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!
Congratulations to Brandon Phillips. Today’s milestone was yet another nail in the voodoo doll of Indians management who let him go to greener pastures. (Not that they’ve missed him this year) Is there a more talented player on this Reds team right now than Phillips? It’s hard to argue there’s a better defensive player on the team. He’s on the second 30/30 second baseman ever, and the other guy (Alfonso Soriano) isn’t playing second any more because of his defense. I know that I love his attitude, zeal for the game and infectious smile. He’s my favorite player. Now that I’ve said that out loud, the Reds will trade him to another team.
One other note – my good friend Chris mentioned that Adam Dunn looks like Frank the Tank from Old School. It’s amazing that I’ve never noticed that before, but he really does. I wonder if after he hits a homer Dunn yells out, “We’re going streaking!!!”
Griffey Jr. suffered a painful groin injury trying to make a play against the Cubs Wednesday night. Dr. Tim Kremchek made it sound like it wasn’t career threatening or chronic. At this point, with the Reds eliminated, it’s almost a non-issue. Griffey had a great year at the plate and a better year in the field as the season went on after a very shaky start. I hope he’s not in too much pain – groin injuries remind you of the hurt with every step.
I went to Vote 756.com to vote on what should be done with the Barry Bonds home run record baseball. I was a bit surprised at how I voted and felt about this issue. I’ve said some pretty strong comments about Bonds in this blog. I am convinced he cheated by using performance-enhancing / head growing drugs. I acknowledge his almost unparalleled talent, but can’t believe he’s doing it in his 40’s without help. I don’t like him because he’s a jerk. I hate that he broke the home run record held by Henry Aaron, even though I’m equally convinced A-Rod will break the final Bonds mark (TBD) later.
You would think I would lean toward either marking the ball with an asterisk (I laughed out loud when I heard on the radio that was one of the choices) or sending it into space. Instead I voted to send it, as is, to Cooperstown. This website and voting exercise alone will send the message that the record was acheived under dubious circumstances. I know the history books and ESPN’s of the future (whatever form that has) won’t forget it either. We all know how this record was achieved. Let’s leave this historical artifact unblemished.
Despite the obvious self-promotion value he’s getting out of it, I think it’s pretty clever what Marc Ecko is doing on this site. He’s not publishing the leading vote getter, instead he’s only showing the total votes received. There were 1.7 million votes when I hit the site two days ago. There are now 5.5 million votes as of this typing. Either people are cheating the site with programs, spending the lunch breaks voting or word is getting around. It’s hard to say if the old school baseball historian vote will trump the 15-year-old smart ass vote.
I’ve been quiet long enough!!!!
The Reds lost again, but Adam Dunn belted his 40th homerun of the season and in the process, he set a franchise record for reaching 40 homers in his fourth consecutive season. The fact that the Reds are going out of their way to make a long term to one of the elite power hitters in all of baseball is a travesty. This is a kid who will reach 28 years of age in November and who already has well more then 200 longballs. He needs just 100 walks for his fourth straight season touching that milestone as well and with a strong finish, he could top his career OPS mark of .956.
With the loss, the Reds were eliminated from the division crown, not that they had much of a chance to win it anyway. They’ve also guaranteed themselves another losing season. The Reds are fourth in the National League in runs scored with 744 so the offense it’s there. With a rough finish though, they could revert back to their 2005 ways with a 5.00+ ERA. They’re at 4.98 right now.
You also have to happy with Brandon Phillips, who’s proving that last year is not a fluke and those top five prospect labels weren’t totally off base five years ago. He definitely needs to work on his plate discipline but he’s just a homer shy of a 30/30 season.
And if Aaron Harang hasn’t established himself as one of the elite starts in baseball, I don’t know what else he can do. He’s the lone shining star on a mediocre pithing staff and he should get more Cy Young votes then he’s going to end up getting.
Ten more games left. I’ll be watching.
Tonight the Reds were eliminated from Playoff contention with their loss to the Cubs. I’m still optimistic they can find a way… It will take rules changes, a call to Miss Cleo and the sacrifice of a goat, but I’m a devoted fan.
I remember the Reds of old – the team that won dramatically late on a game-winning hit in the 9th. The hero was assured of getting the interview and getting a beat-down at home plate like they stole something. It always felt great
The bullpen this year has had its share of those moments this year but not in a good way. This Cubs series stands out in particular but only because the stakes are so high with about 10 games to come. Weathers gave up three-runs the other night in the 9th and tonight the Cubs manufactured a run in the 8th. If the Reds can’t win the World Series, why not send the Cubs? Perhaps they, like the Red Sox Fans a few years ago, can finally shut up about the streak, the long dry spell, the curse, the losing, the sad state of affairs, et.al. Let’s put an end to it and get the Cubs (and Sweet Mary Lou) a ring!
I believe it was Dennis Miller who, when summarizing the types of power in the world, mentioned that the lady at the DMV has all kinds of power in the world. “If I have to be here for eight hours, so do you, pal…”
The Reds have taken on their own flavor of that maxim. To wit: they told the Cardinals these past three days, “If we can’t be in the post season, neither can you.” So the Reds sweep the Red Birds. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer team.
Brandon Phillips is closing in his 30/30 season – just one homer left. If you think about the monster years many Reds have had offensively this year (Dunn, Phillips, Griffey, Josh Hamilton), it almost makes the pitching situation seem even more desperate. The Reds have scored 720 runs and allowed 776. No playoff-bound team has allowed more than 707 (and that’s the Brewers if they actually make it). There needs to be more depth to the rotation next year and man does that bullpen need about three or four people to round it out.
Reds won tonight. Adam Dunn hit a monster grand slam homer (471 feet!) to deep center, had 2 HR and 5 RBI on the night. All of which is great and makes me happy in a nominal way, but relative to this season means jack and squat.
My thoughts tonight are about Ric Ankiel and how he played tonight. Rick Ankiel dropped two balls in the outfield (in the lights?) tonight and had some goofy judgement in the infield. Perhaps it’s just one game. Perhaps the HGH controversy is occupying his mind. But I can’t help but wonder if the mental issues he had when pitching for the Cards, where he couldn’t get the ball to homeplate, are starting to surface in the outfield. Obviously I need a bigger sample size to make such a judgement. But the pattern could be the same: Spectacular early results then sudden inability to execute.
HGH or not, I’m not wishing such a thing on Ankiel; It would be horrible if the mental block came back. It’s just the first thing that came to mind while watching him play tonight. It wasn’t just that he was messing up – it was the tentative way he did it.