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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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Last post from Westwood for a while

I'm heading to Sarasota on the 9 a.m. flight tomorrow. Should arrive at the Ed complex around noon. I'm looking forward to it as always, but there's also a sense of "man, I'm not going to have much of a life for the next 7 1/2 months."

Looks like spring will start with no Joe Blanton or Kenny Lofton. Here's a list if things I'll be looking forward to (other than a good grouper sandwich):

--Seeing Edinson Volquez throw. He's got the reputation of having big arm. You can't tach a guy to throw 97, but you can refine his pitching skills.

--Seeing how Ryan Freel runs. The guy has fallen out of favor with a lot fans because last year was a lost year. But in the previous three years his on-base percentage was .375, .371, .363 and he averaged 36 steals. Those are good leadoff numbers.

--Watching Johnny Cueto pitch. I've written a ton about the guy, but I've never seen him pitch. Based on Louisville manager Rick Sweet's scouting report, I wouldn't be surprised if Cueto makes the bigs at some point this year.

--Catching Jay Bruce in the hitting cage. I remember the first time I saw Josh Hamilton last year. I knew he was special after about eight swings. Bruce needs a good -- maybe great spring -- make the club. He's certainly capable.

--Chatting with Dusty Baker daily. Baker, in Cincinnati scribe parlance, is a sheer delight. And he's an interesting guy with a lot of interests.

You could probably come up with the your own list. Have at it.

The one thing I'm not looking forward to is looking out the window from my work station in the Hal McCoy Press Room and seeing that first parking place empty. Joe Nuxhall's big blue van was always parked there, slightly askew. Nuxie was too anxious to get into the clubhouse to straighten it. I'll miss the man, and so will everyone else remotely connected to Reds baseball.


at 2:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to going to my first ST the week of the 16th and just heck for baseball to start up again. This winter stuff is really starting to get on my nerves

at 2:16 PM Anonymous MONEY MIKE said...

One of the main things I am looking forward to is seeing if Edwin E. can keep up the high level of play as he has this winter.

at 2:38 PM Blogger Jason said...


Safe journey to Sarasota. I don't know if I speak for all Reds fans, but thanks on the great job you do covering the team. It is a long season, as you mentioned, and it's tough being away from you family. I don't know if I could do it for very long; however, we fans greatly appreciate your work.
I'm heading down to Sarasota in mid-March. I'm sure we'll see you there.

Jason in Charlotte

at 2:39 PM Blogger Dan H said...

But on the positive side your life will be no snow,sleet,freezing rain,gray skies,cold temps- only sun, warmth, Siesta Key sunsets,baseball,good seafood, baseball,no Griffey Jr controversies,Senior drivers,baseball,etc. Enjoy!

at 2:51 PM Blogger Scott said...

Nothing will seem the same without Joe! I was fortunate enough to meet him at the last game of the season in the Hall of Fame. I have the 8 x 10 picture of he and I hanging in my classroom (I am a teacher)....my wife doesn't even rank that high!

at 2:52 PM Anonymous highlander said...

Wow, that last thing about Joe is very sad. Do you know if anything is planned on opening day to honor him? I'm sure there is but do you know the specifics?

at 3:06 PM Blogger INDYREDFAN said...

hopefully this is the beginning of the first world series season in eighteen years.;) (i haven't been huffing paint, i promise)

at 3:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to know how Alex Gonzalez's son is doing and if Alex thinks this will be a better year if for no other reason than he can relax and play baseball.

Matt Belisle's comfort level in year two as a starter.

Todd Coffey's physique.

Dunn's outlook on an extension.

Who will be the No. 3 catcher!!

How's Homer's feeling about his chances of making the OD rotation.

at 3:36 PM Blogger John Fay said...

There's a glitch in getting comments up today. Sorry. I'll definitely check on Gonzlez's son.

at 3:57 PM Blogger Chris at Redleg Nation said...

John, I think you prove the fans' point with Freel's OBP numbers - there was a slight downward trend, even during the good years.

Presumably, the .308 last year was an anonoly, but if you projected his decline rate as it was going (this is statistically unsound, I'm sure), it doesn't look good for '08:

2004: .375 (age 28)
2005: .371 (-4 points)
2006: .363 (-8 points)

If he'd lost 16 points in 2007, he'd be at .347. Then -32 points this year, and we're at .315.

Again, that's most assuredly mathematical nonsense, but given his age, it's not unreasonably to expect a steep drop-off at some point around here. If my numbers were legit, they'd does put Freel '08 in the same neighborhood as last year, and that's a spot where he's of no use.

at 4:07 PM Blogger Mark said...

I especially looked forward to the ol' lefthander rounding third and heading for home during spring training. I knew spring was hear when I heard his voice. Nuxie, you will be missed for a long time.

at 4:50 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm here in Sarasota waiting for you and the REDS. One thing to look forward too is seeing the REDS wives at the games. Maybe you miss that view being in the press box but it's worth a trip past section 112 on a sunny afternoon. Your blog is great to have. Thanks.

at 5:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

any updates on the blanton situation, it seems any news has died down over the past several days.A's set the price level lastweek, but no info otherthan that. looks like reds have opted to stick with the prospects

at 7:39 PM Blogger maus said...

Please no Blanton unless we get him without Cueto, Bailey or any major leaguer except Votto. Look at his stats away from Oakland. Ouch!

No Lofton (unless Freel doesn't come back as his normal self) -- Freel hits RH's pretty good. Hopper hits LH's well. Platoon those guys. Solves the leafoff problem.

Give Bruce 2 months to rip up AAA and then trade Dunn for a more pitching (we can never have too much pitching) after June 15 when he will already have 20 homers.

at 8:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a link to another article rating the top four right handed pitching prospects:

Bailey and Cueto both make it. I would rather keep them and see how they do instead of trading them.

at 8:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to being there and seeing the young guys. I cant remember a Reds spring training with so much legitimate young talent. John, Ive heard the price of grouper has gone up. Can you give me a heads up on the fried grouper sandwich....Im hearing its 10 bucks now instead of 5.

at 8:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, you should be looking forward to not having much of a life for the next eight-and-a-half months!

I want to see how Homer responds to all the trade talk this offseason. One baseball scribe opined that the Reds had their doubts about him, and not from a talent perspective.

I want to see how Dusty reacts to a bunch of young players also being his best players. Can he manage them?

I want to see if David Ross can put last year's disaster behind him.

I want to see if Krivsky is as right about this year's Rule 5 acquisition as he was the two he picked last year.

I want to see how Dusty gets enough ABs for Keppinger, Hopper, Freel and Hatty. Bench guys gotta play some to stay sharp.

at 8:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm coming to ST for two weeks for the first time. Important question for John: where do you find the best grouper sandwiches?

at 9:26 PM Blogger John Fay said...

My personal opinion on grouper is it's as good as the dives as it is at fine restaurants. Gus's 12th St. Cafe, if the fish are biting, has a good one. The one at the Daiquiri Deck is surprisingly good.

at 9:41 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCoy is blogging that the Reds and Brandon Phillips have reached a long term contract. No word on the terms.

BP's arbitration hearing has been cancelled.

at 9:58 PM Anonymous redfuture said...

Sorry you naysayers. National colmunists are now lining up behind me in their opinions of Bailey and Cueto. John Sickles and Keith Law both say that they are number one material without injury. Keith says not to trade eitehr one for Blanton.

at 10:51 PM Blogger Hugh D. Pohl said...

Hey, the grouper sandwiches at Kerr's Wing HOuse, a chain, are even good and large too if you have trouble finding one somewhere else.

I noticed the article that was referenced about Cueto and Bailey mentioned Bailey's great curve, contrary to one of the contrarians who keeps posting about Bailey's curve sucking.

Personally I am really looking forward to seeing what the young guys can do this spring. I will have to make it over to some games at Sarasota from Orlando. My band played outdoors over that way at the Desoto Sppedway last weekend but it rained most of the day, very uncharacteristic for this time of year. Sarasota has beautiful weather.

at 11:02 PM Anonymous Sam in Va. said...

I'm looking forward to seeing whether or not Krivsky decides to man up and lock up Brandon Phillips long term - and whether Jocketty fires him and takes his job next year should the team fall flat again.

Why Krivsky is taking a "wait and see" approach to Phillips is beyond me. Consider the fact that Phillips was asking for around $4.2 million and the Reds wanted to give him $2.7. Also consider that Felipe Lopez - the guy people were still screaming about letting go last year in "the Trade" is getting $4.9 after losing in arbitration with the Nats. That's $4.9 after hitting .245 with nine homers and 26 steals as opposed to BP notching 30 and 30 and getting robbed out of a gold glove. Phillips is also better than Robinson Cano, who will be getting $3, $6 and $9M from the Yankees in the next three years. Even if BP's year was a fluke, he's still a quality second baseman who they could lock up now rather than risk him chasing 40/40 in 2008 and looking at $8-10 million per next winter when they still need pitching.

at 11:37 PM Blogger Matt said...

The big problem with Freel for me was his curiously poor performance against lefties. Hopper did so well against them (including the year before) and it seemed to take the Reds too long to figure that out. (The numbers were drastic.) There was a lot of talk about the Reds difficulties against lefties. Once Hopper and Keppinger got going, plus EdE, Philips, and at times Gonzalez, the problem dissipated. Whoever mans CF, has to hit left-handed pitching reasonably well and Freel will have to prove last year was a fluke in that regard.

at 1:42 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice note on missing Nuxie and seeing his van out the window. Ya know, I've lived outside of Reds Country since 1984 and have mostly worked nights, which means I haven't been able to listen to their broadcasts on any kind of consistent basic in a quarter of a century. But his voice will always be what I remember most about tuning in often during the '70s and early '80s (certainly no slight meant toward Marty). Being a Reds fan will never quite be the same without him.

at 3:16 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those Krivsky haters, I wanted to post the counterargument that you could spin Krivsky's 7 best deals for the Reds to read like this:

In exchange for giving up Wily Mo Pena, Bobby Basham, Russ Haltiwanger, Jeff Stevens and giving the Cubs an undisclosed amount of cash ($100k?), the Reds got back the windfall of Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Josh Hamilton, Jared Burton, Jon Coutlangus, David Ross, Jeff Keppinger, and $1.43 million in cash.

(That cash is Boston's part of Arroyo's contract minus $50k for Burton's Rule V draft fee and $20k for Coutlangus' waiver claim).

Say what you will about him, there's a tremendous amount of value he has generated for our franchise.
- Petey in LA

at 8:07 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Sam in Va. should be enjoying his morning coffee now that BP is locked up with a long term contract.

Seems like the Krivdog knows what he's doing in regards to keeping the Reds business close to his chest. The Brewers were convinced they were bidding against themselves in trying to retain Cordero thanks to Krivsky keeping his pie hole shut. And now BP has a long term deal that wasn't negotiated through the press.

at 9:29 AM Blogger robby said...

If Ryan Freel gets significant playing time it will be a long year. The babysitting issue aside, the Reds should have Hamilton in center and Freel available as a late inning pinch runner and/or defensive replacement for any number of positions. Never have understood the fans love of Freel. He plays hard but he also plays dumb. If Bruce is not ready, the Reds will really be in trouble in the outfield when Griffey goes down again.

I also can't beleive the number of people who write in about all the great players Krivsky has brought in. Correct me if I am wrong but have the Reds made any sgnificant upward movement in wins or in the standings since all these great moves were made?

If Dusty Baker doesn't turn around the losing culture in the locker room, which is what has to change, it will be another long season.

at 10:09 AM Anonymous redsfanwoody said...

Things I am looking forward to reading about_
-Griffey looks 100% healthy from the groin injury
-Seeing who fills out the 3-5 spots in the rotation,does Belisle take advantage of being handed the third spot.
-What minor leaguer/minor league contract invitee makes he club.
- See of someone pulls a Rob Stratton and gets fans all worked up only to fade away
-See how much weight Coffey has dropped and if it helps him at all.

at 2:56 PM Anonymous Joe A. said...


Lived in alot of MLB cities and follow baseball closely--Your blogs and overall coverage are simply amazing!

I have no idea how many hits you get per day, but this has got to be the best kept secret in Cincy.

Keep up the great work!

Joe A.

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