August 2013

Games 135-137: at COL

I have this series off and will be back for the next Reds-Cardinals series that starts Monday at GABP.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Game 134: at STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*This is only the second time in 2013 that Phillips has batted second and the first time since Opening Day when Ryan Ludwick went down. He did not bat second at all in 2012. Lifetime in the two-hole, he is batting .277/.320/.424 with 21 homers and 68 RBIs in 183 games.

*Click here to read my Monday notebook idea on the trouble the Reds have had in the second spot. I also had something on the blog that day.

*Shortly after last night’s game, Phillips tweeted this out:

Corky Miller on MLB Network

The other day, Reds catcher Corky Miller spent some time on “Intentional Talk,” on MLB Network and it was a pretty fun interview to watch. Miller will never be known for hitting and his mustache has seemed to take on a persona of its own but the guy knows the game very well, handles pitches superbly and is a good dude in the clubhouse.

Pirates add Byrd, Buck

The Pirates made another statement of their hopes and expectations for 2013 on Tuesday when they pulled off a waiver-wire trade.

Acquired were OF Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the Mets for Minor League infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later. Click here for the full story from my MLB.com colleague, Tom Singer.

What did Reds manager Dusty Baker think of the move?

“What can I say? They’re going for it,” Baker said. “You hate to see your competitor get stronger.”

The deadline for acquiring a player that can be eligible for postseason rosters is Aug. 31 (Saturday). Baker wouldn’t mind adding help before the final month but is also wary of these types of moves.

“You have to be careful,” Baker said. “Too many moves this time of the year can affect the chemistry of your club.”

The Reds haven’t made too many waiver trade acquisitions in recent years. The two that come to mind are Jim Edmonds and Willie Bloomquist in 2010. However, Bloomquist was picked up after Aug. 31 and could not be part of the playoff roster.

Game 133: at STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

Reds prospects selected for AFL

I will have more on this later on Reds.com and MLB.com but several Reds prospects were selected to participate in this year’s Arizona Fall League. That season opens on Oct. 8.

Going to play for the Glendale Desert Dogs are:

RHP Drew Hayes (AA Pensacola)
RHP Chad Rogers (AAA Louisville)
RHP James Walczak (AA Pensacola)
RHP Michael Lorenzen (AA Pensacola)

C Tucker Barnhart (AA Pensacola)
INF Travis Mattair (AA Pensacola)
OF Yoman Rodriguez (AA Pensacola)

OF Ryan LaMarre (AA Pensacola) ** Selected for taxi squad to play on Weds and Sun. only.

Billings pitching coach and former Reds star Tom Browning was named the Glendale pitching coach.

For the details on the players from Pensacola, click here

For the Arizona Fall League web site, click here.

The void of production at No. 2

The topic that I have found that frustrates Reds fans the most has been the No. 2 spot of Dusty Baker’s lineup. Going into the season, it was supposed to be a sure thing with Brandon Phillips.

“That plan didn’t make it one day,” Baker said on Monday.

We all know what happened. Ryan Ludwick got hurt for four months (torn labrum in right shoulder) and missed four months. Phillips slid successfully into the cleanup spot and remains there with Ludwick back in left field. Ludwick has been batting mostly in the sixth spot.

The No. 2 spot? It’s been a rough go to say the least. This season, Reds No. 2 hitters have batted a combined .226 with a .272 on-base percentage. Much of the time, that was Zack Cozart who struggled in that role. Todd Frazier started his 15th game in the No. 2 spot on Monday. In the previous 14 games, he was batting .179 with a .246 OBP, two homers and four RBIs.

**UPDATE — the Reds average from the No. 2 spot is 29th out of 30 MLB clubs. It is ahead of the Nationals, which bat .217 from the two-hole.

Why has that spot been so much trouble? I asked Baker.

“The rest of the guys aren’t really suited to be in that spot,” Baker said. “Either sometimes guys strike out or hit into double plays. They haven’t learned yet how to manipulate the ball the other way. That is probably the hardest, most unselfish spot there is in the batting order. I was telling Joe Morgan you would prefer that guy to be a left-handed batter to make use of that hole over there when the leadoff hitter gets on and a guy that takes pitches for your leadoff guy to steal.”

Baker wouldn’t divulge when asked if Ludwick might return to the fourth spot, which would put Phillips in the second spot. I would not bank on it. Phillips has done the job well and Ludwick, while getting better and more productive, is still catching up after being out so long. He’s not in mid-season form yet.

Game 132: at STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*This is the first of seven of the next 10 games that will be vs. the Cardinals.

*The Reds are 3-24-2 in series at Busch Stadium since 2003.

*This is a huge stretch of games for the Cardinals. All of their next 13 games are against either the Reds or Pirates. After that, St. Louis doesn’t play another team that’s currently above .500 the rest of the way.

Game 131: vs. MIL

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Score one for the Reds?

Sometimes it takes a few years to determine which team, if any, got the better deal in a trade. And sometimes it takes less.

In the case of the big 4-for-1 trade the Reds made with the Padres on December 17, 2011, to get RHP Mat Latos, the Reds have to be pretty happy with the outcome thus far. That became more clear on Saturday when San Diego designated RHP Edinson Volquez for assignment.

Here’s a look at what the players in the deal have done since:

RHP Edinson Volquez: 20-21, 4.96 ERA, 59 starts

C Yasmani Grandal: .271/.380/.429 in 88 games with 9 HR, 45 RBIs. Currently out 9-12 months after tearing the ACL in his right knee. He also served a 50-game suspension because of a positive test for PEDs.

1B Yonder Alonso: .279/.348/.388 in 244 games with 15 HRs, 101 RBIs

RHP Brad Boxberger: 2.79 ERA in 31 relief appearances…including only seven games in 2013.

RHP Mat Latos: 27-8, 3.24 ERA in 59 starts. Pitched 209 1/3 innings last season and 169 innings in 2013. On pace for over 200 innings and his first 200-strikeout season.

Alonso isn’t hitting for the power that was expected of him yet, and it’s a tougher task even with the fences brought in at spacious Petco Park. He could still have a very good career ahead of him. But right now with Latos on their side, this deal appears to be a win for the Reds.

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