I wouldn't count out #44 yet.
Reds tip Houston 6-5; take second straight series
Mat Latos did not follow up his best Reds start to date with another gem, though he noted after the game that "I got sick right before the game and I was grinding through it as much as possible." Seeing how his fastball averaged just 91, a few ticks slower than normal, I'm inclined to chalk today up whatever short-term malady ailed Latos. Thankfully, the Reds got the offense going enough to come back against Houston's bullpen. Bruce's solo shot in the eighth inning represented his fourth straight game with a homer, and it gave the Reds the one-run lead it would keep. The Reds' bullpen, as usual, threw rocks.
- The Reds are off today, so they finish April at 11-11. Not bad considering they started 4-8. Votto on the team's recovery: "The way we started was really ugly and it was a shock to everybody in the clubhouse and humbling. But it's a good thing. I'm a firm believer in that you don't want to start off slow, but there is nothing wrong with starting off slow. It keeps you in check, makes you work harder, makes you concentrate on the fundamentals. Those things are what will carry you through the end of the year."
Is Cairo returning this week?
Miguel Cairo is eligible to return tomorrow from the DL following his hamstring injury. He doesn't sound like he's quite ready to return, though: "I feel good but I think I have to run the bases first.... The good thing is, I feel good and my legs feel good. We'll see what happens on Tuesday, Wednesday or whatever." Frazier's hot bat gives the team some flexibility here, but ultimately the Reds will have to decide whether to send him back down or cut bait on Willie Harris. Harris' putrid start (at the bat, playing the infield, and running the bases) is making it much harder to believe in his track record of adequate OBP and defensive versatility.
The buzz to demote Leake is growing
On Friday Mike Leake suffered through another poor start, which looked worse thanks to some shaky defense. Leake allowed six runs (three earned) in just 3 2/3 innings against lowly Houston. He struck out one but allowed no walks or HRs, meaning that there were balls in play a plenty. And that turned out to be a problem. Hal calls Leake a "leaky oil derrick" and says that the Reds "have to be considering other options for the rotation — if they have any." Oh, and the one you're thinking about? "And don’t mention Aroldis Chapman Ain’t about to happen."
Dusty's got Leake's back, though
At least for now. Dusty: "Everybody can have three bad ones in a row. Don’t panic. Mike Leake will be Mike Leake." (I'm assuming that the editor left off the exclamation point.) Fay suggests that Jeff Francis, who allowed one run in eight innings on Friday, could get his ticket punched to Cincinnati.
- For his part, Leake said it's still a learning process. "I’m just trying to figure out throwing strikes and what not to throw. I’m just kind of stuck in the middle," Leake said as he looked at BP to the left him and Arroyo to the right. Throwing strikes hasn't been Leake's problem - he's in the zone 52% of the time this year, about ten points higher than last season. Even so, his contact rate has remained steady and his whiff rate has actually risen. This gives me some comfort that his abnormally low K rate (9%) should bounce back towards last year's rate of 17%. That, coupled with a regression of his strand rate (50% now compared to 72% for his career), should mean that we see the old Leake soon. So let's not panic.
It's early, but ASG voting is underway
This is hopefully the first of many starts for Joey Votto, now that vote-hogs Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are out of the league. Votto would be the first Red start the ASG at Firstbase since ...
Lee May in 1972,Big Klu in '55, if you can believe it.
Bobby Abreu, anyone?
On Friday, the Angels released Bobby Abreu to make room for wunderkid Mike Trout. Abreu is an accomplished player, owing a .293/.397/.480 career slash line with 393 steals. He's also 38. After struggling out of the gate this year, Abreu said he wasn't shocked by the decision: "It was a tough situation.... Now I'll just wait to see what's going to happen. I'll just be working and ready for whatever." So, could Cincinnati be Bobby's "whatever?" Abreu plays both corner OF positions, hit adequately as recently as last season (OBP-heavy 104 OPS+), and swings lefty with fairly severe platoon splits.
- Ever wonder how much thought Scott Rolen puts into his walk-up music?
"I've never picked a song. They can play whatever the hell they want, to tell you the truth. But when I was in Toronto they told me I had to pick a song, so I said ‘I'll let my daughter pick it.' Well, my choices were Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or Coldplay. So obviously I went with Coldplay. She calls it our song and dances around when it comes on." Good lord, this guy can make Coldplay adorable. Also, Ryan Ludwick had apparently come out to Brass Monkey for 11 years before this season.
- Hal collected an interesting Hanigan nugget from a scout yesterday
The scout mentioned that his GM was glad that Hanigan received a three-year deal last year. Why? "Because I've been talking about how we should try to get Hanigan and my GM said, ‘Now you'll quit bugging me about him.'" Hal notes that with two hits on Sunday, Hanigan extended his career-best hitting streak to eight games.
- Da Meat Hook is putting up his baseball cards for sale
It's for a good cause, specifically the foundation Dmitri runs for youth in his California hometown. Cards depicting Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, and other greats will be sold, and hopefully Dmitri kept his brother away from his Sandy Koufax collection. This interview from C. Trent is definitely worth reading. Among other nuggets, Young calls out Barry Bonds: "Deep down inside, when (Barry) Bonds hit [the record-breaking HR], I wanted to stick my foot out and trip him.... It's not the steroid issue, it's the [jerk] issue. To each their own, but when you're on an All-Star team with a guy and your son goes up to him and says he appreciates what you've done and he ignores him and walks off -- I take that personal. Very personal."
- Some thoughtful, candid comments from Votto, courtesy of the Gray Lady
On his contract extension: "I was going to sign a very large contract, regardless. I could have been Carl Crawford in Boston and had a rough first year. I could have been Albert Pujols in Anaheim with a little bit of a slow start. I could have been Alex Rodriguez with Texas, having an incredible life of that contract and still getting backlash. It's just part of the gig. But I wanted a contract of this magnitude. Although it's intimidating and there's a lot of things that come with it, it's one of the goals of my career. The money, the years, it represents an achievement. But there's going to be hard times." The NYT also notes that Votto spoke with Todd Helton and Arroyo about the advantages in fan treatment by signing an extension and staying in one place.
- The SweetSpot reviews the greatest nicknames
A little surprised to see no. 14 take the crown at 1B: "Charlie Hustle. Yes, it fits on a few levels. It should be pointed out the nickname was originally derisive -- opposing players mocking Rose for running to first base after drawing a walk." And while El Beeperino should've taken the honor at the keystone, at least one RR mod is likely to favor SweetSpot's selection: "Frankie Frisch: The Fordham Flash. Yes, he went to Fordham. Yes, he was fast."
- Ever seen a badder looking pig?
Mustachioed or otherwise?