Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Forgettable Season May Force Changes at the Top


by: Jack Ward
Staff Writer

Things are getting very bleak. The Reds young starters are getting worse rather than improving. They are 23-46 in their last 69 games. That’s horrible for guys you are going to depend on next season. This gives me great concern for 2016. I knew the Reds after trading Cueto and Leake would not be very good but to be this bad was something I never figured. I liked their young pitchers and I still think they can be good but they need to be very good next year. Good won’t cut it in the National League Central division next season. All of Reds nation has reason to be concerned.

It looks like the Reds will wind up losing maybe 97-98 games this year. That is something that no one predicted at the start of the year. I figured maybe 79-83 at the worst! But 65-97 is just unbelievable!

A team with great players like Votto, Frazier, Phillips, Bruce and Chapman losing more games than the Miami Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers (who have traded off just about everybody) is just plain unacceptable! The Reds are battling just to stay ahead of the pitiful Atlanta Braves. The Reds are just four games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies who may not even be a good AAA team!

Is it the manager Bryan Price? Is it just the starting pitching? Is it the bullpen? Is it lack of leadership in the club house? Is it the veterans? Is it Walt Jocketty?

You hate to pin all of this on the manager. All he can do to control games is fill out the lineup card. He has influence on pitching changes, which by the way I think Bryan does a good job of game management. It’s not his fault that he lost Homer Bailey to injury and had to deal with all of these rookie pitchers. That is why he has not been fired to date. What has he to work with? Yes, it appears that the Reds have quit on him, but how much motivation does a major league player need from his manager? This isn’t college. These are grown men. Baseball has the individual battle of pitcher versus batter and I think the Reds veterans have more pride than to mail in at bats.

Bryan Price opponents have said to me that “yes he has rookies now but he had Cueto and Leake for four months.” Really, you thought that Mike Leake was going to be someone other than Mike Leake? Leake is very good fifth starter and that’s it. And think about it…. Cueto was not Cuetoish every start either.

The Reds leaders Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier and Brandon Phillips have expressed their embarrassment and great disappointment with this season. Yes, Jay Bruce has been below par, but he still has 26 homers and 84 RBI’s. You can’t tell me that if Bruce had 32 homers and 108 RBI’s that the Reds season would be that different? I’m sorry eight home runs and 24 RBI’s doesn’t project to 30 more wins.

Todd Frazier, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips have been great this year. We know what Frazier and Votto have done but Brandon Phillips is quietly having an outstanding season among second basemen. He is close to .300 with 68 RBI’s. His numbers rank in the top three among Second baseman in RBI’s and sixth in batting average in the National League. Of course his defense is other worldly good!

Maybe the Reds do need a change at manager. A lot of teams change managers at no fault of the manager but to try something different. I hate to see the Reds do that, but it may be inevitable. You have to blame someone and since you can’t fire the players you look to the manager.

We haven’t touched on Walk Jocketty. He has made some mistakes as all GM’s do. Of course signing Homer Bailey instead of Johnny Cueto is always number one with critics. But as I told one person, look at how Cueto has done with Kansas City. I predict a meltdown in the playoffs for Cueto as well. I think the Reds knew something about Cueto in his makeup that led them to put their chips on Bailey. That being said I still would love to have Cueto for five more years. Maybe he will be so bad in the playoffs that the Reds can afford him in Free agency.

All fingers seem to point to the starting pitching. As we said earlier it has been terrible and the bullpen has been mediocre at best. The Reds have to shore up their seventh, eighth inning guys. I just don’t trust JJ Hoover in either spot. Maybe this season will be a blessing in disguise. Maybe these young pitchers will take the experiences of 2015 and turn it into a positive in 2016. As a diehard Reds fan I always believe.

Until next week,

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

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