We're at about nine more games in a Reds uniform for Johnny Cueto. It's been, quite honestly, a whole lot of fun. Since 2011, Johnny Beisbol has gone 57-29 with a 2.53 ERA (albeit over only 762.2 IP). It's been fun having one of the most dominant arms of the generation taking the bump, and it's I guess a bummer that the best thing he can do for the Reds now is get traded for some next-generation Johnny Cuetos.
But the nice thing about the 21st century – and MLB Advanced Media – is that we can remember the good times. We're going to take you through a whole lot of these games in the upcoming weeks, and this one was my turn. Two things:
First, the past few years have been too easy, in a way. Oh yeah, let's just go through another game where Johnny goes 7IP, 5H, 1BB, 8K. Ho-hum. I'm being somewhat facetious, but there's only so much to be done in 2011-2015. It's basically just putting opposing offenses through the YouTube favorite, "Will it Blend?" It will. It'll be amusing, but not instructive.
Second, my truly favorite game I cannot find anywhere. It's Game Two of the 2008 season, featuring 7IP, 1H, 0BB, 10K from a 22-year-old with four games of AAA experience. Joey Votto pinch hit in front of 11,000 fans. It was the first game I watched on MLB.tv, and I don't think it exists, for shame.
Grousing aside, there's a bit of a footnote to what is now Cueto's incredible career. He was a solid contributor in 2010 and had a brilliant (if injury plagued) 2011 before becoming our beloved in 2012. This is all true. But our first hints of what to come were in 2009; the man I then called Johnye Cuest brought a sub-3.00 ERA into July.
On July 1, Cueto put up 6IP, 1H, 0R, 4BB, 8K:
Do you recognize that guy? I barely can. He doesn't really seem to have a plan, and he sulks his way through a shutout start. But his stuff moves, and from the third inning onwards its down in the zone.
There's some fun names in this game. Danny Richar! Laynce Nix! There's Felipe Lopez on the bad guys' team.
My favorite bit of this, by the way, is at 27:30. Cueto has his third walk of the inning, and it's followed by a brilliant little Dusty Baker move. Dusty gets the trainer to go out and look at Cueto, saving Johnny the embarrassment of a coaching visit and letting Dusty come to the mound instead of the hapless Dick Pole. In the background, you can see Joey Votto – hitting.351/.451/.604 coming into the game and a week removed from his mental exhaustion DL stint – mentally taking notes.
I don't think any of us knew what was gonna be happening by that time next year. I can't find the recap, but I found a recap by the end of the month, in a game where the Padres' Mat Latos beat the Aaron Harang-led Reds. I, brilliantly, recommend blowing up the team. Brendan's tag game is completely nonexistant to future eyes.
A lot of our hard work and brilliance went to waste. Maybe looking back on it, Cueto's did too. But we wouldn't have fond memories without him.