Yes, I'm back to writing, but lets not make too big of deal b/c we know it may not take (see my other posts entitled "I'm Back"). So I broke down and got the MLB package in order to watch my Reds this year. As we continue towards the NL Central crown, it will clearly seem like a good investment (though Mrs. Big Deal may disagree after having watched more baseball in two months than the past four years of our marriage). Even if the Reds weren't on a path to a first round loss in the playoffs (more on the reason below, but as a hint the problem rhymes with Boco bodero), the ability to watch Strasberg every five days pays for the package. I was prepared to write my first post about if Mike Leake was named Strausberg he would be all over the front pages of the newspapers and think kid is all hype and a product of the modern media cycle. Then I sat down and watched a Nationals-Pirates game on a random Tuesday. Here is my initial reaction:
The stadium was packed and the atmosphere of the game was something you rarely see outside the post season (and in Atlanta you never see it). Apparently the Nat's fans were there 40 minutes early just to watch the guy warm up. I tuned into the Nat's TV station to watch Nat's pregame so I guess I understand. His first inning the crowd is on their feet and the place is going nuts. I'm thinking there is no way this lives up to the hype and then... 3 up 3 down as he is throwing the ball all over the zone. The game progressed and he blew threw the line up giving up 1 bad pitch that was taken yard, but otherwise dominating the hitters in a way Pedro used to do in the 90s. I figured the second or third time through the order, the guys would catch up to his speed and he would look mortal. Wrong, the kid got better and the 6th and 7th inning was flat out amazing. After watching this performance, I want to make sure I don't miss another start, because who knows what's next.. 20 strike outs? no hitter? Both in the same game? I wouldn't be surprised to see both. I'm not going to call him the second coming of Walter Johnson just yet, but I'm also not going to miss a start all season (maybe even a live blog one of these days. If we can find a day where he and Leake are both pitching, I'll try to do the double live blog to get instant thoughts on both guys).
I'll be back with my Reds thoughts next week (goal will be to post weekly on Wednesday or Thursday depending on work and how Big Deal jr. is doing), but wanted to give my initial thoughts on the season. Reds look great and have quite a bit going for us right now. Our young arms are finally showing up and we have great starting pitching. Dusty is staying out of the way the best he can with the bats (choice of lead off hitter excluded) and we are getting the luck needed to remain in contention. The problem lies in the bullpen, which has been terrible. I feel like the Mets' fans had to feel when they were playing well, but knew Wagner was the closer so games were never over. You can't win in October with a bullpen that will blow at least 1, maybe 2 games a series (especially in a 5 game series). It is time to make a move and I agree with others who have suggested we move LaClure out to the bullpen. I'd make him a closer (who knows maybe he could be like Papelbon and the move will be worth it, but worst case he continues to get big league experience and we find another closer next year). Begin to use Rhodes as our 8th inning set up man (I understand the man is old and we can't use him everyday, but as the season goes on lets begin to bet the farm and make him the go to set up man. We have a decent left hander making $30mm in the minors who could come up if Rhodes goes down). Speaking of the $30mm left hander, lets bring him up and put him out in the bullpen as well to throw gas. Again, I understand that starters are worth more than bullpen guys, but we have a shot to win this year so why not go all in. That still leaves one extra starter with Leake, Harang, Voltron, Bronson, Bailey and Cueto. I'd hold onto all of them until closer to the trade deadline to make sure Voltron comes back in ok shape and Dusty doesn't ruin the arm of Leake, Bailey or Cueto. If we are still in it at that point, time to move one of Harang or Bronson to get a bat from a contender looking for that 5th starter or go all in and move Cueto or Bailey to get a big name on loaner for the remainder of the year, who we could possibly sign with the money saved from Harang/Bronson/CoCo rolling off in the next 2 years (i.e. Hanley Ramirez).
Ok that is all for now. I'll have a more thought out post next week, where I'll go through exactly how bad our bullpen is and also discuss how great this season of RR/RR Challenge is.
7 hours ago