Tag Archives: Chris Heisey

When a Moment Can Change a Season

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I knew trailing 6-5 in the 9th, that if the Reds could get Joey Votto to the plate that they would win the ballgame.

All that needed to happen was Chris Heisey reaching base. By the way I had seen Votto going earlier in the day, it didn’t matter how hard Henry Rodriguez was throwing. His fastball was simply too straight to sneak past Votto three times with the bases loaded and the game on the line. And it was a big ballgame. The Reds again salvage a miracle contest on getaway day to improve their record to 10-1 in such contests.

For as many friends that want to text message me and tell me that “the Reds had no business winning this game,” I say in rebuttal that the Reds show what is at their core in these types of contests. Teams continue to let them off the hook in the final frame, and the Reds continue to scrap out tough wins that good teams find a way to win.

Now, I had no idea that Votto would hit a dramatic walk-off grand slam into the center field green off Rodriguez, but when he did it I knew in my heart that this was still Joey Votto’s team; and we are still watching one of the game’s finest hitters at work.

They were calling him ‘The Natural’ after the ballgame. And the Reds had the type of victory that salvages not only a series from a sweep but perhaps an entire season.

This wasn’t Joey Votto’s first county fair. In fact, he’s hit another big game-winning blast on another Mother’s Day. And that homer was also a defining moment in a special season of Reds baseball. Flash back to 2010, a day that many of you have probably forgotten. The Reds beat the Cubs that day a few years ago and then rolled to the division title.

Will 2012 have the a similar fate? I was just about to stop believing in my lofty prediction of a Reds NLCS appearance. And then Joey Votto put the Reds on his shoulders and told me not so fast.

It’s going to be a hot summer in Cincinnati, and things are just getting started.

Highlights:

Bryce Harper loses Bruce’s RBI double in the lights

JOEY VOTTO WALK-OFF GRAND SLAM

Votto hit two other home runs in this game. Here they are.

Heisey home-plate assist

Potpourri:

  • I thought that this post by Joe Posnanski on the struggles of Albert Pujols really captured my feelings on him. I don’t feel Pujols is ‘close’. I don’t feel that he’s going to come out of this anytime soon. In fact, I think he’ll do what Adam Dunn did last season. When I saw Pujols’ messy swings last night on Sunday Night Baseball, I felt the same as Posnanski. Albert is a mess right now, and it’s a long way out of this woods.
  • Thank you, Giancarlo Stanton.

10 Bold Predictions for 2012: The Cincinnati Reds make the NLCS

As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2012 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our fifth installment of this prediction series is that the Cincinnati Reds are one of two NLCS representatives in 2012.

There’s people out there that won’t want to believe me–but my wife will serve as my witness on this (she would NEVER lie for me). I have been talking about the 2012 Cincinnati Reds making a possible World Series run for several years now.

The night my wife will remember me saying it was when the outs were starting to melt away in that NLDS game three versus the Phillies back in 2010. As I sat there in the last row of the stadium with her, I said “we’re really going to get swept. It’s really going to end like this”. I was right. The Reds got shutout by Cole Hamels on a night when he had his best stuff. But I made a prediction I have felt so strongly about for so long.

“Mark my words, this team will be back. They’ll miss out on the playoffs in 2011 and then they’re going to come roaring back and go after the whole thing in 2012. That’s been the year all along: 2012″.

Now, because she’s a woman and things like that aren’t important to her she wouldn’t be able to recite my exact prediction. But she can attest to the fact that her husband has never felt more strongly about something happening in sports than the Cincinnati Reds impending 2012 run to the World Series. This is because I’ve also reminded her countless times over the last year.

And I’ve hedged my prediction some. I don’t think they’re going to the World Series. Our season predictions won’t go up until next week on this site but I still don’t fully know who this mystery opponent who will knock off the Reds in the 2012 NLCS will even be yet. But someone’s knocking them off. All I know is they’re going to get that far, and they’re not going to make the World Series. And I feel like it’s going to be in six games that the NLCS lasts. Just enough so that you have some hopes and dreams of the Reds really playing for the whole thing. But they’re going to fall tragically short like all of our heroes eventually do. And that’s because they’re my team. That’s why they’re not going to the World Series. But mark my words, before this thing gets completely blown up and the Reds nucleus as you know it is disbanded, they’re going to take you on a ride that you haven’t been on in a long, long time.

I love the make up of this roster. I think there are any number of players who could go from respectable Major League professionals to star pretty easily because they have the pedigree and I think they’ve got the ability to truly be more than solid. Many of these guys moved up through the minor league system together and have grown up as ballplayers together. The chemistry in this organization with this group of players is not overstated as it so often is around baseball. These guys like each-other and have a strong clubhouse. They’ve also all reached that ‘peak ‘and ‘prime’ age around the same time. When you get several guys who have career years together you see teams come out of nowhere and take off.

Last year was absolutely painful for my heart and huge hit to my mental health at times. Just writing on this blog each day was a challenge because I was lamenting the fact it was baseball season as the Reds floundered their way through 162. Sometimes in baseball that just happens. And sometimes in life things happen for a reason that you never come to understand. And the reason the Reds of 2011 were so bad was so that they could fly under the radar in 2012. The baseball Gods made me purge my joys last season so that it could be a summer long party in 2012.

Aside from the Reds being able to once again sneak up on some teams quietly–something they lacked the ability to do from game one in 2011–it’s been the perfect storm off-season with some of the things that have happened. Let’s examine some of the things that have taken place that are going to allow the Reds to make a run in 2012:

  1. Reds trade for Matt Latos. Alright, he’s not an ace in my opinion yet. But it’s another lottery ticket thrown in the raffle of guys who could be aces for the Reds. And I still see Cueto, Bailey, and now Latos as guys who could have that type of ‘stopper’ season for the Reds. Give me the ball on day five and let me go get you a ballgame and end this slide or keep this streak going.
  2. Albert Pujols leaves the Cardinals for the Angels. Why don’t you do me a favor, look up what Albert Pujols did against the Reds over his career (Actually, let me do that for you. 172 GP, .350, 46 HR, 143 RBI, 10 steals/zero caught stealing, 92 BB, 50 K’s, .430/.641/1.072). Look, I’ll miss seeing the guy’s pure talent a few times a summer, but let’s get serious I can do without him making me miserable in the form of game winning grand slams and such. AL West foes, you enjoy that.
  3. Prince Fielder signs with the Detroit Tigers. Maybe the second greatest offensive lethal weapon in the National League, and he’s leaving the NL Central too! Now this is just gravy. People forget he’ll just be 28 years old this season, he is in his prime years and he will still torture pitching staffs for about 4 or 5 more seasons before he’s ‘getting old’ or no matter how big that spare tire gets.
  4. Ryan Braun is suspended for PED use for 40 games. Yea. Shit. Damn you formality. This would have been the nail in the Brewers coffin, trust me. They lucked out here.
  5. Chris Carpenter is out 3 to 4 months with a bulging disk. Chris Carpenter scares me. He’s fiery, he eats innings, you can hang a few runs on him in the first inning of a game and then he one hits you the rest of the way. He’s the type of catalyst ace that few guys around the big leagues truly are. This is a huge void for the Cardinals. And I found out they’re going to Opening Day start Kyle Lohse. A man doesn’t deserve such a life of luxury folks. I am that man.
  6. Adam Wainwright returns from Tommy-John surgery.People want to talk about Wainwright being the sleeper of the year. Look, he’s good and I have no doubts he’ll return to his previous levels of performance. But give me one guy who came back and was his dominant old self his first half season back from Tommy-John surgery. There aren’t any. Reds luck out again here. I’m still warm and fuzzy inside with memories of that February day last year.
  7. Theo Epstein got his hands on the Cubs a bit too late. Theo will turn the Cubbies around but it’s going to take time. Are they still employing the likes of Ryan Dempster and Alfonso Soriano? Bryan LaHair at first base? It’s going to be a fun season of making fun of Cubs fans again.
  8. The Phillies are a mess. I expect a regression from Cliff Lee. Roy Halladay has been nothing if not touch and go this spring. Jimmy Rollins is getting old. Chase Utley is hurt. Ryan Howard is hurt. The Phillies do not scare me. Not in the slightest.
  9. The Reds sign Sean Marshall. This guy is like the nastiest lefty in baseball. He’s not gonna crap out like Ricky Rincon did when the Indians went out and tried to make a splash in getting a nasty lefty to bolster a great pen. He’s going to get first dibs on the closer role, and I think he’s going to have a fine audition.

I could keep going, but these are all things that have made it a wonderful off-season towards building my case for the Reds run to the 2012 NLCS.

We led off the prediction series by telling you that Jay Bruce was going to be the 2012 MVP. But now for some of the unheralded guys who will pay off huge for the Redlegs in 2012. Chris Heisey, Homer Bailey, Ryan Ludwick, and the rebound of guys like Scott Rolen and Drew Stubbs will pay off for the Reds. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto will play their usual role.

You look in the pen and the Reds have some serious firepower. Jose Arredondo is a year into his own Tommy-John recovery, and the Reds have Bill Bray, Nick Masset, Aroldis Chapman, Marshall, and some other very capable arms that will be down in that bullpen. They’re deep. Especially if Ryan Madson hadn’t gotten hurt. But we’re here to focus on why this prediction will come true.

The Reds are about to give you the finest season since 1990, if you can just make it until October. This is going to be the year and I want you to remember where you heard it. Just don’t expect too much ultimately. I’ll sign up for an NLCS run and take my chances from there right now.

Some photos from a May evening at Progressive Field

The following photos were taken May 20th, when the Reds opened up Interleague Play with the Indians in Cleveland with a 5-4 loss to the Tribe.

Right at our arrival the Reds were taking some BP before the game.

Look at the size at that Cleveland Polish Sausage! My goodness! This is one of the best deals in baseball. It’s like $6.75, and if you get one of these before the game you will not be hungry again for the rest of the game.

The toothbrush stadium lights can mean only one thing: you’re in Cleveland at The Jake, baby.

Alex White, 2009 1st round pick (15th overall) by the Tribe making one of three starts that he made in 2011. He got hurt in this start and hasn’t been back since.

A pretty good look at the outfield at Progressive Field. Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs are cast in this photo.

Bruce at bat against Alex White. He doubled off White and singled later in the game. He was the only Red with two hits on the evening.

This was a picture of the scoreboard and what was going on (shhhhhh) just moments before it was broken up by none other than……

Austin friggin’ Kearns. Hanging on, hanging around, average always below the Mendoza line but had enough left in him to get a huge hit against his former team and ruin Travis Wood’s no-hit bid.

Reds split doubleheader with Yankees

[Box Score - Game 1] [Box Score - Game 2]

The doubleheader with the New York Yankees wasn’t quite everything I wanted it to be and then some. The Brewers and Cardinals lost, so with a pair of wins the Reds had the rare chance to pick up 1.5 games on both of those teams. It didn’t happen.

Joey Votto and Jay Bruce picked up 2 hits combined in a full day of action. The Reds are playing such a frustrating brand of baseball right now.

To be honest, this group is stale on me. This group isn’t doing much for me. They need some overhauling. Walt needs to go out and add some power bats with some pop. I’m in favor of bringing up Zach Cozart from Louisville today to play some shortstop. But the Reds have got to trim the fat. They just have to.

Bruce and Votto have got to start compiling some numbers. This season is salting away. The Reds are one up and one down’ing me to death. Something has to give, I can’t be in limbo all summer. I’m not enjoying the ride as much as I did last year. I don’t need a pennant race for this to be enjoyable, I’ve decided.

Major props to Chris Heisey in the nightcap of the doubleheader, a game in which he hit three home runs to left field from the leadoff spot. I like Heisey a lot. I think he’s just about good enough to play every day. This game reminded me a lot of Jay Bruce’s 3 home run masterpiece last year against the Cubs.

Aside from Heisey’s big day, I love the way Johnny Cueto is throwing the baseball. I think the Reds are close to having a stopper, a bonafide #1. At least, as close as they’ve been in a long time to having a true shutdown guy. Cueto has been the brightest spot on this Reds squad this year. The one guy who you would have a hard time saying anything negative about. His ERA is down to 1.63 now. You just have to hope that he continues to stay consistent. Obviously, he’ll have an outing or two where he’s not as sharp. But if he can stay consistent he can really be the catalyst that leads this whole staff and pitches the Reds right into position to take a playoff spot.

Game 43, 2011: Pirates 5, Reds 0

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [PBC Blog]

About a week ago, I added Charlie Morton on my fantasy baseball team in my 19 team league. He had an ERA in the low 3’s, and four wins. I said what the Hell, I’ll pick him up and when the right spot comes along, I’ll spot start the guy. He’s shown flashes that he can shut a team down for games this season. He’s not a guy to build your staff around, but in the right spot he can give you solid innings and production. In a 19-team league, that’s all you’re looking for some nights.

When the Reds scratched Jay Bruce before the game due to illness, I knew last night was that night.

Another guy I had a feeling about was Pedro Alvarez. I had a feeling that he would do something big at Great American but I didn’t expect a 3-run home run. Sometimes you luck out, and sometimes it all falls into place.

My team lost and the 5-game winning streak is history. Charlie Morton threw a shutout for me, and Pedro Alvarez got only one hit. But sometimes if you have watched baseball long enough you just know the result before it plays out. I knew the Pirates were going to beat the Reds last night. If I were a richer man I would have bet some big time money on it. Just like today–the Reds play at 12:35–and they’ll win before going on the road for three games in Cleveland. I would bet anyone that Cueto is good again and the Reds get a big home run out of someone to win a tight ballgame.

There isn’t much to touch on as far as the Reds offense goes. Andrew Mccutchen made a couple of nice plays in center field and hit a rocket 2-run home run late in the game to really cement the sale for the Pirates. But the Reds got only five hits and the only rally to speak of was back to back hits by Chris Heisey (who was a pinch hitter once again) and Drew Stubbs. Of course, looking at the final score you realize it didn’t result in any runs.

It’s time for Jay Bruce to return to the lineup and get truly hot. We’ve all been waiting long enough. It’s pretty much a ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ moment for Bruce. He’s sitting on 8 home runs. The rest of the league leaders in the category are getting theirs right now. We really want to see Bruce in double digits by the end of the weekend. Keep the pace, and we would bet the Reds win 3 of the next 4.

We’ll see what happens. But another night in which the Reds belonged to their keeper Charlie Morton. He of Roy Halladay mechanics.

Game 42, 2011: Reds 7, Cubs 5

[Box Score]

Observations:

Another night in which it looked like all hope was lost, another comeback win. This time the Reds have won five in a row, and in thinking about it there just aren’t that many times during the course of a season in which a big league team can string wins together of five or more games. If you think about it, it might occur once, twice, maybe three or four times if you follow a really special team that can be particularly streaky.

I am growing a victory beard. I haven’t shaved since the Reds last lost. I had to trim it a little bit last night, but I’ve got a significant amount of peach fuzz going now. The Reds have two games left on this homestand in starting a two game tilt with the Pirates and Charlie Morton today, so hopefully they can make me head into the weekend with my fiance still complaining to “shave that thing”.

Last night was an ugly, ugly win. But to be honest, you’ll take it. All wins count the same. That’s something that’s tough for me to remember. I want to win and I want to win with big hits, home runs, and pounding out 14 hits with several extra base shots to the gap and into the seats. I guess that’s not baseball, it’s certainly not the way it was when I was a kid growing up. Offense is down, and sometimes you have to let a team come to you and manufacture runs.

Last night with the Reds trailing 5-3, they got a couple of guys on and Ryan Hanigan laid down a poor bunt in the 8th inning right back to Kerry Wood. Wood tried to cut down the lead runner heading to third base, and the ball was thrown up the third base line and the game was tied with Hanigan at third base and no one out. A batter later, Chris Heisey hit a hard sac fly to right field that allowed the Reds to take the lead 6-5, and Joey Votto would double home another run that put the Reds up 7-5.

Nick Masset entered in the 9th to give Coco Cordero the night off and collected his first save. The Reds had done it again. This is good because with the Cardinals sweeping the Phillies (who saw that coming?) they weren’t able to gain any games on the newly crowned NL Central leaders.

The Reds are heading to Cleveland this weekend and then to Philly to begin next week, so they’re going to have to earn their place at the top of the division in the week to come. But first, two home games against the Pirates that should serve as a couple of games to get everyone right.

Yes, Edinson Volquez started off the night by once again putting the Reds in a three run hole. But he ended up striking out 9 Chicago Cubs on the night and kept the Reds in the ballgame. When you think about it, if the Reds have luxury to treat him like a #5 starter instead of an ace, they’re probably in business.

Top Plays:

The two-run error heard round the world

Fred Lewis, leather-work

Another night, another big extra base hit for Joey Votto

Just another Gold Glove play out of Brandon Phillips

Potpourri:

-There was some confusion over this play involving Miguel Cairo that took place in the sixth inning.

-Here’s what Tony LaRussa had to say about Marty Brenneman’s most recent comments about pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Diamond Hoggers 80’s Song of the Game:


Game 37, 2011: Astros 4, Reds 3

[Box Score] [Cincinnati.com] [Crawfish Boxes]

The Reds finished off a road trip in which they went 4-2 yesterday with a loss to the Houston Astros. The Reds won’t go on a 9 out of 10 run this season to match last year’s pace at this time. When I went to leave work yesterday I forgot my glasses in my office, so when leaving around the 5:00 hour here in Ohio; Hunter Pence was at the plate and I had the game on the radio. When I returned to my car minutes later, the game was on commercial break. The mind of a baseball fan works quickly in those situations. So I knew that Mike Leake and the Reds either got out of the inning quickly, or the game was over. Considering that when I ran back up to my office Hunter Pence was at the plate with a man on base, and Mike Leake was on the bump rather than Francisco Cordero, I think I knew exactly what had happened before Marty Brenneman returned to the air to give the grim news to me. When he actually said it I grit my teeth for a minute, and it made rush hour that much more hard to bear. I immediately wanted to choke Mike Leake, that little worthless rat bastard.

My original hatred for the Astros stemmed long ago when they had guys on their team that could really hurt you. Guys like Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman, Oswalt, Pettite, Clemens, and so forth. I hated them more than I hate any other team in baseball. That hate still remains, and I hope they’re an after-thought forever. That said, it’s not as easy to hate them anymore because they really only have two guys that can hurt you on a regular basis now: Wandy Rodriguez, and Hunter Pence. Brett Wallace and Billy Hall don’t count. Both Wandy and Pence did their damage yesterday against the Reds.

Yesterday’s loss was an infliction from bad moves by the Reds manager, Dusty Baker. He did three things I didn’t like, that really set the Reds up for a loss on getaway day like he so often does.

I was surprised to see Jay Bruce get the start against Wandy Rodriguez. Bruce went out and did what I expected him to do yesterday, nothing. He went 1 for the series vs. the Astros with the one hit being a bomb. But I really thought that Dusty Baker sent a message in the wrong way when he decided to roll with Jay Bruce yesterday–but hit him 7th in the lineup. If you’re going to run Bruce out there against a guy who you know he doesn’t have good numbers against, display confidence in him. Protect him with someone in the lineup who might get him an extra fastball or two. In fact, do something out of the ordinary to get ordinary results against Wandy. Hit him 2nd. Hell, get really wild and hit him fourth. What does it matter? You’re just trying something anyways. But don’t hit him 7th, because that basically says without actually saying anything that you expect him to go out and go 0 for 4, which is exactly what happened. Bad lineups on getaway day often damn the Reds.

The second thing I had a problem with is seeing Johnny Gomes once again in left field. If you read this blog or my tweets enough, you know that I’ve seen enough of Johnny Gomes.

Here’s some stats for thought on Gomes via Lance Mcalister: Jonny Gomes hit 2 HR’s and drove in 6 runs in June 12 of last season to help the Reds beat the Kansas City Royals. After that game Gomes was hitting .307 with 9 HR and his 47 RBI tied him for the NL lead. Since that game: 125 games for Gomes, 495 plate appearances, 101 for 436 (.232), 15 HR, 46 RBI, 45 BB, 110 K, .295 OBP, .378 SLG, .673 OPS.

Chris Heisey was on the bench again, and later in the game he came off the bench to homer and cut the deficit to 3-2. I ask the question, why does Dusty get an annual hard-on for guys that help the Reds lose ballgames? Because he’s a player’s manager? Oh, it’s great for the players. But it’s rough on fans like me and you. In 2008, Corey Patterson was that guy. In 2009, Wily Taveras was that guy. Last year, I’m shocked that Gary Matthews Jr. wasn’t that guy. Now, it’s Johnny Gomes. Gomes starting over Heisey is a load of shit as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t care how great of a guy Johnny Gomes is or how much fun he is in the clubhouse. He’s killing the Reds, every at-bat and every night. A slow, painful death. And we’re going on a year now.

The third problem that I had was going with Mike Leake yesterday in the bottom of the 9th instead of Francisco Cordero. Why are the Reds forcing Mike Leake down our throat? Why can’t this guy spend some time attempting to develop in AAA Louisville? I don’t care that he was a first round pick. I don’t care if the organization likes his potential. What I see is a guy who lacks stuff. Especially stuff that allows you to survive in the 9th inning of a tie game on the road. That’s a situation where for as long as I’ve been watching baseball, you go to your closer. Dusty at least thought about it because Cordero was warming up before the inning. I’m sure he had some reason after the game that he went to Leake instead, and I don’t really care what it was. It was a bad reason. I have a feeling if Cordero was out there in the 9th, the Reds get one more chance to hit for the sweep.

I’ll be at the game tomorrow night, and of course today is an off day. I need the day to cool off I think.

Potpourri:

Found this post on FanGraphs as to why Aroldis Chapman is struggling:

It looks like [Chapman] is releasing his fastballs about six inches higher and closer to the center of the mound: so more over-the-top and less 3/4 delivery. Again this conclusion is hard to make without the actual release point, and because the Pitch F/x system is more noisy at the release-point end of the trajectory than the plate-location end. So I wanted to see if I could back it up with photographic support. It was hard to find pictures from the head-on angle, but it does look like he has a slightly more over-the-top delivery in 2011 than in 2010 and definitely more than in 2009 during the World Baseball Classic.

This suggests, though definitely not conclusively, that Chapman may have “lost” his release point. And it is possible that this “lost” release point plays a role in his huge walk rate.

Ugh.

Game 4, 2011: Reds 8, Astros 2

[Box Score]
[Cincinnati.com Reds Blog]

Observations:

Chris Heisey had a really nice ballgame, filling in for Jay Bruce (who we guess is still platooning against LHP for some really odd reason). Heisey only finished 1 for 2, but ended up with 3 RBI. I don’t like Jay Bruce sitting, not now or ever; but if you’re going to have a 4th outfielder Chris Heisey is right up there with the Alex Ochoa’s of the world in terms of 4th outfielders that I absolutely love everything about their game.

In a perfect world, I think Heisey is ready for the big time and playing every day in left field. Even though he’s continuing to be selective at the plate, Johnny Gomes can go pound sand. I think Heisey is better defensively, he’s better as an everyday young player, and just has that swagger. Let Gomes be the fourth outfielder. But Dusty does backwards-assed things; see Jay Bruce sitting in game four of the year so Gomes can play every day.

Drew Stubbs continued his good play and Joey Votto tacked on a few more hits. The Reds were on the Astros early and often, and they put the game out of reach so Mike Leake could really coast. And I know I give Mike Leake a hard time. But like Chris Heisey said after the game last night in so many words, it’s nice to have a roster of 25 guys who can contribute.

Another example would have been Miguel Cairo (Dusty loves subbing this guy all over the diamond) coming in for Brandon Phillips. Fear struck the Queen city when Phillips was taken out of the game without reason; but Baker was just getting a guy rest who he knows he’s going to need down the stretch. Heisey, Leake, Cairo; all guys who aren’t considered gem roster finds, but if you can have them they make up winning ballclubs.

And the Reds are 4-0 for the first time since that magical 1990 season. They’re playing so well right now defensively and offensively it is going to take something more than the Astros or a sub par team to get past them on a nightly basis.

It will be very interesting to see how Volquez throws tonight.

Top Plays:

Votto RBI double off J.A. Happ

Chris Heisey bullet to center-field

Paul Janish smooth at shortstop

Potpourri:

I found this last night while perusing the interwebs. I love scout-speak. Absolutely love it. Here’s what they said:

In a lineup with an unquestionable leader, N.L. MVP Joey Votto, the question that’s not so obvious is: Who is the Reds’ second-best regular?

For our answer, we turned to a veteran N.L. scout who sees a lot of the Central:

“It’s a close call but for the present, I’d have to say Phillips. He’s a Gold Glove defender, he plays every day and puts up the numbers. While he can rub some old-school guys wrong with some of the stuff he says, he does a lot of things right to impact a game.

“Bruce really hasn’t established himself yet except for those two months at the end of last season. That said, I consider him probably the best right fielder defensively in the National League right now. A strong, accurate arm and he gets to a lot of balls, more than Jayson Werth.

Offensively, he still gets into too many bad counts and the game can speed up on him sometimes. But he knows this and just has to get the experience to make it happen. He’s only 24. If he progresses as you’d hope, he could be similar to Votto in his production. Votto uses the whole field while Bruce can still get pull-happy at times. But he has a lot of upside.

“I don’t like putting Rolen this low because of everything he has contributed to this team off, as well as on, the field. But because of the injuries and where he is in his career, I put Phillips and Bruce ahead of him.

“Stubbs is another high-ceiling guy who’s not too far behind Bruce. They’re all going to strike out a lot. You’d just like to see them cut down to about 100 from 150.”

I could read that stuff all day long.