Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati Reds’

Now Pitching For The Cincinnati Reds…

Some might argue that Homer Bailey doesn’t deserve a “Now Pitching For…” post; after all, it is an honor typically reserved for prospects who are just arriving on the major league scene, not ones who appeared in nine games and pitched 45.3 innings in 2007.  

When I saw that the Reds were calling Bailey up to make a start on Thursday, however, doing this post was the first thing that popped into my head.  Though he had that big league experience a year ago, he started 2008 with Louisville (AAA-International League), where control problems kept him from advancing sooner.  Even now, it doesn’t exactly sound like Dusty Baker and Company are excited to have him in Cincinnati.  MiLB.com’s Mark Sheldon noted the difference between Bailey’s 2007 and 2008 arrivals:

When Bailey was first set to debut in 2007, he was heralded as a potential savior for a struggling team. With his 2008 debut nearing, Bailey is just Thursday’s pitcher, as Reds manager Dusty Baker didn’t exactly offer heaps of praise when asked about the timing of the call up.

“Well, I don’t know if it was timing,” Baker said Monday. “Sometimes, there’s necessity. How many other guys do we have on the [40-man] roster? Anybody else we’d have to put on the roster.”

Sounds like they’re really expecting a lot out of the kid in the near future.

This was mentioned in a previous post on Jay Bruce, but can you imagine what the Reds will look like in a year or two if the young starting pitching pans out?  We’re talking about a rotation of Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo.  Couple that with the promising young lineup, and Reds fans might have reason to be optimistic.

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Breaking News: Jay Bruce Is Good At Baseball

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee. – Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction (1994)

Yes, I realize that Jay Bruce has played but six games at the major league level.  Yes, I realize that the only players with higher or equal slugging percentages over their first six career games are Mike Jacobs, Craig Wilson, Sam Horn, and Mitchell Page.  Yes, I realize that he will not hit .591 for the entire season.

But hot damn, The Deal is off to quite the start, isn’t he? 

I first thought about writing this post the other day, following Bruce’s hot start in the first two games of the year.  Then I looked closer at the stats and thought to myself, “An 0-3 in his third game?  No homeruns?  Not as impressive as I thought.

Apparently, and I of course did not know this at the time, Jay Bruce can read minds, and my thoughts displeased him.  He responded by hitting his first major league homerun a day or two later – not just any homerun, either, but a walkoff that beat the Braves in the tenth inning – and added another four-bagger on Sunday in a 6-2 Reds win.

This is why we nicknamed this kid The Deal (although at the rate he’s going, he might have three or four more by the time he’s done).

(Oh, and what’s the deal with that Pulp Fiction quote up top?  Tell me it’s not fun to imagine Bruce saying that to the catcher every time he comes up to bat.)

I’m Happy…No, I’m Sad…No, I’m Happy…No, I’m –

In two weeks, I was planning to make the two hour trip down to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to see the Red Sox take on the Louisville Bats.  Though I’m a Red Sox fan and would welcome the chance to see youngsters like Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson for a far more reasonable price than a trip to Fenway, this trip wasn’t about them.  This trip was to be my best chance to see The Deal, Jay Bruce, the number one baseball playing prospect in the world, in action.

Alas, the Reds were not on my side.  The team announced today that Bruce will be recalled from Louisville in time for Tuesday’s game against the Pirates.  He had been crushing International League pitching, posting a .364 batting average, 10 homeruns and 37 runs batted in this season. 

Where Bruce will play when he arrives in Cincinnati is still up in the air.  I always thought he projected as a centerfielder in the majors, but apparently the good folks in the Reds front office do not share that assessment and see him as a long term solution at one of the corner outfield slots.  Problem is, those positions are currently occupied by Ken Griffey, Jr., who won’t be going anywhere at least until he hits his 600th career homerun (and probably not even then – he would need to approve any trade), and Adam Dunn, who is working on a fifth consecutive 40-homer season.  So, if The Deal is gonna see any playing time, any at all, it will probably be in center…provided he can unseat the Hall of Fame-bound duo of Corey Patterson and Ryan Freel.

I hadn’t realized this previously, but the Reds have some serious potential in the next couple of years.  A lineup featuring Bruce, Dunn, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips?  A rotation featuring Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Homer Bailey?  Careful, Reds fans – brighter days might be on the horizon.

And you know what?  All is not lost – Clay Buchholz is still on a rehab assignment in Pawtucket…

Meet Jay Bruce, Give Him a Nickname, Win a Book

If there’s one thing I know about our readership, it is that you-all are very, very curious about Jay Bruce. As central HQ for Jay Bruce worship on the web, we’ve decided to help you out. This feature will tell you everything we can glean from the vast wine-dark seas of Internetia, so we can all anticipate what the pundits will be talking about when Jay is inevitably called up within the next week or two.

Name: Jay Bruce

Hometown: Beaumont, TX

Birthdate: April 3, 1987

High School: West Brook High (2nd team HS All-American)

Parent Club: Cincinnati Reds

Position: Outfielder

Uniform Number: 32

Draft: Jay was the 12th pick in the 2005 First-year player draft. He was in good company, as that draft also netted current MLB stars Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, and Ryans Braun and Zimmerman. He signed his minor-league contract on December 5th of that same year, but managed to get in 54 games of Rookie ball, split between the Gulf Coast League Reds and the Billings Mustangs.

2006 brought the first full season of Minor League action for Bruce, as he logged 117 games with the Dayton Dragons, considered to be one of the top minor-league ventures in the nation. The then-nineteen-year-old put up strong stats, batting .291, plating 69 runs and 80 RBIS, and swiping 19 bags. He flashed a little bit of power, belting 16 round-trippers and legging out 42 doubles.

That performance landed him in A+, to start 2007 with the Sarasota Reds of the Florida State League. In 67 games there, he hit .325 with a balanced 49 runs and RBIs, and thus began what we like to call “The Great Leap Forward”. Bruce nabbed a cup of coffee with the AA Chattanooga Lookouts (a mere 16 games) before trotting on up to Lousville and the triple-A (almost) big time, courtesy of his stellar 1057 OPS.

Lousiville has been Bruce’s home since then, despite a spring training look-see that left nobody doubting that the kid could play in the bigs. But thanks to that silly money-grubbing salary arbitration dance, he sits in Louisville until the equation tilts in his (and the fan’s) favor. He is currently hitting .352 with seven homers and an equal number of stolen bases. His OPS is 991.

Now for the trickiest question we get. “When will Jay Bruce be called up?”. Obviously, we don’t know. The parent club is in the NL Central cellar with a .452 win percentage. It’s still early, and they’re only 6.5 games out of first right now. The Reds’ outfield is full of players who are old, ineffective, or sometimes manage to be both. There have been Ken Griffey, Jr. trade rumors, and some would happily see Cory Patterson and his .235 average swap places with Bruce outright. One thing’s for sure. If Bruce has to spend another whole year in the minors, we might as well remove the rocks from Dusty Baker’s head and insert a nice flower arrangement to pretty the place up.

With all of that said, there’s just one more order of business to take care of before we send our boy off to The Show. He needs a good nickname. Simply having two first names is not enough. We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comment field. We’ll form a panel of me, OMDQ, and a couple of our baseball-loving blogger friends, and choose the best one. The best nicknamer will win a copy of the Baseball Field Guide, which I reviewed recently. It’s a great in-depth illustrated guide to the complete rules of the game from Da Capo Press.

Fire away!

Is Jay Bruce Gonna Go Bats To Start The Season?

Last fall, Eric and I spent some time on here talking up Jay Bruce, the 20-year-old Cincinnati Reds prospect who lit up three minor league levels in 2007 (26 homeruns, 89 runs batted in, .319 batting average, .962 OPS, 46 doubles in 133 games).  In the early stages of spring training this year, Bruce seemed to have the inside track on Cincinnati’s centerfield job, but that might have changed with today’s news that the team has signed Corey Patterson to a minor league deal:

Patterson will join Norris Hopper, Ryan Freel and top prospect Jay Bruce to battle for the vacant starting spot in center.

The Patterson signing could put a dent in Bruce’s chances. The 20-year-old is currently day-to-day with a mildly strained left quadriceps muscle.

“It just adds to the competition we have,” Krivsky said. “It’s a chance to compete, that’s all. There are no guarantees for either one.”

Mildly strained or not, my (largely uneducated) guess is that Bruce’s quad lands him in Triple-A Louisville to start the season, if only because it will give Dusty Baker an excuse to utilize a veteran player with whom he already has some familiarity.

The closest International League team to me is Pawtucket, which originally had me excited because the Bats and PawSox play a four-game series in mid-April.  Unfortunately, it’s @ Louisville, so even if Bruce begins the season in the minors, I probably won’t have a chance to see him play. 

Pair of veterans added to camp (Reds.com)