Probably the biggest news of the morning is the Reds' reported deal with Gary Matthews Jr
"It’s not done yet," assistant general manager Bob Miller said. "It will probably get done." We have all known this day would come. Walt has been doing such a fine job lately though that I guess I was able to deny it. Matthews is exactly the kind of washed-up, no-talent, doing-a-favor-for-an-old-friend player Dusty Baker would want to bring aboard. For all Walt has done to prove to me that he is totally in control, this one shouts "Dusty Baker Has More Front Office Influence Than He Should" louder than any since Corey Patterson.
Now, before we all go kill ourselves, let's remember that it is just a minor league deal and he will very likely never see time in Cincinnati aside from the frequent visits to Dusty's house for dinner and Wii ping pong tournaments. The Reds are stacked with clearly better outfielders, but Louisville is not. Middle infielder Chris Burke has been playing CF for the Bats since Chris Heisey's promotion, and though he hasn't totally embarrassed himself, the team could certainly use another outfielder. So as much as I want to chuck my computer across the room, I don't think this is anything over which to lose your skittles.
Jon Heyman lists the best moves made in the past year
The Scott Rolen trade ranks at #5 on his list.
"When the Reds acquired Rolen at last year's trade deadline, no one quite understood why Cincinnati wanted a 34-year-old with a history of recent injuries and a big contract. But Rolen had a year to go on his deal, was thrilled to go to Cincinnati (he's from Indiana) and it shows. "This is the best I've seen him in years,'' one scout said. He's helped the Reds become the biggest threat to St. Louis' supremacy in the NL Central by batting .301 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs."
I was a very vocal critic of this trade at the time. On July 31, 2009 Rolen was a 34-year-old 3B who had played an average of 106 games a season over his last 4. Injuries to his shoulder and back had sapped his once prodigious power. He was owed the remainder of his $12 mil for the '09 season (of which the Blue Jays paid some unknown portion) and $12 mil for the '10 season. He was pressuring the Blue Jays to trade him, putting them in a very difficult position. An unhappy, oft-injured, expensive corner infielder is a very unattractive commodity on today's baseball market. Add to that the fact that the Reds were flailing and in no position to "buy" in that market, and this is why I was against trading two of our best pitching prospects for him, even if it was a clear upgrade at 3B.
Of course, things could not have turned out better for the Reds. Aside from a beaning in the noggin soon after the deal, Rolen has been healthy. And not just healthy, but downright vital. He's hitting like he hasn't hit in years, as his 145 OPS+ is his best since his MVP-caliber '04 season. Many in the clubhouse and the media sing his praises as a steadying influence for the younger fellas. I'm almost waiting for the other shoe to drop, it's too good to be true.
I know I'm going to sound stubborn and childish here, but I still think it's a bad idea to trade two of your best pitching prospects for an injury-prone, aging, declining corner infielder, especially when his former team is desperate to unload him and you are closer to last place than first. But the Reds bought the lottery ticket and it paid off big time. Any investment strategist worth his/her salt will tell you that gambling is the worst way to invest your money, but sometimes it really is better to be lucky than good. My hat goes off to Walt Jocketty for choosing the right horse on which to bet.
You know what I want?
I want an easy win. I want a 6-1 lead with the starter cruising into the 7th, the kind of game where you can go to bed early and sleep easy knowing it's in the bag. I guess that's too much to ask right now, huh? The offense was stymied again last night for a solid 9 innings until hitting 3 big homers in the top of the 10th. Jay Bruce wants you to know that the Reds are that 10th inning team, not the team they'd looked like for the 40 or so previous innings. "We lead the league in all of those offensive categories for a reason," Bruce said. "We know we can hit. We've had some bad luck and bad draws with the opposing pitching. But we have to beat good pitchers to be the team we want to be. We hit a lull the last couple of days, but we're fine." God, I hope so. I could use a good night's sleep.
In injury news
Edinson Volquez will not pitch today on rehab assignment with Louisville. Because he is expected to throw around 90 pitches, he is being given another day's rest and will pitch tomorrow instead. He has been accelerating rapidly on his rehab and the expected date for his return to Cincy is continually being bumped up. You could see him back in Red before Independence Day as long as everything goes well. That is nuts.
Regarding Ryan Hanigan and Homer Bailey
Hanigan caught Johnny Cueto's bullpen session and all looked well. He will likely begin a rehab assignment shortly. As for Homer, he hasn't done anything more than stretching and exercising. Trainer Paul Lessard said, "We upped the intensity today. He’ll be throwing by the time we get back home." It could be a while for Homer. And to think, he didn't want to come out of the game in which the injury originally occurred, he didn't want to go on the DL, and he didn't want to go on the rehab assignment. That is nuts.
Only two players have reached base safely in 30 straight games this season
and one of them in named Bruce Willis. Have you voted for Joey Votto in the All-Star balloting today?
You see that crowd around the monkey bars out there on the playground?
That's Dan of OMGReds showing off his '91 Chris Sabo Starting Linup figure with Special Edition Collector Coin. Yeah, I know. I hate him too.
Fanhouse's power rankings have dropped the Reds from 8 to 17
I know this is self-evident, but they can't afford any more sweeps at the limp hands of a last place team if they want to keep their power rankings standings respectable.
Stu Sternberg, owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, is getting to the end of his chain
The Rays play in The Trop, a converted WWII-era Air Force hangar. It is entirely unsuitable for anything other than storing piles of old air plane parts. Even though the Rays went to the World Series in '08 and have been one of the most exciting and successful young teams in recent years, nobody is coming out to see them. "Our ability to compete and, quite frankly, to survive rests on our ability to attract people and businesses to our ballpark," Sternberg said. "Our customers are our fans. And like any other business, we need to be in a location that is convenient for our fans to reach us."
So Stu laid down the law, saying he is willing to move the Rays out of St. Pete if he has to. Right now, it sounds like that means moving to Tampa, but it's not a stretch to assume it could also mean moving to Orlando or Las Vegas or Mars or wherever a fanbase will support them. To Be Continued.
What should the Cubs do at the deadline this season?
Jack Moore isn't quite ready to say they should downshift to sell mode, but they are currently 5.5 games behind our 2nd place Reds and 7 behind the Cardinals. If they do end up selling, they really have nothing to help us (not that they would anyway). They are losing because their high-priced players are under-performing, so very few of them are worth trading for. I guess they could get really hot and get back in this, but it's looking more and more like this is a two-horse race.
Doc Rodgers of 700 WLW has announced that he has terminal lung cancer
Though I do not listen to his show regularly, or much at all really, he is still One of Us. In honor of Doc's personal Titanic Struggle, Diamond Hoggers is asking for donations to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America. I know I speak for everyone here at Red Reporter when I wish Doc the best of luck and God speed.