How are all those trades working out? Frazier, Cueto, Leake, Latos…Dusty let go in place of Bryan Price? And now, even Pete Mackanin (remember him?) is winning in Philly. It’s anyone’s quess as to what’s next for the Reds.
CINCINNATI — The fans were warned, not so much by the Cincinnati Reds, but certainly by the media. The Reds pussy-footed around it, beat around the bush, tried to camouflage it with rhetoric.
But anybody with an ounce or an iota of baseball sense knew that this would be a year of misery for the Reds, a year when the team runs out a long gray line of candidates, possibilities and, yes, frauds.
What is there to follow this year? How exciting is it when the most reachable goal is to beat out the Milwaukee Brewers to avoid last place in the National League Central?
How about this one? The Cincinnati bullpen has given up runs in 20 straight games, tying an all-time record held by the 2013 Colorado Rockies. Tune in tomorrow.
It is oh so amazing and frustrating that the same things happen on a daily basis, but it does. This time Brandon Finnegan turned a three-run lead over to the bullpen in the seventh inning and before the inning was over the Reds were down two runs, an eventual 9-6 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
The Reds led, 6-3, when starter Finnegan left, turning matters over to J.C. Ramirez. After striking out Matt Duffy, Ramirez gave up three singles and a double as the Giants pulled to within 6-5.
Ramirez was pulled in favor of Drew Hayes and the first batter he faced, Brandon Crawford, drilled a three-run homer over the right center wall.
And another possible win evaporated into a spine-twisting defeat. In three mind-numbing innings the Reds bullpen of Ramirez, Hayes and J.J. Hoover gave up six runs and eight hits.
It is what happens when a team trades most of its tools to other teams and is left holding a burlap sack.
They traded pitchers Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier.
So how is that working out so far? Mostly very well for the other teams during April.
—Cueto was 4-and-1 with a 2.65 earned run average for the San Francisco Giants, tied for first place.
—Latos was 4-and-0 with a 0.75 earned run average for the Chicago White Sox, a first place team. And Frazier, also playing for the White Sox, hit seven home runs and drove in 17 runs.
—Chapman won’t be back with the New York Yankees for another week as he concludes his suspension for domestic violence, but the struggling last place Yankees need him.
—The Reds and their bewitched, bothered and beaten-up bullpen could even use 300-pound Jonathan Broxton didn’t do well here but in April he was 0-and-0 with a 1.80 earned run average in 10 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals. Leake, though, isn’t holding up — 0-and-3 with a 5.83 earned run average for the Cardinals.
And while we’re talking about ex-Reds, how about former managers. The Reds fired Dusty Baker three years ago and he was hired this year by the Washington Nationals. At the end of April the Nats were 16-7 and in first place.
The new Philadelphia manager is former Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin, who should have been given a chance to manage the Reds without ‘interim’ on his title. But the Reds hired Baker instead.
Mackanin went to Philadelphia as a coach and when the Phillies firieds Charley Manuel late last season they named Mackanin interim manager. The Phillies removed the interim tag and named Mackanin manager. The Phillies were supposed to be phlops this year, but at April’s end they were 15-10 after losing their first three of the year in Cincinnati.
And the Reds received a dose of Cueto Monday night in Great American Ball Park. Johnny Beisbol, or Johnny Brent Cueto Diaz, and his twisty, turny, topsy-turvy delivery started against the Reds.
“Cueto was here for eight years and had his best years here,” said Reds manager Bryan Price. “He got a real nice well-deserved contract with San Francisco, a team that has been to the World Series three of the last five years. He is in a good place.
“We certainly would have loved to have kept him here and that just wasn’t going to be feasible, we know that,” Price added. “We all pull for him when he is not pitching against us. We won’t be pulling for him tonight.”
Joey Votto and Cueto both arrived to stay with the Reds in 2008 and Votto remembers a discussion about that with Cueto.
“It was really fun playing with the guy, not only as a man, but he is such a great player, such a great competitor,” said Votto. “I remember the day, Opening Day of 2008, we got to the big leagues and we had a little chat about what we were going to do in the big leagues. It came to fruition.”
Votto has never faced Cueto’s funky, offbeat delivery, not even in spring training. So Monday night was a first-time experience.
“I found that some guys get thrown off by Cueto’s delivery,” said Votto. “And some guys it doesn’t bother at all and they have had some good results on those same trick pitches. I’ve played against lots of guys with a lot of different tricks and it hasn’t really bothered me so far. We’ll see.”
OK, what was seen in the first inning was Cueto striking out Votto. What was seen in the second inning was Cueto poking a two-run dribbler of a single between first and second to help give himself a 3-1 lead.
What was seen in the third was Votto trashing a 3-and-2 pitch over the center field wall for a three-run home run an a 4-3 Reds lead. The Reds sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs off Cueto.
It appears Votto prefers not to struggle rather than quit after saying the other day, “I’d rather quit than struggle.”
Then, of course, the Cincinnati bullpen let Cueto and the Giants off the hook.
Note: Hal McCoy fans will soon appreciate his “new” page on Press Pros…Hal McCoy At Large…more Hal, more topics, and more straight talk on the obvious sports topics of the day. Coming soon…on Press Pros!