On Friday night we saw what had to be the best defensive play that Jesse Winker has ever made. The left fielder ranged back to the warning track before leaping at the wall and taking a home run away from Eric Hosmer.

Watching it live, the immediate reaction from Winker seemed to be one of “I would have had that if the fans hadn’t been there”, but it turned out that was the reaction of “heck yeah I caught that ball”.

But let’s talk about that “This man deserves to be an All-Star” tag the Reds used in the tweet. They are not wrong. At all. There’s almost no way he doesn’t make the All-Star team. You can argue that he’s the best hitter in the National League right now. He’s hitting .344 (which leads the league) with 17 home runs, 43 RBI, and an OPS of 1.035.

While looking up some stats this morning I noticed something absolutely crazy: Jesse Winker has played in 62 games this year. At no point after a single game was his OPS any lower than .936 on the season. He’s only finished a game with an OPS under 1.000 eight times. The lowest his batting average has been after a game was completed is .338 and that came on May 20th.

Joey Votto’s Ejection

It’s still tough to really know what happened with yesterday’s ejection of Joey Votto. It began when he disagreed with the third base umpire who said he swung, rather than checked his swing on what wound up being a called strike three. Votto told the third base umpire, assuming my lip reading skills are good enough, “I didn’t go on that one”. He was on his way to the dugout at that point and wasn’t overly upset. But a few seconds later he heard something from the plate and turned and asked “what did you say to me?!” and that’s when Votto came to the plate to argue with the home plate umpire Ryan Additon. David Bell and Freddie Benavides both came onto the field to try and get between Votto and Additon. It didn’t exactly work well.

Joey Votto was ejected from the game and continued to get his money’s worth, but eventually everyone headed back to the dugout. But things weren’t over there, as a Padres fans right next to the Reds dugout was ejected from the game. We still don’t really know what took place there. But a few seconds later the crew chief came over to the dugout to talk with David Bell and informed him that during the argument at the plate he was also ejected and he didn’t seem to know it. That led to another on-field argument as Bell also got his money’s worth.

If nothing else, and there wasn’t much good to take from the sequence of events, it did lead to Joey Votto showing how awesome he is. A 6-year-old Joey Votto fan was at her first baseball game and was heart broken to find out that after that point Votto would no longer be playing in the game.

Not all was lost, though. The Reds and eventually Joey Votto saw the tweet and made the best of a bad situation. Votto sent out an autographed baseball for Abigail with a personalized note on it.

As reported by Mark Sheldon of Reds.com – Kyle Farmer and Lucas Sims had provided autographs for the family’s children prior to the game, too.

The shaky bullpen returns

Tejay Antone, where art thou? Well, the good news is that he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session today and if it goes as expected he should be activated on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins.

After about a two week stretch of the Reds bullpen looking strong as an entire unit, the three games in San Diego have been a big welcome back to reality moment.The series began when Cincinnati scored four runs in the top of the 9th inning to grab a 4-2 lead. With a bullpen that didn’t have several guys available the Reds turned to Ryan Hendrix to try and close the game out. Instead he and Amir Garrett combined to allow four runs while recording just one out as the Padres walked it off.

Friday saw David Bell take a risk in pinch-hitting for starter Tony Santillan in the top of the 4th inning with two men on in a 1-run game, hoping to get some more runs on the board. Shogo Akiyama instead struck out to end the inning. The bullpen then immediately gave up two runs, and three more later as the Padres secured an 8-2 win. Last night the bullpen looked to keep a 5-5 game all tied up. It didn’t happen as Ha-seong Kim hit a 2-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 8th to put San Diego ahead for good as the Padres clinched a series win.

There aren’t really any answers right now in the minor leagues. Perhaps you can put Tony Santillan in the bullpen when Sonny Gray returns and that could help. But that leaves you with one less option for a starter if someone were to get injured again. Something has to change, though. The Reds are currently just three games back of first place and with even a below-average bullpen they could be leading the division. Instead they’ve got a fuel tanker and a flame thrower for a bullpen.

There aren’t exactly free agents out there on June 20th. Trades could be there, but that would require ownership being willing to pay the salary of an acquisition and there’s absolutely no reason at all to believe that’s going to happen. That puts the front office, the manager, and the players all in a bad position. Nick Krall and his crew look bad because they aren’t making moves and get blamed for not being creative enough, or making all of these acquisitions of poor relievers. David Bell gets criticized for not bringing in the right bullpen arm when the reality is there is not an answer no matter what he does given what options he actually has to pick from. Some of the relievers simply aren’t good enough. And the position guys, and starting pitchers deserve better. They are put in an impossible situation. And all of it comes back to ownership not being willing to commit to actually trying to put a winning team on the field this year.

27 Responses

  1. ohiojimwalker

    Amen to that final paragraph. The reason for the season in a nutshell.

    Never a real SS. 2 projected key cogs (Senzel and Moustakis) on the 60 day IL and they soldier on demonstrating almost every day that with a couple of consistent league average relievers they could stand and trade with about anyone not just in the division but also the entire league.

    • RojoB

      Doug, you said it all!

      “And all of it comes back to ownership not being willing to commit to actually trying to put a winning team on the field this year.”

      Frustrating, because last “season” they pretended to by “buying” at the deadline–wasting prospects for nothing

  2. RedsMonk65

    Any word on Max Shrock’s status?

    With all the injuries (Senzel, Moustakas, Blandino, etc.), we’re also really, really thin in the reserve infielder department, as evidenced yesterday when Votto got thrown out. Farmer is OK, but could also probably use a day off now and then. I won’t even talk about Suarez (who did, I acknowledge have a better game yesterday — from an offensive standpoint). Whether it’s Shrock or someone else, I’d like to see some better options.

    • Doc4uk

      Freeman and Heineman should be sent to Louisville ( neither has shown anything and Heineman should have scooped the errant throw by Suarez) and replaced by Barrero and Lopez ASAP

      • RedsMonk65

        Yes, not impressed by either Freeman or Heineman. I wouldn’t mind a new face or two if someone is available and qualified (AAA). Doug would have a better grasp on that than I would.

        Bullpen, I agree, is our most pressing problem right now. But lack of quality reserve infielders comes in second, IMO.

  3. Doc4uk

    Has Osich really shown that he can be any better than what he have? If so I have missed it

    • RojoB

      He has a pulse, can stand upright, and throws with the left hand.

      He’s qualified at this juncture

    • Doc

      Since Goudeax had thrown 53 pitches the game before, if I recall, then Yes, Osich is better. He can pitch, Goudeax is not available. Of course, Osich didn’t get in the game, but travel might have had something to do with that.

    • JB

      Diehl is left handed and better numbers, but not on the 40 man roster. The front office would rather hold on to some of their garbage they signed than put Diehl on the 40 and call him up.

  4. Bred

    Great parting words, Doug. I don’t know the number of games the pen has blown, but I believe the Reds would be on top of the division and be a real threat in the playoffs IF ownership had allowed for professional pen. Nothing personal against the AAAA pitchers the Reds have rolled out but they stink! Instead of this tease of a season, we could be enjoying a team that was built to win. And that success could have come without a SS. I feel like a P.T. Barnum sucker following this team.

      • Bred

        It’s kinda like quitting smoking. You try to give it up until your last breath.

  5. RojoB

    “At no point after a single game was his OPS any lower than .936 on the season. He’s only finished a game with an OPS under 1.000 eight times. The lowest his batting average has been after a game was completed is .338 and that came on May 20th.”

    Has something like this been accomplished by players before and if so, who have they been?

  6. Bet on Red

    Lineup posted. The great search of Akiyama has ended as he is starting with Casti getting the day off. Real sweet what Joey did for that girl. Just speculating but I bet he also arranged tickets for today’s game as well.

    This team is holding water, I understand that everyone is upset about the general garbage like play from the Freemans and the Heineman’s, but remember if this team was completely healthy you wouldn’t have to worry about that since they would be the Louisville Bats problems. Doug is right though. The bullpen is a Nick Krall problem. If he isn’t getting funds then he needs to work a way into getting someone cheap good players.

    • Klugo

      Saw that coming out of Spring Training, too. Competitive bunch as long as everyone was healthy because the depth was not there.

      • ohiojimwalker

        Given the Reds have played their best and most consistent overall baseball during the last month without Moustakis and Senzel and projected bench stalwart Farmer playing as an everyday player almost from the get go, the original MLB position bench has probably performed better than we might have ever expected.

        On the other hand, the so positional organizational depth guys have come up wanting at MLB; but, how many organizations could be filling those spots better in the current climate? It is a head scratcher that Alfredo Rodriguez hasn’t gotten a look. He can play SS, is now playing a lot of 2B and presumably could play 3B or 1B without much issue in a pinch given he can play the middle IF spots. And I have to wonder what the development plan for Jose (Garcia) Barrero is. He looks ready for (at least) AAA and is on the 40 man roster yet remains at AA (Chattanooga).

        On the other hand, the extended injury to Lorenzen and more recent injury to Atone has completed the exposure of the pen and lack of depth there.

      • Klugo

        Good point, Jim. Sometimes I forget that we are over .500 and in the thick of things despite all of the injuries. The replacement level players haven’t completely negated the above replacement players.

      • JB

        Jim- AlfRods hitting is starting to match the back of his card. Mendoza line is fast approaching. I would rather keep Farmer. If Suarez and the Bullpen would be doing their job they get paid to do and Castillo didnt come out of the gate horribly, we wouldnt even be talking about Farmer. We would be content with him until Barrero gets up here.

      • Bet on Red

        Yea, I have to disagree on A Rodriguez, he is not going to be the answer at short in the majors, because evidently, he isn’t even the answer at short for the Bats. Also, those calling for a rapid ascent of the “great three” ( Lodolo, Greene, and Berrero), there are issues with all three. Hunter gave up three home runs before he recorded three strikeouts. That does not say MLB ready to me. Soon, yea, but adding him even to the bullpen will just for right now show the same result as we are still getting. Judging by the lack of his name in the Chattanooga box scores for the last week plus Lodolo blister issues are creating an injury problem. I think that as soon as that heals and he gets one or two starts to make sure he will be joining Hunter in Louisville and we can reassess. I think Berrero would already be in AAA if his mother had not died. It is obviously an unfortunate thing to lose a parent and I think the Reds organization is not trying to complicate the issue rn. Once Berrero indicates he is ok I think there will be upward movement there too.

      • ohiojimwalker

        @JB RE: AlfRod> Sometimes you have to try to catch lightning in a bottle or it is gone for good. Not saying this was the case with AlfRod but given what they were going thru when he was hotter than hot, why not take a shot. Alejo Lopez is going through the same now. I see they have moved hm from 3B to 2B to see what they might have in the way of utility with him; but as Doug pointed out several days apparently they are convinced he is not SS material

    • Bred

      Before I could afford a loan to buy a decent car, I bought clunkers. I knew I buying a headache that was past its prime. Ownership gave Krall no money to replace the pieces he shipped off, so what else is he going to do but buy junk? How demoralizing that must be to the guys who put out quality work everyday knowing no lead is big enough.

  7. Scott C

    Could not agree with you more about ownership. I think Bell has done a great job considering what he has to work with.
    And Joey Votto is Awesome.

  8. Ghostrunner_onthird

    I do not care at this point regarding any of the proverbial BP counter arguments nor the player development-oriented touch points. Hunter Greene right now has to be in the bullpen mix. He is the answer. We’re giving away games after the sixth. We need a stop gap time now.

    • Jimbo44CN

      I think you may be correct. I thought about leaving him at Triple A to get more seasoning, but this team needs his arm, now. We have a chance to be in the division race this year, and like many others, I am tired of “wait til next year”. We could have one both those games with a decent bullpen.

    • ohiojimwalker

      After Greene’s 1st start at AAA, I think he needs to experience some more just what the step up is from where he had been working. He came into that game as Hunter Greene the untouchable which he had been at AA. He left the mound early as Hunter Greene the untouchable except for the 4 times he missed on his location, probably throwing the ball into spots he would have gotten away with at AA.

      Let’s give him a chance to figure out at AAA just here he can get away with locating his stuff there before exposing him to the full MLB experience where a similar adjustment will probably also be required. From what I’ve seen of Greene, I suspect it won’t take him very long.

      And when Greene arrives at MLB, maybe he pushes somebody else from the rotation to the pen (Santillan, Hoffman or Gutierrez) versus going to the pen himself.

      • m2

        Absolutely agree Mr. Greene needs more time with the Bats. Let him profit from competing with better talent. Once he demonstrates he is up to the challenge move him up.

        Once again I find myself taking exception to the crush on Votto. First, those of you that saw the strikeout, did Votto swing in your opinion? Was this the first ejection for Votto? Did he help his club with the ejection? Was his onfield behavior something we want our five and six year Olds to use as a model? How about his words (not covered here BTW) after the recent sweep of the Cards (incidentally he had no involvrment in)? Others have proclaimed him the veteran leader. By what calculus did they reach that pronouncement? No I don’t view Mr. Votto that way at all.

  9. realist

    I love the parting shot to ownership, and the expected bull pen crash. Krall was given a bad hand that is true but he did absolutely nothing to help. It looks like he didn’t even try. What is true is that this ownership doesn’t care about winning or competing just finish in front of the Pirates and all is well.