Hoover wins arbitration case

Reliever J.J. Hoover was the winner of his arbitration case against the Reds, it was learned on Friday. Hoover will make $1.4 million this season. The club had countered at $1.225 million. There will be a story on MLB.com/Reds.com.

Cases going to arbitration hearings haven’t happened in the Reds’ recent history. Here is the listing of wins and losses for the club:

2004

Beat Chris Reitsma

 

2003

Beat Bruce Chen

 

2001

Beat Danny Graves

Beat Osvaldo Fernandez

Lost to Sean Casey

 

1999

Beat John Hudek

 

1994

Lost to Joe Oliver

 

1993

Lost to Bip Roberts

 

1992

Beat Greg Swindell

Beat Glenn Braggs

 

1990

Beat Randy Myers

 

1989

Lost to Danny Jackson

 

1988

Beat John Franco

 

1987

Beat Ted Power

 

1986

Lost to Dave Van Gorder

Beat Eddie Milner

 

1984

Lost to Paul Householder

Beat Joe Price

 

1983

Lost to Joe Price

Lost to Mario Soto

Beat Bruce Berenyi

 

1982

Lost to Tom Hume

Lost to Mario Soto

Beat Frank Pastore

 

1981

Beat Dave Collins

Beat Paul Moskau

Beat Mike Vail

 

1980

Lost to Dave Collins

Lost to Ray Knight

84 Comments

Full article at MLBTR. Sounds like Hoover is our closer. I wish him well in that roll in spite of the doubts that I have.

Good article. Very interesting. Looks like Soto was the king of arbitration.

A surprise awaits us behind Spring Training advent Calendar window #13: we find ourselves in famed Area 52, the top secret Sabermetrics base supposed to house Ted Willliam’s frozen body and Abner Doubleday’s original baseball rule book. Intern Smedley has been exiled to this remote desert base, where he’s been assigned to the Reds section. His new boos has given him last year’s stats to bring him up to speed. He’s looking over Todd Frazier’s when he exclaims: “Wow, Todd’s WAR was off the charts! How could the team trade him?” “You got a lot to learn, kid. His WAR was alright, but his PEACE was bad.” “Peace?” “No, kid, PEACE. Potential Earnings Against Current Earnings. No way the Reds would ever be able to re-sign him.” “Er, I guess I understand …” “Take it from me, kid. When it you evaluate a player, you gotta consider both WAR and PEACE!”

I just cried on this 1!! Hilarious!!

A true classic Max. Thanks for the laugh.

Neither J.J. Hoover or Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty had any hard feelings over the arbitration hearing between the two sides, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Hoover won the hearing, meaning he’ll earn $1.4MM in 2016 as opposed to Cincinnati’s $1.225MM figure. “It’s just part of the environment. I am thankful for the experience and seeing the inner workings of this process,” Hoover said, also noting that he “had no idea that so much research and preparation went into a case.”
…………………………………
The Reds announced the hiring of Lou Piniella to a consulting position as a senior adviser to the team’s baseball operations department. The former manager will also spend time with the club during Spring Training, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Piniella managed the Reds from 1990 to 1992, leading the team to its most recent World Series championship during the ’90 season.

Speaking of Sweet Lou, today’s STAC window (#12) opens on a scene in the home dugout at GABP. Lou Piniella is standing on the top step looking out at the field when Bryan Price joins him at the rail. “Ah, Price. Thanks for coming.” “No problem, Lou. What did you …” “Bob didn’t mention it when he hired me, but I looked at last year’s film and I figure this is why I’m here. My area of expertise, you could say.” “Okay, but what …” “When you go out to argue a call, you’re always taking it slow, looking back over you’re shoulder like you’re not sure about it.” “That’s because …” “You gotta go loaded for bear! Your face, your posture, your speed – they all combine to send Blue a message: ‘You really screwed the pooch this time, buddy, and I’m going to show you up in front of 35,000 …'” “More like 12 …” “‘… screaming fans who saw you do it. This ain’t no Discount Double Check, mister!’ Go stand by 1st base and I’ll show you.” “But, Lou …” “Go!” Price stands behind 1st base. “Here I come!” Piniella struggles out onto the field and goes down the foul line like Tim Conway in an old man sketch. Two minutes later, he gets up to Price, gasping for breath. Silently, he throws his hat on the ground, and kicks dirt on Prices shoes while shaking a finger at him. After a few moments, when he can speak, he bends down to the bag and says, “While we’re here, we might as well work on this. It’s more a matter of proper technique than brute strength. Bend your knees, grab it by the corners and give it a sharp upward tug …” “Aw, Lou …”

Over/Under HRs…(just for yuks…)…
Todd Frazier, 3B, Chicago White Sox

2015: 35 HR

Composite Projection: 30 HR

Good ol’ Todd Frazier, winning the Home Run Derby, listening to Sinatra, saving a guy’s life. Nobody embodies the American dream quite like Frazier. He’s coming off his best year yet with 35 homers and a career-high 89 RBI. Lost in Frazier’s feel-good story is that his production fell off a cliff in the second half. He hit just .220 after the break with a brutal .390 slugging percentage. It’s like when Bobby Abreu got on a roll at the Home Run Derby a few years back (okay, more than a few) and suddenly forgot how to hit. Frazier was obviously pressing, as evidenced by his 26-percent strikeout rate in the second half (he only whiffed in 19 percent of his at-bats before the All-Star break). Whatever happened to Frazier at the end of last year is only going to get worse as he transitions to a new team in a different league (at least he’s out of the ultracompetitive NL Central).

Frazier actually finds himself in the middle of a decent lineup in Chicago and could get some pretty good pitches to hit if other teams don’t feel like pitching to Jose Abreu or Melky Cabrera. Frazier’s not going to fall off completely but asking him to repeat last year’s production is a bit ambitious. The 30 homers he’s projected for sounds about right but I’ll play it safe and go with the under. Prediction: Under

Thanks to telepicker and TOW for kind words. Time now for Spring Training Advent Calendar window # 11: We’re in Jeff Brantley’s home office, where he’s thumbing through Mark Sheldon’s New York Times non-fiction bestseller ‘How to Visit Goodyear Arizona on $197 a Day (of Someone Else’s Money).’ “‘Wrath of Khan Mongolian Beef Bazaar;’ that sounds alright, ‘Jesus’ Jalapena Jeaven;’ might try that. ‘High and Tight Bar and Grill;’ for after hours. Wait a minute – where’s the ice cream parlors? Check the index. Nothing.” He jumps on the phone. “Uber Trucks? I need a reefer … Good. Now, how much to drive me to Cincinnati and then Goodyear Arizona? … Okay, that’s fine. Then I’ll need you to stay for three weeks … Parked in the motel lot. Get me a quiet one this time. Last year the other guests complained about the noise. Okay, see you this afternoon.” He dials another number. “This UDF? That you, Carl? Hey, Carl, this is the Cowboy! Oh, you recognized my voice. Well, C, I need 40,00o pounds of IC, mixed flavors, a gross of big boy cups and a giant spoon …”

Wish the Cowboy was on Food Network (which I don’t watch) and not on FSOH (which I do watch). Oh well, I guess you can’t have it all.

Projecting All 30 MLB Teams’ Next Big Thing
By Joel Reuter , Featured Columnist Feb 8, 2016

Cincinnati Reds: LF Jesse Winker

There may not be a more wide-open position in all of baseball heading into spring training than the left field job for the Cincinnati Reds.

Marlon Byrd was traded in August, and the rebuilding Reds have opted against adding a proven veteran, instead opting for whomever wins out among Yorman Rodriguez, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Rule 5 pick Jake Cave.

Whoever does seize the job out of spring training will only be keeping the position warm for top prospect Jesse Winker, though.

One of the best pure hitters in all of the minors, Winker hit .282/.390/.433 with 24 doubles and 13 home runs in Double-A last year, and he’s capable of that same level of production in the majors.

Expect him to be up by midseason and to be the one who makes a serious impact before right-hander and fellow top prospect Robert Stephenson enters the picture.

From everything I’m reading LF belongs to Duvall. The Reds still looking for the big HR hitter in LF. If Duvall doesn’t improve his SO ratio, but hits the HR’s, the Reds could have a real combo of all or nothing with him in LF and Bruce in RF. IMO the Reds are in love with their small ballpark and aren’t into contact hitting.

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon | 3:04 PM ET
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Throughout his career in the Minor Leagues, Adam Duvall has demonstrated he has power that can clear the fences. If Duvall can prove able to do that in the Major Leagues for the Reds on a consistent basis in 2016, he could emerge as their regular left fielder.

Duvall, 27, came from the Giants in the Trade Deadline deal for pitcher Mike Leake. This spring, he is part of a large pool of candidates seeking either the vacant starting spot in left field or a place on the bench.

“The goal is just to go to Spring Training and compete for a job,” Duvall said during a recent Reds Caravan stop. “It’s the goal every year, but it happens to be an open spot, and that’s pretty cool. … I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.”

The righty-hitting Duvall combined to hit 30 homers for Triple-A Sacramento and Louisville last year, batting .264/.312/.511 with 87 RBIs. His 26 long balls and 220 total bases for Sacramento led the Pacific Coast League.
He hit four homers for Triple-A Louisville after joining the Reds organization, and then five more in the big leagues for Cincinnati after his Aug. 31 promotion. But there hasn’t been staying power, yet, in the Majors. In 55 career games for the Giants and Reds in 2014-15, Duvall is a .204/.268/.409 hitter.
One issue for Duvall has been a high strikeout rate. He had 114 strikeouts with 31 walks over 541 plate appearances in 125 games last season at Triple-A. In 149 career big league plate appearances, he struck out 46 times with nine walks.
During his offseason, Duvall said, he’s putting in the work to try and cut down on strikeouts. He’s not known for his defense, and would also like to sharpen up in that area.

“Just to be a more complete baseball player,” said Duvall, who has also played third base and first base professionally. “Five days a week, I’m hitting and doing some defense and working out. I’m working with a trainer, Eric Hammer, he’s a local trainer here. He’s been putting me through some good workouts. Hopefully, it will help.”
The rebuilding Reds will need to make up for the loss of third baseman Todd Frazier’s power potential after his December trade to the White Sox. Duvall could pick up some of that slack, but he will have company competing for a spot at Spring Training. Scott Schebler, Yorman Rodriguez, Kyle Waldrop, Jake Cave and perhaps top prospect Jesse Winker are among those in the mix for left field. Manager Bryan Price has not ruled out a platoon situation.
“I don’t like to define young players as simply a left-hander hitting against a right-handed pitcher and right-handed hitters hitting against lefties,” Price said. “I’d like to see someone jump up there and take the lion’s share of at-bats because they can handle both.”

“I see it as an opportunity, but I don’t think it’s a ‘make or break’ thing,” Duvall said. “This game is full of ups and downs, so you just have to take the ups and roll wth it, and the lulls, you try to get out of it.”

We reach the halfway point when we open Spring Training Advent Calendar window #10, and find ourselves in Jay Bruce’s backyard. He’s throwing off a mound to a neighbor high school kid and his wife is umpiring. He pitches. “Ball two, honey.” “Doh!” “Dont’ say ‘Doh!,’ honey, it’s so cliché.” He pitches. “Ball three.” “Do -, I mean, hell! I walked him.” “No, honey, four balls make a walk.” “Oh, yeah.” “I know it’s been a long time since you pitched, babykins, but if you’re going to be the ace of the team …” “Wait! Wait! I got this one! An ace beats a king! Hah!” “Doh!”

Bullpen problem solved! Now what to do with RF.

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon | February 8th, 2016
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Throughout his career in the Minor Leagues, Adam Duvall has demonstrated he has power that can clear the fences. If Duvall can prove able to do that in the Major Leagues for the Reds on a consistent basis in 2016, he could emerge as their regular left fielder.

Duvall, 27, came from the Giants in the Trade Deadline deal for pitcher Mike Leake. This spring, he is part of a large pool of candidates seeking either the vacant starting spot in left field or a place on the bench.

“The goal is just to go to Spring Training and compete for a job,” Duvall said during a recent Reds Caravan stop. “It’s the goal every year, but it happens to be an open spot, and that’s pretty cool. … I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.”

The righty-hitting Duvall combined to hit 30 homers for Triple-A Sacramento and Louisville last year, batting .264/.312/.511 with 87 RBIs. His 26 long balls and 220 total bases for Sacramento led the Pacific Coast League.
He hit four homers for Triple-A Louisville after joining the Reds organization, and then five more in the big leagues for Cincinnati after his Aug. 31 promotion. But there hasn’t been staying power, yet, in the Majors. In 55 career games for the Giants and Reds in 2014-15, Duvall is a .204/.268/.409 hitter.
One issue for Duvall has been a high strikeout rate. He had 114 strikeouts with 31 walks over 541 plate appearances in 125 games last season at Triple-A. In 149 career big league plate appearances, he struck out 46 times with nine walks.
During his offseason, Duvall said, he’s putting in the work to try and cut down on strikeouts. He’s not known for his defense, and would also like to sharpen up in that area.

“Just to be a more complete baseball player,” said Duvall, who has also played third base and first base professionally. “Five days a week, I’m hitting and doing some defense and working out. I’m working with a trainer, Eric Hammer, he’s a local trainer here. He’s been putting me through some good workouts. Hopefully, it will help.”
The rebuilding Reds will need to make up for the loss of third baseman Todd Frazier’s power potential after his December trade to the White Sox. Duvall could pick up some of that slack, but he will have company competing for a spot at Spring Training. Scott Schebler, Yorman Rodriguez, Kyle Waldrop, Jake Cave and perhaps top prospect Jesse Winker are among those in the mix for left field. Manager Bryan Price has not ruled out a platoon situation.
“I don’t like to define young players as simply a left-hander hitting against a right-handed pitcher and right-handed hitters hitting against lefties,” Price said. “I’d like to see someone jump up there and take the lion’s share of at-bats because they can handle both.”

Duvall said he did not feel any added pressure to earn a spot this spring.
“I see it as an opportunity, but I don’t think it’s a ‘make or break’ thing,” Duvall said. “This game is full of ups and downs, so you just have to take the ups and roll wth it, and the lulls, you try to get out of it.”

sorry about the repost.

The White Sox have agreed to a deal with free agent righty Mat Latos, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. He’ll receive a $3MM guarantee on a one-year term, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago adds via Twitter. There aren’t any incentives or options included in the deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.

All 30 MLB teams’ offenses, ranked…
#27. Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto is marooned on the Reds. With Todd Frazier departed, Jay Bruce coming off back-to-back below-average seasons, and Brandon Phillips no longer the hitter he was in his prime, Votto should remain the one glimmering megastar on a team that doesn’t look apt to compete. Catcher Devin Mesoraco says he’s fully healthy after hip surgery that ruined his 2015 season, and could brighten the Reds’ outlook if he shows he can stay healthy enough to again hit like he did in his outstanding 2014 campaign. Someone named Scott Schebler may start in left field.
(#28 – Braves, #29 – Padres, #30 – Phillies)

All 30 MLB teams’ starting rotations, ranked…
#23. Cincinnati Reds
Even with Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake now long gone, the Reds’ rotation looks surprisingly solid for 2016. Cuban import Raisel Iglesias posted gaudy strikeout numbers in his first big-league season and could improve in his sophomore year. Behind him, the Reds have a nice combination of capable, high-floor Major League starters on the brinks of their primes, stud prospects like Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed, and Homer Bailey on the way back from Tommy John surgery.

From MLB Trade Rumors…
Reds left-hander John Lamb, who had been expected to compete for a spot in the team’s rotation this spring, had back surgery in December, reports MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. In an MLB Network appearance with Chris Russo today (video link), Cincinnati manager Bryan Price revealed that Lamb will eventually be in the rotation mix but isn’t expected to be ready until mid-April. Per Price, right-handers Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias are locked into rotation spots heading into Spring Training, but the remaining three spots will be up for grabs, with names like John Moscot, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson and Brandon Finnegan all in the mix for one of the three spots until Homer Bailey returns, which the team expects will happen on May 1. Price went out of his way to state that despite some opinions that Finnegan is best-suited for the bullpen, the Reds like him as a starting pitcher.
……………………………….
From that same interview, Price said that he’s “not really surprised” that Brandon Phillips vetoed a trade that would have sent him to the Nationals despite the Reds’ rebuild. “Brandon, I think, just absolutely loves Cincinnati,” Price explained. “He loves the fans. He loves the team. He loves the ball park. I think he really values the fact that the Reds threw a lot of trust in him when they acquired him from Cleveland and gave him a chance to play.”

Always continue to be disappointed in the Reds need for secrecy. Surgery in December, revealed in February. I honestly felt that Reed would end up replacing Lamb in rotation anyway. As far as the blurb about Brandon, what a bunch of crap. Going to be a long season listening to Mr. Milktoast.

It is getting pretty obvious that milktoast is singing kumbaya in every instance; attempting to keep everyone happy regardless of the situation. Unfortunately, playing Brandon for the next two seasons stalls the rebuild and postpones the inevitable; Mr. Peraza. It is just not in his DNA to get into the face of any player on this team, yet he will talk around them with the media. In my mind, he is the biggest reason we will not compete until he his gone or demoted. Sadly, as I have stated before, Williams, Jocketty and our owner, Castellini, are not much stronger. I sincerely hope that someone got in Castellinis ear and voiced this overall attitude; enter Lou; hopefully as manager sometime in the immediate future, definitely at the beginning of 2017.

No attempts, lame or otherwise, at humor today: our STAC window # 9 opens on a black wreath in the middle of the Reds’ clubhouse – RIP Bernie Stowe. Sometimes longtime employees are referred to as family. That could never be more appropriately applied than to Mr. Stowe. Think of the legendary players he’d seen. He was a legend himself. Thoughts and prayers to his family and to those in the Reds organization past and present mourning his loss.

Amen.

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon | February 9th, 2016
Spring Training is just days away, a time when anticipation is at its highest for all baseball fans. This is the first of a series of preview stories that look at the 2016 Reds. In it, we consider players who are on the rebound. Upcoming stories will examine newcomers to the team, prospects who could contribute as well as projected lineups and pitching staff makeup.

CINCINNATI — When a team wins 98 games, a lot has to go right during a season. For a team that loses 98 games, like the Reds did last season, a whole lot has to go wrong. For Cincinnati, attrition due to injuries took a large toll, but there were some disappointing performances that also contributed.
As the Reds enter a year of transition in an effort to get younger and build for the future, here are some returning players who will be counted on to have bounce-back seasons:
…………………………….
C Devin Mesoraco: A left hip impingement limited Mesoraco to just 23 games, including five starts behind the plate in 2015. After several attempts at therapy, he underwent hip surgery to repair a torn labrum on June 29. As of late January, Mesoraco has reported feeling normal again and doing all baseball activity. However, he acknowledged a big test for his hip will come once exhibition games begin. A healthy Mesoraco, who hit 25 home runs during an All-Star 2014 season, would be useful in the cleanup spot in the lineup.
………………………….
SP Homer Bailey: After coming back from ’14 surgery to repair a torn flexor mass near his right elbow, Bailey made only two starts in ’15 before his elbow blew out altogether. A torn ulnar collateral ligament meant Tommy John surgery and a targeted return for sometime this May. There are still three seasons left on Bailey’s six-year, $105 million contract. At this point, he will likely be the lone veteran in the rotation when he returns. Bailey is 58-51 with a 4.19 ERA in nine Major League seasons — all with the Reds.
…………………………..
CF Billy Hamilton: It was a rough ’15 at the plate for Hamilton. His efforts to come back better this season were made more difficult by a right shoulder injury that required late September arthroscopic surgery. Hamilton, who expects to be ready for Spring Training, batted .226/.274/.289 in 114 games with 57 stolen bases (second most in the National League). He was dropped from the leadoff spot to ninth prior to the injury. The ’16 season will be a chance for him to prove he can switch-hit in the Major Leagues and regain his spot at the top of the order.
…………………………..
SS Zack Cozart: A strong bounce-back season was already in progress last year until June 10, when Cozart suffered a grisly right knee injury slipping on first base while running out a ground ball against the Phillies. At the time, Cozart was batting .258 with nine homers and 28 RBIs in 53 games. He needed season-ending surgery to repair tears in both his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. In December, Cozart reported making good progress and expected to be 100 percent for Spring Training.
……………………………
RF Jay Bruce: Once the Reds revealed they were rebuilding and willing to trade veterans, it seemed unlikely Bruce would be back with Cincinnati. A strange market for corner outfielders dragged late into the offseason, though, and his return gives both Bruce and the Reds a chance to improve his value. From 2010-13, Bruce averaged .262/.338/.490, 30 home runs and 94 RBIs per season, making the All-Star team twice during this span. From 2014-15, the numbers dipped to a two-season average of .222/.288/.404 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs. Bruce, who turns 29 on April 3, will make $12.5 million in ’16 and has a $13 million club option for ’17 with a $1 million buyout.

Of the Reds’ Top 30 prospects, 17 are pitchers.

The complete Top 30 from the Baseball America Handbook is as follows:

1. Robert Stephenson, RHP
2. Cody Reed, LHP
3. Amir Garrett, LHP*
4. Tyler Stephenson, C
5. Jesse Winker, OF
6. Alex Blandino, SS/2B
7. Nick Travieso, RHP
8. Keury Mella, RHP
9. Sal Romano, RHP
10. Tyler Mahle, RHP
11. John Lamb, LHP
12. Phillip Ervin, OF
13. Antonio Santillan, RHP
14. Taylor Sparks, 3B
15. Yorman Rodriguez, OF
16. Wyatt Strahan, RHP
17. Tanner Rainey, RHP
18. Aristides Aquino, OF
19. Blake Trahan, SS
20. Ian Kahaloa, RHP
21. Kyle Waldrop, OF/1B
22. Zack Weiss, RHP
23. Carlton Daal, SS/2B
24. Gavin LaValley, 3B
25. Jon Moscot, RHP
26. Jake Turnbull, C
27. Tejay Antone, RHP
28. Narciso Cook, OF
29. Jonathon Crawford, RHP
30. Nick Howard, RHP
* guy is least talked about

How diehard are Reds fans? New ranking tells the story
Feb 10, 2016, 1:18pm EST
Steve Watkins

Cincinnati Reds fans didn’t have much to cheer on the field last season, but they can take heart in knowing they’re among the most die-hard fans in Major League Baseball.

A new study by Austin, Texas-based secondary market ticket reseller TicketCity found that Reds fans rate No. 5 out of 30 MLB teams in a ranking of diehard fan bases.
Reds fans are among the best in Major League Baseball, according to a new ranking.
.

Sadly, the Reds didn’t pass their rival St. Louis Cardinals in this ranking, either. The Cardinals come out on top of the heap. The World Series champion Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants (who won three of the past six World Series) and the Boston Red Sox are the others that rank ahead of the Reds. Those just happen to be the teams that won the last six World Series. So there’s this: The Reds rank the highest of any team that hasn’t won a World Series since 2010, but the Reds did make the playoffs in three of those six seasons. See the top 10 here.
It’s not the first time Reds fans have achieved high rankings in national studies. Forbes ranked the Reds as having baseball’s fourth-best fans last year.
Reds CEO Bob Castellini and his son, Reds COO Phil Castellini, frequently state the Reds have the best fans in baseball.
“This is the cradle of baseball,” Bob Castellini told me last season when I talked to him about the All-Star Game. “Think about how many generations of baseball fans are here.”
That longtime loyalty shines through in TicketCity’s rankings. It measured attendance, revenue per capita, ticket prices and social media engagement to come up with the rankings.

The Reds’ revenue ranks second in MLB when the metro area’s population is taken into account. It helps to operate in a small market, at least when it comes to that category.
The Reds’ $227 million in annual revenue, according to Forbes magazine estimates, ranks just 20th out of 30 MLB teams. But that total comes to $104.41 for each of the nearly 2.2 million people in the metro area. That’s just behind the Milwaukee Brewers and two slots ahead of the Kansas City Royals, two of the other smallest markets in MLB. The New York Yankees haul in the most revenue at a whopping $508 million. But in the gigantic New York market, that comes to just $22.01 per capita.
Social media gave the Reds a big boost in the rankings. They rank third in Twitter and Facebook engagement and fourth when it comes to Instagram. Their average home ticket price of $22.03 per seat ranked as the sixth-cheapest. Attendance was in the middle of the pack, ranking 14th.

The Reds are coming off a 64-98 season and are in rebuilding mode. They t raded Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake since last July.

Short days now – here in the cold of Cincinnati, we feel the heat of Las Vegas pouring through Spring Training Advent Calendar window # 8 as we open it on a scene in Pete Rose’s living room. There’s a meeting of his management team, accountant, agent, wife, publisher, bookie (did I say that out loud?) et al. The accountant leads it off: “Pete, you need to find a new source of income. The autograph market is saturated.” The bookie nods emphatically. The agent speaks up. “Okay, but the TV ad for an escort service app is off the table.” The accountant gestures to the publisher. “Maybe you could write another book.” “Right, Pete,” the publisher jumps in. “Maybe there’s something you’ve done you haven’t told about. Murder anyone? Hah! Hah!” “No, there’s nothing I haven’t told.” “Well, maybe you could do something new – like OJ, you know?” “I don’t think so …” “Wait a minute!” the agent chimes in. “Mentioning OJ gives me an idea. Pete, forget OJ, go Bruce Jenner.” “Huh?” “Let’s make Petula Rose the first woman inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame. Then when Cooperstown doesn’t play ball we’ll sue them for discrimination!” “Wait, I gotta think …” “There’s a book in it, a TV show, a whole new autograph to sign – it’s a goldmine.” “Well maybe – but I’m not posing for Vanity Fair!” “Who’s asking you to?”

I can almost imagine it. So, so sad Pete. I have to remind myself that addiction is an illness and Pete is an addict.

The gambling ad was funny – I’m not saying it wasn’t. But it was sad, too. First, it meant Pete had given up hope and because of that, given up pretense. And second, it was like Mel Gibson doing a Grey Goose ad. Addict is right. That’s what I never got about sports talk radio’s coverage of Johnny Manziel. “The Browns need to play him to see what they’ve got.” What they’ve got is an addict, and in any conflict between substance (whatever it is) and football, substance wins. Always. And so it has been with Pete right from jump. If he had confessed to Bart, apologized to the fans and his team, gotten clean and moved to a city whose name didn’t begin with ‘Las,’ he’d be in the Hall now. But he couldn’t do it – couldn’t give it up. Sad is the word.

In another sign that Spring Training is closing in, the moving truck began loading up at Great American Ball Park. The truck leaves tomorrow on a three-day, 1800-mile trip to Goodyear, Arizona.

The usual game equipment — like bats, baseballs, extra uniforms and helmets — is headed to the Reds’ player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz. But also included are front-office items, kitchen and food supplies for the clubhouse, all the equipment of the medical and training staff, marketing and promotional materials and audio/visual equipment needed for the scoreboard crew shoots. There were some other items, too, including a guitar, a bicycle and a treadmill.

MLB Predictions 2016: Projecting the Final Standings
By Karl Buscheck , Featured Columnist Feb 11, 2016
NL Central

Chicago Cubs 94 68
Pittsburgh Pirates 92 70
St. Louis Cardinals 88 74
Milwaukee Brewers 65 97
Cincinnati Reds 64 98
Make no mistake about it—this was the most challenging division to tab a winner.

It’s easy enough to see that there are two very distinct tiers in the NL Central. There are the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals. There’s 50 feet of nothing, and then there is the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds.

Let’s start with that second tier.

As the offseason trade activity of the Brew Crew and the Reds makes abundantly apparent, both of these franchises have their focus trained squarely on 2017 and beyond. Simply put, these teams are playing for draft position and giving auditions to promising young players.

For the Cubs, Pirates and Cards, it’s all about 2016.

It feels foolish to drop St. Louis, winners of 100 games in 2015, into third, but that’s the reality of the situation. The Cardinals lost John Lackey and Jason Heyward to the Cubs, and those defections aren’t even the worst part of the winter.

That distinction belongs to the murky future surrounding catcher Yadier Molina, whose left thumb is still recovering from a second surgery.

“That cast, GM John Mozeliak said, won’t come off until mid-February, leaving the Cards in a wait-and-see mode as they seek to project when the veteran catcher will return to the field,” Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com wrote.

For the Red Birds, that’s one scary mode.

As is almost always the case in the offseason, the Bucs have been in stealth mode. Pittsburgh hasn’t made any splashy additions, but the core of last year’s team—with the exception of Neil Walker—remains in tact. And it’s worth remembering that team racked up 98 wins.

The Cubs core—from Kyle Schwarber to Kris Bryant to Jorge Soler to Addison Russell to Anthony Rizzo—is not only in tact but a year older and more experienced. And the crazy part is that Chicago has also brought in Heyward, Lackey and big league Swiss army knife Ben Zobrist.

Grab your popcorn because this team is going to provide maximum baseball entertainment in 2016.

Can Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart rebuild their trade value?
Posted on 02/11/2016 by GRANT FREKING
With a trade of Brandon Phillips appearing unlikely after a pair of offseason misfires to the Diamondbacks and Nationals, Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart are the two remaining Reds regulars who can elicit a few decent assets from another club. The cases of Bruce and Cozart are similar for three reasons:

Control Both players are under team control through 2017 before hitting the open market. Bruce has a team option of $13 million ($1 million buyout) for 2017, while Cozart’s last year of arbitration is in 2017. Last month, the Reds and Cozart avoided an arbitration hearing by reportedly coming to terms on a one-year, $2.925 million contract. Personal incentive In 2016, the 28-year-old Bruce must prove that his poor showing from 2014-15 is not the new normal, but instead was a two-year abnormality shrouding an impressive stretch from 2010-13. And for Cozart, he needs to prove that A) his pre-injury offensive performance in 2015 was a sign of things to come and that B) he remains an impressive defensive shortstop in spite of his age (30) and his recovery from tearing a tendon and multiple ligaments in his right knee last June.
The writing’s on the wall Due to the youth-based direction of the club, Bruce and Cozart are extremely unlikely to receive contract extension offers from the Reds. It makes too much sense for Bruce and Cozart to move on and for the Reds to obtain whatever value they can for two regulars.
Now, on to breakdowns of both players…
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Jay Bruce
Let’s begin with a table to show how things have changed for the Reds’ right-fielder:

BB% ISO OBP wRC+
2010-13 9.9 .227 .338 120
2014 8.1 .156 .281 78
2015 8.9 .209 .294 91
Career 9.3 .215 .319 107
Over the past two seasons, Bruce’s walk rate, isolated power, on-base percentage, and total offensive value (when adjusted for league average and park effects) have regressed appreciably from his elite 2010-13 form and from his career marks. The 2014 and 2015 campaigns are concerning trends for a player who hasn’t yet reached 30. In fairness to Bruce, 2014 can be filed away as a lost season due to the former first-round pick playing through a knee injury. Last year, Bruce at least exhibited improvement across the board.

GB% FB% HR/FB Pull% Hard% BABIP
2010-13 36.2 43.6 16.8% 43.8 35.8 .309
2014 45.2 34.0 15.3% 48.9 32.9 .269
2015 37.0 44.2 13.3% 46.8 35.4 .251
Career 38.4 42.0 16.4% 45.2 34.3 .287
There are both positive and negative developments when it comes to reviewing Bruce’s batted ball numbers and other statistics. On the bright side, Bruce trended back to his career norms in virtually every category listed above last summer: he stopped hitting the ball on the ground as much (GB%) and instead put the ball back in the air (FB%), and he hit the ball with more authority (Hard%).

However, Bruce’s home run-to-fly-ball rate (HR/FB) sunk for the fourth consecutive season in 2015, and his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) receded for the third year in a row. Bruce continued to offer at more pitches outside of the strike zone (O-Swing%) than he did during his peak years and for his career, a distressing shift for a player with a long swing, especially when combined with the fact that Bruce has struggled over the past two years against fastballs.

Back in November, FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris dove into the BABIP conundrum that is Jay Bruce. Sarris deduced that infield shifts were not the overriding factor in Bruce’s BABIP woes, but Sarris did determine that Bruce began driving the ball into the ground over the second half of last season, noting that Bruce’s line drives were turning into ground balls. A closer look at Bruce’s first half/second half splits from 2015 highlights that concerning development:

GB% BB% ISO OBP Hard% wRC+
2015 1st half 34.7 12.2 .214 .341 37.3 115
2015 2nd half 39.4 5.2 .203 .242 33.3 65
Post All-Star Break, as Bruce pounded the ball into the ground, his walk, power, on-base, hard-hit, and overall offensive value numbers nosedived. For whatever reason — age-related decline, his knee acting up, disappointment at either being on the trade block or not being moved to a better club, bad luck, etc. — Bruce labored in the final months of the 2015 season.

Conclusion

Bruce — who can block a trade to the Athletics, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Rays, Red Sox, Twins, and Yankees — could have (and in retrospect, probably should have) been shipped out at the trade deadline last July, as both his trade value and personal performance suffered through the end of the season. This offseason, concern over Bruce’s struggles from 2014-15, his overall inconsistency, and a slow-developing outfield market depressed his trade value.

It was wise of the Reds to hold onto Bruce this winter. After all, his value can’t really sink any further, and though the outfield market will sort itself out by spring training, if Bruce enjoys one of his patented hot streaks sometime in June or July, he can be traded while smoldering and when injuries and other things (teams rising and falling) happen to create openings.

Protected by a near-peak Joey Votto and a healthy Devin Mesoraco — and to a lesser extent, Phillips and Eugenio Suarez — Bruce should have enough lineup protection for a potential rebound season. In order to do that, Bruce will need to regain his walking eye, keep the ball off the ground, and hope that more of his hard-hit balls turn into extra-base hits and that more of his fly balls become home runs.
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Zack Cozart
Cozart is a much more simpler case at the dish than Bruce. Unfortunately, that’s not much of a compliment to his abilities as a hitter. Up until his freak knee injury last June, Cozart was enjoying his best offensive stretch since joining the Reds in 2011.

BB% ISO OBP wRC+
2015 6.5 .201 .310 104
Career 4.8 .130 .284 77
Again, pre-injury, Cozart had experienced improvement across the board. But is that improvement sustainable?

GB% FB% HR/FB Pull% Hard% BABIP
2013 50.3 31.6 8.1% 44.3 24.6 .285
2014 44.6 37.7 2.5% 47.5 22.9 .255
2015 38.6 42.2 12.9% 47.9 25.4 .258
Career 45.1 36.4 7.5 46.1 24.1 .274
After a miserable 2014, we can see that Cozart adjusted and strived to both lift the ball in the air and to pull the ball. This strategy orchestrated a power surge; after registering just 27 extra-base hits in 543 plate appearances in 2014, Cozart tallied 20 extra-base knocks in 214 plate appearances last season. While Cozart’s home run-to-fly ball rate is not sustainable — he isn’t Miguel Cabrera, after all — we should not expect too much of a drop-off: the University of Mississippi product’s plate discipline statistics over the past two seasons display little variance from his career averages, and Cozart seems to have found a simple strategy that works for him: be more selective at the plate, attack fastballs, and take advantage of his pull power.

Perhaps more importantly, Cozart needs to show the Reds (and potential suitors) that he can still play shortstop at a high level. In spite of his career-long offensive issues, Cozart’s defense has prevented him from being a below-replacement level player; among qualified shortstops from 2012-15, Cozart is tied for second in Defensive Runs Saved and is third in Ultimate Zone Rating.

Conclusion

If Cozart proves that he can still stick at shortstop while minimizing his regression at the plate, he will be on track for his second 2+ fWAR season, a level he was slated to reach in 2015 prior to his injury. Though the Reds had no other option but to hold onto Cozart this winter while he rehabbed, if Cozart is productive (and healthy) once trade season comes around, the Reds should not hesitate to move him while the iron is hot.

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon | 2:44 PM ET
CINCINNATI — This is Part 2 of a series previewing the Reds for the 2016 season, which gets underway next week when pitchers and catchers report to the team’s complex in Goodyear, Ariz., with the first workout on Feb. 18. The series began Tuesday with a look at the team’s bounce-back candidates. The focus of the second installment is “The New Guys.”

Understandably this offseason, there has been more focus on a couple of popular players who departed the Reds in Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman. And unlike recent seasons when Cincinnati took aim at winning the National League Central, there has not been a big or even a medium-name acquisition. But there still are some new players to get to know:
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2B Jose Peraza: He was traded twice within six months last year, including to the Reds in the three-team deal that sent Frazier to the White Sox in December. That shouldn’t be seen as a negative, as it underscores how organizations value Peraza’s talent. Set to turn 22 on April 30, Peraza is a .302/.342/.387 hitter in five Minor League seasons and is known for a plus glove (he was No. 71 on MLBPipeline.com’s Top 100 Prospects list). Last season, he batted .293 with 33 steals in the Minors and made his first appearance in the big leagues for the Dodgers. With the Reds, Peraza currently lacks a clear spot for playing time at the big league level. Brandon Phillips did not accept a trade and remains at second base. Peraza could fill in there, or at shortstop and center field. To get regular at-bats, Triple-A Louisville could be his best option for now.
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OF Scott Schebler: Also acquired in the Frazier trade, Schebler did well last season as a first-timer in both Triple-A and the Majors. He batted .241/.322/.410 with 13 homers, 50 RBIs and 15 steals in 121 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City, and he batted .250/.325/.500 with three homers in 19 big league games for the Dodgers. A left-handed bat, Schebler is in the mix of candidates for the spot in left field.
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RHP Blake Wood: Once a prospect for the Royals, Wood has been trying to re-establish himself since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012. He has a 4.39 career ERA in the Majors from 2010-14 with the Royals and Indians. Wood spent the 2015 season at the Pirates’ Triple-A Indianapolis affiliate. In 57 appearances, Wood had an International League-leading 29 saves, 46 games finished and a 10.74 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio.
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RHP Rookie Davis: One of four Minor Leaguers acquired from the Yankees in the Chapman trade, Davis is a power right-handed starter who will try to work his way to the forefront in the battle for a rotation spot. He likely needs more development time after splitting 2015 in Class A Advanced (19 games) and Double-A (six games). The 22-year-old finished with a combined 3.86 ERA, 129 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP over 130 2/3 innings.
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OF Jake Cave and LHP Chris O’Grady: Both are Rule 5 players, which means they have to stay on the 25-man roster all season or be offered to their old clubs for $25,000. Cave is a 23-year-old left-handed-hitting outfielder from the Yankees’ system who can play all three spots in the outfield. He lacks power but batted .285/.346/.391 in four Minor League seasons and reached Triple-A in 2015. O’Grady, who turns 26 on April 17, is a command pitcher without power stuff. The Reds do not view the reliever as a lefty specialist, but instead as someone who can get hitters out on both sides of the plate.
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LHP Jonathan Sanchez: A non-roster invitee, Sanchez previously pitched for the Giants, Royals, Rockies and Pirates, but he has not been in the Majors since 2013. His manager in Puerto Rico winter ball this year was Double-A Pensacola manager Pat Kelly, who provided positive reports about the 33-year-old. Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter for the Giants in 2009, could be a candidate for either the rotation or bullpen.
Pitching coach Mark Riggins: Brought in to replace Jeff Pico, who was let go after two seasons, Riggins has been the Reds’ Minor League pitching coordinator for the past four seasons. While there is a roster full of inexperienced pitchers, the 59-year-old is familiar or already worked with most of them. Once a pitching coach for the Cardinals (1995) and Cubs (2011), Riggins will be tasked with helping a large crop of young pitchers realize their potential at the Major League level.

Peraza needs to brush up on his CF. I’d give Hamilton about 4-6 weeks. I’m looking for a change of direction if there’s not vast improvement.

Would tend to agree with you if he’s going to get playing time. Of course I would prefer seeing him at 2nd and Brandon collecting splinters.

FEB. 11, 9:37pm: Cincinnati thinks that the O’s do have the young talent needed to put together a deal for Bruce, Jon Heyman tweets. Baltimore will probably add at least one additional bat, he adds.

I hope it comes togrther. A change of scenery may to Bruce good. Then the rebuild would be partially successful. Thanks for being the chink in the work Brandon. And regardless of what Mr. Milktoast says about your love of the Reds, if either the Nationals or Diamondbacks had given you an extension, you would have been gone in a heartbeat.

Sadly, he had a much better chance of extending his contract had he gone to a team that wants him at 2nd base every game where he could have performed. Now, he stays with the Reds but they want him off the field to make room for the rebuild and Peraza. I have to really wonder what he was thinking, especially when he could have played for Baker and on a contending and potential playoff team.

Fangraph actuals/projections…
2015 64W-98L .395 W% 3.95 RS/G 4.65 RA/G 114 RDiff
2016 73W-89L .450 W% 4.00 RS/G 4.46 RA/G 75 RDiff
Leading into the 2015 season, the Reds were projected to win
79 G.

My prediction was 75W-87L.

…mine was even more off the mark at 83-79…I actually had faith in milktoast and the talent on the team. Little did I know…

[See Neb’s “In another sign that Spring Training …” above] Last week of the ST Advent Calendar! In today’s window #7, we find ourselves in the interior of the equipment truck headed to Goodyear. Intern Smedley has been put in the trailer and told to guard its contents with his life. “Guard it, but don’t touch nothing!” “You got it, Chief!” Since leaving Cincinnati, Smedley’s rearranged said contents for his comfort and enjoyment. His man cave includes a trainer’s table as his bed and sofa, a couple of large screen TV’s with satellite hookup, a full service kitchenette and all the food and beverages he could want. When the truck stops for dinner at Cairo, Illinois, he plugs in the treadmill, sets it to high speed, rides the bicycle up onto it and pedals away while playing the guitar and singing “Washington at Valley Forge:” ‘Washington at Valley Forge, I don’t know but I heard George, Said vo-doe-de-o, vo-doe-de-o, doe.’ “Watch out, America’s Got Talent! Here I come!” He plans to practice all the way to the Phoenix beltway.

The Yankees have avoided arbitration with recently-acquired lefty Aroldis Chapman by agreeing to a one-year, $11.325MM deal, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

That figure comes in $275K above the midpoint between the two sides’ filing numbers of $13.1MM and $9MM. It does fall a fair sight shy of the $12.9MM payday projected by MLBTR coming into the winter.

Chapman, of course, came to the Yankees at a discounted price after it was revealed that he was allegedly involved in a serious domestic disturbance. While charges will not be filed against him, there is still a possibility of league discipline relating to the matter.

The Orioles would prefer to add Dexter Fowler after signing Yovani Gallardo — assuming they can get that deal done — says Rosenthal. But if that doesn’t work out for some reason, Baltimore’s backup plan would be to pursue a deal for Jay Bruce. The Reds appear to have realistic expectations with the veteran, who hasn’t been consistently productive in recent years and is owed $12.5MM this year (with a $13MM option for another season). Indeed, getting something done would likely require rather modest expectations. Though Bruce has shown quite a bit of talent over the years, and is still shy of thirty years of age, his track record over the past two seasons (.222/.288/.406) isn’t inspiring.

We seem to always fit the bill…never a bride, only a brides maid.

For you lucky fans and friends that are able to attend the ballpark…
CINCINNATI — A lot of attention has been paid this offseason to what the Reds might look like on the field in 2016. But what might be in store on the business side and for fans watching the game? MLB.com recently spoke to Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini about the fan experience at Great American Ball Park this coming season.
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MLB.com: Coming off a year with the All-Star Game and all the successes on the business side, how do you follow up in 2016?
Castellini: Well, you don’t. That’s the first answer. We just get back to our business, which is having a great time at the ballpark and having the best fan experience possible. In that light, we’ve got a new project going on the view level [upper deck] this year, focusing on millennials and getting that younger audience in there, people in their 20s. It’s going to be a walk-in bar concept with a rooftop beer garden and a new party area. We’re turning our old all-you-can-eat seats into kind of a general admission ticket where the first drink is on us. We haven’t done much on the view level before, so this is a big project for us. There are great views of the city skyline and Mount Adams. It’s all the way down the left-field line, right at the elevation of the top of the foul pole. It’s going to be a really cool area.
It’s getting back to the basics for us. It’s another great season at Great American Ball Park. We did a ton of renovations last year with a new scoreboard. It will be a [Reds Hall of Fame] gala year. We’ll replace the All-Star festivities with the Hall of Fame weekend. It will be a full weekend. It’s not as long as the four or five days of All-Star, but certainly three robust days of the 1976 anniversary on Friday, and all Pete Rose the rest of the way with the number retirement and gala and induction Sunday. I think that will be our real peak weekend, if there is one, after Opening Day. The All-Star thing was fantastic. The city stepped up. It was amazing. We could not be more proud of how that went down and for all the people who helped us do that, including Major League Baseball. It’s exciting to have a gala year that we roll into. We’re ready for a big weekend. Fans are ready. It’s been so long that we’ve waited to do something like that for Pete. We’re excited about that. It should be a fun season. I think this team is going to be better than people think.
………………………….

MLB.com: The Reds have been pretty upfront that this is a year of transition. How do you deliver that message but also a message to get people to come to the ballpark?
Castellini: You have to be realistic, and at the same time, you have to be positive. What’s fun about young guys coming up is they are young and they are hungry and they want to play. The competition amongst the guys is good. They play better that way. I think it’s going to be an exciting team to watch. The big focus is playing the game the right way and being in games. When you are in games the whole way, the fans are engaged. It’s exciting to watch, and I look forward to that.
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MLB.com: Besides the view level, is there anything else new for fans to look forward to at the ballpark this season?
Castellini: We are redoing our triple-play party suites, the ones down the third-base line that are above the suite level, above the Machine Room. We’re opening up the glass wall so that will be a better experience. That’s been a really popular group area for us. Those are the main projects going on in the upper levels, on the third-base side.
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MLB.com: You recently went on the road for Reds Caravan. Aside from what’s happening on the field, what has been the biggest feedback to you about the fan experiences of going to Reds games?

Castellini: A lot of feedback has been how good the All-Star Game was and the experience for those who got to participate in it. Even those who saw it on TV were impressed by that. I had one fan who asked about keeping the Fan Zone activities open later. We said, “No problem, we’ll do that.” Mostly, it’s a lot of compliments about the experience last season, and there’s still a lot of positive in Reds Country. We got a lot of questions about trades that each route handled, as expected. I’ve got my own kids asking me about trades. That’s part of the game. I would say, overall, the mood was still positive. The crowds were good. There’s still a lot of good spirit in Reds Country.
……………………….
MLB.com: Are you worried about keeping fans’ interest if the team doesn’t perform well?
Castellini: Absolutely. We sell half of our tickets before the season starts. It’s one of those things where weather, how the team is doing and the opponents are all a factor in individual tickets and single-game sales. I’m always worried about that. This year is no different than any other year. Rain can wash out a good crowd just like a bad streak. You have to be worried about that kind of thing in any given year. But we continue to do what we’re doing — sell the great time, the family value experience, and we’ll put a little emphasis on that younger generation of crowd this year and see how we can do there.

Spring Training Advent Calendar window #6 (!): inside we magically teleport to Zach Cozart’s home office. He’s on the phone to his agent. “Bob! I’m been thinking!” “[uh oh]” “The #1 job of today’s professional athlete is building his brand, right?” “[I hate my job .,,]” “And I was reading about how when Tony Dorset was done at Pitt, he announced his name wasn’t DOR-set, it was dor-SET. That got him talked about, and they kept talking about him all the way to Canton!” “[where is this going?]” “So I think we should announce that my name isn’t Co-zart, but Coat-zart, like Mozart!” “[my oId man was right – I should have stayed a butcher]” “That’ll get ’em talking – it’ll build my brand! What do you think?” “[or you could try going .280/.365/.502] Interesting idea, Zach. Let me do some research.”

Just have a good 1st half Zach and then we can continue the rebuild by trading you. Maybe by then Brandon’s butt will be so sore from sitting that he’ll beg for a trade.

I enjoyed this 1 max, great job with the STAC!!

By Ken Rosenthal @ken_rosenthal
Feb 12, 2016 at 2:12p ET
Early February usually is a quiet time in baseball, reserved for non-roster invitations to spring training, maybe a stray free-agent signing or two.

Not this year.

Spring training camps open next week, and nearly 60 players remain free agents. Numerous teams also are engaged in trade talks, which one GM described as “pretty active still.”

Here is a glimpse at the trade market, according to major-league sources. As always, I’m reporting only what I know; most trade conversations remain confidential.

ORIOLES

The team’s first choice is to follow the expected signing of free-agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo with the signing of free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler. But if Fowler joins, say, the White Sox, the Orioles’ backup plan appears to be a trade for Reds right fielder Jay Bruce.

I raised doubts on Twitter about the Orioles’ ability to mount a strong enough offer for Bruce, considering the weakness of their farm system and the fact that the Reds seemingly balked at a Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler trade at the non-waiver deadline in July.

Both teams, however, believe that a match is possible; MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Thursday that the Reds see a possible fit, and the Orioles also are confident that a deal could be put together. The Reds apparently are not seeking top prospects for Bruce, who will earn $12.5 million while playing next season at 29, with a $13 million club option for ’17.

Fowler, however, remains the Orioles’ preference and – because of his leadoff skills – is a better fit.
……………………………….
It appears that trading Bruce to the Orioles is in Fowlers hands.

Doesn’t sound like it’s in the Reds hands.

Time to open STAC window #5 (!!): There’s a knock at Devin Mesoraco’s door. When he answers it, he discovers a large, dark-bearded man on his front porch dressed in full Cossack regalia. He has the peasant blouse, the red neckerchief, the puffy pants, the cavalry boots and furry round hat. He salutes Devin and says in a heavy Russian accent, “Greetings, comrade! I am Boris Katchmor, your new strength and conditioning coach!” “Er, no one told me …” “At your service! We begin now, yes?” “Er, no one told me …” “I get you ready to catch whole season. I strengthen your knees. I make your feet quick like cat! How, you ask? I teach you.” “You teach me what?” “The dance, of course!” “You should know my last dance was the Hokey Pokey at my cousin PooPie’s wedding and I can’t tell you how many beers it took to get me …” “Not sissy dance! Man’s dance. You have to get down!” “Excuse me?” “Get down! I show you.” Coach Boris turns on his radio tuned to the balalaika top-40 station. Then he crosses his arms in front of his chest and squats on the porch alternately kicking his legs in front of him. “Now, you try!” Ten minutes later, Devin’s wife comes to the door to see what the noise is. “Oh, my!” “Hi, honey!” “I like your hat.” “Next, Boris is teaching me the Saber Dance!” “Oh, my!”

Looking forward to seeing Devin’s new dance behind the plate. Good one Max.

Reds in Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects lists (1990-2016)…

2016: 6 — Robert Stephenson (32), Cody Reed (34), Jesse Winker (51), Jose Peraza (66), Amir Garrett (73), Tyler Stephenson (98)

2015: 3 — Robert Stephenson (23), Jesse Winker (47), Raisel Iglesias (58)

2014: 2 — Robert Stephenson (19), Billy Hamilton (43)

2013: 4 — Billy Hamilton (20), Robert Stephenson (56), Tony Cingrani (82), Daniel Corcino (94)

2012: 3 — Devin Mesoraco (16), Billy Hamilton (48), Zack Cozart (75)

2011: 4 — Aroldis Chapman (7), Billy Hamilton (50), Devin Mesoraco (64), Yonder Alonso (73)

2010: 4 — Aroldis Chapman (22), Todd Frazier (43), Yonder Alonso (45), Mike Leake (72)

2009: 2 — Yonder Alonso (35), Todd Frazier (60)

2008: 5 — Jay Bruce (1), Homer Bailey (9), Johnny Cueto (34), Joey Votto (44), Drew Stubbs (100)

2007: 4 — Homer Bailey (5), Jay Bruce (14), Joey Votto (43), Drew Stubbs (88)

2006: 2 — Homer Bailey (38), Jay Bruce (76)

2005: 3 — Homer Bailey (48), Edwin Encarnacion (56), Richie Gardner (93)

2004: 1 — Ryan Wagner (46)

2003: 3 — Bobby Basham (69), Chris Gruler (77), Wily Mo Pena (87)

2002: 3 — Austin Kearns (11), Ty Howington (25), Wily Mo Pena (65)

2001: 5 — Drew Henson (14), Austin Kearns (24), Adam Dunn (33), Dane Sardinha (74), David Espinosa (90)

2000: 6 — Gookie Dawkins (21), Drew Henson (24), Ed Yarnall (55), Adam Dunn (56), Rob Bell (59), Jackson Melian (72)

1999: 3 — Rob Bell (35), Austin Kearns (76), Scott Williamson (97)

1998: 1 — Damian Jackson (62)

1997: 2 — Aaron Boone (81), Brett Tomko (84)

1996: 2 — Pokey Reese (60), Steve Gibralter (71)

1995: 3 — Pokey Reese (48), Pat Watkins (83), C.J. Nitkowski (87)

1994: 3 — Pokey Reese (41), Chad Mottola (43), Johnny Ruffin (53)

1993: 6 — Willie Greene (24), John Roper (36), Pokey Reese (48), Chad Mottola (71), Steve Gibralter (79), Dan Wilson (91)

1992: 5 — Reggie Sanders (11), Dan Wilson (41), John Roper (53), Pokey Reese (75), Mo Sanford (94)

1991: 4 — Reggie Sanders (8), Chris Hammond (63), Reggie Jefferson (78), Dan Wilson (95)

1990: 2 — Reggie Jefferson (28), Brian Lane (36)

Seems like an awfully lot of top 100’s over the years mentioned never became successful or impact ML players. Wonder how Cardinals and other successful franchises do in this regard.

2016 Impact Rookies: Second Basemen…(excerpt)…
by Marc Hulet – February 12, 2016
Second Basemen
Top Targets:
Jose Peraza, Reds: The Reds traded long-time third baseman Todd Frazier to the White Sox back in December in a three-team deal that actually saw the Dodgers receive the better overall rookie haul. Cincinnati received a couple of underwhelming prospects and Peraza — who is reportedly the jewel of the deal from the Reds’ perspective. The rookie second baseman was supposed to fill the gap created by a Brandon Phillips trade but the veteran has so far nixed any attempts from the club to trade him. That creates a bit of a problem for Peraza, who may have to settle for another year in Triple-A or some time as a big league utility player. Once he receives regular playing time, the former Braves prospect has a chance to impact fantasy leagues with his game-changing speed. He stole just 36 bases last year but had 60 or more the two years prior.

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon | 1:00 PM ET
CINCINNATI — With the start of Spring Training only days away, this is the third in a series of stories leading up to the opening of Reds camp. Already covered were Cincinnati’s bounce-back players and new faces. Today’s story takes a look at some of the top prospects who could be a factor in 2016 and beyond.

Missing out on the postseason over the past couple of campaigns hasn’t been fun for the Reds or their fans. Projected salaries of free agency-bound players on the small market club made it more difficult for Cincinnati’s budget to compete with other teams. The decision was made last summer to rebuild by shedding some veterans and going young.

Via recent Drafts and the trades of Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Marlon Byrd, Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, the Reds have restocked their system. It’s already paid off in the form of respect, as the organization had five players recently named to MLB.com’s annual list of the Top 100 prospects. Last year, there were only two.

This makes for exciting times to be a Reds prospect, as some could be poised to make their Major League debuts this season. Here is a look at some of the names to watch:
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OF Jesse Winker: Some view the left-handed hitter as a younger version of Jay Bruce, and his poise and personality are certainly similar to the Reds’ right fielder. Ranked No. 34 overall by MLB.com, Winker has an outside shot at the vacant left-field job in Cincinnati — but it would require him to skip the Triple-A level if he earned the spot. The 22-year-old started 2015 slowly, but rallied back and posted a .282/.390/.433 line, with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs in 123 games for Double-A Pensacola.
………………………..
RHP Robert Stephenson: Ranked just behind Winker at No. 35 overall, Stephenson will be in camp vying for one of the three vacancies in the Reds’ big league rotation. The 2011 first-round Draft pick, who turns 23 on Feb. 24, is on the 40-man roster for the first time. The organization felt a move up to Triple-A Louisville last season both challenged and invigorated Stephenson. In 25 starts combined for Pensacola and Louisville, he was 8-11 with a 3.83 ERA and led the entire organization with 140 strikeouts.
…………………………
LHP Cody Reed: The No. 66-ranked prospect in baseball, Reed was one of three left-handed pitchers acquired from the Royals in July’s trade for Cueto. At the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels last season, Reed was 13-9 with a 2.41 ERA over a combined 26 games. Following the trade, he had a 2.17 ERA in eight starts and his 60 strikeouts for Pensacola were the most in Minor League Baseball over that stretch. Reed, who turns 23 on April 15, is a contender for a rotation spot, but has never pitched in Triple-A.
………………………….
LHP Amir Garrett: Since giving up college basketball to focus on baseball two years ago, Garrett’s progress on the mound has gotten a turbo boost. Ranked No. 69 overall, he was named to the Sirius-XM All-Star Futures Game and was also the Reds’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, after he was 9-7 with a 2.44 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 26 starts for Class A Advanced Daytona. It’s unlikely Garrett will reach the Majors this season, but at his current trajectory, things are looking very good.
………………………….
2B Jose Peraza: Acquired from the Dodgers in the three-team trade that sent Frazier to the White Sox, Peraza is one of the more intriguing players entering camp. He appears to be ready for the Majors, but lacks a place to play after incumbent second baseman Brandon Phillips invoked his veto rights over being traded during the offseason. Peraza, who is ranked No. 71 overall, is known for having a plus glove and can also play shortstop and center field. Last season at Triple-A, he registered a .293/.316/.378 line, with four homers, 42 RBIs and 33 steals. He also played in seven big league games for the Dodgers. Turning 22 on April 30, Peraza could get regular at-bats at Louisville if there isn’t a spot in the big leagues.
………………………….
RHP Nick Travieso: The Reds’ first-round pick in the 2012 Draft, Travieso is 22 and posted good numbers in ’15 before suffering a fractured right wrist that kept him out for six weeks. In 19 starts for Daytona, he was 6-6 with a 2.70 ERA. This will be his second time in big league camp.
…………………………..
OF Phillip Ervin: This will be the first time at Major League Spring Training for the Reds’ 2013 first-round Draft pick. Ervin, 23, split last season between Daytona and Pensacola and hit a combined 14 homers with 71 RBIs. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season.

Oddsmaker releases projected win totals for each MLB team in 2016…
http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/mlb-vegas-projected-win-totals-over-under-2016-season-giants-cubs-mets-021216
NL Central…
Cubs – 89
Cards – 87 1/2
Pirates – 87
Brewers – 71 1/2
Reds – 71

Yikes…SF looking extremely solid…
2.93 18-9 234 1.01 (Bumgarner)
3.44 11-13 176 1.13 (Cueto)
4.96 11-13 163 1.29 (Samardzija)
3.58 8-6 78 1.12 (Peavy)
5.79 2-4 41 1.50 (Cain)
Top three teams to win WS…
Chicago Cubs 7/1
Boston Red Sox 8/1
San Francisco Giants 10/1

BTW…Cueto goes from a shoebox (GABP #26) to a very large pitcher friendly
ballpark (AT&T #10). He may well be on his way to 20+ wins…

‘The days dwindle down to a precious few …’ Spring Training Advent Calendar window number 4 (!!!) opens to reveal a new task for Intern Smedley. He’s making a sign that says ‘Reds Left Fielders.’ His job is to post himself at the Goodyear International Airport and direct incoming left fielders to the team shuttle. He looks over the list of players and says to himself, “We’re going to need a bigger bus!”

Awesome.

Sound like Bruce going to Orioles is in more hands than Dexter Fowler.
From MLBTR:
•The potential addition of Pedro Alvarez to the Orioles’ lineup would push Mark Trumbo into right field, though Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com spoke to a scout who has a more optimistic take of Trumbo in the outfield than most reports. The scout to whom Kubatko spoke graded Trumbo as a 50 on the 20-80 scale in the outfield (average). “He’s not going to hurt you out there,” the scout said. “He’s athletic in the outfield. He’ll be fine. He’s got a good arm, he’s a good athlete, he’s a good fielder.” Trumbo, though, has long drawn poor reviews from scouts in the outfield and rates considerably below average in the outfield corners per DRS and Ultimate Zone Rating.

MLB: Will the Cincinnati Reds Lose 100 Games in 2016?…
Eric Schaal
February 15, 2016

Call it “rebuilding,” “tanking,” or what you will, Cincinnati has entered that awkward phase in which losses pile up on the field as prospects load up on the farm. Having traded away four of its six best players since last summer, the 2016 club will test the patience of Cincy’s devoted fan base. In fact, a Reds team that won the NL Central title in 2012 could very well have a 100-loss season, MLB’s first since Houston hit rock-bottom in 2013. The view from here is not pleasant.

First of all, credit Cincinnati ownership and management for recognizing the situation and acting swiftly. Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake were about to become free agents, followed by Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier after the 2016 season. With only Joey Votto locked up long-term (through 2023), the time had come to restock the farm and see what the young core of pitchers and position players could offer.

We’ll learn what that entails on a day-to-day basis at Great American Ball Park, where fans gave the club 18th place in home attendance amid the 98-loss season of 2015 (better than both playoff-bound Houston and second-place Minnesota). Before August, the entertaining Cueto still plied his trade at the park, and All Star Week in Cincy featured Frazier winning the Home Run Derby for the hometown crowd. Plus, any time the club had a lead, the bullpen doors opened for the Cuban Missile, the closer who puts on a special show.

All things considered, those were good times. In 2016, Votto will be the chief (possibly only) attraction while the presence of affable Brandon Phillips will lighten the mood. Otherwise, a club that ranked in MLB’s bottom five in batting average, runs, and ERA last year will be worse off than it was as recently as September.

Even if fans were used to Cueto being gone, Frazier’s 43 doubles and 35 home runs will be sorely missed. We’re trying to think why any pitcher would come after Joey Votto and came up with no answers. The preternatural patience Votto showcases (a .459 OBP in 2015) will surely be in effect this season, and watching your best player draw walks every at-bat can be infuriating. Billy Hamilton running the bases may be the most entertaining thing about this club, offensively.

As for the pitching, Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani will set the tone for a rotation that posted a 5.62 ERA (29th in MLB) after September 1. J.J. Hoover will pace the bullpen that lost Burke Badenhop along with Chapman, so there will be auditions in the middle innings and plenty of room for call-ups during the season. How this translates into wins, we can’t say.

Maybe the Reds will do it right and be like the Houston Astros, a club that lost 111 games (!) in 2013 then played into the ALDS in 2015. The worst record earns you the top draft picks, and maybe there is a Carlos Correa or George Springer in the Cincinnati’s future. Reds fans would surely trade a few awful seasons to get back to contention within five years.

We don’t see this team being better than the one that went 64-98 last season, and things could easily be worse. FanGraphs computer projections, which had no 100-loss team for the upcoming campaign, came up with 73-89 for Cincinnati in this first year of full rebuild mode. That seems optimistic, even for a machine that cannot feel. If there is one team that can lose 100 games in 2016, this Reds team would be our pick. Call it tanking if you like. We call it good and necessary, if a little ugly.

From USA Today Sports:
The Reds are joined at the bottom of USA Today’s win projections with the woeful Philadelphia Phillies. Both teams are projected to go 61-101 this year.

Yikes! Three windows left! Behind Spring Training Advent Calendar window #3 (!!!!), we discover Mark Sheldon putting his 3-year-old granddaughter (?) to bed the night before he leaves for Arizona: “Shall I read you a book?” “Oh yes, Grandpa! Goody! Goody! Goody!” “Alright, here’s your favorite! Good night moon … Good night cow jumping over the moon … Good night snow … Good night windshield scraper …” “Hey, wait a minute!” “Good night scarf … Good night gloves …” “That’s not how …” “Good night plow … Good night rock salt …” “Grandpa …” “Good night boots …” “Grandpa!” “Good night black ice …” “GRANDPA!” “Yes, honey?” “Look! There’s supposed to be a one-to-one correspondence between the words on the page and the sounds coming out of your mouth! It’s called READING, Sheldon!” “That’s so cute! Your mother said the exact same thing to me when she was …” “Save it for you memoirs, old man! Now read it right!” “Good night moon … Good night cow jumping over the moon … Good night salt truck … Good night snow blower …” “Jeez Louise!”

Can’t imagine his disappointment in leaving all this behind. I’m sure he is in mourning.

Minor League Spring Training Stories: The Position Players…
Posted on 02/16/2016 by DOUG GRAY
Three weeks ago we looked at the stories from the pitchers side of things as we head into spring training. Today we are going to tackle things from the position side of things.

There are two players that stand out as ones to really keep an eye on above the others as spring training gets underway and they are both outfielders. Yorman Rodriguez and Jake Cave both represent different, but similar issues when it comes to how the roster could be shaped.
……………………

Yorman Rodriguez, the 23-year-old Venezuelan outfielder is out of options and must stick to the 25-man roster or the Reds will risk losing him to another team. In 2015 he got out to a rough start, hitting just .218/.250/.378 over the first five weeks of the season for the Triple-A Louisville Bats. He turned things around over the next nine weeks though as he began to make adjustments and hit .302/.343/.460 in 202 plate appearances. Unfortunately on July 21st he played his last game of the season as he suffered a leg injury. He returned to play winter ball in Venezuela for a few weeks in November.
……………………

Jake Cave was the first of two Rule 5 draft picks that the Reds made in December. The outfielder has to stick to the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the New York Yankees. He spent all but the final week of the season in Double-A Trenton in the Yankees system. His April and May were strong, hitting .293/.382/.377 with 25 walks and 34 strikeouts in 223 plate appearances. The next two months were a real struggle though as he hit just .230/.268/.282 with just 12 walks and 43 strikeouts in 229 plate appearances. Things did rebound well from there over the final five weeks, thanks partially to a .429 BABIP, hitting .336/.388/.464 with nine walks and 29 strikeouts in 140 plate appearances.
……………………….

Those two guys both have a shot to play center field or either of the corner spots. They represent different types of players with Rodriguez being the more toolsy kind of player with lots of upside, while Cave is less toolsy, but perhaps a little bit safer to be a 4th outfielder.
………………………..

Of course, there’s another outfielder that may will have their eyes on. Jesse Winker isn’t on the 40-man roster, and he’s got no Triple-A experience under his belt. With that said, he’s also the teams top position prospect just about everywhere that you look and in some places he’s already projected to be the teams second best hitter in 2016 behind Joey Votto. For service time reasons, despite the fact that the Reds absolutely have a need at the position that he plays, it’s highly unlikely that he breaks north with the team. If he does have a strong spring though, his time in Triple-A could be cut short if the team finds a need to cycle someone else into the outfield.
………………………….

Less heralded, but possibly quite valuable to the roster could be Scott Schebler. He came over in the Todd Frazier trade. He struggled in Triple-A in 2015, but has hit the cover off of the ball in previous years and performed well in a September call up that was limited to just 37 plate appearances. He’s got some good power in his bat and that could certainly play well in Great American Ballpark. He has options remaining, which could come into play, but he’s a left fielder with some pop in his bat and could certainly fill a need on the roster with a good showing in the spring.
………………………….

Tyler Holt joined the Reds in September after being claimed from the Indians and managed to get into five games. Outside of 21 plate appearances in the big leagues with Cleveland, he spent the 2015 season in Triple-A where he hit .302/.386/.370 with 50 walks and 62 strikeouts. He’s a contact oriented hitter who has had success in the minor leagues, but he’s struggled in the Majors with that approach on a limited basis over the last two years. The one thing that plays into the favor of Holt is that he’s probably the second best center fielder coming into spring training behind Billy Hamilton and the team may want that kind of defender on the roster just in case.
………………………….

The last guy that will have a bunch of eyes on him will be Jose Peraza. The infielder was acquired in the Todd Frazier trade, but currently seems to be blocked on the roster by Brandon Phillips at second base, or Zack Cozart at shortstop if the Reds wanted to try and slide him back over to shortstop to see if he can make that position work. Among the offseason trades, Peraza is the highest ranking prospect and while there’s some concern about how his game will translate, the tools are there for him to be a valuable every day player. With his being blocked, it’s unlikely that the Reds will bring him north as a 22-year-old utility player and are far more likely to send him to Triple-A to play every day and be ready to step in if the opportunity arises.

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon | 4:20 PM ET
CINCINNATI — In just a couple of days, there will be no more offseason, and the Hot Stove discussion will be over. Reds pitchers and catchers will report and work out on Thursday at the team complex in Goodyear, Ariz.

MLB.com has brought you a series of spring preview stories covering the players who are looking to bounce back from down years or injuries, new faces, prospects to watch and more. Today’s entry is the Reds’ projected starting lineup and rotation for Opening Day.

A lot can change over the 44 days of camp, especially this year for a Cincinnati club in transition. While much of the lineup contains familiar faces, left field is a wide open spot for several contenders. Center fielder Billy Hamilton, who is coming back from both a down year and a shoulder injury, could wind up batting first or ninth. Others like Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart will be tested as they try to return from serious injuries suffered in 2015.
The pitching staff is much harder to predict, with three open spots for up to nine candidates. Veteran Homer Bailey is not listed below because he isn’t expected to join the rotation until May, when his rehab from Tommy John surgery is expected to be complete. Several jobs also remain open in the bullpen, including the closer role vacated by Aroldis Chapman.
There can always be a Spring Training surprise or two, and of course injuries can throw a wrench in the best-laid plans. But for now, here is a glance at where things look for the Reds heading into Spring Training:
2015 record
64-98, fifth place in the NL Central
Projected batting order
1. CF Billy Hamilton:
.226 BA, .274 OBP, .289 SLG, 4 HR, 57 SB in 2015
2. 2B Brandon Phillips :
.294 BA, .328 OBP, .395 SLG, 12 HR, 70 RBI in 2015
3. 1B Joey Votto :
.314 BA, .459 OBP, .541 SLG, 29 HR, 80 RBI in 2015
4. C Devin Mesoraco:
.178 BA, .275 OBP, .244 SLG, 0 HR, 2 RBI in 2015
5. RF Jay Bruce :
.226 BA, .294 OBP, .434 SLG, 26 HR, 87 RBI in 2015
6. 3B Eugenio Suarez :
.280 BA, .315 OBP, .446 SLG, 13 HR, 48 RBI in 2015
7. LF Adam Duvall :
.219 BA, .306 OBP, .484 SLG, 5 HR, 9 RBI in 2015
8. SS Zack Cozart:
.258 BA, .310 OBP, .459 SLG, 9 HR, 28 RBI in 2015
Projected rotation
1. RHP Anthony DeSclafani: 9-13, 4.05 ERA in 2015
2. RHP Raisel Iglesias: 3-7, 4.15 ERA in 2015
3. RHP Michael Lorenzen: 4-9, 5.40 ERA in 2015
4. RHP Jon Moscot:1-1, 4.63 ERA in 2015
5. LHP Brandon Finnegan: 2-2, 4.18 ERA in 2015
Projected bullpen
Closer: RHP J.J. Hoover: 1/7 saves, 2.94 ERA in 2015
RH setup man: Blake Wood: 3.53 ERA (AAA) in 2015
LH setup man: Tony Cingrani: 5.67 ERA in 2015

Wow I really hope this is not the line up. Jon Mascot has no business being a starter. Perez or Suarez or Winker could be in LF. I think the biggest thing the Reds should do is play as many as possible. How about a 6 man rotation to keep the innings down. A revolving substitution every couple of days between players to keep them fresh and play the rookies. Phillips could get a rest every forth day while rotating around Philips, Perez, Cozart, and Suarez. Play people all over the field enough of the one position philosophy do something different. Same with pitching staff don’t do the normal, that is the last thing this team needs.

In keeping with playing as many as possible, especially the young talent that our future depends on, I would have Phillips playing every 4th or 5th day not resting every 4th or 5th day.

MLB won’t fear going extreme to attract a new generation…
Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports 9:02 p.m. EST February 16, 2016

Major League Baseball is considering radical rule changes to attract a younger audience.

Baseball has trouble enough deciding whether the DH should be employed in both leagues, and re-defining the slide rule into second base, without overhauling Abner Doubleday’s original rules.

Still, at a time when Major League Baseball is desperately trying to bridge a generation gap with their fans – 56 was the median age of fans watching nationally televised games last year – the industry is reaching out to the youth of America.

That number is alarming, particularly considering the average age was 34 for those using the MLB At-bat application on their cell phones, tablets and TVs.

As Commissioner Rob Manfred prepares to fan out through spring training, beginning Friday in Florida, he’s intent on spreading a message integral to the sport’s prosperity: If you don’t play baseball, you probably won’t watch baseball.

“The biggest and strongest indicator of fan affinity as an adult,” Manfred told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, “is if you played as a kid. The relationship was really strong.”

So how do you get kids to start playing baseball again, instead of playing video games or other sports?

Introduce a few radical rule changes to pique their interest.

“Let’s forget the traditional mindset,” said Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who was hired in December as a special advisor to Manfred on youth programs and outreach. “We’re not ruining the game. We’re teaching the game. We’re showcasing the game.

“We want to test this out in tournament games, in consolation games, to see how it works.”

You ready?

How about starting every inning with a runner on first base? How about starting each inning with a different count? Instead of three outs an inning, how about five batters? What if players are required to steal?

“We want to put out some ideas, and try some things,” Ripken said. “Look, if someone doesn’t know how to coach baseball, it can be the most boring sport in the world, sharing one ball with eight players and a pitcher. Let’s try different elements.

“These rules have stood for so long, let’s see how we can create action plays in baseball, let a catcher block balls and throw out runners, let infielders have the potential for double plays, showcase an outfielder’s arm strength.

“You integrate these sort of things, you’re playing the game faster, quicker, and everyone is more energized.”

Who knows, you get more kids excited about baseball, maybe the next Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Archer or Bryce Harper ambles over from another sport?

It’s all part of Manfred’s master plan. He introduced the “Play Ball,” initiative, hired former Los Angeles Angels GM Tony Reagins to oversee all of the youth programs, reached out to city mayors across the country for “Play Ball Summer’’ and clubs with “Play Ball Weekend” in May.

“Really, this should have been done a long time ago,’’ Ripken said. “This is a big ordeal. Baseball has lost a lot of athletes to other sports. The general feeling is that baseball is too slow, too boring.

“It’s the most dynamic game around. It’s magical and fascinating once you understand it, but for kids, it’s got to be fun. You have to introduce it in the right way. This delivers a country-wide initiative to get people kids to play. It doesn’t have to be in the formal sense, but in all ways, and having fun playing creative versions of it.”

Considering how much kids love their gadgets, the Pittsburgh Pirates and 10 other franchises have invested in Diamond Kinetics, a software that allows players to analyze their swing with a sensor on the knob of their bat. It lets them know their bat speed, exit velocity, and everything else you want to know without needing a joystick or video game.

“What really excites me about that is that it’s a technological-driven way to get kids engaged in learning the game in a serious way,” Pirates owner Bob Nutting told USA TODAY Sports, “but in a fun and different way. It’s another way to re-energize activity with the declining participation in organized sports. We want to do everything we can as a catalyst to get people engaged in not only youth sports overall, but particularly, baseball.

“I really believe we have that opportunity.”

Time is of the essence considering that youth participation in baseball and softball has steadily declined since 2000, plummeting by 40%, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.

“You always see the popularity of some of the other sports, ones that kids are more engaged in,” said Reagins, MLB senior vice president for youth programs. “You wonder how these other sports get all of the attention. Well, we have to do some things that are non-traditional to get kids more involved and more appealing across the board, making it a quicker paced-game.

“There are a lot of kids who have never picked up a ball or bat, so now we want that experience to be fun and action packed. Young people are really interested in metrics, so they want to know how fast they can run, how hard they throw, everything.

“It’s going to take some time to see the numbers turn, but I really believe they will.”

And, if they do, well, maybe a whole lot more ballparks will start looking like AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Giants sell out every game, playing in front of perhaps the most entertaining and energetic crowd in baseball.

“The games in San Francisco,” Manfred said, “don’t look like a typical baseball crowd. Really, we’d like to see younger audiences like that everywhere.”

Baseball’s future may ultimately depend on it.

How about starting every inning with a runner on first base? How about starting each inning with a different count? Instead of three outs an inning, how about five batters? What if players are required to steal?
…………………..
I will not continue watching, but then again, I am a purest.

They tweaked other sports to make them relevant…they did not change them
into a child like fun and games sport.

One more sleep ’til Baseball! It’s Spring Training Advent Calendar window #2 (!!!!!!): It opens just a crack so we can peep into Walt Jockety’s office in GABP where he’s having a strategy powwow with Intern Williams [no wait, that’s not .. oh well, close enough]. Jockety is speaking: “The team doesn’t look that strong this year. We need new players. There’s a source of ballplayers we’ve overlooked.” “Cuba?” “No.” “Korea?” “No.” “Holland?” “No! St. Louis!” “But we’ve already signed every ex-Cardinal we could …” “Not the Cardinals, the Rams.” “The Rams?” “Sure. The NFL’s relocating the team to LA. I bet some players don’t want to go. The quarterbacks could pitch. The receivers have good hands — we’ll make them infielders. And the linemen can be big bopping outfielders! Check out the roster and see if any of them played high school ball.” “On it, chief!” “Now, on that other matter …” “Bad news there, chief. Stan Musial …” “Stand and remove your hat when you say that name.” Yes, sir. He’s dead, sir.” “Drat! Oh, well. You have to admit he’d have solved our left field problem.” “No question!” “Call Andy Van Slyke …” “On it, chief!”

Bummer. I can see it. Chickens with their heads cut off riing a bell.

5 questions for Reds spring training…
C. Trent Rosecrans, crosecrans@enquirer.com 11:20 a.m. EST February 17, 2016

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Reds pitchers and catchers report to spring training Thursday — even if Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Brayan Pena aren’t among them. The Reds’ rebuild began in earnest last season and continues into a transitional 2016 season.

There are more questions than answers as the Reds start the 2016 campaign, but here are some of the biggest questions:

1. Can the injured players bounce back?

Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco and Homer Bailey played in a combined 78 games, despite accounting for nearly $15 million in payroll. All three are coming off major surgeries that cut short their 2015 seasons. Cozart (knee) and Mesoraco (hip) said they will be ready when pitchers and catchers report, but both will be watched carefully throughout the spring. Don’t expect either to shoulder a full workload in spring training.

Bailey had Tommy John surgery and is expected to return to the Reds in March. However, every player responds to their rehab differently. So far, so good, according to all reports, but even the most optimistic projections have him starting the regular season on the disabled list.

2. What to do with Jose Peraza?

Perhaps no player has more to prove than newcomer Peraza. The 21-year-old was the centerpiece of the deal that sent All-Star Todd Frazier to the White Sox.

Peraza’s prospect stock dropped in the last two years and he’s been traded twice — from the Braves to the Dodgers and from the Dodgers (through the White Sox) to the Reds.

The Reds said Peraza will play second base, shortstop and center field.

3. What about Brandon Phillips?

The Reds’ second baseman stopped talking to reporters two years ago after accurate reports of the Reds’ attempts to trade him. How will he respond to the Reds’ very public attempts to trade him?

Phillips used his 10-5 rights (at least 10 years service time with at least the last five with the same team) to veto trades to the Nationals and Diamondbacks, even though the team acquired its second baseman of the future. Phillips has two years remaining on his contract. Will he be a distraction as the team goes younger and he gets older?

4. DeSclafani, Iglesias and then who?

The Reds have plenty of pitching prospects, but few answers after Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias. Those are the only two Bryan Price has penciled into his rotation heading into spring training.

There are five other returning Reds who started games last year – Jon Moscot, Brandon Finnegan, Michael Lorenzen, Keyvius Sampson and John Lamb (who will be delayed by back surgery). But then there’s a talented group of youngsters, headlined by top prospect Robert Stephenson. For now, the plan seems to be to start Stephenson in Triple-A, but if he shows improved command, he could change that. Rookie Davis, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Sal Romano and Nick Travieso are a little behind Stephenson in the pecking order, but any of them could find themselves in Cincinnati this summer.

5. Who is in left field?

The team has been confident Jesse Winker could be the left fielder of the future, but Walt Jocketty said he doesn’t think it’s quite time yet for the 22-year-old. Winker will likely start the season at Triple-A Louisville, but he could make the decision difficult for the Reds with a good spring.

Last month Price said he expects an open competition for the spot and could even see a platoon in left. Those vying for the job will be Adam Duvall (who started 15 games for the Reds in left last year), Scott Schebler (who came over in the Todd Frazier deal) and Yorman Rodriguez as the leading candidates. None of those have the spot locked up, which could lead to a surprise when the Reds open the season against the Phillies on April 4.

Pitchers

Tim Adleman NR

Homer Bailey

Tony Cingrani

Carlos Contreras

*Caleb Cotham*

*Rookie Davis*

Anthony DeSclafani

*Dayan Diaz* NR

Jumbo Diaz

Brandon Finnegan

Amir Garrett

Drew Hayes NR

J.J. Hoover

Raisel Iglesias

Stephen Johnson

John Lamb

Michael Lorenzen

Matt Magill NR

Ryan Mattheus NR

*Tim Melville NR*

*A.J. Morris NR*

Jon Moscot

*Chris O’Grady*

Cody Reed NR

*JC Ramirez NR*

Sal Romano

Keyvius Sampson

*Jonathan Sanchez NR*

Layne Somsen NR

Robert Stephenson

Nick Travieso NR

Pedro Villarreal NR

Zack Weiss NR

*Blake Wood*

Catchers

Tucker Barnhart

Ramon Cabrera

Joe Hudson NR

Devin Mesoraco

*Jordan Pacheco NR*

Kyle Skipworth

Infielders

*Brandon Allen NR*

Alex Blandino NR

Zack Cozart

Carlton Daal NR

Ivan De Jesus

*Eric Jagielo NR*

*Jose Peraza*

Brandon Phillips

Eugenio Suarez

Joey Votto

Outfielders

Jay Bruce

*Jake Cave*

Adam Duvall

Phillip Ervin NR

Billy Hamilton

Tyler Holt

Yorman Rodriguez

*Scott Schebler*

Kyle Waldrop

Jesse Winker NR

This is it! Intern Smedley was sent back to Cincinnati to open Spring Training Advent Calendar window #1 (!!!!!!!) … because: all the MMW bloggers have been flown to Goodyear Int’l Airport on ‘MLB 1’ (Mark Sheldon’s private Boeing 767) and limo’d to the Reds training center in a stretch hummer. We are now gathered on Field #1, having been joined by the student body (and I do mean ‘body’!) of Central Arizona C and C University (Cheerleading and Cosmetology, affectionately known as CACA U). They are all dressed in miniskirts and tailored men’s dress shirts, with ponytails poking through Reds caps (there is a god!). Neb, the hardest working man in the blogosphere, has scored Fox News’ #1 draft pick for 2016, but all of us have done fine. Well, almost all: I seem to be joined at the hip with the love child of Ruth Buzzi and the Elephant Man (and yet I’m strangely excited). Dos Equis (‘I don’t always watch baseball, but when I do, I prefer the Reds!’) is underwriting the event and they are interviewing us for their ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ replacement search while furnishing us all the beer we can drink. Did I mention the sun and the 73 degree weather with a 5-10 mph breeze out of the West? The UC marching band is playing back-up for a Katy Perry, Reba McIntyre, Anita Baker and Beach Boys show. And, here they come! It’s Mark Sheldon and the Reds brass in their Bell Labs Super 8 Jet Packs, landing in the middle of the infield! The band plays “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and right on cue, the pitchers and catchers parachute onto the outfield grass (that was what they learned during the ‘summit.’). As they ditch their ‘chutes and beginning stretching and warming up for their first practice, Bob Castellini approaches the podium to address the bloggers: “Good morning! Thank you for coming out today, the happiest day of the whole year. This day is like a first date with a beautiful woman. You don’t know exactly what you’ve got, but it could be the most wonderful thing ever, and your heart is full of hope, and over dessert you’re thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll get lucky’ and wow, she is hot! and … Where was I? Oh, yes. The happiest, most hopeful day of the year! Sheldon, I congratulate you on the outstanding group of bloggers you’ve attracted to the site – you’re major leaguers, every one of you. Yes, you want to run the team. Yes, you seem to think you know better how to spend my money. Yes, you have strong opinions on which players to trade or sign or cut or draft or play or whatever. And maybe you ‘re right! Hah! Hah! But seriously, you do it because you care, and baseball has survived and prospered for 150 years because, and only because, people like you, the MMW bloggers, care. Now if you’ll all step into my palatial office, I’d like to get your views on this year’s roster and payroll …” And he gets them. Boy, does he ever!

[That’s it for the STAC – we can now say the 4 happiest words in the English language: pitchers and catchers report. Or, as my wife replied last night when I asked her what was important about today: ‘Patchers and kitchers report?’ Ain’t she adorable!]

Before Smedley left to go back to Cincy, he walked in Bryan Price’s office to say goodbye. He stopped dead in his tracks looked around and asked Price what all the writing on the wall was about. Price said, “what writing, I don’t see the writing on the wall”. Smedley shook his head, turned around and went back to Cincy.

LOL…good one!

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | @m_sheldon | 10:50 AM ET
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — With more roster spots and roles up for grabs than in recent years, Reds players wasted little time getting to Spring Training.

Camp officially opened at the player development complex in Goodyear on Thursday with the reporting of pitchers and catchers and the first scheduled workout. But many players have already been on the ground for days.

As of Wednesday, about 50 of the 62 players on the camp roster had already checked in. Physicals are scheduled for Thursday morning, and the first workout will come in the afternoon.
Once its players step on the field for drills, Cincinnati can officially put a tumultuous offseason in the rearview mirror. Coming off of a 98-loss season in 2015, Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty and new general manager Dick Williams made all of the team’s expensive veteran players available. It yielded two trades — Todd Frazier to the White Sox and Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees. Both deals brought the team Minor Leaguers.

Add in those brought in from the July trades of Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, and the prospects groomed already from within the system, it means there are a lot of fresh faces appearing in the Reds’ spring clubhouse for the first time.
There are 34 pitchers and seven catchers working out for now, with the full squad set to both report and work out Tuesday. The Cactus League schedule of exhibition games begins March 1 with the first of three straight games vs. the Indians.
Two pitchers will begin on a slower pace at the onset. Veteran Homer Bailey, who is returning from Tommy John surgery last May on his right elbow, isn’t expected to be ready to pitch until early-to-mid May. Lefty John Lamb may not be ready until mid-April as he recovers from disc surgery on his back.

Key players returning from injury will be closely in focus this spring. Catcher Devin Mesoraco had left hip surgery last year and missed most of 2015. Shortstop Zack Cozart had reconstructive right knee surgery in June and center fielder Billy Hamilton had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in September. Cozart and Hamilton received permission from the league and the Major League Baseball Players Association to begin formal workouts early because they were injured last season.
With the Reds in rebuild mode, it has created opportunities for several young players at multiple spots. There are openings in left field, three open spots in the rotation and several bullpen roles available.
Cincinnati manager Bryan Price, Jocketty and Williams will spend the next six-plus weeks evaluating all the spots in competition, with the task before them to get the roster to 25 players by Opening Day. The Reds open the season vs. the Phillies on April 4 at Great American Ball Park.

Excerpt from article – What to keep an eye on this spring…
Jayson Stark
ESPN Senior Writer

Last year, on the North Side of Chicago, was a gift. A gift from the baseball gods. A bonus year. A year those Chicago Cubs never really planned on. Never envisioned 97 wins coming. Never envisioned the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 hitters launching home runs on the same enchanted October evening. Never envisioned the first postseason champagne party in Wrigley Field history. And so, when the fun ended with a National League Championship Series sweep by the Mets, it was nothing to mourn. Because it was a year with no pressure, no expectations, no hangover. In other words, it was a year that will feel like the opposite of this year.

It’s now 2016, the year that the Cubs’ time has officially arrived. With $272 million invested in Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey. With Vegas anointing them as the team to beat. With the whole world gazing at what happens next. Remember this no matter where you’re from: Life is always more interesting when the Cubs are this good. Now they just have to live up to it all.
……………………….
The St. Louis Cardinals won 100 games last year. Their good friends at FanGraphs, apparently unaware of how sacrilegious they’re being, don’t see that history repeating. What FanGraphs projects is a team that’s going to drop from 100 wins to 84. That means 98 runs shaved off its run differential (from plus-122 to plus-24). That’s going to mean giving up 136 more runs than a staff that spent last summer pitching like the ’65 Dodgers. They’re projected to finish 10 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. And if that sounds a little grim, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections look even worse.

So this is a big, big spring in Cardinals country. The good news is, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk and Matt Adams ought to be healthy. The bad news is, Yadier Molina, uh, not so much, following October thumb surgery. And how momentous a deal is that?

“Huge,” one NL exec said. “All you have to do is watch him every day to understand what he means to that club.” So Molina’s ability to heal up by April and resume his reign as this team’s Lion King might be the biggest injury story in the whole sport this spring.

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