Tag Archives: Joey Votto

Cincinnati Reds 2014 Team Preview

One of the fastest to ever play the game.

One of the fastest to ever play the game.

Since that 2012 season ended and the Reds lost to the Giants in game five of the NLDS in Cincinnati after being up two games to zero on the eventual World Champion Giants, I have really been in a deep and dark depression as a Reds fan.

Some people might get really down on me for saying that – they’ll point to when the Reds were running out Jose Acevedo or Jimmy Haynes or Brandon Claussen as starting pitchers and were a losing team and tell me how good we have it now. How we’ve ‘made the playoffs’ three out of the last four years.

But there’s something that kills you about watching a team evolve from the abyss into what you know is a core’s window – and make no mistake – the last two seasons were the peak of this current group’s window. It didn’t ever hurt like that (like this) back when we were so horrible. It has taken me the entire offseason just to get some feeling back in me after the way we went out. To be fully honest, I’m still not over that 2012 afternoon that Buster Posey hit the grandslam off Mat Latos. I’ve never felt anything like that in a lifetime of watching sports. I don’t know if I’ll ever really get over it. It was like dealing with a death.

It’s made it increasingly tough to write about the Reds. Their passive offseason this year really did nothing to dispel that. If anything, it just made me a little bit apathetic towards their upcoming season. You look at their lineup, and there’s still some thunder. There are things you can find a positive in. If their pitching staff doesn’t have any injury, it features some phenomenal arms.

But this is largely the same group that couldn’t get it done the last few seasons. Something is missing. If I could tell you what that something was I would be doing a lot more than just writing about the Reds; it’s like the million-dollar question. I think the Reds needed Aroldis Chapman to develop into a top of the rotation starter that they could roll out in a must win game in the playoffs. A Randy Johnson type figure who the opposition knows is simply going to always beat them. Someone to get Mike Leake out of there. A lot of guys could close for this team. Few guys in the league strike fear into a lineup like Chapman could as a starter. But that’s never going to happen now.

Maybe that something is a real heart and soul leader. Someone who keeps Brandon Phillips in line. As much as I like Phililps, I’m starting to wonder if he’s not a little bit of a cancer in the locker room. I wouldn’t have cared if the Reds decided to part with him – but almost sheepishly they made the choice to bring him back. And along with that, they brought back the entire group that has failed to win the big one year after year. That’s concerning. You keep banging your head against the same wall long enough, all you’re going to get is a headache. The only thing different is the manager, and Bryan Price isn’t even a new voice. It’s not a shake-up. Everyone else got better, and at best the Reds stayed the same.

Continue reading

Baseball is Back

yasielspring022614

Today, baseball returned to the field (and there was only one collegiate team in play as an opponent).

The Reds beat their friends from around the Cuyahoga 8-3. Jay Bruce was back in right field. Joey Votto manned first base. Billy Hamilton hit lead-off and played centerfield.

Even though it was a long day at work, it seemed all was once again right with the world. Spring is on it’s way. There is a new hope arriving. As the sun shined during freezing temperatures outside today, something just felt different.

That Yasiel Puig guy went 2 for 3 as well.

Reds win in Los Angeles; Snap Dodgers 6-game winning streak

Jay+Bruce+HR21
[Box Score]

The Reds went into the Lions Den and came away with a victory, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 in Los Angeles. The win snapped the Dodgers six-game winning streak.

A true barometer of how good any Reds team is (especially at this point in the season) is how they fare on a west coast trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. That is a long trip across the country for the midwest Reds and in the past a pedestrian Reds team would commonly go 2-8 or 3-7 and then head home with their seasons really on the rails.

This year has been different so far. The Reds are now 4-1 on the current trip. Mat Latos picked up his 10th win of the season going 7 and 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking one. Aroldis Chapman got the save in the ninth, his 24th of the season.

The Reds broke the game open with Jay Bruce’s 21st home run of the season, a two-run shot to left center that sucked all the wind out of the crowd when it hit the bat. That’s how Bruce’s home runs have been this year on the road. I didn’t know it was gone off the bat because Dodger Stadium is so cavernous; but I heard what the crowd did and I knew how it looked sitting there live. It’s an impressive home run so make sure you watch it by clicking the hyperlink above. Bruce caught a hanging breaking ball from Zack Greinke – a guy he’s really struggled against in his career – and rode it out to one of the deepest parts of the park. It’s great to see Bruce continue to hit for power to this left center power alley.

Cho0, Votto, and Frazier had two hits each. Devin Mesoraco added a hit and he’s up to .261 on the season. It could be a great weekend for the Reds out in Los Angeles.

Worst Loss of the Season? Worst Loss of the Season.

Nothing makes me want to go play in traffic more than my team losing a ballgame this way. But as the texts and complaints and misery rolled in to my cell phone from my friends who are fellow Reds fans, all I could think about is this is the game of baseball biting the Reds in the ass because they were forced to try to win a game by this nature. This is what happens when you squander opportunities. You leave yourselves open to this shit when you hit Zach Cozart second.

It really is a game of inches. And Carlos Gomez seized the moment as he’s seized it all damn season. And the Baseball Gods are strict accountants.

Hit with RISP or get a clutch hit before there are two outs in the ninth and you won’t lose this way. No, it doesn’t make it hurt any less. No, it didn’t make getting up for work any easier this morning. But in my older and wiser age I realize that my boys die by the same sword that damns everyone who fails time and again to capitalize on opportunities the game presents to them. And that’s baseball

A PERFECT Summer Night at Great American Ball Park

100_0312

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

Last night was a fun game that I attended with some guys from work, and it featured a little bit of something for everyone. The highlight of the night was this majestic opposite-field blast from Jay Bruce, his 13th home run on the season:

And that wasn’t the only long ball we saw. Zach Cozart and Todd Frazier had upper deck jobs (I missed Frazier’s because I was grabbing a beer for my buddy) and Joey Votto snuck one out the other way.

I also loved Starling Marte’s unreal catch to rob Brandon Phillips of extra bases – at least – you could say I ‘appreciated’ it.

100_0294

I’ve never really taken a shot of the Great American Insurance building behind the park. Here it is in all of it’s glory.

100_0302

Bruce warming up before the start of an inning. And I think the kid on the right field line who warms him up every inning *might* be the nephew of Walt Jocketty or Bob Castellini. Something is up with this kid. He throws worse than a woman. He is scared to death of the ball. Anything thrown his way where Bruce puts anything on the ball and the kid looks like he wants to run out of the way and allow a fan to take the brunt of it. He short-hopped Bruce multiple times. He is a special brand of hideous.

You are a big league team; and that’s the best you can do with a ball boy? Something is rotten in Denmark with this.

100_0298

Here’s Andrew McCutchen. Love watching the guy play. He did his thing with a couple of line drives for base hits, and took his usual bean ball to the middle of the back later in the game.

100_0295

“Strikeouts for LaRosa’s” is new at the ball park this year. It’s a deal where you get a free small LaRosa’s pizza when Reds pitchers strike out 11 hitters or more in a game. The Reds didn’t give anyone strikeout pizza last night but that’s okay because I’m on a diet and LaRosa’s is kind of overrated. It’s like the Cincinnati equivalent of Donato’s.

100_0310

We had fourth-row seats out in right field behind our version of The Mick. It was a great night for a ballgame. I’ve sat in a lot worse then mid-80 degree heat and all night the weather stayed clear.

100_0311

And any perfect night at the park is capped off with Aroldis Chapman coming into the game throwing 99 MPH heat, and ended with him striking out a hitter with a 101 MPH fastball. He also threw inside on Neil Walker before striking him out in absolutely demeaning fashion.

Game 70, 2013: Reds 5, Brewers 1

Jay+Bruce+HR12

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

Let’s start the post with the most glorious part of the day: Jay Bruce’s 443-foot moonshot. It was his 12th home run of the season. It came off a 3-0 count from Wily Peralta. Bruce had himself a nice little weekend. A walk-off home run on Friday night. A 2 for 3 day with a walk in a game where no one on the Reds hit on Saturday. And then this bomb today. When Bruce is going like he is going right now, it’s a good idea to just let him go. I would like to know whether or not the call to let him green light on 3 and 0 came from Dusty or from Bruce himself. Either way, I said to myself when he was in that count that it was a perfect time to let him try and hit one into the sun deck. By the time I finished the thought, the ball was ricocheting off the facade of the entrance way to a section of the ball park that few home runs are hit.

And we go back to the thought we had coming home from work Friday while sitting in traffic:

When Jay Bruce is at home, and he’s facing fastball dependent right-handed pitching, AND that opposing team happens to be the Brewers; something good is bound to happen. And it did this weekend.

We’ve still got some time until the All-Star break, and Bruce has an opportunity to play his way into a spot if he can just stay hot. The average sits at .283, with 12 homers and a quiet 47 RBI. He’s having a nice little season that with a few breaks could end up a career year.

But let’s not make this all about Jay Bruce. Zach Cozart and Joey Votto added two hits each. Johnny Cueto had the most Cueto outing ever. He improved to 4-0 on the season, allowing only one run while striking out three and walking no one in six innings. The Reds moved to 42-28 on father’s day, and gained a game in the NL Central standings on the Cardinals. They’re 2.5 back, and something tells me they’re not going to go away this year.

Reds Respond with a Huge Saturday Night Win over Cardinals

Jay Bruce

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I missed a lot of this game for date night, but I returned home for the climactic ending. And thus brings another point, FOX has gone and pulled a fast one that we actually like. I believe FOX did Saturday Night Baseball (aka Baseball Night in America) telecasts last year, but now they’re a regularly scheduled item.

While I miss the afternoon Saturday telecasts, I believe this is good for the game. And FOX is dressing things up by designing this fancy little logo which can be nothing more than a spin off of what the NFL has done with it’s big Sunday Football Night in America telecasts.

359540777_640

The Reds got into a 1-0 hole early. And then the texts started to flow in. Several friends while I was at dinner with ‘BRUUUUUUUUUCE’ texts. And by now I know what that means. Jay Bruce had hit his 10th home run of the season to tie the game at 1-1.

It was arguably the best team win of the year. Mat Latos did his thing in a game the Reds had to have and improved to 6-0. Shin Soo Choo, Derrick Robinson, Joey Votto, Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco all had two hits each. Bruce added what may or may not have been a home run saving catch. You be the judge:

brucecatchgif

The game came to a close on a controversial call, with Aroldis Chapman getting the save after Joey Votto appeared to pull his foot on a Todd Frazier throw. We’ll take it!

The win left the Reds three games behind the Cardinals entering the big Sunday Night Baseball showdown on ESPN.

The Memorial Day that Belonged to Joey Votto and the Reds

vottomemday

I’ve been to what seems like hundreds of baseball games. After being at today’s Indians-Reds game, I’ll never forget the Memorial Day game-winning home run that I saw a future Hall of Famer hit with my wife and our two friends (unfortunate for them, they are Indians fans).

Take a look at the home run and the context of it so you can gain a full appreciation of how incredible it really was.

I got texts after Votto hit the home run that he was actually choked up off the knob of the bat. He hit it into the opposite field stands – something he does often but isn’t appreciated enough. He hit it off a left-handed reliever. And of course, as soon as it left the bat you knew that the hometown team was going to win the ballgame. It wasn’t a walk-off shot, but teams don’t come back from the kind of home run that Votto hit earlier today. It was the baseball equivalent of the dagger. Every Indians fan in the park knew it.

For all the talk of prospects and Trouts and Cabrera’s and Harper’s and players around baseball, the Reds have one of the best two or three in the entire game playing at their park and he’s going to be there for another decade.

It felt like about 95 degrees in the right field Sun Deck today and I thought we were going to be sitting there a while after Jason Giambi demolished this ball off the centerfield batter’s eye to tie the game 2-2.

So the pools are all open. Memorial Day happened. Summer is here. I saw the Redlegs win 4-2 today, and 5-2 on Saturday with my wife, dad and sister.

The lasting image that will stay with me from the weekend was Joey Votto in that cool camouflage uniform, leaving another opponent in his wake.

One of the most entertaining games I’ve ever attended

100_0208

[Box Score]

First off, in this game there were six home runs hit. Five of them were by the Nationals.

Now that’s exciting, because most games you attend don’t feature six home runs in today’s game. Great American ballpark played like Great American. Even my wife said the game was exciting and made it through three hours and thirty minutes of baseball with a fair amount of whooping and hollering.

For a recap on the rest of the day and more photos, click through the jump.
Continue reading

The Watch Report: Cincinnati Reds Opening Day

iannetta

Who had Chris Iannetta in the Opening Day hero pool?

[Angels 3, Reds 1]

This was actually my first Opening Day that I haven’t been in the stands in Cincinnati since Joe Randa and Adam Dunn went back to back to walk off the Mets back in 2005. That’s a lot of Opening Days that I strung together. I doubt I ever make it back to that many consecutive Opening Days. I’m satisfied with the streak I put together. I’ve seen some unbelievable openers in the Queen City. From Randa’s walk-off, to Ramon Hernandez’s walk-off grand slam, to last year’s Cueto masterpiece with Bruce’s moonshot to seal it shut.

Here’s some notes from today’s ballgame, which was a long one.

  • The Reds really didn’t hit all spring long, and they didn’t hit today. Jay Bruce wore a golden sombrero in the middle of the order. Joey Votto went 0 for 4 but at least drew a few walks.
  • Shin-Soo Choo had two hits and Todd Frazier had one. And that’s all the Reds offense tallied. There weren’t even any hard hit balls.
  • Of the Angels fearsome three, Mike Trout was the only one with a hit. Trout went 1 for 6, Pujols and Hamilton went 0 for 4.
  • Chris Iannetta was the hero in this one, hitting a solo home run and doubling in the top of the 13th inning with two outs off J.J. Hoover.
  • The Angels pen just earned this game, though I would give it to the lack of Reds hitting. After Jered Weaver exited, six Angels relievers combined for seven scoreless innings. Ernesto Frieri was the final one and he earned the save.
  • I’m not too upset with this game. The Angels are a World Series contender, and the Reds are going to hit at some point. It hurts that they’ll miss Ryan Ludwick for the better part of a month with separated shoulder.
  • How could I forget Johnny Cueto. I feel like for the last year and a half, if you’ve seen Cueto throw once you’ve seen the same solid, dependable game. I love the effort this guy always brings to the mound with him.

Here’s some running total stats from today’s game, and from my most recent watched game:

Home Runs: 1 (Chris Iannetta 1)
Strikeouts: 30
Runs: 4
Hits: 9
Errors: 4
Stolen bases: none
Official time watching baseball: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 2
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): one half

EDIT: I watched about two innings out of the Rockies Brewers game today, I watched Chris Sale’s entire start on and off, and I watched about five innings out of the Phillies-Braves game today. I’m not going to count it, because my totals aren’t exact. And I’m honestly ready to abandon the 2000-Inning Quest after just a night and a day. It’s too damn tedious. But still I press onward to go where no idiot has ever gone before.

STATS during the 2000-Inning Quest:

Home Runs: 4
Bryce Harper home runs: 2
Strikeouts: 59
Runs: 16
Hits: 31
Errors: 5
Stolen bases: NONE
Official time watching baseball: 9 hours, 55 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 6
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): .5
Innings left to go: 1,969

Cincinnati Reds 2013 Team Preview

Jay+Bruce

If you want me to be 100% honest, I thought it was the Reds year last year. I truly thought after they won the first two games of the NLDS in San Francisco that this team was headed to the World Series. The Reds were going to do one better than my prediction I made before the season of just reaching the NLCS; they were actually going to win the NL pennant and give themselves a shot at the first Cincinnati World Title since 1990 when I was eight years old.

The Reds completely broke my heart when they collapsed. Truth be told, I’m still not recovered from it. While I’m excited for  baseball season, I don’t necessarily think that this team in this window will ever be any better positioned to win it all. You can tell me that I’m wrong, and you can tell me that they’re better for the experience they gained and all that. My opinion is the Reds missed a golden opportunity to win it all last year and will never have a better opportunity.

The American League as a whole was suspect last season and I knew at the time that the hot team from the National League would probably win it. At first glance that team looked to be the Reds. Then Johnny Cueto got hurt. Then the Reds couldn’t make a few plays when Homer Bailey threw the gem that should have ended the series. Then the Reds had to throw Leake and throw away game four. Then in game five, Buster Posey drove a stake in my heart that will never be removed.

With that, I decided that I’ll never again believe it’s going to happen until the moment actually arrives. I am forever skeptical; forever jaded. There is no such thing as ‘we’re going to win the whole damn thing’ before we do it as I declared last year on Opening Day. Not this year. You have to prove it to me now.

Major Off-Season Moves:

  • Signed Jack Hannahan
  • Traded for Shin-Soo Choo
  • Re-signed Ryan Ludwick
  • Re-signed Jonathan Broxton
  • Re-signed Manager Dusty Baker

I know this team so well it’s scary sometimes. When I wake up in the morning during the season and the Reds have a game on their schedule, I know if they’re going to win or lose 95% of the time before the game is even played. I still watch and see the results play out. But at the end of things when the final out is recorded, I usually had a pulse of how things were going to go. My wife sometimes asks me why I don’t just smell the roses when following this team. Why don’t I just enjoy things a little bit more? I wish it were that easy. When this much passion gets involved; when you want something so badly, you can’t help but expect the zenith.

I want that damn trophy at the end of the year. There’s no reason that this group in this era shouldn’t win a title. They’re as good as anyone in the league right now. Everyone has their breaks, their weak spots, their bad luck; it’s time to go out and get it done. Anything less is considered an absolute failure. And if and when that happens I can’t help but be completely exasperated, usually after an emotional explosion.

Here’s a look at yours and my 2013 Cincinnati Reds after the jump. Continue reading

The Scope Heard ‘Round the World

All spring and summer long I never worried about the Reds. Even at low points, they had what many consider to be the best hitter in baseball and a great pitching staff. Nice complimentary pieces in their prime. It’s just time. The Reds would cruise to an NL Central Division championship in 2012 if for no other reason than because everything had fallen so nicely into place this season.

I felt that way into Monday morning when the news broke that Joey Votto was going to have ‘minor’ knee surgery. Then as my mind started to wander about the statement, I realized there is no such thing as a ‘minor’ knee surgery unless it’s a winter month. When you’re the best hitter in baseball and your organization is in the middle of the most important season they’ve been involved in in some 20 years, there’s nothing minor about it.

The Reds are saying it will be three weeks. I would bet you that on the inside where we aren’t allowed, among those that are closest to Votto like his teammates and some within the organization; the truth lies somewhere closer to 4 to 6 weeks. And at this point who really knows when we can expect back a full-strength Joey Votto?

All bets off. All plans on hold. All the wonderful things we promised you all along suddenly go away. The last half of your Cincinnati Reds summer will be a frustrating dog fight that features a lot of one-up, one-down on a night to night basis.

If the Reds are going to win the division, they’ll need to do it with a September push now. By my calculations they’ll get as many as three or four games behind and need to do it via the comeback in the final two weeks. No clinch before Bengals season. I said all along that I actually do buy the Pirates. They’re pesky enough to make this thing interesting until the end. Andrew McCutchen is that good. And losing out on a division title to the Pittsburgh Pirates is the type of thing my sports teams do.

I stayed away from the topic for a few days because it upset my stomach. I really don’t want to talk about it much, and I feel like the one thing that could have jinxed this team happened. I feel irresponsible for running my mouth about running away with the division now. If there was ever a time for Jay Bruce to go all May 2011 on us and save an entire fan base, that time is right now. Jay, please.

Reds fans, prepare yourselves. You’re in for the ride of your life one way or another.

It’s Midsummer Classic Time

In my entire life, even as a kid; I’ve never looked forward to an MLB All-Star Game like the 2012 version that takes place tonight.

It’s a ‘who’s-who’, a ‘gang’s all here’ shot of some of my favorite figures of the past and present in the game of baseball. One of my childhood favorites Chipper Jones to Adam Dunn, into Josh Hamilton and Jay Bruce. Joey Votto, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Trout and the cherry on top was Bryce Harper. There’s never been so many of my favorite players involved in this game before. The closest I can remember was around the time in my life that I was still cutting the league batting leaders out of the Sunday paper and pinning them to a wall in my room. My mother hated that. It was tacky.

Baseball has a way of quietly bridging time and eras perhaps more than any other sport. Maybe tonight when there’s some down time in the dugout, Larry Wayne Jones will find some time to talk to Bryce (Aron) Max Harper. They could talk about Chipper’s first All-Star Game in 1996. He was the game’s young buck then, as opposed to being the game’s artifact that he is now. With all the big names that were involved in that game (and its virtually every slugger you can remember from the era) the game’s artifact that night might have been Ozzie Smith. He was 41 years old and playing in his final season. Ozzie played back in the late 70′s.

Baseball is amazing in that; I imagine if these guys sat around as a group and shot the shit long enough they would know someone who knew someone who played against Babe Ruth.

Take Adam Dunn for instance. Dating back to my high school years when I was still worried about proms and such (scary to think about that a ballplayer could bridge the gap from that era to fatherhood) I thought Dunn would pile up the All-Star selections. That’s what I read in a few different magazines when scouts talked about Dunn. He made his first All Star Game in 2002 in Milwaukee because he hit .300 on the nose the first half of that season. I don’t know how he did it, but I remember back then that Adam Dunn was a complete hitter. People thought he would hit .300 for the next decade and end up a Hall of Fame player. Dunn flew out to the track that night, barely missing a home run that would have saved Bud Selig from a lifetime gaffe. Dunn couldn’t leave the hero that night, but no matter. He would have a run of All Star appearances and MVP trophies awaiting him.

Fast forward to now. Tonight’s game is just the second of The Big Donkey’s career. We’re both on the wrong side of our prime now, Adam. But I’m still thrilled to see that he made it back. Maybe Jay Bruce ends up being that Reds outfielder who piles up the All Star selections. If you had told me when Joey Votto broke into the big leagues that he would end up the perennial MVP and guy who lead the league in votes and not Dunner, I would have laughed. Dunn, Bruce, and Votto all appeared in the same lineup in a different space and time. Oh and they shared time being a teammate of Ken Griffey Jr., tell me those guys don’t already have some great stories to tell.

It really all goes back to the youth infusion involved in this game. That’s what excites me. I love greatness, particularly at a young age. For Trout and Harper to each be part of this storied ballgame, it’s just really special. While interleague play has taken away from some of the mystique, you can’t tell me that the possibility of Harper going toe to toe with Chris Sale or Felix Hernandez for one AB doesn’t sound exciting. How about Mike Trout against Aroldis Chapman?

People who want to pretend this is a meaningless exhibition game need to know that it’s the finest All-Star game of any of the professional leagues. It’s a time honored tradition. One that takes you back to those summers in your yard with the neighborhood crew when you spent an entire day playing backyard ball and arguing about how Junior or Jay Buhner would fare against Hideo Nomo or Greg Maddux. The characters of the story are different now and we can’t have those old memorable times back.

The bottom line is we’re likely to learn which side of the league the World Series Winner comes from (21 of the last 28 World Champions have had home-field advantage in October) and we’re likely to see something memorable.

Plus you may want to someday tell your unborn son that you were watching the night that Chipper and Harper sat in the same dugout together. He won’t believe you.