Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Reds Heading Toward Worst Season in Three Decades

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

The Reds stand 60-83 after 143 games. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are only 19 games left in the season. And it looks like the Reds will have their worst record since 2001 when they went 69-93. I don’t think the Reds will make it to 69 victories so this will be the worst Reds record since 1982. That is very disappointing, and I am very surprised to be honest.

Why am I surprised? Well, the Reds had a better starting eight than the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates at the start of the season. The Reds had the best closer in the game. The Reds knew that their bullpen would be a question mark. But they had Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake coming back. To be honest, I expected 80 wins, and maybe if they could catch a break, 85 wins. The pundits say the Reds are bad because they are in the best division in baseball. Surprisingly, the Central division has not been their undoing. The Reds have a 30-34 record in the Central division. That’s acceptable in a tough division.

The glaring problem is that the Reds have been unable to beat the teams from the West division and in Interleague play. The Reds are 7-24 against the West and 7-13 in interleague play. That’s 14-37. There’s your season. And what’s more maddening is the Reds are only 4-11 in extra inning games and have not for the second straight season fared well in one run games going 17-28.

If the Reds could have been a paltry 16-15 against the west and just 10-10 in interleague play and if they had gone 8-7 in extra inning games and just 23-22 in one run games they could be 82-60 right now and in the Wild Card hunt. That’s all they needed to do to be in the race. That’s a big ALL though because the Reds never seem to play well against the West and American League.

You know the old metric that the baseball season comes down to this, everybody is going to lose 60 games and every team is going to win 60 games. It’s those 42 games left that define the season. If the Reds wind up 67-95 they will only win 7 of those 42 defining games.

I’m really not surprised that Johnny Cueto has struggled with the Royals in his last five starts. He never went through a streak like this for the Reds. I don’t think Cueto is comfortable in Kansas City and is trying too hard. I think he misses Thomas Vera and Bryan Price. Johnny is a fragile personality. Remember the Pittsburgh playoff game? I think he needs familiarity and the Reds were like his family. Really I hope he does well in Kansas City because it would be a shame if he does not perform well on the national stage at playoff time. Maybe this will lower his free agent value and the Reds might get him back? Wishful thinking I guess.

Mike Leake has struggled of late also with the Giants. I thought Mike would do great in those big ballparks out west. But his problem has been location, something he had at times with the Reds. Again as with Cueto maybe he misses Bryan Price. It’s well known around the league that there are not many better than Bryan Price as far as working with pitchers.

No way should Joey Votto be suspended two games or even suspended at all! Bill Welke just didn’t like Votto showing him up. Votto lost his cool. What is wrong with that? It used to be when players went nuts and argued with the umps, the fans loved it (and I believe they still do.) Back in the day nothing was better than a good argument between the manager and the umpire. If I spend $150 to go to a baseball game and I don’t see an argument because a manager or player is afraid he might get suspended then they have taken that part of the game from me and the fans. It’s bad enough that you can’t argue instant replay or be tossed. I like instant replay but why are we in such an all fired hurry to take away the side shows and extracurricular activity away from baseball?

It seems that today we are so overly sensitive to everything we think we have to suspend people who argue. Come on, this is part of the game. If the powers that be want a sanitized, perfect baseball game we might as well play a video game device. I hate video game baseball. I want real baseball players, playing real baseball with real passion. Don’t take that from us! Good grief!

Until next week….

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