About Me

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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

No Deals For the Reds.

The Reds did not make a trade at the deadline that expired at 4:00 pm.

"We will make some adjustments within the system. I don't want to name names," Walt Jockety said during the Reds win over Atlanta.  "I have confidence in this team."

Veteran Bronson Arroyo agrees.

"It's going to be a tight race.  There's no glaring weakness on this team.  It's nice to think we can go front to back with the same 25-30 guys," Arroyo said.

"I have never complained about the personnel I have,"  Dusty Baker said.  "You always want to be better.  I try to get the most out of who I have.  That's part of the challenge of managing.  Besides, if you do complain about who you have and it doesn't work out.  How do you ask the guys in your clubhouse to stay together?  Can you think of the things they would call me behind my back, if I did something like that?"

The Reds were 14-12 in July.  They have had a winning month every month this year.

"It was a tough July," Baker said.  "We were treading water.  We lost some real tough games especially in Philadelphia.  When you're playing well the season goes by fast.  When you're not playing well, it takes forever.  This has been the fastest year, I've had in a while.  It's weird to tear another month off the schedule."

If the Reds can hang on through August, they have a big advantage for September.  They can call up a few pitchers that have performed well during the year, Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney.  Homer Bailey and Aaron Harang will be ready soon.  They have relievers that they have been able to count on in the past at Louisville, Micah Owings, Jared Burton, Daniel Ray Herrera etc.

Division rival St. Louis got another pitcher in Jake Westbrook from the Cleveland Indians but had to give up Ryan Ludwick.  Both Baker and Jockety, weren't sure it helped St. Louis all that much.

"I really like Ludwick.  They gave up a lot.  Didn't he hit 37 home runs a couple years ago?" Baker asked. Yep he hit 37 in 2008 and 22 last season.

"The Cards gave up a pretty good hitter," Jockety said.  "Offense has been one of their problems."

Reds Comeback to Beat Atlanta 5-2

The day started out rough for Bronson Arroyo and the Reds.

Omar Infante, who replaced the injured Martin Prado, doubled to start the game.  Jason Heyward squibbed a ball down the thirdbase line and catcher, Ryan Hanigan was wide to the left with his throw, allowing Infante to score and Heyward to reach secondbase.  Chipper Jones popped out but Brian McCann singled Heyward to third.  Scott Rolen fielded a slow grounder by Troy Glaus and missed the tag on Heyward at third.  Arroyo then issued a bases loaded walk to Eric Hinske.  It was 2-0 Braves.

Arroyo got out of it with a double play.

"That was a weird first inning," Dusty Baker said.  "The key was that Bronson got the double play.  You never know what the key play is until you look back."

"It was a funny inning.  When you have a first inning like that you go into damage control.  I have trouble against the Braves.  I had a feeling the day would go like that," Arroyo said.

To compound the top of the first, Orlando Cabrera doubled with one out but was thrown out at the plate by Heyward on Joey Votto's sharp single.

Arroyo settled in and gave up just two hits and two walks in his next six innings of work.

Scott Rolen hit his first home run since June 28th in the fourth inning. Rolen doubled in the seventh with one out.  Jonny Gomes singled to right but this time thirdbase coach Mark Berry held Rolen.  Jay Bruce, who struck out in the clutch on Friday night, singled to tie the game.  Stubbs , who also fanned to end Friday nights loss, struck out this time a well against Jair Jurrjens.  Hanigan made up for his fielding gaff by drilling a Jurrjens pitch to the gap in right center.  As he approached second, centerfielder Melky Cabrera's throw to the infield slipped and went askance toward right field.  Hanigan circled the bases and the Reds led 5-2.

"I was just glad I got something good to hit finally," Hanigan said.  "I saw the ball get away from him (Cabrera) I knew I had a chance to score.  It was a big run for us.  I've never done anything like that in the big leagues."

Arthur Rhodes and Nick Masset protected the lead through the seventh and eighth.

Francisco Cordero pitched a relatively stress-free ninth for his 28th save in 34 chances.  He fanned old foe Brooks Conrad and Heyward looking.

"You have to live and die with these things.  Nobody is perfect," Cordero said.  "We bounce back.  That's what winning teams do."

Reds Remind Cox of the 90's Braves

In the late 80's the Atlanta Braves finished dead last in the National League Western Division.  They lost 106 games in 1988 under Russ Nixon.

Bobby Cox took over in 1991 and the Braves went from worst to first.  They had a productive farm system and three pitchers that struggled in the 80's that began to produce.  Tom Glavine was 10-12 in 1990, Steve Avery was 21 years old, John Smoltz was 24-years old and had a winning record, 14-13 for the first time.
They had a couple of young outfielders, David Justice 25 and Ron Gant 26.  They also had Ryan Klesko, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones coming through the farm system.

Does that sound familiar?

It does to Cox.

"This Reds team reminds me a lot of our team then, especially the pitching," Cox said.  "Then there's Votto and Bruce.  That Votto is something.  It's fun to watch him play.  He's a real pro."

The manager, who is retiring after this season, likes the Reds two young outfielders, Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce..

"I like them both. They're young. They just have to get their feet on the ground that's all," Cox said.  "They have talent.  Stubbs how many homers does he have, 13?  He can runs like a deer. Cover the ground in the outfield."

Reds general manager Walt Jockety met with the media.  The Reds made no deals.

"I have confidence in this team," Jockety said.  "There were some deals that we were working on that fell apart.  The guys we wanted weren't traded so, maybe it wasn't that serious.  They wanted some of our young players.  We weren't going to do that.  Over the years, I've learned that you have to be patient,  so you don't make a deal that you'd be sorry for later.  One guy I learned from said, 'some of your best deals are the ones you don't make'"

Friday, July 30, 2010

Votto's Bat Wasted in Another Late Inning Win By Atlanta, 6-4

The National League leader in batting average and home runs did not disappoint the standing-room-only crowd at Great American Ball Park but Francisco Cordero could not complete his second inning and the Braves.

Joey Votto had three hits in four tries, including his 27th home run, and his 71st and 72nd RBI to raise his average to .327.

Scott Rolen had a pair of hits and a run batted in.  Rolen doubled following Votto's eighth inning home run with a double.  He took a chance and advanced to third on a shallow fly to right to put the winning run on thirdbase with one out.  Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs could not get him in however.

"Jay is just over anxious," Baker said.  "We had chances to win before Cordero came in.  Jay needs to be more patient and get a better pitch to hit.  We played a good game and came up short."

Johnny Cueto came into his start with victories for his last four decisions.  He had allowed just five earned runs in his last four starts but floundered against the Braves.

He allowed 10 hits and never had a 1-2-3 inning before being removed with one out in the sixth, trailing 4-3.  He hit opposing pitcher, Kris Medlen to load the bases with no one out in the sixth.  He got Votto's closet pursuer for the batting title, Martin Prado to hit into a force, that was nearly a double play.  Bill Bray worked out of the jam with no further damage.

Medlen left the game with a right forearm contusion.

Votto's lead off home run tied the game in the eighth.

The Reds bullpen was masterful again.  Logan Ondrusek, Nick Masset, Arthur Rhodes and Francisco Cordero kept Atlanta off the board into the ninth.  Cordero got a chance to face pinch hitter, Brooks Conrad again.

Conrad hit a grand slam off Cordero to beat the Reds on May 20, a game in which the same Reds bullpen squandered a 9-3 ninth inning lead.  The home run ball grazed off Lance Nix's glove to leak out of the park.

To allow Cordero into the game, Dusty Baker, made a double switch.  Chris Heisey replaced Bruce in right.  To thwart Deja Vue, Heisey robbed Conrad this time.  He timed his leap and caught the ball to end the ninth.

Heisey singled in his at bat with one out and advanced to second but the Reds failed to plate him, taking the game to extra innings.

Baker was asked if he thought of using Heisey to bat for Bruce with a lefthander on the mound.

"No, I needed Heisey for later,"  Baker said.  "Bruce has been hitting lefthanders better. (Bruce is hitting .250 against lefties and Heisey .163).  Besides you want to build confidence there.  You don't want to sub one young guy for another."

Cordero continued.  He walked Melky Cabrera and Prado in between outs.  Jason Heyward worked the count to 3-2 and dumped a blooper in front of a diving Jonny Gomes.  Gomes deflected the ball toward right center both runners scored with the jump from a full count.

Heyward a rookie had a better approach than Bruce.

"I had a good idea of what I wanted to do.  Just be patient and not try to do to much.  He threw me a good pitch before the hit.  It was a good 3-2 pitch and I just got a piece of it."

Billy Wagner took the mound for Atlanta.  He struck Votto out but Rolen hit his second double and Gomes was hit by a pitch.  Pinch hitter, Miguel Cairo, flied out to deep center.  Stubbs fouled off a 3-2 pitch then struck out swinging.

"We played a good game," Baker said.  "We just came up short."

The Reds have played the Braves three times this season.  The Braves have won all three in their last at bat, two in extra innings.

Giving Votto a Rest Pays Off

Dusty Baker planned a rest for Joey Votto for the last game of the series with the Washington Nationals.

His reasoning, Votto did not get a break like the others did for the All-Star game.  He also noticed that Votto's bat was a little slow.  The Reds had the longest road trip of the season, with four games in Chicago, three in New York and four more in Philadelphia.  After a Sunday game in Philadelphia, Votto along with Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen and Arthur Rhodes, flew across country to Anaheim California.  Upon arrival media days, workouts and the game itself ensued.  Then another long flight back to Cincinnati.

The travel was bad enough but the trip came during the hottest weather on the east coast in years.

Rhodes did not pitch in the All-Star game.  Rolen got a day off.  Then Phillips was rested on Tuesday against Washington.  Votto got the day off on Thursday before the recent trip to Houston and Milwaukee.

Some sports talk host were critical.  "You have to try to win that series," Lance McCallister said on the air.

The problem is in a pennant race, like the Reds find themselves in, there is never a good time.  Yes a win in the last game of that series would have meant the Reds won the series, still it is just one of 162 games.  There is no guarantee that Votto in the lineup would have helped the Reds solve Livan Hernandez, who pitched a complete game.  That afternoon game followed the Reds facing the hard throwing phenom, Stephen Strasburg.

So many fans reason that the players make millions of dollars to play a game.  What they fail to realize is that no matter how much a person is paid, the physical limits to not increase.  The modern players have the luxury of staying in shape all year but that does not mean they are super human.  In the old days, most players needed winter jobs but since most of them did the public couldn't tell the drop off in performance when fatigue set in.

I could run three miles without being paid or have someone pay me $10,000 to run three miles and I would be just as tired.  The high salary argument is meaningless.

But Dusty Baker has been there.  He observes more than stats.  He also had to convince Votto he needed time on the pine.  Votto does not like to sit.

Players love to play for Baker.  One of the reasons is that he pays a lot of attention to match ups.  He gets the best out of players by picking spots for them to play and also to rest.

In nine games before Votto's day off, the Reds firstbaseman was 7-for-32 with one home run and four runs batted in.  Since the day off through Thursday, Votto is 14-for-28 with three home runs and six RBI.

Even the numbers back up the decision.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Washington Beat Up Volquez in 7-1 Win

Edinson Volquez could not duplicate his first outing of the year.

He walked four in 2 1/3 innings as the Nationals scored six runs off him.

Livan Hernandez used the lead to his advantage to shut down the Reds with one run on seven singles.  He did not walk a batter.

"His fastball was up and out of the strike zone and his change up is usually in the dirt.  If you can't throw your fastball for strikes they won't swing at the change up," Dusty Baker said.

Hernandez beat the Reds in Cincinnati for the first time in 10 years.

"When Hernandez gets a lead, he knows what to do with it.  He can throw any pitch in any count," Baker said.

Adam Dunn had just one hit in his return to Cincinnati and that was a two-run home run in the third inning off Volquez.

"Volquez has great stuff but he walked a lot of guys so you could zone him in,"  Dunn said.  The former Reds number two draft pick tries to treat the return the same as any other game.  "I don't think I try harder but maybe subconsciously I do," Dunn said.

For Volquez the bad outing is part of the process for getting back to action after elbow surgery.

"I didn't pitch in spring training," Volquez said.  "I felt good but I could not find the strike zone.  The only thing I can do is get ready for my next start."

The Reds Sign RHP Jason Isringhausen

Cincinnati signed former St. Louis Cardinal closer Jason Isringhausen to a minor league contract and assigned him to Louisville.

Isringhausen had elbow surgery last July about the same time as Edinson Volquez.  He threw a bullpen for Reds general manager, Walt Jockety and Dusty Baker.

"We were pleasantly surprised," Baker said.  "Maybe by him working out on his own, his body was able to heal naturally."

Isringhausen was once a New York Met phenom but his last job in the major league was with Tampa Bay.  As St. Louis Cardinals closer in 2004 he led the National League with 47 saves.  That team played the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, falling in four straight.

He last pitched on June 13, 2009 for Tampa Bay.  He logged just eight innings for the Rays with no decisions and no saves.

The 37-year old righthander has 293 career saves.  

Ramon Hernandez Reinstated Miller Assigned Outright to Louisville

Ramon Hernandez right knee has healed.  He was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list and will give Joey Votto a rest by manning first base.

Corky Miller was assigned outright to Louisville which means he needs to clear waivers.  Any team can claim his contract.  If they don't the Reds keep his services.

"It was a tough decision," Dusty Baker said.  "He played well.  On the selfish side, you hope he clears waivers.  If he is claimed you are happy for him.  He really improved as a hitter."

Baker has been trying to rest Votto since he didn't get an All-Star break.  Hernandez covered for Votto at firstbase last season while Votto was out of action.

"Ramon has been working at firstbase the last couple days to get ready," Baker said.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Strasburg - Arroyo Matchup Nationals win 8-5

Stephan Strasburg's first game in Cincinnati was played before a sellout crowd.  Two thousand wise straight A students waited to cash in their prizes for the hyped matchup.  There were more runs scored than expected.

"I was just ok," Strasburg said.  "I made some mistakes."

The Reds home park plays small but it didn't bother the rookie from San Diego State.

"You should have seen some of the fields that I played on in college," Strasburg said.

He left the game after 5 2/3 innings with a 7-3 lead.  Miguel Cairo singled with runners on second and third to end his night.

He should have been pitching out of the windup but pitched out of the stretch instead.

"We talked to him about it," Washington manager Jim Riggleman said.  "Against the leagues best hitting ballclub in this park he did pretty good."

Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker new it was uphill but his team battled back.

"He is going to be a good pitcher for a long time," Baker said.  "He throws 98 easy.  Most guys that throw that hard put a lot of effort in it.  We swung the bats pretty well against a good pitcher.

Arroyo had won five of his last six decisions and allowed just three earned runs in his last three starts.  Strasburg started the game with a 2.03 ERA and a 4-2 record in eight starts since his promotion to the big leagues on June 8.

The Reds scratched him for a run in the third inning to start the scoring.  With two out, Brandon Phillips tripled and Orlando Cabrera singled.

But Arroyo walked Adam Dunn, who is hitless in the series.  Dunn eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Roger Bernadina.

Christian Guzman hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning.

"It was right where I wanted the pitch, middle of  chest inside but he pulled his hands back," Arroyo said.  "We figured it would be a low scoring game and I wanted the ball back but sometimes they do their jobs and you don't."

Washington added four more the next at bat.

Ryan Zimmerman's second double of the game opened the frame.  Josh Willingham walked on a 3-2 pitch and Bernadina singled to load the bases with no out.  Arroyo got Ivan Rodriguez on a fly to shallow center. Ian Desmond hit a smash that hit off Cairo's glove.

"Miggy missed that by inches," Baker said.  "He catches that ball and the pitcher is up with two outs and we can get out of it."

Strasburg sacrificed the runners to second and third.  Bill Bray replaced Arroyo.

Nyjer Morgan singled both runners home.

The Reds came alive in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs but scored just one on a groundout by Joey Votto.  They closed to within two on Chris Heisey's two-out pinch hit single in the eighth, after Ryan Hanigan missed a two-run home run by inches.  It was so close the Reds fireworks went off prematurely.  Hanagan walked but didn't score.

Willie Harris hit a home run in the ninth off Arthur Rhodes to end the scoring.

"We need to have better pitch location number one," Baker said.  "We had opportunities but we have to get more runs in number two."

Owings Sent To Louisville to Work

The Cincnnati Reds optioned Micah Owings to Louisville.

Owings misplaced the plate in Tuesday's outing.  He had not pitched for 16 days and the rust showed.

"He needs innings.  You will rust out your arm before you wear it out.  It is no one's fault.  Our starters have been going deep into games and you have to save your long man," Dusty Baker said.

The Reds recalled Carlos Fisher.

Homer Bailey pitched a simulated game.

When told that the batters that faced him said that he had Cy Young stuff, Bailey replied, "That's like counting your chickens before you have chickens."

The sore-shouldered righthander reported that his fastball and curve were good but his slider was not.

"I couldn't put the slider where I wanted to," Bailey said.  "That's usually the last pitch that I get back."

Ramon Hernandez will be activated before the game Thursday.  He will spell Joey Votto at firstbase.

"I rested Brandon (Phillips) last night," Baker said.  "I need give Joey a rest.  The guys that went to the All-Star game didn't get a break."

The move also gives Hernandez, who is out with a sore knee a game to get his legs under him.

"We will have Hanigan catch tomorrow.  Ramon should be ready to catch Cueto Saturday in Houston," Baker said.

Bailey is pitching in a rehab assignment in Dayton on Monday.

Strasburg Starts as Leake Watches

Stephen Strasburg and Mike Leake were amateur teammates in Southen California.

"We were on the same team for a couple months,"  Leake said after his seventh victory.

Strasburg was the first player taken in the draft last June.  Leake was chosen by the Reds seven picks later.

But it was Leake that made the major leagues first.  He won the fifth starter job out of spring training to become the 21st player since the draft started in 1965 to go straight to the big leagues.

Strasberg struck out 14 Pittsburgh batters in his debut on June 8 after 11 minor league starts.

The pair missed facing each other by one day.  Leake won his seventh game in eight decisions, sporting a 3.45 earned run average.

Strasburg, who draws red hot Bronson Arroyo as his mound opponent, is 4-2 with a 2.03 earned run average.

"It would have been fun to face him," Leake said.  "It would be more funs for the fans and the media than the two of us."

Reds Hang on For Leake Beat Washington 8-7

Twice this season the Reds built rookie Mike Leake a six-run lead only to have a melt down.

In Atlanta, Leake left the game after six innings leading 9-3.  Mike Lincoln pitched two scoreless innings but the Braves scored seven times in the ninth to shock the Reds.  Last Friday in Philadelphia, Leake pitched into the ninth.  His bid for his first career complete game went up in smoke.  He allowed a bloop single to Ryan Howard that scored the second run of the game for the Phillies.  He then allowed a three-run home run to Greg Dobbs and the Reds bullpen completed the collapse.  The Phillies eventually won in the 11th inning.

Leake pitched five innings of one-run baseball.  He singled in a run himself.  Then it rained for two hours and 40 minutes.  Leake could not return.  The Reds led 5-1 and added three runs in the bottom of the fifth as play resumed.  They led by seven, 8-1

"We came out and padded the lead," Baker said.  "It's a good thing we did.  It seems like no lead is safe.  The back end of our bullpen did a good job of saving it for Mike."

Micah Owings, who hadn't pitched in 16 days, showed rust.  He walked two and hit one batter.  Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run home run.  Dusty Baker brought on Bill Bray and he walked a batter.  Then Michael Morse, who tied a game with a big hit on the Reds' visit to Washington emptied the bases with a triple and scored on a hit by Ian Desmond to put Washington within a run at 8-7

Nick Masset, Arthur Rhodes and Francisco Cordero pitched three innings of shut down baseball to nail down   Leake's seventh victory.  Cordero picked up his 26th save.

"It was close but we pulled it out.  When you've got the ball in the hands of our seventh, eighth and ninth inning guys, you believe in them.  I wasn't concerned.  If it happens it happens.  It was a nice win."

"Games like this really test your heart," Baker said.  "Our guys are fighting and battling.  Nothing is easy."

In spite of the meltdowns that cost him and the team wins, Leake is very calm at least on the outside.  In his first season without throwing a pitch in the minor leagues, he is taking the game in stride.

"You learn something every outing," Leake said.  "You gain confidence as you go."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Johnny Be Good Again. Cueto Stifles Washington 7-2

Johnny Cueto got a little rest in the middle of his six inning stint.

He drove in two runs in the Reds four run second inning but gave them back in the third.  After the Reds batted rain fell for 42 minutes.  Cueto regrouped and struck out the side in the fourth.

"The rain delay was good for me," Cueto said.  "I was struggling.  I was overthrowing.  I came in and threw 30 pitches during the delay.  I fixed my delivery."

Cueto did not pitch for 12 days because of the all-star break.

"It was good for me but I was a little strong," Cueto said.

"He's learning.  He's learning to back off and take the air out of the ball some," Dusty Baker said.  "He's winning while he's learning."

Jonny Gomes hit a home run off Washington starter, J.D. Martin.

With Scott Rolen nursing a hamstring injury, Miguel Cairo did a Rolen impression by crushing a 438 foot home run to end Martin's night.  Cairo added an RBI single in the eighth.

"He got a big two out hit and a monster home run.  He's been a Godsend to this team.  He's a baseball player.  He's fundamentally sound and does things correct most of the time."

"There's only one Scott Rolen," Cairo said.  "I just got to do my job.  We've got to be ready to play," Cairo said.

Earlier this year he filled in for Joey Votto at firstbase and the Reds kept winning.  Cairo has played on championship teams with St. Louis, the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies last year.

"I've been doing this a long time," Cairo said.  "You have to come in everyday expecting to play.  If you're not in the lineup, you have to be ready to pinch hit or do the little things to help the team win."

Drew Stubbs continues to drive in runs in spite of a subpar batting average.  He laced a two run double in the Reds second inning to start the scoring.  Stubbs has 48 RBI hitting mainly from the seventh slot in the lineup. He had three hits on the night to push his average above the .250 mark (.251).

Cueto improved to 9-2.  He has won his last three decisions and allowed just five earned runs over his last six starts.

Logan Ondrusek, who has not allowed a run in his last 13 appearances (14 1/3 innings), Nick Masset and Francisco Cordero finished the game.  Masset has a 2.67 ERA in his last 34 appearances (9er-30 1/3 innings).

Rolen Out With Hamstring

In addition to the flu, Scott Rolen suffered a pulled hamstring on Friday.

He felt it burn when he tried to advance to third on Jay Bruce's fly to right in the ninth inning on Friday.

Rolen met with the Reds medical staff and received a cortisone injection.  He will be out for a couple days.  The Reds may have to put him on the disabled list if he is out any longer than that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

No Knock On Wood, Reds Fall to Cook and Rockies 1-0

Anybody got a horseshoe?

Travis Wood was brilliant again.  He avoided the Colorado bats until Chris Iannetta got good wood on 2-2 pitch  in the sixth inning.  Wood allowed nothing until the fourth.  Two singles in that inning represented more hits than he allowed in the previous 12 frames.

"He wasn't quite as sharp as he was against Philadelphia (Wood was three outs from a perfect game) but the pitch to Iannetta was a good one.  It was a changeup away and he went and got it," Baker said.

"I was trying to stay back," Iannetta said.  "Wood has a lot of movement on all his pitches.  He's always around the plate."

Wood had no regrets about the pitch selection.

"Would I have changed it? Now knowing that we lost 1-0 I might have changed it but he put a good swing on a good pitch," Wood said.

Wood has only allowed five earned runs in his four major league starts.  The Reds have scored two or fewer runs in three of his four starts and none in his last two.  In his other start, he was the emergency starter on three days rest and ran out of gas in the fifth inning.  He had to be removed on out short of qualifying for a victory in New York.

"It is going to happen," Wood said of the lack of runs to work with.  "We're a good hitting team but we're going to have some slumps.  We were scratching and clawing to get a run.  Today we fell a little short.  You can't worry about it.  You have to take one hitter at a time and give your team a chance to win."

Meanwhile, Aaron Cook, from nearby Hamilton was winless on the road.  He needed a change of luck.  Cook was 0-5 in road games.  He allowed just six harmless hits and was saved by a diving stop by Jonathan Herrera in the third inning that saved a run.

"Cook is very tough when he's on," Baker said.  "Today it was pitching and defense on their side."

"It was a matter of making my pitches," Cook said.  "I didn't think about my record on the road.  We take things one game at a time."

Still Cook is comfortable in his hometown and is 3-0 lifetime against the team he once cheered for.

"It always feels like home because I grew up here,"  Cook said.  "But the mound is still 60' 6" from home plate. It definitely was an important game."

The Reds threatened again in the ninth against Houston Street.  Drew Stubbs singled with one out. The count went to 2-1 on pinch hitter Ryan Hanigan.  Dusty Baker started Stubbs.

"It was 2-1 and Street is really quick to the plate.  He is like 1.2 (seconds) to the plate.  It is almost impossible to steal on him if the catcher can throw at all.  They had to throw a strike," Baker said.

Street is know for his slider and went with it for his final eight pitches, striking out Chris Heisey and Brandon Phillips to save the game for the Rockies.

"I was going to make them hit it," Street said.

"He only gave Heisey one pitch to hit, the 1-0 pitch," Baker said.  "It was a slider up.  Some guys want it so badly.  They want to be the hero.  They end up beat."

The last three Reds losses have been 1-0.  It is the fifth time this season the Reds have suffered 1-0 losses.

"They are killing us right now," Baker said.  "All of them we had opportunities with runners on third and less than two outs.  We just have to give them more time.  That's part of the situation when you have some young players.  We just got to keep preaching and talking.  They'll get it."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Volquez Brilliant and Reds Rock Colorado 8-1

Edinson Volquez nightmare is over.

After a 50-games suspension for taking a fertility drug that tested as a performance enhancing drug and rehabilitating a repaired right elbow for 11 months, Volquez made a highly successful return to the mound.

The first batter he faced doubled and scored one out later but the next 5 2/3 innings he was brilliant.  He allowed one hit and two walks, striking out nine the rest of the way.

"I was excited," Volquez said.  "I was overthrowing in the first inning then I settled down in the second and third."

His return had the effect of a blockbuster trade and only cost the Reds the services of an already injured Mike Lincoln.  Texas can have Cliff Lee.

"He didn't look any different to me," Baker said.  "Getting a productive Volquez is like a major trade.  It gives us a lift.  The guys are elated to have him back."

Volquez developed a better curve ball in his time off.

"The last two years I didn't throw too many curves.  Tonight I thought my curve was better than my change up.  Now I have two more pitches," Volquez said.

For the near future the Reds starting rotation feature a pair of pitchers that burst on to the major league scene in 2008, Volquez and Johnny Cueto and two rookies, Mike Leake and Travis Wood with aged Bronson Arroyo at 10-4 the only battle tested veteran.  The rotation is so young, Dusty Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price don't know whether to hold meetings to go over hitters or pack a mini-van and drive them to a Dairy Queen for a cone.

"I had never seen him throw live," pitching coach Bryan Price said.  "I've watched a lot of video on him and in bullpens, but the one thing you don't know until you see them is how they compete.  Do they pick at the corner, or shy away from the good hitters?  He showed unbelievable confidence.  He seems to be able to miss the bat. I don't know if that's by design but he can get a strikeout when he needs to."

Another Diaper Dandy, (sorry Dick Vitale), Drew Stubbs provided the offense.  He hit two home runs and drove in three, his second multi-home run game this month.  He hit three in Wrigley Field on July 4.

Jonny Gomes and Brandon Phillips also homered for the home side.  Phillips hit his with two runners on.

"A lot of people are going to be nervous to play us," Phillips said.  "I'm enjoying the ride. It was great to see Stubby swinging the bat well."

The Reds had only five hits but Jorge De La Rosa walked five to aid Cincinnati.

Two relievers, rookies, Logan Ondrusek and Jordan Smith battled through runny noses of their own to finish off the Rockies.

"There are a lot of nice stories here," Price said.

Volquez Makes His First Start After Surgery

2008 All-Star pitcher Edinson Volquez was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list and will start tonight against the Colorado Rockies.

To make room on the 40-man roster, Mike Lincoln was transfered from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.

Matt Maloney was optioned to Louisville in the International League.

"He will probably have some anxiety," Dusty Baker said.  "Sometimes when you've been shooting for a goal for a long time, you get anxious when you finally get there.  I imagine after the first couple hitters that will go away."

Volquez built up to 95 pitches in his rehab starts so the Reds aren't too concerned about how far he goes.

"It depends on how stressful his innings are," Baker said.  "It is not hero time right out of the gate.  He has to be honest with us."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Second Half Rebound Reds Beat Colorado 3-2

Four tough losses in Philadelphia before the All-Star break, did nothing to discourage the Reds.

Dusty Baker told the media at the Thursday workout that the "best is yet to come".

Brandon Phillips came back, all smiles from his All-Star experience.  He didn't get a hit in the Classic but took pride in his "deke" that helped the National League get out of trouble.  He took delight on air when Scott Rolen went from first to third on a single that set up the winning rally.

Sometimes criticized for not always playing hard, Phillips took the reigns and backed up the superb pitching of Bronson Arroyo.

He led the game off with a single.  Phillips then doubled to led off the third when Colorado catcher, Miguel Olivo tried to pick him off after a missed bunt by Orlando Cabrera.  The thirdbaseman was charging and Phillips seized the opportunity.  Cabrera drove him home with a ground ball.  It snapped a streak of 23 scoreless innings by the Cincinnati offense.

"Brandon was picked off but he knew that Olivo threw it in the dirt,"  Baker said.  "It was a big play.  Orlando started yelling right away."

Joey Votto, a fellow All-Star, hit a bloop double and crossed the plate when Jonny Gomes singled.

Phillips singled again leading off the fifth and scored on Cabrera's double.  Phillips, Cabrera and Gomes were running on fumes going into the four-day break.  The team endured 103 degree weather in New York and Philadelphia and recent Cy Young winners in Johan Santana, Roy Halladay and Cole Hammels.

Phillips was 1-for-19, Cabrera 2-for-19 and Gomes 3-for-16 but three hits came in one game.

"They didn't get on base much at the tail end of the road trip," Baker said.  "Tonight their bats were a little quicker."

"I needed a break," Phillips said.  "I started to get tired at the end.  I felt like Superman out there tonight."

Arroyo went through the first seven innings with little trouble.  The only baserunner, Jonathan Herrera, reached on an infield hit.  He was erased on a double play.

Colorado scored with two outs in the seventh when Carlos Gonzalez singled and Jason Giambi doubled him home.  Olivo hit a home run to left that the umpires reviewed to see if a fan reached onto the field to make the catch.  He did not and the home run stood.

Arroyo ran out of gas.  Ian Stewart walked and Clint Barmes punched a single to right.  Dusty Baker took the  ball and handed it to All-Star, Arthur Rhodes.

"Sometimes with a starting pitcher, taking a couple of days off is not conducive to having control," Arroyo said.  "I felt good.  I was hitting my spots.  We got the lead and was able to hold it.  We got started on the right foot for the second half."

Rhodes walked pinch hitter Ryan Spilbourghs on a close 3-2 pitch.  Dexter Fowler, who earlier robbed Jay Bruce of a three-run home run, flied out to shallow right.  He caught Herrera looking at a called third strike.  With the crowd cheering harder than they did for the 1990 Reds, he fanned Gonzalez with some high heat to get out of the jam.

"This team responds to crowds," Baker said.  "I've been places where the 10th player really affects the other team."

"This is a baseball city," Phillips said.  "When you win you come and watch.  I'm the same way.  You can still be a fan but when the team I root for is terrible, I wouldn't come out and watch."

"I think it's time for the fans to come out," Arroyo said.  "I know money isn't abundant but having fans come out will help keep this team together."

The Reds are honoring the 1990 team on its 20th reunion since the wire-to-wire team won the World Championship.  The crowd of 37,188 was in a nostalgic mood.  More than 6,000 bought tickets just before the game.

Thrill a minute, Francisco Cordero, nailed it down, giving Arroyo a 10-4 record.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baker Says the Best Is Yet to Come

The first half of the season is in the book and the Reds lead the National League Central Division by one game.

When the schedule came out, the just completed road trip was seen as a huge obstacle.

Cincinnati was on the road for four games in Chicago, three in New York and four against the two-time National League Champion, Philadelphia Phillies.

"I don't think I've ever played the first half of a month gone without a home game,"  Baker said.  "This month is half gone and we haven't played one home game."

The Reds lost all four in Philadelphia three in extra innings, including a 1-0 11 inning loss followed by a 1-0 loss on Sunday.

The Reds pitching was outstanding but they were up against a couple of Cy Young Winners in Roy Halladay and Cole Hammels.  They were also shutout in 103 degree heat by Johan Santana on the way to Phillie.  The Reds hitters were gassed.  Although the Reds didn't score for the last 21 innings of the first half, the pitchers held a good Philadelphia offense to two runs in the same span, including a near perfect game by rookie, Travis Wood.

"We had the heat and traveling and four straight day games.  Sure man we would have loved to win a couple of those games (in Philadelphia), we were in position to win.  It's behind us now.  We have to look forward."

The Reds still held the lead over the Cardinals in spite of the sweep.

"We have to stay healthy and we have to pitch.  We need to continue to play good defense and get some clutch hits.  We've been pretty good at it but you saw in the last few games that we had runners out there but we have to find a way to get them in," Baker said.

"At this point just play boys," Baker continued.  "Our best days are still ahead of us.  We have a lot of players who haven't been in this position before.  Getting Edinson (Volquez) back is like making a major trade.  We have to lean on each other.  It's no longer veterans and kids at this point.  I remember in '74 with the Dodgers.  I wasn't there but I talked to Davey Lopes.  He said it was the young players who carried them down the stretch."

The Reds are looking for heroes, no matter how old or established they are.

"There are going to be some unlikely heroes here.  It is getting down to hero time.  There is territory here that these guys have never been in before.  Once you've been in it, you are better in the future.  I remember when the Braves were starting there run.  Even though I was with they Giants, I rooted for the Dodgers to win (1991) because I knew once those guys got the taste in their mouth they would be tough for a long time."

Arroyo and Volquez Will Start the Second Half

Bronson Arroyo will be the starting pitcher on Friday as the first place Reds begin the second half of the season.

Arroyo stayed in Cincinnati and threw long toss on the side Tuesday and Wednesday.

 "We don't have to do a whole lot to stay in contention," Arroyo said.  "Our offense has been good.  Our starting pitching has been good.  The bullpen has always done what we wanted but Bill Bray is here now and gives us another lefthander, who is throwing the ball well."

Edinson Volquez will start against Colorado on Saturday.

Volquez served his 50-game suspension for use of performance enhancing drugs.  The performance that he was trying to improve was in the bedroom and not on the mound.  He had consulted a doctor in Cincinnati last December and his family physician in the Dominican Republic.

He and his wife were trying to start a family.  "The doctor prescribed it," Volquez said.  "Some people believe me and some people don't but it is behind me now."

Also behind the righthander that won 17 games in 2008 is a long road back from elbow surgery.

"I think my arm is better now.  I have more control," Volquez said.

After Saturday the starting pitching is up in the air.  Homer Bailey is a long way from ready and Aaron Harang is a little stiff yet according to Dusty Baker.

No decision has been made on Harang as far as a rehab assignment.

"The longer he is out, the less sharp he's going to be.  He's still a little stiff.  He probably won't make his next start," Baker said.

No roster move has been made yet.  The Reds did sign righthanded veteran Russ Springer to a minor league contract.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Steinbrenner and A Little Perspective

George Steinbrenner passed away at 6:30 this morning. 

He lived 80 years and nine days.  During that time from 1930 through 2010 baseball was played every year.  Guess what?  It will be played for the next 80 years and nine days.

Did he have some influence during his time as the Yankee owner?  Yes.  But lets not deify him as the network machines go into typical overhype.

He was born to wealthy parents in Cleveland.  He did not invent the game.  He did not "save" the Yankees and as famed New York columnist and all around realist, Jimmy Breslin, pointed out, "He did not play firstbase."

All day long, the networks (ESPN, Fox) made the claim that Steinbrenner turned the Yankees around.  Let's look at it.  From 1956 to 1964 the Yankees finished first in nine of 10 seasons.  Then they had eight subpar years from 1964 to 1973 when he was part of a group that bought the Yankees.

They were a middle of the road team for four years then the draft (beginning in 1966) began to show results through the Yankee farm system.  The 1970 Yankees won 93 games.  Steinbrenner had nothing to do with it.  They hovered around the 80 win mark for three seasons with players he inherited and the team broke through in 1976, too early for him to affect the team much.

Here is where he caught his big break, free agency.  Curt Flood and Marvin Miller had a larger influence on the game by pushing free agency through.  It was a break for Steinbrenner, yet he presided over 12 full season of mediocrity before the Yankees started to take advantage of its built in financial advantages, like the largest TV market in the world. 

Steinbrenner was given credit for the $500 million TV deal with MSG Network.  The truth is that any one of us could have closed that deal with that market in our pockets.  It was like having oil discovered in your backyard just at the time car sales boomed.  He was in the right place at the right time.  Still it took him over a decade to find a way to make it payoff.

It is a no brainer to spend your way to championships, if you have a full billion dollars more in revenue to work with than your nearest competitor.

As Jim Bouton, accurately said in his book, Ball Four, "Steinbrenner was born on thirdbase and thought he hit a triple."  He did nothing that any of us couldn't have done, given the same resources.

At least Pete Rose, had to earn his way into a position to become a convicted felon.  Steinbrenner was born with the financial where withall to become a convicted felon by shear inherited wealth.

Let's not pretend that he was larger than life because he did goofy things to get himself ink and camera time in the media capital of the world.  He had his some success in the last 20 years sure, but he did not invent the system.  He was just in a unique position to take advantage of events that he did not control.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Reds Reach Highwater Mark at Midpoint of the Season,12-0

The Cincinnati Reds are 11 games above the .500 mark with pitching help on the way.

The Reds blasted the overpaid, Chicago Cubs, 12-0 at Wrigley Field this afternoon.  The Cubs helped with six walks in a nine-run seventh inning but the Reds pitching was brilliant again.

Bronson Arroyo won his eighth game, throwing six shutout innings.  He could have gone longer but Logan Ondrusek and Micah Owings needed to throw and they also shutdown the Cubs.

This is the farthest that the Reds have been above .500 since 2006 when they made a run at the division crown before a disasterous west coast trip foiled them again.  They are in first place this late for the first time since, 1999.  They are exactly half way through the season. 

Joey Votto and Scott Rolen both have stats equal to or better than the Cardinals great Albert Pujols.

Votto is hitting .314, he leads the National League along with Pujols with 19 home runs, he has driven home 57 runs and has a slugging percentage of .579.

Pujols is hitting .309 with 19 home runs and 58 RBI and slugs at a .569 rate.

Rolen is hitting .302 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI.  His slugging percentage is .576.

Yet so many Reds fan want Dusty Baker to walk Pujols every time he comes to the plate.  Thank God the manager is so much smarter than the fans, Marty Brennaman, Hal McCoy and any 10 sports talk hosts.

With all the credit that Walt Jockety is getting so far, lets not forget the production the Reds have gotten from the 2005 draft that Dan O'Brian supervised, Jay Bruce (1), Travis Wood (2), Sam LeCure (4), Jeff Stevens (6), Carlos Fisher (11), Adam Rosales (12) and Logan Ondrusek (13) have all made contributions to this current team.  Stevens was traded to Cleveland to bring Brandon Phillips to the Reds.  Stevens pitched for the Cubs this afternoon.

Wayne Krivsky brought Phillips and Arroyo to town and drafted, Drew Stubbs (1), Jordan Smith (6), Justin Turner (7) (traded for Ramon Hernandez),  Josh Roenicke (10) (traded for Rolen) and Chris Heisey (17).  Sean Watson (2), Chris Valaika (3) and Danny Dorn (32) will be Reds in the near future.

Krivsky also pulled the trigger on the Josh Hamilton trade to bring Edinson Volquez and Daniel Ray Herrera, who was a sleeper that has paid off and will continue to.

Volquez may be making his final rehab start for the Louisville Bats against Indianapolis tomorrow.  A healthy Volquez would mean that Jockety can stand pat and keep all of the Reds prospects at the trading deadline.