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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Friday, February 29, 2008

Sarasota dreaming

I’ve decided to pull out all stops to keep the Reds in Sarasota.

I decided this during a sunset run on the beach at Siesta Key. Or maybe it was during the delightful meal at Javier’s. Or maybe it was while drinking beers served up by the lovely Mary at Daiquiri Deck.

Sarasota is a very nice place to spend six weeks. I may change my mind, however, after the drive to Dunedin on Sunday, followed by the drive to Fort Myers on Monday. But, right now, I’m solidly behind staying in Sarasota.

I'll be on WLW tonight with Doc at 8 or so. Writers Roundtable night.

Rays 7, Reds 6

Rays beats the Reds 7-6. Reds had the winning runs in the scoring position in the ninth. Drew Anderson lined to right.

"Damn," Dusty Baker said. "It's spring training but you still want to win that game."


First pitch: 1:05. Temperature: 66. Plenty of seats available.

Homer Bailey's 2008 debut isn't being met with the anticipation of of the 2007 debut. But it will be interesting. From what Dusty Baker and Dick Pole are saying, you get the idea that Bailey's bought into the program a bit more.

Rays 1st: Iwamura L6 on 3-2 count. Crawford infield single. Pena walks. Bailey's missing badly. Double steal. Upton walks. Aybar called strike 3. Gomes 6-3. No damage, lot of pitches.

Reds 1st (Edwin Jackson): Hopper F8 on a 3-2 count -- a real good pace so far. Keepinger F9. Griffey 1-3.

Rays 2nd: Longoria F9. Barlett 5-3. Riggans 6-3. That was a 5- or 6-pitch inning.

Reds 2nd: Dunn singles. Votto Foul 5. Green K. Bako K.

Volquez in. Bailey's line: 2 IP, 2 hits, no runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout.

Rays 3rd: Iwamura L8. Crawford 3 unassited. Pena K.

Reds 3rd: (Jason Hammell): Janish double to right-center. Valentin F8. Janish to third. Hopper sac fly. Keppinger 5-3.

Rays 4th: Upton 4-3. Aybar F8. Gomes HBP. Longoria doubles, Gomes scored. Bartlett walks. Riggans singles, Longoria scores. (Justin Lehr into for Volquez) Pinch-hits Rodriguez. A balk is called. Bartlett scores, Riggans to second. Rodriguez K.

Reds 4th: Griffey walks. Dunn 4-3, pinch-runner Dickerson to second. Votto walks. Dickerson steals third. Votto steals second. Green 5-3, Dickerson scores. Bako K.

Off to Homer Bailey press conference. Will catch up when I get back.

I'm back. It's still 3-2. Lehr pitched a scoreless fifth amd Adam Pettyjohn a scoreless sixth..

Young Homer was terse.

How it go out there?

"You saw it."

How go from your perspective?

"All right. I was rushing a bit with (Carl) Crawford on. He's stole a bag or tow in his day. I settled down and got outs."

It didn't get much better than that. Homer's a bit of a smart ass. That works when you're good. If not, it gets annoying. Now, back to action.

Reds' 6th: Freel 5-3. Dickerson K. Anderson singles. APhillips 5-3.

Marcus McBeth pitching for the Reds.

Rays 7th: Two flyouts and a strikeout. Nice job by McBeth.

Reds 7th: Cabrera F7. Colina 4-3. Rolases double to left. A pure hustle double. Valentin 4-3.

Rays 8th: Bad inning for Scott Sauerbeck: He walked in a run. He then got what should have been an inning-ending double play ball. But Rosales threw it away and two runs scored. Ramon Ramirez took over. He averts further damage.

Reds 8th: Bruce singles. Freel walks. Dickerson walks. Dickerson singles, Bruce scores. Phillips walks, Freel socre. Cabrera singles, Dickerson and Anderson score. Cabreara caught stealing. Colina K.

Rays 9th: Tom Shearn gave up a run on two hits in the ninth. Freel made two nice plays at third in the inning.

Gonzo out at least 3 weeks (update)

SS Alex Gonzalez's MRI revealed a compression fracture of his left knee. He will be evaluated again in three weeks.

He's crutches and will be unable to do anything baseball-related until he's re-evaluated.

The injury is suffered from landing wrong. It is not related to last year's injury. It's a different spot.

Dusty Baker on who replaces him: "(Jeff) Keppinger is one of the guys. He played well there last year. (Paul) Janish, (Adam) Rosales, (Juan) Castro. We're going to look at a lot guys."

Dusty on Homer

Today is Homer Bailey's spring debut. He takes the mound at 1:05 p.m. vs. Tampa Bay at Ed Smith Stadium. There isn't quite the anticipation this year as there was last. I asked Dusty Baker if the fact that's there's less pressure and Bailey had a taste of the big leagues puts him in better position to succeed.

“I think he’s in better position because his mechanics are better, allowing him to throw better strikes," Baker said. "From what I hear, he was all arms and legs last year."

There were whispers last year that Bailey wasn't very coachable. Baker hasn't seen that.

“Sometimes you need to fail to really listen," Baker said. "He’s been all ears basically, which you like in a young player. But sometimes they have to fail before they listen.”

And apparently, it's working.

“Dick Pole told me his side (sessions) were very good," Baker said. "It’s getting better each side. I talked to him and he feels he’s improving, getting better, which is what you want to see.”

Bailey will be followed by Edinson Volquez. Should be interesting. They have similar arms and are competing for a spot in the rotation. Volquez may even have better stuff than Bailey.

"I like his arm," Baker said of Volquez. "I like his arm big time, nice loose arm. We just have to get him to trust all his pitches."

Reds v. Rays, plus scheduling info

The lineup for today's 1:05 p.m. tilt vs. Tampa Bay:

Norris Hopper CF
Jeff Keppinger 3b
Ken Griffey RF
Adam Dunn LF
Joey Votto 1b
Andy Green 2b
Paul Bako C
Paul Janish SS
Javy Valentin DH

Bailey P. Also scheduled to pitch: Edinson Volquez, Justin Lehr, Marcus McBeth, Tom Shearn, Scott Sauerbeck and Adam Pettyjohn.

No radio today.

Tomorrow: Pittsburgh at home, 1:05 p.m., Aaron Harang v. Zach Duke, WLW
Sunday: Toronto in Dunedin, 12:35 p.m., Bronson Arroyo v. TBA, WLW
Monday: Minnesota in Ft. Myers, 1:05 p.m., Jeremy Affeldt v. TBA, no radio
Tuesday: Cleveland at home, 1:05 p.m., Matt Belisle v. TBA, no radio
Wednesday: Boston at Ft. Myers, 1:05 p.m., Homer Bailey v. TBA, no radio
Thursday: Yankees at home, 1:05 p.m., TBA v. TBA, no radio.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dusty's watching

Dusty Baker strolled up behind the batting cage Thursday morning and said: “Let’s see how many hits you can get. If you can’t get a hit in practice, you ain’t going to get any in the game."

Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Juan Castro and Paul Bako were in the group hitting. The intensity of the session picked up. It was Baker’s way of saying: I’m watching.

For the record, Bruce went 3-for-5, Votto and Castro 2-for-5 and Bako 0-for-5. Baker was arbiter. Bruce last hit was home run that just missed the foul pole.

Bako, by the way, asked hitting coach Brook Jacoby to work with him in cage after BP.

Reds 6, Twins 1

The Reds beat the Twins 6-1 Thursday before a crowd of 3,085 at Ed Smith Stadium.

Jerry Gil's three-run, opposite field home run was the key hit. Seven Reds pitchers limited the Twins to an unearned run on the five hits.

"Everybody we put out there looked good," Dusty Baker said. "No walks. That's a beautiful thing."

Starter Matt Belisle and Josh Fogg went two innings each. Kent Mercker, David Weathers, Francisco Cordero, Mike Stanton and Mike Lincoln pitched an inning each.

Gil's impressed early.

"That young man has skills," Baker said.

Gil, however, left the game after pulling up while trying to beat out an infield hit. He probably won't play today."


First pitch: 1:09, 57 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Matt Belisle pitching for the Reds.

Twins 1st: Carlos Gomez 3 unassited. Brendam Harris, former Red and much discussed on the blog last year, F9. Nice play by some kid named Jay Bruce on slicing line drive. Joe Mauer bounced a single through the middle. Michael Cuddyer Foul 3.

Reds 1st (Scott Baker pitching): Norris Hopper F9. Ryan Freel singles to center. Brandon Phillips grounds into fielder's choice. Should have been a double play. Harris' throw to first was bad. Edwin Encarnacion strikes out.

Twins 2nd: Jason Kubel singles. Craig Monroe singles. Mike Lamb L6. Garrett Jones grounds into a 3-6-1 DP.

Reds 2nd: Bruce singles. Andy Phillips singles on the hit-and-run. Bruce to third. Juan Castro flies to right -- too shallow to get Bruce in. Javy Valentin hits into a 6-4-3 DP.

Belisles's done: 2 IP, 3 hits. Josh Fogg's in.

Twins 3rd: Alexi Casilla Ks. Gomez Ks, looking. Harris 1-3.

Reds 3rd (Matt Guerrier pitching): Votto 1-3. Hopper 1-3 (allmst exactly the same play as Votto). Freel F(. Nice play by Gomez.

Ryan Hanigan's catching now.

Twins 4th: Mauer F7. Nice play by Freel. Cuddyer single. Kubel 8. Wild pitch to Cuddyer to second. Monroe 1-3.

Reds 4th (Pat Neshek pitching): BPhillips strikes out. Encarnacion doubles down the left field line. Bruce F7. APhillips 6-3.

Kent Mercker's pitching, Jolbert Cabrera's at first, Adam Rosales is at second, Andy Green at third, Chris Dickerson in left, Jerry in center, Drew Anderson in right.

Twins 5th: Lamb singles. Jones F8. Casilla hit into a 4-6-3 DP.

OK, I went down to talk to Josh Fogg. It's 3-1 Reds. In the fifth, Jerrry Gil hit a three-run homer the opposite field, scoring Castro and Votto who singled.

The Twins scored an unearned run in the sixth. Really unearned. Jeff Keppinger mzde an error at shortstop. Gil and Chris Dickerson collided on a ball in center. And David Weathers threw wilding to first.

Reds 6th: Andy Green P5. Cabrera 1-3. Keppinger singles. Hanigan takes a called third strike.

Twins 7th: Francisco Cordero's pitching. Monroe Pop to 4. Matt Macri reaches on Gil's error. Flyout and groundout end the inning. (I've given up on the Twins substitutions).

Reds 7th: Votto 6-3. Gil 5-3. Dickerson K.

Mike Stanton pitching.

Twins 8th: Jason Pridie foul to 5. Matt Tolbert P4. Jose Morales 6-3. Nice play by Paul Janish. The kid is smooth.

Reds 8th: Rosales singles. Green F3. Drew Anderson walked. Cabrera doubles, scoring two. Keppinger F8. Janish reaches on error, Cabebra scores. Alvin Colina strikes ot.

Twins 9th (Mike Lincoln pitching). 1-2-3 inning. It's over.

Weathers report

David Weathers is a good teammate and he wants to win, so he wasan't about to complain when the Reds signed Francisco Cordero. But he admits it stung a bit.

“I was a little disappointed when everything happened and the way it did,” Weather said. “You have your best season and you get demoted. As they say, you take on the chin and keep fighting. That’s the way my whole career has been.”

Weathers understands why Cordero was added. Weathers was good last year -- converting 33 of 39 saves -- but the Reds bullpen overall was awful. The Reds finished last in National League in relief pitching with a 5.13 ERA.

“We needed a guy like Francisco,” Weathers said. “We had to have that because it makes our team that much better. But I would have hoped to be in that slot. That’s human nature.”

Weathers has always been afterthought with the Reds. That was the case when he signed his current contract.

In 2006, he was closer until the Reds traded for Eddie Guardado and after Guardado got hurt. Still, the Reds didn’t jump at the chance to bring Weathers back.
They signed Mike Stanton first. Weathers wanted to come back but the Reds weren’t willing to pay what they paid Stanton.

Weathers left to a $10 million, three-year deal from San Francisco on the table to sign with the Reds for two years and $5 million -- $500,000 less than Stanton’s deal.

“It took so long to get a deal done,” Weathers said. “If compared me to what every other guy was doing, I was doing my job as well better as anyone – with the saves, the holds and all that.

“You’re only human. You do feel underappreciated – or taken for granted,” Weathers said. “I felt that way. You sit around and see everyone else get rewarded.”

Get your tickets

From the Reds:

Single Game and Reds 4-Packs On Sale Saturday

SINGLE GAME TICKETS: Individual game tickets for all 2008 regular season games, with the exception of Opening Day and the June 13-15 Boston Red Sox series, will go on sale Saturday, March 1 at 9 a.m. ET. Fans have many options to get single game tickets:
• Internet: reds.com
• Phone: 513-381-REDS or 877-647-REDS (7337)
• In person: Great American Ball Park ticket windows and all Greater Cincinnati Meijer stores

REDS 4-PACKS: Tickets for the June 13-15 weekend series against the defending World Series champions Boston Red Sox will be available as a new four-game ticket package on Saturday, March 1 at 9 a.m. ET…only at reds.com. Fans can choose from:
• Friday, June 13 Boston game and pick three other Friday games
• Saturday, June 14 Boston game and pick three other Saturday games
• Sunday, June 15 Boston game and pick three other Sunday games

TICKET PRICES: Regular season individual game ticket prices range from $7 to $42 per seat. There is an additional $5 charge per ticket for Select Games (vs Cle 5/16-5/18; vs Chi 9/5-9/7) and an additional $15 charge per ticket for Premier Games (vs Bos 6/13-6/15).

GABP BOX OFFICE: Beginning Monday, March 3, ticket windows at Great American Ball Park will be open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Today's lineup

Here's the lineup against the Twins today:

Hopper CF
Freel LF
BPhillips 2B
Encarnacion 3B
Bruce RF
APhillips 1B
Castro SS
Valentin C
Votto DH

It's 42 degrees here. They're giving wind-chill warnings. Could feel like it's in the 30s. Get out the parkas. Floridians tend to get a little worked up about a cold snap.

Ken Griffey Jr. came into Dusty Baker's office this morning.

“Griff’s wondering why he’s not playing,” Baker said. “He said, ‘I’m ready.’ One more day, Dude.”

Baker isn't concerned about Griffey's bat getting ready.

“I ain’t worried about him hitting," Baker said. "He’s going to hit forever. It’s just a matter of how his legs feel. If his legs are OK, everything else is OK. I’m trying to give him some time to get his legs underneath him. He’s been running good. I’m trying to pace it properly. Him and (Adam) Dunn both. Let them get a lot of work. It’s a short spring. It’s a short time between the time they get here and the game’s start.

“The young guys are ready. It doesn’t take them as long to get in shape.”
"It gives me a chance to look at (Jerry) Gil and (Chris) Dickerson. Gil's looking great. Dickerson's looking better. They both can run and they both have outstanding throwing arms."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sheldon "Chief" Bender dies

Sheldon "Chief" Bender died Wednesday. Bender ran the scouting and player development department in the Big Red Machine days.

Great guy, great baseball man.

From the Reds:

Chief Bender died today at Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton, Ohio. He was 88 years old.

Sheldon “Chief” Bender, director of the Reds farm system from 1967 to 1989, retired from baseball in 2005 after spending 64 years in the game as a player, manager and executive. The last 39 of those years came as a member of the Reds front office working in scouting and player development. Under Bender’s leadership, the farm system produced many future stars, including Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey Sr., Don Gullett, Mario Soto, Ron Oester, Tom Browning, Paul O’Neill, Chris Sabo, Eric Davis, and Barry Larkin. In honor of his contributions, the Reds renamed their minor league player of the year award the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award in 2002.

Phillies 8, Reds 1

The Phillies beat the Reds 8-1 in the spring opener.

Gary Majewski got ripped in the fifth: He gave up hits to six of the seven batters he faced. He left with one out and two runners on. Jon Coutlangus followed and gave up a three-run homer. That was the ball game.

Majewski's line: 1/3 IP, 6 hits, 6 runs. That's a 162.16 ERA.

"We're here to find out some things," Dusty Baker said. "We left some people out there longer than we normally would. That's what we're here for."

Adam Rosales got the Reds on the board with a home run in the seventh. Who is Adam Rosales, you ask? The Reds 12th-round pick in the 2005 draft. He combined to hit .286 with 41 doubles, 11 triples, 18 home runs and 79 RBI at Sarasota and Chattanooga.

Jeremy Affledt looked good vs. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley in the first. He struck out Utley. He's got some pop on his fastball. No radar readout at Bright House, however.

The second didn't go so smoothly. Ryan Howard led off with a double to center. Pat Burrel followed with a single. Howard scored on Geoff Jenkins' double play. Pedro Feliz singled. Joey Votto made a nice play on Wes Helms hard-hit grounder to end the inning. That was it for Affeldt: 2 IP, 1 run or 3 hits, 1 strikeout.

“I’m a guy who doesn’t like to get into jams,” Affeldt siad. “But to get into one and get out it is nice. I had a good time.”

Jay Bruce singled with two outs in the second. That was extent of the offense for the Reds through three innings. Ancient Jamie Moyer had them a bit baffled.

Jim Brower took over for Affeldt and worked a 1-2-3 third, striking out one. Jared Burton followed Brower and pitched perfect fourth, striking out one.

Majewski's disaster followed.

Todd Coffey came in after Coutlangus and worked a perfect sixth. Jon Adkins worked a scoreless seventh, Brad Salmon the eighth.

Baseball America's Top 100: Bruce No. 1

This just in from Baseball America:

Minor League POY Jay Bruce leads rankings of top minor league talent

DURHAM, N.C.--Baseball America has ranked Jay Bruce, an outfielder in the Cincinnati Reds organization, as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

BA defines prospect as any player who has yet to cross Major League Baseball's rookie thresholds of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched, and BA does not take major league service time into account. Bruce, BA's 2007 Minor League Player of the Year, beat out Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Yankees righthander Joba Chamberlain and Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz for the top honor.

Here's a link to Historical Top 100s, dating back to our first ranking in 1990.

Some facts and figures on the Top 100:

34 RHP, 23 OF, 12 LHP, 9 3B, 8 1B, 7 C, 5 SS, 2 2B.

7 Rays, Red Sox
5 Braves, Reds, Rockies
4 Angels, Cardinals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Mariners, Tigers, Yankees
3 Indians, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, White Sox
2 Astros, Brewers, Giants, Marlins, Padres, Royals
1 Blue Jays, Chunichi (Japan), Twins
0 Athletics

79 United States
9 Dominican Republic
7 Venezuela
1 Canada, Curacao, Japan, Puerto Rico, Taiwan

46 High school draft picks
25 College draft picks
19 International free agents
5 Junior college draft picks
4 Draft-and-follows
1 Independent league draft picks

2008 Edition

1. Jay Bruce, of, Reds
2. Evan Longoria, 3b, Rays
3. Joba Chamberlain, rhp, Yankees
4. Clay Buchholz, rhp, Red Sox
5. Colby Rasmus, of, Cardinals
6. Cameron Maybin, of, Marlins
7. Clayton Kershaw, lhp, Dodgers
8. Franklin Morales, lhp, Rockies
9. Homer Bailey, rhp, Reds
10. David Price, lhp, Rays
11. Travis Snider, of, Blue Jays
12. Matt Wieters, c, Orioles
13. Jacoby Ellsbury, of, Red Sox
14. Andrew McCutchen, of, Pirates
15. Jake McGee, lhp, Rays
16. Brandon Wood, ss/3b, Angels
17. Wade Davis, rhp, Rays
18. Mike Moustakas, ss, Royals
19. Elvis Andrus, ss, Rangers
20. Fernando Martinez, of, Mets
21. Rick Porcello, rhp, Tigers
22. Carlos Gonzalez, of, Athletics
23. Matt LaPorta, of, Brewers
24. Nick Adenhart, rhp, Angels
25. Jordan Schafer, of, Braves
26. Gio Gonzalez, lhp, Athletics
27. Chris Marrero, 1b/of, Nationals
28. Jason Heyward, of, Braves
29. Adam Miller, rhp, Indians
30. Kosuke Fukudome, of, Cubs
31. Andy LaRoche, 3b, Dodgers
32. Chase Headley, 3b, Padres
33. Angel Villalona, 3b/1b, Giants
34. Johnny Cueto, rhp, Reds
35. Deolis Guerra, rhp, Twins
36. Brett Anderson, lhp, Athletics
37. Jose Tabata, of, Yankees
38. Ian Stewart, 3b, Rockies
39. Reid Brignac, ss, Rays
40. Lars Anderson, 1b, Red Sox
41. Austin Jackson, of, Yankees
42. Jeff Clement, c, Mariners
43. Josh Vitters, 3b, Cubs
44. Joey Votto, 1b/of, Reds
45. Ian Kennedy, rhp, Yankees
46. Jarrod Parker, rhp, Diamondbacks
47. Geovany Soto, c/1b, Cubs
48. Daric Barton, 1b, Athletics
49. Jair Jurrjens, rhp, Braves
50. Matt Antonelli, 2b, Padres
51. Ross Detwiler, lhp, Nationals
52. Carlos Gomez, of, Twins
53. J.R. Towles, c, Astros
54. Carlos Carrasco, rhp, Phillies
55. Chin-Lung Hu, ss, Dodgers
56. Nick Blackburn, rhp, Twins
57. Daniel Cortes, rhp, Royals
58. Chris Volstad, rhp, Marlins
59. Desmond Jennings, of, Rays
60. Fautino de los Santos, rhp, Athletics
61. Neil Walker, 3b, Pirates
62. Carlos Triunfel, ss, Mariners
63. Luke Hochevar, rhp, Royals
64. Justin Masterson, rhp, Red Sox
65. Chris Davis, 3b, Rangers
66. Max Scherzer, rhp, Diamondbacks
67. Chris Tillman, rhp, Orioles
68. Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Marlins
69. Radhames Liz, rhp, Orioles
70. Brandon Jones, of, Braves
71. Chuck Lofgren, lhp, Indians
72. Manny Parra, lhp, Brewers
73. Jed Lowrie, ss, Red Sox
74. Dexter Fowler, of, Rockies
75. Tyler Colvin, of, Cubs
76. Adrian Cardenas, 2b, Phillies
77. Eric Hurley, rhp, Rangers
78. Troy Patton, lhp, Orioles
79. Hank Conger, c, Angels
80. Taylor Teagarden, c, Rangers
81. Jordan Walden, rhp, Angels
82. Sean Gallagher, rhp, Cubs
83. Phillippe Aumont, rhp, Mariners
84. Tim Alderson, rhp, Giants
85. Bryan Anderson, c, Cardinals
86. Collin Balester, rhp, Nationals
87. Beau Mills, 3b/1b, Indians
88. Scott Elbert, lhp, Dodgers
89. Steve Pearce, 1b/of, Pirates
90. Joe Savery, lhp, Phillies
91. Nolan Reimold, of, Orioles
92. Gorkys Hernandez, of, Braves
93. Neftali Feliz, rhp, Rangers
94. Michael Bowden, rhp, Red Sox
95. Hector Gomez, ss, Rockies
96. Ryan Kalish, of, Red Sox
97. Chris Perez, rhp, Cardinals
98. Greg Reynolds, rhp, Rockies
99. Jeff Niemann, rhp, Rays
100. Drew Stubbs, of, Reds

Stating v. relief for the young arms

There's no question that Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Homer Baiely have three of the best arms in camp. They're being prepared as starters. So, if they don't make the rotation, do they start the year in the minors?

“Not necessarily," Dusty Baker said. "I come from the Dodger way. With young guys, the next best thing is long relief. It’s in between starting and relieving. It’s probably the less pressure on the staff because most of the time you’re coming in when you’re behind. We did it with Dave Burba in San Francisco, and he ended up winning nine, 10 games.

"Throw up zeros, so the offense can come back. You can’t let add on or trade runs. That’s where that guy is really important. If you’re not going to come back (and win games), you’re not going to win the pennant or the wild card. You need a guy who allows you to come back.”

Nolan Ryan, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Don Gullett and Roy Oswalt are among the dominant starters who began their careers in the bullpen.

"A lot of young guys start out in long relief," Baker said. "If a guy’s not going to start, that’s the next best thing.”

This will make for interesting decisions at the end. The Reds owe Mike Stanton and Todd Coffey a lot of money. They're going to have to pay them regardless of whether they're on the team or not. Sounds like Baker would like to go with 11 or 12 best arms.

Live from Clearwater

I'm coming to you from beautiful Bright House Field, spring home of the Phillies. This place is the jewel of the Grapefruit League. The Reds had visions of a place like this when they started to push to rebuild Ed Smith. That's not going to happen -- at least here in Florida.

Bright House has luxury boxes, the outfield berm, a tiki bar in left, spacious offices. And a $60 million price tag. The stadium in Goodyear is similar.

By the way, it's bone-chilling 56 degrees here with whipping winds.

Here's the lineup for today's tilt:

Ryan Freel CF
Norris Hopper LF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Jay Bruce RF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Paul Bako C
Andy Green DH

Jeremy Affeldt P

That top six might be very close to what you'd have next year if Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn leave via free agency.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The games have begun

The home white team beat the visiting gray team 8-2 in the Reds intrasquad game. Drew Anderson was the star. He went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer. Paul Janish looked good. He had a hit and made three sterling plays at short.

"I saw good things," Dusty Baker said. "Jerry Gil looked good. Anderson looked great. (Chris) Dickerson looked good. Janish made the three nice plays. No missed signs. That's what I like."

Johnny Cueto looked very good in an inning of work. He struck out two.

Here's Jeff Brantley scouting report on Cueto: "He looked great. He was 92 to 96 on the gun I saw. But you can throw out all the things good and bad physically. I look for mound presence. I saw that big time."


Gray 1st (Aaron Harang pitching): Norris Hopper hit a high hopper to third Edwin Encarnacion made a strong throw to get him. Jeff Keppinger followed with a double down the line. (I know give him the job). Jay Bruce followed with 4-3. Joey Votto struck out.

White 1st (Bronson Arroyo pitching): Ryan Freel flied out to left. Juan Castro walked. Scott Hatteberg singled. BPhillips hits in 5-4-3 DP.

Gray 2nd (Matt Maloney pitching): Maloney throws pretty hard. There's no radar gun at the Ed. Jerry Gil singled. Javy Valentin struck out -- Gil stole second as he did. Gil went to third on a wild pitch. Jolbert Cabrera grounded out. Andy Green reached on an Edwin Encarnacion error. Gil scored. Andy Phillips flied out to center. 1-0 Gray.

The crowd's a bit sparse. It wouldn't fit in my Cobalt rental, but I'd guess under 1,000.

White 2nd (Johnny Cueto pitching): Cueto brings it. Encarnacion 5-3. David Ross struck out. Chris Dickerson took a called third strike. Pretty impressive debut for Cueto.

Liberal substitions. Andy Phillips of Grays goes in for Brandon Phillips of the Whites. The question is is he still DHing for the Grays.

Gray 3rd (Richie Gardner pitching): Hopper took a called third strike. Keppinger walked. Bruce hit into a double play.

White 3rd (Alexander Smit pitching): Drew Anderson struck out looking. You might have heard the call in Cincinnati. The ump's a tad vocal. Ryan Hanigan singled to center. Hanigan stole second. Freel grounded out, Hanigan to third. Paul Janish walked. Hatteberg flied out to right. YMCA, an Ed tradition, is playing. The grounds crew will spell it out as thgey rake the field.

Gray 4th (Josh Roenicke pitching). He pops the old mitt pretty good. Votto grounded out. Nice play by Janish. Gil smoked one into the gap. He scored on Janish's throwing error. 2-0 Grays. Gil is talented guy. He can run. He has the best arm in camp. He's got power. But he is .250 lifetimne hitter in the minors. Craig Tatum was hit by a pitch. Cabrera flied out. Andy Green struck out.

White 4th (Daryl Thompson pitching): Andy Phillips singled to left. Adam Rosales executed perfectly on the hit-and-run. He grounded a singel through the hole at second. Paul Bako grounded to first into fielder's choice, scoring Phillips. 2-1 Gray. Dickerson reached when Gil misplayed his flyball left. Drew Anderson singled in Bako. Hopper threw Dickerson out at the plate -- easily. Tied, 2-2. Alvin Colina grounded out.

Gray 5th (Tyler Pelland pitching) Chris Kroski hit one to wall in right. Nice play by Dickerson. Hopper grounded out to short. Nice play by Janish. The kid is smooth. Keppinger popped out.

White 5th (Sergio Valenzuela pitching): Freel grounded out. Janish singled. Janish moved up on a wilde pitch. Hatteberg walked. Andy Phillips singled. Bases loaded. Rosales hit a sac fly. White team 3-2. Bako doubled in two runs. White team 5-2. Not a real good debut for for Rule 5 guy. Dickerson reached on Votto's error. Drew Anderson hit a three-run homer to right. 8-2. Not a real good debut for the Rule 5 guy at all. In fact, that ended the inning. He reached his pitch count. "He'll get better," Baker said. "He struggled with his command."

Gray 6th (Ramon Ramirez pitching) Bruce singled to right. Votto stuck out. Gil stung a line drive that Janish made a diving stab on. Third nice play by him. Tatum flied out.

Intrasquad lineups

Here's the intrasquad lineups (hopefully they'll play but it looks like it could rain):

Norris Hopper CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Jay Bruce RF
Joey Votto 1B
Jerry Gil LF
Javier Valentin C
Jolbert Cabrera 3B
Andy Green 2B
Andy Phillips DH
Pitchers: Aaron Harang, Matt Maloney, Richie Gardner, Josh Roenicke, Tyler Pelland.

Ryan Freel CF
Juan Castro SS
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
David Ross C
Chris Dickerson RF
Drew Anderson LF
Ryan Hanigan DH
Pitchers: Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Alexander Smit, Daryl Thompson, Sergio Valenzuela, Ramon Ramirez.

They're shutting SS Alex Gonzalez down for a couple of days because of the sore knee. He has a bone bruise. He'll see Dr. Tim Kremchek Friday. "Better that it happens now," Dusty Baker said.

Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn won't play today or tomorrow in Clearwater. Baker plans to play them two days, then give them a day off.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I just finished up my notebook for tommorow. The lead is on the lineup. My best guess (provided Jay Bruce doesn't win the center field job):

Freel/Hopper CF
Hatteberg/Votto 1B
Griffey RF
Phillips 2B
Dunn LF
Encarnacion 3B
Gonzalez SS
Ross/Valentin C

That's based on some things Dusty Baker said:

On who hits leadoff when Norris Hopper or Ryan Freel doesn't start: “I hope one or other would be in the game,” Baker said. “That’s my hope. I don’t know many teams that have three (leadoff guys).”

On the lineup in general: “It probably won’t be a whole lot different than last year. Without Josh Hamilton, it will be different.”

On who hits second: “It’s probably equally important who the second hitter’s going to be. That’s a big, big spot. It’s a smart spot, a contact spot, a move-the-ball-around spot, an unselfish spot. It’s probably one of the more spots in the lineup. It depends who’s playing, you don’t want it to be a power guy. Gonzalez, Keppinger, Hatteberg. You’d like a little more speed.”

On Brandon Phillips hitting clean up: “Brandon will probably hit third someday. But, right now, I need to him break up Junior and Dunn."

On lighter note, one of great things to watch this spring is Bruce taking good-natured guff from Adam Dunn.

Today, somne copies of Reds Report with Bruce on the cover were in the clubhouse. The headline is "The Next Big Thing." Dunn made Bruce sign four copies, including one for Baker. Bruce then had Bruce deliver it to Baker and tell him: "You know, I'm the next big thing."

Bruce takes it well.

Dusty on shortstop, leadoff

I asked Dusty Baker about the great Jeff Keppinger/Alex Gonzalez debate. He stopped short of the calling Gonzalez his shortstop but said:

“Well, you don’t get any better defensively than Gonzalez. Keppinger’s a good player. Gonzalez has more range. Gonzalez is one of the top shortstops in baseball to me. Keppinger did a fine job. You like have a guy like Keppinger on your team. Keppinger’s working out at first base, third base, shortstop, second base.

“I know he can hit, and he knows he can hit.”

Baker said he doesn't have a number of at-bats in mind for Keppinger.

"Not really,” Baker said. “It works itself out. You’ve got help stay ready. It’s up to me play everybody enough to keep them ready. So they’re ready when they have to play everyday.’

When Baker was asked who would hit leadoff when Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper aren’t playing, he said: "I hope one or the other is in the game."

That would appear not to bode well for the Jay Bruce's chance. But it should be noted that not one game has been played. Josh Hamilton went from an after thought an everyday player with a great spring.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Workout observations 2-24

I finally saw Homer Bailey throw against hitters. He looked good against a good group – Brandon Phillips, Alex Gonzalez, Edwin Encarnacion and Craig Tatum.

“I feel good,” Bailey said. “I’m prepared. I think the experience of last year will help.”

Edinson Volquez looked outstanding against Adam Dunn, Norris Hopper, Ken Griffey Jr. and Paul Bako.

“I’m going to have to turn up the fan a little bit,” Griffey said. That means pick up the bat speed.

Griffey waved at one changeup. Hopper hit one ball hard toward the end of the session. That was it.

“He’s got good stuff,” Dunn said. “A really good changeup.”

Todd Coffey, by the way, was much better in his Sunday session, but he was facing most minor leaguers – not Griffey, Dunn and Co.

Matt Belisle wins the award for worst ride. He still drives a 1996 Ford pickup with 190,000 miles on it.

“That truck makes me feel good every time I get in it,” he said.

I mentioned to him that it was worst truck I’ve ever seen for a guy in his tax bracket.

“You’re the first one to put it that way,”

Baker tries but no Sparky

Dusty Baker made the call. But, sadly, he doesn’t think Sparky Anderson is going to be able to make it to Reds camp.

“He said he’s feeling weak,” Baker said. “How often has he come back?”

Never , Baker was told.

“That tells you something,” Baker said.

Baker talked to Anderson in Saturday night. Anderson just got out of the hospital after 12-day stay. Beyond that, Anderson doesn’t like the attention on him, but Baker wanted to try to persuade him.

Baker did say he expects Joe Morgan to be among the guest instructors at camp.

More early-morning blogging:

--Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt will start the exhibition opener Wednesday against the Phillies in Clearwater. Matt Belisle will start home opener against the Twins Thursday.

--Baker on left-hander Matt Maloney: “Not only does he have good breaking stuff, he has deceptively quick late movement on his fastball. He’s not afraid to throw the ball inside to right-handers, which is one of t he toughest things to teach a left-hander to do because they don’t really trust that pitching area because it creeps back over the plate. Most of the left-handers I didn’t like to face were (threw inside to right-handers). If he can throw it inside like that, it means he can peel that plate – peel it like a banana.”

--Baker on Edinson Volquez: “He has an excellent arm. Whoever scouted him in this trade did an excellent job. He’s got a real good change-up. We’ve got to tighten up his breaking ball. Hopefully, he can continue to show improvement in his command. When you’ve got that kind of stuff, the next step is command. If you get command with that stuff, you’re going to be a heck of pitcher and make this trade look great.”

--Bill Bray and Bobby Livingston are the only players not participating in all drills, i.e., the reds have made through a week without any new injuries.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Baker: Better, much better

Dusty Baker said he was going to address some things with the team before Friday’s work out. He did. And the results?

“It was better – much better,” Baker said. “The overall intensity of the drills was much better. It’s hard to simulate (game conditions) but you practice as you play. You’re looking for perfection even though you’ll never get it.”

Baker is spending time on the tower between fields. He’s starting to get to know his pitchers. He’s been impressed so far.

“Some guys are throwing good," Baker said. "You can tell the guys who played Winter Ball. (Johnny) Cueto, (Edinson) Volquez. They’re ready. (Josh) Roenicke showed a pretty good arm yesterday.”

The competition among left-handers in the bullpen is going to be stiff. The Reds have Bill Bray, Jon Coutlangus and Mike Stanton on the roster, plus non-roster veterans Kent Mercker and Scott Sauerbeck.

“Mercker’s throwing the ball good," Baker said. "All our left-handers are throwing good. It’s going to be tough decision. I had never seen Coutlangus. He’s throwing the ball good. Sauerbeck’s throwing good.”

Baker singled out right-hander Gary Majewski again: "Majewski’s throwing the ball well. He’s in better shape than I heard he was last year. He’s stronger.”

Jared Burton’s make a favorable impression as well.

“He was breaking some bats yesterday," Baker said. "The ball was moving all over everywhere.”

Here's the scoop on Tuesday's intrasquad game:

SCRIMMAGE: The intrasquad game will be held at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ed Smith Stadium. The 11 pitchers scheduled to throw an inning each are RHP Aaron Harang, RHP Bronson Arroyo, RHP Josh Roenicke, RHP Richie Gardner, RHP Johnny Cueto, LHP Alexander Smit, LHP Matt Maloney, RHP Daryl Thompson, RHP Sergio Valenzuela, LHP Tyler Pelland and RHP Ramon Ramirez. Proceeds from the $5 general admission tickets will benefit the Reds Community Fund.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Workout observations

"We've got some good arms."

You hear that a lot around the Ed Smith Stadium complex. I watched Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto and Josh Roenicke throw live batting practice and didn't see one solidly hit ball.

Roenicke has the best arm in camp. Volquez is a notch behind. One scout told that Cueto has a chance to be best of them all. "He's got a great arm and he throws strikes."

It's going to be interesting when they try to put this club together at the end. As noted in the previous post, everyone in the mix for pitching staff has options.

Other observations:

--Another guy who looks good is left-hander Scott Sauerbeck. "His ball is really moving," Brandon Phillips said.

--Todd Coffey had a particularly rough live BP session. Norris Hopper took him out to opposite field. Adam Dunn hit balls out on back-to-back swing. And Ken Griffey Jr. hit one over the batter's eye in center. Ouch.

--Griffey is swinging the bat well. He took Aaron Harang deep as well.

--This isn't an observation because I didn't see him, but people tell me Kent Mercker threw the ball well.

Dusty: There are things I've got to address

Dusty Baker spent a good part of the yesterday's workout on the mini-tower in the middle of the four backfields. He spent a lot of time taking notes. He liked what he saw for the most part.

“There are a few things I’ve got to address," Baker said. "We’re doing good but we can put a little more game effort into these fundamentals and drills."

Baker tries to address things individually if possible.

"It's depends if it's team thing or not," he said. "If it's one or two, why punish the team?"

The tower vantage point lets Baker to keep an eye on four fields at once.

"It allows me to watch a lot of things at the same time," he said. "Right now, I'm learning the personnel. . . I've got a lot to see, a lot to see."

Two things we've learned about Baker in his short time here: He's a stickler for being on schedule, and he's pays close attention to little fundamental things.

Other early tidbits:

--Outfielder/first baseman Craig Wilson was released. Wilson didn't take the field after his physical. He spent most of last year on the DL with shoulder problems.

“That’s a big turning point in you life and your career," Baker said. "I’m hoping it works out. I could see it in his eyes."

--A lot of you asked about options. The following players on the 40-man roster do not have options: RHP Bronson Arroyo, IF Juan Castro, RHP Francisco Cordero, IF/OF Ryan Freel, 1B Scott Hatteberg, IF/OF Jeff Keppinger, 2B Brandon Phillips, C David Ross, C Javier Valentin and RHP David Weathers.

So that means everyone in the bubble for pitching jobs has options.

"That's one great thing Wayne (Krivsky's) done," Baker said. "That's big. Those are big decisions. If one guys is pitching better than a guy who is out of options, you could end up potentially losing both of them if you don't do it right."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fogg official

Josh Fogg is officially in the fold. The Reds signed him to a one-year deal Thursday afternoon. Bobby Livingston was placed on the 60-day disabled list to open up a roster spot.

Talks had been going on for some time.

"This is the place I want to be," Fogg said. "I know some guys here. I played with David Ross in college. I thought this was best chance I had to help a club."

Fogg, a 31-year-old right-hander, was 10-9 with 4.94 ERA last year with Colorado. It was the fifth time in six years that he's won at least 10 games.

He'll compete for a spot in the rotation -- emphasis on compete. Fogg is in the group with Homer Bailey, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Matt Maloney and Jeremy Affeldt competing for the two open spots in the rotation.

"He's the most experienced of the guys competing," Wayne Krivsky said. "we feel like it's a good addition."

Fogg, who turned down $5 million from the Rockies, signed for $1 million.

"The offseason didn't go like a lot of free agents planned," Fogg said.

Wilson no longer in camp

Outfielder/frist base Craig Wilson is no longer in camp. He was here yesterday for his physical, so that tells you something. The Reds haven't announced anything, but they likely will soon.

Wilson was expected to compete for a backup role as a right-handed bat off the bench.

Dusty on Fogg; Gonzo on his son

Early morning blogging:

Dusty Baker on the possible Josh Fogg signing: “I don’t know? Has he he’s signed yet? I haven’t talked to Wayne (Krivsky) this morning. He told me he had been on the phone yesterday, most of the day, trying to do something.”

Then Baker did something Krivsky doesn't do, he answered the hypothetical question about what a Fogg signing would mean: “He appears to getting better. Plus, if he can pitch in Colorado, he pitch anywhere. He was a pretty big man for them down the stretch, so you know he’s not afraid of big games. It gives us another guy who knows how to pitch. If one of our young guys isn’t ready, it gives them time to get ready.”

I asked Alex Gonzalez how his son was doing. "Good," he said. When I asked a follow-up, he politely said he didn't want to talk about it. That's not just a media thing with him. I've asked a couple of teammates what they've heard and they said Gonzalez just doesn't like to talk about it.

Back to Fogg: My thought is if you can get him without giving up anyone, it makes more sense than trading Homer Bailey or Johnny Cueto for Joe Blanton. Fogg's ERA at Coors last year was 5.97. It was 4.15 on the road. Blanton's ERA was 2.69 in Oakland. It was 5.11 on the road.

Add in the fact that Fogg makes $2.7 million less than Blanton and it makes sense. If you're paying a guy $1 million -- pocket change in today's baseball -- you don't feel obligated to put him the rotation. And that $2.7 million could go toward eating a contract, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fogg to Reds?

The Rocky Mountain News is reporting the Reds and Josh Fogg are close to a deal. The right-handed went 10-9 last year

I talked to Wayne Krivsky. He said it's not a done deal but they've been talking. A $1 million deal does not guarantee a spot in the rotation, but it changes the dynamic of the competition.

Castellini speaks

CEO Bob Castellini arrived in the camp to today and had a brief chat with the scribes:

On his feeling going into spring: "I would say I'm more cautiously optimistic -- the emphasis on the optimistic than I've been the two previous spring trainings. The reasons are we've made some good moves. The two predominant ones were Dusty Baker and with our closer Francisco Cordero. We've made some other good moves. There's nothing better than youthful enthusiasm and exuberance.

On the rotation: “We all know we’ve got to round out the rotation. We’re going to see what we have going. I think you all realize that we have good potential here. I know that over the winter I was told by Texas people how much they didn’t want to give up (Edinson) Volquez. And we’ve heard from Philadelphia how much they wanted to keep (Matt) Maloney. Homer (Bailey) and Johnny (Cueto) are our own. We know them and we know them to be outstanding. They’ve got to prove they’re ready for a rotation spot. There isn’t any lack of effort or enthusiasm or dedication on their part. Then you’ve got (Jeremy) Affeldt as well.”

If you can round out the rotation without giving up these cornerstone prospects would that be your preference? “Absolutely.”

On Adam Dunn’s contract: “You know how much I like Adam Dunn. You take those things one day at time. That’s on nobody’s mind right now, least of all Adam’s."

On Sarasota/Arizona situation: “We’re pleased that Sarasota is making the effort to keep us.”

Dusty on Sparky, Bruce

Dusty Baker would like to see Sparky Anderson in camp with the Reds.

"I'd really like to see that," he said. "He gave me a lot of advice. I'd like to bring him for a couple of days. . . I called it going to library when talked to guys like him, Bill Walsh, Al Attles."

Baker got his first look at Jay Bruce hitting yesterday.

“He’s got a very good stroke,” Baker said. “It’s just BP. But you can still see places where a person might have flaws, you need to correct this and that. But he has a very good stroke. He come through the zone with balance. He keeps his head still and down.

“Just from talking to him, he’s very confident that he can hit without being arrogant about it, which is the first thing you want to be in a young hitter. The confidence part is something you can’t give them. You’d rather not see them arrogant because they won listen.”

And the difference between confidence and arrogance?

"I can tell the difference because I had some of both myself."

Baker and Bruce were together on the Winter Caravan.

“I spent three or four days with him on the caravan. It was a very productive days as far as getting to know him – to get away from the stadium, the people, the crowd. People tend to be more relaxed. I was very impressed.”

“He’s a very mature young man. It sounds like he’s had a lot of responsibility in his life at a young age. It makes you grow up rather quickly.”

On Howsam

Some thoughts on Bob Howsam, on day after his death:

It is not a strretch to say that the Reds began sliding to shape they're currently in shortly after Howsam left the franchise. Howsam's second tour ended in 1984. He left the scouting and player development departments in great shape. He had doubled them in his tenure.

The 1990 team was mostly homegrown -- Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Paul O'Niell, Chris Sabo, Tom Browning, Rob Dibble.

But, by 1990, Marge Schott was decimating the scouting and player development. She had success by pumping money into the big leauge payroll. But that was a temporary solution.

The Reds began trying to corrent things in the late 1990s after Schott was forced to sell. But then GM Jim Bowden often reverted to the Schott quick fixes.

Dan O'Brien started to turn around scouting and player development. It's continued under Wayne Krivsky and the current ownership.

But the fact that it's taken so long to get it back to where it was tells you how good it was under Howsam.

By the way, Marty Brennaman just walked in and agrees with the above theory.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Niehaus, not Nuxhall

Seattle play-by-play man Dave Niehaus was named the 2008 recipient Ford C. Frick Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

That means Joe Nuxhall failed to get, despite getting majority of the fan vote to make the ballot of finalists.

Howsam dies

Bob Howsam, the architect of the Big Red Machine, has died.

Howsam was the Reds general manager from 1967 to 1978 and again from 1983-84. He also served at chief operating officer from 1973-78 and 1983-85.

Howsam was 89 years old.

He was responsible for building the team that won the 1975 and ’76 World Series.
Howsam came to the Reds after a stint as GM of the St. Louis Cardinals.

He hired Sparky Anderson in 1970. In 1972, Howsam made the big trade with the Houston Astros, getting Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham and Cesar Geronimo – three key components of the World Championship teams.

Howsam was elected to the Reds Hall of Fame in 2004.

From the Reds:

Bob Howsam, universally recognized as the architect of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine of the 1970s, died this morning of heart failure in Sun City, Arizona. He was 9 days shy of his 90th birthday.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete, though a celebration of his life will be planned in the next few days. It will be held in Sun City.

"Cincinnati was his second home. He had some of his greatest successes there, and the city was always dear to him," said Howsam's son, Robert Howsam Jr.. "While Pops recognized the importance of the players and ownership in baseball, he always felt pleasing the fans should be the number one goal, whether it be concessions, parking or the experience at the ballpark. That was his guiding light, his main message."

Howsam was the club’s general manager from 1967-78 and again from 1983-84, but he also served as president and chief operating officer from 1973-78 and 1983-85. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in August 2004.

Under Howsam’s direction, the Reds were baseball’s dominant team in the 1970s, a decade during which they won 6 Western Division titles, 4 National League pennants and World Series championships in 1975 and 1976. That team’s starting lineup of Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion, Pete Rose, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Griffey earned 63 All-Star selections, 6 Most Valuable Player awards and 26 Gold Gloves.

While he was known as one of baseball’s most shrewd traders, Howsam also was credited with making the Reds’ minor league system one of the strongest in the game. In 1973, he was named Major League Executive of the Year by The Sporting News.

While presiding over the team’s move from Crosley Field to Riverfront Stadium in 1970, Howsam expanded the front office staff and established promotional and public relations programs that would be necessary for success in the new park, including the Straight-A ticket program. He also was a member of Major League Baseball’s executive and player relations committees. Howsam retired on July 1, 1985 but remained with the team for 17 months as a special consultant.

Reds President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini said, "Mr. Howsam played a very important role in the long history of this proud franchise. He put together an organization that became the model for all of baseball. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."

Dunn, Reds: Nothing going on on extension

Adam Dunn is in camp. Could it be his last as a Red?

Dunn says nothing is going on as far as talks about a contract extension. The Reds picked up his option on Oct. 31. But, as it is, he'll become a free agent after the season. Any hope something gets done?

"I don't know anymore," he said. "We'll see what happens. I'm really not worried about it."

Wayne Krivsky confirmed that no talks are going on.

"Right now, things are quiet," Krivsky said. "That don't mean that nothing's go to happen. Right now, we're starting spring training. Let's play. We'll see what happens."

Dunn said he feels great. He had arthroscopic surgery Sept. 26. He had been playing with bulky knee for over a year.

"It's good," he said. "I haven't done a lot of agility stuff. But it's better than it's been in a long time. It should make it easier to play."

Dunn, by the way, is a NASCAR convert after going to the Daytona 500.

"It was awesome," he said. "I wasn't a fan of NASCAR. Being there live and seeing how fast those guys go . . . it's amazing. I don't know how to describe it. TV will never be able to capture the speed, the noise.

"I love it."

All the young arms II

I talked to experts about the young arms today. Both Dick Pole and Dusty Baker were impressed by Monday's first session by the guys they hadn't seen.

"I try not to get too excited about one bullpen session," Pole said. "But we've got some good arms. I was really impressed with the arm strength of (Johnny) Cueto, (Edinson) Volquez and (Josh) Roenicke. You can't teach a good fastball."

Said Baker: "They're looking good. Some guys ahead of other guys, especially the ones who play played Winter Ball. They have a big advantage because they're ready. They looked real good. But we've got good arms in this camp. Good young arms. Good veterans arms.

"Hopefully, we'll have a big pot to chose from."

Baker mentioned Scott Sauerbeck, the left-hander from Northwest High and Miami University, as one of the impressive veteran arms. That's the second time Baker's singled out Sauerbeck. Sauerbeck pitched last year in the minors for Houston and Toronto. He's 20-17 with 3.82 ERA in 487 big league games.

Monday, February 18, 2008

All the young arms

Most of the top young pitchers didn't throw until today. Homer Bailey, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto all threw for the first time.

The one thing they all have in common is ball comes out easy and gets to the plate hard.

Javy Valentin caught Volquez, the right-hander the Reds got in the trade for Josh Hamilton.

"He needs to work on his offspeed stuff," Valentin said. "It was his first day. maybe he was trying to impress. But he's a got a good arm. His fastball moves. He's a good real live arm. That's what you need. Put him in the bullpen or whatever."

Josh Roenicke was as advertised. He throws as hard as anyone.

Adam Dunn, Brandon Phillips, Edwin Encarnacion are all in camp. Phillips is over the bout with the flu.

the reds will workout again tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

The surprise guy?

Dusty Baker is hopeing the Reds can count on someone no one is currently counting on.

“You’re always looking for that surprise player,” Baker said.

Josh Roenicke, the 25-year-old right-hander, could be that guy. Roenicke has a major league pedigree and a 98 mph fastball.

Roenicke the son of Gary Roenicke and the nephew of Ron, both of whom played in the majors. Josh played football and baseball at UCLA. He was an outfielder for Bruins who they evantually turned to close, so he relatively new to pitching.

Roenicke is a long shot to make the club. He only has 19 games above the Single-A level. But he was dominant last year: A combined 3-2, with 2.31 ERA and 24 saves at Single-A Sarasota and Double-A Chattanooga. He was better after the promotion: 1-1 with 0.95 ERA.

This is Roenicke’s first big league camp. The Reds took him in the 10th round of the 2006 draft.

“I’m here more for the experience,” he said. “My dad told me to make it hard for them (to send me out). It should be fun.”

My theory on Blanton

Here's my theory on what the Reds are thinking about with Joe Blanton: They want to get a look at Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Matt Maloney before they decide whether to pull the trigger on a trade. Remember, Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty haven't seen any of these guys throw.

If Baker and Jocketty like what they see, the Reds may decide they don't need Blanton. Or vice versa.

"Baker said the Reds are still looking, but that's the case around baseball.

"Everybody I know is looking for one," he said. "Maybe except Boston. But they might be looking for one with (Curt) Schilling hurt."

But there becomes a time when you go with what you've got.

"There some late (free agents to sign) out there," Baker said. "But you've got to move forward with who you have here. You don't want the guys here thinking: They're looking at somebody else. Are they dissatisfied with me? You've got get rid of that notion."

One early note:

--Left-hander Bill Bray is being held back because of a sore shoulder. He doesn't think it's serious. He over-correct in his rehab. "Now, I have to correct that," he said. "We're working out what I have to do." He is throwing but not off the mound.

Cueto, Bailey and Volquez throw today. I'll report back with what I see. my guess is I could hit any of them.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Baseball (or at least PFP) at last

Dusty Baker was walking of the field smiling after Sunday’s workout.

Why so happy?

“I just realized: Damn, I miss this.”

When you miss the first pitchers and catchers workout, you’ve got to love baseball. Workout included a lot of PFP (pitchers fielding practice), some pitchers throwing off the mound and little batting practice for the catchers.

Not exactly highlight reel stuff.

But it was baseball, under sunny skies, temperatures in the high 70s. A cure for the wintertime blues.

But Baker was pleased with the way the club looked.

“Most guys look in good shape,” Baker said. “Which I encourage. There’s not much time between when report and the games start. If you’re not ready when you get here, you’re either going to get passed up or get hurt.”

The Reds work out again tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

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.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bruce almighty

I saw Jay Bruce hit today for the first time today. Very, very impressive. The batting cages sit about 15 feet behind the right-field fence at the Tony Perez Field, where Bruce was hitting. It's a steel building, so every time a ball hits it, it makes a loud sound.

Bruce had a very noisy session of BP.

Here's another reason why I think the Reds will be leaving Sarasota: The backfields at the Ed Smith Stadium complex here were in bad shape. The Reds wanted them replaced. The Reds rent facility from the city, so they figured the landlord would pay the cost. It didn't happen. The Reds ended up spending $150,000 to replace the outfields. "It's like renting an apartment and having to replace the plumbing," a Reds official said.

Talking to Dusty

Dusty Baker did a semi-formal press conference today. A lot of the Sarasota outlets were here, as was Jayson Stark of ESPN.

So Baker was asked a lot questions about coming back to the game after the year off following getting fired in Chicago.

“(Coming back) was something I looked forward to, and something I need for myself. I had a great time at ESPN. I wasn’t quite ready to do that forever.”

Why come back? “I need to satisfy what’s inside of me – a couple championships. I can’t go home after losing.”

How did he get over the postseason disappointment in 2002 and '03: “Just by thinking, studying, being thankful for life . . . How long can you live in pain? You do that it’s not living. You just go forward big time. You can’t live in the past. Live for today.”

His Cincinnati memories: “I remember everybody in town being in red,” he said. “I remember being brainwashed before I ever got to the stadium. I’d see red in windows. Women had red dresses on. Men had red hats on. I remember knowing when you had them down they had a good chance of coming back to beat you.”

Can he bring that back? “I’d like that. I’d love that actually. Winning does that. I’d feel like I did some of my job. I saw that on the caravan – we went to parts of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. People are yearning to come back. They want something to come back to. Winning does that.”

It's here

Today is the day my good friend Flea marks on the calendar about two minutes after the last out of the World Series: Pitchers and catchers report.

It is the figurative start of spring for baseball fans. But here at Reds Central, it's hard to tell the difference between today and yesterday or any recent day. On the backfields at the Ed Smith Stadium, you have a couple of players tossing. Some others are hitting in the cages.

On reporting day, all players have to do is report.

Tomorrow afternoon's workout will offer a little bit more excitement, but it's only pitchers and catchers. Things will pick up a bit next week when full-squad workouts get going.

Two tidbits of the semi-news:

--Juan Castro reports that his elbow (he had Tommy John surgery on July 31) is a 80 percent. But he thinks he'll be at 100 percent before Opening Day.

--Ryan Freel said his knee is 100 percent. He'll do everything that he normally would do at the start of camp.

We're supposed to meet with Dusty Baker at 12:45 this afternoon. I'll post highlights.

Somehow yesterday Rick Stowe, the Reds clubhouse honcho, and Matt Belisle got on the subject of the where Belisle ranked as far as continuous tenure on the club. I was curious enough to look it up. He's fifth. It goes Ken Griffey Jr,, Adam Dunn, Ryan Freel, Aaron Harang, then Belisle.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Talking with Phillips II

When you promise a guy a fortune -- as the Reds have with Brandon Phillips -- it helps if he says this:

“I wanted a contract that would keep with the Reds for a long time,” he said. “This is the one team I want to play for. I don’t want to be with nobody else.

"The Reds gave me a second chance,” he said. “They opened up the door for me. The fans welcomed me with open arms. I want to make sure I give back to them. I want to do community service. I want to give back to the community. I’m going to do many things in the city. I’m going to go to certain places and try to find me a field. I want people to know who I am. I want to bring more people to the stadium. I want to be how Barry Larkin was."

Phillips was willing to take less money to stay.

"My agent told me that. I wasn't really worried about that. I just wanted to Reds to sign me to a long-term deal. I said that from Day 1. I wanted to be with the Reds. I'm not going to say money wasn't a thing. But I just wanted it to be fair, fair to me, fair to my family."

Phillips update: Four years, $27 million

I just got off the phone with Brandon Phillips. His hapiness with getting the multiyear deal he agreed to is tempered by a rough case of the flu.

He confirmed he signed.

Update: The deal is for four years with a club option for a fifth. That keeps Phillips with the Reds at least until 2011 and probably till 2012. The deal is for $27 million.

Phillips was sick enough that he didn't want to tlak. "Man, I'm sicker than a dog," he said. "Can you call me back tomorrow?"

Phillips said he's coming to Sarasota Sunday.

"I just got back from Cincinnati," he said. "Dr. (Tim) Kremchek told me to wait until then. He gave me some (medicine."

How long's the deal?

"You'll find later today," he said.

By the way, I'm at the Ed Smith Complex. It's 72 and sunny. Sorry, had to do that. A lot of players are here. Ken Griffey Jr. is among them. Conditioning coach Matt Krause had Griffey out running bases on the Joe Morgan Field.

Also saw Aaron Harang, Kent Mercker, Bill Bray, Jay Bruce, Todd Coffey, Gary Majewski, David Ross and about five guys I don't recognize. Thirty-five guys have already showed up.

So, Jay, are you here to make the club?

"Absolutely, no doubt about it," he said. "It's my goal. I'm going to show them what I can do."

Mercker instantly becomes the funniest guy on the roster. He commented on hair cut.
"It make you look younger . . . than the pope."

Phillips deal

An announcement on a multiyear deal with Brandon Phillips will come this afternoon if all the details can be worked out. I don't have specifics. Phillips was asking for $4.5 million in arbitration.

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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Opening Day tickets

The great Opening Day lottery is over. To get indiviual Opening Day tickets this season you had to register online. The Reds notified via email those who got the tickets and those who didn't Wednesday.

The Reds aren't going to announce how many people registered online for the Opening Day tickets.

There will be one more chance to get Opening Day tickets. The Reds will announce plans to sell Power Packs in the next week or so. The Power Packs, which were 11-game packages last year, include Opening Day.

Roster turnover and over

I was cleaning out my computer bag the other day when I came across a roster from just before spring training opened in 2005 -- the spring before Wayne Krivsky took over. Only nine players from the 54 invited to camp that year remain with the club.

They are Matt Belisle, Todd Coffey, Aaron Harang, David Weathers, Edwin Encarnacion, Ryan Freel, Javier Valentin, Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. Kent Mercker was on the club as well, but he falls under the left-and-came-back category.

I'm not sure how that compares to other clubs. But this is clearly a roster Krivsky constructed.

And, if you've been watching any of the Congressional hearing, one thing is pretty clear: Either Brian McNamee or Roger Clemens is lying, and we may never know which one is.

Too little, too late for Sarasota?

The Sarastoa County Commission approved the new funding package to rebuild Ed Smith Stadium. Had they done it the first time around, I don't think the Reds would have moved forward with Goodyear.

As it is, Sarasota could become the fall back plan if things fall apart in Goodyear.

Here's a link to the local report.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Better off than a year ago?

For argument sake, let's say the Reds don't get Joe Blanton or any other veteran starter.

That would mean they'd go into the spring with the following in the mix for the rotation:

Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Matt Belisle
Homer Bailey
Jeremy Affeldt
Edinson Volquez
Johnny Cueto
Matt Maloney

Last year's lineup going into the spring was:

Kyle Lohse
Eric Milton
Kurt Saarloos
Bobby Livingston
Elizardo Ramirez
Paul Wilson

Which do you like better? This year's group has more potential and better than stuff but much less experience.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's my blog and I'll . . .

I let things get a little out of hand a few days ago with posters take shots at each other. I apologize.

But I'm now rejecting all comments that take shots at other posters. No name-calling. You can take exception to what someone posts -- just do so in civil manner and rip the post, not the poster.

We're supposed to get a new blogging system in a few weeks. When it's up and running, you'll be able to post instantly and posters will police themselves for the most part. Until then, I'll try to keep it clean.

Krivsky on Lofton

Actually, I have nothing from Wayne Krivsky on Kenny Lofton. In a stunniung upset, Krivsky would not confirm or deny the foxsports.com report that the Reds are talking to Lofton.

I'd say they probably are. Ken Rosenthal's right on on this kind of stuff.

The question is whether Lofton would come for a minor leugue deal. I doubt that he would. He made $6 million last year.

Marty and Thom Brennaman and I were talking about Lofton before Hot Stove League broadcast last week. Thom, who been around Lofton a lot, thinks he'd be a good fit. Lofton has been in the playoffs 11 of the last 13 years.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Reds sign Craig Wilson

The Reds have signed outfielder Craig Wilson to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp.

Wilson is a right-handed hitter. He can also play first.

He hit .172 with one homer and two RBI in 58 at-bats for the Braves last year. In 2006, he hit .251 with 17 homers and 49 RBI in 359 at-bats.

His best year was 2004. He hit .264 with 29 homers and 82 RBI with the Pirates. He struck out 169 times, however.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Spring preview preview

OK, I'll try again: This link gets you to the spring preview stuff. Sorry about the technical glitch in the previous post.

Mercker signed, spring TV schedule

The Reds signed left-hander Kent Mercker to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp.

Here's the Reds release (he has done something since the 1994 no-hitter):

TODAY’S NEWS: The Reds have signed to a minor league contract and invited to Major League spring training camp LHP Kent Mercker...in his 17-year Major League career Mercker has made 677 apps for the Braves, Orioles, Indians, Reds, Cardinals, Red Sox, Angels, Rockies and Cubs...in 4 seasons with the Reds (1997, 2003, 2005, 2006) he posted a 3.66era in 192 apps, including 25 starts...in 253 apps over his last 4 seasons he has posted a 2.95era...Mercker missed the 2007 season while recovering from 8/17/06 “Tommy John” surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament and to reattach the flexor tendon in his left elbow.

REDS ON TV: Reds television rightsholder FSN Ohio will broadcast 3 spring training games from Sarasota, including March 10 at Yankees (7:15 p.m .ET), March 17 vs Tigers (1:05) and March 24 vs Blue Jays (7:05)...Reds Live will premier with a 1-hour special at 1:00 p.m. on March 31...the pre-game show will air half an hour prior to each of FSN Ohio’s regular season telecasts.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Blanton update

The Reds and A's definitely have talked. But the A's are asking a lot for Joe Blanton -- probably Homer Bailey or Johnny Cueto, plus Joey Votto and a third player. I thought the A's would want Bailey badly based on his start in Oakland -- 7 innings, two hits, one run in a 4-2 win -- but then I remembered Billy Beane doesn't watch games.

The deal could happen if the A's back off the price a bit.

Options list

Here's some very important information when it comes to determining the 25-man roster:

The following players are out of options -- Bronson Arroyo, Juan Castro, Francisco Cordero, Ryan Freel, Scott Hatteberg, Jeff Keppinger, Brandon Phillips, Javier Valentin and David Weathers.

That means any of the young relievers -- Todd Coffey, Gary Majewski, Bill Bray -- could start the year in Triple-A. Veterans like Mike Stanton can refuse a minor assignments. But the Reds have a lot of flexibility.

On Blanton

This from my buddy Doc on his blog:

On good authority

The Reds and Dodgers are talking with Oakland about Joe Blanton. Blanton has won 42 games in the past 3 years, was 14-10 last year and is already signed this year, to a relatively cheap $3.8 million deal.

Ken Rosenthal is reporting the same thing. The Reds were initially turned off by Oakland's high asking price when they talked about Blanton.

Wayne Krivsky, as per usual, would not comment specifically on the Blanton. But he did not rule out a trade before camp starts.

"You're always looking to improve," he said. "That never stops. We'll improve the team any way we can."

Joey Votto is the kind of player Billy Beane loves (high on-base percentage). You'd think the A's would want Homer Bailey or Johnny Cueto as well. I think the Reds would sooner give up Bailey than Cueto at this point.

The market for pitching has dried up a bit, i.e., Kyle Lohse and Livan Hernandez are still unemployed.

"I think you'll start seeing guys sign minor league contracts," Krivsky said.

He wasn't referring to Lohse or Hernandez, of course, but lesser free agents are in a tough spot. Camps open in a week, and 20 teams have full 40-man rosters.

Easy Eddie

Eddie Encarnacion went deep with a three-run shot in the Caribbean World Series last night. That's his fourth three-run homer since the Winter League playoffs started by my count.

Someone with the Reds suggested that Encarnacion will benefit more from Dusty Baker's presence than any other player.

I'm not big on predictions. But I think Encarnacion will have a big year, and it's important to the Reds that he does to help balance the lineup. He's as good as the Reds have with runners in scoring position -- .947 OPS with runners in scoring position and a 1.197 OPS with the bases loaded.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Wayne Krivsky happened to be touring Dr. Tim Kremchek's facility when right-hander Scott Williamson was throwing. So are the Reds interested?

"He looked good," Krivsky said.

He left it at that.

Wiliamson has a great arm when healthy. He still lives in the area. Stayed tuned.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Projecting the 25-man

I'm sitting in the office today working on our spring training preview package. One of the things I do annually is project the 25-man roster. I went 20-for-25 in '06. The Arroyo-Pena trade cost me two spots.

Last year, I went 22-for-25. I would have gone 24-for-25 if Eric Milton and Bill Bray hadn't been on the DL. Anyway, enough with my excuses, here's this year's projection:

Starting eight
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
SS Alex Gonzalez
3B Edwin Encarnacion
RF Ken Griffey Jr.
CF Jay Bruce
LF Adam Dunn
C David Ross

OF/INF Jeff Keppinger
OF/INF Ryan Freel
OF Norris Hopper
C Javier Valentin
1B Scott Hatteberg

Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Matt Belisle
Jeremy Affeldt
Homer Bailey

Francisco Cordero
David Weathers
Jared Burton
Bill Bray
Mike Stanton
Todd Coffey
Edinson Volquez

The bold prediction is Bruce making it. I'm just guessing on Volquez-Bailey. I think if Bailey gets the nod as far as the rotation, Volquez will make it was a reliever because his arm is that good. I don't think Coffey's spot is secure. And I'm also guessing that Juan Castro starts the year on the DL.

What do you think?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Prospects list

Anonymous, 3:21 asked for the list of the 11 prospects rated higher than the Jared Burton by Baseball America. I'll go you 18 better and give you the whole list:

1. OF Jay Bruce: BA's four experts had him 1 or 2. Joba Chamberlain was ahead of him on one list; Evan Longoria on another.
2. RHP Homer Bailey: He was No. 1 the three previous years.
3. 1B Joey Votto: Had to love what he did in September.
4. RHP Johnny Cueto: My guess is he makes to the bigs early this year.
5. OF Drew Stubbs: Speed, power and defense are above average, but 142 Ks in 497 at-bats.
6. C Devin Mesoraco: Rough first year because of thumb injuries.
7. SS Todd Frazier: At 6-3, 215 he may end up at third.
8. 3B Juan Francisco: Reminds people of Eddie Encarnacion.
9. RHP Josh Roenicke: 10th-round pick in 2006. Throws as hard (98) as anyone the Reds have.
10. LHP Matt Maloney: A guy I really want to see throw this spring.
11. RHP Kyle Lotzkar: Supplemental pick in '07. Canadian, throws 96.
12. Jared Burton
13. SS Chris Valaika: Slipped to .253 at Sarasota after hitting .307 at Dayton.
4. SS Neftali Soto: Third-rounder in 2007.
15. LHP Pedro Viola: Signed late at 22. 95 Ks in 84 innings last year.
16. RHP Sean Watson: Second-rounder in 2006. Struggled at Sarasota after dominating at Dayton.
17. C Craig Tatum: Third-rounder in 2004. Got first invite to big leauge camp.
18. SS Zack Cozart: Second-rounder last year, outof Mississippi. BA called him the best defensive shortstop in the college.
19. SS Paul Janish: I've seen him in spring. Could play in the bigs defensively right now.
20. RHP Carlos Fisher: Started great last year. Faded in the second half.
21. LHP Travis Wood: 10-5 in '06. Limited to 12 starts by shoulder trouble last year.
22. 1B/3B Adam Rosales: 13 homers in 255 ABs at AA last year.
23. 3B Brandon Waring: Seventh-rounder last year. Led Pioneer League with 20 homers.
24. RHP Sam LeCure: Fourth-rounder in 2005.
25. SS Jose Castro: Obtained in the Jeff Conine trade.
26. LPH Tyler Pelland: Struck out 27 and walked seven in 23 innings at Louisville. Added to the 40-man.
27. OF Chris Dickerson: Best athlete in the system. But has .255 career average.
28. OF Danny Dorn: 32nd round pick in '06.
29. 2B/SS Justin Turner: Ca State-Fullerton teammate of Dorn's.
30. RHP Sergio Valenzuela: The 23-year-old the Reds took in the Rule 5.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I'm back

Just got back in town. Trip was great, except for the unplanned night in Atlanta. As you may have heard, the West has gotten a lot a snow. Great for skiing. Bad for traveling. Missed a connection . . . but that's not why you called. Let's talk some Reds.

While I was gone, they took a giant step toward Arizona. As I wrote before I left, I can't blame them. Goodyear is being proactive. Sarasota is dragging its political feet. If all things were close to equal, the Reds would stay in Florida. But it's not even close. When you can get a much better facility for $9 million less, it's hard to turn down. But it's not completely over -- the Reds still have to get a deal with Goodyear. As for the other bits of news while I was gone:

--I think the Matt Belisle deal works for both sides. Arbitration is never a good thing for a player's psyche. But Belisle needs to show consistency before the Reds lock him up for more than a year. The one-year deal should be great motivation.

--Signing Paul Bako is a low-risk deal that could pay off. Beyond the David Ross and Javier Valentin, the Reds have no catchers with much big league time. Bako has a reputation of being good with pitchers and good in the clubhouse, i.e, a nice insurance policy if one of top two gets hurt.

--I got my Baseball America Prospect Handbook in the mail. If the Reds actually have 11 prospects better than Jared Burton, the minor league system is in better shape than I thought. BA rates the Reds' No. 3 overall in baseball, behind Tampa Bay and Boston. That's up from 12 last year and 30th (last) in 2006.

And, Jack in Blue Ash, 21 of the players currently on the 40-man arrived on the Wayne Krivsky's watch: Jeremy Affledt, Bronson Arroyo, Bill Bray, Burton, Francisco Cordero, Jon Coutlangus, Bobby Livingston, Gary Majewski, Marcus McBeth, Alexander Smit, Mike Stanton, Daryl Thompson, Sergio Valenzuela, Edinson Volquez, Ross, Juan Castro, Alex Gonzalez, Scott Hatteberg, Jeff Keppinger, Brandon Phillips and Drew Anderson.

If something you attempt to post gets rejected, e-mail me (jfay@enquirer.com) and I'll tell you why.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Reds sign Sauerbeck, Bako

The Reds have signed lefty Scott Sauerbeck and catcher Paul Bako to a minor league deals with invites to big league camp.

And Steamboat has 15 inches of light powder.


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