Beat up a struggling, injured team - Take 2

After writing that the Rockies were better in the Mets in virtually every facet in KYF Monday, the Mets promptly outclassed Colorado, making the Rox look silly in a series loss that included a season-long scoreless innings streak.  Does that mean the Mets were actually better?  No.  No it doesn't.  I'd ramble on, but Rox Girl said it well last night:

What happened in New York wasn't the Rockies getting exposed. It wasn't even a terribly large slump. It was randomness.

So what does it mean when the results on the field don't match the tireless scouting you find here in KYF?  I guess it means it's pointless - or at least sometimes it can be.  Or maybe I should quote the immortal Dr. Cox:

Turns out, whatever you know about [baseball], ultimately, luck or fate or God or...who knows what is always gonna end up playing a much bigger role in the whole thing than you and I ever will.

I'm depressing myself by deflating my own power.  Ugh.  Anyway, let's get to scouting these Reds, because let's face it, my passion for baseball is indefatigable, even when the results don't make much sense.

Here we go.  The Reds are bad.  They are just 3-11 after the All-Star Break, have lost 15 of 19 and just lost three of four to the San Diego Padres.  How does that make you feel Dusty?

"They're not a good club," said Baker of the 40-62 Padres. "And if they're not a good club and they're beating us like that, what does that make us? This is totally unacceptable." -Jeff Wallner, MLB.com

The Reds' run differential has fallen to -81, better than only three epicly bad teams:  San Diego, Washington and Kansas City.  They are one of four NL teams with a below .500 home record.  They just added a 31-year old pitcher to the rotation who hasn't been in the majors in 3 years and an outfielder who can't hit a pitch that isn't straight.  They have scored less runs than the almighty Giants.  The Cincinnati Enquirer wonders if they've hit rock bottom.  Dusty Baker is their manager.  Yeah, they're bad.  I'd hold back the punches for fear of jinxing them a la Mets, but refer to Per-Per's quote above.

Rox Girl's home town has been kinder to the Rockies than Russ' home town as well.  Colorado won as many games in Cincinnati last year alone as in New York in the past seven seasons.  The Rox have taken the last four series from the Reds, including going 5-1 at Great American Ballpark since 2007.  We were swept in a four game set there in 2006, but hey, we'll forget that, yeah?

Oh, and not all baseball fans in Cincy are like Rox Girl.  Compare at Red Reporter.

 

250pxredslogo_medium


Cincinnati Reds
(45-56, L3, 5th, 10.5 GB WC, 9.5 GB Div) 

Friday-Sunday: 3-game series at Great American Ballpark


The Bats: F

Only the Padres, Mariners and Royals have scored less than Cincinnati this season.  They are hitting .234 (29th), OBPing .244 (27th), SLGing .388 (27th) and have a team wOBA of .308 (28th).  This is hands down the worst offense that doesn't play in the West.  In fact, Fangraphs ranks only the Giants as having a lower valued offense.  They have more legitimate threats with the bat than some teams, but you won't find two worse table-setters in the league.  Joey Votto slugging nearly .600 does no good when Willy Taveras has the best OBP of the 1-2 combo at just .279 (that's worse than Q).  The lineup has been weakened by losing Chris Dickerson and Jay Bruce to injury, and continuing to plug Edwin Encarnacion at third.  Here's the lineup:

LINEUP Avg HR RBI OBP SLG wOBA
Willy Taveras - CF .240 1
14
.279 .290 .262
Alex Gonzalez - SS .203 2
20
.203 .250 .228
Joey Votto - 1B
.343 15 49
.418 .597 .432
Brandon Phillips - 2B .262 15
48
.326 .452 .334
Edwin Encarnacion - 3B .206 5
16
.329 .375 .316
Laynce Nix - LF .241 8
24
.294 .458 .319
Jonny Gomes - RF .288 10
24
.379 .584 .410
Ryan Hanigan - C .323 1
8
.414 .384 .354

By wOBA metrics, the lineup features two hitters performing at super All-Star levels (Votto and Gomes) though neither have been starters all year, one above average hitter (Hanigan), one average hitter (Phillips), one atrociously bad hitter that should not be starting anywhere (Taveras) and one hitter that doesn't deserve to touch a bat every again (Gonzalez).  The two leadoff hitters have a wOBA well below Ubaldo Jimenez...

Hanigan has been battling a stiff neck and hasn't played since July 24.  He could be ready to go fr the series, but his quotes seem to suggest he's been a day away for five days now.  Craig Tatum (1-for-19) is the rookie backup, while the newly acquired Wladimir Balentein (.213, 4, 13), formerly of Seattle, is the lone backup outfielder.  He has yet to appear in a game since the acquisition, but he figures to probably get a look in the outfield this weekend.  Jerry Hairston Jr (.252, 8, 27) is an infielder but starts in the OF sometimes, while Paul Janish (.232, 0, 3), Adam Rosales (.200, 2, 14) and Drew Sutton (1-for-9, 2B) fill out the cluttered infield.

Hop after the jump for the scouting report on the arms, the D, the pitching matchups and the hot/cold players.

The Arms: F

Via Fangraphs, only two pitching staffs have been worse than Cincinnati's, and they are still without Volquez for a couple weeks.  Statcorner suggests the Reds starts have taken their team nickname too seriously.  Reds starters have a 4.86 ERA, a 5.04 FIP and a 5.72 tRA.  Gross.  The bullpen has been much better at 3.59/4.15/4.41.  Basically, we need to get to the starters.

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2009 - Francisco Cordero 1-2 1.79 1.12 33 17

Dusty Baker's lefties are Daniel Ray Herrera and Arthur Rhodes, the main setup man.  Joining closer Francisco Cordero are Carlos Fisher, Nick Masset, Dave Weathers and Josh Roenicke.  Herrera is the only one below average by tRA.

 

The D: B

The Reds are ranked 8th in UZR/150 while also making the 9th-most errors.  That's fairly in line with range, as they finish with the 8th best fielding value.

 

The Ballpark: Strong hitter's park

Great American Ballpark has a hitter/pitcher park factor of 104/105 on Baseball Reference, just a tick more neutral than Coors Field this year at 105/106.  According to StatCorner, the greatest inflation comes from home runs, while all other hit types are actually smothered.

 

Probable Pitchers:

Tonight, 5:10 pm MDT

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2009 - Aaron Cook 10-3 3.87 1.41 69 39

***AAA Stats***
W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2009 - Justin Lehr 8-1
2.57
0.89
20
16

Aaron Cook has won seven straight decisions, and the Rockies are 8-2 in his starts since The Streak started.  His difficulty keeping the sinker down appears to have vanished after inducing 20 ground balls in his last start.  Meanwhile, Justin Lehr will be making his first MLB start, though it's not what you think.  The 31-year old made 66 relief appearance for Oakland and Milwaukee from 2004-06 and hasn't been back since.  He faced the Rockies in 2005, allowing 1 run in 2 innings.  Current Rockies were 2-for-4 off him, including a Garrett Atkins home run and fielder's choice, a Todd Helton flyout and Omar Quintanilla single. The last time he was in the majors, he threw a fastball, change, slider, curve and cutter, though the slider was the only above average pitch.  I think I heard the Rockies were 11-0 vs. rookie pitchers this year, and though Lehr isn't a rookie, he's just as foreign.  Plus that K/BB ratio suck.  Favors: ROCKIES Very strongly

 

Saturday, August 1, 5:10 pm MDT

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2009 - Ubaldo Jimenez 7-9 3.85 1.29 120 54

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2009 - Homer Bailey 2-2 6.87 1.53 23 22

Ubaldo is a stud made up of pure awesomeness.  He's only won one of his past seven starts, but that's more due to the offense averageing 3.0 runs in those games.  Homer Bailey has been terrible in his seven starts this year.  In fact, his whole MLB career has been ghastly.  His tRA is 6.97, worst on the team, and even his 5.87 FIP isn't forgiving.  His HR/9 is 7th worst in MLB and that K/BB ratio is just wrong.  He does have a couple of decent starts and it's worth noting he's added nearly 3mph on his fastball from last year, but hopefully we can still tee off on him like last yearFavors: ROCKIES Very strongly

 

Sunday, August 2, 11:10 MDT

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2009 - Jason Marquis 12-7 3.47 1.27 64 41

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2009 - Bronson Arroyo 10-10 5.17 1.48 79 49

I heard a talk show host talk about how he was seeing signs Jason Marquis is coming back to earth.  That's weird, because his ERA has been better each month of the season, and he's still tops in MLB in wins with five others.  He failed to get 10 groundballs in his last start for just the fourth time this season, though it's likely not due to the blister, as he had 17 in the game prior.  According to Statcorner, Arroyo has been Cincinnati's worst pitcher this year.  His WHIP is 7th worst in the majors, so that's part of it - so is permitting the NL's 3rd most dingers.  All this with just a .296 BABIP.  According to Fangraphs, he has the NL's worst fastball also.  He did, however pitch 17.0 consecutive scoreless innings this month - it was worth noting.  Still...   Favors: ROCKIES strongly


My take

Whereas the Mets series had Shea demons, there's nothing about the Reds series to scare me, other than the fact there's nothing about the Reds series to scare me.  They are bad, they're cold, we have the obvious starting pitching advantage in each game, and our offense is a ton better.  I probably will never predict a sweep on the road, but it is certainly within reach, and we should get off the Citi snide and get back to within a game of .500 on the road trip with a series win with relative ease.

 

33_15_10---fire-flame-texture_web_mediumCarlos Fisher, Francisco Cordero and Dave Weathers have each allowed just one run since the ASB.  Joey Votto is hitting .300 with 4 HR since July 15, and Jonny Gomes has three home runs in the last week and five since the break.

 

IceGomes also has just 3 singles in addition to his 5 HR, so he's hitting .211 since the break.  Laynce Nix is 5 for his last 29, Craig Tatum is 3-of-20, Alex Gonzalez is 1-of-19, Willy Taveras is hitting just .218 since the break and Brandon Phillips has just two post-ASB XBH.  The whole offense is struggling, hitting .214 with a .647 OPS since the ASB, which has equated to just 3.21 runs/game sine July 15.

 

Bandaid_mediumEdinson Volquez has been effectively lost since May with an elbow injury.  Also on the 15-day DL are C Ramon Hernandez (knee - 7/17), RHP Jared Burton (shoulder - 7/25), RHP/PH Micah Owings (shoulder - 7/27), 2B Danny Richar (shoulder - 7/3), OF Chris Dickerson (trapezius - 7/27), OF Jay Bruce (wrist - 7/13), and RHP Mike Lincoln  (other - 6/13).  2B Wilkin Castillo was placed on the 60-day DL June 21 with a shoulder injury.

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