Pittsburgh all locked down

As Marty Brennaman said to me today, Thursday’s game is being played before an “intimate audience.” No matter what the announced attendance is here, the actual crowd inside the ballpark will be a mere fraction. The upper deck was closed and fans were told they could move to other sections.

Because of the G-20 Summit that started today, the locals were essentially told to stay away from downtown. Most of the local businesses are closed and you can forget driving to navigate a car across most of the streets on the south side of the river.

As I walked to PNC Park, there were metal detectors at the entrance of my hotel and I probably saw platoons of police marching through town in various spots. It all told me that I’m glad I’m leaving town as soon as the game is over.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Sutton 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 9
Balentien 7
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

At first glance, you might be wondering why Willy Taveras is already back in there and Drew Stubbs isn’t after Dusty Baker made the Wally Pipp reference the other day.

“You have to play some time,” Baker said. “Stubbs has been playing every day. We all have to earn our keep.”

Baker was asked what kind of role he envisioned for Taveras if Stubbs was the regular center fielder next season.

“I don’t know. You’re asking questions that are way down the line,” Baker said. “Willy was struggling before Stubbs got here. He’s been out a long time and the door opened for Stubbs and he really kicked that door open.”

What about Chris Dickerson? He’s been out for a month with a sprained ankle.

“He has to come back,” Baker said. “Right now, Stubbs has played better than both of them. Dickerson’s average is higher but Stubbs has been way productive. Dickerson’s upside is still tremendous. There’s a lot of competition out there and we’ll find a way to get playing time for all that will help us – the best players at that particular time and day.

“Dickerson still has action big time. I’d rather have too many than too few. They’re all pretty good outfielders and have speed. Stubbs has shown more power than almost any of them and stealing bases  and better defensively the more familiar he becomes with the ballparks.”

What the Reds end up doing with Taveras next season will be a big $4 million question. He wouldn’t make an effective bench player so I don’t see how all three of them could be kept. That’s also a lot of money to write off by just releasing him. Teams like the Red Sox and Yankees routinely do that, not the Reds.

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Dickerson is great, this team is great I haven’t blogged a lot during this season, but I still listen and watched the games. I’m just speechless on how a team with talent, can’t play in a clinch. We’re doing it to ourselves with the injuries and the goofed plays. For the past three years we’ve been a 500 team that doesn’t make it to 500 because we can’t handle the hurdles of the season. We beat everyone in our division regularly…I just don’t get it. Somebody tell Dusty to keep the kids we have now and build a dynasty with them make them believe in winning. It’s what we’re missing.

What do the Reds’ minor league affiliations look like for next year? They usually change after even number years, I think, but I also thought the Reds were ditching Sarasota for High A in addition to Spring Training. Is that true, and when will the new affiliations be known?

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