Towers, Schugel officially added

The Reds formally announced the additions of Kevin Towers and Jeff Schugel to the baseball operations department on Tuesday. Towers will be special assistant to the general manager in charge of player personnel while Schugel will be a special assistant/pro scout.

Towers, 53, was the D-backs GM for the past four seasons and the Padres GM from 1996-2009. He’s also a good friend of Reds GM Walt Jocketty. Towers had been connected to the Reds in a couple of weeks and was with the club in an unofficial capacity during the recent GM meetings.

MLB.com reported the hiring of Schugel a couple of weeks ago. The 53-year-old spent last season as a special assistant to former Braves GM Frank Wren and has 31 years in baseball overall.

Also — Reds VP of baseball operations Dick Williams is now the vice president and assistant general manager for the club.

Full story, and other front office moves are on the MLB.com:

http://m.reds.mlb.com/news/article/102417656/reds-add-kevin-towers-jeff-schugel-as-special-assistants-to-gm

Listen? Maybe. Trade? No.

I’m late to the party on this after a week of vacation but I certainly read the reports that the Reds were “listening” to trade offers for Jay Bruce and others last week. I have the highest respect for Ken Rosenthal and his reporting but I also don’t expect Bruce to go anywhere.

The problem with Hot Stove rumors about teams “listening” about deals or “kicking the tires” on another player or the “mystery team” being interested is you have to wonder what the motivation is of the sources. A team could be trying to get a right fielder from a different team and not like the trade offers. Suddenly, if Bruce is hypothetically on the market — maybe that could make the other dealable player less coveted.

As for listening, I could go to the Apple Store and ask them to listen to my offer of paying $50 for a brand new iPhone 6 and maybe they will. But they obviously won’t be taking it seriously. General manager Walt Jocketty wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at least listen and judge the landscape from which he is working.

But trading Bruce now is selling low on a player who had a horrible one season and the return on the trade would reflect it. It wouldn’t help the team enough, if it wants to win in 2015. Based on his track record of offense (and defense), I’m willing to give Bruce the benefit of the doubt that 2015 will be better and closer to the average of around 30 homers and 100 RBIs from 2011-13. He will also be only 28 come next Opening Day. And considering that he’s owed $12 million in 2015 and $12.5 million in 2016, he’s here at relatively reasonable price for the offense he provides. Trading him doesn’t address the primary issue of adding offensive punch because there would be few if any choices on the open market that does what Bruce does for that price.

In the bigger picture, if the Reds were to trade Bruce, or Johnny Cueto — it would signal to me that the firesale is here. Because if they’re going to dump them, they may as well prune other contracts out like the others of the starting rotation and Aroldis Chapman and wait for the prospects to come in 2016 and ’17. It would certainly be a painful route to take, especially in what should be a very competitive NL Central. But I really doubt that Bob Castellini would sign off on that and I don’t think Jocketty would have signed a new two-year deal if it meant dumping players and starting a rebuild where he might not be around to see the payoff years down the road.

I never rule anything out in this game and business, but I think the Reds think they can keep the band together for 2015 and make one giant push to go for the division crown again. If things go awry like this year, they can always have said firesale before July 31.

What do you think?

2015 HOF ballot out

The BBWAA 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is out for eligible voters. Obviously some big names are on the list but only a few with Reds ties (in bold):

The ballot: Rich Aurilia, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Roger Clemens, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Troy Percival, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, John Smoltz, Sammy Sosa, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker.

Hot Stove chat for the week

I’m taking a few days off and won’t be updating a anything here or on Twitter. There will be some fresh stories appearing on Reds.com this week and any breaking news will be covered.

In the meantime, feel free to use the comments section to fire up your own personal Hot Stove discussions. Thanks…

Cueto 2nd for NL Cy Young

In voting results announced Wednesday by Baseball Writers Association of America, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was the unanimous choice for the National League Cy Young Award. It was Kershaw’s second-straight win and the third for his career. Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto finished in second place.

While Kershaw received first-place votes on all 30 ballots for 210 points. Cueto received 23 second-place votes and six third-place votes and one fourth-place vote for 112 points. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright was third after he received seven second-place votes and 23 third-place votes for 97 points.

Cueto, 28, was 20-9 with 2.25 ERA while finishing first in innings (243 2/3), starts (34) and tied for first in strikeouts (242). Along with Wainwright, he was tied for second in wins behind Kershaw, was alone for second to the Dodgers lefty in ERA and WHIP (0.96) and tied for third with four complete games. Cueto was the Major League leader with a .194 opponents’ batting average while Kershaw was second at .196.

For the voting breakdown, click here.

More to come on MLB.com.

Hamilton 2nd in NL ROY

Billy Hamilton came in second for National League Rookie of the Year. Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is the winner.

deGrom received 25 first place votes and four second-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America for 142 points in a 5-3-1 scoring system.

Hamilton received four first place votes, 23 second-place votes and one third-place vote for 92 points.

Kolten Wong received three second-place votes and 11 third-place votes for 14 points.

In 152 games, Hamilton batted .250/.292/.355 with six home runs, 48 RBIs, 141 hits, 72 runs and 56 stolen bases. He led all NL rookies in runs, hits, steals, RBIs, doubles, extra-base hits and total bases. He led all NL center fielders with 10 outfield assists and a .994 fielding percentage.

Where Hamilton likely lost votes was his second half slide at the plate. He was a .200 hitter with a .254 on-base percentage and 25 runs scored after the All-Star break.

More to come on MLB.com/Reds.com.

Riggleman named 3B coach

The Reds promoted Jim Riggleman to third base coach on the Major League team from his previous post as manager of Triple-A Louisville, it was announced on Monday.

Riggleman, 62, will be the only new addition to manager Bryan Price’s coaching staff. He replaced Steve Smith, who was not retained after one season with Cincinnati.

A former Major League manager with the Nationals (2009-11), Mariners (2008), Cubs (1995-99) and Padres (1992-94), Riggleman joined the Reds organization in 2012. He spent one season managing at Double-A Pensacola and the last two seasons at Louisville.

This will be Riggleman’s first full-time on-field job in the Majors since resigned from managing the Nationals in June, 2011 because of a contract dispute. He has been in uniform for the Reds in some September games the past two seasons as an extra coach after rosters expanded.

**UPDATE: I talked to Riggleman about his new job. Read the story by clicking here:

http://m.reds.mlb.com/news/article/101040304/reds-name-jim-riggleman-third-base-coach

GM meetings this week

The annual general managers meetings get underway in Phoenix this week and although I will not be on the ground in Arizona, we will have several MLB.com reporters on the scene. The GM meetings are often a precursor for the Reds and Walt Jocketty to make deals. In the past, he’s commenced talks with a club or agent that have ultimately culminated in a transaction.

MLB.com’s Richard Justice focused on the Reds offseason issues in his piece and the big decisions that Jocketty is facing.

Click to read it here:

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/100960352/richard-justice-gm-meetings-an-opportunity-to-lay-groundwork

*Also, tonight at 6 p.m. ET — is the announcement on MLB.com of the first BBWAA awards winners — AL and NL Rookie of the Year. Of course, Billy Hamilton is a NL finalist. Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom seems to be the odds-on favorite but we’ll know for sure soon enough.

Elmore claimed by Pirates

The Jake Elmore era was brief for the Reds. Elmore, who was part of some procedural moves this week that outrighted off the Reds 40-man roster only to be put back on, was claimed off of waivers on Friday by the Pirates.

It puts the Reds’ 40-man roster at 38 players for the moment.

A September call-up, Elmore was 2-for-11 in five games for the Reds. He spent most of the year at Triple-A, batting a combined .281 (75-for-267) at Louisville and Sacramento.

The Reds had claimed the 27-year-old off of waivers from the A’s on Aug. 2.

No Silver Sluggers for Reds

The latest accolades for 2014 achievement were presented on Thursday when Louisville Slugger announced its 2014 Silver Slugger Awards. No Reds were winners this year. I thought catcher Devin Mesoraco or third baseman Todd Frazier might have the best chance at one.

Were they shortchanged? Below are the numbers.

The Giants’ Buster Posey won the NL catcher Silver Slugger.

Posey: .311/.364/.490, 22 HR, 89 RBIs, 143 OPS+, 144 wRC+ in 147 games and 605 PA.
Mesoraco: .273/.359/.534, 25 HR, 80 RBIs, 149 OPS+,147 wRC+ in 114 games and 440 PA.

Anthony Rendon of the Nationals won the Silver Slugger for NL third basemen

Rendon: .287/.351/.473, 21 HR, 83 RBIs, 125 OPS+, 130 wRC+ in 153 games and 613 PA.
Frazier: .273/.336/.459, 29 HR, 80 RBIs, 123 OPS+, 122 wRC+ in 157 games and 660 PA.

Unlike the Gold Gloves and BBWAA awards, no finalists were named for the Silver Sluggers, so there are no voting results or sense of the consideration Frazier or Mesoraco might have received. Votes are cast by Major League coaches and managers, who consider a combination of offensive stats — including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage — as well as basic impressions of a player’s value at the plate. Those who cast a ballot may not vote for players on their own team.

I do wonder if Mesoraco’s two stints on the disabled list hurt his chances even if his injury-shortened season numbers were about as good as Posey’s. As for Frazier, he played 43 games at first base this season with Joey Votto out. It prevented him from racking up his numbers solely at third base. Again, I wonder how that might have hurt his chances at winning the award.

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