Thursday, March 31, 2011

Well, That Was Exciting, Reds 7-6

The medium reddish fantabulous fabtraption sputtered briefly before finally getting going in the 9th inning in the opener today. Phillips lined a single off the wall, Votto walked, Rolen reached on a fielder's choice when McGehee (which has way too many letters) attempted to tag Phillips, who may or may not have run out of the basepath, and missed. Bruce k'd (at least he picked up two singles earlier in the game) for our 1. Gomes hit the ball well but was only resulted a lone RBI when Gomez tracked it down. Then Razor Ramon, the solid first string catcher about which I have said nothing negative, ever, hit John Axford's 0-1 pitch out of the yard to right. That was, for those of you who didn't bother to look at the box score, was his 4th hit of the game, his third to right. Pretty exciting. Additionally, sell out crowd? That's also pretty exciting. Maybe they'll be able to buy another Corey Patterson-type player with this income boon.

The late inning walk off covered up a few problems existing earlier in the game, namely, the starting pitcher with the longish weave. The Brewers needed all of 6 pitches to go up 2-0 on back-to-back homers by Weeks and Gomez to start the year. He mostly cooled out as the game went on, exiting after 6 after giving up 5. He generated some swings and misses but appeared more hittable than viewers may recall in the past. At least more hittable than I recall. But, since we can count on 7 runs every game from the offense, not a big deal. The pen wasn't bad. Jordan Smith gave up a run but that was helped along by a Gomes error and a balk, which I suppose goes back to the pitcher. Bray, LeCure and Ondrusek pitched well enough.

All in all, quite a pleasing opening. Reds on pace to win the 162 predicted by most media outlets. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reds Have Had Enough Cacti, Ready to Dominate Central

The Reds, or more accurately the staff of non-athletes, packed up the mid-level tequila from the day trip down to the non-beheading part of Mexico and the rest of the locker contents, loaded it onto a big, red truck shaped like Dusty Baker's head and traveled north east to meet up with the Brewers tomorrow. Spring welcomed new friends like Edgar Rentaria and saw the exile of others like the D-Train and Jeremy Hermida. The D-Train's banishment was due mainly to an inability to get anyone out over his last several outings. Hermida has an option to take his show on the road but I'm pretty sure he'll want to stick around Louisville for a while. Really no surprises out of camp, at least from my perspective.

Razor Ramon Hernandez and Hanigan open the year with the catching detail. Hanigan is now making over $1 million per season. Pretty sweet for a back-up, no power kneeler. His ability to get on base, make legitimately good contact and play solid defense makes this a solid investment. Ramon will undoubtedly spend his final season in Cincinnati living up to the heightened expectations from last year. Mesoraco had a nice camp and will get a chance should someone get hurt or next year. As long as he doesn't go on a year-long milkshake diet, like his first 3 years in the organization, things should work out quite well.

With the exception of Rentaria, this is the same squad we saw roll into Cincinnati last season. With big time off-season acquisition Fred Lewis hitting the DL, Francisco gets to hang around for a while and, apparently, back up the outfielders in addition to playing some 3rd when Rolen's arthritis is acting up. Janish Yanish gets the "starting" shortstop position with the understanding that he may not actually be the starting shortstop. Rentaria was brought in so that Rolen wouldn't feel quite so old and to take a fair amount of time from Janish. Phillips and Votto both had nice springs, though Phillips waited all spring to hit a bomb on the second to last day, and, assuming an absence of injury and mental breakdown, will key both the defense and offense, respectively. It should be noted that Phillips is in his contract year, so he has many purple Audis to play for. Speaking of middle age, I almost forgot Miguel Cairo who was re-upped this offseason for two more years of playing mulitple positions. Maybe Rolen's not so old after all.

Same gang as last year: Stubbs, Bruce and Gomes will be getting the majority of the starts. Gomes had a tough spring, though of his 10 hits, 9 were for extra bases. That's a nice percentage. And, for those of you who have not seen his haircut in person, you're in for a treat. It looks slightly worse than what you would expect your neighborhood bike-riding methhead to be wearing. I know, you ride that bike for exercise. Stubbs, based on the fact that he's the team's center fielder is likely the opening day lead-off hitter even though he struggled in that role for the majority of last season and again this spring. Just 24 strike outs in 58 at bats? Not too bad. Bruce has his pile of money, hopefully he still has some motivation to try. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. $50 million is an end goal, not the means to an ends. Heisey had a nice spring (.346/.404/.731) and will get to back up all three positions. I will be very surprised if Francisco actually gets any time out there but he may. Fred Lewis will be back in a while and should be able to offer some assistance both afield and pinch hitting.

 Starting pitching
Again, very familiar faces here, even with the current injury status of Cueto and Bailey. Volquez and his fashion weave start things off. He got a late start because his agent didn't ensure that he was legally permitted to work in the country and has had some typical outings this pre-season where he has no idea where the ball is heading. That's to be expected. He got a little money this off-season but there are some dolla-dollas on the table if he can get people out on a regular basis. As stated, Cueto has a barking forearm and Bailey, despite his arguments otherwise, some shoulder tightness. That being so, they get to start the season on team-induced break. Arroyo, and his A-grade salad, mans the two spot, followed by Travis Wood, Leake and Sam LeCure in the 5 hole. LeCure's spot is not going to be needed for a while, but he gets to hang around with the big club and enjoy the far superior per diem. Wood and Leake will be counted on to not be terrible and I think they can live up to that potential.

I should just paste the opening sentence of the prior four sections here, the make-up of the pen, like everywhere else is still very much the same. Arty Rhodes is gone, Jocketty just thought 41 was too old to not develop foot problems, even though everyone liked him and he went to the All Star Game last year. That may be a wise business decision, if you agree to overlook the Cairo acquisition. Miguel, we kid, though you know you're not worth $2 million annually. Everyone else looks, and likely feels, very similar. Cordero will make everyone nervous. Chapman and Masset will handle the late innings. Chapman stealing all the headlines, which is okay. Masset is a drone, working for the good of the hive. He doesn't need all the accolades lauded upon the Cuban variety. Actually, the Reds Rocket, like everyone else is interested to see how Chapman throws this year. I saw a couple outings this spring where he was nowhere near the plate. I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with 105 coming somewhere near the plate. But I'm not real comfortable with 75 coming at me. Gives me nose bleeds. Rounding out the group is Ondrusek, Bray and Jordan Smith. Matt Baloney and his new beard also get to stay with the big club and operate as long man. Burton and Arredondo start the season on the DL. Arredondo seems to have forgotten the major objective of pitching while he was on extended arm-repair sabbatical.

That is close to a pre-season wrap up. I am certain I left something out but the anticipation of the new season is just too much for the Reds Rocket to function properly. The Reds plan on taking everyone in the Central to the bank - the blood bank. Hooray! Gallardo won't know what hit him tomorrow.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reds Rocket Lazy Spring Update

The Reds Rocket, overwhelmed by a modest amount of work, has been unable to make it out to see the Redlegs for the last week, so, you get an update with nothing more than you could get visiting the Reds team site. Sure, you could go there yourself, but who has time for that. I did go to the trouble of uploading a picture of Goodyear Stadium, complete with rhinoceros horn decoration out front. The rhinoceros, based on the size of the horn, was approximately 6 stories high and made out of horse hide.  It was certainly an impressive beast.

So now prior to diving into my recap that you likely will gloss over, as the Reds Rocket is nothing if not a money making machine, might I recommend you travel over and check out the Baseball odds at BetUS . The Reds Rocket predicts a Reds final win tally somewhere in the range of 150-162 wins. That is based on the very scientific calculations, which are proprietary. The fine people at BetUS would be happy to help you invest your money in a dominating Reds season.

Through 12 games, the Reds sit at a solid 8 wins (that don't mean anything) against 4 losses (which mean equally little). Today, the team swung with anger against the Most Powerful Man in the World, Aaron Harang. His ability to gather up all of the world's nuclear weapons and hurl them into outer space was of little use when he struggles with location and leaves too many pitches over the plate. Especially when not pitching in Petco Park. Hanigan, clearly harboring some resentment towards Harang since Harang told teammates about his anxiety disorder, took him deep in the second. As pitchers throughout the league will soon understand, you can't make mistakes with Ryan Hanigan or you'll get hurt - bad. Or, maybe Hanigan's production has to do with the hot spring of Devin Mesoraco who's hitting everything, against the oppositions' j/v team anyway. Punxsutawney Phil's recognized offspring seems to have thought things over since his tough Arizona Fall League season. Maybe lifted a few more weights. He's on the Charles Atlas program, which utilizes dynamic tension. I suppose regardless of what Mesoraco accomplishes, AAA is both necessary and inevitable. Now that Ramon Hernandez is a US citizen, they're going to have to treat him with a little more respect. Especially in light of the production he and Hanigan exhibited last season.

From the outfield, Jonny Gomes seems to have read the new Baseball Prospectus and agreed that he should get significantly fewer at bats this year. For the spring he's hitting at a .067 clip. At least the 1 hit out of the 15 at bats went over the fence. He does only have 1 strike out, which is a modest accomplishment. 0 walks kind of counteracts the low strike out percentage, however. But only Dusty knows what he's actually looking for out in left. Hermida has shown the best of the Gomes/Lewis/Hermida outfield competition, though, like Mesoraco, he's seeing a lot of time against the B squad. And, at least the games I've attended, looks a little lost in left. I thought his glove still worked even after his bat faltered in Florida, Boston and Oakland. Turning again to Baseball Prospectus, they quote a scout that says he, Hermida, "simply does nothing well anymore." That's a nice quote. Back to Gomes, Phillips and Votto have also struggled in these games that don't matter and they at least should hit. Votto especially. So, maybe Jonny and his haircut have fancy plans with pants to match for the season.

Turning quickly to the pen, Bray, Masset and Arredondo have ERA over 10.00. Masset, as I'm sure everyone recalls, started the season very slow last year. Hopefully that is not going to be the standard. Bray's performance has been substastic, 7 runs, with 2 bombs allowed in a shade over 3 innings. But the report on the website quotes him stating how good he feels. Hopefully he starts feeling a little worse and can start recording a few out. Arredondo seemed like a nice enough acquisition and hasn't had a ton of work. The Reds Rocket still thinks he may be alright. The D-Train, on the other hand, who been in the news recently, has pitched 5 innings, allowing just 2 hits and struck out 6 out of the pen. That doesn't look like the line of someone whose brain no longer processes the strike zone. With Chapman's spot reserved, he looks as if he may be interested in that second left-handed reliever role. Jared Burton, sans neckbeard (which does not come up as a typo, at least in Firefox), has also pitched well with nothing allowed and 5 ks over 6 innings. Maybe that cutter is cutting again. And how about Sam LeCure, now pitching out of the stretch, 6 innings, no runs and 8 k's. That sounds like a low-leverage relief roster spot if I ever heard or saw one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reds Only Need Half Team to Beat A's in Game that Doesn't Matter

The Reds Rocket was fortunate enough to be able to disappear from work for a couple hours yesterday without anyone noticing, or caring, and take in some of the A's/Reds game. The squad was split, half heading down to Tempe's Devil Stadium to lose to the Angels. Of note, in addition to the two bombs (Gomes and Alonso), was an umpire getting lit up by a Valaika line-drive up the middle and of course a possible appearance by everyone's favorite former Red, Joe Morgan. Of course it could have been another 60-ish black guy with a mustache looking like he would probably be a big dick if you approached him to tell him that you were sorely disappointed to see that he was replaced on ESPN as his commentary was always so insightful. I'm pretty sure it was old number 8. And he was sitting next to Jocketty, or possibly some other old white guy eating ice cream that looked just like the GM. You just can't be too sure about these things, especially if you're only going to stare at them from a safe distance of about 50 feet. It could have been Anthony Hopkins and Carl Weathers. The Reds Rocket is notable for only employing those with strong eye sight. Next time I'll bring the photojournalism crew.

Back to the game, Leake started and looked hittable. He only gave up the one run but the A's offense is super brutal. I'm sure he was working on a thing or two, so it doesn't matter. He'll be ready for that inevitable long-reliever role at the end of spring training. The offense looked good, especially once Gio Gonzalez left the game and Brett Anderson entered. Nice to see Alonso show a little power, especially off a same handed pitcher. Gomes homer was a shot. Looked like it was heading into the mountains. Speaking of brutal, Gomes' haircut makes him look homeless. In a good way. It's brutally good, like the A's offense. That's all that I can remember for now. It's an exhibition after all, you're not supposed to pay very close attention. Oh, and Jordan Smith looked winded after running about half a sprint. I think that's the kind of shape a big-league reliever is supposed to be in. Just ask Dave Weathers.

I'll tell Joe and Walt that everyone says hello and talk with you again soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reds' Spring Opener

The Reds Rocket made the trip out to Goodyear, Arizona on Sunday for the Reds' spring opener versus the Tribe. Goodyear is best known for a prison, within view of the freeway, from which inmates periodically escape and run across the highway and, of course, the Snyder's of Hanover pretzel factory. Samples and products available for purchase in the main lobby. The prison now houses a death row facility for the state's women who murder. You're welcome to stop by but don't forget the tape, for making shivs, and the crank inside your shoe. Oh, and also this from our friends at Wikipedia  - Goodyear was established in 1917 with the purchase of 16,000 acres of land by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to cultivate cotton for vehicle tire threads. So, there you go. All you ever need to know about Goodyear.

The picture to the above-right, of course, is a skydiver with a Reds flag attached to his foot. He was mauled by the Indian's mascot, which surprisingly, is not a politically incorrect caricature of an american indian but a big pink monster named Slider. Goodyear also provides a mascot named Zizzy. Zizzy looks like a baseball-coated shlong wearing a visor. He also attacked the skydivers but did appear to be very popular with the kids.

Volquez and his precision weave was supposed to make the start Sunday, but had some undefined visa issues. May have, and the Reds Rocket is speculating here, something to do with the previous positive drug test but the Reds were fairly tight-lipped. So, Baloney's Beard made the start and threw pretty well. I realize this is early in the spring and it takes a while for the bats to warm up and, since it's the Indians, the bats will probably never warm up, but he really didn't look terrible pumping that 88 mph gas.

The Reds Rocket's photojournalism team also attended and is happy to provide you with the following images:

Mike Leake was nice enough to be required to sit at a table, pregame, and sign a few autographs. The line we probably 5 people long, so, lots of Mike Leake fans in his home state. I told him, from afar, that I love his heart.

Here's the pregame shot of the teams lining up. You can see Zizzy on the end of the Reds' line.

For those of you hungry for an action photo of Corky Miller taking some swings, the wait is finally over. His mustache remains at the big league level.

And of course a pre-game shot of the field. If you look closely you can see Miguel Cairo exchanging pleasantries with the opposition. Since he's played on every team in the majors, he likely knows a lot of people. Good for you Miguel.

Since everyone has seen Votto ground out to first and Stubbs camp under a fly ball in center, I decided not to bore you with those photos. The Reds Rocket is considering a trip to see the Reds and A's today. So, there is a possibility of more photos of mascots and food that no one cares about. Stay tuned.