October 2011

Reds pickup Phillips option, decline Cordero

The Reds exercised Brandon Phillips’ $12 million option, declined Francisco Cordero’s $12 million option ($1 million buyout) and outrighted RHPs Jared Burton and Daryl Thompson. LHP Matt Maloney was claimed off of waivers by the Twins. OF Denis Phipps’ contract was selected so he is now on the 40-man roster.

The door remains open for Cordero to return.

“We’ll still continue to both players about long term deals,” said Reds general manager Walt Jocketty about Phillips and Cordero. “We didn’t want to pick up Cordero for the amount of money it would be.”

Also on Cordero:

“We told them he should go out and check the market and see,” Jocketty said. “We can talk again.”

I will have more later on Reds.com and MLB.com

Maloney to Twins

The Reds have not issued any official proclamation but LHP Matt Maloney has revealed via Twitter that he is on a new team. The Twins have acquired Maloney, although I don’t know if it was a trade or waiver pickup, etc.

From Maloney: “thanks for everything reds…..but i am now a Minnesota Twin!!! looking forward to a great new opportunity!!”

After making the Reds bullpen out of Spring Training, Maloney was 0-3 with a 9.16 ERA in eight games, including two starts, over multiple stints this season in the big leagues. He also missed close to three months with a broken rib, which was possibly brought on from sneezing. He was 7-1 with a 2.99 ERA in 14 games for Triple-A Louisville. He was Louisville’s all-time leader in wins (39), starts (86), strikeouts (435) and innings pitched (516 1/3).

More later…

LaRussa retiring

Well, this is a stunner. In a press conference this morning, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa announced he was retiring. LaRussa, obviously, is going out in grand style after winning an improbable World Series title on Friday.

Love him, hate him or indifferent…there is no disputing that LaRussa is headed to the Hall of Fame. Yes he was infuriating at times, and was he ever big on the gamesmanship. And of course, there was Game 5 of the Series last week. But he was a winner, and that’s ultimately what counts the most in the end.

The Reds and Cardinals rivalry has jumped several notches in recent years, in no small part because of LaRussa and his longtime personal rivalry with Reds manager Dusty Baker. There have also been numerous gripes in recent years and disputes — the rain delay thing from April 22 in STL comes to mind this season.

With LaRussa no longer in the picture, what do you think it does for the Reds-Cardinals rivalry? Does their having Carpenter and Molina around still make it that team that gets your dander up?

(UPDATE) And as a reader quickly pointed out, what does mean for the Cardinals’ chances of retaining Albert Pujols?

Discuss.

Foster, Marty reflect on 1975 Series

For your own baseball loving sake, I hope you did not miss Game 6 of the World Series last night. Even though I was not there, it was certainly one of the most incredible and exciting games I’ve ever watched. Sure it was ugly at times and of course, sloppy with all the errors…but the back and forth of the late innings was so very compelling. That the Rangers twice had the Cardinals down to their last strike and couldn’t finish?? Wow.

The 2011 Rangers now must gather themselves to try and take Game 7 from the Cardinals, a situation not too unlike what the 1975 Reds went through. In a nearly mythical Game 6, the Red Sox scored three in the bottom of the 8th to tie it, then scored in bottom of 12th to win 7-6 on Carlton Fisk’s epic home run to force a Game 7. We know how that turned out.

I talked to Reds great George Foster for a couple of minutes on Friday about what it was like for the 1975 Reds after losing and going to Game 7.

“I wasn’t heartbroken,” Foster said. “We lost Game 6 but we still had confidence we would win Game 7, even though we were on the road. We had confidence. We weren’t down. In a sense, we wanted to get Game 6 over with because it felt like it would never end. There was another day for us but the Red Sox had to win. We had the confidence that we would come back.

“Bill Lee was pitching good that day (in Game 7). We kept it as close as we could, knowing that one hit or one play could dictate the outcome of the game.”

Foster said he’s watched all of the games during this year’s World Series.

“I will be watching tonight,” he noted. “I give the edge to the Cardinals. When they get momentum, it’s tough to stop.”

I also talked to Reds HOF radio voice Marty Brennaman, who was working for NBC in the 1975 World Series.

“Obviously, the clubhouse was a little on the somber side,” Brennaman said. “They had a three-run lead in the seventh and they almost never blew a lead with that bullpen. It was money in the bank. Then Carbo hit a three-run homer off Eastwick to tie it and Fisk won it.

“The players were very confident they would win Game 7 but Sparky was not. The Reds had the game’s first so-called “super scout” named Ray Shore. He was an advanced scout, he was the guy and larger than life. He filed reports on all of the World Series games the Reds played during the 70s. He and Sparky stayed up until 5 am talking and Sparky was convinced they would lose. He was scared to death after the way they lost Game 6.

“But the players were unflappable. You don’t hoot and holler that, especially with the way they lost, but they were sure they would win the seventh game.”

Marty remembered that no one thought the Red Sox would come back when they were trailing late in Game 6. 

“They had already taken the vote in the seventh for the series MVP among the media,” Brennaman said. “That’s how confident everyone was that it was over. Rawly Eastwick had already won it. Then Carbo hit the homer to tie the game up.”

“NBC had already sent me down in the seventh inning to go into the visitor’s clubhouse to get ready for the celebration. I watched on a small black and white TV sitting on a locker stool. I never went back upstairs. I saw it like everyone else on TV.

“One thing that was different between ’75 and the game last night was the defense. In ’75 it was superb, a lot of big plays in the game. Evans took a homer away from Morgan with a leaping catch in right field. Foster caught a foul ball up against the wall in left field that got Denny Doyle out. Last night looked like a couple of Little League teams were playing.”

 

Phillips a TSN All-Star

The Sporting News revealed its 2011 All-Star team, as voted on by 55 executives from MLB front offices. Only one Reds player is on the list in 2B Brandon Phillips. The last Reds player to represent was last year with 1B Joey Votto.

Phillips batted .300 with 18 home runs and 82 RBIs this season and led NL second basemen in hitting, slugging, on-base percentage, runs, hits, doubles and was second in RBIs.

Here is the full list:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

C Alex Avila, Tigers
1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees
3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
OF Curtis Granderson, Yankees
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox
SP Justin Verlander, Tigers
RP Mariano Rivera, Yankees

NATIONAL LEAGUE

C Brian McCann, Braves
1B Prince Fielder, Brewers
2B Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers
OF Ryan Braun, Brewers
OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
RP Craig Kimbrel, Braves

Griffey gets award

A press release from Major League Baseball:

Selig announced that Ken Griffey Jr. will be honored with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. The presentation will be made at a press conference tonight prior to Game Four of the World Series.
This will mark only the 12th time ever that Major League Baseball has bestowed the Award, which was created in 1998 to recognize achievements and contributions of historical significance. Griffey is the first recipient of the Award since 2007, when Rachel Robinson was honored for continuing the legacy of her late husband, Jackie Robinson, and for her service to Major League Baseball.
Griffey was a 13-time All-Star in his 22-year Major League career, playing for the Seattle Mariners (1989-1999, 2009-2010), the Cincinnati Reds (2000-2008) and the Chicago White Sox (2008). “The Kid,” who guided the Mariners to their first two Postseason berths in franchise history in 1995 and 1997, was the youngest member of Major League Baseball’s All-Century Team, which was unveiled in 1999. With 630 career home runs, the unanimous 1997 American League Most Valuable Player (.304, 56 HR, 147 RBI, 125 R) currently ranks fifth on the all-time list. One of the most popular players of his generation, the 10-time Gold Glove-winning center fielder concluded his career in 2010 with 50,044,176 All-Star votes from fans, the most of any player in the history of Major League Baseball, and his single-season record for most All-Star votes stood from 1994 until 2011. In 2007, Commissioner Selig expanded Griffey’s idea to wear number 42 on Jackie Robinson Day to allow on-field personnel throughout Major League Baseball to wear Jackie’s number as part of the festivities, a tradition that has continued annually since then.
Commissioner Selig said: “Ken Griffey Jr. was a gifted all-around player with a perfect swing, a brilliant glove and a childlike joy for the game. From the time he was just 19, Ken represented Major League Baseball with excellence and grace, and he was one of our sport’s greatest ambassadors not only in Seattle and Cincinnati, but also around the world. I am most appreciative for all of Ken’s contributions to our national pastime.”
The trophy, which stands 12 inches tall, has a sterling silver base with a baseball mounted at the top. The words “Commissioner’s Historic Achievement” are engraved around the base of the trophy with the Major League Baseball silhouetted batter logo above the type.

Chapman to AFL

The Reds revealed on Thursday that LHP Aroldis Chapman would begin his transition to starting by working games in the Arizona Fall League on Oct. 24, 27 and 31. He will start the games and work a couple of innings as he stretches himself out.

“It’s preparation before he goes to winter ball,” said Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who was watching his organization’s instructional league game on Thursday.

I also asked Jocketty on the progress of talks with RHP Francisco Cordero’s agent. It’s been awfully quiet.

“We haven’t talked since I talked with you the last time,” Jocketty told me. When asked if that meant there was a problem in the negotiations, he replied “no.”

There is also nothing new in the talks with Brandon Phillips.

 

Checking in with Alonso

I did a short story today on Yonder Alonso pulling for close friend and Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay in the World Series against the Rangers.

When I reached Alonso on the phone, he was home in Miami and preparing to head to a weightlifting workout.

“I don’t stop,” Alonso said. “I don’t take any time off.”

As for the bone bruise in his right ankle that prematurely shelved Alonso in September, he hasn’t experienced any lingering problems. But he also hasn’t done a ton to test it. He has yet to resume hitting.

“It’s been good,” Alonso said. “I’m trying to lay off of it.”

 

Who do you like?

The Cardinals-Rangers World Series isn’t exactly what was predicted during Spring Training, or even in September, was it?

That St. Louis made it after being 10 1/2 games out of the Wild Card race in late August and clinched a playoff berth on the final day of the season makes all the more remarkable. It also makes one wonder what the Reds could have done had they figured some things out in late July/early August.

Neither the Texas or St. Louis rotations are pitching well in the postseason, so it should be a very interesting series with lots and lots of scoring.

I like the Rangers in six games.

What do you think?

 

Jocketty: Not dealing Votto

There has been growing speculation that the Reds should or would entertain trade offers for All-Star first baseman and 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto.

Reds GM Walt Jocketty emphaticaly denied he would listen to offers. The Reds have no plans to trade Votto or entertain an offer to move him.

“We haven’t talked about it. I wish that people would stop writing it,” Jocketty said Monday. “Why would we trade one of the best players in the game? We’re trying to win.”

Votto signed a three-year, $38 million contract last winter that had him earning $5.5 million in 2011 and to earn $9.5 million in 2012 and $17 million in 2013 before he could become a free agent.

Although Cincinnati had a payroll of around $80 million this season and only expect to make a modest jump next season, Jocketty said the team had budgeted for the salary increase when the deal was done.

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