Join Date: May 2012
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Re: Leake: Always giving up early
With his combination of a smallish physical stature, a demure attitude and current confidence-level, Mike Leake will never develop into the dominating, overpowering pitcher the Reds currently need.
Worse, he usually wears his knickers above his knees, which makes him look less intimidating, and sort of like a weenie. 😊
At best, Leake might develop into a finesse pitcher some day, like Arroyo. But for now though, he lacks the experience and craftsmanship to achieve this. The Reds should be allowing him to develop these capabilities against minor leaguers, where he stands a fair chance of finding more successes. But at this point in his development, Leake is, very literally, out of his league.
While the unfortunately-named Homer Bailey shows great promise, both he and Arroyo are inconsistent winners, and for now, league average at best. However, they are capable of rising above this. The problem is, a championship team can excel with two aces and two "average" starters, but it's very difficult, if not impossible to win it all with inconsistent hitting AND three average starters who also are so unpredictable and inconsistent.
Consequently, the Reds are in trouble with this starting rotation and lineup combination.
I've been a Cincinnati fan for over 50 years and followed them as a kid during the 1961 pennant chase, the frustrating late 60's, the 1970s powerhouse years, the occasional winning seasons (and championships) in the 80's and 90's, and the more recent rise of this team, that is pulling together the potential to string together multiple pennants and championships. One October in the mid-1960's, I carried the first transistor radios I ever owned to school. I kept opening my schoolhouse desk lid to turn on WLW radio and secretly listen to a Red's playoff game. A vigilant nun figured out what I was doing and confiscated the radio. I've rooted for teams with good hitting and no pitching and great hitting and no pitching, and no hitting and no pitching.
My experience as a loud-mouth, know-it-all fan tells me Cueto and Latos probably will be fine this season, and lead the team (knock on wood). However, if one falters, we're in deep do-do. The Reds really should have found a way to inject one major upgrade into this starting rotation for 2013.
The Reds still need another starter who is a power pitcher (Cue Aroldis Chapman).
Bailey, Leake and Arroyo are similar in that none is a power hurler with the potential to regulalrly dominate hitters. Of the three, Bailey is closest to being this, but still lacks the muscular development and is too inexperienced. Arroyo has the experience and craftsmanship, but not the physical prowess. Cingrani may be a possibility, but he also is inexperienced, and easily could turn out to be another Leake, or maybe a little better and more Bailey-like. However, due to his inexperience and physical maturity, Cingrani probably is not yet the power pitcher the Reds really need either.
To win a world championship, a baseball team ideally needs two or three qualities -- dominant pitching, dominant hitting, defense and bench depth. This 2013 team doesn't quite have the two most important -- dominant starting pitching or hitting -- and the defense up the middle is somewhat suspect with Choo (though the guy clearly is a terrific hitter). The lack of consistent hitting and run production will make a dominating, power closer far less valuable. If the starters and middle relievers are spotting opponents too many runs and the hitters aren't producing enough runs, a great closer doesn't matter. Already, I can see how these Reds might not end up with as many wins as last season, and once again, be handicapped in the playoffs.
Because Cincinnati didn't get a starting rotation upgrade done over the winter, more pressure now is on the hitters, especially the middle of the order, to produce more runs. But with Ludwick out maybe for the entire season, and and Bruce/Votto struggling, the Reds also are short one dominating banger with a .280 or better average, home run production and a flair for dramatic clutch hitting. The Big Red Machine didn't have dominant starting pitching, but it did have a deep and fearsome offensive lineup with Rose, Morgan, Griffey/Geronimo, Perez, Bench and Foster, plus a Gold Glove defense up the middle with Bench, Concepcion, Morgan and Griffey/Geronimo.
So, as I keep saying, on this team, the Leake debate is about far more than a "league average" fifth starter. Leake's role on this team has several domino-like effects. Like the other Reds starters, Mike Leake does have potential, but he just is not a good fit for this particular team, which has been constructed to win now.