Inside the Reds’ historically bad season start

Cincinnati — The hardest part for the right Hunter Green is Red‘ The season’s corrupt start came last night when he ran eight and took eight outs. Second baseman Jonathan India has a sore right hamstring and has been watching his team drop from game to game in the dugout. For shortstop Kyle Farmer, it was a moment in the midst of a no-hitter at 34, standing in the shower wearing a hat, jersey and cleats “trying to wash away all the demons”. .

Victory is a shared experience. Losing is a collection of small, personal tragedies. And so far this season, Cincinnati has had a lot of losses. The team’s 9–24 start is at a rate of 117 matches, which will be their third worst season since the early 20th century. The Reds have a team ERA of 6.29, the lowest in the majors. that much pirate, the next worst pitching team has an ERA of 4.89. Recently, those pirates have done their part to cover up some of the ugliness. Cincinnati are on a three-game losing streak and have won six of their last eight. Five of those victories were against Pittsburgh, one of the worst clubs in the league. Following Greene’s shelling at this time last week and their last game before their game against Pittsburgh, the Reds were on pace to finish with a record of 20-142, with a 3-2 record, 8 more than the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. worst team. At one point, Cincinnati threw 99 innings without a lead.

The Reds cannot sustain this level of futility. But it’s only May. We have four and a half months to go. How can they keep doing this?

“I think baseball is the worst drug ever.” the farmer says “When you get to the pinnacle of baseball, you know it’s there and you want to keep chasing that pinnacle. In other words, you can speak hastily. And I think it can be better when there are bad moments. That’s what keeps you coming back to the ballpark.”

Earlier this year, Farmer stood in the shower wearing a hat, uniform and cleats. Because she wanted to “wash away all demons”.

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I tasted it this week, when I took 2 out of 3 from 1st place in front of dozens of fans. brewer. But even those games reminded me just how flawed the team was. On Monday, starting pitcher and trade-up potential Luis Castillo made his season debut with right shoulder pain, but saw his speed drop to between two and three mph with every game. pitching from last year. And on Wednesday, Milwaukee gave up six runs in the bottom of the ninth, making the laughter a close match.

This roster was not in a position to be successful. The Reds were 83-79 last year. In the new 12-team playoff format, they would have made it to the postseason. In the soft National League Central, they were a piece or two away from contention. But instead of buying, they sold hard. “We have to align salaries with resources,” said Nick Krall, then GM. They lost all-star right fielder Nick Castellanos as a free agent, traded Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart as a prospect, and gave up trusty third starter Wade Miley for $10 million. One day at the start of spring training, they traded right-handed Sonny Gray for a youngster. A day later they traded all-star left fielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez for a prospect.

Director David Bell said: “It all happened really quickly. “When we came out of spring camp, the men didn’t know each other very well in many ways. Our team has changed a lot. Some of the key figures who have been here for a long time in our clubhouse were really close teams. And many of those faces disappeared. So it’s like, Okay, everybody’s trying to find their place on the team.”

And as soon as they started jelly, half of them got hurt. According to baseball prospectus, the Reds lead the league with 396 games missing on the disabled list so far, with two or more complete wins blown away everyone else with a loss of value. Six-time All-Star first baseman Joey Votto has been out since May 3 due to COVID-19. India, who won the Rookie of the Year award last season, already missed the 24th due to a hamstring injury. Center fielder Nick Senzel has been on the COVID-19 roster since May 4. Three-time All-Star Mike Moustakas missed the 10th due to tension in his right biceps.

Such an execution would devastating all teams. However, a deep team is better suited to handle it. The Reds removed all depth because they didn’t want to pay.

“I know where we are,” Krall says. “Okay. I see it. But coaches, staff, players – everyone comes to the clubhouse every day with a positive attitude and I really respect it in the group.”

What he didn’t say was that he wasn’t even in a position to succeed. In 2018, his predecessor Dick Williams traded Homer Bailey’s $23 million salary to two prospects. Dodgers Outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, lefties Alex Wood and Farmer. These four players add up to 0.7 WAR and only Farmer remains in the Reds. Los Angeles replaced these two prospects with right fielder Mookie Betts and ace Max Scherzer.

Denver, Colorado, USA on May 1, 2022;  Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell (25) played the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

Bell manages by far the worst pitching team in the league. This offseason, the Reds traded Gray, one of the best starting pitchers of the past few years, and gave up not having to pay Miley.

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This season, Krall’s ownership group signed more apologies (2) than multi-year contracts (0) with the FA.

On a radio show ahead of the Reds’ home opening game on April 12, Phil Castellini, the son of CEO Bob Castellini, and team chairman and COO, was asked why fans should continue to believe them.

“Now, where are you going? Let’s start there,” said Phil. “Who do you sell your team to? Do you want this discussion? See what you want to do with this team to make more money, make more money, and compete more in the current economic system in which this game exists. If you want it, you pick it up and move it somewhere else, so be careful what you ask.”

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Hours later, Cincinnati TV station WLWT asked him to clarify his remarks. “Are you going to give up being a Reds fan?” he said. “Are you going to give up following this team? We didn’t throw it away. We haven’t given up on investing in our team and community. The point is, how about everyone just taking a seat and celebrating and cheering for the team? You can hate us all you want. We are not going anywhere.”

He later apologized to his fans and staff. However, a small number of people with nowhere to go started to show up, carrying SELL THE TEAM signs and carrying bags over their heads. (Through a club spokesperson, both Castellinis declined to be interviewed about the story.)

The Reds haven’t won a playoff series since 1995 and have little reason to hope. This is not a complete overhaul designed to build up prospects and stock up on draft picks. This is just a bill from mismanagement. According to Spotrac, with a salary of $116 million this year, is 21st in the league. The fourth highest-paid player this year is outfielder Shogo Akiyama, who was released in April but still owes $8 million. And the cavalry does not come. in March ranked the Reds’ Farm System #15 in Sports.and 20 of them top 30 prospects Below High A.

Most of the players here have never actually won. For those who have, focusing on development at the major league level can be irritating. Left fielder Tommy Pham has spent 11 years navigating a crowded outfield. Cardinals‘ Until the system crashes in 2017 beam And Padres. He signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract as a free agent this offseason, hoping he could improve his stock by spending the season at his beloved ballpark.

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Tommy Pham, 28, reacts after striking out an MLB National League match between the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers at the Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.  The Reds took a 1-0 lead in three innings.

A strong veteran, Pham has a different mindset than many young Reds members who are getting opportunities to advance in the majors because of his lack of depth on the team.

Sam Greene/The Inquirer/USA TODAY Sports Network

But he’s never played for a loser before and he’s still getting used to what that means. He praised his coaches for their tireless efforts with the young players and said he hopes his teammates will take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. But he is not sure if they should be given such an opportunity.

“There should be no progress in the majors,” says Pham. “There shouldn’t be. When I arrived, there was a long list of boxes I had to check before coming here. I remember seeing someone sent off because he missed the damn cutoff. I was a minor [then St. Louis manager] Tony La Russa sent him and I said: Damn I gotta make sure I hit my cutoff [man].”

Pham also has a different mindset than some of his team members. Pham simmered while those around him celebrated Wednesday’s victory.

“It should be a little more urgent,” he says. “Because you still play to win. I play to win. ok it’s easy W, but it turned into a close game. We ended up using an extra pitcher. Those things may be very important for tomorrow. You know? I came out differently. I still have those thoughts.”

That tension often pervades bad teams. How do you balance learning to play with learning to win? Reds’ approach is to break everything down into the smallest possible pieces. Don’t worry about winning divisions or winning games. Win at bat. Win the arena.

“On paper, we don’t play well with the Dodgers or the Brewers or anyone,” Moustakas says. “But if we go out and do our best, do our best, go out and do what we have to do, we will win a few games.”

And they believe they can win the World Series despite their record. “Look brave Last year,” says Farmer. “Overall they were terrible.”

convinced. But the Braves added players. So far, Reds has only subtracted.

The farmer smiles. “Yeah.” He said. “i know.”

They’re smart guys. They know the score. They made several more references to . major league, a film in which Cleveland wins the division despite the owner’s best efforts to disrupt the team. A small replica of his grandfather, a voodoo doll owned by fictional right fielder Pedro Cerrano, sits at a table in the center of his home clubhouse.

Shortly after Votto reached IL, he set up a few teammates on FaceTime and brought up the movie. The team recently recorded 11 straight losses and immediately started their ninth straight. Votto wanted to encourage his friends.

“Do you know how absurd and what the story would be if the Cincinnati Reds win the World Series this year?” he said

They melted into laughter and annoyed him. “no!” Votto argued. “I’m serious!”

Encouraged by his speech, they set out to surprise the world that night. they lost

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