Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, there was a talented, well regarded young pitcher with stats that just didn't seem to match the level of talent possessed in his right arm. Despite rocketing up prospect lists and cracking the majors at a young 22 years of age, he'd gone just 20-25 with a 4.61 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and 93 ERA+ through his first two season in the major leagues. But that precocious pitcher wanted to learn, and he sought advice from the grizzled old veteran who lived in a van down by the river. Soon, the young pitcher made a plane levitate out of a swampy pond using nothing but bad special effects and mind bullets, and by 26 he was a Top 4 finisher in the National League Cy Young Award voting. That pitcher was Mitch Cumstein, but ESPN's Jerry Crasnick chronicled the tweak to Johnny Cueto's delivery suggested by Bryan Price, and the delve into the Luis Tiant motion-revolution is well worth the read.
Mark Sheldon is notebooking again for Reds.com, and his latest edition had some snippets on Zack Cozart's recent hot streak, our favorite Jumbo, Mat Latos and his rehab starts, and why Donald Lutz hasn't been playing since his callup. I'm still a bit baffled by the Lutz issue, frankly. Not that Neftali Soto was a world beater, a ball beater, or even an egg beater, but I'm not sure why the Reds opted to send him down in favor of the lefty swinging Lutz immediately before facing 3 tough left-handed pitcher and Adam Wainwright. Did they not look at the schedule?
The MLB Draft is rapidly approaching, and if you're of the mind that the Reds should get middle infield help as quickly as possible, well, Jim Callis's article for MLB.com probably won't make you too happy. There's simply not a lot of draftable players at those positions at the top end of the draft, which starts June 5th, and many of those who profile as potential major leaguers don't profile as sticking as either a SS or 2B. Also, the ones that do stand little chance of being available when the Reds' picks roll around at 19 and 29. Maybe the future of the Reds middle infield really is Carlton Daal and Ryan Wright...(laughs hysterically).
Ryan Braun hasn't just haunted current Reds, he's haunted former Reds draftees, too. As HardBallTalk's Craig Calcaterra noted, former Reds' 29th round pick in 1998, Neiman Nix, and his South Florida clinic apparently got wiped out thanks to MLB's Biogenesis investigation, and Nix has filed a lawsuit in the wake. With zero knowledge of any of the goings-on in the investigation and subsequent lawsuit, my initial leaning is that the court system needs to give MLB a solid kick in the asterisk.
The Reds are 22-27, sit 6.5 games behind the division leading Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, and are mired in 4th place behind a Pittsburgh Pirates team that looked as if it was struggling much worse than the Reds. They've scored the 29th fewest runs in baseball, have hit the 24th most dingers despite playing home games in a matchbox, and their team OPS of .677 has them just one place above the lowly Chicago Cubs as the 25th best in the major leagues. So here's an otter raiding a vending machine to cheer you up, Reds fans.