About Me

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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Reds Captured By Indians

Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick hit back-to-back singles in the fourth inning. They were the only hits until Max Ramirez doubled in the ninth inning in the Reds 4-0 loss.  Nyjer Morgan made a diving catch of Ramon Santiago's bid for a double, leading off the inning..

Homer Bailey in his first spring start since signing his six-year, $105 million contract extension, walked Lonnie Chisenhall in the second inning, then gave up a home run to Ryan Raburn in his two innings of work.

"This is just a normal spring," said Bailey when asked if the contract put him more at ease. "I was a little off today which is expected.  I walked Chisenhall and missed with two close pitches. During the regular season, I probably would have put them where I wanted to."

Robert Stephenson, the Reds first draft pick in 2011, got his first tasted of major league baseball.  He got two quick outs then walked a batter.  He had trouble after he went into the stretch.  The Indians scored on run on a single and the second run crossed the plate when Juan Duran's throw home from rightfield went into the Reds dugout.

Aroldis Chapman struck out all three batters he faced.

"One thing we know for sure is our guys are ready," Bryan Price said. "We keep tabs on all of our guys and we got a pretty good visual on Chappy."

The Reds pitchers were much better as a group today.

"I like the energy and enthusiasm so far," Price said.

Pete Rose Sights Agent Error For Charging For Interviews

Apparently Pete Rose's agent was out of line and not the line in Las Vegas where people cash in chips to pay Rose to sign memorabilia for them.

Rose's agent told Steve Watkins of the Cincinnati Business Courier that Rose wanted to charger Watkins $500 to interview the "Hit King" about a book that has been written about him.

See Watkins' story from the Courier by clicking below:


Rose called Watkins and gave his thoughts on a book by Kostya Kennedy (yes it is pronounced Cost Ya) titled Pete Rose the American Dilemma.

The American dilemma that Rose found himself in was that between greed and the fourth estate commonly known as the press.

As one wise man once said, "Even the Hit King can't survive a fight with people that buy ink by the barrel."

Now with bits and bytes spanning the globe faster than an Aroldis Chapman fastball, Rose's agent incorrectly pick the wrong battle.  That is Rose's story and he's sticking to it, for now.

Jack Hannahan Quietly Had Surgery

Reserve infielder Jack Hannahan had surgery to repair his right labrum immediately after the season.

Hannahan suffered with his shoulder most of last year in a season in which he hit .216 with one home run and 14 RBI in 139 at bats.

The 34-year old is hitting in the cage while he progresses.

"He had to battle with it the bulk of the year last year," Bryan Price said.  "He is progressing with the shoulder portion of the recovery."

The Pride of McKenzie Tennessee Drew Hayes Could Help Reds.

Drew Hayes appeared in his first game of the spring on Wednesday.

The 26-year old right-handed reliever is on the brink of earning a roster spot, if not out of spring training camp, after the season starts.

"Drew is one good start of the season away from helping us," manager Bryan Price said. "He struggled yesterday to get the ball down.  He has good stuff but didn't have the type of season that he is capable of having."

Hayes tied for the Southern League lead with 51 appearances with a 4-3 record and a 5.43, the highest he's had as a professional by nearly two runs per game.

Hayes is working on a change up and two-seam fastball, to get a little sink on his pitches.  The scoreless inning on Wednesday against Cleveland started out a little rough by his own admission.

Hayes gave up a single to David Adams and walked Erik Gonzalez to start the eighth inning.

"The first couple hitters it was a little rough," Hayes said. "There were a couple mechanical things that made me rush to the plate. Once I was able to slow it down and get under control, things were good."

Hayes got the next three hitters, striking out Carlos Moncrief, getting Jesus Aguilar on a routine fly to center and coaxing a ground ball from Luke Carlin.

"I was fortunate to see him in the Fall League and he threw the ball very well, not just with good velocity but his command," Price said.  "He worked on his change up which will be a big pitch for him to have a three-pitch mix. My expectations is that he will be he will be a lot sharper. He's an intangibles guy too with a good fastball, slider combination and seems to be comfortable in competition."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pedro Beato Adds Depth To Reds Bullpen

Pedro Beato was the first round pick of the Baltimore Orioles out of St. Petersburg College in 2006.  It was the second time that he was chosen in the draft.

Beato grew up in Queens, New York just a subway ride from Shea Stadium and the new Citi Field.

The 27-year old pitched at Brooklyn's Xaverian High School on a team that had six players taken in the draft, including Beato. He was taken by the Mets in the 17th round but didn't sign, electing to improve his lot in St. Petersburg.

"We had a really good team," Beato said.  "Rich Aurilia went there too.  The baseball program there has turned around."

Golden State Warrior and St. John's University star, Chris Mullen, also graduated from Xaverian.

The Mets got him anyway, snatching him from the Orioles in the Rule V draft in December, 2010.

Beato pitched in 60 games in relief for the Mets, forging a 2-1 record with a 4.30 ERA.  He pitched the second most innings by a National League rookie and had the fourth best ERA.  Beato worked 18 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run to start the season.

A stint on the disabled list with tendinitis cost Beato more innings.  Then his shoulder acted up and he missed a significant part of the 2012 season.  The Mets sent Beato to the Red Sox to acquire Kelly Shoppach.  Combined he pitched just 11 innings with one win and a 6.75 ERA.  When the Red Sox signed Ryan Dempster, Beato was outrighted to Pawtucket

Beato spent most of the 2013 season at Pawtucket then filled in admirably for the Red Sox, pitching in 10 games over four stints.  He helped the Red Sox drive to the World Championship with 10 solid innings with a 1-1 record and a 3.60 ERA.  The Red Sox designated him for assignment on October 23, the Reds claimed him.

Beato is 6'6" and weighs 230 pounds.  The Reds hope that he is insurance in case Jonathan Broxton is not ready for the start of the season.

Billy Hamilton Leads Off In The Cactus League

Billy Hamilton takes the first pitch from Trevor Bauer to open the 2014 Cactus League.


What's New With Topps Baseball Cards

David Reel, Vice President of Sales for Topps and Cincinnati local,  made his annual trip to Goodyear to ink the Reds' players to the standard contract for using their likeness on the Topps baseball card.

Each player no matter, what their stature, get the same amount of money.  Daniel Corcino will be paid the same as Homer Bailey or Clayton Kershaw.

Topps Series One is out with 330 cards; an average of 10 players per team.

"Some teams will have more than others," Reel said.
There will be a mid-season edition with another 330 cards for a total of 660 for the season.

"There could be 661, if there is a sensational rookie," Reel said.  "If we get (Masahiro) Tanaka signed, he could be added."

The total does not include special cards such as inserts, parallels, variations, "Relic" and "Autograph" cards which you can find randomly inserted in 2014 Topps Series I Baseball packs.

The special cards are all vintage original Topps cards that Topps bought back and stamped with a special Topps commemorative logo. These now unique cards, the same older edition cards that ended up in so many bicycle spokes, have been placed in this year’s packs at random.

Corky Miller spent the pre-meeting morning opening pack after pack of cards.

One of the cards was a Gus Bell 1959 card that Miller promptly gave to clubhouse manager Rick Stowe.

"I'm going to show it to David and Mike (Bell's grandsons)," Stowe said.  "It is on the wall of my office."

The special vintage card is actually one of thousands of originals that Topps bought back and stamped to make it even more valuable than the original. The Gus Bell card may be the only 1959 Topps Gus Bell card in the whole product. Pretty amazing odds to pull that card in the Reds clubhouse!

Votto 2014 Topps Card
Reel handed me a stack of Reds' cards which included Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton, Aroldis Chapman, Chris Heisey, Alfredo Simon, Johnny Cueto, Donald Lutz, Jonathan Broxton, Jay Bruce, Jack Hannahan and Mike Leake.  Leake's card showed him swinging a bat. There are also two cards for Chapman with different pictures.  Derrick Robinson and Xavier Paul cards are also shown with the players in Reds' uniform.   Paul signed with Baltimore and Robinson is a free agent.

Reel also gave me a pack to open. It contained Wilmer Flores of the Mets, Manny Machado of the Orioles, Ben Revere of the Phillies, Chris Davis in a baseball highlights card, Jhonny Peralta with the Tigers, Hisashi Iwakuma of th Mariners, Rajai Davis of the Blue Jays, Andrew Lambo of the Pirates and Bronson Arroyo in a Reds' uniform.  He has since signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The specialty card was Felix Hernandez 2005 rookie card.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
for proof reading services call

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reds Pound Indians In First Cactus League Game

If Bryan Price knew it would be this easy, he'd have managed a long time ago.

Price won in his managerial debut, Ryan Ludwick and Joey Votto singled home runs, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Cleveland Indians 8-3 on Wednesday.

Price was elevated from pitching coach to manager when the Reds fired Dusty Baker after last season despite their third playoff appearance in four years. Price managed a game for the first time at any level.

Chris Heisey hit a two-run homer and a double in the spring training opener for both Ohio teams. Ludwick has recovered from a shoulder injury that cost him most of last season and limited him after his return.

Billy Hamilton, who stole 13 bases for the Reds last September, drew a walk and stole a base as the Reds leadoff hitter.

The rookie, who thrilled Reds' fans by stealing 13 bases in 14 attempts during the team's stretch run last September, drew a nine-pitch walk against Trevor Bauer. The 23-year old, who is expected to replace Shin-Soo Choo in centerfield for Cincinnati, stole second and continued to third on Yan Gomes wild throw.

 "We just throw them out there and they get to utilize their natural aggressiveness," Price said. "We want guys to take some risks and challenge themselves on the bases. We can see what we need to work on or what guys have more to offer than we've known in the past."

Votto, who drove in just 73 runs last season from the third spot in the batting order, singled home designated hitter Brayan Pena against left-handed reliever T.J House.

 Ryan Raburn doubled and scored for the Indians.

Raburn won a spot on the Indians roster with a hot spring last year.

The Indians started Trevor Bauer, who is trying to earn the fifth starting spot in the Indians rotation. Bauer walked the first two batters in his only inning of work but escaped without allowing a run when Yan Gomes threw Brandon Phillips out stealing as Votto struck out.

 "Gomes helped him out with that throw," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

"I felt comfortable," Bauer said. "I got to work with some guys in scoring position that I would prefer not to. I got it all today. I just concentrate on getting the guy out. I don't think of competing for a job."

Former Reds' ace Aaron Harang followed Bauer. The 35-year old is also competing for the starting rotation after pitching for Seattle and the New York Mets last season.

"When you get out in game situations, you've got to get it done," Harang said. "I've been doing this long enough. I don't think about competing. I'm just out there building myself up for the season and leave the rest up to the manager and coaches."

Alfredo Simon pitched two scoreless innings for Cincinnati. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for Cincinnati the last two years, but is being considered as a starting in case. Mat Latos isn't ready to start the season. Latos had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on February 14.

 "I worked on my two-seamer and it was pretty good," said Simon. "It felt good to be a starter.  It has been a long time."

 Simon started 16 games for Baltimore in 2011.


Johnny Cueto failed to make three consecutive starts last season but showed up in camp in good shape.

"Johnny is not Broxton or Latos, who are coming off surgery, but there will be a collective sigh of relief when he leaves camp healthy," Price said.  "He hasn't had any issues in throwing and fieldcing drills. It was a new injury that lingered last year," Price said.

 Latos and Jonathan Broxton continue to progress. Both had elbow surgery, though Latos' was minor.  Latos also had a torn left meniscus repaired but he has already thrown one bullpen. "My best guess is that I will throw another one next weekend," Latos said.

Indians infielder David Cooper is 100 percent recovered from a unique surgical procedure performed by Dr. Curtis Dickman of the Barrow Neuroligical Institute in Phoenix. Cooper was suffered an injury from sliding into first base head first as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays on August 22, 2012. The dive which caused an injury that seamed minor at the time but led to a spinal chord injury that threatened his career. Cooper started for the Indians Wednesday. He was 0-for-1 with a walk in his first action since the injury.

Reds reliever Trevor Bell is the grandson of Bill Bell, who was Bozo the Clown on radio in the 1950's. Bell, trying to win a spot in the Reds' bullpen pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Donald Lutz, who is also known as Heir Lutz, hit a line drive that split the outfielders and made it to the wall.  The 6'3" 250 lb. giant of a man, turned up the burners and slid into thirdbase with a triple.  Lutz was with the Reds when Heisey was injured last season.  The Reds sent him to the Mexican League which is famous for breaking ball pitchers, to work on his weakness.

The Reds and Indians share Goodyear Ballpark. They will meet again Thursday and Friday with Cincinnati designated as the home team on Thursday. The Indians send Justin Masterson against Johnny Cueto Thursday. Homer Bailey, who signed a six-year $105 million contract extension last week, pitches for the Reds against Josh Tomlin on Friday.

Bryan Price Meet Bryan Price

Bryan Price has been on the job for two weeks as manager of the Cincinnati Reds.  He is not a household name.
Reds/ manager Bryan Price

He is also not the only Bryan Price in Goodyear.

Bryan Price Indians.

The Cleveland Indians have a right-handed pitcher in their camp with the same name and spelling.

The younger Price has the same unusual spelling of his first name. The Indians' Price was a first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox out of Rice University in 2008.

Manager Price didn't make the major leagues as a left-handed pitcher but is aware of the younger Price.

"I saw the name and looked him up," the Reds' manager said.  "He had a good year."

The 27-year old Texan was 2-3 with a fine 2.04 ERA in 46 relief appearances at Akron and Columbus.

There have been baseball cards that fans wanted signed mistakenly sent to the office of the Reds' manager.

"I had to send them back," said manager Price.

When told of this, the Indians' hurler laughed and told a reporter, "Just have him sign them.  I use a big loopy B then a squiggle and a big loopy P and a squiggle.  He'll get it. I haven't met him but when people in baseball have the same name, you get to know about them fast."

The Reds' manager would like to meet the Indians' pitcher.  They will have a chance to meet as the Reds and Indians meet four more times this spring.

New Replay Rules Explained Game Times Suffer

Look for Reds' manager Bryan Price on camera frequently this season.

Price went to a meeting, run by Joe Torre, executive vice president of baseball operations for Major League baseball.
Joe Torre

The subject was the new rules for instant replay reviews. Price explained the new rules and how it fits into the game strategically.

Each team will have two challenges before the seventh inning.  Umpires will allow each manager time to argue close plays, allowing the manager to get advice from a "replay coach".  There will be no red rosin bag, al-la the NFL.  Manager's will merely ask the umpire for a review.

There will be five spring games to practice the on-field logistics for review, however, there will not be any reviews actually performed.  The five games the Reds will be involved are: March 9 at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, March 17 versus Cleveland, March 24 versus Cleveland, March 26 at the White Sox and March 27 at Milwaukee.

"The thing that I appreciated most were the breakdown of most commonly missed plays," Price said.

According to MLB studies the most missed call is the force play.  Of the missed calls 46 percent are force plays.  Rounding out the top three are tag plays and stolen bases.

"The other part is the philosophy of when to use the first challenge, as well as what is a challengeable call or what isn't," Price said.  "The difference between a trap play in front of an infielder or behind an infielder is an example."

Price, like every manager, will need to learn the philosophy of when to use the first challenge. There will be a delay between the video room to make contact with the dugout on calls that are most likely to be overturned.

"It will be the grey area ones, that aren't definite.  You have to make the decision on when to take that risk," Price said.

Price sited an example.

"You have the eight hole hitter up, bang bang play at first. He's called safe. You say okay but the pitchers spot is up. They're not going to hit for him. The pitcher gets jammed and floats one over the firstbaseman's head, then the leadoff hitter comes up and hits a three-run homer," Price said. "The replay may be inconclusive, but if you'd have given it a shot, you could have avoided the situation. Yet, the situation itself seems so benign, runner at firstbase with two outs and the pitcher up. These situations are inevitably going to come up where you say, boy, I wished I would have used the challenge then.  Baseball people will understand that at times you are going to get burned by not using your challenge."

The result will be one more reason to second-guess the manager.

The MLB meeting revealed that there is a missed call one every six games on average. Once every 12 games there is going to be a call that goes against a particular team.  There are two missed calls in the same game, once every 90 games.

"My initial thought was if that's the case, and we have the technology, why make it a strategical decision," Price said.  "Why not correct the call there?  Especially if it could do that over the course of 15 to 20 seconds, when there is going to be some time before the next batter comes to the plate.  I don't know if it is part of the interaction between the manager and the umpire, if that's considered part of the entertainment they'd like to keep. There are so few missed calls.  Why not get the calls right?"

The rules state that both teams need to have the exact same setup.  The video feeds to both home and visitor clubhouse must be simultaneous.

The Reds are also debating how they will administer the video room internally.

"Any close play, if you have any disagreement you have the ability to discuss it," Price said.  "In that time, have your video people let me know what they think.  Now if you're proactive, you have to have someone you trust making a decision.  We are discussing our protocols now.  Everything is going to come to Jay (Bell) to me and the video room to Jay."

"The umpires are going to give us time to express our displeasure but at some point they are going to ask us if we want it reviewed or not. The point Joe Torre made was there are so few missed
calls. You really have to appreciate what a high leverage position looks like.  The problem is you don't know what that is.  It may be a third out call in the first inning that leads to a two-out rally."

Price expects changes along the way.

"I think it will be an evolutionary process.  When they see changes need to be made, they will make them," Price said.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Talk Is Cheap Unless You're Pete Rose

There is another Pete Rose book being released on March 11.

This one was not written by Rose or a Rose assigned co-conspirator for purjury.

The Business Courier's Steve Watkins wrote the following edition published this morning.
(clik below)

Watkins contacted Rose publicists and was told that Rose requested $500.00 for a 10-minute interview.  I hope he and his mouthpiece remember the next time he is looking for free publicity through the media.  I for one would have to charge him to speak to me.  I doubt that I would want to talk to him about anything.  I prefer people who tell the truth.

Rose followers claim baseball was better in Rose's day.  They say the players from his era didn't play for the money. How naive.  If we use Rose to define players of his era, which would be patently unfair, money is all they played for.

I have no problem with Homer Bailey negotiating an $105 million contract.  It is an arm's length transaction.  It is also true that Rose has the right to speak or not speak with the press or anyone else.

Just don't try to sell me Rose as a baseball ambassador.  I'm not buying.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Oak Hill's Bender Catching Fish and Hitters With Hook

Joel Bender has been working in Arizona for over a month.

The 6'3", 22-year old graduate of Oak Hills high school is enthusiastically working on pitching in the major leagues.  He releases any stress involved by fishing with his teammates.

His curve ball or "hook" as its informally known in baseball is the way he gets hitters out.  His fishing hook has been just as successful as his facebook page has some trophy catches on them.

"I am working hard on a change up," said Bender, whose speech pattern speeds up  when he talks baseball.  "Last year I started to throw it more.  I was hitting both sides of the plate with it.  As I got tired later in the season, my arm slot dropped a little.  When hitters know the count you like to throw it and they have faced you a few times, they can pick it up."

Bender has been under the watchful eyes of the Reds' developmental staff, including the Dayton Dragon's pitching coach, Tony Fassas who had a nasty breaking pitch.

"I was getting a lot of swings and misses with it," Bender said.  "Before I would get a lot of foul balls with it."

The lefthander did some self experimentation in the bullpen and re-discovered a pitch he threw as an Oak Hills Highlander.  He drops down and gets a sweeping breaking ball similar to Bronson Arroyo's sweeping slider.

"I started throwing the change up that I threw in high school and it had a huge break to it," Bender said.  "I tried it in a game. I thought why not?  Then the coach asked me what it was and we started working on it."

Bender is looking forward to this season. He believes that he will be going to High A Bakersfield, then hopes to be promoted to Pensacola.

"I know the California League is a hitters league, with short fences.  It is hot there and the teams are all around.  You commute but go home after road games," Bender said.

Bender was the Reds' choice in the 27th round.  He has a four-year head start on college players now coming out in the draft.

Alfredo Simon Will Start To Open Cactus League on Wednesday

The games start on Wednesday.

The Indians will be the home team against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.

Alfredo Simon will be the Reds' starter.  Johnny Cueto will pitch Thursday.  Homer Bailey will pitch Friday, also against the Indians.  Tony Cingrani will get his first spring start on Saturday. Mike Leake will start on Sunday.

Mat Latos is a little behind the rest because he had elbow surgery in October and arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on February 14.

The Reds are thinking about stretching Simon out to start in case Latos has a setback and is not ready for the season.

"Simon has a starter's background. His arm is very, very durable," manager Bryan Price said. "Simon throws strikes.  We are going to stretch him out.  We know he can work out of the bullpen. We will back him off later in camp, if we don't need him to start."

Simon hasn't started a game in two years but would like a chance to start.

Simon was 3-8 as a starter with Baltimore. He had a 4.96 ERA over 94 1/3 innings. Simon made seven quality starts. Baltimore scored three or fewer runs in eight of his starts.

"I'm ready to go," Simon said. "It know it has been two years that I have started a game, but if I get the opportunity, I'm going to show Bryan Price that I can be a starter."

The Reds signed Jeff Francis and Chien-Ming Wang to add depth to the starting rotation.  Cincinnati traded for David Holmberg for the same reason but Simon would fill in temporarily without forcing a major roster move.

The pride of McKenzie, Tennessee, Drew Hayes is schedule to work on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Reds will face Trevor Bauer and old friend Aaron Harang on Wednesday.

Reds Coaxing Scott Rolen Out Of Retirement

First-year manager Bryan Price wants the Reds to get back to their aggressive ways on the basepaths.

Price pointed out how the Reds won a lot of games in 2010 with aggressive baserunning.  He pointed out that Scott Rolen led them.  The Reds went first to third one singles more times than any team in baseball.  Rolen was a leader on that team.

Rolen retired after the 2012 season to spend more time at home with his wife and children.

Price revealed the Reds' interest in Rolen's return as a coach.

"We want Scott to be part of our organization," Price said.
 "His presence is a positive thing.  Scott would be an outstanding influence.  We made an effort to bring him in and keep him involved with the Reds."

Rolen is receptive to the Reds' offer since it would not be a full time commitment.  He wants to stay home with his family.

"We're not sure where he would fit in," Price said.  "Scheduling is the biggest challenge. He is making a strong commitment to being a dad and a husband.  There is going to be a way to make it work."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mat Latos Is Making Progress

Mat Latos ran through agility drills, pitcher's fielding practice during which he backed up bases.

The righthander had two surgeries since October.  Dr. Timothy Kremchek removed loose bodies from Latos elbow in October.  Latos had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on February 14.

"I had a full workout, or almost full," Latos said.  "I felt a little sore but that is to be expected. I was pushing off during the agility drills.  Everything went good."

Latos had his stitches removed and wants to see how he feels tomorrow.  He doesn't want to put a timetable on his return.

"I don't want to rush back and have a setback.  Everything is fine.  There was a little swelling in the knee after the exercises but a little ice will take care of that," Latos said.  "My goal is to wake up tomorrow and do the same thing I did today."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Reds Will Run More In 2014

Bryan Price wants the Reds to be aggressive on the basepaths.

Billy Hamilton at the top of the order, automatically increases the Reds aggressiveness.

"We are going to open things up in spring training," Price said.  "One way to find out where we need to improve, is to give these guys more responsibility and freedom to see what they do with it.  It creates more of dialogue between the coaches and the players."

Price wants to find out where his players are in respect to baserunning.

"Whether it is choosing the best time to run, situational baserunning, holding runners, you find out where they need to focus.  Until you give them the freedom to do it, you don't find out who needs the extra work or who is more adept than we are giving them credit for."

Price wants to get more production from the bottom of the batting order.

"We have a couple guys, (Zach) Cozart and (Todd) Frazier, who are capable base stealers," Price said. "We want to create more opportunities to once we get past (Jay) Bruce in the order."

Friday, February 21, 2014

Forget Who Bats Second and Third, Price Sees Six - Eighth Can Add Runs

Every couch in Cincinnati has an "batting order expert" on it these days.

"Bat Joey Votto second," They scream.

First year Reds' baseball manager, like Dusty Baker before him knows that the best spot in the batting order for Votto is the three hole.  Ask any professional baseball man and you will get that same answer.  Since their jobs depend on it, unlike the guy on the couch with nachos and a beer, Joey Votto will bat third.

Bryan Price believes the potential for more offense this season will more likely come from the bottom part of the batting order.

Borrowing a college basketball term, three "juniors" will likely be the key to the Reds' offense in 2014.

Todd Frazier sixth, Devin Mesoraco seventh and Zach Cozart eighth, have the potential after a "sophomore" seasons of adjustments.

"I think we'll be a little more aggressive as far as stealing bases goes," Cozart said.  "I didn't have one attempt last year. We will make mistakes but Bryan doesn't want us to play tentative."

Frazier thrived in a fill-in role in his first full season in 2012. The 28-year old hit .273 with 19 home runs and 115 RBI in 128 games, while subbing for Votto and Scott Rolen.  His production dropped in 2013 as a starter.  Frazier managed to hit 19 home runs again but it took him 150 games to do it and he had a month long homer drought that coincided with a 0-for-31 slump.

Cozart was expected to bat lower in the order last season but was pressed into the two hole when Brandon Phillips moved to cleanup to cover for Ryan Ludwig's shoulder injury.  Also a 28-year old, Cozart needed a late-season surge to improve his average from .246 to .254.  Playing in 13 more games than he did in his rookie season in 2012, he hit seven fewer extra-base hits.  He did have a bump in RBI from the 35 that he produced from the seventh spot in 2012 to the 63 that he had from the two spot in 2013. Cozart also led the league in sacrifice hits (13) and sacrifice flies (10).

"Think there is more in the tank," Cozart said.  "Last year I hit .200 in May and June. I felt better at the end of season."

Cozart's spot in the batting order neither had no effect.

"I don't think I put a lot of pressure on myself in the two hole.  I just wasn't hitting at the time.  I tried to bunt more and it just happened that I had a lot of sacrifice hits.  I drove in more runs because I had more opportunities lower in the order.  I learned to hit with runners in scoring position," Cozart said.

(Clik to see Cozart in batting practice)

Mesoraco, 25, caught 103 games and showed improvement by hitting .238 with nine home runs and 42 RBI.  He hit .212 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 54 games in 2012.

"The bottom third of our lineup is big for our ballclub," Price said.  "You can't continue to expect the middle of the lineup to carry you the entire season.  They (Frazier, Cozart and Mesoraco) have the most room to improve.  I have spoken to all three.  They know what is expected."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Billy Hamilton Does Nothing Slow

The headline in this post may be the first and only time that "Billy Hamilton" and the word "slow" appear on the same page.

Three reporters spotted Hamilton at his cubicle from across the Reds' clubhouse this morning and made a move to talk to him.  Before they could even take a step in his direction, he was gone.

The reporters waited like Wile E Coyote waited for the Roadrunner.

Hamilton stopped to talk.

"I do everything fast," Hamilton said with words coming rapidly.  "I talk fast.  I eat fast. I want to get everything done.  I'm very impatient."

There was concern about rushing the 23-year old base-pilferer from Taylorsville, Mississippi to the major leagues, but that's just how he likes it.

Hamilton arrived in Goodyear in January after playing a second season in the Puerto Rican Winter League.  He played in 17 games for Santurce, hitting .227 with three doubles and a triple.  Hamilton struck out 12 times and walked six.  He was on base a total of 23 times and attempted steals on 13 occasions, successfully in 11 of them.

"Puerto Rico was fun.  I enjoyed. I learned. The main thing was to get at bats and become a better lead-off hitter," Hamilton said.

When he was finished in Puerto Rico, he sped to Goodyear to work with Delino Deshields, who stole 463 bases in his own career.

"I have been working on bunting, my defense," Hamilton said..  "He (Deshields) has helped me with being a good lead-off hitter.  The stuff he told me are stuck in my head.  I'm looking forward to using them. Most of the tips were a lot of guy to guy, the mental part of the game."

Hamilton believes his September experience with the Reds helped him.

"It gave me confidence," Hamilton said.  "It was fun.  I heard the crowd but it wasn't distracting. It was unreal."

Hamilton has an extraordinary skill that can even evoke awe with opposing players but most just congratulate him.

'I wasn't on first base long enough to have a conversation," Hamilton said.  "Kelton Wong was one of the first to congratulate me.  He congratulated me on my first hit. He was the one that caught the ball. I followed him since I started at Dayton and he started with Quad City for the Cardinals."

Bryan Price praised Hamilton's work ethic.

Price said, "I just want him to stay with his strength and keep his eyes and ears open.  Billy is already that guy. His outfield play has improved is getting better.  He just needs to continue to evolve."

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Details Of Homer Bailey's Contract Revealed

Homer Bailey is a rich man.

The Reds structured a unique contract to keep the 27-year old right-hander, who has authored two no-hitters, around until at least 2019 and also 2020, if both parties agree.

The Reds will pay Bailey $3 million during the 2014 season and $6 million after season-ticket money arrives in November.

Thereafter, the compensation is broken down to:

2015 $4 million - $6 million
2016 $11 million - $7 million
2017 $12 million - $7 million
2018 $14 million - $7 million
2019 $15 million - $8 million

The mutual option for 2020 is for $25 million with a $5 million buyout, according to an Associated Press report.

If he pitches for the Reds through 2020, he is will earn $120 million.  If the Reds do not pick up his option, he will be paid a total of $105 million.  There is no "no-trade" clause.  If Bailey is traded, the team he goes to must pay him the full amounts during the season.

The Reds felt it was important to keep a player that they drafted and developed.

"We came to agreement late yesterday afternoon when everything was finalized," Reds' general manager Walt Jocketty said.  "We are very excited about it and pleased.  It is important in our organization to reward players that have earned this type of respect, with a contract to keep them part of the organization for a long time.  He's worked hard.  He's overcome a lot of obstacles.  He has grown a lot since I've been here and matured into one of the best pitchers in the game today."

The Reds' young starting rotation is beginning to reach its prime and Bailey is a key part.

"Pitching is very import to this organization and our philosophy of winning with pitching and defense," Jocketty said.  "We feel Homer will anchor our organization for a number of years to come and help us win championships."

Bailey sees this core group of Reds' players winning in the future.

"I thank this man right here (Jocketty) and Mr. Castellini for putting faith in me," Bailey said.  "When you take a look across our organization, you see a lot of good things; our ownership group, our upper management, the coaching staff and this core group of players we have currently in Cincinnati and some coming up, show good signs of thing being good."

"I don't care how much money your making; winning and being competitive on the field says a lot about your happiness," Bailey said. "The way this organization is run day in and day out, says a lot and puts a lot of comfort for me."

Bailey began to think about his future early in the off-season.

"Once it was approached early in the off-season, it was a thinking process," Bailey said.  "The first thing I did when Bryan (Price) was announced manager, I called him.  I asked him, 'Where are we going?'  What are we trying to do here?  If it's a thing where we're sneaking into third place with a very talented team, I don't want to be a part of that. I want to be part of winning divisions, going deep in the playoffs, and being competitive every year.  Just talking with him, it seems that that's the goal of this organization."

There was thought that Bailey was not happy in Cincinnati.

"I have never seen where I was quoted saying that," Bailey said.  "It is what it is.  I've been traded four times already and I'm still in a Reds' uniform.  That's kind of the same thing."

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Watch A $100 Million Pitcher Throw A Bullpen

A $100 million pitcher throws a bullpen session.  Homer Bailey signed a six-year contract extension on Wednesday.



Homer Bailey Signs A Six -Year Extension

The Reds and Homer Bailey can now cancel their arbitration hearing.

Bailey signed  a six-year, $105 million contract a day before his scheduled arbitration hearing.

Bailey was the Reds' final player in arbitration. The 27-year-old pitcher made $5,350,000 last season. He asked for $11.6 million arbitration and the Reds offered $8.7 million, their biggest gap with one of their arbitration-eligible players.

The deal announced Wednesday includes a $25 million mutual option for 2020.

The hard-throwing Texan went a career-best 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 2012, completing his breakthrough season by throwing a no-hitter in Pittsburgh. He threw the 16th no-hitter in franchise history last June, a 3-0 win over San Francisco at Great American Ball Park. Bailey went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA last year.

The Reds haven't been to arbitration with a player since 2004 when they won a case with Chris Reitsma.  The last time the Reds lost a case in arbitration was in 2001 when Sean Casey won over Jim Bowden in 2001.

Below is the Reds' recent history with arbitration according to Jamie Ramsey.


Beat Chris Reitsma


Beat Bruce Chen


Beat Danny Graves

Beat Osvaldo Fernandez

Lost to Sean Casey


Beat John Hudek


Lost to Joe Oliver


Lost to Bip Roberts


Beat Greg Swindell

Beat Glenn Braggs


Beat Randy Myers

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Lost to Danny Jackson


Beat John Franco


Beat Ted Power


Lost to Dave Van Gorder

Beat Eddie Milner


Lost to Paul Householder

Beat Joe Price


Lost to Joe Price

Lost to Mario Soto

Beat Bruce Berenyi


Lost to Tom Hume

Lost to Mario Soto

Beat Frank Pastore


Beat Dave Collins

Beat Paul Moskau

Beat Mike Vail


Lost to Dave Collins

Lost to Ray Knight

Bryan Price Covers 2014 Lineup

It seems that every Reds' fan wanted the Reds to shake up their lineup last year.

They felt the lineups that manager Dusty Baker put out every day were somehow deficient.

Although it is way too early in spring training, with the position players reporting today, Price did reveal what he was thinking but also stated it was wide open to change.

Roger Bernadina will be in later this evening due to travel difficulties.

"I wouldn't read too much into the lineups in early spring," Price said.

The lineup will likely look like this:

Billy Hamilton
Brandon Phillips
Joey Votto
Jay Bruce
Ryan Ludwick
                                                      Todd Frazier
                                                      Devin Mesoraco
                                                      Zach Cozart

"I don't feel, especially against a right-handed starter, we have to concern ourselves with the back-to-back left-handed hitters.  We hope to jump out to the point we don't have to worry about lefty, lefty. I think Jay (Bruce) is that prototype cleanup hitter who is getting better.  We can get him several more at-bats. There are worse lineups than having those two back to back.   That being said, against a left-handed pitcher we could change," Price said.

The new focus. rather than the top and middle of the batting order, is getting more production from the bottom of the order.

"The focus is extracting more from Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco and Zach Cozart.   The dynamics of our team is in place.  The ceiling for those guys is as big as anything," Price said.

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Ryan Ludwick Ready For Middle Of The Order

Ryan Ludwick's head-first slide on Opening Day 2013 cost him an entire season at 100 percent efficiency.

The 35-year old played in just 38 games.

"I don't plan on sliding head-first anytime soon," Ludwick said.  "I feel great. I feel so good. Don't get me wrong, if I put my shoulder in the wrong position, my shoulder is a little cranky, but it's one of those positions that I don't get into.  If I was a pitcher and had to really crank, it would be a different story. With hitting mechanics, fielding, the shoulder doesn't bother me."

Ludwick feels stronger than he did when he came back late last season.

"I did my normal winter workout," Ludwick said.  "People don't realize that I couldn't do any bench presses, lat pulldowns, bicep or tricep work.  All I could do was strengthen my shoulder.  My shoulder was strong but the rest of my body was kind of weak."

Ludwick was missed last season for more than his run production.

"It was a pretty noticeable difference (in our offense) between 2012 and 2013.  We saw what we were missing when he was out," Reds' manager Bryan Price said.  "We missed him in the middle of the order that could help with run production.  There wasn't enough time for him to get back to mid-season form.  He brings a lot more than just run production.  He brings energy. He works hard on his defense.  He is a great teammate."

Sitting was tough on Ludwick too.

"There were times that I couldn't turn on the TV when they were on the road, because I couldn't be a part of it.  It made me sick to my stomach," Ludwick said.  "I knew my power wasn't going to be what it was going to be what it should when I got back.  There were balls that I really hit that just barely made the warning track.  Now, I feel I can mis-hit a ball and it will still go out."

Ludwick has always driven in runs and thinks that the injury may have positive consequences.

"I think it might have made me a better hitter.  We'll see.  We're going to find out.  You go with what you've got.  I finally really, really beared down in that playoff game.  I tried to stay short with my swing.  I had a pretty good game at the end.  Hopefully, it gave me a pretty good parachute for a two-strike approach.  Maybe I can make more contact."

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Business Courier Steve Watkins On Homer Bailey Signing

Steve Watkins of the Business Courier wrote about Homer Bailey's signing.

See Watkins article below:


Homer Bailey is in Goodyear with his hearing still scheduled for tomorrow, 20th of February.

His agent at this moment is still preparing for the hearing but in case the final details are not worked out.

Homer Bailey Signs But With Topps 2014

Topps 2014 series 1
Homer Bailey was seen signing a contract today but it was not with the Reds.

David Reel made his annual trip from his Mason, Ohio home to ink the Reds' players to the standard contract for using their likeness on the Topps baseball card.

Each player no matter, what their stature, get the same amount of money.  Daniel Corcino will be paid the same as Homer Bailey or Clayton Kershaw.

Topps Series One is out with 330 cards; an average of 10 players per team.

"Some teams will have more than others," Reel said.

There will be a mid-season edition with another 330 cards for a total of 660 for the season.

"There could be 661, if there is a sensational rookie," Reel said.  "If we get (Masahiro) Tanaka signed, he could be added."

The total does not include "Relic" and "Autograph" cards one of which one will be included in each pack.

Corky Miller spent the pre-meeting morning opening pack after pack of cards.

One of the cards was a Gus Bell 1959 card that Miller promptly gave to clubhouse manager Rick Stowe.

"I'm going to show it to David and Mike (Bell's grandsons)," Stowe said.  "It is on the wall of my office."

This years' edition will contain 10 cards.  The special cards, rookie cards of now-prominent players, the older edition cards that ended up in so many bicycle spokes, team cards, autographed cards, etc. have been placed in the packs at random.

Votto 2014 Topps Card
Reel handed me a stack of Reds' cards which included Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton, Aroldis Chapman, Chris Heisey, Alfredo Simon, Johnny Cueto, Donald Lutz, Jonathan Broxton, Jay Bruce, Jack Hannahan and Mike Leake.  Leake's card showed him swinging a bat. There are also two cards for Chapman with different pictures.  Derrick Robinson and Xavier Paul cards are also shown with the players in Reds' uniform.   Paul signed with Baltimore and Robinson is a free agent.

Reel also gave me a pack to open. It contained Wilmer Flores of the Mets, Manny Machado of the Orioles, Ben Revere of the Phillies, Chris Davis in a baseball highlights card, Jhonny Peralta with the Tigers, Hisashi Iwakuma of th Mariners, Rajai Davis of the Blue Jays, Andrew Lambo of the Pirates and Bronson Arroyo in a Reds' uniform.  He has since signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The specialty card was Felix Hernandez 2005 rookie card.

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