Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Big Red Cash Machine

Over the last 2+ weeks, no team has been a bigger cash cow than Dusty Baker's rambunctious youngsters.

This team is finally starting to swing the lumber, but more than anything, the starters are learning to put up a ZERO in the first inning. It didn't help that Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang and Johnny Cueto were all in the bottom-5 in the National League in opponents' batting average the first time through the order. Still, Cueto seems to finally be healthy, at long last, after battling lower back issues for the bulk of Summer, Aaron Harang is out for the year, so that takes care of him, and Bronson Arroyo seems to be sharing eyedrops with Big Papi.

The Reds are an incredible 11-4 in their last 15 games, with their biggest loss coming as a -115 favorite. If it wasn't immediately evident, that means they've been dogs in a heck of a lot of those games, and for good reason! This was a team that was getting stepped on, and I really thought Dusty was staring down the barrel of unemployment when he suddenly got things going. Dusty has a few names he's adding to his Christmas list, headed by tonight's starter, Homer Bailey.
Homer Bailey is finally starting to put the pieces together, after being heralded as the biggest cheese in the Reds' Minor League system for years. Bailey had given up 5 runs in 3 of 4 starts in early August, then the afterburners turned on. Since an 8-5 loss to Tim Lincecum on August 18, Bailey has gone 4-1, including 8 shutout innings against the Dodgers (a team that has absolutely annihilated the Reds in recent years) and 7 shutout frames against the offensive machine in Florida.

New outfielder Drew Stubbs has been solid, if not spectacular, coming up with a walkoff homer in only his second Major League game; Joey Votto, a model of consistency all year, lost his stroke in August but found it in September; Scott Rolen has 20 RBI in 36 games with his new team, and how about the marginal pitching of Kip Wells?

When all is said and done, if you had played a single unit on the Reds over their recent 11-4 stretch, you would be rolling in a money bin of 8.90 units. Yes, that's 7 games over .500 for almost 9 units. That just tells you how many underdog winners this team has been posting, and tonight they open against an apathetic, playoff-bound Cardinals squad that should, thanks to sheer popularity, make the Reds underdogs in all 3 games of this series.

Is it smart to blindly back a team? Absolutely not. But is it smart to take calculated gambles on a team that is winning over two-thirds of their games? It just might be. Let's see how Cincy does over this final week, and re-evaluate!

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