Reds Insider
From news of the day to news of the weird, John Fay provides a glimpse of what it’s like to cover the Cincinnati Reds

John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reds pick up Dunn, Hattie, Javy options

The Reds picked up the options of Adam Dunn, Scott Hatteberg and Javier Valentin. They refused the $3.5 million option on Eddie Guardado. No huge surprises.

Dunn will make $13 million, Hatteberg $1.85 million and Valentin $1.35 million. Hatteberg's a good deal at that price, even if Joey Votto's the starter. And it sounds like that's the case.

"I like Scott Hatteberg on the roster," Wayne Krivsky said. "I'm trying to give Dusty (Baker) as many weapons as possible."

Also, Johnny Narron will not be back as video coordinator/Josh Hamilton mentor.

Reds will try to re-sign Guardado at a reduced rate. "We're keeping open the dialogue with Eddie and his agent," Krivsky said.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On Pete and Johnny

When the Reds announced the coaching staff moves, Johnny Narron was not mentioned. Narron served as video coordinator/Josh Hamilton mentor last season. Wayne Krivsky would not say Narron would definitely be back. "We'll probably have something on that later in the week."

Krivsky said he hasn't talked to Pete Mackanin lately. There's a possibility Mackanin could return to the organization, although Mackanin was going to pursue coaching jobs.

Dusty on Speier; options date

Chris Speier's resume as an infield coach was the overriding factor in Dusty Baker hiring him.

"That was a lot of it," Baker said. "I trust him. He was my third base coach. He's a very knowledgeable baseball man. But a lot of it was I needed an infield guy. Most of the plays are on the infield."

The Reds officially named Speier bench/infielder coach and Juan Lopez was named bullpen coach.

Speier and Baker have known each other since they broke into the National League in early 1970s. Baker hired Speier to be part of his staff with the Chicago Cubs.

"I thought he was an excellent infield guy," Baker said. "He's the second best infield instructor I've seen. We were both tutored under Bob Lillis, who I always felt was the best."

Baker saw a marked improvement of Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot under Speier.

Speier also will serve as the bench coach, a position Baker relies quite a bit.

"I rely on him to see things I may overlook during the game: Is this guy guarding the line? Is this guy out of position? I'll run things by him. I'm going to do what I think is right, but the bench coach is a sounding board. What I like about Chris is he's not going to be a yes man. I don't really like yes men around me too much. I have trouble agreeing with myself sometimes. I want some who's going to give me an honest answer. A guys opinion here and there can help."

Also: The due date on the players with options -- Adam Dunn, Scott Hatteberg, Eddie Guardado, Javier Valentin -- is Nov. 4.

Baker was FedExed a package on Reds personnel. He's studying it.

"Most of that is Wayne's call," he said.

Baker guesses he's spoken to 40 players since getting the job, including Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Baker says he wasn't recruiting. He was asked about Prior's house (he lives in Southern California). The thing with Wood was email congratulations exchange.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Speier to be named

The Reds will name Chris Speier as infield coach today or tomorrow. He was on Dusty Baker's staff in Chicago. I assume he'll be bench coach as well.

No word on the bullpen coach.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Here's something to debate II

Given the absence of Reds news, I thought I'd start another debate. As Josh Beckett continues to dominate in the postseason, remember Boston gave up Hanley Ramirez to get him.

So would you give up Jay Bruce and say, Johnny Cueto, to get a Beckett type? Poster Jeff suggested trading Bruce and Josh Hamilton. If you could get Beckett, wouldn't you? I don't think there are any Becketts out there. But the point is you've got to give up a lot to get a lot. Giving up Ramirez was a huge risk. Beckett had a plus-5.00 ERA last year and Ramirez was rookie of the year. But it worked out -- for both teams.

Friday, October 26, 2007

3 claimed

Phil Dumatrait was claimed by the Pirates off waivers, and Michael Gosling and Pedro Lopez were claimed by the Blue Jays.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

No word on coaches

No announcement will come on the two coaches until after the World Series,
Rob Butcher says.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Here's something to debate

Wayne Krivsky told Paul Daugherty the other day that it took patience to build a team like the Colorado Rockies. The converse is it takes money -- lots of money-- to build a team like the Boston Red Sox.

Which route would you like to see the Reds take? They're not going to spend like the sox, of course. But should they go for a quick fix or be patient?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Another take on Dusty

I think a lot of Dusty Baker backlash came from Cubs fans. This column by Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune supports that theory.

I'd expect something on the other two coaches soon. One name I've heard is Chris Speier. He was on Baker's staff in Chicago. He's an infield guy.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bruce goes home

Jay Bruce left the U.S. World Cup team and returned home to Texas because of sore hamtring.

Bruce has been bothered by sore hamstring since last in the minor league season. They began bothering him again in Instructional League as he prepared to join Team USA.

"We didn't want him to play if he wasn't 100 percent," GM Wayne Krivsky said.

Krivsky said the injury isn't a serious one.

"He just needs to rest," Krivsky said.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Coaches named

When I filed my story at 6:10 or so, I said this means the Reds will announce the coaches in a half hour or so. Hopefully, my ESP working at Keeneland tomorrow. Anyhow, from the Reds:

CINCINNATI - The Cincinnati Reds today announced that Major League coaches Mark Berry, Billy Hatcher, Brook Jacoby and Dick Pole along with bullpen catcher Mike Stefanski will be offered contracts for the 2008 season.

The club also announced that bullpen coach Tom Hume will not be offered a contract and that bench coach Pat Kelly has been reassigned within the organization.

The bullpen coach and bench coach vacancies on new manager Dusty Baker's staff will be filled in the near future.

Berry will return for his 25th season in the organization and for his 10th year on the Major League coaching staff. He has been the club’s third base coach the last 4 seasons.

Hatcher has been with the organization for 2 years, both as first base coach.

Jacoby and Pole will return for their second seasons as hitting coach and pitching coach, respectively.

Stefanski will return for his fifth straight season as bullpen catcher.

Hume was with the organization for 11 seasons as bullpen coach and for 1 season (2006) as pitching coach.

Kelly will return as manager of the organization's Gulf Coast League Sarasota affiliate and as director of Florida on-field operations, positions he held last season until he was named interim manager Pete Mackanin's bench coach on July 3.

No real shockers here. Hume got caught in the numbers game. The bullpen struggles were not his fault. Hard to blame him for Mike Stanton's woes or the failure of all those rookies.

The bench coach is going to be an infield guy is my guess.

Talking to Baker

I just got off the phone with Dusty Baker. I was lucky to get through.

"Man, this phone has been blowing up," Baker said. "My voice mail holds 29 messages. Every time I clear off 29, I get 29 more."

Baker is hearing from job seekers as well as people simply congratulating him. He's wrapping up putting his staff together. He wouldn't name names. "I don't want guys to read it in the paper," he said. But it will probably be done by tomorrow.

He did say talked to Rick Kranitz, the former Marlins pitching coach ended up going to Baltimore. That means Dick Pole, a long-time Baker staffer, could be be back in a position over than pitching coach.

"I talked to Kranny," he said. "I've talked to a lot of people. You want to make sure you get the right guys."

Former Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone is out there.

I've got to give Richard Skinner credit for this one. He mentioned Dave Duncan's situation when I was doing a show with the Two Angry Guys. If Tony LaRussa decides to take a year off, Duncan may become available -- although he's under contract in St. Louis.

Baker reiterated that there will be some carry over from the current staff.

It sounds like hitting coach Brook Jacoby will probably be back.

"I read where Adam Dunn said he has four batting coaches in four years or something like that," Baker said. "You don't want that. It takes time to build trust. It's really a one- or two-year process. You don't want to start over."

Baker also alluded to bringing in "an infield guy."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An off day, coaches, and the UFC

Took almost all of yesterday off. We could see coaching moves today. I think Dick Pole will be back, whether it's pitching coach or bench coach is the question. Brook Jacoby could be safe based on what Dusty Baker said about continuity. And really what hitter -- other than David Ross -- had a down year?

As for the others, I have no clue. Mark Berry would like to stay in the organization. That Double-A managing job is something he's done before.

Saturday, I'm covering the UFC 77. Are you in to it? I've become a fan. I never seen it in person. I did a Rich Franklin story last offseason. He's a great guy. He has a really tough fight in Anderson Silva. Their first fight was shocking in how Silva dominated.

I'm looking forward to covering it. Adam Dunn will be in town for it. Maybe he can stop by Bob Castellini's office and agree to three- or four-year deal while he's here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


From the Reds:

The Reds today named Butch Baccala and Jeff Taylor Major League scouts, named Paul Pierson assistant director for player development and scouting, named Freddy Benavides minor league field coordinator and named Joe Katuska amateur scout.

Benevides takes over Tim Naehring's job; Pierson Grant Griesser's. Both were in-house promotions.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Baker on young players

Dusty Baker welcomes the chance to work with the Reds' young core.

"I'm excited about it. I've always wanted a young team. Everyone says, 'Dusty doesn't like young players.’ I was 19-year-player in the big leagues. How could I not like young players? I just didn’t have many young players to like. That followed me from the Giants. The Giants are still in the same situation, and I ain’t been there in five years."

You can see video from today's press conference here.

More from Baker

Dusty Baker talked about a lot of things in Monday. Some of the more interesting things he addressed:

On questions about the way he handled Mark Prior and Kerry Wood: “I think it is (unfair). You’ve got to look at my total history, my 14 years. There’s always questions about anyone. I did what I thought was best at the time for team, the city, the organization and the players. You look back on my history – I really don’t feel the need or desire to defend myself – but you look back at total record and not look at that one year. The one thing I pride myself on is keeping my players on the field and keeping them healthy as long as possible. If you keep your front line players on the field you give yourself the best chance to win.”

On his alleged aversion to playing young players: “They’ve got a mixture of veterans and youth. This is what I’ve always yearned for – a team with young players who you teach how to play and play winning baseball. We’re a few parts away. But, like I said, I can attract players here. Hopefully, we can develop some players in the minor leagues."

On toothpicks and wrist bands: "I've worn wristbands since I was a young kid. I started chewing tooth picks to try to stop dipping (tobacco)." How'd that go? "It works until bases are loaded in the seventh inning."

On the coaching staff: He will probably retain some of the current staff. "The players have already had too many coaches in a short period. It's like in football always changing offensive coordinators."

On being a players' manager: "I've been able to figure what that means. What's the opposite of a players' manager?"

Baker on the reaction

I continue to get emails and posts to the blog about the impending doom of the Reds because of the hiring of Dusty Baker. Baker wasn't surprised by the reaction his hiring received.

“There was negative reaction when Joe Torre took over the Yankees,” Baker said.

He thinks he's getting ripped because of the way it ended with Chicago Cubs. His last season -- he went 66-96 in 2006 -- was by far his worst as a manager.

“I guess that’s what people remember the most," he said. "That’s what they should remember the least.”

What Baker would like you to look at:

--The 1992 Giants went 72-90. Baker took over in '93 and the club went 103-59.

--The 2002 Cubs went 67-95. Baker took over in '03 and the club went 88-74 and came with in one Bartman move of the making the World Series.

--He's reached 88 wins or more eight times in span when the Reds have hit or exceeded that total once.

Dunn news from Baker's presser

The most newsworthy thing that came out of the Dusty Baker press conference is that Adam Dunn's option is going to be picked up.

"It's very difficult to replace that type of offense," CEO Bob Castellini said, " and I think Adam wants to step up and be a leader on this club."

So Dunn will be back?

"I feel that way," Castellini said.

Castellini said there's a possibility that Dunn's contract will be extended.

"That's always a thought," he said.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's official

Rob Butcher just texted the following: Reds name Dusty Baker manager. Noon press conference tomorrow.

Talking with Cowboy, Pete and Marty

Talked to Pete Mackanin, Jeff Brantley and Marty Brennaman this morning.

Mackanin took the news the way you'd expect: With class and a touch of humor. "I checked my lottery tickets this morning when I got up. I didn't win. So I'll be looking for a job." He said he'll begin calling clubs Monday to try to get a big league coaching job. He kept open the possibility of joining Dusty Baker's staff. I think he'd be an ideal bench coach.

Brantley loves Baker. "I'd play for Dusty any time. I never had a problem with the way he handled pitchers. He got the blame for what happened to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, but I don't think that was his fault."

Brennaman thinks he and Baker will co-exist fine. "The thing I know about him that to me is he's always been great with the media. He's approachable. My approach will be the same. If he makes a move that backfires the night before, I'm going to ask him about the on pregame show. I've done that with ever manager here."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's Baker

The Reds and Dusty Baker agreed to a three-year deal. The formal announcement will come Monday.

I think it broke late Saturday because Baker probably had to tell ESPN what he was doing -- since he was under contract with them. One of his friends told me Baker would have had some sort of penalty if he quit the network before the season ended.

Not surprisingly, he's going to work for ESPN through the end of the season.

Talking to Castellini

Reds CEO Bob Castellini denied a report that he's offered former St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty a job.

"No, no," he said. "I haven't."

Castellini said last week that GM Wayne Krivsky's job was safe. "Wayne Krivsky is our GM. Period," he said.

That, of course, left open the possibility that Jocketty could come in a post above Krivsky. But Castellini said he has not talked to Jocketty about any job.

Krivsky's contract gives him final say on all baseball decisions.

Castellini is in Sarasota, Fla., attending the club's organization meetings.

Friday, October 12, 2007

No news

The Reds did not name Dusty Baker -- or Dusty Rhodes for that matter -- as manager Friday. Baker's apparently on his way to Bristol to some studio work for ESPN this weekend.

The fact the Reds haven't made a move on the manager could mean they're going to see what shakes out with Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa. Either would be a long shot, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Some of the people I talked to think there could be an unknown candidate. Possible. But I'd be shocked if the Reds would hire someone without a long big league resume -- unless that person is Pete Mackanin.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Could it be Baker?

I've been chasing the managerial thing again today. The one thing I've been able to learn definitively is the club has at least talked to Dusty Baker.

Baker makes sense in a lot of ways: He's has a lot big league experience. He was the manager of the year in NL three times. He's won -- 1,142-1,041 career record, 88 wins or more eight times in 14 years.

Baker's agent hasn't called me back. I've got a message into Baker himself in a convoluted way. I'll update if I can get more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Managerial search update

With Tony LaRussa's decision potentially weeks away, would the Reds be willing to delay their managerial decision that long to see if he's available?

Neither GM Wayne Krivsky nor CEO Bob Castellini would put a timetable on the hiring Wednesday.

"We're going through the process," Krivsky said from the team's facility in the Sarasota, where he's attending the club's organizational meetings.

Krivsky did say he has not talked to interim manager Pete Mackanin any further, and declined to say name names as far as outside candidates.

The Reds have spoken to at least one minority candidate, as is mandated by Major League Baseball.

If the Reds go outside for the hire, it's likely to be someone with major league experience. The club is known to have interest in Joe Girardi and Bob Brenly.

Girardi's agent, Steve Mandrell, would not comment Wednesday. Brenly confirmed his interest in the job in September.

The big-name minority candidate who's available is Dusty Baker, the former Chicago Cub and San Francisco Giant manager. Baker is working as an analyst for ESPN. His agent, Greg Genske, did not return a call Wednesday.

UC v. OSU -- as it relates to the Reds

You probably know by now that Tony LaRussa wants to wait until the Cardinals name a GM before making his decision, and that LaRussa's name was linked to the New York Yankees job.

How that relates to Reds' job I can only guess.

So I thought I'd weigh in on the UC-OSU football debate, as it relates to the Reds. I wrote an column a year or so ago, saying the Reds' most effective marketing plan would be winning. The fact that the Bearcats are the hottest ticket in town proves that. And it proves how quickly things can turn around.

Last year's Louisville-UC game was on ESPNU or ESPNX or ESPNZ. Whatever it was I didn't get it through Time-Warner. (What's the Springsteen song "60 Channels and nothing on?" 200 channels and nothing on. But I digress). So I went up to Champions to watch. There were probably 35, 40 people in the place. It was a 3:30 start. As memory serves, about four of us were watching the UC game. Everyone else was watching Ohio State play Michigan State.

That will not be that case this Saturday. Most of TVs will be on UC and everybody will be watching.

It wasn't UC's slick marketing plan that turned that around. It was winning.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The waiting

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals would like a decision from Tony LaRussa soon:

Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said Monday that the team's wait on a decision from Tony La Russa whether to return for a 13th season as manager has a limit that may be quickly approaching.

"We need to know something relatively soon; that's for sure," DeWitt said after speaking Monday with La Russa. "It's not open-ended. If Tony's not coming back, we need to look for other candidates."

DeWitt spoke of the situation's immediacy as he prepares a list of potential successors to ousted general manager Walt Jocketty. DeWitt described the general manager search as still in its formative stages and declined to say if he has sought permission from clubs to interview candidates. For now, La Russa's verdict remains the most pressing issue.

"I don't think Tony needs to hear more from me," said DeWitt, who offered no hint of how he perceives which way La Russa is leaning.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Castellini: Krivsky's safe

There's been a lot of speculation nationally about the possibility of former St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty ending up with the Reds, given the that Reds CEO Bob Castellini was once a limited partner in St. Louis and he's known to admire the work Jocketty did with the Cardinals.

But it's not going to happen.

"Wayne Krivsky is our GM. Period," Castellini said Monday through a spokesman.

Krivsky has one year remaining on his contract. The Reds are 152-172 in his two years as GM.

Jocketty was dismissed after the season by the Cardinals.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

LaRussa talks

Tony LaRussa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he may make his decision about returning to the Cardinals early next week. He also said he was surprised by Walt Jocketty's firing. He did not say how that would affect his decision.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sorry, Pete, it's only me

When Pete Mackanin answered his cell phone, my voice was not the one he wanted to hear. Rather than getting the call telling him he was the Reds manager, he got the call from a reporter asking if he knew any more about his status.

He doesn't.

"I waiting for the phone to ring. Then it does, and it's you," he deadpanned.

Mackanin said he hasn't talked to anyone from the Reds since he left to go home. He remains under contract, so he can't look for another job, i.e., express his interest in the Pittsburgh opening.

Mackanin did say Wayne Krivsky told him the day the season ended that he wanted to get the job filled quickly. I've got to believe the Reds would like to know if Tony LaRussa is available before they fill the job. A lot of people expect LaRussa to end up back in St. Louis.

All quiet

The Reds continue to search for a manager -- very quietly. The people who know what's going on -- ownership, Wayne Krivsky -- aren't talking. I don't expect decisions on the players with options until a manager is hired.

There has been speculation about Walt Jocketty and Tony LaRussa going to Seattle. The Mariners, however, this is from a Sept. 27 AP story: manager John McLaren and general manager Bill Bavasi are keeping their jobs for next season, Mariners chief executive Howard Lincoln announced.

Of course, Lincoln could change his mind.

I'm starting to work on my Sunday Insider for the paper. The theme is going to be: The Reds better figure out how to find out how to evaluate pitching or it's not going to matter who the manager is. The pitchers brought in on Krivsky's watch combined to go 34-52 with 4.93 ERA this season. It's not like one guy pulled down the whole class. Thirteen of them pitched for the club this year. Only one -- Jared Burton -- had an ERA under 4.00.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jocketty out

This could have implications in Redsland:

Walt Jocketty is out as Cardinals general manager.

I'd be surprised if Jocketty comes to Cincinnati as GM. But I think this will lessen the chances of Tony LaRussa returning to St. Louis.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

On the manager process

I talked to Wayne Krivsky about the process of hiring a manager. Let's just say he wasn't very enlightening.

"I said all I'm going to say about," Krivsky said. "It's not something I want to take daily calls on."

Krivsky did tell Pete Mackanin they are going to look at outside candidates.

"I talked to Pete obviously," Krivsky said, "just like we communicate on every player move."

Krivsky has no timetable, but it sounds like he prefer sooner over later.

"I have no way of knowing how long it's going to take," he said. "You don't want to put people lives in limbo any longer than you have to."

Krivsky would not say whether there's committee to help with process.

"That's for us," he said. "We're trying to get the best person. It could very well be Pete Mackanin."

How Tony LaRussa delaying his decision about whether he'll return to St. Louis affects all this is hard to say. I'd be surprised if Bob Castellini filled the job before he knows if LaRussa is a available or not.

Another factor in this now that they've decided to go outside, the Reds are pretty much obligated to interview minority candidates. That's a mandate from MLB.

Monday, October 1, 2007

On LaRussa

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

(Tony) La Russa remained circumspect about whether he plans to stay with the team, saying only that he'll participate in today's organizational meeting at Busch Stadium before returning to Alamo, Calif., to decide his next step.

"I've never been this exhausted after a season," La Russa conceded earlier in the series. "This season has been relentless, absolutely relentless."

General manager Walt Jocketty was among those who predicted La Russa would return. "I think he wants to go home and think about things for a few days, but I expect him to be back," Jocketty said.


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