Saturday, January 18, 2014

Recapping the week that was and other Reds news, notes

It's not been an overly exciting offseason to be a Reds fans. But the last week has produced several notable nuggets to discuss. In a effort to get you all caught up, here is a rundown on those aforementioned nuggets of discussion, as well as some other Reds news, notes, and links. I hope you enjoy.

Redlegs Review of the week that was...

+ On Monday, the Reds announced a couple of signings. Veteran southpaw Jeff Francis is back with the organization after previously pitching for Triple-A Louisville in 2012. Outfielder Thomas Neal, 26, will also be joining the franchise in 2014 after spending last season within the Cubs and Yankees organizations, where he batted .325/.391/.411 in 297 career plate appearances. Both players inked minor league deals.

+ Robert Stephenson is among five pitchers that have received an invite to big league spring camp. The others include Francis and minor league prospects Tim Crabbe, Drew Hayes, Michael Lorenzen. The Reds announced the news on Wednesday.

+ Speaking of Stephenson, the star-in-the-making was recently ranked as the 7th-best right-handed prospect in all of baseball by It goes without saying, but Stephenson is the highest rated pitcher in Cincinnati's farm system, and some project that he could be pitching in the majors by summer.

Six Reds players filed for arbitration on Tuesday. By Friday, all but two had signed new deals to avoid having to go through the arbitration process any longer. Chris Heisey reached an accord Thursday evening while the pitching trio of Mike Leake, Sam LeCure, and Alfredo Simon signed on the dotted line on Friday. Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman remain the lone Reds players in arbitration. Each exchanged figures with the team before Friday's deadline.

Other random stuff...

+ Arguably the biggest headline from this week in baseball news is the approval by Major League Baseball to install expanded instant replay. Until now, video review was only permitted for borderline calls involving home runs, which happened at the discretion of the umpires. This we all change in 2014 as 13 types of plays will be eligible for review. Furthermore, each manager will start a game with one challenge and teams will be allowed to show replays on the in-stadium video boards.

+ Is free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz the "missing link" for the Reds? I don't think so. But ESPN Insider Jim Bowden does. And he also posits that Astros prospect George Springer may be the missing link as well. Those of you without access to ESPN Insider content won't be able to see Bowden's piece in its entirety. So, I've included an excerpt from his piece in the Redlegs Review write-up, instead.

+ The Reds are offering fans half-price admission to the Reds Hall Hall of Fame & Museum on Monday. It's part of a celebration in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

+ ESPN's Dave Cameron says the Reds have had "a lousy winter." I don't disagree with him, either. But he also opines on how the team can salvage what is left of this non-newsworthy offseason.

+ Reds VP Bob Miller is clearly not a fan of the arbitration process. He went on the air with C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday and proceeded to rip the whole idea.

+ Looking for the best single-season performances by Reds players of all-time? If so, our friend Matt Snyder over at CBS Sports recently put the pen to the pad on a post attempting to do just that. Warning: the lineup Snyder produces could strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers.

+ Countdown Tracker: 27 days until pitchers and catchers report to Arizona, 39 days until the first spring training game, 72 days until Opening Day against the Cardinals.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Enjoy the football games this weekend.

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