- After Homer Bailey got himself blown up yet again yesterday afternoon, CTrent from The Athletic asked a few tough questions of interim manager Jim Riggleman ($$). As is customary of baseball managers, Riggs didn’t get specific about anything and uttered bromides aplenty, but this bit seems at least mildly newsworthy:
“Our club is 19-36, so we’re open to … we have to be thinking about a lot of things,” Riggleman said following Monday’s loss. “We can’t just be close-minded and feel like this is who we are, this is who plays where, who pitches where. We’ve got to be willing to put some other options out there.”
Given that plenty of players on the Reds’ roster are currently playing at or below replacement level, this could potentially be the preface of a big shakeup. Or maybe all that will come of it is that Scooter Gennett will hit lead off twice this week.
Trent offers up a few unsolicited ideas, and they are certainly worth our collective cogitation. Among them: shuffle up the starting rotation, shuffle up the outfield rotation, and FREE ALEX BLANDINO (trademark Wick Terrell).
- Mark Sheldon at the home office provides some positive injury updates for us. Top prospect Nick Senzel has been out of commission for nearly a month, but he has finally resolved his lingering vertigo issues and should be back in the Louisville lineup sometime this week.
I don’t want to be an alarmist and I generally try to suppress those irrational fears, but when it comes to top prospects and chronic health concerns, I get a bit antsy. Vertigo isn’t the kind of thing that will destroy Senzel’s physical abilities. It’s not a torn hamstring or a shredded rotator cuff. But vertigo is a really peculiar condition in that while it isn’t as serious as those injuries, it is utterly unpredictable, nearly unmanageable, and is problematic enough that a player simply can’t just girt his teeth and play through it.
I’m sure the Reds have top specialists on the case, but from what I know about it there just isn’t a whole lot that can be done to prevent or mitigate it. It can resolve on its own, but sometimes it doesn’t. That uncertainty is what tangles up my eyebrows.
Also, on a brighter note, Raisel Iglesias and Austin Brice should be pretty dang close to ready when their ten-day DL stint is up. They are eligible to return on Wednesday. I’d expect them sometime this week, too.
- Marty Brenneman raised a few hackles yesterday during the game when he got a bit maudlin about the prospects of the embattled Billy Hamilton. He basically said that at this point, we know who Billy Hamilton is and we know that he isn’t a big-league-caliber hitter.
So far this season, Billy is hitting just .205/.290/.301 and he is striking out in over 30% of his ABs. Which, I mean, yeah, that’s really not good. But what I don’t get is why it sounds like SOMETHING when Marty says this. At this point in his career (he has over 2300 PAs) we all know exactly who Billy Hamilton is. His career wRC+ is 70. He’s at 64 so far this year. His BA and SLG are a bit off his career marks, but his OBP is right around his career level thanks to an uptick in his walk rate this season.
I guess the real issue here is that we are all so disappointed in how Billy turned out. It seems like such a long time ago, but he made his big-league debut back in 2013 as a very highly rated prospect. He stole 155 (!!!!) bases in just 132 games back in 2012 and his incredible CF defense was obvious to all. There were legitimate concerns about whether or not he would hit, but he had real actual MVP upside. If he could just get on base at a .330-.340 clip, he could easily pile up five or six WAR a season, easy.
And then he didn’t. His career OBP is just shy of .300. But it isn’t like he’s an awful ballplayer - far from it, actually. He has been a tick above average on a year-to-year basis thanks to his obviously incredible speed and how it translates on the basepaths and the outfield. But I think Billy suffers from the same thing that dogged Jay Bruce in his entire career here. Bruce’s ceiling was so high that he was rated the #1 prospect in baseball the year before his debut and a lot of folks were talking about him like a future MVP. And when he turned out to be merely good rather than elite, people felt jilted. That’s not fair to the player, but it’s not like it is completely unreasonable on all of our parts, either. Disappointment is a hell of a thing.
Just like Bruce, I’m sure that Billy will continue to have a decent career after he leaves Cincinnati. Perhaps his next team will deploy him more as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner and try to leverage his unique skill set to the max, rather than hope and dream that he can be the Best Damn Leadoff Hitter in Baseball Motherfucking History.
- I hate Anthony Rizzo for a number of reasons. He isn’t as good as Joey Votto, he leans in over the plate a lot and gets a ton of cheap HBPs, he looks like the antagonist in a crummy teen movie, and he has a history of acting like the antagonist in a crummy teen movie, too.
He continued his eating pieces of shit for breakfast ways yesterday when he tucked into Pirates’ catcher Elias Diaz to break up a double play. In recent years, baseball has shifted the way it handles plays like this in order to help protect players from injury. You might think these changes are bad for baseball, but whether you like it or not, it is totally A Thing now.
All that said, even under the old baseball culture, this looks a bit fresh. You can tell from this still-frame here that Rizzo is clearly going out of his way to get up in the catcher’s shit. Diaz was stung pretty good and spent a few minutes rolling in the dirt afterwards, but ultimately it seems he’s okay.
And importantly, the umpires ruled that Rizzo’s slide was kosher. Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle disagreed vociferously even after a video review and was summarily escorted to the showers. But rather than undercut my impassioned hate-fire screed against Rizzo here, I think it merely illustrates how difficult it is for umpires to deftly litigate these kinds of things in real time.
In summation, Anthony Rizzo is a jerk.