Sunday, July 31, 2005

Finally, Four in a Row

And it happened on the road! Harang was good, we obviously got some hits. The West is oh, so weak. If we were in the West, we'd almost be in contention.

Anyway, the second half is looking much better, and its looking like the same team we have now we will have tomorrow after the trading deadline. A .500 after the all-start break would be an accomplishment.

John Fay has a good article in the Enquirer today. Noting that now that the left side of the IF is tied down, we now can use $$ for pitching. His theory is WMP will be traded to a rebuidling club, but he doesn't see any free agent signings. Maybe Milton can be traded to someone with a bigger ballpark.

We've run the numbers here before. If this team had any starting pitching, at all, we'd be dangerous.

You build on Harang, Claussen and go from there.

Finally, Fay notes how much it would help to have Luke Hudson come around.

Let's not leave without one final shot. Rich Aurilia thinks his play earned him a spot in the lineup everyday. That's the funniest thing I have heard in weeks. That guy is an a-hole.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Things looking up in Cincinnati

Finally, there is something to be a little positive about in Cincinnati. Here are but a few:

  • The win assures the Reds of a winning month of July. No small feat. Our last winning month was May of 2004.
  • We are winning road games in big ballparks, where we might be expected to have problems due to our HR-oriented offense being suited to our home field. Granted, the Dodgers and a poor team and the Padres have played poorly for months and are living on a fast start--still, earlier in the year we didn't even beat bad teams on the road.
  • Jerry Narron has a winning record as manager.
  • Luke Hudson is pitching a little better, though not there yet. His last two starts have not been awful.
  • How about that Brian Shackelford, huh? He is pitching very well for us right now.
  • We're not in last place.
  • Adam Dunn is red freaking hot. The Enquirer notes in another ballpark he might have had more than two dingers. Here are his July numbers

MAC Report Online Publishes Motor City Bowl Interview

MAC Report Online has an excellent interview with Ken Hoffman, the ED of the bowl. The ties with the Big 10 are safe, and the bowl is in solid financial shape and looking to raise its payout.

(Comment: this was a great tie for the MAC, and a lucky one. We were hard up, and we tied onto a bowl in Michigan when another had failed before that. This one is taking off, and we're lucky to have a bowl game in our region.)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cole Magner With Falcons

Caption says he had a whale of a day...

Freel steals win

Wow, franchise record five steals. I was long asleep by the time all that happened, but had I been awake when we put the lead run on base with no one out in the ninth, I would have been screaming that we not risk a steal of second. And I would have been speechless at stealing third. You just don't take those kind of risks with a precious baserunner.

Shows what I know.

Let's bounce back today and earn a road split, and keep the 'mo going.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

MAC Meeting News

MAC football does really seem to be on the move. Its amazing how far the league has come, from being a welfare case with the Motor City Bowl to where we are today. Yes, part of it is Marshall, and part is Big Ben, but part of it is Urban and Omar, too.

Here are some on the ground reports from the meetings. First, MAC Report Online has an excellent report. Bolding emphasis is mine.

Television Exposure

Dan Shoemaker, of ESPN Regional Television, confirmed that the MAC is slated for 34 appearances on the various ESPN Networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classic and ESPN Regional) this upcoming season. But the most intriguing information unveiled by Shoemaker was that ESPN’s internet broadband network, ESPN360, would expand to include live college football.

ESPN360 will be offered on a rollout basis, depending upon reaching agreements with various high-speed internet providers, and will provide live webcasts of games that are not otherwise slated for broadcast. The service will be delivered to the desktop or laptop of high-speed internet subscribers. The first planned webcast will be of the Central Michigan vs. Penn State contest and plans are being made as well to add the Akron vs. Purdue game.

Shoemaker also stated that he is already aware of the growing frustration being expressed by college football fans about the availability of ESPN’s latest network, ESPNU, which is dedicated to coverage of collegiate athletics and has numerous college football broadcasts scheduled for this upcoming season. Shoemaker stated that there are now essentially five large cable providers nationwide and deals have to be reached with each of these providers, which is at times a slow, cumbersome process.

Bowl Games

The MAC will continue this season with two guaranteed bowl tie-ins. Both the Motor City Bowl and the GMAC Bowl had representatives at the Football Summit and outlined future plans.

The GMAC Bowl will be increasing promotional exposure by dedicating one week of on-campus promotions at each MAC school. This will involve student-based competitions. The GMAC Bowl continued to express satisfaction with its MAC tie-in.

Ken Hoffman, Executive Director of the Motor City Bowl, also provided details as regards to continued tie-ins with the MAC and the Big Ten. Hoffman acknowledged that there were some jitters recently when the Big Ten announced six bowl tie-ins without mentioning the Motor City Bowl which has had an agreement to take the #7 Big Ten team to face a MAC representative. Hoffman states that a new deal will be finalized with the Big Ten to continue this relationship and expects an announcement to be made to that effect within the next few weeks.

Hoffman and Chryst both indicated that there are several future scheduling arrangements in the works between the MAC and the Big Ten and following completion of these arrangements, the Motor City Bowl will announce its deal with the MAC and the Big Ten. Hoffman also tells MAC Report Online that the Big East will continue to serve as a backup contingency for the Motor City Bowl if the Big Ten is not able to furnish a bowl-eligible squad.

Chryst also indicated that securing a third bowl for the MAC remains a top issue for the conference and in that regard, stated that a bowl game in Toronto will likely be secured and announced by April 2006. The bowl would involve a match up between the MAC and the Big East. Hoffman, and the Motor City Bowl, are a driving force behind securing this bowl game for the MAC. The bowl was not approved this past season as the NCAA had indicated a desire to keep the number of bowls to 28 for this season. The only new bowl game that was certified for this season was the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego and this was only made possible by the decertification of the Silicon Valley Football Classic.

Instant Replay

The MAC will have instant replay available for all conference contests this season. Chryst announced that 36 of the scheduled 48 conference games are slated for commercial broadcast and those games will use the video replays available through the broadcast providers. For the games that are not broadcast, the league has contracted with ESPN to provide replay services.

The replay system in use by the MAC will be identical to that used last season by the Big Ten. There will be no on-field coaches challenges. All replay reviews will be triggered by an official in the press box who will then signal the on-field referee that a play is being reviewed. The review will then take place in the booth and this official, the Technical Advisor, will have sole authority to change a call. Instant replay will be limited to non-judgment calls. Bob Gennarelli, the MAC’s Associate Commissioner for External Affairs indicated that the conference does not expect to see any kind of significant delays of game play with the introduction of instant replay reviews. He cited the fact that in the Big Ten’s inaugural season of using instant replay reviews, only 43 plays over a total of 57 games were reviewed and of those only 21 plays were overturned. The average length of the delay, according to Gennarelli, was a little over two and a half minutes.

All 28 bowl games will use instant reply reviews this season as well.

Other News

**Despite a fairly tepid response from the assembled gathering, Chryst continued to trumpet the arrival of Temple as an associate member of the MAC for football only this season and as “full” member for football only starting in 2007. Part of this arrangement, according to Chryst, is an agreement with Temple’s men’s and women’s basketball program to play a home and home series with each MAC school

**Bubba Cunningham, Ball State’s Athletic Director, assumed the chairmanship of the MAC’s athletic directors group. Cunningham succeeds Ohio’s former AD, Thomas Boeh, who accepted the AD’s position at Fresno State.

Day 2 Observations

The second day of the session was set aside for interviews with coaches and select players from around the league. MAC Report Online interviewed several players and we will be publishing these interviews over the next couple of weeks. We also secured an interview with Motor City Bowl Executive Director Ken Hoffman which will also be published in the near future.

Here are, however, some observations from Day 2:

In Demand: Bowling Green quarterback Omar Jacobs was by far the most popular interview subject amongst the players in the room as he had a line of folks waiting to talk to him throughout the session.

Holding Court: Central Michigan head football coach Brian Kelly clearly enjoys talking up his program and continues to be one of the more effusive coaches in the league, bantering easily with the assembled media.

Gaudy Display: Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was not shy about reminding everybody just what team was the defending MAC champions as was evidenced by proudly wearing his MAC Championship ring. I have never seen a Super Bowl ring, but this thing was one impressive piece of jewelry.

Loneliest Guys In The Room: You had to almost feel sorry for the contingent from Temple University during their turn with the print media. Coach Bobby Wallace and quarterback Mike McGann often sat alone at their table as very few media members sought them out for any interviews or information. Maybe in the future, Temple Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw will consider returning some telephone calls and at least offering a “no comment” when he is contacted by MAC media. From what I was able to pick up, Bradshaw did not exactly endear himself or the Temple program to the media by stonewalling inquiries that were being made during the MAC’s courtship of Temple.

National Perspective: Steve Richardson, president of the Football Writers Association of America, attended this year’s MAC Media Days. Richardson, from Dallas, stated that he was quite impressed overall with the MAC’s positive interaction with the media and their understanding of the importance of developing a solid relationship with the press.

Mlive also had a good article on the evolution of the league, and how it could evolve into an actual appearence in a major bowl, something that was unthinkable one or two seasons ago.

"You will see some changes for the major bowl games," Chryst said. "I believe you will see any Top 12 team get in a BCS bowl, plus any Top 16 team that is ranked ahead of an automatic qualifier. In that system, we would have had two teams in the last six years going to a major bowl."
Read these articles for yourself in their entirety. The landscape is really changing for our league. I would love to see our fans catch on.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Falcons Picked to Win West and MAC

This might well be a logical pick....and yet again, it might be the kiss of death. Is the media ever right? They obviously think we can win at Miami. Time will tell.

2005 MAC News Media Association Poll

West Division
School (first place votes) Points
1. Toledo (31) 237
2. Northern Illinois (11) 220
3. Eastern Michigan 133
4. Central Michigan 111
5. Western Michigan 103
6. Ball State 73

East Division
School (first place votes) Points
1. Bowling Green (30) 241
2. Miami (12) 221
3. Ohio 125
t-4. Akron 122
t-4. Kent State 122
6. Buffalo 51

Championship Game Winner: Bowling Green (22); Toledo (10); Miami
(6), Northern Illinois (4).

Monday, July 25, 2005

Adam Dunn, Dave and contrast

One of the top observers on the Reds scene is Brian at Redlegnation. He excels in the infuriating habit of using facts to argue baseball, something which has infuriated many, from comments in today's post to Joe Morgan.

Today, Brian looks at whether Adam Dunn is merely another Dave Kingman.

Like many stupid questions, the answer is evident as soon as the question is asked. Kingman's OPS was .780. To date, Adam is at .905.

Even better, check out this comparison.

.267  .527  .380  .908 - Mike Schmidt

.249 .523 .384 .907 - Adam Dunn
Pretty good company. If only it wasn't for that infernal batting average. When, oh when, will people let that go? Brian also goes on to note that Dunn's .907 is not far off the top ten OF under 25 in baseball history.

As all things Dunn do, it spurned a massive, passionate debate, although not always based on reason and facts.

I have to admit, I have been guilty in the past of thinking Dunn is less than he is. I just saw the K's and the lack of hits, and I thought I was watching Rob Deer. But, I wasn't. I was watching a young Mike Schmidt.

I popped onto Redszone a couple times and found out that you can't say anything about Dunn that doesn't suggest he is a young diety. So, I quit doing that. And, in fact, some of the SABR-heads are a little self-righteous and condescending, and a little too sure they are right. In fact, nothing's wrong with making contact with runners on the second and third and no outs. And there may be effects to what is going on that we can't measure. Having said that, the numbers leave no doubt. Adam Dunn is a producer, even if he never does any better than he is doing right now. Which I think he will.

Now, on other topics, Paul Daugherty is a moron. He follows the Joe Morgan school, the one that buys into myth over production. He is sorry we traded Randa--sorry, this wasn't a Bowden fire sale. It was a legitimate shot at making the team better. Maybe it will work out that way, maybe it won't. But it was a good run at it.

Here's Chad at Redlegnation with a comment:

Go read the article, then email Daugherty to ask where the Reds would have been in the off-season, when Randa signed elsewhere after a career year at age 35. They would have been left holding the bag, with nothing in return. Signing aging players like Joe Randa to multi-year contracts is precisely the way for a team like the Reds to ensure a future filled with losing.

This is why people never learn. Dan O’Brien finally makes an excellent decision, and the Cincinnati media hammers him for it. Similarly, if Sean Casey were traded, the media would criticize O’Brien for weeks. Yet, if Adam Dunn is dealt, Dan O’Brien would be considered a genius by many.

Am I living in Bizarro World?

No, its just a town where people think they know more about baseball than they do. Apparently, Redszone has a good thread on this as well.

Finally, is Jerry Narron a Sabrmetrician. Lonnie Wheeler has Narron saying that he's not worried about all the sac flies, and Marc Lancaster's blog says that Narron has talked to Bill James. I ask, rhetorically, why Dunn keeps batting seventh, but we'll watch this for future developments.

Well, its the fifth and we have no hits off Derek Lowe, and Harang has given up four runs early. We have seven road games upcoming....I'd be satisfied with three wins.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Yeah, I can see why we would want to get rid of this guy

Adam Dunn went deep....and VERY deep, to win for the Reds today, winning the series and giving us a 7-3 homestand. It is, without doubt, pleasant, to have a little success in the season. With the team scoring as many runs as we do, we are a threat every time we get onto the field.

Did a little research. Adam Dunn's OPS is the second best among NL outfielders, behind Miguel Cabrera....and let me say a little mea culpa: I had no idea the year Cabrera is having for the fish. WOW. (Yahoo! list Pujols as an OF, when he hasn't set foot out there since 2003. Oh, well).

Update: RedLeg Nation has a nice piece on Dunn, which I chimed in on with a comment.

This RL Nation comment says it even more succinctly.

(A lot of wags are talking about "another useless solo homer, too.")

The Bucs got a shut out from Mark Redman, so we stay in last place. That's OK. Its just fun to have a little succcess.

One thing Stewart mentioned on the broadcast today is that our first half was heavily loaded with home games, so the last half is heavily loaded with road games. We have 63 games left, with 24 at home and 39 on the road. Right now, we are 32-25 at home, and 11-31 on the road. If we can go 15-9 at home, 14-24 on the road (with our 7-3 record so far) we would be 36-36 after the break. That's a reasonable goal for this club, and attainable. Given the amount of road games, we aren't going to do a lot better.

Which brings up a question. We're clearly a HR team. Are we maladapted for playing in places other than GABP? Just asking.

Update--just answering. Did a little quick math. Our Offense clearly is better adapted to GABP. We score 5.84 Runs per game at home, and only 4.04 on the road. Meanwhile, our defense is relatively similar--in fact, the pitching is slightly better (er, less awful) at home than on the road. We allow 5.75 at GABP and 5.98 on the road. Now, after a while this data becomes a dog chasing its tail, because we know that we stink on the road, which is, at its core, a function of scoring less than you allow. Still, the almost 2 runs/game gap clearly indicates a problem for our hitters on the road in less friendly ballparks. There might be a small effect of having our recent hot streak being during a homestand, but that's probably a small difference.

We're never going to win anything at 4 runs scored/game. If we can get it up to 5 on the road, we might stand a chance, on occasion.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

We are, apparently, not destined to have a 4-game winning streak

Ouch. Brandon got lit up, and we got smoked like an Easter ham. Well, let's bounce back tomorrow and at least win the series before heading for the coast.

On an update, Redleg Nation is weighing in positively on the Randa trade.

Reds Trade Randa

This morning, we said it looked likely, now it has happened.

Joe Randa was traded to the Padres. For the reasons listed below, its a good move. EE (who will be in uniform tonight) needs to be in the ML uniform--either he makes it or he doesn't, but he is done tearing up AAA.

Now, who did we get? The guys are Justin Germano (22) and and Travis Chick (20). On the surface, I like deal. German is going to Louisville, and is the #7 prospect in the Padres system, with a 7-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 19 starts with Triple-A Portland.

Chick may be the real steal, he is the #4 prospect in their system. He had the best fastball in their system, and is going to Chattanooga. He has struggled at AA, but looks to be a good find.

My view is that these guys take a two-month rental we don't need anymore, and turn him into two potential big leaguers. But that's just what I think. Let's see what the rest of the peanut gallery says.

On Red Reporter, the reports are positive. Note the comparisons of Chick to Nolan Ryan by the guy who signed Ryan. Also note the comment that WLW listeners preferred to have Randa signed long-term....boy, there are some people out there with no clue what is going on.

The take on Redszone is also good...note the intial guessing of who it might be, and then being pleased with Germano and even more pleased with Chick.

So, people seem to agree. A strong move where we could clearly afford it. Let's hope it pans out.

In a way, its kind of depressing

But Lions football starts up again next week, July 25, for rookies at trainng camp. And the Falcon start up is about forty days away. Man, things move fast.

In the meantime, the Reds are 6-2 since the break, and continue to hit the snot out of the ball while the pitchers don't outright lose games. Ortiz pitched well last night, save a normal first inning infarction. Adam Dunn went yard twice, and once he went WAY yard. Having said that, I will say this. No--and I mean No--rebuilding plan can possibly not include a young player like him. What would that say---we have a plan to rebuild with youth, but if the youth are too good, we have to get rid of them.

There was a power outage at GABP that delayed the game for 25 minutes. But that didn't keep the Reds from moving out of last place after an ark-like 40 days and 40 nights in the cellar. We're 5.5 games behind Milwaukee, and I believe we could be that much better than them on the stretch home, which would be a fourth place finish. We are 7 behind the Cubs, who are exactly .500, and my guess is that is a stretch. Of course, we haven't seen the talent we might lose in the next week, although I predict none or not much.

It does appear that Randa could be moved. When Minnesota got out, it appeared like that was it, but now the Padres are in, and it looks relatively serious. This is a very logical move for the Reds, IMO, since Randa was only there to hold the spot for EE. EE is topped out at AAA. He may not be a great player in the ML, but he isn't going to accomplish anything else destroying AAA pitiching.

We've written ourselves about the tragedy of our horrible pitching, given our strong offensive attack. If our pitching was only BAD--just as bad as last year, this would be a different story. Here, Brian at Red Leg Nation writes a similar thing, with more facts.

Jason LaRue is pissed that no one told him he is sharing the C job with Valentin.

Now, watch today. Can the Reds win four in a row...for the first time this season.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reds Rally Nicely, today, and in the series

The Reds battled back to get a split of the series with the Cubbies at GABP today. Didn't get to hear the game because I was on a cross-state trip with my boss, but I was pleased with the result. Things are looking better. On the other hand, in 10 days this might be a different team.

A couple of points, nugget style.

  • Could Valentin be any hotter? He's having a career week.
  • If you thought Milton had turned the corner....well, he went back again.
  • Nice to Kearns contributing. We can use all the help we can get.
  • I love today's lineup. Casey OUT. If only Randa had started for Aurilia.

Now, let's win the Brewer series. Ramon Ortiz, please show us something tonight.

Somewhat comically, these two stories ran in today's Enquirer and DDN.

The Enquirer says "Griffey May Be On the Block"

Meanwhile, in DDN, Hal says there's no Griffey talk.

Well, let's see. Hal is using actual live on the scene scouts as his source. And the Enquirer is using gossip-mongering, Peter Gammons wanna-be Jayson Stark. Who is right?

My guess. Griffey stays. And so do ALL of our major players. We may trade Weathers or Mercker (maybe Milton), but at the end of the day no one moves, because the club can't maintain credibility if it makes deals without getting value, yet other teams are not going to overpay for anyone we have.

Are you ready for some football

Well, not really. But I AM getting there.

The Detroit Lions Blog has an early look at position battles within the Lions training camp. Let's take a quick look at what he wrote.

He begins by noting what I think is clear to all Lions fans. The QB position is going to at the top of everyone's mind, all year. Everytime Joey throws an INT, the cameras will look to Garcia for a reaction. And so will we all.

From the blog.

If there is one position on the entire Lion's roster which MUST perform at a higher level this upcoming season it will be starting Quarterback. As far as I can tell, it is Joey's job to lose.
I agree on both counts. I believe Joey will prove himself to be a good NFL QB this year--not a great one, but a good one. I think we will see the person we thought we drafted. There is nowhere to hide, and I won't defend him if he falters. There is plenty of offensive talent (maybe too much) on this club.

The Lions feature a lot of quality young linebackers with the return of Boss Bailey from injury and the valuable experience obtained by 2nd year pros Alex Smith and Teddy Lehman. Add rookie Johnathan Goddard to the mix, and the Lions have a lot of options. It would appear, that Bailey will man the Strongside LB position, Earl Holmes the Middle LB, and James "Dirty" Davis the Weakside LB. The wild card is will Teddy Lehman have gained enough upper body strength and toughness at the point of contact to move into the middle or will he and "Dirty" Davis battle for the starting weakside position? Holmes is aging and both he and Lehman are liabilities on passing downs. Ultimately, I believe that Lehman will be forced to the middle and is probably a year away from the assuming that job.
I don't think Jonathan Goddard is going to hang with the club, but I could be wrong. I don't think he's a special teams type guy, and I just wasn't that impressed with him in college. And its not because he went to Marshall--I rooted for Chris Spielman, and he went to Ohio State.

Millen on WDFN seemed to be saying the other day that he thought Lehman could play SAM, but I think that might have been spin. I think he will push Davis at WILL, and with Bailey and Holmes entrenched at the other positions. I'd like to see Lehman be the MLB of the future, but I'm not convinced. Its good to have backers that are good against the run, but they have to defend the past.

The secondary battle will be intriguing. The Lions have a lot of capable bodies with undetermined roles thus far. It appears one corner will be helmed by Dre Bly and that the starting Strong Safety will be Kenoy Kennedy. Fernando Bryant was a disappointment last season and the Lions have young veteran corners in Chris Cash and Andre Goodman who could challenge for playing time. The Free Safety position would appear to be Terrence Holt's to lose. The Lions recently acquired R.W. McQuarters who could have a major impact upon who starts at Free Safety and the CB opposite of Bly. McQuarter's most likely will be best utilized as a nickel back yet if Holt or Bryant should falter McQuarters is a proven commodity at either position.
Well, I should hope that the FS job is Holt's to lose. I don't know what he did to get on the club's shit list, but he should be the one. I like him, I always have, and I think he's going to be a good one. Bryant wasn't healthy last year, so I haven't given up hope for him. I still see Cash and Goodman in reserve roles--their veterans, but on a better team, they might not ever have become veterans. I'm not sure Keith Smith isn't our best future CB. McQuarters is interesting. I read in Street and Smith's that Kennedy is an "in the box" safety, not a coverage safety, so you might well see McQuarters in passing downs.

And through it all, Matt Millen has a diagnosible interest in Ty Law.

Going deeper into the roster charts, Defensive End and Tight End both could offer some surprises. Kalimba Edwards has been a disappointment as an edge rusher and Bill Swancutt could press Edwards for a roster spot. It's Edwards's job to lose but Swancutt will not go down easily. At Tight End, Casey FitzSimmons has inconsistently exhibited sure hands and impressive athleticism. In early mini-camps, Free Agent rookie Tight End Jason Randall from Michigan State drew a lot of praise and FitzSimmons by no means has no lock on the backup Tight End position.
My guess is both Edwards and Swancutt make the roster, but I won't shed any teams if Kalimba goes. I like the IDEA of Casey FitzSimmons, but I like the idea of making the playoffs more, so if Randall gets the job done, that's fine. I don't think Casey has the position locked down, but I do expect him to make the club.

One last battle to observe will be at backup running back. Kevin Jones is the undeniable starter. Shawn Bryson serves the duel role of 3rd down back and potential fill-in should Jones get injured or need a rest. The other running back will come down to Artose Pinner who the Lions had high hopes for and has done little impress in his limited opportunities. In the offseason the team acquired Jamel White. White has done well in limited opportunities with Cleveland but is a longshot to make the roster. That being said, White could be a valuable receiving back and has had some exposure to the West Coast Offense in Tampa Bay. Pinner would appear to have an edge but must prove that he can help on 3rd downs to keep a roster spot.
I guess I disagree here. I think its White's job to lose, and the Lions are ready to cut bait on Pinner. White is exactly the kind of guy the Niners often had on the bench for third downs.

The least publicized and quite possibly most important roster battle will be which linemen will emerge as the starting right offensive tackle? Victor Rogers, Kelly Butler and Kyle Kosier will all have opportunities to win the position. Many feel that Kosier is best used as an utility linemen but if neither Rogers or Butler prove capable he would appear to be the right man for the job with his valuable game time experience.
Ah, the comment of a true fan. This is the vital one. Our line play simply has to be better for us to compete. I haven't seen enough of Rogers to know what he has, and Butler is still Green, so my guess is Kosier grabs this spot, with Rogers and Butler coming off the bench.

Great post, really got the juices flowing...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Reds Make Moves, Bowden Claims Kenny Kelly

The Reds had a couple moves to make today, and make them they did. The Reds activated Ryan Freel, which is good. They let Kenny Kelly, who is out of options, be DFA'd. He was snapped up by Jim Bowden, and is no longer a Red. In the meantime, we called Austin Kearns back up, and risked (HORROR!) Anderson Machado on the waiver wire. We'll see if Bowden gobbles him up, too. (Has Bowden seen the Nats' record and our record? Just a thought.)

Lancaster is reporting that Cruz is starting in RF tonight, so stay tuned, there may be other shoes. Or it might just be crappy managing. Also, Freel is in and Aurilia is benched. Had Aurilia been moved to SS, I would fear a riot might occur.

Boy, do I feel like an idiot. Marc is now reporting that the Rockies picked up Machado. There is a real shocker. At least we kept the right one (Bergolla.)

Ok, sigh. Maybe they aren't as dumb as I thought.

For Lions fans

Here's a little plus bonus, the Killer had Matt Millen on WDFN, and here's the link. Excellent interivew on the team emerging from the darkness and actually competing. I'm getting excited. I'm not sure how much information there is, and Millen is clearly in it to be optimistic, but hey, that's what training camp is for. If we are healthy, we could make the playoffs.

Reds Lose Again

So, you sweep the NL's worst team, and then you get the Cubs, and they win the first two. That's a realistic look at the state of play right now. Aramis Ramirez ate us alive last night. They are, simply put, a better team--despite that Prior didn't completely shut us down.

The Enquirer is writing this morning about 3b.

The assumption is that the Reds are going to trade Randa, but the according to the paper, the Reds are asking too much for their players--something which is probably not uncommon for a bad team looking for a fire sale as its only hope of rebuilding. Edwin Encarnacion was poor in his first stint up, but has gone back to Louisville and is hitting everything in sight.

I think the bottom line is this: EE has done all he can do in Louisville. He's hit the top of the arc there. That doesn't mean he will be a great big league player right away, but he's done all he can do in that setting. So, I think you have to trade Randa for whatever you can get, and bring EE up by the end of the month. He needs regular at bats to see if he can come around.

Let's keep in mind that if he does, he only makes the young nucleus of this team even better---in the starting 8.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Griffey as Comeback Player of the Year

Here's a must-read from Paul Daugherty in the Post.

We must all admit that we got down on Junior when he was struggling over the past few years. But these last few weeks show why he's the player we hoped he would be. He's hitting for average and power. He's throwing runners out at home. He's carrying the team, at times. He's the Hall-of-Famer we thought we were getting.

Just as importantly, I don't think any of us had any idea of the rehab he went through to play this year. You shouldn't question his desire, ever. Mea Culpa, but it won't happen again.

We are privileged to be watching him in our team's uniform.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Win Series

We should, at least, be beating the really bad teams on our field. At least. Which we did tonight. Not a bad win, we had to keep battling back, and finally our hitters outlasted our pitchers. So we're 2-0 following the break. This homestand will be a chance to make a little ground up, with the Cubs and Brewers coming in next. Of course, depending on the fire sale, we may not have enough talent to even compete soon.

Excellent Mid Major Website--Home of the Junkie.

If you're a MAC basketball fan, you a new site to monitor. Its, and the author has some good MAC contacts, covers the MAC, and is great for the junkies.

Here are some tidbits.

On my recent road trip I got to talk to Ball State assistant Jamaal Walker about a few things. We'll start out with his thoughts on the difference between the Junior College and the D-1 lifestyle for coaches: It's not as big a difference as you would think...maybe the trvel is a little better at the D-1 level during recruiting time. I've driven 8 hours, looked at a player, and driven 8 hours back on the same day at some jobs. But you don't complain about that stuff -- it's just part of the job. Obviously the money is a bit better. On Ball State's style of play: We like to spread it out with penetration from the guards. We feel the MAC is a guards league and that our guards are very good at driving and kicking.

The colored text is my emphasis. Its a message to all the people fretting over BG's lack of a 4 and 5. Penetrate, kick, shoot. That's how teams in our league win.

BG's Dan Dakich on what he's looking for with his last scholarship: I'm looking for a big man but I'm not taking a bad one. Dakich's son Andrew (with basketball in hand) after being introduced to me: Nice to meet you Ray!...Shout out to Coach Dakich for his offer to help me any way he can. That's it for the night.

I didn't know we had a scholarship left.

Well, check the site out. He's working it.

Baseball back, nice win

Nice win last night. Its fun to watch the team win a game they way its supposed to be played. Good pitching, some good defense, and a couple timely dingers. For the moment, we'll enjoy it and not dwell on the fact that it was a win over the worst team in the NL.

Roster moves aplenty. Believe it or not, Jason Romano was DFA--PLEASE, MAJOR LEAGUE GMS--DON'T PICK HIM UP! What are people thinking? Kenny Kelly is back in his place, so that's only a marginal improvement. Also, Freel is on rehab, but Narron is indicating that Freel will resume his nomadic ways in the field, rather than supplanting the untouchable Aurilia.

Here's what Redleg Nation says. Insert my applause here.

So, Aurllia is going to continue to play. I’m not saying that Freel shouldn’t be used, at times, to rest the OF or Randa, but he should be the regular 2B. To play Aurilla at the expense of Dunn, Randa, Pena, or Griffey is just stupid.

Has he done anything to impress anyone up to this point?

Meanwhile, in a move you could see coming, Ryan Wagner has been put on the DL. I think it is reasonable to think he isn't healthy, so I'm happy to see this move made. Randy Keisler is back up off rehab. Not that Keisler isn't just as bad (though he pitched well on rehab), just that Wagner is still a commodity in my view, and we ought to see if this streak of awful pitching is injury-related. He clearly isn't working the problems out on the mound.

Finally, Red Reporter quotes some sources saying the Astros don't want Adam Dunn and feel the Reds are overvaluing him, and Kearns is untouchable. Not bad news, in fact.

For purposes of having some hope, I'm monitoring the team for a .500 second half, unlikely though that might be. We are 1-0.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Adam Dunn Trade Talk

Chad at Redleg Nation has some info that he feels is reliable that says OB is shopping Dunn--inside the division in order to get a a higher price.

Here's the salient part:

OB is actively shopping Dunn to Cubs, Cardinals, and Astros. He has made all of them aware that he will trade Dunn within the division, apparently in an effort to drive the price up. Kearns will stay in the minors until the trade is consummated.
Chad says that if the Reds trade Dunn, his days as a fan are over. While I appreciate the sentiment, I have to say that is a little strong. Frankly, this team has done far worse to me than that, and I always come back for more. I shouldn't, but I do.

Here are the comments on the story.

Its clear that our people are divided. I believe that some people don't see the value of Adam--they have him defined as a sort of Rob Deer/Pete Incviglia type player, who is a good but marginal talent. I believe that's an unenlightened view, but if you don't go past the batting average, and don't appreciate walks, you might decide that. I might add that Dunn's high BA in AAA might have led people to think he was a different kind of hitter--leading to the conclusion that he is a letdown and should be disgorged.

I don't agree with that...mostly because the calculation at work is this:

Trade Dunn + Get Pitching = Winning.

The problem is that it doesn't work that way. This is the guy who signed Eric Milton to a 3-year deal. And, if we're talking young pitching, there's no guarantee that they ever pan out. If you get 3 young pitchers, and one is a good starter, that is good. Getting none is not unheard of. So, you're trading Dunn for an outside shot at being better.

I don't like it. But it won't chase me away.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fay Collects Fan Suggestions

Last week, I mentioned that John Fay had given the fans the chance to be GM, and yesterday he ran the results.

I think its safe to say that, as bad as DanO might, be, it could be much, much worse. JD @ Red Reporter has a take, and its right on. This was simply the dumbest set of ideas ever published.

They seem to fall into a couple categories. Trade someone, anyone. Trade Adam Dunn, who is overrated. Get some pitching. Try to get one of Oakland's pitchers. They usually seem to be good.

It does point out one thing. For all our bitching and whining, the options are not always as easy as they appear. Sure, signing Milton and Ortiz looks bad. On the other hand, if they pitch to their career levels, we're a much, much better team today. And if you ONLY looked forward, the options are even more limited.

On other fronts, the Reds may have the worst bench in the game. So, there's no room for Olmeido, who is about to be sent down because he has options and Machado does not. Hal Reports here that scouts don't seem to think its too like Machado would be claimed (gee, ya think?). And, Hal has the trade news, which focuses on heavy interest in Dunn and Kearns.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Finally, a Road Series Win

There are some things to be hopeful about at mid-season. Felipe. Brandon. Belisle. Coffey (if you listen to George Grande). Adam Dunn. Is Milton coming around.

Of course, the occasional win always makes things look better.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ryan Wagner

In some forum, I wondered recently what was up with Ryan Wagner. He was unhittable early, and can't get anyone out anymore. Here's some speculation from John Fay and Narron on what it might be.

Dunn just went yard with the grand slam...nice way to spark another rally. For the record, that's our sixth run, in our winning zone. In fact, based on my analysis, it might be the most important run we score. We are 12.7% better at winning with six runs than five....of course, we have a losing record with five. Welcome to small samples.

Nice Comeback Win for Reds

Nice comeback for the Reds last night. 4 runs in the 8th and 9th, and we're get a win we needed pretty badly. It goes to show...when we get decent pitching we can win. Ortiz survived a shaky first inning to get a quality start, and (just as importantly) get us to the Mercker/Weathers zone, where our bullpen can survive. Eventually, we brought the runs home. Marty was talking yesterday about how a team can be second in runs scored and yet have the second-worst record--he allowed as how pitching "plays a role" and then noted the offense was inconsistent.

I'd like to see a study of that. What is the typical variance of an offense, and is our attack any more inconsistent than anyone else's? What if you made the pythagorean formula use the median runs scored as opposed to the average. Just a thought. Essentially, I think he's wrong...its the pitching.

Finally, Red Leg Nation is on the story about the Reds' fawning over Sean Casey. Narron is giving credit to Casey for wearing Halsey out with a long at-bat, which caused another reliever to come in, and then get lit up.

It would be nice to hit the break with a road split and a road win. Why? No special reason....we're not going anywhere. It would just be nice. To finish .500, we'd have to go 47-29 from here on in (.618), which is better than the first half of the Washington Nationals.

Update: Spent a hot July afternoon doing math. Here's what I learned.

First, found a great article on this exact topic from Hardball Times.

Then, I spend some time figuring out the real variance we are working with. The Reds offensive standard deviation for runs scored is 3.46, while the NL total is 3.09. Which means, Marty was essentially right. The Reds offense is 12% more inconsistent than the league as a whole. I'm not enough of a math jockey to understand whether the one-tailed nature of team baseball stats creates something funny here. As Studeman points out, you can't go below zero, but you can go as high as you want. I know this..average doesn't tell the whole story. (Further rambling note: our pitching tends to be high, too, and its standard deviation is about the league average--consistent, but bad.

Anyhow, I started to find out if we are (more) inconsistent, and it would appear that we are.

Below is the Reds record under various scenarios. when scoring less than the league average (4 or fewer), the club is 5-40, or a .111 percentage. When scoring more than 4, we are 28-13 (.682) which is good in any league. Of course, if you look at 5-9 runs scored, we're 16-12, (.571) while 10+ is 12-1. I guess those 12 losses from 5-9 runs is probably where some better pitching really would have helped.

R W L %
0 0 2 0.000
1 0 9 0.000
2 2 15 0.118
3 1 13 0.071
4 2 1 0.667
5 3 4 0.429
6 5 4 0.556
7 5 3 0.625
9 3 1 0.750
10 2 0 1.000
11 7 1 0.875
12 2 0 1.000
14 1 0 1.000

Friday, July 08, 2005

Trade Rumors Fly

Perhaps the sole remaining dilemma for the Reds season is whether we have another fire sale and up with a worse team then we have now. Hal writes that Dunn and Griffey are the source of many trade rumors today.

My guess is that neither guy goes, but a couple pitchers might go.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Machado back

Note, Anderson Machado is back, safely sheltered from the waiver process. Marty asked the other night if this guy was some kind of all-star and we missed it...certainly, with the emergency of Felipe, his presence is less a priority than last year.

A lot of people are wondering why Kearns isn't back up. He is killing the ball in AAA, and I heard on TV last night that Narron told Machado and Olmdeo they might have to play OF in a pinch. I mean, if you're short on OF, why not bring Kearns up. Is he in the doghouse?

Machado is on the track to get 0 playing time, and it will be even worse when Freel comes back. Aurilia is coming around, so basically, we're keeping Machado on the bench to protect him.

Luke Hudson continues to struggle, although his Era did come down below 10 last night. Still, he's not getting it done.

The Giants series is an excellent microcosm of the season. When this team gets any pitching at all it can win games.

Eric Milton's road win was the first for a Reds starter since May 30, well more than a month. Ouch.

Finally, for those who have uttered the phrase "We might as well bring Jared Fernandez up, he can't be any worse," the word apparently from the Reds is that we could. He was released.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Excellent Interview with Coach Brandon

Great job from Mac Report Online with a pre-season interview of Coach Brandon. Nice talk, and thanks to Coach for taking the time with him.

Among the highlights.

  • For all you recruiting junkies, he wants to redshirt everybody.
  • No comment on Nick Lawrence--pending court decisions.
  • Practice starts on August 6.
  • He's certainly lukewarm on Temple, as he struggled to find anything good to say.

The juices are flowing....

Lopez to All-Star team

Well, the Reds got one kid on the all-star team, because its a rule, and it was Felipe Lopez. Congrats to him, he deserves it.

The Enquirer has a good article that notes that the dumb-asses who run our team didn't even have Felipe in the lineup until Mid-May, while they made man-love to Rich Aurilia.

And note, that Lopez was a pickup from Bowden on a nice trade with the Jays. He's going to be a good one, and continues in our tradition of great shortstops.

Lonnie Wheeler has a great article on Adam Dunn in the post...the batting order thing (Narron seeing the light, is he online?), and on the future of Dunn with this organization. See below, boldface is mine.

The Reds can afford both of them, but will probably lead us to believe that they can't. Of the two, Dunn - six years Casey's junior - is more likely to fetch the kind of pitcher the Reds can no longer do without. Nobody else in O'Brien's portfolio offers the exchange value of his left fielder.

But if you trade Dunn in the midst of a youth movement - and there have been rumbles to that effect - how do you explain it to the paying customers? Short of Albert Pujols, who in the game is a more productive hitter at his age?

All of this assumes that the Yankees or Braves or some other well-heeled contender will not be tempted by Griffey's steady march toward his illustrious past. All of it assumes that the Cincinnati landscape will remain overgrown with executive complications - that Carl Lindner isn't traded for an owner who will hire a COO who won't send his general manager to the plate with his shoes tied together.

In the meantime, color Joe Randa gone but don't count on an ace in return; or even a pair of fives. Hope that Austin Kearns is not redeemed at well below market value. Ponder Wily Mo Pena.

Pena is two years younger than Dunn, with every bit the power; nobody in the business has more. He makes $440,000 but after the season will be eligible for first-time arbitration, which will be kind to him. His tools elicit drools. For those reasons, the Reds could perhaps justify retaining him instead of his left-handed counterpart - if, that is, they place no value on two specific items:

If they don't care about a player's capacity for staying in the lineup day after day.

If they don't care about how it all looks.

To trade Dunn would be to cash in whatever good faith remains in the organization; to sell out the few fans whose extraordinary patience has kept them coming to the park.

To trade Dunn would be to perpetuate a rebuilding process that never gets beyond the subfloor.

To trade Casey would be hard. To trade Pena would be hard.

To trade Dunn would be regrettable.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Im at the city pool safely away from one more butt kicking for our team we could lose 100 games

Sunday Reds thoughts

Its nice to get a win. Let's not debate that. But let's not kid ourselves, we went a week without a win, and I am afraid this team is on a downward track.

Having said that, if the Rumor Central part of this trade happened (Milton to the Nats), it would be a boon. Trading Milton to a team in a pitcher's park would be a boon beyond belief, and getting any relief--ANY--from his salary would be a huge benefit. We signed him to a three year deal--stupidly--and he's starting to pitch better and now is the time to strike.

It does leave us woefully thin at starter, but I don't think even Jard Fernandez would be worse than Eric. But maybe I am wrong.

In the Enquirer, Jerry Narron has discovered that if you get guys on you'll score runs. WOW! (We are leading the NL in OPS)

John Fay has a column for all the geniuses on the Internet, which includes people like me, to email him what they would do if they were, you wanna be a GM, step up with the ideas.

Finally, Mr. Fay has analysis (actual data) of GABP and whether its the launching pad we think it is.

GREAT AMERICAN FACTOR: You can't blame the Reds' pitching woes on Great American Ball Park.

The park has a reputation for being a launching pad, and the ball does seem to fly out some nights.

But since the park opened, the Reds' staff has pitched better at home than on the road:

In 2003, the Reds had a 4.97 ERA at home, 5.22 on the road.

In 2004, the Reds had a 4.74 ERA at home, 5.66 on the road.

This year, entering Friday, the Reds had a 5.16 ERA at home, 6.35 on the road.

The Reds did give up more home runs at home than on the road each of the first two years at Great American - 118 to 91 in '03 and 128 to 108 in '04.

This year, through Thursday, the Reds were on pace to give up 126 at home and 120 on the road.

The Reds' offensive numbers support the theory that Great American isn't the hitting paradise it's thought to be.

The Reds were slightly better at home in 2003 than on the road. They hit .249 here and .241 away. They hit 12 more home runs at home - 97 to 85. But they had only three more RBI.

Last year, they were better in both categories on the road. They hit .242 at home and .250 on the road, with 92 home runs at home and 102 on the road.

This year, they're back to hitting better at home: .270 to .251, 1.58 homers per game to 1.05.

On the other hand, I read that the GABP has given up more homers per game than any park in the majors.

Finally, we would be remiss is we did not mention the possible end of the absolutely inspiring career of John Franco, who was DFA by the Astros. I'm not saying he won't hook on (he is a LH), but if it is the end, it is an absolutely fantastic career and a solid place in Reds lore.

Today, Brandon, whose ERA is finally below 4, will pitch against Roger Clemens. It would be nice to have Brandon keep the game close, and maybe we can win a game started by the Rocket for the second time this season. Its the last home game before the break, and the exact half-way point of the season.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The tragedy of 2005

When you look at tonight's starters, you can see how grim it is to be bad. The Astros are running out two guys (Woody Rogriguez 6.86 and Ezequiel Astascio 10.98) to the mound who are bad enough to pitch for Cincy. Even with the caveat that Rogriguez's stats are magnified by one really bad outing, that's nothing to be proud of. We are, in comparison, bringing our "ace" Aaron Harang, and Ramon Ortiz, an absolutely atrocious pitcher thus far.

In a post last February entitled what does .500 look like, I took a stab at what you might find in a .500 season for the Reds. What kind of numbers would you need?

Essentially, I thought the Reds could, if healthy, score 800 runs. As of today, the Reds have scored 4.92 runs per game, and the club is on a direct line to 800 runs this season. We are second in the National League in runs scored. Don't let anyone kid you, the offense is doing its job.

Now, the defensive side of the equation was always the challenge. Using phythagorean methods, at 4.92 scored/game, we obviously need a 4.91 ERA (or so, not counting unearned runs). Last season, our ERA was 5.19, so it is reasonable to say that if DanO and the FO had lowered our ERA by .2 runs per game, we'd be in the running for a .500 season. Doable? Last year's team suffered through 115 innings from Todd Van Poppel and 157 innings from Juan Acevedo.

Even better, a 4.63 ERA--a .5 reduction--would have put us in the range of 89 wins.

Put that in perspective. A 4.91 ERA would be 13th in the NL this year. A 4.63 ERA would be 12th.

That's the tragedy of this season. Even if our pitching was bad, and still well below average, we'd be in the running for a winning season and maybe a wild card berth. Instead, our ERA is 5.66, last in the NL and .5 runs worse than last year.

All DanO had to do was build a pitching staff that wasn't putrid. And he failed. I'm so proud.