There are times during Reds TV broadcasts when one just shakes his head and thinks, “Goddammit George Grande, the world ain’t all that great.” And there are times when you might say, “Welshy, I really miss your mustache and I think it's funny how uncomfortable George Grande makes you.” And then there are times when Jeff Brantley talks about himself, and all you can do is laugh out loud.
Dear Cincinnati Reds:
I recently attended a baseball game between the Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ballpark. I don’t usually go to your stadium to watch the games live because walking across Fort Washington Way and looking at the Pepsi Smokestacks in the outfield kind of make me hate being there. I don’t mind the Mountain Dew bottles racing each other on the scoreboard or how Mr. Red always loses the Skyline Chili race because he is too tempted by a 3-Way to finish the competition. That guy’s lack of dedication kills me every time.
The graphic featured a photo of Reds centerfielder Drew Stubbs sitting on the ground, a grimace overtaking his face after apparently being thrown out while trying to steal second base; a table of stats that included the offensive numbers of strikeout-prone hitters Stubbs, former Red Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds, Ryan Howard and Jack Cust; and a paragraph across the bottom of the graphic entitled “One of These Players Is Not Like the Others.”
How much sense would it make? How stupid does it sound, my loyal readers?
To give in to Manny Ramirez's not-so-secret desire to get a four-year deal and bring the best hair in baseball (along with a lethal bat) to town would buck conventional thinking and the status quo of a team focused on cultivating talent and watching it develop. It would also be a lot of fun and would turn GABP into a way more lively environment than it has been of late.
Thinking it over, Manny probably wouldn't be too stoked on coming to Cincinnati once he realized that the number of decent sushi places can be counted on the fingers of one hand. His casual, laid back demeanor may or may not encourage the core of the Reds team to approach the game with the true sense of urgency that is necessary to win consistently at the Major League level. Maybe Manny and the Dodgers smooth things out, and their Hollywood relationship splashes across the front page of newspapers out there for the next few years.
Last night I was watching the last couple innings of the Reds game and this Reds coach popped up on the screen with dark Batman-looking eyes and a very well-defined face and I was like, “Who the fuck is that dude?”
It's Hot Stove time, and the Reds have already exchanged Ryan Freel for Ramon Hernandez, a move I like. Other than that, the Reds seem content to let things play themselves out.
Cincinnati never made overtures to the Manny/Sabathia/Texiera-level free agents, which is a good thing. Ownership seems to think the Reds are a few moves (and more game experience) away from being a contender in the aging NL Central. Something tells me that most of the teams angling for the big-money free agents are going to be disappointed. Maybe not Barry Zito-level disappointment, but not happy either.
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With Opening Day fast approaching, you now have 225 million reasons to go watch the Reds this year. Bob Castellini opened up the checkbook and Walt Jocketty busted out his best persuasive vocabulary and Joey Votto accepted; to the tune of a 10-year, $225 million contract extension — the fourth largest in major league history.
Reds ownership — unlike our dear friend, Mike Brown — has embraced the recent successes of their young nucleus of talented players and has spared no expense to keep the "Little Big Red Machine" well-oiled. Votto joins fellow all-star Jay Bruce, who signed a six-year, $51 million deal after the 2010 season. It’s nice to see a professional sports owner in Cincinnati who actually loves the sport and is in it for the right reasons.
The Reds will have plenty of offensive talent this year, something that really has not been a problem over the past couple of seasons. Any lingering doubt has to relate to the recent injuries that have plagued the bullpen. Ryan Madson is out for the year after Tommy John surgery while Nick Masset will start the season on the DL with shoulder cuff inflammation. This means that Aroldis Chapman will start in the bullpen even though most Reds fans — and manager, Dusty Baker — know his services would be better used as a starter. Sean Marshall will step in to the closer role until the Reds have more depth in the bullpen; he isn’t a bad option and has consistently kept a low ERA in a relief role.
One thing hasn’t changed, the Reds still play in Great American Ballpark and they have an abundance of young, strong bats in the lineup. Between Votto, Bruce, Todd Frazier and Chris Heisey, expect the Reds to be amongst the league-leaders in home runs. Drew Stubbs will hit some too, but if he could take a little constructive criticism to heart: Please, learn to bunt. This will be a key in the Reds venture for success this year.
If Stubbs can get on base, he is going to steal — there are very few players in the majors that have his kind of speed. If the bats behind Stubbs perform up to expectations, the Reds will score more than enough runs to support the pitching staff. And the single most important key to success this year is battling through injuries; if the young guys can step in and compete there is no reason the Reds won’t win the division — after all, we do have the best first baseman, if not player, in the National League.
The Reds will open their season against the Miami Marlins at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday following the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. For more celebration of Opening Day, check out C. Trent Rosecrans' column from this week's CityBeat here.