Sam LeCure isn't so LeLucky
He lost to Astros de-facto ace Brett Myers yesterday, which is nothing new to the current 5th starter. He faced Chris Carpenter, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, and Felix Hernandez in consecutive starts last year. LeCure held his own, holding the Astros to just two runs over five innings while striking out six, but Myers was too strong. "There were a couple of times I got a little bit complacent out there, and I think that cost us," LeCure said. "The first pitch to Lee that he hit into the gap was a get-me-over fastball. I didn't have a whole lot behind it. He took advantage and did what good hitters do. A couple of walks was me being kind of lazy."
Dusty Baker preaches the merits of defense
He is proud of the fact that the Reds have committed only one error thus far, and sends out feelers for a new nickname for the team. "They were known as the Big Red Machine for their offense, but they were really The Big Red Vacuum as much as anything," said Baker. "They had Johnny Bench, while Pete (Rose) had Gold and Joe (Morgan) had Gold and (Davey) Concecpion had Gold and I would imagine (Ken) Griffey. I know (Cesar) Geronimo had Gold. They had six or seven Golds out there. "I don’t know how many times I can say it, but that’s the name of the game (defense). Everybody sees hitting and they only judge a good ballplayer if he can hit. Most of it is offense and hitting, but if you are going to play winning baseball you have to catch the ball."
Are this year's baseballs juiced?
After the barrage of home runs over Opening Weekend, some began questioning the constitution of the baseballs. Harder, more tightly-wound balls will travel farther, so it could be one explanation for why we are seeing such an offensive explosion this week. Or perhaps it's just a week's worth of baseball, and statistical fluctuation explains everything. That's what Jeff Passan would like to tell the conspiracy theorists, if they weren't so busy not listening to him.
While I agree with Passan with regards to the small sample size, I think it's naive of him to completely discount the idea in a historical context. The constitution of the ball has changed numerous times in baseball history, mostly at the behest of the league. They call it the Deadball Era for a reason. Ironically enough, Passan then turns around and looks back just a decade ago, when home runs were leaving the park at incredible rates. He wants to say the root cause was juicing players, which, if you ask me, is far more reductive and useless as blaming juiced balls.
Look, to think the explosion of home runs this week is because MLB changed the ball is myopic and ridiculous, but to think the ball has forever been and always will be the same is just as ridiculous. While we are talking about conspiracy theories, it wouldn't surprise me at all if MLB secret agents were right now at this very minute dropping off a briefcase of twenties to Passan's unmarked PO box.
Chad at RLN is cautiously optimistic about the upcoming West Coast trip
Yes, the Reds are 5-1 and have absolutely destroyed the competition thus far, and yes, the Diamondbacks and Padres are not especially strong teams this year, but we are all too aware of how the Reds often perform so far from home. Chad is hopeful for a .500 road trip, and I'll admit that that is not a terrible result. But this Reds team should do better than that against these rebuilding teams and I want them to come home having won at least four. How do you project this road trip to turn out? Vote in the poll below.
SI's first edition of the MLB power rankings has the Reds atop the National League
and second overall to the Rangers. "The Reds' play in the season's first week has only validated their projected standing as the class of the NL Central and, possibly, of the league as a whole. Cincinnati is scoring 8.6 runs per game, allowing 3.4 runs and sporting a +26 run differential, which is the best in baseball. The offensive onslaught has been most impressive -- especially with the first three games coming against the Brewers, the Reds' projected top division rivals. Cincinnati leads the majors in runs, batting average (.339) and on-base percentage (.404) and the NL in HRs (eight) and slugging (.531)."
BtB reduces the season for each team down to one crucial player
For the Reds, that player is Jay Bruce: "His breakout during the later part of 2010 was huge for Cincinnati's run to the playoffs. They may not be able to repeat it unless he can prove that breakout is sustainable."
The Reds announcer stable continues to expand unabated
After exclusively working the Reds FSO broadcasts last year, Thom Brennaman will go back to his old job as announcer for the FOX Saturday Game of the Week. The Reds will be on eight of those broadcasts, which was the main reason Thom agreed to return. When he's away, the Reds will bring Announcer Emeritus George Grande out of retirement to fill in. Sean Casey will work a number of tilts against the Pirates this season as well.
In a shocking turn of events
Red Hot Mama actually defends Tony LaRussa for his sensitivity to the media. It's just unfair the way they demand answers to such unreasonable questions: "I mean, how unfair: to ask how the team that contains Albert Pujols, a guy many people still think is the best player in baseball despite the evidence of Joey Votto, in his contract year, has scored only 15 runs in 6 games and sports a 2-4 record. Just because it’s the most important question facing this team doesn’t give them any right to actually ask it. Don’t people have any respect?" Burned.
The Clutch Blog has a compendium of team tattoos
The Reds edition is less-than-inspiring, but I really like the realism of the White Sox edition, the cartoonishness of the Tigers one, and the badassitude of the Brewers one.
Jason Catania looks at some players that started in the minors this season
but could possibly make an impact in the bigs. One of his first candidates is our Zack Cozart. Here's a bit of what he says about him:
"Edgar Renteria and Paul Janish are the most obvious hurdles between Cozart and a big-league job. Though they’re both off to roaring starts, the 35-year-old Renteria is no longer capable of handling everyday duties, while the best that can be said about Janish is he’s a passable defender who can occasionally take a walk (8.8% BB rate). The bigger issue could be the reigning NL Central champs’ playoff aspirations: Would a contender really be willing to hand over the starting shortstop job mid-season to a rookie? The guess here is yes, especially after the Reds endure a couple months of Renteria and Janish."
I think the Reds have proven over the past few years that they are not 100% dedicated to Janish, which is certainly warranted. I don't think Cozy should get to comfortable in AAA, because if he can perform well enough he probably has a legitimate chance to unseat the current shortstops. Color me skeptical, though. At the very least though this will be something to keep an eye on as the season moves on.
In case you haven't seen it (they have a video in their post), Swisher slid hard into Nishioka to break up a double play and ended up breaking Nish's leg, too. Gershman's argument is that though the slide is legal, it's still not kosher. And furthermore, if it were Nish breaking Jeter's leg, he believes the response from the media would be different (most folks seem to be ok with it). What do you think? First, was it a legal slide? Furthermore, was it an ethically okay slide? Were Swisher's intentions to hurt Nishioka as well as break up the DP? Should Nish have done a better job of clearing the bag to avoid the slide?
Your current #Reds hitting leader (at least 10 AB): P. Janish. As I mentioned above, I'm not fully convinced he will last the season if Cozy can apply the pressure, but right now the honeymoon is still raging.
Loved seeing the billboard on the way down to the park with Mr. Redlegs on it encouraging people to skip work today. Redlegs, you rascal! I love the idea of Redlegs as a Hamburglar-type character, running around town causing mostly harmless mischief.
RT @BrianKroger @johnfayman can you give an updated reds record since acquiring rolen?//123-84 after he came off DL in '09 Whose Reds are these?
At this pace, Dusty may roll out the General Zod line from Superman II: 'Is there no one on this planet to even challenge me?' The Fayplacement showing off his nerdlingerness. I like it!
Yonder Alonso, the left fielder, with a great diving catch robbing Danny Worth of a base hit! Here's hoping Yonder's glove can stick in the outfield. This is definitely a good start.
Devin Mesoraco with a #BATSBLAST exiting the ballpark! His first of the season and first for the #Bats. Bats trail 4-3. Mesoraco's power trip continues unabated.
Lunch with Reds bloggers today. If I'm not back by 1:00, send help. Oh. Well. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail.