Your old pal Fred, back again even though you probably didn't invite me. Nobody calls anymore. I got a text message from my grandson the other day. I tried to call him back, but he didn't answer his phone. I didn't know what was going on, and then he texted me back to ask why I had called. What? He wants me to text him back, but I can't on account of the rheumatism. It makes them little cell phones like a bear trap for my hands.
Old Man Regorter always told me, "Sonny boy, never wear out a welcome." Of course, he never sat in this really comfortable chair here. It even has an ottoman! He always sat in that ratty recliner of his, like the grandpa from Cheers. Plus, I get all the Faygo I can drink. So whether you like it or not, your old pal Fred ain't going anywhere.
So in honor of my Old Man, here goes my list of Cheers and Jeers for the first half of the Reds season.
Cheers for Brandon Phillips, who is tied for the team lead in RBIs with Joey Votto. This was a tough one for me to decide, because these guys are tied. But in the end, I had to give it to Phillips because Votto is hitting so much better (.348 vs. .280), but Phillips is still producing just as well as Votto. Doing more with less. So I ended up going with Phillips.
Jeers to Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce, who have struck out 77 and 76 times, respectively. You have to think Stubbs would be leading the team in runs if he didn't strike out as much, because he runs as hot as a pistol when he gets on the bases. And Bruce should be leading the team in RBIs what for the simple fact that he's batting behind the two best hitters, Phillips and Votto. But he's just not hacking it up there, hacking too much and not getting those clutch hits.
Cheers to Dusty Baker, who has given both Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick exactly 228 plate appearances so far this season. Now if that's not an equal sharing of left field duties, then I don't know what is. They've combined for 15 home runs and 53 RBIs, which over a full season would be 30 homers and 106 RBIs. That looks like a mighty good left fielder to me.
Cheers to Johnny Cueto, who is the ace of the pitching staff. He leads the team in wins. It's not just a one-man show though, as each major pitching category is led by a different pitcher. Alfredo Simon is tops in ERA (1.78), Mat Latos is the best in strikeouts (98), and Arolidis Chapman is numero uno in el saves-o. And don't forget Bronson Arroyo, who is the best on the team at by God gettin' it done. Now that's what I call a team effort.
Jeers to Billy Bray, who is floating a team-worst 11.25 ERA. Maybe he should try throwing with his right hand, like a normal human being? And whatever happened to Jason Hoover? That kid looked good when he was around.
And now that all that is out of the way, your old pal Fred will make some BOLD PREDICTIONS for the second half of the season:
Johnny Cueto will be the Reds first 20-game winner since Jose Rijo. He'll miss out on the Cy Young Award though because Tony LaRussa won't vote for him.
The Reds will make it to the World Series, but will lose to the Yankees in a sweep. The Yankees have been to the World Series for what seems like 10 straight years, spending King Steinbrenner's ransom to buy the best team they can. It's sickening to see a team like that spend over $200 million on one player while teams like the Reds and Pirates scrape the couch cushions for dimes. But this year, they get revenge on the Redlegs for when the Big Red Machine swept the New York Nine back in 1975. And George Steinbrenner will yell at Reggie Jackson, anyway.
I will eat Chipotle at least once a week, and will regret it every time. I think my office mates here will regret it even more, though.