Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One-year anniversary

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.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Comets take tough loss

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.

Bowling with UK

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?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Greenville Comets

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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good news for UC fans

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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hernandez's deal

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.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wild, wacky weekend

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.

All-in-all a pretty wild and wacky weekend.

Reds news

The Reds re-upped with Ramon Hernandez, although I haven't seen the details beyond the fact that it's a one-year deal. More later when I get it.

Here is a link to John Fay's blog from Saturday, basically making the same point I made last week about an overall 2010 approach for the Reds.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mike Leake

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.

Reds dodge a bullet

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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Reds

Another blogger puts in his two cents following the Fanhouse report previously linked.

What's going on with the Reds?

First, I saw this very disturbing post about the Reds, but that was followed-up by this from John Fay.

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.


Some of you may still have interest in this resport out of Seattle.

Steely Dan report

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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yankees redux

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.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bengals bandwagon rolling along

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?"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ramon Hernandez

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.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Game six - The Yankees win!

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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rich Hill

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.

Game five

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.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Game four

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.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Game three

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.