Nice win today over the Red Sox, with several encouraging signs. Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce homered. Jonny Gomes hit a grand slam. Micah Owings had another solid outing.

I’m really excited to see Gomes this year. I have a feeling he’s going to have a breakout year, and his power could really help this offense in 2009.

Slyde says that “[t]he Reds opened up a can of HAVOC on the Red Sox this afternoon.” Heh. I’m not sure that’s the type of HAVOC Walt and Dusty were talking about during the off-season.

14 Responses

  1. BenL

    Hopper has a handful of hits so far. Does anyone know if he’s bunting on base or what?

  2. Y-City Jim

    What was Owings’ pitch count? I think his outing was the longest by anyone this spring and some are concerned he might have been pushed a little too hard coming off the shoulder issues.

  3. Y-City Jim

    Are John Fay and Hal McCoy the same person? Their Reds articles are essentially clones of each other every single day. Maybe Fay thinks if he copies McCoy he can be inducted into the sportswriters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  4. Matt WI

    “What was Owings’ pitch count? I think his outing was the longest by anyone this spring and some are concerned he might have been pushed a little too hard coming off the shoulder issues.”

    According to the Sheldon article on cincinntireds.com Owings threw a total of 51 pitches for 32 strikes. They had him on a 50 pitch limit, and he had only thrown 35 through the end of three innings, thus they let him start the fourth before Burton came in.

  5. Steve Price

    Hopper can only bunt. I saw him play for a year.

    He has a role…in AAA and in emergency situations.

    His OBP was almost nearly higher than his SLP his last year in Louisville….and he doesn’t even draw walks….

    He’s not a leadoff hitter….leadoff hitters need to be able to get themselves into scoring position with at least doubles power, so they can drive people home, too.

    Hopper batting 8th is a real plus, by the way, for the very reason I just mentioned….

    At least he doesn’t strike out much. and he can play some defense…I guess that makes him “better” than Dunn.

  6. BenL

    I disagree. Yes, Hopper can only bunt. But he does it really well. No one could keep him off base in 2007. Remember, we’re comparing him to Willy Taveras who also has no power. I’m not saying that he solves all this teams problems, but he certainly deserves a look as the lead off hitter this year.

    Finally, I don’t know who said he was better than Dunn. I must have missed that.

  7. Steve Price

    The DUnn comment was a joke about strikeouts and defense.

    But, Hopper is a spare part…he doesn’t contribute enough to the offense. As a pinch hitter, as a 5th outfielder, as a pinch runner….frankly, he’s Ed Armbrister, if we need to compare players….and Armbrister wasn’t going to start on any quality big league team.

    Comparing him to Tavares is like when my wife compares our family to the “nanny” lady on tv…I told her if we’re comparing ourselves to those families, we’ve got a lot more problems than I thought we did.

    (note to all…never accept a free paid invitation to a show like the Jerry Springer show, whether he’s from Cincinnati or not…it’s only going to be bad news)

    As for defensing Hopper, everyone knows the story now. He may have the least amount of power I’ve ever seen.

    IN fact, bAseball Prospectus projects him to have a .330 OBP and a .324 SLP (654 OPS)….his SLP is lower than his OBP.

    Good lead off hitters have enough power to drive in runs…another part of our offense that seems to go missing…somebody has to be good enough to drive in the bottom of the order. That’s why Freel wasn’t a good leadoff hitter either, and another reason Taveras won’t be.

    Batting 8th is cool by me, if he has to play…pitcher bunts, top of the order drives them in. But having two-3 spots from 7-8-9-1, is just too many plate appearances before somebody gets them home. The 1970 Reds suffered for not having good 7-8-9 hitters. Rose only drove home 52 that year (82 in 1969) because Helms/Concepcion/Woodward/Chaney couldn’t get on base. Rose had enough power (at that time) to drive in runners from the bottom of the order.

  8. BenL

    Steve – I think we mostly agree. I’m just saying that by your definition we have no good lead off hitter. Someone has to bat first this year. Hopper is very possibly the best choice.

    Also, I don’t put much stock in the projections for Hopper. He’s a unique player in that he bunts for base hits so effectively. Some say his abnormally high BABIP in 2007 was the result of luck, but it’s quite possibly his bunting ability/speed. On the other hand, he was hurt all last year. Who knows what kind of shape he’s in. I’m just glad that he’s getting some playing time in spring training so we can see whether he’s a viable option for the lead off spot or not.

  9. Steve Price

    Jeff Keppinger is probably the best leadoff hitter we have right now, and his position is 2b (Not 3b or ss). If Phillips moved to ss, we’d have a leadoff hitter and a better defender at shortstop, which is more important than 2b.

    However, Dusty would never bat a player like Keppinger leadoff since he has no speed. He’s not Wade Boggs, but he would be a similar type leadoff guy.

    Some have said Dunn would have been a good # 2 hitter…I disagree because of his lack of content. I would have used his power and obp to bat 3rd….my second choice would have been cleanup, and third choice…leadoff.

    my ideal lineup for this team:

    vs. righties

    Keppinger 2b
    Dickerson LF
    Votto 1b
    Encarnacion 3b
    Bruce RF
    Phillips ss
    Hernandez C
    Tavares cf

    vs. lefties
    Keppinger 2b
    Bruce rf
    Phillips ss
    Encarnacion 3b
    Gomes LF
    Votto 1b
    Hernandez C
    Hopper cf

  10. Steve Price

    Food for thought…

    I wonder if fans like players like Freel and Hopper over players like Dunn, because Dunn simply brought brute strength to the game, while we feel that Freel and Hopper are “smarter” and seem to play a “headier” type of game…yes, Freel has the hustle thing, too, but I think there’s a bias against strict power hitters because we feel it’s not a “practiced skill,” and it’s perceived to be a poor work ethic because they don’t “work at” getting the bat on the ball more often.

    All I can say to that is my 9 year old hits a 40 mph pitch much better than I do, no matter how many times I try…

  11. BenL

    Steve – That’s all very reasonable. Like Hopper, with Keppinger it’s not clear what we have, though. Keppinger 2007 was a stud, but if I had to choose between Keppinger 2008 and Hopper 2007 as our lead off hitter, I’ll take Hopper every time. And that’s part of what spring training is for: seeing what we have.

    And just so I don’t get a bad rap around here I’m going to state is explicitly: I would MUCH RATHER have Dunn in left field than Hopper or any of the other options 🙂

    Regarding fan psychology: I also find myself very interested in Hopper and Freel type players, even though my rational mind knows that Dunn is better for the team. I think part of it is that they’re my size. There is the illusion that I could be Norris Hopper if I worked really hard at it. There isn’t enough HGH in the world to make me into Adam Dunn.

    It’s very American to prefer a person who works hard to one with natural ability. A European friend of mine once told me that where he was from it would be immodest to tell someone else how hard you’ve been working to achieve some goal. In contrast, in the US it’s immodest to claim you got there without hard work. Anyway, I’m getting off topic, but I always found that comment interesting…

  12. Matt WI

    Love the idea of Keppinger at leadoff. We’ll see what Tavares brings, but it’s an interesting idea.

  13. RiverCity Redleg

    Pete Rose worked pretty well at leadoff for the Reds at one time.