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  • Caesar Cliffius

    My name is Cliff Eastham. I live in West Virginia with my wife Debbie, the loveliest lady in the world, and my youngest daughter, Holly who is equally as lovely as her mother.

    I enjoy writing about sports, and love a good healthy debate. My favorite teams are the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Redskins.

    There are only a couple of sports that I don't write about, Hockey and Soccer specifically. My favorite sports are Baseball, Boxing, NFL, NCAA Basketball, MMA.

    Feel free to look around, and your comments are most welcome. Subscribe via email if you wish.

    It is decreed.....Caesar Cliffius
    this 8th day of December, in the Year of our Lord 2009.

NY Mets’ Shorstop Jose Reyes to the Cincinnati Reds?

Reds fans listen up! How would you like to have Jose Reyes as the shortstop? I thought that would get your attention.

The RedsReporter reported that the Reds are in talks with the New York Mets concerning Reyes. If you click on the link they provide it takes you to the movie “Psyche” website. It took me three clicks to realize they were playing a joke in all probability. However, it did commence my thinking process.

Reyes is still very young, 26 and is coming off a year of injuries. He only played in 36 games and still managed to bat .279. If he has rebounded at all from his injury, can you imagine what an impact he could make on this team?

A bona fide thief, he lead the National League in stolen bases for three consecutive years. He isn’t priced in the Cadillac lot, yet. According to ESPN his salary last year was a shade over $6M. That isn’t even as much as we wasted on Ramon Hernandez last season.

It is hard to imagine what they would want in return, but I could name at least three outfielders who I would be willing to part with. With Reyes in the yard,  it wouldn’t be difficult at all to let Willy Taveras hit the bricks. Reyes could be a better leadoff hitter, and certainly more aggressive on the paths.

Even in dreams we can become excited during the offseason. What an outstanding infield Reyes would complete. He and Scott Rolen on the left side with Brandon Phillips at second base, and of course Joey Votto at first. That would compete with just about any squad in the Biggies.

It is hard to imagine the Mets having a more dismal year than the Reds, but that was clearly the case in 2009.  Cincinnati actually won eight more games than the injury-plagued Mets, so shakeups should be in store for them.

If you dream it you can believe it. If you believe it you can achieve it. Or something like that. Dream hard, Reds fans, dream hard.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.

Cincinnati Reds Report Cards: Jay Bruce

When Jay Bruce came up from Louisville in 2008 he showed shades of brilliance. He reminded me in a small way of Mickey Mantle. He certainly had the strikeouts down pat.

After settling down, he showed no further signs of greatness last season.

In 2009 his power revealed itself on the major league level. He had 15 home runs before Memorial Day and looked like he was set for a 40/HR year.

His average bottomed and we see now a true .240 hitter with excellent power.

He had three games of multiple homers, the highlight of the season for him coming on Sept. 29th in a home game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Bruce hit two round-trippers and knocked in five runs.

He was on the Disabled List from July 11 until Sept. 14 with a broken wrist.

Bruce is a better-than-average outfielder, with range enough to play center field in a pinch. He possesses a very strong throwing arm, throwing out 11 runners.

His base running is nothing spectacular, and can be made to look foolish when swinging at bad pitches.

Here are his 2009 statistics:

AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS+ RISP
345 47 77 22 58 .223 .303 .470 100 .229

Jay only appeared in 101 games in 2009, just seven less than the year before. With short seasons it is hard to get a good read on what he can really do.

He blends in well with this young team and should be a force to reckon with in years to come. This season, however, I have to hand him a C-, the home runs being the only thing keeping him from a D.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

My Baseball Christmas List

What do I want for Christmas? A million bucks in small bills. I realize that is not going to show up under my tree, so let me think again.

Oh yeah, how about a wish-list, baseball style. Yes, that’s it!

First, I would like to see Roy Halladay end up with the Cincinnati Reds this offseason. Probably won’t happen, but I didn’t think I was going to get that “fanner 50” toy pistol when I was a kid either.

Next, I think I would like to hear the great Randy Johnson say that the time has come to say “that is enough”. He has been my favorite pitcher since Tommy John and I can’t stand too much more of the 4+ ERA and nearly as many losses as wins. He won his 300th and then some, there is really nothing left to prove. He is second in the universe in strikeouts and nobody will ever catch him.

I would like to see Jim Thome sent to a team where he can DH regularly. He is now sitting at 564 lifetime home runs, and i feel like one good year would put him over the top into the 600 club, assuring him of a place in the Hall of Fame.

I would like to see the following players retire immediately: John Smoltz, Tom Glavine (I know he didn’t play anywhere last season, but he hasn’t officially hung them up yet), Ken Griffey, Jr (I know he has already decided to stay, but that is a big mistake), Jason Giambi, Jamie Moyer, and Omar Vizquel (He just signed a deal with the White Sox, but I still want to see him go). These guys are ruining their statistics by hanging on, not to mention their legacy.

I would like to see the Molina Brothers learn acrobatics and call themselves the Flyin’ Molina Brothers. They could travel with a circus during the offseason.

I wish Evan Longoria would change his name to Evan Longoria-Parker.

I wish people would stop calling the Florida Marlins the “Fish”. That sounds so degrading, it would be like calling a prestidigitator a “Magician”.

I would like to see ALL sports announcers cease using the term “a buck sixty-five” or whatever for describing someones anemic batting average or incredible earned run average. Please, just stop them. It was cool 10 years ago, let us find a new catch phrase and move on.

I am asking this way in advance, but I would like to see at least one 20-game winner next season. Just one, please.

I don’t know who fulfills these wishes or what channels I need to go through, but they all seem like small requests to me. So, let’s all wish real strong that the grantor of Christmas wishes sees these and responds in a positive manner.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

Cincinnati Reds Report Cards: Willy Taveras

This is the sixth installment of the grading of the starters for the Cincinnati Reds’ 2009 performances.

Willy Taveras is my biggest disappointment of the Reds’ acquisitions last season. He came in as the reigning National League stolen base champ with 68.

This season, he “tentatively” stole only 25 bases and finished a dismal ninth in the league. Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros was the league’s most prolific thief this year with 61.

When a player’s OBP doesn’t equal a real good batting average, something is wrong. A .275 OBP is a notch or two below anemic. His .240 average was a career low as well.

He missed 34 games in August and September while spending time on the disabled list.

His disappointing season is another terrible return on our money—$2.25 M basically poured down the drain. He did not perform as the table setter most of us expected him to be. He ran “cautiously” at best, rarely attempting to steal, appearing as though he was unable to get a read on the pitcher.

Prior to coming to the Queen City, Taveras was a respectable .283 career hitter. He only scored 56 runs and collected 97 hits. His OPS+ was a microscopic 48. That isn’t a typo; there are only two digits in the number.

His defense was adequate, but again, not up to expectations. In all, it was just a miserable season for the 27-year-old Dominican.

If Walt Jocketty and the other Muckety Mucks think Willy is a bona fide center fielder that will lead us anywhere but the lower portion of the Central Division, he is on the Chinese pipe.

Look at these statistics he posted in 2009:

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG SB OBP SLG OPS OPS+
404 56 97 11 2 1 15 .240 25 .275 .285 .559 48

Unfortunately, Willy ends the year with a weak D.

Next up: Jay Bruce

Willy Taveras


Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist for the Cincinnati Reds at Bleacher Report, where this article was first published.

Vada Pinson: The Most Underrated Baseball Player Ever

I have seen players come and go.  I’ve watched them during their first game and was still alive when they retired.

Some players are fortunate in that they receive accolades for what they do.

Others are not quite as lucky, laboring in the vineyard year after year, without much appreciation or love.

Vada Pinson was such a man.

I am not a romanticist, so I don’t want to make Pinson out to be bigger in death than he was in life.

I do, however, think the man should have been given more respect and props than he actually received.

I am a Cincinnati fan, always have been.  I use to watch games on TV and listened to all of the games, with Waite Hoyt drinkin’ Hudepohl’s and announcing the games.

I remember the teams back in the sixties very well.  I remember Crosley Field with a great deal of fondness.  Her terraces in the outfield in place of warning tracks, was a unique sight.  Pinson played that terrace as well as anybody whoever attempted it.

Pinson was 19 years old when he broke into the big leagues on Apr. 15, 1958, with the Cincinnati Reds.  Gus Bell was their starting center fielder, so Pinson had to watch for a little while, appearing in only 27 games.

Pinson got a break in 1959 when Frank Robinson moved from left field to first base.  Jerry Lynch moved to left, and Bell went to right, leaving Pinson to patrol center field.  He played every game that year.

During that full campaign, Pinson batted .316 with 20 HRs and 84 RBI.  He also had 205 hits and led the league in runs scored with 131, doubles with 47, plate appearances with 706 and 648 official ABs.

Pinson was honored that year by being selected to the National League All-Star team. He was also chosen to play in the Midsummer Classic in 1960. That would be the end of the accolades for Pinson.  He did manage to be awarded with a Gold Glove 1n 1961, when the Reds won the pennant.

In his 18-year career, Pinson batted over .300 four times.  He had more than 200 hits four different times, twice leading the league in that category.  He led the league in doubles twice, and in triples on two different occasions.

Pinson smashed 20 HRs or more seven times, and he knocked in more than 100 runs twice.

The closest he came to a Most Valuable Player Award was in 1961 when he led the league with 208 hits.  Pinson finished third in the voting that year.

Am I making a push for the Hall of Fame for Vada Pinson?  No, I am not saying he was that good, but I will say there are many enshrined there with stats that will not stand as tall as his.

Robinson, Vada’s teammate at Cincinnati for eight years, until Robby was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, has gone so far as to say Pinson should have been elected to the Hall of Fame.

I don’t think Pinson has had his fair share of praise over the years.

He hit 256 HRs during his career, along with 1170 RBI.  Pinson got 2,757 hits, scored 1366 runs, and batted .286.

Pinson’s 162 game averages for his career are 17 HRs, 77 RBI.  He averaged 180 hits and 90 runs.

He was also a very good base runner, stealing 20 or more nine times.  His career high in stolen bases is 32.  He was in the 20/20 club five times.

A splendid career by a man who did his job everyday, put up some great numbers and has two All-Star selections to show for it.

Underrated? You tell me.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report