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.
I was in San Diego for a four day weekend so, fortunately, I missed most of the carnage, as the Reds were swept twice on their six game road trip. The Cubs series was particularly painful (and not just because most of the guys I was in S.D. with are Cubs fans) because the sweep vaulted them into first place. The Cubs are now 51-45. If they go .500 the rest of the way, the Reds would have to go 40-25 to tie them. That's .615 baseball. We haven't seen anything from the Reds to indicate that it's even possible for them to finish that strong. And that doesn't even consider the other three teams inbetween the Cubs and Reds. (I posted earlier that I thought the Cards would win the division.)
So, what to do? Even though I still have a lot of tickets for games late in the season, I think the Reds should be actively selling off their high-priced talent. Harang and Arroyo are perfectly serviceable pitchers and their contracts are not outrageous (Harang gets $12.5 mil. in '10, with an '11 club option/buyout, Arroyo gets $11 mil. in '10 with an '11 club option/buyout), but they certainly have more value to the Reds as trade bait right now than as pitchers for the rest of this year and next. One factor here might be the confidence level the Reds have that Volquez can come back. A 2010 rotation of Volquez, Cueto, Owings, and Bailey isn't as bad as one without Volquez. But I would make every effort to trade those guys. I would also try to move Cordero. He's having a great season, but he's owed $24 mil. over the next two years. I'm sure a contending team could use his services. (The Tigers come to mind; so does Texas.)
Finally, I would unload as many of the offensive players as they can who are free agents next year or just plain old. I don't know what they could get, but I would shop Taveras, Gonzalez, Hairston, Gomes, and Nix. I'd also shop Weathers and Rhodes. Those guys are having good seasons and might bring something back in trade. The offensive guys probably won't bring anything, but they're not helping an '09 team that won't win, and probably won't be around for the next decent team.
I've been saying that a .500 record is the first step, but this team can't even play .500 ball. I think the fans would rather see the older guys shipped out in favor of the future than a .500 record in '09.
Rachel and I went to see David Cook the other night at the Madison Theatre. It wasn't quite The Yada Club but it was close. DC can rock. To me, he's more legit as a rocker than Daughtryback. He's a great singer and a good showman. He's apparently cut ties with AI, however; he didn't do any of his songs from the show and passed (thankfully) on singing about the magic rainbow. But I still like Elliot better. Maybe that's because I like Dr. Hook more than Cutting Crew.
Here is an excerpt from Joe Sheehan's article today at Baseball Prospectus on two of the eight teams that might be buyers or sellers. After arguing the Astros should be buyers, he says the following about the Reds:
Resting just 2½ games further back, however, it’s a different story for the Reds. They’ve hung around much as the Astros have, being outscored on the season and featuring the next-to-worst third-order record in MLB, one that is even worse than that of the Nationals. They’re 44-48 because their veteran bullpen has been unconscionably good, the third-best in baseball this year with a 7.3 WXRL, giving them a 23-20 record in games decided by one or two runs. Predictably, their off-season moves have blown up, with Willy Taveras' .291 OBP helping to cripple an offense that is 14th in the league in runs scored. Jay Bruce’s struggle developing hasn’t helped—he was hitting .207/.283/.441 when a broken wrist sidelined him. Dusty Baker failed to play his second-best OBP guy, Chris Dickerson, for a long stretch, falling in love with a brief show of power by Laynce Nix and the memory of Jerry Hairston Jr.’s 2008 season. Neither is helping, and while Dickerson is finally garnering more playing time, it’s come a bit too late.
The drop in offense was expected, but the poor performance by the rotation wasn’t. With two good young arms and two veteran innings guys, the Reds should have been positioned to win lower-scoring games this year. Instead, they’ve placed 21st in SNLVAR, as only Johnny Cueto has been notably effective. The great bullpen has helped, but all things considered, this team is not good enough to contend, even in a weak division.
Not being the Astros gives the Reds a tougher decision to make. They have a better farm system, though not a top one, and a younger core of talent. Not winning this season wouldn’t be the end of the world, and by making the decision to not worry about it, Walt Jocketty could position the team for more success down the road. Were he to heal up in time to be dealt and then deliver something in-season, Ramon Hernandez would be an upgrade behind the plate for a number of teams, and he isn’t carrying a big price tag. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang are 32 and 31, young enough to contribute here, but perhaps better fits for contenders' rotations. There’s simply no question that the aging anchors of this great bullpen, David Weathers, Arthur Rhodes, and Francisco Cordero, would have more value in the trade market than on the Great American Mound. The Reds have need for help up the middle, every spot. The core of Bruce, Cueto, Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, Edwin Encarnacion, and Drew Stubbs is strong enough to be a contender for the next few seasons; Jocketty has to use the support around them now to make the support around them in 2011 much better. The Reds have to start selling, and quickly, taking advantage of the current seller’s market for talent.
Rather than taking off for the All-Star break, the Blue Sox made a bunch of trades. I first traded my third round pick in next year's minor league draft (there are four rounds total) for the rights to Fausto Carmona. His owner was frustrated with him so I thought I would take a chance on him. If he comes back this year I may not have a spot for him so I may have wasted a draft pick, but if he comes back strong, I'll make room. This seemed like a low-risk move that may work out but if it doesn't, oh well.
Ervin Santana is also available (cheap) from the same owner, but I don't think I can afford to take a chance on him as I would have to carry him on the active roster right away.
My next trade was a big one, and one I may regret. I traded Alex Gordon, Jeff Clement, and Dioner Navarro for Victor Martinez. My catchers were Navarro and Mike Redmond, with neither helping me and Navarro hurting me. I picked up Brayan Pena for Redmond, figuring that Pena would be sent down when Buck was activated and I'd have a nice minor leaguer, but right now the Royals are going with 3 catchers, so Pena is still active for me. He's one guy I could dump, but I would like to have him for the future. Navarro has been killing me. He may have been the worst hitter in the league in the first half. He does have a history of improvement in the second half, but he would have to improve a lot to be useful down the stretch. I gave the other owner a choice of Pena or Navarro and he picked Navarro.
I also gave a choice of catching prospects, Clement or Jesus Montero, and he picked Clement. This is not a big loss. He's been mostly disappointing to me since I got him as part of the Kevin Youkilis trade (probably my second worst trade ever) and I couldn't keep both prospects next year anyway.
The big loss here is Gordon, and he's why I made the trade. I have Justin Morneau at 1B, Evan Longoria at 3B, and Russell Branyan (at .10) at CI. My DH was Delmon Young (more on him later) but I could have moved one of my outfielders and freed up the DH spot. But, I also have Mike Lowell coming off the D/L. So I have a spot for Lowell or Gordon, but not both. I offered the other owner a choice and he picked Gordon. This was a good pick for him. Both Lowell and Gordon will be $3 next year, but Gordon has much more potential to be great next year than the fading Lowell. But this might actually help me because Gordon won't be 100% when he returns and he's a slow starter. Lowell is also struggling with hip problems, but I like his chances to outperform Gordon in the second half, head-to-head. And that's really what these trades are about, me winning this year. Having said all that, I still wish he'd picked Lowell.
I would be remiss if I didn't berate myself more over how I got in this situation in the first place, which was trading Andrew Bailey and Travis Buck for Lowell and Jason Frasor. I did this like the day before Bailey became the closer and to keep Brandon McCarthy. Ouch. (Plus, I dropped Frasor right away, when he was just a decent set-up guy, which he's back to being now.) I can't tell you how much better off I'd be right now with Bailey, but of course I wouldn't have V-Mart because I wouldn't have Lowell and wouldn't have needed to trade Gordon. We'll see what happens.
The next trade was really good for me and my goal of winning this year. I traded Aaron Poreda, Delmon Young, and Coco Crisp for Alex Rios and A.J. Burnett. A.J. takes Poreda's spot and gives me a top starter for the second half for basically a middle reliever. I love Poreda and think he's going to be a great pitcher, maybe even this year, but A.J. should be a sure thing for the second half. Delmon Young was a throw-in because I would have had to drop somebody to add Rios and he was the worst guy I had in the outfield. Not that Young can't be a great player, but he won't be for the rest of this year. Crisp is out for the year, so he wouldn't help me at all.
From the other owner's prospective this isn't a bad deal, either. Neither of us would keep Rios or Burnett next year, so they don't have any value beyond this season. Young could still become a great player and, at $1 is a good risk. Poreda could develop into a great starting pitcher for the White Sox (no relation) maybe as soon as this year. He's started off great in the pen. And Crisp, if he returns healthy from shoulder surgery next year, is a very valuable $1 outfielder.
So here's where I am:
C V-Mart C Brayan Pena 1B Morneau 2B Ian Kinsler 3B Longoria SS Ramon Santiago CI Branyan MI Luis Valbuena OF Grady Sizemore OF Shin-Soo Choo OF Melky Cabrera OF Scott Hairston OF Willie Bloomquist DH Alex Rios
When Lowell gets back, I will put him at DH and move Bloomquist to SS or MI and drop either Valbuena (who's been terrible, but has some keeper value) or Santiago (who could be good if he got to play more). I'll have to figure that one out later.
P CC Sabathia P Josh Beckett P John Lackey P A.J. Burnett P Brian Fuentes P Phil Hughes P Michael Wuertz P Justin Speier P Alfredo Aceves
I have Slowey on the D/L, so when he comes back I'll put him in, probably for Speier. If I drop another pitcher it will probably depend on whether Aceves takes Wang's spot in the rotation or if they give it to Mitre. (Ideally it would go to Hughes, but other people, smarter than I am, have already written on that topic.)
So when Slowey returns, I will have 5 good starters, one closer, and three middle relief types (at least until Wang gets back).
I think I have finally assembled a great AL only team. The question is whether or not its too little too late. I'm currently in 6th place, 25 points out of first. (There are a total of 80 points, ten in each category.) I'm twenty points out of third. You need third to finish in the money, so that's my short-term goal. Catch third. I had really hoped to win this year with a strong commitment to some top guys that I can't keep next year, like Sizemore and Morneau, but injuries have hurt me some and my bit players haven't done enough. Hopefully, I've done enough now to crack the top three.
As far as minor leaguers for next year, I'm still good. We can keep four and I have Brian Matusz, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero, and still have several possibilities to choose from for my fourth guy.
I was going to do a post on the Reds half way point after the 81st game (the actual half way point) but the Reds got beat 21-1 and I didn't feel like writing about that. So I thought I'd wait until the All-star break. But sitting under .500 and in fifth place at the break I think I'll just share this moment that sums up the Reds' first half. I watched about ten minutes of the home run derby last night and it happened to be the part where Pujols (you know how to pronounce it) was hitting. Here's how it went down:
Me on the couch watching; Rachel walks in. R: What's going on? Me: Pujols is in a bat-off trying to move on to the next round. R: They should let Weathers pitch.
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.
Question: How did that kid from Dazed and Confused end up as the starting pitcher for the National League?
Observation: The "purists" who say the all-star team should be the best players regardless of team and that not every team needs a representative are idiots. Every fan of every team should have someone in the game to root for. Even fantasy geeks should understand that (although I'm not sure about the windbags that make up the BBWAA).
Here is an interesting article from the New York Times on technological advancements being looked at to help with fielding statistics. Note the mention of perhaps the best defensive play in history made by Derek Jeter.
The Legends' batters last night had a decent night (for them). Only one home run and no steals, but a .326 average with 7 runs and 7 rbi's. But the pitchers had the kind of night you dream about. The Legends, of the Colonial NL-only league, had 5 starters slated to pitch last night. Bronson Arroyo, Joe Blanton, Dan Haren, and Derek Lowe, plus Jonathan Sanchez, who is on reserve right now. (A couple of nights ago in the bgal, the Blue Sox had CC, Beckett, and Lackey all throwing, which translated into 2 wins. All three throw again tomorrow.)
As I'm sure most of you know (or saw), Arroyo pitched a shut out against the Mets for a much needed win (and a much needed boost to his trade value). But Haren also pitched a shut out, and Blanton and Lowe went 7.1 and 6.0, respectively, each giving up one earned and getting the victory. So that's 4 starters, 31.1 innings, 4 wins, and 26 k's. Good enough to move me from 8th to 4th in one night. All three of my reserve pitchers pitched last night, as well, led by a shutout by Sanchez. Ramon Troncoso also got a win in relief for the Dodgers. Leo Nunez pitched an inning, giving up a run.
All told, the Legends staff went 43.0 innings, giving up 3 earned (a 0.63 era), striking out 40, and recording 6 wins.
Here is a blurb from Baseball Prospectus as part of its series on prospects from the preseason top-100 who are slipping:
Yonder Alonso, 1B, Reds (Pre-season ranking: 35) When the Reds selected Alonso in last year's draft, the confusion didn't revolve around why they liked him as much as why they liked him better than Justin Smoak. While Smoak is on the verge of making it to the big leagues, Alonso got off to a good start in the Florida State League, but he scuffled at Double-A while showing well below the kind of power that was expected. Concerns about his ability to hit left-handers also remain; while the sample size is small, he's 9-for-43 against southpaws without a home run. He'll get little chance to make improvements from there, as a broken hamate bone could cost him the remainder of the season.
Nobody weighed in so, as promised, here is the answer to last Sunday's scoreboard stumper: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial. Oh, and Albert Pujols. Pretty impressive company for the Cards' slugger.
Here is a link to an article on the newest Red, Drew Sutton, who was obtained as part of the Jeff Keppinger trade. The link is to a terrific fantasy baseball site run by Jon Williams called Advanced Fantasy Baseball. I have a permanent link under my blog list.
Maybe I don't like Dusty. In a 5-2 game, with one on, Dusty pulls Owings for Herrera to face the lefty Rasmus. As Thom predicted, LaRussa then went to Ryan Ludwick. Massett is already warming up (you know Herrera won't face Pujols) so why not just bring him in to face Ludwick? After all, it's a three-run lead with one on and Pujols on deck. Predictably, Herrera gives up a hit to Ludwick, so now Pujols is the tying run. Of course, Dusty then goes to Massett. To be continued . . .
There are two absolutes in baseball. One, there are three bases and one batter. Two, when Albert Pujols (pronounced poop·hōl) is up in the late innings at Pretty Good American Small Park, he's going to go yard. So with three bases and a batter, a 3-0 lead is not safe against the Cardinals. What you need is either a 4 or 5 run lead, or a working knowledge of the unintentional, intentional walk.
So here's the set up. The Reds are up 3-0, with Homer Bailey having gone seven innings of two-hit ball. He gave up a lead-off single to start the game and walked the next guy. He then struck out Pujols and cruised from there, giving up only a hit-by-pitch through 6, with 4 k's. He got the first two guys in the 7th, gave up a double to Molina, and then got out of the inning on a ground out. Then the bottom of the 7th. Dusty allows Homer to lead-off the inning and he flew out. As mentioned above (with three bases and a batter) a 3-0 lead is not enough. Granted Homer was pitching great, but why not take him out after 7 and turn the game over to the pen with a little cushion? Plus, as mentioned, a 3-0 lead isn't enough. At lead-off, we needed a pinch hitter, not Bailey.
Leading off the 8th, Homer gave up a single to Rasmus. Bailey then got Ryan to fly out. So you figure with two lefties coming up, two bases open (remember there are three total) and Pujols lurking Bailey's done for the night and Rhodes is coming in. Because, of course, with three total bases and one batter the worse possible thing you can do is walk guys to get to Pujols. Of course actually walking Pujols is an intriguing idea, but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Instead, Homer stays in and walks Schumaker to put two on with Duncan up and Pujols on deck. (Basic math: that equals 4.) So with no margin of error (we have a three run lead at this point, but see the two absolutes described above) Rhodes comes in and walks Duncan to load the bases. The rest, of course is history.
Now, when I say no margin of error, that's not 100% true. Even with Pujols up with the bases loaded and a 3-0 lead, there is another option. You could walk Pujols. I'm not suggesting an intentional walk, but just don't throw him anything good. He walks, the Reds are up 3-1 and they try to get the next guy (Ludwick, who was 0 for 4 with an intentional walk).
I like Dusty and hate to harp on him like I did above, but I really think he blew it last night. I think he might be taking the approach that to be a player in the division we have to compete with the Cardinals, not duck them. But going toe-to-toe with the Cards does not require a 3-2 fastball in the strike zone to Pujols with the bases loaded and a 3-0 lead.
Kudos to the Reds for coming back and tying the game at four in the bottom of the 8th. And the Reds put the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but it just wasn't enough. Also kudos to Bailey, who threw a great game. And kudos to the Reds for a great fireworks show. All-in-all it was a pretty nice night, but a win would have been sweet.
The Reds' brain trust met this afternoon after the season ticket holder luncheon to discuss what could be done about adding a bat to the Reds' roster. Reds' GM Walt Jocketty discussed the upcoming meeting during the question and answer period at the luncheon. This picture was taken at the news conference following the meeting and included the Reds top brass, Jocketty, the owner and team president, Bob Castellini, and frequently cited blogger, Dave Zahniser. No announcements regarding specific players were made, but Jocketty reportedly was considering Zahniser's suggestions of trading for Matt Holliday or (more likely) Wilson Betemit.
This is Rachel, guest blogging for Dave. Last weekend, we went to Cleveland to watch two games of the Indians/Reds series. Since moving to Cincinnati and becoming a Reds fan, I've wanted to go to Cleveland for the Battle of Ohio, but we've always had a conflict until this year.
Cleveland is a great weekend trip for Cincinnati folks. The drive is right around four hours. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza on St. Clair and East Ninth--a terrific deal at $80 thanks to Priceline.
From our hotel, we walked to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame--my favorite museum in the world. The Hall of Fame is a must-see for any rock music lover. I particularly enjoy seeing the artifacts like handwritten music lyrics and costumes from music videos and concerts. Who knew that the lyrics of Walk This Way were so dirty? Or that We Didn't Start the Fire was first called Jolene? Tina Turner's red dress from the Private Dancer video was on display. She gave it to VJ Martha Quinn because Martha said that she liked the dress. Martha then wore the dress to the VMAs. How cool is that? I always learn something new from the Hall of Fame--for example, Elvis performed only a few concerts out of the U.S. (in Canada), despite being offered millions of dollars to perform in Europe, because Colonel Tom Parker was an illegal immigrant. In memory of Michael Jackson, one of the theaters in the Hall of Fame ran his videos. We watched some of the Off the Wall and Thriller videos; the songs are still excellent, but the videos are very dated.
We went to the Saturday night and Sunday afternoon games at Progressive Field. I'm not going to report on the games, but on the game experience from the casual fan. (This is from someone who calls GABP her favorite outdoor bar in Cincinnati). Our tickets the first night were in the upper deck between home and first base. I was disappointed in the concessions--very basic hot dogs and pizza. I went with the nachos--nothing special. In Cincinnati, we have local restaurants like Skyline and LaRosa's even in the upper deck. After the game, we had drinks out on the deck at the Thirsty Parrot, a bar across the street from the field. On Sunday, we had tickets in the lower section just past third base. I was happy to sample some local flavor with the Great Lakes Burning River. I still did not see any local foods. So GABP definitely wins out in that respect.
At the end of the top of each inning,the Indians set off fireworks, to my surprise. It was like celebrating the fact that the Indians only gave up four runs that inning. The Reds reserve fireworks for a big deal--a home run or a win. (When you hear fireworks around downtown Cincinnati when the Reds are playing, you know something good happened--not that the visitors had a four-run inning.)
Members of the Ohio State band performed during Sunday's game, which meant the Ohio State fight song and Hang on Sloopy. I was happy when a guy behind us chanted, "SEC, SEC."
Despite the poor food selection at Progressive Field, the Cleveland trip is highly recommended, if just for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The fact that the Reds won both games enhanced the trip immensely.
Here are the updates for my team today on the bgal website:
Morneau leaves with tight groin Longoria needs more frequent days off Gordon to return less than 100 percent Redmond takes foul tip off arm Sonnanstine to make Triple-A start Sizemore likely needs elbow surgery Lowell should be back after break Raburn leaves game with dry eyes
My recent blog post ranting about the Blue Sox has apparently had no effect on the team because they dropped another point last night. All of a sudden, no one can hit. I feel about as effective a motivator as Lou Pinella.
But here's what has me perplexed. I don't know if you saw the Yankees game last night or not (first let me point out that I forgot to set my line-up for the Yahoo league yesterday, so I missed Joba's start -- whick worked out okay considering his line) but the Blue Sox should have had a win. I turned it on at 3-3 in the 6th. Joba was gone and Coke was pitching out of a jam. He did, and it stayed 3-3. Hughes came in and pitched a perfect 7th, which sets me up for the win if the Yanks take the lead, which they promptly did on an A-Bomb from A-Rod. Why Girardi didn't leave Hughes in is beyond me, but he can certainly pitch two innings. Instead he went with Bruney, who coughed up the lead. The ironic part: it was Blue Sock Russell Branyan who knocked in the tying run. He was up with one out and the bases juiced. I'm thinking, "okay, I'll take the grand slam for the win." But instead I get a sac. fly, which gives me 1 rbi for the win. Of course, the Yanks take the lead in the bottom of the 8th and go on to win, but I had already lost interest and was on to playing impossible-to-win-solitaire on the I-Phone.
All that to say, again, here's what has me perplexed. If the official scorer has the discretion to not award a relief pitcher a win in this type of situation, and then chooses to award the relief pitcher the win (Bruney got the win) than under what circumstances would an official scorer exercise such discretion? Bruney stunk, and gave up the lead. He did nothing to earn a win. I get it that he was the pitcher in the game when the Yanks took the lead for good, but if that's a hard and fast rule, say so. Don't pretend that the official scorer has discretion. And if he does have discretion, use it!
The FF&A ten came up with a big win last night, beating our only upper division opponent of the year 20-7. Everybody hit (including yours truly) and, overall, the defense was solid. Most (if not all?) of the 7 runs we gave up were unearned, but some other solid play kept the opponents away from the big inning. That's the key in slow-pitch softball, keep the other team from getting the big inning going. We benefitted from several miscues by the opponents and had a couple of big innings. Next week its back to lower division opponents. Hopefully, our play will not revert back to the mediocrity we've displayed so far this year and will be more like this week.