Saturday, July 31, 2010

Game 104: if you can't throw strikes you can't close games

Last night's game ended with a thud in the top of the tenth when Cordero blew it. Cordero got two outs in the top of the ninth but just barely. (You'll recall that Brooks Conrad hit the grand slam walk-off (assist to Nix) that beat Cordero in Atlanta on May 20.) After the great catch, Heisey singled in the bottom of the ninth but couldn't get past second. So Cordero came out for the top of the tenth, a move that I applauded. No reason not to let him pitch the tenth (accept as outlined below).

In the tenth, Cordero got Infante to ground out, but then walked the eight hitter, Melky Cabrera. He struck out Matt Diaz (in the pitcher's spot) and then, inexplicably walked Prado to get to rookie sensation Jayson Heyward. (If you were at the game and saw Heyward you would not want to pitch to him.) Heyward, who had already doubled to left twice, predictably doubled to left. That was basically the game.

You'll recall that Cordero blew a save in Oakland where he gave up a home run to Kouzmanoff on the first pitch of the ninth inning (an opposite field shot down the right field line that barely went out). That wasn't so bad; people sometimes hit the ball. But then, after the Reds scored four in the tenth, Cordero came out and walked the first two guys he faced and was pulled. 27 walks in 47 innings (against only 40 k's) has lead to a 4.02 era. He does have 27 saves in 33 chances, but that stat really belongs to Dusty for continuing to trot Cordero out there. I think it's time to give Rhodes a few save chances. Where is it written you have to go 7-8-9 with your relievers every game. Let Cordero pitch some in the 7th and 8th until he stops walking guys. Then he can close again.

Friday, July 30, 2010

To paraphrase Fletch, "I hate Tony LaRussa."

You absolutely have to read this article.

Heading to the game tonight, so look for a write-up in the morning. Supposed to be sold-out. I think the bandwagon is filling up.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Game 96: gaming the system

I used the fact that Rachel is on crutches to get four pretty good seats in the handicap section at GABP last night to see the Reds (oh yeah, and Strasburg). I'm no scout, so I'll let other sites provide the details, but it look like he had the hitters off balance, hitting 80 m.p.h. about as frequently as 98 m.p.h. I didn't check every pitch, but I didn't see 100 m.p.h. Still, the Reds managed 3 runs against him, tied for the most he's given up this season.

That was in sharp contrast to Arroyo's 89 m.p.h. fastball. Arroyo was on early, but ended up giving up 7 thanks to some poor relief pitching.

In the meantime, the Cards won again (are they ever going to lose?) and the Reds slipped to 1.5 games back. Time to make a move? They did sign Russ Springer and Izzy, but I'm not sure that's the answer. Should be an exciting few days before the trade deadline.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Game 92: Volquez has no friends

Right before first pitch on Saturday night my phone lit up; calls and texts about my ugly mug on t.v. I guess we made it on the tube right after Chris Sabo's induction ceremony.

But the big news of the night was Volquez. He's back, and in a big way. He's always struggled with consistency so I won't get too excited, but boy did he look good. And boy do the Reds need him. Including yesterday, the Reds have lost three of theit last five by a score of 1-0. And Saturday, even though they scored 8 runs, they only got 5 hits. One single and four home runs. The two Stubbs hit were of the Pretty Good American Small Park variety.

The big take-away from the game? Volquez must not have any friends. No friend would have let him go out there with that hair.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reds' rotation

After the break, what will the Reds' rotation look like? That's a good question. I thought going after Cliff Lee was an absolute no-brainer, even though the Reds have depth in the rotation. Seattle apparently insisted on a top position player prospect with one year or less of major league experience. You have to think that Justin Smoak, the guy they got from Texas, is a better bet than Yonder Alonso, so the Reds just didn't have exactly what the M's wanted.

Without Lee, the Reds are left with more quantity than quality. Right now, Arroyo, Cueto, Leake, and Wood are all pitching well and I don't see any of them getting bumped from the rotation. So after the break when Volquez is ready, you have to assume he takes Harang's spot, which is currently occupied by Maloney, who has also pitched pretty well.

With Lee gone, Ted Lilly is in the rumors. But I think the Reds should sit tight. Lee was so good and the situation was perfect for a trade. But no other available pitcher will be enough to justify good prospects from the Reds. Should they try a modified six-man rotation? Why not? Let Arroyo throw every fifth day, but then rotate Cueto, who tired at the end of last season, Leake, Maloney, and Wood, all of whom need to watch their innings, and Volquez, who's coming off Tommy John. A fresh staff during the dog days will also help the bullpen. And if one guy slips up, move him to said pen.

If I had a blog . . .

. . . I would want it to have stuff like this. This is cool on several levels.

What I've been trying to say all season

This link should be read by all Reds fans. I like Dusty, but his biggest problem is he gives up too many outs, either by sacrificing too often or letting the pitchers bat late in games. (Although I don't blame the guy for leaving Wood in when he had a perfect game going.)

Fantasy update - All-star break

The East Dillon Lions are comfortably in first place in the League of Nations, a Yahoo! mixed, 12-team, head-to-head league. We start a catcher, one of each infielder, three outfielders, and one utility player. So nine guys. Of those nine, seven of mine are in the all-star game. Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez, Pedroia (D/L), Longoria, Furcal, Eithier, and Swisher. No wonder I'm winning. As far as pitching my all-stars include Papelbon, Thornton (we use holds among other pitching categories), Lester, and Price, who is starting for the A.L.

(By the way, I'm watching the game as I type this. I can't believe Charlie Manuel has Ryan Howard as his DH and batting clean-up with the first three pitchers for the A.L. being left-handers. Howard is practically a platoon player, and probably shouldn't be on the team in the first place. Maybe I'm still mad about the Votto snub, but this is criminal. By the way, how stupid are the Phillies? Their GM traded Cliff Lee in the off-season for no good reason, and here is what their manager recently said.)

The Legends are also leading the Colonial League by eleven roto points. The Colonial is a ten-team, N.L. only, re-draft roto league. Surprisingly, my first place team only has six all-stars, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Heyward, Chris Young, Jonathan Broxton, and Tim Lincecum. I drafted a bunch of young guys with up-side and for the most part their paying off. (Blue Sock Evan Longoria, see below, just doubled.)

The Blue Sox in the bgal, a ten-team, A.L. only, keeper league, are not fairing as well. I'm in 7th, 11 roto points out of the money. I don't want to get caught where I did last year, out of the money at tied for fourth and no good draft picks. I've had a couple of big injuries (Beckett, Choo, Harden) but it's mostly that every pitcher I throw out there gives up a ton of runs. My offense is probably good enough to get me in the money, but last place in era isn't going to cut it. As we speak, I'm negotiating a trade of Ian Kinsler (too expensive to keep next year) for another decent keeper pitcher. If this trade goes through, it will signal that I'm rebuilding for next year. As far as all-stars, I've got Kinsler and Longoria and Hughes and Buchholz, although I just traded for Buchholz in June, so I haven't had him all year. Rios got snubbed, and Choo would have made the team had he not gotten hurt.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Reds' All-Stars

Rolen, Phillips, and Rhodes. No Votto. Votto is clearly one of the top 5 candidates for the MVP if the season ended today. For him to not be on a 33-man N.L. All-Star roster is an embarassment to baseball.

First, congrats to Rolen, Phillips, and Rhodes. This is Rhodes first all-star game at age forty. I thought when he lost his scoreless streak last week that he would not make it. Not very many middle relievers do. But he did and he deserved it.

Phillips is having a great year, especially since he's moved out of the clean-up spot (a move this blog had been pushing since last season). But Chase Utley's starting spot (he's hurt) will probably go to Martin Prado, who's leading the league in hitting.

Rolen is back! What else can you say? Great move by Jockety, both in trading for him and locking him up long-term in spite of health questions.

On to Votto. There are some injuries (guys like Utley and Tulowitzki -- that's probably why Omar Infante made the team) and Votto will likely be the first choice to replace injured guys. Plus, he did make the list of the final five guys for the fans to vote on the last spot. Strasberg did not make that list, so Votto should win and ultimately make the team. But wow! I actually said to Rachel yesterday that Votto strikes me as the type of guy that might rather stay at home. But let's analyze this anyway.

First, I have no issue with Pujols being the starter. I'm not one of these guys that insists that the "all-star" is the guy with the best first-half stats. I'm absolutely okay with voting in a guy like Pujols, even if his numbers weren't typically awesome, which they are.

Second, Adrian Gonzalez made the team as the only Padre. I'm okay with that, too. I love the rule that every team has to be represented. The national guys don't like it, but I do. Every fan should be represented at the game. But the Padres lead the league in pitching and don't have a single pitcher on the team. The Padre definitley could have been a pitcher, but I can't argue with Gonzalez making the team.

Finally, and here's the main problem, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel chose Ryan Howard. Howard is having a decent year, but not close to Votto's. Howard has a batting line of .296/.353/.506, with 15 home runs, 58 rbi's, and 52 runs. Votto's is .313/.414/.574, with 19 home runs, 57 rbi's, and 53 runs. He also has 7 steals. Howard has legitimate all-star stats, but there is no argument that he should make the team over Votto. Manuel should be ashamed.


According to the rumors section on Baseball Prospectus, the Reds will call up Aroldis Chapman this week and put him in their bullpen. This move was predicted on this blog a couple weeks ago.

Flags Fly Forever

That's a favorite saying in Fantasy Baseball. You do what you can to win the league when you have a chance, and you worry about next year next year. Of course, you only go all out when you've got a legitimate shot.

The Reds have that shot. They've reached the mid-point in first place. They lead the league in hitting and defense and they've got pitching depth, even if they don't have a stopper. That could change, however, with a trade for Cliff Lee. Lee could make the Reds the leading contender to win the division and maybe even the pennant.

Why trade the future for Cliff Lee when they're already in first? Because they want to win when they get to the playoffs, too. Lee is a proven playoff winner. He's been an absolutely dominant pitcher since the Indians first traded him to Philadelphia last year. He's currently on a streak of three consecutive complete games. So he would help the bullpen, too. Plus, he's relatively cheap. His second half would cost the Reds about $4 mil.

First, no question Lee becomes a free agent after the season and the Reds would not be able to re-sign him. So this is clearly a rental. But when he does leave for free agency, the Reds would get a first-round pick and a supplemental first-round pick. That would help replenish what they would send to Seattle in the trade.

Who knows what Seattle would need for Lee, but the Reds have a lot of prospect depth. We do know the Mariners traded Phillip Aumont, a top pitching prospect, Tyson Gillies, a decent single A prospect, and Juan Ramirez, an unremarkable pitcher. But don't forget that Seattle would also be giving up the two compensation picks for Lee if they trade him, so the Reds would have to give up a little more than what Seattle did in terms of prospects.

Here is my proposal: send Yonder Alonso, Juan Francisco, and another prospect, perhaps Devin Mesoraco to the M's. Alonso, a former first-round pick, is blocked by Votto at first, and Francisco, a power-hitting thirdbaseman/outfielder, is blocked by Rolen now that he's been extended. And the Reds drafted another catcher in the first round this year, so Mesoraco, himself a first-round pick, is expendable. Before this year, Mesoraco was a bust, but he's having a great season hitting .311/.377/.602 at two levels in the minors this year. The Mariners have pitching, but they need some good position prospects. All of these guys would be upgrades. They just re-acquired Russell Branyan in a desparate move. Jose Lopez (at third) is likely to move on next year. And boy, could they use a decent catcher.

Conventional wisdom would indicate the Reds would have to send Travis Wood or Mike Leake, but I'm not so sure it would take that much. But I would certainly consider it. I would also consider sending Homer Bailey or Edinson Volquez to get the deal done. Any of these pitchers would anchor the deal and allow the Reds to include lesser prospects.

I do know this, the sooner the Reds pull the trigger (why wait?) the sooner Lee starts helping. You'll recall two years ago when the Brewers traded for CC Sabathia ahead of the deadline and he single-handedly (left handed, by the way) led the Brewers to the playoffs. Like the Brewers with Sabathia, the Reds know they won't be re-siging Lee, so they can work him hard and get as many innings as possible out of him.

Does Lee guarantee the pennant? Of course not, but he gives the Reds the stopper they need to go with their considerable depth. And flags fly forever.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Half way home

The Reds have completed the first half, going 46-35. They haven't had that many wins after 81 games this century. They lead the league in hitting and fielding. The most impressive thing is that they've come back from several instances where in the past the team would have folded. An early series sweep in Pittsburgh, the debacle in Atlanta, and the sweep to start the west coast trip in Seattle.I think the difference has been the leadership of Rolen and Cabrerra, something that has been sorely missed by the Reds in the past.

Most importantly, I have a trip coming up with some college buddies all of whom are either Cards fans or (mostly) Cubs fans. We made a bet before the season started on which of the three teams would be in first on July 8, the start of the trip. It aint over yet, but I've got a much better shot than most of the group.

Coming up: my plan to trade for Cliff Lee. You'll like it (I think).