Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jay Bruce made history against Clayton Kershaw this season

On Sept. 8, Jay Bruce did something against Clayton Kershaw that no other left-handed batter could do this season. The Reds right fielder blasted a home run off of the eventual Cy Young winner in the second inning. But Bruce wasn't done yet. He smacked another exactly two innings and one at-bat later.

Before that fateful game, Kershaw hadn't allowed a home run to a left-handed hitter in nearly 15 months. Furthermore, The Claw would go on to face a total of 165 left-handed hitters not named Jay Bruce in 2013, and not one of them could play long ball like Bruce did.

Although six plate appearances is an extremely small sample size, once could accurately claim that Bruce had Kershaw's number this year (3-for-6 with two HR and three RBI), statistically-speaking, of course. And a quick look into the players' past reveals that Bruce has held the upper hand in their previous match-ups as well. In 15 career plate appearances, Bruce is 5-for-14 (.357) with an OPS of 1.423. Amazingly, only one southpaw pitcher past or present has allowed more home runs to Bruce in his career than Kershaw. That pitcher would be Tom Gorzelanny who has coughed up three to Bruce.

Likewise, only one left-handed hitter has ripped more home runs off of Kershaw than Bruce. That hitter would be former Red Adam Dunn who has four to his lifetime credit.

Hat tip to Jayson Stark for bringing this fact to my attention

Monday, December 30, 2013

Photo: Brandon Phillips earns the hardware for 'favorite follow' on Twitter

Earlier this month, Major League Baseball held its first ever Social Media Awards on MLB Network. It was a glorious event with the awards naturally determined by fan voting. And as fate would have it Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) took home the hardware for "Favorite Follow" on Twitter.

On Monday, Reds Digital Media Director Lisa Braun tweeted out a photo of what the award looked like. Quite fittingly, the majority of the trophy featured a giant hashtag symbol.

In the spirit of the award: #Awesome #Congrats #Reds.

Reds defense tabbed 9th-best in baseball

The combination of good pitching and defense can win a lot of games for baseball teams. And such was the case for the Reds in 2013.

Sure, pitching can be attributed to much of Cincinnati's success this past season, but one could make a solid case that their defense played an even larger role.

So, I guess it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that their defense was recently ranked among the top 10 in baseball by ESPN's Buster Olney. Well, No. 9 to be exact.

Here is a quick look at what Olney wrote about the defensive prowess of the Redlegs:

Baseball Bloggers Alliance recommends three players for Hall of Fame induction

A press release from the BBA:

December 30, 2013: The Baseball Bloggers Alliance today recommends three players from the official Hall of Fame ballot to be inducted into Cooperstown this summer. Pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, most closely associated with the Atlanta Braves, and long-time Chicago White Sox first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas reached the 75% threshold when BBA members cast their ballots.

Maddux, a four-time Cy Young Award winner for the Braves, pitched from 1986 to 2008 and won 355 games while posting a 3.16 ERA and striking out over 3,300 batters. He had a career WHIP of 1.143 in just over 5,000 innings and an ERA+ of 132 over that span. His best season was 1995, when he fashioned a 19-2 record with a 1.63 ERA, good for a bWAR of 9.7 that year.

Thomas played from 1990 to 2008, all but the last three season on the south side of Chicago. He has a career slash line of .301/.419/.555 and fashioned an OPS+ of 156 during his playing days. He put up his highest single-season bWAR in 1997, when his 1.067 OPS and 35 home runs played a large role in his mark of 7.3.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reds bullpen ranked 7th-best in baseball

Is the bullpen one of the greatest strengths of the Reds? Absolutely. In my opinion, it goes without question. 

But how does Cincinnati's relief core compare to the rest of the league? Well, in the mind of ESPN's Buster Olney, Bryan Price's 'pen ranks 7th-best in baseball.

Here is an excerpt taken from Olney's recent "top 10 bullpens" piece:

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the Reds should be on this list because Cincinnati hasn’t formally announced whether Aroldis Chapman will be a closer or a starter. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that Chapman will return to the bullpen -- and if that’s the case, the Reds will again have a strong group of relievers. (Last year, Chapman averaged almost 16 strikeouts per nine innings.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reds currently boast two top 30 draft picks after losing Choo

Although losing Shin-Soo Choo will most assuredly be tough to absorb next season, there is some good news that arises from the outfielder's departure.

By signing Choo, the Texas Rangers were forced to forfeit their first round pick (21st) in the 2014 Amateur Draft. By losing Choo, the Reds were awarded a pick in Round A of the compensatory portion of the draft.

All in all, this compensatory pick is currently slotted as the 30th overall selection in the entire draft. Additionally, Cincinnati also currently boasts the 20th overall pick as well.

Considering there are 30 teams that comprise Major League Baseball, having two picks in the top 30 is something to be excited about. No other club can currently make that statement. By comparison, the New York Yankees don't have a draft choice at all until No. 56 rolls around.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Buster Olney: Reds starting rotation is 9th-best in baseball

While the likely loss of Bronson Arroyo to free agency is a formidable blow to Cincinnati's starting rotation, it's fair to proclaim that new manager Bryan Price still has a solid starting five at his disposal.

It begs the question, though: How does Cincinnati's rotation stack up to the rest of the league. Well, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Reds boast the 9th-best staff in baseball.

Here is an excerpt about the Reds taken from Olney's piece:

The Cincinnati rotation generated one of the best performances of any team in 2013, finishing third in ERA -- but once again, the Reds' starters will be at the center of intrigue in spring training because of the ongoing question about how to best utilize Aroldis Chapman.

Could difference of opinion lead to Aroldis Chapman being traded?

Aroldis Chapman has been an enigma from day one for the Cincinnati Reds.

The club has flip-flopped about how to properly use him more times than a fish out of water over the last handful years. However, when push comes to shove, Chapman has always wound up in the bullpen instead of the starting rotation. After telling reporters at Redsfest earlier this month that he has no desire to start and wants to remain the closer, it looks like new skipper Bryan Price may be forced to give into his southpaw's request, which is reportedly against the will of Price, who has long been an advocate for Chapman to start.

Considering there continues to be a mixed bag of opinion on what to do with Chapman, coupled with the fact that Chapman wants nothing to do with anything outside of closing games, the Reds may find themselves in a conundrum of sorts, which is primarily why AJ Mass of ESPN Insider proposed on Friday that the Reds might be best served to consider trading him while his value is high.

Mass' comment comes after colleague Buster Olney penned a piece highlighting the top ten rotations in baseball earlier in the day. Here is an excerpt of what Olney had to say:

Drew Stubbs getting vote of confidence from new teammate Troy Tulowitzki

Former Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs will wear his third different uniform in as many seasons when he suits up for the Rockies in Colorado next season.

Drafted by the Reds in 2006, Stubbs parted ways with the franchise who groomed him last winter in the 3-team trade that brought Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati. After spending this most recent season with the Indians, Stubbs is now the newest member of the Rockies after being traded yet again.

Despite batting just .233/.305/.360 with 10 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 146 games played in 2013, the Rockies are optimistic Stubbs can elevate his game to where it was in 2010, when he smashed 22 home runs, swiped 30 bags, drove in 77 runs, and sported a .255 average.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Help Wanted and Other Hot Stove Stuff

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Leading off I’d like to thank my kids for the wonderful Christmas gift I received, a Kindle Fire HD, it’s groovy, uh, rad, how about totally awesome! (Do kids say that today? I really have no clue.)

HELP WANTED (2 Positions): 1) a centerfielder with blazing speed, can catch anything that comes his way EXCEPT a cold, must possess an ability to hit lead-off, have tremendous patience at the plate, hit for a high average, while proficient in scoring runs.

2) An individual who can hit fourth in a batting order. Must possess the ability to make serious contact with a pitched ball, and not strike out with two runners on base. (Adam Dunn need not apply.)

Qualified candidates please send resume and salary requirements to the following address, Great American Ball Park, 100 Main St. Cincinnati, OH 45202, Attention – Mr. Jocketty. Serious inquiries only.

On this day in Reds history: David Wells dealt to Orioles

December 26, 1995 - The Reds deal southpaw David Wells to Baltimore less than five months after acquiring him at the trade deadline from Detroit. Cincinnati receives outfielder Curtis Goodwin and prospect Trovin Valdez in return. Needless to say, the Reds end up getting stuck with the short end of the stick.

Goodwin plays just two seasons with the Reds and never amounts to anything more than a part-time player. Valdez never makes it to the majors at all. Wells, however, goes on to win 160 more games after posting a 6-5 record and 3.59 ERA in his short stint in Cincinnati.

Wells helped the Reds capture the National League Central Division title and a berth in the NLCS after sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. The veteran pitcher had gained a solid track record of success before arriving in the Queen City. He broke into the majors in 1987 with the Toronto Blue Jays and later signed as a free agent with the Tigers. Cincinnati acquired him with the knowledge that he would probably be more of a rental player. He played out the last half of the season and the playoffs with the Reds before moving on to Baltimore for just one season. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Latos family owned Christmas this year

No Cincinnati residents may have owned Christmas this year as much as the Latos family.

Aside from Mat Latos sporting a terrific and ingenious tuxedo onsesie on Christmas Eve (seen above), he and his wife also lent a hand to help feed those in need at the Holy Grail Banks on Christmas Day.

Visual evidence of their generous and kind-hearted deed can be seen below:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jerry Crasnick pens excellent feature piece on Bronson Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo is arguably one of the most interesting, undervalued, and underappreciated players in Major League Baseball. And the 36-year-old continues to wait for the right offer to come along in free agency, too.

While Arroyo anxiously paces around his Florida home awaiting his fate, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com took the liberty of penning an excellent feature piece on the intriguing character, which is a must read for any Reds fan who has enjoyed the stability and durability Arroyo has given the team throughout his career.

Here is an excerpt taken from the piece of one of Arroyo's quotes:

"I don't know what outsiders think of me," Arroyo said. "I've never heard a scouting report from another team, but I know what the people who are in front of me for six months think of me. I come to the ballpark every day enthused. I'm the same guy. I have a good attitude about it, I love being there, and I want my teammates to do well.

The Christmas tree is noticeably bare for Reds fans this offseason

For a team whose ownership and front office vowed for change following the disappointing end to last season, the Reds haven't quite delivered on their pledge this winter. Well, at least not yet.

Cincinnati's end to the 2013 campaign was about as nightmarish as one could imagine. With a shot at hosting the Wild Card playoff game at home, the Reds folded like a tent from the clearance aisle at Walmart, losing five straight games to mercifully end the regular season and limp into the postseason. However, after sweeping the Reds over the weekend at Great American Ball Park, the Pirates finally put Reds fans out of their misery when eliminating their division rivals in Pittsburgh in the winner-take-all Wild Card round. 

All in all, it was evident that change needed to be made within the Reds clubhouse. Within a matter of days, the team struck while the iron was hot and the bubbling anger was still present by handing skipper Dusty Baker his pink slip. After six full seasons at the helm, which included three trips to the postseason, Baker was out as manager of baseball's oldest professional team.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Video: Walt Jocketty discusses myriad of Reds topics on 'Hot Stove'

On Monday, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty made an appearance on the MLB Network Hot Stove and proceeded to discuss a myriad of topics.

Some of the topics included the rising cost of free agents, the potential of Billy Hamilton, the departure of Shin-Soo Choo, the trade rumors surrounding Brandon Phillips, the likelihood of bringing back Bronson Arroyo back, Tony Cingrani as the team's fifth starting pitcher, and more.

The interview lasts roughly nine minutes and is likely to be the last noteworthy Reds talk for the next couple of days in the midst of the Christmas holiday.

Report: Brett Tomko plans to audition for teams in late January

Former Reds pitcher Brett Tomko is on the comeback trail once again.

According to Zach Links of MLB Trade Rumors, Tomko is currently working out in California to audition for teams in late January. The 40-year-old is reportedly willing to accept a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. In the even that he doesn't make the 25-man roster, Tomko is fully prepared to start the season at Triple-A as either a starter or reliever, whichever role gives him the best chance at pitching in the major leagues again.

A second round draft pick by the Reds in the 1995 draft, Tomko spent last season pitching for the York Revolution of the Atlantic League. He recorded a 4.98 ERA in 19 games while amassing 124.2 innings.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A master list of Reds on Twitter

If you are reading this blog post, chances are you also dabble on social media as well, particularly Twitter. And chances are you also love the Reds.
In order to get the best of both worlds, here is a list comprised of several Reds players, prospects, affiliates, and media members in which you may be interested in following.

Major League players:
Johnny Cueto (@JohnnyCueto)
Todd Frazier (@FlavaFraz21)
Jack Hannahan (@JackHannahan9)
Billy Hamilton (@b_ham_3)
J.J. Hoover (@JJ_Hoover)
Sam LeCure (@mrLeCure)
Mike Leake (@MikeLeake44)
Corky Miller (@Corky_Miller)
Manny Parra (@MannyParra26)
Brayan Pena (@Cuban2727)
Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Walt Jocketty speaks about Choo fallout, Hamilton, losing Arroyo and more

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer caught up with Reds general manager Walt Jocketty in the wake of Saturday's news that Shin-Soo Choo has agreed to sign with the Rangers. And the two apparently discussed several issues at hand including the fallout from not bringing back Choo (which was expected), trade rumors, and the likelihood of resigning Bronson Arroyo.

Here is a quick rundown on the notable revelations:

+ Jocketty called Billy Hamilton "the guy" in both center field and leadoff for next season. Although the Reds are optimistic about Hamilton, plenty of concern still rests with his ability to hit for average on more importantly, get on base. He tallied a mediocre .308 on-base percentage at Triple-A in 2013 as compared to the .423 on-base percentage Choo recorded at the major league level.

Report: Shin-Soo Choo reaches seven-year deal with Rangers

Any sliver of hope the Reds had at possibly resigning Shin-Soo Choo was eliminated on Saturday as the Texas Rangers have apparently struck an accord with the coveted center fielder.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Choo and the Rangers have reached an agreement on a seven-year deal worth approximately $130 million. The deal includes a limited no-trade clause and excludes any opt-outs or options.

Choo is represented by super agent Scott Boras.

The agreement comes as somewhat puzzling after reports surfaced earlier this week stating that Choo rejected a seven-year offer from the New York Yankees worth $140 million. However, considering New York has a state income tax and Texas does not, Choo will take home more money by playing for the Rangers instead of the Pinstripes.

Updated odds for all MLB teams to win 2014 World Series

While mistletoe and eggnog are at the forefront of people's minds this time of the year, Las Vegas is still keeping a keen eye on the Major League Baseball landscape, especially as it pertains to which team(s) has the best chance to win the 2014 World Series.

Are these odds completely premature and most likely slightly inaccurate? You better believe it. But they do provide baseball junkies something to talk about in the midst of a wintertime. And there is never a bad moment to discuss baseball.

Here is a look at those aforementioned odds (as of 12/21/13):

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pitchers and catchers to report February 14

Believe it or not, the Reds are under two months away from resuming baseball activities.

According to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds have announced that pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz. on Feb. 14. Yes, that's correct. It's also the same day Americans feel pressure to show their better half how much they love and appreciate them, which is otherwise known as Valentine's Day.

The team's position players will report five days later on Feb. 19. All players will undergo physical examinations before working out.

The club also announced its list of non-roster invitees, which include three pitchers (Jose Diaz, Lee Hyde, Chien-Ming Wang), three catchers (Corky Miller, Rossmel Perez, Max Ramirez), three infielders (Argenis Diaz, Reynaldo Navarro, Kris Negron), and one outfielder (Jason Bourgeois).

Jim Bowden: Reds should trade Homer Bailey

Should the Reds trade Homer Bailey this offseason? Absolutely, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN and Sirius XM radio.

In his recent post highlighting 2015 free agents who should be traded now, Bowden tabs Homer Bailey as the fourth man on his list.

Here is what the opinionated Bowden had to say about Bailey:

This one is a bit tricky, because like Kershaw, Scherzer and Lester, he could be the key for his club making the playoffs. Bailey, 27, is coming off his second straight season with more than 200 innings and an ERA below 3.70.

Of course, if he has another season like that the Reds have no shot at re-signing him, and with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani, they have good starting pitching depth. There are teams who would pay a big price for a pitcher like Bailey, and the Reds could re-sign Bronson Arroyo on a two-year deal and shop Bailey to get a right-handed bat or significant prospect package.

CBS Sports writer: Reds have 'giant weakness' in center field

There is no denying the Reds will sorely miss Shin-Soo Choo in center field and at the leadoff spot next season. No player was better at getting on base in 2013 than Choo was (outside of teammate Joey Votto). So it is safe to assume that his replacement has extremely big shoes to fill and probably won't be able to fill them completely.

As it stands now, it appears speedy prospect Billy Hamilton will take the reins over from Choo. Although Hamilton's speed has become legendary, his ability as a top-of-the-lineup hitter is still in question, and that has some around the baseball community concerned on behalf of the Reds. In this case, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports.

Here is a snippet of Axisa's recent feature piece on the matter at hand:

The big question about Hamilton is his bat, not his legs. He hit only .256/.308/.343 in 547 Triple-A plate appearances this past season and he's struck out 100+ times in each of the last three years, not a typical trait for a leadoff man. Baseball America recently noted "pitchers were able to overpower him at times last year" and "his bat has not convinced scouts he is ready for the leadoff spot." 

Ken Rosenthal: Yankees should consider signing Bronson Arroyo

The collapsing market for Bronson Arroyo has led some to believe the Reds may actually have a shot at re-signing the veteran right-hander. However, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that perhaps the New York Yankees should take a close look at adding Arroyo to their fold. One of the reasons Rosenthal believes so is that former Reds strength and conditioning coach Matt Krause has just taken the same role with the Bronx Bombers.

Arroyo is good friends with Matthew Krause, the Yankees’ new strength and conditioning coach. Krause designed Arroyo’s conditioning program during their time together with the Reds. And while Arroyo turns 37 on Feb. 24, he has never been on the disabled list or missed a start.

In other words, he would be a sensible short-term fit for the Yankees, who are not currently inclined to extend themselves for any of the other top free-agent righties – Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A time for reflection

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Well it’s finally happened. After a year of writing for this blog, I’ve encountered a symptom known as “writers block”. For the past week I’ve struggled with what to write about. I could write something historical, amusing, or describe my anticipation for the 2014 season. With Christmas next Wednesday, I’ll digress into something seasonal. I really considered doing a Reds parody of “The Night Before Christmas”.

Sure the 2013 season was a huge disappointment for Reds Nation. The hopes we had on Opening Day were dashed on that cold October evening at P.N.C. Park. We can’t complain about back to back playoff appearances for the first time since 1975 – 1976. Hey, look at the bright side, we could be Cubs fans.

Report: Xavier Paul finds new team

Former Reds outfielder Xavier Paul has found a new home.

According to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith, Paul has signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles that includes an invite to spring training.

The 28-year-old spent the past two seasons in Cincinnati before the team opted to non-tender him earlier this offseason. Paul took on the unofficial role of the go-to left-handed pinch hitter in 2013 and batted .273/.333/.576 in such situations. Overall, Paul batted .244/.339/.402 with the Reds this past season.

He is being brought in by Baltimore to compete with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and David Lough for playing time in a somewhat crowded Orioles outfield.

What is even left for the Reds to sign?

It's not appealing
Have you checked the free agent list, recently? It looks like my refrigerator a week after Thanksgiving, with portions of aging foods that no one really wants, but that I will undoubtedly eat when I become desperate enough on Saturday afternoon. Sure there is some foil-wrapped turkey and ham left like Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Garza, and Ervin Santana left, but I am of course referring to the part of the list that would fit the Reds financially-strapped pockets and their needs.

It's pretty clear to see why Walt has explored several trades this offseason, mainly circling around @DatDudeBP. There's not really much on the free agent market to improve this roster, unless Choo suddenly takes a discount. A trade would seem the only likely solution.

Let's quickly examine what the 25-man 24-man roster looks like right now:

Starters: Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani
Bullpen: Sam LeCure, Manny Parra, J.J. Hoover, Alfredo Simon, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Aroldis Chapman

Catchers: Devin Mesoraco, Brayan Pena
Infielders: Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart, Jack Hannahan, Skip Schumaker
Outfielders: Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey,

I'd say all the names there are a pretty likely bet as of now, with one slot left to be filled.

Report: Reds sign Chien-Ming Wang to minor league deal

The Reds have added more pitching depth by signing right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. According to Focus Taiwan News Channel, Wang will reportedly earn a monthly salary of  $15,000 in 2014, which could be increased to $1.25 million if he is able to land a spot on the 25-man roster. He could even earn as much as $3 million if he achieves the incentives built into this contract.

The 33-year-old last pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 where he posted a 1-2 record and 7.67 ERA in six starts at the major league level. In Triple-A Wang posted a 4-3 mark with a 3.48 ERA in nine starts.

Before spending last season with the Blue Jays, Wang spent two seasons with the Washington Nationals, and five seasons before that with the New York Yankees. It's been over six years since Wang last produced what one could label as a productive season.

Four bold moves the Reds should make this offseason

There were a considerable amount of items on Cincinnati's offseason to-do list at the conclusion of the 2013 campaign. In fact, much more than the previous two offseasons. And the Reds wasted no time in marking one of the items off when they decided to part ways with Dusty Baker after six seasons at the helm. The team then promoted from within by naming pitching coach Bryan Price the manager some time later.

Since then the Reds have added a few more pieces to the puzzle in the personnel of free agents Skip Schumaker and Brayan Pena. They also traded veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan and acquired left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg in return. And although a flurry of rumors swirled around the winter meetings last week, with nothing actually coming to fruition, a few of the biggest offseason issues still remain.

I'm no general manager nor do I pretend to be. But I am a student of the game and I have watched, read, and educated myself enough to know what constitutes a good baseball/business decision and what does not. With that being said, here is my attempt to suggest four bold moves the Reds should make this offseason in order to set them up for success in the long run.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Could defection of elite Cuban outfielder add another twist to Shin-Soo Choo bidding?

There may be another twist in the bidding for free agent Shin-Soo Choo.

On the heels of a report claiming Choo turned his nose up at a $140 million offer from the Yankees, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that a 26-year-old Cuban outfielder by the name of Rusney Castillo has defected in an attempt to latch onto a major league team in the United States.

Why is this relevant to Choo and the rest of the teams vying for his services? Well, as AJ Mass of ESPN Insider astutely points out, clubs have been hesitant to give in to Choo and agent Scott Boras' contract demands this winter. Choo is reportedly seeking an eight-year deal in the proximity of $150 million over the life of the contract.

Additionally, another hurdle for teams wanting to sign Choo is the reality of losing a draft pick by signing him. In an effort to avoid surrendering a high draft pick, coupled with saving considerable cash, Mass posits that teams may be willing to wait and see how Castillo's situation pans out, instead. But there are some dominoes that need to fall into place first.

Report: Shin-Soo Choo shot down $140 million offer from Yankees

Any team wishing to add Shin-Soo Choo to the payroll will have to do better than offering the coveted free agent a seven-year, $140 million contract.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Choo reportedly declined that aforementioned offer from the New York Yankees, leaving the bidding for the 31-year-old outfielder alive and well.

According to Passan, Choo and agent Scott Boras countered New York's offer by asking for more money in the deal, similar to the chunk of change Jacoby Ellsbury recently signed on the dotted line for ($153 million over seven years). This is when the Yankees refuted their offer and opted to sign Carlos Beltran to a $45 million deal spread over three years, instead.

Former Reds OF Drew Stubbs was traded to Colorado and it got me thinking

Do you miss him at all?
The player who used to man center field at Great American Ball Park is on the move again, as the Cleveland Indians have traded Drew Stubbs to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for LHP Josh Outman.You may remember a little trade last year that sent Stubbs from Cincinnati to Cleveland and netted Shin-Soo Choo for the Reds.

Stubbs will be playing for his third team as he enters his sixth year in the major leagues. The Rockies acquisition of Stubbs may have been made possible by an earlier trade in which Colorado sent IF Jonathan Herrera to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for LHP Franklin Morales. The addition of Morales likely made Outman expendable as they both are left-handed bullpen pitchers, and also possibly lead to the Stubbs-Outman swap.

Other than Stubbs being a former Red, what does any of this have to do with anything, you may ask? Well when I saw the two trades and started working my way backwards, it had me thinking about an earlier rumor that the Reds and Rockies had been talking about a possible transaction involving Reds lefty specialist Sean Marshall.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Report: MLB tallies record $8 billion in annual revenues

In spite of the flawed perception held nationally that baseball is slowly dying in America, Major League Baseball is actually stronger than ever, as a recent report by Forbes states that the league could very well rake in record revenues this season.

Here is an excerpt from the Forbes report:

It was a very good year for Major League Baseball; as in historic. According to a source speaking on condition of anonymity, 2013 MLB gross revenues will exceed $8 billion for the first time, ever. While exact figures were not revealed, baseball will end 2013 with revenues between $8-$8.5 billion.

For the record, MLB posted revenues slightly above $7.5 billion in 2012. In 1994, the league grossed roughly $1.4 billion ($2.2 billion when factoring for inflation). Since then, MLB has enjoyed tremendous growth across the board, increasing their annual revenues a whopping 264 percent in less than two decades.

Bowden says that the Reds need to re-sign Bronson Arroyo

Could the stars align and bring Arroyo back to Cincy?
I hate to agree with Jim Bowden ever, but I do agree with him in this case. This morning Bowden posted a list of 10 moves that still need to be made this baseball offseason and his number ten move is for the Reds to re-sign Bronson Arroyo.

Arroyo has received plenty of interest from teams this offseason and rightly so. Every team could use a solid veteran starting pitcher who eats innings, however no team has been willing to commit to the time or money that it will take to signing Arroyo. This could play right into the Reds hands if everything falls into place, as Bowden explains.

You've got to have ESPN Insider powers to read the full article, but I'll give you the highlights:

Reds need Shin-Soo Choo the second-most, according to Swydan

Choo looks good in Reds
Shin-Soo Choo remains perhaps the best unsigned free agent of this offseason. Many suitors have checked in on Choo, but none have been willing to bite on his and agent Scott Boras' demands as of yet. It's reported that ultimately he wants an eight-year contract in the range of $20 million per year. Regardless of what he will cost, it's clear that several teams could definitely use the 31-year old, South Korean's services.

Paul Swydan, of ESPN, threw together a list of which teams need Choo the most. As you can imagine, the Cincinnati Reds were one of those teams. In fact, Swydan only make a case for one other team needing Choo more than the Redlegs.

It is an ESPN Insider article, but here are a few of the major points Swydan makes for Cincinnati:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reexamining the Mat Latos trade a full two years later

On Dec. 17, 2011, the Reds acquired SP Mat Latos from the Padres in exchange for 1B Yonder Alonso, SP Edinson Volquez, and prospects RP Brad Boxberger and C Yasmani Grandal. Initial reactions of the trade were expectantly mixed among fans and media alike, with one media member and former club general manager calling it "The most lopsided trade I've witnessed in recent memory as the Padres swindle the Reds in the 5-player trade that lands Mat Latos in Cinci." Locally, beat writers John Fay and Mark Sheldon both went on the record as saying they believed the Reds gave up too much for Latos, too.

Now, a full two years later after the trade was executed, we can once again revisit the swap to see which side has profited the most. Of course, two years isn't enough to close the book completely on a deal such as this one. That book will continue to be open until every player included in the trade nears the end of their career or retires. But after witnessing two full seasons of what has transpired, we can finally begin to accurately tabulate which team won the upper hand.

10 holiday gift ideas for Reds fans

It can be extremely difficult this time of the year to come up with good gift ideas for all the people on your shopping list. This is why the fine folks with the Reds have developed this list of 10 holiday gift ideas you may consider buying for the special Reds fan(s) in your life. Check them out and see:

1. Reds Heads Kids Club Membership: The Reds Heads Kids Club is the official fan club for Reds fans ages 14 and younger. The new 2014 kit includes a Reds Heads backpack and jersey, a free Reds game ticket plus exclusive ballpark experiences such as player autograph sessions and members-only ticket offers to captain Joey Votto figurine games along with other Reds games. Membership is only $25. Purchase a Reds Heads Kids Club membership in time for the holidays at the Reds Front Office at GABP or call (513) 765-7314. More information is also available atreds.com/kidsclub.

2. Homer Pick-6 Ticket Plan: Guarantee the new Homer Bailey No-Hitter Dual Bobblehead when you buy this six-game ticket plan that includes the Sat., May 10th Reds vs. Rockies game (Homer bobblehead night) plus your choice of five additional regular season games, exclusions apply. Prices start at $72: reds.com/tickets.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Yankees have 'absolutely no intention' of trading Brett Gardner

Despite speculation suggesting the New York Yankees have explored the idea of trading outfielder Brett Gardner, team president Randy Levine went on the radio with Ian O'Connor of ESPN New York on Sunday and said the Yankees have "absolutely no intention" of dealing the 30-year-old Gardner this offseason.

Levine declined to comment on the proposed Brandon Phillips-for-Gardner trade that New York reportedly rejected Wednesday night, however, he did convey that he expects Gardner to be in pinstripes come 2014.

From ESPN.com:

Findings conclude Ryan Freel suffering from degenerative brain disease at time of death

The family of the late Ryan Freel announced that the former Major League Baseball player was suffering from a degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy when he committed suicide in December 2012. The family made the announcement during a mass on Sunday paying tribute to the Jacksonville native.

According to a report on Jacksonville.com, Freel's mother and stepfather, Norma and Clark Vargas, were presented with the findings from the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopahty and Sports Legacy Institute on Dec. 11, which is the same day MLB approved a ban on collisions at home plate. Representatives from MLB also received a copy of the findings on Freel.

According to the studies, Freel was suffering from Stage II CTE at the time of his death. Some of the symptoms he endured included bad headaches, loss of attention and concentration, depression, explositivity, and short-term memory loss. Freel's stepfather said the entire contents of the report will be published in a medical journal in early-2014.

Jim Bowden gives Reds an offseason grade of 'C-' thus far

The offseason is far from being over, obviously, but the Reds haven't exactly been overly productive. Sure, they have bolstered their bench quality and depth with free agents Skip Schumaker and Brayan Pena, but outside of that, Cincinnati has yet to address the most important issues they had entering the winter.

With that being said, former club general manager and current ESPN talking head Jim Bowden took the effort to assign grades to every team in Major League Baseball. And although I don't always agree with what Bowden has to say, because he seems to miss the mark on occasion, I do believe his assessment of Cincinnati's work through two months of the offseason is fair.

Cincinnati Reds -- Grade: C-
The Reds are still in discussions with their own free agents, Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo, and they have talked about various Brandon Phillips trade scenarios. They did pick up some depth by adding lefty David Holmberg, but for a team that seems so close to being a World Series contender, they haven't done anything to improve significantly.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Trading Brandon Phillips seems inevitable

It's a bad situation that just seems to be getting worse. The relationship between All-Star second basemen Brandon Phillips and the Reds has slowly deteriorated over the past calendar year and the latest happenings have done nothing to patch that broken relationship up.

It can be said that the winds of negative change first began blowing this summer when Phillips ripped into ownership over the handling of his contract. Phillips came across as unappreciative, envious, and above all disrespectful, which didn't set well with Reds ownership or a select number of Reds fans. A short time later, cameras caught Phillips berating beat reporter C. Trent Rosecrans in Dusty Baker's office, essentially over a tweet that Rosecrans published which Phillips obviously took offense to. For the record, Rosecrans' tweet was nothing more than stating facts, by divulging Phillips' career offensive statistics when hitting in the No. 2 hole in the batting order.

At that point, public support of Phillips began to greatly divide. Ever since his arrival in the Queen City in 2006, the Gold Glove wizard had maintained a rock star status in the city, was a fan favorite, and was as beloved as any person in Cincinnati could be. His flamboyant personality, coupled with his electrifying playing style and willingness to interact with fans, left him with virtually no detractors. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said anymore among Reds Country.

Report: Reds still in the mix to bring back Bronson Arroyo

Four teams remain in the hunt for Bronson Arroyo.

Entering the offseason, the odds were slim that the Reds would bring back veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo. After eight seasons in Cincinnati, both the franchise and Arroyo seemed prepared to move on.

As fate would have it, the two sides may be close to reuniting, as the market for the 37-year-old hasn't been as strong as anticipated, giving the Reds a chance to jump back into the mix for the crafty hurler.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the sweepstakes for Arroyo has been narrowed down to four teams: the Reds, the Twins, and two unnamed teams. Furthermore, ESPN's Buster Olney also reported Friday evening that the Reds plan to extend Arroyo a one-year offer.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Joey Votto named Canadian baseball player of the year for fourth straight time

For the fourth time in as many years, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has bestowed the Tip O'Neil Award to Joey Votto.

Votto becomes the first player to win the award four consecutive years. This is after he became only the second player to earn the honor three years in a row.

“Joey Votto is not only a superstar on the field, but he’s also an inspiration and a difference-maker away from the ballpark,” said Scott Crawford, the Hall of Fame’s director of operations said in a statement.

“There was a very strong field of candidates this year, but Joey deserves this honor for his tremendous contributions both on and off the field.”

Report: Reds, Dodgers 'briefly spoke about' Phillips-Kemp trade earlier in offseason

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Reds and Dodgers "briefly spoke about" the possibility of swapping All-Stars Brandon Phillips and Matt Kemp earlier this offseason.

Here is the precise excerpt taken from Sherman's recent piece:

The Dodgers and Reds briefly spoke about a Kemp-for-Brandon Phillips swap early in the offseason. But Los Angeles backed away feeling it did not want to take back a big salary (Phillips is owed $50 million for four years), generally want to get younger and also did not think it was near equal value if Kemp is healthy.

For a club who consistently complains about lack of funds, this trade sure wouldn't have made a lot of financial sense for the Reds. Although Phillips still has five years and $50 million remaining on his current contract, Kemp's contract is much more burdensome. The 29-year-old is owed approximately $140 million over the next seven seasons, which would be a steep price to pay for the Reds and their mediocre payroll, especially considering they are already on the hook for roughly $200 million made payable to Joey Votto over the next decade or so. From a baseball-only perspective, though, yes, the Dodgers had every right to be weary or skeptical they were getting the short end of the deal. I think it's a good bet that, barring injury to either player, Kemp has more production left in his career than Phillips. But Kemp is also set to get paid about three times as much as Phillips, too.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Putting a bow on the winter meetings and other fun stuff

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

If I hear the song “Grown Up Christmas List” one more time this holiday season, I think I’ll give myself a lobotomy with a pocket knife. That song is about as annoying as “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

By the time you read this, the 2013 Winter Meetings will have already passed. At the time of my writing this post, Thursday afternoon, the Reds have yet to make any moves, which surprises me a bit.

Rumors on Wednesday had the Reds talking to the New York Yankees concerning a Brandon Phillips for Brett Gardner trade. In my simplistic opinion, I have mixed feelings about the deal. I’d hate to see the league’s best second baseman, and perennial fan favorite, cross over to the “Evil Empire”, but on paper this deal makes budgetary sense. If the deal gets done, the Reds will get a proven speedster, who once led the American League in stolen bases, and a lead-off hitter should Cincinnati not win the Shin-Soo Choo sweepstakes. With Phillips multi-million dollar contract gone, the Reds can turn their attention to getting a bat to hit behind Joey Votto, or a front line starting pitcher, or both!

Could the Houston Astros end up signing Shin-Soo Choo?

There has been no shortage of teams rumored to be interested in signing free agent Shin-Soo Choo this offseason. As it stands now, the market for one of baseball's top on-base machines has dwindled, leaving teams who previously weren't considered serious contenders with hope that they may have a chance at signing him.

One of those surprise suitors may be the cash-strapped Houston Astros. According to Bob Nightengale of the USA Today, one executive general manager told him that he expects the upstart Astros to land one of baseball's top prizes of the winter.

In short, the Astros have been historically bad over the past few seasons. The franchise has changed ownership, severely cut payroll, and endured a mighty amount of losing while becoming the floormat of Major League Baseball. However, it is only a matter of time before Houston gets tired of being the laughingstock of the league, and rises out of the ashes to reemerge as a winner.

Report: Reds interested in Omar Infante

Could free agent Omar Infante end up in a Reds uniform in 2014? According to Bob Nightengale of the USA Today, the Reds are certainly interested in the idea.

Empirical evidence seems to suggest that the Reds are adamant about trading Brandon Phillips in an effort to free up payroll. Reports surfaced Wednesday night that the Yankees shot down a proposed trade involving the Gold Glove second basemen for outfielder Brett Gardner. Although it was rejected, this doesn't mean the two clubs aren't still open to a revised trade package.

Pete Rose is not too fond of the new home plate collision rule

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball approved a new proposed rule that will essentially outlaw collisions at home plate. Ultimately, it will be up to the Major League Baseball Players Association to give the final seal of approval for the law to go into effect beginning in 2014.

Basically, runners will no longer be allowed to plow into the catcher and must slide, instead. Conversely, catchers will no longer be allowed to block the dish and must permit a semi-clear path to home plate. Those who do not follow the rule will be subject to discipline.

Naturally, a rule somewhat altering the way the game is played is bound to stir up some difference of opinion. Here are some thoughts on the matter from players both present and past.

Reds lose a player, gain a player in Rule 5 Draft

There were a couple Reds-related moves in Major League Baseball's Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

With a full 40-man roster already intact, Cincinnati chose not to pursue any players in the major league portion of the draft, however, they did dip into the Triple-A round by selecting RHP Mikey O'Brien from the New York Yankees with the 14th pick. O'Brien went 8-10 with a 4.17 ERA in 25 starts between Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2013. The 23-year-old is a native of Roanoke, Virginia and was drafted in the 9th round of the 2008 Draft by the Yanks.

Meanwhile, the Reds also lost a player to the Rule 5 Draft. The Washington Nationals plucked speedy outfielder Theo Bowe from the Reds with the 13th pick in the Triple-A round. In 99 games with Double-A Pensacola last season, Bowe hit .206/.260/.307 with 19 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. As putrid as those statistics seem, Bowe did have a solid season in 2012, posting a .314/.391/.383 line with 58 stolen bases at Single-A Bakersfield. So obviously the Nationals are hoping Bowe returns to that kind of form.

To read more about the Rule 5 Draft, click here.

Report: Reds expect Bronson Arroyo to sign with another team

On Tuesday, it was reported the Reds had met with Bronson Arroyo's agent to talk about a possible deal that would bring the veteran right-hander back to the Queen City. Although still unlikely at the time, it appeared the Reds had a legitimate shot at actually making a deal come to fruition.

However, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has reported that Cincinnati fully expects Arroyo to sign elsewhere, essentially ending any and all hope Reds fans may have of witnessing Arroyo pitch in a Reds uniform next season.

The Minnesota Twins and New York Mets appear to be the top suitors for Arroyo at this stage in the offseason.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Report: Yankees turn down Brandon Phillips-Brett Gardner swap

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the New York Yankees were reportedly offered second basemen Brandon Phillips from the Reds in exchange for outfielder Brett Gardner, which the Yankees kindly declined, most likely due in part to the remaining $50 million left on Phillips' contract.

Despite Cincinnati's public attempt to diffuse any trade rumors involving Phillips last week, any sensible outsider could see their desire to move him was alive and well, especially if the right offer came along. Well, apparently the Reds decided to act on their ambitions Wednesday night, and were subsequently stonewalled by the Bronx Bombers.

If Heyman's report is true, the trade proposal in and of itself will add further strain to an already deteriorating relationship between the Reds and their 32-year-old All-Star.

Report: Reds showing increased interest in Brett Gardner

In yet more trade speculation originating from the winter meetings, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Reds are "indeed interested" in Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner.

The Pinstripes are looking to move Gardner out of the Big Apple after inking free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to multi-year contracts. And Cincinnati may have an interest in Gardner to help fill the void left behind by Shin-Soo Choo in center field and leadoff.

Walt Jocketty on Shin-Soo Choo: 'We have to move on'

Given the shrinking list of teams reportedly interested in top free agent Shin-Soo Choo, it was beginning to look like the Reds may actually have a shot at re-signing the on-base machine. Many of Choo's potential suitors virtually eliminated themselves by allocating their money to someone or somewhere else. So there was a little glimmer of hope that Cincinnati may miraculously be able to bring the valuable outfielder back.

Well, that hope was all but squashed Wednesday afternoon when general manager Walt Jocketty met with reporters, and basically confirmed what most of us already knew.

“I think we have to move on,” he somberly said. “We have to plan as if we’re moving on.”

It remains to be seen which team will actually land the coveted hitter. The favorites heading into the offseason have already addressed personnel issues by other means and aren't likely to jump back into the bidding. These teams include the Yankees, Tigers, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, among others.

Mixed signals arise regarding Homer Bailey

Unless the Reds can work out an extension beforehand, Homer Bailey will hit the free agent market at the conclusion of the 2014 season. The Reds are reportedly interested in negotiating with the right-handed stud, but concerns about overpaying or not being able to reach an extension at all have some eyeing a potential trade, although there seems to be mixed signals about the whole situation.

Despite rumors suggesting the contrary, Walt Jocketty maintains the Reds are not interested in trading Bailey. Instead, Jocketty insists the club is trying to reach an extension with him. This is precisely what he told reporters at the winter meetings on Tuesday. But things aren't always what they seem.