UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after spending three days in Salisbury, N.C. at the National Sports Media Association Awards weekend. It is a great weekend because Salisbury is the only city in America that loves sports writers and they treat us like the kings we wish our wives thought we were.
THE CLOCK IS ticking on Jay Bruce, listen closely and you might hear the whisper of the alarm going off. A trade is near.
More and more scouts from the other major league teams are stalking the Reds and there certainly is no reason for them to follow the Reds other than to be wolves sniffing at the chicken coop door.
AND IT WILL BE a sad day for me when the deed is done. Jay Bruceis one of my favorites and not just as a player but as a first class citizen.
Few players who have accomplished so much has caught as much grief from the fans as Jay Bruce. And he took it. Not once has he complained about the venom sometimes aimed his way. In fact, he once said during one of his batting funks, “I’d boo, too. I’m embarrassed by the way I’ve played.”
And whether he goes 4 for 4 with a couple of home runs and five RBI or whether he goes 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, or whether the Reds win or the Reds lose, Bruce is at his dressing cubicle after every game ready to greet and meet the media to dissect what just happened.
IN ADDITION, HIS personality and his demeanor never change. One can’t tell from his attitude if he struck out with the bases loaded to end a game or whether he hit a grand slam home run to win the game.
But in addition to being the national pastime, baseball is a nation business and it is big business. The bank vault counts as much to the front office as much as the pennant race.
The Reds are undergoing their own Reconstruction Act and based on the contracts they’ve given they plan to rebuild around Joey Votto as the position player and Homer Bailey as the pitcher.
Bruce, who has had some very good years, some All-Star years, is having his best season ever. And there is not even a hint of one of his prolonged plunges into the slump abyss.
HE IS YOUNG ENOUGH that he could be a player to keep, one of the keepers around whom the team can rebuild. But when his current contract expires, he’ll become unaffordable to the Reds. That’s financial reality. And there are teams out there willing to take on that financial responsibility.
Enjoy what Bruce is doing because it won’t be long before Reds fan won’t enjoy it when Bruce comes back to do it to his old team.
WHAT ANTHONY DeSCLAFANI and Raisel Iglesias did Tuesday night to the Texas Rangers was a one-day glimpse of what might have been for the Reds.
The Texas Rangers may be the best American League team. They had won seven straight games, they had won 24 of their last 30, they had won 10 straight series (11 straight at home), they were 21 games over .500 and were in first place by 9 ½ games.
They were facing Colby Lewis, who was 6-and-0 and in his previous start took a perfect game into the eighth inning and a no-hitter into the ninth against the Oakland A’s.
But DeSclafani, who was supposed to be the Opening Day starter, made only his third start of the season due to his pesky oblique injury, locked up the Rangers like a Yale padlock. Over seven innings he held them to two runs and five hits, walking only one and striking out six.
It was a glimpse of what might have been.
Raisel Iglesias, who made the Opening Day start and then lapsed onto a lengthy stay on the disabled list due to a shoulder impingement, returned Tuesday night as a bullpen operative and followed DeSclafani with two scoreless innings in the 8-2 victory.
It, too, was a glimpse of what might have been.
MICHAEL LORENZEN IS EXPECTED to return to the bullpen tonight against the Rangers after missing the entire first half with a spring training arm problem followed by mononucleosis.
With him in the bullpen with Iglesias, all those first-half bullpen miseries might disappear.
It will be a glimpse of what might have been.
This isn’t to say that the Reds would be chugging at the heels of the Chicago Cubs. But with a stable pitching staff and a lineup that performed the way it did Tuesday against the Rangers, well, perhaps they wouldn’t be lodged firmly in last place. Perhaps they would be ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and maybe even ahead of the suddenly moribund Pittsburgh Pirates.
But, alas, we’ll never know. What fans might see, though, is a much-improved performance in the second half. Homer Bailey will be back in July and pitcher Robert Stephenson’s re-appearance can’t be far away.
Bruce gave the scouts two eyes-full Tuesday with his three hits, including a first-inning three-run home run and an opposite field double against the shift.
Alas, he probably won’t be part of any second half resurgence.