Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall League Update

The picture to the right, as I'm sure that very few of you can tell because of my professional quality photo-journalism is some documentary evidence of the Reds Rockets' trip to the Arizona Fall League game yesterday. That's Kris Negron and Dave Sappelt, who hit 1-2 yesterday, preparing to put together some high-quality at bats in front of the crowd of nearly 750 people. The Reds Rocket, depending upon varying levels of laziness, which can occasionally be miscategorized as business, usually makes it out to the park (Scottsdale is the most convenient for me, then the Reds Rocket can hit the club) about 10 times per fall. The Reds squad visited Scottsdale yesterday, so I took a few photographs to pass along to everyone.

Just to give a bit of background, feel free to tune me out and pick up at the paragraph below if you're familiar with the league, the Fall League consists of 6 teams: Scottsdale Scorpions, Phoenix Desert Dogs, Mesa Solar Stars, Peoria Saguaros (large cacti), Peoria Javolina (large pig), and Surprise Rafters. The Reds, as well as some other teams I care less about, are on the Saguaros this year. The Reds, as I previously stated, are Sappelt, Negron, Devin Mesoraco, James Avery, Jeremy Horst, Phillipe Valiquette, and recent addition Daryl Thompson. Both games I've seen the Reds play Mesoraco, who I'm most interested in watching, has gotten the day off. Here's a photo of his work from yesterday:

 Looking good out there Devin. So, far this Fall, he's swinging it at a .268/.279/.463 clip with a bomb, 5 doubles and a solid 4 passed balls. That may not necessarily the defense the Reds are looking for in their starting catcher for next season and 1 walk in 42 plate appearances isn't ideal either.

The Reds' opposition, Scottsdale, features noted jabrony, Bryce Harper. Harper's on the "taxi squad", meaning he's only eligible to play Wednesdays and Saturdays. Being that yesterday was Saturday, that's where the extra 650 people came from. Here's a picture of his eye-black warming up:

And here's a picture following his first at-bat:

He hit a rocket to right and the right fielder didn't even move. Later in the game he was doubled off first, he'd singled, on a relatively routine floater to short.

So, there you go. It's like you were at the game with me. Only you didn't get to enjoy any of the clever commentary which undoubtedly accompanies a trip to the ballpark with the Reds Rocket. And, of course, Aaron Miles jerseys were everywhere - just like at any MLB ballpark.

Good to see you all again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Big Money

Being the off-season, the Reds Rocket doesn't have much to talk about. Fortunately, guest contributor Andrew Perry has some wise information for the lot of you. And the Reds Rocket may or may not be running a little light this month and in need of some minor assistance in paying its astronomical heating bill. A blimp uses a lot of fuel. Take heed.

Betting on baseball may seem a bit daunting, especially for those who have only bet on football and
poker before or for those who have never bet on sports at all. Baseball betting doesn’t have to be intimidating as long as you have some idea of what you are doing. Here are the top baseball betting tips to get you started.

How to Bet on Baseball: Top Tip No. 1: Lean Towards the Money Line

If you bet on football, you’re probably used to betting with point spreads, where one team needs to win by a certain amount of points for a bet on that team to win. You can make similar bets using run spreads in baseball, but it can be a bit tricky. A superior team does not always translate into a big run differential, especially if the better team has very strong pitching or the weaker team has a bunch of sluggers who strike out a lot but can also hit home runs in the lineup. When starting out, you may want to stick with the odds-based money lines.

How to Bet on Baseball: Top Tip No. 2: Home Field Rules

Sure, the home team doesn’t win every time, and good teams know how to win on the road, but that doesn’t mean that playing at home doesn’t confer a serious advantage. Travel and the anticipation of more travel can take a lot out of a team, especially in a game that goes to extra innings. Don’t discard the value of getting charged up by the crowd or getting the last opportunity to hit either. Always consider home field advantage when betting.

How to Bet on Baseball: Top Tip No. 3: Knowledge Is Power

In almost any sports betting situation, in fact, in almost any betting situation, the more you know, the better your edge. There’s a lot of information to be had in a baseball game, from the records of the respective pitchers to the injury report to the kind of stadium it is and how well the respective players play in said stadium. Learn everything you can about the game before you bet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reds First Post Season in 15 Years Doesn't Go Quite According to Plan, Phills Sweep

It's hard for the Reds Rocket to pick their favorite part of the surprisingly brief three-game set with the Phills, you have Games 1 and 3 where the bats were completely dominated by Halladay and Hamels and then Game 2 where they got a few hits but followed the hits with a shit load (which is the technical term for more than 4 errors) of errors and the bullpen faltered. It's a tough choice. I suppose I'll take Game 2 as my favorite. At least the team made some solid contact. Bruce and Phillips went yard. If you look at the box score, you see a lot of sub .200 batting averages for the series (Votto .100, Rolen .091, Stubbs .111, Cabrera .125). i believe Cabrera and Rolen both had as many errors as hits. Traditionally, that's not the way to win in the playoffs, by getting no hits and fielding poorly. But the Reds have not been bound by tradition.

The pitching, putting aside Volquez's start, was pretty solid. Game 1 the relief gave the team a chance, were they have to picked up a couple of hits, to stay in the game. Same for Game 3, though Cueto was also quite good. But, in the end, the Phillies looked like they might be a little better team or, in the alternative, simply know how to behave in the playoffs. The Reds simply aren't used to any fans caring about what they do. That's a drastic change. At least the Phillies have to face Lincecum, Cain and a recently dominant Sanchez in trying to win 4 versus the Giants. So, we will see how their experience matches up against another team who also knows very little about the playoffs.

On a more positive note, Fall League ball starts today in Arizona. So, for people like me, that gives us another opportunity to watch the Reds rather than everything coming to an abrupt start. For people not like me, season's over, I guess. For the second year in a row the Reds will be members of the Peoria Saguaros. A saguaro is a large cactus, like what you'd expect to see Wiley Coyota fall on in the roadrunner cartoons. But, I don't need to tell you about cacti. The participating Reds are: James Avery (AA, P), Jeremy Horst (AAA, P), Devin Mesoraco (AAA, C), Chris Negron (AA, SS), Dave Sappelt (AAA, OF), and Phillip Valiquette (AAA, P).

So, that wraps it up. I will drop by whenever I have something that I feel someone may be interested in. Like, for example, the real reason the Reds looked so awful in Game 3.

They just couldn't listen to any more stories about Dave Conception. "I know he could glove it, just shut up already. I have a sore abdominal and have had a terrible series." Said Orlando Cabrera. He maybe didn't say the part about the terrible series.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reds Have Total Systematic Meltdown, Still Plan to Take Series, Phills 7-4

I was looking for an image to accompany this post. I typed in both "baseball error" and "scoreboard image error", since the Reds made so many mistakes in the field I thought it was appropriate. There weren't any pictures that I wanted, however, the late Gary Coleman in a cowboy hat came up in both searches. I decided that though it was necessarily connected, I liked this picture better than one I would find with the Reds with the head in their gloves after their mighty meltdown Friday night.

Going into the bottom of the 5th, the Reds were up 4-0. Phillips quickly ended all talk of the Wednesday night no-hitter with a lead-off bomb, the first of the leadoff variety of his career, off Oswalt. A couple of Chase Utley errors and Bruce bomb inflated the lead. Then the defense broke down. The fielders, especially compared to years past, have been remarkably consistent this season - the Reds making the fewest errors in the National League. But unfortunately, they saved four of them up for Friday. Phill and Rolen erred in the  5th, giving the Phills a couple of gift runs. After Arroyo was yanked after walking Werth, Rhodes came in and got one out, then hit Carlos Ruiz in the knee with a pitch. So, Arty and his aching feet ("my dogs are barkin'") hit the showers. Ondrusek liked the reaction of Ruiz's HBP so much that he decided to do the same to Ben Francisco, nipping the bill of his hard hat. So, bases loaded, two-outs and Vicorino at the plate. Ondrusek made the wise decision of not even bothering to throw strikes, walking in a run to make it 4-3 with the inning finally ending on a grounder by Placido Polanco.

However, after the Reds offense did little in the top of 7, the errors resumed in the bottom. Chapman relieved Ondrusek and was throwing his usual gas. The inning began with Utley pretending to be hit with a pitch. Read his, Utley's, post-game statement about it, that ball didn't even graze his jersey. Chap struck out Howard. Wirth then grounded to Rolen, who went to second but his throw was late to get Utley. Then the a-hole operating the scoreboard gave Bruce an error on what turned out to be the go-ahead run on a ball that he lost in the lights. You never see that call. Sure, he  did not catch a ball that has caught 100 out of 100 times this season, but how is that different from losing the ball in the sun. Phillips did his best to see that Bruce got off the hook, by making an error of his own on the relay throw from Stubbs. Two runs scored and everyone in Cincinnati was very disappointed.

The Reds were so dejected that they decided not to light up Brad Lidge. They'll wait until a little later in the series to do that.

So, back in Cincinnati down 0-2. Dusty has Philly right where they want them. Nothing is as demoralizing as being on the verge of victory only to fall apart before attaining it. That's what the Reds have in mind. Cueto's been drinking green all god-damned day and is jacked up! No 2/3rds of an inning with 9 runs allowed like last season's trip to Philly.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

At Least That's A Game Everyone Will Remember, Phills 4-0

Though that probably wasn't the way that everyone on the Reds side of the ball wanted things to start. I'll do my best Tim McCarver impression "as good as Halladay was, that's just as not good that Edinson Volquez was." Eddie didn't make it out of the second, fortunately Travis Wood was ready and continued to dominate the Philly offense. Holding your opponent to 5 hits over the course of a game is pretty good. Nice job bullpen. Bill bray even got 4 outs. But, when you're not going to get any hits it's difficult to make up 4 runs. And the Reds were unable to do so. Also, they get to face Roy Oswalt next start and you know that they always hit him well. Speaking of Roy Oswalt, can you think of any other teams or professions where there are two Roys both employed. "No, I mean the other Roy." I picture Tyson chicken having a lot of Roys in there chicken slaughtering facility. But I've never been to a chicken slaughtering facility, so that opinion is unsupported.

I have a hard time believing that when the Reds get to game 4, which they will, Dusty's going to run Volquez out there again. But we'll have to see. Arroyo's dominance tomorrow night will make that consideration a lot more relevant. Dusty gave a toothpick-waiving rant following the game, so I think the team, especially the offense, will be all ready to go.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Eddie v. Doctor Halladay

As the very informed reader base is well aware, the Game 1 matchup presents a very interesting pair of arms - Edinson Volquez v. Roy Boy Halladay. As the readership is also likely aware, Halladay's real name is Harry Leroy which is probably the name that just about everyone had in mind for your first born son, or daughter. Well, now you can avoid it so as to not have your child labeled as a turncoat or charlatan. I would certainly call them a charlatan, regardless of the age difference between me and your presently unborn child.

Edinson's season has been a little up and down (which is shorthard for I don't really feel like breaking down the entire season) much like the rest of the Reds' rotation, but the ups have been coming with more frequency of late. And, this certainly isn't something unexpected for a guy who is a little over a year off of major arm surgery. Pretty soon no one is even going to remember Tommy John other than for the surgery. I only hope to someday have the cure for irritable bowel syndrome named after my bowels. 'Sir, I have some good news and some bad news - beginning with the bad, you will require major surgery to correct your chronically inflamed digestive track. The good news being that the procedure is named after the delightfully clever Tim Timmons, contributor to the exceptionally well-written Reds Rocket baseball blog.'

Wednesday's start will be Volquez's 13th of the season. His season numbers look a little, or a lot, like this: 4-3 with 62 innings pitched, 59 hits allowed, 6 bombs allowed, 35 walks and 67 k's. The strike out number is particularly impressive. However, he also leads the team in starts that I had to go find something else to do when he was loading the bases while trying to remember where the strike zone was located. Since his brief vacation in A ball (which followed a 2/3rds of an inning outing where he walked 3, gave up 5 hits and allowed 5 runs) he has been especially filthy. The starts, in chart format, are thus:

SEP 11 PIT 0 0 5.14 1 1 0 0 0 0 7.0 1 0 0 0 1 10 98-64 5-6
SEP 16 ARI 0 1 4.99 1 1 0 0 0 0 6.2 6 3 3 0 2 7 85-52 5-8
SEP 21 @MIL 1 0 4.45 1 1 0 0 0 0 8.0 3 1 1 0 4 6 108-67 16-0
SEP 28 HOU 0 0 4.31 1 1 0 0 0 0 6.0 7 2 2 0 1 8 104-73 5-3

Granted, he was facing a lot of garbage in those starts, particularly the Pirates and D-bags. But the Brewers and Astros were both playing reasonably well at the time and Volquez made the lineup look like they were filled with damn fools, which, of course they were.

Troubling is my recollection of Volquez's debut on a big stage, the 2008 All Star Game. He pitched an inning and his stuff looked great, he was touching 98, but also gave up the go-ahead runs. The playoffs are, obviously, a much bigger deal and he does have his magic weave and weave cap. So, the Reds Rocket is predicting few walks and an overall dominating performance making us all forget how awesome Josh Hamilton has been this year. Yeah, I agreed with you at the time too Krivsky. I thought the debilitating effects of crack would break down his joints just like it has done to his soul. Facing Eddie, will be the Cy Young favorite, Halladay. One thing is for sure, Harry is a total asshole. Though, underneath the asshole exterior is a pitcher who can be touched, under the right circumstances. I will direct everyone to Exhibit A, his June 30 start against the Cincinnatians. The Reds hung around and finally took the lead in the 8th on a Bruce bomb, resulting in a Reds victory. Sure Harry pitched the full game and was real good but he still took home the loss. So, he can think about that for a while. On July 10, Travis Wood had the misfortune of facing him after the loss and Halladay was a little better. Actually quite a bit better. Instead of the 4 runs he gave the Reds, he opted to allow 0, striking out 9 and throwing a 9 inning, non-complete game. Wood matched him, as he was perfect through 8 and allowed only 1 hit through 9. So, beaten again Halladay, even though the Phills eventually won in extras.

So, we have two pitchers, with equivalent stuff making their first playoff appearance. Harry Halladay with all of the Phillies heavy petting going on sure seems to have all the pressure placed upon his dominant ass. The Reds Rocket is confident that he will buckle under that pressure and hand over Game 1 to the Dustifarians. Consider yourself waned Philladelphian. Why can't us, indeed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Two Hands Slapping Together Make a Very Nice Sound - Reds Conclude Regular Season 20 Games Over .500

The Reds put the pretty little bow on top of their very fine regular season today with a 3-2 win over the Brewers. The win capped another series victory (though there were fewer of them in September) with the Reds dropping Friday late, winning yesterday, after blowing a lead, and then, today, taking full advantage of a Brewers team that had given up a long time ago. The algorithms and protractors of the chief nerds at Prospectus predicted an 82-80 finish for the big red ballclub. That prediction was significantly more optimistic than other pre-season sources. So, much like the upcoming series, all the experts can roll their opinions up like a cigarette and smoke them.

Friday night we saw another fine performance by rookie wrong-hander Travis Wood. Since this is sort of a wrap up, I will even take the 30 seconds necessary to provide a couple of statistics for all of the eager visitors. Wood made 17 starts, won 5 and lost 4. For a guy whose velocity was severely lacking just two years ago, he showed a real ability to make major league hitter swing and miss once in a while, striking out 86 in 102 innings. He actually had one more strike out than hits allowed. He had very few bad outings, had several outstanding outings, like when he faced the Phillies and didn't allow a baserunner until the 8th. He likely has a spot reserved for him in next year's rotation.

On Friday, however, the bullpen tired of all of the praise afforded Wood. Ondrusek let the Brewers have the inherited runners and Sam LeCure was treated with his 5th loss of the season after facing one batter, walking him, and getting the loss. Tough break Sam, especially because that's likely the appearance you get to keep with you all offseason.

Saturday marked Homeboy Bailey's, likely, final start of the season. As happens more often than not, he threw a ton of pitches early, exited, and waited for an unreliable members of the bullpen (see Jordan Smith) to blow his lead. Smith took him up on the offer. However, that shouldn't take away from old Homeboy's performance. Sure he put a ton of runners on the basepaths but he also showed a nice ability to throw that leather ball past the wooden sticks of the stick wielders. He set a new career high with 10 k's over only 5 innings. Now, if he wasn't already at 120 pitches by that point in his outing, he would have had greater likelihood of controlling the whether he wins or loses. For the year, Homeboy made 19 starts totaling 109 innings. That's a little over 5 a start which is not great. However, that seems to be something that young power pitchers struggle with and, based upon my unsupported analysis, correctable. Compare Clayton Kershaw between this year and last. However, also look at Scott Kazmir who has never figured out how to overcome that problem. For the year, Homeboy struck out 100 over those 109 innings, trailing only Volquez (9.92) in k's per 9 at 8.26 for members of the starting rotation. He finished 4-3 with an ERA of 4.46.

Today we saw the final start of our giant friend Harang's Cincinnati Reds career. The start was a bummer, done in by a blister on one of his giant finger but at least they let him out of his cage to take a shot at evening up his record. As the Reds have many young arms and lack an extra $12 million to donate to his retirement, he's going to be wearing a new uniform next season. Bon voyage El Giganto. The Reds Rocket appreciates your refusal to conform to the rotational requirement of being terrible for years 2004-2007. 2008 and 2009 weren't great on the statistical sheet but I'm happy to make excuses for you. Injuries, for example and some questionable coaching decisions regarding the number of days you need in between appearances i.e. more than 2. In the end, Maloney appeared and got the win thanks to a Ray Jay Bruce bomb.

Series with the Phillies begins Wednesday with Volquez's weave taking the ball and the mound. Mr. Red Legs has an amusing story which involves a bottle of gin and the Phillie Phanatic's snout. He'll be happy to share it with everyone at the scheduled press conference tomorrow. I don't want to ruin things. The Reds have played the Phillies tough this season and we all know how much Brad Lidge loves handing over late inning victories to the opposition. Despite the Phillies' quality play of late, the Reds look forward to the shower of batteries that will be elicited from the crowd when the Reds go up 2-0 following Arroyo's start on Friday. The bats are ready, Ray Jay's been raking, Phillips' bat appears to be heading in the right direction and Rolen's aching bones have been resting for the last month or so. Everything is a go. Talk with you tomorrow. Reds! Reds! Reds!