Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Get the Reds Out

-So Rajon Rondo gets to give Brad Miller an eye rake as he goes for a layup and gets no suspension. Are you serious? And people wonder why no one cares about the NBA. It is fixed. Boston needs to advance because their bandwagon brings viewers and dollars. So Rondo gets to play after a blatant foul while Dwight Howard gets a suspension for an elbow. Too bad no one cares about the Magic. They need a bigger bandwagon in order to get him out of it.

-The NFL draft was this past weekend, one of the most overrated things ever. These players will not see a real play for 5 months and half will not contribute for 17 months yet it is poured down our throats for months. Sorry, don't care. Call me when any of them contribute during a real game.

-Speaking of the NFL, the Bengals are going to be on HBO's Hard Knocks. This is going to be awesome. Marvin with a clueless look on his face, Chad being an ass, and everyone else trying not to let the cameras catch them doing something illegal/getting arrested. How did it take this long?

-Nice to see someone parady the ridiculousness that is Judd Apatow. His movies are funny but, seriously, those guys would NEVER land those girls

-Finally, Greatest. Website. Ever.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rough, boring weekend

Well the Reds started losing some close games. Who saw that coming? Oh wait, I did. The Reds dropped a close one Friday and a close one Monday while splitting blowouts over the weekend. Now the Reds need to win at least one of the two remaining games against the Astros or they will fall below .500.

The game Saturday was great to attend but bad to be a Reds fan. Arroyo was crushed and the offense never got going except for A-Gon's flyball/homer. The wind was blowing out to left and that ball carried a good 25 extra feet. That was the difference between an out and a homer. Didn't matter in the end thanks to Chipper and the boys crushing the ball. Still, 85 and sunny was a great day at the ballpark. Also, beer prices have dropped which was a welcome sign. $5.00 for a small beer is better then most sporting venues. Beer and baseball, can't complain about that.

Not much else going on. The Kentucky Derby is coming up and I will have a pick for you later in the week. Maybe a Get the Reds out tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kind of confused

Who was that team in the Cincinnati uniforms this past week and a half? Couldn't be the Reds. They don't win on the road. They don't beat division opponents and they certainly don't win all 3 series on a road trip. At least not since 2004. I guess this is a different team, and hey, different is better then boring.

I am not getting too worked up over it though. They are still getting very lucky by winning close and losing big. These things tend to even out. But for now I am riding the wave. Atlanta comes to town and the Reds are expecting large crowds this weekend at Great American Small Park. I will be there Saturday to watch the Lowe-Arroyo pitchers duel. Ok mostly I will be there for the 80 degrees, but seeing some winning baseball won't be bad. I haven't been to a game when the Reds were over .500 this late in the year since 2006. Should be fun.

OK, a quick Reds heavy analysis so far thanks to the amazing This team is lucky. O wait, I already said that. They are 2 games above where they should be according to runs scored-runs allowed. Their .229/.317/.357 put them second to last in the NL in batting average, 3rd last in OBP, 2nd last in slugging, and second last in OPS. Those are dreadful offensive numbers. The other pitiful offensive teams, SF and ARI, have 6 wins each, which is where the Reds should be. You are probably asking why aren't they. Here is your answer: Joey Votto and Pitching.

-Votto has been amazing this season. I saw this coming two games into the year but now it has become apparent that he is for real. And not just in the "Hey the Reds have a player who doesn't suck" mode. He is turning into the left-handed Albert Pujols. Ok, not that good, but still. Through 15 games he has a .373/.431/.644 for a 169 OPS+. It is not quite Albert's .345/.459/.724 for a 202 OPS+ but Joey doesn't have the bloodlust of Albert either. Joey's 15 RBI's are 4th in the NL, behind Albert of course, but for a run-starved team like the Reds, it equates to 53. He has improved his D (where else could it go) and become somewhat of a leader in the clubhouse. 7 more years like this and he will be the left-handed Albert Pujols.

-The pitching has been great. A few starters have had some tough games(Volquez, Owings) but for the most part, the Reds pitchers have kept the team in the game. That is essential because they will not score many runs, so if a starter allows more then 2 runs, the game is probably over. Thank goodness most have kept the other hitters at bay for the first 5 or 6 innings then handed it over to the stellar bullpen. Burton and Lincoln had some bad innings but Weathers, Rhodes, and Cordero have been phenomenal. I feel confident when either of them come in from the bullpen. I can't remember the last time I felt confident when a Reds reliever entered. Ok, I did fell confident when Danny Graves came in but that confidence was in the fact that he would throw a batting practice fastball to lose the game. Slightly different with this group.

Overall, the pitchers have a 115 ERA+, which puts them 3rd in the NL. It is a little deceiving because their 1.432 WHIP puts them 10th, meaning they are allowing a lot of walks and hits but leaving them stranded. Those numbers usually even out and if they do, expect the ERA to go up. For know, we will call it good fortune and hope it continues. Seeing the Reds with good pitching is certainly a treat.

The Braves arrive sitting at 7-8, 2-7 in the last 9 after a great 5-1 start, and needing a strong weekend to catch up to the Florida Smoke and Mirrors. Yes, the Marlins are 11-4 but that is thanks to a 6-0 record against Washington and a 5-4 record against everyone else. I would hold off on the Marlin playoff tickets for now. Should be a fun weekend and hey, the Reds are guaranteed to be at or above .500 for all 3 games. Sounds good to me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Now its on to Chicago and let's win there," plus a food update

OK an RFK quote may not be the best. Especially when it was his last public statement before dying. Let's hope this isn't that last quote before the Reds season dies.

After winning the weekday series in Milwaukee 2-1, and a weekend series in Houston 3-1, the Reds stand at 7-5 and 5-2 on this 10 game road trip. Three games remain on the trip before the Reds return to Cincy for a weekend series with the Braves. Let's hope the luck continues.

Why do I call it luck? The Reds are 2 games above .500 despite being outscored by 10 runs. Teams that have a -10 run differential after 12 games should be 5-7. How have the Reds done it? Of the seven wins, only one has been by more then 2 runs. Of the five losses, three were by 6 or more runs. So either the Reds win close, or lose big. Usually those close games balance out and when they do, the Reds record will nosedive. Let's hope the bats wake up before that happens and a few blowouts can keep the Reds above .500. More in depth statistical analysis will come later in the week as guys gain more AB's but, suffice it to say, without Votto, this team would be Nationals-esque.

Food Update: OK, the chicken and hamburger helper have been put on the back burner this year but a new favorite has emerged. It is the slow cooker or crock pot. It is amazing. All you do is throw in a chuck roast, chicken breasts, or other large meat product, a few spices and seasoning, and some liquid for flavor and cook it on low all day. Come home 9 hours later, cook some rice and the meal is done. I suggest it for anyone who doesn't like to cook because it takes too much time. This takes 2 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes for the rice when you get home. Here are a couple quick recipes:

Chuck roast with a can of cream of mushroom soup.
Chicken breasts, barbeque sauce, and chili powder. Makes spicy BBQ chicken.
Pork tenderloin rubbed with any strong seasoning. and a little Teriyaki or soy sauce.

Rice-a-Roni always work with it.

Finish it off with a beer and a whole meal is done.

You're welcome.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boose Having A Great Spring

So we've learned only a few things in this early part of the baseball season:
1) The Reds will do their best to tread water around .500 for most of the first half of the season. This will lead us to some false hope and a dream that a late season move will put us over the edge. This late season move will not materialize and we will fade into bolivian at the end.
2) It is very hard to post on the Reds when you do not get the games on TV. I'll rectify this shortly so I can have some thoughts beyond "the box scores are interesting and I'm sure Dusty screwed something up"
3) I did watch opening day and the Harangatang (why hasn't that nickname taken off?) looked pretty good. The dynamite announcers at ESPN did have this gem of analysis. On the Reds profile, they had a section "Key Questions for 2009 Season" and their big question "Can someone set the table at the top of the lineup"... really that is all that separates the Reds from a playoff appearance "setting the table". I'm convinced they just reused last year's and didn't bother to up date it. I mean that analysis is terrible, but if we had Grif, Dunn and Bruce in the middle of the order then it makes sense. Now, who are they setting the table for and with Dusty around who believe setting the table with walks is a waste of time, what is the point?
4) The real story of the early part of the season is the way Boose has been able to Crank out posts. He is on quite a streak and we all hope he can keep it up. I'm here to provide some support and hopefully can pick up the pace, but nice to see FDB off to a good start this spring.
5) Will post something dedicated to the golden age of television later. Suffice to say, I need to delve into my thoughts on RR/RR Challenge, High School Reunion and The Cougar. All three deserve more space than I can dedicate at the moment, but stay alert.

I know this may not make me cool, but the joke from How I Met Your Mother last week just floored me. Not sure if you saw it, but they just gave you the set up and then you needed to look it up online. What is the difference between peanut butter and Jam?

Punch line is amazing. Well until next time, Go Reds!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Get the Reds Out

No Reds. Here are some off topic thoughts and link.

-The NBA season begins from most people as the playoffs start. I don't care about the regular season, mainly because the players and coaches don't, but the playoffs are exciting. The Cleveland LeBron's should win it. He is very good and the refs will give him every call. Seems pretty obvious.

-Golf goes into its lull now as the Masters is over and the U.S Open is still 2 months away. I don't understand why they do this. They have the Masters, which is always great, then take 9 weeks off before the next big tournament. Why? So people can forget about it. Tennis does this with the Australian Open then a 5 month break. Why wouldn't a sport want its marquee events spaced fairly close to each other, say 4-6 weeks apart? It would keep interest for a week or 2 after and a week or 2 before the next one so the lull doesn't seem as bad. Makes sense to me. I guess golf and tennis are satisfied with playing 9th fiddle for long stretches of the (now that there is no football) dull sports season.

-I am so glad I'm not associated with these people. God I hate Cubs fans.

-No more STEPHEN A SMITH! O wait, no one cares.

-A Red Sox fan gets it. I knew I wasn't alone.

-Seinfeld, the porno? I have a feeling someone will get a junior mint in an unwanted part of the body.

-And finally, Bruce Pearl rapping. What a tool.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reds go for sweep

Get out the brooms. The Reds are looking for the sweep of the Brewers and their 4th win in a row. Right now, the Reds sit at 4-3 and are above .500 for the first time since April 11, 2008. Most of that is due to their patience at the plate. The bats have done nothing, sitting second to last in the league with a .222 batting average, but the walks have boosted the team's OBP to .342, right in the middle of the league at 8th. I have been screaming for the past year that being patient, taking walks, and working pitch counts, would lead to wins. The Reds have done that and have won. Seems so simple. Maybe they should have listened to me earier.

Now if Dusty could just realize A-Gon is awful at the plate and needs more rest. Hairston should start in his place because he is great at the plate and will get hurt soon so we might as well use him while we can. Dickerson needs to play everyday, whether against a RH or LH. Give him a chance before making him platoon. He has earned it.

Let's hope for a sweep and continue it down in Houston against the 1-6 Astros this weekend. They have been terrible sitting at a -27 run differential, worst in the major league. These wins against Central opponents are essential.

Off day tomorrow so probably a Get the Reds Out here at FDB.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter all. Feel free to break out the Seersucker. I wonder if the Reds will wear something like this:

The Reds finish up against the Pirates this afternoon. Last night they got crushed and scored all of 2 runs. A struggling offense, who saw that coming? Let's hope they can pull out a win today to get to 2-3 before the first road trip of the season, 10 days to Milwaukee, Houston, and Chicago. These are three big series' against division opponents. Escaping two or three games above .500 is essential if they want to be contenders in the Central.

In the pregame for today's game, Dusty casually said that if his team were at .500 after 32 games, he would be happy. Excuse me? You play a ton of division opponents so a Reds win is twice as important as a win against the Mets. Division titles are won on the road within the division. I thought he was bringing a championship mentality and culture to Cincinnati. Hate to break it to you Dusty, but .500 teams don't win championships. You of all people should know it takes a few more wins then that having once coached a team that went 103-59 and didn't make the playoffs. What a joke. (Hat tip to Ben for catching that quote)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mets on verge of sweep

Well the first 2 games were interesting. Opening day went as I thought, good pitching, no offense and a 2-1 loss. The second game looked like the old Reds. Score a bunch of runs, give them back thanks to bad defense, then leave runs out there thanks to double plays and bad base running. I thought Dusty preached good base running and defense. That is why we got rid of our home-run, on base machine Adam Dunn. Sorry Dusty. It didn't work. We pissed away a good hitting day because of an error by Gonzalez, a non-error by Bruce that led to 2 extra runs, and a base running error. Not to mention some bad pitching by Mike Lincoln.

Let me breakdown the good and bad so far:

-Joey Votto's bat. He has been great and is hitting the ball very hard. 4-8 with a homer including a hit and a walk against Johan Santana, the best pitcher in the NL. He seems to have improved off his unbelieveable rookie year. I think the WBC really helped him. He got to hang out with Morneau and Bay for team Canada and learn about hitting. Also, playing in that playoff atmosphere has him ready to experiece that in the big leagues. Unfortuneatly. it will probably be for Toronto in a few years once the Reds trade him there.

-Brandon Phillips' patience. Don't look know because you may jinx it but BP has decided he doesn't have to swing at everything. He has walked 3 times in the first 2 games which is amazing for a player who has yet to walk 40 times in 162 games. Keep it up.

-Edwin Encanacion's patience. I can't comment on his bat seeing as how he is 0-5 but he has managed to keep it on his shoulder enough to draw 4 walks. Why the Mets have walked him when it is clear he is struggling to make solid contact is beyond me.

-Dusty Baker. You knew this one was coming. He put in Laynce Nix and Darnell McDonald before Wily Taveras when Wily was clearly healthy enough to play. He legged out a triple then scored on a sac fly. Doesn't sound like someone who is too sick to play. Letting those other 2 swing a bat when a capable, better player sits on the bench is inexcusable. Then again, so is allowing Carlos Beltran and his 118 career OPS+ to hit with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1st base open. WALK HIM and let your great D turn the double play. Instead, Beltran singled up the middle for 2 runs, the 2 runs the Mets needed to win the game. Well done Dusty.

-Reds pitching control. 7 walks opening day, 7 walks last night. Granted, the Mets are a patient team but walking nearly a batter an inning is terrible. I know Dusty thinks it clogs the bases so he probably encourages walks but it doesn't clog anything. Only when it brings up the pitcher or creates a double play does it make even a little bit of sense. The Reds pitchers need to find the strike zone and find it now or it could be a long season.

The Mets go for the sweep this afternoon which shouldn't be to hard thanks to an injury to the statue that is Jerry Hairston. His totally foreseeable injury forces Darnell McDonald into the lineup again. Darnell is a 30 year old journeyman outfielder with a grand total of 45 ab's in the majors. He is not good at baseball. Glad he could start 2 of the first 3 games for the Reds instead of someone like Gary Sheffield or Drew Stubbs. Gary has his fielding limitations but can still hit and Stubbs has never been in the big leagues bit has shown promise and deserves a shot. Either one would be an improvement over McDonald and both cost the same amount of money. I guess Dusty felt that after trading journeyman Jeff Keppinger he needed McDonald to fill the "trys hard but can't really play baseball" void. Too bad David Eckstien wasn't available.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


OK, here are my sure-fire, can't miss predictions for the season.

AL East
-New York 96-66
-Boston 92-70
-Tampa Bay 83-79
-Toronto 78-84
-Baltimore 70-92

The Yankees have the best team and can weather the injuries because they have the money. A-Rod will be back and give the team a boost through the summer and the pitching will round into form. Boston will be good again and will save its energy for the playoffs once they realize they won't win the division. Tampa will come back to earth and the Blue Jays will have a fire sale at the trading deadline when they are out of the race. Baltimore is bad and will continue to be for a while.

AL Central
-Chicago 87-75
-Cleveland 85-77
-Minnesota 83-79
-Kansas City 76-86
-Detroit 70-92

These teams are very close but I think the White Sox will pull it out. Ozzie is insane but seems to win and get the best out of his pitching. Cleveland has too many guys that need to bounce back when all signs point to regression. Minnesota would have been my pick if not for their best player Joe Mauer being injured and having no timetable for a return. The Royals are the Royals and the Tigers have no spark and seem to be going through the motions until they sell off the team.

AL West
-Anaheim 90-72
-Texas 84-78
-Oakland 72-90
-Seattle 68-94

The Angels are still the best team. They have great pitching and can feed off the rest of the division. Texas has improved hitting but their pitching is abysmal and will continue to hurt them. Oakland and Seattle would be decent if this were Triple A. In the major leagues, they are bad.

NL East
-New York 93-69
-Atlanta 88-74
-Philadelphia 82-80
-Florida 76-86
-Washington 67-95

The Mets are the best team in the lesser league. The pitching is good but the offense is excellent. Reyes, Wright, and Beltran are three of the best players in the NL and will carry them to the playoffs. No collapse this year because their lead will be too great. Atlanta should bounce back after a tough luck season last year. Philly will fall back to earth because they aren't as good as they were last October. Florida and Washington are nice farm teams for the big boys and will trade away their best players when they realize their teams are hemorrhaging money.

NL Central
-St. Louis 91-71
-Chicago 89-73
-Cincinnati 84-78
-Milwaukee 81-81
-Houston 75-87
-Pittsburgh 68-94

I still don't trust the Cubs. Everything went right last year for them from Dumpster's career year to Edmonds curious resurgence. The Cardinals, on the other hand, had everything go against them last year and still managed to be near .500. This year, they get more then 6 innings from the former Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter and win the division while the Cubs will eek out the Wild Card. The Reds will be better simply because the rest of the division isn't as good and the young players are a year older. The Brewers don't have CC and Sheets which will put them back to mediocre. Houston and Pittsburgh are terrible with no hope in sight.

NL West
-Los Angeles 89-73
-Arizona 85-77
-Colorado 81-81
-San Francisco 79-83
-San Diego 68-94

The Dodgers are the easy favorite but I think it will be closer then some think. Manny will not hit like Ted Williams and the rest of the division is catching up. I think Arizona makes another run at them while Colorado and San Fran will be frisky. San Diego is awful and will hit rock bottom once they trade Jake Peavy and anyone else they can unload this summer.

-New York beats Chicago
-Boston beats Anaheim

The two best teams should play in the Championship Series. Boston and New York are the two best teams money can buy.

-New York beats Chicago
-Los Angeles beats St. Louis

I like what L.A did last year in dismantling the Cubs in the playoffs and I think the Mets rotation is too strong in a short series.

-Boston beats New York

The Sox have the playoff experience and can match New York in every other area. Boston gets bored during the season which is why the Yankees will win the division, but the Sox will turn it on in the playoffs and win the pennant.

-New York beats Los Angeles

The better pitching should win out and no one is better then Santana. New York's offense is not one dimentional like L.A.'s and will power them to the World Series.

World Series
-Boston beats New York

Hey why not? If I pick the Sox and they win, I look smart. If I pick them and they don't win, I am happy. Sounds like a win-win.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Opening Day is here

Finally, baseball is back.

The Reds begin the season today as they host the New York Mets and Johan Santana. Should be a good game. Nothing says baseball like 40 degrees and snow showers. Just what you need to shake off the rust from 5 months off.

The roster was set yesterday with Micah Owings winning the battle for the #5 starter and Homer Bailey being sent down to AAA. Tough break for the kid but Micah has more experience and it was encouraging that both pitched well. Giving Homer a bit of a break to keep his innings down is not a bad thing either.

In the field, Laynce Nix and Darnell McDonald made the team, both a bit of surprise. Johnny Gomes played excellent but was optioned to AAA, meaning he could become a free agent or go down to Louisville. McDonald made the team because he can play CF and with Willy Taveras sick, it was more out of necessity. Paul Janish is the backup SS, mainly due to his very good glove and not his 36 OPS+ bat.

Here is the opening day lineup, with McDonald in there because of Willy's sickness:

Hariston, LF
McDonald, CF
Votto, 1B
Phillips, 2B
Bruce, RF
Encarnacion, 3B
Hernandez, C
Gonzalez, SS
Harang, P

I think the Reds will lose this game because, well, they are facing Johan and their offense is pretty bad. I am interested to see how the defense is because that was one of the main areas of so-called improvement this offseason.

I will post later today with my predictions for the divisions and playoffs.

Here's to another great season. Go Reds! Fire Dusty!