Thursday, January 24, 2013

Playing Pepper: A Cincy All-Star game and more Reds quick hits

Wrong kind of pepper
Is the offseason over yet? I'm ready for some baseball. It's been a while since I posted anything as I have been busy with a few other commitments, but I've found some time today to put together what I hope will become a regular thing. Today it's called Playing Pepper. Next time it could be called something else. I'm still working that part out. It's basically just going to be a post of quick hits (cuz Pepper kinda involves quick hits, get it?) summarizing things that have happened with the Reds within the last week or so and my thoughts on such things. Since this is the first one though, it could cover anything that has happened between now and when last season ended. I'm literally making it up on the fly and it's kind of just a big run-on thought of mine.

It is an open forum of sorts. Feel free to agree or disagree as you see fit. Discussion is half the fun.

How could I not lead off with the All-Star Game finally coming back to Cincinnati? Yesterday it was officially announced by Bud Selig that the 2015 All-Star Game will be played at Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati is a city teeming with baseball history and some of the best fans in the country. It's about time and I couldn't be more pumped. The last time the ASG was in Cincinnati I was only about five months old. Now if I can just find a way to experience the awesomeness that this will be. Selig also announced that MLB would be donating $1.5 million towards a new Urban Youth Academy in the city. That's great. Maybe he can also find it in his heart to reinstate Pete Rose in time for the big game.

In other fun news, Reds Caravan kicks off today. The caravan will make stops in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana, so make sure you check out the schedule for the whole thing, so you can try and make it to one of the locations near you to meet many great Reds players and personnel. It's just another thing a great team does for its great fans. I'm jealous of all you who can participate.

Always smilin'
The World Baseball Classic gets under way in early March. Brandon Phillips is the only Reds player who will represent the United States in the tournament. In fact he's the only Reds player to be on any country's roster. Datdude seems really excited about it too. Why wouldn't he be? There are a few Reds minor leaguers involved also. I wish there were a few more big league Reds participating in the event, but at the same time I don't due to sheer risk of injury and the fact that this whole WBC thing hasn't really taken off all that well, at least not in the American public's eyes, I don't think. In any case, USA plays its first game on March 8th at Chase Field in Arizona against our neighbor to the south, Mexico. While I don't really care about the tournament that much, I still want us to win. Say it with me, "USA! USA! USA!"

Speaking of the WBC, maybe it would be a good opportunity to use amateur players in the game instead of professionals. I guess every other country is using its best pros too though, so I guess we need to compete in the same manner, even though America has never finished better than fourth in the previous two classics. P.S. Keep Joey Votto out of it this year, please.

It's arbitration season! There are currently six arbitration-eligible players, with which the Reds have exchanged figures. Logan Ondrusek signed a two-year deal last week. The Reds haven't had to go to an arbitration hearing since they crushed Chris Reitsma's hopes in 2004. It seems likely that this year, the Reds may have to break the streak though with such great young players like Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, and Shin-Soo Choo. Also, apparently the way arbitration works, the player submits a salary figure and the team submits one. If they can't agree by a certain date and it goes to an arbiter, that person has to decide which one of the figures the player deserves. There is no happy medium. I guess the player and team have already had their chance to compromise.

The hope is that the Reds will be able to save some money and work out long term deals with Latos and Bailey, like they did with Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce. I think it's more likely that they are able to do this with Bailey, rather than Latos. To me, it seems like it would be smarter for Bailey to take the years instead of the money, given his knack for inconsistency. Sure it could come back to bite him, but signing long term for what will still be a lot of money, is better than taking his chances in the short term if 2012 was just an exception more than a rule. Latos though has put up top of the rotation kind of numbers basically all three full years of his career. I'm sure he feels that he will continue to do this and become an ace worthy of a big time deal in the future, perhaps one too rich for the Reds blood once he's done with arbitration. I'd urge him to sign a long term deal now too, but only because of my immense bias.

There, there.
The Reds signed Armando Galarraga to a minor league deal this week. Somewhere umpire Jim Joyce cried tears of happiness upon hearing this news. You may remember Galaragga was robbed of a perfect game on June 2nd, 2010 when Joyce incorrectly called the would-be final out safe on a close play at first. The base runner who was erroneously called safe? None other than infielder Jason Donald who came to the Reds as part of the Choo trade with Cleveland. Ironic, much.

As of right now here's a look at how I project the Reds' 25-man roster to look entering the 2013 season:

Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Aroldis Chapman
Sam LeCure, Mike Leake, Alfredo Simon, Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton

Ryan Hanigan, Devin Mesoraco

Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart, Jason Donald, Jack Hannahan

Jay Bruce, Shin-Shoo Choo, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul

If Nick Masset is actually healthy, he could start in the bullpen. J.J. Hoover could sneak in there as well and I somewhat hope he does. We all know how Dusty Baker likes his veterans, so I guess it's possible a guy like Cesar Izturis or Emmanuel Burriss could and probably would replace Jason Donald. Willie Harris

I also think at this point the Reds are better off on the field without Scott Rolen. He made some major contributions to the team when he was healthy and he'll always carry the distinction of being a player I absolutely hated until he came to Cincinnati and I saw that he was just a good ol' ball player, but it's time for him to hang it up and ride off into the sunset unless he's on the "should be Hall of Famer" Barry Bonds' recovery plan. Either way, he should make up his mind soon.

Lastly, when is @DatdudeSooChoo gonna get on Twitter?

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