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Tag:Reds
Posted on: September 18, 2011 10:39 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 11:08 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Bring on the power



By Matt Snyder


Giants' offense. Brandon Belt hit a home run in the fourth inning, which marked the third straight game in which he'd hit a bomb. So I was all ready to have him here alone. But then starting pitcher Matt Cain went deep for just the fifth time in his career. Then Pablo Sandoval hit his second home run of the inning and all of a sudden it was an eight-run inning. The Giants had a 10-1 lead and would go on to win 12-5. Mike Fontenot and Brandon Crawford also homered while the Giants pounded out 13 hits. So the Giants scored 35 runs in a four-game series. This is a team that entered the series dead last in the NL in runs scored. They've won eight in a row and are only four out in the NL Wild Card race.

Erick Aybar, Angels. I always hesitate to use the term "career day" because it quite literally means it's going to be the best day of a player's career. In light of that, it's a term that is overused, frankly. I think we can at least think about doing it here, though. In a much-needed victory for the Angels, Aybar was 4-for-4 with two home runs, four RBI and five runs scored. The five runs tied an Angels record for a single game while it was the first time in Aybar's career that he hit more than one home run in a game. Oh, and Aybar's two non-homers were doubles. He also drew a walk. So he came to the plate five times, scored five times, made zero outs and accrued 12 total bases. Yes, that's a day he won't soon repeat. I'll say it was a career day.

Dodgers' offense. Yeah, the West Coast teams decided to pack some punch Sunday. This particular game was ugly. It was 11-0 Dodgers through three innings. It ended 15-1, as the Dodgers piled up 23 hits. James Loney, who seems to have flipped some sort of switch here in the past four weeks, was 5-for-6 with a double, three RBI and two runs. Juan Rivera was 3-for-4 with a double, three runs and four RBI. Jerry Sands was 4-for-6 with a home run and four RBI. Matt Kemp was 3-for-4 with a double, home run, three runs and two RBI. Dee Gordon was 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs. Perhaps the most amazing stat? They left 14 men on base.

Also note: There just wasn't enough room here for the power-hitting display Sunday. White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, Blue Jays DH Adam Lind and Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig all hit two home runs, respectively.



Jonny Venters, Braves. Rough outing for one third of O'Ventbrel (that's a combination of O'Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel, for those unaware of the Atlanta moniker). Venters walked three -- including one with the bases loaded -- while allowing two hits and two earned runs in the eighth. He made a one-run lead into a one-run deficit and the Braves ended up losing the game 7-5. Venters now has a 6.30 ERA, 2.10 WHIP and two blown saves in his past 11 outings. 

The Pirates. Pirates pitchers faced 53 hitters. Thirty reached base. You can't win a game in the majors where more than half the batters reach base. That's just embarrassing. Oh, and Dodgers starter Chad Billingley hadn't won a game in six weeks, but he shut the Pirates down. Remember when they were above .500? The Pirates are 68-85 now.

Matt Maloney, Reds. He wasn't supposed to start, as Dontrelle Willis was a late scratch. Maloney was then forced into action, but the Brewers made sure Maloney wouldn't hang around for long. They torched the lefty for nine hits and seven runs (six earned) in just 1 2/3 innings of action. This included two home runs. The Reds lost 8-1 and were swept by the Brewers.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 1:54 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Aviles makes his first homer count

Mike Aviles

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike Aviles, Red Sox: Starting in place of the hobbled Kevin Youkilis, Avilies was nearly the goat when his sacrifice attempt in the second inning resulted in a double play. He made up for it in the fourth inning with his first homer in a Red Sox uniform, giving Boston a 4-3 lead -- one they'd hold on to for the big win against the surging Rays. Aviles had just three extra-base hits (all doubles) in 70 plate appearances since his trade from Kansas City on July 29 before hitting the game-winning homer.

Ryan Braun, Brewers: With two homers on Friday in Cincinnati, Braun became the second Brewer in franchise history to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season. His 29th homer of the season came in the third inning off of Bronson Arroyo (more on that later) and he hit his 30th off of reliever Jeremy Horst in the eighth inning. He entered the game with 31 stolen bases. Tommy Harper hit 31 homers and stole 38 bases for the Brewers in 1970, the team's first season in Milwaukee.

Adron Chambers, Cardinals: In just his second career plate appearance, the Cardinals outfielder singled in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning to help lead the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory. Chambers had an excellent at-bat, fouling off three pitches before lining the ball into right off Phillies reliever Michael Schwimer


Bronson Arroyo, Reds: Prince Fielder's solo shot in the second inning was the 41st homer given up by the Reds starter this season, a new franchise record. The old record was set by left-hander Eric Milton in 2005. But the record wouldn't stay at 41 long, Mark Kotsay and Ryan Braun went back-to-back in the third and George Kottaras homered in the seventh to increase Arroyo's total to 44. Arroyo easily leads the majors in homers allowed this season -- the Rangers' Colby Lewis is second with 33 and Houston's Brett Myers has allowed 31. Only four pitchers in history have allowed more than Arroyo's 44 homers, Bert Blyleven (50, 1986), Jose Lima (48, 2000), Blyleven (46, 1987), Robin Roberts (46, 1956).  Jamie Moyer also allowed 44 in 2004. With two more possible starts, Arroyo could challenge Blyleven's record. Interestingly enough, he's allowed the same number of walks as homers this season. The only pitcher in history to allow more homers than walks (with more than 40 walks) was Roberts in 1956 when he walked just 40 batters.

Derek Lowe, Braves: With Jair Jurrjens unavailable for the first round of the playoffs and Tommy Hanson questionable, if the Braves hang on to win the wild card, they'll need Derek Lowe in the NLDS. Lowe's hardly inspiring confidence right now, allowing six runs on nine hits in just 2 1/3 innings against the same Mets team that had their manager bash them the day before. Lowe, 38, is 0-3 with a 10.15 ERA in August. Rookie Julio Teheran gave up four runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings after relieving Lowe.

Ian Kinsler, Rangers: With two outs and two on in the third, the Rangers second baseman charged a chopper by Dustin Ackley and tried to get rid of the ball quickly to end the inning, but his throw from about 40 feet went well wide of first, allowing the Mariners' first run of the game to score. Pitcher C.J. Wilson didn't help himself, either when his wild pitch allowed another run to score. The Rangers then got a bad break when Mike Carp hit a ball off the bag at second to score yet another run in the three-run third. All three runs in the inning were unearned, and Wilson needed 41 pitches to get through the inning -- 18 following Kinsler's error. Kinsler did record one of the four hits the Rangers managed off of starter Blake Beavans.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 10:12 am
 

Pepper: Beltran wants Giants to upgrade offense

Beltran

By Evan Brunell

Wanted: more offense -- Carlos Beltran has enjoyed his time in San Francisco, but it could only last a few months.

The free-agent outfielder told the San Jose Mercury News that playing for the Giants would be fantastic with its pitching staff, plus the returns of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez should boost the offense next season. But that's not enough.

"I believe there should be a little bit more than that," he said, referring to the offense.

But where should the team upgrade? Catcher, second base and third are spoken for. Aubrey Huff will be in his final season while Brandon Belt is ready to play full-time, so split first base and left field between the two players. If Beltran comes back, that's right field sewed up. That leaves shortstop, with no real internal candidate, and center field.

Of course, Jose Reyes has gotten a lo of attention as the marquee free agent, but the Giants will have to pay a pretty penny for Reyes' services. In center, the team might as well keep Andres Torres if its next-best option is Coco Crisp, although Grady Sizemore could be attractive if the Indians decline their club option.

But the Giants have to worry about money, too. They have $80 million committed to just six players next year, one of which won't be playing for the team in Aaron Rowand. To resign Beltran and bring in another top-flight hitter to please Beltran? That's pushing it.

"You want to be in a lineup where you are around players that will make the lineup better, you understand?" Beltran said. "Right now we have missed a leadoff batter here, and that's huge. That's something, to me, they should address that area, before me."

Weak Central
: Jim Leyland has a lot of expletive-filled thoughts as to the AL Central being so weak, the Tigers' accomplishments may be hurt. “You're looking for something to take something away from them,” Leyland complained to MLive.com . “I don't want to talk about that. That's [expletive]. That's total [expletive]. Let me remind you of something. It was three months ago, two months ago, that the [expletive] Cleveland Indians were the talk of baseball. Everybody was saying they were pretty [expletive] good. Now, all of a sudden, because we beat them they're [expletive]? That's not fair. That's unfair.”

Moving to right: Carlos Gonzalez will be the team's right fielder next season, Rockies manager Jim Tracy says, citing Gonzalez's arm as the reason why. He's already made the move and has 12 assists in just 34 games. (MLB.com)

Staying in Japan? Phenom Yu Darvish is re-thinking whether or not he will come to America for 2012,. His team, Nippon Ham, is eager to post Darvish and reap the profits but Japan's best pitcher is unsure the time is right to make the leap. (NPB Tracker)

Humidor time: The Rockies love everything about their Triple-A franchise...except the fact that it's a launching pad for hitters, robbing pitchers of development time. As a result, a humidor will be installed next season. (Denver Post)

The story of Trayvon: Seattle's newest outfielder, Trayvon Robinson, had a tough upbringing with a home in south-central Los Angeles, split between warring gang factions and attending the high school featured in Boys N The Hood. It's a feature well worth reading. (Seattle Times)

Setback: Dodgers ex-closer Jonathan Broxton has suffered a setback in his recovery from an injured elbow. Broxton will become a free-agent and will have to look around for a one-year deal to rehabilitate his value. (MLB.com)

One year later: A year ago, a baseball bat pierced Tyler Colvin's chest. What could have been a serious incident has now passed and Colvin is back in the majors -- albeit struggling. (MLB.com)

Jays resurgence: Part of Toronto's resurgence has been the successful adding of young players both inside and outside of the organization. More help is on  the way as indicated by the Jays making the minor-league postseason with five of seven teams. But will Toronto make its move in the offseason or wait for more help to arrive? (Canoe.ca)

No diamond: The city of Detroit has nixed an offer from Chevrolet to preserve the diamond at Tiger Stadium, which is mostly demolished these days. Why did the city do that? Because it's trying to keep the space open for significant redevelopment, which the city would jump at to improve its flagging revenues. (Detroit Free Press)

Still playing: Aaron Cook won't retire, but the Rockie who receives his final start in Colorado on Wednesday also certainly won't be back. (Denver Post)

Morgan or Sandberg? Reds announcer Marty Brennaman believes that Morgan was the better second baseman than Sandberg, which the author terms a "controversial" topic. Really? (Chicago Tribune)

Still playing: Amir Garrett, who was picked in the 22nd round of the MLB draft, hopes to play basketball as a freshman this winter after being declared ineligible by the NCAA. Garrett signed a $1 million deal with the Reds and is expect to join the team after college basketball is over. (Eye on College Basketball)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 1:46 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Hellickson good enough for Rays

Jeremy Hellickson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: The rookie allowed just three hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings in what was likely the biggest start of his young career. It wasn't the prettiest thing, as he needed 117 pitches to get through the outing, but it was good enough. The right-hander walked four and stuck out four, lowering his ERA to 2.91. After the Ryas put up four runs in the top of the third, the Red Sox had a chance to answer, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning. Hellickson did give up a run on Adrian Gonzalez's groundout, but after intentionally walking David Ortiz, he got Kevin Youkilis to ground out, ending the inning, leading the Rays to victory. He also improved his record to 13-10.

Jay Bruce, Reds: Bruce didn't start Thursday's game, but he finished it. Although Chris Heisey started the game in right and moved to left in the eighth inning. Bruce struck out to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning after Francisco Cordero blew the save. After Joey Votto doubled to lead off the 11th, Bruce hit the first pitch he saw from Cubs reliever James Russell into the visitor's bullpen in right field. It was Bruce's 31st homer of the season and the 99th of the 24-year-old's career.

Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates: After giving up a first-inning homer, the Pirates' right-hander gave Pittsburgh the lead with a three-run homer, the first of his career. In his 101st career at-bat, Ohlendorf recorded just his eighth hit and his first extra-base hit. As for the other part of his game, Ohlendorf allowed just four hits and two runs in seven innings, striking out six and walking none for his first win of the season, a 6-2 Pirates win in Los Angeles.


Max Scherzer, Tigers: When a team is on a winning streak, nobody wants to be the guy who blows it. Scherzer did -- even though he may have done his team a favor, as now manager Jim Leyland and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon can now change their underwear. Scherzer gave up a three-run homer to David DeJesus in the first inning and a Kurt Suzuki homer in the second to dig an early hole for the Tigers in a 6-1 loss to the A's. In all, he went five innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and giving up three homers. Not only did Scherzer snap the Tigers' winning streak, he also delayed the team clinching their first division title since 1987.

Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: Activated from the disabled list before Thursday's game in Texas, Choo left the game after the first inning with a strain to his left rib cage. He had suffered a strained left oblique last month before going on the DL. It's been a disappointing season for Choo, who grounded out to end the top of the first. Choo also spent 48 games on the disabled list with a broken left thumb. Overall, he's hitting just .259/.344/.390 with eight home runs in 36 RBI in 85 games this season.

David Wright, Mets: A two-time Gold Glover, Wright has had a hard time in the field as of late. On Thursday he committed his eighth error in his last 10 games. During those 10 games the Mets have gone 2-8 and on Thursday the team finished off a 1-8 homestand with a 10-1 loss to the Nationals. Wright also went 1 for 4 and left five men on base. During that 10-game stretch, Wright is hitting just .154/.267/.179.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 5:33 pm
 

Season likely over for Reds' Cueto

Johnny CuetoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto won't win the ERA title. Not only is he a hundredth of a point behind current leader Clayton Kershaw, Cueto is unlikely to pitch again this season, he told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon and thus fall six innings short of the minimum needed to qualify for the title.

Cueto left Wednesday night's game against the Cubs after just 3 2/3 innings with a strained right lat. He had the muscle examined on Thursday and told reporters he wasn't going to make his next scheduled start Monday against the Astros and his 2011 is probably done.

"I don't know at this point," Cueto told reporters through translator Tomas Vera (via MLB.com). "I want to throw but it hurts. I fell sore. It's painful right now. As the doctor told me, I will most likely lose the next outing but we'll see how it progresses to see if I can pitch one more time."

Cueto said he was still in pain and doesn't think it would be a good idea to push it just to win an ERA title. Cueto's ERA is 2.31, trailing the Dodgers' Kershaw (2.30) by a slight margin.

If Cueto is done for the season, 2011 will go down as a step forward in his career. The 25-year-old right-hander was 9-5 with a 2.31 ERA in 24 starts. He threw 156 innings, struck out 104 with a WHIP of 1.090 and leads the National League with a 169 ERA+. Cueto started the season on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and didn't make his 2011 debut until May 8. The Reds entered 2011 with what they believed to be a surplus of starting pitching, but that never really panned out. However, they did find out Cueto was a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, something the team lacked. Edinson Volquez started opening day but was twice demoted to Triple-A during the season. If Cueto is healthy to start next season, he's the team's no-doubt opening-day starter, baring a big free-agent signing or trade.

For their part, the Reds made a good move last offseason buying out Cueto's arbitration years, locking him up through 2014 with a team option for 2015. He made $3.4 million this season in the first year of a four-year, $27-million deal, in what could be a bargain if Cueto returns in 2012 and replicated his 2011 numbers or even continues to improve. In his four seasons, Cueto is 41-37 with a 3.83 ERA.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:17 am
 

Pepper: Finally a worthwhile 'Moneyball myth'



By Matt Snyder


In the past few days, "Moneyball" reviews have been all over the Internet, as advanced screenings are currently taking place. It's a veritable mixed bag. Some reviews have the movie an Oscar contender, others tearing it to shreds, while most are in between. I haven't seen the movie yet, but one area where people aggravate me already is bemoaning how, basically, it's not a documentary. Simply put: It's a movie. Of course it's going to take liberties and be just as much fiction as fact. It says "based on a true story," not "true story." I'm sorry is Jonah Hill doesn't even come close to physically resembling Paul DePodesta, for example. Hollywood doesn't have to cast clones.

Anyway, there have been critics for years of the book. You'll often hear someone say something like "Moneyball doesn't work" or try to explain the "myth of Moneyball." Sometimes it almost seems like the person is taking great pride is taking down some huge establishment.

One of the loudest complaints is that the A's had a trio of aces in the pitching staff, so it wasn't that hard to make the team around them good. It's fair, but it discounts the shift in offensive philosophy. But it's understandable. And it's not like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez -- the anchors of the 2002 offense -- weren't stars. They were.

But this all still ignores the massive disadvantage in payroll the A's had against the likes of the Yankees -- and the 2002 A's won 103 games.

On that front, I finally saw a "myth" about Beane's 2002 ballclub that was worthwhile and made sense -- thanks to Jeff Fletcher at BayBridgeBaseball.com. Yes, that payroll was really low. But a lot of it had to do with how baseball's system is set up. Namely, because of young players being under club control for years and then arbitration-eligible for a few more years, there was some pretty damn good talent making relatively low salaries in '02.

Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito combined to go 57-21 with a 3.05 ERA. Zito won the Cy Young. The three aces made $1.97 million combined. For comparison's sake, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox finished second in Cy Young voting that year and he made $14 million.

There were several other young players that made far less money than players they were outperforming and that happens every year. The A's just happened to have a handful of them. So I guess I've finally found a "Moneyball myth" I support.

Mo in center? Mariano Rivera has a simple request of manager Joe Girardi. Before he retires, Rivera would like to get a shot in center field. Rivera reportedly claims he's a "viable" center fielder and wants to play a game there (a whole game?). Yeah, that ain't happening. But Girardi has said he'd consider putting him out there for one batter in a meaningless game. Oh, and one more stipulation: “[It would be against] a guy who hits ground balls or strikes out a lot,” Girardi said (NYTimes.com).

GM already in place? It would seem that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is doing his hiring backwards. About a week and a half ago I bemoaned Ricketts' giving a contract extension to his player personnel director before hiring a general manager. Well, now Ricketts is set to give a similar extension to scouting director Tim Wilkin (SunTimes.com). Yes, outgoing GM Jim Hendry loved both of these members of his staff, but he's gone now. Is it possible Ricketts already has an agreement behind closed doors with his next GM, which makes these extensions OK? If not, it seems like he's severely limiting himself in his GM search. Think about it this way. If you started a business, would you hire all the mid-level employees before your CEO? Or would you hire your dream CEO and then work with him on hiring the underlings?

Great family story: The Marlins recently promoted prospect Matt Dominguez for his major-league debut. His father is a copy editor for the Los Angeles Times, and he wrote a story about the experience of seeing his son play in the bigs. (LATimes.com)

Jocketty staying put: Just as I noted in Wednesday's Pepper, the rumor that the Cubs were going to grab GM Walt Jocketty, manager Tony La Russa and first baseman Albert Pujols doesn't have much merit. Jocketty isn't going anywhere (Cincinnati.com).

Poor Dunn: This is interesting. Baseball-Reference's blog ran two posts that kind of sum up how futile White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn's season has been. He's hitting .162 with 160 strikeouts. If he gathers a few more at-bats, there's a chance he ends up with more strikeouts than his batting average points. That has only happened one time in history when a hitter got more than 35 at-bats. And it was last season: Mark Reynolds. The same blog also compiled a list of the worst full-time players of the last 50 years, and Dunn checks in at 20th.

Still chugging: Rockies starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, 36, is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since being picked up by the Rockies this season, and he wants to come back for them in 2012 (DenverPost.com). Remember, he was on the verge of retiring before the Rockies grabbed him.

Hanson improving: Injured Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson threw a 44-pitch side session Wednesday and felt fine. Another big step comes Thursday, as he'll see how his hampered throwing shoulder reacts (MLB.com). If anything big happens, we'll certainly be updating with a stand-alone post on Eye On Baseball. Hanson could be the difference between a first-round exit or going deep in the playoffs for the Braves.

Gracious Votto: Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has emerged as an elite baseball player and he says that he owes "90 percent" of his success to his old coach back in Canada (Fox Sports Ohio). This isn't surprising. Votto is one of the most humble and classy players in baseball.

Happy Anniversary: Since 1980, the following All-Stars made their respective major-league debuts on September 15: Fernando Valenzuela (1980), Randy Johnson (1989), Cliff Lee (2002) and Rickie Weeks (2003). (Hardball Times)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:17 am
 

Pepper: Finally a worthwhile 'Moneyball myth'



By Matt Snyder


In the past few days, "Moneyball" reviews have been all over the Internet, as advanced screenings are currently taking place. It's a veritable mixed bag. Some reviews have the movie an Oscar contender, others tearing it to shreds, while most are in between. I haven't seen the movie yet, but one area where people aggravate me already is bemoaning how, basically, it's not a documentary. Simply put: It's a movie. Of course it's going to take liberties and be just as much fiction as fact. It says "based on a true story," not "true story." I'm sorry is Jonah Hill doesn't even come close to physically resembling Paul DePodesta, for example. Hollywood doesn't have to cast clones.

Anyway, there have been critics for years of the book. You'll often hear someone say something like "Moneyball doesn't work" or try to explain the "myth of Moneyball." Sometimes it almost seems like the person is taking great pride is taking down some huge establishment.

One of the loudest complaints is that the A's had a trio of aces in the pitching staff, so it wasn't that hard to make the team around them good. It's fair, but it discounts the shift in offensive philosophy. But it's understandable. And it's not like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez -- the anchors of the 2002 offense -- weren't stars. They were.

But this all still ignores the massive disadvantage in payroll the A's had against the likes of the Yankees -- and the 2002 A's won 103 games.

On that front, I finally saw a "myth" about Beane's 2002 ballclub that was worthwhile and made sense -- thanks to Jeff Fletcher at BayBridgeBaseball.com. Yes, that payroll was really low. But a lot of it had to do with how baseball's system is set up. Namely, because of young players being under club control for years and then arbitration-eligible for a few more years, there was some pretty damn good talent making relatively low salaries in '02.

Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito combined to go 57-21 with a 3.05 ERA. Zito won the Cy Young. The three aces made $1.97 million combined. For comparison's sake, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox finished second in Cy Young voting that year and he made $14 million.

There were several other young players that made far less money than players they were outperforming and that happens every year. The A's just happened to have a handful of them. So I guess I've finally found a "Moneyball myth" I support.

Mo in center? Mariano Rivera has a simple request of manager Joe Girardi. Before he retires, Rivera would like to get a shot in center field. Rivera reportedly claims he's a "viable" center fielder and wants to play a game there (a whole game?). Yeah, that ain't happening. But Girardi has said he'd consider putting him out there for one batter in a meaningless game. Oh, and one more stipulation: “[It would be against] a guy who hits ground balls or strikes out a lot,” Girardi said (NYTimes.com).

GM already in place? It would seem that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is doing his hiring backwards. About a week and a half ago I bemoaned Ricketts' giving a contract extension to his player personnel director before hiring a general manager. Well, now Ricketts is set to give a similar extension to scouting director Tim Wilkin (SunTimes.com). Yes, outgoing GM Jim Hendry loved both of these members of his staff, but he's gone now. Is it possible Ricketts already has an agreement behind closed doors with his next GM, which makes these extensions OK? If not, it seems like he's severely limiting himself in his GM search. Think about it this way. If you started a business, would you hire all the mid-level employees before your CEO? Or would you hire your dream CEO and then work with him on hiring the underlings?

Great family story: The Marlins recently promoted prospect Matt Dominguez for his major-league debut. His father is a copy editor for the Los Angeles Times, and he wrote a story about the experience of seeing his son play in the bigs. (LATimes.com)

Jocketty staying put: Just as I noted in Wednesday's Pepper, the rumor that the Cubs were going to grab GM Walt Jocketty, manager Tony La Russa and first baseman Albert Pujols doesn't have much merit. Jocketty isn't going anywhere (Cincinnati.com).

Poor Dunn: This is interesting. Baseball-Reference's blog ran two posts that kind of sum up how futile White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn's season has been. He's hitting .162 with 160 strikeouts. If he gathers a few more at-bats, there's a chance he ends up with more strikeouts than his batting average points. That has only happened one time in history when a hitter got more than 35 at-bats. And it was last season: Mark Reynolds. The same blog also compiled a list of the worst full-time players of the last 50 years, and Dunn checks in at 20th.

Still chugging: Rockies starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, 36, is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since being picked up by the Rockies this season, and he wants to come back for them in 2012 (DenverPost.com). Remember, he was on the verge of retiring before the Rockies grabbed him.

Hanson improving: Injured Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson threw a 44-pitch side session Wednesday and felt fine. Another big step comes Thursday, as he'll see how his hampered throwing shoulder reacts (MLB.com). If anything big happens, we'll certainly be updating with a stand-alone post on Eye On Baseball. Hanson could be the difference between a first-round exit or going deep in the playoffs for the Braves.

Gracious Votto: Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has emerged as an elite baseball player and he says that he owes "90 percent" of his success to his old coach back in Canada (Fox Sports Ohio). This isn't surprising. Votto is one of the most humble and classy players in baseball.

Happy Anniversary: Since 1980, the following All-Stars made their respective major-league debuts on September 15: Fernando Valenzuela (1980), Randy Johnson (1989), Cliff Lee (2002) and Rickie Weeks (2003). (Hardball Times)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 7:34 pm
 

Reds trying to move 2012 opener off Good Friday

RobinsonBy Evan Brunell

The Reds are attempting to get Opening Day moved off of April 6, 2012, which falls on a Good Friday.

Cincinnati is a predominantly Catholic town with 479,000 Catholics in the 19-county Archdiocese, and schools are closed beginning at noon on Good Friday to observe the holiday, which includes fasting. That would preclude people from eating food at concession stands, as well as lend a somber tone to what should be a festive day of the Reds' home opener.

“The biggest thing is it’s a conflict of moods,” Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Opening Day is a very festive occasion. Good Friday is a key date in our salvation. And although it’s called ‘Good’ it’s not a celebratory occasion.

“I don’t know if it will cause turmoil or not, but it will certainly be a decision point [for Catholics].”

The Reds also had Opening Day scheduled for a Friday in 2011, but were able to move it to Thursday. Fans are still getting used to the Reds opening the season as the first team to do so, and always on a Monday. That changed in 2010 in an attempt to end the season earlier in order for the playoffs to end earlier instead of bleeding into November or Halloween. Opening Day is such a staple of the city, that constituents are considering whether or not to deem Opening Day a city holiday, so the fact that the 2012 date falls on Good Friday isn't winning any fans over.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got recognize that calendar changes every year,” Reds COO Phil Castellini told the Enquirer. “And we’ve got to be comfortable with our the fact that our Opening Day could literally be any day of the week. It’s likely to be between a Monday and Friday. What we need to do is make necessary adjustments to continue or traditions regardless of the day of the week.”

"We’re not wild about a Good Friday Opening Day either," Castellini continued. "The No. 1 thing to know is no matter what it’s going to be Reds Opening Day. There’s going to be a parade one way or another. It’s certainly harder on Findlay Market the closer you get to a weekend. So one or another we’ll work around those issues."

The main issue with thee Findlay Market parade, a staple of the city's tradition on Opening Day, is that it begins at 11:30 a.m.. A huge part of the parade comes from a half-dozen Catholic schools who would be unable to participate.

“It will still be the Findlay Market Parade,” Castellini said. “The Reds may have to play a much bigger role in putting on parade and there might even be a different area where the parade is staged and launched from. Those are logistic issue we’ll have to work through.”

The parade and festivities can be figured out if needed, but moving off of Good Friday will prove difficult. The Marlins are slated to open their new ballpark on Wednesday, April 4 before flying to the Reds to kick off a series. League rules mandate that any team playing a single-game series must receive a day off the day after, so the Marlins can't fly into Cincinnati and play Thursday.

“I would say to fans: Stay tuned, be patient, we’re trying to get something worked out,” Castellini said. “We’ll find a way to have a great Opening Day with a parade.”

This is not the first time the Reds have butted up against religious conflicts. In 1994, owner Marge Schott ordered all Opening Day ceremonies to occur the second game of the year after Opening Day came on Easter Sunday.

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Photo: Former Cincinnati Reds hall of famer Frank Robinson and wife Barbara ride in the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, Monday, April 6, 2009, in Cincinnati. Robinson was grand marshall for the parade.
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