Results tagged ‘ George Grande ’

The Sheldon Awards

Since reporters are mysteriously not permitted to be in the Baseball Writers Association of American (BBWAA), I have no vote for the year-end awards — either local or national. So — I will hand out my own little awards on this here blog.

This recognition and a dollar will almost get you a pack of gum.

Reds MVP: Joey Votto. No Reds hitter was as indispensible as Votto this season and that was proven during his absence for personal issues. When he was in there, no one was a bigger threat. He hit a career-high 25 homers and tied a career high with 84 RBIs entering Sunday, despite playing in just 130 games. He will be the first Reds player to hit over .300 since 2005. After his return from the DL, he missed only one game and when he was in there, no one worked harder. I give him the edge over Brandon Phillips.

Most outstanding pitcher: Bronson Arroyo. Few in the Majors were better than Arroyo in the second half. There was the string of quality starts (23 total) and the 12-straight outings of at least seven innings and three or less runs. That means the Reds always had a chance when he pitched after the All-Star break. Despite calls from panicked fans to get rid of him during the first half, he finished with a 3.84 ERA. Had he gotten some better run support, Arroyo might have been in the 18-20 wins range.

Rookie of the year: Drew Stubbs. Since he only came up on Aug. 19, he probably lacks the at-bats to qualify. But this is my award, so the rules go out the window. Stubbs made the Reds better once he became the leadoff hitter and he led the club in homers and steals and was second in runs scored since his arrival. Honorable mention must go to Daniel Herrera and Ryan Hanigan, both have been solid all season and have plenty to build on for next year.

Good Guy Award: Lots of candidates in the clubhouse but I’m going with Jonny Gomes. In his one year here, he demonstrated the meaning of solid clubhouse presence.

Biggest surprise: For my year-end story that will be out this week, I put Gomes but Nick Masset and Daniel Herrera would have definitely been solid choices. Dusty Baker was in agreement when he was asked.

“Probably Gomes, Nix, Danny Herrera and Masset big time,” Baker said. “Masset, probably the biggest. He’s elevated himself to a different role, a more important role through performance.”

Biggest disappointment: Willy Taveras. No explanation really needed but a .275 OBP and 18 walks doesn’t cut it for a leadoff hitter who was signed to a two-year, $6.25 million contract last winter.

Looking ahead to 2010:

I’d understand why if it didn’t happen, but I’d like to see Paul Janish open next season as the starting shortstop. His glove is sensational and he will never cheat with his effort. If only he wasn’t batting .213. With Stubbs instead of Willy Taveras leading off and more offense from behind the plate, the Reds might be able to handle a lower offensive production from Janish. He could also get better as he gets more experience.

Johnny Cueto made the next step but now must get his arm rested and ready for 200 innings. Last night, Cueto hinted he would do winter ball again in December. But there is an “extreme fatigue rule” in place. For any pitcher that pitches 170 innings in a season, it’s up to the club. Cueto pitched 171 1/3 innings this year.

“It’s our decision,” assistant GM Bob Miller said. “We’ll evaluate it.”

Unless it’s a few innings to tune up for Spring Training, Cueto should skip winter ball. But obviously there is a lot of pressure in the home country — in this case, it’s the Dominican Republic.

Don’t underestimate the message that no one has named Jay Bruce outright as the right fielder next year. While it’s his job to lose,  he needs to show up ready to rock and blow everyone out of the water at Spring Training — because he’s more than capable of doing it. Like he says, he needs to be a hitter and not a slugger.

If the Reds eventually want to name Dave Duncan their pitching coach, that’s their choice. But it will be an expensive choice — almost like adding a free agent player. There are some good choices inside the organization like Ted Power and if he wanted the job, Mario Soto.

Goodbye, George:

George Grande revealed on Sunday that he was doing his final Reds TV broadcast after 17 years. He informed Fox Sports Ohio and the team earlier this week that he was opting out of his contract.

“I wanted to spend more time at home, basically,” Grande said. “I love the Reds, what I do and I love my job. I just need to be home on a regular basis, not just four or five days a month, to keep up on things.”

Grande said he would still do work with Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame.

“If there is something that comes along where I don’t have to travel on a regular basis, I will do that too,” Grande said. “I’m not leaving to take another job. I’m leaving to spend more time at home. If something happens, fine. More than anything, I will miss the people. I will miss everybody I worked with. We’ve all been pretty lucky and fortunate — the broadcasters and writers, everybody – to have a great relationship. The people I worked with made 17 years a joy.”

It’s sad knowing George won’t be back. There isn’t a nicer guy in the business. He might have been the most positive person I’ve ever met. If he’s ever had a bad day, you wouldn’t know it. Best of luck….

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Kent Mercker in the house

Towards the end of last season when he was injured and retirement was near, someone asked reliever Kent Mercker what his next vocation would be. Without hesistation, he said he’d be “turning vodka into urine.” Everyone around him in the clubhouse laughed.

That was quintessential Mercker, who was one of the smartest and funniest players I’ve encountered in this game.

But he’s found a part-time gig that brings him around the Reds again. Mercker is here at Busch Stadium to make his regular season radio debut working with Marty Brennaman tonight and Thursday. He’s slated to do a handful of games later in the season. I can only imagine he’ll make for entertaining radio during the games. Let me know how he does.

The reason for the change: Chris Welsh returned home for his son’s graduation and Jeff Brantley shifted from the radio booth to TV with George Grande.When Mercker first got here, he didn’t know where to go — so he went to visit a familiar face, Dick Pole, who was by the Reds bullpen — which is usually a no-no for credentialed media.

“I will light him up for that,” Brennaman said. 

A few years ago when the Reds stayed near a decepit mall in St. Louis adjacent to Union Station, the stores were all T-shirt shops and fudge stores. One day Adam Dunn was given a white T-shirt with a photo of Mercker’s smiling mug on it. Above the picture read “World’s Greatest Teammate.”

On to some news…

Willy Taveras is out of the lineup again because of a sore right hamstring. Taveras’ inability to catch up to Nick Stavinoha’s sixth-inning drive to center field let two-runs score on the double, including the go-ahead run in a 5-2 loss. Taveras spent a while in manager Dusty Baker’s office on Wednesday.

“He’s about the same,” Baker said. “I had a long talk with him today. We’ll hopefully try it again this weekend some time against the Cubs.”

Chris Dickerson started in center field but Jerry Hairston Jr. was back in the lineup and moved up to the leadoff spot. Hairston missed the last two games with a stomach flu. Why was Hairston moved up?

“No. 1, I wanted to split up right-left-right-left,” Baker said. “No. 2, last year Hairston was an outstanding leadoff man.”

The Reds were 25-19 last season when Hairston led off.

“Hopefully we can get some of the same,” Hairston said. “Whether I leadoff or hit second, I know my job is to get on base. Obviously hitting second, I may take a few more pitches to give the guy in front of you an opportunity to steal a base.”

Alex Gonzalez was also given a rest after he made the last 11 starts. Paul Janish got a start at shortstop.

“He’s been playing a lot,” Baker said. “I don’t want Janish to be out too long. I thought about doing it tomorrow but that’s not fair to Janish getting one start and he has to face [Cardinals Thursday starter Chris] Carpenter.”

Almost forgot to mention — no starter was named on Saturday yet. Baker said it was definitely not someone already up here. That seems to all but point to Matt Maloney to get the start vs. the Cubs.

Reds lineup:

Hairston 5
Dickerson 8
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Hernandez 3
Nix 7
Hanigan 2
Janish 6
Cueto 1

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Civil Rights Game press conf.

Today I covered the press conference that announced the MLB Beacon Award winners during Civil Rights Game weekend June 19-21 in Cincinnati. The game, between the Reds at White Sox, is on June 20.

The Beacon Award winners are Muhammad Ali, Bill Cosby and Hank Aaron — some pretty huge names.

During the press conf, I was amazed by the group of former Negro League players. It’s pretty cool to have that history in one room, along with Frank Robinson.

“That’s a tremendous lineup,” Robinson said of Ali, Cosby and Aaron. “It’s too bad they couldn’t get somebody to hit fourth. That’s a great group.”

Robinson was a 2008 Beacon of Life winner. Below is a picture from today with Chuck Harmon, the Reds’ first African American player, Robinson and FSN’s George Grande.


grande-harmon-robinson.jpgAnd here is a group shot of everyone at today’s press conference: 


Among those attending the press conference today were:

                   Frank Robinson – Cincinnati Reds and National Baseball Hall of Famer
                   Dusty Baker – Manager, Cincinnati Reds
                   Phil Castellini – Chief Operating Officer, Cincinnati Reds
                   Jimmie Lee Solomon – Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, MLB
                   Rick Walls – Executive Director, Reds Hall of Fame and Museum
                   Chuck Harmon – First African-American player for the Cincinnati Reds
                   Don Johnson – Negro Leagues Veteran
                   Tom Turner – Negro Leagues Veteran
                   Ron Warren – Negro Leagues Veteran

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