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2013 MLB Trade Deadline: Key Moves Cincinnati Reds Could, but Likely Won’t, Make

The Cincinnati Reds were strong out of the gate after the All-Star break with a 6-2 record and a +25 run differential during that stretch. However, the Reds have since stalled at 59 wins on the season and they’re currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak.

As of July 29, Cincinnati is five games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central division. With the non-waiver trade deadline set for 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 31st, it’s time for America’s oldest professional team to test the trade market.’s Mark Sheldon wrote that the Reds aren’t likely to be major players at the trade deadline. He wrote that a combination of the expected return of key role players from the disabled list, budget limitations and a lack of top prospects will contribute to Cincinnati’s “quiet” trade deadline. In an interview with Sheldon, Cincinnati’s GM Walt Jocketty said that the Reds have not engaged in serious trade talk with other teams.

If we do acquire a right-handed bat, what do we do with Ludwick when he gets back? If there is somebody available that can definitely help the club, we’ll certainly take a look. To this point, we haven’t had any conversations with a club that indicated that.

The Reds could potentially trade for a right-handed hitter or a pitcher to improve their bullpen. However, with all of the key contributors expected to return from the DL in the second half of the season, Cincinnati is unlikely to make a trade at the deadline. 


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Cincinnati Reds Primed for Big 2nd Half as Injured Role Players Return

Cincinnati ESPN 1530 radio host Lance McAlister perfectly described the first half of the Cincinnati Reds’ season as “good but not good enough.”

#Reds 1st half: Good, but not good enough.

— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) July 15, 2013

The Reds were 11 games over .500 at the All-Star break, but they are in third place in the NL Central. Cincinnati is three games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates and five games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.

Luckily for Cincinnati, the team’s record came without a number of key contributors throughout the first half of the season. Relief pitchers Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall and Nick Masset, starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, catcher Ryan Hanigan and left fielder Ryan Ludwick spent significant time on the disabled list in the first half of the season.

The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s John Fay tweeted that he expects several of the injured players to return by mid-August:

RT @gnilly97: Your best guess…..are Cueto, Marshall, Brox, ludwick, hanigan all back by mid August?//Don’t, yes, yes, don’t know, yes

— John Fay (@johnfayman) July 12, 2013

The return of these role players to the lineup means that the Reds are positioned to make a big push for the division lead in the second half of the season.

The other good news for Cincinnati is that as of July 19, Dusty Baker’s squad holds the second National League wild-card spot, and the next closest teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies, are 5.5 games behind.

The Reds’ 3.42 team ERA is fourth in the majors, but Pittsburgh and St. Louis are two of the teams in front of them.

It’s not just the Cardinals’ pitching that will make it difficult to re-take the NL Central lead but also St. Louis’ hitting. The Cards are the best in Major League Baseball at hitting and getting on base with runners in scoring position.

Despite having two of the hottest teams in baseball in their division, the Reds are in position to make the playoffs. They have a comfortable lead in the wild-card race and they can only improve as their roster returns to full strength. 

The rest of the National League should be afraid by how much Cincinnati’s pitching can improve with the return of its injured pitchers.

Right-handed starter Johnny Cueto is coming off of a Cy Young-caliber season in which he was 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA and 170 strikeouts. Injuries have limited the starter from the Dominican Republic to only nine games and 48.2 innings this season.

Second-year lefty Tony Cingrani (3-1, 3.23 ERA) has filled in nicely for Cueto in his 10 starts, but Cincinnati could use its ace back in the rotation. In Cueto’s limited number of starts this season, opposing hitters have a .213 batting average against him. 

Similarly to Cincinnati’s starting pitching, its relief pitching has been solid this season, but it can improve as it returns to full strength:

Sam LeCure, Aroldis Chapman and Alfredo Simon have anchored the bullpen for the Reds. All three have WHIPs below 1.15 and ERAs below 2.90. After those three relievers, there is a bit of a drop-off in WHIP and ERA.

J.J. Hoover has the next-best statistics with a 1.28 WHIP and 3.69 ERA. 

Twenty-three of Cincinnati’s 42 first-half losses were by two runs or fewer. Since the Reds are trying to catch up to two of the best pitching teams in baseball, they need to capitalize on every opportunity to pick up another win. The return of Broxton, Marshall and Masset will give Cincinnati more depth and flexibility in which relievers Baker can use to finish games.

According to John Fay, all three pitchers still need to finish their rehab throwing programs before returning to the Reds.

Marshall will not throw this weekend. He’ll get treatment instead.

“We’ll see how he responds,” [trainer Paul] Lessard said. “If he responds well, we’ll resume throwing Monday.”

If Marshall only misses a few days, he will be able to pick up his throwing program at the point he left off.

Right-hander Jonathan Broxton (elbow) will throw a bullpen tomorrow. It’s his first since going on the DL June 15.

Once they’re healthy and back in the bullpen, they will be major assets for Cincinnati.

In Marshall’s 11 appearances this season, he had a 0.86 WHIP and averaged one strikeout per inning. Last season, Marshall pitched in 73 games, accumulating 22 holds with a 1.16 WHIP and a 2.51 ERA.

Broxton was second on the team in holds with 11 before the All-Star break. In nine season in the majors, Broxton has averaged a 1.24 WHIP and 3.17 ERA for his career.

Masset hasn’t pitched since 2011. His best season came in 2009, when he had 20 holds, a 1.03 WHIP and a 2.37 ERA in 74 games pitched.  

Both Cincinnati’s pitching and offensive production should improve when Hangian returns to the lineup after rehabbing from his wrist injury.

His injury has limited to only 46 games this season and he has performed well below his career averages when he does play. The catcher is batting just .193 with a .293 on-base percentage and has a negative WAR so far this season:

Reds disable C Ryan Hanigan (sprained left wrist), retroactive to yesterday, promote C Corky Miller (#37). #whiff

— Reds (@Reds) July 11, 2013

Even though Hanigan hasn‘t played in more than five games consecutively and has had little offensive production, he is still a better option behind the plate than current backup Corky Miller. Miller is hitting just .105 this season.

Cincinnati’s biggest offensive spark should come from Ludwick, who dislocated his shoulder on Opening Day against the Los Angeles Angels when he slid head-first into third base. Reds left fielders have hit .247 this season with nine home runs and 81 strikeouts. 

In 2012, Ludwick‘s first season in Cincinnati, he had the second-best year of his career when he hit .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBI. Ludwick has been the Reds’ cleanup hitter in his time in Cincinnati, and right fielder Jay Bruce had the best offensive season of his career in 2012 when he hit behind Ludwick in the batting order. 

The Cincinnati Reds made the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. With their nucleus of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo, a good starting rotation and Aroldis Chapman to close games in the ninth inning, the Reds are on pace to make the postseason again in 2013.

With the expected return of several key role players, Cincinnati can play even better baseball in the second half of the season and contend for the NL Central division crown. 

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MLB All-Star Game: 6 Changes That Would Re-Energize the Midsummer Classic

In the hierarchy of professional and collegiate sports in the United States, Major League Baseball ranks fifth in terms of popularity. Football is king in America and basketball takes the silver medal. Baseball has gradually lost its appeal and consequently, part of its fan base.

Professional baseball’s downhill slide in the U.S. is no more evident than a quick look at television ratings. The MLB All-Star Game peaked in 1970 when it earned a 28.5 and its ratings have declined ever since, according to Thom Loverro of The Atlantic

The one area in which MLB triumphs over the NFL (7.7 rating) and NBA (5.9 rating) is the All-Star Game, according to Sports Media Watch.

While the MLB All-Star Game draws a larger audience and it’s the only one of the three major All-Star Games to feature any defense, the Midsummer Classic can be even better. 

Major League Baseball can be proactive to make changes that will re-energize the All-Star Weekend. The modifications involve the stakes of the game, the voting process and the addition of skills competitions.

According to Sports Media Watch, the past three All-Star Games’ overnight ratings have been the lowest in the history of the game.

The five lowest MLB All-Star Game overnights have taken place within the last decade — 2005 (9.8), 2010 (9.3), 2012 and 2013 (8.1) and 2011 (7.9).

However, MLB doesn’t have to fall victim to this downward trend. It has the most popular All-Star Game in the U.S. and the Midsummer Classic features the best product. 

All Major League Baseball needs is the right combination of new All-Star Weekend events and a modification of the All-Star Game’s purpose in order to appeal more to fans and players.

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Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays Live Blog: Instant Reactions and Analysis

The Boston Red Sox struck first in the afternoon half of their doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. 

Rain delayed the game nearly three hours in the bottom of the fifth inning, which ended the starters’ outings earlier than planned. 

Boston’s Alfredo Aceves went five innings, allowing only three hits and one run.

Chris Archer threw 4.2 innings for the Rays, surrendering five hits, walking five batters and giving up four runs in the process. 

The Red Sox led 4-1 at the time of the delay and added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Shane Victorino tripled to to right field. 

With the 5-1 win, Boston improved to an AL East-best 43-29. The Rays fell to 36-34 and six games behind Boston.

Tampa Bay has now dropped five of its last six games. 

The first game of the doubleheader marked the MLB debut of Wil Myers, one of Tampa Bay’s top prospects. Myers was hitless in four at-bats with one strikeout at Fenway Park.

The nightcap of this AL East doubleheader is important for both teams since the top four teams in the division are so close to each other in the standings.

Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.91 ERA) will start for Boston and Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 8.03 ERA) will take the mound for the Rays. 

Doubront pitched five innings and ultimately earned a no-decision as the Red Sox won in Tampa Bay on May 16. He is 2-1 in his career against Tampa Bay with a 3.91 ERA.

Boston has lost five of the last eight games in which the Venezuelan lefty has started. 

Odorizzi is in his first season with the Rays, and he will make his fifth career start tonight. The 23-year-old native of Breese, Ill. has allowed 17 hits and 11 earned runs in 12.1 innings this season. Tonight will be his first appearance against the Boston Red Sox and only his third time pitching on the road.

The first pitch for Game 2 is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.

Stay tuned with Bleacher Report for live reactions, updates and analysis.

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