Friday, January 31, 2014

Ex-Reds catcher Joe Oliver to manage Red Sox minor league affiliate

Former Reds catcher Joe Oliver, who was an integral part of the 1990 World Series champion team, has been hired to manage the Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox this season.

The 48-year-old becomes the 11th manager in the franchise history of the Lowell Spinners.

Debuting in 1989, Oliver spent 13 seasons in the major leagues, eight of which came in Cincinnati, where he posted a career .247 batting average with 102 home runs and 476 RBI. He also spent time with the Mariners, Pirates, Yankees, Tigers, Brewers, and Red Sox.

Reds ink Roger Bernadina to minor league deal


Another day, another minor league deal given to a player by the Reds.

On Friday, the Reds reportedly agreed to a minor league contract with free agent outfielder Roger Bernadina, which includes an invite to spring training, which now brings the number of players expected to report to Cincinnati's big league spring camp to a rather crowded 59.

The 29-year-old spent the majority of his first six seasons with the Washington Nationals before being released last August. He was quickly snatched up by the Philadelphia Phillies and batted a combined .181/.250/.295 for the year.

Keith Law ranks Cincinnati's top 10 prospects


In yet another batch of prospect rankings, Keith Law of ESPN Insider joined in on the fun Friday, by unveiling rankings for every club in the National League, including the Reds.

It's one of those subscriber-only type pieces, so folks without paid subscriptions to ESPN Insider won't have access, but here's a brief glimpse at what Law had to say about Cincinnati.

To no surprise, budding hurler Robert Stephenson took Law's top spot, as he continues to be the unanimous pick for best prospect in the Reds' system.

Meanwhile, the lightning quick Billy Hamilton wasn't too far behind, followed by, in no particular order, 2013 first round pick Phillip Ervin, outfielders Jesse Winker and Yorman Rodriguez, and right-handed pitchers Michael Lorenzen, Nick Travieso and Chad Rogers, among others.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Some hot stove notes from my igloo


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

You know, the Eskimos are right, igloos are quite cozy.

No matter how loud you say it, yelling “mush” at a frozen car will not make it start, I know, I tried it. Thank God for jumper cables.

Rubbing two sticks together will start a fire, as long as one is a match.

Rumor has it that Santa Claus is moving his operations to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Why shouldn’t he, Michigan has been getting gifts from sports referees for years.

ESPN’s Mike Golic made a profound statement on his radio show the other day. Golic said if your town’s high temperature is two below zero, that’s not a high temperature.

Reds to hold Hall of Fame induction weekend in August


Four former Reds will join an exclusive club of franchise greats this August when the team holds its Hall of Fame induction weekend from August 8-10. The following is a press release sent out by the team which details the festive occasion.

CINCINNATI (Jan. 29, 2014) - The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum will honor the storied careers of Ken Griffey Jr., Dave Parker, Ron Oester and the late Jake Beckley during 2014 Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, August 8-10, in Cincinnati.

Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is a great opportunity for fans to visit the Museum and take part in the variety of activities involving Reds Hall of Famers and Reds alumni.

The Induction ceremony for the class of 2014 will take place on Saturday, Aug. 9 prior to the Reds vs. Miami Marlins game at 7:10 p.m.

Where do the Reds rank among the top rotations in the National League?


Pitching.

It's been the key ingredient of successful baseball teams since the dawn of the sport's creation. Without good pitching, teams usually end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard more times than not.

The logic behind building a strong pitching staff is not unfathomable. Teams who boast good pitching limit runs scored by opposing teams, thus making the amount of runs needed to win much lower.

Over the past two seasons, few National League franchises have been better at preventing runs than the Cincinnati Reds. They allowed the fourth-fewest runs in 2013 on the heels of allowing the least amount of runs to cross the dish in 2012. It's true that a bulk of this success can be attributed to Cincinnati's elite bullpen. But the starting rotation deserves much of the credit, as well.

MLB.com writer suggests Reds should bat Joey Votto second in the lineup


The notion of batting Joey Votto second in the lineup is nothing new. It has been casually thrown around for a couple of years now due to Votto's propensity to get on base. But Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com fanned the embers once more on Wednesday when he wrote a piece proposing the Reds should do just that.

It's a rather lengthy piece, so for the sake of time, I'll only provide the snippets that provide the best reasoning behind Castronvince's logic.

If Price is not already planning on batting Joey Votto in the two-hole, he needs to, because the Reds never did find a reliable No. 2 hitter last season and they can ill-afford to go down that road again now that their Choo-less leadoff spot is also a question mark.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bronson Arroyo laments frustration of struggling to find job


It wasn't supposed to be this challenging for Bronson Arroyo. Sure, the right-hander is getting up there in age (37), but given his unparralled track record of durability and reliability, finding a team willing to give him the contract he wanted via free agency wasn't supposed to be too difficult.

Well, as fate would have it, landing such a deal has proven to be extremely elusive for Arroyo, and he vented his frustrations about the situation through a recent article written by ESPN's Jayson Stark.

There is tons of facts and information in the piece which supports the idea of signing Arroyo. But any one who has kept an eye on the Reds over the past decade has seen how valuable Arroyo can be. What really stuck out to me in Stark's article is some of the quotes. Specifically, the revelation by Arroyo that he has zero offers on the table right now.

Arroyo also expressed his discontent with the Yankees willingness to sign Masahiro Tanaka to a whopping contract without ever seeing him throw a pitch in the major leagues.

Reds agree to minor league deal with veteran infielder Ramon Santiago

The Reds made another move on Wednesday. But it's probably not the kind that fans were so desperately hoping for.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Cincinnati has struck a minor league deal with free agent infielder Ramon Santiago, which could reportedly pay him up to $1.1 million this season. The contract also includes an invite to big league spring camp.

General manager Walt Jocketty has been quoted many times this winter as wanting a veteran utility player for infield insurance. It appears that the 34-year-old Santiago fits that mold.

Santiago, a 12-year MLB veteran, has the ability to play shortstop, second base, and third base, but over half of his career defensive innings have been spent at short.

Ken Rosenthal: Reds should be 'proactive' and consider trading veteran starting pitcher


On Wednesday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided a slew of notable highlights in his most recent piece. And much of the space in his column was allocated to something pertaining to the Reds.

Namely, the conundrum the club finds itself in regarding the ability to retain its starting rotation beyond 2015. As Rosenthal points out, the odds of keeping Homer Bailey in a Reds uniform past this season seem very slim. Furthermore, the trio of Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Johnny Cueto could all become free agents at the end of 2015, as well. Thus, leaving Cincinnati in a precarious position indeed.

Here is what Rosenthal proposes the Reds should do to solve the problem:

Devin Mesoraco pegged among five players in 'make-or-break' seasons


As recently as two years ago, industry experts held the common belief that Devin Mesoraco was the best prospect in Cincinnati's organization. The Reds must have agreed with this sentiment partly because they chose to trade another promising catcher, Yasmani Grandal, in order to clear the path for Mesoraco to take over the catching duties one day.

Now, with the departure of Ryan Hanigan, that inevitable day seems to have finally come for Mesoraco, as the 25-year-old will be entrusted to fill the starting backstop role. Whether or not he succeeds remains to be seen, but it's safe to call his audition for the job over the past few years a disappointment. In 589 major league plate appearances, Mesoraco has slashed just .225/.282/.359 with 16 home runs, 44 walks, and 104 strikeouts, which is a far cry from the .289/.371/.484 line he produced at Triple-A Louisville in 2011.

Fortunately, Mesoraco has a chance to change the trajectory of his most recent results in 2014, as he will be given every ample opportunity to perform on a (mostly) everyday basis.

With that being said, he was recently pegged by David Schoenfield of ESPN.com as one of five players heading into a "make-or-break" campaign. Here is a quick look at what Schoenfield had to say about the right-handed hitting and throwing youngster from Pennsylvania.

Pair of Reds land on 'top 100 prospects' list by ESPN's Keith Law


A day removed from ranking Cincinnati's farm system as the 16th-best in baseball, Keith Law of ESPN Insider was at it again on Wednesday, but this time he published his 2014 list of Top 100 Prospects.

Not surprisingly, the Reds placed a couple of players on Law's list: RHP Robert Stephenson and OF Billy Hamilton. The article is available for those with paid subscriptions only, so you will have to shell out a few dollars if you want a glimpse at the whole list, but we will at least give you some insight on how the two Reds prospects fared.

Stephenson earned the 29th spot in the rankings and continues to be the consensus top youngster in Cincinnati's minor league system. Meanwhile, Hamilton grabbed the 52nd slot, making him the second and final Reds prospect on the list.

Here is a snippet of what Law had to say about both of them:

Get your tickets for Reds vs Bats, Blue Wahoos exhibition games

Baseball is creeping closer and closer to returning. Pitchers and catchers report on February 14th, while the first spring training contest is scheduled to take place on February 26th (which I might add is also a certain blogger's birthday) against the Cleveland Indians. Of course those games will take place in Arizona where the Reds conduct their spring training activities, so it will be tough for a lot of fans to take in any of the action. Opening Day is of course set for March 31st against the smelly birds, otherwise known as the St. Louis Cardinals.

But wait! Perhaps you can't get to Arizona and want to take in some exhibition baseball just before Opening Day so you can get a glimpse of the 2014 Cincinnati Reds before the season starts. Then I have two suggestions for you:

1) Be in Pensacola, Florida on February 8th, then book a vacation to Pensacola during the last week of March
2) Go to Louisville, Kentucky on March 29th

The Reds will travel to the homes of their Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Louisville Bats respectively, just before Opening Day to showcase the team against minor league competition. On March 28th at 6:10pm ET, the Reds will show up at the gorgeous Pensacola Bayfront Stadium to face the Blue Wahoos of the Southern League. The following day, March 29th at 4:05pm ET, they will arrive at the famous Louisville Slugger Field to take on the Louisville Bats of the International League.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Keith Law ranks Reds farm system among middle of the pack


Keith Law of ESPN Insider recently compiled farm system rankings for all 30 teams in Major League Baseball and those rankings were revealed on Tuesday.

Unless you have an ESPN Insider subscription, you won't be able to access the article, but because I'm a nice guy, I'll let you know how the Reds fared on the list.

Simply put, the Redlegs ranked among the middle of the pack, at No. 16.

Plenty of outfielders and power arms here, light up the middle and possibly light on starting pitching candidates after Robert Stephenson. At worst, they'll put a pretty good bullpen together on the cheap from all of those A-ball starters, a group that includes 2012 first-round pick Nick Travieso.

Classifying the many different types of Reds fans on Twitter

The Reds and their fans like to tweet.
There is no doubt that the Cincinnati Reds have quite a passionate fan base. They show up in droves at Great American Ball Park. In fact, the fans set a GABP attendance record in 2013, breaking the previous record set in 2003, the inaugural year for the stadium. Even despite that, there's no place where Reds fans show up more than in social media, specifically Twitter.

Over the past few years, the Reds have won many Twitter contests including #HatsOffCIN, making #JoeyVotto the #FaceOfMLB, and monthly #whiff ones. #JoeyVotto will have a chance to defend his title this year. Keep an eye on Twitter for that.

Anyways, there's a way to group all Reds fans on Twitter in some way or another. In fact, you could do it with any fans of any team or topic. I'm going to take a shot at classifying some of the major demographics across Reds fandom and then explain what they are and why they exist. Shoutout to Jimmi for his assistance with some of these. (And Lisa Braun)

These classifications are not mutually exclusive. Read over them, then look deep within your heart and soul and determine which one(s) you fit into? I know I can identify with a few, whether I want to or not.

Red-blooded Die Hard - Wait, aren't we all red-blooded? Nevermind. Everyone on Twitter probably thinks they are this person. You eat, sleep, and breathe Reds baseball. It is a matter of life and death. You follow every person ever associated with the Reds in hopes to be fully-consumed by the Red mist. For the most part you are positive, but you do worry and pace a lot. When the Reds win it's a huge relief and we expect a tweet full of capital letters and exclamation points. When the Reds lose it's solid disappointment and we expect a tweet full of capital letters, cuss words, and exclamation points. After that loss, it's best to leave you alone to sulk in the defeat in a dark corner. We'll let you sleep on it because there is almost certainly a game tomorrow and hopefully the Reds are starting a losing streak.

Report: Reds reach deal with Aroldis Chapman to avoid arbitration

The Reds and Aroldis Chapman have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract to avoid arbitration. The news was first broke by Joel Sherman of the New York Post and then confirmed by several media sources.

In short, the contract represents an equal compromise from both sides, as Chapman filed for $5.4 million while Cincinnati offered $4.6 million.

In 68 appearances last season, the Cuban southpaw tallied a 2.54 ERA, converted 38 save chances, posted a WHIP of 1.037, and notched a career-high 15.8 SO/9 over 63.2 innings pitched. He was also named a National League All-Star for the second consecutive year.

The accord with Chapman leaves Homer Bailey as the lone arbitration case left for the Reds.

The club previously inked Alfredo Simon, Chris Heisey, Sam LeCure, and Mike Leake to deals in order to avoid going to an arbitration hearing.

Audio: Listen to Joey Votto's interview with Lance McAlister



In case you missed it, Joey Votto went on the air with Lance McAlister of 700 WLW Monday evening. And his appearance definitely wasn't short lived, as the All-Star first basemen talked about how his offseason was going, his scrutinized approach to hitting, his new foundation, and why he chose "Paint It Black" by Rolling Stones as his walk-up song, among others. He even fielded some calls from adoring fans.

You can catch all of Votto's interview with McAlister by tuning into the podcast player above. The segment with Votto begins at the 13:15 mark and runs through about the 28:00 mark.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Three Reds crack latest list of top prospects rankings


On Monday, Baseball Prospectus published its list of Top 101 Prospects for 2014 and the rankings included a trio of Reds farmhands.

Right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson (No. 22), switch-hitting outfielder Billy Hamilton (No. 49), and 2013 first round pick Phillip Ervin (No. 63) each made an appearance on the list.

Stephenson significantly improved his ranking over last year (No. 78) and has quickly become the consensus top prospect in Cincinnati's minor league system.

Meanwhile, Hamilton experienced a relatively steep slide on the list, falling 35 spots to No. 49.

Report: Reds close to reaching deal with free agent infielder Chris Nelson

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Reds are "close to wrapping up a deal" with free agent infielder Chris Nelson.

The Georgia native split the 2013 season between the Rockies, Yankees, and Angels, where he batted a combined .227/.273/.327 with three home runs and 24 RBI.

A former first round pick (9th overall) by Colorado in the 2004 draft, Nelson has played majority of his defensive innings at third base, with some time spent at second and shortstop, too.

A career .268/.312./.399 hitter in 820 plate appearances, Nelson has obviously failed to live up to his "first round" draft potential, but at 28-years-old still has time to turn that around.

Ex-Reds shortstop Paul Janish finds a new home with Rockies

It's been stated multiple times this offseason by general manager Walt Jocketty that the club would like to add a veteran shortstop to provide some insurance for Zack Cozart. Some Reds fans immediately clamored for former Red Paul Janish to fill that void. However, it doesn't appear like that will happen, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has reported that Janish has agreed to sign with the Colorado Rockies.

As you can see from Heyman's tweet, Janish will receive a minor league contract with an invitation to spring camp. If he plays well enough during the exhibition season, the crafty fielder could land a bench spot on Colorado's roster when the regular season rolls around.

Where do the Reds measure up in a 2014 projected standings model?


It's the dead of winter, guys. And spring training doesn't officially begin for another three weeks. So, as you might imagine, finding baseball-related stuff to talk about is scarce.

Fortunately, our friend Dayn Perry over at CBS Sports found something of interest, and it comes in the form of projecting standings for the upcoming season. The brain behind the forecasting is veteran analyst and statistical guru Clay Davenport.

Here is a recap of his findings as it relates to the Reds:

+ Davenport's forecasting model places the Reds in third place with an 80-82 record. The model gives Cincinnati a 12.3 percent chance of winning the division and a 15.5 percent chance of earning a Wild Card spot. The run differential has been set at -7.

A look at 2014 projections for Billy Hamilton


When talking about statistical projections, there is arguably no player on the Reds roster more intriguing than Billy Hamilton.

Whether he is ready or not, the 23-year-old is about to take on huge responsibilities in his first full season in the majors. The Mississippi native will be tasked to fill the shoes of Shin-Soo Choo in center field and at leadoff. It goes without saying, but doing so won't be easy.

So, the question remains: What kind of season can we expect from Hamilton? Can we expect him to post numbers similar to his career slash line in the minors (.280/.350/.378)? Or should we lower our expectations and expect a season closer to the one he recorded in Triple-A in 2013 (.256/.308/.343)?

Thankfully, there are others who are trying to take the guess work out of predicting Hamilton's campaign, by using complex formulas and history to project what Hamilton may do in 2014. With that being said, here is a current look at the end result of three of those projections:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quotes and notes from Reds Caravan

Embedded image permalink

The 2014 edition of the Reds Caravan concluded on Sunday with the "Select-A-Seat" event for season ticket holders at Great American Ball Park. The four-day annual tour around Reds country provided fans with ample opportunities to get up close and personal with players, coaches, and employees of the Reds. And it also provided those of us hungry for baseball news with something to talk about.

Here are some of the notable quotes and notes from the mobile fan fest:

+ Homer Bailey was asked about how contract extension talks were going (if any) before Sunday's final stop at GABP. It seems the right-hander continues to be patient and cautious in his approach.

Study: Major League Baseball remains second-most popular sport in United States


According to data collected in a recent Harris Poll, Major League Baseball remains the second-most popular sport in the United States.

As ESPN's Darren Rovell points out, the study, which probes adult sports fans in America ages 18 and over, concluded that 14 percent said that MLB was their favorite sport.

For the 30th consecutive year, the National Football League took the top spot, garnering a whopping 35 percent of the vote. Compare that to 1985, the first year the study was conducted, when the NFL narrowly beat out MLB by a tally of 24 percent to 23.

The study also collected demographic information on the voters. It suggests that homes with an annual income in excess of $100,000 are more likely to be baseball fans.

Conversely, people who live in rural areas on the East Coast prefer the NFL.

On this date in Reds history: Joe Nuxhall is traded


In this edition of "On This Date in Reds History," we take a glimpse back on the event occurring on Jan. 26, 1961, where the Reds decided to trade Ohio native Joe Nuxhall to the Kansas City Athletics.

Here is an account of that transaction, as captured by Redleg Journal:
Six days after John Kennedy's inauguration as President, the Reds trade Joe Nuxhall to the Kansas City Athletics for John Tsitouris and John Briggs
Nuxhall had a 1-8 record in 1960, was booed nearly every time he stepped on the mound, and publicly expressed a desire to be traded. He had little success with the Athletics or California Angels, and returned to the Reds in August 1962 after a stint in the minors. Ironically, in the only season Nuxhall was not in a Reds uniform, the club went to the World Series.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Two Reds hurlers among pitchers dubbed 'poised' to have Cy Young-worthy seasons


It's very hard to believe that neither Mat Latos nor Homer Bailey have yet to make one All-Star appearance between them. After all, the two have combined to go 105-89 with a sub-4.00 ERA in 12 major league seasons. But could both pitchers be on the brink of stardom? According to Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider, the answer to that question is an enthusiastic "yes!"

On Friday, Szymborski published a piece featuring six pitchers, who he believed are poised to make "the leap" in 2014. You know, similar to the leap Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer made last year to win the Cy Young Award. Szymborski believes that either Latos and Bailey may very well replicate Scherzer's 2013 greatness in 2014.

Here is what he had to write about Latos:

Bronson Arroyo eyeing move to West Coast?


Born and raised in Florida, and having pitched on the East Coast for the entire duration of his MLB career, pitching on the West Coast would be a change of scenery for the veteran Bronson Arroyo. However, given the way the market has panned out for starting pitchers, the 36-year-old could very well be pitching in Los Angeles this season.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Arroyo's representatives had some sort of discussion with the Dodgers, after the big market club missed the boat on landing coveted Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The Dodgers are in need of some pitching depth due to health concerns with Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley. And what better move to make to resolve those issues than by adding a guy with such a great track record of durability?

A definitive review of Reds-related news, notes, and links from the week that was


Whether you would like to believe it or not, this past week has been relatively busy for the Reds. Not necessarily because the team has been overly active adding or subtracting pieces to its roster. But rather because there has been an assortment of Reds-related news, notes, and reading material which has surfaced throughout the week.

Here is my attempt to give you a rundown on everything notable that happened:

+ On Sunday, it was reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that the Reds were in "advanced talks" with free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore. By Wednesday, it was evident that signing Sizemore was not going to happen, according to general manager Walt Jocketty. And the executive's words turned into prophecy when the Boston Red Sox announced the signing of Sizemore to a big league contract worth $750,000 guaranteed, with the potential to make upwards of $6 million in incentives. Apparently, Sizemore had a change of heart at the last minute.

Mat Latos selected as member of "all-underrated team"


Reds fans are fully aware of the value that Mat Latos brings to the team. After all, it took a handful of players to acquire him from San Diego, and the tall right-hander has yet to disappoint.

In two full seasons with the Reds, the 26-year-old has compiled a 28-11 record, 3.32 ERA, 1.186 WHIP and 3.05 K/BB. He's been a reliable workhouse thus far and empirical evidence suggests that he will continue to be so moving forward.

With that being said, it should surprise no one that Latos was included among 11 players chosen for an imaginary "all-underrated" team, composed by MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Photo: Reds bringing back alternative hat

redsblack

According to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds will have the option of sporting a new look on their noggins next season.

This is because the Reds are bringing back an alternative version of their hat design that hasn't been used since 2006.

The design (shown in the image above) features a solid red bill, an iconic red wishbone "C" with white shadowing, and a black crown.

Of course, Cincinnati already has two other versions of cap designs in their rotation. They don all-red caps when playing at home and they wear red-crowned, black billed hats while playing on the road.

I wonder what Paul Lukas of UniWatch thinks about this change in aesthetics? More importantly, I wonder what the rest of Reds Country thinks about them. Personally, I have always enjoyed the look of solid black attire. There is this semblance of an intimidation factor that no other color can replicate. With that being said, my favorite Reds hat remains the all-red one they wear at GABP.

Sports Illustrated writer gives Reds lowly review, grade regarding inactive offseason


The proverbial horse has already been beaten many times this winter. That is to say the Reds have not had a particularly productive winter upgrading their roster.

But Sports Illustrated writer Cliff Corcoran further compounded on this storyline when penning a "Winter Report Card" on Cincinnati. Corcoran's piece was published Friday morning and it doesn't quite laud the work (or lack thereof) done by general manager Walt Jocketty and the front office this season.

You can have a look at the article in its entirety if you wish by clicking here. But for those of you who want the quick summary of what was written...

+ Corcoran writes that the team's decision to promote from within is very risky. Namely, by replacing Dusty Baker with Bryan Price as manager, inserting rookie Billy Hamilton for Shin-Soo Choo, and plugging Tony Cingrani into the rotation absent Bronson Arroyo.

A pair of Reds make the cut for MLB.com's top 100 prospects list


The fine folks at MLBPipeline.com unveiled their list of Top 100 Prospects for the 2014 season on Thursday and the wonderful collection of young baseball talent included a pair of Reds.

Robert Stephenson now owns the title of Cincinnati's top prospect after overtaking Billy Hamilton in the rankings. The right-handed hurler ranked 19th in this year's tabulations while Hamilton settled in quite nicely and respectably at the 37th position.

So, how exactly are the rankings determined? Great question. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com provides us with some valuable insight:

The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2014.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Did Grady Sizemore pull a fast one on the unsuspecting Reds?


Before Wednesday, it seemed inevitable that the Reds would be able to sign free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore to a contract. And just like that it changed.

As I'm sure you have heard by now, Sizemore did not in fact sign with Cincinnati, but chose to ink his name with the Boston Red Sox, instead. Apparently, this came as quite a shock to Reds GM Walt Jocketty, who said he totally believed the two sides had a deal in place before the Red Sox swooped in.

"We thought we were going to get it done," Jocketty said Thursday morning before setting off on the team's annual caravan. "That’s all I’ll say about it. He changed his mind at the last minute. That’s his prerogative.”

Some frozen hot stove news



by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Here are some random observations from the Klondike region of West Virginia.

All this cold and snow makes me wish for a balmier climate, like Alaska. I’m not kidding, Thursday’s high temperature in Anchorage was 43, in my part of W.V. the high was 17, falling to the single digits by evening. Friday’s high is supposed to be around 25, so I’ll probably be on our front porch swing, fanning myself and drinking iced tea.

Immediately after my last column, I was interviewed by a local reporter who wanted my opinion about baseball writers and, as a tribute to Richard Sherman, I said “Don’t bring that sorry Buster Olney weak stuff into my face and I’M THE GREATEST BASEBALL WRITER EVER!”

Reds announce addition of two more assistant coaches to 2014 staff

The coaching staff makeover is virtually complete.

On Thursday, the Reds announced the additions of Lee Tinsley and Sean Marohn to the 2014 coaching staff. Tinsley takes over for Ronnie Ortegon, who accepted a new position in the Atlanta Braves organization. Tinsley, 44, will serve as the team's assistant hitting coach.

Aside from helping out with hitting, Tinsley will also be tasked to assist with outfield play and baserunning, according to general manager Walt Jocketty.

Billy Hamilton is the 8th-best outfield prospect, according to MLB.com

He's fast
MLB.com has been working on their 2014 prospect watch, and recently has been churning out list after list of the top ten prospects at each position. The Reds have not been represented very well among these lists, landing only one player, Robert Stephenson, among them as the 7th-best right-handed pitcher. MLB.com released their last position ranking on Wednesday, and Cincinnati managed to get one more player among the ranks.

Speed demon Billy Hamilton was listed as the 8th-best outfield prospect in the minor leagues. Although the did appear in 13 games for the Reds last season, he still maintained his classification as a prospect. In news that is entirely obvious, they list the switch-hitting, 23-year old's MLB ETA as 2014. We knew that was true when the Reds announced that they are comfortable going into the 2014 season with Hamilton as the Opening Day center fielder and leadoff hitter.

Here is the scouting report MLB.com gives for Hamilton:

Demand for Reds season tickets on the rise


This may come as a surprise to some, especially given the team's lackluster offseason thus far, but according to a report by Steve Watkins of the Cincinnati Business Courier, demand for Reds season tickets is actually on the rise.

In fact, demand for Reds tickets has gotten so big that it has forced the team to rethink the way they organize season ticket packages. Namely, the technical definition of what it means to be a "season ticket" holder. In years past, fans who purchased 10-game packages or more were designated as season ticket holders. However, the new season ticket holder threshold stands at 20 games or more.

So, what does this actually mean to the common fan? Well, a lot. For example, season ticket holders receive a bunch of perks, including early admission into the stadium on game days, complimentary Redsfest tickets, and first chance opportunities to purchase postseason tickets, if applicable, among others.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Grady Sizemore officially off the table


Despite reports to the contrary, free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore will not be suiting up for the Reds organization in 2014.

Earlier this month, it was first reported that the Reds may have an interest in the ex-Indians All-Star, who hasn't played professionally since 2011. But that all changed by Wednesday afternoon, as general manager Walt Jocketty went on the radio in Cincinnati and revealed that the club wouldn't be landing Sizemore after all. While some immediately speculated that health concerns might have reason to do with Cincy's reluctance to sign the 31-year-old, it appears as though the issue had to do more with money.

This is because the Boston Red Sox swooped in and agreed to sign Sizemore to a major league contract worth $750,000 guaranteed, with the possibility to earn up to $6 million in incentives.

Report: Reds will not sign Grady Sizemore, says Walt Jocketty


According the the twitter account of @RedlegsRadioRep, Walt Jocketty said that Grady Sizemore will not join the Reds. There was a growing feeling among fans and media outlets alike that the Reds and Sizemore would be able to come to terms, however it appears that the rumor is dead.

While the possibility of such a deal looked like the picturesque low-risk, high-reward kind of move, we will now never know if that was the case. There are not a whole lot of details as of now as to what changed causing the deal to die, but Will Carroll, otherwise known as @injuryexpert put out this tweet which gives a vague glimpse into what the cause might have been:

Oh well. I was always in the opinion that a deal with Sizemore would not have amounted to anything at all to be honest. It would have been interesting to see if he could make a comeback or not, but it doesn't hurt my feelings that he will not be doing that with the Reds as of now. Perhaps he can do this elsewhere, and best of luck to him.

There you have it. That's about how exciting the Reds offseason has been. It's been a bit deflating as a whole.

ESPN's Schoenfield ranks the Reds rotation in the top ten

Is he the ace now?
You may have heard that the New York Yankees signed prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million deal. While it's only a guess as to how he will perform in America, his stats playing in Japan suggest that he will bolster the Yankees rotation.

Although there are still prominent free agent starting pitchers available, David Schoenfield of ESPN decided to go ahead and rank the top ten starting rotations in baseball to date. It should come as no surprise that the Reds rotation made the cut, coming in eighth on the list. Schoenfield listed seven pitchers from each team, considering how rare it is for a team to go through a full season using just five starters. Here's what he had to say about the Reds:

8. Cincinnati Reds (3.43 ERA, .245/.298/.395, 12.0 WAR)
Rotation: Homer Bailey, Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino, Robert Stephenson

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jim Bowden: Homer Bailey one of five pitchers set to receive big payday in 2015


Unless the Reds can find a tree nearby Great American Ball Park that produces endless amounts of cash, it seems unlikely they will be able to retain Homer Bailey beyond this upcoming season. In fact, some believe Bailey may not be around at all once the July 31 trade deadline comes and goes in 2014.

Regardless of what happens, barring the two sides reaching a contract extension, Bailey is all set to become one of the most sought after pitchers on the free agent market next winter, which also makes the native Texan in line to receive a huge payday. But how many years and how much money might the right-hander be projected to receive? ESPN Insider and Sirius XM radio host Jim Bowden provides his thoughts on the matter in a recent post where he highlights five pitchers set to sign big contracts come 2014.

BuzzFeed editor says Louisville Bats have 'best hat in baseball'


As a man who is tasked with being the senior editor of a website dedicated to knowing what is awesome and what is not, I trust that BuzzFeed's Jack Moore knows a thing or two about popular culture, style, and design.

With that being said, in a recent blurb for Esquire, which asked some of the best sportswriters to pick their "Most Stylish Baseball Hats of All-Time," Moore decided to peg the Louisville Bats as having the "best hat in baseball."

Here is what Moore had to say about his selection:

Reds rank dead last in television revenue among major league teams


According to Awful Announcing, the Reds aren't doing so well, comparatively speaking, to the other 29 franchises in major league baseball. At least when it comes to producing television revenue.

Not only is Cincinnati's local television deal with Fox Sports Ohio, which pays the club $10 million on an annual basis, the lowest annual television deal in Major League Baseball, the Reds also rank dead last in total television revenue, too.

The good news for the Reds is that MLB's new national contract with ESPN, Fox, and Turner will more than double the amount of cash each team will receive from the three networks. Each team will go from pulling in $25.33 million per year to roughly $52 million beginning in 2014. But because all teams will get an equal slice of the revenue pie, the Reds really don't gain an advantage, as all of the other franchises receive the massive boost in revenue, too.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Billy Hamilton dubbed 'linchpin' of Reds by Buster Olney


Quite honestly, this has been an extremely yawn-worthy offseason for the Cincinnati Reds. But one thing that Reds faithful have to look forward to in 2014 is watching Billy Hamilton cut his teeth in the major leagues.

The switch-hitting, fleet-footed, Mississippi native was responsible for turning many heads last September, as he enjoyed his first cup of coffee in the big show. Hamilton served as a catalyst for his team, a speedster on the basepaths, and a menace to opposing National League catchers. At just 23-years-old, Cincinnati's top prospect has some big shoes to fill, as the club is relying on Hamilton to plug the gap left behind in center field and at leadoff by the departed Shin-Soo Choo.

So, I guess you could say that Hamilton is the "X-Factor" to the Reds' ultimate success or failure this season. If this is indeed the case, and I think you would find a good portion of fans who believe it to be true, then Buster Olney's recent column, where the ESPN writer gives his "linchpin" for all 30 teams, makes total sense.

Here is a look at what Olney said about Hamilton:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Report: Reds in 'advanced talks' with Grady Sizemore

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that the Reds might be interested in signing former Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore. Well, it appears the Reds are more than interested.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the two sides are in "advanced talks" regarding a contract. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer echoed this report, as he spoke with general manager Walt Jocketty on Sunday, who confirmed that the club was indeed hoping to "get something done" within the next week.

The fact that the Reds are vying to add Sizemore isn't all that surprising. Cincinnati has been looking for some cheap insurance to backup Billy Hamilton in center field virtually all winter. And bringing a guy like Sizemore to the mix certainly fits what they are seemingly looking for.

Video: A look back on Billy Hamilton's electrifying big league debut



On a fateful Cincinnati night in early September, Billy Hamilton made his long-awaited major league debut, before thousands of eager Reds fans in the stands at Great American Ball Park.

The speedy Hamilton entered the game against the Cardinals in the bottom of the seventh inning as a pinch runner for Ryan Ludwick. One pitch later, Hamilton was sliding into second base with his first career steal, and it came against the league's top defensive catcher, Yadier Molina, too.

Moments later, Hamilton crossed home plate for his first career run, thanks to an RBI double by Todd Frazier down the third base line.

That is all the Reds needed on this evening as they paced to a classic 1-0 victory over their hated rivals from St. Louis.

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.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Reds exchange arbitration figures with Aroldis Chapman, Homer Bailey


While the Reds reached agreements with the likes of Mike Leake, Sam LeCure, and Alfredo Simon on Friday to avoid arbitration, the club wasn't able to strike a deal with Aroldis Chapman nor Homer Bailey.

Instead, the Reds traded salary figures with the two pitchers before the afternoon deadline.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Cincinnati and Bailey are worlds apart from each other. The Reds filed a salary figure of $8.7 million while the 28-year-old submitted his desire for $11.6 million. For all of you non-math majors out there, this represents a difference of nearly $3 million. Bailey is in his final year of arbitration and will be eligible for free agency once the 2014 season comes to a close. He grossed approximately $5.35 million in base salary one year ago.

BHSC tweets that Reds and Leake have reached a one-year deal

The Beverly Hills Sports Council has tweeted, as you can see above, that the Reds and Mike Leake have reached a one-year deal, making him the fourth player with which the Reds have avoided arbitration so far. BHSC is the sports agency that represents Leake.

Figures have not yet been made available, but we will post them when they are.

*UPDATE 1:45pm ET
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, tweeted that Leake will receive $5.925 million plus incentives in 2014.

Leake is entering his fifth year in the majors, all with Cincinnati. He is a 2nd-year arbitration-eligible player and can become a free agent in 2016.

Reds agree with LeCure, Simon ahead of Friday's arbitration deadline

Yesterday it was Chris Heisey who signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Today it was the turn of Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon.

Word of Lecure's deal came first as he agreed to a two-year, $3.05 million deal. According to Mark Sheldon's blog, Lecure will earn $1.2 million in 2014 with a bump up to $1.85 million in 2015, while also standing the change of earning boosters and performance bonuses in '15. This was Lecure's first year of arbitration eligibility, so the deal will cover his first two years, with one year remaining for 2016, before LeCure will be eligible for free agency in 2017.

LeCure has become a fan favorite, with his incredible facial hair. It also helps that he has found his niche in the bullpen allowing him to become a successful pitcher thus far. For his career, LeCure is 9-10 with a 3.47 ERA in four years, all with Cincinnati. In 2013, he appeared in a career high 63 games while posting a a 2-1 record with a 2.66 ERA, his best to date. He also struck out 66, while walking 24 batters.

Matt Snyder creates Reds 'all-time single-season' team


For those of who you missed it, Matt Snyder of CBS Sports recently put together an excellent piece highlighting the best individual single-seasons in Reds history. The blurb is part of an ongoing series where Snyder does the same thing with the other 29 Major League Baseball franchises.

But for our sake, let's just focus on what Snyder wrote about the Reds. Without going into too much detail, because I would really like for you to check out Snyder's full post yourself, some of the seasons that made the cut include the MVP seasons posted by Joey Votto (2010), Johny Bench (1972), Joe Morgan (1976), and George Foster (1977). Some of the pitchers who made the grade include Aroldis Chapman (2012), Jose Rijo (1993), Jim Maloney (1965), and Rob Dibble (1990).

Snyder also constructed a batting lineup comprised of these great players and based off of their best seasons. Needless to say, it is one of the scariest lineups I've ever seen.

Alex Rodriguez, Steroids, and Other Hot Stove Dope


A tall, shadowy figure stands in a dark, damp alley between two dilapidated buildings. A trench coat covers his custom tailored Italian suit. His left hand clutches a briefcase; his right hand holds a cell phone. Nervously, he looks at the time; “Seven fifty-three” he sighs, seven minutes remain until his meeting in this unlikely of locations. “Why here?” he protests to himself. In the distance he hears footsteps, and quietly ducks behind a trash dumpster. He thinks, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” As the young couple passes by the entrance to the alley, a cat cries its protest in having his daily dumpster dinner so rudely interrupted by this well dressed stranger trying to hide.

Squatting behind the dumpster, the tall man wonders if the reason for him being there is going to show up. Wiping the clammy sweat from his forehead he hears the noise of an engine. Using the gap between the dumpster and a wall he sees the vehicle stop within feet of the entrance of his location. “This is it” he says, lifting himself to a standing position. An equally tall, quite muscular man also carrying a brief case exits the black sedan, and heads to the alley. “You there Ed?” the man quietly asks halfway through the alley. Ed was the code name for the transaction. “Yeah Pete, you got lettuce?” “Ed” replied. “Ed” and “Pete” meet, shake hands, and exchange briefcases. “Pete” turns and leaves the alley, followed, as previously planned, in exactly fifteen minutes by “Ed”.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reds avoid arbitration with Chris Heisey


Chris Heisey has avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.76 million deal, according to multiple sources close to the team. The move was announced Thursday evening.

Heisey, 29, has spent his entire professional career within the Reds organization, beginning from being tabbed in the 17th round of the 2006 amateur draft, to batting .237/.279/.415 in 244 plate appearances in 2013. In 1,153 career plate appearances, Heisey owns a slash line of .254/.308/.433 with 42 home runs, 46 doubles, and 125 RBI.

A versatile defender, and a valuable right-handed bat off the bench, Heisey was in line to take over full-time in left field last season after Ryan Ludwick tore up his right shoulder on Opening Day. However, in a cruel twist of fate, Heisey would have to spend time on the disabled list from April 29 to June 24 after suffering a right leg injury.

Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Sam LeCure, Alfredo Simon, and Aroldis Chapman are the five Reds players who remain in salary arbitration. Both the Reds and each player are slated to exchange proposed arbitration figures on Friday.

Robert Stephenson tabbed as 7th-best right-handed prospect by MLB.com


It's a safe assumption that the majority of Reds fans are fully aware of who Robert Stephenson is by now. Taken 27th overall in the 2011 amateur draft, the California native has made an immediate impression on scouts and evaluators, and some believe his rise to the majors could culminate into a debut by the time summer rolls around in Cincinnati.

With that being said, it should come as no shock that Stephenson is among the elite, right-handed, pitching prospects in the game. Recent evidence of this fact comes courtesy of MLB.com after the website ranked Stephenson as the 7th-best right-handed prospect on its top 10 list.

Here is a peek at what they had to say about him:

Reds allowing fans to test drive their seats on January 26


How cool would it be if you could actually test drive your season tickets?

If you are looking to buy season tickets from the Reds this season, you are in luck, because baseball's oldest professional franchise is offering fans the chance to do just that.

Here is the press release for the "Select-A-Seat" event the Reds will hold on Jan. 26:

Reds fans buying ticket plans can choose their seats for the 2014 season at the annual Select-A-Seat event on Sunday, Jan. 26 from 9 am to 2 pm in the FOX Sports Ohio Champions Club at Great American Ball Park.

Members of the Reds Caravan including Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Sam LeCure, Billy Hamilton, Bryan Price, Walt Jocketty, Marty Brennaman and more will conduct a Q&A at Noon.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Robert Stephenson among five pitchers Reds invite to spring camp


According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds have extended invites to big league spring training camp to five players, all of which are pitchers.

Newly signed veteran Jeff Francis will join minor leaguers Tim Crabbe, Drew Hayes, Michael Lorenzen and Robert Stephenson, as they each will get outside shots at making the major league roster.

Stephenson is the team's top prospect and some believe the former first round pick could make his major league debut with the Reds as soon as the summer.

Meanwhile, Lorenzen is another promising arm to keep a keen eye on. The right-hander was tabbed with the 38th overall pick in last year's draft and has really impressed folks working as a reliever.

Jim Bowden: Nelson Cruz is the missing link for the Reds


Outside of firing and hiring a new manager, the Reds haven't done much of anything to improve their team for 2014. Sure, general manager Walt Jocketty has managed to sign a few role players and execute a trade, but there really hasn't been any major acquisitions.

ESPN Insider and former club general manager Jim Bowden believes Cincinnati can change this, though. Namely, by either signing 33-year-old free agent Nelson Cruz or by dealing for Houston Astros minor league prospect George Springer.

The following is what Bowden wrote to support his proposal. If you are interested, he also provided missing links and solutions for each National League team, too.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homer Bailey headlines six Reds players filing for arbitration


A total of six Reds players officially filed arbitration paperwork on Tuesday. These players include Homer Bailey, Aroldis Chapman, Chris Heisey, Mike Leake, Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon.

Naturally, all six veterans are in line to receive big boosts in salary. But there is no Red projected to earn a bigger spike in his income than Bailey.

After making $5.35 million in 2013, mlbtraderumors.com projects for Bailey to earn $9.3 million in 2014, which represents a drastic increase in cash flow, indeed. Although the team has expressed interest in signing the right-hander to a long-term contract, Bailey is slated to hit free agency next offseason, and should demand an average annual salary in excess of the exorbitant amount he will collect in '14.

Here is a comparison at the 2013 salary for each arbitration-eligible players in addition to their projected salary for 2014 (per mlbtraderumors.com):

Reds offering fans half-price admission to Hall of Fame


Next Monday (Jan. 20) marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. And what better way to celebrate this national holiday than by scooting down to the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum?

As an extra incentive, the Reds are offering fans half price admission for Monday only, which amounts to $5 for adults and $4 for students and seniors. Oh, active military, veterans, and children four and younger are free.

If you have never been inside the Reds HOF & Museum, do yourself a favor and plan a visit. The 15,000 square foot building is home to a plethora of historical, interactive, and educational exhibits, as well as an unrivaled amount of Reds memorabilia.

It will be a trip you won't regret.

Source: Reds.com

Monday, January 13, 2014

Reds add Thomas Neal to the fold

Outfielder Thomas Neal is the newest member of the Reds organization. How do we know? Well, because the 26-year-old announced the news via Twitter Monday evening.

The California native spent last season in both the Cubs and Yankees organizations, where he batted .325/.391/.411 in 297 plate appearances in Triple-A.

Originally chosen by the Giants in the 36th round of the 2005 draft, Neal has spent the majority of the past three years at the Triple-A level, but has also seen brief major league action, too.

Is Bronson Arroyo sweepstakes heating up?


It's been a long and cold winter for Bronson Arroyo as it pertains to free agent contract negotiations.

It's the middle of January and the veteran right-hander has still yet to find a team to pitch for in 2014. However, that fact could soon change if a report by Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo can be believed.

According to Cafardo, "action was picking up" on Arroyo last Friday, as two new teams jumped into the mix to inquire about the native Floridian's services. Those two teams are reportedly the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.

The Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Reds have all been linked to Arroyo at one point this offseason, too. But it appears the Yankees, Phillies, and Twins are the frontrunners to land him at this juncture.