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!

The down side of this deal is the fear of the unknown. On paper center fielder Brett Gardner hitting first followed by new second baseman Billy Hamilton looks like the return of the days when the Reds ran roughshod over the National League during the 1970’s. My fear is the knowledge of the fact that in the history of baseball nobody has ever stolen first base.

Hamilton last September was awesome, .368 batting average, .429 on base percentage, 13 steals and nine runs scored, but playing one month against teams with minor league call-ups does not compose a season. Gardner’s 2013 slash line looked decent at .273/.344/.416, but hitting in front of an unseasoned rookie, would he see many good pitches? Does he have the plate discipline needed? In 2013 Gardner struck out 127 times in 539 at bats, so you decide. For what it’s worth, Shin-Soo Choo fanned 133 times in 569 at bats this past season.

Another point, let’s say at the All Star break Gardner is batting .245 and Hamilton is hitting a mere .228, how do you think the Reds won-loss record is going to look at that point of the season? Pray the pitching holds up!

Late Thursday afternoon reports say the Yankees have rejected the trade which is fine with me. Now that the Joba Chamberlain Experiment has moved to Detroit, maybe they were holding out for Homer Bailey.

The latest rumor has former Detroit Tiger Omar Infante being linked to the Reds, along with the Kansas City Royals and the Yankees. My guess is Infante will go to New York.

More on Shin-Soo Choo, the talking heads of the media are saying that he’s heading for Houston. I think Cincinnati excused themselves on Thursday afternoon, shortly after I started writing this post. As of 9:30pm Thursday night, it looks like Billy Hamilton will be the Opening Day centerfielder.

As far as pitching is concerned, I like the rotation of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Tony Cingrani. I would love to see another quality lefty on the staff but beggars can’t be choosers.

In the “I’m So Glad I Have Satellite TV Department”, Thursday evening I was watching a re-run of the iconic 1950’s game show “You Bet Your Life” hosted by legendary comic Groucho Marx on Jewish Life Television Network. One of the contestants was none other than former Reds third baseman Chuck Dressen. Dressen managed several baseball teams during his career including the Reds from 1934 to 1937, and won back to back pennants with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952 and 1953. Dressen mentioned during the show that he was getting ready to begin the 1955 season managing the Washington Senators.

Useless Trivia; Chuck Dressen played professional football in 1920 with the Decatur (Illinois) Staleys. The Staleys would later become the Chicago Bears. Dressen was also the losing manager in one of baseball’s most famous games, the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” classic between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants on October 3, 1951 won by the Giants on a two out three run walk off homer by Bobby Thompson.

More Useless Trivia; Stay with me on this one. The Brooklyn Dodgers were once an NFL team too, and like their baseball namesakes, played at Ebbets Field from 1930 to 1943. Another team in the league during Brooklyn’s inaugural 1930 season was the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans, which would become the Detroit Lions. Portsmouth most famous resident, aside from former Pittsburgh Pirate Al Oliver, was the western legend Roy Rogers whose family moved to Portsmouth in 1912 when he was less than a year old. Rogers was born Leonard Franklin Slye on November 5, 1911 in a tenement building on 2nd Street in Cincinnati Ohio, which was torn down in the late 1960’s to make room for Riverfront Stadium. See it was worth the wait!

Speaking of Spartans, last Saturday’s Ohio State loss stung a little bit. The Buckeyes need to take their frustrations out on the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl on January 3rd!

Have a blessed week.

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