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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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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dusty talks to Lofton, Patterson

Dusty Baker was talking about the importance of a leadoff man.

“Everybody needs a leadoff hitter,” Baker said. “I think that is the most unappreciated, hardest to find quality position in baseball.”

To that end, Baker has talked to Kenny Lofton and Corey Patterson. Could either end up in Reds camp?

"There's a chance," Baker said. "They're out there looking for jobs. You want to get right pieces of the puzzle."

The hang up with Lofton is the Reds don't have a spot on the 40-man rosrter. "Kenny wants a big-league contract," Baker said.

Signing Lofton would not necessarily mean that Jay Bruce starts the year in the minors.

"I haven't seen Bruce play," Baker said. "You see Junior (Griffey) who came at 19. Corey Patterson was rushed a bit and didn't get time to mature. It's kind of like raising your kid: You don't know if you did the right it until later. . . it's something that is very hard to judge. When is now? It's not secret Bruce is a star of futrue. Who knows he could be a star of the present. I'm very impressed talking to him."

Lofton is an ideal leadoff man. He hit .296 with a .367 on-base percentage last year and stole 23 bases. Patterson is very talented, but he's not suited for a leadoff role. He hit .269 last year with a .304 on-base percentage. His career on-base is .296.


at 10:07 AM Blogger Cheviot Sports Authority said...

Lets stay out of the scrap heap for a change. There is a reason that these guys are still available. They would be fine for an emergency but we don't have a need for any more outfielders at this time. If we need a lead-off hitter so bad, why not go out and get a SS who can lead off. Hopper did a fine job last season, if Bruce isn't ready. Freel can't hit and plays stupid.

The fate of this team rides on its young starting pitchers, A young Kenny Lofton wouldn't help if a couple of those pitchers don't come through.

at 10:53 AM Anonymous Jack in Blue Ash said...

I dont see Freel making the team with the emergence of Hopper and Keppinger

All hustle and no talent

at 11:29 AM Blogger Cheviot Sports Authority said...

Only reason I see Freel making the team is the fact that Krivsky overpaid him and he will be hard to dump without eating, I think its 3.5 mil. Hard to believe.

at 12:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A 41 year old lead-off hitter. Give me a break. An outfield of Griffy, Dunne and Loften? It boggles the mind. We gave up Hamilton for a
pitcher who isn't even mentioned
by the pundits when they talk about
a 3rd, 4th and 5th starters.

I want to be optimistic but I think
the upward trek of the organization
has taken a nasty turn this off-season.

at 12:44 PM Anonymous J-Diggety said...

Lofton is still one of the top 15 lead-off men in baseball. At least against right handed pitchers. A platoon of him and either Freel or Hopper would be great. Bruce can wait until either Griffey or Dunn are gone.

at 12:54 PM Anonymous Jack in Blue Ash said...

anon: 12:18 paying 3.5 million for Dusty baker was the first major offseason mistake

my brother still lives in Chicago and emailed me articles from when Dusty was fired. Clubhouse was in turmoil..players were going to management with ultimatums.."either Baker gets fired or trade us"

They were even complaining about his kid hanging in the dugout and spying for Dusty..it got that bad

Dusty should have paid the Reds 3.5 million for giving him an opportunity

at 12:55 PM Blogger Sam Cooke Night Beat 1963 said...

Ummm... Ryan Freel makes this team. John McCain will be the Republican presidential nominee. There will be several dunks and no-look passes in tonight's NBA All Star Game. Lots of traffic on the roads around 830am and then again around 5pm Monday through Friday this week. And Ryan Freel makes this team.

at 1:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another huge screw up by Cluless...paying big money to Freel!! To go along with multi-yr. contracts for guys out of baseball & Naron...we have WEalt J. please Bob get rid of this misfit!!Nats win more games in 07 than REDS.....say no more WAKE UP CINCY FIRE KRIVSK (ANGRY IN DAYTON)

at 1:02 PM Anonymous redfuture said...

Its very disappointing to hear your manager put Cory Patterson and leadoff hitter in the same sentence. His highest OBP ever was .329 300+ ABs in Dusty's first year, then he fell to .320 in a full season the next year with 168 Ks! Wow!! Hopper on the other hand was at 379 in 300+ ABs last year. BP, who should never hit leadoff either, but would still be better than Cory. It sounds a bit crazy but Votto is the best choice to bat leadoff whenever Bruce, rather than Hopper, is in CF. Joey's AAA OBP was .381 and the year before at AA was .408. Cory never exceeded his MLB even in the minors for a full season. That way you get the left/right stuccato of: Votto, BP, Jr, EE, Dunn, AGon, JB, Ross/Val. Yes, Lofton has actually been a very good lead-off hitter his whole career but if he is on the roster Bruce can't be. If Bruce shows himself to be ready, then he is ready, and his production would be far more valuable than Lofton's. I must admit Bruce in the lineup limits its construction. However, thinking outside the box is required to see Votto leading off until you look closely at the numbers. It's nice to have a manager who knows what the 'box' is, but I want my cake to eat too, which means sometimes you have to think outside that 'box'.

at 1:27 PM Blogger docproc said...

Please no Lofton. Please no Patterson. There's enough (younger) talent here.

at 2:04 PM Blogger kingseyeland said...

There's just no reason to bring Lofton or Patterson here, other than Dusty's personal biases. If they were this hard-up for a leadoff batter they shouldn't have traded Hamilton. That .368 OBP is looking pretty good right now.

at 2:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a tough one. I hope we don't get Patterson. However if we could platoon Lofton and Hopper for a year that has potential. I do believe that we have overlooked Hopper year.

People complaining about Freel's contract I don't remember that many complaints when we signed him. It is easier to be the GM looking backwards.

at 2:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

where did CTR land?

at 2:41 PM Blogger Matt said...

I wouldn't mind having Lofton but we don't "need a leadoff man". We _want_ one of our best 3 outfielders to be a leadoff man.

at 2:42 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John. What time are the REDS practices starting now?

at 2:52 PM Blogger John Fay said...

C. Trent is working for Clear Channel's local website.

The Reds workouts begin at 9:30 a.m.

at 2:55 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

Here's what many of y'all don't get. The Reds aren't going into rebuilding or youth movement mode. If they were, Dusty Baker wouldn't be here. Dusty, who shouldn't have been hired regardless of rebuilding or win-now mode, doesn't do rebuilding. He doesn't do youth. He does veterans.

So I would fully expect a Lofton or a Patterson signing as well as a trade of someone young for a veteran pitcher. Now, it still won't be enough to win the Central in '08 and might well shoot the youth movement in the foot, which just means five more years of status quo.

Of all of the managers to hire at this point in Reds history, Dusty Baker wasn't the one. Dusty doesn't do youth.

at 3:18 PM Anonymous Red Faced said...

Absolutely without a doubt a true leadoff hitter is needed on this team. The difference in the results when Freel is consistently getting on base for us or when Hopper was playing leadoff for us last year prove this point.

The problem is that Freel is inconsistent. When Freel gets on base for us he's one of the best at causing the other team headaches, the problem is that he doesn't get on base enough. His OBP is too low and he is prone to strike out too often. Another problem for Freel and Hopper is where do you play them? Hopper has decent speed but not excellent but his bunting ability is excellent and he makes fewer mistakes on the base paths than Freel.

Freel is overpaid but at the time he was signed he was by far our best option to leadoff so I understand the reasoning then. Hopper is for all intents and purposes a better leadoff hitter. For either to play a major rotation in the outfielding playing will be needed to be implemented. If you do this involving both Griffey and Bruce then I can see it working with either Hopper or Freel but not necessarily both. Either way you look at it, it appears one of these guys isn't needed and I'd vote for Freel to be the one moved.

Now let's talk Lofton, he'd instantly be the best leadoff hitter option we have but if we sign him then we don't really need Freel or Hopper and certainly not both so what do you do with these guys? Patterson isn't any better than what we already have so he shouldn't be in the discussion.

Personally, I'd put Hopper in a rotation with Bruce and Griff and have Freel come off the bench and do some spot starts for us and let both leadoff for us when they are in the game. I wouldn't mind Lofton being there but then I'd move at least one of these two if not both so that Keppinger can get more playing time by filling in for an outfielder from time to time which he has proven he can do.

While we are on the subject of bench players, with all these guys looking for playing time I see absolutely no reason to keep Castro on the team. Keppinger and Freel both are much better pinch hit candidates and just as defensively sound (well almost). So he is not needed on this team.

at 3:34 PM Blogger jdeezman said...

My wifes family is all in Chicago, and the REAL deal with the Cubs was that the players thought they were more important individually than the team. The animals wanted to run the zoo, and the keeper didn't let them, so they complained, lost their manager, and started losing games.
Those of you that want to whine, groan, and complain are about Dusty being hired are probably the same mental midgets that think Marge Schott was a great owner and that Pete Rose belongs in the HOF.
Pete Rose was a cheating prick who didn't give a damn about anyone but himself... yes, even during the championship seasons he was more interested in his hits, stats, and fame.
Grow up and grow a pair.. you fools will never have as much baseball knowledge than Wayne Krisky... who able to take small market Minnesota to the playoffs, like he will this team after he corrects al the mistakes his predecessors made. We will NEVER have the money to spend like the NY, Cal, Ill, or Boston... we NEED Krivsky more than he needs us.
He has already FIXED the farm system, and now has given us the base talent to be contenders every year. He has hired outside the organization to get a manager who knows how to win.
If you want to believe the hype, then why do all of his past players want to play for him again... pitchers included?
That is how you win in MLB, you bunch of uneducated sheep.

at 4:10 PM Blogger Grizzlyfox said...

Corey Patterson not getting any love? Come on....the guy could easily put up 15 HR and 40 SB next year...he's done it with 450 ABs before...and Lofton? Come on, would you rather bet on Freel and Hopper or a guy that's been doing it for the last 15 or so years? If we trade for a pitcher I say one of these guys ends up on our team, and Bruce starts the year in AAA. If not, we go with what we've got, Bruce starts in center, cuz the only way we win next year without adding another SP is if we can outscore everyone else...

at 4:58 PM Blogger Jon said...

Being angry in Dayton is not uncommon, I cannot hold that against you.


at 6:33 PM Blogger Cheviot Sports Authority said...

My MY MY. What happened to the kinder, gentler blog?

at 6:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will Reds management stop wasting time with OFs and focus solely on PITCHING.

This team is a 4th place team with no hope for even a 3rd this year. A Wildcard is at least 2 good starters away.

Keppinger, Votto, and Bruce had better play every day this year, or the Reds are a 5th place team.

Hopper and Freel make for good depth in the Dunn, Junior, Bruce OF. Why do people knock Freel so much? He had a bad year, apart from the injuries, but to say he has no talent is absurd!

Dunn isn't fat yet but over the past two-three years he's slowly porking out. He was so lean to begin with that he's still not fat but he's got to pay attention because one day he'll wake up and think Stanton is looking back at him in the mirror.

at 7:16 PM Anonymous Jack in Blue Ash said...

I agree Cheviot.. I certainly was taken back at that earlier tirade

at 9:37 PM Anonymous Dan said...

I'm happy to see the Blanton idea fading away... I am not a fan of the idea.

Baseball Prospectus projects the Reds for a 79-83 season in 2008. The exact record is impossible to project, of course, but I think they're just about dead-on -- the 2008 Reds are an average team with very little chance at the playoffs.

If we deal, it needs to be with 2009 and beyond in mind. There's no point in trading away a good chunk of the future so that we can turn a 79-win team into an 82-win team. It just isn't worth it.

Anyway... Lofton as a one-year, cheap solution vs. RHP... I'd be OK w/ that. (Let Bruce play CF in Louisville and decide if he's viable there.)

Patterson has SUCH a low OBP we don't need him. He has no business batting leadoff for anyone.

at 9:42 PM Anonymous Dan said...

By the way, these are the trades I'd try to make:

--EE to SF for Jonathan Sanchez. (I really like EE, but Keppinger needs to play, and I'm irrationally high on Todd Frazier being ready to be a stud 3B in 2 or 3 years. Sanchez I think is a stud in the making -- left-handed with GREAT K rates -- and he's coming off a bad year.)

--Freel to Cubs for Murton
(Freel just isn't needed, and Murton is way undervalued by the Cubs. He'd give us a RH-hitter w/ some pop, and could take over LF or RF in 2009 if Dunn or Griffey aren't back.)

at 5:58 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Those of you that want to whine, groan, and complain are about Dusty being hired are probably the same mental midgets that think Marge Schott was a great owner and that Pete Rose belongs in the HOF."

This illustrates how John's personal animosity towards some posters is REAL--he lets other people say whatever they want but certain posters he constantly censors, which is why I can't stand Fay's bias and favoritism (I think a blog like this should be profanity-free but otherwise 100% uncensored).

Deezman, Schott won a World Series as owner, whatever else you want to say about her, she did raise the dead even if it was just for a glorious year.

Dusty Baker is so overrated as a manager it's not funny, and for a team like the Reds, which needed extra cash to buy more pitching, Baker's fat salary is a liability--and I think he'll be a terrible manager here but we're speculating until the season begins and the trainwreck in Red once again demonstrates how lousy its pitching is. If Cordero goes down, the Reds might finish behind Pittsburgh and Houston this season. There's no depth or quality in the bullpen or rotation apart from Harang and Cordero. But if some youngsters step up, then 4th or even 3rd place is doable, and that's it.

"Pete Rose was a cheating prick who didn't give a damn about anyone but himself... yes, even during the championship seasons he was more interested in his hits, stats, and fame."

Rose might have been all that OFF the diamond but he contributed to Cincinnati championships and gave us the all-time hits record thrill, and let's face it, people don't admire Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb for their off-field personalities. High-achievers have to be focused on themselves, otherwise they fail to achieve very highly, at least WHILE they are playing. So Rose was no Roberto Clemente, big deal! Neither are you!

"Grow up and grow a pair.. you fools will never have as much baseball knowledge than Wayne Krisky..."

Who is this KRISKY you speak of? Is it someone the Reds ought to hire?

"...who able to take small market Minnesota to the playoffs, like he will this team after he corrects al the mistakes his predecessors made. We will NEVER have the money to spend like the NY, Cal, Ill, or Boston... we NEED Krivsky more than he needs us. He has already FIXED the farm system, and now has given us the base talent to be contenders every year."

No, he hasn't, and no we are not possessed of any "base talent" and the Reds are FAR from being contenders. Your arguments are as easily pulled apart as unglued popsicle sticks. This team has benefited in some departments from the front office but has made really stupid trades and drafts and Krivsky has so far failed to improve Reds pitching--if Cordero works out, great, but it wasn't too long ago that Cordero was a trainwreck, and whether he repeats his Milwaukee success here is questionable--more to the point, where are the Reds' versions of Joba Chamberlain, Huston Street, or Jonathon Papelbon? That so-called fixed farm system is pathetic when it comes to developing great young arms. Still waiting! Where are those young closer candidates from the farm?

As I've said, Hamilton for pitching, even if it turns out to be another disaster, was something K-man had to try, since this team's pitching is so lousy and we're so deep in outfielders. Yet K-man continues to fiddle with adding more OFs instead of getting the job done on additional pitching.

"He has hired outside the organization to get a manager who knows how to win."

Yeah, Dusty knows how to lose too. And he'll become more expert at that with the pitching-lite Reds this year.

"If you want to believe the hype, then why do all of his past players want to play for him again... pitchers included?"

Maybe because he lets them get away with all kinds of crap? Unlike a Pinella or Torre? And it's not "hype" it's CRITICISM--if you could think and write better than a fifth grader, oooooo, maybe THEN you could lecture us on baseball smarts...

"That is how you win in MLB, you bunch of uneducated sheep."

Reds aren't doing any winning in MLB this year nor have they recently, and the Reds are not even competitive. Krivsky may yet prove to be a winner HERE but I suspect that as long as he's dumpster diving for a 15th and 16th outfielder candidate time is being wasted and focus on the critical core needs remains lost.

Your comment about sheep make sense seeing how Stanton and Baker fleeced the Reds for far more $$$$ than they're worth.

at 8:31 AM Anonymous Jack in Blue Ash said...

5:58 anon great post I agree completely

I was sent at least 25 articles by friends and family in Chicago when we hired Dusty Baker. I dont follow the Cubs..I dont know what he did up there..but they ran the guy outta town. And it was not just the players that were complaining

With all the talk..I have not seen such an influx of past Baker players knocking on the door to play in Cincinnati. More importantly..why do we want em?

I emailed John Fay..I agree all debate should be allowed without profanity or threats.

I have been told that some of my posts are too long ..yet I see many that are longer. It would appear that John is somewhat biased.. No big deal though

at 5:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

People come on! Kenny Lofton would be a gem in Cincy! I have watched him for years. Do not let his age fool you. Lofton would be a perfect fit. Last year in Cleveland he was wonderful. He got a lot of Credit for what he brought to the team. The Indians did make it to the playoffs. Lofton has Cincy connections.
I may be his biggest Fan! Many in Cincy would follow me on this one, if he is given the chance.

at 12:40 AM Blogger Tree said...

Corey Patterson is easily the best choice. Dusty knows him so well, Corey is better than any other option and possesses far more potential than any others mentioned. He was rushed through the system, by Dusty himself, and I think Dusty would like to give him a very deserved second chance!

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