Cueto shuts out Giants, Reds sweep series Johnny Cueto pitched the Reds' first shutout of the season yesterday, walking just one against six Ks and 11 groundouts. He paced himself masterfully, having plenty of gas to blow through the Giants' lineup in the late innings. By Bill James' Game Score it was the top pitching performance of the Reds' season, with the top three all coming against San Francisco. Cueto, with enough innings now under his belt, is the league's ERA leader. Meanwhile, the offense was easy to love, with Drew Stubbs and Edgar Renteria reaching base seven times at the top of the order and Votto, Alonso, BP, and Bruce producing in the middle with eight RBIs. Todd Frazier, or "The Toddfather" as his friends back home may very well call him, chipped in with his first career HR. It's now back-to-back sweeps for the Reds, though regretably the prior sweep involving the Mets was the bad kind.
"Hey Ramon! Best of ... I mean, good to see that ... you're still here." The non-waivers trade deadline passed uneventfully for the Reds yesterday. Walt Jocketty declared that "we're not sellers" on Friday, and apparently he meant it. Like they did last year with Cliff Lee, the Reds once again came close but failed to land the marquee pitcher on the trade market, Ubaldo Jimenez, or any other player for that matter. Walt Jocketty on the trade buzz: "We thought we were maybe yesterday. In the end, it probably was not as close as we thought it was. We tried working on a number of big deals and some of the guys that were traded, we were in on most of them." According to Sheldon, the big issue was the return in prospects demanded by the selling teams. Walt: "Some of the requests for us, we felt were ridiculous and a lot more than we were willing to pay. Not just one or two [prospects]. It just didn’t make good sense for us in the short term or the long term. So we pulled back. We still believe we have enough talent here to win the division."
I'm not that disappointed in the team's failure to reel in a big fish, but that's because I disagree with Walt's bolded statement above. The Reds stand 6.5 games out of the lead with three teams to catch. As of Sunday, Cool Standings gave the Reds a 15% chance at making the playoffs, while Baseball Prospectus gave the Reds a miniscule 4% chance. The odds aren't good however you slice it, which is why several teams were puzzled by the Reds' refusal to shop Hernandez. With one of the league's best backups and the best advanced catching prospect in the minor leagues, the Reds could have afforded to deal from an area of strength while capitalizing on Ramon's 52-week high (ticker: CMM). They still might try to do so but must pass him through waivers first, which seems unlikely given that he's not anchored down by a long-term deal.
The Reds' middle-of-the-road approach has been to the detriment of their youth If you're not going all-in for this year, you need to develop the talent that will contribute to your next playoff team. The Reds standing pat this weekend is not unlike my daughter's potty-training - she doesn't want to leave the seat, but she's not doing anything either. Instead, she's content for me to read and re-read the same old Clifford and Dr. Seuss stories while she sits there. Similarly, the Reds are (wisely) not gambling on an improbable finish this year but they're also not doing what's best for 2012 in allowing Todd Frazier and Yonder Alonso to atrophy on the bench. Frazier has now started in three of the 10 games since Scott Rolen has been sidelined, though in Dusty's defense Miguel Cairo has continued to produce during his starts. But there's no excuse for burying Alonso. Alonso has pinch-hit four times (collecting three hits), and started zero games. Dusty claims that Yonder will get a start in LF "at some point. We've been working him out in the outfield." Everyone's been conditioned to expect mediocre defense from Alonso, and I think most people expect that. We just want to see him hit already.
Brandon Phillips was on the trading block? I hadn't heard that one, but apparently if you're a major leaguer with over a hundred thousand Twitter followers, you hear a lot. "I've heard my name out there and, man, you never know. When a team is losing like we are, you hear about the team saving money and trying to go get something else cheaper, y'know? Hopefully, nothing happens because I love it here and I want to stay here with my teammates."
Bucs Dugout conducted a retrospective valuation of prospect ratings Specifically on C+ prospects as gauged by John Sickels. There are a few diamonds in the rough, but as a group they ain't worth much. Sickels assigned that grade to 189 players in 2003. 29 (15 percent) have compiled a respectible career (at least 3 career WAR). That group does feature a couple of MVPs, including Joey Votto. Good thing he wasn't flipped for Erik Bedard as rumored a few years ago, yeah?
DDN - Slugger Lutz dialing long distance Very nice feature about Dayton's slugging 1B/OF, Donald Lutz. Lutz grew up in Germany, and made the national team by 16 after playing for just one year: The first time he came to the plate in a game, he hit a home run. "I didn’t know much about baseball," he said. "I remember my brother had a little poster from the era of Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, but other than that I didn’t know any players." HT to Doug Gray for the tweet.
Rockin' Redlegs were treated to a tour behind the curtain last week Always good to see the Reds treating the respectful bloggerati well. Gapper in particular deserves praise for making a special connection: Yes, it took a minute to feel comfortable with him, but I think our boy Gapper deserves a redemption. Actually, Gapper and I are on more-than-a-first-name-basis (if you know what I mean.) Literally, TWSS.