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Saturday, April 19, 2014

OAG: A Conversation With Baseball Legend Johnny Bench

The one where Dennis Menke becomes Dennis Mickey.

BL: Johnny, you’re working with the Topps baseball card company. Do you remember receiving your first card after you reached the majors?

JB: Surely you jest. Of course I do, my goodness gracious. That’s what made you a major leaguer. So I loved it. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Now I say “Look at me.” You could carry ‘em around, “Here, have my card.”

BL: In the 1970s the Reds went to the World Series four times, winning twice, and went to another two National League Championship Series. Your first full season with the team was 1968. How quickly did you realize you were part of an extraordinary team?

JB: Well, in 1970 we started off the year 70-30. In our era, I’m playing with Tony Perez in ’68, Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, Vada Pinson. And we were close. We were really close. It just seemed like we needed one more thing to make it happen. In 1970 we started off with Lee May hitting and we were just dominating.

We had teams say, “Why don’t we just give it to them now?” And then we were 32-30, and yet here we were 32-30 to end the year and we won 102 games. I mean, it was just phenomenal. And then when we failed a little bit in ’71 the trade was made for Joe Morgan for Cesar Geronimo for Jack Billingham. Dennis Mickey came over and Ed Armbrister. And that’s when we really got it. We had a swagger. That’s when Joe had a chip on his shoulder and Pete Rose was Pete Rose. And we had a Gold Glove center fielder and Gold Glove shortstop in David Concepcion. We had Ken Griffey. I mean we had other teams come out to watch us take batting practice. They’d watch us take batting practice. It was that kind of ball club.

Repoz Posted: April 19, 2014 at 07:03 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: history, reds

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Billy Hamilton scores on infield popup

It’s ridiculous that this can happen at the major league level.



Thursday, April 03, 2014

Heisey’s walk-off avenges Reds’ Opening Day loss

Although he doesn’t get as low, Tony Cingrani reminds me a lot of Sid Fernandez. He slings the ball in a way that really makes it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball. That he’s sitting 93-96, only makes their task that much harder.

Cingrani went seven shutout innings. He allowed two hits, walked two and struck out nine. He threw 92 pitches, 57 of which were strikes. He’s made 19 starts in the majors. He’s never allowed more than five hits.

Cingrani, 24, is fearless. He attacked hitters all night.

“It’s confidence I guess,” Cingrani said, “doing it over and over. You get to that point that you’re more confident than the hitter in the box.”

Jim Furtado Posted: April 03, 2014 at 02:03 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: reds, tony cingrani

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Real McCoy | Billy Hamilton is a blur but no mirage

Hal McCoy believes in Billy Hamilton.

Billy Hamilton won’t be a mirage.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 20, 2014 at 07:39 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: billy hamilton, reds

Aroldis Chapman struck by liner, hospitalized with facial fractures

Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman suffered fractures to bones in his nose and left eye while taking a line drive to the face Wednesday night.

Chapman was carted off the field and transported by ambulance to a hospital and would be kept overnight for observation, the Reds said on their Twitter account.

The Reds said Chapman was originally taken to Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City, Ariz., where tests indicated the facial fractures. He was then transferred to Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he was to undergo further testing.

Reds manager Bryan Price said Chapman was conscious and talking as he was taken off the field during the game against the Kansas City Royals.

“Not good,” Price said. “He left the field on a stretcher, took a line drive just above his left eye is what it looks like—a contusion, a laceration, and certainly needs to be taken to the hospital and checked. We’ve got Tomas Vera, an assistant trainer, is going to be with him. And then we’ll get our updates from there.”

The hard-throwing left-hander was struck by Salvador Perez’s hit with two outs in the sixth inning. The pitcher crumbled to the ground, face down and flailing his legs. The ball caromed into the third base dugout. Medical personnel, including Royals Dr. Vincent Key, rushed the field. Chapman’s father was among the people to run onto the field immediately after he was struck.

Repoz Posted: March 20, 2014 at 05:28 AM | 58 comment(s)
  Beats: reds

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Fay: Brandon Phillips’ emotions in conflict with the facts

“Out here survival is everything!”

Phillips isn’t talking to me, C. Trent Rosecrans, Mark Sheldon and Hal McCoy because he says we wrote that he struggled in the second half without mentioning he was playing hurt.

Phillips can talk or not talk. That doesn’t matter to me. There will be 24 players on the roster who will talk. But the notion that we didn’t write about his injury is blatantly false.

It was mentioned over and over again. This is from when I picked him as the club’s first-half MVP:

It’s hard to pick someone whose OPS is over 200 points lower than a teammate’s (Phillips was .734 going into the weekend, Joey Votto’s was .937). But Phillips has been so good in the clutch that’s he’s really stood out. He’s hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and .290 with runners in scoring position and two outs. His defense has been the best on the team. Phillips’ overall numbers sank after he was hit by that pitch in Pittsburgh, but he’s continued to drive in runs.

We checked the archives. Phillips’ struggles were never mentioned on Cincinnati.com without a reference to the fact that he was hit on the left wrist on June 1 in Pittsburgh by Tony Watson. I’m sure that’s true with the other local media outlets as well.

...Who knows what would have happened if Watson’s pitch didn’t hit him. But the fact is it led to Phillips’ worst year as a Red in nearly every offensive category.

That’s fair game – as long as you mention that his numbers fell off after the HBP.

Phillips seems to thrive on anything negative, or that he perceives as negative, that’s written or said about him. It seems to motivate him. He’s crushed St. Louis pitching since he became Enemy No. 1 in Cardinal territory.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a big year this year. Whether he’ll want to talk about it or not, it hard to say.

Repoz Posted: March 09, 2014 at 11:06 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: reds

Friday, March 07, 2014

Gleeman: Brandon Phillips: “How the [expletive] am I declining?”

(Barney) Phillips: You can’t spell RBI without eye!

mz

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips isn’t talking to the Cincinnati media, but he’s willing to talk to the national media and willing to talk to the national media about why he’s not talking to the Cincinnati media.

Case in point, this Phillips quote to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com:

  I don’t have nothing to say to those cats. They know what the deal is. They just talk about how I was falling off and declining. How the [expletive] am I declining? I had 100 … ribbies last year. And I did that with one … hand. And I won a Gold Glove? So how the [expletive] am I declining? Come on, man.

...Unless, of course, you judge a hitter strictly on his RBI totals, which Phillips apparently does. In that case he’s [expletive] better than ever!

Repoz Posted: March 07, 2014 at 04:52 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: reds

Posnanski: Gary Nolan Surgery

The Only Nolan pitched in 101 games as a 19-year-old, so yeah, what was Gary’s problem?

then the pain climbed to a higher plane. It was too much. [Gary Nolan] couldn’t handle it. The reporters asked him how much it hurt. “Enough to make you cry,” he said. Teammates rolled their eyes. Letters to the editor in the Cincinnati papers questioned his manhood.

“When’s Nolan going to pitch again?” reporters asked Sparky Anderson.

“Hell, I don’t know. Ask him,” Sparky barked angrily.

It was at this time that the Reds did one of the most bizarre things a baseball team has ever done. Reds executive Dick Wagner called Nolan and said they had figured out a way to fix his arm. They were sending Nolan to … a dentist. Yeah. A dentist. Some crackpot dentist had reached the Reds with the message that Nolan’s arm problems were clearly the result of an abscessed tooth. Nolan actually went to the dentist. The dentist actually pulled a tooth. This really happened, not in the Dark Ages but in 1972…

Then, in desperation, Nolan went to see Frank Jobe, orthopedic doctor for the Reds biggest rivals, the Dodgers. The Reds, of course, were opposed to this … but Nolan had reached the desperate point where he would try anything. He, like every other pitcher in baseball, had heard Jobe was different from other doctors. The first thing Nolan noticed was that Jobe took an X-Ray of Nolan’s shoulder from a different angle. This was new. And because of that, Jobe found what every other doctor had missed — a one-inch bone spur floating around in Nolan’s shoulder and slicing him every single time he threw a baseball…

For six or seven years, Nolan had been treated as something less than a man. He’d had his pain mocked and his toughness doubted. He’d been told again and again and again that the agony was all in his head, that it was his duty to pitch through it, and this false aura of fragility had come to define him in the eyes of American baseball fans.

Then, this soft-spoken doctor from North Carolina came back from the X-Rays and pointed at the source of all that pain — there it was, as real as a swing and miss strikeout.

“I have no idea how you pitched in that sort of pain,” Frank Jobe said to him. “You must have been in agony.”

Thirty-five years later, Gary Nolan could still recite those two sentences, word-for-word.

The District Attorney Posted: March 07, 2014 at 12:00 PM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: frank jobe, gary nolan, history, joe posnanski, reds

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Daugherty: MVP possible for Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce could have an MVP year. He really could. He’ll be 27 next month. This will be his seventh big-league season. He’s at the epicenter of his prime. It’s time.

Bruce has had MVP stretches, weeks and months when the Reds rode him like Secretariat. He has had full seasons of MVP-quality defense. His arm is a game changer. The potential to be a special player is there, and up to now just out of reach.

It’s strange to expect more from a player whose traditional power numbers have become as pleasantly consistent as the sunrise: Thirty-plus homers and doubles, 90-plus RBI. It’s odd to suggest we’re still waiting on Jay Bruce. Bruce has gotten a little better each year.

...He has embraced sabermetrics, to the extent they help him understand which numbers are important and which aren’t worth the anxiety. “Sabermetrics value every facet of the game,” he says. “They’re more about being a total baseball player than a gaudy, counting-stats guy. I get caught in the middle of that a little bit, because gaudy stats define me in a way. But I believe I can still do that and maximize every other part of my game.”

To Bruce, that means working pitching counts to his advantage, and not getting himself out swinging at pitches he wouldn’t feed his dog. Actually, Bruce has done better with that as well. Reds statistics guru Sam Grossman offers this in Bruce’s defense:

In the last three seasons, Bruce’s “chase percentage” of pitches outside the strike zone has declined from 29 percent to 26 percent.

The league average is between 28 and 29 percent. Bruce “has pretty low chase numbers for a power hitter,” Grossman says.

Another telling number: When Bruce fell behind in the count 0-2 or 1-2, and with the count even at 2-2, he batted .146 the previous two years, with a .250 slugging percentage. Both are abysmal. The league averages were .173 and .256, respectively. Plus, Bruce struck out 60 percent of the time in those situations. The league fanned 44 percent.

Thanks to VC.

Repoz Posted: March 06, 2014 at 08:13 AM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: reds

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Fay: Billy Hamilton should be upgrade in center

But defensively, we’re not talking about potential. He should be a major upgrade over Shin-Soo Choo in center field. After the two-error game in St. Louis, Choo caught everything he got to. But he didn’t get to a lot of balls because of his lack of speed.

According to fangraphs.com, Choo was the worst center fielder in Major League Baseball in terms of Ultimate Zone Rating at -16.1. Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez was the best at 26.4. A rating of 0.0 is considered average. Hamilton should be close to Gomez.

“I don’t know to quantify all that data and compare and contrast,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “I know that we asked Choo to do something he hadn’t done since 2004 or ’05. I don’t know what the tradeoff is going to be.”

But the Reds are confident in Hamilton’s ability to play center.

“We’re looking at a guy who can play a competitive center field,” Price said. “He’s about a year and a half removed from being an infielder. From everything that we’ve heard from our scouts internally is that he was one of the better center fielders, if not the best, in Triple-A. That’s going to help us immediately.”

Offensively, it’s a given that Hamilton will not get on base as often as Choo. Choo was second in the National League in on-base percentage at .423. Hamilton had an OBP of .308 in Triple-A.

“We might be selling Billy short offensively,” Price said. “What he’s ready to do is take the opportunity and show us what he can do. I’m looking forward to seeing him evolve based on how he’s being pitched, make those adjustments.”

Thanks to MN.

Repoz Posted: March 02, 2014 at 04:33 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: reds, sabermetrics

Friday, February 28, 2014

McCoy: Joey Votto learns from criticism but isn’t changing approach

Votto as in Otto the Autopilot.

Votto is paid a bank vault full of money—a 10-year, $225 million deal—and with that comes high expectations and when those expectations aren’t reached the howling and the sniping begin.

So Votto understands that some fans believe he should change his approach to hitting so that he doesn’t walk so much and so that he will drive in more runs.

What Votto doesn’t understand is that there are some people who should know better, who he thought knew the game, who believe he should change his approach.

...“It was unfortunate about the comments people made and it is more unfortunate when people who you think understand the game—people you wish would support you more—go in the opposite direction. The thing I was more concerned about was having the pressure of multiple different sources telling me to change my approach and putting consistent pressure on me.”

Asked to whom he was referring, Votto said, “That one I’ll probably keep to myself. It is never good to target anyone. But that’s part of baseball, part of the job, part of the contract I signed. The criticism is part of how the game works. I accept it and learned a lot from it.

...It was pointed out that hitters sometimes have no control over how a pitcher approaches a talented hitter like Votto, especially with runners on base. They pitch around him with pitches out of the strike zone. Is Votto supposed to get himself out by swinging at bad pitches?

“Some would like me to do that,” he said. “Yeah, some would.”

Repoz Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:43 PM | 68 comment(s)
  Beats: reds, sabermetrics

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rosecrans: A newly open Joey Votto is in his ‘sweet spot’

Joey Votto, changing the constitution one wRC+ point at a time.

Becoming the face of baseball’s new metrics

And on some level, Votto’s WLW fireside chats have been something of a lecture, as well. He’s the tenured professor, educating and exposing people to new ideas.

At one point Votto explained wRC+, or Weighted Run Created Plus, sending a flood of traffic from southeastern Ohio to the servers at FanGraphs.com.

Votto’s become the face of a certain argument between new-school and old-school thinking, one that could simply come down to the point of view of whether a walk is not getting a hit or not making an out.

It’s unlikely to be coincidence that Votto was tied for first with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt in the National League with a 156 wRC+ last season.

“It’s the future – no one can deny that. The same thing with a lot of the new things that are being legalized and things that are being changed in the constitution, that’s not changing,” Votto said. “It’s coming, accept it. There are people who pushed back in the ’70s and people who pushed back in the ’30s, it’s human nature. I’m going to push back on something one day and guess what, the world’s going to fly by me. In a smaller way, this is making the game better and more efficient.”

Asked why he’s interested in these statistics, Votto said he wanted to be able to speak that language after his playing career is done, whether as a manager, coach or in a front office. But even the new, open Votto clammed up when asked whether he used these theories on the field to make him the National League’s best hitter.

“I can’t give that up to you,” he said. “That’s a bit too far. If people knew that part, the way I think, I’d get in trouble.”

Repoz Posted: February 24, 2014 at 06:41 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: reds, sabermetrics

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cincinnati Reds, Homer Bailey agree to six-year, $105 million contract | MLB.com: News

Reds pitcher Homer Bailey has agreed to a six-year, $105 million contract, a source said Wednesday. The team has not announced the deal.

The agreement, which includes a mutual option for a seventh year worth $25 million with a $5 million buyout, enables both Bailey and the Reds to avoid an arbitration hearing.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 19, 2014 at 02:46 PM | 47 comment(s)
  Beats: homer bailey, reds

Saturday, February 15, 2014

McCoy: No facial hair in Cincinnati?

Tell that to Deacon White…okay, maybe not.

Manager Bryan Price made his first statement toward creating his own culture with the Cincinnati Reds, although he won’t be autocratic about it.

The Reds will not be the hirsute Boston Red Sox, they will not look like scraggly mountain men. Price is asking, not demanding, that most of the facial hair that sprouted mostly on the bullpen members last year be trimmed neatly.

He doesn’t want them retreating to the days of Bob Howsam and The Big Red Machine—no facial hair at all, no beards, no mustaches—but he doesn’t want them looking like a guy who spent five years in the outback with no razor.

“We’re going to spend some time with our core group of more established players and talk about what we feel is important, not just from my perspective, but a team and organizational perspective,” said Price, who wears neither a beard nor a mustache.

“You can, but I don’t think you’ll be terribly successful, if you try to turn back the clock in the clubhouse too far, but I believe in our initial policy that facial hair is fine, but keep it under control,” Price added. “We’re just maintaining a policy that was already there.”

Price pointed out that the team has had players with long hair—Bronson Arroyo with his long straight blond hair and Johnny Cueto with his dreadlocks. “That wasn’t a problem but we had some beards getting out of control. So let’s pull in the reins on that. And Corky Miller is going to be just fine,” Price said with a laugh, referring to the popular catcher with enough hair to hide his face entirely.

Repoz Posted: February 15, 2014 at 03:24 PM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: history, reds

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dusty Baker wants another shot

It was the Reds’ belly flops that did him in. A year after a blowing a 2-0 lead to the Giants in the National League Division Series, they lost their final six games last season, including the wild-card playoff game.

Baker’s strategy was second-guessed, and not for the first time. So was his style, which was characterized as too laid back.

Baker, without being prompted, addresses the criticism. He said he was following doctor’s orders to turn it down a notch, to keep his trademark enthusiasm in check. He had spent part of 2012 in a Chicago hospital recovering from an irregular heartbeat and a ministroke.

Baker concedes now that he entered last season not knowing if he would make it through the grind. He joked about feeling like the Bionic Man while dealing with a defibrillator, heart monitor and C-PAP machine.

Now, Baker said, he is back to his old self, having had an additional year to recover from the scary heart episode. “I know I’m strong,” he said. “Nobody needs to tell you when you’re strong.”

...Jim Bowden, a former Reds G.M. now with ESPN, suspects Baker might be back in the dugout this summer.

“He’s the perfect July hire for the team that’s underachieving,” Bowden said. “I can see him as a midseason replacement for a team that’s 12 games back. A G.M. is going to say, ‘I need a proven winner to come in here and prove that we’re better than this.’ “

Until then, Baker sounds at peace, even as pitchers and catchers report without him. The only other times he missed spring training since being drafted in 1967 was in 1987, the year before the Giants hired him as their first-base coach, and in 2007, before the Reds hired him.

For now, Baker said, he is enjoying his time with his family.

“Still,” he said, “I feel like I could help somebody.”

Thanks to Chino.

Repoz Posted: February 14, 2014 at 05:11 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: reds

Monday, February 10, 2014

A World of His Own: Espn profile of Aroldis Chapman

“IT IS WELL past noon in the mansion they call the American Dream House, and the owner has yet to wake up. Half a dozen friends and relatives sit under an imported Italian chandelier in the living room, watching the hours pass on a silver-plated clock, waiting for Aroldis Chapman to come downstairs. House rules dictate that nobody disturbs him; it is Chapman’s $30 million contract that paid for this house, and it is his singular left arm that brought his family from a coastal province in Cuba to the manicured suburbs of Florida’s gold coast, wher
“We are usually just sitting here, trying to pass the hours,” says Maria Caridad, his mother, speaking in Spanish as the clock closes in on 1 p.m. She mops the kitchen floor even though a crew of six housecleaners performed the same chore a few days earlier. She turns on some salsa music and cooks pigs’ feet on the kitchen stove, leaning over the pot to inhale the familiar smell. “This reminds me of Cuba,” she says. “Of home.”
Across the living room, her husband and Aroldis’ father, Juan Alberto, turns the TV to Channel 374, the only Spanish-language station available on their deluxe cable package. One of Chapman’s assistants has been teaching Juan Alberto some English, hoping to ease the 74-year-old’s transition to the United States, but the lessons fail to solve a bigger problem. “I’m too old to learn, and there’s no one here I need to talk to anyway,” he says, so he settles into the recliner for his third Cuban soap opera of the day.

Every new immigrant in this household has developed an antidote to boredom, and for Aroldis, it is sleep. Midday gives way to early afternoon. Early afternoon turns toward dusk. His parents move outside to sit by the swimming pool, where they study the ornate drapes of his second-story bedroom for any sign of movement. Some days during the offseason, the Reds’ 25-year-old closer stays in his room until sunset, sleeping, watching movies or just throwing a racquetball against his bedroom wall.

Finally, a few minutes before 4 p.m., the curtains lift and Chapman descends the spiral staircase to the pool deck. He wears sandals, sunglasses and a tank top obscured by heavy gold chains. He lights a Marlboro Red cigarette and flops down onto an all-weather mattress near the pool.

“Why so late like this?” Maria Caridad asks. “Why all this sleeping?”

“There’s nothing else to do,” he says.”

BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: February 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM | 47 comment(s)
  Beats: cuban baseball, reds

Monday, January 20, 2014

Daugherty: Have-not Reds can’t keep up with Baseball’s haves

Daugherty v. New Vanguard.

Money prompts the need for reassurance. Money talk in Baseball is boring, depressing and makes you want to lie down in a cool place. I’d rather take a Chappy fastball to the tear duct than talk about money, which really is the root of all hardball evil. And unfortunately, most hardball success.

The dirty little secret behind Bud Selig’s noble effort to climb the parity ladder is, it can’t be done. The outgoing commissioner of Baseball can talk all he wants about little markets and little money getting memberships at the country club, but talk is cheap. As cheap as the Reds local TV contract.

Teams have found a new way to guard the mansion gates. They pillage the pockets of networks seeking the local and regional television rights to their games. The money is staggering.

...The Reds can’t command a competitive local TV pile. The market won’t bear it. The only way they keep up is by being smarter in scouting, drafting and developing, and even that is getting harder. They’d never get Aroldis Chapman today, for what they paid in 2010. Everyone scouts 15-year-olds in the Dominican now. Japan? Forget it.

That’s why last summer was such a crusher, and why this offseason has only added to your pain. Reds ownership is not the federal government. It doesn’t spend money it doesn’t have, and can’t project. Boston, New York, LA etc. have a perpetually open window. Cincinnati does not.

Cincinnati still has a core capable of winning 90 games and making October. What it doesn’t have is an open invitation to eat until its eyeballs explode. That belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who just spent $215 million on one pitcher, without needing Rolaids.

Repoz Posted: January 20, 2014 at 06:17 AM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: reds

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Calcaterra: Dontrelle “Rasputin” Willis to sign minor league deal with Giants

Some guys never get a shot at the big leagues. Or if they do, it’s far too short a shot and they are overlooked for the rest of their careers, exiled to Triple-A or worse. You gotta make the best of that shot. You may never get another one.

Unless you’re Dontrelle Willis, of course, in which case you seemingly get a couple dozen shots and will until you just don’t fell like trying anymore:

I heard Dontrelle Willis will be signing a minor-league contract with the #sfgiants

— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) January 10, 2014

... Since [Willis] left Florida following the 2007 season he’s 4-15 with a 6.15 ERA while walking 7.1 hitters per nine and allowing 9.3 hits per nine. And… he hasn’t even gotten a significant MINOR league look since 2011.

I know he’s a lefty and lefties are supposed to live forever, and by all accounts he’s a great guy to have around (at least if you don’t ask the Orioles). But there has been nothing — literally nothing — positive to be seen in his pitching in a decade. No indication whatsoever that he can help a ball club. How does he still get chances when so many other pitchers don’t?

Probably like this:

Dontrelle Willis turns 32 Sunday. In prime years. If he’s in good shape and figured out control issues, he could be great story. #sfgiants

— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) January 10, 2014

A nice thought. But people have been having that same thought for years. It never pans out.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Justice: Suggestions to change Votto’s approach unwarranted

As Joseph Joubert Roberge once said…“Justice is baseball truth in action”.

Still, because Votto had just the 73 RBIs, some have argued—and Reds executives have been asked about it several times—he should expand his strike zone with runners in scoring position. It’s not like he’s failing in these situations. That .477 OBP with runners in scoring position speaks volumes. Only four NL hitters got on base more frequently in these situations.

The thinking goes that if Votto swings at more pitches out of the strike zone—in other words, if he gets away from one of the things that makes him so good—he’ll get more RBIs. This advice is about as wrong-headed as it gets. Votto has 3,790 plate appearances in his seven big league seasons. He has done things one way virtually the entire time. This is who he is. He should not be changing now. He’s plenty valuable to the Reds NOT making outs.

If he starts swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, he’ll hurt the Reds. Rather than going up, his RBI total might go down, although this (again) is a function of time and place.

He’d certainly be on base less, see fewer pitchers, etc. There’s lineup chemistry to consider. If Votto becomes a wild swinger, what message does that send to Brandon Phillips and/or Jay Bruce behind him? He’s telling them he doesn’t trust them, that he believes it’s on him to deliver.

It’s not on him. It’s on all of them. Hitters feed off one another. Bruce and Phillips would be the first to say that hitting behind Votto has been good for them, has given them more opportunities.

It’s natural to look for ways to improve the Reds after another quick exit from the postseason. Changing Votto would be the wrong thing to do. He’s a joy to watch and is a role model in an assortment of ways. In short, the Reds are lucky to have him, just the way he is.

Repoz Posted: December 31, 2013 at 09:39 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: reds, sabermetrics

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Billy Hamilton at leadoff, center makes sense for Reds

Hamiltonian mechanics at play.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty reiterated the club’s intentions of going with Hamilton in center and the leadoff spot.

“He’s the guy,” Jocketty said. “We feel confident he can be a good leadoff guy. He’ll give us great defense. The only question is how often he can get on base. He’ll start working on his bunting again after the first of the year. If he can master that, it will really help him.”

Hamilton has the speed to change a game. He’s the Usain Bolt of the base paths. Fans saw that with his 13 steals in 14 attempts during his September call-up.

In a perfect world he’d get a little more time at Triple-A. But he hit .256 with a .308 on-base percentage at Triple-A this season. He followed that by hitting .227 with a .284 on-base in 75 at-bats in winter ball in Puerto Rico.

Choo, by comparison, put up a .423 on-base.

But, again, Choo was so far out of the price range that signing him could have hamstrung the franchise for years to come. Long-term, high-dollar contracts are huge risks for any organization. For a small-market team like the Reds, they’re insanity.

For the Reds to remain competitive they have to produce their own players. Hamilton will make less over the next six years than Choo will make per year under his new contract. That’s why his departure was inevitable.

“We knew that we didn’t have a chance if he got what I thought he was going to get,” Jocketty said.

Repoz Posted: December 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM | 73 comment(s)
  Beats: reds

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tweet: BtBScore writers hired by MLB teams

If you’re keeping track, three @BtBScore writers have gotten jobs with MLB organizations this week. And they don’t even throw left-handed!

The Jays get Ben Horrow.
The Rays get Andrew Ball.
The Reds get Lewie Pollis.

JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 19, 2013 at 02:01 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, media, rays, reds, sabermetrics

Friday, December 13, 2013

McCoy: Pete Rose against eliminating collisions

Rigid body motion, if ever.

That’s a great question, so I called Rose. As you might expect, he had more than a few syllables to say about the subject.

“First of all, if they can eliminate concussions, I’m all for that,” said Rose. “But I’ve thought and thought about it. The only concussions I can remember recently in baseball is Justin Morneau, and he got that sliding into second base. I know this is mostly about Buster Posey, but he got hurt when he got his ankle caught and twisted it.”

SO, YES, ROSE is against eliminating home plate collisions.

“I’m a traditionalist,” he said. “I thought the game has always been pretty good. About the only major changes they’ve made to the game since 1869 was when they lowered the mound afrter the 1968 season and the designated hitter. I mean, the game is going pretty good, isn’t it?

“What’s next? Are they going to eliminate the takeout slide on double plays at second base?” Rose asked.

... Said Rose, “Man, you can’t pitch inside any more. Batters come to the plate wearing more protect gear than a soldier in Afghanistan. You know what happens after most home plate collisions? The runner and the catcher get up, pat each other on the ass, and play goes on. Players know when a guy on the other team doesn’t do it right or wrong. If he does it wrong that gets taken care of the next time the guy comes to bat.”

Rose laughed and said, “I saw where Johnny Bench, the greatest catcher in the history of the game, is in favor of eliminating collisions, so maybe he is a better guy to ask.”

Repoz Posted: December 13, 2013 at 06:21 AM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: history, reds

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Redleg Nation: Can we just trade Aroldis Chapman already?

You can’t spell Aroldis without Rid Also.

Assuming you are a non-believer and recognize the Myth of the Closer, Chapman is the one pitcher of value the Reds can move who will bring the most while affecting the team’s fortunes in 2014 least. Another year closing out games—even if the front office holds good on it’s stated desire to utilize a more high-leverage Chapman—isn’t a difference maker in my opinion. The Reds simply have more pressing needs at this juncture. What Chapman can bring back is anybody’s guess. But what we do know is that much of Baseball continues to adore their closers. GMs hold them close. Managers view them as their personal security blankets. The Mariners are “all in” and could use a closer to nail down those leads Robinson Cano gives them. The Yankees might love to replace a retired legend with a ninth inning lightshow worthy of Bright Lights, Big City.

Jonathan Papelbon is the highest profile closer out there as the Winter Meetings gear up. Although the Phillies would like to move him, his contract makes that difficult. Free agents Edward Mujica and Francisco Rodriguez are out there, too, but neither inspire. Joaquin Benoit and Grant Balfour are both 36 years old. Fernando Rodney is 37 years old and widely regarded as unreliable.

The Reds can exploit one of the great inefficiencies remaining in Baseball. They can let someone else overvalue the last three outs of the game. And in doing so, they can mitigate the loss of Choo. Or they can fill the void at second base should they succeed in divesting themselves of Phillips. Perhaps even grab a coveted MLB-ready prospect to replenish the minors and stay young. Not to mention, they can let the rest of their already expensive bullpen earn their keep.

The Closer has become this revolving door. You see it each year. The Pirates lose Joel Hanrahan—then along comes Jason Grilli. Daniel Bard had the Red Sox thinking they were set for years—now it’s Koji Uehara’s turn to be the ninth inning Batman. I remember when Brian Wilson was the guy by the Bay—Sergio Romo did okay, right Reds fans?

Trade Chapman? The Reds can do this. The Chapman Experiment is over. The Reds know this.

Don’t they?

Repoz Posted: December 10, 2013 at 05:48 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: reds, sabermetrics

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