Saturday, March 31, 2007

6. Which member of the front office can I trust not to eat the last of my microwave chimichangas?

Director of Player Development Terry Reynolds: just because you’re one of the few holdovers from the O’Brien regime, doesn’t mean you can eat all my food. Because seriously Terry, I know I got them at Costco but they’re not cheap and you haven’t really bought groceries in like two months. If you could do me a favor and just leave me that last one, I work late tonight and I don’t want to have to stop on the way home.

President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Castellini: if I could pick my ideal CEO, the one I really wanted, the first I'd look for was whether they had access to wholesale fruits and vegetables. Not just apples and bananas, but more exotic fare. Now if I could just meet someone like that. What? This is the same Castellini from Castellini Co., the distributor of the largest and most comprehensive inventory of fruits and vegetables in the Midwest? It’s like a dream come true. The author imagines that CEO Castellini's pockets are permanently full of carrots, broccoli, and summer squash, so that last chimichanga is probably safe. Additionally, he seems to genuinely love Reds baseball and facilitate winning, though I hope he’s not providing food at the games.

GM and Executive Vice President Wayne Krivsky: Krivsky you diabolical. I know you and don’t want you anywhere near that last chimichanga. I am impervious to your GM speak. I know this chimichanga, the one with a potentially huge offensive upside, is of more value than that apple that just got a cortisone shot due to shoulder discomfort. Really? I really don’t see how I could possible be better off in the long run, I’ll just be hungry again in an hour. Well, I’ll have to consider it.

Is that apple still available?

Vice President and Assistant General Manager Bob Miller: After seven seasons in Arizona, Miller fell victim to something few men can resist, the sweet siren song of Wayne Krivsky. During his time in the desert, Miller oversaw the organization’s minor league player development operations and now the Diamondbacks are stocked with a seemingly endless supply of young talent. While Reds fans are optimistic he can do the same for the Reds, this author is less so in regards to eating that chimichanga. I’m watching you Miller.

Senior Director of Scouting Chris Buckley: Buckley was hired last February after working previously in the Blue Jays organization. The article discussing the hiring noted that Buckley presided over the scouting department when Gabe Gross, Russ Adams, and Aaron Hill were selected in the first round of consecutive drafts ('01-'03). Everyone knows that those players are all very, very good. Household names, if you will. Should he be able to provide similar results in Cincinnati, that chimichanga is his.

Friday, March 30, 2007

To preview this year’s club, I’ve broken the team down positionally into categories of how they can best benefit me. I believe this is the best and most relevant way to preview any team.

5. Which Reds infielder would like to take part in the staging of Those Glorious Gals-my original production dramatizing the on and off-screen relationship of the women of The Golden Girls?

Juan Castro: Castro’s still the same mean mistreater that he was during his first tenure with the Reds (2000-2004). Big glove with a little stick (career .233 average), but this year he ain’t going to steal my jellyroll. After winning the starting job with the Twins last season, his offense was as expected but his golden glove seemed to be missing a digit. Krivsky seized this opportunity to replace the offense of Kearns and Lopez with an eighth inning defensive replacement. Well, he’s back for 2007 and I’m going to do my best to put our history behind us, but in the end, it’s really up to him. I’ve already put everything I’ve got into this relationship and he’s never made any attempt to hit for a respectable average. It’s a shame because he really would make a very believable Rue McClanahan.

Edwin Encarnacion: of the group, I think Encarnacion’s the one who’ll best be able to handle the rigors of the performing arts. He loves being in front of an audience and keeping it on its toes. He’ll go behind the bag at third and throw a strike from the third base coach’s circle or he’ll charge and barehand a bunt and then fire a rocket off-balance to first but then, being the genius that he is, he mixes it up. Instead of fielding the routine roller or two-hopper and simply throwing the runner out at first (boring right?) he gloves it and throws it ten rows deep into the crowd or really charges up that cannon and targets the right field corner. That’s what makes live theater so invigorating, the unpredictability. Will they remember their lines? Maybe they’ll trip and knock over the backdrop. Will Narron’s head explode? No, he knows and understands. Edwin Encarnacion you are greatest person in the entire world.

Scott Hatteberg: what we all saw last year was a career year for Hatteberg. While you might expect more production from a first baseman from Washington State (or at least the use of a batting helmet in the field), with the exception of the last month of the season, he hit (.289 for a career .268 hitter) and was able to consistently get on base (.389 OBS) while not being a major defensive liability. But everyone wants power out of their first baseman, something Votto will likely provide when he’s ready. But assuming no major attrition, H-Bomb gets to hang around and spray singles. And you know, I like that.

Alex Gonzalez: the author was recently reading a fantasy preview and Gonzalez was not listed as one of the top 33 shortstops in baseball, fantasy-wise anyway. The author is certainly not going to argue that the members of the yahoo fantasy think tank are anything other than the smartest people around, so we’ll have to assume they’re right. Gonzalez, though universally praised for his defensive ability, is, apparently, a worse offensive option than Angel Berroa (outrighted to AAA), Nick Punto (8 career home runs), and Jack Wilson (I don't even need to provide any stats). And if this wasn't bad enough, I only make casting decisions after first consulting with the very same gentlemen from Yahoo. Alex, we'd love to have you, really, but we've already promised the role to Willie Bloomquist.

Brandon Phillips: it’s a real shame that we’re about to start new a season and there’s no one named Aurilia or Womack in the mix to suck it up at second base. Early last season Krivsky hypnotized the Indians front office into trading Phillips for a handful of Alf Pogs (Alf's back, in Pog form!). While I’m sure they miss the pogs, who wouldn’t, they're a highly collectable item, Phillips proved to be one of the more reliable components of last year's team.
He gave Womack a savage beating (statistically, of course) and sent him back home to mama. He then, very politely, informed Aurilia and Freel that second base was his and if they had a problem with that they could go ahead and shove it up their collective ass. While some experts feel his offensive numbers were higher than we should expect on an annual basis (.276/.324/.427 with 17 gonzos), he also stole bases (25), which he hadn’t had any interest in doing in the past, played defense, and generally brightened up the room with that Kool-Aid brand smile. If it wasn’t for Encarnacion’s natural theatrical gifts, it would be Philips' role to lose.

Jeff Conine: Conine looks like a pretty cool guy and should provide some offense as the right hand of the first base platoon and occasional outfield replacement but I just can’t picture him fitting in anywhere in the production. Maybe Stanley, but that role is more or less a walk-on, something in which he probably wouldn't be too interested.
To preview this year’s club, I’ve broken the team down positionally into categories of how they can best benefit me. I believe this is the best and most relevant way to preview any team.

4. Which member of the current coaching staff is most likely to become my best friend?
Billy Hatcher: the author read that one time when Billy still played for Houston, he broke his bat during a plate appearance and super balls came spilling out all over the field. When asked why he was a cheater, he explained that it was all a big misunderstanding. See, he had borrowed the bat from relief pitcher Dave Smith, who, because he gets so many at bats, had taken the time to hollow out the inside of the bat and fill it full of super balls. He was suspended for 10 games, but wow, that sounds like the type of guy with which I’d like to become friends. But I’m sure people who hit .750 in the World Series have plenty of friends already.
Jerry Narron: unfortunately, I’m just not sure Jerry has time for friends. He manages the best professional organization for 162 games a season, coaches girls varsity basketball (Rosewood High School basketball rules!), and meets with Josh Hamilton during his free time to remind him not to use cocaine. But I’m going on record right now to say, I’m willing to make the effort. I don’t live in Cincinnati, but I’ve got some miles saved up. I could come out there this summer and stay with your family or if you don’t have enough room I could just sleep in the clubhouse with the most famous name in clubhouse management, the Stowes (pictured below). It will be fun.

Bucky Dent: because I am also ashamed of my Irish heritage, I respect the fact that Bucky took the initiative and changed his name from O’Dey to Dent. But with my fragile ego, and general distrust of others, I’m not sure I could handle all the massholes who his image still gives the blood lust. Sorry Buck.

Mark Berry: third base coach Mark Berry’s loyalty to the organization is without reproach. He has served the Reds for 24 years, working in a variety of capacities (player, minor league manager, bullpen catcher, bench coach) and he’s in luck, because I’ve always wanted to be friends with a third base coach. I can just picture being at the game, Dunn’s on second and Berry looks over with a questioning grin, like “should we really do this?” I smile and nod my head. There’s a weak grounder to the right side of second. The ball’s behind him, so Dunn relies completely on his third base coach, who is waving him home. The big leftfielder rounds the bag and is halfway down the line before he realizes that the ball never left the infield and he’s going to be out by 25 feet. He’s comes to a stop in the middle of the baseline and is tagged out. Berry would shrug his shoulders, like “oops, my mistake,” and turn around to me and we’d all laugh, not at Dunn, but at the fact the team can continue to give runs away because the Cubs are in town. It would be hilarious.

Brook Jacoby: while I would certainly like to be friends with the new hitting coach, I know that once he sees my approach at the plate (I liken my stance to a cross between Julio Franco and Craig Counsell but with more bat movement, generating no power to all fields) it would prove to be too burdensome upon the friendship.

Dick Pole: 2007 marks his 19th season as a big league coach and 15th as a professional pitching coach, serving previously with the Cubs (1988-91), Giants (1993-97), Angels (1999), Indians (2000-01) and Expos (2002). But seriously, the name Dick Pole is about the greatest I’ve ever heard. If there was ever a name which should grace a postseason achievement award, this appears the most deserving. I genuinely hope to some day become friends with Dick Pole.

Tom Hume: on bullpen coach Tom Hume’s bio it discusses the money he has raised for the Shriner’s organization (over the last 7 seasons he has donated $23,700, $50 for each victory and save for the bullpen). I’ve always wanted to be a Shriner and envied those who are, but the fact that I own no fez, am not 90 years old, and have never been a fan of the circus, has proven prohibitive. But I have a hard time believing that the organization would retain its exclusivity when considering the application of the best friend of a generous donor. That and his glasses make him look friendly.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

To preview this year’s club, I’ve broken the team down positionally into categories of how they can best benefit me. I believe this is the best and most relevant way to preview any team.

3. Which member of the bullpen would have the best suggestion on how to treat the problem I’m having with my digestive system?

Bill Bray: some people feel that trading two key offensive components (as well as a recent first round draft pick) to Washington for a middle reliever (who is by no means valueless, it only seems that way because of Bowden and the frosted tips which control his inherent evilness), two middle infielders of varying ages but similar ability, a low minors pitcher and Bray, was something less than genius. But that is seriously underestimating the value of Bray, who was reportedly the linchpin of the trade. He’s likely to take the first part of the season off, so he can relax and get his head together, but after that expect a lights out late inning reliever with the cures for what ails you.

Todd Coffey: for some reason, in the low minors Coffey was known, as the Reds failed Japanese import used to say, “Big Frucking Nasty.” This handsome fellow, settled into a very effective setup role last season (60 K’s in 78 IP, righties hit just .242). Rumor has it that during the offseason Coffey added a split finger pitch to allow him to miss more bats, making him even more frucking nasty. But the question is, what does the Forest City, North Carolina native know about digestion? Perhaps a better question is, what doesn’t he know? The answer--nothing.

Kirk Saarloos: as Kirk knows, the digestive system is a very complicated organ. It’s like a long tube, some nine meters in total, through the middle of the body. It starts at the mouth, where food and drink enter the body, and finishes at the anus, where leftover food and wastes leave the body. The large intestine is 5 feet long and the small intestine is about 22. It’s really very fascinating stuff. But what does he recommend to someone confronted with the inevitable problems of an aging tract? How about some of that fresh Long Beach salad he’s bringing to the Great American Ballpark this season. Each of the last two seasons he’s had fewer strikeouts than walks, (53 Ks 54 Walks in 2005, 52/53 in ’06) but that’s something which concerns him not. He throws sinkers and hitters ground out and that is something that Reds fans will like very much.
*Update: Saarloos may not actually support a healthy digestive system

David Weathers: if 16 years of major league relief has taught Carl Weathers anything it’s how to deal with a disrespectful digestive system. The first step is to find some ladies, preferably by yelling at them from the bullpen during the game. That’s the best way to get their attention. Then after the game (or as early as the 6th depending on whether we feel like pitching today) we’re going to Chili’s for happy hour, where we’re going to eat something which is wrapped in bacon, fried in bacon, or stuffed with bacon. The beers are cheap, so the 30 or so we knock back won’t even use up our per diem. Then we’ll head somewhere that has a good jukebox, you know, Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd has to be in there. We’ll hang out for a while then onto Denny’s for a three meat scramble and a third of an apple pie. If that doesn’t clean you out, better make that appointment with Dr. Jellyfinger.

Rheal Cormier: ESPN reports that Rheal may be on the trading block. This is discouraging news considering the paucity of French Canadians on the team. Who are Guy and Jean-Baptiste going to support when they come down from Moncton? Maybe if Reds management knew a little more about New Brunswick, they might think twice before acting.

- New Brunswick, the largest of Canada's three Maritime provinces, is nestled under Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula and beside the State of Maine.
- The eastern boundary is entirely coastal and delightfully dotted with warm, sandy beaches...the warmest salt water north of Virginia.
- Shediac is the home of the world’s biggest fake lobster. It’s 15 feet high and weighs 90 tons. That’s a wicked big lobster.

So, there, ignore the fact that this situational lefty wasn’t all that effective against left-handed batters (.247 for righties/.289 against lefties) and remember our neighbors, no, our friends to the north. And by the way, it’s a fact that Canadians don’t know anything about the American digestive system.

Mike Stanton: Stanton has played for so many unlikable teams over the course of his long career; 1991-95 Braves, 97-02 Yankees, and most recently with the ’06 Giants, that I’m afraid he could spread this same pestilence to this year’s Reds team, or even worse, my bowels. He’s going to require at least a month of careful observation.

Dustin Hermanson: the fact that Hermanson sat unsigned until the beginning of March did not deter the Reds from inviting him to spring training and giving him every opportunity to win the closer’s role. And why not? Last year’s vacation with his old friend, Inflamed Lower Back, gave the 34-year-old reliever time to reflect upon his long, distinguished career. The opportunity to return home (he’s Ohio born and a Kent State Golden Flash) and add some structure to the ninth inning, will undoubtedly cement the genius of the Reds front office. Additionally, the stock photo of Hermanson makes it impossible to believe that someone who wears a beard which is so geometrically complex, doesn’t know how to solve basic digestive problems. Let me extend a warm welcome to you, Dustin Hermanson.
*Update: looks like Hermanson has decided to take his show on the road by refusing to report to AAA. Tough break for those of us who were looking forward to a season of nagging back injuries and reduced velocity. Bring me a double order of the Coutlangus!

Jared Burton: a rule 5 selection with supposed plus stuff and with Bray (and Majewski) possibly hitting the DL to start the season, he may stick around for a while longer. Last year at AA Midland, 4.14 66 Ks in 74 inning pitched, 71 hits allowed. But to tell you the truth, I smell a charlatan. If he makes the squad, we’ll need to find out where his loyalties lie.

To preview this year’s club, I’ve broken the team down positionally into categories of how they can best benefit me. I believe this is the best and most relevant way to preview any team.

2. Which Reds catcher would like to learn the banjo so we can start a bluegrass band?

David Ross: As of today, it looks as if the Reds will keep the formula of last season and retain three catchers on the roster. The majority of the time will go to Ross (.255/.353/.579) who showed some power (21 bombs) and did a good job behind the plate (threw out 14 of 31 potential basestealers, 45.2%). The Reds are paying him a shade over a million and a half, which seems like a bargain if he approaches the numbers from last year. Also, Ross is a southern boy, born in Georgia, attended Auburn for a couple of years, then on to the U. of Florida. But being careful not to stereotype all southerners as country music and NASCAR loving hillbillies, we’ll assume that Ross listens to sweet soul music and has never even touched a banjo.

But seriously, look at this picture and tell me he’s not just about to say one of these things:

1. Hoo boy, when those ribs gon’ be done?
2. Did you see Jarrett out there today? #88 tore that track up!
3. You call that banjo? Boy, get on up outta’ heah.

Javier Valentin: last year, with Jason Larue and the acquisition of Ross, Javy saw a cut in his time behind the plate. But you know what he thought? “No big deal, gives me time to think.” Time to think about raking righties (.286/.318/.476) and winning ballgames (tied for the league lead in pinch homers with 4). Time to think about throwing out 43% of potential basestealers (6/14). Time to think about his brother Jose’s moustache. But unfortunately for the author, also time to think about his one true passion, salsa music.

Chad Moeller: since the Reds seem intent on keeping a third catcher on the roster, the title this year goes to Chad Moeller, signed to a one year deal in the offseason. I don’t personally know that much about Moeller, other than his statistics, which look something like this over the last three years:

2004 Mil 101 317 25 66 13 1 5 27 21 74 0 1 .208 .265 .303

2005 Mil 66 199 23 41 9 1 7 23 13 48 0 0 .206 .257 .367

2006 Mil 29 98 9 18 3 0 2 5 4 26 0 0 .184 .231 .276

Pretty solid. His success against potential basestealers is similarly underwhelming, 21% thrown out last season. I can only think of one explanation for the signing, the guy can play the shit out of a banjo. Looks like we’ve found a winner. The final question is whether he’d like to be Cephus or one of the Tennessee Top Hats.

To preview this year’s club, I’ve broken the team down positionally into categories of how they can best benefit me. I believe this is the best and most relevant way to preview any team.

1. Which Reds outfielder can I trust to watch my cats and water my plants while I’m out of town visiting my parents?

Ryan Freel: He steals bases (37, 36, 37 over the last 3), plays a variety of positions (though he seems to be locked into center for this year), and hasn’t gotten a DUI in over a year. But I think, of all the outfielders, he’s the most likely to piss in the plants and with his diet, which I assume consists of Copenhagen Longcut, Arby’s roast beef, and Dr. Pepper, just once could kill them. That’s a risk I’m unwilling to take.

Ken Griffey: I couldn’t possibly ask the greatest player of our generation to come to my house while I am out of town and water my plants. Maybe, if he feels bad, he could just pick me up at the airport. Plus I’ve heard he’s lactose intolerant and I keep a lot of dairy on hand. I don’t want anything coming between him and the 162 games he’s going to play in right field this year. And by the way, that career low on-base from last year (.316), was simply an anomaly, he continues his attack on the record books with a much more Griffey-like season.

Adam Dunn: there is so much to like about the Big Donkey. He mashes the ball (40 bombs in ’06, third year in a row over 40), hits lefties (.270/.393/.503) and drew a league- leading number of walks. But even more appealing is the joke he continues to play on America. The lengths he goes to convince your uninformed baseball fan that he is not the cerebral, Tony Gwynn-esque, professional hitter, all true Reds fans know him to be. No matter how much criticism he receives, he continues the charade; his mystifying dreadful approach to right-handed pitching (.215 average, 130 Ks), his dedication to taking a first pitch strike every single at bat, his ability to make you actually believe your left fielder has at the very least, minor brain damage, are all part of the act. But remember if you find yourself questioning his motives, its not his unique pursuit, his legacy, but yours as a Cincinnati Reds supporter. Such an important endeavor is simply not something which can be interrupted by the additional responsibility of caring for cats and houseplants.

Josh Hamilton: Hamilton is someone who has kind of flown under the radar this spring. Apparently, he was high draft pick of one of the Florida teams and has some sort of criminal past or something. If that sort of thing interests you, I was able to dig up a little information here and also here, and I guess here and here as well. Many of the stories involve his grandmother’s role in his incurable crack addiction and almost all of the accompanying photos have him looking very thoughtful and non-threatening. But he is an enormous talent, demonstrated by him killing this spring (.403 through 3/28), and I think he’d be a positive addition to the organization. And that’s not just because the Josh Hamilton crackhead bobble-head, the one with him stealing your TV and kicking a puppy, is the best idea I’ve ever had. That said, I still don’t trust him around my cats unsupervised.

Chris Denorfia: I included Denorfia, even though Reds beat reporter Shelley has him in Louisville to start the season, because I like his socks and he has kind of a funny stance and most importantly of all the Reds outfielders, I’d deem him the most trustworthy. No publicized drug or alcohol problems, no limb-shattering children, and I think he’d be less likely to water the plants with Busch Light and have fewer skanks over to the house than Dunn. So that, along with his demonstrated ability to hit at every level (2006-.349 at Louisville in 346 PA and .283 in 117 with the Reds), has prompted the author to write a letter to Narron on his behalf.
*Update: the team website reports that Denorfia has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will require Tommy John surgery. The injury will sideline him for at least 6 months. Chris, I will be out of town from May 15th-30th, the position pays $20 per day and feel free to help yourself to anything in the fridge. The larger cat likes to go out on the deck.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Hey there. Come on in. Don’t worry about taking off your shoes. Sure I always wear a robe, and sandals and thick wool socks. And what’s that? I guess I hadn’t realized it had progressed to the point of jaundice-I thought it was more of a dull discoloration as opposed to the diseased sausage casing you describe. Well, I think you’re just being dramatic but if it is truly vomit-inducing, as you put it, just don’t look at it. Yes, it is absolutely necessary to have all these cats in the apartment. How else do you propose I reenact the Battle of Gettysburg?

Sit down, I’ll get you a tall cool beverage of your choosing and let’s talk about the Cincinnati Reds baseball squadron.