December 2013

Concepcion, Parker falls short

The big Monday morning event here was the announcement of three new members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Former managers Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox were elected via the 16-person expansion era committee.

The vote totals: Bobby Cox (16 votes, 100%); Tony La Russa (16 votes, 100%); Joe Torre (16 votes, 100%)

Former Reds Davey Concepcion and Dave Parker were among those up for consideration. Concepcion, Parker, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Billy Martin, Marvin Miller, Dan Quisneberry, Ted Simmons and George Steinbrenner each received six or fewer votes. Twelve votes were needed for election.

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Live from the Dolphin

Hello from the Swan and Dolphin hotel at Walt Disney World. The Winter Meetings are upon us.

It’s early so I have really nothing to report right now. The Reds have historically done little at the Winter Meetings but as I wrote on Sunday, you never know. Keep checking back here and on MLB.com/Reds.com.

I would expect some rumors to fly this week regarding Brandon Phillips and Homer Bailey. Despite what the Reds brass said last week about Phillips, there are a couple of teams in need of a second baseman (Yankees, Royals). As for Bailey, he’s entering his walk year before free agency and teams are always in need of starting pitcher (once again, the Yankees are an example). I’ve already seen speculation from a few outlets about a Bailey-Brett Gardner deal making sense in theory. Gardner is also entering his final year before free agency as well. I will keep an eye on this and anything else that develops.

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Redsfest pictures

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Redsfest is a go

Hello from the Duke Energy Center, where I’m seeing final preps being made for Redsfest, which begins tomorrow and continues through Saturday. For the complete schedule and information, click here.

Devin Mesoraco and Sam LeCure are here doing the media circuit with reporters as forklifts and workers mill about. I will have stories with them in the days ahead.

Despite the forecast for winter weather and snow, organizers say that Redsfest is a go — no matter what.

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Price might use Chapman differently

Just heard from Reds manager Bryan Price and he talked about his new coaching staff. One different topic I brought up on the impromptu conference call was about Aroldis Chapman. Earlier today, GM Walt Jocketty indicated the club was leaning towards keeping Chapman in the closer’s role rather than starting him.

Price wasn’t ready to commit exactly on Chapman’s 2014 role.

“We’ve had some internal dialogue on that,” Price said. “I don’t think it’s something where I feel comfortable with saying ‘this is exactly what we’re going to do.’ I have my opinion on it. I know that his value for us that last couple of years has been as a closer.”

Price did certainly sound like he might be willing to go outside the box/away from the book with how his lefty power pitcher is used next season.

“He found his way into a comfortable position. I do think we can utilize him more in the bullpen instead a guy that may be a single-inning guy now that he’s done this for a few years,” Price said. “I think there are ways we can get more value out of Aroldis, not necessarily by starting him but keeping him in the bullpen. There’s still a bit more dialogue to have organizationally before we put a stamp on what role he’ll have. Right now, I’m very comfortable with where he is.”

Chapman only pitched more than one inning twice in all of 2013 — two innings on Aug. 21 vs. Arizona, and 1 1/3 innings on Sept. 14 at Milwaukee. It will be interesting to see if Price goes to Chapman in high leverage situations before the ninth inning — something many managers in baseball are reluctant to do with their closers.

Jocketty talks Phillips, Chapman

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty appeared on MLB Network Radio with host Chris Russo on Wednesday and seemed to put to bed the trade rumors involving Brandon Phillips.

“I told him we are not in any talks to trade him,” Jocketty said. “I’m not saying we wouldn’t trade him but I told him we’re a better team with him here.”

Late Tuesday night, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported from a Major League source that the Reds were unlikely to trade Phillips this winter.

Jocketty was also asked about Aroldis Chapman’s status for 2014 — starting pitcher or closer?

“We feel we have the depth in our rotation now that we can continue to keep him in the bullpen,” Jocketty said. “That’s probably the plan going into Spring Training. We’ll have him prepare for Spring Training like he has in the past. He’ll come in and pitch a lot of innings in Spring Training so he could go either way. In all likelihood when we get to Spring Training, we’ll make a decision. I would think he’ll continue to be our closer.”

For the clip of the interview with Jocketty, click here.

2014 coaching staff named

The Reds announced new manager Bryan Price’s coaching staff on Wednesday. You’ll notice a couple of familiar names and some new ones, too.

*Assistant pitching coach Mack Jenkins has been named bullpen coach.

*First base coach Billy Hatcher remains in his current spot.

*Catching coach/bullpen catcher Mike Stefanski will return to those roles.

*Jay Bell is the new bench coach.

*Don Long is the new hitting coach.

*Jeff Pico is the new pitching coach.

*Don Long is the new hitting coach.

*Steve Smith is the new third base coach.

*Freddie Benavides has been added as an extra coach to focus on infield instruction.

More details are on Reds.com. Click here for the story.

Griffey, Oester, Parker in Reds HOF

I’m on the scene at the Holy Grail Banks downtown….

The Reds 2014 Hall of Fame class was announced here on Tuesday evening. Four former players were added:

Ken Griffey Jr., Ron Oester, Dave Parker and 19th century player Jake Beckley

Induction ceremonies will be held this summer.

More from the Reds in a release:

Griffey, Jr. was the top vote-getter selected by fans, alumni and media through the Modern Player Ballot, presented by Clark Schaefer Hackett.

Parker, Oester and Beckley were selected by the Veterans Committee, comprised of Reds Hall of Fame members and executives, baseball historians and members of the media.

The four will be honored during 2014 Reds Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, which will be announced at a later date.

• Ken Griffey, Jr. was one of the most iconic players ever to wear a Reds uniform and was a three-time National League All-Star during his eight-and-a-half seasons in Cincinnati.

• Dave Parker played four seasons for the Reds from 1984 to 1987 and was a two-time National League All-Star.

• Rob Oester played his entire 13-year Major League career with the Reds and appeared in more games at second base than all but two players in franchise history.

• Jake Beckley played seven seasons for the Reds from 1897 to 1903 and his .325 average ranks third on the Reds all-time list.

“The Class of 2014 showcases the great baseball heritage we have in Cincinnati with three of the four inductees being products of youth and high school baseball in the Queen City,” said Rick Walls, executive director of the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum. “And the addition of 19th century star and National Baseball Hall of Famer Jake Beckley makes for arguably our strongest induction class ever.”

The induction of Griffey, Jr., Parker, Oester and Beckley will bring the Hall’s membership ranks to 79 players, three managers and three executives.

Ken Griffey, Jr. (Outfield, 2000-2008)
One of the most gifted athletes to ever wear a Reds uniform, Ken Griffey, Jr., joined the Reds on Feb.10, 2000 following a trade with the Seattle Mariners, returning to Cincinnati where he starred at Moeller High School. During his inaugural season with the Reds, Griffey slugged 40 home runs, knocked in 118 runs, and was selected to represent Cincinnati at the 2000 All-Star game in Atlanta. During his career with the Reds, Griffey, Jr. would be selected to represent the club in two more All-Star games in 2004 and 2007. In 2005, Griffey, Jr. received the National League Comeback Player of the Year award and was selected as the Reds team MVP. He ranks 7th on the Reds all-time home run list with 210, 6th on the club’s all-time list with a career on-base plus slugging percentage of .876, is tied for 4th on the Reds all-time list in career slugging percentage (.514), and is the only player in Reds history to hit his 500th and 600th career home runs as a Red. With his induction into the Reds Hall of Fame in the summer of 2014, he will join his father, Ken Griffey, Sr., as the only father-son combination in the Hall.

Dave Parker (Outfield, 1984–1987)
One of the most intimidating hitters of his era, outfielder Dave “The Cobra” Parker became the first major free agent acquisition in Reds history when he was signed by the club in December of 1983. Over the next four seasons, Parker was a fixture in the middle of the Reds lineup and was crucial to the club’s resurgence to postseason contention. The Reds team Most Valuable Player each season from 1984 to 1986, Parker was also a two-time National League All-Star, a two-time Sporting News All-Star and was the winner of two Silver Slugger Awards during his Reds career. In 1985, Parker authored one of the most impressive offensive seasons in club history, batting .312 with a league-best 125 RBI and ranked second in the league in home runs (34), hits (198) and slugging percentage (.551). For his Reds career, Parker averaged nearly 27 home runs and 108 RBI per season. Raised in Cincinnati, Parker graduated from Courter Tech High School in 1970 and remains a resident of the Queen City.

Ron Oester (Second Base, 1978–1990)
A Cincinnati native and 1974 graduate of Withrow High School, second baseman Ron Oester played his 17-year professional baseball career in the Cincinnati Reds organization, including 13 years at the Major League level. Selected by the Reds in the ninth round of the 1974 amateur draft, Oester made his Major League debut in 1978 and began making regular appearances in the Reds lineup in 1980 when he appeared in 100 games and finished fourth in voting for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. In 1981, Oester enjoyed the first of six consecutive seasons as the Reds starting second baseman, a streak that was interrupted by a major knee injury he suffered in July of 1987. He won Major League Baseball’s Hutch Award in 1988 after his successful return to the Reds everyday lineup. In his final season in 1990, Oester was a key player off the bench during the Reds World Championship season and scored the winning run in the Reds pennant-clinching game over the Pirates in Game 6 of the 1990 NLCS. After his playing career, Oester spent six seasons with the Reds as a Major League coach. He remains a Cincinnati resident.

Jake Beckley (First Base, 1897-1903)
Born in Hannibal, MO in 1867, first baseman Jake “Eagle Eye” Beckley was the Reds starting first baseman from the time of his acquisition in May of 1897 through the 1903 season. One of the top batters of his era, Beckley batted over .300 in six of his seven seasons with the Reds and his .325 career average as a Red ranks third on the club’s all-time list. A complete offensive player, Beckley in various seasons ranked among the league’s leaders in batting average, slugging percentage, hits, doubles, triples, home runs and RBI. His 77 triples as a Red ranks third on the franchise’s all-time list, and at the time of his retirement from baseball in 1907, his 244 overall career triples ranked first in the history of the game. One of the period’s true characters, Beckley was an aficionado of the hidden ball trick, successfully executing the play multiple times throughout his career. He was also known for his unorthodox bunting style that found him flipping the bat in his hands while the pitch was in flight and using the handle to hit the ball. Beckley was only 50 years old when he died of heart failure in 1918. He was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

Quotes on the trade

”I wasn’t sure what the Reds were going to do, then when they signed Brayan I kind of felt like they were going in a different direction. But I understood what they were doing and after that happened I kind of just took it in stride and developed a relationship with [the Rays] when I was allowed and got to know these guys on a fairly quick basis.”
— Former Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan

“Our goal was to try and improve our pitching depth and trying to find the best young starting pitcher we could add to the organization. I have to be honest with you that Holmberg was one of the guys we had at the top of the list. It was a measuring point for other clubs we talked to. This was the best deal we thought we could make. We’re very happy with him.” — Reds GM Walt Jocketty on acquiring LHP David Holmberg from Arizona in the three-way trade.

“We liked Holmberg, as did Cincinnati. With Jeff Pico now being their pitching coach, he certainly has history with Holmberg. He’s probably one of those guys who’s not a power pitcher, but he’s always put up good numbers. We viewed him as a guy who could be a back end of the rotation type starter. He got a little taste of the big leagues last year for one start. A guy who I think will pitch in the big leagues and should be effective as a back of the rotation starter. His name is part of this three-way deal to be able to move Bell and his salary and to get the prospects that we’re getting from Tampa. We had to involve them in this deal.” — Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers.

(Incidentally and speaking of Pico, the Reds are expected to announce their coaching staff under Bryan Price on Wednesday.)

Click here for my full story on today’s trade:

No real recent Choo talks

As part of my phone call with Reds GM Walt Jocketty about today’s trade, I asked for an update on talks with free agent Shin-Soo Choo. It’s been rather quiet but the Reds are still in the hunt for Choo’s services.

“We have not had any discussions in a couple of weeks,” Jocketty said. “I had one conversation with [agent Scott] Boras a couple of weeks ago. We haven’t done anything since then because of holidays and things going on.”

Jocketty said that the search for more lineup help is continuing either way.

“We are still looking at any way to upgrade the club if we can,” Jocketty said. “We’re not done looking to improve our offense. It could just be a bat. “It could be a leadoff hitter. Whatever we can do to improve our offense.”

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