Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wait 'til Next Year

Hey Folks-
Welcome to "Thporths Thurthdayths"

I'm really not sure how to out and say this, so I'll just do it....

I hate Adam Dunn.

I know it's irrational, but I hate him. I think he's overrated. He's lazy. He's attrocious in the field. The worst base runner on the Reds. A clubhouse cancer. Oh.. I know he's loved by teammates, but he's also the worst possible role model for any young, promising player. Just ask his best friend Austin Kearns.

I know he's productive (mostly) at the plate. I know he walks a lot and scores runs. I get that. I don't care.

We're free. The great city-wide nightmare is over. And now... much as the citizens of San Francisco had to figure out how to rebuild after the earthquake, we as a city, as a baseball team have to figure out how to rebuild after Adam. For once, though, we have reason for hope.

Well, I am but a humble fan, but here are my suggestions...

-- As of Sunday evening, when the season ends, there are no guaranteed jobs for next year. None. I'm sure that Bronson Arroyo has a gig to get to somewhere in his beloved Boston, but he's gonna have to show up next Spring pitching like he has for the past 2 months. He's clearly a capable pitcher, but I question his desire to be here, and I don't want that on my team. Players should want to be here. Should TRY every time they go on the field. They have to know they're ALL replaceable.

What did playing the old, comfortable stand-bys get us? ZERO winning seasons since 2000. Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the greatest players ever, and I do think that it means something that he took less money to play here... well...that favor didn't matter once he stopped being a contributer (about... well... was he ever really?) Adam Dunn? Same thing... I have always driven Alan crazy about Dunn, because he insists that he's exactly what should be expected of him. That's fine and well and great, but I really think there's something about him that is a vacuum of desire. I recall, a couple of years ago, when Homer Bailey was still in low A ball, and Alan said he worried about Bailey because Homer said he'd rather go fishing than play baseball. I used to disagree that this was a problem. “A job is a job” I said. If you did your job, who cares if it's your passion... Well... I was wrong. Baseball is a mental game. Just ask Ted Williams. When a pitcher who doesn't care faces a batter who wants nothing more on Earth than to crack one up the middle... who's got a better chance in this game of millimeters? More than every strikeout drove me insane. More than every botched fly ball made me irate... The thing I hated most about Adam Dunn was that he knew he was safe and had a job every day no matter how he played, and he played just like that.

-- Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Phillips... These guys are the future. Let them play evey day. Let them work out their kinks. Let them go through their growing pains. Let them bond through their shared traumas. Look at the Tampa Bay Rays. They lost 96 games last year, but they sent the same young team out there every day to take their lumps. This year, they're playoff bound. They're exciting. The 2003 Marlins were the same way. The 2002 Angels.

The best Reds team of the past 10 years was exactly the type of mix I'm looking for... A lot of young, hungry guys with talent (Aaron Boone, Sean Casey, Pokey Reese, Mike Cameron) mixed with a few strong veteran leaders (Barry Larkin, Greg Vaughn). I'm convinced that it's the only mix that can work for a team with a limited budget. The Yankees can afford to pick off all star players from other teams. The Mets will make at least one big free agent signing every year. The Reds can't. They need a little creativity, and I honestly believe that now that Griffey and Dunn are gone we've got a chance to see what can happen.

-- They may not be able to do it every year, but the Reds do need to get one big, really good free agent. If I had my way, it'd be either a shortstop or a third baseman. Sadly, it looks like both positions are pretty light this year coming up. The only guys I'd consider picking up at either position are David Eckstein (The lead-off guy we need) or Casey Blake... not really an improvement over Edwin (though... ideally, Edwin moves to first.) The other position we need is starting pitcher. I don't think the Reds have enough clout to pull a #1, but maaayyybe Ben Sheets could be affordable because of his injury history. I know it's a risk. Sabathia is out. Maybe bring back Dempster. I dunno...

The point is... the fans need a reason to be fired up from the start. The energy is always electric for opening day, but there's often a let down afterward, because...well... what's the point if there's no one new? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So... give us something new to look for.

Here's my ideal starting Lineup for opening day 2009

1) CF- Chris Dickerson. I like him. He's not going to be as great as he's been since they brought him up, but he's the fastest guy on the team. He doesn't swing at the first pitch. He gets on base. The closest thing we may have to a lead-off least for now.

2) 2B- Jerry Hairston Jr.. I'm not convinced that he's durable enough to be here permanently, but he's proven to be a spark plug for this team. He gives effort like Ryan Freel. Unlike Ryan Freel, he's got actual ability to back it up.

3) RF- Jay Bruce. The guy is the logical choice for the glamor spot in the order. He's the new star.

4) 1B- Edwin Encarnacion. Has 35 homer power. Has never consistently had men on base in front of him. I am convinced that he's the biggest head case on the team, and by moving him to first will greatly reduce that inevitable connection between his mental errors in the field psyching him out at the plate.

5) LF- Joey Votto. Yep. I moved Joey to left. In this spot in the order he protects Edwin. He hits for average. He's got experience playing the outfield from the minors. He's quickly becoming my favorite Red.

6) SS- Brandon Phillips. He's bound to have some struggles at the plate as he adjusts to playing shortstop again. That's okay... He's going to win his first Gold Glove at 2nd this year. It'll look great next to his 5 or so from Short that he'll have when he retires. Plus, with Joey Votto and Edwin hitting doubles left and right in front of him, Phillips may not try to do as much as he does hitting in the 4 spot. He can be a consistent 25/30 guy.

7) 3B- Casey Blake? A good fit for this team's new profile, and maybe the best 7 hitter in the NL.

8) C- Ryan Hannigan. A space-filler for 2 more years while Devin Meseoraco works his way up. I'm okay with that. I like Hannigan well enough.

9) SP: Edinson Volquez. Don't get me wrong, I like Aaron Harang, and I don't think his issues this year have all been his. He's consistently the most tough-luck pitcher on the team. Still..he's getting older and Volquez has earned his stature as the number one. I'm all for giving him the ball on opening day.

So... hopefully things this past month have been a harbinger and not a mirage. I like the Reds right now. I'll always love them, but it's been a while since I've liked them. Even Dusty isn't bugging me right now.

Wait til next year.


djphob said...

Ok, you've got Dickerson, Hairston, Bruce... So far so good. Bruce is great, he really gets the crowd going and he's had a solid performance. (Although the chanting of "Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu(ce)" reminds me of something... I can't figure out what team it was but they used to chant the guy's name and it also sounded like boo-ing. I wanna say it was the '06 Pirates... Hmm...)

Edwin on first and Votto in left field? Are you kidding? I am quite convinced Joey's the next Ted Kluszewski. Would you move HIM to left field? And as for Edwin, he's good but they've got to take him out when he's not hot. Because when he's not, he's reeeally not (20-something errors... eesh). He's just not consistent. Its a tough call with him. I'm not sure what I'd do.

Actually, I like Philips at 2B. I might move Edwin to SS and Hairston to 3B. Hmm. Yes.

You seem to have forgotten a little star I like to call Javier Valentin. He's my catcher. No diggity no doubt.

I think Volquez is great, but Harang gets SP. Don't get crazy, here.

Hmm... I'm getting an odd sense of deja vu... OH YEAH! I remember. Last year! When they brought in a bunch of new guys and we said, "NEXT YEAR! THAT'S THE YEAR!" Let's face it, next year is going to be more hammering out the kinks in this team. Dusty Baker is terrible for our team. This group needs to be wearing out pitchers and worrying about getting on base, not hitting it out of the park. You KNOW I'm extremely pleased with Dunn and Griffey out of my life, but without Dusty out too, we ain't winnin' shit. Well, games. But, yeah, not the division.

I do have a master plan... Pick up and move the whole city and the team to the West. Its our only shot.

Beefy Muchacho said...

First, thank you for commenting.

Second, here's my reasoning on Votto to Left and Edwin to 1st.
Votto, as opposed to Big Klu, is a smallish, very athletic player with speed and a good arm. He played as much left in the minors as he did 1st. He's versatile enough to play more than 1st

Edwin needs to mvoe because he's fielding is...bad, which is why your notion of moving him the the MORE difficult position at shortstop is literal insanity. You admit he's error-prone, but you want him playing a more demanding position. The best fielder is always the shortstop, which is why Phillips can move there without problem. (In fact, that's his natural position.)

Hairston doesn't have the arm for 3rd, and he's played more games in the majors at 2nd than any other position.

You're right about Edwin needing rests when he's cold, but I do think that his confidence will stay higher while playing a less demanding position in the field.

And no... I'm not forgetting about Javy, but he's not an every day catcher. I'd be more inclined to platoon him and Edwin at first (which is even more natural considering Edwin is a righty, and Javy, while a switch-hitter, has way more power from the left side.)

You're not wrong that Aaron Harang is still the #1 pitcher, but you give the start on opening day as a reward for the previous season. Aaron's been... not good.

And Dusty.. I don't disagree with you that he's the wrong guy. I think he's the wrong guy. I don't think the problems are his though, in this case.

djphob said...

Joey Votto is what I say he is! I just saw Klu on What's My Line? the other day and trust me. If What's My Line? was still on and they had the Reds on again, the similarities would be striking. Then you'd see. Then you'd ALL SEE. And I put Edwin on SS because he's a fantastic fielder when he's hot. He can handle a tougher position, just not as an everyday guy. We need someone else to switch off and whoevers playing better, plays more. This team is responding really well to having to work to play, keep it roooollin. And if you expect me to make full sense, you must've forgotten who you were talking to. Its my trademark!

But the last thing you want to do is make Harang feel BAD. Volquez is great, he probably deserves the reward, but its not a blow to him to give it to Harang. That would feel like a giant middle finger right in his face to me.

You've failed to address your feelings on the ballboy situation. While I think Adam is more than adequate, he's never thrown me a ball, and that is unacceptable. I like Dustin in the batboy position... I think they should bring up the ballboy from the minors, he's done some really impressive things this season.

You "don't disagree" about Dusty? Can't you just SAY you agree with me? Would your head implode? Hee.

Beefy Muchacho said...

My lord...
The problem with Edwin isn't really his fielding, as much as it's his throwing, and the Shortstop throw is longer, and there are more things for him to deal with (double plays would be an adventure for sure).

I don't at all follow your Votto/Klu argument... it makes no sense, and you're bringing up game shows. Trust me when I say, Votto in left will give us a better lineup at the plate AND in the field, though I'm convinced that you could unbury Klu's remains and put him in left and he'd be as good as Dunn was.

As for the ball boy situation... Dustin always made me feel weird, and he fucked up on the long-toss a little too much. The new kid "Adam" looks like some sort of claymation figure. That's all that I think about him.

Aaron Harang has started the last 3 opening days and hasn't pitched well in any of them. He should have to prove himself on the field just as much as Edwin.

djphob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
djphob said...

Don't you miss it though? When a ball goes into left and bounces and then gets caught... Don't you miss watching him slowly run in the direction of the ball only to have it change directions on a bounce right as he gets to it and then he'd frantically trot in the complete other direction and then once he HAD the ball he'd whip around to throw it only to see that the entire ballpark was empty and the game had been over for three hours?

Really? I think he looks like Aladdin but mom calls him Geronimo. He's the... oh crap... the... playhouse manager's kid or something to that effect. Dad knows all about him. I just don't feel the love from him. Maybe Dustin warned him to keep off of his Koolaid. Aw.

The year before last was a pretty good opening day, iirc. We won and it was a beautiful day so Harang did fine, duh.

We'll just see who's right Opening Day!