I can't give my self a naughty rating. I didn't get the T.V. but that was in the "Yeah Right" category to begin with. And I even got one of the items off of the "Things That Don't Exist List": the king size bed skirt with a 12" drop (thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law who made it herself from a queen skirt). So no complaints. Under the no-control category, we'll see this Sunday on the two football games (UK and Bengals). Of course, I got the "Thing That Was Already Purchased" and a couple things from the "More Likely" category, including 2 Bengals jackets (we'll have a fashion show later to pick the one I keep -- maybe I should post photos of me on facebook in each jacket and let the America vote). Rachel and I had a great meal at the Waterfront before we left for Christmas, and I got a couple of great books I wanted. Overall, I'd have to say I was nice this year.
It's been a rough off-season for the Blue Sox, what with Melky going to the N.L. and now Rodney signing on to close for the Angels. I lose Melky altogether and no way I keep Fuentes at $4.50 if he's not closing. And my best deal, Branyan at ten cents, is still without a job. He finally got a full season of at-bats and then his back gave out making him a health risk. Let's hope twenty ten (that's how I'm saying it) treats the Blue Sox a little better.
I had a chance to talk to former Reds' GM Jim Bowden this morning about my Crisp idea. He didn't like it. He questioned Crisp's health and his defense, and said he'd give the job to Stubbs because of age and upside. He also said the Reds need another bat but will have to wait for a free agent bargain later in the off- season.
In an unexpected move, Reds' GM Walt Jockety ignored my advice to not take on any new contracts past this year or next. Here's a review of my advice: Keep everyone they have, but don't sign on anyone past 2011. The only commitment the team has past 2012 is Yonder Alonso on his major league deal at $1.4 mil. Cordero and Phillips both have big contracts for 2012, but that's it. That would let the Reds make a run at a week division (my post on the N.L. Central activity (or lack there of) so far this off-season will be up soon) with a pretty solid staff and a decent line-up. And if they aren't in it at the trade deadline, they can trade guys then.
So Jockety signs Ramon Hernandez for two years and re-ups Rolen for three years. But it may not be as bad as it sounds. Rolen just re-upped for $23.625 mil. But he restructured his deal. He's going to make only $6 mil. in 2010, rather than the $11 mil. he was scheduled to make. This frees up $5 mil. for this year's payroll. In exchange, Rolen gets $6.5 mil. in 2011 and 2012, with a $5 mil. signing bonus deferred without interest for three years. (Sounds like a buy-out with out an option to me.)
So what do we make of this decision? One of two things, Rolen has compromising pictures of Walt Jockety, or the Reds do plan to win this year and next. Surely, they would not re-up with Rolen for three years and then do something stupid like trade Harang or Arroyo! If you are going to trade Harang, Arroyo, or Phillips, you don't re-up Rolen for three years. This is exactly the type of inconsistent move that never gets you anywhere. Play to win, by keeping your guys and re-upping Rolen, or play for later by trading the big contracts. But don't trade big contracts and then resign new ones.
If we find out the Reds are in fact in trade talks with L.A. for Harang and the Mets for Arroyo (and maybe Phillips) as has been rumored then the re-up of Rolen makes absolutely no sense and just shows that Jockety either has no idea what he's doing or knows exactly what he's doing, which is not trying to field a winner.
My Christmas wish: don't trade anyone, and use the $5 mil. saved this year on Rolen and sign Coco Crisp to lead-off and play center field.
MLBTradeRumors.com is citing mlb.com's Mark Sheldon for the fact that the Reds are interested in Jamey Carroll, formerly of the Indians. But if you actually read the post is says the opposite. Carroll apparently was interested in playing for the Reds, but the Reds don't think he's good enough at short.
Mark Sheldon does say the Reds want a left handed hitter that can play short and second, and indicated the Reds have discussed Craig Counsell. (Don't worry, he abandonded that hideous stance.) Presumably, that would create a platoon for Janish and provide a back-up for BP, but might it also allow the Reds to trade BP mid-season if they follow the Blue Sox Baseball plan and fall out of the race?
I'm going to make a run at analyzing the recent trade (although not official) between the D'backs, Tigers, and Yankees. I'm going to argue it's a good trade for all three teams.
D'backs: this is the closest call in terms of whether or not the team won, and it all revolves around Max Scherzer. Arguably, Scherzer was as good or better than Edwin Jackson last season. Jackson had the better traditional stats (wins, era, etc.) but Scherzer had the better peripherals (k/9, k/bb, etc.) last year and probably has a higher upside. But the D'backs have a real opportunity to win in 2010, with the McCourt divorce, the Giants complete lack of offense, and the Padres stinking up the joint and talking about trading their only decent players (Kouz, Bell, and A.Gon). Of course, the Rockies will be good again. The D'backs picked up the option on Brandon Webb, so they'll have Webb, Haren, and Jackson. As indicated, Scherzer is probably just as good as Jackson, but there are folks who think Scherzer can't last as a starter without a third pitch. Jackson has shown that he can win 13-14 games and go 200+ innings by doing just that the last two years in the tougher league. (Don't believe me, see Brad Penny's 2009 season.) Plus they've added Ian Kennedy to act as a fifth starter. He's odd in that he's a little older, but still "young" in terms of major league experience (read: how much they have to pay him). I think he's a good fit to round out there rotation. They also gave up Schlereth, a hard-throwing lefty who was a first round pick, and that may come back to haunt them. But teams like the D'backs have to go for it when they have a chance and this may be their year.
Tigers: they had to cut payroll and no one was going to trade for the D-Train. So they rolled over two guys that aren't overpaid, but are certainly paid well. Granderson is a bit overrated because he's such a great guy and has great stats. But look at his platoon stats; he can't hit lefties. Arguably, he peeked in 2007. So the Tigers, who have to cut payroll, traded a high-paid player who was a bit overvalued in the market. Some think Austin Jackson is overrated as a prospect because he may not be good enough to stay in center and may not have enough power to hit in left or right. But I think he has a legitimate shot to someday (probably 2011) replace Granderson. (Full disclosure: the Blue Sox drafted Jackson in the 2007 minor league draft, so I'm not 100% unbiased.) Coke and Schlereth should help the bullpen in 2010, but aren't the keys to the trade. Getting Scherzer, with his great arm, huge upside, and years of team control was the key. (That and trimming payroll.)
Yankees: the Yankees are probably the big winner here. It's very likely that Jackson, Coke, and Kennedy were not in their long-term plans so they give up basically nothing. Both Hughes and Joba are more valuable to the Yanks than Kennedy, so he's a good trade chip. Coke can be replaced (and likely would have been after his late season struggles) and the Yanks don't have a good history of allowing prospects to play everyday (at least not since Jeter, et al.) Now, they don't have to sign Godzilla and Damon (although they may still sign Damon), moving Melky to left, playing Swisher in right, and using Gardner as a fourth outfielder. Further, as Joe Sheehan pointed out, Granderson is more valuable as a Yankee. As a bit part (and at an affordable salary) he's great for the Yankees. And the Yanks can bench him against tough lefties. In Detroit, he had to carry the team. He's just not equipped for that. So the Yanks fill a big hole and add flexibility to their roster without giving up anything but a good prospect and a couple of organizational guys that probably wouldn't contribute to their big league club.
The winter meetings start today in Indianapolis. I don't look for the Reds to be very active but could be wrong. Here is what two experts at Baseball Prospectus have said about the Reds in their team-by-team notes in front of the meetings:
It’s not clear whether they’re looking to trade a starter because they want to rebuild or they just don’t want to pay for both Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang. The Reds are another team that has put resources into strange places, such as offense-killing leadoff hitters, closers, and aging, injury-prone third basemen. It should be easier to get excited about a team that starts with a league-average rotation, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips. The ideal Reds week would include trades of Francisco Cordero and Arroyo, not for financial reasons but to add a major-league shortstop and center fielder. With that unlikely, not enough money for an all-in play and no plan for a rebuild, Walt Jocketty will at least lose some weight working the treadmill.
More than anything, they wish to drop a large salary and are making right-hander Aaron Harang and closer Francisco Cordero available. The Reds have no glaring needs, but would be interested in dealing for a shortstop or left fielder if the price is right.
So don't be surprised to see the Reds move Cordero, Harang, or Arroyo.
I'm on record saying I think the Reds should stand pat (although I did tout Coco Crisp as a free agent signee) and see where they are on July 1st with what they've got. Then, if they're not in the hunt, trade some vets. The Reds have such a small amount of money committed after this year, that rebuilding starting in 2011 would be relatively easy, especially with some trade-deadline trades of vets for prospects in 2010.
But if the Reds traded Cordero I would not be disappointed, especially if they used that money on a bat, like Crisp, or a young, left handed starter like Jonathon Sanchez of the Giants (who is reported to be on the block). They could certainly use the payroll flexibility, and although Cordero had a great year, so did Massett, who would take over closer duties. I think it would be a lot easier to replace Massett in the set up role than to find a center fielder that can bat lead-off.
Today at lunch I was discussing my post on The Ellen Parsons Project. After lunch I saw this on the internet. Keep in mind while reading that we watched seasons 1-7 of the Gilmore Girls this summer in about 2 months. That's over 150 episodes.
On a recent Facebook status update I said all I wanted for Christmas was season 8 of The Gilmore Girls. Although more than what I asked for last year (thanks Amy) it's still not my complete list. So without further ado, here's this year's list, by category:
Things that don't exist
* Season 8 of The Gilmore Girls;
* Nice sunglasses that fit my head;
* East Dillon Lions t-shirt; and
* King size bed skirt with only a 12" drop.
Things (both) people shopping for me have no control over
* The four missing songs from Elton John's 1976 double album Blue Moves which were left off the cd but are now available on i-tunes, Cage the Songbird, Shoulder Holster, The Wide-Eyed and Laughing, and Where's the Shoorah?;
* King size bed skirt with a 12" drop (my Mother-in-law is working on making this one);
* Some sort of Bengals jacket that's good for layering, is very simple, and is XL;
MLB.com is hiring a stats stringer in Cincinnati. Stats stringers are responsible for digitally scoring MLB games. The stats are used in a variety of ways by MLB.com and other entities.
* Arrive at the ballpark one hour prior to the scheduled start time; * Double-check and verify all pre-game information: rosters, umpires, weather conditions, etc.; * During the game, enter the results of every pitch and game event (plays, substitutions, etc.) using proprietary software and coding language; * Work closely with game-night support staff (via AOL Instant Messenger) to ensure proper scoring of all game events and accuracy of data; * After the game, enter all post-game information: winning and losing pitcher, saves, holds, time, and attendance; and * Validate all stats in software box score against the official box score provided by the Official Scorer and print out a final box score and game text for the club PR staff.
* Previous experience (including pressbox exposure) with a professional or college sports team, preferably baseball; * Exceptional (and demonstrable) knowledge of baseball and how to score a baseball game; * Strong computer proficiency (Windows OS and Windows-based software) and the ability to quickly learn and operate new software; * Regular availability to attend games in-person as required by the schedule: weekdays, nights, and weekends; * A “team player” with a great attitude, including but not limited to a willingness to make and learn from mistakes and the ability to work closely and cooperatively (and take direction from) game-night staff; * Professionalism: it’s a fun job and pays to watch baseball, but it’s also an important job and people must take the responsibility seriously.
New stringers undergo an 8-10 week correspondence training program, and co-score several practice games in the ballpark with a returning stringer, before scoring any games solo in the ballpark.
If interested, e-mail a cover letter with your resume and qualifications to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you know Reds Fest is this weekend, and to ensure the place would be buzzing (in addition to inviting newly balloted hall of fame candidate Barry Larkin) the Reds signed Jon Adkins to a minor league deal. Adkins pitched 2009 in Korea.
It was one year ago today that I started this blog. The impetus was the trade of Coco Crisp to the Royals by the Red Sox (no relation). I had picked up Coco late in the 2007 season on my Blue Sox keeper fantasy league team, hoping that he would find a regular job in 2008 and be my complimentary steals guy (with Kinsler and Sizemore) at a very cheap price. The trade (early in the hot stove league) really got me ramped up for the season, and I needed an outlet (other than telling my wife about it) to talk about the upcoming season in real and fantasy baseball.
Since then, I've had almost 4,000 hits on the blog (and about 12 ad clicks). I can't say for sure on the numbers because I didn't start tracking hits right away. Needless to say, I'm very thankful to my loyal (and occassional) readers. Without the positive reinforcement, I don't think I would have lasted this long.
I guess I would argue that my season on the blog went better than Coco's, as he tore his labrum and ended up missing most of the season after surgery. He's now a free agent and expected to be ready to go for spring training.
I know the Reds have decided to lay-low in the free agent market, but I recommend they go after Coco as a free agent. Their biggest holes (now that they've signed Hernandez to catch) are left field and shortstop. But this assumes that Drew Stubbs will play center field and lead-off. (At least I hope Taveras is not the guy they intend to rely on again this year.) Jockety and Baker have shown a desire to have a lead-off hitter centerfielder, who is a veteran. But both C. Patterson and Taveras failed miserably (at least that's the fans' assessment; I'm not sure Dusty noticed). It will cost a little money (not a lot) but I think the Reds should offer Gomesy arbitration and sign Crisp. This would take some pressure off of Stubbs, who could play left or center (with Crisp in the other spot -- although Crisp loses a lot of his value if he's playing in a corner instead of centerfield) with Gomes as a great fall-back if Stubbs struggles. With Crisp and Stubbs providing decent offense (hopefully) the Reds could utilize Janish at short for his defense and let him bat eighth (please, Dusty, if Janish does play, don't bat him second).
Here is what a couple of experts have said about Crisp in the free agent market:
Coco Crisp (Royals) - Crisp got off to an excellent start as Kansas City's leadoff hitter and center fielder before his shoulder started bothering him. His play quickly fell off, and he ended up undergoing season-ending surgery for a torn labrum in June. Crisp should be ready to play next season, and he could turn out to be a bargain. He's one of the few legitimate leadoff options available, and he'll probably be an above average defender for a couple of more years anyway. Prediction: Padres - one year, $4 million. [Matthew Pouliot of Circling the Bases.]
Coco Crisp: Look past the .228 batting average, because Crisp was playing out of his mind when he tore his right labrum, ending his season in June, with more walks than strikeouts, 13-for-15 on the bases, and 16 extra-base hits. The condition of his shoulder, on which he underwent significant surgery, has to drive any decision on him. However Crisp is one of the top buy-low guys in this market and a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year in '10. [Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus.]
In fact, Joe Sheehan listed his free agents by most likely to be a good value, and listed Coco Crisp as his top free agent outfielder, ahead of Bay, Matsui, Cameron, Holliday, and Damon.
Defensively, how does this sound: Bruce, Crisp, and Stubbs in the outfield, Votto, BP, Janish, and Rolen on the infield, and Hernandez behind the plate. I'm not quite ready for my 25-man roster predictions or my position-by-position hot stove reports, so I'll wait on laying out line-ups, etc. but that's a pretty solid defensive squad that only adds about $5 mil. to the payroll.
As you know, I went to Greenville this weekend to see the Comets take on Tolono Unity in the Illinois class 3A state semi-finals. The Comets came out on the short end of a 58-53 game which was the best game I've ever seen at the high school level. The level of play on offense was unbelievable, with numerous highlight reel catches and some terrific play from both quarterbacks. Needless to say, the defenses did not have a great day.
Unity took the opening kick-off and marched down the field and scored. They're one of these teams that goes for 2 after every touchdown, so the game was 8-0 before everyone got settled in. The Comets answered with a longer drive, but missed the 2-point try and it was 8-6. The Comets could not stop the Rockets' offense and it was 28-14 with a few minutes left in the half when the Comets got the ball. They drove down but failed to score with time running out. But a defensive holding gave them a chance for a field goal and it was 28-17 at half. Still a game.
Opening the second half, the Comets went three and out, and the wheels fell off. The punt was blocked and run back inside the 10. The Rockets quickly scored. On the next possession, the Comets threw a pick-6 (or in this case 8) and the route was on, 44-17. At that point it looked hopeless. But much to the credit of the Comets and the coaching staff, they never gave up. A long drive for a touchdown was followed by and on-side kick (in the 3rd quarter) that was recovered. The Comets scored again and we had a ball game. Another on-side kick was unsuccessful. I guess the coaches figured the only way to win was to not let Unity have the ball. Unity scored again. In fact, Unity scored a touchdown on its first 8 possessions.
But the Comets answered back (all of a sudden Unity couldn't stop the Comets, either). This time a pooch kick was not successful but Unity fumbled and the Comets recovered and scored. Finally, down twelve, the Comets defense forced Unity to punt. But the punt was downed on the 1 or 2 yard line, and the Comets had to go the length of the field. Which they promptly did in just over 2 minutes. Down five, they tried another pooch kick that Unity recovered. Surprisingly (to me anyway) Unity played it conservatively and went three and out. Here was our chance. The Comets would get the ball back, albeit deep in their own territory with just over a minute to go and down less than a touchdown. Only the clock was the enemy as Unity had not been able to stop the Comet attack in several drives.
Alas, a Comet ran into the punter, only the second penalty all day by the Comets, and Unity was able to run out the clock with a fresh set of downs.
This was an unbelievable game. Both teams played their hearts out and nobody gave up, even when it looked hopeless. I loved that the coach tried everything he could to win, even if he risked being blown out. He showed real faith in his kids and they delivered for him. I would love to have seen if the Comets could have pulled it out. It was disappointing to see them work the entire game for just one stop and one chance to take the lead and just as they were about to get that chance have it taken away. I was proud of the old school.
Normally, I leave the UK football stuff to the good folks over at UK Football Fan, and I'm sure there will be lots of great stuff there over the next couple of weeks. But I did want to make a couple of comments about the big win over Georgia on Saturday. (And not just because UK was my only team that won Saturday -- more on that later.)
We're all big ACC fans this week as we look for Clemson and Ga. Tech to take care of business in games in which they will be favored against South Carolina and Georgia, respectively. Even if the Cats lose to UT, losses by Georgia and USC this week may vault UK to the Peach Bowl. At a minimum, those losses should keep UK out of the Papa Johns and Independence Bowls.
But if Georgia and USC win this week, I'm not sure the Georgia win did much to help UK, other than set the table for a win over Tennesse drastically improving UK's bowl position. A loss to UT, coupled with wins by Arkansas and Auburn next week in conference could keep us in last place among the SEC bowl eligible teams. But a win over UT, even if those other teams win, puts us at 4-4 and 8-4, and makes UK the best non-BCS team from the East. That should be enough for the Outback Bowl, which favors teams from the East. At a minimum, we're looking at the Peach Bowl under that scenario.
Anybody have a good hotel recommendation for Atlanta?
My alma mater, Greenville High School, in Greenville, Illinois, is in the semi finals of the Illinois 3A state football tournament. A friend of mine from Indy (and follower of this blog, Marti Reeser ('84)) recommended we go to the game. Greenville is hosting, so we will head over there tomorrow, stay the night, and come home Sunday. My parents and Marti's Mom live there; however Marti's Mom will be out of town. As will my brother's family (they'll be in Memphis for my niece's soccer team's tournament). But my sister's family (St. Louis) and my brother's older daughter (also Rachel Zahniser -- a sophomore at Greenville College) will be joining us for Mario's pizza after the game. (I may get to meet her purported boyfriend.)
The Comets play Unity High School from Tolono, Illinois, a small school in Champaign County. I don't know much about them other than they have a 12-0 record, as does Greenville and the other two remaining schools.
Greenville had no history in the state tournament until my senior year when we also made the semi finals, having gone 7-2 during the regular year and winning our conference. We beat Triad 9-7 in the first round on a last second field goal by Tim Ridings, a senior who hadn't played football before that year. (Not Tim Riggins.) The winning drive was set up by a one-handed, diving interception by our outside linebacker on third and ten with time running out -- why they passed on third down in that situation is a mystery. I guess their coach (I think his name was Belichick) thought they could ice the game with a first down.
We hosted the second round (quarter final -- they've added a round since then) against Harrisburg, a school I had never heard of. They brought bus loads of fans to the game and may have had more in attendance than we did. Harrisburg scored right away, but botched the PAT. With the quick score, I was worried. But when Harrisburg totally bit on our off-tackle option play, a play that transformed our team and our season, I knew we would win. We did, 36-6. The first time we ran it, Harrisburg gang-tackled our fullback, who didn't have the ball, and our halfback, who did, ran 60-some yards untouched for the score. The route was on.
In our third game of that season (this post is like a Tarantino film) we played Alton Marquette, a large Catholic school in our area that "recruited." They were, by reputation, the best team on our schedule. We had a very balanced offense, having already badly beaten Highland and Staunton with a great mixture of runs and passes, led by our senior quarterback, Jeff Sandifer. (Jeff would go on to star in baseball for Greenville College, throwing a no-hitter as a freshman.) We took the lead on our first drive, and after a three-and-out by Marquette, were driving for another score. That's when the season changed. Sandifer's knee gave out for no apparent reason, and he missed the rest of the year. We had as our back-up an untested junior with no skill other than the ability to lead a lost team where it was destined to go. But our destiny wasn't clear right away. We ended up losing to Marquette 17-7, to go to 2-1 entering conference play.
Our next game was homecoming and the opening of the conference season. We played Shelbyville, coached by our coach's brother. In other words, a big game. In the first half we picked up where we left off at Marquette; we stunk. But in the second half, we clicked, and came back to take the lead at the end of the game. Unfortunately, the game wasn't quite over and we got burned on a hail Mary to lose 18-16. A crushing blow. We were now 2-2, and 0-1 in conference. I'll never forget coach O'Boyle's only words after the game, "Have a nice homecoming."
We didn't lose again that season until the semi-finals. We ran off four straight conference wins and beat Nashville easily to end the regular season. We actually tied with Hillsboro for the conference championship at 4-1, but won the tiebreaker because we beat them head-to-head, 36-6. (We had tied them the year before, also at 4-1, but lost the tiebreaker having lost to them. Unfortunately, that year we finished 4-5 having lost all of our non-conference games.) We dominated Hillsboro in every imaginable way. Without a doubt our most satisfying win. Our halfback had 175 yards and three touchdowns . . . in the first half. "Down by the River" was awfully sweet that night.
So it was on to the playoffs, a place no Greenville team had been. Alas, we ran up against Alton Marquette again in the semi-finals and couldn't pull it out, losing 17-0. (They went on to get destroyed by Kankakee McNamara in the final.)
After that, Greenville made a couple trips to the playoffs. But Greenville has been in the playoffs every year since 2002, led by coach Aaron Duff. Last year, Todd Hutchinson (also a GC baseball alum) took over as head coach and went 11-1. So, career, he's 23-1. Greenville has never made the championship game, but maybe this is the year. I hear they have a new field and stadium, so I'm really looking forward to the trip. If they win, according to my brother, they will be a decided underdog in the final, which will be played next Friday in Champaign. I'll update you on the game later this weekend. For more immediate updates, you can check my facebook page. (I know you're all on pins and needles.)
Survivor was awesome last night. (Spoiler alert for you DVR'ers.) It still amazes me that the show manages to stay fresh (although not necessarily the challenges) after all of these seasons of the same thing over and over again. This season, that freshness is thanks to Russell who has played a great game. (Last season, it was Coach who provided all of the entertainment. Or was that two seasons ago?) If Russell hadn't early on made such idiotic comments to the camera about how stupid the other players were, he could have been one of the all-time favorite survivors. Now, people are sort of reluctantly rooting for him because he's played so well and been the underdog, but I doubt anyone really likes him.
With an 8-4 advantage going into the merge, Galu should have had it made in the shade. Instead, they're populating the jury at the rate of one per episode. Russell tried for a relationship with Laura, but she scorned him. So he set up shop with Shambo and got rid of Laura last night. He played it perfectly. Instead of trying to control Shambo, he let her finally let it out that she's with Foa Foa. He then orchestrated the tie vote with the switcheroo after the tie. This forced his team to stay loyal (any one of them could have flipped and voted Natalie to guarantee they wouldn't go home on the stone grab) but also played on the growing paranoia in Galu. John the engineer bit, (avoiding the one in eight chance that he would draw the wrong stone) and flipped on Laura. This is interesting if you wait to the end to hear John.
With Shambo firmly in camp with Russell and the other Foa Foas, it's now five to four. Let's see if John tries to make Russell agree to vote out a Foa Foa as he semi-promised to do to get John to flip. I don't think it's going to happen; in fact, don't be surprised to see Russell target John for elimination based on the new 5-4 Foa Foa majority. No good deed goes unpunished.
Another great episode of glee last night. No Coach Sue, but that just underscores how well-rounded the show is. If you're not watching it, you need to be. It's the best new show on t.v. and becoming one of my favorites. (I know this sounds like heresy, but we only had time for one show last night and picked glee over FNL.)
My chief complaint about the show had been that the musical numbers were over produced. The more I watch, however, the less of an issue this has become because the numbers are really good, and they're actually making more of an effort to pick songs that go with the story. It's very much like a modern musical.
It was also nice to see Gregg Henry (aka Mitchum Huntzberger) back to crush another young girl's dream (see Rory Gilmore). You know when you see that guy pop up that he's going to be a bad guy. Kind of a poor man's James Caan.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned to a UC fan that it would be good for UC if Pitt beat Notre Dame, because that would help Pitt's computer ranking and UC's, if UC can beat Pitt. He disagreed, saying if ND lost to Pitt, Weis would get fired and then ND would hire Brian Kelly, which in the long run would be bad for UC. Hard to argue with that, but here is a post that might be encouraging.
The Reds declined the option for Ramon Hernandez for $8.5 mil. Instead, they re-signed him to a one-year deal, presumably saving themselves the buy out. They paid $3 mil. for this year, which seems okay, but more importantly indicates that the Reds may have at least as much payroll money as they had last year, and may not have to trade everyone over the minimum.
But, as previously discussed, the Reds have very few 2011 commitments. So the fact that Hernandez got a vesting option (if he plays 120 games, he gets a second year on his deal) for 2011 is disturbing and counter productive, but here is a different opinion. The money's not bad, but I really like the idea of a near clean slate for 2011. If the Reds aren't in it at this year's trade deadline, they can totally unload and rebuild with a lot of money available.
Rachel and I had quite a weekend. I left home at 5:00 a.m. on Friday for a court appearance in Hazard, Kentucky, that came with a courtroom evacuation and a "stupid" post-it note left on my car window. Apparently, I parked in front of a parking lot driveway without even noticing. Thank goodness I wasn't towed (but later I would get my chance). The long delay in court got me back home just in time to pack up and head to Nash Vegas for the weekend.
Rachel and I headed to Nashville to visit friends and see the Cats play Vandy and hopefully become bowl eligible. But the highlight of the weekend came on Friday night, and I'm not referring to getting the best possible parking spot (more on the car later). Heading to dinner, we ran into Taylor Swift. We were waiting for the elevator when our friend said simply, "congratulations." Taylor took over from there. She thanked us and when we mentioned her SNL appearance she complimented the writers and said she'd had the best week of her life. There are celebrity sightings, and then there was this one. An actual conversation with the hottest star on the planet that particular week. Pretty cool; and Taylor could not have been sweeter or nicer. (And she looked pretty good, too.) Rachel and I saw her in concert about two years ago, opening up for Brad Paisley. She's come a long way since then.
On Saturday, we had a great brunch with our friends and another couple and their five-year-old, who was headed to his first ever football game. He was dressed, literally, head to toe in UK gear. I won't bore you with the details of the game; for that, check out UKFootballFan. The Cats won and became bowl eligible. I'm actually thinking Birmingham wouldn't be too bad this year. It's new, and it's got a great date and time. Memphis wouldn't be too bad. If it's Shreveport, however, we're probably not going.
We got a great start on Sunday morning, and I was looking forward to getting home in time to see most of the Bengals/Steelers game. But that's when trouble struck. First, the add coolant light came on. When we did that, it all leaked out. We tried driving, but then the temperature light came on and we had to stop. Fortunately, we weren't too far from Nashville. BMW roadside assistance got us a tow truck and arranged for a rental car at the Nashville airport. Dorothy took the car to Bowling Green and our friend came and got us and our stuff and took us to the Nashville airport for the Chevy Cobalt. We made it home about 6:30, more than double the time it was supposed to take. At least we got to hear the Bengals beat the Steelers on the way home.
The car should be ready on Wednesday. Fortunately, I have a depo in Evansville on Wednesday, so I can take the Cobalt there, head to BG and get my car, and then head home. It will only add about 2 hours to my day, much better than driving to BG and back on my own.
Today, I learned that my alma mater, Greenville High School (12-0) is hosting the state semi-final playoff game next weekend. My friend Marti ('84) and I ('83) plan on attending. Lots of wins for my football teams, which is quite unusual.
After his trip to Arizona to watch the Arizona Fall League, Joe Sheehan, of Baseball Prospectus, had this to say about the Reds' first round pick from last June: "Mike Leake looked very polished up close [and] could come quickly."
That's good news because of a lot of people didn't like the pick because of lack of size and upside. Funny, no one is giving the Reds "credit" for shying away from lack of size in a starting pitcher in 2006 when the Reds took Drew Stubbs two spots ahead of Tim Lincecum.
Michah Owings lost a tie-breaker decision to Mike Fontenot (and one other player, Adam Jones) regarding Super Two status. All three had 2 years and 139 days of major league service time. By being designated a Super Two, Fontenot is arbitration eligible this year and for the next three years before free agency. Owings is not, and won't be arbitration eligible until next year.
Basically, that means the Reds will likely renew Owings' contract rather than non-tender him, the likely outcome were he arbitration eligible. Here is a more detailed explanation of Super Two status.
Did the national guy catch Jockety in a moment of candor? The report is awfully detailed to be wrong. And why not tell the story to John Fay? Too many fans read Fay? Here's what's the most disturbing: Jockety doesn't know what he's doing. He signed T-Virus last year for $6.25 mil. (over two years -- $4 mil. of which is owed this year) because Dusty needed a lead-off guy. What we got was a black hole in the lead-off spot, compounded by Dusty's failure to move T-Virus until it was too late (and really only because he got hurt). The Angels, by contrast, spent $5 mil. on Bobby Abreu, who had a near-MVP type year for them. He was an on-base machine, and positively influenced the OBP of the entire team (see Chone Figgins, regular season addition).
Add to that $4 mil. for Mike Lincoln ($2.5 mil. of which is due this year). But Massett, at just above the league minimum, did what Lincoln could not. So for 2010 we already owe $6.5 mil. to two guys that shouldn't see the field for us if we put out our best 25 guys on the roster for 2010. Jockety's complete failure in reading the market last year may cost us a chance to compete in 2010.
But did he learn his lesson? Apparently not. He's talking about trading guys like BP, Harang, and Arroyo because of their contracts (more on that later). But he wants to keep Cordero? If you were going to trade a guy, it would be Cordero. He's coming off a terific season, but he's got 2 more years on his contract. That's about $25 mil. to do what Massett (or someother guy like that) could do, get three guys out in a row toward the end of the game. On the other hand, finding a starter that will give you 200 + quality innings (Arroyo, and probably Harang) is terribly difficult.
Further, he just traded for Rolen, a guy who's going to make $11 mil. this year. (The Blue Jays apparently paid the rest of his '09 salary, and the Cards are paying his deferred bonus, but every indication is that the Reds are paying the full $11 mil. this year.)
BP is in a different category. For one, he could bring some solid players back in trade because he has real value. Two, he goes from making around $7 mil. this year to in excess of $11 mil. next year. But he is the cornerstone of the infield right now.
I hate to say this (as I prepare my check for my season ticket deposit due next week) but the Reds should probably fold the tent for 2010, and trade all four of those guys if they can, plus Rolen. But I'm going to make another suggestion. Go for it this year, but only to the extent that you put the best team on the field that you can with the guys you have and hope for the best. Don't sign any free agents (at least no multi-year deals) and don't trade anybody that could contribute this year. Hot stove fans love to stoke the flames and that would make for a boring off-season but bear with me a minute here.
The only 2011 comittments the Reds have are Cordero's $12.125 mil., BP's approximately $11.2 mil., and $2 mil. buy-outs for Harang and Arroyo on their club options. (And they do owe $1 mil. to Yonder Alonso on his major league contract.) That's it! (In 2012 they owe $1 mil. buy-outs to BP and Cordero on their club options, and $1.4 mil. to Alonso.)
So put the best team out there they can right now without trading any young, cheap players and see where we are at the trade deadline. If we're not contending in July, trade all of those top 5 guys for whatever you can get and start fresh. And with a new manager; Dusty's contract is done after this year. If you are in contention, stay the course, and let your free agents walk after 2010, getting draft picks as compensation. Sounds like a great plan to me.
Rachel and I went to see Steely Dan last night. They are in town for two shows, last night and tonight. Last night, they played the entire Aja album. Tonight, they do the same for The Royal Scam.
The show was terrific. Rachel and I agreed that, musically, it may have been our best show. (Still can't top U2 in 2000, though.) First, they brought the band out, sans Steely Dan, and played an instrumental number that showcased the different instruments, including a great horn section. That was followed by three backup singers, one of whom went over to a turntable in the corner and "started" a record. Then Donald Fagen and Walter Becker came out and they went right into Black Cow, and played the entire album without commentary (other than after Deacon Blues, when the backup singer flipped the record - a great touch).
I remember when Peg came out on the radio. It was the first Steely Dan song that I knew. It and Josie are great pop songs, but Steely Dan is more about jazz/rock than pop, so it was awhile before I took to the other stuff. So Aja was a great album for me to here. Tonight's The Royal Scam may be more like Steely Dan, but I really only know Kid Charlemagne from that album (which they did play as part of the second set). Deacon Blues is probably their best song and it sounded great.
The interesting thing about the first set is that the crowd pretty much stayed quiet and listened. It was more like a concert or show at the Aranoff than a rock concert. But after they finished the album they did a traditional set of songs from various points in their career, leading off with Time Out of Mind from Gaucho, and finishing with Kid Charlemagne. They also played favorites like Bodhitsattva, Babylon Sisters, Hey Nineteen, and Black Friday and a couple songs I didn't know.
They played Dirty Work from their first album. A great song, but one that was originally sung by another member of the band, so the backup singers took the lead and it was just so-so.
The next to last song seemed to be the crowd favorite, My Old School. This is a great tune and an underated classic. The crowd really got into it; for the first time it seemed like a rock concert. Finally, they played Reelin' in the Years as an encore.
I had always heard that Steely Dan was a studio group that never toured. But Donald Fagen was a heck of a showman, really getting into the show. But the music stole the show. The band was terrific and the music (and lyrics for the most part) were very clear. If you're a fan, you should go tonight.
A lot of folks are unhappy that the Yankees "bought" their championship with a very high payroll, in fact a payroll signficantly higher than any other team. Here are two links arguing a different perspective, here, and a follow-up.
I think the Bengals may have made their season with a big win yesterday over the Ravens. At 6-2, and with Oakland (away), Cleveland, KC, and Detroit still on the schedule, they are looking at a fairly easy route to ten wins. But throw in three tough road games against Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and the Jets, and ten might be it. Still, that should be enough to make the playoffs. Especially considering they are now 4-0 in the division.
A win next week at Pittsburgh would be humongous, but unexpected. Pittsburgh plays tonight at Denver, but will likely be the favorite regardless of what happens tonight. This morning, the Steelers were 7 point favorites. Expect that to go up a little if they win tonight. But lets hope they lose tonight. I had decided on the Falcons (over the Saints, my second choice) for the King-of-the-Hill pool I'm in, but failed to communicate that to the guy running the pool. So I'm stuck with the Monday night underdog, which tonight is Denver. Normally, having Denver at home on Monday night would not be such a bad fate, but they got drilled last week by the Ravens. Let's hope they take it tonight and I survive to next week. If not, it's my own fault. As Rachel said, "how hard is it to send in your pick?"
John Fay reports the Reds will decline the $8 mil plus option on Ramon Hernandez. But they would still like him back and are trying to negotiate a reduced contract. Failing that, they could offer him arbitration and secure a sandwich pick if he signs elsewhere (and is a type b free agent, as expected).
The Reds need Hernandez (or someone like him) to catch. Hanigan had a terrible year, knocking in only 11 runs in 251 plate appearances. He had one of those rare seasons where his on base percentage, which wasn't that bad (.361), was higher than his slugging percentage (.331). With three home runs, he knocked in only 8 teamates the entire year.
Hernandez showed some versatility, too, handling first base very well with Votto on the D/L.
I'm not quite ready for my position-by-position hot stove posts, but we're in the same boat we were last year with the catcher spot. Except this year, we know Hanigan is not the answer as our everyday catcher. Last year, we weren't sure.
I missed the first half of the game for my tennis match (we won 0-6, 6-2, 6-3) but was able to stay up for the final out. I always enjoy seeing a team celebrate after winning the world series. I long for the time when it's my team, which hasn't happened since I was a senior in high school when the Cardinals beat the Brewers in game seven of the 1982 world series. Surprisingly, I don't have a clear memory of where I was watching the game when it happened. Hopefully, the next time it happens to me I'll be in my seats at GABP. (That would require a lot of things to happen, not the least of which is the Reds winning in five games or less or the National League actually winning an all star game. I'm not sure which is less likely.)
Pettitte pitched a gem, although technically not a quality start because he didn't get out of the sixth. With less than 90 pitches and a lead, no question he would have stayed in there had it not been game six of the World Series. I didn't see Pedro pitch, but he didn't fair as well, thanks to series MVP Hideki Matsui, who knocked in six of the seven runs. Matsui tied the record for fewest at-bats for a position player MVP in a World Series. Kudos to whoever can comment with who he tied. I assume the series MVP award will not change how the Yanks negotiate with Matsui, who is now a free agent, during the off-season.
Speaking of the off-season, I inted to do a comprehensive season review and then continue the blog during the off-season, with some baseball and some other stuff. I hope you've enjoyed the series games recap and will stick with us at least until pitchers and catchers report in February.
Here is an interesting break down on Rich Hill by the folks at MLBTradeRumors.com. The Reds need a lefty starter; what about this guy? GABP isn't Petco or whatever they're calling the new king dome these days, but I would take a chance on this guy. This is the kind of move the Reds need to be making.
If A.J. had pitched in game five like he did in game two, we wouldn't have all of this praise for Cliff Lee. Lee's had a great postseason, but he game up five runs on Monday night. Still all the commentators are talking about him coming back in relief for 45-50 pitches (three innings?) on two days rest in game 7. Like the Phillies some how have hope because Lee, who couldn't start on three days rest, will win them the game on two days rest. Don't get me wrong, he's their best pitcher and I would find every possible way to get him in the game (if it's played, which it won't be). But I think it was a huge gamble not to start him on three days rest in game 4. He won game five, but more because A.J. was awful than because he somehow stymied the Yanks. He should have been tasked to go toe-to-toe with CC in games one, four, and seven.
Having said that (and being on record that the Yanks will win in six) I find this very curious: the Yanks were up 2-1 in the series, with home field advantage and probably the best line-up in the game, yet they decided that for every subsequent series game they were going to start a pitcher on three days rest. I don't know that I disagree, I just find that rembarkable. I think Girardi decided when the post season started he was going with three starters all the way. It would be tough to pitch Gaudin in game four when he hadn't pitched in forever, but that seemed like a good option. Give him a short leash and rely on the pen. (I can hear you know, "a bullpen game in game five when you're up 3-1 and can close out the championship?" Good point.) Then they would have brought A.J. back on full rest and at home for game six and still have CC for game seven. Maybe Girardi didn't want to cut Pettitte out of the rotation. Those guys are old buds. The Yankees, for all their money and all their payroll don't have a fourth starting pitcher. Remarkable! And there's your flaw with the postseason. It doesn't measure the value of a team(or lack there of for us Reds fans)the way the regular season does.
As far as game six goes tonight, we'll be partying like it's 1999, with Pedro v. Pettitte. What a great, classic match-up of two aging veterans. Anything could happen, but what I would love to see is a great pitchers duel between these two. What I'm predicting is that they both pitch at least into the sixth and both give up a couple runs. Don't be surprised by a 4-3 type score when the game is turned over to the bullpens. We'll watch the first six innings for the appreciation of the two veterans. Then we'll watch the rest of the game in case we see a train wreck out of either or both bullpens. When it's all said and done, the Yanks will be celebrating tonight.
Well, maybe we got exactly what we should have expected. CC on three days rest is not quite as good as on regular rest, but still good enough to win. Blanton was not an ace, but came up with a good start in the most important game of his life. Girardi has been telegraphing his lack of confidence in his bullpen and now we know why. Triple that for Manuel and his bullpen. While not technically a blown save, Lidge gave up the game in the 9th.
If things go as predicted, Lee wins tonight and the series heads back to New York for game 6. Will it take 9 innings from Lee to win the game? Look for AJ to be not quite as sharp as he was in game 2 because of short rest. But I expect he'll get the Yanks to the 7th. That's where the drama will kick in. Yanks in 6 looks pretty good right now.
The great thing about baseball is that anything can happen in any given game. If everything goes as expected tonight, the Yanks will go up 3-1. CC should beat Blanton, and 9 times out of 10 he will. But there's that one time that keeps it interesting. I think more so than most other professional sports.
I missed game 3 because we were at the UK homecoming football game. But as expected, as the teams got away from their aces, the offenses started to score. Pettitte gave what you'd expect, a solid effort. Hamels gave a start consistent with his season, a couple of great innings and then a bunch of runs. Charlie Manuel is taking a huge risk by running Blanton out there for game 4. Not that Blanton is that bad. His stats against the Yanks are bad, but mostly due to a couple of bad starts. Lately, he's been okay. But he's no Cliff Lee. If the Phillies did manage to win, they'd have Lee going tomorrow and would be in the driver seat. But that's a big if. I think it's a mistake not to run Lee out there three times, but Manuel didn't want to try him on three days rest. (If there is a game seven, expect Lee to be available out of the bullpen.)
My Yanks in 6 prediction is still looking good. Look to see CC win tonight, Lee win tomorrow night, and AJ try to close it out in Yankee Stadium in game 6.
Boy, neither team's manager likes his bullpen. Girardi looks like he's going to try and win the series with four pitchers, the three starters and Mo. And Manuel is pitching Blanton in game four because he didn't want to take Lee out in game one with a five run lead. That's one way to answer the who's-your-closer question. Sending Pedro out for the sixth was questionable but the seventh, too? Wow.
The big question tonight is which Cole Hamels shows up: the '08 postseason pitcher or the '09? I think we all know what the Yanks will get from Pettitte. I think the Yanks will get to Hamels and the Philly pen and take back home-field advantage in the series.
The Colonial and Glenn Sample leagues had their joint awards banquet last night at the Black Finn. I came in third, so did not receive a trophy. All told, five trophies were handed out. There was a tie in the Colonial League and a three-owner team (father and twin sons) won the the Sample League.
The guest speaker was Chris Eckes, Curator for the the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Mr. Eckes gave a great talk on the history of the Hall of Fame and the fairly new history of the building and museum which are part of GABP. He spoke at length about the process for being elected, the requirements, and even the periods of time when there were no elections. Apparently, at one time Hall of Fame night was one of the season's biggest promotional nights.
We also heard some great stories about Pete Rose and Marge Shott. Pete apparently sold three different jersies as the jersey he was wearing when he broke Ty Cobb's record. Interestingly, they have a photo of Pete in the dugout that night with two extra uniform shirts draped over a railing in the dugout. While he could certainly have only worn one for the record breaking hit, he likely wore all three during the game. Not an uncommon practice, according to Mr. Eckes.
One problem they have is that the teams didn't save much. Accept for Marge, who apparently saved everything. For example, thanks to Marge the museum has a jersey for all but three of the 1990 Reds for next year's display honoring the wire-to-wire team. Speculation from the group that perhaps Marge intended to recycle the jersies at some point was not shot down, although she never actually did that.
My Series prediction isn't wrong (yet) but one of my main criteria certainly was. I predicted trouble for Cliff Lee facing the Yankees and I couldn't have been more wrong. He had a great night last night, striking out ten and walking none over a complete game that would have been a shutout but for an unearned run. The dynamics of this series have taken a 180 degree turn thanks to Lee. Everyone thought the Yanks would win and now folks are scrambling to figure out how they can, knowing that the Phils will have Lee at least one more game and maybe two.
Tonight's match-up should be a doozy, given the possible upside (with huge corresponding risk) of the Phils sending Pedro to the mound and the unpredictability of A.J. Burnett. One loyal reader was kind enough to point out in the comments section of the blog that in addition to Indians and L.A. fans, Mets fans are hating this match-up, too. Never will that be more the case than tonight, as they have to watch Pedro pitching for the rival Phils against the hated Yanks. I look for Pedro to have a decent game and for A.J. to give up a few runs, but this one will be won by the Yanks against the Phils bullpen later in the game.
I'm anxiously awaiting the premiere of season four of Friday Night Lights tomorrow night on DirecTv 101. As you'll recall, Coach Taylor was fired by the Dillon Panthers and took the head coaching job for the cross-town Lions. I'm eager to see who principal Tammy will route for (and how many main characters will be in their sixth year of high school).
I'll get the prediction out of the way first: Yankees in 6. They've been the best team all year and don't appear to have a discernible weakness. Newcomers CC, AJ, and Tex have solidified the pitching, defense, and line-up. And A-Rod is on fire. And don't forget the Captain, Mo, and Pettitte. Those guys can taste victory again. I just don't see that group being denied the championship this year.
But the Phillies are the team to try. What a great match-up: the best team in baseball this year vs. the defending WS champs. And the Phillies missed the best N.L. record by only one game. The Dodgers (read: Torre) might have been a better story, but the Phils will make for better baseball.
Both teams have good pitching, but play in hitters' parks. I see the series as pretty high-scoring. The Phillies do have Cliff Lee, who has been brilliant since coming over from the Tribe, but he's been brilliant against the N.L. The Yanks are not the N.L. and they've hit against Lee a lot, unlike, say, the Dodgers. Lee is the Phillies best hope, and he's overrated because of what I just said. Thus, Yanks in 6.
I guess the only groups not happy with this match-up are L.A. fans (to the extent that's not an oxymoron) and Indians fans. How painful must it be for Tribe fans to see a series open with CC v. Lee in game one (and perhaps game four, and game 7 -- which won't happen because the Yanks will win in 6)? The Indians were one game away from the Series in '07 and now have resorted to hiring a new manager who was just fired by, arguably, the worst team in baseball. It's not that bad here in Redsland.
Stay tuned for an upcoming rant on instant replay. You may be surprised by my position on the issue.
Last week, I took it personally when the Bengals were upset in our inaugural game with our new seats. But this week I got to say something for the first time ever at a football game that you Elder grads probably say a couple of times a year: "We're up 6 touchdowns." What a performance by the Bengals as they steam-rolled the Bears defense, which was the subject of a funny facebook "Amber Alert" parody last night. (Last seen exiting the team bus at PBS...)
But this performance begs the question: where were these guys last week? The Bengals couldn't move the ball at all against Houston. I have to believe the difference is the Bengals from week to week. No way Houston is that much better than da bears.
So what to think? I don't know. My Dad had a sermon he used to give every once in a while about the fact that you can't be on the wrong path; there's only one path. You can, however, be going the wrong way. The Bengals seem to be running z sprints up and down the path rather than running the distance race in the correct direction that will get them to the playoffs.
We don't see another game until Thanksgiving weekend, so hopefully the World Series can keep us occupied for a while. More on that to follow.
Rachel and I picked this year to get Bengals seats, but we still haven't been to a regular season game. That ends tomorrow as we make our debut in our new seats. Hopefully, the recent run for the Bengals hasn't been tied to our absence. I also hope the excitement at the very end of every game the Bengals have played wanes some. I look for the Bengals to win by two touchdowns.
A big factor in our decision to jump on the bandwagon this year was our tailgate group. Ten of us split one pass, meaning we each host one tailgate all year, and attend as many as we'd like. Tomorrow is our turn to host and we're having Montgomery Inn barbecue. If you're going to the game, stop by. We'll be in Lot 1 at 11:00 a.m. Call my cell (859-816-9121) and I'll help you find us.
I'm heading to Columbia, South Carolina, tomorrow for my first ever away SEC game. Look for some posts on the pageantry if not the details of the game. For any of the technical stuff about the game, check out UK Football Fan blog which can be linked from this page.
In the league that I paid the least attention to I had my best finish, third in the Colonial Leauge. I probably could have challenged for the lead (two teams tied for first) had my overall first pick, Jose Reyes, not missed almost the entire year. I did poorly in stolen bases and runs scored and he certainly would have helped. My strategy was to draft quality starting pitching and two good closers (Bell and Cordero). I won the league in saves (I picked up Leo Nunez, too) and was able to trade some starters for Andre Ethier and Troy Tulowitzki. Both had great offensive second-halves, and helped me gain valuable hitting points.
Saturday night I posted on my facebook page that I didn't see any reasonably likely scenario that would put me in the money. I was right; Ryan Raburn hitting two home runs on Sunday and the Twins forcing a playoff were not reasonably likely. On Sunday, Alex Gordon hit a home run that was about to put me in a tie for third, one home run away from a tie for second, when Jed Lowrie (at almost the same minute) did something else unlikely; he hit his first career grand slam. That kept me out of third, but I had a second wind, the Tuesday night playoff. I added Laird, Santiago, and Thames (dropping Hairston, Wigginton, and I-Rod) on Monday night. All I needed was two home runs and I'd skip from 5th to tied for 2nd. Alas, it was not to be. My additions went 1-10, and none of my guys homered. But it was a great season. I'm looking forward to some time off and then I'll be following the prospects in the AFL. And it will be nice to watch the playoffs without worrying about my fantasy teams.
By the way, Brandon Inge's rbi in the 9th moved the Smokin' Guns into a tie for 3rd with the Water Buffaloes.
Here is a comment from Kevin Goldstein, prospect guru at Baseball Prospectus:
Yonder Alonso, 1B, Reds (Seventh overall) Like the Beckham comment, this isn't necessarily a bad pick, as Alonso had a solid but unspectacular full-season debut, this is more about what could have been: in the hours leading up to the draft, the Reds were torn between Alonso and University of Georgia shortstop Gordon Beckham. Alonso looks like he might be a power/on-base first baseman with problems hitting against left-handers, while Beckham looks like a future star with a chance to be a "face of the franchise"-type of player. So there are no big complaints about what they have, as long as you don't think about what could have been.
Beckham had a great year in the majors with the White Sox. In the meantime, Votto established himself as The Reds' best player and the Reds traded for Scott Rolen and his $11 million contract for next year. Those two facts, coupled with the fact that we don't have a decent shortstop prospect (we have some decent prospects who play short, but all will have to play elsewhere in the bigs) make the draft of Alonso even worse. Maybe the Reds were still thinking they'd move to Phillips to short. And I typically advocate drafting the best available player and sort it out later. But this is one the Reds will regret. Maybe they should start shopping Alonso now.
As the regular readers of this blog know, I used to be a Cardinal fan. I went to jr. high, high school, and college near St. Louis and followed the Cards through a lot of post-season success. In 1990, however, I moved to Kentucky where two things happened, both in October: I rooted for the Reds for the first time and began hating Tony LaRussa. Ultimately, I moved here and became only a Reds fan.
But of course, I still have strong Cardinal roots and have been pulling for them (hey, it's better than the Cubs) once it was clear they were in the playoffs. Not any more. LaRussa, et al. are such cry-babies. Smoltz and Duncan accused Arroyo of using pine tar to grip the ball Wednesday night. What a croc! Don't they know that if Arroyo were going to cheat he would tell USA Today about it in a cover story? LaRussa is a turd (consecutive posts!) and I can't root for him to succeed. I don't have any problem believing that there was a problem with the balls, Smoltz hadn't walked 5 batters in a game since 1995, but don't blame Arroyo.
I was very impressed last night with Jaison. During a heated, emotional tribal counsel he articulated an argument that was well thought out and well stated regarding why he was offended by Ben. Based on that performance (setting aside the content of the argument -- I'm sure we all have our own interpretation) he will be very dangerous in a final tribal counsel setting. The way he handled himself was great.
At the same time, and I hate to admit it, Bad Russell played the game very well last night. He was determined to oust Ashley, and make himself 3 for 3 on ousting who he wanted, but had the good sense to recongnize how adamant Jaison was. By sticking with Jaison, he cements that relationship and did not have to reveal his true colors. Boy, I look forward to that day. I guess we'll see if Bad Russell's fear of an all girl alliance was justified.
Speaking of Bad Russell, there is actually another tribe playing this game. I saw some of them last night and wondered who they were. Of course, we all know Good Russell; he was elected tribe leader and looks like a better looking Lennox Lewis or a worse looking Milli Vanilli (please tell me you saw Bruno). He blew it last night. He says he picked comfort over function because the girls wanted comfort. Well, this made the guys mad. But then he made it worse, by telling the girls he was pandering to them. So not only are the guys mad, the girls think he's a turd. Sure, they're comfortable, but Good Russell's stock fell some with his tribe last night. Of course, if they never lose, it won't matter.
Shambo was a little over-the-top last night when visiting the other tribe. She played that a little strong leaving her with only one option: flip at the merge and then be the first one voted out when her "new" tribe survives. Not a great spot to be in.
Dave update: Unlike last week, Yasmin didn't do anything incredibly stupid last night (except give the camera goofy looks) so I'm still in for at least another week.
The best new show on T.V. this year is glee. (I haven't watched Modern Family yet, which I hear is hilarious.) It's about, of all things, a high school glee club. This is the kind of thing you never would have seen 10 years ago, but with High School Musical and Nick Lachey's choir show all of a sudden this kind of thing is cool. The musical numbers are top-notch, and the show is hilarious. What's cool about it is the adults are the crazy ones and the kids are pretty normal. A lot (all?) of the characters are cliches, but they're either so over the top it's funny, or they don't always act in completely predictable ways. It works.
The show is also fun for me personally, because I was in swing choir in high school (and also on the football team). I so wish that I had a video of our swing choir so that I could compare it to the show. We weren't bad singers, but our choreography was non-existant (read: terrible) and our songs were crappy stuff like the Carpenters. Plus, we typically performed at nursing homes, not at Regionals. I went to a pretty small high school so you could do stuff like play all the sports, be in band and chorus, and do swing choir and the musicals. (I did all of that except band.) Fun stuff, which I'm reliving while watching glee.
Today notwithstanding, the Reds are finishing up strong. Right before the all star break the Reds were in the hunt, hanging around .500 in a "weak" division. Then two things happened. The starting pitching went south and the Cards took off. That made the second third of the season irrelevant for the Reds. But the starters have pitched really well of late, especially Arroyo and Bailey. Arroyo in particular finished very strong. That just proves that starting pitching is everything in this game. Sure the Reds struggle at times to score, but give them a nice 7 inning, two run start, and they have a great chance to win.
After today's blow-out they're 1 and 1/2 out of third. They have a real shot to finish in the top half of the division and should feel decent going into next year. They have three more against the Pirates, against whom they have looked good this year.
I will be there Saturday and Sunday, so stop by and say, "hey" if you're at the game. I'm sure there will be plenty of empties in my section.
This time next week it will all be over. It would be hard to estimate the amount of time and effort put into the bgal for me this year, but I spent a lot of time even before the season started looking at rumors, projections, and stats, mulling over each one of my keepers and even making a couple of trades. Who knows how many hours I spent during the season looking at the live scoring page, MLB mix (8 games at once on DirecTv) or just plain watching games. And that doesn't even count following the Reds.
But here's what all of that time and effort boils down to: I'm in fourth place, just out of the money. If the season ended today, I'd be in the worst spot, out of the money and picking 7th in next year's minor league draft. I went pretty much all-in this year, making several win-now trades. I did this because I have so many high salary guys who can't be kept next year for budgetary reasons.
The good news is that I'm only one point out of third. I just picked up points in average and era that I might be able to keep. The average point looks stronger than the era point right now. The era point is critical because the guy right ahead of me (in third) is right behind me in era (4.19 to 4.20). I just read that Beckett was scratched for tonight. So that will hurt.
So where could I gain ground? Assuming I keep my era and average points, my most likely point gain is in saves. I'm in third, only one point behind second. The second place team has Andrew Bailey (thanks to me) and Fernando Rodney. I have Brian Fuentes, Jason Frasor, and Matt Thornton, who I just picked-up last week (he's already gotten me two saves). That one point puts me in a tie for third. But the guy in third overall just lost Jenks and only has Downs as a reliever. He's sixth in saves, only two ahead of seventh. So if he drops, and I add one, I'm in third. The guy in seventh only has Kerry Wood.
I'm six points out of second in wins, so a move there seems unlikely. I'm also seven points ahead of fourth, so my spot there is secure. My strikouts spot is also secure.
I'm six points out in home runs and nine points out in rbi's. A huge run this week would give me a chance, but it seems unlikely. In steals, I can't go up (down ten) but could go down (up 2). Needless to say, a non-event, like Lowell stealing second the other day for only his second steal of the year, has huge implications for my fantasy standing.
Pie in the sky: I hold on to my steals, average, and era points, pick up a point in saves, and my offense goes crazy in hr's and rbi's, giving me two more points. That would likely put me in second place, with 57 points. I don't see any combo where I could still win.
. . . first, make sure I pick you in the pool, because then you're doomed. But it also helps to get invited to the other tribe and immediately go off on everybody. Of course, Yasmin couldn't go out tonight because she was on the winning tribe; but she took a great opportunity (a chance to bond with the other tribe) and ruined it. We'll see if it hurts her (me) down the road.
You know you're in for a real treat when the first challenge comes very early and it's immunity and reward. I hate any challenge where tribe members have to have any kind of physical contact with the other tribe. Hit 'em with a giant Q-tip, but don't have them tackle, etc.
The old dude went out early (you never want to see Survivor: Medical, but you don't want to see a dead Survivor.) But the yellow tribe still had to vote some one out. The cop fought for her life, but in the end, they kept Ben (who seems crazy) because he's "stronger."
I loved the Cops theme song from the cop. (Then Ben went all good cop/bad cop.) Good episode. I'm still in for now, but don't expect it will last. Yasmin's mouth will do her in.
If you read this blog, you know I'm a fantasy baseball guy, but I don't do fantasy football. Here's a short story to explain why. For the last couple of years, I've been in a football pool that is kind of like a king of the hill pool. Every week, I have to pick one winner. I can pick any team I want and can pick any team as many times as I want throughout the year. The only rule: you're team has to win. They win, you move on; they lose, you're out. Last person standing wins. Some years, the pool is over in week 15. Other years, we need the playoffs and tiebreakers. One year (I think it was last year) I went out in the first week.
Oh yeah, there is a second rule: you have to actually pick a team, which I forgot to do in week one. Fortunately, a friend had my back so I'm still in. (Ah, the magic that is Tom Brady.) This week, I've got the Washington Redskins. The one rule that I've implemented is don't pick for or against the Bungles.
Anyway, if you can't remember to pick one team, how can you manage a fantasy team.
Survivor is back . . . with a vengeance. We took a break from GG to see the premiere and boy was it worth it. (We still managed to squeez in 3 episodes. We have the Reds game tonight but may pull an all-nighter to finish up. We've only got 4 episodes left. Come on, Luke!)
SPOILER ALERT! If you TiVo'd Survivor and haven't watched yet, stop reading.
Back to the game. Russell, not the "better looking Lennox Lewis" (or the "worse looking Milli Vanilli" -- thanks Dalton), the Oil Co. owner guy, is probably the "best" Survivor contestant since Coach. But I can't imagine a set of circumstances where I'll end up rooting for Russell to stay on like I did with Coach (to entertain, not to win). Maybe we should call him Russell Fairplay for now. This guy is a real turd. I assume he's the one kicked out of the challenge next week (as teased by the credits this week). That's especially true after I saw the exclusive deleted scene on EW.com where he talks about injuring someone, even if he gets hurt in the process, and how the injured person, even if it's a girl, will have to be crated off in a helicopter. (No. I did not make that up.)
Every contestant tries so hard to be liked or to, "fly under the radar." But R.F. has a completely unique strategy: align with everyone and, while doing that, sabotage the tribe. It certainly won't win him any friends at the live reunion show, but it might make for some very interesting t.v. I was disappointed that so few in the tribe sniffed this out. The female cop did (she credited female intuition -- I wonder if she doesn't want to say she's a cop) which bodes well for her in the game, even though her numbers seem to be in minority right now. As usually happens right off, we see a lot more of the tribal counsel tribe and not much from the winners. So picking a winner right now seems pointless. But I will do so soon. (It won't be the female cop ... or Shambo!)
Should be an interesting season. By the way, I have Yasmin in the office pool. Rachel had Marissa, the woman from Cincinnati, who went home last night. But it was a random draw, so I can't really be blamed.
Kevin Goldstein, the prospects guru at Baseball Prospectus, has been doing a series on the couple of prospects in each organization who improved the most this season. Here is what he said about the Reds:
Cincinnati Reds: A second-round pick in 2005 who had all but fallen off the radar after a pair of mediocre seasons (at best), Travis Wood is a short, stocky lefty whose best pitch is a changeup, but he was one of the best pitchers in the minors this year, compiling a 1.77 ERA in 27 starts between Double- and Triple-A. Runner-up: As a 17th-round pick, outfielder Chris Heisey has gotten little attention despite performing at every level, but everyone is starting to pay attention after another big year at the plate, as he delivered a .314/.379/.521 line split between Cincy's two upper-level affiliates.
Herrera has proven that a small, soft-tossing lefty can get people out in the bigs (at least as a reliever). And the Reds could certainly use a lefty next year in the rotation. Maybe Wood can push Maloney for that fifth-starter spot.
We saw Heisey in Louisville. He didn't look like much, but I'm no scout (or analyst for that matter). He did hit well this year, but it's tough to see a spot for him next year in front of Bruce, Stubbs, Gomesy, Balentien, and Nix. (I left out T-Virus. I hope the Reds do, too.)
Speaking of Gomesy, those of you on Facebook know that he tried to pet Scout the other night at Bark in the Park. And Barker (appropriately named) called Scout, "awesome." (Rachel got on t.v., too.) Scout's now been to four games and something special has happened at everyone, whether it was Kiss Cam, the Enquirer photo, catching a foul ball, or meeting Gomesy and Barker. Good stuff. And it was a good thing the dogs were there, as the human tally was not very high.
Lots of things have conspired to keep me away from the blog, including our push to finish all seven seasons of The Gilmore Girls before fall t.v. starts (more on that later) and the trial I had recently. But the real reason is I'm a little burned out on baseball. In addition to the blog, I had three fantasy teams this year and more Reds tickets than usual. We even scored tickets to some Louisville Sluggers games and travelled to Cleveland to see the Reds on the road. Count the pre-season time getting ready for three drafts, and that's a lot of baseball. But I plan to get back to posting several times a week and appreciate your hanging with me.
During the hiatus, I hope you caught up on UK Football with UKFootballFan, which is listed on this cite and is a great blog for UK fans (and still pretty good for everyone else).
I think it's over for me in the bgal. I'm in fifth and not that far from second (first has been decided) but don't see much room for improvement. My guys could go on a run, but I don't see it. If Grady had had a typical year, I would have finished in second pretty easily.
The League of Nations is in the playoffs (Yahoo! league; top 6 make it; I finished 5th). I'm currently behind but not by a lot and could advance to the semis, playing the number 2 team.
Now the fun stuff. I've payed very little attention to the Colonial League, but I'm now in third and only four points out of first. I've got a real shot with some runs scored and a small uptick in my pitching. I think the lesson here is to trust your draft and don't over think everything. I guess I'll have to think about whether or not to adopt that strategy for next year.
It's been a rough couple of days in the Z household. Last week was tough with the trial and all but by Sunday night, the eve of our anniversary, things were looking up. I was feeling great about the relationship and Rachel was posting nice things about me on Facebook. Then all hell broke loose; Luke and Lorelei broke up. Finally, late last night (after a big Reds' win) they got back together. Rachel and I finally got a decent night's sleep last night after two days of being in shock. Thank goodness we're watching on DVD or it would have been four or five weeks instead of two long days.
Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I've been in trial. But that's over. I promise some good Reds stuff and a Fantasy update soon. Right now I'm watching the Bats and the Columbus Clippers in the 'Ville.
Thank goodness for federal employee night at the ballpark. Rachel and I are going to the Reds game tonight mostly to see our friend, Acacia Flamm, sing the National Anthem. We're also going Sunday afternoon, so it's very unlikely that we would have gone to last night's game (especially since we're only on season 4 of The Gilmore Girls) had it not been for federal employee night. We got 7th row upper deck seats right up from third base for only $11. Boy, am I glad we went.
Arroyo threw a two-hit shutout, walking one and hitting a batter. No Pink got past second base. He did all of that in about 2 hours 8 minutes. Brilliant. Plus, my boy Gomesy hit three home runs, all three no-doubters (although the second one had the fair/foul drama).
Added bonus: we got to see the return to Cincy of Adam Dunn, one of my all-time favorite Reds (and current favorite Pink).
It looks like Alex Gonzalez has been claimed by Boston on waivers and the Reds have worked out a trade for him. This is proof positive that the Reds got Rolen for next year and not to push for the division this year.
Here is the link to the USA Today article with Arroyo speaking out on the steroids issue.
I drove to Louisville yesterday so spent some time listening to MLB on XM. Arroyo was mentioned, but not really discussed at length. That supports the broader point I made this off-season (on this blog) discussing McGwire. Nobody cares about steroid use unless it taints a long-held record or an important record, or if it's a chance to see a superstar go down. As mentioned, J.C. Romero was suspended for 50 games because of a positive drug test from last season. The Phillies won the World Series last year with this "tainted" player and nobody cared (except Phillies fans who were worried about their bullpen this year). Yet now everyone wants to say the Red Sox' series victory in '04 is "tainted" because Big Papi and Manny were on the list of 103. By the way, when Arroyo came out earlier this month and said he wouldn't be surprised if he were on the list of 103, nobody cared.
I applaud Arroyo for his candor. Again, while discussing McGwire, I defended his performance in front of Congress. At least he didn't lie. But now, I wish he told the truth, like Arroyo did. His "truth" might have been a lot worse than Arroyo's; I don't know. But couldn't he have gotten an immunity deal to tell the truth. I can't imagine that Congress is interested in prosecuting a steroid user. They like dealers and justice obstructers.
I also think Arroyo's approach with the unapproved supplements is reckless. The team should step in and put an end to it, if he's truly risking a positive test.
Overall, Arroyo gives such much needed perspective on the issue. (More on his great game last night later.)
Matthew Pouliot, at Circling the Bases has started an interesting project. He's reviewing what all 30 teams would look like if their rosters included only players originally signed by the club. The Reds kicked off the fun because they ranked last.
After going 0-4 as a Reds pinch-hitter, Wlad is now 6-13 as a starter, with a home run, four rbi's, and 4 walks with only one strike out. I know that's a small sample size but, as John Fay recently wrote in the Enquirer, the Reds should be focusing on 2010. I hope they let Wlad play the rest of the year and get comfortable as a big leauger. He could definitely be that right-handed power bat in left field that the Reds desperately need in 2010.
I don't know how this is possbile, but the Reds got a complete game shutout last night from a guy I had never heard of. Come to find out this was Justin Lehr's second start for the Reds. He started last Friday, going 5.0 innings, giving up 10 hits and walks, and giving up 3 earned runs. Not a great outing, but apparently not bad enough to get on my radar.
Not only does he throw the shutout, he breaks the Reds' losing streak; or as Dusty put it, started their winning streak. If the Reds get another shutout this season from a guy I've never heard of, I'll probably give up the blog. (Or at least stop until my readers demand my return.)
I put out feelers for an outfielder today and ended up trading Joe Blanton and Nick Johnson for Andre Ethier (and a throw-in, pitcher Mark DeFelice-Schmergel -- that doesn't look so bad hyphenated). Ethier now leads my guys in runs scored, and is second in games, home runs, and rbi's to Dunn and in AB's to Felipe Lopez. Blanton's been great of late, and Johnson hits for average, but little else. I'll replace Blanton with Jason Hammel from the Rockies. A pretty good deal for my needs. I'd like to hear what you think.
I've kind of neglected The Legends this season, but I'm actually in third and doing better in the Colonial League than my other two leagues. Maybe that's the idea. Spend less time obsessing.
Last fall I saw Brian Matusz pitch live in the Arizona Fall League. Mostly for that reason (and because he was a top prospect) I made him my first round pick in the bgal minor league draft this year. Right now, he's gone six against the Tigers in his major league debut, leaving with a 7-1 lead. Hopefully, the O's bullpen can hold the lead (and hopefully I didn't just jinx them).
Everyone has been asking me what I thought of the Reds' trades, but frankly I hadn't made up my mind until today. First let's recap: the Reds got Wladimir Balentien for Robert Manual, a minor league catcher for Hairston, Jr., and, in the big one, Scott Rolen for EE, Josh Roenicke, and Zack Stewart. In order of importance (least important first):
I don't know anything about this Weems (including how to spell his name, so this is a guess, but the trade is just that unimportant) kid that we got from the Yanks, but losing Hairston, Jr., is not a big loss especially for a team unloading guys at the trade deadline that might help contenders. So that's okay with me. A minor deal. But wait you say. Are the Reds in fact unloading at the deadline? It would seem so, but see below.
Balentien is a real find for the Reds. I don't know why he fell out of favor with the M's, but they never really gave him a chance after handing him the starting job and then taking it right back before demoting him and then trading him. (See also, Jeff Clement.) I would love to see the Reds hand him the right field job right now and see what they've got. Regular readers of this blog know that I've been touting Gomesy all year, but Balentien is the kind of guy that you have to put in the line-up and see what happens. Let Nix and Gomesy platoon in left. (Unless Alonzo is going to play first next year in which case they need to get busy moving Votto to left. Hey, maybe Gomesy could play first until the end of the year.) And of course the Reds have plenty of relievers, right? But wait, do they? (See below.)
Now, the biggy. Everyone is talking about the Rolen deal, and almost no one likes it. Paul Daugherty sure didn't like it in this morning's Enquirer. The folks at Baseball Prospectus liked the EE for Rolen part, but criticized the deal because of the inclusion of two top pitching prospects. Wind bags like Scott Graham and Buck Martinez have criticized the deal with no real analysis (what a shock). MLBTradeRumors.com cited Buster Olney who called it, "without question the most widely panned pre-deadline trade within the industry." Finally, most of the guys at my Colonial League August Supplemental Draft yesterday didn't like it, although the general consensus there was that no one cared about losing EE.
Let's talk about Rolen first. No question the Reds are a better team today with Rolen for Eddy. Rolen's a way better defender, and is having a career-reviving year at the plate. Sure, he's injury prone, but so is Eddy. And if Rolen's healthy (his numbers would support that) maybe he's put the injuries behind him. Rumor has it the Jays are paying Rolen's salary for this year and maybe even some of the $11 mil. he's owed next year. So taking out Eddy's salary for this year and next they really don't add that much payroll. So why does everyone hate this deal? I think the conventional wisdom is that the Reds are too far out (and sinking fast) so the Reds shouldn't be adding, they should be selling off. But I like the Rolen for EE trade.
But like BP, I question the inclusion of the two pitching prospects. Roenicke has great stuff and should be a big league closer by 2011 if not sooner. And Zach Stewart has been described by one expert as the Reds' best pitching prospect. I think Jockety put those two guys in there because of the money. He wanted Rolen, but the Jays wouldn't pay money toward Rolen for just Eddy. The Reds had to put in some younger talent.
On July 14, before the Reds went in the tank, I said the following:
Predictions: Castellini will allow Jockety to make a move; Jockety will get some overrated veteran; it will be just enough for the Reds to finish 82-80, recording their first winning season since I've been a real fan. And that's really the first step.
The Reds finally made a move, but curiously it really doesn't tell us whether they are buyers are sellers. The Reds traded reliever Robert Manual to the Mariners for outfielder Wladimir Balentien. Balentien is a young player and good prospect, but so is Manuel. Balentien should help right away in the Reds line-up and could hit a ton of HR's in Pretty Good American Small Park. The Reds certainly dealt from their strength by dealing a reliever.
I wonder if there's more to come or if this is it. This move won't help me sell my tickets, but I could see the Wlad becoming a big part of the Reds future.
On a side note, the Mariners sure are unloading guys.
Kevin Slowey will have wrist surgery and miss the rest of the season. Right now, the Blue Sox only have four starters and were counting on Slowey making a quick return to the Twins' rotation. He's got some value as a keeper next year, but I've put him on the trading block. I'll let you know what happens. By the way, right now, the Blue Sox are in fourth, six points out of third.
The internet is buzzing that the Reds are close to a deal. But what kind of deal isn't certain. CBS reports the Reds still consider themselves buyers and are trying to trade for Rolen. AOL reportst the Reds are trying to trade a pitcher, perhaps Arroyo or Harang to the Dodgers. Others say the Reds won't make any trade that won't help the team this year. Stay tuned...
When I last posted on the Bgal (A.L. only) I announced that I finally have a decent team. I'm still in 6th, but only 8.5 points out of third as opposed to 20 out of third. The only problem is that it doesn't look like Slowey and Wang are going to help again this year. I could probably do without Wang, but I need Slowey back. I don't think I can make it with only four starters, even if they are CC, Beckett, A.J., and Lackey.