November 2013

Schumaker agrees with Reds?

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the Reds and IF/OF Skip Schumaker have agreed on a two-year contract, pending a physical. I am working to confirm that myself.

Schumaker, 33, played for the Dodgers last season and batted .263/.332/.322 in 125 games. From 2005-12, he played for the Cardinals. He would be reunited with his old Cardinals GM, Walt Jocketty, in Cincinnati.

A left-handed hitter, Schumaker is a career .300 hitter with a .357 on-base percentage against right-handed pitching and a .211 hitter with a .280 OBP vs. lefties. Defensively, he can play second base and all three outfield spots.

Click here for my story on MLB.com.

Back to work …

Sorry for the lack of fresh blog content the past week. I took some time with a little “staycation.” While we kept the headlines as fresh as possible on Reds.com, I gave the blog and Twitter a complete break.

Some stuff to catch you up:

*While names trickled out about the new Reds coaching staff last week, there still isn’t any formal announcement coming imminently. I will keep you posted when I hear something.

*Billy Hamilton has been in Puerto Rico for about two weeks getting more at-bats as he tries to get his bat up to speed for 2014.

*Doug Miller takes a look at the free agent market for lefty relievers. The one name Reds fans will care about most from the group is Manny Parra. It will be interesting to see how much Parra can command after turning things around during his one season in Cincinnati.

*Alyson Footer profiled Great American Ball Park and the changes it has undergone over its 10-season history. The park will be on full display to the country in less than two years during the 2015 All-Star Game.

*The Arizona Fall League wrapped up its season over the weekend. Among the Reds playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs, Yorman Rodriguez led the team in RBIs while Drew Hayes and Chad Rogers had strong numbers from the bullpen. Click here to see all the stats.

That’s all for now. Hope to have more news and items as the week progresses. Thanks for stopping by.

Reds add catcher Brayan Pena

The Reds have agreed to terms with former Tigers backup catcher Brayan Pena on a two-year contract, MLB.com confirmed on Friday.

The deal, which was first reported by ESPN Deportes, is pending a physical. The Reds have made no formal announcements.

Exact terms of the contract are not known, but Pena is expected to get a raise from the $865,000 he made last season with Detroit.

Pena, who will turn 32 in January, is a native of Havana, Cuba. Over 71 games in 2013, he batted .296 with four home runs and 22 RBIs.

In the big leagues since 2005, Pena has also played for the Braves and Royals. Lifetime, he is batting .258 with a .292 on-base percentage 18 homers and 120 RBIs over 406 Major League games.

Cincinnati currently has two catchers under club control on its 40-man roster. Veteran Ryan Hanigan is headed for his third-year of arbitration eligibility and Devin Mesoraco just completed his second season in the Majors and is a year away from arbitration eligibility. What Pena’s addition means for the incumbent catchers is still unknown.

UPDATE: Click here for my complete story on MLB.com

Another Silver Slugger for Bruce

For the second-straight year, Reds right fielder Jay Bruce was a winner of a National League Silver Slugger Award.

The results of the voting was announced on Wednesday and determined by the league’s managers and coaches.

Bruce, 26, batted .262 with 30 home runs and a career-high 109 RBIs over 160 games, also the most for his career. He was tied for second in the NL in RBIs, ranked third in homers and tied for third with 43 doubles. Among all Major League right fielders, Bruce led in homers, RBIs, doubles and extra-base hits.

More to come on MLB.com and Reds.com. Bruce is holding a conference call soon.

No Reds for BBWAA awards

The finalists for the 2013 Baseball Writers of America awards were announced on Tuesday during a broadcast on MLB Network. To me, it wasn’t a shock that no Reds were named this year as award contenders.

Here is the list of finalists for all the awards:

All Award Winners Will Be Announced Exclusively On MLB Network:

Monday, November 11, 6:00 p.m. ET:
AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year: Chris Archer, Jose Iglesias, Wil Myers

NL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year: Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Yasiel Puig

Tuesday, November 12, 6:00 p.m. ET:
AL Manager of the Year: John Farrell, Terry Francona, Bob Melvin

NL Manager of the Year: Fredi Gonzalez, Clint Hurdle, Don Mattingly

Wednesday, November 13, 6:00 p.m. ET:

AL Cy Young Award: Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma, Max Scherzer

NL Cy Young Award: Jose Fernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright

Thursday, November 14, 6:00 p.m. ET:
AL Most Valuable Player: Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Mike Trout

NL Most Valuable Player: Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina

Report: Yankees inquired on Phillips

Reds 2B Brandon Phillips has already been the subject of trade rumors in the still-early off-season. On Tuesday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Yankees contacted the Reds about Phillips’ availability should free agent 2B Robinson Cano not return to New York.

Heyman also reported the initial price the Reds wanted was “way too steep.”

Phillips has four years and $50 million remaining on his six-year, $72 million deal with the Reds that was signed in April 2012, which makes moving him more difficult for Cincinnati. But big market teams like the Yankees would be able to take on such a contract with less issue. When you consider that Cano is reportedly seeking a $300 million contract, Phillips would be a relative bargain in the Bronx.

Last month, Reds GM Walt Jocketty maintained he wasn’t actively shopping Phillips but stopped short of guaranteeing that the All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner would be with the team in 2014. Jocketty noted he was looking at all ways to improve his club.

Phillips, 32, batted .261 with 18 home runs and a career-high 103 RBIs. But his on-base percentage was .310 and slugging percentage was at .396 while he often struggled following a June 1 hit-by-pitch on his left forearm. He was also involved in a pair of incidents that embarrassed the Reds — an August cover story and interview with Cincinnati Magazine had Phillips complaining about how his contract negotiations were handled and he portrayed Jocketty and CEO Bob Castellini as liars. Phillips also verbally attacked a newspaper reporter in a moment that was caught on camera.

Coaching staff update

While talking to Reds GM Walt Jocketty about the qualifying offer made to free agent Shin-Soo Choo on Monday, I asked about the ongoing search to fill new manager Bryan Price’s coaching staff.

Without going into specifics, Jocketty said that the interviews of potential hires have begun.

“We’re still meeting and I’m still in Arizona doing that,” Jocketty said. “Hopefully by next week, we’ll have some decisions on guys and have a better idea of where we’re at with our staff.”

Both Jocketty and Price said on the day of Price’s press conference that there would be some holdovers from Dusty Baker’s staff. Assistant pitching coach Mack Jenkins was expected to remain in some capacity. After that, it’s unknown who might stay and who might go.

The off-season priority list for additions hasn’t really been made yet as the coaching staff remains ahead on the to-do list. Jocketty wants Price and the staff involved in talks of potential moves. Jocketty will remain in Arizona until the GM meetings begin on Monday in Orlando.

Choo gets qualifying offer

Ahead of a 5 p.m. ET deadline on Monday, the Reds extended free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo a $14.1 million qualifying offer for a new one-year deal for 2014. Choo has until 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 11 to accept or decline the offer.

Should Choo reject the offer, which he is expected to do, he would be free to sign with any interested club – including the Reds.

If Choo signs with another team, Cincinnati would receive a compensation pick in the June First-Year Player Draft. All compensatory picks come between the first and second rounds, and are made in reverse order of winning percentage.

Meanwhile, a qualifying offer was not extended to free agent and longtime Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. That means the Reds get no compensation if Arroyo signs elsewhere.

Also not getting offers were LHP Zach Duke; INF Cesar Izturis; LHP Manny Parra; RHP Nick Masset

More is on MLB.com/Reds.com — click here

Concepcion on HOF ballot

Reds great and former shortstop Davey Concepcion is getting another crack at the Hall of Fame. Concepcion is one of 12 former players and managers that are on the HOF’s expansion era ballot.

Click here for the details in a story by Barry Bloom.

There is a 16-member committee and the results will be announced on Dec. 9, during the Winter Meetings in Orlando. A candidate needs to receive at least 75 percent of the vote to be elected. On this committee, that’s 12 votes. Members can vote for a maximum of five candidates.

Other items

*Another Reds shortstop great appeared in the news on Sunday. During the press conference the Tigers held to introduce new manager Brad Ausmus, it was revealed the club was interested in interviewing Barry Larkin. Larkin bowed out from consideration and never interviewed.

*This Friday, at 9:00 p.m. ET, as part of a week of airing Arizona Fall League games, MLB Network will be showing the Glendale Desert Dogs vs. Scottsdale Scorpions. Several Reds prospects play for Glendale including Yorman Rodriguez, Chad Rogers and Tucker Barnhart.

2013 GIBBY Awards voting

Some stuff here to plug my own company … fans can now vote on MLB.com’s 2013 GIBBY Awards. (GIBBY stands for Greatness in Baseball Yearly.)

The winners will be based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.

Click here to vote.

This year’s GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year’s best Starting Pitcher, Hitter, Closer, Setup Man, Rookie, Breakout Hitter, Breakout Pitcher, Comeback Player, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive and Postseason Performer.

GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year’s top Play, Storyline, Hitting Performance, Pitching Performance, Oddity, Walk-off, Cut4 Topic, Regular-Season Moment and Postseason Moment, with video available via MLB.com’s Must C highlight reels.

Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are both nominees in the Top Play category. Remember these moments?

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