Monthly Archives: April 2010

April 28, 2010

Take the Brandon Phillips Tour

Someone sent me a link last August to a site called, who have recommendations on Cincinnati-area restaurants and attractions supposed to be personally recommended by Brandon Phillips.

You can check out his recommendations here:

No way for me to really tell whether these are Phillips’ actual haunts, other than to actually stake out the Super Bowl in Erlanger, KY, but I don’t have any reason *not* to believe it either. I mean, would you really be that surprised to find yourself sitting next to BP at the bar at BW3?

April 28, 2010

The Daily Brief: Journey to Competence Starts with One Step

Last Game
Dusty Baker shocked everyone by changing up his lineup yesterday. The shortstop was moved to 6th, Brandon Phillips was moved to 2nd, and Scott Rolen was moved to the cleanup spot. And the universe did smile upon the better lineup, and the Reds did score 6 runs. Aaron Harang had his best start of the year, as well, pitching 6 innings of 2-run ball and getting the second win by a Reds starter this year. Sure, it was only the Houston Astros, who aren’t too far removed from a AAA team this year, but don’t forget that the Reds were swept by the Pirates already this year.

Next Game
The Reds attempt to continue their winning ways, and have their best starter to assist, when Mike Leake takes the mound at 8:05pm EDT versus Felipe Paulino.

Old Harang Back for One Night Engagement Only!
It felt like Aaron Harang was back to normal last night, like the ace he was for a couple years with the Reds. He was much more aggressive and got ahead of hitters with more regularity, which was something pitching coach Bryan Price encouraged him to do. Even Harang agreed about the change in his performance, “It kind of felt how it was a couple of years ago.”

For the Reds to even sniff a winning record, they need Harang to overcome his poor pitching from early this season. The big test will be his next start against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals lineup is far better than that of the Astros, but since he’ll be going up against Chris Carpenter again, it sure would be great to see another of their epic pitcher’s duels.

What to Say to Sound Smart at the Water Cooler
Brandon Phillips is 4 home runs away from 100 for his career.

April 27, 2010

Manager Job Description: Part 2 of 5

Before I get into my second requirement for team manager, I’d like to give some props to Dusty Baker for switching up the line-up today. I’m sure that was really hard for him, and I’m so happy that the universe has rewarded his risk so kindly.

Now on to the second in my series of five qualities of a good manager.

These requirements are generic and are not intended to endorse or condemn any particular candidate. Any resemblance to the opposite of any current special adviser is purely coincidental.

Requirement #2: Understanding How the Game is Played Nowadays
I think that a good manager has to have an in-depth understanding not only of the game of baseball, but of how it’s played in these modern times. Tough to find in an organization such as MLB that wants to pretend the digital age has never happened.


For my day job, I manage a group of technical writers at a software company, a job I got after 10 years as a technical writer for software companies. Wo when my people come to me with problems getting information out of SMEs or questions about information structure, I am in a better place to speak from my own experience than if their manager were, say, a fighter pilot.

Along those same lines, I think that a baseball manager who was a player or otherwise worked closely to the game is in a good position to identify with the players and help them excel.

That being said, I don’t think that just any ex-player can take over a team and lead it to greatness. This a may be the opportunity for the formerly crappy player to shine, since a hotshot, superstar player wouldn’t have necessarily acquired the “hard work” and “grit” type skills that he’ll need to counsel some of the 25 to apply. Especially a superstar from an earlier era may have a particularly hard time relating to players today.

Which leads to an important point. As Slyde over at Red Reporter said, some managers today “manage like it is still the 1980s. One run isn’t as valuable as it was back then because teams score a lot more runs now. If the game changes in a decade, the management strategy should change with it.” If the Reds want to turn over a new leaf, they’ll need to find that special someone who understands how the game has changed since the good ol’ days and leverage those changes to their advantage.

Which leads to yet another important point. The Reds used to be the team of innovation. They brought beer sales and night games to the sport. But they haven’t been that team in a long time. They’ll need to rediscover that innovation to find the guy who knows how to capitalize on the team and help them perform to their potential.

Interview questions to ask to check for Understanding How the Game Is Played Nowadays:

Question: What would you tell a young guy who lost his stroke and can’t seem to find it again?

Good answer: I’d let him know that everyone goes through slumps, drop him in the order, and maybe suggest he break up his routine to get a fresh perspective.

Bad answer: I’d tell him to have more talent.

Question: You’re down by four in the bottom of the eighth. What do you do?

Good answer: Send the guys up to work the count and be ready to jump on a mistake. We need baserunners.

Bad answer: Hope the lead-off hitter gets on base, then lay down two sacrifices to move him over to third. Small ball will win the day!

For part 3, I’ll explore the importance of having a plan. You’ll love it when it comes together.

April 27, 2010

Breaking News: Baker to Bat Shortstop 6th!

In the Tweet that shook the world, the Reds lineup for their opening game against the Astros was posted.

  1. Drew Stubbs 8
  2. Brandon Phillips 4
  3. Joey Votto 3
  4. Scott Rolen 5
  5. Jay Bruce 9
  6. Orlando Cabrera 6
  7. Jonny Gomes 7
  8. Ryan Hanigan 2
  9. Aaron Harang RHP

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is the second baseman batting second tonight. You can tell manager Dusty Baker is getting really desperate!

April 27, 2010

The Daily Brief: Back from Panty-less Monday

Last Game
The Reds managed not to get swept by the Reds, although they continued to display poor fundamentals, ending innings early with poor running decisions twice. Manager Dusty Baker was OK with it, though, because they won 5-4.

Next Game
The Reds had an off day to prepare for the mighty Houston Astros. The Astros had a terrible start to the season, but have rebounded and are currently a half-game ahead of the Reds in the standings. Aaron Harang will try to reverse that against Bud Norris at 8:05pm EDT.

Reds Pitching, Like Fire, Bad
Entering the season, there was a lot of optimistic talk about the Reds and their pitching. The words “good” and “pitching” have not intersected much for the Reds since then.

Tom Groeschen of the Enquirer ran the numbers.

Cincinnati entered Monday’s off-day ranked 29th in the 30-team majors in earned run average (6.02) and starters’ earned run average (6.52). The Reds rank last in the majors in wins by starting pitchers, with one (by rookie Mike Leake).

The bullpen has been better, but not by much, ranking in at 24th in the majors. It’s a rather inauspicious beginning for new pitching coach Bryan Price. We’ll see if things improve against the Astros, a team not nearly as good as the Padres or Dodgers.

What to Say to Sound Smart at the Water Cooler
The Reds have now won 7 of their 8 games with runs they scored in their final at-bat.