Daily Archives: June 17, 2006

June 17, 2006

Mismanagement, Bullpen Woes, and Dunn Vie for Attention

CINCINNATI, OH -- Continuing a string of questionable managing decisions tonight, Jerry Narron pinch hit for Felipe Lopez in the bottom of the ninth inning with Juan Castro.

“I don't understand why everyone's so upset,” said Narron. “He's a late-inning replacement, right?” said Narron.

The Reds acquired Castro from the Minnesota Twins on Thursday for minor leaguer Brandon Roberts.

“I wanted to use [Quinton] McCracken, but he'd already struck out,” explained Narron.

Bullpen to the DL
Taking a cue from struggling starter Brandon Claussen, the entire bullpen has begun complaining of shoulder soreness. They've all been diagnosed with rotator cuff inflammation and will go on the 15-day DL.

“They've been hurt all along,” said Head Trainer Mark Mann, “they were just trying to stick it out for the good of the team.”

In their places will come up Brian Shackelford, Jason Standridge, Ryan Wagner, Jake Robbins, and Michael Gosling.

“Maybe they'll make us appreciate Rick White,” said Mann.

Dunn Steals the Show
Adam Dunn jumped up and down flailing his arms and spouting stupid jokes earlier today when something happened that would have put an uncomfortable amount of media attention on Ken Griffey, Jr. The event that would have caused the attention was immediately forgotten as the press crowded around to report on Dunn's antics.

It's a skill Dunn has honed to perfection. Recently he drew attention from Griffey's response to a comment by Eric Davis that Griffey should move to a corner field position. Dunn implied that he didn't know who Davis was and distracted the media, allowing Griffey to go on pretending the comment had never happened.

“I'll want him around next time I make a pitching change,” said Narron of Dunn.

June 17, 2006

The Changing Of The Guard In The National League

I wish I could cue up some nice background music for you listen to while you read this. Bob Dylan's “The Times They Are A Changin'” would be perfect.

You see, those tired, old “It's only April” or “It's only May” excuses won't fly any more. We're about to start the third full week of June. More than a third of the season is already in the history books. The all-star voting is in full swing. There's little doubt anymore that we're witnessing a changing of the guard in the National League.

Check the standings in the NL East and what do you see? The Braves have had a stranglehold on that division for over a decade, but there they are just a single game ahead of the last-place Marlins, while the Mets hold a 9-1/2 game lead over the Phillies.

That's not all: At one point last year the Padres (who eventually won the NL West) were leading their division despite having a losing record. Check the standings today. Every team in the NL West is above .500 with just two games separating the division leading Dodgers from the cellar-dwellers, Colorado and the Giants.

In the NL Central, the Cardinals have shown that they're more than just Albert Pujols by holding the lead in the division for most of the time Pujols has spent on the DL. But look at the other teams in the division.

The Cubs, who early this season entertained hopes of ending their streak of not having played in a World Series since 1945, are instead just a game ahead of the Pirates, barely out of the basement. The Astros, the wild card team two years running and last year's NL representative to the Fall Classic, is in somewhat better shape, they're only six games behind. And if the playoffs started today, guess who would be the wild card team in the NL?

It comes as no surprise that it's a team from the NL Central. The NL wild card team in three of the last five years has come from the Central division (Astros in 2004 and 2005, Cardinals in 2001).

What comes as a surprise, the final piece of evidence that we're witnessing a changing of the guard in the NL, is that it's the Reds who currently lead the wild card race.

Now, granted that any team in the league could be one or two injuries away from a long slide of the kind the Cubbies have been experiencing since RHM wrote that Destiny had directed the Cubs to meet the Pirates in the cellar (and since Derrek Lee promptly went on the DL to insure that his team would eventually keep that appointment). Granted, also, that there's still a lot of baseball to be played.

None of that changes the fact that the balance of power in the NL is definitely shifting - something the balance of power in any sports league is prone to do from time to time, just like the sands of the desert, and the transmission in RHM's car when she realizes she's made a wrong turn on her way to Cinci.

The Reds, who currently are in the driver's seat in the wild card race, are clearly one of the teams that's on the positive side of the shift in power. They haven't made the playoffs since 1995, unless you count the one-game playoff against the Mets in 1999 (MLB does not - officially that was a regular season game). Hopefully they don't make any wrong turns anywhere: Five wild card teams have made it to the World Series since the year 2000, and three of them got World Series rings to mark the occasion.

Hmmm…on second thought, maybe Thin Lizzy's “The Boys Are Back In Town” might even be better. Since they seem to play it after most soccer games in Ireland, it would be a good way for us baseball fans to get even for Gatorade stealing our “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” for its ads during the World Cup soccer matches.

John, KC2HMZ

June 17, 2006

Pirates Ready to Talk Contract Extension with Casey

If you're in the mood to repeatedly gasp and stammer at some unbelievable naïvete, allow me to recommend the article Casey contract talks on the horizon from today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Discussions with Pirates first baseman Sean Casey on a contract extension are expected to begin after the All-Star break.

A three-year deal totaling $18 million is a safe starting point for negotiations, according to a source within the organization.

Three years! Casey is about two weeks short of 32 years old.

The article continues:

The signing of Casey would be a popular move, not only with the franchise's fan base, but in the clubhouse.

“I think it would be a huge thing for the Pirates,” outfielder Jason Bay said. “They always talk about trying to get good baseball players who are also good people.

“Sean hasn't been here long, but he has more than lived up to his reputation as one of the best people in baseball and, obviously, what he can do on the field goes without saying.”

Yes, he's good people. But three years! He's got three concussions!

The article continues:

This season, the Pirates are paying 37-year-old right fielder Jeromy Burnitz $6 million. They will pay him another $6 million in 2007, unless they choose to buy out his contract at a price of $700,000.

Well, then in that case, it's OK then.

June 17, 2006

Javy’s Father

I've updated Javier Valentín's human league profile with information from the rather ominously named column Fathers loom large in Reds' memories in today's Post.

June 17, 2006

Hold the Pickles

During Brandon Claussen's start against the White Sox tonight, if you could call two innings a start, I couldn't help thinking that we may be seeing the last of The Pickle for a while. Marc Lancaster seems to have additional support for that theory.

It's safe to assume Brandon Claussen won't be making his next scheduled start Wednesday against the Mets. Asked that question directly tonight, this is what Jerry Narron had to say:

“Brandon Claussen’s been in our rotation all year. He did have a good outing last time, we are looking for him to be more consistent and give us some good outings. We definitely gave Joe Mays a chance to get stretched out a little bit tonight. You face a lineup like that, you’ve got to have good stuff. You cannot go out there half-stepping.”

Go read the rest of Marc's post; Claussen's response is quite interesting.