This series should have represented the end of the current road trip, but instead the Fish will play three against the Reds and then head out west to play two in Denver.
Earlier this week I sat down with Mr. Red to discuss the upcoming series.
: Welcome back to FishStripes, Mr. Red. We're really happy to have you here again. I know that it's been a difficult time for you.
: Yes, it really, truly has been. And just so that your readers don't mis-interpret that, as much as I'm disappointed in the Reds onfield performance, I've been having a rough go of it away from the game. A very close personal friend of mine, someone you're probably familiar with - as he's pretty famous, has been going through a difficult rehab. Honestly, it's too painful for me to talk about, but I can share some video.
Enough of that talk though. Let's talk baseball. I hear the Marlins have some new names and faces in their bullpen. Will we get to see Jason Vargas this weekend?
: Indeed you will. And actually, Vargas will get a start (on Saturday or Sunday). Because of that, you probably won't see him coming out of the pen.
There are probably a handful of reasons for that, with the most important being that the Fish are in the midst of a 21-games in 20-day stretch. Because of that, they'll need an extra starter (not just five) at least once during this stretch. Mixing in Vargas over the weekend solves part of that issue. I thought they'd wait to do something like that for the doubleheader in Denver, but I guess they can't wait that long.
: Yeah - on the one hand you'd want to avoid working someone like Vargas unnecessarily in Denver. There's no sense in shaking a young man's confidence in that thin air. But, as you all know, Great American Ballpark - especially with the Reds lineup - isn't much better. These Reds can hit.
: They absolutely can. And I'm a little surprised. One the one hand, the emergence of Felipe Lopez has been a nice surprise for the Reds. But on the other hand, some known entities like Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn have produced like folks expected them to (despite how we here at this site wrote Griffey off earlier in the year - hi Mike!). What surprises me with them is that I thought either Dunn or Griffey would have been traded. Didn't you think at least one of them would be on the move?
: Honestly, I did. But it was such an unusual trading market this year. Everyone was a buyer and hardly anyone was a seller. That made it difficult for the Reds to get what they thought was fair value in return.
Also, Dunn and Griffey would have been easier to move, but that likely wasn't the right move for the Reds. Since so few folks will see this, I feel comfortable saying it here (but if anyone calls me on it, I'll deny it): Sean Casey is the piece that needs to go. The Reds have plenty of outfield bats, but they're not getting any production from their first baseman. By moving Casey (or more likely, simply cutting ties with him) they could free up a spot in the lineup that would help to alleviate the log jam in the outfield. That's unrealistic and not likely to actually happen, but it's one of the many things that needs to be done to get this team back on course.
: As well as Griffey has played of late, it would have made sense - at least to me - to trade him now. The Reds owe him a fortune and his value is (was - up to the deadline) about as high as it's ever going to be again.
Last question: can you give us the name of one Red who we probably haven't heard about, but who we should know?
: That's easy: Brian Shackleford. Not only does he have a great name (unless it gives you an ugly NBA flashback), he's been an effective arm out of the pen recently. He's a 28-year old rookie (and I know how some of you like stories like that). So far this year he's appeared in just over one dozen games and has an ERA below 1. It's tough to argue with that.
Plus, at least for his first outing, the Marilns have never seen him before, so that should work in his favor.
: Thanks for your time, Mr. Red.