

      @AnnapolisHoosier: I too wanted to see Chapman pitch for an inning yesterday with the 6 run lead. If he struggled, don’t use him today. If he was in good form, he may have pitched better today.

      Exactly

  22. Racine Red

    I’m trying to figure out how to interpret Chris Heisey’s type of play.

    Is he:

    1. Just completely inept in terms of plate discipline and not real smart in terms of baseball situations, or

    2. He’s just not a team player.

    • AnnapolisHoosier

      I’m trying to figure out how to interpret Chris Heisey’s type of play.

      Is he:

      1. Just completely inept in terms of plate discipline and not real smart in terms of baseball situations, or

      2. He’s just not a team player.

      #1 in my opinion.

  23. Racine Red

    Also, did someone mention this—I didn’t see the game, but my understanding is that Hanigan was available, after Mesoraco was hit for, yet Valdez was allowed to hit. Hanigan’s OBP is what, 100 points higher? You get Votto up there and you’ve got yourself a 50-50 shot of tying the game!

    • AnnapolisHoosier

      Also, did someone mention this—I didn’t see the game, but my understanding is that Hanigan was available, after Mesoraco was hit for, yet Valdez was allowed to hit.Hanigan’s OBP is what, 100 points higher?You get Votto up there and you’ve got yourself a 50-50 shot of tying the game!

      That is correct

  24. Racine Red

    Finally, I submit again that this is an 85 win team (87-88 with a better manager).

    • Myles

      Finally, I submit again that this is an 85 win team (87-88 with a better manager).

      Yours seems like a reasonable projection. Although by current run differential you’d get about 90 wins even with their toothpick chewing crappy manager. But the Cardinals pythagorean projection is about 95 wins (they’re today about 4 wins off their projected pace, so maybe they’ll only get to 90 or 91).

      In other words, there is still a margin to win the division with a better manager and/or making some moves in 2012.

      My projection is that no moves will be made and the Cards will win the division again in 2012.

      • AnnapolisHoosier

        Yours seems like a reasonable projection. Although by current run differential you’d get about 90 wins even with their toothpick chewing crappy manager. But the Cardinals pythagorean projection is about 95 wins (they’re today about 4 wins off their projected pace, so maybe they’ll only get to 90 or 91).

        In other words, there is still a margin to win the division with a better manager and/or making some moves in 2012.

        My projection is that no moves will be made and the Cards will win the division again in 2012.

        Unfortunately I don’t disagree with you.

    • AnnapolisHoosier

      Finally, I submit again that this is an 85 win team (87-88 with a better manager).

      Baseball Prospectus right now has both the Reds and Cards at 88 wins (Pirates at 80, Milwaukee ahead of them)

  25. wally mo

    it occurs to me that this team is just built very weirdly.

    there are so many guys that are on the fence, not really good, but not bad enough that you want to let them go. so they all stay, and then you end up with something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    (granted, a better manager could make this roster seem like it made more sense, but that’s not dusty).

    what would you like to see the reds go get? it seems like for almost every position we’re committed to the guys we have, even the one’s who haven’t been great.

    this team needs some kind of shakeup.

  26. Racine Red

    OK, not finally yet. Here’s Baker:

    “Before, everybody was crying for Chapman,” Baker said. “Now everybody’s crying for somebody else. That’s the story when you blow a save. It’s easy to say get somebody else, but where’s somebody else that’s better?”

    Well, many people were crying for Chapman….to START.

    Anyways, Baker says “he’s human”. Sure, but he’s now blown 3 saves in 2 weeks. The truth is that really good “human” stoppers don’t blow more than 4-5 per year. This is what happens when you look at results only. Chapman was getting saves, so people here who argued that it was bad that he was throwing all fastballs were ridiculed. After all, he was getting the job done. But it seems obvious that most one-pitch pitchers will eventually be hit.

    • AnnapolisHoosier

      OK, not finally yet.Here’s Baker:

      “Before, everybody was crying for Chapman,” Baker said. “Now everybody’s crying for somebody else. That’s the story when you blow a save. It’s easy to say get somebody else, but where’s somebody else that’s better?”

      Well, many people were crying for Chapman….to START.

      Anyways, Baker says “he’s human”.Sure, but he’s now blown 3 saves in 2 weeks.The truth is that really good “human” stoppers don’t blow more than 4-5 per year.This is what happens when you look at results only.Chapman was getting saves, so people here who argued that it was bad that he was throwing all fastballs were ridiculed.After all, he was getting the job done.But it seems obvious that most one-pitch pitchers will eventually be hit.

      Exhibit A why many people on this board can’t stand Baker.

  27. CP

    @AnnapolisHoosier: Chapman’s recent sucky outings:

    6/7 v. PIT: Mesoraco
    6/10 v. DET: Mesoraco
    6/13 v. CLE: Hanigan
    6/19 v. CLE: Hanigan
    6/24 v. MIN: Mesoraco

  28. jamesp50014

    I’ve seen it written here a lot that pretty much any competent reliever can close out a game. The results of the past week would indicate otherwise, what with the Reds’ to-date best reliever failing to hold leads and surrendering home runs. Perhaps it’s a more difficult job than is sometimes suggested.

    • OhioJim

      I’ve seen it written here a lot that pretty much any competent reliever can close out a game. The results of the past week would indicate otherwise, what with the Reds’ to-date best reliever failing to hold leads and surrendering home runs. Perhaps it’s a more difficult job than is sometimes suggested.

      So it would seem. The metrics just aren’t developed enough to identify that. It makes a big difference who is being faced by the pitcher. Some sort of weighting is what is needed

    • Steve Mancuso

      I’ve seen it written here a lot that pretty much any competent reliever can close out a game. The results of the past week would indicate otherwise, what with the Reds’ to-date best reliever failing to hold leads and surrendering home runs. Perhaps it’s a more difficult job than is sometimes suggested.

      I think it might be more accurate to say that a competent reliever would be able to close out 80-85% of all games. Even the very best closers only are successful 95% of the time, and they have trouble sustaining that percentage. One-run leads are certainly the hardest, especially against the best part of the other team’s lineup. How often does that situation come up? Is it worth taking your best pitcher and holding him in reserve for those spots? Should the Dodgers make Kershaw their closer? How about Sabathia now for the Yankees?

  29. Myles

    @jamesp50014:

    Anybody can be used in a 3-run “save situation” where Chapman sometimes gets used.
    Of course protecting a one-run lead is a bit more difficult than that.

  30. Bumbum

    How many more years will Baker manage the Reds? Hopefully, Uncle Bob won’t renew his contract….. Hope will never die!

    • LWBlogger

      How many more years will Baker manage the Reds? Hopefully, Uncle Bob won’t renew his contract….. Hope will never die!

      If the Reds make the postseason this year, Baker will almost certainly get an extension. If the Reds fail to make the postseason, he may still get an extension becuase the guy writing the checks likes him.

      This team has some high hopes for the next few years and failing to make the postseason this year could perhaps get Mr. Castellini to reconsider resigning Baker and perhaps even Walt.

  31. Bumbum

    @AnnapolisHoosier: With Toothpick as its manger If the Reds finish .500 , you can be thankful. He has already destroyed the morale of his players by making mistakes after mistakes. Remember Cordero last year and now is Chapman. The dude looked uncomfortable on the mound for over a week now. 🙄

  32. Sultan of Swaff

    —Completely unacceptable that Valdez was allowed to hit late in the game.
    –Chapman didn’t locate his slider for strikes to Mauer. Willingham saw it, everyone saw it. All that was left was to sit on the fastball, end of story. Again, it’s an organizational failure Chapman is put in this position of first dumbing down his repertoire and then trying to come back to using multiple pitches.
    –another organizational failure is Heisey’s approach. Yet, I experience the same amount of frustration with Stubbs staring at strike 3. Ultimately, the answer is someone else.
    —Votto’s home run was spectacular, especially because he made the adjustment to Diamond’s curve after a couple horrible at bats where he wasn’t picking it up.
    –Phillip’s play behind the mound saved a run, which was huge in a close game.
    –I’m not condoning the sac bunt late in the game, but it’s not unexpected. It’s common practice for managers. Robin Ventura did the same thing in identical circumstances, and no, the ChiSox didn’t score either.
    –This is a good team. Relax.

  33. CP

    That is a misrepresentation/poor interpretation of the typical sabermetrics’ argument regarding closers. No one says closing is easy. It’s always been an issue of value…

    • LWBlogger

      That is a misrepresentation/poor interpretation of the typical sabermetrics’ argument regarding closers. No one says closing is easy. It’s always been an issue of value…

      Exactly… Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  34. joelie1274

    This says quite a bit about Chapman: “–The biggest mystery surrounding Chapman’s recent meltdown is that he has completely changed the way he pitches. He’s not mixing up his pitches anymore, relying far too often on the fastball only. Very strange.”

    If he was a starter, closer, or middle relief, it’s not going to matter if he tries to get everyone out with nothing but fastballs. Major league hitters can hit a fastball no matter how hard it’s thrown. Hitters have trouble with location, changing speeds, lots of movement, deceptive release points, etc.

    Also, I think he’s still learning. I wasn’t watching at this point in the game, only tracking it on my phone. But it seems that Mauer had a great at bat against Chapman forcing him to throw a lot of pitches, fouling off anything that looked like a strike and waiting for something he could drive. And Chapman gave in and threw a pitch right down the middle that Mauer is experienced enough not to miss. Then, I’m guessing Chapman lost his confidence and quickly threw another pitch right down Broadway that was launched to CVG so that the Reds can be almost assured of having absolutely no momentum going into their annual mid-summer beat down on the West coast (hoping that it’s not bad this year as it has been in other seasons (see 2010, with particular attention to the series against the Dodgers who are having a pretty good 2012 season so far)). But I digress. Chapman needs to learn to stick with the pitches that work, not give in to hitters that are fouling everything off, and not get flustered if someone does get on base at the end of a tough at bat.

  35. LVW

    My philosophy has always been don’t give a new pitcher his 1st out of a game by sac bunting unless that run is going to win the game.

    At least our starting pitchers this weekend…………well 2/3 of them did……………showed how you shut down a sucky offensive team. If that other 1/3 does his job we win 2 out of 3 and if Chapman does his job today we sweep them.

    I just saw who we have starting tomorrow ms Milwaukee………….UGH! Up to the bullpen getting the W or the offense scoring 10+ runs to win tomorrow night. Can we move Arroyo up a day?

  36. TC

    On bullpen management.

    1.) Bill Bray two nights ago.. why put a pitcher in a high leverage situation with the game on the line when it is his first outing of the year. Especially when you consider Bray had a problem walking hitters in his rehab. Saw that coming. FAIL.

    2.) Pitching change tonight.. Why take a pitcher out who has been effective during the game when he only has 86 pitches to put in a pitcher who is struggling right now. Saw that coming. FAIL

    Please let me do the game time managing.

    • vegastypo

      On bullpen management.

      1.) Bill Bray two nights ago.. why put a pitcher in a high leverage situation with the game on the line when it is his first outing of the year.Especially when you consider Bray had a problem walking hitters in his rehab.Saw that coming.FAIL.

      2.) Pitching change tonight.. Why take a pitcher out who has been effective during the game when he only has 86 pitches to put in a pitcher who is struggling right now.Saw that coming.FAIL

      Please let me do the game time managing.

      Well said on both counts. I could almost, and I emphasize ALMOST, live with automatically going to the closer if the closer hasn’t been struggling so badly lately. The idea that NOTHING can influence a manager’s decision is ridiculous….But why not give Leake a shot to finish the game? In many other circumstances, Dusty lets his starter begin an inning, with the obvious plan that if a runner or runners get on base, the starter gets pulled. Not this time. Dusty chose to go with a wobbly reliever against the few really good hitters that the Twins have.

      I can’t help but wonder why the Reds haven’t given Dusty a contract extension. Hope is fleeting, but maybe his return next year is no lock.

      • vegastypo

        I think it’s because he got burned 2 years ago doing that very thing here:
        http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI201007090.shtml

        Two years ago? Yeah, and from looking at the boxscore of that game, Leake obviously pitched to several batters in that infamous inning. It had to be pretty obvious that Leake was losing it but Dusty left him out there. Was he losing it on Sunday? … Anyway, would’ve been nice to find out. Or go elsewhere from Chapman, given his recent struggles.

  37. OhioJim

    @TC: Bray has always had trouble with walks in crunch situations and getting the guys out he needs to get out when he comes in to an inning in progress..

  38. jamesp50014

    Has anybody mentioned that Mauer put together an MVP-worthy AB that turned around the inning, game, and series? Lesser players would have whiffed. Right, we’d rather blame Baker than credit Mauer, who executed under difficult circumstances. Even Chapman will get hit if he falls behind in the count and has difficulty locating his fastball (belt-high, middle-in will get hit by Willingham and many others). I see this as a player thing–one guy did his job and the other didn’t do his very well.

    • vegastypo

      Has anybody mentioned that Mauer put together an MVP-worthy AB that turned around the inning, game, and series? Lesser players would have whiffed. Right, we’d rather blame Baker than credit Mauer, who executed under difficult circumstances. Even Chapman will get hit if he falls behind in the count and has difficulty locating his fastball (belt-high, middle-in will get hit by Willingham and many others). I see this as a player thing–one guy did his job and the other didn’t do his very well.

      I think the point is that Chapman has been struggling to do his job for the last several appearances. If not Leake, maybe a different choice would have been in order. When a pitcher goes from light’s out to deer in the headlights, Dusty or Price should take notice. For that matter, when Chapman had that awful outing against the Pirates, didn’t he get burned by Clint Barmes and somebody else of not-so-credentialed fame?

    • TC

      @jamesp50014:

      Right, we’d rather blame Baker… I see this as a player thing–one guy did his job and the other didn’t do his very well.

      I think most recognize that players win or lose, not a manager. And notice I didn’t blame Baker for losing the game. Anything a manager does (take Leake out, leave Leake in, use Chapman, use Ondrusek, Arrendondo, Marshall, LeCure)… is a gamble. But when gambling you try to give yourself the best odds. Both (especially the first) were strange decisions and put the team at unnecessary bad odds.

      I have been an ardent supporter and defender of Dusty on this board. But both of those decisions baffle me.

      • AnnapolisHoosier

        @jamesp50014:

        I think most recognize that players win or lose, not a manager.And notice I didn’t blame Baker for losing the game.Anything a manager does (take Leake out, leave Leake in, use Chapman, use Ondrusek, Arrendondo, Marshall, LeCure)… is a gamble. But when gambling you try to give yourself the best odds.Both (especially the first) were strange decisions and put the team at unnecessary bad odds.

        I have been an ardent supporter and defender of Dusty on this board.But both of those decisions baffle me.

        If Dusty was playing blackjack I have little doubt he would hit on 16 and would stand on 10.

  39. pinson343

    @jamesp50014: @vegastypo: I didn’t see the game, but from the pitch-by-pitch log, it looked like Chapman pitched well except to Willingham. The HR pitch was 97 mph but in terms of location it was placed on a tee. Mauer’s AB was amazing, despite the outcome I wish I’d seen it.

    I wouldn’t use Chapman for a one run lead in the 9th right now but I would still not say the loss was Dusty’s fault. What annoys me is for him to take extreme umbrage multiple times when reporters asked about Chapman’s not using his fastball and then – when Chapman needed a slider to retire Mauer but threw 3 straight sliders for balls – Dusty points out that the 2-2 slider for a ball was a key pitch. Duh. If you don’t use it you lose it.

    I see this issue as more in Price’s domain than Dusty’s, it’s Dusty’s statements that drive me (and others) to pointing a finger at him.

    • Racine Red

      @jamesp50014: @vegastypo: I didn’t see the game, but from the pitch-by-pitch log, it looked like Chapman pitched well except to Willingham. The HR pitch was 97 mph but in terms of location it was placed on a tee. Mauer’s AB was amazing, despite the outcome I wish I’d seen it.

      I wouldn’t use Chapman for a one run lead in the 9th right now but I would still not say the loss was Dusty’s fault. What annoys me is for him to take extreme umbrage multiple times when reporters asked about Chapman’s not using his fastball and then – when Chapman needed a slider to retire Mauer but threw 3 straight sliders for balls – Dusty points out that the 2-2 slider for a ball was a key pitch. Duh. If you don’t use it you lose it.

      I see this issue as more in Price’s domain than Dusty’s, it’s Dusty’s statements that drive me (and others) to pointing a finger at him.

      Let me repeat my objection to the location issue. If a guy is throwing 97 MPH it’s unlikely that any of his fastballs are going to end up in the stands. Pitchers throw pitches that *could* be hit for HRs all the time.

      The problem here is not as much that he threw a 97 MPH down the middle, but so much more that he can’t throw anything else for a strike. If he could throw the slider for a strike, and hitters couldn’t just sit on one pitch, I just think the number of times he got taken yard would quickly diminish towards zero.

  40. pinson343

    @pinson343: Above of course I meant “Chapman’s not using his slider.”

  41. pinson343

    @vegastypo: In the Pittsburgh loss, it was two .190 hitters who hit long shots for doubles off the wall.

  42. pinson343

    @vegastypo: I don’t believe that Dusty’s returning next year is a lock by any means.

  43. pinson343

    @joelie1274: Nice statement. Chapman is a work in progress, there’s the issue of development. At RLN the consensus was that making Chapman the closer was not a good move for his development, just as putting him in the pen in the first place was not a good move for his development.

  44. pinson343

    @joelie1274: PS Forgot to mention that I like your point that Chapman can’t just give in and throw one right down Broadway to hitters like Mauer and Willingham, just because there are 3 balls. I haven’t seen the video for Mauer’s double, but the HR pitch to Willingham was 97 mph but a meatball just the same. And the 97 mph just made it that much easier for it to go out, Willingham took a short swing and yet it’s into the upper deck.

  45. pinson343

    Mike Leake had a positive to point out: “I think he’s kind of hitting the spot where guys are gonna know he’s throwing the fastball, so he’s got to start working on that other stuff a little better. It was nice to see him throw a couple sliders there.”

    Chapman threw 7 sliders – only 2 for strikes, but maybe the adjustment has already begun.

  46. pinson343

    After video review: The play that BP made on the barehanded grab of a hard ground ball and nailing the runner at the plate was amazing. We just take plays like that by him for granted.

    If he only did back flips, the media would declare him the greatest defensive player in history.

    • vegastypo

      After video review: The play that BP made on the barehanded grab of a hard ground ball and nailing the runner at the plate was amazing. We just take plays like that by him for granted.

      If he only did back flips, the media would declare him the greatest defensive player in history.

      Honestly, how often does Phillips come up with a jaw-dropper? It seems like every day he does something that defies belief. Makes me wonder how many runs he saves, in addition to those he helps to produce.

  47. pinson343

    My favorite part of the recap:

    “–In the bottom of the ninth, our old friend Jared Burton walked Todd Frazier to lead off the inning. Dusty Baker then gave Minnesota a free out on a sac bunt, before pinch-hitter Scott Rolen walked. Yep, Burton couldn’t find the strike zone, yet the Reds just gave him a free out. Very magnanimous, don’t you think?

    –After those two walks, Chris Heisey came to the plate and promptly hacked at the first pitch (lifting a lazy pop fly for the second out).”

    I heard the very frustrating bottom of the 9th from Marty and Brantley. They were justifiably pissed off for Heisey’s swinging at the first pitch after Burton walked two, especially when that first pitch was a “pitcher’s pitch”, not easy to hit.

    But they praised the first pitch bunt by Harris. How is that any better ? As pointed out by Chad, it’s worse in the sense of being an intentional out. Shouldn’t Harris be taking a pitch after Burton walks Frazer, leading off, on 5 pitches ?
    The sac bunt was most likely useless, given that Rolen drew a walk which would have moved the runner up anyway.

    I love it when, after a Reds reliever has just come into a game and walks the lead off hitter, the other team bunts, giving up an out and helping the pitcher to settle down.

    • Steve Mancuso

      pinson343: I heard the very frustrating bottom of the 9th from Marty and Brantley. They were justifiably pissed off for Heisey’s swinging at the first pitch after Burton walked two, especially when that first pitch was a “pitcher’s pitch”, not easy to hit.

      But they praised the first pitch bunt by Harris. How is that any better ? As pointed out by Chad, it’s worse in the sense of being an intentional out. Shouldn’t Harris be taking a pitch after Burton walks Frazer, leading off, on 5 pitches ?
      The sac bunt was most likely useless, given that Rolen drew a walk which would have moved the runner up anyway.

      I love it when, after a Reds reliever has just come into a game and walks the lead off hitter, the other team bunts, giving up an out and helping the pitcher to settle down.

      Great point.

  48. Racine Red

    @pinson343: As I’ve said a lot, in many people’s view (not just the Brennamen twins), a sac bunt is always the right play.

  49. Steve Mancuso

    Chapman’s steamy fastball and delivery may be enough to strike out bottom of some orders, regardless of location. Remember that a few of his first saves were against the lower teams and the lesser parts of their lineups.

    But he’ll need more than a smokin’ fastball against good teams and great hitters usually. Seems like when he throws his slider now, it has to be perfect the very first time or the game suddenly is on the line. That’s a lot of pressure.

    Chapman is certainly proving to be no better than a good closer.

    He may, in fact, be best suited for starting. He was good at it in his brief trial during spring training. I really wish the Reds would give him that chance again.

  50. Matt WI

    Well here’s what I’ll be hoping for. Put this one to bed, and get focused on the Brewers. As always, the sooner to their bullpen, the better the chances of winning. Take 2 of 3 and get ready to head west. Keep the ball in the park tonight Mr. Latos.

  51. Big Ed

    Chapman needs to develop his slider and perhaps another pitch to be effective over the long run, whether as a starter or a closer. I don’t see how he is going to develop the slider in his current role. I would disable Chapman, then bring him back at Louisville as a starter in his “rehab” stint. That would enable him to get in plenty of bullpens to work on his slider, to get stretched out over the next few weeks, and then to start for the Reds in August and September.

    To start Chapman, though, means an injury or demotion for one of the present starters. I think Arroyo just can’t get lefties out anymore, and he should be the odd man out. Alas, Arroyo is a Proven Veteran and may therefore be untouchable.

  52. CaptainTonyKW

    Willingham sure would have looked good wearing red.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Willingham sure would have looked good wearing red.

      Oh, man. Yes.

      I bet the Reds regret not signing him. And not because of the HR yesterday. But because they apparently decided later to raise their payroll. He might have fit.

  53. RC

    A nice changeup might have been the pitch to put Mauer away yesterday. I’m glad they’re calling the slider more often, and hopefully Chap’ll be able to find the plate with it soon. But against someone like Mauer, it’d be nice to see that missing third pitch, too. Can we send out a search party?

  54. Matt WI

    @RC: It’s one of the unresolved mysteries from “Lost.”

  55. wally mo

    chapman seemed pretty adamant that he wasn’t injured at all, and in fact, he seemed annoyed that dusty had said something to reporters. specifically he said “i don’t know where you guys got the back thing,” the answer of course being baker.

    it looks mental to me. he doesn’t look comfortable at all, and why should he? it seems like overnight he went from the best pitcher in history to not being able to get through a single inning.

    the pressure of being perfect is clearly getting to him, which is just another reason to make him a starter. if chapman gives up a solo shot or a two run shot in the third inning, he can regroup and still have a good start overall, even get the win. in the situation he’s in now, he can’t do that, and that’s a very tough situation for someone who doesn’t really have great control.

    as a closer, you really can’t afford to walk people, or to leave your fastball at the belt all the time. in fact, as i think about it, closing seems like the worst possible role for chapman. good job reds.

    • Steve Mancuso

      the pressure of being perfect is clearly getting to him, which is just another reason to make him a starter. if chapman gives up a solo shot or a two run shot in the third inning, he can regroup and still have a good start overall, even get the win. in the situation he’s in now, he can’t do that, and that’s a very tough situation for someone who doesn’t really have great control.

      as a closer, you really can’t afford to walk people, or to leave your fastball at the belt all the time. in fact, as i think about it, closing seems like the worst possible role for chapman.

      This makes sense. He can be successful closing in situations that others could as well (weak parts of lineups, with more than one run leads etc.). He will have more chance to settle in and get his secondary pitches going as a starter. Your point about having more room for mistakes is also good.

      Just hard to believe the Reds aren’t even interested in trying it.

  56. wally mo

    Do these ERA’s remind you of anything?

    Cueto – 1.67
    Leake – 3.41
    Bailey 4.22
    Arroyo 6.26

    Those are the numbers from the last 30 days, and they look very similar to what those pitcher’s did last year. Certainly in order of effectiveness, but pretty close on some of the actual numbers as well.

    It may be that the first month or so of the season was just an outlier. Leake is again pitching like the #2 on this staff, Arroyo is again throwing batting practice, and Homer is again slightly worse than average.

    Unfortunately, the fix we brought in has been the worst of them all for the last month.

    Latos: 6.75