Tag:Cincinnati Reds
Posted on: July 4, 2010 4:49 pm
 

All-Star questions, snubs and thoughts

-- Stephen Strasburg, discuss.

-- OK, here's my part of the discussion: I think the right thing was done not only in leaving him off of the All-Star ballot, but also in not listing him among the final five men for whom fans can vote. You know he would have won that in a landslide. As I blogged the other day, the guy's career has barely achieved liftoff -- there are others in line in front of him for the All-Star Game. Besides, the Nationals are so worried about his innings-pitched count that they're probably going to shut him down by early September. So why shouldn't he wait a year or two before making his All-Star debut? That said, it's one hell of an argument, and colleague Gregg Doyel makes the contrary argument (big surprise there, huh?) here and, as usual, does it very well. He's wrong, but he's good.

-- Biggest snub? Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo not being on the NL team. Forget a simple roster spot. He should be starting.

-- How can the San Diego Padres have by far the best pitching staff in the game one-through-12 this season and not have one pitcher on the NL team? Closer Heath Bell is one of the five players up for the fan vote for the last spot on the team. But starter Mat Latos (9-4, 2.62 ERA) should be on the team, and starter Clayton Richard (6-4, 2.74) merits consideration. But the real snub is that set-up man Luke Gregerson didn't make it despite a strikeout-walk ratio that is sick: 51 K's against six walks over 40 1/3 innings. What, the NL team has a death wish by not inviting San Diego pitchers?

-- Best All-Star story: Cincinnati reliever Arthur Rhodes, who, as a 40-year-old first-time All-Star, is the third-oldest All-Star "rookie" in history. Rhodes from April 13-June 26 made 33 appearances for the Reds without allowing a run, equaling a single-season record he now shares with Mark Guthrie (2002, Mets) and Mike Myers (2000, Rockies).

-- Nicest All-Star story: Arizona outfielder Chris Young, who got himself so twisted up at the plate last season that the Diamondbacks shipped him back to Triple-A to fix his mechanics (and for his own sanity) last summer, bounces back to earn his way onto the NL team. Young has 16 homers, 57 RBI and 14 steals and is one of the few bright spots in Arizona this summer.

-- With the 5 p.m. start time to the Tuesday, July 13 game in Anaheim, you'll be hearing so much about "twilight" you'll think vampires (or Kristen Stewart) will be playing. No question, in the Year of the Pitcher, pitching should dominate for at least the first half of the game. Hitters will not be too crazy facing Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, David Price, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee and the rest in the twilight.

-- Quick reference guide: The American League has won seven consecutive All-Star Games since the tie in Milwaukee in 2002, and 12 of the past 13 (including the tie). The NL has not won since 1996 in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.

-- The new rule this year by which each manager can designate a position player to re-enter that game in the late (or extra innings) if the last available position player at any position is injured) is cheesy. I know Commissioner Bud Selig's special on-field committee is a crack staff, but it won't be long until we'll have Little League everybody on the roster gets to bat rules in place. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio used to play seven, eight, nine innings. Today's "everybody gets a chance to play" mentality is weak.

-- As the sole representative from the host Angels, one of Torii Hunter's duties, no doubt, will be to introduce all of his AL teammates to the Rally Monkey.

-- You'll also be seeing endless replays of the big Bo Jackson 448-foot homer to dead center field against Rick Reuschel in the 1989 game.

-- Vladimir Guerrero returning to Angel Stadium as an All-Star with Texas will be intriguing to everyone but Angels fans.

-- Rookie Jason Heyward's announced plan to participate in batting practice with the NL All-Stars, because he was voted in by fans, but to sit out the game, because he's on the disabled list, is classy.

-- Final man votes: I'd go Paul Konerko of the White Sox in the AL, and Cincinnati's Joey Votto in the NL.

-- The painted Mickey Mouses (most featuring All-Star designs on Mickey) they're placing around Anaheim look very cool. And this from a cranky guy who doesn't give two hoots for Mickey, and a guy who generally avoids Disneyland (and Disneyworld) at all costs (I just despise crowded places where you stand in line forever).

Likes: The long piece on Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in Sunday's New York Times magazine. ... Seeing clips of Lou Gehrig's "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" each July 4 -- it was delivered 71 years ago Sunday -- never fails to produce chills. ... I'm not much for reality shows -- sports or otherwise -- but The Club, centered on the crazy Chicago White Sox, on MLB Network later this month looks too dramatic to pass up. ... George Steinbrenner's birthday being on July 4. How perfect is that? ... Man, does the Padres' Tony Gwynn Jr. have wheels.

Dislikes: We can all argue All-Star snubs, but there are too many players on each roster already. The 34-man rosters are ridiculous.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Driving in to Darlington County
"Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
"Driving in to Darlington County
"Looking for some work on the county line
"We drove down from New York City
"Where the girls are pretty
"But they just wanna know your name
"Driving in to Darlington city
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove 800 miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting out the T-top"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: June 30, 2010 5:23 pm
 

Stephen Strasburg is not an All-Star

Come on. Stephen Strasburg an All-Star?

In 2011, probably.

Every season from 2011 through 2021, good chance.

But 13 days from now? In 2010?

No way.

Five starts do not make an All-Star, no matter how many oohs, ahhs and strikeouts Strasburg has produced. This is still a game in which you have to earn your way. Strasburg is off the starting blocks in that department. But he hasn't earned anything yet.

There are too many good pitchers in the National League who have been doing it since Opening Day who deserve All-Star spots more than Strasburg. Break it down to rookies alone, and St. Louis' Jaime Garcia and Cincinnati's Mike Leake are in line ahead of Strasburg (yes, even though Leake has struggled in his past couple of outings).

Look, I love Strasburg. He's exceeded the hype, which pretty much was an impossible task.

As a fan, I'd love to see him pitch an inning in the All-Star Game facing someone like Derek Jeter, Justin Morneau and Josh Hamilton.

But there are only two possible reasons to justify putting him on the NL squad:

1. The fans demand it.

2. Because the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series, you must put the best pitchers on the team regardless.

As for the first reason, the fans have their say in voting for the starting position players. They don't name the entire team.

As for the second reason, again: Judging by all appearances and rave reviews, Strasburg looks like he's already one of the best pitchers in the game. But even he said following his outing against Atlanta on Monday that he's got plenty to learn.

There are too many others deserving to jump Strasburg ahead of them. And I haven't talked to him about this issue, but my guess, level-headed kid that he is, is that he'd agree.

The game demands that you earn things, you're not just given them.

And in the end, you'll be respected a heck of a lot more if you do.

Likes: Vladimir Guerrero back in Anaheim. And the nice ovation he received in the series opener Tuesday. ... MLB Network, which does an excellent job each night cutting from game to game to game. ... XM Radio offering every game, every night. I know I've plugged them here before, but what a great thing satellite radio is -- for games, news, music, everything. ... Mexican food in Southern California. ... Excellent new disc from Gaslight Anthem, American Slang. ... The fourth season of Friday Night Lights is fantastic. Really, really good writing and acting, as we've come to expect from one of the best shows ever on television.

Dislikes: Atlanta rookie Jason Heyward saying he's out of the All-Star Game. ... Poor Joel Zumaya. Best wishes to the Detroit reliever in his recovery following an absolutely sickening injury. ... The Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton in the doghouse. Come on fellas, how difficult is it to work hard and be a good teammate? ... Carlos Zambrano is a dope.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You told me fortunes
"In American slang"

-- Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

 

Posted on: June 15, 2010 5:53 pm
 

Red legs? Phillips' hammy better but rain on way

CINCINNATI -- The first, and most important, bit of news as the first-place Reds prepare to open a three-game set with the Dodgers tonight is that second baseman Brandon Phillips is in the lineup, batting second.

Phillips was a late scratch Sunday because of a lingering hamstring issue, an issue being described by the Reds as feeling like a "cramp." An MRI exam on Monday's off day showed nothing worse than a mild strain -- not a pull -- so Phillips, hitting .311 with eight homers and 23 RBI, is going to give it a go.

He's just under orders from manager Dusty Baker to play smart, and to "not do anything crazy."

Shot back Phillips to his manager: "I'm always crazy."

"That's what he told me," Baker said, chuckling. "One thing about Brandon is, you know he's honest."

Of course, all of this is if tonight's game is played. As the Reds finished hitting and the Dodgers took the field at 5:40 the sun was shining, but it is 86 degrees and off-the-charts humid.

They're expecting severe weather here to the point that the Dodgers' pre-game notes contains this entertaining bit: "The National Weather Center is now predicting a strong chance of severe weather (with the potential for tornadic activity) late this afternoon and early evening. If the nasty weather becomes a reality, all credentialed press will be sheltered in the left-field level media interview room as the press box and broadcast booths will need to be evacuated."

In 20-some years of doing this, I can't ever recall a similar note in the pre-game handouts.

But I love the phrase "tornadic activity."

Likes: Great day Sunday watching Nationals' phenom -- and this week's Sports Illustrated coverboy -- Stephen Strasburg. ... Reds shortstop Orlando Cabrera's enthusiasm. ... Nice drive from Cleveland to Cincinnati on Monday. About four hours, though it was a touch longer because I veered off the freeway in Columbus for a quick drive by Ohio State's football stadium, which I'd never seen before. ... I still love the pastoral Midwestern scenery. Farms, pastures, little shops like Grandpa's Cheesebarn and Just Pies. I couldn't pass up Grandpa's Cheesebarn ("Meats, cheeses, gifts"), and the hand-scooped ice cream cone was worth it. ... The ribs at Montgomery Inn, outstanding as ever. ... Yes, Monday being a travel day with no game, it doubled as a food day. ... Fantastic thunderstorm late Monday night, lighting up the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River and serenading those of us in hotels until the televisions went out. Love those mid-summer thunderstorms. One of the biggest things I miss since moving from the Midwest to the West Coast.

Dislikes: As I was saying the other day, come on Tom Izzo, stay put at Michigan State. You don't belong in the NBA. You're too good for the NBA. I mean it. Really.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"That's great, it starts with an earthquake
"Birds and snakes, an airplane and Lenny Bruce is not afraid
"Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
"World serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs
"Feed it off an aux speak, grunt, no, strength
"The Ladder start to clatter with fear, fight down height
"Wire in a fire, representing seven games
"And a government for hire at a combat site"

-- REM, The End of the World (As We Know It)

Posted on: March 22, 2010 7:31 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2010 8:57 pm
 

Reds hold breath with Chapman's stiff back

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A breezy and optimistic spring training for the Reds paused hard Monday when Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman was removed from his Cactus League outing against Colorado early because of a stiff lower back.

Chapman, a favorite to win the Reds' fifth slot in the starting rotation, said his back has been bothering him much of the past week -- though later he amended that and indicated that the issue just came up. He also said he has never before had back problems.

"We don't think it's anything serious," Reds manager Dusty Baker said following the Reds' 9-1 loss to the Rockies. "We took him out before it got any worse."

The Reds issued a statement later Monday that Chapman left Monday's game because of back spasms. He will be treated and re-evaluated later this week.

Chapman, through translator Tony Fossas, the pitching coach at Class A Dayton, said he is "not really hurt" and described it as "a little problem with my back I've had all week."

As long as it is a "little" problem, the Reds will breathe easy. Chapman, in competition with Mike Leake, Travis Wood and Justin Lehr for the final rotation spot behind Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey, had allowed only one run in seven spring innings before Monday, striking out 10 and walking only two.

Coming in after Bronson Arroyo to start the sixth, Chapman mowed down Troy Tulowitzki (swinging strikeout), Miguel Olivo (pop to shortstop) and Melvin Mora (grounder to third) on just eight pitches -- six strikes.

But during a 31-pitch seventh, he suddenly changed gears and started throwing more sliders and change-ups than fastballs. And where his fastball ranged from 93 to 97 miles an hour in the sixth, it was mostly in the 91-93 m.p.h. range in the seventh. In his previous outing, he had touched 102.

"The warning signs were I didn't think he was attacking the hitters," said Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, who visited Chapman on the mound a couple of batters before he returned with Baker and Reds trainer Paul Lessard. "He was trying to get guys out with his change-up and slider.

"I wanted to remind him, 'You've got a good fastball. Use it.'"

Not long after that mound visit, Price and the Reds' staff noticed Chapman stretching on the mound. When Price, Baker and Lessard went to the mound at that point, Chapman at first wasn't too forthcoming.

"I guess guys in Cuba are taught not to say much or complain," Baker said of Chapman, who signed a six-year, $30.25 million contract with the Reds on Jan. 11. "He really didn't have the same stuff. He really didn't have the same fastball, anything. We went out, and it was hard to pull it out of him."

Chapman, who wound up allowing four unearned runs, two walks, a wild pitch, a single and a double in 1 2/3 innings, was to be further examined by doctors later Thursday -- again, more precautionary than anything, the Reds hope.

As for how it may affect the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation if Chapman has to be shut down for a few days, well, let's say that's not first on the list of things Baker would like to think about right now.

"I don't know, man," Baker said. "Let's not speculate until we find out [if he has to miss time]."

Sunblock Day? Lovely day in the 80s in Arizona. Dare we declare that the cold stuff is past us and it's baseball weather from here on out.

Likes: Joe Mauer in Minnesota, long-term. ... Albert Pujols in St. Louis short-term, for now, and long-term later (it's gotta come eventually, right?). ... Vin Scully back at work. And his tremendous description of doctor's orders for him reducing his activity: "I'm supposed to cut back on dangling participles and I'm not allowed to split an infinitive for at least another week, but otherwise, no." ... How's this for percentages: There were 13 people on the writers' side of the press box for the Reds-Rockies Cactus League game in Goodyear on Monday, and two of them are in the writers' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame: Hal McCoy, now blogging on the Reds for his old paper, the Dayton Daily News, and Tracy Ringolsby, who's got a regular gig on the Rockies' pre- and post-game telecasts for Fox Sports Rocky Mountain. ... Reds media relations director Rob Butcher, one of the very best in the business, training for the Boston Marathon on April 19. ... Fine, fine production of The Beauty and the Beast at Calavera Hills Middle School over the weekend in Carlsbad, Calif. The kids weren't simply acting, they became the characters. The sets were terrific. The sound was exceptionally clean. The production was top-shelf. The costumes were Academy Award-caliber. Phenomenal enough that I'm going to have to get to know some of these folks. Oh wait ... was the costume director really my wife? And one of the crack backstage crew members really my daughter? Man, I need to get home more. ... Jimmy Buffett and the Zac Brown Band on Crossroads, currently running on CMT. Fabulous pairing.

Dislikes: The guy in front of me in the airport security line Monday morning who was so clueless that, as he was removing the change out of his pockets, his belt and other metal objects actually had to remove suspenders from underneath his shirt as well. He had absolutely no idea. Airport security basically had to guide him through everything as he held up the line for at least five minutes. It was Airport Security for Dummies, to be sure. ... Sure do hate to see Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas sidelined the rest of the way.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"When I left I wasn't thinking
"That I wasn't coming home
"But first Al Green
"And then Barry White
"Convinced me not to go
"And I didn't come home for fighting
"I came to bandage up my hand
"And if you're gonna talk to me like that
"Then I'll just go back out again
"Wipe that chip right off your shoulder
"We ain't getting any younger
"Some things are getting bigger
"Some things are falling off
"Some things they seem much harder
"Some other things stay soft"

-- The Hold Steady, Cheyenne Sunrise

Posted on: July 30, 2009 5:30 pm
 

Others wait as Halladay talks play out

They're stacked up like jets on a runway, but rival clubs waiting in line for Toronto to move third baseman Scott Rolen, infielder Marco Scutaro and relievers Scott Downs, Justin Frasor and/or Brandon League don't appear close to receiving clearance.

The problem is that Toronto, deep in trade talks for Roy Halladay, has not yet moved its ace. And one source with a club in talks with the Blue Jays says that's holding everything else up.

Cincinnati has been trying to work toward a Rolen deal for much of the week. Minnesota is interested in Scutaro (and Oakland's Orlando Cabrera, but reports of the Twins' interest in Freddy Sanchez before Pittsburgh dealt him to San Francisco were greatly overexaggerated). Several clubs have inquired about Downs, Frasor and League.

And meantime, the two Los Angeles clubs, Boston and Texas continue to look for an opening in the Halladay negotiations.

Posted on: May 17, 2009 8:05 pm
 

Reds' Votto, Volquez to be examined

Cincinnati arrived in San Diego tied for first place in the NL Central on Friday partly because their 13 road wins were more than anybody else in the majors. The Reds left San Diego stuck on 13 road wins.

It was the first time all season Dusty Baker's surprisingly competitive club lost three in a row, but what's more of a concern as they head into Monday's off day before opening a nine-game homestand Tuesday against Philadelphia is the health of slugger Joey Votto and starter Edinson Volquez.

Both will be examined on Monday in Cincinnati.

 Volquez left Saturday's 16-inning marathon in the sixth inning with back spasms. He came up stiff the other day, according to Baker, when he missed a step at home.

"Old guys go one step at a time," Baker said. "Young guys skip steps, and he skipped one and landed funny."

 The travails of Votto, who left Saturday night's game with dizziness, are more mysterious.

Votto now has missed six starts since May 7 with the flu and left two other games with dizziness. Votto, who did not play Sunday, just shook his head and expressed frustration at an illness that nobody seems quite able to diagnose or cure.

"You don't know whether to be concerned about it because you don't know what it is," Baker said. "You're concerned about it. You just don't know how concerned to be.

"Something has to be wrong for this guy to not play, or to come out of the lineup. This guy's a gamer, big-time."

Votto has five homers, 27 RBI and a .470 on-base percentage this season, and it's probably no coincidence that when the Reds finally dropped a third consecutive game for the first time this season, it came with Votto watching from the bench.

"He's our big man in the middle," Baker said. "Right now, we're hoping he's OK and we get him back."

Likes: Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley to Chris Jenkins in the San Diego Union-Tribune last week: "I don't really play the game. I feel it." ... Glad to see Cincinnati winning -- at least, until this weekend. That is one terrific baseball town, and it would be fun to see it come back to life during a stretch run. ...  Cal Ripken Jr. wanting answers from Alex Rodriguez on the steroids stuff. ... Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes for birthdays.

Dislikes:
Jim Joyce is a good umpire, but Saturday's 16-inning marathon between the Reds and Padres was not his finest moment. Reds reliever David Weathers was badly squeezed. Had a few of those pitches been called strikes, as they should have been, the game would have ended in nine innings. Then, in the 12th and 13th innings, suddenly Joyce was calling everything strike -- including several pitches way more out of the zone than Weathers'. ... Finally finished Selena Roberts' A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez. The highlight was her breaking the story that A-Rod was a user last February. The rest? This book will be on the $4 shelves by Christmas.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"So the great affair is over
"But whoever would have guessed
"It would leave us all so vacant
"And so deeply unimpressed
"It’s like our visit to the moon or to that other star
"I guess you go for nothing if you really want to go that far"

--Leonard Cohen, "Death of a Ladies' Man

Posted on: March 27, 2009 7:20 pm
 

Get well soon, Aaron Boone

 I don't know if the day will come when we'll again see infielder Aaron Boone in a Houston uniform -- or any other big league uniform, for that matter.

But I'm really looking forward to the day when we again see Boone around a major-league park. Because I'm sure we will, and with the terrific news this week that he's made it through open-heart surgery at Stanford University and is doing well, it will only be a matter of time.

Few folks in the game are as classy as Boone. We worked together two falls ago, doing post-game World Series video analysis during the Boston-Colorado sweep, and as I knew it would be, it was a pleasure. He was effort-less and charming, as always. He was interested in the entire process, and willing to do whatever was asked.

And when I blew the opening of the very first video we did by introducing him as "former infielder Aaron Boone", not only was he not insulted, but he about choked on his gum. He thought it was too funny. And, of course, he didn't let me forget it.

It always has taken a lot to penetrate Boone's cool.

And cool has always emanated from one of baseball's good guys.

This is a guy who was on top of the world after pushing the Yankees into the World Series with his ALCS-winning home run against Boston in Game 7 in 2003.

And a guy who then ripped up his knee playing basketball that winter and told the Yankees exactly what had happened, costing himself millions. And the Yankees, suddenly in need of a third baseman, later that winter traded for a fella named ... Rodriguez. Alex.

But Boone's best humanitarian moment by far came when Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy, who had covered the Cincinnati Reds for four decades for the Dayton Daily News, suffered a degenerative eye condition that resulted in him being legally blind.

McCoy determined to continue working, but became despondent that spring when he was in the clubhouse and realized he couldn't see well enough to pick out players who literally weren't standing in front of him.

Boone noticed something amiss with McCoy and approached him. Hal said he thought he was going to quit. Boone then delivered an impassioned pep talk, telling McCoy that the players would help him, that he was too good to leave and that Boone didn't ever want to hear McCoy using the word "quit" again.

Six years later, McCoy is still covering the Reds.

Six years from now, Booney, we'd better see you back in the game, too.

Get well soon, pal..

----

Aside to the gentleman who left the comment under my blog the other day: The late George Kell and Ernie Harwell did work together on Tigers television and radio broadcasts between 1960 and 1963. Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment.

Likes: New Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu has the best posture of any manager I've ever seen. He cuts a trim figure, anyway, but he stands as straight as a piece of plywood while working the fields during drills. ... Chris Getz winning the White Sox's second base job. ... The San Diego Padres in the process of being sold. ... Yours truly nailing 15 of the Sweet 16 teams on his brackets. Figures, this is the year I'm not in a pool where I can win money. ... A Three Stooges movie is enticing enough, but Sean Penn as one of the stars? Now this I've got to see. ... Danica McKellar, even if she just did get married earlier this month. The only other girl I've had a crush on since meeting my wife. How could you not if you watched The Wonder Years? Ah, Winnie Cooper. What a fabulous, fabulous show.

Dislikes: Man, was it windy here Thursday night. Not just windy, but howling, gale-force, devil winds. The internet in my hotel was out by 8 p.m. I called downstairs and the guy just basically said, "Forget it. It's out. Too windy, mon." ... Aw, did you see where Dan Seals, the Dan part of England Dan and John Ford Coley, passed away? You couldn't avoid I'd Really Love to See You Tonight if you heard any radio at all in the late 1970s. How many times was that the background music for dates?

Sunblock Day? Barely. That wind brought a chill to the desert. Sunny day, but very cool. Good blue jeans weather. Forget shorts.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I won't ask for promises
"So you won't have to lie
"We've both played this game before
"Say I love you then say goodbye"

-- England Dan and John Ford Coley, I'd Really Love to See You Tonight

 

 

Posted on: September 4, 2008 7:40 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2008 1:53 pm
 

Did Reds season begin to unravel on May 25?

Cincinnati skipper Dusty Baker offers many good qualities as a manager and has proven that, in the right situations, he can win. But watching Aaron Harang drop to 4-15 in a loss to Pittsburgh this week in the latest outing of a disastrous season, it's difficult not to ask the question of whether the Reds misused Harang earlier this season and whether that helped wreck his -- and their -- season.

One month ago, in the first week of August, Dayton Daily News Hall of Fame beat writer Hal McCoy quoted Baker: "I have never wanted to win more than I do right here, and I will, but this is Wayne Krivsky's team, not Walt Jocketty's and not mine."

Baker is -- or should be -- better that that, better than shifting the entire blame for the Reds' mess of '08 onto the lap of the GM who was fired way back in April. Yes, the deposed GM should shoulder his share of the blame, but Krivsky was long gone by the time the Reds lost a 12-9, 18-inning game in San Diego on May 25 that, in hindsight, appears to be the classic example of trading short-term gratification for long-term suffering.

Three days after he threw 103 pitches over 5 1/3 innings, Harang worked four innings in relief during that 18-inning game, throwing another 63 pitches. Total count: 166 pitches in a four-day stretch.

That's questionable enough. What's even more questionable is that the Reds then asked Harang to start four days after that, on May 29, instead of giving him an extra day or two of rest. Harang threw 73 pitches over four innings that day as Pittsburgh cuffed him for 10 hits and six runs in four innings. Total count over the eight-day period: 239 pitches.

If Baker couldn't help himself, someone -- Jocketty, pitching coach Dick Pole -- should have stepped in and demanded that the club, following Harang's relief appearance, erred on the side of giving the pitcher extra rest rather than shorting him at all.

Harang landed on the disabled list with a sore right forearm on July 13 and was activated Aug. 10. It was his first stint on the DL since 2004.

In that 18-inning game in San Diego, Josh Fogg started the 11th inning and faced only four batters before Bill Bray relieved him.

Fogg, a swingman with deep experience as a starter, could have lasted far longer. But as it was, once he and Bray ( 1 1/3 innings) were burned, Baker was backed into a corner and ended the game with Harang going four innings and starter Edinson Volquez, who will be a Cy Young candidate, going 1 2/3 innings.

Granted, nobody knew in the 11th inning that day that the game was going to drag on through the 18th.

But poor starting pitching is a big contributing reason as to why the Reds, who were officially eliminated from the NL Central race on Wednesday, now are finishing their eighth consecutive losing season. Within that, with starting pitching as thin as it is today, all clubs must take care of their aces, and nowhere is that more important than on clubs that traditionally lack pitching.

Since his relief appearance in the 18-inning marathon on May 25, Harang is 2-8 with a 7.65 ERA.

This from a man whose six-year career ERA going into 2008 was 4.15.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com