The game-winning single! (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

The Utility Player: Brandon Phillips, Votto and his Knee, and Alfredo Simon?

And…there will be some Todd Frazier in here as well. Wouldn’t be TUP without him, as he has shown.

First thing involves the comment Brandon Phillips made after yesterday’s thrilling 7-6 comeback win. I rarely listen to a game on the radio (nothing against The Mercurial One), but since the game was not on Fox Sports Ohio yesterday and I cannot get the MLB Network on my basic cable package (hey, times are still tough!), I had no other recourse.

Anyway, BP had a word about some “noise” the fans were making during the game…

“…I love the fans out there, period, but I feel all the booing out there was unnecessary. We’re in first place. We’re playing good baseball.

“I know we didn’t do our job early in the game. It’s not like we did it on purpose. I feel like if you’re going to boo somebody, wait until the end of the game is over. You never know when guys will come up in key situations.”

– Brandon Phillips and his reaction to the crows booing during Thursday’s game (via Mark Sheldon/MLB.com)

Personally, I’m on board with this. I can’t say I agree with everything BP does or says, but on this matter, he hit the bulls-eye. Throw the rotten tomatoes at me if you will, but that’s how I approach it. Fans have different ways of expressing their “fandom”. I get that and I completely appreciate that. Look around you the next time you’re at GABP. One fan may be screaming and hollering while another person three seats away from them merely wants to kick back and enjoy some baseball. There’s nothing wrong with either. We all have different personalities. If you act or react to a play one way, it does not mean or require the person two rows in back of you to have the same response.

As Sly Stone once said “different strokes for different folks”. And I love that song..

(Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

Votto Cleared the Air…for Some

On Wednesday, we saw another side of Joey Votto that were not quite used to seeing. He sought out the media. I know. I did a double take when I heard he did that. He wanted to voice his take on what transpired as the issue surrounding his knee and the injury.

In his words, “..nobody’s at fault”. If that’s the stance Votto is taking, I’m good with it. It is his knee.

When the news was first breaking about the injury and impending surgery, reaction was from one extreme to the other. Some pointed the finger at the Reds medical staff for not insisting on an MRI from the onset of the knee issue. Another reaction I read was that Votto should have taken matters more into his own hands and had the knee more thoroughly checked out. I also saw that there was no way the Reds should have let him participate in the All-Star Game knowing there could be concern.

Votto told John Fay (and others gathered) that he was feeling better and the knee was healing fine. He was playing at 85-95%. I think most of us would take an 85-95% Votto. Votto also noted he passed all the structural tests. In addition, Votto stated the All-Star break did help him even though he played.

To quote the 2010 NL MVP once more, “…all of us players, we deal with things here and there.”

But here’s what I don’t get. Why must we point a finger on this? If, in Votto’s eyes, all was handled as he felt it should have been, why the questioning of such? Do we have to have someone, something, somewhere that must be placed at fault? And that doesn’t apply only to Votto and this situation.

An Unsung Hero: Alfredo Simon

When it was announced that the Reds had signed Simon and Todd Frazier was headed to Louisville, the snarls and howls were a plenty. I doubt you would find a person that would say Frazier hadn’t earned his roster spot. I, too, was disappointed. I knew why the move was made. Injuries to three bullpen arms (Ryan Madson, Nick Masset and Bill Bray) forced Walt Jocketty into a decision I don’t think he wanted to make. Well, maybe two, but this was one of them.

Here we are on July 20 and Simon has clearly proven his worth…and the ToddFather is in a Reds uni. Simon has become a valuable member of the Reds bullpen. Oh, there’s somethings that may need a little cleaning, but he has made us forget his first and third outings of the season.

Through his first three games, Simon was simply dreadful. There’s no other way to put it. He allowed three earned runs in a mere 3.1 innings of work. Perhaps what has helped Simon the most is his short stint as a closer when he was in Baltimore. You must have a short memory in order to be a closer, whether it’s good or bad. It appears Simon had drawn on that experience.

His role: mop-up duty. What pitcher wants that job? Well, Simon has prevailed in that role. Here’s a glimpse at his monthly splits…

April: 0-1, 2.79 ERA, 1.55 WHIP
May: 0-0, 0.82 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
June: 0-0, 1.86 ERA, 1.45 WHIP
July: 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP

As I said, there are things that could use a tweak. Opponents are hitting .255 against him. Maybe that could be a little lower. He also owns a BB/9 over 3.0. Other than those two areas, I’d say Simon has earned his keep as a member of the Reds bullpen. One stat the will definitely tell you he’s the mop-up guy is the Reds record in games in which he’s appeared: 5-17.

That record aside, in his last ten games, Simon has a 2-0 record with an ERA of 0.93. He has lowered his ERA from the 8.10 it was after his third game to its current number of, and get this, 1.46. And those two wins have both occurred in recent games (including yesterday) where he was brought in to eat up some innings.

Such is the life of the mop-up guy.

Frazier IS a Utility Player!

The one player that would be the benefactor of Votto’s absence would be Frazier. We know he can play left, third and, now, first. He also played short and second last season. Well, he’s showing that his bat and his gloves are well suited for the Reds current situation.

The night that was originally scheduled to be Votto’s night off (and then we found out all is not well), Frazier was at first…and batting third. The following game, at first once more, although dropped in the lineup to 6th. Next game, at first again, batting 7th. Yesterday, Frazier was moved over to third base, moved to 5th in the order.

It makes no difference where you play him or where he bats in the lineup, he’ll do it. And he will give you a full effort. He’s just all over the field…and Dusty’s lineup card.

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Tags: Alfredo Simon Baseball Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds Joey Votto MLB NL Central Todd Frazier

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