The team hit the skids and the man in charge has seemingly disappeared. What gives?
The Cincinnati Reds are 1-9 in their last 10 games, which is the worst record in baseball over that time.
The Reds' .276 OBP since the All-Star break is the worst in all of baseball, and were it not for the sad exploits of the New York Mets, the 111 runs scored and .226 batting average since the break that Cincinnati has produced would both rank last in either league, too.
Both the team's most expensive hitter (Joey Votto) and pitcher (Homer Bailey) are on the shelf with nebulous potentially serious injuries, and quite possibly the most physically talented and dominant player the franchise can boast (Aroldis Chapman) has been fighting some sort of mysterious shoulder issue whose severity was never divulged.
This is all from a team that sat at 51-44, a half game out of the playoffs, and with five All-Stars to their name just five and a half weeks ago.
That everything has unraveled so quickly has been baffling, but the thing I find most troubling is that the man in charge of it all has been dead silent through the whole nosedive.
Seriously, where the heck is Walt Jocketty? Does he live in Cincinnati? Has he been on vacation?
Can someone get him on the phone and ask his opinion on something?
Nobody is asking him to hold a press conference or to present a powerpoint on precisely why the season went to the toilet in such a hurry. I mean, we can all pretty well see how a rash of injuries and a lack of depth torpedoed what looked like a good thing. But would it be too much to ask for the guy steering the ship to be accessible, or to at least acknowledge how disappointing it has all been?
It's confusing. That he's out of contract in just one more month makes it even more confusing.
To the links:
Mark Sheldon has his latest notebook up at Reds.com, and it's rife with stuff I wish Jocketty would talk about. I mean, it's basically the three biggest stories the Reds have dealt with of late, yet each and every quote is coming from Bryan Price, not Walt. The team's best player and former MVP has dealt with absurd criticism about his injured leg, and decided to put on record exactly what he's dealing with to put a stop to the speculation and misconceptions: no GM there to back him up. Aroldis Chapman is now available after being unavailable with a shoulder issue (which is a terrible problem for a baseball-thrower to have): no comment from the GM. 40-man and 25-man roster moves: no comment from the GM making them. Potentially serious arm injury to the pitcher who just signed a $105 million contract extension: no comment from the GM who signed him. Odd.
Similarly, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer dropped some of his own insight into the same major stories facing the Reds these days. He covered Homer's injury issues (which include getting platelets injected into his ailing elbow/forearm), and even caught up with Votto, too. No sign of Walt there, either.
Rosecrans' colleague John Fay also spoke with Bryan Price about something that probably would have helped things out tremendously had it happened in the past: the idea of Devin Mesoraco working at 1B or even LF to keep his bat in the lineup on days he's not catching. It's something Mesoraco has never done, and it's something that likely would have helped the Reds struggling offense this season as it attempted to mix and match in the wake of injuries to Votto, Brandon Phillips, and numerous others. That's kind of a big topic for the grand scheme of things, isn't it? Isn't the idea of moving your former top prospect turned current All-Star catcher around the diamond something that, I dunno, the guy in charge of the roster should have an opinion on? Jocketty, party of 1...?
Switching gears a bit, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick has a great article on Pete Rose on the 25th anniversary of the day he was effectively banned from baseball for life. I've never really known what to think of Rose, really, as I was born in his waning days as a player and wasn't around to see and feel how his impact on Cincinnati established him as one of the city's icons. To this day I still remember him more for being the manager who's canning paved the way for Lou Piniella, the 1990 season, and the World Series victory that cemented baseball as the sport I loved following the most. Regardless of your views on Rose, Crasnick - himself a former Cincinnati Reds beat reporter - wrote a heck of an article, and it's absolutely worth the read.
FanGraphs and whatever the heck agreement they have going with FOXSports put together a compilation of pitch framing numbers, and it's kinda sorta interesting. The gist: the Reds aren't very good at making borderline pitches get called strikes, at least they're not as good as they used to be. Here's where you can put up Ryan Hanigan's batting stats again to tell me he's not missed and I'll roll my eyes again.
Finally, here's Grant Brisbee with the second installment of his Top 10 underrated players in baseball list(with a link to the first installment in it). I'd have been interested to see what this would have looked like in 2013, as I get the feeling both Mat Latos and Shin-Soo Choo would have had a decent shot prior to their injuried-plagued and $130 million contract offseasons put them a bit more in the limelight, respectively. I still can't believe that neither of those two have made an All-Star team in their careers.
Say hi to Walt if you can find him, would ya?
More from sbnation.com: