Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Trade Deadline Thoughts and Observations


by: Jack Ward
Staff Writer

I attended the Reds game on Monday night against the Chicago Cubs. It was a great night. Saw Jay Bruce hit one a mile. Todd Frazier and Marlon Byrd each hit home runs. Brandon Phillips made another dazzling play and Aroldis Chapman blew them away in the ninth.

I toured the Reds Hall of Fame before the game. I was very impressed. If you are a Reds fan you have to take this in, and come early so you can take your time. I spent about an hour and a half there and I actually needed about twice that see every display, but I hope to return in September and do just that.

This is an outstanding effort by the Reds Hall of Fame staff. I was very impressed and even moved by the things I saw. The most amazing was the 4,256 baseballs on the Pete Rose “hit wall.” I loved the artifacts and stories. Again if you go, and for every die hard Reds fan this is a must, plan to spend at least 2-3 hours there to do it right. The Tony Perez display was great. Of course Pete Rose and Johnny Bench displays are everywhere. But just about every Reds player seems to be represented there somewhere. There are interactive games where you can throw a ball, hit a ball, and see displays of old ballparks and even see the actual seats. Actual baseball gloves worn by players, old uniforms, old baseballs and bats are everywhere.

As I looked at the history of the Reds it reminded me how my dad and grandfather always were big Reds fans. I grew up listening to Jim McIntyre and Joe Nuxhall on the radio in the late sixties and early seventies. It was our family ritual to have the Reds on Radio or Frank McCormick on TV for the once or twice a week televised game.

The first time I attended old Crosley Field was in August 1966, not to see a Reds game, but to see the Beatles. They were rained out on Saturday night and came back to perform Sunday afternoon the next day. I didn’t see my first baseball game at Crosley until September 1968. Jim Maloney shut out the Giants and Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Bobby Bonds on just three hits, 3-0. In 1969 I returned to Crosley Field to see the Reds come from behind to beat the Houston Astros 10-9. The Reds were behind 9-0 in that game!

I cried the night they closed down Crosley Field. I remember they dug up home plate and flew it to the new ball park, Riverfront Stadium. I drew a huge picture of Crosley that my dad kept displayed at his work place for years. I wish someone had kept that.

In 1967 Little League came to our community and that’s when I really became a total Reds fan. I was a player now and my dream was to play for the Reds. I knew all the Reds player stats and even could mimic their batting stances and pitching deliveries. I loved Tony Perez and mimicked his batting stance in Little League. I loved watching Jim Maloney pitch and I copied his pitching style when I took the mound (without the same success I might add, but I sure felt like a big leaguer.)

Now back to the present. Aroldis Chapman is an impressive looking human. My brother in law who I attended the game with had never seen him pitch before and his only comment was “now that guy looks like a pitcher.”

JJ Hoover’s try out at closer wasn’t very impressive on Tuesday as he gave up the tying runs and blew the save. I guess he will be the closer when Chapman is traded, which seems to be inevitable. Get your fingernail clippers out so you don’t chew them off when JJ pitches. Also Mike Leake looked great on Wednesday against the Cubs. It is rumored that the Cubs want Leake. It would be a good pickup for them.

We still wait to see where Johnny Cueto is headed. At this point the best bet is the Yankees or the Royals who have really been scouting him. Don’t look for the Reds to get much in return for any trade for Cueto. Teams just aren’t going to give up much for just two months rental. The Angels are very interested in Jay Bruce. I think the Reds should hang on to Bruce and build a team around him and Frazier and Votto. We don’t want to start over at this point and I’m sure Frazier, (who the Reds say is not going anywhere) and Votto, (who is not tradeable with his contract), certainly don’t want to be part of rebuilding project.

With the Reds pitching prospects there is no reason why the Reds can’t win next year or certainly the year after. Get what you can for Chapman, Cueto and Leake and build it back up now. The Reds with their good solid core should not be a rebuilding project but simply reloading for 2016 and 2017.

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