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Red Reposter - The Return of the Masset Hound?

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 22: Reliever Nick Masset #40 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 22, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 22: Reliever Nick Masset #40 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 22, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Sheldon and Clements: "Masset building toward possible late-August return"

Nick Masset appeared in Wednesday's game for the Bats. He struck out four, issued no walks, and allowed a run in two innings of work. Masset has now made seven appearances for Louisville this season in his quest to return to the major league club. Reds pitching coach Bryan Price thinks that Masset's next step is to appear in consecutive games (tentatively August 23rd and 24th). Price went on to say:

If he's activated in August, and it looks like he will be, he will be potentially taking a position from somebody that's been here who's healthy and is able to take the ball four or five times a week out of the bullpen . . . August means that he's ready to do what all the other guys in the bullpen are capable of doing, and we need to prepare him to do that.

Sheldon and Clements also report that Cueto will likely start the day game on Saturday. While both starters are officially TBA, Todd Redmond looks to be the favorite to start Saturday's night game. Finally, Dusty Baker believes Sam LeCure is on track for a return without a trip to the disabled list. LeCure completed a throwing session on Wednesday.

Red Hot Mama: "Baker talks about Hanigan in the 8 hole"

Amanda expresses some frustrations concerning Hanigan's spot in the lineup. She says that Baker knows about the fans' concerns, but he believes that Hanigan is "a perfect eighth hitter and perfect for what we need on this team." Baker cites Hanigan's ability to get on base and turn the lineup over as examples of his suitability for the eighth spot.

C-ing Red: "Mike Leake Wasn't Perfect But, You Know, Whatever, Close Enough"

Andromache breaks down Mike Leake's masterful performance from Wednesday night's game. Hopefully, Leake's outing is a sign of things to come rather than another result of his inconsistency. In addition, Andromache hopes that the Reds helped Johnny Cueto's Cy Young candidacy by knocking around R.A. Dickey for five runs.

McCoy: "How can the Reds be better without Votto?"

The Reds have been on a tear without Joey Votto. One only has to look at the numbers (batting average, anyway) to see how much slack Votto's teammates have picked up in recent weeks. The formerly disappointing trio of Rolen, Stubbs, and Ludwick have put up much better numbers to extend the Reds's lead to six games in the N.L. Central. McCoy briefly mentions Frazier's Rookie of the Year chances, something that will require more attention as we enter September.

Yellon: "Devin Mesoraco Still Waiting For Suspension Appeal Date"

The Red Reporter favorite says that players no longer have to wait until a road trip to New York to appeal a suspension. The process is now handled via video.

Redleg Nation: "A lineup thought experiment for the Nation"

Steve Mancuso plays manager when he attempts to divide future playing time between Rolen, Ludwick, and Frazier upon Votto's return. Mancuso prominently features post-All Star Break numbers, which this author thinks is a bad approach. However, the question remains, with 12 available lineup spots per week (six games times two positions), how many starts should each of these players receive?

Elsewhere in baseball:

Neyer: "With Suspension, Is Melky Cabrera Batting-Title Favorite?"

Baseball Nation's own investigates some rest-of-season projections for the batting average leaders. Dan Szymborki's ZiPS (available for free at Fangraphs) projects Cabrera as the favorite to win the batting title. Neyer mentions that it's unlikely that Votto comes close enough to the plate appearance requirement to win the crown.

THE BOOK BLOG: "Holy Writers to Outrage soon: Melky Cabrera likely batting average champion"

Everyone's favorite anonymous saberist predicts hilarity if McCutchen's average slips in the final six weeks of the season. Tangotiger explains: "The Holy Writers are in no position to judge morality. And batting average is a peripheral stat that doesn’t deserve any prominence."

"Kap: Cubs, Castro working on long-term deal"

David Kaplan, from Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, reports that the Cubs are attempting to sign Starlin Castro to a long term deal. The Cubs are expected to lock up Castro for at least six years, so as to buy out two years of free agency in addition to his arbitration years. This would be good news for the Cubs and bad news for the rest of the N.L. Central. Castro's agent has confirmed the rumors.

Sullivan: "Waiting game for Jackson"

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune provides some perspective for Brett Jackson's slow start. Jackson was #32 on Baseball America's 2012 Top 100 Prospects rankings. The Cubs hope that Jackson can be a key part in their next winning team along with Castro and Anthony Rizzo.