OBSERVATIONS: Reds Should Try To Trade Montas And Candelario

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after a trip to the dentist and being told I need about $5,000 worth of bridge work. Is the guy going to put the Golden Gate Bridge in my mouth?

—TRADE BAIT: Baseball’s trade deadline is fast approaching and the question for the Cincinnati Reds is. . .buyers or sellers or status quo?

It should be self-evident that the Reds are too inconsistent to put on any kind of a charge toward the top of the National League Central, as weak as it is.

So they should be sellers and they have a couple of warm bodies that might help contending teams, especially with so many of them in desperate need of starting pitchers.

Anybody want Frankie Montas? He isn’t helping the Reds and he might help a contender. After winning his first two starts, Montas is 1-6 and his earned run average is a pedestrian 4.23.

The Reds are paying him $14 million with an option next year at $20 million. Do they need him next year? No, they don’t even need him this year and he could bring the Reds a couple of prospects.

With Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Andrew Abbott, Graham Ashcraft and Carson Spiers already up, the Reds have top-shelft prospects
Rhett Lowder and Chase Petty poised to join the rotation.

And it’s the same with infielder Jeimer Candelario, an expensive extra trinket being paid $13 million with a $19 million team option for next year.

Even without him, the infield is overcrowded with Noelvi Marte, Elly De La Cruz, Jonathan India, Matt McLain (when he returns from the injured list), Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand (when he returns next season).

There is even the perplexing question of what the Reds will or can do with India, a team leader and currently on a hitting rampage.

Stir into that mix Encarnacion-Strand and shortstop Edwin Arroyo for next season and it’s clear there should be no room at the inn for Candelario.

Surely, some contending team needs a bat and Candelario has, in spurts, shown he could help a team. . .but not one so full of youth and a team in another year of a seemingly never-ending rebuild.

—THE DAZZLERS: MLB-TV shows its top 50 ‘Plays of the Week’ every Sunday morning. And last week Stuart Fairchiled was all over the screen. . .two against him and one for him.

^^^No. 26 was St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Brendan Donovan making a long running catch on Santiago Espinal’s hard-hit line drive in the fifth inning with two on during Cincinnati’s 1-0 loss.

^^^No. 22 was Cardinals center fielder Dylan Carlson flagging down a Will Benson deep drive as Carlson banged the wall during Cincinnati’s 11-4 win.

^^^No. 17 was Cardinals right fielder Alec Burleson making a sliding catch on Spencer Steer’s fast-falling pop-up in the eighth inning with a runner on third and no outs during that same 1-0 Reds’ defeat.

^^^No. 11, which should have been No. 1, was Donovan leaping above the wall with two outs in the ninth inning to rob Fairchild of a game-tying home run in the 1-0 Cardinals win.

^^^No. 6 was Fairchild’s leaping catch above the wall to rob the Cardinals Paul Goldschmidt of a home run during Cincinnat’s 11-4 win.

^^^No. 1 was Boston center fielder Jarred Duran leaping above the center field wall in the ninth inning to rob Fairchild of a game-tying home run, preserving Boston’s 4-3 win.

Fairchild deserves an Emmy for so many appearances. . .or at least an ESPY.

—FIRST-TIMERS: How did they know Aaron Judge packed power, other than the fact he is slightly bigger than Paul Bunyan and the Jolly Green Giant at 6-7 and a muscled-packed 285 pounds?

Judge established what he was going to be during his first major league at bat. He hit a home run.

Hitting a home run in a first major league at bat might seem rare, but it has happened more than 140 times.

Johnny LeMaster’s first major league at bat was an inside-the-park home run for the San Francisco Giants. He hit only 21 more homers, all over the fence, during his 12-year career.

Brandon Crawford and Kevin Kouzmanoff hit grand slam home runs on their first major league at bats.

And Kouzmanoff did it on the first major league pitch he saw. Then he hit another home run in his second major league at bat in 2006 for the Cleveland Indians.

And here is a great one. John Miller hit a home run in his first MLB at bat and hit one on his last MLB at bat. . .the only two home runs of his career. Miller played only 32 games, six for the 1966 New York Yankees and 26 for the 1969 Los Angeles Dodgers.

—QUOTE: After eccentric pitcher Pedro Borbon got lit up one game, Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson told me, “He didn’t use every card in his deck, but I’ve always suspected his deck was a few cards short.”

—KNUCKLING DOWN: Oh, what the easy-on-the-arm knuckleball can do for you. Hall of Famer Phil Niekro (his nickname was Knucksie) won 212 games after he was 40 years old, all because the knuckleball puts no strain on the arm.

Knuckleballers like Niekro, Hoyt Wilhelm, Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough, R.A. Dickey and Wilbur Wood are rarities.

But remember Reds utility player Alex Blandino? Remeber when he was used a few times to pitch blowout games? Remember he threw a knuckleball?

He is trying to start over, from the bottom and hopefully get back up. The Reds drafted him No. 1 as an infielder and he didn’t pan out. But now he is back at Low-A Daytona, throwing his knuckleball as a pitcher.


From catcher Jason Varitek: “You know, catching the knuckleball is like trying to catch a fly with a chopstick.”

From catcher Bob Uecker: “The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up.”

From former outfielder Richie Hebner: “Hitting Phil Niekro’s knuckleball is like eating soup with a fork.”

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 69: And the music never steps and never ends.

The Wonder Of You (Elvis Presley), Kyrie (Mr. Mister), Oh, Carol (Neil Sedaka), Learning To Fly (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen), Mean, Evil Woman (ELO), Neon Moon (Brooks & Dunn).

Jack & Diane (John Mellencamp), Separate Ways (Journey), Missing You (John Waite), Save It For Me (The Four Seasons), In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins), Just What I Needed (The Cars).


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