Friday, July 24, 2009

We've lost 5 in a row, and I am wondering what's going on...

Current Team Problems

I will admit that a 2:20pm day game on a Friday and a 1:10pm day game in Chicago took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting all of these early games, but then again, I also didn't look at the current schedule. The advantage of being laid off from work/unemployed is that I get to watch day baseball games. I won't lie - I love it!

Nonetheless, I wasn't expecting much from the Reds against the Cubs, and here's why:

- Dusty continues to bat the worst offensive player in the Major Leagues in the lead off position (Willy Taveras, .249 BA and .289 OBP) and Jerry Hairson, Jr (batting .253 BA and .306 OBP) 2nd.

- Dusty continues to bat Ryan Hanigan (.323 BA and .414 OBP) in the 7th and 8th spots of the lineup.

- He continues to have guys free-swinging in late innings when behind.

- He continues to sit Jonny Gomes (.292 BA and .382 OBP) and give Laynce Nix (.240 BA and .290 OBP) every day playing time. If Nix hadn't been hurt the last few days, do you think Gomes would be in there? My guess is NO, he wouldn't.

So, essentially, Dusty is batting 3 guys in the lineup that hardly EVER get on-base. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are being forced to hit solo home runs and 2-out doubles that doesn't drive in a single run. Not to mention, players aren't taking strikes. They're swinging at the first strike they see in the last 4 innings of the game(s). On Friday, I saw 3 out of 5 batters in one inning (late in the game, can't remember the exact inning) swing at the first pitch they saw. 2 of them were pop-outs in the infield. Where is the plate discipline? I understand being aggressive, but being over-aggressive late in the game is going to accumulate quick outs. This team needs guys to be patient at the plate. Take until you get a strike! Especially against a pitcher like Carlos Marmol who has a 56 strike out to 44 walk ratio. The guy is naturally wild, so why go up there in the 8th inning free-swinging against the guy? It doesn't add up. It doesn't make sense.

This is a team that is giving marginal to low-level pitchers in the league the advantage every single game. And why is that? Because Dusty Baker is not a manager. He's a guy that simply makes out lineups (which don't make baseball sense, by the way), charms the media with his inconsistencies, and gets out-managed by every Manager in the majors. Just look at his record against Joe Torre!

A Problem Larger Than The Manager

Enough with Dusty Baker. He's just one part of the Reds problem. I honestly hate ripping the guy, because it's not quite all his fault he's consistently fed with crap. After all, it was Walt Jocketty that signed Willy Taveras in the off-season and actually "praised" his production. I'd hate to burst Walt's bubble, but batting .250 with barely a .300 OBP and stealing 70 bases isn't production. It just means the guy is fast and never walks.

Walt needs to just cut his losses and plan for 2010. Here's the moves that need to be made to compete in 2010 and beyond:

- Do not re-sign Ramon Hernandez. I'm tired of seeing a .240 hitter playing before Ryan Hanigan, who is young, and is batting .323 - Ramon is a veteran with years of experience, I'll give him that. But he doesn't belong in the lineup just because he's a veteran. Take notes on that, Dusty!

- Do not re-sign Alex Gonzalez. His career is over, sadly. I liked Alex's first year production with the Reds. But one year of production and 2 years of injuries doesn't justify resigning the guy. Paul Janish is not an everyday SS, either. Jocketty needs to be on the hunt this off-season for a guy that can play every day, has good production, and has experienced WINNING. I can't express the importance of what I just said...A WINNER! A guy that wants to be out there every single day and wants to be a World Champion now and in the future.

- Trade Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang, and do it BEFORE the end of 2009! These guys are more than capable of bringing in a few prospects. Prospects that could help out this team possibly in 2010. GET IT DONE NOW! The constant excuse of "waiting things out" is just not going to cut it this time, Walt!

- Either trade Edwin Encarnacion or transition the guy into an outfielder. The Reds need an exceptional third baseman. Poor/Mediocre doesn't cut it. I love Edwin's production, but I ABSOLUTELY LOATHE his defense. If you can't transition him, trade him in 2009 for someone like Scott Rolen, and lock Rolen up for 2010. I would honestly do a Bronson Arroyo/Edwin Encarnacion for Scott Rolen trade straight up. You're freeing enough salary to cover Rolen, and getting a hot stick and defensive gem in return. Rolen is toward the end of his career, but if The Reds are looking to win in 2010 (like Castellini and Jocketty will continue to let you believe like they have done the past 4 years), he can help them get there. After then, they've got Juan Francisco (who has unbelievable power) and Todd Frazier (who also has good power) on the verge of breaking through to Majors. Get these guys to take walks, and then we're talkin'!

- Sign ANOTHER big bat. The Cardinals and Cubs continue to make the needed additions, why can't The Reds? The constant salary excuse is getting old, because Jocketty himself said that The Reds are able to take on salary if needed. If so, THEN DO IT, WALT!

- Re-sign Jonny Gomes. Let him play every day in left field. Sure, his defense isn't the greatest, but generally, your left fielder is the worst fielder on your team anyway. Dare to argue with me on that? Adam Dunn, Alfonso Soriano, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Carlos Quinten...all of these guys...not good at fielding. Look up their Zone Ratings and compare them to other position players.

- Re-sign Jerry Hairson, Jr ONLY if he is willing to accept a reserve role. The guy is versatile, but his production stinks and he isn't an every day player. He gets hurt too often.

Right now, I don't have much more to say on this because quite frankly...I'm worn out. I'm tired of thinking about how much this team stinks, and why they aren't making the moves they need to on the field and in the front office. It's an exhausting thing to think about. I think I'm going to take a week or so break from this team. Right now, watching them lose 75% of the time is depressing.

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