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Reds chef to be on ‘Chopped’

Four executive chefs from Delaware North-Sportservice that work for teams at Major League ballparks will be competing on the Food Network series, “Chopped.”

Reds executive chef James Major

Reds executive chef James Major

The episode titled,“Big Hitters,” will air Wednesday, October 8th at 8 p.m. ET on Food Network.

Here is more from the press release received on Monday:

“Hosted by Ted Allen, each round includes a basket of ingredients that have a connection to baseball. In the first basket, the competing chefs find some typical game-day eats, including Italian sausage. Then in the second round, the chefs are pleased to see a beautiful flank steak. In the dessert round, the judges (Scott Conant, Marc Murphy and Amanda Freitag) hope that the desserts are delicious, down to the last blueberry.The four chefs must use their professional training and culinary creativity to impress the judges and avoid the dreaded chopping block.”

Competitors include:

Josh Distenfeld – Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the Baltimore Orioles
Jessica Helms- Busch Stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals
James Major – Great American Ball Park for the Cincinnati Reds
Cristobal Vazquez – Globe Life Park for the Texas Rangers

Nice work Royals, Orioles

A couple of times before the Reds season ended, including once by Marty Brennaman, I was asked which teams I predicted would reach the World Series.

I replied — Angels vs. Nationals

Well — one team is out and the other is on the verge of being out. It’s amazing how the playoffs have been turned upside down by the underdogs.

On the American League side, it’s awesome that no matter who wins the ALCS between the Royals and Orioles, there is going to be a World Series participant that hasn’t been there since the 1980s. Kansas City’s previous appearance was 1985 while Baltimore’s was in 1983. Considering the Yankees and Red Sox seemed to have a deathgrip on the AL pennant for the past two decades, it’s a refreshing change.

It also shows that having high payrolls don’t mean you can’t be competitive. Heading into the season, the Orioles were 14th in payroll while the Royals were 18th.

Having witnessed the Royals Wild Card Game win over the A’s, it might have been the most exciting/thrilling game I’ve ever covered in 14 seasons. Kauffman Stadium was definitely the loudest outdoor baseball park I’ve ever experienced. What’s amazing about the Royals was when they were down 7-3 in the sixth — all the cheers had turned to boos for manager Ned Yost, who called for a bazillion bunts and made a very questionable pitching change that backfired. Then they came back — twice — and the place was even more electric. Just an awesome night of a baseball that got the postseason off to a great start.

The Royals seem to have “it” right now — the talent, the excitement, momentum and perhaps that overused term of destiny on their side. The Orioles certainly have a strong roster and I would definitely give Buck Showalter the edge over Yost. We saw rather recently how that club beat up the Reds and even without Davis and Machado, it’s a very strong lineup.

*As for something on the Reds, I plan to take a closer look soon at Johnny Cueto, who could be baseball’s best relative bargain next season as he is a year away from free agency after the 2015 season. His club option for 2015 is $10 million, which the Reds would be nuts not to exercise. Now the questions the club faces: Do they try to give him an extension this winter? Should they trade him and his bargain contract this winter to help retool the offense? Do nothing now and trade him during the season if they fall out of contention? Or let him pitch all of next season — especially if they’re contending — and roll the dice that if they can’t re-sign him as a free agent, they would at least get the Draft pick compensation?

And when the Reds are done answering the Cueto question — they can ask three more to themselves about Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon. Tough tasks indeed. While everyone — including me — is saying that it would be tough to keep all of them — especially Cueto and Latos — I’ll never fully count the Reds ownership out in taking the really big plunge. They’ve shown a willingness to spend and be creative with the contract structuring.

*One non-baseball note: Kudos to the Patriots for their classy act in last night’s game vs. the Bengals. New England cheerleaders wore Devon Still’s No. 75 jersey and the team played a tribute to his daughter, four-year Leah, who has been fighting cancer. Patriots owner Robert Kraft also donated $25,000. It’s just a really neat thing to see how the community inside and outside of Cincinnati has rallied for Still and his daughter.

Bell up for D-backs job

According to my colleague Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, the D-backs have confirmed they have eight candidates seeking to be their next manager.

Reds bench coach Jay Bell is on that list. From Steve:

– Bell, who played in the big leagues for 18 seasons, is currently the bench coach for the Reds after serving as the Pirates’ hitting coach last season. He played for the D-backs from 1998-2002 and also served as bench coach in Arizona under Bob Melvin from 2005-06 before taking a few years off to spend more time with his family. –

Bell was the right-hand man for first-year manager Bryan Price. If he were to move on and up, it would be interesting on how this affects Price and the coaching staff.

American League Wild Card

At least I get to cover a postseason game this year even if the Reds aren’t involved. I’m in Kansas City helping with A’s coverage as they play the Royals in the American League Wild Card Game.

A fantastic atmosphere here at Kauffman Stadium for a city that hasn’t had a playoff game in 29 years.

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Assistant GM leaving Reds

Reds assistant general manager Bob Miller will be leaving the club in October when his contract expires.

Miller, who confirmed the move to MLB.com, has purchased a business in Clearwater, Fla. He said he made the decision to leave a couple of months ago.

Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky brought Miller aboard as director of baseball administration and he was promoted to assistant GM in June of that season. He added vice president to his title in December 2006.

Under current GM Walt Jocketty, Miller assisted in several areas — including arbitration cases, contract negotiations and the intricate details of Major League rules and procedures.

The Reds have not named a successor to Miller.

Thanks, and keep on reading

Obviously this wasn’t a 2014 Reds season that thrilled many of you, or probably any of you, who come to this blog for information, commentary, etc. Regardless, you still frequented this blog often, occasionally or once. And for that, I offer my sincere gratitude.

Each season, whenever it ends, I’m fortunate to have a forum to publicly thank the people who get their Reds news from me — whether it’s on this blog, my Twitter feed or where my main outlet of content resides on MLB.com/Reds.com. I take the responsibility of covering this team seriously and hope that it comes across in my work.

I do expect this to be an interesting off-season for the Reds but can offer you no predictions of exactly what they might do. Clearly, getting more middle-of-the-order offense should be the No. 1 priority and they could use some bench and front-end of the bullpen help.

Whatever the club decides to do — or not do — I will have it covered for you. Please keep stopping by as I continue my efforts to earn your trust and readership.

Once again, thank you all.

Game 162: Pirates at Reds

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More banged up Reds

The Reds are in some ways, literally, limping to the finish with several player injured and either limited or completely unavailable.

“Never have I seen a team with so few options in September as we have right now. It’s something to see,” manager Bryan Price said on Saturday morning.

*Billy Hamilton remains out with a mild concussion. While feeling better, he still has symptoms.

“Right now, it seems somewhat unlikely that he’ll be able to play this weekend,” Price said.

*Devin Mesoraco is back in the lineup. He missed the last two games with a left intercostal (rib) strain.

“He could have hit,” Price said. “He was on deck [Friday] if Barnhart or Cozart would have gotten on. He could have given us an at-bat yesterday. It was really receiving that was more of the challenge. I wanted to give him the one more day to make sure, because I want him today and I want him tomorrow to catch. I want him to catch Johnny [Cueto].”

*Brayan Pena is limited because of an undisclosed injury. When asked, Price would not reveal what Pena was dealing with.

“He’s more of an emergency option right now behind the plate,” Price said. “I’ll tell you after tomorrow’s game. He’s a little banged up. He might have to still end up getting back there. Like a lot of guys, he has some physical maladies here at the end of the year that are making what they do a little more challenging. I have to pick my ways on how to use them.”

*Via the teams’ media relations departments, Price reached out through channels to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to explain why many of his regulars weren’t playing vs. the Pirates — including closer Aroldis Chapman, who also couldn’t pitch Friday with a stiff shoulder. St. Louis is trying to hold off Pittsburgh for the NL Central title.

“I felt it was fair that they understood that. We’re not going ‘hey we’re taking a look at our younger guys’. There are guys that cannot play or will not play or are limited in their ability,” Price said. “That was just three players. There are others on there that can’t play but I wasn’t going to announce to Major League Baseball who is an active player on our roster and who isn’t. I felt like it was the right thing to do simply because I think we’ve really honored this September. We utilized the Baltimore and Chicago series to play more of the younger guys. In the other series, I feel like we’ve played it as straight-up as we possibly can and tried to put the best team on the field based on the matchups and based on who was healthy enough to play. I did want them to know that we’re not trying to just play out the season and take a look at our younger players. We’re trying to put the best team on the field with what we have to choose from.”

“I value the relationships I have with the other managers. As a first-year manager, I don’t want these guys to think I don’t have any understanding of the teams that are in a playoff chase are going through.”

Matheny appreciated Price’s gesture.

“That was a professional move and I’d hope I’d do the same thing,” Matheny told St. Louis reporters on Friday night. “They have to take care of their guys and do what they have to do.”

As for missing so many players all season, Price was asked if he ever thought about what his team could have done if it had only an average number of injuries.

“I don’t,” Price replied. “I played for Rich Morales, who was my Double-A manager with the Mariners. One time in a meeting, he said to our farm director – Jim Beattie … he said ‘Jim, you deal the cards and I’ll play ‘em.’ What I got out of that was whoever I have, give me whoever you want and I will play that hand. I’m not going to complain about it. It is what it is and we’ll manager whoever I have on my roster. I always admired Rich a great deal and appreciated it. We can all complain about it but it doesn’t make you any better.”

Game 161: Pirates at Reds

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Multi-year contract for Jocketty

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty agreed to an extension to remain to the club.

“Yeah, it’s done. It’s multi-year,” Jocketty said on Friday. “I’ve got a great relationship with Bob [Castellini, the Reds CEO]. In my position, there are two things that are important. You have to have a great relationship with your owner and you have to have a great relationship with your manager. I have that here with both those guys.

“I’m fully committed to trying to get this team back into the postseason because I think we’re good enough to do that with a little bit of help here. I think our ownership certainly deserves it and our fans deserve it.”

First-year Reds manager Bryan Price, who has two years remaining on his contract, received a full endorsement as well after what’s been a disappointing season for Cincinnati. Jocketty voiced his satisfaction with Price’s work.

“Absolutely,” Jocketty said. “I feel bad for him – the things he had to overcome this year, the injuries and bringing in a new staff and new ideas. I thought he did an excellent job. I know the players feel that way.”

When asked about the future of the coaching staff, Jocketty declined comment.

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