Favorite Teams: Yankees, Reds, Jets, Knicks, Blue Jackets
Favorite Bourbons: Eagle Rare and Woodford
Favorite Books: "The Power Broker" and "The Worst Team Money Could Buy"
Follow me on Twitter @NYBredCincyRed
It’s difficult to say that an early-May game against the Pirates is a make or break game for anyone, especially a 24-year-old in just his third season whose previous season’s success made him a fan favorite.
However if you were to look at Mike Leake’s season so far, and couple that with a pitcher waiting in the wings, fan expectations and the club’s aspiration of a division title, then it seems much more reasonable.
To say Leake has been bad this year would be an understatement: 0-3, 6.65 ERA, 29 hits in 21 innings (12 H/9), and while he never really was a strike out pitcher, he’s averaging just 3.7 Ks per 9 innings, which is pedestrian.
If you were to delve a little deeper into more advanced stats, you would be horrified: his ERA+ sits at 59 (the league average is set at 100, and the higher the number the better). While he’s throwing his fastball at nearly the same rate he was last season (35% in ’11 to 36% in ’12), he’s been throwing his changeup much more than in the past while holding back on his slider (only thrown 7% of the time, compared to 15% in ’10 and ’11). Even though he’s favoring his changeup, it’s actually valued as his WORST pitch, one that is constantly smashed for extra base hits (which have also doubled so far in this young season).
This isn’t to say the Reds are or should be looking to release Leake. The kid still has a lot of talent, and can one day – hopefully – be a middle of the rotation starter.
However Dusty certainly hasn’t backed Leake – in the beginning of the year he wouldn’t even count him as a set piece in the rotation – and the emergence of Aroldis Chapman has the fans clamoring for a change. There was a time when Leake was thought of as both the present and the future of the Reds, but as of right now he might be better off taking time to work out his issues in the minors.
Chapman has been unhittable as a reliever (23 Ks in 13.1 innings, with a 5.75 K/BB ratio) but remember: he had shoulder issues in the spring, and a guy who throws that hard with that delivery needs to be handled with kid gloves. He hasn’t been stretched out yet either, as the original plan was for that to happen in spring training but was derailed by injuries. We all know that he’s more valuable as a starter than as a setup man, but he’s not going to put up those types of numbers in the rotation as he’ll have to slow down his fastball even more than he has already so he can go more than a few innings.
Leake needs to perform well enough tonight to at least buy himself some more time in the rotation, otherwise the Reds will probably look elsewhere. It’s early enough in the season not to give up on Leake, but you can’t fault the team – and the fans - for being impatient.
- This is truly a “Screw you, John” lineup today: Both Willie Harris and Wilson Valdez are playing for Rolen and Cozart, respectively. If there’s such a thing as “whelmed”, I’m that.
- It was nice of Dusty to only let either Cueto or Bailey pitch when I’m in town. Change makes me nervous, as I did actually faint when I saw lefties hitting back to back.
- Pay attention, kids: If you’re going to be a journalist and you want tattoos, don’t get them on your arms. It’s 90 degrees and humid here in Cincy today, and I have to wear a long sleeve shirt to at least give an appearance of looking credible. Remember: Legs, Back or Chest, or as I’d like to call them – LBCs.
- Again, press boxes are pretty boring before and during a game. However I’m attending a game for free, and the Reds staff treats everyone with both cordially and respectively.
- It’s going to be REALLY warm today; I already mentioned that it was 90 degrees at 11am, so expect it to be another one of those Cincinnati day games where pitchers tire early, fans are scarce and five thousand shots on Fox Sports Ohio of either kids eating ice cream or guys in wife beater t-shirts.
- Another tour group of high schoolers, another awkward moment as they stare at you typing. YEA, I’M TYPING ABOUT YOU.
Yep, that's a cake. Delicious success!
On Monday, Rajon Rondo was suspended for Game Two of the Celtics series against the Hawks after he bumped a referee during the waning moments of a game one loss. Rondo was called for a foul with 41 seconds remaining in the game, didn't particularly care for the call, and as we’ve seen before, made an ass of himself and cost his team dearly.
Rondo claimed that he tripped when he bumped into the ref, which is the real life equivalent of saying your Twitter account was hacked. He did something really stupid, and now he must face the consequences.
It’s a shame that Rondo has never been able to keep his head on par with his body, because at his best he’s one of the top three point guards in the league, one who can beat you either with an unstoppable drive to the basket or with a physics-defying pass to a wide open teammate. At his worst, he’s this.
I’m not comparing Rondo to Ron Artest (I refuse to call him that headline grabbing name), not yet. Artest has shown himself in the past to not only be a head case, but a danger to players, officials and fans alike. Rondo may have bumped a ref and can get into shoving matches, but it’s not quite at the level of starting a riot.
So is a one game suspension enough? Refs are not to be touched under any circumstances, no matter how egregious their calls may be. Rondo loses one game check and misses a playoff game, but I think the league missed a chance here to take a bigger stand.
In the past few years, the league has been cracking down on players actions after a call was made (or wasn’t made) by handing out technical at an alarming pace, and also implementing a system where the amount of technical you receive during a season determines the amount of the fines you pay and the number of games you’ll miss. The rule was instated so players like Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler and – a few years back – Rasheed Wallace would just shut up and play. While the system has its obvious flaws – just watch the Knicks – Heat series for an example of sensitive officiating – it still serves an important purpose of enforcing the official’s control of the game. What the official says, goes.
So when a player steps out of line to the point of physical contact, perhaps a harsher response is needed than just simply making him sit one game. Rondo, of course, didn’t assault the ref, but he did purposefully try to both intimidate and influence the official’s decision. Rondo isn’t bigger than the game, no matter how vast and superior his skill set may be.
My opinion? I believe Rondo should sit the rest of the series. The Celtics are good enough where one game – and the possibility of going down 0-2 in the series – doesn’t kill their postseason chances of advancing, and it doesn’t send a strong enough message to neither Rondo nor the rest of the league. While referees will infuriate us and the players until the end of time, they’re the law on the court and are the representatives of the league. If you don’t like what they say or do, play harder and take them out of the game.
Instead Rondo will only miss one game – one game check – and the Celtics will probably win the series anyway, and a month from now this will all be forgotten.