Category Archives: Cincinnati Reds

Lou Piniella is back with the Reds


I have to take my hat off to the Reds – probably their finest move of the entire offseason was the announcement yesterday that former manager Lou Piniella would be returning to the organization as a ‘special advisor’.

Now if old Pappy Piniella comes in and can light a fire under some asses and inspire the suits in the front office in some way, this is going to be a great move. If he comes in like some special advisors just to collect a paycheck in retirement and stay behind the scenes, then this will end up like Mike Holmgren in Cleveland.

When I was a kid, Piniella was the first manager I ever knew of. On the nightly news his tirades would get a few seconds of footage; berating reporters, throwing his closer through the postgame dinner spread or throwing bases and kicking dirt like the true winner he was. I love the guy like a grandfather. I’m really happy about this.

But forget him teaching Bryan Price anything. There couldn’t be any two men more dissimilar.

The Reds are sticking with Bryan Price


Well, this is really bad news.

Walt Jocketty will do nothing as usual, announcing that Bryan Price will return as Reds manager in 2016. Price boasts about a .430 winning percentage in two seasons as the skipper of this downtrodden club.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. All hope for a better future, a way out, something to look forward to next spring; have just gone out the window.

I have nothing more to comment on the Reds at this time. They have amazed me.

Has Jay Bruce played his last game as a Red?


Jay Bruce finished his 2015 season with 26 home runs, 87 RBI, a .226 average, and a .729 OPS. He was essentially a replacement-level player with an 0.1 WAR.

Reds fans are clamoring; actually begging, to trade him for a bucket of balls and move on. I have a feeling the Reds will oblige.

I am not sure what happened here. In all of my years following the game of baseball, there’s never been a more enigmatic player I’ve like and followed than Jay Bruce. It’s been said many times on this page. When he was good and on a hot streak, there was often no one better in baseball. But he didn’t have many of those hot streaks in 2014 or 2015 that pulled you in and made you believe. In about 1200 plate appearances over the last two seasons, he was a .222 hitter with a .695 OPS.

We just can’t defend it. It makes no sense when you look at the player that once was. And although Bruce never reached his peak that some (including us) expected, Bruce hit 208 home runs in a Reds uniform (and a couple in the postseason) and had a .780 lifetime OPS with at times, a gold glove caliber defense in right field.

He was a good guy in the clubhouse, and a remarkably solid guy off the field. He was durable, and fun to watch. If indeed the sun has set on our favorite Reds’ career, it’s been a good run even if it never quite worked out how we figured.

We just wish we knew what took place for things to get so corrupted here towards the tail end.

You cannot bring back Bryan Price, and the Reds won’t

When Ken Rosenthal reports something, I usually perk up and listen closely. He’s reporting that the Cincinnati Reds are considering bringing back manager Bryan Price in 2016; and I’m telling you right now that it won’t happen because it can’t happen.

This to me has possibly been the worst season in my 32 years of life. It has never really ceased to be depressing and sad and feels like the end of a really nice era. I have really struggled to write about my thoughts on the Reds – watching them for nine innings is enough of a challenge. I mostly want to pretend that they aren’t there. I think that falls at the foot of the manager. This is a business, and he’s fielded a flat team for the entire year. Last year deserved to be thrown out; this year the cement has hardened and you see that Bryan Price is a pitching coach who is in over his head in a managerial role.

The Reds have lost 93 games and it’s going to be a miracle that they didn’t lose 100. I know it’s been a year that has seen them set a record for most pitching starts in a row by a rookie. I know there have been injuries to Mesoraco, Cozart, Homer Bailey, Billy Hamilton and such. I know veterans like Jay Bruce have been numbingly inconsistent once again. But I’ve seen some bad Reds teams in the past – 2003, 2004, and 2005 come to mind – and those teams didn’t feel this lifeless night after night. They also weren’t as talented offensively as this group and yet they still managed their hot streaks. They still managed to score runs. Their rotations were also abhorrent; albeit there were veterans, but it wasn’t this slaughter march we’ve seen from the 2015 Reds.

It’s been a never ending nightmare highlight reel of Bryan Price; from the things you’ve heard about like him berating an annoying beat writer who was just doing his job to getting tossed handing in a lineup card in Cleveland before the game even began. He’s failed to generate any creativity or spark to get this team to go on some type of a run where you say, ‘yes, this guy can figure it out’. This isn’t a guy who leads.

The one caveat in Price returning would be that the Reds would probably keep the core together for one more year, but that is no guarantee. It would probably hold off a full rebuild, which I don’t see happening. I think you’ll see some veterans go with only Votto remaining for certain because he’s been productive and his contract makes him impossible to trade. If the Reds bring back Price, it will be the same brand of uninspired baseball next year that just makes you want to change the channel or do something else. Bryan Price has made me long for the days of Dusty Baker. That’s really tough to do.

On the other hand, if you could land a Barry Larkin who was a rumored candidate, you immediately create a spark and a guy who commands respect from day one. I have no reason to think Larkin would be different than how terrific first year manager Paul Molitor has been in Minnesota. That’s worked out pretty well.

We need new life, we need new blood, we need a change. Another year of Bryan Price will have fans like me feeling sick to my stomach. The Reds’ brass knows that, they’re smart. They have some market research telling them the disapproval rating of their current manager. If it’s nothing more than the many empty Red seats and lack of television viewership, they know. Bryan Price won’t be back in 2015.

Betting on Baseball Friday

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It’s late in the year, but there’s still opportunity. Opportunity to find something that matters in the game of baseball that makes it an event for a team that is seemingly playing out the string. You must find a game that stands out, allowing you to make sports predictions.

We have a good spot tonight for one of these games. A game that won’t get a lot of attention because it’s between two poor teams. But when you have a nice lean because you think that it’s an event within a particular organization, it allows you to make accurate baseball predictions.

Brandon Finnegan is the centerpiece the Cincinnati Reds acquired in the Johnny Cueto trade. We’ve already seen them trot John Lamb out front and center to get him exposure as a starter. They’ve now transitioned Finnegan; who was in the Royals pen down the stretch last season leading to their World Series run, to being a starting pitcher. He’ll make his first career start in Milwaukee tonight against the Brewers opposing right hander Zach Davies.

The Reds are a Vegas consensus slight underdog right now (+103). It’s been a long season, but Finnegan will throw well tonight and give the Reds a slight uptick in their long season; a season that has seen them set a Major League record for most consecutive starts by a rookie pitcher; a record that continues this evening.

Take the Cincinnati Reds +103 tonight in Milwaukee.

Jay Bruce hits milestone home run #200


Amid the trade rumors, and the slumps, and the hot streaks; Jay Bruce is carved in Cincinnati baseball history books now with an elite number next to his name. He’s ninth all-time on the Reds career home runs list, and last night off of Adam Kennedy he lined a line drive out of Petco Park to reach the feat. It was not a majestic tape measure blast; although he did hit the piss out of it.

The home run of course snapped one of those typical 1 for 21 Jay Bruce disappearance act slumps. If he could just eliminate those he would be a star. He would probably have the contract Joey Votto has and go on to continue to climb the all-time list. He’ll soon pass Eric Davis (203) and Ken Griffey Jr. (210) if he can get hot. There’s a good chance Bruce is dealt this offseason for no good reason other than the Reds want to trim payroll and ‘want more consistent production’ out of their right fielder.

It was the only game that the Reds scored in a 2-1 loss. Against Adam Friggin’ Kennedy. This has really been a tough year, I can’t say it enough. There has been little to no magic after that abbreviated hot start that saw them jump out to 4-0.

Last night I gave pause and thanks that Jay Bruce somewhat etched his name in stone as one of the best Reds ever; in the same way I feel that Adam Dunn was one of the best Reds ever. Of all the players who have crossed the white lines and worn the Reds uniform, the guy has hit more home runs than most of them. That’s to be commended.

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Mike Leake traded to the San Francisco Giants


Another Jenga piece of the Reds roster tower is pulled out of the toppling fray late tonight – Mike Leake has been traded to the San Francisco Giants for some minor leaguers.

I never really liked Mike Leake. Heard some things about him snubbing an underprivileged kid down at the park when he didn’t need to, then he stole the tee-shirts, then he blocked us on twitter for ribbing him in good nature about it. And he lost game four of the 2012 NLDS at home with a flat performance. We never really forgave him for any of that.

That said, he’s a solid big league pitcher. He profiles to be even better in San Francisco than he was in Cincinnati, where he went 62-47 with a 3.87 ERA, 701 strikeouts to 260 walks since being the 8th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 draft. His best year was 2013 when he went 14-7 and 3.37 ERA.

He’s really a durable guy who will use that big ballpark and have success. He doesn’t miss starts, and can go the distance any time in a ballgame when he’s on.

Seeing the roster dismantled this time around is really hard. Even to see Mike Leake go, even a guy we aren’t fond of. It’s a changing of the guard. This is brutal.

One More for the Core


If the Reds are torn apart sometime in the next 48 hours with key members of this core from the playoff run stripped from the roster and fan base, then let it be written that the Redlegs went into the sea of red that is St. Louis and shut out the best team in baseball for the second night in a row, winning 1-0.

Jay Bruce hit his 17th home run of the season off a very good John Lackey, and Aroldis Chapman locked down his 21st save of the season.

It was so baseball. These guys going out and in the midst of all kinds of rumors that have them shipped all over teh globe; they go out and play a sound game to beat a much more sound team.

Anthony DeSclafani threw seven shutout innings and improved to 6-7 on the year. The Reds collected just two hits.

And maybe; just maybe, this is the type of win that tells ownership it’s not time to let the sun set on this group yet. Maybe they look towards next year and aggressively decide that by adding a key arm or two to the rotation, they’ll have the lineup to attempt to make a run at things.

But if not – if they do decide to sell off these guys who were being rumored in deals before the game started tonight – it was perhaps one last signature win to remember them by. It’s the kind you don’t forget.

So Long, Johnny Cueto


And so ends an era. Johnny Cueto was traded to the Kansas City Royals today for three pitchers; the most notable being Brandon Finnegan.

It’s funny – we had this blog going when Cueto began his Reds career. They were coming out of the darkness, over a decade of futility. You knew you were on the ride up. Today, it’s like the organization admitting that this current core and guys on the 25-man roster will never win a title or play in a World Series. I mean, it was official before today of course. But this makes the probability meter of that ever happening absolute zero.

Right down to the very end; right down to his very last start as a Red, Johnny Cueto was awesome. We kind of eulogized him after his gem in Washington a few outings ago. The bottom line is he’s the best homegrown pitcher the Reds have put in a uniform since Mario Soto. Who knows when we’ll have another true ace like Cueto or how it will go when it happens. I may be a very old man.

It’s really hard saying goodbye to the players you love, the players you’ve grown so attached to. The players you’ve spent so many evenings in your living room living and dying with through the eb and flow of a baseball game and season.

While the Reds prepare to mire in obscurity, Cueto will write a new chapter and start more games in the postseason and probably reach incredible heights yet in his career. The book on this chapter has sadly closed. I’ll really miss Johnny Cueto.

Jay Bruce’s last (Cincinnati) ride?


Every time Jay Bruce homers, I wonder if it’s the last time I’ll see him round the bases in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. Tonight in Cincinnati, he hit a monstrous clout to right center for his 15th home run of the season. It allowed the Reds to beat the Cubs 5-4. Bruce also doubled and is now hitting .255 on the season.

I really hope that the sun hasn’t set on Bruce’s Reds career. There’s no doubting he is an enigmatic player. But Bruce is in one of the best stretches of his career. Since May 16th he’s hitting over .310 with an OPS well north of .900 and a slugging percentage over .550, all hallmarks of a quality middle of the order hitter.

In a perfect world, Bruce continues to progress and the Reds don’t get quite the offer they hope to by broadcasting to the baseball world that he can be had. They work out a reasonable extension for him to remain part of the solution in Cincinnati – players like Bruce could make the ‘rebuild’ just a bit shorter. Plus, I still want a reason to go to the park. Bruce is at the core of the guys I have a personal attachment to. He has 197 career regular season homers as a Reds player. If you get an offer that brings a top tier prospect, make the deal. If not – you don’t trade a productive player like Bruce just to trade him.

I am a bit puzzled at why the Reds have made Bruce so willingly available but a guy like Todd Frazier whom is under team control similarly until 2017 is not available. You can’t have it both ways. Both should fit the profile of a guy who can be moved, or neither. The Reds have no viable replacement for Bruce being roadblocked in the minor leagues, so I just don’t see a reason to up and move him.

That said, the things are falling into place as I thought they would. The perfect storm for Bruce to be moved. The Reds aren’t very good, the All Star Game is completed, and Bruce is playing pretty well. This is kind of what I saw coming down the pipeline back in March. I think we’re seeing Jay Bruce’s final days as a Red, and it kind of sucks.

It’s kind of shitty being the fan of a small market team. There are teams in the game who have the ability to keep a homegrown talent if they so choose. It seems like the Reds are following some unwritten rule, almost conforming to think because it’s time to rebuild, you move a multiple season All-Star corner outfielder just to get something done. And for the fans, it does suck. We’ll see how this plays out, and eulogize his career in Cincinnati properly should we have to in the near future.

Seeing the Greatest Derby in Baseball History: The Night The ToddFather ruled the Home Run Derby World


I saw the greatest Home Run Derby of all time last night live and in person at Great American Ballpark. Here are some notes, and you can click through for the photos.

  • That national anthem, sung by Marlana VanHoose was awesome. Should have known after hearing that it was going to be a special night.
  • And if the anthem wasn’t enough; in the first round when Sean Casey caught that random ball off the bat of Josh Donaldson; the Redlegs should have known it was going to be a night of good fortune.
  • Last night was the loudest I have ever heard Great American Ballpark in any capacity. The crowd was rabid, ferocious, and absolutely wore themselves out for Todd Frazier. I screamed at points until my throat felt like leather.
  • They’ll talk about what Todd Frazier did last night forever in Cincinnati. This will be one of those things that is replayed forever in Cincinnati sports lore and in Home Run Derby moments, and I was there to see it.
  • It was amazing how bad the weather was before – and after the derby – yet it was perfect for that several hour window to watch all the All Stars take batting practice and of course watch Todd Frazier create the signature moment of All Star week.
  • Bryce Harper hit about three moonshot home runs in batting practice in a row into the teeth of a pretty good crosswind blowing right to left in right field.
  • I almost got a foul ball from Todd Frazier’s nephew during batting practice. Yet, some guy using a glove slapped it out of my grasp. Opportunity gone forever.
  • I really liked the new Home Run Derby format. Without it, we weren’t given the dramatics and buzzer beaters.
  • Pretty sure I saw grown men crying in the crowd after Todd won the Derby and  Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ was blaring on the loudspeakers. A special moment. It is hard to get chills anymore at a sporting event, but I had them last night.
  • All Star Fanfest was really cool – probably the best collection of sports memorabilia I’ve ever seen as part of a charity auction in one room of Fanfest – but we were only able to stay for a short while because we wanted to get in to the stadium when the park opened.
  • The Reds are about to decapitate their team core; yet in this disappointing season of losing, Todd Frazier lifted the Reds and their franchise for a night at the center of the baseball world. As we left the park, we were yelling about being winners with other fans. I saw drunk people running down 5th & Vine street traffic giving high fives to cars. Cincinnati loves an All Star game.

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If this was Johnny Cueto’s last start as a Red, it was a beauty


There was no way Johnny Cueto was coming out of this game in the ninth inning. Not before, and not during. The Reds are showcasing the durability of their workhorse ace – 122 pitches later he shutout the Nationals in Washington and beat Max Scherzer soundly.

The Reds gave Cueto a little tribute tonight, staking him to five early runs. Cueto struck out eleven and walked one. It was an absolutely dominant performance.

It certainly seems like a forgone conclusion that the Reds will be supplying teams with some weaponry here soon, with Cueto headlining those names.

I remember Cueto’s first start ever – it was April 3rd, 2008 against the Arizona DiamondBacks in Cincinnati. He had similar stuff on that day, striking out ten and walking only one. The only hit he gave up that day was a sixth inning home run to Justin Upton. From right there I knew Cueto was a special international talent the Reds were lucky enough to grab somehow.

He’s gone 91-62 with 11 complete games and five shutouts in his career as a Red. He’s tallied 1106 strikeouts and just 385 walks. His ERA pitching half his starts in a bandbox is around 3.20, phenomenal.

These eight years that have passed by have went by all too quickly. You look back at the memories and realize that he’s probably the best Reds pitcher to wear the uniform in a couple of decades. As you think about the memories, you remember that night he pulled the muscle in his side in 2012 in San Francisco. You start thinking about ‘what if’. If he doesn’t, the Reds just might (and in our opinion) probably go to the World Series that year. The Giants flag that flies forever from 2012 should have belonged to the Reds.

Perhaps Cueto moves on elsewhere to get that postseason glory with another team – we have a feeling he will – and if he does good for him. He’s been a quiet guy that has stayed out of trouble and made headlines for the right reasons. A team shouldn’t really ever have to part with a Johnny Cueto but it’s just not in the Reds fortunes or pockets to be able to contain him. Baseball is still after all; a business.

Cueto doesn’t need us to eulogize him as a Red, he did that just fine tonight. It’s been a pleasure getting to watch this guy every fifth day and to see him pitch a handful of times in person. He’s the epitome of what an ‘ace’ is in baseball right now.

The Toddfather is at his Zenith


There just isn’t much to cheer about as a Reds fan right now. The Reds are playing out a string here in late June and in a season that they welcome the All Star Game, the team just seems so ‘blah’.

They dropped two games today, one the completion of a suspended game in 13 innings and the other becoming the first belt notch in Steven Matz’s career in Queens.

But there is Todd Frazier; the beacon of light. The Toddfather just hit his 25th homer of the year in the team’s 74th game. George Foster holds the record with 52 home runs which he hit in his MVP season of 1977. Right now, Frazier is in the hunt for this team record and 40 home runs seems a lock.

I have to admit, I always thought Frazier would have a few Aaron Boone type years where he showed flashes of first-round brilliance at the big league level. But I always saw Frazier as more of a secondary start to the Bruce’s and Votto’s of the world. Frazier at this point is completely leveling any expectation I had of him. Little league swing or not, the guy has a .978 OPS and is going to catch Giancarlo for the National League home run lead shortly.

He’s a good dude who goes about his game quietly, and he’s developed into a hell of a power hitter. That doesn’t go without salute in these parts. Plus, our wife loves him!