Red Reposter - Back to Cincy .500

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Dodgers take series from Reds
Things were starting to look up for the Reds after a 2-1 win against LA on Friday, but it went downhill fast after a bullpen implosion on Saturday and a horrific start from Travis Wood yesterday.  Wood obviously didn't have much working, as noted by Ramon Hernandez: "When you only get to pitch with your fastball, it's pretty tough. You need all your pitches to get hitters out of balance, get him in front, get him jammed. It's pretty tough when you're breaking pitches don't work."

I think Dusty Baker has been a decent manager of his relievers for the most part, and the bullpen has been solid this year.  So it's not entirely fair to complain about Saturday's fiasco, which was bound to happen at some point.  Still, it was discouraging to see Dusty burn through so many relievers given how often they've had to pitch.  The Reds used five different relievers for less than an inning on Saturday. As noted by the Baseball Reference blog, the last manager to do that was Dusty himself, on Oct. 1 last year, also an 11-inning loss.

The MLB Draft is tonight
And Fay speculates that the Reds could go for high schooler with 27th overall pick based on comments from the front office.  Jocketty:  "Sometimes you draft college players because you need that influx of players who get here sooner. We’re kind of at a nice place. Sometimes it depends on where you’re at as an organization. We’re at a point now where we could probably draft more high school kids. We have a lot of guys at the higher end."  Still, it's always tempting to select a talent closer to making the majors, and our own Thundering Turtle has predicted the selection of a college pitcher (Oregon LHP Tyler Anderson).  There's some video of him over here, and plenty of other draft info on MLB's site.  The draft starts at 7 and will be televised on the MLBN.  

The Reds now host the Cubs before heading out West for seven games with the Giants and Dodgers
So get ready to fret!  Tonight they'll face Matt Garza, who's been out with a bone bruise in his right elbow since May 17.  He allowed four walks and three runs against the Reds that day, but none of the runs were earned.  The Cubs have also recently gotten Aramis Ramirez back, who now has seven stiches on his upper lip after being struck by a batted ball. 

Mike Leake's start was bumped up to today, leaving open the matter of Tuesday's starter
All signs point to Edinson Volquez, who was back in the clubhouse yesterday, starting Tuesday.  But Dusty recognizes that mystery is a necessary ingredient in any long-term relationship, and is staying mum on the subject.  "This is all in theory," he teased.  Volquez claims that he's fixed his mechanical problem - stepping too far towards firstbase with his left leg during his delivery.  This puts him off-balance affects his control.  Volquez and Aroldis Chapman enjoyed the tutelage of Mario Soto while in Louisville (HT to Redleg Nation).  Soto feels good about the mechanical tweeks both made: "If we can fix their mechanics, it does a lot for the rest.  They both really responded well, have good attitudes about it. Chapman has been taking videos home and really studying. I think Edinson is getting back. He's throwing the ball better."

Speaking of Chapman, he won't pitch for the Reds soon
In three games for the Bats, his last on May 29, Aroldis struck out eight and walked two in 4.2 innings. He also threw two wild pitches, balked once, and allowed seven runs.  Dusty: "It is what it was. He's feeling great, physically, but there are a few things he's got to get together. For the sake of not having an answer, let's wait until we have an answer before you ask me again."  Chapman has been working with the Reds in Cincinnati since his last appearance but will pitch for the Bats before joining the Reds.  Dusty clarifies as only he can:  "There’s still a few things we’ve got to get together. For the sake of not having an answer, let’s wait until we have an answer before you ask me again, as to when he’s going to go out (to the minors). And to why, I’ll have an answer for that too. I know you want to know, and I know that he's news. But if you say the same thing every day ... you know what I mean?"  Sure.

Also noted: Homer Bailey threw off a mound for the first time since going on the DL with a strained posterior capsule in his right shoulder.  Bailey threw 25 pitches on Saturday, but said he does not expect to be fully ready until "a couple days" after his stint on the DL ends next Saturday.

Sam LeCure is eligible to return from the DL tomorrow (forearm soreness), but it's not clear what will happen. On Saturday he threw 25 pitches off a mound before the game. "I cut a few loose just to see where we're at, and that's kind of a big test throwing downhill. It's still a little bit tight, but it's getting better and better. We'll see how I respond. If it's good, I'll probably get back on the mound Monday. I don't know if they're going to have me do a rehab assignment."

Edgar Renteria's back is still bothering him.  He sat out his third straight game yesterday.  Meanwhile, Paul Daugherty wonders whether it's Zack Cozart time in Cincy.  But maybe Daugherty isn't the voice of reason to lead a Zack-attack campaign:  When a defending division champion spends 60 games treading water, we want scalps on the wall. We aren't particular whose they are. The bluster here centers around left field, shortstop and third base. Especially left field.

Bench's thoughts on l'affaire de Buster
Hey, why not.  Bench has known Posey for a while, ever since young Buster was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award (as the top collegiate catcher in 2008).  He also knows a little about catching.  
"[Posey] is a great kid - I called him after the World Series last year. When I heard about the injury, I was anxious to see how this happened. Buster put himself in such a bad position. First of all, my catchers don't sit in front of home plate. They stand away from home plate and work back to the plate. But we (catchers) are just fair game. You've got a guy running around third base at 210 to 220 pounds with 3 percent body fat and with sprinter's speed. I teach my kids to stay away from the plate when you don't have the ball so the runner actually sees home plate and his thought is, slide. But Buster is laying in front of home plate, and it's like having a disabled car in the middle of a four-lane highway. You're just going to get smacked. Show them the plate. You can always catch the ball and step, or step and catch the ball, as long as you've got the runner on the ground. And if you have the runner on the ground, there's less chance of any severe collision."

The Sporting News ranked Votto MLB’s 4th-best player, and Redleg Rap doesn't agree with one guy ahead of him
I’m sorry i’m not sorry, Albert Pujols is not the best player in baseball. The Cardinals were really smart for not giving him that monster deal this offseason. First of all statistically Votto was better last season, and his team went to the playoffs. Secondly Pujols is off to a not "Pujols-like" start.  Pujols certainly has not been as good as Votto thus far in 2011, but it's always best to avoid tempting fate.  Yesterday Pujols hit two home runs, including a walk-off against the Cubs. 

McCoy - Janish's defense earning spot in Reds lineup
It hasn't been a good year at the plate for Paul Janish.  His OPS is less than Ramon Hernandez's slugging average.  Still, Hal argues that Janish's glove justifies his role and points to an historical example in support:  It was 1958 and the Cincinnati Reds' shortstop was Roy McMillan, day after day after day after day. They played 154 games at that time and McMillan was at shortstop for 145 of them, despite a miniscule batting average that was at .229 when the season ended. Manager Birdie Tebbetts was asked, "Why do you keep playing that guy when he doesn't hit?" Tebbetts said, "Because his glove is worth 100 points on his batting average."
By 1958 McMillan was 28 and an established major leaguer, mixing in poor and credible seasons at the plate over six-plus years.  He had also just enjoyed his best offensive year in 1957, when he hit 272/371/357.  So there was a justifiable hope that his bat would rebound.  Janish also had a solid season at the dish last year, but only over 228 PAs.  He doesn't have nearly the major league track record that McMillan had at the same age, and his minor league performance doesn't lend any encouragement.  Janish will likely improve on his current 45 OPS+ but it's far from certain that he'll improve enough to justify a spot in the lineup. At this rate Janish will endure the worst offensive season ever by a Reds' shortstop.  Incidentally, Leo Durocher's 1931 campaign is second from the bottom on the list.  So while nice guys might finish last, total jerks can get pretty close, too.    

Baseball Crank - A History of Team Defense
Janish is a little reminiscent of Pokey Reese, whose range and arm made him one of the best defensive secondbasemen in 1999.  Together with Mike Cameron and Barry Larkin, the 1999 team enjoyed incredible defense up the middle.  The Baseball Crank identified five teams in MLB history that outperformed the league average in Defensive Effiiency (the percentage of balls in play converted into outs) by 5%, and that Reds team was one of them:
The 1990s also brought us the fourth of the five great defensive teams, the 1999 Reds, who led the league by a margin of 17 points over the Mets on the way to losing a one-game playoff for the wild card when their bats were stifled by Al Leiter. That Reds team is not recalled as widely as a great defense - it was the Mets that year who got the Sports Illustrated cover asking if they had the best infield ever - but with Barry Larkin, Mike Cameron and Pokey Reese, they had an outstanding defensive unit. Their home/road splits - .306 at home, .312 on the road - suggest that they did it without a huge amount of help from their home park.

Chris Sabo's Goggles - Reds Blog Jog, Saturday June 11
I've previously noted the upcoming Reds fun run, but I didn't realize that the blogs were getting into the action. Red Reporters represent! CSG implores its audience for support: Other blogs will try to convince you to show your support for them during the Blog Jog. Don’t listen to them — they’re probably drunk. Especially Redleg Nation. And Red Reporter (they’re the drunkest).  Hey! That's ... um, nevermind.

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