Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random thoughts for a random Friday....

The Reds have now officially moved into the non-relevant part of the 2009 sports scene. Call me when the hype for 2010 begins...

I predict by the close of business on Friday the Reds will have done nothing to appreciably improve their chances for 2010. They'll dump either David Weather or Arthur Rhodes and get some minor league suspects in return. Then, we'll hear how great these guys coming to the Cincinnati organization will be, can be, should be....shoot me. I've heard this line of crap for the last 19 years. It never NEVER happens.

You know why the Reds can't/won't make any moves? The economy is horrid and so is the way this team is playing. It was doomed from the start of this season. Pitching, speed and defense? That kind of torque-esh move in a five month span from a power hitting team? I said in the Fall it wouldn't happen. It didn't. The Reds put themselves in this spot by signing Willy Tavares to a $6.8 million contract when the rest of the baseball world was just about asking Willy to pay them to let him play. The Reds put themselves in this spot by signing Mike Lincoln to a guaranteed two year deal. What??? For a guy who couldn't lift a doughnut with his right arm two years ago? The Reds put themselves in this situation by signing Edwin Encarnaction to a guaranteed two year deal this past winter. The problem with EE can be summed up in this phrase: he doesn't have the glove to play third base nor the bat to play the outfield. Wasted millions right there. Architect of those moves: Castellini, Jocketty and Baker. When the gatherings at GABP number 7,000 or so in about two weeks, they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

Wasn't Wayne Krivsky's firing last April supposed to stop the losing? Dude, where's my baseball team?

The Bengals hit the practice field for their first training camp workout later today. 8-8 this season, you heard it here first. They don't have a stable offensive line (just Andrew Whitworth and Bobbie Williams) and because of that, they won't have a dominant running game. Without that, you can't win in any cold weather environment. But 8-8 may set the stage for 2010. Keep hope alive...

But their defense will be a lot better. It won't be as good as what you saw the final couple of games in 2008. The opposition then wasn't very good and the Bengals excelled. But the 'D' could be the best we've seen around here in years...decades..

I hope Mike Brown wears a wireless mic for the Hard Knocks crew. That could be some riveting television. They'll have to hold Mike to a strict limit on four syllable words. My guess is three per segment...

Over/under on Ochocinco blow ups? Four. I'll take the over...

I wonder what Odell Thurman thinks about, when the lights are out and the evening is quiet. I wonder if he thinks about how he blew it. He could be making millions. Instead, he's spending what little money he has left on legal fees. What a waste...

Why am I believing, more and more, that Michael Vick will wind up with the Patriots? Answer: because Bill Bellichick is the one guy who can afford the luxury of Vick on his team, because of the starting quarterback he has.

Two playoff teams will come from the AFC East this season: New England and Buffalo. Two will come out of the North: Pittsburgh and Baltimore. But I think the best division race will be in the South, where anyone of three teams could win it...

Nine wins get you in the playoffs IF you're an NFC team. You'll need eleven in the AFC....

Just booked for my radio show Sunday on 700 WLW, MLB umpire Joe West, due to join me at 10:05 am. I'm taking your calls and welcoming guests from 9am-Noon EDT.

Sports Rock! Sunday night on WLWT NBC '5' in Cincinnati features former Bengal Eric Thomas and talented author, Lonnie Wheeler, who's latest book on Cincinnati area prep stars of yesteryear "Legends" will be a big seller.

I'm with Kentucky Speedway owner, Bruton Smith, in his private box Saturday night for the Meijer 300 at the Speedway. I've never met the man so I'm looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend!
Just posted on the front page of my web site: is the lastest Broo View Podcast. It's an in depth interview with Mike Freeman of And what he has to say will make you shudder, if you're a genuine, born in the USA sports fan. On the fly? Here's a quick link

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's Thursday!

With a nose not unlike George Herman (Miley) Ruth's, I'm back in business...

Riddle me this kids: if you owned the Cincinnati Reds, if you just bought the team from the group running the show now, what contracts would you 'eat'? In other words, what players on this current team would you absolutely, positively have to have?

The answer in two words: Joey Votto. Anyone else, asta lavista, baby. Which means, you'd be dining on Bronson Arroyo's $11 million 2010 salary plus his 2011 buyout; Aaron Harang's $12.5 million, Coco Cordero's $22 million remaining salary and anything else that adds up to the approximately $75 million the Reds paid for the 'talent' on this year's team (less Votto's MLB minimum). It would be an expensive meal. But it would let you start all over again.

Let's review. The Reds, this season, are a collection of spare parts. Laynce Nix, Jonny Gomes, Jerry Hairston, Jr, Chris Dickserson, Adam Rosales are all 23rd-25th guys on a a 25 man Major League Roster. But here, they start. They're not bad guys. They're all decent human beings. But they are not starters on a serious contending baseball team.

Bob Castellini and his smart guys sold you, me and every other baseball fan in this town on the belief that the Reds would be just fine this season, moving from a power hitting club to a team built on pitching, speed and defense. No problem, they said this past winter, ignoring for the moment that the ball park they play half their games in was built for POWER and anything BUT pitching. Read between the lines now: they tried to sell you on the switch because they didn't want to spend money on replacing the 100 rbi that Adam Dunn took with him last August.

You're screaming Ken, there you go again with Dunn. You're in love with Dunn. All you talk about is Dunn. Dunn was a lazy ballplayer who never saw an at bat that wasn't a potential strike out. Stop with the man love, Ken.

OK hot shot, one more time. I was in LOVE with the offense that Dunn had. The Reds needed to replace the OFFENSE, not necessariy resign Dunn. Although, have you seen the season he's having? 26 home runs, (8 more than any current Red) 74 rbi (9 more than any current Red) and a decent .279 average (Votto is the only non platoon Red hitting higher).

But I digress...

There are two ways to play the game of Major League Baseball for any of the 30 front offices. One, you can buy yourself a contender by trading away prospects and chasing free agents. The Yankees, Red Sox and Angels would be good examples. Two, you can develope talent, make judicious trades and be selective with free agent acquisitions. The Twins and A's are good examples of that strategy.

The of course, there are your Cincinnati Reds. They don't have the $150-200 payroll to compete with the Yankees of the world. And, they haven't had a stable enough front office to play the game the way the Twins and A's have gone about their business.

If you're scoring at home, Twins and A's have had general managers with long tenure (Terry Ryan in Minnesota until last season, Billy Beane in Oakland). The Reds have had five GM's since 2003. The Yankees, Red Sox and Angels outspend the Reds more than 2-1.

And that's why we have the mess of 2009. Smart small market clubs have consistent management with solid plans. Big market teams throw money at the problem of building a big league contender.

We, on the other hand, wait until next year. As I asked earlier this week, exactly when does next year arrive. The sobering stat of the day: since 1979 the Cincinnati Reds have been to the post season playoffs twice. Twice!

Cincinnati was the epicenter of baseball in the 70's. We were the Big Red Machine, Rose, Bench, Morgan, Perez. Dude, where's my baseball team?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Welcome To Wednesday!

Still waiting for the swelling to subside.

Just added to the front page of my web site, is an interview I conducted with Cincinnati Reds phenom, Chris Heisey. He's with the Reds' AAA affiliate in Louisville and appears to be on the fast track to the big club.

I don't see how Bronson Arroyo AND Aaron Harang remain with the Reds past this week. The trade deadline is 4p Friday. Harang is scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2009 and Arroyo just over $11 million. Mix in Francisco Cordero's $13 mil for 2009, that's $36.5 million in salary for hust three players on a team with a $75 million limit. Didn't we just go through this a year ago with Griffey and Dunn?

And spending prospects and $11 million next season in a potential trade for the Blue Jay's Scott Rolen? No sense at his age of 35.

I'm surprised this current Reds team can win anything given the line-up they trot out every night. Jerry Hairston, Jr, Laynce Nix, Jonny Gomes, Chris Dickerson (hurt), Ryan Hanigan? This is a collection of spare parts. They're all back of the roster players. But here, they take turns starting. You don't beat a Cardinals line-up that just went out and traded for Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo and Matt Holliday with that group.

Here's the really bad news for Reds owner Bob Castellini. At 3p Friday, the Reds cease to be relevant for the balance of this season. That's the time of the Bengals first workout of their training camp. The Reds owner and his front office staff have no one but themselves to blame. They failed to field a competitive team, plain, simple, end of story.

Why do I have this sinking feeling the Bengals will cease to be relevant by October 1?

Heard this one today: Brett Favre tantilized the Vikings just long enough to screw up their training camp and create dissention among the quarterback ranks in that franchise so he could help the Packers win that NFC North this season. That's rich. If Favre had any juice left in his arm, he'd be out there sweating up a blue streak when the Vikings hit the field later this week. Exactly how exciting can Mississippi be, at any time of the year?

Michael Vick to the Vikings, that's what I'm seeing. Why not?

Mike Brown said Tuesday he's not interested in bringing Vick to the Bengals. Not a good fit, says the Bengals chief pooh-bah. Chris Henry is? Odell Thurman was?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Good Monday Morning!

Countdown to the MLB Trade deadline is on. 4pm Friday is the appointed hour. Do you now who your Cincinnati Reds will be by then?

Alright, it’s over. It’s been over for awhile, it’s just been too hard to let go. Like a bad marriage or a bad job hire, it’s time to admit this Reds team had no chance to compete this season. 7 games out of first place with four teams ahead of them, all incidentally getting better, the Reds are officially DOA today. Pull the plug. Wait ‘til next year. That’s the game we play the best here in Cincinnati.

Pitching, speed and defense doesn’t happen over night to a team that was built for the power game. And it certainly doesn’t happen to a team that carries a $75 million payroll and a farm system that hasn’t been spitting out can’t miss prospects.

What logical reason is there to believe this team has any life left in it? The front office will tell you it does. But then again, it has to sell tickets to 36 more home games this season. The fact is, when the decision was made not to pursue offense this past winter, there was little reason to believe this year would be anything more than last year, or the year before that. Or pick one since 1995.

That’s the ‘rub’ the Reds are facing. They’ve got little equity in the market anymore. Opening Day is a big deal. Whenever there’s a bobble-head to be handed out it’s a big deal. But to paraphrase what was said about the long dead sports entrepreneur Harry Wismer, when the Astros and Pirates roll into town for mid-week games later this year, most of the fans will go to Great American Ball Park disguised as empty seats.

There’s one thing that sells tickets to a sporting event on a consistent basis. And it’s not bobble heads, fireworks or all your can shove into your pie-hole for $30 seats. It’s winning. And this franchise, under several owners and too many general managers since 1995, hasn’t given us a lot of winning.

Marge Scott gave us dollar hot dogs, Kevin Mitchell and Deion Sanders. But she also viewed anything that happened in the Reds minor league system with disdain. You remember the line: all scouts do is go to baseball games.

Carl Lindner gave us Ken Griffey, Junior. He got bullied by a lot of people, including a lot of us in the media, to signing Barry Larkin to an ill-advised three year, $27 million contract extension. And that was it. The rest of his tenure as owner was peppered with the Joey Hamiltons and Jeff Austins of the world. Carl was booed so lustily one Opening Day, he had business cards printed up in time for game two that season, inscribed with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, in essence where Lincoln told his detractors to stick it. I know this because Carl gave me one.

Bob Castellini gave us Wayne Krivsky, now Walt Jocketty. He gave Jerry Narron a mid season contract extension in 2006, then launched him mid-season 2007 and gave us Dusty Baker in 2008. Like Lindner with Junior, Castellini gave us Francisco Cordero. As Lindner froze after that, so now has Castellini.

That’s the way it goes with baseball in our town anymore. We now add another year to the lost generation of baseball fans in Cincinnati. Maybe you’re a part of that. Maybe your kids are. A generation is generally defined as 25 years. If you were born in 1985 or thereafter, chances are you can’t remember the last great Reds team. You want to know the real reason why it’s tough selling tickets to Reds games? That you go. Winning trumps bobble heads and fireworks.

But when did it get to be this way around here? When did we become Pittsburgh-West? Is it because of the economy, the fact that the minor league system went into atrophy under Schott? Was it because Jim Bowden couldn’t find pitching with a map, compass and a picture of Nolan Ryan? Is it because Castellini lost too much money last year in the bogus tainted tomato scare?

How is it, that St. Louis can trade for Julio Lugo, Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday and the best the Reds can do is call up somebody named Drew Sutton?

Jocketty told Chris Welsh the other day that the price the Cardinals paid for Holliday was too high. The Cardinals sent some of their best prospects to Oakland, renting free agent to be Holliday for the rest of the season. Soon, I’m sure, we’ll hear the same thing about the team that trades for pitcher Roy Halladay. Maybe someone in the city that Bronson Arroyo or Aaron Harang is traded to this week will scream the same thing.

But wouldn’t it be refreshing, just for once, to hear someone complain around here that the price the Reds paid for a mid season pickup was too steep, mortgaged the future too much?

The Reds, Jocketty and company, say they value their top minor league players too much to trade them away. They refuse to mortgage the future for a chance to win now. Maybe that’s the way you have to go in this day and age, with a payroll as tight as the Reds have, with a minor league system that only now is beginning to dig itself out of the Schott-Bowden years. But the road to major league baseball is littered with can’t miss prospects, the Brandon Larson, Ty Howington, Austin Kearns of the world.

I hope Chris Heisey is the real deal. I want Drew Stubbs to be the next Gold Glove outfielder in Reds history. I want to believe that Todd Frazier, Juan Francisco and Yonder Alonso will be the core of a great Reds team in 2011. But history tells me all of that won’t happen.

The Cardinals will win the division this year. They’ll replace the prospects they traded away this month with players just as good, or better. History tells me they will.

The Cubs will contend, the Astros too. History tells me that as well.

But here’s something history hasn’t been able to fill us in on: exactly when does next year come for your Cincinnati Reds?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just posted on the front page of my web site is the latest Broo View Podcast. I've got some thoughts about whether or not it would be wise for the Reds to add a player or two before the trading deadline AND an in depth interview with Darren Everson from the Wall Street Journal about the importance of 'glue guys' on a major league baseball team. On the fly? You can download the podcast here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good Monday Morning!

48 hours ago, no one could have picked PGA touring pro, Stewart Cink, out of a police line-up. He should get down on his knees and thank Tom Watson for over shooting the green on an eight iron approach in Sunday's regulation final hole. If Watson gets up and down in two from his fairway shot, Cink goes back to being what he's always been to everyone except family members and golf freaks: Mister X.

Tom Watson has no one to blame for his British Open loss than himself. "Would have been a helluva story", Watson said in his post round news conference Sunday. No lie.

Now, to your Cincinnati Reds.

You can choose two roads to travel in life: the road of hope or the road of despair. The worst kind of hope, of course, is false hope. But despair will eat you alive.

So if you had to choose a road to travel today and the journey involves the 2009 Cincinnati Reds, which road would you choose? History would lead us to the road of despiair. This team is 5 1/2 games out of first place in arguably the worst division in baseball. And the last time the Reds had a whiff of the playoffs is ten years ago. Since then, there’s been a lot of false hope and a lot of bad baseball. Prepare to Win, Ready to Win, the Reds have had their share of pre-season slogans. There’s been plenty of pre-season hype. Junior arrives. Pete Harnisch is just like the Harnisch of 1999. Ramon Ortiz and Ben Weber are here, just two years removed from winning a World Series. Here come Gary Majewski and Bill Bray, the final pieces required for a playoff run in 2006. The list is long, the payoffs were few. Actually, we became Bernie Madoff city. Forget payoffs, we were ripped off.

Its tough being a fan in a town like Cincinnati, isn’t it? We want to believe. We get caught up in the hoopla and even the most gullible of us knows the let down is coming. Now that we’ve established what we are, the only thing to haggle over is the date of the let down. Big market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox win World Series titles. Small market teams like Rams and Colts and Steelers win Super Bowls. And we produce generations of fans who know nothing but losing. So goes life on the road of despair.

Except today, here now, the sign posts along the road of hope. Not for 2010 or 2011. We may all be out of work by then,, hopefully along with us, some of the idiots we continue to send to Washington. Today’s hope, comes in the form of history. It’s the belief of what can happen, with a little hope and a little help.

Sign post number one, along he road of hope. Your 1973 Cincinnati Reds. Back in the bad old days, of two divisions and no Wild Card, the Reds were DOA, eleven games back on July 1st. The Dodgers were running away with the division champonship. But the Reds kicked it into third gear, won 60-of their final 86 and won the division by three and a half games. The won, despite having three of their everyday eight, Dennis Menke Cesar Geronimo and Bobby Tolan hit a combined .204. Sound familiar? They won on the strength of good, not great starting pitching and incinnati. He went 12-6 for the Reds. To get Norman, the Reds sent pitching prospect Mike Johnson to San Diego, along with outfielder Gene Locklear. Both were thought of highly by the Reds organization. Neither amounted to anything.

Fast forward to the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays. They managed to win only 38 of their first 83 games. Yet, they went 51-28 in the final 12 weeks and won the AL East by a couple of games.. At the trade deadline that year, the Blue Jays picked up Mookie Wilson from the Mets. His .298 hitting the rest of the season was a big reason why the Jays qualified for the playoffs. The price to get him? Pitcher Jeff Musselman and prospect Mike Brady. Musselman, incidentally, won a grand total of six games with the Mets. Brady, never played a game in the majors.

Here’s another sign post on the road to hope. In 1993, the Atlanta Braves were ten out with 65 games to play. 55-42 on July 23. They won 49 of their final 65 and won the West by a game over the Giants. On July 18th of that year, 16 years ago yesterday, the Braves made a trade for Fred McGriff, got him from the Padres for three guys who could have gotten lost in a phone booth, including Vince Moore, a highly regarded rookie in the Braves organization at the time. Net result: McGriff hits .310, with 19 home runs and 55 rbi in 68 games with the Braves.. Oh and by the way, hit .435 against the Phillies in the NLCS that season.

That’s the road to hope today. But none of that happens with the teams in question being proactive, seizing the moment. You’ve heard this a lot in the past couple of weeks, but it’s true. A team doesn’t pick which season its contends. Fate determines that for it. In 1990, the Reds were picked to finish third, at best in their division. We know that story very well. Did anyone this year predict that Joey Votto would miss more than a month with stress? Anybody out there call the Edinson Volquez injuries? Any genius see the Jay Bruce collapse back in January? Who’s to say things like that don’t happen in 2010? Who’s to say every prospect coveted by the Reds blossoms at the exact time and we get another 1990 season here in 2010. Or every prospect blossoms at the exact time and the Cardinals or Cubs or Astros are just that much better.

The road to hope is the only road worth traveling. But the team you’re traveling with has to give you hope along the way. It’s called living in the moment. When you constantly play the ‘wait until next year’ game, more often than not, ‘next year’ never comes. We’re waiting now on Walt Jocketty and Bob Castellini. Let’s see if they’re worth waiting for.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just posted on the front page of my web site is the latest Broo View Podcast. My special guest this week, the Hit King, Pete Rose. Pete thinks he's got a way for Jay Bruce to be more effective at the plate, when Bruce returns from his broken wrist. In a hurry? You can download it here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thank God It's Friday!

Bit of a shock when I got to Great American Ball Park Thursday, as the Reds resumed their season, to see Adam Rosales still with the team. I thought for sure there would be some move, trade, call up completed to get more offense on this team. Fooled again.

I like Rosales. He's a nice kid who is like a lot of ballplayers. Rosales tears it up in AAA but when he gets to the majors, he become very average. He's struggled at the plate this year and his defense isn't all that great. But he hustles and has an appreciation for where he is. That counts for a lot, in my book. But does he make a difference on the field? No.

If the Cardinals make a preemptive move and trade for Roy Halladay or Matt Holliday, it's 'ballgame'. Either move will help the Cardinals separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the NL Central. It will also demonstrate to their fans that the team wants to win, now.

Hello, Redlegs??? Anybody home????

Here's why the Reds HAVE to do some sort of bold player move: they haven't done squat since 1995. Don't give me 1999's one game play-in or a winning season in 2000. Please. Every division mate in the NL Central has been to the playoffs since then, with the exception of the Pirates. Since 2000, the Cardinals have won a World Series and the Astros have played in one.
The Reds have played the game of baseball consistently since their last playoff appearance in 1995. Badly. They hype the team in the off-season. They play the 'wait 'til next year' game starting on or about July 1st.

MEMO TO THE REDS SMART GUYS: Next year never comes. You froze at the chance of trading for Jermaine Dye in the off season. You over estimated your starting pitching and defense. You knew your offense was anemic as early as last September. And all you did in the off season was give us Willy Tavares and Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez has been serviceable. Tavares? Now we know why he's been on so many teams in so short an MLB career.

And the guy who signs the checks has to be sobered by this thought: his team is about a week away from being rendered an after-thought by the Cincinnati sporting public. NFL training camps open the end of this month. High School football is about 40-days away. The Reds are 5 1/2 games back as the suns rises Friday morning. It's not too late. But it's later than Walt Jocketty and Bob Castellini think.

Tom Watson one shot off the lead at the British Open? Beautiful. Only a 66 foot birdie putt by the leader on the 18th hole prevented Watson from being the oldest first round British Open leader (59 years plus) in tournament history.

John Daly's first round attire: horrendous. He was wearing something that resembled frog vomit. Ian Poulter's attire: horrendous. He was wearing a sweater with the flag of Great Britan, with plaid pants straight out of the wardrobe closet of Dirk Diggler.

Here's a novel concept for these professional linksters who think they're making a fashion statement: use a mirror.

That's it for now. Eddie Yost!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Good Thursday Morning!

The melatonin hasn't kicked in some rambling thoughts from a sleep deprived mind....

Jeremy Mayfield flunked another drug test, for methamphetimines, again? Forget NASCAR ever, ever again. The next time Mayfield hears his name on a PA system it will go something like this: "Jeremy Mayfield, Jeremy, please report to the front of the store to assist with checkout..."

The Reds HAVE to do something dramatic in the way of player moves. 40 home games, half of their TOTAL number of home games for a season, remain to be played. Bringing up phenom Chris Heisley is the wrong move. A: he has just 202 at bats above single-A ball. B: Isn't this what the Reds did with Jay Bruce last season? And before he broke his wrist, Bruce couldn't hit a beach ball, let alone a 80 mile an hour breaking ball....

Are the Reds out of it? You say yes? You think they're saying the same thing in Atlanta and New York? The Reds and Mets have the exact same record. The Mets are 6 1/2 games out of first. The Braves are 6 games out of first, with one more win than the Reds, who are 5 off the NL Central lead.....

Sporting News just rated Brian Kelly one of the top 5 coaches in college football. Damn, he said, should've waited another month to sign that new deal....

What ever happened to former Bengals defensive end Alfred Williams? The "Condor" as my pal Dave Lapham called him.

Chick Ludwig is still writing for the Dayton Daily News. Good. Stay there, Chickster. We need your blunt and sometimes outrageous questions at Marvin Lewis' weekly media gatherings....

I'm addicted to Frasier re-runs on Lifetime. Never saw the show once when it ran on NBC, and I work for an NBC affiliate. The father, played by John Mahoney, is a TV character classic.

Anybody listen to audiobooks? I need a good one. I'm off on medical leave the end of next week and I want to listen to a couple. I listened to a Tom Clancy novel about ten years ago and loved it. What's good, and more important, delivered well? Let me know:

NBC re-upped with the NHL for a couple of more seasons. That means my station, WLWT, gets to televise the Winter Classic again next January 1: Philadelphia Flyers at Boston, to be played at Fenway Park. The Winter Classic is the best hockey on television, as in ever.

I can't buy into all the hype that's building around the Bengals. Now, the respected Pete Prisco of picks the Bengals to make the playoffs this year. Really? With that offensive line? And despite what you've heard and we've seen, Carson Palmer has yet to test his right elbow. It's one thing to drop back and toss a ball without any pass rush. It's another thing to deal with that, having to throw the ball with your arm at different angles, avoiding the rush and tying to beat pass coverage. I hope his elbow holds up forever. But...

And the Bengals are going to beat out the Ravens, Titans, Jags, Jets, Dolphins and Bills for a wild card? Oh, they're going to win the AFC North then. Really? You honestly see eleven wins on that schedule? It will take eleven wins to make the playoffs in the AFC. New England won eleven last year and MISSED the playoffs.

But, I could be wrong.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is GREAT, despite what my arteries are telling me...

OK, melatonin has kicked in...later

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just posted on is an interview I conducted with Dave Laurila of Baseball Prospectus. We talk about the current state of the Cincinnati Reds. It's on the front page, easy to find.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Good Monday Morning!

Here were are, at the All Star Break and your Cincinnati Reds are a full five games out of first place. And, their phenom is gone for a long time (how long we’ll learn later today) with a broken wrist More on Jay Bruce in a moment.

The Reds have flirted with contending, teased us and ultimately let us down a lot through these first 89 games. But whether you choose to believe in this team or not, they are just a mild hot streak away from first place. As we like to says, in the National League Central, all things are possible, first place and last.

There’s great debate around here, you and I have participated, as to whether or not the Reds should trade for players, or simply trade players away and build for next year. The Reds have been building for next year so often, you’d swear the calendar is stuck on December 31st. If the Banks Project were the Reds, it would have been built and rebuilt twice by now.

But as that debate rages, whether to buy or sell, there a more important thing the Reds have to consider. It doesn’t involve trading, waiting until next year or that $10 million monstrosity it left field called a scoreboard.

The most important thing the Reds, the smart guys in the front office, the most important thing they have to deal with is Jay Bruce. He is the centerpiece of the Reds future, the poster boy for ticket sales, the golden boy as he quickly ascended through the depths of the Reds minor league system. And he can not hit a breaking ball to save his life.

The old line about a struggling ballplayer is ‘he can’t hit his weight’. Bruce can barely hit the New York City area code. Today, he is stuck at .207 The Golden Boy is broken, or at least his wrist and his swing are. Bruce can still hit for modest power (all he seems to be able to do is hit home runs) and he can still throw runners out from right field like he’s channeling Paul O’Neill. But at the plate, Bruce seems to be channeling Adam Dunn. Except Dunn never hit .207 for a season. Came close once, but never like this.

Remember, this is Jay Bruce, the Reds number one draft pick in 2005. Dan O’Brien’s ultimate gift to the Reds near death minor league system. Jay Bruce who had a meteoric rise from single A to Triple A all in the span of less than 200-games. The Can’t Miss Kid with the ability to hit the ball to all fields AND hit for power. His first two weeks in the ‘bigs’ were astounding. Offensively, Bruce has been in a free fall since.

Saturday night in New York, sheer hustle (or a bad break on a shallow fly ball, you take your pick) caused Bruce to suffer a broken wrist. You probably saw the highlight ad nauseum (full warning, I’m showing it again tonight on WLWT at 6pm). The last graphic bone broke witnessed on live television this horrific was probably the night that the NY Giants Lawrence Taylor snapped Joe Theismann’s leg in two. It probably ends one of the most disappointing seasons for a Reds player in their history.

Along the way, from Sarasota, to Chattanooga to Louisville, Bruce had a smooth, can’t miss swing. A couple of Springs ago, as he was working in the Reds minor league complex in Sarasota, I spent a morning watching Bruce take batting practice. His swing was effortless, even and the phenom was spraying the ball to all fields. Bruce was The Natural. I don’t know if it was all God given ability or if a hitting coach had worked with him to hone his swing. My guess is, it was a little of both. But, it was fun to watch him work.

And as I was thinking about Bruce and his problems at the plate this week, it seemed reasonable to me, that at some point in his minor league career, a manager or a hitting coach got through to him, connected with him, helped Bruce find the swing that got him to the Majors. Would it not make sense to send the one time phenom back to work with that coach?

The Reds and Bruce have a golden opportunity now. Of course, his wrist has to heal before any of this could happen, but why not send back to his past to ensure his future? If he’s to play again this season, he’ll have to do a minor league rehab stint. So the situation, perhaps embarrassing to a player under normal conditions, will take care of itself.

Sometimes, sending a player back to the minors to fix a flaw in his game works. The Reds tried it a couple of years ago with Edwin Encarnacion, and he returned to hit fairly well. They tried it with Austin Kearns, and it had no effect on him. Lately, it has seemed to have worked with Homer Bailey.

The arguments against it are pretty clear. One: who else do the Reds have right now that can play right field.? Two: what’s to be gained by sending Bruce back to Triple-A to beat up on inferior pitching? The answer to question one is, no one. The answer to question two is not much.

Except….this is a long term investment in a player you’ve chosen to build your franchise around. Bruce has tremendous defensive talents and can hit for power. His problem is consistency from at bat to at bat, and hitting the breaking ball. Jay Bruce is cost certain for the next three seasons. Financially, it’s in the Reds best interest to make it work. With most young players, it’s a marathon. And Jay Bruce fixed, hitting for average and power long term, trumps anything that’s happening this season.

Friday, I called Pete Rose and asked him to join me on my Sunday morning radio show on 700 WLW in Cincinnati. Rose agreed to an interview. But before agreeing (I had left voice mail for him and didn’t realize he had done this before he returned my call) Rose placed a call to the Reds clubhouse in New York, at Citi Field. He wanted to speak personally with Bruce. They talked about hitting for about 20-minutes on Friday night. Rose told me, he gave Bruce six minor adjustments to work on, but emphatically told the young outfielder do NOT change your swing. That. Rose says, is suicidal for a hitter. He also told Bruce to not believe that he’s in a slump. Rose maintains if a pitcher believes a hitter is in a slump, he’ll own him. It’s a ‘lull’, Rose says, that Bruce must believe he’s in the middle of. He says he promised Bruce he’d watch his games over the next week or so and call him back with some more advice. Now, of course, that’s on hold. But if Jay Bruce wants to return to the kind of hitter he was in the minors, maybe it’s worth his while to buy a plane ticket to LA and seek out Rose for some personal coaching. Why not? The Hit King has already taken an interest

Friday, July 10, 2009

Listening to the "Extra Innings Show" on 700 WLW earlier tonight, I heard host Doc Rodgers make a good point. Bronson Arroyo had just picked a complete game shutout against the Mets. This is the same Bronson Arroyo who had been lit up for ten runs in less than an inning a couple of weeks ago. Rodgers question: where's the middle ground. His contention was, it's great to see Arroyo pitch a complete game shutout. But what a team needs more than that, is for a pitcher to give a consistent effort. Sometimes, it's better if you know you pitcher will toss six innings of three or four run baseball, rather than have a pitcher who careens from one extreme to the other.

It helped that Arroyo was pitching against the Mets, a team so decimated by injuries it can barely scrape together a legitimate major league line up.

Just posted on my web site, is my latest Broo View Podcast. My guest in this episode is Michael Lombardi, former NFL front office executive and currently one of the featured writers on We talk about the prospects of a long holdout by Bengals first round draft pick, Andre Smith. You can find it on the front page of

Among my guests this week on Sunday Morning Sports Talk will be Hit King Pete Rose. I want to ask him about how he'd fix Jay Bruce, the man who never met a breaking call he could hit.
My show airs on 700 WLW in Cincinnati. If you don't live around here, you can always listen on line, on

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Outscored 32-2 in their last two ballgames. You can look at that stat and say the Reds starting pitching has failed them. And, you'd be right. But the way I choose to look at it is this way: the Reds can't score runs. And it's that lack of offense that's been the chronic problem this season. We've gone over this, ad nauseum: the Reds failed to replace the offense that Adam Dunn took with him when he was traded away last August.

Some have mistaken my criticism of their lack of offense with some sort of man crush on Dunn. Not true. I could care less where they found the 100 runs and 100 rbi that Dunn consistently produced while a Cincinnati Red (he's ahead of that pace this season, incidentally). They simply needed to find someone(s) who could replicate it. Remember, this team was offensively challenge even with Dunn last season. Instead, the Reds pursued Willy Tavares, throwing $6.8 million of Bob Castellini's money at a player they might've been able to sign for the major league minimum, had they waited a week or two. Tavares, as expected, has been a huge disappointment. Instead, the Reds put a $10 million scoreboard in left field, rather than a $10 million dollar player in left field. Bobby Abreu signed with the Angels for $6 million. He probably figured he had a good chance of getting a World Series ring in LA. But if the Reds had offered him $8 million, would he have signed here? We'll never know.

And why did the Reds spend $10 million on a new scoreboard, when the old one was just six years old? Because, apparently, they couldn't find parts needed to repair it. Here's a question: why would you buy a scoreboard from a company that can't supply replacement parts, just six years after sale? Worse, the graphics on the scoreboard appear to have been done by a third grader, using an ancient Apple III computer. And there aren't enough replays. But those are stories for another day.

All the Reds needed to do was find a free agent outfielder who could bridge the gap between now and when Drew Stubbs is ready for the majors. Stubbs is in AAA now, and probably a Cincinnati Red within a year. This is a classic example of a missed opportunity.

We keep hearing the Reds big year will be 2010, not 2009. Really? Says who? Are you sure your core players will have the kind of season they'll need to have in 2010? Are you sure your key players won't experience injuries that will keep them shelved for part of 2010? The future is promised to no one, not even baseball teams.

The best line about all of this was uttered last weekend. I don't know by whom, because I heard it second hand. Here it is: a team doesn't pick when it will contend. When it will contend, is picked for it. In sports, you must seize the moment. The Reds didn't. And had they, 2009 might have been the first playoff year since 1995. Sadly, it doesn't look like it will be.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Good Monday Morning!

We were talking about this the other night, down at channel 5, watching Albert Puljos round the bases after his grand slam that crushed the Reds: the phrase in baseball called “by the book”. This compilation of strategy or codes or whatever it is that fuels managers and drives fans crazy sometime. “By the book”, is there a book? When was it written? Who wrote it? Can you find it at Barnes and Noble or do you have to order through Amazon?

Stacking your line-up with left handed bats when the other guy is throwing a right handed pitcher. Why? Alternating lefties with righties in your batting order. Says who? If the other guy sends up a left-handed batter late in the game, why do you have to go to your bullpen to bring in a left handed pitcher? Where is that written? Did Moses bring down from the mountain an eleventh commandment?

I get the feeling that most major league managers go ‘by the book’, and the numbers. Numbers dictate everything in baseball. You walk into Dusty Baker’s office, or Tony LaRussa’s office, even the great Joe Torre’s office and he’s got every stat imaginable at his finger tips. How does Albert Puljos hit right handed pitching. Answer: great. How does he hit left handed pitching: answer, great. How well does Rick Ankiel hit Bronson Arroyo, Nick Massett, Francisco Cordero. It’s all there. Numbers. How well do right handers hit off Arthur Rhodes. If Rhodes is in the game and LaRussa sends Khalil Greene up to pinch hit, does Baker bring in a righty to face him? Or does Rhodes have a decent track record when facing Greene?
This is what living in the intel Pentium processor age has given us.

Makes you wonder what Casey Stengel, or Sparky or Billy Martin would have done with this. My guess is, throw it out the window. But that’s only a guess.

I was working in Tamp years ago and met up with Sparky at the 1984 World Series. His Tigers were in the process of beating the Padres in that particular series. I told him, I had just run the numbers into a computer that we had at the television station, his 1984 Tigers against the 1975 Reds. Six game series, I told Sparky, your Tigers win in six. He told me to get a new computer. Actually, what he said was, ‘no computer ever won a baseball game’.

Which gets me back to this thing we were talking about the other night at channel 5, me Vogel, one of our directors and whoever else happened to walk by. Puljos had just hit that grand slam home run, and I raised this question: why not just walk the guy? Ok, the bases were loaded. You’re conceding a run. But you’re up three with one out in the eighth. There’s not another bat in that Cardinals line-up that could beat you. Walk Puljos and take your chances.

We were split, 50-50- on that. One side thought I was nuts (which I might point out is confirmed at channel 5 on a daily basis) the other half thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Seems to me, years ago, Jack McKeon did something similar with Mark McGwire, not with the bases loaded, but intentionally walking McGwire, and putting the go ahead run in scoring position.

So what’s wrong with taking the bat out of Puljos’ hands and playing the percentages. In fact, I looked it up. In modern day baseball, 20th century and up until now, only three batters have been intentionally walked with the bases loaded: Nap Lajoie, of the old Philadelphia A’s (Hall of Famer, I might add), former Chicago Cub Bill Nicholson and Barry Bonds. Bonds got a bases loaded free pass in 1998. The Diamondbacks had a 8-6 lead on the Giants in the ninth. Arizona manager, Buck Showalter ordered his pitcher to intentionally walk Bonds with the bases loaded. It made the score 8-6. Took the bat out of Bond’ hands. Next up was Brent Mayne. Line out, game over. I kind of wish Chris Spier, the Reds’ bench coach had that information, so he could’ve whispered it to Dusty Baker. A little refresher course for Dusty, who was managing the Giants at the time.

Am I wrong in suggesting that it might have been something for Baker to consider? Does it really fly in the face of what your supposed to do as a manager? In football, the first thing a defensive coordinator does when he begins to game plan for an opponent, is figure out how to neutralize the other team’s best offensive player. Is baseball that different? Rule number one, in any team sports is don’t let the other guy’s best player beat you.

Am I wrong in thinking this way? Please, tell me. If you were Baker, would you have intentionally walked Puljos? I don’t think he was wrong for not doing it, because that’s what ‘the book’ says. And in this day of replays, sportscenter, columnists, blogs and yes, sports talk radio, a manager takes his professional life in his hands by going against ‘the book’.

Stats and tendencies, match-ups and advantages drive baseball managers in this day and age. But sometimes, like any job in life you have to go with what your ‘gut’ tells you. My gut tells me walking Albert Puljos Friday night was the way to go. I had no skin in the game, so it makes my position a lot less important than the way Baker played it. Dusty went by the book. I’ll bet if you asked him today, just you and him, no cameras, microphones or anyone else within earshot, bet you if you asked him ‘should you have walked Puljos in that situation’ and become only the 4th manager since 1900 to do something like that, I’ll bet his answer today would be, not a bad idea.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Four 'slams' this season for Albert Puljos and you pitch to him with the bases loaded? Up three in the 8th? Sorry, rule one in sports is this: never let the other guy's best player beat you. I'd have taken a page out of Trader Jack McKeon's book and walked Puljos, concede the run and try my luck against a .237 hitter. You're still up two and breathing.

You'll remember this loss in September, I'll guarantee it.

Latest Broo View Podcast is posted at It's on the front page of my web site. My guest this time is college football prognosticater, Phil Steele. On the fly? Download it here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

If ever there was a case for the Reds to add a legitimate 'bat', you saw it Tuesday night. Johnny Cueto pitched another strong ballgame. He went six, allowed only one hit and whiffed eight. He wound up getting the win, a dicey 1-0 decision over the Arizona Diamondbacks. But how many games do you win with only one run? How many times have we seen the Reds score only one run this season.

If they Reds had done what they needed to do this off season, add a productive hitting outfielder who could fill the 4th or 5th spot in the batting order, it's my guess that this team would be in first place in the NL Central, by a comfortable margin. Go back and look at the number of times the Reds lost ballgames simply because they couldn't get a base hit when needed (situational hitting). Look at how they did when Joey Votto was away getting his head straight (8-14). Now, what would have happened if the Reds had made that deal with the White Sox for Jermaine Dye, or if they had made a run at Bobby Abreu? We'll never know.

Instead, they dropped $6.8 million on Willy Tavares, a player they might've been able to sign for close to the major league minimum had they waited a few weeks. Instead, they elected to sign the far too injured Edwin Encarnacion to a two year deal (two years???). Instead, they bottom fed for players like Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes. Instead, they spent $10 million on a scoreboard in left field, rather than spending $10 million on a left fielder. Abreu signed with the Angles for $6 mil. He might not have come here for that, but would he have signed for $8 million? Again, we'll never know.

Reds owner, Bob Castellini, who probably took a large bath last summer when the tomato scare hit the USA, watched the economy go into the dumper in September, looked at his season ticket sales and put his checkbook back in his pocket. Dye would have cost $11 mil, Abreu less than that, but not much. So instead of the bluster we got from the Produce King in 2006, the stuff about winning championships now, we got a lot of 'building for the future'.

I like Castellini, a lot. But excuse me, we've been hearing about the future ever since Davey Johnson was run out of town by Marge Schott in 1995.

Here's the thing about professional sports: there is no future. You, me, Castellini, no one can predict what 2010 or 2011 will bring. Did anyone see Edinson Volquez being a shadow this year, of what he was in 2008? Anybody predict that Votto would go through what he did this season? It's why when you're close, you give yourself the best shot to win in the here-now. The Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and Cubs do it every year. But smaller market teams play that game too. What did Milwaukee do last year when it got close? It went out and got pitcher CC Sabathia. The Brewers didn't win the World Series. But they made the playoffs. And though they had to trade one of their best prospects to the Indians to get CC, it certainly hasn't hurt that team's ability to contend this year, has it?

In professional sports, there is only one thing that counts: winning. If the Reds really want to win, if Castellini really wants to be taken seriously by the fans of his team, he'll 'green light' his general manager to make a move, a big move that will separate the Reds from the pretenders.

We're waiting. But then again, we have been since '95, haven't we?