Chapman traded to Yankees

Continuing an effort to rebuild by accumulating prospects and young talent, the Reds traded All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees on Monday for four Minor Leaguers.

 

The deal brought Cincinnati right-handed pitchers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis, third baseman Eric Jagielo and infielder Tony Renda.

Read the full story on MLB.com here.

 

 

 

86 Comments

The first two named pitchers, Cotham and Davis, are certainly less than impressive in their backgrounds. More “prospects”. Don’t know about the last two. Looks as if
Chapman’s value took a big hit. And the Reds had little patience. Time will tell.
But they certainly dumped payroll. (Can they afford to compete today?)

Burning down the house continues Reds Fans. Aroldis thanks for being on the our team.
We will miss you. If you had chosen to be a starter and you’d be richer than rich. Thanks for the memories

once again the reds get hosed in a trade. sorry but when you trade the best closer in the game you should get one of the top 4 prospects the yankees have in return. at best they got a guy who was ranked 10th best in the system and who is said to have a great arm. so far in 3 years that arm has not advanced past A ball! the other guys you will never hear of again. only the reds could screw up a rebuild this bad! to get nothing in return for the players they gave up and will give up is an insult to reds fans. if you say judge it in 3-5 years that means the reds have already lost the deal. they gave up the best reliever in the game for somebody who may or may not help them in 5 years!

Right on, RedsFan1. You got that right!

Eric Jagielo | Rank: 6 (Preseason: 8)
Team: Trenton Thunder (AA) ETA: 2017
Position: 3B Age: 23 DOB: 05/17/1992
Bats: L Throws: R Height: 6′ 2″ Weight: 215 lb.
Drafted: 2013, 1st (26) – NYY

Other Lists: Top 10 3B Prospects (#7)
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 60 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Jagielo offered some of the best left-handed pop available in the 2013 Draft, so the Yankees made him their first of three first-round selections and signed him for $1,839,400. New York hadn’t taken a college position player in the first round since John-Ford Griffin in 2001 before choosing Jagielo at No. 26 and Aaron Judge at No. 32.

Jagielo has provided the power that was expected of him, slamming 24 homers in 147 games during his first two years as a pro. He’s strong and features good loft in his swing, allowing him to drive the ball to all fields. His tendency to swing and miss may preclude him from hitting for a high average, but he does draw enough walks to post healthy on-base percentages.

With well below-average speed and just average arm strength, Jagielo still has to prove he can stay at the hot corner. Some scouts think he’s better suited for first base, though he’s already the Yankees’ most advanced third-base prospect and won’t move anytime soon. He was hit in the face by a pitch during instructional league, fracturing the zygomatic arch near his left eye and requiring surgery, but shouldn’t have any long-term issues.
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Rookie Davis | Rank: 10 (Preseason: 23)
Team: New York Yankees ETA: 2017
Position: RHP Age: 22 DOB: 04/29/1993
Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6′ 5″ Weight: 245 lb.
Drafted: 2011, 14th (449) – NYY

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
The burly Davis offered huge raw power as a North Carolina high schooler, but teams preferred him on the mound. The Yankees were part of that consensus, making him a full-time pitcher after paying him $550,000 as a 14th-round pick in 2011. His development has been slow, as he had yet to climb above low Class A three years later, but he has one of the best arms among starting prospects in the system.

Davis usually operates at 92-94 mph and can reach 96 with his fastball, which has some cutting action that makes it even more difficult to hit. He spins a hard curveball that shows promise as a second pitch. His changeup will fade and dive at times, though it can be too firm at times.

Davis exhibits decent control but spotty command. His best long-term role could be as a reliever, and his fastball might approach triple digits in shorter stints.

Thanks, Neb. Great background piece. You filled us in on what we feared……not much in return for the best reliever in the game. Jocketty and his minion MUST go!

Article dated June 6, 2012…By Zack Alspaugh ,Bleacher Report…
I have had the pleasure of watching Tony Renda play, not just during his tenure at California but while he played in high school as well. He may not have the imposing the 6’5” 220 lb frame, or the clout of a 96 mph fastball as some of the other players in this year’s draft.

But no one has the heart, the work ethic, or professionalism that this kid brings to the table. There is no doubt in my mind that Renda will be an every-day second baseman, in Washington or somewhere else, and put together a very long and solid career in the big leagues.

Read any draft prospect scouting report and the brief write-up will undoubtedly draw the expected comparisons to former MVP Dustin Pedroia. While they match in size and position, their personalities are totally different. Pedroia is known to be loud and fiery.

As Jockbio.com describes him “a small man with a big personality—and an equally big swing—Dustin can be hard to take, especially if you’re rooting against him.” Renda seems to emulate Buster Posey more, a strong silent leader, mature for his age and, of course, a great swing.

Like Posey, Renda is short to contact with a strong up the middle approach. He has quick hands, a great inside out swing and the ability to spray to all gaps.

As his numbers will show Renda can hit for average but packs a surprising amount of power, especially to his pull side. This season he batted an impressive .342 with 16 2B, five HR and 27 RBI. Both his slugging percentage and on-base percentage were well above .400, and just this week he surpassed Xavier Nady for sixth all-time on Cal’s hit list with 244 (the only third year player).

Eugene Lau / The Daily Californian
“He has decent speed but is an instinctual runner who can stretch singles into doubles and swiped 38 bags over his career.”

With the glove, he gets it done too. Renda sports a .947 fielding average and has a strong arm. He is penciled in at 2B but has the range for short and the arm for third. If he can’t find a starting role at second, Renda can easily take the utility player route. However, I think his bat will earn him a spot in any lineup.

But what the scouting reports or stat sheets won’t offer is Renda’s tenacity. He is a pit-bull of a competitor, strong-willed and will stop at nothing when it comes to helping his team. Last year when the Golden Bears, on the brink of losing their baseball program to budget cuts,

Renda as a sophomore took form as team leader, winning Pac-10 player of the year and making a miraculous run in the College World Series. He did all of this despite a nagging hamstring injury and the recent loss of his father.

And if you were to ask him what the key to his success was, he would modestly attribute it to his teammates. In an interview with the New York Times he said, “You’ve got 30 brothers on the team who are right there by your side…It was kind of the first sign this year that, through all things, we were going to stick together and be there for each other.”

Faith Buchanon / The Daily Californian
“What most striking about Renda, more so than his stats, accolades or records, is the way he conducts himself. He is a very mature young man, humble and has respect for the game. He is always hustling, whether it is up the line or back to the dugout after a strike out.”

In the seven years I have watched him play, not once have I ever seen him argue a call or show up an umpire. MLB.com draft expert Jonathan Mayo said, “His makeup might be what makes him stand out the most, the kind of player a team loves to have.”

Earlier this week he went in the second round to the Washington Nationals (80th pick overall), which favors Renda’s chances to making it. They are an organization that is on the up and favors young talent. They wasted no time in calling up Strasburg or Harper.

Granted Renda doesn’t have the repute these two prospects carried with them as first overall picks, but if he puts together an impressive campaign in the minors he could jump to the top of their prospects list and be playing in Nationals Ballpark within two years.

Washington at second base has some solid but not stand out prospects, and a very average starter in Danny Espinosa. Mayo writes, “Renda might not be Kolten Wong, but it’s hard to ignore the success he’s had at Cal.”

It is a long road to the majors and many don’t make it. However, I think Renda with a good head on his shoulders and impeccable perseverance will be well on his way. Many top prospects find themselves shell-shocked when they don’t immediately succeed. This won’t be the case for Renda.

In the 18th inning at Sunken Diamond against the Super Regionals destined Stanford, Renda himself at the wrong end of a seven-at-bat night, with no hits. When most hitters would want to curl up and hide in the bat rack, Renda dug deep and hit a game-winning RBI single to center. He didn’t give up then and he won’t give up ever.

All of these aspects lead me to believe that Tony Renda has what it takes to be the stand out in this year’s amateur draft.
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Full Name: Tony Renda
Age: 24 (January 24, 1991)
Birthplace: Santa Rosa, CA
Bats/Throws: R/R Ht: 5′ 8″ Wt: 175
Draft: Round 2 (2012, WSH)
School: California
5 years in the minors
.285 .360 .366 .726
440G
1710AB
626TB
103DBL
9TPL
6HR
174RBI
185BB
196SO
87SB
20CS
1.50GO/AO

Thanks for you continued background ck. on one of the prospects, Neb. But, what you have here is a 5 ft. 8 in., 175 lb. infielder. Dustin Pedroia is an exceptional throw-back who is an in-your-face hard-nosed player with surprising pop in his bat. I don’t see this in Renda. In college, OK. But in the MLB, ????. The background piece you have quoted is now dated. Maybe he succeeds as a utility infielder. But as a principal in a trade for Chapman? Forget it. The Reds gave Chapman away……for lack of patience. Get rid of the current admin. -that means Jocketty and his lackey, the “new” GM. Walt was just solidifying his position with the club. He is past his prime…..the Cardinals knew that, but the Reds are slow on the uptake.

New York Yankees: Caleb Cotham recalled from AAA
Outside Pitch
Daniel Federico July 29, 2015
The New York Yankees reliever carousel continued Wednesday afternoon, as pitcher Caleb Cotham was recalled from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in place of Chris Capuano, who was designated for assignment earlier today.

Cotham is the latest bullpen arm to join the pinstripes, as General Manager Brian Cashman has utilized minor league options to his advantage, as he’s expanded his 25-man roster into 30.

Although Cotham is making his first trip to the major leagues tonight, the relatively unknown reliever has spent years in the Yankees minor league system.

After being selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2009 Amateur draft, Cotham had a brief three game showcase between rookie and A ball that year before a shoulder injury took him out for the majority of the 2010 season.

From 2011-2014, Cotham both pitched as a starter and a reliever, which garnered mixed results. Although he went from rookie ball all the way to the AAA level in four years, he never seemed to garner traction as a potential major league piece. Cotham’s combined 13-19 record and 3.84 earned run average – with 54 of his 82 total appearances as a starter – didn’t seem too bad as someone who translated as a reliever at the major league level. However, his hits (325) opposed to his innings pitched (302.1) were a major cause for concern.

Fortunately for Cotham, his 2015 season has been his best to date.

Splitting time between the AA and AAA levels, Cotham has become a force for both teams’ bullpens. For the Thunder, Cotham compiled a 4-2 record while pitching to a 2.77 ERA. His overall work has improved, as he gave up only 20 hits in 26 innings, while striking out 31 as opposed to eight walks.

If his AA success wasn’t enough, he has been even better at the AAA level. Cotham has been one of the best arms in the RailRiders bullpen – he has a great 22:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio, has only given up 15 hits in 19.2 innings and sported a 1.37 ERA in 12 appearances.

At 27-years old, Cotham has been a late bloomer in his big league career. However, it doesn’t matter; the righty will now be a part of one of the best teams in baseball.
(I could say something right here, but I won’t)
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Full Name: Caleb Kent Cotham
Age: 28 (November 6, 1987)
Birthplace: Mt. Juliet, TN
Bats/Throws: R/R Ht: 6′ 3″ Wt: 215
Draft: Round 5 (2009, NYY)
MLB Debut: 07/29/2015
School: Vanderbilt

What a fall in value from A/S break to today if this was the best they could get for Chapman. Could have waited until A/S break in 2016. Can’t imagine doing worse than this. Very sad!

Unless they trade some of these “PROSPECTS ” for some major league ready talent , this team is 8 years away . It may be longer the way the Reds develop and bring up their minor league players . We’ll just have to wait and see . Lol

Right on the mark, TOW. Sad, indeed.

It seems to me the Reds won’t lose much in offense. They’ve lost Frazier, but I think Suarez will hit for a higher average with about half the number of home runs. I look for his obp to be somewhat higher than Frasier’s. I believe the infield is set. If they trade Bruce I’m sure the Reds can find someone to hit 40 points higher than Bruce’s 2 year average of .220. The home runs Bruce hit were a lot of solo shots. They will miss the fielding and arm of Bruce’s. I would think less than a .270 + average or a .375 obp by mid season for Hamilton would be a good reason to send him somewhere else. He doesn’t provide enough average or obp. He is an outstanding fielder. I’m sure a real treat would be a good hitter for left field and that could be Winkler.
If the starters could give 6-7 innings….whoever they may be, but it’s important that there are 7 very good relievers. The kids that started last season, for the most part did pretty good for 5 innings. It was the 6th and sometimes 7th inning that did them in. Of course, the relievers usually demonstrated how really bad they were and most of them are now gone.
I hope someone tells Mesoroco he doesn’t have to hit a home run each time he bats…a single or double, or a walk is just fine. He’s going to hurt himself with that “home run swing”.

Jocketty is dumber than I thought. Pitchers and infielders are all good for Louisville. Yhis guy has to be the worlds worst GM

To me Chapman is the one that messed this all up with his off the field behavior. This is a good gamble for the Yankees and gives them a top of the line bullpen. If Chapman is suspended for 45 days or more then the Yankees get him for an extra year before free agency. This whole thing just points out how small-market teams are penalized under major-league baseball’s present day financial set up.

The problem is Jocketty got nothing and the Yanks got Cubs number 1 prospect for him. Jock sucks

Right on, ronton15. You hit the bulls-eye.

I can’t wait to see these guys play. I sure hope they are better than Holmberg. Brandon time to take a flyer and get the heck out of dodge.

Brandon is an old-fashioned loyalty plus employee. The fans will rally around him…..even if Jocketty et al do not. At least we have some worthwhile players left to watch. (They will get rid of him as soon as they can.)

Loyalty my A**. Greed and noteriety are what Brandon is about. Great player on the field but…………….

Lets quit the crying about small market and payroll. Its the organization’s responsibility to have talent in the pipeline. Besides Chapman what young stud has walt and co. signed. Ok Mike take a Leake. Who else.

The Reds have now stockpiled MANY mediocre pitchers in their system. Of what use? They have VERY little positions players worth a d–n. And they continue to trade for pitching “prospects”. What genius is fomenting this “development plan”
Other than Winker, who do they have that is close to being MLB ready? Get real.

Right on the money Redsfan1 .

Well destruction of the Reds is complete now but then what did you expect from someone who came from St Louis I’ve been a fan since 1958 but not sure I will get MLB to watch them this year

Excerpt from article at FanGraphs; Jeff Sullivan…
And speaking of compensation picks, there’s the matter of the Reds’ return, here. They’re not walking away with nothing. We can assume the package they would’ve gotten from the Dodgers was superior, but there’s some value here, so it’s not like this is a salary and headache dump. The prospects are led by Jagielo and Davis. Jagielo, to me, feels like the equivalent of a compensation pick. The kind of player the Yankees could pick back up in a year and a half, if things went down that path. Jagielo was taken 26th overall in 2013, and he’s shown real power, but his strikeouts are elevated, and a leg injury has done nothing for his defense at third base, which was already questionable. So Jagielo is bat-first, with injury issues. Davis is a decently hard-throwing righty starter who last year cracked Double-A. He showed good improvement in his command in High-A before getting promoted, and he could have a definite future. Observers have said good things about his curveball, and even if he were bumped to relief, his heater could get to the high-90s.

Cotham is a tweener-prospect because he’s already 28. But he’s a big-league-capable reliever with a fastball and a slider, and this past season he adjusted well to the bullpen. He should throw plenty of innings for the Reds in 2016, and perhaps in the years beyond that. Finally, Renda is a second baseman with six career home runs. He’s more of a bat-control type, but it seems like any future is on the bench. He’s the clear fourth piece, and you can’t expect much from a fourth piece in a trade for a one-year player.

Obviously, the Reds didn’t get what they would’ve liked. They didn’t get what they could’ve gotten were it not for the off-field story. But there was nothing for them to do about that, so they decided to move on and sell Chapman for what they could. With the market diminished, the Yankees moved in, with little to lose and plenty to gain. Again, if it weren’t for the incident, this would set the Yankees up for a wildly entertaining bullpen project, the likes of which we’ve never seen. All that stuff is still true, but our perspective is complicated, and maybe this seems less entertaining than it could’ve. Maybe eventually it comes out that Chapman didn’t try to hurt anybody, but I don’t blame you if you’re something less than jazzed. However you feel is justifiable. However you feel next summer will be justifiable. Don’t feel bad because you think everyone else has it all figured out, because none of us do. We all just try to deal with the news.

Chapman trade: Initial thoughts
Posted on 12/28/2015 by STEVE MANCUSO
This post is narrow. It’s just a few early musings about today’s trade. It doesn’t address the Reds off-season taken all together. That can wait for a little while. Over the next couple days, we’ll run detailed scouting reports of the players the Reds got in return for Chapman.

I also can’t promise this stream of consciousness forms a coherent point.

1. The timing of this trade was surprising. Chapman is being investigated by Major League Baseball for his involvement in a domestic incident in late October. The outcome of that proceeding is highly uncertain because this is a brand new process for MLB. They could treat Chapman harshly to send a message. They could let him off without much punishment since no charges were pressed. (We’ve also heard – from Jim Bowden, fwiw – that Chapman’s girlfriend isn’t going to talk to MLB which works strongly in Chapman’s favor). We don’t even know what “harsh” and “lenient” mean in this context, since it’s all new. And MLB has to be concerned with losing an early case over their new authority on appeal (see Goodell, R; and Brady, T). To add to the uncertainty, we don’t know when MLB will rule on Chapman.

If Chapman is largely exonerated – say MLB’s punishment is aimed at his gun misuse, not the alleged domestic violence – his market value should go up considerably. He wouldn’t be wearing a new domestic violence label, at least that’s what a team could say. If Chapman is punished by MLB for domestic violence, he becomes all the more toxic to any potential trade partner. Maybe the Reds weren’t willing to take that chance and grabbed a deal now. What a mess.

2. The low return isn’t all the Reds fault (sorta). It isn’t the Reds fault that Chapman’s value was hurt by his domestic incident, causing the Dodgers’ deal to collapse. It is their fault that there is only one year left on his contract. They could have moved him last summer at the trade deadline. We have no way to know if the offers were better in July than in December. Given the interest from several teams in July, I’d guess yes (since 1.5 > 1). In terms of pennant races and post-seasons, you’re talking 2 > 1. The longer you wait, the more that can go wrong. It did. And, of course, the organization’s serial mistake to keep him in the bullpen hurts his value (200 > 60).

3. It’s worse than it looks stacking up the players. While a couple of the players the Reds got in return for Chapman look promising, keep in mind that the Yankees have a good chance of earning a compensation pick for Chapman at the end of 2016 when he becomes a free agent. That makes the Reds return look worse. They weren’t just trading the best closer in baseball, they were trading a pretty good draft pick, too.

4. It wasn’t a salary dump. The Chapman trade can be looked at several ways, but it wasn’t a salary dump. Unlike last year, the Reds aren’t under any payroll pressure. They cleared salary with the Frazier trade and their previous commitments added up to less than they were spending last year. There is ZERO chance the Reds will be able to spend as much money on payroll in 2016 as they did in 2014 and 2015. If the Reds were motivated to take less for Chapman out of eagerness to save the money, none of us should show up next year. But I don’t think that’s what happened.

5. He’s finally gone. I wrote a few weeks ago that I’d feel relieved when they traded Chapman. Pretty sure by tomorrow morning, that will be the case.

See I dont get the compensation pick, if its not a salary dump then either you need to get value for the compensation pick or keep him to get the compensation pick. I am for the first time very concerned about the reds choices. We are trading away people just to trade at this point. Why not wait till this Chapman thing blows over and is completed, he continues to dominate as always and trade him mid season? You lose the compensation pick but might get more value than what they just got. And to go along with this same as Frazier, he is controlled for a while, I may be missing something but the prospects in return are not great and he would still have 1 and half years left at trade deadline with compensation pick as well. I feel like these last two trades the Reds are getting desperate. If they just would have traded both players as I had wanted at the trade deadline then we would have gotten much more. I know people say well that is hearsay but many other evaluators were expecting the same thing. The rebuild as we all know started a year late. I would have rather held on to both Frazier and Chap at this point because these prospects will just be fill ins anyway and are not apart of the solution. Our trading of starting pitching last year has been our only decent trades so far. I believer the Cueto trade will go down as the best of all. We got 3 starting pitchers off that trade, unbelievable value.

This trade, above all, seemed to have the trigger pulled prematurely. Depending on MLB’s outcome/decision, Chapman could be pushed back 1 year in order to achieve FA. And, based on how baseball normally plays out, Chapman would have been highly sought after in July 16′. Instead, we obtained a few possibles, but no slam dunks…and arguably for the best reliever in all of MLB. I realize that the Reds have great distaste and disdain for any player that delves into off field activities such as Chapman has been accused, but this move is a bit of a head scratcher.
We could have easily waited for a better set of players; and again, for a team that was contending mid-year but willing to obtain a key part in their bullpen with hopes of reaching the WS. Castellini has put all his cards in the hands of Jocketty…and I thought he would only trade for obvious quality, not partial and potential quality. Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised as judging the trade now is based solely on our individual opinions and not reality. The truth is that a trade can only be judged in the future, not the present nor the past.

I wasn’t “crying” about the small market and payroll but rather just stating a fact. As Pdoc said in his article today, “Baseball is broken”. Until it is fixed we will have just more of the same for the small market teams.

Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors…responds to question about whether Reds trade of Chapman was good or bad…
“Not even close, but the domestic violence allegations submarined his value. But, if that’s really all you’re going to get, I’d just as soon hold onto him to see if offers in July are better, and it not, take the comp pick, honestly.”

“I really can’t understand why they didn’t trade him — and Frazier, for that matter — in July. Sure there’s some hindsight in the mix now, but it was obvious back then that they were going to end up trading both eventually anyway, and we discussed and even advocated for as much on the MLBTR Podcast in early June.”

“They didn’t get nearly enough for either player, and the returns in July would’ve been enormous. I don’t get it.”

A few years back I dreamed of Cespedes or Upton batting clean up and playing LF…
here’s a fun article that we now can only dream about…a good argument…
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Free Agent Faceoff: Cespedes vs. Upton vs. Gordon
By Steve Adams | December 29, 2015 at 1:58pm CST

Few would’ve expected all three of Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon to remain on the free-agent market with just over two days of the calendar year remaining, but none of the trio has found a new team for the 2016 season at this juncture. With Jason Heyward off the board — and to a team, the Cubs, that didn’t figure to impact the corner outfield market anyhow — the market for the remaining top-tier outfielders should pick up in the not-too-distant future. Any of the three would represent a corner outfield upgrade for just about any team on the market, but each has points in his favor and points against, so let’s take a quick look at each outfielder.
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Upton: The youngest player of the trio in this discussion, Upton will play next season at just 28 years of age. He’s four years younger than Gordon and two years younger than Cespedes, meaning any team that signs him will be buying more of his prime than they would in signing one of his competitors. Upton was the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft, and while he hasn’t developed into the superstar projected by many scouts, he’s a well-above-average bat that could bolster any offense. Upton’s bat was about 20 percent better than the league average in 2015 with the Padres, and that gels with his career line. He’s averaged 25 homers and 148 games per season dating back to 2009 and does have one elite, superstar-caliber season (2011) under his belt. That year, he showed a glimpse of his true ceiling, hitting .289/.369/.529 with 31 homers and 21 steals. In the outfield, Upton is a solid, if unspectacular defender. He’s received positive marks in right field and left field from both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved, although neither considers him an elite defensive option. He’s the weakest defensive player of this trio but also shouldn’t hit a decline phase in that regard as soon as his two corner counterparts.
……………………

Cespedes: The only player of this bunch that isn’t tied to draft pick compensation, Cespedes also boasts the most power of the group. Upton’s .202 isolated power (slugging minus batting average) is impressive, but Cespedes’ career mark of .215 tops it, and his 2015 mark of .251 bests anything ever compiled by Upton or Gordon. Defensive metrics absolutely love Cespedes in left field, where has a penchant for highlight-reel throws and above-average range. Cespedes, though, has seen his walk rate decline in each of his big league seasons. His .328 OBP from 2016 is almost entirely a function of his .291 batting average, and if that mark regresses to his career level of .271 going forward, Cespedes could struggle to keep his OBP above .300. A player with his power, defense and speed can certainly add value in other ways, but a poor approach and lack of plate discipline will become more prounounced issues if his power begins to fade in the later stages of what could be a six- or seven-year contract.
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Gordon: At 32, Gordon is the oldest of the remaining top tier of outfielders. He has the least power of the group by a wide margin, but he’s also been easily the best defensive player, ranking eighth in the Majors in Defensive Runs Saved and fifth in Ultimate Zone Rating among all players at any position over the past three years. Gordon strikes out the least of this bunch and walks the most, so he has a considerably different skill set than his younger, more powerful free-agent peers. Gordon figures to command the shortest commitment of this trio — a five-year deal is the expectation here — and while that’s an advantage in some regards, the reasoning behind that term (his age) is not. Upton, for instance, could sign a contract with an opt-out after three years, as Heyward did, and still re-enter the market younger than Gordon is right now. A five-year deal for a 32-year-old is a risky proposition, and having rejected the Royals’ qualifying offer following the 2015 season, Gordon comes with the additional red flag of draft pick compensation.

As stated earlier, any of the three would represent an upgrade for most clubs. The White Sox, Giants, Padres, Angels, Orioles, Tigers, Indians and Royals could all use corner outfield upgrades, though not all of those clubs has the financial means to add a top free agent. (Notably, Kansas City’s most recent offer reportedly resulted in Gordon’s camp telling him they have “no chance” to re-sign him.) Further fits could arise in the wake of trades, too.

There’s no true apples-to-apples comparison, as each player figures to command a different price tag. MLBTR predicted a five-year, $105MM deal for Gordon earlier this offseason while estimating a six-year, $140MM deal for Cespedes and a seven-year, $147MM deal for Upton (though Upton could command an opt-out, as the youngest of the group, which would be yet another wrinkle to the equation). There are a number of factors to be considered, but for the rudimentary purposes of this poll, we’ll simply ask, in a vacuum…

Who will replace Chapman as Reds’ closer?
With flame-throwing lefty headed to Yanks, Cincinnati has some in-house candidates
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon
CINCINNATI — Now that Aroldis Chapman was traded to the Yankees for four Minor Leaguers on Monday, obviously the Reds will need to have a new closer for 2016. There is little chance that Chapman’s replacement will provide Cincinnati with the same cache or electricity that the flame-throwing left-hander brought to the end of games, but there are numerous potential candidates in house.

The first name that should get a look is J.J. Hoover, who succeeded last season as Chapman’s eighth-inning right-handed setup man.
Following a rough 2014 season, Hoover rebounded nicely in ’15 while posting a 2.94 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 64 1/3 innings in 67 appearances. He stranded nine of 12 inherited runners. Over his career since ’12, Hoover has only five saves — including one last season.

Here are some other possibilities:

• Jumbo Diaz spent 13 years in the Minors before his first big league callup in 2014, and he spent several of those years closing games and amassing 113 saves. Diaz was on the Reds’ Opening Day roster last season, but he struggled with a 6.65 ERA over his first 25 appearances. He returned from a demotion to Triple-A Louisville and pitched better to finish with a 4.18 ERA overall and 12 of his 16 inherited runners retired. Diaz can also bring the heat and frequently reaches 97-99 mph with his fastball.

• Tony Cingrani, who was a closer in college a few years ago, has already been told he would be competing for a bullpen spot after not succeeding in his chances for the rotation. However, he has been plagued by shoulder injuries and durability issues. Last season, Cingrani posted a 5.67 ERA in 35 games and spent most of the second half in Triple-A.
• Brandon Finnegan was one of the lefty prospects acquired from the Royals in the Johnny Cueto trade, and he already has big-moment experience with Kansas City out of the bullpen in the 2014 postseason, the same year he was drafted out of college. The Reds had planned to develop Finnegan as a starter, but he certainly has the stuff to close.

• Also a former college closer, right-hander Michael Lorenzen is already a projected starter, but that could change if he does not make the rotation. Lorenzen is capable of throwing 98 mph, and he showed improved secondary pitches in September when he returned from being sent down to Louisville. In 27 games, including 21 starts as a Reds rookie, Lorenzen was 4-9 with a 5.40 ERA, 57 walks and 83 strikeouts over 113 1/3 innings.
The Reds have not identified a specific replacement. President of baseball operations Walt Jocketty said the closer situation would be determined during Spring Training.
During his six years with the Reds, Chapman racked up 146 saves in 164 chances. One of the game’s most prolific strikeout pitchers, he totaled 546 strikeouts in 319 career innings, a 15.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio, and was an All-Star in each of the past four seasons.
Even with the Reds not in position to contend for the postseason in 2016, whoever gets the closer’s job will have a tough act to follow after Chapman.

Did our GM, Dick Williams have anything to say????????????????

Scouting Report: Eric Jagielo
Posted on 12/29/2015 by GRANT FREKING
The Aroldis Chapman era ended Monday, as the Reds traded their star closer to the Yankees for four minor leaguers: right-handed starter Rookie Davis, corner infielder Eric Jagielo, reliever Caleb Cotham, and infielder Tony Renda.

After Davis, Jagielo is regarded as the second-most important piece in the deal for the Reds. Here’s what we know about him…

Background

The 23-year-old Jagielo is a 6-2, 215-pound prospect whose primary position is third base. The Notre Dame product was selected by the Yankees with the 26th overall selection in the 2013 amateur draft. A pick later, the Reds took outfielder Phillip Ervin, who reached Double-A Pensacola last season. (I’m told the Reds would have taken Jagielo over Ervin.)

Originally drafted by the Cubs in the 50th round of the 2010 draft out of Downers Grove (Ill.) High School, Jagielo reached Double-A last summer before a knee injury cut short his season in mid-June. Jagielo has played third base in 156 of his 159 career minor league games; he played first base in the other three.

Prior to the 2015 campaign, Jagielo, who bats left-handed and throws right-handed, was ranked as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system by FanGraphs after being ranked No. 3 by FG prior to the 2014 season. Jagielo failed to crack the top 10 in Baseball America’s ranking of New York’s system (published on Dec. 21), but was slotted as the sixth-best Yankees prospect by MLB.com before the site reorganized its database post-trade. Baseball America had Jagielo ranked as New York’s No. 5 prospect after the 2013 season.

Because of the Reds’ shallow position player talent pool at the Double-A and Triple-A level, Jagielo instantly becomes the Reds’ top prospect at third base and possibly their top infield prospect altogether, depending on how one feels about Jose Peraza.

What The Scouts Say

FanGraphs: “Jagielo is a pretty straightforward prospect: he has plus power from the left side and the hope is he’ll have a 50 bat and 50 defense at third base, but both are a little fringy right now for scouts. If it all clicks, he’s an above average regular and those two tools hold at fringy or below average, he’s a borderline 45/50 FV first baseman.”

MLB.com: “Jagielo offered some of the best left-handed pop available in the 2013 Draft, so the Yankees made him their first of three first-round selections and signed him for $1,839,400. … Jagielo has provided the power that was expected of him, slamming 24 homers in 147 games during his first two years as a pro. He’s strong and features good loft in his swing, allowing him to drive the ball to all fields. His tendency to swing and miss may preclude him from hitting for a high average, but he does draw enough walks to post healthy on-base percentages. With well below-average speed and just average arm strength, Jagielo still has to prove he can stay at the hot corner. Some scouts think he’s better suited for first base, though he’s already the Yankees’ most advanced third-base prospect and won’t move anytime soon. He was hit in the face by a pitch during instructional league, fracturing the zygomatic arch near his left eye and requiring surgery, but shouldn’t have any long-term issues.

Pinstriped Prospects: “Many scouts agree the best position for in the field for Jagielo, with his excellent power potential, is first base.”

Statistics

Aside from Jagielo’s brief stints in rookie ball in 2013 and 2014, here are his key minor league numbers. Note: PAs=plate appearances.

Year Level PAs Slash ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 A- 218 .266/.376/.451 .185 11.9 24.8 153
2014 A+ 359 .259/.354/.460 .201 10.6 25.9 132
2015 AA 248 .284/.347/.495 .212 7.3 23.4 141
Bottom Line

Two freak injuries have curtailed Jagielo’s ascension in the minors. Jagielo needed surgery to fix a broken bone in his face after being hit with a fastball late in the 2014, and he underwent a lateral meniscus scope on his right knee in late July after injuring himself sliding into home in mid-June.

When he has been on the field, Jagielo has flashed his publicized pop; he notched 27 extra-base hits in 58 games in 2015. While Jagielo’s strikeout rate is certainly concerning, it’s mitigated by the fact that he’s proven he can draw a walk. Some talent evaluators believe Jagielo is better suited for first base — reports indicate he’s not athletic enough to move to a corner outfield position — but as long as Joey Votto is a Red, there’s no chance of that happening. So, the Reds will probably have to go through some growing pains with Jagielo’s fielding at the hot corner, but given his relatively small sample size, that seems like a fine option.

Had Jagielo undergone a full season at Double-A in 2015, it’s likely he could’ve seen playing time with Cincinnati in 2016. That may still happen, but a big-league promotion would likely need to be preceded by a trade of Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips, which would allow presumed Opening Day third baseman Eugenio Suarez to move over to shortstop and place Jose Peraza, the crown jewel of the Todd Frazier trade, at second base.

With the Reds continuing to target prospects closer to playing in the majors instead of higher-ceiling farmhands further away from the bigs, the organization has to hope Jagielo is ready to be their everyday third baseman sometime during the 2017 campaign. In the end, Jagielo is the player who will determine how this trade looks in five years for the Reds. If Jagielo can evolve into a league average third baseman, the Reds will have won this trade, regardless of how the other three prospects pan out.

What to like about the Cincinnati Reds recent trades
Posted on 12/29/2015 by DOUG GRAY
The Cincinnati Reds have made some trades since my last post here, and I don’t want to rehash the trades or break them down too much. If you’re interested in my thoughts on the trade with the Dodgers or the trade with the Yankees, you can read about them here (Dodgers/White Sox) or here (Yankees). What I do want to talk about with the trades is what it appears that the Reds are trying to do and that appears to be acquire offense.

The Reds system had been considered light on offensive prospects as of two weeks ago. There was Jesse Winker and then a whole bunch of guys with some tools, but a lot of question marks that needed to be answered on their resume. The organization wasn’t barren, but short of Winker there wasn’t anyone remotely close to a “sure thing” hitting prospect in the system. In the last two weeks the Reds have acquired the following players:

2B Jose Peraza
OF Scott Schebler
3B Brandon Dixon
3B Eric Jagielo
2B Tony Renda
RHP Rookie Davis
RHP Caleb Cotham
Five hitters and two pitchers have been added to the organization. The mix of hitters is interesting here. Brandon Dixon stands out as the one guy with tons of work to do in order to be taken seriously as a future big leaguer, but the other four hitters all seem to have something in their offensive game that looks like it could be useful at the big league level.

Both Jose Peraza and Tony Renda play second base. That sort of comes into play in terms of where to play everyone, but having too many guys is never a problem. The two are both very high rate of contact hitters with very, very low strikeout rates. Both also lack any home run pop in their bats. The Reds also have some guy named Brandon Phillips that is still on their team, who like those two, makes a lot of contact and doesn’t have much home run power (though he still has plenty more than either of the two young guys).

The team also acquired outfielder Scott Schebler. His main calling card is power, something that the farm system really lacked in 2015 (the organization was led in home runs by two players who each hit 14). Then there was the acquisition yesterday of third baseman Eric Jagielo, another player who has power as their main calling card.

The outfield situation is pretty much wide open right now with a possible trade of Jay Bruce and left field currently being open, as well as the thing that the Reds don’t want to talk about that is the abysmal hitting of Billy Hamilton. While Schebler is only viable in left field, some others could play center or right field. The Reds seem to be sold on playing Eugenio Suarez at third base in favor of Zack Cozart at shortstop, at least for the time being.

Cincinnati has acquired a bunch of hitting prospects over the last two weeks via trade and realistically, only have a spot for one of them to play in the near term despite all of them being at the Double-A level or higher. They obviously believed they could move Phillips and open up another spot, but they had to know there was a chance it wouldn’t happen and of course, it didn’t.

What I like here is that the Reds are going after bats right now, regardless of where they can see them playing at. We can talk about how we feel about these particular bats, but the Reds have identified that they needed to add bats and they’ve done that. They’ve added two guys who put the bat on the ball at rates that would rank among the best in the Major Leagues if they are remotely close to as successful at doing that in the Majors as they have been in the minors with Peraza and Renda. They went out and added two legit power hitters to the system, an area that was in need of fixing.

For a team that struggled mightily on offense in the 2015 season, the Reds have seemingly been going after players that help improve the offense moving forward, if not immediately, sooner rather than later. The team seems to have a plan. Maybe it’s not the exact plan that you or I would be following to a T, but there does seem to be a plan in place and the Reds are executing it. They’ve been adding offensive pieces to the upper levels of the system, most of which seem to be ready to help the big league club in the next year. Before the two trades in December went down, the Reds farm system was inside the Top 10 in all of baseball according to JJ Cooper at Baseball America. They’ve since added more than a few quality prospects, not only strengthening the system overall, but adding to a clear deficiency that it did have on the offensive side of the ball

Castellini group has followed in the mistake proven path of the the Lindner group. Dumb a…ses. we’ll have votto but nothing else like griffeys tenure. Shame on you Mr Bob Castellini. The team won’t get a sniff of 2nd place during Votto’s remaining contract. Just remember the Reds don’t win either with no names in the Managers seat. While were dumping players can we please find a taker for billy hamilton. If our management can’t figure out he’s a lost ball in tall weeds then ……….What do we have to look forward too, 10 more years of under 500 play. Shame on us for loving this team.

Fact. All the young players Walt and Company traded away. Who amounted to anything. Boxberger maybe. Alonso nope. So the chances of the guys we just acquired being somebody are very slim. We are so screwed we don’t know how screwed we are. Trading these guys and getting zeros. It deserves a big ol WTF. Yes sir it does. You have too be good at drafting.. oh and why isn’t anyone talking about dumping bailey. He’s got to go too.

All you reds ticket holders call about ticket price reduction and get a load of that answer. Been there and asked. Minor league players with minor league management equal minor league pricing in my mind.

Someone answer me this riddle batman. Why does our hall of famer Johnny Lee Bench aka “glitter” not participate in Redsfest. Yes reds fans his nickname back in the day was glitter. Johnny show us your the better person and show up.
Jim O’Toole may you rest in peace.

The Lindners in their years always cried small market. Just watch that will be Dick Williams battle cry. Thats because we had no talent coming because good ol leather pants couldn’t draft a t ball player. Woops Jimbo drafted Joey V. Good night Reds fans

Scouting Report: Rookie Davis
Posted on 12/30/2015 by STEVE MANCUSO
The New York Yankees have a lot of fans. That’s why the Bronx Bombers show up in about half of the national baseball broadcasts. While that’s annoying, one silver lining from all those followers is they produce a lot of team fan websites. So when your team trades for a Yankee prospect, finding informed opinions isn’t difficult. Keep in mind they’re written by fans. But they uniformly love Rookie Davis, especially after his breakout 2015 season.

The Basics William Theron (“Rookie”) Davis III is from North Carolina. He got the nickname from his father, who called him Rookie from the day he was born. As a two-year-old, Davis attended the game in Camden Yards when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak. Davis grew up in North Carolina, dominating his high school baseball circuit. That’s where he came to the attention of the Yankees who drafted him in the 14th round in 2011. Davis is 22 years old, right-handed, stands 6’5″ and weighs all of 245 lbs. According to Nicholas Stellini (Pinstripe Alley), that weight is pure muscle. Rich Wilson (Prospects361) says Davis is a big dude, every bit of 6’5″/245 if not more.

The first three years of Davis’ minor league career were nothing much. Then came 2015.

2015 Breakout Season Rookie Davis spent most of 2015 pitching for the Yankees’ High-A team in Tampa of the Florida State League. Tampa competes against the Daytona Tortugas, the Reds’ High-A affiliate. Davis started 19 games for Tampa then was promoted to AA Trenton where he pitched in six games, five as a starter. For Tampa, Davis pitched 97.1 innings and struck out 105 batters, walking only 18. Those are great numbers. Doug Gray details Davis’ season here.

After Rookie Davis’ breakout season, he shot up various prospect lists. The Yankees moved Davis to their 40-man roster this November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. One analyst thought Davis might be as high as the #7 starter in the entire Yankees system, including their major league pitchers.

Comparison to Amir Garrett Amir Garrett is the #4 Reds prospect according to Doug as well as MLB.com. Both services have Garrett ranked above Cody Reed. Garrett and Rookie Davis pitched in the Florida State League in 2015. Here is how they compare:

Davis has a better strikeout and walk rate and also induces more ground ball outs. Rookie Davis is almost a full year younger than Amir Garrett.

Stuff Davis throws a fastball that has been described as 92-94, can hit 96; a 95 mph heater; routinely sitting in the mid-90s, peaking at 96; a sharp breaking curve ball and a change-up. Here are a couple scouting reports:

Rich Wilson (Prospects361) Scouting Report: Davis has a nice three pitch mix that starts with his fastball that sits 91 to 93 MPH (T94). While he doesn’t have premium velocity, the pitch has a ton of movement and the night I saw him, batters had a tough time squaring him up. Despite the movement as well as his length, he pitches more in the top of the zone and is a fly ball pitcher as a result. That will not play well in Yankees Stadium and is something he needs to work on. His secondary pitches are good with his curveball ahead of his change-up.

Gershon Rabinowitz (Baseball Essential): Davis features a four seam fastball clocked between 94 and 96 miles per hour, an uptick from his velocity early in professional career. Mixing in a two seam fastball of late, Davis is beginning to generate sinking action, leading to an increased amount of ground balls and a better economy of pitches. His changeup and curveball have been described as average offerings by scouts and are aspects of his arsenal he continues to refine at the minor league level. “I am definitely working on my secondary pitches”, Davis said. “I have been able to command my fastball. I am getting to where I need to throw a curveball for a strike, a changeup for a strike, early in the count and control my stuff better than I have, while being able to able to have success commanding the fastball early and expanding the zone late with my secondary stuff.”

Chad Jennings (LoHud Yankees Blog): Improved strikeout and walk numbers made me think of Shane Greene, another Yankees pitching prospect who loomed as kind of a sleeper for years and emerged with one real breakout season. Expected to open in Double-A, Davis is now considered the top upper-level pitching prospect in the system. He has a spot on the 40-man roster, so you can’t rule him out for a big league call-up this season, but it’s more realistic to hope for a strong first half in Double-A, a strong finish in Triple-A, and some sort of big league role in 2017.

Nicholas Stellini (Pinstripe Alley): Yet unlike many hard-throwing prospects, Davis has control of his heater. His low walk rate from A-ball has followed him to Trenton thus far. In three outings, Davis is so far only walking an average of 1.20 batters every nine innings. Though his ERA has been inflated since being promoted (4.80 in just 15 innings while pitching in front of a poor infield defense), his 3.11 FIP shows that he’s been pitching quality baseball.

Rankings Davis made a huge jump up prospects lists after his 2015 season. Prior to Monday’s trade, Davis was ranked the #10 player in the Yankee system by MLB.com, #6 prospect by Baseball America and not rated in the top ten by Baseball Prospectus. Any rankings prior to 2015 are meaningless.

2016 for the Reds Davis will likely start for AA Pensacola. Given the starting pitcher log jam in the Reds minor league system, it’s hard to say how quickly Davis can move up to AAA or to the Reds. His large stature and pitch portfolio have indicated to some that he best fits a bullpen role. Others have said he could be a strong candidate for the middle-to-back of a major league rotation. The Reds are fortunate to have a dugout full of players who fit that description.

On the basis of an outstanding 2015, you can add Rookie Davis to that list.

Who is next? I don’t mind Bruce if we get a good return, don’t do what you did with chapman and trade on lowest value. Horrible timing on chapman trade. I don’t mind keeping Phillips. The sad thing is Bruce, chapman, and these starting pitchers we traded were all bigger prospects than what we are looking at now. Hopefully that does not hold true. I like our upcoming pitching but still feel we lack the position talent.

Jocketty has stated that they will accept offers on anyone on the team. I suspect that it will always depend on what the other team is offering and what Jocketty wants in return. With 29 teams out there knowing that the Reds are in a complete rebuild, they are probably making offers many of which we never hear about. With that said, I suspect that Bruce will be the next to go, but that’s just my guess. Again, it all depends on what another trade partner needs and wants to trade away.

Jocketty on all four traded for Chapman…
Walt Jocketty on Davis: “(Davis is) a young right-handed starting pitcher we think will have a chance to be a starting pitcher the next year or two with us.”
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Jocketty on Jagielo: “Jagielo is a guy we liked in the draft and we see him as … maybe a utility guy at first and third for the first few years. He’s definitely a strong bat off the bench, a real strong hitter.”
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Jocketty on Cotham: “Cotham is a guy that we think that can pitch possibly in our bullpen this year.”
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Jocketty on Renda: “We had very good reports on him when he was with the Nationals. He’s another guy that’s a quality hitter.”
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Is the new GM , Williams , allowed to talk ? Just wondering .

Evidently not. Of course it doesn’t appear that any media is asking him anything. They know who the real GM is.

From Steve Adams at MLBTR:
NOTE: Still no Williams.(maybe his name is really Waldo)
•The Reds’ two Rule 5 picks have a solid chance of sticking with the club, C. Trent Rosecrans writes for Baseball America. Outfielder Jake Cave (from the Yankees) makes for a good fit because he hits from the left side, assistant GM Nick Krall tells Rosecrans. And Krall adds that southpaw Chris O’Grady (via the Angels) has shown an ability to retire batters on both sides of the box, with good command helping to make up for average stuff.

Hot Stove: Reds should consider trading Joey Votto as part of rebuild
By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer
December 29, 2015 12:34 pm ET

The Reds are currently in the middle of a massive rebuilding process. If there was any lingering doubt, it was crushed by the Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman trades this month. Cincinnati is focusing on the future, not the present.

The tear down phase of a rebuild can be quite ugly, and, frankly, the realization a lot of losing is in the near future can’t be a fun experience for both fans and the team. Rebuilds are necessary — especially for small market teams like the Reds — but also unpleasant. Everyone wants to win.

With the Reds fully committed to tearing things down, the team should now look to trade the ultra-productive Joey Votto. The 32-year-old hit .314/.459/.541 (174 OPS+) with 29 home runs in 2015, earning him a third place finish in the NL MVP voting.

Votto would undoubtedly be a major boost for several contenders. The Cardinals and Blue Jays immediately jump to mind. St. Louis is looking to add offense and Votto would give them a big middle of the order bat. The Blue Jays have offense to spare, but Justin Smoak and Chris Colabello are no obstacle at first base. Votto is from Toronto and would give the team another offensive building block with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion a year away from free agency.

Of course, trading Votto is much easier said than done. For starters, there’s his monster contract, which will pay him $199 million over the next nine years. Not every team can afford that, and among the teams that can afford it, why wouldn’t they just sign Chris Davis instead? Votto’s a better hitter but Davis figures to be cheaper, and you get to keep your prospects.

There’s also the issue of Votto’s no-trade clause. He has full no-trade protection thanks to his contract, and few weeks ago he said he very much enjoys being with the Reds and has no desire to leave despite the rebuild. From MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon:

“I absolutely love playing here,” Votto said during Redsfest on Friday. “When all this trade stuff gets going, it’s natural for a player to have that thought process and what would you consider? I just absolutely love playing here. I really like where I live. I like my team and my job. I like the location of the ballpark and the fans and the clubhouse and the uniform and the number on my back — all the littlest things that people take for granted are very comfortable to me and something I look forward to. I don’t think of myself as anything other than a Cincinnati Red. It’s one of the really cool things about having a no-trade clause. I’m one of the rare players who has that. I get to stay a Cincinnati Red.

“I look at guys in all kinds of different sports and I admire the players that stick with one franchise and do well and ride out the rough times and experience the highs, instead of it being the kind of experience that you consume.”

Votto doesn’t exactly sound eager to leave Cincinnati, so it’s entirely possible the idea of trading him is a waste of time. He won’t accept a trade and that’s that. It’s also possible Votto may change his mind at some point, after a few weeks or seasons of constant losing in the rough NL Central.

There is no place for half-measures in a rebuild for a small market team like the Reds. If you’re going to rebuild, you have to full commit and tear it all down if you want to turn things around as quickly and as best as possible. To Cincinnati’s credit, they’ve done that. Trading Frazier couldn’t have been easy.

That’s why the front office needs to at least explore trading Votto. Gauge the market, see what kind of interest there is, and run it by him. Who knows, maybe playing at home in Toronto or for the contending Cardinals appeals to Votto and he decides to agree to a trade. It doesn’t cost the Reds anything to look into it.

Votto’s a truly great player, but the Reds don’t need an over-30 first baseman making huge money during their rebuild. Trying to trade him now, while he’s still immensely productive, is the best move for the franchise going forward.
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Unfortunately, the Reds have said that EVERYONE is available for trade consideration, and, Votto has already been asked by the media and he responded
that it is unlikely for him to leave Cincinnati. So a deal of incredible crafting would have to take place…equal to or beyond his bloated and ridiculous contract that the Reds offered him and that he accepted with open arms. Here it is once again:
2016 32 Cincinnati Reds $20,000,000
2017 33 Cincinnati Reds $22,000,000
2018 34 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2019 35 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2020 36 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2021 37 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2022 38 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2023 39 Cincinnati Reds $25,000,000
2024 40 Cincinnati Reds *$20,000,000
*$20M Team Option, $7M Buyout
Earliest Free Agent: 2024 (40 years old)
As they say…”you do the crime, you do the time”; the Reds would have to do the ridiculous again for Votto…’pay to go away’.

Unfortunately, ridiculous doesn’t seem to be a problem for this management team.

Where could the Yankees’ new relief trio rank all time?
Dec 29, 2015

It’s easy to get excited about what adding Aroldis Chapman to a New York Yankees bullpen already boasting Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances might do. Among pitchers throwing 50 or more innings in 2015, Chapman’s whiff rate of 41.7 percent ranked tops in the majors, with Miller’s 40.7 percent ranking third and Betances’ 39.5 percent ranking fourth. Put that on paper on one team, and you can already forecast gale-force winds from the seventh inning on in Nu-Yankee Stadium next year.

Coming as it does on the heels of the Kansas City Royals’ World Series win, it’s easy to characterize this as a smart compensation for where the game is today. Deep bullpens can shorten the game by effectively limiting opposing offenses to early scoring opportunities, and overpowering bullpens can effectively take control of the game without relying heavily on the defense behind them. A deep, overpowering bullpen also makes for a great way of offsetting a fragile, shallow or aging rotation — something the Yankees are only too familiar with.

So now that the Yankees have three of the best whiff artists of 2015 queued up to pitch out of their bullpen in 2016, let’s indulge ourselves with a question: If these three were to repeat their 2015 performances in 2016, where would they rank among other great bullpen trios of the past for their ability to blow batters out of the box?

Using strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) and strikeout percentage (K%), then indexing the latter number against their league’s average (or what I call K Ratio on the table below), I came up with a quick-and-dirty way to compare Chapman, Betances and Miller’s collective 2015 performance to the great bullpen threesomes of the recent Royals, the 2010 San Francisco Giants, the 2003 Houston Astros, the late-’90s Yankees and the 1990 Cincinnati Reds. These are just the teams that quickly came to mind for reasons I’ll get into, though no doubt there are a few others worthy of consideration. But with that non-scientific disclosure in mind, let’s put the Yankees of tomorrow up against some of baseball’s great three-headed hydras of late-game doom:

MLB’s most dominant relief trio?
If the Yankees’ new late-game combo of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances repeat their 2015 performances, they could be in the conversation.
TEAM K/9 K% K RATIO
1990 Reds 11.6 30.4 201
1997 Yankees 9.1 24.0 147
2003 Astros 10.4 29.0 170
2010 Giants 10.3 28.0 146
2014 Royals 11.4 32.1 158
2016 Yankees? 14.7 40.5 199
K Ratio is the ratio of the trio’s whiff rate compared to league average; 100 = average.
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The 2014-15 Royals: What buoyed the Royals’ resilient offense as it generated all of those late-game comebacks? A bullpen that throttled the life out of opposing offenses, headlined by closer Greg Holland and setup men Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera. With two pennants and a World Series win in the past two seasons, we can present the Royals as the reigning paradigm for the benefits of a bullpen that effectively limits opposing scoring opportunities to the first six innings. For this exercise, let’s use their best year, 2014. That season, they combined to whiff 11.4 men per nine innings, with a 32.1 percent whiff rate. Awesome, yes, and ultimately rewarded by a title this year, but their performance is also a cut below what the Yankees of 2016 might — key word, might — have on tap. However, their 1.28 ERA might be close to impossible to put in the shade. And flags fly forever.
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The 2010 Giants: With Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and (at least in 2010) Brian Wilson, you could make an argument that the Giants’ tally of three World Series wins in the past five years owes much to strong late-game combinations, even as the detail over who ends up getting the saves in any individual season might be more cause for concern for agents and fantasy league GMs. If we’re going to include the Giants’ most dominant bullpen iteration, we’d probably have to tab the 2010 team’s reliance on Wilson closing (while putting baseball beards over the top and beyond the collar), set up by Romo all year and Casilla after the former Athletic was resurrected in May with more heat on his fastball and flashing a new, sharp curve. As a group they were good, to be sure, striking out 28 percent of opposing batters while combining for a 1.97 ERA. And they won it all.
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The 2003 Astros: OK, somebody on this list has to have not won it all, and these Astros fell a game short of reaching the postseason, where they would have been scary. But it’s also hard to overlook a team that simultaneously employed Billy Wagner as closer, set up by Octavio Dotel in his prime and closer-to-be Brad Lidge. Combined, that trio whiffed 299 of the 1,030 batters it faced, a workload spread evenly and effectively among the three. As you can see from the table, they’re among the most dominant relief groups ever, but they’re not tops when it comes to dominance dealt from the mound.
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The 1997-2000 Yankees: While Mariano Rivera is part of the iconic Core Four of the most recent Yankees dynasty, he was also the front man of a power relief trio, teaming up with Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton to give the Yankees a stable late-game combo during their last dynastic run when they three-peated from 1998 to 2000. Ironically, their best season as a trio was 1997, the year the Yankees didn’t win it all, but I’m sure they consoled themselves with the rings they won the next three seasons.
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When it comes to fireballing firemen, the Reds’ famed Nasty Boys — Rob Dibble, Randy Myers and Norm Charlton — are tough to top. AP Photo/Al Behrman
The 1990-91 Reds: Rob Dibble and lefties Randy Myers and Norm Charlton, all of them equipped with overpowering stuff, and all of them talented enough to close. In the Reds’ championship season in 1990, the Nasty Boys struck out 291 men in 225 1/3 relief innings, or a strikeout rate of 11.6 K/9. Equally impressive is that, since the NL strikeout rate in 1990 was just 15.1 percent, coming out of the pen this trio was striking out more than twice the league’s average by whiffing 30.4 percent of all batters faced. If you define dominance through the ability to overpower people at the plate, that’s close to impossible to top.

However, one interesting thing to keep in mind about this combo is that Dibble, Charlton and Myers never enjoyed the benefit of a full season together in the bullpen. Charlton became a starter again in mid-July in 1990, taking 16 turns to help shore up the rotation, then opened 1991 with 11 more starts before an injury in June encouraged a permanent move back to the bullpen in the second half, and Myers made the only 12 starts of his big league career in the second half of 1991 before departing as a free agent. Of course, you could also say the 1989 Reds bullpen was pretty nasty, too, before Cincinnati traded closer John Franco to the Mets to get Myers, creating the trivia that the 1989-1991 Reds had three different 30-save closers (Franco, Myers and Dibble).
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OK, so where would a Chapman-Miller-Betances combo rank among these overpowering bullpen trios? Considering we’re talking about a bullpen that hasn’t actually suited up together, let alone pitched together — and comparing it to groups that did and delivered — I’d favor the Nasty Boys, for pure dominance, especially compared to the standards of their day. And yes, even though they didn’t get the benefit of a full season together, and even though they won just one World Series, striking people out in today’s day and age is much more likely, so, to make an apples-to-apples comparison, you need to allow for how dominant a relief crew was relative to its direct competition.

If that strikes you as unfair, just remember that’s more than the 2016 Yankees have achieved — or might ever achieve, especially if the discipline Chapman receives over his alleged domestic abuse shelves him for a considerable length of time. But just to be able to put this new Yankees combo into that conversation? It’s certainly fun to think about, and in 2016 we’ll get to see whether these three can live up to it.

Thanks Neb . You do a great job keeping us frustrated Reds’ fans updated . I know we don’t always agree on things but I appreciate the time and effort you spend . Happy New Year .

Thanks, and Happy New Year to you as well. And a Happy New Year to all us kooky Red’s fans that follow the team constantly and passionately.

Well, Happy New Year all – hard to know what we have to look forward to, but let’s put a happy face on it. It’s Spring and baseball and it’s coming soon. We open the first window on the Spring Training Advent Calendar is less than a month! Be safe tonight and have a great holiday!

Rebuilding Reds have questions going into ’16
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon |
CINCINNATI — In the midst of a rebuilding effort that raises the potential of even more roster upheaval during the offseason, the Reds are a team with plenty of questions. Being honest, one answer the club has is a realization that it will be tough to contend for a National League Central crown against elite teams like the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates.

Following a 98-loss season in 2015, Cincinnati wants to complete its overhaul as quickly as possible and return to prominence in the NL once again. But it won’t happen overnight.
“I think when you’re dealing with primarily a young, inexperienced starting rotation and potentially bullpen, I can step up and say, ‘Hey, listen, we’re going to push the other elite teams in the division for a championship,'” Reds manager Bryan Price said during the Winter Meetings. “But realistically, you have to just show up and get better and play harder every day and see where things go.”
2015 Year in Review

2016 Outlook

Here are five of the biggest questions the Reds face heading into the new year:
1. Who will be the new faces in the lineup?
Third baseman Todd Frazier was traded to the White Sox on Dec. 16, and before the Reds get to the Spring Training, second baseman Brandon Phillips and right fielder Jay Bruce could be dealt as well. Someone will have to take those spots. At third base, shortstop Eugenio Suarez — who did so well replacing an injured Zack Cozart in 2015 — could shift over to the hot corner pending further changes. One of the players that came back in the Frazier deal, Jose Peraza, could wind up replacing Phillips. Scott Schebler, also part of that trade, could be the left-handed part of a left-field platoon with Adam Duvall. Prospect Yorman Rodriguez, who is out of options, would have to be part of the right-field conversation.
2. What will the rotation look like?
After starting rookie pitchers for the final 64 games of the season, and 110 games overall in 2015, only two of them appear to be locks for the 2016 rotation: Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias. Homer Bailey, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, isn’t expected back until May, at the earliest. That leaves three open spots to begin the season, and several more candidates. Michael Lorenzen, Jon Moscot, John Lamb, Brandon Finnegan and prospects Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson will be just some of the contenders. Some of the pitchers that don’t get one of the spots could be used out of the overhauled bullpen.
Iglesias fans eight in outing
Iglesias fans eight in outing
7/21/15: Raisel Iglesias scatters six hits and strikes out eight while giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Cubs
It’s possible that the club will add another veteran that helps consume innings and provide the young pitchers with some guidance.
3. Can Billy Hamilton succeed as a hitter?
It was a tough 2015 at the plate for the speedy Hamilton, who batted only .226/.274/.289 in 114 games, stealing 57 bases. By May, Price had dropped Hamilton out of his usual leadoff spot and had him batting ninth most of the rest of the season. Although Hamilton was still a dynamic stolen-bases threat and defensive player, his success in the Majors will be defined by his ability to get on base in what will be his most pivotal year.
Hamilton’s 50th stolen base
Hamilton’s 50th stolen base
8/1/15: Billy Hamilton slides into second base and records his 50th stolen base of the season
All of this is coming while Hamilton must rehab from right shoulder surgery after he tore a labrum trying to make a diving play late in the season. Hamilton is being instructed to keep switch-hitting and is working on his hitting the rest of the offseason in Cincinnati.
4. Healthy returns?
Bailey and Hamilton aren’t the only key Reds returning from a surgery. Cozart, who tore the ACL and LCL ligaments in his right knee on June 10, will be trying to show he’s back to 100 percent. Catcher Devin Mesoraco, who had the labrum in his left hip repaired in late June, will have to prove that he can catch again and hold up to the rigors of the taxing position. In early December, Cozart and Mesoraco were very pleased with their progress, and both expected to be fully ready to go by Spring Training.
5. The closer situation
With closer Aroldis Chapman traded away to the Yankees for four prospects, it’s unclear who will take over the ninth-inning role in the Reds’ bullpen come Opening Day.

The 9 best things about the Reds in 2015
Posted on 12/26/2015 by STEVE MANCUSO

#9 – Reds in first place at the end of week one

It’s almost unimaginable in retrospect, but the Reds started 2015 by winning their first four games and sweeping the Pirates. They were still in first place eight games into the season with a 5-3 record. Devin Mesoraco was catching. Zack Cozart was playing shortstop. Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake were waiting for Homer Bailey to join them in the rotation the next week. On April 14, Anthony DeSclafani outpitched Jake Arrieta and the Reds beat the Cubs 3-2 at Wrigley Field to take a half-game lead in the NL Central.

#8 – Billy Hamilton’s run-preventing defense

Whether using the eyeball test or defensive metrics, Billy Hamilton continued to excel in the field, primarily through his great speed and range. It seemed like every game he was saving runs by tracking down balls in the gap or over his head. It’s an indication of how tremendous he was in the outfield that his overall value remained positive despite his miserable season at the plate.

#7 – Zack Cozart before he got injured

In addition to being in the midst of another stellar defensive season at shortstop, Zack Cozart had completely reversed his hitting woes of the previous three seasons. Cozart was batting .258/.310/.459 when he was injured running all-out to first base on June 10. Through 53 games, he was enjoying career-high walk and power rates as well as a career-low strikeout rate. He had hit 9 home runs.

#6 – The promising returns on the Cueto and Leake trades

The Reds traded Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake at the deadline and the early returns on both trades appear positive. John Lamb and Brandon Finnegan pitched well for the Reds. Cody Reed might prove to be the best of the three acquired in the Cueto trade. Adam Duvall showed pop (ISO .265) during a short stint with the major league club in September. Keury Mella remains a top-100 prospect.

#5 – The emergence of Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani

The Reds have stockpiled a large arsenal of young arms that might become major league pitchers. In 2015, two broke through. Anthony DeSclafani made 31 starts and pitched 184 innings, amassing an fWAR of 3.2 and an FIP of 3.67. Raisel Iglesias made 16 starts with an xFIP of 3.28. Among starting pitchers with at least 90 innings, Iglesias had the 11th best strikeout rate in baseball, ranked between Jake Arrieta and Madison Bumgarner. His K-BB% was 15th, between Matt Harvey and Jon Lester.

#4 – Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce in the good times

From April 6 to July 1, in 337 plate appearances, Todd Frazier hit .283/.344/.606, with a wRC+ of 154. From April 27 to August 4, in 344 plate appearances, Jay Bruce hit .280/.358/.527 with a wRC+ of 135. Only 18 hitters in baseball sustained a wRC+ of 136 or more throughout the season.

#3 – World-class hosting of the All-Star Game

The Reds hosted the 2015 All-Star Game and received widespread critical acclaim (Chad Dotson) for their hospitality and organization. They managed to dodge the rain that had been forecast for the week. It was an exciting week for the city, the Reds and local fans.

#2 – Todd Frazier winning the Home Run Derby

Todd Frazier winning the derby in such a dramatic fashion was the single best moment for Reds fans in 2015.

#1 – Joey Votto’s return to health and MVP form

The Reds first baseman demonstrated he had recovered from his leg injury in 2015, putting together a season that rivaled his MVP 2010 for the best in his career. Votto (.314/.459/.541) was second in baseball, tied with Mike Trout and behind Bryce Harper, in overall offensive production. Who knows what those numbers would look like if Votto hadn’t lost his wallet in May. His 7.5 WAR season would have been worth $56 million on the open market (the Reds paid Votto $14 million). Votto overpaid? Not worth it? Contract killing the Reds?

The 10 worst things about the Reds in 2015
Posted on 12/27/2015 by STEVE MANCUSO
#10 – Billy Hamilton’s worsening struggles at the plate

Billy Hamilton’s 2015 batting (.226/.274/.289) was even worse than his dreadful 2014. He had the fourth-lowest OBP in the majors, the second-lowest isolated power and the second-lowest contribution to runs scored. The Reds still gave him more than 200 plate appearances leading off, since they hadn’t come up with an alternative in the off-season.

#9 – Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg, Brennan Boesch, Chris Dominguez

This point represents the pitiful – yet predictable – performance of the new players added to the roster out of spring training from minor league contracts. Based on little more than a handful of innings in Goodyear and saves from a few years ago, Kevin Gregg was given the 8th inning pitching role. That’s the bullpen’s second most important job. He was DFA’d after 11 appearances with an ERA of 10.13. Jason Marquis was a former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher for Walt Jocketty. He was given a job in the starting rotation. After 9 starts, he was released with an ERA of 6.46. Brennan Boesch (.146/.191/.202) bombed as the Reds fourth OF and was demoted mid-season. Yes, that’s a lower isolated power than Billy Hamilton. Chris Dominguez had three pinch hit attempts (all strike outs) in April before being sent to AAA Louisville. Collectively, this represented horrible judgment on the part of the Reds front office.

#8 – Bryan Price’s profane outburst

Bryan Price’s ugly six-plus minute tirade directed toward Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans, was unprofessional and vulgar. His defiant, tone-deaf apology/non-apology afterward was even more concerning. While Price’s frustration at having learned of the impending losses of Devin Mesoraco and Homer Bailey is understandable, the incident proved to be a national embarrassment to the organization. Between that and the team’s performance, it’s a wonder Price kept his job. If the Reds had any ambitions for 2016, he probably wouldn’t.

#7 – Zack Cozart’s season-ending knee injury

Zack Cozart tore the ligaments and a tendon in his right knee on June 10 in Philadelphia. In the first inning, Cozart hit a ball deep to the hole at shortstop and when he lunged toward first base to beat the throw, he hit the bag off to the side and that caused his severe injury. Hustle takes another victim. The good news is that all reports say that Cozart’s recovery is going well and he’s expected to be 100% by the start of spring training.

#6 – Homer Bailey’s season-ending elbow injury

Homer Bailey’s 2014 season ended on August 7 when he pitched 7 shutout innings against Cleveland. The Reds pitcher had surgery on the flexor mass in his right elbow and spent the off-season before 2015 rehabbing. The Reds were counting on Bailey to be the #2 pitcher in their rotation. He returned to the mound in 2015 on April 18, but after two starts, it was obvious Bailey wasn’t right. He had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in that same elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Reports indicate Bailey’s comeback is on schedule and he’ll return to the mound in early- to mid-May.

#5 – Devin Mesoraco’s season-ending hip condition

After a monster 2014 at the plate (.273/.359/.534; 25 home runs; wRC+ 146), the Reds were counting on their catcher to provide a big bat in the middle of the lineup after Joey Votto. Instead, a couple weeks into the season, Devin Mesoraco was diagnosed with a hip impingement. He continued to play on occasion, as a pinch hitter, designated hitter and even in left field. But season-ending surgery to relieve the condition was all but inevitable and took place on June 29 in New York. Reds catchers combined to hit four home runs in 2015 (none by Brayan Peña in 339 PA). Mesoraco should recover the full use of his hip and is expected to be the Reds catcher on Opening Day.

#4 – Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce in the bad times

From July 3 to the end of the season, Todd Frazier hit .225/.270/.386 with a wRC+ of 72. (By comparison, Skip Schumaker’s wRC+ for the season was 73.) From August 4 to the end of the season, Jay Bruce hit .171/.213/.342 with a wRC+ of 40. That’s worse than Billy Hamilton.

#3 – The losing streaks

The Reds had a nine-game losing streak in mid-May. They lost 9 in a row, and 13 of 14, in late August. And they finished the season losing 13 in a row in September. In an astonishing comment after the season, one of the reasons given by Walt Jocketty for not firing Bryan Price was that the team continued to play hard. Low bars aside, one shudders to think what that would have looked like.

#2 – Saying good-bye to Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Todd Frazier

The Reds held on to Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake as long as they reasonably could, trading them in July before the non-waiver deadline. Cueto had pitched eight seasons for the Reds and Leake five and a half. Reds fans got to watch Cueto pitch a complete game, two-hitter in Game Two of the World Series for the Kansas City Royals. Then Cueto signed with the Giants for $130 million/6 years. Increasing the pain to Reds fans, Leake signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for $80 million/5 years.
The sound you heard right afterward was thousands of Reds fans unfollowing Mike Leake on Twitter.

The Reds traded Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox earlier this month as part of their rebuilding program. Frazier came up through the Reds organization and had endeared himself to Reds fans with his play and positive attitude.

#1 – The 64-98 record, finishing last, 36 games behind the Cardinals

The Reds lost more games than any season since 1982. It was their second-worst winning percentage since 1937.

Can’t get worse…………….or can it. Well a few weeks ago Price said he was looking for a challenge in 2016. Well, he’s got it. I would also like to remind him he had a challenge in 2014 and failed. He, also, had a challenge in 2015 and failed more miserably. So, extrapolating that to 2016 causes me to expect that he will fail even more miserably.

Price has only one thing to accomplish in 2016; ready the SP staff. We know that he won’t do much else because he has failed to do so, including: lineup cards, position players, BP usage, etc. Nobody can support a Manager when his record has been a very, very poor .432 W% (140-184). But, I can see why Jocketty kept him; for his one really prolific talent; coach a very young P staff. Again, where and when he uses them are a completely different story. What will be very difficult for us fans amassed on this thread…watch 162 G whereby he makes out another doozy of a lineup card; I already can see shuffling, mixing, time off after only a few games played, etc. etc. etc.
His consistency lies in his mommy coddling of the team from top to bottom, while reinforcing his poor decisions from the confines of his tiny office, surrounded by chuckling baseball media after each home game.

Jim Callis of MLB.com has Cody Reed in his list of top 10 breakout prospects for 2016 season. Hope he’s right and hope Reds take advantage of it and give him a chance to prove himself.

I hope you’re right TOW .

Anyone feel any different than this. 2016 will be the worse season in Reds history. We will lose 105 minimum ball games. We have a Bob Boone like manager. A new general manager who knows what about baseball. Questionable pitching and an offense on the decline for three years now. Its a cocktail for disaster. Let the bashing begin.

For all you Price fans. He came on board after Cueto, Baileys early years. The only guy he may have helped was Simon. Leake maybe. Who else? Chapman? Any of us could coach him. The team takes the lead of its manager. He’ll be gone by June 1st. Just a sad state of affairs. And our ownership group deserves to get bashed. Remember when Bob said they have to be smart on how they spend money. How’s that worked out for us. We’ll be the “champions” of armpit baseball for years.

Dan Obrien and Wayne Krivskys talent pool is just about gone.

3 Reds listed in MLB’s Top 30 Prospects…
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#8. Jose Peraza (2B, LAD, MLB)
Stats: 521 PA, .293/.316/.378, 4 HR, 33 SB, 8.6% K rate, 3.3% BB rate
ETA: Opening Day
Jose Peraza was sitting at third in the Dodgers’ second base depth chart with both Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley ahead of him. Then the season ended and just like that, poof, they’re gone. Both are free agents and unlikely to be resigned considering that Peraza is completely major league ready. Peraza is a 2016 fantasy owner’s dream as he is really going to fly under the radar at the draft and could provide great fantasy production from the second base position. He has proven that he can hit for a decent average in the minors. His lethal speed makes him essentially a right-handed Dee Gordon with just a little bit less contact ability and a little bit more power. Look for him to be available late in the 2016 draft and definitely be sure to pick him up as he could be primed for a breakout season.
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#13. Robert Stephenson (SP, CIN, AAA)
Stats: 134.0 IP, 3.83 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 9.40 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, 0.67 HR/9, 1.30 WHIP
ETA: Late April/Early May
Is there a chance that Robert Stephenson earns a starting spot in the Reds’ rotation in Spring Training? Absolutely. His 4.04 ERA in Triple-A last season didn’t look great, but that 3.35 FIP is just too good to ignore. The Reds had an all-rookie rotation last season. Next year, it looks like Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, and John Lamb are virtual locks to retain their spot in that rotation. The Reds are expected to sign a veteran starter to eat some innings, but that still leaves one more spot available that Stephenson could snag. Keep an eye on him as he could provide a 3.50 ERA next season with elite strikeout numbers which would be very nice to add in the later rounds of a fantasy draft.
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#20. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN, AA)
Stats: 526 PA, .282/.390/.433, 13 HR, 8 SB, 15.8% K rate, 14.1% BB rate
ETA: Early May
The Reds have a big question mark out in left field. Though they have plenty of youngsters, there aren’t a lot of attractive options. Adam Duvall currently appears to be the favorite, though he really is a power-only kind of player. One option whose name has not come up often is Jesse Winker. Winker may not have started off his 2015 season strong, but he sure finished well. In fact, since May 23, Winker hit a slash line of .302/.410/.471 with 11 home runs in only 90 games. Winker will not start the season off with the big league club, but he should eventually work his way into the Reds lineup. Don’t expect eye-popping power numbers, but look forward to a high batting average with great plate discipline. He will make a great waiver wire pickup for teams later in the season.

Breaking down the most improved farm systems
MLBPipeline.com’s Jonathan Mayo joins Matt Waymire to discuss which teams most improved their farm systems heading into 2016
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com | @JonathanMayo |
December 30th, 2015
The objective of all Major League franchises is to compete for a World Series title. The reality, of course, is that it can’t happen for every team every season.

When a team isn’t competing, it usually means it’s rebuilding time, or they become “sellers,” especially during the Trade Deadline and the offseason. Depending on the state of the organization, the hope may be for a quick turnaround, or there could be a long-range plan in place.
As the calendar is about to flip to 2016, a bit of retrospection is in order. In the past year, some teams have improved their farm systems more than others. The following list of the five most improved farm systems in 2015 was compiled considering all methods of player acquisition: trade, Draft, international signing, even the Rule 5 Draft.
This isn’t a ranking of the top farm systems; that’s something that will come in the New Year after the new prospects rankings come out.
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Atlanta Braves: When John Hart was hired by the Braves as the president of baseball operations, after he served the team as a consultant for the 2014 season, one of his first orders of business was to rebuild a once-proud farm system. Atlanta used to thrive annually because of homegrown players, and it was seen as essential to get back to the “Braves way” of doing things. John Coppolella, now the team’s general manager, worked in step with Hart to do just that, and no team has done more to restock the prospect shelves.
Starting with the trade that brought Manny Baneulos from the Yankees on Jan. 1 and ending with the blockbuster Shelby Miller deal that netted them Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair, the Braves added no fewer than 12 players to their current Top 30 list via the trade market. And that doesn’t include the Jason Heyward or Justin Upton trades completed last December, nor does it include graduated prospect Mike Foltynewicz from the January Evan Gattis trade. And Hector Olivera doesn’t count as a prospect according to MLBPipeline.com guidelines (we use the same rules that govern the international spending pool).
The big deals from this offseason brought in three sure-fire Top 100 caliber players in Swanson and Blair from the Miller deal and lefty Sean Newcomb in the Andrelton Simmons trade.
Had that been it, the Braves would still make this list. But then their 2015 Draft haul has to be considered. Not only did the Braves go bold by taking Kolby Allard, an injured high school lefty who had top of the round potential, in the first round, they also added young high school talent (the old Braves way again) with Mike Soroka, Austin Riley and Lucas Herbert.
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Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies made most of their noise at the Trade Deadline and during this offseason, breathing some much needed life into a weak system. Two trades — the Cole Hamels deal in July and the Ken Giles one this winter — brought in six players in their current Top 30, including four of the top five.
When Hamels was sent to the Texas Rangers, the Phillies were able to add Jake Thompson, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro, all in the current Top 100 list, along with Alec Asher, who made his big league debut in 2015. The bounty for Giles was Mark Appel (Top 100) and Thomas Eshelman (2015 draftee), both in the current Phillies’ Top 30. Vincent Velasquez graduated off prospect lists late this past season, so he technically doesn’t count, but he was a top 100 prospect prior to his big league time with Houston.
Other trades brought in more talent: Ben Revere netted Alberto Tirado and Jimmy Cordero; Chase Utley’s return was Darnell Sweeney and John Richy; Jonathan Papelbon brought in Nick Pavetta. That’s 10 Top 30 players (Cordero isn’t in the Top 30) via trades. Throw in Cornelius Randolph and Scott Kingery from the Draft, Tyler Goeddel from the Rule 5 Draft and Jhailyn Ortiz, MLBPipeline.com’s No. 8 international prospect whom the Phillies signed for north of $4 million, and the Phillies aren’t far behind the Braves in terms of restocking success.
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Milwaukee Brewers: The best deal for the Brewers may have been the one they didn’t make at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. When the reported trade sending Carlos Gomez to the Mets fell through, they ended up making an even better deal, at least in terms of rebuilding their farm system, with the Astros. It brought in four prospects that landed in their Top 30, including Top 100 prospects Domingo Santana (since graduated) and Brett Phillips. Josh Hader should join them after a strong season and even stronger Arizona Fall League campaign. Adrian Houser threw well following the trade, too.
Zach Davies came in a Deadline deal as well, from Baltimore in return for Gerardo Parra, and he made six starts in the big leagues at the end of the year. That gave the Brewers immediate return in both deals, with Davies and Santana both looking like members of the 2016 Opening Day roster, along with some future star-caliber prospects.
Smaller deals at the start of the year (Yovani Gallardo) and at the very end (Jason Rogers) also netted Top 30-caliber prospects, but aside from the Gomez deal, it was the 2015 Draft that has helped restock the prospect shelves the most. The successful haul brought in four Top 30 players, with the Brewers getting high-ceiling talent like Trent Clark and Demi Orimoloye as well as intriguing college arms like Nathan Kirby (a first-round talent who had injury issues) and Cody Ponce. Add in the advancement of homegrown players like Orlando Arcia and Jorge Lopez and the Brewers have turned around their pipeline as quickly as any team.
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Cincinnati Reds: The trading of Aroldis Chapman was the icing on the Reds’ rebuilding cake. From the Trade Deadline through the Chapman deal, Cincinnati dealt four players to bring in a dozen new young players. Some have already seen time on the Reds’ Major League roster (Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb from the Johnny Cueto deal; Adam Duvall from the Mike Leake trade). Some should help out at the start of the 2016 season (Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler from the Todd Frazier deal). Coming soon might be the best player netted in any of the Reds’ trades, lefty Cody Reed, who was in the Cueto deal and is coming off a breakout 2015 campaign. The Chapman trade gave the Reds a potential replacement for Frazier at third eventually in Eric Jagielo and an intriguing arm in Rookie Davis among the quartet of young players received.
In addition to all of the trades, the Reds had a very strong Draft haul in June, adding five players to their current Top 30 list, headlined by high school catcher Tyler Stephenson. Cincy even used the Rule 5 Draft to bring in an intriguing player, outfielder Jake Cave, and the club is also considered the favorites to land Cuban infielder Alfredo Rodriguez. Considering the success the organization has had in that market (See Chapman, Aroldis and Iglesias, Raisel), that should be seen as a major addition if and when it occurs.
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Colorado Rockies: Any time you trade a cornerstone player like Troy Tulowitzki, the hope is to bring in an infusion of young talent to help rebuild. The Rockies did just that in bringing in three arms with big-league futures. Jeff Hoffman is the best of the trio and the one who has the chance to be a true frontline starter. Miguel Castro has Major League time, and as a closer at that. Jesus Tinoco is the farthest away, but he had a very impressive full-season debut.
Besides the Tulo trade, the 2015 Draft helped the Rockies turn the farm system in the right direction. Five members of the team’s current Top 30 came from last year’s Draft after Colorado used its bonus pool — the second-highest of any team — aggressively. It started, of course, with getting Brendan Rodgers, who was No. 1 on the Draft Top 200 at the time of the Draft. The other four — Mike Nikorak, Tyler Nevin, Peter Lambert and David Hill — all were in the Top 100.
That wasn’t the only way the organization brought in high-end amateur talent. The Rockies gave Daniel Montano, who was ranked No. 14 on the International Top 30, $2 million in July, and they handed out several other six-figure bonuses to Latin American talent.

Let’s all keep an open mind…trades are ultimately and finally evaluated on tomorrow, not yesterday or today.

My mind is open, but I don’t expect a miracle 2016. I am looking forward to seeing the new faces and watching them develop. Will enjoy the wins when they come, but will not be discouraged by the losses, which will come more often. I love the Reds and baseball. Bring it on.

No, 2016 is development year, for sure; especially the SP and BP. We have a pretty good list of prospects…something we haven’t had in quite some time. And,
we are still searching for partners for Phillips and Bruce. I suspect Phillips will continue to not agree to a trade and will find himself slowly being replaced at 2B; we must continue the rebuild and allow the players (Peraza in this case) to gain experience. We certainly cannot sit him behind Phillips for 2 years; that isn’t wise nor what one would expect…not even Phillips. Bruce might be the next to go. The question with Bruce is what would we get in return. Again, we are looking into the fish bowl from the outside so we haven’t a clue what is being offered nor wanted. I would suggest that the Reds need that illusive and average SP to eat up innings, maybe even an average LF/lead off that can be platooned in order to allow Schebler or Rodriguez to take a turn. Even Winker and Cave will get a shot. Rodriguez is out of bullets (options) so it’s make it or move along for him. Could be a fairly solid bench player if they can’t move Bruce along. One other note…they are truly taking their time with Winker. He is only 22 (August); prototype 6’3″, 210 lbs. L-L. He played in AA last season and I suspect he’ll start off in AAA. Guy is extremely consistent; .292/.397/.471/.868 last four years in minors. As always, lot’s of Q’s with few A’s.

I omitted Duvall which I believe the Reds will give him a shot in LF as well, although he is the only real, qualified 1B backup for Votto.

I love the Reds but hate who is incharge, the coaching staff and how thefans will be blameded for the next 10 years why they cant do anything when fans walk away from going to watch a lousy baseball I guess Bob can win the #1 draft picks the next 5 years and brag about getting 1st in something. GGRRRRRR

Agree. Management is a different issue all together.

Top 10 Breakout Pitchers for 2016…ESPN…
5. Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds: 4.13 RA/9 | 2016 James NA, Steamer 3.57

Following in Aroldis Chapman’s footsteps by signing with the Reds in 2014 after emigrating from Cuba, Iglesias turned heads in his abbreviated big league debut, showing command of a four-pitch mix, and rattling off seven consecutive quality starts beginning on Aug. 1. But between a couple of stints in the minors, an oblique injury that cost him a month, some time in the bullpen and getting shut down in mid-September, he made only 16 big league starts while going 3-7. Given a full season in The Show, he may not rack up wins on a weak Reds roster, but his 26 percent strikeout rate was a preview of 2016 dominance.

From MLB Trade Rumors…1/3…
The Reds still have an interest in a reunion with Bronson Arroyo, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon tweets. Cincinnati has been linked to the veteran righty on a couple of occasions this offseason, though GM Dick Williams has stated that his club’s interest is dependent on whether or not Arroyo is recovered from his Tommy John surgery. Arroyo hasn’t pitched since June 2014 due to that surgery yet the Reds are one of at least seven teams who have checked in on his status.
Also from Sheldon, outfielder Yorman Rodriguez will get a long look during Spring Training given the Reds’ needs in the outfield and Rodriguez’s out-of-options contract status. Rodriguez originally signed with the Reds as a 16-year-old in 2008 for $2.5MM, then a record bonus for Venezuelan amateurs. He’s hit .261/.314/.399 with 50 homers over 2546 minor league plate appearances and his MLB experience consists of an 11-game cup of coffee with the Reds in 2014. Baseball America ranked him as Cincinnati’s 10th-best prospect prior to the 2015 season, and in a November chat about the Reds’ farm system, BA’s J.J. Cooper predicted Rodriguez will be the Reds’ Opening Day left fielder.
Since the Reds and Indians recently had discussions about Todd Frazier before the third baseman was dealt to Chicago, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer figures that Jay Bruce’s name probably also came up given the Tribe’s need for outfielders. That said, Hoynes doubts Bruce was or is a fit for Cleveland due to his notable salary ($12.5MM in 2016 and a $13MM club option for 2017 with a $1MM buyout) and inconsistent play. For what it’s worth, the Indians aren’t one of the eight teams on Bruce’s no-trade list.

Bullpen comparison continues to benefit others in NL…
Pirates #1 – 2.67
Cards #2 – 2.82
Cubs #4 – 3.38
Brewers #5 – 3.40
Reds #12 – 3.96
Until this gets resolved, the Reds will not contend.

What is our starters comparison? I don’t think bullpens matter yet. I am sure we will have plenty to choose from that don’t make it as starters

We don’t even know who the five starters will be in 2016, but here is the 411 on NL starters for our division this last season…
Cards #1 – 2.99
Cubs #3 – 3.36
Pirates #5 – 3.53
Reds #12 – 4.58
Brewers #13 – 4.79
NL AVG – 4.07
The Reds have made major strides in trading for SP, and appear to headed in the right direction. However, the BP continues to be in flux. The same listed bullpen pitchers are the producers of our bloated ERA (3.96); less a guy named Chapman.

Here are the pitchers we currently have listed on the Red’s roster…
# Name B/T Ht Wt DOB
— Timothy Adleman* R/R 6’5″ 200lbs 11/13/87
34 Homer Bailey R/R 6’4″ 225lbs 5/3/86
52 Tony Cingrani L/L 6’4″ 210lbs 7/5/89
53 Carlos Contreras R/R 5’11” 215lbs 1/8/91
— Caleb Cotham R/R 6’3″ 215lbs 11/6/87
— Rookie Davis R/R 6’5″ 245lbs 4/29/93
28 Anthony DeSclafani R/R 6’1″ 190lbs 4/18/90
— Dayan Diaz* R/R 5’10” 190lbs 2/10/89
70 Jumbo Diaz R/R 6’4″ 280lbs 2/27/84
31 Brandon Finnegan L/L 5’11” 185lbs 4/14/93
76 Amir Garrett L/L 6’5″ 210lbs 5/3/92
— Drew Hayes* R/R 6’1″ 205lbs 9/3/87
60 J.J. Hoover R/R 6’3″ 245lbs 8/13/87
26 Raisel Iglesias R/R 6’2″ 185lbs 1/4/90
— Stephen Johnson R/R 6’5″ 215lbs 2/21/91
47 John Lamb L/L 6’4″ 205lbs 7/10/90
50 Michael Lorenzen R/R 6’3″ 205lbs 1/4/92
— Tim Melville* R/R 6’4″ 225lbs 10/9/89
46 Jon Moscot R/R 6’4″ 210lbs 8/15/91
— Chris O’Grady R/L 6’4″ 220lbs 4/17/90
— JC Ramirez* R/R 6’4″ 250lbs 8/16/88
— Cody Reed* L/L 6’5″ 220lbs 4/15/93
— Sal Romano L/R 6’4″ 250lbs 10/12/93
48 Keyvius Sampson R/R 6’2″ 225lbs 1/6/91
— Layne Somsen* R/R 6’0″ 190lbs 6/5/89
— Robert Stephenson R/R 6’2″ 200lbs 2/24/93
— Nick Travieso* R/R 6’2″ 225lbs 1/31/94
— Zack Weiss* R/R 6’3″ 210lbs 6/16/92
— Blake Wood R/R 6’5″ 240lbs 8/8/85
* not on 40 man

The High Cost of Bad Math
Posted on 01/04/2016 by MICHAEL MAFFIE
The Arizona Diamondbacks made two major moves this offseason by signing Zack Greinke to the most lucrative contract in baseball history (based on average annual value) and acquiring Shelby Miller from the Braves. The rest of the baseball world immediately panned these deals. Ken Rosenthal (FoxSports) wrote:

“The contract is insane, everyone knows it’s insane, and just as with the Red Sox and David Price, the only question is when the Diamondbacks start to regret it.”

Regarding the Braves’ haul for Shelby Miller, Jayson Stark (ESPN) said he has heard the deal described as the “heist of the decade”.

When you see decisions that could cripple a team from both a financial and talent perspective, it makes you wonder, who’s running that team’s analytics department? The answer: Dr. Ed Lewis.

During the early 2000s, Dr. Lewis was a special assistant to Tony LaRussa in St. Louis and has reunited with his old partner-in-crime in the desert. Lewis runs Arizona’s analytics department. At first glance, Dr. Lewis looks like a smart investment by the Diamondbacks. He has an advanced degree, for example. The problem is that Dr. Lewis, while obviously smart, has no formal mathematical training: he’s a vet.

No, not former military. An animal doctor.

It gets better. When a local newspaper asked Dr. Lewis about his qualifications, Lewis stated that he had been a veterinarian for 18 years and has traded “pretty aggressively” on the stock market.

To be clear, Ed Lewis isn’t solely to blame for the Diamondbacks’ disastrous decision-making. The veterinarian profession is noble. But skepticism regarding analytics runs deep out in the desert, evidenced by Dave Stewart, the Diamondback’s GM, stating, “We’ll use it [analytics]. It stops before the first pitch is thrown. … It’s not that we devalue it. We value it when it’s used appropriately. We do not value its intrusion into the game.”

It’s this attitude at the top that drives the Diamondbacks’ weak investment in the maths.

What’s more, franchise-crippling contracts aren’t rare. Consider: Barry Zito (7 years, $126M; 4.4 total WAR); Ryan Howard (5 years, $125M, -2.2 WAR in the first four years); BJ Upton (5 years, $75M; 0.4 WAR), to list a few.

The argument for better math goes like this: It can help clubs avoid contracts like those while also identifying talent to for organizations to lock up before players hit arbitration. The poster child for this argument is Evan Longoria. The Tampa Bay Rays signed him to a 9-year deal only six days after his MLB debut. Longoria’s deal will pay $47.6M through the end of 2016. He has already produced roughly 42 WAR (more than $200M dollars in value) for the Rays.

Big-contract mistakes could have been avoided with investment in analytics. For example, the best research on aging curves in the post-PED era shows that players age more quickly and aging varies by position compared to the steroid/amphetamine era. Investment in forecasting models that added more accurate regression projection for players after the Joint Drugs Agreement might have led to the conclusions that clubs needed to give older players more days off and also avoid signing long term deals until the labor market stabilized. During the transition years, teams didn’t just lose one or two million dollars, but tens of millions.

Consider the following thought experiment: Say a robust baseball analytics department improves a team’s decision-making, on average, by one percent. In 2015, the average payroll for a MLB team was $113 million. What does $1.13M buy you in the analytics world? (Short answer: a lot).

The Low Cost of Good Math

The Society for Human Resource Management estimates the average starting salary for someone with a BA in Science Technology Engineering and Math in the United States is $43,000. Payscale estimates that a masters degree in a STEM field will up the starting pay to $80,000-$89,000 and hit $120,00-$171,000 mid-career.

If you make the poor life choice to go for a Ph.D., an academic statistician can expect between $80,000-$94,000 their first year and $120,000 mid-career (AMSTAT). For academics in the field of physics, pay is a bit lower.

In the private sector, Payscale estimates that a director of analytics will make between $87,000 and $187,000 in total compensation. These numbers are pretty close to the estimate at other websites. Glassdoor estimates that the average salary of a statistical consultant is about $75,000.

Remember that $1.3 million – the cost of shaving 1 percent off payroll by using advanced math? Let’s use it to hire an experienced director of analytics at $190,000, three researchers with MS degrees in statistics at $95,000 each, and six data crunchers at $50,000. Our analytics department would cost $775,000/yr. Add in software and technology and you’re looking a cost of $925,000 for a fully armed and operational battle station.That hypothetical firepower would be at the top of MLB in quality and quantity.

Back in the real world, it’s hard to get an accurate accounting of analytics department staffing and spending. I’ve heard the median department is around 3 full-time people.

Conclusion

The Reds are moving in the right direction. They promoted Sam Grossman from director of analytics to assistant GM. The front office added two additional positions to the Reds analytics division.

These changes, though, are incremental and limited. More aggressive spending, not only on entry-level people, but experienced analysts with advanced degrees who have worked for other baseball organizations, presents a real opportunity.

The Reds rebuilding effort is often compared in a positive way to what the Cubs and Astros have accomplished in recent years. Those clubs made decisive, all-in commitments to analytics, not half measures with one foot in old-school methods and another in modern thinking.

Like many decisions in business, how you weigh cost depends on what you think of the benefit: If the team leadership doesn’t believe analytics can improve baseball decisions, then it doesn’t matter if the Reds compare these costs to their annual revenue ($227 million), player expense ($130 million), or team value ($885 million).

We’ve heard the maxim that if you think knowledge is expensive try ignorance.

Well, if you think analytics are expensive, go ahead and sign Jason Marquis, or Willy Taveras, or Kevin Gregg, or Skip Schumaker, or Brennan Boesch or …

Where’s Bruce going?…
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon | 4:04 PM ET
CINCINNATI — Working to shed veterans and get younger, the Reds have been busy all offseason with trades and attempted trades. Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman were moved last month, and Brandon Phillips would have been dealt had he accepted a trade to Washington.

Since Joey Votto isn’t expected to be going anywhere, that leaves right fielder Jay Bruce.

Just to review where things with Bruce stand, he is owed $12.5 million in 2016 and has a $13 million club option for 2017 with a $1 million buyout. The left-handed slugger will turn 29 on April 3.
There are eight clubs on Bruce’s limited no-trade provision: the Yankees, Red Sox, A’s, Rays, Marlins, Twins, Indians and D-backs. The Blue Jays were on the list in previous years but were taken off, with Cleveland being added instead.
A stalled free agent market certainly complicates the issue, and there are multiple corner outfielders still on the market, including two big ones in Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon, in addition to Gerardo Parra and Justin Upton. If the prices on players of that ilk start falling, it might make more sense for interested clubs to get a better or comparable player through a signing without having to give up anybody in return for a trade.
In many of their deals up to this point, the Reds have been acquiring young players at the Double-A and Triple-A level. They have a preference for position players, but have not ruled out adding more pitching.
Here are some potential destinations for Bruce:
Orioles: General manager Dan Duquette was looking for a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder at the Winter Meetings. Then Baltimore signed one in Korean professional player Hyun Soo Kim. But Duquette might not be done with outfield additions — reports also have the club in pursuit of the right-handed Cespedes.
Angels: The Angels very much need a left-handed-hitting left fielder, but might not have room fiscally for Bruce. They’re about $5 million below the luxury tax threshold, and owner Arte Moreno has historically been hesitant to exceed it.
Royals: Kansas City is still trying to retain Gordon but would have to pivot for a replacement if he signs elsewhere. Bruce’s short-term contract for a relatively friendly price point could be just what a competitive small-market club might need. The Reds and Royals have already done business recently in last summer’s trade of ace Johnny Cueto for three left-handed pitching prospects. Cincinnati should be very familiar with the young talent in the Royals’ system.
Giants: Recently rumored to be interested in Parra, San Francisco could have a fallback in Bruce should that not happen. On the other hand, the Giants already have more than $160 million committed to 13 players — including a big free agent acquisition in Cueto. They’ll almost certainly be paying some luxury tax.
Tigers: With J.D. Martinez currently in left field, the Tigers certainly could use a player like Bruce. However, general manager Al Avila has said his club is likely done with moves until Spring Training starts.
Indians: Besides being on Bruce’s no-trade list, the Indians also reportedly signed free agent Mike Napoli to a one-year deal (though not yet announced). The Indians and Reds held talks about Frazier last month, with Cincinnati asking for a lot in the way of young talent without getting a match.
In 2015, Bruce batted .226/.294/.434 with 26 homers and 87 RBIs. He averaged .222/.288/.406 with 22 homers and 76 RBIs over the past two struggle-filled seasons.
From 2010-13, Bruce averaged .262/.337/.489 with 30 home runs and 94 RBIs. Any club that added him this winter would be banking that he has those types of numbers and a potential resurgence left.

I hope someone wants and takes him.

Can the Reds find their pitchers?
By Cy Schourek  @AJKhn on Jan 3, 2016
SB Nation

This is basically a card game: Cincinnati has about 52 pitching prospects of various repute, and they need to find five of them that’ll give them ~900 innings of not-embarrassing pitching. One can imagine the permutations flickering through Dick Williams’ head here — is there any way for the maths to work out?

What do they know? Anthony DeSclafani and Raisiel Iglesias both seem to be pretty decent. Disco didn’t quite break 200IP thanks to a rough September, but looks to be league average. Raisiel didn’t quite break 100IP, but flashed a lot of exciting stuff in his first year in the United States. Them two, plus a Homer Bailey returning in June-ish is, best-case scenario, a bedrock of stability.

After that: choose your favorites from: Brandon Finnegan*, Jon Lamb*, Jon Moscot, Tony Cingrani*, Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed*, Jackson Stephens, Amir Garrett*, Seth Varner,* Nick Travieso and Keury Mella. Lefties are given asterisks. And if your favorite is Keyvious Sampson or Josh Smith, too bad.

What separates the above twelve dudes? I’ll be honest, I have no idea. Lamb was poo-pooed as a back-end starter, but he looked fiesty (if homer-prone) to me. Finnegan is a bulldog, Moscot seems to have maxx pitchability, and Stephenson/Reed may be the next big things. We get to take all of Spring Training to decide, and really all of 2016. None of these youngsters are going to break 200 IP before 2017, realistically. Cincinnati will probably get a veteran starter to balance this all out anyways, but we fans basically get to go through Soviet-style training with a bunch of young fresh arms: throw ’em all against the wall and celebrate which ones don’t break.

Even besides the ones I’ve mentioned, there is also Sal Romano, Wyatt Strahan, Mark Armstrong, and Tyler Mahle in the pipeline. Not all of them are going to work out, surely, but there will be interesting pitching depth up-and-down the system. You could even choose to get psyched up about Antonio Santillan and Ty Boyles if you so choose. Pretty much every start will have something that we could call “meaning” in a 2016 season otherwise devoid of it.

As for relievers, you’ll have whatever fallout from ^above^ mixing it up with JJ Hoover, Jumbo Diaz, Ryan Mattheus goshdangit, and Rule Five LOOGY Chris O’Grady. Future Closer of the Future Zack Weiss might break camp with the team, as could the confusingly-named Stephen Johnson. The Reds will be in Year One of the Royals-track “create an evil bullpen via prospects with chips on their shoulders” in 2016. And if it fails, hey, there’ll always be retreads and other prospects to fall back on. Come watch the sausage get made in 2016!

Baseball Hall of Fame: 8 ballots, and some actual agreements
USA TODAY Sports 3:32 p.m. EST January 5, 2016

With more than a dozen qualified candidates, just 10 slots available on the ballot and the ever-present cloud of performance-enhancing drug use complicating the process, this year’s baseball Hall of Fame ballot once again sparked significant debate, moral dilemmas and quandaries for voters.

A glance at ballots cast within the USA TODAY NETWORK is enough to confirm that.

Our 10-year members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America showed that even in a small sample, gleaning a consensus among the 75% necessary to elect players is challenging.

This much we know: Wednesday evening will be a slam-dunk celebration for Ken Griffey Jr., a unanimous pick in our survey and also external polls that show he has a chance to break the all-time vote percentage mark of 98.84, by Tom Seaver when results of balloting are announced.

For the other dozen or so candidates? It will be nervous time – although our panel produced unanimous support for a quartet that may find themselves in Cooperstown come July.

A look at eight Hall of Fame ballots cast by USA TODAY NETWORK staffers, and the rationale behind them:

Dave Ammenheuser, The Tennessean

On my ballot: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling.

Why they’re in: Just one slam dunk (Griffey), but so many others who were the best of the best during their specific eras. First time I’ve voted for Bonds and Clemens, giving into the fact that their careers were Hall-worthy before their alleged PED use. Hoffman, Martinez and Raines likely won’t reach the 75% plateau, but were among the sport’s all-time best at what they did (closer, designated hitter, base stealer).

In the future: Could have easily gone with 12-13 this time. Strong arguments could be made to include Lee Smith, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent and Gary Sheffield. The field will get much tougher in the next five years with Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter all becoming eligible.

Peter Barzilai, USA TODAY Sports

On my ballot: Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens, Griffey, Martinez, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Alan Trammell.

Why they’re in: After years of telling anybody who would listen I would never vote for Bonds or Clemens, I emerged from deep contemplation on this, my first ballot, with a new perspective. The rationale is simple, and not particularly new: While the evidence is overwhelming those two used banned PEDs, it’s not nearly as easy to identify other dopers, and I’m no criminologist. As for the rest of the ballot, I struggled with Martinez, Mussina and Schilling. Ultimately I decided Martinez’s contributions with the bat as a DH outweighed his lack of contribution with the glove, and that Mussina and Schilling were among the elite pitchers of an era that heavily favored hitters.

In the future: While not a supporter of the maximum 10-person ballot rule, I’m also not ready to wave home several of this year’s borderline candidates in the future, including Trevor Hoffman, Gary Sheffield and Larry Walker. Plus next year brings a new wave of questions and numbers crunching for Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and others.

Scott Bordow, Arizona Republic

On my ballot: Bagwell, Griffey, Hoffman, Martinez, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Trammell

Why they’re in: Griffey was the obvious choice. Schilling’s post-season brilliance gave him the nod, and I voted for Hoffman because he was one of best at his position, even if the value of the save statistic has been questioned.

In the future: I’ll continue to vote against players who have used PEDs, Clemens and Bonds the most obvious examples. That other cheaters may have gotten into the Hall of Fame for decades is not my concern. I didn’t have a vote then. I do now, and as long as integrity, sportsmanship and character are part of the criteria they will not appear on my ballot.

Mark Faller, Arizona Republic

On my ballot: Bagwell, Griffey, Martinez, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling

Why they’re in: This year I’m comfortable with voting for just those seven. I’ve voted for Bagwell every year he’s been on the ballot and did so again this time. I’m also continuing to vote for Piazza, the best offensive catcher of his generation who, far as we can tell, lacks any substantive link to PEDs.

In the future: Among the other newcomers, names that stood out at first glance were Jim Edmonds and two closers – Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner. For these three, it may take strong belief in the power of advanced metrics to get over the top.

Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY Sports

On my ballot: Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens, Griffey, Hoffman, Piazza, Raines, Gary Sheffield, Trammell, Larry Walker

Why they’re in: Hoffman was my last man in; I’m reluctant to include relievers, but his performance compares favorably to Mariano Rivera, who will likely be deemed a first-ballot lock. Walker’s appeared on all four of my ballots, a nod to a legitimate five-tool player who stacks up well against previously enshrined outfielders and was far from a mere Coors Field creation.

In the future: Will give stronger consideration to Mussina and particularly Curt Schilling, whose ERA-plus of 127 is superior to Hall of Famers like Bert Blyleven, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.

Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports

On my ballot: Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens, Griffey, Hoffman, Fred McGriff, Piazza, Raines, Sheffield, Sammy Sosa
Why they’re in: These 10 players simply were the finest players of their era, and all happened to play in the heart of the steroid era. It’s impossible to know who used, and who didn’t, but the numbers don’t lie. They all deserve to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

In the future: Mike Mussina, who won 270 games despite pitching his entire career in the offensive powerhouse of the AL East, and in the heart of the steroid era, will get in, but it will take time.

Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY Sports

On my ballot: Bagwell, Griffey, Hoffman, Jeff Kent, Piazza, Raines

Why they’re in: Griffey is an automatic and Hoffman was the National League’s answer to Mariano Rivera, though with only a fraction of the postseason appearances. I won’t consider obvious steroids guys like Bonds and Clemens until their last year on the ballot – my version of putting them in purgatory for their sins – but the suspicions about Piazza and Bagwell don’t rise to the same level, so I’m voting for them with some trepidation. Raines was one of the top leadoff men of all time and his career .810 OPS is only 10 points below Rickey Henderson’s. Kent averaged 28 homers and 110 RBI over a nine-year stretch as a second baseman.

In the future: Upon closer scrutiny of Billy Wagner’s candidacy, I was surprised by how strong a case he had – he personified dominance as a reliever – and would consider voting for him. Mike Mussina and Gary Sheffield also warrant closer examination. And I’m curious how Omar Vizquel – a nonpareil defensive shortstop who played in an era when the position became more geared toward offense – will be judged when he becomes eligible in a couple of years.

C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer

On my ballot: Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens, Griffey, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Trammell, Walker

Why they’re in: I vote for the 10 greatest players on the ballot. There’s no gamesmanship or trying to figure out who needs support the most. I rank the players one-through-32 and mark off the top 10. That’s where my 10 come from, the 10 players with the 10 best careers.

In the future: Edgar Martinez, Gary Sheffield, Jeff Kent, Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner and Jim Edmonds – all have compelling cases, they just came up short compared to the other 10.

Totals (8 ballots; 75% required for induction):

T-1. Griffey 8, 100%

T-1. Bagwell, 8, 100%

T-1. Raines, 8, 100%

T-1. Piazza, 8, 100%

T-5. Bonds, 5, 62.5%

T-5. Clemens, 5, 62.5%

T-5. Hoffman, 5, 62.5%

T-5. Mussina, 5, 62.5%

T-5. Schilling, 5, 62.5%

T-10. Martinez, 4, 50%

T-10. Trammell, 4, 50%

T-12. Sheffield, 2, 25%

T-12. Walker, 2, 25%

T-14. McGriff, 1, 12.5%

T-14. Kent, 1, 12.5%

T-14. Sosa, 1, 12.5%

Forgotten, and almost gone: 5 Hall of Fame candidates hampered by their era
Jorge L. Ortiz2:23 p.m. EST January 5, 2016

This past November, a proposal by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to expand the Hall of Fame ballot from 10 to 12 spots was tabled by the museum’s board of directors, an effort to keep induction to the shrine difficult.

Combined with the ongoing disagreement over how to deal with steroid-tainted players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza and Gary Sheffield, the limitation has resulted in a ballot logjam that figures to hamper the cases of some worthy candidates and, at least in one instance, led to a well-credentialed player getting bounced out after one go-round.

Former Toronto Blue Jays star Carlos Delgado received less than 5% of the vote in his first year of eligibility in 2015, meaning he’s no longer on the ballot even though his career stats compare favorably with fellow first baseman Fred McGriff, who probably won’t gain induction but may get his full 10-year run.

In a different time not so long ago, Delgado (473 career homers, .929 OPS) and McGriff (493 and .886) might have gained entry into the Hall, but their stats lost value by virtue of them playing the bulk of their careers during the steroid era, which saw offensive numbers explode to cartoonish proportions.

The same may eventually be said of other standouts in the current class, such as Sheffield, Jeff Kent, Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker, who appear longshots to have their names etched on Cooperstown plaques despite meritorious careers.

Other than Edmonds, who is making his first appearance on the ballot, they share a bond with McGriff: All have statistics that bear a long look by the electorate – yet all of them received just 10-15% of the vote in last year’s election, well short of the 75% required for induction.

Here’s a look at all five cases:
………………..

Sheffield: The Similarity Scores on Sheffield’s baseball-reference.com page put him alongside seven Hall of Famers and two more likely ones among the top 10 names. That’s impressive company, even when only one of those Hall of Famers – Frank Thomas – was a contemporary who played in the steroid era.

But while Thomas was an outspoken critic of the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Sheffield was named in the Mitchell Report and testiifed in the BALCO trial. Voters have been harsh on players with such direct links to steroids – Rafael Palmeiro is no longer on the ballot and Sosa and his 609 career homers may fall off this year – so it came as no surprise that Sheffield received just 11.7% of support on his first try last year.

In addition, Sheffield’s indifference toward fielding will be held against him. Though fielding metrics remain unreliable, his inability to record a single season with a positive defensive WAR in his 22-year career shows consistently subpar performance in that aspect of the game.
In the past, such foibles may have been overlooked because of the impressive nature of Sheffield’s offensive accomplishments: 509 home runs, 25th on the career list, along with 1,676 RBI (27th), a .907 OPS (56th, right behind Ken Griffey Jr.), five Silver Slugger awards and three top-three MVP finishes.

They’re compelling numbers, but in a crowded field that includes better-rounded outfielders like Edmonds and Walker, they’re probably not enough to lift Sheffield above the competition.
………………….

Edmonds: The eight-time Gold Glove winner left an indelible mark with his back-to-the-plate catches both with the then-Anaheim Angels and St. Louis Cardinals. The spectacular, reckless nature of his play in center field sometimes overshadowed Edmonds’ feats at the plate, but in his first full season he earned All-Star recognition in compiling a .290 batting average with 33 homers and 107 RBI.

Such production was not rare when Edmonds stayed healthy for a full season, especially after he joined the Cardinals in 2000. He averaged 35 homers, 98 RBI and a .989 OPS in his first six seasons in St. Louis, two of them earning him a top-five spot in the MVP voting. But even though Edmonds played 17 years, many of them were truncated by injuries, especially late in his career, when concussions hampered him, and he fell short of some of the milestones that catch the attention of Hall voters.

Edmonds’ offensive output was just a notch below the numbers put up by Hall of Fame center fielder Duke Snider, who finished with a career OPS of .919 with 407 homers and 1,333 RBI in 2,143 games. Edmonds, a better fielder, finished with a .903 OPS, 393 homers and 1,199 RBI in 2,011 games.

It took Snider 11 attempts to earn entry into the Hall. Edmonds will have fewer chances, maybe just a handful of tries, and runs the risk of failing to get the minimum 5% to stay on the ballot.
………………….

Walker: The big, wisecracking Canadian won three batting crowns in a four-year span from 1998-2001 and earned NL MVP honors in 1997. He was a seven-time Gold Glove winner as a right fielder with a formidable arm, and he reached double figures in stolen bases 11 times. His .965 career OPS ranks 15th all-time, right between Thomas and Miguel Cabrera, ahead of iconic outfielders like Mel Ott (.947), Ty Cobb (.945) and Willie Mays (.941).

And yet, Walker’s highest voting total was 22.9% in 2012, his second year of eligibility, and it has been down to the low teens the last two years. His biggest sin hasn’t been a link to steroids – there hasn’t been any credible suspicion – but rather playing home games for 9½ of his 17 seasons in Colorado’s thin air.

Walker was already a multifaceted star by the time he arrived in Denver in 1995, but his game took off in Coors Field, and some of his inflated stats have been logically ascribed to playing in that hitters’ paradise. A career .313 hitter, Walker produced a .381 batting average and a preposterous 1.172 OPS in 597 games at Coors, along with 154 of his 383 homers. For his career, Walker had a 1.068 home OPS, .865 on the road.

In Denver, he hit a homer every 16.2 plate appearances. Elsewhere, one every 24.1. Over the course of 600 plate appearances in a season, that’s the difference between hitting 37 and 25 homers. The latter is nice production, but not hall worthy.
…………………..

McGriff: He’s tied with Lou Gehrig in the 28th spot on the home run list and led each league in homers once. At one point, coming within seven homers of the 500-homer mark earned a hitter strong Hall of Fame consideration. Willie Stargell got in with 475 home runs and an .889 OPS that was just three points higher than McGriff’s.

But the standards had changed by the time McGriff entered the ballot in 2010. Years of reports about the steroid abuses in baseball and the bloated power numbers they had engendered rendered once-magical milestones nearly meaningless. Of the 12 players who have joined the 500-homer club since 1997, six are currently eligible for the Hall (excluding Griffey, who’s on his first year on the ballot). Of those, only Thomas has been voted in. Bonds, Sosa, Mark McGwire, Palmeiro and Sheffield remain on the outside. So does McGriff, even though he never aroused suspicion of PED use.

Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor establishes 100 points as the figure at which a candidate becomes a likely Hall of Famer. McGriff hit that number on the nose, but his trend has been going in the wrong direction. After surging to 23.9% of the vote in his third year of eligibility in 2012, he has dropped substantially ever since as the ballot has gotten more congested. Last year’s 12.9% was his second-lowest and likely served as an indication his chances are doomed.
…………………

Kent: You would think holding the record for the most home runs as a second baseman, along with an MVP and four Silver Slugger awards, would merit strong consideration for Hall admission. And it might eventually come for Kent, but the voting totals in his first two years – 15.2% and 14% – present a stark picture of the long way he has to go to attain the 75% required for election.

Kent was more than merely Bonds’ foil and the beneficiary of his lineup presence during their highly successful if contentious six seasons together with the San Francisco Giants. During a nine-year stretch that included his MVP season of 2000, Kent averaged 28 homers and 110 RBI, and three of those seasons came after he left the Giants.

Kent hit 351 of his 377 career home runs as a second baseman. The next four on the list — Ryne Sandberg (275), Rogers Hornsby (271), Joe Morgan (268) and Joe Gordon (246) – are all in the Hall. Among that group, only Hornsby had a better OPS than Kent’s .855 mark.
Modern fielding metrics don’t favor Kent, who lacked the range and defensive acrobatics of Roberto Alomar or the versatility of Craig Biggio, two second basemen elected to the Hall in the last five years. But besides being notoriously fickle, those stats don’t measure factors such as hanging tough to complete a double play, a Kent trait.

Still, his candidacy is based more on his offensive exploits, and like some of his contemporaries, it has taken a hit both by the jam-packed ballot and the reevaluation of stats accumulated during the era they played in.

Excerpt from MLB Trade Rumors…1/4…
Former Blue Jays scouting director Bob Engel is heading to the Reds organization as the new international cross-checker, according to reports from Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com (via Twitter) and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun (on Twitter). Cincinnati has made some notable international signings in recent years with Raisel Iglesias and Aroldis Chapman.
Young outfielder Yorman Rodriguez could find a chance with the Reds this spring, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. The out-of-options 23-year-old will likely compete with other inexperienced players like Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall. Rodriguez put up a .269/.308/.429 slash last year over 326 Triple-A plate appearances.
All of those outfielders would benefit, of course, if the Reds end up trading Jay Bruce, of course, although it would stand to reason that the organization will bring in some low-cost veterans once the market shakes out. As for Bruce, Sheldon reports that the Indians have replaced the Blue Jays on his limited no-trade list — likely a reflection of the fact that Cleveland has been pursuing outfield help this winter. The other clubs to which Bruce can block a deal are the Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics, Rays, Marlins, Twins, and Diamondbacks. Sheldon breaks down the possible suitors for the left-handed hitting veteran.

Will Griffey be first to obtain 100%?…
Top 10 HOF vote-getters by percentage
Year…………Player……Ballots..cast…Votes..%
1992 Tom Seaver 430 425 98.84
1999 Nolan Ryan 497 491 98.79
2007 Cal Ripken Jr. 545 537 98.53
1936 Ty Cobb 226 222 98.23
1999 George Brett 497 488 98.19
1982 Hank Aaron 415 406 97.83
2007 Tony Gwynn 545 532 97.60
2015 Randy Johnson 549 534 97.27
2014 Greg Maddux 571 555 97.20
1995 Mike Schmidt 460 444 96.52

I am a surprised that Maddux and Aaron weren’t already 100% achievers.

Jim Cable; ESPN…
Junior’s achievements: 24 of Ken Griffey Jr.’s most remarkable feats
play…

With the Hall of Fame election announcement looming on Wednesday, the question is less about whether Ken Griffey Jr. will be elected. The real question is how there will possibly be enough room on Griffey’s bronze plaque in Cooperstown to list all of his accomplishments.

Will Ken Griffey Jr. be first unanimous Hall of Fame selection?
Tom Seaver holds the record for receiving the highest percentage of HOF votes, so Ken Griffey Jr. has something to swing for.
After all, this is a man who hit more than 600 career home runs, spurred fans into making big rookie card investments, appeared on “The Simpsons,” imitated Spider-Man with his acrobatic catches, saved a franchise, built a stadium, made a baseball fashion statement and ran for president of the United States (well, sort of).

“I would say he’s the best center fielder who ever played the game,” said Jay Buhner, Griffey’s good friend and former teammate. “He had the sweetest swing, the biggest smile and the hat-on-backward thing. His energy was infectious and contagious. You talk about guys who could carry a team for a week or a month, well, Junior could carry it for a year.

“He was around the game all his life. He grew up around Hall of Famers. The game was like his second home.”

And now Cooperstown will almost certainly become a third home for Junior, though the person charged with writing the text on his plaque will face quite a challenge. To help out, and honor the player who wore No. 24 so well, here are 24 of Griffey’s greatest feats and most significant cultural contributions:

1. Like father, like son: A week after making his big league debut, Griffey hit his first major league home run on the very first pitch thrown to him at the Mariners’ home opener on April 10, 1989, in the Kingdome. It was even more remarkable given that it was his father’s birthday. The next season, on Aug. 31, 1990, Junior and Ken Griffey Sr. became the first father-son pair to ever play together in the majors. A few weeks later, on Sept. 14, they homered back-to-back — a feat no pair has since matched. “And I don’t think it will ever happen again,” Buhner said. The two combined to hit .310 with 13 homers in 48 games together, with Senior actually outhitting Junior, .331 to .291.

2. Like father, but not like son, nor daughter: Not surprisingly, Junior’s kids also are excellent athletes; eldest son Trey Griffey plays football at the University of Arizona and daughter Taryn is a guard on the Arizona women’s basketball team. But they, along with youngest son, Tevin, 12, never showed great interest in baseball. “Baseball will always be in my genes,” Trey — who followed in Junior’s footsteps in one respect by making a big play on his dad’s birthday — told ESPN.com in 2012. “I’ll always know a lot about it because of my father and grandfather. But I don’t really have the love for it that I do for football.” Which is fine with his father. “He is not his dad,” Junior once told ESPN.com. “I learned that from a young age. People feel like they have a right to judge you because of past history. He is trying to make his own history.”

3. Like mother, like son: And don’t forget Griffey’s mother, Birdie. Junior doesn’t. Especially on Mother’s Day, when he homered seven times in his career. “You try to do your best on certain days, and Mother’s Day is one of them,” Griffey said after his seventh career Mother’s Day homer in 2009. “You don’t want to get yelled at by Mom at home if you take an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.”

4. Family ties — vs. family Bonds: Junior and Senior combined for 782 home runs, 4,924 hits, 2,791 runs, 2,695 RBIs, 16 All-Star Game appearances, 10 Gold Gloves and one MVP award during their careers. That’s impressive, but not the best all-time MLB numbers by a father-son duo. Bobby and Barry Bonds combined for 1,094 homers, 4,821 hits, 3,485 runs, 3,020 RBIs, 975 stolen bases, 17 All-Star selections, 11 Gold Gloves and seven MVPs (the last all Barry). If only Junior’s younger brother, Craig, who played seven seasons in the minors, had reached the majors.

5. Whew! That was close, Seattle fans: When his team earned the first pick in the 1987 draft, Mariners owner George Argyros decided to pick college pitcher Mike Harkey. Fortunately, club president Chuck Armstrong, general manager Dick Balderson and scouting director Roger Jongewaard overruled Argyros and made Griffey their selection. Griffey’s agent, Brian Goldberg, says Seattle offered Junior a $160,000 signing bonus roughly 72 hours before the draft and he accepted it so he would be the No. 1 pick. That bonus not only was about $6.3 million less than what 2015 No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson got last summer, it was less than what 1987’s No. 2 pick, Mark Merchant, received. Goldberg says Griffey didn’t care. “I’m confident I’ll make up whatever the difference was,” Junior told him at the time. He did, earning roughly $150 million over the course of his career.

6. Retired numbers: Griffey famously wore No. 24 with Seattle, choosing it because Rickey Henderson sported the number with the Yankees when Griffey Sr. played there. But shortly after Junior was traded to Cincinnati in 2000, the Reds retired No. 24 for Tony Perez. So Griffey switched to No. 30, the number his father had worn in Cincy. Junior switched again, to No. 3, in 2006 to recognize his three children. After he was traded to the White Sox in 2008, he switched to No. 17 because 3 was retired (for Harold Baines) and 30 was taken (by Nick Swisher). Griffey finally changed back to 24 when he rejoined the Mariners in 2009.

More significantly, Griffey wore No. 42 on April 15, 1997, the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut, after receiving special permission from MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Robinson’s widow, Rachel. That started the tradition of every player wearing No. 42 every Jackie Robinson Day.

Although Griffey considered himself a line-drive hitter, he was known for his sweet swing and prodigious homers. Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images
7. Hit it here, Junior! Griffey didn’t like being called a home run hitter because he considered himself “a line-drive hitter” — which is odd considering that he hit a home run out of the Kingdome and off the Space Needle. OK, that was just in a commercial, but he did actually slam a ball off the warehouse at Camden Yards during the 1993 Home Run Derby. With that beautiful swing of his, Griffey also led the league in home runs four times, including 1994, when he hit 40 home runs in 111 games before the strike. He also homered in a record-tying eight consecutive games in 1993, after which Mariners catcher Dave Valle said, “If he were in any other city, he would be the Michael Jordan of baseball.”

Ah, but he already was the Ken Griffey Jr. of baseball — which Michael Jordan could not duplicate.

8. Hitting the Upper Deck: Junior’s beaming face was featured on card No. 1 in the first series issued by Upper Deck in 1989, and collectors quickly stored it away, believing they would make a fortune off the small piece of cardboard. No such luck. The price of the card eventually reached $150, but expectations that it could be worth as much as a Mickey Mantle rookie card (one of which recently sold for $486,000) were never fulfilled. For one reason, the card market collapsed after the 1994 strike. Two, Upper Deck printed more than one million Griffey cards and so many people saved them that there still is no shortage of the cards. Don Joss, owner of Seattle-based DJ’s Sportscards, says the retail price today for one is usually around $20.

But Griffey’s card wasn’t the only notable collectible from his rookie year. …

9. A chocolate bar, but no Junior Mints: Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth each had chocolate bars named for them after they became stars (though the Curtiss Candy Co. dubiously claimed the Baby Ruth bar was actually named after former President Grover Cleveland’s daughter). The Ken Griffey Jr. bar debuted barely one month into his rookie season. DJ’s Sportscards still has Griffey bars for sale ($4), but it might be wise to keep them in their wrappers rather than snack on them 27 years later. Especially since Junior said his face broke out after he ate one in 1989.

10. When success went to his head: Griffey was so talented that he taught baseball fundamentals to Bigfoot in a 1991 episode of the forgettable “Harry and the Hendersons.” His most famous TV appearance, however, was in the 1992 Simpsons episode, “Homer at the Bat,” in which Griffey’s head swelled to an absurd size after he drank “nerve tonic” provided by Mr. Burns (or perhaps it was Jose Canseco). Though Junior said he watched the episode only once, it made him well known globally. After Australian pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith struck out Junior during the hurler’s 2007 big league debut, Rowland-Smith said the only reason his friends Down Under knew who Griffey was “is because he was on ‘The Simpsons.'”

11. Vote for Junior: By 1996, Griffey was so popular that Nike aired commercials featuring Junior campaigning for U.S. president. He wasn’t elected because, at 26, he was nine years younger than the minimum age required to be president (or maybe it was because he chose the Mariner Moose as his running mate). Griffey did receive 50,045,065 All-Star votes during his career, or more than Bill Clinton received in winning the 1996 presidential election.

Griffey’s latest star turn: playing himself, riding a moped, in the video for Macklemore’s 2015 hit, “Downtown.” Ryan Lewis/YouTube
12. Goin’ downtown: Junior remains so beloved he was featured in Macklemore’s recent hit video, “Downtown.” Of course, Macklemore is a Seattleite who grew up a passionate fan of the Mariners and Griffey (one of the rapper’s early songs, “Niehaus,” is a tribute to the team’s late broadcaster). In addition to riding a moped in the video, Griffey catches a fish at Pike Place Market in the heart of Seattle’s downtown. He is smiling and wearing a 1989 Mariners cap, duplicating that 1989 Upper Deck card.

13. Behind the smile: Former Mariners coach John McLaren says three players who stuck out in his mind because of their happy-go-lucky demeanor were Kirby Puckett, Dave Henderson and Griffey. “They were high-energy guys who always had smiles on their faces and the other players would feed off them,” McLaren said. “And it’s tragic two of them aren’t with us.” While Griffey was known for his grin, he wasn’t always all smiles off the field. Griffey, then just 17, was depressed and overwhelmed after his 1987 season in the minors, he later told reporter Bob Finnegan, and attempted to commit suicide by swallowing more than 200 aspirin. He was taken to the hospital in Ohio, where he had his stomach pumped. “Don’t ever try to commit suicide,” he said. “I am living proof how stupid it is.”

One of Griffey’s most remarkable catches was this grab in 1995, when he leaped up against the wall at the Kingdome to rob Baltimore’s Kevin Bass — but broke his wrist in the process. AP Photo/Gary Stewart
14. The amazing Spider-Man: One of the greatest center fielders ever, Griffey won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1990-99. He famously robbed Jesse Barfield of a home run at Yankee Stadium, but perhaps his most remarkable catch was the grab above in 1991, when he leaped up against the wall and ever so briefly stuck there like Spider-Man. He duplicated that effort in 1995 with a catch that, while equally spectacular, also broke his wrist and forced him to miss 73 games. Fortunately for Seattle, the web-slinger came back.

15. The Comeback Kid: When that catch broke Junior’s wrist in late May of 1995, the Mariners were 3½ games out of first. When he returned in mid-August, they were 12½ games back. Griffey’s return, which included a walk-off home run against the Yankees, helped fuel one of baseball’s greatest comebacks as the Mariners rallied to win the AL West and make their first postseason appearance.

16. The slide seen ’round the world: Griffey homered three times in the first two games of the 1995 AL Division Series, but Seattle still lost both. Nonetheless, the Mariners came back to win the series. And of all Griffey’s career feats, the most replayed is when he raced from first to home on Edgar Martinez’s double, sliding in safely to beat the Yankees 6-5 in the bottom of the 11th to win the ALDS. Twenty years later, the Mariners still often show that highlight. Then again, they haven’t had any moments to match it.

17. Ernie Banks could feel his pain: The Mariners lost to Cleveland in the 1995 ALCS that year and still haven’t reached the World Series. Neither did Griffey. He played 2,671 games, but never in the Fall Classic. Only Rafael Palmeiro played more games (2,831) without reaching a World Series. But at least Griffey will be able to say he’s going to the Hall of Fame.

18. The contractor: The Mariners constantly threatened to move from Seattle in the late ’80s and early ’90s — especially in 1995, when a ballot measure for a new stadium was shut down by King County voters. But the team’s amazing comeback created such passion that the Washington state legislature quickly approved an alternate means of funding a new stadium. Known as “The House That Griffey Built,” Safeco Field opened midway through the 1999 season. There was just one problem with his fancy new home …

19. Powerless in Seattle: Because of its large dimensions and the cool, marine air that blows in and creates havoc for hitters, Safeco Field was not Junior’s favorite place to bat. His disdain for the field started during its construction, when he and several teammates took batting practice one day. Safeco remains one of baseball’s most pitcher-friendly parks. In spite of all that, moving into Safeco didn’t cause a drastic change to Griffey’s power numbers. He hit 13 home runs in 37 games at the Kingdome in 1999, and 14 homers in 42 games at Safeco after the Mariners moved there.

20. The Cincinnati Kid: In addition to not loving Safeco, Griffey was determined to be closer to his family, so he asked to be traded to the Reds after the 1999 season. The trade turned out better for Seattle (who got Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko, Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer in return) than for Griffey, whose career went into decline because of injuries and age. He hit 40 homers his first year in Cincinnati but never came close again. After making the All-Star team every year in the ’90s, Griffey did so only three times in nine seasons with the Reds. He also missed more than 400 games and received an MVP vote only once (finishing 24th in 2005) during his Cincy tenure. At the 2008 trade deadline, the Reds dealt him to the White Sox for the legendary Nick Masset and Danny Richar.

After re-signing with Seattle in 2009, Griffey hit 19 home runs with a .324 OPS that season and helped lift the Mariners to 85 wins — and received a warm sendoff from his grateful teammates. Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire
21. The heart of Seattle: While Mariners fans felt bitter toward Griffey for demanding the trade, all was forgiven when he finally returned to Seattle with the Reds for a 2007 series. Overwhelmed by hearing 46,000 fans thunderously cheer him each game, Junior said, “I think I owe it to myself and the people of Seattle to retire as a Mariner.” He did, re-signing with Seattle in 2009. Griffey hit 19 home runs with a .735 OPS that season and helped lift the Mariners to 85 wins. He was so revered that after the final game, his teammates carried him off the field.

22. Sleeping in Seattle: Griffey decided to play one final season in 2010, which did not go well. Limited by knee injuries and age, he hit just .184 with no homers in 108 plate appearances. He often was not in the lineup, including once when he was unavailable to pinch hit because he reportedly fell asleep in the clubhouse.

Which brings us to …

23. Driving off, out of the sunset: Frustrated that he was unable to produce like he used to, Junior abruptly quit on June 2, 2010, in the middle of a series with the Twins. He didn’t inform the Mariners until he was already on the road, and drove all the way from Seattle to his Florida home. (Someone partially broke the news after seeing him filling up at a gas station in Montana.) Griffey drove so intently that Torii Hunter said he received a phone call from him the next day while Junior was passing somewhere near Kansas City, more than 1,500 miles from Seattle.

Griffey so popularized the backward-cap look that when Seattle inducted him into the Mariners Hall of Fame on Aug. 10, 2013, the players wore their caps backward in his honor. Tom DiPace
24. Looking backward: So after all that, what cap will Griffey wear on his Hall of Fame plaque? Based on the above, it obviously should be the Mariners. But it might be fitting to have him wear whatever cap backward. After all, Griffey so popularized the backward-cap look that when Seattle inducted him into the Mariners Hall of Fame on Aug. 10, 2013, the players wore their caps backward in his honor. Buck Showalter, then manager of the Yankees, ripped Griffey two decades ago, saying that wearing a cap backward showed “a lack of respect for the game.”

Buck was wrong about that. Griffey respected the game, and the game will pay that respect back with his near certain election to the Hall of Fame.

And regardless of what they write on his plaque, the folks in Cooperstown should be sure there’s a smile on his face.

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