All posts by Dave

Hope contract extensions, Renteria and Fred Lewis provided sufficient offseason excitement for you

First and foremost, congrats to Joey Votto. He deserves what he’s getting. I personally don’t have any interest in speculating as to whether he’s going to leave after three years. Just looking forward to watching him hopefully beat out Pujols for the MVP – or, better yet, beat out Jay Bruce for the MVP – for years to come.

What I wish I could speculate about is what the Reds could possibly get in return for Yonder Alonso. Let’s face it, the guy has serious talent, but it’s reportedly not as an outfielder. His days with the Reds are numbered. Or at least they should be if the Reds are serious about winning relatively soon.

So what could a player like Alonso bring, starting with who can make this team significantly better who isn’t too expensive.

I tried to find three experienced MLB players who earned less than $2 million last season, could be involved in a trade for Alonso and could fill a need for the Reds. Who aren’t arbitration eligible. Couldn’t find any. (I excluded starting pitching because I don’t see that as a need right now with their depth, despite the fact that you can never have enough, right?) Define “a need,” first of all. I think the Reds, frankly, would tell you that their only pressing needs at this point are dealing with the three unsigned arbitration-eligible players (Cueto, Volquez and Bray). The only question marks they had (SS and LF) are in better shape – possibly – with the additions of Renteria and Lewis and maybe Hermida. The Reds just aren’t going to trade for Justin Upton or Nelson Cruz or even Angel Pagan. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. They’ll keep Alonso as an insurance policy and pinch-hitter for at least another year, then maybe deal him for someone coming off a big year. Or maybe at the All-Star break, best case scenario.

And actually – if they’re going to keep Alonso – I would rather see the Reds have him playing every day in Louisville and putting up big numbers so that hopefully other teams express interest.

I would be stunned if the major excitement of the offseason isn’t already behind us: extensions for Bruce and Votto and bringing in a couple of guys who are going to hit .260 with 10 home runs between them.

Willie, we barely knew ya

In case you missed it, the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed Willie Bloomquist. Why aren’t we using the breaking news template with this? You’re right, we should.

Willie had 5 hits in his 17 at-bats as a Red. He was acquired from the Royals on Sept. 13 of last season. At the time, Dusty Baker said of Bloomquist, “We need him right now. We’ve been searching for somebody like him for a couple of weeks.”

I remember there was excitement about his speed, but he did not get to steal a base as a Red – nor did he attempt to. A lot of Reds fans were awfully quick to forget about Willie – especially now that we have Fred Lewis – but I’m not. Best of luck in Arizona, Willie, except when you’re facing your former team.

‘Mayor’ signing

Sean Casey autograph
High school friend Kevin Main is doing a private signing with Sean Casey that he told us about … it’s for a great cause (and tax deductible) so give some serious thought to sending something. Here’s the info from Kevin …

I am conducting a private signing with former Reds/Pirates/Tigers/Red Sox player Sean Casey to benefit his foundation, Casey’s Clubhouse, which seeks to build a Miracle League field in southern Pittsburgh for children with disabilities.

More info about Casey’s Clubhouse can be found here: www.caseysclubhouse.org. They also have a page on Facebook and was recently profiled on MLB.com

The pricing structure is as follows:
$5 for cards
$10 flats/baseballs
$20 everything else
Inscriptions are free

PLEASE INCLUDE A SASE WITH YOUR ITEM(S). PLEASE TAG YOUR ITEM(S) WITH A POST-IT NOTE THAT INCLUDES THE NAME LISTED ON THE SASE AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. If you want any inscriptions (The Mayor, 3x All Star, etc.), please include that information on the tag as well. As of right now, I do not have any unsigned items available, but could possibly make an Adorama order if interest is there (I do have lots of images).

The signing is now January 26. I need all items by Monday, January 24.

Please make all checks payable to Casey’s Clubhouse (yes, this is tax deductible). I am not taking any money for this signing—all proceeds are going to Casey’s Clubhouse.

Send items to:
Kevin Main
Re: Casey’s Clubhouse
109 Lansing Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15229

If you have any questions, please email me at mrmain18@yahoo.com.

Casey has been a very accommodating signer for us his entire career. This signing is a great way to say thank you to Sean and to help some kids at the same time.

One take about the shortstop NON-controversy

Plenty of Edgar Renteria discussion on Twitter today, and the story has gone from Renteria reportedly telling ESPNdeportes.com that he’ll be the Reds’ new full-time shortstop to Dusty telling John Fay there’s no controversy here and both guys will play.

From Fay’s blog post:

While Renteria reportedly told ESPNdeportes.com that he’s the Reds ‘full-time’ shortstop, Baker wasn’t willing to commit to that. Asked if he considered Renteria or Paul Janish the starter, Baker said:

“I don’t know. We don’t have a quarterback controversy at short. Everybody plays on my team. They’re both going to play. Janish is younger. Edgar is more experienced. Janish deserves a chance to be my shortstop.”

“You’ve got to have two shortstops,” he said. “Both are capable.”

I like that Dusty said what he said, out of respect for Janish. It’s easy enough for Dusty to say this because, quite frankly, one guy could stink it up during the spring and the other guy could hit .500 and the decision is made for him. It’s almost a “We’ll cross that bridge …” answer on Dusty’s part that doesn’t alienate anyone (except maybe Renteria, just a little, for jumping to the conclusion that he’ll be the starter). And the fact of the matter is Dusty really doesn’t need to commit to one guy or the other right now. And he IS right: Both guys WILL play if they’re healthy. He doesn’t say how much both guys will play, and he doesn’t need to.

I’d guess the Reds probably wish Renteria wouldn’t have said anything about being the full-time shortstop. It makes you wonder whether they told him he’ll be the starter but asked him not to say anything. It’s more likely that they told him he’ll have a shot at starting or the job is his to lose, which, like I said, is pretty much the case.

No Hall for Barry or Cobra

Dave Parker and Barry Larkin
It seems like anymore the BBWAA Hall of Fame results are decided well in advance of today. Writers resolve to vote for guys for whom others make a big push – and it’s often the guys who came close but missed the year before, which is what happened with Goose Gossage in 2008 and Jim Rice in 2009. This year, Bert Blyleven, in particular, wasn’t going to be denied. He came so close last year (5 votes shy) he’s running out of time and the consensus is how can you keep him out with that many strikeouts. And Roberto Alomar was right there last year as well, just 8 votes shy. And his numbers clearly merit Hall of Fame enshrinement in his second year on the ballot.

Everything I read beforehand said to expect a modest bump for Barry Larkin – who got 51.6 percent of the vote last year, his first on the ballot – but that he’ll likely have to wait another year. And sure enough, Barry finished third with 62.1 percent. So while I was very disappointed, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Hopefully next year.

Was Barry deserving of getting in on his first or second ballot? Absolutely. No question. But Larkin’s not the only one who got robbed. I don’t see any reason why Jeff Bagwell shouldn’t have gotten in as a first-timer. Is it really fair to assume a guy was juicing when there’s no proof, no failed drug test, no one who has ever said he saw him use steroids? C’mon. And you can’t argue with those numbers. Tyler Kepner wrote a great column, by the way, about how Bagwell’s rejection presumes guilt over innocence, and how sad that is.

Also on the ballot were former Reds Dave Parker, Bret Boone, Lenny Harris and Benito Santiago. We’ve previously made it clear that Parker deserves to be in the Hall, and in case you missed it, John Erardi wrote a strong piece just recently to that effect. Worth a read if you haven’t already. We say give Cobra his due. (He only got 15.3 percent.) Finished in the top 5 in MVP voting in five different seasons (and got robbed in 1985). One of the most feared hitters of both the late ’70s and mid ’80s. No reason he shouldn’t be in.

Blyleven and Alomar will join general manager Pat Gillick – elected by a post-expansion Veterans Committee last month – for the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown on July 24.

Meanwhile, consolation for Larkin fans? There’s a tricky, 15-question Larkin quiz that just got posted earlier this week on Cincinnati.Com. Enjoy.

Hermida

We’ve heard names like Fred Lewis, Scott Podsednik and Edgar Renteria bandied about in recent days, but nothing beyond Jocketty confirming that agents have been contacted has developed.

But now it appears the Reds may be close to signing Jeremy Hermida to a minor-league deal.

MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that a baseball source told the web site the deal is imminent, but hasn’t been finalized.

No formal announcement has been made.

From Sheldon:

Cincinnati has been looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder to come off the bench, and Hermida could fit that bill if he were to make the club out of Spring Training. General manager Walt Jocketty has also had talks with left-handed-hitting outfielders Scott Podsednik and Fred Lewis.

I’m more excited about this than I have been about rumors involving Lewis, Podsednik and Renteria for the following reasons:

• It’s a minor-league deal … low risk, potentially high reward. Two years ago the Reds were signing Jonny Gomes to a minor-league deal, and you see how that turned out.

• Hermida is still very young but has MLB experience. He turns 27 at the end of the month (Gomes was 28 when we signed him). Lewis is 30, Podsednik will be 35 in March.

• He’s a former first-round pick. The talent is there. In fact, he was part of the infamous 2002 first round, where B.J. Upton is the only pick of the first five (which included the Reds’ Chris Gruler, who never pitched in the majors) who hasn’t turned out to be a bust. But picks 6 through 20 have included Greinke, Prince Fielder, Jeff Francis, Hermida, Joe Saunders, Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Hamels, James Loney and Denard Span. (The Reds get a pass, however, for the fact that their first two picks of that draft never reached the majors because their third pick was second-rounder Joey Votto.)

• Hermida’s young but he has experience. And he just has to regain his stroke. In 2007, he hit .296/18/63 in 429 at-bats. Hate to keep beating over the head with the Gomes comparison, but Gomes was four seasons removed from .282/21/54 in 348 at-bats when the Reds signed him. Hermida is three years removed from his big year.

By the way, I found it a little bizarre that Jocketty thought Laynce Nix had signed with Seattle when he hadn’t, according to John Fay (scroll to the end of the blog post). Wha?

Time to Ranger-hate?

I always considered the Texas Rangers my favorite American League team; I lived in Dallas for 3 years when I was a kid and they don’t really have much history with the Reds nor have they ever really posed a threat to the Reds. One of those teams we don’t pay much attention to because they play in the other league. But are you like me and starting to get a little annoyed with “The Ryan Express” and his team after they got an ALMVP (.359/32/100) effort out of our buddy Josh Hamilton (No. 2 on last month’s ones that got away list), lured away Arthur Rhodes last week and then reportedly edged us out for the services of free-agent pitcher Brandon Webb, despite the fact that there was much buzz over the weekend about the Reds being a mystery NL Central suitor, the fact that Webb is from Kentucky and went to UK and his friendship with Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, who was Webb’s pitching coach in Arizona for five years.

What’s next? Are they going to try to steal away Homer Bailey, Sam LeCure, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs or any other players of ours who have Texas ties?

What about Webb? How bad did you want him? Guess the Reds have some money to spend but maybe not THAT much.

Baseball’s Seasons

1975 Cincinnati Reds
Just got done watching the hour-long “Baseball’s Seasons” on MLB Network about the 1975 season. First of all, I must say they do a REALLY nice job with that program. I was impressed. And not just because they devote plenty of time to the entire 1975 World Series and don’t gloss over everything but Carlton Fisk’s home run like others do.

Enjoyed Cliff Johnson’s quote about the Big Red Machine, “I don’t know who named it, but whoever did they named the hell out of it because it WAS a machine and they WOULD run over you.”

Always love the anecdote about Denny Doyle claiming he heard Don Zimmer yelling, “Go, go, go!” when Zimmer was yelling, “No, no, no!” before George Foster guns him out at home plate (personally one of MY favorite Game 6 highlights).

Anyway, definitely worth watching if you get a chance. Set your DVR if you missed it; it replays at midnight and 3 a.m.

(One other highlight: The atrocious all-red uniforms the Cleveland Indians wore in 1975. Wow.)

Tell your friend Veronica …

Jay Bruce

Sorry for the glare from my Jay Bruce Chrome Refractor.

OK, so OMGDan picked up a few packs of 2009 Topps Heritage (based on the 1960 set) for $2 apiece at Redsfest just before it closed and I was unable to pull the trigger as we were being asked to vacate the premises. A good 20 seconds of analysis paralysis had cost me an opportunity to take advantage of that deal, so I looked for the same cards a couple of days later at a local department store that specializes in various and sundry items and purchased a couple of blaster boxes. Pictured above is by far my best pull. Yes, that’s Chrome Refractor – numbered to 560, beaches. (So it’s in between the Chrome cards numbered to 1960 and the Chrome Black Refractors numbered to 60.) Happy Hanukkah to me.

Hit King in the ‘burbs

Sports Gallery just opened a few weeks ago on Cincinnati Dayton Road in West Chester and what better way to celebrate than to welcome a certain former Red who will most assuredly not be appearing at RedsFest.

Pete will be at Sports Gallery this Wednesday (Nov. 17) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and tickets are reasonably priced and on sale now (though they are limited so don’t wait too much longer). Get a flat item/baseball/mini helmet signed for $50, or a bat/jersey/other equipment signed for $75. And all autographs include one free inscription, such as Hit King, 4192, 4256, 1973 MVP, 1963 ROY, 1975 & 76 WS Champs, etc. And there are items available for sale at Sports Gallery if you don’t currently have something you really want to get signed. In fact, leave yourself plenty of time to browse while you’re there … they’ve got some pretty impressive items you’ll want to check out!

For more info about tickets, visit www.asportsgallery.com or call 513-759-4256. (Pretty cool, too, that they got 4256 as the last four digits, huh?)

Ones that got away?

Obviously there’s been much discussion about whether Josh Hamilton should’ve been traded away to Texas. But do you ever think about other guys you wouldn’t mind having back in a Reds uniform (even if they really stunk when they WERE Reds like Ryan Dempster did). Here’s my Top 12 ACTIVE players who have thrived to some extent since the Reds turned them loose. Feel free to agree or disagree and/or add anyone we omitted in the comments section. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying I’d want Paul Konerko instead of Votto at first base right now … duh. I just enjoy keeping track – in case you couldn’t tell by the RedsFest appearance wishlist post – of what guys go on to do when they leave Cincinnati. It’s fun for me for reasons I can’t explain. Disclaimer No. 2: I didn’t include guys like Jeremy Sowers, John Axford and Jake Arrieta, who were drafted by the Reds, but did not sign.) And no, Adam Dunn is not going to make this list, just because. Because his average isn’t THAT much better with the Nationals and he still strikes out a TON (a career-high 199 in 2010).

12. Matt Belisle, RP. Lousy for the Reds in 2008 (1-4, 7.28) and not much better for the Rockies in 2009 (3-1, 5.52) but he had a very nice 2010 campaign, finishing 7-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 76 relief appearances. With 91 Ks in 92 innings, by the way. And 8.9 Ks/9 is by far the best of his career.

11. Jorge Cantu, IF. Up until just recently, I’ve been outspoken about being Mr. Why-on-Earth-did-we-release-Jorge-Cantu? .277/29/95 as a full-time player with the Marlins in 2008, followed by .289/16/100 in 2009. He did cool off in 2010, hitting .262 with 10 and 54 before the Fish dealt him to Texas for a couple of minor-leaguers, making him a bench guy. But he’s still only 28 and I still think he could’ve been at least invited to Spring Training after he went 17-for-57 (.298) in his limited action as a Red in 2007.

10. Dennys Reyes, RP. OK, so there are 9 other teams who could play the “I-can’t-believe-we-let-Dennys-Reyes-get-away” game too. But do you know where he spent the longest stretch (4 years) of his 14-season big-league career? Right here in Cincinnati. Did you know he was only 21 when the Reds acquired him – along with Paul Konerko (more on him later) – for Jeff Shaw. Did you know he’s still only 33?! OK, one more did you know … the guy has made 50+ appearances in each of the past five seasons. The ERAs he’s posted in those seasons? 0.89, 3.99, 2.33, 3.29 and 3.55. Money.

9. Zach Stewart, SP. If you were like me, you were more worried about the two young arms (Stewart and Josh Roenicke) who went to Toronto with Edwin Encarnacion for Scott Rolen than you were about EE himself. And at this point, would you take back that trade just because a 23-year-old Stewart went 8-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 26 starts for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats this past season? Absolutely not. It’s just not a bad idea to keep tabs on guys like this (along with Brandon Waring, Justin Turner, Jeff Stevens, et al.) for later on when they maybe get promoted and do something.

8. Jeremy Affeldt, RP. As a Red, he was 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 78 1/3 innings in 2008. He parlayed the season into a nice deal with the Giants. In San Francisco, his 2010 campaign (4-3, 4.14) wasn’t quite as strong as his 2009 (2-2, 1.73), but he battled injury and the Giants obviously think highly enough of him that he made five postseason appearances during the team’s recent World Series title run.

7. Jeff Keppinger, IF. C’mon. Keppinger? Really? Is that the best you can do? No, but he makes the list. Keppinger actually established career bests in 2010 with 514 at-bats, 62 runs, 148 hits, 34 doubles, 59 RBIs. And you’ve got to give the guy credit: In his first full season as an everyday player, he hit .288. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And you’ve got to love a guy who walks more than he whiffs. Keppinger had 51 walks in 2010, and only 36 strikeouts.

6. B.J. Ryan, RP. Ryan has had a rough past couple of years. He had a 6.53 ERA in 20 2/3 innings in 2009, was released by the Blue Jays in July of 2009, was signed by the Cubs 10 days later and released by the Cubs a couple of weeks after that. But he’s still 33 I’m not aware of any formal retirement announcement (though he did ask the Cubs for his unconditional release). And it’s tough to ignore those years when he was an outstanding relief pitcher – 2003: 3.40 ERA in 50 1/3 innings; 2004: 2.28 ERA in 87 innings; 2005: 2.43 ERA with 36 saves in 70 1/3 innings; 2006: 1.37 ERA with 38 saves in 72 1/3 innings; and 2008: 2.95 ERA with 32 saves in 58 innings – knowing that the Reds drafted him in the 17th round of the 1998 June draft and traded him a year later for Juan Guzman (an integral part, mind you, of the Reds’ strong 1999 campaign).

5. Paul Konerko, 1B/DH. You might cringe a little when you see what this guy has done since the Reds traded away a 22-year-old Konerko for Mike Cameron in 1998. (Yes, we realize Cameron was a big part of bringing Junior here just 13 months later.) With the exception of down years in 2003 (.234/18/65), 2007 (.259/31/90 – actually a down year for him) and 2008 (.240/22/62), he’s kind of been a beast. And he bounced back from the worst year – 2003 – with .277/41/117 in 2004. It looked like his power and average were taking a turn for the worse as he got further into his 30s … until this year. .312/39/111 in 2010. Right up there for the best year of his impressive career so far (.584 slugging and .977 OPS were career bests).

3 (tie). Ryan Dempster, SP. Sure, the guy is 102-102 with a 4.37 ERA over 13 big-league seasons. How could we possibly miss him that much. But in 7 seasons with the Cubs since Dempster was released by the Reds in 2003 (after a miserable ’03 season in which he went 3-7 with a 6.54 ERA and a disgusting 1.76 WHIP), he’s 52-47 with a 3.67 ERA and 87 saves. He had his ups and downs as a closer for the team, but look at Dempster as a starter for the Cubs. 2008: 17-6, 2.96. 2009: 11-9, 3.65. 2010: 15-12, 3.85 (with 208 Ks in 215 innings). That’s three consecutive seasons of 200+ innings with an ERA under 4 (and one under 3). You think Arroyo has been solid for the past three seasons? Dempster’s numbers have actually been better.

3 (tie). Ryan Franklin, RP. Are there more feared closers in the game? Sure. But ever since 2007, when Franklin posted a 3.04 ERA in 69 appearances in his first year with the Cardinals, they’ve felt pretty good about what he’s done. 3.55 ERA in 74 relief appearances in 2008, 1.92 ERA in 62 appearances as an All-Star in 2009 and 3.46 ERA in 59 games in 2010. And 83 saves along the way. The consolation: At 37, he’s no spring chicken anymore. The dagger: He’s got more saves (9) against the Reds than any other team.

2. Hamilton, OF. As a Red: Hit .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBIs in 298 at-bats in 2007. Only time will tell whether it was a good idea to give up Hamilton for Daniel Ray Herrera and Edinson Volquez, but right now it’s not looking great. No offense to Volquez, but Hamilton appears to be an elite talent. A league-leading .359, with 32 HRs and 100 RBIs in 518 at-bats during the regular season. He also led the AL in slugging percentage (.633) and OPS (1.044). Oh, and he still only made $3.25 million. No offense to Jonny Gomes, but imagine an outfield of Hamilton, Stubbs and Bruce. The consolation: He’s still a little streaky. In the ALDS, Hamilton was 2-for-18 (.111) with 2 walks, 6 strikeouts and a stolen base (though – in his defense – he missed most of September with bruised ribs). In the ALCS against the Yankees, he was 7-for-20 (.350) with 4 homers, 8 walks, 7 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. And in the World Series, he was 2-for-20 (.100) with a homer.

1. Trevor Hoffman, RP. “That’s history, Fletch.” Yeah, we know, he didn’t even pitch when he was a Reds minor leaguer – he played shortstop. But there’s no forgetting that the guy who would go on to become MLB’s all-time saves leader was an 11th round pick of the Reds in the 1989 draft who was made available to the Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft. Whoops.

Also receiving votes: Jose Guillen has put together a couple of decent seasons since the Reds dealt him to Oakland for Harang and two others in the middle of an outstanding 2003 campaign (Guillen was .337/23/63 in 315 at-bats at the time of the trade), but he’s struggled for the most part in the batting average category. Same with one-trick ponies Russell Branyan and the aforementioned Mike Cameron. Elmer Dessens, who followed up a decent 2009 (3.31 ERA in 28 appearances) with a solid 2010 (2.30 ERA in 53 relief appearances for the Mets) at age 39. Alex Gonzalez hit .250 with 23 homers and 88 RBIs between two teams in 2010. I mentioned Cody Ross here but really he wasn’t a Red long enough to really worry about it. And depending on how 2011 goes we could maybe sub out Belisle for Todd Coffey, we’ll see. (And we’ll keep an eye on guys like Chris Denorfia and Darnell McDonald and Adam Rosales to see what they might do over an entire season, and Craig Tatum and Pedro Viola to a lesser extent.)

C’mon, I know I’m forgetting someone. Bring it! But you’d better check ‘em before you head this way with William Bergolla, Chris Dickerson, Jerry Jr., Kyle Lohse (’08 is looking like a one-hit wonder) Felipe Lopez, Corey Patterson, Wily Mo, David Ross, Kirk Saarloos, Willy Taveras or Ryan Wagner, cuz we’ll send it back.

Redsfest appearance wishlist

As we wait with bated breath to find out who will be appearing at next month’s RedsFest (the day the list is revealed is seriously one of our favorite days of the year here at OMGReds.com) … we thought it’d be fun to think about unexpected appearances from former Reds.

And while you might dream about getting John Bench or Tony Perez or even Junior, we hate to break it to you but it’s not going to happen. Josh Hamilton also isn’t going to feel bad that he didn’t stick around in Cincinnati longer and make it up to fans by showing up at RedsFest. No, I prefer to celebrate and embrace former Reds who never quite lived up to expectations. And here are some of the cards (we have a million of) that we’d love to get signed if any of these guys did show up.


Willie Greene

Willie Greene
Ah yes, the Reds were high on Greene when he made his Major League debut Sept. 1, 1992 at age 20, three years after he was the Pirates’ first pick in the 1989 draft. In fact, he spent the majority of his career with the Reds before he was dealt to Baltimore in ’98 for Jeffrey Hammonds (who, by the way, we would also love to see at RedsFest). Greene had less than 200 at-bats with the Reds between 1992 and 1995 and spent most of those seasons hitting for power but not really for average in Indianapolis, which was also what plagued him when he became the Reds’ everyday third baseman. But did you know this guy hit 19 homers in 287 at-bats in ’96, and then 26 homers and 91 RBI in just under 500 at-bats in ’97!


1989 Topps Mark Lewis

Mark Lewis
The second overall pick in the 1988 June amateur draft (by the Cleveland Indians) had not one but two stints with the Reds … and he’s from Hamilton! C’mon, tell me half of Hamilton wouldn’t turn out to see the guy who was 1988 Gatorade High School Baseball Player of the Year for the Big Blue? Even hard-core Reds fans seem to have already forgotten Game 3 of the 1995 National League Division Series against the Dodgers, when Lewis hit the first pinch-hit grand slam in postseason history. And he hit .339 in 171 at-bats for the Reds that season. (He was .254/6/28 with the Reds in ’99.) The guy was seriously an unsung contributor to the ’95 team that until a few weeks ago was the most recent to make the playoffs. Time to give him some love.


Pokey Reese

Pokey Reese
The Reds’ first-round pick (20th overall) in the ’91 draft, Reese could fly and field but not enough of the other stuff. But it suddenly looked like the sky was the limit for Reese during his career year in ’99 (which coincided with an outstanding Reds’ campaign that season, of course). He hit .285 with 38 stolen bases (fifth best in the NL) and won his first of back-to-back Gold Gloves for the Reds. But he came back to Earth in 2000 when he hit .255, and even more so in 2001 when he hit .224. He was traded in Dec. 2001 with Dennys Reyes to the Rockies for Luke Hudson and Gabe White, dealt the next day by the Rockies to Boston for Scott Hatteberg and granted free agency two days after that. He signed with the Pirates and spent a couple of disappointing seasons in Pittsburgh and another one with the Red Sox, never regaining that ’99 form (though he did win a title with the BoSox in ’04). Sure has been through a lot off the field too, for sure, as explained in this Boston Globe article.


Eric Owens

Eric Owens
This fourth-round pick of the Reds in 1992 bounced back and forth between Cincinnati and Indianapolis so much that his nickname was “I-74.” But we find his 1996 numbers with the Reds fascinating. He hit just .200 in 205 at-bats, but he managed to steal 16 bases. 41 hits, 23 walks, 16 stolen bases! He always had the green light (he stole 33 in 1999 and 29 in 2000 for the Padres) and made a nice career for himself as a very poor man’s Dave Collins (speaking of whom, he definitely doesn’t fit in the category for this post, but how about inviting D.C. to RedsFest!)


Brandon Larson

Brandon Larson
The Reds’ first-round pick (14th overall) in the ’97 draft and – by all accounts – a bona fide slugger at LSU, Larson played his entire four-year MLB career with the Reds from 2001-2004. Which amounted to .179/8/37 over those parts of four seasons. But don’t worry, Brandon, you’ve got plenty of company as far as BUSTY first-round picks by the Reds in the 1990s. Yes, we’re looking at you, John Oliver, C.J. Nitkowski, Pat Watkins, Chad Mottola and Ty Howington.

Rest In Peace, Sparky

Here’s a link to Erardi’s Cincinnati.Com article.

Praying for Sparky and his family

Great piece by Erardi from Cincinnati.Com.

‘Headed for trouble’

I read this article from the San Mateo County Times and now I’m all freakin’ out that my 5-year-old son, who is in kindergarten, might be giving teachers and classmates the impression that he has an allegiance to a gang, given that we often send him to school in Reds gear. From the story:

According to various websites, Cincinnati Reds memorabilia is the second-most gang-affiliated sportswear.

Uh oh. Reading further …

Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Raiders clothing, bandannas and other accessories have distinct meaning to gangs in the Bay Area. If your family does not root for these teams but their logos are being worn excessively by your teens or tweens, they could be headed for trouble. Even if they have no interest in gangs, it’s possible they could be mistaken for a gang member.

Great, so when my boy becomes a teen or tween, he has to stop wearing Reds garb? Am I going to have to have a talk with him? “Sorry, pal, I can’t let you wear Reds logos anymore because of the risk involved. But I got you a couple of nice Billings Mustangs shirts on clearance at MLB.com so that any of your friends who are aware that the Mustangs are a short-season affiliate of the Reds realize that you still love your team.”

Who do you root for now?

Not the Phillies, we hope. Unless you thought it was heartwarming the way Halladay threw a no-hitter in Game 1 … or cute the way Chase Utley pretended like he had been hit by a pitch in Game 2 … or gutsy the way Charlie Manuel stuck with Cole Hamels in the 9th inning in Game 3. Don’t make me puke. Besides, the Phillies don’t even have any former Reds on their active roster.

I’ve heard some people talking about pulling for the Rangers because they still like former Red Josh Hamilton. Here’s a look at Hamilton and other former Reds still competing in the postseason:

(Note: I did not include the likes of Chad Moeller of the Yankees and Jose Guillen of the Giants, who were on those teams’ 40-man rosters but were not included on Division Series rosters.)

Hamilton, Rangers
As a Red: Hit .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBIs in 298 at-bats in 2007. Only time will tell whether it was a good idea to give up Hamilton for Daniel Ray Herrera and Edinson Volquez, but right now it’s not looking great. No offense to Volquez, but Hamilton appears to be an elite talent. (Oh, and he’s still only making $3.25 million.) And no offense to Jonny Gomes, but imagine an outfield of Hamilton, Stubbs and Bruce.
Now: A league-leading .359, with 32 HRs and 100 RBIs in 518 at-bats during the regular season. He also led the AL in slugging percentage (.633) and OPS (1.044). In the ALDS, Hamilton was 2-for-18 (.111) with 2 walks, 6 strikeouts and a stolen base (though – in his defense – he missed most of September with bruised ribs).

Jorge Cantu, Rangers
As a Red: 17-for-57 (.298) in 2007 after being acquired from Tampa Bay (along with Shaun Cumberland in exchange for Brian Shackelford and Calvin Medlock). Cantu was released by the Reds during the offseason that followed.
Now: Since being acquired from the Marlins in July (for a pair of minor-leaguers), Cantu is a backup infielder who hit .235 with 1 homer and 2 RBIs in 98 at-bats for the Rangers during the regular season. He struck out in three of his four ALDS at-bats.

Cody Ross, Giants
As a Red: 1-for-5 with 2 strikeouts in 2006 (Cincinnati was an extremely brief stop for Ross, who also played for the Dodgers and Marlins that season.)
Now: An August waiver pickup, he homered and singled in Game 4 of the NLDS to lift the Giants past the Braves. This after he drove in the lone run in Game 1. (No other player had so few RBIs for a team in the regular season and registered a postseason RBI, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.)

Jeremy Affeldt, Giants
As a Red: 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 78 1/3 innings in 2008. He parlayed the season into a nice deal with the Giants.
Now: His 2010 campaign (4-3, 4.14) wasn’t quite as strong as his 2009 (2-2, 1.73), but he battled injury. He did not appear during the NLDS.

Austin Kearns, Yankees
As a Red: Finished third in 2002 NL ROY voting (behind Jason Jennings and Brad Wilkerson) after hitting .315 with 13 homers and 56 RBIs in 372 at-bats. But the season was so far the best of his career, as his average dropped in the seasons that followed (.264 in 2003, .230 in 2004, .240 in 2005) before he was traded on July 13, 2006, in the much-discussed Kearns/Lopez/Ryan Wagner for Bill Bray, Majewski, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris and Daryl Thompson deal (that isn’t mentioned quite so often anymore, probably because Kearns and Lopez haven’t done a whole lot since they left, Bill Bray is still contributing for the Reds and fans have forgotten how terrible Majewski was as a Red). Kearns was at .274/16/50 in 325 at-bats at the time of the 2006 trade. He’s been subpar since the deal, though, with the exception of a decent .266/16/74 campaign with the Nats in 2007 (in which he had 587 at-bats, a huge total for him).
Now: .235/2/7 in 102 at-bats for the Yankees since being sent from the Tribe for minor-league pitcher Zach McAllister. He didn’t have an at-bat during the Yankees’ ALDS sweep of the Twins.

Dustin Moseley, Yankees
As a Red: Well, kinda. He was the Reds’ first-round pick (34th overall) in 2000. He pitched for Dayton, Stockton, Chattanooga and Louisville before he was traded during the 2004 offseason to the Angels for Ramon Ortiz.
Now: He was 4-4 with a 4.96 ERA for the Yankees during the regular season; he hasn’t appeared for them in the postseason. In his 5-year MLB career, he’s 12-11 with a 5.28 ERA.

Of the names on the list, Kearns had by far the longest stint with the Reds. Interestingly enough, Affeldt is the only other guy who even played a complete season with the Reds.

Ouch

You’ve got to feel for Jay Bruce. What an awful feeling. What a horrible way to lose the lead and for things to fall apart.

I have to agree with the broadcast team that it’s much more painful to lose the way the Reds did tonight than the no-hitter. The Reds had a 4-0 lead! Phillips was raking. They were scoring runs. Arroyo was dealing. Wha happen! The Reds were so close to turning things around after Game 1 and heading to Cincinnati tied at 1 that they could taste it. Now they’re on the ropes. They can win Game 3. And I don’t buy that the series is over just because they’ll have to face Halladay again. But it’s going to be a lot tougher than it would’ve been if they’d have taken care of their lead.

Analysis follows. This post might not be as long, though, as our post from the other night because I played a drinking game during tonight’s game where I had to drink every time Brian or Joe referred to Halladay’s no-hitter. (And I had to chug each time they showed the new Beyond Baseball promo.) So I got pretty lethargic as the evening progressed.

• Why can’t someone tell Dusty to appeal to third after Utley missed the bag. I never understood why someone can’t let Dusty know. Dusty said after the game that he didn’t see it and didn’t find out until it was too late, but isn’t there someone on the bench who’s supposed to keep an eye on that? I know it has to be quick and it’s not like football where a coach in the booth can tell the head coach to challenge a call, but it’s frustrating. Different game if Utley’s run doesn’t count and there’s an out there.

Haha, wouldn’t you know as I type this I’m watching Chris Welsh during the FSO post-game show … his words … “I think the one thing though that you can look at, and wonder and scratch your head about, is that why in the world didn’t somebody in that dugout see that Chase Utley missed third base. I mean, if you’re sitting there live, somebody has to have the assignment, just like in the umpiring crew, somebody’s got the assignment to watch the ball, somebody else has got the assignment to make sure that the runners tag up on time or that they actually tag the bags. Well somebody on that coaching staff should’ve been looking at third base because Chase Utley missed that third base by a long shot. And had they been able to go back and appeal that, his run would’ve been out, and I think the way I’ve got it figured, they don’t score in that inning. So it was a very unfortunate turn of events right there but I think some of those could’ve been prevented with a little more due diligence.”

AP photo shows Utley was out

• I’d love to see Chase Utley sliding into second from at least two other angles. John Kiesewetter praised TBS’ cameras but I’m pretty sure we only got to see that replay twice. HUGE call. And it was VERY close … he honestly looked out to me on the throw from Rolen to Phillips.

• I can only think of one time – before the game started, actually – Joe Simpson annoyed me, which is a credit to him. “It’s hard to imagine anybody pitching better than Halladay pitched a couple of nights ago but Roy Oswalt is certainly capable.” C’mon, Joe.

• Simpson was right about one thing: Phillips’ home run was “exactly what the Reds needed.” That’s got to be one of the biggest home runs ever to lead off a playoff game. After getting no-hit.

• Great eye by Stubbs – another guy not necessarily known for great plate discipline – on ball four in the 2nd inning. Solid job he did breaking up the double play on the ball Utley threw away too, allowing Nix to score.

• Huge hit by Cabrera after Phillips led off the inning with a hit. These two really set the table in the 3rd; what a huge squandered opportunity to work on increasing that lead. It was really a shame Votto, Rolen and Nix all failed to come through and do some damage in that inning.

• Phillips on Oswalt (during a quick soundbite they showed): “Hit his mistakes, because he makes a lot of mistakes.” Nice. He doesn’t really mince words, does he.

• Rolen was getting around pretty gingerly in the 3rd, when he struck out for the fourth time in his fifth at-bat of the series. He’s clearly not 100 percent. I realize he wants to play, he deserves to play, he contributed A LOT to the Reds’ push for the postseason. I hate to say it, but he’s not doing the Reds any good if he’s dealing with some pretty nagging pain. Cairo isn’t going to strike out 5 times in 7 at-bats like Rolen has.

• It stinks because Bruce actually had a nice game with the exception of the ball he lost. He friggin’ tattooed that home run ball to lead off the 4th. He had a great throw after Victor Ino took him back to the warning track, putting a scare into Carlos Ruiz trying to double him up at first. And he did a good job laying off that close pitch by Lidge with two strikes to draw a walk to lead off the 9th.

• Bronson did a great job getting that huge double play ball after walking Howard and giving up the hit to Werth. Good damage control in the 5th too by getting Howard after he allowed the 2-out, 2-RBI hit by Utley. He did a great job getting ahead and striking him out.

• I take it back, I got annoyed by the broadcast team one other time. Anderson saying Janish entering the game for Cabrera “could be a tough blow for Cincinnati.” Simpson chiming in with Janish is “not as good an offensive player.” Hmmm. Cabrera hit .263 with 4 homers and 42 RBI in 494 at-bats during the regular season. Janish hit .260 with 5 homers and 25 RBI in 200 at-bats. It doesn’t appear that there’s as much of a difference offensively as they make it out to be.

• Kinda funny that the Phillies followed suit by looking to a young guy (Domonic Brown) with the first pinch-hit appearance of the series (Juan Francisco was our first pinch-hitter in Game 1)

instead of a seasoned vet.

• The Reds sure are having a tough time getting the third out in this series. Four out of the Phils’ five hits in Game 1 came with 2 outs. Utley’s hit in the 5th – 2 outs. Ondrusek walked in the run in the 6th with 2 outs. All of that crap in the 7th (except for Utley’s HBP that didn’t hit him) happened with 1 out, but there would’ve been 2 outs if they would’ve called Utley out at 2nd (or if someone would’ve caught that he missed 3rd).

• Hey, annoying lady in the blue shirt waving your towel trying to distract Nick Masset on every pitch he throws: Please stop.

• Reds only had one hit from the 6th inning on. They had two walks, but one of those guys (Stubbs) got picked off.

Suggested Onion headline

How about something like, “MLB awards Phillies a second win for Halladay’s no-no.” Kinda feels like some people – from SI’s Jon Heyman to casual Reds fans on Facebook saying they’ve lost faith – have completely given up on the Reds after ONE GAME.

Impressive feat, no doubt. Also not the end of the world as far as the Reds are concerned. Did anyone think the Reds would win both of the first two games in Philly? Very few, I would imagine. Did Reds fans hope the team could earn a split of the first two games so that they could come to Cincinnati with a chance to win the series here? Sure. Which they still have a chance to do, against a guy (“Little Roy”) who was once dominant against the Reds but hasn’t beaten us since ’08. And is the series even over if the Phils take Game 2? Not as far as I can tell. I’m pretty sure it’s best 3 out of 5.

Anyway, the only other problem I had with Heyman’s column was his suggestion that Cabrera was the only one to complain about Hirschbeck’s strike zone. He may have been the only one to complain verbally AFTER the game. I think it was pretty clear that Rolen had a problem with strike three in the 5th (as I mentioned last night) … he might not have whined about it afterward because he’s a professional and he’s ready to give Halladay his due and move on like the rest of us.

Everyone’s entitled to have a bad day or a bad night, right? It looks especially bad when the opposing pitcher is having a great night. The Reds will get ‘em going in Game 2, and hopefully it’s enough to tie the series at 1. Or maybe they’ll shoot for winning the final three games of the series, even if they do have to face Halladay again. I bet they won’t forfeit the game if they do; sure they got no-hit, but they also pounded him once during the regular season (he gave up a season-high 13 hits in Cincinnati on June 30). Anything can happen.

Oh, no

Dang, why couldn’t we have faced Jamie Moyer or Joe Blanton or something.

Well, the losing end of the second no-hitter in postseason history isn’t where we wanted to be after Game 1. But it is just one loss and hopefully we can beat Roy Oswalt – who started 23-1 against the Reds but hasn’t won against the Reds since 2008 and was 0-2 against the Reds this season (though you wouldn’t know it by reading this story and, yes, I know, he hasn’t faced us yet as a Phillie) – to earn a split in Philly and come back to Cincinnati tied at a game apiece. Just gotta shake it off; some guys have to go into Game 2 hoping to get some better at-bats than they got and realize they’re facing a different pitcher in Game 2 who (going out on a limb here) isn’t going to no-hit them.

Some (mostly painful) Game 1 observations:

• First, the silver lining. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again … this Travis Wood kid is just cool as a cucumber. Now that’s not to say he wouldn’t have had some nerves going (like Volquez did) if he’d have started the game instead, but he was just mowing them down and keeping the Reds in the game (well, if the Reds had brought their bats).

Wood got out of Volquez’s jam in the 2nd and sat down Ryan Howard on three pitches to start the 3rd. Struck out Jayson Werth twice. 3 1/3 innings, and all he allowed was a two-out double to Raul Ibanez (followed by an intentional walk of Carlos Ruiz). Got a bunch of fly outs (including one that scared me a little) and looked very sharp. Could this guy start Game 5 (back in Philly)? He obviously doesn’t mind pitching there. You may recall he took a perfect game into the 9th in Philly, throwing 9 scoreless innings against the aforementioned Halladay in just his third Major League start on July 10, allowing just one hit and striking out 8 (but failed to get the victory because Halladay also pitched 9 shutout innings). In fact, I was a little annoyed that it wasn’t mentioned (apologies if it was and I was letting the dog out or something) during tonight’s broadcast … something like Wood has now pitched 12 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings at Citizens Bank Park.

Ondrusek did a nice job settling down and getting three outs after he airmailed that throw way over Votto’s head. And he and Bray took care of business in the 7th. STRONG work by all three guys (Wood, Ondrusek and Bray). And don’t think the Phils weren’t trying to tack on a few insurance runs after they chased Volquez.

• Speaking of the TBS broadcast, Brian Anderson did a decent job (though I’m not sure how Werth can have “the key at-bat” in a 3-run inning just by seeing 9 pitches and getting out … I’d say even the walk by Ruiz was a more key at-bat in that inning than Werth’s, let alone the RBI hits that followed), but I can already tell Joe Simpson is going to get on my nerves. Saying the Halladay pitch to Cabrera in the first was strike three (pshhh). And I don’t know why I get so annoyed when people say Scott Rolen got traded for Edwin Encarnacion. (I remember there being two pitchers – Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart – involved as well.) But I expected Simpson to sound very impressed with the Phillies throughout this series considering he’s much more familiar (as a Braves announcer) with them.

• Volquez’s crucial mistakes: Letting Vic Torino steal that base on him in the first. That was a huge jump he got. Walking Carlos Ruiz in the 2nd with two outs KILLED him too. He kinda regained his composure – after getting behind 3-0 to Rollins just after Ruiz, Valdez and Halladay got on with two outs – but then walked Rollins too before facing Vic Torino. Wheels are off at that point. All with two outs. What a shame.

• That was a great play by Jonny Gomes, though, to keep the ball in front of him on Halladay’s RBI single. Nice effort; if that ball gets past him it’s another run and Halladay advances too (not that that run and Halladay didn’t go on to score shortly thereafter, but on a night like tonight it’s worth applauding every small thing the Reds did right).

• When Volquez was exiting in the 2nd, did anyone else say, “WTF, is it raining??” That was kinda out of nowhere.

• Phils had four of their five hits with 2 outs. Ouch.

• Strike 3 call on Rolen for the first out in the 5th was garbage. But Rolen struck out two other times. It’s gotta be pretty deflating to see a veteran leader like Rolen who is usually a tougher out and doesn’t strike out much (especially for the 20-homerun guy he was this year) whiff in all three at-bats.

• GREAT patience by Bruce (of all people, right?) to become the Reds’ first (and only) baserunner with the walk in the 5th inning. He looked at a couple of very close pitches the Bruce we’ve known would’ve hacked at. (And again, we’re making mention of everything the Reds did right. While we’re at it, we should point out that Rolen, despite striking out in every at-bat, had a pair of nice defensive plays.)

• Stubbs got a great pitch to hit with a 1-1 count in the next at-bat (after Bruce), and he knew it.

• I was kinda surprised Juan Francisco was the pinch-hitter in the 6th instead of Heisey (a righty who hits righties well and has proven himself as a pinch-hitter) or maybe Nix. That being said, Francisco contributed the closest thing to a hit aside from Wood’s liner to Jayson Werth in his only at-bat.

• Cabrera had a nice at-bat leading off the 7th – at least fouling off some pitches – though he may have swung at ball four.

• Gomes and Stubbs didn’t even have a chance against him in the 8th. Stubbs looked particularly bad in his strikeout.

• Miguel Cairo was a good call by Dusty. Cairo is EXACTLY the type of guy you expect to break up a no-hitter. He had 11 at-bats against Halladay, had seen him plenty of times. Right idea, skip.

Fail

To Whom It May Concern:

The Kid Rock ‘Watch the MLB Postseason on TBS’ promo I just saw during the Bengals-Browns game needs to be killed, or at least re-edited. Albert Pujols is in there, and it doesn’t look like the Cardinals are going to be in the playoffs. Thanks-

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