A Not to Remember Start to September (unless you are Devin Mesoraco)

What a difference four games make.  On Monday the Reds were riding high again after sweeping the Washington Nationals and seemed recharged for a run at the Philadelphia Phillies.  Remember the Phillies?  You know, the team that swept the Reds out of the playoffs last year.  Four days later and the Reds would rather forget how August bled into September.

So now the Reds are poised to face the one team in 2011 that can still probably raise their collective pulse rate.  Tony LaRussa and his St. Louis Cardinals.  These same Cardinals are fresh off of a sweep of the front running Milwaukee Brewers led by Albert Pujols and his National League leading 34 home runs.  Johnny Cueto will take the mound to start this series to add more tension to the opening game given his past Cardinal entanglements.  The Reds need to play loose and have fun because all they are playing for is pride.  Oh and the opportunity to rain on the Cardinals slim chances of catching the Brewers.  Winning 2 of these 3 may well be all it would take to end their chase.

With the start of September, another change occurs in the baseball season.  As AAA ball winds down MLB rosters grow from their season long 25 man size to allow anyone the Reds want to bring up who is currently on the 40 man roster.  As expected many familiar faces are back in town and the Reds dugout has become a bit more crowded.  Let’s take a look at the changes and welcome the new additions to the team.  I was happy to have the chance to interview BRM’s in-house Louisville Bats guru Kevin Geary by phone and get his spin on these new additions as well.

Changes:

Jeremy Hermida – Placed on waivers and claimed outright by the San Diego Padres yesterday.  He had a good year with Louisville but never performed well at the Major League level.  Kevin reminded me that “It’s important to note that Hermida was told they’d do anything they could to find him an MLB job. And since he wanted that opportunity…”.  Dusty echoed the same and I am happy he gets a chance to return to the Majors.

Fred Lewis – Sent down to Louisville in a move that surprised me upfront but on reflection makes as much sense as any other decision this year.  Bottom line, since the All Star break, Fred has done almost nothing to help the Reds.

Chris Heisey – Returned from the 15 day DL and provided the lone spark in a lackluster series against the Phillies by hitting a 3 run pinch hit home run today.

Matt Maloney – 27 year old Maloney has pitched a strong campaign in Louisville, recording a 7-1 record with a 2.99 ERA.  Good to follow on Twitter as well.

Jared Burton – Kevin felt strongly about Jared saying “Burton, in my opinion, is a really good AAA pitcher, but OK at best in the majors. If he figures it out up there, he’d be a key for the Reds in 2012.  But the thing is, when Jared is with the Bats he’s one of the best.  In the majors, he’s just OK.  The drop off between AAA and MLB is not THAT big.”

Looking at the numbers over 5 seasons in AAA he has a 2.31 ERA while on the Reds his ERA balloons to a still respectable 3.40.  Maybe now is the time he will step up become a reliable bullpen option.  At 30, his opportunities are limited.

Chris Valaika – Geary is a fan of the 25 year old Valaika suggesting “As far as Valaika is concerned, as much as I love him, he’s a career September callup. He’s good defensively but the offense just isn’t there.’  In limited time with the Reds he has 5 hits in 16 at bats, with Louisville he hit for a .261 average and a .657 OPS this year.

Juan Francisco – Not quite sure what to make of this call up with Rolen also returning but at 24 years old he joins the long list of young prospects on the left side of the diamond.  Hopefully he will hit a little better now than he has earlier this year.

Carlos Fisher – Kevin says “Fisher is a veteran.  That’s the only reason he is up. Its just what they are supposed to do and he can help Horst learn.

I actually think Fisher, 28,  is a decent bullpen addition if for no other reason he has shown he has a tremendous amount of heart.  It is a painful memory but on May 25 he took one for the team when he pitched 5.2 innings in the 19 inning marathon against the Philadelphia Phillies earning an undeserved loss.  I wish more members of this Reds squad battled with his intensity win, lose, or draw.

Jeremy Horst – At 25 years of age he is poised at what should be the beginning of a good career as a reliever.  He has an ERA of 2.81 in 51.1 innings in Louisville and in 6 appearances for the Reds he pitched 9 innings allowing 3 ER.  Now would be a good time to make his mark to assure a chance in the spring.

Finally I am happy to welcome Devin Mesoraco to the Reds 40 man roster and to be added to the active squad.  Reds fans have been anticipating this move for months and many believe it is an overdue move.  I have commented occasionally about the lack of doubles production from the Reds this season and Kevin Geary assured me that “Devin will help solve that problem.”  He also went on to opine “I hope the Reds do more than just let Devin sit on the bench and learn from the veterans, he needs real game experience.”

All things considered these additions add to the intrigue that this Labor Day weekend offers.  According to Cincinnati Enquirer Reds beat writer John Fay, both Scott Rolen and Edinson Volquez will be joining the team in the next week as well.  Rolen is almost ready and will not do any rehab starts and Volquez will start one last game for the Bats before their season ends.

Hope springs eternal, even as the season swings into fall.  I have three hopes for 2011.

  1. The Reds win 15 more games and finish above .500.  A tall order after the Phillies disaster but my hope nonetheless.
  2. The new guys, Mesoraco and Todd Frazier in particular, get a healthy number of at bats.  Don’t mind seeing Yonder Alonso as well, even though his defense is a challenge for me to watch.
  3. The Reds really must win this series against the Cardinals and end their fantasy of a playoff berth.  Do it for the children!

The start to September is best forgotten but here’s to better times ahead and a September TO Remember.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz

 

Topics: Carlos Fisher, Chris Heisey, Chris Valaika, Cincinnati Reds, Devin Mesoraco, Edinson Volquez, Fred Lewis, Jared Burton, Jeremy Hermida, Jeremy Horst, Juan Francisco, Kevin Geary, Matt Maloney, Milwaukee Brewers, Scott Rolen, St Louis Cardinals, Todd Frazier, Yonder Alonso

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