Sunday, March 14, 2010

Observations for 3.14

Aaron Harang pitched well

Aaron Harang put in a solid day's work, shutting down the Cleveland Indians over 4.1 innings in a "B" game this morning at the Reds #1 practice field. Facing a lineup comprised primarily of second and third-tier hitter, Harang allowed a hit and a couple of walks, but gave up no runs.

Travis Hafner swears more loudly than he hits

Travis Hafner, the Indians' DH was the only starter for the Tribe who played in this game. He struck out looking in his first AB. His second AB came with a runner at first. When Hafner weakly grounded into a fielder's choice, he let his displeasure by known by yelling an expletive so that all in attendance could hear it.

Eric Davis and Ozzie Guillen are good friends

Before the Reds' game against the White Sox, Reds Hall of Famer, Eric Davis greeted Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen near home plate with a huge hug. It turns out they were teammates for a brief period of time on the Baltimore Orioles in 1998.

It's worth remembering the year that Davis had in 1987. He had 37 home runs, 50 stolen bases, 100 RBI and a .399 OBP. He also won a Gold Glove for his defense that year. 1986 wasn't too shabby for Davis, either. In only 415 AB he hit 27 HR an stole 80 bases. Ozzie Guillen as well won a Gold Glove for shortstop in 1990.

There was a Drew Sutton sighting

Drew Sutton, who presumably is competing for a roster spot on the Reds has managed only 7 AB prior to today, when he was a 6th inning substitution at 3B for Scott Rolen. Sutton lined a sharp single to centerfield and stole 2B on the first pitch. I've read reports that Sutton has regained quite a bit of weight that he lost due to illness last year. It certainly appears that way in person.

The Reds can play defense, too

There were a few noteworthy defensive plays by the Reds today. Joey Votto stole a certain single from Omar Vizquel by diving to his right to snare a line drive headed into right field. His catch enabled him to double White Sox runner Alexei Ramirez off of 1B.

Chris Dickerson flashed his powerful and accurate arm late in the game when he threw a bullet to home plate on a fly. The White Sox wisely decided to hold their runner at 3B. Dickerson's throw was so impressive it drew a large applause despite not recording an out.

Finally, Johnny Gomes made a nice play on a fly ball hit to deep left centerfield.

The top of our order is impatient

If Dusty Baker continues to bat Drew Stubbs first and Orlando Cabrera second, the Reds will be last in the league in the number of pitches seen in those two batting order spots. Neither Stubbs nor Cabrera walk very often. Today they both swung at the first pitch more often than not. As I've said before, the Reds would be better served if Chris Dickerson and Scott Rolen batted #1 and #2 respectively, as both draw walks at a high rate.

This has been a perpetual blind spot for Baker's lineups while in Cincinnati - see Corey Patterson and Willy Taveras. Orlando Cabrera's career OBP is within .001 of the career OBP for Taveras. The result is fewer runners on base for Votto, Phillips, Rolen and Bruce.

It's fitting that among the reams of information provided in the 447-page Reds 2010 Media Guide, including dozens of statistics about each player, you will not find their On Base Percentage anywhere. That's Dark Ages stuff.

Matt Maloney can fool baserunners

Twice in three innings, Reds LHP Matt Maloney helped his own cause by picking off Chicago runners at first base.

Omar Vizquel plays 3B now, not SS

11-time Gold Glove winner, Omar Vizquel, is now trying to make the White Sox. A career shortstop, Vizquel is now playing 3B for Chicago. He won 9 consecutive defensive awards for the Mariners and Indians, a streak that was broken in 2002 by Alex Rodriguez (who also now plays third base).

Brandon Phillips can mash

In the 7th inning, designated hitter Brandon Phillips blasted a deep home run off of White Sox reliever and former University of Michigan pitcher, J. J. Putz. The ball was hit to dead centerfield and struck the wall about 20 feet up the green batter's eye, above the yellow home run line. Here he is touching home after his bomb.

Aaron Miles on the other hand ...

Aaron Miles, who came to the Reds in the "bad contracts swap" with the A's -- the Reds sending Willy Taveras and Adam Rosales to Oakland -- is trying to make the team as a utility player. He looked solid in the field at 2B today, but he didn't do much at the plate to help himself today.

It's hard to believe that Miles helps the Reds overall more than Paul Janish and Drew Sutton, the two most likely competitors for the two IF roster backup slots. I guess it would be cliché to say that there are 2.1 million reasons why he'll make the team. Miles is also lucky that he's a favorite of Reds GM Walt Jocketty, having played 2B for Jocketty's World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.

We need more of this from Jay Bruce

Last season, Jay Bruce at the plate was pretty much all-or-nothing. He either hit a home run (28) or made an out (OBP=.303). In his second AB today, with Joey Votto in scoring position and two outs, Bruce calmly lined a pitch from John Danks into right field for a base hit, scoring Votto.


The Reds play the Oakland A's at Goodyear Ballpark at 1 PM.

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