Red Reposter - And now begins the pennant race

Lineup Lynchpin Ludwick. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

FanGraphs foresees messiness in the Pirates' 'pen
The Pirates made a number of moves at the trade deadline, with the exchange of Brad Lincoln for Travis Snider paramount among them. As a general rule, I think it is always a good idea to trade relief pitching for position players. Even an average position player is often more valuable to a team's success than a great reliever. But in this case, it could come back to bite them.

They basically swapped Lincoln and Casey McGehee for Chad Qualls and Travis Snider. It bolsters their lineup (probably), but weakens their bullpen (definitely). Lincoln is great, and Qualls is not. And with the rest of the Bucs bullpen due for regression, the stretch run could get rough for them. The stretch run starts tonight. High fives all around.

Marty Brennaman, The Poofy-Haired Fancy Boy, will have his head shaved on the field after the game tonight
The Enquirer provides an almost-funerary slideshow of Marty's coif over the years. This is going to be really fun, as I assume the huge match up with the 2nd place Pirates will sell out the joint tonight. If you head down to the ol' ball orchard, be sure to stick around until the very end. To hell with beating the traffic.

Sean Casey spoke with a Pittsburgh radio station (from Steelers training camp, of course) about the Reds-Pirates series
The Mayor has a unique perspective on this pennant race as a Reds' Hall of Famer who was raised in Pittsburgh and played for both teams. As you can imagine, he's really excited about it.

Joey Votto is getting better, but will not play this weekend
When Dusty was asked if Joey was ready he replied, "Oh, hell no." Points. Votto is working though, as he's starting taking ground balls at 1B and did some hitting for the first time on Wednesday. Honestly though, there is no rush to get him back. The team has won more than enough in his absence.

Devin Mesoraco was placed on the 7-day concussion DL
Cameron Maybin collided with him at home plate in the second inning on Monday, and then in the third inning he whigged out on the home plate umpire and was ejected. "They could tell I was a little bit weird up there, I guess, compared to what I normally am. It could have something to do with it," Mesoraco said.

He is appealing his three-game suspension for the incident, and the league could perhaps grant his appeal given the strange circumstances. Either way, concussions are no joke. Hopefully the week off on the DL will let him clear his head and there will be no lasting effects.

Earlier this week, John Sickels released his top 20 prospects review of the Reds farm system
It's been a good year for the Reds' farm, as the entire top 10 has, to a man, either improved their stock or at least held it steady. Todd Frazier was ranked #8 in the system before the season and he has played as well for the big league club as anyone could reasonably expect. He's a legit Rookie of the Year candidate. #1 Devin Mesoraco and #5 Zack Cozart have been solid contributors as well. And, of course, #2 Billy Hamilton has become one of the best prospects in baseball.

In case you were wondering, the recently departed J.C. Sulbaran was #12 in the preseason (Sickels still sees him as a sleeper breakout candidate) and Donnie Joseph was not in the top 20.

Like many of us, Blog Red Machine wonders aloud
if Ryan Ludwick's renaissance (more on that later today) will allow Brandon Phillips to move back to the lead off spot. Of course, that is all predicated on BeeP getting healthy, and Joey Votto getting healthy, too. But if those two are back in the lineup, and Ducky keeps hitting the way he's hitting, Dusty might be comfortable enough to juggle the lineup a bit. Dusty has already stated that Phillips will move back to the clean up spot when Votto comes back regardless of what happens in the interim, but Ludwick is doing his damnedest to change his mind.

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