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Thread: Dusty favoring Hopper?

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    Dusty favoring Hopper?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_yl...yhoo&type=lgns

    Baker slow to warm to young Reds
    By Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
    Feb 21, 6:29 pm EST

    SARASOTA, Fla. – The response this spring has been almost Pavlovian. Every time the name of Jay Bruce surfaces in conversation – and with Bruce passing sliced bread and quickly approaching ice cream as the best thing ever in the prospect-mad baseball world, this happens quite often – Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker brings up another player: Norris Hopper.

    Baker likes Hopper, who is regarded throughout the game as a nice little player. That is baseball’s version of damning with faint praise, and considering that in the 3,753 at-bats as a professional Hopper has hit four home runs, it might even be kind. Bruce, on the other hand, is this year’s can’t-miss kid – a 6-foot-3, 210-pound power-hitting, BB-throwing, gilded-gloved center fielder with a track record so impressive that, well, any praise thrown his way ain’t faint.

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    So all eyes are converging on Baker. This is not new. He managed Barry Bonds, or at least was manager for Bonds’ first 10 seasons in San Francisco. He managed the Chicago Cubs through Steve Bartman and the three-year implosion that followed. Joining a team with as much young talent as Cincinnati – in addition to Bruce, the Reds have developed first baseman Joey Votto and pitchers Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey – means striking a balance between coddling and pushing.

    “I know what I’ve got to do,” Baker said Thursday, and while his .527 career winning percentage inspires confidence, his track record with young players is spotty enough to cause concern.

    In his 10 seasons with the Giants, Baker did not develop a single everyday player. The closest was Rich Aurilia. Three starting pitchers from the Giants’ organization stuck: Kirk Rueter, Russ Ortiz and Shawn Estes.

    With the Cubs, Baker oversaw the destruction of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood’s careers. He trotted them out for 130-pitch starts. Baker isn’t big into statistics, so he probably wasn’t aware that comprehensive studies on pitch counts show 130 is a young pitcher’s equivalent to a national threat level of red.

    Still, Baker met the suggestion that he might give Bruce or Cueto or even Votto more time at Triple-A with some derision.

    “Who says they need to be eased in?” Baker said. “I wasn’t eased in. Junior wasn’t eased in. A whole bunch of guys weren’t eased in. A lot of it has to do with need.”

    Hmmm. The Reds need a center fielder, the indomitable Norris Hopper or Ryan Freel notwithstanding. They could use some pop at first base (though Scott Hatteberg, the 38-year-old incumbent, did slug .474 last season). Certainly Cueto, the 22-year-old Dominican who the Reds now value higher than Bailey, is a better option than journeyman Josh Fogg, to whom Cincinnati committed $1 million Thursday.

    The Reds have enough of a veteran presence – with Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn surrounding Bruce in the outfield, with Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo preceding Cueto in the rotation, with Brandon Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion making Votto’s job easy – to steady the Reds’ equilibrium.

    “Yeah,” Baker said, “but what if you say, ‘Go play, kid,’ and he’s not ready to play winning baseball? Is it OK to overlook that? I don’t know.”

    Nor does Bruce. Last spring, the Reds shipped him to high Class-A from spring training, so to be here – to be this close – tickles him. With Sarasota, he hit .325 and slugged almost .600. In a two-week stopover at Double-A, Bruce matched Hopper’s career home run total. And then in a 187-at-bat cameo with Triple-A Louisville, Bruce hit 11 home runs.

    “Don’t believe the hype,” Bruce said.

    He chuckled.

    “Especially when it’s your own,” he said. “I need to be me. Some people aren’t going to like it. Some people are. But the bottom line is, it’s what I got and what I am, and it’s all I can do.”

    To see Bruce traverse the clubhouse is stunning. Not even 21 years old, he chats with young and old, black, Latino and white. He tells jokes, offers praise, seeks advice. He’s a baby face and old soul. In two years, Bruce ought to be the centerpiece of this franchise in every which way, and he seems to recognize it.

    Because already, just two days into full-squad workouts, Bruce has taken it upon himself to glom as much wisdom as he can from Griffey, whom he grew up idolizing. Griffey smiles politely and dispenses it, appreciating Bruce’s complete lack of pretense while snickering at it too.

    “Everything here is going in the right direction,” Bruce said. “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year. Hopefully, I’m here to help that out.

    “I haven’t interacted too much with (Baker) yet. But I feel like he’s a fair person. I don’t think he cares who you are. If you’re here, you’ll get a legitimate shot, and that’s all you can ask for in this game.”

    He’ll get his shot. The Reds didn’t trade the productive and inspiring Josh Hamilton to Texas for Edinson Volquez this offseason because they expected Hopper to take over. They didn’t sign closer Francisco Cordero to a four-year, $46 million deal because they figured he’d finish out the odd victory now and again.

    Cincinnati expects to win. The National League Central is ripe. St. Louis is down, Houston rebuilding in the worst way possible and Pittsburgh eternally doomed. Chicago and Milwaukee are Cincinnati’s competition, and neither distinguished itself last season.

    Of course, the Reds went 72-90, and aside from the Cordero signing and Volquez trade, look about the same. They need something more, and it’s there, with Bruce and Votto, Cueto and Bailey.

    The bell is ringing. Cincinnati can only hope Baker’s answer isn’t so Pavlovian.
    Not sure if I'm allowed to copy and paste the article. If I'm not, please delete it.
    Last edited by ChatterRed; 02-23-2008 at 04:04 AM. Reason: To post the bottom line.
    Who's on first?

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    You are allowed.

    Is it me or is that headline really deceiving? The whole article is written with a hatred of Dusty that I feel no matter what he says they will cherry pick quotes to prove their point. Ive read pretty much every quote by Dusty and I cant say many managers would say much different.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bip Roberts View Post
    You are allowed.

    Is it me or is that headline really deceiving? The whole article is written with a hatred of Dusty that I feel no matter what he says they will cherry pick quotes to prove their point. Ive read pretty much every quote by Dusty and I cant say many managers would say much different.
    True.
    No manager would say the job belongs to Bruce, Votto, Bailey/Cueto etc. Plus, I feel like alot of stuff was covered when Dusty came on board concerning pitchcounts, youngsters and stuff like that.
    I believe it is Dusty's call but I look for him to be open minded.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    from what i can tell Baker prefers experience, especially in the leadoff position. Obviously this is why we've heard Lofton and Patterson popping up as possible signs. I think he also prefers someone that fits the mold of your typical leadoff guy, think big on base %. Those things lead me to believe we will see Hopper over Freel in that spot, with Jay Bruce having to wait until an injury pops up to make his debut. I'd love to see Bruce in centerfield on opening day, but I don't get the vibe Dusty is wanting to go that way.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    I have no problem with Hopper getting the nod. He proved himself last year IN THE BIGS. I love Bruce--dont get me wrong. But why rush him? If Bruce kills it during Spring Training--much like Hamilton did last year...then fine...let him start. I wont be worried until Baker comes out and says that he wants Freel to be the opening day starter.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Id be much more comfortable with Freel of 04-06 leading off for this team than hoping Hopper can continue his high average.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Unless Bruce really is a can't-miss guy who's goign to come up and hit 25 HRs and not make a bunch of rookie mistakes that are going to overshadow the HRs, I'd prefer to start with Hopper out there and make him prove that his .330+ hitting is a fluke.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Quote Originally Posted by LexingtonLegend View Post
    from what i can tell Baker prefers experience, especially in the leadoff position. Obviously this is why we've heard Lofton and Patterson popping up as possible signs. I think he also prefers someone that fits the mold of your typical leadoff guy, think big on base %. Those things lead me to believe we will see Hopper over Freel in that spot, with Jay Bruce having to wait until an injury pops up to make his debut. I'd love to see Bruce in centerfield on opening day, but I don't get the vibe Dusty is wanting to go that way.
    Baker is quoted as saying OBP is over-rated. While his justification lends itself to getting on base, he says scoring is more important. That's where a Hopper or Freel are of more importance. Their speed is potentially worth a few runs. I agree with your view about Bruce unless he is so good in ST that the Reds decide they just gotta' try him.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    I don't think Bruce is seriously in the equation at this point. I believe he is the heir apparent to Griffey in right (or Griffey is a stopgap for Bruce, however you want to look at it). CF/ leadoff right now is a competition between Hopper and Freel, although I have no doubt Dusty would love to see one of them turn into Juan Pierre or at least Kenny Lofton. If the Reds have their way, Bruce will spend the year tearing it up in Louisville and get a September callup, like Votto last year.

    Or I could be way off, it happens.
    FIRE DUSTY Never mind. The man is clearly a genius.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Turn into Juan Pierre? They would have to break both their arms and legs to put up Pierre numbers

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bip Roberts View Post
    Turn into Juan Pierre? They would have to break both their arms and legs to put up Pierre numbers
    By "turn into" I mean literally, like a Freel-and-Stanton-for-Pierre trade.

    And Norris Hopper IS the right-handed yang to Juan Pierre's yin.
    FIRE DUSTY Never mind. The man is clearly a genius.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    PA R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
    595 78 41 4 26 87 51 142 10 4

    This is his projected statline from Baseball Prospectus.
    According to VORP, Bruce will be the 3rd best CF in baseball. Better than

    Young
    Upton
    Jones
    Cameron
    Granderson
    Hunter

    The only CF better than Bruce are
    Beltran
    Sizemore

    Hopper's VORP is worse than these players....

    Beltran
    Sizemore
    Pence (didn't include him earlier since he's now playing RF)
    Bruce
    Young
    Upton
    Jones
    Cameron
    Granderson
    Hunter
    Hall
    Rowand
    Dukes
    Hamilton
    Pie
    Jones
    Ankiel
    Rasmus
    Upton
    Wells
    Maybin
    Damon
    Ross
    Matthews
    McLouth
    Suzuki
    Cabrera
    Baldelli
    Salazar
    Spilborghs
    Ellsbury
    Roberts
    Crisp
    Edmonds
    DeJesus
    Blanco
    Davis
    Byrd
    Duffy
    Pierre
    Nix
    De_Aza
    Abercrombie
    Clark
    Maxwell
    Taveras
    Lofton
    Patterson
    Schumaker
    Sweeney
    Murphy
    Dickerson
    Haynes
    DaVanon
    Freel
    Amezaga
    Repko
    Reed
    Bourn
    Colvin
    McCutchen
    Gil
    Bell
    Fuld
    Pagan
    Pridie
    Thompson
    Kotsay
    Kalish
    Morgan
    Paul
    Raines
    Taguchi
    Denorfia
    Gathright
    Logan

    Yea... We should Use HOPPER because he has speed....

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Natty Redlocks View Post
    By "turn into" I mean literally, like a Freel-and-Stanton-for-Pierre trade.

    And Norris Hopper IS the right-handed yang to Juan Pierre's yin.
    I wouldnt go that far

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bip Roberts View Post
    I wouldnt go that far
    From the list before, Pierre is better than Hopper by a considerable amount. Pierre isn't "bad", he's just overrated. But it's looking more like he might be underrated because so many people just think he sucks. He has value, he just shouldn't be a leadoff guy making 9M.

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    Re: Dusty favoring Hopper?

    Quote Originally Posted by mlbfan30 View Post
    From the list before, Pierre is better than Hopper by a considerable amount. Pierre isn't "bad", he's just overrated. But it's looking more like he might be underrated because so many people just think he sucks. He has value, he just shouldn't be a leadoff guy making 9M.
    Those are based off projections though


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