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2014 Season Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

March 26, 2014

Milwaukee Brewers

Part 1 of my National League Central preview focuses on those Warriors from Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Brewers. Nick at the Brewers Bar was nice enough to take a few minutes away from accusing FedEx delivery guys of tampering with urine samples to answer some of my questions. You can follow them on Twitter at @theBrewersBar.

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Say Something

February 27, 2014

As you may or may not know, I don’t pay attention to Spring Training, therefore I don’t post stuff on the blog unless something of interest happens. So, if you’re waiting for new content (trust me, you’re not), then you’ll have to wait a few more weeks until the NL Central previews are ready.

That being said, my brothers have asked that I post something (ANYTHING) just so the picture of sad Johnny Cueto gets bumped down. So, here you go…

JV-Doll

Glad It’s Over

October 3, 2013
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, I was unable to write anything about the Reds’ disastrous showing in the Wild Card game because I was stuck in meetings all day. That sucks for me, but it’s probably best for you, because nothing I would’ve written The Day After would’ve been very nice. Not that what I’m about to write will be nice, but at least it will be nicer-ish.

Let me start off by saying that I didn’t watch the game. Not one second of footage was processed by my eyeballs. Not because I didn’t want to, but by the time I got home from work on Tuesday night the Reds were already down 3-0 and didn’t have a hit. I’ve watched the Reds enough this season to know that I’ve seen this movie before, and I don’t like how it ends.

Is it Dusty Baker’s fault that the Reds lost the Wild Card game? Hard to say, but probably not. Should he lose his job over what happened? I think he should. I’ve never had the problems with Baker that many Reds fans have, but I do understand that at some point someone needs to be held accountable for the results on the field. Teams often need to make a statement to the rest of the team by firing someone in authority:

See, you guys didn’t play well and this guy lost his job because of it.

Every year, coaches in all sports are fired when it clearly “wasn’t their fault.” Coaches and managers don’t go a combined 0-8 with 8 runners left on base as Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips – the “heart” of the Reds — did on Tuesday night. But the Reds can’t fire Votto or Phillips (nor should they).

Coaches and managers don’t completely lose their cool in the 2nd inning of a must-win game and give up two homers as Johnny Cueto did. The Reds can’t fire Cueto, either. So who does that leave? Hitting coach Brook Jacoby? Pitching coach Bryan Price? Have you ever seen a team completely turn things around after getting a new hitting and/or pitching coach? Probably not.

When things aren’t working, changes need to be made. The Reds will not have the services of Shin-Soo Choo next season, nor will Bronson Arroyo be around (probably). I could make a pretty good argument that the Reds don’t even make the playoffs in 2013 were it not for Choo, but that would require me to do some research to back up my claim. No thank you. Billy Hamilton will most likely replace Choo in centerfield. While we all know Hamilton is fast, we don’t know how well he can field or hit on the Major League level. Tony Cingrani will probably take Arroyo’s spot in the rotation, so I’ll consider that a wash/slight improvement.

Joey Votto recently said that he we would rather walk with runners on base than take an out to move/score the runners. I have a number of problems with his “approach,” but now is not the time or place to get into that. Just know that Votto said that if he wanted to hit 10 more home runs a season he could — he just chooses not to. I suppose he also chooses to strikeout a career-high 138 times, as he did in 2013.

For whatever reason, I never grasped onto this team. Despite being virtually identical to the 2012 squad that I loved so much, there was just something about this season’s run that felt “off.” At the beginning of September, when the Reds took 3 of 4 against the Cardinals and then followed that up by sweeping the Dodgers in a 3-game series, I thought the Reds had finally figured it out. And then they went on to lose 4 of 6 to the Cubs and Brewers.

It’s all a moot point, though, because Walt Jocketty has already said that Baker will be back next year. The guy is in the last year of his contract, so if you want Baker gone, you’re going to have to wait for a slow start, or the end of the 2014 season — whichever comes first. Barring a deep run in the playoffs in 2014, Baker is as good as gone after next season, so you/we will all get our wish. 

There are two things that will happen this off-season:

  1. The Reds will stand pat with their “core nucleus of young talent that continues to grow.”
  2. Major changes will be made to the roster and coaching staff.

Of the two options (if there are more, I’d love to hear them), I’m guessing it’s the former,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the Reds’ minor league system lately, but it’s not exactly brimming with talent. There are no quick-fixes, no answers to problems, waiting to be called up. There isn’t even really anyone that could be used as trade bait. Not without including a player(s) from the Major League roster, at least.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, for the first time since the Reds won the division in 2010, my confidence level in this team is fading pretty quickly. Ask me how I feel tomorrow and I might say something different, but right now, the future is not bright enough to necessitate wearing shades.

The Wild Ones

September 24, 2013

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Your Cincinnati Reds clinched a playoff spot last night — and pretty much nobody is jumping up and down about it. But should they be?

If this was 2010, and the Reds’ first playoff appearance since Clinton was President, then I could justify the celebration. This is the third trip to the playoffs in four seasons for the Reds, though, so in a way this is old hat for them. However, after getting swept in the first round of their first visit, and their collapse in the first round of their second visit, this time it’s very much a do-or-die trip. Fail again and jobs will be on the line, changes will be made, players won’t be re-signed and trades will be discussed.

There’s also the fact that the Wild Card only guarantees one game. Jump up once you secure your Wild Card spot and there’s a good chance you’ve been eliminated before your feet touch the ground. If the players want to celebrate after WINNING the Wild Card game, be my guest — they earned it.

It’s a shame how much the Wild Card diminishes the excitement of clinching a playoff spot. When you don’t win the division, it’s easy to look past the fact that the Reds have won 90 games (and counting) this season. Hardly a disappointing season.

The only thing still to be determined is where this Wild Card game will be played. My fingers are crossed for Wrigley Field.

Closer to the Truth and Further from the Sky

September 12, 2013

Crunch

So, here we go.

We’re down to the last 15 games of the regular season and I’ve noticed something interesting: Reds fans aren’t talking about the team’s Magic Number. Probably because the playoffs are a–dare I say it–foregone conclusion for the Reds. It’s not a matter of if they make the playoffs but how.

While I haven’t completely given up hope on the Reds winning the division, with no more head-to-head games against the Cardinals, it’ll be tough. It appears that the Wild Card game (allow me to emphasize that: GAME) is the Reds’ destiny, so now it’s just a matter of where that GAME will be played: Pittsburgh or Cincinnati (or St. Louis, if you want to be difficult).

Do I have a preference? Well, of course I’d prefer that the Reds play the game in Cincinnati, because in a one-game series you never every advantage you can possibly get. Plus, I want the younger fans to experience the complete insanity of a do-or-die game in person as I did in 1999. Despite the fact that Steve Parris threw a turd of a game (damn you, Steve Parris), Marty (or maybe it was Thom, I don’t remember) has said it was the loudest baseball game he’s ever been to, in any ballpark. I won’t argue that.

Whether you’re at the game, or watching it at home, profanities will be flying, spouses will be yelled at, and cats will be thrown out of windows. And you’ll love every minute of it.

Unless the Reds lose, in which case you’ll get to second-guess every single pitch in your head until Opening Day 2014.

NOTE: Please don’t bring cats to Great American Ball Park

The Reds hit a little speed bump with the mighty Cubbies this week, and the Lovable Losers are probably patting themselves on the back right now for playing “spoiler.” The truth is, their next four games are against the Pirates, so if they want to continue to play spoiler in the NL Central, by all means, play spoiler. Because any games the Cubs win over the Pirates can do nothing but benefit the Reds.

Tony Cingrani is having back problems again. It’s obviously Dusty Baker’s fault, because Cingrani is a pitcher. Forget Syria, Dusty Baker is clearly the true threat.

The good thing about September is that the Reds don’t need to put Cingrani on the DL or make a roster move; they can simply wait it out and hope he gets better. And with three off-days remaining this month, it’s possible the Reds could skip his start in the rotation without screwing up the rest of the rotation. In other words, it’s hardly a big deal. Especially with Johnny Cueto (and maybe Sean Marshall) on the verge of returning.

With six games left against the Pirates, the Reds will have no one but themselves to blame if they can’t secure home field advantage for the Wild Card game. No matter what, the last three games of the season–against the Pirates, at Great American Ball Park–should be a lot of fun.

Angry Young Man

August 29, 2013
"I knew I should've brought my toothpick."

“I knew I should’ve brought my toothpick.”

If you haven’t seen, heard or read about Brandon Phillips’ little outburst in the locker room before yesterday’s game yet, let me know so I can call 911 and have them rescue you from the rock you’re trapped under.

Absolutely nobody is asking for my take on the situation, but I’m going to give it to you anyway.

Brandon Phillips is kind of a dick.

There you have it.

You want more? Here it is. I have zero problem with what C. Trent Rosecrans wrote — he simply stated a fact that the new #2 hitter has a lower OBP (by .010 points) than the previous #2 hitter. It wasn’t a criticism of anyone, no names were called out, he was just pointing out an interesting stat. If Phillips found Rosecrans’ tweet to be a personal attack, then deal with the situation privately, not in front a group of reporters, and certainly not by resorting to childish name-calling.

Some people are saying that they like the “fire” that Phillips showed by calling out Rosecrans. If you think that a grown man calling another grown man a “fat motherf*cker” is showing some fire, then I have a pretty good idea of the type of person you were in high school.

People get fired up, they lose their temper, they say things they don’t mean — I get it. Mature people, adults, do not resort to personal attacks and bullying to get their point across. Fortunately, nobody’s ever accused Brandon Phillips of being mature or an adult, so what harm could this possibly have to his reputation?

I have to admit, upon first viewing of the video I had a major problem with the way Dusty reacted. Which is to say that he didn’t react. However, after watching it a few more times, it’s clear that Dusty initially thought Brandon was just being Brandon. Dusty quickly realizes that this is not a joke, but by that point, it was too late for him to step in. You can literally see the smile fall from Dusty’s face and see him become really uncomfortable by the end. Should he have said something? Probably.

Nobody will care about this a week from now, but today it’s a black eye on the Reds. Mostly Brandon Phillips, though. I’m used to seeing crap like this happen with the Bengals and it’s embarrassing, so let’s hope this was an isolated innocent on the way to what we all hope is a division title and a long playoff run.

In lighter news, the Reds somehow managed to avoid laying a complete egg against the Cardinals by beating — no, humiliating — Adam Wainwright. So it’s not all bad.

Math and Other Problems

August 20, 2013
"Honey, the Pirates are playing on the west coast, so I can't sleep until the game goes final."

“Honey, the Pirates are playing on the west coast, so I can’t sleep until the game goes final.”

How close is the National League Central pennant race? It’s August 20 and every night I’m checking the Reds’ score (obviously), the Cardinals score and the Pirates score. A ritual typically reserved for mid- to late-September. It’s exhausting, but it beats the hell out of focusing all of my attention on September call-ups, which is the only thing most teams have to look forward to right now.

I’ve endured my fair share of frustrating Reds seasons, but most of those were because they just weren’t a good team. It’s easy to forget how good this team is because they are in 3rd place (and because they usually don’t hit). But if you put the current Reds team in any other division today, they’d be just as far back as they are in the NL Central — if not closer to the top. The lone exception being the NL East, but the Braves needed a 14-game win-streak to get where they are today.

If you think things are bad now, just wait until August 26. Starting on that day–and going until September 8–the Reds will play the Cardinals seven (7) times, and the Rockies and Dodgers three times a piece.

There’s about to be a huge outbreak of heartburn in Reds Country, and it will have nothing to do with Skyline Chili.

Okay, maybe Skyline will have something to do with it.

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