Friday, December 19, 2008

Bowl Season is Here

Well the two weeks off have been brutal but the magical bowl season is here. Four games tomorrow and one more Sunday. Let's break them down.

EAGLE BANK BOWL, Wake Forest vs. Navy, Sat. 11 am

This game was created so Navy could play in it. It is brand new and Navy was invited 2 months ago. Too bad they won't win. Jim Grobe is a great coach and will make the adjustments he did not make when they were beat 24-17 back on 9/27. The Navy offense will not surprise the defense and Wake will pull it out 20-10.

NEW MEXICO BOWL, Colorado State vs. Fresno State, Sat. 2:30 pm

I am going with Fresno and it has nothing to do with how either team has played this year. It is purely because Fresno was involved in one of my 5 favorite college football games of the past 5 years when they took Bush and Leinert to the end in 2005. That game was back and forth, up and down, and didn't begin until 11 pm meaning i was drinking all night watching a great football game. I've had a soft spot for them ever since so I am taking them here 35-28.

ST. PETERSBURG BOWL, Memphis vs. South Florida, Sat. 4:30 pm

This game is being played in the Trop. Yeah, the Devil Rays field. It is also just across the bridge from USF. Memphis is a bad C-USA team that is just happy to be in a bowl. Hell, Memphis lost at home to Louisville. That should be enough to take the Bulls 31-13. South Florida has a few players that may be drafted and they will need to put on a show here. They will. Always take the more talented team with potential draft picks in these lesser games because they know they need to show they can play in order to be drafted.

LAS VEGAS BOWL, BYU vs. Arizona, Sat. 8 pm

Well, the BYU seniors know the drill by now. They have never been anywhere else. This is BYU's 4th straight Las Vegas Bowl appearance. They have won the last two after being beaten by Cal in 2005. They will win again this year. Arizona hasn't been to a bowl in a decade and they finished 5-4 in the terrible PAC-10. Also, the Arizona players will be living it up in Vegas while the Mormons are preparing and getting extra sleep. Won't even be close.

NEW ORLEANS BOWL, Southern Miss vs. Troy, Sun. 8:15

C-USA-Sun Belt showdown in the Crescent city. Great times. Both teams are pretty bad but Troy won their conference while Southern Miss went 4-4 in the powerful C-USA. I think Troy wins a close one 27-24.

More breakdowns and thoughts next week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


OK, stop laughing. Seriously, stop it. I am going to make a case for signing him. It isn't that difficult.

First, Manny has played in a small market and loved it. When in Cleveland, he enjoyed being away form the spotlight. The constant attention in Boston was something he never got used to and eventually got to him. In LA, he thrived because of the laid back atmosphere. The Cincinnati media would love him and he would be allowed to do his goofy things without scorn. The team would love it, the fans would love it, and the media would love it. He fills our exact need would be a hero here.

Second, he would be energized playing with all the young Latins on the team. Manny and David Ortiz were best friends in Boston. This came out of both of them being Dominican. The Reds have great young Dominicans in Encarnacion, Volquez and Cueto as well as an old veteran in Cordero. Being around these young guys would get him excited and when Manny is happy, he is one of the best players in the league. Of course, when not happy he is still in the top 10.

Third, we can afford him. According to John Fay's math here, the Reds will probably spend $16 million more this year. Giving Manny $22 million per year for 4 years would be enough to get him here. That is only a $6 million increase over what they planned on spending. That $6 million would easily be made up in season ticket sales and merchandise sales very quickly. This would sure up LF meaning we give Hariston the few million we were going to give him anyway to play center and call it a day.

Fourth, it would show the league the Reds are serious about winning. Free agents would see this as a step to win games now and want to come here. It would change the perception from a continual loser to an up and comer who isn't afraid to take a risk if it helps the team. Much like the Brewers did last year and were rewarded with a playoff trip.

Here would be the lineup with the Manny and Hairston signing:

CF Hairston
2B Phillips
1B Votto
LF Ramirez
RF Bruce
3B Encanacion
SS Gonzalez (or Keppinger)
C Hernandez
P (Harang, Volquez, Cueto, Arroyo, and Bailey/Owings/Thompson)

That is a team that can compete from top to bottom. It has a strong lineup with tons of power 2-6. Our pitching consists of 2 very good and 2 above average starters with a young pitcher with great upside in the 5 hole. The bullpen is nearly the same as the one who finished with a 3.81 ERA.

Manny is just sitting at home right now. Bob claims he wants to build a winner. Here is the chance. Pick up the phone and get Manny here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Actual Reds News

John Fay is reporting a trade between the Reds and Orioles in which the Reds would send Ryan Freel and a mid-level prospect to Baltimore for the Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez and some cash to cover the difference in salaries. I like this trade. Here is the breakdown of the two players:

Freel: 32 years old. 2009 stats of .298/.340/.359, OPS+ of 82. 0 HR's 10 RBI's in 48 games and 131 AB's. Played in 99+ games in 3 of his 6 pro seasons. Coming off surgery.

Hernandez: 32 years old. 2009 stats of .257/.308/.406, OPS+ of 86. 15 HR's and 65 RBI's in 133 games and 463 AB's. Played 99+ games in all 10 pro seasons.

I like this trade for a number of reasons. First and foremost, we are trading an oft-injured, utility player whose main asset is his speed and toughness. This speed and toughness is only in reputation because he is on the wrong side of 30 and has had significant injuries two years in a row. His grit and toughness don't show up on the field because he is always hurt. Besides, the Reds already have a super utility guy in Jeff Keppinger who can play all infield and corner outfield positions and doesn't get paid 4 million dollars. Freel was not useful on the Reds roster and the fact that anyone wants him amazes me.

Ramon Hernandez is not exactly Mike Piazza, but he is a serviceable catcher. He has spent the past 3 years in the AL East, the toughest division in baseball, yet still managed to put up 3 years of 111, 88, and 86 OPS+. A move to the National League and Great American Ballpark can only help those numbers. He could turn into a 20 HR guy and an OPS+ of around 100. What an upgrade that would be. He is also from Venezuela which can only help the communication between him and our pitching staff(Volquez, Cueto, Cordero). If he can help bring along Ryan Hanigan and hold down the catcher spot until Devin Meseraco, our first round pick in 2007, can make it to the big leagues, that would be a huge plus.

Worst case he serves as a back-up to Hanigan for the same price as Freel would have made while on the DL or serving as a light-hitting pinch hitter. Best case he catches for a few years and helps develop Cueto and Volquez until a younger catcher takes over and Hernandez backs him up. We all know he will be better than last years catcher, "The Human Out" Paul Bako.

This deal seems to sure up the catching spot meaning the only real focus is for a right-handed hitting outfielder who plays wither LF or CF. This will most likely be done via a trade of Homer Bailey. The rumored deal of Bailey for Jermaine Dye is apparently dead. I guess that means a trade for Carlos Beltran or signing Manny Ramirez. O wait, only 5 teams have a chance at Ramirez, the same 5 teams that had a chance at Beltran. Glad their is an even playing field out there.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How about that BCS

Everything is working out. The BCS is imploding and has now pissed off a pretty important school, Texas. If Oklahoma loses, all hell would break loose when Texas, a conference division loser, gets picked over Penn State and USC, both conference winners. There is also a chance that, even if Florida beats Alabama, the computers have the Gators so low, OK and Tex could be 1-2. Wouldn't that be fun. An 8 team playoff would fix all this. If it were seeded strictly based on BCS standing with the higher seed having a home game (which would easily sell out in about 5 minutes) it would look like this:

Penn State at Alabama,
Texas Tech at Oklahoma,
Utah at Texas, and
USC at Florida.

Wow. Only one game TT-OK looks bad because they played 2 weeks ago and it wasn't pretty. But Penn State-Alabama and USC-Florida would be huge and Utah going to Austin would be intriguing. Instead we get USC-UCLA, OK-Mizzu, and BC-VT this weekend. Alabama-Florida is the only intriguing game. One big game rather than 3. College football could be so much better than it already is and the BCS is holding it down. There is no reason for it anymore. None. Protecting the regular season got thrown out when Oklahoma jumps Texas even though Texas won the regular season game. The season is not a playoff because in a playoff, when you beat someone, they are eliminated. They don't vault ahead of you. I hope Florida wins and UT-OK finish first and second. That would piss off the entire SEC as well as the Pac-10 champ USC. Would be fun to watch the BCS squirm to cover that up. It would be the most ridiculous championship game since LSU "won" the title over #1 USC in 2003.