Magic Number is 10
Edinson Volquez is making the Reds' playoff rotation decisions very difficult
He's only started two games since going down to Dayton to work on his command, and those two games were against the two worst teams in the NL, but we've always been suckers for self-fulfillment. Right now, my NLDS rotation is Cueto-Arroyo-Wood. That can change over the next two weeks depending on how Volquez, Bailey, and Wood pitch, I guess, but I'm not close to handing the ball to Volquez. I'd almost prefer to see him pitch in the back end of the bullpen. But that's not what this post is all about. Check out this quote from Dusty:
"He’s throwing it as well as anybody we have right now," Dusty Baker said. "That’s a positive sign. I know he wanted to win, but we were more concerned and interested in the quality of pitching he’s displaying. He threw the ball well. He had pretty good command. He had an excellent change-up, good breaking ball. That one inning was the ball game." Emphasis is mine. Doesn't that sound like what Dusty would say after a Spring Training game? These games don't matter that much to Dusty. How cool is that? Can you believe it? Can you believe you're f****ing rooting for a playoff team?!
Drew Stubbs has been tearin' ass lately
In his last 22 games, he's been tuned in to a frequency of .317/.400/.537. "I think regardless of how the season goes overall, what everybody remembers is how it's finished," Stubbs said Thursday morning. "I've had my ups and downs throughout the year. I'm taking these last couple of weeks and month of the season to key in and try to finish on a positive note. Hopefully, it will help us carry some momentum into the postseason." (Did you notice the casual talk about the postseason?)
I wrote a piece after last year about how Drew Stubbs could potentially turn out to be as good as Joey Votto. Of course, that was before Joey Votto changed from an excellent hitter into the best hitter in the league, but the point still stands that Stubbs has great potential. His defense in CF is in the bank. He can pick it as good as anyone. If he can just hit like an average major leaguer he will be one of the more valuable assets in baseball. He's certainly had his ups and downs this season, and I'm still not sure which Drew Stubbs is the real Drew Stubbs, but I'm rooting like hell that September Stubbs is the real one.
I have praised Dusty more this season than I ever thought I would
His patience has proved meritorious numerous times this season, sticking with Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce when they were at their worst. Perfectly balancing the catching tandem of Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez has proved to be one of his masterstrokes. He's handled the young pitching staff incredibly well, as I cannot remember a single instance this season when someone was left in to throw too many pitches.
All that being said, his allegiance to Francisco Cordero as the closer is starting to get to me. When asked if Aroldis Chapman was being considered as a replacement, Dusty responded, "It hasn't changed. Chapman just learned how to relieve," Baker said. "That eighth inning and seventh inning is a whole lot easier than that ninth inning. Is this the place to experiment with that? With the guy that hasn't been there? In case he doesn't do it, do I go back to Coco and say, 'Hey man, I was just kidding.' Then you lose both of them."
First of all, he proves again that he fundamentally misunderstands the concept of leverage. The 9th inning isn't organically any more difficult than the 7th or the 8th. Ironically enough though, this plays to Dusty's favor the majority of the time. The most high-leverage situations are more often than not taken care of by Chapman, Rhodes, or Masset, who have all proven to be more effective than Cordero this season.
The problem I have though is that Cordero is pitching at all. At this point, I trust Logan Ondrusek more than I do Cordero. The only reason Coco still has his title as closer is because he's being paid like one. The playoffs is no time to be deferring to titles. Problem is, I understand Dusty's argument about "losing" guys, but if Coco is self-centered enough to put his wounded pride above the best interests of his team I'm not sure he's the kind of guy I would be catering to. He doesn't seem like that kind of guy from what I've read and I'm not saying he is, but that should not be coloring Dusty's decisions. I want to win dammit.
Homer Bailey lost points in the playoff rotation competition
He labored through 3 innings Wednesday night before leaving with dizziness. "I felt a little bit of light-headedness," he said. "I had a big headache. I thought my hat might be too tight. How many did I walk? Twenty? I had trouble keeping balance." You have to think that if there any concerns whatsoever about his health that Dusty won't hesitate to turn to Wood or Volquez instead.
Fairwell, Enerio Del Rosario
Hello again, Enerio Del Rosario. EDR was DFA'd to make room for Willie Bloomquist earlier this week, then he was picked up yesterday by the Astros in exchange for cash. It's an awkwardly protracted goodbye though as the Reds visit the Astros this weekend.
The wave of off-days has begun to crest
Brandon Phillips sat out yesterday's loss, not because his hand is still bothering him, or because he's been struggling lately, or because he's played nearly ever game so far this season, or because he's mentally fatigued, but because of all these things. Scott Rolen sat out the past two days for the same reasons (basically). This team IS GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS, and we gotta get our stars healthy and strong to push to the World Series. God, that feels good.
Baseball Prospectus has an interesting look at the most offense-heavy teams in history
The Reds have always been a team to hang their hats on their bats, and this year's vintage is no different. What separates this team from previous offense-heavy teams of the past decade is that the '10 Reds can also pitch. They aren't pitching the lights out, but even a league-average staff can cruise into the playoffs when the hitters are mashing like they are. Historically, the Big Red Machine is example #1 of this. Interestingly enough, the Reds have fielded 5 of the 10 most offense-dominant teams since 1954, thanks mostly to Frank Robinson.
Baseball Prospectus hitlist lauds our baby boy Jay Bruce
"Jay Bruce returns from a two-week absence due to an oblique strain and collects three hits including a pair of homers in his first game back. The blows help the Reds to their 82nd victory, thus clinching their first winning season since 2000, though with a eight-game lead and Playoff Odds above 99 percent, they've got bigger game in store. The homers give Bruce seven in a five-game span sandwiched around the injury; he's hitting .275/.344/.474 this year, good for a career-best .286 True Average." Bruce's fWAR this season is almost 4.0, a shade below what Joey Votto did last year. Does that mean Bruce is going to break out and have an MVP-type season next year? I'm not in any position to comment on that one way or another but...yes. Yes it does.
Should Jay Bruce win a Gold Glove this season?
I'm not in any position on comment on this one way or another, but...yes. Yes he should.
Kevin Mitchell plead not guilty to assault and battery after allegedly wailing on some phony at a golf course
Mitchell contends that the villain was plotting to poison Gotham City's water supply, but at this point Commissioner Gordon says he's grown weary of Mitchell's vigilantism and plans to set an example.