Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Derby Week

I have been getting ready for the greatest 2 minutes in sports coming up Saturday and recovering from Newman's Day last Saturday. I finished at 11:45 and passed out at 12:15. So worth it.

Not much going on except the Reds are hovering around .500 as they head out to St. Louis this weekend. If they can avoid a sweep I will give you some more Reds talk next week. Should have a Derby breakdown tomorrow from a guest writer. Get excited.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Random Thoughts

The Reds actually won a series. Do it again against the Padres and I will start getting excited again. Now onto other topics

-The NHL playoffs started. I can only find a few games so I haven't seen much but I finally have a rooting interest. I like Buffalo thanks to American hero Ryan Miller, the goalie from the silver medal team. Go Sabers. I also have a villain and it is the man who beat the US, Sidney Crosby. I hate him and the Penguins. Other then those 2, I will watch whoever is on HD. I cannot watch hockey without it. Hockey and Soccer are both amazing in HD. They are totally different.

-I will watch the NBA playoffs after this round. It is ridiculous that more then half the league makes the playoffs. What is the point of the regular season when just being average is good enough. Once it gets to 8, only the good teams are left. I wait until then.

-I didn't watch one minute of the NFL draft last night and couldn't have been happier. Very few of the players will have an impact next year and none will be heard from for 4 months. Wake me when they put on a jersey

-Tomorrow is Newman's Day. I participated back in college and went 2 for 3. It is a lot of fun and a good excuse to drink heavily and not give away beer. Sorry, I need all 24, can't spare one. Speaking of college....

-Yeah I was a KA. I have no comment on this story.

Enjoy the weekend and let's hope the Reds can take the series from the Padres and get back to .500

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Laptop

I missed last week after there was a laptop crash. Well I am back with a brand new computer and I must say, they sure have improved in the 3 years it has been since I last bought one. This one has HD capabilities and is ridiculously fast with more memory then I would ever need. I thought about getting an Apple but I didn't want to join a cult. If i wanted to join a cult, I would be a UK fan and live my life through Matt Jones and his fanblog. Boo cults. Yeah freedom. America.

You know what hasn't improved in that time, the Reds. A lost weekend in Pittsburgh really hurt an already struggling team. The Dusty Baker farewell continues this week with a visit from the Dodgers and Padres. I am hoping for .500, but not expecting it.

Will have more Friday once I get more acquainted with my new computer.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Red Recap, weekend wedding

So the Reds lost 2 of 3 to the Cards. Sounds about right. Carpenter and Wainwright are really good and they do have the best player on the planet. The Cubs come to town after losing 2 of 3 to the Braves. A win in this series would be nice and keep the Reds from digging too deep a hole against division opponents.

I am headed to Chattanooga for a wedding this weekend. The wife is a bridesmaid which means we get to go to all the activities and I get to drink as much as I want without any responsibilities. I even brought the seersucker since it is a week after Easter and always a big hit. As for the wedding gambling, I already took the 6-5 bet that the bride will cry during the vows and the 5-1 bet that a bridesmaid hooks up with a groomsman. Not sure on any other bets as I haven't nailed down the menu or guest list. I am betting on Prime Rib but it may turn out to be chicken and the age range may throw off the 3-1 of a guest puking outside the bathroom. It is a Catholic service so I set the over/under for bride in-bride out at 56 minutes. It will come down to the songs and the babbling priest. Could be close. Either way I get a bunch of free food, free booze, and, o yeah, seeing a few good friends get married. Almost forgot about that. This wedding could be interesting because the groom and his family own a few McDonalds franchises. I expect some burgers and nuggets for the late night drunks at the end of the reception. Maybe even a happy meal or 2.

Have a good weekend and Congrats to the happy couple Leslie and Brad. Look forward to the weekend celebration.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Last season I did pretty well, hitting the Cardinals exactly and picking the Yankees to win the division after missing the playoffs in 08. I also hit both West divisions and got a few records very close. Pay no attention to my playoff picks. They were dreadful.

When picking who will win it all, there is one key question to ask. Will Florida win it? I don't think so. The reason that is important is because if Florida won't win, then you can eliminate the other 14 teams in the bottom half of payroll. Why? Because in the last 17 years, no team other then Florida has won the World Series with a payroll in the bottom half. Only Florida. That is it. So unless they are going to win, you can eliminate half the teams. Sorry Colorado, Cincinnati, etc. You have no chance. Sure some may make the playoffs but the point is to win and none other then the Marlins has. The economics of baseball are terrible but I still watch. I am starting to wonder why.

Ok, off the soapbox. Here are the picks.

NL East
Atlanta Braves 90-72
Philadelphia Phillies 88-74
New York Mets 80-82
Florida Marlins 74-88
Washington Nationals 68-94

The Braves and Phillies should battle all summer but I like the Braves. The Phillies will slow down when they guarantee a playoff spot while the Braves will go all out for the division. The Mets will be better but there are still too many injuries. The Marlins and Nationals will be frisky but still well below .500

NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals 98-64
Cincinnati Reds 84-78
Milwaukee Brewers 82-80
Chicago Cubs 79-83
Houston Astros 73-89
Pittsburgh Pirates 67-94

The Cards will steamroll everyone. I picked them last year when the Cubs were the consensus. Now they have Holiday, Pujols and two great pitchers. In this division that is plenty. The Reds will be better but miss the playoffs, necessitating a change in manager while maintaining some optimism for next season. The Brewers and Cubs seem like they will hover around .500 most of the season and the Astros and Pirates are terrible.

NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers 89-73
Colorado Rockies 87-75
Arizona Diamondbacks 85-77
San Francisco Giants 80-82
San Diego Padres 72-90

I expect a great race that goes down to the final weekend. In the end, the Dodgers have better players. I think the Rockies take a step back after the great run last year. The Diamondbacks have the talent and can contend if they stay healthy. The Giants are constantly looking for hitting and never finding it while the Padres are bad but not terrible.

AL East
New York Yankees 93-69
Boston Red Sox 88-74
Tampa Bay Rays 84-78
Baltimore Orioles 74-88
Toronto Blue Jays 66-96

The Yanks and Red Sox continue to exploit the system and win. Awesome. The Rays will be good but an injury will lead to a 3rd place finish since they can't buy their way out of mistakes. The Orioles continue the Reds gameplan of a decade of rebuilding and the Jays got rid of their only good player in Holiday.

AL Central
Minnesota Twins 89-73
Detroit Tigers 86-75
Chicago White Sox 83-79
Cleveland Indians 78-84
Kansas City Royals 69-93

Minnesota has the best hitter in Mauer and the Tigers have the best pitcher in Verlander. Should be a fun ride to see who wins out. I think the Twins have enough to repeat but the Tigers will give them a test. The White Sox should be decent and the Indians, if healthy, will improve. the Royals will not be good for a while.

AL West
Los Angeles Angels 90-72
Seattle Mariners 85-77
Texas Rangers 81-81
Oakland Athletics 68-94

The most unfair division has been dominated by LA and I think it will continue. Seattle was the sleeper team for everyone, which negates them being a sleeper, but I still don't see them scoring enough runs. The Rangers continue improving but still not ready for a jump. Can you name a single player on the A's? I didn't think so.

I will take the Braves and Cardinals to make the NLCS with the Cardinals winning the pennant. I am afraid of Ty Cobb Pujols that much. In the AL I think the Yankees will beat the Red Sox in the ALCS. In the World Series, the Yankees will sweep the Cardinals. 200 Million dollars will do that.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Bullpen Breakdown

This was written before today's meltdown. My predictions will go up tomorrow.

Mike Lincoln (1-1, 8.22 ERA)
Daniel Ray Herrara (4-4, 3.06 ERA)
Nick Masset (5-1, 2.37 ERA)
Logan Ondrusek (N/A)
Micah Owings (7-12, 5.34 ERA)
Arthur Rhodes (1-1, 2.53 ERA)
Francisco Cordero (2-6, 2.16 ERA, 39 S)

Lincoln is not a good pitcher. He only made the team because he is owed a ton of money. The Reds tried to make him a starter to salvage anything out of him and that failed. Now he will pitch in mostly mop up duty although I am sure Dusty will let him blow a few games along the way.(ed. note: Boy did I not expect that on opening day)

Herrara and Masset both pitched well and should share set-up duties depending on who is due up for the opposition. Both are still under 28 and should continue to improve as they gain experience in the pressure of the 7th and 8th inning.

Ondrusek is the wild card. He tore through the minors last year, going from A ball to AAA and blowing away the hitters at every stage. I hope he can continue to throw smoke and keep hitters off balance until Burton gets straightened out in Louisville. These are the two young arms who could be the Reds closer in 2 years when Cordero's contract finally ends.

Owings, the former starter, is now being used in long relief and should be ready in case a spot start is needed. He seems to have missed his shot at being a full time starter and now needs to learn how to pitch out of the bullpen. I hope he can still hit because he is a nice addition to the bench as a pitch hitter. I could see him being converted to a position player if he struggles again this year.

Rhodes is the old vet of the group. He has been solid since joining the Reds and still is very good against left handers. He is in the last season of his contract and will be in constant trade talk if a contender needs a reliever this summer.

Francisco Cordero is in the 3rd year of his massive 4 year deal. The first two years have worked out well with Cordero being a top 10 closer in the majors. When he was signed, everyone questioned it. So far, it has worked out. The Reds will need it to continue working since they will not blowout many teams meaning Cordero will be called on to deliver in one and two run games often. I think he will be just fine. He has also been very helpful in mentoring the young Latin American players on the team. He has helped Volquez and Cueto in their development and I hope he will do the same with Chapman when he makes it to Cincinnati.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Starting Pitching Breakdown

The Reds finally made a decision on the 5th starter and it was a surprise. They went with the 2009 first round pick Mike Leake. He has never pitched in the minors. This should be interesting. Let's look at the staff separated into 2 distinct groups:

The Old Guys

Aaron Harang, 32 (6-14, 4.23 ERA, 1.411 WHIP, 102 ERA+)
Bronson Arroyo, 33 (15-13, 3.84 ERA, 1.266 WHIP, 112 ERA+)

After back-to-back 16 win seasons, Harang has had back-to-back 6 win seasons. His performance has not been as bad as the wins suggest but it has been a little worse. The big win seasons saw his K/BB ratio close to 4. The past 2 years it has been close to 3. In order to turn it around he will need to increase strikeouts and cut down on walks. Sounds simple but is very difficult when you are 32 years old and have over 1300 innings on the arm. I expect him to rebound and win a dozen games or so with an ERA about 3.70. He also needs to stay healthy and get back to pitching 200 innings. Dusty is the main reason for this as I talked about here and here. If Dusty took his hands off him for a full season he could be the top of the rotation guy he used to be.

Bronson does the the same thing every year. It isn't spectacular, it isn't horrendous, it just is. He always throws 200 innings and wins double digit games while losing almost the same. He has a few brilliant efforts, a few catastrophes and a bunch of mediocre outings. One red flag with him is his K/BB ratio dipped below 2. He had been in the mid 2s for the past 3 seasons so he will need to improve on that or he will struggle. Most of this is due to his K/9 rate going from 7.3 to 5.2. That is 2 balls in play that normally would have been strikeouts and over the course of a season, those add up. His BB/9 decreased a little so he will need to continue that while improving his strikeouts. I think he will boost his K/BB back up over 2 and keep cranking out 13-15 wins and 8-12 losses while throwing 200 innings.

The Young Guns

Johnny Cueto, 24 (11-11, 4.41 ERA, 1.360 WHIP, 97 ERA+)
Homer Bailey, 23 (8-5, 4.53 ERA, 1.474 WHIP, 95 ERA+)
Mike Leake, 22 (College and Arizona Fall League)

Johnny now has over 340 innings in the big leagues and seems ready to take his place as a solid starter. Last season he was able to drop his H/9, HR/9, and BB/9 from his rookie season. His K/9 also fell slightly but he kept his K/BB over 2. Still very young at 24, he should continue to improve and eventually take over at the top of the rotation if the Reds trade Harang, Arroyo, or both. He will also be a great help with the young Cuban Aroldis Chapman, another young Latin trying to make it in the big leagues with the Reds. I expect a dozen wins and a better ERA and WHIP while improving his K/9 rate. Let's hope Dusty hasn't torn his arm up yet like Volquez. Kind of feels like a ticking time bomb.

Homer Bailey is looking to build of a great finish to last season when he rolled through the final 6 weeks posting a 6-1 record and 1.70 ERA. Sure he faced some bad teams but they were still major leaguers. He has nearly 200 innings and has shown maturity in spring training by pitching well, working hard, and losing the chip on his shoulder he had with the media his first few years. His K/BB ration rose from 1 to 1.6 last season and if he can get that over 2 he will be just fine as the #4 starter. He doesn't turn 24 until May so he is still very young and has plenty of room to grow. I can't wait to see him up in Cincy on a regular basis and I think he will be the breakout star of the Reds rotation, more so then Chapman who still has a lot to learn, baseball and otherwise.

I have no idea what to expect from Leake. I have never seen him pitch but Walt trusts him enough to give him a shot. Dusty is licking his chops at a chance to give another young guy a bunch of innings. To learn more I suggest reading up on him. Here is's take on him getting the spot. Rob Neyer weighs in here. I'm sure more will be written since he won't actually start until April 11 thanks to an extra off day that allows Harang and extra start. I am happy the Reds went with the best pitcher, even if it may cost some money, but still a little worried at a young arm in placed into Dusty's hands. Let's hope this works out but don't be surprised with a DL trip in May or June.

I really like the 5 starters. The two old guys are horses who will take the ball every 5 days and give you above average outings. The young guys can be brilliant and frustrating but there is plenty of room for each to improve. I expect starting pitching to be a strength this season and in the future. There is also Chapman waiting to come up in May or June if something opens due to poor performance or injury. Great to have all these great arms ready to go in Cincinnati.

Left Field Breakdown

Now that the final cuts are finally made, here is the final position player breakdown.

Vs. RHP Laynce Nix (.249/.300/.502/.802, 15 HR, 43 RBI)
Vs. LHP Jonny Gomes (.307/.369/.545/.914, 5 HR, 19 RBI)

These are only their split stats since I don't see either starting very much against same handed pitchers. Nix is particularly terrible against fellow lefties. I think Dickerson will also platoon with Gomes against right handers but Nix was kept on the team for a reason and I fear Dusty will use him for his mythical veteran presence. Dusty likes his veteranness more then actual performance since Dickerson's OPS is 40 points higher then Nix. Gomes is very good against left handers thanks to his solid power and ability to take a walk if needed. This is why I had him listed in the middle of the order in my post on lineups yesterday. As a platoon these two should be serviceable with the bat and provide enough power to not let left field be a weakness. Neither is a wizz with the glove but are still mobile enough to not be a liability. Juan Francisco made the team and can play leftfield a little but is primarily a third basemen. He will probably be sent down when a fifth starter is needed after the first 10 games. Dusty has a lot of options which means more opportunity to screw it up.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Center Field Breakdown; Lineups

Drew Stubbs (.267/.323/.439/.762/99, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 10 SB)

After a slow start to his spring training, Drew turned it on and solidified himself as the starting centerfielder. He built on his power surge from last season and if he keeps it up could begin to mirror the other centerfielder in Ohio, Grady Sizemore. While last season's number were from only 200 PA's, he showed he can handle big league pitching. His 50 K's were a little high which was not ideal for a leadoff hitter. This is why I wish Dusty would get off the centerfielder-must-leadoff train and realize he is better suited for the #2 hole when there is a better choice at leadoff. He gets on base enough, has a little pop, and his strikeouts wouldn't be as bad because it means less double plays. Even if he grounds out, he is fast enough to beat out anything that isn't tailor made. The leadoff hitter should be his backup and possible starting leftfielder...

Chris Dickerson (.275/.370/.373/.743/97, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 11 SB)

He raised a bit of a fuss early in spring training because the centerfield job was essentially given to Drew without Chris having a chance at it. As spring went along Chris played well, but Drew played better and earned the job. Now Chris is up for the starting leftfield job and should be there anytime a righthander is on the mound. His career OPS is .845 against RHPs. He could also give Stubbs a day off in center if needed.

The leftfield spot isn't quite decided since Dusty decided to wait an extra day to make the cut. He has only had 6 weeks to decide, I'm sure something will change in the next 12 hours. Way to be decisive Dusty.


A reader asked what the lineup should look like. Here are the lineups I would use:



Votto and Bruce back-to-back would make Dusty's head explode. O MY GOD! 2 Lefthanders in a row! The reality is Votto hits lefthanders about the same as righthanders so if the opposition makes a pitching change it won't affect him, just Bruce, who is improving but still struggles against southpaws. I love this lineup because Dickerson gets on base but doesn't have much power. Stubbs gets on base and has a little more pop plus helps Dusty since it splits up lefthanded hitters. Votto should bat 3rd since he is a machine and Bruce should hit 4th since he has the most pop. In the minors he was a doubles machine and he has found his home run stroke in the bigs. If he were to come up after all those high OBP guys, he would be able to drive them in. The rest of the lineup is pretty much interchangable. This lineup gets the Reds best hitters the most AB's and more chances to drive in runs. That is the goal and how lineups should be set.



This is slightly difference but the same principles. High OBP and speed at the top. Stubbs and Bruce don't have as much pop against lefthanders but will still get on base. Votto stays at 3rd but Phillips move up to 4th since he put up.301/.342/.541/.883 against LHPs last season. Gomes starts in leftfield on those days and stays in the middle of the lineup. The other 3 can hit anywhere.

Unfortunately there is no way Dusty would employ these lineups. For some reason, he thinks it always has to be centerfielder-shortstop. No idea why. He did it with Taveras and Gonzalez last season and they were terrible. The only problem with these lineups is that there are 2 lefthanded hitters in a row with Bruce and Votto. This doesn't really matter because Votto his them just fine. Philly has put Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back-to-back and it has worked pretty well. Who would have thought Jerry Manual would be more forward thinking then Dusty Baker. O yeah, everyone is more forward thinking then Dusty Baker.