Monthly Archives: August 2007

August 28, 2007

Bad News/Good News On the Reds’ Chances

There's a lot being written these days on the fact that the Reds are only 6-1/2 games out in the division, and speculating on their chances of catching the Cubs/Brewers/Cardinals and capturing the weak NL Central.

Let's face a fact here. This is a team with a starting rotation of Harang, Arroyo, TBA, TBA, and maybe - with an outside chance as the fifth starter - TBA. So we aren't looking at a team like San Diego that has solid pitching and wondering if it has enough offense to catch the D-Backs and hold off the Dodgers and Rockies in the NL West. No, we're looking at a team with Harang, Arroyo, and the Louisville Bats and wondering if they have enough offense to overcome that and make a Cinderella run in a weak division.

That's the BAD NEWS. The GOOD NEWS is that sometimes, this does happen in baseball. In 1978 the Yankees were 14 games behind on July 20 and won the division. In 1995 the Mariners were 13 games behind on August 3 and won the division. In 1973 the Reds were 11 games behind on June 30 and won the division. Every once in a while it just seems like the baseball gods get up one morning and decide to sprinkle some team with fairy dust.

In 2007, the Reds are 6-1/2 games behind. When Pete took over, they were 20 games under .500 and it's taken them two months to get to where they're now only 10 games under .500. For the Reds to win the division, the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals have to not just play .500 ball during September, they have to basically have the wheels come off in order for the Reds to have a shot.

That, again, is the BAD NEWS. The corresponding GOOD NEWS is, that's not out of the realm of possibility, especially if there's a team involved that the baseball gods have sprinkled with fairy dust. Cinderella teams always seem to have things like that go their way. And the Reds do have six games left against each of those three teams…but the thing is that if you play a division opponent and go 2-1 in a series, you only pick up one game in the standings, so the Reds need to come up with series sweeps against these guys.

BAD NEWS: The Reds have only swept four series all season.

GOOD NEWS: All of them have been under Pete.

A look at the Reds' remaining schedule for the regular season reveals:

BAD NEWS: The Reds have a three-game series in GABP against the Mets, against whom they lost 3 of 4 last time the two teams met (pun intended), although that was in New York.

GOOD NEWS: They have a four-game series against the Giants (who suck), a three-game series against the Astros (who suck, and who threw in the towel yesterday, firing not only their manager but the GM as well. Coincidence? Or a move orchestrated by the baseball gods to insure that their fairy dust wasn't going to go to waste?), and of course, four games these next three days against perennial NL Central power Pittsburgh. So, the toughest series to win might be the Mets, and other than that, each remaining series provides the Reds with an opportunity to either gain ground on a divisional opponent who is ahead of them in the standings, or fatten up against a losing team.

It's a tough row to hoe, but who knows? If the baseball gods recently watched a rerun of Cinderella, had an overabundance of fairy dust on hand, and spilled a few tons of it on the Reds, we might be seeing one of the greatest Cinderella stories in baseball history shaping up right now. After all…the team that won this “weak” division last year also went on to win the World Series.

We'll know in a week or two. If the Reds get through this week with their current position intact, and then sweep the Mets at GABP Sept. 3-5, look out for these guys.


August 27, 2007

Astros Fire Manager, GM

Holy crap, did you guys know that the Astros fired their manager and GM today? Thanks to Lambo for the tip.

And BTW, while I was digging up the press release, I saw that Houston has already retired Jeff Bagwell's number. Jeepers, the Reds just got around to Concepción!

Anyway, here's the scoop. Not sure I'm seeing the point with a month to go in the season, but whatever:

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros announced today that the club has replaced manager Phil Garner and General Manager Tim Purpura, effective immediately. Astros bench coach Cecil Cooper will serve as interim manager and Astros President of Baseball Operations Tal Smith will serve as interim general manager for the remainder of the 2007 season. The announcements were made by Astros Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Drayton McLane.

The manager position will be evaluated at the end of the season, while a search for a new general manager will begin immediately. Both Garner and Purpura's contracts, each of which run through the 2008 season, will be honored fully.

“I feel it was time for the Houston Astros to embark upon a new direction,” said McLane. “The bar and standards have been raised in Houston, and our great city is now a baseball town. With that status comes high expectations from our fans, and I felt a change was necessary to get our organization back on track toward our mission, which is to be a World Series champion.”

The 57-year-old Cooper is in his third season as the Astros bench coach, and he is the 16th manager in Astros history (including Salty Parker, who was 1-0 as interim manager in 1972). During his career in baseball, Cooper has been an All-Star player as well as a minor league manager, coach, player development director, and player agent. He previously served as the bench coach for Milwaukee in 2002 and spent both 2003 and 2004 as the manager of the Triple A Indianapolis club in the Brewers organization.

Cooper was named to five All-Star teams as a player and hit .298 (2192×7349) with 241 home runs and 1125 RBI in 1896 career Major League games with Boston (1971-76) and Milwaukee (1977-87). He earned two Rawlings Gold Glove Awards at first base (1979, 80) and helped lead two clubs to the World Series (1975 Boston, 1982 Milwaukee).

The 2007 season is Smith's 50th in the game of baseball. He started his baseball career in the Cincinnati Reds farm department in 1958 and came to Houston in 1960 when he was named assistant to general manager Gabe Paul for the new National League expansion franchise that would become the Colt .45's. He was named farm director for the Colt .45's in 1961, assistant to the president of the Houston Sports Association in 1963, and vice president and director of player personnel for the Astros in 1965, a position he held for eight seasons.

In 1973, Smith left the Astros to become the executive vice president of the New York Yankees, serving in that capacity until his return to Houston as general manager of the Astros in August 1975. He was named president of the club in 1976, serving in that capacity until 1980. The primary architect of the 1980 NL West

Division Champion, the first division title-winning team in franchise history, Smith returned to the organization on Nov. 22, 1994, when he was named president of the team once again. Since 1981, he has also been the owner and operator of Tal Smith Enterprises, a firm which has provided consulting services to 26 of the 30 Major League clubs, with particular emphasis on the preparation of arbitration cases, and operational reviews.

In 1999, Smith was chosen by Baseball America as one of 25 panelists to provide an overview of baseball in the 20th century, and the publication also recognized him for his career of achievements and innovations in December of 2005 with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Garner, 57, led the club to a 277-252-1 (.524) record as the Astros manager from July 16, 2004 through August 26, 2007. In 15 seasons as a Major League manager, Garner owns a 985-1,054 record (.483). His teams advanced to the postseason twice during his tenure as Astros manager, including an NLCS appearance in 2004 and the first World Series team in franchise history in 2005. Garner also played in the Majors for 16 seasons, including seven with Houston from 1981-87.

Purpura was the 10th general manager in franchise history and spent 14 years with the Astros organization. He joined the team in 1994 as assistant director of minor league operations and director of player relations. From Oct. 24, 1997 until being named general manager on Nov. 1, 2004, Purpura was the assistant general manager and the director of player development, directing the operation of the club's player development system and its six minor league affiliates.

August 27, 2007

A Guy Named Pete (Not Named Rose)

August 26, 2007

Game 130: Marlins 3, Reds 9

The Reds kicked some ass and continued their winning streak tonight. Their sixth consecutive win came over the Marlins, 3-9.

Tom Shearn got his major league debut with the start today. He went seven innings, allowing three runs (earned) on four hits and two walks. One starts and one win: that's getting off on the right foot.

Gary Majewski took over in the eighth, giving up zero runs on one hit. He even struck a guy out. The other Trade guy, Bill Bray, finished out the game, giving up zero runs on zero hits and a walk. And he struck out two. What the heck is up with all this competent relief pitching? It's like I don't even recognize my own team anymore.

Ryan Jorgensen, the lucky recipient of the backup pitcher spot since Javier Valentí was the lucky recipient of the starting spot since David Ross was the not-so-lucky guys to go on the DL, started today. Jogensen's start didn't just spell the LLM, but also took advantage of the fact that's he's been Shearn's regular catcher in Louisville. Convenient. Even more convenient: the grand slam he hit in the first inning. Yippee!

Brandon Phillips had a homer in the second inning, a two-run dealy to bring the Reds' lead to eight. Edwin Encarnación took his turn in the third inning, a solo shot that brought the score to where it would stay for the rest of the game 9-3.

The win brought the Reds record to 60-70. Not an awesome record overall, but they're the hottest team in the baseball at the moment. It's awesomely fun to watch, and I hate that they have another day off tomorrow. How many freaking Mondays will this team take off this month??

But when they get back to it on Tuesday, they're scheduled to play two against the Pirates. Why they aren't making up the game tomorrow instead, I don't know, but the Lizard versus Tom Gorzelanny for one of those two.

August 26, 2007

Ohio Sports Time

The Reds are among the several Ohio sports teams discussed on Ohio Sports Time, a blog that also features quite narrow columns. Very convenient for your feeling of accomplishment over the number of inches you read about area sports.