While the Reds were sweeping a Central foe, I dragged my family up to Cooperstown for a long weekend upstate to pay homage to the greatest Red of my living memory. And it ain't over yet, as I'm hoping I can convince everybody to return tomorrow morning for the final events of induction weekend. In other news:
Reds small-ball their way to sweep
The Reds scored just two runs yesterday against Milwaukee, but it was enough with Johnny Cueto on the hill. Wilson Valdez was straw that stirred the Reds' offense, driving in Chris Heisey with a single and later scoring on a sac fly from Brandon Phillips. Logan Ondrusek and Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th to seal the 2-1 victory.
On to Houston
The Reds concluded a successful homestand and starts a three-game series tonight in Houston. Mat Latos and Wandy Rodriguez will duel, in the baseball sense. Wandy has a 4.42 ERA in 142.2 career innings against Cincinnati.
The Votto rehab window looks to be another three weeks
Joey Votto successfully underwent knee surgery last Tuesday. By all indications his rehab is progressing normally. He was expected to return in 3-4 weeks. Dusty has stressed that "I'm not going to rush him and expect him back sooner."
- The GABP homerun streak is over at 74, so we won't have to hear about that any longer.
The FanGraphs Trade Value series always raises some interesting questions
A couple of Reds bookend nos. 36-40, though they're not in the order you would think. FanGraphs is still bullish on the 25 year-old Bruce while skeptical of Cueto's FIP-defying performances. I don't agree but it's an academic question - I'm thrilled to have both on my team for the next several seasons. On Bruce, FanGraphs notes: Yes, the average is down this year, but Bruce’s is a legitimate power bat (he’s on pace for his second consecutive 30-homer season) in a league that currently has fewer of those than in quite some time. At his current age (25), there are reasons to believe that Bruce still has his best years ahead of him, too.... That’s a risk that a number of teams would be willing to make in a trade.
Buried in a note about Bruce's slump is an update on Nick Masset
The righty is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session this weekend in Goodyear. It's been anything but good for Masset this year, as he's spent it's entirety on the disabled list with a bum shoulder. If all goes well, he'll throw in an Arizona League game this week.
Reds (and Simon) hope they keep drawing
Fay writes that the Reds' attendance is up, but that there's room for improvement. The Reds are now on pace to draw 2,340,576 overall. That would fall just short of breaking the Great American Ball Park record of 2,355,259, set in 2003 – the year the park opened. The big numbers in the weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals showed the Reds are getting there as far as attendance. Tuesday’s crowd (against Arizona) of 19,142 showed they aren’t there. I think that's a tad harsh. The Reds are 17th in the majors in attendance, overperforming their market size. Still, they lag key competitors Milwaukee and St. Louis by significant degrees, and it's not as if those cities are that much bigger.
Gomes ain't walkin', or at least not admitting it
The new-look A's, who brought in Jonny Gomes as well as many other new players this past offseason, have surprisingly competed this year. The A's rebranding has included a farwell to the bedrock Moneyball principles of getting walks and not stealing, as Gomes explains: "I know the history of this club was built on that (on-base percentage), but let's be honest. At the end of the day, it's who touches the plate. I've never been one to try and walk. I'll take it, but that's not what I'm up there to do. No one's ever walked their way to the big leagues or into an All-Star game or the postseason." Gomes has enjoyed a renaissance season with the A's (135 OPS+), who have wisely limited his appearances against righties and in the outfield. They key to Gomes' rebound? An excellent walk rate of 14%, which has fueled a his .255/.372/.484 slash line.
Reds Review: Marry Larkin, Trade Stillwell
Sure, it looks obvious now. But the Reds faced somewhat of a dilemma in determining who would inherit the shortstop position from an aging Dave Concepcion - Barry Larkin or Kurt Stillwell. Both were high first-round picks, but according to then GM Murray Cook, "the coaching staff felt very strongly about it." The Reds dealt Stillwell to Kansas City before the 1988 season in a deal that netted them Danny Jackson.
Stillwell went from playing under Marge Schott to eventually working for Scott Boras, which has to give him some sort of "horrible bosses" distinction. Stillwell recalls now: "It was a frustrating time, like any time when you’re not playing and you want to find your way. One of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life to this day was to go in and talk to Pete Rose and try to find out what was going on. He said, ‘Well, Opie, I’m not going to give you away.’ But they traded me for a pretty darned good left-hander in the off-season."
5,000 days since the Konerko-Cameron trade
Chris Jaffe noted last Friday that it had been 5,000 days since the Reds swapped Paul Konerko to the White Sox for Mike Cameron. That's November 11, 1998, in case the math fails you. The decision to use Sean Casey or Paul Konerko at firstbase was the Reds next big position question following Larkin-or-Stillwell. Konerko was just 22 when he was dealt, a well regarded prospect but not hitting much in less than a hundred big league games. Casey was a year older and appeared more polished. He hit a solid .272/.365/.417 in 96 games in 1998 after he arrived to Cincinnati via the surprising Opening Day Eve trade with Cleveland.
It's remarkable that
5,000 days14 years later, Konerko is still going strong. Casey, meanwhile, retired four years ago. But the two were evenly matched in their turn-of-the-century youth. In the five seasons following the trade, Konerko OPS'd .829 in 729 games. Casey OPS'd .830 in 696 games. He also posted much better fielding numbers, winning the WAR battle 9-6.