Wednesday, July 27, 2011
CINCINNATI — As sure as the sun comes up over the Gateway Arch it was a given that the St. Louis Cardinals would shuffle their roster at the trade deadline.
And, of course, they did.
“The rich always get richer at this time of year,” said Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker. “There is some frustration on our part, yes, but the Cardinals always do it. They did it when Walt Jocketty was there.”
The Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox put together a 10-player deal.
Going to St. Louis is starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, relief pitchers Octavio Dotel and Mark Rzepczyski and outfielder Corey Patterson.
The Cardinals sent away two relief pitchers and outfielder Colby Rasmus, a whipping boy of St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa.
THAT SAID, DOES it really matter at this point. The lethargic, moribund Reds lost their third straight to the New York Mets Wednesday night, this time by 8-2.
A big trade? Why. It is becoming convincingly clear that this team is not going to right itself in time to make a run to the top of the National League Central.
Some big mistakes were made in the off-season, but there were mistakes I would have made myself. When the Reds won the National League Central last year, it wasn’t known that they were overachieving. The pendulum swung the other way this year and nearly every member of the team slipped from overachieving to underachieving.
They thought veterans like Joey Votto, the MVP, Brandon Phillips, an All-Star, and Scott Rolen, an All-Star, would match in 2011 what they did in 2010. They haven’t. All three have slipped.
They thought young players like Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs and Paul Janish would get better, would mature, would improve. All three took steps backward.
It has been frustrating, this dismal season that has the team lagging in fourth place, four games under .500. And there are no trades that can cure this for the season. It is lost, probably gone forever. Other teams have rescued seasons from more dire situations, but at this moment, at this time, the Reds are showing nothing that indicates they will turn it around.
Bronson Arroyo, one of the big underachievers this season, was 7-2 with a 3.31 ERA for his career against the Mets. But on Wednesday they beat him like a beach blanket on a clothes line — six innings, five runs (four earned), seven hits and, of course, the obligitory home run to give him 30 this season, most given up in the National League.
It was 5-1 when Arroyo left, but quickly it was 8-1 when Jose Arredondo gave up a three-run homer to David Wright. And a guy named Daniel Murphy had a career-high four hits.
The Reds? They had seven hits. One run scored on Joey Votto’s home run and another on Chris Heisey’s sacrifice fly.
It was a freeze-frame photo that is becoming all too commond. Drew Stubbs was 1 for 4 (but didn’t strike out), Brandon Phillips was 1 for 4, Jay Bruce was 1 for 4 (one strikeout), Votto was 2 for 4 — six of the seven hits from the top five spots in the order, but they didn’t put them together.
The lower half of the order was 1 for 13,
REDS BROADCASTER Jeff Brantley will be behind a microphone Friday night, but it won’t be for the San Francisco game in Great American Ball Park.
Brantley will be in Jackson, Miss., during his induction into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Before his productive 14-year major-league career, Brantley was an All-American at Mississippi State University.
Brantley began his career with the San Francisco Giants, but came to the Reds in 1994 and in 1996 he was National League Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year, recording 44 saves with a 2.41 ERA.
And he was not a one-year wonder. Over his 14-year career with the Giant, Reds, Cardinals, Phillies and Rangers, he won 43 games, saved 172, finished 379 games, had a 3.39 career ERA, walked 366 and struck out 728 in 859 1/3 innings.
I got to know The Cowboy very well during his three years with the Reds and there was never a more stand-up guy. Win, lose or draw, he was at his locker after the game to discuss the few failures as well as the many successes.
Congratulations, Cowboy. Well-deserved.
SHORTSTOP ZACK COZART is still wearing the cumbersome looking black contraption that is a brace, but said Wednesday he hopes the brace comes off Saturday, “And I can do some hitting and some baseball stuff.
“Most of the swelling and pain is gone, but I can’t quite straighten my arm — almost, but not quite. This brace prohibits movement and I’m supposed to get another one this weekend that will permit some movement.”
PAUL JANISH had three hits in his first game back from Class AAA Louisville Monday, but was not in Tuesday’s lineup. He was back in the lineup Wednesday.
“It’s only one game, but he seems more aggressive and more confidence and confidence is what this game is all about,” said Baker.
And Baker’s endorsement of Yonder Alonso as a left field was tepid, at best. Asked how much he had improved, Baker said, “He’s OK. But he needs some work. We’ll see. And everybody can’t play left field. Chris Heisey will get the majority of the time.
“It’s a matter of speed and range for Alonso,” Baker added. “Hey, he is a first baseman who can back up Joey Votto and he gives me another left-handed bat off the bench, which we needed. We know he can hit.”
THE SUBJECT of umpiring came up in Baker’s pre-game office, specifically the blown call at home plate Monday night in Atlanta, when home plate umpire Jerry Meals called Atlanta’s Julio Lugo safe at home plate, when he was clearly out, to end the game in the 19th inning, a 4-3 Braves win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Baker was asked if that is another example of why instant replay might help umpires and he said, “Yeah, if they can get the camera angles right. A camera angle can fool you, too. And if they can do it quickly. The do it now on home runs and it just takes too long.”
That discussion evolved into balls and strikes calls and how different umpires have different strike zones.
“Hank Aaron always told us you have to put the umpire into your equation on every at-bat,” he said. “Most guys these days don’t do that. You have tall umpires with high strike zones and short umpires with low strike zones. You have umpires who call outside pitches strikes and you have umpire who won’t call a player out on strike three.”
Baker said it was easier when there were different sets of umpires for the National League and the American League. Now all umpires do both leagues.
“You don’t see the same crews as much as you used to, so you don’t get to know them as well. It’s late July and we had a crew recently we hadn’t seen all year. You don’t hardly ever see the same crews very often.”Tweet