If you follow the Cincinnati Reds on a daily basis as they inch ever closer to what could be their biggest trade deadline in a decade, you know that Johnny Cueto is both the biggest chip potentially on the move and also the most scrutinized due to his recent elbow soreness. With that in mind, the Reds decision to push their ace back from his scheduled start tonight comes with a groan and a sarcastic 2014-2015 induced chuckle. As Mark Sheldon notes at Reds.com, the Reds insist that it's merely to give Cueto a few extra days rest, but despite the team's best efforts, this is the kind of thing that will raise red flags to each and every other GM out there who has eyes on adding Cueto as a rental before he hits free agency this fall. As ESPN's Buster Olney mentioned nearly two weeks ago, many other teams have serious questions about the health of Cueto's elbow, and this impromptu "rest" won't do much to quell those fears.
Cueto, for what it's worth, will start Friday against the New York Mets in Citi Field. What's telling, though, is that he'll be skipping the entire series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team he has obliterated more than any other in his Reds tenure. In 28 career games against the Bucs, he's held them to just a .584 OPS and 0.98 WHIP, and he owns a sparkling 18-4 record and 2.13 ERA against them in that time. For him to be pushed back far enough to miss three chances to start against Pittsburgh is odd. Quite odd.
Starting in place of Cueto will be righty Josh Smith, who will be making his big league debut despite a brief call-up earlier this season, as C. Trent Rosecrans of The Enquirer tells us. Rosecrans also mentioned on Twitter that Smith grew up with former Reds starter Mat Latos, which was news to me. A former 21st round pick out of Lipscomb University, Smith owns a solid 3.56 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 141 career games (118 starts) in the minors, and while he's not the owner of overpowering stuff, he's a prototypical pitcher who pounds the strike zone, doesn't walk many guys, and hopes to keep as many balls on the ground as possible. Cross your fingers, as he'll be the fifth rookie to start a game for the Reds already this year.
If you follow what the Reds used to be on a daily basis, you know that Pete Rose has continually overshadowed most everything the Reds have been able to accomplish on the field for roughly 30 years by doing nothing much more than acting a fool. Yesterday's Outside The Lines report that detailed how Rose bet on baseball while he was still playing the game - which goes in contrast to most Rose claims that he only bet on baseball while managing after his playing days were over - surely riled up some sort of emotion in you, if that's the case. ESPN 1530's Mo Egger had a take on the situation that I can pretty much echo 100%, and it's certainly worth a read regardless of whether you're a Pete apologist, a Pete atheist, or a Pete policer.
When it comes to Pete Rose, the most prominent emotion that hits me at this point is apathy, but that's only after decades of consistently feeling sorry for the guy. Not sorry that he's not able to be a part of baseball or that he hasn't had a chance to be voted on for the baseball Hall of Fame, but sorry that he's in this pickle solely at his own hands. Yesterday's news rekindled that sorrow, since I really don't care that it's apparent that he bet on baseball while he was still playing, since frankly, if you didn't assume that at after everything he's danced around, I'm not sure what you were watching. Rather, I felt sorry for him again since it now appears that he's still been lying to all of us each and every day since he supposedly came clean in his admission interview in 2004. I'm sorry Pete thinks the world cares enough about him to continue to lie, and I wonder if this entire thing has evolved into some sorry way to try to stay relevant when to the bulk of non-Cincinnati residents the act got tired years and years ago. I'm sorry that Pete has continued to bury his amazing playing career exploits with the ludicrous exploits as a career pariah that now has lasted longer (and to nearly the fanfare) as the one that saw him accrue the most hits of any player who has ever picked up a bat.
Most importantly, though, I'm sorry that on a day in the year 2015, I'm writing about how Pete Rose is still a bigger story than the Cincinnati Reds themselves, which is something I feel I've been able to confidently claim for most of my 30+ years on this planet.