Dusty Baker isn’t looking to add youngsters to the mix

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The Reds are getting a .216/.311/.371 line from their left fielders and a .231/.282/.265 line from their shortstops, but manager Dusty Baker doesn’t think it makes sense to bring up Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier or Zack Cozart at the moment.

“We chose this team for a reason,” Baker told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay.  “That’s a very good Triple-A team down there. Whatever you do, it’s something with the guys who are here. You don’t pull the plug on those guys right now. It’s too early for that.”

Two months in doesn’t necessarily seem too early, especially with the Reds struggling lately and playing .500 ball overall.  Alonso is hitting .324/.381/.519 while playing mostly left field for Louisville.  Frazier, who was up for one day last month, is hitting .280/.362/.514.  He’s played mostly third base, but he’s started 12 games in left field when Alonso has played first base.  Cozart is batting .294/.336/.446 as the everyday shortstop.

Meanwhile, the Reds’ left fielders rank 13th among the NL’s 16 teams in OPS, while the team’s shortstops are dead last.

I’m not going to slam Baker here.  None of those Triple-A players are sure things, and if the Reds do decide to make a change in left field, they might well be better off just giving the job to Chris Heisey.  Cozart is a better hitter than Paul Janish, and there’s a good argument for giving him Edgar Renteria’s roster spot.  However, I wouldn’t count on him posting a .700 OPS in the majors and Janish is a terrific defender.

Since they play in the NL Central, the Reds can hold out for now.  Maybe they will consider changes in a couple of weeks if no one steps up in the left field mix and if Janish continues to slump.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.