The MLB All-Star ballots are live! This seems later than normal, but I think that is better as the players have had time to settle into their routines and fans can make informed decisions.
Unless, like me, you vote a straight-team ballot. That’s right, I voted all Reds in the National League, even though only one (Scooter Gennett) should be a starter, and maybe one or two (Eugenio Suarez and maybe Joey Votto) should be reserves. But I’m a Reds fan through-and-through, and they all get my support at All-Star time.
In the American League, however, I took a closer look at the stats. Here’s how my starting lineup looks in the AL:
Sure, Zack Cozart is a homer pick. I want him to get another donkey. And I avoided Yankees because they’re Yankees. Other than that, I think it’s a pretty solid lineup. Shoehei Ohtani needs to be used as both a DH and a pitcher somehow.
What do your ballots look like?
We didn’t expect much, really. The front office’s inexplicable refusal to bolster the pitching staff during the offseason, even with quality pitchers available, let fans know that 2018 would be a lost cause. There are a lot of promising young arms, but little experience. The sad truth is that the offense is strong enough to compete, but the pitchers can’t keep the score close enough. Through the first seven games, opponents have already scored 44 runs.
Cincinnati won their second game of the season last night, thanks in large part to one of my favorite players on the team, Eugenio Suarez.
Suarez is a fun player to watch, and has really blossomed as a part of the Reds’ infield. He finished last season with a 3.2 WAR, swatting 26 home runs and driving in 82 runs. I thought he had a real shot at the All-Star Game last year, but the Reds were kind of terrible and the powers that be probably couldn’t justify putting three Cincinnati guys on the roster. Maybe this year will be his year. He hit his second homer of 2018 last night, and drove in five runs in the Reds’ 7-4 victory over the Bucs.
I made a custom design last night during some downtime. I like the way it turned out, but don’t think I would make a full set with this design. It would look better as a limited insert I think. If I actually made physical copies, I would probably want a textured front, similar to the Upper Deck Masterpieces set. So I played a little with a texture filter, and voilà…
Let me know what you think. I’ll probably play around with several different custom designs this year, unless something really screams at me.
When I returned to work after a brief getaway a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see a package from Patrick in my mailbox. Patrick and I trade stacks of cards from time to time, and I have given him several baseball books over the past few years after I have finished reading them. But we did not have anything set up for a trade right now, so the fact he left me a package blindsided me. More than that, what was inside that package left me absolutely speechless. I have since regained my ability to speak, and it is way past time to show off these goodies on the blog.
First up is the complete 2016 Topps Mini Reds set…
Topps recruited Rick Moranis to shrink both series 1 and 2. I believe these cards are the same dimensions as the 1975 minis, but I don’t have a ’75 card to compare them to. According to information online, there were only 1000 complete sets made.
Pretty good way to start the package, but there were some bigger surprises inside…
That, folks, is the complete 15-card set of Reds from Topps NOW “Road to Opening Day.” These were available for a limited time during Spring Training last year, and only 52 sets were made for Reds fans. Thanks to this post-vacation surprise package, I am the proud owner of one of those 52 sets.
My favorite photo from the “Road to Opening Day” set is an easy choice:
Eugenio Suarez, who the Reds practically stole from the Tigers for the Big Pasta a few years ago. Look at the size of that bubble. That’s what baseball is all about, my friends. This dude has fun on the field and had a great season last year. I can’t wait to see him in the All-Star Game in July.
But wait, there’s more…
The complete 5-card set of Topps Now “Players Weekend” cards, featuring photos from the weekend of August 25-27, 2017. Surprisingly, the date is not found on these cards. Only 103 sets were made for Reds fans. The players representing the Reds in the Topps NOW series were Joey Votto (“Tokki 2”), Zack Cozart (“Coach”), Billy Hamilton (“Bone”), Scooter Gennett (“Ryan”), Adam Duvall (“Duvy”). I loved the uniforms they wore, but wasn’t crazy about the nicknames on the back.
How about that for a surprise package? A complete set of 2016 Topps Mini Reds, 2017 Topps NOW “Road to Opening Day,” and 2017 Topps NOW “Players Weekend” cards. But wait…
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What you see above is nearly every 2017 Topps NOW card featuring a Reds player. Eighteen cards, from the superstars like Votto and Hamilton to the rookies like Rookie Davis, Stuart Turner, and Amir Garrett. I was completely floored by these cards.
My favorite Topps NOW card, and perhaps one of my all-time favorite cards, is this right here:
Cozart with his All-Star donkey, given to him by Votto after Cozart was selected by the fans to start the 2017 All-Star Game at shortstop. I’m going to miss Cozart in Cincinnati this year, and I hope he has a phenomenal season with the Angels.
Patrick, my friend, thank you so much for these cards. I may no longer be speechless, but I am appreciate of your generosity and grateful for your friendship.
When Zack Cozart went down with a season-ending injury in June, he was likely on his way to his first career All-Star berth. The Reds called upon second-year player Eugenio Suarez, who was acquired from Detroit Tigers in the Alfredo Simon deal. Suarez exceeded all expectations and promises to make spring training 2016 very interesting at the shortstop position. He has 12 home runs and 45 RBI, along with a .285 batting average, but his glove is not quite as solid as Cozart’s. To have two young shortstops with strong skills is an enviable position in baseball.
Thursday was an active day in baseball with several high-profile players changing teams, including Matt Kemp and Yoenis Cespedes. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds did not land either of those sluggers to fill the emptiness that is left field. Despite failing to address the biggest need on the team, Walt Jocketty traded starting pitchers Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, picking up four youngsters from the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers in exchange.
Eugenio Suarez, Jonathon Crawford, Anthony DeSclafani, Chad Wallach are the newest members of the Reds organization. Crawford was Detroit’s first-round draft pick in 2013 and posted a 2.85 ERA in 23 starts for the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2014. Wallach has baseball in his blood; his father is Tim Wallach, the five-time All-Star third baseman.
Thanks to TWJ contributor Patrick for whipping up these awesome customs. Hopefully the Reds continue to wheel and deal without “going all in” by sending Johnny Cueto packing.