Author Archive

Cincinnati Reds: Should Mesoraco Have Been Dealt to Padres Instead of Grandal?

While everyone is waiting with baited breath to see who gets Michael Bourn, or what closer the Cincinnati Reds can sign, I would like to ask a very pointed question.

Did the Reds unload the right catcher when they traded the farm for Mat Latos? When the trade took place last year between seasons, I thought the Reds were crazy for giving up so much young talent.

While revisiting that trade a year later I wonder if perhaps the Reds should have traded Devin Mesoraco and held on to Yasmani Grandal.

Both were No. 1 draft picks, and most people figured that Mesoraco was more polished and ready for the big leagues. It didn’t quite pan out that way.

Mesoraco would up being sent to Louisville midway through the season while Grandal made his presence felt as soon as he showed up in San Diego.

The Reds only needed half-a-catcher as they already had Ryan Hanigan to do the lion’s share of the catching. It seemed also that the Padres only needed a backup to Nick Hundley (not to be confused with the two-generation catcher family, Randy and Todd).

Grandal got an opportunity to play because of the faltering Hundley, who was hitting only .169 at the end of May. Grandal showed his metal by hitting four home runs in his first 20 plate appearances; two in his first five.

Mesoraco was hitting .300 at the end of April, but from that point everything took a dive south. He ended up batting only .212 with five homers and 14 runs knocked in. Very disappointing to say the least.

Grandal ended the year batting .297 with eight HR and 37 RBI.

In comparison to the rest of the league, Grandal had a 142 OPS+ to a ridiculous 88 for Mesoraco.

After one year I would be inclined to say that the Reds made a boo-boo. To make matters worse, former All-Star Dioner Navarro was called up to replace Mesoraco and appeared in 28 games, batting .290 with a pair of homers.

Navarro became a free agent and has since been signed by the Chicago Cubs.

After that little band of musical chairs, the Reds still have Mesoraco, but what good will he be? He is only 24 (as is Grandal), and I am fairly certain he will have a big league career at some point.

But the crux of this article is still, “did the Reds unload the right catcher?” The answer is simple: no they did not.

You may counter that 200-250 plate appearances is too small of a sampling to cast aspersions on the Reds management.

That may be true, but it is the offseason and we must have something to chew on while we sit around the old pickle barrel.

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Johnny Cueto: Has the Cincinnati Reds’ Ace Lost His Confidence?

Johnny Cueto was hit hard and often last night, as the lowly Colorado Rockies dealt him his second loss in his last three starts.

The beginning to Cueto’s season had the earmarks of a Cy Young Award-caliber year. After his first seven starts, he boasted an ERA of 1.12 and had a very good H/9 ratio. At that point, he had just given up 39 hits in 48-plus innings, which produced a WHIP of 0.972.

Batters were only hitting .222 against the 26-year-old Dominican.

That was when it appeared that the Cy Young aspirations walked down the road. In his last three starts, he has a record of 1-2.

That isn’t even the bad part. He has been hit to the tune of .397 and has given up 27 hits in only 15-plus innings. His WHIP in those games is 2.210. His ERA for that period is 6.89. Quite a turnaround, wouldn’t you say?

In two of those three starts, including last night, Cueto has not survived the fifth inning.

What has happened to make a genuine ace turn sour so quickly? Could there be a physical problem that hasn’t been announced? Is there something wrong with his mechanics that wasn’t displayed in the first seven starts?

In all fairness to Cueto, sandwiched between his really bad starts was a quality start against the New York Yankees last Sunday. He picked up a win and allowed eight hits and two runs in seven innings of work.

Perhaps someone should have told the Rockies, specifically Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki, who combined for a 5-8 night with four runs knocked in, how good Cueto is.

Apparently they were unaware, as Helton took him deep in the second inning, digging a hole that the Reds could not come out of.

Players are of course human and they have the same characteristics as most people. Therefore, when a bad patch occurs, they can either let it roll off them like water off a duck’s behind or sulk and let the negativity invade them.

If the latter happens, as it did last season with Aroldis Chapman, bad, bad things can transpire. Remember when he could not find the plate? It took a trip to Louisville to get things lined out.

If Cueto is the pitcher most Reds fans hope he is, he will choose the “duck’s back” method and start a new season the next time out of the chute.

Because, face it, folks, the Reds need their ace to perform at a top-notch level.

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Jay Bruce: How Good Is the Cincinnati Reds Outfielder Going to Be?

All Cincinnati Reds fans love Jay Bruce. In fact, most of us tend to view the young man with rose-colored glasses. I know I do.

When I watch the powerful left-hander walk completely out of the batter’s circle after every pitch, I know that the next pitch will be delivered into the right field seats. Of course, as you know, that doesn’t happen as frequently as we would like.

Some people called him a young Mickey Mantle. Don’t laugh, but it is stretching it a bit. Mantle was as fast as a deer and played like he thought he would die at 40, which is what he really did fear.

Neither men put fear into the catcher’s heart as far as swiping bases is concerned. Mantle won one Gold Glove in 1962 and Bruce will win his first this year (2012).

What does Bruce have in common with the great Hall of Famer? Other than being born a state apart from one another, not a whole lot.

Bruce is immensely bigger than Mantle, but that can be said about most of the players today in comparison with the players from the 1960s (look up this article I wrote two years ago).

As I said about the speed, if you were scaling them from 1-10, Mantle would have been the 10 in his prime, and Bruce would probably be about a seven.

The only place I can see the rationale of the comparison is in power. After the first four years of playing in MLB, Mantle at hit 84 HR and averaged 27 per year on a 162-game schedule. Bruce, on the other hand, hit 100 while averaging 32 with that same metric.

Mantle isn’t the only prolific home-run hitter that Bruce has bettered at this stage of his career. Barry Bonds had hit only 84 in his first four years, while averaging only 25 dingers a year.

In isolated power stats (ISO) at the age of 22, Bruce had the better of both of the sluggers, but lost a little ground after that.

But his fast track to 100 home runs is what is really exciting when using history as a backdrop. Watch this!

It took Bruce 513 games to whack home run No. 100. The disputed HR king of all time, Barry Bonds, took 640 games to achieve this feat. Mantle did it in 577 games, and the real HR King of all times, Henry Aaron, did it in 544. The man he dethroned, Babe Ruth, took 531 games to do it.

That, my friends is some pretty elite company, wouldn’t you agree?

I am not saying that Bruce is going to hit 700 HR, or even 600 for that matter. The point is, he is off to one of the best starts ever at hitting home runs.

There is plenty of work to be done. His strikeout rate is much too high. If he can cut down on those, you will see more balls flying out of the park.

He had such a terrific start when he came up in 2008. In fact, he was in his 15th game before his average dropped below .400.

Bruce is a streak hitter and can really set the league on fire when he gets hot. In May of 2011 Bruce was the National League Player of the Month by putting up a line like this: .342/.402/.739/1.140 with 12 HR and 33 RBI. That is what I call a streak.

I may be approaching this from a bias slant, but I believe that he is one of the most dangerous hitters in all of baseball.

What is your take on him?

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Cincinnati Reds Minor Profiles: Down on the Farm with Outfielder Bill Rhinehart

With the winter taking a heavy toll on the farm system, I thought it would be prudent to take a look at what the Reds still have at the minor league level.

Some names people are familiar with include Billy Hamilton, Yorman Rodriguez, Kris Negron, Henry Rodriguez, Neftali Soto and Denis Phipps.

Of course, there are several who are putting up decent numbers and getting very little recognition.

The first player that I want to spotlight is outfielder Bill Rhinehart. If the name rings a bell, but doesn’t seem to complete the circuit of instant recall, he came to the Reds in the deal that sent Jonny Gomes to the Washington Nationals for himself and pitcher Christopher Manno.

Rhinehart is no spring chicken as far as minor league prospects are concerned. He is a 27-year-old power hitting outfielder who was drafted in the 11th round by the Nationals in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.

He started with the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Nationals’ Single-A affiliate. In 60 games as a 22-year-old, he posted numbers of .299/.377/.453/.830 with five HR and 43 RBI.

In 2008, he continued to toil in Single-A at Hagerstown and Potomac before playing the last half of the season for Double-A Harrisburg. In 564 plate appearances that season, he hit 18 HR with 89 RBI.

His only stint in Triple-A came with Syracuse in the 2010 season. He appeared in five games and besides one home run, had rather insignificant numbers.

In 2011, Rhinehart began the year at Harrisburg, but when Gomes was traded, he was sent to the Reds’ Double-A affiliate (at the time) Carolina Mudcats. Between the two teams he put up impressive numbers. In 460 PA, he batted .284/.377/.565/.942 with a career high 28 HR and 88 RBI.

The left-hander is a converted first baseman and has actually played twice as much at that position as he has in the outfield. So he could certainly fill in at first in a pinch.

Since the Reds terminated their affiliate with Carolina, they are entering their relationship with the newly born Pensacola Blue Wahoos (you have to love those minor league names).

The Reds are only showing two outfielders on their Louisville roster—Daryl Jones and Felix Perez—so perhaps a move is in store for the Roseville, CA native.

It is hard to gauge a player’s minor league development. Double-A seems to be where the players are who still have hopes of making it to MLB, while the Triple-A system is more of a shuttle bus from MLB to the minors.

At any rate, if Rhinehart is going to become a major league player then now would be the time to give him a good hard look at Triple-A ball.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Reds’ Dave Sappelt Is Part of Sean Marshall-Travis Wood Deal

One of the “minor league players” in the Travis Wood and Sean Marshall exchange turns out to be young outfielder Dave Sappelt, according to John Fay. This puts the trade in a new light, in my view.

Sending Travis Wood to the Chicago Cubs was an understandable trade. The Cubs needed a starter and the Cincinnati Reds needed a reliever. Good deal, right?

I don’t think so. Sappelt played 38 games for the Reds last season. That was after a tremendous run at spring training and a very good season with Triple-A Louisville. It is my understanding he was still in the running for the left-field position.

The Reds’ young outfield corps of the Reds is being depleted. They waived Jeremy Hermida earlier in the year and then let Fred Lewis go.

The farther we get into negotiations, the more it seems the Reds are focusing on Chris Heisey as the everyday left-fielder. They already shipped heir apparent left-fielder Yonder Alonso to the Padres for Mat Latos.

In further transactions, the Reds have apparently grabbed pitcher Josh Judy off waivers, according to’s Jordan Bastian.

There is very little to be said about Judy, who has only one big-league year under his belt. In 12 games with the Cleveland Indians in 2011, he had no decisions and ERA of 7.07. He has given up four home runs in only 14 innings.

His one endearing quality that I can see is that he strikes out almost seven in nine innings.

What the Reds have in store for the young man is yet to be determined. With the crowded pitching staff, I see him spending some time with the Bats at Louisville.

So far this offseason the Reds have traded Edinson Volquez, Travis Wood, Brad Boxberger, and have added Mat Latos and Sean Marshall.

The need of a closer still remains—whether the management decides to re-sign Coco Cordero or try to make a deal for Brad Lidge, Brandon League or Ryan Madson. In-house closing candidates would include Marshall, Nick Masset, Bill Bray, Aroldis Chapman and Logan Ondrusek.

Snatching up players like Judy does not bode well when you are giving up outstanding young talent to make room for him.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Mat Latos to Cincinnati Reds for Worst Deal of the Offseason

I am sickened over the recent trade that will bring Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds while sending a former All-Star and three of the best prospects to the San Diego Padres.

This one may go down harder than Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas. My God, what was Walt Jocketty thinking?

Latos for Yonder Alonso would have been a good deal; Latos for Alonso and Edinson Volquez would be too much. Having the other two (Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger) thrown in for good measure is just ridiculous.

The Oakland Athletics only wanted Alonso, Grandal and another player for All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Who among you would not rather see the southpaw at GABP than Latos?

Gonzalez has a GB ratio of about 48 percent, while Latos throws about 42 percent grounders.

Alonso was one of the best trading pawns in all of baseball and Grandal was not that far behind. All that sacrificed for a No. 2 starter—not even an ace. Come on, this trade can’t be justified anyway you look at it.

Alonso could have played left field—albeit poorly, but he would have been a placeholder. With Grandal’s departure, I am sure catcher Ryan Hanigan breathed a great sigh of relief.

Look at it this way: The Reds traded three No. 1 picks and a pitcher (the same pitcher they had traded a future MVP for), just to land a non-ace starter who wasn’t even supposed to be going anywhere.

I am bewildered, and still trying to wrap my head around this entire deal. So now we have one more “decent” pitcher and no pawns left to play with for future deals.

I refuse to let myself become excited over such a lopsided deal.

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Have the Cincinnati Reds Thrown in the Towel or Was That the Fat Lady Singing?

At the time of this writing the Reds are nine games out of first place, pending what the Milwaukee Brewers do later. They have just lost the series to the upstart Chicago Cubs and try (I hope) to avoid a sweep tomorrow afternoon.

When your ace blows up you know it is not your day. That is what happened today to Johnny Cueto. After looking like one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, he was shelled for seven hits and five earned runs in less than four innings.

The Cubs who are on a seven-game win streak looked anything but doormats for the rest of the NL Central Division. Carlos Zambrano, (9-6) picked up the win and belted a home run in the 11-4 trouncing of the defending Divisional Champions.

The only bright spot I saw in the game was the continued hot heating of Yonder Alonso who hit his first MLB dinger today, becoming the 17th Reds player to hit their inaugural home run in Wrigley Field.

As for Alonso, if anybody was ever made to be a designated hitter it is he. He absolutely looked pitiful in left field today, but the entire team looked like a comedy of errors. Todd Frazier, Edgar Renteria and Alonso all made errors in what certainly looked like a team just finishing out the year.

All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips left the game in the fourth inning after spraining his right ankle in a collision with outfielder Drew Stubbs.

The S.O.S. Stubbs continued to disappoint striking out twice, and looking nothing like the defensive player he is.

The game smelled like September, with so many different players at positions they are not normally seen. Miguel Cairo had to spell Phillips, Frazier played third, and Alonso was in left field.

It is hard to imagine how this team could possibly bounce back and become a factor in the division. Even if they became white hot, they would have to depend upon the Brew Crew to grow tired of winning in order to climb the latter.

They have just lost a series to both teams lower in the standings than themselves. That will not get the job done. It would be hard to imagine that Dusty Baker and GM, Walt Jocketty aren’t having some back office meetings.

There is so much wrong that it becomes difficult to see where the malignancy actually started. Guys are having problems pitching, guys can’t hit and strikeout in crucial situations, and now the injury bug is starting to creep in.

With so much wrong on a team widely seen as very talented, the trigger could be pulled at the top, with Baker looking for a new gig or sliding back into the booth at ESPN. I haven’t heard any winds but the timing would be right.

You may feel free to continue in hopeful bliss, but this writer has seen enough to call it a year. I think it is time for a fire sale. The Reds should start playing people they expect to start in 2012, seeing what deals can be made with dead weight players like Coco Cordero and Edinson Volquez.

They should throw Aroldis Chapman into the deep end of the pool. If he swims, praise the Lord. If he doesn’t then he becomes fodder for the trade mill. Either let him start games now or mold him into a closer. Middle relief is where pitchers go to die.

There is always next year, but hey let us at least see what we have on the farm. Is something wrong that Billy Hamilton can’t be promoted? He is playing a tad over high school ball in Dayton. Low Single A, come on, if he is an untouchable start implementing him into the system.

It is time for all of us to cinch up the old apple sacks and face reality. It’s over.

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MLB: Braves All-Franchise Team

This is now the seventh franchise I have compiled an ‘All-Time’ team for.  I began this endeavor in July of 2009 and have worked on many different lists and composite articles since then. At this rate perhaps I will have it done by the end of the decade, if the Lord tarries.

The Braves are a storied franchise to be sure. They began as the Boston Red Stockings in 1876 and changed their name to the Beeneaters, Doves and Rustlers before settling on the Braves in 1912.

For the most part they have just been known as the Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. They are represented by 11 players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown.

Only one player played in the all three cities the Braves called home professionally. Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews played in Boston, and Milwaukee before becoming the only Brave in history to be in all three.

My guidelines for the All-Franchise Teams are as follows: A player has to have been a member of that franchise for a minimum of five seasons (full or part time). He cannot appear on another of my teams in this series. They are selected primarily by offensive statistics but as founder of this series, the final call is which one I felt was most deserving.

The player’s career stats are not pertinent unless they are all with the franchise team. Only what the player did while in the Braves MLB franchise counts.

A table displaying the players statistics appears on the last slide in the show.

With all that out of the way, let us begin the show.

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1957 Cincinnati Reds All-Star Voting: A Precursor of Things to Come?

The MLB All-Star game also known as The Mid-Summer Classic is designed for the fans, right?

I mean, we are the ones who ultimately pay at the gate, buy the drinks and dogs, which pays the wages of the men we come to see.

You may call Cincinnati a small market city, but let’s call Mr. Peabody and have him fire up the Wayback Machine to 1957.

The National League was replete with major stars, some established and some still in the making. Stan Musial, who would go on to set a record for All-Star appearances, was 15 years into his illustrious career.

Hank Aaron, in most circles considered one of the best players to ever spit on the grass, was in his fourth year and in what would be his first MVP year.

The list goes on and on with Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Eddie Matthews and others. So who did the fans vote for that year?

Did they vote the Say-hey kid in? No, that would have been Gus Bell who patrolled the terrace in Crosley Field.

How about Aaron, with MVP credentials? Surely he was voted in? I don’t think so. That honor would go to right fielder Wally Post, of the Reds.

In fact every position player, save Musial, was a Cincinnati Red as determined by the voters. An investigation supposedly reflected that half of the NL votes came from the Queen City. Wonder what the Reds fans didn’t like about George Crowe?

Allegedly the Cincinnati Enquirer had pre-printed ballots and distributed them with the weekend newspaper.

Commissioner Ford Frick decided it was unfair and replaced Bell and Post with Mays and Aaron. Still it was a slanted roster. Frick also took the voting away from the fans and it stayed that way until 1970 when the fans were given back the honor to vote.

I have written all of that to write this: What is the difference between the scandal of ’57 and what we have today?

Every team’s website tells you to vote for their players. We as fans should know who the better players are at the positions, rather than to all become Homers and pick Russell Martins or Derek Jeters.

In Cincinnati we are asked to vote for Joey Votto, forget the fact that Prince Fielder is tearing it up at Miller Park. And let’s be sure to vote for Jay Bruce because he had a monster month of May. Forget the fact that he only hit two home runs in the month of June.

Vote for Brandon Phillips would you please? It all depends if you want flash in the field or a constant bat with power. If that is the case feel free to vote for Rickie Weeks.

Forget the fact that Buster Posey is busted up and done for the year. Come on, show your colors, vote him in. McCann wins it every year. Can you see how it goes?

A fan, a true fan should vote for who is getting the job done. Someone who looks with an open mind will see that Prince Fielder is clearly the man for first base in the NL this season.

Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman and Matt Kemp are all getting the job done. We don’t need to see Jayson Hayward out there or Carlos Beltran for that matter. Jay Bruce? Come on let’s be real.

Jose Reyes is just flat earning the shortstop position, but trails Troy Tulowitzki. Please!

Voting is just not what it should be. Twenty-five votes for each fan, what the hell is up with that? Fans, by and large, cannot look past their own ball yard to make an intelligent decision.

Players and coaches voting for someone besides their own teammates should determine the players who are on display.

In 1963 we did see the St. Louis Cardinal’s infield in the starting lineup. It would be hard to disagree with those selections. Bill White, Julian Javier, Dick Goat and Ken Boyer all were excellent that year.

So, until you get sick of seeing people in the lineup that have no business there, we can all vote as many times as we want for Dan Uggla.

God Bless you and God Bless Cincinnati, Ohio.

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MLB Power Rankings: Rating the National League Center Fielders

The current crop of center fielders in the National League, actually the entire MLB, is fairly weak. At least that is what my findings reveal to me. Weak may be a strong term—but with the statistics they are producing right now—let’s just call them below average.

A quick gander at the stats supports my claim. As a set, they are batting .269/.341/.423 with 6 HR and 24 RBI. I just don’t think that this is enough production, as we are nearing the midway point of the season.

The top four finishers in my formulated analysis separate themselves from the rest.

I compared their averages in OBP, SLG, OPS+, HR, RBI, SB. Pwr/Spd, Fld %. Each player’s stats are listed on a table at the end of this show.

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