Tagged: My Team(s)

Still here… Always here.

You can’t think that in the thick of a pennant race I’ve given up on the Reds. Quite the contrary, in fact. I’ve been spending all of my time over at redreporter.com. Too much time. I find myself in the same boat as Sister Daedalus – it seems like I have sacrificed my social life for the Reds this season. Seriously, if you’re a Reds fan who has happened to wander into my little blog here, go check out Red Reporter sometime: JD runs a good ship over there. I’m "Ash" ’cause, you know I pride myself on my creativity and the fact that I’m so darn clever. Ok, it was simple, and it’s me.

So, why am I back? Well… Daedalus has prompted me into action. She has written a letter in response to a column in a little nothing Cincinnati paper called City Beat.If Daedalus is indeed a "juvenile blogger," I would be proud to be called the same.

I have yet to come across a Reds blog that has been active for any length of time that is not full of insight or humor, or even both. My own blog isn’t chock full of stats and facts, but rather my opinions, thoughts, rants, and raves, with a helping of actual fact thrown in there to make me seem legit. ****, I am legitimate. I don’t need a million readers or a column in City Beat to legitimize my fandom, and I don’t need either of those things to legitimize my opinion that Jerry Narron is, in general, an absolute M0R0N.

I was going to pick and choose points Mr. Bill "Who?" Peterson (Classic, Daedalus, classic!) made and offer my own opinion, but why bother? I know what I know, I know that Daedalus already ripped him a new one, and I know that I can back up my not-so-glowing opinion of Narron with any number of W T F!? moves from many games throughout the season.

I think the bottom line is that Mr. "Who?" missed the point: He could have taken his column and written a beautiful piece on how excited/thrilled/hopeful the Reds fans are that are out there to see their team making a run for the postseason. Instead, he took shots at those of us who nickname players (ESPN analysts call Dunn the "Big Donkey" for chrissakes!), and those of us who spend our time filling blogs with our "juvenile" thoughts and opinions. Yes, Jerry Narron is the manager of a team that has done much better than expected, but he isn’t responsible for the mostly wonderful year being had by Aaron Harang, the hot start by Bronson Arroyo, etc. I shudder to think where this team might be if Edwin’s bat had been in the lineup as opposed to Royce Clayton’s. The recent overuse of Ryan Franklin is the latest in a long line of managerial blunders courtesy of Mr. Narron, whose Reds might just be winning in spite of his management, instead of because of it.

So, good job, Mr. "Who?" – you’ve made an army of enemies out of people who love the Reds. I do have to feature one of your quotes:

There’s a pretty good chance the Reds are doing better than their critics.

Surely by critics, you don’t mean us. I am sometimes critcal, but never a critic. I am first and foremost a fan. What kind of a fan would I be if I never showed my displeasure with a decision here, a roster move there?

This blog would make for a boring read, no?

As ever, go Redlegs. Hopefully Jerry’ll leave his boy Franklin out of the next couple of games…

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Playoff bound?

7:00 am. I’m awake, not after a good night’s sleep, but still awake from the day before. The Reds have been on my mind a lot lately, not to the point that this is what is keeping me up at night – blame my bizarre work schedule on that one – but I do find myself thinking about the Reds in the wee hours of the morning when I still happen to be awake. I was prompted to writing this morning thanks to Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer. He’s not someone whose opinion I normally look forward to hearing (well, you know, reading), but I did like his column in this morning’s edition. He talks about Junior and how he was told by ownership and management that he’d have a winning team built around him when he came to join the Reds. Daugherty, putting it succinctly, says that "{t}hey lied. Until now."

I like Griffey. I like Junior even when he is in the throes of a terrible .180-post-All-Star slump. I want to see him win, not only because he is a Cincinnati Red, but because he seems to be such a wonderful human, and such a wonderful athlete. Daugherty notes that "Ken Griffey Jr. finally is in a playoff race as a Red." And here I wonder, the morning after a 10-4 loss at the hands of the Dodgers, is this really a playoff-caliber team? Buster Olney and Steve Phillips ::shudder:: say so. Paul Daugherty, who, it seems to me, is always and forever down on the Reds, seems to think so. I don’t know what to think anymore.

At the beginning of the season I said I’d be happy to see this team finish at .500 this season – that was before Wily Mo for Bronson, before a team-record number of wins in April… before The Trade. At the beginning of the season, Sports Illustrated projected the Reds to finish last in the National League Central, the 28th ranked team in all of baseball. Booyah. So what does all of that mean here on August 2nd? Absolutely nothing. In a weakened NL, the Reds are the current Wild Card, 1 game ahead of the Arizona Dimaondbacks. As for the NL Central, we’re 3 1/2 back of a Cardinals team that made no significant deadline deals, unless you count the acquisition of Ronnie Belliard.

Back to the question I posed earlier: Is this really a playoff-caliber team?
I think it can be, but some things need to change if we’re going to have a legitimate shot.

  • Edwin Encarnacion needs to play every day.
  • Royce McClayton needs to not play every day. And if he is playing, he needs to bat 8th. No exceptions.
  • Someone needs to do some tinkering to the 25-man roster. This whole 3-catcher, 4-outfielder setup is going to bite us in the butt one of these days.
  • Maj needs rest, apparently. Let him have it.
  • Stop it with the Joe Mays, Esteban Yan, Lohse-type reclamation projects.
  • Jerry needs to stop managing with his heart. Good lord, man, use your brain.
  • Limit the defensive damage. Extra outs, errors… These kill.
  • Either Eric Milton or Brandon Claussen (or both!!) need to step it up and pitch some good baseball.
  • Junior needs to de-slump. Now. (I know he will.)

That isn’t in any particular order, but freeing Edwin and getting Junior back on track are #1 and #2 in my book.

Looking at that list kinda frightens me. If that’s what my sleep-deprived mind could list without too much careful planning, imagine what I’ve forgotten…

So, anyway, that is how I’m looking at things. My favorite sports team would make the playoffs if the season ended today. That is awesome considering it’s August. Then again, it’s August. There are two months of play left, and I can honestly say that with this streaky team, I have no idea what is going to happen.

"Until now."  –  I certainly hope so, Paul.

My overdue thoughts…

Short, simple, to the point, here are my thoughts on The Trade.

I like Felipe Lopez. I love Austin Kearns. We traded good, young talent away for decent middle relief that will help us right now and hopefully into the future. (I’m not hurt by the loss of Lopez. It felt like I was punched in the stomach when it comes to Kearns.) We overpaid for right now, but it might just be enough to keep us in contention. Fortunately we have Kearns-lite (or, heII, who knows? Kearns-equal, or Kearns-better?) in Deno, and Jay "Wunderkind" Bruce in the pipeline.

It’s done, we can’t take it back. Let’s take Bray and Majewski and roll with it. (McClayton was a throw in as far as I’m concerned, and had better not be here past this season, so I’m not going to mention him as part of The Trade beyond this. And the other two, well, we’ll see.)

Unfortunately for us, the fans, we have yet to see a FSN-televised game post-The Trade. I would love to have seen the scoreless inning Bray put up tonight against the Rockies, not to mention the starts by Harang and Arroyo, but I’ll have to live with the snippets I’m getting from SportsCenter and the like. (I would have been the first one in the ballpark for any of these three games, but alas, I’ve worked the past three nights.) Majewski’s performances, not so much, but he’s gotta be pressing. …let me rephrase that… He has got to be pressing, because if he isn’t, and this is what we’re going to see from him nightly, I’ll lead the charge against Krivsky down Pete Rose Way.

So, I guess that wasn’t "short, simple" or "to the point" at all, but what else do you expect from me? 🙂

I know my comments are, say, three days overdue and that most of the initial shock (and in the minds of some, horror) has worn off, but this is still constantly reverberating through my mind. Why else am I awake at 4:25 am, blogging about the Reds?

Let’s face it. The Reds absolutely limped into the All-Star break, seemingly going 1-4,345. Since, we’re 3-0. Not a huge sample size to draw from, but positively encouraging. There were 35,000 people at the ol’ ballyard in sweltering heat last night, so that’s saying something, right? I really have no idea what I’m getting at here… Just that the post-Kearns Reds don’t seem as bad off as I originally thought.

Now, if Narron would only sit McClayton, get Aurilia out of the 4-spot, and *******’ play Edwin, the team would look even better. Oh, yeah, Jerry, don’t forget about Java… he’s not gonna get over this whole "broken" thing by sitting on his *** in the bullpen. And Majewski, well, he’s already pitched what could be a season’s worth for some relief pitchers. Give him a night or two off, geez. (And do it fast before the boo birds greet him before he even throws a pitch.)

It’s been a week full of surprises. I think we all suspected a trade was in the works, but who expected this? Three games, three wins out of the gate? Fantastic. 14 scoreless innings in two games from Harang and Arroyo, after a QS from Milton on Thursday? I’ll take it! Elizardo today? I’ll take it! Which reminds me, I’m enjoying this whole no-fifth-starter-needed thing a bit too much, and I’m not looking forward to the upcoming lack of days off that will require Claussen, Mays, Wilson, the guy sitting in Section 136, Row F, Seat 12… WHOMEVER to fill that fifth starter spot. (Jerry, if you’re reading, Mays better not be it.) Wait, is he even still a Red? I’m hoping I missed something.

When the season began, I was hoping for .500. As April came and went, I started hoping for more. Now, I’m hoping for nothing less than the Wild Card because that’s what The Trade is supposed to get us, right?

I can honestly say that I have no idea what is going to happen. I do know that whatever does happen, it certainly will be interesting to watch, and I’m glad to be along for the ride.

Go Redlegs.

InFANity.

I have decided that being a Reds fan is dangerous to one’s health. You’re so high and giddy one moment and so down and depressed the next, that it just can’t be healthy for one’s psyche. Even the time in between sheer giddiness and the doldrums is spent developing ulcers thanks to a broken bullpen and shoddy defense.

Today is the perfect example. The Reds are down 6-4 in the top of the 9th against Milwaukee, and score three times to come back and take the lead thanks to clutch hits by Adam Dunn and Junior. Elation! Moments later, Todd Coffey has given up four consecutive hits without recording an out, and the game is over. Milwaukee wins, 8-7. Utter and absolute dejection.

After Friday night’s improbable, amazing, beautifully fantastic come-from-behind win against the Indians, the Reds have turned around and dropped three straight. Not only do we suffer these incredible mood swings from inning to inning, we have to suffer through them game to game, day to day, as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my fandom for anything – I’ve often called Cincinnati Reds baseball "the non-human love of my life" – but I think we are all just a little bit insane. (Ok, perhaps I more than most, but that’s a discussion for another day…) Here we are, midway through the season, and the weaknesses we expected to find are plain for all to see – relief pitching, defense, relief pitching, defense (it’s become something like a mantra). Still, somehow someway, here we are, second in the NL Central, 1 1/2 games back, and the NL Wild Card. I have no idea what is going to happen from here on out – it seems to me that the bullpen will probably remain much like it is right now, but at the same time, it looks like July is going to be a big offensive month. See: Adam Dunn. If Arroyo and Harang can continue to pitch well, and one or two of out other starters can pick up some slack…

So what do we do? I’m not giving up the Reds, and I’m not giving up on the Reds… I guess strained nerves, those **** ulcers, and extreme mood swings are just par for the course. We just have to get over the difficult losses as quickly as possible, and hope and pray that Krivsky can pull together something before the end of the season that will give us a better ‘pen without sacrificing too much of a potentially bright future.

As ever, go Redlegs.

What’s been happening, what’s to come…

Let me begin by apologizing for my absence over the last few days. Two jobs and house-sitting duty have left me with an extra-busy schedule this week, not to mention the added excitement of World Cup Soccer, and the NHL and NBA finals. Ok, just kidding about the last two – I’ve watched more baseball in the past two days than either of the two sports playoff series, but I have been one of those goofballs watching their fair share of soccer.

Anyway, enough about me. You don’t want to read that, you want to read about the Reds, so here goes…

Back to Sunday’s game: Beautiful seats. Crizappy game. I was the one sitting behind the plate shouting at the Reds’ dugout to remind them that the pitcher who was shutting them out came into the game with an ERA over 6. I was officially out of it by the seventh inning – no, I don’t mean drunk, I just mean sitting back, arms folded, scowl on face. And then the bullpen gave up five runs. (Note: Second game in a row the ‘pen gave up five runs! That couldn’t possibly happen a third time, right!? Wait for it…)

Monday: So, Wily Mo Who? … Bronson Arroyo improved his record to 9-3 with a complete game, 2 run win over the hot-hot-hot New York Mets. He pitched all nine innings not because he had been ultra-conservative with his pitches or because he was completely dominant. No, he pitched a CG because Jerry Narron was afraid of his bullpen. Frankly, so am I. Aren’t you? Good Lord.

Tuesday: Elizardo finally did what I expected him to do last Wednesday – he got hit hard. He gave up three runs in the first inning, before surprising the heck out of me and lasting for six, only giving up one more run. Seriously, I was impressed – he went back out there after getting a talking to from Hume via Javier Valentin, and showed some incredible poise. We were treated to so many 3-inning, 6-run outings from our starters last season, it’s nice to see someone get scored upon pretty hard in the first and then go back out there and pitch some effective innings afterward. Go Lizard!
Of course, after the offense got it to 4-2, the bullpen came out and proceeded to give up – you guessed it! – 5 runs. Mets win, 9-2.

15 runs over the last three games that the ‘pen has been used. Fifteen runs. Over… dunno. Like 8 innings. I have no desire to go check and find out the exact numbers, I know it’s a horrible stat. Enough! …Uncle!

So now, Rick White is gone, Jason Standridge is up in his place, and has yet to make an appearance. He was up and throwing at the same time as Weathers was last night, but Narron opted to bring in Weathers, who decided that giving up 4 runs would be his contribution to the game.

I don’t know whether to hop on the "Run Narron out of Town" bandwagon or to feel sorry for the guy. Throughout April it seemed that every single move he made worked out perfectly in the team’s favor. May, not so much, but then he got his golden touch back during that 8-game-win-streak. Now, well, it’s absolutely gone, but look who the man has to work with… The ‘pen has some horrendous arms in it, and we’ve got 16 catchers and 37 shortstops. That said, however, I’m tempted to join the "Run Narron out of Town" bandwagon simply because of his continued use of Quinton K. McCracken in late-inning PH situations. What a waste of a roster spot.

So where are we? Five games behind the Cardinals, who were absolutely pounded, 20-6, by the White Sox last night, and two games ahead of the Astros who have Roger Clemens starting for them tomorrow. What does all of that mean? Beats me, those are just the facts. I’m not making any more predictions.

Royals cast-off Joe Mays is starting for the Reds tonight. Again, not making any predictions. Just swearing, a lot. 🙂

Upcoming in the blog:

  • A look at the minor leagues; my take on Denorfia, Votto, Bruce, and Bailey
  • A review of the new 1975 World Championship DVD
  • A giveaway of said DVD. 3 copies! Details coming soon!
  • A review of ‘Clutch Hits’

So much to do… Aargh!!

Go Redlegs!

$%*&

Tonight is one of those nights where watching this team is the equivalent to banging your head against a brick wall for three hours.

This is the team I remember from 2005.

Pathetic.
_____
Three hours later…

I’ve been thinking.
If you lose seven of eight games and are still the Wild Card team… things ain’t that bad.
Don’t get me wrong – tonight’s loss was a *grotesque* mess, but it still is only one game. (There is a "but.") BUT, if things don’t start to change right now, this team is going to slowly but surely see other teams pass them by. If someone does decide to step up or take charge or light some kind of fire under this team’s butt, then I see no reason why, especially if what Castellini says about making acquisitions if necessary is true, we can’t have another month (or two, or three!) like April.

What needs to be done to make a long-term run at the postseason?
Here’s my take:

  • Trade Jason LaRue. I know for this to happen we’ll have to eat a large chunk of the contract he signed this past offseason, but why not? He’s not catching anymore… I can’t even remember the last time he started behind the plate (keep in mind I’ve missed a few games recently). There are some teams out there that need a catcher, and he’s a decent defensive backstop, and he might be ice cold this season in terms of offense, but he’s still a career .260 hitter, and he’ll make it back there, if not for the Reds, then somewhere, before season’s end. Right now he’s a guy on the bench, and so long as Narron is bringing in K. McCracken to ground out, er… pinch hit, there’s one less opportunity for LaRue to contribute.
  • DFA/trade/lose-on-the-plane-to-New-York Quinton K. McCracken. Please raise your hand if you’d like to see his roster spot occupied by ANYONE ELSE. …too bad Narron seems to despise RayRay. Everyone, hands down now.
  • ACQUIRE SOME PITCHING. Yeah. I’m a master of the obvious.
    *this is not a complete list, it’s just what I can think of off the top of my head at this moment*

The starting pitching continues to get it done. The offense continues to get it done… every other game. The bullpen continues to get it done for the other team.

Ooh! Just got off the phone with a friend who was given two Scout Seats for tomorrow’s game. I had to rearrange my work schedule, but it’s done, and I’m going. If we can win this game, great! …it’ll mean we put a crappy loss behind us. I’m not going to suggest what might happen if we lose…

To my Reds: Don’t let this one miserable loss (two, actually, but who is counting?) stick in your minds and affect you tomorrow. Show some poise and resilience and go out tomorrow, and play like you’ve got nothing to lose. Aaron Harang has shown himself to be a fanstastic pitcher, and I’m glad to see that he will be on the mound tomorrow. I can almost guarantee that you give him some decent run support, and we’ll come away from this with a victory. And then we can build from there.
And please, baseball gods, let Harang have a good… say… 9 innings in that arm.
😉

Go RotBeines! (I think I just skewered the heII out of the German language. My apologies! Entschuldigen Sie!)

Let’s try this again…

Memo to Wayne Krivsky
RE: Bullpen *******

I don’t think we can wait until mid-July to shore up a bullpen that is 14th in the league in ERA. This team is capable of a comeback any night of the week, but you must concede that coming back after five runs are scored against you in the eighth inning is nigh impossible.
I don’t like what I’ve seen the past few games, I know other fans feel the same way, and I’m sure you can’t be pleased with what has gone on. I’m not a big subscriber to the whole "quality start" theory of starting pitching, but that’s what we’ve gotten the past few nights, and then the ‘pen has come along and tanked the games. Yuck.
I doubt anyone is in alarm mode here in mid-June, 9 games above .500, but I think we still need to look ahead. We can’t win ballgames with a ‘pen that has an ERA right around 5.00!
The answers don’t seem to be in Louisville, and I have yet to be thrilled about any of the recent DFA acquisitions. So where does that leave us?

Don’t ask me! I’m not the GM! That’s your job, so go… make something happen!

Sincerely,
A Reds fan who turned off the game before it was over today because she couldn’t watch the horror unfold any longer.