If you missed it yesterday
I feel a deep, painful sympathy for you. Joey Votto's 9th inning AB against Jonny Broxville was baseball bacchanalia. Fay says it was "worthy of an HBO documentary." Broxton blew two quick fastballs passed Votto's bat, stirring a tense Dodger crowd into an increasingly loud hush. Votto kicked at the dirt in frustration as Broxton circled the mound with increasing confidence. But as Broxton continued to pump fastballs, Votto's bat quickened. 96, 98, 99, the stadium gun lit up with glee at Broxton's display, but Votto was able to fight them off. He fouled off four impossible pitches as Broxton ran the count full. On the tenth pitch of the at-bat, Votto authoritatively drilled a line drive to left field to crush any hope of a Dodger comeback. Broxton was banished to the dugout in defeat. As he stood on 1B having bested another in a long line of great pitchers, Votto couldn't help but contain a smirk of self-confidence.
It was the best single at-bat I have seen all season.
Everyone here at RR knows Joey Votto is the MVP of the NL this season
And now he has Bronson Arroyo in his corner as well. "No question," Arroyo said. "If we win the division, he should be the MVP. Even if we don’t, he should be right up there. To carry a club that hasn’t had a winner in a long, long time. Just from a numbers standpoint, he’s as good as anyone in the game. He deserves everything he gets." We are experiencing a season like no other we have seen in quite a few years. You'd probably have to go back to mid-90's Larkin for a player season as special as the one The Say Eh Kid is putting up now. Every time Joey steps to the plate, I can't help but hear the Perfect Strangers theme song in my head. Nothin's gonna stop him now.
Q If you ran the Reds would you pick up Bronson Arroyo’s option for 2011 with all the young pitchers the Reds have available for the rotation? — Andrew, Nashville, Tenn.
A I don’t run the Reds and it isn’t happening, doggone it, but I would make signing Arroyo a priority. He has never missed a start, never been on the disabled list in his career and eats innings like comedian Louie Anderson eats lunch. Those young pitchers need a veteran presence and Arroyo is perfect for the job. He and Mike Leake already are inseparable — a couple of long-haired surfer-boy types with similar pitching styles.
So this is an interesting situation. Neither the Reds nor Bronson are gonna think about this until after they win the World Series (natch), but it's certainly not an easy decision. Bronson has an $11 mil club option for next season, which means if the Reds want to bring him back, alls they have to do is pay him the money. They can also decline that option and pay him $2 mil to go away. So basically, it's a $9 mil decision. But they ALSO have the option to decline his option and then offer him arbitration. By doing this, they would be in a position to collect 2 top draft picks in next year's draft if he were to decline the arb offer. If he were to accept the arb offer, he'd likely stand to get a decent raise on the $11 mil he's making this season. In this case, the Reds would probably end up paying Bronson $2 mil to decline the option and then another ~$14 mil in salary.
Got all that? OK, so what to do? In my esteemed opinion, I think the best thing is to just pick up the $11 mil option. As it stands, the Reds have Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Travis Wood, Homer Bailey, and Edinson Volquez likely to return to the rotation next season, as well as Matt Maloney, Sam LeCure, and Aroldis Chapman who all are looking to make the big league rotation next season. That is a ton of young pitching talent. It's embarrassing even.
But everyone knows there is no such thing as a pitching surplus. Arroyo is as yawn-inducingly predictable as any pitcher in the league, as he has been an average-or-better pitcher every year since 2004, never missing a start in that stretch. Which stands in stark contrast to his personality - the boat-drivin', intern-bangin', weed-bogartin' son-of-a-gun who is supposed to be the steadying veteran leadership this young rotation needs. I don't think we can afford NOT to keep him. (note: I wrote all this up yesterday afternoon before the whole conversation took place in the post-game thread. I wasn't about to cut it out thought 'cause I worked real hard on it. So that's that.)
Orlando Cabrera says he's ready to return from the DL
"We’ll see," Baker said. "I’m not sure. It’s going to be cool (in San Francisco). That doesn’t help the situation. When he says he’s ready, it will be a couple of days." They may wait until they return from the road trip. Even then, it should be a very difficult decision. Baker had high praise for Lando's fill-in: "He’s been outstanding," Baker said. "He’s got some key hits and key walks, especially in the eighth spot. You need a guy who is going to drive in some key runs and also bring the pitcher to the plate – via a hit or a walk. If the pitcher makes the third out, at least I’ve got Brandon (Phillips) leading off the next inning."
Janish has played every inning of every game since Cabrera went out. "He’s not tired," Baker said. "He’s had four months to rest." That last line is a real stinger. Janish blistered the ball his first week starting (.900+ OPS), but since then he's cooled significantly (.671 OPS). Still, the Reds are 11-4 since he took over at SS. Is that enough to Pipp Cabrera? Should it be?
How do you solve a problem like Harang?
Pitching coach Bryan Price was ominously diplomatic in his assessment of Aaron Harang's rehab stint. Harang has not pitched well, giving up 11 runs in 11 innings for AAA Louisville. He's looked strong and shown he can pitch a full game, but if he can't do it well he's not really of any use to a title contender.
"I think anything can happen," Price said. "The only thing we do know is he appears healthy and strong enough to pitch without risk of re-injury. Now we have to decide what's best for Aaron, what's best for our ballclub and make a plan from there." I think if he comes back at all, it will be in the bullpen. But at this point, even that is not assured. The Reds can keep him on rehab until rosters expand on Sept 1st, so they won't have to drop anyone for him. But who's innings would he take? It's such a sad, sad way to watch such a great player, and man, spend his final days with the Reds. If they can't even find a place for him in the 'pen this season, there's no way they can find a place for him next season.
I think Dusty kinda tipped his hand regarding his assessment of the outfield logjam
With 6 outfielders on the team right now, it's understandably difficult to find playing time for all of them. Especially for the one who plays strong defense at all 3 positions and is hitting the best of the whole group. "(Chris Heisey is) going to start tomorrow (Sunday)," Baker said. "It’s been challenging. You can’t play everybody. You’ve got to play who you think is best that day." I guess Dusty rarely thinks Heisey is his best option. With the team winning so much it's been increasingly more difficult to find things to criticize about the way Dusty is running things. But that certainly hasn't stopped me from trying. Heisey has been the best outfielder on the team. It really isn't even close. That may be because other teams haven't seen him enough to expose his weaknesses, but that's on Dusty.
The Fay has a ton of useful info in this post
Micah Owings will likely be given his outright release this week. When the Reds DFA'd him, they had 10 days to try to trade him. I guess nobody wants him. Johnny Damon is being shopped by the Tigers. I'd much rather have him than Laynce Nix or Jim Edmonds, but it's not a BFD. The third catcher for September will either be hotshot prospect-of-the-year Devin Mesoraco or hotshot moustache-of-the-year Corky Miller. It will most likely be the Corkster.
Mike Leake is making the most of his transition (don't say demotion) to the bullpen
He made his first relief appearance Saturday night: "It was all right. It was a good new experience," said Leake, who gave up two runs and five hits over 2 1/3 innings while throwing 49 pitches. "It's always a little different until you get used to something."
Jordan Smith is probably the most surprising player on this team this season
Kid jumped from AA where he was struggling to dispatch the Birmingham Barons and has thrown nothing but rocks since then. He had a 13 inning scoreless streak snapped a few weeks ago though, and it looks like the honeymoon is over. He's given up 6 runs in his last 4 innings. The way this bullpen has been going, it's going to be really difficult to say who stays and who goes when they have to set the roster for playoff eligibility. It would suck to see him left out, but it's gotta be somebody and these last 4 innings (even with the SSS) aren't going to bolster his case.
The Reds are set to continue playing AA ball in Zebulon through 2012
Everything I've heard suggests it's a good thing, so I don't have any reason to believe differently. Go Mudcats!
The Paper of Record has a nice little write-up about our quaint little baseball town
Baseball is back on the banks of the Ohio. Them big city folks are taking notice.
Fairwell, Sweet Lou
Lou Piniella has stepped down as manager of the Cubs. His mother is in poor health and he wants to spend more time with her. "She hasn’t gotten any better since I’ve been here," he said. "She’s had a couple other complications, and rather than continue to go home, come back, it’s not fair to the team, it’s not fair to the players. So the best thing is just to step down and go home and take care of my mother."
He was planning on retiring at the end of the season, but with the Cubs floundering there is really no reason for him to stick around with his mother in such desperate need. Sweet Lou will always be remembered 'round here as the fiery leader of the Wire-to-Wire Reds, the last Reds team to take home the trophy. So long, Skip.