Blog Entry

Did Reds season begin to unravel on May 25?

Posted on: September 4, 2008 7:40 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2008 1:53 pm

Cincinnati skipper Dusty Baker offers many good qualities as a manager and has proven that, in the right situations, he can win. But watching Aaron Harang drop to 4-15 in a loss to Pittsburgh this week in the latest outing of a disastrous season, it's difficult not to ask the question of whether the Reds misused Harang earlier this season and whether that helped wreck his -- and their -- season.

One month ago, in the first week of August, Dayton Daily News Hall of Fame beat writer Hal McCoy quoted Baker: "I have never wanted to win more than I do right here, and I will, but this is Wayne Krivsky's team, not Walt Jocketty's and not mine."

Baker is -- or should be -- better that that, better than shifting the entire blame for the Reds' mess of '08 onto the lap of the GM who was fired way back in April. Yes, the deposed GM should shoulder his share of the blame, but Krivsky was long gone by the time the Reds lost a 12-9, 18-inning game in San Diego on May 25 that, in hindsight, appears to be the classic example of trading short-term gratification for long-term suffering.

Three days after he threw 103 pitches over 5 1/3 innings, Harang worked four innings in relief during that 18-inning game, throwing another 63 pitches. Total count: 166 pitches in a four-day stretch.

That's questionable enough. What's even more questionable is that the Reds then asked Harang to start four days after that, on May 29, instead of giving him an extra day or two of rest. Harang threw 73 pitches over four innings that day as Pittsburgh cuffed him for 10 hits and six runs in four innings. Total count over the eight-day period: 239 pitches.

If Baker couldn't help himself, someone -- Jocketty, pitching coach Dick Pole -- should have stepped in and demanded that the club, following Harang's relief appearance, erred on the side of giving the pitcher extra rest rather than shorting him at all.

Harang landed on the disabled list with a sore right forearm on July 13 and was activated Aug. 10. It was his first stint on the DL since 2004.

In that 18-inning game in San Diego, Josh Fogg started the 11th inning and faced only four batters before Bill Bray relieved him.

Fogg, a swingman with deep experience as a starter, could have lasted far longer. But as it was, once he and Bray ( 1 1/3 innings) were burned, Baker was backed into a corner and ended the game with Harang going four innings and starter Edinson Volquez, who will be a Cy Young candidate, going 1 2/3 innings.

Granted, nobody knew in the 11th inning that day that the game was going to drag on through the 18th.

But poor starting pitching is a big contributing reason as to why the Reds, who were officially eliminated from the NL Central race on Wednesday, now are finishing their eighth consecutive losing season. Within that, with starting pitching as thin as it is today, all clubs must take care of their aces, and nowhere is that more important than on clubs that traditionally lack pitching.

Since his relief appearance in the 18-inning marathon on May 25, Harang is 2-8 with a 7.65 ERA.

This from a man whose six-year career ERA going into 2008 was 4.15.


Since: Nov 15, 2006
Posted on: September 5, 2008 8:16 am

Did Reds season begin to unravel on May 25?

Mr. Miller:

First off, this Reds season, and the next two will be lost if the Reds honor the rest of Dusty Bakers contract. Second, the Reds lost that poorly managed fiasco to the Padres. That makes the idiocy of Dusty bakers moves even more exaggerated. Dusty Baker was the wrong manager for this team. Dusty is known for having teams full of veterans and not knowing how to handle or play rookies. Casing point, he brought in Corey Patterson and Paul Bako for what purpose? Because they were veterans? We already had center fielders in Norris Hopper, Ryan Freel and a stud in waiting in Jay Bruce. He brought in weak hitting Paul Bako when David Ross and Javier Valentin were already on the roster. They ended up releasing Ross, who was the best out of the three? A team that carried three catchers for nearly three quarters of the season, now thats smart. This team is full of young talent. Now that Dusty has ruined this season it has led to the demise of the Griffey move to the White Sox. Adam Dunn being traded to the Diamondbacks. What did the Reds get in return other than journeyman and may-be's?

I have been a Reds fans for 40 years. I have seen the good and bad with this team. They have suffered pretty much every season since 1990, but for one shining moment in the mid 90's. They were perennial losers in the 80's. But never have a despised my home team as I do right now. I don't know who's calling the shots, but there are some really bad decisions being made. I understand that Walt Jocketty is supposedly a great baseball mind, but he better pull off some real Houdini moves this offseason to get this team some missing pieces. Dusty Baker should have his contract bought out, and should never see the inside of a dugout again. Bob Castellini should also send pitching coach Dick Pole and hitting coach Brook Jacoby right along with him. There is a lot of young talent on this team with players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Edison Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Edwin Encarnacion. They need a manager who can handle and tolerate rookies. Not Dusty.

Not only did Dusty make those idiotic moves in the Padres games, but if you are a Reds fan, you have seen bad baseball all year. Bad hitting, bad pitching, bad baserunning, lack of hustle, and the list goes on. I have seen mistakes made by this team that you would scold your little leaguers for making. This is a bad defensive team as well. It seems that they sometimes forget the basic fundamentals. There is just nothing right with this team right now, and they shouldn't be losing the way they are. When you have a starting four of Volquez, Harang, Arroyo and Cueto the focus should have been to pick up that 5th starter, not bring in the two lowest batting average hitters in the major leagues this year with more than 250 at bats! How many mangers would tolerate two hitters hitting under .205 with over 250 at bats in the season? Not even Andruw Jones could stay on the field hitting like this. Somehow Corey Patterson and Paul Bako continue to find their way onto the playing surface. And I am sure there is only one man making the lineup. Dusty! Enough said!

I truly believe that the pitching appearance in that Padres game really threw a wrinkle in Aaron Harang's season. The numbers don't lie. Since that game he has not been the same. Would have made a big difference if he had won ten more games throughout the season, probably not. You still don't want to see your ace out throwing 4 innings of mop up ball in a 12-9 loss. This wasn't the playoffs. This was a weekend series with the last place Reds and Padres. Just another in the long line of mistakes in the "DustyBall" era.

As a Reds fan, If thing's don't change a whole lot this off season, then I can make a pretty fair assumption that the only games the Reds sell out next year is opening day, and the three games that draw in the southern Ohio Indians fans. Just like most of this season, there will be a whole lot people dressed up as empty seats at Great American Ball Park!

Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: September 4, 2008 8:53 pm

Did Reds season begin to unravel on May 25?

The Reds did not win the game on May 25th, which makes the reality even worse.

Dusty Baker has been famous for 'misusing' pitchers. Harang should not have pitched that day (on 2 days rest) and then again in his regular rotation spot. It isn't second guessing, it is first guessing. The Reds are too young a team to have Dusty Baker (who is known as a veterns manager). The Reds need a younger manager who can help these guys get energized and understand where they are coming from.

The future at least looks bright for the Reds in 09. They have a rotation set with Aaron Harang, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey which appears to be pretty solid. The major problem is the Reds are in the tough NL central (although could be easier with the Brewers possibly losing Ben Sheets AND CC Sabathia).

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