Okay, so Chris Speier signs on as Cincinnati bench coach. Dick Pole is the pitching coach. Juan “Porky” Lopez is the bullpen coach. All those names are a bit, um, suggestive. And fun. So, while the pitching may not improve much this next year, worst case the Reds coaches can star in a remake of “Boogie Nights.”
I heard last week that Tony LaRussa was at one point in the past (before they hired Dusty Baker) in discussions with Reds ownership to possibly join on as manager of the Reds. Apparently Bob Castellini has a relationship with Mr. Tony and that was a big reason LaRussa even considered it.
I cannot say enough how happy I am that LaRussa isn’t managing the Reds. World Series rings or not, I simply cannot get past the a-hole factor with the guy. I’ve always felt that he’s wound a little too tight, wears his hats too high and pants too tight. God-forbid you get into an “unwritten rules” fight with him over a brushback pitch, watching a homer too long, high-fiving fans after a home run or losing a sunflower seed spitting contest.
I think Dusty Baker is a peculiar choice for manager of the Reds. I’ve heard a lot of complaints that he leaves his pitchers in too long. When I watched the Reds play against him in the past, he just seems to have an odd pace to him. I can’t explain it. Still, I’ll give him a chance. The Reds can’t do much worse under Baker than they have done in the past few years. He may be fine.
The Reds have a new manager and it’s a guy with a track record. Love him or hate him, Dusty Baker is the new Reds manager and while he has his knocks, he’s also had his share of successes. He took the Giants to the World Series in 2002 and then he took the Cubs further then any other manager in the last 100 years back in 2003.
One of his knocks with the Cubs was how he abused his starters but he never had the pen there so it’s somewhat hard to criticize. In Cincinnati, the Reds have neither the starters or the pen to abuse so it’ll be interesting to see how things goes. Baker also has a tendency of going with veterans over rookies so it’ll be interesting to see how guys like Jay Bruce are brought along.
What I want to see are some quality signings. I’d also like a long term deal for Adam Dunn but that looks unlikely. It’ll be an interesting winter.
The sting of the season has subisded a bit to put together a recap. The early departure of the Cubs from the 2007 playoffs reaffirms that this NL Central division wasn’t very good to begin with.
This was in many ways a more frustrating season than one with pure ineptitude. This 2007 Reds team showed flashes of brillance at times late in the season but consistently treaded about 10 games out much of the season. Any win streaks were supplanted with a 3-7 streak. The Reds never were completely out of it until the last month or so, but they never put together a winning streak that put them closer than five games. Cincinnati fans like myself stuck with the team but were at times filled with self-loathing as we did it.
What are we Reds fans left with for next season? This team certainly seems poised to make the improvements needed to win 20-30 more games next year. They have a foundation in the starting rotation behind Harang, who is clearly one of the best in the game (workhorse, gets you deep into games, rarely has bad outings back-to-back). Arroyo was somewhat schizo this year but has shown two years ago the ability to be a 15 game winner. Homer Bailey may yet develop into a big leaguer. The bullpen has – um – a lot of people in it. Well, okay – Jared Burton and Weathers seem servicable. With a bona-fide closer in the mix, a starter or two added or promoted from within, perhaps this pitching staff can rise from the dregs. (Uncle Milty and his $10+ million in salary is gone too – addition by subtraction).
Infield – The Reds have Brandon Phillips, who surely must be the best overall second baseman in the majors after his performance this year. Shortstop continues to be a role-player position, although Jeff Keppinger was looking great late. Encarncion has actually stepped away from the ledge – he was seemingly on his way out of the majors earlier this year with his boneheaded attitude and lack of production. Perhaps his power will be in full effect next year. You hope that Hatteberg will return at first – he is clearly the most professional hitter on the team and is underrated in my opinion.
The outfield is loaded with options, especially with Griffey Jr.’s resurgance at the plate this year. Dunn will continue to put up monster numbers in the power and strikeout categories. With his complete set of tools and talents, Josh Hamilton may be one of the most explosive players in the National league next year. Norris Hopper and Ryan Freel are nice compliments in speed and average to the power of the aforementioned players.
In short, there is a lot of reason for optimism next year, provided this team makes some moves in the pitching department. I’m not sure Bob Brenly would do much better than Pete Mackanin (who I’m fine with if they keep him) without an investment in the Reds rotation and bullpen.
Gold Glove for Phillips!