2015 Reds All-Star wrap-up

Todd Frazier took the Home Run Derby to new heights and solidified his spot as face of the Reds franchise. Aroldis Chapman blew everyone’s doors off again with 100-plus mph heat. And Cincinnati put on a pretty good show for All-Star week.

Here are some of the Reds-related stories, in case you missed them.

Cincinnati brightens under All-Star spotlight
Chapman’s fastball wows All-Star crowd
Todd Frazier wins Home Run Derby at home
Reds prospects enjoy Futures Game
Cincinnati boasts plenty of attractions

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38 Comments

From SB Nation
Yankees potential trade target: Johnny Cueto
By Tanya Bondurant  @TanyaBondurant on Jul 15, 2015
There are 16 days before the 2015 trade deadline, and the end of the All-Star break will set off the real beginning of trade season for teams that have decided they are out of the race for the postseason or need additional forces for a playoff push. The Yankees currently sit 3.5 games ahead of their AL East rivals, making them a prime candidate to reinforce their roster before July 31st.

The name that has been connected to the Yankees the most to this point has been Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto. Cincinnati is 15.5 games behind the division-leading Cardinals and could be set to sell off expiring contracts like Cueto’s any day now. New York has sent scouts to multiple starts of Cueto’s over the last few weeks, but they are hardly alone in their pursuit. Cueto is 6-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 113 strikeouts on the season, making him an intriguing option for any team on the hunt for additional starting pitching.

Unfortunately, this option doesn’t come without cause for concern. Cueto felt stiffness in his elbow at the end of May before undergoing an MRI that revealed only inflammation. The MRI coming back clean is obviously good news, but trading for a pitcher whose elbow was barking a month and a half ago might not be the best strategy for a team that already has a frontline starter with elbow concerns sitting in the rotation. Trading prospects for Cueto while banking on his elbow’s health only to have him go down between now and the playoffs would be disastrous, especially considering that his contract is up at the end of the year.

Pursuing a rental over a long-term investment is always an interesting way to try and get a bargain out of other teams. Before the team showed willingness to give Rob Refsnyder a shot at second base, it seemed like a way they might be able to get a discount on Cueto’s services could be to take on Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and his contract to lessen the cost of prospects being parted with in the deal. Phillips is under contract through 2017 on a six-year, $72.5 million deal. You may remember that the Yankees have been connected to Phillips in the past, though nothing ultimately came of those rumors.

Adding a starting pitcher to the Yankees’ rotation would mean needing to move someone to the bullpen to create room. The team seems adamant about not sending the struggling CC Sabathia out of the rotation, which would leave Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova as the prime candidates to lose their job if the Yankees acquired a pitcher. Eovaldi has been pitching much better since his clunker of an outing against the Marlins in Miami and Nova is still trying to shake off the rust of returning from Tommy John surgery.

Cueto is a bigger name than the Yankees have pursued at the trade deadline in quite some time, but they are also in a more unique position than they have been in the last couple years. Although they lead the division, no team is truly out of it to this point. New York has watched the playoffs from their sofas the last two years, so actually getting to the playoffs this year feels a little more important than it did before that two-year lapse. Is Cueto the missing piece they need to really put their division opponents in the dust? That’s what the front office will have to decide in the next 16 days.

Past history tells me not to hold my breath for a deal. Hope the Reds rewrite history this year.

Expect the worst from this organization .

From MLBTR: Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow finds himself in an unfamiliar position this trade season, as he’s now in the driver’s seat of a club that’s looking to buy, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Drellich spoke to both Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch about the club’s roster and the needs they face entering the July 31 trade deadline.

Per Drellich, starting pitching remains a priority, and the team is likely focused on adding a front-line starting pitcher. Luhnow specifically mentioned a desire to strengthen a potential playoff rotation. “I still think if we are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, having a pitcher that can pitch in those first few games of the playoffs will make a difference,” the GM said. He’s made similar remarks in the past, but the stated importance of strengthening the front of his rotation with the trade deadline so near is nevertheless notable. (Of course, I wouldn’t think that Luhnow and the Astros would shy away from adding a fourth or fifth starter type either.) Manager A.J. Hinch also weighed in on the need for a pitcher: “You always feel like an extra pitcher or two would be ideal, and some of that is out of just strengthening a strength, and some of it is not really knowing what’s in store moving forward on a couple different spots on our team.”

Drellich writes that there’s little indication of serious interest in Cole Hamels, but Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija remain names of interest to the Astros. Houston faces competition in acquiring either free-agent-to-be, with a source telling Drellich that other teams vying for Cueto include the Blue Jays, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants and possibly the Royals. Many have speculated that it could be difficult for Luhnow to strike a deal with former colleague Walt Jocketty — the two “butted heads” while working together in St. Louis, Drellich notes — but multiple sources indicated to Drellich that previous transgressions between the two won’t impact the Astros’ chances so long as they make the best offer.

It was a great weekend for Cincinnati and the Reds organization. They made themselves proud with their handling of the All Star Festivities and the game itself. The excitement downtown and around the park was very special.

Looking forward to the next special event at GABP which looks like 2019. Planning is starting for that one already.

What is in 2019 ?

150 years of baseball in Cincinnati.

Outstanding . That should be quite a show . Thank you . Hopefully the Reds will be back contending for a world championship . That would be the icing on the cake !!!!

I hope there is something to look forward to before then. If not, oh well, it’s only about 32,000 hours away.

Ok so let see what the Reds can pull off here with bringing in some young talent.

Cueto and Byrd to Houston for OF Brett Phillips and P Appel (who will be a bust)

Chapman, Leake, Phillips to Dodgers for P Julio Urias and 2b Hector Olivera and another lower A prospect

Bruce to the Mets for OF Michael Conforto and OF Brandon Nimmo

Then trade Parra and anyone else that they will take wishing we could trade Cozart and Bailey.

Olivera would take over 2nd for Phillips
Brett Phillips, Conforto, and Winker can compete for the 2 OF positions
Urias and Stephenson can move into Cueto and Leakes spots in rotation.

Trade deadline: 360 hours and counting.

Dave Tuley, ESPN Staff Writer
Betting divisional futures

If you’re not sure about backing a team to win the World Series, sometimes it makes more sense to just bet it to win its division or the league pennant. Let’s look at a few potential divisional plays:

AL EAST

YANKEES 10-11
RAYS 11-2
ORIOLES 11-2
BLUE JAYS 4-1
RED SOX 10-1

This is the most wide-open division in baseball, with just 6.5 games separating first from last. If you really believe the Yankees are the class of the division, their 10-11 odds aren’t prohibitive. If you believe the Red Sox will eventually jell and be the best team in the division like they were projected before the season, they’re 10-1.

AL CENTRAL

ROYALS 1-7
TWINS 5-1
TIGERS 25-1
INDIANS 40-1
WHITE SOX 100-1

AL WEST

ANGELS 4-5
ASTROS 8-5
MARINERS 12-1
RANGERS 15-1
A’S 25-1

If you missed out on the Twins and Astros when they were flying under the radar, now isn’t the time to bet them, as they’re only 5-1 and 8-5 to win their respective divisions.

NL EAST

NATIONALS 1-10
METS 9-2
BRAVES 50-1
MARLINS 300-1
PHILLIES 5,000-1

The Nationals have the best overall team in the division, but the Mets trail by just two games, so their 9-2 odds look like an overlay.

NL CENTRAL

CARDINALS 1-4
PIRATES 3-1
CUBS 15-1
REDS 1,000-1
BREWERS 5,000-1

The Cardinals have been the best team in the majors all season; however, the Pirates are just 2.5 games out of the lead after winning three of four from the Cards prior to the break. At 3-1, the Pirates have a legitimate shot to steal the division title.

NL WEST

DODGERS 1-10
GIANTS 5-1
PADRES 50-1
DIAMONDBACKS 60-1
ROCKIES 300-1

Because I think the Giants’ World Series odds offer value, you would think I like them to win the NL West, but not really. Their 5-1 odds don’t seem high enough as the Dodgers will be tough to catch. Besides, they didn’t panic last season when they didn’t win the division and had to play in the wild-card game, so I don’t think they’ll feel the need to catch the Dodgers.

Anyone else surprised the Reds have gotten to Friday with its roster intact? What’s the likely timeline for changes from here?

Not surprised at all. This isn’t fantasy baseball. Diaz was just recalled and Contreras sent down.

From SB Nation…
Johnny Cueto is available, the Astros have the goods, but Luhnow won’t pull the trigger.
By clornelas  @CLOrnelas on Jul 15, 2015
Hear me out here. I’ve voiced many opinions on Crawfish Boxes and BRB via comment, but it’s not been until now that I’ve had the desire AND determination to voice an argument via the more refined, hopefully more researched, FanPost. And there’s a good reason for that. Just as this is something new for me, what the Astros have done thus far this season is similarly new. In fact, no current Astro was even with the organization when they were last competitive (I’m excluding Chad Qualls because I am of the head-in-dirt belief that he will very soon be leaving this team).

So, here it is. I have a theory that Jeff “the Chosen One” Luhnow will not pull the trigger on Johnny Cueto or any other top-of-the-rotation starter before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Before I get to the reasons why this theory is true, let me first outline the assumptions that I am making:

Assumption #1: The Astros have the means via prospects/current major leaguers to top any other team’s offer. This one is fairly simple. The Astros have had one of the best farm systems in the league for a good while now, and they boast top prospects at the upper levels of the minor leagues. Furthermore, the surplus of outfielders shuffling between Fresno and Houston is begging for an outlet. Count ’em: Grossman, Hoes, Pressley, Tucker, Santana, Rasmus, Marisnick, Kemp. More on these guys and other potential trade chips later. The point is, the depth is here to make Cincy drool over unloading Cueto.

Assumption #2: The only untouchables on this team (excluding 2015 draftees) are Correa, Altuve, Springer, and Keuchel. The case could of course be made that a deal could blow Luhnow away for Altuve or Springer, but for now, they’re not on the table (though given the Jay Bruce situation, Springer will surely be coveted by Cincy).

Assumption #3: The Reds are out of the playoff race, will be Trade Deadline sellers and wouldn’t be able to resign Cueto anyway. This one is all about numbers. First off, the Cardinals and Pirates have done about as much as you can before the All-Star break to lock up the division and one wild card spot. That leaves one more spot, and Cincy is 7.5 games out at this point, 8 games under .500, and sit behind 6 other teams for that second spot. So while they’re not technically out of it…… they’re out of it. Cueto is a FA this offseason and would seem to headline FA starting pitchers along with David Price, Jordan Zimmerman, and probably Zack Greinke as well. Cute is going to get paid $25+ mil per season, and it’s not likely Cincy will be able to outbid basically every other team in MLB who will be after starting pitching. The only reason to keep him is for the type A draft pick, but a trade haul would net them more than that anyway.

Now, here’s why the trade should happen…

We really are THAT close

The Astros, believe it or not, are a legitimate playoff contender. This is truth. Also true is that even the most diehard Astros fans among us would be hard-pressed to make a convincing case that this team, as-is, is a World Series contender. But, add one healthy Jed Lowrie, one healthy Springer, and one more Ace-type pitcher and you almost feel like you can pencil in 4 wins in a seven game series. Introducing, your 2015 Houston Astros playoff lineup and rotation:

George Springer RF
Jose Altuve 2B
Carlos Correa SS
Evan Gattis DH
Jed Lowrie/Valbuena 3B
Chris Carter 1B
Preston Tucker/Colby Rasmus LF
Jake Marisnick CF
Jason Castro C
Rotation with SP WAR according to ESPN

Dallas Keuchel 4.7 WAR
Johnny Cueto 2.6 WAR
Collin McHugh .8 WAR
Lance McCullers 1.6 WAR
Scott Feldman- technically, you don’t reeeeeally need a 5th starter in playoffs, but you do for the rest of the season so…
(I don’t want to quibble about the starting lineup here. The point is, look at how fucking competitive this team looks.)

Furthermore, Lowrie can play just about anywhere on the field that isn’t Catcher, so Valbuena will still get his chance to hit the occasional HR.

I put WAR up there for the pitchers for this reason. According to Baseball Reference, Houston is currently 6th in pitching WAR with 10.8. Adding Cueto’s 2.6 to that would put us at 13.4, behind only the Cardinals. Why is this jump important? For me it’s simple: pitching wins championships. If you can’t go deep into your rotation and win, you’re out of luck. What better way to add depth to a rotation than with a stud at the top. We’re already close, and our pythagorean record shows you it’s no fluke.

We have the organizational depth

A playoff run is within reach, and for the first time, the Astros are in a position to make a big trade that does not remove any part of their essential Major League roster. In fact, many organizational issues would be solved-ish by moving some pieces. Look at the AAA/MLB OF clusterfuck. To be fair, no one has sufficiently made a case to come up and stay up with the ML club (looking at you Domingo Santana) except for maybe Preston Tucker. But even if Tucker were to be dealt, we wouldn’t be losing an everyday starter with Marisnick, Rasmus, and Springer all back and healthy. This organization is now beginning to feel a little top heavy, and when that happens, you need to step out in front of it and unload some weight, before it gets done for you (Rule 5 draft). These OFers are taking up 40-man spots despite likely not donning an Astros uniform in 2015. At different points this season, Springer, Marisnick, and Rasmus have all been out, and yet we saw none of Robbie Grossman or LJ Hoes, despite solid if not very good performance at AAA Fresno. The Astros are trying to win games without their best guys out there, and still those two, among others, toil away at Fresno. This tells me one of two things, if not both: 1) The Astros do not think either man makes this team better, even when depleted by injuries; and 2) there are too many OF players with at least replacement level ability at the top of our system.

Enter, the Cincinnati Reds.

Given that Jay Bruce is also likely on his way out of Cincy, there’s an outfield spot open for the winning in Cincy. They could likely take their pick of Houston OF prospects, with probably only Preston Tucker being held with a slightly tighter grip. Jonathan Singleton/Chris Carter have been at times below replacement level, and do not look like guys who absolutely must be on this team if we are to make the playoffs. Remember Nolan Fontana? Still somewhat well-regarded by Luhnow and co, he’s a guy who will be looking to earn a 40-man spot over the next year.

But what about the undoubtedly high asking price the Reds have on Cueto? They’ll surely want quality as well as quantity right? Brett Phillips, Danry Vasquez, Mark Appel, Tony Kemp, and Colin Moran are very well-regarded as prospects, yet do not seem to have cemented themselves in Houston’s future plans. Some combination of them and the aforementioned OF surplus will make this deal happen.

Finally, why this deal will not happen…

Jeff Luhnow has worked wonders with the organization he inherited a few years ago. But even with the depth of the farm system accumulated, and even with Altuve, Springer, Keuchel, and Correa rising to prominence, most around the league and even most around this blog did not count on the Astros threatening MLB with contention for another year or two. This was supposed to build off of last year’s 70-win effort, hopefully pushing us to the brink of .500 baseball. Anything more than that was icing on a fine ass cake. And that is why, no matter how this season ends, it will be a huge win for Luhnow and keep him employed with this team for 3 more years easy.

Jeff Luhnow could make a deal for Cueto, selling off some of the Astros farm’ s prized possessions for a short-term shot at triumph. But that isn’t the Luhnow way, at least it hasn’t been to this point. This season has already been a success, and it’s time to start moving towards that 2017 World Series title he covets. He won’t risk losing a potential star(s) to gain one for two months. Luhnow is Frankenstein, and he isn’t yet done building his monster.

Luhnow likes the slow burn, the building wave, and his quantity over high quality approach has led to his success and to his current predicament with the AAA outfield and to a lesser extent with the future of the 40-man roster. This is the code that got us here, and we will live by it. We will also die by it. For better or for worse, this is who the Astros organization is now.

Finally, He won’t pull the trigger on a deal for Cueto because it’s highly unlikely the Astros will be able to retain him. Now, on this point, I am less ardent than some, who see it as a no doubt rental-only for Cueto given his likely money demands combined with his injury history.

If it were me, I’d pull the trigger in a second, giving up Tucker/Santana, Phillips (his loss hurts the most), Appel, and Fontana for two months of Cueto (I don’t want to speculate took much on who’d be going to Cincy in return; suffice it to say it will be ALOT), then I’d offer him $25 mil over 5 years to stay and win with us. I’m crazy like that. Luhnow is not. Yet, despite my preference, I’m not entirely sure he is wrong to pass on Cueto. No matter what deal is or isn’t made, the one thing we know for sure is that this Astros team has not one half the potential of the Astros of 2017, 2018, and so on.

Those are my thoughts. I’d prefer it if you don’t hate this, but I decided I can’t care too much about what others think, so…. What do yall think? Should we pull the trigger on Cueto for a rental if it means giving up some serious talent?

Mark, please delete the above article. I meant to delete a few expletives but got too busy. My apologies and thank you.

Reds “Prepared To Trade” Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake
MLB Trade Rumors
By Steve Adams [July 17, 2015 at 9:51am CDT]
Now that this week’s All-Star festivities in Cincinnati have come to a close, the Reds are prepared to trade right-handers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Both longtime Reds hurlers are eligible for free agency at season’s end.

While Morosi’s report is not necessarily unexpected news — many reports over the past few months have indicated that Cincinnati was loath to sell major pieces prior to hosting the Midsummer Classic — it does serve as confirmation that the team won’t deviate from its expected course. The Reds currently sit eight games under .500 at 39-47, placing them 15.5 games behind the Cardinals for the NL Central lead and 7.5 games back in the NL Wild Card race.

Cueto figures to be among the most desirable trade chips on this year’s summer market, if not the most desirable trade chip. The 29-year-old is as appealing a target as one could hope for in a rental — a pure ace that is enjoying an excellent season and signed to an affordable contract. Cueto’s worked to a 2.73 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 44.2 percent ground-ball rate in 118 2/3 innings this season. He’s earning a relatively modest $10MM salary in 2015, of which about $4.37MM remains.

Leake, 27, is not as high-profile a target but still carries a good deal of value to teams looking to stabilize the middle or back end of their rotations. The former No. 8 overall pick is sporting a 4.08 ERA with 6.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 53 percent ground-ball rate in 114 2/3 innings with the Reds this season. His collective work over the two most recent full seasons has been impressive; despite pitching half his games in the hitters’ paradise that is Great American Ball Park, Leake has worked to a 3.54 ERA and averaged 203 innings, helping to establish himself as a solid mid-rotation cog. Leake is earning $9.775MM in 2015, and he’s still owed about $4.27MM of that sum.

Given the willingness to part with Cueto and Leake, it would stand to reason that other impending free agents are also available in trades as well. That could include Marlon Byrd (who has a vesting option for 2016), catcher Brayan Pena and lefty reliever Manny Parra. More interesting, however, are right fielder Jay Bruce and closer Aroldis Chapman. Both have been rumored to be available and could potentially return a significant haul for what appears to be a rebuilding Reds club. Chapman’s controlled through 2016 and could see his salary clear $11MM this offseason, though that’s unlikely to give pause to many of his suitors. Bruce is under control through 2016 for a guaranteed $13.5MM, but a club option means that he could be controlled for $25.5MM from 2016-17 (plus the remaining $5.25MM on his 2015 salary).

I really think the Reds will and should get a major haul on these guys especially if they will trade not only Cueto, but Bruce and Chap. If they could send a couple of these guys to help Houston they may really get a strong group of prospects. Houston has too many right now. A Cueto and Bruce package would bring 4 major league ready players at least….

TD: 336 hours and counting. Baseball tonight. Go Reds.

MLB Trade Rumors
Reds Prefer Not To Package Cueto, Chapman In Same Trade
By Steve Adams [July 17, 2015 at 3:21pm CDT]
The Reds are reportedly prepared to trade both Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, but while there’s been a good deal of speculation about the possibility of packaging Cueto and closer Aroldis Chapman, the team is not presently entertaining the notion, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. If the Reds do decide to make Chapman available — and based on Nightengale’s wording, there’s been no decision on that front yet — the preference would be to move the pair in separate transactions.

There’s less motivation for the Reds to move Chapman in the coming two weeks than there is for the team to move Cueto and Leake, as Chapman still has one season of team control remaining beyond the current campaign. Of course, that season will be an expensive one. Chapman’s earning $8.05MM in 2015 and is due a raise in arbitration this winter. Given his brilliant numbers — 32 saves, 1.69 ERA, 65-to-20 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings — it’s easy to envision his price tag soaring into the $11-12MM range. Chapman did, after all, receive a $3.05MM raise this past offseason on the strength of similar numbers in 2014.

It would seem to me that if the plan is to trade Cueto and Leake at peak value, then moving Chapman is a reasonable step as well. His value certainly goes down following the season — he’ll have less team control and a higher price tag — and the 2016 season could be one of transition for the Reds. He’d still fetch a haul this winter or even next July, but when considering the number of teams needing bullpen help and the lack of clear sellers on the market, it’s easy to see that Chapman would be among the game’s most coveted trade targets.

Hope Leake solidifies his trade value tonight.
Lineup(some things remain the same):
1.2B: Brandon Phillips
2.1B: Joey Votto
3.3B: Todd Frazier
4.RF: Jay Bruce
5.LF: Marlon Byrd
6.SS: Eugenio Suarez
7.C: Tucker Barnhart
8.SP: Mike Leake
9.CF: Billy Hamilton

From MLB Trade Rumors…
With the Reds expected to trade so many veterans to other clubs, many in the industry expect the team to make a run at extending Todd Frazier beyond his current two-year deal, Heyman writes. (Frazier has one more year of arbitration following his current pact.) Jeff Todd and I have discussed Frazier’s situation on the MLBTR Podcast in the past (and will do so again this afternoon), and I’ve personally taken the stance that given the significant commitments to Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, the Reds could have a difficult time affording Frazier, whose 2014-15 breakout has hugely inflated his price tag. Given the lack of impact bats on the trade market, Frazier would net a king’s ransom and could rapidly expedite the rebuilding process, though the PR hit of trading him with so much control and on the heels of a Home Run Derby victory would of course be significant.
In other Reds news, Heyman hears Mike Leake‘s ground-ball tendencies are appealing to AL East clubs, and he’s drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in addition to the Royals, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. Manny Parra and Marlon Byrd are both “likely to go” as well.

Inside Baseball: Dodgers aim for Cueto, Hamels; Rangers in on Cole, too
JON HEYMAN
Baseball Insider
July 17, 2015 10:26 am ET
The Dodgers, baseball’s financial powerhouse, look like a major player this trading season, maybe the major player among the buyers. They’ve quietly continued having dialogue with the Phillies about ace left-hander Cole Hamels, and are also looking seriously into the rental market, with Reds ace Johnny Cueto their top target there.

The Dodgers appear determined to land one top pitcher to join with three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and All-Star Game starter Zack Greinke in a potentially devastating playoff rotation, and one of Hamels or Cueto are most likely to fill that need.

While one AL executive suggested a week ago that the Phillies haven’t yet “bent” on their Hamels demands since Andy MacPhail joined their front office to lead them, two other executives, using similar terminology, now say the Phillies have seemed somewhat more “reasonable” in their recent trade talks, and sources suggest there’s word of some potential progress with at least the Dodgers and Rangers. Phillies scouts have been dispatched to check out multiple systems, including those of LA and Texas.

In the Dodgers’ case, Philly was said to have previously insisted on at least one of the Dodgers’ top-two prospects, who happened to be two of the very best in baseball — shortstop Corey Seager or young lefty Julio Urias — but at least now appears to be considering other possible Dodger scenarios. Rivals all seem to agree that Seager and Urias are too good to trade, and further suggested that the Dodgers’ system is deep enough to land Hamels, anyway.

One GM also said the Phillies have come off their request of “four or five” big prospects for Hamels, who’s been the lone ace on the market (that is soon to change with Cueto thought only moments from entering the trading block). However, a rival GM also suggested that Philly should receive at least one prime prospect back, if not one the likes of Seager and Urias.

The Dodgers already look like a World Series possibility with their incredible positional depth and the best one-two pitching punch in the game, but if they get either Cueto or Hamels they’ll be the odds-on favorite, as “they’d undoubtedly have the best playoff rotation going,” one scout remarked.

One reason Hamels especially appeals to the Dodgers is their assumption that Greinke will opt out of a deal that has $71 million over three years remaining. While Greinke hasn’t publicly commented on the opt-out, and is said to love manager Don Mattingly, that call to opt out is basically a fait accompli. He is also said to be fond of Kershaw and much of the clubhouse (though not all of it; as Molly Knight pointed out in her new book, “The Best Team Money Can Buy,” Greinke hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with Yasiel Puig). There’s little other choice considering his otherworldly performance against everyone but his cross-town friend Mike Trout.

Cole Hamels

Though Dodgers people believe Greinke generally likes LA, and might stay with the inducement of an added year or two (and some dollars), there is some suspicion, too, that the Orlando-area native Greinke, following stays with two teams in the midwest and two on the west coast, might not mind coming east, too.

Cueto, meanwhile, remains the Dodgers’ main rental target. The Astros, who also have Cueto atop their list and possess many fine prospects, much like the Dodgers, had multiple scouts at some of Cueto’s recent starts. The Reds signaled before the break that they expect to seriously start selling after the All-Star Game, which was a big hit in Cincinnati, and the beloved Cueto, following a blowup after his early removal from his recent start in Miami, is said to be ready to go.

While Cueto topped out at 93 in Miami, Dodgers people like him very much. “He knows how to pitch,” one LA person said.

Johnny Cueto

The Dodgers may consider Jeff Samardzija, too, but beyond that the White Sox are presumed likely to delay a possible sale at least a week after some much improved play. LA people figure that while Samardzija could enhance their current postseason pitching set-up, they view him as more of a “two/three” type starter. They like him, but don’t love him — at least not as much as Hamels and Cueto. Beyond that, they could look at others, too, like Cueto’s teammate Mike Leake, who seems very popular on the trade market, and Oakland’s Scott Kazmir.

The Dodgers, while appreciating the surprising rotation performances of Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias to date, may consider adding two starters, though it’s more likely to be just one ace type and one mid-rung starter if they do. If they do import a second hurler, it’d be interesting to see if they consider old friend Dan Haren, who is available, performing well and anxious to get back to Southern California for personal family reasons; they also know he’d fit in nicely with Kershaw and Greinke, who they hope to keep.

Nothing can be assumed off-limits at this point for the rich and creative Dodgers, who already have a record $270-million-plus payroll, a very deep team from a positional standpoint and some interesting prospects — though at this point, there’s no evidence a young superstar pitcher such as Chris Sale will be available, leaving Hamels and Cueto as the prime targets.

MLB Trade Rumors…
Newsday’s Marc Carig writes that while names like Justin Upton, Carlos Gomez and Jay Bruce would all have appeal to the Mets, each would also come with a steep prospect price. Such transactions aren’t commonplace for the Mets, Carig notes, but the addition of a versatile outfielder such as Will Venable or Gerardo Parra could help improve the club’s production at a lower cost. And, as ESPN’s Buster Olney notes (on Twitter), the Mets should be highly motivated to add pieces, as 17 of the team’s final 39 games come against a pair of selling clubs: the Phillies and Braves.
Sherman also hears that the Dodgers, Astros, Royals and Blue Jays are the four teams that are most aggressively trying to add pitching at this juncture (Twitter link). The Royals and Blue Jays scouted the Reds, who are said to be ready to move both Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, heavily after the break.

Good start to 2nd half. Loved Hamilton’s scoring play.

Giants bullpen catcher ‘never seen anything like’ Chapman
July 17, 2015, 5:15 pm
‘I struggled to catch him. Even deGrom, he’s 97-98, but it’s no problem. When it comes to Chapman, it’s totally different.’
— Giants bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu
That was the task put to Taira Uematsu, the Giants bullpen catcher who made the trip to Cincinnati and warmed up every National League pitcher from the second inning on. Uematsu caught Gerrit Cole, who tops out at 100 mph, and Jacob deGrom, who regularly sits at 97, but he said there isn’t another pitcher in the league who is in Chapman’s class. Asked what it was like, Uematsu laughed as he gave a two-word quote not fit for print.
“He’s just different from everybody else,” Uematsu said. “He was throwing way harder than deGrom, Cole, (Clayton) Kershaw — all those guys. I struggled to catch him. Even deGrom, he’s 97-98, but it’s no problem. When it comes to Chapman, it’s totally different. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Neither had the Mets’ bullpen catcher. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner told Uematsu that Chapman’s first warm-up pitch at the 2013 game in New York was so firm that it took the glove right off the hand of the bullpen catcher at Citi Field. “Since he told me that, I was ready mentally,” Uematsu said.
Chapman, the Reds closer, struck out the side in his inning of work Tuesday, hitting 100 mph on 12 of his 14 pitches and topping out at 103. The task of warming him up was made tougher by the fact that Chapman can be wild, especially in the bullpen. Uematsu mimicked reaching high to grab many of Chapman’s 20 warm-up pitches and said an employee in the bullpen at Great American Ball Park said Chapman regularly fires a few of his warm-up throws off the wall behind his catcher.
The rest of the night was a little easier, although warming up pitchers for eight straight innings on a July night in Cincinnati left Uematsu dehydrated. He enjoyed catching Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez because K-Rod had pitched in the 2007 game in San Francisco and Uematsu, then the bullpen catcher for Triple-A Fresno, was brought up to help out during that All-Star Game. “He threw much harder then,” he said of Rodriguez.
Buster Posey caught Zack Greinke’s warm-up pitches and then Uematsu, who is in his eighth year with the Giants, warmed up Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Kershaw, deGrom, Rodriguez, Mark Melancon and Chapman. He said deGrom, Cole, Bumgarner and Kershaw stood out with the way they consistently hit his glove and kept the ball down, and Kershaw’s raw stuff was more impressive from behind the plate than it looks from the dugout, where Uematsu has watched him baffle the Giants over and over again. Uematsu said Kershaw and Chapman were especially tough because they’re tall, long and they hide the ball well.
“Kershaw threw one curveball that looked like it stopped in the air and then dropped down,” he said. “I felt like I was catching (Barry) Zito’s curveball … except he throws harder.”

Couple of Mike Leake quotes…
“It is more likely that I’ll be traded than stay,” Leake said. “It (stinks) that we’ve had the season we did, but if I am traded, I’m eager to pitch for a winner.”
“I don’t think about being traded when I’m on the mound,” Leake said. “I’m just trying to give these guys all I’ve got like I have for six years. It is more of a motivator.”

He’s eager to pitch for a winner. That says a lot. Tells me the Reds won’t be able to sign him regardless. So they better get something for him while they can.

312 hours to do it in.

Todays lineup:
1.2B: Brandon Phillips
2.1B: Joey Votto
3.3B: Todd Frazier
4.RF: Jay Bruce
5.LF: Marlon Byrd
6.C: Brayan Pena
7.SS: Eugenio Suarez
8.SP: Anthony DeSclafani
9.CF: Billy Hamilton

From MLBTR:By Brad Johnson [July 18, 2015 at 4:09pm CDT]

The Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Red Sox are among the clubs still interested in Cole Hamels, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. Boston is expected to scout Hamels’ start tomorrow, and we can assume other clubs will have a heavy presence as well. Talks with the Rangers aren’t dead, but Texas does expect other teams to make a better offer.

Interestingly, we’ve recently seen speculation that the Phillies could opt to keep Hamels past the July deadline. Other clubs wonder if uncertainty in the front office has hampered their ability to finalize a deal. As Rosenthal notes, Jonathan Papelbon should have been traded by now. Here’s more from Rosenthal:
•Health will affect the markets of Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir. Both hurlers have missed time with various ailments and will be free agents at the end of the season. It can be difficult to justify trading a talented prospect for 12 starts, especially when the player involved is at an increased risk to not make those starts.
•Short of an impressive streak in the second half, Pat Murphy is unlikely to manage the Padres next season. Rosenthal suggests that the culture change from Bud Black was too great. Murphy could join Craig Counsell‘s staff in Milwaukee if he is relieved of his duties.
•As we now know, the Astros are open to adding a bat at the trade deadline. One star they’ve scouted is Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. Houston prefers a right-handed hitter, but may target lefty swinging Gerardo Parra due to a lower acquisition price. The Astros are open to trade Jon Singleton.

Well Bob C. You got what you always wanted the All-Star game, etc. When will Reds fans get what you promised when you bought the team??? A World Series Championship???? Brewers are starting to play well not far from making your team a last place team. How you going to get fans to buy tickets to watch the laughing stock of the Central in 2016-2017??? GRRR

From MLBTR: By Brad Johnson [July 18, 2015 at 10:04pm CDT]

The Reds have opened the doors on a fire sale, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Todd Frazier will stay put. Billy Hamilton probably isn’t going anywhere. Most others are probably on the table. Fay expects at least four players to be traded, presumably Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and Marlon Byrd as a starting point. Others like Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Skip Schumaker are also expected to be shopped. The Reds are seven games below .500 and 15.5 games back in the NL Central. It’s probably too late for a rebound.

Are there any rumors of a Marlon Byrd trade? Please?

Not that I’m aware of, just that he is available. MLBTR reporting that LA Angels are interested in Bruce but nothing immenent.

What’s the hold up? Every time the Reds run a trading-block pitcher out there is a round of Russian Roulette.

I think we’re all going to be disappointed in what we get for Leake and Cueto. Reality is that Reds should have traded Cueto in the offseason after he rejected their offer. Could have gotten a lot in return. Same goes for Leake as the Reds seemed to not be serious in extending him.

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