Jay Bruce is on the rise, with a 1.009 OPS thus far in August, buoyed by a monstromental weekend against the Cubs where he walloped 4 home runs. Coming off the worst month of his pro career, many were crying for the young buck to be sent back to the minors to learn him a thing or two, but loyal readers of this space will remember that I was not one of them. He's one of the main reasons this team is has 17 wins so far this month.
Tons of injury news to share from the weekend
Mike Leake was mercifully DL'd with a tired shoulder. Kid was the best starter on the staff in the first half, but that star burned out quickly. His ERA for August is a rubenesque 8.83. It's not clear at this point whether or not he's done for the season. They will probably let him rest a few weeks and then see how his stuff looks. If he can get the bite back on his sinker we might just see him in the playoffs. Either way, my hat goes off to him for an exemplary rookie season.
Miguel Cairo hurt his leg last Wednesday in San Fran
And SURPRISE!!! he's not on the DL. Add his name to the list of walking wounded on the Reds roster. As always, there's really no knowing when he'll be ready to go. Winning the Needless Complication Award at last night's Emmy's, Chris Heisey served as the backup middle infielder in the Cubs series. You gotta hand it to Dusty and Walt. They sure got brass ones.
Brandon Phillips' hand is not broken
which means he won't go on the DL. How many teams can say they took 2 of 3 games from the Cubs with only 22 players? We can take heart though, because BeeP pinch-ran on Sunday and scored a run. That means he'll be back in a few days, right? We are going to take this pennant the most difficult way possible.
Laynce Nix makes it the tryfecta
His sprained ankle needs a couple more days, per Dusty. See, I can understand taking the wait-and-see route with BeeP. This Reds team does not win this division without him. He needs to be on the field as soon as he possibly can. But with Nix and Cairo it is completely different. These are just bench guys. Granted, they have been two of the finest bench players the Reds have had in many years so far this season, but they are not so indispensable that they cannot be replaced for two weeks while they recover on the DL. It's reckless to try to play a weekend series with no bench. Look for them to do the same damn thing against the Brewers now.
On the other end of the injury spectrum
Aaron Harang will rise from the ashes like a phoenix on Tuesday in Cincinnati. He says he's not worried about the fact that he got owned like a rented mule on his rehab stint. "I wasn't worrying about the outcome. I wanted to get my feel back, getting the repetition and timing. I've felt great throwing my bullpen [sessions]. I haven't had any [back] issues." The Reds are suddenly scrambling for a 5th starter to anchor the rotation down the stretch, and the poetry would write itself if the much-maligned Harang were to make good. Unfortunately, his critics are loud and common sensical.
Orlando Cabrera is understandably frustrated with his stubborn oblique injury
but he is also quite rational in his assessment of the situation. "If I rush back and get hurt now, that's being selfish," Cabrera said. "Janish has been getting big hits for us and playing unbelievable defense. There's no reason to push it." He's gonna shut it down for 4 or 5 days and hope that does it. He's eyeballing the Cardinals series now as a tentative goal. You know, it's a shame that it took Lando getting hurt for me to come around on him. He's shown far more while on the DL to prove to me that he's a winner than he ever did on the field.
The scuttlebutt is that Aroldis Chapman was legitimately clocked at 105 mph
On the mound, not on I-75. Dusty Baker's biggest worry was whether or not he threw strikes. He did. Here's Hall o' Famer Hal's best quip on it: "I told Baker that a witness in Louisville e-mailed me to say she saw Chapman’s two 105 miles an hour pitches and I e-mailed her back and said, "You didn’t see them. You heard them."" Now that Francisco Cordero looks like he's settled down and Nick Masset is throwing rocks out there, having Chappy step into the bullpen for the stretch is very exciting indeed. The Angels did the same thing with K-Rod back in '02 and rode him to at title. I'm not sayin', I'm jus sayin'. Yaknowwutimsayin'??
Edinson Volquez was scheduled to start yesterday
but he has been officially bumped from the rotation. Instead, Aaron Harang will take his spot and pitch on Tuesday. I don't think Volquez will pitch much out of the bullpen, aside from an emergency situation. With expanded rosters coming soon, I think the Reds will take advantage of the extra arms and let Volquez try to sort out his mechanical issues on the side. Of course, the idea of having Volquez and Chapman pitching back-to-back in the 7th and 8th is an intriguing one. That's a spicy meatball!
Chris Dickerson quite literally runs out of his shoes to make a grab in CF
This one is for you, Highlifeman21.
Dusty Baker takes a very utilitarian view regarding the regular invasions of Cubs fans into GABP
"I’ll tell you one thing, the Cub fans are going to come out regardless of what. They’ll probably be here (Cincinnati) this weekend. There’ll probably be more Cubs fans than Reds fans. We welcome them because we need the attendance. We need the attendance so we can sustain and get some more ... players, that is." As long as the Reds keep winning and fielding top-quality teams I would think the ratio of Cubs to Reds fans would steadily decline. Until then, we should be more than happy that they are buying so many Mike's Hard Lemonades in our fair city. And hopefully they choke on them.
Q Seems to me the MVP is Joey Votto’s to lose. What does he and the Reds have to do for him to win it? – Pat, Troy
A It would help if the Reds won the division and not St. Louis, because then we all know who would win. All Votto has to do is to continue playing like a super hero. But you never know about voters. The year Steve Carlton won the Cy Young, I was the only voter who didn’t vote for him. I voted for LA’s Jerry Reuss. Well, he did beat the Reds five times that year.
Q With all the travel involving West Coast and East Coast teams, why doesn’t MLB split the map in half and split the leagues to put all teams in the East in one league and all teams in the West in the other league? — Glenn, Hamilton
A First of all, somebody would have to send MLB a map and show them how to use it. It does make sense, but teams have to agree to shift leagues and we’re talking 30 teams. In baseball, you’re lucky if you can get two teams to agree on one thing. In baseball, all things are answered with one word: tradition.
Radical realignment is always a fun topic to kick around for an afternoon, so give me your best ideas for how to split the leagues on an east/west (or north/south) axis.
The Fay has a very sensible and rational appraisal of the role of "chemistry" on this team
"Chemistry is hard to define," Baker said. "You can have all the chemistry you want but if you don’t have talent, you aren’t going to win. If you can’t play, you can’t play." That is a very astute assessment, if you ask me. Many have extolled the virtues of leadership and chemistry with this team, but as Fay and Baker say, it amounts to very little if you can't play the game well. Here's Fay's take-away line, which I found particularly poignant, if a bit hyperbolic: "So, sure, the Reds have a good thing going as far as chemistry and leadership. But they also have talent. Elmer Dessens in his prime is a long reliever on this team." For the record, Elmer Dessens in his prime ('01 and '02) is the #1 starter on this staff (~3.6 rWAR average for those two seasons). But the point still stands. This team plays good baseball.