August 3, 2009

Motivation, Need, and Decent Pitching

At least Paul Janish has an excuse.Before the Aaron Harang took the mound against the Cubs tonight, Thom Brennaman was heard to say on the pre-game show that this game is a “must-win” for the Reds. This got me to thinking: do the Reds need to win tonight’s game? It’s only the grace of the Pirates’ loss last night that the Reds are tied for fifth instead of in sole possession of dead last.

At 11 games back, it’s a little hard to imagine this game being of particular importance to the Reds as a team. To individual managers, sure, but not to the team as a whole.

At just half a game back and in second place, this game could be pretty darn important to the Cubs. That got me wondering whether the Reds shouldn’t go easy on the baby bears tonight. But no. That way madness lies.

On our way home from a particularly long weekend road trip yesterday, the Crack Technical Staff and I were talking about who should be to blame. One idea stuck with me, and I couldn’t shake it: why didn’t the change in ownership fix things? All those years of telling ourselves that if only the team had an owner that knew the game, that would invest a little, the team could win.

Along comes Bob Castellini and the current ownership group, and things did immediately improve. But as we chatted, we realized that “things” hadn’t improved, “marketing” had. The team harvested a lot of low-hanging fruit in packaging up shitty tix with opening day ones and bringing the Reds Caravan into Indianapolis, giving the illusion of a well-run team.

The one person they did invest in, Dusty Baker, might even have been a marketing decision. They hired him so quickly they couldn’t have actually interviewed a full panel of candidates, and my experience is that average fans–the kind who check out an occasional box score but don’t actually tune in for games–love him. “In Dusty We Trusty.”

And there’s been no talk of his job being on the line, despite the performance of the team, which really makes me wonder about the motivations of the management. At some point, though, I hope they’ll realize that “Muncie, Indiana Day” at the ballpark will convince some to come out, but a winning team is what will really put butts in the seats.

But they’re pretty far from that right now. Even the pitching staff that people are quick to defend is only good in comparison to the offense and to previous years: not to other teams’. League average runs allowed: 4.20. Reds’ average runs allowed: 4.48.

Admittedly, that number is influenced by the defense, too, but so what? Isn’t that the whole damn reason Alex Gonzales is on the roster?

So, regardless of whether this game actually is a “must win” for Cincinnati tonight, as they’re down 3-0 in the top of the sixth, it’s certainly not a “likely win.”

4 comments to “Motivation, Need, and Decent Pitching”

  1. chuck says:

    did you hear what was said by either thom or chris in the bottom of the 9th? gonzales was up and ballentine was on deck and they were gloating all over ballentine saying did you see him hitting balls out of here in batting practice? reminds me of rubin mateo. i turned to my wife ( who is smarter than dusty and pohl when it comes time to take a pitcher out and i quote ” they should have taken him out 2 homers ago” and said remember rubin? she said who? my thoughts exactly. i told her he was almost like willy mo
    i am begginning to miss adam dunn

  2. chuck says:

    update on rubin
    played 2 years in cincy 2002 2003 in outfield
    batted .256 and .242
    5 hr and 25 rbi
    walked 18 and struckout 73
    4 errors
    we as reds fans don’t have much to look forward to

  3. Bob C. becomes owner of Reds.
    Hires Wayne Krivsky as GM. Krivsky makes some bad moves and some good moves but it cannot be doubted that he re-stocked the minor league talent pool and also plucked Volquez out of thin air. Jerry Narron is sadlled with the worst bullpen in the majors and is not provided with a closer. Krivsky finds a closer but only after Narron has been fired. We will never know how much better narron woud have fared had he been given a legit closer.

    Enter Dusty Baker who now has a better team (with Cordero as closer) than Jerry Narron ever had and proceeds to sink them straight into oblivion. Bob C. sees the opportunity to bring his pal Walt Jocketty in, which immediately terminates whatever vision/plan Krivsky was working on as a number of scouts and assistants are also replaced. Dusty blames his woes on the now-departed Krivsky and Walt announces that he will be evaluating the team for the remainder of the season. They dump Dunn and Griff and we get the feeling the organization is about to make a huge change in team chemistry. They definitely do this when they replaced the void of power with a speedster with deficient on-base skills and a couple of career minor leaguers.

    So you have to blame ownership for changing horses in midstream, you have to blame whomever was behind the Dusty Baker hiring and you most definitely have to blame Walt Jocketty for bringing in Taveras as his only major offseason acquisition. I seriously doubt Baker was Krivsky’s hiring. Like RHM pointed out there were no press releases of any kind of a formal interview process or multiple candidates in the running. Why was it all done in secret? Was Baker brought in as a minority coach so that the city of Cincinnati could make the claim that they are the first major city to have both a black baseball manager and a black head football coach? Was this a publicity stunt / PR move more than a baseball decision? I think it is very possible, and if that is the case it is the exact reason why we find ourselves in our current predicament. If baker was brought in as a baseball man and for baseball reasons then that was a huge mistake because he is a very poor fit for a team trying to go young. he is killing the young arms and has always favored mediocre veterans over talented youngsters. When he does play the youngsters (usually when injury forces his hand) it almost seems spiteful the way he puts them in a position to fail as if he wants to vindicate his attitude of favoring vets. For instance notice how Rosales batted 2nd in the lineup instead of protecting him in the 8-spot tonight.

    I don’t know what to say other than the record of this team speaks for itself and everyone in this organization should be axed. We need a new owner and a brand new plan.

  4. One other thing. We need to remember how Krivsky was given an ORDER to bring in Patterson at whatever the cost. Clearly Krivsky was upset about it or he wouldn’t have mentioned it upon his firing. This created the rift between him and Baker which ultimately resulted in Krivsky’s firing. If Baker was Krivsky’s man why did they have a disagreement about Patterson??? So I believe Krivsky was undermined towards the end of his tenure and was FORCED to sign both Dusty Baker and Corey Patterson. Therein lies your blame. Why did Bob sabotage Krivsky? Because he couldn’t wait to be reunited with Walt? So they could bring back Rolen a year later? Maybe the front office who were formerly part of the Cardinals ownership group ARE STILL LOYAL to the Cardinals. You know George Grande is clearly biased towards the Cardinals as they were his former employer, is it a stretch that Bob is still loyal to the Cardinals and is operating the Reds simply as a business and really wants the Cardinals to continue dominating the division? Conspiracy theory I know, but the results are so poor right now its difficult to believe this team is really trying to win.