The Month in Review (June): Panic Switch
WARNING: What you are about to read is not pretty. In fact, it’s downright ugly. The Cincinnati Reds team we all loved so much in April and May is but a distant memory. Are you ready to relive the Reds’ month of June in painstaking detail? This is your last warning.
But first, a refresher for the uninitiated:
1 cheese coney = This isn’t even a snack, let alone a meal. Try harder.
2 cheese coneys = You could do better, but you could also do worse.
3 cheese coneys = Now we’re getting somewhere. Not perfect, but pretty darn close.
4 cheese coneys = How can you complain about four cheese coneys? Simple–you can’t.
Ryan Hanigan is struggling. Apparently he has a sprained ankle, but that only materialized late in the month, so it’s hardly an excuse for his offensive woes. But Devin Mesoraco’s .218 batting average in June wasn’t much better than Hanigan’s .191. The Reds once mighty catching platoon hasn’t been very mighty lately.
This is where it gets tricky. By most measurements, Joey Votto is having another great season. Or is he? He’s racking up errors at an unnerving pace for a former Gold Glove winner, he’s not driving in runs, and his power numbers are average at best. Yes, he gets on base a lot, but I’ve also seen him come up empty in COUNTLESS scoring situations this season. What happened to the Joey Votto that could seemingly pepper hits over the field at will?
Great, now Brandon Phillips isn’t hitting, either. Since getting plunked on the forearm by the Pirates, Phillips has somehow lost the inability to hit. Coincidence? Probably, but when someone who used to hit is no longer hitting, people look for excuses. Fortunately, it hasn’t affected his defense, otherwise he’d be staring down at a heaping mound of cheddar cheese on a singular cheese coney.
Not to sound like a broken record here, but Todd Frazier isn’t exactly knocking the cover off the ball. At least his .253 June average is moderately better than the numbers he put up in May. Still, it’s a far cry from the Frazier we saw in the first half of the 2012 season.
Oh, Zack Cozart, what are we going to do with you? Your very average batting average is not improving, and your defense is consistently pretty good. Will we see improvement from you in the second half, or is this the most we’re ever going to see from you? And you realize that you have no business batting 2nd, right?
Jay Bruce went bananas in June. At one point over 8 games he had 7 hits that were all homers. Stuff like this happens when you’re Jay Bruce. Unfortunately, when stuff like that happens, it’s usually followed by prolonged periods of futility. Maybe that trend will stop now.
June saw Shin-Soo Choo come crashing back to Earth, unfortunately. It would be a shame if the bulk of his production for the Reds came at the early part of the season, because this is a whole different team when the lead-off hitter isn’t getting on base. I mean, how else will Cozart ground into a double play?
Nobody knows when Ryan Ludwick will be back, and honestly, nobody knows how much of an impact he’ll have when he does. Derrick Robinson has done a pretty good job filling in (with Xavier Paul), but now with Chris Heisey back, fighting for playing time is going to be even harder.
LF and CF:
I’m going to remove this category for this month. Most of the bench is in a constant rotation in left field, so there’s not much point in focusing on it as it’s own separate category.
Johnny Cueto is going to be out until at least the first week of August. Which means it’ll be mid-August before he returns to the disabled list for the fourth time this season. To say that it’s been a frustrating season for Cueto would be an understatement. I don’t know what’s worse — the injury, or the way it’s being handled. I realize that muscle injuries can be pesky, but when it continues to be a problem I’m lead to believe that it’s not being treated correctly.
But I’m no doctor, otherwise I’d ask to be called Dr. Chris Sabo’s Goggles, which is just weird.
Meanwhile, Mat Latos has proven to be the Reds’ go-to stud. In fact, I’m going to start the petition to have him be the Opening Day starter in 2014. Spread the word. He’s a had a couple of tough-luck loses, and even more tough-luck no decisions, otherwise more people would be talking about how great he’s been.
You know who else has been (surprisingly) awesome? Mike Leake. He’s done a nice job picking up the slack while Bailey and Arroyo have been stumbling a bit. Without Leake and Latos, this team would be in a lot of trouble. Okay, even more trouble than they’re in now.
Don’t you mean WHAT’S LEFT of the bullpen?
Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton are “slowly progressing,” which is MLB talk for “don’t expect them any time soon.” That’s left the Reds with a patchwork bullpen that has been good and bad, depending on what day it is, but mostly they haven’t been very good.
It seems like only last year that a win was virtually guaranteed once the starter stepped out and the bullpen stepped in. That’s because it was only last year. This year, there’s a lot of finger crossing going on when the bullpen takes over.
Aroldis Chapman’s probably seem much worse than they are. A lot of that has to do with the fact that when he was bad in June, he was REALLY bad. Could it be that he’s not getting much work? Maybe. Could it be that’s less concerned with throwing strikes and more concerned with putting up big numbers on the radar gun? Probably. Whatever the problem is, he needs to get it figured out soon.
June Record: (12-15)
The Reds just endured their first losing month in a long time (I’m too lazy to look up the actual date, but I think it was some time in 2011) so that means the end is near, right? Not necessarily. It’s all about perception. The Reds currently have their 2nd best record through 81 games since 1995. Better than the first 81 games of 2010 when the Reds won the National League Central. Better than the first 81 games of the 2012 season when the Reds won the National League Central. Once again, it’s all about perception.
So, why does it feel like the sky is falling in? I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that 3/5 of the division is playing solid baseball. Guess which 2/5 isn’t so solid (HINT: Both cities border Lake Michigan). With the St. Louis Cardinals playing lights-out baseball up until recently (they’re 2-6 in their last 8 games), and the Pittsburgh Pirates being The Best Team in Baseball (!?) (they’ve won 9 games in a row), it’s hard to gain any ground when the two teams ahead of you in the division don’t lose. Or, at least, don’t lose when you need them to.
The fact of the matter is, the 2013 Reds are not a bad ball club. They’re certainly not playing well right now, but it’s hardly time to give up on them and start focusing on the Bengals.
But if the Reds go through July like they went through June, then it’s probably time to start focusing on the Bengals.
GO REDS! (?)