All the Difference

I admit it.  I’ve been down on my club.  While I reveled in some of the moves made by Walt Jocketty (notably Ramon Hernandez for Ryan “Everyone loves me despite the fact that I’m not really very good and have already been dealt again this year” Freel and the signing of Arthur Rhodes), others have driven me crazy (Dunn for Owings and the Tavaras signing).  While I’m by no means going to start standing in line for October, something very important happened last night to my Reds.

For the first time in 2009, they have scored more runs than they’ve allowed.

Most knowledgeable (code word for giant nerd) fans can tell you that run differential is a better predictor of future success than wins and losses.  So for me, it was hard to get too pumped up about the Reds being a game or two over .500 when they were being outscored by 10 runs on the season.  Since the calendar hit May, the Reds offense has been transformed from putrid to down right effective.  The reasons are varied.  For one, Edwin “The worst everyday player in baseball” Encarnacion got hurt.  Adam Rosales his replacement, is just as bad defensively as EE (though most of his mistakes are fielding, not throwing), but has hit modestly enough to more than make up for the loss of EE and his .127 BA and .476 OPS.  Second, the gaping maw in left field has been temporarily filled by Laynce Nix, who despite having a name straight out of Boy Band U, hit a mammoth home run last night.  Perhaps most importantly Jay Bruce has gone on a mother of tear and now sits third in the NL in HRs behind Pujols and some worthless scrub named Adam freaking Dunn.

I’m under no illusion that Wily Taveras is going to hit .350 with an OBP of .380 all year.  But for once, I’m going to be positive.  The Reds are over .500 and deserve to be there.  In fact, they’d be tied for the lead in the Central if Dusty hadn’t butchered the 7th inning on Sunday.  Sunday’s game was one of the best in baseball this year.  It started as a matchup of two fine young starters (Volquez and Wainwright), featured home runs by the best player in the game (Pujols), two of the best up and comers (Votto and Bruce), and a pinch hit HR with two outs in the 9th by a pitcher to send the game to extra innings. Finally, it ended with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th.  Even for a loss, it was beautiful baseball. What killed me, though was the 7th. 

First, Dusty sent Edison Volquez back to the mound despite having given up 5 runs in 6 IP.  The score was 5-4, and Dusty went with his starter.  Volquez got the first two outs easily, but then Pujols came up, having CRUSHED a HR in his previous AB, as well as notching a fly out to the fence in dead center.  Dusty had several options.  He could have pulled Volquez, or intentionally walked Pujols.  Instead, he decided to pitch around him.  The only problem with this is that Volquez struggles with his control, and after intentionally throwing four balls to Prince Albert, he couldn’t find his release point and promptly walked the next batter as well.  The results were predictable as both runners ended up scoring, as the young pitchers Dusty brought in were asked to pitch in high pressure situations instead of coming in at the top of the inning with a clean slate.  The decision to stick with Volquez despite the fact he wasn’t throwing well and would face an impending Pujols at bat cost the Reds two runs, the game, and a shot a first place.  Not that I was watching the game, bitching about every move at every turn that inning or anything.  Oh wait?  I was?  I must have said the word ‘stupid’ at least 20 times in that three out, two run span. 

Still, despite his in-game shenanigans, Dusty continues to keep the club loose and confident, even if he sticks with hacks like Chris Dickerson and Encarnacion until they actually get hurt.  Being a good game manager isn’t as important over 162 as being a good clubhouse manager. Of course, it really helps in October…

At any rate, with the Reds pitching and even a small modicum of offense, this team has a chance to hang around awhile. 

I’m just glad I’m finally statistically justified in saying that.

Links:
Oehser lists his top 5 Colts myths

Danny Granger wins Most Improved.  I sure hope he also pulls down “Most Likely to Succeed”.  He joins Jalen Rose and Jermaine O’Neal as former Pacer winners.  Heady company.  I’m not sure if I’m being sarcastic or not.

In a discussion of whether or not Favre can really go the 16 game distance, check who was the only Pro Bowl QB to finish strong last year.

Scouts Inc once again shows it has no idea what they are doing.  They claim the Colts biggest weakness is at DT, which is debatable, but what they say about the issue is flat wrong:

The Colts also appear to adjusting their approach to the position.
Former head coach Tony Dungy’s penetrating-but undersized-interior
defensive linemen are being replaced by bigger space eaters. This was
especially apparent with the Colts’ recent draft selections of USC’s Fili Moala and Michigan’s Terrance Taylor,
two stout run stoppers who do not offer a lot of instant penetration or
pass rush to the mix. Taylor, in particular, has a nose-tackle’s build,
strength at the point and overall skill set. The days of starting
players such as the 265-pound Eric Foster  or Raheem Brock
seem to be numbered. I would not be surprised if both Moala (303
pounds) and Taylor (319) became starters side by side at some point
during their rookie seasons.

Let’s be clear.  The Colts drafting of big DTs is NOT a change in philosophy. The Colts have been trying to field a big run stuffer for years now, but the curse of Corey Simon has prevented it.  Oehser covers this myth in the link above.  Scouts Inc. generally does lazy work, and this is no exception.

Here’s a great interview with Dungy from the Star.  His lack of comment on Vick makes Florio really seem like a douche for all his assumptions last week.  He said he won’t make any comments about him until after the commissioner rules. Gee, you mean Dungy wasn’t some promotional tool of the Vick camp used to generate public sympathy?  I am oh so shocked.

Oehser nabs a USA today report that quotes Polian as expecting the coaches to retire…suck.

Another Oehser link…The Sporting News polled ex-NFL wideouts about various game related questions.  They said they would like to catch a ball from 18.

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