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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yonder Alonso Is Joining the Reds

If Aroldis Chapman wasn't exciting enough, the Reds first pick in the 2007 draft Yonder Alonso will be with the team tomorrow.

The Reds will also recall, RHP Carlos Fisher.  They purchased the contract of C Corky Miller.
To make room for Miller, RHP Russ Springer was placed on the 60-day disabled list.

Chapmania Aside Reds Distill Brewers 8-4 Lead Now 7 Games

With the Cuban Missle, Aroldis Chapman in town, who knew the fastest the ball would travel was after Aaron Harang threw the ball.

Harang gave up eight hits in four innings.  All of them left the bat at a high rate of speed with the exception of Prince Fielder's RBI duck fart in the first inning.  Even the outs were smoked.

However, the Brewers needed help to score two runs in Harang's last inning.

Sam LeCure got the win with two good innings of relief.

The Reds pounded Milwaukee starter, Yovani Gallardo.

Drew Stubbs walked to start the game and Chris Valaika, making his fourth start replacing injured Brandon Phillips, shot a single to center.  Reds MVP candidate, Joe Votto hit a screamer past Prince Fielder and down the rightfield line to score them both.

In the fourth inning Scott Rolen led off with double and Jonny Gomes, a last minute replacement for Jay Bruce ,who had pain in his right side, hit a home run to the moon deck in rightfield.

"It is no secret the Reds are playing great ball," said the low key Milwaukee manager Ken Macha.  "Look at that inning.  I'm sure if you asked Gomes he was trying to go the other way to get Rolen to third.  Then Chris Heisey hit a double and (Ryan) Hanigan hit the ball the other way to get him to third."

Paul Janish couldn't reach an outside and low curveball on a squeeze play and the rally died but the point was made.

"They are playing unselfish, good team ball," Macha said.

Harang had a high pitch count to start the fourth as it was.  He compounded it by walking Fielder after Ryan Braun opened with a hard line single.  Dusty Baker pulled his starter, making his first start since going on the DL on July 5th.

Lecure got Casey McGehee on a fly to left.  Former Red Chris Dickerson lined a hit to left.  Gomes trying to make a quick throw to the plate missed the ball and it rolled to the wall for a two base error, allowing Braun and Fielder to score.  The runs were charged to Harang but they were labeled unearned and LeCure got the Brewers out the rest of the way with the lead in hand.

The Reds got one back in the fifth when Drew Stubbs, the leadoff hitter du jour, doubled,  Valaika struck out looking.  Bringing Votto up with an open base.  It was clear that Gallardo was being cautious and the count went to 3-2.  Gallardo did his job but Votto still got the better of him poking the ball into shallow left for an RBI double.

"I made a good 3-2 pitch to Votto but it landed.  There was nothing I could do about it."

Hanigan, Janish and Rolen doubled and the Reds put the game away with three runs in the sixth.

Rickie Weeks homered off Logan Ondrusek for an anticlimactic run in the ninth, after a bout of Chapmanania.

Jonathan Lucroy had the dubious distinction of facing the "Cuban Missle" first.

The at bat went as follows:

Poor Jonathan Lucroy was the first hitter to face him in the big leagues.  Chapman threw a strike at 98 mph on the first pitch as cameras flashed.  He got a swing and miss on an 86 mph slider for strike two.  Lucroy fouled a 102mph pitch sideways and whiffed on an 86mph slider.

"I was just trying to hit the ball hard.  He's tough.  He's very deceptive. He hides the ball.  I knew it was coming.  We knew they would make a big deal out of it.  I tried to shut it out.  102mph,  I was just trying to get my bat on the ball.  I'm glad no one got hurt when I fouled it."

The foul ball screamed into the first row above the Reds dugout as players on the Reds bench ducked in unison.

"I'll be better prepared next time," Lucroy said.

Macha, who speaks in a monotone all the time, didn't want to talk much about it.

"The crowd liked it.  102mph, I'm sure it will be on Sportscenter."

Chapman Debuts and Oh Yes the Reds Lead 8-3 After Eight Innings

Hype meister du jour long legged it to the mound after his new mates built an 8-3 lead over the Milwaukee Brewers.  Reds fans made as much noise as a 19,218 crowd could.

Poor Jonathan Lucroy was the first hitter to face him in the big leagues.  Chapman threw a strike at 98 mph on the first pitch as cameras flashed.  He got a swing and miss on an 86 mph slider for strike two.  Lucroy fouled a 102mph pitch sideways and whiffed on an 86mph slider.

Craig Counsel was next.  Swing and miss at 100mph heater.  He grounded out on a 102 pitch.

Carlos Gomez next.  A 101 fastball missed inside. He was retired on a 98 mph fastball grounding out 4-3.

Game details coming after interviewsl

Jay Bruce Scratched

Hot hitting Jay Bruce was scratched from the Reds lineup an hour before the first pitch and replaced by Jonny Gomes.

Bruce was in the original lineup in his customary rightfield position batting fifth.  Gomes will play leftfield with Chris Heisey moving to rightfield batting sixth.

Bruce was the hero last night for Cincinnati.  He is hitting .533 with five home runs and eight RBI in his last four games.

No reason has yet been given for the lineup change.

Chapman Brings the Heat

The fire alarms went off at 4:30 about the time that flame throwing lefthander, Aroldis Chapman entered Great American Ball Park.

The problem was in the Pilot House in centerfield, just enough smoke to set off the alarm but the speculation was that Chapman, known to bring the heat at 105mph, had started to throw.

Chapman strolled slowly to the bullpen with Francisco Cordero, as if he was a pupil following his teacher.

The Reds also activated tonight's starter, Aaron Harang, who missed a start on the 5th of July and hasn't pitched for the big club since.

To clear roster spots, Edinson Volquez was optioned to Single A Dayton and will work on his mechanics in a start on Thursday.  Laynce Nix with a sprained ankle was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Thursday.

The Reds plan to call up some minor league players in two waves.  The players have not been told yet so they weren't named but Yonder Alonso's jersey was spotted in the clubhouse.  A couple players will be recalled on Wednesday and a couple more on Friday in time for the St. Louis series.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reds Get 19th Walk Off Win 5-4. Increase Lead to Six Games

Jay Bruce singled home pinch runner Brandon Phillips in the 10th inning for the Reds 19th win in its last at bat.
The hits made a winner out of Francisco Cordero.  Trevor Hoffman took the loss.

The line drive to left came after Ryan Hanigan walked to leadoff the 10th inning.  Drew Stubbs flubbed a bunt attempt popping it up to Hoffman.  Paul Janish popped to first.  Chris Heisey singled to move Phillips to second base.  Bruce lined a pitch by Hoffman to left and Phillips scored easily.

"My approach was to take him up the middle or the other way," Bruce said.  "This game was not exactly how you would write it out."

The Reds indeed made some mistakes.

"It was a twilight zone game or a full moon game.  It looked like it was becoming contagious but we fought through it," Dusty Baker said.

Hoffman, is one save away from 600 for his career.  No one has done that ever.  The 42-year old former Cincinnati minor leaguer, lost his closer job on the Great American Ball Park field in May by blowing a three-run ninth inning lead. Joey Votto doubled home the winning run.

Jay Bruce led off the game with his fifth home run in four games.  The blow came off another lefthander, Randy Wolf of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Cincinnati starter, Homer Bailey gutted out six innings.  He was hit hard but allowed just four runs.  His downfall was walking Lorenzo Cain with two out and the bases empty in the sixth inning.  Alcides Escobar followed with a triple to put the Brewers ahead, 4-3.

The Reds smacked eight hits off Wolf but ran themselves out of a couple promising innings and hit into four double plays.

The Brewers ran wild on Bailey, stealing four bases.  Wolf even stole one.  It was the first by a Brewer pitcher in their 40 year history.

"It was one of those days when I didn't feel right," Wolf said.  "I got some ground balls to get me out of trouble and they made some base running mistakes that helped.  I told Ed (firstbase coach Sedar) that I could go.  Bailey wasn't watching me and was slow to the plate."

Rolen hit into a double play in the first inning.  Paul Janish did the same in the second.  Bailey walked to start the third and Bruce followed with a single.  When Chris Valaika flied to center, Bruce was thrown out trying to get into scoring position.  With one out in the fourth, Ryan Hanigan doubled and Drew Stubbs walked.  Hanigan made it to third on another fly to center by Janish.  Bailey shot a single to right but Stubbs went through a stop sign by thirdbase coach, Mark Berry.  After the Reds knotted the score at three on a ground rule double by Joey Votto.  The ball bouncing into the stands cost a run and Valaika was out at home when he took off on contact on a hard ground ball to third by Scott Rolen.  The Reds loaded the bases but Hanigan grounded into a double play.

"That was the epitome of an ugly win but it was a win," Baker said.  "We can't make those mistakes.  You get to championship baseball and we could make the mistakes now.  You have to be aware of where the outfielders are.  Mark told Valaika to gohome on a ball hit anywhere but the pitcher and thirdbase.  He said ok then ran anyway. Those things happen with youth.  We encourage our guys to be aggressive but you need to be aggressive and smart."

Bruce knew they got away with mistakes.

"We expect to win.  We didn't play well, myself included.  We have a relatively young team but that's no excuse. Honestly at this point in the season, it can't happen.  You can't give away outs.  You can't give away runs.  We did tonight.  We came out on top.  We all know we need to play better baseball."

The Reds tied the score on a pinch hit home run by rookie Juan Francisco.  It was the first by Francisco in the major leagues this season.  He hit 18 in 77 games with Louisville.  It was the Reds ninth pinch hit home run of the season.

The game tying home run put the game in the hands of the bullpens.  Logan Ondrusek, Bill Bray and Nick Masset held the line going into the bottom of the ninth.

Chris Valaika, filling in capably for Brandon Phillips singled to left with one out in the ninth.  It was his third hit.
That left MVP candidate Joey Votto to face the Brewers lefthanded flame thrower, Zach Braddock. Votto flied out to deep left.  Rolen walked.  Miguel Cairo pinch hit for Masset.  He has been out with a strained hamstring since his key double in the Reds 12-11 win in San Francisco, last Wednesday.  He struck out swinging.

Meanwhile, J.A. Happ of the Houston Astros, shutout the hairless St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0 on two hits.  The Cardinals all shaved their heads to change their luck.  It didn't.


Someone emailed, Hal McCoy, of Fox Sports Ohio, pointing out that the Reds started nine caucasion, American born players.  To be correct, Joey Votto, is a native of Canada but the point that escaped most of us as it should.

Aroldis Chapman Will Be Recalled Tomorrow

The much awaited debut of Cuban sensation, Aroldis Chapman, is one day away.

The Reds will recall the 22-year old lefthander, who has a fastball clocked at 105 mph for Tuesday's game with Milwaukee.  The Reds paid $30 million for Chapman but optioned him to Louisville where he has been all season.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Leadoff Change Pays Off Again For Reds Go Up Five Games

On Friday Dusty Baker put Jay Bruce in the leadoff spot and he responded with three home runs.  That power provided the Reds with a 7-1 win.

Things changed on Sunday.  Drew Stubbs was in the leadoff spot against Chicago Cubs starter, Casey Coleman.  Stubbs was the leadoff hitter early in the season but a series of 0-for-5's led the Reds manager to drop him to seventh in the batting order.

"Stubbs gives us the best chance today," Baker said before the game.  "I challenged him to score four runs today."

Stubbs failed.  He scored three.

"I was one base short," Stubbs said.

Bruce and Stubbs both of whom have struggled at the plate for long stretches this season, carried the Reds this series.  The Reds needed them as Baker says often, "big time."

The Reds have a series of nagging injuries to Brandon Phillips, Laynce Nix and Miguel Cairo.  These veterans are healing while the young outfielders, including Chris Heisey pick up the slack.  In Heisey's case he hit sixth in the order, while Bruce was placed in the fifth spot.  Jonny Gomes normally hits there but has been in a slump of his own.

Gomes met with Baker early this morning.

"We needed someone in the fifth spot in the order to protect Joey Votto and Scott Rolen," Baker said.  "Jay is seeing the ball better and Stubbs has been swinging the bat better.

On cue Stubbs had three hits, a double to start the game and two singles.  One hit was a bunt hit that he has been working on.  He stole two bases and scored three runs.  Combined with Bruce's fourth home run of the series the pair made a genius out of Baker.

"I don't know if its coincidence or what," Stubbs said with a smile. "I've been feeling pretty good at the plate. You go through cycles good and bad over the course of the season."

Stubbs has had success against the Cubs in his brief career with a .324 batting average with five home runs and 18 RBI.

"I don't know the reason for that," Stubbs said.

Travis Wood was not as sharp as he normally is but got through five innings with the score tied at 3.  Ramon Hernandez who Baker calls, "Clutch Man Mony" had three singles and a key RBI.  Chris Valaika had a key RBI single.

Heisey broke an 0-for-14 slide with a bloop double and created problems for Cubs rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome by racing to third on a Hernandez single to force a bad throw.

"It's been our mentality from spring training to go first to third.  As an outfielder myself, I know what kind of pressure it puts on you to field the ball, straighten up and make an good throw.  Too many things have to go right.  We've been doing it all year and I can count the times we've been thrown out on one hand.  I watched Scott Rolen do it in the All-Star Game.  I told him how excited it got me.  That's another thing.  You see one guy do it then you think, 'hey I'll try that'."

The St. Louis lost 4-2 to Washington.  The Reds at 75-55 own a five game lead, the largest lead of the season.

Reds Take Series Over Cubs With a 3-2 Win

Jay Bruce hit his fourth home run of the series as the Reds took two out of three games from the Chicago Cubs.

The Reds could have a five game lead in the National League Central if the Washington Nationals hold the 4-1 lead they took into the ninth against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Details to follow.

Fox Sports May Abandon Baseball Playoffs

The Fox Network which holds the rights to broadcast most of the 30 Major League Baseball teams are not in a hurry to make plans to cover the division series.

Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) own the rights to the division series.  Fox owns the rights for the League Championship Series and the World Series.

A source familiar with the Network told me that they will not do any pre-game, in-game or post-game programing for the first round of the playoffs.  That means there will be no Hal McCoy to analyze the play on the field.

The Network in its "wisdom" prefer to concentrate on the less than popular Columbus Bluejackets of the National Hockey League.

Depth Comes Into Play for the Reds

September first can't arrive fast enough for Dusty Baker.

Three players are nursing nagging injuries sustained in San Francisco.  Brandon Phillips was hit on his right hand Wednesday and left the game.  His hand is swollen.  Phillips is squeezing putty in his hand to get his grip back.  He took some ground balls before the game but was shaking his hand as it was visibly uncomfortable.

"He is trying to build his strength back," Dusty Baker said.  "The swelling has gone down but he needs to get his grip back.  People underestimate how important your grip is.  No grip, no hit."

Miguel Cairo has a tight hamstring.  He hurt it running out his key double in Wednesday's wild 12-11 win against the Giants.

"We can use him but want to stay away from double play situations that he has to run hard," Baker said.

Laynce Nix sprained his ankle on the west coast.  He is getting better and Baker hopes to have him back to full strength in a couple days.

In the meantime, Chris Valaika has filled in well for Phillips.

On Wednesday the rosters expand to 40 and Baker can call on the cavalry to save the day.

"For a few days we're using our depth," Baker said.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Leadoff Hitter Powers the Reds 7-1 Over Cubs

Brandon Phillips has thrived batting leadoff for the Reds since Dusty Baker put him there when Orlando Cabrera began struggling.

But Phillips took a pitch off the hands on Wednesday in San Francisco.  X-rays were negative but his hand is swollen.  Chris Valaika, who was summoned from Louisville while the Reds were in San Francisco, got the start at secondbase but with lefthander, Tom Gorzelanny starting the righthanded hitting Valaika was NOT the leadoff hitter.

The curious choice, Jay Allen Bruce, a lefhanded hitter, known for not hitting lefthanded pitching.  Why?

The second guessers on many the chat rooms blistered Baker for the decision.

For the record, Bruce started the game hitting .275 against righthanders and .241 against lefties.

But Baker pointed out that Cubs starter, Tom Gorzelanny, has more trouble with righthanded batters than lefthanders.  Righthanders bat .241 against the Cubs southpaw, while lefties hit him at a .295 clip.

Baker beats second guessers yet again.

Bruce hit three home runs.  He drove in five runs, both are career highs.  All of the long balls were off lefties, two off Gorzellanny and one off Scott Maine.  Valaika also belted his first career home run.

"I haven't had the season that I wanted to have," Bruce said.  "My power numbers were down.  My teammates have been picking me up all year.  It's a process.  I'm going to continue to get better.  I plan on being a good hitter and I'm on my way there."

The pennant race is more important to Bruce than his numbers but he was happy that all three bolts were struck against lefthanders.

"I haven't been playing against lefties all the time.  I'm really, really, really determined to prove to everyone that I can play against lefties everyday because I want to be an everyday contributer in the big leagues.  I haven't earned that.  I getting better.  This is not about me.  It is about the team."

"That shows me that he's staying in against lefties," Baker said.  "It (the move to put Bruce in the leadoff spot) worked today.  I just thought he was the best option today.  Thanks to Jay, it worked and Valaika, and Cueto."

Johnny Cueto's last outing, the first off his seven game suspension  He lasted only three innings against the Dodgers on Saturday, giving up five runs.

"Johnny was dealing.  He was spotting his fastball.  He improved to 12-4 and lowered his ERA (from 3.62 to 3.49).  He should have had a shutout.  He overthrew to one hitter, (Tyler Colvin) and he hit a double to get their run in."

"I felt too strong after the suspension.  I was overthrowing.  We worked on my mechanics in the bullpen this week.  This was one of my better starts.  I had good rhythm and was throwing everything Ramon (Hernandez) called," Cueto said through Juan Lopez his interpreter.

Valaika had to follow Bruce's act.  In less than a week.  He had gone from Louisville to San Francisco where he hit a single in his first at bat.  In his first start tonight he doubled in the first inning following Bruce's leadoff walk.  He hit his first career home run following Bruce's second blast.

"Valaika can hit and he knows he can hit," Baker said.

"This whole day was awesome.  I got to start and contribute a little bit," Valaika said.  "I got the ball that was pretty special.  I got my first hit and my first home run."

This was a moment he has worked for his entire life.

"I've envisioned this my whole life.  Growing up wanting to be a big leaguer and getting that first hit.  It's everything that you dream about.  It's amazing.  I'm kind of speechless."

Bruce hit three home games one other time in his 23-year old his 23-year old life.

"I was in Little League.  I hit two in a night game but it got too late and the game was suspended.  Then I hit another one the next day.  So I hit three in a game but not in the same day."

Leake Shutdown For Now

When Mike Leake earned a roster spot in spring training, the Reds were concerned that the college ace had never pitched a professional schedule.  A college schedule is not an everyday grind like it is in even the lower level of professional baseball.

Leake has struggled in his last two outings both in relief.  

"His velocity is there but his location wasn't.  He wasn't throwing the ball where he wanted to and he depends on that," Dusty Baker said.  "We were apprehensive about that anyway.  We think its better for him.  We wanted to do it now so he can help us in the playoffs.  We had him examined by the doctor.  He has a little fatigue."

The Reds plan to give Aaron Harang a start on August 31.  Harang would be eligible for the playoffs.  He has been on a program to build strength.  He is still on the disabled list.

Leake's roster spot was taken by Juan Francisco.

"With Laynce Nix ailing, we wanted another bat," Baker said.

The x-rays were negative on Brandon Phillips but Baker decided that Chris Valaika would get his first start against the Cubs tonight.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yonder Alonso Shows Huge Progress

The first pick in the 2008 draft has shown a great improvement in defense and offense.

The University of Miami slugger, who has been on the rise, is hitting close to .300.  He was a .260 hitter at the lower levels.

"He's progressed very well," Sweet said.  "He's really played solid defense.  He's improved at picking balls in the dirt.  I've been very pleased with the adjustments he's made at this level.  He's done a couple of things that we've talked about doing. He got here and was hitting .260 for quite awhile.  After some conversations and some hard work in how he approaches his at bats.  He's really taking off.  He's really swinging the bat well."

Alonso made some nice stops in the field on Thursday and hit a single in four at bats.

The lefthanded hitter is at .298 with 10 home runs and 52 RBI in 89 games in Louisville.  Including the 31 games he played at Carolina, Alonso is hitting .292 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI.

The Reds have not talked to Alonso about a call up. Having signed a Major League contract as did fellow Miami player, Yasmani Grandal, he is on the 40-man roster of the Reds.

Right now Alonso is learning and enjoying the journey.

"My concentration level went up.  From the beginning of the year. I've concentrated on my defense and these guys have been behind me.  I just try to do what I can to help the team win," Alonso said.

"These guys have helped me out a lot, the older players have been helping me."

He played some outfield.  His competition is with Joey Votto, who is having an MVP season with the big club.

"I played so much outfield the first half of the season that I barely played first," Alonso said.  "They wanted to make sure it balanced out."

"If you play every day, 140 games, you have to improve.  It has been going well.  My adjustments have been a lot better and sharper.  I honestly have to thank all the guys that are here, the veteran guys.  They've made my approach and the way I go about doing things a lot easier."

Alonso played a year with Grandal.

"He's unbelievable.  He was a freshman.  He can call his own game.  He can hit from both sides of the plate. He handled the pitching staff very well.  He can pretty much do it all with the catching aspect. He's a great hitter.  It's great to see them come around.  This minor leagues system is unbelievable and very stacked."

"It's fun man."

"If get to the Major Leagues this year it will be great but right now we have to concentrate on what we have to do tomorrow," Alonso said.

Bats Win 14th Straight Home Game Over Syracuse, 6-2

Devin Mesoraco and Juan Francisco powered the Reds farmhands in Louisville to back Sam LeCure, who imporved to 8-3.

Mesoraco the Reds first pick in 2007 out of Punxsutaney High School matched the movie Ground Hog Day in its repetitive theme.  The 22-year old clubbed a grand slam in his second consecutive at bat.  In his Louisville debut he hit a walkoff slam last night.  He repeated the feat with a 435 ft blast in the second inning.

"I got the pitches and put some good swings on them.  That's all," Mesoraco said.

But you had to be thinking about it?

"To tell you the truth, no," Mesoraco said.  "I knew he had to throw strikes.  So I looked for one to hit."

In spite of his success at all three levels, the catcher is taking the hot streaks in stride.

"At times I feel great.  At times I feel like I haven't batted in a month.  Right now I'm seeing the ball real well," Mesoraco said.

"Off the top of my head, I've never seen anything like that," Bats' manager Rick Sweet said.  "It's pretty amazing. He's a big strong kid.  He got ahead in the count.  He got a pitch he liked and jumped on them."

Francisco belted a long two-run home run in the sixth off Washington farmhand, Andrew Kown the Syracuse starter.

LeCure had a rough spot in the third in which a couple of walks and a hit batter allowed, Brian Bixler's double to score the Chiefs runs but he adjusted and pitched seven solid innings of four-hit, two-run baseball.

"He struggled in that one inning.  His last couple of games he's done that. But didn't recover after he struggled.  This time he recovered.  He got out to a good start.  Then struggled but he recovered and finished up strong."

The Bats struggled at the plate early in the year.  Through April and May the team wasn't hitting.

The Reds organization wanted prospects like Francisco and Yonder Alonso to play in the outfield.

"All of our young guys were struggling.  Organization wise we decided we needed to put them in their regular position and let them get going and get their game going.  That's what we did and that's why they've taken off like they have," Sweet said.

"We spent the first two months, not playing very good baseball.  And it's basically the same guys.  If anything we've gotten younger."

Gone from the Bats are players that came to spring training with Major League experience.  Josh Anderson, Chris Burke, Jake Long and Jon Adkins have all been released.  They have been replaced by Alonso, Mesoraco, Dave Sappelt and James Avery.

You Can't Make This Up

Devin Mesoraco did it again.  In his Louisville debut Mesoraco hit a walkoff grand slam.

In his first at bat tonight, he repeated the feat.  He blasted a 430 ft drive to left for grand slams in two consecutive at bats.

Even more amazing, 8-year old Jeffrey Robinson called the shot sitting next to his father in the Bats pressbox.

Beautiful Night in the Bushes

I'm in Louisville watching the Bats take on Syracuse.  This beautiful minor league park is matched only by a beautiful evening on the river.

I want to catch up with Todd Frazier and Yonder Alonso.  Frazier is not in the lineup but Alonso is at firstbase.

Alonso from the University of Miami is one of two first rounders in the Bats lineup.  Devin Mesoraco is making his second Triple A start tonight.  In his Louisville debut, all he did was hit a walkoff grand slam.  Mesoraco is making his third stop in the chain.  He played 43 games at Lynchburg and 56 at Carolina before being promoted here.  They 22-year old is hitting a combined .315 with 24 home runs and 66 RBI.  Just as impressive are his five triples and .388 on base percentage.  He has fanned just 68 times in 349 at bats.

Sudden Sam LeCure is on the hill for the Bats.  He kept the Reds afloat in his first trip to the Major Leagues this year.  Aaron Harang gets a rehab start tomorrow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Welcome Homer, Reds Take Back First 2-0

Homer Bailey returned from a bout with tendinitis to make his first start since May 23, a good one.

Bailey allowed three harmless singles and walked none in his six innings.

Super-sub Miguel Cairo clubbed a two-run home run off Anibal Sanchez in the sixth inning with two outs.  Sanchez walked Jonny Gomes in between strikeouts until Cairo lined one to the seats in leftfield.  Cairo started the game at thirdbase as Scott Rolen rested.

The Reds had five hits off Sanchez the first four came with two outs and no one on.  Cairo's was the exception in that Gomes was aboard.

While the Bailey stifled the Florida Marlins, the Chicago Cubs were kicking the whiny butts of the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis.  The Cubs scored six runs off former Red, Kyle Lohse to take an 8-1 lead in the fourth.  Lohse was also returning from an injury.

All of the hits off Bailey were with two outs.  Dan Uggla hit the base of the fence in rightfield with a drive but Jay Bruce held him to a single.

One of the ironies was that Bailey was starting in Johnny Cueto's spot.  Cueto was suspended for seven games for kicking a pair of Cardinals in a fight on Tuesday.   The Reds were not allowed to replace Cueto on the roster.  The team chose to send Juan Francisco to Triple A Louisville to reinstate Bailey.  That move left them short of position players.

To compound the problems for Dusty Baker, who served a two game suspension for his involvement in Tuesday's incident, MVP candidate, Joey Votto was ejected in the first inning.

A called strike irked Votto, who expressed displeasure with the call under his breath.  Home plate umpire, D. J. Reyburn was not in the mood and tossed Votto.  Drew Stubbs completed the at bat and hit a double.

Logan Ondrusek allowed two hits and a walk but no runs.  Nick Masset pitched a scoreless eighth.

Francisco Cordero allowed a leadoff double to Marlins' rookie Mike Stanton to start the ninth.  Cordero got Wes Helms to ground out and fanned Emilio Bonifacio, who robbed Jim Edmonds of a home run in the fourth inning.  Former Red, Cody Ross, who beat Cordero twice in his career with three-run home runs, walked. Donnie Murphy pinch hit as the potential go-ahead run.  He struck out looking to end the drama.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Reds Bounce Back 7-2

In back to back games the Reds faced the top two pitcher in the National League as far as Earned Run Average is concerned.

On Wednesday, St. Louis righthander, Adam Wainwright dropped his ERA to 1.99 or .02 runs per game behind league leader, Josh Johnson, who started for the Florida Marlins on Friday.

Much like the Cardinals did to Mike Leake Monday night, the Reds scored three quick runs off Johnson in the first inning.  They didn't exactly crush the ball but found holes like St. Louis did against Leake.

Brandon Phillips hit a slow roller to short that Hanley Ramirez couldn't bare hand.  Laynce Nix broke his bat on a handle hit up the middle, Phillips out running the throw to third.  Joey Votto hit a hard ground ball through the hole between first and second and Scott Rolen hit a high hopper that eluded Ramirez.  One out later Bruce plated Votto with a single to center with Rolen caught at third by Cody Ross.

Edinson Volquez handled the Marlins through five innings.

Rolen hit the first of two doubles to start the third.  Jim Edmonds ground out got him to third and he scored on a fielder's choice by Bruce as Ramirez throw to the plate was late.

The Reds carved Johnson for two more in the fourth .  Volquez infield hit started the inning.  Votto had an RBI single and Rolen's second double scored Votto.

Johnson's ERA rose to 2.27 as he left after 3 2/3 innings, his shortest stint of the season.

Bruce drove in his third run of the game with a long home run to centerfield off  Taylor Tankersly in the fifth. It was his first home run since he beat Roy Halladay with home run on June 30.  He had gone over six weeks between his 10th and 11th home run.

Florida rookie hit home runs off Volquez in the sixth and Logan Ondrusek in the eighth. The first multi-home run game of the 20-year old's career that began on June 8.  He now has 14 for the season.  He has hit 12 since Bruce hit his last home run.

Stanton also doubled.  In the first four games of the Marlins current road trip, Stanton is 11-for-16 with four home runs, including a 5-for-5 on Tuesday.

Johnson dropped to 10-5.  Volquez improved to 3-1, allowing one run on eight hits through six innings.

Homer Bailey Replaces Cueto On Sunday

Homer Bailey will pitch against the Florida Marlins on Sunday in place of  Johnny Cueto.

Cueto discussed appealing with the Reds front office and his agent.  They have decided to start the suspension tonight, Friday the 13th.

"He will miss one start," said Dusty Baker, who is also suspended for two games starting Friday night.  "Then on his next start we will back him up an extra day.  Maybe it will make him better and stronger.

Bailey, who will oppose Annibal Sanchez, went on the disabled list on May 24th with inflammation in his right shoulder.  He made recent rehab starts in Dayton and Louisville.  He also made a relief appearance.

"Cool.  I've been throwing well," Bailey said.  "They didn't know what day I'd be starting.  They didn't know if  I would be starting or relieving when I came back.  In case I had to come up on short rest or come out of the bullpen, I could kind of dabble in it."

Baker will watch the next two games from General Manager, Walt Jocketty's private box on the press level.

"I have limited choices. I could go watch it in the stands which is impossible.  I can watch in Walt's box or go home or help Marty (Brennaman).  There is a new rule that I can't watch from the clubhouse or my office."

Baker didn't get a good answer to the reasoning behind his suspension.

"I guess they didn't like the way me and Tony handled the situation.  I didn't even get suspended in school. All I know is every time, I get thrown out of a game, most of the time I get suspended."

Bench Coach Chris Speier will manage the team.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fines and Suspensions For Reds and Cardinals

Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker have been suspended by Bob Watson, the Vice President of On-Field Operations fo Major League Baseball.

The two managers will serve the suspensions Friday and Saturday.  Baker's team will host the Florida Marlins while La Russa's will host the Chicago Cubs.

Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto received a seven game suspension which will begin Friday unless he appeals. The service will cost Cueto one start.   He also was fined an undisclosed amount.

The two principles in the fight, Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina were fined an undisclosed amount.

Former Cardinal, Russ Springer, who is currently on the disabled list was also fined.  Chris Carpenter was fined.  The amount of the fines were not disclosed.

The fact that Russ Springer was with the Cardinals under the reign of Tony La Russa is ironic.

Tuesday morning, La Russa asserted that the flamatory remarks by Brandon Phillips would get him in trouble in his own clubhouse.  La Russa reasoned that Springer as one of the five former Cardinals would chastise Phillips because their were taught to compete the "Cardinal way".

Phillips labeled the Cardinals as whiners and complainers.

La Russa is the king of the whiners.  He complained the baseballs were not rubbed up enough at Great American Ball Park, making it too slick for his pitchers to handle.  He complained that pitcher Bronson Arroyo's cap had some foreign substance on it.  He raised a complaint earlier this season about neckwear worn by rookie pitcher Mike Leake.

His assertion that players that he managed all subscribe to his habit of nit picking respect him for it.

His dillusion his not backed up by conversations with former players who find La Russa condescending as do many writers that have to deal with him.  Not to mention that his peers who manage other teams are not totally enthralled with his arrogance.

Springer coming to the aid of his current teammates so quickly exemplifies the contempt that professionals around baseball hold for La Russa.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cardinals Sweep 6-1

The war of words was of little consequence.  The St. Louis Cardinals with their ace Adam Wainwright on the mound embarrassed the Cincinnati Reds in front of their home crowd to regain first place.

Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker dismissed the effects of Brandon Phillips ill conceived comments but stated the obvious.  "They out pitched us and out hit us. What was the winning percentage of their starters?  It was something stupid."

It was even stupider after Wainwright threw seven shutout, shutdown, shutup innings.  He did allow two singles in improving his record to 17-6.  This was after Chris Carpenter improved to 13-3 and Jaime Garcia won to give him a 10-5 mark.  That is 40-14 or .740.

Cincinnati ace Bronson Arroyo pitched 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run but with two outs in the fifth Jon Jay Jay doubled.  The Reds elected to walk Albert Pujols intentionally as many talk show hosts demand.  The Cardinals showed why this is not the brilliant strategy that some think.  Arroyo walked Matt Holliday.  Then got ahead of Colby Rasmus 0-2.  Rasmus fouled some tough pitches and worked the count full.  Rasmus connected and launched a high arching grand slam, the first of his career to dead center.

Arroyo was done.  Wainwright continued and the only thing that could stop him was 46 minutes of rain.

The Cardinals added two more on a walk and three straight singles off Jordan Smith in the seventh until the rain started.

The Reds nicked the Cardinals for one run with two outs in the eighth, singles by Phillips, Paul Janish and Joey  Votto put the Reds in the scoring column.

"It's not the end of the world," Baker said.  He underscored what he said before the series even started.  "We have 40 something games left and three more at their place.  There is a long way to go."

The Spin is In

The only thing that Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker and St. Louis skipper, Tony La Russa probably agree on is that watching the game from their offices suck.

"I vomited four times," La Russa said because he had to watch the game from his office rather than practicing his self proclaimed genius from the dugout for all to see.

Baker, though agreed.  "I don't know how Bobby Cox does it.  I love Bobby Cox but I don't see how he can watch so many games from his office."  Cox holds the record for ejections by a manager.

Both also agreed that the umpires had to do something and tossing the managers was the most logical choice.

The heat of the pennant race, turned up a notch by Brandon Phillips flaming comments, was matched by the heat of the day which was 93 degrees at game time and a pair of red hot pitchers.

Adam Wainwright allowed just one run in his last 16 innings and is 6-1 in his last nine outings.  Bronson Arroyo hasn't allowed any earned runs in his last two starts, covering 14 inning.

Those two will decide the game on the field.

The behind the scenes talk of disciplinary action by the league office as the result of  Tuesday's gang war.

"It is too early.," Baker said.  "Hey man, I don't think its fair to print or participate in speculation about losing a guy.  That's like setting a sentence before somebody went to trial. like "How many years are you going to go to jail?"  You hope that the guys up there see the pressure and the background.  Also, you can't go with what you see on video.  The first man always sounds innocent until the second person testifies.  Sometimes, even though no punches were thrown there were some words that created punches to be thrown.  Not that what happened was right on our side or what was said on our side.  But there's always a cause and effect on every situation.  That thing was over until people started talking."

Those talking were Yadier Molina and Chris Carpenter.

Molina had the last clear chance to avoid confrontation and chose to extend the issue.

"We didn't come to fight," Molina said.  "We came to win a game."

If so, why not let your bat do the talking as he did with his home run in the second inning rather than adding to the ugliness by commenting to Phillips before the first pitch?

Tony La Russa expects Johnny Cueto to be suspended for kicking his pitcher, Carpenter and back up catcher and former Red, Jason La Rue.

"Jason has cuts on his face and a concussion," La Russa said.

Yet the Cardinals put Jeff Suppan on the disabled list rather than La Rue when they recalled catcher Stephen Hill from Double AA Springfield.

The actual fight got under way when Phillips tapped Molina's shin guard which is customary.

Molina went to war. "He touched me.  The comments he made yesterday, I said why are you touching me?  You're not my friend."

"I would have a big problem if my catcher was suspended.  What did he do?" La Russa asked.

How about making matters worse, Tony?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Reds Lost the Battle Drop Into a Tie for First, 8-4

The Reds played sloppy defense and had some sloppy base running.

They also got very few hits as the Cardinals shook off the war of words that turned physical in the bottom of the first.

Jonny Gomes dropped Felipe Lopez's game opening line drive, losing it in the early evening sun.  It was ruled an error but was later changed to a double.

Brandon Phillips expressed his genuine dislike for the St. Louis team before Monday night's game.  He called the Cardinals, "A bunch of whiny bitches.  Every one of them."  When he came to bat in the first inning he tapped catcher Yadier Molina's shin guards which is a custom.  Molina had some words of his own for Phillips and the benches emptied. It escalated into a real brawl with Scott Rolen, who tried to calm Molina, eventually exchanging shoves with Chris Carpenter.  Rolen is a former Cardinal, who left the team with bad feelings toward manager Tony La Russa.

Molina got the last laugh. He hit a home run in the second inning to put the Cardinals up 2-0 early against Johnny Cueto.  He ended up with two hits and two RBI.

Phillips singled in five at bats.  He is 1-for-9 in the series and has ended both games of this series with outs.

"To tell you the truth we lost, said Phillips, who had a chance to back down from his Monday comments but didn't..  "That's the only thing that really sucks.  It's all about wins.  We're in a race.  We didn't get key hits when we needed them.  We have the 'L" today.  We have to go out and win tomorrow."

The Reds scored two runs off Jaime Garcia in the third inning, the last coming on Joey Votto's hard single to right.

St. Louis took advantage of the Reds sloppy fielding by scoring three in the sixth, when Chris Heisey misplayed Colby Rasmus double.

The Red countered with two of its own when Drew Stubbs grounded a bases loaded single through the hole into left but veteran Jim Edmonds, another former Cardinal rounded the bases too far and was caught to end the rally.

The Cardinals put it away for good with three more in the seventh, the last scoring when Gomes over threw the plate.

I wasn't good baseball," said Baker, who was ejected along with La Russa after the fight.  "We didn't play good defense like we always do.  We made a lot of mistakes.  I hope we get it out of our system at once."

"Maybe we tried too hard but that's better than not trying hard enough," Baker continued.

The issue is the pennant race but the bad feelings will linger as the two teams battle for the division crown for the next six weeks.

"I don't think it was a big mystery that there was some tension before the game," said Rolen, who had a pre-interview meeting with Baker before the media crowded around his cubicle.  "I was tired before my first at bat.  I'm not going into specifics about the fight  It was two teams defending their own people and momentum was the problem."

Baker said, "Brandon tapped Molina on the shin guard like he always does.  Molina didn't like it."

Baker and La Russa exchanged words too.

"I said something to one of their coaches and La Russa told me not to talk to his coaches.  I said some things and he said some things.  The umpires didn't know who to eject.  They couldn't eject everyone.  I'd prefer that it would be us.  This is a big series.  I'd rather that than some of our players."

The question was did the psuedo riot effect the play on the field.

Cueto, who was seen kicking former Red, Jason LaRue in the head, said it did.

"When something like that happens, you want to beat the other team so much.  You try to throw harder and be perfect."

Rolen has his doubts but doesn't discount the theory.

"We're all human.  We have emotions.  You don't know how people react to a thing like that.  The most important event of the night, we lost. We have to put it behind us.  It happened.  It all happened. We try to move on and bounce back like we've done all year."

Reds and Cardinals Fight for More Than First Place

Brandon Phillips told Hal McCoy of the Dayton Dailey News that,  “I’d play against these guys with one leg. We have to beat these guys. I hate the Cardinals. All they do is bitch and moan about everything, all of them, they’re little bitches, all of ‘em."

Tony La Russa is the target.  He is known around baseball as a whiner.  He complained about the way the Reds put mud on the baseball.  It was too slick for the likes of John Smoltz last year.  He had a problem with Bronson Arroyo going to his hat.  He complained about a chain that Mike Leake wore.  His ace Chris Carpenter bitched about the slickness of the baseballs early this year.

He is always nit picking around the league.  Many opposing managers dislike his antics and many of his former players dislike his condescending tone.

He talked to the Reds General Manager, Walt Jocketty this afternoon and brought up Phillips comments.
"I communicated this afternoon with the appropriate party.  The way we compete is emphasized by our GM.  It has been that way for the 15 years that I've been here.  It is critical that it is handled by his boss and his teammates.  It doesn't involve us so I'm not worried about it."

"Walt called to say hello.  I said I wanted to discuss it. He said he didn't want to hear that shit.  They had just lossed. The coincidence is he has Cardinal teammates and Walt had a lot to do with the way we compete.  The guys he has there that played here are huge and the boss is huger."

"Is it about the balls and the hat?" Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch asked directly.

La Russa saw red and it had nothing to do with his opponents.

"If you want to defend him Joe, go ahead.  We've competed the same way since I've been here.  So if he doesn't like it, he's indicting or including some of his current teammates."

After the Cardinals scored an unearned run in the first inning, Phillips came up to lead off the bottom of the first.

Catcher Yadier Molina and Phillips got into a heated discussions and both benches emptied in anger.  

La Russa and Dusty Baker exchanged words.  Scott Rolen, who played for La Russa and left on bad terms tried to calm Molina down but later became entangled with Carpenter.

The discussion lasted seven minutes.  Both La Russa and Baker were ejected.

To rub salt in the wound for the Reds, Molina homered off Johnny Cueto in the second inning, taking his time to round the bases and celebrating at every base.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Big Cardinal Inning off Leake Tightens the Race, 7-3

In the biggest series Cincinnati has seen in a long time, Cincinnati rookie Mike Leake saw the difference between the Stanford Cardinal and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Leake beat Stanford last season 7-2.  St. Louis hit him hard in a seven run fourth inning after Leake held them to two singles in the first three innings.

Jon Jay doubled then Albert Pujols, Matt Holiday, Colby Rasmus and Yadier Molina all singled, The latter was an infield single that loaded the bases..  Skip Schumaker, who missed two games with a sore wrist and the author of just three home runs, put one of Leake's pitches into the Reds bullpen.  The grand slam was the first of his career.  The Cardinals added a seventh run on Pujols' second single of the inning for their largest scoring inning of the year.

"They found some holes," Baker said. "They were still hitting ground balls like they were early. That was a quick six.  They got six in a span of about 12 pitches.  It happened so quickly that I didn't have time to get anybody warmed up."

"They saw he was throwing strikes like that they changed their game plan.  It was a sign of  good hitting by them.  There was only one real bad pitch that was the change up to Schumaker, who usually doesn't hit home runs."

Leake saw that the Cardinals were more aggressive.

"They were swinging at more first pitches.  Maybe I have to find a way to make them swing at bad pitches early in the count," Leake said.

The pitch to Schumaker didn't upset the righthander.  The big inning did.

"It wasn't even that bad a pitch.  It was on the outer edge It could have been down a little more.  I don't know if he was sitting on it or what.  It was and ok pitch for the first pitch," Leake said. "The big inning has been that way for the last few outings.  I have to find a way to not do that.  When the same thing keeps happening, its not fun.  I just have to stay focused."

The Reds have been concerned all year that Leake has never pitched this much in a season. He went straight from college to the major leagues without pitching in the minor leagues.  In college the top pitchers just pitch on weekends. 

He started 18 games at Arizona State last year and totaled 142 innings.  This season already he has 21 starts with 129 2/3 innings.

"We've discussed that," Baker said.  "He had a big inning in Pittsburgh but that was led by a couple different things, a hit batsman, a ground ball that wasn't played.  We have to discuss it and talk about it some more,  possibly tomorrow."  

Leake won't use it as an excuse.

"I feel great.  I'm not tired at all. I'm just hitting a rough patch," Leake said.

Meanwhile, Chris Carpenter was 10-3 lifetime against Cincinnati and 3-0 this season.

It took the Reds seven innings to solve him. Jay Bruce walked with one out and Ramon Hernandez doubled Bruce home.  Pinch hitter, Juan Francisco, singled to left to get Hernandez home.

"He's pretty tough," Baker said.  "He had his curveball working.  But we hit some balls pretty good."

Carlos Fisher saved the Reds bullpen with 3 1/3 scoreless innings.  He allowed two hits and two walks but struck out five.  Bill Bray struck out two in one inning.  Logan Ondrusek extended his scoreless streak to 22 innings.

The Reds hold a one game lead on the Cardinals in the Central Division of the National League.

Osterbrock Has Another Quality Start

Colerain Grad and former University of Cincinnati ace, Dan Osterbrock pitched well again in his last start against the Philadelphia Phillies Florida State entry in Clearwater, Florida on Friday.

He pitched six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits and a walk.  He struck out three.  He did not get a decision.

In his last 10 outings, Osterbrock is 3-3 with a 1.80 ERA.  The 23-year old lefthander is was promoted after five starts for Beloit in the Midwest League, the Minnesota Twins lower A unit.  That is the same league the Reds Dayton Dragons compete in.

Overall Osterbrock has pitched 123 1/3 innings over 21 starts.  He has a 7-8 record with a 2.48 ERA. He has fanned 102 or 7.44 per nine innings and walked just 26 which is 1.89 per nine innings.

Jim Freakin Edmonds Is A Red

The Cincinnati Reds obtained the services of OF/1B Jim Edmonds from the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Reds gave up Chris Dickerson, who had been on the Reds 60-day disabled list but was nearing the end of a rehab assignment.

This post trade deadline deal meant that both players had to clear waivers.

Edmonds was called Jim "Freakin" Edmonds by former WXIX broadcaster, Dan Hoard.  If Edmonds wasn't stealing a home run from Reds players with his glove, he was beating the Reds by hitting one.

He was a big part of the St. Louis Cardinals playoff teams.

"We wanted an experienced player down the stretch,"  Cincinnati General Manager, Walt Jocketty said.

Jocketty was interested in signing Edmonds over the winter but Milwaukee beat him to the punch.  Edmonds was hitting .286 with eight home runs and 20 RBI for the Brewers.  He is in centerfield batting fifth tonight against his former teammates in St. Louis.

Jocketty was the GM for the Cardinals when they obtained him from the California Angels in 2000.

"The guy can still play," Reds Manager Dusty Baker said.  "He brings a quality glove and quality bat.  It helps to have a player that's been through a pennant race.  He gives us options late in the game."

The Reds made room for Edmonds by optioning Travis Wood to Louisville.

With the days off he wasn't scheduled to pitch until August 18.  The Reds will throw him against Arizona on August 19.  Meanwhile Wood will take his normal turn in Louisville.

"He certainly didn't do anything to be sent down," Baker said.  "We told him that.  Both he and (Mike) Leake are in uncharted waters.  Wood had never pitched past August and Leake hasn't either."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Unabashed Truth, Reds Beat Cubs Again, 4-2

For the bashers of Dusty Baker and Drew Stubbs, allow me to borrow a chant from GCL student sections, "Sit Down, Shut Up".....

Baker sat Drew Stubbs and played a hot Chris Heisey for three games.  Stubbs, who is going to be a star, doubled, homered and singled to drive home two runs and scored two in the win.

Baker was criticized for sticking with the rookie, when he was struggling through a 1-for-36 slump.  He made the move Sunday in the finale against Atlanta, replacing Stubbs.  "He was ahead of the breaking ball and behind the fastball.  That's when you know you're in no man's land," Baker said.

Paul Janish also drove in a run with a key two-out single.  Janish continues to perform in the absence of Orlando Cabrera.

Players respond to a manager, that shows faith when the player struggles, yet there is a fine line between hurting your team with that strategy.  For all the gripes and complaints about Baker, he has shown that he knows when and how to pull the plug.  Forget the over rated in-game strategy.  The art of managing is using your personnel to give the team the best chance to win.  Sometimes it is sticking with a struggling player until he snaps out of it.   Sometimes it is pulling the plug.

The examples of Baker's feel for those decisions are mounting by the day.

Heisey gets a start and responds.  Stubbs gets a rest and responds.  Votto gets a needed day off and responds. 

Today, he pulled the plug on his highly paid closer, Francisco Cordero.   Yesterday Cordero pitched himself into trouble with a three-run lead and pitched out of it.  In the same situation today, Cordero did the same thing.  He walked himself into trouble.  This time Baker went with Nick Masset to bail Cordero and the Reds out.  Masset struck out Derrick Lee with the bases loaded and Marlin Byrd to end the game.

Cordero will not hang his head because Baker has shown faith in him.  Masset gets a dose of confidence.  The team in general, puts its trust in Baker.  The Reds are now 15 games over .500 and maintain the lead in the National League Central Division.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Osterbrock is Hot Prospect for Minnesota

Colerain and UC grad, Dan Osterbrock, is starting to emerge as a top prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization.

The 23-year old lefthander is 4-3 in his last 10 starts with a 1.65 ERA.  He has allowed just 11 earned runs in 60 innings.  He struck out 50 batters and walked just 12 in those outings.

Yesterday, he pitched five innings of one-hit shutout baseball against the New York Yankees farm team in Tampa.  The game was suspended after 10 scoreless innings.

Osterbrock was the Minnesota Twins seventh round pick in the 2008 draft.  He pitched a seven inning no-hitter for Beloit in the Midwest League before earning a promotion to Ft. Myers.

One of Osterbrock's mound opponents was John Van Benschoten from Milford High and Kent State University.  Van Benschoten pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing two hits.  Van Benschoten is 30 years old.  He was the top draft choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001,the eighth overall selection.  He led Division I college baseball with 31 home runs and was the closer.  Shoulder surgery derailed his promising career.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baker Is Taking The Reds to the Bank, 2-1

Heisey, Heisey, Heisey.

When is Heisey going to get a chance?  I've heard it from my bank teller, on facebook, in texts,in bars.

My teller at PNC bank in Groesbeck blamed Dusty Baker for the loss on Friday night.  I asked the same question Baker asked on Sunday when I told him.  "What did he/I do?.  Did I/he hit?  Did I/he pitch?"

He laughed, "So, it's my fault at the bank now too"  A fan called him over yesterday from his wheelchair.

"Dusty, I like you but you're too traditional," the fan said.  "You put speed at the top of the lineup."  Baker bit his lip, What would you do?"  "I'd put an on-base guy at the top," the fan answered.

The Reds leading on-base guy is Ryan Hanigan.  Baker laughed even louder.   Now fans want him to give up on Stubbs and play Heisey, who Baker likes a lot.

 He is having his chance and doing very well, thank you very much.

Dusty Baker is picking spots for him, much like he did for Jonny Gomes, who crapped out in Tampa Bay.

Gomes played in over 100 games in Tampa Bay.  In 2005 he hit .282 with 13 home runs.  In 2006 his averaged dipped to .213 and a career high 21 home runs.  That year Gomes convinced himself that he was a slugger.  The next year his playing time dwindled he hit .244 with 17 home runs and spent time in the minors.

Last year by picking spots for Gomes he played in 98 games and hit .269 with 20 home runs.  Baker also talked to him this spring about being a hitter that hits home runs rather than being a home run hitter.

With a still wild Volquez on the mound in a game started by Nix in Gomes place and Heisey in Stubbs spot, the Reds fell behind 1-0.  Former Red, Alex Gonzalez, reached the leftfield stands for one of the three hits off Volquez.  Five walks, however, exhausted the pitch count for Volquez.  (He also drilled Gonzalez in his next at bat).

Gomes hit for Volquez in the bottom of the fifth and lined out with Ramon Hernandez on firstbase with a leadoff single.  Brandon Phillips hit a two-out triple that eluded Jason Heyward in rightfield.  Gonzalez booted Orlando Cabrera's ground ball to let the Reds take the lead against Tommy Hanson, who allowed just five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

"When I hit it, I thought, "watch him catch it.  Watch him catch.  Oh snap, better start running."  I knew that the way Volquie was pitching and our bullpen that would be the game right there.  Gonzo is one of the best shortstops in the game.  He hardly ever makes an error."

Heisey struck out and grounded out twice before being replaced by reliever, Jordan Smith as Gomes remained in the game.

Smith, Bill Bray and Nick Masset got the Reds to the ninth with the lead.

Thrill-a-minute closer Francisco Cordero strolled to the mound with 28 saves in 34 chances.

Cordero survived an 11-pitch at bat with Mike Diaz, then allowed a two-out double by Heyward, who basically hit a ground ball.

"It was a good at bat," Cordero said.  "I made a lot of good pitches.  He hit everything I had."

 Heyward took advantage of the outfield playing "no-doubles" and hustled to second.  Cordero got Omar Infante on a comeback to the mound.

"That was a great play by Heyward," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.  "I saw it coming.  He came out of the box thinking about second."

"My arm feels better and my body feels better, the more I pitch.  Walks have hurt me.  When I pitch a lot, my control is better.  I like to pitch a lot.  They pay me way to much money for me to say no.  We won two out of three and go to Pittsburgh happy."

"It was a big win against a good team.  We beat them at their own game, so to speak with pitching and defense," Baker said.


The Reds optioned RHP Carlos Fisher to Triple A, Louisville and intend to purchase the contract of RHP Russ Springer.

By Popular Demand - Heisey and Nix Get A Start

Fair weather fans have been upset with Drew Stubbs lack of offense.  The rookie has one hit in his last 36 at bats.  Manager Dusty Baker believes in Stubb and likes his defense.  He is in agreement with veteran manager Bobby Cox, who sees it from the other dugout.

Jonny Gomes is also getting the day off in favor of Laynce Nix.  Nix has nine hits in his last 11 at bats and also brings a good glove to the mix.

Baker's reasoning, "For Gomes is a little bit of a blow (rest) but mostly to get a hot Nix in there.  He's swinging the bat as well as I've seen him.  For Drew Stubbs he's a little off right now.  He's way ahead of the curve ball and behind the fastball.  He's in no man's land.  Heisey's swinging the bat pretty good.  I hope he can swing it as well starting as he does coming in games.  Late in the game nobody runs it down in centerfield like Stubbs does. I like to have Stubbs in on defense but you have to bring some offense with you too.  Like I explain to guys, defense gets you in the game and offense keeps you in the game."

Struggling for a rookie is completely different than it is for a veteran, which is why teams go with lesser talent in crunch time.

"It is more difficult for a younger player because they don't have much of a track record to call upon for confidence.  They don't have the 'I've been through this before and the last time I came out smoking.'  When you are a young player you don't feel comfortable yet in the big leagues and you shouldn't"

"There are certain guys that were prone to striking out and struggling before they got here.  I've tried to protect them.  Heisey had a great year in Double A.  I've tried to protect Heisey some like I did last year with Gomes.  I've tried to match him up with guys he had a better chance to hit.

A lot of fans will like this decision.

"I really like Heisey," Baker said. "I'm responsible for him being here in the first place, especially when he was hitting .240 when we called him up.  I know a lot of people are screaming Heisey, Heisey Heisey but I'm trying to get him to succeed by putting him against certain pitchers that he can handle.  He's still learning how to hit.  He's a good student and he listens."

"Everybody likes the back up quarterback,"  Baker said.