it's Q+A day here at VEB. blake hawksworth this morning; this afternoon JD Arney, who writes SB Nation's cincinnati reds blog, Red Reporter. this week's series is the biggest one for the reds in several years, and in truth the same could be said for the cardinals, who in each of the previous two years were runaway division leaders by the time august rolled around. st louis hasn't played a meaningful regular-season series this late in the year since (gulp) 2003 . . . . .
the reds have scored 6 or more runs in 5 of their 8 previous meetings vs the cardinals; jeff weaver has allowed 6 or more runs in half his starts. i guess that makes him the perfect guy for the series opener. a good performance by him tonight will probably punch anthony reyes' ticket back to memphis . . . .
leave that discussion for another time. per miklasz, miles is playing shortstop tonight; eckstein has an unspecified personal matter to attend to. belliard's batting leadoff . . . . and here's JD's take on the state of the reds; head on over to Red Reporter for his questions of me, and my responses, about the 2006 cardinals.
The Reds' season has come to be defined by The Trade. You've had about a month to live with it now; does it feel better / worse / the same as when it first went down?
I feel worse, which is tough because I felt pretty damn bad when it went down. Majewski has been a terrible reliever for the Reds (he singlehandely lost the game yesterday against the Braves), and it's pretty clear that he's been overworked the past two years. I'd be shocked if he's not hurt. [Ed. note: he is; the reds put him on the DL today.] The trade also brought Royce Clayton, who now starts at shortstop despite being one of the worst position players in baseball. Bill Bray is good, but the trade was absolutely terrible and I don't think it's ever going to look any better.
Cincinnati played .600 ball for the 1st 60 games and briefly took sole possession of 1st place on June 8. Since then, they're 21-30. What's more responsible for the change: weaker hitting, or weaker pitching?
I could probably look this up and actually give you an informed answer, but I'll just go from the gut and say weaker hitting, combined with some pretty bad relief pitching. The starting pitching has been solid all year, but the offense has taken a big nosedive since Krivsky traded away Kearns and Lopez. The Reds have also gotten career years out of Brandon Phillips and Dave Ross, and both have come back to earth in recent weeks.
How do you feel about Narron as a manager --- his strengths, his weaknesses?
I didn't mind him coming into the year, but he's worn on me. He makes pretty bad in-game decisions, doesn't seem to know how to manage his bullpen (i.e. bringing in Majewski last night in the 8th inning of a 4-2 game, despite Majewski having had numerous problems in the past few weeks), and prefers veterans to a fault. Edwin Encarnacion is a great young player, but he sits most days in favor of Rich Aurilia, despite Aurilia being able to play every infield position. I'm a believer that managers can't do a lot to help a team win, but they can do a lot to make a team lose and I think Narron is doing the latter.
It's late, the score is tied -- which Red setup guy do you most want to see on the mound? And which Cardinal setup guy are you licking your chops to face?
At this point probably Bill Bray. The Reds bullpen has theoretically gotten a lot better since the All Star break, but I still don't have a lot of confidence in most of the relievers.
The Cards strike me as having a relatively good bullpen (I really hate that the Reds let Josh Hancock go for nothing), but if I had to choose I'd probably say Randy Flores. He seems to let a lot of guys reach base. For tonight, I wouldn't be opposed to just scrapping the reliever idea and letting Jeff Weaver stay in the game.
Pujols multiple choice: a) issue IBB whenever there's an open base; b) pitch to him, but throw slop and try to get him to chase, give him the BB if he takes it; c) go right after him, try to get him out
I don't think it's a good idea to IBB walk anyone when the situation doesn't call for it. Even the best hitters still make an out well over half the time, but that being said I wouldn't give Pujols anything to hit either. He's an amazing player, and it's tough not to see the Cardinals being competitive for as long as he's playing in St. Louis.