August 2010

Baker a GM? No thanks

Reds manager Dusty Baker spent last night’s game and will spend tonight’s game in general manager Walt Jocketty’s suite while serving his two-game suspension.

What was that perspective like?

“It’s a lot easier up there,” Baker said. “Every war movie or cowboy movie I remember, they always went to high ground to have a better view of things.”

Someone asked Baker if he’d ever like to move into the GM’s chair sometime. It took little time, if any, for him to respond with a no.

“Al Rosen, who recruited me to the Giants, had asked me what position I’d like,” Baker said. “At the time I told him I’d like to be his assistant general manager or possibly general manager some day. He told me I’d be better suited to manage on the field. He’d seen me across the field from Houston and the Giants when I was with the Dodgers. Since I’ve been in this position, I’d rather be in the action. As a manager, you’re kind of like the shop foreman. Most times, the shop is in the basement. You’re down there with the guys, the players. You’re not an officer from being in the military. You’re more of a warrant officer, which is a former enlisted man that they thought merited commission as an officer. You’re an enlisted man in charge of other enlisted men.

“Plus general manager – that’s a lot of hard work. That’s a lot of work when everybody else is off work – namely me. Those three or four months off, you need it to recharge from the long season. That general manager, they work hardest in the off-season. Most of them live where they work. Most of them go to the office every day or almost every day. They’re in meetings all the time. I like what I’m doing.”

Other quick notes —

*Johnny Cueto, suspended for seven games, threw 41 pitches against hitters Juan Francisco and Ryan Hanigan. He is slated to start on Aug. 21 at Los Angeles, his first day after the suspension ends.

*Orlando Cabrera (oblique) said he’s feeling better. Cabrera took some swings Friday, but not at full speed. The trainers wanted him to try hitting today if he felt up to it. Cabrera hopes to be ready by the time he’s eligible to return on Wednesday at Arizona.

*Jonny Gomes will be presented withe MLB Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle Award. One player for each club receives the nod locally and an overall winner is announced in November.

“From my coming up through the minors and before that with some of the adversity in my life, you never know when it’s going to be your last game,” Gomes said. “I kind of play the game in regards to that’s how I want to be remembered when my time is up. I worked too hard to put this uniform on.  It will take a lot to take it off. That’s one of the aspects I want to bring every day. Every manager I’ve played for I’ve told them ‘I’d love to promise some numbers for you at the end of the year, but I can’t. what I can promise is hustle and respecting the game every day.’”

 *Aaron Harang will leave Sunday morning and meet Triple-A Louisville for his rehab assignment start at Columbus. First pitch is at 5 p.m.

*Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman broke his leg at the beach on Friday in San Diego while vacationing with his family. Marty Brennaman reported that Thom was trying out wakeboarding for the first time. 

Saturday

Man, I need to come up with better blog headlines. Just ‘Saturday’ seems baren of thought and utilitarian, at best. When it’s 97 and muggy, the first thing to leave my mind is good blog headlines. At least I remembered to take down tonight’s lineup.

Sat lineup vs FLA

Phillips 4
Heisey 9
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Stubbs 8
Hernandez 2
Janish 6
Leake 1

*Last night’s win and the outcome of tonight’s game will go on Dusty Baker’s managerial record, even though Chris Speier is in the dugout while Baker is suspended.

More to come…

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Cueto not appealing

The Reds and Johnny Cueto have decided that he will not appeal the seven-game suspension he recieved for his actions during Tuesday’s scuffle against the Cardinals. Cueto will begin serving his suspension immediately and miss Sunday’s start vs. Florida. Homer Bailey will be activated from the DL and start Sunday.

A roster move will be needed to get Bailey back on the roster. Cueto can not be replaced on the 25-man roster and the Reds will be shorthanded, in effect.

“With our pitching situation, the way things line up, it will be better if he misses one start and he’ll have one extra day from ordinarily he would start,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “So maybe this will make him even better and stronger. He can train, train and more train.”

Cueto will be eligible to return for the Aug. 20 vs. the Dodgers at Los Angeles.

Bailey was 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA in four rehab appearances, includng three starts. He last pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Tuesday.

“Healthy, that’s all I know,” Bailey said whens asked how’s he’s been feeling. “Whatever they want me to do, I’m doing it. As long as I’m feeling good, that’s the most important thing.”

*Dusty Baker will be watching tonight’s game from GM Walt Jocketty’s booth near the press box.

“The choices were to either go watch it in the stands, which is impossible, go to Walt’s box, go home, which is impossible or help Marty,” Baker said, with the last part being a joke.

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Another tough pitcher in town

Fri lineup vs FLA

Phillips 4
Nix 7
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Edmonds 8
Bruce 9
Hernandez 2
Janish 6
Volquez 1

*Marlins RHP Josh Johnson leads MLB with a 1.97 ERA, hence the extra left-handed presence tonight.

*The last four starting pitchers including Friday — Reds will have faced starting pitchers
Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright and Johnson — have combined records are 50-18, 2.38…all four rank in the Top 10 in the league in ERA.

*In the limited sample size, Scott Rolen has faired the best vs. Johnson at 3-for-7 (.429).

*It now says TBA on Reds game notes for Sunday’s starter vs. Florida. However, there has been no announcement if that day’s originally scheduled starter, Johnny Cueto, will appeal the seven-game suspension he got.

 

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Cueto, Baker suspended

Here is the most recent version of the story about Johnny Cueto being suspended for seven games (essentially one start) and Dusty Baker and Tony LaRussa getting two games each after Tuesday’s brouhaha. Fines were handed out to several players, including Brandon Phillips.

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100812&content_id=13372456&vkey=news_cin&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

I just got off of the phone with Dusty Baker and asked what he thought about the ruling.

“What can you do? When the judge rules, the judge rules,” Baker said. “We’ll try to appeal That’s what people usually do.”

While Cueto can appeal his suspension, the managers can not and will start serving on Friday. Baker will have to watch the games from either the GMs box or go home. He can be in the clubhouse and on the field pre-game for batting practice, etc.

“You can appeal almost anything. That’s not the most diplomatic system,” Baker said of his having no appeal process as a manager.

Cueto is slated to pitch on Sunday, but with an appeal, he can keep pitching while the appeal process is ongoing.

In my opinion, Cueto was fortunate he didn’t get more games. I know he was pinned back by the backstop, but the kicking of guys with spikes on was a big deal. Someone could argue that he shouldn’t have been smack dab in the middle of the skirmish in the first place.

I’m very surprised that sterner discipline wasn’t given to Molina and Carpenter. Molina was mostly responsible for the first part of the benches-clearing scuffle and Carpenter certainly played a part in part two.

Baker was also stunned more didn’t happen to Carpenter, especially.

“I don’t know what the umpire report says. Something must have been left out,” Baker said.  “A few statements caused the escalation.”

One of those statements was visible on camera from Carpenter, who turned and barked something at Baker. 

Baker tried to plead his case to Bob Watson and Frank Robinson of MLB, but to no avail. He talked to both this morning, but the decisions had already been made. He wants to put everything that happened this week in the past.

“The whole thing was wrong,” Baker said. “What Brandon said shouldn’t have been said. What happened in the game shouldn’t have happened. It shouldn’t have escalated to that point. You don’t want it to happen again. It doesn’t help baseball. It doesn’t help the integrity of the game and it doesn’t help anything.”

 

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Postgame: Swept by St. Louis

Some of the takeaway following Wednesday’s 6-1 loss and three-game series sweep at the hands of the Cardinals.

The good —

Not much to talk about in this regard.

The not-so-good —

*For all the trash talk and trouble Brandon Phillips started, he certainly did not back it up. Phillips dropped a 2-for-14 dud over the three-game series. In Wednesday’s 1-for-4 game, he hit two balls back to the pitcher and grounded out routinely to first base. His single came with two outs in the eighth with the Reds already down by six runs.

*People are going to filet the Reds for not getting it done. But Cardinals pitchers had a lot to do with it, especially Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright. Those dudes are no slouches.

All three rank in the top 10 in ERA in the National League. Wainwright is now tied for the league lead with 17 wins. He has a 1.99 ERA.

*Reds hitters batting .186 (18-for-97) in the series. They had only nine hits with two extra-base hits against the St. Louis starters.  The Reds were outscored, 21-8 and outhit, 35-18.

*Scott Rolen is hitless in his last 12 ABs, including 0-for-10 in the series.

Perspective —

Yes the Reds are now down one game in the NL Central after coming in two ahead. Yes, they got blown up in their own building by a team that’s been around the block as contenders often. But it’s one series and the sky isn’t falling because of this. The Reds have done a good job this season at not letting bad play spill over into long losing streaks. They haven’t lost more than five in a row all year and that streak was in early April.

But what happened this week definitely seemed to stir the hornets’ nest on the St. Louis side. If they weren’t motivated enough to stick it to the Reds before, they are now.

Quotes —

“Everybody knew he had to come over the plate at that time because you don’t want to walk in a run. Bronson, other than that one inning, threw the ball pretty well.” — Dusty Baker on the Colby Rasmus grand slam off Bronson Arroyo

“I nibbled a little bit with Holliday. The umpire had a really rigid zone today so it kind of changes your perspective on how you want to get guys out. I wasn’t getting a whole lot on the inner half to Rasmus the first couple of at-bats. At 2-2, I didn’t feel like I could go on the inner half. I didn’t think I’d get a strike in there. I didn’t think he was going to swing. I kind of was just playing the odds, staying on the outer half hoping he’d pop something up. I threw him a 3-2 sinker, took a little off. It was kind of a BP fastball and he hit it good.” — Arroyo

“It certainly added fuel to our fire, when you’ve got guys opening their mouth saying stupid stuff. But we only use that in a positive way. it’s very unprofessional to fire back. just go out there and win the game on the field, not off the field. That’s what we did this series.” — Adam Wainwright on Brandon Phillips.

“We’ve got a well-time off day right now. We’ll go relax, rest a little bit and come back. We’ll keep playing. Florida isn’t going to come in here and lay down. We’ve been a game up, a game down all year. Would we have liked the outcome to have been better? Yeah, we would have obviously.” — Scott Rolen

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The Day After

 

Weds lineup vs. STL

Phillips 4
Janish 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

I don’t suspect we’ll hear anything about MLB rendered discipline until late today, or Thursday. So it appears status quo from the Reds, for now. 

Here is what Dusty Baker said about the prospect of suspensions:

“Hey man, I don’t think it’s even fair to print or anticipate or even say about losing guys. That’s kind of like setting the sentence before somebody went to trial. It’s like ‘how many years will you get in jail?’ Who says you will get to jail? I just hope the guys up there realize the tension, the pressure and background. You also can’t just go on what you see on the video because you don’t know what was said or what was done. You have to beware of the first man’s testimony until the second man comes forward. The first man always sounds innocent until the second man testifies.”

“Sometimes you know they claim no punches were thrown. There were words that created punches to be thrown. You know what I mean? Not that what happened was right on our side or what was said was right. There’s always a cause and effect on every situation almost. In our hearts that thing was over, until some people started talking.” 

 

 

 

Ringside, er, clubhouse postgame

Sorry, but with less than 12 hours until first pitch on Wednesday, I don’t have much to say about tonight that I haven’t written on MLB.com. I’m not shocked the Cardinals took exception to Brandon Phillips’ poorly chosen words and trash talk. I would not be stunned if there are suspensions levied.

Anyway — here are some quotes from both clubhouses:

“[Phillips] tapped Yadier and the umpire like he always does. Yadier didn’t like it and said ‘I’m not your so-and-so.’ The next thing you knew, it was on. One thing led to another.  Guys were chirping. Some guy said ‘be quiet.’ One of their coaches, [Jose] Oquendo, I told him to be quiet. Tony told me not to talk to his coaches. I told him a few things and he told me a few things. I heard some stuff out of the back and the next thing you know, it was on again.” — Dusty Baker
 

“I was trying to go in and trying to break people off. As soon as I knew it, I had like 20 people pushing me all over to the net. I already had my back to the net with my feet up.” — Johnny Cueto, who kicked several Cardinals players, including Jason LaRue and Chris Carpenter.

“I don’t think it was a big mystery there was some tension going into the game. It got ugly right there at the beginning. I was tired before my first at-bat.” — Scott Rolen

“Me and Dusty exchanged words, and then the next thing I know, I was in the net with somebody kicking me in the back, from behind, where I was held down. Nobody was doing anything. I wasn’t throwing any punches. Nobody was throwing any punches. We had some guy kicking me in the back who ends up kicking my backup catcher and splits his face open. When you see him, you’ll see, he could have done some real damage. He got him in the side of the eye, got him in his nose, got him in his face. Totally unprofessional. Unbelievable. I haven’t seen anything like that.” — Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter

And Carpenter on Rolen: “It was fine. I think what happened was Scott grabbed me and they thought we were doing something, and that’s when that bull rush got me. Scott was just pulling me out, and I was fine with that until I ended up on the net getting kicked.”

“We’ve been around a long time. If you look back, he’s had issues with other managers because he’s for his club and the [other] manager is for his club. That’s part of being responsible for your team. It’s never personal. It was the managers for two teams that were having a problem.” — Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa on his heated exchange with Baker

“I was ready to start the game, and he touched me. The comments that he made yesterday, that he’s got no friends over here, why are you touching me then? You are not my friend. So don’t touch me. You don’t have to touch me. If we’re not good for you, you’re not my friend.” — Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina

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Hot and steamy at GABP

Tues lineup vs STL

Phillips 4
Janish 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Heisey 9
Stubbs 8
Hernandez 2
Cueto 1

*With LHP Jaime Garcia starting for the Cardinals, it probably explains why Jay Bruce and Jim Edmonds are not in the lineup.

*As I type, Aaron Harang is throwing a simulated game down on the field. I will have more on that later.

*My car said the outside temperature was 99 degrees as I drove down here. I can only imagine it’s really smokin’ on the field.

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Postgame: What to do with Leake?

Many people have wondered and asked me what the Reds would do with Mike Leake as the innings piled up and the season got towards the late summer. We now seem to be getting closer to some sort of answer.

Dusty Baker admitted tonight after Leake’s latest struggle that the Reds have some thinking to do about his future this season.

Another rough outing — seven runs in the fourth inning — led to a 7-3 loss to the Cardinals. Leake was done after 3 2/3 innings. Seven-straight hits in the fourth, including Skip Schumaker’s grand slam were his undoing.

Here’s the pickle the Reds are in: he has 129 2/3 innings logged this season. His career high last season at ASU was 142. The original target was 170. Dusty Baker was asked if fatigue has become a factor.

“Possibly. We discussed that,” Baker said. “He had a big inning in Pittsburgh but that was led by a couple of different variables – a hit batsman and a potential play on a groundball. We just have to discuss it and talk about it some more, which we already have. I’m sure this will be a topic of discussion real soon, probably [Tuesday].”

There is no fatigue issue, according to Leake.

“I feel great. I’m just hitting a rough patch,” said Leake, who is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break. He is 7-4 with a 4.16 ERA in 21 starts overall after a 6-1 start in the first half.

Aaron Harang is throwing his first simulated game Tuesday and will need a rehab assignment. Harang is not an option to replace Leake. Homer Bailey has three mostly solid rehab starts in the books and one more scheduled. That could be a possiblity. The Reds have to wait 10 days to bring back Travis Wood.

Leake admitted his biggest problem lately is throwing too many strikes. After a few spins through the league now, there is a book on him and scouts/video/etc. have exposed him some.

“That’s kind of what’s been starting to play a factor,” Leake said. “They know I’m going throw strikes. They’re going to come out aggressive. I need to maybe find a way to get them to swing at bad pitches instead of pitches they want.”

The good —

*Carlos Fisher dropped in with a 3 1/3 scoreless innings after Leake departed. Fisher struck out five and allowed two hits. That’s the second time he’s been a bullpen saver during a rough night for a starter. I’ll be curious to see if Fisher will stay up when he probably can’t pitch again for a few days or if the Reds will seek another long man.

*Laynce Nix was 1-for-3 tonight and has 12 hits in his last 24 at-bats.

The not-so-good —

*Brandon Phillips was 0-for-5 and is hitless in his last 10 ABs.

*One thing that surprised me a little tonight is how fast Reds fans on Twitter turned on Leake. The dude was a rookie wunderkind to many of you for skipping college and getting it done in the big leagues during the first half. I know this is a pennant race and the stakes are higher, but I’d have thought it would take a lot more two bad starts for the drums start beating for Leake to be sent out.

Leake is a big boy and doesn’t need me to defend him. I’m not going to start now. But again, that caught me off guard. It probably shouldn’t have.

More quotes –

“We hit some balls pretty good. The guy is tough. He had his curveball going today, big time.  That was his out pitch. His fastball was pretty good but it was moving.” — Dusty Baker on Chris Carpenter, who is 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts vs. the Reds in 2010.

“I do the same things I always do against anybody else, and that is to watch video and get a game plan put together and try to execute. These guys over there obviously are in the situation they’re in for a good reason, and that’s because they can hit, for one, and they’ve got some guys that can pitch over there too. it’s definitely a challenge, but every challenge is a good challenge. When you’re going against a group of guys that you know are going to compete and they’re going to do everything they can to beat you, it’s a lot of fun.” — Carpenter on his success vs. the Reds. He’s won nine-straight decisions against them and 11-3 with a 2.00 ERA in 17 starts lifetime.

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