In theory, I agree totally with what Dusty Baker is trying to do. He’s been around the block once and twice and knows he has to keep everyone of the 25 players on the Reds roster sharp and ready, just in case. But Monday, Baker appeared to get ahead of that curve a bit too much.
Against the Pirates, a team that the Reds should beat just about every night (if you don’t believe that, look at the talent up and down each roster) Baker elected to sit Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier and instead started Wilson Valdes, hitting .195 at the time and Miguel Cairo, who entered Monday hitting just .143. Defensively, neither has what would be described as expansive range. Mix in the pitcher (Arroyo), and in essence Baker put his team at a severe offensive disadvantage, all in the spirit of trying to keep players sharp for later in the season. OK, but why do that at two positions? Why not spot start Valdes (Cairo started Saturday night against the Rockies) and save Cairo for another day? And worse, why bat Valdes second? Isn’t the game plan to get runners on base so Joey Votto has runners to drive in? What we got was Drew Stubbs leading off (haven’t we been down that road enough to know it leads nowhere) a strike out machine and then Valdes. Not suprisingly, Stubbs was 0-4 and Valdes and Cairo were a combined 1-8.
Here’s why this wasn’t such a good idea: you HAVE to win series against teams you’re better than. Period. Coming up soon will be a couple of series against the Indians and the Tigers. Down the road, the Reds have home and road series against the Dodgers and still have road trips to San Francisco and Philadelphia. If you don’t think one game can make or break a season, then you obviously don’t remember 1999
Chances are, this was just a bad idea that didn’t work out all that well. But for a team that has done well with a precarious balance of shaky starting pitching for the first month of this season and coupled it with an alarm inability to drive in runners in scoring position, it can’t take many more adventures like the one Baker gave us Monday in Pittsburgh.
I raised this question Saturday on 700 WLW and the reaction ranged from “why are you worried about this now” to “it will not be a problem” The question was: since Walt Jocketty confirmed late last week that Aroldis Chapman will not start any games the rest of this season, where do the Reds turn if they need a pitcher for their starting rotation. Know this: few, if any, teams get through an entire season with just five starting pitchers.
The easy answer would be simply plug in Sam LeCure, who has started before. But LeCure has been pitching out of the bullpen this season, usually just an inning or two at a time and infrequently at that. How realistic do you think it will be to expect him to make an emergency start and go five innings? And then, how realistic do you think it would be for him to come back from that and pitch again in five days?
Trade for a starter? With what? Have you seen the Reds farm system? Louisville has been decimated with injuries. Pensacola has some talent, as does Bakersfield. But some of those players, like Billy Hamilton and Daniel Corcino (and you’d have to part with players like that to get a decent major league starter in return) are now the ‘crown jewels’ of that Reds minor league system.
Call Ups? The logical option there would be former major leaguer, Jeff Francis. But Francis has hardly been blowing through AAA line ups, and until May 24th had an less than spectacular month. He was rocked again today for eight hits and four runs in 6.2 innings of work. No pitcher in AA appears close to major league ready. The most likely candidate to come to Cincinnati, if needed is….drum roll please…..Brett Tomko! Yes, the same Brett Tomko who, on a wintry February night in 2000, was part of a trade that brought Ken Griffey, Junior to the Reds. Now 39, Tomko was a spring training invitee who pitched well enough to earn a spot on the Louisville Bats roster. He’s currently 0-5, but has been the victim of poor run support. His 3.18 ERA is workable. And he’s gone at least six innings in five of his last six starts. Tell me that wouldn’t be a blast from the past for a number of reasons, if Tomko eventually pitches for the Reds again.
OK, this isn’t as random as you think
70 years ago today, Bing Crosby recorded this song. He went into a studio in Los Angeles with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and recorded the song in just 16 minutes. It isn’t odd, by the way, for Christmas music to be recorded in spring or summer. It all depends on artist, orchestra and studio availability. This version of White Christmas has sold over 50 million copies world wide making it the best selling single record in history. Crosby had sung this on live radio, but had not recorded it until 70 years ago today. It was released several weeks later with other songs from the movie “Holiday Inn”, which is where the song made its debut. The writer was none other than Irving Berlin. By the way, just 210 shopping days left until Christmas, 2012.