July 2011

What should the Reds do?

What should Reds GM Walt Jocketty do before the Trade Deadline? Buy? Sell? Stand pat? I say keep trying to buy…but stick to the apparent plan of not overpaying. The Reds have been painfully inconsistent and yet are still only five games back. Each of the three teams ahead of them have flaws and none of them have separated.

Forget about Ubaldo Jimenez — that’s the epitome of overpaying for what the Rockies seem to want in return. Forget about James Shields, too.

Get a hitter. Sometimes it takes just one addition to provide the jolt. I remember while covering the Twins in 2003 as they were coming off their first division title in over a decade, they made an All-Star break trade for OF Shannon Stewart. It was needed after the team limped to the second half losers of 26 out of 28 games. All they had to give up was Bobby Kielty. No important prospects were shown the door.

Stewart lacked all of the usual credentials of a quality leadoff hitter…but he did the job (batted .322 in 65 games) and he helped get Minnesota out of its offensive funk as they went on to repeat as division winners. Jocketty doesn’t have to sacrifice the farm system for a rent-a-player like Ryan Ludwick or Carlos Beltran. If he can find a hitter under team control for a while and not give up the farm for him — do it. It doesn’t have to take a blockbuster deal to create the desired spark for a team that’s sagging.

The Reds don’t have many guys they could sell to get prospects even if they went that route and if they did — ticket sales at GABP would plummet if the Reds aren’t in it to win it. Francisco Cordero is in the final year of his contract, but who would close? Aroldis Chapman hasn’t shown he can pitch more than two days in a row. Ramon Hernandez could make way for Devin Mesoraco, but it would still take Mesoraco some time to adjust to calling games here even if he can hit.

It’s good to give some the younger players a chance like the Reds have started to do. Let’s see what Todd Frazier, Yonder Alonso and Zack Cozart (when he is off the DL) can do. But it’s not time to start a full-fledged youth movement yet.

Reds lineup vs. Mets

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

Gomes, Jocketty on the trade

As if it wasn’t obvious enough from the corresponding roster move that came with the trade of Jonny Gomes to the Nationals, Reds GM Walt Jocketty confirmed that the move was made specifically to get the bat of Yonder Alonso to the big leagues.

 “We actually had a couple of clubs that inquired about Jonny’s services but Washington was probably the most persistent,” Jocketty said. “For us, it’s a tough move to make in some ways. Jonny was a big part of our club last year and he’s obviously a guy we all think highly of as a person and as a player. It gives us an opportunity now to bring up a player like Alonso and start looking at some of our younger guys that we feel we need to give an opportunity to.”

The plan appears to use Chris Heisey, Fred Lewis and Alonso in left field. Alonso has played 62 games in the outfield this season and the organization believed he’s shown a lot of improvement since the switch from first base.

“He’s improved a lot,” Jocketty said. “He’ll be able to spell Joey [Votto] from time-to-time at first base and he’ll play some left field. He’ll be a left-handed hitter off the bench. The one thing we do know about Yonder is he can hit. He can flat out hit. That’s what we want to see. That’s what we need.”

Jocketty said this deal wasn’t a chance in trading strategy leading up to the Trade Deadline on Sunday.

“We’re still buying,” he said.

Gomes was sad about leaving but very grateful for the chance to play for the Reds.

“What a great opportunity to play for such a baseball-rich city, a baseball-rich organization. I definitely don’t take any of it for granted. In 2008 at the end of that season, individually, I was kind of left in the weeds. Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker gave me the opportunity. 

“I gave it a great run. I’m bitter about leaving because I really love these guys. I love where this team is at. I love where they’re about to go. As we see right now, it’s a business. On the other token, a team reached out and wanted my services. I take that as a compliment as well.”

Gomes acknowledged his offensive results, namely the .211 batting average, played a part in his being moved. But he was still surprised.

“This is a results driven industry, if you will,” Gomes said. “When the results aren’t there, it might be time to move. Just the average, it really killed me. If you look at everything else, everything is there. The name of the game is on-base, if you can get it 100 points higher than your average, it’s great. I had that. I had 11 homers in 220 at-bats, I think that’s good. 30 RBIs is pretty good. Runs scored were there. The first thing there is average and that’s what everyone looks at. It would have been nice to have an opportunity to turn it around.”

Gomes traded to Nats, Alonso promoted

 About 10 minutes before tonight’s game, got word that Gomes was scratched and Heisey was in LF. Now we know why.

Reds press release:

Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty today announced the acquisition of minor league LHP Chris Manno and OF Bill Rhinehart from the Washington Nationals in exchange for OF Jonny Gomes and cash considerations.

            1B/OF Yonder Alonso (#23) was recalled from Class AAA Louisville to replace Gomes on the Reds’ roster. He will be in uniform for tonight’s game against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park.

            Gomes, 30, this season for the Reds hit .211 with 11 HR and 31 RBI in 77 appearances and 59 starts.

            Alonso, 24, this season is an International League All-Star at Louisville and hit .296 with 24 doubles, 4 triples, 12 HR, 56 RBI and 6 stolen bases in 91 games. He made 21 appearances for the Bats at first base and 62 appearances in the outfield.

Reds won’t overpay in trades

The non-waivers Trade Deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Sunday and the Reds and general manager Walt Jocketty have not gotten into the serious stages of talks about any potential deals as of yet.

“I wouldn’t say nothing is going on. We’re talking a lot but nothing is even close,” Jocketty said on Tuesday afternoon.

Rockies ace starter Ubaldo Jimenez has been a frequent subject in rumors and connected to the Reds. Word in the industry is that if anyone has the wealth of prospects and the potential to deal them – it’s Cincinnati.

The demands in return on any Jimenez deal are believed to be extremely high and Colorado is hoping that a team will blink and give in. Right now, the Rockies won’t take less than everything they ask. According to the Denver Post, the team asked the Reds for top catching prospect Devin Mesoraco and Cuban lefty Aroldis Chapman.

UPDATE – MLB.com also hearing that Rockies desire LHP Travis Wood, RHP Homer Bailey and either Mesoraco OR Chapman. Yonder Alonso was also discussed within Colorado but that was before Alonso got promoted upon Jonny Gomes being traded.

If that’s what it takes to get Jimenez, don’t expect the Reds to be a team that blinks.  According to a baseball source, Cincinnati has no plans to blow other teams away with its proposals. If there is a fair deal that can help the club, they would discuss it. The Reds aren’t going to overpay in a trade, however.

There have also been reports that the Reds might be interested in dealing starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, who is currently at Triple-A Louisville. A source says the Reds are not making him available but there are clubs that believe they can get him on the cheap because he has been struggling.

Jocketty would not address any rumors about Volquez.

“I’m not going to talk about individual players,” he said.

Tuesday — CIN vs NYM

Reds lineup vs. Mets

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Cairo 5
Gomes 7
Hernandez 2
Cueto 1

*Carlos Beltran is 2-for-5 lifetime vs. Cueto with one home run.

*Lifetime vs. the Mets, Cueto is 0-2 with an 8.14 ERA in four starts.

*Since 5/24, Cueto has 11 straight quality starts and he has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his 14 starts this season.

*Against Mets starter Jonathon Niese, Brandon Phillips is 4-for-7 with two homers and three RBIs. Jonny Gomes is 3-for-7 with a homer.

Knuckleballs and missed chances

R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball messed with Reds hitters just as much as missed chances tortured them during a 4-2 loss to the Mets.

New York seized control of the game with a four-run seventh. The Reds were 1-for-9 RISP and had 11 men left on base. A shot at a .500 record was missed as the Reds fell to 51-52 as their short-lived winning streak ends at two.

 “We had chances a couple of times. They got the hits when they needed them and we didn’t,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said

Notes:

*Mike Leake deserved better again with 6 1/3 ip, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. He’s allowed 3 ER over his last two starts and has two losses.

*Dickey had only 57 pitches thrown through five innings and finished with 86 pitches/61 strikes over 6 2/3 innings.

*Paul Janish was 3-for-4 with a run scored in his first game after being recalled from AAA Louisville.

*Brandon Phillips made a nice diving stop to rob Carlos Beltran to end the top of the third inning.

*Logan Ondrusek did not fare very well. Upon entering in the seventh with a runner on first base and two out, Ondrusek gave up three-straight hits and allowed the one inherited run and two of his own runs. He had a 1.53 ERA going in and no runs allowed in his previous 11 appearances.

*Jose Arredondo had a shaky start to the ninth with a hit batter and a walk but he escaped with a 5-4-3 double play and a line out to first base to give the Reds a chance in the bottom half.

Quotes:

“I remember he throws different kinds of knuckleballs – some hard and some soft. You know the basic rule – see it high, let it fly. See it low, let it go. But it’s tough when never see it every day of the week. You can see it high still, and the ball still moves a little bit and you won’t get a good piece.” — Todd Frazier on R.A. Dickey

“During the beginning of the game, once you see him, the more you get used to him and you know what to expect. Once he comes out of the game, the next pitchers that you see, it’s pretty tough on you. When you have a dude come in throwing 100 mph when you’re so used to seeing 70 mph, you be like, ‘Man, wow.’ It messes your timing up. There’s no excuses, but Dickey messed me up for the remainder of the game. I was so used to swinging at the high pitch.” — Brandon Phillips

“Hopefully we’ll put together a string of five or six or seven together soon just to take some pressure off people. The good thing is this division is still up for grabs. Even though we’re not even close to mid-stride, all these other teams are letting us stay in it. We seem to keep battling and hopefully we can put something together.” — Mike Leake

“I don’t worry about it. I’m going out there when the phone rings and just getting people out. I faced the Reds many a time when I was with the Cardinals, so I’m familiar with their hitters. With Bruce, I know he comes up big a lot of times so I didn’t want to give in to him.” — Jason Isringhausen on the decision to pitch around Jay Bruce for a two-out walk in the 9th to face Phillips with the bases loaded. Phillips struck out to end the game.

Votto rested

Reds lineup vs. Mets

Stubbs 8
Cairo 5
Bruce 9
Phillips 4
Lewis 7
Hernandez 2
Frazier 3
Janish 6
Leake 1

*Not at all surprising that Votto is out of the lineup today. Dusty Baker said a Votto rest would likely happen at some point in this series. No time like today with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey going tonight for the Mets. Votto has no HR since 7/8 at MIL and only 9 RBIs this month. In his last five games, he is 2-for-17 (.118)

*This is only the second time all season that someone other than Votto has batted third. It’s been Jay Bruce both times.

*The Reds will miss the injured Scott Rolen in this game especially since he’s 5-for-9 lifetime vs. Dickey — who has never faced the Reds in his career.

*Mets LF Jason Bay has more home runs (21), RBIs (73) and runs scored (66) against the Reds than any other team in his career. Bay also has hit a career-best .334 in 80 games vs. Cincinnati.

*From the Elias Sports Bureau: Drew Stubbs greeted Scott Linebrink with a first-pitch home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning and give the Reds a 4–3 win over the Braves.  Linebrink was third major-league pitcher to allow a home run on his only pitch of a game this season, and all three were walkoff shots.  The others were allowed by Darren Oliver (to Hideki Matsui on May 2) and Mike Adams (to Michael Morse on May 27).

Stubbs HR wins game, series

The quest for consecutive victories is over as Drew Stubbs delivered in the bottom of the ninth with leadoff, first-pitch, walkoff homer for a 4-3 Reds victory over the Braves.

Don’t look now, but the Reds are three games back from a three-way for first place in the NL Central.  St. Louis and Milwaukee both lost today and it was the Pirates that beat the Cardinals.

“We’re right where we need to be,” Stubbs said. “It’s going to be a dogfight to the end of this thing. I don’t think any team is going to run away with it.”

It’s been 31 games since the Reds won back-to-back games…June 13-15 was the last winning upon a sweep of the Dodgers.
 

Notes:

*I thought starter Dontrelle Willis pitched very well despite the no-decision. He worked into the seventh inning and had only 79 pitches after six. What killed him was the wild pitch to Julio Lugo that put a runner into scoring position before the game-tying single.

*Willis suffered a split fingernail on his index finger after striking out Martin Prado in the third. The bullpen stirred as he was looked over by the trainer and pitching coach Bryan Price but Willis was able to continue for his second quality start in three games with the Reds. He has a 3.71 ERA.

*Like Stubbs, who went to the opposite field to end the game, Brandon Phillips did likewise to get the Reds on the scoreboard in the first inning. It was Phillips’ 10th homer of the season and the first since his own walkoff shot on July 15 vs. STL.

*Stubbs now has two career walkoff homers….the last coming 8/29/09 vs. SF not long after he was first called up.

*Aroldis Chapman: 9 pitches, 8 strikes and 5 outs. His one-pitch double play on Jason Heyward saved the Reds to end the seventh. Chapman returned with a perfect eighth.

*To end the top of the second, 3B Miguel Cairo made a very nice pick on a hot grounder by Alex Gonzalez, and then turned a 5-4-3 double play. Cairo then came up in the bottom of the second and smashed a 421-foot homer to left field for a 3-0 win.

*Jonny Gomes struck out in the eighth as a pinch-hitter. He is 0-for-15 as a PH this season with 10 strikeouts.

*The Reds ended a seven-game Sunday Night Baseball losing streak, including 0-3 this season. The last Sunday night win was 8/13/00 vs. the Cubs.

Quotes:

“Stubbs is playing on both sides of the ball. It looks like he’s feeling it and getting better. He’s always been a second half player. Perhaps down the stretch here, he can play like we’ve seen.” — Dusty Baker

“I went up there just looking for a good fastball to hit over the plate. He gave it to me and I was able to put a good swing on it. The rest is history.” — Drew Stubbs

“Teddy Power is a guru. Bryan Price, this off-season, I worked a lot with him. I definitely owe a lot to a lot of people that gave me a chance in going out there, having fun and working hard. This is not for me. This is for the guys that still believe in me – not only friends and family but those guys who love the game and to teach the game. I will definitely continue to work my heart out for them.” — Dontrelle Willis

“All I can say is OMG. It feels good to finally get back-to-back wins. The way we did it, we’re used to doing that. I heard it was since June. That’s crazy. I’m just glad we got it over with and now we can just keep on going from there.” — Brandon Phillips

Seeking two in a row, again

Reds lineup vs. Braves

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Heisey 7
Cairo 5
Hernandez 2
Willis 1

*The Reds are trying to win consecutive games for the first time since June 13-15 at LAD. It’s been a 30-game stretch without back-to-back wins.

*This season, the Reds are 0-3 on Sunday Night Baseball, but have lost all three games by three runs or less. The last Sunday night win was on Aug. 13, 2000, vs. the Cubs.

*Saturday’s sellout was the 11th this season at GABP, tying the single-season record set in 2003, the year the stadium opened.

*Since the All-Star break, Reds pitchers have posted a 2.70 ERA (70 ip, 21 ER), good for second-best in the National League behind the Giants 2.22 ERA.

ATL lineup:

Prado 5
Heyward 9
McCann 2
Uggla 4
Freeman 3
Gonzalez 6
Ramirez 7
McLouth 8
Beachy 1

*Atlanta has 4 lefties in the lineup vs. the left handed Dontrelle Willis. This could bode for Willis. Lefty hitters are 1-for-11 (.091) this season compared to 8-for-26 (.301) for right-handed hitters.  Over his career, it’s a .204 BA against for lefties vs. .280 for righties.

Cozart to DL, Janish back

The Reds on Sunday placed SS Zack Cozart on the 15 day disabled list because of his hyperextended left elbow from Saturday’s collision with Nate McClouth.

SS Paul Janish was recalled from Triple-A Louisville. After starting off 1-for-22 after being sent down on July 7, Janish is now 9-for-40 (.225) 11-for-43 (.256). Before he was sent to AAA, he was batting .227 for the Reds in 68 games with no homers.

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