Petco Park has got to be one of the best places to watch a ballgame in this country, not named Great American Ballpark.
Nestled within the buildings on the south side of downtown San Diego, the home of the Padres was just a few blocks from the hotel my newlywed wife and I were staying at for our week out west. We walked through the Gaslamp District (San Diego’s OTR) to get to it and entered on the north side. There, greeting you as if you were to begin some sort of maze, were three choices.
You could either veer right to ride an escalator up to the main concourse, you could go left and tour through the Padres’ Hall of Fame, or you could split the difference and check out the left field terrace. Being the huge baseball nerd that I am, my wife and I entered the Hall of Fame.
Comparatively, the Padres’ Hall of Fame is much smaller than the Reds’. In fact, the entirety of it is, essentially, the first room that you come to in the Reds’ Hall of Fame. In the middle of the circular room there are replicas of team memorabilia while on the wall is a timeline that begins with the founding of the franchise and leads to now. Even had stuff about Ken Caminiti in there, to the chagrin of steroid era detractors, I’m sure.
When you exit the Hall of Fame, it spits you right back out to where you must again pick a fork in the road. With it being Tuesday, the Padres have a killer Taco Tuesday promo: $2.50 tacos, all throughout the park. So, we walked up to the left field terrace and grabbed a couple of carnitas tacos. I’m no food critic, but I do love food, and these tacos were phenomenal. We then got back to navigating the park, which isn’t a continuous circle, like Great American. The entrance we came in would be like if you came in at Gapper’s Alley in GABP and on one side you went straight to left field, and nowhere else, while the other side led you to the rest of the park.
The main concourse was packed with food and drink vendors. There were a lot of options, including tri-tip steak sandwiches and tacos. You may or may not be aware of tri-tip, but basically it is a tender cut of steak that they sell out west, and it is quite good. So, with a tri-tip sandwich and a Giant Killer (a special adult beverage for their series with San Francisco) in tow, we made our way to our seats, down the third base line.
Side note: I’m a Hawaiian shirt guy…yeah, I see you rolling your eyes…and there aren’t that many of those around Cincinnati. Decided to wear one to the Padres game, and I was not alone. At Petco, if you aren’t wearing a jersey, you’re wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and that is a scientific fact. Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled post.
The Padres’ Clayton Richard and the Giants’ Dereck Rodriguez were in the midst of a pitcher’s duel, so we decided to go explore some more. Petco doesn’t have one long bar with numerous taps, but what it does have are multiple one-off vendors with their own taps. Places like Coronado Brewing Co., Mission Brewery, and even a brewery called Pizza, each had their own cart pouring beer from the tap. I got the “Guava Islander” from Coronado Brewing Co. and it was decent.
On the upper concourse is an area like the Fioptics District at Great American. It has panoramic views of the bay and the skyline while also giving you a good view of the game. The area is on top of the Western Metal Supply Co., by the left field foul pole. Had it’s own bar with hot dogs and stuff on the menu. Good place to catch a game, supposing the ticket prices are the same as the Fioptics District.
Overall, the game atmosphere was slightly different from Great American. I don’t recall there being an organ, or there might have been a slightly more electronically sounding one, if any. The feeling was a little more innocuous compared to Great American. The game day staff do a really good job, here in Cincy, keeping the crowd engaged and Petco just seemed slightly more hands-off, even though their rivals were in town.
I still love my home away from home away from home in Great American, but seeing another ballpark kind of has me itching to go to others. Might just end up writing about them here, at Locked on Reds, too.
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The Cincinnati Reds and the 20 Pitch Limit
When it comes to quirky early Cactus League season games, there’s a lot to know. One this is the 20-pitch limit a manager can invoke on an inning his guy is getting clobbered in. The Cincinnati Reds have already done this.
This Spring has seen an interesting beginning in that teams have smaller rosters than normal (though still plenty of players to go around) and they can choose to play shorter games. One other added wrinkle of differentness is the ability of a manager to “throw in the towel” whenever his pitcher reaches 20 pitches in an inning.
The Reds have already taken advantage of this twice, both during the beat down at the hands of the Athletics. Sal Romano got the curtain pulled on him in the fourth inning while Shane Carl heard the music in the fifth. These don’t necessarily paint a larger picture, as of yet, but it is interesting to note.
Carle doesn’t factor into the equation that is the Opening Day roster, but Big Sal surely does. He is out of minor league options (meaning he’d have to clear waivers to be assigned a minor league team) and he has shown some flashes of talent in the past. He could be valuable depth for the Reds bullpen, so calling it quits after 20 tosses (which frankly were all a consequence of Nick Senzel misplaying a ball early in the inning) doesn’t mean he’s out, but it is something to watch.
We’ll keep track here on the blog for more 20-pitch tap-outs.
Cincinnati Reds Roster Breakdown: Non Roster Invitees
Let’s take a look at the non-roster invitees trying to make the Cincinnati Reds roster during this Spring Training
WELCOME BAAAAAAACK! The Reds kick off the 2021 season on Sunday with their first spring training game. As I do each spring training, I am going to take a look at the non roster invitees (NRI) and how they could impact the team this season.
R.J. Alaniz, Matt Ball, Cam Bedrosian, Jesse Biddle, Shane Carle, Josh Osich, Branden Shipley, Bo Takahashi
You might recognize a couple of these names. Alaniz has been around the organization the past couple of years and pitched 11.2 innings with the Reds in 2019. Biddle was a guy who was around last year, but the others are new. Carle (76.1 in), Osich (206.1 in), Shipley (100 in) have experience in the show with moderate results. Cam Bedrosian is the name to know here. The fact that he was signed on with a minor league deal is surprising. 277.2 innings with a 3.70 ERA has been a solid MLB pitcher. 2019 batters hit .207/.283/.336 and in 2020 they hit .196/.276/.255. His spin rate is gritty darn good honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a minor league deal that really is a promise on the roster. Think Jose Iglesias who was also a NRI a couple years back. This allows the Reds to delay their decision on making a 40 man roster move.
For a team that lost Rasiel Iglesias, Bradley, maybe Antone and Lorenzen to the rotation, Bedrosian will have a chance to really earn a legit role with this team. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a scenario where Shipley or Carle get innings this year.
Bittle and Osich are lefties that would have battled for the other LHP spot in the pen, but the signing of Doolittle bumps them to depth roles.
A 33 year old catcher with 37 at bats and a career .108 avg. Id say that there is not much to see here. Stephenson and Tucker are the one two punch and the offseason addition of Deivy Grullon will provide a younger depth option with a higher upside than Gale.
Cheslor Cuthbert, Dee Strange-Gordon (not listed on Reds roster yet)
Cuthbert isn’t a household name, but he does have over 1,000 at bats in the MLB. He had a decent season in ’16 with the Royals batting .274/.318/.413 and 12 HR, but he hasn’t shown enough to be a full time MLB player. Corner infield depth.
Here’s where I stand on Dee….If he is here to battle for a utility role, that’s fine with me. If he is here to be some variation of an answer at SS, we are in trouble. A 32 year old poor defender (who on the Reds isn’t at this point) who doesn’t have any power and doesn’t get on base. Yeah, he has stolen some bases. We all know speed is one of the first things to go when you age, and he still has some jump, but I don’t think it’s game changing speed at this point, and it’s useless unless he’s on base. I’m not high on Strange Gordan making an impact.
Nicky Delmonico, Tyler Naquin, Dwight Smith
I was worried about the Reds outfield depth. It’s a sneaky need, especially of Aquino doesn’t bounce back. This group of NRI is a group I am excited about. All have MLB experience and have had their moments. Delmonico had a nice (small sample size) rookie year with the White Sox in 2017, but has been worse each year since then. It’s the other two that catch my eye.
Dwight Smith has shown he has some pop in his bat. He is the type of player that you want to have in AAA ready to fill in if needed. Tyler Naquin is a guy I think could actually contribute to this team. We know 2020 was a small sample size, but look at the hard hit and exit velo. And his outfield jump/Outs above avg. fit in well with the team that doesn’t seem to care about defense.
He had a great rookie year in ’16, and has had moments since. .288/.325/.467 10 HR 19 2B in 2019 would be a good bench bat. The question is…is he better than Aquino/Heineman/Payton? Him and Payton are the two leftieis of the group. At the very least, I think he is great organizational depth, and I think his floor is a higher floor than the group listed above (maybe Aquino can make me eat crow there)
This list is different than most years. Not as many players listed, and no prospects. The number of players at Spring Training will be smaller than years past. Overall, I think theres 2-3 guys who could earn a role on the Reds 2021 roster.
Monday Morning Manager: The Snell Effect
David Bell has many things he needs to go right in order to win games and get a contract extension. One thing he can control is a decision-making process that should not be made entirely analytically.
In case you lived under a rock last year (and that might be Truer than in any other year) then you know how the World Series went down with the Rays falling to the Dodgers. You may even know about Blake Snell’s improbable removal from Game Six when he was absolutely on fire. This is something David Bell cannot mess up in 2021.
Ok, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m talking about the correct managing of the bullpen and rotation in pressure situations. Most people will look at the Game Six managing of Kevin Cash and see two things: a man sticking to his system that got him there and a man over-thinking things. Neither thoughts are incorrect.
In this day and age of baseball, most people understand statistical evaluations on pitchers favoring removing a starter before they pitch to the opposing lineup for the third time in a game. Well, maybe, because the numbers are a bit different in 2020, small sample size, and all. In fact, the Reds pitching staff held opponents to a .599 OPS in 253 plate appearances the third time through the order, last year. That may be a smoke screen, though, as the 2019 Reds pitching staff (largely similar to 2020) allowed an OPS of .892 in 799 PA. That’s a bit of a more reliable sample size, which would leave me to believe a starter pitching a third time through the order isn’t the most favorable idea.
Also something David Bell must consider is the overthinking aspect. In this Player’s Tribune post by the man, Blake Snell, himself, he points out the immense effect that simply seeing someone warming up in the bullpen had on him. Now, you can say “Well, that shouldn’t have been an issue, he should have sucked it up and pitched!” The dude is a human being. If you saw the person management was likely to replace you with if you messed something up at your job, are you going to just keep on keeping on with no thought to look over your shoulder? If you are, you might be a Jedi. Most of us mere mortals have problems with worrying about what might happen if things fall apart. Baseball players are not totally immune to this, either.
In order for Bell to garner a contract extension, he will have to adeptly manage a pitching staff that has talent, but also has human egos. Just because the numbers say that a decision should go one way, the human element must also be factored in. Last I checked, theres no button for that on a calculator, which leaves it up to his own decision-making skill.