The Utility Player: Road Woes, Chapman, Frazier


The West Coast has never actually been an enjoyable trip. Last season, the Reds were fortunate with the way the California teams were split. An early visit out West had the Reds in Arizona and San Diego. Later, it was San Francisco and LA on another trip. No extended trip like what we’re seeing in 2012.

And while the Good Guys have fallen out of first place due to a current trip record of 3-5, the sky isn’t falling. There are some troubling issues afoot though.

The top two spots in the lineup have been woeful on this trip. In the first 8 games (with 3 yet to follow), the trio of Zack Cozart, Drew Stubbs and Wilson Valdez (on a limited basis) are combining for a .125 batting average (8-64) with 7 walks and 16 strikeouts. They have scored a grand total of 5 runs. It is worth pointing out that when any one of these players have scored a run, the Reds have notched a victory.

The biggest target is Stubbs. Since his game-winning home run on July 26, he doesn’t have a single hit.

The Reds have been outscored on this trip, but only by one run (21-22). Even after last night’s defeat, Reds pitchers as a combined unit have allowed only 2.75 runs a game. Well, that’s what my calculator told me. Even with the bullpen faltering last evening, you cannot blame that loss entirely on the ‘pen.

So you instinctively point to the bats. As I just mentioned, being outscore even by a scant one run over a total of eight games. Scoring only one run in each of the last three games leaves you feeling ill.

And what’s with the base running gaffes as of late?

Where’s the ‘Missile’?

Inconspicuous by his “absence” on this road trip has been Aroldis Chapman. He’s only pitched in one game. One stinking game!

Chapman was warming up last night (actually, early this morning), but was never summoned to the mound. Has he been “locked” into this closer’s gig that much? Appears so, and for the life of me, I can’t understand it. He’s the best bullpen arm (some wll say the best arm on the Reds entire pitching staff) and using him solely for the purpose of getting a save is frustrating beyond belief.

And ludicrous.

Last night provided such an example. Padres manager Bud Black used his closer in a tie game. Why couldn’t Dusty have used Chapman? Even if the game has gone extras, Black would not have had his closer at his disposal.

Chapman hasn’t pitched since July 2nd and of all the days of rest between his outings this season, two days of rest is the most commonplace (10 times). That was the case going into last night’s game. Yes, I know this will rile up the anti-Dusty brigade, but once again we are witnessing a misuse of Chapman.

Frazier on Trip

One player that isn’t struggling on this road trip is our guy, the utility player himself, Todd Frazier. A slash of .292 (7-24)/.370/.500 with a home run and 5 RBI has Reds fans buzzing about the lack of love The TOddFather receives from the national types. It’s true. If you haven’t seen this over on Redleg Nation, you must. Steve Mancuso does a comparison of Frazier to another extremely-hyped rookie that plays for the Nationals. (You’ll have to go the second page.)

With the back issues that have Scott Rolen sidelined, it’s nice to see that Frazier in once again proving that he’s woth more than, well, a utility player. Some have opined that it is time for Rolen to walk away due to Frazier’s production. I’m sure we’ll see and read much more on that topic.

What had me flummoxed was that it hasn’t been until recently that Frazier’s status has been corrected. For the majority of this season, Frazier was not listed among the other rookies on The page where they compare the stats of all rookies did not include his numbers. It was the only site not to have him listed as such. I even went digging around about the rule of rookie eligibility just to see if my wits were still in place. They were…for a change.

I’ll add this, too. Of all MLB rookies, Frazier is 5th in OPS (.870). Yes, higher than the hype machine…by 34 points.

34, huh? The irony..

We might be forced to remove the tag of “utility player” and go looking for another, but I don’t see Wilson Valdez as an alternative. Got to admit that Frazier has been showing his worth at third. I doubt you find anyone that will disagree.

Items of Note

Something else I noticed…

Saw an item mentioning that during the 2010 season the Reds were swept by the Phillies right before the All-Star break. There was a feeling that they would not be able to overcome such a devastating sweep. As we know, they did and won the NL Central.

There is one difference, but it could change. In 2010, the Reds still entered the All-Star break in first place. Unless the Reds win the last three in San Diego and the Pirates are swept at home by the Giants, the Good Guys will not enter the break atop the division.