Another Borek Morning: Talking Cincinnati Reds Baseball 5/20/2014


Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

What a game last night. The game had everything a baseball fan could really want, even if it did take five hours.

Most importantly, if you’re going to play that long, the Cincinnati Reds might as well get a win out of it.

* * *

It was somewhere around the All-Star break last year that I first realized: Mike Leake is the real deal.

Players develop at different rates all the time. And, it seems important to note that while Leake may not be a hard-thrower, or a big body, there is no question about his ability on the mound.

Much in the way that Bronson Arroyo is continuing to defy logic by getting batters out, Leake relies on a similar repertoire. To him, pitch selection and placement is infinitely more important than velocity.

The next time he gets the ball will be for the whole world (or at least the baseball one) to see. On Sunday, the Reds get their first primetime ESPN slot for Sunday Night Baseball against the St. Louis Cardinals.

* * *

J.J. Hoover owes Brandon Phillips a steak dinner. Or like, six steak dinners.

Single-handedly, Phillips saved Hoover maybe not only his job in the bullpen, but his career. Had he given up that run last night in the 12th inning, I cannot see a scenario where Bryan Price would allow him to continue to be a member of the ‘pen.

What makes the whole scenario so difficult is that everyone likes Hoover. If he were a nasty, selfish guy, he’d have been demoted a long time ago.

As of right now, that is about the only situation in which Hoover should be entering a game. Even then, he was bailed out by an unreal play by Phillips.

* * *

How did everyone feel about Billy Hamilton trying to steal home?

Personally, I loved it. With Hamilton, you can never say the same prototypical things you would say to any other player as a manager; with him, he just gets the green light at all times.

* * *

I laugh when I think about it, but as of late (starting in 2013, really), there is just so much whining and moaning from the Reds fan base.
It could very well be the take-off of Twitter and other forms of social media to “have your voice be heard,” but I think where more of the issue lies is in greed.

When I was a kid growing up, the Reds bullpen was this desolate amoeba. You name it…David Weathers, Todd Coffey, Todd Van Poppel, Jared Burton, Matt Belisle. Those teams, with Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and company on offense, were terrible. Terrible. How my adolescent mind continued to watch that team (the invention of truly was life-changing) still boggles me.

So, what is with the incessant complaining? Believe this; the 2014 version of the Reds has some serious talent. More so than 2010, maybe more than 2012, but probably not 2013.

Could the bench and back-up players have been improved? Absolutely. Then again, the common Reds fan cannot name two bench players on any team outside of the National League Central. Benches don’t win games; starting lineups do.

Name one starting position player that can be removed and then be significantly replaced. I’ll wait, because you won’t come up with one.
This is not a video game, and this is not a fantasy league. The Colorado Rockies are not going to swap Troy Tulowitzki and the Miami Marlins do not want to jettison Giancarlo Stanton.

Of course, you don’t have to listen to me, our own Doug Gray will tell you that right now, there is not a bat in the minor league system that is ready for the show. While some might find some stats to skew their argument otherwise, Doug watches them every single day—I’ll trust his word over some sabermetric stat.

* * *

Frustration is understandable. No fan wants to watch a team go 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position; it’s not good for the blood pressure.

But remember what there once was in Cincinnati. At least there is some semblance of hope and talent at the moment—keep that in check.