As much fun as Opening Day games can be, it’s hard to gauge anything from them. Barring injuries, the first game of the year typically has a #1 starter facing another #1 starter, so you can expect (and hope for) a low-scoring game. And that’s what we got yesterday.
Adam “Waino” Wainwright vs. Johnny “Cueto” Cueto was everything it was billed to be. Minus Jason LaRue getting kicked in the head, and Tony La Russa playing the game under protest because of the increased relative humidity caused by the Ohio River.
It’s hard to criticize much of what happened in yesterday’s game. Well, other than Brandon Phillips‘ base-running blunder that all but ended the Reds’ only real threat of the game.
Or The Speedy Billy Hamilton (I believe that’s his full name) failing to demonstrate said speed because he struck out four (4) times.
Wainwright is an ace pitcher, and ace pitchers often have games like Wainwright had on Monday. Cueto had a pretty damn good game, too. Unfortunately, he made one mistake. A mistake that resulted in the city of Cincinnati being subjected to the sight of a man with tattooed neck run around the bases. Nobody wants to see that.
The Reds will use this much-needed off-day to regroup and figure out how they’re going to win the next 161 games. No big deal.
The final (as in last) part of my National League Central preview focuses on the city I call home and the drunk bros who
root for the Chicago Cubs drink beer, take selfies, and pass out (not necessarily in that order) while sitting in the bleachers at Cubs game. Primetime Corey at Ivy Envy was able to pencil me into his busy schedule of being on TV and podcasting stuff to, once again, answer some of my questions. You can follow Ivy Envy on Twitter at @IvyEnvy.
Part 3 of my National League Central preview focuses on the city where they filmed Striking Distance, and their favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. David at 6-4-3 Putout was nice enough to skip his weekly Ben Roethlisberger Fan Club meeting to answer some of my questions. You can follow David on Twitter at @RDavidK.
Part 2 of my National League Central preview focuses on the Best Fans in Baseball According to Baseball Fans That Live Within a 10 Mile Radius of St. Louis, and their favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Daniel at C70 At the Bat was nice enough to put down his Neck Tats of Yadier Molina: 2014 Edition coloring book to answer some of my questions. You can follow them on Twitter at @C70.
Part 1 of my National League Central preview focuses on those Warriors from Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Brewers. Nick at the Brewers Bar was nice enough to take a few minutes away from accusing FedEx delivery guys of tampering with urine samples to answer some of my questions. You can follow them on Twitter at @theBrewersBar.
As you may or may not know, I don’t pay attention to Spring Training, therefore I don’t post stuff on the blog unless something of interest happens. So, if you’re waiting for new content (trust me, you’re not), then you’ll have to wait a few more weeks until the NL Central previews are ready.
That being said, my brothers have asked that I post something (ANYTHING) just so the picture of sad Johnny Cueto gets bumped down. So, here you go…
On Wednesday, I was unable to write anything about the Reds’ disastrous showing in the Wild Card game because I was stuck in meetings all day. That sucks for me, but it’s probably best for you, because nothing I would’ve written The Day After would’ve been very nice. Not that what I’m about to write will be nice, but at least it will be nicer-ish.
Let me start off by saying that I didn’t watch the game. Not one second of footage was processed by my eyeballs. Not because I didn’t want to, but by the time I got home from work on Tuesday night the Reds were already down 3-0 and didn’t have a hit. I’ve watched the Reds enough this season to know that I’ve seen this movie before, and I don’t like how it ends.
Is it Dusty Baker’s fault that the Reds lost the Wild Card game? Hard to say, but probably not. Should he lose his job over what happened? I think he should. I’ve never had the problems with Baker that many Reds fans have, but I do understand that at some point someone needs to be held accountable for the results on the field. Teams often need to make a statement to the rest of the team by firing someone in authority:
See, you guys didn’t play well and this guy lost his job because of it.
Every year, coaches in all sports are fired when it clearly “wasn’t their fault.” Coaches and managers don’t go a combined 0-8 with 8 runners left on base as Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips — the “heart” of the Reds — did on Tuesday night. But the Reds can’t fire Votto or Phillips (nor should they).
Coaches and managers don’t completely lose their cool in the 2nd inning of a must-win game and give up two homers as Johnny Cueto did. The Reds can’t fire Cueto, either. So who does that leave? Hitting coach Brook Jacoby? Pitching coach Bryan Price? Have you ever seen a team completely turn things around after getting a new hitting and/or pitching coach? Probably not.
When things aren’t working, changes need to be made. The Reds will not have the services of Shin-Soo Choo next season, nor will Bronson Arroyo be around (probably). I could make a pretty good argument that the Reds don’t even make the playoffs in 2013 were it not for Choo, but that would require me to do some research to back up my claim. No thank you. Billy Hamilton will most likely replace Choo in centerfield. While we all know Hamilton is fast, we don’t know how well he can field or hit on the Major League level. Tony Cingrani will probably take Arroyo’s spot in the rotation, so I’ll consider that a wash/slight improvement.
Joey Votto recently said that he we would rather walk with runners on base than take an out to move/score the runners. I have a number of problems with his “approach,” but now is not the time or place to get into that. Just know that Votto said that if he wanted to hit 10 more home runs a season he could — he just chooses not to. I suppose he also chooses to strikeout a career-high 138 times, as he did in 2013.
For whatever reason, I never grasped onto this team. Despite being virtually identical to the 2012 squad that I loved so much, there was just something about this season’s run that felt “off.” At the beginning of September, when the Reds took 3 of 4 against the Cardinals and then followed that up by sweeping the Dodgers in a 3-game series, I thought the Reds had finally figured it out. And then they went on to lose 4 of 6 to the Cubs and Brewers.
It’s all a moot point, though, because Walt Jocketty has already said that Baker will be back next year. The guy is in the last year of his contract, so if you want Baker gone, you’re going to have to wait for a slow start, or the end of the 2014 season — whichever comes first. Barring a deep run in the playoffs in 2014, Baker is as good as gone after next season, so you/we will all get our wish.
There are two things that will happen this off-season:
- The Reds will stand pat with their “core nucleus of young talent that continues to grow.”
- Major changes will be made to the roster and coaching staff.
Of the two options (if there are more, I’d love to hear them), I’m guessing it’s the former,
I don’t know if you’ve seen the Reds’ minor league system lately, but it’s not exactly brimming with talent. There are no quick-fixes, no answers to problems, waiting to be called up. There isn’t even really anyone that could be used as trade bait. Not without including a player(s) from the Major League roster, at least.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, for the first time since the Reds won the division in 2010, my confidence level in this team is fading pretty quickly. Ask me how I feel tomorrow and I might say something different, but right now, the future is not bright enough to necessitate wearing shades.