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, April 30, 2011

Homer Bailey Has A Good Rehab Outing Against Norfolk

Homer Bailey pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks.  He struck out six.

The Reds will decide soon if he needs another start or he is ready to return.  He was supposed to miss just two starts but has been out longer than that.  He threw 91 pitches with 59 being strikes.

Johnny Cueto is scheduled to pitch against Norfolk tomorrow.

Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto Almost Ready

Homer Bailey is getting a rehab assignment tonight for Louisville against Norfolk.  Cueto will get another in the next couple days.

"We want to get Homer and Johnny back.  They are part of the team we had penciled in before the season," Dusty Baker said.  "We aren't concerned about the decisions we have to make.  We welcome those decisions."

Bailey is closer to returning than Cueto.  "Homer didn't have as far to go as Cueto," Baker said.

"They are either on their last rehab start or next to last," Baker said.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mike Leake Pleads Guilty to 4th Degree Misdemeanor

Mike Leake did in fact purchase six t-shirts from Macy's department store on April 2nd and was able to produce a credit card statement.

Leake as reported by WCPO-TV tried to return the merchandise without consulting a Macy's employee.

"I set the six shirts down and got the correct sizes for myself and proceeded to walk out," Leake said.  "I was stopped and I realize how much of a bonehead move it was.  It was very wrong and I sincerely apologize.  It was a serious lapse of judgement and for that I would be willing to do anything I have to do.  I will be doing the diversion program and I will gladly do whatever they have me do for my mistake."

Leake pleaded guilty to misuse of property.  The judge accepted his application into the diversion program.  He must also complete 30 hours of community service and once completed the charges will be dropped.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bengals Draft Who Will They Not Sign Until After Camp Begins

The Cincinnati Bengals have fallen into a disturbing pattern.  They make their first pick each year in the draft and more often than not fail to sign the pick until after the summer training camp begins.

Ki Jana Carter didn't sign until the Bengals were two games into the pre-season.  He was in the game for only a handful of plays before he injured his knee.

Carter never made an impact on the Bengals.  There have been others, Akili Smith, David Klingler and Jack Thompson to name a few.

Recently, they have been drafting players that fall below their anticipated ability because of behavior.  This strategy has saved the penny-pinching ownership money but has not translated into success on the field.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Future Reds Watch Young Yorman Rodriguez Heating Up In The Cold Rain

Yorman Rodriguez had two hits including a long three-run home run off Kevin Eichorn to lead the Dayton Dragons to a damp 6-2 win over Detroit's West Michigan Whitecaps.

The 18-year old from Ocumare de la Costa, Venezuela was signed in 2008 on his 16th birthday.  The 6'2" 184 pound centerfielder hit .339 at Billings last season with two home runs and 39 RBI.

Rodriguez entered the game with a .188 batting average but is 7-for-18 (.389) during his current six-game hitting streak  He has three home runs and 13 RBI..

Rodriguez was robbed in his last at bat by centerfielder Luis Castillo.

"I've been working hard everyday,  There's been no difference," Rodriguez said.

The weather has been cold and wet all month.  For an 18-year old from the land of palm trees, not only does he have to adjust to better competition but he has to battle the weather.

"It was a little cold in Billings," Rodriguez said.  "This weather is harder to adjust to."

Delino DeShields, the first year Dragons manager, played for five teams in his 13 major league seasons.

"Yorman is a passionate kid about the game," DeShields said.  "He wanted to get off to a good start here.  He was beating himself up earlier.  I told him its a marathon.  Nobody will remember April in a couple months."

Dragon starter, Daniel Tuttle, drafted by the Reds in the fifth round in 2009, the Mike Leake draft pitched six innings, allowing one earned run on five hits. The 21-year old is in line for his second win of the season.

Since getting beat up by Lansing on April 15, Tuttle, has allowed just three earned runs over his last 18 innings for a 1.50 ERA.

"For all these kids its about controlling your emotions.  You have to have a short memory, not only from game to game but at bat to at bat.  It's a learning curve.  It's the emotional part of the game that I want them to control," DeShields said.

White Cap pitcher Kevin Eichorn struck out 11 and didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning but fell apart in his last two innings.  Eichorn came to Detroit in the trade that sent Armando Gallaraga to the Arizona Diamonbacks.  He is the son of  Mark Eichorn, who pitched 11 seasons for Toronto, Atlanta, California and Baltimore.

Ducks On The Pond At Dragons Game

Ducks on the Pond at 5/3rd Field
I'm beating the bushes tonight.  I wanted to see the speedy Billy Hamilton, who plays shortstop for the Dayton Dragons.  I also wanted to check up on two players the Reds signed as teenagers, Yorman Rodriguez and Juan Duran.  Rodriguez out of Venezuela was signed as a 16-year old.  Duran from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic was signed in 2008 as a 17-year old.

Hamilton can fly.  I'm sitting next to scouts from Seattle and Toronto in the Dragons press box.  We are all going to find out if he is a mudder.  Rain has delayed the start until 8:45.

Red Take Two Out Of Three Votto Still Hotto

Joey Votto continues to show why he won the NL MVP last season and continues to hit and get on base.

Votto hit a three-run home run off Yovani Gallardo in the first inning. He added an RBI single in the sixth inning and the Reds defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 in 10 innings.

Drew Stubbs had two hits and scored three runs, including his game winning shot to centerfield to provide the margin of victory.  Jay Bruce showed signs of putting things together with three hits.  Dusty Baker moved him to the second spot in the lineup to allow him to get better pitches to hit.  Brandon Phillips, who provided all the offense on Tuesday night, singled in a run from the cleanup spot.

Sam LeCure started and held his own. He pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs.  Six relievers got worked after him.

Aroldis Chapman got his second win. Chapman pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth and a scoreless ninth.  He has not allowed an earned run this season.

Francisco Cordero saved the game his fourth in as many chances.  He moved past Jason Isringhausen for 22nd on the All-time list with 294.  He will tie Hall of Famer, Bruce Sutter, when he gets to 300.

Colerain and UC Pitcher Osterbrock Back In Action In Ft. Myers

Dan Osterbrock was going to join the Minnesota Twins Double A farm team in New Britain Connecticut.  It would be the natural progression through the organization for the lefthander, who pitched a seven inning no-hitter last season.

Osterbrock's left shoulder wouldn't cooperate.  He went to Ft. Myers early to get his shoulder ready for the season.  The Twins decided to keep him in the warmer weather a while longer and Osterbrock will pitch for the Florida State League Ft. Myers Miracle for the time being.

Still feeling an ache in his shoulder, Osterbrock, is determined to pitch through it.  His first start against Port St. Lucie didn't go very well.  He lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits.  Five days later he had a better start against Port St. Lucie.  Osterbrock pitched five innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits.

The 24-year old picked up his first win Saturday against Port Charlotte.  He pitched six innings and gave up a solo home run among five hits.

In 13 1/3 innings Osterbrock has struck out five and has not issued a walk.

Why Baseball Players Make Millions

The main reason players make the big money is the law of supply and demand.  There are very few people that have the skills necessary to compete at the Major League level.  

I have been in sales for 30 years.  Just about anyone can do it given the proper training and enough time to get the product clear in their mind.  All it takes is repetition and a sales manager with some patience and anyone can be successful.

Professional sports is different.  In basketball and football, size and body type make a big difference but in baseball, the biggest kid on the block is not the best baseball player.  A smaller kid with great hand eye coordination and bat speed can hit the ball a long way.

Pitching is the same way.  Taller bigger pitchers have a slight advantage when it comes to throwing hard but some smaller pitchers can throw as hard.  Yet pitch speed is less important than movement on the ball, especially late movement.  There are not a lot of people that can throw hard enough or have the ability to make the ball move while still throwing for accuracy.

Baseball is made to look easy by skilled players.  The game looks easy on TV or from a distance but when you have a chance to get close to the field for an extended period of time, you can see how difficult the game really is.
I've been able to stand behind the batting cage when Aroldis Chapman throws 100 plus miles an hour.  I've also seen pitchers that make the ball move. 

Next month the major league teams will draft amateur players.  There will be 1,500 players selected.

The odds of just getting drafted are:

We will make some assumptions on the total numbers of players eligible each draft year.
High School Players @ 114,159 seniors
NCAA (4 year schools) @ 12,581 juniors & seniors
NJCAA (2 year schools) @ 11,520
COA (@ year schools) @ 2,175
That gives us 140,435 "draft eligible" players.
140,129/1,500 = 94
1 player in 94 will be selected in the Major League Baseball Draft

Add to these odds the number of players in Latin America, Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia (Korea, Taipei and Japan).  Canadian players are eligible for the draft.  Latin Americans, Australians, Europeans and Asians are not drafted and any team can sign them.

In the 2008 draft just 22 players have played in at least one major league game.

One business man that I worked with during the 1994 strike, said, "The owners take all the risk."

Really, when was the last time an owner lost his lively hood when he blew out a knee or shoulder?

People think baseball players just show up, get dressed, take a little batting practice, play a three hour game and go home.  They would be surprised that the players put in a solid eight or nine hour day.  That's assuming there are no rain delays or extra innings and there is no travel.

They also don't consider the pain that players have to deal with.

In a discussion with Dusty Baker earlier this spring we discussed players leaving the game.

"Sometimes guys just get tired of the pain," Baker said.

Playing the game is still fun for the player but the work and acceptance of pain involved is not something the average person can do.

See the example below of a minor league player, who is rehabbing a sore shoulder with no guarantee he will ever earn more than a $40,000 salary from being chosen in the seventh round.  Being chosen in this round does not qualify the player for a million dollar bonus.  

"I had to leave home in January to begin my rehab in Florida with the team's rehab coordinator. He wrote up a shoulder workout routine that i had to follow on a daily basis. i got to the field everyday at 8am and did a bunch of different workouts involving 3lb weights and elastic bands to strengthen my rotator cuff. then i had to go into the weight room and lift so my daily routine lasted about 3 hours. The pain never really went away so i got a cortisone shot in February to help with the pain. Then once spring training started up i had to get the field at 7 am before everyone got there and go through my workout routine. i still basically go through the same routine everyday. it gets to be a drag going to the field an hour before everybody else but i have to do it to stay on top of things. Even to this day the pain is still there but i have to deal with it and just pitch through it.  i can't complain too much because i know there are a lot of people playing through a lot of aches and pains."

All this while staying a hotel room away from friends and family.

Those that defy the odds to make the major leagues while playing through pain, deserve the money they negotiate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Batting Order Sometimes It Works Sometimes It Doesn't

Last night Dusty Baker decided to move Jay Bruce in front of Joey Votto and hit Brandon Phillips fourth with Scott Rolen on the disabled list..

Phillips has been hot and provides protection for MVP, Joey Votto.  It also allows Bruce to see more fastballs and better pitches to hit..

It worked on Monday in a 9-5 win over Milwaukee but Marco Estrada made it look bad on Tuesday. Although the Reds only offense came when Votto walked and Phillips hitting behind him hit a home run.  The Reds had just two hits.

Pitching has a lot to do with the effectiveness of the batting order.

Bronson Arroyo handled the Brewers on Monday and Mike Leake turned in his second good start in a row but it was wasted.

Leake allowed solo home runs to Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun the meat of the Milwaukee order.  Leake left after seven innings.  Logan Ondrusek, who has pitched well and had an ERA below one coming into the game.  Ondrusek allowed a solo home run to Rickie Weeks and this time Brewer closer John Axeford made it stand up.

Axeford was losing pitcher when Ramon Hernandez hit the three-run game winning home run on opening day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Homer Bailey's Return To Be Decided Monday

Homer Bailey blanked Toledo for five innings on Sunday in the Bats 9-0 win.

The Reds will decide later today (Monday) if he needs to make another rehab start.  Sending Matt Maloney down is a signal that they are leaning toward bringing Bailey back from his shoulder impingement.

When the Reds placed him on the DL, they thought he would only miss two starts.  He was sent out for rehab. The team actually pushed this start back a couple days because Bailey reported some fatigue. 

Maloney made the team as a long reliever because of injuries to Bailey and Johnny Cueto.  He saved the Reds bullpen, "big time" according to Dusty Baker this week when starters had short outings in two games.  His reward is a ticket out.

Carlos Fisher was recalled in case the Reds needed someone for long relief.  Maloney was unavailable after making an emergency start on Friday.

Fisher could easilty be returned to Louisville with either Sam LeCure or Mike Leake placed in the bullpen for long relief, should the Reds decide Bailey is ready.

Volquez Solves First Inning Problems But Home Run Ruins Performance

For five plus innings Edinson Volquez illustrated why the Reds believe he will be the stopper at the front of the rotation.

Volquez had a well publicized problem at the start of games.  He allowed runs in the first inning in all four of his starts prior to taking the mound against St. Louis in the rubber game of the three-game series. (The rubber game is the deciding game of a series)

The Reds facing Jake Westbrook, who had also struggled for the Cardinals, could not score.  Brandon Phillips had two of the first three hits, both doubles but the Reds could not score.  The Cardinals pitched around Joey Votto.   Jonny Gomes pressed into the leadoff spot vacated by Scott Rolen, who was placed on the disabled list, missed on two chances to drive in runs.  Jay Bruce also flied out in the clutch.

Volquez was dominating the Cardinals though.  Albert Pujols had a harmless single in the first inning but Volquez was rolling into the sixth.

Hot hitting Matt Holliday led off the sixth with a double with one out.  Longtime Red killer, Lance Berkman was walked intentionally to face rookie Daniel Descalso.  Descalso popped up but Yadier Molina hit the deciding home run on the next pitch.

Volquez shook off Ryan Hanigan and threw Molina a fastball.  He appeared upset with his decision after the game.  Hanigan wanted to start Molina off with a change up.  Molina guessed correctly and hammered the pitch into the left centerfield bleachers.

The Reds drop to 11-11.  They were also 11-11 last season after 22 games but were four games behind.  This start finds them one game out after 22 games, holding the lead in the division for 20 of the first 21 games.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Volquez Shuts Out Cardinals

for one inning.  It is the first time in five starts that Volquez got out of the first inning without allowing a run.  He threw just 15 pitches.  In his first four outings he threw a minimum of 32 pitches.

Scott Rolen To DL Reds Recall Chris Valaika

Scott Rolen's left shoulder did not respond well to cortisone treatments, so he became the seventh Reds player to be placed on the disabled list.  His backup. Juan Francisco, is already there.

Chris Valaika was recalled from Louisville.  Valaika had a good spring and the Reds considered cutting Miguel Cairo and bringing Valaika to Cincinnati for opening day.

According to Dusty Baker, Rolen urged the Reds not to release the veteran Cairo.  The Reds also wanted Valaika to play everyday.  Cairo stayed.

Valaika hit .375 this spring. Cairo hit .349 in Goodyear.

Valaika was hitting .306 with a home run and six RBI at Louisville.

Rolen is eligible to come off the DL on May 6.  Francisco can come off May 1.

Matt Maloney saved the Reds in two games this week.  His reward a trip to Louisville.  When he had to be the emergency starter on Friday because of the rain, he would not be available for a few games.  The Reds rather than being short for a few games, optioned Maloney and recalled Carlos Fisher.

Realistically, Maloney would have been the odd man out when Homer Bailey and/or Johnny Cueto come back.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grudge Match Between Reds and Cardinals

Will Edinson Volquez solve his first inning problems?  Will Kyle McClellan ease the pain of losing Adam Wainwright by continuing to be effective?  Who will prevail between the two winningest active managers in the National League?  Who will be in first place in the National League Central when the series concludes on Easter Sunday?

Okay, will there be any sign of the obvious bad blood between the two teams?  Will they imitate hockey? Or just play baseball as Kirk Gibson would say, "balls out."

Tony La Russa was right when he stormed away from a post game interview earlier this month when concern over Albert Pujols lowly hitting was expressed.  Pujols is back to normal.  The Reds are one of his favorite victims. Pujols with five home runs and 10 RBI in his last 10 games,  Pujols has a lifetime .356 average with 43 home runs and 133 RBI in 159 games the equivolent of on season.

New Cardinal, Lance Berkman, has 49 home runs and 137 RBI against the Reds in just 152 games with a .314 average.

Edinson Volquez is 1-1 with a 4,98 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals.

McClellen was skipped by La Russa because rain is threatening to halt the game.  Miguel Batista is starting instead for St. Louis.

Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has played just 44 games against the Cardinals in his career with a ,299 average eight home runs and 20 RBI.

Appropriate to the contentious tone of this series, Fox Sports Ohio has an undercard of boxing planned for rain delays.

Two years ago La Russa accused the Reds of doctoring the baseballs to make them slick for Cardinal pitchers.  The Cardinals have asked umpires to check Bronson Arroyo's cap for foreign substances.  And then hostilities exploded when Reds secondbaseman Brandon Phillips called La Russa and his team a group of "Whiny Bitches."  Early this spring Jonny Gomes was incorrectly, showing delight that Wainwright suffered a serious injury.  The incident did not happen as originally reported but some will still hold it against him.

Former Cardinal and current thirdbaseman, Scott Rolen, will sit out the opening game with a sore left shoulder.  Rolen and La Russa did not part on friendly terms.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dusty And Arroyo Still Positive After Reds Fourth Straight Loss

Bronson Arroyo said this after the Reds swept the Milwaukee Brewers to open the season,"How many times have you seen on team sweep another then get swept by them a week later."

Arroyo's mood never changes.  He's been the same after those awful games when he's given up 10 runs in the first inning.  (He did that twice in one year.)  He is the same when he throws a complete game shutout.

Fans don't get it but Baker does.

"Bad times are temporary," Baker said.  "When you're going through a tough time whether its in baseball or not, its the worst time of your life.  Then you forget it until the next "worst time" comes along."

Baker and Arroyo have been through losing streaks like this many, many times before.

"The shining light is Bronson pitched a good game.  One run is not that big a deficit.  You want to win big time but bullpen preservation was big tonight.  It put us in a good position," Baker said.

Fans panic when their team goes through struggles.

"You keep plugging away but you be more positive with the guys.  There are people that want you to yell at them, kick.  That only makes it worse.  Nobody feels worse than those guys in that room out there.  Nobody is trying harder than those guys in that room out there.  You can't do anything about what fans think.  Everybody wrote us off last year when we got swept in Philadelphia.(right before all-star break).  They wrote us off even later when we got swept by the Cardinals. And in April last year when we got swept by the Pirates.  There is a whole bunch of ball left.  I'm not making excuses or anything but we're missing Cueto and Bailey.  That's forty percent of your starting pitching.  We lost Brandon (Phillips) for a week.  Even when we were winning we weren't playing as well as we can play.  You have sleepless nights when you're losing but our best days as a team are ahead.  As long as we don't listen to people.  As long as we don't panic.  We continue to work hard things are going to be great.  I'm as positive as I ever was.  I'm not as happy.  But I'm positive."

Arroyo said, "It's the ebb and flow of the game.  Early on we were getting the big hit.  Now we're not.  We were making the big pitch. We're giving up a couple big runs on the pitching side.  It's such a long season.  You cherish every win you get.  It seem like they are going to keep coming but you know you're going to go to the other side of the mountain.  Those are the times you keep coming.  You try to simplify things."

"It is probably our fault for raising expectations in the first place," Baker said.

D Train On Track Dontrelle Willis Shines In Louisville

Dontrelle Willis was well on his way to earning a spot in the Reds bullpen this spring but two outings in which he couldn't throw strikes at the end of March caused the Reds to go East without him.

Willis with a big smile on his face as always, has had his way with the Bats opponents.

Willis made his third start tonight against the Columbus Clippers (Indians).  He threw five scoreless innings which gave him 17 straight scoreless innings. Chad Huffman led off the sixth with a home run to end the streak.

In three games Willis has a 2-0 record, a 0.53 ERA and has 15 strikeouts and five walks..

Hold On To The Radar Gun Aroldis Chapman Enters the Game

Bronson Arroyo had a weird game.  He struck out eight and only gave up five hits in 6 1/3 innings but four of the hits were doubles.  He struck out seven of nine batters at one point.

Aroldis Chapman relieves him in the seventh, pitching to Miguel Montero.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kirk Gibson A Fierce Competitor and A Sparky Anderson Protege

There is no nonsense with Kirk Gibson, the Arizona Diamondback's manager.  Everything he does is focused.  He is the epitome of the blue collar work ethic.

Last spring in Goodyear, Arizona, I was in the manager's office at Goodyear Ballpark with several others for the pre-game meeting every manager holds with the press.  At the assigned time, the writers walked in to find Gibson engrossed in a hockey game.  His son was playing hockey in frigid Flint, Michigan and Gibson had it on his laptop streaming live.

One writer asked him, "That a tough place to be right now, isn't it?"

Gibson glared at him, ignoring the fact that Flint was some 60 degrees colder that day than the weather we enjoyed in Arizona.

"What's so tough about it? I used to work there man," Gibson said, calmly but sternly.  "Did you live there?" the writer asked.

"I worked there.  I worked at auto plant in the summer when I was still in college," Gibson said.  Gibson was a gifted athlete.  He played baseball at Michigan State in nearby East Lansing but also was a standout wide receiver for the Spartans.  I lived in Toledo then and saw a lot of Big 10 football.  I remember him making tough catch after tough catch.

Yet unlike most pampered college athletes, Gibson made time to work in a factory.

Goodyear Ballpark had Anderson's number 10 on the field to honor the Hall of Fame manager who guided the Reds and Gibson's team, the Detroit Tigers to World Championships.

The subject turned to two members of his team, the blue collar, grind it out competitor that was Gibson before injuries ended his playing days, and  Ryan Roberts, a 30-year old former 18th round draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays. Roberts is the Diamondbacks everyday thirdbaseman after splitting parts of five seasons, including last year in the minor leagues.  He also talked about Willie Bloomquist, who helped the Reds down the stretch last season.

"If  there were two guys that stood out, going balls out, its those two guys.  Just the way the go about their business, great grit and determination. I'd like to see our team be more like that," Gibson said.  "I will say this in fairness.  You really can't be like that all the time for 162 games.  Sparky Anderson used to teach me, 'big boy, you're never going to make it.  There's times to be that way.  And there's times when you try to be just more efficient.'  Both those two guys lay it all out. I appreciate it."

Sparky Anderson taught Gibson a lot.

"Sparky taught me the game, period," Gibson said.  "He taught me how to play the game right.  He taught me how to be a professional. He taught me to appreciate that it was an honor to wear the uniform.  He taught me to stick up for the game.  He taught us all that.  The guys that were with him for a long time. The guys that were with him for a long time, all understand it. All of them."

 Gibson still walks with the limp that is seen on highlights of the 1988 World Series.  Gibson hit one of most dramatic home runs in World Series history. He beat Dennis Eckersly and the Oakland Athletics to set the tone for the unlikely sweep with a pinch hit home run when he was so badly hurt that he could barely walk.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
for proof reading services call

Kirk Gibson 1988 World Series Home Run Call Montage Sound Clip and Quote

Kirk Gibson 1988 World Series Home Run Call Montage Sound Clip and Quote

Phillips Back Reds Stick With Leake

Brandon Phillips was unhappy sitting with a sore right groin on the bench for the last four games.  He had nothing to do but tweet and he was prolific.  Manager Dusty Baker stood by his policy of giving a player one extra day off when they say they're ready and pass all of the physical tests.

Phillips was upset and talked it over with the manager.  Baker convinced the gold glove secondbaseman that it was in the best interest of Phillips and the team.  "Dusty explained it was a marathon not a race," Phillips said by tweet.  The expression is that the baseball season is a marathon not a sprint but race is easier to tweet.

Mike Leake, who applied for a diversion program to avoid jail time, will pitch against Arizona on Thursday as scheduled.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Baker Wonders What to do With Chapman Reds Need LeCure

Dusty Baker is was hoping that Aroldis Chapman could fill the bullpen void left by Arthur Rhodes.

"And people wanted him to be the closer," Baker said.  "A closer has to go three, four, sometimes five games in a row.  We can't afford to give him four days off.  I was hoping he could step in.  He hasn't been acclimated."

Wood's short stop threatened to burn an already tired bullpen.

"You can't keep going to the bullpen in the third or fourth inning," Baker said.  "That's how long losing streaks get started.  We need young Sam (LeCure) tomorrow.  Maloney saved us again.  That's why we couldn't go to Maloney yesterday."

There was nothing wrong with Wood but the Pirates put together good at bats and wore him down.

"He threw 40 some pitches in the first inning.  That's like three innings.  The Pirates wore him down by fouling off a lot of pitches," Baker said.

Wood agreed.

"They fouled off some good pitches and they hit some good pitches," Wood said.

With four days rest Chapman was his flame throwing self with one pitch registering 106 on the Great American Ball Park scoreboard in his 1-2-3 inning.

"I feel good.  I don't think my speed went away," Chapman said through interpreter, Tomas Vera. "My arm felt good."

Chapman's license plate reads 105mph.

So, I asked,  "Do you have to change your license plate?"

"I already have one with 106," Chapman said.

Chapman Fastball Hit 106 MPH

An Aroldis Chapman's pitch registered 106 mph on pitch to Andrew McCutchen in the ninth inning..  McCutchen struck out during the at bat.  Chapman, who last pitched Wednesday in San Diego, rested after his velocity slipped.

Leake Arrested Wood Punished

News of Mike Leake's arrest for shoplifting wasn't bad enough.

Travis Wood, who pitched brilliantly in his last outing, was punished by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Bucs followed a one-out walk to Jose Tabata with three straight singles.  Before the smoke cleared Wood had been whipped for three runs.

The Pirates have scored seven first-inning runs in the last two games and took two of the first three games of the series.  Edinson Volquez gave up four runs in the first inning on Sunday.  For the second time this season Volquez gave up home runs to the first two batters of the game.

The Reds scored a run in the second when Rolen doubled moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a throwing error by Pirate thirdbaseman, Steve Pearce.

Wood appeared to be settled in but the Pirates pushed him completely off the plank in the fourth inning.  He gave up three more hits and two runs before Dusty Baker removed him.  Jordan Smith, who has been busy lately, allowed a run to score that was charged to Wood and two more charged to him in his 2/3 innings.

It was the third straight day of work for Smith, who has been pressed into action since, Aroldis Chapman has been out of action.  Chapman left the game last Wednesday early with fatigue.  His velocity fell to an alarmingly low 92.  Chapman's command was way off as well.

Brandon Phillips Sitting Down Sitting Better.

When Brandons Phillips strained his groin last Wednesday in San Diego, he expected to play on Friday.  Manager Dusty Baker disagreed and the boss prevailed.

Phillips was ok with that but was less than pleased after he sat out the second and third day.  

After a phone conversation around 3:00 this afternoon with Baker, Phillips was convinced that Baker knew best.

"After talking to Dusty, it made me realize how blessed I am to play for him.  He is looking out for my well being and I love him for that.  I understand why I'm not playing cause it's not a race it's a marathon! Im glad he is doing this cause i would play hurt, but if anyone needs me I will be in the Diamond Club," Phillips said via Twitter.

Juan Francisco and Jared Burton DL Jeremy Hermida's Contract Selected

Juan Francisco was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday with a strained left calf.  The 23-year old was injured in the game Saturday afternoon.  Jared Burton a March 28th exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox before completing his assigned inning. Burton was placed on the 15-day disabled list to start the season with inflammation in his right shoulder.  He was moved to the 60-day disabled list, which removes him from the 40-man roster.

The move allows the Reds to select the contract of Jeremy Hermida from the Louisville roster.  Hermida had a fine spring at the plate.  He played in 22 games, hitting .342 with 13 hits in 38 at bats. He hit three home runs and drove in 12 runs.  He also walked nine times for an on-base-percentage of .458.

The left handed hitting outfielder, played for Boston and Oakland last year after spending his first eight seasons in the Florida Marlins organization.  The 27-year old Atlanta native was the Marlins first round selection the 2002 draft.  He can play the corner outfield positions.

The Reds signed him to a minor league contract on January 4.

Mike Leake and Reds Issue Statements Concerning Accusations

Mike Leake is in Great American Ball Park after being accused of shoplifting T-shirts valued around $60 on Monday.  Leake is in uniform but it is not known if he will miss any time on the field.

Reds Statement issued Reds Director of Media Relations, Rob Butcher:

"On behalf of the Cincinnati Reds organization, at this time we are advised to not publicly address this matter because of the pending legal proceedings.  However, we do not condone behavior of the type alleged, which is wholly inconsistent with the principles of this organization and our community and is detrimental to the positive direction we seek to follow.  When the legal process has been completed, we will handle this matter internally."

Butcher also issued the following statement on behalf of  Mike Leake

"Today, Mike Leake was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of theft from the Macy's store downtown.  Right now, he has been advised by his attorney to offer no further statements on this matter.  This case will proceed in the justice system, where Mike's story will be told.  Until that time, there will be nothing further from Mike on this episode until court proceedings have concluded.  However, Mike wishes to apologize to his family, the  fans, Mr. Castellinii, Walt (Jocketty), Dusty (Baker), his teammates and the entire Reds organization for this distraction."

Mike Leake Accused of Shoplifting

Cincinnati pitcher Mike Leake is accused of stealing T-shirts from Macy's downtown store.

Leake was arrested around 2:45 and is not yet available for comment.

Reds Split This Weekend But Lions Wouldn't Share

"Clutch Man Monie" did it again.  Ramon Hernandez, the newly naturalized American catcher, hit a grand slam home run to help the Reds clobber Pittsburgh on Saturday.  Jonny Gomes hit three home runs this weekend, two Saturday and another on Sunday.

Mike Leake rebounded from a bad start last Sunday with a six inning, two-run outing on Saturday.  Leake was moved up a day because Edinson Volquez had a stiff neck.

Volquez has a 23.50 ERA in his four first inning but has a 1.93 ERA after the first inning.  He allowed four first inning runs and six runs in his six inning, Sunday start.

Again the Reds potent offense bailed him out.  The Reds even took the lead on a Jay Bruce home run.  Bruce's bat has picked up the last three games.  The Pirates seem to bring out the best in Bruce.  He hit his first two home runs off Pittsburgh pitching last season and followed suit this weekend.  He ruined Charlie Morton's shutout on Friday and belted another on Sunday.

I took a break from Reds action to perform Public Address duties and official scoring at the College of Mount St. Joe who swept a three-game weekend series against the Panthers of Hanover College.

The Lions played good defense all weekend.  The double play combination of shortstop, Josh Denny and John Pasqualed turned some nifty twin killings to complement the solid pitching of Ben Hunterman, Drew Ernst and Brandon Bouley.  Ernst from Elder high school also contributed a key pinch hit double on Saturday in the 5-4 win.  Ernst completed a seven-inning 5-1 win over Hanover in the first game of Sunday's double header.  Bouley allowed a first inning run in the second game then shut down the Panthers before turning the game over to the bullpen, in the nightcap win also a 5-1 effort.

After meeting with Dusty Baker every day for six weeks in Goodyear, Arizona plus the last five regular season games.  I have written and/or said the two-word combination so often it was seared into my brain.

The umpire for the first game of the Hanover - Mount series was Dusty Bryant.  Guess what came over the PA.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Volquez Scratched With A Stiff Neck

Edinson Volquez has a stiff neck and his scheduled start was pushed back until Sunday.

Mike Leake will move up and pitch against the Pirates on Saturday.

Morton Tops Arroyo In 6-1 Loss To Pittsburgh

Charile Morton and Bronson Arroyo entered the game with identical earned run averages, 2.08.

But Morton's teammates got to his Cincinnati counterpart for five runs in three innings.  After a scoreless first inning, the Pirates started swinging the bats.  Garrett Jones homered to right to lead off the second inning. Chris Snyder singled in a run in the third.  Lyle Overbay singled home Jose Tabata, who had his first four-hit game. Pittsburgh native, Neil Walker hit a two-run home run to right to cap the scoring in the fourth.

That was the end for Arroyo.  His original team handed him his first loss of the season, after a 2-0 start.

"Bronson didn't have his good command," Dusty Baker said.  "You could tell by the number of 0-2 hits and two-out hits."

"I got to 0-2 to a lot of guys," Arroyo said.  "But I didn't have a pitch to put them away. It was the best I've felt all year. You have to tip your hat to Charlie.  A guy who was beaten around last year, he pitched a great game."

Morton started three games against the Reds last year, allowing 11 runs in 14.1 innings.  He escaped a loss in one of those but took losses in the other two.

"He was a power pitcher last year but he had a lot of sink on his pitches tonight," Baker said.  "We hit a lot of balls into the ground."

Morton gave up just five hits, two ground ball singles to Drew Stubbs and a couple flares until Jay Bruce spoiled his shutout with a home run.  It came with two outs in the ninth.

It was the first home run for Bruce and Baker took that as one of the positives.

"You hate to lose but you try to take something positive out of each game," Baker said.

"If you can give a game ball in a loss, you'd give one to Matt Maloney," Baker said..  Maloney held the Pirates over five innings.  His last time out he was racked by Arizona for seven runs (five earned) in 1 2/3 innings.  He saved Bakers already beat up bullpen with 14 games in 14 days.

"You don't want to start out a stretch like that with your bullpen overworked.  Maloney saved us big time," Baker said.


Joey Votto was hitless for the second time this season but was on base twice with walks.  He had reached base at least once in all 14 games.

Brandon Phillips was out of the game with a strained groin.  He managed to put out 36 tweets in two hours during his inactivity.

Edinson Volquez was scratched from his start tomorrow with a stiff neck.  Mike Leake will pitch Saturday.  Volquez will go back to work on Sunday.

Defending Dusty Baker - The Mystery - Why Do I Need To

Top 36 Managers sorted by number of wins

Rk Mgr Yrs G W 6 L W-L%
1 Connie Mack HOF 53 7755 3731 3948 .486
2 John McGraw HOF 33 4769 2763 1948 .586
3 Tony LaRussa 33 4946 2643 2300 .535
4 Bobby Cox 29 4508 2504 2001 .556
5 Joe Torre 29 4329 2326 1997 .538
6 Sparky Anderson HOF 26 4030 2194 1834 .545
7 Bucky Harris HOF 29 4410 2158 2219 .493
8 Joe McCarthy HOF 24 3487 2125 1333 .615
9 Walter Alston HOF 23 3658 2040 1613 .558
10 Leo Durocher HOF 24 3739 2008 1709 .540
11 Casey Stengel HOF 25 3766 1905 1842 .508
12 Gene Mauch 26 3942 1902 2037 .483
13 Bill McKechnie HOF 25 3647 1896 2351 .524
14 Lou Piniella 23 3548 1835 1713 .517
15 Ralph Houk 20 3157 1619 1531 .514
16 Fred Clarke HOF 19 2829 1602 1181 .576
17 Tom Lasorda HOF 21 3041 1599 1439 .526
18 Dick Williams HOF 21 3023 1571 1451 .520
19 Jim Leyland 20 3025 1498 1525 .496
20 Clark Griffith HOF 20 2918 1491 1367 .522
21 Earl Weaver HOF 17 2541 1480 1060 .583
22 Dusty Baker 18 2702 1413 1288 .523
23 Miller Huggins HOF 17 2570 1413 1134 .555
24 Al Lopez HOF 17 2425 1410 1004 .584
25 Jimmy Dykes 21 2962 1406 1541 .477
26 Wilbert Robinson HOF 19 2819 1399 1398 .500
27 Chuck Tanner 19 2738 1352 1381 .495
28 Ned Hanlon HOF 19 2530 1313 1164 .530
29 Cap Anson HOF 21 2288 1296 947 .578
30 Charlie Grimm 19 2368 1287 1067 .547
31 Frank Selee HOF 16 2180 1284 862 .598
32 Whitey Herzog HOF 18 2409 1281 1125 .532
33 Bruce Bochy 17 2586 1280 1306 .495
34 Billy Martin 16 2267 1253 1013 .553
35 Bill Rigney 18 2561 1239 1321 .484
36 Joe Cronin HOF 15 2315 1236 1055 .540

From Baseball-Reference.com

For some reason, the natives in Reds country are upset with Dusty Baker for the Reds loss Wednesday. As if Baker threw the game winning pitch or failed to drive in the insurance runs.

Over 162 games, all players struggle. If you don't believe me check Albert Pujols stats right now. Any one with half a brain knows that Pujols will not end the season below at .229.

I've debated some people that claim to know the sport that think this way.

"Lastly didnt say Dusty the guy is dumb. I dont know him. But i have seen the results of his managing. And the stuff I have seen has led me to the conclusion that he is the dumbest manager in the game."

I will withhold the name so that he is not totally embarrased by his ignorance.

After you look at the rankings of the top 36 managers,note:

Baker is the 22nd winningest manager of all-time.

When the Reds win their 77th game of the season, Baker will pass
Hall of Fame manager, Earl Weaver.

When the Reds win their 89th game of the season, Baker will pass
Hall of Fame manager, Clark Griffith and crack the top 20.

He is behind only Tony La Russa among active managers. La Russa
has 2643 wins in 33 years, Baker 1413 in 18 years.

La Russa is winning at a .535 clip 86 wins a year. Baker is at .523
84 wins a year. That's an average of two games over 162.

Baker has a higher winning percentage than nine managers ahead of him
on the list.

Baker has a higher winning percentage than 14 managers on the list,
including these managers that are in the Hall of Fame, strictly on
their record as managers, Wilbert Robinson, Dick Williams and
Casey Stengal, who had the advantage of managing the Yankees during
the era of the reserve clause.

It all points to Dusty Baker is qualified for the Hall of Fame as a manager.

I rest my case. Rebuttal anyone?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reds Total Team Effort Beats Padres 8-2 in 11 Innings


Clutch pitching, clutch hitting and clutch defense, gave the Reds what they needed in an 8-2 win over San Diego's tough bullpen.

The reigning NL Central champs had so many clutch plays by so many people it is difficult to know where to start, so I will just go to the beginning.

Sam LeCure, an afterthought against more hyped young pitching, gave the Reds a clutch start.  He pitched six very strong innings.  The University of Texas hurler, who has never been compared to the great hurlers in the game, just pitched.  He struck out eight, a career high.  Unfortunately, he walked Nick Hundley ahead of Alberto Gonzalez with the Reds holding a one-run lead courtesy of Jonny Gomes clutch two-out double.

Gonzalez hit a flare down the rightfield line for a triple to score Hundley.  Jay Bruce's throw rolled away from Scott Rolen.  Rolen hustled to chase the ball down as Gonzalez tried to score.  His sliding stop and throw home from his knees kept the game tied.

Former Michigan QB, Clayton Richard, was tough.  Jay Bruce, who was struggling, singled.  Paul Janish hit a comeback ball to the mound and it should have been a double play but Richard rushed his throw and both runners were safe. They advanced to second and third and Drew Stubbs delivered the run with a ground out.

LeCure, who is being stretched out, had to leave the game and Aroldis Chapman retired 15 Padres in a row through seven innings.  Chapman didn't hit 100 on the radar gun but had probably his best outing.

Nick Masset, who is having another tough April, started the eighth.  Masset owns two of the Reds three losses.  Hundley singled for the Padres second hit. Cameron Mabin doubled off the leftfield fence.  San Diego had the winning run in scoring position with no outs.  But Masset bore down.  He struck out Gonzalez.  Pinch hitter Eric Patterson grounded out to Brandon Phillips to tie the game.  Masset got a slow ground ball out of speedy Will Venable up the middle.  The only chance Phillips had to preserve the tie was to bare hand the ball and throw off balance to nip Venable.  He did it.  (I have asked Phillips how he expects to win a gold glove if he keeps bare handing the ball.)

Bill Bray started the ninth.  Orlando Hudson greeted him with a double.  Now the winning run is on second with no out.  Chase Headley popped up a bunt attempt that Ryan Hanigan ran down.  The Reds walked Ryan Ludwick intentionally.  Logan Ondrusek came on and struck out pinch hitter Jorge Cantu.  Hundley worked Ondrusek for a walk.  Maybain thought he hit a game winning single but Bruce ran it down to send the game to the 10th.

Mike Adams, who had a great 2010, had little trouble with the Reds in the 10th.

Gonzalez started the 10th with a single.  Former Red Chris Denorfia hit one through the middle off Ondrusek's wrist.  The big righthander found it in time to get the out with the winning run moving to second.
Venable was walked intentionally to set up a double play but Hudson;s slow roller eluded Rolen for an infield hit, loading the bases.

For the second straight inning, Ondrusek worked out of it.  He struck out Headley.  Ryan Ludwick hit a line drive to left but Gomes made his second fine catch of the night to keep Cincinnati alive.

Marion Ohio native and Ohio State baseball stand out, Corey Luebke, got two quick outs, retiring Joey Votto and Rolen.  Gomes lined a ball to right that Venable was lucky to cut off in rightfield for a single.  Hanigan fought off some tough pitches before hitting a 3-2 pitch down the leftfield line as Gomes hustled home
Bruce put together a great at bat to walk.  Chris Heisey, last night's hero singled to right to give him eight RBI in just 16 at bats.  Stubbs belted a long three-run home run to cap the scoring.

Francisco Cordero breezed through the 11th.

Ondrusek is now 7-0 for his career.  Rob Murphy won his first eight decisions in 1986 and 87.  The last Red righthanded pitcher to win 6 games to start his career was Billy Rhines in 1890.

The win tied Dusty Baker with Miller Huggins, a Cincinnati native buried in Spring Grove Cemetary for 22nd place on the manager's win list with 1,413 wins.  This is an impressive note.

The Reds made a big deal out of  Baker winning his 250th game with his third different team.  Although only 11 managers have done it, the stat doesn't mean a whole lot.  First of all the manager needs to be fired a couple times and when you think about it, just 50 wins a year for five seasons get you 250 wins.  If a manager only wins 50 game in a year, he's losing 112 games a year.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WNBA Draft Two Xavier Stars, Brandon Phillip's Sister and Brittany Spears

Amber Harris was selected by the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA on Monday.  The Xavier star became the highest drafted Xavier grad in history.   She will be a teammate of the first player chosen in the draft, Maya Moore of Connecticut.

Harris' Musketeer teammate, Ta'Shia Phillips was selected by the Atlanta Dream with the seventh pick.  She was promptly traded to the Washington Mystics.

Porsha Phillips, who was a Xavier opponents was taken in the second round by the San Antonioa Silver Stars.  Phillips is the younger sister of Reds' secondbaseman Brandon Phillips.  We can't say she is his little sister because she stands at 6'2", a couple inches taller than Brandon also known as DatDudeBP on twitter.  Porsha was the 30th player selected.

Brittany Spears was also chosen by the Phoenix Mercury.  She played at Colorado.  I got you on that one with the headline, didn't I?

Jantel Lavender of Ohio State was the fifth player selected in the draft.  She would play for the Los Angeles Sparks.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reds Imperfect Set Sights On 161-1 As Astros Win 3-2

The season opening winning streak came to an end as Chris Heisey predicted two nights ago.

"We're probably going to lose a game," Heisey said after his three RBI night on Wednesday.  "But if we do go 162-0 we'll have some big headlines."

Going 161-1 would only be slightly smaller as the Reds tasted defeat for the first time this season but it wasn't for  lack of effort.

Brett Myers had a great season in 2010, pitching into the sixth inning in all 32 of his starts.  He pitched into the seventh on Thursday, allowing the Reds just two runs.  In fact he allowed just one until the last pitch he threw which pinch hitter, Scott Rolen sent as a souvenir to customers sitting in the leftfield stands.

Sam LeCure, who seems to draw the best pitchers as opponents, matched Myers pretty well.  LeCure didn't know he was a starter until just prior to his last Cactus League assignment, hasn't been stretched out but kept the team in the game.

Jason Bourgeois, replacing a banged up Michael Bourn, singled to start the game.  He stole second.  Bourgeois got to third with one out when Angel Sanchez bunted him over.  He scored on a groundout.

"Sam threw the ball great," Dusty Baker said.  "He kept us in the game."

The other run scored off LeCure when Carlos Lee tripled to open the fourth.  Brett Wallace's ground out got him home.

"It was a get me over fastball," LeCure said.  "I thought he hit it out.  I was ready to get a new ball from the umpire.  I'm surprised it stayed in.  I didn't think he'd be ready for it.  It's just a reminder that you have to keep your focus every pitch."

Jonny Gomes drew his eighth walk of the season to start the second and scored on Edgar Renteria's double, one of the World Series MVP's three hits.  He was on base all four plate appearances.  The Reds loaded the bases but Myers got Drew Stubbs to pop out to secondbase.

"We had our chances.  We didn't get the two out hits.  They got one.  We just got beat," Baker said.

Rolen's home run tied the game in the seventh as he hit for Jordan Smith who pitched two scoreless innings.

It was the last pitch Myers threw.

Mark Melancon and Fernando Abad kept the Reds off the scoreboard leading into the ninth.

Nick Masset allowed two runners in the eighth but started the ninth with the tie intact.

Wallace singled to open the ninth but Chris Johnson and Bill Hall flied out.  Masset got two strikes on Humberto Quintero but he singled to left.  Matt Downs hit a two-strike double to put the Astros up 3-2.

"Masset threw the ball great.  He just hung a slider to Downs.  He had two strikes on bottom of the lineup guys.  It shows that everybody who swings a bat is dangerous," Baker said.

"I made some good pitches and they put some goos swings on the ball," Masset said.  "It's part of the game.  You can't do anything about it."

Drama built in the Reds ninth as it did opening day a week ago.

Heisey flied to right and Stubbs grounded out to first, off Brandon Lyon.  Sweet swinging tweeter DatdudeBP, Brandon Phillips, singled up the middle.  Reigning MVP Joey Votto scorched a base hit off Wallace's chest at firstbase.

Opening Day hero Ramon Hernandez was called for a repeat performance.  He hit a hard ground ball up the middle but Angel Sanchez, who had a rough series in the field gloved it and got the force out

"We keep going until the last out is made," Hernandez said.  "That's what we did."

"We just have to go on the road and start a new streak," Baker said.

Big Red Machine Pitching Coach Dies at 92

Larry Shepard Big Red Machine Pitching Coach
Sparky Anderson's pitching coach, Larry Shepard, died last night at the age of 92 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Shepard known as "Shep" was in charge of the Reds staff from 1970-1978, which was Anderson's entire term as Reds manager.

Shepard managed the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1968 and part of 1969.  He also served as pitching coach for the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.

What La Russa Said Was Right But Delivery Was Wrong

Albert Pujols will not end the season with a .182 batting average.  Cardinal manager Tony La Russa's words were correct, his delivery was awful.  I'll go out on a limb and say that Paul Janish won't hit ..444 for the season either.

Everyone remotely connected with baseball knows that a five or six game sample can be very misleading.  Games in April count as much as games in September but neither tells the story of the season.

The problem I have with La Russa is the condescending way he delivered his message.  By his body language and his aggressive speach, he was basically telling the press that "you don't know anything."

I have news for La Genius.  The press knows more than he thinks they do.  However, they are paid to get La Russa's comments because fans don't have access to him.  No one cares about the opinion of the press.  Even if the press is right.

All he had to do is say what he had to say.  When the shoe was on the other foot, Dusty Baker said basically the same thing.  When Pujols and Yadier Molina and company were hitting .400 after the season opening series in Cincinnati in which St. Louis beat the Reds two out of three games.

Baker calmly said, 'that Joey Votto would not end the season in the .100's and Pujols and Molina were not going to hit .400.   Young and inexperienced fans needed to hear that from him.

What Baker did NOT do was try to make everyone feel like they know nothing.

Baker is a professional.  La Russa is a born cry baby.

Tony face the music like a man.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Volquez Over Pitches But Reds Rally for 12-4 Win Fifth Straight.

Edinson Volquez doesn't want to be known as just a thrower.  He trusts all his pitches.  Normally, it is a good thing but Dusty Baker said he "overpitched".

Volquez perhaps stinging from allowing the first two batters he faced this season to hit home runs, was trying to out fox the Houston Astros.

That strategy put Volquez in a four run hole.  He walked three, gave up four hits and four runs in the first inning.  The first six outs he recorded were by strkeout.

"He trusts all of his stuff.  He was showing all of his pitches to every hitter.  Even when they couldn't catch up to his fastball.  He never established his fastball in a location and lost his command.  Sometimes young pitchers are caught between being a pitcher and a thrower," Baker said.

Baker told Volquez to forget about strikeouts.

"I didn't think they would leave me out there for five innings.  Strikeouts are good but they are bad because you throw a lot of pitches," Volquez said.

After the first inning Volquez pitched four scoreless innings while his teammates picked him up like they did on  opening day with 12 unanswered runs.

"They didn't really get to him.  He got to himself.  We were trying to stick with him.  We didn't want to go to the bullpen that early.  We have our first stretch of games without a day off.  We don't want to get deep into the bullpen so soon," Baker said.

This was the second of nine games in nine days.

"I'm glad that we came back our offense is still rolling," Baker said.

Brandon Phillips had three hits.

"We have his back," Phillips said.  "He made some mistakes but we're winning.  It's a beautiful thing."

Those that had his back as the Reds erased the deficit with one run in the second and five in the third.

Joey Votto, hitting .389, had two hits.  Scott Rolen had a two-run double and three RBI.  Jay Bruce had a pair of hits.   Paul Janish, who is known more for his glove than his bat, was 3-for-5 and drove in two runs.  Janish is hitting .444 five games into the season.

"Right now we're clicking.  Volquie had a rough first inning.  He was big fighting through five innings.  It's big for us to keep having tough at bats and come right at them," Janish said.

The start couldn't be better for Janish individually and the Reds collectively.

"I had a good spring training," Janish said..  "I felt good coming into the season.  It's definitely good to get off to a good start.  It's a long season but its good to get off to a good start.  It's better than an 0 fer.  We hope to keep it rolling right into the road trip."

The Reds lead is 1 1/2 over the Pittsburgh Pirates but 3 1/2 over the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals.  Both the latter teams are expected by experts to challenge the Reds defense of the NL Central title.

Weird Line For Volquez

Edinson Volquez threw 43 pitches in the first inning.  Four Astros scored as he walked three, allowed four hits and struck out three.

But the Dominican Bulldog lasted for five innings.  Long enough to be in line for the win as his Reds mates hit, ran and took advantage of some odd plays to build a 10-4 lead.

Volquez lasted five innings, allowed just one hit over the last four and one more walk.  He struck out eight.

Paul Janish has three hits. Scott Rolen hit a two-run double and drove another home with a fielder's choice as Brandon Phillips forced the issue at home, beating the throw home by 3B Chris Johnson.

Brandon Phillips had three hits.  Joey Votto and Jay Bruce each had two hits.

Baseball Voices Available at Amazon.com and I-Tunes

Jonny Walker Gomes

Jonny Gomes is getting the night off.  Not due to poor performance far from it.  In the team concept the Reds use everybody plays, everybody stays ready.

Jay Bruce sat last night because Chris Heisey needed to play.  Heisey had a great spring and Dusty Baker didn't want him to lose it by sitting two long.

"We needed to get Heisey in there two days in a row.  Plus we have a day game after a night game so we will have a fresh Jonny Gomes tomorrow," Baker said.

Gomes signed with Cincinnati three years ago, when he didn't have a job.  Baker picked the spots for him to play in which he could be successful.  He had trouble breaking into a Tampa Bay lineup that had 10 years of high draft choices.  His development was obstructed by an array of talent.  Gomes not the most talented but one of the hardest workers.

Gomes walked 39 times all last season.  He has walked seven times in four games this season already.

"He used to get himself out," Baker said.  "He's come a long way. It starts with concentration and focus. Early in the count if its not a good pitch to hit. You don't swing at it.  So, that's how you get walks.  You don't get walks by just taking pitches.  You get them by not swinging at low percentage pitches."

"It's hard to get the big bass by throwing out bad bait.  You catch the little fish because they take the first bait you throw out there.  Jonny's a hitter not a taker but you swing at better pitches to hit."

On the flip side the Reds starting pitchers have walked just four in four games.

"That's what you try to do too," Baker said.  "If you're not walking people but you're getting walks there is a good chance that you're winning."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

For the First Time in 21 Years the Reds Start the Season 4-0 with 8-2 Win

The wire-to-wire World Champion Reds of 1990 won its first nine games.

Twenty-one years later the 2011 Reds are off to its fastest start since then.  The Houston Astros, who were the first victims in 1990 are the second in line this season.

The Reds jumped on a hapless, J.A Happ for five runs in the first two innings. The Reds had just three hits but watched pitch after pitch drift out of the strike zone on Happ to build a quick lead.  Joey Votto singled and doubled.  Scott Rolen doubled, Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs had a pair of hits.  Chris Heisey had two RBI without an official at bat, walking with the bases loaded in the first and was hit by a pitch with the bases jammed in the second.  He lined a single for his third RBI in the fourth inning.

"There's nothing like having more RBI than hits," Heisey said.  "It's great to be able to get off to a good start. I want to get runs home any way I can to help us win."

Meanwhile, Mike Leake held Houston in check.  He allowed a hit and two walks in the first four innings.  The Astros scored a pair of runs in the fifth but Leake pitched a perfect sixth before turning the lead over to the bullpen.  Leake also manufactured a run, beating out a bunt for a hit moving to third on a Stubbs single and scoring on as sacrifice fly by Miguel Cairo.

"He was going to be with the team out of spring training but we couldn't tell him that," said Dusty Baker of Leake.  Leake was battling with Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney for two starting spots in the rotation.  "He was overthrowing a bit during spring training but even though he doesn't have a long track record, we know what he can do," Baker said.  Leake's numbers were bad in March.  He had a 7.29 era in 21 innings.  "It is hard to judge contact pitchers like Leaky in Arizona.  The infields are hard, every fly ball has a chance to go out," Baker said.

Leake admitted that he tried to hard and forgot how he was supposed to pitch.

"It had been six months since I pitched," said Leake, who last towed the rubber in late August.  "I forgot how to pitch.  The last time out I felt pretty good about how I was pitching.  I need to change speeds."

Jordan Smith with two scoreless innings and Matt Maloney, who pitched the ninth, finished off the Astros for a 8-2 victory

Scottsdale Arizona Spring Home of the San Francisco Giants

Scottsdale Stadium Right Field View
Scottsdale Stadium Scoreboard.
The San Francisco Giants spring home is in a high tone neighborhood, Scottsdale.  The park one of the largest in the Phoenix area seats 12,000.  The Giants have occupied this venue for 28 consecutive years.  Old town Scottsdale which has attractions that remind visitors of the cowboy heritage of the region, shares real estate with the Giants home in March.

Giants Batting Practice

Catch Up on Spring Sites Brewers Maryvale AZ

In a suburb that reminds me of Northside in Cincinnati, the Milwaukee Brewers have their training site.
Maryvale left field

Not luxurious by any means but functional.   The Brewers expect to challenge the Reds for the NL Central title but have lost its first four games.  Milwaukee PR guru, Mike Vassallo pointed out that all eight playoff participants in 2010 had losing streaks of at least four games last season.

Brewers Logo behind the plate
While it may be true, methinks, Vassallo is whistling through the graveyard.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Reds Complete Season Opening Sweep With a 12-3 Win Over Milwaukee

Starting the 2005 season with Joe Randa's walk off opening day home run against the New York Mets, Cincinnati won the first three games to start the season.

Bronson Arroyo shaking of mono, pitched seven strong innings.  Rickie Weeks again led off the game with home run.  But Jonny Gomes matched it against Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf.

Arroyo allowed three runs on six hits, including Ryan Braun's second home run of the season.  Back-to-back doubles by Wolf and Weeks scored the Brewers other run.

"I'm getting stronger," Arroyo said.  "I came into spring training about eight pounds less than I was at the end of last season.  I was just starting to put weight back on when I got sick.  I didn't have my best stuff.  What hits they did get, they hit hard.  There will be 10 times during the season where you feel like this."

"Bronson comes to pitch," Baker said.  "He likes to compete.  He's still coughing out in the tunnel and nobody is sitting next to him.  He knows how to pace himself and knows his body."

Cincinnati put together two four-run innings.  Brandon Phillips capped on with a three-run homer.  Ryan Hanigan, who has caught the last two games despite his counterpart's success on opening day, hit two home runs.  The second was a three-run shot in the other four-run frame in the sixth.

"We rode that high that Moanie (Ramon Hernandez) started," Hanigan said.  "We kept pressing.  That team (Milwaukee) can come back.  I've worked on hitting a lot.  I work with Jac (hitting coach Brook Jacoby).  I want to be a dangerous guy.  I want to get some big hits and drive the ball as well."

The Reds turn the lead over to Logan Ondrusek, who got credit for the opening day win.  Ondrusek struck out the first batter but the pitch got away from Hanigan.  Ondrusek struck out Braun and Prince Fielder and had a chance for a rare four-strikeout inning but Mark Kotsay flied out to left.

Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance with a perfect inning.  He struck out one and reached 103 on the radar gun.

"It was a great weekend Moanie got us started and we went from there," Baker said.  "We have a pretty good catching tandem.  They like each other.  There's no jealousy.  We can keep them both strong."

The clubhouse wasn't celebrating but taking the sweep in stride.

Arroyo was asked how big it was to sweep the team many picked to win the division.

"Not too much," Arroyo said.  "How many times have you seen a team sweep another then get swept at their place.  It is a long season."

Drew Stubbs Leading Off

A lot of the sabermetric crowd believe that Drew Stubbs strikes out too much and walks too much to leadoff.

Dusty Baker pointed out that one of the best leadoff hitters, Bobby Bonds, struck out a bunch..At the age of 23 and 24 Bonds struck out 187 and 189 times respectively  His strike outs became fewer as he aged.

Stubbs struck out 168 times his first full season in the major leagues.

"Our offense works better with Stubbs leading off," Baker said.

"Bonds or Ricky Henderson had the record for home runs leading off a game," Baker said.  Henderson holds the record with 81 but Bonds hit 11 of them in one season.

Stubbs has that kind of power.

"Bonds had trouble with the breaking ball," Baker said.  "He used a big 36-38 ounce bat.  It is hard to stop that big ole bat and you had to start it sooner.  That's why he hurt his hands."

"Stubbs has a better idea of how to hit the breaking ball," Baker said

Baker gives everyone the green light to run unless they prove they can't be trusted.

Stubbs was thrown out stealing third in the first inning last night.

"We had a conversation about it," Baker said.  "Stealing bases is a feel kind of thing.  But with the pitcher struggling like Marcum was last night.  You want to make him pitch out of trouble rather than us running him out of trouble."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Travis Wood Stifles Brewers in 4-2 Win

Travis Wood out pitched his workout partner.

Wood pitched well for seven innings, allowing a home run to Erik Almonte, who went eight years between home runs.  Wood allowed four hits and no walks   He struck out seven.

Wood works out with fellow Arkansas native Cliff Lee.  Lee an established ace pitched seven innings against the Houston Astros but allowed three runs.

"It is nice to work the strike zone and have your good cammand no matter when it is," Wood said.

No one hit the ball out of the infield for Milwaukee, as Scott Rolen hit a two-run home run in the first inning. Drew Stubbs drove in a run with a triple and scored when Rickie Weeks throw to first was in the dirt on a Joey Votto ground out.

"I realize that once the ball leaves my hand, I have no control. of it, whether its a strike or whether its hit.  Just give me the ball back."

The win gave the Reds two straight against the team that many people expect to challenge the Reds for the National League Central crown.

"We'll take every win we can get right now." Dusty Baker said.  "I's great to start off 2-0 against a team that everybody expects to be right there.  Every game Wood goes out there it seems like he has a chance to pitch a shutout.  He throws strikes. He's competitive and he throws quality strikes."

Takin It Easy After Exciting Opening Day.

Cornie in Winslow Arizaona
Well, I’m running down the road
Tryin’ to loosen my load
I’ve got seven women on
My mind,
Four that wanna own me,
Two that wanna stone me,
One says she’s a friend of mine
Take it easy, take it easy

Well, I’m a standing on a corner
In winslow, arizona
And such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed
Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me
Come on, baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is
Gonna save me

We may lose and we may win though
We will never be here again
So open up, I’m climbin’ in,
So take it easy

It was a long drive from Goodyear. It was 1,895 miles give or take a few.

I-44 from Flagstaff through Oklahoma City basically parallels old Route 66 (which is another set of lyrics) or as the call it Historic Route 66  The sign for route looks like a crown over my head.

I left the house we rented at 11:30 am eastern time on Wednesday.  I crossed the Brent Spence Bridge at 1:30 am eastern on Thursday.

I followed the game on my Blackberry unable to dial in WLW during the day.  I pulled over in Rolla, Mo about an hour west of St. Louis to eat recharge my phone and watch the last two innings.  The Applebees was in Cardinal territory and their game was on every TV. 

I watched the phone in while the Reds put on the improbable rally.  I would have loved to have been there.

Below is a video of the desert just east of Winslow.  Forgive the shot of the inside of my car and my jeens.  People think texting is hard while driving, shooting video is impossible.