Reds looking for manager after 4th straight 90-loss season
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
Monday, October 1
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds’ worst start since the Great Depression led them to make the first managing change of the season, firing Bryan Price after a 3-15 beginning. They ended with their fourth straight 90-loss season, unsure who will be the next manager.
Interim Jim Riggleman led the Reds to a 64-80 mark. He’s one of several in-house candidates being interviewed by Dick Williams, the president of baseball operations, and his staff. They’re also considering outside candidates and plan to hire someone by the end of October.
“I thought Jim has handled this as professionally as anyone,” Williams said. “He has been extremely cooperative and done a very nice job of stepping into this role knowing that there would be a search at the end.”
Dusty Baker led the Reds to three 90-win seasons from 2010-13, their best showing since the days of the Big Red Machine, but he was fired for failing to get the Reds deep into the playoffs. They then launched a massive rebuild and have lost 98, 94, 94 and 95 games.
Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin isn’t interested in the job at this time. Pat Kelly, Billy Hatcher, Freddie Benavides and former Red Sox manager John Farrell are among the in-house possibilities.
Whoever gets the job will have less to do with a turnaround than the front office, which has hoped that young pitchers acquired in trades for stars would have emerged by this point. The lack of dependable starting pitching has been the common thread in the losing.
“We know pitching is a priority for us moving forward,” Williams said. “We are currently discussing every free agent player, starting with pitching by design. We will also be talking about trading targets. There are a lot of possibilities out there.”
Some things to watch in Cincinnati’s offseason:
FIXING THE ROTATION
Top starter Anthony DeSclafani has been hurt each of the last three seasons. The Reds acquired Matt Harvey from the Mets in May and he helped solidify the rotation, going 7-9 with a 4.94 ERA, but he’s a free agent. The young pitchers were inconsistent again, and the Reds ended the season moving youngsters around from bullpen to rotation to see where they might fit. Until the Reds fix that part of the roster, they’re going to be hard-pressed to show much improvement.
WHAT TO DO WITH HOMER
Homer Bailey went 1-14 in 20 starts with a 6.09 ERA, still showing the effects of three significant arm operations over the last four years. The Reds considered moving him to the bullpen, but the 32-year-old pitcher felt he wasn’t prepared for it. He has one year left on his contract that includes a salary of $23 million in 2019 and a buyout for an option year at $5 million.
The Reds’ best player slid this season, due in part to a knee injury. Although he led the NL in on-base percentage for the seventh time, his batting average (.284), doubles (28), homers (12) and RBIs (67) were his fewest since an injury-shortened 2014 season. Votto, 35, has five years left on his contract at $25 million per year.
The Reds are one 90-loss season from matching their worst stretch in franchise history. They lost at least 94 games each season from 1930-34 and went through five managers during that stretch.
Fans are worn down by the long rebuild. The Reds drew 1,629,356 at Great American Ball Park, their smallest home attendance since 1984 at Riverfront Stadium when they lost 92 games, fired Vern Rapp and brought back Pete Rose as player-manager.
“Oh, it’s definitely noticeable,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “It’s pretty hard to not notice it when you can hear the light towers buzzing. It just means we have to play better. If you play better, more people will come.”
Yelich, Brewers beat Cubs 3-1 for NL Central title
By JAY COHEN
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 2
CHICAGO (AP) — Christian Yelich’s easy smile and champagne-soaked T-shirt said it all.
A division title is much more fun than a Triple Crown.
Yelich collected three more hits as the Milwaukee Brewers won their first NL Central title since 2011, beating the Chicago Cubs 3-1 on Monday in a tiebreaker game. The silky-smooth slugger stalled in his bid for the league’s first Triple Crown in decades, but he starred once again as the Brew Crew captured the biggest prize of the day.
“I know how hard it is to get to this point and I’m proud to be a part of this group,” Yelich said as Milwaukee’s boozy party swirled around him, filling every inch of the cramped visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field.
Lorenzo Cain hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning to help Milwaukee to its eighth straight win and home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The Brewers will host the wild-card winner starting Thursday in the best-of-five Division Series.
Chicago stays at Wrigley for Tuesday night’s wild-card game against Colorado. The Rockies lost 5-2 to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Monday’s second tiebreaker for the NL West title.
“It’s no fun. Of course we’d prefer the other route,” manager Joe Maddon said.
It’s a quick turnaround after falling short in their bid for a third straight division title, but the Cubs will have ace left-hander Jon Lester on the mound for the elimination game.
“We’ll be ready. This team has responded all year,” said Anthony Rizzo, who homered for Chicago’s run.
Yelich singled home Milwaukee’s first run and won the NL batting title with a .326 average. He had 110 RBIs, one behind the Cubs’ Javier Baez, and finished with 36 home runs, two shy of Colorado’s Nolan Arenado. The tiebreakers were game 163 of the regular season and Arenado’s homer counted in the totals.
Joe Medwick in 1937 was the last NL player to win the Triple Crown. Miguel Cabrera did it for Detroit in 2012.
Milwaukee trailed Chicago by as many as five games in September, but manager Craig Counsell’s club pushed the season to an extra day with a furious finish and then used its deep lineup and bullpen to outlast the playoff-tested Cubs.
“It just shows the heart and the mentality that this team has,” Cain said. “Never give up. Continue to fight each and every day in each and every at-bat. We’re going to continue to do that in the playoffs.”
Orlando Arcia, batting in the eighth slot, had a career-high four hits, and Josh Hader closed out another dominant relief performance for the Brewers.
“All the guys in the ‘pen, they’re attacking the zone and putting us in a good position to win ballgames,” Hader said.
Jose Quintana pitched six-hit ball into the sixth inning, but Chicago’s bullpen faltered at a key moment. Rizzo, Baez and Daniel Murphy accounted for the Cubs’ three hits.
The game was tied at 1 before Milwaukee opened the eighth with three straight hits. Arcia singled on a 0-2 pitch from Justin Wilson (4-5), Domingo Santana had a pinch-hit double and Cain greeted Steve Cishek with a single back up the middle.
After Yelich struck out swinging — a rare occurrence during an extraordinary stretch for the NL MVP favorite — Ryan Braun got the Brewers an insurance run with a run-scoring single to center.
It was more than enough for Milwaukee’s vaunted bullpen. Corey Knebel (4-3) extended his scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings with a perfect seventh, and Hader worked two innings for his 12th save.
Rizzo had one last chance for Chicago, but he flied to right with Baez on second for the final out . When it was over, Hader wrapped his arms around catcher Erik Kratz as the rest of the Brewers poured out of the dugout.
A sizable portion of Milwaukee fans in the crowd of 38,450 chanted “Let’s go Brewers! Let’s go Brewers!” — a rarity at Wrigley over the past few years.
“We could hear ‘em, we could really hear them and we fed off of that,” Yelich said. “We wanted to bring this home for them.”
Yelich also heard repeated “MVP!” chants when he singled in each of his first three at-bats. He drove in Arcia with his two-out hit in the third.
Jhoulys Chacin sailed into the fifth inning with the lead, retiring 11 of his first 12 batters. But Rizzo led off with a massive drive to right for his 25th homer, tying it 1.
The crowd roared as Rizzo rounded the bases and then popped out of the dugout for a curtain call.
Chicago had a chance to grab the lead in the sixth, but Joakim Soria escaped the threat by striking out Baez with runners on first and second.
“That was the big moment,” Counsell said.
Chacin allowed one hit in 5 2/3 innings, setting up Milwaukee’s bullpen quite nicely. The right-hander struck out three and walked two in another solid effort in a career year.
Quintana kept the Cubs in the game with another stingy performance against Milwaukee, allowing one run in five-plus innings. The left-hander is 4-1 with a 2.13 ERA in seven starts against the Brewers this year.
The Rockies and Cubs split six games this season, with each team scoring 33 runs.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
Before things get wild, the MLB postseason from A to Z
By JAKE SEINER
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 2
NEW YORK (AP) — Last year’s World Series between the Astros and Dodgers was a thriller, ending in Houston’s Game 7 victory for its first championship.
Might they have an encore in store? Perhaps one with a Hollywood ending this time?
Time to find out. After two tight NL division races stretched the regular season to a pair of Game 163s, the Rockies and Cubs are set to begin the playoffs Tuesday night with the NL wild-card game at Wrigley Field.
Before they do, a look at the 2018 postseason, from A to Z:
A: ACES OUT — Good news for NL hitters: Many of the league’s top starting pitchers have already begun their offseasons. Cy Young Award favorites Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola won’t throw a postseason pitch. Same for Patrick Corbin and 18-game winner Miles Mikolas. Of course, longtime rotation leaders like Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester are still in play.
B: BETTS IN SHOW — Mookie Betts enters his third postseason as the AL MVP favorite, though Boston’s dynamic leadoff hitter has a rather ho-hum playoff resume. Despite hitting 87 home runs over the past three seasons, Betts has yet to deliver a playoff homer in seven games, batting .269 without an RBI.
C: CONTROVERSIAL CLOSER — The reigning World Series champs have a different look at the back of their bullpen after a midseason move met by some criticism. The Astros acquired Roberto Osuna from Toronto while he was serving a 75-game ban for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. Canadian prosecutors have since dropped the domestic assault charge against him because the accuser would not travel to testify. Public opinion might swing differently, especially if Osuna keys an October repeat for Houston.
D: DEBUTS — This will be the first postseason for Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Brewers star Christian Yelich after years with the floundering Marlins. Stanton will face another powerful first-timer in the wild-card game in Oakland’s Khris Davis. The Baby Braves are loaded with playoff rookies — only Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Julio Teheran and Kevin Gausman have any postseason reps from Atlanta’s lineup or rotation.
E: EXTRA DRAMA — This year’s postseason got a special prelude — a pair of division tiebreakers. The Brewers beat the Cubs 3-1 on Monday to claim the NL Central title, and the Dodgers topped Colorado 5-2 for the NL West crown. The Cubs and Rockies will play in a wild-card game Tuesday. The winner heads to Milwaukee for a best-of-five Division Series.
F: FREDDIE AND THE KIDS — Freddie Freeman leads a young Atlanta squad back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Freeman is a career .400 hitter in the postseason, but the Braves are just 1-4 with him in the lineup. He has a whole new supporting cast this time, with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies leading a charge that followed a fruitful rebuilding process.
G: GOOD GARY? — Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez batted just .208 in his postseason debut last year and followed that up with a .186 average during an injury-plagued 2018. New York has stayed patient with Sanchez’s defensive shortcomings because of his potential impact on offense, but excessive passed balls don’t pair so well with an average below the Mendoza Line.
H: HOME RUN KINGS — Speaking of New York … No team has ever clubbed more homers than this year’s Yankees. With 267, they beat the mark of 264 set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. Giancarlo Stanton led the way with 38, but this record was set more with depth. New York is the first squad with 12 players who reached double-digits in homers.
I: INSTANT REPLAY: Every call matters that much more in the postseason, and that goes for managers just as much as umpires. Last year, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi was maligned after failing to ask for a review when the plate ump incorrectly awarded Cleveland a hit by pitch. After a restless night of sleep, Girardi declared the next day, “I screwed up.” Girardi was replaced by Aaron Boone at season’s end.
J: JULY PICKUPS — The Dodgers added Manny Machado and Brian Dozier before the trade deadline with an eye on a World Series. Same for the Brewers with Jonathan Schoop and Mike Moustakas. J.A. Happ will be a crucial piece for the Yankees, and Kevin Gausman will get big innings for the Braves. The most surprising player who could make an impact? Breakout slugger Luke Voit, acquired by New York without much fanfare from St. Louis.
K: KENLEY OK? — Kenley Jansen might be a point of concern for the Dodgers. After giving up two homers in Monday’s 5-2 tiebreaker win over Colorado for the NL West title, Jansen has allowed 13 homers this season, more than double his previous career high of six. Jansen missed time in early August after a trip to Denver led to a recurrence of a heart issue, and he’s been especially homer-prone since returning.
L: LONG RELIEF — Andrew Miller made the middle innings a must-watch event two postseasons ago with Cleveland, and last year, starters Justin Verlander, Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw were ready for relief in big spots. Expect to see aces in play early and often, especially in elimination games.
M: MVPS — There’s plenty of playoff hardware already in the trophy cases of this season’s participants. Houston’s George Springer was last year’s World Series MVP, while the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist is back after winning the 2016 honor. David Freese took the 2011 award with the Cardinals — he’s a bench piece now with the Dodgers — and the Cubs also have Phillies 2008 Series MVP Cole Hamels.
N: NO NOVEMBER — The past two World Series have gone to Game 7s on Nov. 1, but if this year’s finale goes the distance on schedule, it’ll have to carry past midnight to stretch beyond October. Game 7 is scheduled for Halloween.
O: ON THE MEND — All-Stars Aaron Judge and Trevor Bauer hit October trying to shake late-season DL stints. Bauer got a few tuneup appearances for Cleveland after breaking his right leg, and now the Indians are hoping he can provide some big innings. Judge, meanwhile, hit just .220 in 13 games after missing time with a broken right hand.
P: PITCHING TO ROCKTOBER — Sure, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story finished 1-2 in the NL home run race, but this year’s Rockies club has been pushed just as much by its pitching. Projected wild-card game starter Kyle Freeland set the franchise season ERA mark at 2.85, while German Marquez, Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson and Antonio Senzatela have rounded out a rotation that’s kept opponents in check at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Q: QUITTING WHILE AHEAD? — Chase Utley is eyeing a chance to go out on top. The Dodgers second baseman is planning to retire after the season, but first LA will try to get him a second World Series ring. The Braves are doing the same for Brandon McCarthy, who was shut down in September and won’t be on the active roster before retiring at year’s end.
R: ROOKIE STANDOUTS — Rookie of the Year contenders Ronald Acuna Jr. of Atlanta and Miguel Andujar of the Yankees could contribute some big swings. The 20-year-old Acuna led all rookies with 3.8 wins above replacement (per Fangraphs) behind 26 homers, 16 stolen bases and a .293 average. Andujar tied for the rookie lead with 27 homers and led the pack with 92 RBIs.
S: STILL SLICK? — Last year’s World Series was star studded, but perhaps nobody got more attention than the supposedly slick baseballs. The Dodgers and Astros combined for a Series record 25 homers while pitchers for both teams complained they couldn’t get a grip.
T: TRIPLE THREATS — Boston’s J.D. Martinez and Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich both took serious runs at a Triple Crown this year. Martinez led the AL with 130 RBIs and finished second with 43 homers and a .330 batting average. Yelich topped the NL with a .326 average, but was third in homers at 36 and tied for second in RBIs at 110.
U: UNHITTABLE — There have been just two no-hitters in postseason history — Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and Roy Halladay’s no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS. Considering this was the first regular season with more strikeouts than hits, though, the majors may be due for a third. Of the three no-hitters thrown this year, two came from playoff teams, including one by Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler and three relievers on May 4 against San Diego.
V: VENTERS’ WILD RIDE — The last time Jonny Venters pitched in the postseason was the 2012 wild-card game with Atlanta. That 6-3 defeat to the Cardinals was Venters’ final appearance in the majors until this season due to four major elbow operations, including three Tommy John procedures. He returned to the majors with Tampa Bay this year, was traded to the Braves and now might pitch again for Atlanta in October.
W: WILD, WILD VET — Jon Lester is set to become the first pitcher to start two wild-card games. The Cubs left-hander pitched in the 2014 AL game for Oakland, allowing six runs in a 9-8, 12-inning loss to the Royals. He’ll face Colorado in the postseason opener Tuesday. Luis Severino could match Lester’s feat with a second wild-card start Wednesday against the Athletics, though Yankees manager Aaron Boone was waiting until Tuesday to announce a starter.
X: XBH MONSTERS — Boston’s Mookie Betts was the first player to lead the AL in extra-base hits and batting average since Mickey Mantle in 1956. Meanwhile, Yankees slugger Miguel Andujar tied Fred Lynn’s AL rookie record with 47 doubles.
Y: YANKEE WAY, WITH A TWIST — For years, New York was notorious for stocking its title contenders by combing through the free agent pool. Well guess who’s borrowed the blueprint? The Oakland Athletics, who boast just four homegrown players. On its projected playoff roster, Oakland has seven players acquired via free agency — most of all the playoff teams — and 14 more picked up in trades, including Khris Davis, Jed Lowrie and Blake Treinen.
Z: ZACH BRITTON — The former Orioles closer was famously left in the bullpen by manager Buck Showalter during a tense 2016 wild-card loss to Toronto. Now a setup man with the Yankees, Britton will almost certainly see action against Oakland in this year’s AL wild-card game, save situation or not.
Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner
OPINION: The artificial intelligence economy
August 8, 2014
By Bob Morrison
What if our economy could grow so rapidly as to greatly increase the amount of money, goods, and services that are available – a good thing, right? What if one result of that growth is that the future economy has no place for you – not so good? These are more than hypothetical questions for millions of people around the world. Businesses are making more products with fewer employees and lower wages. In the US, corporate profits have doubled since 2000 but inflation adjusted household income has dropped from $56,000 to $51,000. After tax corporate profits are up from 5 percent of American GDP to 11 percent – a record high level. Simultaneously employee compensation has dropped from 47 percent of GDP to 43 percent.
Probable opportunities and threats in the future economies of industrialized nations were described by the Editorial Board of Scientific American magazine in their August 2014 edition. Exportation of jobs to cheap labor markets has received much of our political attention but the editors suggest that most future job losses will come from technological advances such as data mining, artificial intelligence, and skilled machines. One of the studies cited predicts that 47 percent of American workers are at risk for replacement by automation. The list includes loan officers, tax preparers, cashiers, roofers, taxi drivers and many other occupations.
In Spain the pre-recession unemployment rate was about 8 percent but it rose dramatically during the recession. In July 2014 they were celebrating the fact that the rate has dropped below 25 percent for the first time in two years. Youth unemployment was 54 percent. Meanwhile the Spanish IBEX stock index is up 79 percent since its May 2012 low. There are similar trends in other nations and unemployment is problematic in much of the developed world.
China has a fast growing and large economy and it is a nation to which a lot of manufacturing has been relocated in order to benefit from low wages. Good data about China are hard to find but CNBC financial researchers see troubling trends there. They estimated that the unemployment rate among youth aged 21-25 with only elementary school education was 4.2% but that the unemployment rate went up for youth with more education, to a rate of 16.4 percent for those with university or graduate degrees. As automation and artificial intelligence replace a larger share of skilled and semiskilled jobs and drive costs ever downward, China may be even more at risk of high unemployment at all skill levels than the western nations because it is not generating enough jobs for its highly educated youth and because automation will eventually be less expensive than even the low wages of Chinese workers.
John Henry, of folk song fame, was a “steel driving man,” a laborer who drove steel into rock so explosive charges could be placed in the holes for railroad construction. He was to be replaced by a steam drill and John Henry set out to prove that he could outwork the machine. He died trying. That legend originated in the early days of the industrial revolution in post-civil war America. In the century that followed agriculture and manufacturing were mechanized to such an extent that new ways of life were created. Family farms all but disappeared and were replaced by agribusiness. Craftsmen were replaced by mass production.
If the editors of Scientific American are correct we are experiencing the beginning of a new revolution, not the end of an old one. Jobs once thought “safe” in finance, transportation, health care, construction, and just about any other sector of the economy of any nation are vulnerable to replacement by artificial intelligence and smart machines. The bright side of the trend is increased productivity yielding more goods and services (and more wealth) at lower cost. The dark side is that the gains are concentrated in corporate profits that are distributed to a few very wealthy owners while large numbers of people lose their ability to be self-sufficient because they can’t compete with the machines – modern day John Henrys. The technology is new but the opportunities, threats and human impact will be similar to the industrial revolution in many ways.
While scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs advance productivity to previously unimaginable levels, the political debate will be about the same issues that arose in previous economic transitions: opportunities for upward mobility and the distribution of wealth. I recall the first day of an economics class when we were taught that “Economics is the science of fulfilling unlimited human wants out of the limited resources available.” Arguments about taxes, public education, and safety net programs are economic arguments; as are the more philosophical arguments about the merits of capitalism, socialism, and other systems. Deciding how to manage wealth is a much better problem to have than deciding how to share poverty but the decisions of the 21st and 22nd centuries will be no easier than those of the 20th.
An old blessing that I recall is, “May you live in interesting times.” We are well blessed. Among our most challenging blessings will be the opportunity to manage abundance while answering the question, “What will you do if the economy evolves to the point that it no longer needs you?”
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