It's the last Monday of the regular season. The Reds head to New York to play the Metropolitans, who will not only finish the Reds' 2011 season but also their employment of former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky. It's the merciful end to a forgettable year, but nevertheless, it's been emotional. The links:
Dontrelle can finally cross off the "W" from his 2011 to-do list
The Reds avoided the sweep yesterday in Pittsburgh as Dontrelle Willis threw a Quality Start and added a go-ahead two-run double. He's had his moments during the last two months of the season, and while he's not a favorite to make the 2012 rotation I think he'll get the opportunity to compete for it. He certainly didn't deserve the punishment meted out by BP after the game.
END's unlikely defensive tutor
Juan Francisco had three doubles on the weekend, but it's his improved defense which has surprised me the most. Some of the improvement may be attributable to a pep talk from the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez was one of the few bright spots during Dusty's Chicago years and has maintained a relationship with his former manager, which looks to have paid dividends for END. Baker: "He’s one of the guys that took it upon himself to talk with Francisco the same way we talked to him about how bright your future could be, what he was in that stage, really working out this winter, getting into tip-top shape and give yourself the maximum chance to prosper in your career, no matter what role, that is until the time comes you can possibly be playing every day."
Jocketty, Phillips' agents to start talks this week
Walt is already on record as saying that the team will exercise its $12M option for Brandon Phillips. Whether BP remains a Red beyond 2012 will likely depend on whether the parties reach a longer term agreement this winter. Jocko: "We've had some discussions. It's more of just continuing discussions." BP has gone on the record that he will not be cutting the Reds a break, but he really does seem to enjoy playing in Cincinnati and I suspect that he was posturing more than anything.
Dusty to return next season
After the team announced Walt Jocketty’s extension, there was some speculation - mostly from me - that Baker could be on his way out. That does not appear to be the case. Fay notes here that Baker and the entire coaching staff will return in 2012.
Daugherty - 'Moneyball' offers guidance to Reds
Doc re-read Moneyball and thinks about its meaning for the Reds. Most of the article is reasonable - particularly on giving Alonso a shot in LF - but picking on Stubbs for his strikeouts is very un-Moneyball: I have no idea what Stubbs could do if he cut his K total by half. (Remember when 100 strikeouts was considered excessive?) That’s a Bill James problem. But I’m guessing he’d hit close to .300 and score 125 runs. Uh, sure. Andromache considered the Stubbs quandry in much more detail, and I completely agree that he should be back as the starting CF next year.
Grant Brisbee has gotten a headstart on scripts for the next big baseball movie
I think Fish Balls is the most promising of his projects. I also think that with Moneyball's testosterone-fueled target audience, an adult film parody is likely. Moneyshot, perhaps.
Lost in the Moneyball hype machine last week was a seminal BPro article about pitch-framing
Catchers have always been tough to evaluate defensively, but Mike Fast has dug through the PitchFX data to value each catcher's ability to frame pitches for strikes. Skipping to the results, Ryan Hanigan places among the top quarter (which was supported by THT's study earlier this year), while Ramon Hernandez rates well below average. The gap between the two is considerable - 19 runs per 120 games caught, or about two wins. It might be interesting to see who on the Reds' staff was helped and hurt by this. In any event, I recommend reading the article, especially the parts where he breaks down by video the techniques that curry favor with umpires.
It's looking more and more like expanded playoffs will be coming
The bb-ref blog links a NY Post article reporting that the new collective bargaining agreement will add two wild-card teams. The two WCs in each league will face off in a one-game playoff to determine who gets to face the league's top seed. This will apparently be in place either next year or 2013. I'm for it. The playoffs have become even more of a crapshoot after the '94 realignment, so it's not as if an elimination game between two non-division winners strips the process of integrity. What it will provide is sudden-death drama which we only see when a series is pushed to the maximum number of games, which is pretty rare.
After 200,000 games, Marty Noble looks back at the first
On Saturday, MLB's official 200,000th contest was played between two of the game's most historic franchises, the Astros and Rockies. You might think the first game involved the Reds, since they're credited as the first professional baseball team. You'd be right, sort of. On Saturday, April 22, 1876, the Boston Red Stockings defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 6-5 at the Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia. The Red Stockings were the successor of the original Cincinnati Red Stockings. That team folded after the 1870 season, and player-manager Harry Wright took three of his guys from Cincinnati to form a new team with the same name and uniforms in Boston. That team eventually became the Atlanta Braves, not the Boston Red Sox. Similarly, the Philadelphia Athletics squad is not the franchise of the same name that began play in the American League. Simple, right?
September 26, 1961: Reds 6, Cubs 3
While this season winds down to a pitiful close, fifty years ago today the Reds ended on a much higher note, clinching their first pennant in 21 years at Wrigley Field. The Reds scored all their runs from the sixth inning on, powered by home runs from Frank Robinson, Jerry Lynch, and Johnny Edwards. Jim Brosnan summed up the season: "the wind has been blowing right for us all year." Hopefully next year, the Reds enjoy more favorable currents.