Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Case For Mike Leake

Good Morning!

Look, I'm all for drama.  Drama makes the mundane more interesting.  It creates excitement (as long as you're not part of the drama, just watching it).   To be honest, there's been plenty of drama surrounding the return of Johnny Cueto.   It's not so much whether or not he can still do his patented El Tiante wind up (watching his rehab starts in Dayton, apparently he can).  And it's no so much whether or not he'll pull another muscle before the All Star break.  The drama has been the impending answer to the following question:  when Cueto comes back, who goes?  Mike Leake?  Or Tony Cingrani.

Turns out, it's been Cingrani all the way.

Cingrani is the wunderkind whose had a meteoric rise through the Reds minor league farm system.   A year ago right now, he was pitching in Single A baseball.  Now, instead of facing hitters who'll be selling vacuums door to door in a few years, he's facing world class baseball players.  And Cingrani is  learning fast.  But he's not there yet.  And he's not in Mike Leake's class yet.

You're saying, Ken, you're back on the "sauce" again.  Well, OK, but only at home and only when I'm alone, which is come to think of it, just about always.

Cingrani is good, for the first or second time through a batting order.  He'll look like Cy Young for five innings and then immediately become Brigham Young, or Neil Young.  Southern Man, Cingrani is not.   His problem is, he falls in love with his fastball.  I'm somewhere between like and love with his fastball.  But then again, I have a commitment problem.  Early in games, Cingrani won't throw his breaking enough to let hitter know it's coming later int he game.  He relies on his fastball.  By the time the fifth and sixth innings roll around and Cingrani has to throw his breaking ball for a strike, he can't.  And by then, opposing hitters can sit and wait on his fastball.  It's a common mistake a young pitcher makes.

Leake, on the other hand knows all about that.  He's been around awhile.  He's pitched himself in and out of trouble.  And that's important for a manager.  Dusty Baker knows, Mike Leake is a know commodity.  Cingrani is not.

Leake will always throw his complete repertoire of pitches.  He only gets into trouble when he can't locate his pitches.  He'll never blow away a batter.  Rather, Leake will nibble and tease.  And like Bronson Arroyo, Leake knows the difference between throwing and pitching.  Cingrani is still learning that.   That's why Cingrani will head back to the bushes of Louisville next week when Cueto returns and Leake will stay.  One is a pitcher, the other is a throwing learning to pitch.  It's as simple as that.

OK, the song I can't get out of my head today

One of the best studio musicians on the planet co wrote this song, David Paich.  He was/is the keyboardist for Toto, but so much more than that.  His co writer was Joe Williams, the leading singer with Toto at the time, who's also the song of noted film score composer, John Williams.  Joe has done some film scoring himself.  Anyhow the song is from Toto's "The Seventh One" album, a song that peaked at #22 back in 1988.  Hard to believe this is 25 years ago.

Hard to also believe that Thursday was the 47th anniversary of the Beach Boys classic album "Pet Sounds"  Glenn Campbell played guitar on this album and Leon Russell was on piano.  But the star of the musicians, prejudiced as I am, was one of my heroes:  drummer Hal Blaine

OK, go out and make it a great Friday.  I'll see you on WLWT News 5 tonight at 6p & 11p and I'll be talking sports on 700 WLW Saturday from Noon-3:30p and Sunday from 9am--12:30p.  Lots of baseball talk and a few football tidbits as well