Archive for June, 2007

Reds Lose Series to Phillies, Stagger Back Home

What sloppy mess of a game tonight in Philly as the Reds lost in extra innings against the Phillies.   The Reds come home now after another marathon road trip.  It’s just been impossible for Cincinnati to string any wins together this year.  They also lost another 1-run game; the Reds are 10-13 this year in 1-run games.

One of the few fun points to the evening was watching Edwin Encarnacion bounce off Adam Dunn as they both tried to make a play in left field in the 10th.  They both had a smirk afterward and it looked like Dunn was teasing Encarnacion (“Get off me, flea!”)  That and the strong pitching of Jon “The Cooter” Coutlangus was about all I could say positive about the Reds tonight.  They’re the worst team in baseball – I mean – they shot Old Yeller when he got like this.  Dunn is on some kind of home run streak – I wonder where he’ll be playing at the end of this year?

Griffey Shines in Return to the City of Grunge

First, that headline sounds like a video game title.  It actually touches me somewhat that the Seattle fans welcomed back and celebrated the successes of Junior Griffey so enthusiastically.  It says a lot about the fans of Seattle and it says a lot about Griffey.  This feels similar to when an ex-girlfriend says something nice about you to your new girlfriend (this is after the drinks have been thrown in each other’s faces, the cat fight has worn down and cooler heads have prevailed.)  Your new girlfriend notices and appreciates you a little bit more.  I wish I could have been in the stands to appreciate how the fans cheered for their opponent.  Those kinds of moments give me goosebumps.

Junior is a freight train right now barrelling down toward 600 homeruns.  He’s passing ‘roid freaks along the way on the list.  It would be quite impressive if he could pass Sosa (Griff = 584; Sammy = 601), who’s still playing this year.  While we’re at it, it would also be impressive if the Reds won a series and got above .500 (um, right, that’s going to happen too).  Griffey seems like he’s playing five years younger now that he’s healthy.  I really wonder what his career as a Reds player would have been like had he not been injured so much.  You’d probably be witnessing him zeroing in on 700 home runs right about now.  Griffey would be an even bigger hero and not just in Seattle but across all of baseball – the anti-Barry Bonds.  (Speaking of which, right field Reds tickets for the July 4th series against the Giants are being scalped at astronomical prices.  I guess economics [getting a home run lottery ball] wins out over taste]  In other news,

  • Freel is in rehab.  Scratch that; Freel is on a rehab ASSIGNMENT in Louisville – home of the Kentucky Bourbon, the Kentucky Horses and the beautiful Kentucky Women.  Freel is coming back from that violent collision in center and you know he won’t change his all-out playing style.  Norris Hopper will likely be a casualty of Freel’s return
  • Josh Hamilton has 81,375 write-in votes for the all-star game – yet another nice tribute from the hometown Reds faithful. 
  • Griffey is still second in NL Outfielder voting and is a lock to be a deserving starter this year. 

Reds Blow Late Inning Lead – Team to Star in Remake of Movie “Groundhog Day”

“We’re very close to being a good ballclub. We just need to get outs when we need them.” – Jerry Narron

So close, yet so far away.  It’s amazing how a bullpen – a seemingly innocuous part of your team – can gum up the entire works of the machine.  Narron has continued to hold the bullpen accountable – that is, he has put them in the game in situations that dictate he do so.  This despite the ‘pen’s repeated failure to execute.  It’s kept his starters somewhat functional but has led to the quagmire of a win-loss record we see today.  Narron sent up a flare to the front office yesterday by saying, “We need to get big outs late in the ballgame from someone besides Dave Weathers.”  Amen and amen.  The Reds start the long roadtrip 1-2 and have lost 6 out of their last 8 games.

Let’s look at the Reds starting rotation: 

Harang – [7-2, 3.88 ERA, 99.2 IP] – Stud of the rotation.  Rarely lays an egg when pitching, usually gives team chance to win.  ERA is a bit high but win loss and IP are where they need to be.

Belisle – [5-5, 4.72 ERA, 93.1 IP over 15 starts] – Started well but has won only to of last six decisions.  Has given up the most HR on the team at 11.

Bailey – [2-0, 4.00 ERA, 18 IP over 3 starts] – He’s very young but seems capable.  Just don’t throw your arm out, kid.  You’re the reason I pep up right now and get excited to watch the Reds every fifth game. 

Arroyo – [2-8, 5.24 ERA, 91 IP over 15 starts] – I think the sheen is coming off his glowing season last year.  It’s not just bad luck anymore.  Is he tipping off his pitches?

Lohse – [3-9, 4.56 ERA, 92.2 IP over 15 starts] Somebody has to be the fifth starter. 

Babe.  I got you babe.

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Time To Face The Facts

We had carpet cleaners in our house a couple weeks ago.  As they were wheeling the hose into the living room, one of the men noticed our cat, Greta.  A few minutes later our other cat Lily strolled past the man.  He said to me, “Oh.  You have TWO fat cats.”  I immediately thought, “WHAT?!?!?!?!?  THEY’RE NOT FAT….”  But, as I objectively look at my kitties and notice their sausage-like midsections, I have to be honest with myself.  They’re fat. 

Which brings me to the Reds.  After losing two of three to the Rangers and after two solid months of nothing more than a 3-game winning streak put together, I have to see them for what they are.  They’re possibly headed for the worst record in baseball.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because they seem to have at least some portion of what is needed to win except the bullpen.  But, I’ve been saying this whole year that I believe they can win enough to get back into playoff contention.  This past weekend series was the carpet cleaner telling me that the Reds are awful.  I don’t want to hear it, but I can’t deny it any longer.  I hope I’m eating crow in a few weeks, but we’re worse than the flipping Nationals right now.   I mean, honestly.  I’ll keep watching, but I feel like I’m already watching for next season.

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It's All About Dunn

It looks like I’m going to lose my main man to talk about here soon.  Adam Dunn will be gone soon and Joe Sheehan breaks down the likely places that he’ll land.  Maybe I’ll become a Twins fan after the trade deadline.

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How to Strikeout and — Win?

If I told you that the Reds struck out 14 out of their first 18 at-bats, your first thought would be, “Adam Dunn played all nine positions in the field?”  Your second thought would be, “Must have been yet another suck job loss by the Reds last night.”  Add in the fact that tough-luck Bronson Arroyo was the starting pitcher and you’d have to think it was a loss waiting to happen based on this year’s trends.  Arroyo still has hard luck; he got a no decision.

Instead, the Reds win  (Uncle Jesse – throw a win to “The Cooter,” Jon Coutlangus) and have made it a minor trend.  Cincinnati has won four of five.  I’m no longer burying my face in my hands when I watch Reds games (I peek through my fingers now, hoping that the scary part is over).  The Reds beat a good Angels team (40-25), they just didn’t do it in a pretty way.  Ugly wins feel a whole lot better than ugly losses.

Wait a minute – David Weathers has saved 13 out of 15 opportunities?  What???  Why does it seem much worse than that?  Probably because those three losses were spectacularly bad. 

In other news, the Uncle Milty era is mercifully over for the Reds.  Eric Milton is down for the season with Tommy John surgery.  You’d have to think this may be the death nell to his career – he’s a free agent at the end of this year, there’s little chance of him getting any kind of fat contract based on his results in Cincy [66 starts, 16-27 with a 5.83 ERA and he witnessed more long balls than in a Swedish porno.]  I know he tried his best, but he and his $9-10 million in salary was an albatross around the neck of the Reds these past three years.  Jim Bowden – thanks for that.

Lots of transactions and news:  Todd Coffey is back from AAA yet again, vacating the spot left by Jared Burton’s back spasms (a rule 5-induced injury, perhaps?).  Elizardo Ramirez is off the DL and was sent to Louisville to start rehab.  I’ve always liked Ramirez – he can pitch when healthy.  He was the hard-luck loser of last year, a spot filled by Arroyo now.   Freel is still out with no ETA.  Finally, the Reds received minor league lefty Ben Jukich from Oakland as the last player in the Chris Denorfia deal.  Phew – busy day.  Go Rojos!  As Tony Soprano would say, “Don’t stop…believin’!”

Reds Win A Series – Didn’t It Seem Like More Than That?

The Reds beat the Indians today in an exciting extra-inning affair with only one run scored.  The bullpen had a chance to blow the lead a couple times and actually didn’t do it.  Josh Hamilton had a spectacular defensive play to save the tie in the top of the 12th when he threw out a tagging up runner at home from mid-center field.  That guy just comes up large when it matters.

So – between Homer Bailey’s opening act on Friday and this win of a close game today – why did it seem like a bigger deal that just winning 2 out of 3?  Was it because it was the in-state rival Indians? (nah)  Is it because the Reds won close games rather than pissing them away? (you might, rabbit, you might…)  Is it because Griffey hit two more homers in the series (getting warmer…)  Is it because the Reds are no longer double digits out of first place (I guess it’s that.)  Regardless, the home fans had some very exciting plays to cheer about at home this weekend and I hope the Rojos can build on it for once and get some semblance of a winning streak going.  The goal should be .500 ball before the All Star Break.  Make it happen.

Woo Hoo! Homer Beats Wahoos!

Woo Hoo!

I bet I’m the only person in the universe that made that joke tonight.  As my mother-in-law would say, “Yeah, right!”

We wanted to see the kid get his shot and boy did he deliver.  Next we’ll see how he delivers over his first five starts but Bailey certainly looks like he has big league stuff.  Homer’s strikeout with the bases loaded was one of the few moments of drama this Reds team has had at home this year (good ones, that is).  The crowd tonight had a little extra oomph in their cheers.  It was a great night to be a Reds fan in a season with few of them.

In Homer Bailey we see that this team actually has a possibly dominant starting pitching rotation one day soon. That doesn’t fix the bullpen, however, unless one of the other stray cat starters gets pushed into the pen and actually makes an impact. I’m skeptical though about who would make the move – Kyle Lohse?  Dare I say it – Bronson Arroyo?  Well, let’s wait and see if Homer sticks around in the bigs. 

I’ve been away on vacation a few days, so I’ll just mention here for the fifth time since I started blogging that Tony LaRussa is an a-hole.  I read his comments on Harang – I swear to God I would probably get in a fistfight with that dude if I had to play or manage against him. 

Will Adam Dunn Make the All Star Team?

We’re about a month away from the All Star Game and Ken Griffey, Jr. of all people has poked his head into the mix as an outfielder.  While Griffey is deserving, I’m interested in seeing if Adam Dunn makes it.  With the Reds playing so bad, they might only get one player in so if Griffey’s lead holds, Dunn may get the shaft.  His only All Star appearance was in his first full season back in 2002.

I’m not a sports betting man, but if I were, I’d wager that Griffey’s vote total falls short and Dunn gets the nod.

Rock Bottom

The Reds blew a six run lead this afternoon and lost to another last place team AND the Reds have the worst record in the National League AND the Reds are in last place in what’s probably the worst division in baseball.

It’s hard to figure out this team.  They lead the majors in homeruns (at least they did heading into today’s loss) and the pitching has kept their ERA below 5.00 yet the team manages to lose game after game.  They’re 10-17 in close games (two runs or less) and they’re 8-9 in one run games.  That’s not good, but it’s not horrible either.  They have underplayed their expected win/loss by three games (might be four games when it’s refigured for today’s game) but even that wouldn’t put them anywhere close to .500.

It looks like one of the things they’re doing to respond to the losing streak is to bring Homer Bailey up and he’ll get a start on Friday.  He’s done pretty well for Louisville this year and at this point, he doesn’t have much to prove in the minors so with the Reds stinking it up, this is as good of a time as any to allow him to get his feet wet in the majors.

You also wonder if it’s time to blow up this team.  Adam Dunn is his usual stud self and they’ll probably reward that by dealing him since it’s a contract year.  We’ll probably also have the Ken Griffey, Jr. trade rumors although he probably won’t be dealt unless we can talk him into going to a winning team. And Alex Gonzalez is quietly putting up some nice numbers and you can put that on the “good” side of the Jeckyl and Hyde coin we have in Wayne Krivisky.

What’s probably the most sad is that, at only 10 1/2 games back, the Reds still have a chance of contending if they can put together a little winning streak and if they start moving up the ladder.  Unlikely, but there’s still four months left.  Of course a 100 loss season isn’t out of the question either and the Reds haven’t done that since 1982.

There’s no better time to start winning then now so hopefully the Reds can do something against the Cardinals this week.  The pressure should be off this team because nobody is expecting much from them so hopefully they can work with that.  Josh Hamilton should be back in the lineup tomorrow night so maybe that’ll give the team a boost.

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