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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Joey Votto Drives in 4 Runs Jay Bruce Homers for the 4th Straight Game

The Reds ended April with an 11-11 record after dropping eight of the first 12 games with a 6-5 win over the Houston Astros.

Joey Votto hit a two run home run, his second off rookie Jordan Lyles, who was making an emergency start for the Astros.  Jay Bruce homered for the fourth straight game to supply the winning margin.

Bruce hit reliever Fernando Rodriguez's first pitch of the eighth inning into the right field seats for his seventh home run of the season.

"This is what we play for.  This is a hard game.  There are a lot of times when its not much fun," Bruce said.

Votto is showing signs of heating up.  He went 19 games between home runs and ended the month with a .289 batting average that is on the rise.  His 15 RBI is second to Bruce's 17.

The Reds slow start may be a blessing in disguise.

"The way we started was really ugly," Votto said.  "It was a shock to everybody.  It was humbling, but I think it was a good thing. I'm a firm believer in that, while you don't want to start bad, it doesn't hurt.  It makes you concentrate on fundamentals.  I think a losing record early in the year can be a good thing.

Mat Latos allowed five runs on 10 hits, that tied a career high in 6 1/3 innings.

"They picked me up when I was a little under the weather," Latos said.  "I just tried to grind it out."

The bullpen turned in another scoreless effort.

Logan Ondrusek earned the win with a perfect eighth but Jose Arredondo kept Houston from scoring on a bases loaded situation in the seventh inning.

Ondrusek has turned in 11 scoreless innings on the season.

Sean Marshall used a diving catch by Brandon Phillips to navigate a scoreless ninth.  He was back in the saddle after suffering his first blown save on Thursday against San Francisco.

"It was great job by the bullpen," Dusty Baker said.  "I'm going to enjoy this one and the way we won it."

Two State Champion Coaches Gary Yeats and Mike Cameron

Gary Yeats and Mike Cameron have six Ohio State Baseball Championships between them.

Gary Yeats on the left - Mike Cameron on the right
Mike Cameron coached baseball at Moeller High School for forty years, winning four state championships, in 1972, 1989, 1993 and 2004.  He sent eight players to the Major Leagues.

Yeats won two state championships at Fairfield High School, 1985 and 1991.

Yeats is retired and lives in Sedona, Arizona but he works as Cincinnati Reds owner, Bob Castellini's assistant in Goodyear, Arizona during spring training.  Cameron serves as the officials scorer for Major League Baseball at Reds home games.

Yeats was in town and the two coaches visited before the Reds/Astros game.

Tim Naehring Run the Ball Out

Two scouts in the press box are talking about the draft.  Not the one coming up in June, the won held 24 years ago.

Tim Naehring was drafted by Boston in the 8th round by the Boston Red Sox out of Miami of Ohio and LaSalle High School.  Carl Lowenstein scouts for the Los Angeles Dodgers and has for 33 years.

This morning they were talking about the year that Naehring was drafted.  Lowenstein claims he had Naehring in his report as a third round pick.  Naehring claims not to believe it.

"If he had me any higher than the 22nd round, I might be driving around Beverly Hills in a limo," Naehring said.

"If you had run the ball out that day, I would have had you even higher," Lowenstein shot back referring to the day he wrote his report.  "I thought we had him. I knew he could hit. He just didn't run real well."

"That cage doesn't do anything for speed," Naehring said.

Naehring was the 199th player picked in the 1988 draft.  The Dodgers ended up with Eric Karros from that draft.  The Reds most notable player from that draft was infielder Jeff Branson.

Naehring played eight years in Boston with a .282 career batting average, 49 home runs and 250 RBI.  He stole five bases to back up Lowenstein's claim that he couldn't run real well.

Naehring's uncle Mark,also from LaSalle, was drafted in the third round.  The White Sox picked him in the 1977 draft.  Mark Naehring played six seasons in the minor leagues.  He hit .277 for his career but had bad knees.

The real injury that ended Uncle Mark's career was a broken eye socket that ruined his vision.

Mark was on first base in a minor league game with two outs.  There was a ground ball to shortstop Luis Aguayo.  Aguayo stepped on second and forgetting that there were two outs threw to first base anyway.  The ball hit Naehring in the eye socket.  The injury prevented Mark Naehring from advancing to the major league level.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto Turn Houston Into Dis Astros

Jay Bruce hit his third home run in as many games and drove in four runs in the Reds 6-0 win over the Houston Astros. He enhanced his team leading total with five home runs and 16 RBI.

 Johnny Cueto won his third decision of the season without a loss and dropped his ERA on the season to 1.39 with seven shutout, shutdown innings. The Reds ace has pitched seven innings in three of his five starts to date.

 The Reds supported him with their gloves as well as their bats. Zack Cozart had one hit but robbed J.D Martinez with a diving stop in the hole and a strong throw from the seat of his pants. He made a tough catch down the third base line on a pop foul by Brian Bixler. He reached into the stands to record the out after a long run. He and Brandon Phillips, who tripled in a run, turned in a double play after Travis Buck and Matt Downs single to open the fourth. Bruce also doubled up Jordan Schafer at first base after snagging a line drive hit by Jose Altuve.

 Logan Ondrusek pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He has not allowed a run this season. In 11 games he's pitched 10 scoreless innings, allowing six hits and striking out nine along the way.

 Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth. He was sent out there just out to get some work. He has not allowed a run in any of his nine appearances. The Astros loaded the bases on Chapman with a single and two walks but he struck out Chris Snyder after a potential wild pitch bounced off the wall to Ryan Hanigan preventing the runner from third from scoring.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Concern With Joey Votto's Slow Start Jay Bruce Dropped in Batting Order

Joey Votto is off to a slow start. He is hitting just .273 as the Reds begin its three-game series with the Houston Astros. Votto has 22 strikeouts in 19 games which is two more than Drew Stubbs, who led the major leagues and set a team record last season.

 However, Votto has been on base at a .430 clip. "That's Barry Bonds numbers there," Dusty Baker said. "Bonds wouldn't get a hit for a week and be on base 12 times." A slow start is really nothing new to Votto. In the first 19 games of his MVP 2010 season he hit .288 with 20 strikeouts but was only on base 40 percent of the time.

 "He knows what he can do. We know what he can do. You know what he can do. It's miserable when your struggling but everyone who has ever played this game has. Albert Pujols is going through it now," Baker said.
 Someone mentioned that Pujols got his first hit in a week last night but was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. "He was probably so happy, he just kept on running," Baker said.

 Jay Bruce will bat seventh against Wandy Rodriguez the lefthanded starting pitcher for Houston.

 "I wrestled with this because Jay has been swinging the bat well," Baker said. "He's struggled against him a lot."

 Bruce is 1-for-26 against Rodriguez with 13 strikeouts.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Don't Mess With The Umpire

Bruce Bochy told the members of the press a story told to him by the retiring Houston Astro clubhouse man.

Mike Hampton was coming up with the Houston Astros.  In his younger days he wore a lot of bling, gold chains around his neck.

Houston was in Chicago and Hampton was with the clubhouse man at a restaurant when umpire Joe West walked in.

West, who has an abrasive personality and a caustic sense of humor asked the clubby, "Who is the guy was with the Mister T starter set?"

Hampton shot back, "Mind your own business, fat ass."

The clubby told Hampton, "You might want to apologize.  He has the plate tomorrow."

It was the shortest outing in Hampton's career.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reds Battle Back to 500 Mark With Its 5th Win in 6 games.

Scott Rolen's first home run of the season got the Reds rolling in the seventh inning.  The Reds seized upon the momentum to defeat the San Francisco Giants 4-2.

Barry Zito and Bronson Arroyo had all the scouts looking to see if their radar guns were on.  Neither throws real hard but both have the command and finesse to keep hitters off balance.

"Bronson gave up a lot of hits but not a lot of runs,"  Dusty Baker said.  "We got him out of there with a two run deficit.  That was big for us because Zito had us eating out of his hand."

San Francisco had nine hits off Arroyo in five innings but managed only a pair of runs.  Angel Pagan homered in the third inning.  The Giant parlayed three singles into a run in the fourth but no more.  Arroyo left two Giant runners stranded in the fifth and turned it over to the bullpen.

J.J. Hoover pitched a scoreless inning in his major league debut.  Jose Arredondo, Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall closed out any Giant comeback.

"The bullpen did a great job," Baker said. "Hoover got his feet wet. We were going to use him in that situation with the bottom of the lineup coming up.  It worked out perfectly.  Then we could go to Arredondo, then we could go to Chapman or Ondrusek, depending on the score."

Rolen got to Zito finally in the seventh.  The Reds managed just four hits until then.  After the spark was lit the Reds continued the rally.

"That was a career saver," Rolen said.  "It's kind of been the joke around here that I get a hit every two weeks.  It was timely.  He was trying not to over blow it but it's ok to over blow it.  That was a necessary result right there."

"It isn't quite that drastic," Baker said.  "When you're not swinging well, life's miserable.  He's hit some balls hard but that was big.  That was huge."

Rolen began the game with a .175 average and popped to short and struck out in his first two at bats.

"Zito isn't one to challenge you and he had us swinging at balls out of the strike zone.  That's what happened to me in my first two at bats.  You have to make him throw strikes."

Clay Hensley gave up a hit to Ryan Ludwick.  Ryan Hanigan, who had one of the four hits prior to the seventh, laid down a good bunt.  Hensley threw the wet baseball away putting runners on second and third with no out.  Pinch hitter Willie Harris popped up.  Drew Stubbs walked to load the bases.  Wilson Valdez hit a fly to media right field.  Nate Schierholtz's throw bounced on catcher Hector Sanchez.  It got away from Sanchez on what would have been a close play.

The game was tied.

"Schierholtz can throw too. It was a good play by (thirdbase coach) Mark Berry to send him. It was a good at bat by Valdez and a good slide by Ludwick."

Jeremy Affeldt came out of the San Francisco bullpen to face Joey Votto.  He threw a wild pitch to put the Reds in front.  Votto finished off the Giants with a long double to score Stubbs.

Chapman allowed a single to Buster Posey to open the eighth, then struck out Sanchez and Schierholtz.  Chapman hit pinch hitter Brett Pill with a pitch to put the tying runs on base.  Joaquin Arias came up to pinch hit for the Giants.  He had been just called up to take the roster spot of Aubrey Huff, who was placed on the disabled list with anxiety attacks.

Arias hit a hard line drive directly at Chapman.  Chapman snagged it.

"That was self defense right there.  That could have been a career saver too," Baker said.  "It went in at 96 and came out around 106.  I didn't like the way that eighth inning was going but Chapman's a good athlete."

Sean Marshall had no trouble in the ninth, stepping into the closer's role after Ryan Madson was lost for the season.

"I'm enjoying the role.  I'm having fun," said Marshall, who four saves in four attempts.

Zack Cozart Gets the Night Off Scott Rolen Off Tomorrow

Zack Cozart is getting the night off.   Wilson Valdez will play shortstop.  Drew Stubbs will be the leadoff hitter.

Cozart is hitting .288 which is coming down after a very hot start but that is not the reason that he is sitting against San Francisco starter, Barry Zito.

"Zito throws soft stuff.  Younger players have more trouble with them.  Valdez has had some success against him.  Stubbs has had success against him," Dusty Baker said.

Valdez is 3-for-10 against Zito with a double and triple.  Stubbs is 4-for-8 with a double.

Scott Rolen will get Thursday afternoon off.   Todd Frazier will get his first start of the season for the Reds.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bill Bray Disabled...JJ Hoover Recalled From Louisville

The Reds placed LHP Bill Bray on the 15-day retroactive to April 19 with a strained left groin.  The Reds recalled J.J. Hoover from Louisville.

The injury has bothered Bray since the opening of spring training in February.  He was behind in his conditioning and has been hit hard.  In his last outing St. Louis he gave up three runs on four hits.

The Reds picked up Hoover in a trade for thirdbaseman Juan Francisco with the Atlanta Braves.  Hoover pitched in the Future's Game before going to the Bats.  Hoover made eight appearances for Louisville. He had no record but did not allow a run in nine innings. He earned four saves and opponents hit just .103 with 17 strikeouts and six walks.

He is a Pittsburgh native.  The Braves chose him in the 10th round of the 2008 draft.

"I'm excited," said Hoover, who will make his major league debut when he pitches for Cincinnati.  "It's a dream come true. I want to come out and make a good first impression."

Hoover will report to the Reds in time for a tribute the Kentucky Wildcats and Bark in the Bark Night.

The Florida Marlins are believed to have initiated Bark in the Park Night when Jeff Canine was on their roster.
Actually it was Jeff Conine, so never mind.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Devin Mesoraco Rewarding Dusty Baker's Faith

Devin Mesoraco is just beginning his first full season in the Major Leagues.  It is only April of that first year so there will be struggles ahead as the league gets to know him.

Mesoraco, the Reds first pick in the 2007 draft, is right now a .300 hitter.  He has put together two strong minor league seasons and earned a spot in the Reds catching tandem with Ryan Hanigan.

When Mesoraco was drafted, there were jaded members of the Reds minor league coaching staff that doubted his abilities.  This group had seen the Reds draft under Jim Bowden IIII and had gone through a long series of number one picks that didn't pan out.

Starting with Bowden's first draft in 1992, the series of Chad Mottola, Pat Watkins, CJ Nitkowski, Matt McClendon*, Johnny Oliver, Brandon Larson, Austin Kearns, Ty Howington, Dustin Mosely*, David Espinosa, Jeremy Sowers, Mark Schramek, Chris Gruler and Ryan Wagner, failed to live up to the number one draft choice billing.  (* were supplemental pick between the first and second round).

Austin Kearns is still playing and Dustin Moseley are still playing, Kearns is part of the Miami Marlins bench.  Moseley earned a spot in the San Diego Padres starting rotation but is currently on the DL.

The Reds farm system staff was conditioned not to expect too much.  When Mesoraco reported for his first spring training in 2008, he had a bad hand.  He had trouble catching the ball.  He looked bad behind the plate and was having trouble hitting when he reported to Dayton.  He hit .261 with Dayton and was a very raw catcher.  Then Dayton manager, Donnie Scott, a former catcher worked with him.

I happened to be at the Dragons game, the day that Mesoraco reported.  Although he said the right things, the way he responded to questions about Mesoraco, he did not have a lot of confidence in him.

Dusty Baker's first year with the Reds was that 2008 season.  Baker is often seen in the minor league camp checking the talent with his own eyes.  He reads the minor league reports thoroughly. Baker and the Reds staff choose minor leaguers to play in the back end of the spring games.  Baker quickly recognized Mesoraco's ability to hit.

Baker along with other members of the Reds development staff worked with Mesoraco and he has developed into a hitter that could star in the Major Leagues.  He has worked hard on his skills as a catcher and is quickly becoming a good receiver.

Mesoraco as noted publicly by many including, broadcaster Jeff Brantley, has shown hustle and is giving 100 percent on the field.  He beat out a slow roller on Friday.  He avoided a double play in the St. Louis series by getting down the line on a ground ball to extend an inning.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One Win or a Trend?

Ok glass half empty folks the Reds beat the reigning World Champions on Thursday with a six-run 12 hit attack that included three home runs.  Those three hit by Brandon Phillips hitting fourth, Ryan Ludwick playing left instead of Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs, who was struggling.

Now I guess Dusty Baker is a lot smarter than he was yesterday.  Whatever?

Like the 12 games before it, the win Thursday represented nothing more than one game on the 162 game schedule.  It doesn't mean the Reds are about to print playoff tickets, nor are they doomed to hold up the rest of the Central Division.

If you're looking for a trend, try this one.  The Reds have struggled to score runs in the 4-8 start. In Wednesday's 11-1 loss the Reds didn't score but had nine hits.  Unfortunately, for the team their scoring was thwarted by four double plays.

For the last two games the Reds have 21 hits or more than 10 per game.  They were hitting .205 before the game, it is a  pretty sure bet they are not going to hit .205 for the entire season.

The Reds are now 5-8 which is the same as they were in 2010 when they reached the playoffs and ended with its only winning season since 2000.  (Last year the Reds started 5-0 and ended the season with a losing record.)  They were hitting .226 as a team, with 14 home runs and 53 runs scored.  The 2012 Reds are hitting .219 with nine home runs and 39 runs.

Pitching is a main reason for optimism.

The 2010 team had a 5.26 ERA in 13 games.  This years team has a more respectable 3.85 ERA.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Perspective On A Bad Start

The Reds are 4-8 after an absolutely awful 11-1 loss to St. Louis.  There are signs that they are going to break out though.

They had nine hits off Jaime Garcia and the Cardinals bullpen, only one run but nine hits.  They bounced into four double plays.  With the ailing Brandon Phillips hitting into two of them.  Chris Heisey hit into one because he happened to hit it right at second base.  Meanwhile, Mat Latos makes a good pitch to Lance Berkman that was a little too good.  Instead of a double play ball, it was a slow roller that couldn't be turned into a double play.

Reds line drives into the corner stay fair and leave the shortest wall in the house.  Reds batters line drives curve foul.

Every St. Louis bloop falls in.  Every Reds line drive is directly at a fielder.

A look back at virtually every team in every year and you will find a stretch of 4-8.  It gets magnified when it happens to start a season.

Texas won the American League Pennant last season.

From April 25 through May 6, they were 3-9.

The Milwaukee Brewers lost their first four games. Then from April 23 through May 6 they were 3-10.  They won the National League Central.

The Arizona Diamondbacks were 4-8 from April 2 through April 16.  They won the NL West.

The Phildelphia Phillies won the NL East but were 1-9 from September 16 through the 24th.

The Detroit Tigers from May 16 through May 29 were 3-8 on the way to the American Central crown.

The New York Yankees were 3-10 from May 3 - 16.  Yep, they won the AL East.

The Reds are not hitting through 12 games but the law of averages will turn around in their favor.  The good thing is they have gotten good pitching with an exception here or there.  They have taken two winning teams to extra innings, four times on this current road trip, games in which, a bounce here, a bounce there or a call here or there could have turned a loss to a win.

Baseball is a marathon and nothing should be read into any 12 games.  It is no time to start trading, firing or sending people to the minor leagues.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Early Measurement of Cincinnati/San Diego Trade

Edinson Volquez and Yonder Alonso are starting for the San Diego Padres.  Mat Latos gets the ball next against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

Volquez has started three games for the Padres.  He is 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA.  The most telling stats for Volquez though is his high walk total.  He has issued 12 walks in 17 innings more than six per game.  He has 17 strikeouts (9 per game).

Alonso is hitting .233 with two doubles and two RBI.  He has walked three times and fanned seven times in 30 at bats.  That is a rate of 140 per season.

Mat Latos is 0-1 in two starts with a 5.59 ERA.  In 9 2/3 innings he has walked five and struck out five.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Extra Innings Again Better Results For Reds

It looked like it was going to be a blow out that the Reds sorely needed after extra inning losses in the first two games of the series. 

The game started out the way the Reds had hoped.  Ryan Ludwick hit a grand slam home run to give the Reds a quick 4-0 lead in the first inning.  The Reds took advantage of some breaks, close ball/strike calls that went Jay Bruce's way.  Bruce walked after Scott  Rolen reached on an error by Ian Desmond.

The runs were welcomed after Edwin Jackson turned in a complete game performance, limiting the Reds to two hits on Saturday, a 4-1 loss that felt like a blow out.

When it appeared that the Reds were starting to get a share of the breaks, the game turned against them.

Ryan Hanigan singled home Ludwick to put the Reds up 5-0 but the Nationals came back.

All the way back.

Mike Leake handled Washington in the first three innings but singles by the first two hitters in the fourth put the lead in jeopardy.  Leake was the victim of the same tight strike zone that Washington starter Ross Detwiler endured.  He walked Ryan Zimmerman.  Leake jammed Andy LaRoche, who flared it close to the line in right.  It fell for a hit, scoring two runs.  The Nationals got a ground out to make the score 5-3.

They got another run to get closer in the fifth.  They tied the contest in the seventh.  Leake was relieved by big Logan Ondrusek.  Ondrusek gave up a single to Desmond that tied the game.  Chris Heisey's throw to cut down Rick Ankiel at the plate beat the runner but short hopped Hanigan and the game was tied.

The bullpens took over.  Craig Stammen continued to dominate Reds hitters, as he's did in the first two extra-inning games.  Aroldis Chapman dominated again for two innings.  The bullpen sent the two teams to extra innings for the third time in the four-game series. The Nationals and Reds went 14 innings in their last meeting at Great American Ball Park last season.  Votto won that one with a walk off home run. Could it be foreshadowing.

Jose Arredondo pitched a good 10th.

The Nationals had shown that they did not want to pitch to Joey Votto if they could help it.  Rolen struck out twice with runners in scoring position.

The momentum swung back to the Reds when Drew Stubbs, who did not start, singled on a two-strike pitch from Tyler Clippard.  Wilson Valdez opened Dusty Baker up to second guessing again by botching a sacrifice.  Zack Cozart singled to right getting Votto into a position that Washington had to pitch to him.

The 2010 MVP doubled to left sending Stubbs and Cozart home.  Rolen redeemed himself.  He singled Votto home to give the Reds a rare 3-run lead.  They had scored just three runs in 32 innings in the first three games, all losses of the series.

Rolen was 1-for-3 with runners in scoring postition on the day.  The twitter impulse panickers should now be corrected.

Sean Marshall, the closer by default, allowed two singles in the bottom of the inning but shut the door for his first save as a Red.

The Reds have a day off in St. Louis before ace Johnny Cueto takes the mound against the reigning World Champions.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Davey Johnson Honest to His Own Detriment

David Johnson is a very smart man but he is not a politician.  He says whats on his mind and lets the chips fall where they may.  Usually, they fall on him, a victim of his own brutal honesty.

He managed the Reds very well.  The former teammate of current Reds manager, Dusty Baker, Johnson managed a Mets team that won over 100 games, twice.  His teams won over 90 games in five season.  His lowest full season total was 87.

Then apparently, he forgot how to manage.  When the Mets lost 22 of its first 42 games the Mets management fired him while the team was in Cincinnati.  He was at odds with the Mets front office over player personnel decisions.

He sat out until the Reds hired him as an advisor in 1993.  He took over when Jim Bowden IIII canned popular Tony Perez 44 games into the season.  The Reds had the best record in baseball in 1994 after a losing 1993 campaign.  They won the NL Central in 1995.  Marge Schott did not like that he lived with his current wife before they were married.  He managed the Orioles, who fired him after they won the NL East in 1997, go figure.  He wouldn't cow tow to Peter Angelos.  After a gig with the Dodgers in 2000, he hadn't managed until Jim Riggleman, a current Reds minor league manager, walked off the job last season.

Why a manager who had a .561 winning percentage did not get an offer for 10 years is mystery.

Johnson was quoted as saying the five-man Washington National starting rotation of Stephen Stasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler was the best starting rotation in the National League.  Not only the NL East which features the Phillies fab five but the league.

Many scoffed but Johnson is not prone to hyperbole and is honest to his own detriment.  The Nationals are only nine games into the 2012 season right now but the signs that Johnson speaks the truth are evident.

Bailey Does The Job Blame Baker, Jacoby? For Reds Loss

Homer Bailey put in his innings six with three or fewer runs, a quality start. After two extra inning games in a row the Reds needed Bailey to pitch at least six.  He got the job done.

Who do we point fingers at today?  I have a candidate in mind.  But let's examine the fall guys, du jour.

How about Dusty Baker, who played the guys that aren't hitting but since that is everyone, that is just not feasible although many will blame him just because.

Brook Jacoby?  A radio talk geek offered him up as a sacrifice for of all the goofy reasons, to throw the fans a bone.  Throw the fans a bone?  As if anyone has ever in the past or ever will in the future buy a ticket or refrain from buying a ticket because of who the batting coach is.  That may not be the dumbest thing I've ever heard, Lance McCallister but it is in the top 10.

But let's examine Brook Jacoby as the fall guy.  Let's take the baseball knowledge that we all know.

They say that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports because even the best fail seven out of 10 times.  Good pitching beats good hitting.

Ok so a team is not hitting because the batting coach is inept?  How about every coach and batting instructor that major leaguers have ever had.  They must not have taught these major league hitters anything that lasted in spite of the fact they have been successful in the past..

Do you start to see how ridiculous this blame game becomes?

Now who I want to blame is Edwin Jackson.  Yes, he's a .500 pitcher for his career, yet he has thrown a no-hitter in his career, he has pitched on a World Championship team last season as a late season acquisition.  He was among the players the Cardinals got in their 25 percent roster over haul that made Tony La Russa a genius last season.  He is now in his eighth organization.  At one time Boy Blunder, Jim Bowden IIII once coveted him because of his power arm  Jackson is only 28 and has been frustrating to seven organizations.

Jackson was on his game.  He retired 16 batters in a row.  When a pitcher is dealing the hitters will suffer it has been that way since Abner Doubleday invented the sport.

It is all your fault Edwin Jackson.

Second Guessing Dusty Baker

OK, Why did Dusty Baker remove Bronson Arroyo after 94 pitches?  Well knowing Dusty it is certainly NOT because fans thought he stayed with Arroyo too long in games last year.

The fact is that pinch-hitter, Chad Tracy, had a .364 batting average against Arroyo.  Tracy had never faced Bill Bray before, the advantage goes to the pitcher in that situation.  Davey Johnson countered with Xavier Nady burning a player which could have come in handy in a 13 innings game.

Nady hit a fly to deep left that Ryan Ludwick got the glove on but could not pull down.  The ball left the playing field for a game tying home run.

The Reds were in the position because the hitters managed just three hits in the first 10 innings.  Arroyo got the only Reds run home with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.  Arroyo had one of the three Reds hit and its first hit of the game.  The Reds are hitting just .204 as a team.  That is going to put the manager in a bind a lot.

The leftfield tandem of Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick are not tearing up the league right now.
Heisey is hitting .200 with with a double and two RBI.   Heisey has fanned five times in 15 at bats.
Ludwick is hitting .150 with two doubles and three RBI.  He has struck out four times in 20 at bats. Ludwick has walked four times so he has been on base more.

The Reds had its best chance to score in the 11th.  Ryan Ludwick led off with a double.  Zack Cozart hit for Willie Harris.  Cozart one of the best bunters on the team was asked to bunt Ludwick to third.. Cozart failed to get it done, popping the bunt to catcher, Wilson Ramos for the first out.  Pinch hitter, Heisey struck out as did Drew Stubbs.  Can you blame Dusty for that?

Sean Marshall, the closer by default, was on the mound in the bottom of the 13th.  Marshall got Ian Desmond to ground out.  He got another ground ball from Danny Espinosa.  Cozart got to the ball but couldn't throw out Espinosa.  Marshall then walked Ryan Zimmerman and Andy LaRoche, forcing Baker to decide whether to play the infield in, play in at the corners with the Cozart and Valdez playing at double play depth or play the infield at normal depth.  The outfield had to come in.

Each option comes with risks.

The infield at normal depth has more range but if the ball is hit to third or first, there is little chance of a double play.

If the infield is in, the batter's average goes up .100 points because the infield has no range.  The ball has to be hit directly at the fielder to cut off the winning run at the plate.

If the infield is in at the corners to cut the run off at the plate with the shortstop and secondbaseman at double play depth, you open holes between short and third and between first and second.

A lot depends on what the scouting report says and how the pitcher matches up with the hitter.

Jayson Werth hit a single up the middle just to the shortstop side of secondbase.  The Reds lose another extra inning game in Washington.

The bullpen is depleted so Saturday's starter, Homer Bailey needs to go deep into the game.  If he is not sharp he may have to stay out there longer than Baker would normally leave him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Joey Votto Pounds Out Four Hits Chris Heisey Comes Up Big in the Clutch

Joey Votto tied his career high with four hits.  It was the 10th time that he has had a four-hit game.

Wilson Valdez contributed three hits, including a pair of bunt singles while filling in for Brandon Phillips.

Valdez tied the game on a bunt single with two outs in the fifth inning.  St. Louis starter, Jaime Garcia couldn't get to the ball as Votto scored.

Johnny Cueto had a span of three batters in which he wasn't his dominating self.  Garcia fouled off some tough pitches before he singled sharply up the middle.  Rafael Furcal tripled down the right field line and Jon Jay hit his first home run to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.

The Reds had Garcia on the ropes but couldn't come up with the big blow until Valdez delivered the sucker punch with the bunt.

Votto doubled home Drew Stubbs in the bottom of the third and when time was called.  Zack Cozart was on third with no outs. Garcia struck out Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce, then got Miguel Cairo to ground out to wiggle out of that jam.

The Reds had 11 hits off Garcia, including three in the second inning but Cairo's double play ground ball helped Garcia escape that mess.

He couldn't escape the fifth.  Zack Cozart and Votto singled to start the fifth.  Ludwick walked to load the bases.  Jay Bruce delivered Cozart with a sacrifice fly. but  Cairo fouled out.  Valdez bunt tied the game.

The bullpens dueled to a draw until the ninth with Aroldis Chapman throwing two very strong innings.  He allowed a single but struck out five of the seven batters he faced to pick up the win.

Votto put the Cardinals in immediate danger with a double to the left field corner off Marc Rzepczynski.  Cardinals first year manager ordered Ludwick walked intentionally.  Rzepczynski struck out Bruce for the second out.  Chris Heisey batted for Chapman.

Matheny brought in Fernando Salas.

Heisey took a called strike then drilled a line drive between the left fielder and center fielder to give the Reds the victory.

St. Louis won just one game at Great American Ball Park in 2011 but had the last laugh by winning the World Championship as a Wild Card team.  St. Louis won the first two games of the series to exceed its win total in Cincinnati from last season.  This time, at least in this series the Reds had the last laugh.

Ozzie Guillen Do We Want Honesty or Not

There is one thing you can say about Ozzie Guillen that I wish I could say about everyone, including my self.
The man is totally honest. 

You may not agree with what he has to say but you can believe what he says.  To me that is more important.  

Yes the Cuban American's that populate the Miami area, have a grudge against the Castro regime.  I understand that completely.  Many of them suffered at the hands of that regime and I understand that there was a lot of loss and pain.  Yet they came to the United States to live free.  To be able to speak their mind without sanctions much less punishment from the government.

So how in good conscience can they deny Ozzie Guillen that same right.

“What this disrespectful comment did was rub salt on a very live wound,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, a Cuban-American attorney and human rights advocate in Washington. “It’s not even a historic wound. It’s a live wound of a community composed of victims of the dictatorship.”

What kind of shyster lawyer claims to be a human rights advocate then stoops to this level of intolerance for free speech?  To me Claver-Carone presents the biggest threat to the Cuban community.  Yes there are wounds but folks its time to get them heal and move on.  Lingering hate is counter productive.  Period.

Having talked to Guillen several times over the years, there are a couple things to consider.  First all though his English is very good, there are times that he mixed metaphors.  The English language is complicated and doesn't always translate.  Secondly, Guillen is opinionated but not malicious and thank God is not politically correct.

He is inquisitive and when he does not know something will not hesitate to ask.

Do I question the sentiments expressed? Yes but I for one will fight for Guillen's right to speak his mind.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Former Red Kyle Lohse Beats Reds and Mike Leake

Kyle Lohse was excited about getting the call as the Cardinals opening day starter when Chris Carpenter was placed on the disabled list.  He defeated the Miami Marlins in 80 degree heat and cooled off the Reds for the second night in a row when it was 30 degrees colder.

Lohse found himself with the Cardinals after a mediocre start of his career with Minnesota and Cincinnati.

"He's commanding the bottom of the strike zone now," his new manager Mike Matheny explained.

"I'm just trying to get quick outs," Lohse said.

He started struggled some with the slick baseball's, not the same complaint that former manager, Tony La Russa whined about.  "It was a little colder.  I had to make an adjustment once I saw what the ball was going to do.  My sinker wasn't sinking it was cutting on me (moving side-to-side).  I started to realize that it was going to do that and just tried to keep the ball down."

Carlos Beltran homered off Reds starter Mike Leake to put the Cardinals up 1-0 but Leake pitched out of a bases loaded jam when Scott Rolen turned in a slick double play, charging a slow roller near thirdbase from Yadier Molina and gunning him down with a strike to Joey Votto.

"Leake shut us down," Lohse said.  "I had to keep pitching because it could have turned around on us real quick."

Leake held the Cardinals until lifetime Reds basher, Lance Berkman, legged out a triple.  David Freese just trying to get the run home with a fly ball, managed to hit that fly over the right field fence.  It is Freese third of the season and he now has 10 RBI in the first six games.

"I let the first pitch go and I was kicking myself," Freese said.

The veteran Berkman had to leave the game with a strained left calf.  He played defense for two innings and it tightened up on him.  When he singled, he realized that he would have trouble running.

The Reds pulled within two runs on a triple from Zack Cozart and sacrifice fly by Joey Votto.

"It was still a game," Berkman said.  "I knew I might have trouble scoring on a double or going first to third.  That was a big run."

It was Berkman's own fault.  If he would have just hit the ball out of the park like he usually does at Great American Ball Park (23 home runs in 57 games), he wouldn't have hurt himself.

The Cardinals have gotten off to a fast start, getting good hitting and pitching out of the gate at the same time under new manager, Mike Matheny.   Without Albert Pujols to terrorize Cincinnati, David Freese seems to be the next nightmare for Reds pitchers.

Berkman thinks so.

"You've seen the natural maturity of a hitter," Berkman said.  "He will hit .300  with 30 home runs and drive in over a 100 runs.  You're looking at the next $200 million player."

As a side note to the contrast from La Russ to Matheny.

Matheny let Mitchel Boggs throw two innings, including lefthanded hitters, Willie Harris and Votto.  That would have never happened with La Russa, who would have used three pitchers to get three outs in that inning.

"He (Boggs) was throwing the ball good.  He's the type of pitcher, like (Lance) Lynn that can throw more pitches. (Lynn is now a starter while Carpenter heals). When a guy is throwing the ball as well as he was and he got two quick outs, I decided to let him face Votto."

New Contract Notwithstanding Brandon Phillips Will Be Out 3 or 4 Days

Brandon Phillips was happy to the point of tears this afternoon, having signed a contract giving him security for the next six years but he will have to wait to live up to it.

Phillips left hamstring cramped on him as he scored from first base on a throwing error Monday night.

He begged Dusty Baker to put him back in the lineup tonight.  Baker won't do it.

"You like the attitude," Baker said  "You mind says one thing, your body says something else.  That is one thing that you're fearful of with the change of weather.  It will take a few days to heal.  He (Phillips) may not like it but I know some things about injuries."  Baker was through his share during his playing career.  He also had a trip canceled this winter when his knee locked up on him, requiring surgery.

"It is something that you don't want bothering him all year.  This is no time for heroes.  If it was August it might be different but its April.  He will be running a lot being at the top of the lineup with Joey (Votto) and Scotty (Scott Rolen) hitting behind him.  The only thing I might be able to do is drop him down in the order but as acrobatic as he likes to be, three or four days will be better for him."

Willie Harris started at second base and is the leadoff hitter against Kyle Lohse and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dat Red Dude BP Brandon Phillips A Red Through 2017

Like his hero Barry Larkin, Brandon Phillips aka (#datdudeBP) intends to be a Cincinnati Red for the rest of his career.

Phillips signed a six-year contract in the neighborhood of $72 million that will keep him in a Reds' uniform past his 36th birthday.

He could have tried the free agent market but Cincinnati is where he wanted to be.

"This is the place I wanted to be," Phillips said.  "I didn't want to be a free agent no matter how much the other guys were getting. This is the best day of my life, man."

Phillips went on record the last day of the 2011 season, saying that he wanted fo be a Red but also wanted to be paid what he was worth.  Negotiations were complicated and once the length of the contract was determined the contract began to fall into place.

"It was a complicated negotiation," general manager Walt Jocketty said.  "Seth and Sam Levine (Phillips agents) did a good job with it.  We knew where the market was. It was the length of the contract was what made it complicated.  Once we determined the length it fell into place rather quickly."

Phillips consulted his mother who is in town making him sweet tea.  "My mom told me to follow your heart.  Once I signed it I started to cry."  They were tears of joy for a player who has shown genuine affection for the fans through his twitter account.  He run contests with prizes such as road trip which he pays for.

"I am a man first and a ballplayer second," Phillips said.  "When people follow me on twitter, they see who I really am.  I try to give back to the fans."

The Reds have now locked down its Gold Glove right side of the infield.  Joey Votto signed a long term deal last week. "We have the cornerstone of our franchise in place," owner Bob Castellini said.

The Reds then general manager, Wayne Krivsky, traded for Phillips, who had the star label since the Montreal Expos drafted him in the second round in 1999.  Phillips was traded along with Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore to the Indians for Bartolo Colon.  Phillips, who made his major league debut with Indians as a 21-year old on September 13.

His Indians days were not very happy for Phillips.  He and manager Eric Wedge did not get along.  The team designated Phillips for assignment on April 1, 2006, the last day of spring training.  Krivsky traded Jeff Stevens to Cleveland for Phillips six days later.

"I thank the Reds organization for giving me a second chance," Phillips said.

He has had no such issues with Dusty Baker

"I have been around baseball a long time," Baker said.  "No one works harder or uses as much energy as Brandon does.  He comes to play everyday."

Baker hopes the new contracts don't cause Votto and Phillips to try too hard.

"I intend to have a conversation with them.  I know they are going to try to live up to those big contracts," Baker said.  "I'll tell them you can't eat money like Popeye easts spinach to make you stronger."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Brandon Phillip's Mom May Keep Him Out of the Game

Brandon Phillips cramped scoring from first base on Jake Westbrook's throwing error.

Wilson Valdez finished the game for him.

"I don't think its serious," Dusty Baker said.  "He probably won't play tomorrow though."

The Reds took him out as a precaution and Phillips will trust Baker's judgement.

"It's a marathon," Phillips said.  "I was going to go back out but P.L. (trainer Paul Lessard) wouldn't let me.  The inning was about to start and I was cramping up.  I don't make the lineup and if I can't come in tomorrow and show them I can play.  I probably won't."

Phillips mother is in town and has been making some of her Georgia Sweet Tea.

"I have to drink more water.  My mom's been making me this sweet tea and it's so good.  I have to make sure I drink more water."

Homer Bailey's Rough Start Sinks Reds Against the Cardinals

To say that Homer Bailey got off to a bad start is to say that Niagra Falls transports a little moisture.

He retired the first two Cardinal batters easily, then his boat fell off the edge of the falls.  Matt Holiday homered. Bailey then walked perennial Reds killer, Lance Berkman.  David Freese continued his hot start with his second home run of the year.  Yadier Molina followed with his second long ball immediately after.

"I got a little passive after the first two batters," Bailey said.  "I started to be aggressive again after that.  The pitch to Freese should have been a little more in.  It got too much of the plate.  He's a big strong guy, who can wait on a pitch."

The first inning was the game, when all the Reds could manage was three singles.

Jake Westbrook was also having a little trouble but he wasn't wild down the middle.  Westbrook walked four Reds in the first two innings but avoided the big hit.  The Reds didn't manage a hit until Brandon Phillips drilled a single with two outs in the fifth.  Westbrook fielded Zack Cozart's slow roller and missed first base, like he missed the plate.  The ball rolled down the right field line allowing Phillips to score but the Reds secondbaseman had to leave the game with a cramp in his left hamstring.

"Westbrook wasn't real sharp either.  We had our opportunities but we didn't get a big hit," Dusty Baker said.  "He was missing low, so he was effectively wild. He started to get some ground balls in the middle innings once he settled down."

Bailey to his credit settled in and pitched into the sixth inning, keeping the Reds in the contest.

"Homer threw the ball good but his locations wasn't where he needed it to be.  This is still a pretty good lineup   (without Albert Pujols).  You can't put the ball in the middle of the plate."

Bill Bray held the fort with a 1 1/3 inning scoreless stint.

Jose Arredondo couldn't throw enough strikes either.  He walked Berkman.  Freese reached on an infield hit. Scott Rolen gloved it but couldn't make a throw.   Arredondo fell behind Molina.  On a 3-2 pitch, the runners moving, Molina doubled home the two Cardinals and scored himself on Matt Carpenter's pinch-hit sacrifice fly.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reds Rally For Exciting Win Behind Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen Heroics

Scott Rolen walked into the Reds clubhouse and looked at the lineup.  Upon seeing his name was not on it he joked with the two reporters standing there, "Alright we're finally trying."

Rolen was in the game for all of four pitches but he pushed his team in the win column in that brief span.

The Reds and Marlins battled back and fourth all day.  The Reds jumped on new Marlin starter, Carlos Zambrano for three runs in the first inning and four three innings it looked like Bronson Arroyo would make those three runs an insurmountable lead.

The Marlins and Zambrano, however regrouped.  Zambrano retired 15 of the next 16 hitters after Brandon Phillips second inning single and second of the game, marked his 1000th hit as a Red.

Arroyo was still being stingy.  He allowed a run on three straight singles by Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison and Omar Infante.  Two innings later Miami got within a run on a single by Hanley Ramirez and his legs.  Ramirez stole second and continued to third when Ryan Hanigan's throw sailed into centerfield.  Morrison's fly to deep center made the score 3-2.

Jay Bruce hit his second home run of the season off Zambrano to edge the cushion back to a two-run lead.

Arroyo appeared to run out of gas though.

He hit Gregg Dobbs on the left knee with a pitch.  The hobbled Dobbs should have been on third base with no outs on Brett Hayes single but the pain in his knee wouldn't allow him to get there.  Ozzie Guillen removed Dobbs from the game, ignoring his protest.  Pinch hitter Chris Coghlan doubled to tie the score and scored the go ahead marker on a single by Emilio Bonafacio.

Steve Chishek and Edward Mujica guarded the lead into the ninth.

The Marlins new closer, Heath Bell, came on to nail down the victory for his new mates but Bruce had other ideas.  Bruce hit a 2-1 pitch just to the left of the Reds bullpen and out for his second home run of the game and his third RBI.  One out later Drew Stubbs reached on a high chop single over thirdbaseman Ramirez's head.  Ryan Hanigan poked a single to right, sending the speedy Stubbs to third.

Rolen entered the game for Aroldis Chapman, who pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.

He worked Bell into a 2-1 count then hit a hard ground ball to Ramirez backhand side.  Ramirez, who is learning a new position got a glove on it but couldn't control it.  It trickled away as Stubbs scored the winning run.

The Reds won two of the three games from Miami and take on Division rival The St. Louis Cardinals starting Monday night.

Brandon Phillips Gets 1000th Hit As a Red

Brandon Phillips singled in his first two at bats off Carlos Zambrano to reach the 1000-hit milestone as a Red's player.

Since coming to the Reds early in 2006, Phillips has 1,000 hits in 3,575 at bats for a .280 batting average.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Miami Marlins Hand the Reds Its First 2012 Loss

Ozzie Guillen told some of his hitters to relax and not try to do too much.

"I did it when I played.  I'd go 0-for-4 on the first day and again on the second day then I'd panic," Guillen said before the game with the Reds.

His new charges responded.

Miami scored just one run in the first 18 innings of the season but erupted for eight against Mat Latos and the Reds.

Giancarlo Stanton, who was known as Mike Stanton, his first two years in the league, drove in three runs with a double and a two-run single off Latos.  Stanton had three hits total.  Omar Infante had three hits including his first home run, a double and a triple.  Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run home run off Sam LeCure and John Buck did the same off Alfredo Simon.

The Reds managed six hits off Miami starter Ricky Nolasco, who turned in another well pitched game for the Marlins.  "The good thing is we've been pitching well," Guillen said before the game.

Devin Mesoraco singled in his first 2012 at bat, shaking some rookie jitters.  Zack Cozart had a triple, single and a home run.  Joey Votto hit his first of the season, following Cozart's triple.

Latos wanted to make a good impression on the fans of Cincinnati but it backfired on him.

"I'm sick to my stomach right now," Latos said.  "I wanted to make a good impression with a new team.  When guys got on base I tried to be too perfect instead of executing my pitches."

Dusty Baker acknowledged that Latos may have been a little too amped for his first Cincinnati start.

"That is a good fastball hitting team and that's what they hit was fastballs," Baker said.  "Latos had  a real good breaking ball coming out of spring training.  He may have tried to overthrow it tonight.  He is going to be good, very good."

Baker was also pleased that Cozart and Mesoraco got their hits.

"You want the young guys to get off to a good start so they can relax," Baker said.  "Cozart was ready coming out of spring training. He is very calm.  He was one hit away from the cycle.  Mesoraco is going to be a good one too."

Reds Day Two Filled With Hype Castellini Shows His Willingness to Invest Long Term

The Reds hired cover band The Rusty Griswolds.  They had the team walk a red carpet to greet fans.  They treated the frist night game like opening day, celebrating the first night game of the season.  It also helped that MLB finally came up with the brilliant idea of starting the season on a weekend.

Remember that the opening day was originally scheduled for Good Friday but Red fans complained and it was moved up a day to "Fairly Decent" Thursday.  With the customary day off the Saturday night tilt with the newly named Miami Marlins played to a sold out Great American Ball Park crowd.

Bob Castellini does not poor mouth like the previous owners used to do.  "This is a small market wo is me."
Instead they have been putting their money where the poor mouths used to be.  First they brought in veteran Scott Rolen, they signed Aroldis Chapman for $30 million even though he may be a setup guy the rest of his career.   They signed a closer, Ryan Madson, who unfortunately may never close a game in a Reds uniform.  They traded for and signed to an extended contract, Sean Marshall, who may be the best lefthanded bullpen guy in the game.  Just this week they did what all the experts said they would not, could not do.  They locked up Joey Votto for 14 years for well over $223 million.  They are near an extension for Brandon Phillips, who has matured into one of the best secondbasemen in the game.

There are far two many businesses in this country that act like welfare mothers, expecting the government to subsidize their growth and legislate favorable labor laws so they don' have to work as hard to select and pay the best employees.

Whether the Reds win their division or not, the early return on investment is two full houses that they have drawn to date.  Every one loves a winner but a lot of people really respond to the effort.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Did Karma Catch Up to Albert Pujols?

The Albert Pujols is struggling. Arguably the best hitter in baseball is hitting just .217 through 23 games with his new team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Their are a large group of  fans in St. Louis that are upset that the 32-year old abandoned the Cardinals for the $240 million dollars that the Angels dangled in front of him.  The disgust is misplaced of course, the Cardinals opted to drop out when the dollars and duration of the contract became too much for them to bear.

There is a theory that the pressure of the contract has caused Pujols to press.

When his counterpart with the Cincinnati Reds, Joey Votto, signed a lucrative contract with the team earlier this month, manager Dusty Baker intended to have a conversation with his young star.

"Money isn't like spinach where you can eat it and makes you stronger," Baker said.

Pujols has not hit a home run yet, it is the longest stretch of at bats in his career without a home run.  He has never been homerless in the month of April.

Baker knows that Pujols will come out of it.

"Everybody, who has ever played this game has gone through rough periods." Baker said.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Drew Hayes Save Last Reds Game of the Spring 2-1 Win Over Indians

Drew Hayes who is going to Bakersfield, saved the Reds win over Cleveland the Reds were 5-0-1 against Cleveland this spring.

Jerry Lynch Former Reds Pinch Hitter Died

An unsung hero of the 1961 Reds died Saturday.

Lynch was an outfielder for the Reds with Wally Post, Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson and Gus Bell.

Lynch the Reds pennant winning season, he drove in 25 runs as a pinch hitter. Lynch was a lefthanded batter and broke in with the Pirates in 1954.

He played for the Reds from 1957 until May 1963 when the Reds traded him back to Pittsburgh for Bob Skinner.

His best year overall was with the 1961 team. He hit .315 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI.

He is a member of the Reds Hall of Fame. His record of 21 career pinch hit home runs lasted for 21 years. He was 81.

Sean Marshall is the Closer For Now

The Reds have decided that Sean Marshall will be the closer for now.

"Marshall is our closer for right now," Dusty Baker said. "He's closed a few games but not a lot. He can throw that breaking ball for strikes anytime he's ready. Things don't faze him. He's been around awhile."

Marshall signed with Cincinnati and signed an extension early in camp. He expressed an interest in closing then.

"It is the premiere job in the bullpen. I am confident that I can get people out if I'm given the ball in the ninth or 10th inning."

Joey Votto Contract Extension

It was reported that Joey Votto was near signing a contract extension worth $200 million.

I caught Votto coming off the field during the Reds 2-1 win over Cleveland.

Are you close to signing an extension?

"You'll have to ask Walt Jocketty about that," Votto said.

Are you negotiating an extension?

"Ask Walt about that."

I checked the owners box twice and could not find Jocketty.

When Bronson Attoyo left, I asked if he was going to borrow a couple bucks from Votto. His reaction.

"Did he sign that extension? I told him this morning that he wasn't going to sign the extension because Bob Castellini doesn't sell enough salad. He (Votto) laughed."

Red Roster Set Thru Sat...Janish Optioned Chapman to Bullpen

The numbers crunch got Paul Janish on Tuesday morning. The Reds optioned Janish to Triple A Louisville and decided to carry 11 pitchers until Saturday or Sunday.

Injuries in the bullpen forced the Reds to put Aroldis Chapman back in the bullpen, leaving a starting rotation of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake.

Todd Frazier, Willie Harris and Wilson Valdez will hold down the remaining bench positions for now.

"I dread this day every year," Dusty Baker said. "There were some very tough decisions, big time tough decisions. We will have to make another tough decision Saturday or Sunday."

Janish had a really good camp but the fact that he has an option left worked against him.

"There's always going to be somebody that had a good camp. There's always going to be tough decisions. That is why I despise this week as much as any during the year. There is a good chance that he'll be back. There's a great chance. You never know what can happen. Things change from year to year. This time last year he was our shortstop. The main thing that's within my power is to give someone an opportunity for a player. Sometimes the decision is mine, sometimes its ours, sometimes the decision is what's best for the organization."

"We gave Paul an opportunity last year until Cozart came along. That's the nature of this game. It's yours until you nail it down or someone else comes along when things don't go the way you planned. Now its Cozart's time. If he doesn't nail it down there'll be someone after that."

"Paul is still part of this team, and part of our family. He's still one of us even though he's not with us," Baker said.

What made it extra tough is that the Reds got Wilson Valdez, who can play short and other positions (like centerfield).

The decision to put Chapman back in the bullpen was made for the organization by injuries.

"That was a very, very tough decisions because Chapman could be one of our best starters or best relievers both. It is a situation where, with the injuries that we have, starting out early in the season when the starters are lucky to go five or six innings, we had to shore up our bullpen," Baker said.

"This early in the year the bullpen does a third to half the work. It only takes one dude to have one bad inning."

"Chapman is going to be a starter. He is going to be a very good starter. He's a smart kid. He actually anticipated it. When we lost Madson and Masset and Billy Bray is not sharp yet, through the process of elimination, he figured that stuff out."

Chapman started four games that counted and one minor league game. He pitched 17 innings and had a 2.12 ERA, leading the staff in strikeouts with 18. The concern had been his command but he walked just two batters in 17 innings.

"I concentrated on staying ahead in the count and not walking batters," Chapman said.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Latos Calf Healthy Wind Does Him In 13-10 Loss to the White Sox

It was a windy day in Arizona that turned Goodyear Ballpark into Wrigley Field. The Chicago White Sox were prevailing over the wind and the Reds in a 13-10 wind.

"I knew it was going to be a high scoring game," Dusty Baker said. "It was a Wrigley Field day with the wind blowing out. The ball Pierzynski hit off the top of the fence was a pop up. They blooped the young kids to death."

The fly ball that A.J. Pierzynksi hit kept carrying. It appeared to bounce off the railing which would have made it a home run but the umpire ruled that it hit off the top of the fence for a double. It was academic because Dayan Viciendo hit another modest fly ball to left that carried way over the left field wall.

Mat Latos was the victim of these "blasts". Latos left his last start early with a strained calf but it didn't affect his pitching.

"His velocity wasn't as good but his breaking ball was better," Baker said.

Joey Votto was the designated hitter and is heating up just in time for the season. He had three singles. Jay Bruce banged an RBI double. Donald Lutz, who played firstbase and will be playing in the Future's Game, Tueday night, had a double and Devin Mesoraco tripled into the right field corner.

The left field tandem of Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey both homered in the ninth inning off Zach Stewart.

Edinson Volquez Will Be the Opening Day Starter for San Diego

The Reds opening day starter from last season will have that honor again as a member of the San Dielgo Padres pitching staff.

Jeff Francis Sent to Louisville To Start In Bats Rotation Final Roster Moves Monday

Lefthanded free agent pitcher, Jeff Francis, was sent to Triple A Louisville this morning.

"Francis is going to Triple A to start," Walt Jocketty said. "There still is a possibility he can pitch in the bullpen. We decided to send him there because we need to have a starter available if something happens (to other starters). He pitched well enough to be that guy. He pitched well except for that one outing (11 hits, 11 runs Monday vs Texas). He did very well to come back and pitch well enough yesterday."

The Reds still have not decided whether they would take 11 or 12 pitchers to Cincinnait.

"We have it pretty well figured out but we will probably have it ready for you by tomorrow morning," Jocketty said.

Of the Francisco trade Jocketty said that the good spring by Todd Frazier was a factor in the trade.

"Juan had a pretty good spring. We just didn't see him fitting on the club out of spring training, he was out of options. We decided to add pitching depth to the organization," Jocketty said.

"(J.J.) Hoover was a starter (in the Braves organization) until mid season. They put him in the bullpen and took off. We've had very good reports. We saw him again yesterday. He threw 92-94 yesterday. He's a sinker, slider guy, a late inning guy. He's young (24). He's got three options. He has a good arm, a power arm. It's a good combination."

Baker Indicates Ludwick Will Start Opening Day

With Mark Buehrle pitching Ryan Ludwick would be a better matchup than Chris Heisey. That does not mean that Ludwick has won the job in leftfield.

Dusty Baker will go with whichever player matches up with the pitcher that day.

"Heisey is not a good match up for Buehrle," Baker said. "He throws all the junk out there. That's not Heisey's strength. "With Heisey and Ludwick, one of them will have a good day because of who they matched up with but the next day they might not match up. They might say, 'I've had two hits today or hit a home run today' how come I'm not playing today or the fans say it".

Buehrle is scheduled to pitch for Miami in Cincinnati against Johnny Cueto on Thursday.

Reds Trade Juan Francisco to the Braves

The Reds had to decide between power hitting Juan Francisco and Todd Frazier to back up Scott Rolen.

Francisco was out of minor league options.

The 24-year old Francisco has tremendous potential but lacks the work ethic that he needs to excel. He reported 12 pounds over weight and fell out of favor with management. He was out of options so the Reds traded him to Atlanta for 24-year old RHP JJ Hoover.

Hoover was the Braves 10 round selection in the 2008 draft. He started 13 games for Double A Mississippi and Triple A Gwinnett last season. He was 2-5 with a 3.48 ERA at Mississippi in 31 games (12 starts). The Elizabeth, Pennsylvania native, was promoted to Triple A Gwinnett by Atlanta, where he appeared in 12 games, starting two with a 1-1 record and a 3.38 ERA.

Hoover will start the season at Louisville.

The Reds will start the season with two bullpen members on the disabled list. Ryan Madson, who would have been the closer, is out for the season. Nick Masset will miss at least the first weak with inflammation in his right shoulder.

"We are getting closer to the start. It was a good opportunity for us to add to our pool of bullpen guys that we need," Dusty Baker said.

Baker was one of Francisco's strongest supporters before this camp began.

"I wish him the best. I was for the kid (Francisco) from the very beginning. Some of the things weren't working out the way we wanted him to. Hopefully, he'll find happiness and get it together in Atlanta. If things go right and things go in the right direction he could be a force. Talent has never been the issue."

The Reds needed his power off the bench but Francisco's long ball capability was not worth his liabilities.

"If he wasn't out of options it would have been a much easier decision (to keep Francisco)," Baker said. "There were big factors like right/left. Playing multiple positions. You need some speed. You need some mindset. You need some attitude. A lot of the things you need don't necessarily show up in the stat sheet."