32 days and counting. 32 days until Great American Ball Park is buzzing with fans waiting for the first game of the season. It has been a very long off-season. Every day feels like an eternity. Making it a little easier has been the MLB Network #FaceOftheMLB contest. Joey Votto is currently in the lead in the final round and it has given Reds fans something to talk about for a little while.
I’m not big on judging our team based on spring training games so our 2-4 record (I think that’s where we are) doesn’t concern me. What does concern me is the lack of difficult fly balls and such for Choo in CF so far. We need to see what ability he has before the season starts so I beg the teams we face to change it up a little. Make him work and work hard. After all, it’s better to know now that he can or cannot successfully play CF. My hope is that he’s at least passable because I want Bruce in RF.
That being said, stop begging for Hamilton to start the year in the big leagues. Get serious. The kid hasn’t played even half a season at CF yet. If we want him as our future CFer, he needs way more practice. He also needs more plate discipline. Give it time. He could be great, if we don’t rush him.
Going into this season, Xavier fans knew (or should have known) that it would most likely be a rebuilding year. We lost a lot between last year’s team and this year’s. The team has had some embarrassing losses (see the UC game) and some very close games. The players are young and trying to figure out their roles.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier has started conference play with a 3-0 record. With wins over Temple, George Washington, and St. Bonaventure, the Muskies are off to a decent start. They will be tested during conference play with the likes of VCU and Butler coming up, but their start is encouraging.
Brad Redford and Semaj Christon are pleasant surprises in their efficiency and at least make watching the team entertaining if nothing else. Fingers crossed the team chemistry keeps up.
The team is 10-6 overall which isn’t a terrible start, but definitely not what Xavier fans are used to. It is wayy too early to talk about the NCAA tournament. For now, let’s focus on La Salle on Saturday.
This week the Cincinnati Reds traded Drew Stubbs to the Cleveland Indians for Shin-Soo Choo. Also involved in the deal was Didi Gregorious (though he went to the Diamondbacks for T. Bauer). If you’ve followed this blog at all or my twitter account, you know I am a big fan of Drew Stubbs. Thus, I am not a fan of this trade.
Let me start out by saying this: I AM NOT A FAN OF DREW STUBBS JUST BECAUSE HE IS ATTRACTIVE.
Since I got that out of the way, let’s continue shall we? Yes, I realize that Stubbs’ offense has declined the last three years and that Choo is quite a bit better offensively. I understand how much fans have been clamoring for more offense coming from center. Drew has been working this off-season to change his swing and, hopefully, improve his at-bats. Yes, I know that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll come out and have an absolute blowout season.
I still stand by my decision that this isn’t a good deal for the Reds. Look at it logically for a moment if you will. The Reds gave up a proven defensive centerfielder and an MLB ready shortstop for a right fielder. I know what you’re thinking, Didi was blocked by Cozart. True, but what if Cozart gets hurt? Which player will fill in for him and actually be successful?
Choo is a right fielder. He has played 10 MLB games in center. What many people (Reds fans) have chosen to overlook again and again is just how good Stubbs was for us defensively. He made it look easy. How many times did you watch Stubbs jump and catch a homerun ball at the wall? How many times did you hear Marty say a ball was headed out to then hear him say “No! Stubbs has it!”? Defense should not be overlooked, but it has been. We now have Ludwick in left, Bruce excelling in right, and Choo. The consensus is that Walt and Dusty will try both Choo and Bruce in center in Spring Training and see who adjusts better. Really though, do you want to move Bruce from his comfort zone (and a zone he’s quite good at)?
One other thing that bothers me about this trade is that we gave up all that for a one year rental. Jocketty admitted it. We only want Choo for one year and by then he expects Hamilton to be ready. Lord help us if he’s not. Doesn’t that seem a bit rash to you? No? Well I guess we’ll see then.
Xavier rolled to their sixth win Saturday beating the Purdue Boilermakers 63-57. Semaj Christon had 25 points which led to him being named A-10 player of the week for the second week. Justin Martin continues to impress as well. Before the season started, I thought we’d have to endure a painful rebuilding year. After these first seven games, it seems that the year may not be so painful. The Musketeers have already defeated Butler and Purdue. Yes, there are many tests to come, but they may not be as impossible as once thought.
Next up, the Musketeers will face a floundering Vanderbilt team. One thing worth noting, the Musketeers are holding on to a 52% field goal percentage for sixth overall. If the Musketeers continue to shoot like this, who knows what the season will hold.
The Xavier Musketeers kicked off the 2012-2013 Men’s basketball season Friday evening against Fairleigh Dickinson. Both teams were short a few men (FDU held back 4 for disciplinary reasons & XU held Semaj Christon on the bench for an infected elbow), but Xavier came out ready to play.
As most fans are well aware, XU had one of the worst off-seasons in recent memory. They lost Tu Holloway to graduation, Mark Lyons transferred to Arizona, and Dez Wells was expelled. A few good things to note from this game: Dee Davis played a very complete game. He was picked as A-10 player of the week with 22 points and 15 assists. Davis has one of the harder jobs as he tries to take Tu Holloway’s former role. This first game was a great showing, but it will be interesting to see how he stands up against some of the better teams XU will be playing in the near future.
Brad Redford. I was lucky enough to see Redford play his freshman year. When he’s on, there is no stopping him. He showed on Friday that he is back to form after missing the 2010-2011 season because of knee surgery and failing to completely come back last year. He and Tu Holloway are probably equally matched when it comes to shooting free throws. Give Redford the ball beyond the arc and watch magic happen.
What does this mean for us fans? Well there are some positives. Friday showed that this team can actually function as a team. One of the worries heading into this season was how well these young players could communicate. I think they showed Friday that they are communicating just fine. This team can work together. The team also didn’t take it for granted that FDU would be an easy win. They came out and battled during the first half for 68 points. The final score (117-75) is encouraging because it means the team can score. Over the next few games we’ll see if the team can score against teams with a better perimeter defense.
That being said, we rush to our first challenge of the season when the Musketeers face Butler tomorrow at 4pm. Butler never trailed in their season-opener. These two teams are experiencing similar rebuilding years, although XU seems to have a farther road to travel.
In honor of #12 being back to form:
It is finally here. The start to college basketball. I earned my degree from Xavier University and it is something I will always cherish. As a student, I got free tickets to as many basketball games as I wanted (there was a long, complicated process but I usually managed to get a ticket). Being in the student section and rooting for the Musketeers was the most exhilarating feeling I had during college (minus graduation of course). Xavier is a relatively small school so it isn’t far-fetched to run into basketball players around campus. Most of the ones I met/knew were generally great guys. Others lived up to their reputations.
The atmosphere on campus during basketball season is nothing short of special. Everyone knows when there is a game (partially because parking gets ridiculous). Women’s basketball doesn’t get nearly the attention that men’s does which I found completely astonishing my junior year of college (we had T. Phillips and A. Harris, two of the best female players to come out of Xavier). Anyway, as usual the men’s team gets more recognition, even during down seasons.
As much as I love my Musketeers, all us fans must face a fact this season. This is a rebuilding season. We haven’t had one this bad for a long time. We lost Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Dez Wells and it won’t be easy coming back from that. Yes there was a stain on the team last year because of the Crosstown Shootout (and let’s face it, changing the name/venue is ridiculous and pointless). There were many things I had problems with about this “stain” on the team, but the truth is it affected the moral and derailed what started as a perfect season.
This year will be a year of rebuilding. There is a lot we fans will have to stomach in regards to our team not being as good as usual. We have some very talented players and it will be interesting to see how they adapt as the year continues, but it is foolish to expect the team to make a run in the NCAA Tournament this year. That being said, I’m ecstatic the season starts tonight. Let’s Go X!
Today the Reds announce that Dusty Baker got a two year contract extension. Twitter immediately exploded because I mean really, how can the Reds extend the only recent manager to take the Reds to the postseason twice in his career? How can the Reds bring back the manager who orchestrated a 97 win season? How can the Reds bring back the man who figured out how to win the first playoff game when Johnny Cueto left after 8 pitches?
You may not like Dusty, but the players do. The players love playing for him and isn’t that important? Joey said it, Ryan Ludwick said it, everyone has said it. They like playing for Dusty. Dusty is the definition of a player’s manager. He makes them work hard because they want to win for him.
Dusty isn’t perfect. He can be downright perplexing at times. The fifth inning of Game 5 will haunt fans all winter. Regardless, Dusty has the respect of the players. Look what he did for 48 games while Joey Votto was down. He figured out a lineup that put us ahead 8 games in the division. Without our MVP.He’s definitely not the worst option around for Reds manager.
While I’m at it, can we lay off the players? It hasn’t even been a week since their season ended. Stop predicting who will bat leadoff, stop hoping Hamilton will somehow gain YEARS of CF experience and challenge Stubbs for the position, stop griping about Frazier v. Rolen. Look at it from Dusty’s perspective. This team looks a hell of a lot better than many of us expected. Our pitching is getting nasty. We have a quality ace in Johnny Cueto, strong #2, #3, #4 pitchers in Latos, Arroyo, and Bailey. We have one of the best bullpens in baseball with Hoover, Marshall, Chapman, LeCure, and company. We have one of the best defensive teams in the league. Can we be positive for one second and look to the future?
Yesterday brought the end of the 2012 Reds season. It has been an up and down season for the Reds, but mostly up. They fought their way to 97 wins (99 if you include postseason) while overcoming more obstacles than I thought possible. Ryan Madson went down for the year with even pitching in a game for the Reds. Nick Masset and Bill Bray weren’t healthy this year. Chapman’s move to starter was put on hold to become the closer. Rolen had back issues for a few weeks. Joey Votto went out for a ridiculous 48 games.
Yet somehow, the Reds found ways to win. Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Homer Bailey especially came into their own as pitchers. Bronson Arroyo wasn’t far behind either. Todd Frazier was like a breath of fresh air when Rolen and Votto were down. No matter what adversity rose, the Reds found a way to beat it.
That trend continued into the postseason. We lost our ace after just 8 pitches with a mild oblique strain. Don’t worry, Sam Lecure pitched 2 innings of relief to give Mat Latos enough time to get warmed up. Mat then followed with 4 innings of masterful baseball. The Reds went on to beat the Giants that night. The following night, Bronson Arroyo put together a beauty to lead the Reds to a 9-0 win. Tuesday, the first home Reds game, Homer Bailey pitched a fantastic game. Unfortunately, the Reds would go on to lose that game as well as the next two to lose the series.
Yes, it is disappointing how the Reds season ended. But look at what the Reds did for us fans this year. They shrugged it of when their new closer went down. They adapted to line up changes throughout the year. They provided a glimmer and then beacon of hope that we just might make it to the postseason. This team thrived and it was evident in the way the team interacted with each other. There was a sense of comfortable easiness within the team. They get along very well and that improves their baseball.
On bad days, the Reds provided something to look forward to. On good days, they just added to the good. For 162 days, the Reds provided something for us fans to believe it. For that, I thank the whole Red team.