Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some of the best #JoeyVotto-isms of the day


I promised you I would post the best of the best #JoeyVotto tweets that I got today and here are a few of them. Reds fans dominate Twitter.

Jay Bruce pranks MLB Fan Cave finalists



Jay Bruce recently helped orchestrate a brilliant prank on one of the MLB Fan Cave finalists.

The lesson learned here is this: You don't mess with Bruce's Silver Slugger Award.

Reds rank seventh in ESPN's MLB Future Power Rankings


The collective baseball geniuses at ESPN published their second annual edition of MLB Future Power Rankings this week. The likes of Jim Bowden, Keith Law, and Buster Olney were each asked to rank all 30 teams based on five different categories in an attempt to measure how well each team is set up for success over the next handful of years.

The categories included majors, minors, finance, management, and mobility. The majors and minors categories were given full weight in the power rankings measurement, while finance and management received two-thirds weight. Mobility, or perceived ability to move players if needed, was given one-thirds weight.

ESPN published teams ranked 30 through 16 on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Reds made an appearance when they released the top 15.

Cincinnati came in at the No. 7 spot overall and fourth among National League teams.

Here is what they had to say about the Reds:

A huge midweek edition of Reds rumblings


The Reds offense erupted for 14 runs on Wednesday to blow past the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The Redlegs scored 13 of their runs in the final four frames, including six in the sixth inning and another five in the ninth inning. Xavier Paul, Donald Lutz, and Yorman Rodriguez each homered.

It marked just the second win of the spring in six tries for Cincinnati, but have no fear, these games don't count in the standings, and it is still a long way off from Opening Day. I digress.

For your viewing pleasure, I have scoured the web high and low to collect some interesting baseball and Reds-related reading material. No need for thanks, folks. Just enjoy the post.

+ Brandon Phillips is "absolutely thrilled" to be representing the United States in the World Baseball classic. Barry Bloom of MLB.com wrote a nice little feature on how Phillips received word of his invite, in addition to what lies ahead for the two-time Gold Glove second basemen. Apparently, Team USA manager Joe Torre didn't know what Twitter was before his chat with Phillips. The former Yankees skipper had to consult with his daughter to find out.

A preseason preview of the Reds bullpen

Broxton is making closer money, but will he hold the
closer's role all season?
By: Scott Eddy
Staff Writer

Today we take a look at the Cincinnati bullpen entering the 2013 season. There's a lot of solid names here and only so many spots to go around. The 'pen is undoubtedly where the hardest decisions of the spring will come for the front office.

Key Losses: None of last year’s regular contributors are gone, although you could certainly count Aroldis Chapman as a loss if he indeed does begin to transition into a starting role. Gone is longtime Red Bill Bray, who elected free agency and signed with Washington. Though Bray had been an important member of the bullpen for several seasons, the left-hander was limited to just 8.2 innings with the Reds last year due to injury. Ryan Madson, last season’s never-was closer after undergoing Tommy John surgery prior to the start of the year, signed with the Angels.

Key Additions: LHP Manny Parra, RHP Clay Hensley. Nick Masset will hopefully be available at some point after missing all of last year due to injury.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reds season ticket sales on pace to hit 13-year high


Everybody loves a winner.

The Reds are certainly living proof of this as season ticket sales are on pace to reach a level not seen since the team acquired hometown hero Ken Griffey Jr. for the 2000 season.

According to the Cincinnati Business Courier, the Reds are projected to sell more than 13,000 season-ticket equivalents this year. The franchise uses this way of measurement to account for folks who only buy partial-season plans. Simple math reveals that two half-season packages equals one season-ticket equivalent.

The projected total would represent more than a 15 percent increase from last season's sales total of around 11,000. Believe it or not, the team's season-ticket equivalent total in 2010 was as low as 7,600. The 2010 season was the year the Reds earned their first trip to the playoff since 1995 by winning the division title.

What can be expected from Ryan Ludwick this season?


Some people weren't too thrilled when the Reds signed Ryan Ludwick to a one-year deal prior to the 2012 season. The veteran's numbers had declined steadily since his 2008 All-Star campaign with St. Louis, a campaign in which smashed 37 homers, batted .299, and drove in 113 runs, to the point he hit only .237 with a .310 on-base percentage during the 2011 season. To be fair, Ludwick's drop in offensive production probably had something to do with playing in spacious PETCO Park, but his decline in value was beginning to make people think that his better playing days were behind him. However, Cincinnati was in need of a run-producing bat to play left field, and GM Walt Jocketty turned to a connection from his days as the St. Louis Cardinals general manager for the answer.

By the end of the 2012 season, Ludwick had regained his mojo, as well as disprove any doubters who believed his time as a big leaguer was over. The UNLV product proved his worth by crushing 26 homers, 80 RBI, and 28 doubles, while maintaining an .877 OPS. His bounceback year had most people around Cincinnati believing he would sign elsewhere as a free agent during the winter, but in a surprising move, Ludwick decided to go with his heart, take less money, and re-sign with the Redlegs. On Dec. 10, the two sides officially agreed to a two-year deal worth $15 million.

A preseason preview of the Reds catchers



by: Matt Bollmann
Staff Writer

The Reds decided to stand pat at the catcher position heading into the 2013 season even with the struggles of Devin Mesoraco last season. The question heading into the 2013 campaign has got to be whether or not Devin Mesoraco can serve as a solid backup to Ryan Hanigan, who we all assume will gain the nod as the primary catcher. While Miguel Olivo was brought to camp this year as a non-roster invitee, it seems as though the plan is for Mesoraco to be the backup to Hanigan. Barring an outstanding spring, or injuries to Hanigan or Mesoraco, do not expect to see Olivo make the club out of spring. Olivo could serve as a backup plan and go to Triple-A Louisville out of spring if the club decides to do that.

Key Losses: Dioner Navarro (signed by the Chicago Cubs)

Key Additions: Miguel Olivo (Non-roster invitee to Spring Training)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What kind of season can be expected from Shin-Shoo Choo?


The most pressing need entering this past offseason for the reigning National League Division champs was a reliable leadoff hitter. Cincinnati's production out of the leadoff slot in 2012 was absolutely horrendous. The Reds ranked dead last in all of baseball in average (.208), on-base percentage (.254), RBI (38), stolen bases (10), and OPS (.581). This led to a decrease in RBI opportunities for middle-of-the-order guys like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Ryan Ludwick, but the greatest negative effect was the club's inability to muster offense at times.

On Dec. 11, 2012, GM Walt Jocketty decided enough was enough when he pulled the trigger on a 3-team trade that brought OF Shin-Soo Choo, along with UTL Jason Donald and cash, to the Reds. Cincinnati parted ways with OF Drew Stubbs and SS prospect Didi Gregorius in exchange.

Choo, 30, is entering his ninth campaign in the major leagues. He was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners as an amateur free agent in 2000 before making his debut with the M's in 2005. He played sparingly with Seattle until they dealt him to the Cleveland Indians in July 2006. It wasn't until the 2008 season that Choo finally broke through and showed what he could do.

A preseason preview of the Reds infield




By: Jon Davis
Staff Writer

Today we breakdown the Cincinnati Reds infield group as we enter the 2013 season.

Going into the 2013 season, the Reds infield is quite possibly the strongest group. Normally, when you lose a guy like Scott Rolen there are questions about who fills the void, but with the emergence of Todd Frazier there are no longer any questions in that department, and with third base no longer a question mark that gave the Reds their starting infield. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Reds place nine players in USA Today top 200 player rankings


Good news, fantasy baseball lovers. The folks at USA TODAY Sports now have a special issue on sale to help you navigate successfully through your league fantasy draft. They have gone through the trouble of ranking the top 200 players in the game so you don't have to.

Apparently, USA TODAY Sports really likes the outlook for the Reds. Cincinnati placed NINE players in the top 200 and FIVE of them were included in the top 80.

Here is a breakdown:

No. 6 - Joey Votto
No. 30 - Jay Bruce
No. 45 - Brandon Phillips
No. 55 - Shin-Soo Choo
No. 77 - Johnny Cueto
No. 115 - Mat Latos
No. 130 - Aroldis Chapman
No. 165 - Ryan Ludwick
No. 168 - Todd Frazier

Reds reading material for the early week


The Reds essentially got swept by the Indians this weekend after dropping all three games to their in-state rivals at Goodyear Ballpark. This has caused some fans to hit the panic button, while the more realistic fans take the losses for what they really are: meaningless. We will get a better idea of how this team really looks once late-March and early-April rolls around. But for now, the purpose of these spring games are to serve as auditions for the minor leaguers, and minor warmups for the big league guys.

Here are a few interesting reads to help reinvigorate the minority of Reds fans who have already lost their enthusiasm for the season:

+ Devin Mesoraco did not have a very good rookie season by any stretch of the imagination in 2012. He struggled at the plate, was suspended at one point, and failed to get on the field as much as he would have liked. But he sure made his presence felt in the team's first game of the spring by smashing a long homer.

+ What kind of role will Chris Heisey play in 2013? Kyle Newport of the Bleacher Report discusses.

A preseason preview of the Reds outfield


Today marks the beginning of a 5-part series of posts breaking down the 2013 version of the Cincinnati Reds, position-by-position. Similar to last year's preseason preview, we will do our best in breaking down each player at that general position while providing an overall group grade and analysis at the end.

Here is a peek at the tentative schedule for the positional preview:

Monday (2/25) - Outfielders
Tuesday (2/26) - Infielders
Wednesday (2/27) - Catchers
Thursday (2/28) - Relief Pitchers
Friday (3/1) - Starting Pitchers

Without further adieu, here is a preview of the outfield unit.

Key Losses: Drew Stubbs (traded to CLE on 12/11/12)

Key Additions: Shin-Soo Choo (acquired via trade from CLE on 12/11/12)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reds early season schedule ranked eighth by Buster Olney


So much about the success or failure of a team often has to do with scheduling -- playing the right teams, at the right time, at the right location. ESPN baseball guru Buster Olney knows this and that is why he recently broke down the early season schedules of each team in the National League.

In case you are wondering, and I know that you are, the Reds landed in the middle-of-the-pack as far as strength of scheduling goes. Olney ranked Cincinnati's early schedule as the 8th-toughest in the league, or put another way, the 8th-easiest, since there are now only 15 teams in the NL with the Houston Astros move to the American League West.

Here is the write-up on the Reds:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

RR Roundtable: The Pilot Episode

New caps, new season, new RR opinions!

Welcome to the first edition of the Redlegs Review Staff Roundtable! This is the first of what we hope becomes a weekly gathering of RR staff writers to discuss the week that was in Reds baseball. Each week, we'll select the biggest topics and news items from the past week and give our takes. Taking part in the roundtable this week is staff writer and moderator for this week's topics, Scott Eddy (@scotte97), senior writer Jesse Welte (@RedlegsWriter), staff writer Jonathon Davis (@I_Bleed_RedsRed) and RR creator Jimmi Adair (@Redlegs_Review).

This week we discuss Reds playing (and not playing) in the World Baseball Classic, worries about Aroldis Chapman, potential spring break out players and more. Let's get to it, shall we?

Video: Brandon Phillips chats with MLB Network



Brandon Phillips chatted with MLB Network's Eric Byrnes this past week about a variety of topics. Here are some of the things they discussed:

+ Phillips' ability to hit for both power and steal bases
+ The NLDS debacle against the Giants
+ The acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo
+ Cincinnati's stellar starting rotation

Top 25 Reds wins at GABP (25-11)


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

I have an unusual hobby. I’ve been keeping journals of Cincinnati Reds games since 1991. It started when my brother-in-law gave me a weekly planner and I got an idea to hand write the 1991 Reds schedule in it, and as they say, the rest is history. I now have a nice collection of 22 heavily used weekly planners in my archives (an old shoebox).

It seems that top 10 lists are all the rage these days. Everywhere you look there’s a top 10 list somewhere. Top 10 baseball players of today, top 10 World Series, top 10 Super Bowl games, top 10 bubble gum blowers, etc. I got sucked into the vortex of top 10 lists and I came up with my own, but with a twist (pun intended). In honor of Great American Ballpark’s 10th anniversary, I’ve come up with, in my opinion, the best 25 Reds wins since GABP opened in 2003.

What kind of season can be expected from Zack Cozart?


Might the young shortstop experience a breakout year in 2013?

He's not actually as young as you'd think. He'll turn 28 on August 12th during his second full year as the Reds starting shortstop. His 2012 was not spectacular, but he provided pretty good defense at the position. His .975 fielding percentage placed him ninth among MLB shortstops as he committed 14 errors in 138 games.

At the plate, he was thrust into the leadoff spot as a rookie and failed to perform at an acceptable level, getting on-base at just a .262 clip in that spot and .288 overall. It's hard to blame just him though as everyone else who tried to hit first for the Reds failed miserably too. Overall, he did show a little pop in the bat, hitting 15 home runs to go along with 35 RBI and a .246 average.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ranking the top 10 catchers in baseball

Reds fans remember this swing all too well.
Posey's grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS
essentially ended Cincy's season.

by: Chase Fitzgerald
Staff Writer

1. Buster Posey
Last season’s stats: HR: 24 RBI: 103 AVG: .336 OPS: .957 OBP: .408 SLG: .549

After having his 2011 end with a horrible injury, Posey came back with an amazing 2012 winning the NL MVP, a Silver Slugger, and the Hank Aaron award. Posey proved to be possibly the most valuable player in all of baseball as the Giants went on to win another World Series. Every year Posey has stayed healthy, the Giants have won the World Series. Just think about that for a second. Posey’s best work came when the Giants needed him the most including him hitting a grand slam in game 5 of the NLDS to seal a victory and completing an incredible comeback from being down 2-0 in the series. Posey led all catchers in OPS, WAR, SLG, RBI, hits, and he led the entire MLB in average. Posey finally took the Molina’s crown as the best catcher in baseball and with him being only 25 and getting better every year, I don’t see that changing for a while.

2. Yadier Molina
Last season’s stats: HR: 22 RBI: 76 AVG: .315 OPS: .874 OBP: .373 SLG: .501

First Reds lineup of 2013!

Choo CF
Phillips 2B
Votto 1B
Ludwick LF
Bruce RF
Frazier 3B
Cozart SS
Hanigan C
Olivo DH
Cingrani P

It's just spring training, but it's still nice to see a lineup and this one is the first one of the year. It looks pretty much like what the Opening Day lineup will be, obviously minus the DH and with Cueto by the "P" instead of Cingrani. It looks pretty good to me.

The Reds will take on the Indians today at 3:05 ET to kick off things. Former Red Drew Stubbs will start in right for the Tribe.

I like baseball.

What kind of season can be expected from Homer Bailey?


Will Homer Bailey continue to progress in 2013 or will he revert back to his former self?

Expectations, inconsistency, and injury have plagued Bailey's career in Cincinnati. He has always been seen as having "ace-like" potential, but never lived up to those lofty projections. 2012 was a different year for him. He posted the best numbers of his career going 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA and 168 strikeouts. He credited a lot of his success to staying healthy, allowing him to make 33 starts and throw 208 innings.

He did struggle in his starts at Great American Ball Park, compiling a 4-8 record with a 5.16 ERA at home. He was a warrior on the road though. He sported a tidy 2.32 ERA, while going 9-2 in his 16 starts away from GABP. With all that being said, he put together a magnificent start at GABP against San Francisco during the playoffs. He struck out 10 Giants over seven innings of one-run baseball, though the Reds lost 2-1.

That playoff game was a big moment for Bailey, but the biggest moment of his career year without a doubt occurred on September 28th in Pittsburgh when he threw the first Reds no-hitter since 1988. He completely shut down the Pirates, striking out 10 en route to a 1-0 victory.

Photo: Pete Rose as a Lego sculpture


Have you ever wondered what Reds legend Pete Rose would look like in Lego form? If so, the fine folks at Flip Flop Fly Ballin' have your answer.

The sculpture's resemblance to Charlie Hustle is absolutely striking. From the shaggy brown hair escaping underneath his cap, to the spandex pants, to the marvelous stirrups, no detail has gone overlooked.

Brilliant.

Check out some of the other baseball greats the Fly Ballin' team has immortalized in Lego form by following this link.

Redlegs Review 2013 Preseason All-NL Central Team

2012 NL Central Standings
The ballots have been cast and the votes have been counted! Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their opinions. This was definitely a fun post to put together. But without further adieu, here is the unveiling of the Redlegs Review 2013 Preseason All-NL Central team, as voted by you the readers and fans. I hope you enjoy.

Starters
C Yadier Molina (STL)
1B Joey Votto (CIN)
2B Brandon Phillips (CIN)
SS Starlin Castro (CHC)
3B Todd Frazier (CIN)
LF Ryan Braun (MIL)
CF Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
RF Jay Bruce (CIN)

Reserves
SS Zack Cozart (CIN)
Ryan Hanigan (CIN)
OF Ryan Ludwick (CIN)
3B Aramis Ramirez (MIL)
OF Carlos Beltran (STL)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reds exercise right to block Johnny Cueto from WBC


Reds ace Johnny Cueto won't be participating in the World Baseball Classic this year. However, it certainly won't be due to a lack of desire.

The team reportedly exercised their right to prevent Cueto from playing because he ended last season with an injury. Major League Baseball has a provision in place that allows franchises to do just that. Cincinnati's decision to block Cueto from the Classic undoubtedly has to do with their fear of him getting injured, which would definitely diminish their odds of securing their third playoff berth in four seasons.

You may remember that Cueto was forced to exit Game 1 of the NLDS after tossing just eight pitches against the San Francisco Giants. The diagnosis turned out to be a strained oblique and it effectively ended the right-hander's season. Cincy was eliminated from the playoffs one week later.

The 27-year-old expressed his willingness to represent his home country, but that he respected the club's decision.

"I wanted to pitch for the Dominican but the team said no. It's all right," Cueto said Thursday. "I am going to work to get ready for the season. I was ready to pitch. I'm 100 percent."

2013 NL Central Preview: St. Louis Cardinals


by: Scott Eddy
Staff Writer

It was another magical campaign for the Cardinals last year. Once again left for dead by many in mid-season after battling injuries, St. Louis took advantage of the newly added second wild card spot and the infield fly heard round the world to shock Atlanta for a spot in the “second round” of the post-season. The Cards kept their run alive with another storybook, miracle ending to the NLDS to knock off Washington with the type of heroics that left many recalling their improbable World Series of one year prior. Finally, though, the magic ran out in the NLCS as a red-hot Giants squad ended the Cardinals’ run one step shy of another pennant.

Still, it wasn’t a bad season for a team that lost both its manager and best player the previous off-season. The Cardinals proved that there was indeed life after Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa and with a fairly stocked major league roster along with a farm system full of young talent, there’s little indication the Cards are going anywhere any time soon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reports: Joey Votto expected to play for Team Canada in WBC


Update (1:35 PM) - It's official. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer has confirmed that Votto will indeed be on Canada's roster for the Classic. Votto joins Alfredo Simon (Dominican Republic) and Brandon Phillips (United States) as the three Reds representatives in the WBC.

Although no official announcement has been made yet, two Canadian media outlets are reporting that Reds All-Star first basemen Joey Votto is likely to represent Team Canada during next month's World Baseball Classic.

The Toronto Star published a report late Tuesday with quotes from Canadian baseball director Greg Hamilton, who says he is "confident" that Votto is going to be a part of the team.

"As of right now, Joey is going to be with us,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton added that he isn't concerned about Votto's surgically repaired knee being a deterrent from having the former MVP participate.

“We have some things that still need to be dotted and crossed to make sure that everything’s fine... Joey wants to play, Joey feels good. We just got a few things that need to fall into place here.”

What kind of season can be expected out of Aroldis Chapman?


Is he a starter? Is he a reliever? Is he even human?

These are all questions being asked by fans and media alike this winter when discussing Reds southpaw Aroldis Chapman. Okay, so that last one may be a bit of an exaggeration, but anyone who can throw a 100 MPH fastball with the relative ease as Chapman does warrants such super-human and/or immortal consideration. Enough of that. Now, back to preseason expectations.

The Reds enter this season with a widely-known plan to transition The Cuban Missile from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Folks with fantastic long-term memory may remember that the club had a similar agenda last spring before the injury bug bit the team's relief staff pretty hard. When key contributors Nick Masset, Bill Bray, and Ryan Madson went down to various ailments, the Reds were forced to abandon their ambitious plan.

2013 NL Central Preview: Milwaukee Brewers



By: Jon Davis
Staff Writer

Today’s preview looks at the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew will look to rebound from a sub-par third place finish in 2012.  They did make a run in August and September, which was the only reason they finished with a winning record.  I am sure the entire organization hopes that the strong finish last year was a sign of things to come. For the second offseason in a row the focus of media attention is on Ryan Braun, as he should be, but not when it is for being associated with performance enhancing drugs.

As with most teams pitching plays a key role in the success or failure of any team, the Brewers rotation is a huge key for them, if they are to compete.  After losing two fifths of their starting rotation from last year, one of their strengths has become a weakness and big question mark, in my estimation.  The will be replacing Zack Greinke with Marco Estrada, which is not a good start.  They will then rely on some combination of Michael FiersMark RogersWily Peralta, and Chris Narveson, who is hoping to rebound from shoulder surgery, to fill the other three rotation spots. Other less likely possibilities are prospects Tyler ThornburgTaylor Jungmann and Hiram Burgos. Overall there is some potential here but also some question marks.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pete Rose releases statement pleading for Topps to restore card ommissions


Topps created a buzz last week when the card company announced that it would no longer acknowledge the achievements of Pete Rose on the back of today's baseball cards. On Tuesday, the Cincinnati legend released a series of statements pleading for Topps and Major League Baseball to overturn the decision.
"I am not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me. I am asking only that Topps/MLB not compound my punishment by deleting the truth of what I achieved,'' Rose said in a statement released to USA TODAY Sports. "Please believe me, I have suffered very much for what I did, but I need to respond when what I did fair and square in baseball is taken away from me too. That is neither fair nor honest.''
Rose played in the league from 1963 to 1986 and served as the manager of the Reds from 1984 to 1989. In August 1989, Rose agreed to become permanently ineligible from baseball amid accusations that he gambled on baseball while playing and managing for the Reds, which includes claims that he even bet on his own team.

Video: Baseball Tonight crew pays a visit to the Reds in camp



The ESPN Baseball Tonight crew made a stop in Goodyear, Ariz. on Tuesday to feature our beloved Redlegs. Watch as Jon Sciambi, Tim Kurkjian, and former Reds third basemen Aaron Boone voice their opinion on a variety of hot topics including Aroldis Chapman's move from the bullpen to the rotation, what newly-acquired outfielder Shin-Soo Choo brings to the team, and the status of Joey Votto's health.

The guys conclude the video clip by giving their expectations for the Reds in 2013. (Spoiler alert: Both Boone and Kurkjian really like Cincy's outlook).

The crew was also at the Goodyear complex on Monday to cover the Indians, who share the facility with their Ohio brethren.

Jim Bowden calls Shin Soo Choo a worthwhile risk for Reds


When the Reds acquired Shin-Shoo Choo from the Indians this offseason many believed Cincinnati basically swapped better offensive production from the leadoff spot in exchange for a shaky, unproven, defensive center fielder. Count former general manager and current ESPN writer Jim Bowden as one of them.

The Reds have struggled to find a legitimate leadoff hitter for several years now. And the decision by general manager Walt Jocketty to trade for Choo is the team's solution for the aforementioned struggles. However, there are plenty of baseball pundits already questioning whether or not Choo can play the center field position effectively. In fairness, the 8-year veteran has appeared in only 10 games there in his Major League career, so it is not hard to see why some folks may be skeptical.

In a piece published on Tuesday, Bowden calls the Reds' plan to insert Choo as the everyday center fielder a mighty gamble. He was so initially puzzled by the move that he sought out the professional opinion of 15 baseball scouts and evaluators to help make sense of it all.

What kind of season can be expected out of Mat Latos?


The first season for Mat Latos in Cincinnati was by all means a successful one.

The right-hander was as good as advertised last season en route to posting a 14-4 record and 3.48 ERA in a career-high 33 starts. There were initial concerns on how Latos would handle the transition from pitching in spacious PETCO Park to the hitter's paradise known as Great American Ball Park. Those concerns turned out to be rather meaningless as Latos actually posted a lower ERA at home (3.18) than he did on the road (3.93).

However, he did surrender 18 of his 25 homers at Great American Ball Park. Hey, what do you expect from a guy who many consider to be power pitcher? Nonetheless, he still lived up to most of the high expectations set for him, which is incredible considering the vast amount of pressure he faced once the Reds unloaded a plethora of talent to the Padres for his services.

2013 NL Central Preview: Chicago Cubs




Everyone heckles the Cubs
Despite packing in the fans last year (the Cubs held the tenth spot in overall attendance rankings) the Cubs managed to fall 36 games behind the first-place Reds, finishing fifth in the NL Central standings. WIll the bleacher bums have something to cheer about in 2013 or will they heckle their own team worse than the two old men in the balcony on the Muppets?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ranking the top 10 left fielders in baseball

Hate him or love him, Braun is one
of the best outfielders in the game

by: Chase Fitzgerald
Staff Writer

1. Ryan Braun
Last season’s stats: HR: 41 RBI: 112 AVG: .319 OPS: .987 OBP: .391 SLG: .595

Over the past two seasons, Ryan Braun has proved himself to be not only the best left fielder in the game, but arguably the best player in all of baseball. He won the MVP in 2011 and was the runner up this year and with him just entering his prime now, he should be contending for another one next season. He led all LF in Slugging, OBP, average, hits, runs, and WAR while adding 41 homeruns and 112 RBIs. Braun has been accused of using PEDs but until he is proven guilty, in my opinion, his name should be clean. Braun is one of the best players in the game and he consistently puts up amazing numbers. He has won a Silver Slugger each of the past 5 seasons and continues to improve every season. Braun may be the best player in the National League and I can’t wait for what he has in store for us next year.

2. Josh Hamilton
Last season’s stats: HR: 43 RBI: 128 AVG: .285 OPS: .930 OBP: .354 SLG: .577

Athlon tabs Reds as one of MLB's top 10 franchises of last 50 years


If you had to objectively rank all 30 MLB teams based on their performance over the past 50 years, where would the Reds land on that list? Thankfully, our friends over at Athlon Sports already did the dirty work, so all there is left to do for us is to discuss Cincinnati's place on the list.

The Reds cracked the top 10, by the way, after claiming the No. 8 spot in the rankings. The only National League Central club to finish higher in the standings were the rival Redbirds from St. Louis (No. 2).

Here is what Athlon had to say about baseball's oldest professional franchise:

If this were 1980, the Reds would rival the Yankees, but the Marge Schott Era and tough economics have kept this proud franchise from reaching the top. Few traditions match their Opening Day parade.

The Good
The Big Red Machine of the 1970s became the face of the National League. From 1970-77, four Reds players were honored with six of the eight MVP awards.

2013 NL Central Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

Today we begin our series of previewing the Reds 2013 divisional opponents. The landscape of the NL Central is about the same as last year except for one glaring omission. The Houston Astros are now in the American League.

We begin with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have become the division's tease in the past two years. Can they get over the hump in 2013?

Just like in 2011, the Pirates got off to a hot start in 2012, but completely fell off the wagon late in the year and just barely ended up with another losing season. They actually led the division by a season-high two games after a win on July 5th and were a season-high 16 games over .500 as late as August 8th. This is where Zoltan would abandon them. From that point on, they finished the season 16-36 in their final 52 games. On September 28th, the Pirates were no-hit by Homer Bailey in a 1-0 loss to our beloved Cincinnat Reds for their 81st loss. Two days later, the Reds handed them their 82nd loss, securing them a 20th consecutive losing season. It is the longest in North American sports history. They ended up 79-83 for the season, in fourth place, and 18 games back of the first place.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brandon Phillips: Flair cost me Glove Glove


On Saturday, Brandon Phillips was asked how he felt about being denied of his fourth career Rawilings Gold Glove Award last season. Naturally, the two-time All-Star certainly didn't disappoint by providing some rather interesting answers.

“Was I surprised? Yes. I don’t get mad at things I really can’t control. But I was very surprised I didn’t see my name. I thought I was getting punked when I heard about it. That’s the way it is,” said Phillips.

No, Ashton Kutcher and his Punk'd team weren't in on the decision at all. The managers and coaches just decided to vote for Chicago Cubs second basemen Darwin Barney, instead. But Phillips believes his style of play was much to blame for voters favoring Barney over him.

“The only thing I can do is go out and play the game the way I do. I do it with flair because baseball is a boring game. That’s why I play with flair. Do I think that’s one of the main reasons I didn’t win the Gold Glove? Yeah, I can say that. The managers don’t like me. They see my work ethic. They see I’m a good baseball player. If I was on their team, they’d love me.”

What kind of season can be expected out of Jay Bruce?


The 2013 season will mark the sixth in the young career of the left-handed slugger. Bruce is coming off a season in which he posted career-highs in homers (34), RBI (99), runs scored (89), doubles (35), and slugging (.514). Those numbers helped propel him to his first career Silver Slugger Award, as well as his second straight trip to the Midsummer Classic, in 2012. This goes without saying, but the expectations remain high for the former first round pick heading into spring.

It's hard to believe Bruce is still only 25 years of age. It seems as though No. 32 has been gracing the Cincinnati outfield for a long time now, and in a way he has. Bruce has been the everyday right fielder for the Reds since debuting as a rookie in 2008. And if his contract holds true, the Texas native will be patrolling the Great American Ball Park grass until at least 2016.

But for now, let's focus on the present. Here are some 2013 statistical projections for Bruce.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reds agree to terms with Homer Bailey, avoid arbitration for ninth straight year


The Reds avoided having to go to an arbitration hearing for the first time in nine years after inking Homer Bailey to a one-year deal worth $5.35 million, the team announced on Saturday.

Bailey originally filed for $5.8 million while the club countered at $4.75 million. As usual in these arbitration cases, the two sides worked out a settlement and found a common middle ground to avoid having to fight it out in front of an arbitrator.

The right-hander was the last of the club's seven arbitration cases to agree on a contract. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty called this year the "toughest" he has ever experienced as far as negotiating deals with arbitration players goes.

Bailey went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 33 starts for the National League Central champions in 2012 -- one of those victories came after he tossed a no-hitter in September. He also earned a base salary of $2.425 million. Therefore, this season will provide the 26-year-old with a rather sizeable pay increase.

Some weekend reading material for Reds faithful


Baseball is in the air, folks. Hallelujah.

+ CincinnatiMagazine.com has an in-depth look at the "complicated life" of Reds southpaw Aroldis Chapman. The piece includes insight on Chapman's performance on the field, his off-the-field issues, and his defection from Cuba. It really is an interesting read and I would recommend the article to any baseball fan in general.

+ John Fay hits on several key points from spring training including the battle for the last position player on the roster, the team's relative youth, Bronson Arroyo's apparent sickness, and an update on the Reds prospect who was critically injured in an auto accident last season.

+ Mark Sheldon shared a few notes from Friday's full-squad workout in this post. He observed that Joey Votto showed no ill effects of his surgically repaired left knee and also that new catcher Miguel Olivo apparently was crushing balls over the fence during batting practice, among other things.

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.

Former Reds executive remains skeptical Aroldis Chapman will start


The Redlegs have been adamant about moving Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation for three years now. However, he is found himself pitching out of the bullpen in Cincinnati for each of the first two seasons. But the Reds appear serious about dubbing him a starter this go around after re-signing Jonthan Broxton to a multi-year deal to be the team's closer. But one ESPN writer isn't sold yet that the club will follow through on its intentions.

Jim Bowden, former general manager of the Reds, believes the Reds will move Chapman back to the closer's role. He did so in a post entitled "Five moves that will happen this spring" and here is what he had to say about the Reds:

Early spring training thoughts on the 2013 Reds


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love…..and heavily thinks about BASEBALL, especially if he’s one of the millions of people who play fantasy baseball. With sincere apologies to Lord Tennyson, it’s not my intention to wax poetic, but hey, Spring Training is here!

There are a lot of unanswered questions going into Spring Training ’13. Will our beloved Reds recover from last year’s postseason meltdown? Could the Giants repeat? How will Boston do under their new field boss, John Farrell? Will the Toronto Blue Jays, who this offseason spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave, win the A.L. East? Did you know Toronto increased their payroll this season by nearly 40 million dollars Canadian? In American currency, given the current exchange rate, that’s equal to 40 million dollars! How many New York Yankees players will start drawing Social Security this season? (I’m thinking at least 15.) Will White Sox veteran, and former Red, Adam Dunn finally live up to his potential in this, his 13th season. That’s for a friend of mine, who has a serious “man crush” on Dunn, he’s probably getting weak right now just from reading this sentence.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fox Sports Ohio releases Reds television schedule for 2013


From FOX Sports Ohio....

CINCINNATI, OH – FOX Sports Ohio today announced its 145-game Cincinnati Reds television schedule for 2013. The Reds regular season begins with their home opener on Monday, April 1st at 4pm against the LA Angels at Great American Ball Park. The entire schedule is below.

The network will kick off its coverage of the home opener at 3pm with a special hour-longReds Live pregame show, presented by Ray St. Clair Roofing. Jim Day and Jeff Piecoro will take the field to feature all the Opening Day festivities. FOX Sports Ohio is also happy to partner with Local 12 WKRC-TV to simulcast Reds Opening Day.

FOX Sports Ohio will continue its comprehensive pregame coverage of the Reds all season long with the return ofReds Live featuring co-hosts Day and Piecoro and feature reporter Brian Giesenschlag. The pregame edition ofReds Live, presented by Ray St. Clair Roofing, will once againprovide fans with commentary, features, and in-depth pregame coverage of the Reds 30 minutes prior to every game telecast. Immediately following the final out of each game, the post-game edition ofReds Live, presented by Kings Honda, will feature highlights, player interviews and analysis.

Miguel Cairo to stay within Reds organization in new role


Reds fans probably thought they had seen the last of Miguel Cairo last season. However, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that "Miggy" will stay on as a member of the organization and join the baseball operations staff as a special assistant to the general manager.

Cairo will be in camp tomorrow. He’ll work as an instructor with major leagues and minor leagues. Cairo, 38, played the final three years of his 17-year career with the Reds. He was the Reds’ recipient of the MLB Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle Award in 2011.

The Venezuelan native has been around the professional game for over three decades. He was originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1990 at the age of 16.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

World Series and pennant odds for all 30 MLB teams


It may only be mid-February, and the World Series is still over eight months away, but that hasn't stopped the oddsmakers in Las Vegas from reeling in the risk takers. On Tuesday, the Sporting News rounded up the 2013 World Series odds, as well as the odds to win the National League and American League pennants, courtesy of LVH SuperBook.

Here is a look at the current odds for all 30 MLB teams:

2013 WORLD SERIES

What kind of season can be expected out of Johnny Cueto?


In 2004, the Reds signed an amateur free agent by the name of Johnny Cueto out of the Dominican Republic. In 2013, that same player enters the season as the undisputed ace of the pitching staff.

Cueto will turn 27-years-old on Friday, but he has already established quite the resume for himself in five big league seasons. The right-hander finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting last year after tallying a 19-9 record and a 2.78 ERA in a career-high 33 games started. He also tallied career-highs in innings pitched (217), strikeouts (170), WAR (5.8), and K/BB (3.47).

Despite emerging as one of the National League's best starting pitchers in recent years, Cueto has yet to garner an invite to the All-Star Game. Cueto can probably thank an old grudge and former Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa for that, but I digress.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scott Rolen will not return to the Reds this spring


The Reds have been waiting on a decision on whether or not Scott Rolen would return for another year since the previous season ended in October. On Tuesday afternoon, they finally received their elusive answer.

Scott Rolen will not be attending Reds camp this spring, but stopped short of announcing complete retirement.

The Reds released the following statement via Twitter on the matter:

Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty said of 3B Scott Rolen, who will not be attending camp with the Reds this spring, “Scott made significant contributions to our team’s recent success, and it isn’t a coincidence we made the playoffs in two of his three full seasons here. He made a huge impact in Cincinnati with his work ethic and leadership on the field, in the clubhouse and in our community.”…Rolen, who issued this statement through the team, said, “Right now I’m simply not ready to make a commitment. I would like to leave my options open, without closing any doors. I am looking forward to all of the challenges, both personally and professionally, I will face in the future.”

Bowden ranks the Reds offseason as 17th-best among baseball


The beginning of spring training on Monday officially closed the chapter on the baseball offseason. This means that we can now critique the work of each and every team over the winter, including the Reds.

Thankfully, former general manager and current ESPN.com writer Jim Bowden did the work for us. He took the time to evaluate and rank all 30 teams based on criteria which included:

- How it improved the team for 2013, as well as the next five years.
- How it affected payroll and budgets -- both short and long term.
- How it affected team chemistry and clubhouse culture.
- How needs were filled -- through free agency, trade or farm system.
- The amount of money committed compared with the value received.
- Aggressiveness.

With that in mind, he decided to rank the Reds 17th.

Reds reach two-year deal with Latos

And then there was one... Homer Bailey remains the lone arbitration-eligible player who has not yet agreed to terms with the Reds, as they have reached a two-year agreement with Mat Latos. Mark Sheldon was the first I saw to tweet about it.

The terms of the deal were not immediately available but it's safe to say Latos earned a massive raise, after earning $550,000 last year. When the team and Latos exchanged salary figures last month, they offered $4.15 million while Latos sought $4.7 million.

*Update: Sheldon writes that it is a two-year, $11.5 million deal for Latos, with assorted bonuses.

While it's not the long term deal I'm sure the Reds wanted, it will at least keep the two sides from having to go to arbitration next year as well, and most importantly, keep Latos on the mound in Cincinnati through 2014. Latos will be eligible for arbitration again in 2015, before becoming a free agent in 2016.

Yesterday, the Reds avoided arbitration with Shin-Soo Choo, signing him to a one-year deal, reportedly worth $7.375 million deal.

The team can now focus soley on locking down Bailey long-term, although it looks as if they may also have to settle for a one or two-year deal with him as well if they are to avoid arbitration.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reds add bullpen depth, sign veteran Clay Hensley


Cincinnati made an effort to provide more depth to their bullpen on Monday by signing veteran reliever Clay Hensley to a minor league contract. The deal also includes an invite to spring training as a non-roster player.

The Reds will mark the fourth franchise Hensley has played for throughout his seven-year Major League Baseball career. The 33-year-old spent the 2012 season pitching for the San Francisco Giants after previously serving stints with the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres.

The right-hander appeared in 60 games last season and tallied a 4.62 ERA. He owns a 4.00 ERA and 28-34 record in 271 lifetime appearances.

Hensley earned $750,000 in salary with the Giants last year and that is likely to be in the ballpark of what he will make in 2013 as a Red.

The Texas native will join a relief staff who sported the best ERA in the majors a season ago. He will undoubtedly be competing hard for a spot on the big league roster this spring.

Reds reach deal with Shin Soo Choo to avoid arbitration


The Reds and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo have avoided arbitration after reportedly agreeing to a one-year deal. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer was the first to break the news.

Choo, was acquired via trade from the Cleveland Indians in December, filed for $8 million. The Reds countered at approximately $6.75 million. The financial details of the finalized contract have yet to be released, but it is safe to assume that the final figure is somewhere in between.

The Korean native earned approximately $4.9 million last season.

The accord with Choo now means the Reds have only two arbitration-eligible players left to sign: pitchers Mat Latos and Homer Bailey.

Although it is getting late in the process, recent history suggests that the team will work out deals with both players before having to go to the arbitration table. Cincinnati hasn't had a case go to hearing since 2004 with Chris Reitsma.

Update (5:59 PM) - The deal is reportedly worth $7.375 million