Monday, June 20, 2005

« Why the Reds eat it hard »

By Suss
Cincinnati isn't good and hasn't been good in a while. So how come they can't seem to win?

They're second in the NL in offense (4.89 runs/game). They're tops in home runs (88). While they play in the Great American Ballpark, the fifth biggest (smallest?) launchpad in the majors with 1.222 a game, it ranks middle of the road in runs scored.
"It's as if pitchers come to Cincinnati to kill their careers."

And of course, we look to the other half of the roster and look at the pitching. P-U.

Their hurlers have an ERA of 5.66 - only three hundredths better than the worst pitching team Colorado.

They shelled out a lot of money for former Twin and Philly Eric Milton, who -- in a small ballpark -- leads the NL in losses with 9. While he won't tell you being a flyball pitcher isn't a factor in a small park, he throws a cut fastball and changes speeds, which results in the ball sailing in the air. He's given up a league-high 25 home runs in only 15 starts, and his ERA is a dismal 7.82. Giving up 5 runs in 6 innings would actually lower his ERA.

Starter Ramon Ortiz isn't much to brag about, either. He's been OK at best everywhere he went. He had moderate success in Anaheim (16 wins in 2003) mainly because of run support, for his ERA in '03 was 5.20. His stuff is too blase to be anything beyond a 4th or 5th starter who will give you 3 runs for every 5 innings.

Aaron Harang and Brandon Claussen have been their only effective starters. Harang, at 4-6 and a 4.08 ERA, is 6th in the league in strikeouts (86 in 90 1/3 IP) and leads his own team in wins, WHIP, starter ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts. Claussen (3-4, 4.02) is a young lefthander who

The combined 2005 salary of Harang and Claussen is $760,000. That's a fraction of the combined salary of Milton and Ortiz -- $8,883,333.

So getting back my headline of "Why the Reds eat it hard," it's not the massive underperformance of their pitching staff. They simply overpay average starters.

There was a reason the Angels demoted Ortiz to the pen last year, and there was a reason they declined his $5 million option.

Milton has pitched a no-hitter in his career, but this year he will make over $5.3 million and probably surpass his career high for losses in a season (14), which was in 1998 when he only made $140,000. According to all logic he should be a good pitcher, and has the stuff to be the ace of a staff. But since right-handers are hitting a colossal .336 with 22 HR against him, he will have to keep his pitches low in the strike zone and not hang his cutter in the wheelhouse of anybody with a hard swing.

Also, Paul Wilson, whom the Reds signed to a lucrative deal in the offseason, is out for the year after undergoing surgery to repair his right shoulder.

But Harang and Claussen, two young pitchers, seem to have the right stuff.

In my long and winding conclusion, the front office is to blame for the Reds bottom feeding status in recent memory. Incoming free agents and trades have not helped much. They don't seem to lure quality starters. It's as if pitchers come to Cincinnati to kill their careers.

On the other hand, it's not like their prospects are great and are just slipping away, since few Reds pitching prospects have made an impact on other teams.

The Reds have the offense like that of the Big Red Machine. The pitching is a machine too, but more like a batting practice machine for the opposing team. But if they can't find it out of young talents or free agents, they're never going to win.

UPDATE, 3:30 PM JUNE 21 The Reds read my article and promptly fired their manager and pitching coach. Dave Miley, who has been manager since July 2003, will be replaced by interim manager Jerry Narron, and pitching coach Don Gullett will be replaced by the minor league pitching coordinator Vern Ruhle. Gullett has been the pitching coach since 1993. Story

Read it again at Blogcritics and get the full effect, so I'm told.


Anonymous cg said...

I don't think it's really a good thing that they are getting rid of Miley(Their offense alone and the way he manages the big bat talent they have is more than enough for me). In fact, this almost seems like a favor for him. He should land on his feet with a good team at the end of the season.

June 21, 2005 7:32 PM  

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