Tag Archives: Mike Leake

We saw Bryce Harper destroy Mike Leake live; it couldn’t have happened to a better guy

It’s always been on my sports bucket list to see Bryce Harper hit a home run live while I was at the park. Just 144 career games and 25 home runs into his big league career, I can cross it off my list.

It never would have been made possible without the help of Mike Leake. Mike, we salute you. Also, some scout somewhere should be fired for giving Reds his blessing to draft this kid in the first round. The way bats were connecting with Leake’s pitches today–and every day that he throws–it is painfully obvious the Reds are never going to get much of a return on this guy. Scouts are wrong all of the time, and they were wrong on Leake.

But this post is not about when the scouts were wrong, it’s about a guy whom they were so right about. He goes by the nicknames ‘Bam Bam’ and ‘Mondo’. He did not disappoint today. And I mean really, are there any two guys more different in ability than Leake and Harper? I don’t think Mike Leake could beat Harper in anything, even theft. And Mike Leake is damn good at theft.

Full report coming on this game sometime tomorrow, but we’ve got to catch some sleep. We’re catching a ride back to Cincinnati in the morning to see Strasburg pitch. And just maybe there will be more to add to the section of the blog where Harper tasers some poor, unsuspecting righty like Leake.

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

10 Bold Predictions for 2013: Aroldis Chapman leads the majors in saves

2013-03-18 10.58.30

As part of our preview for the upcoming 2013 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2013 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our second prediction: Aroldis Chapman leads the Major Leagues in saves.

Full disclosure:  I had this idea written out a week ago for 2013 bold predictions before Aroldis Chapman stated that he would prefer to be a closer.

Aroldis Chapman throws the baseball 100 mph.  That’s what he does best.  His fastball is utterly dominant.  He could certainly be a great starter.  The problem with Chapman is that his secondary pitches – the change up and breaking ball just aren’t up to snuff yet.  It’s much easier to step in for one inning and blow by hitters when the previous pitcher was “only” touching 91 or 92 than to consistently turn over a lineup without more pitches that you can get batters out with.  After the first time through the lineup, hitters adjust and most guys can catch up to 100 mph heat.  That will be a problem and will be more of a problem the more hitters see him and are able to adjust to the speed.  There are reports that he is working on a cutter and he does have a pretty good slider, but that’s not quite enough.  The fastball/slider combo is classic closer stuff.

I’m not about to argue that Chapman as a great closer would be more valuable than Chapman as a great starter.  Starters are much more valuable throwing 200 IP than a closer throwing 70 IP.  That isn’t in doubt.  If Chapman was clearly relatively ranked as a starter as his is as a closer, then it’s truly a no brainer.  Walt Jocketty knows this and that’s why he is adamant about letting the experiment play out.  The WAR for great starters is always higher than great closers.  For example, Mariano Rivera is the best closer of all-time, but his career WAR is still roughly the same as Andy Pettitte – a great pitcher, but no where near the best ever.

The other kink in the decision is the success that the other prospective 5th starter, Mike Leake, is having during spring.  Think about this.  Are the Reds better with Chapman closing and Leake in the 5th spot or Chapman at the 5th spot and Leake in middle/long relief.  I think the answer is easily with Chapman in the bullpen.  There will likely not be much scoring in the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning with Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, and Chapman back there.  Back to the days of the Nasty Boys.

Final prediction for Chapman’s season.  76 IP, 1.25 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 47 saves.

Get me (us) this game today, and I’ll never speak ill of you again

Mike Leake firmly entrenched himself on my shit list long ago. Mistreatment of the fan base, flippant attitude, and then the whole stealing merchandise from Macy’s incident helped to earn him the coveted spot as my least favorite Cincinnati Red. Not to mention he’s the only pro athlete who has ever actually blocked me on twitter!

But I come offering an olive branch of sorts. I’m willing to forever bury the hatchet. If Mike Leake can just win today’s game–you all have my WORD (strong as an oak) that I’ll never say another bad word about the guy for as long as I live.

Save us from a game five; Mike. Save me from another sleepless night. I need you right now. We all need you. Get this game for us today, and all is forever forgiven old buddy.

Game 20, 2012: Reds Spirited comeback Falls Short

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Redleg Nation] [Better Off Red] [Crawfish Boxes] [Houston Chronicle] [Hal McCoy]

This was one of those rare games of which I did not see a single pitch. We had an NFL Draft party at our house, and when I got the alert on my iPhone that the Reds were down 6-0, I didn’t even bother flipping the game over to check the score.

This team is just flat-out not getting it done right now. There’s no mixing words and no other way to describe it. Mike Leake came out and got hammered around the yard again.

The Reds fought back with a spirited abandon. And I got several text messages about Scott Rolen hitting four balls directly on the screws and going 0 for 4. The comeback died in the 9th, but I think the four unanswered (along with what sounds like it could have been a lot more) bode well for us heading into the weekend.

Wandy Rodriguez continued what has been a career of success against the Reds. Six innings, two earned runs, six strikeouts. He’s got two wins and a 1.72 ERA now. And the Reds are just a game ahead of the putrid Astros.

I’m not fully blaming Dusty Baker–even though he says and does stupid things–but the Reds have got to show some response here soon and play hard for the guy. This is more of what we saw last year. And what is Baker doing hitting Jay Bruce 7th in this lineup? I don’t care if it’s a left-handed pitcher. It’s stupidity. Bruce has OPS’d almost at as high of a clip against southpaws. This is a manager not reviewing his data closely enough.

We’re headed to the ballpark today, and I am very confident we’ll see a win and the Reds will close out this series with two in a row over Houston. I’ve never been more sure in fact. Johnny Cueto is on the bump, and the Astros oppose with a guy I think the Reds will absolutely eat alive.

Highlights:

Wandy Rodriguez continues his mastery of the Reds

Todd Frazier RBI triple

Jay Bruce homers (5) to center field in the 9th inning

Devin Mesoraco goes back-to-back

Our First Wrigley Field Trip

I finally made it to Wrigley Field. It took me nearly 30 years in my life to make the trek some 6 hours and 15 seconds north, but I made it. It didn’t matter that I saw my Reds lose 6-1 in front of a crowd of 38,405.

It was the number one thing on my bucket list. As I looked up into the sky this past Saturday afternoon, I could have died right there a happy man. Here is the story of my day in Wrigleyville. And to think I was in Chicago the day Phil Humber threw his perfect game.

This was moments after my first view of the Wrigley Field marquee. I know I was acting like a child because our friends that live in Wrigleyville were laughing at me. I snapped a bunch of pictures and basically acted like most first timers probably do. Actually, maybe more excessive than that. But there’s no words to describe what I felt when I first saw it.

All I know is I’ve wanted to be at this spot for as long as I can remember. I first remembered seeing it in the intro to “Perfect Strangers”.

We decided to post up at the Cubby Bear. We had about an hour and half to kill, and there’s nothing better than drinking a few cold 312’s across from Wrigley Field with it in plain view out the window. As for the Cubby Bear, there were a fair amount of Reds fans on hand doing the same thing. Also, the best chilli I’ve ever had in my life; including Skyline. Sorry Cincinnati. It’s true.

Another full on view of the marquee just before we were ready to head inside.

This is a giant macaroni noodle. It’s significance is unknown by me at the present time, but I’m guessing Wrigley owns Kraft or something like that? Or there’s some type of long-standing partnership existing. It’s just cool and others were taking pictures of it so I made like the tourist I was and decided to get it before I dug into the meat and potatoes of the stadium.

Check out these old timers playing brass instruments outside the stadium before you enter the park! Now this is a ballpark!

When I went inside, I told my wife the first thing we were doing is heading to the Bartman seat. If Wrigley Field was bucket list item numero uno, this was easily 1a. More on this to come in the following post, but I can cross off Steve Bartman’s seat off my list as well.

This is about the moment I kept saying to my wife “can you even believe we’re really here?” I guess it’s one of those moments every die-hard baseball fan who reads this blog can relate to. Wrigley Field is unlike any other ballpark on this earth. This little Midwestern gem sits in the middle of a neighborhood. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in Chicago and be able to walk over to the game some weekend afternoon. There’s probably a good reason I wasn’t born into that position, because I would find myself doing it far too often.

I continually found myself taking in each moment slowly, trying to savor it all. Suddenly I realized yet another different quality than I had at any other park I’ve been to. There was a song playing, but it was all by the organ. It was beautiful. And I knew the song but I just couldn’t think of it. As I looked around at everything I’ve waited three decades to see, I had to guess the song. It was Whitney Houston’s “Dance with Somebody”. I don’t think I ever enjoyed the regular rendition that much.

There she is folks, the beauty in all of her glory. Look how green the ivy is.

Pretty good view of the left field Wrigley rooftop with ‘Hey Hey’ on the left field foul pole. Someday I’ll be back to sit in those bleachers where Sammy used to hit em’.

Just another shot from around Bartman central that I had to have.

Here’s something else that makes it an old-time ballpark. I imagine I looked pretty weird snapping a picture while taking a leak, but oh well. I had to do this to give you an idea of the full experience. The next thing I knew I was thinking about the guy who did the Pete Rose headfirst slide in one of these a few years back. At least I’m not him.

Just another pregame shot of beautiful Wrigley. It was a cool day but the sun was shining.

Check out the old style rafters above, as well as the pillar built into the seats. It’s different from the stadiums that go up today, but that’s what gives all the character. I’m told there’s something else different about this stadium than other parks. The visitors clubhouse isn’t down below the dugout like most parks but above where you see right here. I never knew that until a fan who had done a Wrigley tour shared that with me as I was taking this picture.

Here’s the right field Wrigley rooftops. Free advertisement here, someday I’ll be checking out Wrigleyrooftops.com and setting up a game from there. I hear it’s $120 for all you can eat and drink. It might have came in handy for us on this day.

One of my favorite shots of the entire day.

There’s the legendary manually operated scoreboard in deep center field. And it keeps accurate time!

Waiting for the game to start, little did I know that the Reds weren’t going to be hunting for a sweep come Sunday at this point.

I ended up sneaking down a little closer (and in the sunlight) for the first inning to get some good pictures. It was amazing how friendly all of the fans in the stands were to us. I attribute this to the Cubs just not being competitive for so long. The people don’t feel threatened. They’re just die-hard baseball fans. Knowledgeable. There to take in the atmosphere just like me.

And here’s Downthelinerooftop.com, in case you want to sit in the rooftops in foul territory.

To think we live such a life in such a place. That’s Joey Votto running and warming up on the field by the way.

Paul Maholm seems to have the Reds number. And when I showed up at the park wearing my Jay Bruce jersey, I was upset to find that Dusty held Bruce out of the lineup because he was 2 for 15 lifetime against Maholm. What he needed to be told was that I came all the way from Ohio to see a Bruce Bomb at Wrigley Field, and Jay’s two hits off Maholm lifetime were both dingers.

Votto getting ready for his first inning at-bat. It was a long day for Joey. It seems like he homers every time my wife and I are at the park together. It wasn’t meant to be on this day. Votto went 0 for 3 with a walk and a couple of strikeouts.

Future Reds Hall of Famer at the plate.

And again. My wife and I don’t do shots anymore. We stopped doing that a long time ago. But I told her I bet her that Joey Votto would go deep today. She said not going to happen. I told her if it happens, we’re doing shots after the game, my choice. Joey saved her from a hangover.

Mike Leake, little do you know you’re about to get pounded all afternoon, Wrigley Field style. I don’t like Leake’s stuff one bit. After 10 hits and five earned runs over 5 and 1/3, Leake would hit the showers. He just wasn’t fooling anyone.

Here’s the main attraction for the Cubbies, Starlin Castro. He had a couple of knocks and added a triple.

I think Starlin Castro is going to have an Alex Rodriguez type of career in Cubbie land.

Dan Patrick sung the seventh inning stretch. One of my favorite pictures of the entire day.

Carlos Marmol is one of my fantasy baseball closers. I like his tools and his skills a lot. He has great stuff. The one thing I disregarded is that Marmol isn’t going to save a lot of games this year. The Cubs aren’t going to win a lot of games, and even in this appearance it was a non-save opportunity. He’s still one of my favorite pitchers in baseball and I got to see him in the 9th on the mound at Wrigley. Unfortunately my team was butter to his hot knife.

Get ready, Reds. Carlos Marmol is gonna send them home happy with their fourth win of the young season.

And Marmol was dealing. If you got up to go to the bathroom like my wife did, you would have missed Marmol’s 13 pitches altogether. Guy was pitching like he was double-parked. And he quickly dispersed of three Reds hitters in order to seal the win down, dismissing thousands of Cubs fans to their afternoon date with a local watering hole of their choice.

Here’s one last look at Wrigley Field from behind home plate before I exited the turnstiles. What a day. What an experience. I don’t know how long it will be until I return, but I will be back.

We finished up the afternoon over at Murphy’s Bleachers bar. Which should be a whole new post all in itself. There I met a couple of salesmen Reds fans from Iowa, a bridal party–and the brother was on hand said he was really good friends with Patrick Kane. I met about 100 other strangers who seemed like my best friend for 10 or so minutes. I sang “Go Cubs Go” while wearing a Reds jersey. A few beers make you do funny things. My wife asked me when we’re moving to Wrigleyville.

One of the greatest baseball and life experiences I had ever been a part of was in the books.

Game 61, 2011: Reds 8, Cubs 2

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [View from the Bleachers]

Observations:

This is how this Reds team was designed to get it done. This is how this team was supposed to roll since the opening bell of this 2011 season. It might only last for a night, but the Reds looked like they were drawn up to operate last night in their 8-2 victory over the dreadful Cubbies at Great American Ballpark.

I am not a big fan of Mike Leake, in fact I do not like him much at all. But this is the second game in which the Reds had to have a big outing out of the young right-hander and he delivered by going 8 innings and only allowing 2 runs to improve his record to 5-2 on the year.

Leake lucked out. He is very hittable, but the Cubs are such a bad team that they couldn’t make the 10 hits they collected off Leake stand up. A better team would have probably manufactured more runs out of those 10 hits, but the Cubs floundered. They misplayed fly balls. They booted grounders. They made base-running errors. And the Reds aren’t perfectly constructed but they are put together a lot better than these Cubs.

Jay Bruce continued to hit like a man on fire. He scalded the ball four times last night, and three of them resulted in hits. He doubled twice and singled, scoring three runs on the night. He’s got an 8-game hitting streak going in which he’s gone 13 for 31 with 3 home runs and 7 RBI. He’s also hit in 17 of his last 18 games, and 19 of his last 22 games. More importantly is what I see with the eyes. He’s looking confident, and he’s spraying the ball to all fields. Fouling off pitches until he gets one he can handle and then hitting a mistake pitch hard. I am very, very impressed with him right now. He has been the most valuable player on the Reds to date this season.

Jonny Gomes had the biggest offensive night last night by driving in four–three by way of the long ball that just barely cleared the fence in left; and Ryan Hanigan added two base hits and two walks.

The Reds have to keep it rolling against a bad team like the Cubs before they head on a West Coast trip that will take them through San Francisco and Los Angeles. They have a lot of ground to make up. They weren’t 5 and 1/2 ballgames out all of last year, something that is making me increasingly paranoid as a fan.

Top Plays:

A big outing for Mike Leake

Miguel Cairo makes a great grab

Jonny Gomes kicks down the door with a 3-run bomb

Potpourri:

-Redleg Nation introduces you to the Reds 1st round draft pick, Robert Stephenson.

-One of my favorite writers Paul Daugherty wrote about Jay Bruce in Sports Illustrated.

Memorial Day Weekend Wrap

I apologize for being so AWOL all weekend. That said, it was Memorial Day weekend, it happens. The Reds went 2-2 on the weekend. Sandwiching in a 12-ining loss and a 2-1 loss on Sunday Night baseball between two big victories. Jay Bruce continued to go completely off this weekend.

If you want to know my thoughts in a nutshell, huge effort from Mike Leake on Friday night and I wasn’t that surprised that he pitched well. I thought Janish was safe at home plate, but I was a bit inebriated at the time, and Bruce’s blast off Jair Jurrjens was an absolute bomb was it not?

Bruce is absolutely killing right now. Look at the leaderboards I posted above. He’s hitting everything. Outside, inside, high, low, fastball, offspeed, balls are leaving the yard like crazy. This is the month of his life and we want to see it continue for as long as possible. Last night he tripled, homered again, and hit a rocket single through the shift to go 3 for 4 with three more RBI and two more runs scored. He’s got to be the player of the month in the National League for May one would think. His 12 home runs this month are the most by a Cincinnati Reds player since Eric Davis hit 12 in May of 1987.

Other than that, we hope you had a few beers and got to go to the opening of your pool like we did. We love Memorial Day. And summer is officially here. The Reds began a 9-game homestand last evening, and it’s one of the most important homestands in recent memory for the Reds. They’re four games back in the standings after last night’s win. Honestly if they can just keep things around that point until they get their pitching healthy I won’t complain. There’s 109 games left to be played. A lot can happen. Just get the pitching healthy and don’t kill the bullpen. They’ll find a way to scrape runs. I’ll stop complaining about the lineup, or at least attempt to and realize we have it pretty good with Dusty Baker.

In other news, how about the offense yesterday? For all the complaining I do about offense being down in baseball–a lot of this due to fantasy baseball, I used to have 5 and 6 home run nights all the time and now I never do–bats were blowing up yesterday. If you owned Miguel Montero, Bruce, Brian McCann, Aaron Hill, Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu or Clayton Kershaw this past weekend I would expect that you climbed in your league standings like I did.

Now that Memorial Day has came and gone, the stats you are seeing surprise guys put up are for real. It’s officially a bonafide break-out. And teams like the Diamondbacks (first place in the NL West) and the Cleveland Indians must be taken seriously.

It’s a great time to be a baseball fan. We hope everyone had a nice and safe holiday weekend, and we’ll grind it out this week and get through as much as we possibly can.

10 Questions for Reds Manager Dusty Baker

If I was sitting at a Jazz club with Dusty Baker, and I was buying the drinks; here’s 10 things I would ask the skipper of Cincinnati Reds right now. Some of these might turn into a two for one type deal, but please bear with me:

1. What is your reasoning behind putting Paul Janish in the 2-hole? You realize Janish is an asset for his defense if he’s hitting 8th, but hitting 2nd you’re costing Joey Votto RBI chances on a nightly basis.

2. Why are you so reluctant to hit Jay Bruce 2nd or even in the clean-up spot, yet you have always been prone to letting Jonny Gomes hit in the clean-up spot (7 times last year, 7 times this year) and even as recently as this past Friday night, had Gomes hitting 2nd.

3. Do you realize that not putting lefties back to back in the lineup is a silly move (especially against a right-handed starting pitcher) because it is a match-up that might occur once over the course of a 9 inning ballgame, of which the game could already be decided by the point that we would even see a LOOGY out of the pen to face back to back lefties like Votto and Bruce.

4. Doesn’t Sam Lecure (3.18 ERA in 34 IP, 25 H, 8 BB) deserve a crack at the starting rotation over Mike Leake (5.70 ERA in 36.1, 37 H)? Be honest with me, the organization; and maybe even you to a point doesn’t want a first round pick like Leake to look like a failure. So you’re going to run him out there no matter what for the next several years regardless of guys that were unheralded flat out looking better?

5. Have you looked at Jay Bruce’s OPS against left-handed pitching the last year plus? Oh you have? Someone has referenced it, you say. Well why is it when someone does need to sit against a run of the mill left-hander, it’s the guy with the highest OPS of all your outfielders against left-handed pitching?

6. What does Yonder Alonso (5 HR, 23 RBI, .323/.387/.525 in AAA Louisville) have to do to get called up? There’s not a position for him? So you’re saying Jonny Gomes can play left field better than Alonso? Do you really believe that?

7. Be honest with me on this one: how much does Scott Rolen have left in the tank? Is he trying to hit back-side because he can’t turn on pitches anymore? At what point does a beautiful piece of hitting the other way become all a guy can do?

8. Billy Bray has filled the role of 2010 Arthur Rhodes, at least it appears. Can we just start making Aroldis Chapman a starter now? If not, why? Have you seen how the Yankees screwed up Joba Chamberlain? And lets be honest, Dusty; Chapman becoming a #1 starter is the only chance you’ve got at winning a short playoff series with a Philadelphia, a San Francisco or even a St. Louis. We don’t need a 7th inning guy who throws smoke. We need a #1 or at the very least a #2 starter.

9. Why the reliance on such small sample sizes in some cases; you know like yesterday you hit Janish 2nd in the order because he was 3 for 7 lifetime against Cole Hamels; but you ignore such large sample sizes when it suits you?

10. What is it with you and guys who defy logic and overall just hurt a ballclub? Every year you get a fascination with somebody who is the albatross around the neck of us winning games. Ken Griffey Jr., Corey Patterson, Wily Taveras, Jonny Gomes. I’ll give you Junior, because he was Junior; though he had no business hitting 3rd until the day he was traded from the Reds. But what the Hell is your deal with these guys. I mean, I am shocked you did not derail last season to play Gary Matthews Jr. more. That really must of killed you.

What are your questions for Reds manager, Dusty Baker?

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 19, 2011: Reds 7, DiamondBacks 4

[Box Score]
[Cincinnati.com]

The Reds again gave up a run in the 1st inning, but they also struck back with four of their own. They wouldn’t relinquish the lead again for the duration of this game. This was a game that ended what was supposed to be a feasting seven game homestand for the Reds. Instead, this game snapped a four game losing streak and the Reds finished the homestand just 2-5 against the Pirates and DiamondBacks.

Again, the story was the same three guys who have come up big often in the beginning of the season for the Reds. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Ramon Hernandez were the only three Reds with multiple hits, and Votto homered for the third time on the year to raise his average to .418 on the young season.

Who would have guessed that a guy with no stuff like Mike Leake could jump out to 3-0 and a guy with such great stuff like Daniel Hudson would begin this season 0-4?

Top Plays

Joey Votto’s moonshot (3)

Miguel Cairo’s two-run single

Brandon Phillips diving stop

Potpourri

*The Reds begin a big series in St. Louis tonight, which could amount to a blood-orgy of a road trip for them. It finishes in Milwaukee next week.

*My fantasy teams are finally starting to get rolling after big nights last night from Pedro Alvarez, Felix Hernandez, and Mike Stanton. They’re not winning any leagues or anything, but I’m going to be right there in the end.

Game 16, 2011: Pirates 9, Reds 3

[Box Score]

I would rather buy a shirt from Mike Leake, than have had to sit through this game at the stadium tonight. Thank goodness I wasn’t on hand.

Here’s the official police report from the incident. I honestly don’t care if this little dickhead wins us game seven of the World Series someday down the road. I don’t like him, I have no use for him, and I would take my chances for Sam Lecure. There’s no excuse for someone who is a millionaire and who has been making $400,000 since to steal a couple of shirts.

I hate the fact that I’m writing about it instead of what happened on the field. But no matter what beat writer tells you that it is absolutely not a distraction, I disagree. It’s a little thing that detracts the focus away from winning. How do I know that? Because I’ve had teammates before and if one of them did something like that out in the community, I would be thinking about it whether I stood behind him or not.

The Reds fill their organization with classy people. I’ve seen it firsthand many times. This contradicts not only that but all the notions we hear about Mike Leake being a shining ball of maturity. I knew some ballplayers who stole some stuff once. They were my teammates, on spring break our senior year in high school. I honestly would love to see Mike Leake sent down to Single A Bakersfield for the rest of the year and rot there. I wonder how many times Nolan Ryan was caught stealing flannels from JC Penny out in Texas? You think any of the great ones tried to steal something? How about Greg Maddux? Nope. This kid doesn’t have it. And I’ve now got a new reason to root for Homer Bailey, because if Bailey and Cueto come back and pitch well enough and stay healthy, Leake won’t get another shot.

Mike Leake is a cocky little punk who doesn’t appreciate the blessings in his own life–and doesn’t realize that people like you and me who take a decade to make as much as he makes in one single year–wouldn’t resort to stealing.

When Dusty Baker double-switched Jay Bruce out of the game last night for Jeremy Hermida in the 4th inning, I turned the game off (why would you do that with Bruce appearing to come out of his funk?) . I don’t want to talk about the game. The Reds aren’t playing well and I’m in a foul mood about it. There’s no excuse for losing 3 of 4 to Pittsburgh. That team is improved but the Reds need to get it together the rest of the week.

This brand of baseball is unacceptable in Cincinnati now.