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Redlegs Rundown

August 10, 2010 8:16 AM

Time To Shut Leake Down?

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It's been a hot topic all season: when are the Reds going to shut Mike Leake down?  Given the fact that this is just his first professional baseball season, the organization was not going to let it's number one draft pick from June of 2009 pitch 200 innings.  No reputable team would allow that. 

Still, his meteoric rise this spring training and his incredibly impressive start to the regular season had everyone salivating at how good he already was.  But the question was always: what are they going to do to keep his innings down and still allow him to pitch in September and possibly October?

Honestly, I don't think we need to worry about that right now.  The kid has hit the proverbial wall.  It's time to either shut him down or ship him to Louisville.  I know that's very harsh considering all he's done for the team thus far.  But, the Reds are in a race and they cannot afford a 7-run outing everytime.  Granted he didn't give up six runs against the Pirates, but they hit him around pretty hard and honestly everyone has hit him pretty hard of late.  Just my opinion, but I think it's time to make a move. 

Am I saying this because the Reds lost last night and I'm in a panic?  Nope.  I said this after the Pirates game last week.  Again, I know he wasn't charged with any runs, but if the Pirates are hitting you hard - and they did - and you follow it up with a clunker against the Cards, it may be time to send him, or shut him, down. 

I think the Reds were stuck between a rock and a hard place.  They needed to skip him a few times to keep his innings down.  I also think this might be a cause of his ineffectiveness.  He may have gotten rusty.  The ball doesn't have the same movement it did earlier in the year.  I don't see the same sink on his ball like I did in April and May. 

With Homer Bailey potentially being ready in a week or so, and ultimately Aaron Harang will be ready as well, the team has options for Leake's spot.  I think the time is very near to seeing Leake removed from the rotation.  This is in no way me being down on the kid.  In fact, I already have him locked into next year's rotation from day one, so don't think I'm giving up on him and calling him a fluke.  No way.  He'll be fine.  He just has hit a mental and physical wall.  The division race is catching up to him, as are the road trips and everything else associated with being a professional ball player.  It happens.  And in my opinion it happens to be the time to give him a break. 



August 9, 2010 8:28 AM

Reds-Cards Showdown Set

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Even though there will still be 47 games after this 3-game series with the top two teams in the Central, you can't convince anyone that these aren't the biggest three games of the year for the Reds and Cardinals.  If you look at what the Cards did by rearranging their rotation to allow Carpenter, Garcia, and Wainwright to face the Reds in Cincy this week, you'll know just how important these games are to the second place Redbirds. 

Yes, I said "second place" when referring to the Cardinals.  I mean after all isn't that where they currently reside?  And two games back no less.  Who would have thought that in March besides some mad scientist?  Not this guy that's for sure.

So, the biggest series of the season (until the Labor Day series in St. Louis) begins tonight.  Chris Carpenter vs. Mike Leake.  On paper, I have to say I don't like the Reds' chances.  Carpenter is 3-0 against the Reds this season and 10-3 lifetime with a microscopic 1.96 ERA.  Combine that with the fact that of late Mike Leake has not been the Mike Leake we all fell in love with to start the season. 

But, stranger things have happened.  The Reds have managed to beat Roy Oswalt twice this season so I guess they can beat Carpenter right? 

After Carpenter, the Cards throw Jaime Garcia, who like Mike Leake has started to see a bit of trouble on the road to the Rookie of the Year award (which was already given to Jason Heyward before the season even started). 

Then the hammer...Adam Wainwright who is coming off a complete game two-hit shutout of the Marlins.  BUT, he is just 5-6 on the road this season so he can be beaten. 

Without a doubt this is going to be the toughest three day stretch the Reds have faced all year in terms of opposing pitching.  Let's hope the 11-run outburst Sunday in Chicago, combined with fresh Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen and three hits from Jay Bruce will get him going and help the Reds' potent offense. 

Either way, when you think about it while this series is very important, there will still be a ton of baseball ahead of both teams no matter how it plays out.  Even if the Reds should sweep the Cards, I'm pretty sure with some daunting road trips (hello, West Coast) the Reds won't feel safe until October 3 rolls around. 

Another way to look at it is this: last night the Bengals began their preseason schedule.  Usually by now our focus is on them because the Reds are long out of the race.  Not this year.  Last night's game was an afterthought for most Reds fans with the Cardinals series weighing heavily on their minds.  I know that was the case for me.  Can't wait for 7:10.  Let's get after it! 

July 21, 2010 10:59 AM

What To Do With...

As we near the end of July, the Reds are still in the division race but are heading toward some major roster decisions.  Some will be a lot more difficult than others.  These are my ideas of what to do with these players as of July 21.  I reserve the right to change my mind in 30 minutes. 

HomerBailey.jpgHomer Bailey: Homer has been out since May 24 but will be throwing bullpen sessions in the next few weeks with a targeted return sometime in early August.  The problem is where to put Homer.  His 1-2 record with 5.51 ERA weren't blowing anyone's socks off before he went on the D.L. and with Travis Wood and Edinson Volquez in the rotation, there may not be room for Homer.  The problem with putting Homer in the bullpen is the fact that he takes a lot longer than others to warm up.  It might not be a great fit.  He could take over Micah Owings' role if Owings continues to struggle.

Aaron Harang:
On the D.L. since July 6 with back spasms, Harang could be ready before Bailey and could also be the most difficult decision of all.  It's no secret Harang is not the same pitcher the Reds signed to a big extension a few years back, but he's a veteran and we all know how Dusty likes his vets.  I just can't see them keeping him on the D.L., putting him in the bullpen, trading him, or even releasing him.  He'll likely go back into the rotation with Travis Wood going back to AAA.  Not that I'm a fan of it, but that's my prediction. 

Jared Burton:
Burton has pitched pretty well for Louisville.  He currently is 1-2 with a 2.77 ERA for the Bats.  He's almost become a forgotten man with the success of Nick Masset, Jordan Smith, and Logan Ondrusek.  Burton could eventually be a candidate to take Micah Owings' spot, but in my estimation he might be further down on the list especially if Homer Bailey is in the running.  It's unfortunate, but Burton lost his chance in spring training, then got hurt.  Now, he's stuck in Louisville until someone falters mightily or gets injured. 

Aroldis Chapman:
Since moving to the bullpen, Chapman has been very inconsistent.  His bullpen ERA is 4.76 and is still trying to fine tune his control and wildness.  Unfortunately, I don't see Chapman in Cincinnati until September when the rosters expand.  But, don't confuse that with me writing him off.

Francisco Cordero:
Coco has drawn the ire of Reds fans far and wide this season with his high-wire act.  Unfortunately, the Reds do not currently have anyone else on the roster who has a lot of closing experience.  Nick Masset has been much better of late, but I don't think it's time for him to assume that role especially coming down the stretch.  Arthur Rhodes has closed before but I don't think they want to risk his foot with more work.  One interesting option could be...

Jason Isringhausen:
The 37-year-old former closer for the Cardinals has been out of the game since early 2009 when he opted to have Tommy John surgery.  Now, Izzy is ready to return and threw for the Reds earlier this week with a subsequent contract offer made.  It likely would take a few weeks to a month to get him ready for major league action again, but the experience and ability to get hitters out could be a nice alternative for Cordero should he continue to struggle. 

Russ Springer:
Another veteran arm to have available should some of the kids falter.  Springer has been very good at times. Last year his ERA was 4.11 but prior to then, he was 2.32 and 2.18 for the Cardinals.  Currently he's at AAA Louisville but keep an eye out for him as he may be on the fast track.

Micah Owings:
Owings is currently the "long guy" for the Reds.  With the starters throwing so well of late, Micah hasn't seen much action and it certainly showed in his outing Tuesday night.  His fault?  Yes and no.  It's hard to stay sharp when you don't throw for 14 days, but as a major leaguer he should be held to a higher level of accountability.  That's his role.  My guess is he'll be let go if/when Homer/Springer are ready.  

Travis Wood:
How in the world can the Reds possibly consider sending Wood back to AAA when Aaron Harang and/or Homer Bailey are ready to return?  Since joining the rotation July 1, all Wood has done is put up a stellar 2.03 ERA, which if you're keeping track at home is much smaller than Harang/Bailey.  Sure it's a smaller sample size, but anyone who has actually watched this kid throw know he's definitely ready to contribute for the big club.  Still my prediction is he goes back to AAA and it'll be a shame. 

Corky Miller:
Corky knows what his role is.  He knows when Ramon Hernandez is ready to come off the disabled list that he's headed back to Louisville.  And he and his mustache will accept it, go down to the minors again, and be ready for the next time he's called upon.  Considering the circumstances, you cannot possibly be upset at the job he's done in Ryan Hanigan's and then Hernandez's absences.  But, he will go back to Louisville eventually.  

Yonder Alonso:
He's "blocked".  Joey Votto isn't going anywhere.  Unless Joey goes on the D.L., Alonso is going to be at AAA.  They've tried him in left, he can't play third, so he's stuck.  Honestly, he's trade bait.  There really is no getting around it. 

Juan Francisco:
Technically, he's "blocked" too.  Scott Rolen is the third baseman for the Reds provided he's healthy.  Now, with Rolen battling a hamstring injury, it's possibly Francisco could be called up to split time with Miguel Cairo, but he's not going to be given the full-time job especially with how Miggy has played in Rolen's stead.  In the long run, Francisco can hit 500-foot homers but he's a man without a position because his defense at third is spotty at best and unless he works on his left field defense, he likely won't be playing there either.  Trade bait? 

Chris Dickerson:
Out since April 30 with a broken hamate bone, Dickerson is currently on rehab with Louisville.  He likely will be there the full 30 days due to the need for strength in that hand.  My prediction is that he will get hurt again in those 30 days and the Reds won't have a decision to make.  However, should he go through the first 30-day stretch in his career without an injury, do the Reds really send Chris Heisey back down?  If I'm making the decisions, no way.  But, my guess is they will either let Laynce Nix go or send Heisey down.

Chris Heisey:
Batting .278 with five homers (4 as a pinch-hitter), how do you possibly send Heisey down?  He's fast, has power, can play good defense, and is doing exactly what he likely will do his whole career - be a 4th outfielder.  Unfortunately, the Reds will send him down when Dickerson is ready.  But it will be a shame. 

Gary Matthews Jr.: 
The Reds have until Saturday to make a decision on Matthews.  He can opt for free agency if he's not on the big league roster.  He's taken, deservedly so, a lot of crap from the fans for being a bust.  But, he's hitting .310 at Louisville and is a switch hitter with pop and speed.  Would he be an upgrade from Laynce Nix? 

Laynce Nix:
Nix has not played much since Jonny Gomes caught fire and it has showed.  Unfortunately, Laynce may be the odd man out soon with the Matthews decision looming.  Even if he survives that one, he may be out when Dickerson returns.  Baseball is a tough business and I'm glad I'm not making those tough decisions!

Dusty Baker:
Seems Reds fans either hate him or they hate him.  Not sure why Dusty gets such grief, but as they say it is what it is.  Either way, his 3-year contract is up after this season and as much as Reds fans are rooting for their team it seems they are rooting against Dusty.  Not sure why, but I digress.  The popular opinion is that if the Reds win, he stays.  They lose, he goes.  What constitutes "win", well my guess is they have to be over .500 by a good margin (say 10 games).  82-80 will not earn Dusty an extension I wouldn't think.  But, a playoff appearance, why not?  I don't think Reds fans care who the manager is as long as they win, right?  RIGHT??? 


July 13, 2010 8:57 AM

Mid-Season Awards

Now that we have reached the mythical half-way point in the season, it's time to mythically hand out some hardware. 

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MVP: Giving this award to anyone else but Joey Votto at this point would be foolish.  He leads the team (and the National League) in basically every important offensive category.  You could certainly argue that if Scott Rolen went down the team's performance would suffer.  But Miguel Cairo has already proven a worthy fill in and so could Paul Janish for that matter.  If Votto went down for a significant stretch, the Reds would no doubt be relying on unproven Yonder Alonso.  Now, sure that's a better option this year than last year's Ramon Hernandez, and there's no saying Alonso couldn't do the job.  He's still one of the Reds' brightest and best prospects, but Votto is a leading contender for N.L. MVP not just the Reds'. 

LVP: Francisco Cordero might kill me before the year is over.  Once very dependable (at least over David Weathers and Danny Graves), he now refuses to throw strikes and despite a 97 MPH heater, gets the ball up in the zone entirely too often and gets burned...and at the same time makes Reds fans burn with anger.  Unfortunately, like what Charlie Manuel says about Brad Lidge "who else do we have"?  Nick Masset is way too inconsistent.  Arthur Rhodes is still 40-years-old and has that foot injury.  No one else has even remotely been tested like Cordero has in the big leagues.  We're stuck.  Hope you have good doctors!

Cy Young: Johnny Cueto.  Now Bronson Arroyo has been great.  He has more wins and is extremely durable and reliable.  But, Cueto has been lights out and every bit the pitcher we all have expected him to become.  In fact, I believe I said that in March...click the link .  It seems as if Bryan Price has gotten through to young Mr. Cueto that throwing more strikes is a good idea.  Brilliant!

Cy Yuk: Homer Bailey.  If you have read anything I've written for what seems like the last decade, you know I am not the biggest fan of Homer.  He refuses to throw strikes unless he's facing the Pirates (but then again what real danger is there for throwing strikes to the Pirates?) and in general is one big head case...still.  Sure he's injured, but at the time he got injured he was just 1-2 with a big ol' 5.51 ERA in nine starts.  Three decisions in nine starts means he's not going deep into games whatsoever.  With the plethora of pitching the Reds have now (Arroyo, Harang, Leake, Cueto, Wood, Maloney, Chapman, and some would argue Lecure), if Homer doesn't start showing some improvement, he may be out of a job.

Rookie: The Reds have gotten some excellent performances by rookies this year.  Travis Wood has been outstanding.  Even Matt Maloney has been very good.  Logan Ondrusek, after being sent down to Louisville, has been lights out since his return.  But, this one is going to Mike Leake who has been masterful on the mound.  If not for two of the biggest disasters in Reds history Leake would be 8-1.  Still 6-1 is very good and his 3.53 ERA is going to keep the team in every game.  Now, let's hope the Reds haven't shut him down by the playoff run in September. 

Gold Glove:  Brandon Phillips has returned to his GG days of 2008 and is a big favorite to win the award this year with Chase Utley being out a while.  Even if Utley were healthy, Phillips has displayed his fielding brilliance on a nightly basis with some amazing bare-handed plays and extreme range.

Biggest Surprise: Jonny Gomes didn't sign until very close to the reporting date for spring training.  Hoping to parlay his 20 homer, 51 RBI 2009 season into a bigger payday, it just never came.  Fortunately for the Reds, he decided to accept the team's one year deal (with 2011 option) to battle for the left field job.  Not only has he beaten out potential platoon partners Chris Dickerson and Laynce Nix, Gomes has won the everyday job.  His 60 RBI are a career high already and has been one of the Reds' best clutch hitters.  

Biggest Disappointment: Chris Dickerson had an outstanding spring training and was all set to battle Drew Stubbs for the everyday centerfield job.  But, the injury bug has once again bitten Dickerson and he's been on the disabled list since April 29.  Even before he got injured, Dickerson wasn't having the breakout year he hoped.  He was batting just .205 with no homers and no RBI in 44 at bats.   

 



June 14, 2010 2:57 PM

Boys In Red Hangin' On

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By now everyone expected the Reds to be long gone from anyone's thought process in terms of winning or even competing for a Central crown.  Well, here we are in the middle of June and not only are they competing for it, they are winning it.  Sure, it's just a game and a half, but that's a far cry different from the past several years.  A team that hasn't even had a winning record in 10 years has no business competing for a division title, do they? 

Now there are several question marks about this team.  First and foremost is the bullpen.  It is in a word: awful.  Outside of Arthur Rhodes, does anyone have any confidence in another member of the bullpen?  I'll give you Cordero as a 50-50, but honestly no one else is getting the job done.  No one. 

Another question is: who is going to step up in the rotation and lead this team?  Johnny Cueto has been very shaky his last few starts, Mike Leake was finally roughed up a bit his last time out, and Homer Bailey is on the disabled list for the foreseeable future.  That leaves the old vets Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang.  These guys can get the job done.  At least they better.  Harang has been drastically better since the first month of the season and looks a bit like his old self.  Arroyo, while being a bit shaky lately, is a guy who will have his ups and down at times, but will ultimately bounce back. 

To date, the team hasn't really been hit with a tough injury.  Homer Bailey wasn't pitching that well when he went to the D.L.  Brandon Phillips is battling a hamstring injury but it doesn't appear to be super serious.  What could really hurt this team's chances would be a stint on the D.L. by Arthur Rhodes (who is battling a foot problem), Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips (the hottest hitter on the planet), or Scott Rolen (in one man's opinion the MVP of the team). 

Another key factor in my opinion is the schedule.  At the end of the upcoming Dodgers series, the Reds will have played 12 more home games than road games.  Yes, the team is playing above .500 on the road, but one game over isn't what I'd call great.  The other thing that is scary is where they have to go still.  Wrigley (never easy), NY Mets (best home record in baseball), and out west to Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona, and Colorado.  The Reds have never fared well on the west coast and the Cardinals have already played out west a few different times. 

Who knows how this is all going to play out.  One thing that is for sure is it's awfully fun watching a team that is in first place rather than playing out the string already by June. 


May 20, 2010 1:26 PM

The Reds Venture Through Strange Lands

gomesrcs.jpgFirstly, I apologize for my absence. No excuses offered, just an apology. Secondly, the Cincinnati Reds are first place in the National League Central in 2010 and it's late May. Most importantly, this wasn't a fluke one-day thing. Once the Reds nabbed the lead from the struggling St. Louis Cardinals, they promptly took two of two from Milwaukee before hitting the road to visit the Atlanta Braves. Though still with just a half-game lead over St. Louis, the Reds are playing the best baseball I've seen probably ever, since I don't remember 1990 or 1995. Winning games in the 8th and 9th innings is stressful baseball, but if that's what it takes, then I'll take it everytime (the Reds just opened up an 8-0 lead over the Braves in the 2nd inning as I write this, but there's no reason to believe this game won't come down to the 9th).

Once the Reds took first, they assumed a noticeable air of confidence. After getting back-to-back complete game shutouts from Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, while rookie Mike Leake and rotation anchor Bronson Arroyo kept dealing, this team realized that they can and should win every single game. One stat that can't be ignored as key to their success, especially considering how bad it's been the past few years, is they lead the National League in hitting with RISP and two outs. Last year, it was wise to change the channel in these situations and flip back in time to watch them play defense. Clutch hitting, along with pinch-hit homeruns, excellent starting pitching, good baserunning, late rallies, not to mention the energy Jonny Gomes brings to the game, have the city truly excited for the first time in a long time. I drink coffee out of my Spring Training mug everyday. I find myself subconsciously wearing more red t-shirts. My video game controllers are red. Maybe I've finally lost it, but I don't think I'm alone. When half of my Facebook newsfeed is talking about the Reds, you know Cincinnatians are excited. I don't know how to follow a winning team, but learning on the job while they stay atop the division is a lot better than getting comfortable with the usual slide into 5th.

As we move forward into the dog days of summer, all we can do is hope the Reds don't lose this momentum. Injuries have plagued us in years past, and with a 70-year old left side of the infield, the Reds need to be prepared to replace these guys when their bodies catch up with them. Edinson Volquez will be back before we know it, and Aroldis Chapman can't stay in AAA forever. Too much starting pitching is a great problem to have, but eventually some kind of move has to be made, and I'm not going to try to offer any sensible solution. Chris Dickerson will be back from his injury soon, but with Chris Heisey filling in well in his rookie year, what do you do with those two? Again, better than having an unqualified player taking the field everyday, but still a decision I'm glad I don't have to make.

These are strange times for young Reds fans. I'm not used to seeing the Reds get attention on national news. I'm not used to the first number in the record being bigger than the second one. I'm not used to these runs and this league-leading defense, but I've never had more fun following a sports team. So let's start filling up Great American Ballpark. And with $5 seats, why not?

 

May 17, 2010 2:33 PM

N.L. Central Rundown

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Cincinnati Reds - "First Place" Cincinnati Reds to be exact.  Reds fans don't get too many chances to say that, but at least for one day they can.  After knocking off the Cardinals 7-2 and two-of-three over the weekend, the Reds are officially in first place all alone.  18 short days ago, they were in last, so while it's nice to be on top, the Reds would be wise to lay on the gas pedal or they could quickly be looking back up at the Cardinals.  However, defense (no errors in 11 games), pitching (1.88 staff ERA over the last eight games), and timely hitting (.311 average with runners on and two out) are sure fire ingredients for winning baseball.

St. Louis Cardinals - not since July 30 of last year have the Cards been out of the top spot in the division.  Sure, it's only just a half game but they've lost five of six and averaged just 3.2 runs in doing so.  Brendan Ryan's offensive woes continue.  The Cardinals' shortstop is mired in a woeful 1-for-28 slump and his average continues to plummet to its current .162.  Perhaps he should consider growing his mustache again.  Matt Holliday also might want to start earning his huge salary.  The $120 million man has four homers and just 14 RBI, which ranks him sixth on the team.  Not exactly the protection for Pujols St. Louis had hoped for when they re-signed him.

Pittsburgh Pirates - If you're a Pirates fan you have to practically be giddy about being in third place.  Much like Reds' fans, you don't get much of an opportunity to be in the upper half of the division so you revel in it while you can.  Who knows how long that will last, but after being swept by the Reds by a combined 16-1 last week, the Pirates went to Chicago and took two-of-three from the Cubs.  Not particularly difficult to do these days, but it's better than being swept.  The Pirates rank 15th in both runs scored and team ERA, so to be in third place in the Central is pretty impressive at this point.  Will it last?  Odds are that it won't but no one thought the Reds would be in first at this point, so who knows?

Chicago Cubs - Lou Piniella is ranting again.  That's never good if you are a Cubs fan or player.  Ownership is threatening to blow the team up and start over (again) if the Cubs don't win this year.  They have some aging, expensive veterans (Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, Zambrano) and they likely will get shipped out before the trade deadline if the current trend continues.  

Milwaukee Brewers - Luckily for the Brewers they face the Reds on the road as they are an unheard of 4-14 at Miller Park.  This is also a team with too much talent to be puttering along at 15-22 and in fifth place in the division.  Offense is not the problem as their 199 runs rank second in the N.L.  Pitching, however, is a major factor.  Their 5.20 ERA is 14th and they just lost Doug Davis to pericarditis.  

Houston Astros - 110 runs, 19 homers, .228 average, .276 on-base percentage.  All of them are league worst and a big reason why the Astros are bringing up the rear in the division.  Still, they were good enough to sweep the Cardinals in St. Louis last week, so there is hope.  Unfortunately, that hope went down the drain after a weekend sweep in San Francisco.   It's gotten so bad in Houston longtime Astros Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt have begun openly discussing their trade options.  Things are looking mighty bleak in Houston. 

May 7, 2010 9:26 AM

Reds Full of Fight

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The Cincinnati Reds: full of fight because they are just grinders by nature or are they full of fight because they are making up for their manager's shortcomings?  

After Wednesday's 5-4 walk-off win (second in three days), the Reds have now won in their last at-bat nine out of 14 times.  They are 4-0 in extra innings and 7-4 in one-run games.  But, if you look at stats, you'd be amazed this team is anywhere near .500.  Team batting average .241 (12th in the N.L.), runs scored 121 (10th), OBP .314 (14th), slugging percentage .391 (11th), team ERA 5.17 (14th).  

They're getting practically nothing from leadoff hitter Drew Stubbs.  His .174 average is easily worst of the regulars.  He has struck out an unbelievable 30 times in 92 at bats.  And every time he shows signs of life, he goes back into a deeper hole.  

The starting rotation has started to come around of late, but they still only have five total wins and a combined ERA of 5.39 which is 15th in the N.L.  They are not pitching deep into games and sapping the bullpen of life.  Already, Francisco Cordero has pitched in 17 of the team's 28 games.  That's a pace to appear in 98 games where he only appeared in 68 all of last season.  Luckily, he has only blown two saves.  The more he pitches, however, the more he's going to blow.  

Nick Masset's ERA of 9.00 is also not helping matters.  Last year's 2.37 ERA and ascension to the 8th inning gig seems like a decade away.  His last two outings have been much better, but he'll need a month of perfection to get that ERA down significantly.  

Dusty Baker is a capable manager for the most part.  He has his downfalls for sure.  The locals aren't too fond of his lineup-making skills (Stubbs leading off, Cabrera in the 2 hole, Phillips in the 4 hole, Hernandez over Hanigan, etc.).  Baker insists on playing his guys no matter what and it infuriates a lot of Reds fans.  

So the question remains: are the Reds full of fight or are they winning in spite of their manager?  

April 22, 2010 12:48 PM

Time For Harang To Go?

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Seemingly, Carlos Zambrano and Aaron Harang have faced off a thousand times in their careers.  They've already done it once this year, with Zambrano coming out on top as he has done quite a bit recently against the Reds.  

Apparently the two won't be starting a game against each other for a while as Zambrano has been shipped to the bullpen after a shaky start to the season.  Aaron Harang could be next.

In yet another not-so-hot start Wednesday night, Harang got lit up for six earned runs on 10 hits in just 5.2 innings and running his already high ERA up to an even higher 8.31.  

Harang is making $12.5 million this season with an option for next, so while the Reds can't completely give up on him yet, they are not going to do anyone any good by running him out there every five days to not only get killed, but to drain the bullpen as well.  

All spring we heard "Aaron is working on some things and will be great once the season starts."  Really?  If an 8.31 ERA is "great" I'd be scared to see how high it would have been if he wasn't working on so many things in spring training.  The Aaron Harang of old is apparently gone...for good.  No longer will we see the pitcher who was a rock in 2006-2007 going 32-17 and getting actual Cy Young consideration.  Now, we get the Harang who is 12-33 over the last two-plus seasons.   

What went wrong?  Some point to the 2008 outing in San Diego when Harang pitched four innings three days after throwing 5.1 innings.  Some point to his conditioning.  All the while the Reds staff insists he is in great shape and throwing the ball well.  The other teams would agree...as they race around the diamond scoring runs at will.  

Are the Reds going to release Harang?  Doubtful.  The team is very money-conscious right now.  Should they do something, ANYTHING to try and switch things up?  Yes they should.  The only problem with the Reds right now is no one is really pitching well enough in AAA or on the current staff to take his place.  So, my guess is for the foreseeable future, Aaron Harang will keep his rotation spot.  And the Reds will keep losing every time he pitches.  

April 13, 2010 12:48 PM

4-3, Could Be Worse

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With their 10-inning win in Miami last night, the Reds have run their record to 4-3.  Not great.  Not awful.  Considering their 0-2 start, and the ensuing panic, 4-3 feels like 7-0.  If you consider the starting rotation, supposedly one of the bright spots for the Reds, is 0-1 on the season, and throw in the continued anemic offensive display at the plate on a daily basis, this team could be more like 2-5 and headed further into the crapper. 

Thankfully, they have managed to scrape, crawl, and scrap their way to their current record, and just one game behind the Cardinals.  Now, it's entirely too early to be talking "games back" and all those implications, but at least the Cards aren't off and hiding...yet. 

Do I believe it will ultimately happen?  Yes I do.  But that doesn't mean the season can't be a success.  There are a ton of things the Reds can work on and build on as they hopefully ramp up the talent level over the next few years with the eyes on a bigger prize. 

Anyway, back to the here and now.  Consider:

  • Jay Bruce is hitting .130 which is a big jump up with his two hits last night.  Although I will say Jay has been hitting into very tough luck lately.  Hopefully he can keep going to left field a time or two to keep the defense honest.
  • Jonny Gomes is hitting an even worse .125.  It appears Jonny is trying too hard.  The guy always swings from his heels but he seems to be gripping it a little tight right now. 
  • Brandon Phillips is hitting .185 with one homer and four RBI.
  • Joey Votto is hitting .259, but that's awful for him.  And he only has one RBI, which came on a solo homer on Opening Day. 
  • Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera have more homers (5) than the rest of the team combined.  (I hope that doesn't continue...unless they hit 50 each).
  • The Reds' usually reliable bullpen's ERA is 5.91, which ranks 13th in the N.L.  That will likely improve and with the starters' ERA third in the league at 3.59, it will obviously help the chances of more "W"s.
We're only seven games in.  4-3 is good, but it could be a lot worse considering the above.  We saw some big signs last night.  Scott Rolen being a solid leader.  Brandon Phillips bunting twice.  Nick Masset working out of a bases loaded jam.  Clutch hitting.  Let's hope it continues.  It could be fun. 

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