Earlier today, Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers, announced his resignation. His departure follows the Tigers elimination from the American League Championship series last week. The Tigers were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in six games in spite of a stellar starting rotation and the big bats of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the lineup. The 68 year old skipper leaves Detroit with three consecutive division titles and two World Series appearances. Leyland’s 1,769 career wins land him 15th on the all time wins list for baseball managers. An impressive resume to say the least.
Likewise, the Cincinnati Reds manager, Dusty Baker, was recently released by the Reds after failing to advance beyond the Wild Card playoff game against the Pittsburg Pirates. Since the release of Baker, the Reds have spoken with or about several potential replacements for Baker, but no hire has occurred. It seems to me that the best possible candidate (unless Tony LaRussa decides to un-retire), just became available. Though Leyland stated that his tank lacked the fuel to continue managing, surely a talent laden roster in one of baseball’s first and finest city’s is enough to “top off” his interest.
The way I see it, the Tigers owe the Cincinnati Reds a proven winner such as Leyland. After all, the Reds lost the winningest manager in Cincinnati Reds history to the Tigers when Sparky Anderson went north in 1979. He then went on to become one of the winningest managers in Tigers history and won the 1984 World Series along the way. Now the Tigers have the chance to return the favor. Perhaps the Tigers front office wouldn’t mind filling Jim Leyland’s gas tank for the four hour drive south to the Queen City.
In hindsight, was starting a pitcher who missed most of the season, in a one game, winner take all, playoff, really a good decision? The Reds sent staff ace Johnny Cueto to the mound in last night’s Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. From the start it was obvious that Cueto did not have his best stuff, not did he have the command of the strike zone typically demonstrated by a team’s #1 starting pitcher.
It was clear from the start that any of the Reds other starting pitchers would have been a better choice. Cueto pitched behind in the count and it didn’t take long for the Pirates to touch him up. If not for the great defense of Todd Frazier the game could have been out of hand by the 3rd inning. As it was, it got out of hand soon enough, and the Reds hopes for advancing evaporated in the hostile environment of PNC Field.
On the flip side, the Pirates are the feel good story of the season. Their faithful fan base has been deprived of a playoff appearance long enough and they deserve to enjoy their team’s success. Not only that, but the Steelers have the good folks of Pittsburgh mourning an 0-4 start and a declaration by Big Ben that they are the worst team in the NFL. I know this is a baseball story, but how much does a Cincinnati sports fan have to love hearing the Steelers starting QB make such a pitiful claim? So Pirate fans, “Go enjoy your moment because the Cardinals are waiting to cut the celebration short!”
Back to the dugout before we wrap this post up… Another winter of “what if’s?” await the Reds. What if Joey Votto had hit like an MVP is supposed to hit? What if the Reds gad started Latos or Bailey? What if Ludwick had been the power hitter everyone had hoped he would be? What if Walk Jockety had made the trade to put them over the top? What if…
- Todd Frazier Makes Sick Catch to Save Reds from Big Inning (bleacherreport.com)
- Colin Dunlap: Pirates Fans Had A Huge Part In Wild Card Win (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)
- National League Wild Card game: Reds-Pirates lineups (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
With a 3-2 win over the New York Mets the Reds have clinched a berth in the playoffs. For the first time since 1975-1976 the Reds will be going to the playoffs in back to back seasons.
Johnny Cueto looked sharp going 7 innings, striking out 5, and only giving up one earned run. A healthy Cueto will be a huge boost to the Reds if they play deep into the playoffs.
Shin Soo Choo led the offense going 3 for 6 with 2 RBI’s and 2 stolen bases. He drove in the game winning run with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th inning. Billy Hamilton added another stolen base tonight to ad to his total of 13 on the season. A Major League season that started just three weeks ago for the speedster.
The Cardinals and Pirates have also clinched playoff spots along with the Reds. All three teams will continue to battle to determine who wins the division and who gets the wild card spots. It looks to be an interesting week ahead in the NL Central.
Carlos Gomez has done it to the Reds again!
In the 9th inning of Saturday’s game, Gomez tracked a well hit fly ball off the bat of Jay Bruce to the centerfield wall. At precisely the right moment Gomez elevated to catch the ball above the wall and rob Bruce of a three run homer. In the bottom of the 9th, Brewers infielder Sean Halton hit a walk off home run to defeat the Reds 6-5. With the Reds battling the Cardinals, Pirates, and Nationals for a play-off spot, the loss was especially painful for players and fans alike. At this point in the season ever game is critical and the Reds let a 5-1 lead after six innings slip away.
What makes this loss even more painful is that it mirrors a very similar loss to the Brewers on July 9th, 2013 when Carlos Gomez robbed Joey Votto of a potential game winning home run. In much the same way, Gomez ran down Votto’s centerfield shot and leaped above the wall to make the catch. Gomez went so far above the wall that Votto demanded to see the ball in his glove after the catch to confirm that he indeed caught the ball.
Both catches, and several others like them made by Gomez this season, are worthy of the highlight reel. The Brewers will not make the play-offs in 2013 but thanks to Carlos Gomez, the Reds may not either. They are currently 3.5 games out of first place in the National League Central and the Washington Nationals are stalking the Reds for the final Wild Card play-off spot. If the Reds miss the tournament by two games or less they can point to Carlos Gomez and the Miller Field centerfield fence to understand why.
The Reds wrapped up a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a sweep! And that after taking three of four from the Cardinals. The Reds appear to be peaking at just the right time. However, the Reds are notorious for winning critical games against difficult opponents only to drop three of four against teams they should easily beat. With that said, the Reds need to guard against multiple losses to Chicago this week.
As the pennant race heats up it will be interesting to see if the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to slide. Pirate fans are all too familiar with this scenario. A great season ends with wilting in September. Regardless, it appears that Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis will make the play-offs this year.
The recent call up of speedster Billy Hamilton has the Reds outrunning their opponents lately. Hamilton has yet to step into the batters box or onto the field for defense yet he’s impacting games with his speed and base stealing ability. He has logged a theft in each of his first four pinch run opportunities.
With Hamilton’s help, the Reds took three of four games from the St. Louis Cardinals and the first two of three from the Dodgers. They will wrap up the three game series with L.A. tomorrow. It’s hard to remember a September call up that had such an immediate impact on the outcome of games.
The jury is still out on Hamilton’s ability to hit in the Big Leagues but no one can question his speed!