February 2011

Getting ready for Goodyear

So Spring Training is right around the corner and I have a seven-week stay at Arizona staring me in the face. And I’ve packed….absolutely nothing.

I’ve always been good at getting it done the last minute. I’ll be headed out to Goodyear over the weekend and begin reporting next week from the Reds complex. While I stink at packing, I am already starting to compile story ideas for camp — and I certainly welcome your suggestions. Feel free to comment below and add your thoughts about what you might want to see reported from Goodyear.

But the story I expect you’ll read most about from me is the situation with the rotation. The battle for the last two spots should be super competitive. You have Homer Bailey, Travis Wood and Mike Leake leading the battle and Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney should get some chances too.

*Complicating the issue is that Bailey is out of options. The club can’t send him down. If he doesn’t make the rotation, the only avenues the Reds really have is to put Bailey in the bullpen or try to trade him. He is only 24 and seems to be on the brink of turning the corner. Bailey can erase any thoughts of a tough decision by having a great spring. It would take all the debate away.

*I know it was suggested out there recently that Leake or Wood could wind up in the bullpen if they fail to make the rotation. The notion of Leake and Wood — two of the organization’s top pitching prospects  — being the 12th pitcher on the staff and a long man in the bullpen seems just silly to me. You don’t waste their long term development by making them pitch mop-up games or emergency long relief. Leake can hit well, sure, but his bat isn’t his future. His arm is and he’ll need innings. (Micah Owings’ bat didn’t make much of a difference last season as he went 3-for-14 with one homer when he was the long guy.) If one or both of these guys don’t make the rotation, then they should be starting at Triple-A Louisville.

*Over at shortstop, Paul Janish has the role as the regular coming in but he knows he should still view it as it being his job to lose. Janish needs to have a good camp to cement his place and I predict that he will. He knows what is at stake and Edgar Renteria will be more than happy to take those at-bats.

*The last spots for the bench should be a tight battle. You have Chris Heisey, Juan Francisco, Jeremy Hermida among others. If the right-handed hitting Heisey has a good camp, his outfield versatility should get him a roster spot. But they will need a left-handed hitter to join Fred Lewis. If Lewis is starting in left field, there are no lefties on the bench. Hermida would seem to fit that Laynce Nix role well as a veteran but Francisco would be an enticing option. However, his development isn’t helped either by sitting on a bench and pinch-hitting.

Some other news and notes:

*The Reds truck arrived in Goodyear today on schedule.

*Fox Sports Ohio announced it was televising four Reds Cactus League games. Here is the schedule:

Monday   3/7 3pm EST vs. Milwaukee 
Saturday 3/12 4pm EST @ Chicago Cubs in Las Vegas 
Thursday 3/17 4pm EST vs. Cleveland 
Thursday 3/24 4pm EST vs. Texas 

Barring any other developments in the meantime, I will be live from Goodyear next week.

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Michael Young? Forget it

I got a Twitter question the other day asking if there was any chance that unhappy Rangers star Michael Young could be acquired in a trade by the Reds. The reader felt he could be a long term shortstop solution in Cincinnati. Young demanded a trade from Texas recently.

I replied that there was zero chance Young would come to these parts. Below, I shall elaborate.

Reason 1: Young makes $16 million in each of the next three seasons of his contract.

Reason 2: He’s 34. Not exactly long term solution.

Reason 3: Hasn’t played shortstop in several years. Young moved to 3B to make room for Elvis Andrus. Now he’s being relocated to DH.

Reason 4: The organizational pipeline already has some promising shortstops. Behind Paul Janish are Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton.

Reason 5: According to the reporting of my MLB.com colleague in Texas, T.R. Sullivan, these are the eight teams Young has approved being dealt to in his limited no-trade provision: Yankees, Twins, Cardinals, Astros, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Angels

Maybe I should have said the chances of Young coming to Cincinnati were less than zero?

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Edmonds back, but with St. Louis

So, Jim Edmonds is not retiring after all. On Friday, it was announced that Edmonds signed a Minor League contract with his former team, the Cardinals. He will be in the St. Louis camp as a non-roster invite.

MLB.com’s Cardinals beat writer Matthew Leach has the story here

I remember talking to Edmonds during the waning days of the regular season and the postseason. With a very sore Achilles tendon, being barely able to walk and generally frustrated (and 40 years old), he definitely appeared to be a man headed for retirement.

But the pangs of baseball anticipation just before Spring Training can do a funny thing to a man. So Edmonds is headed back for another try at St. Louis, where he starred from 2000-07.

After his August trade to the Reds from the Brewers for Chris Dickerson, Edmonds appeared in only 13 games and batted .207 with three homers. On one of the homers, at Milwaukee on Sept. 21, he felt the Achilles pop and he could barely make it around the bases.

Edmonds was still well-liked during his short stay in Cincinnati and the younger outfielders especially seemed to benefit from his presence.

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T-minus two weeks, and counting

In exactly two weeks on Feb. 16, Reds pitchers and catchers have their report date to Spring Training and Goodyear, Ariz. They begin working out that same day. In many ways, this off-season flew by quickly. (Maybe not to you, however, but definitely to me).

Most of the time in the current era, players do not wait until the report dates to get started. Virtually all have been working out on their own at home since November or December and some pitchers start a throwing program around the holidays. Many of them will be early arrivals to the spring complex.

I was told that Justin Lehr and Chad Reineke are already on site throwing bullpen sessions. Dontrelle Willis has been working much of the winter with pitching coach Bryan Price near their homes in Scottsdale but moved over to Goodyear last week for drills and to get comfortable in the Reds bullpens.

Matt Maloney, Daniel Ray Herrera, Sam LeCure and Jared Burton are planning on arriving this week. Several more could be on the ground by next week. Price said he would be at the camp to work with the pitchers.

“I think it’s good to be there to provide some of the essentials of coaching,” Price said. “It’d be hard for me to be sitting at home knowing guys are there working out five days a week.”

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