January 2013

Heisey, Simon sign

Chris Heisey avoided arbitration Thursday and signed a one year, $1.325 million contract. Reliever Alfredo Simon also signed a one year deal but terms were not available.

Heisey filed for $1.65 million while club countered at $1.05 million. Simon sought $1.05 million and was offered $750,000.

Four players remain eligible for arbitration in Bailey, Choo, Latos and Leake.

T-Minus 2 weeks

It’s hard to believe how fast this off-season went. In exactly two weeks from today, I will be on a plane(s) to Phoenix and touching ground in Goodyear for Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report to camp on Feb. 12, in case you forgot.

Yes, I will be stationed in the desert for the entire stretch of camp — minus a few days off here and there. There will be daily stories on MLB.com/Reds.com and blog entries with breaking news, but also items that don’t make it into stories. If I can, I will try to add some photos and other multimedia components to make it even better. If there is anything I haven’t done in the past that you would like to see included on the blog this year, post a comment and I will mull over the suggestions.

Time for links:

Fresh off of the virtual presses: Billy Hamilton was listed as the No. 3 outfield prospect in baseball by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. Click here for the full list.

In case you missed it, I made a couple of stops along Reds Caravan. On Sunday in Hamilton, I asked Homer Bailey about his contract situation and if he’d consider a long term contract with the Reds. I also went to a supersized stop at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Saturday. Brandon Phillips, who has never missed a caravan since his arrival in Cincinnati, was there.

Meggie Zahneis, our youth reporter, was also working at the Hamilton stop. After a tough winter, Meggie returned to our site with her first story of 2013.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly reached out to Scott Rolen about playing in Chavez Ravine, reported MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.

Speaking of Phoenix, I wouldn’t mind having Charles Barkley do the weather forecast on TV everyday while I’m out there. He popped up on TV Sunday night doing the weather.

And on Sports on Earth, Will Leitch finds Super Bowl week to be “super boring.”

Top 10 RF right now: Bruce

I got an email from MLB Network today so I could alert you that the Reds’ Jay Bruce will be featured on their show “Top 10 Right Now: Right Fielders.”

The program will air tonight (Friday) at 10 p.m. ET, on MLB Network.

More from the e-mail:

MLB Network determined its rankings of the top 10 right fielders using “The Shredder,” which uses statistical analysis to measure performance. In addition, renowned author Bill James and MLB Network analyst Eric Byrnes both give their own personal lists of the top 10 right fielders in baseball. The “Top 10 Right Now” series continues each Friday with the top 10 at two new positions, leading up to the “Top 100 Right Now” on February 15.

Reds-Louisville extension

The Reds and Triple-A Louisville announced Thursday night that they have signed a two-year extension to their player development contract that will now run through the 2016.

The previous affilation agreement was set to expire after the 2014 season.

Louisville became the Reds top-tiered farm club in 2000. That was also the same season that Louisville Slugger Field opened.

The agreement with the Louisville Bats came as the Reds stopped at Louisville Slugger Field during the Caravan.

Reds Caravan is on the road

phillips 012413The 2013 edition of Reds Caravan commenced from the Reds Hall of Fame Thursday morning with a large cast of characters, including Brandon Phillips (pictured), Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, Walt Jocketty, Marty Brennaman and more. Dusty Baker was also on hand, but did not board a bus this year.

Click here  to get the full itinerary for all three legs of Reds Caravan. There will also be updates from the road, namely on Jamie Ramsey’s Better off Red blog. Marty told me he expects to have his own daily writeup from the Northern leg with Jamie.

I will be cherry picking a couple of stops this weekend — Columbus and Hamilton. Hope to see some of you there.

Some quick notes from this morning:

*I could write the annual player who slimmed down story on Jay Bruce, who looks leaner than I’ve ever seen him. However, Bruce insists he hasn’t dropped any pounds this winter. I will have a story soon in the Around the Horn series I’ve been doing on Bruce’s thoughts on Choo in center field. Bottom line, Bruce is going to camp as the right fielder, but is willing and able to play center field if called upon.

*There has been no movement in talks with the arbitration players. Like I wrote on Sunday, a hearing or two could be possible this year.

*Nothing new on Scott Rolen.

*Baker and Jocketty lost power overnight at their homes. It made for some chilly sleeping. Baker said his power returned around 6 a.m.

It’s official: 2015 ASG for Cincinnati

CIN-ASG-Presser-01Lots of coverage on Wednesday as Commissioner Bud Selig announced that the 2015 All-Star Game would be played at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. I’m not going to repeat much here as there are multiple stories on MLB.com and Reds.com.

Click here to read my main story.

Click here to see how the Reds’ persistence paid off.

Click here for a column by my colleague Richard Justice.

Urban Youth Academy announcement

Video from the press conference:

As someone who first moved to Cincinnati in 1990 and left and returned two other times, I couldn’t be happier for this community. Cincinnati has always been a city I’m proud to call home. It offers many great sights and places — not all of which are downtown — and it’s a tremendous place for families and people young and old alike.

This will be a great chance for the area to strut its stuff over the next two-plus years. For CEO Bob Castellini, he’s been the quarterback of trying to land a big-time event to the city like this and kudos to him for getting it done.

I know there will be many questions about the 2015 All-Star Game in the weeks, months and years to come like ticket prices, and other details. Hold off for the time being. They will be answered eventually. For now, I hope you are able to enjoy the moment.

CIN-ASG-Presser-06

Reds sign Galarraga

I have confirmed the CBSSports.com report Tuesday that the Reds have signed RHP Armando Galarraga to a Minor League contract. The deal does not currently come with an invitation to big league camp for Spring Training.

Galarraga, 31, is a six-year Major League veteran of the Rangers, Tigers, D-Backs and Astros. In 100 games, including 91 starts, he is 26-34 with a 4.78 ERA. He had only five big league starts and 24 innings last season for Houston and was 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA.

You likely know Galarraga best for a bad umpire call on the final play that ruined his bid for a perfect game for the Tigers on June 2, 2010, vs. Cleveland. The runner Galarraga beat to the bag for Jim Joyce’s blown call was Jason Donald, who is now with the Reds.

 

Miscellaneous Monday

Good Monday afternoon… I only have a few tidbits for now but the day is young, who knows what could be next or when?

*On Sunday, I wrote a story that could be ominous for the upcoming arbitration cases. Three players, namely Bailey, Choo and Latos, are pretty far apart in the exchanged salary figures from Friday. Latos’ agent told me he didn’t currently expect a deal to be reached before a hearing. The Reds haven’t gone to arbitration with a player since 2004. Although deals usually get done beforehand, I’m not so confident about this year.

*Regarding Scott Rolen, still no news. GM Walt Jocketty returned to Cincinnati today from an extended stay in Arizona and told me on Sunday he hoped to have that situation figured out this week. As I’ve written in the past, Rolen can afford to take his time on deciding about retirement. That way, if he gets the itch when Spring Training gets here and a spot opens somewhere with either the Reds or another club, he can play. As for the Reds though, there really seems to be no real roster space.

*From 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET this Saturday, the Reds will be holding their annual “Select-a-Seat” event in the FS Ohio Champions Club at GABP. It’s a chance for fans to personally pick their seats for 2013 season ticket packages. Admission is free and the event becomes a Reds caravan stop at 11 a.m. when Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton and more pay a visit and hold a Q&A session.

*It was just announced this afternoon that Commissioner Bud Selig will be at GABP on Wednesday to hold a press conference with Reds CEO Bob Castellini. It’s to announce a significant committment by the league for the opening of the new Urban Youth Academy in Roselawn.

*St. Louis continues to mourn the passing of icon Stan Musial. I never got to meet “The Man,” but have only heard great things. Click here for the MLB.com tribute page to Musial.

*For Reds fans that like to make the trip to Chicago for Reds-Cubs games, here is some welcomed news. There were plans unveiled by the Cubs over the weekend for a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field.

The exchange of figures

There were a slew of signings of arbitration eligible players on Friday. No eligible Reds have avoided arbitration since Logan Ondrusek signed on Thursday.

Six players and the Reds exchanged figures. A total of 41 eligible players in MLB remain unsigned.

Homer Bailey filed at $5.8 million. The club offered $4.75 million.

Shin-Soo Choo filed for $8 million. The club countered at 6.75 million.

Chris Heisey is seeking $1.65 million while the Reds offered $1.05 million.

Mat Latos is seeking $4.7 million while he was offered $4.15 million.

Mike Leake is seeking $3.5 million and was countered with $2.65 million.

Alfredo Simon is seeking $1.05 million and the club returned with $750,000.

Negotiations can continue with players. Hearings are slated from Feb. 4-20.

**numbers courtesy of the Associated Press.

Reds arbitration history

With Friday’s deadline for arbitration eligible players to exchange salary figures with clubs, there has been a flurry of deals around the league today. The Reds have not made any more deals yet as of this afternoon, and I have yet to get the exchanged figures.

Courtesy of the Reds media relations department, here is the club’s recent history with arbitration cases. It’s been almost a decade since the Reds have been in a hearing with a player.

(more…)

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