CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 24: Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after giving up a two-run home run in the ninth inning to Josh Willingham #16 (not pictured) of the Minnesota Twins during an interleague game at Great American Ball Park on June 24, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Twins won 4-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
It was a week to forget thanks to the AL Central, but the Reds maintained their slim division lead as they approach the season's halfway point. Bullet time:
Chapman's on everyone's mind after blowing Sunday's save
Blog Red Machine takes a look at the Pitch F/X data and confirms that Aroldis Chapman has abandoned his slider this past month: So what’s the difference between the April/May Chapman and the June Chapman. It appears to me that he’s fallen in love with the fastball again. The April/May Chapman mixed in the slider and the changeup. The June Chapman is throwing 90% fastballs. The April/May Chapman was throwing 60-70% fastballs. When Chapman mixes in the devastating slider and a changeup, hitters cannot sit on the fastball. Hard to disagree with any of this. It's been discussed ad nauseum that using Chapman as a reliever would stunt his development beyond the fastball/slider combo, but I didn't think we'd see him regress to becoming a one-pitch reliever.
The Reds HOF welcomed Sean Casey, Dan Driessen and John Reilly this weekend
Fan favorite Sean Casey was unsurprisingly selected by the fans, while the "veterans committee" tabbed Driessen and John "not C" Reilly. Actually, Reilly's middle name was "Good," which was perfectly appropriate given his superlative hitting. His nickname was "Long John," and I'd rather not guess whether that was appropriate. OMGreds attended the gala and reports Marty's reaction to Sean Casey's praising of former GM Jim Bowden: Later in the evening, Marty said to Casey: "Of all those people you thanked … Jim Bowden??? God almighty! You’ve gotta be kidding me!!" Red Hot Mama is thrilled to welcome Casey to the Reds HOF, but notes that if he were on the roster today, he wouldn’t even be the oldest one: Miguel Cairo has his beat by two months. Heck, Cairo is older than democracy in Egypt!
And not to pick on poor Cairo, but he's not contributing much to a sorry bench
The worst bench in the NL, in fact, according to C-ing Red: And the Reds bench ranks dead last in OPS. That’s probably means we’re not doing great, any way you cut it.... Our bench wins the sabrmetric triple butt award. A stark contrast to 2010, when every player with at least 100 PAs posted an above-average OPS save for Paul Janish, who still slashed .260/.338/.385 to go along with pretty defense.
Fees, fees - everywhere you look, there's fees
Ticket buying can be an exercise in gouged frustration given the myriad of fees added by sports teams, concert promoters, and plenty of other companies. Baseball is no exception, but according to this study, "The Reds are the best. Sure they’re low in part because I couldn’t find parking for them, but if they have a typical parking cost, they’d still be the lowest." As we've discussed before, cheap parking can be found just across the bridge.
- Cueto and the very early race for the Cy Young
R.A. Dickey and Matt Cain have deserved all of their plaudits, but Cueto has arguably been the best in the league. By adjusted ERA, Cueto's 187 tops Dickey (163) and Cain (156), and he's within a handful of innings of each. He won't out-DIPS those two due to his significantly lower K-rate, but as we all know, Johnny keeps it in the park, on the ground, and holds runners better than anyone.
- Hamilton, Lotzkar named to Futures Game roster
We'll hopefully see Votto, Cueto, and some others play in next month's All-Star Game in Kansas City. But the kiddie pool game will also showcase some Reds talent in Billy Hamilton and Kyle Lotzkar. Lotzkar, a Candian, will play on the "World" team and gets himself a fistbump from Votto.
- A look at the competition
The Reds still cling to a slim division lead even after their interleague bludgeoning. I agree with THT that Pittsburgh is playing over their heads, but St. Louis looming in the shadows sure gives me the creeps. Whether they can make a sustained run in the second-half likely depends on their health and willingness to upgrade their roster before the trade deadline: At this point, the Cards are trying to assess their needs and determine what pieces they need to attempt to add to their puzzle as they make a push to return to the playoffs. The uncertainty of Carpenter's, Berkman's and Garcia's return dates complicate their plans, but ownership and fan support typically makes a late-season run likely in St. Louis.
- Phillips for Stevens, redux?
Probably not. Last week the Reds purchased former first-round draftee Beau Mills from Cleveland last week. Mills, the 13th overall in the 2007 draft, played first and third and hit well through high A. He struggled for a couple of years before hitting well last season (.289/.347/.513) between AA and AAA. This year's been a struggle, so the Indians decided to cut bait. Mills' old man is managing Houston, so unless Beau makes a really big splash in the next couple of months he's not likely to square off against dad's team.
- Blog Red Machine keeps its chin up about Mat Latos
Noted is Latos' considerably better second-half performance during his young career: Check out later in the season. July: .197 August: .211 Sept/Oct: .259. All of the evidence above suggest Mat’s best days are ahead. I noted in a game thread last week that half of Latos' 16 HRs have been allowed in two games - last week in Cleveland and the Colorado game here at the end of May. Whatever's going on with Latos, it's more likely between the years then anything mechanical.
- Stubbs returns today
He rehabbed in Dayton over the weekend, which frankly doesn't sound like a very fun weekend. He reports he's now "pain free" after the oblique injury.