Good Monday afternoon…I have a few links and stories for you to keep you plugged in to the Reds and other items.
*Reds bench coach Jay Bell did not land the D-backs manager job to replace Kirk Gibson. A’s bench coach Chip Hale has been formally named. Bell and Hale were among nine candidates interviewed by Arizona. While I’m sure Bell is disappointed, but this is good news for the Reds. Bell was impressive behind the scenes as manager Bryan Price’s bench coach — he seemed very organized, easy to relate with, good with the media and a guy who knows the game very well. I would not be shocked to see his name linked to future managerial openings down the road.
*MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo covered Nick Howard’s first start in the Arizona Fall League. Howard, Cincinnati’s first round Draft pick this year, could have been in the big leagues already as a reliever. But the club likes him as a starting pitcher and are developing him that way for now. If he doesn’t make it as a starter, he can always become a reliever.
*Turning Howard into a starter seems to continue a trend that the Reds have been executing in recent years. Tony Cingrani, Michael Lorenzen and even Cuban free agent Raciel Iglesias were also relievers that the organization has ID’s as potential starting pitchers. Lorenzen had a strong first year in the Minors starting while the jury is still out on Cingrani because of injuries and pitch selection. I would not be shocked to see him in the bullpen next season, especially if the current starting five remains intact come Spring Training.
*I haven’t watched every postseason at-bat and pitch but I’ve seen enough to know it’s been an incredible playoffs to this point. I’ve watched the late innings of every game in the ALDS and NLDS and both have been incredible. Kolten Wong’s homer for a Cardinals win probably saved St. Louis’ season and most certainly — Trevor Rosenthal after a poor showing in the top of the ninth. The Cardinals very well could have been headed to San Francisco trailing by a 2-0 margin. I really wonder if we’re destined for a redux of the 1985 I-70 World Series between the Cardinals and Royals.
*I wondered why Wong’s jersey was off so quickly after he touched home plate. I soon learned why — it was literally ripped off of his back.
*Wong was just one of four homegrown Cardinals to homer in Game 2. Oscar Taveras, Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams also went deep. Homegrown players seem to always come up big in recent years for St. Louis. There have been David Freese in 2011, Michael Wacha last season, Adam Wainwright going back to 2006-present and Carpenter this year as well. The Reds have a lot of homegrown players that helped them get to the postseason in 2010, 2012 and 2013 — like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, etc. Devin Mesoraco has already taken the next step with a breakout season in 2014. The next wave is likely a year or more away from joining the current crew — guys like Jesse Winker, Robert Stephenson, Lorenzen and perhaps Howard.
**Correction: Wainwright was drafted by the Braves originally. Sorry for the mistake.
From my colleague Jonathan Mayo of MLBPipeline.com:
Reds outfield prospect Jesse Winker had his season at Double-A Pensacola cut short because of a right wrist tendon injury after he had really nice start at Class A Bakersfield. In his first Arizona Fall League Game for Surprise on Wednesday, Winker was 2-for-3 with a solo home run, a double, two walks and two RBIs.
Winker is ranked as the Reds organization’s No. 2 prospect by MLBPipeline.
Click here for today’s box score:
When Reds OF/1B Donald Lutz was near the final day of the regular season, he was preparing himself for a quick trip home to Germany to see family and friends. After about a week, he planned to head straight from there to Mexico to play winter ball again for Obregon until around Christmas.
“I need at-bats,” Lutz said.
Indeed he does. This will be a pivotal off-season for Lutz, who will be out of Minor League options when he arrives at Spring Training 2015.
One of the mysteries of the 2014 season, especially near the end, was why more at-bats didn’t come Lutz’s way to get a better idea of what he could do. While he’s been prone to strikeouts, he’s demonstrated some nice left-handed power when he gets a hold of one. He’s also shown, in the Minors at least, that he can often hit well when playing more regularly.
Over three stints with the Reds in the big leagues this season, Lutz got into only 28 games and had 54 plate appearances. He batted .176/.222/.255 with 19 strikeouts. He got only five starts at first base and five in the outfield.
In 23 games at Double-A Pensacola, Lutz batted .360/.412/.685 with six home runs and 16 RBIs.
In 52 games at Triple-A Louisville, Lutz batted .236/.307/.395 with six homers and 33 RBIs. His best month there was in July when he batted .303 (10-for-33).
Last winter, Lutz played for Obregon to get at-bats to make up for lost time after he suffered a broken finger at Pensacola following his first big league stint with the Reds.
Lutz will be 26 in February, which is generally old for a prospect. But he’s only really been playing baseball since he was 16. It will be interesting to see if the Reds think he has a future with them or not next spring.
Four executive chefs from Delaware North-Sportservice that work for teams at Major League ballparks will be competing on the Food Network series, “Chopped.”
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.