With the World Series over, the Hot Stove season has really started. Players eligible to be free agents are automatically on the market now — there is no need to file as part of the previous rules.
Here is the list of Reds free agents:
OF Shin-Soo Choo; RHP Bronson Arroyo; LHP Zach Duke; INF Cesar Izturis; LHP Manny Parra; RHP Nick Masset.
Click here for my Reds off-season outlook. The Reds will make an attempt to re-sign Choo, but the odds of success are long.
And on MLB.com, Doug Miller provides a league-wide primer for this winter’s free agent class. Click here to read that piece.
While many established Major Leaguers have found that just right spot on their sofas, or shaved a few strokes from their golf score, some of those trying to become established in the future will continue to hone their baseball skills in the offseason.
That often means winter ball in Latin America. Reds outfield prospect Donald Lutz, who spent several weeks in the big leagues this past season, is about to start playing again.
Off to Mexico to get some ab's and get ready for #2014 leggooooo
— Donald Lutz (@braunerhulk) October 29, 2013
In 34 games with the Reds, Lutz batted .241 with one homer and eight RBIs. In 59 plate appearances, he had one walk and 14 strikeouts. After a hot start, he struggled at the plate and was limited to mostly pinch-hitting near the end of his tenure in June.
Also — it looks like top prospect and OF Billy Hamilton is playing for Santurce in Puerto Rico this winter. The team’s Facebook page has his photo. Click here to see.
UPDATE: Reds OF Derrick Robinson is also playing in Puerto Rico for Santurce. Their season begins on Nov. 2.
Others playing winter ball:
INF Henry Rodriguez is in Venezuela with Aguilas and 5-for-22 (.227).
OF Denis Phipps is 0-for-10 playing for Estrellas in the Dominican Republic.
RHP Pedro Villarreal, also in Venezuela, has a 3.65 ERA in three starts with 10 hits, nine walks and nine strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings for the Tiburones.
UPDATE: I was being a little facetious at the top. A lot of established players actually work out year round and start hitting early. But this is still downtime for many.
For the fourth time in his career, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was recognized as the best defensively at his position when he was voted as a Rawlings National League Gold Glove Award winner.
The results from the voting last month by Major League managers and coaches were revealed on Tuesday night.
Phillips previously won Gold Gloves in 2008, 2010 and 2011. This year, he was a finalist along with the Cubs’ Darwin Barney and the Dodgers’ Mark Ellis. Barney won the award last year.
I will have more soon on Reds.com/MLB.com. Through the Reds, Phillips commented on his win via a statement:
“Wow, hard work pays off. It’s an honor to have the NL managers and coaches select me to join this elite group of the league’s best defenders. If it weren’t for my Reds coaches, staff and teammates, especially Zack Cozart, for sticking with me even though I wasn’t 100 percent toward the end of the season, this wouldn’t have happened,” Phillips said. “I take pride in my defense and try to go out there to make the pitching staff feel comfortable while they’re on the mound. I like being the pitcher’s best friend. People overlook defense these days. Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. My family and I are happy to win this award again, and this one belongs to my city, Cincinnati.”
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce was also a Gold Glove finalist for the third time in his career but missed out again. D-backs right fielder Gerardo Parra took the hardware.
Click here for the complete list of winners.
This 2013 World Series is “some weird, wild stuff” as Dana Carvey imitating Johnny Carson might say. (I realize I may have dated myself big time there). Two never before seen endings to games the last two nights add to why I love watching and covering baseball. You just never know what you’re in for when you get to the ballpark.
Obviously, I’m not covering this series but I have unearthed some yet-to-be seen images about the game.
Here is ex-Red Jonny Gomes stepping into the box during the sixth inning just before his big three-run home run in Game 4.
And here is the final pickoff play at first base. Kolten Wong is played by Spiderman; Mike Napoli is played by Buzz Lightyear and 1B umpire Bill Miller is played by the Green Lantern.
Rawlings released its finalists for the AL and NL Gold Glove Awards on Friday. Each position had three finalists per league. The Reds had two finalists in right fielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Brandon Phillips. Last year, Cincinnati had six finalists. Ballots went out in September and voting was done by Major League managers and coaches.
The voting was slightly altered this year. The managers and coaches got an assist this year from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). For the first time, Rawlings collaborated with SABR to formally incorporate sabermetrics as a component of the Gold Glove Award.
A committee of experts in baseball analytics and defensive measurement devised the SABR Defensive Index (SDI), which draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball, location-based data, and those collected by from play-by-play accounts.
Click here for my story on Bruce and Phillips.
Click here for the national story on MLB.com.
P: Corbin (ARZ), Greinke (LAD), Wainwright (STL)
1B: Goldschmidt (ARZ), Gonzalez (LAD), Rizzo (CHC)
2B: Barney (CHC), Ellis (LAD), Phillips (CIN)
3B: Arenado (COL), Uribe (LAD), Wright (NYM)
SS: Desmond (WAS), Tulowitski (COL), Simmons (ATL)
C: Ellis (LAD), Martin (PIT), Molina (STL)
LF: Gonzalez (COL), Marte (PIT), Young (NYM)
CF: Gomez (MIL), McCutchen (PIT), Span (WAS)
RF: Bruce (CIN), Heyward (ATL), Parra (ARZ)
P: Buehrle (TOR), Dickey (TOR), Fister (DET)
1B: Davis (BAL), Hosmer (KC), Loney (TB)
2B: Cano (NYY), Pedroia (BOS), Zobrist (TB)
3B: Beltre (TEX), Longoria (TB), Machado (BAL)
SS: A Escobar (KC), Y Escobar (TB), Hardy (BAL)
C: Mauer (MIN), Perez (KC), Wieters (BAL)
LF: Cespedes (OAK), Dirks (DET), Gordon (KC)
CF: Cain (KC), Esllbury (BOS), Jones (BAL)
RF: Markakis (BAL), Reddick (OAK), Victorino (BOS)
Based solely on the advanced statistic numbers both Bruce and Phillips would not likely win the award this year. But the voting is often more subjective and based on what the managers and coaches see with their own eyes and hear based on reputation. That could possibly help Bruce, who has gained in reputation as an excellent right field each year. In traditional stats, Bruce and Parra each had three errors but Parra trumped Bruce in advanced stats like ultimate zone rating (UZR) and defensive runs saved (DRS).
If there was one surprise (while understanding it’s a subjective process), it was that Todd Frazier wasn’t a finalist. Frazier had a very good year defensively, especially in his first full year at third base. Frazier was third in the NL with a 9.7 UZR and third with a DRS of 5 behind Arenado and Uribe. Meanwhile, Wright missed a lot of time this year with an injury.
A few things on Bryan Price didn’t make the main stories we have on MLB.com. One of the questions that came up is whether Price will embrace advanced statistics or go by the “old school” book in making his decisions and strategy.
“I’ve had a chance to watch a lot of good managers,” Price replied. “You have to use statistical analysis to understand certain themes and certain percentages and certain matchups. That’s definitely a growing part of the game. In the same respect, you have to understand the ability of your team and the guys that you’re using in those situations. What are we asking somebody to do? Is it something they can do well or are we just going to play the numbers game of whether to bunt or take or matchup pitching, etc. I will say this: of all the things I didn’t like doing a great dealing was when we had a lot of situational pitchers, matchup guys. I never really enjoyed the matchup game with relief pitchers.”
On what type of manager he might be… Price noted he worked under managers like Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Mike Hargrove and Bob Melvin.
“I’ve learned a lot from Dusty,” Price said. “I’ve been around a lot of great people in baseball for 30 years. What I feel any manager is or any coach is going to be a compilation of people that they’ve had in their lives. …
“This is going to be a compilation. There are a lot of things that I took from my four years of being with Dusty. I’ll definitely utilize that as well as the other people I’ve been around.”
Price on the team that he has inherited and being accountable:
“Where we are is a very talented group. I think a team that’s capable of doing even more. We should talk very optimistically about the three playoff appearances in the last four years. It’s been somewhat discredited because we haven’t gotten beyond the first round. Considering where we were the 15 years prior, it’s definitely a step in the right direction but we all have expectations of getting beyond that.”
“A lot of things in the game are black and white – preparation, effort and energy are things we need to bring to the field every day. And we’ve got to be able to pull and pull for each other and hold each other accountable to take this talent to the very next level. I think we’re capable of doing that.”
After the Bryan Price press conference, I asked Reds general manager Walt Jocketty about the trade rumors regarding Brandon Phillips that have circulated of late. Jocketty was certainly aware they were floating around, as was Phillips.
“He texted wanting to know if we were trading him. I told him that I have not spoken to anybody about that,” Jocketty said Tuesday. “I’m not talking to any clubs about him.”
However, Jocketty would not go so far as to guarantee that Phillips would be with the Reds at Spring Training 2014.
“I’m not saying that,” Jocketty said. “We’ve got some things we’ve got to look at on how we’re going to improve our club. I’m not going to say nobody is untouchable. Obviously, we want to keep as much of this club intact as we can.”
Trading Phillips would be a tall order, namely because he is owed $50 million over the last four years of his contract. That could leave a limited circle of suitors, especially to make a trade that would improve the Reds as they try to go further in the playoffs than in recent years.
The off-the-field controversies involving Phillips this summer when he criticized the front office’s handling of his contract to Cincinnati Magazine and a verbal attack of a reporter caught on camera are not expected to enter in the equation if a deal is made. Jocketty said any potential deal involving Phillips would be a baseball decision that’s best for the club.
“Absolutely,” Jocketty affirmed.
The Reds made it official and formally announced that Bryan Price is their new manager, the 61st in team history. A press conference to introduce Price is set for 3 p.m. ET at Great American Ball Park. I will be there, of course, and we’ll have full coverage on MLB.com and Reds.com.
Price, 51, was given a three-year contract through the 2016 season. Click here for the MLB.com story.
Here are some quotes from the Reds press release:
“I have spent a lot of time with Bryan since the season ended, and I was convinced after the first meeting he is the right person to help us move this organization forward,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We’ve all seen his work here with our pitching staff. He has proven himself to be an excellent communicator and leader and clearly is one of the most respected people not only in our clubhouse but in baseball in general.”
Reds CEO Bob Castellini said: “I am impressed with Bryan as a pitching coach, leader and person. We’re very confident he’ll take the helm as manager of the entire team and lead us in the right direction.”
Multiple reports have surfaced Monday night that pitching coach Bryan Price will be formally promoted to Reds manager on Tuesday. Click here for the story on MLB.com.
Some of the questions I got during the last couple of weeks when Price became a candidate to replace Dusty Baker as manager were what kind of manager might he be and would he hold players accountable.
On Sept. 24, we ran a story I wrote on Price and assistant pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The subject of accountability came up.
A quote from Homer Bailey:
“One thing I can say about them that’s helped not just the starting rotation but the bullpen is the fact that we are held accountable,” Bailey said. “We demand certain things out of everyone here, whether you’re the No. 1 starter on the team or the mop-up guy — it doesn’t matter. Our expectations are held so high. Some things are just unacceptable. Our starters are expected to go seven innings. We are expected to keep our team in the game. We are expected to put up quality starts.”
And here is a quote in that story from Price himself about how things changed after he became pitching coach for the Reds:
“This team hadn’t been in the playoffs for 15 years,” Price said. “There was room for improvement and room for change. I think for a guy like me, with 16 years of player-development experience as a player and coach, one thing you get when you’re in the Minor Leagues is the importance of fundamentals and accountability. I don’t have any idea what it was like here before, and I don’t imagine it was that much different. I do know that if somebody does something they shouldn’t do, we’ll call them out on it. Don’t cover first base or don’t hold runners close, don’t back up bases — when they come back into the dugout, they’re going to hear about it.”
With Monday’s news that Jim Leyland stepped down as manager of the Tigers, it created a fifth managerial opening in the Major Leagues.
Does this news affect the Reds very much? Probably not, unless Detroit is interested in Bryan Price or Jim Riggleman. But suddenly there is a new top spot in terms of open jobs. The Tigers are a big-market, big-pocketed team that has won the American League Central each of the last three seasons and reached at least the AL Championship Series all three times. The Tigers went to the World Series in 2006 and 2012. They have Miguel Cabrera powering the lineup and that great rotation, aced by Justin Verlander.
Here’s how I would rank the managerial openings:
Washington goes ahead of Cincinnati because it’s a big-market, deep-talented team that if it makes wise decisions, can stay competitive longer and spend its way out of issues. The Reds have the talented, ready-to-win-now roster but it’s unlikely that a big Trade Deadline move will be made each summer nor will there usually be a giant free agent splash made each winter. Sure, the Mariners have been a mess and I know the Cubs are planning big renovations at Wrigley Field to make them more competitive in the long run — but no manager has seemed to be able to make it work in the North Side of Chicago long term and I’m not sure there is anyone out there who can satisfy the demands and limitations of that job.
I’m sure my list is open for debate, so have at it.