July 2012

Hamilton at Futures Game

OK….so I have one more thing before I go away for a week.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention SS Billy Hamilton and P Kyle Lotzkar, who played in today’s MLB All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City. Playing for Team USA, Hamilton was 1-for-3 with a two-run triple to center field. Alas, there was no stolen base. For the World Team, Lotzkar pitched a scoreless inning with one hit but allowed an inherited run to score. Click here for the box score.

This is video of Hamilton’s triple:

Anthony Castrovince did a story on Hamilton today from Kansas City. Rickey Henderson even had a take on the speedster. Click here to read the piece.

And here is some more video Hamilton, doing an interview with MLB.com before the game was played.

The next stop for Hamilton will be Double-A Pensacola. And again…no, don’t expect him to be with the Reds this season.

Nice end to first half?

I’m dispensing with the three stars today….

As a writer and reporter covering the Reds, I take things as they come and try to analyze and report without bias. But after Sunday’s 4-2 Reds win over the Padres, I really have to wonder how much the difference is between blog/Twitter perception and actual reality.

*The Reds finished with a 6-5 West Coast road trip, despite losing two of three in Los Angeles and having four games where they scored one run or less. They won one four game series and split another. That’s not easy in any stretch of the schedule.

*Cincinnati is in second place one game behind the Pirates and are nine games over .500. The Pirates, by the way, have won nine of their last 11. While I think they will hang around to the end, does anyone think Pittsburgh will play at that level the entire second half?

*If you read the comments in the recent blog entries and some of the Tweets I get, you’d never know this was a team with a winning record. Almost all of the comments and tweets I received today were very negative. One reporter at the All-Star break in Kansas City noted that he wasn’t paying attention to the Reds today, but thought they were losing the game based on the Tweets he read. That says a lot to me.

*While I think fans have legitimate reason to want Frazier to play more over Rolen, did anyone really live under the delusion that Rolen would never ever play again after sitting out with back spasms? The Red Sox gave up on struggling veteran Kevin Youkilis and shipped him out to Chicago. How is that working out now for Boston? How is Youkilis doing, has anyone noticed? Pretty darn good.

*I hear the tired cliche about Dusty Baker only playing veterans over the kids, yet there are often times when two rookies in the starting lineup and sometimes there are three (Cozart, Frazier, Mesoraco). There are several players in the regular lineup under the age of 30. Four of the five members of the rotation are 26 or younger. How does the only plays veteran perception hold up with that reality?

*I think fans in Milwaukee, San Diego, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Colorado, Seattle, Oakland, Minnesota, Arizona and Toronto would gladly trade places with fans in Cincinnati right now. I’m not saying the Reds are playing great…they definitely have to improve, especially offensively.

So there’s my end of the first half rant. I do want to say that I really do appreciate all of your readership, comments, feedback, Twitter follows and participation. But I hope for your sake, and health, that you can find a way to enjoy the second half of the season. Because my perception is that no one is happy, ever.

I will be taking a full week off and returning on July 16. I look forward to picking up the conversation with you then. Until then, be well.

7/8 at S.D.

Reds lineup vs Padres

Cozart 6
Stubbs 8
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Ludwick 7
Rolen 5
Hanigan 2
Cueto 1

UPDATE –

*When I asked if it was tough to sit Todd Frazier, when he’s been the hot hand lately, manager Dusty Baker said it was a better matchup for Scott Rolen against Padres starter Jason Marquis.

“I’ve got to play Scotty sometime and it’s the best kind of guy to play here,” Baker said. “This guy here [Marquis] can trick you. Yesterday and the day before, it was more of a matchup thing. I was going to play Scotty yesterday but Frazier has been so good against left-handers. This guy here throws right up Scotty’s alley and not up Frazier’s alley.”

Frazier was 10-for-25 (.400) while Rolen missed a week with back spasms and is batting .279 overall. Rolen, who comes in batting .184, has struggled when he has played. Clearly, it’s an issue that has been on Baker’s mind because he bristled some over the topic being brought up.

“I don’t want to have to be answering this every day about Scotty and Frazier and who’s playing and who’s not playing,” Baker said. “From now on, it’s ‘manager’s decision,’ like basketball. It’s easier. I don’t know what I am going to do but I will figure it out. … It’s a good problem to have but you get tired of talking about. It’s going to be talked about over and over the rest of the year. Let them talk and let me work.”

“And eventually, if Frazier keeps it [going], the job will be Frazier’s.  Eventually. It’s not to say when but Scotty isn’t a spring chicken. Frazier has a good attitude about things. People fall in love real quick around here and then they fall out of love real quick at the same time. Since I’ve been here five years, there have been six, seven guys that everybody has fallen in love with and the next month or next year, you never hear their name. I’m just trying to win ballgames.”

 

 

 

7/7 at S.D.

Reds lineup vs. Padres

Cozart 6
Stubbs 8
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Frazier 5
Heisey 7
Mesoraco 2
Bailey 1

UPDATE…

*Here is the Reds rotation for after the All-Star break: Latos, Leake and Cueto vs. STL and Arroyo and Bailey will get their first second half starts vs. the D-Backs.

“We debated having Cueto start the first game but everybody else would have had a couple of extra days off and that would have been on his regular turn,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

*Rolen will return to the lineup on Sunday instead of today, but his back appears to be healthy and ready for playing again. But Frazier is 8-for-21 since replacing Rolen in the lineup last Sunday.

“[Rolen] checked out OK. Frazier is playing pretty good right now,” Baker said. “What I always like to do is when a guy says he’s OK, I like to give him an extra day. Frazier has been good against left-handers and very productive.

Arroyo’s gem w/offensive support

Here are the Three Stars after a smooth 6-0 Reds victory over the Padres on Friday that snapped a three-game losing streak and a three-game streak of only scoring one run.

No. 3 star: Ryan Hanigan — 2-for-4, 2-run homer. It was Hanigan’s shot to left field that got the Reds more than one run for the first time in four games.

“[Arroyo] has kind of been that guy this year for a lot of his starts where we haven’t given him too much run support. I was glad to contribute there and give him some breathing room,” Hanigan said

No. 2 star: Zack Cozart — 2-for-4, 1 HR. It was Cozart’s leadoff homer in the first inning — his second of this trip — that gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead. The club obviously wanted to get more after the last few days.

“Everybody knows the past week or so that we haven’t been putting a lot of runs on the board,” Cozart said. “Pitchers have kept us in the game. It showed yesterday we had the one run and it didn’t stick. It’s tough to win games when you’re scoring only one run.”

No. 1 star: Bronson Arroyo — 9 ip, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 110 pitches/72 strikes. Arroyo got his first complete game of the season, the Reds’ their first CG shutout of the season (and the club’s first since Arroyo on 9/21/11). He pitched a terrific game all the way around.

“You only get one of those games like that every couple of years where everything is just going your way,” Arroyo said. “For me, pitching with my head has always been my game. Those guys were a little messed up tonight. I beat guys with pitches I usually don’t beat guys with – 87 on the outer half and guys being late and stuff.  That was basically just mixing up the pitches good enough for them not to be knowing what’s coming. That’s the biggest compliment for me to go out there and have a game go like that.”

Click here for the full game story on MLB.com

News and notes:

*Drew Stubbs’ double in the ninth inning snapped a 0-for-32 stretch. It was the longest skid by a Reds position player since Willy Taveras in 2009. Dennis Menke in 1973 was the last Reds hitter to reach 0-for-33. Bobby Adams in 1954 was the last to reach 0-for-34.

*A Reds starter hasn’t allowed a run in 22 innings — going back to the three-run first inning by the Dodgers against Mike Leake on Wednesday.

*3B Todd Frazier, who was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the eighth, is 8-for-21 (.381) since taking over for the injured Scott Rolen on Sunday.

7/6 at S.D.

Reds lineup vs. Padres

Cozart 6
Stubbs 8
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Ludwick 7
Frazier 5
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

*There was a scoring change on that odd play that ended the top of the first inning. The Elias Sports Bureau reviewed Thursday night’s first-inning play where Wilson Valdez was caught advancing from third base to home in a rundown for the third out. It was determined that Valdez will be credited with a steal of third base and a caught stealing of home.

*The Reds must win the next three games to have a chance at 6-5 road trip. I think considering everything, 5-6 would be an acceptable outcome and 6-5 would very solid.

One run (again)

With the exception another fine starting pitching  effort, there was not much to like about the Reds 2-1 loss to the Padres.

The Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Edinson Volquez, SD — 7 ip, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 10 K, 127 pitches/79 strikes. Volquez had a whopping 57 pitches through two innings. It took him 15 pitches against Jay Bruce alone over the first and second innings (Bruce was batting when Wilson Valdez was thrown out in a rundown to end the first inning). But the Reds never capitalized enough on Volquez’s early jams and he only got stronger as the game went along. Volquez set a season high for strikeouts and a career-high in pitches thrown.

“He started getting ahead with the fastball,” Reds left fielder Chris Heisey said. “I’ve never seen him, since I played with him or watched him pitch, that he was commanding both of his breaking pitches at the bottom of the zone like he was tonight. When he does that, throwing 95 and then throwing an 83 mph changeup at the knees, which he did a bunch of times tonight especially to right-handers, he was on tonight for sure.”

No. 2 star: Everth Cabrera, SD  — 1-for-4. It was Cabrera’s bases-loaded, no outs drive to the wall off of Sam LeCure in the ninth that provided the walk-off ending. It was ruled a single.

No. 1 star: Mat Latos — 7 ip, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 109 pitches/72 strikes. Latos deserved much better than this. Like his last two complete games, he was very effective and had command of the game. It was the Reds rotation’s eighth-straight quality start, but alas their third-straight loss while scoring only one run.

“The rotation, everyone, has been pitching real well. It’s baseball,” Latos said. “I went out there in Cleveland and gave up seven runs and the team scored seven runs to back me up. Today was a grind offensively and defensively and pitching. Things didn’t go our way today.”

News and notes:

*The Reds lineup is 16-for-94 (.170) over the last three games.

*Dusty Baker was ticked off about a lack of execution when it counted in the game. Twice with a runner on third and less than two outs, the Reds didn’t score. Brandon Phillips was picked off of first base in the ninth inning of a 1-1 game.

“You can’t win close games doing the things that we did tonight,” Baker said.

Quotes:

“All year, it’s been haunting us – runners on third, less than two outs. It really haunted again with us today. We just have to get better with runners in scoring position. What happens is you keep them in the ballgame. You keep them close to where a solo home run ties it up. It shouldn’t have gotten that far to even matter.” — Dusty Baker

“He’s a good pitcher, we know what he had when he was here. He’s got great stuff. As far as that goes, it was like facing naybody else. You know you gotta go out and try to capitalize off any mistakes he may make. He did a really good job, good command of his stuff, fastball, offspeed. But we’re just trying to keep the ball rolling, so whoever goes out there, we’re just gonna try to compete hard, try to keep it going.” — Padres CF Cameron Maybin on Latos

7/5 at S.D.

Reds lineup vs. Padres

Cozart 6
Valdez 8
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Frazier 5
Heisey 7
Hanigan 2
Latos 1

*Drew Stubbs sits, not surprisingly as he is mired in a career-long 0-for-28 streak at the plate. It will be interesting to see how Valdez does here. The outfield, especially center field is expansive.

*Scott Rolen (back spasms) will be evaluated again today. I saw Rolen out on a coffee run downtown earlier and he said he felt good. He also said it was first time outside, besides at the ballpark, all week. It appeared that Rolen was moving around normally.

*For the second-place Reds, this is a very important final four games heading into the All-Star break. In 2010, they were swept four-straight by the Phillies heading into the break. The first half last season ended with the Reds losing three of four…with all of the losses being by one run. While they overcame the bad end to the first half in 2010, they never really did much in the second half of last season.

*This will be the first regular season look at former Reds Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso and red-hot Yasmani Grandal this weekend.

*For those wondering about Ludwick, he is 1-for-7 with 4 Ks lifetime vs. Volquez.

7/4 at L.A.

Happy Independence Day to all….I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday.

Reds lineup vs. Dodgers

Cozart 6
Stubbs 8
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Ludwick 7
Frazier 5
Mesoraco 2
Leake 1

Votto, Cozart back in lineup

*As you saw from the previous blog post, both 1B Joey Votto and SS Zack Cozart are back in the Reds lineup vs. the Dodgers on Tuesday.

“I’m not 100 percent but I can play,” said Votto, who missed two full games and part of Saturday with left knee inflammation. “I’m well enough to go without causing any more trouble.”

“It was determined between him and our medical staff, whatever 100 percent is,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “The later you get in the season, the less chance you have of anybody being 100 percent. Anybody that’s played every day has played a lot. You’re not going to be 100 percent until probably Nov. 28, if even then.”

*As for Cozart, he’s very fortunate after being hit in the head by a pitch on Monday. He took a concussion test and did well on Monda night and showed no serious symptoms on Tuesday.

“I woke up this morning still with a slight headache,” Cozart said. “My condition never got worse. It’s gotten a lot better. I don’t have the tension in my head anymore. I don’t have the pressure up there. I feel completely normal.”

*Click here for video of Class A Bakersfield SS Billy Hamilton stealing his 100th base Monday night at Lake Elsinore. And please, no more questions about whether Hamilton will be called up to the Majors this season. Last night, I wrote a story that he is likely to move up to Double-A Pensacola soon.

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