November 2011

Hernandez agrees with Rockies

Not that it’s a surprise that catcher Ramon Hernandez won’t be returning to the Reds, but now his departure appears imminent. Multiple reports have the Rockies agreeing to terms with Hernandez on a two-year contract. Fox Sports has reported the contract to be worth $6.5 million, which isn’t a bad haul at all for the 35-year-old Hernandez at this stage of his career.

Since Hernandez was a Type B free agent, the Reds will receive a supplemental round Draft pick as compensation.

Of course, that should make it clear that Ryan Hanigan and top prospect Devin Mesoraco is the Reds catching tandem for 2012. There was a very minimal report a couple of weeks ago that the Angels had some interest in Hanigan, but Anaheim tonight acquired catcher Chris Ianetta from Colorado, which cleared the spot for the Rockies to sign Hernandez.

Once Mesoraco showed he was ready for the big leagues, the writing was on the wall for Hernandez. He had a nice three-season run for the Reds and batted .280 with 24 homers and 121 RBIs in 269 games. He was also a good veteran presence in the clubhouse. The Hernandez-Hanigan duo provided one of the best offensive catching combos in the NL during the 2010 playoff run.

Browning to Dayton

Here is some more Minor League news for you…the Reds’ Class A Dayton club announced its coaching staff Wednesday morning.

Delino DeShields is back for a second year as manager. Alex Pelaez is also back for a second year as the hitting coach.

And Reds great Tom Browning is the new pitching coach.

For Browning, this will be his sixth season as a pitching coach in the Reds organization. He was pitching coach with the Arizona League Reds in Goodyear the last two seasons.

**And to tie up a loose end not addressed from Tuesday, former Triple-A Louisville hitting coach Adrian “Smokey” Garrett is retiring after nine seasons in the Reds organization and 27 years of coaching. Garrett will remain with the organization to help on a part-time basis.

Here is more information from the Dayton Dragons press release about DeShields and Browning:

DeShields led the Dragons to a record of 83-57 and a second half Eastern Division title in 2011.  The Dragons improved dramatically over the course of the season, finishing the first half at 35-35 before posting a 48-32 record in the second half.  Their second half mark was the best in a half in Dragons history and the top second half record in 2011 in all of Minor League Baseball among teams playing a split-season format.  DeShields will enter his fourth season in the Reds organization in 2012.  He served as manager of the Billings Mustangs in 2010 and was the hitting coach at Billings in 2009.

Browning is a legendary name in Reds history.  Best known for firing a perfect game vs. the Dodgers on September 16, 1988, Browning spent 12 years in the major leagues from 1984-‘95, with 300 of his 302 career appearances coming with the Reds.  His best season came in 1985 when he posted a record of 20-9 to become the first rookie in 31 years to win 20 games.  In 1988, Browning went 18-5 for the Reds, finishing second in the National League in winning percentage.  He was the starting and winning pitcher for the Reds in game three of the 1990 World Series against the Oakland A’s, helping the Reds to a four-game sweep.  That same post-season, he had also started and won game two of the N.L. Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Browning represented the Reds in the 1991 all-star game.  His 298 starts with the Reds are the most for any Cincinnati pitcher over the last 70 years and fourth most in club history.  He was elected to the Reds hall-of-fame in 2006.

Progress in Phillips talks?

Reds 2B Brandon Phillips hinted Tuesday night that he and the club are closer to a long-term contract extension.

“Just talked to my agent @Baseball_ACES and it feels good to know that we’re moving in the right direction to make me a #Red4Life,” Phillips posted on his Twitter feed, @datdudeBP

On October 31, the Reds exercised Phillips’ $12 million option for 2012, but he has long maintained a desire to sign long term this year. He can become a free agent for the first time after next season.

A message for comment was left for Reds general manager Walt Jocketty. As recently as Nov. 17 following the General Managers Meetings, Jocketty told MLB.com that there had been progress in talks with Phillips’ agents, but that the two sides were nowhere close to a deal.

UPDATE: I just got off of the phone with Jocketty and there is not a deal coming soon.

“I think it’s still a ways to go,” Jocketty said. “We’re still hopeful to get something done. We’re glad he feels that way.”

Bell to manage Louisville

In the Reds Minor Leagues, there have been some changes revealed today. David Bell will be the new manager at Triple-A Louisville. Bell had been the manager at Double-A Carolina since 2009.

Former Louisville manager Rick Sweet is switching to become the Reds’ Minor League catching coordinator. Sweet had managed at Louisville since 2004.

Ted Power remains Louisville’s pitching coach and is back for a seventh season. Ryan Jackson is moving up to become the new hitting coach but is entering his sixth season with the organization. He was the hitting coach with Bell in Carolina the past three seasons.

Here is more about Bell from the Louisville press release:

The 2009 season marked his first as a manager or coach at the professional level and this will be his first season at the Triple-A level. Bell played parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues with the Indians, Cardinals, Mariners, Giants, Phillies and Brewers. A member of one of Major League Baseball’s three-generation families, Bell is the son of former third baseman, Buddy, and the grandson of former Reds great, Gus. He played for the Louisville Redbirds from 1995 to 1997 and is just one of four players in Louisville franchise history to hit for the cycle.

I spoke with player development director Bill Bavasi about the moves and will have a story on Reds.com shortly.

New Reds HOF members

Sean Casey, Dan Driessen and John Reilly are now the newest members of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. All were first basemen.

Casey was selected by the fans through the modern player ballot, while Driessen and Reilly were elected by the Veterans Committee, which is comprised of Reds Hall of Famers, media members, historians and Hall of Fame executives.

Casey played for the Reds from 1998-2005. Driessen was a member of the Big Red Machine and spent 12 seasons in Cincinnati from 1973-1984. Reilly was a 19th century player from 1883-1891.

Formal induction into the Reds Hall of Fame for the trio will be June 22-24, which includes a weekend of activities including an on-field ceremony at Great American Ball Park and a Hall of Fame induction gala.

Cordero now Type B free agent

A release from Major League Baseball:

As a result of the collective bargaining process, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association have agreed to modify free agent draft pick compensation for a select group of Type A free agents. Only the following Players are affected by this agreement.

Five Type A Players will be treated as Type B players. The clubs will not have to offer arbitration to the new Type B players to receive compensation. Those players are:

• Matt Capps
• Francisco Cordero
• Octavio Dotel
• Ramon Hernandez
• Darren Oliver

****

This could increase the chances that both Cordero and Hernandez do not return to the Reds. They no longer have to offer arbitration to get compensation with the possiblity that the player accepts. That is a big benefit to the Reds. And clubs that might want to sign Cordero or Hernandez no longer have to relinquish a first-round pick as compensation, which might make them more attractive to sign.

Bray on the new CBA

As you may have heard, Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed to a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that will expire after the 2016 season.

Reliever Bill Bray is the Reds players union representative. I will have a more elaborate story on Reds.com/MLB.com but here is a little of what Bray thought.

“I think it’s a good deal,” Bray said. “It’s nice to have things done at a convenient time with no deadline crisis negotiating. Both sides wanted a deal and engaged in good negotiating. It went over eight months and I learned a lot of things go into negotiating of this scale. I didn’t realize how much got re-negotiated. Everything that’s part of baseball is negotiable and anything is up for grabs.”

As the two sides neared an agreement, Bray said he was on conference calls every other day. He also attended meetings held in New York and Phoenix by new MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner shortly after the regular season ended.

By the time the deal is over after the 2016 season, MLB will have enjoyed 21 years of labor peace. In light of what happened with the NFL this past summer and the “nuclear winter” of an NBA season currently, it was very big that MLB was able to get something done without drama.

If you would like to read the details of the CBA click here

Andrew Bailey?

 It’s the time of year when rumors start from a short Twitter post and take off. This morning, Buster Olney of ESPN noted with a Tweet the following:

“Reds are talking about possible Andrew Bailey deal.”

There is no mention of where this information is coming from.

Former Reds GM and current baseball analyst for SiriusXM and ESPN, Jim Bowden, tweeted his info from an A’s source:

“A’s source confirms their interest in Alonso.”

Of course, that is Reds 1B/LF Yonder Alonso, who is viewed as the club’s top trading chip or part of the long term future depending on who you ask. I would have no doubt that the A’s (or any club) might have interest in getting Alonso.

My view: This is not a match. Giving up Alonso for Bailey is way too much. A Reds source I checked with about this proposal agreed.

The Reds have other more pressing needs than for a closer at the moment, namely a starting pitcher. There are a lot of closers available on the open market that might be had for cheap and the door is certainly not closed on Francisco Cordero returning. Bailey is a two-time All-Star and former AL Rookie of the Year but injuries got in the way in late 2010 and early 2011.

But if you want more info on Bailey (no relation to Homer Bailey), click here.

As for Alonso, unless the Reds are blown away with a great proposal, I would hang on to him for 2012 if I were the GM (which I am obviously not). Let’s see if he can make it as a left fielder following a full off-season of training and preparation. His bat could be very valuable next season and until the Reds know the long term prospects for keeping 1B Joey Votto (not good at this point), Alonso is the best insurance in house to take over at first base.

And one more thing on the rumors. It takes so little for them to take on lives of their own in the age of Twitter and blogs that aggregate trade rumors. Just because a reporter (reputable ones or otherwise) posts something, it doesn’t mean it’s happening. It doesn’t mean the  deal was even discussed. And even if it was discussed, it could have been kicked around for three minutes in a staff meeting, got passed on and never even brought up to the other club. And if it was proposed to the other club, they could have simply said ‘no’ and hung up the phone. Or the info could have been from a scout outside the loop that was simply saying what his team should go after or give up.

The point is, don’t go nuts about every rumor you read about. I’ve come to learn about 95 percent of them never actually result in the deal. Not saying this one will or won’t happen, but there is just a lot more to learn beyond that the Reds are talking about a possible deal for a player.

Reds add to 40-man roster

Some transactions by the Reds:

IF Didi Gregorius, RHP Kyle Lotzkar, IF Donald Lutz, IF Henry Rodriguez, IF Neftali Soto and RHP Pedro Villarreal were added to the 40-man roster on Friday, the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

The 40-man roster is at 40 players. For more information, this is my story on the players.

Bye Houston, in 2013

MLB formally approved the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane on Thursday. What does that mean for the Reds, you ask?

As part of the deal, the Astros will move out of the National League Central and to the American League West beginning with the 2013 season.

That’s one less division rival for the Reds to play in what’s currently the only six-team division in MLB. In the short term as 106-loss Houston rebuilds, it’s not exactly a big plus for the Reds. But over the long term, this should be a good development for the Reds.

This also means there will be 15 teams in each league and Interleague play throughout the year in 2013. That should be interesting.

*One other quick note: Brandon Phillips tweeted he is headed to Cincinnati today. Of course, he tweeted yesterday he was hoping for good news in contract talks. The trip is probably for personal reasons, because I have been told that there is no deal done yet.

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