In a few days, we will have more tangible Reds topics to discuss because there will be dozens of actual Reds to talk about topics with directly at Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Friday and of course, I will be there.
Naturally with a miserable winter it’s been in Cincinnati, the thoughts of just being warm again supersede almost everything else. One look at the five-day forecast is exciting enough, and there will be baseball too. I’m actually stunned it will be in the high 80s and even touch 90 on Friday. In past years, it’s started off much cooler (50s and 60s) before zooming into the 80s and 90s closer to the end of camp.
*A few days after I get to Goodyear, I hope to update my annual Spring Training dining guide with a few new entries and the removal of some old ones. I’ve gotten good feedback each year from doing it and I hope it’s useful for those who make the trip. I know Florida was the preferred destination for many Reds fans, but has anybody given thought of heading out to Arizona? From year one out there in 2010, I’ve been a huge fan of Spring Training in the Cactus League. I believe if others try it out, they will see what I see.
*My 2014 Spring Training preview is on Reds.com. It provides a quick primer on the team and issues. The reporters for all 30 clubs have previews up as well. Be sure to check them out.
*Jamie Ramsey is an early arrival to Reds camp and he has already posted numerous pictures on his blog.
*In another good piece, Anthony Castrovince tackles the use of advanced stats in baseball, namely in regard to how Joey Votto is evaluated.
Numerous media reports from Jerry Crasnick to Ken Rosenthal and MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert are reporting late Friday afternoon that free agent Bronson Arroyo finally has a new team — the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s a two-year, $23.5 million contract with a club option for 2016.
Arroyo probably didn’t get the dollars he was hoping when he began this process but he at least got the two years at what appears to be market value. By comparison, the Giants signed free agent Tim Hudson (age 38) to a two-year, $23 million deal in November.
Despite some talks here and there, the Reds never expressed serious interest in retaining Arroyo after eight mostly solid seasons. The lack of interest on their part was never about the body of work or the person, it was all dollars and cents. The club didn’t want to give him a multi-year deal, even to a 200-inning consistent and never injured workhorse like Arroyo mostly because he is a pitcher who will soon be 37. Not when they have young talent like Tony Cingrani ready to go, more young arms like Robert Stephenson just around the corner and other veterans like Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto who will need contracts before escaping as free agents.
Arroyo was easily one of the most accessible players I’ve ever covered and it was certainly appreciated. After a good game or a bad one, he is always available. He always speaks with candor, is very smart about the game and gets the big picture. He was also fun to watch pitch, especially when he had his good stuff.
Best of luck to him in Arizona.
Fox Sports Ohio announced today that it will carry one Reds exhibition game — March 24 vs. the Indians at 4 p.m. ET from Goodyear Ballpark. Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh will be calling it.
This isn’t the first time that FS Ohio has done a lower number of games. By comparison, SportsTime Ohio is carrying eight Indians games this spring.
What FS Ohio is doing — will be a nightly Reds Spring Training show called “Reds Live — Spring Training 2014,” a 30-minute show every weeknight at 10pm ET starting Monday, March 3. Jim Day and Chris Welsh will host from Goodyear with appearances by Jeff Brantley, Jim Kelch, Thom Brennaman and others.
I asked Kate Zalasko, the spokesperson from FS Ohio, why there is only the one game on TV and she pointed out that the network is doing the nightly show instead, as its done the past couple of seasons. The Indians will have more games but no nightly wrap-up show.
I’m sure other Reds games will be televised on MLB Network — but there is currently no schedule, yet.
Eight days from now, Reds pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz. As in past years, there will be a plethora of stories, news items and features flowing from the clubhouse, practice fields and ballparks over the 45 or so days that follow.
I have a general game plan going in each year and get more specific with my planning once I get there. Sometimes, the timing of stories depends simply on who is at their locker on a given day and who isn’t. Some days, I have a feature planned out and will work on it for a few days until it’s ready. Some days, I call an audible and come up with something on the fly. Some days, a specific story has been assigned to me and I get it done. Some days, I just punt and do the best I can. And some days, there is breaking news like a signing, a trade, an injury, etc. that trumps all previous plans or story ideas.
No matter what happens in Reds camp, I hope to have it covered for you on MLB.com/Reds.com, this blog, Twitter, etc.
Yet another snow storm (aka “The White Death”) is approaching Greater Cincinnati. That means more school closings, messy roads, cabin fever and plenty of TV news live shots from salt piles and icy highways. The playbook hasn’t changed much since I worked at a TV news assignment desk. Every snow storm, we sent reporters to the salt pile, highways and groceries for “stocking up on supplies.” Thankfully, those days are behind me.
In a few days, winter will be behind me as well. I just returned from GABP where clubhouse manager Rick Stowe had the team’s equipment truck loaded for Goodyear, Ariz. The truck leaves Thursday and it will take three days to reach its destination. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14 and I will be there. Click here for my story on the truck load on Reds.com/MLB.com.
*Because of tonight’s expected snow storm, the Reds announced that the Hot Stove show will be held in-studio instead of at the Holy Grail on the Banks.
*Evening baseball and softball clinics at the Reds Urban Youth Academy are canceled because of the approaching weather.
*Everybody stay safe if you have to go out tonight or Wednesday.
*Anthony Castrovince ranked MLB’s top 10 rotations. The Reds made the cut, as they should have.
*You may remember reliever Nick Masset, who had the misfortune of shoulder injuries keep him out for the past two seasons. This week, Masset signed a Minor League deal with the Rockies. Hopefully he can get his career back on track.
*MLB.com Angels beat writer Alden Gonzalez is doing an overview of all six divisions in baseball on his blog. That included his look at the NL Central.
*Over on Fangraphs.com, Dave Cameron takes a look at the free agent class of starting pitchers for next winter. That group, of course, includes Homer Bailey.
*On The Hardball Times, a really good accounting about what the life of a baseball beat writer can be like. Trent Rosecrans from the Enquirer was one of the writers who participated in the well-written piece. I can relate to much of it — both the good and bad. Even as I enter season No. 14 as a beat writer (No. 9 covering the Reds), I am very grateful to have this job and still very much enjoy it.
The Reds made another late off-season free agent addition Friday when outfielder Roger Bernadina was signed to a Minor League contract and invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.
Bernadina, 29, split the 2013 season with the Nationals and Phillies and batted .181 in 112 games. Washington released him on August 19 and he was picked up by Philadelphia two days later.
The decline in production came after a strong 2012 season for the Nationals, where Bernadina batted .291/.372/.405 in 129 games with five home runs, 25 RBIs and 15 steals.
After they were rebuffed last week by Grady Sizemore, it appears that Bernadina will be the protection behind Billy Hamilton in camp.
**UPDATE: If Bernadina makes the Reds out of camp, he will earn a $1 million salary in 2014. The deal does not come with incentives but contains out clauses on March 18, March 28 and July 1 if he has not been added to the 25-man roster. Click here for the full story on MLB.com
*The Reds now have 59 players in big league camp for Spring Training.
*Got some uniform numbers for the recently signed players.
15 Roger Bernadina
27 Chris Nelson
7 Ramon Santiago
*Here is the full list of non-roster players at Reds camp.
The following Reds players are out of Minor League options heading into Spring Training:
RHP Homer Bailey
IF Jack Hannahan
OF Ryan Ludwick
LHP Manny Parra
C Brayan Pena
2B Brandon Phillips
IF/OF Skip Schumaker
RHP Alfredo Simon
I don’t think there are major issues here in terms of roster battles. I’d expect everyone on this list to make the 25-man roster out of camp.
My esteemed colleague, MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince, wrote a piece that highlighted the various merits of moving Reds first baseman Joey Votto from third to second in the lineup. (Click here to read it)
This is not a new debate and it was one that waged, especially on social media, all of last season. Anthony had some very good reasons to back up his assertion — namely that instead of forcing Votto to change his approach, embrace his patient and disciplined way. Moving him up to get more plate appearances over the course of a season for the team’s best hitter.
In the abstract, I think it makes sense. On this particular Reds club at this particular time, I’m not so sure it works — yet. Whoever hits behind Votto in the three-hole would need to be someone not prone to prolonged slumps, that doesn’t strike out a ton, who can hit for power, while also avoiding hitting into double plays. I also think that while Votto hit for less power last season than a No. 3 hitter might normally have, that his power hasn’t left him for good. He is still very capable of driving the ball and as more time has passed from his 2012 knee surgeries, he should even more confidence in his legs to drive the ball. Also, wouldn’t Votto be walked more batting second if Billy Hamilton is leading off and constantly stealing second base ahead of him?
My thinking on this “issue” keeps evolving in different directions. Depending on the scenarios and opponent, experimenting with the lineup and putting Votto second with Brandon Phillips third and Jay Bruce or Ryan Ludwick fourth wouldn’t be the end of the world. If Votto continues to bat third, it also wouldn’t be horrible and certainly not worth anyone’s wrath on Twitter.
Ultimately, the decision will come down to where Votto is most comfortable hitting, what works best for him to be the most successful.
The Reds, seeking infield help with experience at shortstop, signed veteran Ramon Santiago to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league camp at Spring Training — a source confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the deal.
If Santiago makes the club, he can earn $1.1 million in salary for 2014.
Santiago, 34, is a 12-season veteran of the Tigers and Mariners. Last season for Detroit, the switch hitter batted .224/.288/.298 in 80 games. He can play shortstop, second base and third base.
UPDATE — the Reds confirmed the deal is done.
UPDATE No. 2: Santiago has some incentive clauses in his contract: $50,000 for 300 plate appearances, $100,000 for 400 PA and $150,000 for 500 PA. He also has an out clause by March 28 if he does not make the big league club at camp.
Click here to read the story on MLB.com, with comments from GM Walt Jocketty.
Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM Tuesday talking with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on the subject of the consideration for banning home plate collisions. Mesoraco, who suffered a concussion in 2012 from a collision, felt it made sense that issue was examined. But he also seemed to want common sense implemented as well.
“I’m kind of against an automatic slide rule just I know as a catcher, me being a bigger guy, I can take away the whole home plate and the guy is pretty much automatically out,” Mesoraco said. “That isn’t fair to the runner. I don’t know what the perfect way to finish the rule is but I’m sure they will take it into consideration and write it up where it makes the most sense.”
Click here to listen to some of Mesoraco’s interview. Note that his call dropped out briefly and returned.
An MLB rules committee voted in December to outlaw home plate collisions, which effectively would force runners to slide into the plate to avoid being tagged out. Final implementation of the rule must be written and approved by the league, the players association and umpire’s union.