Monthly Archives: July 2013

July 31, 2013

Qualls’ pratfall

It’s not Reds-related or even NLC-related, but Chad Qualls’ stumble after a fist pump last night makes me snort ever time I see it.

Dusty Baker hasn’t given a single word of disapproval so far. Just goes to show that if Aroldis Chapman had just pumped his fist first, then those forward rolls wouldn’t have gotten him in any trouble.

July 30, 2013

Latos to face Volques in homecoming

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman smokes a cigar.

Save the game, not the cigar. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

The Padres handed the Reds their fourth loss in a row last night. This west coast visit started out so promising, but last night’s loss pulled the winning percentage for the road trip under the .500 mark.

I didn’t stay up for it myself, so I didn’t know that it was Chris “The Heartthrob” Denorfia that pounded the last nail into the coffin of the Reds’ hopes last night until I saw it on Facebook.

Aroldis Chapman came in to hold the 1-0 lead that the Reds had, walked the first guy he faced (Yonder Alonso), and then gave up the dinger. Maybe he should chalk it up to not having pitched in nine days.

You might think that Dino (and Alonso, I guess) was out for revenge against his former team, but 1) that would be an awfully long time to hold a grudge, and 2) Denorfia has not historically played that well against the Reds. His career line against Cincinnati is only .240/.240/.560, which makes the Reds one of his worst opponents.

He’s best against the Pirates with .344/.431/.607. Hopefully he’ll be showing that off when the Pirates make their late-season trip to San Diego in three weeks. The Reds could use some help beating up on the division leaders.

Incidentally, the Reds have never walked Denorfia. I guess they should have started last night.

Tonight we see another, much more recent, former Red in Edinson Volquez (RHP, 8-8, 5.70 ERA). He’ll be pitching against he for whom he was traded, Mat Latos (RHP, 10-3, 3.39 ERA).

You’ve got to like our chances in this one, with Latos coming off such a fine performance against the Dodgers and Volquez floundering a little lately. But we all know that no amount of excellent pitching will put runs on the board, and that’s what the Reds have been failing to do lately.

July 29, 2013

Does the Reds front office really think the team has a chance this year?

It's an old picture, but that expression pretty much sums it up.

It’s an old picture, but that expression pretty much sums it up.

As July winds down, talk in baseball always turns to the non-waiver trade deadline. After that date, trades, although not impossible, become trickier to accomplish. With the Reds sitting in third place, 5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, there’s certainly room for improvements, right?

Only if the front office believes in the team’s ability to win. And it doesn’t sound like general manager Walt Jocketty’s sold on that.

Jocketty doesn’t see the need for a shakeup.

“We’ve got a solid club,” he said. “The difference this year is our division is stronger. We hit a little tough spell before the All-Star break, but we’re playing well now.”

You know, except for losing three of four games to the Los Angeles Dodgers because the offense couldn’t score any runs. Other than that, the team’s been doing great since the break.

Jocketty does profess to realize the need for a right-handed bat. But his own arguments against it are odd.

“If we do acquire a right-handed bat, what do we do with Ludwick when he gets back?” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “If there is somebody available that can definitely help the club, we’ll certainly take a look. To this point, we haven’t had any conversations with a club that indicated that.”

Yes, Ludwick is supposed to be coming back from the disabled list sooner than later–he’s on a rehab assignment now. But if there’s an upgrade better than the guys currently filling in for Ludwick, finding a space on the roster for him doesn’t sound difficult. Certainly not so difficult that it should prevent you from making the trade. Not unless you have a feeling that the 2013 Reds aren’t good enough to go all the way and might not be worth the investment.

“There’s not too much we can do. We’ve got four guys on the disabled list and when we get them back, it strengthens our club even more,” Jocketty said. “I don’t want to trade prospects to improve the club.”

That doesn’t strike me as the vote of confidence Jocketty might have meant it to be. He’s a GM who always keeps deals secret until the end, but this sounds a bit like this year’s team isn’t worth the effort.

The only reinforcements are the guys on the disabled list. Which could be enough, but you’re assuming that they’ll be ready to go right off the DL and that no one else will get injured for the rest of the season. Those are a couple very large assumptions to make. But they do make sense if you’re not confident in the team’s chances and prefer to wait until next year to try again.

July 26, 2013

Devin divines diamond success

Mesoraco returns to the dugout after tying the game.

Mesoraco following a game-tying home run in May.

Everybody’s writing about the recent success that Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco has been having this month.

First, Red Reporter talks about how Mesoraco, kind of forgotten, may well become the right-handed impact bat the Reds have sorely needed.

[T]he 2013 Reds lack an offensive player who is outperforming expectations. They’re like a tech company, twelve years after going public, whose stock takes a hit when they meet their revenue numbers for a quarter but decline to raise targets by 8%….In truth, there wasn’t a single player expected to contribute who you could truly point to and say “yeah, he might really blow our expectations out the of the water.”

It’s a good point. Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips aren’t likely to be better than they’ve been the last few years. What they already are is pretty great. We know what they’re going to do. Todd Frazier and Zach Cozart are early enough in their careers that they could surprise, but they’re performing in line with what was predicted at the beginning of the season.

Which leaves Devin Mesoraco, a guy who’s getting his first taste of regular playing time with Ryan Hanigan on the disabled list for an extended period of time.

The #15 overall draft pick in the 2007 draft has caught fire, and it’s likely no coincidence that the most productive month of his career is coinciding with the month where he’s on pace to have his most consistent playing time. He’s currently .354/.396/.552 tear through 53 PA in July, and with 7 games left in the month (and Ryan Hanigan still on the DL), he looks poised to surpass his previous career high of 60 PA in a month despite the fact that the All-Star break took 4 days off the schedule.

Obviously, that’s a small sample size, but it’s encouraging. Mesoraco has never hit this well in the majors. He has a history of taking time to adjust to new levels of competition. Plus, as a catcher, he has more to learn than any other position player.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer noticed Mesoraco’s recent surge, too.

He went into Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers with 12 hits in his last 27 at-bats. Among those hits were three doubles and two home runs. He entered the game hitting .262 with a .327 on-base percentage and .407 slugging percentage. Those numbers are comparable to Brandon Phillips.

Of course, the one potential roadblock to Mesoraco becoming the Reds’ surprise bat of the season is Dusty Baker.

“Hanigan is still going to get in there,” Baker said. “There are certain teams that don’t run when Hanigan’s in there. There are certain guys that throw well to him. I’m fortunate to have a veteran guy and a guy that’s on the way and learning.

“Someday, the job is going to be Meso’s. It’s just not now.”

Not that I expect Baker to anoint Mesoraco after one good month, but the feeling I get from this quote is that it’s almost an impossibility for Mesoraco to become the primary catcher this year, no matter what he does. I know Baker likes to protect his players–in this case Hanigan–but this is one of those times it makes him come across as an inflexible manager in a game that requires constant adjustment.

If Mesoraco continues hitting like he has in July and Hanigan struggles after he’s activated, I am confident the playing time will resolve itself, though.

July 25, 2013

Injury Report

Ryan Ludwick

Ryan Ludwick was sent out on rehab assignment with the class A Dayton Dragons yesterday while they played the Lansing Lugnuts. Ludwick was the DH and had three plate appearances. He popped out, walked, and singled. Nice that he’s trying out all the possibilities. Perhaps tonight he could try out that home run muscle.

Ludwick has been out of the major league line-up since Opening Day. We may finally get him back in a couple more weeks.

Don't overdo it, dude.

Don’t overdo it, dude.

Zack Cozart
Zack Cozart went 4-for-4 in the first game of the doubleheader against the Giants on Tuesday, but he wasn’t feeling as great about that as he should have been. Instead, he was pulled before the game was over with stiffness in his left hip. He did pinch hit (or “pinch struck out” as it were) in the second game, but he wasn’t in the lineup at all yesterday.

Cozart is listed as day-to-day.

Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan was looking good to come back to the Reds and relieve Corky Miller of the limelight behind the plate, but he did a few too many exercises and is now too sore to play. You’ve got to be careful when you hit your thirties; just a few more pilates than you’re used to can lay you up.

To be clear, the wrist that originally took him out is just fine. He’s just sore. He’ll be back in a few days.

Jonathan Broxton

Hey, remember Broxton? He threw his second bullpen yesterday and rocked it. He’ll throw a live bullpen session in LA, and we might have him back before the road trip is even over.