Tag Archives: Ryan Hanigan

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

Yes, You Choked; Yes, I’m Still Proud of You

This was the toughest loss I’ve ever had to swallow in baseball; or in sports.

For as long as I live, I’ll never forget this. I’ll never get over it. It will never be easier to accept. It will always sting. It now exists as a spot place-marked forever in my life; an irreversible eternity. Never again in my life will I allow myself to think “hey, we might really have a shot to win the whole damn thing”. Not after this. If this team couldn’t do it, I’ll never be sold again.

The Reds made the kind of history you do not want to make yesterday afternoon in Cincinnati in losing 6-4 to the San Francisco Giants.

Sometimes in loss we learn the most about ourselves.

I have never in my life seen a team scratch, claw, and fight with such life or death desperation as the Reds did after getting down 6-0 yesterday. The image that will forever stick with me yesterday was Ryan Hanigan immediately when Buster Posey connected with his grand slam home run. Don’t watch Latos. Don’t watch the crowd behind him. Don’t look at the hitter or the ball’s flight. Watch Hanigan.

I have never seen a catcher react that way to a ball in play in all my years watching the game. Hanigan turns in immediate pain, anguish, and disgust and swings his arm in angst. He knows when Posey connects that it was the kill shot. The Reds at that moment probably knew they were dead. But like a cowboy in an old Western whose gut-shot, they kept shooting until they drew their last breath.

For instance; when Jay Bruce got down 0-2 in the ninth inning, he decides that even in defeat; he’s going to make the Giants closer earn it.

What ensues after Bruce gets down 0-2 in the last frame of the game and the Reds down to their final two outs of the season, was one of the gutsiest things I’ve ever seen in watching sports my entire life.

Bruce proceeds to battle Sergio Romo for 12 pitches in total as if he’s battling a damn lion or dragon. He stubbornly fouls off pitch after pitch, laying off many off-speed pitches that have long been to Bruce’s liking. As the at-bat wears onward, you realize Bruce is doing more than just trying to come up with a big swing that will result in a 3-run homer. He’s battling for himself, for his teammates, for all of us fans, and for what might have been his manager’s swansong. I don’t know what Bruce was thinking during the course of that at-bat where the Giants continually stayed away from his big time power to right field. I can only think he knew he owed it to everyone who hadn’t lost hope.

Bruce eventually flies out to right field, and the Reds came up short. But I had chills for much of that at-bat. It was a moment based on sheer will and determination. It was what baseball was all about. One man competing against another, knowing his probable fate but refusing to just roll over and die.

Forever etched in our memories is something different. I will never forget the hurt of this series collapse, but I’ll always know that the team I rooted the hardest for and held the closest to my heart fought like Hell for a different outcome, even when it would have been easiest to quit.

Like often the man who spends his days writing about them and living and dying with them, they just came up tragically short.

Game 28, 2012: Reds put it all together in 6-1 win over Brewers

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Mark Sheldon] [Redleg Nation]

This was one of the most complete efforts on the year so far for the Reds. It probably starts with Bunny Arroyo’s fine outing on the mound. He somehow struck out nine Brewers, allowed only the mammoth home run to Ryan Braun and walked just one. He’s now 2-1 on the season with a 2.75 ERA. The Reds starters are getting it done, between Bunny’s fine effort and what Mat Latos did on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The Reds pounded out another ten hits last night, with a lot of the damage coming in that big 4th inning. This is either the first time they’ve been a couple games over .500 this season, or it sure feels like it. It’s really no time to relax even though they’ve taken four of five and 11 of 16 games. This is the time to keep the foot on the gas and make a run.

How about Bruce’s monster home run last night? That was the longest home run I’ve ever seen him hit. He ran it with humility and didn’t show up Marco Estrada, but that thing traveled to Kenosha, WI. Couple of hits for Brandon Phillips, couple of hits for Ryan Hanigan, Zach Cozart homered; everyone really contributed.

Homer Bailey and Yovani Gallardo I’m a little worried about tonight.

Highlights:

Bruce hits a MONSTER 442-foot home run (9)

Bunny Arroyo was magnificent

Welcome back, Miguel Cairo

Zach Cozart solo bomb (3) ties the game

Joey Votto RBI Double gives the Reds the lead

Ryan Braun goes yard off Bronson Arroyo early, his 9th

Potpourri:

-Jay Bruce’s home run is worth checking out Hit Tracker for the first time this year if you haven’t.

-Behind Atlanta’s Michael Bourn, Bruce has the second longest active hitting streak in baseball now at 10 games. He’s gone 15 of 37, for a .405 average. He’s slugging 1.027 during the life of the streak. He’s got six homers, 12 RBI, and ten runs during it. Bruce had two 12-game hitting streaks as a rookie.

-Check out my buddy Dave here with Sal Fasano, on “What it takes to be a great catcher”. I remember when Jeff Pearlman told me that Fasano was one of the best pro-athletes he had ever met in terms of humility and just being a great human being. Great work on this Dave.

-Ended up owing my wife a trip to UDF for ice-cream when the Reds had that big inning. Where’s the Peach!?!?

Game 25, 2012: Sister Christian Oh the Time Has Come

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

The Reds got a little bit of everything you want to see in a 6-1 Friday night win at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, and Zach Cozart all homered. The rest of the guys added five additional extra-base hits. Johnny Cueto went the distance to improve to 4-0 on the season, striking out four and walking no one.

The Cardinals lost to the Astros last night 5-4 in Houston. Now the Reds have a chance to get a couple games above the .500 mark and begin a winning-streak on Cinco De Mayo Saturday. What more could you ask for? They must win at all costs today whether that win come ugly or pretty like last evening. The Reds just have to keep rolling.

Highlights:

Bruce homers to right field (8)

Cozart & Stubbs go back-to-back

Brandon Phillips RBI single

Cueto’s sparkling outing

Ryan Hanigan RBI double

Potpourri:

It’s Cinco De Mayo. It’s a great holiday. In honor of the day that Adam Dunn always seemed to hit bombs on, we present to you the only batter walk-up song that Dunn used during his time in Cincinnati: a little Night Ranger. And maybe, just maybe; Dunn will go deep today in Detroit.

Game 3, 2012: Reds Rise From the Dead on Easter Sunday

Jay Bruce got one off Heath Bell to tie the game at 5-5, bottom of the 9th.

[Box Score]

Cincinnati.com | Mark Sheldon | Redleg Nation | Red Reporter

This was the type of win that builds chemistry when the season is still young. It was a huge victory for the Reds, pushing the Marlins out of town when they should have lost the opening series of the season.

I returned from Easter brunch in time to see Jay Bruce hit his game tying opposite field home run off Heath Bell. Drew Stubbs added an infield single. The Reds started to pile on the pressure on Bell and the Marlins. Hanigan singled to the opposite field and Stubbs advanced to third.

I was never really concerned with this bunch. Even if they had lost today, I’m not concerned. If they lose five games in a row after this–I still have a relaxed sense that at some point the wins are coming. And when Scott Rolen pinch hit and drove a ball hard to third base, Jose Reyes couldn’t field it cleanly. Stubbs scampered home, and the Reds had themselves against a quality opponent.

Marlins exit stage left–they took a nice piece of us last night–but we let Mike Stanton come to town and didn’t surrender any bombs. Statement win on Opening Day followed by letdown loss and finished up with a character and chemistry building win on Easter Sunday.

How about Jay Bruce? He’s never gotten off to a start like this. To see him using all of the field and put a swing on a Bell fast ball on the outer half like he did was no accident–whereas last season when Bruce went the other way with a pitch it looked forced or by mistake. Bruce hit a ball that got caught in the jet stream. The swing looked a little bit like Joey Votto off first glace. The Reds don’t win today without Bruce’s game-tying blast.

Pats on the back go to Zach Cozart, Aroldis Chapman (nice ‘W’ in two scoreless innings of relief), and DatDudeBP for his 1000th hit as a Cincinnati Red.

Bring on the damn Cardinals tomorrow night and let’s get this rivalry going again. We’re going to put a whuppin’ on that ass.

Highlights:

Bruce’s 2nd home run of the season

Bruce’s game-tying shot off Heath Bell in the 9th

Rolen drives in the game-winning run

Reds sign Catcher Dioner Navarro

In a move that should make Javier Valentin fans pretty happy, the Reds have signed catcher Dioner Navarro.

This would seem to jive with the rumor we’ve heard that Ryan Hanigan will be traded soon. We hope not, but we’ve heard it. Navarro is going to be 28 next season and hit a Javy Valentin-esque .193/.276/.324 in 202 plate appearances for the Dodgers last year.

The Reds are gearing up indeed. But this was not a move that you’ll look back in September and say ‘what a gem signing by Jocketty’. It’s most likely the team adding some depth in case there is an unlikely injury to Devin Mesoraco or the aforementioned Hanigan.

The Reds find a way to Big Game James and the Rays

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Rays Index]

Reds fans might just look back on Ryan Hanigan’s 3-run home run off James Shields in the fourth frame of yesterday’s game as being one of the biggest hits of the year for the Reds.

Yesterday’s win was a big, big win on the heels of a very tough heartbreaking loss. And taking two out of three on the road from a very good ballclub was no short order for the Reds. Coupled with the Brewers 5-2 loss in the Bronx, the win allowed the Reds to pull within 2 and 1/2 games of first place in the National League Central.

I knew this would be a tough win for the Reds. James Shields was on his game. He struck out 10 different Reds hitters, or not actually. Four of those times, Jay Bruce was the culprit. It was his first Golden Sombrero of memory, and he’ll be getting christened sometime soon by our friends over at The Golden Sombrero.

Freddy Lewis had a huge hit in this one, a line drive single to left field that scored Johnny Gomes and the run that would stand up to be the winning run.

Francisco Cordero entered the game in the bottom of the 9th and locked down things for his 16th save. Cordero has been remarkably solid this season–minus that night in Philadelphia that Ryan Howard hit a ball that still hasn’t landed and the Reds ended up losing in 19.

The Reds come home for a very big series at home against the Cleveland Indians with a chance to once again make some hay. It’s time to make a move in the standings and build some momentum before the All-Star break.

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.

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 35, 2011: Reds 6, Astros 1

Travis Wood energized the Reds last night, scattering six hits in 6 and 2/3 shutout innings and hitting a 3 run homer to get the Reds on the board. He improved to 2-3 on the season. It was his night.

Now you see why the Reds might have chosen Wood to stay in the rotation and Mike Leake to head to the pen–even with Wood’s rough outings he endured a few times out recently, he’s still capable of going out there and blanking the other team for a better part of a ballgame. I’d venture to say that the organization feels more confident in his ability to do that than Leake. Plus he’s a southpaw.

The Reds starters are coming on strong, only allowing one run over their last 20 1/3 innings. Over the last six games, the starters are 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA.

Finally, we start to see a little bit of why this team was the favorite of so many to win the division and even the national league. They certainly have some pitching, they play good defense, and they have timely hitting.

Other offensive notables last night in Houston: Drew Stubbs had two hits and an RBI, Brandon Phillips had a couple of hits, Chris Valaika had two hits and two runs, Ryan Hanigan had three hits and a run, and Ramon Hernandez hit a two run bomb.

The lone Astros run came off a Hunter Pence home run that Jay Bruce nearly robbed from the seats. Pence also tripled.

These Reds–who I said weren’t capable of going on the same 9 out of 10 run that they pulled off at this time last year–have suddenly won 4 of 5 and have two more against the Astros in Houston before playing the Cardinals this weekend in Cincinnati.

Maybe I’m not patient or faithful enough with this group. Maybe over the course of a big league season it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that one game is just one game. Maybe that’s how it is when you live and die on every strike. It’s a roller coaster.

[Box Score] [Cincinnati.com]

Game 3, 2011: Reds 12, Brewers 3

[Box Score]
[Cincinnati.com]

Observations:

I admit, I was tuckered out from the long weekend and the traveling so I passed out right about the point where the Reds tied the game at 2 and when I woke up it was 11-3.

Bronson Arroyo did what we should all become accustomed to seeing him do. He went out with mono and threw a nice little ballgame. It was such an Arroyo-like outing, as he went 7 innings and allowed only three earned runs–two of them coming off the bat of Ricky Weeks and one of which was a lead-off home run that saw Arroyo settle in for the duration immediately after.

The Reds didn’t wait long for retaliation. Johnny Gomes homered, Jay Bruce singled and stole second base and then scored on a Paul Janish home run.

It’s good to see Bruce running out of the gates here–it’s a sign he’s growing more comfortable with the speed of the game and developing confidence in his own game. Bruce is a good enough baserunner to compile 10 or 15 steals. It’s just a matter of being comfortable and confident in his own game and taking off.

This Reds lineup is doing what I thought they would do; they’re hitting like crazy. They had 19 hits yesterday, and by the end of the game Dusty Baker was able to work in a few of the subs.

Hanigan had four of those hits, Phillips had three (atonement for an early strikeout with the bases loaded), while Janish and Gomes had two each. Everyone in the Reds lineup who is expected to hit for power has homered except Jay Bruce and the shortstops. It’s a great sign all around.

The Reds definitely make a statement on the opening weekend by sweeping their main competition.

In another losing effort, Ryan Braun homered again.

Star of the Game:

How could it be anyone other than Ryan Hanigan? Reds catchers so far this season are on a little bit of a roll. Hanigan went 4 for 4 with two home runs, 4 RBI and a walk. Guy continues to look like he’s in the mold of a .285 to .300 hitter year in and year out.

Top Plays:

Ryan Hanigan’s 3-run homer in the 6th inning

Brandon Phillip’s 3-run bomb

Aroldis Chapman throws a perfect 9th inning

Someday soon it will be the Devin Mesoraco Show

We’re introducing you to the reason that either Ramon Hernandez or Ryan Hanigan will likely be playing their last season in Cincinnati in 2011. We’re introducing you to the reason that the Reds shouldn’t have probably taken Yasmani Grandal out of Miami U last season in the first round. We’re opening up the tag on Devin Mesoraco.

Our friends over at The Golden Sombrero recently ranked Mesoraco their #27 prospect in baseball. These guys know prospects. Here’s a snippet of what they had to say about the Reds young backstop:

As a former 1st-rounder, Mesoraco is very toolsy and has insane thump at the plate.  He enters 2011 as the likely Triple-A catcher and probably will at least receive a cup or two by the end of the season.  However, management of a Big League rotation is a challenge and typically begins well before the spring.  As a result, I find it very unlikely that Mesoraco won’t still be a rookie in 2012.

He has a 60 arm from behind the dish, and, despite not having Big League feet, probably can catch for at least most of the decade.  He receives rave reviews for his leadership abilities and other intangibles, although we at the Sombrero generally prefer to evaluate the concrete.  Because he did not put it all together until last year, a great deal of scouts wrote Mesoraco off, but we are believers and consider Mesoraco the best position prospect in the Reds’ organization.

The thing is–we like Mesoraco better than Grandal from the things we hear. The odds of having two catchers from your farm system effectively breaking into the big leagues within a year or two of each other doesn’t happen very often. More often than not; one of these two guys end up being a guy who just doesn’t make it. They’ll both get their shot–and Mesoraco will emerge as the guy who can mash when the lights shine the brightest at the big league level.

He had 26 bombs last season across three levels in the minor leagues, and he didn’t strike out in abundance for a guy with such pop.

After this season it’s going to be the more effective of the Ryan Hanigan/Ramon Hernandez tandem and Mesoraco with the older getting the majority of the duties behind the dish. The Reds will be eager to see how much this kid can be fed as a rookie I’m sure. But by 2014, Mesoraco will be one of the best catchers to come out of the Reds farm system since–dare we say it–Johnny Bench.