The always lovely Mrs. M and I attended last night’s Red’s baseball game vs. the Brewers. Although Milwaukee is in collapse mode, the Red’s young guns were exhilarating to say the least. J. Votto and J. Bruce is as exciting a pair of young players in my memory. I remember great former Red’s #3 and #4 hitters like: Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan and George Foster, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez …Bruce and Votto, (barring injury) are poised to contend with these greats amd can potentially exceed them. Joey Votto looks like a 30 – 35 HRs/ 90 RBI a year hitter and Jay Bruce – The sky is the limit, when he’s really gets going he will one great player. I remember seeing and FEELING Josh Hamilton at GABP last year. At the plate he emanated a visceral personal power and confidence. Tonight I ‘felt’ the same kind of special qualities almost radiate from both Bruce and Votto.
I am aware that it easy to play better when there is little on the line.
The Reds have been playing against teams who have/had a lot on the line: St Louis, Arizona and the Brewers and beating them with young but highly talented and intense players. Ryan Hannigan is fun to watch..he’s really into every pitch and he has taken control on the field. What a killer group of young players we have!
Votto–1b, B Phillips 2b, Edwin Encarnacion 3b, Jay Bruce–RF, Ryan Hannigan–C
Chris Dickerson – CF, Johnny Cueto P, Edinson Valquez P, Ramon Ramirez P, Micah Owings P, Jared Burton RP
Combine these guys with veteran players – Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Jeremy affeldt, Fracisco Cordero and David Weathers and you’ve got a very strong nucleus for 2009. Jerry Hairston Jr. continues to contribute and the Reds win a lot more games with him the lineup that without him playing. Can Alex Gonzalez make a comeback? What role will Jeff Keppinger play- will he and Hairston provide the core for a long awaited and much needed stronger bench? And will Yonder Alonso surprise us and fight his way up to the big club sometime next year.
I can’t believe that I’m writing this but last night I saw it..the Reds are only 2 or 3 players away from being a competitor. We could use a Mike Cameron kind of center fielder, a right handed batter who can still play great defense, hit 25 home runs, knock in 75 RBIs and bring established veteran leadership. The Reds need a decent hitting slick fielding shortstop – maybe that will be Gonzo, or it could even be Jerry Jr. for a year, he looked very comfortable there tonight. We need a strong back up catcher, maybe its Bako but he doesn’t inspire confidence offensively although he’d be a left handed hitter off the bench. I could see a team with a line up like this:
Chris Dickerson LF
FA (Mike Cameron style) CF
Affeldt – I think they can sign him
Micah Owings P/PH
Jolbert Cabrera. – he makes sense as a veteran back up.
No Freel, no Noho, No LLM, No Corey, no Belizzle, No Merker.
Although it won’t happen, if Yonder came of age overnight…then with Joey in leftfield…well things get even more interesting.
So what do you do with Micah Owings – Pitcher or convert him to CF?
My comments as usual not sabremetrically supported. I’ve watched some good red’s teams come together over the last 50 years and I do believe that the energy and intensity and talent that is emerging is cause for optimism for a significantly strong 2009.. This is especially in the case of the starting rotation. With continued quality starts, a decent BP and young talented hitters…well you get the picture.
Dusty appears much more comfortable with this group of players than when Griff and Donkey were here. This may be ‘his’ team. Hopefully he won’t fuck it up.