Friday, February 15, 2013

Touching base: Baseball is back and other Reds spring training tidbits

I'm back just to comment on a few things surrounding Reds baseball over the past few weeks. I did this at the end of last month too and called it Playing Pepper. As I work out what name I'll continue to use for these types of posts, I'm going to call it "Touching Base" today. You know, because that's what you do in baseball sometimes and it also means to cover things. Anyways, news isn't just popping up all over the place these days, but there are a few noteworthy stories that have come out recently and I intend to make you read my opinion on such things.

In case you haven't noticed, baseball is back. Pitchers and catchers reported at the beginning of the week and everyone else should be in Arizona by now. Everyone will be wearing new hats for spring training and batting practice. For the record I love the inclusion of Mr. Redlegs on the hat. I do not like the black hat. If I had my way, it would not exist, and black would not be a primary color for any part of the uniform, but that's not all that important.

Homer Bale-y?
What is important is that the Reds have signed contracts with all of their arbitration-eligible players, except Homer Bailey. Most notably, Shin-Soo Choo signed a one-year, $7.375 deal and Mat Latos inked a two-year, $11.5 million deal. We all knew Choo was a one-year stop gap until Billy Hamilton arrives. Latos is controlled through 2015, so the Reds avoided having to go to arbitration with him this year and next year. 2015 is his last year of arbitration. We'll see where things go from there and into 2016 when he's a free agent. I know it will involve a lot of money. I don't know if it will necessarily involve the Reds.

Speaking of Bailey, his arbitration hearing is scheduled for Monday. The Reds will look to get a deal done before then. It was reported that the Latos deal got done as the two sides walked into the room for his hearing. Bailey wants $5.8 million and the team wants him to have $4.75 million. I'm betting they will probably meet somewhere in the middle by Monday. I think with his prior inconsistencies, it's in his best interest to go ahead and sign a multi-year deal, but he didn't ask my opinion.

A couple of old guys made some decisions recently. Scott Rolen announced he won't be with the Reds during camp, but he never said he was retiring either. He'll probably hang around in a virtual retirement of sorts and if the Reds end up needing another guy on the left side due to injuries or shortcomings, he'll probably be more than happy to sign. Miguel Cairo will join the operating staff as a special assistant to the GM. I'm fully expecting him to make himself available for the roster come late-September and then to activate himself in a Roger Dorn-type move.
Everyone's favorite Cardinal, Chris Carpenter is done for 2013 and possibly his career. He had this decision made for him due to some issues with his left hand. I'm not celebrating his injury because that sucks, but I won't miss him. No one told Carpenter he was done though as he hasn't ruled out pitching this year.

Seriously. What is going on with Nick Masset? He could actually be of some use this year, though I'm sure the Reds can get by just fine without him. He missed all of last year and then had shoulder surgery at the end of it. He began a three-month throwing plan in January, but it's really unclear when he'll be able to pitch from the mound again. He used to be so good at driving fans crazy while he was on the field and now he's doing it without even stepping on the grass. I really do hope he gets healthy sometime this season though.

The Reds have added the final pieces to the puzzle. If you didn't think they were going to win the World Series before, well think again because they've signed LHP Manny Parra, C Miguel Olivo, and RHP Clay Hensley. I don't imagine Hensley will see major league time this year unless something goes horribly wrong. Olivo will serve a similar role to Dioner Navarro last year. Hopefully Devin Mesoraco starts playing to his potential in 2013 and we don't have to see Olivo for any significant time either. Parra actually has a shot to start the season on the 25-man roster since he is a left-hander reliever. With the move of Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, Sean Marshall was the lone southpaw residing in the 'pen.

Chapmania will have a whole
new meaning this year
Yes, Chapman is moving to the rotation, which begs the question of whether or not the Reds will use a modified six-man rotation? Actually you know they'll have to do something like that. You just wonder what it will look like. They'll want to keep the top four guys on schedule to pitch every fifth day, but Chapman will be on an innings limit and won't be able to make every start. If he averaged six innings per start and made 26 starts that would be 156 innings. Most people seem to think 160 innings should be his max. Of course, you hope you can stretch some of those starts into the postseason too. Last year, Stephen Strasburg pitched 159.1 innings over 28 starts before being shut down in early September.

They will have to skip Chapman occasionally and let Mike Leake or someone else do his thing, depending on off days. That raises some other questions like if fans will show their unrest if they have to wait 10 days or more to see Chapman pitch when he gets skipped? That could be tough to deal with for some fans who will clamor for the days when he was possibly pitching an inning every game or every other game to get a save. Winning is a good remedy. This topic really deserves a whole post of its own. Maybe they'll let him make the planned number of starts in the regular season and then move him to the bullpen for the playoffs or something. No one on the planet knows at this point because any number of things could happen between now and October.

As I'm writing this, Mark Sheldon just tweeted that the first spring training prank has occurred. Marshall gave his no. 51 to Jonathan Broxton this year and switched to no. 45. Apparently someone taped the name "Bray" over his on the back of his jersey. Bray wore no. 45 last year. Sheldon also tweeted that there are about 25 members of the Korean media there to see Choo. I can confirm my mother is not one of them.

Congratulations. You've reached the end of the post. Oh, there's just one more thing. (1000 points if you got the Columbo reference. -500 if you don't know who that is.) I reached 900 followers yesterday. Maybe I should do a contest and/or giveaway when I hit 1000. I don't have any ideas for a cool contest or anything of any worth to give away though. Also, I'm no one of any importance so why would I do that? I just like to talk about the Reds. Well, because it's Twitter and that's how things work in that paradigm. I don't know. We'll see. Follow me and hit me up on Twitter @RedlegsWriter.

Vote for the Redlegs Review 2013 Preseason All-NL Central Team at this link.

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