Three Things…

1. The Reds lost two out of three to the Cardinals this past weekend at GABP. I didn’t get to watch one minute of the action. (I did listen to some of the games on the radio, however, so I wasn’t completely out of the loop). Bottom line: this series was bigger for the Cardinals than it was for the Reds. The Reds still have a six game lead and get to play the Astros six times in the next 13 games, while the Cardinals have to play both Pittsburgh and Washington. If the Reds go 19-14 the rest of the season, the Cardinals would have to go 26-9 to tie. So unless the Reds pull an Atlanta and completely collapse (and I don’t think they will), they’ll be fine.

2. Joey Votto is going to rehab with Dayton this week. Aside from the fact that this means he’s close to returning (PARTY TIME!), I wonder how many more people will show up to those games now.

3. I bought tickets today to see the Rangers play in Cleveland this Saturday. Finally I get to see Texas play live. Plus I get to check off another ballpark on my list. Expect a post sometime next week detailing my thoughts about Progressive Field, complete with pictures.

Lastly, no current or future Reds player will ever wear the number 11 ever again. And that’s the way it should be. Congratulations Barry Larkin!

How Sweep First Place Is

Bring out the brooms!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s awesome when your team sweeps a four game series from a good team such as the Atlanta Braves.

It’s even more awesome when your team takes over first place in the division after sweeping a four game series.

I know it’s only May 25, but it still feels good to see the Reds in first place ahead of the Cardinals. Don’t let up, boys! You have the lead; now work on extending it!

The Closer Situation

Before Sunday’s game against the Yankees, Dusty Baker made reference to the idea that Aroldis Chapman would be the new closer. Needless to say, I wanted to go into full rant mode about this decision and much to the chagrin of my father, I think I did.

I don’t like the idea of Chapman closing for a couple of reasons. One, I think they pulled the plug on Sean Marshall too early. He had been pitching well in that spot during the first month of the season and had only recently begun to struggle. He doesn’t have control issues as evidenced by the ability to get ahead of the Yankees hitters on Saturday. Lately he’s been leaving his breaking ball up so more hitters are going to hit that pitch. (Although I now see the danger of having a predominantly breaking ball pitcher as the closer). I don’t know, maybe it’s mental and he hasn’t gotten used to the idea of closing yet. Maybe he doesn’t have that “closer mentality” yet. But how will the Reds know if he has it if they don’t give him a chance to close. Now, that being said, the past two times Marshall has been given the ball to close, Dusty has had to pull him from the game and both times those games have resulted in wins. I agree that he should have been pulled. He wasn’t pitching well. But two games is too small of a sample size.

Second, every Reds fans thinks that Chapman should be starting. And yes, part of me believes that Chapman should be starting. But I also understand why they needed him in the bullpen when Masset and then Bray went down with injuries. The bullpen has been great so far this year. Chapman has been a big part of that. Using him as the set-up man means the Reds have more freedom to use him as they see fit. He can pitch one or two innings at the end of the game.  Sometimes closers won’t pitch for a number of days in a row. Sometimes he will have to pitch two or three days in a row. He has shown that he can sometimes get fatigued if he pitches three or four days in a row. His fastball isn’t nearly as fast as it usually is on those days, making him somewhat hittable. It’s also known that the set-up man is usually the one who faces the toughest hitters. Take Saturday as an example. Chapman came into the game in the eighth inning to face the heart of the Yankee lineup: Granderson, Cano and A-Rod. If he is the one closing, Marshall will be the one to face those tougher hitters.

Here’s my solution: make the bullpen and the closer spot a bullpen by committee. Go with the pitcher that best matches up with the opposing hitters. If that means pitching Chapman in the ninth, so be it. Marshall did a good job in striking out Cano yesterday to get an out. Ondrusek and Arredondo are also both capable of pitching in the ninth. If the matchups dictate that Chapman should pitch the eighth, let him get the hold and either Marshall, Ondrusek or Arredondo get the save.

The 1990 Reds had a closer by committee and look how well that turned out (World Series Champions, of course!). In that year, FIVE different relievers had at least two saves. The breakdown: Randy Myers–31, Norm Charlton–2, Rick Mahler–4, Rob Dibble–11, Tim Layana–2 (Charlton and Mahler also started 16 games each in 1990). Yes, Myers had most of the saves, but Lou Pinella still went to someone else in the bullpen if he felt that pitcher could do a better job than Myers.

Monday night against the Braves, Dusty had Arredondo pitch the ninth, but when he had control issues, Dusty brought Marshall in to face the lefty Jason Heyward. I think he didn’t use Chapman because Chapman had pitched two days in a row and he wanted to give him a break. (Since Monday, Chapman has gotten another save and pitched the ninth in a tie game).

Dusty may not like using a different closer each night, but I think it could benefit the Reds in a big way. Why do teams need designated closers anyway? This bullpen has done a good job so far of picking each other up when one fails. Just let that continue by having multiple players close games. Chapman can still be the main guy to go to in a save situation (like Myers was in 1990). But if it would make the team better to have him pitch in the seventh or eighth on a certain day, then so be it. Wins are more important than having a designated closer anyway.

Joey Votto: A Red for Life

It’s official. Joey Votto has agreed to a 10-year extension with the Reds. Let that sink in for a moment. Joey Votto is going to be with the Reds for TWELVE MORE YEARS. Neither I nor any other Reds fans didn’t see this coming at this point in time and if any of those fans tell you otherwise, they’re lying through their teeth. When I first heard this news on WLW, I thought it was going to be Brandon Phillips who signed an extension, not Votto.

Locking up Votto demonstrates to the fanbase that the Reds want to win long term. It’s also refreshing to see that a player wants to be here in Cincinnati instead of in a city such as New York, LA or Chicago. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Reds ticket prices go up in the next couple of years because of the $225 million deal.

The reaction on Twitter as Reds fans found out about the extension was great. Most fans were happy that Votto will be here for a long time. There were the fans who are concerned about what is going to happen with Brandon Phillips now, and rightfully so. Brandon is a very good player, an even better defensive player and is probably the most fan-friendly player I’ve ever seen.

I love Brandon Phillips. He wows me every single time he makes a spectacular play in the field. I never get tired of watching him play, both offensively and defensively. But Votto is the better player. He’s an MVP player and he’s consistently going to compete in the three categories for a Triple Crown.

What I don’t get is the Joey vs. Brandon arguments. Why do fans have to be divided on this issue? Everyone is part of the same fanbase of a team that is trying to do something special this season.

You can argue all you want about who the Reds should keep. I’m going to go invest in a #19 jersey.

Congratulations Barry Larkin!

Barry Larkin, one of the best players to ever wear a Reds uniform, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last Monday afternoon. He was the only one on the ballot to be inducted into the Class of 2012, receiving 86 percent of the vote.

Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004, garnering 12 All-Star appearances, 3 Gold Gloves, 9 Silver Sluggers, 1 NL MVP and a World Series title in 1990. He was a career .295 batter with 198 home runs, 960 RBI and 2,340 hits. He was also the first MLB shortstop to hit 30 HRs and steal 30 bases in a single season.

When I first started liking baseball and following it more closely, the Reds weren’t a very good team. But I paid close attention to two players in particular: Sean Casey (I’ll get to him later this season, as the Reds are inducting him into their Hall of Fame) and Barry Larkin. I loved watching him play, especially in the field. He had such good range for a shortstop. And I loved that he was a Cincinnati guy, born and raised. Even though he doesn’t live here anymore, he still knows how special this city is to him and how special it is for the city to have him get inducted.

The Hall of Fame induction is special for me this year because it’s the first year that a player who I remember watching as a kid is getting inducted. In the years ahead, there will be many players who will be inducted from different teams who I remember watching. But I think it’s only fitting that Barry Larkin be that first guy into the Hall of Fame about whom I can truly say: I remember watching him play.

So, good luck to Larkin as he prepares his speech for that weekend in July (which just so happens to be my birthday weekend. Road trip, anyone? Haha just kidding). I will be watching on what will surely be an absolutely great day for Reds fans and baseball fans alike.

Reds Going All In?

About three weeks ago, Walt Jocketty traded four players for San Diego pitcher Mat Latos. This trade surprised me. I knew that Jocketty had to do something this offseason and I was waiting patiently for him to make a move. Unlike other Reds fans, I wasn’t getting frustrated with Jocketty for not making a move; I knew he would make one eventually.

The four players Jocketty gave up to get Latos were Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger.  The only one I was really concerned with when I heard about it was Boxberger.  That young pitcher had some serious potential to be a really good reliever or even a closer. Yes, Alonso is good and yes, he may turn out to be a star, but he was blocked here. And as much as some fans wanted Votto to be traded now, that wasn’t going to happen. Votto is their best player and the Reds are going to try to win with him now. And I like that. Alonso, a great guy, can now be free to play first base and actually get substantial playing time. And the Reds have Neftali Soto, another up and coming first baseman in the minors, if Votto leaves after 2013. Grandal was blocked here by Mesoraco and Volquez probably wasn’t going to do anything big this year anyway. He had run his course here. (The only thing I hated about that was that he was the last guy left from that Josh Hamilton trade  :(

Mat Latos is a 24-year-old right handed pitcher. He’s very tall at 6-6. Last year, he had a 3.47 ERA with 185 SO in 194.1 innings pitched.  1.18 WHIP, .233 BAA (9th in NL), 16 HR, 62 BB,  His W-L record was 9-14, but I don’t look at that as much, especially given the anemic offense that the Padres had last year. He didn’t get a whole lot of run support. Getting Latos gives the Reds a solid number two starter behind Johnny Cueto. Some people have questioned his maturity, but I think that aspect of his life is behind him. During an interview with Lance McAlister, he was asked about that and he said it was just stupid stuff that guys tend to do as a young kid in the majors. I tend to agree with him. Everybody’s done stupid things and most people overcome that to be a much more mature adult. I think that’s where Latos is and I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch this year.

The next trade the Reds made, which happened just before Christmas, was to acquire Cubs LHP Sean Marshall.  In return, the Reds sent Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes.  Marshall, considered by many to be one of the best relievers in MLB, had a 2.26 ERA in 75.2 innins pitched. He was third in the NL in holds with 34. He had 79 SO, 17 walks and only gave up 1 home run all season. He also had five saves during 2011. He was at his best in September, only giving up one run in 12 innings pitched for a 0.75 ERA.  Also, fun fact: Marshall is 6-7. I think that means the Reds now lead the majors in players who are 6-3 or taller ;)

In this trade, just as with the Latos trade, the Reds didn’t give up guys who were going to be a key part of 2012. Travis Wood can be great when he wants to be, but based on last year’s performance, probably wasn’t going to be a part of this year’s starting rotation. Dave Sappelt was a good utility player, but he did swing a lot at the first pitch. He got better as he got more at-bats, but I still saw him as an average utility player going into 2012. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Ronald Torreyes. I looked him up and saw that he had a .350 batting average at Dayton. After reading about him, he is probably the one I am most concerned about. He sounds like he has some serious potential, but it’s just that: potential. And the Reds got a bonafide relief pitcher to make the bullpen better for this coming year.

When news of both trades first broke, many Reds fans weren’t too thrilled at the idea of giving up four players for Latos, including Alonso and Boxberger, and then three players for Marshall. All I heard via Twitter or sports talk radio was that the Reds were trading away the future.  Honestly I don’t get Reds fans sometimes. Isn’t the goal of baseball to try to do whatever possible to go the playoffs and ultimately win a World Series? That’s what the Reds are doing by trading for Latos and Marshall. They see a window of opportunity to win now and they are bolstering their roster to try to go for it. Prospects are just that: prospects. I think fans sometimes rely too much on the potential of future players, even though they have yet to do anything at the major league or even the Triple-A level.  Don’t get me wrong; I know not all fans are like this. But I think a lot of Reds fans were conditioned into this way of thinking (don’t give up prospects because they’ll do something someday) during the years that the Reds weren’t good and they had a lot of good prospects such as Votto and Bruce. Well, guess what, that time has come and it’s now the Reds opportunity to try to win something with those guys.

Since I’ve Last Blogged…

Since I’ve last blogged, many things have happened in the baseball world:

1. The most epic night of baseball happened, with two walk-offs, including Evan Longoria’s blast to send the Rays to the playoffs.

-Yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.

2. The Rangers were within one strike of winning the World Series, TWICE.

-This was disappointing for me. I got so nervous when they were so close and I was ready to celebrate. I haven’t been a lifelong Rangers fan, but I’ve been one long enough to enjoy a World Series victory.  I wish they could have finished it, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

3. The Cardinals won the World Series. Boo.

-This sucked. That’s all I have to say on that subject.

4. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto both won Gold Gloves.

-I expected, as did every other Reds fan, that Phillips would win a Gold Glove.  I liked Votto’s chances of winning one, but wasn’t as sure as I was about Phillips. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Votto win it.  He’s worked very hard to improve his defense and it showed this season. He definitely deserved it. Now if only Bruce could have won one too….

5. Brandon Phillips won a Silver Slugger award.

-I half expected this too. Who was his competition? He really didn’t have any.

6. Albert Pujols signed with the Angels for $254 million.

-At least he’s not in the NL Central anymore. But in all seriousness, he was the one Cardinal I actually had some respect for. (Well, him and Arthur Rhodes). $254 million is ALOT of money and I don’t think even Pujols is worth that much, especially for ten years. Honestly, no one is worth that much money.

7. CJ Wilson also signed with the Angels.

-Not happy he went to a divison rival of the Rangers. I wanted him to go to an NL team if he didn’t resign with the Rangers so that I could potentially go watch him pitch at GABP next year.

8. Ryan Braun tested positive for PEDs.

-This surprised me.

9. The Reds traded for Mat Latos.

-Look for my opinion of this trade in my next post.

 

Those are my comments on the MLB news of the past couple of months. Expect more frequent posts from me in the next couple of weeks. I have some ideas for posts, including my trip to Wrigley Field this past season (which I never posted) and Redsfest 2011. And I will be posting more frequently since I am off school right now.

It’s Been Awhile

Since I’ve last posted here, the Reds finished another season under .500, the Braves and Red Sox both finished an epic collapse on of the best days of baseball I have ever seen, the Rangers keep on winning and are on the verge of clinching the ALCS (They are playing in game 6 with the chance to clinch tonight as I type this), and the Cardinals keep on winning and whining in doing so (blech).

A lot has happened in baseball and I haven’t posted about any of it. I’m back in school now for the fall quarter and I have a full course load. But I want to get back into posting regularly on here, hopefully once a week. I have some ideas for new posts, including recapping the Reds season, writing and talking about my opinion on this whole Joey Votto: Should the Reds trade him or not? deal. I also am going to have a post on my visit to Wrigley Field last month. And there will most likely be some mentions of the Rangers in the next couple of weeks (I know, I know, it’s a Reds blog; but the Rangers are on the verge of the World Series. I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about them). Plus, there will be Redsfest in December and the Hot Stove League to look forward to this winter.

Well, I’m going to go watch the Rangers finish this game. They’re currently up 9-2 on the Tigers in the fifth inning. Here’s hoping they hold on to this lead and win the pennant :)

A Reds Tribute to Jonny Gomes

I’m back. After not posting in what seems like forever, I’ve decided that I need to start blogging again.

I went to the game last Friday to see Reds-Nationals, the last fireworks night of the season, and the return of one Jonny Gomes.

 Yes, that is Jonny Gomes, former Reds player who was traded the last week of July to the Washington Nationals, signing autographs for Reds fans. And because I haven’t blogged since before he was traded, I thought I would do a small tribute to Gomes and what he meant to the Reds. I try not to get emotionally attached to baseball players; after all, I’m a journalism major and so, I try to stay objective. But, it’s hard not to like Jonny Gomes. He could be a frustrating player to watch sometime, but you could never get mad at him. (Okay, maybe some people got mad at him. But I think it was more frustration than anger). He was a fan favorite.

Jonny was a big reason as to why the Reds won the divison last year. He brough a spark to this team that no other player could. He had heart and played all out like it was his last game. Even late in the season when he was slumping, he still brought an attitude of “all out, all the time.”

I understand baseball is a business and Jonny wasn’t performing this season. The Reds had no choice but to trade him. Fans called for him to be traded because he was so bad this year. And yet, I think most fans loved and appreciated what he did to help this team win a division championship. And for that they will always be grateful.

I’ll always remember the good times. Like the time he hit a walk-off home run against the Cardinals in the third game of the 2010 season. And the unbelievable month of May that he had last year.

I’ll also remember this: Jonny’s suit he wore to the Reds Rally on the Square the Monday they left for Philly.

And this:

But, mostly, I’ll remember this reaction from the night that they clinched.

At least I’ll always have his bobblehead (or should I say, bobblearm).

Thanks Jonny, for signing my bobblehead! (And signing your Reds number #31 instead of your new Nationals number) :)

Keep rockin’ the mohawk, Jonny :) It suits you.

It’s a little weird to see this:

And I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing him wiggle that helmet with the W on it. He’ll always be known as a Cincinnati Red to me.

Fun things from the MLB All-Star game

The NL now has the distinct honor of homefield advantage in the World Series after winning the All-Star game 5-1 last Tuesday. The big blow came off the bat of Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder when he hit a three-run home run off of C.J. Wilson in the fourth inning.

Reds players didn’t have a good day at the plate, but they all got a chance to show off their defensive skills. BP had some routine grounders, Rolen made a nice sliding play in the second inning, and Joey showed Prince Fielder how to catch a pop-up. (Milwaukee has to have one of the worst defenses in the league, btw).

Some other notes from Tuesday’s game:

-I was feeling very conflicted during the game, especially when C.J. Wilson came into the game. I love the Rangers and Wilson’s one of my favorite Rangers pitchers behind Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz, but I also wanted the NL to win.

-Heath Bell had the best entrance ever. Genius. It provided some entertainment to an otherwise pretty boring game. He’s probably my new favorite closer. (Which means, San Diego, please don’t trade him, especially not to St. Louis).

-Until Brian Wilson entered the game in the ninth, there was a NL Central player at every position except third and catcher.

-Speaking of Brian Wilson, he needs to shave that beard.

-Jay Bruce got the chance to show off that strong arm of his. He saved two runs in the ninth.

-After the game, FOX interviewed Brandon Phillips. He was told that it was the first time since 1994-1995 that the NL had won back-to-back All-Star games. He responded with a big smile on his face, “I think it’s ’cause I’m on the team.” Haha gotta love BP :)

This is pretty funny. Gotta love Joey :) http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/7/13/2274253/in-fit-of-pique-votto-claims-to-be-from-canada

Phillips, Votto and Bruce talk about what it means to represent the Reds. http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16859617&topic_id=16609400&c_id=mlb

Andrew McCutchen and Brandon Phillips critique each other during a MLB Network interview. http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16859099&topic_id=7417714

Rolen and Kevin Millar had a war of words between each other. Funniest thing ever. My favorite parts: “Why do you have highlights when you’re 40?” and “I got hot and went 0-3 to stay above .240.” Haha, gotta love Scott Rolen.

NL Reserves are announced. I don’t know what Joey was laughing about when Jay was announced, but it was kind of adorable. http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16861989&topic_id=16609400&c_id=mlb

Reds players’ reaction to the All-Star game. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110712&content_id=21757832&vkey=news_cin&c_id=cin&partnerId=aw-4935635940973173242-1025

 

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