December 2013

Happy New Year

Just wanted to check in and say ‘hey’ during what’s been a rather quiet spell of the Hot Stove season.

Speaking of Hot Stove, be sure to listen to the Reds radio network tonight. I recently participated in a roundtable discussion on the Reds Hot Stove league show hosted by Marty Brennaman and it airs tonight (New Year’s Eve). I was on along with John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Jim Kelch and we covered myriad topics and issues about the team.

*The 2013 season was certainly interesting and I addressed some of the bigger storylines in a story for Reds.com/MLB.com. Click here to read.

*The year was also active on this blog as traffic remained strong. When I get monthly reports, I’m always amazed that this blog, which covers one of the smallest market clubs, is often ranked in the top 10 among the beat writer blogs. Sometimes it ranks in the top 5. Credit goes to you, the readers and fans, for stopping by and checking it out. It would be nothing without you.

*My doors are also blown off from the report of people in different nations that have viewed this blog. I’m sure some were goofy Google searches gone awry and mistaken clicks. But I’d like to think it’s mostly because Reds fans are everywhere and this is a way for them to stay connected. There were page views from 133 different nations this year. Of course, the United States was the overwhelming leader, but check out the rest of the top 25:

Canada 4,560
Republic of Korea 2,651
United Kingdom 2,080
Germany 1,796
Mexico 1,167
Taiwan 994
Venezuela 731
Puerto Rico 654
Netherlands 584
Philippines 468
Japan 456
New Zealand 392
Dominican Republic 330
Brazil 318
Australia 268
Chile 231
Bahamas 222
France 127
Belgium 126
India 99
Spain 91
Hong Kong 84
Romania 84

Also among the 133 were Sri Lanka, Belarus, Albania, St. Kitts, Iraq and Cuba. I borrowed the idea of posting the global stats of the blog from Carrie Muskat, who covers the Cubs. In terms of overall traffic, we have some work to do to catch up to her but kudos to her for keeping Cubs fans informed.

Wherever you are, thank you. I hope to keep you updated here throughout 2014 and will see what other ways I can keep you coming back. The 3 stars may have been retired but I’m still mulling over some sort of daily “thing” that will interest you.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year and may 2014 be a good one for all.

Happy holidays

Greetings everyone. I hope you all enjoy some peace, love, family and friendship during the holidays this week.

*Not a ton of Reds news happened during my time off last week. No big shock that Shin-Soo Choo signed elsewhere and once Jacoby Ellsbury signed his deal, it wasn’t a stunner that Choo got seven years and $130 million from the Rangers.

The Reds were never going to approach that zip code of salary, nor should they have tried. The team in the Reds market size could not afford to be hamstrung for that much money. In the one year he was with Cincinnati, I thought Choo was not only an impressive player to watch, but an impressive person. He was very concerned about pulling his weight for his team and teammates. He was always courteous to the media and just professional all around.

*Billy Hamilton is now the guy to leadoff and play center field. The good news is Hamilton doesn’t have to have a .423 on-base percentage like Choo to be successful. But he’ll have to get on base enough to use his weapon of speed.

*Saw this on Twitter yesterday:

Last week, Sportsnet.ca in Canada did a real moving story on Freel’s final days and hours. It’s not easy to read. We never really know the players away from the clubhouse but you could tell there were swings when Freel was really up and also times he was really down. He was always good to me and I appreciated that. I wish his family well during the holidays.

*I would expect the Reds make some more moves in January but maybe not the big splash everyone expected the past month. I don’t know if they can pull off the big trade at this point. That window seems to be closing. There could be some cheaper options slipping in price on the free agent market that could boost the team offensively.

That’s it for now. Again, please enjoy the holidays.

Taking some time

As I often do after the Redsfest/Winter Meetings combo, I’m taking a little pre-holiday break for the next week or so. While this blog and my Twitter feed will likely be idle, there will be full coverage of any and all Reds news on MLB.com/Reds.com.

Feel free to use to the comment space to discuss any new developments.

Take it easy…

Time to go home

Well, another Winter Meetings has come and gone with little to report about the Reds. I wish I had more to give you.

Fans sometimes get irritated when there are no moves. At the same, does it really matter who “wins” at the Winter Meetings? The Blue Jays made the biggest splash last year in Nashville. The Marlins did two years ago. Neither had fruitful seasons.

On the other hand, the Reds made no moves at either of those meetings but soon spun trades that brought Choo, Latos and Marshall.

So you have plenty to watch for in the coming days and weeks. The Reds still want a bat, possibly a short-term leadoff hitter and bench help at shortstop. The Brandon Phillips rumors will likely continue without resolution until something is either done or the club goes to Spring Training. Again, it will be tough to swing something. If they trade Phillips and lose Choo, as is expected, the void offensively would be tough to overcome.

More when I have something.

Phillips deal nixed by Yankees?

There are reports from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com that the Yankees turned down a trade offer from the Reds that proposed sending Brandon Phillips in return for Brett Gardner.

I have confirmed through sources tonight that Reds GM Walt Jocketty and Yankees GM Brian Cashman did hold meetings and that Phillips was discussed. I also learned that the Yankees are among teams listed in Phillips’ limited no-trade clause on a contract that has four years and $50 million.

More to come when I learn more.

The annual Scott Boras scrum

As it happens every year at the Winter Meetings, industry leading agent Scott Boras fielded questions from a giant gathering of media on Wednesday. I’d love to tell you I could hear him but MLB.com had a couple of guys in the pack and we will have stories on the main site and club sites. I will have something on Choo as well.

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Reds not trying to trade Bailey

Just got back from the Reds suite and a session with Walt Jocketty. Myriad topics came up that will be flushed out soon on MLB.com/Reds.com.

The basic gist:

*Homer Bailey is not in play for trade this week. Jocketty had seen the reports of the Yankees’ interest.

“I told them we’re not trying to trade him. We’re trying to sign him,” Jocketty said.

*The Reds had a meeting about 90 minutes ago with Bronson Arroyo’s agent, Terry Bross. No deal was close but the two sides had let some time pass and Jocketty wanted to at least listen.

“We told him we wanted to meet with him again just to see where they’re at and to see if we could still do something,” Jocketty said. “I don’t know if we’ll do anything or not but we’ll at least meet with him because he’s been with us so long and has been a big part of our success. We thought it was important to at least talk to him again before anything else happens.”

*The Reds are seeking to add bench help in the form of a switch-hitting utility infielder that is primarily a shortstop.

*Jocketty would not address the trade talk rumor about Sean Marshall and the Rockies. But he noted that Marshall has value in the Reds’ bullpen and the club is fine with carrying both Marshall and Manny Parra.

More later…

Rockies interested in Marshall?

Hello from Day 2 of the Winter Meetings…

Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported Tuesday that the Rockies were aggressively pursuing trade talks with the Reds about lefty reliever Sean Marshall. But, the report also noted that talks have since cooled over concerns about Marshall’s health.

Marshall is 31 and has two years and $12 million remaining on his contract. Because of shoulder issues, he was limited to only 16 appearances last season. Therefore, the Rockies’ apparent concerns would be legitimate.

It was not known who the Reds might want in return for Marshall. On Monday, GM Walt Jocketty indicated the only way the Reds could any big deals would be to shift some payroll out. Marshall wouldn’t be a huge enough move to sign Shin-Soo Choo but maybe it would help add someone else. On the other hand, having two lefties in the bullpen with Marshall and Manny Parra is a nice asset to have.

UPDATE at 5:35 pm: unlikely the Rockies will pursue Marshall anymore. A trade to acquire lefty reliever Brett Anderson from the A’s was just announced.

Monday odds and ends

Lots of people, lots of reporters but few transactions of note came on Monday morning and afternoon at the Winter Meetings. The Reds made no moves but have started some talks.

“A lot of talking,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty said. “We’ve talked to two or three clubs by phone. No meetings yet. We’ve met with an agent. We’ll probably meet with two or three more the next couple of days.”

I will have three stories tonight on Reds.com, including one on Bronson Arroyo exploring his options as a free agent. Click here to read.

Other items:

*Bryan Price said the club is still deciding whether to let him pitch in winter ball in the Dominican. Cueto told me on Saturday that he would like to. Of course with Cueto’s injury history, they would like to be careful. At the same time, he only had 11 starts in 2013. If he does pitch, they would like to have him do a throwing program first and perhaps face hitters at their Dominican academy in Boca Chica.

*Jocketty was, of course, very happy for Tony LaRussa getting into the Hall of Fame today. It was Jocketty who hired LaRussa for the Cardinals in 1996 after he fired Joe Torre — another new Hall of Famer.

“I’ve known Tony since 1976,” Jocketty said. “We’ve been friends for most of that time except for the couple of years I was here and he was still in St. Louis. We were at odds a couple of times then. That’s both of our competitive natures. He’s obviously will go down in history of one of the best managers of all time. He’s the winningest of all time. He worked hard at his craft. He was very disciplined. When I first knew him, he was still studying for his law degree in the off-season. He was playing, coaching or managing in the regular season and trying to finish his law degree at Florida State. That takes a real discipline to do something like that. He was always very focused, prepared and was a great leader and very successful at it.”

Jocketty has only dismissed two managers in his career — Torre and Dusty Baker.

“I’ve told [Torre] in the past that me firing him got him four more World Series championships,” Jocketty said. “Now I can tell him I got him into the Hall of Fame by firing him too.

“I had Torre, who I fired at the request of my owner. But then I hired Tony. Really in my career, I’ve only hired two managers. One is going in the Hall of Fame. The other one is destined.”

The elicited some laughs since new Price, his latest hire, was sitting right next to Jocketty in the Reds’ suite.

“He hasn’t even managed one game yet,” Jocketty said.

“Only got 35 more years of managing,” Price added.

*The Reds will need a new strength and conditioning coach. Matt Krause left last week to take the same position with the Yankees. A replacement for Krause has not been found. He spent the last 11 seasons with the organization.

Arroyo update

Free agent pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s name has circulated today with rumors connecting him to the Pirates. We exchanged messages but Arroyo said he wasn’t aware of anything involving the Pirates.

Arroyo said his agent has been contacted by several clubs but that more interest has come from the Twins, Phillies and Angels right now. No deals are close at the moment though.

The door isn’t all the way shut for Arroyo and the Reds. But GM Walt Jocketty noted that nothing was happening with his club and Arroyo.

“We just haven’t talked about it in a while,” Jocketty said. “I don’t think we have closed it out but it would be pretty tough financially.”

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