January 2011

Isringhausen update

Reliever Jason Isringhausen had a throwing session for the Reds on Monday, but it remains to be seen if the club will sign the right-hander. Isringhausen threw for pitching coach Bryan Price in Arizona. He is seeking a Minor League contract with the club and an invite to Spring Training.

“[Price] said he threw good,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “It went kind of like it did last year. We’re not sure if we will pursue it or not. We’ll discuss it in the next few days. We have quite a bit of right-handed pitching.”

Bryan Price called back and said this about Isringhausen, who threw 30-35 pitches.

“He threw the ball fine, well enough to feel optimistic that with a Spring Training to build his arm strength, he could get back to being productive again,” Price said. “That is if he can stay healthy, which is a top concern for anybody coming off an arm injury.”

Here is the story


Volquez signs, avoids arbitration

The Reds announced that RHP Edinson Volquez has signed a one-year contract to avoid arbitration. Terms were not revealed but when numbers were exchanged, Volquez’s side submitted for $2 million while the club countered with $1.3. The midpoint was $1.6 million.

Volquez returned from Tommy John surgery rehab after the All-Star break and was 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 62 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old walked 35 and struck out 67 batters and was also charged with four runs on four hits and was pulled after 1 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Phillies.

“We’ll see if they’re up for doing more later,” GM Walt Jocketty told me on Sunday from the Reds Caravan stop in Lexington. “We tried to do a multi-year deal. They just wanted to concentrate on the one year now. [The agent] had a few cases and wanted to get the arbitration thing out of the way.”

Non-roster invites to Goodyear

This is a bit delayed, I apologize, but I was off the grid at a Reds Caravan stop in Vevay, Indiana and had no internet access. I will have a story about that stop later today on Reds.com.

But here is the list of Reds non-roster invites to Spring Training:

RHP Scott Carroll, RHP Jerry Gil, LHP Jeremy Horst, LHP Donnie Joseph, RHP Matt Klinker, RHP Justin Lehr, RHP Chad Reineke, LHP Dontrelle Willis, C Chris Denove, C Devin Mesoraco, C Corky Miller, OF Danny Dorn, OF Jeremy Hermida and OF Dave Sappelt.

There are no stunners on this list. The Reds signed Willis and Hermida a while back and the other guys were in the organization already.

*Lehr had Tommy John surgery and missed most of last season.

*Gil was previously in Reds camp a few years ago as an infielder. He converted to pitching a couple of seasons back and this will be his first time in big league camp as a pitcher.

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Congratulations Gene Bennett

The Reds announced today that longtime front office man Gene Bennett retired. For most Reds fans, his name won’t be immediately recognizable but you’ll know many of the people he’s responsible for signing to the team. He’s been part of the Reds organization for 58 years!

I will write that part again….58 years. Wow.

Gene has long been one of my favorite people to know since I’ve started covering the Reds. He’s always been kind and will come up and talk. He knows the game inside out and I’ve always enjoyed running into him at Spring Training and chatting with him near the practice fields.

Here is a portion of the Reds’ press release:

 He will be honored tonight during the Reds Caravan stop at Fannin Motors in Ashland, Kentucky and on Portsmouth Day in ceremonies prior to the Sunday, April 17 afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

            “Gene has been an important part of the Reds’ family for almost 60 years,” said Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty. “He leaves a legacy not only here but also in baseball’s scouting fraternity. He made countless contributions to the success of our proud franchise.”

            Bennett, 82, has been a senior special assistant to the general manager since October 1992. After signing as a player in 1952, he began scouting in 1958 and was promoted to scouting supervisor in 1975. His notable signings include Reds Hall of Famers Don Gullett, Barry Larkin and Chris Sabo along with Jeff Russell, Charlie Leibrandt and Paul O’Neill.

            Larkin, a 12-time All-Star and the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1995, said, “Gene not only is a great scout, as anyone in baseball will tell you, but he also is such a wonderful person. He will be missed by everyone in the game.”

Perfect playing conditions!

I’m at Great American Ball Park for the Johnny Cueto press conference. Here is a view from the press box and a reminder that Opening Day is a mere 64 days away. Pitchers and catchers, of course, report to a much warmer Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 16.

GABP 012611.JPG

Cueto signs four-year deal

The Reds finalized their four-year contract with starting pitcher Johnny Cueto on Wednesday after the right-hander passed his physical. The deal comes with a club option for the 2015 season

Terms were not immediately revealed but it was reported last week that the two sides agreed to terms on a $27 million deal to avoid arbitration.

There is a press conference at 5 p.m. .

Cueto, 24, was to be arbitration eligible for the first time, which means the contract all three of his arbitration years and one year of free agent eligibility.

In arbitration numbers exchanged last week, Cueto was seeking $3.9 million for the 2011 season while the club countered with a $3 million offer. The right-hander made $445,000 in 2010.


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Renteria contract breakdown

Greetings after a week away on “Staycation.”

Although off, I got to enjoy all the trappings of last week’s snow (or white death) in Cincinnati. The school closings, the roads, the frigid temperatures, etc.

A flight to Arizona is just around the corner though.

Still waiting on the Johnny Cueto contract situation to be resolved after he appeared to agree to terms on a four-year, $27 million deal as reported by espndeportes.com. I’m also going to check in and see what’s up with Edinson Volquez.

It’s amazing that for all the heat the Reds had taken from fans for standing pat much of the off-season, they still allocated $151 million on four players in Bronson Arroyo, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Cueto. And they still could add even more with Volquez.

Add in the salaries spent on Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Cairo, Edgar Renteria and Fred Lewis and the Reds weren’t all that idle.

I have a salary breakdown that might interest you on Renteria, realizing it’s kind of late but I got it while I was out…

Base salary: $2.1 million with $600,000 deferred without interest.

Bonus opportunity:

$100,000 for 300 plate appearances
$100,000 for 350 plate appearances
$125,000 for 400 plate appearances
$150,000 for 500 plate appearances
$250,000 for 550 plate appearances
$25,000 for All-Star game
$50,000 for Gold Glove
$50,000 for Silver Slugger
$50,000 for LCS MVP
$100,000 for World Series MVP

$20,000 to be donated to the Reds Community Fund.

Basically, Renteria is being paid handsomely, but relatively modestly, to back up for Paul Janish. However, if he’s needed to step up and play regularly, he knows he will be compensated accordingly. 

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Votto agrees to three-year deal

This just in — the Reds and Joey Votto have agreed to terms Sunday on a three-year, $38 million contract with 1B Joey Votto, baseball sources told MLB.com. This is pending a physical, which is scheduled for Monday.

This would cover all three of Votto’s arbitration years and allow him to reach free agency after 2013.

The Reds have yet to make any announcements. A message was left with GM Walt Jocketty.

While the Reds have avoided making big splashes to bring in players from the outside, this deal would be another big expenditure to retain talent. In December, both Bronson Arroyo (3 yrs/$35 mil) and Jay Bruce (6 yrs/$51 mil) received multi-year contracts.

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Sean Casey on Reds TV?

During a Q&A interview by the blog Red Reporter with former Reds 1B and current MLB Network analyst Sean Casey, “The Mayor” revealed he would be doing 15 games on TV for Fox Sports Ohio this season.

UAaP2DYe.jpgSeeking specifics, I called Fox Sports Ohio today but they aren’t ready to formally reveal plans for Casey or their other talent. Obviously, I would expect Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh to be back in the fold but as many of you know, there has been a smorgasbord of different people that also do games as well in recent seasons.

“We haven’t made any talent decisions, as far as announcing anything,” said Kate Buddenhagen, the communications manager for Fox Sports Ohio. “I would hope in the coming weeks to reveal our lineup.”

Not that you would need it, but here is Casey’s bio on the MLB Network web site. He was obviously one of the most popular Reds players in recent years when he played in Cincinnati from 1998-2005. I just missed getting the chance to cover him since he was traded to the Pirates in Dec. 2005, during my very first week on the Reds beat. But I’ve met him a few times since and (no big surprise), he’s always been incredibly nice to talk to.

It will be cool to see Casey around the ballpark doing games on TV. I’ve enjoyed his work on MLB Network and I can imagine he’d do a good job as a color analyst on FS Ohio.

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Lewis, Renteria signed

A busy January continued for the Reds Monday as they checked off another item off of the wish list by signing Fred Lewis to a one-year big league contract worth $900,000, plus incentives.

Cincinnati was in search of a left-handed hitting outfielder for the bench and a potential leadoff hitter and the club gets both with the 30-year-old Lewis.

The club also announced the official signing of SS Edgar Renteria. Both players completed their physicals today. Renteria will earn $2.1 million in base salary with $900,000 in incentives based on plate appearances.

And with that, it appears the Reds are done making transactions. Their 40-man roster is now full.

“I think I’m done,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “These are a couple of pieces we felt we needed.”

Of course, the Reds could sign players to Minor League deals. But it seems like the Reds have filled the holes they identified when winter started.

I just filed my story, which can be found on MLB.com/Reds.com, and it will have more quotes from Jocketty and others in an updated version. Ultimately, the club went with Lewis over Scott Podsednik for a couple of reasons.

“We felt we had more upside with Lewis, both with his age and in having control over him for a longer period of time,” Jocketty said. “We liked his all-around game.”


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