Last season, cincinnati reds Owner Phil Castellini”mockedReds fans after an offseason that saw them turn a team that barely missed the playoffs into an Oakland A-style stinky big loser that upset everyone who supported the team. His signature line, the one that will follow him to hell, was pretty wicked:
“Well, where are you going to go?” Castellini said. “Let’s start there. Sell the equipment to whom? … What would you do with this team to make it more profitable, earn more money and compete more?”
It wasn’t some sort of “unmasking” moment for bullshit owners like him and it’s only by the grace of his generosity (a My dear A net worth of $400 million on equipment valued at just over a billion) that his brain didn’t have the ability to massage the impulse that fired through his amygdala, giving us a very clear target of who’s the enemy.
That being said, if you’re just trying to put together a winning baseball team (and, yes, I’m keeping in mind that the front offices aren’t some innocent “oh fuck” here, they’re all about exploiting children and stealing salaries from their league players minor and like little weasels hide behind a veneer of civilized behavior known as “analysis”), then this self-conscious bunch of crap makes the job a bit more difficult not only in terms of the financial constraints imposed, but also by public perception. , which might not show up in an algorithm, but let’s at least recognize that a community behind a team through good times and bad can be a very powerful force.
Castellini ended the relationship when he said, “Fuck you, I’ve got mine.”
I’m pointing all this out because, oh my gosh, the hurdles the Cincinnati Reds have had to overcome to be, maybe, he history of the major league season (outside of Shohei Ohtani, the tampa bay raysand the atrocious strike zone fails against the San Francisco Giants). Exciting international signings, drafted rookies, guys traded into those Castellini-imposed salary dumps? It’s all there.
Of course, the story is Elly De La Cruz, a 21-year-old switch-hitting third baseman and shortstop who has dazzled and delighted in just 33 major league games. He has done the unlikely and the unlikely in just over 40 days of MLB service time:
Reds before De La Cruz call-up: 4.6 runs per game (60 games). After his call: 5.4 runs per game (34 games). 15 of his 41 hits are extra-base hits (9 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs) and he’s slashing .297/.333/.478. He’s also 16-for-18 in stolen bases, so he’ll be a huge stressor on the Giants’ defense.
Facing the Reds at the Great American Ballpark often feels like a worse nightmare than the games at Coors Field. The Reds won the season series 4-2 last year and the Giants won it 6-1 in 2021, but since 2013, the Reds are 6-2-1 against the Giants. They’ve tried to pay the oranges and blacks as much as possible for everything that happened in 2012. All that said, this is a four-game series, which means our week will be busy with the Reds’ youngsters; and, historically, as much as it feels bad to play the Reds in Cincinnati, the Giants haven’t lost a four-game series at Great American Ballpark … yet. The last time the Giants lost a four-game series in Cincinnati was 1996.
And yes, there’s more to it than Elly De La Cruz (113 OPS+). They’re getting great production from most of their lineup: 1B- Spencer Steer (119 OPS+), SS- Matt McCain (128), LF- Will Benson (131), CF- TJ Friedl (114), RF- Jake Fraley ( 119). Joey Votto also returned from an extended stint on the disabled list and is hitting .234/.351/.600 with 7 home runs in 77 PA (20 games).
Also, new to this series, another top prospect: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (#BayAreaTies).
The third baseman, first baseman, right fielder has 20 home runs in 67 games for Triple-A Louisville this season along with a .331/.405/.637 line. That 33:69 BB:K suggests some swing and miss, but it’s a legitimate power threat in a lineup of power threats atop a stadium music box. I swallow and yikes.
They are ninth in the MLB for runs scored on the season, and as of June 1, they are third (second in the National League). the Giants check in at 12th and 15th, respectively, so you can see they’ll really need to score some runs this week.
In theory, that shouldn’t be a problem. The Reds’ pitching staff has been slightly below midfield on the season thanks to wins above replacement FanGraphs, and as of June 1 they rank 24th in the MLB (the Giants they are sixth since June 1). Graham Ashcraft is something of a flamethrower ace (averaging 96 with his cutter and 97 with his sinker), but his 79 ERA+ is well below league average. The true flamethrower of him Hunter Greene is on the disabled list, leaving Ben Lively as his top starter who has pitched the most innings (127 ERA+ on 55.2 IP); but like everything else with the Reds these days, they have some youth in them.
A pair of rookie lefties, Andrew Abbot and Brandon Williamson, have a combined 4.11 ERA in 94.1 IP (18 starts) with an 89-35 K-BB … but also 16 home runs allowed. These guys are going to score the series, and if you’re a longtime Giants fan, you know they’re basically going to be shutouts against the Giants.
His real heist sounds a lot like the Pirates situation the team faced: Alexis Diaz is a dynamo. His 1.99 ERA accompanies a 1.8 fWAR: he’s been better than Camilo Doval so far this season and he’s downright obnoxious. If the Giants are trailing when he enters the game, imagine it will take a Rube Goldberg-style series of events to turn the game in his favor. Otherwise, and this holds true for the rotation as well, Reds pitchers (former giant Derek Law among them!) are either flirting or have consummated a 5.00 FIP. They have some good ERAs, but the walks, strikeouts and home runs suggest they’re hittable (except Diaz! He has a 2.23 FIP).
They are 6-6 in July and actually have a worse home record on the season (23-24, -33 run differential). The Giants are 6-5 in July and have a great road record (26-19, +50 run differential). __________________________________________________________________________________________________
WHO: San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds
Where: Great American Baseball Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
When: Monday (4:10 p.m. PT), Tuesday (4:10 p.m. PT), Wednesday (4:10 p.m. PT), Thursday (9:35 a.m. PT)
National emissions: Monday: MLB Network simulcast
Monday: Logan Webb vs. Brandon Williamson
Tuesday: Anthony DeSclafani vs. Luke Weaver
Wednesday: TBD vs. Gordon Ashcraft
Thursday: TBD vs. Andrew Abbott
where are you standing
Record: 50-44, 2nd in the NL Central
Run Differential: -14, 11th in National League
postseason position: 2 games behind third wild card, 2 games out of division
Impulse: 4 game losing streak; 5-5 in their last 10 games
Record: 52-41, 3rd in NL West
Run Differential: +39, 2nd in the National League
postseason position: +0.5 in Wild Card, 1.5 games out of division
Impulse: 5 game winning streak; 6-4 in their last 10 games
reds to see
Elly de la Cruz: uh obviously.
Joey Vote: Hey, this is Joey Votto.
T. J. Friedl: I will be Anthony DiComo experiencing Patrick Bailey for the first time when Friedl attacks the Giants this week. I have no idea who he is or what he does, but he is a solid defensive center fielder with an .808 OPS.
Will Benson: The Reds acquired him last offseason for Steve Hajjar and Justin Boyd. The 25-year-old rookie left-handed hitter is hitting .287/.392/.484 with a 21-for-35 BB-K and is 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts.
giants to see
Logan Webb: I’ve mentioned their home and away splits this season in previous previews, but here it is again:
LOCAL: 2.02 ERA (62.1 IP)
PATH: 4.42 ERA (63.2 IP)
He pitched six shutout innings at the Great American Ballpark in 2021, but everything went swimmingly that season. Perfection hasn’t been the case this season, but it will still be a critical start for the team’s ace (who has pitched like an ace for most of this season) as they try to get through this 11-game, 4-city road trip. journey.
Miguel Comfort: He hit 4 home runs in 15 games, which means he’s in for one in this series, I think. Also, since June 1, he has hit .233/.316/.350 with 2 home runs. He’s picked it up since July began (9 games): .294/.351/.412 with one of those 2 home runs. Let’s see if four games in Cincinnati trigger a pitch sequence.
Patrick Bailey/Blake Sabol: Bailey may have passed enough tests to tell us and the baseball world that he is a boy but now he faces the flavor of the week in Elly De La Cruz and the Reds’ running attack (113 stolen bases). They will have to hit and field to the best of their abilities.
Casey Schmitt: With the Giants scheduled to face two left-handed starters and the park very forgiving to hitters, let’s see if Schmitt can capitalize on this opportunity.
Brandon Crawford: Great American Ballpark is one of Crawford’s top six home run venues: Oracle (56), Coors (15), Petco (10), Chase (6), Dodger Stadium (6), Great American Ballpark (6). This will be his last trip. Do you have one or two…? or three more on it? Lost one the other night in Pittsburgh. This park rewards warning crawlers.
**Post edited to add “Split Series” to the poll and correction of the Giants’ standing in the NL West at the start of the day, Monday, July 17.