Tag:Reds
Posted on: December 20, 2010 5:22 pm
 

Brewers could win (and this time I mean it)

Don't ask me if the Zack Greinke trade makes the Brewers the favorite to win the National League Central.

I'm the idiot that picked the Brewers to win the Central last year.

So yeah, if you take the flawed team that I thought could win, then add Greinke and Shaun Marcum, I'm ready to pick the Brewers again.

This time, I won't be alone. This time, I might even be right.

"I think Cincinnati's much better than St. Louis," one veteran National League executive said today. "And I think Milwaukee's better than Cincinnati."

That opinion isn't near unanimous among baseball people. A quick survey of scouts and executives had quite a few favoring the Reds to repeat, and some even suggesting that the Cubs could win, if their young players develop.

But not surprisingly, every scout I talked to thought that the twin trades for pitching make the Brewers into a team that could win.

"I think they're a legitimate contender," one American League scout said. "I really think Marcum will solidify their rotation. He'll go out and give them seven innings basically every time out. He's a lot like Bronson Arroyo, coming over from the American League."

Arroyo came to the Reds in 2006, coming off a season where he went 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA for the Red Sox. He's 70-60 in five years with the Reds, with a combined ERA of 3.97.

This past year, when the Reds won the Central, Arroyo went 17-10.

Marcum, who was the Blue Jays' opening day starter in 2010, went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA. Getting out of the AL East could help; he was 1-6 with a 5.64 ERA in 10 starts against the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees, and 12-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 21 starts against everyone else.

Coming to the Brewers should also help Greinke, even though Miller Park is much less favorable to pitchers than Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium. Greinke sometimes seemed disinterested in pitching for the sad-sack Royals in 2010, and in an interview today with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel , he admitted that he waived his no-trade clause to accept the deal with the Brewers because he was convinced that Milwaukee is now trying to win.

"Greinke can win in any park, if he wants to," one scout said. "He's a No. 1, if he wants to be. On good days, right-handed hitters don't have a chance against him, and lefties don't have much of a chance, either."

With Greinke and Marcum, the Brewers now have a real chance.

Take it from me . . . and from a few guys who were smart enough not to pick them to win in 2010.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 3:10 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 4:32 pm
 

Yeah, I picked the Rangers, but why do you care?

I picked against the Giants in the World Series, and I was wrong.

There. Are you happy now, Giants fans?

I have absolutely no idea why anyone would care who I picked to win, and even less of an idea why anyone would stop celebrating long enough to berate me for a wrong pick. But there were times over the last week that Giants fans had me convinced they got more pleasure out of me being wrong than they did out of their team winning.

It began after Game 1. It didn't let up, all the way through Game 5.

"It would be nice to see some form of mea culpa from you and the other Brainiacs who predicted a different outcome," wrote Chet, who was at least polite about it.

I'm not sure what this says about Giants fans, but I never got nearly as much e-mail about any of my other wrong picks over the years. And believe me, there have been plenty of them.

Maybe I ought to ask Judge and Prisco if 49er fans are the same way. Maybe it's the Bay Area.

I'm not sure I care. I'm not sure why you care.

But since you do, here it is again:

I picked the Rangers in 5. I was wrong.

Oh well.

Now, can we all look back to what we saw over the last month? Here's what I saw, through three rounds, 17 games witnessed in person, most of the others seen on TV, two train rides and nine flights stopping at seven different airports:

Best game: The very first one, or at least the very first one I covered. It's hard to beat a no-hitter, and in more than two decades of covering baseball, I've never seen anyone pitch as good a game as Roy Halladay did in Game 1 against the Reds.

Best moment: The Giants interrupting their celebration at Turner Field to salute retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox. It was a classy, classy move, and it should make anyone feel better that the Giants got two more chances at celebrating -- both of them uninterrupted.

Best moment II: On the field after Game 5 of the World Series, I was interviewing Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti, who grew up in Northern California, has been with the Giants for years and had never before won a World Series. Just then, the fans gathered behind the third-base dugout started chanting, "Thank you, Giants!" Righetti stopped, almost tearing up. "How cool is that?" he said. Then, thinking about the celebration back home, he added, "They're going to tear up the city."

Best song: No contest. It was the by YouTube sensation Ashkon , the Giants fan who wrote new words to sing along with Journey's Don't Stop Believing. The best line: "I had faith, and I had hope; And thankfully the Padres choked."

Best T-shirt: I never thought about buying one of those claw and antlers shirts that were so popular in Arlington. I did think about getting one of the "Let Tim Smoke" shirts in San Francisco. If you don't get it, check out Proposition 19 on today's California ballot.

Most disappointing team: Plenty of candidates, but it has to be the Twins, who played so well in September to get the best record in the American League, and home-field advantage through the AL playoffs. And they still got swept by the Yankees -- again. The worst part is that the Twins seemed to know what it would take to beat the Yankees. They tried hard to sign Colby Lewis last winter, and they tried hard to trade for Cliff Lee this summer. They didn't get either, and after they lost in three straight, they watched Lewis and Lee win three of the four games as the Rangers ousted New York.

Worst overreaction to a loss: Phillies fans, who sat in absolute disbelief as they watched the final outs in Game 6 against the Giants. The Phillies won 97 games, the most in the majors (for the first time in franchise history). They were the most impressive team entering the playoffs. They have their Big 3 starters ready for another go next year. And because they lost four of six games to the Giants, they're suddenly too old? Come on.

Worst timing for a movie: Isn't that Moneyball movie supposed to come out soon? Any chance they can rewrite it and reshoot it on the other side of the Bay? The Giants pride themselves on being the ultimate anti-Moneyball team, and the AL champion Rangers don't really subscribe to Moneyball, themselves. Funny that in the middle of a World Series between two teams that believe in old-fashioned scouting, the Mets would hire Moneyball founder Sandy Alderson to take over their organization.

Best team: Yeah, as if I'm going to pick anyone but the Giants. They were impressive, with a pitching staff that dominated and a lineup that didn't look good, but did just enough. I'm happy for Cody Ross, Andres Torres and Edgar Renteria, three of the nicest guys I covered in my years on the Tiger beat. I'm happy for Bruce Bochy, one of the best managers in the game, and for plenty of good people in that organization.

Believe it or not, I'm even happy for the Giants fans, especially those for whom this was every bit the lifelong dream that 2004 was for many in New England, or that 2005 was on the South Side of Chicago.

Maybe most of the country didn't care, as evidenced by the low ratings. Maybe it wasn't the best World Series ever.

But you could say the same about the 1984 World Series, and as I know from my time in Michigan, a whole bunch of people in that state consider it the best World Series ever.

Years from now, a whole bunch of people in Northern California will say the same about this one.

By then, maybe they'll forget that I picked it wrong. Or, at the very least, maybe they'll forgive me for it.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 12:11 am
Edited on: October 22, 2010 12:17 am
 

Texas leads New York in ratings game, too

ARLINGTON, Texas -- In today's column , I wrote about the opportunity the Rangers have this weekend to establish a new identity and build a new fan base by making it to the first World Series in franchise history. In that column, I mention that for the first five games of the AL Championship Series, the TBS ratings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (21.2) far exceeded the rating in New York (13.9).
I then asked TBS how that rating compared to the other cities during its coverage of the Division Series. TBS televises all Division Series games, and one of the two LCS each year.

The answer was that it's not bad. It's comparable to the best ratings TBS received in any competing city -- and far, far better than the Rangers games got locally in the first round.

The Rangers' local rating was last among the eight teams that played in the Division Series, although that can be explained in part by scheduling that had four of the five games played during the day (including two midweek day games). By contrast, the Phillies, Reds and Twins, whose ratings were the best, played only night games in the first round.

Here are the city-by-city ratings for the first-round games involving local teams:

1. Philadelphia, 24.6
2. (tie) Cincinnati 21.9
2. (tie) Minneapolis-St. Paul 21.9
4. San Francisco 15.6
5. Tampa-St. Petersburg 12.1
6. New York 11.9
7. Atlanta 11.6
8. Dallas-Fort Worth 10.5

And for the ALCS:

1. Dallas-Fort Worth 21.2
2. New York 13.9

The Texas market far outdid the New York market for each of the last three games:

For Game 3, it was 22.1 in Dallas-Fort Worth, 14.5 in New York. For Game 4, it was 26.5 in Dallas-Fort Worth, 17.1 in New York. For Game 5 (which began at 4 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. CT), it was 18.4 in Dallas-Fort Worth, 12.9 in New York.

Rangers people say that another factor to consider is that cable penetration in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is among the lowest in the country. That makes the low first-round rating more understandable, and the high ALCS rating even more impressive.

Posted on: October 8, 2010 6:33 pm
 

Lincecum was great, but he wasn't Halladay

PHILADELPHIA -- Tim Lincecum pitched a great game for the Giants the other night.

Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter.

Tim Lincecum struck out 14, but he also allowed two hard-hit doubles. Roy Halladay, as one Reds official put it, gave up a lot of six-hoppers to the infield.

Tim Lincecum faced a Braves lineup that, with no Chipper Jones and Martin Prado, is not really playoff-quality. Roy Halladay faced the team that scored the most runs in the National League.

Tim Lincecum benefitted from hitters who swung at pitchers out of the strike zone all night long. Roy Halladay made pitches in the strike zone and was so perfect that the Reds could never square the ball up.

I hate to even bring any of this up, because Lincecum deserves huge credit for an outstanding performance. But a column in the New York Times Friday suggested that Lincecum had actually done better, based on his "game score," and the idea picked up some support among those who value statistics above all else.

It was scoffed at by most baseball people who watched the two games.

"One's a no-hitter, one's not," one scout said simply. "End of story."

Reds manager Dusty Baker agreed.

While the stat guys value strikeouts over other outs, Baker said that Halladay "wasn't trying to strike guys out."

Baker watched the Lincecum game on television, and of course he was impressed. But he still put it a notch below what he saw in person from Halladay the night before.

"That's one of the best-pitched games I've ever seen," he said. "And I've seen a lot of them, and faced a lot of them. And I'm not taking anything away from what Lincecum did."

Neither do I.

It was a great game. It wasn't Halladay.
Posted on: October 6, 2010 1:54 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2010 4:11 pm
 

Phils open playoffs without Polanco

PHILADELPHIA -- Placido Polanco is out of the Phillies lineup for today's playoff opener with the Reds.

Manager Charlie Manuel said Polanco has a back problem, and that Wilson Valdez will start at third base instead. Manuel described the problem as stiffness in the middle back, and said Polanco came to him and told him he wasn't able to play.

General manager Ruben Amaro said the Phillies are hopeful that Polanco will be ready to play in time for Game 2 on Friday night.

"He may be ready by the end of the day today," Amaro said. "He's in [the clubhouse] getting treatment."

The Phillies have dealt with injuries all year. All four of their infielders spent time on the disabled list, and Valdez played 59 games at shortstop in place of Jimmy Rollins. Valdez also played seven games at third base this year, but he has played only 17 games at third in his major-league career (and only four games in his 11-year minor-league career).

The Phillies signed Polanco as a free agent last winter, and he had a very good season. In addition to being one of the best second-spot hitters in baseball, he played better than anticipated defensively at third base.

Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:45 am
Edited on: September 24, 2010 12:23 pm
 

3 to watch: The Giant issue edition

Even if you count the Rockies as now basically out of the National League West -- the standings say they're in serious trouble, their recent history says who knows? -- the Giants' three games this weekend at Coors Field are a potentially huge obstacle to San Francisco's chances of winning the division.

Despite what happened Thursday at Wrigley Field (a nine-run inning, a 13-0 win), the Giants' path to first place in the West has been built almost totally on pitching. Including Thursday, they've now gone 17 games since they last allowed four runs, a streak that according to the Elias Sports Bureau is the longest by any team in a single season since the 1917 White Sox went 20 games in a row.

Now they go to Coors Field, where the Rockies have scored four or more in 19 of their last 21 games, and where the home team hits so well that some Giants apparently think the Rockies have been monkeying with the humidor process .

Since Coors Field opened in 1995, only five teams have gone through an entire three-game series without ever allowing four runs. All five of those series have come in the humidor era (which began in 2002), but it still comes down to one series a season -- and it hasn't happened yet this year.

And the Giants, despite all their pitching and despite three trips a year to Colorado, have never done it.

Maybe that's why the Giants haven't won a season series at Coors since 2005. They're 2-4 in the first six games this year, so they'd need a sweep to win this season series.

Given the Rockies' collapse on the road this week -- they couldn't hold a 6-1 lead Sunday in Los Angeles, then got swept in three games in Arizona -- the Giants don't necessarily need a sweep this weekend. Their lead over the Padres is only a half-game, but San Diego also faces a potentially tough series, at home against the Reds.

Besides, the Giants' head-to-head showdown with the Padres next weekend will be at AT&T Park, where the Giants have allowed just 16 runs in their last nine games.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Tim Lincecum hasn't won at Coors Field since May 20, 2008. Then again, Lincecum hadn't won anywhere for a month before his 2-1 win over the Rockies on Sept. 1 in San Francisco. He's been very good the entire month, and maybe that means he'll win at Coors, too, when he opens the series in Giants at Rockies, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . While the Giants are 0-4 in Lincecum's last four starts in Colorado, he hasn't been awful, with a 4.32 ERA in that span.

2. The Reds enter the weekend with a magic number of 3, and that means the soonest they could clinch their first division title in 15 years is in Reds at Padres, Saturday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park . That would take a little cooperation from the second-place Cardinals, but all the Cardinals have been doing recently is cooperating. As Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse pointed out on Twitter, the Cards are 9-17 since Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols attended Glenn Beck's rally in Washington.

3. The biggest advantage the Braves have in the National League wild-card race is that the Giants and Padres play each other next weekend. That means for three of the remaining 10 days on the schedule, either the Giants or the Padres is guaranteed to lose (and that the team that wins could win the division and not affect the Braves' wild-card chances at all). For it to be an advantage, though, the Braves need to win. They need to do to the Nationals this weekend what they did to the Mets last weekend, and that means they need to beat Livan Hernandez in Braves at Nationals, Sunday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Nationals Park . Hernandez threw eight shutout innings in a 6-0 win over the Braves last weekend in Atlanta, and he's 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA in four starts against the Braves this year. The Braves starter Sunday, they hope is Jair Jurrjens, who missed his Monday start in Philadelphia with a knee problem. As manager Bobby Cox said, "He'd better be able to pitch." Sunday is also the Braves' final regular-season road game, which means it's the final time an opposing team will pay tribute to Cox, who is retiring at the end of the season. The best gifts he has received so far: a No. 6 from the scoreboard at Wrigley Field, a set of wine glasses with all the NL team logos from the Reds, and many checks to support his charity helping homeless veterans. Cox entered the weekend with 2,499 wins in 4,499 career games.




Posted on: September 3, 2010 11:02 am
 

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

We circle them on the schedule. We ask about the matchups.

We even feature them in 3 to watch.

And then, right before our eyes, the most important series of the summer can fizzle out before they even begin.

And we wonder if they were ever as important as we made them out to be in the first place.

Reds vs. Cardinals?

Remember what happened last time?

Yeah, we remember. In that all-important series last month in Cincinnati, the Reds did all the talking (and some of the fighting), and the Cardinals did all the winning.

Important series, right?

Yeah, except that the Cardinals seem to have forgotten that cliché about how every game is important, about how it doesn't matter if you win the head-to-head meetings if you then lose against somebody else.

Since those three wins at Great American Ball Park, the Cards are 5-13. They've won just one series (against the Giants), and lost five others -- all to sub-.500 teams.

The Reds, meanwhile, have gone 14-4. They've lost just one series (against the Giants), and won five others -- two of them against winning teams.

So now, as the Reds and Cardinals meet again, the Reds come in with an eight-game lead.

There's still plenty to talk about, and perhaps Brandon Phillips will open the series by doing more talking.

There's Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto. There's Walt Jocketty and Scott Rolen coming back to St. Louis as likely NL Central conquerors. There's Tony La Russa vs. Dusty Baker, and who knows if that's the last time we'll see them go against each other.

And, if you think the Cardinals still have a chance to catch the Reds, there's the point that now this really is the most important series of the summer.

And that's why we're still featuring it in 3 to watch.

1. Five of the last 10 teams to make the World Series had at least a seven-game losing streak at some point during the season. That's not a prediction that the Padres will make it, just a reminder that their current seven-game spin doesn't necessarily doom them to collapse. It does put huge pressure on them in the 10-game homestand that begins with Rockies at Padres, Friday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park . The first game would be an interesting one, anyway, because for the first time since May, the Padres are going away from their five-man rotation, in this case starting 25-year-old rookie Cory Luebke. For now, Luebke is only giving the other five starters an extra day of rest, but if he pitches well and ends the streak, manager Bud Black will have even more to think about in the days to come.

2. It's hard to blame the Cardinals' collapse on anyone in particular. You certainly can't blame Pujols, who has a 1.142 OPS over the 18 games. And as for the pitching, the Cards' team ERA over the last 18 games (4.15) is better than the Reds' team ERA (4.69) over the same span. But take a look at Adam Wainwright, who might have been the Cy Young leader after his Aug. 11 win in Cincinnati (which left him 17-6 with a 1.99 ERA). Wainwright is 0-3 with a 5.21 ERA in three starts since, heading into Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium . Travis Wood, Wainwright's 23-year-old mound opponent, didn't face the Cardinals in the series in Cincinnati. In the three weeks since, he's 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA.

3. The Yankees and Rays are both heading to the playoffs, but they say it's important to finish first in the American League East, in part because it means home-field advantage if the two teams meet in the American League Championship Series. In effect, there's the same kind of battle going on this weekend, in a series that ends with Rangers at Twins, Sunday afternoon (2:10 ET) at Target Field . The AL Central-leading Twins head into the series with a 1 1/2-game lead over the AL West-leading Rangers, which means that the Twins would have home-field advantage if these two teams met in the ALCS. The Twins have other things on their mind, with just a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place White Sox. The Rangers also have something else on their mind: Cliff Lee's back, which was sore enough that Lee had an injection this week in Texas. Lee's scheduled side session Saturday may be as important to them as any of the games they play this weekend.
Posted on: August 9, 2010 1:30 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2010 1:38 pm
 

Reds get Edmonds from Brewers

On the day they begin a big showdown series with the Cardinals, the Reds have acquired ex-St. Louis outfielder Jim Edmonds in a trade with the Brewers. Outfielder Chris Dickerson goes to Milwaukee in the one-for-one deal.

Edmonds played for the Cards from 2000-07. He was hitting .286 with eight home runs in 73 games for the Brewers, after coming out of retirement this spring.

A few teams had shown interest in trading for Edmonds last month, but at the time the 40-year-old outfielder had told Brewers management he wasn't interested in moving. But Edmonds likes the Midwest, and he played for Reds general manager Walt Jocketty when Jocketty was running the Cardinals.

With Jocketty, Edmonds and third baseman Scott Rolen, the Reds now have three contributors with strong St. Louis ties.
 
 
 
 
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