The Leap

I realize that it was just one Sunday afternoon game in Pittsburgh, but it really feels like Johnny “Johnny Franchise” Cueto is making the leap.  He was stone cold dominant yesterday, striking out 9, walking 1 and giving up 4 hits and no runs in 8 innings.  He has given up just two runs in his last four starts.  His ERA is 1.65 and he has struck out 29 batters this year to only 9 walks (and 6 came in his first start).  He has allowed 34 base runners in 32.2 IP. 

He is 23 years old.

Cueto is the first pitcher to become my favorite player.  The chain, running back to 1987 goes:
Buddy Bell to Chris Sabo to Barry Larkin to Adam Dunn

It’s hard to latch on to pitchers.  They aren’t in there every day.  Their careers are constantly threatened by injury.  If the team is bad, it’s hard for the pitcher to have a great day, because he won’t be able pick up a win.  That’s important to me, because part of what having a favorite player does is that it keeps me engaged when the team is 20 games out in August.  I could always tune in to watch Larkin go 3-4 with a steal and double and take solace in something as the losses mounted.

Cueto marks a change for me, but I can’t help it.  He’s utterly compelling.  Even last year as all the talk was about Volquez, I could see that Cueto was going to become a great one.  I expected him to have a solid 2009, and make the jump to stardom next year, but maybe, just maybe he’s ahead of schedule.  If anyone thinks I’m exaggerating about this kid, just watch him next time he’s on the mound.  He throws free and easy at 96 MPH.  Every game he starts, you get the feeling he could throw a no hitter.

I’m still not head over heals about the club in general.  The gaping hole in left field continues to mock me.  The Reds are suddenly better on the road than at the place they play 81 times a year.  Maybe it’s hard to win in a hitters park…if you don’t have enough hitters. I wonder if the Nats will take Micah Owings in a trade for Adam Dunn? 

No?

No one in their right mind would do that deal?  No one would take a 5th starter for a 40 HR hitter?

Oh.  Damn.

Links:
Dusty’s quote of the day:

Dan Hoard, radio voice of the Pawtucket Red Sox in
the International League, told Baker that Dusty Brown, a player for the PawSox
is named after him.

Said Baker, “That’s humbling. I’ve heard of a few
people named after me, but mostly it’s dogs and cats. People write me letters
saying they named their cat after me. Mostly it’s animals named after me.”

I know everyone loves to pile on Peter King, but his MMQB was awful this week.  I can’t even put my finger on all the things I hated about this piece, but from the Favre speculation, to the weird comment that it is “irresponsible” of teams to trade up in the draft to his boring discussion of English football, it was a dud of a read.

Is Favre interested in staying ahead of Manning? The thought had crossed my mind as well.  More interesting to Colts fans will be the question if Manning cares about passing Favre.  I think he won’t rest until every major record is his.  For that reason, I’m all for Favre coming back…it might get us an extra season or two of Manning at the helm.

Kuharsky takes Colts fans to task.  I don’t agree with him on the Brown v Addai thing, but he’s 100% correct that Bob Sanders was the wrong answer to the last question.

Prisco has NE at #1 and Indy at #3.  I think both might be high.

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