Yesterday, I linked to a Jon Heyman article; today, I'm linking to Tom Verducci. I'm so, so sorry, but at least Verducci has a point I'd like to relay: defense today is better than it ever has been. Verducci makes it through some 500 words without mentioning the "Verducci Effect," and while that alone is rather staggering, he also emphasizes how much better at run prevention the positional players of today are than in years past. As a side note, I'll make a rudimentary connection to the comparison I made last night between Andrelton Simmons and Zack Cozart: yes, Simmons is a wizard with the glove and is, in my opinion, the best defensive SS in the game...but a "replacement level" SS is no longer Jose Offerman, old Rich Aurilia, or the corpse of Edgar Renteria, so while Simmons has been a joy to watch, I have zero faith in a system that thinks his defense alone has added 5 wins more than, say, Paul Janish would have as the everyday SS for the Atlanta Braves. FanGraphs, I should note, currently has the Simmons/Cozart WAR argument at a much more reasonable and believable 4.2/1.8, which I think is just about right. Go home, Baseball Reference...you're drunk.
Now, to the Cincinnati Reds, who welcomed back resident Ace Johnny Cueto, and Cueto rewarded their patience with a stellar start against the Houston Astros. C. Trent Rosecrans caught up with Cueto after last night's contest (in which Cueto tossed 5 scoreless innings in a semi-efficient 82 pitches), and the Reds' righthander noted the importance of how well he felt as the biggest takeaway from his evening. Rosecrans also got some insight from Ryan Hanigan, who caught last year's 4th place finisher in National League Cy Young voting, and it appears Hanigan was impressed with what he saw, too.
As the famed -ManBearPig, our resident tincture scholar, noted yesterday, Sean Marshall was also activated by the Reds before last evening's game, and while that's been somewhat lost in the Cueto shuffle, it's potentially just as important to the Reds' postseason hopes. Mark Sheldon writes that Marshall is pretty well aware of his current status with the team with resident bullpen lefties Manny Parra and Zach Duke healthy and active, but it seems Marshall was eager to show his mettle firsthand to the guys making the roster decisions rather than via second-hand accounts from the Arizona abyss. He says he feels healthy, and at least now Dusty and Walt can see if that big curveball looks as good as it once did for themselves.
The Reds will be hosting a Hispanic Heritage Night on September 27th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Somehow, I just don't see that Red Reporter alt-account night going quite as smoothly as last season's 90's night. Just a hunch.