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Thread: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

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    Worst Behavior. reds44's Avatar
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    Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    C/O Reds.com

    Many preseason predictions called it, but no one on the Reds believed they'd be mired at the bottom of the standings this season.
    The reality matched the perception. At the All-Star break, that's exactly where they are. Cincinnati co-owns the worst record in the National League.

    "I just want us to play better," closer David Weathers said. "I can understand where the fans get frustrated. We're frustrating."

    "Our record is not what you want it to be," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "What more can you say?"

    Not surprising, Jerry Narron was a casualty of the poor results and lost his job as Reds manager on July 1 when the Reds were a big league worst 31-51. Interim manager Pete Mackanin is in the dugout for an undetermined amount of time.

    While one eye will be on Krivsky and the candidates for the permanent skipper's job, the other should be on the bevy of potential moves that could be made during the three weeks between the All-Star break and July 31 non-waivers trade deadline. The GM has a policy of remaining mum about potential moves, but reports from other cities have surfaced in recent weeks that Krivsky has called clubs looking to sell.

    If the second half is anything like the first half, the Reds will be flirting with a 100-loss season for only the second time in a franchise history that goes back to 1869. The 1982 Reds went 61-101.

    To avoid that dubious distinction, there must be course correction in the second half and it must begin with the bullpen. As the closer, Weathers has been the master of the save that requires more than three outs this season.




    Complete coverage > That's been by necessity, not choice.
    Coming off a breakout 2006, Todd Coffey has often struggled. Likewise for Mike Stanton, who was signed to a two-year, $5.5 million free-agent deal over the winter. Kirk Saarloos was demoted to Triple-A Louisville and returned last week. Veteran lefty Rheal Cormier was let go despite being owed $2.25 million in salary this year.

    Of the two relievers acquired from the Nationals coming out of last year's All-Star break, Bill Bray has yet to pitch this year because of finger and shoulder injuries. Gary Majewski, who had shoulder issues last season and the Reds claiming damaged goods, started the year hurt. He was ineffective when he joined the club and is also back at Louisville.

    The middle to late innings often fell to a large contingent of rookies or inexperienced pitchers like Jon Coutlangus, Brad Salmon, Jared Burton, Marcus McBeth and Michael Gosling.

    The bullpen has taken the brunt of the criticism but there have been other accomplices. The rotation hasn't been consistent as a unit and the lineup has performed poorly in clutch run-scoring situations.

    It has the Reds seeking to change both reality and perception -- and quickly.

    "Any way you slice it, that's a bad record, especially for what we have in this room," Weathers said. "I mean, I think we all have got to look in the mirror and say, 'What can I do to make this a better ballclub?' Not 'What can I do to have a better season for myself? What can I do to have more RBIs, or more wins or more strikeouts? What can I do to make this a better ballclub?'

    "Until we get to that point where you can say, 'No matter what, today I'm going to give my one-ninth,' we'll continue to struggle. We've got to forget individual stuff and try to come together as a team."

    The Reds will have to climb a few stratospheres in the National League Central standings to catch the first-place Brewers. As it is, they'll have to play .700 ball just to reach .500 for the season.

    "We've played as bad as we could possibly play or anyone could play," said left fielder Adam Dunn. "Any other division and we'd be 27 games out. Anything can happen. We still have half a season left. I don't think we're out of it until we're mathematically eliminated. We're a really good month from getting back into it -- not from taking over the lead -- but right back in it."
    No one would want trade places with the Reds this season, except maybe in one regard.
    If you're going to struggle, do it in the National League Central, the weakest division in baseball this year. Cincinnati shares the National League's worst record. In any other division, the basement would feel more like an underground bunker at the Earth's core. That's why the Reds feel they have a chance to rise up.

    "You have to stay positive and go out there and have fun," Reds rotation ace Aaron Harang said. "Once this game is not fun, it's hard to want to do it anymore. There are still a lot of games left. You can't give up yet. If you get to where we are now with a month left, it's a little different story. Anything can happen still."

    For the record to improve, Cincinnati needs to find some sort of traction in the second half. Too many series slipped away in the third and deciding game during the first half. There were few winning streaks and none of more than three games.

    Too many bullpen leaks, not enough clutch hitting and struggles by starting pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Kyle Lohse have all played a part in the club's woes this season. The Reds, who were surprise contenders last season before finishing 80-82, will try to keep from sinking deeper in the second half.

    "Just win as many games as we can," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "Nothing has changed in that regard."

    Club MVP: Ken Griffey Jr. has been mostly healthy and has thrived offensively during his first season as a right fielder. He remains capable of being a game-changing clutch hitter at any time. Honorable mention must go to closer David Weathers, who has essentially been a one-man band from the Reds bullpen.

    Call him 'ace': A 16-game winner last season, Aaron Harang has been the lone Reds starter that can claim consistency this season. If he continues on the current pace, his wins and strikeouts total should again be among the NL leaders.

    Greatest strength: There is no shortage of home run power. There are six players with double-digit homer totals, with Griffey and Adam Dunn among the league leaders. Brandon Phillips, Josh Hamilton, Alex Gonzalez and David Ross are the others.

    Biggest problem: The bullpen has hemorrhaged runs this season and helped speed the decline to the bottom of the standings. Other than Weathers, no one has stepped up -- especially in the seventh and eighth innings. The club often relies on rookies to handle the job and none has secured a foothold of reliability.



    Complete coverage > Biggest surprise: Did anyone see Josh Hamilton on the radar screen when he was acquired in last December's Rule 5 Draft? After nearly four years out of baseball because of drugs and injuries, the former 1999 overall No. 1 Draft pick emerged as the Reds' starting center fielder and ranks among rookie leaders in every offensive category. He's been stellar defensively, too, and his left arm is gaining the reputation as one of the best outfield cannons around.

    Team needs: Bullpen help, bullpen help and more bullpen help.

    Oh, doctor: The most significant first-half injuries were to Ryan Freel and Hamilton. Freel missed over a month with a concussion and contusions because of a May 28 outfield collision with Norris Hopper. Hamilton missed two weeks from May 22-June 4 because of gastroenteritis. Starting pitcher Eric Milton has been out since May 9 and will miss the rest of the season because of reconstructive elbow surgery.

    He said it: "Everybody is working hard to improve themselves. You're not going to find a quitter on this team." -- Krivsky

    Mark your calendar: The Reds play the first-place Brewers 13 times in the second half, including July 23-26 and Sept. 7-9 at home and Aug. 17-19 and Sept. 14-16 at Miller Park. The Dodgers and Padres visit from Aug. 7-12 and the Mets are in town from Sept. 3-5.

    Fearless second-half prediction: Look for the Reds to try to sell assets in the next three weeks before the July 31 trade deadline. That should clear the way for prospects and could mark the arrivals of first baseman Joey Votto and pitcher Phil Dumatrait, among others.
    My thoughts on the 1st half:
    Everything that can go wrong did. The Reds started the season 4-1, but then went 27-50 to fall to 31-61 before Jerry Narron was fired and McKanon won 5 of the last 6 going to the break. Ross and Arroyo regressed, Gonzalez dissapointed with the glove, Edwin didn't spring off a great freshman campaign (although he has recovered as of late), and the bullpen was simply awful. Loshe was inconsitent, as was Homer, and Belisle has been bleh. Junior, Dunn, Harang, and Weathers are the only 4 players that did not struggle. All those reasons are why the Reds are 36-52 coming out of the break.

    2nd half preview:
    The Reds find themselves 13 games back of the Brewers, and it probably should be more. Somebody who is optimistic might say the Reds still meet the Brewers 13 more times this year, and if the Reds can rip off about 8 in a row coming out of the break would find themselves back in the race at 44-52. Even that's a stretch and I'm not that optimistic.

    I am looking forward to the 2nd half though. The 2nd half can bring you some hope for 2008. It gives us the chance to restock the farm systems by trading guys like Dunn, Weathers, Hatteberg, and maybe Griffey. It also presents the chance to see the likes of Joey Votto, Phil Dumatrait, Pedro Lopez, Chris Dickerson and others. We can continue to see the young guns like Phillips, Hamilton, Bailey, and Encarancion develop.

    The only thing that could make me upset in the 2nd half is if the Reds stand pat and don't at least seel a few things. Lets see the young kids.

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    High five! nate's Avatar
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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Last year, the Reds overperformed and set expectations for this year too high. This year, the Reds have underperformed (pythag 40-48 vs. 36-52 actual). The biggest problem is pitching and specifically, relief pitching. Relief pitching has lost a good 15 games for the Reds this year. Those 15 games would put the team very close to .500 and right in the thick of contention.

    However, the bullpen is pretty young and maybe this is good experience for them. Cooter, McBeth, Burton and Salmon might be a good young core to build around.

    A note, I've always wondered if the Reds need better pitching development. Over the past 8 years or so, it seems like we really haven't developed anyone who "sticks" (although we have developed a few who "stink"!)

    Regarding trades, I think we'll be very disappointed by the return we get for Dunn if he's traded. Reading through the numerous "trade Dunn" threads and various articles, I'm lead to conclude that unless a team gets really desperate to "win now", Dunn will be with us and given his extension. I think that's a good plan.

    The lesser pieces like Weathers, Hatte and possibly Freel will probably get moved.

    I think Votto should be brought up immediately and allowed to put a "Home Sweet Home" sign on first base. I'd like to see what Phil Dumatrait can do for the rest of the season as well...especially if the Reds are able to move Lohse (I'm not sure they can or should but if something falls out of the sky, take it!).

    Regarding individual players:

    *EE has returned from is demotion with aplomb. Let him continue to develop, he's young.

    *Gonzo has been what I expected him to be. Maybe a little more pop. I think his D has been fine at best and vastly better than FeLo at worst.

    *Over the course of the season, Lohse will be league average. What I would give for a staff whose worst start is league average.

    *I didn't think Homer should've come up so early in the season. That's about the only hiccup I've seen in his development so far. I'm not sure what the best thing to do now is, though. He does need to work on his control but when he gets that sorted out, he'll be fine.

    Going forward, I think we're going to have a lot more disappointing nights than not. However, those disappointing nights coupled with the right instruction will provide valuable experience for a lot of young players. This isn't a team that's light years away in terms of talent. I think they have a lot of talent. The problem is that the mix of talent isn't right for this team. Once we get the mix right, things will start to happen just like they did when Navin Johnson got his name in the phone book.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News had a big column on the Reds this morning. Here are the highlights:

    Untouchables: Harang, Hamilton, Bailey, and Phillips

    Trade Bait: Dunn, Hatteberg, Conine, Stanton, Weathers, Coffey, Belisle, Lohse and Valentin.

    Worth Keeping: Arroyo, Coutlangus, Freel, EE, Junior, Hopper and Ross.

    Won't be back: Conine, Stanton, Castro, Gosling, MacBeth and Stone.

    Read into what you will but McCoy has been covering the Reds for more years than I can remember but it doesn't mean he's right.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    I don't understand Phillips untouchable. He's a good defensive player who hits HR's but has a bad OBP. The Reds made a good decision not to invest big money in a gold glove, low OBP 2B in the early 2000's and may be wise to do the same again.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    i think Phillips has a little more to offer offensively than Pokey Reese. That was who you were referencing right?

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by reds44 View Post
    My thoughts on the 1st half:
    Everything that can go wrong did.
    I disagree with that. What is frightening to me is that they were so bad in the first half of the season . . . and so much went right for them.

    Griffey is healthy and performing above expectations. Dunn is having a very good year. Hamilton has been a very pleasant surprise. Hatteberg is having a great year. Phillips has shown last year was no fluke. Gonzo is pretty much what was expected. EE has been good since coming back from Louisville. Ross is down, but he's still giving us nice power from the catching position. The Reds have the #5 offense. So, I'd argue every (starting) position is meeting or exceeding expectations except maybe Ross (and I'd argue he's adequate compared to other catchers).

    Harang continues to improve and be a rock. Arroyo and Lohse, while inconsistent, have given us a reasonable number of quality starts. Homer has generally done rather well for a rookie. Belisle, while not real impressive, has been an adequate fifth starter. Milton hasn't pitched (and has therefore exceeded expectations ). I'd say the rotation has met expectations.

    The bullpen has obviously been bad. Even worse than expected . . . which is really bad. All you have to look at is the split pitching stats. Innings 1-6 the Reds are somewhat worse than the N.L. average in ERA. Innings 7+ the Reds are the worst. No surprise of course.

    I don't have access to all stats broken out as I would like, but innings 1-6 the Reds have scored 311 runs. They have a 4.74 ERA which in 88 games works out to 278 earned runs. Overall, they have given up 454 runs and 417 earned runs. Assuming that ratio applies, they have given up about 302 runs in innings 1-6 compared to 311 runs scored.

    This might actually be a winning team if it weren't for the bullpen.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by terminator View Post

    I don't have access to all stats broken out as I would like, but innings 1-6 the Reds have scored 311 runs. They have a 4.74 ERA which in 88 games works out to 278 earned runs. Overall, they have given up 454 runs and 417 earned runs. Assuming that ratio applies, they have given up about 302 runs in innings 1-6 compared to 311 runs scored.

    This might actually be a winning team if it weren't for the bullpen.
    They don't score many runs after innings 1-6 either. Can't expect the bullpen to hold the other team scoreless every night.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by JLB5 View Post
    They don't score many runs after innings 1-6 either. Can't expect the bullpen to hold the other team scoreless every night.
    If they could only keep the other team scoreless once in a while, I am sure it would greatly help the team.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by terminator View Post
    I disagree with that. What is frightening to me is that they were so bad in the first half of the season . . . and so much went right for them.

    Griffey is healthy and performing above expectations. Dunn is having a very good year. Hamilton has been a very pleasant surprise. Hatteberg is having a great year. Phillips has shown last year was no fluke. Gonzo is pretty much what was expected. EE has been good since coming back from Louisville. Ross is down, but he's still giving us nice power from the catching position. The Reds have the #5 offense. So, I'd argue every (starting) position is meeting or exceeding expectations except maybe Ross (and I'd argue he's adequate compared to other catchers).

    Harang continues to improve and be a rock. Arroyo and Lohse, while inconsistent, have given us a reasonable number of quality starts. Homer has generally done rather well for a rookie. Belisle, while not real impressive, has been an adequate fifth starter. Milton hasn't pitched (and has therefore exceeded expectations ). I'd say the rotation has met expectations.
    I think you raise a very interesting point about how lousy the Reds record is despite everything that has gone right for the club. While many have pointed out the Reds are under performing, I can't help but think that things have the potential to actually get worse in the second half, particularly on offense.

    Realistically speaking does anyone really think that Gonzalez will be able to repeat his first half offensively? I have my doubts. Can Hatteberg replicate his first half performance or will he experience the same kind of second half drop off that he did last season? Can Griffey stay healthy?

    I can't help but get the feeling that things are going to start reverting to the mean and that we're in for a very ugly summer.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by nmculbreth View Post
    can't help but get the feeling that things are going to start reverting to the mean and that we're in for a very ugly summer.
    Reverting to the mean would indicate that our record will actually improve.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by nate View Post
    Reverting to the mean would indicate that our record will actually improve.
    If they were able to maintain their current production, reverting to the mean would mean their record would improve. My concern is that the offense is over-performing and that a second half correction could make for an ugly summer.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by nmculbreth View Post
    While many have pointed out the Reds are under performing, I can't help but think that things have the potential to actually get worse in the second half, particularly on offense.
    That's my concern. Imagine Dunn traded and Griffey hurt. That would leave us with a starting outfield of Freel, Hamilton and Hopper. It's not hard to imagine the production of Hatteberg, Phillips and/or Gonzo dropping off during the second half. Then throw in a single arm injury in the starting rotation (Arroyo's arm finally falling off?) and this team could be a heck of a lot worse.

    I think it's obvious that we have a pretty weak bench . . . and we really haven't had any serious injuries to highlight that yet (thankfully).

    The greatest reason for optimism in the second half, IMHO, is that the bullpen just can't be that bad and unlucky for an entire season.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    I actually like the offense on this team. Add a RH power bat and you might have something. Teams just throw a lefty reliever at Griffey, Dunn and Hamilton and it shuts them down. We need some RH power to offset that.

    I fear trading Dunn and/or Griffey will net nothing, which makes me want to keep them instead.

    The savings on Milton and possibly spending more money should merit a better bullpen and a RH power bat next season.

    I don't necessarily want to stand pat, but I cringe at trading Dunn and Griffey for nothing. I hope we don't mess up.
    Who's on first?

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by reds44 View Post
    Gonzalez dissapointed with the glove.....
    I still can't understand how anyone can be disappointed with Gonzo's defense. Back when criticisms of EE's defense were being discussed, his supporters liked to make the claim that errors shouldn't be the main emphasis when judging a player's defense. Yet with Gonzo he gets judged by a different criteria.

    Gonzo could make 20-25 errors this season and I wouldn't be disappointed as far as his overall defense goes. He brings a lot to this infield, he has above-average range, and he and Phillips makes one of the best DP combos in the league. I still think he has been a good addition.

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    Re: Midterm Report and Thoughts on the 2nd Half

    Quote Originally Posted by nmculbreth View Post
    Realistically speaking does anyone really think that Gonzalez will be able to repeat his first half offensively? I have my doubts.
    Gonzalez's line the first half: .248/.295/.442/.737
    Gonzalez's career line: .246/.292/.396/.688

    As you can see, he's pretty much right on his career numbers, except for his SLG. I think it's a safe bet he'll continue to over-perform his career SLG due to GABP.

    Can Hatteberg replicate his first half performance or will he experience the same kind of second half drop off that he did last season?
    That's a good point. Hopefully if Hatt continues to face primarily righties, he'll continue his very solid season.

    Can Griffey stay healthy?
    God, I hope so. The move to right field has helped him stay healthy <knocks on wood>, so let's pray that continues.


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