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Cincinnati Reds Views 5/19 And Pregame Notes 5/20

Posted by Matt on July 20, 2007

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The Cincinnati Reds took the first game of a four-game series last night against the Florida Marlins in Miami, Florida by a score of 7-5 after squandering an early 3-0 lead, only to come back thanks to the bat of Ryan Freel and his three-run home run. Here are a few notes and observations from last night’s contest:

• Catcher Javier Valentin needs to be the everyday catcher at this juncture, even despite his defense – we will surrender that aspect of the position. Valentin is batting .260 in 100 ABs this season with 1-HR and 15-RBIs, including one of each a run and a RBI last night, to go along with two doubles. He doesn’t have the power, or the defense (has yet to gun down a runner at second this season – but in his defense, doesn’t play much either), that David Ross has but he is clutch (see: Saint Valentin (link)) and he hits more consistently than Ross. Listen, I am not saying Ross could never rebound but let’s be honest, he is only batting .190 this season. The fact that he has 14-HRs and 32-RBIs at this point does not phase me because he only gets on base less than a quarter of the time (.244-OBP). 14 of Ross’ 44 hits this season have been home runs, which means if you take away his home runs he is only batting .138. We just need more consistency at the bottom of the batting order.

• There is absolutely nobody to blame for this but it is a shame we haven’t seen more of relief pitcher Jared Burton this season. Thanks to a couple of stints on the 15-day Disabled List, Burton has only gotten 12.0-innings of work in 14-games but has pitched well when he has seen action (3.75-ERA on the season) , including 3-and-1/3-innings of scoreless work since the All-Star break and since his last appearance on June 5th, 2007. Burton was punching in at around 95-MPH on his fastball last night, which is the fastest arm in Bullpen and if you don’t think sheer speed matters than let me give you an example:

Burton, a right handed pitcher, was pitching against All-Star slugger Miguel Cabrera, who is a right handed batter. Valentin called for a fastball low and away, a pitch trailing away from Cabrera. Burton brutally missed his spot as the ball got away from him and went across the plate and numbers high, cutting in on Cabrera. A normal Reds pitcher throwing 87-MPH fastballs would’ve seen his pitch planted in the “Budweiser Party Deck” by Miguel, but because Burton’s fastball was topping out at 95-MPH, Cabrera was unable to turn on a gift and fouled it meaninglessly straight back.

I feel Burton could’ve really helped the Reds’ Bullpen in the trying times of the mid-to-late June games, but such is life and it does go on and it will be good to have a hard thrower back in the ‘Pen.

• I got the feeling that this offense CANNOT WAIT to get Josh Hamilton’s bat back in the lineup and not necessarily because they are in such a bind, they’ve been playing better as of late, but add Hamilton back to the lineup and if he can return in early-season form, then the Reds’ offense has the potential to be potent. Notice I said potential as I am not suddenly blind to the performances of this team all season just because of a four-game winning streak, however, Hamilton will be welcomed back with open arms on top of the fact he is a guy who is really enjoyable to watch.

• The Reds are 10-4 since Pete Mackanin took over and that is most definitely a good sign. I do not, however, think that the Reds should jump on and sign him long-term like they did Jerry Narron after his solid interim stint after Dave Miley was fired. I will have an extensive report on the Narron versus Mackanin situation fresh for Monday morning, but in the meantime, enjoy the quality play.

Pregame Notes 5/20:

• The pitching match-up tonight pits Kyle Lohse (5-11, 4.69-ERA) versus Scott Olsen (7-7. 5.15-ERA). Lohse has pitched inconsistently as of late, giving up 5-earned runs over 4-and-2/3-innings in his last outing but had two consecutive 1-earned run performances in his last two outings of 9-innings and 7-innings, respectively, before his most recent start.

Aaron Harang and Alex Gonzalez remain on the Bereavement List for tonight’s game with Ricky Stone replacing Harang and Eric “Uncle Miltie” Milton hitting the 60-day Disabled List. Gonzalez has one more game to return from the Bereavement List before he’ll just be allowed to be away from the team while the Reds play a man down on the Active Roster. Relief pitcher, and item of controversy, Bill Bray has returned from the 15-day Disabled List and was optioned to Triple-A Louisville for “rehab.”

• First pitch for tonight’s game is at 7:05PM EST and can be seen on Fox Sports Net: Ohio and heard on 700WLW and it’s affiliates with Marty Brennaman and Company.

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